UEFA Champions League round of 16 draw

The draw for the last 16 of the Champions League was made at the UEFA Headquarters in Nyon earlier on Monday.

Borussia Monchengladbach were the first team drawn from the unseeded pot and they have been paired alongside Manchester City for the round of 16. The German outfit have met the Cityzens on four occasions in the group stage since 2015. The Premier League side have had the clear upper hand with three wins and one draw.

Elsewhere, Barcelona have been drawn alongside Paris Saint-Germain which should be a blockbuster encounter. They will face each other for the first time since 2017 when the Blaugrana came from a 4-0 round of 16 first-leg deficit in Paris to register a stunning 6-1 victory. Paris Saint-Germain star Neymar was in the opposition ranks that night and starred with two goals, one assist and won a penalty as well.

Lazio have a tough challenge on their hands with a double-legged tie against holders Bayern Munich. The German champions have been in stellar form in Europe and they had won 15 games on the bounce before the 1-1 draw against Atletico Madrid on Matchday 6, where a number of regulars were given a break.

Atletico will be up against familiar opposition in Chelsea. Since 2009, they have faced each other on six occasions in the competition and the Blues have had a slight advantage with two wins to one. Diego Simeone’s side have been in splendid league form with seven wins from the previous eight games and they are no longer considered as dark horses.

Meanwhile, RB Leipzig will entertain 2018/19 European champions Liverpool. The Bundesliga outfit are unpredictable with their displays, but they have excelled against English opposition and have won three of their four matches in the competition. Liverpool, meanwhile, have a stellar record against German sides and have remained unbeaten in 18 games. Their last loss came way back in 1978.

Portuguese champions Porto have been pitted alongside Serie A holders Juventus. The Bianconeri have dominated the head-to-head with four wins and one draw from their five previous European meetings. They will obviously be the favourites to progress to the quarter-final stage, but Porto will be aiming to spring a surprise.

Sevilla will come up against Borussia Dortmund, who recently parted ways with their manager after a run of three winless league games. They have missed the services of top-scorer Erling Haaland due to injury, but he should be available for the last 16 showdown. Julen Lopetegui’s side, on the other hand, have impressed with their team work and it could be a tough tie to call.

Finally, Atalanta have been paired alongside Real Madrid. The Serie A outfit are an exciting attacking side and they beat Liverpool 2-0 at Anfield last month without conceding a single shot on target. Los Blancos recently escaped a shock group stage exit and will have to play at their best to overcome Atalanta, who nearly reached the semi-finals in their debut campaign last term.

One big name missing from the draw was Manchester United, who were dumped into the Europa League thanks to a last-day defeat to RB Leipzig. The Europa League draw has been covered in more details by our friends at the Football Blog, and is filled with some big names too with Arsenal, Tottenham, AC Milan, Ajax and PSV all featuring.

Here is the final round of 16 draw

Borussia Monchengladbach vs Manchester City

Lazio vs Bayern Munich

Atletico Madrid vs Chelsea

RB Leipzig vs Liverpool

Porto vs Juventus

Barcelona vs Paris Saint-Germain

Sevilla vs Borussia Dortmund

Atalanta vs Real Madrid

Stats from Transfermarkt.com and Worldfootball.net

Chelsea sign Edouard Mendy from Rennes

As confirmed by the club’s official website, Chelsea have completed the signing of goalkeeper Edouard Mendy from Ligue 1 side Rennes.

The 28-year-old Senegalese international has penned a five-year contract with the Blues after the club had agreed a £22m deal with the French club.

Mendy began his career at AS Cherbourg in the French third-tier where he was till 2014. He spent a year without any club, before returning to action with Marseille B in 2015 and went on to join Reims a year later.

Tipsters suggest Mendy could have an incredible career with the Blues. If you are one of those highly enthusiastic betting individuals, go in early and and make use of all the early season advantages to the best use. After all Chelsea’s summer has been super busy and considering all the signings they have made, Lampard and Co will have a strong season competing against the likes of Klopp’s heavy metal Liverpool and Guardiola’s runners up last season Manchester City.

What does Mendy bring to the club?

Mendy spent three years at the club, before signing for Rennes in the last summer transfer window. He made an immediate impact at the club, helping them finish third in Ligue 1 in 2019/20 and qualify for the UEFA Champions League.

