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Stephane M’bia: From relegation to history making

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At first glance, the title shows a player that has had one heck of an odd career, and to think that would be right. Stephane M’bia has been at the forefront of personal criticism, shambolic team performance and controversy. Finally settled in an enthralling Sevilla side, is this time for the Cameroonian captain to leave a lasting impression on the beautiful game?

Beginning his career at Rennes in the 2006/07 season it only took M’bia a year to be in the face of controversy. At 21-years-old, his club Rennes came against Ligue 1 giants Lyon. During the game, he had battled against Czech star Milan Baros. The dual became heated when the former Liverpool striker remarked that M’bia smelt. The cameras caught Baros wafting his hand by his nose before pinching it. M’bia felt ‘deeply saddened’ by the act and while Baros was given a three match ban, the authorities did not see it as a racist gesture.

M’bia went on to establish himself in the side from Brittany making 105 appearances between 2006 and 2009, scoring 4 goals in his time. Summer of 2009 then brought a new challenge, a £10.4m move to Marseille awaited him. An instant hit, he played a vital role in their title winning campaign. His partnership with Diawara in the heart of defense impressed Ligue 1 viewers watching Didier Deschamps diverse squad.

After 3 years, M’bia went from hero to almost zero in terms of value to the French side. In 2012 he was sold to QPR in return for Joey Barton (Who gave a great impression of English people to the French – maybe not). The Cameroonian was one of the purchases during a shambolic period for QPR as the owner, Tony Fernandes, threw money at overrated stars in the hope of survival.

M’bia enjoyed few moments of success during his time at Loftus Road.

M’bia failed to impress Hoops fans as he was sent of in just his fourth appearance for lashing out at Arsenal’s Thomas Vermaelen, now of Barcelona. A player on £50,000 a week was often caught out of position, lazily retreating after losing a 50/50 and playing halfheartedly giving possession away far too many times.

The season drew to a close with QPR relegated after a dismal survival attempt. To add insult to injury for the hoops fans, M’bia then made a mess of things on socially media, tweeting Joey Barton asking ‘Do you want to rechange [swap] seats with me?’ after a reply from Barton telling him the swap wasn’t on the cards. The Cameroon captain then claimed his account was hacked after attacking QPR for not talking to him about an exit.

Exiled on loan to Sevilla, M’bia had two paths to choose. Rot and collect money or play for the fans and show his true talent. Fortunately for the Spanish side, M’bia chose to behave. Brought in to fill the hole left by Kondogbia, he had an instant impact turning provider for Kevin Gameiro’s first La Liga goal against Malaga.

Later in the season, he scored a goal in the derby against Real Betis to put Sevilla 2-0 to the good, the scoreline ended comfortably at 4-0. Proving he was a big game player, M’bia followed up the winning away goal to set up a Europa League final tie against Benfica in Turin.

The final ended 0-0 and went to penalties, where M’bia produced agaon, scoring his penalty to help win the shootout and the trophy. The strong run of form on the European stage earned him a place in UEFA’s 18 man Europa Team of the Year.

Few can fault the Cameroonian’s form since his move to La Liga with Sevilla.

His Sevilla move was made permanent at the end of the season and it has produced more strong individual performances. Scoring the most goals at a single club, M’bia has established himself as a useful asset to Unai Emery’s well structured Sevilla side.

Given a less responsible role next to Krychowiak, M’bia moves around in a hunters fashion, looking to obstruct opposition attacks and provide the ball for the attacking talents Sevilla possess. An athletic player, he has helped create history at Sevilla. Scoring in the first Europa League game against Feyenoord, he also helped finish the job against Dnipro.

The holding duo of Krychowiak and M’bia allowed the understated Banega to wave his magic wand. Incisive passive and freedom to roam knowing he had cover was key to winning the contest. Reclaiming the trophy created history, as Sevilla became the first side to win the title four times.

The win also allows the Spanish outfit to compete in the Champions League next season, potentially allowing Emery to strengthen his side to compete with the big three in Spain.

A mastery of man management from Emery and his staff towards M’bia, the man from Cameroon has put past controversy behind him to focus on his football. Sevilla have provided a perfect environment and he has flourished.

An example to others, M’bia portrays the perfect story of a player who has changed from being money minded to a focused, driven professional. The history making Cameroonian may have left a tremendously understated legacy on the beautiful game.

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West Ham United

Marlon Santos joining West Ham would be ideal solution to defensive woes

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Photo: Getty Images.

There will be a summer of change at West Ham United this summer and with James Collins leaving the club there will be a spot opening up in defence. Reports from Spain indicate that the man to fill it could be Barcelona youngster Marlon Santos.

