The Current 30 Best Strikers in the World – Ranked

Here at 90min, we love the gas.

We talk football, we throw opinions out there and we love to generate debate.

Some people agree with what’s said, some people hate what they hear and read, some people find it funny and some people go out of their minds with incandescent rage.

But that’s all part and parcel of being a football fan – we’re a community brought together by the love of this great game, and the special thing is that we all want to have our say. 

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Now we’ve sold the concept of talking football to you, let’s get another hot topic on the go shall we?

Having already dissected the 25 best goalkeepers, full-backs, central defenders and defensive midfielders in the world, we can’t wait any longer to get to the strikers. For this, we’re upping the ante to 30 – basically because there’s so many top dogs knocking around.

For clarity, the players included on this list play the majority of their games from a central striking role. Hence, no Messi or Griezmann, no Salah or Mane, and no Allan Saint-Maximin, before you throw any nearby toys out of the pram.

So strap in – I know I have – and feast your eyes on the current 30 best strikers in the world…


Honourable Mentions

We kick things off with a nod to some players who are still good, but not top 30 material right now. 

These include Edinson Cavani, Gonzalo Higuain and Zlatan Ibrahimovic from the exceptionally well known pile, through to Erin Zahavi (check out his goal record in China by the way), Arkadiusz Milik, Odsonne Eduoard and Iago Aspas – all of whom score goals and contribute good things on a pretty regular basis.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic

There’s also the likes of Memphis Depay, Donyell Malen and Tammy Abraham to consider, but there time hasn’t come just yet.


30. Alexandre Lacazette

Alexandre Lacazette

Lacazette’s goal return for Arsenal has actually been pretty ordinary of late, with his place in Mikel Arteta’s side far from assured.

But the Frenchman offers so much outside of goalscoring, dropping deep to link up play with midfield, as well as foraging down the channels to put pressure on opposition backlines. He also has a tremendous understanding with Pierre-Emerick Aubayemang, though it’s often the Gabon international’s goal tally that reaps the rewards.


29. Dusan Tadic

Dusan Tadic

Back in the summer of 2018, Tadic departed Premier League mid-table lovers Southampton to experience a new challenge with Ajax.

What few of us would have expected was Tadic’s remarkable transformation into one of the most prolific goalscorers in Europe. Granted, the Eredivisie standard perhaps leaves a little to be desired, but netting 38 goals in his debut season – in all competitions – was a bolt out of the blue.

No longer isolated out on the wing and out of possession, Tadic is showing what he can really do in a false nine position, showing pinpoint accuracy with his finishing to couple up with some intricate link-up play.


28. Carlos Vela

Carlos Vela

Another player whose career has reignited after moving onto pastures new is Mexico forward Vela.

Once a failed Arsenal academy graduate, he then spent five years at Real Sociedad confirming that he was actually talented before a return to the Americas beckoned.

There, a change of role has propelled Vela into MLS limelight and he’s now a prolific goalscorer. His wand of a left foot helped him score at a better than a goal per game during 2019, and he’s now regarded as one of the biggest stars across the Atlantic.


27. Gabriel Jesus

UEFA Champions League"Real Madrid v Manchester City FC"

Playing second fiddle is never an easy job, but that’s what Gabriel Jesus has done for much of his career at Manchester City.

The Brazilian is undoubtedly a talent, evidenced by the faith placed him at such a young age by Pep Guardiola. Has his best years ahead of him, which should allow him to break out of Sergio Aguero’s shadow at some point – as well as helping him become Brazil’s leading light for many tournaments to come.


26. Dries Mertens

Dries Mertens

If you’re not familiar with S.S.C. Napoli, may I please point you in the direction of the 2019 Diego Maradona documentary film.

Once you’ve sampled some of that, you’ll realise what it means to play for Gli Azzurri and what it means to become a legend of such a passionate, well-supported club.

One such legend is Mertens, who during the 2019/20 season became the club’s all-time record goalscorer, surpassing another supremely popular figure, Marek Hamsik. The Belgian hasn’t been overly prolific of late, but is still a wonderful all-round player.


25. Duvan Zapata

Duvan Zapata

Scoring goals was something of a pastime for Zapata, rather than a regular hobby before he joined Atalanta in 2018.

But since then, the Colombian has been transformed under the tutelage of Gian Piero Gasperini and is now what some would call ‘a goal machine’. 28 goals in his first full season at the club – aided by his electrifying pace and understanding of the Nerazzurri’s system – looks to be just the starting point of a wonderful few years ahead.


24. Gabigol

Gabriel Barbosa

One man born to score goals was Gabigol – look no further than his nickname if you don’t believe me. Also, look no further than his goalscoring record in South America, which makes for pretty sensational reading.

Admittedly, he wasn’t been able to reproduce his form on the European stage, but his spell at Flamengo has shown many around the world that he’s got that little bit of x-factor about him.


23. Moussa Dembele

FBL-FRA-CUP-LYON-PSG

Some really, really special players have kickstarted their careers with Scottish Premiership heavyweights Celtic, and Dembele looks to be no different.

We all saw how good Henrik Larsson was in the past, we’re all seeing how good Virgil van Dijk is right now, so if Dembele can be anywhere near as good as they are, he’s going to be a pretty special player in the future. 

A hive of Premier League interest is already swarming around a player who has scored well over 100 career goals in just over five seasons as a professional.


22. Wissam Ben Yedder

Wissam Ben Yedder

Breaking into France’s national team setup – particularly up front – is a pretty tricky thing to have ticked off the career accomplishments list, but that’s exactly what Ben Yedder did in 2018 after years of consistently scoring goals.

Standing just 5ft 7in tall, Ben Yedder’s main strengths lie in his ability to wriggle away from defenders and he loves taking people on before firing home. Has registered double digit goal seasons seven times in his career, flourishing in both La Liga and at home in Ligue 1.


21. Anthony Martial

Anthony Martial

?Manchester United are fast-tracking their way back to the promised land babies (note, this is wild speculation and pure conjecture) and all eyes are on Anth…..Bruno Fernandes.

In all seriousness, the Red Devils have been notably better since Fernandes arrived but you have to give some credit to Martial too. He’s operated both on the left wing and up front – not easy when you’re trying to find consistency – and continues to operate, on the whole, very well.

Though he’s yet to enter the prolific goalscorer category, he’s a hard grafter and looks to be taking his game in the right direction.


20. Raul Jimenez

Raul Jimenez

Speaking of going in the right direction, that brings us nicely on to Wolves – and Mexican striker Raul Jimenez, who has brought his game on leaps and bounds since an ill-fated spell with Atletico Madrid.

Now, he’s one of the most reliable forwards in Europe, with his workload – and the pressure that goes with it – unparalleled across the ‘top five’ leagues. All areas of his game are strong, particularly his work rate and ability in the air, but they’ll be some who say his finishing must improve.

And they’re right – he’s not as consistent in front of goal as he could be.


19. Roberto Firmino

Roberto Firmino

Liverpool, Liverpool, Liverpool – what a rollercoaster ride it’s been on Merseyside since Jurgen Klopp assumed the reins from Brendan Rodgers (remember he was there folks).

