Saturday, June 29, 2013

Isco calls his dog 'Messi'

Not a few days ago, Real Madrid have officially announced the capture of highly-rated Spanish international, Isco (21). Youngster was a long-term target for Manchester City and newly-appointed City coach, Manuel Pellegrini was left disappointed to find out his former star has chosen another club. Despite his release clause being around £30M, the clubs have reached an agreement around £23M.

Controversy was up in the air when it was found out, from his previous interviews from his Valencia days, that Isco was a self-proclaimed anti-Madrista due to Real Madrid's apparent arrogance and bad attitude towards the game.

Now, on a bit of a lighter note, Isco has explained why he calls his dog 'Messi' when questioned about it: "I named my dog 'Messi' because Messi is the best in the world, and so is my dog".

Isco has also revealed his admiration for Xavi and Andrés Iniesta, while also claiming that Ronaldinho is an inspiration.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Fernandinho v Paulinho: Who's a better deal?

After 8 seasons spent in Ukraine, high-profile playmaker Fernandinho (28) has made a £30M switch to Manchester City. He was a first major acquisition for the Etihad-based side, who were looking to add depth in their aging midfield, with Gareth Barry's City future in doubt.

Having made his debut for the national side in 2011, it is fair to assume that Fernandinho was not a favored pick for the majority of Seleção coaches. So far he has made just 5 appearances for Brazil and hasn't been a part of any major tournaments the nation has participated in.

Paulinho, his 25 year old counterpart, on the other hand, appears to be rated quite highly at his homeland. He made his debut in 2011 as well, but has been a major part of the national side ever since, making 15 appearances and finding the net on 4 occasions. Still a Corinthians player, Paulinho is expected to make a move to Manchester City's Premier League rivals, Tottenham Hotspur, who have matched his release clause which states he can leave the club if a £17M offer is submitted.

Being significantly younger, more consistent with the national side, a lot cheaper and arguably more complete player than Fernandinho, given the comparison, it would seem that Tottenham are about to pull yet another major coup in his signing.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Top 10 summer transfer fees (so far)

With almost a full month for the transfer window to open, several high-profile deals have already been concluded in what promises to be one thrilling transfer window. So far the total amount of money spent on fees across Europe exceeds a sum of €400M. Listed below are the highest-paid transfers of the 2013/14 summer transfer window (figures are listed in European euros):

Falcao (60M) - Atletico Madrid (SPA) to Monaco (FRA)

Neymar (57M) - Santos (BRA) to Barcelona (SPA)

James Rodriguez (45M) - FC Porto (POR) to Monaco (FRA)

Mario Götze (37M) - Borussia Dortmund (GER) to Bayern Munich (GER)

João Moutinho (25M) - FC Porto (POR) to Monaco (FRA)

Ricky van Wolfswinkel (10M) - Sporting (POR) to Norwich (ENG)

Sokratis Papastathopoulos (9.5M) - Werder Bremen (GER) to Borussia Dortmund (GER)

Diego Reyes (7M) - CF América (MEX) to FC Porto (POR)

Daniel Carvajal (6.5M) - Bayer Leverkusen (GER) to Real Madrid (SPA)

Aurélien Chedjou (6.3M) - Lille (FRA) to Galatasaray (TUR)

Sunday, April 21, 2013

London battle for the Champions League entrance

It is a well-known fact how intense the battles are in the EPL, when the Champions League places are at stake and it's been known to derail the focus from the title with the intesity of competitiveness. With just a handful of games to be played, nothing is clear regarding the 3rd and 4th spot. Three of London's biggest clubs, Arsenal, Chelsea and Tottenham, are all going head to head in the thrilling rush for the Champions League extasy and bellow you'll find the situation the teams are in.

Arsenal - 63 points

Games played: 34


Remaining schedule: Man Utd (H), QPR (A), Wigan (H), Newcastle (A)

Chelsea - 61 points

Games played: 32


Remaining schedule: Liverpool (A), Swansea (H), Man Utd (A), Tottenham (H), Aston Villa (A), Everton (H)

Tottenham - 61 points

Games played: 33


Remaining schedule: Wigan (A), Southampton (H), Chelsea (A), Stoke (A), Sunderland (H)

Monday, March 18, 2013

Bale's (lack of) display shows how dependent Tottenham is on him

Something over a week ago, Tottenham were strongly cemented in the 3rd position ahead of London rivals, Chelsea and Arsenal. Gareth Bale was leading Spurs to a Champions League finish and all looked too good for the Lillywhites, who were 7 points ahead of Arsenal.

Game against Liverpool could have gone in their favor, but for some horrific blunders from the defence that gave Liverpool the opportunity to tie the result and then take the lead from the spot kick, which they did on both occasions. Liverpool game was a disappointment, as it always is to drop the lead in the last quarter of the game, but the real disappointment and the ugly truth came next week against Fulham, game Spurs lost on their home turf with Berbatov scoring the only goal of the game after a counter attack that was enabled by the immobility of the Spurs defence.

