There will be a scheduled market suspension for maintenance purposes this Friday morning. In order for the maintenance update to be completed, trading will be temporarily suspended between 00:00 (GMT) and 06:00 (GMT) on 25/01/2019. This includes actions such as buying, selling and cancelling sell orders.
In addition, during this 6 hour period, you will be unable to deposit or withdraw from your Football Index Account.
In the dark, murky world of transfer deals – real and imagined – money doesn’t talk so much as swear. A lack of funds may well preclude a club from slugging it out financially with their main rivals as they go in search of the big names but that doesn’t mean they can’t make the process as difficult as possible for the competition.
Neymar wants to leave PSG and return to Barcelona. Barcelona players want him to come back but even though decision makers do not think it is a good idea, the club can’t afford him anyway.
Real Madrid want him even more than Barcelona do and probably could afford him….just!
Financial Fair Play rules will probably mean that PSG are going to have to sell either Neymar or Mbappe (£13.86), unless the reduce even more the value of the squad. A Mediapart report says that PSG will have to pay back around 170m Euros to appease FFP – which will mean selling one of the stars in 2019.
Taking into consideration Real Madrid’s desire to buy and Paris Saint Germain’s need to sell, and combining this with Barcelona’s ability to do nothing more than muddy the waters (on purpose), it’s fairly safe to assume that the Catalan’s main plan will be to maintain their ‘interest’ in their former star for as long as possible. This is up to the point where Madrid’s Florentino Perez is squeezed so hard, that by the time he announces to the world sometime in the summer the impending arrival of the Brazilian superstar, he’ll probably be doing so in a falsetto voice.
The jury is no longer out as to whether or not Jadon Sancho (£9.65) made the right decision in moving from Manchester City in search of more playing time with Borussia Dortmund.
His form for the German club this season has been breathtaking; all of which augurs well, not just for his club but also for England where he looks destined to become an automatic starter for Gareth Southgate.
But despite what he has achieved so far, the fast, supremely skillful 18-year-old winger-cum-midfielder still has a way to go.
2019 could be the year that propels him into the top echelon of world football.
At the halfway stage of the season his Dortmund side currently sit six points clear at the top of the Bundesliga and next up in the Champions League is a battle against Mauricio Pochettino’s Tottenham Hotspur for a place in the quarter finals.
Finally, England will play the Netherlands in the Nations League semi-finals in Guimaraes, Portugal on 6 June 2019. If they win, a final against either Portugal or Switzerland where victory would likely send the entire country in emotional meltdown while almost certainly establishing Jadon as one of the country’s finest.
With four consecutive league and cup doubles under his belt, Massimiliano Allegri has very little left to prove at Juventus. At the half time stage of this season’s Serie A, nothing has happened to indicate that things are going to be any different this time around. Juventus currently sit nine points clear of second placed Napoli and are on course for their eighth consecutive title, their 35th in total.
So why would so many people be thinking that this could well be the Livorno coach’s last season with the ‘Old Lady’?
Twice in the past four years, Allegri has come within touching distance of winning the Champions League, twice he has been thwarted by Spanish opposition (Barcelona 2014/15, Real Madrid 2016/17).
The club’s purchase of serial Champions League winner, Cristiano Ronaldo (£10.07) is seen by many as the last throw of the dice in his search for the ultimate European trophy. If he achieves it then Allegri would almost certainly see it as a case of ‘mission accomplished’ and time to move on.
If he doesn’t then he might also feel that Juventus and the Champions League were just not meant to be. Over in Spain, Real Madrid will probably see him as the man to restore them to domestic greatness while simultaneously handing him more than a good chance of achieving his Champions League ambitions with the Spanish giants, who already called him last summer but he decided to stay put. And if he goes, Juventus would approach Zidane.
Big year for Mourinho?
Amongst other things, Real Madrid are attracted to Allegri for his ability to work and bond with the players in his charge. Conversely – and somewhat bizarrely – Florentino Perez is also drawn to Jose Mourinho for the polar opposite reason, namely, the uncanny knack the Portuguese coach seems to have for falling out (eventually) with them, and just about everyone else, wherever he goes.
Real Madrid are indeed a family club but one more akin to the Borgias than the Waltons and conspiracies, subterfuge, rumors, counter rumors, allegations et al are never far from the surface at the Santiago Bernabeu.
Between them Cristiano Ronaldo and Sergio Ramos (£5.21), after consultations with Perez, effectively saw off the unfortunate Rafael Benitez before confirming their approval of Zinadine Zidane.
The wielding of such power is not without its dangers, and while in the big bad world of elite Spanish and world football, Real Madrid may be one of the biggest and baddest of dogs. You often get the impression that this particular hound has on occasions, both past and present, been wagged by its tail.
