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Wayne Rooney’s options in leaving Manchester United are very limited

Much has been made of the transition at Premier League champions Manchester United. The Old Trafford club will have to come to terms with the fact that Sir Alex Ferguson will no longer be the man in charge, with new boss David Moyes to assume the position next season. However, a key player could also be on his way out in the form of Wayne Rooney. The England international is said to have handed in a transfer request – however realistic options on where the forward could move to are few and far between.

United have stated that Rooney is not for sale, but if the attacker insists on leaving the Premier League champions could well be forced to part with the forward. Those who bet on the Premier League will know that the Old Trafford outfit will be reluctant to sell Rooney to one of their domestic rivals, despite links with Chelsea and Arsenal of late. The favourable odds are on Rooney moving abroad should he leave Manchester United.

The attacker’s salary and the potential transfer fee will also be an issue. Rooney is rumoured to currently earn more than £200,000 per week at Old Trafford, and the number of clubs that could, or would be willing to, come close to offering this are minimal. Add to this a transfer fee likely to be well in excess of £20 million, and Rooney’s purchase is a very expensive one.

Wayne Rooney

Barcelona have been linked with Rooney, but a move to the Camp Nou seems unlikely given the Catalan club’s policy to build from within. Real Madrid are unlikely to be interested, while a move to an Italian club like Juventus would force Rooney to drop his salary considerably. Bayern Munich have the financial means to buy him, but have publicly stated that they are not interested.

Realistically this only really leave Paris Saint-Germain, with betting tips pointing in this direction. A move to the French capital would make sense, as Carlo ancelotti’s men are on the rise, have the financial clout to buy him and have former team-mate David Beckham in their ranks. However, despite PSG having ambitions to become a major force in Europe, Rooney would have to settle for second-rate domestic football in Ligue 1.

Although Rooney may well be unsettled currently, with Moyes coming to the club there is no guarantee that he won’t see the changes at United as an opportunity to reinvigorate his career at Old Trafford. Given the obstacles such as his wages and transfer fee, the lack of big-name suitors and United’s reluctancy to sell to another Premier League club, and Rooney does not have a lot of options.

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No Arsenal, Chelsea, Manchester United or City: Champions League quarter-final preview

For the first time since 1996 there is no English representation in the quarter-finals of the Champions League. Despite this, the draw has still thrown up some potentially exciting ties that are bound to produce plenty of goals and talking points.

Malaga v Borussia Dortmund

Probably the least glamorous looking of the ties but has the potential to be one of the most entertaining. Both teams have been extremely impressive in getting this far. Malaga topped their group, remaining unbeaten, and finishing ahead of AC Milan and Zenit, before overturning a first-leg deficit against Porto in the last 16. Dortmund meanwhile were put in the so-called Group of Death alongside Manchester City, Real Madrid and Ajax. They too remained unbeaten though, and also finished first in their group before sweeping aside Shakhtar in the last 16.

Mario Gotze

While most people will look at Isco as Malaga’s main threat, the experience they possess with the likes of Joaquin, Toulalan, Saviola and Demichelis is not to be under-estimated though, and they will be prepared for the occasion. Dortmund’s youth and attacking style may just prove to be too much for the Spaniards however, and with the guaranteed goals and creativity of Mario Gotze, Marco Reus and Robert Lewandowski along with home advantage in the second leg, the Germans may well be a good outside bet to make it all the way to Wembley.

Real Madrid v Galatasaray

The second favourites meet the rank outsiders in this quarter-final tie. Madrid cruised through their group, even though they finished second to Dortmund, and then controversially saw off Manchester United over two tense games. Galatasaray just edged through their group ahead of CFR Cluj and their attacking prowess saw them score three in Germany to get past Schalke.

Didier Drogba

There is no doubting the Turkish side’s attacking options. Didier Drogba and Wesley Sneijder were the big name signings in January but they also boast the joint top scorer in the competition with Burak Yilmaz. Add to this the experience of Felipe Melo and Hamit Altintop in the midfield and they certainly have a strong core to their team. Over two games though it is hard to see a defence which has already conceded in all but one game in the competition so far this season containing the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo and company. Galatasaray do have the advantage of being at home for the second leg but they cannot afford to be more than a goal or two behind after their trip to the Bernabeu.

