All posts by Tony Davies

United Spoilt For Choice At Left-Back – Why The Signing Of Luke Shaw Could Signal The End For Patrice Evra

After superb performances at left-back for Southampton, 18-year-old Luke Shaw was signed by Manchester United in June following England’s World Cup exit. Although very young, he has Premier League experience with the Saints and has already played at a World Cup, so everyone knows what he can do. Does this spell the end for Patrice Evra at Manchester United?

Patrice Evra signed for United from AS Monaco in 2006 and has been almost ever-present at left-back for them. In May of 2014 Evra extended his contract until the end of the 2014/15 season. This was seen as a bit of relief for United fans after what was a horrible season, as they also lost two of the best defenders to have graced Old Trafford in Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic.

Now that Luke Shaw has signed, it does look as though he will take Evra’s place on the left side of United’s defence. This could mean Evra has signed a contract to warm the bench for nine months. Personally, I think Evra should be a mentor to young Shaw, who is still at a very tender age.  The France international can help him to progress at such a big club, as he himself had to eight years ago. At the age of 33, it is unlikely that Evra would have been able to sign for a club as huge as the Red Devils, so maybe the defender was aware that the signing of Luke Shaw was imminent. Manchester United had been after him for some time, so it is possible that Evra knew he would not make the starting lineup anymore and he wanted the opportunity to be a mentor to the youngster.

It could even be the case that Shaw will have to impress before being given his chance and maybe it is not the end of Evra at left-back, but after signing for such a hefty fee it is unlikely that United’s new signing will be warming the bench too often.

Van Gaal Continues To Be Linked With Netherlands Players – Why The New Manchester United Boss Should Look Elsewhere

One of the perks of obtaining a manager who is currently managing in the World Cup is that they have a good relationship with their players and are in constant interaction with other stars. This can help when trying to purchase some of the talents who are participating in the competition. With so many success stories at this year’s edition in Brazil, Louis van Gaal has a pool of talent to dip his toes into.

However, could van Gaal be restricting himself somewhat? With the vast amount of players on show at this prestigious event, the new Manchester United boss appears to only be linked with those from his Netherlands squad. The Red Devils have been linked with Daryl Janmaat, Bruno Martins Indi, Stefan de Vrij, Arjen Robben and Daley Blind since the start of the World Cup, so it is quite possible that the Dutchman is aiming to add a couple of fresh faces from this Netherlands team. New reports today from SabotageTimes suggest that Dirk Kuyt is also on the list of players that van Gaal wants to sign from his World Cup squad.

While the Dutch squad is full of exciting talent that is just waiting to burst on to the Premier League scene, it could be argued that Manchester United are not looking in the right places if they are being linked with players like Dirk Kuyt. Although he is a good player and very much a team player, he is not what he used to be and I fail to see what he would add to the United squad.

Kuyt is surpringly versatile as he has played striker and full-back this summer, but beyond that he does not offer much except Premier League experience. If van Gaal wants a cheap and reasonably experienced forward then there are so many more to choose from at the World Cup. Christian Bolanos of Costa Rica has been impressive and that is only one of the options United’s new manager could explore.

Gunners Eye Levante Goalkeeper – Why Costa Rican Star Should Reject A Move To Arsenal

The Gunners are currently in possession of just one first team goalkeeper. It shouldn’t take anyone long to realise that Arsenal will almost certainly sign a new one this summer and if the club don’t then Arsene Wenger would be making a big mistake. Lukasz Fabianski has walked out as a free agent after Arsenal couldn’t tie him down to a new contract. Emiliano Viviano was only a season-long loan which means that he will go back home to his parent club. That leaves just Wojciech Szczesny as the only keeper the Gunners have.

Despite the fact that it is absolutely critical that Arsenal recruit a new man who can play between the sticks, there hasn’t actually been too much news on this front. There may be the odd rumour here and there, but nothing substantial or long-lasting. After the heroics of Keylor Navas against Greece the other day, in which the Costa Rica goalkeeper saved the crucial penalty, he has been linked with a whole host of different clubs, including Bayern Munich, Barcelona and Manchester City. The Mirror have added two more names to the ever expanding list: Arsenal and Liverpool.

While securing Keylor Navas would be a smart piece of business for Arsenal, I think the Costa Rican star himself should reject any offers. I say this because his reputation has gone through the roof due to his performances at the World Cup, and he has gone from a potential benchwarmer to a certain starter in a matter of weeks. If he was to join Arsenal, he would have to compete with Szczesny who is almost guaranteed to start every week because of his perfomances last season.

