Monthly Archives: September 2016

  1. Lucas Boye Moves to Torino - Deal of the Summer?

    30th September 2016. By Edward Stratmann.
    It was rather fitting Argentinian youngster Lucas Boye joined Torino. After all, his nickname El Toro (The Bull) sees him share the same nickname as his new club.

    Indeed, while this serves a great omen for both parties, it's remarkable to think that the all-action attacker actually came incredibly close to joining AS Roma prior to signing for the Maroons. Back in January, River Plate president, Rodolfo D'Onofrio, announced that Roma had agreed a deal in principle for Boye, and even took the bold step of divulging details of the deal. "Boye will go to Roma in June. We'll receive some bonuses based on the number of games he plays with the Giallorossi, plus River will get 50 per cent of any future sale," he said.

    The Roma deal subsequently fell through, however, opening the door for Torino to pounce, which

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  2. Is Real Madrid's Dependency on Cristiano Ronaldo Waning?

    28th September 2016. By Ryan Baldi.
    La Liga leaders Real Madrid were held to a 2-2 draw by Las Palmas at the weekend, as Los Blancos dropped points for the second game in a row.

    The result may have put a slight dent in their hope of claiming their first Spanish league title since 2012, but a point away to the high-flying Canary Islanders is hardly the kind of set-back that Zinedine Zidane's men will not be able to rectify with a couple of solid results back-to-back.

    But there was an incident within the game that could hint at a general longer-term shift in emphasis for the eleven-time champions of Europe.

    After 72 minutes at against Los Amarilos at the Estadio Gran Canaria, with the away side leading 2-1, Zidane substituted Cristiano Ronaldo to bring on speedy winger Lucas Vázquez.

    It may have seemed like a rather innocuous change at the time, after all, footballers are substituted all the time for myriad different reasons.

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  3. Valon Behrami Rejuvenated Under Walter Mazzarri

    26th September 2016. By Edward Stratmann.
    After putting in such an outstanding shift in Watford's stirring 3-1 victory over Manchester United from his holding midfield station, it's amazing to think that just a couple months ago Valon Behrami was seriously considering leaving the Hornets.

    Under the stewardship of the now departed Quique Sanchez Flores last season, the Swiss international endured a nightmare campaign. As the season went by his relationship with the Spanish manager deteriorated at a rapid rate, especially after his sending off against Swansea in September 2015. Feeling unwanted, untrusted and unfairly treated by Sanchez Flores, the fiery midfielder, who also had to contend with frustrating injuries, didn't even speak with his coach during the final third of the season.

    "We didn't find the way to speak to each other and

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  4. Nacer Chadli A Key Cog at West Brom for 2016/17

    23rd September 2016. By Edward Stratmann.
    Knowing he was deemed surplus to requirements at Tottenham following a disappointing 2015/2016 campaign that was heavily affected by injury, Nacer Chadli offered a simple yet well considered explanation as to why he chose to join West Bromwich Albion.

    "I had a few clubs interested but West Brom came very quickly and they showed concrete interest and wanted to make it happen," he said.

    "I thought if they really want me, it's important for me to go there and prove myself. That's why I chose West Brom."

    For Chadli, who struggled to fully convince Mauricio Pochettino of his worth throughout last season and sadly missed out on selection for Belgium's Euro 2016 squad, the move gives him a fantastic chance to recapture his 2014/2015 form, which saw him produce five assists and score an impressive 13 goals in the league.

    Judging by his excellent start to life at the Hawthorns, he's well on the way to doing just that.

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  5. Mauro Icardi Leading Internazionale's Resurrection

    21st September 2016. By Ryan Baldi.
    It was shaping up to be a difficult week for Internazionale. A stumbling start to the Serie A season, which had seen them record just one win from their opening three games, was followed up by a humiliating 2-0 defeat at home to Hapoel Beer-Sheva in the Europa League last Thursday (15 September).

    So Sunday's encounter with reigning champions Juventus at the San Siro the Derby d'Italia was a cause of trepidation among Inter fans, who would be watching the game through their fingers.

    There were even rumours that, should the Nerazzurri fail to beat the Old Lady, Frank de Boer would be facing the sack, little more than a month after taking over from Roberto Mancini in charge of the eighteen-time champions of Italy.

