Tag Archives: Zidedine Zidane

Martin Ødegaard Makes Temporary Switch to the Emirates

Real Madrid midfielder Martin Ødegaard has completed his loan move to Arsenal for the remainder of the season.

The Norwegian has been struggling for game time at the Bernabeu and is desperate to recapture his promising form that he showcased during a fruitful loan spell at Real Socieded last year.

The young playmaker started Los Blancos’ first two La Liga games of the season after being recalled early in the summer from his two year loan deal in San Sebastián, with the view that he was ready to make the step to become a regular under Zidane, his old Real Madrid B coach.

Yet, the attacking midfielder has featured only once as a starter in a league game since, a 1-1 draw against Villareal at the back end of November.

With Zidane still opting for a midfield three of Kroos, Casemiro and Modric and with the likes of Isco and Asensio providing cover, Ødegaard was not prepared to kick his heels on the bench and instead pushed for a move away to get the regular game time he craves.

The Athletic understands that the player’s preferred destination was a return to Sociedad, where Ødegaard shone last year, not least in helping La Real knock his parent club out of the Copa De Rey in a pulsating 4-3 victory at the Bernabeu last February. Madrid were unwilling to let him go to a direct rival, given Real Sociedad’s fine start to the campaign.

Arsenal emerged as another potential destination given their need to recruit competition in the number ten position for Emile Smith-Rowe. The Englishman has been in fine form since being entrusted with a starting birth against Chelsea on Boxing Day, recording three assists and scoring once in the past five games.

Yet, Smith-Rowe is just 20 and has struggled with injuries in the past and, given the condensed nature of the season with games coming thick and fast, the Gunners sought to find an eligible candidate to ease the burden on the academy graduate.

Ødegaard ticks a number of boxes having been one of the most creative players in Spain’s top flight last season. Only five players created more scoring chances than Ødegaard in La Liga last season, and the 22-year-old also ranked in the top 10 for successful dribbles.

The year before, when he was on loan at Vitesse in the Netherlands, he created more chances than any other player in the Dutch top flight, and finishing third in the assists chart behind Dusan Tadic and Hakim Ziyech.

A call from Arteta, detailing how he will fit in at Arsenal, is reported to have persuaded the player to opt to move to London, which is set to be announced later today after the Norwegian undergoes a medical this afternoon. Arteta is hoping to have him available for the Gunners game against Manchester United on Saturday night.

The deal represents a rather low risk transfer from Arsenal’s perspective, it is a simple six month loan deal, with no option to buy and the Gunners will cover his modest £38,000 salary and pay a poultry £2 million loan fee for the duration of the deal.

They will also be bringing a hugely exciting talent to English shores, six years after the Norwegian had spells training with Arsenal, Liverpool, Manchester City and Manchester United before opting to sign for Real Madrid.

One should therefore be reminded that it is not long ago since Ødegaard was viewed as one of the most highly sought after youngsters in Europe.

He burst onto the scene in his homeland in April 2014 when he made his debut for Strømsgodset, becoming the youngest player to feature in the Tipperligaen, Norway’s Premier division at 15 years and 118 days. He became the league’s youngest goalscorer just a month later when he found the net in a 4-1 win against Sarpsborg on 16th May.

By the end of the season Ødegaard had scored five goals in 23 league games, in addition to making seven assists, as his side finished fourth. He trained with Real Madrid the following January and they won the race for his signature, announcing his signing at the end of the month.

He initially was put into Real’s B team, Real Madrid Castilla, to help him adapt to his new surroundings, but he regularly trained with the first team, something which caused friction between the player and then boss Zidane.

He made his senior bow for Los Blancos aged just 16 years and 157 days, becoming the club’s youngest debutant. He has since featured just seven more times for the first team, opting to go out on loan, spending three years in Holland, two with Heerenveen and one with Vitesse after a year and a half with Real Madrid Castilla.

He initially struggled at Heereveen and the demands of senior football in a more competitive league. He was in and out of the team and didn’t score his first goal for the club until his 15th appearance, as their president admitted that they were struggling to find his best position.

The following campaign he established himself as a regular and began to show glimpses of what he was capable of. The 2018/19 season at Vitesse was when Ødegaard really stepped up to the plate and thrived in the Eredivise.

