Category Archives: Transfer Thursday

Santi: The Santa of Statistical Analysis


Santi Cazorla Arsenal

An immediate impact

Our story opens on the Eastern seaboard of Spain in the quaint, orange-picking town of Villarreal. A place devoid of the rampant lonely planet summation or the general scrawling modernisation of the West, Villarreal sits firmly in the shadow of neighbouring Valencia, and in footballing terms (for what other terms could exist) the town sits equidistant from the two most important titans of Spanish culture, Barcelona in the North-East and Madrid in the West. What this Spanish microcosm does possess, is a football side that appears atop the all-conquering hit list of a Google search for “Villarreal”, just as it embodies the town itself; first and foremost.

Villarreal are the archetypal model for overachieving outfits. The Yellow Submarine has been a veritable symbol of success against the odds; and the cheque book. Their first junket into the Primera Liga was a fleeting visit in 1998. It was an inauspicious beginning to the long and complex entanglement that was to follow over the next decade. It took a further consolidating season in the lower tiers before establishing themselves from relative obscurity to 1st division mediocrity. The UEFA Intertoto Cup, far from a household name, marks the next stage in progress for the, by this stage, burgeoning club. It also marked the entrée to a glorious stretch of European adventure that so nearly culminated in a Champions League final place, were it not for an errant Riquelme penalty at Highbury in 2005. With this gallant over-achieving came a drastic decline, that ended in last season’s drab relegation.

More Santi Overleaf

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Transfer Focus: Who’s hot and who’s not? – Part 1


A big welcome to Football for the Day’s latest literary addition to the blog. Bringing a focus on fantasy football, this Newcastle enthusiast lists Xisco, Albert Luque and Boumsong as personal deities. And who are we to judge…

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Who’s hot?

Adam Johnson on Tyneside

Adam Johnson on Wearside

Adam Johnson: The English winger’s time at the Etihad can be described as tumultuous to say the least. Mancini’s inability to accommodate him into an appropriate formation meant that the winger spent much of last season watching from the stands. Johnson’s move to Sunderland will allow him to play a key role in a team that’s on the up. With the astute Martin O’Neill building a promising squad, Johnsons marauding runs down the flank will be seen more frequently this season. At only £7m, we see Johnson as great value for money and provides an exposure to the Mackem’s offensive line. With only 2.5% of players including Johnson in their team, we see him as a solid differential buy whose popularity is bound to increase.

Moussa Dembele: A prominent figure amongst the ever growing Belgian contingent in the Premier League, the creative midfielder makes for a good bit of business by Levy & Co. With a burgeoning reputation that has seen him evolve from just another Eredevisie import into a top class Premier League player, he is undoubtedly someone all fantasy managers will be casting their eye over. Our only hesitation with Dembele, is the uncertainty as to just where he will fit in to AVB’s agenda at the Lane. Moussa’s sublime finish on the weekend went a long way to dampening fears that his historically poor scoring record would transfer with him to North London. At £6mil we see Moussa as a good low cost option, but we would recommend holding off a purchase until gameweek 6, at which stage a more thorough investment appraisal can be formed.

Dimitar Berbatov: Dimitar Berbatov’s transfer to Fulham signals the end of his playing hiatus and his return to the world of fantasy football. With his return to the scene, we would like to remind you just how prolific he has been since arriving in England from Germany. In the 6 years that Berbatov has played in the Premier League (including last season where he made only 12 appearances) he has averaged just shy of 140 points. Costing £6.9mil Berbatov represents good value for managers looking for a traditionally reliable source of points. Berbatov’s adventures at Craven Cottage are more than likely to be a little less fruitful than previous clubs, but his importance to the Cottagers cant’t be overlooked, with significant game time being all but guaranteed. For us, it’s more a matter of when the Berbatov bandwagon will gather pace, more than if. With glimpses of brilliance in his cameo last week, we have faith that this will come sooner rather than later. That’s why we’re saying pick him up now while the differential is still there.

