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Manchester City want Blaise Matuidi, but he’d be perfect for Arsenal

PSG midfield destroyer Blaise Matuidi has just a year left on his contract, which is of great interest to Manchester City who are rumoured to be interested in him as they transition away from Roberto Mancini’s 4-4-2 to Manuel Pellegrini’s 4-2-3-1. Matuidi could possibly partner Yaya Toure deep in midfield in this new formation. However, if he does become available, he looks like an interesting option for Arsene Wenger at Arsenal.

Aaron Ramsey played well as the pure defensive shield as Wenger tweaked his system over the second half of last season and this new role allowed him to afford the defence good protection leading to them being the second tightest unit in the league. He is a good worker and interceptor of the ball and improved steadily in the role. However, unlike Marouane Fellaini whose rampaging menace would be near enough neutered playing this role at Arsenal, it is something Matuidi is amongst the best in Europe at doing. If Arsenal bought Fellaini and restricted him to being a pure shield, a simple and limited role, they would be wasting their time spending so much. However, with Matuidi the upgrade as this pure defensive minded shield would be big, big enough to justify the outlay.

Blaise Matuidi

If you don’t know much about Matuidi, just know this. PSG bought him to replace Claude Makelele. It sums his game up and shows what he would offer Arsenal. Wenger is teaching Ramsey to play that role and what is required is superb positioning and sensing of danger, tackling skill, intercepting ability and the awareness to select the correct distribution option. Ramsey is doing decently at getting stuck in but his distribution isn’t ideal for the job. Matuidi already has it all. He’s also a huge presence on the field with his leadership and reliability. Arsenal could do with a few more players that can be relied on to perform at the same level every week. Tactically it would also allow Wenger to continue to use Jack Wilshere further forwards where he seems to see his future.

The doubt in all of this is whether or not PSG would let him leave. Although he only has a year on his contract he is a key player for them. He has played 80 games in his two seasons in Paris and despite their infatuation with star power whoever ends up managing them, maybe Andre Villas-Boas, will be well aware of his importance. You can have all the attackers you like but unless you have someone with the discipline and sense of responsibility to work for the team and position themselves effectively then the team can’t win. He’s probably worth about £10-12m given his contract situation but it’s hard to see how PSG would let him leave. If they do though, Arsenal might hold an advantage over Man City.

At Arsenal Matuidi would be a guaranteed starter. At City, he wouldn’t have the same security. City have just spent £34m on Fernandinho to be their play maker. Manuel Pellegrini is an advocate of the 4-2-3-1, which would likely see Fernandinho partner Toure in the two, particularly if rumours linking the club to Isco come true. At Arsenal, his only competition would be Aaron Ramsey and he is much better at the role they would compete for.

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Chelsea’s Torres, Manchester United’s Rooney, Barcelona’s Messi and the biggest football contracts of all time

The Biggest Football Contracts of All Time

With the most recent investments into the game the price of players contracts are once again starting to soar. Take a look below to find out more on the current top ten earners in world football and their seasons rates. (Warning: you may be surprised by some of the names on the list.)

10. Cristiano Ronaldo (€10 million)

The Portuguese forward earns a hefty sum at Real Madrid, but he only just cracks our top ten list. Ronaldo came to prominence in the Sporting Lisbon youth team, where an exceptional performance in a friendly against Manchester United earned him a transfer to the English club. After a rocky beginning in England, Ronaldo developed his game and led the side to three English Premier League titles, two League Cups, one UEFA Champions League trophy and the Club World Championship. Success has followed him to Real Madrid, where he won La Liga last season.

9. Lionel Messi (€10.5 million)

Lionel Messi

He is widely considered the best player in the world, yet Messi is only ninth on this list. He is Barcelona’s most dangerous player, often being their sole threat on goal. Messi broke the record for most goals scored in a calendar year in 2012. He has already won three UEFA Champions League crowns, along with winning the Ballon d’Or on four occasions.

8. Dario Conca, Guangzhou Evergrande (€10.6 million)

Conca is an Argentine international who plies his trade in China’s major league. This contract is a massive surprise, given the fact that Conca is not among the world’s elite players.

7. Fernando Torres, Chelsea (€10.8 million)

Along with paying £50 million to Liverpool, Chelsea gave Fernando Torres a bumper contract. Unfortunately, he has rarely showed the quality to justify such a financial expense. He has struggled to recapture his Liverpool form and is likely to be sold this summer.

