Thursday, July 26, 2012

Dexter Rosales - modern day football scam!

A while ago I wrote a post about Ali Dia, the greatest scam the Premier League (and probably world Football) had ever seen. To think that such an event could occur in one of the world's best leagues is unthinkable in this day and age with the internet and all other forms of communication; but it seems that some people out there have had their own attempt at hoaxing a football club and it has worked.

Australian football club Adelaide United recently announced that they had two top talents joining their club on trial. Firstly they said that Fabio Ferreira (ex-Chelsea) was joining the club on trial, which is all fine and secondly they said that a player called Dexter Rosales, who was supposedly an ex-Ajax, Valencia and River Plate player, would be joining them.

A club statement said: "Their pedigree is good and we've got to cast the net far and wide, so they'll come here on trial and we'll have a look at them. Rosales has been recommended to us and he's paying his own way here".

Now this is where the story gets funny. There is no Dexter Rosales. He doesn't exist. Apparently some hoaxers on the internet created a player profile on Wikipedia as well (with the picture of a former Ajax player called Mauro Rosales) and went on to send letters to Adelaine United to get a trial. They provided fake reports, recommendation letters, testimonies...the whole pack, which the club ridiculously fell for and actually announced publicly. Apparently they made this guy sound so good that the club didn't even need actual evidence to give him a trial. That's how bloody precise everything they provided must have been!

They've had to state an apology to all saying "it has been a strange few days with all the speculation around this mystery man - it doesn't look great from our end. We're not the first club to be given a false lead with a supposed trialist, but other clubs probably just don't promote it to the world like we did."

To add insult to the injury - Ajax, Valencia and River Plate all released statements to confirm that there has never been a Dexter Rosales to have ever played for their clubs. Ouch!

Ali Dia must be feeling really proud now!

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Transfer market nonsense

Rumors, rumors, rumors...that's all we get when there's no Football during this long summer period without the game. But all it has taken is one move to get the whole world talking and creating stories. So here is a potential lowdown of what might happen...or just a bunch of hypothetical conclusions.

This big Euro orgy of a transfer market all started with 2 moves:

- Zlatan and Silva moved to PSG, leaving AC Milan in need of a man up front and a couple needed at the back.

- Now that they have the cash, AC Milan are rumored to be going for Berbatov and Van Persie. But they could also be moving for their former hero and talisman Kaka.

- Should Kaka indeed leave Real Madrid, this opens up the door for Los Blancos to sign Luka Modric.

- Since that move looks more and more likely to happen, Tottenham will be looking to replace the Croatian maestro and a move for Nuri Sahin might be an option.

- But Spurs are also being heavily linked with AVB's former midfield man at Porto Joao Moutinho.

- While some activity has already taken place at White Hart Lane with the signings of Sigurdsson and Vertonghen, their North London neighbors are still weeping at the idea that their captain (again) is on the verge of a move.

- Robin Van Persie is looking for a way out of the Emirates Stadium, with the potential suitors being Manchester United, Manchester City and Juventus.

- Given the fact that City have got a transfer kitty big enough to make the GDP's of most countries frown, they're the likely favorites. But with Aguero, Tevez, Balotelli and Dzeko as their front line, where would RVP fit?

- It'll only make sense if they get rid of Edin Dzeko, as he's the least favorite among the quartet. Where'll he go? Well, the AC Milan option seems to make a lot of sense given that they need a targetman.

....or all of these players could just be holding out for bigger contracts (a-la-Rooney), or a move to China, and this post is absolutely useless. Your call.

Friday, July 13, 2012

The best league in the world is ... ?

Comparing leagues has always been something I've found difficult, and yesterday when the news was being leaked that Zlatan Ibrahimovich and Thiago Silva were being sold by AC Milan to Paris St Germain, some people debated about whether a move to Ligue 1 is a step that any top professional should take because of the standard of the French league.