Eden Hazard: Another member of the Belgian entourage plying their trade in the Premier League, Hazard represents what could well be the most exciting signing of the season. In the 3 games that we have seen Eden play, his tally of 6 assists and 1 goal has meant that he has been an instant success for those that took the gamble on the £9mil man. His tendency to provide the decisive pass as well as his silky footwork has provided more than a headache for Premier League defenders. With this taste of things to come, we see his continued evolution as pivotal to the fortunes of Robbie di Matteo’s men – making him our number 1 Chelsea buy. With a hefty following already, signing Eden would hardly separate you from the rest. In spite of this we find him an irresistible purchase and place him very high up our midfielder priority list.

Who’s not

Gylfi Sigurdssonn

The Sig

Gylfi Sigurdsson: The Sig was one of last season’s biggest revelations. After making and maintaining a more than impressive start to his fantasy career, his move to Tottenham has cast serious doubt on whether he will be able to replicate his point scoring form this season. While being the lynch pin for Swansea served him well, will the presence of bigger and better names at his new club have a damaging affect on his fantasy exploits? We believe that this, along with competition from fellow new boys, Clint Dempsey and Moussa Dembele, will all but ensure that Sigurdsson won’t provide the same return that he did last year. At the lofty price of £9mil, despite finishing last season valued at £5.6mil, we see little logic in opting for The Sig, especially when someone like Bale is available for £9.4mil. Steer clear.

Scott Sinclair: Sinclair’s first full season in the Premier League caught the eye of all fantasy managers. His speed and flair not only made him enjoyable to watch, but also a highly acquired fantasy pick. With his move to the Etihad this Summer, we see his outlook as significantly dimmer. With Mancini beginning to employ a 3-4-3 formation, we can’t see Sinclair playing much more than a peripheral role in Citeh’s bid for back to back titles. Mancini’s likening of him to Adam Johnson does not present favourably in our eyes ,as it intimates he’ll be contributing in a similar way. At £6.7mil he remains reasonably priced, but his lack of assured playing time makes him a no-go from us. With a high uptake of 7.2%, we anticipate a spike in the number of transfers out this gameweek as well as a significant dip in his total score this year.

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Gareth Bale: Spurs’ 40m Ticket to the Big Leagues


Gareth Bale Tottenham Spurs Heart

an everlasting love?

The love bearing Gareth Bale will be one of Europe’s hottest prospects over the forthcoming summer of transfers. Bale’s Tottenham exploits have seen him fill the gossip inches in many a tabloid over the previous 2 seasons and get ready to see his name continually with your daily English Breakfast. But for Football for the Day, the Welsh national has under delivered to the Yids of North London and England’s declining managerial patriarch in Harry Redknapp.

Make no mistake, Bale is one of England’s most dominant wide players, possessing the skill and speed to ghost past players with apparent nonchalance. In that taxi for Maicon game, on an extraordinary Italian evening, Gareth forged his reputation as a genuine top liner in the Premier League. Indeed, 2010/11 was a year of brilliance with the resurgent Spurs left edge being front and centre.

More Gareth Overleaf….

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Big Andy, Little Luis, King Kenny in The Liverpool Circus


Andy Carrol Liverpool Football English Premier League

#bigandyliverpoolnumber9

This is undoubtedly Liverpool’s poorest season in the Premier League era. Prior to a ball kicked in earnest the ingredients seemed well balanced: a Kop hero at the helm, significant investment in on-field talent and a promising blend of youth and experience. How things have changed…

At FFTD we have certainly shared in the tribulations of Andy Carroll as he has stumbled through his first Premier League campaign on Merseyside as if being led by Jose Enrique’s daughter while blindfolded and on stilts. The sympathetic view regards England’s most expensive player as a work in progress and a scapegoat for a typically scathing media. Others have pointed to his exorbitant price tag as a negligible factor; something uncontrolled by Carroll creating unrealistic and impossible to fulfill expectations. Whatever the paradigm, A. Carroll is the laughing stock of the world wide web and the emblem of anti-Liverpool sentiment (accompanied by Suarez) much to the chagrin of reds across the planet.

