Tuesday, December 25, 2012

What can Sneijder offer to Tottenham?

Sneijder has been linked with a move out of San Siro in just about every transfer window in the previous 3 years, but it looks as though he could finally make an exit from Italy after serving the Nerazzurri for 3 and a half seasons, though he only featured 6 times this term.

Dutchman has gotten into a dispute with club directors over his wages, as they tried to reduce his annual salary from €6M to €4M, though Sneijder didn't share the same vision and has since been frozen out and told he would not feature for the club until he accepts the wage reduction.

With just a week away from the beginning of January transfer window, various reports from Italy have emerged linking Sneijder to Premiership, but this time, his suitor is not Sir Alex, who followed Sneijder for quite some time now and has agreed a deal with Inter at one point, but the deal never materialized due to wage demands. Now appears that London-based club, Tottenham Hotspur, is close to signing the ex-Ballon d'Or candidate and have, apparently, managed to agree terms with Sneijder, and just need to agree a transfer fee for him.

Spurs are not known for their high wage bills, with their top earner, Gareth Bale earning £100k-per-week, it becomes fairly obvious that Sneijder will take a wage cut, should the deal go through.

But the question remains: Can Sneijder replicate his form yet again and beat the odds, as he did when he made a move from Madrid to Inter, when he was also dubbed a surplus at the club that didn't want him. His talent remains indisputable, but his injury problems have kept him out through several periods, as he never managed to make more than 26 league appearances for Inter.

Spurs are in need of some creativity in their midfield, considering the poor run of form during Dembele's injury problems. Summer signing from Hoffenheim, Gylfi Sigurðsson wasn't able to reproduce his last season form and has seen his chances limited, though at 22, he's seen as a future of the club and Sneijder's arrival could mean an instant boost for the Champions League hopefuls.

Inter have valued their star playmaker at €40M at one point, but will have to accept a significantly smaller sum and Daniel Levy, chairman of Tottenam, is well known for his bargaining skills, so you can expect Spurs to pull of quite a coup with Sneijder deal.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Jack Wilshere ready to sign new Arsenal deal

In the recent weeks, sun has definitely not been shining on the Emirates, as Arsenal continues their struggle in the league, making just 24 points out of 16 games so far, and the biggest shocker came on on Tuesday night, when Gunners were knocked out of the Capital One Cup, after losing on penalties to a low-tier team Bradford. After a poor league run so far and the unexpected early exit form the cup, people have started questioning Wenger's methods yet again, wondering if he's the right man for the job.

Despite the negative energy circulating among the supporters, there is a timid light in the darkness, as their most promising star is ready to commit to a club and accept the offer of £80,000 a week contract in the duration of 5 years, meaning he'll earn somewhere around £20M during the time span, provided that he does see out his contract.

He has recently recovered from a serious ankle injury, which eventually required operation and kept young Englishman from the pitch for almost 15 months now. Before the blow, he was considered to be the most promising player England had, though expectations faded away, as the injury dragged on.

Wilshere has made his debut for London-based club in 2008 as a 16 year old and has so far made 49 league appearances, scoring just once. He also had a loan spell with Bolton Wanderers, scoring also one in the 14 league appearances he made.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Cesc Fabregas out for a month with hamstring injury

Barcelona playmaker, Cesc Fabregas, was forced off the field in a match against Betis and it looks as though former Arsenal captain could face a spell on the sidelines for up to a month.

Cesc was replaced by Alexis Sanchez just 10 minutes into the game and Barcelona went on to win the game 2:1, without the help of Fabregas.

Barcelona medical staff were quick to react and after a scan, they revealed publicly that he'll be out of action for about a month, due to a ruptured hamstring in his left thigh.

Fabregas rejoined his boyhood club in the summer of 2011 for a reported fee of €34M, and has since made a total of 69 appearances for Catalonians, netting 22 times.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

What's next for Fernando Llorente?

There has been much speculation lately about the future of Basque attacker, Fernando Llorente, who is out of contract with Athletic Bilbao in summer 2013. Llorente, being 27, has declared his intention to leave Bilbao by rejecting a contract extension.

This being his 9th senior season at the club, could be his last, as big fish are lurking around, looking for a bargain in January, with various reports saying Llorente could leave the club for a lot less then speculated in the previous transfer window, when he was linked to Italian giants, Juventus, who had a bid of €20M rejected. It is said that Juventus have not given up hope of signing Llorente, and are preparing a new bid, though it'll surely come shy of €20M offered in the summer, but they're likely to face competition, as both Barcelona and Real Madrid are interested in the powerful forward.

Llorente was also monitored by several English clubs during the summer, primarily London-based clubs, Arsenal and Tottenham, who were also unsuccessful with their approaches. Move to Tottenham seems unlikely at the moment, due to a big competition for his signature and player's wage demands that would exceed Spurs's wage cap.

