Man Utd Number 7s Have Scored Hardly Any Premier League Goals Since Cristiano Ronaldo

?Manchester United are about to bid farewell, temporarily at least, to a fifth number seven in ten years when Alexis Sanchez joins Inter on a season-long loan before 2 September.

Sanchez arrived to much fanfare 18 months ago, but his Old Trafford career has been nothing short of a disaster, not least because he was a world class individual during his time at Arsenal.

Alexis Sanchez

After scoring 30 goals in all competitions in his final full season with the Gunners, Sanchez was supposed to be the explosive forward to take United towards finally challenging for the Premier League. Instead, he represented everything that was wrong with the club and is yet another flop to wear the number seven shirt made famous by George Best, Bryan Robson and Eric Cantona.

David Beckham was an iconic number seven in modern times, while Cristiano Ronaldo took on the mantle in 2003 and became the best player in the world while at United.

In the ten years since Ronaldo left for Real Madrid, no player has been able to live up to grandeur of the number seven shirt. Its five different wearers, including Sanchez, have scored a measly 14 Premier League goals between them in a decade – an average of 1.4 per season.

Sanchez has managed only three Premier League goals in United colours, and only one of those was scored in his sole full season at Old Trafford in 2018/19.

Michael Owen was the shock first inhabitant of the number seven shirt after Ronaldo, joining as a free agent in 2009 following his release from Newcastle. The former Liverpool prodigy was more a pragmatic signing than anything else and did manage plenty of domestic cup and European goals – 12 in three seasons – but his final Premier League tally was just five.

Antonio Valencia was the next player to take the number seven shirt back in his days as a flying winger. The Ecuadorean had been named Sir Matt Busby Player of the Year for 2011/12 and had shown himself capable of chipping with goals despite being a traditional winger.

One goal in 30 Premier League appearances followed and Valencia returned to his old 25 shirt.

Angel Di Maria

The number seven shirt lay vacant for a season waiting for its next wearer, with Angel Di Maria taking it on when he arrived in a then club record £59m transfer from Real Madrid. But the Argentine’s blistering start was short lived and he scored only three league goals.

Memphis Depay then came to United in the summer of 2015 off the back of scoring 22 Eredivisie goals for PSV Eindhoven. Nobody fairly expected him to repeat that straight off the bat in the Premier League, but the Dutch starlet badly underwhelmed and got just two.

He spent another half season on the fringes after Jose Mourinho took over, but was sold to Lyon in January 2017, where he promptly rediscovered his form of old.

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One number seven being a flop is bad luck, two is worse. But three? Four? Five?

How long will it be before someone can break the ‘curse’ of United’s number seven shirt?


An Ode to Gerard Pique: The Defining Central Defender of This Decade

On Sunday, Gerard Pique notched his 500th appearance for Barcelona in the club’s 5-2 win over Real Betis. In the aftermath of that win, he came second in a local High Roller poker tournament at the Casino of Barcelona, winning €352,950.

So, yeah, not a bad bank holiday. And it’s about to get a whole lot better for the Catalonian. For right now, right here, I shall put forward his case for being the defining central defender of the decade.

Now, there are a myriad of places from which you can start to build your case for such a title, but trophies seems like both the most 2019 and most logical (which is good going for 2019). And it is a strong foundation, considering Senor Gerard’s 34 major trophies. That’s the most of any central defender, ever.

For context, that’s 11 more than Pique’s compatriot-come-rival Sergio Ramos, who, at a year older than GP, is stuck on an embarrassing 23. 

That brings us nicely to the second place – and it’s essentially a building block, an add-on to the original statement – from which to build this edifice, to craft this statue of honour in the name of Shakira’s husband: his competition. And, considering the echelon we’re operating on, there’s only a few worth a mention. 

One is Ramos, obviously, but we’ll get back to him in a second. The others are Giorgio Chiellini, Diego Godin, Mats Hummels, Raphael Varane, Leonardo Bonucci and, err, Thiago Silva? Anyone else? Oh, Dejan Lovren, obviously. 

Now, looking back at that list, only Chiellini, Godin and Hummels really stand up – Varane probably hasn’t yet peaked, Bonucci has that Milan fiasco on his CV, Thiago Silva has been on the receiving end of more major tournament six-goal plus losses than he has major finals and Dejan Lovren is Dejan Lovren.

