Pages

Wednesday, 1 July 2020

Player Profile: Virgil van Dijk

Were it possible to go back to 2015, when Virgil van Dijk left Glasgow Celtic for Southampton, every club in Europe would admit their mistake. The defender, seen as ‘too good for Scotland, not good enough for the top’ made a move to Southampton for around £11m. After two years in Glasgow where he looked like he’d outgrown the league on debut, he made the move to England and continued his development.

However, van Dijk was earmarked for major success as early as his youth days with FC Groningen. There, he made a huge impression and moved to Glasgow after the regular Dutch giants turned their nose up at him.

Assured on the ball and built with absolute confidence, van Dijk brings an air of calm that many modern defenders. Exceptional in the air, strong, quick and capable of handling any forward, the Dutchman has rightfully been elevated to a worldwide status. Despite having just 16 caps for a mediocre Holland side at 26 years of age, it would be fair to say that the Breda-born star was overlooked by both Dutch clubs and the Oranje for too long.

Now an established defender for Liverpool, following a protracted and chaotic move that could be worth £75m, van Dijk has become a major part of the future at Anfield. With such a massive pricetag, he’ll be expected to live up to heightened expectations – however, an inner zeal and self-belief that’s hard to break could see him easily achieve his aims.

The 6’4” defender is a regular goal scorer, and has often been one of the most impressive players in his position ever since he arrived in the UK with Celtic. Snobbery aside, some clubs might wish they’d paid the relative pittance that Southampton paid for the Dutch international! 
 
Were it possible to go back to 2015, when Virgil van Dijk left Glasgow Celtic for Southampton, every club in Europe would admit their mistake. The defender, seen as ‘too good for Scotland, not good enough for the top’ made a move to Southampton for around £11m. After two years in Glasgow where he looked like he’d outgrown the league on debut, he made the move to England and continued his development.

However, van Dijk was earmarked for major success as early as his youth days with FC Groningen. There, he made a huge impression and moved to Glasgow after the regular Dutch giants turned their nose up at him.

Assured on the ball and built with absolute confidence, van Dijk brings an air of calm that many modern defenders. Exceptional in the air, strong, quick and capable of handling any forward, the Dutchman has rightfully been elevated to a worldwide status. Despite having just 16 caps for a mediocre Holland side at 26 years of age, it would be fair to say that the Breda-born star was overlooked by both Dutch clubs and the Oranje for too long.

Now an established defender for Liverpool, following a protracted and chaotic move that could be worth £75m, van Dijk has become a major part of the future at Anfield. With such a massive pricetag, he’ll be expected to live up to heightened expectations – however, an inner zeal and self-belief that’s hard to break could see him easily achieve his aims.

The 6’4” defender is a regular goal scorer, and has often been one of the most impressive players in his position ever since he arrived in the UK with Celtic. Snobbery aside, some clubs might wish they’d paid the relative pittance that Southampton paid for the Dutch international!

Wednesday, 17 June 2020

Mauro Icardi


Known for his tempestuous attitude and wild off the pitch mind-set as much as his incredible coolness in front of goal, Mauro Icardi looks set to go down in the history of Internazionale of Italy. Signing from the club after a breakout season with Sampdoria, where he scored a brace against then-champions Juventus to begin a mad rush for his signature, he made his move to the Nerrazzurri in 2013.

Since 2011, the Argentine international has become one of the most lethal forwards in the game. Despite the madness that surrounds his personal life, Icardi has quickly become one of the most notable forwards in the game. His coolness in front of goal is in stark contrast to the racy lifestyle he leads off the pitch.

At Inter, he’s become a regular goal scorer and has stayed loyal to the club during a fallow period for a club of such size. With an incredible 96 goals from 170 games, he’s quickly established himself among the pantheon of the top strikers to have worn the Inter shirt.

