Phil Edmonds

Five exciting British talents playing abroad

Moving abroad at a young age can be tough. As Ian Rush once remarked on his time in Italy "it was like living a foreign country". 

Traditionally promising British players have chosen the cash and comfort of the Premier League over going abroad. Now however, youngsters have started heading across the channel to Europe in search of first team action.

Jadon Sancho - Borussia Dortmund

The 18-year-old English winger started his youth career at Watford before moving to city in 2015. He was expected to break into the first team, but after Guardiola left him out of the 2017/2018 pre-season tour, he was sold to Dortmund. Both Man Utd and Spurs had shown interest but City refused to sell him to a rival. In the end he went for £8 million to Borussia Dortmund, which turned out to be a complete bargain.

Sancho has been an undisputed success at Dortmund and has now signed a contract until 2022. He has scored 9 goals in 40 appearances for the first team. He also became the youngest ever player to score eight goals in a single Bundesliga season.

He recently made his debut for England against Croatia in the UEFA Nations League.

Reiss Nelson - Hoffenheim (loan)

The Arsenal winger moved to Hoffenheim on loan last summer after a signing a long-term contract with the Gunners. The 19-year-old scored on his debut and has not stopped ever since, scoring six times in 15 Bundesliga matches.

He is skilful, fast and an exciting prospect for both Arsenal and England fans.

David Bates - Hamburger SV

The 22-year-old Scottish defender moved to Hamburg as a free agent last year from Rangers. He has since become a fans favourite with Die Rothosen, who currently top the 2. Bundesliga.

His former teammate Kenny Miller rates him, recently he told the BBC: 

"he has all the attributes to be a real success story for Scotland over the years". 

He made his international debut for Scotland in November 2018 against Albania in the Nations League.

Patrick Roberts - Girona (loan)

The 22-year-old winger is currently loaned out to Girona from Man City. He has made twelve appearances since he joined them in the summer. You might recognise him from his time at Fulham 2013-2015 where he made 22 appearances for the Cottagers. After signing for City he was loaned out to Celtic for three seasons, scoring 18 times in 79 appearances.

Roberts has represented England at the under-20 level. He was named player of the tournament at the 2014 European Under-17 Championship.

Emile Smith Rowe - RB Leipzig (loan)

Ok, so he hasn't actually played yet in the Bundesliga, but any Arsenal fan will tell you this 18-year-old attacking midfielder is one for the future. He scored 3 goals in 6 games for the Gunners before leaving to Germany. He is also the first player born after 2000 to score for the Gunners.

The Londoner has represented England at U16,U17,U18 and U19 levels.

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Phil Edmonds

How will Higuaín rank amongst Chelsea's strikers signed under Abramovich?

It's no secret that since they became known as Chelski, the West London team have, with a couple of exceptions, made a real mess of signing strikers. Higuaín signed for Chelsea this week from Juventus; and it can't have been without some trepidation. The club is fast becoming known as the graveyard of strikers.

Here are all of the strikers signed under Abramovich ranked in order of success:

1. Drogba

Drogba arrived a hot prospect from Marseille in the summer of 2014. He had a luke warm first season before going on to make history with Chelsea. The Ivorian will always be remembered most fondly for scoring the winning penalty in the Champions League Final against Bayern Munich. Drogba was as much appreciated by neutrals as he was by the Chelsea faithful. He will always remain a legend.

  • Price: £24 million
  • Appearances: 381
  • Goals: 164
  • Seasons: 8
  • Rating: 10

2. Diego Costa

The pantomime villain who put in a decent shift over three years at the club. Costa may have rubbed a few people up the wrong way - literally and metaphorically - during the time at the club, but despite his dirty tactics his quality was there for all to see.

  • Price: £32 million
  • Appearances: 259
  • Goals: 52
  • Seasons: 3
  • Final Rating: 9

3. Anelka

Perhaps one of the more underrated players for Chelsea. The Frenchman joined Chelsea having been written off by the most of us as being past it. He transferred from Bolton and proved himself a key player in the 2009-2010 season.

  • Price: £15 million
  • Appearances: 125
  • Goals: 59
  • Seasons: 2.5
  • Final Rating: 7.5

4. Kalou

He was used out on the wing more than he was played as a striker, but when he did go up front he was key in Chelsea's success between 2006-12.