Big Andy was snatched in a desperate last ditch deadline day scramble for a ready made Fernando replacement. While 35 large was excessive even for a league spiralling out of financial rationality, many pundits listed his arrival from Newcastle as a favourable dealing: strong, pacey, good feet and a devastating left peg – Peter Crouch times 5. What was to ensue is common knowledge, but we feel critiques have been continuously amplified out of proportion. Commentators should disregard his price tag for now, as that figure will be amortised over the entirety of his Liverpool career, and instead focus on the deeper-seeded problems at Anfield.

Compared to the good ol’ days on Tyneside, Liverpool’s number 9 has faced worse service than at a Fawlty Towers inspired B & B. Persistent injury complaints to Stevie G and the disappointingly ineffective Charlie Adam have curbed the stem of incisive delivery into forward lying positions. Indeed, the return of Gerrard has afforded Carroll with his best opportunities in a red shirt, and therefore his most promising displays – using deft touches to release the ever-dangerous Suarez. The Carroll/Suarez partnership has been a rarity across the season in a bane for supporters. The pairing is certainly still in its infancy, but has shown fleeting moments of endeavour and adroitness. The flourishing Rooney/Welbeck attack should be an archetypal blueprint. Most tellingly, Suarez, seemingly not someone to give plaudits lightly, is on record with:

 ‘I hope Andy plays with me all matches, he helps me in game’

In their pairing up front, King Kenny has a platform on which to build a more telling challenge next year. This year’s missing piece, rather than efficiency in front of goal, has been creativity in the middle together with the absence of Lucas to provide some solidity in front of a struggling back four (but that’s for another inquiry). Forthright transfer dealings could arrest their worrying slump towards mid table and replace the substandard, such as Downing, with genuine European talent. An attacking marshal in a central role as well as a crafty winger with trickery and a turn of pace are on top of the Anfield shopping list. To give them a hand, because we know they’re reading this, we’ve selected an eclectic mix of some realistic options for the Reds. If this doesn’t propel us into the upper echelons of footballing analysis…

Gaston Ramirez

It is surprising that more gossip fails to circulate one of Europe’s finest prospects in the 21 year old Bologna midfielder. Ramirez may be suited to the English brand with his powerful 6 foot frame and ability to legitimately fulfill a role without the ball. Gaston has continuously been compared to Kaka since bursting onto the scene, in terms of his graceful flair on the ball and his reportedly unflappable temperament. This trait would be a welcome asset to a growing collective of ill-disciplined players led by the pest that is Suarez. A number of other factors point to this deal being successful: Ramirez continues the Uruguayan flavour and should connect with Suarez and Coates, something that should not be understated, at just 21 he fits with Dalglish’s commitment to youth in his recruitment ideology and finally, a bid of £16.3 million is rumoured to be in the bolognaise stained hands of Bologna already.

Estimated Price: £16m                                                                          Rating: 8/10

Scott Sinclair

Sinclair has been at the fulcrum of an eye-catching season from the Welsh Premier League newcomers this season. 7 goals in 22 appearances is noteworthy enough, but he is ensconced in the top 10 for chance creation and assists across the league. While new arrival, Sigurdsson, may be a more convincing option, we think the Icelandic starlet will go to a bigger club with Champions League action, leaving Sinclair as a realistic investment. There are a number of drawbacks however. First, Sinclair’s strength is his penetrating runs from the left towards goal, more so than his delivery from wider areas, something Liverpool could use more desperately. Second, he has flourished in a 4-3-3 abundant with crisp passing and committed movement, two things that do not necessarily fit Liverpool’s attacking idiosyncrasies. Worth a look though.