Paris Saint-Germain v Barcelona

Undoubtedly the tie of the round, the big-spending French team against the side who have raised most of their players through their youth team. Despite a couple of wobbles along the way against Celtic and in the first leg against AC Milan, the Catalan giants still remain the team to beat. As they showed in the second leg against Milan they are still unstoppable when they are on form. PSG were very impressive in topping their group and despite a nervy second leg against Valencia they deservedly fought their way through.

Jordi Alba

The biggest problem for the French side in the first game will be the continued suspension of Zlatan Ibrahimovic. To have any chance against Barcelona they will need their strongest team and it will be a big blow to not have their talisman. Not that PSG are a one-man team though. Ezequiel Lavezzi continues to show his talent with five goals in this tournament and they have the exciting young talents of Lucas Moura and Javier Pastore. The problem they may find though is getting the ball to these players, but if they can there is no doubt they can cause Barcelona problems. It would be no surprise if Paris Saint-Germain got a positive result at home but as Milan found out in the last 16, it needs a big lead to take to the Nou Camp for the return game.

Bayern Munich v Juventus

The final tie pits together two of the heavyweights of European football over the years. Bayern have been very impressive to this stage and despite their second-leg defeat to Arsenal they still dominated in terms of attempts at goal and possession. Juventus came through a slow start to qualify first from a group containing Shakhtar and defending champions Chelsea, before brushing aside the challenge of Celtic.

Andrea Pirlo

Bayern will be determined to make amends for their final defeat to Chelsea last year and they certainly have a team who find it easy to create chances and, certainly at domestic level, score goals. They are coming up against a side though that is more of a stereotypical Italian team. Solid at the back and good in possession, Juve play the game at their own pace. They may be short of big names but they have an Italian core that are well drilled and know exactly what they are doing. This is probably the hardest of the quarter-finals to call, but it may well be that Bayern’s extra options in the attacking third will be enough to see them through; but only just.

By Chris Newman

Liverpool and Tottenham miss out on cut-price Milos Krasic

After a campaign of discontent in Turin, Milos Krasic sealed a move to Fenerbahce recently, ending a frustrating time with Juventus. The Serbian winger was once one of the hottest prospects in European football but after a season of being overlooked by Antonio Conte the eastern European flyer has switch to the Turkish giants for around £5.5 million. Despite Krasic not playing a lot of football in 2011-12, the Super Lig side have snapped up a bargain under the noses of a number of Premier League clubs.

Juventus relied on the likes of Claudio Marchisio and Simone Pepe last year to provide attacking impetus from midfield, and as such Krasic only made a handful of appearances in the Bianconeri’s Scudetto-winning campaign. However, the 27-year-old has proved himself as a dangerous and able wideman at CSKA Moscow, internationally and certainly in his first season in Italy. Under Luigi Delneri Krasic was one of the bright lights in an otherwise mundane Juve side in 2010-11.

Once it became apparent that Conte would not be utilising the talents of Krasic on a regular basis, the rumours of a move started to circulate. Chelsea, Tottenham and Liverpool were all speculated as suitors for Krasic, but for one reason or another a deal did not happen.

Chelsea have since strengthened their midfield with the signings of Eden Hazard and Marko Marin, who will play in similar positions to what Krasic would have occupied at Stamford Bridge. Spurs made a loan move for Krasic in the January transfer window, but the player opted to remain in Turin and fight for a place in the Juve side. As it stands Tottenham are blessed with the talents of Gareth Bale, Aaron Lennon and now Gylfi Sigurdsson, but Krasic would certainly have provided another attacking option for Andre Villas-Boas in his 4-3-2-1 system.

However, with Liverpool thought to be in the market for a bit of attacking dynamism from wide, an attempt to sign Krasic would have made sense. The Reds continue to be linked with the likes of Gaston Ramirez and Clint Dempsey, however Krasic’s pace and cutting edge would have added a different threat to the Anfield squad, especially after the summer departure of Maxi Rodriguez. Add to this the fact that Fenerbahce secured Krasic’s services for only £5.5 million, Liverpool may well have missed a golden opportunity to strengthen their squad.

