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Sep 102013

Brian Sanders, Adam Uthe, and Sean Maslin review the Champions League Group stage draw picking out the winners and losers

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Sep 062013
Italia weekly 2013-14 logo

Brian Sanders and Vincent La Rosa look at the Italian game after two weeks of Serie A, the Azzurri’s two World Cup Qualifiers, the close of the transfer window, and the groups for Italian teams in the Champions League and Europa League

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Sep 052013

Obviously we all know about the big names, but you’d be surprised just how many good players completed transfers in the shadows of Gareth Bale and Mesut Özil.

Gareth Bale

The Welsh superstar completed his much talked about move from Tottenham to Real Madrid for a world record fee that comes out to approximately $132 million.

Mesut Özil

After spending all summer missing out on new signings, Arsenal’s Arsene Wenger landed perhaps the world’s most creative midfielder for a reported £42.5 ($66.25 million) transfer fee.


In an effort to fund their purchase of Gareth Bale, Real Madrid sold Brazilian midfielder Kaka back to Milan after purchasing him from the Serie A giants in 2009. He signs a two year deal with Milan.

Kevin Prince Boateng

The German international returns to the Bundesliga after completing a four year move from Milan to Schalke 04.

Samuel Eto’o

The Cameroon international is reunited with his former manager Jose Mourinho after signing a new one year deal with Chelsea from Russian side Anzhi Makhachakala.

Alessandro Matri

The Juventus forward completed a transfer to Milan and signed a four year deal.

Adem Ljajic

The Serbian forward completed a four year move from Fiorentina to Roma for a reported €11 million ($14.4 million) transfer fee.

Erik Lamela

And speaking of Roma, they sold the Argentinian winger to Tottenham for a reported €30 million ($39.9 million) transfer fee.

Christian Eriksen

Indeed, Spurs were incredibly busy this summer. They bought Ajax/Danish playmaker Christian Eriksen for a reported £11.5 million ($17.9 million) transfer fee.

Marouane Fellaini

The Belgian international turned out to be the only significant summer signing for new Manchester United manager David Moyes. Fellaini previously played for Moyes at Everton.

Geoffrey Kondogbia

The Sevilla defender joins Monaco for a reported €20 million ($26.2 million) fee and signs a five year deal with the Ligue 1 side.

Alessandro Diamanti

He’s not actually going anywhere, but Bologna made a huge splash signing him to a new five year extension.

Andrea Dossena

The veteran center back from Napoli completed a one year move to Sunderland in the English Premier League. He previously spent part of his career in England with Liverpool.

Romelu Lukaku

The Chelsea striker goes out on loan for the second year in a row. He joins Everton for the upcoming season.

Toby Alderweireld

The Dutch defender completed a permanent move from Ajax to Atletico Madrid.

Florian Thauvin

The French starlet was purchased by Lille from Bastia in January, loaned back to Bastia for the remainder of the season, and has now been sold to Marseille without having ever played a match for Lille. Thauvin factored in the French U-20 side that won the FIFA U-20 World Cup this summer.

Josua Guilavogui

The Saint Etienne midfielder completes a €10 million ($13 million) move to Atletico Madrid.

Ezequiel Schelotto

The 24 year old Inter midfielder joins Sassulo on loan for the upcoming season.

Jaroslav Plasil

The veteran Bordeaux/Czech Republic midfielder joins Catania on loan for the rest of the Serie A season.

Christian Atsu

The Ghana international was purchased by Chelsea from FC Porto and then subsequently loaned to Vitesse in the Netherlands.

Duvan Zapata

In an effort to replace the production of departed striker Edinson Cavani, Napoli signed former Estudiantes striker Duvan Zapata.

Mamadou Sakho

The former Paris-Saint Germain center back has completed a permanent move to Liverpool.

Tiago Ilori

The 20 year old Sporting Lisbon center back has also completed a move to Anfield.


The highly rated Portugal winger completed a €10 million ($13 million) move from Sporting Lisbon to Galatasaray.

Makoto Hasebe

The Japanese international completed a permanent move from Wolfsburg to Nurnberg.

Libor Kozak

The leading scorer in last year’s Europa League competition has completed a move from Lazio to Aston Villa.

Vlad Chiriches

The Romanian center back moves from Steaua Bucharest to Tottenham.

Emiliano Viviano

The Palermo goalkeeper joins Arsenal on loan for the entire season.

Marko Arnautovic

The Werder Bremen forward completed a permanent move to Stoke City.

Teemu Pukki

The Finland international completed a four year move from Schalke 04 to Celtic.

Alvaro Vasquez

The Getafe center forward joins Swansea on loan for the entire season.

James McCarthy

The former Wigan winger is reunited with Roberto Martinez as he completes a £13 million ($20 million) move to Everton.

Gareth Barry

The Manchester City holding midfielder joins Everton on loan for the entire season.

Fabio Borini

The Liverpool striker joins Sunderland on loan for the 2013-14 season.

Oussamma Assaidi

Assaidi also departs Anfield on loan and will suit up for Stoke City this season.

Angelo Henriquez

And last, but not least, Manchester United’s young striker joins Real Zaragoza on loan for the season.


Until next time!



Sep 052013

Fifa World Cup 2014 Brazil 269x300 World Cup Qualifying Preview Weekend Edition


After a weekend of thrilling matches and league-changing transfers, the good people at FIFA have decided to plug in two World Cup Qualifying matches and international friendlies. Although I do not want to get on a tangent, doesn’t this feel like a weird time to have World Cup Qualifiers? The club season is starting for the European clubs and the Central and South American clubs, Major League Soccer is entering its playoff stretch, and even the prominent Asian league teams are just starting. Although I know time is fleeting during the summer to complete these matches, perhaps if FIFA is looking into changing the 2022 World Cup from summer to winter when they schedule these matches should also be looked into. Just a thought.

That being said, there are plenty of intriguing matches to watch on Friday. So far only 5 teams have qualified for next year’s World Cup (Australia, Brazil, Iran, Japan, and South Korea) and very few clubs have been eliminated… One of the great things about the explosion soccer on television is that many of these matches are readily available to watch on the television dial or on your computer. So here are the matches to watch out for (Please note: The matches listed are only a few of the games that will be played this weekend. Also, I did not include England versus Moldova because England should crush them and that does not seem terribly interesting. If you are interested in any other matches, check out the Washington Post weekend soccer guide icon smile World Cup Qualifying Preview Weekend Edition


Matches You Will Most Likely Be Watching


U.S.A. v Costa Rica (10pm beIN Sport)

I almost put this match in the “Matches You Will Want to Scour the Internet For” since it is being played on beIN SPORT, an upstart sports channel that is funded by the al Jazeera television network. I have very limited experience with beIN SPORT, but from the few times that I have watched over “legal” feeds it reminds me a lot of Fox Soccer Channel when it first started. Pretty low-tech coverage, but their announcers were very good for the Jamaica match in June. And yes for those are wondering Former U.S. Men’s National Team player and current beIN SPORT commentator Cobi Jones still has dreadlocks.