6. Didier Drogba, Shanghai Shenhua (€12 million)

Didier Drogba

Ironically, Drogba is the man Torres was signed to replace at Chelsea. The Ivorian moved to China where he was on a handsome contract for half a season. Unfortunately, financial problems meant the cancellation of the deal allowing Drogba to move to Turkish giants Galatasaray, with employment lawyers now likely to get involved.

5. Sergio Aguero, Manchester City (€12.5 million)

Despite failure in the UEFA Champions League for two consecutive seasons, Aguero led City to last season’s Premier League title. More will be expected in future seasons from the Argentine star.

4. Yaya Toure, Manchester City (€13 million)

From Barcelona’s reserves to Manchester City’s first team, Yaya Toure made a massive jump when he left Spain. Not only did he earn a starting spot, but he got one of the best football contracts in history. His performances have lived up to the billing as he is often City’s best player.

3. Wayne Rooney, Manchester United (€13.8 million)

Wayne Rooney

A summer after the departure of Cristiano Ronaldo and Carlos Tevez, United faced the possibility of Rooney leaving too. Instead, he was coaxed into staying by the manager and was rewarded with the third highest football contract. He has won four Premier League titles and the UEFA Champions League at Old Trafford.

2. Zlatan Ibrahimovic, PSG (€14.5 million)

Ibra continued his nomadic club journey to PSG this summer, signing a massive contract with the French giants. He will be the spearhead of their bid to dominate European football.

1. Samuel Eto’o, Anzhi Makhachkala (€20 million)

Why would a footballer leave Inter Milan (European champions at the time) for Russian football? The answer is €20 million euros a season and the largest contract ever given to a football player.

Author Bio
Jamie Stevenson is an avid copywriter who writes for a variety of websites, including specialist employment solicitors Slater & Gordon.

Manchester City need fresh faces but bad decisions in the past make them difficult to get

First things first, Manchester City are not in crisis. There are 18 other Premier League clubs who would love to be in City’s position. For a club that is putting up their first title defence in 45 years to be in second place and in an FA Cup semi-final is very good going. The problem is, expectations of the club have risen exponentially with their status as the most cash rich club in England. Good early season form led us to believe that they would be able to strongly compete with Manchester United in the title battle. However, after a limp Champions League showing their league form has suffered. So, why is that, and how do they move on from here?

City have lost the exuberant sparkle that saw them score 93 goals last season including six at Old Trafford and five at White Hart Lane. They have been grinding out results, but without the extra oomph that they had last year they haven’t been able to keep pace with United. The main reason for this is the lack of flair in the team and the absence of form of the flair that they do possess.

Samir Nasri

David Silva, their impish creator in chief, has been playing football solidly for six years and it is starting to show. He still looks elegant and stylish but he is missing the sharpness and zing of last season. It has bubbled up at times; it’s just the consistency that is lacking. Sergio Aguero hasn’t looked fully fit since his opening day injury. Maybe he was rushed back, maybe he is just a bit hesitant but like Silva he has lost his X-factor. He has looked amazing at times but again, the lack of consistency is frustrating. He is the complete package as a forward, the best in the league in full flight, but this season he hasn’t reached those levels enough. Similarly Carlos Tevez has flickered and started the season in superb form, but hasn’t brought it to every game. Samir Nasri has looked disinterested; perhaps as Roberto Mancini himself alluded to, he has taken his foot off the pedal after wining the league last year. This foursome helped City to play free-flowing attacking stuff last year but for various reasons they haven’t clicked this year.

The issue with this is that beyond the famous four the creative cupboard is bare. Mancini doesn’t have another option to bring on, so when he substitutes one of them the team’s flair quotient drops every time. James Milner, Edin Dzeko and Gareth Barry are good workers but don’t unlock defences. City were beaten to the punch in the summer on Eden Hazard and Robin van Persie, both of whom would have offered Mancini extra creativity and goal threat. They also would have brought hunger and desire to win their first Premier League title. Mancini was openly critical of the club’s transfer activity, and rightly so.

He was delivered Jack Rodwell, an injury prone grinding midfielder, Javi Garcia, another grinding midfielder and the much-maligned Scott Sinclair, a pure winger that doesn’t fit City’s system. Mancini had already shown he didn’t use wingers, which is why they sold Adam Johnson. So they sign an inferior version? They already had Yaya Toure, Milner and Barry and at that point Nigel de Jong, as worker midfielders. So they two inferior versions? You see the issue?

Jack Rodwell

The lack of clarity and apparent lack of planning was a surprise considering City seemed to have shed themselves of the money-wasting tag with the buys of Aguero, Silva and Yaya, who formed the core of the championship side. But they’ve had these issues before. The likes of Emmanuel Adebayor, Robinho and Roque Santa Cruz were bought for huge sums then sold at a steep loss to get them out of the building. Joleon Lescott, Milner and Dzeko have been good players for the club but cost just under £90m combined. That £90m would have got them Hazard, van Persie and Thiago Silva.

