Aug 182015

Out of favour Liverpool striker, Mario Balotelli appears set to be heading for the exit door at Anfield as claim that Sampdoria are having talks with his superstar agent Mino Raiola.

The recently turned 25-year old has struggled for playing time at Liverpool after sealing a £16 million move from Italian giants AC Milan last summer. The talented but volatile striker was signed as a replacement for goal machine Luis Suarez who completed an €80 million transfer to Barcelona.

However, things didn’t go to plan as the Italian struggled to adapt to the teams playing style and a lack of perceived work ethic causing friction with team mates and fans. Most of his perfomances were laboured and unproductive seeming like a fish out of water. Balotelli struggled to 16 Premier League appearances with a miserly return of just one goal.

His struggles in front of goal were well documented as Liverpool disappointingly crashed out of the Champions League in the group stage. The club also returned a poor 52 goals throughout the entire Premier League campaign which incidentally was the number of goals strike duo Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge combined to register in the previous campaign.

With a disappointing campaign hurriedly relegated to the past, the Anfield club has set about seeking attacking reinforcements with the signings of Roberto Firmino, Christian Benteke, Danny Ings and the return of loanee Divock Origi. The competition for places upfront is tougher and the club is willing to cut her lossed and move on the Italian who is still highly regarded in his homeland after succesful spells at both Milan clubs.

Sampdoria appear interested in acquiring the services of the 25-year old and with reports that talks are in an advanced stage, Balotelli could well be on his way.

 Posted by at 9:19 pm
Aug 012015

There is good and then there is Great. There are only two living legends at this time who can obtain that status. One has been featured in Forbes, The Huffington Post, and Gambling 911. The other has been featured on ESPN & 60 Minutes.

Both of these sports gamblers have their heart in Las Vegas, Nevada and have taken their fair share of money from sportsbooks in England and throughout Europe through the years.

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Mar 102015

According to the DailMail, Arsenal are confident they can sign the highly rated Morgan Schneiderlin from Southampton, Morgan Schneiderlin during the summer transfer window. The paper also revealed that Schneiderlin wants to join Arsenal.

According to the paper, the 25-year-old midfielder is currently valued at £25 million by the club. Southampton are in good form this season and Morgan Schneiderlin has been a huge part of their clubs successful campaign. Southampton’s performance have put them in a good position to qualify for the UEFA Champions League, an achievement that will see Southampton not only sell more Premier league football tickets next season but also do well commercially in every other aspect – should they manage to qualify for the champions league next season thats.

Schneiderlin has been a regular player for the impressive Southampton team so far this season. He featured in 20 games for his side this season in which he scored 3 goals.

He was rock solid for the club last season but his game has even thrived the more under the tactics of the Dutch Manager Ronald Koeman who joined the club last summer after the departure of Mauricio Pochettino to Tottenham.

Morgan Schneiderlin’s partnership with Victor Wanyama have been effective in forming a strong shield for the Southampton side and a base for the team’s build-up play.

Reports say Schneiderlin has an offer for a new contract from Southampton. A deal worth £60,000 a week. Reports indicate the Gunners feel they can lure him out of Southampton with a better offer financially and a chance to give his career a major professional boost by given him a chance to play in the UEFA Champions League.

For over ten years, the Gunners craved for a Defensive midfield leader. Something they lost with the departures of Gilberto Silva and Patrick Vieira. Morgan Schneiderlin surely possess the qualities needed in the midfield by Arsenal. He is not only a great leader, shield and enforcer of the defensive midfield, he is also a defensive midfielder with great technique and passing ability.

This season, the stats show that Schneiderlin consistently performs well when he gets on the pitch. According to, Schneiderlin averages 3.2 tackles and 2.3 interceptions per game. He is also good with the ball and is a precise passer with 89.1 percent of his passes completed. His style of play will fit in to that of Arsenal quite easily.

Schneiderlin have also won 52 tackles (42% tackle success) – the 20th best in the Premier League. He made 46 interceptions this season.

Schneiderlin is a natural, deep-lying, defensive midfielder and his partnership with Victor Wanyama have ensured Southampton conceded only 20 goals this season so far.

Schneiderlin is best at disrupting play of opponents by smart interceptions and well-timed tackles. His positional strength and battling role will be an important quality to complement the fast rising defensive hero at Arsenal, Coquelin.

Schneiderlin will be an ideal player for Arsenal because he possesses the qualities Arsenal require from a defensive midfielder. The defensive midfield has been a position that have hampered Arsenal’s title bids and with Schneiderlin coming in to complement Coquelin, that problem will finally be solved.

With Arsenal’s resurgence, coupled with few World Class signings of Mesut Ozil, Alexis Sanchez, Santi Carzola, Monreal, the emirates will be an ideal place for Schneiderlin to prove himself as a World Class Superstar.

