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War And Peace : The Midfielders


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by PauloBarnesi

Part 3 of the series sees breakdown on, and opinion of, the midfield links this close-season. Funnily enough there's a lot of these too.

Pedro Mendes (Portsmouth),

Mendes was one of Harry Redknapp’s emergency signings that kept Pompey up a few years back. Famed for being the man who didn’t score at Old Trafford and for being acquainted with Ben Thatcher's elbow. Capped twice for Portugal he has become a peripheral figure at Pompey and knowing Redknapp he’s bound to be available for a price. The question again seems to be should we get him as a squad filler or is he good enough for us?

Jermaine Pennant (Liverpool)

Part of the famous mish mash Benitez loves to serve up, he’s supposedly part of the offer to take Milner to Anfield. Of course he’s a former SHA and Arsenal ‘star’, but with an interesting criminal record, will even the powers of Martin O’Neill be able to put his career back on track?

Diego (Werder Bremen)

Diego Ribas da Cunha is the kind of big name attacking midfielder that keeps some Villa fans up all night with excitement. Capped 30 times for Brazil, he’s part of the second best team in Germany and therefore likely to be playing in the Champions League. Certainly Martin O’Neill hasn’t ever developed any strong preference for Brazilians, so its hard to see this one coming off.

Bernd Schneider (Bayer Leverkusen)

81 caps make Schneider a German veteran. That some of the caps were won during some of the lean years of German football shouldn’t hide his quality, where he is known as the ‘white Brazilian’. He and John Robertson should get along great as smokers and for Martin O’Neill he can play on the right of midfield. But its hard to see a 34 year old German International wanting to move to Aston Villa

Michael Bradley (Heerenveen)

For a small team in Holland, Heerenveen produce an enormous amount of famous footballers; van Nistelrooy, Huntelaar and of course Villa ‘legend‘ Marcus Allback. Bradley, an American, is the latest hot property, playing either in a defensive or attacking central midfield role. His father is the national coach. Capped 18 times and on show in the recent England international, he’s become one of Europe’s hottest properties. Scoring an impressive 17 goals (yes its the Dutch league), will he move to Germany (where Hamburg lead the chase) or to England (where Everton is the rumoured destination).

Christian Poulsen (Sevilla)

Danish international, with a very hot temper, famous for punching Marcus Rosenburg, which led to the international against Sweden being abandoned. Twice winner of Danish player of the year, without doubt a player who would add more than steel to the Villa midfiield with some real quality. O’ Neill has no problems with fiery characters and surely Laursen can have a word in the ear? Jorn Bones, his agent, said recently that they were interested in hearing what Seville had to offer. Barcelona are another interested party.

Gary O’Neil (Middlesbrough)

A central and right midfielder who was once the subject of a £5 million bid from Liverpool. The rumours that Redknapp never rated him were perhaps confirmed when he moved to Boro for £5 million. However an injury and rumours that he hasn’t settled in Smoggy land didn’t make for an entirely happy first season.

Bastian Schweinsteiger (Bayern Munich)

A mere 23, but with 53 caps and playing for Bayern Munich should suggest this one is as likely as you or I playing for Villa. But you never know, Juventus are an interested party and with a new manager at Bayern, stranger things have happened. Maybe Der Hammer will tell him that a move to Villa would be a step up?

Steve Sidwell (Chelsea)

My only question does ginger hair go with claret and blue? It looks like the first signing is going to be this man if a supposed £5.5 million deal is to be believed.

Mario Santana (Fiorentina)

An Argentinian with an Italian passport, who plays right wing, sounds just perfect for Villa. He’s exotic enough for the more discerning of Villa fans and he actually fills a gap for the realists amongst us. However when most of the information comes from Football Manager sites you have to wonder if he’s quite as good as he’s cracked up to be.