AVB refused to blame fatigue of Europa League on the loss, even though the players endured a living hell at San Siro, just barely managing to get through to quarter-finals of the competition, after 120 minutes of intense pressure from the hostile and apparently racist crowd. Though the real problem seemed to be lack of motivation in a game against the Cottagers, mainly for the main threat, Gareth Bale, who's touch was shockingly off. His dribbling was well bellow par, as he was frequently being dispossessed and his unwillingness to instigate anything was rather surprising from the ex-Southampton man. Gareth Bale missed the 2nd leg clash against Inter Milan, due to a yellow-card suspension, therefore fatigue cannot be taken into factor when questioning his sub-par performance. Mousa Dembele, who has not had a breather for a while now has still managed to deliver in the midfield, even though he played the whole 120 minutes in Milan and was Spurs' best player in a 4:1 loss that saw them progress via away goal rule.

Before the Liverpool tie, Bale has carried Spurs on his back, netting 6 times in the 4 previous encounters, which Spurs managed to win, but when Bale was unable to find the net against Liverpool, or his game altogether against Fulham, Spurs have dropped the points and slipped behind Chelsea, who even have a game in hand and a point more than their rivals.

Lack of ability in the attacking area for Spurs has been quite notable this season, as Defoe and Adebayor, particularly, have been unable to find their best form. Defoe has started his season brightly, netting a total of 10 times so far, being the clubs 2nd best goalscorer behind Bale, but has picked up an injury and hasn't been able to find his form since, while Adebayor is constantly being criticized for his abysmal displays this season.

Tottenham find themselves in the 4th spot at the moment, but with a tough schedule ahead, question remains: Can someone else step up and be a hero or is it all up to Bale?

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Where did it all go wrong for Inter?

Inter have been in decline for the better part of almost 3 seasons now, and after winning every competition in the 2009/10 season, one would not foresee a future like this for the Nerazurri.

Club president Massimo Moratti is well known as one of the stingier presidents, when it comes to splashing money on high-profile names, but Mourinho, unlike any of his predecessors or successors, has managed to convince the oil tycoon to open the wallet, after the sale of Ibrahimovic to Barcleona for €69.5M. The club acquired the services of Samuel Eto'o as a part of Ibrahimovic deal, Diego Milito and Thiago Motta from Genoa for €35M, Sneijder from Real Madrid, paid for with €15M and Lucio, who was dubbed an outcast at Bayern Munich, but, like everyone else from the list, came to have an unbelievable season with Inter, winning the treble and World Cup Championship afterwards.

Inter were flying as high as a club can, but when Mourinho left to coach Real Madrid, the end of an era began. Current Chelsea interim manager, Rafa Benitez was brought in as a replacement for Mourinho and was not able to replicate the high standards of Portuguese coach. He was sacked at the end of the season, and his successors, Leonardo, Gian Piero Pellegrini and Claudio Ranieri had the similar fate.

Inter's transfer market policy has changed and it's starting to resemble Liverpool's strategy with no particular goal, just buying out of impulse, though spending less money.

They've started 2012/13 promisingly with their young coach, Andrea Stramaccioni, who made them look like genuine Serie A title contestants when they were just one point behind Juventus, but since, Inter's form has dipped and Champions League qualification looks highly unlikely now for Internazionale.

Moratti's lack of spending may be attributed to the stadium plans club has, following the footsteps of Juventus, who have enjoyed financial boost from the ticket revenue ever since they revealed their new stadium, though stadium isn't expected to be functional till 2018, and one must wonder, what will happen to Inter, if the club policy remains unaltered.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Jack Wilshere substituted with thigh injury

Just as he was making his way back to the stardom, Jack Wilshere's injury concerns can't seem to go away. Midfielder was praised recently for his performances, most notably in England's 2:1 win over Brazil, where Arsenal star was declared man of the match.

Wilshere was brought down by Alfred N'Diaye right at the beginning of the second half, after which he was taken out of play, though the seriousness of the injury is yet to be determined.

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has already been concerned with Jack's workload after the return from a 19-month injury.

Wilshere has made his debut for Gunners in 2008 as a 16 year old and has so far made 49 league appearances, making the scoresheet 5 times.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Should Spurs sign a striker in January?

Looking back 3 years or so, Spurs' were tipped to spend big on a striker in almost every transfer window, but Daniel Levy remains patient, though this time it looks as though the team is rather short on their frontmen, with Adebayor absent on International duty and Defoe battling with an apparent injury, which saw him miss FA clash against Leeds United, which Spurs lost 2:1 with Dempsey playing as a lone forward.

Dempsey is quite versatile, being able to play on the left wing, behind the strikers and as one, but it's hardly a solution.

