Friday, July 25, 2014

All the latest transfer gossip across Europe!

Unsurprisingly clubs across Europe are extremely busy trying to negotiate transfer deals as they attempt to strengthen their squads ahead of their forthcoming domestic seasons.
The 2014/15 English Premier League season kicks-off on the 16th August, the German Bundesliga campaign will commence on Friday 22nd August, Spain's La Liga begins on the 24th August, while Italy's Serie A season opens up on the 31st August 2014.

Here is a round up of all the latest transfer gossip across Europe today!

Is your club involved?

Juventus, Manchester United, Liverpool, Atlético Madrid, Inter Milan, Arsenal, Real Madrid, Porto, Chelsea, Manchester City, Barcelona, PSV Eindhoven, Tottenham, Real Madrid, Lazio, Feyenoord, Borussia Dortmund, Paris Saint-Germain, Roma, Leicester City, QPR, Crystal Palace, Hamburg, Napoli, Aston Villa, Southampton, Liverpool, Lille, Marseille, Dynamo Moscow, Everton, AIK, Ferencvaros, Besiktas, Pachuca, Celtic, Udinese, Sheffield United, Hull, West Brom, Sevilla, Norwich, Fiorentina, Monterrey, Watford, Nottingham Forest, Burnley, Cardiff, Millwall, Peterborough, Bristol Rovers and Rochdale .............are all caught up in the latest transfer news/rumours across Europe, as we speak.

Juventus midfielder Arturo Vidal (right) has dealt a blow to Manchester United by ruling out a switch to Old Trafford - Daily Mail

Liverpool are now poised to move for the 27-year-old Chile international with a £42.5m bid - Metro

Atlético Madrid Madrid have made a fresh approach to sign unsettled Manchester United striker Javier Hernandez, who is also been tracked by Inter Milan -

Atlético Madrid have also expressed interest in Nacho Monreal and Santi Cazorla, from Arsenal - and Daily Express

Arsenal are in pursuit of Real Madrid's veteran goalkeeper Iker Casillas. The Gunners have offered the 33-year-old Spain international a five-year deal worth £1.4m a year - Daily Express

Arsenal target Jackson Martinez has admitted that he does not know where his future lies. The Porto striker who has a £32 million release clause featured for Colombia at the World Cup and has been coveted by Arsenal as well as AC Milan, Roma and Valencia - TalkSPORT

Jose Mourinho is close to completing a reunion with former Chelsea striker Didier Drogba, 36, as goalkeeper Petr Cech, 32, warns the Chelsea manager not to leave him on the bench next season - The Sun and Daily Mirror

The agent of Manchester City's Javi Garcia has denied striking a deal with Napoli for the 27-year-old Spain international midfielder - Forza Italian Football (Italian newspaper)

Barcelona have reportedly launched a £16m bid for Thomas Vermaelen. The Belgian centre-back, who has been at Arsenal since 2009, is also said to be a target for Manchester United -

Manchester United are planning a move for 20 year-old PSV Eindhoven left winger Memphis Depay (right) - Metro

Borussia Dortmund are lining up an offer for Chelsea target Carlos Strandberg, the Swedish striker, with Barcelona, Real Madrid and Juventus also in the hunt. But they are all yet to firm up their interest with a bid – and they could be gazumped by Dortmund.
The Bundesliga side are ready to offer BK Hacken £1.2m for the striker - Bild (German newspaper)

Spurs defender Vlad Chiriches, 24, could be heading for the exit after just one season, with Roma weighing up a move for the centre-back - Daily Mirror

Liverpool on the verge of signing Southampton defender Dejan Lovren. It is believed that the two clubs have agreed on a fee in the region of £20m, with the Croatian international set to undergo a medical this weekend - and

Lazio are ready to make their move for Manchester United and Liverpool target Stefan de Vrij. The Feyenoord and Dutch international defender is valued at £7 million - Il Messaggero (Italian newspaper)

Paris Saint-Germain could let 29-year-old forward Ezequiel Lavezzi leave if they will succeed in signing Real Madrid 27-year-old winger Angel Di Maria - Sportitalia (Italian TV)

Leicester City have joined QPR and Crystal Palace in the race for Tottenham's 23 year-old German international midfielder Lewis Holtby (right), on loan - Daily Star