Estimated Price: £6m                                                                            Rating: 6/10

Younes Belhanda

This Moroccan midfield maestro is a genuine contender as a long-term replacement for the ageing Gerrard. England’s biggest clubs have been lining up for Belhanda’s autograph for some time now, with the Montpellier man seen as a long term replacement for Scholes at United and previously Fabregas at Arsenal. But apparently, Liverpool are finally beating these clubs to something. Younes knows his way to the back of the net too, with 12 goals to accompany his 6 assists in his 30 games in Ligue 1. Newcastle have shown the worth of French imports in their midfield and if John Henry is to break the bank this year, it would be difficult to move past Belhanda. Prepare to see this name in your gossip columns over the months to come.

Estimated Price: circa £20m                                                               Rating: 9/10

Belhanda Montpellier Liverpool Zidane

A talent not to be ignored...

Matt Jarvis

Some of my Liverpool supporting friends have bemoaned that Jarvis is just the sort of player their club will sign – and we tend to agree. 2012’s Charlie Adam, Jarvis is too good for the championship, but too expensive for the mid table club he deserves. Instead, Kenny will come to the rescue, signing another overrated Englishman without any considerable raison d’être. Jarvis is the definition of the word “useful”, but offers little more, and his signing would mark a step sideways at best. While he has been more prolific than Downing, with 7 goals for the debacle that is Wolves, this prospect would be scant improvement to the squad. This will happen – just you wait.

Estimated Price:  £4m                                                               Rating: 4/10

Royston Drenthe

England’s visiting Real Madrid player, adorned with a simply stunning given name, has shown glimpses that would fulfill Liverpool’s lacking. Drenthe is a consistent nightmare for defenders, something that Anton Ferdinand, most particularly, would substantiate. While not necessarily a weakness on the red half of Merseyside, Drenthe adds a set piece menace to accompany his attacking repertoire. On the negative, Royston saves us from a half-hearted attempt at defending by keeping this element completely absent from his game. Additionally, he seems easily flustered on the pitch, a quality that in tandem with the child-like Suarez could be too much to bear for a restless fan base. If the Everton loanee is considered as a replacement for the departing Kuyt, then two more opposite propositions would be difficult to find – something that, along with his lackadaisical attitude, could seriously hamper any efforts to endear himself to a Kop favouring hard-working and dogged performers. Off-field issues may be noteworthy.

Estimated Price: Free                                                                                 Rating: 6/10

Junior Hoilett

If the PFA’s prize for young player of the season was a genuine accolade (maybe youth was determined by years playing professionally, rather than years of age) then Blackburn’s biggest weapon would head the list. Without even a mirage of attacking support from his contemporaries, save the Yak’s three game mid season rich vein of form (HAH!), the Canadian has been a clear standout amongst the shambolic on and off field season served up by Venkys and Steve Kean. Liverpool seem an appropriate destination for the championship-bound Hoilett, but several clubs will be throwing their cheque book at the out of contract winger. With his 3rd season of English football under his belt, Mr Hoilett could be the best possible option to Liverpool’s woes.

Estimated Price: Free Transfer                                                          Suitability: 9/10

 
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Everton: Howzit Steven Pienaar


Steven Pienaar Everton Football Soccer English Premier League Man United

S. Pienaar with his entry for #sloganonundershirtoftheyear

Everton are in the midst of their customary strong end of season finish that has seen them unbeaten in 6 league games and leading the league in key indicators such as possession, goals scored and chance creation. David Moyes’ merry men have found the back of the net 4 times in each of their last three outings; a first for the club. They have now conceded just the 15 times in the last 16 fixtures since the January window was jammed closed, with the only real blemish being in the midst of that comeback at Old Trafford. While before Christmas goals were the major struggle on Merseyside, the arrival of Jelavic, Pienaar and Gibson has produced something of a transformation for their attacking prowess. The most overwhelming proof: 15 goals in 5 exceeds the 13 from the previous 17 league encounters.