Is it any better than Serie A? Is the move simply money-motivated? While tons of other questions can be asked, it would be a big mistake to disregard the Ligue 1 as weak. Actually with the exception of the Scottish Premier League, I find it hard to diss most top leagues and particularly to compare them. Every single league has its own characteristics which defines the style of play and standard it has.

The English Premier League might be the quickest and thus makes it the most entertaining league of all; but only 5 different winners in 20 years suggests that it isn't necessarily the most competitive. The Spanish league could be considered the most stylish of all, with players given a lot of time on the ball to showcase the skills they have, while the big 2 are pretty much given walkovers throughout the season. It has become a bit too predictable. The Italian Serie A is often labelled as boring, whereas in truth the games are so tight that the "1-0" results that seem to stereotype that league don't occur because of the supposed "boring football", but rather because of how close the games are in the league. The German Bundesliga, in my opinion at least, has the highest level of play of all. Free flowing Football is commonplace and the unpredictability of it all makes it more interesting...that's of course, without going into the details of the stadium atmosphere and ticket prices which are far superior to most other top European leagues.

And then comes the French Ligue 1, where Zlatan and Silva will normally ply their trade next season. A league where the gap between the top clubs and the bottom clubs was never defined by money or other corrupt values, but simply by what happens on the pitch. With the arrival of PSG's new owners a year ago, that's all about to change. More foreign investors will be encouraged to invest in French clubs once they see that the PSG model is working and successful. Buying a club on the cheap and investing millions while reaping the rewards can only make financial sense. The league itself might be the most open league of all, despite the standard of play not being as high as elsewhere, but nobody can predict what happens on a game by game basis. Could anyone have predicted at the start of last season that Montpellier would be Champions? I strongly doubt it.  That's the beauty of the French league and that's why it shouldn't be disregarded. This is why there is no "best league in the world". Every single league has got different aspects which make them more or less appealing to a different audience (let's not forget the marketing aspects of it all).

So while there are a lot of moans and groans about 2 of Europe's biggest stellar names heading to the French capital, this will not be the first time such a move occurs. PSG will raise the standard of the entire league by using the model that the majority of Europe's top clubs are using and it won't be long before other French clubs follow suit. When that happens, not if, then not only will we be looking at the most open league in Europe, but probably the most appealing one. The French may take their time to do their stuff, but when they do something good, they do it very good. This is only the beginning, not for PSG, but for French Football as a whole. Don't disregard the French Ligue 1 yet...

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Déjà-vu for Arsenal fans as another hero wants to leave

So Robin Van Persie won’t renew his contract at Arsenal. Was anyone expecting otherwise? Sure, the headline may make some stories, but if Arsenal, and Mr Wenger in particular, have proven anything down the years, it’s that no star player gets his chance post-29 years old and they cash in when they expect the player’s level, and especially, his value to drop afterwards. The rule is being applied to Robin Van Persie.

Correct me if I’m wrong, but for the exceptional cases of Samir Nasri (money-related), Ashley Cole (money-related) and Cesc Fabregas (include your own reasoning here), who themselves pushed to leave the club, whenever Arsenal have let go of a player, they’ve done it with a certain age-model in mind. You can argue about some of the signings they’ve made of players close to their thirties, but how often have those players gone on to last long at the club? Those have either been panic-buys (see Arteta) or plan B buys (see Benayoun).

Below are a few examples of incredibly important Arsenal players who were all sold when they reached the 29-30 year old period of their careers. In other words, having reached or just finished their career peaks only to go on and flounder elsewhere:

Patrick Vieira - 2005 - 29 years old
Emmanuel Petit - 2000 - 30 years old
Marc Overmars - 2000 - 28 years old
Freddie Ljunberg - 2007 - 30 years old
Thierry Henry - 2007 - 30 years old
Lauren - 2006 - 29 years old
Nwankwo Kanu - 2004 - 29 years old
Sylvain Wiltord - 2004 - 30 years old
Sol Campbell - 2006 - 31 years old
Kolo Toure - 2009 - 29 years old

Why should Robin Van Persie be treated any differently by the club? He’s in his last year of his contract, he’s just had one very good season and is about to hit the 29-30 year old margin which Arsenal use a threshold for when to sell a player. The time to cash in on him is now. Arsenal have sold bigger players in the past and managed to move on, why shouldn’t they do the same again?