The United States comes into this match with no pressure at all. Having won their past twelve matches in all competitions, including 3 of their past 4 CONCACAF Qualifying, they do not need to necessarily win this match. The U.S. has not won in its past 7 matches in Costa Rica and will face a team that is still angry at the snowmageddon match in February, where the United States beat Costa Rica in Colorado. With 13 points already and an easy win coming up next month at home to Jamaica, all the United States needs to do is get 1-3 points in the next two matches to qualify for Brazil.

For Costa Rica, three points would put them in the same position that the United States currently sits in: they would not qualify, but they would essentially be a lock. The Tica’s do not have another easy match in qualifying with two road matches with Jamaica and Honduras, and a match at home with Mexico so a point with the U.S. is essential.  The player to watch out for in this match is Alvaro Saborio. The Real Salt Lake midfielder has been in top form in MLS recently and should pick apart the shaky U.S. backline.


Mexico v Honduras (8pm ESPNNews)

There are very few matches during this international date that will matter more than Mexico-Honduras. Both teams are fighting for the third and fourth spots in CONCACAF. With Mexico leading Honduras by two points, it would appear that they are the odds-on favorite to advance (4th place goes into a two-game playoff with New Zealand, who won the Oceania Football Confederation tournament.) This Honduras team is also loaded with European club players like Defender Maynor Figueroa (Hull City,) Midfielders Andy Najar (Anderlecht Roger Espinoza (Wigan,) and Wilson Palacios (Stoke City.) Throughout this competition, the smaller countries in CONCACAF have shown how much they have improved both tactically and their skill level. Honduras has taken their experiences both at the 2010 World Cup and the 2012 Olympics and developed a solid defense who can deliver decisive blows on the counter-attack. This is a very dangerous team.

The other reason why this match is important is that it may be the last match for Mexico head coach Jose de la Torre. Mexico has not been playing well in the past few games, going winless at the Estadio Azteca  (the home of the Mexican National Team) in this round of qualifying, not advancing through the Group Stage of the Confederations Cup, and bottoming out of the Gold Cup in the semi-finals to Panama. While Javier Hernandez has looked very good, the rest of their team has been disorganized with sloppy possession on the attack and poor challenges on defense. In particular, Midfielder Giovanni dos Santos has been a disappointment. While they did just pull off a 4-1 victory over the Ivory Coast last month in a friendly, it does not erase the flaws of this team. We may see another upset on Friday night

Uruguay v Peru (10:30 PM, beIN Sport Spanish)

Simply put, this is it for Uruguay. A team who came within a whisker of the 2010 World Cup Final has looked generally pretty poor this time, getting beaten by Bolivia 5-1 in La Paz Bolivia and drawing to Paraguay at home. With three matches coming up against Argentina, Colombia, and Ecuador, they need to demolish Peru in this match if they have any hope of either Qualifying for the final spot in the CONMEBOL Confederation (the Confederation that represents South America,) or to making it into a two-game playoff with the winner of the Asian playoff.

A quick note on the Peruvian team: if you are a Major League Soccer, or in particular a fan of F.C. Dallas, make sure to check out Peruvian Goalkeeper Raul Fernandez. Having watched him all season for F.C. Dallas I can tell that he is certainly on form and will make it difficult for Uruguay. Peru, while technically still in the running for fourth and fifth place, is looking to build off of this performance and further enhance their fledgling program. The Incas finished third in the 2011 Copa America, and have had some pretty impressive victories during this round of World Cup Qualification, beating Chile twice and Ecuador at home. However, they still have two matches on the road against Argentina and Venezuela which are no easy tasks. If they can get points off of this match and at home against Bolivia on the 15th of October, they might just make the playoff spot.


Games Worth Taking a Long Lunchbreak/Happy Hour For On Friday


Italy v Bulgaria (5PM, Univision Deportes)

Italy could secure themselves a spot in Brazil if they can defeat the Lions of Bulgaria. This should be a high scoring match; the two clubs have combined for 23 goals in Group B during qualifying. In their first match, a 2-2 draw in September of last year, the Bulgarians proved to be a very difficult opponent for Italy, breaking down a normally stout Italian defense for two quality goals from Stanoslav Manolev (PSV Eindhoven,) and Georgi Milanov (CSKA Moscow.) Although Bulgaria plays a very tough defensive style, they have always been known for developing skillful midfielders and attackers. The player to watch out for in this match is Ivelin Popov the captain who plays club football for Kuban Krasnodor in the Russian Premier League. He is a highly skilled attacking midfielder who can cut through defenses with precise, accurate passes and can make his own shot off of crosses.

Nonetheless, the Italians should be able to match any Bulgarian attack with their own set of quality strikers. With a club that features the likes of Andrea Pirlo, Daniele De Rossi, and Mario Balotelli you should expect a team that can score goals with relative ease. Balotelli seems to finally have found his rhythm with the Azzuri, scoring three goals in World Cup Qualifying and 5 goals in all competitions this year. And of course, they have the legendary Gigi Buffon in goal, which put on one of the best performances I have ever seen in the FIFA Confederations Cup this past summer. This is one of the most talented teams in international soccer right now and they should qualify for Brazil within the next two matches.

Croatia v Serbia (2:45 ESPN3)

This match is not for the faint of heart. While many World Cup Qualifying matches feature teams that have very little history with one another, this match is nothing but history. For those of you that do not remember your World History: both Serbia and Croatia were originally a part of the country formerly known as Yugoslavia. In the early 1990’s Yugoslavia broke up and violent conflicts between the different ethnic groups (Bosnians, Croats, Serbs, and eventually Kosovars) started up. Although tensions in the Balkans have lessened, these ethnic groups still do not get along on the soccer pitch. Matches are routinely abandoned and riots are very common. The first leg of this match, a 2-0 victory for Croatia in Zagreb, was actually quite peaceful. But with this match being played in Belgrade, the capital of Serbia things may be different.

Instead of worrying about their history, Serbia should be focused on the plight of their current squad. To say that their current form has been disappointing is an understatement. Having lost to Macedonia and been drubbed 5-0 at home to Belgium, Serbia cannot qualify directly for the World Cup and must run the table with their last three matches to have any hope of making it to Brazil. The Serbs are currently 9 points behind Croatia for the second spot in Group A, with matches coming against Macedonia and Wales. Croatia still has to play Belgium at home and Scotland on the road which is why Serbia still has a chance to make it to the playoffs. But first they will have to beat Croatia.

