Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Will this be Jol’s last season at Tottenham?

It is widely rumored that Dutch international manager Marco van Basten will leave the post after the Euro 2008 Championships in Austria and Switzerland, the former Ajax and AC Milan striker has so far resisted a new deal. Tottenham manager Martin Jol has been earmarked as the successor.

Jol maintains that he doesn’t want to leave the club until he has achieved something with the club but we all know that a lucrative offer and the positives a national team appointment can offer can sometimes be tempting.

I for one hope he does not go. I think he’s done excellent work at Tottenham and made some excellent signings. While back-to-back fifth place finishes may not be seen as a resounding success, it’s the best performance from a manager in 2 decades, this last season he reached quarter-finals of both the UEFA Cup and FA Cup.

The Dutch FA claims they have already approached Jol about the possibility of taking over. Jol, 51, has three years left on his current contract and has managed at Spurs since 2004 after being given the assistant manager to Jacques Santini who managed Spurs for like a week.

Spurs have spent more than 35m pounds in the transfer market this summer.


Adu heading to Benfica

American international winger Freddy Adu has will be joining Portuguese club SL Benfica. The Real Salt Lake player’s deal is pending the results of a medical.

An anonymous club official said the agreement could not yet been announced but was quoted as saying it was a done deal. As the player was met at the Lisbon airport yesterday, and joined a Benfica training session, it goes without saying.

Adu was featured on the front pages of a number of Portuguese sports papers with the headline “Son of Pele" and was met by a group of supporters.

While not the club most would have imagined him joining in Europe, this is probably a smart move. First of all, he gets Champions League football, realistic expectations and a regular starting place since Benfica sold Simao Sabrosa to Atletico Madrid last week.

Major League Soccer and Benfica agreed to a transfer fee of about 1m pounds for the 18 year old.

Adu has been the talisman of MLS since he signed with D.C. United at age 14 –the youngest player in the league's history. Now that Adu is 18, he is eligible to move to a foreign club under FIFA rules.

Benfica, Portuguese champions 31 times, finished third last season behind FC Porto and Sporting Lisbon and will play the third qualifying round of the Champions League next month.

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Oh, so it’s not just me who thinks he’s corrupt

Human Rights Watch (HRW), probably the largest human rights group in the world, has written to the Premier League to question League's 'fit and proper person' test somehow passed by Thaksin Shinawatra and his purchase of Manchester City.

Quote from HRW:

"A human rights abuser of the worst kind" and "under any definition, I don't see how Thaksin can be fit and proper"

HRW doesn’t understand that all you need is money. In recent comments in my articles, I was accused of supporting a military coup and being all kinds of things which I found extremely laughable. And now you see why.

The Premier League has replied by defending the fit and proper person test. That means that human rights abusers are ok then.

The allegations against Thaksin are:

  • Extrajudicial killings during a "war on drugs". HRW says 2,500 people were killed in three months during 2003
  • Used the Thai military to suppress a south Thailand insurgency

  • Suppressed the Thai media, that’s why you don’t know a lot about it

  • Various conflict of interest with family members and business deals

See folks, the League are patsies, unwilling to stand up for anything proper. Just look at Ken Bates and Leeds, a joke beyond jokes. And unfortunately City fans, at least the ones in these comments, are blinded by loyalty to their club and accuse me of having a grudge. I don't, look here and here. Take the blinders off: the ‘fit and proper person’ test is not a real test.


So it’s Madrid, sort of

Jose Antonio Reyes got his dream move to Madrid, sort of. Atletico Madrid, not Real Madrid as he really wished for. For a significant loss, Arsenal have finally unloaded one of the biggest crybabies to play professional football for a long time.

Reyes had a medical yesterday and has signed a four-year deal; the transfer fee was around 6m pounds.

To create some political cover, the Spanish international winger now says that he had always wanted to join Atletico Madrid. Sure. And holding out hope for Real Madrid was what? And that crybaby radio prank where Reyes was begging to join Real?

"Real wanted me right up until the last moment but Atletico made a great effort to get me."-Reyes

That quote above means Real have likely signed Chelsea’s Arjan Robben and Reyes is a playmaker in more ways than football.

An Arsenal statement said:

"Everyone at Arsenal thanks Jose Antonio for his contribution to the club and wishes him the best of luck for the future"

Or it said

“Diapers are cheaper in Madrid”

–I don’t recall which.

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Saturday, July 28, 2007

Leeds United: Enough!

Ok boys, toothpicks under the eyelids, stay awake, because below is an example of just how corruption and the ‘old boys network’ works and you get shafted. Leeds United should have kept the sharks like Ken Bates away from their club because he has mucked it up so badly that you are likely a decade or more away from the Premiership again.

Your clubs players have not been paid, but tax evasion, offshore companies, strange ownership deals, odd consulting fees, and generally pushing the rules to the limit have created such an un-understandable murky mess that you’d need an army of lawyers and accountants to decipher it.

To make this as basic as I personally understand it, Leeds declared bankruptcy and KPMG sold the company immediately back to the same owners and have somehow had their debts forgiven to some offshore company. So a creditor has lent all this money to Leeds, then suddenly written off the entire loan. Huh?

Can I get one of these too? I got a house that would be nice to play such a trick with.

Beyond all of this, bids were made to buy the club that were much better than Ken Bates's but some behind the scenes forces have somehow made sure it’s his bid that was accepted. Stranger still.

Can I have an account on eBay like this?

So Ken Bates won control of Leeds United again despite accountants KPMG being presented with bigger cash offers. Bates, and who knows who, put up an offer but so did Redbus Group and Simon Morris –who offered twice as much.

The gambit was that Astor Investment Holdings, the strange offshore company holding the debt, said it would forgive the 17m pounds it was owed. Had any other bidder won, Astor would have demanded the money. Very unusual to say the least.

Ah, but the soft corruption has a source: KPMG stated was appointed Leeds administrators by a representative of Astor Investment Holdings, one Mark Taylor, who just happens to be a director of “Leeds United 2007 Ltd”, the name of the new company Bates formed to buy what he already owned.

The League has so far refused to sign over its "golden share" of membership to this new company, which was not bought via a Company Voluntary Arrangement (CVA) of creditors.

The League has never approved a sale and transfer of a “golden share” without a CVA being agreed. Ken Bates wants an exception.

