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.