It’s certainly a great time to be a Football Index trader. With the Footie hitting new highs this week of 50,000, we witnessed yet another stunning day of frenzied trading yesterday.
We’re now a full week into the January transfer window and it seems that the daily rumour-mill is having a significant impact on the market. Monday’s big winner was Chelsea hotshot Callum Hudson-Odoi (£6.76) who has seen a whopping rise of £2.56 in the last 7days, as his protracted transfer saga to the Bundesliga continues to hog the headlines. Hudson-Odoi is currently leading the Media Rankings today, could he make it 2 wins in a week?
We’ve already seen the positive impact that moving to the Bundesliga has had on some of England’s young stars. Jadon Sancho (£9.17) is the current poster-boy for young English talent making the move abroad and he has been in remarkable form throughout this campaign for Dortmund. Sancho has seen a rise of 67p in the last 7 days and has broken the £9.00 barrier and although the Bundesliga doesn’t even kick off for another week, it looks as though there is no stopping Sancho at this moment of time. Just one month ago, Sancho was sitting at a price of £6.76. His recent surge in value represents an increase of 35.6% in just one month. When you consider the return you would have made if your money was sat in a bank, it’s little wonder so many people are seeing the light and jumping on the Football Index bandwagon.
Another young English star who has reaped the rewards of playing in Germany is Arsenal youngster Reiss Nelson (£4.21). The Hoffenheim loanee has already hit 6 goals in the league and is set to stay in Germany for the rest of the season. Having hit previous highs of £4.65, it wouldn’t be beyond the realms of possibility that he could hit this figure once again.
Looking at the market, it seems that traders are quickly taking a liking to Milan new boy Lucas Paqueta (£4.20). The Brazilian hotshot has been absolutely flying recently, whilst also posting growth figures of a £1.16 rise over the past 7 days. The Brazilian has now completed his transfer to Milan for over £30million and the Milan fans (and traders) have every reason to be excited about what is in store with Paqueta. The Brazilian has already made a name for himself for being able to beat his marker with surging runs and tricky dribbling. Having managed 11 goals in the Brazilian league this season, Paqueta also has an eye for goal and we have seen in the past just how valuable attacking midfielders can be on the Index. With many hoping that Lucas Paqueta is the next in line to become an Index star, the early signs are certainly looking very bright for the Brazilian.
He’s famous for his off-field antics almost as much as what he does on the pitch. From appearing on social media ballroom dancing, playing “keepy-uppy” on the beach with his wife and making a bizarre music video of his famous goal celebration, Atalanta forward Papu Gomez is certainly a character.
He may like to play the clown, however the performances of the 30-year-old prove that he leaves his crazy in the dressing room. His career began in the youth sector of Arsenal de Sarandi in his native Argentina, and Papu would receive his first call-up to the senior side in 2005. A move to San Lorenzo would follow, but it was in 2010 that the 22-year-old first moved to Italy, signing for Catania after attracting attention from European scouts.
Here’s where it gets a bit weird.
Success with Catania – including six months of working under then novice boss Diego Simeone – meant that several big Serie A sides were interested in capturing the forward’s signature, however he ended up in the Ukrainian league with Metalist Kharkiv citing Champions League football as the reason for his departure.
“In 2012, before I went to Metalist Kharkiv, I had dinner with Simeone in Buenos Aires,” Papu admitted to Marca recently. “He wanted me to join Atletico Madrid. Unfortunately, Catania wanted too much money.”
It was a shame that such a move hadn’t worked out for Gomez, as his time in Ukraine turned out to be an unmitigated disaster. Just five months after the pint-sized star had arrived in January 2014, he was already asking for a transfer to Fiorentina but eventually stuck it out until the end of that campaign.
“I cannot stay in Ukraine with the political situation as it is and people being killed in the street,” Gomez told Football.ua at the beginning of the following season. “It’s an anguished situation, very unstable, as we are all sad and living in a state of panic.”
He returned to Italy that September, arriving in Bergamo to join up with Atalanta. There, he has benefited from the 2016 arrival of Coach Gian Piero Gasperini more than any other player. The experienced boss has taken the club to new heights, qualifying for the Europa League in each of the last two seasons and is a huge fan of his veteran striker.
