Tottenham, Liverpool, Manchester United: Why have you not made a move for Nuri Sahin?

With the 2012-13 Premier League season less than a week away, the top six have strengthened their squads ahead of the new campaign. However, a number of the biggest sides, such as Manchester United, Liverpool and Tottenham, still remain in the market for a creative central midfielder. Given the fact that Nuri Sahin is openly available, why have one of these teams not snapped him up?

The Turkey international moved to the Santiago Bernabeu last summer after a spectacular 2010-11 season in leading Borussia Dortmund to the Bundesliga title. However, injuries and extreme competition in the centre of midfield in the Spanish capital have seen the talented 23-year-old only make a handful of appearances for Los Blancos to date.

Jose Mourinho has Xabi Alonso, Sami Khedira, Kaka, Lassana Diarra and Esteban Granero fighting for a berth in the engine room, and continues to covet Luka Modric. Due to the dearth of talent the Portuguese trainer has admitted that he will not stand in Sahin’s way should an alternative offer of employment arrive.

The old adage that form is temporary whilst class is permanent remains true in this case. A year ago Sahin was one of the hottest transfer prospects in the European game and the star of a young Dortmund team that had dazzled in a scintillating domestic campaign. He was awarded the Bundesliga Player of the Year award for his guile, eye for a killer pass and energy around the park. These characteristics may have been out of the limelight but are still present.

At the time of writing Tottenham look destined to lose a wantaway Modric to Madrid; Spurs could take Sahin at an excellent price as a ready-made replacement, as the Spaniards struggle to meet the north London club’s exuberant financial demands.

Manchester United have missed out on Paris Saint-Germain-bound Lucas Moura and still cry out for a new deep-lying playmaker to take over the mantle from the evergreen Paul Scholes. Surely Sahin, who was linked with a move to Old Trafford 12 months ago, would fit the bill?

Finally, Brendan Rodgers is eager to instill a footballing ethos at Anfield; a midfield arsenal of Lucas Leiva, Joe Allen, Steven Gerrard and Sahin would surely be one to rival any of the other top teams.

Sahin is currently being scouted by AC Milan, and is thought to be available on loan. Mourinho has admitted that he will not block a permanent move that offers the playmaker regular first-team football; so what’s the hold up?

Published – Bleacher Report

Tottenham facing life without Modric: Who can they sign as his replacement?

With Harry Redknapp’s dismissal at Tottenham and Andre Villas Boas’ appointment, it is expected to be a busy summer in the transfer market for the White Hart Lane club. After painstakingly missing out on Champions League qualification due to Chelsea winning the tournament last term, despite finishing fourth, star playmaker Luka Modric is widely expected to leave north London for pastures new. A new creative spark will be needed in Spurs’ central midfield for the side to challenge for the top four next season if the Croatian leaves, but who will Villas Boas select as Modric’s replacement?

Gylfi Sigurdsson

Villas Boas’ first signing comes in the form of Icelandic attacking midfielder Gylfi Sigurdsson, who has put pen-to-paper on a switch from Hoffenheim. The Scandinavian impressed on loan at Swansea during the second-half of last season, and certainly looks to have the potential to replace Modric. Seven goals in 18 appearances for the Liberty Stadium outfit is an excellent return for a midfielder, whilst Sigurdsson has shown superb quality with the ball at his feet and from set pieces. A strong addition to the Spurs squad, but Villas Boas may well look to add another creative player this summer.

Joao Moutinho

Part of the Portugal side that made the Euro 2012 semifinals, Moutinho’s stock certainly rose in Ukraine and Poland. The diminutive midfielder showed excellent battling qualities alongside Miguel Veloso for the Iberian nation, and was a key creator of chances for the side. With Villas Boas having coached Moutinho at Porto, there is a good chance he will return to his old stomping ground for reinforcements.

Nuri Sahin

The Turkey international is another name been linked with a switch to White Hart Lane, after a poor debut season at Real Madrid in 2011-12. Sahin was the Bundesliga player of the season in 2010-11 and a key member of the title-winning Borussia Dortmund side, but has found opportunities limited at the Santiago Bernabeu. Tricky, sure on the ball, intelligent and with Madrid one of the interested parties in Modric, Sahin could find himself on his way to England.


This Brazilian playmaker has been on leading European clubs’ radars for the last number of seasons, and rightly so. Ganso has impressed for Santos both in the Brasileiro and Copa Libertadores, inspiring the Vila Belmiro side to glory in 2011. A feature for the Brazil national side also for the last 12 months, Santos have recently admitted that they will part with their star midfielder if a sufficient offer arrives. Spurs have been linked with him in the past, and could well revisit if Modric leaves.


