Category Archives: European Football

Who is Takumi Minamino and how will he fit in at Liverpool?

Takumi Minamino made history this week when he became Liverpool’s first Japanese signing in their history. 

The reds bought Minamino from Austrian side Red Bull Salzburg for just £7.25 million.

This is widely considered a bargain in today’s transfer market and he will arrive on Merseyside when the January transfer window officially opens on January 1st2020.

This in mind, 24/7 Football has decided to take a look at who he is and what he will bring to the Premier League leaders.

When did Liverpool become aware of Minamino

The Japanese international is just the latest Liverpool signing in recent times to have worked with high profile German coach Ralf Rangnick, the current RB Salzburg head of sport and development.

Rangnick had a hand in the development of Sadio Mane and Naby Keita, who had both played for the Austrian club.

The Merseyside club first became aware of Minamino’s talents when he played against them in the Group Stage in the Champions League this season, the reds full back Andy Robertson said:

“It was difficult to play against RB Salzburg full stop, but I thought he was their main man,” the Scottish international told the Liverpool Echo.

Robertson continued:

“He was the one, especially at Anfield, who caused us problems.

“When we went 3-0 up, he started to dictate the game. He started to run at us a wee bit and he got a goal and an assist.”

RB Salzburg would end up losing that game 4-3 but came back from 3-0 down in impressive fashion with the Japanese international very much at the heart of the Austrian club’s impressive showing.

Previous clubs and current form this season

Minamino began his career in the J League for Cerezo Osaka and became the league’s youngest ever scorer at the age of 18 back in 2013. In that season he was awarded the J League Rookie of the year prize.

In 2015 Minamino moved to RB Salzburg and has also been involved in more goals than any other player in the Austrian Bundesliga since his making his debut for the club.

During this campaign so far, Minamino has managed five goals and six assists in just 11 appearances this season despite having problems with injury.

While in the Champions League group stage he scored two goals and provided three assists, including scoring against Liverpool at Anfield.

Finally for his international side Japan, he has maintained his impressive form by scoring 11 goals in 22 games.

What is his best position?

Positionally Minamino is very adaptable however his regular position tends to be on the right wing.

The new Liverpool man has also played in an attacking midfield role, where he particularly impressed against Jurgen Klopp’s team in Austria.

Tom Middler, the host of the other Bundesliga podcast that is devoted to the Austrian league said:

“He naturally fits the three-up front style that Klopp plays.  He could be good cover for somebody like Roberto Firmino.”

German football expert, Raphael Honigstein said:

“I was probably expecting Liverpool to make a move for Leipzig’s Timo Werner.  Minamino is a lot cheaper but also perhaps has more value in terms of improvement and the places he can go.

“Again, Liverpool have learned as a club that you don’t buy the finished article for £100 million.”

 Summary

 If Minamino proves to be even half as good as the likes of Mane then Klopp would certainly be onto another winner.  

 The Premier league leaders will hope that the Japanese international will help ease the burden on the front three and give them another much needed attacking option. 

 

 

Zlatan Ibrahimović set to return to A.C. Milan

After starring for the MLS’ LA Galaxy for the past two seasons, Zlatan Ibrahimović has reportedly agreed to a principle deal, returning to A.C. Milan for at least until the end of this season.

Ibrahimović, who scored 42 goals in 61 appearances for the Serie A side from 2010 to 2012, will be brought in for some much-needed assistance as Stefano Pioli’s Milan are currently in 11th place in the league with a record of 5-2-7. The Lion has several years of Serie A experience under his belt, playing for the likes of Juventus (2004 to 2006), Inter Milan (2006 to 2009), as well as Milan. 

However, critics wonder if Ibrahimović, 38, will be able to play at a high level in one of the top leagues in the world. Even though the Swedish international played a pivotal role for the Galaxy as he accumulated 52 goals in 56 appearances for the club, the North American league is considered a place where Europe’s biggest stars come to retire. 

This move back to the San Siro will be a huge step in Ibrahimović’s career to see if he still has the ability to play a top-level league. Do you think he will shine again in Italy?

LA Galaxy look towards PSG’s Edinson Cavani to replace Zlatan Ibrahimović

According to several reports, the LA Galaxy are hoping to replace Zlatan Ibrahimović with former PSG teammate Edinson Cavani.

Ibrahimović, who had been in the league since making his much-anticipated debut for the Galaxy on March 31, 2018, decided it was time to leave the club after scoring an impressive 52 goals in only 56 appearances.

Cavani, who has been sensational for the French giants since arriving from Napoli in 2013, has fallen down the pecking order after the club signed Inter Milan’s Mauro Icardi on loan for this season. This has caused the Uruguayan striker to find a move that could get him playing time, which the MLS would be able to offer.

Throughout the summer, Cavani had been linked to David Beckham’s Inter Miami for their inaugural season, but Ibrahimović’s departure could lead the storied franchise to sign the prolific striker.

The Uruguayan has been a pivotal part of PSG since his arrival, scoring 136 goals in 192 appearances with the club. Cavani has also been sensational for his national team, alongside FC Barcelona’s striker Luis Suárez, bagging 48 goals in 114 appearances. 

If the Galaxy are able to land Cavani, it would be a major coup for the league. The striker has dominated Europe, winning a Coppa Italia with Napoli in 2012, winning five Ligue 1 titles, and many more. The Uruguayan was also a part of the squad that won the 2011 Copa América in Argentinian soil.

Although Cavani’s personality may not as out-of-the box as Ibrahimović’s, whose flair off the pitch seemed to take over the city of Los Angeles and the league, he is a player that could make an immediate impact if signed.

