Friday, 19 April 2013


Who is he? Where does he play?

He is Bayer Leverkusen's German midfielder who has been in the news quite a lot recently as he edges very close to a move to Chelsea. The Blues have been persistent in their pursuit of Schurrle after having a bid rejected at the start of the season. Now they are back, better, harder, faster and stronger, and ready to land their blond-haired 22 year old for the same price of his age, 22 million euros.

22 million euros?! Is he worth that much?

Chelsea's new transfer-market habit seems to be skillful, young, talented attacking midfielders, after Oscar, Eden Hazard and Victor Moses came through the luscious Stamford Bridge arrival suite* in the summer, so they may say yes, he is. Many lazy commentators, like myself, who look at his 11 goals and 6 assists from 34 appearances this season, would also say, yes, he is. 

*I don't know what Stamford Bridge's arrival suite looks like, I'm just guessing.

So he's quite productive then?

He is. His 15 goal season for Mainz in 2010 earned him an £8 million move to Leverkusen where he has impressed as the pharmaceutical club finished 5th last year in the Bundesliga and sit 3rd this time round. Starting usually as a left-attacker in a 4-3-3 system, he combines startling pace and close control to dribble inside from wide areas. He is mostly a direct goal threat, hitting a total of 47 shots this term, but can also lay-off opportunities for his team-mates, creating 34 chances so far. 

He fits into the system well then?

It's his impressive athleticism and energy that allows him to run the left-side of the 4-3-3, operating well in the counter-attack driven philosophy of Lewandowski and Hyypia. He likes to drop off, picking up the ball on the turn and running it towards goal, as shown by his prolific dribbling rate of 3.4 per game. He rarely chooses to beat his man on the outside, instead moving centrally to shoot (averaging 3.5 shots per-game), or link-up the play with other members of the attack. 

We'll get to watch him more often soon then?

His move to Chelsea looks extremely likely so yes, we will. If you'd have been paying attention however, Schurrle made a couple of appearances in Joachim Loew's German side in last year's European Championship as his worth to the counter-attack came into play in the latter-stages of the tournament. He broke into the senior side in 2010 and has gone onto make 22 appearances, scoring 7 goals. His quality has been known in Germany for years and Chelsea seem set to reap his counter-attacking talent.

For more, you can read this

Tuesday, 9 April 2013


Who is he? Where does he play?

Well, you know we covered Borussia Dortmund's Marco Reus recently, Gotze is his fellow German's partner in crime, half of the duo that has teamed up in north-western Germany to terrorise the Bundesliga defences and lead Jurgen Klopp's bright young team into battle on the continent after two year's dominating their domestic league.

Ah right, we've heard a lot about him

We certainly have. Gotze is only 20, able to play on the right on in the centre, using his deadly playmaking ability to provide Robert Lewandowski and Reus as he has created 57 chances and tallied 12 assists so far this season. With 14 goals so far, this is his most potent season yet after hitting just 8 and 7 in his last 2 previous seasons with Dortmund. He is set to miss out on a third successive title but he has been instrumental in his team's run to the quarter-finals of the Champions League, playing in all 8 games so far.

There are too many skillful, technical German players.

That is right, but Gotze is arguably the best of them all. After receiving his footballing education with Dortmund from 2001, he was promoted into the senior squad aged just 17 in 2009 and he comes with the seal of approval off the former technical director of the German Football Association Mathias Sammer, "one of the best talents we've ever had". Franz Beckenbauer, all-round German miser and legend, also got in on the love-in, saying of Reus and Gotze, "as a classic duo there is nobody better than the prolific Gotze and Reus".

So what are his main strengths?

Using his movement to drop off and create chances for sure. His ability to drift into space allows space for the potent Rues and Lewandowski whilst his record of 2.3 chances created per game in the Bundesliga suggests how talented he is at picking out an incisive pass. His record of 920 passes attempted, of which he has completed 772, indicates he is always looking to play the ball. His deadly pace can also pin defenders and take them on with the dribble, attempting 79 so far this season and completing 3 per game. He is a magician of an attacking midfielder.

Will he leave Dortmund?

Manchester United have been interested in the past and his recent remarks that the Red Devils are the "only club for me in England" have only intensified matters. However, with the 20 year old in contract until 2016, reports are that he will command a £50 million transfer fee, so expect to see him keep torturing German defences as he stakes a claim in the run up to next year's World Cup. He has become one of Germany's brightest shining lights, playing 22 times for Joachim Loew's side and hitting 5 goals. 

He also has 2011's Golden Boy award in his locker, that also includes the Fritz Walter Golden medal for 2009 and 2010, showing how highly rated he has been in German football from such a young age. You can watch it for yourself here; and here...

Thursday, 4 April 2013


Who is he? Where does he play?

He is Borussia Dortmund's forward who, at the age of 23, has become a regular for the Bundesliga champions and the full German national side. Good looking, physically fit and able to play left, centre, through the middle or up front, there is no man alive who wouldn't wish to be him.... and yes, that includes you!

Not me... anyway, we're not covering his looks...

