Grading The Deal; The Accession Of Ahmed Musa To Leicester City

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The silly season is fully underway, as club “think tanks” seek to delve into the transfer market and attempt to strengthen their teams going into the new season, while also ensuring that they get the best possible value for money deals in a very competitive and largely inflated global transfer market. We at GSV have taken it upon ourselves to give you a comprehensive breakdown of some transfer deals in our Grading The Deal supplement, an exclusive and comprehensive guide catered towards the purists who seek to know more than the average fan regarding the wheeling’s and dealings in football today. Enjoy!

#TheSuperMarket

Defending English Premier League Champions, Leicester City Football Club, have had to deal with the threat of their league winning side being raided by traditionally bigger clubs; after warding off interest from Arsenal for the signature of last season’s club top scorer, Jamie Vardy, The Foxes watched on in agony as Ngolo Kanté turned down a new deal and eventually chose to join Antonio Conte’s revolution in London. The recent weeks have seen the club’s marquee player, Riyad Mahrez, also turn down an improved deal from Leicester and angle for a move to a much bigger club, with Arsenal said to be leading the chase; the rumour mill has continued to tick with news of players leaving the club, as Jeffrey Schlupp and Ben Chilwell have both been courted by Premier League clubs in recent weeks.

Enter Ahmed Musa, the club’s record signing ,and a player that has the ability to make up for much of the losses Leicester have and may still incur, from losing players due to their unforeseen success. The Nigerian attacking dynamo nearly came close to signing for The Foxes in the January transfer window, but a reported £23m bid was rejected by CSKA Moscow, who he then helped guide to their 3rd league title in the last 4 seasons, with a 17 goal haul in all competitions. Securing the services of a young elite level talent like Ahmed Musa for a truly laughable fee of £16m, in today’s transfer climate, is another example of the great business done by Leicester City in recent years. The former CSKA & VVV-Venlo star brings with him a wealth of Champions League experience, to a team that will be in unchartered waters in the coming season; Ahmed has already amassed 24 Champions League appearances thus far in his career, and his expertise will come in handy for The Foxes.

The one undeniable quality Musa brings to Leicester City, apart from his blistering pace, is his ability to play on the flanks, behind the striker & upfront as well; the versatility of The Foxes new addition will afford them with the perfect platform to unleash him in areas where he can be most effective, against specific opposition, in Leicester’s highly effective counter-attacking game. The rise of The Foxes can be witnessed off the field as well, as Ahmed Musa reportedly turned down offers from Everton, Southampton & West Ham United prior to penning his 4 year deal with Leicester City; the one time Arsenal target is overjoyed to be finally fulfilling his dream of emulating childhood idol and friend Nwankwo Kanu, by starring in the Premier League and hopefully going on to become another Nigerian legend in the division.

Ahmed Musa

Bio

DoB: October 14th, 1992 (23)

PoB:  Jos, Plateau State; Nigeria

Nationality: Nigerian

Caps & Goals: 58 Caps, 11 Goals & 6 Assists

Position/s: Inside Forward, Winger, Deep-Lying Forward, Poacher (L/R/C)

Height: 1, 70m

Preferred Foot: Either

Club: Leicester City Football Club

Jersey No: #7

Contract Expiry: June 30th, 2020

Transfer Fee: £16m

Former Club: Jos University Teaching Hospital Football Club (Loan, 2008 – 2009) | Kano Pillars (Loan, 2009 – 2010) | VVV-Venlo (2010 – 2012) | CSKA Moscow (2012 – 2016)

Development Nest: GBS Football Academy (2008 – 2010)

2015/16 Club Stats: 44 Games, 18 Goals & 6 Assists

Total Career Stats: 253 Games, 86 Goals & 41 Assists

GSV Deal Grader: Trevor Benjamin from Cambridge United F.C.  to Leicester City F.C. for £ 1.3m on July 12th, 2000 (3/5)

The Grand Stand View

The former Nigerian Premier League record goalscorer, a record he had set at 17 years of age with 18 goals for Kano Pillars, Ahmed Musa has made great strides in his career thus far; a Nigerian International at 17, after making his debut on August 5th of 2010, Musa has gone onto net 10 further international goals after scoring his 1st for the Super Eagles in March of 2011, as a 17 year old prodigy. It seems almost unfathomable that the diminutive attacking marvel hung up his gloves at age 12, after playing as a keeper since he was 10, to become an infield player that has terrorised shot-stoppers since.

