Between the Lines

"Of all unimportant subjects, football is the most important" – Pope John Paul II

Archive for June, 2009

Premier League clubs face difficult transfer window

Posted by hakanrylander on June 29, 2009

The transfer window doesn’t officially open until Wednesday but of course a lot of activity is already underway. The early signs are that the top Premier League clubs are finding it difficult to lure stars from Italy, Spain and Germany. United (Ronaldo, Tevez), Arsenal (Adebayor) and Liverpool (Mascherano, Alonso) are all in danger of losing, or have already lost, star players and are apparently finding it difficult to replace them. While Chelsea are reported to have made a number of unsuccessful recruitment attempts (Pato, Villa). The only exception is City, whose bottomless pockets enable them not only to pay high transfer fees but also offer ridiculous pay-packets such as the reported £200,000 per week after tax to Samuel Eto’o.

The reason for these difficulties is not that the PL is less attractive from a sporting perspective. Remember three out of four semi-finalists in the CL were English. Instead the problem is that the PL is financially less competitive than a year ago.

This is partly because Real Madrid have gone bananas, but also and more fundamentally because of the fall of the pound. Even though the pound has strengthened against the euro in recent months, it is still 11 percent weaker than it was a year ago. This makes it more expensive for British clubs to buy players from euro-countries, and also to pay their wages. Furthermore, the tax rate on high earners (anyone earning more than £150,000 a year) was raised in the latest government budget, meaning that top players (or indeed any first team player) earn more after tax in Spain or Italy compared to England.

This might very well be the summer when the tide turns and more top players move away from rather than towards England. Let’s hope I’m wrong.


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The Valencia enigma

Posted by hakanrylander on June 25, 2009

Regular readers of Between the Lines will be well aware that I’m a great fan of Antonio Valencia. I certainly hope that he will be one of our summer signings.

There are, however, some puzzling aspects to this proposed deal, partly brought to my attention by some interesting comments by James Ryddel at A Kick in the Grass. If Valencia is such an excellent player (as I think he is), why aren’t more clubs queing up to sign him? The Wigan chairman is doing his best to give the impression that United is not the only club chasing their star player, but it appears that the only other club involved is Real Madrid. The logical explanation for this lack of interest is that many clubs feel that Valencia is a good player, but overpriced.

Secondly: Does it really make sense for Real to be interested at all? In the last few weeks they’ve embarked on an, even by their standards, extreme galacticos strategy. Ronaldo and Kaka are in the bag and Ribery and Benzema possibly on their way. Does Valencia fit into that kind of strategy?

So, maybe United don’t face much competition when it comes to signing Valencia. If that’s the case it should be possible to push the fee down a bit. Even so, my advice to Sir Alex remains; sign Valencia ffs!

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The unofficial transfer window shopping list

Posted by hakanrylander on June 22, 2009

 United are about to receive £80m for Ronaldo and are therefore linked with just about every top class player in Europe and their dogs. Some of the suggested signings are very tempting but totally unrealistic (e.g. Essien and Torres) while in other cases the fees quoted are very fanciful (Ribery).

The Between The Lines shopping list stays away from the most expensive options and contains just three names:

Micah Richards. Probably the most talented young defender/midfielder in England. Hasn’t played to his potential during the last two seasons but it would be very interesting to see him develop under Ferguson. Could play in central defence or at right-back, but I see him as a future holding midfielder, “the next Patrick Vieira”. Tops my shopping list if indeed City, as rumoured, are stupid enough to sell him.

Robin van Persie. Reports claim that he’s unhappy with the level of ambition at Arsenal. Very skilful and mobile and would work wonderfully with Rooney or Berbatov or both. A bit injury-prone but worth a gamble.

Antonio Valenicia. Impressed me a lot as man-of-the-match against United in January. A fast and direct winger/midfielder who eschewes fancy footwork but can make it look very easy to get past a full-back. Some think he’s overpriced at £18m. I don’t agree.

Posted in Transfer Gossip, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 7 Comments »

I’m pleased to see Ronaldo leave

Posted by hakanrylander on June 12, 2009

We have lost one of the best players in the world but, strangely enough, I’m looking forward to next season more this morning than I did 24 hours ago, before the news about the Ronaldo deal broke. I had grown increasingly fed up with his whinging and diving on the field and constant scheming to engineer a move off it.

On the other hand. In the last three seasons Ronaldo scored 23, 42 and 26 goals respectively. Of course he will be missed.

With Carlos Tevez also quite possibly leaving there is a need for rebuilding, facilitated by the £80m received from Real. Antonio Valencia is an excellent first name on the shopping list, but I also hope that youngsters like Macheda and Welbeck will play important parts.

Finally, my sincere thanks to Scott at the Republik of Mancunia who with a single stroke of genius managed to wipe out any lingering doubts that I might have had.

Posted in Player Analysis, Transfer Gossip | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

“Je ne veux pas tout analyser”

Posted by hakanrylander on June 3, 2009

Paris_maj_2009_399Yesterday I stumbled upon the latest issue of the French magazine “Psychologies”. It contains a long interview with United legend Eric Cantona. Among other things he describes how he prefers hitting a good pass to scoring a goal and how he misses the “drug” of performing on the football pitch. 

“It’s only with my family, with my friends or when I play that I feel perfectly happy and free.”

He also talks about whether he regrets his kung-fu kick at Selhurst Park,  and explains his famous sardines quote.

Highly recommended.

Posted in Player Analysis | Tagged: , | 2 Comments »