The question I would beg to know the answer to is how Leeds became indebted to offshore companies. Accounting tricks? Smells like it. And how, now, can these debts that seemed to contribute to the club’s bankruptcy be forgotten. Why not before –before players were not being paid?

So since Leeds is sold, and they don’t yet have permission to play in the upcoming season, a problem exists. But maybe not.

Here is where the old boys network kicks in: Leeds, historic club and all, just can’t miss a season and disappoint their fans, can they? That would crush the fans, wouldn’t it? So, the old boys will decide that it just can’t happen, you know, disappoint the fans, so they will ok this ‘exception’ and legitimize whatever sneaky dealings have gone on here.

So, use the masses to enrich the classes. This is a classic political gambit and it will work again. Were Leeds to miss a season and force a sale to a reputable person, my guess is that they would be back up among the elite faster than you can say CORRUPTION.


Friday, July 27, 2007

Foot to the face with your clearance?

Velez Sarsfield goalkeeper Gaston Sessa is guilty of one of the most vicious actions by a goalkeeper you'll ever see. In this video, he collects a long ball but in the process lifts his leg to the face of Boca Juniors striker Rodrigo Palacio:

Fortunately, this criminal goalkeeper was red carded and deserves a season long suspension for such a dangerous and irresponsible act.


The greatest tackle ever

I never tire of seeing Bobby Moore's tackle on Jairzinho in the 1970 World Cup group match in Mexico. The former West Ham talisman executed a tackle so flawlessly, that I don’t think can ever be bested. The match itself was a classic, not only delivering the greatest tackle ever, but also the greatest save ever, Gordon Banks incredible stop of a Pele header.

Bobby Moore was playing very, very well. He was on his feet, in control, calm and patient. When Jairzinho was charging the right wing Moore kept backing away as the Brazilian brought the ball closer and closer to the England box. Jairzinho kept the ball close as he surged forward, but just as he crossed into the box, played the ball ever so slightly further ahead of himself. You can just catch that instant of recognition from Moore.

Like a cobra, Moore struck. He had been tracking back sideways, with back to goal. Today players will challenge, most often fouling, as the player reaches the edge of the box. As a testament to his class and technique, Moore keep himself trained on the ball and as Jairzinho crossed into the box he snapped his right leg out and pinched the ball away with superb cleanliness. Jairzinho tumbled over into the box, but Moore, hardly lowering himself to make the challenge, popped right up with the ball and looked to turn play back up field.

I have often complained about the quality of defending in the modern game and this video is exactly why, you don’t see defending like this anymore and it’s a shame:

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Blackburn and Manchester City want Santa Cruz

Both Blackburn Rovers and Manchester City are hoping to sign Paraguayan international Roque Santa Cruz from Bayern Munich.

Rovers boss Mark Hughes and City boss Sven Goran-Eriksson are keen to start talks with the 25 year old player who has been given permission to talk to both clubs as well as FC Porto of Portugal. A deal may be wrapped up over the weekend if Santa Cruz can come to terms and decide on a club. Galatasaray has also been rumored to have inquired.

Santa Cruz has been sidelined at Munich to protect the asset while a deal is made for the player. A good showing at the Copa America has boosted his stock among suitors and his place at Bayern has been usurped by new signings Miroslav Klose and Luca Toni.

The pricetag for the player is said to be around 4.5m pounds well within reason for all potential suitors.

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Nani’s been grounded

Alex Ferguson has banned new Manchester United summer signing Nani from his trademark somersault goal celebration for the player's own safety. I guess shades of Lomara LuaLua’s injury for Portsmouth still linger.

Nani scored on his Manchester United debut against FC Shenzhen in Macau on their pre-season tour of Asia and celebrated the goal with a few flips. No more says Alex Ferguson, Nani had been sidelined with an ankle injury and still did the flips. Some say he landed awkwardly and grimaced in pain afterwards. I didn’t notice it.

Nani will be informed thru Man U #2, Carlos Queiroz who played a key role in bringing Nani to Old Trafford from Sporting Lisbon.

Nani's celebration is a lot like Portsmouth's Lomana LuaLua, a player who spent time on the sidelines after injuring himself with the flips a couple of seasons ago against Arsenal.

You can see a video of Nani's debut and the goal celebration here.


Lyon prepared to pay for pair of Premiership players

French champions Lyon are preparing bids to prize away defender Mikael Silvestre from Manchester United and perpetually unhappy Jose Antonio Reyes from Arsenal.

29 year old Silvestre is being lured back to his home country as it has become clear he’ll be moving down the pecking order behind Gerard Pique and Wes Brown. Silvestre played just 14 games last season, but wants to remain at the club, a foolish desire, I think. After selling Florent Malouda to Chelsea, Jose Antonio Reyes looks to be the Lyon target, but I doubt the homesick player would play anywhere other than Spain, somewhere he seems almost childishly attached to.

If Lyon could sign Reyes, he could play up front or on the left, giving Lyon options. To me, it would be a great move, what with Champions League football and almost certainly another French league title, why not? Notice not too many players join Lyon and fail. More often than not, they join and succeed. While Real Madrid remain interested, their bids so far have been outright rejected while Lyon could easily table an acceptable bid. The deal, more than likely hinges on Arjan Robben. Should Robben join Madrid, Reyes will be out of luck.

Madrid have offered 6m pounds which is about half of what Arsenal want.

Jesus Rodriguez de Moya, Reyes's agent, has confirmed the interest from Lyon but is holding out.

Look at it this way: it’s like a guy that wants to be with a girl a lot more than the girl wants him. Eventually Madrid will dump Reyes off when a new target arrives. He may WANT Madrid, but Madrid aren’t really that excited to have him. You should always go play where you are wanted, Jose: if you go to Madrid, you will sit the bench more than you ever play.

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Thursday, July 26, 2007

Finally, Manchester City make smart signing

Manchester City have signed quality Bulgarian winger Martin Petrov from Atletico Madrid. After a series of underwhelming signings (to the disagreement of many City fans), this move is fantastic for City. Petrov has played well in every league he’s joined and at 28 has the right experience level to help a club that needs just that.

For 4.7m pounds the Bulgarian international is a bargain. Skilled, direct, and with a good footballing brain, he is a complete winger that City are lucky to get. After 13m pound Simao Sabrosa joined Atletico, Petrov is seen as surplus to requirements.

Petrov has agreed a three year deal and has already passed a medical. Heavily linked with Tottenham over the last few days, Sven-Goran Eriksson has pulled a small coup and given his team just what they need: a player than can get the ball down the field and in the box.