Arrivederci Alessandro: Juventus legend Del Piero departs after 19 glorious years

With an unbeaten 2011-12 season under their belts to lift the Scudetto in Antonio Conte’s first campaign in charge, ambitious plans to strengthen the playing squad this summer, a gleaming new stadium and the return of Champions League football next season, you cannot blame Juventus fans for having a smile on their faces. However, all true Bianconeri supporters will feel a sadness in their hearts due to the exit of a club legend, as Alessandro Del Piero departs the Turin giants after 19 years of unequivocal service, loyalty and scintillating performances.

At 37-years-old, the veteran attacker is now deemed surplus to requirements at the Old Lady, as a new world-class centre forward is top of the club’s transfer wish-list this summer. Del Piero leaves the Bianconeri with a slightly bitter taste in his mouth after being refused the one-year contract extension that he craved to end his career, and will now instead leave the club for one last swansong elsewhere.

Looking back over almost two decades of compelling performances for the Serie A side it is easy to see why Del Piero is in the Juventus fans’ hearts. The masterful attacker joined the club from Padova in 1993, getting a break in the first-team and being a constant name on the team-sheet since.

The ex-Italy international has been there through thick and thin, for six Scudetto triumphs, one Coppa Italia and four Supercopa Italiana glories and the 1995-96 Champions League. He also witnessed his beloved club’s relegation to Serie B after being found guilty of foul-play. In a footballing world where loyalty no longer is second nature and ambition and financial gain rule the roost, Del Piero is a shining light to all youngsters who have the potential to become professional footballers.

Whilst at the top of his game Del Piero will have had no shortage of suitors, and has openly admitted in the past that the likes of Manchester United and Barcelona made attempts to lure him away from Turin with extortionate transfer fees and wages, but this never entered the mind of one-club man Del Piero.

However, he will not now be a one-club man. The evergreen attacker has stated that his hunger and love for the game has not diminished and is eager to find a new challenge, one that he can commit himself to for the next year or two. Del Piero will hope to follow in the footsteps of Real Madrid legend Raul, who left the Santiago Bernabeu after 16 years to star at Schalke and bring joy and pride to the hearts of a group of football fans elsewhere.

Del Piero’s potential destinations grow by the day, as the forward is linked with clubs and nations all over the world. He has already stated that he will not join another Italian club, and as such has been linked with moves to England, Germany, Unites States, Mexico, China, the Middle East and even Argentina.

The stylish frontman will not be looking for one final payday, and instead will be eager to find a footballing project that he can get his teeth into and showcase his abilities. Although the years are starting to take their toll, Del Piero will still prove a difficult opponent wherever he ends up, and scored some important goals for Juve last term in cameo appearances.

At his best Del Piero was virtually unplayable, with a guile and poise on the ball that have tortured defenders all over Italy and throughout Europe for the guts of two decades. Del Piero holds the Bianconeri’s goalscoring record with 289 goals in 705 games for the Italian giants, whilst he also won 91 caps for his country, netting 27 times and winning the 2006 World Cup.

Juventus fans have lost a hero, an icon and a fine player, however, as Del Piero has admitted in an open letter to the clubs faithful upon his departure, he will always be one of them. Addio e buona fortuna Alessandro.

DEL PIERO’S OPEN LETTER TO THE JUVE FANS

“It ends here, my contract with Juventus expires today.

“It’s not news, but knowing it is ‘official’ still has an effect on me. It is not a sad moment for me, there are no regrets or nostalgia. Not anymore.

“That’s because I’ve had time to think back over everything that happened in my last Bianconeri season, going further back and reliving the greatest dream I could’ve dreamed.

“All the memories, the joys, the triumphs and – to be honest – a few recent moments of bitterness… Today all these images flash in front of my eyes and at a certain point blur into one marvellous embrace of my final game in Turin.

“That is the photograph that encapsulates everything, the instant I want to bring with me always, the one that since May 13 has been printed on my heart. It cannot be cancelled.