Another Brazilian wonderkid, the Internacional man is not as well-known as Ganso, but certainly a talent. Oscar has recently been named in the Brazil squad for the Olympics and the player himself has admitted that Spurs have been in touch. At 20-years old the schemer would be an investment for the future, and if he gets a few outings at the London Games any work permit issues will be eradicated.

Moussa Dembele

Looking closer to home, this Fulham star has grown in stature over the last 12 months and as such is now being touted with a move to one of England’s top six. Dembele as shown versatility to play either in the centre of midfield or further forward as a second striker, but looks more adept in the engine room. Part of a talented generation of Belgian players coming through the ranks, Dembele’s range of passing and eye for a through-ball could be appreciated at White Hart Lane.

Adam Maher

Certainly an outside bet, however 18-year-old Maher has potential in droves. The AZ Alkmaar man has starred for the Eredivisie side over the last 12 months, showing great pace, skill and energy, and was recently voted Holland’s Young Player of the Year. Part of the provisional Netherlands squad for Euro 2012, the teenager has already made his international debut and has a bright future ahead of him. Despite this, Villas Boas may well opt for someone more experienced.

Published – Bleacher Report

Real Madrid vs Bayern Munich: Six tactical factors that could decide the Champions League tie

Perennial European heavyweights Real Madrid and Bayern Munich have been coupled together in the semifinals of the Champions League, in what should be a captivating and close tie.

The first leg will be played at the Allianz Arena on 17 April, with the deciding fixture in Spain a week later on 25 April. With world-class players on both sides, here are six tactical situations that could well decide which team progresses to the final.

Can Real Madrid Be exposed in wide areas?

One of the areas that Bayern will look to get joy from, especially in the first leg at home, will be out wide. In former Santiago Bernabeu wideman Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery, Jupp Heynckes’ side have two of the most potent wingers in the game, who play a major part in orchestrating the Bavarian outfit’s attack.

With attacking-minded full-backs such as Marcelo and Fabio Coentrao in Los Blancos’ side, and Philipp Lahm looking to get forward for the German team, Bayern may well find joy down the flanks. Although Madrid will most likely play two holding central midfielders in front of their defence in the away leg, out wide the likes of Angel Di Maria will be reluctant to track back—Bayern can use this to their advantage.

The predatory instinct of Mario Gomez

In Mario Gomez, Bayern have one of Europe’s form strikers, whose predatory instinct, finishing and movement off the ball is pivotal for club and country. The Bundesliga’s current top scorer showed his calibre in front of goal in the last round, hitting the back of the net four times against a hapless Basel side in the quarterfinals.

Jose Mourinho’s team selection at centre half will be interesting given that Gomez will need to be paid close attention. With Sergio Ramos currently on the sidelines through injury, the Portuguese trainer will pray that the Spain international returns in time to go head-to-head with Bayern’s main forward. If not, the less-assured Raul Albiol, hotheaded Pepe and ageing Ricardo Carvalho may well have their hands full.

Sami Khedira vs Thomas Muller

Real Madrid have recently looked to the Bundesliga for new signings, with Nuri Sahin, Mesut Ozil, Hamit Altintop and Sami Khedira all moving from Germany to the Spanish capital. Khedira may well have an important role to play in limiting the impact of Bayern playmaker, and international colleague, Thomas Muller.

At times petulant and inconsistent, Muller has the ability to be anonymous or a match-winner; at his best the attacking midfielder’s supply to hitman Gomez is a key feature of Die Roten’s play going forward. Muller will look to play in the hole between Madrid’s defence and midfield, and as such Khedira looks like the most likely option to shackle the talented playmaker.

The goalscoring threat of Cristiano Ronaldo

Despite it being widely acknowledged that Lionel Messi is the world’s best player, Cristiano Ronaldo has inspired Madrid to the top of La Liga and is having a record-breaking season. The Portugal international has matured from a tricky winger at Manchester United to a powerful and at times almost unplayable attacker in his time in Spain.

Ronaldo’s threat is two-fold. Given a free reign to wreak havoc by the Spanish giants, CR7’s mobility, constant movement and lethal eye for goal make him a devastating attacker, and a major goal threat.

To be shackled or even partially stopped, Bayern will have to instruct the likes of Anatoliy Tymoschuk and Luiz Gustavo to be very disciplined in their positioning, and combative in their tackling. However, over-exerting resources to stop the world’s second-best player may well leave room for the likes of Di Maria, Ozil and Kaka to dominate possession.

