Will David Villa leave Barcelona this summer?

David Villa came back from his horrific injury recently in a friendly for Barcelona and has vowed to become a better player but will he be given the chance to shine at the club once more?

Villa has scored 265 goals in 530 games

You would imagine that they will give him the opportunity to get back to his best but with them not winning La Liga or the Champions League last year they may not want to take the risk and bring in a striker that is 100% fit and in form which means that he may get shipped out, most likely on a permanent transfer with him being 30 now. In his two full seasons at Barcelona he has scored 32 goals with 23 coming in his first season so they may look at that and see he is was already on the decline anyway. He only managed to score five goals in 15 appearances in the league last season and is that really good enough for a team like Barcelona with all the chances that they create? To me David Villa is still one of the best strikers in the world as not many can match his movement and finishing ability and should be playing for the best team in the world but if they don’t want him where should he go?

Arsenal could be very keen on the striker especially if Robin Van Persie gets his move away from the Emirates and it could potentially be a swap deal between the two as they are a similar age but I think Arsenal would be getting the better of the deal if Villa can get back to his best and adjust to the Premier League. There are a lot of ifs there but I have no doubts he would be successful in England and would be vital to Arsenal’s challenge for the title.

Manchester City have also been linked with a move for Spain international with them seemingly missing out on Van Persie (this transfer is starting to get on my nerves now, the player needs to leave and Arsenal should accept an offer around £15 million). Roberto Mancini has been linked with quite a few strikers but to me none of them are at the same level as Villa and it would be frightening strike force of Sergio Aguero, Carlos Tevez, Mario Balotelli and David Villa. This would obviously mean that Edin Dzeko would have to leave.

Finally, Liverpool have been linked with him for a very long time, I believe since Rafael Benitez was the manager when he wanted Fernando Torres and Villa to be his front two but it didn’t ever come to be but since then no matter how Liverpool have been doing his name is always linked with Anfield. I really cannot see this happening even if he would enjoy their managers style of play, the lack of Champions League football and the fact that they aren’t genuine title contenders will put him right off the move.

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Who will Robin Van Persie sign for if he is allowed to leave Arsenal?

The transfer saga that will dominate the headlines this summer will once again involve Arsenal and their captain.

This time it is Robin Van Persie when in previous years it has been Cesc Fabregas, however it does still go even further back than that with both Thierry Henry and Patrick Vieira getting linked away from the club every summer. I am not going to go into whether Arsenal are a ‘selling club’ or not because they in my opinion work the transfer market the right way by basically living within their means and even though the fans may not like it, they must accept it.

Van Persie has scored 132 goals in 279 games for Arsenal

I am going to focus more on Van Persie and you can see why he is being linked with the champions from a lot of countries around Europe after last season as he was phenomenal and was probably the best player in the Premier League. He scored 37 goals last season in all competitions but Arsenal still failed to win a trophy and you can understand the reason he wants to leave the club as even with his impressive goal tally, they never looked like winning the Premier League (mostly because of a poor start) and were easily knocked out of the Champions League after a very poor first leg.

Most clubs in the world would love to have the Dutchman in their squads but surely there are only a few that he would want to join. Unsurprisingly, Manchester City are the favourites to sign him and out of everyone in the Premier League I personally think this is the only team he would contemplate signing for. City have bought quite a few players from Arsenal including Samir Nasri last summer so they know they can do business with Arsenal and they won’t refuse to sell RVP to them. But in my opinion they would have to sell a striker first as they have Edin Dzeko, Carlos Tevez, Sergio Aguero and Mario Balotelli all fighting for a first team place already. Personally, I would only have Van Persie over Dzeko so I don’t see the need of them signing him but they will probably try anyway.

Juventus are also heavily linked with RVP and you can see it is because they lack a real goal scorer in their team and if they want to challenge for the Champions league next season then they most definitely need more goals in their side with Alessandro Matri only getting 10 league goals and Mirko Vucinic not even hitting double figures, they need someone that is going to get at least 20 goals. Andrea Pirlo showed at the Euros that he can still be a brilliant player and RVP would score goals for fun with his playmaking abilities. At times, Van Persie made Alex Song look like a pass master with his movement so imagine how good Pirlo will look.