Of the trio, Pienaar and Gibson are proven Premier League performers, but the impact of Jelavic has been particularly impressive. Niki J, as he’s affectionately known, would be a veritable hype machine if it wasn’t for one Cisse in Newcastle – and his contribution should not be understated. The front man has been the definition of clinical, taking previously wasted half chances with aplomb. His report card reads 7 in 6 at the minute.

Pienaar has been as influential, and appears motivated in the blue shirt and tireless in his endeavours – two qualities sorely lacking at his unhappy, albeit fleeting, time in London. Standout efforts against Chelsea and United are particularly striking. Specifically, Pienaar’s distribution has been of the highest quality, not afraid to hold possession in more thought out and deliberate build ups. Pienaar is ahead of club averages in several leading barometers: he passes at 82% compared to the team average of 76%. Within this, his final third passing rate is 75%, a figure impressively high, particularly compared to the team’s 66% return. Just to stress this impressive return, across the league, attack minded midfielders typically score below the broader team average, as they are charged with the responsibility for defence splitting passes with a larger degree of difficulty and smaller margin of error.

Further, the South African provides a goal every 138 minutes compared to the next best in FFTD’s much loved Fellaini, who has an assist every 837 minutes and next in line right back Hibbert who provides at just above Marouane’s rate. Incidentally, since returning to Goodison, this is the highest rate of any player in the league. If that isn’t proof of the creativity and imagination of Everton’s best midfielder going forward, then we’ll bring his general chance creation figures for your perusal. Despite appearing only 11 times since January, he is already Everton’s 2nd most proficient manufacturer of goal scoring opportunities in absolute terms. He provides a chance every 28 minutes – well ahead of Leighton Baines at 44 minutes. (It’s worth noting that these figures could be skewed against Pienaar, as Baines takes set pieces to boost his output).

David Moyes is widely regarded for his shrewd squad management, continually scouring the bottom of Europe’s proverbial footballing pool for forgotten talent or untapped potential. But, this year, surely, Moyes should be admonished. The Toffees have moved sideways, trending to the downside, and the sale of Pienaar was an astoundingly poor piece of business. Often teams of lesser financial prowess rest on their povert-status as an excuse for mediocrity and this tag seems to fit Everton a little too snugly. The excuse of finishing above their red rivals is simply mere puff.

Instead of investing in lengthy surnames from Italy and the unproven youth of Greece, two signings that few would have thought could propel Everton from mid to top table, Moyes could have solidified his squad with Pienaar’s autograph. Jelavic is a genuine success even after just half a season and Everton’s future looks rosy with these two in tandem (look no further than their showing at Old Trafford last month). Pienaar’s sale is now a sunk cost and should not be a consideration in wooing him back to the club on a permanent basis. Signing the South African would be an admission of erroneous judgement a year ago, but not signing him would be repeating a mistake hampering progress into the future.

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The Rumour Mill in Full Swing Again!


Just to make sure that footballfortheday isn’t totally overrun by that little thing happening in South Africa, we’re gonna stick to our guns and give you this week’s edition of Transfer Thursday. If you’ve been watching, we haven’t missed a column yet!

This week I didn’t even know where to start. Normally, it’s pretty easy to follow the latest and greatest wheelings and dealings across Europe. But this week it seems that every paper has their own little story. No one’s come out and grabbed the headlines just yet, and you just get the feeling that everything going down at the moment is pure garbage. Everyone’s just waiting for Mancini to make his move, or something like that…

Zlatan Ibrahimovic

According to the (sic) reputable source of news, the Daily Mirror (although it’s still better than that other paper – News of the World), the men at the Catalans are admitting to last season’s transfer errors. The swap deal with Internazionale (their real name is so much sexier) seems to have favoured the Italians, accentuated by the Champions League semi final between the clubs. Ibrahimovic seems to look like another failed signing in Dimitar Berbatov, and he sure reminds me of him. Over and again, the big Swede seems to miss golden opportunities and his lack of lethal finishing seems to have cost him his place for next season. Apparently, Barcelona are itching to broker an auction between Chelsea and Man City. It seems difficult to imagine, considering that both these clubs have outstanding forwards on their books. But when you’re talking about Man City, anything’s possible. If Chelsea really are in for Torres, then I doubt they’d be interested to get into a bidding war with the limitless financial backing that Man City seem to have at their disposal.