Petrov, capped 60 times, started out at CSKA Sofia. He had a spell in Switzerland where he caught the eye of German outfit Wolfsburg where he was highly regarded. He left for La Liga and Atletico Madrid in 2005 where he has been since. Steadily, he was moving west and now North.

Here is a video of some highlights from his spell in Germany:

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Tottenham fail in pull wool over Birmingham eyes

Birmingham will almost certainly not be signing Egyptian international striker Mido from Tottenham. If I were a Birmingham supporter, I would be breathing a sigh of relief. If I were a Tottenham fan, I would be cursing the alignment of the planets for scuppering a perfectly good plan to dump off a dead weight player to an unsuspecting club.

Actually, you can curse Mido, whose arrogance has no boundaries. His wage demands are beyond Birmingham's budget. No deal unless he lowers his opinion of himself and takes less money.

No such problems signing 25 year old Hossam Ghaly.

Bruce tried to sign Mido on loan, but Tottenham want a permanent deal -Darren Bent being really expensive and all.

When a player like Mido, who has fallen out at every club he has played at, makes unrealistic demands of a newly promoted club, it’s a sign he belongs in the scrap heap.

Birmingham should be thanking Mido for being arrogant and demanding, save them the trouble of the inevitable fall-out with the manager and selling him to some unsuspecting club for 1m at a 5m pound loss.

At this point, if I were Tottenham, I would ship him off on loan.

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Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Cyuyff’s two greatest goals

Former Ajax Amsterdam and Barcelona super-superstar Johan Cruyff scored some many amazing goals during his career that it’s almost impossible to choose.

I settled on what are my 2 favorites, one occurred earlier in his career when he was with Ajax and the second occurred when he was with Barcelona.

The first goal is incredibly clever and took place on January 2, 1972 against FC Den Haag; A long ball was headed away from Ajax’s defense and on the left wing. Cruyff noticed the defense was very high up the pitch and only 2 defenders back where he was standing. In one movement, Cruyff took the ball on the immediate hop and played it in front of the defender towards the goal. A burst of pace, and a piece of tape trailing on his hand saw him leave defender Cees Weimar at sea and all that was left was the goalkeeper.

Instead of dribbling towards goal and risking a bad touch or a challenge, Cruyff smashes the ball over the outstretched keeper and scores an amazing goal. Here is the video:

The second, and my personal favorite is one Cruyff scored for Barcelona. I don’t know the date but it was against Atletico Madrid. It’s an incredible moment of touch, precision, and all out genius. Cruyff took a cross in from the right and instead of heading it in, he decided to try for a kung-fu volley. A goal only Cruyff could score:


Tuesday, July 24, 2007

First look: Nani in a Manchester United shirt (video)

With Paul Scholes injured, Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson handed his summer signing from Sporting Lisbon Nani a debut against FC Shenzhen.

Below is a video I’ve compiled of all his touches during his 60 odd minutes on the pitch. He looked lively and did well all things considered. He made a few good passes, switched wings, scored, and for the most part looked in sync with the rest of the team.

He was doubtful for the game as he was recovering from an ankle injury but was deemed fit to play.

Nani then scored with a first time strike from the right of the penalty area after Giggs’s brilliant back flick. He celebrated the goal with trademark somersaults. From what I saw, his 17m transfer fee looks well spent as he looks to have a lot more on offer. By the way, United won 6-0.

Here is the video with all of Nani’s touches:


Why such a fuss for Heinze?

As the transfer saga between Liverpool and Manchester United has evolved the question that keeps popping into my head is why?

Rafa Benitez is certainly fighting to bring the 29 year old Argentine international over from Old Trafford to Anfield, but there is a much better option on the table, and I cannot understand why Giorgio Chiellini is being seen as second choice and not first.

Chiellini has the complete package: great defending, heading, composure, leadership (he was the Italian U-21 captain) and pedigree. He’s also only 23, 6 years younger than Heinze, and has many of the same attributes as the Argentine. Chiellini has also received 6 international caps, rare for an Italian defender of his age. He’s poised to become one of the best left backs in the world, just needs a club to give him regular football. On top of that, he’s come cheaper and will less, um, litigation.

Don’t get me wrong, Heinze is an excellent player, but at 29, he only has a couple of good years left in him. Chiellini is a better option for Liverpool’s long term ambitions.

Unfortunately, Manchester City has made an offer which has surpassed Liverpool’s and Juventus are considering it, especially after the player expressed his frustration last week. I don’t know how likely Chiellini would be to accept a move to City, but in any event, it appears Liverpool have lost the initial opening that would have signed the player for less.

I can’t quite put my finger on the rationale behind Liverpool’s hesitation to sign Giorgio Chiellini. With Manchester United blocking a move to their arch rivals and even considering reporting illegal contact with the player, it doesn’t look like litigation will help. I’d forget it and go for the Italian. Check out this video, and you can see his quality and why he’d do so well in the Premiership.

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Zidane: The early years

Zinedine Zidane will always be remembered for is World Player of the Year awards, his time at Real Madrid and Juventus and his incredible 1998 World Cup Final performance against Brazil -oh, and his Marco Materazzi headbutt.

Zidane played his first game in First Division at the age of 17 for Cannes, the up and coming midfielder scored his first goal during his second season on the 8th February 1991, many more would follow.

I made a video of early footage from his career: his first game, first goal and season, full head of hair. Interspersed is commentary from the player. Worth a watch:

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Monday, July 23, 2007

Ferdinand blasted ball at fans

Surely one of the worst moments of last season has to be Rio Ferdinand blasting the ball into the stands and hitting elderly female fan while having a tantrum against Blackburn Rovers.

The moment occurred when he was not allowed to play on after a foul on Cristiano Ronaldo. He took out his frustrations on the poor folks behind the goal at Old Trafford. He’s lucky it didn’t happen at the away end or away from home.

Apparently Ferdinand apologized to the elderly lady and gave her his shirt after the match. Let’s look back on the sorry moment:


The Diop screamer

During the 2005 season Papa Bouba Diop certainly made a name for himself with a brilliant smash when Fulham drew against Manchester United at Craven Cottage.

The Senegal international rifled home from 25 meters in the 87th minute to equalize the game.
A long ball was played in from the left by Bocanegra and was fought over with the heads in front of the box. The ball eventually fell to Radzinski’s foot and he tapped the ball centrally to Mark Pembridge who guided it on to Diop.