Strengths

One trait that immediately stands out about Ahmed Musa’s game is his electric pace; the lad is well versed in the art of accelerating quickly, while maintaining his top speed and balance, often leaving his marker eating dust when he’s on one of his trademark mazy runs. A technically gifted attacking weapon with bags of tricks to unleash on any marker brave enough to square up against him, Ahmed uses his low centre of gravity to evade opposition defenders with ease; a trait that makes him a commodity in the game today, where players have to work even harder to create space for themselves or their teammates. Agile and capable of running hard for the entire duration of a game, Musa is a player that stays a threat for 90 minutes, and often punishes the opposition late in games as they tire of chasing him about. A consummate finisher, Ahmed Musa knows how to find the back of the net, while also creating his fair share of chances for his teammates as well.

Weaknesses

The one downside to playing Ahmed Musa on the flanks is his lack of an end product as it pertains to crossing or looking to pick out better positioned teammates 1st, prior to digging into his bag of tricks to create a better chance for himself to score. The lack of composure in the final third is rather surprising, for a player with the goal & assist tally that Ahmed boasts, something he will have to improve upon as he acclimatises to life In the Premier League. Despite being naturally diminutive, Musa will need to strengthen his body, if he is to truly succeed in a fiercely competitive league; his all action game and trickery will naturally invite tougher treatment from opposition defenders, and a stronger body will be crucial to remaining fit for each battle.

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Grading The Deal; The Laudable Lewis Cook to AFC Bournemouth

Lewis Cook (YPOTY)

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The silly season is fully underway, as club “think tanks” seek to delve into the transfer market and attempt to strengthen their teams going into the new season, while also ensuring that they get the best possible value for money deals in a very competitive and largely inflated global transfer market. We at GSV have taken it upon ourselves to give you a comprehensive breakdown of some transfer deals in our Grading The Deal supplement, an exclusive and comprehensive guide catered towards the purists who seek to know more than the average fan regarding the wheeling’s and dealings in football today. Enjoy!

#TheSuperMarket

Leeds United Football Club can hang their hat on the club’s youth development academy’s ability to produce elite level ready young talents, many of whom often go onto have successful professional football careers in the game. Lewis Cook has followed Sam Byram by joining an ambitious English Premier League club after earning his stripes at Leeds United, while Byram chose to sign for West Ham United in January of 2016, Lewis watched on in agony as his move to The Cherries fell-through at the eleventh hour, when odds looked on for him to join Benik Afobe as the other hot English prospect signing for AFC Bournemouth. Eddie Howe is said to be a keen admirer of Lewis Cook and what he brings to the table, having scouted the wunderkind on numerous occasions over the course of last season, Cook will have been reassured of the opportunities he will have to further his development, in a team that seems perfectly suited to his dynamic game play.

Lewis Cook has made great strides in his relatively young professional career thus far, the lad has progressed in many regards due to regular first team exposure at a highly competitive level; while his potential ceiling remains extremely high, many have questioned just how far he could be in his development, were it not for having to play under 7 coaches during his time in the Leeds United first team, a spell that coincides with the rule of enigmatic & controversial Leeds United manager axing owner Massimo Cellino. A fresh start, and the lure of stability, in a culture that is not too dissimilar to what Leeds United have been aspiring to recreate within their illustrious club, will only serve Lewis Cook well as he continues to develop into the world-class talent he promises to become.

The departure of Matt Ritchie to Newcastle United for £12m had created a void in the Bournemouth midfield, Lewis Cook’s experience playing in multiple positions, and his effectiveness in different roles, garnered from playing differing systems, will have been great preparation for his new challenge in a team that looks to play their passing game while also adapting their structure to combat specific opposition threats. In Lewis Cook, AFC Bournemouth have secured the services of one of the hottest young prospects in English football, the transition from Championship to Premier League level will not necessarily be easy or without obstacles, but the structure in place at the club should allow the transition to be one that only progresses Lewis Cook’s development.