However, Arsenal will not have a free ride to signing him. Reports indicate Tottenham wants Schneiderlin. However, Arsenal is a better move for him and he will know that.  With Arsenal, he has a better chance of playing champions league football season in season out. At Arsenal, Schneiderlin will have the opportunity of showcasing his talents to the world season in season out via the champions league.

Arsenal players are getting better and maturing with every game they play. Their recent FA Cup success shows the trophyless time is behind them and the club is serious in their hunt for trophies. Morgan Schneiderlin joining Arsenal gives him and the club a better chance to win trophies and it would be a whose decision for the defensive midfielder.

Also, Arsenal have a history of good working relationship with Southampton. Arsenal secured the services of Theo Walcott, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Callum Chambers from Southampton. With the healthy relationship between Arsenal and Southampton, Schneiderlin has a good chance of having a smoother transfer to Arsenal than other clubs hoping to sign him in the summer.

 Posted by at 11:26 am
Feb 272015

According to numerous reports including one Spanish paper AS earlier this week ran a story claiming that he was not getting along with manger Louis van Gaal with Spanish journalist Manu Sainz claiming that De Gea and Louis van Gaal have not spoken to each other in months.

To back up his claim he says have you ever heard the Dutchman praise the young Spaniard despite De Gea being the one responsible for saving United’s bacon on quite a few occasions this season.

There was even talk doing the rounds yesterday that Argentinian winger Angel Di Maria has told friends at Real Madrid that he made a huge mistake signing for the Northwest club last summer.

Last night football pundit Francois Gallardo said on Spanish television that De Gea was not happy at Old Trafford and has asked his agent Jorge Mendes to callFlorentino Pérez and get talks underway with Real Madrid.

Red Devil supporters should be worried about what is going on at United and in particular the situation with De Gea who only has 16 more months to run on his current contract.

The news coming out of Old Trafford is saying that things are progressing slowly towards the 24-year-old signing a new contract and while these dealing are never clear cut questions need to be asked as to how United could let this situation drag on so long while they know that Real Madrid would love to have De Gea as their replacement for 34-year-old Iker Casillas.

What are the odds of De Gea leaving Manchester United? You can find out on sites such as But if you ask me, I will say the chances of he leaving is not high. In some ways it could very well be that United has already made up their mind that they were going to lose the Spanish international to Madrid which is why they signed former Barcelona goal keeper Victor Valdes a player van Gaal knows well from his time at the Catalan giants.

Meanwhile Manchester United will be looking to get their top-four finish back on track following the 2-1 loss to Swansea City last weekend as they travel to Wearside to take on Guy Poyet and his struggling Sunderland who will be looking to maintain their current position just above the bottom three. Although football betting sites such as have United as hot favorites to beat Sunderland, the players and coaching staff will do well not to underrate the black cats.

United will be without star striker Robin van Persie for the match against the Black Cats on Saturday, after having limped away from the Liberty Stadium on crutches last weekend when he twisted his ankle during the later stages of the game.

With still no news on how long the Dutchman will be out, there are two positives in that James Wilson is available for selection, and that Michael Carrick is nearly fit after returning to training on Thursday.

 Posted by at 7:40 pm
Feb 012015

The Cheltenham Festival is by a big margin the biggest horse race meeting on the National Hunt calendar in the UK. It is not only popular among the spectators but as well as among putters. The event accounts for a big portion of all annual revenue both on and off the internet when it comes to horse racing.

There are various forms and methods of Cheltenham betting and all forms and methods are designed in such a way that the putters are given the best possible value for their money. Cheltenham betting is not a new thing, it has been around for a couple of years even as the festival becomes more and more popular among fans in the UK and globally.

Cheltenham festival is a multi race event. It includes the champion hurdle and Cheltenham Gold cup. It is perfectly normal for putters in the UK to bet on large horse races over the years hence Cheltenham betting is extremely popular in the UK in March – which is the time of the year the event takes place.

In recent times, customers have had more methods of Cheltenham betting than previous years. Most of the experienced putters will dwager through high street shops or go through Bookmakers who will be on hand at the Cheltenham racecourse.

Online Cheltenham betting has become a very big business. This is simply because the event is becoming more and more popular and there are more and more people betting on their favorites jockey and horses. There are often many bookmakers out there who are offering would be putters different promotions and special offers in order to attract the most income during the event.

Due to the fact that more and more people than use their mobile phones to access the internet than they do via a normal computer, bookmakers now allow mobile betting. Many bookmakers now have applications that can be downloaded to mobile phones which allows the customers to place bets on the go and any where in the world and any time of the day.

However, Cheltenham betting is more popular in certain periods of the festival. Statistics should that more and more people place bets on their favorite horses on the first and the last day of the festival. This is mainly because of the euphoria of the opening day causes many of the big putters to be laid back while the big number of bets on the last day is due to the fact that the last day has some of the biggest races in the event.

How safe is Cheltenham betting online betting?

