Franco Vazquez: This season’s Serie A revelation

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Franco Vazquez has been something of a revelation in Serie A this season. The 26-year old Argentine attacking midfielder is contributing to a fine season for his club Palermo, the Sicilian outfit sit tenth in the table – after achieving promotion from Serie B just last season.

He was bought to Sicily in 2011 to replace Javier Pastore, who was sold to PSG for approximately €23m that summer. While succeeding his fellow countryman was not an easy task, Vazquez is finally proving that he has the abilities and talent to take over the reigns.

Vasquez and attacking team mate Paulo Dybala have formed an outstanding partnership up front. To put it into perspective, Palermo have scored 38 league goals so far this season — these two players have been responsible for 35 of them.

Dybala has received most of the praise for Palermo’s terrific season thus far, but for me, Vasquez is equally as important to Giuseppe Iachini’s side.

Franco has notched up 7 goals and 9 assists so far this season.  When you compare those statistics to other top performers (in his position) in the league, it’s rather impressive. See the graphic below:

A wonderful performance against Napoli demonstrated what a talented young man Vasquez really is. He was unstoppable in that league game last month - he struck a superb goal and created another in their 3-1 victory over the Champions League chasing Napoli. Below are the highlights from that performance, in which Vazquez labelled himself as ‘the perfect performance’.

Still yet to represent Argentina, there is talk that Italy head coach Antonio Conte may call him up. Vasquez qualifies to represent Italy because his mother is from Padua (North East of Italy).  Franco is more than open to the idea;

“My mum would be delighted. But she always told me to do what I felt was best for me. She didn’t have to do any convincing. I’ve always said that I feel half Italian. My mum is from Padua and I’ve got lots of relatives there. It would be an honour.”

He then added,

“For me, he’s (Conte) one of the best coaches in the world. You don’t win three scudettos in a row by fluke. He emits such a motivational air, just like our club coach [Giuseppe Iachini]. If Conte asked, I would even play in midfield — I’ve done it at Palermo so of course I’d do it for the national team.”

Vazquez may get to do it in March when Italy face Bulgaria in a Euro 2016 qualifier. If his performances continue, Franco could find himself at a big club come next season.


Written by Serie A Writer

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Danny Ings: England cap not just yet in the offing, but the Burnley striker shows the talent to go far

Burnley’s 1-0 victory over Manchester City on Saturday evening gave the Lancashire outfit a real chance of staying in the Premier League against the odds in what would be an extraordinary achievement for Sean Dyche and his shoe-string assembled squad. A season that has seen them take points off Chelsea, Manchester United, Southampton and now the current title-holders has already made it a sensational campaign for the Clarets who may be about to see one of their players earn a cap for England for the first time since Martin Dobson in 1974.

Danny Ings faces solid competition from the likes of Harry Kane, Saido Berahino and Charlie Austin to be the new star in Roy Hodgson’s attack for the matches with Lithuania and Italy at the end of March but, despite having scored less than his rivals, his 9 Premier League goals are extremely hard to ignore. That is certainly the case with Real Sociedad, Newcastle, Everton, Arsenal, Liverpool and most recently Manchester United, all whom have expressed an interest in signing Ings once his contract expires in June.

Amid the rumours that have circulated since October which have told of Ings rejecting a new contract offer at Burnley, seeing a £4 million bid from Liverpool turned down in January and having signed a pre-contract deal with Real Sociedad, it has indeed been testament to the man-management skills of Dyche and the application of Ings that his performances have not suffered in the face of such rife speculation.

The 23 year old has missed just 3 league matches and although he’s rated as Burnley’s 6th best player by, his 9 goals, 4 assists and a rate of 1 chance created per game make Ings by far their biggest threat.

Both goals in the victory over Stoke, vital goals in draws with Newcastle and West Bromwich Albion and the winner over relegation rivals QPR have been indications to his cool-touch in-front of goal but many will point there is much more to his game than goal-scoring.