Finally, Barcelona are also linked with him and yet again it is not very surprising to see their name come up however some of the rumours are. If they sign the Arsenal man, they may be looking to offload David Villa who is now 30 and has been out for eight months with a broken leg. If I was negotiating this deal I would definitely try and make it a swap deal. I think Villa is a better player than Van Persie and if he can recapture his form before he suffered his injury then he could actually make Arsenal a better team.

My Team of Euro2012

Euro 2012 has been one of the better international tournaments in recent years

Goalkeeper- Gianluigi Buffon- The Italian has been in fantastic form and has produced a number of wonderful saves throughout the tournament. But the main reason I have chosen him as my number 1 is the fact that he has marshalled the defence in front of him superbly even though there have been a number of changes at the back for them.

Right Back- Joao Pereira- For me he did a very good job and was consistent in every game, although he didn’t stand out because of other players in the team, he did not let them down and was very good defensively with little support from Nani on the right hand side. He clearly has a very good footballing brain as he knew that when Coentrao went forward he had to stay back. He has possibly been the most underrated player in the tournament.

Left Back- Jordi Alba- The new Barcelona man wasn’t even a left back until recently but now he looks like he was born to play in that position. He was rarely beaten by a winger and stopped a lot of crosses coming in. But his main strength is going forward and his movement was sublime at times and he gave Spain a bit more width which they lack at times.  You have to be a special player if you add something to the World and European Champions.

Centre Back- Sergio Ramos- Another player that has changed position recently and has done very well there. The Real Madrid defender has carried on his club form for Spain and hasn’t given their opponents a sniff and that is why they have only conceded one goal this tournament. He still adds a threat going forward and he has shown when the pressure is on he remains calm with a wonderful penalty against Portugal.

Centre Back- Mats Hummels- He may not have been very well known outside of Germany but the 23 year old will have caught the eye of a lot of clubs during the tournament. He has everything a centre back should, he is quite quick, good positioning and his marking was on a whole superb.

Centre Midfield- Steven Gerrard- The England captain for me was their best player and seemed to be lifted by getting the armband for the tournament and he didn’t let anyone down. His free kicks were always dangerous and his defending was top class, he blocked a lot of shots and covered a lot of ground. If only England had got him into more attacking positions they may have gone further in the competition.

Centre Midfield- Andrea Pirlo- My player of the tournament by a long way. This has been competition, by himself basically he has dominated teams like England and Germany and even in the opening group game against Spain he looked like the best player on the pitch. His passing accuracy must be one of the best in the tournament but it’s not just his accuracy, it seems like very pass he makes has been well thought out and will create something.

Centre Midfield- Xabi Alonso- You have to have a Spain midfielder in your team and Alonso has been the best in the competition in my opinion. He is the most important to the team as he plays a very unique role, basically he sits alongside Busquets who gives him the ball at every opportunity and looks for a playmaker. Without him in the side I think a lot of their attacks would break down a lot earlier and is irreplaceable in the side.

Right Winger- Alan Dzagoev- Remember him from the group stages? Russia in their opening game and it was largely down to this man as he scored twice and ripped the Czech Republic defence to shreds. Then in the second game he scored against Poland with a header which just showed another attribute that he has. The most disappointing thing about Russia going out was that I couldn’t get to see more of him but he did enough to be in my team of the tournament.

Left Winger- Cristiano Ronaldo- Ronaldo started off the tournament pretty slowly and missed guilt edge chances against Denmark but after the Holland game, I’m sure a lot of people were asking whether this would be Ronaldo’s tournament and when he scored against Czech Republic it seemed even more likely however it wasn’t to be and his decision not to take a penalty against Spain cost the team.

Striker- Mario Balotelli- If he didn’t produce against Germany in the semi final he wouldn’t have got near this team however he did and could now win the Euros and the golden boot. He had been performing quite well, and causing problems for defenders but he wasn’t putting away his chances which meant he was criticised. However, the England defence couldn’t get to grips with him and the Germans had no answer to him.