Hamburg are trying to speed-up the negotiation for Napoli 29-year-old midfielder Valon Behrami -

Aston Villa manager Paul Lambert says that 29-year-old captain Ron Vlaar - who has been linked with Tottenham - is not up for sale -

Dani Osvaldo is set to become the latest player to leave Southampton by signing for Inter Milan - The Sun

Crystal Palace have confirmed the signing of striker Fraizer Campbell from Cardiff City on a three year contract for an undisclosed fee -

Liverpool could face late competition from Atlético Madrid for the signing of Lille and Belgium international striker Divock Origi - Marca (Spanish newspaper)

Everton are stepping up their interest in AIK's highly-rated Sweden winger Nabil Bahoui -

Everton are on the brink of clinching a deal for 21-year-old Bosnian midfielder Muhamed Besic from Ferencvaros - The Sun and

QPR have entered the race to land France midfielder Mathieu Valbuena from Marseille (right), after he rejected the chance to join Dynamo Moscow - L'Equipe (French newspaper)

Chelsea's German midfield misfit Marko Marin, 25, is in talks over a loan move to Turkish side Besiktas - and

Chelsea appear to have failed, at least for the time being in their quest to sign 21 year-old winger Jurgen Damm from Mexican club side Pachuca - Record (Mexican newspaper)

Roma have confirmed the signing of 18 year-old Paraguay international striker Antonio Sanabria from Barcelona -

Celtic defender Virgil van Dijk, 23, is keen on a move to Southampton - but the Scottish club want at least £10m for the Dutchman - Daily Mirror

Juventus have signed midfielder Roberto Pereyra from Udinese on an initial one-year loan deal -

Hull City are hoping to clinch the £2m signing of Sheffield United defender Harry Maguire today - Daily Mirror

Sevilla are ready to make an approach for Norwich midfielder Leroy Fer - The Times

West Bromwich Albion, are reportedly close to securing a double defensive deal.
Cristian Gamboa (right), who helped Costa Rica reach the World Cup quarter-finals, and Australian left-back Jason Davidson are said to be on the brink of moving to The Hawthorns -

Fiorentina are putting the finishing touches to a deal for 30 year-old Argentina defender Jose Maria Basanta from Mexican club side Monterrey -

Burnley are lining up a bid for Nottingham Forest star Henri Lansbury - The Sun

Udinese striker Odion Ighalo, 25, has revealed he is close to sealing a loan move to Watford -

Cardiff City have had a second bid for Southampton's 30 year-old defender Jose Fonte turned down.

Millwall have snapped up former Everton winger Magaye Gueye, 24, on a free transfer after a successful trial -

Peterborough have signed 25 year-old right-back Michael Smith for an undisclosed fee from Bristol Rovers on a three-year deal -

Rochdale have signed striker Calvin Andrew on a free transfer after a successful trial. The 27-year-old was a free agent after leaving York City in May -

Monday, July 14, 2014

FIFA 2014 World Cup - The Worst XI Players

On the pitch the 20th World Cup finals held in Brazil was in the main one of the best tournaments in living memory. It pretty match had everything:- goals a plenty, drama, passion, tears, shocks, surprises, many memorable moments, great individual performances along with several teams that exceeded expectations.
However as with any team event there were players that were quite simply awful and contributed little to their respective teams.

As a result I have compiled a team of what I would consider to be the worst eleven players that took part in the tournament this summer.

Iker Casillas (Spain)
South Africa’s Golden Glove winner had a terrible tournament. In the opening game, Casillas’s errors were costly: his absence for a free-kick led to the Dutch going 3-1 up, while a comical attempt to control the ball in his box allowed Robin van Persie to get his second of the game. In Spain's following must-win game, the Spanish captain inexplicably punched away a free-kick to gift Chile their second goal and send the reigning champions packing.

Leighton Baines (England)
If you are able to recall a positive contribution of the Everton player to The Three Lions’ cause, you must be a biologist specialising in micro-organisms.
Baines was toasted by the canny movements of Matteo Darmian and Antonio Candreva versus Italy, and he wasn't much better against Uruguay.