“A while ago, before going on vacation, I emptied out my locker at Vinovo and walking out of the training ground I stopped where for many months you waited for me hoping for a photo, an autograph or just a hello… under the snow, the ice, the rain, the burning sun. But this time I am the one saluting and thanking you, just as you did with me.

“The players pass by, but Juventus remains. My team-mates remain, who I wish the best and will always cheer them on.

“Above all what remains is the fans, you who are Juventus. That jersey that I loved and will always love, that I desired and respected, without breaks or discounts.

“I am happy that others after me can wear the shirt and above all the ‘10’ that has always had my name on it since they started printing names on the Bianconeri jerseys.

“I am happy for whoever will wear it next year and happy that somewhere – in Italy and all over the world – someone is dreaming of wearing it.

“I would be proud of someone wanting to follow my path, just as I dreamed of doing so with other champions, other examples, other legends.

“From tomorrow I will no longer be a Juventus player, but I will always be one of you. Now a new adventure begins and I am as fired up as I was 19 summers ago.

“Arrivederci. Thanks for everything.

“Alessandro.”

Published – FourFourTwo

Chelsea, Tottenham, Liverpool and European sides heading to USA for pre-season friendlies

Despite the 2011-12 season just drawing to a close and Euro 2012 and the Olympics on the horizon, a raft of leading European teams are planning their warm up games for next term. With an increase in popularity in the game across in North America, it has been the trend for pre-season friendlies to be played in the United States and Canada, and this summer it will be no different. Despite the fact that Barcelona and Manchester United will not be heading stateside in the build up to 2012-13, plenty of other European giants are.

Chelsea

American chairman Bruce Buck will have had a say in deciding to take the Blues back across to North America this pre-season, and the Stamford Bridge club will play four games in USA in July. Starting on the west coast in a game against the Seattle Sounders, Chelsea will also play big-spending Ligue 1 outfit Paris Saint-Germain, AC Milan and the MLS All-Stars team.

  • 18th July – Chelsea vs Seattle Sounders, CenturyLink Field, Seattle
  • 22nd July – Chelsea vs Paris Saint-Germain, Yankee Stadium, New York
  • 25th July – Chelsea vs MLS All-Stars, PPL PArk, Chester
  • 28th July – Chelsea vs AC Milan, Sun Life Stadium, Miami

Aston Villa

Again with an American chairman at the helm, Villa will play three games in the United States in a whirlwind trip stateside in July. Games against Philadelphia Union, Chicago Fire and Portland Timbers should test Alex McLeish’s men.

  • July 18th – Aston Villa vs Philadelphia Union, PPL Park, Chester
  • July 21st – Aston Villa vs Chicago Fire, Toyota Park, Chicago
  • July 24th – Aston Villa vs Portland Timbers, Jeld-Wen Field, Portland

Tottenham

Spurs are set to go face-to-face with former striker Robbie Keane, David Beckham and former Arsenal forward Thierry Henry this summer. With Brad Friedel in the travelling contingent, the north London club will hope to use the trip to stoke up some additional support from fans stateside.

  • July 24th – Tottenham vs LA Galaxy, The Home Depot Center, Carson
  • July 28th – Tottenham vs Liverpool, M&T Bank Stadium, Baltimore
  • July 31st – Tottenham vs New York Red Bulls, Red Bull Arena, Harrison

Liverpool

The Fenway Sports Group take their Anfield side across for a pre-season tour of Canada and United States this summer, with a glamour friendly against fellow American-owned side Roma one of the highlights.

  • July 21st – Liverpool vs Toronto, Rogers Centre, Toronto
  • July 25th – Liverpool vs Roma, Fenway Park, Boston
  • July 28th – Liverpool vs Tottenham, M&T Bank Stadium, Baltimore

Real Madrid

The newly-crowned La Liga champions will cross the Atlantic to test themselves in pre-season, and try to increase their popularity with American fans with Barcelona not travelling stateside this year.