Chelsea had been in the market for a new goalkeeper, following a series of underwhelming displays by current first-choice custodian Kepa Arrizabalaga.

The Spaniard has been error-prone throughout his stint at the club, most recently committing a major gaffe against Liverpool in the Premier League last weekend.

Kepa Arrizabalaga

Mendy is expected to push the Spanish international for the No.1 spot at Stamford Bridge.

“I’m so excited to be joining Chelsea. It’s a dream for me to be a part of this exciting squad.” (h/t BBC)

The 28-year-old becomes Chelsea’s seventh major signing of the summer following Hakim Ziyech, Timo Werner, Ben Chilwell, Malang Sarr, Thiago Silva and Kai Havertz.

With that in mind, what does the future of Kepa Arrizabalaga look like? Post your comments below.

WIN: Celebrate The New Season With £250 Of Liverpool Merchandise!

soccer footy betting souls soccersouls

The 2020/21 season is something we all need to get away from the real world, but you could support Liverpool in style as they look to retain their title with £250 worth of Anfield Index merchandise.

The popular fan site has teamed up with bookmaker comparison site to give one lucky fan a whole heap of merch from their Champions Range, and all you need to do is answer one simple question.

Last season was a monumental year for the club, winning the title for the first time in 30 years. But this competition is asking you to look a little further back, to the 1989/90 season when the club lifted the title at the end of a dominant period throughout the 1980s.

The side lifted the title seven times in 11 seasons across the decade, alongside picking up plenty of other honours, with the likes of John Barnes, Peter Beardsley and Ian Rush the real stars of that last title, but who was in the dugout during that 1989/90 league win?

That’s the question Which Bookie are asking, with the options below:

Who was the Liverpool manager when the club won the league title in 1989-90? 

  1. Bob Paisley
  2. Graeme Souness
  3. Kenny Dalglish
  4. Roy Evans 

To enter, simply click the link below and answer the question above:

You’ll have the be quick though as the competition ends on Wednesday, with the winner being notified within seven days.

The prize gives fans the opportunity to really deck out your home for the new season with posters, mugs and plenty of clothing including tees and hoodies.

The full list of prizes from the Champions Range are:

  • 1 x Dian Champions range print A1 size
  • 3 x Champions range x A3 prints
  • 2 x Champions range x hoodies
  • 4 x Champions range Mugs
  • All badges for Premier League, Club World Cup and Champions League
  • 3 x Champions range t-shirts

All entrants must be aged 18 or over with the competition ending on Wednesday, September 16, 2020 at 23:59:59.

Full terms and conditions can be found by visiting the competition page.

Good luck!

Football and the Betting Market

Football and betting have been interlinked for so long that it is difficult to know when one became synonymous with the other. However, it was in the 1960s, when the UK legalized sports betting that the relationship between the sport and betting really solidified. Punters then had a whole variety of opportunities to bet on their favorite teams with .

How the Link Between Football and Betting Strengthened

When the UK legalized gambling with the , football fans were now able to legally bet on the sport. This led to major businesses entering the sports betting market, and companies such as Ladbrokes, William Hill and Coral began to dominate the betting market.

In the beginning, despite the legalization of sports betting, sports bookies were still encouraged to be discrete about their business. However, in the 1990s, football and other sports were televised and only those games were open to betting for punters. Because of this, sports betting entered the mainstream and was no longer a discrete activity.

Then, with the advent of the internet, sports betting became even more popular, with most punters switching to online betting due to its convenience.

Today, betting on football constitutes a whopping 70% of the sports betting market, which is estimated to generate a current revenue of more than $250 billion dollars! And licensed online bookmakers account for more than $39.7 billion of that revenue.

Growth of Online Betting on Football

If you are looking at betting on your favorite football league now, then you can find your bookmaker offers here on the internet.

According to various market research companies, the growth of the online sports betting markets is expected to explode in the coming years. Legitimate sports bookmakers are already popular with the tech-savvy younger bettors who prefer to place their bets on various football matches from anywhere and at any time.

And as the world grows more digital, this trend is expected to increase even more. Now that most people conduct most of their business on mobile phones, online sports betting companies are also developing apps that are compatible with mobile operating systems.

Currently, 20% of online bettors use their mobile phones to place their bets, however, by the end of 2019, that number is expected to more than double to 45%.

