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The FOOTBALL Thread (2009-2010)

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Last friendly before the season gets underway - I reckon you'll get to see most of the squad out there. Looking forward to it. Mid-May > August is just too long without footie fixes.

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2pints - those maths from the Times are a bit dodgy as they don't take into account the fact that a club also gets money back when they sell him on!

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Originally Posted By: 2pints,mate
Some interesting Peter Crouch stats in the Times today:

7 clubs, 7 moves - over 33.5 million in transfer fees.

Goals - 109

Overall cost per goal - 308000 pounds.


Bobby's right about cumulative fees meaning little. That's not 109 league goals either. A good few will be in the cups.

I think Craig Bellamy easily outdoes that in fees.
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Liverpool's Xabi Alonso is poised to sign for Real Madrid after the clubs agreed a fee believed to be ï½£30million for the Spain international.

The end of a summer-long saga over the 27-year-old's future ended when Liverpool issued a short statement effectively bringing to a close his spell on Merseyside.

The statement read: "Liverpool Football Club this evening confirmed they had reached agreement for the sale of Xabi Alonso to Real Madrid, subject only to a medical. The terms of the deal will remain confidential and undisclosed."

But although Liverpool will not reveal the details of the deal, privately sources were maintaining that manager Rafael Benitez had got his own way over the fee.

It is believed that Madrid made another attempt to end the deadlock with an offer of ï½£30m that will rise to ï½£34m depending on Alonso's success over the first two years of what is believed to be a five-year contract.

So, 10 million then? wink
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365 on Liverpools options:



Who he? Standard Liege midfielder, coveted by Everton among others, and was even mentioned as a possible alternative target for Real Madrid should they grow weary of the Xabi chase. Was made Liege captain last season despite being a mere 21 years of age.


Pros: Known for his range of passing, Defour would represent a similar prospect as Alonso when he signed back in 2004 (the Spaniard was 23), and at such a young age could be moulded into an Alonso-style playmaker. Is also much quicker than Alonso, so could provide more impetus from the middle of the park.


Cons: It's 18 years and counting, and Liverpool crave a title challenge now, not in a couple of years when Defour has got used to the rigours of the Premier League. He's also never played outside Belgium, which isn't exactly the highest calibre of leagues, and with figures of ï½£18million being mentioned, would be a bloody expensive gamble.





Who he? Rangy Athletic Bilbao powerhouse, Bilbao paid a hefty (for them) six million Euros for Martinez when he was 17. He's now 20 and has been touted as a Liverpool target for some time, being described as having a similar style of play to Steven Gerrard.


Pros: Would add the sort of thrust and urgency that is not Alonso's forte, and could also take some of the attacking pressure off Gerrard. Before Rafa Benitez, Spaniards had a reputation for failing in the Premier League (Reyes, Mendieta), but under his guidance they have generally, with the odd exception, thrived at Anfield.


Cons: Would Benitez be replacing the wrong player? Alonso's worth is that he brings some calmness and order to the Liverpool midfield. The primary reason their 4-2-3-1 formation works so well is that Alonso and Javier Mascherano's contrasting styles blend perfectly, allowing Gerrard to roam free ahead of them. Would Martinez want to play his captain's role?





Who he? Wigan midfielder, was one of Steve Bruce's more astute purchases when he signed from Middlesbrough last summer. A stocky midfield battler, Cattermole is wanted by Bruce again, but has been mentioned in dispatches as a target for Liverpool.


Pros: Young, hungry and English, which will come in handy with Sepp Blatter's quota rules for the Champions League on the horizon. Known as a scrapper, he does have a decent range of passing and impressed in the recent Under-21 European Championships.


Cons: Again, would Benitez be replacing the wrong player? Cattermole might be an option if Mascherano leaves, although he's not yet in the Argentine's league. If the two were to play together their styles could well be far too similar. And this with the assumption that he's even top four/Champions League material.





Who he? Stylish Roma midfielder, Aquilani is seen by the cash-strapped Italians as one of the men they are loathe to lose (alongside the likes of Daniele De Rossi and Francesco Totti), as shown by their keenness to tie him to a five-year contract in May.


Pros: Possibly the closest direct replacement for Alonso on this list, Aquilani has a beautiful right foot with which he not only sprays around pinpoint passes, but hits a b***ard of a free-kick. Young, but experienced enough to not be steamrollered by the demands of life in England.


Cons: His appearance record should be a concern. He made 13 league appearances last season, 21 the year before and 14 before that. That was largely down to injuries, but with the likes of De Rossi, David Pizarro and Simone Perotta also at Roma, he was not always an automatic choice when fit.





Who he? The golden boy of Dutch football, he merked the footballing world in 2006 when, instead of stepping up from Ajax to one of the European superpowers, he moved to Hamburg. A switch to Real Madrid followed last summer (when another creative midfielder was the last thing Real needed), but it was a frustrating season punctuated by fitness issues and a rumoured falling-out with Juande Ramos.