Spurs have been monitoring several targets, some of them go back a few seasons, particularly Leandro Damiao, whose move to White Hart Lane appears to be dead yet again, with the striker unwilling to move aboard and Internacionals reluctance to sell.

Tottenham have been monitoring Loic Remy for quite some time now, but have dropped interest since the summer, due to players poor form and problems with injury.

Most recent name to be linked with them is Celtic's Gary Hooper, 25 year old English striker who bagged 57 goals in 82 appearances for Celtic during his 2 and a half year spell with the Scottish champions and has caught the attention of many Premier League clubs. Hooper made his first footballing steps at Tottenham, but left the academy at the age of 14. Celtic demands at least £7M for the striker, after rejecting a £5M bid from Norwich.

Sevilla's Alvaro Negredo has been a constant presence on La Liga top score sheets, with the player scoring 54 goals in 122 appearances. Sevilla has been in a tough financial situation for some time now and could be looking to raise funds by selling their star player and Tottenham have been keen for quite some time now, timing could not be better for the Spanish striker to move on.

Spurs' boss, Andre Villas-Boas claims that he's quite happy with the current squad, though with Levy, it is rather hard to predict the future. Will Spurs sign another striker? I guess we'll wait till the very end to find out.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Is Arsenal doing the right thing keeping Walcott?

Despite being just 23 years old, name Theo Walcott goes back a long time, considering how long the talented ex-Southampton player has been under the spotlight. Walcott is Southamptons youngest first team player, making his debut as a 16 year old. He is also the record holder for the youngest player to play a competitive match for a senior England national team, being just 17 years and 75 days old.

It was becoming quickly obvious that pacey striker was not going to stay with the Saints for a prolonged period and in winter of 2006, Arsenal lured him with a £5M bid, potentially rising to £12M.

Comparisons with Arsenal legend Thierry Henry were inevitable, but Walcott's progress at Arsenal has stalled to say the least, but he featured for Arsenal on regular basis, making over 20 league appearances every season since his arrival.

Due to his quick feet and ability on the ball, Walcott was often deployed as a winger on the right side of the pitch, which he disliked, but it made more sense for a player of his physicality to be operating on the wings, rather than the middle of attack.

Walcott saga is one of the many in Arsenal's recent times, but it looks as though this one is here to stay, with him finally agreeing on a 5-year deal which will make him one of Arsenal's top earners, making £100,000 per week, after rejecting a £75,000 per week deal in summer.

But the question is, does a player of his (in)consistency really deserve £5M annually, same sum his former teammate, Gareth Bale, is making with Arsenal's arch-rivals, Tottenham.

Walcott tends to be overshadowed far too often and his scoring record is rather poor for a striker, scoring just 34 league goals in 166 league appearances for the Gunners, though it is fair to point out that Walcott has spent a good deal on the wing, and even more on the bench.

Could have Arsenal spent their money wiser? It remains to be seen by Walcott's performances.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Is Daniel Sturridge the solution to Liverpool's woes?

It has been officially confirmed, so far the biggest transfer of the January window (exception to the previous arranged transfer of Lucas Moura to PSG) is newly-announced Liverpool signing, 23 year old Daniel Sturridge.

Sturridge has started his professional career with Manchester City, where he made his debut almost 6 years ago as a 17 year old, coming on from the bench against Reading. Sturridge wasn't a preferred choice and was regarded as a backup at City and one for the future. Unhappy with his status, Sturridge ran down his contract and moved to Chelsea upon expiring, though Chelsea was due compensation to City, which they paid in various installments.

He wasn't given many opportunities at Chelsea, either, and was loaned to Bolton, where he caught the eye of the media, scoring 8 times in 12 appearances and upon his arrival back to Chelsea, Daniel saw his playing time dramatically increased. His natural position is a striker, though Andre Villas-Boas preferred to play him on the wing in favor of Torres and Drogba, who occupied the central roles. He ended up playing 30 games in the season 2011/12, but has made just 7 league appearances in the 2012/13 and, frustrated with the lack of game time yet again, made a switch to Liverpool for an undisclosed fee, believed to be in the region of £12M (€15M).

Liverpool have been abysmal this season and are more and more in decline, with their expensive Englishmen signings not producing what was expected of them. Currently laying on the 10th place of the EPL, with 28 points from 20 games, it is evident that a change is needed within the squad and purchase of Sturridge could be just what they're were looking for.

Sturridge main qualities are speed and trickery, along with decent finishing ability and versatility, he'll be able to provide cover on the wings, if needed, but he was often accused of being a rather selfish player. His goalscoring record at Chelsea, where he netted 13 times in 61 appearances suggest Sturridge operated on the wings more frequently, though it is fair to point out that most of his appearances came from the bench. Liverpool are looking for a partner for Luis Suarez, after Andy Carroll failed to fill that role, it is up to a Sturridge to try his luck with Merseyside and watching him playing beside Luis Suarez will be entertaining to say the least.