Fernando was arguably the most influential player Athletic has had in the past couple of seasons, with him making over 300 appearances, netting 115 goals, but after his public declaration, his playing time was limited in favor of Arduiz. Llorente featured just 8 times this season, mostly coming on as a substitute.

Atheltic Bilbao are yet to comment on availability of the player and have been dismissive of suggestions of him leaving in January, but it would be sensible to sell the player in January, instead of letting him walk for free in summer, when his professional obligation with the club comes to an end.

Monday, November 12, 2012

RVP pulls out of Netherlands squad with thigh injury

Manchester Striker striker, Robin van Persie has been withdrawn from Netherlands squad, after picking up a thigh injury against Aston Villa in United's 3:2 away win.

Former Arsenal captain will miss a friendly between Netherlands and Germany. It is still unknown how long van Persie will be out, but he'll probably miss Manchester United's next weeks clash against Norwich.

Wolfsburg striker, Bas Dost, has been called by Louis van Gaal to replace van Persie, as Netherlands take on Germany on Wedneseday at Amsterdam Arena.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Alen Halilovic - the next big thing from Croatia

Alen Halilovic first caught the attention of the media worldwide not few weeks ago when he made his Champions League debut for Croatian champions Dinamo Zagreb, against French giants, Paris Saint-Germain.

At the tender age of 16, young Halilovic has managed to break into Dinamo Zagreb squad, which is no short of talent and is posing himself as one of the most promising youngsters world of football has to offer. Halilovic is often compared to his compatriot, Luka Modric, not just for the looks, but also the his football strengths. He's great on the ball, possesses a great vision and has an eye for a goal.

Young Croat has appeared for Croatian U17 side 6 times and has netted 2 goals so far. His impressive performances have not gone unnoticed by the bigger sides, as Manchester duo, United and City are believed to be preparing offers around £6M, though it is understood that Dinamo is looking a lot more than the quoted sum.

Video highlighting his talents can be seen bellow:

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Falcao arrival at Chelsea could mean game over for Torres

According to various reports, Falcao is number 1 target for the European Champions. Colombian has been sensational since his switch from Porto in summer 2011, bagging a total of 49 goals in 59 appearances and helping them win Europa League last term.

Currently considered among the utmost best goalscorers in the world of football, you'd expect a player of his standing to be playing for a club stronger than Atletico Madrid, who, despite their European success last term, have failed to challenge domestically in a long while now.

Chelsea are preparing a bid around £50M, same sum they shelled out for Fernando Torres, who turned out to be one of the most disappointing signings in Abramovich's reign at London club. Spaniard never really rediscovered his Liverpool form in the blue shirt and has scored only 18 goals in 82 appearances.

The two are arguably very alike, in their style of play, though Falcao's stats speak for themselves, as do Torres's. Bringing Falcao to Stamford Bridge would definitely mean trouble for Torres, who hasn't really shone lately and is doing little to convince Roberto Di Matteo he's worthy of being Chelsea's lone striker in their 4-3-3 system.

Fernando was the reason why Drogba left for China, despite his performances in the Champions League that helped Londoners lift the title and later being named in the Ballon d'Or shortlist. Torres could face the same fate as Ivorian, should Falcao arrive.

Atletico are keen to keep their star man, but Falcao himself declared he's unsure of what the future holds. Should the Spanish team manage to keep him at Vicente Calderón, they'll face an even bigger challenge to keep him in the summer.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Tottenham looking stronger than Arsenal at the moment

These two teams are obviously biggest contenders for that 4th spot that leads to Champions League and it feels that Spurs are ahead of them at the moment, form-wise judging from their last 5 games, in which they've managed to win 4 and today showed a lot of quality against Chelsea, while missing 4 key players.

Last year, there's little doubt that Arsenal we're incredibly dependent on Robin van Persie. Now they appear to be even weaker than last season. Sure Cazora has been magnificent for them, and Podolski is looking good, but Giroud doesn't look as good of a signing, judging from these few games so far. They've also lost Song and replaced him with injury-prone Diaby at the center.

On the other hand, Tottenham are looking way stronger, defence was never as strong, provided players stay fit and Dembele appears to be on par with Modric's contribution, plus return to form of Defoe and Lennon is really showing lately. Probably would have been better off with keeping VDV and, but I'm sure, given time, Dempsey will find a way to slot into our system, scoring 17 goals in EPL for a mid-table team is certainly not a coincidence.

January could be season-changing moment for both clubs, with funds available to spend. Arsenal have identified Atletico Madrid's Adrian as their primary target and could snare him if they meet the release clause in his contract which states that Adrian can leave Madrid for €18M. Spurs could be back on their summer targets, but a push for Moutinho appears unlikely. It wouldn't be a surprise if they went for Remy, though, as Marseille is looking to sell some of their star players due to debt and Remy, as well as Andre Ayew, who was previously linked to Arsenal and whose price tag stands at €14M.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Can diving be justified?

Players who tend to dive rarely get media backing for their actions and are often universally hated for their actions, but one must wonder, are those actions justified to some degree?