Diop ran onto the ball and unleashed a ferocious strike on goal. The ball flew like an arrow and left keeper Roy Carroll with no chance. Excitedly, Diop ran all the way across the pitch and did a celebration dance. It was a stunning effort, one of my favorite goals, one of my favorite players:

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Freddie bye bye

West Ham have signed Arsenal midfielder Freddie Ljungberg and will present the 30 year old Swedish international at a press conference this afternoon.

He joined Arsenal in 1998 from Halmstads in a 3m pound deal and has been Arsenal's longest serving player. He scored 72 goals in 325 games for the club. Much speculation about his destination had been in the media lately with Fiorentina and a linkup with fellow Swede Sven Goran Eriksson at Manchester City all thought to be strong possibilities, but it appears West Ham, desperate for more progress in the transfer market, have offered the best terms.

He had two years left on his contract at the Emirates Stadium but the club decided to move him and avoid the inevitable 1 year contract problem that all Arsenal elder statesmen seem to face. Robert Pires left for nothing last season.

Ljungberg will become West Ham's fifth signing this summer joining Craig Bellamy, Julien Faubert, Scott Parker and Richard Wright.

As for Ljungberg, he'll have to do his Calvin Klein underwear modeling in new colors.

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First look in an Arsenal shirt: Eduardo da Silva (video)

New Arsenal signing Eduardo da Silva wore the shirt for the first time the other day and did rather well against Genclerbirligi in the 20+ minutes he had on the pitch. He crossed, turned well and looked active. While not amazing it was a solid and promising start.

Arsenal won 3-0 in what was a good test for the Gunners. Here is da Silva’s contribution:


Sunday, July 22, 2007

City lock horns with Reading over quality defender

Manchester City have targeted defender and holding midfielder Emerse Fae, trying to nudge out Reading who were very close to making a deal for the Ivory Coast international earlier this month.

With a deal not closed, City have smartly stepped in to try and land one of the better defenders playing in France. Fae will decide on a new club over the weekend as the club have made it clear that he can leave. Nantes were relegated from Ligue 1 last season. The 23-year-old is just too good for a lower league and looks set to move.

Lokomotiv Moscow have emerged as a late contender for the player, who are apparently offering good personal terms.

Reports in France emerged Friday claiming City club officials have held talks with the player late last week.

Reading have waited too long, plain and simple, regardless of an injury to the player. Fae handed in a transfer request at well over a month ago. Now, with new owners in the Premiership and money to spend, the player is spoiled for choice.

Fae has made exactly 100 appearances for Nantes and has been capped 14 times for the Ivory Coast, playing in ther 2006 World Cup and also in the last African Cup of Nations. Fae is a product of the Nantes youth academy and opted for Ivory Coast rather than his native France.

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Brawl in Rotterdam

A memorable 1956 match between Feyenoord and Real Madrid went all wrong in front of a packed Rotterdam stadium where the Dutch queen was present for the festivities.

Madrid were asking for it. They were kicking the Feyenoord players all match long, with the worst of it being defender Hans Kraaij getting kicked in the head by Pachin which caused Kraaij to need stitches and a rather large bandage.

As one kick led to another, Feyenoord said enough was enough.

Defender Miera leveled Coen Moulijn right in front of the royal box, literally flinging him over his hip which caused the Feyenoord player to get up and start chasing the Spaniard.

After a zig-zag chase, a host of Feyenoord players joined in once Mieira hit the ground and began getting roundly kicked. Policemen raced in to stop it. Mahem ensued.

This event is as much a worst moment for the fight as the terrible attitude of the Real Madrid players. They lost the game and cemented their reputation as sore losers.

Here is a video of the event:


Saturday, July 21, 2007

The 50 worst transfers

The Times has put together a list of the 50 worst transfers to the Premiership and to nobody’s surprise, Newcastle United lead the list with 9 of the 50… almost 20%. Pfff. Chelsea go second with 7, most of them pre-Abramovic.

Some names that will bring a laugh:

For Newcastle, how about Stephane Guivarc’h, Hugo Viana, Jon Dahl Tomasson, Faustino Asprilla (I thought he was rather good, though), and Marcelino to name a few. Asprilla, what a talent, but a head case.

For Chelsea, Khalid Boulahrouz, Paul Furlong, Andriy Shevchenko, Adrian Mutu and Robert Fleck appear on the list.

Aston Villa (how they did not include Juan Pablo Angel is beyond me) and Arsenal are not spared their clangers, to see the entire list you can read it here.

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Certainly the weirdest rumor you’ll hear all month

And here’s a bit of a strange idea for Arsenal fans: what would you say to having Formula One kingpin Bernie Ecclestone take over your club?

Amid endless speculation that American Stan Kroenke is not going to stop his attempt at a buyout, the sensational idea that Ecclestone would enter the fray has me scratching my head until I realized what’s on his mind:

"If somebody offers me something I think is good value, I will have a go. I'm interested in anything if it's cheap enough."

Right. Cheap. Like ‘made in China’ and McDonald’s cheap. Cheap, like, I couldn’t pass it up because I got it cheap. Man, after the former Thai Prime Minister, the Glazers, now this, the Premiership is certainly attracting some strange vultures.

The 76-year-old Formula One rights holder is quite rich so it’s not a question of money. But let me tell you, he has had a lot of success in building Formula One over the years but has also built an awful reputation for being a cut throat businessman, dominating everyone around him, and looking out for himself before anything or anyone else.

While Arsene Wenger thinks British ownership is the way to go, I doubt he had this in mind.
The rumor is not fruitless. Ecclestone and Flavio Briatore, currently the Renault team manager, hatched a plan to buy Chelsea a couple of years ago and Ecclestone has a relationship with David Dein. Ecclestone lives in Chelsea and is a reported Blues fan, just to mix it up a bit.


Friday, July 20, 2007

Middlesbrough poised for quality capture

Premiership side Middlesbrough have agreed on fee with Championship side Charlton Athletic for defender Luke Young. The quoted fee of 2.5m is an excellent price for a talented defender.

Young must now agree on personal terms and pass a medical exam. Hemade it clear he wanted to stay in the Premiership and Charlton have now relented. The 28 year old had played over 200 matches for the club and was voted Charlton’s player of the year in 2005, the same year he received his first England call up.