Initially there was some bad times, but my goodness me have there been some good ones – both domestically and in Europe. While the Reds’ team is equipped with superb players all over the shop, few have an effect on the side quite like Roberto Firmino.

The Brazilian is the glue that holds things together – no, he doesn’t score goals for fun like others, but he gets the best out of each and everyone of his teammates. An invaluable trait to have.


18. Paulo Dybala

FBL-ITA-SERIEA-JUVENTUS-INTER

Let’s rewind to a time when I was playing FIFA 13 career mode and Palermo was the team of choice.

Not only did I have Afriyie Acquah patrolling midfield – trust me, he was incredible – there were also two incredible talents getting better and better with each passing game – one was Josep Ilicic, and the other was Paulo Dybala.

Turns out, FIFA knew what they were doing – as the Argentine is now one of the most talked about footballers in the world, as well as being one of the most gifted. Courted throughout the majority of 2019, Dybala’s signature is one that everybody would want if given the chance – owing to his fast feet, creativity, dribbling skills and swashbuckling finishing ability.

He doesn’t score bucket loads but, boy, is he good.


17. Lautaro Martinez

Lautaro Martinez

When Barcelona are sniffing around a player’s coat tails aged just 22, you know that player is probably a bit special.

And that’s exactly what Martinez is – an exciting talent all set to blossom into one of the best strikers in the world. A lethal and powerful finisher with both feet, the Argentine is also tremendous in the air, where his exploits have helped revive Inter’s slowing Serie A pulse.

Great things are expected of a player wanted by some of the games very best – and richest – clubs.


16. Marcus Rashford

Marcus Rashford

When a fresh faced 18-year-old Rashford burst onto the scene with four goals in his first two Manchester United games, the Red Devils took a deep breath.

Was a new local talent ready to take on the mantle of the ageing Wayne Rooney, leading United back to the very top of English football? Well, not quite yet, but Rashford is certainly looking the part and hasn’t really looked back since that whirlwind first week.

Playing as either a left winger or central striker, he’s elevated his game year on year and is now a fearsome Premier League goal threat.


15. Mauro Icardi

Mauro Icardi

Few players in the world of football have captured the media’s attention like Mauro Icardi has. Though, unfortunately for him, it’s his wife – and agent – Wanda Nara who steals the limelight most of the time.

But despite kerfuffle and controversy that seems to follow Icardi around, there’s one side to his actual game that is very clean – his finishing. Clinical, deadly and unerringly accurate, the Argentine was born to score goals, evidenced by his 100+ strikes in the colours of Inter.


14. Josep Ilicic

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Remember that FIFA story I was telling you about? Time for part two!

No, don’t worry, I won’t really get into that – but what I will get into is Ilicic’s astonishing improvement over the past few years, especially since he joined Atalanta. 

With an absolute cannon of a left foot, a penchant for finding space and a goal record that most out-and-out strikers would kill for, Ilicic is hot property when deployed in the false nine role.


13. Romelu Lukaku

Romelu Lukaku

Back in February 2019, ?a piece was penned (by yours truly, shameless plug) about Romelu Lukaku still having a bright future at Manchester United.

While my sentiments of his impending improvement were right, what I didn’t know at the time is that the best thing for Lukaku to do was to get out of England – and the scrutiny and ridiculous over-analysis of his game – to find his confidence again.

At Inter, he’s just done that – and is pounding goals in for fun again in Serie A. Lukaku looks happy, fit and ready to conquer, with plenty of years at the top ahead of him yet.


12. Jamie Vardy

Jamie Vardy

The rise and rise and rise of Jamie Vardy – from non-league football to ?Premier League winner and golden boot contender – really is one of football’s feel good stories.

Furthermore, the fact that Vardy has achieved so much at Leicester, who are a good side but can hardly compare with big clubs financially, is testament to just how hard he has worked over the years.

Pace, a never-say-die attitude and a willingness to give 100% each and every time he steps on to the pitch are some of his best qualities; as his crisp finishing ability.


11. Luis Suarez

Luis Suarez

Pushing the top 10 ten boundary – but missing out by the length of an incisor – is Uruguayan gnasher Luis Suarez.

He may be entering the latter stages of his career, but Barcelona’s lead marksman still has one of the sharpest tool kits in the trade. At his peak, Suarez was among the very best in the world, and perhaps was even the best striker for a time.

He’s still very good now, scoring goals at a decent lick in Catalonia – it’s just a shame he’s been laid low by injury problems.


10. Timo Werner

UEFA Champions League"Red Bull Leipzig v Tottenham Hotspur FC"

Paul Pogba, Gareth Bale and Timo Werner – what do they all have in common? Yep, they’re the three most talked about transfer targets in recent memory.

In Werner’s case, it’s still very much a case of is he really worth it? Playing up front for RB Leipzig, the German’s not really had the chance to show that he can deliver – regularly at least – at the absolute highest level. But in the glimpses we have seen, he’s shown he’s more than up to the task, scoring goals and leading the line with aplomb.

Die Roten Bullen are a genuine threat in Germany because of how good Werner is, and it may not be too long before he’s adorning Liverpool red.


9. Harry Kane

Harry Kane

There have been few England strikers – ever I’d imagine – who made as much of a splash as Harry Kane did when he broke onto the scene.

It was all a bit weird to be honest, because before he went goal crazy, Kane had endured some pretty ordinary loan spells away from Tottenham. Now, though, he’s one of the most clinical finishers around, with two feet capable of firing home from all angles.

Not only that, Kane is a penalty specialist and also loves a long shot or ten. The cherry on the top of his icing is his link up play – which club and international supporters of him will tell you is really rather good.


8. Karim Benzema

FBL-ESP-LIGA-BETIS-REAL MADRID

Underappreciated, undervalued and the equivalent of a footballing Formula 1 car – three very appropriate ways that you could describe Benzema.

That last reference, of course, follows his spat with international teammate Olivier Giroud, but that’s a story for another time. Instead, we’re here to talk about his Real Madrid greatness and the fact that he’s scored – and continues to score – bucket loads of goals for the club.

There’s very few flaws to report in the Frenchman’s game, so long as you don’t scour Twitter for a video showing some absolutely abysmal misses during his career to date.


7. Erling Braut Haaland

Erling Haaland

Ronaldo, Lionel Messi, Samassi Abou* – three generational talents who, in their respective times, took each and every collective breath away.

Now, that feeling is likely to happen again as we watch on with admiration at the emerging talents of Haaland. A youngster who can, quite literally, do it all, it’s frightening to think that the Norwegian has a good 15 years of kicking ass ahead of him.

Sit up and take notice, this boy is the future.

*worth Googling


6. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang

Haaland may be the future of the game, but he’s also Borussia Dortmund’s future – unlike Aubameyang, who left the German giants in his rear view mirror back in 2018.

When he did so, he set ?Arsenal back a cool £56m – a fee that he’s, probably, repaid already. Scoring goals is what Aubameyang does and terrorising defenders with his blistering pace is what he’ll continue to do for years to come.