    But Inter came up trumps, producing a stellar performance to beat Juventus 2-1. De Boer, with his cast of summer signings, struck the perfect balance between potent attack and resolute defence; the home side

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  6. Talented Midfielder Marcos Llorente Shines in La Liga

    19th September 2016. By Edward Stratmann.
    Despite impressing his manager, Zinedine Zidane, on Real Madrid's preseason tour of North America, Los Blancos believed sending their talented midfielder, Marcos Llorente, out on loan would be the best option for his development.

    Although Llorente's preference was to remain in Madrid, which made sense, for he would have served as an ideal backup to Casemiro, the club still believed getting a full season of first-team action elsewhere was the right decision to make.

    Coming to the realisation minutes would have been scarce had he stayed, the search began to find him a club that would guarantee him vital playing time for the 2016/2017 campaign. A perfect fit subsequently arrived in the form of newly promoted Deportivo Alaves, and Llorente hasn't looked back, as he's been outstanding since joining El Glorioso.

    The fact former Valencia player, Mauricio Pellegrino, is Alaves' manager, a man Zidane knows well having played

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  7. Roberto Firmino Proving His Worth at Liverpool

    16th September 2016. By Edward Stratmann.
    Without question, the outstanding form of Roberto Firmino has been one of the most positive aspects of Liverpool's encouraging start to the season.

    After signing from Hoffenheim in a deal worth a sizeable £29 million, the Brazilian endured a mixed 2015/2016 campaign. While he produced glimpses of his overwhelmingly talent, with his masterclass vs Manchester City a real highlight, these magical moments had to be tempered with some equally underwhelming displays.

    Overall, though, taking into account it was his first season in the Premier League and all the challenges that come with adapting to life at a new club, his 10 goals and seven assists was a solid return.

    Working under the expert tutelage of Jurgen Klopp for almost a year, it looks as though Firmino has really turned the corner now. The 24-year-old's found that all important consistency, something that was sorely missing last season, as he's been fantastic in

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  8. Mario Balotelli: Rebuilding in Ligue 1

    14th September 2016. By Ryan Baldi.
    To many observers, joining Nice may have been seen as a step down in the career of Mario Balotelli. After all, the list of clubs on the Italian striker's CV is an impressive one; Internazionale, Manchester City, AC Milan and Liverpool are all teams associated with the top end of their respective leagues, and all regulars on the European stage.

    Nice, whose four Ligue 1 championships are all more than 50 years in the past, don't have the history of the Milanese giants or Liverpool, and haven't experienced anything like the recent success of City. But the Côte d'Azur club might be the perfect place for Balotelli to get his career back on track.

    In fact, just last year, Hatem Ben Arfa found himself in a similar predicament to the Italian international. Released by Newcastle after a disastrous couple of seasons in the Premier League, including a disappointing loan spell at Hull City, Ben Arfa's stock was at an all-time low.

    As a

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  9. Idrissa Gueye and Everton: A Match Made in Heaven?

    12th September 2016. By Edward Stratmann.
    Everton's astute signing of Idrissa Gueye from Aston Villa for just £7.1 million, having activated his release clause, has undoubtedly been one of the signings of the season so far.

    Although Aston Villa suffered the indignity of relegation, Gueye emerged as one of the Claret and Blue Army's shining lights in their season of darkness, with his reputation well and truly in tact. Joining Everton certainly served as a brilliant reward for all his tireless, battling work for Villa.

    By the numbers, the former Lille man was exceptional last term. He successfully completed 4.1 tackles per game and a vital four interceptions pg, which remarkably placed him second in the league behind only N'Golo Kante in both metrics (as per Whoscored). Moreover, the fact he won over 53% of his aerial duels, completed 1869 passes at an impressive 85.6% completion rate and ran over 10kms a game suitably amplified his tremendous contribution.


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  10. Roberto Pereyra the Exciting New Signing for Watford

    9th September 2016. By Edward Stratmann.
    Watford's exciting new signing from Juventus, Roberto Pereyra, didn't waste anytime in announcing himself to the Vicarage Road faithful.

    Having come on at half time with Walter Mazzarri's men 3-0 down against Arsenal, the Argentine injected a great degree of energy and dynamism into his team's play. And the all-action midfielder rewarded his electric start fittingly by scoring an instinctive, well taken goal with his left foot in the 58th minute.

    At the time, it looked as though this moment of magic might inspire Watford to generate a comeback, but it wasn't to be. Nonetheless, there was still plenty to like about the 25-year-old's 45 minute cameo on debut for the Hornets, in a match where he showcased so many of his qualities.

    Aside from the aforementioned, his intelligent movement saw him identify openings

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