The internet is a risky world however, over the years, bookmakers have put in place better security software to ensure customers do not run the risk of losing money to hackers and scammers. This is in a bid to encourage more and more people to use the online platform to place their Cheltenham bets.

Bookmakers get busier in the week preceding the event, as the events gets closer and the excitement of the upcoming event grows among the public. There is usually so much competition among the bookmakers for customers. The big bookmakers are often putting all hands on the deck to ensure they get a big churn of the customer base during the event. This big competition ends up working in favor of the putters who as a result of the competition in the market have different options to choose from. Cheltenham betting is a very big event hence all the big bookmakers take the event very seriously knowing full well there is much money to be made from the event.

 Posted by at 12:19 pm
Jan 282015

As the English Premier League enters the business stage of the season, every result carries more importance for teams challenging for the title as one slip-up can prove costly. Manchester City benefitted from Liverpool’s late wobble at the end of last season, but Manuel Pellegrini’s side may not be able to hope for an element of fortune second time around. The defending champions have successfully clawed back the deficit to current leaders Chelsea who threatened to run away with the 2014/2015 title, but a hard-fought draw at Everton allowed Jose Mourinho’s side to go two points clear following their victory against Newcastle. Three points in the upcoming fixture may already be imperative at this stage of the season, but this is by no means guaranteed against an Arsenal side who appear to have found form at the right time in their pursuit of qualifying for the Champions League for the 18th consecutive year. It is difficult to call a winner between two teams who love to play enterprising, free-flowing football in what could be a pivotal game at the Etihad, with neutrals hoping for a repeat of last season’s 6-3 thriller.

Manchester City

A twelve game unbeaten streak has put Manchester City right back into contention to successful defend their Premier League crown following a slow start to the season which threatened to let Chelsea run away into the distance. Although the last three fixtures against Burnley, Sunderland and Everton have highlighted uncharacteristic defensive frailties which may have cost crucial points, Pellegrini’s side always have the quality in attack to cause problems for any team. Their rich vein of form also coincides with Pellegrini having a fully fit squad to choose from, with Vincent Kompany and Sergio Aguero returning to fitness following injury lay-offs. However, the absence of Yaya Toure, who is participating at the African Cup of Nations for the Ivory Coast, could have a negative effective; Manchester City have a poor record without their powerful midfielder, with City not recording a win without Toure since April.


An excellent 3-0 victory at the Emirates against Stoke was the perfect tonic for Arsenal who recovered from their potentially damaging defeat at Southampton on New Year’s Day in style. Thirteen points may be too big a gap for Arsene Wenger’s side to overturn in order to reach the Premier League summit, but in Alexis Sanchez have undoubtedly the most in-form player in England. The former Barcelona star has been a revelation since arriving in the summer, with the Chilean injecting true quality into Arsenal’s attack through speed, skill and a deadly eye for goal which has so far produced 12 goals in 20 league appearances. He is undoubtedly the last player Manchester City want to face, with Sanchez likely to pounce on any errors made by the defence or Joe Hart in goal. However, Arsenal may wish to keep it tight at the back themselves given they have only recorded 6 clean sheets all season, and coming up against a team who have already scored 45 goals is likely to be a real test of their defensive qualities.

 Posted by at 10:14 am
Jan 152015

West Brom has had a bid for Leicester City striker Jamie Vardy turned down. The Baggies, who are reportedly looking for a replacement for their star man, Saido Berahino who is looking increasingly set to leave the Hawthorns as Tottenham and Liverpool circle. Both teams have struggled for goals this season with Liverpool in particular suffering most.

After the inevitable departure of Luis Suarez to Barcelona, Daniel Sturridge had been expected to shoulder a large chunk of the goalscoring responsibility borne by the mercurial Uruguayan last season. However, injuries have limited the Englishman influence and the trio of attacking talent purchased by Rodgers have failed to fire with Mario Balotelli the worst culprit.

Tottenham too have suffered this season for lack of goals as Erik Lamela and Roberto Soldado have not been able to produce the goals for which Spurs paid handsomely for them to provide. In contrast Berahino has been a revelation this season starring in a West Brom team that is faring well with life in the English top flight while weighing in with important goals and assists against the Division’s best teams.

Although West Brom have always insisted the player is not up for sale unless a bid of £25m is made for the player, it is believed Liverpool have a strong chance of signing the player since as Liverpool owners are willing to pay whats required in order to get the striker and try to savage their season.

 Posted by at 11:11 am
Jan 142015

One player who has not failed to make his love and affection to Arsenal known to the public is Newcastle United midfielder Moussa Sissoko. The 25-year old French international is one of the most versatile players in his club, and could well be our next defensive midfielder come the end of the winter transfer window should all go according to plan.

The winter window doesn’t provide as many opportunities as the summer where players switch clubs with ease. Wenger does not have the luxury of time as time is fast running out, and signing a DM is one of the priorities of the manager if we are to secure our place in the top four. 

