Ilkay Gundogan would brighten not just Manchester United, but the Premier League as a whole

8 Comments

If you told me before the season that I would get to watch both Mesut Ozil and Ilkay Gundogan in the Premier League this year, I’d probably try my hardest to give whoever made that happen a big ol’ hug.

Having seen what beautiful things Ozil has brought to the English game at the Emirates, the prospect of both being on my television come February 1 is salivating.

Manchester United, having been linked heavily with a bid for Gundogan, will have to try very hard to pry him from the clutches of a Borussia Dortmund side already reeling from the thought of losing Robert Lewandowski this summer.  It’s not a long shot, but it’s close.

However, should David Moyes pony up a successful £24 million ($39.6 million) offer, and convince Gundogan to risk his Champions League playing time (think green, that usually helps), the German could very well save their season – and the manager’s job.

The 23-year-old is currently missing long-term from Dortmund’s lineup, having made just one appearances this year due to a spinal injury.

But when healthy, Gundogan is an absolute workhorse. His style isn’t exactly as “sexy” as Ozil’s, but having completed a position change from a No. 10  to a holding midfielder, he possesses the best qualities of both roles melded into one player – what is known as a “complete midfielder.”

source: Getty Images
Ilkay would be just what the doctor ordered at Manchester United, should David Moyes choose to pursue the German.

It’s a style of player that fits beautifully into the rigors of the Premier League.  Technical yet physically weak players are eaten alive (see: Ruiz, Bryan) but Gundogan possesses the seizing abilities of a holding midfielder while still proving dangerous in both build-up and attack.

The German international had an 87% pass completion during the 2012/2013 Bundesliga season – not stellar until you notice Dortmund play a style that relies on an incisive yet risky passing attack.

He also paired the following statistics together last year: an outstanding 80% tackle completion percentage (51/64) and a 64% take-on success rate (58/90). He can dispossess and dribble.

With Manchester United’s midfield currently featuring such yawn-inspiring players such as Tom Cleverley, Michael Carrick, and 40-year-old Ryan Giggs, the middle of the pitch at Old Trafford could use some life.

That’s what David Moyes thought he was doing bringing Marouane Fellaini with him from Everton, but Fellaini’s been both injured and underwhelming, proving his passing abilities to be sub par when thrust into the bright lights.

Gundogan’s playmaking abilities would light up Old Trafford, and feed Wayne Rooney and Robin van Persie (given he’s on the pitch and not in the physio’s room) the service they’ve so lacked this season.

Rooney should be lauded by United fans, having singlehandedly created nearly every sliver of United’s attack – nine goals and 11 assists (61% of their goals this season!). Pair the two playmakers, and watch Manchester United soar up the table.

If it happens, consider yourselves lucky to be graced with the ability to wactch the beautiful playmaking skills of two different yet equally tantalizing players.

Toronto FC beats Crew 5-0 to extend unbeaten streak to 8

Twitter/@torontofc
Leave a comment

TORONTO (AP) Victor Vazquez scored twice and Toronto FC routed the Columbus Crew 5-0 on Friday night to extend its unbeaten streak to a franchise record-matching eight games.

[ MORE: Pulisic pleased with U.S. Soccer’s improved landscape ]

Toronto (8-1-5) is 7-0-1 since its lone league loss of the season, a 2-1 decision in Columbus on April 15. Columbus (6-7-1) has lost five of seven since topping Toronto.

Justin Morrow and substitutes Jonathan Osorio and Jordan Hamilton also scored for MLS-leading Toronto. The Canadian team also was unbeaten in eight games (4-0-4) from May 8 to July 10, 2010.

Toronto was reduced to 10 men in the 81st minute when midfielder Marky Delgado was red-carded for a studs-up tackle on Columbus captain Wil Trapp. Osorio and Hamilton then scored to pad the lead for Toronto in its sixth shutout of the season.

Toronto played without the starting forward tandem of Sebastian Giovinco (injured) and Jozy Altidore (suspended for yellow card accumulation). Defender Nick Hagglund also is injured.