A player who is as comfortable turning with his back to goal and creating space between the lines as he is heading in a cross past David De Gea at Old Trafford, he is an intelligent reader of the game, one who operates with astute movement and a desire to run in behind defenders and in to space. Running is certainly something he does a lot of, both off the ball and on it, it was not a surprise to recently hear his manager saying that the striker can be “criticised for trying too hard.

His work in providing Ashley Barnes for his recent goal against West Brom is an insight into the striker’s ability; the look over his shoulder whilst anticipating the long ball, the clever feint of the shoulder and the movement to retrieve the follow-up. Then he displays the strength to hold off two defenders before finding Barnes in the centre with an improvised cross.

The link-up with Barnes, Scott Arfield and George Boyd, with whom he played off in the victory over City, has been superb at times this season, often more deserving than the 25 points from 18 games Burnley have accrued. His understanding with Sam Vokes in the build up to Ings’s goal against QPR is almost telepathic, a sign of a player perfectly in synch with his team-mates and thriving off their service.

After scoring 26 goals to fire Burnley into the Premier League last year Ings was named the club’s player of the year and he looks set to retain that accolade by scoring the goals that could well keep them there against all expectation. If he manages to achieve that, few will begrudge him his decision to end his four years at Turf Moor and pursue his ambitions elsewhere.

When it is announced on Thursday, Hodgson’s next England team could be too soon for Ings who is likely to stay in the under-21s, for whom he has 4 goals in 7 appearances, but if he continues on his current path many senior caps are sure to come.


Written by Adam Gray

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Sardar Azmoun: The Iranian Messi?


Iran haven’t always been rated as one of football’s superpowers, but the nation has been on a bit of a rise recently. A very promising 2014 FIFA World Cup campaign in Brazil was followed up by an impressive Asian Cup performance this year, as they made the quarterfinal stage after topping their group with nine points. Indeed that Asian Cup performance raised many eyebrows, as a certain 20 year old stood out from the crowd.

That 20 year old is Sardar Azmoun, a talented and rather slightly built forward who has been ruffling a few feathers in the Russian Premier League. After moving into football at the age of nine he was offered his first professional contract with local side Sepahan, and although he didn’t made an appearance for the first team he did win the national title in 2012.

Despite never actually taking to the field two time Russian champions Rubin Kazan saw enough to take a punt on the 17 year old, and that’s where his rise really did begin. In his first season in Kazan head coach Kurban Berdyev opted to train him up with the youth team, and he eventually made his first team debut in July 2013 in a UEFA Europa League qualifier.

His first goal didn’t take long to come either, as in just his second game against Molde he found the net. That persuaded Rubin to give him more playing time, and he slowly became a first team mainstay scoring in the Russian league for the first time in October of the same year.

His gradual progress was already attracting attention from all around Europe, as Rubin came out and publically stated that he wasn’t for sale despite offers from the likes of Arsenal and Internazionale. Newspaper reports in Britain have been touting him as the ‘Iranian Messi’, and while that may be a bit steep, you can see the comparisons.

Just like his Argentinian counterpart Azmoun has a low sense of gravity, and is exceptional with the ball at his feet. A perfect example is his wonder goal against Qatar in the Asian Cup group stages, where he quite beautifully twisted away from his marker. His raw technical talent has pushed him to the fore of Asian talent, and just in January this year Liverpool and Tottenham were rumoured to having offered Rubin £5 million for his services.

And then something rather strange happened. In late February Rubin decided that for whatever reason he would be sent out on loan to struggling Rostov, a team that are languishing in 16th and last place of the Russian league. Why? Even I am struggling to work this one out. In Russia it made very few headlines, as few seemed bothered by the move.

The only problem in his game though, and a potential reason for the loan deal, is his lack of goals. Yes, he’s full of talent and ability, but this campaign he has hit the target only once (and that was back in August 2014). Rubin are a team that traditionally struggle for goals, and they will be hoping that Sardar can start scoring with more regularity with Rostov.