City can afford to spend that kind of money and it not to come off. Or at least, they could before they got big. They had to pay a premium to get players to come to them in their rush to the top. Now that they are, they have to deal with the impending Financial Fair Play regulations to compete in their new Holy Grail, the Champions League. The bad deals of the past hang around like a bad smell. They show up not just as huge losses but in huge contracts and leave a stain on their FFP sheet.

What this means is that the club has a small squad of very highly paid players. For a lot of this season they’ve had young players that they wouldn’t want to be anywhere near the first team filling up the bench. Having to dump the signings they wasted so much money on means they haven’t built any squad depth. They are perpetually chasing their tails, replacing what they sell rather than adding to the squad.

This summer is an important one for Manchester City. They’ve got an immensely talented team, and a manager who has shown he can win consistently, but they need to find a way to get him more depth and more attacking flair if they are to get back to winning the league. The problem is, they have hamstrung themselves with some poor decision making and prioritising in their rush to the top. If they re-find their transfer coherence, and there is no reason that they shouldn’t considering they built a league winner on the market, then they have got the financial resource to get back to winning the league.

You can read more by Max at the thefootballspace.com

Manchester City cannot afford to lose Yaya Toure

Things are not currently looking too bright for Manchester City. After winning the Premier League title in momentous last-day fashion last term, a limp and inconsistent campaign has blighted the club in 2012/13. With a gap of 15 points between the Etihad Stadium outfit and league leaders Manchester United with only nine games to play, it appears that it will be when, not if, the title returns to Old Trafford.

Yaya Toure

Roberto Mancini’s position may well be questioned in the summer after a dud Champions League campaign also, but one matter needs to be addressed with more urgency. With contract negotiations ongoing, Yaya Toure’s agent, Dimitri Seluk, has stated that the Ivory Coast international midfielder may well look to leave the soon-to-be disposed Premier League champions if a new deal is not agreed on in the near future.

“If he signs a contract in the next three or four days, OK. If not, we will not wait any longer and will start negotiations with different clubs.

“Today is Tuesday, so it means by Saturday. We will say ‘Thank you. OK, Yaya will leave in May.’

“I do not feel he will stay at City. This is not about money. He wants to leave because of many reasons.”

Alarm bells must be going off in the ears of City fans, and the club itself. Toure, despite being out of action whilst away on African Nations Cup duty, remains one of the club’s main assets; a player who drives them forward relentlessly.

The African midfielder played a huge part in City’s Premier League win last term, and when on form this time round has been equally as scintillating. His control on the ball, influence across the park and endless work-rate means that he can be the difference between victory and defeat.

The way that things stand, if Toure was to leave it would be a massive blow for City. Replacing a player of his calibre would be very difficult, even with their endless supply of investment. Despite a disappointing campaign, City would be well advised to placate and please arguably their best player before he is hounded by inevitable suitors across Europe.

Five players Manchester City should sign this summer

Under Roberto Mancini Manchester City have signed players at the peak of their powers. They have not been scared to pay big money and they are working on a timeline which doesn’t seem to afford them time to develop younger players. City have given him the likes of Matija Nastasic, Scott Sinclair and Jack Rodwell recently but Mancini has tended to favour his more experienced players. With this in mind, I will only suggest the finished articles for them to look at.

Leighton Baines – Everton

Leighton Baines

Scout Report A roving and buccaneering left-back, Baines is one of the most consistent players in the Premier League. He rarely misses any game time and can take matches over from his position, which is a rare talent for a defender. His crossing is amongst the best in the league and he is defensively secure.

Where does he fit? City could buy him, plug him in and leave him there for every game. That is fundamentally what they need at left-back. Aleksandar Kolarov can’t defend and Gael Clichy has real problems staying fit. Signing Baines would fix that in an instant. If Mancini wanted to play wing-backs Baines would be more than comfortable playing there too. He would also add some much need width to City’s play, which can sometimes get narrow and slow. If they move it out to him he will sling a cross in quickly to be attacked. He makes too much sense for how infrequently he is linked to them

How much? Probably not too much given Everton’s financial limitations. Something in the £15m region would probably suffice.

Daniele De Rossi – Roma

Daniele de Rossi

Scout Report The complete midfielder, De Rossi brings an infectious determination to win and unwillingness to accept defeat. He intercepts the ball, makes tackles and scores goals. He is truly the all-around package.

