Monthly Archives: August 2012

Fulham talks with Bastos fall through

EXCLUSIVE
By Ed Aarons

Michel Bastos’ agent had confirmed that the Brazilian was in discussions with two Premier League clubs, but the Lyon left winger is set to remain in France after talks fell through with Fulham over a potential loan deal.

The Rhone side had agreed terms over a temporary transfer of the Brazil international, yet the player turned down the move, preferring to bide his time at Stade Gerland.

Initially, Le Parisien reported that the 29-year-old would complete a £7 million transfer to Craven Cottage from after agreeing personal terms, but Goal.com learned that another unnamed Premier League club was also in contention to sign the versatile left-sided player who has won 10 international caps, with Liverpool rumoured to be interested.

“At this moment we have different options for him but I think it is close,” Bastos’ agent Emmanuel De Kerchove told Goal.com.

“He is discussing with two clubs in England and Fulham is one of them. But at the moment I would prefer not to say the other one. We will see what happens as the day goes on.”

Bastos has scored twice in two substitute appearances for Lyon in Ligue 1 this season. He joined from Lille in 2009 and had been tipped to follow former Sunderland striker Asamaoh Gyan to United Arab Emirates side Al Ain.

Although, De Kerchove had expected a move to be sealed on Friday, he revealed there remains the possibility of a move to the Middle East.

He said: “The market in the UAE closes in one month so there is not the same urgency.”

Inter handed eastern European test

Inter have been handed an all eastern European affair and should be confident of their chances of progression to the later stages of the Europa League after the draw was made on Friday.

The Italiians, after gaining a 2-2 draw against Romanian club Vaslui to seal their place in the tournament, will be paired alongside Russian’s Rubin Kazan, Serbian side Partizan and Azerbaijan outfit Neftchi in Group H.

Elsewhere, European holders Atletico Madrid begin their defence of the title with a relatively straight forward group containing Hapoel Tel Aviv of Israel, Czech side Viktoria Plzen, and Portuguese side Academica.

But it would be naive to write off the Czech side’s chances of progression having surprised many with their Champions League performances last season.

In Group A, Udinese’s punishment for failing to qualify for the Champions League on penalties against Braga, is a tough group alongside Liverpool, big-spending Russians Anzhi, and Young Boys from Switzerland.

Udinese looked favourites to go through in their clash with Braga, but a Maicosuel failed panenka penalty gave the Portuguese outfit the impetus to seal a Champions League spot.

Liverpool avoided a late scare from Hearts to book their place in the group stages, while Anzhi hammered Alkmaar 5-0 away from home to ensure they would be playing European football this season.

Napoli and PSV were drawn together in Group F. Dick Advocaat’s side qualified with an emphatic 14-0 aggregate demolition of Montenegro minnows Zeta. While Athletic Bilbao have to negotiate the test of Lyon in Group I, if they are to reach a second successive Europa League final.

Tottenham, Lazio and Panathinaikos clash in Group J and the Greeks have never met any of the sides they will face in the group.

The first round of group matches start on September 20, and the final will take place in the Amsterdam ArenA on June 13 next year.

GROUP A
GROUP B
GROUP C
GROUP D
 Liverpool Atletico Madrid   Marseille  Bordeaux
 Udinese Hapoel Tel Aviv Fenerbahce  Club Brugge
 Young Boys Viktoria Plzen  Borussia Monchengladbach  Newcastle United
Anzhi Makhachkala Academica Limassol  Maritimo
GROUP E
GROUP F
GROUP G
GROUP H
Stuttgart PSV Sporting CP Inter
Copenhagen Napoli Basel  Rubin Kazan
 Steaua Bucharest Dnipro Genk  Partizan
 Molde AIK Videoton Neftchi
GROUP I
GROUP J
GROUP K
GROUP L
Lyon Tottenham  Bayer Leverkusen Twente
 Athletic Bilbao Panathinaikos Metalist Kharkiv Hannover 
Sparta Prague Lazio Rosenborg Levante
Ironi Kiryat Shmona Maribor Rapid Wien Helsingborgs

Liverpool may have signed ‘the next Drogba’ in Leverkusen starlet Samed Yesil

PROFILE
By Clark Whitney

On Thursday, and with little warning, Liverpool announced the signing of Samed Yesil. Coming at the end of a summer laden with prolonged transfer sagas and sky-high release fees, the 18-year-old’s move from Bayer Leverkusen was almost covert.