Ronaldo was part of the problem and was jettisoned in a move to Juventus that many felt brought to mind the words ‘cut’, ‘nose’, ‘spite’ and ‘face’, and next in line is the ever vocal, Ramos.
Florentino Perez may well feel the time has come to reduce the power that Ramos wields in the dressing room and prise those ample feet that the defender has got well and truly under the table, away from the Bernabeu.
Who better to do that for him than Mou? Could he do it? Ask Iker Casillas. The problem is Florentino also feels that more likely than not the time has passed for Mourinho to return.
Will Unai Emery make Arsenal better?
Almost certainly but not quite yet, although for the time being, he does at least know the limits within which he is having to operate. He also knows very well the potential – high and low – of the players that he does have.
That’s why we will continue to see less of players like Mesut Ozil (£3.19), certainly until he gets his mindset right, and why players like Torreira (£2.80) and Guendouzi (£2.22) have been given the nod.
He will now look to strengthen hopefully with the acquisition of Denis Suarez (£2.68) (not a given yet, as Barcelona wants a clause that will make Arsenal buy him obligatorily) plus one more player. Although the scarcity of quality centre-backs means it probably won’t be the kind of defender he needs so much.
But any fans expecting a sudden surge of Arsenal activity at the ‘Harrods’ end of the transfer market are in for a disappointment.
Huge wage commitments to players like Ozil (£350,000 a week) and a transfer deficit of around €72.5m from the last windows mean that for the time being he will be looking at loan deals and certainly won’t be splashing any cash until the summer. At that point, yes, new players will come in.
Even when they do spend, the reality is they will never be able to compete financially at the very top level. Emery and all the decision makers at the club will know that it will be a case of once again maximizing the kind of scouting system that ended up bringing the likes of Cesc Fabregas (£1.43) to the club and came agonizingly close to also securing the services of Gerard Piqué (£1.75) and Leo Messi (£15.92).
That fundamentally is the way ahead for Emery, as is the system he knows well, especially from his time at Sevilla where the magician called Monchi performed the footballing equivalent of turning water into wine on a regular basis in his role as director of football.
Arsenal have certainly done similar in the past with players like Nicolas Anelka, Emanuel Petit, Marc Overmars all of who were bought cheap before being sold for big money once they had done a job for the club.
Once the club has the system he wants in place (which might mean the departure of Sven Mislintat; who seems a square peg in a round hole) then I am sure that we will see a better, more competitive, more successful Arsenal.
It’s been quite a week for Leeds United. Having been caught red-handed spying on their upcoming opponents -Derby County- during a training session, Marcelo Bielsa put his hands up and admitted these ungentlemanly tactics were all his doing. Apparently this sort of thing happens all the time in Argentina, but the British Media have been quick to condemn these tactics! Still, I guess Bielsa’s plan worked to some degree, as Leeds ran out 2-0 winners against Derby with one of the goals coming from Kemar Roofe (£1.52), who made it 14 goals for the season!
Amidst all the furor of ‘Spygate’, Leeds now find themselves sitting pretty 4 points clear at the top of the Championship table. The club have come out and denied that Bielsa will be pushed out following his spying antics and they will have every reason to feel confident about ending their 15 year hiatus from the Premier League Promised Land. With a character like Bielsa at the helm, Leeds would certainly make a worthy addition to the Premier League, as the Argentine has already shown that he doesn’t shy away from a bit of drama. But Leeds also boast some very sought after young talent, with one player in particular already catching the eye of Football Index traders: Jack Clarke (£3.67).
As of the time of writing, Jack Clarke finds himself at a value of £3.67 and if he can carry on the way he’s going, he could quickly find himself entering the £4.00 club. Despite his tender years, Clarke has already shown he has the quality to mix it in the Championship and he’s already managed 2 goals and 2 assists; not bad for an 18 year old. Regardless of whether Leeds make the jump up to the Premier League or not, it seems the vultures are already circling around Clarke, with reports that the likes of Man City, Tottenham and Arsenal are already taking a liking to the youngster.
It’s interesting to note that despite playing in a lower league in England, many young talents are still holding their own when it comes to the Index market. Jarrod Bowen (£2.84) is another such example of a young, English striker doing the business in the Championship and the Football Index. 22 year old Bowen has been Hull City’s standout player this season and his 13 goals have accounted for 33% of all of Hull’s goals in the league this season; no wonder the inevitable links with Tottenham have already begun…
Then there’s the case of Sunderland’s Josh Maja (£1.90). Currently plying his trade in lowly League 1, Maja’s form in front of goal has finally given Sunderland fans something to cheer about this season. However, the joy surrounding Maja doesn’t seem as though it will last for too much longer. Maja is currently digging his heels in regarding a new contract from Sunderland and with his deal running out in the summer, there are that Celtic will make a play for the striker. Another potential destination for Maja is for him to follow the likes of Jadon Sancho (£9.66) to Germany; after all he is now free to negotiate with foreign clubs! With the recent success of Sancho and co. in Germany, it certainly seems as though we will continue to see more and more young talent make their way to the Bundesliga in the near future!