With a terrific goal record safely tucked under his belt, there’s no disputing that he’s one of the very best – but his toes will be twitching to show that on the biggest stages going.


5. Sergio Aguero

Sergio Aguero

Manchester City’s rise to the top of the English game has relied on heavy investment, we all know that.

But to win things, consistently, you need to buy exceptional players who are willing to stick around and lay the ground work for something special in the future. You also need players who will put their hand up in the big moments, shouldering the burden of expectation and leading their team to victory.

For City, Aguero has done that for almost a decade – and is rightly regarded as the club’s best ever up top. Not only that, he’s one of Europe’s – and the world’s – finest, still scoring goals for fun on a regular basis.


4. Ciro Immobile

Ciro Immobile

When Immobile’s venture to the Bundesliga in 2014 went south pretty rapidly, you would have been forgiven for thinking that he wouldn’t make it at the top level.

After all, he’d only had one exceptional season of scoring at Torino before Borussia Dortmund took a punt on him.

What we now know is that Immobile is one of the most natural finishers of the modern era, capable of carrying a side on his back. Two great feet, a superb leap in the air and the versatility to play anywhere across the front three makes him a real handful for any defence in the world.


3. Cristiano Ronaldo

Christiano Ronaldo

For almost a decade and a half, we’ve all wagged our chins at our respective office desks and asked which of Messi or ?Ronaldo is really the greatest of all time?

That question will never be answered, but what can be answered is that the Portuguese phenom – sorry The Undertaker – is the third best front man going right now.

Yes, Ronaldo is still scoring a pile load of goals and yes, he contributes most for current club Juventus – but sometimes you have to recognise greatness, move with the times and hand the mantle over to youth.


2. Kylian Mbappé

FBL-FRA-CUP-LYON-PSG

And the youth in this case is Kylian Mbappé, whom we all expect to dominate the footballing landscape for many, many years to come.

He may barely be out of nappies, but Mbappé is already at the very top of the game, striking fear into anybody who comes up against him.

Good points: Two footed, powerful shot, direct runner, unbelievably quick, agile, well balanced, intelligent, creative, unselfishness, willing to learn, goal machine.

Bad points: N/A.

Say no more.


?1. Robert Lewandowski

Robert Lewandowski

So how on earth is Mbappé not the best striker in the world? Well, that would be because of the existence of Robert Lewandowski.

A complete forward, who epitomises everything and anything you’d want from a striker in your side, the Pole is insanely consistent. He bags goals, goals and more goals, goes on crushing scoring rampages and also acts as the perfect foil to bring his teammates into play.

Furthermore, his abilities have seen Bayern become serial winners during his tenure in Munich – and the unnerving thing is that he still has many years left at the top.


For more from Toby Cudworth, follow him on Twitter!

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Belgium Cancels Rest of 2019/20 League Season – What it Could Mean for Rest of Europe

?Belgium’s Jupiler Pro League has taken the decision to cancel the remainder of the 2019/20 season as a result of coronavirus, making it the first top-flight European league to do so.

Most other domestic leagues across the continent still remain committed to trying to finish the campaign in some way, whether it just be heavily delayed or with all remaining games behind closed doors, or possibly both.

UEFA is thought to be targeting August for things to be wrapped up, with suggestions the governing body is considering plans to hold ‘final four’ mini-tournaments that month in Istanbul and Gdansk to decide the Champions League and Europa League respectively.

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The Pro League’s board of directors has decided, however, that it is not desirable to continue the 2019/20 season after 30 June, having been advised that games in fan-filled stadiums cannot take place before, that players could still be at risk and that even behind closed doors there would be unnecessary additional strain on law enforcement and health services.

But rather than void the season and expunge results, the standings as they are now will be the final ones. That means Club Brugge will be crowned champions, with Gent second and therefore claiming Belgium’s other Champions League qualifying berth.

The league has set up a working group to look into sporting complaints or financial implications.

One of the reasons the cancellation and position freeze has been possible in Belgium is that the league includes round-robin playoffs to determine the champions after a ‘regular season’. And with 29 of the 30 regular season games complete, it is effectively just scrapping the playoffs.

Brugge already held a 15-point lead at the top of the standings, which would have equated to a seven-point head start in the ten-game playoffs, leaving little room for complaints.

SOCCER JPL D23 KV KORTRIJK VS CLUB BRUGGE

To cancel or not to cancel is the question that is being asked of the major European leagues. Could others follow Belgium’s example, which would have the benefit of minimal disruption on next season and a clean slate for 2020/21? Or is there too much uncertainty to declare it final?

For starters, none of the major European leagues are anything like as close to a justifiable end point like Belgium, just one game away from the end of the regular season.


Premier League

Mohamed Salah

In the Premier League, clubs have nine or 10 games left to play. Liverpool are 25 points clear at the top and few might argue if the season was called at this point, but can even such a large gap be enough when it was still mathematically short? Belgium can argue that once it was decided the playoffs were cancelled, Brugge’s 15-point lead was unassailable with only one game left.

Sides having played different numbers of games causes problems for an immediate halt as well. In the hunt for European places, the likes of Arsenal and Sheffield United are a game short of those around them. Had either played that game and won it, it could make a serious difference to their league placing and, in Sheffield United’s case, even be worth Champions League football.

At the bottom it is even tighter, with three teams in and out of the relegation zone level on points and separated by goal difference. In Belgium’s case, relegation is still to be decided.

If the season ends now:

Champions: Liverpool

*Champions League: Liverpool, Leicester, Chelsea, Manchester United

Europa League: Wolves, Sheffield United, Tottenham

Relegated: Norwich, Aston Villa, Bournemouth

Cause for complaint: Sheffield United, Arsenal, Bournemouth, Aston Villa

*Manchester City excluded due to UEFA ban


La Liga

Lionel Messi,Toni Kroos

In La Liga, at least every team has played the same number of games – 27. But, again, with as many as 11 left un-played, the implications of cancelling the season are not favourable, especially when it comes to the two-point title race between Barcelona and Real Madrid.

Third place to sixth – which will determine Champions League qualification – are separated by two points.

If the season ends now:

Champions: Barcelona

Champions League: Barcelona, Real Madrid, Sevilla, Real Sociedad

Europa League: Getafe, Atlético Madrid

Relegated: Espanyol, Leganés, Mallora

Cause for complaint: Real Madrid, Getafe, Atlético Madrid, Mallorca


Serie A

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Serie A has more of the season left to play, with 12 or 13 games remaining for clubs. The title race between Juventus and Lazio has just one point in it. At least the sides in contention for the rest of the Champions League and Europa League places are a little more spaced out, which would make finalising the current standings more justifiable from their perspective.

The relegation battle in Italy is another very tight one though, with Genoa and Lecce level on points, but one in the drop zone and one out.