“Gomez was extraordinary two years ago and excellent last year,” Gasperini declared in a press conference last month. “This year, too, he’s keeping up a consistent level of form. His range is a bit different, he plays farther back and more centrally, where he can help distribute play.”
Indeed, in that number ten role, Gomez has provided all five of his total league assists this season, scoring four of his five domestic strikes from further back too. Even at 30 years old, he continues to put in top level performances and those versus Everton in September 2017 were among his best ever, introducing this little-known, underrated player – and the “Papu Dance” celebration – to a wider European audience.
However, Atalanta now face losing their star – who was handed his first ever call-up to the Argentina national side in May ‘17 – in the January transfer window. Reports suggest that Independiente are keen to secure his signature, while clubs in China and the UAE are also said to be ready to offer a lucrative financial offer to persuade Gomez to make the switch.
Perhaps he will be cautious over leaving Italy after having his fingers burned in Ukraine, but what’s for certain is that Papu Gomez will not shy away from making a controversial decision if it is the right thing to do for him.
The transfer window is back open and already we have seen a major deal involving one of the Bundesliga’s biggest players. Christian Pulisic (£4.35) will join Chelsea in the summer, but has been loaned back to Borussia Dortmund for the rest of the season to help with their title bid. That move will be eagerly watched by football fans in the United States, but also by the rest of Germany and even in England as it might have started a domino effect of transfers.
Pulisic’s move to Chelsea has helped pave the way for Callum Hudson-Odoi (£5.68) to leave Stamford Bridge, with the teenager looking to gain more regular playing time and Bayern Munich willing to take a £30 million risk on the unproven talent. Chelsea are reluctant to sell, but the Pulisic transfer also leaves Dortmund looking for a replacement.
The most likely signing for Dortmund is Borussia Monchengladbach winger Thorgan Hazard (£5.13), who coincidentally is a former Chelsea player, having failed to make the same breakthrough in the Premier League as brother Eden (£13.35). The younger Hazard has been one of the best players in the Bundesliga this season, only second to Marco Reus (£3.09) in the first half of the campaign. With Dortmund getting £58m for Pulisic, they have money to spend, it’s just a matter of deciding who to spend it on.
Another option that has come into focus is RB Leipzig forward Timo Werner, who is nominally a striker, but usually drifts out wide while playing beside target man Yussuf Poulsen (£1.46). He has been linked with a move to Dortmund (as well as Bayern Munich and Liverpool), and could allow Lucien Favre the option to play two in attack, as he has often had to rely on Mario Gotze (£1.27) as a false nine this season.
Maximilian Philipp (£1.27) has not had too many chances since Paco Alcacer (£3.13) arrived from Barcelona, and could go the opposite direction to Werner with Dortmund using him as a makeweight in the deal to get the Germany striker from Leipzig. RB bosses have already indicated that they will not keep Werner next season if he does not sign a new contract, as they are not willing to let him leave for free in the summer of 2020. As a result, if Dortmund, Bayern, or even Liverpool are prepared to wait until this summer, they might be able to get the talented attacker for less than £50m.
Alexander Isak (£1.25) also looks set to leave Dortmund in January, having failed to live up to his enormous potential. He is nowhere in Favre’s plans, but BVB will probably loan him out rather than do a permanent deal as they won’t want to give up on their investment so quickly. The 19-year-old has been linked with Besiktas as well as a drop to the second tier in Germany.
Bayern Munich have yet to make their mind up on James Rodriguez (£5.33), who is in the second year of a two-year loan from Real Madrid. The Bavarians have the option to purchase him for £38m in the summer, and will probably take up that part of the agreement even if he is surplus to requirements. Rodriguez is returning to fitness for the second half of the campaign, and will battle Thomas Muller (£1.56) for the starting role in support of Robert Lewandowski (£3.07). Mixed reports have come from Germany about his happiness at the club, but an increased number of appearances and starts could keep him beyond the summer.
Franck Ribery (£0.94), Arjen Robben (£0.77), and Rafinha (£1.53) will all leave the club at the end of the season. Robben has been linked with a move back to the Netherlands, while Rafinha looks set to join a club in his homeland, Brazil. Ribery turns 36 in April and could either retire or move to China or Major League Soccer to finish his career.
