Tag Archives: Real Madrid

Mesut Ozil, Alexis Sanchez, Jack Wilshere, Arsenal’s Defensive Crisis & More

So a week or so without blogging has done me well. I feel refreshed, I have learnt some new words, and I have actually got some proper work done. But I am back, and I thought a good way to start off would be a recap of stuff that I would have blogged on in the last few weeks…

Mesut Ozil & Alexis Sanchez

Speculation is increasing that both will leave on a free in the summer. I would have dumped them both last summer and got in some replacements. My opinion is the same for January. Take what we can, and get in some replacements (Thomas Lemar and Julian Draxler still getting talked about).

Harry Winks

Who? Was what I asked when he got called up for England.

It turns out he plays for Spurs, and has started 4 Premier League games in his career. Good job devaluing the shirt Gareth. Still baffles me as to how Theo Walcott fails to make the England squad whilst the links of Jesse Lingard and this Winks fella get in.

THAT Spurs Book

White Hart Lane: The Spurs Glory Years 1899-2017

  • 2 League titles
  • 8 FA Cups

Arsene Wenger: We Want You to Stay 1996-2017

  • 3 League titles
  • 7 FA Cups

Spurs really are a deluded bunch.

“Super Clubs”

A lot has been written in recent years about Super Clubs. The likes of Manchester United, Barcelona, Real Madrid and Bayern Munich. A lot of what has been written is positive, blue prints on how they got to where they are, and how others should attain to get there.

Whilst the likes of the 4 previously mentioned sides, alongside the likes of Juventus. Inter and AC Milan are at the top of the footballing hierarchy, the life of a football club is cyclical, and just because you eat from the top table, does not mean you will not have your struggles.

Man U, for example, have not been the same since Sir Alex Ferguson left. The other British Super Club, Liverpool, are 26 years without a title.

Bayern Munich, after years of everyone saying this is how you run a club seem to be intent in ripping themselves apart through internal politics. Whilst the famed Barcelona La Masia academy seems to be no longer producing world superstars.

Real Madrid sit 7 points off top and have won just 2 league titles in 10 years.

The two Milan clubs have also struggled since Juventus returned from the match fixing scandal.

These are all great clubs. They have the history, the success, the European trophies. Yet they are like every other club, they have good periods and bad periods.

Arsenal are not at that top table. We have never been, and whilst we wish we were at the top, the fact is we are the level below.

Every clubs have their troubles, no matter if they are a super club, the one we should all dream to become, the one which we all try and copy. No one is immune from a poor period, a period of turmoil.

Sean Dyche for Arsenal

So Ian Wright said Sean Dyche could be the next Arsenal manager. Whilst I agree that Arsenal legends should not be abused for their view, they are not free from criticism. And this view point is just a little bit silly from Ian Wright.

I have seen some fans backing him. “Anyone but that c**T Wenger” I saw one Facebook post from an admin of a page with 25,000 people. This is just stupidity.

The majority of us believe that Arsene Wenger’s time is over, but it should not be anyone but Wenger. This is just stupid.

When Wenger does go, we need to get an elite manager. A proven winner. Do not let your agenda lead you down a path of anyone but Wenger.

Jack Wilshere

After two poor England performances, where the side lacked creativity, plenty are calling for Jack Wilshere to be rushed back into the first team.

We all know that Wilshere is England’s best central midfielder, and if fit, starts. But let’s not rush him.

I would not play him in any international friendly until the World Cup preparation starts at the end of the season. Concentrate on letting him get fit, and stay fit. The 2 weeks off every few weeks will do him the world of good. Then at the World Cup, he will (hopefully) be fit and ready to go.

What is the point in playing him in meaningless friendlies?

Defensive Crisis

So Shkodran Mustafi pulled up with what looked like a hamstring problem for Germany against Azerbaijan. It has also been reported as a thigh strain.

With Laurent Koscielny plagued once more by his troublesome achilles, it is being reported that Arsenal face a defensive crisis ahead of the game against Watford.

The usual moaners are complaining that we did not buy a centre back in the summer.