Where does he fit? De Rossi would be an enormous upgrade on the incumbents Gareth Barry and Javi Garcia alongside Yaya Toure. Mancini likes a team of men, of winners, and this is where De Rossi would fit. You wouldn’t see City overwhelmed under pressure as they have been at times this season. He would grab games by the scruff of the neck and shake up those around him. He also has the tactical acumen to move back in to a three-man defence should that system be deployed further.

How much? De Rossi is one of the premier midfielders in the world so would not come cheap. City would have to part with around £30m but they’ve made bigger deals than that in the past.

Mario Gomez – Bayern Munich

Mario Gomez

Scout Report The arch penalty box poacher, Gomez has an incredible goal scoring record throughout his career. A big, strong, physical target man, Gomez spends his game on the last line of the defence and in the box sniffing out opportunities.

Where does he fit? City could do with a striker who doesn’t fancy himself as a footballer. Yes Gomez has his limitations in terms of contribution to open play but City don’t need everyone to do that, they need a big lump who will put the ball in the net with the likes of Silva, Aguero, Nasri, Tevez and Yaya feeding an endless supply line of chances. City’s biggest problem this year has been chance-taking so they could just stick Gomez in and leave him to snaffle them up.

How much? It’s almost impossible to imagine Gomez being part of Pep Guardiola’s plan for Bayern next year so he could be gettable. Surely a bid of around £20m would get this done.

Benat Extebarria – Real Betis

Benat

Scout Report Benat is attracting huge buzz in Spain. He is the conductor of the Betis midfield that has led the team up to a surprise sixth place in La Liga this season. If it wasn’t for Xavi, Benat could very well be strutting his stuff in the Spain midfield, such has been his impact. Benat can operate in a deep playmaking role or buzzing around an opposition box, threading intricate passes or dictating tempo.

Where does he fit? City don’t have anyone like him. They don’t have a central midfielder who can take on the mantle of setting the tempo when in possession. Silva likes to operate further forward or wider and possession utilisation isn’t Yaya’s strong suit. Mancini tried to get his ilk with a brief experimentation with Claudio Pizarro last season so he is clearly open to the idea.

How much? Betis wouldn’t be in a position to turn down £10m.

Dede – Vasco de Gama

Dede

Scout Report Dede is a 24-year-old  central defender with a crunching tackle who is aerially dominant. He also has an ability to carry the ball forward from defence and play penetrating passes. He is quick enough and incredibly strong. Regarded as the best defender in Brazil locally.

Where does he fit? The spot next to Kompany has been a revolving door this year. The solidity of last year has gone and they defended poorly in Europe particularly. Dede can be purchased and if Mancini resists the urge to tinker, left to settle in next to Kompany. The Belgian is the ideal defender to come in next to, which would give Dede a chance to adapt and thrive. His physique is ideal for England and for City who like big defenders.

How much? Buying from Brazil isn’t as easy as it used to be so this would surely cost £12m plus.

Tottenham and Manchester City: Beware the wrath of the former manager

With the last day of the Premier League season on Sunday, all is still to play for in the race for the Premier League title, top four and in the battle to avoid relegation. Manchester City and Tottenham are in the driving seat in their respective ambitions of winning the league and qualifying for the Champions League. However, one thing stands in their way; a dedicated former manager.

City sit top of the standings on goal difference and need three points against QPR this weekend to seal their first top-flight title since 1968. Roberto Mancini’s men have been imperious at the Etihad Stadium this term, winning 17 out of their 18 games at home and remaining unbeaten as hosts. On paper City should have the quality and motivation to dispatch the Loftus Road side; however, Rangers still need a point to ensure their Premier League status for next season, as a Bolton win away at Stoke would see the London team drop back into the bottom three.

Rangers’ fortunes have taken an upturn since Mark Hughes replaced Neil Warnock as the club’s manager. The newly-promoted side have beaten Liverpool, Arsenal and Tottenham since the Welsh trainer’s introduction, and have looked like a stubborn and solid side of late.

Reports in the press indicate that QPR owner Tony Fernandes will reward Hughes with a £1 million payout should he keep the club in the top flight, however the head coach will be motivated to prove a point for other reasons this Sunday. Hughes was treated harshly in his stint at City, dispatched by the club and their lofty ambitions after Sheik Mansour’s takeover, and the Rangers boss will feel that Mancini has taken advantage of the groundwork set by him.