Sissoko may not be a combative midfielder, but his versatility in his current club has made him one of the players we need to take a look at. His love for Arsenal is known to all, and was quoted in a recent interview granted to Telefoot at the weekend where he issued what looked like a ‘come and get me plea.’ Sissoko said:

“England remains my priority. If (Arsenal boss) Arsene Wenger calls me? We will have a discussion man to man. Arsenal has always been the club of my heart.”

At 6ft 2in, the French international has the physical ability to marshal Arsenal’s midfield and boss attackers of opposing teams. Signing him could take us back to the Vieira days where the Arsenal midfield scared opposing teams, and gave us the edge in terms of controlling how things went.  

He would certainly be an upgrade on what we have at the moment; but of course, signing him would mean the end for Diaby whose contract is nearing its end. He does look like the typical Wenger signing, and he is unlikely to command similar transfer fee as William Carvalho and Morgan Schneiderlin; two players whose transfer value could be in excess of £20million.

My take on this is that the manager may make do with what we have at the moment, and go all out to sign Southampton’s Morgan Schneiderlin in the summer.

 Posted by at 6:41 pm
Jan 142015

Chelsea have emerged as clear favourite to sign Arsenal and Manchester United target Marco Reus from his Bundesliga side Borussia Dortmund.

The 25-year-old forward has been in the middle of transfer speculations in recent months after it emerged that he could leave Jorgen Kloop’s side for a buy-out clause as low as £20million in the summer. The player still have 18 months left on his contract at Signal Iduna Park but has refused to enter a new contract talk with his club and the club could lose him to other clubs in Europe in a cut-price deal this transfer window.

Arsenal, Manchester United, Manchester City and Spainish giant Real Madrid have all been linked to the player but Chelsea seems to have jumped to the front of the queue after it emerged Jorgen Klopp is interested in bringing back Chelsea out-of-favour German winger Andre Schurrle back to Germany.

Andre Schurrle has failed to establish himself in Jose Mourinho’s starting XI and has seen little action this season with Willian, Oscar and Hazard all ahead of him in his position. Jose Mourinho has also grown increasingly frustrated with the German forward performance and could use him as part of a player plus cash deal to bring compatriot Marco Reus to Stamford Bridge.

Dortmund has shown interest in Schurrle and would like him to return to Germany. They could use him as part of Reus deal to Chelsea since they are resigned to losing the player at a cut-price in the summer.

Reus have grown frustrated at the club’s transfer policy in recent season which have seen key players leave the club for rival Bayern Munich. Mario Gotze joined the Pep Guardiola’s side in the summer of 2013 with striker Robert Lewandoski following suit a year later.

With the prospect of having Schurrle in the deal to take Reus to Stamford Bridge, Chelsea would have jumped ahead of the rival for the signature of the versatile forward.

Dortmund could be forced to sell with Schurrle who himself is a £20million target of Wolfsburg part of the deal even as Jorgen Klopp is seen as a big admirer of the German world cup winner.

Reus is a technically gifted player, fast, strong and have a good control of the ball on his feet. He is also versatile which means he can play anywhere along the forward line. His intricate play means he can bag in loads of assists and can score goals too. It is no surprise any top club in Europe will want a player of his quality in their side.

 Posted by at 12:10 pm
Jan 102015

Reports have surfaced in various online media outlets that Barcelona superstar and talisman, Lionel Messi has issued a come-and-get-me plea to English giants Manchester City, Manchester United and Chelsea amidst reports of a lingering internal crisis at the Catalan club. Trusted sources insist that Messi can be lured to either team if a bid in excess of £500m is tabled.

Messi, 27, is reported to have fallen out with the Manager, Luis Enrique due to his training methods which have not been well received by majority of the senior playing personnel. The former Spain international, he a club legend has sought to limit the almost larger than life influence of the talismanic Argentine within the club ranks, a stance which Messi has vehemently rejected.

However, despite the lingering internecine crisis at the club, it is a no-brainer that the club would never consider selling him to any of the two afore-mentioned teams. Firstly the Catalan giants have been slammed with a 2-year player transfer ban for the underhand tactics they employed in trying to lure under age players to the club. It would therefore be unthinkable that they will be selling any player soon, not the least their best player by a mile.

The Rosario-born native has often been the go-to man when it comes to getting the goals for Barca for the last decade as he has proven time and again to be the match winner and difference maker, scoring tons of goals, many of them decisive and important and it would amount to suicide if they decide to sell him as his goals directly impact the down line in that goals fetch trophies and trophies bring in commercial endorsements, which is the fiscal life-blood of a big club like Barcelona.

Secondly it is no secret that Barcelona’s period of absolute domestic and continental dominance were during the times when the Argentine was at the peak of his powers and it is only plausible that they will feel that it is important to keep their prized jewel happy because once he is happy, there are very few defences on planet earth that can stop him. And if it would take the departure of Luis Enrique for him to be happy, they would not mind firing him.

