All posts by Matt Carter

Under the spotlight: Stefan de Vrij set to light up the Premier League? (Video)

Stefan de Vrij may not be a defender many Premier League fans have heard of, but you very soon will do.

He is one of the youngest ever captains of Feyenoord and represented the Netherlands from U-17 level right through to earning 3 full international caps.

Th 6 ft 2 imposing centre back has become one of the jewels of the Eredivisie and he has caught the attention of clubs in England most notably Liverpool and Newcastle.

He has already made 106 appearances for Feyenoord and has already done enough to show that he is ready to make the step up.

The centre back has a keen eye for spotting any potentials and put his foot in to make those crucial interventions and is believed to want to make the step up to one of Europe’s finest leagues.

It is no secret that Premier League clubs are looking to Holland to search for bargains this summer and this player will certainly feature prominently on a lot of manager’s lists.

De Vrij’s contract is due to expire in 2014 and he has yet to agree an extension and with his current employers keen to not lose him for free they could be willing to accept a fee as low as £4-5 million.

If you are still not convinced check out this clip below exhibitioning his skills:

Has the Europa League saved Pardew?

It is a point of contention a lot of Newcastle fans may not have considered until recently, but having reached the last 16 of Europe’s un-fancied competition has added a gloss to their season in the North East.

Pardew has consistently spoken about how it has been difficult to juggle the competition with so many injuries, but whilst the threat of relegation has always been a flirtation rather than a genuine reality, winning the Europa League is a huge possibility.

There may be those that never even thought that sacking Pardew was necessary, but had Newcastle just had a mid-table showing for their efforts this season you suspect the former Southampton and West Ham boss would be under heavy fire.

The doubters of the 51-year-old would have been able to say that Newcastle just were a one season wonder and that Pardeux as he’s called upon Tyneside these days got lucky and stole the team spirit that Chris Hughton had already developed.

It may have been a difficult season for the Magpies but managing to beat Metalist away in Ukraine and beat Southampton only 3 days later shows great composure and improvement from the squad.

There is a long term plan to have a squad that can deal with European football and reaching the later stages of this with the new French signings as well as clawing themselves away from relegation has shown that the future can be bright under Mr Pardew after all.

Will Pochettino’s language barrier become an issue?

The 40-year-old Southampton boss suffered a frustrating loss to Newcastle United on the weekend as the Saints still found themselves firmly in the relegation mire.

It is clear that there is plenty of potential with young stars such as Luke Shaw as well as established talent in the shape of Rickie Lambert, but having decent players hasn’t always stopped players going down.

In the final 11 games of the season communication and togetherness will be absolutely essential for the South Coast team to maintain Premier League status.
There have been fears that the Argentine might not be able to get his message across but he needs to ensure that the intensity remains the same as under Nigel Adkins.

The loss this weekend was a lost opportunity to put some daylight between them and those at the bottom of the table, but they will have to fight the hard way.

It is clear that the language barrier is an obstacle. The Saints boss can barely speak a word of English but these are professional footballers who should understood the role they have to play for their club.

They may have a manager adapting to the English game but if they are to ensure they aren’t sucked into the relegation battle, they need to make sure their defence doesn’t keep leaking like a sieve conceding 4 goals.

Is it now or never for Dzeko?

It is something that must be firmly in the minds of all those in the blue half of Manchester. It is clear that Roberto Mancini took a gamble in sanctioning the move of Balotelli in January.

After the enigmatic Italian was sold his former boss even admitted that it was a wrench to let go his unbelievable talent.

This, though, meant that Edin Dzeko has been left to step up to the mark. If he is to secure a starting line up spot every week now is the time. He may have the formidable task of ousting one of Tevez or Aguero but it is difficult to force your way in at any top club.

Dzeko knows that he is the only real back up City have to their main pairing and he will have a huge role to play from now until the end of the season.

There will be games where he will have to continue to start from the bench but he still has to prove his capability to deliver as part of a front four.

Last summer Mancini missed out on his chief attacking targets and you can be sure that he will not repeat the same mistakes this time around.

There will be a headline name entering the Etihad and if Dzeko is not going to be cast aside when this happens he needs to cast any doubt as to why his employers forked out £25 million + for his services in the first place.