Navas is better than just a benchwarmer, yet I can’t see Arsene Wenger putting him in ahead of the Poland international. If, like Fabianski, Navas is happy to sit on the bench then I welcome him with open arms, but I just don’t think he would be happy with that. You couldn’t blame him, as he has had such an amazing World Cup and an equally as brilliant campaign for Levante.

Although Navas may be a cheap option, he should look to be a regular starter.

Chelsea Eye Atletico Madrid Defender – Why He Is The Perfect Replacement For Departing Blues Legend

When you think of all the business Chelsea have done this summer, it is clear that their intentions are to seriously challenge for the Premier League title as well trying to repeat their Champions League heroics of 2012. They want to compete on all fronts and are assembling a squad big enough to do so. Cesc Fabregas has already joined the Blues, Diego Costa is all but confirmed and Tiago looks likely as well.

However, they are not the only names that have been heavily linked with a move to Stamford Bridge, as many players across Europe have also had the pleasure of that. One of those players is Filipe Luis of Atletico Madrid, who has been linked with a switch to London since the La Liga champions knocked Jose Mourinho’s out of the Champions League. A fresh report from the Express is suggesting that Luis will avoid all contact with Atletico to force a move to Chelsea.

While that may seem very harsh on Atletico, it does play into the hands of Chelsea as they now know that a talented full-back wants to move to them. Before the 2013/2014 campaign started, Luis was a very underrated player outside of Spain. He got on with his job and didn’t particularly shine, but that wasn’t his role. The Brazilian was there to defend and contribute in attack and he did both very well.

Fast forward to the end of the season and his stock has risen so much after his performances in La Liga and the Champions League. Luis was able to use Europe’s premier club competition to show the rest of the continent what he was made of, with him now having apparently done enough to convince Mourinho that he is the perfect replacement for Ashley Cole

Luis is as dedicated to defending as he is to attacking. The left-back is just always where you need him to be and that is a credit to his fantastic engine. He is a confident player as well and trusts his own abilties with the ball at his feet. When you really look closely at his performances last season, you realise that the 28-year-old is actually quite a skilful player.

The Blues are looking for a full-back they can trust at both ends of the pitch as they could with Cole, and that is why I think Luis would be perfect for them.

Schneiderlin Is A Good Option For Arsenal – Why The Gunners Should Go For Saints Star Over Real Madrid Man

It is well documented that Arsenal are chasing a new defensive midfielder to give the Gunners an alternative to Mikel Arteta and Mathieu Flamini. Arsene Wenger is certainly eying a much younger, fitter and overall better midfielder to ensure that his defence get the best cover he can afford. With increased cover for his defenders, it could help them in the games that they tend to struggle in and prevent any chance of complete and utter capitulation. 

Many midfielders across Europe have been linked with this taxing role, but the short list isn’t exactly extensive as the Gunners have a detailed profile of what they want. While Morgan Schneiderlin has taken the headlines in recent days, The Sun have gone for a different option. They have linked Real Madrid’s Sami Khedira with a move to England.

We all know that Wenger likes the German market, as he views it as probably the best source of talent; young and old. They have one of the best youth systems in the world, which is why he secured Serge Gnabry a few seasons ago. However, the French manager has also invested in experienced talent which Germany have plenty of. Per Mertesacker, Mesut Ozil and Lukas Podolski are already enjoying life in North London and I wouldn’t be surprised if the German contingent was added to this summer.

Sami Khedira could be that man. However, he is not the player that I would choose. If I was to go for a defensive midfielder that Arsenal have been linked with recently, it would be Schneiderlin. Despite Khedira’s high profile, I think the Saints star is a better option for the Gunners. Age and worth are factors in some decisions, but they are very small. You would rather pay £50 million for a 27-year-old who is tagged as ‘one of the best in the world’ than £5 million for an unheard of 19-year-old.

However, Schneiderlin competes with Khedira on talent as well. Both are commanding midfield anchors that will put their head on the line for the club, but Schneiderlin has that vital Premier League experience that will help him adjust quicker than Khedira.

Red Devils Need Striker Back At His Best – Why Wayne Rooney Still Needs To Prove His Worth For Manchester United

Wayne Rooney has been at Manchester United since 2004 when he signed from Everton as a ‘wonder kid’. He has since played in three World Cups, scoring one goal in the process. Has he lived up to the hype of 10 years ago and is he still good enough to play for a club like Manchester United and the England national side?