Even the fact that Rubin were prepared to loan him out shouldn’t put off potential buyers. He is still only 20 years old, and those flashes of potential which we have seen have been enough to show what he is capable of. The main question for him is when to make the move abroad.

In Russia you can progress to a certain extent, but to realise his potential to the full a move to Western Europe will be needed. Some players though go either too early and get lost somewhere along the line, or opt to go too late when nobody wants them. His technical ability would suit a team like Arsenal perfectly, however his small frame would make it difficult to compete in such a physically demanding league.

This summer will surely see more offers coming up, and if the price is right, Rubin will have no other option than to give up their hottest talent. The only issues that remain are when the right time to go is, and where is the best place to let his talent flourish. Two issues that are going to decide how big he is going to become.


Written by Shaun Nicolaides

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Roberto Firmino: A Brazilian talent on the rise

Roberto Firmino Barbosa de Oliveira was born on October 2, 1991. The Hoffenheim attacking midfielder has proven himself as one of the most talented players in the Bundesliga and in the world. He made his move to the Blues from Figueirense on December of 2010. Firmino is a genuine playmaker who also has an eye for goal.

In the 2013-14 Bundesliga season, he finished joint fourth top goal scorer with 16 goals. He also made 12 assists making him joint- second best assist maker. This season is no different as he has scored 6 and assisted 7 goals in 23 appearances in the Bundesliga for his team.

The Brazilian has proven to be very crucial for his side in recent years. Because of this reason the big teams in Europe have shown interest in acquiring the service of the 23 year old. Most recently reports have been circulating that manager Arsene Wenger has made him his top priority to replace Santi Cazorla, who has been linked with a summer move to Spanish club Atletico Madrid.

Firmino is a versatile player who can also play on the wings or as a second striker. His formidable partnership with striker Kevin Volland has been the reason behind Hoffenheim’s amazing goal scoring glut in recent seasons.

On the 23rd October 2014, Firmino received his first call up to Brazil national football team for the friendly matches against Turkey and Austria. He made his debut in a 4–0 win over Turkey on November 12 from the bench, playing the last 17 minutes. And in his second game, Firmino scored his first goal on 23 October 2014.

It’s unlikely that Firmino will stay for a long time in Hoffenheim. His growing ability and immense potential haven’t gone unnoticed by Europe’s big teams and the recent price tag of 30 million Euros given by his team shows how valuable the player is. He is another talented Brazilian looking to make an impact on the big stage for both club and country.

We may or may not see him in the Bundesliga next season but one thing is for sure: he has a bright future ahead of him and he just might be the answer to the problems of Brazil’s national team.


Written by Brook Genene

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Lars Bender: Is the Leverkusen star the answer to Arsenal’s holding midfield dilemma?

Arsenal have long been searching for a defensive midfielder and recent rumors suggest that they are in pole position to sign Bayer Leverkusen’s Lars Bender.

The 25 year old German international and twin brother of Borussia Dortmund’s star Sven Bender has been enjoying a good spell at the Bay Arena attracting attention from major sides like Barcelona. But because of the transfer ban the Catalan side is facing, the Emirates seem to be the ideal destination for Leverkusen’s co-captain.

Lars Bender joined Bayer Leverkusen on August 18, 2009 from 1860 München. This season he has made 24 appearances in all competitions for Leverkusen scoring one goal and assisting two more, which is not bad for a defensive midfielder.

He has also helped his team progress to the last 16 stage of the UEFA Champions League in which they will face last year’s finalists Atletico Madrid and they are also fighting for a Champions League spot in the Bundesliga. Lars’ form and rise grabbed the attention of Germany’s national team manager Joachim Loew who handed him his international debut on September 6, 2021 and has since made 19 appearances, scoring four goals in the process.

Bender is a key player at the center of the pack for his team. His ability to drop back and help his central defenders alongside his amazing skill and composure with the ball makes him a good candidate for Arsene Wenger, who had to rely on youngster Francis Coquelin recently after Mathieu Flamini’s unreliable performances. It’s rumored that Wenger is willing to pay 22 million Euros in the summer for Bender.