There's no doubt football has changed a whole lot when compared to several years ago in both good and bad way. Managers significance during the game has increased with tactical preparation being the key to winning matches and not all choose to go about it in a fair way.

We've seen a lot of talented players just vanish and disappear from the face of the earth within a couple of seasons, particularly in the English Premier League, due to the rough reputation it has earned, where fouls can be often overlooked in favor of defenders and some teams have found loopholes in the football rules to gain advantage. Stoke City comes to mind with them being one of the dirtiest team since their promotion. Even though team is arguably short of naturally talented players and has been since their fairly recent promotion to the EPL, they've managed to survive for 3 seasons now, courtesy of their defensive-minded approach to almost every match.

Liverpool's Luis Suarez has been causing a lot of controversy since his move from Ajax in January 2011, mostly attributed to his diving, but lately, Gareth Bale has been under fire from the media for his behavior, but Bale is one of the most fouled players in Premier League and probably often needs protection from the referees. He recently called out Charlie Adam for a rough tackle in friendly game between Tottenham and Liverpool during summer, this being Adam's second brutal challenge on Bale within a year.

Theatrics can often bring disgust to fans faces, but there's little doubt game could benefit from better player protection.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Kagawa vs Reus: Who represents a better value?

In the summer of 2010, largely unknown Japanese made a €350,000 switch to Borussia Dortmund and hardly anyone could have expected Kagawa to reach the heights he has managed to and eventually earn himself a move to Old Trafford.

Kagawa wasn't a first team choice upon his arrival for Jürgen Klopp, but managed to have a fine season at Dortmund, bagging 12 goals in 28 appearances, though he spent half the season on the sidelines due to his injury he picked up playing for Japan national side. His next season was a lot more successful. Kagawa managed to make 43 appearances and score 17 goals, helping his team defend the Bundesliga title.

Having just 1 year remaining on his contract, Kagawa attracted a lot of attention, as many clubs wanted a bargain deal for the attacking midfielder. He eventually made a move to Manchester United for an undisclosed fee, believed to be in the region of €15M, but Borussia wasted no time in finding a replacement. They activated a release clause in Marco Reus' contract and paid Borussia Mönchengladbach a sum of €17.1M for the German who scored 21 goals in 37 games for Mönchengladbach in season 2011/12.

Marco Reus has spent majority of his youth career at Borussia Dortmund, training with their youth system from ages 7 to 17, when he finally made a move to Rot Weiss Ahlen.

Both players have made strong starts for their clubs, Kagawa scoring twice in 5 league appearances for Man Utd, while Reus already has 4 goals to his tally in total of 6 games. There's little doubt that Dortmund will miss Kagawa's creativity, but it is fair to say that Reus' goalscoring ability will more than compensate for his departure, provided that Reus continues his fine form.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Goal scored after just 2 seconds

Football has a reputation of one of the slower sports, where goals come in not so often as you'd see in other sports, but in a low tier Serbian league, a player named Vuk Bakich has managed to pull off something you definitely don't see everyday. After just 2 seconds in the game, Bakich's half court effort ended up in the net, which is shown in the video bellow:

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Chelsea preparing January bid for Falcao

Colombian made a move to Madrid a season ago, replacing Sergio Aguero, who signed for Manchester City, and many were sceptical of Falcao's ability to replicate Aguero's form, but he managed to prove the doubters wrong and justify the €47M price tag, having an unbelievable first season, where he made 50 appearances and scored a total of 36 goals. Atletico Madrid went on to win the Europa League by beating Athletic Bilbao 3:0 in the final, with Falcao scoring 2 opening goals. Radamel has made 5 appearances so far this season for Atletico and bagged 8 goals.

There's little doubt that his impressive performances have caught the eye of the big sharks in the game, most notably Chelsea, who have been interested in Falcao during his term at Porto, and are rumored to be preparing a January bid worth £45M, though it could fall short of Atletico's valuation of the player. Real Madrid were also rumored to be interested for his services, with Falcao's father claiming his son always wanted to play for Atletico's arch rivals. Manchester City were also mentioned to be monitoring a highly rated striker.

Falcao has 4 more years left on his contract, but could go sooner, rather than later. Some would argue that a player of his quality deserves to be fighting for silverware, and though Atletico was quite successful in Europe, particularly last term, their domestic goals in the past few seasons were mainly Champions League qualification. His switch to EPL would definitely benefit the league, and would please many English fans. Abramovich is known for his lavish spending and could sanction an improved offer, should they fail to convince Atletico with £45M.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Roma rejected a €100M offer for De Rossi

Roma general director, Franco Baldini said to Sky Sports Italia to have rejected an offer worth €100M for the holding midfielder, Daniele De Rossi. He also went on to claim that De Rossi is likely to spend his entire career at Rome, having recently signed a contract.

"De Rossi? He will stay at Roma his entire life. We rejected many approaches for him, including a €100M offer."

