Today marks the first day that Goal & Assist Dividends are available to win in the UEFA Nations League. If you need a reminder of how it works, please click here. To confirm, tonight’s fixtures are not eligible to win Match Day Dividends. Today is a Treble Media Day (more info here), check out who is […]
Here’s a question for you; apart from the obvious that they are all great footballers what do Luis Suarez, Gianluigi Buffon, Paul Pogba, Yaya Touré, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, N’Golo Kante, Gerard Piqué, Dimitri Payet, Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi and Didier Drogba all have in common?
All of them to a differing degree could have become Arsenal players during the reign of Arsene Wenger, first at Highbury and then at the Emirates.
Arsenal’s much-documented intransigence and inflexibility in transfer negotiations has on occasions brought home the bacon (Nicholas Anelka and Cesc Fabregas) but more often than not it is a respect for the finances of the club and his deep sense of responsibility that cost them dear.
When it comes to missing out on signing top foreign players, Arsenal’s failure to entice the then 18-year-old Samuel Chukwueze to the Emirates from the Nigerian Diamond Academy will probably not be seen as the biggest missed opportunity in Arsene Wenger’s chequered transfer dealing history; not yet, anyway, but watch this space.
The winger had first come to the Gunners’ – and many other top European clubs – attention in 2015 after helping his country win the Under 17 World Cup. At that point in time, Arsenal could have secured his services for the grand total of £2.5m, a figure that would have included all performance-related add-ons. An initial fee of £1.5m plus £500,000 when he broke into the first team and then a final £500,000 when he made his international debut.
In the end they couldn’t agree on the payment terms and Villarreal stepped in to snap him up on a five-year deal in September last year.
After some excellent performances with the Villarreal B side the Segunda B – the third tier of Spanish football – Chukwuese has this season earned a place in the first team squad. He made his debut in the Submarine’s Europa league match against Rangers before scoring in the club’s Copa del Rey 3-3 draw at Almeria.
His league debut came on 5 November 2018, where he played the full 90-minutes in a 1–1 home draw against Levante. The following week he scored Villarreal’s opening goal in their 2-2 draw at Rayo Vallecano.
This form hasn’t gone unnoticed and he has now been called up to the Super Eagles squad by Nigeria coach, Gernot Rohr for their upcoming 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) qualifier against the Bafana Bafana of South Africa.
Rohr says of him: “Chukwueze has a good left foot‚ is quick‚ has a low centre of gravity‚ which gives him a very good balance‚ and can deliver and score. We need a player like him to give us balance in attack and he can also play through the middle.”
He is, I would say, a skilful dribbler and an accomplished playmaker. Many believe he is the natural replacement in the Nigerian side for Victor Moses who retired from the Super Eagles.
He is described by many as the new Arjen Robben, quite the comparison. Back in June, in a bid to guarantee his services, they offered fresh terms which included a buy out clause of €10m, this just highlights how highly they rate him.
But with many clubs reportedly making inquiries about his availability it soon became clear that they would have to start fresh negotiations with the player, sooner rather than later. A large increase in the buy out clause was a priority if they were to keep unwelcome advances for the player at bay.
Arsenal may well resume their interest; suffice to say it would take considerably more than £2.5m to bring the precocious Samuel to the Emirates at the second attempt.
But now with a relatively new team dealing with the transfer side of the business, soon to be flush with cash following a £300m five season shirt deal with Adidas, this is an Arsenal that will probably be much more pro-active on the market as they cast avaricious glances across the channel at Lille’s 23-year-old striker, Nicolas Pepe who is currently taking the Ligue One by storm.
Pepe has been on the club’s radar for some time now but following Danny Welbeck’s dreadful injury, interest could intensify as they go looking for a replacement.
Supremely skilful, agile, explosive and ‘whippet’ fast, Pepe would more than fit the bill. As good at creating goals as he is scoring them he has been likened to a combination of Wilfried Zaha and Ousmane Dembele.
His club Lille currently sit in second place in Ligue One and Pepe with eight goals and seven assists in 13 matches this season is primarily the reason why.
He was valued around €30m at the start of the season but following his rich vein of form, the French media now price him closer to €50m (£45m).