After a winter break that felt like an eternity, but was actually shorter than usual, the Bundesliga returns on Friday as Bayern Munich take on Hoffenheim, looking to close the gap on mid-season leaders Borussia Dortmund.
The second-half of the season is always more exciting than the first as teams battle against relegation and fight for European places. Usually, Bayern seal the title with a few games to go, but this year promises to be different as Dortmund keep firing under Lucien Favre.
The Ruckrunde also regularly sees young players introduced into first teams having gained experience in and around squads in the first-half of the season and integrated themselves into their new surroundings.
A few of these up-and-coming players have already tasted Bundesliga action in the first half of the season, while others are waiting for their opportunity to impress.
One such rising star is United States international Josh Sargent (£2.06), who was signed for Werder Bremen during the 2017-18 season, but could not make his debut until late last year as he was still under-18. The striker finally was handed his debut in December, and made an immediate impact by scoring with his first touch, just two minutes after coming off the bench. He has two goals in three games in total so far, but will definitely be afforded more opportunities by Florian Kohfeldt as Werder look to find their own Christian Pulisic (£4.20).
Weston McKennie (£1.28) is now a key figure for Schalke, but the Gelsenkirchen side have another American talent who has come through the ranks at the club. Forward Haji Wright (£1.54) got some experience with Schalke’s reserves as well as on loan at Sandhausen last season, but also was a senior debutant for his parent club late last year. The 20-year-old has played five times since his debut in November, but will be hoping to improve his scoring record in the second-half of the campaign after getting off the mark with his first Bundesliga goal in 2018.
One player who had no problem finding the net early in the season was Fortuna Dusseldorf striker Dodi Lukebakio (£1.48), who has a fantastic return of seven goals in 14 Bundesliga games since arriving on loan from Watford. He played on the wing for Anderlecht before moving to the Hornets, but has flourished in a central role for Fortuna and was named Bundesliga Rookie of the Month for December.
Liverpool’s Marko Grujic (£1.01) finished as runner-up in that award, and is another excellent young talent gaining experience in Germany. The Serbian midfielder is highly thought of at Anfield, and probably even more adored at Hertha Berlin. He missed time through injury earlier this season and that resulted in Hertha completely losing form. When he returned, the form returned too, so they’re eager to keep him fit and push for a high finish.
Florian Neuhaus (£1.99) was not expected to be a regular first team player for Borussia Monchengladbach this season, but has brought the form he showed in the second tier to the top flight and netted his first Bundesliga goal in December for the Champions League-chasing side. A Germany Under-21 international, he is confident on the ball and is among the top passers and assisters in the league already at just 21.
Borussia Dortmund have twice had a player win the Bundesliga Rookie of the Month this season, but it actually wasn’t England wonderkid Jadon Sancho (£9.58) picking up the award. The winger is ineligible as he played in the league last season, so team-mate Achraf Hakimi (£2.94) has taken the trophy twice after impressing on loan from Real Madrid.
Jean-Philippe Mateta (£1.17) has yet to win the award, but has been shortlisted a couple of times already this season. A new signing from Lyon, he never scored in Ligue 1, but didn’t really get a chance to impress in France, being sent on loan to Le Havre last season. The France U-21 international has had no such problems in Germany, and has five goals in 17 games already this season as he looks more than capable of playing at the top level with Mainz.
Both AC Milan and Juventus are in Saudi Arabia, but – rather than focussing on Wednesday night’s Supercoppa Italiana between the two Serie A clubs – the headlines are very much centred around a player that has a history with each of them. Gonzalo Higuain moved to San Siro on loan in the summer after becoming surplus to requirements in Turin, for the most part due to the signing of Cristiano Ronaldo.
The Argentina international often displays a lack of mental toughness and has struggled to adjust to life in a red and black shirt, prompting multiple claims in the press that he could be due to join up with one of his former bosses at Chelsea. Under the tutelage of Maurizio Sarri at Napoli, Higuain had the best campaign of his career to date, breaking the Serie A single season scoring record with an astonishing 36 goals.
