A change of the guard?




Cristiano Ronaldo might want to think twice about which way he’s facing when he bends over to perfect the position of a dead ball at some point at Westfalenstadion tonight; he’ll be closely inspected by the creepy yet menacing binocular clad character that Borussia Dortmund have employed to help them ‘On the trail of the lost cup’.

Dortmund’s one and only Champions League success came in 1997, and they have come no closer than tonight’s semi-final first leg tie against Real Madrid to reclaiming their lost and forgotten title as champions of Europe.

In the midst of last night’s result in Munich, the talk will be of ‘A change in the guard’ of European football, but there aren’t two teams who will be more desperate to make sure that honour does not end up in Munich.

The charismatic Jurgen Klopp has breathed life into a BVB side that slipped into mediocrity for almost a decade after their 2002 Bundesliga championship win, and they may well have the psychological edge tonight, having beat Madrid in the corresponding fixture when the two sides met in this year’s group stages.

Klopp’s popularity in Germany is unrivalled; like a mad-scientist who can’t quite believe he has found the formula to success, he is honest and grounded, and the fact that his team includes several young home-grown talents playing attractive football saw his side tipped as outside favourites to reach the latter stages of this year’s Champions League.

Klopp’s announcement that he has known about Mario Gotze’s pending move to Bayern since the triumph over Malaga a fortnight ago proves he is confident of his team’s ability to continue with their golden boy this year, and without him next season.

It was inevitable that Dortmund would lose one of their assets this summer, the key for them now is to ensure that they do not lose anybody else, most importantly Klopp, who could very easily be caught up in a managerial marry-go-round if the likes of Mourinho and Mancini move on.

The BVB boss did voice his distress at the timing of the announcement, but was quick to tell of his gratitude towards what is destined to be a special marriage between Bayern, Guardiola and Gotze, the lovechild.

There is still at least 270 minutes of football to be played at the semi-final stage before we see all-German final and the potential birth of what is being billed as a new era for German football.

Jose Mourinho has other ideas. His long term future is far from clear but the Portuguese has announced that he expects his side to reach the final and lift the Champions League trophy that they deserve.

Madrid all but gave up the La Liga title months ago, but Mourinho has made his priorities very clear, and another European triumph will tee him up nicely for his next challenge, wherever he feels that may be.

His ego will be further boosted by the fact that Jupp Heynckes employed a Mourinho-esque approach to mastermind last night’s demolition of Barcelona, pressing high up the pitch, breaking quickly through Ribery and Robben and exploiting Barca’s physical deficiency at set pieces. But worryingly Bayern looked better than Real ever have against a Barcelona side teetering on the edge of surrendering European dominance.

We could talk about Barcelona, but there is no fun in discussing the demise of one the best teams to grace the history of the game, only a fool would go on record saying that the Catalan’s are done. The momentum lies with Bayern and history tells you Real will come into their own and find a route to the final, but the dream lives on Westphalia.

Football has produced countless stories of fairy-tale endings and will continue to do so; tonight is a chance for Europe’s sleeping giant to rise again and prove that their emergence at the summit of this years ‘Group of Death’ was by no means the luck of the underdog, but the beginning of a famous operation to move out of the shadow of their more wealthy and prestigious Munich cousins, and in doing so, retain the ‘Lost Cup’ of 1997.



James Rodriguez | Scout Report

James Rodriguez has been attracting the attention of Manchester United


NAME: James Rodriguez

AGE: 21 (12th July, 1991)

BORN: Cucuta, Colombia



In the midst of Manchester United’s interest in Porto’s James Rodriguez, extra:time gets the lowdown on the winger, after months of conclusive scouting missions from our contingent of international scouts.


Nine seasons ago Sir Alex Ferguson sent out a team of scouts to run the rule over a young player causing a stir in European circles, whilst playing for Sporting Lisbon in Portugal’s Primeira Liga. That player turned out to be Cristiano Ronaldo, who was transferred to Old Trafford in what was to become one of the steals of the century. Four years later Sir Alex sent out the same scouting network to look at another young Portuguese winger from the same club. Consequently, Luis Nani was signed for a reported €25 million.