  • Price: £9 million
  • Appearances: 254
  • Goals: 61
  • Seasons: 6
  • Final Rating: 7

5. Crespo

Crespo had a strange time at Chelsea. The Argentinian did well during his time at the club, but was loaned out twice to Inter and AC Milan which hampers our memory of him somewhat.

  • Price: £16.8 million
  • Appearances: 73
  • Goals: 25
  • Seasons: 2 
  • Final Rating: 6.5

6. Torres

He would be a couple of places lower if it wasn't for his goal against Barcelona in Chelsea's Champions League final against Barcelona. But otherwise he lacked any of his old spark and will also be remembered for his misses.

  • Price: £50 million
  • Appearances: 172
  • Goals: 45
  • Seasons: 2.5
  • Final Rating: 5.5

7. Mutu

The Romanian looked pretty good during his time at the club but his 'off-field' antics will be what he is most remembered for.

  • Price: £15.8 million
  • Appearances: 38
  • Goals: 10
  • Seasons: 1
  • Final Rating: 5

8. Demba Ba

He may not have scored that many goals but the ones he did were damn important. A winner in the FA Cup quarter-final and Champions League quarter-final isn't bad.

  • Price: £7 million
  • Appearances: 51
  • Goals: 14
  • Seasons: 2
  • Final Rating: 5

9. Eto'o

The by-then veteran striker did pretty well for one season and he even managed to score a hat-rick against Man Utd. Not bad for an old man as Mourinho liked to point out.

  • Price: Undisclosed
  • Appearances: 35
  • Goals: 12
  • Seasons: 1
  • Final Rating: 5

10. Morata

We all hope he gets his mojo back.

  • Price: £60 million
  • Appearances: 72
  • Goals: 24
  • Seasons: 1.5
  • Final Rating: 5

11. Batshuayi

The Belgian was not bad, and will hopefully always be remembered for scoring in the winner for the 2016-2017 Premier League title.

  • Price: £33 million
  • Appearances: 53
  • Goals: 9
  • Seasons: 1
  • Final Rating: 5

12. Giroud

  • Price: £18 million
  • Appearances: 46
  • Goals: 10
  • Seasons: 1 
  • Final Rating: 5

13. Shevchenko

Perhaps the original Chelsea 'flop'. The Ukranian who joined Chelsea looked a shadow of the man who had cemented legendary status at AC Milan.

  • Price: £30.8 million
  • Appearances: 77
  • Goals: 23
  • Seasons: 2
  • Final Rating: 4

14. Sturridge

  • Price: £8.3 million
  • Appearances: 96
  • Goals: 24
  • Seasons: 3
  • Final Rating: 4

15. Remy

He never really made it into the first team and despite a decent first season, he was soon shipped off to Crystal Palace and then Las Palmas. He is now at Lille.

  • Price: £10.5 million
  • Appearances: 47
  • Goals: 12
  • Seasons: 2
  • Final Rating: 4

16. Kezman

Arrived as Dutch footballer of the year but never really lived up to expectations.

  • Price: £5.3 million
  • Appearances: 41
  • Goals: 7
  • Seasons: 1 
  • Final Rating: 3

17. Pizarro

  • Price: Free
  • Appearances: 32
  • Goals: 2
  • Seasons: 1
  • Final Rating: 3

18. Pato

He scored on his debut!... and that was it.

  • Price: loan
  • Appearances: 2
  • Goals: 1
  • Seasons: 1
  • Final Rating: 2

19. Falcao

El Tigre never really looked the same after his ACL injury. Chelsea signed him on loan after an appalling loan spell at Man Utd. They have hopefully learnt their lesson now.

  • Price: loan
  • Appearances: 12
  • Goals: 1
  • Seasons: 1
  • Final Rating: 2

20. Lukaku

“I dreamed to play here since I was 10 years old. It was just what I was searching for”

This is what an 18-year-old Lukaku declared when he signed for Chelsea from Anderlecht. It didn't work out, but he seems to have done alright elsewhere.

  • Price: £17 million
  • Appearances: 1 (loaned out for 3)
  • Goals: 0
  • Seasons: 1
  • Final Rating: 2

21. Di Santo

  • Price: £3.4 million
  • Appearances: 16
  • Goals: 0
  • Seasons: 1
  • Final Rating: 1

22. Piazon

  • Price: free
  • Appearances: 3
  • Goals: 0
  • Seasons: 2
  • Final Rating: 1
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Phil Edmonds

Sven Mislintat's legacy at Arsenal

Sven Mislintat, the diamond eye, the lone wolf, will leave Arsenal in February. The German, who was brought in from Borussia Dortmund in 2017, had fallen out of favour with the powers that be. We rank the signings he was responsible for helping bring to the club.