Before Alan Curbishley left Charlton Athletic, Young had handed in a transfer request, since he and Curbishley had not got on. After Curbishley left Young withdrew his transfer request, but this time a transfer looks for real as Alan Pardew said he would not prevent Young from leaving The Valley.

Yassin Moutaouakil, a new signing, should replace Young at the full back’s position.

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Average player leaves Tottenham for Birmingham

Birmingham have agreed to pay Tottenham 6m pounds for Egyptian striker Mido. The distinctly average striker has left permanently when a loan deal was expected. Incredibly, Spurs stand to profit on the sale after signing the striker for 4.5m pounds in 2006.

Don’t hold your breath though. Personal terms have yet to be agreed which could easily break the deal. Should he sign, Mido would be Birmingham’s seventh transfer since winning promotion back to the Premier League.

Birmingham should think twice about this. Mido has fallen out of favor at every club he has been with and has a history of bad temperament and falling out with managers.

He started only seven games and made five further appearances as a substitute last season after a promising start at the club. He is now further down the pecking order after the expensive signing of Darren Bent.

For Birmingham this would be a record signing. It could turn out positively, without any competition for a place; Mido could settle and score goals. He has always been capable but hindered but a mighty high opinion of himself. Maybe a dose of reality will get him back on track.

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Thursday, July 19, 2007

The greatest overhead bicycle goal ever

I couldn’t choose between my two favorites, so I will show the pair. One is from Hugo Sanchez when he played for Real Madrid and the second is that very memorable overhead from Cardiff City winger Trevor Sinclair when he was with Queens Park Rangers in an FA Cup versus Barnsley.

Here is the infamous Sinclair goal back when he wore deadlocks, this goal from 3o meters out rightly won the 1997 Match of the DayGoal of the Season”:

The second was the astonishing overhead that Hugo Sanchez scored for Real Madrid. The amazing thing about the prolific goal scorer was just how many overhead goals he scored in his career. This is the best of the lot, though:

I can’t pick between them, maybe you can.


More reasons that pre-season friendlies are stupid

John Terry’s season got off on the wrong foot. He broke a toe in a pointless friendly win for Chelsea over the South Korean side Suwon Bluewings yesterday while the club are on tour in the United States. Samsung on the front of the shirt, and all.

Terry played until half-time in a pre-planned substitution, the injury was then diagnosed. I read a ridiculous suggestion the he could be given pain killing injections to play in another pointless friendly against the Los Angeles Galaxy during the weekend. You can’t be serious? Injections to play in a friendly? How stupid can you be.

Jose Mourinho, to his credit, used 22 players during the game in order to give them all a 45 minutes stretch and minimize their exposure before something meaningful begins. It didn’t work out as one of the clubs most important players could now miss the beginning of the new season.

Terry had a bad run of injuries last season including a back injury that required surgery. It was one of the major reasons Chelsea didn’t close on United and win the title last season. To see it happening again should give Mourinho pause and maybe forget this worthless exercise and give the kids a chance to impress him.

I have no issue with this touring garbage to earn money unless the 1st team is used. This should be an opportunity for the kids to play and it has become a joke where sponsors demand contracts that state a certain number of regulars must play.

Then you get what you have here.


Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Eriksson doing best Wenger impression

Manchester City have signed Brazilian midfielder Geovanni on a free transfer from Cruzeiro. They have also signed Rolando Bianchi from Reggina and also a kid named Gelson Fernandes from FC Sion. Will new manager Sven-Goran Eriksson be an Arsene Wenger or another Alain Perrin?

No doubt that Manchester City have rebuilding to do and Eriksson will be itching for the chance to prove the huge number of doubters wrong. With a failed England career and a corrupt new owner, Manchester City is on the right track. I can see Noel Gallagher at the ground with a Swedish and Thai flag on both sides of his baseball hat now.

Seeing the players that Eriksson is signing, I can see my doubts well founded. Not necessarily bad players, but obscure players, and no experience in England. I don’t want to do an Alan Hanson “you can’t win anything with kids” but I doubt you can climb the table with a bunch of players who have no Premiership pedigree.

The first signing for City was Reggina striker Rolando Bianchi. 24, some potential but looks to me like a Samaras in sheep’s clothing. He doesn’t link play and poaches goals. He scored a bunch last season in Italy, but wasn’t one of City’s biggest problems last campaign their inability to feed the strikers? How will a poacher solve that?

Fernandes was second. When I heard the name Fernandes, I thought, wow, smart move signing the former Everton loaner and Benfica midfielder Manuel Fernandes, but no. He signed some obscure, somewhat rated Swiss kid Gelson Fernandes, aged 20. Hmmm. Do Man City need help now or in 4 years?

Today’s announcement fuels my suspicions. Geovanni? The same failed career at Benfica and Barcelona Geovanni? And on a one year deal? How can that be rebuilding? He came on a free. Well, not a lot to lose there, but again my point: where is this all going?

I could be eating words come Boxing Day, City in 6th, glory, chance at the Champions League and a famous win against United already under Eriksson’s belt. I could be wrong but I don’t see Sven Goran Eriksson as anything like an Arsene Wenger. He had trouble getting an England 11 to work together when he had the best at his disposal. He chose Theo Walcott, never even having played a Premiership game and never used him.

If I were City’s manager I would have done the following:

Sign Jermain Defoe, take a stab at Eduir Guidjohnson, then definitely sign Manuel Fernandes.

Make a likely fruitless try for Sunsuke Nakamura, then make a play for Stuart Downing or even bring Shaun Wright-Phillips back. Tomas Gravesen would do nicely for support.

Last, sign a pair of defenders. There are a host of good ones out there like Gio van Bronckhorst who left Barcelona for Feyenoord to stabilize the back.

My point is Manchester City need to stabilize the team and bring in help that has Premiership experience. Arsene Wenger has the luxury of a stable team from which he can take risks. Sven Goran-Eriksson does not have this luxury and should do the most possible to make sure City stay near the top 10 and look to make gains on that the following season.

As it looks now, sorry to say, City look lost and like a relegation candidate to me.


Harewood no longer a Hammer

Aston Villa have secured the signing of West Ham striker Marlon Harewood, beating out Wigan Athletic in a three year deal, 3.5m pound deal.

Harewood had a great first season for West Ham scoring 16 goals, but was one of the players seen as an underperformer last season, scoring only 4 goals in 35 appearances.