Lewis Cook

Bio

Full Name: Lewis John Cook

DoB: February 3rd, 1997 (19)

PoB: York, North Yorkshire; England

Nationality: English

Caps & Goals: u/16, 5 Caps | u/17, 15 Caps | u/18, 1 Cap | u/19, 9 Caps

Position/s: Deep-Lying Playmaker, Box-To-Box Midfielder, Attacking Midfielder, Advanced Playmaker, Trequartista, Inside Forward, Winger (L/R/C)

Height: 1, 75m

Preferred Foot: Right

Club: A.F.C. Bournemouth

Jersey No: Not Yet Assigned

Contract Expiry: June 30th, 2020

Transfer Fee: £6m + add-ons up to £10m

Former Club: Leeds United Football Club (2014-2016)

Development Nest: Leeds United Youth Academy (2004-2014)

2015/16 Club Stats: 47 Games, 2 Goals & 3 Assists

Total Career Stats: 85 Games, 2 Goals & 5 Assists

GSV Deal Grader: Matt Holland from West Ham United FC to A.F.C. Bournemouth on a Free Transfer in 1994 (4/5)

The Grand Stand View

Leeds United gaffer Garry Monk had withdrawn Cook from the England u/19 squad to compete in the 2016 UEFA European u/19 Championship, as he looked to work with the young starlet for a full pre-season, a decision that could eventually come back to benefit Eddie Howe and his Bournemouth side in the coming season, as they now have enough time to get Lewis up to pace with his new teammates. The England youth international was one of the talented young players who went onto win the 2014 UEFA European Championship in Malta; Lewis Cook is also one of the few players from that successful side to progress into fully fledged professionals, after that breakthrough tournament for many in the team, something that may translate into progress at the senior national team level over time, and with great effort invested.

Strengths

Dynamic young attacking English talents with potential world-class ability often catch the eye, due mainly to the rarity of such talents in English football, Lewis Cook is blessed with that almost unEnglish ability to take on players with his dribbling ability, and create space to be exploited simply via his ability to beat his marker 1v1. Blessed with a high level of creativity, to compliment his impressive technical gifts, Cook uses his attacking gifts extremely well and his movement on and off the ball allows him to remain a constant threat in midfield. While his final product still needs some work, Lewis has the ability to distribute the ball well at the elite level, and create attacking opportunities for his side when he goes on one of his mazy runs, that often destabilise opposition defensive lines.

Weaknesses

The lack of consistency in playing one specific role, where he can acclimate to playing for a prolonged period of time, has hurt Lewis in many ways; while the lad is blessed with the potential to do magical things on the ball, his decision making and anticipation of in-game situations has to improve, if he is to fully translate his potential into regular displays of elite level ability in the Premier League. Final product is a great issue of concern for many gifted young players, the pace of football today is prone to expose a player’s lack of composure or execution, now that one has even less time on the ball; Lewis Cook has to work on his final ball or action in attack, his assists and goals tally is not a true reflection of his ability as a player. If Lewis Cook is to eventually progress into playing his more naturally suited role of the deep-lying playmaker, his tackling and anticipation of space on the defensive end will also need to be worked on, yet there is no denying that the lad has many of the intangible gifts truly needed to flourish in a role that he has all the attacking traits to star in at the elite level.

Grading The Deal; The Resplendence of Riyaad Norodien to Orlando Pirates

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The silly season is fully underway, as club “think tanks” seek to delve into the transfer market and attempt to strengthen their teams going into the new season, while also ensuring that they get the best possible value for money deals in a very competitive and largely inflated global transfer market. We at GSV have taken it upon ourselves to give you a comprehensive breakdown of some transfer deals in our Grading The Deal supplement, an exclusive and comprehensive guide catered towards the purists who seek to know more than the average fan regarding the wheeling’s and dealings in football today. Enjoy!