Central defender:
Pepe (Portugual)
The Real Madrid defender came into the World Cup as a Champions League winner, but his tournament will forever be remembered for an idiotic, thuggish headbutt on Germany’s Thomas Muller in the 37th minute of the opening game, that got him sent-off and helped condemn the Portuguese to their heaviest ever defeat in the competition.

Central defender:
Gerard Pique (Spain)
As one of many to play below his best for Spain, his dismal centre-half pairing with Sergio Ramos led to a shaky defence which incorporated a dodgy offside trap and lazy attempts to man mark the opposition. At least Shakira (right) was on hand to give him a cuddle and the opportunity off the pitch to make up for his pitiful performances on the pitch!

Glen Johnson (England)
Liverpool fans have been frustrated for ages about their longtime right-back's inability to man-mark or defend properly, but now their pain is shared by the nation after three below par performances during England's limp World Cup presence. He did tee up Wayne Rooney for his first goal at FIFA's big event, but it wasn't enough to mask his inability to defend, the key reason for him being on the pitch.

Steven Gerrard (England) 
Although he was praised for his mature adaptation into a deep-lying, restrained playmaker for Liverpool, Gerrard's attempt to reprise this role for England looked more headless chicken than fearless leader. He spent much of the World Cup chasing shadows or being overrun. His role in Luis Suarez's second goal, an unwittingly perfect flick-on for his club teammate's well-timed run, added further bitterness to a difficult campaign - and surely his last in an England shirt. Gerrard is not the only English player to make the list, so rest assured Steven, at least you'll never walk alone!

Paulinho (Brazil)
Few Brazilian players covered themselves in glory during the finals, but Tottenham's Paulinho proved to be the pits. Toothless and insipid in the middle of the field best describes his performances. At the 2013 Confederations Cup Paulinho received the Bronze Ball as the competition's third best player. Not sure if it was the same player at the World Cup?

Alexander Song (Cameroon)
After a close fight with Kevin-Prince Boateng of Ghana, Song claims the position. Not long ago, Song was deemed to be one of the most promising defensive midfielders in Europe. But he left Brazil a beaten man with a red card to boot following a boneheaded elbow to Mario Mandžukić's head in Cameroon's second group game. Croatia went on to win the game 4-0 and Song later apologized to Mandžukić, and to the people of Cameroon for being sent off.
FIFA punished Song with a three-match ban, as well as fining him. The match was further tainted following an investigation into possible match-fixing, after allegations in a German newspaper claimed that the convicted match fixer, Wilson Raj Perumal, correctly predicted the final outcome of Cameroon-Croatia match, which included the scoreline and the sending off of a player.

Antonio Valencia (Ecuador)
Given his credentials AV was supposed to be the best player on the Ecuador national team. However The Manchester United man was completely overshadowed by his namesake Enner Valencia this summer. After being largely invisible in Ecuador's first two group stage games, Valencia topped off a torrid tournament by being sent-off for a foul on Lucas Digneh in is side's final but crucial group stage match against France.

Diego Costa (Spain)
La Liga winner and symbol of Atletico Madrid’s greatest domestic triumph, Diego Costa was one of the World Cup’s biggest flops. Having opted to represent Spain over Brazil, Costa looked like a fish out of water and after three matches scoring no goals and Spain’s early exit, they aren’t complaining. His World Cup stats read: 50 touches of the ball in the tournament, no goals, no shots on target and just ten touches in total in the opposition penalty box.

Fred (Brazil)
The ignominious Fred departed the pitch in his last World Cup game after his every touch was being met by jeers by his home crowd in Belo Horizonte. A single goal to his name in six games, the hapless and erratically Fred remains the most impressive non-striker at the World Cup. The definition of peripheral.

Other dishonourable mentions:

Stipe Pletikosa (Croatia)
Sergio Ramos (Spain)
Dani Alves (Brazil)
Benoit Assou-Ekotto (Cameroon)
Philippe Senderos (Switzerland)
David Luiz (Brazil)
Wilson Palacios (Honduras)
Shinji Kagawa (Japan)
Xavi (Spain)
Joao Moutinho (Portugal)
Kevin-Prince Boateng (Ghana)
Samuel Eto'o (Cameroon)
Hulk (Brazil)
Edinson Cavani (Uruguay)
Wayne Rooney (England)

Monday, July 07, 2014

How The English Premier League Season Finished A Decade Ago!