Player of the day- Mario Balotelli

Italy will meet Spain in the final after beating Germany 2-1 which could well be called the Balotelli semi final.

Mario Balotelli produced one of the best performances in his career as he scored twice and was a constant menace to the Germany defence. His first goal was quite predatory as his clever movement managed to get him away from his marker and power home a header from about six yards leaving goalkeeper Manuel Neuer with no chance. The second goal was really poor defensively again from Germany as it only took one long ball from the Italians to create a chance. Balotelli was through and hit a powerful shot which once again Neuer could do nothing about. In the very last minute with Germany pushing forward they won a penalty and Mesut Ozil scored but there just wasn’t enough time for them to get an equaliser. It was a disappointing performance from Germany both defensively and offensively but they still created a fair few chances and especially early on they forced Gianluigi Buffon into a few saves. Italy deserve their place in the final with this performance and will give Spain a good game and they have a very good chance of beating them. They were given no chance to beat them in the group stages but they have got better and better as the tournament has gone on and the Spanish have got worse in my opinion.

Man of the match- Mario Balotelli- The Manchester City striker was in fantastic form and his two goals were just superb and in my opinion his performance was the best of any striker in the competition, especially in the first half. His partnership with Antonio Cassano worked well and is developing with them each create chances and now Balotelli grabbing the goals. His movement was the most impressive part of his game as the German defence who hadn’t really been tested that much could not contain him. He has all the attributes to be the best striker in the world one day and maybe now he will start to show his potential on a regular basis.

Balotelli scored 17 goals in 32 games for Manchester City last season

 

Player of the day- Andrea Pirlo and would the Italian get in the Spain team?

England have crashed out of yet another tournament after losing in a penalty shootout against Italy, however they were massively outplayed by their opponents.

The Italians deserve their place in the semi finals and they will give Germany a better game than England would have so at least it will be a good game to watch. It is disappointing that England have gone out on a personal level but to be fair to the players and Roy Hodgson nobody really expected us to win the group so that should be seen as a massive achievement. But, onto the game and it was all Italy and they had numerous chances to win the game and had a lot of attempts on Joe Hart’s goal. Mario Balotelli was threatening in behind with his pace and was almost through one on one but was blocked out by John Terry. The game finished 0-0 and in extra time the pattern of the game didn’t change and the Italians poured more and more men forward with Antonio Nocerino having a goal disallowed just before it went to the dreaded penalty shootouts. Italy won 4-2 with Ashley Young and Ashley Cole missing. I enjoyed the Italian penalties actually as they mostly showed their composure and showed the English how it was done. Balotelli’s was brilliant as no keeper would have saved and Andrea Pirlo’s well it is difficult to describe it as he was under so much pressure and he had took it like he didn’t have a care in the world and it wasn’t in front of millions of people around the world.

Man of the match- Andrea Pirlo- The Italian midfielder is my player of the tournament as he has just been fantastic, every time he gets the ball he produces something special, his through ball to Balotelli was outstanding and his awareness was incredible. He picked up the ball near his own box and casually chipped the ball through right into the path of Balotelli who just couldn’t take the chance. He could have got man of the match just for his penalty but his passing is in my opinion unrivalled as not many players can drop in deep and play little one twos then play a cross field pass with so much accuracy. A lot of people will argue that Spain’s midfielders are better because they have a better passing average but Pirlo dictates a game by himself whereas Xavi and Xabi Alonso etc do it more as a partnership. That is just my opinion and I think if he was Spanish he would get into their first 11.

Has Pirlo been the best player at Euro 2012?

Player of the day- Jordi Alba

Spain and Italy are the next two teams to qualify for the knockout stages and eliminated Croatia and Ireland in the process.

Ireland were already out of the competition but they were still looking to win their final game however they were beaten 2-0 by Italy which put a lot on the other game as both Spain and Croatia could have went out. Antonio Cassano and Mario Balotelli scored the goals and sent them through in second place.