  • August 3rd – Real Madrid vs LA Galaxy, The Home Depot Center, Carson
  • August 5th – Real Madrid vs Juventus, Sam Boyd Stadium, Las Vegas
  • August 8th – Real Madrid vs AC Milan, Yankee Stadium, New York

Juventus

The rejuvenated Turin giants are always a big draw for American crowds, and will once more return to the United States this summer. Their full plans are yet to be revealed, but the following friendlies have been confirmed.

  • July 28th – Juventus vs DC United, RFK Stadium, Washington
  • August 5th – Juventus vs Real Madrid, Sam Boyd Stadium, Las Vegas

AC Milan

It will be a summer of rebuilding for AC Milan, as old heads Alessandro Nesta, Gennaro Gattuso, Filippo Inzagi and Clarence Seedorf will leave the club, and American fans will be keen to see any new signings. Again, Milan’s plans are still to be set in stone, but the following are confirmed.

  • 28th July – AC Milan vs Chelsea, Sun Life Stadium, Miami
  • Two games in Philadelphia – information yet to be released

Published – Soccerlens

Manchester United vs Manchester City, Arsenal vs Tottenham and the transfer battles for Europe’s best this summer

After going head-to-head in the 2011-12 Premier League season, the nation;s top five clubs are ready to do battle off the pitch and in the transfer market this summer. Here are the top five transfer wrangles expected between the Premier League big boys.

Eden Hazard – Manchester United vs Manchester City

Ligue 1 Player of Year Eden Hazard has been all over the media this week after announcing that a move to one of the Manchester clubs was on the cards; there is no doubt that the two fierce local rivals will be desperately fighting over the highly-rated 21 year-old in the coming days.

A dramatic last-day finish meant that noisy neighbours Manchester City were crowned 2011-2012 Premier League champions and considering their quest for world domination, many believe the Belgian starlet will favour a move to Roberto Mancini’s men. However, the young winger could find it hard securing a consistent first-team spot, with David Silva and Samir Nasri already occupying attacking midfielder positions. United however will look to the starlet to reinvigorate an ageing midfield if he moves to Old Trafford.

Shinji Kagawa – Manchester United vs Arsenal

The Japanese winger has been a key part of Jurgen Klopp’s Bundesliga-winning side, getting 13 goals and 11 assists for the German champions this season. With interest from Manchester United and Arsenal, Borussia Dortmund will find it hard to keep their 23-year-old star-man, who is out of contract next summer.

Kagawa has already admitted his willingness to move to England, with a commercial value attached to the Asian superstar for his next side also. United are frontrunners for his signature, however Arsenal are also keen and have a recent track record of buying players from Dortmund.

Edinson Cavani – Chelsea vs Manchester City

Uruguay international Edinson Cavani has had a fantastic season for Napoli, impressing both domestically and in the Champions League, where he found the back of the net against both Manchester City and Chelsea. Both Premier League giants are interested in bringing the South American hitman to England, although City seem to be focussing more on capturing Robin Van Persie as their new attacker. The homegrown pair will be joined in the race by Serie A champions Juventus.

With the supposed exit of Ivorian veteran Didier Drogba, Cavani could be the perfect replacement, and having already shown ability in Europe, he could be exactly what Chelsea need if City purchase elsewhere.

Jan Vertonghen – Arsenal vs Tottenham

Another example of Ajax’s outstanding and prolific youth system, centre-half Jan Vertonghen is currently being fought over by north London rivals Arsenal and Tottenham.

Although rumoured to have already agreed personal terms, the White Hart Lane outfit could miss out on the 25 year-old defender due to the Eredivisie champions’ inflated asking price.

It is obvious that Harry Redknapp is intent on strengthening the defence, and the Belgian centre-back would be a perfect addition to the squad. However countryman Thomas Vermaelen is eager to tempt his international comrade to the Emirates, and Arsenal are still in the hunt.

Robin Van Persie – Arsenal vs Manchester City

2011-2012 Premier League top goalscorer Robin Van Persie has attracted serious interest from newly-crowned champions Manchester City, after scoring 30 league goals and winning the PFA Player of the Year award.