De Rossi has seen his value increase after impressive performances for Italy during the quest for the Euro 2012 glory, and has helped the club to the silver medal. Manchester City rumored to be interested in him yet again, but Mancini opted for a younger and cheaper alternative, having signed Javi Garcia from Benfica for £18M.

De Rossi has spent his entire career at Rome-based club, making his debut in 2001, at the age of 18. So far he has made 283 appearances for the club and bagged 33 goals during his career. He also made 80 appearances for the Italian national side, scoring eleven times.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Torres: I can fill in for Drogba

Spanish striker is feeling confident ahead of the ongoing season and is determined to fill the gap left by the departure of Didier Drogba.

Torres had a slow start to his Chelsea career, falling under the £50M price tag pressure, but eventually improved and is looking for another successful season with the Blues after helping them win the Champions League last term.

Speaking about departed striker, Torres said: "Didier is not here anymore, so there is more responsibility for me and I'm ready for the challenge. Now I'm looking for new personal targets, like getting as many goals as possible, hopefully more than my best season at Liverpool."

He also spoke on the team goals this season: "I think all the fans are excited about the Premier League again, after a couple of years of not winning the trophy. So the Premier League is a big target and maybe we can become the first team to win two Champions Leagues in a row. I think it's a good time, especially for me, to give something back to the fans."

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Robin van Persie forced off the field with an injury

Newly signed Manchester United striker, Robin van Persie, who bagged 4 goals in 3 appearances for the Red Devils, has been taken of the field in a match Netherlands played against Hungary in their quest for World Cup qualification, after a disappointing Euro 2012 spell.

Ex-Arsenal captain was substituted at the half time by Klass-Jan Huntelar, after a challenge by Roland Juhasz. He is suspected to have a serious thigh injury, but the duration he'll be forced to spend on the sidelines is yet to be determined.

Van Persie was a scorer for Netherlands in their 2:0 victory against Turkey last friday.

Monday, September 10, 2012

City to offer Silva new £200,000-a-week deal

English champions, Manchester City, are set to offer their prized asset, David Silva, a new contract worth £10.5M per annum. City officials have held talks with players agents and have agreed terms of the deal that will make him one of the top earners at the Manchester club. Silva's current contract sees him earn £140,000 peer week and has just 2 years left to run.

Silva was brought to Etihad Stadium 2 seasons ago for a fee of £30M from Spanish club Valencia and has been a hit in England, helping City win the Barclays title last season. He has made a total of 102 appearances for Citizens and bagged 14 goals and 37 assists during.

During the summer, Real Madrid were thought to be interested for his services, but opted to buy Luka Modric, arguably a cheaper alternative.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Phil Jones out for 2 months

Manchester United defender, Phil Jones underwent a knee surgery and the club has confirmed that he'll be out of the action for two months. Jones is yet to make an appearance for United this season, due to his injury troubles.

The official statement on the website says "Phil Jones has had a surgery on a knee meniscus tear sustained in training that will require six to eight weeks of rehabilitation."

£16.5M signing from Blackburn Rovers has made 29 appearances for Red Devils last season, but hasn't made a start this season and, as it appears, will be forced to wait a little longer before returning to first team action.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Juventus remain keen on Llorente

Turin-based club has been searching for a striker throughout the summer, but didn't manage to sign anyone. Despite being strongly linked with Llorente, they were unable to agree a fee for a striker who has one year left on his contract, as Athletic Bilbao refused to accept any offers lower than his release clause, believed to be €36M, something Juve were unable to shell out for Llorente.

During the summer transfer window, Juve were linked with a few other strikers, including Robin van Persie, who was close to moving to Old Lady, but once again, Juventus was unable to agree a fee for the Dutchman, having offered just £8M for his services, which was swiftly rejected by Arsenal, and RVP later moved to Man United. Other mentioned potential signings were Jovetic and Cavani, but deals were never struck.

In January, Llorente will have just 6 months remaining on his Athletic Bilbao contract and has previously confirmed that he will not be signing an extension, Basque club will be keen to cash in on their target man, who looks set to leave the club, after spending 15 years there.

Spanish giants, Barcelona and Real Madrid were also rumored to be interested in a cut-price deal for the striker.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Mario Balotelli: Top 7 moments

7. Darts
After becoming bored at the training grounds, Balotelli thought of a way to kill the boredom. For some reason, he decided it might be fun to throw darts at the younger players of the squad. Balotelli was not sanctioned for this incident, as none of the 'victims' were injured.

6. "My whole season was shit"
In a post-match interview after a FA Cup game against Stoke City, Mario gives a review the previous season. Not very thorough to say the least...