Indeed, when the Liverpool website broke news of Yesil’s signing, the player’s name was not even mentioned: “Reds Sign Youth Striker” declared the headline. The signing of a young player for such a modest fee of £1 million might be easy to overlook. But when history reflects, Yesil just might be remembered as this summer’s greatest transfer coup.

Throughout his development, Yesil has always been well above the curve: he scored his first goal for Leverkusen at Under-17 level when he was just 14 years old. Two seasons later, he made his debut with the Under-19 team. And in 2011-12, he was the top scorer among all of Germany’s Under-19 leagues, West, North/Northeast, and South/Southwest.

SAMED YESIL: EXPERT VIEW
Falko Bloeding | Goal.com Germany

Bayer Leverkusen letting Samed Yesil go to Liverpool comes as a big, big surprise. Yesil is one of the brightest talents in German football right now and was expected to see first-team action this season.

He is a very skillful, two-footed striker who is at his best once he gets into the box, but he can also play out wide. He has scored 57 goals in 71 matches for Bayer’s youth teams in the last two years, an extraordinary statistic. He also captains Germany’s Under-19 and won the “Silver Shoe” at the Under-17 World Cup two years ago.

I personally think it would be a huge surprise if Yesil makes an immediate impact on the Premier League. He must work on his strength and learn to cope with better defenders but, in the long term, his work-rate should see him succeed.

A glance at Yesil’s goalscoring record alone reveals a striker with an uncommon eye for goal: his 58 strikes in 80 appearances for Leverkusen are especially impressive given he played most of those matches at a level multiple years above his age, and his 22 goals in 27 matches for Germany at Under-17, Under-18, and Under-19 levels speak volumes of his adaptability and superiority over his peers.

To portray Yesil as a collection of figures would do him a great injustice, however: there is far more to the player than statistics can show. While he is undoubtedly a natural centre forward, the Dusseldorf native is as comfortable as a midfielder with the ball at his feet. His touch is soft, his dribbling controlled, and he has the creative spark to play clever back-heels and through-passes to his team-mates. At the 2011 Under-17 World Cup, Yesil recorded more assists than any other player as Germany set a new record for goals scored in the competition.

After making his Bundesliga debut in April, it appeared that Yesil was destined for stardom at Leverkusen. However, the player has taken on a hefty challenge in making the move to Liverpool – time will tell whether it was more than he was prepared to handle.

Given the nature of his position, it was always going to be difficult for Yesil to earn regular playing time before reaching physical maturity. Adding in the Premier League’s reputation for demanding power and strength in central strikers, the starlet faces a challenge that he admitted was substantial in his first interview as a Liverpool player: “It’s important that I improve physically because the Premier League is a tough league,” he said.

Yesil has struggled to cope with the physical demands of playing against more mature opponents, and went scoreless in four matches with Leverkusen’s Under-23 team before his move to England. He has played as many fixtures with Germany’s Under-18 and Under-19 sides over the last calendar year, and enjoyed no more success. Despite all his abundant talent, Yesil still has plenty of work to do, both on the pitch and in the weights room.

Should he overcome the hurdles of adapting to a new language, culture, and style of play, Yesil would not be the first striker to make an early debut at Liverpool. However, the precedents reveal another hurdle: Michael Owen and Robbie Fowler were tremendous talents in their teens and were shuttled through to the senior side long before reaching physical maturity. History will remember their expedited promotion as a mistake, as the careers of both players were blighted by recurring injuries.

New to England and still very raw in both physical and technical development, Yesil must not be rushed into first-team football, nor should great things be expected of him even in his first two or three years on Merseyside. Liverpool must be patient; a loan spell in the 2. Bundesliga would do the player a world of good.

It will take time for Yesil to repay his transfer fee, but when he does, the dividends could be staggering. Liverpool may have signed the next Drogba on Thursday – now they have to bring the best out of him.

Fulham target Bastos ‘still in talks with two Premier League clubs’ – agent

EXCLUSIVE
By Ed Aarons

Michel Bastos’ agent has confirmed that the Brazilian is in discussions with two Premier League clubs but denied that he has reached an agreement to sign for Fulham.

