Chelsea’s Patience With Torres Is Wearing Thin

20 11 2012

Questions were asked when Chelsea decided to invest £50m in Fernando Torres. Yes he was a proven goalscorer, but he looked on the decline. Injuries had hampered his latter years at Liverpool, where he appeared as if he had lost a yard of pace. At his best, Torres was unstoppable; just ask Nemanja Vidic who he frequently tormented. A striker who would roam around the pitch, play on the last defender or cut in from out wide, and score goals with aplomb. In his first season alone he scored 33 goals and quashed the adage of foreigners needing time to adjust to the Premier League. Yet this seemed a signing from the owner Roman Abramovich, akin to when he invested £30m for Andriy Shevchenko four years previously who also looked a shadow of the player he once was.

Averaging a goal every four and a half games since his transfer down south, Torres seemed to have the role as no.9 nailed on this season, aided with the departure of Didier Drogba and Romelu Lukaku’s loan to West Brom. The club have supported him continually and suspension has been the only obstacle preventing him being involved in every game. However being relegated to the bench for the must win clash in Turin against Juventus has fuelled the rumour-mill once more that The Blues will be back in for a forward come January. With Daniel Sturridge the only serious competition for his position (despite being more effective on the right), Torres seems to have another six weeks to convince he still has the quality to lead the frontline for the European Champions.

The demise of Torres coincided with his injuries and the burden of such an overbearing transfer fee. Pressure was immediately upon him and at times during his spell in London it has seemed he has tried too hard. Bereft of confidence in front of goal, Torres has almost become a defensive forward at times, putting in a shift but not providing the goals. His overall game is arguably as strong as it was when at Anfield, but once he gets in a shooting position he lacks that predatory instinct which made him so prolific. Belief in him waned towards the end of the last campaign and Drogba got the nod in the Champions League and FA Cup finals.

Torres’s Position Is Under Threat

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Alejandro Grimaldo – The Latest Spanish Gem

24 05 2012

La Masia churns out talented individuals on an annual basis, but there is a sense of eagerness when the name Alejandro Grimaldo crops up in Catalonia. The left-back spot has not been a particular position of strength for the Cantera over the past decade, with players like Carles Planas, Oscar Lopez and even Fernando Navarro – despite enjoying remote success once leaving – failing to establish themselves amongst the senior ranks. Since Sergi Barjuán broke through at the start of the 1990’s, the Nou Camp has not had anyone to get excited about down the left flank, with Marc Muniesa being the most recent canterano, but he has a preference to play centrally. Despite this, the emergence of Grimaldo gives Culés hope that they have identified the left-sided Dani Alves.

Grimaldo was signed as a 13-year-old from Valencia in 2008, where he played for Los Che as a left winger wearing the number 10 shirt. His progression has been rapid and he is part of a select group of superstars who are progressing at Barcelona at the moment. Some of his teammates over the past few years have included current Arsenal pair Jon Toral and Hector Bellerin as well as Juventus defender Pol Garcia. The ‘1995 generation’ has swept everything before them at ‘Juvenil’ level including the Nike Premier Cup in Manchester.

Alejandro Grimaldo – The Latest Gem At La Masia

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Decision Time For Alex Chamberlain

9 05 2011

With the Premier League implementing new rules at the start of the season, clubs are now permitted to have at least eight ‘home-grown’ players in their squads. The hope is that it will encourage teams to nurture more English talent through into the senior squads.

The top clubs are always on the prowl for young talent. With the reward of watching players develop into stars and being a cheaper alternative in the inflated transfer market, the likes of Sir Alex Ferguson and Arsene Wenger have become notorious for this modus operandi.

The latest prospect on everyone’s lips is playing down at Southampton. With the recent success of Theo Walcott and especially Gareth Bale in North London since their moves, and Premier League legends like Matt Le Tissier and Alan Shearer being produced by the South Coast side, there is now an element of expectation when the Saints promote a new youngster to the first team. In Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, it looks like they have a new prodigy to add to the list.

Alex Chamberlain Is Attracting Interest From Premier League Sides

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Barcelona Prepare For The New Season In The Perfect Manner

21 10 2010

Last Saturday Lionel Messi scored a hat-trick as Barça recovered from their first leg loss to defeat Sevilla in the Spanish Super Cup. New signings David Villa and Adriano won their first trophy and made their home debuts at the Camp Nou, in a match that showed the Catalans are ready to defend their La Liga crown, starting their defence this Sunday against Racing Santander. The victory was the ninth time that Barcelona have won the Cup, meaning they are now the record winners.