Technology Giants May Dominate Football Betting in the Future

Computer algorithms, called predictive technology, are a key component in the evolution of online sports betting. And as this technology improves, technology companies across the world will begin to compete against currently established bookmakers for a piece of the betting pie.

In fact, there are some experts who believe that the future of the online betting market will be in the hands of the technology giants such as Google, Bloomberg and Microsoft.

The reason why experts believe that this is the way online sports betting will go is because some of the big technology companies have already applied for betting patents.

For example, Microsoft has applied for a patent for placing bets in real time on mobile devices and online sites. Microsoft is not the only company to do so. Sony, Cantor Fitzgerald and Reuters have also either applicants or already hold betting-related patents.

And more companies are expected to enter the gambling arena in the near future.

Sports Betting in the United States

While sports betting in the UK has been legal for decades, the US is finally following suit. Earlier in 2019, the country’s Supreme Court legalized sports gambling. While Pennsylvania and New Jersey have already legalized sports betting, in the next 5 years, another 32 states in the US are expected to follow suit.

According to Gambling Compliance, the US is set to become the world’s biggest football betting market in the next five years.

Bookmakers Sponsoring Football Leagues

Earlier, it was the big tobacco and alcohol companies as well as others like them that used to sponsor the football teams. Now, however, there is an emerging trend where football leagues, such as the Premier League, are teaming up with bookmakers, which has ended up benefitting both parties.

With football fans crazy about betting on their favorite teams, a growing number are downloading the latest mobile betting apps to be able to do so. And with so many teams now moving towards sponsorships from bookmakers, fans are automatically downloading the apps that are displayed on their players’ jerseys.

The Future of Betting in Football

With technology being used to enhance online football betting, the statistics loving fans are only expected to increase in the coming years. This technology will also enable various types of betting, including global peer-to-peer action and wagers made using cryptocurrencies.

The football betting market is expected to continue to dominate the gambling world, with more variations to bet on than ever before.

Wayne Bridge’s Life as a Poker Player After Retiring from Football

wayne-bridge-retires-from-football

The career of a football player is relatively short, often ending many years before they hit 40-years-old. So, former footballers need to find something to do with their time. Many turn to management or coaching, with Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard being among the recent examples, others pursue philanthropic interests, and others continue to seek that competitive surge of adrenaline off of the field through other games, such as poker.

Be it Texas hold’em or five-card poker, the globally-loved game of cards and wits is very popular among sports stars, especially footballers, with the likes of the two-time World Cup-winning and former world-record transfer Real Betis winger Denilson known to be a poker aficionado. Wayne Bridge is included in this crowd of high-profile former footballers who play poker in their retirement, taking competitive play very seriously, be it in live tournaments, in online poker rooms, or promotion meets.

Wayne Bridge’s playing career

For much of his career, Wayne Bridge was on the cusp of the England starting XI, with injuries and a certain Ashley Cole often blocking his passage to the upper echelons of football. His career started in the city of his birth, Southampton, who he signed for in the summer of 1996. Just two years later, he made his first-team debut, featuring primarily on the left-wing for the Saints until he moved permanently to left-back in the 1999/00 season.

At left-back, Bridge’s performances caught the eyes of other Premier League teams, with his fitness, consistency, and near-impeccable disciplinary record keeping him a first-team regular for Southampton. During his time with the Saints, Bridge for the most consecutive Premier League appearances by an outfielder, clocked at 113 between March 2000 and January 2003.

By the close of the 2002/03 season, Bridge had compiled 158 games, three goals, and one assist for the Saints, earning a £7 million move to Chelsea in what would prove to be Claudio Ranieri’s last season before Jose Mourinho came to the club. Bridge was part of a huge summer of spending at Stamford Bridge which included the likes of Hernan Crespo, Juan Sebastian Veron, Claude Makelele, Joe Cole, Glen Johnson, Damien Duff, and Adrian Mutu.

With Chelsea, Wayne Bridge found himself with the regular starting role at left-back in his first season in blue. Not known for his scoring ability, Bridge scooped a crucial goal for his team near the back-end of the 2003/04 seasons, netting the game-winning goal against Arsenal in the Champions League quarter-final.

Highlights of the Arsenal 1-2 Chelsea Champions League quarter-final, featuring Wayne Bridge’s game-winning goal.

