With a flurry of deals officially being sealed on January 1, today is of course the opening of the transfer window.
And perhaps the most high-profile move so far today has come from Chelsea, as Burkina Faso international Bertrand Traore has signed on the dotted-line for Jose Mourinho’s men.
Traore, 18, agreed to the deal back in October but on Wednesday officially joined the Blues from Association Jeunes Espoirs De Bobo-Dioulasso in his native land. The young attacking winger, who joined Chelsea on their preseason tour of Asia and Indonesia on a trial basis during last summer, is a tricky attacker and he’s signed a four-and-a-half year deal at Stamford Bridge.
Delighted to commit his future to the West London club, youngster Traore revealed he plans to follow in the footsteps of some illustrious players from Chelsea past, present and future.
“My favorite players are Juan Mata, Mesut Ozil and Eden Hazard. They’re very good players and I am trying to be like them,” Traore said. “At Chelsea I look to follow the way of some African legends like Didier Drogba, Michael Essien and now Samuel Eto’o.”
With Chelsea revealing losses of $81.6 million for the 2013 fiscal year on New Year’s Eve, expect plenty more signings like this in the coming months and years, as the Blues try to balance the books and pick up exciting young talents on the cheap instead of splashing the cash for established stars.
Why are the changing tact? The new Financial Fair Play regulations being ushered in by UEFA has seen Chelsea and several of Europe’s other leading clubs try to cut their cloth accordingly. Let’s see how long they keep it up.
Goals and controversial penalty decisions are a big part of Saturday morning’s quartet of Premier League matches, all of which are at the break.
[ STREAM: Every PL game on NBC Sports ]
Arsenal 1-1 Stoke City
Joe Allen took an elbow from Granit Xhaka inside the 18, and Lee Mason awarded a PK that Charlie Adam converted to give the visitors an early lead. But Theo Walcott scored his 100th goal as a Gunner off a classy Hector Bellerin cross to make it 1-1 before the break.
Burnley 2-1 Bournemouth
The Cherries will have to dig out of another hole this week, and it all began with Jeff Hendrick‘s phenomenal opener. Fellow Irishman Steven Ward scored an economical to goal to double the lead.
But Ryan Fraser continued his fine December with an assist on Benik Afobe‘s goal before halftime.
Hull City 1-0 Crystal Palace
Robert Snodgrass drew a penalty with a pretty easy grass grab, and the Tigers have a
Swansea City 0-0 Sunderland
Not much cooking at the Liberty Stadium.
One win in 10 for Ronald Koeman‘s Everton has the Dutchman on the hot seat.
Koeman seems to be clawing for air after the Toffees’ latest setback, a 3-2 loss at Watford.
The loss puts the Hornets ahead of Everton on the PL table, and — while unlikely — it’s a mathematical possibility that the Toffees could be a bottom half team by the end of the weekend.
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That’s a brutal development for a club expected to challenge for a European place this season.
“I see a lot of similar problems in the team. The team is too much reactive. Of course it’s maybe a lack of confidence, but if you start the game well, 1-0 up, you need a bigger belief in the team and not going back and defending, and nervous, and not enough ball possession. In my opinion that’s a problem.”
A big problem with that? It can be put down to the manager. Is Koeman in trouble already?
Jeff Hendrick, take a bow.
Burnley’s Republic of Ireland international midfielder pulled off a stunning piece of skill on Saturday to put the Clarets ahead against Bournemouth.
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A long ball forward was flicked on to Hendrick and he took a stunning first touch to tee himself and then settled himself before spanking a volley into the top corner.
Sensational goal from Burnley’s club-record signing.
Click play on the video above to watch it.
There’s a danger in observing Lionel Messi on a week-by-week basis, and it has a lot to do with how he makes greatness look routine.
So while it’s easy to dismiss yet another mazy dribble through a defense, one of those “Frogger” style with calm-but-vicious cutbacks, try to consider everything that goes into Messi’s second goal against Osasuna early Saturday.
[ MORE: Watford 3-2 Everton ]
On first look, you might count 9 touches for Messi starting with his right-footed collection of the ball. But move to the slow motion replays, and recognize the truth: Often Messi is letting the ball do the work for him, essentially moving the duo closer to goal while he used his preferred left foot as a must-respect threat.
That he does it in such traffic and at full speed is incredible. It’s literally one of those goals in which a linguistic luminary like Ray Hudson would have trouble over-emphasizing the greatness.
Messi now has 11 La Liga goals in 12 matches, and 22 in 19 overall.