The 2003/04 Premier League season was a unique season for many reasons!

Arsenal, Leeds United, Leicester City, Middlesbrough, Roman Abramovich, Glenn Hoddle, Arsène Wenger, Claudio Ranieri, Steve McClaren, Peter Reid, Chris Coleman, Sam Allardyce, David O’Leary, Sir Bobby Robson, Scott Parker, Rio Ferdinand, Ruud van Nistelrooy, Alan Shearer and Thierry Henry were all in the headlines for various reasons.

Nine of the twenty clubs that competed in the Premier League that season, a decade ago, were not plying their trade in the 2013/14 Premier League season just gone, one in particular is now a 4th tier league club!

What a difference a decade makes!

Here is a round up of where the twenty clubs that fought out the 2003/04 Premier League season finished in the league and any influencing factors or personnel that made an impression, good or bad!

20th: Wolverhampton Wanderers

Back in the top flight after 20 years away, Wolves did not win any of their opening seven Premiership fixtures and it was obvious that the season was going to be a long and hard struggle. Wolves finished bottom on 33 points, six points from safety with a goal difference of -39. They scored the fewest goals (38) during the season. They also failed to win any of their 19 away games during the season.

19th: Leeds United

Leeds was relegated in a season that saw their debts rise to £100 million and a lot of their key players sold. Peter Reid and Eddie Gray were both sacked during the season after a run of poor results, with Kevin Blackwell taking over towards the end of the season. Leeds had the dubious honour in the 2003/04 season of conceding the most goals of any club (79) combined with the most losses(21).

18th: Leicester City

Leicester finished the season in the bottom three and were relegated back to the first division after being promoted the previous season. Micky Adams failed to keep his side up in a season which saw three of his players Keith Gillespie, Frank Sinclair and Paul Dickov accused of sexual assault in La Manga, although all charges were dropped. That season Leicester won fewer games than any other side, just six out of 38 games played.

17th: Everton

The Toffees finished just above the relegation zone on 39 points after winning just nine of their 38 games throughout the season. This would be Wayne Rooney’s last season for the club, after he signed for Manchester United at the end of the season.

16th Manchester City

City finished in 16th position in their first season since leaving Maine Road, with Kevin Keegan’s side only confirming their stay in the division on the penultimate game of the season. Striker Nicolas Anelka was top scorer hitting 16 of their 55 goals scored in total that season.

15th: Blackburn Rovers

Blackburn had qualified for Europe in the two previous seasons and it was quite a surprise for Graeme Souness’ side to be batting relegation. The side managed a decent run towards the end of the season and were safe by the end of April and eventually finished 15th in the table.

14th: Tottenham Hotspur

A dismal start to the season cost Glenn Hoddle his job and he was sacked as manager on 21 September after two-and-a-half years at the helm. Director of Football David Pleat took over first team duties until the end of the season, but was unable to inspire Tottenham to a challenge for European qualification nor either of the cup competitions, and a 14th place finish in the final table was Tottenham's lowest since 1998. On the plus side Robbie Keane hit 14 goals for the North London side. Jacques Santini was appointed as the new head coach at the end of the season.

13th: Portsmouth

Portsmouth's Premiership debut was a fine one, as they finished 13th and established Fratton Park as one of the hardest Premiership grounds to get a result at. Harry Redknapp’s side had some impressive results at Fratton Park, including 1-0 wins over Liverpool and Manchester United and a 6-1 thumping of Leeds United. Only their dismal away form prevented them from finishing even higher, but it was still a very good season for the only newly promoted side to preserve their Premiership status. Yakubu Aiyegbeni hit 16 goals for Pompey, Teddy Sheringham was named 'Player of the Month' in August 2003 and Harry Redknapp won 'Manager of the Month' in April 2004.

12th: Southampton

Southampton finished 12th, the season after finishing in their highest ever position in the Premier League (8th). The Saints finished above their south coast rivals Portsmouth, but were shocked in March when Gordon Strachan handed in his resignation and was replaced by Paul Sturrock, even though former manager Glenn Hoddle was favorite. James Beattie bagged 14 goals for Southampton that season.