The Equation

Barcelona will be eager to “get rid” and start afresh, but really, this particular story seems a little stretched. < 50% on this one.

Mikel Arteta

Last week, we brought you news about Sir Alex and his search for a replacement for the red haired Paul Scholes. This week, we continue to spread the rumours with fresh links to a Spaniard, Mikel Arteta. Fresh from missing out on travelling to South Africa, Arteta apparently still sees it fit to demand more than the “measly” 45,000 pounds a week that he earns at Goodison. He’s spent the majority of the year on the sidelines and despite showing his class once again late in the campaign, may struggle to squeeze a lot more dosh out of the bargaining table. Nevertheless, Man United seem keen to snap up the wizard and he may still fit under their strict wages cap that is enforced. In another upside, Man City don’t seem interested in this particular deal (yet…), so at least there won’t be needless inflation of the signing fee.

The Equation

It’s always difficult to predict the wily Ferguson, but it does seem that he needs some fresh midfield talent, with many of his other supposed replacements seemingly not up to scratch. Arteta looks to have the goods. Everton will be desperate to keep their man, but this one could just come off. 75% chances here.

Charles N’Zogbia

Even though it’s always fun to follow the big money, it’s worth mentioning Birmingham, who after all are a top half club nowadays. Carson Yeung seems to have made available quite a pot of gold for McLeish, and it seems that he’s about to spend the lot. Apparently Ben Foster will be a direct replacement for the fantastic Joe Hart, but that’s old news already. Next up for the Blues is the crafty Wigan talent in N’Zogbia. N’Zogbia has been a crucial element in an otherwise poor Wigan side and a move to a bigger club could be on the cards. Wigan could easily be tempted to turn a nice little profit on this one. I wonder if he’ll be willing to move on already, however, having only just arrived at the Lactics.

The Equation

Passthesugar will slap a 50% label onto the trade.

Daniele De Rossi

Bloody hell, just piss off already mate. And to all you other clubs out there: he’s not gonna leave.. you get it? The notoriously stubborn and difficult to sign de Rossi has yet again popped up – this time Roma have rejected a 38 million pound bid for midfielder. Personally I’ve hardly seen him play, but by the reports of certain colleagues, and with a quick glance at Wikipedia, it seems that he fits the bill to be included on the Arab’s lengthy shopping list. If Manc really want a quality midfielder, maybe they should chase a player who can’t break it into the starting 11; think Diarra or Gago.

The Equation

This whole write up has stemmed from a publication known as La Stampa. With a quality name like that it’s gotta be 100% accurate.

Phil Bardsley

In what is set to be one of the biggest transfer moves of the summer, unwanted and left out Bardsley is set to snub Sunderland to join the Hawthorns and passthesugar’s beloved Baggies. West Brom have reportedly offered the princely sum of 1.2 million for the defender who will look to shore up their back four. He’s one of a group of players to be owned by glamour club Man United, but quickly be shipped off on loan deals all over the shop. Most recently, Bardsley got a bit of karma, after being second choice behind the on loanees Hutton and Mensah at Sunderland.

The Equation

Bardlsey will become one of the hottest properties in England this time next year, after helping West Brom to a miraculous top 6 finish. (think Michael Turner at Hull – just more) Crazier things have happened… well not really, but anyway here’s to dreaming. 80% it’ll come off

Just a footnote: In a revolutionary move, Tottenham and Chelsea showed off some of their finer “for sale/loan” talent yesterday with a training park showdown between the two clubs. Apparently they held a roll call for every manager in the land from 10th spot in the top flight and lower. I wonder what this will do for the players morale. Anyway, hopefully di Matteo was watching a bloke with the last name of Rose very closely.

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