Arturo Vidal: The Misinterpretation of the Most Complete Player of His Generation

?”All things are subject to interpretation whichever interpretation prevails at a given time is a function of power and not truth.” (Friedrich Nietzsche)


Ok, I’m going to start this article off with a request: go out onto the street and ask anyone you see to describe Arturo Vidal in one word.  

‘Why?’

Just do it. 

‘No.’

Please? 

‘Ok.’

FBL-EUR-C1-BARCELONA-LIVERPOOL

I’ll give you a wee while to do that….

Great, you’re back.

So most people just looked at you like you had two heads didn’t they? 

A fair few of the others asked you to leave them alone didn’t they? 

An old woman asked you for directions to the city centre instead of answering the question didn’t she? 

An old man told you about his snooker club didn’t he? 

He told you he once got a 147 didn’t he? No, I don’t think that’s true either. 

But you did in fact find one person walking the streets, wearing a 2006/07 Liverpool home shirt with Mark Gonzalez on the back (remember him? God he was awful), who actually answered you. And he replied with the expected: 

‘Aw mate he is a warrior with a great mohawk.’

EUR-FBL-C1-BARCELONA-TRAINING

We’ll overlook the fact that he answered with more than one word – for it is nice that he even answered you – and the fact that he is definitely right about the mohawk; Vidal’s mohawk has had an incredible consistency over the years. The word that stands out from the Mark Gonzalez ultra’s answer is ‘warrior’. 

That’s the prevailing interpretation of ?Arturo Vidal.

In the eyes of most football fans, Arturo Vidal is a ‘warrior.’ 

A player who became a highly sought after commodity around Europe due to his superhuman lung capacity, rather than his actual technical ability. 

A player who may not score many goals or create many chances for his teammates, but will – and has (as his mangled knee attests) – put his body on the line for his team. 

A ‘warrior’.

Nothing more. Nothing less. 

But this interpretation of Vidal’s game has prevailed in the conscience of football fans across Europe because it is the truth (spoiler: it’s not the truth). This interpretation is in fact – yeah, you guessed it – a MISinterpretation; and it’s a misinterpretation that has prevailed through the power of circumstance, as opposed to the power of its truth. 

Toni Kroos,Arturo Vidal,Eren Derdiyok

After all, circumstantially Vidal was the ‘warrior’ who flanked mercurial Toni Kroos at Bayer Leverkusen. 

Vidal was one of the ‘warriors’ who fended off midfields across the length and breadth of the peninsula at Juventus, allowing the master-passer Andrea Pirlo to dictate play. 

Vidal was the ‘warrior’ who did all of the dirty work for Pep Guardiola at Bayern Munich. 

Vidal is the ‘warrior’ who deputises for Arthur Melo at Barcelona when legs are needed in the midfield. 

Vidal is a stereotypical ‘warrior’ from South America. 

Right? 

Well yes, he was/is all those things, but he was/is also so much more. 

As well being an industrious midfielder at Bayer Leverkusen, Juventus, Bayern Munich and Barcelona, Arturo Vidal has proved time and time again that he is also an extremely potent offensive outlet. 

FBL-EUR-C1-JUVENTUS-COPENHAGEN

Between 2012 and 2014, he scored 33 goals for Juventus. 

33 GOALS. 

From MIDFIELD

That’s a lot. 

Granted one of those goals was actually a slide tackle, but the majority of the others were great exemplifications of his technique. 

A 25-yard full volley against Torino here; a deft outside of the foot flick against Sampdoria there. Vidal could – and did – do it all; in fact, he was the most complete player in Europe while at ?Juve.

And five years on, and a myriad of almost career ending knee injuries later, the now 31-year-old midfielder is as effective as ever in the final third – assisting six La Liga goals despite not being a regular starter at ?Barcelona. 

Arturo Vidal,Carles Alena

Despite all of this evidence that Arturo Vidal is more than a mere ‘warrior’ however, it’s still the prevailing interpretation of his game. In the eyes of casual football fans, Vidal is still the guy with the mohawk and tattoos who would dropkick a toddler if he thought that doing so would help his team win (he probably would to be fair). 

‘But why?’

Perhaps Vidal is simply a victim of playing alongside generationally gifted playmakers. 

‘A victim? How can he be a victim? Look at his trophy cabinet!’

I know, I know, it’s hard to grasp the fact that Vidal is a ‘victim’ of playing alongside Toni Kroos, Andrea Pirlo, Bastian Schweinsteiger etc. because, well, just look at those aforementioned names, it would be a dream to play in a midfield with any of those players. However, due to playing with so many technically gifted midfielders, Vidal’s technical prowess has often been overshadowed.