The 32-year-old looks as if he could still play at a high level, so some may wonder why he would move to the MLS, a league considered to be a place where Europe’s biggest stars come to “retire.” However, if the Galaxy are able to land Cavani, it could be a huge step to increase star influence in the league, having already had players such as Beckham, Ibrahimović, Thierry Henry, Didier Drogba, and many more take their talents to the U.S. and Canada. 

As the Galaxy become desperate to search for their next No. 9, it should be interesting to see if Cavani will be able to fill the giant void left by Ibrahimović in a city where the lights and pressure shine the brightest.

3 possible candidates for the Bayern job

Bayern München have sacked manager Niko Kovac following their 5-1 loss away to Frankfurt on Saturday. But who should replace him?

Bayern sit forth in the Bundesliga and top of their group in the Champions League so it has been in no way a failure of a season. With this in mind, who ever replaces him won’t have the biggest job on their hands to turn the Bavarians fortunes around. 

Arsene Wenger

The former Arsenal Premier League winner is one of the favourites to take the job. After spending twenty-two successful years at the Gunners, the seventy-year-old has spent the last few years being a pundit. But the mastermind that lead Arsenal to a whole season unbeaten could go back into management with one of the best teams in Europe.

Max Allegri

A more realistic and probably conventional option for the Bundesliga champions is Max Allegri. After being sacked in early 2019 by Juventus, Allegri has been without a job which is surprising considering his known quality. Allegri started his managerial career at Serie D side Aglianese and has never ventured out of Italy but with more experience of modern football and a more nailed down football style, he would be a much better acquisition. 

Jose Mourinho 

The Champions League winner is the bookies favourite to take the job but he has also been linked to the Arsenal job if Emery gets the sack. The former Manchester United man has publicly implied that he is looking for a job and Mourinho would fit the bill at the German club well.

 

Who ever takes the job has a great platform to build from. Bayern sit just four points behind top spot which isn’t a big deficit to make up over the rest of the season. Add in the form of Lewandowski and the arrival of young defenders Pavard and Hernandez and you’ve got some very big players with a bright future.

Premier League teams have two wins and two draws on Matchday 4 of Champions League

In Europe’s biggest club tournament, the Premier League has continued to stamp its mark on the event as their teams have shown strong performances through the four matchdays.

Reigning Champions League winners Liverpool defeated Belgian side Genk 2-1 courtesy at Anfield. These two teams had previously faced off against each other during Matchday 3, where Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain’s two-goal performance helped the Reds to a 4-1 win at Luminus Arena. Jürgen Klopp’s side took the lead in the 14th minute courtesy of a goal from Georginio Wijnaldum but allowed a goal from Mbwana Samatta to have a tied score halftime. Thirteen minutes late, Oxlade-Chamberlain continued his strong string of performances in the tournament with a game-winning goal. Liverpool, who are now in first place of Group E, will host Napoli on November 27 to get revenge after suffering a 2-0 loss at San Paolo Stadium.

Chelsea, who won the most recent edition of the Europa League, hosted a wild battle against Ajax at Stamford Bridge. The visitors, whose fans were not allowed to attend the fixture after crowd trouble in their match against Valencia, got off to a quick start after Tammy Abraham scored an own goal in the second minute, but Jorginho converted a penalty two minutes later. Later, in the 20th minute, Quincy Promes finished a cross from Hakim Ziyech to take the lead and increased the advantage before halftime thanks to an own goal from Kepa Arrizabalaga. Ajax continued to trample the Blues during the second half and had a three-goal lead after Donny van de Beek’s goal in what seemed like an easy victory for the Eredivisie side. However, goals from César Azpilicueta (63’), Jorginho (71’ PEN), and substitute Reece James (74’) helped the Blues tie this match, with Ajax down two center backs after red cards for Daley Blind and Joël Veltman. Frank Lampard’s side, who are second in Group H due to goal differential, will travel to Valencia on November 27 and hope to defeat the La Liga side after falling to them at home.

Manchester City were held to a 1-1 draw by Atalanta at the San Siro, but still remain in first place of Group C. City got off to a blazing start after Raheem Sterling, who had a hat trick in a span of 11 minutes the last time these two teams played at Etihad Stadium, scored a goal in the seventh minute. However, four minutes into the second half, Mario Pasalic, who is on loan from Chelsea, scored a header courtesy of a cross from Alejandro Gómez. The game took an interesting turn after subsitute goalkeeper Claudio Bravo, who came into the game after Ederson’s injury, was shown a red card in the 81st minute after a slide tackle on Josip Ilicic, causing right back Kyle Walker to step in goal during crunch time. Pep Guardiola’s squad will battle against Shakhtar Donetsk, who are in second for the group, on November 26.

Tottenham, the runners-up in last year’s edition of the tournament, cruised through Crvena zvezda with a 4-0 victory at Rajko Mitic Stadium. The Spurs got on the board in the 34th minute thanks to a goal from Giovani Lo Celso. In the second half, Tottenham’s Son Heung-Min scored two goals in a span of four minutes in his first match since he caused a severe injury to Everton’s André Gomes. Substitute Christian Eriksen sealed the game for the team with a goal in the 85th minute as they stand in second of Group B, behind German giants – Bayern Munich. Mauricio Pochettino will lead his team in a match against Olympiakos on November 26 at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, hoping to improve from their 1-1 draw at Karaiskakis Stadium during Matchday 1.

The Premier League has continued to show a strong string of performances in the Champions League, with hopes that they can have a team in the league win the biggest club tournament in Europe.

Which English side will get furthest in this years competition?