5. "I made it, I'll take it"
Even during his time at Inter, Balotelli was well known for his controversial behavior. In a match against Palermo, having won a penalty, he wanted to be the one to take it, forcing Javier Zanetti to interfere.
4. Spoiling the party
After Inter managed to beat Barcelona in that treble-winning season by 3:1 at San Siro, Mario spoiled the celebrations for Inter fans by taking off his shirt and throwing it in anger on the pitch.
3. Failed backheel
In a friendly game against LA Galaxy, Mario tried to be clever and in a one-on-one chance against the keeper. He attempted to beat the goalie with a backheel, only to see his shot go wide of the goal. He was immediately taken out of the game during the 1st half by Mancini and booed by the fans.
2. Putting on AC Milan shirt
Another controversial moment during his time at Inter, during an interview, Balotelli was handed an AC Milan shirt with his name on it and camera later caught him putting the shirt on, causing even further trouble with already frustrated Inter fans.
1. Trouble with the bib
This one is definitely not one of his brightest moments, but is certainly the 'Balotelliest" thing he has ever done. Something considered to be a fairly easy task has proven a bit too difficult for the Italian, as he fails to put a bib on.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Raheem Sterling, Merseyside wonderkid

At the tender age of just 17, Jamaican-born English winger has broken into Liverpool squad and has shown no signs of immaturity. Sterling's biggest qualities are his pace and technique. He's great with the ball and off the ball as well and despite his age, lacks no strength when taking on defenders.

During the summer, tricky offensive winger was linked with a move to Tottenham, with London side offering £7.5M for him, but the offer was rejected by Liverpool.

Sterling has made his debut for Liverpool senior team in UEFA Europe League qualifier against Gomel, where Sterling replaced Joe Cole, match they managed to win 1:0. Sterling impressed instantly because, despite his age, he looked very comfortable and mature on the ball. He scored his first goal against Bayer Leverkusen, making a great run past Daniel Swaab and finishing with a lovely inside foot shot.

Sterling was handed league debut against Manchester City, and was arguably Liverpool's biggest threat, causing loads of trouble to their defence, particularly Kolo Toure, who found it difficult to contain the teenager.

Today, against Arsenal, youngster was given a green light ahead of Stewart Downing, who was close to Anfield exit during the summer, only 12 months after arriving from Aston Villa for a jaw dropping fee of £20M. Liverpool lost the match 2:0, but whenever they attacked, Sterling was involved. Easily their biggest threat yet again, he came close to scoring after a brilliant turn and a shot from a difficult angle that went wide after hitting the post. Definite improvement over Downing, Sterling has, as it seems, already pushed Downing out of the starting 11 and looks to stay that way.

He is yet to make a debut for the senior England side, but has made 13 appearances for U17 England and scored 3 goals.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

City, United, Chelsea, Arsenal, Tottenham and Liverpool: Who has done the best in the transfer window?

Manchester United

IN: Shinji Kagawa (Borussia Dortmund), Nick Powell (Crewe), Robin van Persie (Arsenal), Alexander Buttner (Vitesse), Angelo Henriquez (Universidad de Chile)
OUT: Ji-Sung Park (QPR), Michael Owen (Released), Tomasz Kuszczak (Brighton), Matty James (Leicester), Ritchie de Laet (Leicester), Paul Pogba (Juventus), Dimitar Berbatov (Fulham), Ezekiel Fryers (Standard Liege)

Having brought in Kagawa and van Persie and having sold a handful of fringe players, Man Utd are undoubtedly stronger than last term. Kagawa will offer plenty of creativity and flair, while RVP is sure to bang a bunch of goals, provided he stays fit, though his arrival was a bit of surprise, considering his age, large transfer fee, high wages and the attacking power Man Utd has in Rooney, Hernandez, Welbeck and Berbatov, who was later sold.

Other than that, Fergie decided to invest in some future products, as he always does, as he first brought in Nick Powell, talented Englishman from Crewe, after whom followed Alexander Buttner, 23 year old fullback and an 18 year old Chilean talent Angelo Henriquez.

Overall grade: B

Manchester City

IN: Richard Wright (Preston), Jack Rodwell (Everton), Scott Sinclair (Swansea), Maicon (Inter Milan), Matija Nastasic (Fiorentina), Javi Garcia (Benfica)
OUT: Owen Hargreaves (Released), Stuart Taylor (Reading), Nigel De Jong (AC Milan), Adam Johnson (Sunderland), Emmanuel Adebayor (Tottenham), Vladimir Weiss (Pescara), Stefan Savic (Fiorentina)

An unusually quite transfer window for the big spending Manchester side. English champions manager, Roberto Mancini felt his side could repeat the success of last year when they won EPL, and also challenge for the Champions League trophy. Not much is changed in starting lineup for the Citizens, though Javi Garcia is expected to make an instant impact, being paid for with £18M plus addons, Spaniard is expected to be a long-term replacement for aging Gareth Barry, who will turn 32 in February, with Jack Rodwell expected to be used in rotation.

Eyebrows sure were raised when Mancini decided to replace Adam Johnson with Scott Sinclair, and even more when he brought in Maicon on the deadline day from Inter. True, Maicon was the worlds best right back not 2 years ago, but has dropped in form drastically since and hasn't featured at Inter on regular basis.