FBL-ITA-SERIEA-JUVENTUS-CATANIA

Ever since Vidal made his move from South America to Europe, the shadow of these generationally gifted playmakers has been cast over his on-the-ball ability.

Therefore, the Chilean has had to become known for the traits that make him different from the Pirlos and Kroos of this world.

Unlike Pirlo and Kroos, he is a ‘warrior’.

That’s what makes Vidal different. 

That’s what makes Vidal standout. 

That’s the first thing people think of when they think of Vidal. 

But it’s also led to Vidal being widely underrated. 

It’s what has led to Vidal’s actual footballing ability being disregarded. 

Arturo Vidal

And it’s what will lead to the most well-rounded, complete footballer of his generation being misunderstood, misinterpreted, and sadly, misremembered.

Let’

Leicester City’s 2016 Title-Winning Squad: What Happened Next?

Leicester City, the champions of England. It wasn’t even an impossible dream at the start of the 2015/16 Premier League season, so much so though that the bookies rated the Foxes chances of winning the title at ?5000/1.

Claudio Ranieri’s arrival in the summer was hardly an inspiring appointment either, considering Leicester City were coming into the season with Premier League survival as the club’s main objective, anything else was just a bonus.

But somehow, the managerial ‘Tinkerman’ turned his squad of cast-offs from bigger clubs, former non-league players and unknown stars from small teams in France into Premier League champions, a title which was confirmed three years ago to the day.

Here’s a look at that Leicester City side which shook the very foundations of the modern game and became just the sixth team to ever win the biggest prize in domestic football, the Premier League.


GK. Kasper Schmeichel

Kasper Schmeichel

Having joined Leicester City some five years before following in his dad’s footsteps by becoming a Premier League champion, Kasper Schmeichel conceded just 36 goals during the 2015/16 campaign.

The now 32-year-old is still Leicester’s number one in between the sticks at the King Power Stadium, and he’s gone on to make 332 appearances for the club across all competitions. 


RB. Danny Simpson

Danny Simpson,Dimitri Payet

Former Manchester United youth prospect Danny Simpson will see a five-year spell at Leicester City come to an end this summer as he prepares to become a free agent.

Despite being a vital part of their squad over the years, Simpson has made just five appearances this season after losing his place in the starting lineup to Portuguese full-back Ricardo Pereira.


CB. Robert Huth

Robert Huth

How exactly Rob Huth turned Leicester City into Premier League champions during his first full season with the club – he was on loan during the second half of the 2014/15 campaign – remains a mystery, but his arrival helped turn the club’s fortunes around forever.

Huth saw out the remainder of his contract at the King Power Stadium before retiring last summer. He made 322 appearances in the Premier League during his career, becoming a league champion three times.


CB. Wes Morgan

FBL-ENG-PR-LEICESTER-SOUTHAMPTON

Leicester City’s title-winning captain was set to leave the club at the end of this season, but the 35-year-old signed a one-year contract extension following Brendan Rodgers arrival as their new manager.

Wes Morgan continues to remain an important part of their squad and he’s made 22 appearances this season, scoring winning goals in Leicester’s recent victories over Burnley and Bournemouth.


LB. Christian Fuchs

Christian Fuchs

If you’re looking for the dictionary definition of a fan favourite, the Christian Fuchs fits the bill perfectly.

The former Austria international was among the handful of players who helped transform Leicester City into Premier League champions during his first season with the club.

With Ben Chilwell now the preferred choice at left back for Leicester, Fuchs will be allowed to leave on a free transfer at the end of the season and it’s been speculated that he will join an MLS side this summer.


RM. Riyad Mahrez

FBL-ENG-PR-LEICESTER-EVERTON

Signed from French side Le Havre while Leicester City were still playing in the Championship, Riyad Mahrez went on to be crowned the PFA Players’ Player of the Season during the club’s title-winning campaign.

The 28-year-old remained at the King Power Stadium for two more years before convincing Manchester City to splash over £61m on his signature last summer. He’s made 42 appearances for Pep Guardiola’s side, scoring 11 goals and claiming the same amount of assists.


CM. Danny Drinkwater

Danny Drinkwater

Danny Drinkwater wasn’t considered as one of Leicester City’s top three players when they won the Premier League title, but the former Manchester United youth star was the beating heart of Claudio Ranieri’s team.

He made 218 appearances for the Foxes during his five years at the club, but a move to Chelsea in 2017 has seen Drinkwater fall completely off the map and he hasn’t made a single appearance under Maurizio Sarri since the Community Sheild.