Now, as we approach the January transfer market, United are supposedly circling their third import of the Ronaldo mould, in the form of Porto’s 21-year-old Rodriguez.

It has been reported that United scouted the Porto winger  on Sunday – to make it the seventh time they have watched him in recent times. United scouts watched from the stands as the 21-year-old Colombian forward score against Academica de Coimbra.

It is clear the type of player that Sir Alex is hoping to unearth, with a blueprint being created by the world beater that has become Cristiano Ronaldo.

We all know about Ronaldo, and few of us believed that Nani had the quality to step into his compatriots shoes and out of his shadow. He failed to do so in the immediate aftermath of Ronaldo’s departure but 2010/2011 saw his form rocket as he dazzled with his trickery and abundance of assists, particularly for Wayne Rooney. However Nani has since lost his place to the more consistent Antonio Valencia, and an on-going contract saga means he may well be on his way out.

Cue James Rodriguez. The 21-year-old wide-man, who could also play anywhere in attack, has long been heralded as one of South America’s finest young prospects.

The left-footed attacker has predictably been compared to Ronaldo by the Portuguese media, but off the pitch reports from within suggest that his mannerisms are very much more in keeping with Lionel Messi, a characteristic that will be music to the ears of the Old Trafford backroom staff, who have had to deal with the ‘playboy samba boys’ of Ronaldo, Anderson and Nani in recent years.

He has been described as tirelessly energetic and won’t shy away from the dirty-work of tracking back for defensive duties. This season he has managed 7 goals from 14 appearances and has maintained an impressive pass completion of 87.7% of the course of those games according to stats from (WhoScored.com).

‘James’, the name which embellishes the back of his Porto jersey, is far from the finished product, but if anyone has an inkling for raw talent, it is Sir Alex. Note Cantona, Beckham, Giggs and Ronaldo as players he has nurtured into heroes of the Theatre of Dreams.

The Columbian will offer a more enthused option to the marginalised Nani, and an equally reliable outlet on the opposite flank to Valencia. His positional flexibility will also be a selling point for Ferguson, who likes to set up with a fluid supporting cast behind his leading man. Rodriguez has shown the ability to play a more central No.10 role, and has done so to great effect for Porto on several occasions.

Being part of what is being considered to be a new era for Columbia is another string that Rodriguez has to his bow. The Columbians are fast becoming the dark horses of South American football, much in the way that Belgium have emerged with what is being dubbed a golden generation of youngsters in Europe.

Playing in the same side of the much coveted Ramadel Falcao, Inter’s Fredy Guarin, Cristian Zapata and fellow starlet Luis Muriel will give him the ideal platform to prove himself on the international stage.

Much is to be seen in the coming weeks but as the new year approaches there is no doubt that speculation regarding a move to Old Trafford will intensify, as United seek to beat their European rivals and unearth the latest gem from Portugal.



Just a Mata of time.

Juan Mata can be the key to Chelsea’s title push this season

Chelsea’s defeat to Manchester United on Sunday was their first of the season, and one that came just as The Blues had settled into a flamboyant style brimming with the confidence that they could beat any opposition they came up against.

The attacking trio of Eden Hazard, Oscar and Juan Mata have characterized the transformation under Roberto Di Matteo, who have been phased in as the favoured three in their 4-2-3-1 formation, largely at the expense of Frank Lampard.

extra:time has already discussed the role of the attacking midfielder using the case of Marouane Fellaini to prove that one size doesn’t always fit all, and Chelsea’s star performer so far this season would probably fit snugly into the giant Belgian’s famous fro.

Juan Mata has been the standout performer of the Chelsea’s trio of magicians, having both a successful debut season in the Premier League and a couple of years’ experience in the game over his two creative compatriots.

