French winger Hatem Ben Arfa has endured a horrible season with Paris Saint-Germain having signed for the capital club in July 2016, after a sensational campaign with Nice. The ex-Newcastle United winger was in blistering form for the club based in the south of France and scored 18 times in 37 appearances for them before moving to Unai Emery’s side in order to rejuvenate his career with the French national team and get more playing time in the UEFA Champions League.
Surrounded by star names, Ben Arfa has seen starts for the club hard to come by and has only scored four goals in total – all of them coming in either the Coupe de la Ligue or the Coupe de France, mostly against lower league opposition. Less than 12 months into his stay at the club, Ben Arfa looks set to leave them and there is no shortage of interest for the tenacious winger.
At this point, the most realistic move for him is going back to Nice, with the Nice president, Jean-Pierre Rivere, already publicly declaring that they would be interested in bringing back their former winger to the Allianz Riviera. Nice have attained qualification to the Champions League play-offs, overcoming the challenge of usual contenders Lyon and Marseille and returning there would guarantee first-team football at the highest level for Ben Arfa. In addition to that, staying local in a place he knows so well would boost his chances of returning to the French national team.
Amongst his suitors, there is sure to be interest from England, where he has a lot of unfinished business, having failed to fulfil his potential with Newcastle United. The Toon are now back in the Premier League, and an experienced, more mature Ben Arfa, under the tutelage of Rafael Benitez, would be a great move for both parties. However, this deal seems unlikely, due to his previous experiences which ended in turmoil with the fans and owner Mike Ashley.
Another option in England would be on the south coast, with Southampton, where he would reunite with Claude Puel, who he worked with during his successful spell at Nice. This move also seems to have its problems, however. Puel’s future looks to be in doubt at St. Mary’s with fans having turned on him after a dire season of on-pitch performances, despite achieving and eighth-placed finish and finishing runners-up in the EFL Cup. There are also a number of options out-wide for Southampton, with the likes of Nathan Redmond and Dušan Tadic, amongst many others, already at the club.
Finally, his last possible option in England would be to the capital, with West Ham United, who could finally land their replacement for Dimitri Payet, six months after he left the club. The Hammers have been reliant on Manuel Lanzini for creativity this season, and adding a technician like Ben Arfa makes perfect sense for them. He is now in the right frame of mind, and at the age of 30, with just one year left on his contract at Paris Saint-Germain, it is unlikely to cost them too much. Ben Arfa’s experience could be vital for them as West Ham look for a better second season at the Olympic Stadium.
Away from England, Ben Arfa could land in Spain with Sevilla, who attempted to sign him up on a free transfer last season before he moved to Paris, as reported by ESPN. The Spanish side also provide the prospect of Champions League football, having finished fourth in La Liga. A move could be hard to complete, however, as Sevilla’s existing options have done a decent job this season, and the departure of Sporting Director Monchi, as well as manager Jorge Sampaoli, who looks set to take the Argentine national team role, could put this second attempt to sign him up in doubt.
Also, there is interest from Italy, where both Milan clubs, Inter and AC, have shown prior interest in the winger. AC Milan have greater spending power in the market under new owner Li Yonghong. Both clubs from the city need greater attacking options and AC Milan provide a shot at the Europa League having qualified for European competition for the first time in three seasons. Inter, however, still need to appoint a new manager, having sacked Stefano Pioli in May and transfer plans could be scuppered by the new management.
Whether it’s France, England, Italy or Spain, Ben Arfa is sure to provide an injection of skill and tenacity to his new club and at the age of 30, brings a certain amount of experience. There will be no shortage of suitors for his services, and this would be the right time to sign him up as he looks to put things right ahead of the final stages of his playing career.
Who are the five most valuable players under the age of 21?
The CIES Football Observatory have produced a list of the 100 most valuable players under the age of 21 and it makes for interesting reading, with three Premier League players in the top five.
CIES are a research group based within the International Centre for Sports Studies. It was created in 2005 and has looks to specialise in the statistical analysis of football, which is a growing field within the sport.
A lot of their studies are based in the financial side of the game and given the continued increase of transfer fees, they produce a lot of information that is of interest to clubs.
This particular study focuses on the top five leagues and it won’t come as a surprise that the Premier League features heavily.
Here are the five most valuable under-21 players according to the CIES study:
5 – Marcus Rashford (€116.7 million)
Amid all the spending that Manchester United have done in recent seasons, the value of producing your own players through your academy continues to be shown in the Manchester United squad. It is important to their supporters to have homegrown players and Marcus Rashford is one of the best that they have produced in recent seasons. According to CIES, he is already worth more than £100 million and it is remarkable to think that he may not have been given a chance if it wasn’t for injuries to Wayne Rooney and Anthony Martial.
