Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Eredivisie's 10 best transfers of the season 2010-11

The 2010-11 season in Dutch football witnessed less transfer movement than normal, with teams opting to be more careful with their cash.

Traditional powerhouses such as PSV, Ajax and Feyenoord were all relatively quiet, with only the transfers of Mounir El Hamdaoui from AZ to Ajax and Jeremain Lens from AZ to PSV really making headlines.

Clubs such as Groningen, Twente and Utrecht have every reason to be pleased with their transfer activity this season, while relegation candidates De Graafschap and Willem II got it right as well wih one great signing each. Eindhoven giants PSV have two representatives in the top 10.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Ligue 1’s 10 best transfers of season 2010-11

The last year in Ligue 1 has proven that money doesn’t necessarily buy success. Many high-profile transfers in France haven’t been as successful as the smaller purchases, with the biggest move of them all – Yoann Gourcuff’s switch from Bordeaux to Lyon – proving to be arguably the biggest flop signing of the campaign to date.

Instead, it has been the lower profile moves that have tended to be the most successful, with shrewd work in the transfer market by the likes of Lorient and Rennes cementing their place in the top half of the standings. 

Of the big guns, Paris Saint-Germain have spent the most wisely, picking up Brazilian winger Nene from Monaco and multi-purpose midfielder Mathieu Bodmer from Lyon, but otherwise, Ligue 1’s best acquisitions have tended to be players who have successfully made the step up from a lower grade.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Serie A's 10 best transfers of the season 2010-11

Multiple changes needed to be made at many of Italy's clubs last summer. With Inter having chalked up a fifth straight league title, the chasers went on a spree while the champions themselves took it easy. Juventus brought in a raft of new names while AC Milan followed a mid-summer period of what appeared to be modest movement by splashing out on Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Robinho in the final days of the transfer window.

Further down the table Lazio made a move to strengthen their hopes of claiming European football by beating Palermo to the signature of Brazilian playmaker Hernanes from Sao Paulo. The Sicilians were on the lookout for reinforcements partly due to the loss of Edinson Cavani to Champions League hopefuls Napoli.

Come the winter, the big three were all spending again. Inter made a handful of additions after their treacherous start to the season, and Juventus made some changes to aid their faltering Champions League push. Meanwhile, leaders Milan looked to touch up their squad with names like Mark van Bommel, Antonio Cassano and Urby Emanuelson.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Bundesliga's 10 best transfers of the season 2010-11

The Bundesliga has in recent years focused on youth development ahead of big-money transfers, and with Bayern Munich almost completely silent in the player market, all the best signings of the last two transfer windows have come on the cheap.

The most high-profile transfer of 2010-11 was without doubt the move of Raul to Schalke, but otherwise, the vast majority of the Bundesliga's best buys were surprise quantities, many of whom were intended to be substitutes at the time of their transfer.

Top 10 Asian players in Europe 2010-11

It's fair to say the highlight of the 2010-11 European season for Asian football was the number of players who had breakthrough campaigns with their clubs.

The apparent increase in Japanese players heading to Europe to embark on club careers arguably had an influence, but the number of young footballers from around Asia developing their game abroad certainly bodes well for the future.

Top 10 Concacaf players in Europe 2010-11

Concacaf has churned out some great players in the past but this season's final product has proven to be of the highest quality for some lucky teams. More than a few names will be remembered for helping their clubs reach new heights and breaking long-standing records.

From firing Manchester United to their 19th English top-flight title to captaining Hannover to a Europa League spot, Concacaf players made a big splash in Europe.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

No.1 in ranking for Liverpool at last! Liverpool crowned loudest fans in the Premiership

Liverpool have taken over from Stoke City as the Premier Leagues nosiest supporters, according to unofficial research by the website Peter's Fan Chants.
The Potters have been famously dubbed the Premier League's loudest fans ever since Sky Sports measured the noise levels in every ground in 2008.
On this evidence Stoke can expect to make more noise than Man City during Saturday's FA Cup final, Wembley's.
Michael Dennis, Peter's Fan Chants managing director said: "While this survey is not scientific, we have taken a series of measurements on the terraces of each club's home ground and averaged this out across games and the season.
"Contrary to what you might expect with its much larger ground,Man City fans are quieter at 71 decibels than Stoke City (83 decibels).
"But Wembley Stadium, acoustically, doesn't help the fans and they sound muted compared to their home ground terraces.
"But because each club is allocated roughly the same number of tickets, both sets of supporters will have a level playing field and the opportunity to demonstrate that they are the loudest."
Full table, according to Peter's Fan Chants:
1 Liverpool 97 decibels
2 Man Utd 94
3 Aston Villa 89
4 Everton 86
5 Blackpool 85
6 Stoke 83
7 Newcastle 82
8 West Ham 81
9 Chelsea 80
10 Sunderland 80
11 Arsenal 77
12 Wigan 72
13 Man City 71
14 Tottenham 70
15 Blackburn 67
16 Birmingham 70
17 Bolton 69
18 Wolves 69
19 West Brom 67
20 Fulham 65

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Will Ilkay Gundogan step into Nuri Sahin’s boots at Borussia Dortmund?