Le Parisien reported that the 29-year-old will complete a £7 million transfer to Craven Cottage from Lyon today after agreeing personal terms. But Goal.com has learned that another unnamed Premier League club is also in contention to sign the versatile left-sided player who has won 10 international caps, with Liverpool rumoured to be interested.
“At this moment we have different options for him but I think it is close,” Bastos’ agent Emmanuel De Kerchove told Goal.com.

“He is discussing with two clubs in England and Fulham is one of them. But at the moment I would prefer not to say the other one. We will see what happens as the day goes on.”

Bastos has scored twice in two substitute appearances for Lyon in Ligue 1 this season. He joined from Lille in 2009 and had been tipped to follow former Sunderland striker Asamaoh Gyan to United Arab Emirates side Al Ain.

But De Kerchove now expects a permanent deal with a Premier League team to be signed before the transfer window closes on Friday.

He said: “The market in the UAE closes in one month so there is not the same urgency. But at this moment the most concrete interest is in England and I expect something to happen today.”

Liverpool – Arsenal Betting Preview: Santi can settle tight game at Anfield

It’s always a big occasion when Liverpool host Arsenal but two games into the season both of these sides are surprisingly still waiting for their first Premier League win of the campaign.

Brendan Rodgers’ side managed to scrape past Hearts in the Europa League on Thursday after surviving a late scare and were beaten on the opening day at West Brom.


But the score-draw against Premier League champions Manchester City last weekend was more encouraging and the Reds may have cause for optimism that Rodgers’ impact can be a positive one. Liverpool are evens (2.00) to pick up their first league win of the season here.

Arsenal may be without a win as yet but they still have one point more than they had at this stage of last season.

The third game of that campaign saw the Gunners famously spanked 8-2 at Old Trafford but it seems there will be no repeat of that defending here – Arsene Wenger’s men have yet to concede a goal.

With a more solid base to work from, all it needs is for new boys Lukas Podolski and Olivier Giroud to start scoring and the north London side will be on their way.

Arsenal are 11/4 (3.75) to win the game, while a third consecutive draw is available at 5/2 (3.50) .

In the goalscorer markets, Luis Suarez is favourite to find the net – as he has done in each of his last two games for Liverpool.

The Uruguayan forward is looking sharp and can be backed to net first in this one at 9/2 (5.50) .

But after two goalless draws for Arsenal so far, it may be that nobody finds a way through at Anfield on Sunday. Another 0-0 can be backed at 10/1 (11.00) .

While that is never the most entertaining of bets to plump for, it does seem unlikely that there will be goals galore here. In the eight competitive games played by these two this season, both teams have scored in just two of them.

Midfielder Mikel Arteta identified the conundrum, saying: “We need to find the right balance. You might be more creative, but you may become more open and concede more goals.”

This probably is not the game for the Gunners to suddenly go gung-ho. As a result, betting against both teams to score in this one is the pick – that’s available at a chunky evens (2.00) .

For the value bet, consider backing Arsenal’s Santi Cazorla to be the man to find a way through. He’s coming off the best goalscoring season of his career at Malaga and has netted in three of his last four starts for Spain.

Santi Cazorla is 12/1 (13.00) to score first and that’s a distinct possibility if he can muscle his way to the front of the free-kick queue.



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Adam Bate is a professional freelance journalist who specialises in football and betting. He is editor of GhostGoal which can be found here – you can also follow Adam on

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Hoffenheim release Ryan Babel

Hoffenheim have reached an agreement with Ryan Babel over the immediate termination of his contract that originally ran until the summer of 2013.

The Dutchman joined the German side from Liverpool in January 2011, but failed to live up to the high expectations at the Bundesliga club.

Babel has made 51 official appearances for Hoffenheim in the past 18 months, scoring a meagre six goals in the process.

The 25-year-old was demoted to the reserves earlier this summer after head coach Markus Babbel voiced his dismay with the attacker’s attitude in training, and he has now been given the freedom to find a new club.

“Five or six clubs have made an approach for Ryan. The plan is to sign a one-year deal somewhere and try and earn a move to a big club again,” Babel’s agent Winnie Haatrecht stated to De Telegraaf.

The Netherlands international has recently been linked with Serie A side Fiorentina.