Right now, Arsenal are left with 3 options for Van Persie: the first option is to stand still. Keep him for his last season and during that entire time hope that results on the pitch will persuade him to stay on and sign a new contract, thus increasing his market value if indeed they do want to sell. The second option is similar to option one, but with the acceptance and knowledge that he’ll leave for free (people forget they bought him for only 2.75 million, so the loss financially is peanuts). The third and final option, which has become synonymous with Mr Wenger over the past few years, is sell him to the highest bidder (which always seems to be Manchester City).

Gooners must be feeling a bitter taste of déjà-vu with this scenario. Their top player wants to leave to fulfill his career ambitions, basically saying that he has no hope of winning silverware by staying at the club. Sounds familiar? You bet. The thing Arsenal fans have to consider though is that they shouldn’t get carried away by the emotions of the 1 good season their talisman has given them. He’s always been there and doing the job when fit, but last season was the first time in his entire career that Van Persie played more than 30 league games! And he’s soon 29! It was an exceptional season and one that will no doubt be difficult to reproduce. He’s always had niggling injuries that have prevented him from performing to his full potential. He’s now done that once. Can he do it again? Is it worth taking the risk of finding out, knowing that they could grab a good 20 million for him right now?

One question that remains, if indeed RVP does leaves, is where will he go? If he goes to Manchester City, he’ll just be another squad member. Juventus? Maybe, but how will he fare in Italian Football? I’d be surprised if Barca or Real snapped him because of their already star-studded front lines. My bet is on PSG. I might probably be wrong, but it’s just a feeling.

Or he might just be pulling a Rooney...if you know what I mean. 

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

The return of AVB

He must be rubbing his hands with glee at the prospect of returning to the Premier League. Andres Villas-Boas signed a 3-year contract with Tottenham 
yesterday to replace the bizarrely sacked Harry Redknapp in what seems like a bold move by the White Hart Lane board. Will he succeed? Will this move flop? Will they give him more time than Chelsea did?

A lot of questions will be asked of AVB at the start of his Spurs tenure but he will be a man with a point to prove. A young and enthusiastic manager, AVB was thrown in the deep end when he took over at Chelsea - a club surrounded by massive egos and a Russian owner ready to chop anyone's head (the same man that sacked Jose Mourinho 2 months into the 2007-08 season). Within 8 months of his time at Stamford Bridge, and whilst trying desperately to impose his rules and style of play, he was shown the back door and Chelsea never looked back by going on to win the Champions League and the FA Cup while AVB was left flat on his behind.

Most Blues' fans think very lowly of the young Portuguese manager, but his track record speaks for itself and Daniel Levy will have done his homework well enough to know that AVB is a man with long-term plans and should be given time. That very "time" is something that was given to Redknapp before him and which he will benefit from. AVB's failures at Chelsea will now have given him invaluable experience about how to handle the Premier League and its press vultures when his side's backs will be up against the wall. He will be a stronger man and a better manager because of his failure at Chelsea that's for sure.

He's taking over a side that has the potential to reach incredible heights but was often limited by Redknapp's refusal to alter a winning formula by keeping his motto of "if something isn't broken, then don't fix it" while waiting for his players' legs to wear out during the course of a season.

AVB will do it right I think. Whether Modric stays or leaves isn't even a problem for him given that, truth be told, over the past few months his form has been mediocre. This new page of Spurs' future is going to be an interesting one. Time will tell whether AVB will finally prove his doubters in England wrong...