The club will be playing a mostly young squad with only two players over the age of 30 on the squad (Goalkeeper Vladimir Stojkovic and Defender Milan Bisevac.) The Serbian defense should provide quite the challenge for. Defenders Branislav Ivanovic, Aleksandr Kolarov, Matija Nastasic, and Neven Subotic all feature regularly for Chelsea, Manchester City, and Borussia Dortmund.  Croatia will need their attacking duo of Eduardo da Silva and Mario Mandzukic, who 2 goals each during Qualifying, to step up and help bury their rivals.


Sweden v Republic of Ireland (2:45PM GolTV)

Germany v Austria (2:40PM Univision, ESPN3)

With all due respect to the Faroe Islands and Kazakhstan, Qualification in Group C has always been a four horse race. While one would assume that Germany would be leading the pack by a wide margin, the other three contenders (Austria, The Republic of Ireland, and Sweden) have all proven to be difficult opponents for the Germans. Sweden in particular, gave the Germans fits on defense in the 4-4 draw in Munich. With Germany leading the group with 16 points, and the other three teams tied with 11, the Germans could essentially win the group by beating Austria on Friday. The Germans still have an automatic three points against the Faroe Islands coming up and will have the Republic of Ireland at home in October.

Out of the other three teams vying for the second-place playoff berth, the Irish have the most difficult road ahead. Although they are tied with Sweden and Austria on points they are behind in goal differential by 2 (Sweden) and 8 (Austria) goals respectively. They also do not have any more matches against the Faroe Islands and will need to beat Sweden at home on Friday and get points on the road at either Austria or Germany. The 6-1 clobbering that the Republic of Ireland received at the hands of Germany and their 2-2 draw at home to Austria have nearly killed their World Cup campaign.

I have been really impressed with the work that Austria has put on during their last few matches. A team that seemed like it bottomed out during the 2012 European Championship Qualifiers, they have come back to life during this campaign, defeating Sweden and nearly getting a result from Germany. Their team has been led by Bayern Munich striker David Alaba, who has scored 4 goals in the tournament, including a critical goal that allowed them to get a result in Dublin against Ireland. If Austria can either get a result, or keep the game within reason, against Germany then they can set themselves up to make a run for either first or second place in the group.


Match Worth Scouring the Internet For


Jordan v Uzbekistan (Noon This is on a channel called One World Sports. I have no idea what that is, and chances 99% of Americans do not have it.)

I nearly chose the Ghana vs Zambia World Cup Qualifier but I am not even sure if that is being televised in Africa, let alone a feed from a T.V. Channel in some distant country. Which is a real shame because both Ghana and Zambia are very good teams. Having watched plenty of African football during the African Cup of Nations, I hope that more of their matches will be covered in the future.

The match between Jordan and Uzbekistan is interesting because the winner will play the fifth-place team CONMEBOL, which will in all likelihood be Uruguay or Venezuela. While one would think that the Asian teams would be at a disadvantage that is not always the case. Often with different styles and time and temperature changes you get interesting results like Australia defeating Uruguay to advance to the 2006 World Cup or Costa Rica nearly defeating Uruguay to enter the 2010 World Cup. So this match between Jordan and Uzbekistan is an important match for both sides. Neither side has ever made it this far in World Cup Qualifying so it would be huge for either country to advance on with the tournament.

Both teams have had their moments during qualifying. Jordan had some very impressive victories at home against Australia and Japan. It is off of those two victories, and defeating Oman in the final match, that the club found themselves in this position. Their defense has been very poor all tournament, allowing in 16 goals and only scoring 7. In particular, the 6-0 defeat at the hands of Japan stands out as their worst performance.

Unlike Jordan, Uzbekistan features one of the best defenses in all of Asia. Having only allowed in 6 goals all tournament, they were able to secure this playoff match by defeating Iran 1-0 in Tehran and managing to lose only 1-0 to South Korea in Seoul. For minnows like Uzbekistan it is critical to minimize the damage when they go on the road so that goal differential does not become a factor.  Their top player is Captain Server Djerperov, who plays in the South Korean domestic league with Seongnam Ilhwa Chunma. Djerperov was instrumental in the victory over Iran, setting up Forward Ulugbek Bakayev for the winning goal.


Wait, This Match Is Actually Happening?

Belarus versus Kyrgyzstan (Internet)

One of the funny things that happen during international match days is that inevitably there are a few teams that will be left out of the World Cup Qualifying fun. It is during this illustrious time period that we, the soccer fans, get Canada versus Mauritania, Japan versus Guatemala, and this gem of a match. In one corner, you have Kyrgyzstan ranked 135th in the world whose World Cup dreams ended in 2011 after having been thrashed 7-0 in two matches against the aforementioned Uzbekistan. There are a couple of players that play in the lower levels of Ukrainian football, but for the most part all of their players play in the Kyrgyzstani league.

While Kyrgyzstan may be out of World Cup Qualifying, Belarus is still in the heat of it. And by the heat of it I mean trying to avoid catastrophe against France and Spain in Group H. While they did secure a victory against the mighty Georgia and a draw against Finland, France and Spain have crushed Belarus to the tune of 7-1 in two matches. With two matches coming up against France and Spain, I am not really sure what insight Belarus will get from playing the likes of Kyrgyzstan. Perhaps a morale boost is needed before they get thrashed by two of the best teams in the world.



Sep 032013

On the Transfer Debacle
fellaini marouane david moyes manchester united signing transfer carrington 2997534 United Endure Humiliating Weekend.I won’t belabor this and jump on the bandwagon that’s already piling on David Moyes. After signing only Marouane Fellaini for way more than original estimates said he was worth, United seem to have perfidiously gone about sticking it to their fans. Clearly there’s something more at stake than money and legal paperwork when a multitude of things have gone wrong in the so-called pursuit of Tiago Alcantara, Cesc Fabregas, Ander Herrera, Wesley Sneider, Daniele De Rossi, Sami Khedira, Leighton Baines, Luke Shaw and Mehsut Ozil. Players may indeed be pieces of meat in the eyes of so many agents, owners and managers, but there is already a kind of in-crowd protocol that Messrs. Moyes and Woodward are clearly clueless about. The Glazers were wise enough to leave well alone when Sir Alex Ferguson was running the club. As he was personally responsible for so many of the machinations that allowed the Glazers to step in and make a leveraged purchase, the Gaffer was a good soldier, espousing Knoxian rhetoric about “value in the marketplace” as long as they let him have a little money now and again for players like Berbatov, Van Persie and Kagawa.

An extraordinary man-manager and the last of a breed–along with Arséne Wenger at Arsenal–who was trusted by ownership, Ferguson was a beloved buffer between a bewildered fan base who really wanted to believe the cockamamie fodder he fed them about having the last word in transfers and our being the kind of mortal zombie fans who support Arsenal and other clubs who simply don’t give a shit what they think. None of it matters now, anyway. Clearly the money is there to spend on for someone like Cristiano Ronaldo, who will pay back whatever the club forks out for him back in merchandizing spades. Even the likes of Gareth Bale or Radomel Falcao would work for the gluttonous Glazers. Unfortunately, shopping for perceived ‘water carriers’ and prospects seems beyond the scope of Moyes and Woodward.