Harewood will follow teammate Nigel Reo-Coker to Villa Park. He was linked with several clubs since the end of last season including Wigan and Birmingham City.

All told, Harewood had a decent run at West Ham. He scored 56 goals in 178 games since his arrival in 2003 from Nottingham Forest.

Harewood has certainly not been a one season wonder, Harewood was the top scorer for West Ham in 2004-05 promotion campaign with 23 goals. For Forest, he scored 21 goals in 2003 which sparked the transfer to West Ham for a 500,000 pound fee.

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Should Everton build the new stadium?

Everton chief executive Keith Wyness sure thinks the stadium, which would see the club move outside the boundaries of Liverpool, is a good idea. "The deal of the century", he calls it. Is it?

We know how Wyness wants things to go but now 33,000 Everton fans will get a vote on the matter.

The stadium deal involves a 50m pound investment from supermarket chain Tesco. The rosy portrait being painted is that the new ground could open by 2010 and will see “minimal” debt being placed on the club. Most of the cash Everton needs to raise for the project would come from the sale of Goodison Park. And to boot, 10m pounds of extra transfer funds every season with the revenue from the extra seats. All sounds great.

No shortage of good salesmanship out there, but is the line being peddled by Everton’s management true or is the rosy a picture a farse?

The proposed stadium will be built on land contributed by Knowsley council and will hold around 55,000 people.

The main problem regarding the deal is the reluctance of many fans to leave Liverpool. As when politicians sell wars, scare tactics are brought in to make sure you do what others want:

"Attendance numbers will go down and then revenue will go down and when that happens, you can't compete. There is no Plan B. There is no other option."

“No other option”, sound familiar?

"Attendance numbers will go down"? Where are the facts to back that up?

“More transfer funds”, where have I heard that.

“Deal of the century”, there is a sucker born every minute.

Could this be a good deal? It might… but by the tone of the salesmanship, I have strong doubts. There are always other options unless you know what you want in advance and don't want to look.


West Ham and the stupid signing

“Unrivalled stupidity" is what outspoken French national coach Raymond Domenech's calls Julien Faubert after news that he decided to join West Ham from Bordeaux.

"I can't understand Faubert's decision apart from the financial point of view. When certain players call me to talk about me their transfer I tell them it's okay to play for one of the top four clubs in England, Germany, Italy or Spain, but this is stupidity. What a pity when he is on the verge of the French team. I have trouble understanding it." -Domenech

What I have trouble understanding is how the pedigree of the player’s club should affect a decision of a coach to play him in the national side. It’s a sort of bigotry to say that since you didn’t leave for Manchester United and play Champion’s League, then you are ruled out.

I think it’s more stupid for all of these players who join elite clubs with little chance for a starting role and end up with their names carved on a bench and leaving two years later for half of what they signed for and a career to recover. That’s stupid. That's what will likely happen to Yossi Benayoun.

Faubert, 23, has made one start for the French national side so far and looks poised to start no more while Domenech is coach, impressed in his first pre-season friendly this weekend. He played 45 minutes of and will play again against Austrian side Sigma today. With both West Ham midfielders sold, the position is wide open.

The Hammers paid 6.1m pounds to Bordeaux for Faubert who originally wanted a move to Rangers and had refused to train at Bordeaux when he was denied the transfer.

Frankly, this is none of Domenech's business. Faubert should be judged on his performances and not whether he earns more money or not, something I am SURE no player cares about.

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Monday, July 16, 2007

No Heinze, Liverpool turn to Italian U-21 (video)

After Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson made it clear that he was not going to deal Argentine international Gabriel Henize to rivals Liverpool, Tuttosport reports that the club is turning to Italian U-21 captain and Juventus defender Giorgio Chiellini.

Liverpool’s bid was 5m pounds for the talented left-sided defender who, for such a young age has been capped six times in the Italian senior side, debuting against Finland. No mean feat, considering the pedigree.

Liverpool have been chasing the youngster for quite a while now. Juventus had talks with Liverpool during the season for a loan deal but that has evolved into an offer for a permanent stay, as the arrival of fullback Domenico Criscito from Genoa has changed the possibilities.

Chiellini was a standout during the recent European Under-21 championships, being named to the team of the tournament. Juventus have rated the defender at 7m; he recently extended his current deal from 2009 to 2011. This kid is a top class defender and would be an excellent signing. On the other hand, with few exceptions, it doesn’t seem like Italian players stay in England long term. To invest in Chiellini as a long term solution could prove fruitless.

Here is a video of some of his attributes:

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A tackle so hard, the defenders boot came off

One of the worst tackles in football history must be the all out manhunt performed on former Argentine international and former Dundee United and Rangers winger Claudio Caniggia. The mauling was performed by Cameroonian central defender Benjamin Massing during their encounter at the 1990 World Cup in Italy.

Cameroon had a lead to protect in the 89th minute, up 1-0 in their opener, the Cameroonian’s were poised to make history until a late run by Caniggia sent a scare thru the Cameroonian defense. Massing had already been booked in the game which took place at the San Siro, but when Caniggia broke through 2 attempts at amputation already, the first an attempted knock down, the second a chop, Massing panicked and charged in with full body-check that sent Caniggia hurtling through the air.

The red card was instant, and Massing could do no more than scoop up the boot that he lost during the horrible tackle:


How to fool a goalkeeper

During a 2000 UEFA Cup match between Arsenal and Deportivo de la Coruna, former Arsenal striker Nwankwo Kanu scored one of my favorite ever goals.

Dennis Bergkamp tried to control a long ball but the defender got in the way and sent the ball strait into the air. The defender tried to head the ball back to the central defense but dropped it in between the two center backs. Well placed, an onrushing Kanu tapped the ball forward with his head towards the goal.

Clean thru, he appeared ready to play the ball into the right hand corner and as he maneuvered himself the keeper took the bait.

Without ever touching the ball, Kanu fooled goalkeeper Jacques Songo’o so brilliantly with his body that the goalkeeper fell over in a heap as the ball, untouched by Kanu, rolled by him. With the goalkeeper doing his best impression of an overturned turtle, all Kanu had left to do was tap the ball in which he did with typical economy.

While it was not from 40 meters out and 7 defenders were not left for dead in its making, this goal still remains to me as one of the finest goals ever scored because of how little Kanu did to create it:


Real Madrid bid for Chelsea player

Seeing an opening after the signing of Florent Malouda, Real Madrid have made a 13.5m pound bid for Chelsea winger Arjen Robben.