The trio have shown the versatility and understanding to interchange freely during play, a license that has clearly liberated the Spaniard, who is most dangerous when he buzzes around a more central no.10 position.

The attacker has picked where he left off last season, with five assists and four goals in his last five games, reflecting how the team is progressing as it gels, especially as the attacking quartet begin to build the all-important chemistry that is required in such a fluid attacking style.

The surprising thing is that he has continued to be overlooked for the Spanish national squad by Vincent Del Bosque, who has opted for the likes of Santi Cazorla, Pedro and Jesus Navas this time round.

Mata has proved his pedigree at international level and his goals to games ratio speaks for itself having scored an impressive 29 goals in 66 appearances, equalling a goal every 2.27 games from the U16 squad to the senior team.

The general notion over his selection is that the ex-Valencia man would not make the starting XI anyhow, with the likes of Andres Iniesta, Pedro, David Silva and Cesc Fabregas having maintained a monopoly over the Spanish attacking positions.

But Mata will believe he can first regain his spot in that squad and then push on and prove himself as a world class talent alongside those mentioned above, and there is no better way for him to do that than for him to be the man who engineers a title challenge from outside of Manchester.

No rest for the wicked?

Depending on your knowledge of the game, you might describe Liverpool’s attacking performance at Carrow Road on Saturday afternoon as ‘wicked’, or you might opt for a more technical football description and say that the Reds displayed a mature understanding of the tiki-taka philosophy, and note that in doing so spent large chunks of the game resting in possession of the ball.

If you consider yourself to to qualify for the latter criteria, go ahead, read on, and enjoy. If not, it might be better that you stop here, pick up a copy of the S*n, and figure out if your latest accumulator has come in.

Anyway..back to the game.

The visitors made life look easy in possession, knocking the ball effortlessly around the Norwich midfield, much to the torment of Bradley Johnson and Jonny Howson, who were outnumbered and outclassed in the middle of the park.

The midfield trio ran like clockwork with their short intricate passing, forming an upside-down triangle, with Joe Allen dictating from the base as Gerrard and Sahin adopted advanced roles.

Dare I say it but Nuri Sahin looks to have the elegance and composure of a certain bygone Spanish passmaster, and a couple of his goals have been reminiscent of  the ones Cesc Fabregas scored so often, ghosting into the penalty area for an simple tap in.

This was a very attacking approach, but it paid off to devastating effect as Norwich failed to adapt to the ‘multiple lines of passing’ created by Rodgers’ team,   as they themselves set-up in a rigid 4-4-2 formation.

Liverpool’s authority in the middle of the park swung the tide in their favour, but it was their potency in the final third where the game was won, as Luis Suarez buzzed doggedly around the feet of Norwich’s giant defensive duo.

Every flick, swivel and nutmeg the Uruguayan attempted came off perfectly, and there is no doubt Barnett and Turner will have opted for Jonathan Ross over Match of the Day on Saturday night.

Suarez was flanked by Raheem Sterling and Suso, who both offered attacking poise, getting into great positions and dragging defenders to offer more space to their centrepiece magician. Both look a natural fit for Rodgers’ style and the focus will be to tie both to long term contracts. Add Andre Wisdom to that list because the athletic defender has looked solid defensively and very composed in possession in his three starts so far, of which he boasts a 100% win rate and a debut goal.

Back to Suarez, though, because his performance on Saturday mirrored that of a certain fellow South-American wizard who has defined a new position in the tactical blueprint that Rodgers is trying to implement at Anfield.

Suarez played as a ‘False 9’ against Norwich, dropping deep to collect the ball, finding his two advanced attacking partners and finishing patient team moves in the same way that Lionel Messi has done for Barcelona. There has never been any doubt as to whether Suarez has the technical ability to perform such a role, but his shot-to-goal ratio was one of the main factors behind Liverpools 8th place position last time round.

It is a problem that he is working hard to improve, and the fact is it is still work in progress, as he again missed an easy opportunity after being put through one on one by Daniel Agger, only to steer his shot well wide.