#TheSuperMarket

The almost inexplicable rarity of a young talent bursting onto the scene as a teenager, earning the respect and accolades that some seasoned professionals retire without receiving, while managing to remain grounded and continue to grow at a progressive rate is something many South Africans all too familiar with. Yet every once in a while, the stars align for some of those “once in a generation” talents that transcend the norm and create a new plateau to be broken; the rise & rise of Riyaad Norodien has been spectacular to witness, the Ajax CT youth graduate has quickly established himself as one of the premier young talents in South African football, due to the great strides he has continued to make in his development since bursting onto the scene as a teen.

Riyaad made us all sit and take note of him towards the end of the 2014/15 season, where gaffer Roger De Sa looked to prepare the squad for the eminent departure of Keagan Dolly to Mamelodi Sundowns at the end of the season; the loss of one key player created an opportunity for a youth graduate to step in and continue the club’s proud tradition of promoting talent from within when there is an opportunity to do so. Riyaad stepped up to the elite level and took his opportunity with both hands and feet; after overcoming off-field troubles in the form of a legal battle with the club, Norodien seemed to use the platform as an opportunity to prove that he was good enough to be a professional, and now he has earned a move to an even more illustrious club as a reward for his perseverance and dedication to progression.

The transfer became one of the worst kept secrets of the transfer window, after news was leaked of the deal being announced as part of a dual-swoop on Ajax Cape Town by Bucs, that also included Abbubaker Mobara, who seemed to have his sights set on filling the vacancy at right-back, created by the departure of Ramahlwe Mphahlele, in the Mamelodi Sundowns side. Riyaad is said to be overjoyed to be linking up with gaffer Mushin Ertuğral, a keen admirer of young talents and enterprising attacking football, Mushin also happens to be the man that promoted Riyaad into the 1st team setup at Ajax when he was Head Coach. The great rapport between player and coach will assist Norodien in acclimatising to life at a club of Pirates’ stature, something that will be key if the lad is to avoid the fate that has befallen many a talented youngster, that moved to a big club and failed to receive the necessary tutelage to convert potential into regular displays of elite level ability. Orlando Pirates have now elected themselves to be entrusted with the responsibility of developing Riyaad Norodien into the top-class talent that his potential promises he will be, as custodians of such a great talent, the organisation can reap great rewards if they invest wisely in his development into the player we know he can become.

Riyaad Norodien

Bio

DoB: March 26th, 1995 (21)

PoB: Kensington, Cape Town; Western Cape

Nationality: South African

Caps & Goals: u/23 International | 3 Caps

Position/s: Attacking Midfielder, Advanced Playmaker, Trequartista, Inside Forward, Winger (L/R/C)

Height: 1, 68m

Preferred Foot: Either

Club: Orlando Pirates Football Club

Jersey No: #95

Former Club: Ajax Cape Town Football Club

Development Nest: Ajax Cape Town Youth Development

2015/16 Club Stats: 28 Games, 1 Goal & 5 Assists

Total Career Stats: 34 Games, 3 Goals & 5 Assists

GSV Deal Grader: Steve Lekoelea from Moroka Swallows to Orlando Pirates in of 1997 (4/5)

Orlando Pirates are a club that love their good attacking players, and Riyaad Norodien will provide the club with something many South African teams tend to lack, a natural left-sided player that brings dimension to the offensive unit by providing a different angle for deliveries or shooting chances in attack. The competition for starting places at a team like Orlando Pirates will always be tight, regardless of the phase the team is in; during this minor rebuild, players will be even more incentivised to prove their quality and readiness to fight for an opportunity to play regularly. Riyaad Norodien brings a unique set of abilities that are tailor-made to allow him to flourish in a thriving Orlando Pirates side, the youngster could go down in history as one of the best players to wear the Bucs jersey in the modern era once all is said and done.

Strengths

Skilful players are a dime a dozen in South Africa, yet we still find it hard to develop our dribbling wizards into technically gifted professionals that also possess the physical and tactical dexterity needed to excel at the elite level. Riyaad Norodien is an outrageously gifted technical footballer that seems able to do whatever he wishes on the ball, the playmaker has the ability to weave his way out of tight situations and beat his marker with relative ease. When you consider his high talent ceiling and the incredible scope for growth he is blessed with, one cannot help but feel as if Riyaad is perfectly positioned to become a genuine star in the coming seasons for club and country. A nimble midfielder with the pace to out gas most defenders in the league, Norodien has the ability to be effective on and off the ball, something that marks him out as a premier attacking outlet in the making.