Besides his ability with the ball, Bender is also a good team leader and never seems shy of making important decisions on the pitch. Also, his aggressive play and neat tackles can only help him settle into the Premier League quickly. That is probably why he is wanted by Arsenal and why he just might be the right signing for the North London club.


Written by Brook Genene

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Southampton: Plenty of cheer taken from Anfield for Koeman as the Saints’ new era gets underway

Ronald Koeman’s introduction to Premier League life would not have received the same extent of media examination as that of his former mentor Louis Van Gaal just 24 hours before him, but both the league’s two new Dutch coaches move on with similar problems but with very different campaigns lying in wait.

After Van Gaal, whom Koeman assisted at Barcelona, saw his Manchester United team lose 2-1 at home to Swansea, Koeman took Southampton to Liverpool where they lost by a similar score-line, but saw enough from a promising display to indicate the season ahead won’t be as tumultuous as first predicted. With Manchester United deeply ingrained in transition, Southampton are heading into a similar phase, albeit on an arguably much larger scale.

There is no demand for Champions League qualification or a significant improvement on the relative disaster of last year’s 7th place finish under David Moyes, but simply a request to remain in the Premier League and the access it grants to the new batch of eye-watering revenue streams. It’s a sizeable downscale in expectation for a side that finished 8th last season but one that follows a seismic summer of upheaval.

Citing an “irreconcilable rift” with club owner Katarina Liebherr, the resignation of Nicola Cortese in January sowed the seeds for a flurry of sales across a summer that now leaves the Saints almost unrecognisable from the side that bloomed under Mauricio Pochettino.

The innovative Argentinean coach is now at Tottenham and has since attempted to return to the south coast for Jay Rodriguez, last season’s top scorer, and Morgan Schneiderlin but has been met with stiff resistance, the club adamant that another name will not be added to an already bloated list of departures.

Following Pochettino out of the door have been the young defensive pair of Luke Shaw, to Manchester United for £27 million, and Calum Chambers who heads to Arsenal for £10 million.

Dejan Lovren, so solid alongside Jose Fonte for Southampton last year, was settling into his new home in the heart of Liverpool’s defence on Sunday as last season’s player of the year Adam Lallana watched on injured from the stands as his new side emerged victorious via Daniel Sturridge’s late flick. Rickie Lambert would emerge for a late cameo against the club he joined in League One in 2009.

Southampton recouped £48 million for the trio, but on Sunday afternoon the change in era was stark. Lovren was hailed by his new manager Brendan Rodgers for his fine display of distribution as well as for managing to keep Graziano Pelle, Lambert’s replacement, quiet.

Romanian Florin Gardos has been signed from Steaua Bucharest to take Lovren’s place but his absence at Anfield meant a spot for Maya Yoshida who appeared hesitant against the running of Raheem Sterling. Behind them the performance of Fraser Forster, signed from Celtic for £10 million, would have greatly encouraged Koeman as he looks for a more consistent alternative to Artur Boruc and Paulo Gazzaniga.

There was enough from the movement and flair of Dusan Tadic to suggest the Serbian will prosper in the Premier League after moving for £10.9 million from Twente, the 25 year old laying on a sublime back-heel for the excellent Nathaniel Clyne to rifle home an equaliser.

James Ward-Prowse and Steven Davis were both full of intelligent running and a fluid move created an opening for the Northern Irish midfielder but his tame shot was saved by Simon Mignolet. Ward-Prowse in particular impressed and the 19 year old is aware a big year looms as he steps up to replace Lallana.

“The new management team has come in and done very well and we have all warmed to them,” said the English midfielder. “He is different in terms of how he wants to play but all the lads are really thriving under him and looking forward to playing under him. It’s not as intense as the last regime.”

The response to Koeman was clear at Anfield as Southampton responded well to the new 4-4-1-1 system which encouraged the full-backs forward. Ryan Bertrand was solid on the left as he begins his loan spell from Chelsea while Nathaniel Clyne set about building on an impressive campaign last term with a stunning goal. The right-back’s over-eager positioning for Sterling’s opener however suggested there is work still to do.