It has been a good start to the season for Marcus Rashford as he continues to get significant minutes, despite the arrival of Romelu Lukaku. Across the Premier League and Champions League, he has contributed six goals and four assists. His goal involvement is one every 113.8 minutes. Considering he has been used in various positions and not played every week, this is impressive. United need to continue showing faith in him. If they do, the sky is the limit.
4 – Ousmane Dembele (€120.4 million)
The French winger made headlines during the summer, as he was selected to be the replacement for Neymar at Barcelona. There is a lot of pressure on the 20-year-old to live up to his price tag, which was £135.5 million. There were clauses included in the deal, but the overall value is more than the £120.4 million that he has been estimated at by CIES. However, there were circumstances driving that. Namely, the desperate position of Barcelona.
Last season, he was one of the best players in the Bundesliga as he contributed eight goals and 18 assists across the two major competitions. His goal involvement was one every 108.2 minutes, which underlines why Barcelona were keen to buy him this season. An injury has hindered him at the beginning of his La Liga career, but he remains one of the most exciting young players in the game.
3 – Leroy Sane (€124.5 million)
The £37 million that Manchester City paid for the German international is looking more and more like a bargain with every passing day. CIES value the winger at €124.5 million and that underlines the improvement he has made under Pep Guardiola. He is now one of the most devastating attackers in the Premier Leaguer and it will be fascinating to see how much further he can go, as he is only 21.
His record in the Premier League this season has been remarkable and he is well on his way to contributing at least ten goals and ten assists. Sane is already on six goals and six assists, with a goal involvement every 78.75 minutes. The quality of the team helps him, but his own performances have contributed significantly to the success of City.
2 – Dele Alli (€180.2 million)
It has been a difficult start to the new season for Dele Alli, but he remains one of the most exciting players in the world. In the list of these five players, the England international is the most attainable for the biggest clubs in Europe, as Tottenham have the lowest chance of winning major trophies. It will take a huge fee to secure the midfielder and the valuation of €180.2 million from CIES is around the fee that Spurs would expect.
Since joining Tottenham as a teenager, he has been a revelation and scored 28 goals during his first two Premier League seasons. This season has been harder as he has only three goals in 15 matches, but he was always going to go through a drop-off in form at some point. The test will be how he recovers. The next few months will show us how far Alli can go in the game.
1- Kylian Mbappe (€182.8 million)
The valuation from CIES is fractionally higher than the reported fee that PSG will pay for the teenager next summer when his transfer is made permanent. He was a revelation last season and played a major role in Monaco winning Ligue 1 and reaching the Champions League semi-finals. PSG have made the move to sign him and he could become the best player in the world at the club if he is managed correctly.
This season hasn’t been as eye-catching as his debut season in senior football, but he has been very impressive still, especially when his age is taken into consideration. He has contributed nine goals and seven assists across the two major competitions, with a goal involvement of 86.5 minutes. This is incredible, but there have been some critics as he isn’t as noticeable playing alongside Edinson Cavani and Neymar. He is clearly the best young player in the world and this list from CIES reflects that.
How Twitter reacted to Tottenham’s signing of defender Serge Aurier from Paris Saint-Germain
Tottenham’s summer transfer window seems to be hitting full flow with less than a day until the deadline as the north London side confirmed that Serge Aurier has signed from Paris Saint-Germain.
The 24-year-old right-back will join Mauricio Pochettino’s side on a five-year deal in a move BBC Sport believe will set Spurs back around £23 million, becoming their fourth arrival in the space of seven days.
There had been fears that a move for Aurier was in jeopardy as Tottenham waited to hear from the Home Office about whether the Ivorian would receive a UK work visa, following a conviction last year for assaulting police officers in the French capital, but his work permit has been granted in time to complete a move before the deadline.
Talking about his move to Tottenham, Aurier said:
“This is a huge and exciting opportunity at a massive football club and I am determined to prove myself”.
The 24-year-old managed 81 appearances across all competitions for PSG since arriving from fellow French outfit Toulouse in 2014, helping them secure back-to-back Ligue 1 and Coupe de France titles.
Aurier had taken to social media on Wednesday afternoon to tease a move…
— Serge Aurier (@Serge_aurier) August 30, 2017
Before Tottenham confirmed the £23million switch on Thursday…
— Tottenham Hotspur (@SpursOfficial) August 31, 2017
And it’s fair to say Tottenham fans were just a little thrilled by the addition…
— Josh Abbott (@pigeon_spurs) August 31, 2017
YESSSS SERGE AURIER HAS SIGNED!!!