Known for his longevity and consistency, a serious ankle injury in February 2005 derailed his campaign and forced Chelsea to sign Asier del Horno from Athletic Bilbao. Used sparingly in cup games, Bridge was loaned out to Fulham in the winter of the 2005/06 season, showing that he’d returned to top form to earn himself a place in England’s World Cup squad.

Upon his return from the World Cup in Germany, Bridge found England’s number one left-back, and one of the best in the world at the time, Ashley Cole had joined Chelsea. Bridge still managed to tally 33 appearances in all competitions in the 2006/07 season, but his game time continued to wane over the next two campaigns. In January 2009, however, another big-spending, building club forked out for Wayne Bridge.

Mark Hughes’ money-chucking Manchester City saw Bridge’s situation as a prime opportunity to add some class to their backline, sending £10 million to Chelsea for the left-back. He joined in a winter spree that included Craig Bellamy, Shay Given, and Nigel de Jong, which followed a huge summer in which Robinho, Shaun Wright-Philips, Vincent Kompany, and Pablo Zabaleta all came to the City of Manchester Stadium.

Bridge would go on to tally 58 games for City, but a managerial switch led to the likes of Gael Clichy and Aleksandar Kolarov usurping the England-capped defender, making him a . He would eventually go out on loan spells to West Ham United, Sunderland, and Brighton & Hove Albion. In the summer of 2013, Bridge joined Reading in the Championship on a one-year deal but was released after 12 appearances, leading to his retirement.

Bridge’s life after football and love of poker

A video of Wayne Bridge featuring on the football television show Soccer AM earlier this year.

Wayne Bridge is a well-known and well-liked figure among English football fans, with multiple television show appearances since his retirement keeping him in the public eye. He’s appeared on Soccer AM as well as I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here! As is the case with many retired footballers, however, Bridge still has the desire to compete, and so, he’s turned to the game of poker.

The former England left-back takes his poker rather seriously, appearing in many one-day poker live tournaments, playing a lot of online poker, and even contending against fellow former football stars. Bridge has described his style as ‘kamikaze,’ and while it was some light-hearted fun when he met Paul Ince heads up, his certainly shined through, chucking down 300, scaring Ince off of the play and leading him to fold.

His love of poker started during his loan move to Brighton, where he and his teammates would play the card game in hotels and on the coach for away games. He has claimed that Adam El-Abd was the easiest to play against as he struggled to hide the fact that he had a good hand, with David Lopez being the toughest to read.

Do any skills transfer from poker to football?

While they are both very different, with one being much more physically demanding than the other, some skills have proven to be transferable between poker and football. The most important between the two is the abilities to keep concentrated, be patient, and be disciplined. With only 18 yellow cards and not a single red card – double yellow or straight – Bridge proved himself to be very disciplined on the field, which will help him at the Texas hold’em table.

In a lengthy game of poker, concentration and patience are crucial to being able to capitalise on the frailties of your opponents. In football, full-backs especially need to keep their concentration as they need to keep an eye out for who are traditionally the most skilful and quickest players on the pitch, wingers, while also needing to gauge whether or not they should join the attack.

The desire to compete among professional footballers continues to burn within them even after they’ve hung up their boots. Texas hold’em, Omaha, and five-card draw provide the ability to be competitive while using some of the same mental skills deployed by professional footballers.

Two ideal destinations for Ben Gibson to move in the future

ben-gibson

According to reports from English news outlet , Burnley have told center-back, Ben Gibson, that he can leave the club. The 26-year-old may have joined the club last summer but has struggled to make a big enough impact for Sean Dyche.

The Claret’s center-back partnership at the moment consists of Ben Mee and James Tarkowski, with Gibson struggling to break the duopoly. Things need to change for the 26-year-old, but it looks like he may not get the chance to make that change in the near future.

Reports have indicated that the Clarets are more than open to a move for the 26-year-old, as he’s someone they do not believe will help them survive in the near future. It’s why reports have further indicated that Burnley are also open to a loan move.

It does allow Gibson to find a place for himself again in the footballing world and given the fact that a few sides are after his signature, it should make things easier. Reports from the Hartlepool Mail have indicated that Aston Villa, Norwich City, Sheffield United and Middlesbrough are all keen on a move.

That being said, here are the two ideal destinations for the 26 year old. If you feel that these two clubs would be ideal for Ben Gibson, why don’t you take a punt on challenge and win yourselves one thousand pounds and a 30 days free entry to play the game.