The newly crowned champions have been liked with Robben all summer but appear ready to bid now that the Blues have cover and the price may be more reasonable. While manager Jose Mourinho ruled a move out, I doubt Robben will stay.

Real’s president Ramon Calderon promised Cesc Fabregas and Robben during his election campaign. Fabregas has ruled out a move, and a certain amount of pressure is now on to sign the Dutch international.

Robben's agent and father Hans was the person who confirmed the Real bid. Robben indicated that talks over a new contract have not been positive and would be interested in leaving. I can imagine Robben will sense his starting chances diminish as well with Malouda’s capture. I have said for some time they should sell Robben, he's frail and injury prone and all around a bit of a wienie.

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Newcastle, Rangers FC part of police raid

Police have raided three Premiership football clubs in connection with a corruption inquiry. St James’ Park, home of Newcastle United is one of the locations targeted. A spokesperson for Rangers FC said Rangers were asked to co-operate with the London police investigation.

Search warrants were executed at the club’s premises, 2 other clubs and two private homes early this morning.

"We can confirm that search warrants were served at three football clubs and the homes of two individuals in connection with corruption in football” -Police

City of London Police conducted the raid operations which they claim were 'totally independent' of Lord Stevens' ongoing Quest inquiry into the Premier League transfer dealings.


Arsenal poised to smash transfer record on Palacio (video)

Reports in Argentina claim that Rodrigo Palacio will fly to London early this week for a medical after Boca Juniors accepted a bid from Arsenal for the player.

The 25 year old was expected to join Barcelona before they swooped for Henry. The transfer would smash their transfer record; the fee will be 15m pounds. Palacio is likely to end up wearing Henry’s former number 14 shirt as well; it’s the same number that Palacio wears for both Boca. Both of Palacio former clubs, Huracan and Banfield, are due a share of the transfer fee.

Barcelona had agreed to a deal for the same amount for Palacio but broke off negotiations once they heard Henry was in fact going to be available.

Palacio scored 39 goals in his 79 appearances for Boca Juniors. He has won 5 Argentine caps and played in this month’s Copa America but has not featured as a regular starter as Hernan Crespo and Carlos Tevez have been the regular starting pair up front.

Arsenal's previous record signing was Sylvain Wiltord for 12.5m pounds in 2000, 7 years ago.

Should a deal be finalized mid-week, this would make 5 new players signed this summer with striker Eduardo Da Silva, full-backs Havard Nordtveit and Bacary Sagna, and goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski now all on the books.

Here is a video of some goals scored for Boca Juniors:

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Friday, July 13, 2007

U-20 World Cup: Round of 16 red card disaster, Portugal worst offender, Uruguay sore losers (video)

The FIFA Under-20 World Cup Round of 16 was a round of red and yellow as an unheard-of 9 red cards and an eye popping 57 yellow cards were handed out during the 8 matches played. There was no more embarrassing display during the round and tournament so far than Portugal’s display of football and lack of sportsmanship against Chile in their 1-0 loss.

Incidents took place throughout the 8 matches. In the 43rd minute Gambia's Tijan Jaiteh was sent off against Austria. Brazil was reduced to 10 when they saw Leandro Lima red carded. A pair of substitutes were red carded in the match between Japan and the Czech Republic, Seiya Fujita and Jakub Mares respectively. For Poland it was Dawid Janczyk against Argentina and for Congo it was Franchel Ibara against Mexico.

If you map the red cards against losers, every team with a player red carded save the Czech’s (1 red for each team) and Chile (2 for Portugal, 1 for Chile) lost their match. There is something to be said for discipline and how it contributes to success.

The worst losers of the night were Portugal. A late match loss of composure saw the Portuguese re-live the end of the game festivities against France in the semi-final of Euro 2000. During that game Abel Xavier hand balled and gave France a winning penalty. There were players all-over the referee which saw FIFA levy suspensions after the match.

Last night it was the juniors who joined the hall of shame. The incident started in the 89th minute as midfielder Fabio Coentrao was fouled hard and then given a knock by 2 different Chileans while on the ground. This saw right-back Manu lash out at Christian Sepulveda who knocked Coentrao and slapped him which sent the Chilean sprawling. When the referee was attempting to send Manu off, the Portuguese began surrounding the referee and forward Zequinha audaciously took the red card from referee Mohd Salleh’s hand. In slow motion you can see the referee say “whoa” and Zequinha also saw red. Things fell apart from there as players started showing each other down and shoving. From that moment on it was a rugby match.

It was a horrible match anyway. Portugal were dead awful, unable to even get a shot on goal until the 89th minute. And that one was from 35 metres away from goal. In the first Portugal didn’t even have a shot at goal or a corner kick and even a free kick! 35% of ball possession told the story better than anything. From the games I saw, Portugal were weak in defense all tournament with a pair of relatively clueless center backs, but this game was the opposite: up from Portugal were all long ball and wayward passing, balls into an empty box and nobody really interested in making anything good happen.

It was an embarrassment not only for the player’s behavior but for the team. A performance like that: quicker forgotten the better. Looks like the injured captain Bruno Gama was more important to Portugal than anyone knew.
Here is a video of the incident:

The day before, Uruguay, well known for being sore losers in international competitions decided to have a go at the Americans after the USA’s comeback win against them. Unlike the Portuguese, Uruguay at least staked claim to a result, having played pretty well and looking for large parts of the match like winners. Frustration overcame them at the end though as players started going after each other. Have a look at the fracas:

My overall perception of the tournament so far is how fragile the mentality of the players is. While there has been some decent football, especially Spain vs Brazil, teams seem to crumble easily when their guile is tested.


Thursday, July 12, 2007

Arsenal sign Taribo West look-alike

Arsenal have signed Auxerre defender Bacary Sagna for a fee rumored to be 6m pounds. The defender looks distinctly like former Nigerian international Taribo West with his flamboyant hair braiding. The 24 year old joins Arsenal after very recently breaking into the senior French international side although has not seen playing time to get his first cap.

He’d previous been capped at the U-21 level, and has been very highly rated for both his international and club performances. Sagna plays at right-back, but can also play other defensive positions as well as midfield.

The new signing has been given the number three shirt, the number which had belonged to Ashley Cole. Sagna has featured regularly for Auxerre for the last three years and won the French Cup in 2005.