The improvements and fine-tuning will be in Koeman’s mind over the coming weeks but this was a hugely promising base for the new coach to build on. Shane Long, a £12 million signing from Hull City who came on late on to miss a golden chance to equalise in the dying minutes, and Saphir Taider who comes to the club on loan from Inter Milan, will feature more prominently in the coming weeks. Pelle, who scored prolifically under Koeman at Feyenoord, will also be afforded considerable time to adapt to his new surroundings.

Koeman should also receive plaudits for his handling of Schneiderlin who after looking short of match-fitness in the first-half emerged in the second to take control of midfield and nearly snatched a point with a late drive that rattled the cross-bar. As Spurs maintain their interest, the attentions of the combative midfielder still, for now, seem to remain on the south coast.

“That was one of the messages we gave the boys. We played an impressive second half and that is how we like to play. If we play like that, I don’t think we will struggle”, said Koeman after the defeat, still full of optimism after inheriting a club in the midst of bedlam this summer and who he himself lampooned on Twitter shortly after taking charge. “Have a bet about that (relegation) with me and you will lose” Koeman said before the trip to Merseyside. On the basis of Liverpool’s narrow victory, few will be making that risk now.


Written by Adam Gray

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Alexis Sanchez: The Chilean stalwart will improve any side

It appears increasingly likely that Alexis Sanchez will be leaving Barcelona in this summer’s transfer window. Having spent three relatively successful years at the Catalan giants the impending arrival of Luis Suarez from Liverpool has seemingly left him surplus to requirements.

His arrival from Udinese in 2011 had been billed as somewhat of a coup at the time. His performances in Italy and for his national team, Chile, had alerted many of the major sides in Europe to his potential. An exceptionally quick player blessed with a sound technique was someone Barcelona thought would be immensely successful at the club.

However, the first couple of seasons were incredibly tough for him as Barcelona’s dominance begun to diminish. As well as settling into a side that were not performing as they had done in recent years he had to adjust to a new style of play. It knocked his confidence and unfortunately he spent most of the first season on the fringes of the team after struggling with a series of niggling injuries.

With the arrival of Tito Vilanova as head coach after the departure of Pep Guardiola it seemed that Sanchez would finally get a decent run of opportunities. However, it was only towards the end of that year that he really begun to make his mark and he scored some important goals towards the end of the season that saw Barcelona crowned as Champions.

It seemed that Sanchez was suffering from the same affliction that many other forward players have struggled with in recent seasons; the presence of Lionel Messi. A similar situation had befallen David Villa who despite doing well in his first season at the club never got much of an opportunity to play in his favoured role as striker. With almost their entire game based around the mercurial talent that is Messi the other forwards often felt marginalised and not as loved as the Argentine.

Rumours of Barcelona’s interest in Suarez really began to pick up speed just before the World Cup began a little under a month ago. Since then it has rumbled on but at the time of writing this it seems that the deal will be finalised in the coming days. With that in mind it almost guarantees Sanchez’s departure. At 25, he remains young enough to establish himself at another big club that will allow him to reach his potential.

He is an immensely committed player who always seems to perform at his optimum for the club when required. However, with much of the talk surrounding a move to Arsenal or Juventus it will be fascinating to see how the next stage of his career develops. He is clearly a character that needs to feel appreciated and despite playing second fiddle to Messi he remained reliable and dependable throughout his time at Barcelona.

If, as expected, he makes the move to Arsenal it will give the North London club some much needed quality in the final third of the pitch. His movement and link up play will certainly catch the eye and he will soon become one of the leading players in the league.


Written by Andy Hunter

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William Carvalho: Moyes could finally bolster United’s midfield with the Portuguese powerhouse

After David Moyes’s reign at Manchester hit the nadir of the 0-3 home defeat to Liverpool, the outlook has started to become a lot brighter for the Scottish manager who strains desperately for his team to produce indications that he is worth both the long-term patience and financial backing of the Glazer family.