CM. N’Golo Kanté

Ngolo Kante,Bryan Oviedo

N’Golo Kanté only spent one full season at Leicester City, having joined from Caen in 2015 for £8.1m before leaving for Chelsea the following summer for almost four times that fee.

His performances during Leicester’s title-winning season helped establish Kanté in the French national team and he’s gone on to cement his place as a truly world-class defensive midfielder, winning the PFA Player of the Year in 2017 and World Cup in 2018. 


LM. Marc Albrighton

DeAndre Yedlin,Marc Albrighton

He didn’t grab the headlines like other players in Leicester City’s squad, but Marc Albrighton’s threat from set pieces helped bring another dynamic to their naturally counter-attacking team.

The 29-year-old is still an important part of their side and he signed a contract extension at the King Power Stadium earlier this year, something which will keep him in the East Midlands until 2022.


ST. Shinji Okazaki

Shinji Okazaki

Japan international Shinji Okazaki had never been the most prolific striker during his four-year spell in the Bundesliga, but it was his work off the ball that convinced the club to spend almost £10m on his signature in 2015.

Always playing with a smile on his face, Okazaki proved to be the perfect strike partner for Leicester City’s top goalscorer, and he even chipped in with a handful of goals too.

Okazaki is among a number of Leicester’s title-winning players who will leave the club at the end of their contracts this summer. 


ST. Jamie Vardy

Jamie Vardy

From non-league side Stocksbridge to Leicester City, via spells at Halifax and Fleetwood, all within the space of two years remains one of the biggest success stories in European football.

Jamie Vardy had always been a nuisance for defenders during his first three years at Leicester City, but even his 16-goal haul during their promotion from the Championship only made him the league’s 10th top goalscorer.

But after surviving relegation, Vardy scored 24 goals in the Premier League as Leicester City became champions, and he’ll continue to be firing in the goals for the Foxes for years to come after signing a new four-year contract in 2018. He is still an outside shot for the Premier League Golden Boot in 2018/19.


Other Notable Squad Members

FBL-ENG-PR-LEICESTER-SWANSEA

Leonardo Ulloa – An important impact sub during the title run in, Ulloa stayed for the following season but saw game time increasingly limited. After a loan at Brighton, the 32-year-old is now with Pachuca in Mexico.

Andy King – The homegrown midfielder played another part in a great underdog story that year, as Wales went to the semi-finals of Euro 2016. He is currently on loan at Frank Lampard’s promotion chasing Derby, but has seen his game time restricted.

Jeff Schlupp – The Ghana international, who played 24 times during Leicester’s title-winning season, is now in his third season at Crystal Palace.

Nathan Dyer

Nathan Dyer – It looked very much like a sideways move when winger Dyer moved on loan from Swansea to Leicester for 2015/16. Instead he got to play a cameo role in one of the greatest footballing achievements of all time. He is now back with the Swans in the Championship.

Demarai Gray – Gray joined Leicester as a teenager in the winter transfer window of the 2015/16 season. He has since made over 100 Premier League appearances for the club and played 23 times for England Under-21s.


Let’

The 6 Other Players to Score 600 Goals at Club Level as Lionel Messi Hits Landmark for Barcelona

14 years to the day since his first goal at senior level, Lionel Messi hit strikes 599 and 600 for Barcelona, as the Catalans saw off Liverpool in the Champions League semi-final first leg. 

600 goals. In less than 700 games. Madness. 


As unprecedented as the feat may seem, however, it isn’t the first time someone has registered goal number 600 at club level. It’s been done before, even if only six times in the literal history of professional football. 


Cristiano Ronaldo

600 Goals (2002-Present)

No surprises here. Messi’s perennial antagonist hit his 600th across four clubs earlier this month in a 1-1 draw with Inter.

You could go back on forth on statistics all day between these two and never find a conclusive winner, in truth, but in terms of joining the 600 club, it’s Barca’s little magician who comes out in front. Ronaldo broke the barrier first, but it took him 801 games to do so, whereas Messi did it after 683. 

Let’s not take anything away from Ronnie, however. He’s the Champions League’s all-time top scorer, winning the trophy five times, and claimed his sixth domestic title earlier this season when Juventus clinched Serie A. 


Ferenc Puskas 

622 goals, 1943-1966


?How good do you have to be in your prime for FIFA to turn round and posthumously name an award after you? Ferenc Puskas – the name behind the Puskas Award, which Mohamed Salah won controversially for his Merseyside derby strike last season – holds the answer. 