He has impressed ever since making the move to Lille from Angers in the summer of 2017 where he signed for a reported €12m (£10m), a transfer fee that with each game is looking more and more like a bargain.
A career in the lower leagues of French football led to a move to Angers in 2013 where he made his professional debut in November 2014. He spent a year in the B team before being loaned out to US Orleans to hone his skills.
His form on his return earned him a place in the first team, selection for the Ivory Coast national side and then a move to Lille in the summer of 2017.
As his performances improved, the orderly queue to secure his services has grown with the likes of Manchester United, Arsenal, Bayern Munich, Borussia Dortmund and Barcelona all rumoured to be more than interested.
For the time being Lille are being bullish about their young talent no doubt desperate to ensure they can hold on to him, certainly long enough to be able to secure for themselves a place in next season’s Champions League.
Lille manager Christophe Galtier said of him: “Nicolas has become an intransferable player. I know that the president wants to keep him all season, and Nicholas also wants to stay for the full season.”
After then, reality and history show us that Lille, who have a history of bringing on some wonderful players (Eden Hazard for one) before moving them on to both the players’ and the club’s benefit, will probably look at cashing in on their prize asset, probably in the summer window.
Footballer Position Club Price Time Guide Seydou Sy Goalkeeper Monaco £0.60 10:00 – 12:00 Oliver Torres Midfielder FC Porto £0.80 10:00 – 12:00 Julio Pleguezuelo Defender Arsenal £0.60 10:00 – 12:00 Martin Linnes Defender Galatasaray £0.50 10:00 – 12:00 Stefano Denswil Defender Club Brugge £0.60 10:00 – 12:00 Jean-Clair Todibo Midfielder Toulouse £0.80 12:00 – […]
The Bundesliga appears to be undergoing a radical transformation this season with perennial title winners Bayern Munich not even featuring in the Champions League places at present after a 3-2 defeat to the current league leaders Borussia Dortmund at the weekend, but it’s the rise of Die Adler (The Eagles) that has made real waves on Football Index.
The signs of a rising Eintracht Frankfurt were very much there last season under manager Niko Kovac, a fine DFB Pokal cup win over Bayern Munich (despite knowing he was to become the new man in charge at the Allianz Arena) which saw them qualify for this seasons Europa League. Under the helm of new manage Adi Hutter the upward trajectory has quite simply continued. The Eagles enjoyed a thumping 3-0 victory over current Champions League participants Schalke 04 to put themselves into the Champions League places themselves and it’s the attacking trio of Sebastian Haller (£2.24), Ante Rebic (£2.49) and Luka Jovic (£3.43) who are capturing all of the headlines and making the Eagles firm favourites for traders.
Leading the front line for Eintracht Frankfurt is Serbian striker, Luka Jovic (£3.43). The front man is in stunning form at present which was witnessed by his five goals in the 7-1 rout of Fortuna Dusseldorf last month, which was one of the first games where Goal and Assist Dividends were on offer to traders. In total this season he has hit nine goals in nine games which has unsurprisingly alerted several Premier League big guns. It is rumoured that Liverpool, Newcastle United and Tottenham Hotspur are all said to have been looking at the Serbian. These rumours coupled with the stunning form has seen Jovic rise from £1.98 in the last month, that’s a rise of £1.48 per share, a return of 74%. The 20-year old’s stock is rising on both the transfer market and Football Index.
The next member of the front three is Frenchman, Sebastian Haller (£2.24). The former FC Utrecht striker plays alongside Jovic in a 3-5-2 formation and is enjoying the form of his life under the stewardship of Adi Hutter. The striker only managed 9 goals in the entirety of last season but already finds himself on eight goals with a further five assists as we enter the November international break. Similar to his strike partner, Haller was available to traders at £1.13 just a month ago and has increased in share price by almost 100% in this period, whilst reaching highs of £2.58. It is therefore little surprise that Haller too has been heavily linked with a transfer to the Premier League with Rafael Benítez and Mauricio Pochettino said to be big fans. It would be crazy for Eintracht Frankfurt to let one of their biggest stars leave in January but should the good form continue, Haller’s list of admirers look set to grow.