Olympiakos were batted away 3-0 in the Champions League while West Ham were beaten with what was arguably United’s most cohesive and slick performance since the 50 year old succeeded Sir Alex Ferguson last summer.

The morning after Wayne Rooney’s double did for the Hammers at Upton Park, the Sunday papers were awash with the news United have already begun to plan for the future. Not since May 2007 have United signed a genuine holding midfielder, Ferguson forever on the sharp side of criticism for the folly of losing Paul Pogba to Juventus for free while his midfield problems were allowed to develop to the extent of a desperate call for Paul Scholes to undo his retirement in January 2012.

Scholes finally exited along with Ferguson at the age of 38, Moyes inheriting the uninspiring midfield of Michael Carrick, Tom Cleverley, the bowel-troubled Darren Fletcher and the 40 year old absurdity that is Ryan Giggs. Anderson has been since jettisoned to Fiorentina while Moyes, who spent the summer trawling for an dynamic presence in the form of Ander Herrera, Thiago Alcantara and Cesc Fabregas, had to settle for Marouane Fellaini who has since struggled to justify his £27.5 million fee.

The Belgian is however more of a box-to-box asset, a player more adept in advanced positions which leaves United short of steel in the engine room, a vulnerability that has been seized upon by more sides than Moyes wishes to remember in his inaugural year at Old Trafford.

Moyes’s other purchase has been the £37 million Juan Mata who adds to the glowing list of attacking options alongside Wayne Rooney, Robin Van Persie, the inexcusably under-used Shinji Kagawa and the exciting Adnan Januzaj.

Against West Ham, in the absence of Van Persie who had on Wednesday scored a hat-trick to steer United into the last eight of the Champions League, Mata, Kagawa and Rooney, together with Ashley Young, conjured up a bewitching attacking display tinted with fluid movement and guile to give United’s travelling fans a warm feeling of optimism that has this season been all to rare. It was an indication that fears United have lost some of their attacking verve during the transition from Ferguson to Moyes may be premature.

The back-pages of Sunday’s newspapers filled its inches with who they believe to be Moyes’s first signing of the summer, Sporting Lisbon’s 21 year old defensive midfielder William Carvalho, the player who will be tasked with holding United’s system together as well as protecting the defence should he complete the mooted £37 million deal which meets his release clause.

The move is rumoured to be completed after the World Cup where Carvalho, who has 2 caps so far for Portugal, is expected to rival Miguel Veloso for a starting spot, testament to the rapid rise of the Angola born midfielder who only made his professional debut for Sporting back in August.

It was in Portugal’s World Cup qualifying play-off against Sweden when he made his first senior appearance for the national team, entering the fray to shore up Paulo Bento’s midfield after Zlatan Ibrahimovic had scored twice in four minutes.

“His quality and recent performances justified the call, which also has to do with his height which could be an influent aspect in the match” said Bento who showed no aversion to thrusting the youngster into such pressure. Carvalho calmly sat and offered his defence protection as Cristiano Ronaldo sent the team to Brazil.

The Leoes are recovering from last season’s disappointing seventh place finish and a recent era of financial mismanagement and misplaced luxury buys, so have now altered their approach to the investment of home-grown talent.

All 3 members of Leonardo Jardim’s midfield trio has been produced by the club, Andre Martins and Adrien Silva operating either side of the anchor provided by Carvalho, who has racked up 23 appearances in his first season at senior level, as Sporting attempt to bring a viable challenge to Benfica’s charge to the Liga Sagres.

The touted fee of just under £40 million may seem hefty for a player whose valuation lies mostly in potential, but for the rate of development Carvalho has seen over the past 18 months, the price will be seen as justified for United who seek a holding-midfielder in the mould of Nemanja Matic or Yaya Toure who are both playing major roles in their respective team’s challenge to the Premier League title.

With a powerful core strength and an imposing six-foot build, Carvalho may be compared to the latter though it is the way he shuffles across his defensive zone, covering areas in front of his own defensive third allowing for team-mates to move up the field, will bring similarities to Matic.