Aston Villa

aston-vila

With Gibson unwilling to go back down to the Championship after experiencing the Premier League, it seems that a Premier League side would do him good. But the clubs already in the league are pretty well stocked which is where Aston Villa comes into play. Top free bets suggest he is the man ideal for the newly promoted side for you to gamble on if you are expecting high rewards. Totesport is one of UK’s largest bookmaker and with all available totesport promo codes, there is now an additional reason for you to punt on Gibson’s successful move to Aston Villa. Bookmakers have a 10/1 odds of him doing well in the Premier League. If you are one of those fantasy managers, Fantasy Bet gives you a 10% discount for a £100 deposit while William Hill offers 3/5 odds if you are early to catch the trend.

The Lions are finally back in the top tier, beating Derby County in the playoff finals. It was a rather entertaining game but yet at the same time proved why the club could use someone like Ben Gibson at the helm. Tall, strong, rather physical and a former captain, Gibson could be just the man to replace the outgoing Tommy Elphick.

The 31-year-old has officially left the club and will join Huddersfield Town once his contract is over. He leaves as one of the eight men released by Dean Smith and given that Micah Richards and Alan Hutton has also followed suit, Gibson’s presence would be a boon.

The 26-year-old is very experienced, equally adept defensively and offensively, doing well over the last few years. Not to mention as revealed above, Villa have been linked with a move.

Sheffield United

SHEFFIELD, ENGLAND - APRIL 27: X during the Sky Bet Championship match between Sheffield United and Ipswich Town at Bramall Lane on April 27, 2019 in Sheffield, England. (Photo by Jan Kruger/Getty Images)

The shock contenders to make it back to the Premier League, the Blades leapfrogged over Leeds United in the final months to earn the final automatic promotion spot. It was a stunning rise for Chris Wilder and his side but now things need to change.

Sure Sheffield United may have done well in the Championship, but the Premier League is a different animal. It takes a certain kind of club and team to survive in the top tier, and at the moment the Blades are short a few players to make that jump.

Not to mention, that they need another more reliable option to either John Egan or Jack O’Connell. Both men operated at a rather incredible consistency throughout the season, missing just seven games together. It’s a consistency that should help them in the Premier League, yet it’s also why they need someone like Ben Gibson.

Because barring Egan and O’Connell, the Blades have next to no one. With Martin Cranie on his way out and Richard Stearman struggling to make an impact, it leaves the club with just Kean Bryan and Ben Heneghan. For a club trying to survive in the , that is not good news, and it’s why things need to change.

 

5 Reasons Why Players from European Clubs Flop in the Premier League?

 

Premier League

The Premier League has established itself as the world’s most popular competition because it attracts the finest talent from across the globe. Superstars like Thierry Henry, Cristiano Ronaldo and Vincent Kompany have dazzled with their brilliance over the years, and many British players struggle to get a look in. But for every Henry there is an Andriy Shevchenko, for every Ronaldo there is a Radamel Falcao and for every Kompany there is a Jerome Boateng. Why do so many promising foreign imports flop in the Premier League? Here are the top five reasons:

Blistering Pace

The Premier League is played at a breakneck pace and many players are overwhelmed by its intensity, physicality and speed. The action in countries like Italy and Spain seems slow and plodding in comparison to the English top flight. Serie A sides place a great deal of emphasis on tactical battles and outmanoeuvring their opponents, while La Liga teams often value technical proficiency, intricate interplay and possession-based football. Matches often feel like painstaking games of chess on the continent.

By contrast, the Premier League is turbo charged. The action moves from end to end rapidly, and players have less time to catch their breath than anywhere else in the world. The foreign imports that have flourished in the Premier League can either run extremely fast or think very quickly. You have less time on the ball before a crunching tackle comes in, so you need to be cool and collected under intense pressure.

The likes of David Silva, Cesc Fabregas and Dennis Bergkamp are not exactly fleet of foot, but their footballing brains react to situations rapidly and allow them to thrive in a fast-paced contest. Players such as Riyad Mahrez, Sergio Aguero and Mohamed Salah are blessed with bags of pace. If you can think and move at lightning speed, you can take the league by storm, as evidenced by Ronaldo and Henry.