To be fair to Woodward–a man who has the kind of Mad Men flair that the Glazers can understand and has shown the ability to raise hundreds of millions in sponsorship money–he seems to have been thrown into the deep-end in rooms full of the kind of capricious oligarchs who inherit oil kingdoms, trust funds and laundered money and their lawyers. Woodward’s bargaining mentality, honed and sharpened in boardrooms, but still schooled in a world of old-fashioned bargaining that’s been going on in the Armenian carpet bazaar since the time of Genghis Khan, is out of his league when dealing with the modern football club. In Spain, for example, where clubs were confiscated after the civil war and their ownership given as prizes to amigos who were fellow soldiers or supporters by the dictator Generalisimo Francisco Franco, American-style buy low/sell high rules do not necessarily rule the football marketplace. Team lawyers expect suitcases full of laundered oil cash and drug money. Players are more often owned in percentages, not just by clubs who only nominally have their contracts, but also Russian and Colombian gangsters. It’s complicated. Whatever secrets the Gaffer is privy to, he has yet to pass them on to Moyes and company.

Depending on who you believe, United’s credibility has now been smashed into a million pieces. This may be so, but Juventus, for example, and now Monaco have survived far worse. Woodward would probably be fired by most clubs, but as he makes money for his friends (The American golden rule–see The Godfather), I’m sure he won’t. Next time Mr. Woodwood, you need to do your homework properly. Personally, I like Ander Herrera as a player and admire him for keeping his trap shut. Perhaps he’ll still go for it if we try again in January.

As for Marouane ‘Bogbrush’ Fellaini. It warms the cockles of my heart when a player really really wants to play for us, as was also the case with Robin Van Persie. He may be a bit slow, but he’s a gamer with a pair of elephant cojönes who likes contact, can score goals and will protect our sometimes awesome, but positively gutless, Michael Carrick. He’s brave and hard, and, although we let ourselves be suckered into paying 28m quid for him, will prove well worth the investment.

Liverpool 1-0 Manchester United
Liverpool v Manchester Un 006 United Endure Humiliating Weekend.It was right out of the Ferguson textbook. “I could see why we were champions today,” Manchester United’s new manager David Moyes said while his head panned the room like a Gorbals thug looking for a wee bit of aggro. “I thought we played really well.”

Right you are, Davey! Better in spades than putting four past Swansea on the opening weekend. Of course, he insisted upon being “more than happy” with the state of the squad. Indeed, should any dealings fail to happen at the close of the transfer window on Monday night he reassured the gathered Fleet Street Sports mavens. “After that performance, I wouldn’t be worried,” he said. “I thought we were really good today.”

“Pull t’other one,” my Gran used to say. “It’s got bells on it!”

Sure, the Gaffer always got dead prickly after a mediocre team performance, but Davey doesn’t own the moxy or luck to be able to run his mouth so contemptuously. Well, not yet. Even though they were clearly the far superior team in the second half, United lost because their central midfield is non-existent. This has been more or less the case since Roy Keane retired and the Champions Cup win of 2007-08 looks, in retrospective, like the Gaffer’s masterpiece, the finest job of papering over the cracks since Chamberlain announced ‘Peace in our time!”

Beyond the frustration United fans feel over the club’s dithering in the transfer market was the gobsmackingly nonchalant, vanilla display of pride in their own mediocrity shown by a gutless Michael Carrick and a painfully overmatched Tom Cleverley in central midfield. Indeed, although a different perspective might say that Carrick’s lack of physical courage may well be solved as a team problem if an enforcer-type player like Marouane Fellaini is signed from Everton to serve and protect him, there is no such hope for Cleverley. Inept in every way, devoid of courage and energy, he is just what the likes of Glasgow Rangers need in their bid to return to the SPL, but is not a Manchester United player.

Soccer Barclays Premier 002 United Endure Humiliating Weekend.All is not lost, however. Liverpool were driven on the day. Led by a ruthless, hatchet-faced Steven Gerrard in a way he never has for England, the red scouters were were completely amped up, especially in the first half, quicker to the ball and crunchingly harder in the tackle. Simply put, this fixture meant much more to them because they genuinely hate Us and Our relentless success over them for years.. Over the first 45 minutes, they attacked United relentlessly to which our only recourse was to simulate injury and repeatedly appeal to a disinterested Neville Marriner, who seemed to mistake them for Arsenal or Spurs or Chelsea. Yes, we were better in the second half, but when your two best performers are a knackered old Ryan Giggs and a pumped up Nan, you have no ammunition. Indeed, Nani, who seemed totally delirious just to actually be on the pitch, was so completely pumped up that he blasted a beautiful free kick opportunity high into the crowd. Due to sign a new contract and clearly feeling renewed by having Mr. Moyes woo him, he may yet be kinda/sorta like a new signing.

For a good proportion of the match, United were vapid. Strangely inhibited, unable to get any real momentum going: This kind of listlessness has become something of a recurring theme in their visits to Anfield over recent seasons. Truth be told, United have now lost six of their last seven visits to Anfield, and, as with Moyes’ Everton, they have flinched in just about every one of those matches. Derby rivalry? United just don’t get it! Giggs showed up, but he can’t hold the ball like he used to when faced with a hacking hyena like Lucas Leiva. Poor Paddy Evra tried so hard, but, was repeatedly, unavoidably legless on a day when the usually reliable tandem of Ferdinand and Vidic looked equally elderly and repeatedly made errors. United’s giving up of only a single goal was miraculous. Well, slightly miraculous, but mostly due to the cold-blooded bravery of goalkeeper David De Gea who took a hammering from Sturridge, Aspas and a host of others who were casually allowed a state of nonchalant carte-blanche in United’s box.

How did the pea-brained Ashley Young come to make the the fourth minute mistake that led to the corner for Liverpool’s goal, allowing Daniel Sturridge to celebrate his 24th birthday with his third successive winner of the season after steering in a close-range header off a Gerrard corner? Young has worn the United shirt for nigh upon three years now. He has not improved one bit since leaving Aston Villa. Like Cleverley, he does not deserve to wear that shirt. Indeed, when Nemanja Vidic tapped a soft back pass toward goal, it was a minor miracle that De Gea beat a thundering Glen Johnson to the ball. Only twice, you say. That’s not so bad. Better yet, minutes away from the whistle, Carrick passed the ball straight to Daniel Sturridge. The whole stadium gasped. Sturridge seemed so shocked that he hesitated and flubbed it.