Spain as expected had most of the ball in their game but Croatia easily had the best chances and should have had a penalty. Ivan Rakitic should have scored with a header from a wonderful cross from Luka Modric but he sent it straight at Iker Casillas in the Spain goal. The Spanish did not look confident when defending crosses and Vedran Corluka was clearly being fouled as he jumped up for a header late on but the referee missed. However, Corluka should have scored anyway but it hit his shoulder and went agonisingly over the bar. In the last few minutes substitute Cesc Fabregas chipped a lovely ball through to Andres Iniesta who squared for Jesus Navas to tap in. But, this wasn’t the end of Croatia because if they had scored they would have went through knocking out Spain in the process but they couldn’t really create a clear chance.

Man of the match- Jordi Alba- It was difficult to choose a man of the match because of how well Croatia played and if they had managed to find an equaliser then Luka Modric and Gordon Schildenfeld would have been in contention. But I am giving it to the Spain left back who made countless attacking runs and looked more like a winger than a fullback. Spain weren’t at their best with their main players such as David Silva and Andres Iniesta only being on the edge of the game for the most part and with Xabi Alonso and Xavi not being able to find a killer pass. For me the left back looked most likely from the players that started the game to create something and even though his defending at times wasn’t the best, he managed to make a few important interceptions. As said, it was his attacking intent that impressed me and it just shows in the stats, he made 19 successful passes in the attacking third.

Alba has been linked with a number of clubs this summer including Barcelona and Manchester United

Manchester United and Manchester City crash out of the Europa League

Both Manchester clubs crashed out of the Europa League after being beaten by Sporting Lisbon and Athletic Bilbao.

Where to start? Manchester United were beaten both home and away by Bilbao and deservedly so, not at any point especially in the second leg did they look like they were going to go through. Bilbao, to put it simply were fantastic and didn’t give the United players a moments peace when they were in possession. Fernando Llorente looked like the best striker on the pitch over the two legs and scored some wonderful goals including a lovely first time volley in the second leg. He showed up the United front players even if Wayne Rooney did grab some goals himself, Llorente had the movement and the finishing ability which is attracting attention from bigger clubs and judging him on these two performances he can play well under pressure and in big games so I think a lot of clubs will be sniffing around him in the next transfer window.

So United failed and I believe that Alex Ferguson got it wrong in the second leg because he knew that his team needed to score twice to go through and this was if they kept a clean sheet which was never going to happen. He played a hardworking side and committed side but it did not seem likely that the team he selected would be good enough to win the game never mind qualify. He went with only one striker in Rooney and left Javier Hernandez and Danny Welbeck on the bench, while playing Ryan Giggs and Ashley Young in the wide positions. It seemed like Fergie was scared of this Bilbao side, why not go out and attack them, try and grab an early goal and see if they could deal with the pressure. But, no instead it seemed like he just wanted his side to stay in the game for as long as possible and then nick a couple of goals on the counter.

Maybe they will prefer being out so they can focus on the Premier League and Manchester City in the first half of their game seemed to take their eye off the ball because they were 2-0 down at halftime and losing 3-0 on aggregate. Losing the first leg was acceptable as it was away and Portugal can be difficult to go to but being 2-0 down at home is not something you see often from a team that wants to win trophies. In their defence they picked up in the second half and actually won the game on the night with goals from Sergio Aguero and Mario Balotelli which shows that Roberto Mancini did want to win the trophy and did not accept what he saw in the first half and let his players know what he thought of them at halftime. They were unfortunate to go out on away goals but they only have themselves to blame.

Both teams now only have the Premier League to focus on and that will be a fascinating race but it is a frustrating time for English teams in Europe with every team now out apart from Chelsea. This is a missed opportunity especially for Alex Ferguson as this is the only trophy he hasn’t won as manager of United so he probably wanted to see his team perform better. It is now up to Chelsea to win a European trophy this season.

