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Ernesto Valverde Turned Barcelona’s Midfield Into A Game Of Russian Roulette

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Ernesto Valverde Turned Barcelona's Midfield Into A Game Of Russian Roulette 1

After the Anfield debacle in 2018/19, Ernesto Valverde was under pressure from Barcelona supporters, and he couldn’t have wished for a worse start to the 2019/20 season, and amidst all the pressure to correct matters, the former Athletic Club coach has turned the Blaugrana’s midfield into a game of Russian roulette.

Having options to choose from is usually something which a coach welcomes, but with Los Cules having significantly strengthened in the midfield with the additions of Arthur Melo and Frenkie de Jong over the past two years, Valverde is now somewhat overstocked in midfield.

Rafinha Alcantara was dispensed with and sent on loan to Celta Vigo, whilst Andre Gomes was allowed to make his loan move with Everton a permanent transfer, yet still, Valverde maybe has too many options to choose from.

Now, this wouldn’t necessarily be an issue if the Catalan giants had started the season perfectly and had a settled trio in the middle of the pitch, but with results have been a real mixed bag, the Spanish coach doesn’t know which combination of midfielders he can trust.

Valverde hasn’t used the same midfield three in more than two consecutive matches this term, and in just six matches in all competitions he has already produced four different combinations in the middle of the pitch.

At their absolute peak under Pep Guardiola and Luis Enrique, Barcelona’s midfield was the envy of world football with the consistent selection of Sergio Busquets, Xavi, and Andres Iniesta being as good as what any team has put together throughout the sport’s history.

Let’s just put this into perspective, Cesc Fabregas couldn’t get into that team on a regular basis, Cesc Fabregas, one of Arsenal‘s greatest ever players.

The problem for Valverde is that there is no such reliable combination of midfielders in 2019, and there are positives and negatives for each player:

Sergio Busquets

Even though there has been a clear decline in his performance level in recent times, the veteran still seems fundamental to the system. Curiously, he didn’t play against either Granada or Athletic Club and Barcelona lost both of those games.

Frenkie de Jong

The Dutchman has perhaps been the shining light of the campaign to this point. He has started in six matches this season and is the only guarantee in Valverde’s selections, and rightly so. Whilst he has looked tidy in possession, he is a victim of a team that doesn’t quite know how they want to play. He has yet to play as well for Barcelona as he did for Ajax.

Sergi Roberto

After years of playing as a wing-back, the Spaniard has finally been given a chance in his preferred midfield position, yet he has remained as inconsistent as he was on the flank.

Arthur Melo

The Brazilian missed the first matches due to injury, and he played stunningly well against Osasuna and Borussia Dortmund. He is always neat in possession and makes Valverde’s Barcelona look like a Barcelona we all recognize, yet the Spanish coach elected not to use him when he was at his best moment in the defeat to Granada, a decision which was beyond comprehension.

Ivan Rakitic

A victim of the transfer carousel that never really span. Ever since he refused to consider a move to PSG in the summer, the Croatian has been ostracised and has barely featured this term.

Carles Alena

He has been both seen and unseen. From being a starter in the opening LaLiga Santander match, the La Masia graduate has been left in the stands and on the bench. Without an explanation, he has been taken out of the first team’s list of options.

Arturo Vidal

The Chilean is an emergency resource for Valverde. He is a player who could have been sold in the summer but a deal never materialized and he is now paying the price. Only when things are absolutely catastrophic is Vidal seen as a viable option.

 

Source: Marca

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Bundesliga

Super League: Respect & Dialogue Needed To Restore Normality

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Super League: Respect & Dialogue Needed To Restore Normality

The FIFA President emphasized his full support to the European sports model, a successful model of openness and inclusivity, promotion and relegation, disapproving the concept of Super League

President Gianni Infantino has called for respect and dialogue as he expressed FIFA’s strong disapproval of the proposed European Superleague project, and has requested that the concerned parties consider their position in line with respecting the institutions that exist to protect the interest of national, European, and global football.

“FIFA is an organization which is built on values, the true values of sport,” said the FIFA President in his address to the 45th Ordinary UEFA Congress in Montreux, Switzerland.

“It is an organization that is built on our statutes, the statutes that define the institutional framework, with the pyramid, with FIFA, the confederations, the associations, the leagues, the clubs, the players. And at FIFA, we can only strongly disapprove of the creation of a super league which is a closed shop, which is a breakaway from the current institutions, from the leagues, from the associations, from UEFA, and from FIFA, which is outside of the system. There is no doubt whatsoever of FIFA’s disapproval for this.”

The FIFA President emphasized his full support to the European sports model, a successful model of openness and inclusivity, promotion and relegation, and a model that he promoted in his 16 years at UEFA:

“FIFA is here, and I am here today as FIFA President, to bring full support to European football, to UEFA, and the 55 member associations of UEFA and of FIFA, to the leagues, clubs, players, and to fans. To all the fans, all over Europe, and actually all over the world as well.”

“We can see that there is a lot to throw away for the short-term financial gain of some,” the FIFA President added. “People need to think very carefully, they need to reflect, and they need to assume responsibility. They need to think not only of their shareholders, but they need to think about all the people, of all the fans, of all those who have contributed to making European football what it is today. It goes back not only decades, it goes back more than one hundred years. People – with love, with passion, with commitment – have created all this. And we need to protect this. It is our task.”