Spain's defender Gerard Pique (2ndL) hug

So, Chiellini, Godin and Hummels. And, as trite as they may be, one thing stands out immediately. Only one man has won either the Champions League or the World Cup, and that’s Hummels, and he’s probably the worst defender of that three. Sure, he’s certainly still useful, but he’s only 30 and there’s a reason Bayern were willing to let him leave for their direct rivals.

Indeed, looking back at the rough XI that started for Germany in the 2014 World Cup is quite a staggering thing, in that, save for Toni Kroos and Philipp Lahm, almost every player’s estimations have faded drastically in the proceeding years. How can you define a decade when you feel so far removed from it?

So, Hummels is a no – back to Chiellini and Godin. Both have been able to marry the good old dark arts with the demands of modern football. Both are domineering in the air and fierce in the tackle. Neither have ever been the fastest, neither have ever been affected by that fact. 

Chiellini has had far more club success, and is one of the founding reasons for Juventus’ dominance of Serie A. But that dominance has simultaneously glossed up his trophy cabinet and bludgeoned his senses for true battle on the European stage.

He has also not been the player internationally that Diego has been, having lifted no silverware and played in just two World Cups, failing to get out of the group stage in both. Contrast that with Diego, who led his side to victory at the 2011 Copa America, fourth place at the 2010 World Cup and the quarter-finals – where they lost to eventual winners France – in 2018.

So, with hairs split, it’s Godin who gets the nod for me. And then there was one. Oh, wait no, then there was ?Sergio Ramos. We didn’t forget about Sergio Ramos, did we? Because Sergio Ramos has won three times the major international tournaments that Diego Godin has won, four times the La Ligas Diego Godin has won and four more Champions Leagues than Diego Godin has won, two of which came at the expense of Godin himself. 

So then there really was one. One challenger left for the mighty Pique to dispatch. And it’s without doubt the hardest of them all. Because, finally leaving aside the trophy-obsessed ways of yonder, Pique has in some ways always been under Ramos’ shadow throughout his career.

Starting with his participation at Euro 2008 and Pique’s absence, and lasting right through this La Decima and beyond-dominated decade, Ramos has been, in full heel mode, the most domineering defender in the game. The ugliest. The most vilified. The most successful. The most begrudgingly celebrated.


The thing is, between those times, ?Pique was part of the greatest club team the world has seen this century and, let’s be honest/opinionated, probably all time. And, as mentioned, despite Real’s routine European triumphs, Pique’s domestic dalliances have landed him far more trophies. 

But alas, we’ve made this about trophies once more, and it doesn’t need to be. Because, while Ramos has built his game, and indeed his myth, around the dark arts and all their pervasive qualities, as well as an incomprehensible ability to find the net when it matters most, Pique has crafted the blueprint for all modern defenders to follow. 

He is the passer from the back, the passer from deep, the stays-on-his-feet jockeying and the legs-a-sprawling slide tackling defender. He embodies the sensibilities of not just today, but tomorrow.

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And, yes, he has done it all whilst simultaneously crafting the most successful career a central defender has ever had.

You’re welcome, Gerard. Any legacy-defining financial rewards are welcome.


Liverpool Listed in Trio of Clubs Timo Werner Would Sign for Despite Penning New RB Leipzig Deal

Timo Werner would only be interested in joining one of either Liverpool, Real Madrid or Barcelona, despite having just penned a new four-year deal with RB Leipzig.

The German forward had been linked with a move away from the club for a number of seasons, with the freshest suggestions being that he would leave on a free transfer next summer by running down the final year of his contract.

Instead, with the likes of ?Bayern Munich and ?Liverpool linked, Werner signed a new deal on Sunday that sees him tied down at the Red Bull Arena until 2023. Interestingly, while his new contract appeared on the surface to signal a long-term stay in Saxony, it also included a release clause of just €30m.

Such a small amount for a full Germany international would seemingly give most clubs in Europe the chance to sign the 23-year-old. However, Sport Bild, via journalist? Ronan Murphy, have claimed the striker would only be interested in a move away from the club to the aforementioned trio.

That said, the wording of ‘a club like’ Barça, Liverpool and Madrid would widen the scope for other potential suitors, possibly leaving other clubs to play their hands in the coming windows. 