11th: Middlesbrough

Middlesbrough missed out on a top half finish by two points after losing 5-1 to Portsmouth on the last day of the season. However, Steve McClaren became the first Middlesbrough manager in 128 years to win a major trophy after 'Boro defeated Bolton to win the League Cup at the Millennium Stadium, Cardiff.

10th: Birmingham City

Birmingham City had one of their best seasons in the Premier League, spending most of the season challenging for a Champions League place before a late slump saw them drop to tenth. Mikael Forssell was their top goalscorer with 17 goals.

9th: Fulham

Fulham finished in the top of the table for the first time in the Premier League, in what turned out to be a very good first season in charge for Chris Coleman who at the time of his appointment was the youngest top-flight manager ever.
Louis Saha was transferred to Manchester United for a fee of £12.4 million in January 2004 having already scored 15 goals so far that season.

8th: Bolton Wanderers

After two near misses with relegation, Sam Allardyce finally established Bolton as a Premiership team. They were League Cup runners-up and an eighth place finish was the club's highest final position for some 50 years. Jay-Jay Okocha won 'Player of the Month' in November 2003 and Sam Allardyce was named 'Manager of the Month' twice that season in November 2003 and January 2004.

7th: Charlton Athletic

The Addicks finished in their highest league position since the 1950’s, even though their late season slump cost them qualification into Europe. Midfielder Scott Parker was awarded the young player of the season award by the PFA, beating the likes of Wayne Rooney, John Terry and Glen Johnson who were also nominated.

6th: Aston Villa

Villa finished 6th in David O’Leary’s first season in charge, but this was not enough to qualify for Europe. They entered December on the brink of the relegation zone, but a great run of form beginning over Christmas took them into the top six during March. It was only defeat on the last day which saw them miss out on European qualification. Juan Pablo Ángel was Villa's top scorer with 16 goals.

5th: Newcastle United

Sir Bobby Robson guided Newcastle to 5th place on goal difference ahead of Aston Villa, and secured the Magpies a place in the UEFA Cup. Their fifth-place finish was achieved despite bad runs at both the start and the end of the season, with the club failing to win their first six and their last five league games. In fact they finished the season having drawn an astonishing 17 of their 38 league games and achieving only two away wins all season. Alan Shearer with 22 goals was the top scoring Englishman in the Premier league that season. In October 2003 Sir Bobby Robson won 'Manager of the Month' and Alan Shearer won 'Player of the Month.'

4th: Liverpool

Gerard Houllier’s side finished in the final Champions League place on 60 points, with Michael Owen finishing on 16 goals for the season. However, this was not enough for the Liverpool board with Houllier being replaced by Rafa Benitez and Michael Owen being sold to Real Madrid at the end of the season.

3rd: Manchester United

United won the FA Cup in May, but this success only partly compensated for a failure to win the Premiership title which, for at least the first half of the season, had looked likely to end up at Old Trafford. Ruud van Nistelrooy was on song as usual with more than 30 goals in all competitions, but the loss of Rio Ferdinand for the final four months of the season (part of his penalty for failing to attend a drugs test on 22 September 2003) coincided with United surrendering their Premiership crown and finishing third in the final table. The 2003/04 season was also Cristiano Ronaldo's first season at Old Trafford following his move from Sporting Lisbon in the summer. In December 2003 Sir Alex Ferguson and Paul Scholes won 'Manager of the Month' and 'Player of the Month' respectively.

2nd: Chelsea

Chelsea finished 2nd in Roman Abramovich’s first season at the club, even after spending more than £100 million on new players in the summer of 2003. In came the likes of Hernan Crespo, Damien Duff, Wayne Bridge, Joe Cole and Claude Makélélé. The side did reach the Champions League semi-finals, but none of their new signings could help them win a trophy. Claudio Ranieri was replaced by José Mourinho at the end of the season. Ranieri was named 'Manager of the Month' on two occasions that season.