Throughout the 2010-11 season, there was no better midfielder in Germany than Nuri Sahin. The Turkey international had a dream campaign that led to the Bundesliga title, and his fine performances earned him interest from abroad. With the announcement of his departure for Real Madrid on Monday, Dortmund have lost the cornerstone of their midfield. For the time being, some large question marks loom over BVB’s future: how will the champions manage without Sahin, and who will step into the departed player’s shoes?

Enter Ilkay Gundogan.

Anticipating Sahin’s move, Dortmund were quick to search for a replacement and last week confirmed the capture of Gundogan from Nurnberg. Once dubbed the 'new Ozil', the 20-year old is more a combination of the former Werder Bremen creator, and Sahin. A box-to-box player, Gundogan tends to take up deeper positions than Ozil, but is more often found at the edge of the penalty box than Sahin. He tends to be much more of a direct goal threat than Ozil, with ability to shoot from distance, though his typical range is somewhat less than that of the man whose place in the team he will likely fulfill. Like both his comparisons, however, Gundogan is technically proficient, and excels in the quick, flat-passing system that characterises Dortmund’s style of play.

The challenge Jurgen Klopp faces in the coming year is converting Gundogan from a No.10 to a holding midfielder. In a recent interview with Bild, Turkey scout and former BVB forward Erdal Keser branded Gundogan a more aggressive player than Sahin. The Dortmund newcomer naturally gravitates towards the edge of the box, which could yield problems for Klopp’s side, given that Shinji Kagawa is already pencilled in for the role in that area. Moreover, the coach’s current system relies on forward runs from full-backs, which requires that holding midfield duo Sahin and Sven Bender cover the space behind the marauding wide defenders. There just isn’t room for another man behind main striker Lucas Barrios.

In all likelihood, Klopp will have to make modifications to his system. Following the announcement of Sahin’s departure, sporting director Michael Zorc admitted: “It’s hard to replace Nuri with another player. Our playing style will change.” Exactly how BVB will change remains to be seen, but the coach has his work cut out.

No matter Klopp’s system, it may well have limited dependence on Gundogan. To pin Dortmund’s Champions League hopes on a player who is just 20 years of age would be irresponsible and inviting of danger, especially if he is forced to change his playing style in the process. Sahin spent four years at Dortmund and a fifth on loan before he fully blossomed at the age of 22; Gundogan may require one, two, or more years to achieve his potential.

Having lost a vital component of their team, Dortmund have made the right step in finding and securing a promising, reasonably priced alternative. However, those expecting a like-for-like swap and the same BVB team to play next season will be disappointed. Gundogan could make his breakthrough in 2011-12, but it would be a mistake to expect him to fit perfectly into Sahin’s shoes. He is the first, but will not be the last signing Dortmund make this summer, and is only one part of the very large puzzle that is the BVB team.

Klopp once before formulated a winning combination with a group of talented young players. Fans can only trust that, with or without Gundogan as a main component, he will do so again.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Materazzi: I made peace with Zidane

Inter Milan defender Marco Materazzi has revealed he's made his peace with Zinedine Zidane after their 2006 World Cup feud.
Meeting by chance in Italy while Materazzi was visiting former Inter boss Jose Mourinho, the ex-Perugia stopper says he made the first move.
“I reached out and I said ‘listen, I'm sorry this happened, it's over.’ He said ‘no, no, no problem, do not worry.’ We shook hands and that was it.
“Man to man is what is most beautiful, because to make peace for the sake of FIFA and before Sepp Blatter is just advertising.
“But making peace in the car park of a hotel, it was like two friends or two enemies meeting and shaking hands.”
Despite clearing the air with the French icon, Materazzi added that he now wants to discuss the matter with FIFA.
“FIFA called me but did not allow my lawyer to discuss what happened with the committee,” he explained.
“They just need to keep the reputation of Zidane and make me look like the bad guy,” he continued.
“As Blatter speaks Italian I know we can exchange a few words quietly. Sooner or later it will happen…”



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