The difference with Suarez, though, is his constant tenacity and determination shown through his seemingly endeavoured mission to shake off the shady persona which blighted his every touch at certain away games last year, and prove himself as a world class footballer to the English fans.

Seconds after missing that chance, Suarez robbed the ball off Micheal Turner, nutmegged him and curled the ball into the corner of the net with the outside of his right boot.

Suarez clearly has confidence in his own ability but it is his blue-collar work ethic which will prove to be the most important lesson for Liverpool’s exciting crop of youngsters, and the catalyst for the push for the Champions League football that their star man deserves.

Who says good things come in small packages?


They say that good things come in small packages, and never has that been more true than in the case of the modern day trequartista, with the coetaneous rise of the likes of the Spanish trio Andres Iniesta, David Silva and Santi Cazorla and of course, the majestic Lionel Messi.

This season has seen the emergence of a new kind of support forward in the mould of Everton’s giant Belgian, Marouane Fellaini. The frizzy haired midfielder-turned-forward has been in scintillating form at the heart of the Toffee’s impressive start to the season, chipping in with three goals and one assist in the opening five games of the campaign.

Fellaini was unleashed into his advanced role in the Everton attack in their first game of the season against Manchester Utd, where he gave the makeshift centre-half Micheal Carrick a more uncomfortable evening than he could have imagined.

Working in tandem alongside a more familiarly framed attacking midfielder, Steven Peinaar and a tenacious poacher in Nikica Jelavic, Fellaini has managed to perform a dual-role at the heart of a re-invented Everton forward line.

When Everton are chasing possession Fellaini shuttles back as a third central midfielder to support the likes of Darron Gibson and Phil Neville, and when in possession, he becomes the support-forward and the focal point of Everton’s attacks.

Leighton Baines seems to have fitted a GPS into his left boot as he picks out the Belgian’s prominent bonnet, and increasingly his chest, for a deft touch or flick on to one of his attacking partners.

Fellaini’s obvious ariel presence in the 18-yard-box is matched by his uncanny technical ability with the ball at his feet and back to goal when he escapes his man in the final-third in the sort of positions that Santi Cazorla and Shinji Kagawa have been signed to do so.

Aston Villa and Swansea have since failed to deal with the rangy forward, and much credit should be hauled in the direction of David Moyes, who has tactfully employed his record signing in a number of positions right through the core of his team.

Fellaini is not the only so-called ‘trequartista’ to break the diminutive mould which has become almost synonymous with the position, with the emergence of Swansea’s herculean Spanish forward Michu and his predecessor Gylfi Sigurdsson crashing onto the Premier League scene, as well as the deployment of  the colossal Yaya Toure in an advanced midfield role for Manchester City.

Promoters of the Spanish style and technical purists will claim that ideal candidates for midfield and forward roles in a given XI will possess the centre of gravity and guile required to advocate their football philosophy, but the fact of the matter is, the Premier League is a rough and tumble playground, and a player like Fellaini will strike fear into the most accomplished of defences, even on the most sodden of September afternoons.



There’s method in the magic at Swansea.

There’s something uniquely Mediterranean in the air on the west coast of Wales at the moment, as Sam Allardyce and Co found out on their visit to The Liberty stadium on Saturday.

The ‘Swanselona’ brand has established itself as a household name, Micheal Laudrup has seemingly advocated the work done by his predecessor, bringing with him three imports from La Liga, who have slotted into the side seamlessly, and in the case of forward Michu, to scintillating effect. The Swans new home kit even bares a stark resemblance to the legendary jersey donned by Real Madrid’s untouchables at The Bernabeu.

Laudrup has highlighted the intention for ‘evolution’ rather than ‘revolution’ despite the departures of key figures in Gylfi Sigurdsson, Joe Allen and Scott Sinclair. The record signing of Ki Sung-Yueng from Celtic is a real show of intent, and an indicator that Huw Jenkins is ready to back Laudrup in order to establish themselves as every football fan’s ‘second team’ in the top flight.