Doubtless, United would have been better if Wayne Rooney’s forehead had not been split open by Phil Jones in training the previous day. Yet Rooney’s history at Anfield is not good. Where was Shinji Kagawa when we needed passion and ball control? Robin van Persie was well muffled by Daniel Agger and Martin Skrtel throughout, squandering United’s best chance late on.

Reticent congratulations to Liverpool are due after they celebrated the 100th anniversary of the birth of their legendary Scottish manager Bill Shankly. Their current boss Brendan Rodgers is, I read, looking for a top four place fourth place this season and when suspended striker Luis Suarez returns they will be even tougher to beat.
As for United, let us all collectively pray for a few good breaks as the transfer window shuts.Liverpool vs Manchester U 007 United Endure Humiliating Weekend.

Sep 022013

Well it took a little longer than I would’ve liked, but Liverpool got the defensive reinforcements they desperately needed; even before Kolo Toure and Sebastian Coates got hurt recently.

The club announced the signings of 20-year-old Sporting Lisbon center back Tiago Ilori and 23-year-old Paris-Saint Germain center back Mamadou Sakho. They’ve also brought in Chelsea winger/forward Victor Moses for a season long loan while simultaneously sending Fabio Borini to Sunderland on loan. The first two cost approximately €19 million ($25 million, £16 million) combined and will challenge fellow newcomer Kolo Toure once he is deemed fit to play again. Moses is a good loan signing (especially with Borini departing) but I’m not sure how much I like him long term with Brendan Rodgers having shored up his front line through summer signings Luis Alberto and Iago Aspas; not to mention youngsters like Raheem Sterling and Jordan Ibe.

The best bit of business, however, has to be the club’s ability to retain the services of Luis Suarez (who seems to be sorry for his recent behavior) and Daniel Agger. The former is still an elite goalscorer who will be needed when Daniel Sturridge eventually cools off. When all is said and done Brendan Rodgers can sit back and feel good about the business he’s done in last two transfer windows. All the piece are in place, and many of them appear to be clicking, especially after Sunday’s triumph against Manchester United.

Unfortunately, the rest of the English Premier League appears to have followed suit and brought in a number of impressive signings this summer; especially after the news from Monday’s transfer deadline. Chelsea brought back the greatest manager to ever patrol the touch lines at Stamford Bridge in Jose Mourinho. Manchester United have added the hard working Marouane Fellaini and (possibly, depending on what has transpired by the time you read this) Fabio Coentrao. Manchester City brought in the likes of Stevan Jovetic, Fernandinho, Jesus Navas, and Alvaro Negredo. Tottenham turned Gareth Bale into Christian Eriksen, Nacer Chadli, Roberto Soldado, Erik Lamela, Paulinho, and Etienne Capoue. Arsenal, as long as it took them, managed to reel in German playmaking sensation Mesut Özil. Even Everton (yeah, those guys) managed to scoop up Gareth Barry (loan), Romelu Lukaku (loan), Gerard Defelou, and James McCarthy.

The stature of England’s top flight was on full display at the end of Monday’s transfer deadline. Even teams like Sunderland, Southampton, and Swansea made some quiet additions that could turn some heads. Just when things were looking up for Liverpool after their victory on Sunday, the rest of their biggest competitors went out and made themselves even better. I do believe this roster, as currently constructed, is capable of earning a Champions League berth next season, but that task looks much more difficult than it did Monday morning.

Eventually Daniel Sturridge is going to stop scoring and the defense is going to concede goals. The Reds are off to a great start, but these reinforcements were really the bare minimum Brendan Rodgers needed if a Top 4 finish was the goal for this season. Manchester United are going to wake up, Tottenham will see a lot of their summer signings progress as the season goes on, and teams like Everton, Swansea, Sunderland, and Southampton will all challenge for the Top 4 throughout much of the season. Earning a Champions League spot will be more difficult than it has been for several years.

Here’s a look at the lineup I’d like to see once Suarez is back…


Johnson – Agger- Sakho – Cissokho

Gerrard – Lucas – Luis Alberto

Suarez – Sturridge – Aspas

Although it’s only been a couple weeks, I think it’s safe to say Sturridge is best deployed in a central position at the head of the attack and having a couple dribblers like Suarez and Aspas on either side of him should help free up space for him in the box. With the front line so well established, it looks like the only way to get Luis Alberto out there regularly is to have him occupy the third midfield spot with Steven Gerrard and Lucas, with Jordan Henderson and Joe Allen in the mix as well. As for the defense, you might as well throw the new guys out there and see what they’ve got. Sakho (and even Ilori) and Cissokho are better than Martin Skrtel and Jose Enrique respectively.

Again, Brendan Rodgers has just finished up what was pretty much the best possible summer he could have short of making Real Madrid truly fancy Luis Suarez over Gareth Bale and turning the windfall into five or six very good players as Spurs did. Unfortunately, the rest of the top half of the table made some good moves for their own and a Top 4 spot just became even more difficult than ever to achieve.

Either way, sit back and enjoy Liverpool fans. It looks like we’re finally going to see the Reds finally make a legitimate run at a return to European competition.

“Walk on with hope in your heart and you’ll never walk alone!”

Aug 252013

Gareth Bale 300x181 Searching for the final piece in the quest for La Décima: Why Real Madrid are after the wrong player

Note: This article was written before Gareth Bale’s transfer to Real Madrid had been confirmed, but it just as relevant now as then

Real Madrid’s pursuit of Gareth Bale has dominated the headlines this summer, and frankly, I’m a bit tired of it.  Not because I think Bale should stay at Tottenham and help them get into the Champions League.  Far from it.  Let’s face it, Real Madrid are the biggest club in the world, courtesy of winning the aforementioned competition nine times, and not many players get the chance to play in that famous all white kit.

No, the reason I am tired of hearing of Bale to Madrid is twofold.  Firstly, I don’t buy into the idea that after Ronaldo and Messi, Bale is the greatest player in the world.  Secondly, I believe Real Madrid have greater needs, namely another number nine, and that the player they should really be after is a certain Luis Suarez.

Let’s deal with the issue of judging Bale’s ability first.  Is Bale a great young player who has the potential to become even better?  Yes.  But I would hardly put him as the third best player on the planet.  I think the likes of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Frank Ribery, Radamel Falcao, and even Robin van Persie might have something to say about that.  Nor is he the only promising young player out there.  Thomas Muller, Mario Goetze, Eden Hazard, and Mario Balotelli are all younger than Bale and have already played key roles in the their clubs winning major silverware.  Bale has not.

The constant comparisons to Christiano Ronaldo are also not entirely warranted.  In the summer of 2008, the 23-year-old Ronaldo was coming off of a record setting 42 goal season.  At 24, Bale is coming off a still remarkable, but relatively less impressive 26 goal season.  Will Bale take his game to Ronaldo type levels next year?