If the season ends now:

Champions: Juventus

Champions League: Juventus, Lazio, Inter, Atalanta

Europa League: Roma, Napoli

Relegated: Brescia, SPAL, Lecce

Cause for complaint: Lazio, Lecce


Bundesliga

Achraf Hakimi,Robert Lewandowski

The Bundesliga has, for the most part, nine rounds of games left. On the plus side, those two who have a game in hand wouldn’t be unduly disadvantaged. Eintracht Frankfurt could rise one place in the bottom half, for example, by winning the game they haven’t played, while Werder Bremen wouldn’t be able to escape the automatic relegation zone with only one more.

At the top, Bayern Munich have a four-point lead over Borussia Dortmund. Bayer Leverkusen are two points shy – and therefore potentially within one win – of a Champions League place.

If the season ends now:

Champions: Bayern Munich

Champions League: Bayern Munich, Borussia Dortmund, RB Leipzig, Borussia Monchengladbach

Europa League: Bayer Leverkusen, Schalke

Relegated: Paderborn, Werder Bremen

Cause for complaint: Bayer Leverkusen, Wolfsburg, Freiburg, Hoffenheim


Ligue 1

Kylian Mbappe

Ligue 1 is a similar story, with 10 games left and Lille one point off a Champions League place. No critical places are currently decided by tie-breaker criteria, with the relegation battle at least a little spaced out and Paris Saint-Germain 12 points clear at the top.

If the season ends now:

Champions: Paris Saint-Germain

Champions League: Paris Saint-Germain, Marseille, Rennes

Europa League: Lille

Relegated: Toulouse, Amiens, Nimes

Cause for complaint: Lille


For more from Jamie Spencer, follow him on Twitter and Facebook!

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Jack Gallagher’s Draft XI: Who Knew Picking Xavi Would Be Such a Bad Idea?

Last week we at 90min conducted our very own ‘Greatest Players of All Time’ draft. For Scott Saunders, Ben Haines, Jude Summerfield, Hunter Godson, Chris Deeley and Toby Cudworth, this proved to be quite a successful venture. 

They all had plans, and they all executed them pretty well. 

Scott got his Twitter team, Ben built from the back, Deeley got Maradona (plain sailing thereafter), Jude got his Brazilians, Toby got his Dutch, and Hunter got his favourite footballer in the world Cristiano Ronaldo.

I, on the other hand…well I didn’t do so well. 

Here’s the ‘team’ I ‘built’.


Goalkeeper and Defenders

Dino Zoff

Dino Zoff (GK): And it starts off pretty well actually, with one of the best goalkeepers of all time. Chosen in the 11th round – as all goalkeepers should have been – Zoff fits the bill as a ‘winner who won a lot of things and was also really good’, so on the plane he goes. 

Dani Alves (RB): This pick was a toss up: Dani Alves or Carlos Alberto. 

Overall, Carlos Alberto was the better player. He scored quite possibly the greatest goal of all time and was the leader of quite possibly the best football team of all time. 

But in the end I went with Dani Alves for one very simple reason: the goons on Twitter voting for who they think built the best team don’t have a clue who Carlos Alberto is.

Alessandro Nesta (CB): Another toss up, this time between Alessandro Nesta and Fabio Cannavaro. 

This one wasn’t decided based on what would Twitter would think however, it was decided based on what I think. And in my opinion, Nesta was slightly better than Cannavaro at his peak, so the AC Milan and Lazio legend got the nod. 

WORLD CUP-1974-BECKENBAUER

Franz Beckenbauer (CB): My first pick, and the third pick overall, and bah gawd what a pick it was. Franz Beckenbauer is the ultimate ‘captain, leader, legend’, and was the perfect man to build a GOAT XI around. 

Paul Breitner (LB): This back four is pretty great, isn’t it? Dani Alves, Alessandro Nesta, Franz Beckenbauer and the second best left-back of all time: Paul Breitner.

Well, you’ll be pleased to know that it’s all downhill from here. 


Midfielders

FILES-FBL-GER-BUNDESLIGA-BAYERN MUNICH-FRANKFURT

Arjen Robben (RM): Picture this: Dani Alves bombing down the right and Arjen Robben cutting in on that divine left foot of his. 

It would be magic. It really would. 

Michel Platini (CM): Ok, not the most popular of picks considering that, well, he’s a bit of crook, but football-wise this was a good pickup. 

He won three Ballons d’Or in a row, was the best goalscoring midfielder of all time (it’s not even close), and he also won basically every trophy that has ever been made. See – good pick. 

Xavi Hernandez

Xavi Hernandez (CM): Bad pick.

Really bad pick.

The worst pick of the draft by quite a distance. 

And that’s not because Xavi was a bad player – far from it, he was amazing. It’s because this pick basically broke this team from a tactical perspective. 

To get away with using Platini in midfield, I needed a ball-winner to sit beside and do all the dirty work while the three-time Ballon d’Or winner would go up and score 30 goals a game. 

Instead I picked Xavi. Who can’t really tackle…at all…disaster. 

Hristo Stoichkov (LM): I’d lost my head by this point in the draft, and still reeling from the Xavi pick I ended up selecting Stoichkov while players like Roberto Baggio, Thierry Henry and Ronald Koeman were on the board. Disaster. 


Strikers

UEFA European Championship 1988 - VI Archive

Marco van Basten (ST): Miraculously, Marco van Basten was available for selection in the 10th round of the draft, so I nabbed him. 

And while picking literally anything other than a forward would’ve been a good idea, and picking literally anything other than a forward might’ve sorted out my midfield conundrum, it’s Van Basten. I had to pick him. He was too good to turn down. 

Gerd Muller (ST): We end the team on a high, with the best number nine of all time: Gerd Muller. And I can take some solace in the fact that, while my midfield would be overrun by every other draft team, Muller will probably find a way to score a hat-trick regardless. 


Let’

Arsenal 2-1 Barcelona: The Gunners’ Classic UCL Comeback vs Guardiola’s Glorious Barça Side

In the immediate aftermath of the 2011 Champions League round of 16 draw, you might have forgiven the pained grimaces found upon Arsenal fans’ faces. Pep Guardiola’s Barcelona, who were undisputedly the world’s greatest footballing side of the time, were coming to town. 

Could Arsène Wenger roll back the years and inspire his youthful side to produce one of the memorable European nights in the club’s history? Many (understandably, it must be said) were unable to imagine achieving such a feat. And yet…

Everyone associated with Arsenal could do nothing but hope their prayers might somehow be answered. Perhaps their opponents would have an uncharacteristically disappointing day at the office? Or better still, what if Wenger’s side found a way, any way to provide their supporters with a magical night in north London?

Well, as we all know, the Gunners’ prayers were answered and then some as they staged a scintillating late comeback to win the first leg 2-1. While they would controversially exit the tournament in the second leg, this was arguably the greatest night the Emirates has ever witnessed.


Arsenal's Russian midfielder Andrey Arsh

Having trailed 1-0 for the majority of the 90 minutes, the Gunners rode the Barça storm, grew into the game, and were rewarded as Robin van Persie struck an equaliser in the 78th minute.

And then, five minutes later, substitute Andrey Arshavin sent ?Arsenal fans into a frenzy, and the Emirates into sheer and utter ecstasy after he netted the dramatic winner. The result on the night, the performance, and the dramatic manner in which the contest unfolded marks this game as one of the greatest moments in Arsenal’s recent history. 