Not a dynamic player who will sprint the ball out of his own half but a more considered one, specialising in the basics and keeping it simple, unselfishly allowing for the more attack-minded players to thrive with the shackles released.

Another young Portuguese prospect likely to go to Brazil with Bento’s OS Seleccao is Cedric Soares, the Lisbon right-back who has benefited greatly from the stability Carvalho has added in playing the neo-holding role where disciplined positional sense is just as important as tenacity.

Knowing Carvalho is able to cover if needed, Soares has often been free to advance down the right to provide another attacking option and that type of link-up will be important to Moyes, who has sent club officials to watch the midfielder over 15 times this season, as he seeks next season to implement a greater conviction in his United when going forwards.

Carvalho’s agent Jorge Mendes, who has previously taken Nani, Anderson and Cristiano Ronaldo as well as Bebe to Old Trafford, has been rumoured to have recently been invited to United’s training complex as a move nears closer to fruition amid a period of major upheaval at the club.

Moyes is said to be targeting a centre-half, a left-back and two central-midfielders as Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic head to the exit door and questions still remain over the future of Patrice Evra. Carvalho will usher in the first part of Moyes’s renovation work, the firm holding-midfielder that Ferguson perhaps should have acquired before he passed the reigns over.


Written by Adam Gray

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Why Some Football Fans Need to Get a Grip During Winter Transfer Windows

At the start of the new year came the mid-season chance for various football clubs to either improve their squads or offload those players that are lacking promise. The winter window is much different in tone from the summer window.

Pressure is often higher to make purchases to add quality to squads, something that is more readily taken advantage of by the selling teams. “Panic buys” occur when teams are so desperate for a player to fill certain roles that they often overpay to an embarrassing degree.

For fans this embarrassment only becomes relevant in the eventual aftermath. At the time, they are hounding their clubs to buy whoever just to say that a sale was made. Somehow the idea of participating in a transfer window at all is more important than the immediate need for a player of quality.

That’s why there are certain reasons these fans must calm down and understand exactly why the winter window should not be clouded by emotions.


Real Life is Not a FIFA Video Game

You would be amazed just how many adult fans who comment on the quality and state of their club compare it to their experiences playing a video game. They expect transfers to occur just like how it happened on their PlayStation console. They think hours and hours of gameplay is comparable to the education, experiences and millions of dollars routinely handled between actual football clubs.

It would be the same as a man walking into a business selling heavy duty packer cups and expecting to be able to perform any job based on one’s having read a company brochure.

The reality is that transfer window business isn’t easy. The results are not guaranteed to be satisfactory and during the winter window, it takes a great deal of wisdom and expertise to avoid being cheated.

Fans should trust the wisdom of those who’ve shown themselves capable at their jobs and remember that they are on the outside looking into someone else’s business establishment.


A Name Does Not make an Outstanding Transfer 

During the 2010-2011 season, Liverpool FC had an unusual winter transfer window. They sold then star player Fernando Torres to Chelsea FC for £50 million and spent record amounts on players Luis Suarez at £22.8 million and Andy Carroll for £35 million.

Of the three, Torres was the biggest name and certainly the biggest price tag. That would make some fans automatically expect such a player to be an outstanding part of a team. However, Torres struggled at Chelsea and has yet to match the rate of success he experienced as a Liverpool player.

Andy Carroll had a lackluster time at Liverpool, was sent out on loan and was eventually traded. His spell was marred by injuries.

The best money spent out of the three players was Luis Suarez, who despite absences over controversies has managed to settle in as a player and break club and league records. His transfer also involved the least amount of money spent.

What this transfer window showed is that overspending for players based on big names and desperation doesn’t necessarily end well. This is an error that has cost football clubs millions of dollars and resulted in massive disappointments.

Football fans, the winter window is indeed an important chance for your particular club to spend money and get a better player or make money through offloading certain players. As simple as that is to say, however, the process is hardly simplistic. The outcome is also hardly predictable.