The evidence would say otherwise.  Ronaldo got to the level he is at by an incredible desire to perfect every aspect of his game, in many ways reminiscent of stories told of the great Pele.  While both are incredible athletes, Ronaldo’s game is not based as much on pure speed as Bale’s is.  Possessing great speed can often handicap players in developing other parts of their game, think Michael Owen, and whether Bale will be able to adapt his game when defenses learn to set themselves up to deny him space to run into remains to be seen.

Turning now to Real Madrid’s part in this, are they really willing to pay a figure that could be as high as £100 million for a player whose preferred position on the left is already occupied?  Even if you played Bale through the middle where he played at times last season for Spurs, that would still mean displacing Mesut Ozil or Isco, two tremendously talented players, who while not offering the same pace on the counterattack as Bale, probably offer more in terms of creativity when sides sit back deep to deny Madrid space.

Strangely, after a number of summer signing already completed in defense and midfield, the one position where Madrid are lacking after Gonzalo Higuain’s departure to Napoli is the one they have seemed in no rush to reinforce.  With only Karim Benzema and youngster Alvaro Morata as true strikers, Madrid are lacking in fire power for a team that aims to challenge on all fronts.  Of course they still have Ronaldo, but he very much likes to play on the left side and new manager Carlo Ancelotti has said Ronaldo will play where he wants.  That leaves Benzema, who can be a streaky forward, and Morata, who though already being compared to Fernando Morientes, is still only 20-years-old.  Madrid’s lack of a true world class striker has been evident in their recent failings at the last hurdle in the Champions League and their reluctance to reinforce in this department is baffling.

Madrid missed out on Cavani, who has joined nouveau riche PSG, as well as Falcao, who has joined another billionaire’s club in Monaco, while Lewandowski looks set to join Bayern Munich next season.  That leaves two strikers who I believe could fit the bill at the Santiago Bernabeu: Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Luis Suarez.  Zlatan is a nonstarter because of his age, his wages, his perceived inability to do it in Europe, and his propensity to kick his teammates in the head.  Therefore, Suarez, a player who was clearly willing to do anything it would take to agitate for a move to Madrid seems the obvious option.  Is Suarez a bit of a devil?  Of course.  But that’s also what makes him such a brilliantly unpredictable player.   Besides, what have Madrid got to complain about, they still employ Pepe after all.

It seems that much like Balotelli, Suarez’s antics have distracted people from realizing what a great player he is.  Pundits continually say they have the potential to be great.  Based on the way the two carried their respective team’s last season, Super Mario for Milan and Suarez for Liverpool, I would say that potential has been realized.

Suarez has exceptional technical ability, he is quick, he is a masterful dribbler, he works incredibly hard for the team, his movement and awareness are top notch, he can pull wide to open up space for midfield runners, and he has improved the one aspect of his game he is sometimes criticized for, his finishing, netting 30 goals in the last campaign.  He is undoubtedly a big game player and has been a huge part of Uruguay’s success in recent years.  Furthermore, Suarez is the perfect age to make the move, at 26-year-old he should be entering his peak and he would certainly fit in well in Spanish football, linking up with the attacking trio behind him at Madrid.  Plus he could be had for half the price as Daniel Levy is reported  to want for Bale.

Real Madrid are a club at times seemingly more interested in their Hollywood appeal than footballing success.  They are rumored to have turned down Ronaldinho in favor of David Beckham because the Brazilian was too ‘ugly’ to play for the Galáticos.  While this is hardly a perfect comparison, Bale resembles a monkey while Suarez has some undeniable rat like qualities, Madrid president Florentino Pérez would be wise not to repeat the same mistake.


 Posted by on August 25, 2013 at 9:06 pm  Barcelona FC, Chelsea, Europe, Global Football Today, La Liga, Spain
Aug 252013

Ronaldinho deco 300x126 #20

Football has a strange way of placing some players up on a pedestal as ‘legends of the game’, while relegating others to the category of also-rans in the pantheon of greats.  Maradona is revered as one of, if not the, greatest footballer of all time, while Michel Platini is seen as the incompetent Frenchman who runs UEFA by many English fans.  Everyone seems to remember the 86’ World Cup but the 84’ European Championships are seemingly forgotten.

This phenomenon is not limited to the more casual observers of the game.  Franco Baresi narrowly lost out to Bobby Moore and Franz Beckenbauer as the greatest defender of all time according to World Soccer magazine, receiving 22 votes from a panel of respected journalists from around the world.

In comparison, Gaetano Scirea received only one vote, the same amount at England’s brave John Terry, despite the fact that he kept Barsei out of the national side for some time, won everything there is to win at club level for Juventus, in addition to the 82’ World Cup, and is rivaled only by the aforementioned Kaiser in his mastery of the Libero role.  Surely he deserves more than equal footing with ‘JT’?

Turning now from comparing ‘Mr. Chelsea’ with legends of calico to the actual subject of this piece, let’s see if you can guess the identity of a player who is also seemingly being forgotten by many fans of the beautiful game, despite the fact that this individual is still playing professionally today.

He’s one of only a handful of players to have won the Champions League with two different clubs, receiving the UEFA midfielder of the year award on both occasions, he has won eight league titles in four different countries, he was a Balon D’or runner up, and earned 75 caps for his country, highlighted by playing in a European Championships final and World Cup semifinal.

The player’s name is Anderson Luís de Souza of course, or as you might better know him, Deco.

Some might say Deco was born in the wrong time period.  There was seemingly no place in Brazilian football for a 174cm tall ball-playing midfielder in 1997.  Of course, this seemed to be the case over in Europe as well, with midfield partnerships consisting of one creator, a Zidane or Scholes, and one destroyer, a Davids or Keane, the norm.

Though Brazil had produced elegant ball-playing midfielders in the past such as Didi, Rivelino, Gérson, Zico, Socrates, Falcão,  et al, those within Brazilian football came to believe, perhaps as a result of the failure of the 82’ side, that centre midfielders had to be tall, strong players who could physically dominate the midfield battle.

This is evident in the Brazil side that won the World Cup in 2002; Brazil employed a back three with two destroyers in Kléberson and Gilberto Silva ahead of them, with the creative work left to an attacking three of Ronaldinho, Rivaldo, and Ronaldo.

This left no room for a slight midfielder like Deco, neither a traditional playmaker nor a player in the mold of Kaka who could drive past defenders with his great pace, but a versatile, inventive midfielder who could link up play and also had an eye for goal.

Never establishing himself in domestic Brazilian football, Deco moved to Portugal at age 19 after Benfica bought him from Corinthians.  He was then loaned out to second division side F.C. Alverca, where he quickly adapted to European football, helping the club gain promotion to the top flight with 13 goals in 32 appearances.

