My Perfect Player

If I could create a footballer…

Head: Cristiano Ronaldo
Ronaldo may not be the most likeable of footballers, and his heading ability maybe isn’t his best asset, but his quality in the air can be staggering at times. He’s not only got an impressive leap; the power that the Real Madrid forward can put into his headers is astounding. Ronaldo can run into the box from either wing and slam home a header or ingeniously flick a header past a flapping goalkeeper – one of the best header-ers of a football you will ever see.
Brain: Filippo Inzaghi
287 goals in 614 club appearances over a career spanning twenty years, and still going – Pippo Inzaghi should be showcased as one of the greats of the modern era. His killer instinct is second-to-none; it is said that that somewhat-frustrating (for the opposition) ability to be in the right place at the right time cannot be taught, it is natural. He may have been born offside, but Inzaghi could read a football match – at least in an attacking sense – like a book. And a relatively simple book at that.
Eyes: Xavi
This man gets a lot of plaudits, and rightly so. His passing is supreme and, with that, his vision to make that pass is, at times, quite unbelievable. Clearly the Spanish midfielder needs the movement of others around him to allow him to pick the pass, but it’s the way in which he is always looking, eyes darting everywhere to try and find a player in space or, if not, space for him to run into that always amazes me. He does most football-y things better than most – and using his eyes is certainly one of them.
Lungs: Ji Sung Park
Pretty simple this one (and quite a popular choice, I would imagine) – he’s not called ‘three lungs’ for nothing ya’know. Park just runs and runs and runs and runs and.. well you get the picture. The South Korean’s stamina is just incredible and, while his quality was doubted in his early Manchester United days, he is now seen as a valuable asset to the squad. And his lungs will be a valuable asset to my perfect player.
Mouth: David Beckham
I was unsure for who to pick for this body part, so here’s my thinking: what do you want from a footballer’s mouth, or rather how would you prefer the player to use his mouth? Loud, abusive and ‘passionate’ to strike fear into the hearts of the opposition? Or perhaps a quiet player who reserves judgement unless it is needed, showing respect for his fellow professionals and generally getting on with his job without mouthing off? To be honest, I wish that footballers would shut up most of the time, both on and off the pitch. So I’ve gone with someone who always seems to say the right things and, although it’s probably all PR-peddled rubbish, at least he’s not a loudmouth. David Beckham – not a loudmouth.
Left foot: Alvaro Recoba
I used to love this man growing up and I can still sit and watch him on YouTube for hours. A deadball specialist but much more than that, the attacking midfielder has an absolute wand of a left foot. In fact, that doesn’t do it justice. What’s better than a wand? A lightsaber? Alvaro Recoba has a lightsaber of a left foot. This video sums the man up better than I can ever wish to.
Right foot: Juninho Pernambucano
You can have your delicately curled free-kicks into the top corner from a certain former-England captain who isn’t a loudmouth – I’ll take 30-yard-plus rockets into the top corner every time. Juninho can hit freekicks from anywhere and indeed everywhere. There are so many highlight reels of the Brazilians’ freekicks you’d think it would have become tiresome by now – but it hasn’t, and it never will. Here’s the best one. Smack!
So, my perfect player would consist of the head of Ronaldo, the brain of Inzaghi, the eyes of Xavi, the lungs of Park, the mouth of Beckham, the left foot of Recoba and the right foot of Juninho.


This piece was originally published on Chronicles of Almunia.



The laziness and dishonesty of a want-away footballer

“I’m leaving this club because I want to win trophies”. It’s perhaps acceptable for a footballer to use this kind of line if they are at a club who are clearly happy to be languishing in mid-table or below, not looking to spend money to improve with little ambition anywhere in the club – just accepting their position in the hierarchy of club football.

But for a player who was distinctly average for a fair portion of last season, who played for a team who challenged for the league title but, again, didn’t win it, to come out with this sentence, this clichéd excuse – well that’s lazy and, quite frankly, lame.
It’s quite a basic and already common reply to the excuse, but football clubs lose football matches because of the footballers that play. Yes, Arsenal need to invest, their manager is clearly reluctant to spend any sort of big money on players he doesn’t think fit into his system, regardless of how desperate the pleas from fans become for a new centre-back, a top-quality striker and, basically, a new spine for the team.
But the simple fact is – Samir Nasri isn’t winning football matches and, as a consequence, trophies at Arsenal because of the team, a team that he is a part of. If he wants to be a winner, he needs to show that in his performances. Nasri went missing in too many games last season. You want to win things, Samir? Then play better.
With Cesc Fabregas apparently set to move to hometown-more-than-a-club Barcelona, the opportunity is there for Nasri to prove that he is the winner that he claims to be, to really thank Arsenal Football Club and Arsene Wenger for supporting him through some tough times in his career.
Nasri, it seems, doesn’t want to have the team built around him after Fabregas leaves; he’d prefer to slot straight into a side that can already win various honours – he’d rather be a part of a winning team rather than be the main protagonist who inspires a side to victory. Some would see this as the midfielder taking the easier option; others would see it as the Frenchman purely looking after his own career.
How many times have we seen players haul their respective teams to victory? Cristiano Ronaldo at Manchester United immediately springs to mind. United were labelled a ‘one-man-team’ but, with the Premier League trophy firmly in their hands, did it really matter?
There have been many more examples of players over the years, desperate to win honours or the equivalent, proving themselves to be heroes. Gerrard for Liverpool, for one. To some extent, Tevez at Manchester City, Henrik Larsson at Celtic, Andy Johnson at Crystal Palace, Roque Santa Cruz at Blackburn – these players carried their teams. They might not have all been battling for the league title, but they’ve all fought for their relative victories. They wanted to win.
You see, Nasri could be a hero at Arsenal. He could drive them towards their first Premier League title since 2004. He could be the conductor of the new Arsenal, a new generation that sees silverware come to The Emirates Stadium for the first time since 2005 – other than the Emirates Cup.
But he doesn’t want that, he wants the easier life and he wants the quick fix of glory. And, in order to leave with some dignity, he walks out of Arsenal, with his head held high, claiming that he wants to win trophies, with a line that always leads many to sympathise with glory-stricken, and force all Arsenal fans to question the ambition of the club.
If you want to win trophies, fine. But don’t leave a club that, despite having a rather lacklustre squad that missed vital players at key moments last season, finished fourth and were at one time very credible title challengers, questioning their ambition in the process.
Samir Nasri isn’t leaving Arsenal becausehe wants to win things, he could do that at Arsenal if he really wanted too – he’s leaving because it will possibly be easierto win things at another club, and he’ll earn more money in the process. And no one can blame him for making that choice. But a little bit of honesty, and a little less laziness in reasoning, really wouldn’t go amiss.