Since then the news around the city has been of transfer talk. Liverpool want-away midfielder Javier Mascherano has been the subject of discussion, but the clubs are still far from agreeing on a price. Rumours of an £18 million bid plus a player in exchange, probably Alexander Hleb, was reportedly rejected by The Reds, who are holding out for £25 million. Owner Sandro Rosell has worked hard since he took over the club to sign a high-profile player, but deals for the likes of Cesc Fabregas and Mesut Ozil have broken down with manager Pep Guardiola having faith in his players from the canteria. If Mascherano was to join, it might highlight the doubts over Andres Iniesta’s ability to remain fit for the season. It would allow Sergio Busquets to adventure forward, although fans are doubtful over why they need to sign a player of Mascherano calibre, which would restrict Busquet’s role in the team when everyone is fit.

Ronaldinho Joins In The Celebrations

Ronaldinho Joins In The Celebrations

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Manchester United Player Focus – Antonio Valencia

16 09 2010

On Tuesday evening Manchester United opened their Champions League campaign with a 0-0 draw against Scottish side Rangers. There were a few talking points, firstly how Coach Sir Alex Ferguson rotated with his squad and made 10 changes to the line-up from the Everton game, bringing up accusations of arrogance and where his priorities lie – with a Premier League clash against rivals Liverpool on Saturday. Secondly how Rangers performed marvellously to frustrate and stifle United with a disciplined defensive performance, which the Red Devils are used to from travelling teams. Questions arose as to how good this squad really is and how they did not have somebody to unlock the tight knitted defence. Unfortunately the headline was not one people will have comfort in seeing.

Luis Antonio Valencia caught his foot in the turf while under-pressure from Kirk Broadfoot and dislocated his ankle, an injury which is likely to rule him out for the remainder of the season. It evokes sour memories for United fans, as only four years ago Alan Smith picked up the same injury when blocking a shot from Liverpool full-back John Arne Riise. The worry is not if he will recovery from the injury physically – thankfully medical advances in football mean the chances are he will recover – it is that recovery from such an injury is fraught with psychological implications. Since his setback Smith has moved on to Newcastle United, but it is fair to say he is not the same player he was pre-misfortune. He is not alone in that.

Valencia Has Made An Impact At Old Trafford

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Why Mascherano Wouldn’t Be A Good Signing For Barcelona

13 08 2010

After losing such a prized asset in Yaya Toure to Manchester City this summer, the defensive midfield position is lacking depth at the Nou Camp, and after rumours of Marcos Senna were brushed aside, it seems that Javier Mascherano will be the man the club will bring in. The reported deal is a transfer fee of £15 million plus Alexander Hleb in exchange. Now in principle that seems like a brilliant move, losing a player who is bad for the squad harmony and signing one of the best defensive midfielders in the game, however the move would bring more cons than pros.

The reason Toure left was not for his lack of love for the club, but lack of minutes. He had lost his place to Sergio Busquets, who is something of a fan favourite. Busquets is a different holding player than most; he is not a tough, physical warrior who will only smash the opponents off the ball. He is more tactically aware; he sweeps up the mess in front of his defence then passes it to players who are more capable such as Xavi or Andreas Iniesta. He is one of those players who does not stand out, and had drawn a lot of criticism that he was not that good. But he was one of Spain’s best players in the World Cup and has only enhanced his stature in Catalonia. Mascherano would be a similar player to Toure, and while he is not incapable of passing, it is not one of his strongest attributes.

Too Good A Player For Barca?

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What Was The Motive For Joe Cole Joining Liverpool?

19 07 2010

One of the most talented players to be developed in this country over the past 15 years has finally ended the transfer riddle of the summer, by agreeing a four-year contract with Liverpool. The fans at Anfield will be buoyant over a signing who has that magical spark, the ability to create something out of nothing, with the only other England player capable of that genius ability being an Evertonian in Wayne Rooney. But the choice of Joe Cole’s move to Merseyside will leave people questioning the player’s ambition to join a team competing in next seasons Europa League. Why reject the opportunity to play in the Champions League?

After a torrid season last time around Liverpool went from one step forward to about five steps back, from runners-up in 08/09 to an appalling seventh place. Roy Hodgson, who did a remarkable job in his tenure at Fulham, has been given the task of resurrecting a ship which has been off target since the Premier League was constructed. On paper the signing of Joe Cole to replace Yossi Benayoun makes sense. Firstly he is English, which helps with the regulations in England and Europe with a minimum amount of National players needing to be in the squads. He is arguably more gifted than Benayoun and there is also the fact he is a marquee signing. Somebody who will ensure Hodgson has accumulated invaluable brownie points from the Kop.

Can The Move Resurrect Joe Coles Career?

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