If the above two are out, it still leaves us with Rob Holding, Per Mertesacker and Nacho Monreal as the back 3. That is the same back 3 that won us the FA Cup Final. And we still have Calum Chambers in reserve.

I would not be surprised if Koscielny is fit to start on Saturday. His withdrawal from the French squad is more of a precaution.

But if he is out, we are certainly not in a defensive crisis.

The International Break

Mixed results for Arsenal players, as Mohamed Elneny, Alex Iwobi, Olivier Giroud, Nacho Monreal and Alexandre Lacazette helped their countries qualify.

Meanwhile Aaron Ramsey Wales and Sead Kolasinac’s Serbia just missed out on a play off.

I did smile when I read the moody dog shagger Alexis Sanchez will not be at the World Cup. Call me petty, but whilst he (and Mesut Ozil) want out of Arsenal, I want as little success for the pair as possible – unless it is in an Arsenal shirt.

Keenos

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Arsenal correct to stop pursuit of Monaco star

£143,000,000 is a lot for any footballer. It is 66% more than the world record transfer fee that Manchester United recently paid for Paul Pogba.

For that price, you would expect Lionel Messi. Perhaps Neymar. At a stretch Gareth Bale or Luis Suarez. It is possibly a bit too much for 32 year old Cristiano Ronaldo.

In summary, for a world record price, you would expect one of the best players in the world. An established global superstar. Someone who will come in and win you the league. Will score near enough a goal a game. Will break all sorts of goal scoring records.

What you would not expect for that price is an 18 year old striker with just 19 starts in the French Ligue 1. But that is what Kylian Mbappe is set to go for.

Now there is no doubting his potential. He is an extremely gifted player with a bright future, if everything works out. But What Real Madrid and others are paying for is not an established star, but for what he might become.

There are a lot of obstacles from being a talented youngster to becoming a global superstar.

When you look at the winners of the Golden Ball since its inception in 2003, how many of the players have kicked on to become a truly global superstar.

Now I am not talking about just become a very good player, I am talking about becoming one of the best in the world. The level where you are being considered for the Ballon d’Or. That they are considered in not just the top 2 players in their position, but they are considered as one of the best players in the world, regardless of their position.

Of the 14 players to have won the Golden Ball, only really Lionel Messi has gone on to become a legend of the game. Sergio Aguero is borderline. I probably would consider him one of the greatest strikers of the last 8 years- although injury has probably held him back from reaching the top bracket.

Injury, one of the many things that can stop a player going from being a top youngster to a global superstar. What ha soften set the likes of Messi and Ronaldo apart is their fitness record. Over the last 10 years, Messi has averaged 50 games a season for the last 10 years. Ronaldo has averaged 50 games a year since he joined Manchester United, way back in 2003.

Since joining Manchester City, Sergio Aguero has averaged 40 games a season, and that is what has held him back.

The likes of Wayne Rooney & Cesc Fabregas have had glorious careers. But you feel they peaked in their early 20s and never really kicked on to be amongst the best global players of their generation.

Rafael van der Vaart ended up with a bit of a journeyman career.

Anderson, Alexandre Pato and Mario Balotelli all highlight that being a top youngster does not always guarantee being a top senior pro. All have had big money transfer. They are aged between 26 and 29 and should in the peak of their careers.

Anderson (29) is currently at Brazilian side Coritiba, on loan from Internacional. Mario Balotelli (26) is playing for Nice in France. And Alexandre Pato (27), plays for Tianjin Quanjian in China.

Isco is a slow burner. He took a bit of a wrong move joining Real Madrid, where he struggled to break through, but he is now flourishing. But I doubt if he will ever reach the level that Cesc Fabregas was at his best, let alone the level of a Xavi or Iniesta, and certainly not reach the heights of a Zinedine Zidane.

The likes of Mario Götze and Raheem Sterling have certainly not lived up to their big billing as a teenager. Gotze dumped by Bayern Munich after a big money transfer, Sterling just not pushed on since joining Manchester City. Renato Sanches and Anthony Martial are both in danger of following the same route.