Marcos Senna (Villarreal)

A Brazilian who plays for Spain? This is getting more exotic by the minute. Once a target for Manchester United, José Manuel Butragueño his agent seemed to think a move to Juventus was on the cards, but Alonso now seems the more likely, leading to this outburst ‘He said they were looking for a player of Senna’s style, yet today they want Liverpool’s Xabi Alonso. I find that amazing. Senna’s better than Alonso, and with the Spanish national side he is ahead of him. I think the fact that their interest has dampened must be political. Juventus want to pay twice as much for a player who is worse than Senna.” So the defensive midfielder is available for £7 million?

Riccardo Montolivo (Fiorentina)

A central attacking midfileder, someone has dubbed him the new Totti. Probably someone on Football Manager. A surprise inclusion in the Italian Euro squad, he was eventually trimmed from the final 24, Donadoni commented “Montolivo has enjoyed a good campaign and he has proved his worth.” Later he said ‘I give my compliments to him and to Fiorentina for their qualification to the Champions League. He’s a good lad, it’s too bad he’s leaving. But he shouldn’t be demoralised, he has 10 years with the national team ahead of him.’. So an Italian in a Champions League team coming to Aston Villa? Unlikely.

Ruben de la Red (Real Madrid)

What a great name. He enjoyed a successful period on loan at Getafe, before returning to the Bernabeu. Manager and chairman seem at odds over whether he will be used in a swap deal or whether he will stay. I wonder who at Villa, Real Madrid would want? Marlon Harewood? He plays in the centre of the park, though he has been deployed as a central defender. Again one of the so called targets from the infamous Bayern-Getafe match.

Esteban Granero (Real Madrid)

Maybe O’Neill just enjoys getting the air-miles up and never was interested in one of these players on show? Granero joined Real Madrid aged 8, but his real breakthrough as a 20 year old was on loan at Getafe. Nicknamed the Pirate, he has based his game on his manager at Getafe, Michael Laudrup. He plays in the centre of the park, as an attacking midfielder, though he has been deployed on the right. Schuester seems to have ruled out a transfer, with promises of first team action next season.

Pablo Hernandez (Valencia)

Another of Getafe’s loanees, he has returned to cash strap Valencia. He can play on either wing and someone has made a video of him on youtube. The story seems to have come from the pen of Bill Howell, so take it with a pinch of salt.

Brian Howard (Barnsley)

Star of Barnsley’s FA cup run and former Chelsea player, this story appeared back in the Spring with a £3-£5 million figure being mentioned. He fits into the MON mould of being a big club reject who has made his way back in through the lower leagues. Rated highly by Barnsley fans, he is hardly the thing to get the Villa fans' hearts racing? Despite being born in Winchester he has now been called up by Craig Burley for Scotland. His chairman has put a £10 million tag round his neck, with Wolves and Bolton interested in his signature.

James Milner (Newcastle)

Will it be third time lucky? We have loaned him, we have tried to sign him (if only Fat Freddy hadn’t been so difficult), and it seems we want him again with a £7 million offer being put in according to News of the World. The problem is the Spanish wiater appears to be interested and again NoTW says he’s begging for his career to be ruined. However its more of the famous Scouse mish mash and not pounds that Rafa is offering. Newcastle are unimpressed. Now Milner is almost a classic MON signing, hardworking and determined, with a streak of skill.

David Bentley (Blackburn)

Over a month ago Bentley told Blackburn he wanted to leave for a bigger team playing in Europe. Villa are believed to have had a long term interest, which led to an enquiry in January. Now the question is how much will he cost? And who else would want him? A possible destination would be a reunion with Sparky at Man City who would see no problem with a possible £15 million price tag. Liverpool have also been seen to have had a long term interest, but with the Milner link appearing has the price tag cooled Benitez's interest? It's hard to see any of the other top four wanting him, and surely a move to Portsmouth whilst offering Europe would be side ways? What about Tottenham; it seems a bottomless pit of money, but do they need another right sided midfielder? If he doesn’t don the claret and blue expect a large amount of teeth grinding.