The wane of the club’s grip on the mantle of continental and domestic totem of power coincided with the time when the Argentine was unhappy-the sad demise of former first-team coach, Tito Vilanova who lost a long battle to cancer, the tax-evasion case, and several career-interrupting injuries that contributed in a subsequent loss of form contributed in no small measure to the unhappy state of mind of the brilliant Argentine.

Messi’s rivalry with Cristiano Ronaldo is one that would continue to divide and delight fans and pundits alike in equal measure. Barcelona are not stupid too because they know that for them to be within touching distance of their fiercest rivals, Real Madrid they have to ensure that Messi remains at Camp Nou for many years probably for the rest of his career. And the capital club isnot their only direct rivals but Chelsea and Manchester City, two teams who are bent on maintaining a grip at the pinnacle of European football and it will simply be foolhardy to sell their most prized asset to their rivals no matter the price on offer.

 Posted by at 8:47 pm
Jan 082015

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 Posted by at 1:44 pm
Nov 192014

Manchester United Manager Louis Van Gaal has finally resolved to a 4-1-4-1 formation after a failure of his 3-5-2. One regrets the manager would be living with now is selling his wing options in Danny Welbeck and Luis Nani. The Natural right-footed wide men are nothing to desire at the moment. Antonio Valencia is preferred as a right full back for obvious reasons; the Ecuadorian surprises as the wing forward are over. Ashley Young is not any better; the English has been side-lined with injury, his struggling performance under Moyes reign proofs he is not a player to make the difference united needs at the moment. Luis Nani, the most promising of the 3 natural right-wings forward on loan at Sporting. Di Maria is improving by match and Januzaj struggling with maturity. Juan Cuadrado seems a great option for the in need Manchester United and with Chelsea in the race to land the Colombian, would United be a loser in missing out of this deal?

Juan Cuadrado 26-years old had a great world cup year helping his country reach the quarter final at the world cup with 1 goal and 4 assist to his credit. Juan had scored 11 times in 32 league appearances the season that preceded the world cup. The Colombian international has only 1 goal to his credit this season after 11 appearances.

With United under performing on the flanks, Cuadrado may seem a great option to look at but considering the pace and physicality of the game in England the Colombian may need time to adapt to the pace of the game. The Colombian is no less of a player still mastering his game and the huge expectation that awaits his arrival might be a problem he may not be able to deal with. It is a risk to consider him a quick fix to United standing problems on the flanks but considering Evra and Vidic’s debut against Manchester and the player they became as they mature with the team, Cuadrado may work into United long –term plan or may be another Chealsea’s Ricardo Quaresma with too many promises which the Stamford bridge fan never saw.

Manchester United have a quick answer to the limitation of the flanks in a skilful, well experienced wide man who has been part of the club since 2007, Luis Nani. The Portuguese international may have been side-lined for some time now but seems to be on top of his game with Sporting. The 2011 man united player of the year and nominee for young footballer of the year is having an exceptional comeback in his loan spell with half of Sporting goals having Nani’s direct contribution. Nani, who has bagged 6 goals in 13 appearances including 3 champions’ league goals, is a better quick fix to Juan Cuadrado who would be starting out as a new comer to the game in England.

News surrounding the club has suggested that the manager is thinking of recalling Nani back into the team. It is apparently a step in the right direction and with the summer transfer news suggesting that the manager had advised Memphis Depay to wait for only a season to be a Manchester player, the worse of United’s nightmare may be hitting its climax. Juan Cuadrado’s contribution will definitely be required should he join the club but the quick fix in Nani would be a more reasonable option at the moment.

 Posted by at 7:10 pm
Nov 192014

Defending the African Cup of Nations won back in 2013 is on the back of the minds of many Nigerians but the Super Eagles will have to overcome the obstacle in front of them today in Uyo to stand a chance of making the dream work out fine. Bafana Bafana of South Africa is through the AFCON 2015 but will look to end the winless streak against Nigeria when they face the Super Eagles in Nigeria on Wednesday. South Africa coach Ephraim ‘Shakes’ Mashaba will want to continue his good start to his reign with the Bafana Bafana by helping his team secure a victory. South Africa is unbeaten in the 2015 qualifying series and a loss against Nigeria will not even take them off the first place position. Mashaba will be looking forward to the match as he is expected to field a strong line-up as they have nothing to lose against the Super Eagles. Nigeria on the other hand has never lost a competitive match to South Africa and they will hope to make it remain like that with the full support of the fans.

Stephen Keshi led Super Eagles will have to take the three maximum points if they are to qualify without any issue as Congo will be looking to take the maximum points in Sudan. Anything but the victory may be disastrous for the Super Eagles. Their hopes were revived after a hard earned 2-0 away win in Congo at the weekend and Stephen Keshi will hope his boys can wrap it all up today and make it to AFCON 2015. South Africa confirmed their place in the finals after a 2-1 win home win against Sudan last weekend even without some of their regular players. The South Africans will have a lot to do to keep their focus and stay concentrated as the result has nothing to do with their position in the group. The South Africans will only be playing for pride and it will definitely be a crunchy tie.