Pros: Beautifully composed, proud owner of a brilliant touch and a superb passer, it's a dreadful shame that Van der Vaart's career has stalled to the extent that he is now essentially being forced out of Madrid (he hasn't been given a squad number for the new season) to make room for their shiny new recruits. Also, would presumably bring his ridiculously attractive wife Sylvie to these shores. Think Cheryl Cole without the penchant for nightclub toilet fisticuffs.


Cons: Is really suited to a more advanced role than Alonso currently fills, so there would be plenty of concerns about his positional discipline. Also, would perhaps be a little lightweight for life in Blighty - one of Alonso's more under-appreciated strengths was, erm, his strength, which allowed him to compete with the midfield s**t-kickers of the Premier League.





Who he? Everton midfielder, often found on the flank but was a central midfielder earlier in his career. A good pal of Alonso (they were both born in San Sebastian and both played for Real Sociedad, though at different times), Arteta is currently recovering from a knee ligament injury suffered in February.


Pros: Certainly has the touch and passing to fill his buddy's boots, while Arteta has flourished out wide for Everton, the freedom afforded by superior colleagues could mean he provides just as much threat from the middle. Would also probably offer more of a goal threat than Alonso, and having played in England for four years, we know he's up to it.


Cons: Purchasing a man who has played on the flank for much of his time in the Premier League to replace a pivotal centre midfielder would be a hell of a punt, no matter how much potential is involved. While Liverpool fans would be delighted if they nicked one of their rivals' best players, one only needs to look at the fearsome and stubborn scrap Everton are putting up over Joleon Lescott's proposed move to Manchester City. It could get ugly, and may distract everyone from more important matters.





Who he? Liverpool youth product and local boy (he was born in Wallasey), Spearing is highly thought of at Anfield, so much so that he was given a three-year contract in July. Spent the best part of a decade at the Liverpool Academy before graduating in 2007.


Pros: Everyone feels heartened and more enthusiastic about a home-grown talent, and if the early signs are anything to go by then this particular talent could be great indeed. Although Liverpool were 3-0 ahead of Real Madrid at the time, Spearing impressed all present with a confident display when he came on in the Champions League last season.


Cons: That cameo against Real was the last time he appeared in the Liverpool first team, suggesting that Benitez is either easing him slowly into the first-team picture or that he's not up to the task just yet. Replacing a proven talent with an untried youth team product would be a colossal gamble, and in any case his style of play is more in the tenacious mould of Mascherano than Alonso.





Who he? You know exactly who he is. The Sun (yeah yeah) speculated at the weekend that Benitez will use the money from Alonso's sale to purchase a striker - David Villa in this case - and will move Gerrard back from his extremely successful free role into a more rigid midfield position.


Pros: It's undoubtedly easier for Gerrard to lead in a slightly more withdrawn role. Gerrard likes to grab games by the lapels and drag them kicking and screaming into Liverpool's favour, something that is more suited to someone in the middle. Also, those Hollywood balls do sometimes come off, and his tackling prowess is somewhat wasted as a striker.


Cons: Would disrupt the entire balance of the team. Assorted Liverpool and England managers spent about eight years trying to find Gerrard's best position (central midfield, right-wing, left-wing and even right-back were all tried) before slotting him in behind Fernando Torres partway through the 2007/8 season. Why mess with that now?

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Liverpool expect to close the deal for Roma's £17m midfielder Alberto Aquilani in the next week after finally agreeing to Xabi Alonso's £30m departure to Real Madrid yesterday. The contract for Aquiliani has been in place for some time and the move can now go ahead after weeks of brinkmanship over Alonso.

With Liverpool's first Premier League game of the season 12 days' away, Benitez has once again proved himself a durable negotiator, holding out for a price of £30m for a player he valued at little more than half that last season. Having held out for a price they made clear was non-negotiable during talks in Spain last week Liverpool last night announced they had "reached agreement for the sale of Xabi Alonso to Real Madrid, subject only to a medical".

He any good?
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30M for Alonso, I'd say thats not bad business for us. He was good last year, but he is getting on and he is slow like Jan Molby.


Never seen Aquilani play but it seems he is rated and has been held up a bit with niggling injuries.

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Seems he was wanting to go all summer. I dont blame him after we tried to get rid of him last year but couldn't find a decent offer. Fair play to him for having a storming season after that to get a new contract and get us a few extra Euros.

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Great to see United play Valencia last night. Old Trafford was nearly full which was a surprise. New boy Valencia looked really good. Won the game 2-0




Over and out for a few days from Cafe Nero in central Manchester.


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off topic but...


Cafe Nero - my favourite cafe outside of Italy! The do the best coffee, great dark atmosphere, and now its non-smoking too biggrin If only they would come to Japan, we need a decent coffee chain.

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