He often started on the right wing in a 4-4-2, and under the tutelage of Russian manager Leonid Slutsky, was given the license to be the side’s main attacking outlet. He was often seen dancing past opponents with his quick feet and acceleration before calmly finding the perfect pass or fashioning an opportunity on goal. He ended that season with 8 goals and 11 assists, a healthy return for a 20 year old.

Having proved a point in Holland, Ødegaard was rewarded with another loan spell, (originally agreed to be for two years) at fellow La Liga outfit Real Sociedad and he immediately hit the ground running.

Routinely deployed as an attacking midfielder in a 4-3-3 at San Sebastián, the Norwegian managed 90 minutes in 19 of La Real’s first 21 games last season, putting in a particularly impressive display as a second striker in a 2-0 win over Athletico Madrid.

His mazy runs from midfield, defence-splitting passes and his routinely energetic displays propelled Sociedad into the Champions League places before lockdown hit.

Both his and his club’s form tailed off once football returned, with Sociedad finishing sixth and qualifying for the Europa League. In the 10 games of the season he didn’t play 90 minutes once as he struggled with tendonitis, a problem which has also plagued him recently in Madrid. He ended the campaign with seven goals and nine assists and as one of the standout performers in the league.

Those stats convey just why Ødegaard is frustrated at his lack of opportunities at the Burnabeu and also why Arsenal fans are so excited at his projected arrival. There are some skeptical supporters wary of getting too ahead of themselves, having drawn parallels of Ødegaard’s move with that of Denis Suarez’s two years prior.

The Spaniard, liked Ødegaard arrived with a promising reputation from Real’s rivals Barcelona in January 2019 on a sixth month loan deal to get regular game time before returning to star for his parent club.

It didn’t pan out that way for the now Villareal midfielder, who played just six times over the course of the remainder of the campaign after a pelvic injury in just his second game with the Gunners left him struggling to regain full fitness during the rest of his disappointing spell in North London.

It remains to be seen whether Ødegaard is still affected by that injury, and having not played competitively in two months, patience should be granted upon his arrival as the Norwegian quickly tries to integrate himself to his new teammates and the new league.

Nonetheless, if he can replicate his early season form at Real Sociedad last campaign, he could be the man to really propel Arsenal up the table and deep into the Europa League and may represent a huge coup for the Gunners.

https://247-football.com/2021/01/24/mesut-ozil-completes-fenerbahce-move/

Sergio Regulión completes Spurs Transfer: Who is the Spanish Left Back?

Tottenham have announced the signing of Real Madrid’s Sergio Regulión.

The defender arrived in North London for €30 million (£27.5 million) on a five year deal, with Spurs winning the race to secure the signature of the highly rated Spaniard ahead of Premier League rivals Man United, who also held a strong interest in the left back.

The Red Devils were looking to strengthen their options at left back and saw Reguilón, who had a successful spell on loan at Sevilla last year, as the ideal candidate to compete with Luke Shaw for a starting berth.

The stumbling block for United was Real Madrid’s insistence on including a buy back clause in the deal, whilst Los Blancos also wanted a payment of €30 million up front, with United only willing to do a deal of €20 million plus add ons.

Their hesitance allowed Spurs to swoop in, with the Lilywhites accepting a buy back clause active for two years, believed to be in the region of €45 million depending on various incentives, according to the Guardian.

Regulión is an attack minded full back who joined Real Madrid’s La Fabrica academy at the age of eight and worked his way up through the various youth ranks.

He got his first taste of senior football in 2015 when he was loaned out to Segunda Division B outfit UD Logroñés for the entirety of the 2015-16 campaign. He featured sparingly, making just nine appearances before returning for a more successful loan spell the following season.

He played 30 games as a more advanced left winger and scored eight goals, establishing himself as a regular in the third division.

On his return to Madrid, he featured heavily in the Castilla side, signing a new contract in 2018 after catching the eye, before new boss Julen Lopetegui promoted him to the first team for pre season ahead of the 2018-19 season.

He made his debut in October 2018, starting in a 3-0 defeat to CSKA Moscow in the Champions League before making his league debut in a 2-0 win over Real Valladolid the following month.

He would go on to register a further 11 appearances for Los Blancos, as Marcelo’s form dipped, but the return of Zidane as manager slowed his progress.

Frenchman and fellow left back Ferland Mendy was brought in from Lyon to replace the ageing Marcelo, pushing Regulión down the pecking order given Mendy’s terrific form for Los Blancos.

A reunion with Lopetegui at Sevilla for the 2019-20 campaign allowed Regulión to get regular minutes at the highest level, and he certainly grasped that chance.