Swansea have found the net eight times without reply in their opening two games of the campaign, and talk of a collapse in the aftermath of the loss of Brendan Rodgers and Joe Allen to Liverpool has been swiftly quashed.

Saturday’s fixture provided the ideal opportunity to showcase that intent to the Swansea faithful, and the home side delivered the message emphatically.

Swansea dominated possession in a way that we have come to expect of them, and so Michel Vorm and the back four enjoyed a relatively simple afternoon in the assertive decimation of West Ham’s inadequate defensive display.

Right-back Angel Rangel even got in on the act when he surged forward and found himself in the 18-yard-box, punting a cross-shot across the six yard box which squirmed under Jussi Jaaskelainen and into the back of the net in the 20th minute.

The lively Michu doubled the lead nine minutes later when the capitalised on a lapse in concentration from James Collins, picking up the defender’s short back-pass and slotting home his third goal of the season.

Danny Graham completed the rout in the 64th minute after a breakback Swansea move ended in Nathan Dyer clipping back for the forward to tap home.

Dyer and Routledge’s pace and trickery open up space for the likes of Michu and Graham, with the latter finding himself rapidly developing into the type of striker who finds himself in the right place at the right time, a real poacher.

Leon Britton looks set to continue his good work from last year, and is the cog that keeps the short and sharp passing machine ticking smoothly, the unsung hero of an increasingly fashionable side. Alongside him, Jonathan De Guzman brings a cultured range of passing and a dead ball specialist. New signing Ki Sung-Yueng is more of a box-to-box midfielder and will offer dynamism, tenacity and physical presence in the middle of the park, when the Swans are forced adapt to a more direct and physical style, something they were criticised for in their debut season in the top flight.

If Swansea can keep playing with such style and finesse, their evolution from exciting Championship ball players to tiki-taka masters could provide a blueprint for ambitious teams to come.

5 strikers to turn Spurs into title challengers.


Andres Villas-Boas has already bought in Jan Vertonghen and Gylfi Sigurdsson this summer, and last week tied up the permanent acquisition of Emmanuel Adebayor from Manchester City.

Adebayor and Defoe offer two very different options, but neither scream goals at me and I cant remember the last time a team had a successful season fighting on four fronts with only two senior strikers at their disposal.

Jermain Defoe started the season with a goal in Saturday’s defeat to Newcastle, but he alone cannot be relied upon for what will be a lengthy season, as Spurs’ fight on four fronts for silverware.

The sale of Luka Modric to the Bernabeu means that AVB has cash at his disposal, and I think with £30 million he will be looking to add goals to his side.

Villas-Boas will no doubt be working through a shopping list, headed by a series of prolific goal-scorers who fit the gaping hole of an almost complete jigsaw at White Hart Lane.

1. Edinson Cavani

The Uruguayan international is the complete forward and has underlined his pedigree by spearheading Napoli’s rise to the Serie A elite and Champions League regulars in the past two years.

His combination play with the likes of Marek Hamsik and Ezequiel Lavezzi have proven pivotal to the Naples club, but with the latter leaving for Paris Saint Germain this summer, Cavani may feel the time is right to take the next step and spend his peak years in the midst of the Premier League.

Defoe does not possess the arial presence required to make the most of the quality of delivery Spurs have at their disposal in Gareth Bale and Aaron Lennon, whilst Cavani has

blossomed in a lone striker role supported by two creative wingmen.

2. Fernando Llorente

Athletic’s talismanic forward has been courted by Premier League clubs for a couple of seasons now, and the time may have come for the powerful striker to step up a gear and compete at the highest level.

Llorente possesses all the attributes of a classic No 9, reaching double figures in his past five seasons, and his most prolific campaign to date last year when he found the net 29 times in all competitions.