Despite his fine performances, on his return to Benfica, manager Graham Souness decided Deco wouldn’t be able to cut it at the top level and instead brought in Mark Pembridge from Sheffield Wednesday.  There’s a reason Souness topped the Guardian’s 2008 list of ten worst football managers.  Deco was sold to S.C. Salgueiros, where his play caught the eye of FC Porto, and he subsequently joined the club in 1999.

After an indifferent first year, Deco established himself as a regular with the Portuguese giants in his next three seasons with the side, helping Porto to a league title and two domestic cup triumphs. He also impressed individually, scoring 19 goals in 48 games in the 2001/2002 season, including six in Europe.

Despite this early success, his career really took off when a certain Jose Mourinho arrived in 2002.  As is evident by his 17 yellow cards and one red card in 2002/2003 season, Mourinho helped Deco improve the tactical aspect of his game, asking him to help press the opposition from his position at the top of Porto’s midfield diamond.

Deco became an integral part of Mourinho’s Porto side, scoring 12 goals as Porto won the league title after a three year drought, triumphed over Celtic in the UEFA cup final, and added the Portuguese Cup to complete the Treble in the Portuguese manager’s first year at the helm.

The success continued in the next season, as Porto defended their league title while pulling off one of the greatest surprises in modern football history by winning the Champions League.  Playing in a slightly deeper role linking midfield and attack, Deco was voted UEFA Club Footballer of the Year and topped the Champions league in.

Also the most fouled player in the competition, Deco helped lead Porto to a famous victory against Manchester United on the way to their final matchup with Monaco where Deco ran the show, scoring Porto’s second goal as well as being voted man of the match.

Andy Brassell writes of Deco’s play that season for Porto in All or Nothing: A Season in the life of the Champions League:

“Deco is pivotal to most good things that Porto do. A player who’s the very definition of flair . . . he’s influential on so many levels – his set pieces are always dangerous, and he has the vision to open up a defense.  The opposition know he can also beat two or three players at a time so he attracts potential markers every time he picks up the ball, leaving spaces elsewhere on the pitch.  Not forgetting, of course, that he’s simply very good a keeping the ball . . .”

Despite these qualities, Deco was never called up by Brazil, and he became eligible to play for Portugal upon earning his passport after spending six years in the country.  Realizing his mistake in never calling him up for Brazil, Deco was immediately brought into the squad by new Portugal manager Luiz Felipe Scolari in 2003.  He scored a free kick in his first game, coincidentally against Brazil, as Portugal defeated the current world champions for the first time since 1966.

Though Scolari clearly was a fan of his, Deco’s inclusion was nevertheless contentious at first, with many in the media, as well as supporters of clubs other than Porto resenting his place in the squad.

Luis Figo went as far as to say of Deco’s call up, “It’s something that distorts team spirit and I don’t agree with it. If you’re born Chinese, well, you have to play for China.”  Figo continued, “It looks like you’re trying to take advantage of something. That’s my opinion and I’m not going to change it because he is in the team.”

Deco responded to the criticism surrounding his selection, saying: “I don’t regret choosing to play for Portugal, I was born in Brazil and it would be a lie to say that I’m Portuguese now and not Brazilian. But I love Portugal and I love playing for the national team.”

His critics were soon silenced as Deco was named part of the Portugal squad for the 2004 European Championships, replacing Rui Costa at halftime against Greece in the first group stage game before playing every minute of Portugal’s remaining games on the way to the final, where Portugal lost to Greece on home soil for a second time.

After the Euro’s, Deco was heavily linked with a move to Chelsea after Mourinho’s arrival at Stamford Bridge, but he instead went to play under Frank Rijkaard at Barcelona.  With Barcelona already having signed fellow Brazilian Ronaldinho the previous summer, some questioned Barcelona’s wisdom is signing another attacking midfielder.  However, Rijkaard had another role in mind for the midfielder, and Deco excelled playing in a midfield three that season, coming second to Andriy Schevchenko in the 2004 Balon D’or voting.

Deco and Ronaldinho, a duo that according to Scolari, “can make rain fall”, helped bring the attractive, free flowing football back to the Camp Nou that had absent for large periods of time since Johan Cruyff’s original Dream Team. Though Deco never achieved the popularity Ronaldinho did, he was a perfect foil for the forward.

While Ronaldinho’s footwork and goals were so spectacular that even that Real Madrid supporters had to stand up and applaud, Deco was a master of keeping the ball circulating by playing simple, never taking five touches when one would suffice.  Showcasing his great passing ability, work rate, and footballing intelligence, Deco helped Barcelona wrest the La Liga title from holders Valencia, scoring ten goals in all competitions.

The following season was perhaps the best of Deco’s career.  Barcelona defended their La Liga title in fine fashion, winning by twelve points as Deco was voted Barcelona’s player of the year for the 2005/2006 season.  In Europe, Barcelona topped their group and knocked off Chelsea, Benfica, and Milan on the way to the final, as Deco collected another UEFA midfielder of the year award after his side defeated Arsenal 2-1 in Paris.

Deco was at the peak of his powers, a complete midfielder who controlled the tempo of the game flawlessly.  Speaking of the possibility of a 4-6-0 formation, former UEFA technical director Andy Roxburg said: “you’d need to have six Decos in midfield – he doesn’t just attack, he runs, tackles, cover all over the pitch.  You find him playing at right-back sometimes.’  High praise indeed.

While Guardiola’s Barcelona side famously approached this ideal, he was not the first to apply the concept.  Though Rijkaard typically played Deco alongside Mark van Bomel and Edmílson in Europe, in La Liga, he frequently played with a midfield of Xavi Hernandez, Andrés Inietsa, and Deco, certainly a sign of thing to come.

Heading off to Germany for the 2006 World Cup in good form, Deco was by now a key cog in the Scolari’s Portugal side.  Scoring in Portugal’s first game versus Iran, Deco’s metronomic passing led Portugal out of the group stage and past the Netherlands in the infamous ‘Battle of Nuremberg’, where he was one of four players sent off.  Returning to the side after serving his suspension against England, he was unable to stop Zidane’s France as Portugal again fell just short of glory in a tightly contest semifinal.

Back at Barcelona, Deco was again an integral part of the side, making 47 appearances all competitions.  However, Real Madrid captured the league title that season and after a poor 2007/2008 campaign, Deco and Ronaldinho were sold as new manager Pep Guardiola wished to build his side around Xavi, Iniesta, and Messi, among rumors that the two had become a bad influence on the dressing room.

Deco was reunited with ‘Big Phil’ Scolari at Chelsea, and enjoyed a great start to his time with the West Londoners, scoring a couple of spectacular goals and being voted the Premier League player of the month in August 2008.  However, his form dropped off and he found himself consigned to the bench after Scolari was sacked.

Despite speculation that he might leave Stamford Bridge, Deco stayed on after new manager Carlo Ancelotti took over and again had a postive start to the season before injuries curtailed him.  After recovering, Deco played himself back into the side for the title run in and helped Chelsea win the Premier League and a second FA Cup trophy in two years, completing the first Double in club history.