Aaron Lennon (Tottenham)

‘On your marks, get set, GO’ Yes its who is the fastest player in the premiership with Villa attempting to hold all the aces, with young Lennon complementing Young and Gabby. Again Baggy Bill is the source and one wonders why Tottenham would let him go when he has almost always started under Ramos, playing 47 games last season. Again the link would be young, athletic and British.

Jimmy Bullard (Fulham)

The player who kept Fulham up. We know all about him when we lost at Craven Cottage. He has the energy and dynamism that MON rates, but has he got the extra notch we need? He’s had a long term injury, so questions must be raised over his fitness and would Fulham let him leave? Well we all know that Fulham’s finances are precarious to say the least and a big offer would surely tempt Hodgson?

Rafael van der Vaart (Hamburg)

Once the golden boy of Dutch football, a fall from grace, a few seasons at Hamburg have seen his star rise again. He’s been linked with a host of premiership clubs, and Martin Jol his manager has dubbed him one of Europe’s top five playmakers. The story emerged in the spring and was given new legs by the Express and Star, though the likelyhood seems remote.

Danny Haynes (Ipswich Town)

Former Charlton player and FA youth cup winner, the right winger/striker has been dubbed the ‘Canary crusher’, When the story first emerged he was seen as a real snip, a month later and people were describing him as a headless chicken. Portsmouth are rumoured to be interested.

Victor Moses (Crystal Palace)

A 17 year old who can play as a left winger, central midfielder and striker, he is another name that has been bubbling under for a few years. Simon ‘I hate the Blues’ Jordan has said that Chelsea have put in a few offers. Villa’s interest was reported in the People and confirmed to me by a Palace supporting taxi driver, who in the position of expert said ‘es a top youngster and going to Villa would be just the right move. Cost you a pretty penny mind’. So the chances of a move to Villa would seem minimal.

Yossi Benayoun (Liverpool)

Not part of the mish mash, a player who burst on the scene at West Ham, but has not been able to cement a place on Merseyside. Some decent Champions League performances shouldn’t hide that Rafa wants rid as he is desperate for any cash. Is he genuinely what we need or just another squad filler?

Tom Huddlestone (Tottenham)

Someone once described this as the player who can manage to look fantastic and crap at the same time. He’s rumoured to be a top target for both Villa and Everton. His physical presence, youth and above all his nationality surely would be attractive to MON. He’s been a regular at U-21 and surely MON will open talks by promising to make him an England regular?

Paulo Assunção (Porto)

The 28 year old Brazilian defensive midfielder has bought himself out of his contract and will be available on a free at the end of June. Atletico Madrid are an interested party and this story has a definite ring of 'not in a million years' about it, but we need to fill some space in our paper (yes the Daily Mirror)

Shaun Wright-Phillips (Chelsea)

Another who nearly signed for us once. The right winger advised by Ian ‘the BBC don’t rate me’ Wright, was going to come on loan, but decided to fight for his place. The 26 year old, who once was released by Forest, but cost £21 million, has seen his career stumble and now Bentley is above him in the pecking order for England. Surely someone must have told him he needs to move on, or will big Phil decide that he’s worth keeping?

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i havta say the the only 1s from that lot that'd b likely(good enough) to sign for us would b....

david bently(hopefully)

james milner

steve sidwell(for obvious reasons)

.......but has anyone been watching turkey in euro 08....i know MON has and a player thats stood out to me as a perfect target would b Arda Turan. he's 21, plays on the LEFT or RIGHT of midfield and is still playing for Galatasaray which could make him an averagely easy target!! if u havent seen him play watch him tonight!!

....also (this could b from playin too much football manager) but does the name Matías Fernández ring any bells??...plays for villareal and promises to b a real gem of a player in the future!!

you've been here nearly two months, please read the guidelines with respect to the use of txt speak - cheers, LV

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