It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say this match continues to send shivers down the spines of many an Arsenal fan. We promise we don’t excessively hold onto moments of our club’s past, though…


Arsenal

Key Talking Point

Some would say Arsenal got a tad lucky to come away with a 2-1 victory. And maybe it was a slightly fortunate affair. But, at the end of the day, the Gunners stuck to their pure passing principles, and ultimately outdid Barça at their own game. 

There’s no denying the incomparable quality that this ?Barcelona side were blessed with at the time. Xavi, Iniesta and Busquets were, as a central midfield triumvirate, on their own divine level. Chuck Dani Alves into the mix, and a certain Argentinian up front – you’ve got yourself quite a technically gifted team.

Cesc Fabregas

But, Wenger saw his side stick to what they did best, and managed to match the majestic midfield of their opposition with an outstanding midfield performance of their own. And, with Barça rocking, Arsenal reaped the rewards of their relentlessness to produce a truly remarkable result. 


Arsenal Player Ratings

Starting XI: Szczesny (8); Eboue (7), Djourou (7), Koscielny (8), Clichy (7); Song (7), Wilshere (9*); Walcott (7), Fabregas (8), Nasri (7); van Persie (7)

Substitutes: Arshavin (8), Bendtner (7)


Jack Wilshere

He was only 19-years-old at the time, but ?Jack Wilshere produced the performance of a lifetime that was not only beyond his years, but more than a match for Barça’s excellent midfield trio.

The young Englishman competed for anything and everything. He won his duels, he moved the ball through the lines expertly, and quite honestly couldn’t be contained by the likes of Xavi and Iniesta. 

Arsenal's midfielder Jack Wilshere (R) v

Put simply, this was one of the great individual performances of any Arsenal player down the years. Supremely confident and incomparably complete, Wilshere well and truly set the Emirates alight that night. If you haven’t watched his individual highlights, get to it as soon as is humanly possible. 


Barcelona

Key Talking Point

Now, we must be careful not to take anything away from Arsenal’s excellent result. They deserved it for the dogged determination and resilience they showed prior to putting Barça to the sword in spectacular fashion.

But, it is true that Catalan giants could have been out of sight had their forwards been a fraction more clinical in the final third. For all the issues he caused Arsenal on the night, ?Lionel Messi was guilty of wasting several golden opportunities to put the tie out of the Gunners’ reach. 

Lionel Messi

Wenger’s troops survived some real heart-in-mouth moments as Messi poked wide here, and scored an offside-goal there, and Pep Guardiola’s side were ultimately punished for their wastefulness in front of goal. 


Barcelona Player Ratings

Starting XI: Valdes (6); Alves (7), Pique (6), Abidal (6), Maxwell (5); Busquets (5), Xavi (7), Iniesta (6); Villa (7), Messi (7*), Pedro (6)

Substitutes: Keita (5), Adriano (N/A)


Lionel Messi

On another day, Messi may have scored two or three. But thankfully for the Arsenal, the diminutive Argentine magician left his shooting boots in Barcelona for this one.

But, such is the quality of his overall game, Messi remained a real thorn in Arsenal’s side, and each and every threat carried by Barça sprung from a mesmeric Messi run, a wonderful pass, or a dazzling dribble. 

David Villa,Lionel Messi

It was his incisive, defence-splitting through-ball that set David Villa on his way for the opening goal, and even if he ought to have scored at least once, the threat he carried with the ball at his feet even if he didn’t find the back of the net was a joy to witness. 


What Aged the Best

Lionel Messi’s Hair

Right, let’s not be overly harsh on the Argentine. He was only 24 at the time (yeah, let that sink in for a second!) so he was within his rights to have a slightly dodgy trim at the time. Thankfully the G.O.A.T has sorted it out now, because the mop on top of his head wasn’t a great look. 

Lionel Messi

Maybe that’s why he lacked his clinical edge in front of goal. Actually maybe not – he had the same haircut in the second leg, and scored twice. Probably wasn’t the hair then. 


What Aged the Worst

Jack Wilshere’s Potential

Take nothing away from Wilshere for what he managed that night. He showed the world was at his feet given he was capable of competing with the world’s best players on Europe’s biggest stage. It wasn’t just Arsenal fans getting giddy with excitement – England had themselves their own midfield maestro who, at 19-years-old, had given the likes of Xavi and Iniesta a real run-around.

Jack Wilshere

Unfortunately, relentless injuries and fitness issues prevented him from building on such a brilliant individual performances. We never quite got to see Wilshere fulfil his potential, and what might have become on one of Arsenal and England’s great hopes. 


Players You Completely Forgot Existed

Johan Djourou

Barcelona's Argentinian forward Lionel M

We forgive you if you’d forgotten that Djourou started in the centre of Arsenal’s defence on the night. The often erratic Swiss international put in an admirable defensive performance as he helped keep Messi and co at bay. It was one of the high points of his 140-appearance Arsenal career before he packed his bags for good in 2014. 

Adriano

Arsenal's French defender Bacary Sagna (

Thought we might as well chuck in a Barça player too, and the case of Adriano is quite a funny one. It’s not his fault his name was synonymous with one of Brazil’s greats – you’d anticipate a Brazilian named Adriano to be quite the player. Not that he was that bad – he fulfilled his squad role admirably, and good on him for cutting it at the Nou Camp for six seasons. He’s just an easy one to forget, that’s all.


What Happened Next

?Unfortunately for Arsenal, the return leg at Camp Nou brought their hopes of quarter-final progression crashing down. Barça ended up 3-1 winners, but the Gunners were at the receiving end of a disastrous refereeing decision that essentially killed the game at a crucial moment in the tie. 

Robin van Persie had just struck the equaliser on the night to take the second leg to 1-1 – Arsenal had an invaluable away goal, and with half an hour to go, it became a real possibility that the ?Premier League side might complete a sensational upset.

Robin van Persie,Massimo Busacca

Well, after Van Persie was shown a ?second yellow card for continuing to play after failing to hear the referee’s whistle, the tie swung Barça’s way, and they put Arsenal’s ten men to the sword. Wenger and his aggrieved side exited Europe, and Barça went on to win the 2011 ?Champions League. 

Unjust, unfair, but at least we had a night to remember. It’s just a shame its legacy was somewhat tarnished by the ridiculous refereeing of the second leg. Oh well.


Let’

Leicester City ‘Pushing Hard’ for Unlikely Philippe Coutinho Deal

When Philippe Coutinho left Liverpool for Barcelona in 2018, the Premier League waved goodbye to one of its most exciting and gifted stars. 

Two years later, and the English top flight may be preparing to welcome back the Brazilian with open arms. Maybe.

The 27-year-old has failed to live up to the expectations that surrounded his move to Camp Nou, and his initial impact was so underwhelming that the Catalan giants decided to ship him out to Bayern Munich for the 2019/20 campaign. 

Philippe Coutinho

?The failed dream move has clearly affected Coutinho, and his form has continued to suffer in the Bundesliga, to the point that the German champions are seemingly ready to ignore their option to purchase him permanently at the end of the season.