1st: Arsenal

Arsenal completed an entire Premiership season without losing a single game. Their final record read 26 wins, 12 draws and 0 defeats and a total of 90 points, eleven clear of Chelsea. Striker Thierry Henry with 30 league goals was undoubtedly the finest player in a brilliant side, though the likes of Robert Pires with 14 goals from midfield and Patrick Vieira earned similar plaudits for their own excellent performances. But it had not always looked like this. Until February, Arsenal had bounced between first and third place, as the three-way race with Chelsea and Manchester United seemed unpredictable. However Arsenal got even better in the second half of the season while their rivals faltered, and the title was wrapped up before the end of April. Arsène Wenger won two 'Manager of the Month' awards that season and capped it off with the prestigious 'LMA Manager of the Year' award. Henry was named PFA Players' Player of the Year as well as being the League's top goalscorer and Arsenal scored the most goals (73) and conceded the fewest (26), in what was a truly memorable season for The Gunners!

Arsenal's 'Invincibles' celebrate winning the 2003/04 Premiership title.

Tuesday, July 01, 2014

Babe of the Month - US Country Songstress Kaitlyn Baker

Gorgeous singer/songwriter Kaitlyn Baker was born on 23rd November, 1994 and raised in the small coal mining town of Pound in Wise County, southwest Virginia, USA with a population of just over 1,000 people.

Blue-eyed beauty Kaitlyn still lives in Pound with her parents and younger sister. She is in fact a coal-miner’s daughter. Today her father, Lyndon Baker, heads his own logging firm, but for five years he mined coal. Kaitlyn grew up with musical influences all around - her grandfather played banjo, her grandmother sang Loretta Lynn songs, and Kaitlyn's mother Tammy says that she used to sing before she could talk.

"My whole family has either been in the mines or associated with the mines" says Kaitlyn.
Her music is all about home and the coal-packed mountains where she was raised.

When it comes to her influences, Kaitlyn says that two stand tall above the rest: "My favorite artist has always been Elvis Presley. I grew up listening to a lot of older rock music, bluegrass, and country. I also listened to a lot of Martina McBride. She’s such a classy artist, and her voice is so powerful. I’ve always looked up to her."

Kaitlyn began singing in church at the age of seven and had finished three independent albums by the time she was 14. Then, at 14, still on her own, she delivered a country record called 'Sure Feels Like Home,' featuring songs written by various Nashville songwriters. By age 15, Kaitlyn was making regular trips to Nashville to write, record and perform her songs. "I was always in the studio" she says:
"If I wasn’t doing shows, I was in the studio."

In January 2014, 19-year-old Baker signed a contract with Nashville’s Silvercreek Records and she plans to release her first album through Sony/RED later this year.

Steve Pope, a veteran of Nashville’s music scene and now the vice president of Silvercreek’s Nashville operations said of Kaitlyn: "The Lord has blessed her with a great voice. The passion in her delivery makes her songs believable and she has a big heart."

The singer describes her songs as "mountain-y with a flash of bluegrass, a healthy dose of fiddle 
and a driving rhythm."
"We want them to sound rootsy," she says. I want people, when they listen to it, to be like, "Oh, I went to Virginia and back today."

All along, Baker has won applause - for the shows, the CDs and for a recent song 'Coal Train.' Kaitlyn says: "It’s such a good feeling to have so many people message you, call you, tell you how proud they are of you!"

'Coal Train' is an upbeat song Kaitlyn co-wrote with her manager Scott Arnold. With its searing guitar riffs and spine-tingling fiddle playing, Kaitlyn sings the story of a young man who leaves home in search of a better life, only to return to his roots years later.
The music video (below) for the catchy 'Coal Train,' is set near one of Pound’s historic markers and sings of the coal trains that have rumbled in and out of Wise County since the late 1800's - a tribute to her hometown.

The very talented and beautiful Kaitlyn Baker with her song and video titled 'Coal Train'

Kaitlyn has performed at venues throughout Virginia, Kentucky and Nashville, and has co-written songs with several established Nashville songwriters, including Silvercreek Records’ resident songwriter Janet Miller.

She has also opened shows for country singers Sammy Kershaw Doug Stone, Billy Currington, Rhonda Vincent and Brett Eldredge, as well as for the country band Sawyer Brown.

You can download Kaitlyn's outstanding debut single 'Burn' on iTunes - a real life story about burning down memories at the end of a relationship, which she co-wrote with Scott Arnold.

Good luck to the new Princess of US country music, a small town girl full of big dreams! Xxx

You can follow Kaitlyn on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram or visit her website