Although the Super Eagles will be playing in front of their fans, the loss to Congo should have taught them some lessons knowing fully well the South Africans can also win here in Nigeria. Ikechukwu Uche’s return has added more to the attack and he is expected to start alongside Emmanuel Emenike and Ahmed Musa. Onazi and Mikel are both expected to start in the midfield. Enyeama, Oshaniwa, Omeruo, Egwueke and Ambrose are all expected to start in the defensive set up. The South Africans will be without Thulani Serero and Lehlohonolo Majoro but will hope to give their best all the same.

The Super Eagles need nothing but victory and the team is in pole position to grab the maximum three points today. However, it will not come easy as the South Africans will do their best to frustrate the Nigeria national team. Although anything is possible in football but the Super Eagles should see out this one against favourite South Africa.

 Posted by at 8:36 am
Nov 092014

In a bid to bolster Arsenal’s defensive options in January, reports have indicated that Arsene Wenger is considering a move for Aston Villa captain Ron Vlaar. So far this season, incessant injuries have side-lined several of Arsenal defenders leaving the few remaining too frail to put up an enterprising show.

Last season, Ron Vlaar was instrumental in the Birmingham based club’s performance and was even more fantastic when he featured for the Dutch national team at the recently concluded World Cup. His rock solid presence in the defence made sure that the Orange boys left the tournament with a bronze medal. Having shown great team spirit coupled with his vast experience spanning 10 years, Arsene Wenger believes that with Vlaar he could fill the void which Thomas Vermaleen’s absence has created after the defender switched over to Barcelona. The Arsenal manager reached out to the Villa Park club towards the closing of last summer’s transfer market but due to several factors, the deal fell through. However, with the spate of events going on at the Emirates, Wenger’s interest in the Dutchman appear to  have been rekindled as he is now reported to be lining up a bid to test Aston Villa’s resolve in the New Year.

Arsenal is determined to sign at least one central-defender next month with Laurent Koscielny out with an Achilles injury.  Full-back Nacho Monreal has been deployed in the central-defence for some time now but with the uninspiring performance that saw the Gunners surrender their 3-goal advantage over Dutch side, Anderlecht, their defensive frailties have now been seriously bared. With a title quest in sight, it will be disastrous for a team of Arsenal’s status to let the January window slide by without hiring extra legs in the defence.

While the Villa Park owners may not be too rigid to do business, Arsenal will face stiff competition in rivals Manchester United who have also been seriously linked to the 29-years-old. It will be recalled that Vlaar featured under Louis van Gaal at the World Cup when the manager was still in charge of the Holland team and it is expected that the cordial relationship between the two will be of advantage to the Manchester giants.

As it is normal, Aston Villa will want to keep their versatile captain but considering the fact that Ron Vlaar is at the last lap of his contract, his current employers will have their last chance to get some cash on him by January or risk losing him for free next summer. It is not certain how much Aston Villa wants for Vlaar but with the interests from Arsenal and Manchester United, they may decide to spark up a bidding war. Louis van Gaal has defensive worries of his own, his team are yet to recover from the exits of Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic and to make matters worse, his other defenders have also not be too lucky with injuries this term. Although Vlaar is quite older than most of the players that Manchester United have signed this summer, if he finally moves to Old Trafford, he could be a band-aid in the short term.

 Posted by at 1:27 pm
Nov 072014

The rumours surrounding Bayern Munich midfielder, Xherdan Shaqiri are intensifying daily and The Daily Star has recently reported that Arsenal, Liverpool and Tottenham are all involved in the chase for the Swiss playmaker.

Shaqiri has been rumoured to be eyeing a move out of the Allianz Arena despite featuring several times for the Pep Guardiola side early last season. For all his troubles, he has not been able to establish himself as a first choice at Bayern Munich as he has continued to play second fiddle to the duo of Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery. Despite the club declaring him surplus to requirements early this year, the midfielder has vowed to play to the best of his ability for the German champions.

In his predicaments, Italian outfit Juventus and Roma have both signalled interest but Bayern later made public their desire to retain the Swiss services and they further underlined their seriousness when they rejected Liverpool’s £12m bid around June this year.

Shaqiri has won two Bundesliga laurels, a Champions League trophy and two DFB- Pokals since he moved to the German giants and it appears that he is currently considering a contract extension with his employers. While fielding questions from journalists, Shaqiri was quoted to have said:

‘Liverpool made a bid for me before the World Cup but Bayern put their feet down and told me’ we are not going to sell you. My contract runs until 2016 and I could possibly extend it. I will consider my decision during the winter break. I try to do my best in training and when the coach rewards me with appearances, like against Hannover, then that is even better. I am always delighted when I can start games and I show that too, like I did this time. I think everybody could see how hungry I am to play football.’