Unai Emery

It's not always the players that the head of recruitment help bring to the club. Sven apparently played a big role in bringing Unai Emery to the club to succeed Arsene Wenger last summer.

After a couple of early losses, Unai Emery oversaw a long unbeaten run, but in recent weeks the cracks have begun to show. Their attack is firing on all cylinders, but the defence still needs work. The 2-0 win over Chelsea will have gone a long way to restoring Arsenal fans' faith in their manager.

  • League Position: 5th
  • Biggest win: Fulham vs. Arsenal 1-5 
  • Biggest loss: Liverpool vs. Arsenal 5-1
  • Rating: 6/10

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang

Sven had originally brought the Gabonese striker to Borussia Dortmund in 2013. You can't fault Aubameyang this season. He has done what he was brought in to do: Score.

  • Goals this season: 14 (Premier League) 2 (Europa League)
  • Price: £60m
  • Rating: 9/10

Lucas Torreira

The Uruguayan defensive midfielder was a bargain at £26m from Sampdoria. He was exactly what Arsenal needed with his interceptions and passing ability. He has also brought a tenacity to the midfield that the Gunners had lacked under Wenger.

  • Passing completion rate: 88.6% (PL)
  • Tackles: 2.3 per game
  • Price: £26m
  • Rating: 8/10

Matteo Guendouzi

The midfielder has at times impressed and at times infuriated Arsenal fans, but no-one can deny that there is some real quality there.

He is still only 19 years old and was previously playing at Lorient in Ligue 2, which suggests some great scouting.

  • Passing completion rate: 91.1% (PL)
  • Tackles: 0.8 per game
  • Price: £7m
  • Rating: 6/10

Bernd Leno

The German has had a decent first season. After replacing an injured Cech he has cemented his place in the first team. But a couple of blunders, in particular against Liverpool at the Emirates has raised a few question marks.

  • Goals conceded: 26 
  • Clean Sheets: 5
  • Price: £19m
  • Rating: 6/10

Henrikh Mkhitaryan

The Armenian has not been able to replicate the form he enjoyed at Dortmund since he moved to England, first for Man Utd and now for Arsenal. He has chipped in with a few goals this season, but otherwise he has been hampered by injury.

  • Passing completion rate: 79% (PL)
  • Goals: 4 (PL)
  • Price: £30m
  • Rating: 5/10

Sokratis Papastathopoulos

The Greek defender was torn apart by Liverpool and was largely blamed for Arsenal's complete capitulation at the back during that game. He has produced some decent performances though since but the jury is still very much out on Sokratis.

  • Tackles per game: 1.8 (PL)
  • Clearances per game: 4.8 (PL)
  • Price: £17.6m
  • Rating: 5/10

Stephan Lichtsteiner

This one is a tough one to judge. The Swiss veteran was brought in, on a free,  as a back-up and to add some experience to the squad. Perhaps even to train some of the younger players in the dark arts of shithousery. Bellerin's injury looks to have cemented his place in the first team, a concern for Arsenal fans, who must recognize that he is no longer at the top of his game.

  • Tackles per game: 1 (PL)
  • Clearances per game: 0.8 (PL)
  • Price: Free
  • Rating: 4/10

Konstantinos Mavropanos

Another Greek defender and an exciting prospect that has been injured for most of his time at Arsenal.

  • Price: £2m
Sokratis

Guendouzi (left), Sokratis (centre) and Lichtsteiner (right) remonstrate with the referee

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Phil Edmonds

Where next for the once Special One?

It may not feel like it, but Mourinho - outside of the Premier League - is still a wanted man. As Ole Gunnar Solskjaer continues to ride high on the post-Mourinho euphoria at Old Trafford the Portuguese manager is being courted by some of Europe's biggest teams. We list his most likely destinations:

Real Madrid

Mourinho's biographer won creepiest quote of the week as he declared that Real Madrid manager Solari "will feel Mourinho's breath in the coming months". The general consensus is that Mourinho is still 'liked' by Madrid boss Perez who will plan to make a move for him in the summer.

'Likable' is not exactly what we will remember Mourinho being during his tenure at Real Madrid. Perhaps Perez's memory has been affected by the La Liga and Copa del Rey triumphs that Mourinho oversaw.