Bayern are eager to bring in defensive cover. Benjamin Pavard (£2.06) is a long-term target, with speculation rife that he has already agreed a move from Stuttgart. All parties have denied this rumour, with the agreement reportedly worked out during the 2018 World Cup. Bayern’s interest in Atletico Madrid’s Lucas Hernandez (£1.76) has been confirmed by both clubs, but they may wait until the summer to sign him for less than his £76m release clause.
Gladbach may be willing to sell Thorgan Hazard to Dortmund, but they have no intention of letting Alassane Plea (£2.36) move on. The French striker joined the club in the summer but has nine league goals this season since moving for £22.5m.
Schalke are in the market for a new striker and have been linked with almost every underperforming forward in Europe. Hoffenheim’s European exit has caused them to look to offload some players, and more departures are expected in January. Bayer Leverkusen have a new head coach, but Peter Bosz may choose to work with what he has rather than looking for reinforcements.
The January-long scramble for players has begun all over Europe’s top leagues, with clubs seeking to strengthen their squads ahead of the climax of the season.
It is a notoriously difficult time to find value yet there is no doubt that there are some top players available during this period, whether it be due to unsettled personal situations or the financial position of their club.
Ligue 1, of course, is no different and here are seven of the highest-profile stars who could be on their way before the window closes on January 31.
For good or for bad, the Italian cannot seem to stay out of the headlines. Unfortunately for him, all of the talking points surrounding him this term have been for negative reasons. After returning to pre-season training late and out of shape after failing to force a summer move, he has failed to produce anything like an acceptable level of form and remains goalless this season.
Head coach Patrick Vieira appears at a loss as to how to extract the best from the mercurial attacker, but though a move seemed inevitable in December, the former Arsenal midfielder has refused to confirm that the forward could be on his way.
Reports continue to link him with a move back to Inter or to Marseille, where he nearly signed up in August, but with Super Mario it’s wise to expect the unexpected.
Lille will visit French football’s financial police on Monday, January 7 in order to have their budget ratified for the second half of the season and, they hope, to avoid a sanction of a transfer ban, which they suffered last year.
If they are to clear this hurdle, they are probably going to need to sell before that date and talented Brazilian midfielder Thiago Mendes appears one of the likeliest candidates to be offloaded, with star man Nicolas Pepe likely to stay until the summer.
The South American was one of their steadiest performers throughout a successful 2018 and has caught the eye of clubs in England, Germany and China. A move to the Chinese Super League could appeal to both the player and the club, who hope to fetch over €24 million for the 26-year-old.
Paris Saint-Germain should not be ruled out of the equation for the former Sao Paulo midfielder, though.
If Thiago Mendes does move to PSG, it is likely that the player he will replace is Adrien Rabiot, whose contract dispute continues to rumble on.
So strained has the relationship between the France international midfielder and his side been that he was frozen out of their squad before Christmas and a thawing is unlikely to take place as Rabiot and his entourage have played such games before.
Barcelona seem destined to be the club to take a gamble on the attitude of the 23-year-old, who has all the attributes to become one of the best players in the game but carries himself with a sense of entitlement that has ultimately destroyed what should have been a positive relationship with the club at which he came through the academy.
It seems to be a question of when rather than if he leaves the Parc des Princes.
It is quite remarkable that the 22-year-old full-back remains at a team as modest as Dijon, particularly as his defensive talents have been masked at a club that typically favours an attacking approach to the game.
Newcastle have been hovering over the youngster, who is capable of playing on either side of the defence but is most comfortable on the right, although they are also monitoring Strasbourg’s Kenny Lala, according to reports in France.
Like Lala, Rosier is a capable force going forward, which is reflected in the three assists that he has chalked up in 17 Ligue 1 appearances this season.
He may not be the finished article, but with a good margin for progress, he would prove a shrewd pickup.
During the summer, the Argentine striker was within a whisker of signing for Galatasaray and was left bitterly disappointed when his move to Turkey fell through. He has, however, recovered in spectacular fashion, scoring 12 goals in Ligue 1 – a tally surpassed only by PSG’s Kylian Mbappe.
The 28-year-old is enjoying the season of his life and has timed his run perfectly as his contract is up in 18 months. As such, he is eligible on the transfer market, with Nantes expected to demand in the region of €20 million for a player who is known in France for being ungainly and somewhat erratic.