Will Mauro Icardi be the next star to grace the Premier League?(Video)

Mauro Icardi is another player who was put out on loan with very little expected of him from Barcelona but now they may sit up and take notice. They should have seen the warning signs after letting him leave for a nominal 400,000 euros in summer after an ominous 13 goals in 19 games in the 2011-2012 season.

Icardi is now plying his trade with Sampdoria in Serie A and has dazzled in his 19 League appearances scoring an impressive 9 goals and more is expected to come.

The Catalan club may have vast tools at their disposal not to worry so much about this player but the Premier League should be on red alert.

IIcardi is certainly capable of competing with the best and his two goal brace against Juventus in a 2-1 victory on 6th January proved that he can deliver against the World’s elite teams.

He was chased by Arsenal and Liverpool before he initially signed for Barcelona and they may just fancy a second bite of the cherry with this young striker.

The Argentina U20 starlet is already being tipped for stardom in his native South America and having scored 3 goals in 5 matches at this level you can see why.

For those that still need convincing check out this video below:

Is Samba a waste of money?

The QPR defender has been criticised for making his move to Capital this January on a hefty 100k-a-week and prospects of survival supposed to weigh on his large shoulders.

People do forget that he was relegated before and it is not out of the question that it can happen to him again.

Whilst you have to personally question Samba’s motives for joining QPR and whether he sees himself playing the rest of his career there. The West London side though had to gamble.

The issue has been brought to light as Remy has become injured as expected and the R’s still sit miserably at the bottom of the Premier League. Ryan Nelsen too left a gaping hole in the defence which had to be replaced.

The £12.5 million fee may have made some baulk but there is a lot at stake, it may be a smokescreen to claim that he will get that back at the end of the season if they go down but with the Premier League TV money set to rise yet again, its a fair purchase when QPR needed it.

Chris Samba’s potential to deliver is not an issue as he has done at Blackburn before. The problem with QPR is they have been forced into short term planning.

Redknapp’s real task is to make a team out of individuals and ensure there is cohesion and work out which players on his books are ready to roll up their sleeves and be ready for the task.

It appears too many at Loftus Road want to pass the buck onto someone else and live off their reputation knowing if QPR going down somebody would want to bring them in.

Many can be accused of that, but not Chris Samba.


Is Germany an untapped market?

There has been a lot of discussion recently of how the French league and Spanish leagues have been providing good value for money with players such as Michu and Sissoko for the Premier League.

In spite of this doesn’t the Premier League need to remember surely quality is better than quality. The Bundesliga is brimming with talent at the moment and there is plenty of German talent waiting to light up the Premier League.

Whilst the top talents in England, such as Wilfried Zaha and Jordan Henderson, came at a premium and could provide very little success, the German leagues equivalents can deliver.

The likes of the native Mario Gotze or the Polish Robert Lewandowski have shown in Europe and in the League that they can light up any stage whether it be the Champions League or abroad.

The contract situations that cause headaches for clubs happen in the Bundesliga too, you just need to look at Lewis Holtby’s bargain £1.5 million transfer to Tottenham for evidence of bargains to be had.

The likes of Klopp and Guardiola are going to ensure the development of youth and there will be plenty of young talent in the League so the Premier League would be stupid to turn their noses away from it.

Bayern Munich this evening will be sure to show just what the Premier League could tuck into if they splash the cash.

Should Brendan Rodgers go back?

There has been much debate as to how Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers has failed to implement his five year plan on Merseyside straight away but are his answers back in South Wales.

The Northern Irishman appears to be looking at several Swansea players as he plans to resurrect his side for a top four push next season.

Michael Laudrup after all his managed to inspire his charges to a Capital One Cup final and sit pretty in the top half of the table.

Rodgers is reported to be looking at Ashley Williams amongst others, maybe he should start realising what job he is in.

Swansea may be achieving well above what their targets were at the beginning of the season, but at Anfield the goal posts are far higher.

Talk of the long term and padding a team out with top half players won’t do they need to be elite. He should have learn’t his lesson by now with his £15 million purchase of Joe Allen.

Brendan Rodgers seemingly got away with missing out on another former Swan in Gylfi Sigurdsson who has hardly set the world alight since moving to White Hart Lane.

Instead of focussing on what went well for him in the past which seems to be a familiar trend at Anfield.

He should focus away from the Swansea style and actually ensure Liverpool have a regular goal threat, as well as ensuring his defenders perform to the high reputations they have every week.