READ ALSO: FIFA Congress To Decide Future Host Of Women’s World Cup

“FIFA is a democratic organization, an organization that is open,” the FIFA President concluded. “Everyone can bring ideas and proposals, but always with respect for the institutions, leagues, associations, UEFA, and FIFA.

With respect for the history and with the respect for the passion of so many people around the world. I understand as well that on these particular days, emotions are very high, but we need to always keep the line. Football is hope, and it is our responsibility to make hope a reality. So we hope that everything will go back to normal and that everything will be settled, but always with acting responsibly, with respect, with solidarity, and always in the interest of national, European, and global football.”

 

 

 

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Europe

3 Premier League Flops Who Made It Big Elsewhere

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3 Premier League Flops Who Made It Big Elsewhere

The English Premier League has welcomed some of the best players in the history of football. Players from different continents have made a huge impact on the league with impressive performances. There are others who failed to impress and can be termed as flops.

The League is quite unique from other European leagues. It is more competitive, fierce, physically challenging in nature. Needless to say, a player who isn’t mentally and physically geared up for this will stumble under the pressure.

Established stars can fall by the wayside with their former successes and triumphs becoming nothing more than a footnote in the EPL. Impressively, some of these players put in impressive performances when they moved to other leagues.

3 Premier League Flops Who Made It Big In Other Leagues

  • Paulinho

3 Premier League Flops Who Made It Big Elsewhere

Following the impending sale of Gareth Bale to Real Madrid, Tottenham bought several players, one of the players they bought was Paulinho.

Paulinho was signed from Corinthians in Brazil where he helped them win the Copa Libertadores, Brasileirao, and the FIFA Club World Cup.

They defeated Chelsea in the latter to lift the trophy. Importantly, he had just won the FIFA Confederations Cup with Brazil and was voted as the third-best player at the tournament.

He joined Tottenham as the club’s record signing in 2013, so a lot was expected of him. However, his performance was not as impressive as the club had envisaged. He was later sold to Guangzhou Evergrande in China at a loss.

The Brazilian’s transfer to the Chinese league resulted in a change of fortunes, as helped the club claim the Chinese league and the AFC Champions League title in his first season.

In the second, he was voted into the Chinese League team of the year in recognition of his performance. Also, he won the league, FA Cup, and Super Cup.

Although critics downplayed his performance, citing the standard of the Chinese league compared to the English league, Paulinho impressed in Spain too following a €40 million move to Barcelona.

Paulinho helped the club claim the league and the Copa del Rey trophy. His performance in his only season with Barcelona impressed Ronaldinho who said: “He really stood out.”

  • Iago Aspas

3 Premier League Flops Who Made It Big Elsewhere

Most Premier League fan remembers Aspas only as a Liverpool flop with the number 9 jersey. Aspas moved from boyhood club Celta Vigo to Liverpool for a deal estimated to be around £7.7 m, with Liverpool hoping to have unearthed a gem. However, that gem turns dregs, failing to score in any of his 14 league appearances.

After just one season, Liverpool decided that they have seen enough so they sent him on a season-long loan to Sevilla with an obligation to buy. In his season-long loan at the club, he was the joint top scorer in the Copa del Rey alongside Neymar with 7 goals and won the UEFA Europa League.

At the end of his season-long loan at Sevilla, the club signed him from Liverpool but sold him to Celta Vigo in the same transfer window. In every of his first 5 seasons at Celta Vigo, he scored in double digits.

In fact, in three of the 5 seasons, he won the Zarra Trophy awarded to the Spanish player with the most league goals in a season. As of December 2020, Aspas had won La Liga player of the month four times.

READ ALSO: 10 Premier League Players With Most Own Goals

  • Diego Forlan

3 Premier League Flops Who Made It Big Elsewhere

Perhaps, the most notable and interesting English Premier League flop who became a star in another League. He was not just impressive in another league; he was extraordinary with his National team Uruguay.

Sir Alex Ferguson signed Forlan in 2001 following the attacker’s impressive form at Independiente in Argentina. In his first season in England, Forlan made 18 appearances but failed to score a single goal. The two seasons after were not impressive either, hence his transfer to Villarreal.

Impressively, Forlan scored 25 league goals in his first season with Villarreal and won the league’s top scorers award (2004/05). Also, he was awarded the European Golden Shoe award alongside Thierry Henry the same year. He left the club two seasons later for Atletico with 59 goals scored in 128 matches.

In his second season with Atletico Madrid (2008/09), Forlan beat Samuel Eto’o to the Spanish league’s top scorer’s award. He scored 32 league goals in 33 league appearances that season which earned him the Pichichi trophy. Again, he won the European Golden Shoe but this time it was not shared with anyone.

The next season (2009/10), Forlan played a key role as Atletico won the Europa League. He scored six times in the tournament, including two in the 2-1 win over Fulham in the final. He was voted as the man of the match in the final.

With his national team, he was just as impressive; he scored the most goals at the 2010 FIFA World Cup alongside Thomas Muller, Wesley Sneijder, and David Villa.

Furthermore, he was voted into the FIFA World Cup dream team and won the Golden Ball and goal of the tournament title. By the time he retired, he was Uruguay’s highest goal scorer in history, a record which has since been broken by Luis Suarez.

Forlan eventually became so good that some Football fans think he is the caliber of player that could have won the Ballon d’Or.

 

Conclusion

There are several reasons why players struggle when they change clubs, especially to other countries. Culture, language, teammates, family are some factors that can affect their performances.

These 3 cases show that a player may fail to perform in one league but go on to become a star in another league.

 

 

 

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