President Waldemir Kita is actively encouraging a deal, keen to cash in on the striker’s fine form. Cardiff and West Ham have been linked but have both baulked at the price, which could well come down as January goes on.
Something of a forgotten man this season after making such an excellent start, Todibo finds himself on the fringes of Toulouse due to his refusal to sign a fresh professional deal with the club. As such, the 19-year-old defender has spent much of the winter kicking his heels and waiting for his current deal to expire in the summer.
TFC have taken a hard-line approach with the centre-back, who has played 10 times in Ligue 1 this season and has scored a single goal, claiming that they made an unprecedented offer to him of around €25,000 per month.
However, this has proven insufficient to persuade the youngster to sign as some of Europe’s top clubs circle. Barcelona are especially interested in the defender and are said to be optimistic of completing a deal, while Real Madrid and Juventus hover, too.
Toulouse could, however, be willing to sacrifice a transfer fee this winter in order to make an example of the youngster, who they have grown exasperated with.
Impressive in pre-season, the teenage hitman has barely had any opportunities to shine in Ligue 1, despite posting an impressive minutes-per-goal ratio when playing for the first team. Indeed, the USA international has found the net once every 72 minutes he’s been on the field, and though his sample size is low, he has still managed to register more than Eric Choupo-Moting, the man who has effectively pushed him to the sidelines.
Of course, Weah will not be allowed to leave PSG on a permanent deal, with the capital side set to loan him out until the end of the season. They hold a preference for him to move to another French side – Amiens and Strasbourg are notably interested – but a temporary switch to Germany or even Celtic, where he could gain Europa League experience, are also possibilities.
Since Unai Emery arrived at Arsenal, the Gunners have been heavily linked to one player in particular. Ever Banega.
The Sevilla midfield maestro has been an important part of the La Liga team for some years and he would bring a huge amount of creativity, experience and energy to the Arsenal midfield.
Arsenal fans will rightly say that the club should be focussing on adding defensive quality to the ranks this month, but with Aaron Ramsey on his way out and Mesut Ozil’s future up in the air, Banega could be a key addition.
The Argentinean international has an £18million release clause, so despite being 30 years old, still looks good value considering the quality he would bring to the side.
Emery has always insisted that he wanted Arsenal to control games, that is something they have perhaps not done enough under his tenure to date, but Banega would certainly help the Arsenal midfield do just that. Emery is a big fan of the player and believed to be putting pressure on the club to complete a deal for the midfielder he has previously managed in La Liga.
In terms of Football Index, Banega could be a very valuable player at Arsenal. Surely likely to be at the heart of everything Arsenal do, Banega is a specialist on set pieces and has an eye for goal, as well as averaging 67.5 passes per 90 minutes this season. These qualities make him a player tailor-made for the Index’s matchday rankings system.
If he joined in January however, he would be cup-tied for the remainder of the clubs participation in the Europa League. This due to his involvement in the competition already with Sevilla this campaign. The Europa League may be Arsenal’s main opportunity back into the Champions League and they will ideally want any new signing to be involved in the pursuit of European success so that is certainly a downside to a move for Banega.
Capable of playing as a number 10, or deeper alongside the likes of Granit Xhaka and Lucas Torreira, Banega can help Arsenal transition defence to attack seamlessly and he has managed 2 key passes per 90 minutes for Sevilla this season, that’s more than any Arsenal player, with his closest rivals being Sead Kolasinac and Mesut Ozil, both with 1.8 per 90.
I could see Banega playing as a number 10 under Emery but by doing that, giving the team more defensive balance. Banega has defensive qualities too, averaging 2.7 tackles per 90 in La Liga this season, that’s also more than any Arsenal player to have played more than 1 game this season. Of Arsenal’s midfielders, only Xhaka and Torreira have managed more interceptions.
His intelligence is also a key quality, with great positioning and vision, his tactical awareness would really help Arsenal’s ambitions to defend from the front and improve their off the ball structure.
These statistics highlight both the quality Banega has on the ball, but also the tenacity he has off it. Arsenal fans should look past the player’s age and see he is a midfielder perfectly suited to the way Emery wants to play and a midfield three of Torreira, Xhaka and Banega has a mix of youth, experience, energy, pace, strength and goals – is Emery-ball on its way?