Matija Nastasic, probably the least known name, yet almost the most expensive one, the Serbian teenager has caught the eye of many clubs after breaking into Fiorentina squad after just one season there, and Mancini decided to splash the money on yet another young ex-Partizan Belgrade defender, with hopes of this one turning out to be more successful than Stefan Savic, who was used in the deal to persuade Fiorentina to part with Nastasic.

Overall grade: C+

Chelsea FC

IN: Eden Hazard (Lille), Thorgan Hazard (Lens), Marko Marin (Werder Bremen), Oscar (Internacional), Cesar Azpilicueta (Marseille), Victor Moses (Wigan)
OUT: Salomon Kalou (Lille), Didier Drogba (Shenua), Michael Essien (Real Madrid), Jose Bosingwa (QPR), Romelu Lukaku (WBA), Kevin de Bruyne (Werder Bremen)

EPL's biggest spenders this season, as was expected after Roman Abramovich announced a summer shopping spree for Londoners. Biggest signing of the summer is Eden Hazard, 21 year old Belgian protege from Lille, who made an instant impact in the EPL. Marko Marin came from Werder Bremen for €9.8M, having snubbed Tottenham for European Champions, though he's not expected to be Di Matteo's first team choice.

After an impressive performances for Internacional and Brazilian national team, a 20 year old creative midfielder caught eye of many clubs across Europe, and opted to sign for Chelsea, but could see his chances limited this season, due to the large amount of attacking options Chelsea have.

As for Azpilicueta, he will face competition for the right-back place from Ivanovic, but after Serbs shaky performances, Azpilicueta could see first team opportunities very soon. Victor Moses, a long-term target who has been chased all summer has finally been signed and will provide depth in attack.

Overal grade: A-

Arsenal FC

IN: Olivier Giroud (Montpeiller), Lukas Podolski (Koln), Santi Cazorla (Malaga CF)
OUT: Manuel Almunia (Watford), Carlos Vela (Real Sociedad), Alex Song (Barcelona), Robin van Persie (Manchester United)

After a year long speculation over Robin van Persie's future, the Dutchman has left the club for rivals, Manchester United in a £24M deal, leaving Gunners significantly weaker, considering his contribution last season. Wenger signed Lukas Podolski and Olivier Giroud as replacement for the departing striker, but fans remain sceptical over their ability to reproduce van Persie's performances. Giroud had a great season with Montpeiller, having scored 21 goals in 36 performances, but will undoubtedly face stronger defenders in the EPL.

Biggest addition to Arsenal squad is undoubtedly Spanish playmaker, Santi Cazorla, signed from Malaga for just £15M, tricky Spaniard made an instant impact on his debut against Sunderland and produced another great performance against Stoke, but unfortunately, neither were enough for 3 points.

Arsenal are hopeful of securing 4th spot at the very least, but keeping in mind that Spurs have became arguably stronger during the transfer window, while Arsenal are inarguably weaker, getting 4th spot could prove difficult.

Overall grade: C-

Tottenham Hotspur

IN: Jan Vertonghen (Ajax), Gylfi Sigurdsson (Hoffenheim), Emmanuel Adebayor (Manchester City), Moussa Dembele (Fulham), Hugo Lloris (Lyon)
OUT: Steven Pienaar (Everton), Ledley King (Retired), Vedran Corluka (Lokomotiv Moscow), Niko Kranjcar (Dynamo Kyev), Ryan Nelsen (QPR), Luka Modric (Real Madrid), Giovani dos Santos (Mallorca), Sebastien Bassong (Norwich), Rafael van der Vaart (HSV)

After missing out on Champions League, despite finishing 4th in the league, an exodus of players was expected at White Hart Lane, but that didn't prove to be the case.

Their first signing was Gylfi Sigurdsson from Hoffenheim, having spent a loan at Swansea last season, Iceland international impressed Andre Villas-Boas as he managed to hijack a deal for the attacking midfielder from Liverpool, who seemed destined to sign him. They also signed Belgian defender, Jan Vertonghen. Versatile defender was long linked to Spurs and finally made a move this summer.

Truth be told, their arguably best player has left them for Real Madrid, but they found a replacement for Modric in Dembele, who didn't wait a long time to justify his price tag, having scored a beauty against Norwich earlier today, though it wasn't enough to earn the first victory for his side and his coach.

Tottenham were linked to numerous players during the summer, but have failed to sign most of their primary targets. Leandro Damiao, a long term target didn't arrive, as Levy failed to agree fee with Internacional. It is believed that a fee has been agreed with Athletic Bilbao for powerful striker, Fernando Llorente, though his wage demands of £150k a week weren't matched by Tottenham. Instead, Tottenham have signed Emmanuel Adebayor from Man City, having previously spent a season at London-based club, he's no stranger to their play and will have no problems adapting to the game.

On the deadline day, they were linked to several players, most notably Joao Moutinho, playmaker of Porto. Having agreed the fee with Porto, believed to be £22M, player seemed destined to rejoin his old coach at White Hart Lane, but there were problems with personal terms, and transfer was called off, which resulted in Spurs picking up yet another player under Liverpool's noses, Clint Demspey of Fulham. They've also signed French captain, Hugo Lloris, highly rated goalkeeper has made his switch after Spurs finally agreed a fee with Lyon.