Super Sunday- The verdict

So it was the Super Sunday Sky Sports billed it as, long gone are the days when viewers had to watch Chelsea and Manchester United battle out a 0-0 draw, we finally have goals to go with the best players in the league, but where to start, should Balotelli have even been on the pitch to score the last minute penalty? Are Spurs genuine title contenders? Is Welbeck the man to lead the England strike force at Euro 2012?

Well, I am going to start with Arsenal and has Arsene Wenger’s time at the Gunners come to an end? He made a strange decision today that actually cost his team which led to half the stadium booing the manager’s decision. He took off arguably the best player on the pitch in Alex Oxlade Chamberlain for Andrei Arshavin who failed to defend against Antonio Valencia properly and he eventually set up the winner for Welbeck. There is no doubt Wenger has been one of Arsenal’s greatest ever managers but the club haven’t won a trophy in years and are finally losing their grip on a top four place and are currently the second best team in North London which must hurt the fans more than anything. He has failed to invest in experienced players and the team looks short of quality with only Robin Van Persie, Aaron Ramsey and Thomas Vermaelen looking like top players on a consistent basis. Koscielny at the back has improved this season but still looks like he is prone to mistakes and yes Arsenal are struggling with injuries as was shown with Johan Djourou ripped apart by Nani in the first half and then being replaced by an 18 year old in Yennaris, yet Wenger still refuses to spend any money.

If Arsenal fail to finish in the top four then Arsene Wenger should step down if he is not sacked as he has done a fantastic job but the team is going backwards and therefore needs a change or Tottenham will leave them behind.

So onto Spurs, they performed admirably against Manchester City and deserved at least a draw against the team currently at the top of the table, doing this without their main striker this season Emmanuel Adebayor. But, Jermain Defoe played pretty well and has also made it known to Capello that he wants to be in the England squad this summer. He capitalised on a defensive error and rounded Hart with ease and always looked a threat throughout the game. Tottenham are most definitely title challengers because they have players like Gareth Bale who can rip apart any team in the world with his direct running and incredible pace, when the Welshman gets going he is hard to stop. His goal was sublime and no keeper in the world would have saved it and then he showed all of his abilities in the last few minutes to run rings round the City defence and then square the ball for Defoe who agonisingly missed the ball by inches. Seconds later Balotelli won a penalty and scored it but earlier in the game he probably should have been sent off for a stamp however the referee must not have seen it clearly as he stayed on the pitch and ended up winning the game. When they went 2-0 up they must have thought the game was up after David Silva had shown yet again that he is one of the best players in the league by putting Samir Nasri through with an inch perfect through ball that Nasri finished clinically. But champions win games when it’s not looking likely which has now happened twice in a row with the result against Spurs and the 1-0 win against Wigan.

However, do not discount Manchester United just yet, as they pulled off another victory when they weren’t at their best. The first half they were comfortable and looked like the only team in the game but in the second half when Arsenal picked up the game they had to defend stoutly and remain resilient which they did and if it wasn’t for Van Persie’s brilliance then they probably would have kept a clean sheet although that same player missed an absolute sitter after a mistake from Chris Smalling. The difference in the game was the manager’s decision making as Fergie’s changes changed the game positively for the team, firstly bringing on Rafael for the injured Phil Jones which allowed Valencia to be at the back post to put them ahead, then taking off Rafael for Park Ji Sung so Valencia dropped back to right back and set up the all important goal for United.

Welbeck scored the winner and his partnership with Wayne Rooney is starting to look really promising and this can only be a good thing for club and country. He was making a lot of runs behind the defence looking for through balls while Rooney was dropping deep and looking to slide it through for him. Maybe he won’t be top of the list to start at the Euros but he is definitely one for the future but if he keeps performing and scoring big goals he may just find himself in the starting 11.

At the end of the day it is Manchester 2-0 London and with the way things are looking this trend could continue for a while to come. However, it is refreshing to see all four of the top teams like to play attacking football and I think Tottenham under Redknapp will continue to improve and could possibly break Manchester’s dominance at the very top of the league and maybe even win the trophy. But if the England job becomes available will he stay at Spurs or answer the call from the FA? Will Tottenham be as good under a different manager?