Paul Scholes is one of the greatest natural midfielders Manchester United and England have ever produced.
But now he’s up for sale.
But don’t worry, the Manchester United legend hasn’t lost the plot, it’s all for a good cause. The highest bidder will get the chance to play alongside Scholes in a charity game to help pay for renovations to Stalybridge Celtic Juniors’ clubhouse.
For a man who shirked the media spotlight for most of his illustrious career, this noble act by Scholes may go unnoticed internationally. But it’s incredibly cool.
The bidding is going reasonably well with almost $10,000 raised and there’s six days left in the bidding, so if you want to play alongside the ‘Ginger Genius’ find out more info here.
Scholes’ son currently plays for Stalybridge’s Junior team, so there’s the reason why the 38-year-old soccer star is putting his name next to this auction bid.
According to the auction on eBay: “Paul Scholes comes out of retirement to play in the annual Stalybridge Celtic Juniors Coaches vs Dads fundraiser on Friday 26 July, Kick off 7:30pm.” And the auction promised 45 minutes to “play alongside one of the greatest midfielders of a generation.” But it also states that, “Paul may be substituted in the final ten minutes to avoid him getting mobbed for autographs at the final whistle.”
So when will you ever get the chance to say you played alongside one of “Fergie’s Fledglings?” You’re thinking about it, aren’t you.
Scholes played 718 times for Manchester United, scoring 155 goals and accrued 66 caps for England despite retiring from the international scene way back in 2004. Several England managers have tried to make him change his mind since. But to no avail.
Scholes retired (for the second-time after being persuaded to return) in Sir Alex Ferguson’s final game in charge of United at the end of last season, after playing in every EPL season since the 1994-95 campaign.
The world legend gets banded about too openly in today’s game. But Scholes is a legend.
When so many other player have let fame and fortune get in the way, Scholes has put his family first and stayed out of the spotlight.
Now all he’s asking for is a donation to help his son and his teammates have some new facilities at their aging club.
Not a bad trade off after getting to witness his years of brilliance, right?
For a lot of us, that meant delving into statistics and seeing what matched the eye test. Many started Googling the name “N'Golo Kante“, the dynamic disruptor who’d move to Chelsea in August.
He’s a household name now, with some personalities even arguing that he should buck the trend of Ballon d’Or nominees including only major statistic producers (There was a time when names like Fabio Cannavaro and Matthias Sammer claimed the honor, you know).
For our purposes, we’ll use a pair of advanced stats sites and the good ol’ eye test. (Of the sites we’re using, Squawka seems to skew toward high attack scores, while WhoScored tilts a bit toward the back, so life is good if a player hits both sites’ Top 50).
Before getting into our team — we promise no 10-picture, click-to-reveal-next stuff — some stats that stood out.
— Three players have had outstanding “short” seasons for different reasons.
Leicester City’s Wilfried Ndidi took a short spell to adjust to the Premier League after arriving in January, but has been the Foxes’ most influential player in their recent turnaround).
Bournemouth’s Nathan Ake essentially was the Cherries’ first-half success before heading back to Chelsea where Antonio Conte won’t move him ahead of Marcos Alonso or Victor Moses (and that’s actually understandable as you’ll see below).
Chelsea’s Cesc Fabregas just doesn’t feature a ton for Conte, but in limited time his per-90 stats on Squawka trail only Eden Hazard and Alexis Sanchez.
Ander Herrera (Manchester United, 7.44, 36.64) – Long-heralded at Athletic Bilbao, Herrera is finally showing what made him so sought. One odd stat that may be explained by his willingness to run to any situation: he’s very high in average times dribbled past.
Idrissa Gana Gueye (Everton, 7.34, 20.57) – The best player in Aston Villa’s awful 2015-16, he’s been arguably as effective as N’Golo Kante. Seriously.
Matt Phillips (West Bromwich Albion) – Once the top player on a relegated QPR, Phillips is fifth in the Premier League in assists despite missing the last four matches with injury.
Christian Eriksen (Tottenham Hotspur, 7.41, 31.89) – Second in the PL in key passes, he doesn’t get the plaudits of English teammates Dele Alli and Harry Kane. The relationships are very symbiotic.
Wilfried Zaha (Crystal Palace, 7.44) – On an under-achieving team, Zaha’s statistics are wild. He’s the most-fouled player in the league, and attempts/completes the most dribbles in the PL. He gives the ball away a lot, too, but that happens when you’re the focal point of everything your team does in the attacking third.
Alex Iwobi (Arsenal, 30.54) – The Nigerian turns 21 in May, and has four goals and seven assists across all competitions.
“[Ibrahimovic] is a genius, he’s very intense because he wants to win everything, even football-tennis,” Herrera said to Radio MARCA.
“He assumes this role of doing or saying what he likes in front of the media because he does not care, he can say that he’ll score 30 goals or is the best because he can afford to.”
There’s certainly something to stature when it comes to saying what you feel (though on the other hand, being egotistical is rarely controversial. It’s not like Ibrahimovic is often railing on controversial soccer or social issues).
We’re sure there are plenty of players across all sports, casual and professional, who don’t understand hyper-competitive teammates, but we love a guy who doesn’t turn it down when it comes to on-the-field activities. Hopefully Ibrahimovic is the Jaromir Jagr of soccer.