Overall grade: B-

Liverpool FC

IN: Fabio Borini (Roma), Joe Allen (Swansea), Oussama Assaidi (Heerenveen), Nuri Sahin (Real Madrid), Samed Yesil (Bayer Leverkusen)
OUT: Maxi Rodriguez (Newell's), Dirk Kuyt (Fenerbahce), Alberto Aquilani (Fiorentina), Craig Bellamy (Cardiff), Andy Carroll (West Ham), Charlie Adam (Stoke), Jay Spearking (Bolton)

Definitely the biggest underachievers last several terms would have to be Liverpool. It sure has been a while since they were at the top, challenging for silverware and Anfield side is looking to get back into top, though competition looks very stiff. Goal for this term is 4th spot which leads to Champions League, but after fairly quiet transfer window, it doesn't look very bright for Reds.

Liverpool went for the younger players this season and managed to acquire few of them, most notably Fabio Borini, Joe Allen and Nuri Sahin. Borini came from Roma after an impressive season in the Serie A to try out his luck in EPL yet again, so he is no stranger to the league. Same goes for young Welshman, Joe Allen, a £15M signing from Swansea, who previously worked with Brendan Rodgers and helped Swansea finish 11th in the season, something almost no one saw coming.

Nuri Sahin was a target for Arsenal and Tottenham, and actually came close to joining Arsenal, but Liverpool managed to hijack a deal for the Turkish-born German and bring him to the Anfield for a season-long loan. His last season is one to forget, having spend majority of the time on the sidelines or on the bench at Madrid, Sahin will try his luck in the Premier League.

Other than that, Liverpool brought in Oussama Assaidi, highly rated Moroccan offensive winger and he will surely be given a chance to impress in the coming matches. Signing of Samed Yesil from Leverkusen is one for the future, considering he's only 18 years old.

Liverpool have also been linked with numerous players, but failed to bring in many of their targets, missing out on Sigurdsson and Demspey, who both signed for Tottenham Hotspur.

Overall grade: D-

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Can Tottenham get Champions League spot this year?

After grabbing 4th spot twice in 3 years, one would expect Spurs to challenge for the spot again, though this year, things could prove to be more difficult without the midfield maestro that is Luka Modric. After reaching 4th spot last season, but failing to reach Champions League qualification stages, things weren't looking good for Spurs, with Modric already one step out of the club, Gareth Bale's future also came into question.

Redknapp's insecurity sure didn't help the London club, as he continued to be linked to the England national team post, which he seemed to be very keen on. But eventually, all of Redknapp's dreams and aspirations failed when Hodgson was appointed as England's new coach and Levy decided to sack the experienced Englishman, who brought nothing but success to the club. One may think the decision was a bit harsh, but there's no denial that Harry was disrespectful towards the club.

After his sacking, Gareth Bale voiced his frustration and disappointment and threatening to quit the club, but Levy acted quickly, as Bale signed a new contract and pledged his future to the club, also doubling his wages, making him the best paid Spurs player.

With Modric on the way out and Spurs's lack of involvement in the previous transfer windows, it was obvious that this summer was going to be similar to that of 2008, where Spurs signed Vedran Corluka, Roman Pavlyuchenko, David Bentley, Luka Modric, Giovani dos Santos and John Boston, breaking their record for most money spent in one window.

So far Spurs have been linked to numerous players, after signing Siggurdson and Vertonghen. Most notable targets are Hugo Lloris, Willian, Leandro Damiao, Joao Moutinho, Yann M'Vila and Moussa Dembele, who officially signed for Spurs not hours ago.

Fee for Lloris has been agreed, believed to be around €15M and all that's left is for him to agree personal terms and pass medical exam, while Daniel Levy has traveled to Donetsk to negotiate a deal for Willian, as well as make enquiries for Douglas Costa and Fernandinho, who are also interesting to AVB.

With less than 3 days left in the transfer window, Spurs are tipped to be the busiest side, with at least 2 more fresh faces to come to White Hart Lane.

Their biggest rivals for the 4th spot will probably be their arch-rivals from north London, Arsenal, though I wouldn't rule out Liverpool, Newcastle and Everton.

Monday, August 27, 2012

How will Luka Modric fit into Real Madrid?

After another summer saga concerning Modric's future at the West London club, Daniel Levy has finally budged and accepted an offer worth around £33M (€42M) for the Croatian playmaker. Last summer, Chelsea was the most serious suitor for his services, and have first offered £22M, which was laughed at by, then, Spurs manager, Harry Redknapp. Roman tried again with an improved offer of £27M and failed yet again, and finally offered a hefty sum of £40M on a transfer deadline day, but due to the lack of time to find the replacement, Levy rejected this offer, as well.