Now, reports of a move are gathering pace, with Sky Italia having reported on Tuesday that the striker will sit out of the SuperCoppa ahead of the impending transfer. Of course, the finer details will have to be ironed out, as Milan paid Juventus a £16 million fee for a season-long loan. The Rossoneri will have to be reimbursed somehow, as will his parent club, with the Premier League outfit liable to cover the bill.
But why is the striker so keen to move already? His initial transfer was lauded as a fresh challenge, and supporters of the Milan giants were hoping that this was the missing piece of the puzzle that could see them qualify for the Champions League. “I chose Milan because I liked the conviction with which they sought me out and the conviction in their project,” the Argentine confessed to La Gazzetta dello Sport back in October.
Time moves on swiftly in football, and after a quick flurry of goals in his first three months after arriving in Milan, Higuain now has just one goal to his name since the end of October. That period also saw him sent off in a match against former club Juve, his tendency to lose his cool under pressure rearing its ugly head once again.
The striker does seem to enjoy a good relationship with Gennaro Gattuso at least, the boss having joked that if it was up to him he would “invite him to my house, lock him in a room and throw him food every two to three hours” after last weekend’s Coppa Italia win over Sampdoria. Even his Coach admits he can’t put his finger on the exact problem, however it does look as though the current environment just isn’t right for him at the present time.
It was his former boss at Real Madrid, Fabio Capello, that hit the nail on the head regarding the situation. “I hope that for Milan’s sake, he can overcome his mental block and score lots of goals between now and the end of the season,” he told Radio Anch’io Sport earlier this week. Higuain’s quality isn’t up for discussion. My feeling is that Higuain wants to go and play under a Coach who knows his qualities and can enhance them.
They say that one man’s trash is another man’s treasure, and Milan don’t need a striker that is unable to score goals. Chelsea, on the other hand, could find that the signing of Higuain will become golden as he makes his emotional reunion with Maurizio Sarri.
It’s no surprise that Chelsea have been linked with Napoli right-back Elseid Hysaj (£1.16). Not only has the 24-year-old been one of the Serie A side’s most consistent performers since joining the club in 2015, but he is a player in which Coach Maurizio Sarri truly trusts.
Life must’ve been hard for the Hysaj family growing up in Albania, as Elseid’s father emigrated to Italy just two months after he was born to find work as a bricklayer. By the age of 14, he was already a promising footballer and had joined his father on the peninsula in order to search for a club. The Empoli youth sector was the destination, having been rejected by nearby Fiorentina, but it wasn’t until the club were promoted to Serie A under Sarri that Hysaj began to shine.
In 2014/15, he would make 33 appearances for the club as the Coach perfected his attractive passing style, honed under methods such as drone technology in order to further increase the precision of his system.
It was no surprise that the right-back was one of the players Sarri would insist on taking Hysaj him to Napoli after he was recruited for the following campaign. His right-back made the third-highest number of average passes per game for Empoli in 14/15 (46.3) and connected with 80.4% of those attempts, all in a position not usually known for a high number in this particular stat.
Hysaj would go on to make 37, 34 and 35 appearances respectively in each of the three seasons Sarri took charge of the Partenopei, reinforcing exactly how important the full-back is for a man who relies on regularity in order to achieve the necessary results. “Sarri leaving Napoli is not good news for me, as we’ve been working together for six years,” the player declared this summer after receiving news of his boss’ appointment at Stamford Bridge.
Despite heavy links to Chelsea last summer, Hysaj would remain at Napoli and has since made 14 league starts under new boss Carlo Ancelotti. However, the opening of the January transfer window has now reignited those claims, and the rumours have continued to be fuelled by the player’s agent.
“The important thing is hearing that Ancelotti respects Hysaj,” representative Mario Giuffredi told RAI after a meeting with the club last week. “He confirmed his faith in him. Of course, the January transfer window is always to be evaluated and there has been talk of Chelsea, for example. If there are situations that are mutually advantageous, then we’d evaluate them. If nothing happens in January, then we’ll discuss a contract extension.”
Yet the question of whether his arrival at Chelsea is what the club need right now remains to be seen. Sarri’s over-reliance on certain players is something the Coach was heavily criticised for during his time in the Italian top-flight, and such lack of rotation ultimately cost Napoli the chance to win the Scudetto last term.
“He tries to get players that he knows fit his style of football,” Empoli season ticket holder Francesco Sani thas said. “In itself this is nothing particularly out of the ordinary, but I see it as one of his weaknesses.”
Sarri’s “comfort blanket” approach with some of his former players is perhaps a cause for concern, but nor should this detract from the clear talent of Hysaj. The right-back is certainly an improvement on former Torino man Davide Zappacosta, and for this reason alone it may be worth a bid from Chelsea before the end of the month.