While he’s had fall-outs along the way with the clubs Ultras, the Argentina international has always worked hard to repay the faith shown in him. The scorer of a hat-trick in the Derby del Madonnina, too, he’s a player who shows a love for the big games and is a master of getting the right result for his side.

Despite playing in Inter sides that barely can match his ability, Icardi has stuck around with the promise of taking Inter back to the top. Despite regular criticism of his personality and his lifestyle, Icardi has shown time and time again that his attitude on the pitch is something that can never be doubted, cementing his place as one of 2018's most lethal forwards.

Thursday, 14 May 2020

Player Profile - Paul Pogba

If you have somehow managed to get to 2018 without hearing the name of Paul Pogba, we’d be quite impressed in a way. The big Frenchman is among the finest midfielders in the world game; a unique blend of grace, style, personality and raw power. Whether he’s nutmegging a fellow midfielder or lashing an unstoppable drive from distance, the fiery midfielder has earned his right to be among the global pantheon of midfield stars.

At 24, he’s maturing into the next midfield legend at Manchester United. Following an acrimonious exit from the club due to a lack of playing time under Alex Ferguson, Pogba made his way over to Italy with Juventus. In Turin, he established himself as a global star and quickly became an icon for a club perpetually in the midst of winning titles.

In four years in Turin, he clocked up over 150 appearances and won several medals, including four Serie A crowns as the Old Lady became one of the most dominant sides in the European game. While his then-world record move back to Manchester United is yet to truly catch fire, a League Cup and UEFA Europa League is a fine start to his return to Manchester.

Seemingly set with the aim of finishing off what he left behind the first time, the 2013 Golden Boy has all the talent and aptitude to make it at the top of the game. His unique blend of power, precision, persistence and personality makes him the kind of player that is so easy on the eye.

While his critics might say he is yet to score enough goals or truly blossom into a world-record worthy player, there’s much to admire about Paul Pogba. For years to come, he’ll be remembered as a genuine Premier League great.

Wednesday, 8 April 2020

Tanguy Ndombele given ‘second chance’ at Tottenham Hotspur

When Tanguy Ndombele signed for Tottenham Hotspur in the summer of 2019, it was seen as a major coup. However, having played over 20 games for the club in the last season before the COVID-19 outbreak brought it to an end, it was clear that he and new manager Jose Mourinho were not going to see eye-to-eye.

However, it appears that with plenty of time to think that Mourinho has given the Frenchman another chance. At only 23 and as the club records signing, that would make sense. Injury issues and a constant in/out nature meant that for a long time Ndomebele was simply out of the team and unable to play with any flow or consistency. It appears that Mourinho recognised that, and will be likely to give him more chances once he has enjoyed a full pre-season.

Still, injury problems have become commonplace with the midfielder and that is likely to cause many issues. Fitness issues are likely to continue with the long layoff all players have endured, making it hard for the £65m man to make good on his potential at the club.

With a below-part first season now out of the way, it looks like Ndombele won’t make a quick exit from the North London giants. Instead, a second season for both player and club appears to be the most likely option. It’s interesting to see what comes next, and it will be very intriguing to see how the club and player handle a second season.

Given the number of top players who have struggled in their first year in England, though, there is nothing to say that Ndombele cannot re-find the levels he was showing with such consistency when he played with Lyon in France. Spurs fans will be hoping this gives him the opportunity to rediscover his verve and his desire.

Thursday, 5 March 2020

Sheffield United vs Norwich


With the Blades very much looking to find a place in the UEFA Champions League – something unthinkable at the beginning of the season – fellow promotional team Norwich City are at the other end of the table. The Canaries are in a poor run, despite putting out Tottenham Hotspur in the FA Cup. Can the Blades find the form they need to make sure that they can keep their dreams of not only European football, but Champions League football, alive?

Sheffield United News


The Blades are in one of the best places they have been all season in terms of injuries. Not a single player has so far been reported as missing for them. While the likes of John Fleck and Enda Stevens were a bit touch and go, both players are expected to make it for this game.