The creativity of Mesut Ozil

An unsung hero in a star-studded Madrid attack, Mesut Ozil will be an all-too-familiar face for the German side. Where the likes of Ronaldo pose a direct threat through pace and power, Ozil’s main strength is passing and precision.

The playmaker is the fulcrum of Madrid’s possession play, and arguably has the most ability to supply the likes of Ronaldo, Karim Benzema and Gonzalo Higuain, and create goalscoring opportunities.

With the Germany international’s guile, ability to slip a marker and superb eye for a pass, Bayern’s aforementioned defensive midfielders will need to get through a lot of work if the Allianz Arena outfit are to stand a chance.

Bastian Schweinsteiger vs Xabi Alonso

Two of the most accomplished midfielders in the European game, the battle between Xabi Alonso and Bastian Schweinsteiger will be key in the outcome of the two-legged tie. Although not always in direct competition due to Alonso’s deep-lying position, the pair are the heartbeat of their respective midfields and teams.

Alonso has the passing ability and regimented positional sense to allow those more gifted teammates in attack to prosper, whilst Schweinsteiger’s energy and influence on Bayern’s other players makes him a vastly important man for the Germans. With the pair potentially locking heads for their countries at Euro 2012 in June, these influential midfielders will be key men in deciding this tie over 180 minutes.

Published – Bleacher Report

Borussia Dortmund vs. Bayern Munich: The young and the new of German football meet

With three points separating the top two teams in the Bundesliga, leaders and champions Borussia Dortmund host perennial powerhouses Bayern Munich in a massive game at Signal Iduna Park on Wednesday. A win for the hosts will all but seal back-to-back titles, whilst an away victory will give the biggest club in German football the impetus to go on to win their title back.

Jurgen Klopp has transformed an underperforming and mediocre Dortmund setup into a well-tuned and talented squad of promising stars since taking over at the club in 2008. The team’s Bundesliga crown last season was the first since 2002, and the 44-year-old trainer has continued where he left off last term in 2011/12. Many feared for Die Borussen after the forced sale of key midfielder Nuri Sahin to Real Madrid and a slow start to the season, whilst Champions League elimination in the group stages proved that the young pretenders have a way to go yet to replicate the historic achievements of the European champions team of 1997.

Despite this, a run of ten wins from 13 league games propelled the holders back to the top of the standings, and the crown is now Dortmund’s to lose. With home advantage and their opponents still with European distractions, Klopp’s young superstars will look to strike a decisive blow on Wednesday. The likes of Mats Hummels, Shinji Kagawa, Mario Gotze (although he will not play through injury) and Robert Lewandowski have shone over a fantastic 24-month period for the club.

Off the pitch, Dortmund recently claimed another victory over their traditionally superior rivals. The signing of Borussia Monchengladbach and Germany attacking midfielder Marco Reus, wanted by the Bavarians also, shows that Klopp’s men are serious in their rejuvenation and could be ready for a period of dominance in the country.

Bayern, by their own admittance, were poor last season but a summer of rebuilding, the arrival of Jupp Heynckes and a better start to the campaign has saw Die Roten back to their ominous best at times this campaign. Despite spending spells on top of the pile and thrashing sides on occasion, inconsistency has crept in at times domestically, which Dortmund have taken advantage of.

With Real Madrid lying in wait in what should be a mouth-watering Champions League semi-final, the Allianz Arena outfit have a potentially memorable end of season ahead of them. However, both Los Blancos and Dortmund will put Bayern under pressure, with the side’s defence still to really prove that it has what takes to challenge for honours. The attacking abilities of Franck Ribery, Arjen Robben, Thomas Muller and Mario Gomez are not in question, however it is whether Bayern can shut out an attacking-minded Dortmund side that will be the difference in the game.

Dortmund won the reverse fixture 1-0 at the Allianz Arena through a solitary Gotze strike, and despite Bayern’s history, players and prestige will go into this game as favourites. The home side could well be on the verge of a new era of success, with 90 minutes for the young Borussen stars to prove their worth and retain their title.

Can Borussia Dortmund Emulate the Champions League Winning Side of 1997?