The midfielder appears to be focusing on the upcoming clash where his country will be hosting England in Basel and he added that “I expect England to come over with a lot of young players who aren’t so well known. They will want to repair the damage after not doing so well at the World cup finals. They will come over to Switzerland looking to win but we will play our normal game and we will be going for victory too” said the Swiss.

Despite all these claims, several sources in Germany have insisted that even if Bayern are not going to out-rightly offload Shaqiri, a loan deal might be on the offer. Tottenham are reported to be interested in the prospect of have him on a temporary basis at first with the option of a temporary deal if he impresses. Bayern Munich however know that if their player moves to North London, the probability of him impressing at the White Hart Lane is huge and at his age, Tottenham will be willing to offer him a long term contract provided they can have him on trial basis for now. So the ball is in Bayern’s court. They could take their chances on the midfielder and ship him off to London or keep him at the Allianz Arena as a future option.

 Posted by at 2:02 pm
Oct 232014

One of Manchester United’s long term targets Marco Reus is reportedly inching closer to a switch to the Old Trafford club. it will be recalled that last month EXPRESS reported United’s interest. Although German giants, Borrusia Dortmund and Bayern Munich are already at logger heads because of the player, pundits have continue to wonder what Pep Guardiola really plans to do with Reus especially as he has been widely reported to be demanding about  a £8m/annum wage structure.

Reus is very dynamic and can be deployed in any of the flanks or even as a striking partner to any of the top strikers at Old Trafford, but to lure the German over to Manchester, Louis van Gaal will have to match a transfer fee of about £19m in addition to the bumper wage deal and also get his side a Champions League spot.

German legend Franz Beckenbauer while fielding questions from Bild in August stated that Manchester United ranks among the few clubs that Marco Reus could consider in the event where he chooses to make a switch and was further quoted to have said “I can imagine him at Bayern very well. If you can get a player of his class, you need to try it. I am sure if he doesn’t go to Bayern in 2015, he will probably go to another big international club such as Real Madrid or Manchester United. Dortmund are unlikely to be able to hold him.

This statement kind of rules out the possibility of Reus staying on at Dortmund as the club is always conscious of the number of high salaried players they have and if an offer comes, the German side will be sure to sell, but the idea of the player going to Old Trafford is hard to comprehend. Louis van Gaal has several options to choose from when it comes to his attacking options and it will be financially irresponsible of a team in Manchester United’s situation to sign another player in a position where they have about five players already. With Wayne Rooney, Marouane Fellaini, Juan Mata, Adnan Januzaj and sometimes James Wilson, of what use will the purchase of Marcos Reus be?

Many have opined that with the ineptitude on the part of Juan Mata, Louis van Gaal might consider shoving out the Spaniard, and also, it doesn’t appear that youngster Adnan Januzaj will be breaking into the starting line-up anytime soon and as such if Reus will be available for as little as £19m, the Manchester United boss might just decide to sign him on once he frees up more space by seeing Mata off.

However, this is still a long shot. Juan Mata might be finding things tough at the moment but it doesn’t mean the former Chelsea man has no more tricks up his sleeves and more so, if van Gaal must sign more players, then I believe he should focus more on his midfield and defence.

 Posted by at 5:22 pm
Oct 222014

Amid strong transfer links to Arsenal and Chelsea, Manchester United is reportedly preparing a whooping £200,000-a-week offer for Real Madrid’s midfielder and World Cup winner, Sami Khedira according to Daily Star. The 27-year-old player’s contract elapses at the end of the season and all effort by his employers, the UEFA Champions’ League title holders, had proved abortive. The most reasonable option for Real Madrid now is to cash in on the midfielder, cut price notwithstanding, in January, but that option may not be taken by most of his suitors, knowing they could wait for 6 months and get him on a free.

Sami Khedira, who won the 2014 FIFA World Cup with Germany in Brazil, was said to be interested in a move to Arsenal this summer with Real Madrid and the London club, said to have reached an agreement on fees, worth, £27m. However, the player’s wage demand of £150, 000-a-week was said to have stalled the arrangement on personal terms premise. It was later reported that, the defensive midfielder has slashed his wage demand to £134,000 weekly in a last ditch move to revive the move but Arsenal did not seem ready for talks as the club was obviously busy with strengthening other departments of the squad. This dragged on until news emanated from Spain that the player has rejected a contract extension from Madrid and is poised to either leave or stay at Madrid to see out his contract, which expires at the end of this season. So, the desperation to sell Khedira is hinged upon the prospect of losing the player on a free at the end of the season. Therefore, Arsenal and later Chelsea were thought to stand very good chance of landing the player in January for a very meagre transfer fee or for free at the end of the season.