Sander Berge could start in midfield, while Chris Wilder is likely to give David McGoldrick another game up top. Despite only scoring his first goal of the season in midweek, he’s generally performed well.

Norwich City News


The Canaries are gong to be without their star creative player in Emiliano Buendia. The little Argentine playmaker will miss out, while they might also be without a few other key players. Timm Klose, Sam Byram, and Onel Hernandez are definitely out. Christoph Zimmermann is not expected to recover in time for this one.

They will need to try and shuffle an already small squad around to try and make this a contest.

Verdict


While the Blades aren’t prolific, they don’t concede too many either. Norwich, meanwhile, score a fair few and concede even more. We can see the Canaries struggling here; while both teams went to extra time in the FA Cup, there’s something to play for at Bramall Lane. For Norwich, survival feels an unrealistic prospect now – simply building confidence for a potential FA Cup run should be their primary concern now

Monday, 17 February 2020

Player Profile - Christian Eriksen

For years, the name of Christian Eriksen has been on the tips of the tongue of scouts across the globe. Now 25, the Middlefart-born Dane is one of the most impressive creative players in the world. With a deftness of touch that wouldn’t look out of place in a Brazilian national side to a vision and general temperament on the ball that makes him almost impossible to frustrate, Eriksen is easily among the leading lights in the entire Premier League.

The Spurs man started out at AFC Ajax, like many of his fellow Danes. He quickly became a key man at Ajax, thriving as the key cog in a resurgent Ajax side led by Frank de Boer. With some exceptional performances domestically and in Europe, including rampaging performances on English soil, Eriksen was a player that most teams in the world would have taken a chance on.

It was a surprise, then, when he made a move to Tottenham for just £11m in 2013. The move was seen as a massive coup for the club, as he joined a mini revolution at Spurs. While at first he was somewhat slow to get started, despite an assist on debut, he quickly established himself as a player who could lift the tempo of a math seemingly at will.

With the ball under his control almost permanently, he’s become a player noted for important goals, including wonderful free kicks. He’s also a player who is known for his top quality link-up play, having become a key foil for teammates Harry Kane and Dele Alli and, at international level, alongside the likes of Lasse Schone and Kasper Dolberg – fellow Ajax players.

For many, he’s among the most underrated players in the world and, just 25, could yet establish a career to rival Danish legends such as Michael Laudrup.

Thursday, 16 January 2020

Player Profile - Loris Karius

For many, German goalkeeper Loris Karius was the wrong choice for a club the size of Liverpool. The 24-year-old German, though, has shown in 2018 that he has more than enough to handle playing for a top club. After all, there’s a reason why he was voted among the finest keepers in Germany prior to his arrival at Anfield!

He started off at VfB Stuttgart after a series of moves around smaller youth clubs like SSV Ulm 1846. He then made a surprise move to England, when he joined recently cash-rich Manchester City. He was signed for City in 2009, but never made a single appearance for the Citizens despite costing an “exorbitant amount of money”, according to Thomas Albeck, the Stuttgart youth co-ordinator.

A move to Mainz 05 came next, where he stayed for four years. In his time at the club, he quickly established himself as a keeper of some repute, playing regularly for the Zero-Fivers. He quickly became a key player following coming on for Christian Wetklo. Wetklo was injured and, at 19, he became the youngest Bundesliga keeper of all-time.

From 2013-2016, he was a key player for the club and was voted the second best keeper in the Bundesliga in 2015-16, keeping nine sheets. He came second only to the great Manuel Neur.

Then, he made his move to Liverpool. While he’s only begun to establish himself at Anfield after 18-months, the German looks to be coming into his own and really establishing a legacy for himself. Now the number one keeper at Anfield, he appears to have the back of players, coaches and fans as he continues an impressive renaissance.

While he might not be among the elite keepers in the league just yet, a rich history and potential for development says that, at just 24, that could change quickly.