The Hungarian legend is thought of as one of the greatest strikers ever, and while his headline heroics came on the international stage as part of Hungary’s ‘Mighty Magyars’ – for whom he netted 84 goals in 83 appearances, during which time they went undefeated for a historic 32 consecutive games – he didn’t do too badly at club level either.

He featured for Budapest Honved for the most part, venturing into Spain with Real Madrid at his peak, where he would score 242 times in just 262 matches. His goals would help Real to three European Cups, and a casual five league trophies on the bounce before retiring. 


Gerd Muller

653 Goals, 1963-1981

Another whose international career perhaps outshone his club performances (68 goals in 62 games for West Germany will do that for you), former Bayern striker Gerd Muller was one of the best poachers of his generation. 

He was known for his economical use of what Franz Beckenbauer described as ‘incredible’ pace, using short bursts of speed and agility to put defenders on the back foot, and in doing so helped Bayern to an era of domestic dominance throughout the late 60s and 70s. 

Signing for FC Hollywood off the back of a season which saw him net 51 goals in 31 appearances for 1861 Nordlingen in the seventh tier of German football, he quickly fired Bayern to promotion to the Bundesliga in 1965, and would finish as top scorer in the top flight no less than seven times, winning it on four of those occasions. 

Interestingly, he had held the record for most goals for a single club (564) until Messi claimed that mantle last year.


Romario 

679 Goals, 1985-2009

MAN U V BARCELONA

?The fifth best player of last century (according to FIFA’s ‘Player of the Century’ poll), Romario was alright back in his day. 

Though much of his career was dotted throughout Brazil with a number of spells at Vasco da Gama, Flamengo and Fluminese, his ventures onto the continent were littered with success. He won three Eredivisie titles with PSV and one La Liga with Barcelona, scoring 166 goals for the two clubs, and was described by everyone from Roberto Baggio to Johan Cruyff as a generational talent. 

Since retiring, he has transcended football into a political career, and served as Rio de Janeiro’s Federal Deputy between 2011-2015.


Pele 

707 Goals, 1956-1977?


Brazilian legend Pele tried to claim north of 1,200 goals over the course of his career, but counted friendlies amongst all that, so in the end, his actual total is a touch more modest than some would have you believe.

Still, it’s nothing to scoff at, is it? He is still well deserving of his status as one of the greatest players ever, winning six domestic titles with Santos and basically every personal honour there is to win. 

And that’s before we start on his exploits with the Brazil national team.


Josef Bican 

777 goals, 1928-1955


Like most players who scored their goals in the early part of the 20th century, there is much debate over how many goals Austrian-born marksman Josef Bican – credited by some as Europe’s most prolific goalscorer – actually scored. 

The official line from UEFA is 517 league goals, but some places credit him with an obscene amount of cup goals that take him well into the 700s, so we’ll give him the benefit of the doubt here. 

If he did hit anything close to the 777 figure in question, then least the Slavia Praha and Rapid Vienna great was humble with it. “If I got five chances, I scored five.” he once said, via ?UEFA. “If I got seven, it was seven.”


Let’

West Ham vs Southampton Preview: Where to Watch, Live Stream, Kick Off Time & Team News

?West Ham host Southampton at the London Stadium on Saturday afternoon in a clash which sees two sides looking to maintain their good form having made big strides in recent weeks.

The Hammers are riding high after a massive win against rivals Tottenham last weekend, and Manuel Pellegrini has recently spoken about how his side have proven they can compete with the big six, especially when playing at home.

Manuel Pellegrini

Saints have secured safety and can now finish as high as 12th thanks to two draws in their last two games. This run included Shane Long’s fastest goal in Premier League history and a 3-3 thriller against Bournemouth last weekend. 

With both sides full of positivity, here’s a look at Saturday’s ?tie in more detail. 


Where to Watch

?

When Is Kick Off? Saturday 4 May?
?What Time Is Kick Off? ?15:00 (BST)
?Where Is it Played? ?London Stadium
?TV Channel/Live Stream? ?BT Sport Score/Gillette Soccer Saturday
?Referee? ?Stuart Attwell

Team News?

?

Marko Arnautovic came off the field with ten minutes to go against Spurs after appearing to sustain a minor muscle problem. The substitution was thought to be precautionary and he should be available for selection on Saturday. 

Carlos Sanchez, Aaron Cresswell and Manuel Lanzini are all back in training and in contention to take a place in the squad, as are Javier Hernandez and Jack Wilshere who were unused substitutes against Tottenham. 