There was a time when Rooney was scoring 20 or 30-odd goals a season but for the past two seasons he has not reached the 20 goal mark. Significantly, it is in this period that he signed a contract in which he reportedly gets £300,000 a week. It may be harsh on him to slate his lack of goals last season because it was a poor season for the club and, in actual fact, Rooney was one of United’s best players, performance-wise at least.

For England he has 40 goals but he does not seem to be the player that we all saw 10 years ago at Euro 2004, when he put in incredible performances and announced himself on the world stage. Since then, however, he has been up and down in terms of performances and he hasn’t really hit that kind of top form again since he was playing alongside Cristiano Ronaldo.

There is no doubt that Wayne Rooney is a class player and he has been used as an attacking midfielder quite a bit in recent years, which tends to suit his style of play as he likes to drop deep and collect the ball. It does limit his goals, though, and goals are what people used to associate Wayne Rooney with. As mentioned, I do think he is a good player and I would play him as an attacking centre midfielder, but is he worth £300,000 a week? I would say not at all.

Blues Eye Sporting Lisbon Midfielder – Why The Chance To Sign Him Is Too Good For Chelsea To Pass Up

Chelsea have a great selection of midfielders at the club who can all put in a shift when required to. They can call on any of Nemanja Matic, Ramires, Marco van Ginkel, John Obi Mikel, Oscar and now Cesc Fabregas. All have varied strengths and weaknesses, but all complement each other in one way or another. It is hard to see where improvements need to be made, especially as Fabregas has added that world class talent to the midfield.

However, the Blues look as though they aren’t content with the midfield they’ve already got and are actively pursuing players from all over Europe. Sami Khedira and Arturo Vidal have both been linked since Chelsea secured Fabregas. A new name has been thrown into the hat by the Express, who are linking Jose Mourinho’s men with a move for Sporting Lisbon star William Carvalho. The headline is not particularly encouraging for the Blues, though, as it suggests that Manchester United representatives have travelled to Portugal to discuss a transfer with the player.

This is a midfielder that Mourinho simply can’t pass up on even though they are well stocked in his position. Carvalho has been making huge waves in Portugal this season with a number of assured displays in the centre of the park. These waves have caused ripples in the rest of Europe, but there still isn’t much known on the player.

It is understandable that the people who have watched him play rate him very highly, as he is just so good. At the age of the 22, he already plays with the same level of ability of someone in their peak years. He has the intelligence of someone that far exceeds his age bracket as well. What he can do with the ball is incredible. The vision and range he displays is something else. I honestly believe that he can become one of the best midfielders of his generation and that is an understatement.

Chelsea can’t miss out on Carvalho and they really can’t let him go to United.

Arsenal Must Find Vermaelen Replacement – Why Saints Star Could Take The Place Of The Departing Arsenal Captain

Ever since January there has been talk of Thomas Vermaelen’s future, with the Gunners’ options being discussed by publications all over Britain. As he is the captain of Arsenal, they can’t let him go to a rival club despite the fact that he was not favoured at all last season. If Arsenal were to sell, they would try to send him abroad. However, there is the argument that Vermaelen is good enough to play as back-up to Laurent Koscielny and Per Mertesacker.

When you are captain of a football club, you would expect to play more often than just a few times a season if fit and available. The partnership between Koscielny and Mertesacker has been incredible though, with reluctance to change a winning formula possibly determining the Belgian’s future. However, the Gunners have lined up a replacement to accommodate the departure of Vermaelen, if it does happen. Dejan Lovren has been linked with a move to London, by the SabotageTimes, with Tottenham Hotspur also being credited with an interest in the Croatian defender.

When Vermaelen arrived at Arsenal in July 2009, he set the Premier League on fire with his goals and solid defensive displays. Arsenal fans thought Arsene Wenger had uncovered another gem. However, the Belgian’s career has declined after a string of high-profile mistakes that have cost Arsenal dearly. Lovren had a fantastic debut season for Southampton and was one of the reasons behind their high finish last campaign.

The Croatia international led the defence extremely well and his organisation was spot on. His side worked as a unit and he even influenced the team further up the pitch. He made sure that Morgan Schneiderlin, Jack Cork, James Ward-Prowse or Victor Wanyama were sticking to their defensive duties. Lovren is also at a good age at just 24-years-old, so if Arsenal were to get hold of him they would be able to enjoy his peak years.

The Croatian could be the perfect replacement for Arsenal’s departing star. A little part of me wouldn’t mind a fresh name at the Gunners.