With one year left on his current deal, keeping the Netherlands international at Arsenal will be at the top of Arsene Wenger’s priority list this summer. However, with a natural desire to win trophies at the biggest clubs in the world, Van Persie may be inclined to make a move north to join former team-mates Gael Clichy, Kolo Toure and Samir Nasri.

Currently undergoing contract talks, the coming weeks will be vital in seeing what the future holds for the Arsenal hero. Money may also be a key issue; Arsenal are willing to shatter their wage structure and offer £130,00 per week, whilst City are thought to be eager to almost double this at £250,000 per week.

By Jacob Tucker

Juventus back on top in Serie A; a momentous year for Antonio Conte and his men

With a 2-0 win over Cagliari on Sunday, Juventus have reclaimed their Serie A crown for the first time since the Calciopoli scandal. Their first official Scudetto since 2002-03 was secured when Inter beat second-placed AC Milan 4-2 in the Derby della Madonnina, to the delight of the Turin giants’ faithful. It has been quite the turnaround for the Bianconeri this term, with Antonio Conte bringing the club back to former greatness.

Looking at Juventus’ season, it has been a revolutionary 12 months for the club. After the sleeping giants toiled to a seventh placed finish last term, missing out on European competition once more, Luigi Del Neri was shown the door and fans favourite and former hero on the pitch Antonio Conte installed as manager. The 42-year-old had a monumental task; reinstate Italian football’s most successful club back to their former greatness.

Juventus may have huffed and puffed at times this term and have drawn the most games in the division (15), but the telling fact is that they are undefeated and have won 22 of their 37 games. On occasion they have struggled to score, but the side have shown a steel and stubbornness, refusing to be beaten, that takes the club’s fans back to the days of Ferrara, Montero or Gentile.

Juve’s rejuvenation has come after a comprehensive overhaul of the squad last summer, with a raft of new players coming into the club. The side’s midfield has been particularly impressive this season, with new men Andrea Pirlo and Arturo Vidal running the show for Conte’s team, alongside the goalscoring threat of Claudio Marchisio and the industrious Simone Pepe.

At the back stalwart Gianluigi Buffon continues to impress as one of the world’s best goalkeepers, whilst in Giorgio Chiellini they have as an imposing a central defender as there is in the European game currently. In attack, new man Mirko Vucinic has given a cutting edge and eye for goal, whilst Alessandro Matri is the latest in a long line of predatory Italian strikers.

The future is certainly bright for the Old Lady, as the newly constructed Juventus Stadium gives the side an imposing and financially lucrative home, with further investment in the playing squad expected in the summer. A big name striker is on the wishlist, with links to Premier League marksmen Luis Suarez, Robin van Persie and Carlos Tevez already in the offing, as well as Real Madrid’s Gonzalo Higuain. Add to this another top-drawer defender, and Juventus will take some beating domestically and in Europe next season.

A home fixture against Atalanta next Sunday is all that stands between Conte and an undefeated debut season at the club, quite the achievement if and when it happens. With the Coppa Italia final against Napoli the week after, the Bianconeri’s fans could well be celebrating a memorable and momentous domestic double.

Although comparing Juventus to Barcelona is not a fair likeness due to differing styles and mentalities of the two teams, the fact that homegrown coaches have been behind recent success stands out. Pep Guardiola’s ability to demand the respect of the Camp Nou playing squad originates from his achievements on the pitch for the Blaugrana, and Conte’s no-nonsense playing career for the Turin club has been a key feature in the unity of the Juventus contingent this term. Juve certainly have some way to go to match the achievements of Barcelona, but even the Catalan side have not gone an entire season without defeat in recent memory.

The real acid test will be competing in the Champions League once more, as Juve take on Europe’s best and will have a more strenuous fixture list. AC Milan have bemoaned that their exertions in Europe have taken away from their domestic campaign this term, and the new Scudetto holders will have to battle on two fronts next season. However, with club icon Conte at the helm, a motivated squad set to be strengthened and a dedicated fanbase, it is fair to say that Juventus are back amongst the powers of European football once more.