In spite of signing a new deal at the club he joined in 2016, reports emerged that Werner had initially ?reached an agreement over personal terms with Bayern just prior to the announcement. What stopped the move taking place was Die Roten’s laid-back approach, which supposedly allowed RB Leipzig to swoop in with fresh terms.

Regardless of the new contract though, the report added there is still every possibility the forward may link up with the league champions the coming summer, despite not being mentioned in the trio listed by Sport Bild.

Werner got his current Bundesliga off to a flying start, netting two goals in as many outings as RB Leipzig secured early wins over Union Berlin and Eintracht Frankfurt to sit joint top of the table.


Bolton Wanderers Announce Successful Sale of Club to Avoid Liquidation & EFL Relegation

?Bolton Wanderers have confirmed they have struck a deal over the sale of the club to Football Ventures (Whites) Limited, in turn avoiding the club from suffering liquidation and removing them from the English Football League.

The club confirmed on Monday that their initial takeover bid had collapsed, and they had until 5pm on Tuesday to finalise a deal or their EFL status would be revoked. However, an extended deadline was set to allow the club to find a solution, allowing them to continue trading.

Speaking on the club’s ?official website, it now appears those fears can be put to bed after the deal was announced, which will save the club from dropping out of the Football League.

An excerpt reads: “This has been one of the most complicated administrations I’ve been involved with but I’m delighted to say we have finally reached a satisfactory conclusion with the sale to Football Ventures,” said Joint Administrator, Paul Appleton.

“At times, some of the hurdles appeared insurmountable and the frustration felt has been immense, not least by the supporters who have had to endure too many weeks of uncertainty.”I would like to pay particular tribute to the Eddie Davies Trust and their legal team who, throughout this whole process, have been willing to do everything in their power to ensure Eddie’s incredible legacy was maintained and not sullied.

“It is a testament to their unflinching determination to do what was best for Bolton that we are able to complete the deal today. I would especially like to thank both my team and my lawyers who worked around the clock to find solutions to problems which certainly threatened to derail the whole process.

“I have every sympathy for the staff, players and fans who have been forced to stand by while their club was taken to the brink. I am delighted their loyalty, dedication and patience have finally been rewarded. Of course, there will be difficult times ahead while the club gets back on its feet but there are too many people with Bolton close to their hearts for it not to be successful once more.

Atletico Madrid v Bolton Wanderers - UEFA Cup

“Now there can be a fresh start with owners who, I believe, will run the club for the good of the supporters and the community as a whole.”For everything the fans have had to endure, they deserve nothing less.”

Ever since late 2015, the now League One club have been dealing with severe financial problems. Despite putting off administration with tireless work since then, the club were unfortunately forced to enter such status earlier this summer, with the new takeover deal meaning they will retain their league status and continue trading.

After years of doing all they could to avoid the worst possible outcome, the club were forced to enter administration earlier this summer, and they must now finalise a takeover deal in the coming hours if they are to continue trading.


Twitter Reacts as Bolton Wanderers Successfully Complete Takeover to Avoid EFL Relegation

?The news is in. Bolton Wanderers have been taken over.

The future of the Lancashire outfit was looking increasingly bleak with the 5pm Tuesday deadline to secure new ownership passing without a conclusion being met.

While it appeared as if the extended time would not be enough, the League One club ?announced on Wednesday they had reached an agreement with Football Ventures (Whites) Limited, in turn saving the club from suffering liquidation and a removal from the English Football League.

Such excellent news for a devoted fanbase has sparked feelings of both relief and profound joy, with many taking to Twitter to express their emotions.




??Even fans of opposing clubs were offering their support and best wishes, fully aware that it has been a troublesome and tough few years for the club ever since they began suffering from financial issues back in December 2015.

??Bolton fans can now also begin looking forward, to what will hopefully be a new, positive era in the club’s history.

Some were already looking towards a return to the club’s glory days.

??While there is a natural outpouring of happiness for Bolton supporters, staff members, players and all associated with the League One side, there still remains an overall sadness over the situation ongoing at Bury.

The fellow third division side were expelled from the EFL after a proposed takeover of their own from C&N Sporting Risk collapsed. What happens now for the club is unknown, but their situation hasn’t gone unnoticed amongst the mirroring news for Bolton.