Then you have Paul Pogba. A bit of an enigma. The current holder of the world record transfer fee. At times he is unplayable. A mix of strength and technique. But he has yet to do what Yaya Toure did. And is not yet fit to clean Patrick Vieira’s boots. For him to justify his transfer fee, he has to surpass these two players achievements.

So the road to stardom is not guaranteed for Kylian Mbappe. At £144m, Real Madrid, Man City, or whoever buys him, will be paying for what he might become. They are spending the big money on the basis that they hope he is a 50-goal a season man by the time he is 21. The heir apparent to Cristiano Ronaldo’s throne.

But he is not yet Cristiano Ronaldo. He scored just 15 league goals last season. He still has a long way to go. He is not the even the best striker in Ligue 1 – last season he finished behind Edison Cavani, Alexandre Lacazette, Radamel Falcao and Swansea flop Bafétimbi Gomis in the top scorer charts.

Mbappe was level with previous top youngster Balotelli, Newcastle flop Florian Thauvin and Ivan Santini, whoever that is.

Would you be happy spending £144m on Balotelli, Thauvin or Santini? The answer would be no. You would be disappointed if your side spent anymore than £20m on those players.

You would not consider paying above £60m for Cavani. Arsenal signed the superior Lacazette for around £45m. And how much would you be willing to splash out on previous Premier League flops Falcao and Gomis?

So Real Madrid (or whoever go’s for Mbappe) is certainly not paying the £144m Mbappe as the player he is now, but as the player that Mbappe could become. And as we have established, there is no guarantee of a top youth player becoming a top player.

For someone like Arsenal, not signing Mbappe is the right move.

If he becomes a £144m player, then fair enough. We will all moan about how we could have signed him in 2016 for £265k – although I do not know why this criticism is always labelled at Arsenal, every club could have got him for this amount in 2016. Mbappe decided to stay. Arsenal did not miss out.

But if (for example) he stays at Monaco for a year, and he fails to score 30 league goals, would he still be worth £144m? Or would that price start to dwindle a bit to represent his true value rather than his potential?

And if he joins Real Madrid (or Manchester City, or whoever) for £144m, and flops, he will be available in a couple of years for half the price, or more. If he does not score that 50 goals a season, does not break into that top bracket, he will still be a top player, but his value would then represent what he is actually worth, not what he might be worth.

To finish, a story of a young lad from Chester. The year was 1997. He was just about to have his breakthrough season. He was just 17.

At 18 he had the world at his feet. He had scored 23 goals in 44 games in the 1997/98 season for his boyhood club. That summer he was to score a wonder goal for his country at the World Cup. He exploded into the world’s conscience.

What followed were 4 injury hit seasons, when only once did he play over 30 league games. He never once scored over 20 league goals, and by 24 his hamstrings were shot. His fitness did not stop him getting a big money move at 24 to Real Madrid. He lasted a single season before being sold to Newcastle. A talented player, but he could not get fit.

He ended up finishing his career at Stoke City.

At 18 he was expected to become a world great. Break every record going. Lead Liverpool to multiple titles. It is ironic that his only league title came at bitter rivals Manchester United as a bit part player. And whilst he won the Ballon d’Or in 2001 at just 21, you feel his career never reached the heights expected as a 18 year old.

Michael Owen could have been one of the greatest of all time. But he never lived to his potential.

At £144m, I would expect to be getting the real deal. Not some youngster with potential. Arsenal are best off missing out.

Keenos

Arsenal target Real Madrid Galactico

Back in 2013, I predicted early in the summer transfer window that Arsenal were going to sign Mesut Ozil.

It had nothing to do with being “in the know” (ITK) or having any sort of inside knowledge, it was just an educated guess.

With a squad already containing Mesut Ozil, Cristiano Ronaldo and Angel di Maria playing behind Karim Benzema up top, Madrid had already invested €30M in 21 year old Spanish talent Isco. When I made the prediction over Ozil, they were making it clear Gareth Bale was going to be their Galatico signing of 2013.

What I foresaw was the Bale joining would leave 5 players – Ozil, Ronaldo, di Maria, Isco and Bale – fighting it out for 3 places. Players of that calibre do not sit on the bench. 5 into 3 does not go.