Five top Premier League prospects looking to shoot into super stardom in 2012/2013

There is nothing better than watching a young talent develop into a world-class superstar and in the Premier League there are an abundance of youngsters waiting to grab a spot in their team’s starting XI and reach their full potential. These are the ones to watch:

A summer signing from Southampton, 18-year old Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain has made a big impact on Arsene Wenger’s side, making 21 appearances for Arsenal and becoming the youngest English player to score in UEFA Champions League history. Chamberlain has found it hard to secure a regular first team spot, but when he plays he looks sharp, fast and confident on the ball. Alongside a blossoming career in the Premier League, “The Ox” has made eight appearances for the England under-21 team and bagged four goals. Chamberlain stands a good chance of gaining a place in England’s Euro 2012 squad alongside team-mates Jack Wilshere and Theo Walcott.

 

Another of Arsene Wenger’s wonder teens who has recently impressed on loan at Bolton is Ryo Miyaichi. The 19-year old winger has clocked a 100m time of 10.6 seconds and pairs his speed with fantastic dribbling skills. After joining the club, the Japanese youngster went on loan to Dutch side Feyenoord and impressed on his debut, playing the full 90 minutes and being named Man of the Match. The Dutch media nicknamed him “Ryodinho” (in comparison to Brazilian superstar Ronaldinho).

 

Currently on loan at Brendan Rodgers’ Swansea City, 19-year old Josh McEachran, Chelsea’s creative midfielder, shows great passing skills and confidence on the ball. Although not getting much playing time at the Liberty Stadium due to the fantastic midfield trio of Sigurdsson, Britton and Allen, the Welsh outfit’s boss has defended his loan saying, “Every player wants game-time but that can’t happen for everyone.” Growing up McEachran idolized French midfielder Zinedine Zidane describing him as “the complete all-round midfielder.”

 

Manchester United’s Paul Pogba is on nearly every big club’s shortlist, impressing scouts with great all-round skills in defence and attack, not to mention a deadly long-shot. The French 19-year old has represented his nation at every level and captained France U16 to victories in the Aegean Cup and the Tournoi du Val-de-Marne. Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson has been desperately trying to get Pogba to sign a new contract after interest from many top-flight clubs, in particular Italian side Juventus.

 

Baby of the bunch, 17-year old Souleymane Coulibaly was first noticed after winning the golden boot at the FIFA U17 World Cup – scoring nine goals in four games for Côte d’Ivoire including a hat-trick against Brazil and four goals against Denmark. ‘Soli’ signed for Tottenham from Italian Club Siena and has been a hit not only in the youth team, but scored on his debut against Brighton & Hove Albion for the senior team. Redknapp hopes the young Ivorian will revive their recently unsuccessful youth squad and a lack of a consistently prolific striker for Tottenham means ‘Soli’ could come into favour sooner than expected.

By Jacob Tucker

Is Alessandro Matri the man to fire Juventus back into the top four?

Juventus need a shot in the arm after a below-par 2010/11 campaign, and have vowed to spend big this summer to try and recapture former glories. Antonio Conte has inherited an inconsistent side which at times seems to lack self-belief; a side that does not have the fire-power to strike fear into the hearts of opposing defences like yester-year. Despite the continued presence of evergreen legend Alessandro Del Piero, the past exploits of frontmen such as Zlatan Ibrahimovic and David Trezeguet have been replaced by inadequate quality, and the Turin side need a high calibre marksman to fire them back into the top four. Enter new signing Alessandro Matri.

The 26-year-old forward joined the Bianconeri on the last day of the January transfer window from Cagliari, and was a key reason the team managed to finish 7th – had he not contributed nine goals in the sixteen games he appeared in, Juve’s plight may have been much worse. With Fabio Quagliarella injured and Amauri out on loan at Parma, Matri struck up an understanding with fellow frontman Del Piero that promised to fire Juventus back into contention. It was no surprise when the club announced last week they had signed him on a permanent basis for a fee of €15.5 million.

Matri built his reputation at the Stadio Sant’Elia over three seasons and quickly became the Rossoblu’s main goal-threat. Having made his international debut and receiving praise from Italian legend Franco Baresi, who has publicly stated Matri is an important player in the future success of the Azzurri, the stage is set for the former Milan youth player to meet his potential. With a full pre-season with his new club and added vigour around the Stadio Olimpico, Matri, despite competition for places, should command a starting spot in the black and white side’s attack in 2011/12.