Weaknesses

Great ability is nothing without the mental aptitude to apply oneself towards using those God given gifts to the best of one’s ability, Riyaad’s mentality was questioned when he took his former employer to court in an attempt to server ties with the club and seek gainful employment elsewhere. The determination he showed to overcome those obstacles is commendable, but now the spotlight will be on how he handles the pressure of playing for such a prestigious club. One weakness most modern players make is reading too much into media reports, and often using those very same outlets and channels to get themselves into trouble by saying something that is almost always taken out of context. Riyaad will need to show more control of his overall business as a player, in a city where the media cycle and supporter interest is double what he was experiencing in Cape Town, we would like to read about Riyaad as it pertains to his on-field exploits and not what may be occurring off the field and affecting his image as a promising young star for the future.

Grading The Deal; The Grandeur of Granit Xhaka to Arsenal

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The silly season is fully underway, as club “think tanks” seek to delve into the transfer market and attempt to strengthen their teams going into the new season, while also ensuring that they get the best possible value for money deals in a very competitive and largely inflated global transfer market. We at GSV have taken it upon ourselves to give you a comprehensive breakdown of some transfer deals in our Grading The Deal supplement, an exclusive and comprehensive guide catered towards the purists who seek to know more than the average fan regarding the wheeling’s and dealings in football today. Enjoy!

#TheSuperMarket

Arsène Wenger is a man that developed a blueprint to winning titles in England, refined it and made an art form out of its intricacy, before discarding the model for one that was based on the Tiki-Taka era that blossomed before reaching its plateau and fading out in popularity and effectiveness. The largely unflattering season past seems to have reignited a fire in Le Professor’s belly, a fire that has seemed to coincide with what can only be the result of a nostalgic wine induced trip down memory lane with the Missus, one that lead to him digging in the attic and dusting off his “master plan for success”. The pre-Tiki-Taka Arsenal were a combative, yet technical football side, that could play as pretty as they could mix it up, and get stuck in if need be; that flexibility allowed Wenger to showcase his tactical dexterity, by making subtle changes in-game without having to totally move certain players out of position, or sacrifice the balance or functionality of the team, in an attempt to attain the desired outcome.

The current Arsenal squad is largely undersized when compared to the more bullish big EPL sides like Chelsea, Manchester City or Manchester United, who over the years have sampled that formula hatched by Wenger, to build combative yet attacking sides, that won games and titles with more regularity than the more aesthetically pleasing Arsenal led by Wenger. From Emmanuel Petit and Patrick Vieira to Gilberto Silva and Patrick Vieira, a thriving Arsenal side under Wenger has always been built around two physical, yet technical central midfield players, that form the heart of the team and offer balance on both sides of the ball. Le Prof seems to be returning to those deep roots, judging by his last two transfers. Mohamed Elneny came in as a much needed buy in January, and the industrious Egyptian has already won over many fans with his tenacious approach on the defensive end, while his propensity to take a pop from range has him marked as a future terrace favourite in the making. The arrival of Elneny has been followed up with yet another physical yet technically gifted former FC Basel 1893 midfield player, a lad who may just be the long awaited replacement for Patrick Vieira that many Gooners have prayed for, in more ways than one. Granit Xhaka could be the type of player Arsenal fans have been yearning for in their quest to reaffirm themselves as one of the elite clubs in English and World football, the squad knows that they can go a long way towards fulfilling their undoubted potential by winning a major piece of silverware or two for Wenger before he hangs up his faulty zipper having winter coat.