Physicality

The Premier League is also an extremely physical division. Many players that arrive from overseas are unused to locking horns with defenders like Jamie Carragher, Richard Dunne, John Terry and Ryan Shawcross for 90 minutes. Midfield enforcers like Roy Keane, Lee Cattermole, Joey Barton, Robbie Savage and Kevin Nolan run around kicking lumps out of the opposition. This can be very difficult for players from other European Clubs to acclimatise to. It is not a league for shrinking violets and players need to roll up their sleeves and fight back if they are to succeed.

It requires great mental and physical stamina too. There is no winter break in the Premier League, so it turns into a long old season. As winter sets in, many players from the Mediterranean and South America struggle to perform week in, week out on frozen pitches as the rain lashes down and the opposing fans bay for blood. A prominent criticism of foreign imports is their tendency to go missing in games. Mesut Ozil, Erik Lamela and Stevan Jovetic are among the players to be levelled with this charge.

Players need to be extremely fit, strong and quick to succeed for 90 minutes, often twice a week, for nine months of the year, especially during the hectic Christmas period. It was too much for Angel Di Maria, Juan Cuadrado and Diego Forlan. They all succeeded on the continent, flopped in England and then went on to enjoy success again after moving to France, Italy or Spain. Many of the players that have succeeded are magnificent physical specimens that blend mental fortitude with upper body strength, from Didier Drogba to Virgil Van Dijk.

A Stronger League

Manchester City v Arsenal - Premier League

The level of competition is arguably higher in the Premier League than anywhere else in the world. When a team is promoted to the Bundesliga, La Liga Primera, Serie A or Ligue 1, they often serve as the whipping boys of the division for a season before sinking back down. Yet promotion to the Premier League is  to Championship clubs. The league is so popular on a global basis that TV companies pay exorbitant sums for broadcasting rights, and this is shared among the 20 teams competing for glory.

It allows newly promoted clubs to invest a fortune in their squads as they bid for survival. Case in point: Aston Villa have spent £135 million plus on 12 new players this summer in an effort to beat the drop. That forces the teams around them to invest heavily too, meaning the Premier League is flooded with the many of the most promising players from across the globe. It has been the top-spending league in the world for many years now, and that makes it ultra-competitive.

Against this backdrop, it can be harder to thrive. Many players arrive with big reputations after banging in 20 goals in a season in Ligue 1 or the Eredivisie, and suddenly they find themselves up against defensive lines worth £100 million on a weekly basis and they simply cannot cut it. As the  shows, the gap between the teams in the English top flight is not quite as stark as it is in Spain or Italy, where Barcelona and Juventus are expected to steamroll their opponents on a weekly basis. Playing well in countries like Holland, Belgium, France and even Germany is no guarantee of success in England either, as the overall level of quality is so much higher and it is a totally unforgiving league.

Culture Shock

Many players simply struggle to . That is not unique to the Premier League, as it can be difficult for any player to acclimatise to a new country after leaving their homeland. But many stars from South America will find it much easier to adjust to life in Spain or Portugal than they will in England. Uruguayan Lucas Torreira recently  and said life was better in Italy, and that is a common complaint. The old cliché goes that players need to be able to hack it on a cold, rainy Tuesday night at Stoke, or they will not do well in the league. The Potters are no longer in the top flight, but the sentiment stands: if you cannot cope with the long English winter, you are not going to make it in the Premier League.

The language barrier is also an issue for many players. Players speaking Spanish, French and Portuguese can communicate pretty easily with one another, but English is a totally different tongue to master, and if they do not put in the effort to learn it they are likely to feel isolated in the dressing room. Other players hate the quality of English food, or the size and business of the cities they are living in. Szilard Nemeth famously endeared himself to Middlesbrough fans by claiming the city is as ugly as its women. He is an extreme example, but many players simply struggle with the culture shock and fare better in an environment they feel more comfortable in.

Demand for Instant Success

Suffering relegation can be calamitous for Premier League clubs as it leaves them saddled with inflated wage bills and in financial peril. Owners and chairmen are therefore notoriously trigger-happy and they dispense with managers rapidly when the results go south. This creates a demand for instant success, and many coaches simply cannot afford to persist with players that need time to adapt to the rigours of Premier League football. It is extremely competitive at both ends of the table, and managers need players that can pretty much succeed from the beginning of their careers in England.