Although Del Piero may still have the ability to score goals for Juve, Matri offers a ruthless finishing ability and an eye for goal Juventus need if they are to get back into Scudetto contention. The goals Matri contributed in 2010/11 were at telling times, and the reserved frontman has netted in big games, such as in wins against Inter and Roma, and in his debut for the national side against Ukraine. Having scored 15% of the Old Lady’s goals in 2010/11, despite only playing for half a season, Matri has the consistency and predatory tendencies to find the back of the net on a regular basis for the Turin club, something that has been lacking and a key reason in their recent demise.

With big name forwards such as Sergio Aguero reportedly on Giuseppe Marotta’s summer wishlist, Matri may face further competition for a starting place next campaign, but many Bianconeri fans will be elated he will be playing for their side. Conte has an old fashioned Italian goalgetter in the mould of Ravenelli and Vialli to call upon in the club’s current lowly predicament.

Published – http://www.footballitaliano.co.uk/p6_66_6317_is-alessandro-matri-the-man-to-fire-juventus-back-into-the-top-four.html

The £30 million transfer shortlist

With the end of the season upon us, the transfer window re-opens in June and the biggest clubs in European football will look to strengthen their playing squads for the forthcoming campaign. The continued investment in the world game has resulted in transfer fees rising, and there are a number of players that this summer could conceivably cost £30 million and up.

1) Javier Pastore
The Palermo playmaker has had another sparkling season and has led the Sicilan side to the Coppa Italia final; ‘El Flaco’ or ‘the skinny one’ is one of world football’s hottest properties. Real Madrid, Barcelona, Juventus, AC Milan and Roma are all ready to part with £30 million to secure the services of the 21 year old, however this may not be enough as controversial Palermo president Maurizio Zamperini has been quoted as saying he feels the player is worth €100 million.

2) Kaka
With Real Madrid in the hunt for Pastore and already signed creative midfielder Nuri Sahin from Borussia Dortmund, first team opportunities for Kaka may be limited. Since his world record £56 million move from Milan to Los Blancos in 2009 the Brazilian has failed to make the required impact, and is currently playing second fiddle to Bernabeu main-man Cristiano Ronaldo. I Rossoneri president Silvio Berlusconi has ruled out a return to the San Siro, so England looks the most likely destination, with long term admirers Manchester City and Chelsea battling it out for his signature.

3) Alexis Sanchez
The Chilean left sided midfielder has been one of the main reasons for Udinese’s charge towards Champions League football, with pundits raving over the 22 year old’s performances. Both Milan and Inter are believed to want the ex-River Plate attacker, but Manchester City again seem to be the frontrunners, with a £30 million summer transfer touted in the Italian press.

4) Cesc Fabregas
Arsenal’s captain has been linked with a move back to Barcelona for a number of seasons, and the move may happen this summer as The Gunners may look to cash in on the 24 year old whilst he is out of form. With Jack Wilshere emerging this season to potentially take Fabregas’ place as Arsenal’s go to midfield man, a move back to the Nou Camp for £30 million or more could be on the cards.

5) Gareth Bale
The PFA Player of the Year has had a strong season domestically and in Europe, and shot to worldwide acclaim with a hat-trick against Inter at the San Siro in the Champions League Group Stages. Due to Tottenham missing out on the competition for next season, Bale may be tempted by the bright lights of Italy or Spain, with Inter and Barcelona linked with the player. United and City are also thought to want the Welshman to come to Manchester, and given his performances the fee would exceed £30 million.

6) Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Carlos Tevez
Big spending City may find a change of personnel in attack, with any big name departures or arrivals costing more than £30 million. The club have been linked with an audacious move for Milan’s Zlatan Ibrahimovic, whilst club captain Carlos Tevez’s future at Eastlands is under scrutiny, with Inter the reported chosen destination for the Argentine forward.

Published – http://forum.footballidentity.com/default.aspx?g=posts&m=1852916

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