Only one team were ever going to win this season’s Bundesliga, as Jurgen Klopp’s surprise package Borussia Dortmund have impressed from day one with their attacking and free-flowing style of football, reminiscent of the 1997 side that were crowned European Champions. With the league title all but in the bag and BVB set to compete in Europe’s top club compeition next season for the first time since 2002, can the German side turn the clock back 15 years and emulate Ottmar Hitzfeld’s star-studded side?
Die Borussen’s transformation has been quite amazing under Klopp, as the ex-Mainz coach has led the club from 6th and 5th placed finishes in 2008-09 and 2009-10 to Germany’s top team this campaign. Signal Iduna Park has witnessed some exciting and enthralling displays from a team largely under 25 and without the big name international players like 97’s Sammer, Moller, Riedle and co that beat Juventus 3-1 in the final all those years ago.
However their illustrious forefathers may be outdone by Dortmund’s current crop, and Klopp’s first objective in the search for success is to keep his star players at the club, many of which have been linked with moves to some of Europe’s elite. The side have quality across the park, with match winners and savers combined in a 4-5-1 formation that can change to 4-3-3 when the side attack.
Centre back pairing Mats Hummels and Serbian Neven Subotic, both 22 years old, have looked like Sammer and Kohler reincarnated and been the reason the club have only conceded 18 goals in this year’s Bundesliga, 16 less than the second stingiest defensive in the league. Holding midfielder Sven Bender came into the side after injury to Sebastien Kehl, and hasn’t looked back, playing 28 of the club’s 30 games this season and forcing his way into the Joachim Loew’s German national set-up.
Bender’s closing of opposition and work rate have been a perfect foil for Dortmund other central midfielder and arguably brightest star, Nuri Sahin. The German born Turkey international has been in mercurial form this season, scoring six goals from midfield and showing guile and creativity to create nine more. Sahin represents new Dortmund and the club must keep him amidst interest from Real Madrid and Inter if they are to progress as a team.
Added to this are 18 year old attacking midfielder Mario Goetze, who has been one of the season’s revelations with his ball control and skill reportedly catching the eye of Manchester United and Barcelona. Sole attacker Lucas Barrios is the club’s top scorer, with the Argentine striker hitting the back of the net 18 times this season.
With so much quality and youthful exuberance Dortmund will be a tough test for the teams they face in next year’s Champions League, and Klopp will look to strengthen further in the summer. Despite this however, the class of 2011 do not have the experience of the 97 team, and will face a much tougher European field from strong English and Spanish clubs. Schalke have shown this season that progression to the latter stages of the tournament is possible, but the youngsters donning the black and yellow in today’s Dortmund team must stick together and grow as a unit if they are to equal the success of the club’s past masters.

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Three Young Midfielders For Manchester United’s Summer Shopping List

Despite Manchester United’s 1-0 win over Everton that sees them move closer to a 19th league title (and Sir Alex Ferguson’s 12th Premier League title), fans have one eye on potential new recruits when the transfer window re-opens in the summer.

With Paul Scholes and the evergreen Ryan Giggs still having a part to play in the club’s future but not getting any younger and Owen Hargreaves crocked, Fergie will look to add some youthful exuberance to his midfield, with a number of transfer rumours turning into solid transfer targets.

The first and well publicised potential United target is Aston Villa’s Ashley Young. The ex-Watford winger has impressed over the last two seasons and is now seemingly a mainstay in the England team, wrestling the right wing jersey away from fellow speedster Aaron Lennon. With Gerard Houiller’s side having a difficult season and Young maturing as a player, it is only natural that the 25 year old will look to further his career and take the step up to a bigger club.

The Red Devils will not be alone in admiring Young’s qualities of speed, delivery and versatility, and Liverpool, Manchester City and Tottenham have all been linked with a move for the England man. Young has reportedly delayed on signing a new contract at Villa Park, but won’t come cheap as a price tag of £25 million has been touted.

Everton’s Jack Rodwell is another player who has been making Premier League news headlines this season this year, with the 20 year old continuing to progress over the 2010/11 season at Goodison. The England under 21 midfielder has been primarily deployed as a holding player for David Moyes side, but the second half of the season has seen Rodwell make additional strides forward and add attacking impetus to his play. The Merseyside club are financially unstable and may look to cash in on their young starlet, with Manchester United the destination of choice for the future England international.

Borussia Dortmund have emulated the Champions League winning side of 1997 this season and taken the Bundesliga by storm with their attacking and enterprising brand of football; one of their key men Nuri Sahin has refused to comment on his future this week and is being linked with a move away from Signal Iduna Park. The 22 year old has scored six goals and set up nine with assists in his 30 games this season, and adds a guile and creativity to Die Borussen’s side.

The German born Turkey international has a deft left foot and with a reported release clause in his contract of only €6 million, Sahin could be one of the buys of the season if United can wrestle his signature away from Real Madrid and Inter.

The three players all bring contrasting qualities to the table, and Young’s speed, Rodwell’s energy and Sahin’s passing are sure to be in big demand come June. All would fit in well at Old Trafford, but the most likely recruit is Rodwell as he has all the raw attributes to be a top player given time and direction at Carrington.

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