It means that many players are not given a proper opportunity to show what they are made of. Some have found themselves jettisoned out before they really had time to get going, but persistence can pay dividends. Carlos Tevez was initially considered a flop after failing to set the world alight during his first campaign in England back in 2006. However, Alan Curbishley kept selecting him and he eventually became a solid signing, scoring the goals that , before moving to Man Utd and winning the title. Henry failed to score in his first eight games, but then went on to become Arsenal’s record goalscorer and lead the club to glory. If more coaches kept faith in foreign arrivals that initially struggle, it might help their clubs succeed.

Why Has Antoine Griezmann’s Barcelona Move Been Dragged Out?

It’s all About the Money

Griezmann

It was probably the worst kept secret in football but it’s now gone from cast-iron rumour to reality: Antoine Griezmann is a Barcelona player.

In normal circumstances, it would be yet another case of head-shaking from the non-football fraternity about how anyone could be worth 120 million Euros to kick a football around. Except these aren’t normal circumstances and that’s not what’s being debated here.

The controversy in question here all stems from the fact that it wasn’t that Barcelona made an offer which Atletico Madrid accepted. Rather, Griezmann had a buyout clause of 200 million Euros a few days ago which went down to ‘just’ 120 million Euros on July 1, with Barcelona stumping up the cash last Friday, July 12.

Atletico aren’t complaining about the fact that they had to let him go once that price was met; they knew what the situation was. The issue is that Atletico feel the deal between the player and Barcelona was done back in March and if that was the case, they should be entitled to the full 200 million rather than the ‘cut-price’ 120.

In other words, Diego Simeone’s side think that Griezmann and Barcelona were in cahoots all along and conspired to play the system so that the player got his dream move and that Barca got him at a bargain, so to speak, cleverly avoiding an extra 80 million Euros through the timing of their business. It will now become one for the courts to rule on.

Why were Barca so Desperate to get their man?

spain-soccer-griezmann-390x285

Barcelona have always prided themselves on having a star-studded attack who not only score lots of goals between them but also play dazzling football. That wasn’t so much the case last year.

Philippe Coutinho, who can operate either in midfield or in the front three, had a really poor start to his Barca career. As a player who at times seems to lack confidence and can be emotionally frail, the  with the genial Brazilian.

Ousmane Dembele, who  in the Champions League semis which would certainly have put the tie to bed in the first leg, isn’t necessarily in Barca’s good books, either. That chance may have cost them the Champions League title whereas his injury record has been poor, playing just 46 league matches in two seasons.

Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez are as good as they’ve ever been but they’re both 32 now. They’ll need to be rested for a few more games a season over the next couple of years, so they’re fresh for the big ones. Having Griezmann around, who at 28 is considerably younger, gives Ernesto Valverde far greater flexibility when it comes to rotating his forwards.

There are two other aspects of Griezmann’s game Barcelona will look forward to: his ability to play in any of the three positions upfront and his work-rate when it comes to defending. Something that in Suarez has diminished over the years, something that in Messi is practically non-existent.

Griezmann’s Dream Move

The French forward will feel the time had come for a new challenge. He’ll also feel that Atletico missed the boat when losing that penalty shoot-out in the final of the Champions League in 2016 and that Simeone’s side were capable of getting the better of either Barcelona or Real Madrid when it came to the title race, but not both.

There may also have been a feeling that  – hard pressing, emphasis on defending, protecting leads rather than going for the jugular- were exhausting and frustrating in equal measure for such a talented, creative and attack-minded player.

So where better than Barcelona to have the chance to play the sort of attacking football that so few teams can pull off?

Perhaps the biggest draw of all though was the chance to play alongside Messi and to lesser extent…Suarez. It’s easy to forget that footballers, like people in other ‘normal’ professions, want to improve their game, learn from the best, evolve as players.

There was only so much he was going to learn by staying at Atletico and a huge amount he could improve by playing alongside a man with five Ballon d’Ors to his name to go with just about every other individual prize in football.

And with all due respect to Atletico, it’s not Barcelona when it comes to tradition, history, glory or… their chances of winning the Champions League, something Griezmann is yet to do.

 markets give you the chance to bet on whether Barcelona will improve on their 87 points from last season, or fall short. Few would argue that with Griezmann on board, their chances of bettering that won’t be improved.

An UK Based Football Website covering all the stuffs related to Premier League, Championship, And Other European Leagues