No, we're not, that's quite correct. If you want to learn a little bit about him, here goes.....he started out with Post SV Dortmund, before moving to Borussia Dortmund to receive his footballing education. After a decade on the north Rhine, he was off to Rot Weiss Ahlen where he earned his big break, featuring in 14 matches in the German division three as the club got promoted. He scored 2 goals for the minnows. How was the history lesson?

It was ok... got anything else?

It was another Borussia, this time Monchengladbach that took him from Ahlen, going straight into the team as a 19 year old under manager Lucien Favre. He made a total of 109 appearances for Gladbach in 3 years and became German footballer of the year after his 18 goals helped the club finish 4th in the Bundesliga in 2012, gaining him a return to Dortmund for a fee of 17 million euros.

How's he doing?

Brilliantly. With his fine technical ability at home anywhere in Dortmund's front-line in the high-octane passing urged by manager Jurgen Klopp, he has thrived, scoring 19 goals in his 38 games, creating 51 chances and registering 9 assists as he links up with the superbly gifted duo of Robert Lewandowski and Mario Gotze. 

He is in the brand of small, low-balanced technicians who roam around the attacking areas, nimbly linking play together. He creates, on average, 2 chances a game and remains a significant goal threat with an average of 3 shots per match. His goals come in all sorts of shapes and sizes, as seen by this video.

Whilst his constant movement inside from his usual starting position of the left, he is a nightmare for defenders to mark, making Dortmund's front-line fully mobile. His passing accuracy of 76% perhaps needs improving, but it suggests the ambitious through balls and link-touches he tries to pull-off.

You're kind of, beginning to bore me now..

Well sorry, but you asked me to stop leering over his lovely blond hair and his blue eyes and flawless looks..... ach.... but it's not as boring as the German line of technically gifted footballers they now have. Reus, who has 15 caps and 7 goals for Die Maanschaft, has joined fellow club man Gotze, Sven and Lars Bender, Julian Draxler, Toni Kroos...zzz..... they are just taking the mick out of us. 

By the way, the Guardian did this ahead of the recent Champions League tie with Malaga, so if you can't take anymore of our bickering, read what the experts wrote...


Who is he? Where does he play?

Francisco Roman Alarcon Suarez, or Isco to me and you, is Malaga's very highly rated attacking midfielder, who, at the age of just 20, has broken into Spain's full team and played over 60 times the club down on the Costa Del Sol after starting life with Valencia.

Why did Valencia get rid of him?

Despite Mestalla chiefs initially seeing him as the heir to David Silva in midfield, he failed to make the breakthrough to the first team, playing just 7 times. He showcased his talents in the B team, with Malaga seeing enough to spark his 6 million Euro release clause to purchase him in the summer of 2011, together with Joaquin, Van Nistelrooy and Santi Cazorla as the Anchovies, as they're cutely known, went a bit spend-crazy under their new Qatari owner.

How's he doing at Malaga then?

Very well, helping them qualify for the Champions League for the first time in their history in tandem with Cazorla in a magically technical midfield. The teenager played 35 times scoring 5 goals. Now, with the pesky Cazorla out of the way at Arsenal, it has yielded new opportunities for Isco, with Manuel Pellegrini seeing him the natural replacement in attacking midfield. This season, he has hit 8 goals, passed at a rate of 84% accuracy and has created 32 chances from 29 appearances, helping Malaga into the quarter finals of the Champions League and 5th place in La Liga.

He won an award didn't he?

He did. Italian newspaper Tuttosport handed him the 2012 Golden Boy award, the prestigious gong which is given to Europe's most talented player under the age of 21.

So what makes him so good then?

An ability to do pretty much anything in the final third. His 5 ft 9 inch frame allows him to burst away from the big burly defensive midfielder into the hole behind the attacker, mainly Roque Santa Cruz at Malaga, to feed him with a large array of passing. However, this year, he has amassed a rather disappointing total of just 1 assist with 3 more coming in the Champions League. This is not to undermine his work in the final third however, where he has averaged 1 created chance per game.

This year, he has added a goal-threat to his armory. He has the 8 in the league, with another 3 in Europe, mostly coming from his willingness to get shots away on the edge of the box. He has a shooting accuracy of an impressive 65% from a total of 57 shots on goal so far this season. His slight frame can also allow him to sneak into the box to support Santa Cruz to get on the end of the supply from Joaquin, Julio Baptista and co. in Malaga's midfield.

Will he leave in the summer?

He jolly well could do given Malaga are floating down the proverbial brown-coloured creek minus a paddle as they fight tough UEFA sanctions on financial mismanagement. The prospect of a European ban awaits the club, so Chelsea, Arsenal and the like await with bated breath waiting to take him to England. Whether he is ready, at such a young age, remains to be seen.

Manchester City have been repeatedly interested, but their approaches were dealt a blow as the player signed a new deal to extend his stay in Spain to 2016, also increasing his buy-out clause from 15 million euros to 30 million. But with Malaga struggling for money and the hugely talented 20 year old possibly going on a diet of no-European football, it could be worth a bid. COME ON, YOU KNOW YOU WANT TO!!!!!!!