The final member of the attacking trio in the free role just behind the front two is Croatian, Ante Rebic (£2.49). Rebic enjoyed a fine summer in Russia starring for Croatia as they reached the World Cup Final, which saw strong links to Jose Mourinho and Manchester United, yet the good form has continued this season. Rebic was a little late back to full fitness this season but his statistics are just as impressive as his colleagues, the Eintracht Frankfurt number 4 has plundered 4 goals in 5 starts with a further 2 assists. The previous Red Devils links mean Rebic wasn’t as under the radar as his teammates but he too is up by £0.47 a share in the past month. Will United be back knocking on Frankfurt’s door?
The Eagles are well and truly rising again thanks to the efforts of the dynamic front three, are they in your portfolio too?
Footballer Position Club Price Time Guide Samuel Chukwueze Midfielder Villarreal £1.40 10:00 – 12:00 Kevin Mbabu Defender Young Boys £0.60 10:00 – 12:00 Kouadio Dabila Defender Lille £0.60 10:00 – 12:00 Elias Sorensen Forward Newcastle United £0.80 10:00 – 12:00 Eberechi Eze Midfielder Queens Park Rangers £0.80 10:00 – 12:00 Jack Clarke Forward Leeds United […]
Der Klassiker has been billed as Germany’s answer to El Clasico in Spain, but is only a relatively recent phenomenon in league rivalries compared to some of the other derbies taking place this weekend.
The Manchester derby on Sunday will be watched by a global audience, with AC Milan hosting Juventus later that day in another Italian classic.
Despite lacking the historical background of these games, in recent years, it has been one of the biggest and most important games in German football, peaking in 2013 when Bayern Munich defeated Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League final.
Having lost the last five Klassikers, Dortmund will be looking for revenge over their recent rivals, and look primed to do so, having had a brilliant start to life under new head coach Lucien Favre.
Thanks to their incredible record of just one defeat in their opening 15 games of the season and Bayern’s stuttering start to the Niko Kovac era, Dortmund go into the game as favourites, holding a four point lead in the league table.
Bayern chief Uli Hoeness admitted as much earlier this week, but his ‘favourites’ tag did not go over well with his opposite number Michael Zorc, who responded: “It’s totally irrelevant. It is all be decided on the pitch. And it’s not important who is favourite. You don’t get an extra goal for that.”
Goals will surely be the order of the day as Favre’s aim is to outscore opponents, while Bayern’s backline has looked shaky all season and goalkeeper Manuel Neuer is suffering a major dip in form, having kept just two Bundesliga clean sheets so far and none in his last six league games.
Favre’s big question is whether to play Jadon Sancho from the start. The young English winger has been in excellent form, earning a nomination for Bundesliga Player of the Month for October, along with BVB team-mate Achraf Hakimi.
Sancho has been mostly used from the bench and could be utilised to similar effect agaunst Bayern, coming on around the hour mark to exploit their tired defence. If deployed on the left, he could come up against Joshua Kimmich, one of Bayern’s rare consistent players this season, but also their greatest threat to create chances thanks to his excellent crossing ability.
That’s if Kimmich is restored to right-back, of course. Kovac tested out the versatile German as a defensive midfielder last time out, but the idea backfired against Freiburg, who scored late to snatch a 1-1 draw.
Injury to Thiago could pave the way for either Leon Goretzka or Renato Sanches to start in midfield, while Serge Gnabry has shown promise and could be chosen ahead of Franck Ribery, who returned to start in the 2-0 Champions League win over AEK Athens.
Robert Lewandowski has returned to form at the right time, hitting two goals in midweek before he faces his former club. Mats Hummels also will start against his former employers, while Mario Gotze is pushing for a start for Dortmund having had a terrible time during his stay in Munich.
However, Gotze has fallen down the pecking order under Favre, with Sancho, Jacob Bruun Larsen, and Christian Pulisic all competing for places in the attack, where Marco Reus has discovered his best form.
With Dortmund so impressive in front of goal and Bayern finding their finishing touch, Saturday’s Klassiker promises to be the most competitive – and most entertaining – in years!
Slowly, steadily and unspectacularly, Montpellier have manoeuvred themselves into second place in Ligue 1.