You could immediately strike a line through the recently signed Isco and Cristiano Ronaldo. Isxo would be happy to site behind Bale (et al) in the pecking order and Cristiano Ronaldo was, well, Cristiano Ronaldo.

Logic dictated that either Ozil or di Maria was likely to be the one cast aside. I tossed a coin and it came up Ozil. Incidentally it than transpired that both di Maria and Ozil were offered around Europe and di Maria left the next season to make way for James Rodriguez.

I looked at the sides who could afford Mesut Ozil around Europe. Italian teams could not afford him, Bayern Munich had just spent big on Mario Gotze. That left England.

Manchester Cuity already had David Silva, Samir Nasri & Yaya Toure. Chelsea had Eden Hazard, Oscar, Juan Mata, Frank Lampard and had just signed Andre Schurle and Willian. Manchester United had just parted ways with Sir Alex Ferguson, replacing him with David Moyes.

This left his most natural destination as Arsenal, if we were willing to fork out the money.

This season, I see a similar situation transpiring at Real Madrid.

Over the course of the season, Gareth Bale has lost his place in the Real Madrid side to the now fully developed Isco. Injury to Bale gave Isco his chance and he has taken it. He has now developed into one of Madrid’s stand out players. This leaves Bale in a situation that, upon regaining his fitness, he finds himself behind Isco, James Rodriguez, Karim Benzema and Cristiano Ronaldo for a starting place.

With Real Madrid’s transfer ban set to expire on 1st July, they will look to move for a big name, marquee player straight away. That player will likely be a forward. Probably Eden Hazard? It will leave them in a situation similar to that in 2013, where they will have to get rid of either Isco or Gareth Bale to make space for a new player.

Gareth Bale has already been heavily linked with Manchester United. It is supposedly his favoured destination. But with Manchester United also heavily linked with Antoine Griezmann – their number one target – and looking to secure Ivan Perisic in the next few days, the squad places for Bale look limited. Add in Paul Pogba and Henrikh Mkhitaryan, I struggle to see where Bale would fit if they get Griezmann.

Obviously all bets are off in Atletico Madrid keep Griezmann – likely due to their transfer ban. Bale will then become Manchester United’s primary target.

With Manchester United off the table, that would still leave Chelsea, Manchester City and Bayern Munich as interested parties – I still do not believe Italian teams can afford his transfer cost and wages.

Man City have just spent big on Bernard Silva. With Raheem Sterling, Kevin de Bruyne, David Silva, Gabriel Jesus, Sergio Aguero and Leeroy Sane in their squad, it would leave them in a situation like Real Madrid. They would have to sell one of their current established players to make space for Bale. I can not see it happening.

Chelsea could do a deal to bring Bale back to London with Eden Hazard going the other way. It is a deal I could see happening.

Over in Germany, Bayern Munich are looking for a long term replacement for Franck Ribery and Arjen Robben. They have recently invested time and money in Douglas Costa and Kinsley Coman, but a senior, proven forward would still be essential.

There first choice would be Alexis Sanchez.

If Sanchez does go to Bayern Munich, another door closes on Bale. But as another door closes, one will open. And that door is at Arsenal.

If Sanchez ends up in Germany next season, Arsenal need to make a big name signing to replace him. Like in 2013 when all the cards fell in place leading Ozil to join Arsenal from Madrid, the could happen again with Gareth Bale.

With Aaron Ramsey already at the club, and Bale already having lived in London for a few years, a move to Arsenal would interest him.

Arsenal can afford the transfer fee, and afford the wages. And what a statement that would make. One of the best players in the world, and someone who used to star for your rivals.

Could Arsenal end up with Gareth Bale in 2017/18? It could happen.

Of course, one thing that could stop it happening is if Real Madrid decide not to sell him. If that happens, it would mean that Isco could be the one that is moved on. If Bale stays, simply re-read the above but change the name ‘Bale’ for ‘Isco’.

Arsenal would make a huge statement if they signed either rIsco or Bale for Real Madrid, even if either Alexis Sanchez or Mesut Ozil left the club.

It is going to be an exciting summer (hopefully) for Arsenal.

Keenos