With the New Year well and truly upon us, it’s time to take a trip back to the best performers in Serie A during the 2018 calendar year. The Italian top flight is blessed with a plethora of talented individuals, and here at Football Index, we’ve chosen the cream of the crop and listed them in no particular order.
The Inter striker is a no-brainer for inclusion in the top five stars in the league during 2018. Finishing as joint-top scorer along with Ciro Immobile on 29 strikes at the end of last term, Icardi fired in an incredible 44% of Inter’s total goals during that campaign, a tally that was instrumental in the Nerazzurri reaching the Champions League for the first time since 2011/12.
Demonstrating exactly how lethal he is in the box, the hitman scored a goal for every 1.8 shots on target last season, his rate the best ratio among players with 10 or more goals. He would remain at Inter in the summer in order to begin his first ever Champions League outing, his loyalty paying off by becoming the first ever at the club to score in each of his first three matches in the elite competition.
Another striker to feature on the list is 35-year-old Fabio Quagliarella. The Serie A journeyman is truly enjoying his twilight years in the division, scoring 19 league goals for Sampdoria in 2017/18.
The first half of the current campaign has been even better for the former Juve man, his reputation as a pure entertainer consolidated by some stunning strikes. Indeed, as the league paused for its traditional Winter Break, Quagliarella found himself having scored in nine consecutive matches, David Trezeguet the last person to have done so back in 2005.
In a league built upon its reputation for a succession of talented Italian defenders, Senegal international Kalidou Koulibaly has broken the trend thanks to his consistently assured performances in the Napoli backline. Said to be wanted by the likes of Manchester United in the Premier League, Koulibaly has been subject to interest from a number of high-profile clubs, but seems committed to remaining Italy for now at least.
According to reports in the Italian press, the 27-year-old is ready to agree a new contract without a release clause, however, the deal is said to include a verbal agreement that the defender can leave if an offer in excess of £135 million is received. For a defender of this quality, it is not beyond the realms of possibility that someone will be willing to pay.
The Portuguese wing-back spent the first half of the year on loan at Inter, during which he announced his presence in some style. Financial Fair Play restrictions meant that the Nerazzurri could not stump up the cash to bring him in permanently, however, Juventus swooped in to pay the £36.5 million fee that saw him arrive from Valencia on a permanent basis in the summer.
Cancelo completed more dribbles (39) than any other defender during the first half of 2018, as well as creating more chances (33) than any other player in this period and has once again proven his quality since that aforementioned move. At Juventus, he leads the entire league with 2.9 dribbles per match on average and is second only to compatriot Cristiano Ronaldo in terms of natural talent in the Juve ranks.
This was the player that seemingly everyone wanted last summer, and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see his name linked with the biggest clubs once again during the January window. With 12 strikes last season, he bagged more goals than any other midfielder, but his game is so much more than this.
Strong, technically gifted and a genuine box-to-box player, it is not difficult to see why he has been so hyped during 2018, and even a dip in form towards the end of the year does not do enough to take this player out of the top five.
They say you can tell when you’re getting old when policeman and new Popes start to look younger to you. Ditto the world’s best footballers although in the case of football’s top table it is no optical illusion, the fact is that the very best players in the world ARE getting younger.
And to prove it here’s my list of Europe’s top XI players under the age of 21 featuring a veritable goldmine of talent that would grace any team in the world and featuring my own personal top five, the creme de la creme.
Donnarumma (AC Milan, £1.50), Alexander-Arnold (Liverpool £3.76), De Ligt (Ajax £3.90), Militao (Porto £2.03),Theo Fernandez (Real Madrid on loan Real Sociedad £1.20), Pulisic (Chelsea £4.38), De Jong (Ajax £4.12), Ndombele (Lyon £3.10), Sancho (Borussia Dortmund £8.76), Mbappe (Paris Saint Germain £13.53, Rashford (Manchester United £8.25).
Gianluigi Donnarumma (£1.50) made his first-team debut for AC Milan aged just 16 years and 242 days. An injury to the highly rated Diego Lopez gave him his chance and he didn’t look back. When the Spanish keeper returned from injury he was unable to regain his place.