While the spotlight has fallen elsewhere, PSG’s relentless winning form, Lille’s overdue renaissance or the failings of Lyon and Marseille to show any kind of consistency, Michel Der Zakarian’s outfit have stealthily worked a path to the silver medal position.
Surprise champions of France in 2011-12, the Languedoc outfit and in train to challenge for a place in the Champions League next season.
Unlike France’s traditional big clubs, their success has been built upon relentless consistency, the foundation of which has been defensive. Indeed, no team in Le Championnat has conceded fewer goals than Montpellier ahead of their trip to Angers on Saturday.
Der Zakarian, who has not seen his team go down to a defeat since a shock home loss to Dijon on the opening night of the season, has also started to get them functioning at the other end of the park, too.
Bordeaux head coach Gus Poyet resigned over his club’s decision to sell Gaetan Laborde to La Paillade in August, and it is the burly centre-forward who has done much of the damage for Montpellier of late.
Marseille discovered just what a handful he can be last weekend as he scored twice in a 3-0 win. The first was a headed effort after a subtle piece of movement left him unmarked, while the second was an opportunistic finish after the visiting side had made a shambles of defending a seemingly harmless situation.
The 24-year-old has six goals for the season, equalling his best return at this level and just two short of his previous best, which was attained in Ligue 2 on loan at Clermont.
Indeed, with five goals in his last five games, this is comfortably his best spell of his career to date.
Arguably there is more to come from Montpellier in an offensive sense. Florent Mollet was picked up from relegated Metz in the summer and operates in an attacking midfield role behind the two traditional centre forwards.
Injury has restricted his effectiveness so far this season, but in eight outings he has a goal and four assists. Having netted seven times for Metz last term, where he was their outstanding player, there can be little doubt that he has not hit his full capacity yet.
Der Zakarian, meanwhile, has made a 3-5-2 formation his trademark since taking over the coaching reins at the club in the summer of 2017. Wing-backs necessarily have played a huge role in their success during this time, with Jerome Roussillon outstanding last season before moving to Wolfsburg in the summer.
Ambroise Oyongo was his replacement. Signed from Montreal Impact last January, he was integrated slowly into the squad with an eye on replacing Roussillon. He has already shown himself to be entirely comfortable in an attacking sense, scoring two goals in nine matches, while providing solid cover at the back.
A more established figure at the club is Ruben Aguilar. An error in the Football Manager database last year saw Bolivia try to call up him, despite the 25-year-old’s lack of heritage, but he has been tipped as an outsider for a France spot as a result of his formidable performances over the last 18 months.
Former Auxerre defender Aguilar does not have the eye for goal of Oyongo, but he does have a couple of assists to his credit.
One man who has already had his exploits noticed by Didier Deschamps is goalkeeper Benjamin Lecomte, who profited from an injury to Hugo Lloris earlier in the season to be called up by the world champions. With Steve Mandanda in mixed form currently, the 27-year-old could become an established figure in the national side.
His save percentage in Ligue 1 this term stands at 78.1, fifth in the league and significantly ahead of more established custodians like Stephane Ruffier (70.1), Anthony Lopes (67.5) and Mandanda (58.6).
Indeed, of all goalkeepers in Europe’s top 5 leagues who have made at least 25 saves, he ranks 10th.
This level of solidarity has underpinned Montpellier’s unexpected push for the Champions League, though before Christmas it is set to be severely tested.
December promises to be an onerous month, with fixtures against Monaco, Lille, PSG, Nantes and Lyon over a three-week period.
If that is successfully negotiated, then this is a team that really will start to dream.
Serie A sides Napoli, Inter and Juventus all face key opposition in the Champions League this week, and the trio made the best possible preparation with all three recording domestic victories on Saturday. Here at Football Index, we have put together a guide to what to expect from each of these sides as they prepare […]
Footballer Position Club Price Time Guide Mason Greenwood Midfielder Manchester United £1.80 12:00 – 14:00 Max Aarons Defender Norwich City £1.00 10:00 – 12:00 Grady Diangana Midfielder West Ham United £1.40 12:00 – 14:00 Olimpiu Morutan Midfielder FCSB £0.80 10:00 – 12:00 Dennis Man Forward FCSB £0.80 10:00 – 12:00 Mikhail Ignatov Midfielder Spartak Moscow […]