The Brazilian joined the Spanish giants permanently last summer after impressing for their B team and earning a first team debut in 2016/17 and spent pre-season with Ernesto Valverde’s first team before being sent out on loan.

Now, reliable Catalan newspaper Mundo Deportivo say that West Ham are interested in taking the defender on loan next season after he has impressed in France, playing for OGC Nice, making 27 appearances during his loan spell.

(Photo credit should read VALERY HACHE/AFP/Getty Images)

The 22-year-old has also been linked with Leicester but with West Ham believed to be leading the chase, it would be a wise move from Manuel Pellegrini to seal a deal as soon as possible.

Strong in the tackle, Santos would also bring some much needed pace to the West Ham defence. Replacing the likes of Collins and Jose Fonte who departed in January, the arrival of a fleet-footed defender would be a welcome turnaround at the London Stadium.

It may also suggest a change in style, with the former Fluminense youth product known for his ability on the ball, often looking to dribble out from the back to get his team transitioning from defence to attack.

Pellegrini is clearly putting the building blocks in place to build a side in his own image, and bringing in Marlon Santos would be a cheap and sensible addition to fix a major problem area.

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Tottenham Hotspur

Malcom would add another dimension to Tottenham’s attack

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Photo: Getty Images.

After an impressive 2017/18 campaign, Tottenham are already beginning to plan for 2018/19 and are keen to make a statement in their first season in a new look White Hart Lane. One way they may do so is with the addition of Girondins Bordeaux forward Malcom.

Sky Bet currently list Tottenham at 7/2 to sign the Brazilian, just behind favourites Manchester United in the running at 3/1, and such an acquisition would bring an exciting new element to Mauricio Pochettino‘s attacking set-up.

Predominantly playing on the right wing, Malcom may offer more width than many of the options within the Tottenham squad, but much like Heung-Min Son and Erik Lamela, he likes to dribble on the ball and cut inside, offering a direct threat rather than looking to cross into others.

The 21-year-old scored 12 goals in 35 Ligue Un games for Bordeaux this season and whilst not exactly prolific, would help to add goals to the Lilywhites’ midfield and reduce the reliance on Harry Kane.

(Photo credit should read NICOLAS TUCAT/AFP/Getty Images)

He also has some similarities to the likes of Christian Eriksen as a superb set piece taker who likes to shoot from distance, helping to add another dimension as Tottenham look to break down more defensive sides who sit deep in hope of frustrating them.

With huge potential to develop even further, Malcom may not come cheaply but would represent an interesting project for Pochettino to get even more out of him. Whilst he bares many similarities to Erik Lamela when he arrived in north London, if he can avoid injury he could go on to become the player Spurs had hoped to see Lamela become.

His pace and threat would add a much needed option into the Spurs attack, complimenting the playmakers like Eriksen, Dele Alli and Lucas Moura and supporting the goalgetter Harry Kane. Strength in depth is key in Tottenham’s quest for silverware and Malcom would be a step in the right direction to achieving it.

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Newcastle United

Fulham promotion opens up £15m exit for Aleksandar Mitrovic

The Newcastle United star is likely to move away from the club this summer.

Mathew Coull

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Fulham won promotion to the Premier League yesterday with a 1-0 win over Aston Villa in the Championship play-off final. The Cottagers scored in the first-half through Tom Cairney to rightfully take their place back in the top-flight of English football.

It was a tremendous performance and in the summer Fulham will be looking to bring in some new faces to help them stay in the top-flight. One of those faces, will not be necessarily new. Aleksandar Mitrovic has been brilliant for Fulham since joining on loan in January.

The Serbian striker has scored 12 goals since his arrival at Craven Cottage and will no doubt be wanted permanently at the club.

Is this good news for Newcastle United?

There has been plenty of talk regarding the Serbian’s exit from St James’ Park in the winter. Many fans on Tyneside are wondering whether the club should have kept him at Newcastle, considering his goal record in London.

(during the Premier League match between Newcastle United and Watford at St. James Park on November 25, 2017 in Newcastle upon Tyne, England.

However, it is clear that Rafa Benitez is not a fan of the player and the Spaniard certainly made things work without him.

The best thing for Newcastle right now is to sell him and ensure they bring in enough money to cover the cost of his original signing.

Fulham represent their best option to do so. Newcastle want about £15 million for the player, according to the London Evening Standard, which is the fee they paid for the Serbian in 2015.

Fulham will no doubt want to bring him to the club this summer, but would not have been able to bring him to the club had they failed to secure promotion to the Premier League.

The Cottagers can now afford the player and Mitrovic’s price-tag is unlikely to be a problem with the bonus they will receive for heading into the top-flight. Newcastle must be pleased that Fulham earned promotion, as it will allow them the best opportunity to move Mitrovic on without a major loss.

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