The situation now is that Manchester United is reportedly aiming to surpass the weekly wage that Chelsea and Arsenal are willing to offer the player. While Arsenal were favourites to sign the player with weekly wage in excess of £100,000-a-week in mind, Chelsea were thought to be willing to pay Khedira £150,000 weekly, the fee initially demanded by the player from Arsenal, a situation which stalled the deal in the summer. Now, with a £200, 000-a-week offer plans by Manchester United, Sami Khedira would without blinking be a Manchester United player next summer, without considering the player’s preference or choice of club.

For Arsenal, acquiring the services of Sami Khedira would mean something to their title challenge as the versatility of the player in the midfield is well documented. While Mikel Arteta would no doubt be in and out of the treatment room for the duration of the season, Khedira is more than capable of holding forth in his absence. The defensive and offensive attributes of the former Stuttgart man is well known and he could add some defensive steel to an Arsenal midfield that lacks some physicality and aerial dominance. At 27 years, Sami Khedira could give Arsenal some 3-4 good years filling in defensively in the midfield, though he could also be used as a box-to-box midfielder. While many Arsenal supporters crave a younger, Patrick Vieira/ Emmanuel Petit/ Gilberto Silva type defensive midfielder, Sami Khedira would come in to add experience that may be lacking in players in their early 20s, to that role and give Arsenal some stability in the middle. Therefore his place in the Arsenal squad would be secured, if he moves in that direction.

But at Chelsea however, the presence of Cesc Fabregas, Nemanja Matic, Ramires and John Obi Mikel is a strong pointer to the fact that he may not get regular playing time under Jose Mourinho and this situation would just be a setback for the player, coming from real Madrid in a similar situation. Madrid signed Khedira’s younger compatriot, Toni Kroos and James Rodriguez into a team that already had Asier Illaramendi and a host of other Spanish players, all jostling for regular playing time. It would be safe to say that regular playing time at Chelsea would be less guaranteed for Sami Khedira, despite having the cash to spend on the player’s weekly wages.

Manchester United might be the best option for Khedira as they are ready to almost double whatever Arsenal and Chelsea are offering as weekly wage, the presence of players like Marouane Fellaini, newly signed Ander Herrera and Daley Blind, could just put paid to Sami Khedira’s switch to Old Trafford, if playing regularly matters to the German midfielder. The Red Devils under Dutch manager, Louis Van Gaal has shown desperation in the transfer market as they spent about £150m this summer securing the services of 6 players to get back into English Premier League and European prominence. On that premise, the Old Trafford outfit may just edge all other English clubs to the signing of Khedira, but if Khedira is passionate about his contribution to any squad on a regular basis, then Manchester United may not be the best option for him.

’Tayo Amosu.


Oct 222014

In faraway Benfica, another player is being linked to Manchester United. Nicholas Gaitan’s contract with the Portuguese outfit runs out in 2016, and he hitherto had a verbal agreement with his current employers for a contract extension. Several times in the past, the Argentine had been linked to the Old Trafford outfit but they all turned out to be spurious claims. One of such claims was made by Portuguese newspaper Record which reported that towards the end of August, Manchester United made a bid but were unwilling to match the £30m fee that Benfica wanted.

His current employers have a dicey issue on their hands now that they have sold out some of their finest squad members and must now strive to convince Gaitan who doesn’t want to recognise the earlier verbal agreement to stay at the Club. On the player’s part, he is now 26-years and if he pens down a new contract with a high buyout clause, then he might as well choose to remain in Portugal for the remaining years of his career.

However, it appears that the player’s agents are the ones fuelling the rumours of a potential move to Manchester United because Jackson Martinez who they also represent had been heavily linked at one point or the other with the Louis van Gaal side, but do the Red Devils actually need him?

The answer to this question should be a no brainer but to sound objective, an analysis of the current situation at the club would be essential. Nicholas Gaitan plays in an attacking-midfield role and at the moment, Louis van Gaal has at his disposal, at least four players in Wayne Rooney, Juan Mata, Marouane Fellaini and Adnan Januzaj who could churn out wonderful performances in the position. More so, the manager’s mercurial formation makes it very difficult to fit in more than one anchor between the midfield and the strikers, as it was evident with Juan Mata’s plight when he had to wait for Wayne Rooney’s ban to get games. Either the manager chooses the diamond style midfield formation, or the conventional 4-4-2, he will still be left with about two midfielders grumbling for lack of game time, so why then will he fork out a whooping £30m to sign a player in a position where he has a surplus?

In the same vein, Manchester United lack a midfield enforcer, someone of Nemanja Matic’s status who can provide the much needed physical presence in the midfield, and unless the Argentine can bring that into the fray, then he has no business at Old Trafford. Louis van Gaal’s headache at the moment should be to wrap his head around the issues affecting his defensive unit and attempt to solve it. With as much as £30m, he could hire the services of Ron Vlaar and Ryan Shawcross both of whom can reduce the rate at which the Red Devils leak goals.

By Tomilayo Alapinni