He would prove an ideal alternative to the diminutive poacher that is Jermain Defoe, and potentially create an ideal “little and large” partnership is Villas-Boas was to switch up his tactics at any point in the season.

He rejected the opportunity of signing a new contract earlier this month, and his agent has since mentioned that two clubs from England are interested, “one from London, and one from Manchester”.

3. Ramadel Falcao

Falcao is a goal-machine. Since arriving in Europe three seasons ago, the Columbian striker has surpassed the 100 goal mark and established himself as one of Europes most lethal marksmen.

I’d imagine that such stats would make him the most attractive option of the five listed, to Spurs fans, and rightly so, this is a man capable of taking the Premier League by storm.

The two footed forward, who also possesses brilliant arial prowess, would thrive under the attacking style of Villas-Boas and no doubt appreciate the company of other talents such as Bale and Van der Vaart.

An attacking trio of Defoe, Adebayor and Falcao would offer a complete package for AVB to choose from, with a blend of instinctive finishing, arial presence and technical ability in abundance.

The only snag in the deal may be his price-tag, as the Columbian’s stock has rocketed since his move to Europe, earning him the praise of Pep Guardiola and sportswriters across the globe.

4. Leandro Damiao

Spurs’ interest in Internacionale forward Damiao has been well documented over the past twelve months and the Brazilian may be tempted to follow his team-mate and compatriot Oscar to London this summer.

The lanky striker starred for Brazil in this summer’s Olympics and has racked up an impressive goals ratio in the Brasiliero over the past couple of seasons.

He is not the typical Brazilian striker, and possesses the qualities required to be the target man at White Hart Lane, playing with his back to goal and linking up effectively with others around him.

However, Brazil is proving to be a sellers’ market these days and there is no doubt Internacional will be asking for a sum in excess of £20 million to see another of their stars leave across the Atlantic.

5. Edin Dzeko

Villas-Boas’ final option is a lot closer to home. Bosnian forward Dzeko has struggled for form and goals since his big money move from Wolfsburg last year and his chances to prove himself at The Etihad are ever slimming after the revival of the Tevez-Aguero partnership and the emergence of Mario Balotelli as a talented professional in Poland and Ukraine this summer.

Dzeko has shown flashes of his finishing quality with four goals at White Hart Lane last season as well as the equalizer in the final day of the campaign which set City on their way to the league title, and Villas-Boas may feel he can bring the best out of him on the back of a cut price fee come the end of the month.

Are Chelsea in for an Oscar Winner?


Meet Oscar. Traditional English name, contemporary Brazilian playmaker. Full name, Oscar dos Santos Emboaba Júnior, the 20-year-old has been under the watchful eye of European scouts since his historic performance in the U20 World Cup Final last August.

The midfielder scored a hat-trick in a game that Brazil won 3-2 against Portugal, the first time a player has managed such a feat in a World Cup Final since Geoff Hurst in 1966.

Oscar began his career at Sao Paulo, but left for Internacional after a payment dispute, where his development has flourished alongside the nomadic Andres D’Allesandro and long term Tottenham target Leandro Damiao.

Standing at 5’10 ft. with a slight physique, the early critics will strike him down as another fleet-footed Brazilian lightweight who has been protected in the Brasileiro, and will struggle with the physical test of a trip to the Britannia stadium.

But despite what the name might suggest, Oscar is not all about the flash tricks, step-overs and nutmegs. The young Brazilian relies more heavily on his intelligence, which is evident in his seemingly effortless ability to create space in the middle of the pitch and exploit it at the blink of an eye in the final third.

It is the midfielder’s movement which sets him apart from the rest. Despite starting from a deeper midfield position, he is a constant presence in and around the box; almost every pass is followed by a direct dash as space seems to open up around him.

He is beyond his years in terms of his use of the ball, and has shown his maturity to slow play down when necessary, as well as providing that killer pass.

There is an air of Kaka about Oscar. He does not possess the exceptional turn of pace which once made the Real Madrid man so dangerous, but has a superb eye for a ball, and a nifty habit of arriving late in the box to support his strikers.