After injuring himself in the first game of 2010 World Cup, Deco would not feature again for Portugal and he announced his retirement from international football after the tournament.  He subsequently joined Brazilian side Fluminense, where he helped the club win two Brazilian Championships.  He also led Fluminense to the Rio State Championship in 2012, where he was voted the tournament’s best player, finally getting the recognition he deserved fifteen years after leaving his home country.

While Brazilian fans have somewhat of an excuse for not fully appreciating Deco considering he left the country so young and never played for Brazil, it is unfortunate that many fans of European football remember him not as the elite player that he was, but simply as another above average midfielder to have played on the continent in recent years.

Never mind that Deco was in many way the archetype for Xavi and Iniesta, two players who are so highly revered in the modern game.  Apparently Guardiola founded FCB in 2008.  Speaking of Guardiola, it is somewhat ironic that a comment by the very man who forced Deco out of Barcelona ultimately sheds some light on what a special player he truly was.

After their victory over Santos in the 2011 Club World Cup Final Pep Guardiola said his Barcelona side played football “as my dad and my grandfather told me Brazil did.”  The Catalan side starting XI included Sergio Busquets, Xavi Hernandez, Andres Iniesta, Cesc Fabregas, and Thiago Alcantar; five Decos one might say.  On the other hand, Santo’s midfield consisted of Arouca and Henrique, two destroyers, with Ganso as the playmaker.  Barcelona utterly dominated, enjoying 71% possession and winning 4-0.  The result was a shock to the system of Brazilian football.

While Spain has produced an extraordinary amount of excellent ball playing midfielders in recent years, Brazil has not.  The closest thing again Brazil coach Luiz Felipe Scolari has at his disposal is probably Oscar of Chelsea, though he plays primarily as the central player in a 4-2-3-1.

A player like Deco, with his adaptability, ability to pass and move, and football acumen is sorely missed not just from Brazil, but from nearly any national team apart perhaps from Spain.  Am I the only one who thinks Deco could still do a job for the Three Lions?

In an age where many fan’s concept of the history of the game began the moment they start paying attention, and the advent of the 24-hour news cycle and social media mean that football is increasingly wrapped up in the present, it is important to not only remember the players that were able to win the World Cup as a result of being part of an exceptional generation, those that wowed fans with great displays of individual skill, or those that scored obscene amounts of goals in teams who frequently steamrolled the opposition.

We should also appreciate players who possess a true love of the game and are capable of that bit of magic, even if it’s only for a few moments or seasons, that show their true class.  In this spirit, I will leave the last words on Deco to Scolari, a man who truly appreciated the midfielder’s genius.

“Deco, obviously, is not Zidane, but he is very similar. You expect one thing and then it changes. That is very important. For me, he is one of the best players in the world . . .”

Aug 252013

It would seem Gareth Bale is (finally) headed for Madrid, but in the meantime several key players have made moves and are already making impressions with their new clubs.


The Brazilian central midfielder was first the subject of rumors in Liverpool, then Tottenham, and now Chelsea it turns out will get his signature. The Blues signed him for £30 million ($46.7 million) from Anzhi Machhakala in Russia.

Adel Taarabt

After hitting the drop with Queens Park Rangers, the Moroccan playmaker joins Fulham on loan for the 2013-14 season.


The former Arsenal winger is now with Roma in Serie A after completing a £6.9 million ($10.75 million) move.

Lisandro Lopez

The former Olympique Lyon striker has completed a permanent transfer to Al-Gharafa in Qatar’s top division.

Pablo “Dani” Osvaldo

The powerful Italian forward completed a four year, £15 million ($23.3 million) move to Southampton from Roma this past week and made his debut with the team in the second half of their 1-1 draw with Sunderland at St. Marys.


After impressing scouts at the Confederations Cup this summer, the diminutive Brazilian has moved from his native Atletico Mineiro to Ukraine’s Shakhtar Donetsk for five years and a €25 million ($33.45 million) transfer fee.

Helder Postiga

The Portuguese striker has completed a two year move from Real Zaragoza to Valencia as the latter looks to replace the production of Roberto Soldado.

Luis Gustavo

After much speculation he would wind up in London with Arsenal, Gustavo has instead decided to stay in the Bundesliga and completed a move to Wolfsburg.

Gary Medel

The Chilean international has joined Cardiff City from Sevilla for a reported £8 million ($12.5 million) transfer fee. Medel got the start in Cardiff’s 3-2 win over Manchester City this weekend.

Lucas Piazon

The Chelsea youngster has gone on loan to Vitesse in the Netherland for the 2013-14 season.

Tom Huddlestone

The Tottenham central midfielder completed a three year move to Hull City and is joined by fellow Spurs midfielder Jake Livermore who will be in Hull on a season long loan.

Johan Elmander

The Swedish striker returns to England and will join Norwich on loan this season from Galatasaray with a view to a permanent move next summer. He spent several years in the EPL with Bolton Wanderers before ending up in Turkey.

Etienne Capoue

The French holding midfielder completed a four year move to Tottenham and got the start in their 1-0 win over Swansea on Sunday.

Stewart Downing 

The former Liverpool wide player has completed a £6 million ($9.3 million) move to West Ham where he joins former Red Andy Carroll as well.

Darren Bent

After missing much of last season with a knee injury, the Aston Villa striker joins Fulham on loan for the 2013-14 season.

Scott Parker

The Tottenham midfielder completed a three year move to Fulham and featured in their 3-1 defeat to Arsenal on Saturday.

Scott Sinclair

The Manchester City winger joins West Bromwich Albion on loan for the 2013-14 season.

Aly Cissokho

The Valencia left back has joined Liverpool on loan for the 2013-14 season and he came on as a substitute in their victory over Aston Villa on Saturday.

Sebastian Cristoforo

The Uruguay U-20 starlet has completed a €2.25 million ($3 million) move to Sevilla in an effort to replace the since-sold Gary Medel.

Park-Ji Sung

The South Korean veteran midfielder joins PSV Eindhoven on loan from Queens Park Rangers for the 2013-14 season.

Gino Peruzzi

The 21 year old Velez Sarsfield (Argentina) defender has completed a permanent move to Catania in Italy.

Charalampos Mavrias

The 19 year old Greek winger joins Sunderland for a three year deal from his native Panathanaikos.

Saphir Sliti Taider

The 21 year old Bologna midfielder completed a permanent move to Inter.


Aug 222013
Italia weekly 2013-14 logo

Brian Sanders(@KCNFFC), Luis Palmitesta(@lep17), and Vincent La Rosa(@vincelikesstuff) go team by team in previewing the 2013-14 Serie A season complete with expected scudetto winners and relegation losers.

Click here to listen