Since then he has made 140 appearance for the first team, earned 11 caps for his country and is generally regarded by just about everyone as the natural successor to the legend that preceded him, Gianluigi Buffon.
Donnarumma is just 19-years-old and according to another legend, Dino Zoff predestined to become a great goalkeeper,” adding that “it all depends completely on him.”
The revival of the Dutch national side after failing to qualify for both the 2016 European Championships and the 2018 World Cup is due in no small part to the resurgence of a reliance on the quality of young players its academies have historically produced.
Mattijs de Ligt (£3.90) is one such player although it would appear that his days as an Ajax player are surely numbered. At the end of last year the Manchester Evening News announced that Manchester United would be prepared to fork out £50m to secure the services of the star defender in the January window.
Strong, a leader by nature, always calm and composed on the ball, and always ready to charge forward to launch defence into attack, he became at 17 the youngest player to be picked for his country since 1931.
Aged just 19, CEO at Ajax, Edwin Van der Saar said of him, ” He looks like he’s been doing this for six or seven years; he has the physique of a 24-year-old…he is also strong with both feet, has an extremely good range of passing, can head the ball, scores goals and is a real leader at the back already at the age of 18.”
In the same Ajax side is defensive midfielder Frenkie de Jong (£4.12) who according to Sport Bild in Germany has just agreed a five-year contract with Barcelona, in turn ending Bayern Munich’s pursuit of the player. Barca reportedly only need to agree terms with the Dutch club before the deal can be completed, something that might be easier said than done with rumours of a £70m fee for the youngster who many, including Xavi, see as a natural replacement for Sergio Busquets.
A youth product of Willem II, 21-year-old, de Jong played through the entire youth system of the club before joining Ajax on a four-year contract in the summer of 2015
He has now played 50 times for Ajax across all competitions, including in this season’s Champions League, and already has five caps for the Netherlands.
But most impressively it is his ability to excel wherever he happens to play be it in defence or as a creative player going forward that make him such a great player and almost certainly what makes a move to Barcelona look so attractive to both parties.
Borussia Dortmund currently sit six points clear at the top of the Bundesliga and one of the reasons for that is the staggering form the 18-year-old phenomenon that is England’s Jadon Sancho (£8.76).
When Gareth Southgate picked him for his first full international cap Jadon became the first English player born in the 21st century to receive a full international call up for his country. An excellent performance showed he was more than ready.
Desperate for first team football and not able to be guaranteed it at Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City, he took a huge risk when deciding to leave for foreign shores but once again, after a slow start his decision has proved to be the right one for him.
Asked to describe himself Sancho has said: “I’m a bit tricky, direct, confident – I believe in myself in one-on-one situations”.
Ambitious, driven, desperate to succeed, he is as speedy as he is technically gifted, at home on either flank and most importantly both for his club and country seems to be improving game by game.
And finally, I got a lot of stick for not including Kylian Mbappe (£13.53) in my team of 2018, regardless of age, and in truth, there is certainly an argument that he is already one of the top eleven players in the world.
Aged just 20 he won a World Cup with France and, all things going to plan, should certainly be a contender for the accolade of the greatest player in the world in the not too distant future. But not yet, and even his own coach, Thomas Tuchel has agreed with Barcelona legend Xavi who said that Mbappe still lacked “football maturity”.
He said: “He’s amazing. He’s one of the best players in the world and he’s going to be the best. Xavi is right. He needs to improve on everything, it’s totally normal when you’re 19.”
That time could come should he ever move on from PSG and there is no question that Real Madrid would move heaven and earth to bring him to the Bernabeu.
He’s certainly already got the demeanour and demands of the world’s best which, should it happen – and there’s no guarantee of that – will include a fee that will start at around €200m and probably start to travel north.
Diario Gol recently published a list of his demands should the move take place which included being made the clubs highest earner, a bonus of €500,000 for winning the Ballon D’Or, the club’s no.10 shirt, a private driver, a butler, a bodyguard, a house that’s similar standard to that of a ‘mega star’, and 50 hours usage of his own private jet. Phew!!
What Madrid would get in exchange is a superstar with electric pace and staggering dribbling skills, a predator in front of goal and a player that shows he can turn up for the very biggest of occasions.