It is these qualities which make me think that Roberto Di Matteo may see an eventual successor to the evergreen Frank Lampard, and I couldn’t think of a better role model to help the Brazilian settle into the Premier League.

Lampard is now the Lieutenant of a Chelsea midfield which boasts some of the best talents in the game, both young and old, and his role will be to help to sculpt the core of the team for the future, both on and off the pitch.

Chelsea fans will get the chance to get a first-hand look at their imminent new signing as he is part of the Brazilian GB team boasting the likes of Hulk, Thiago Silva, Ganso and Neymar, who are scheduled to play England in a friendly next week.

The Brazilian looks like the real deal, and if he is to join Fernando Torres and his supporting cast of Juan Mata, Eden Hazard, Daniel Sturridge, Ramires and Marko Marin, Chelsea could be taking the awards home to West London come the end of the season.

Saints get their man


Southampton have snapped up Crystal Palace defender Nathaniel Clyne on a four-year contract.

The deal comes as a bit of a coup for the Saints, who will be delighted to have captured a player who has been dubbed ‘a right-sided Ashley Cole’.


Clyne, 21, was out of contract, so no transfer fee was required, but the Premier League newcomers will have to pay compensation as the player is under 24-years-old.

The right-back cited the club’s ambition to push for European football as a key factor in his decision to join.

Clyne did not make this year’s GB team for the Olympics, as Stuart Pearce opted for the experience of Micah Richards, but Clyne has been touted as a very attacking full-back, who possesses great pace and can defend well too.


In the 2010–11 season, Clyne won Crystal Palace’s Player of the Year award, and was named in the Championship team of the year last season, as well as recently breaking into the England U21 set-up.

Speaking from Southampton’s training camp in the French Alps, Clyne said: “It’s a club with a lot of ambition – the gaffer told me that they would want to be pushing for European football.

“We’ve got good players here – a young bunch of good, talented players who are destined for the top, so I don’t see why we can’t do it.”

Is Walcott’s Arsenal dream coming to an abrupt Holt?


Schalke midfielder Lewis Holtby has emerged as a transfer target for Arsene Wenger in the wake of uncertainty revolving around the future of Theo Walcott.

Walcott’s contract is set to expire next summer and rumours have begun to circulate that the England man has become disillusioned with life at the Emirates.

Contract issues

Ironically, 21-year-old Holtby is in the same position with his current employers, and Arsenal will be looking to take advantage.

Holtby was born in West Germany, to an English father and a German mother, but opted to represent Germany who pipped the English to his allegiance after he was called up to the U18 side in 2007.

The attacking midfielder has long been touted as one to watch, but his development has been slower than expected after being shipped out on loan in consecutive seasons to fellow Bundesliga rivals Vfl Bochum and Mainz 05.

Whether Holtby will be signed as a direct replacement for Walcott remains to be seen, as the German does not possess the raw pace of the England man, but is widely regarded as a player who is technically gifted, with a deft touch and an eye for a final ball.


Such attributes may make him sound like a direct replacement for ex-skipper and maverick Cesc Fabregas, but Holtby’s versatility has seen him play on both wings, and a more central position.

Any potential transfer would most likely cost around £10 million, a reduced price in light of his current contract situation.

The 21-year-old German international has spoken of his admiration for the English top-flight, after being linked with his boyhood club Everton, saying that it would be a “dream come true” to one day turn out at Goodison Park.


Arsenal fans have become frustrated with Walcott, who has failed to live up to expectations and has had to live in the shadow of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain in recent months.

Holtby would offer a more complete package and add to an already enthusiastic midfield boasting the likes of Jack Wilshere and Aaron Ramsey.

The deal may even go through if Arsenal keep hold of Walcott, with a more likely outcome being the return of Andrey Arshavin to Zenit St Petersburg, as Wenger strives to revamp his squad in the aftermath of the Robin Van Persie transfer saga.