— Liam (@KingWanyama) August 31, 2017
— Muhammad Ariff (@ariffzani) August 31, 2017
— Georgio (@Bucky_96) August 31, 2017
With supporters of rivals clubs even conceding that it’s a great signing…
Aurier is a proper, proper player. Cracking signing.
— Jamie (@JCollettCFC) August 31, 2017
Spurs sign Aurier good singing???
— Paz (@UtdPaz) August 31, 2017
Spurs could be signing Llorente, Gomes & Aurier today, instantly makes them title challengers again if they sign all 3 in my opinion..
— Cian Collopy ?? (@Fish_Collopy) August 31, 2017
And some Spurs fans had already forgotten about Kyle Walker…
Better then Walker, for half the price. Well played.??
— Nathan (@Franiee_) August 31, 2017
Sell Kyle Walker for £50m. Buy Serge Aurier for £23m pic.twitter.com/aivUSGK2VA
— Danny Aarons (@imdannyaarons) August 31, 2017
Serge Aurier wow… twice the player of Kyle Walker and half the price ?#Spurs
— Jordan (@jordsolx) August 31, 2017
Others are still waiting for potential further arrivals later on today…
— Cameron Jackson (@CammmyJj27) August 31, 2017
— George Rickwood (@rickwood_george) August 31, 2017
But either way, it seems that the optimism has returned to the white side of north London…
Rose, Toby, Jan, Sanchez and Aurier. WHAT. A. DEFENCE. ? #COYS
— James Forster (@TheJamesForster) August 31, 2017
What do you think Tottenham fans? Is Aurier the signing of the summer? Let us know below.
Would PSG’s Julian Draxler statistically be a good replacement if Alexis Sanchez leaves Arsenal?
Arsenal fans will be wondering when they can wake up from the nightmare ending to the summer transfer window, and it could get worse with the future of Alexis Sanchez hanging by a tiny thread.
BBC Sport reported on Tuesday evening that Manchester City have submitted an opening offer of £50 million for the Chilean forward – an offer rejected by Arsenal – but it’s expected they will return.
And the Mirror have claimed that the only way that Sanchez will be allowed to leave the Emirates over the course of the day would be if a move for Paris Saint-Germain’s Julian Draxler could be done. But with Sanchez so influential last season, how does the German international compare to him?
Industry in the opposition third
It’s hard to argue against the fact that, had it not been for Sanchez last season, then Arsenal would have finished much lower down the table than fifth and manager Arsene Wenger would not still be in London.
And part of the Chilean’s influence was just how busy he was in the final third, constantly working hard and roaming in-between the midfield and defensive lines, and it shows in his season’s statistics.
He made an average of 43.18 passes per match in the Premier League in comparison to Draxler’s tally of 31.24 – although it’s worth noting Draxler made five of his 17 appearances from the bench.
Yet the 23-year-old German international completed a higher percentage of his passes (85%) over the course of the season and there’s no doubt he could bring a similar level of productivity to Arsenal.
Producing the end product
With Sanchez being the main man at the Emirates last season – and realistically the only potent threat in front of goal aside from target-man Olivier Giroud – it’s no surprise that he’s miles ahead on this one too.
Across the course of the season he averaged 0.63 goals per game, scoring 24 in just 38 league appearances, and add an average of 0.26 assists per match and his importance shows even clearer.
The PSG forward doesn’t lag too far behind however with 0.24 goals per game, creating just less than two clear-cut chances per match in Ligue 1, and it’s not a bad return considering he only managed 1011 minutes of football in the French capital last year and was often restricted to cameo performances.
Although Draxler has been supposedly lined-up as a proposed Sanchez replacement, it’s key to remember that he’s more of a natural wide player whereas the Chilean was comfortable striking.
Should the speculation actually become a reality over the course of the day then Draxler would no doubt play on the left-wing, acting as support for Arsenal’s new record signing Alexandre Lacazette.
Yet one place where the PSG man comes into his own is when it comes to taking on defensive responsibilities, averaging just less than one (0.71) interceptions per match at the French giants.
This tally, along with the fact he makes 0.24 defensive clearances per game, both trumps the Chilean’s number (0.63 and 0.13 respectively) and highlights the benefit that Draxler could bring at both ends of the pitch, especially if he would be utilised as a left-winger that can help track back.
Should he join, and should Wenger persist with his wing-back formation, then Draxler’s ability to defend would be such an underestimated asset and add something that Sanchez didn’t last season.
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