Granit Xhaka

Bio

Full Name: Granit Xhaka

DoB: September 27th, 1992 (23)

PoB: Basel; Switzerland

Nationalities: Albanian, Swiss

Caps & Goals: 47 Caps, 6 Goals & 5 Assists

Position/s: Ball-Winning Midfielder, Deep-Lying Playmaker, Attacking Midfielder, Advanced Playmaker, Trequartista, Inside Forward, Winger (L/R/C)

Height: 1, 85m

Preferred Foot: Left

Club: Arsenal FC

Jersey No: #29

Former Clubs: FC Basel 1893 (2010-2012), Borussia Mönchengladbach (2012-2016)

Development Nest/s: Concordia Basel (2000-2002), FC Basel Youth (2002-2010)

Transfer Fee: £30m + add-ons

Wage: £120k p/w

Contract Expiry: June 30th, 2019 + 1 Year Renewal Option

2015/16 Club Stats: 36 Games, 3 Goals, 2 Assists, 7 Yellow Cards, 2 Double Yellow/Red Cards & 1 Red Card

Total Career Stats: 207 Games, 12 Goals, 15 Assists, 45 Yellow Cards, 5 Double Yellow/Reds & 1 Red Card

GSV Deal Grader: Patrick Vieira to Arsenal from Inter Milan on August 14th, 1996 for £3.5m (5/5)

Signing Granit Xhaka is a sign of intent from Arsenal, the former Gladbach skipper brings leadership traits and a physical prowess that has been sorely missed at London Colney; Xhaka may take a few months to fully adapt to the style of play at Arsenal, yet he seems like a long-term replacement for the pivotal Santi Cazorla in the deep-lying playmaker role. Xhaka affords Wenger more flexibility in tactical outlook and personnel selection, it wouldn’t come as a surprise to see the team change formations more often in the coming season, as Wenger looks to get the best out of an already talented midfield group, one that can be said to have underachieved given the plethora of talent battling for the 5 starting positions.

A combative, yet intelligent midfield general, with a good eye for the pass and an instinctive positional sense that allows him to keep the midfield ticking over on both sides of the ball, Granit Xhaka has all the tools required to develop into an elite level regista for Arsenal and Switzerland.

Strengths

Granit may have played in a more direct system at Gladbach, yet he has always been the player who starts most attacking moves, with a decisive pass or a defensive line shifting run. An average passing accuracy of 85%, with an average pass length of 20m, in the 2015/16 season, proves that Xhaka will not necessarily take too long adapting to the constant passing demanded in an Arsenal side; Granit is well adept at looking to play with his head up and look for the forward pass first, before going sideways or backwards to retain possession if the pass is not on, this trait makes him akin to Santi Cazorla in many ways, and that places him in good stead for the future in an Arsenal jersey. An 81% success rate in take-ons, 30 out of 37 attempted, is a testament to the brilliant combination of guile and strength that is Granit Xhaka; the midfield general is well versed in the art of breaking from deep in midfield, ala-Aaron Ramsey or Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, and forcing the opposition defenders to break out of shape to halt him, it’s on such runs that Granit makes his living, picking out teammates with pinpoint through-passes.

Weaknesses

A return of 3 goals in 28 games during the previous campaign is a poor showing for such a talented midfield player, Xhaka will have to up his goal tally and aim for double figures in all competitions if he seeks to be an upgrade to the players he seeks to play over regularly; Arsenal have largely failed to reach the lofty heights of the great Wenger sides before them, due to a drought of goals from midfield, where they used to get a steady supply in the past from players like Marc Overmars, Robert Pirès, Fredrik Ljunberg, Patrick Vieira, Sylvain Wiltord & Ray Parlour. It’s worth noting how Xhaka had a 48% shot accuracy for Gladbach in the 2015/16 season; as a technically gifted player with a powerful shot on him, the Basel born star can expect to get tons of encouragement from the terraces to have a pop from range when there is an opening for him to shoot on sight, something that seems to be currently largely unencouraged from within the team.

For a deep-lying playmaker ,with good positional sense and a frame that allows him to compete with the best of them, Granit Xhaka still seems a tad bit naïve in some defensive situations, and that will be something which has to be worked on, if Arsenal aren’t going to stop turning-over the ball in midfield as often as they do; a 41% success-rate in tackles, 49 out of 121 attempted, is also not flattering for a player that carries so much defensive responsibility in the double-pivot. Xhaka has also seemingly unfairly developed the tag of being a hot-headed player, due to his determination to succeed, coupled with his inability to time tackles as well as he should, much like a modern age Paul Scholes. The lad is maturing with each season, and his defensive game can only improve when playing in a side that forces defenders to earn their keep more often than not, due to their more expansive style of play and obvious defensive fragilities.