?Should they decide to send him back to Spain, the attacking midfielder will be up for grabs once again in the summer. But despite his disappointing two years, Barça will not be short of potential suitors who fancy their chances at breathing life into Coutinho’s flatlining career. 

90min confirmed on Tuesday that ?Liverpool had no interest in bringing Coutinho back to Merseyside, citing his age as one of the main sticking points in a possible deal. However, according to ?SPORT, one of the frontrunners for his signature is none other than Leicester City! 

Philippe Coutinho,Brendan Rodgers

The Catalan outlet revealed that the Foxes are ‘pushing hard’ to engineer a move for the Brazil star, and they ‘have the budget’ to make this dream a reality. And in Brendan Rodgers, ?Leicester hold an ace up their sleeve…supposedly. 

Rodgers has past experience working with Coutinho, from their time together at Anfield, and – they say – the Northern Irishman is confident that the ?Barcelona man is the right fit for his Leicester side. 

The Foxes have assembled a young and attacking team, which has cemented itself in the top three in the Premier League this season. 

It is noted that Rodgers is aware of interest in star midfielder James Maddison, and the 47-year-old has supposedly identified Coutinho as the perfect man to replace the young Englishman in the event that he leaves.

James Maddison

Leicester’s plan of attack – at least, according to the report – would involve a loan deal with an option to buy, with the initial fees amassing to €30m, when the player’s wages are taken into consideration.

SPORT’s reporting does contrast somewhat ?with an article from the Mirror earlier in the week which insisted that while Rodgers is an admirer of Coutinho, he accepts that the Foxes don’t have the financial muscle for the deal.

For perspective, Jamie Vardy is one of Leicester’s top earners on a reported £120k a week, while Coutinho’s contract at Barça has him on over £200k a week.

Let’

On This Day in Football History – April 1: Spurs Finally Win at Stamford Bridge, Figo’s Debut & More

?1 April is the worst day of the year for some people. April Fools.

The whole April Fool’s Day thing hasn’t stopped the wonderful world of football producing some absolutely classic moments on this day though.

Abou Diaby,Stiliyan Petrov *** Local Caption *** Abou Diaby,Stiliyan Petrov

Over the years, the first day of the fourth month has thrown up some memorable moments, like Wycombe Wanderers and ?Hull City drawing 0-0 in 1995 and Abou Diaby scoring his first ?Arsenal goal in 2006.

Something suggests we need to go a tad bigger and better here.


1976 – A Champions League Legend is Born

AC MIlan's forward Clarence Seedorf of N

The path to the player who’s won the ?Champions League at more clubs than anyone else leads to only one man ­- Clarence Seedorf – born on this day in 1976.

Seedorf’s senior career spanned a ludicrous 22 years, in which time he won four Champions League trophies. But no man has ever won the competition at as many clubs as his three; he took the trophy home as a player with Ajax, ?Real Madrid and finally (twice with) ?AC Milan.

Only seven players have ever played more times than his 125 in the competition. A big-game player.


1990 – Luís Figo Makes League Debut

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With Sporting CP by now a little way behind Benfica and eventual champions Porto in the Portuguese league season, short-lived manager Raul Águas put his faith in a young and exciting winger named Luís Figo on this day in 1990.

Sporting would win the match, hold on to Figo until 1995, and eventually sell him. Legalities meant he couldn’t sign for his intended destination of ?Manchester City, so he had to make do at ?Barcelona instead.

Luis Figo

Figo would enjoy a trophy-laden career with the Catalans, before controversially leaving for Real Madrid and then finally ?Inter. He picked up silverware, and a lot of it, wherever he went.

By the time he had retired, his career had seen him transition from a wide man with bags of potential into a world-class attacking midfielder.


1998 – First Champions League Semi-Final Hat-Trick

Alessandro Del Piero celebrates scoring a goal

In a one-sided first leg tie against Monaco, Alessandro Del Piero scored the first semi-final hat-trick of the Champions League era.

Two penalties and then a delightful curled free kick from the Italian helped ?Juventus claim an unassailable 4-1 win. The Old Lady would lose 3-2 in the second leg, but still progressed to the final on aggregate.

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A single Predrag Mijatovi? strike denied Juve victory, as Real Madrid took the trophy home.

Only four players have gone on to notch trebles in Champions League semis since ­— Ivica Oli?, Robert Lewandowski, ?Cristiano Ronaldo and… Lucas Moura.


2000 – Manchester United Whack West Ham

Andy Cole and Steve Potts

With ?Manchester United already pretty certain of retaining the ?Premier League title, they faced ?West Ham United on this day in 2000.

Paul Scholes netted his first career hat-trick as the Red Devils hammered the Hammers 7-1.

Costa Rican legend Paulo Wanchope had put the mid-table side ahead at Old Trafford, but a flurry of unanswered goals helped United romp to victory on an easy day in the Premier League.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer

David Beckham crashed a mesmerising free kick in off the crossbar for the sixth, before current United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjær made it seventh heaven for United.

They won the league by 18 points.


2006 – Reading Break the Record?

Graeme Murty

On this day, the very day Diaby broke his duck in north London, ?Reading FC scored a fabulous five second-half goals, condemning ?Derby County to a painful defeat and sealing promotion from the ?Championship to the Premier League.

The Madejski Stadium would witness the biggest pitch invasion it has ever seen, as fans celebrated a classic day in the club’s history.

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The Royals would go on to win more points in a single Football League season than anyone ever had before or has since — 106.

Thinking about the struggles Reading have these days, that really is a proper throwback.

Shane Long scored twice. Derby were the April Fools.


2018 ­– Tottenham Finally Win at Stamford Bridge

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For the first time in the Premier League era, ?Spurs beat ?Chelsea in an away game. ?Álvaro Morata headed home the opener for the Blues following a mistake by Hugo Lloris. But Spurs were back level on half-time with a thunderous, deceiving shot from range by ?Christian Eriksen.

Two smartly taken ?Dele Alli finishes in the second half would earn the visitors a rare win against Chelsea, and spell more trouble in the league for Antonio Conte’s side.

Chelsea finished fifth and Conte was replaced by Maurizio Sarri, while Tottenham edged past ?Liverpool into third, claiming a Champions League place with it.

Antonio Conte

And what would Tottenham do with that Champions League qualification? They’d knock out Inter, ?Borussia Dortmund, Manchester City and Ajax on their way to the final.


2002 – Bonus Throwback

2002, Rangers tricked their fans when they announced the completely and utterly fake signing of ‘Yardis Alpolfo’. He didn’t end up being a teenage sensation from Turkey.

He ended up being an anagram of ‘April Fool’s’.

Fair play, that’s class.


Let’

Brendan Rodgers Keen to Reunite With Philippe Coutinho – But Recognises Leicester Deal Is Unlikely

Leicester City manager Brendan Rodgers is keen to work with Barcelona flop Philippe Coutinho again, but recognises that a deal is unlikely to materialise.