Davinson Sanchez,Marko Arnautovic

For Southampton, Stuart Armstrong, Shane Long and Ryan Bertrand all overcame injury scares to feature last weekend, but Jannik Vestergaard is set to miss his fourth game in a row. An ongoing groin injury which could require surgery looks set to keep him sidelined for the rest of the season.

Maya Yoshida is suffering from the flu but could be passed fit in time for Saturday’s game. The same cannot be said for Alex McCarthy and Michael Obafemi, who are both out with leg injuries.


Predicted Lineups

?

?West Ham Fabianski; Masuaku, Diop, Balbuena, Zabaleta; Rice, Anderson, Snodgrass, Noble, Antonio, ?Hernandez
?Southampton ?Gunn; Bertrand, Stephens, Yoshida, Bednarek, Valery; Ward-Prowse, Hojbjerg, Armstrong, Redmond; Long

Head to Head Record

?

These sides have met 172 times stretching back to 1899, with West Ham mostly coming out on top – winning on 76 occasions to Southampton’s 50, whilst they’ve shared the spoils 46 times. 

Pellegrini’s men won the reverse fixture earlier in the season thanks to a second half brace from Felipe Anderson which cancelled out ?Nathan Redmond’s opener. 

Felipe Anderson,Nathan Redmond

His side have also failed to keep a clean sheet in seven of the last eight head to head matches, possibly a good sign for an red-hot Shane Long. 


Recent Form

?

The home side ended a four match winless run last Saturday by becoming the first side to take three points from ?Tottenham’s new stadium and also the first to keep a clean sheet. 

The hosts have little to play for, but they have been impressive on home soil and are unbeaten in eight of their last nine matches at the London Stadium in all competitions. 

Michail Antonio

A strong end to the season could see them crack the top half of the table.

Ralph Hasenhüttl’s men have achieved their goal of ?Premier League survival and are managing to find the net regularly with eight goals in their last four games.The form of Shane Long has been key, with the Irishman managing four goals in his last five games. 

On the flip side, Saints have conceded an equaliser 15 times this season after going ahead on 24 occasions in the Premier League, as illustrated in the reverse fixture.

Here’s how each team has performed in their last five fixtures.

?West Ham Southampton?
?Tottenham 0-1 West Ham (27/4) ?Southampton 3-3 Bournemouth (27/4)
?West Ham 2-2 Leicester (20/4) ?Watford 1-1 Southampton (23/4)
?Man Utd 2-1 West Ham (13/4) ?Newcastle 3-1 Southampton (20/4)
?Chelsea 2-0 West Ham (8/4) ?Southampton 3-1 Wolves (13/4)
?West Ham 0-2 Everton (30/3) ?Southampton 1-3 Liverpool (5/4)

Prediction

?

With little on the line for either side, this has the makings of a pretty sluggish affair, although both managers will be looking to keep spirits high and finish in good form. 

The likelihood of key players returning from injury for ?the ?Hammers could tip the ship in their favour, along with a possible relegation battle hangover on the cards for the ?Saints. 

Prediction: West Ham 2-0 Southampton

Let’

Naby Keita Likely to Miss the Remainder of Liverpool’s Season After Limping Off Against Barcelona

?Various reports have surfaced regarding the extent of the injury sustained to Naby Keita during Wednesday’s defeat to Barcelona, with the Guinean likely to miss the remainder of the season.

Keita hobbled off the pitch just 22 minutes into the match with the score at 0-0, where he was replaced by skipper Jordan Henderson. The Reds would go on to suffer a 3-0 defeat at Camp Nou, after Lionel Messi netted twice.

FBL-EUR-C1-BARCELONA-LIVERPOOL

Now it has emerged from multiple sources that the ?Liverpool number eight has suffered a small adductor tear in his groin and is set for a month on the sidelines. The assessment will rule him out of the club’s remaining two ?Premier League fixtures, as well the return leg against ?Barcelona next week. 

David Maddock of the Mirror ?tweeted the update, along with other sources, which will come as a huge blow to Jurgen Klopp at such a crucial stage of the season.

Keita has found form at the right time with just a handful of matches left this season, with the 24-year-old scoring his first league goals of the campaign in recent wins over Southampton and Huddersfield, cementing his place in the starting XI in the process.

With the club facing a mountain to climb to overturn the first leg defeat at the Camp Nou, they similarly are likely to need maximum points in their final league games if they are to claw back the one point they sit adrift of leaders ?Manchester City. Even still, they will require a slip up of their rivals to stand any chance of securing their first league title in nearly 30 years.

The club have their chance of bouncing back from Wednesday’s humbling as they travel to Newcastle in the Premier League on Saturday.

Let’