Real Madrid have failed to reach the level achieved by Zidane as they sit fourth in La Liga. Yesterday they lost to Leganes in the Copa del Rey.

The bookies have odds of 2/1 on the Portuguese manager, who spent three seasons at the Madrid giants, to move back to Spain.

Portugal

Mourinho has been linked with the Portugal job on and off for years and he has been open about his ambition to manage the national team one day. It might seem like the rational choice right now, considering his recent dip in form at Man Utd and his last season at Chelsea. However, Portugal might be reluctant to let go of Fernando Santos who guided them to Euro 2016 success, a quarter-final in Russia and a semi-final spot in the UEFA Nations League.

The bookies still have this as his second most likely destination at odds of 5/1

Any Chinese Super League Club

He has admitted to being approached by a Chinese club in the past. They will be able to meet his financial demands but would the standard of this league be enough to satisfy the ambition of Mourinho? We don't think so.

The bookies disagree and have this as the third most likely destination at odds of 6/1

PSG

This move would very much depend on their Champions League results. Tuchel has, as expected, done well with PSG in Ligue 1. But the powers that be really want PSG to challenge for the Champions League this year, having fallen short in previous seasons - often in embarrassing fashion.

The bookies have them at 8/1

Mourinho has won the Champions League with both Inter Milan and Porto, something that will of course interest PSG. Which leads us to....

Inter Milan

Mourinho's relationship with this club is perhaps the only one out of all his previous employers that remains untarnished. He won the treble in his final season with them and left a legend. Spalletti has not done as well they would have hoped, but not bad enough to put his job on the line yet. Inter currently sit third in Serie A behind Juventus and Napoli. A lot will depend on how their season progresses.

The bookies have them at 8/1.

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Phil Edmonds

Why Man Utd have always loved Solskjaer

For those of us under thirty Solskjaer is somewhat of an unknown entity. Like with many other managers very few of us can claim to know much about their coveted playing careers. We all know that Ancelotti, Guardiola, Capello, Souness and Mancini were great players but have we ever watched them?

A few quick google searches can throw up a few pictures of a rugged looking Mark Hughes being hugged by Sir Alex, or a Conte - sans hair - sporting a black eye in the classic Juve jersey and we can feel satisfied that yes... they looked the part. But, think of the young generation now, googling pictures and finding a baby faced Norwegian in a frumpy Man Utd top. Somehow the super sub's contribution to United just hasn't stuck like it has with Keane, Scholes, Cantona and Beckham.

Think of the young generation now, googling pictures and finding a baby faced Norwegian in a frumpy Man Utd top

It's time to tell these young whippersnappers just why he was so important to Man Utd:

Instant Impact

Rather like the effect he has to the current Man Utd, Solsjkaer's instant impact came in the form of goals. After joining Man Utd in 1996 having scored 11 goals in 16 league games for Norwegian side Molde, he scored on his debut against Blackburn, and then just didn't stop.

He finished his first season in English football with 18 goals as they win the Premiership title.

Super Sub

During his time at United Solskjaer became known as the super sub. In February 1999, he managed to score four goals in twelve minutes against Nottingham Forest after coming on as a sub.

He scored 28 goals off the bench for Man Utd, and held the record for the most goals as a sub in the Premier League until recently when it was surpassed by Jermaine Defoe.

Man Utd through and through

He has made no secret of the fact that he is as much a fan as he was a player or now a manager. After starting his career at Clausenengen and then Molde, he stayed with Man Utd until his retirement. Spanning a period of eleven years. He played 366 times for Man Utd and scored 126 goals. Not only was he loyal to his club, but he also accepted his role as a sub for long periods in his career.

The 1999 Champions League Final

The 1999 Champions League final remains one of the classics. Sir Alex's Man Utd had come runner's up to Ottmar Hitzfield's Bayern Munich in the group stages but the two giants were now meeting at the Nou Camp for the final. Pierluigi Colina has since stated that this was the most memorable game of his career, comparing the atmosphere to that of a 'lion's roar'. 

Basler puts Bayern in front in the sixth minute, and the score remains 1-0 after 90 minutes. As they head into injury time up pops Teddy Sheringham to equalise, before Solskjaer, who had come on as a sub twelve minutes earlier snatches a second in the 93rd minute. The rest is history, and for this reason, among many others, Man Utd fans will always love their baby faced assassin.

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