Coutinho enjoyed a successful spell at Liverpool alongside the Northern Irishman, pushing the Reds to the brink of a maiden Premier League title during the 2013/14 campaign, only for a late slip up against Crystal Palace to hand Manchester City the title.

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Rodgers has gone on to enjoy a successful spell at Celtic after leaving ?Liverpool, and now finds himself in charge of high-flying Leicester. The Foxes are currently on course to qualify for next season’s Champions League, but their progress has been ground to a halt as football takes an enforced break because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Coutinho, meanwhile, has endured a nightmare spell in Spain after joining Barcelona in a gargantuan £105m deal, rising to £142m in potential add-ons. He’s currently trying to resurrect his ailing career at Bundesliga giants Bayern Munich, but his loan move is unlikely to be made permanent.

Instead, the Mirror claims that Rodgers would like to reunite with Coutinho at King Power Stadium after a potential return to Anfield was ruled out. The report, however, does go on to acknowledge that a deal is unlikely to be done, as Leicester simply don’t have the financial firepower to match Barcelona’s expected demands.

A loan deal for Coutinho is the only possible avenue that Leicester could turn down, and his signing would undoubtedly represent the biggest coup in the club’s history.

However, there is expected to be plenty of competition for his services. Four of the so called Premier League ‘big six’ are thought to be keen, as Manchester United, Chelsea, Tottenham and Arsenal have all shown interest.

There’s also the possibility of Bayern extending his loan, but it’s unlikely that the Bavarian giants will do so, nor will they activate the €120m option in the two club’s current agreement.

Philippe Coutinho

Die Roten’s unwillingness to sign Coutinho on a permanent basis owes much to his recent performances, which are thought to have underwhelmed the club’s hierarchy. Indeed, his start in Munich was relatively promising, but his inability to stamp his authority on proceedings more consistently has raised cause for concern.

One thing that does appear certain is that Barcelona want rid on a permanent basis. As far back as January, local reports in Catalunya have said that a swift permanent exit is the club’s preferred option, citing the need to raise funds for a striker. Lautaro Martinez of Inter is the name on everybody’s lips.

As for Leicester, they may well be sweating over the future of their own playmaking star, James Maddison. He’s been linked with ?Manchester United for a number of months, so keeping him this summer – rather than coercing Coutinho to the east Midlands – may end up being Rodgers’ number one priority. 

Let’

6 Football Documentaries We Really Want to See on Disney+ in the UK

?We all loved that Sunderland documentary on Netflix, didn’t we? And that Spurs one on Amazon that’s coming out at the end of this season; can’t wait for that. 

But now Disney have launched their streaming platform (Disney+) in the UK (?Sign up for a 7-day free trial here), and there’s a dearth of football content. There’s about seven million The Simpsons episodes (and eight seasons of good ones) and all the old X-Men cartoons, but…where’s our football stuff? 

We’re meant to be paying £5.99 without any of THIS?!


Narcos: Ronaldinho

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It’s obvious, isn’t it? We don’t need actual football back, we need a docu-series on Ronaldinho’s time in a Paraguayan prison. We’ve already had 1) the fact that ?he’s in a Paraguayan prison, 2) the ?five-a-side tournament that he won for a suckling pig, 3) ?his birthday BBQ, presumably ft. Oinkers. 

That’s all in the space of a couple of weeks, he could be in there for ?months. And these are just the stories we’re actually hearing about!? Picture: Ronaldinho charming some intimidating thugs by doing keepy-ups with a milk carton. Ronaldinho foiling the nasty wardens with wit and charm. RONALDINHO. SHENANIGANS. 

?Theme song is sorted…


Lockdown: The Belarusian League Story

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There’s more or less no football being played in the world right now – except in Belarus, where quasi-dictator Aleksandr Lukashenko has called the coronavirus a ‘psychosis’ and suggested that the reaction to the virus may be worse than the virus itself. Neither science nor common sense backs him up on it, but the Belarusian Premier League is on. 

With the framing of the global health crisis and Lukashenko’s strongman dictatorship, a gritty documentary series following the course of the league season would be tense as all hell, and properly gripping. Get it. Do it. Do it right. 

Should you wish to learn more about the Belarussian Barclays, you can do so ?right here with this helpful guide.


Coleen Rooney: Pet Detective

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You know Coleen Rooney has absolute detective chops. The ?’It’s……..Rebekah Vardy’s account’ reveal on social media last year? That’s a flair for the dramatic, too. 

Disney love animals, Coleen Rooney loves being a detective, buy the rights for the whole Ace Ventura thing off Warner Bros and mash the two up. Y’know, without the wildly unnecessary veer towards transphobia that the Jim Carrey film takes. 


Once Upon a Time in the Potteries

James Beattie,Tony Pulis

Stoke. A magical place. A place where it rains on school nights; with a psychokinetic forcefield which stops Lionel Messi from playing football. 

While Tony Pulis was there (2006-13), the club was almost universally hated. Small clubs thought they were overhyped, big clubs thought they were dirty b-stards, everyone with eyes thought they were staggeringly dull. 

They didn’t see what was happening behind the scenes. Things like a naked Pulis headbutting James Beattie in the showers. Or Kenwyne Jones getting a pig’s head in his locker by mistake and retaliating with a brick through a car window. The wrong car window. 

Behind the scenes of those seven years of chaos? The full story? Voiceover from Peter Crouch? On. The. Plane. 


Taxi Drivers

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?The West Brom Taxi Incident. A mid-season (MID-SEASON!) trip to Barcelona, where four of the least interesting players for one of the Premier League’s least interesting clubs…stole a taxi. At half past five in the morning. A taxi that had already taken them to the place they decided to get late-night food. 

Jonny Evans, Gareth Barry, Boaz Myhill – BOAZ MYHILL – and Jake Livermore. These are five-yard-sideways-pass men, and they stole a taxi in Barcelona in the middle of a season. And their manager was ALAN PARDEW. 

Just a mini-series. Even a two-parter. We beg. 


Black Swan

Cyril the Swan

It’s very important that you know that Swansea City’s ‘Cyril the Swan’ mascot costume is haunted by the spirit of an ancient and deeply psychotic actual swan. That’s not a ‘legally acceptable’ defence, but it’s the only explanation for what has been a long history of……….well, Cyrilness. 

In the late 90s he was charged with bringing the game into disrepute for causing mischief at an FA Cup match; getting a touchline ban and being the entire reason the FA had to make a code of conduct for mascots. He also got into it with Norwich director Bryan Hamilton, picking up a couple of games banished to the pond before his peak in 2001 – ripping off Millwall mascot Zampa the Lion’s head and kicking it into the crowd at the Vetch Field, telling him ‘Don’t f–k with the Swans.’

Formatting for this one? We’re thinking something Ross Kemp on Gangs, Danny Dyer’s Deadliest Men, that kinda thing. Might have to get one of those in to do the voiceover too because, as a mute swan, Cyril keeps his beak shut. 


For more from Chris Deeley, follow him on Twitter at @ThatChris1209!