He enjoyed an impressive season, featuring in 31 games, scoring twice as Los Palanganas finished fourth in La Liga. He also played a key role in helping them to win the Europa League for the third time in the last five years.

Regulión is made very much in the mould of a modern full back, sound defensively but devastating driving forward. He created 40 chances in the 2019-20 season, the fourth best in Europe’s top five leagues for full backs under the age of 23.

This is an interesting stat considering this was the Spaniard’s first full campaign at the highest level.

He was named in the Europa League team of the season and won his first cap for Spain in the recent international break, starting in the Nations League victory over Ukraine.

He will certainly be an upgrade on Spurs’ current options at left back, Welshman Ben Davies who is solid yet unspectacular, particularly going forward and the engimatic Danny Rose, who has been told to train with the Under 23s after returning from a loan spell at Newcastle.

Real Madrid’s insistence on including a buy back clause highlight that they value Regulion’s clear potential, and don’t want to lose him forever.

They may well exercise the clause if he impresses in London, as he could be the ideal heir to replace Mendy in a few years, with the Frenchman already 25 and often struggling with niggling injuries.

The buy back clause could be a cause for concern for Tottenham, but in the short term (and Mourinho is well known for making signings for the here and now) it represents a good deal for Spurs as they look to transform an ageing squad, which has grown stale with a lack of signings in recent seasons.

Like Doherty on the right, Regulión will be tasked with being a creative outlet on the left, linking up with Son and putting in crosses for Kane to attack. He will also be asked to do his bit defensively, and working under a defensive minded coach like Mourinho would no doubt aid this part of his game.

He may need some time to adapt to the physicality and speed of the Premier League, but for a player with a good injury record and such great potential he should shine in England.

Liverpool have shown the significance of attacking, mobile full backs in the modern game and the combination of Doherty and Regulión should excite Tottenham fans as much as the pairing of Andy Robertson and Trent Alexander-Arnold on Merseyside.

What is the state of play in Spanish La Liga?

Following the successful return of the German Bundesliga on May 16, the next of the leading European leagues to restart following the COVID-19 pandemic is the Spanish La Liga.  So how was it left when play was suspended on March 12?

Current situation

Well to start with Zinedine Zidane’s Real Madrid had just suffered a surprise defeat at Real Betis to hand the initiative back to reigning champions Barcelona.

The Catalan side currently hold a two-point lead over their fierce rivals, who remain in second.  The last time the league leaders played was on March 8, when they secured a hard fought 1-0 win over fourth place Real Sociedad thanks to a Lionel Messi 81stminute penalty.

Real Sociedad, however, bounced back just a few days later to secure a 2-1 win away at relegation threatened side Eibar moving them back up to fourth.

Atletico Madrid meanwhile, had wasted a 2-1 advantage at home against fellow Champions League hopefuls, Sevilla as they were ultimately held to a 2-2 draw.   The club from Seville currently sit third but are only two points ahead of Diego Simone’s side which is sixth.

The league’s surprise package so far this campaign has been Getafe, Jose Bordalas’s underdogs are fifth and have not only enjoyed league success but had also just knocked out last seasons Champions League semi-finalists, Ajax, to progress in the Europa League.

At the other end of the table, Barcelona’s local rivals, Espanyol, had suffered a 1-0 defeat against Osasuna leaving them six points from safety. Leganes and Mallorca are the other teams that currently make up the bottom three; however, Celta Vigo, Eibar and Real Valladolid remain very much in danger.

Next fixtures…

The league is set to resume on Thursday June 11 with the Seville derby between Sevilla FC and Real Betis. On Saturday June 13, league leaders, Barcelona are due to travel to face strugglers Mallorca, while Real Madrid will be looking to get their faltering title challenge back on track when they meet Eibar on Sunday June 14.

The plan is for the Spanish sides to complete their 11 remaining fixtures in just over a month, which would mean finishing on July 19.

La Liga chief Javier Tebas also spoke of plans to give a tribute to those who have died from the pandemic.  Fans will be encouraged to create audio recordings of themselves applauding the victims, which will be played in the 20thminute of each match.

Tebas said:

“Fans make football so special, and as they cannot be in the stadiums, we have created this initiative so they can play a part in the return of the competition and show their support for the heroes of COVID-19.”

How to watch?

La Liga fixtures will be available to watch free on Sky and Premier Player online for free throughout June.