Clubs can better benefit from the support of fans who do not attempt to dictate club behavior through what they think they know rather than reality. It is also best to take a deep breath and feel disappointed that your club didn’t spend big money on a big name.

You never know, that immediate disappointment may manifest in relief in a few months when it turns out avoiding a winter window panic buy was the right move.


Michael is a full-time blogger who has passions in all corners of the online world. In his down time he enjoys being outdoors, traveling, and blogging on everything from technology, to business, to marketing, and beyond. Follow him on Twitter or Google+.

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Arsenal: The Gunners need Marco more than they need Julian

Julian Draxler - the German Wünderkind who has been heavily speculated to swap shirt from FC Schalke 04’s blue to Arsenal’s red and white - looks likely to prolong his stay at the Gelsenkirchen as Arsène Wenger brought all speculations to a close, as reported by the Metro.

“It looks unlikely that we will sign anyone. We are not close to anything”.

It looks clear that Arsenal won’t be doing business this January. Yet with several days remaining before the transfer window is officially closed, anything can still realistically happen. And as we all know with the Frenchman, anything can happen and has a tendency of (intentionally) misleading the fans when it comes to transfer links.

Often enough Wenger has successfully surprised us by completing the transfers of some virtually unknown young players and making some big name signings on the deadline day. As we start to lose hope, then boom! Wenger makes a miracle happen, and it happened when we least expected it.

When I heard the rumor for the first time, I couldn’t hide my excitement. Draxler is good and he’s still very young. There’s so much room from improvement. No doubt about it. I would love to see him in Arsenal shirt. I really do. But Arsenal doesn’t have the unlimited amount of transfer funds. They can’t just splash big amount of money to get whoever they want.

Let’s say that Arsenal can only do one big-money signing. Rather than Draxler, I prefer to see Marco Reus completing a switch to the Emirates. Yes, Marco Reus of Borussia Dortmund.

As last year’s Premier League campaign closed to its end I wrote an article for an Indonesian website, titled “Mengapa Marco Reus adalah Sosok yang Tepat untuk Akhiri Puasa Gelar Arsenal” or, in English, “Why Marco Reus is the Key to End Arsenal’s Premier League Trophy Drought”.

Marco Reus. Of all the best performers from last season, I picked Reus to be Arsenal’s messiah. The missing piece of Arsenal puzzle. Not Cristiano Ronaldo, not Franck Ribéry, not even the messiah himself; Lionel Messi. I picked Reus because I thought that he fits so well in the way Arsenal play their football. He’s also a humble player who puts the team’s goal over personal achievement. But above all, it’s Arsenal’s and Reus’ tendencies that make him the messiah for Arsenal.

Last season, Arsenal had the tendency to finish the game as a victor if they scored the first goal of the game. Interestingly, in the same time span, more often than not we saw Reus’ name as the game deadlock-breaker.

As I wrote the piece on the 24th of April last year, Arsenal had recorded twenty-six wins and twenty of which was claimed with the Gunners being the first team to score. Wenger’s men suffered eleven losses and in ten of them, their opponents were always the quickest to find the back of the net. It is fair to say that Arsenal didn’t too well on the back foot.

For Reus himself, last season, he scored twenty-one goals in sixteen different games for Dortmund and the Die Mannschaft. In those matches, he broke the deadlock in all but two matches, which could prove to be handy for the Gunners.

Everything’s different now. It really is. Arsenal is no longer that team that plays nervously if they concede first. Reus isn’t enjoying the same season as he did last term. However, if Wenger decided to add Reus to the team he’s currently having, I would still see it as a good move.

Reus is the type of player that can fit well at any big club. His versatility, gifted ability, constant movement, technique, array of finishing options, burgeoning pedigree, Arteta-like perfect hair and great mental strength make him a lovely fit for the North London side.

He, in some ways, can prove to be Arsenal’s messiah.


Written by Taufiq Nur Shiddiq

Follow Taufiq on Twitter @nurshiddiq

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