Let’

How Barcelona’s Loaned Out Players Will Get on When They Return to Camp Nou – Ranked

?With some of the best players in the world starting week in, week out, it’s a tall order to force yourself into Barcelona’s first team. Therefore t’s not a surprise to see La Liga’s leaders send out those on the periphery of the squad elsewhere, to gain regular gametime before a return to Camp Nou.

Considering Barça look likely to continue spending huge fees for world-class talent, how realistic will it be for them to become regulars for the Blaugrana? Let’s assess each player and their chances of doing so…


7. Carles Aleñá

Carlos Alena

Aleñá must have thought he had done everything right when he was picked to start the Blaugrana’s opening La Liga game of this campaign. Alas, he was substituted at half-time and didn’t make an appearance again until December.

The centre-midfielder was shipped off to Real Betis in January and has started five times for Los Verdiblancos, although he has been forced to play on the right-wing due to the abundance of midfield talent at Estadio Benito Villamarín.

While he has the technical ability to succeed at ?Barça, he may not be a popular figure among club officials having made it clear his unhappiness at being left out earlier this season. It’s hard to see how he gets more games with those remarks…

Likelihood of Making it at Barcelona: 1/10


6. Moussa Wagué


Already a Senegal international with 17 caps, Wagué isn’t exactly a nobody. Indeed, he started a Champions League game a few months ago and looked set for more games.

Yet the right midfield, who can also play right-back, wasn’t able to persuade new manager Quique Setien to give him more chances, and he has been on-loan at Nice since January. In a short time period, he has quickly made an impact, with two assists already in five games.

It’s unclear if he’ll get the chance to play more in Ligue 1, but Nice are able to buy Wagué for €15m. Would the Blaugrana allow for this, if they felt the 21-year-old could be a regular next season? Probably not, but those earlier appearances this season gives him a tiny chance of making it. Really, really tiny though.

Likelihood of Making it at Barcelona: 2/10


5. Jean-Clair Todibo

Jean-Claire Todibo

It was a difficult end to 2019 for Todibo, with injuries keeping him out for much of the season. Therefore, it came as no surprise, when he left on-loan to ?Schalke 04 in January.

His strong displays since arriving in Germany led to him recently being named the club’s Player of the Month by fans. The centre-back has clearly found his level in the Bundesliga, but it’s unclear if Die Königsblauen can afford a permanent deal, with their option-to-buy fee set at an initial €25m. 

Should he return to Spain, he could have a chance to play at Camp Nou regularly, with rumours the club are ?willing to offload Samuel Umtiti this summer. Yet despite his progression, Todibo needs more time to develop, which may be too long a wait for the Catalans before they just buy another centre-back instead.

Likelihood of Making it at Barcelona: 3/10


4. Philippe Coutinho

Philippe Coutinho

Clearly Coutinho’s dream move to Barça hasn’t worked out. His loan at ?Bayern Munich has been relatively successful, as he’s been a starter for much of the season, and has eight goals in his 22 Bundesliga appearances, as well as six assists.

With Die Roten needing to pay a staggering €120m to sign the Brazilian permanently, it’s hard to believe the Bavarians will use up their entire transfer budget on him alone. There are very ?limited options out there for the 27-year-old, and the Blaugrana will hope there’s a club willing to pay up for his services – but may be resigned to the probability he returns to Camp Nou, where he’ll likely have a small role again.

Likelihood of Making it at Barcelona: 4/10


3. Rafinha

Rafinha

The midfielder made his debut for Barça nine years ago, long before the likes of Antoine Griezmann and Frankie de Jong arrived at Camp Nou. But Rafinha has struggled to establish himself as a regular, with injuries hampering his progress severely.

Now at Celta Vigo for a second season, the Brazilian international has been a starter when fit, and has played 19 La Liga games for the club overall. While it’s possible that the Blaugrana may cut ties with him at the end of the campaign, the looming upheaval in their midfield could give the 27-year-old another chance to play regularly for Setien. And his versatility to play all across the attacking third, could help his chances tremendously – so it’s possible he could still be a success.

Likelihood of Making it at Barcelona: 5/10


2. Oriol Busquets

Oriol Busquets

No, Sergio and Oriol Busquets aren’t related. But there’s many similarities between the two of them. Like his star namesake, Oriol has predominantly played in defensive midfield, but is versatile enough to drop into the centre-back role. While he won’t contribute goals or assists, the 21-year-old is skilled enough to dictate the midfield tempo, and can also start attacking moves for his team.

He has played every game except one for FC Twente this season and was one of the few loanees to depart Spain with no option to buy, suggesting that the Catalans plan to keep him around for the future. With the likes of ?Rakiti? and Vidal coming to the end of their contracts, Busquets may have a great chance of establishing himself in the Blaugrana’s future midfield.

Likelihood of Making it at Barcelona: 7/10


1. Emerson

Emerson de Souza

The next Dani Alves? Barça fans will certainly hope so.

Emerson has been a revelation at Betis this season, contributing three goals and five assists in his 23 La Liga appearances. The right-back is superb offensively, and can be counted on to join the attack at any opportunity.

With his loan deal not expiring until June 2021, the Brazilian has ample time to develop defensively into becoming a world-class right-back. And by assessing his performances this season, Emerson has a fantastic chance of becoming the Blaugrana’s first choice for the next decade. After all, he’s only 21 years old…

Likelihood of Making it at Barcelona: 9/10


Let’

Liverpool Have ‘No Interest’ in Re-Signing Philippe Coutinho from Barcelona

?Liverpool are not interested in bringing former fan favourite Philippe Coutinho back to Anfield, as uncertainty surrounding his Barcelona future mounts.

The Brazilian playmaker finally forced through his dream move to Camp Nou from Merseyside in 2018, but things have not quite gone to plan.

After an underwhelming debut campaign, Coutinho was shipped out on loan to Bayern Munich, and Barcelona are poised to offload their €145m signingonce football gets underway again and the transfer window is opened.

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According to ?the Mirror, Barcelona will let the 27-year-old leave in the summer, but Bayern, who can sign Coutinho on a permanent deal for 120m, will not be taking up that option, and Liverpool won’t move for him either.

Coutinho has reportedly admitted to friends that he made a mistake by ensuring he left Liverpool for ?Barcelona.

The report states that Liverpool have told the midfielder’s advisors that they have ‘zero’ interest in bringing their former player back to Anfield, with his age the biggest sticking point.


Coutinho will be 28 when the transfer window opens, and this is too old for Liverpool to consider paying a sum in excess of £100m for.

He would require a four-year deal and would have little sell on value, and this does not appeal to the Reds’ stringent transfer policy.

Coutinho will have to look elsewhere to resurrect his career, and according to the Mirror, Liverpool’s Premier League rivals ?Manchester United and ?Tottenham are both interested in bringing the Brazilian back to English football.

Philippe Coutinho

While the player’s age is not an issue for either club (or so it says), the lofty transfer fee would be. 

Barcelona are after €120m for Coutinho in order to reduce their losses, having paid such an eye watering figure to bring him to the club originally. 

Although they are in the market to bolster their attacking midfield options, United would not touch Coutinho with such a staggering transfer fee on his head, while typical thrifty Spurs would look to ‘drive a hard bargain’.

Let’