Hughes did not have stars such as David Silva, Yaya Toure, Sergio Aguero and others at his disposal during his time at the club, and in the early stages of the City revolution patience was not in abundance. Hughes has excelled since leaving the Manchester team, both at Fulham and QPR, and will be keen to show that City’s current success may originate from his initial underpinnings.

Meanwhile, in north London Tottenham are on the verge of reclaiming a top-four spot, and need three points at home to Fulham to confirm fourth place at least. Although finishing in third is also possible if Arsenal slip-up at West Brom, Harry Redknapp has admitted that he will be happy to claim fourth place.

Spurs’ early-season heroics have hit a sizeable roadblock over the last two months, and the White Hart Lane club have dropped from potential title challengers to scrapping for fourth. However, Martin Jol and Fulham stand in the way of a successful campaign for Spurs.

Fulham have had a good second half of the season, and the likes of Moussa Dembele, Pavel Pogrebnyak and especially Clint Dempsey will prove a threat to Spurs’ season. Martin Jol is a popular figure at White Hart Lane after his stint in the club’s hotseat. The Dutch trainer put the wheels in motion for Spurs’ current place as one of he country’s best teams, and led Tottenham to two fifth-placed finishes.

Jol has done a good job with Fulham also, and Spurs are by no means guaranteed an easy three points. Similar to Hughes, Jol will feel that his departure from Tottenham was slightly unjust, and the headhunting of Juande Ramos to replace him will have left a slightly bitter taste in the mouth. Jol will look to prove a point to Daniel Levy and the rest of the Tottenham board this weekend, and in doing so could well end the north London club’s hopes of Champions League football.

In For Eden? Hazard potentially the man to reinvigorate Manchester United’s midfield

Belgian star on United radar as Ferguson’s midfield comes under further scrutiny in wake of derby defeat

Monday night saw Manchester United lose the Premiership title initiative to big-spending noisy neighbours City and consequently opened fresh debate on the need for investment at the heart of Sir Alex Ferguson’s side.

The Old Trafford supremo stuck to his guns last summer, opting not to sign a midfielder as he waited for the right player to become available. Fergie entrusted his current charges and the decision seemed to be vindicated as United clawed their way to the league summit with the evergreen Ryan Giggs and Michael Carrick on good form in the early part of 2012. Due to Darren Fletcher’s continued absence, Paul Scholes even made a shock return from retirement and has boosted the champions with a series of assured performances.

The narrow derby loss however, saw the trio along with Park Ji-Sung, overrun by the power in the engine room of rivals City, with Yaya Toure and Gareth Barry particularly impressive. Even though the title race is far from over, the manner of the defeat has left Sir Alex under fresh pressure to bolster the champions’ options in the middle of the park.

Across the channel meanwhile Lille star Eden Hazard continues to impress. The Belgian, regarded as one of the hottest properties in Europe, now has 17 goals and 19 assists in Ligue 1 this term.

The Red Devils manager went to watch the 21-year-old when Lille met Lyon back in March and clearly was impressed.

“He is a very good player who has many qualities.” – Sir Alex Ferguson after travelling to France to watch Eden Hazard.

Despite his impressive statistics this season, the fact that Hazard is playing in the French league rather than the Premiership or La Liga could indicate a need to prove himself at a higher level. Ferguson is sure to have noticed though, that unlike his United side in recent weeks, the Belgian playmaker is displaying consistency. He was instrumental in keeping the Lille title challenge alive, netting a penalty away to rivals Paris Saint-Germain and also playing a key role in the winning goal with a superb rabona style cross. Hazard also notched another assist as Rudy Garcia’s men won 1-0 at Nice in their most recent fixture.

Ferguson will surely have alternative options in mind and only he knows for sure who his top targets will be, as United continue to be linked with creative players around Europe. One certainty though, is that if the Scot does identify Hazard as his priority he will pursue the transfer with shrewd efficiency. He has an impressive record of getting his man and can be expected to act early in the window, as he did last year.

There will of course be competition for the Belgian’s signature, should Lille be willing to let him go. Due to Arsene Wenger’s preference for young slick players from Ligue 1, Hazard has continually been linked with a switch to the Emirates. Harry Redknapp is known to be another fan of the player. Competition could also come from within France in the form of big-spending PSG, Spanish giants Real Madrid and Barcelona, and possibly Manchester City and Chelsea too.

Hazard is rumoured to have indicated a desire to move to the Premier League and after being watched by Ferguson in March is quoted as being ‘flattered by the compliment coming from the top manager in world football.’ If United opt to move for the Lille man, Sir Alex will need the full financial backing of United’s American owners – it is believed the French club have a minimum release fee clause in the 21-year-old’s contract of €40 million.

By Francis Johnston

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