Modric was obviously frustrated, but managed to have a successful season with Spurs which saw him earn a move to Real Madrid. Chelsea has shown their interest yet again, but Tottenham were undoubtedly happier to sell Modric to a non-EPL team, meaning they would settle for less money.

And so it happened, a significantly smaller offer was accepted than their £40M valuation and Modric is just one step away from signing for Spanish champions, having his terms agreed a long time ago.

Modric's initial position at Dinamo Zagreb was an attacking midfielder, where he played behind the strikers, and managed to have an impressive scoring record for a playmaker, netting the goal 31 times in 112 appearances, but his position at Tottenham was more defensive, having a deep playmaking role, similar to Pirlo's position.

It's fair to assume that Real Madrid have the most talented players in his position, the attacking midfield area, having Benzema upfront and Xabi Alonso and Khedira/Lass behind holding the midfield, there are only 3 spots available for Ronaldo, Di Maria, Ozil, Kaka, Granero, Sahin (who's loaned to Liverpool), and now Modric. So far, obvious first team choices were Ronaldo, Di Maria and Ozil, but assuming that Real didn't just spend €42M on a backup player, either Di Maria or Ozil will have to make due for Croatian, and my money is on Ozil, due to the similarity between the two and Mourinho's love for the Argentinian.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Romelu Lukaku, true heir to Drogba

Even though he's just 19 years of age, Lukaku came to attention of the world of football back in the 2010, after finishing a season with 15 goals out of 33 appearances for his former club Anderlecht. At the time, he was an absolute sensation, due to his incredible physique, despite turning just 17 in the May of 2010.

His style of play was immediately compared to Didier Drogba of Chelsea, due to the said physique and aerial ability and was linked with a move, but considering his age, decided to stick with the Belgium giants and went on to have an even more successful season, by topping his goal tally from last season by 1, finishing on 16 in total.

Chelsea reignited their interest in Lukaku and on the August, Andre Villas-Boas signed the striker for a fee of £13M, potentially rising to £18M. It was a dream come true for the young Belgian, who claimed to have supported Chelsea ever since he was a boy.

Having two established strikers at his disposal, it was obvious that Lukaku wasn't going to be AVBs first team choice, but was expected to have a role and make an impact in the following season, even from the bench, but that wasn't the case. Both Torres and Drogba were favored ahead of him, as was Daniel Sturridge, who was played at the wing though. Lukaku became increasingly frustrated and finished his season with just 8 appearances and without scoring a single goal.

He was than loaned to another EPL club, West Bromwich Albion, who were more than happy to take the striker on a loan for the rest of the season. On his first match for WBA, he scored a goal against Liverpool in 3:0 victory for the home side and today, against Tottenham, despite not scoring, was without a doubt the biggest threat for the Londoners. He was introduced as a substitute and made an immediate impact, causing a lot of trouble to Jan Vertonghen and certainly proving a point to current Tottenham coach who froze him out previous season in Chelsea.

There's no doubt he has a bright future ahead of him, with performances like this, soon he could take over as Chelsea's first pick for a striker.

Inter finally pulling off smart moves?

Highly rated Uruguay wing back Alvaro Pereira has officially been signed by Inter for a sum of just €10M, potentially rising to €15M, depending on his performances. Pereira has been in demand for quite some time, most notably chased by Chelsea last season, but were put off by Porto's valuation of €30M for the left sided defender, while London-based team offered around €25M.

He's the 2nd signing coming from Porto to Inter in this transfer window, after Fredy Guarin made a €11M switch to the San Siro, after spending half a season at Inter, where he managed to impress during his 6 months and earn his move to the Italian giants.

Other than that, Inter have made a few other high profile signings, most notably signing Cassano from their arch-rivals Milan in the exchange for the services of out-of-favor striker, Giampaolo Pazzini, and receiving additional €7M from Milan. Now some may argue that Cassano may not be signing Moratti has promised to deliver to the club, with his new policy of buying young players, but Cassano does bring a lot of quality in attack, being known for his technique and creativity, something Inter desperately need.

Another, not so young signing was a long-term target, Rodrigo Palacio, whose record at Genoa was impressive to say the least, and paying €10.5M for a 30 year old striker does seem a bit of an overkill, but Palacio is sure to bring in a lot of quality and experience. Just remember that 3 seasons ago, Milito was also signed from Genoa when he was also 30 years of age, yet his price was more than double of Palacio's.

Other than that, Inter have made a few loan acquisitions, Matias Silvestre of Palermo, highly rated defender made the switch earlier in the summer for €2M with an option to make the move permanent at the end of the season. Same deals were made for Mudingayi and Gargano, both adding plenty of depth in the midfield.

Decision to get rid of Julio Cesar is not something I favored, but they sure managed to get the perfect replacement, Samir Handanovic, last season's best keeper in the Serie A, quite a coup for a sum of €11M.

No doubt Inter looks a lot stronger this season and with exodus of their rivals AC Milan, it would appear that Inter is now again a team to beat in the city of Milano.