Agent: Barcelona offered more than Real for Vinicius Junior

Buda Mendes/Getty Images
Leave a comment

If Vinicius Junior can become half the player at Real Madrid that Neymar has lived up to be at Barcelona, Los Blancos will be pretty pleased.

[ MORE: Man City closing in on Monaco’s Silva ]

Real closed the deal for the 16-year-old Brazilian this week, but there were several other lucrative offers on the table, according to the player’s agent, Frederico Pena.

[ MORE: Totti leaves future uncertain heading into final Roma match ]

That includes bitter Spanish rivals Barcelona.

The agent stated that the Blaugrana did in fact offer a higher deal to acquire the Brazilian, however, he felt it would have complicated matters further to seek a greater offer from Real.

“There is practically unanimous view of the deal as a success,” Pena said. “If anybody gets criticised it is Real Madrid, for the risk they have taken, but they are sure that it will work. There were other clubs interested, and one offered to pay more money … Barca’s remuneration package offer for the player was higher than Real Madrid.

“But as we had reached an agreement with Real, we did not want to make this last push for them to match it. That could have embittered the relationship. Many people think it is crazy what Madrid are doing, but they were not alone in this craziness. They were not the only ones willing to pay this much for Vinicius.”

Pena also clarified as to why Vinicius chose Real over Barcelona, citing the player’s excitement about the development of Los Blancos during recent seasons under manager Zinedine Zidane and prior.

“Because Vinicius liked Madrid’s project better. There is always the feeling that players choose based on financial reasons, but that is not true. I assure you of that. Real Madrid’s negotiating posture was better.”

Real is on the verge of winning its third UEFA Champions League trophy in the last four seasons as the club prepares to face Juventus in the upcoming final.

Zidane’s men also won La Liga during the 2016/17 campaign.

Pulisic pleased with U.S. Soccer’s improved landscape

Jamie Sabau/Getty Images
Leave a comment

U.S. Soccer has come a long way over the years, and one of the nation’s most promising young players recognizes the progress the United States has made.

[ MORE: Man City acquire Monaco’s Silva after passing medical ]

Christian Pulisic, who plays for Bundesliga side Borussia Dortmund, is one of several young talents that U.S. hopes to finally bring the American men a moment of glory on the biggest of stages — the World Cup.

The 18-year-old has done just about everything a player of his age could do. He’s played in one of the top leagues in the world, appeared in various UEFA Champions League matches and now he’s likely on pace to appear in the 2018 World Cup, assuming the USMNT advances out of CONCACAF World Cup qualifying.

The U.S., who have reached the World Cup during seven straight cycles, have come a long way in a short period of time, and Pulisic is happy with the improving U.S. Soccer landscape.

“It’s been big flaw of ours in the soccer department that a lot of our best athletes go and play other sports,” Pulisic told The Guardian. “But I think young players have seen me, and others, go over to Europe and play in some of the best leagues — and MLS is improving so much too.

“There’s so much potential and I think it’s changing: we’ve had some bigger athletes in the past but I don’t think that defines us anymore.

“We’re going to keep moving forward, developing young players and we’re going to have a really good shot in the next few years.”

During this past Bundesliga season, Pulisic recorded three goals and added six assists for a club that has become well known for its high-powered offensive attack.

Report: Kyle Walker a top target for Manchester City

Paul Gilham/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Manchester City could be looking to bolster its backline further this summer, and the Citizens could turn to Tottenham for help.

[ MORE: Man City closing in on acquiring Monaco’s Silva ]

According to ESPN FC, Pep Guardiola‘s side is growing more and more enamored with Spurs defender Kyle Walker and believes City can acquire the experienced outside back prior to the 2017/18 Premier League season.

With City already losing Pablo Zabaleta and Bacary Sagna since the end of the PL season, Guardiola will have to address the club’s lack of depth at outside back.

Several other big clubs have been considered in the running for Walker’s services, including Chelsea, Manchester United and Bayern Munich.

The 26-year-old has been at White Hart Lane since joining Spurs in 2009 from Sheffield United and has made 222 appearances for the club in that span.