Someone will be upset if Arsene doesn’t sign a new deal:

"Arsene Wenger is a major reason why I have signed for Arsenal. He is an excellent manager with a fantastic record and I am really looking forward to working with him." -Sagna

PS: I was hoping a Gunner fan could help me. I am looking for a video of a Kanu goal from a number of years back where he scored by faking out the keeper with his body and letting the ball roll into the net untouched. I wanted to add it to my greates goals series. Does anyone recall this goal? Know when and who it was against? Know of a video of it? Would really appreciate it. Leave any info in the comments, my thanks!

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Fireworks start up at Chelsea again

After fresh off calls for unity at Chelsea from Peter Kenyon, Jose Mourinho has pointedly called for a return to infighting at the club, and I don’t blame him one bit.

The Chelsea manager has warned the new director of football Avram Grant that they have separate roles at the club and not to interfere with his work.

Mourinho was very succinct:

"He's here to give some support to different areas in the club and for me that is not a problem. From my point of view, he must not interfere with the power I have in relation to my job. I think the club was very clear in the statement they put out."

This is clearly a veiled warning to Grant and he is right. If any club in England is actively trying to break the traditional managerial role it’s Chelsea. If I were Mourinho, I certainly wouldn’t tolerate any interference. He’s the top manager in the world, why would he? He could go anywhere. He’s the kind of manager that is extremely self motivated and doesn’t need pressure or “extra” motivation to get on with his job. He also came to England because of the traditional powers of the manager.

In my opinion, Chelsea’s management keeps making mistake after mistake when it comes to relations with their manager and even players. Lampard and Terry contracts anyone?

Roman Abramovich has been the one to directly appoint Avram Grant. He seems to like to bring his friends into the club, not the best people for the job. And if you look at some of the recent appointments and purchases, you’d have to agree. Andiry, anyone?

Originally Mourinho stood up and said no to the appointment but as Grant’s role has shifted, so has Mourinho’s attitude. Officially, Grant will “liaise on and co-ordinate footballing matters across Chelsea's interests” which sounds like a job doing a lot of nothing. The ex-Israel international coach, age 51, will also hold a place on the club's board.

The new “liaison and coordinator of footballing matters across Chelsea's interests” flew out with Mourinho and the squad to America to be part of pre-season preparations. Funny, as that is what coaches do. not "liasons".


Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Portsmouth sign Preston striker (video)

Portsmouth have signed striker David Nugent from Championship side Preston North End for a 6m pound fee beating out Sunderland who also had an offer accepted

The 22 year old passed his medical at Fratton Park and signed a four year contract this morning.

Nugent joins Sylvain Distin, Hermann Hreidarsson, Sulli Muntari as Portsmouth’s summer moves.

While Nugent really wanted Everton to swoop for him, David Moyes would not table more than 4m pounds for the player.

Preston manager Paul Simpson accepted Nugent's insistence on leaving for the Premiership reluctantly and must now look for a replacement despite having strikers Brett Ormerod, Neil Mellor, Patrick Agyemang and Karl Hawley on the books. None scored as many. Preston missed out on the Championship play-offs on the final day of last season. Not a bad profit though, Preston paid 100,000 pounds in 2005 for the player.

Nugent made his England debut as a substitute against Andorra in March and scored on the occasion. He’s featured often in the junior sides.

It’s an important acquisition for Pompey as they will be without Benjani and Lua Lua for a significant part of the season as both players are planning to play in the African Cup of Nations.

Here is a video of your new man:

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12 year old Turkish wonderkid

Muhammed Demirci was almost a Barcelona player at age 12. The video below is footage from a game for his club Besiktas, where he plays on the U13 team, at age 10 playing against older kids. Thanks to my friend Rio for making me aware of this special talent.

He’s been on the news in Turkey and was also invited for a trial at PSV Eindhoven but the family chose Barcelona instead where he spent 2 weeks. Negotiations broke down and the youngster will stay in Turkey, for now.

His skills are incredible for his age, have a look:


Monday, July 09, 2007

Cash registers ring at Anfield, but for the right players?

After a very slow start to their moves in the transfer market, Liverpool have started spending (or attempting to), their latest bid being a 10m pound offer for Ajax winger Ryan Babel who has been heavily linked with Arsenal.

While Babel is considered to be highly rated by much of the football world, I would consider him highly overrated. I thought he was brilliant the first few times I saw him, but as time has gone by, he hasn’t really improved much as a player and doesn’t seem like he’ll make it in the Premiership.

Apparently Ajax are holding out for 13m+ for the 20 year old.

The 3.5m pound gap can certainly be negotiated, but I think Liverpool would be making a mistake to sign Babel. There is a reason Arsene Wenger didn’t already pull the trigger, even last season. Babel is a bit wayward and lacks a bit of killer instinct. I agree with Arsenal’s position not to pursue a transfer yet. Let Liverpool make the mistake.

With the sale of Djibril Cisse and Craig Bellamy, Liverpool have recouped much of the costs of signing Fernando Torres. There seems to more money left over, but I think clearly, while more costly, Ricardo Quaresma from FC Porto or Simao from Benfica is a better choice. More experienced, talented and a finished product, Quaresma especially has what Liverpool needs to win now. Babel, unless a surprised comes, won’t produce right away, if ever.

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Malouda a Blue today

Chelsea have finally agreed to terms with Lyon for French International Florent Malouda.

Malouda who will have a medical in London today before signing a contract.

The fee is undisclosed but Malouda but the rumoured fee is 13.5m pounds. Lyon president Jean-Michel Aulas confirmed the news a Lyon friendly with Lille last night.

Mourinho's team seems more or less set now, with Malouda joining Steve Sidwell, Claudio Pizarro and Tal Ben Haim. Once Malouda signs his contract, he will fly to Los Angeles to join the team on their pre-season tour of the United States. Chelsea will play three games including a run in with David Beckham's new club, the LA Galaxy.

27 year old Malouda says former team mate Didier Drogba was influential in bringing the deal to fruition. Drogba and Malouda were teammates at Guingamp.

Malouda plays on the left and I think will do really well at Chelsea where his low-flash, direct style suits the interests of Jose Mourinho and company. Malouda is also physically strong, something that has been lacking with Robben and Wright-Phillips on the wing.

For Lyon, yet another profit, 4.5m purchase in 2003, and 13.5 in the sale: more and more evidence of the shrewd choice of players at Lyon and the club’s quality in attracting talent.

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