10 Fascinating Story Lines No One Is Talking About in World Football
The world of football is as dense as it is entertaining.
Sometimes the back pages don't do credit to the stories involving the less marketable clubs or leagues, despite being just as interesting and engrossing as those concerning Manchester United and Barcelona.
Presented in this article are 10 such reports that you may not be aware of.
From Scotland to Sweden to Qatar to China, here are 10 fascinating story lines in world football that you're not talking about.
Rangers Struggle in Scotland's Third Division
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Having entered liquidation and sold off its assets, Scotland's most successful club Rangers FC have had to suffer the embarrassment of entering the country's third division this year.
With its best players gone, the team has toiled so far this season, only managing a 1-1 draw with little-known Berwick this past weekend to keep them winless.
Boss Ally McCoist was quick to criticise his players after the game.
"Outside the game and the draw, I can't tell you how disappointed I am with the overall performance," he told reporters (via BBC).
"That performance is absolutely miles short. I can't tell you how far short that was of what any Rangers supporter or manager or coach would expect from the team. I've told the players that. It was just unacceptable what we got today."
If the famous Scottish club continue to struggle, a return to the days battling Celtic for top spot in the Premier League will remain a distant dream.
Montpellier Chairman Rips into Team After Poor Start
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With current Ligue 1 champions Montpellier having also gotten off to a disastrous start this season, the French side's chairman Louis Nicollin has launched an astonishing public attack on his players.
Speaking with RMCSport, when asked if his team will bounce back, Nicollin replied, "Yes, when you have intelligent guys. But I think three quarters of the ones there are a**holes, so that won't work. I'm disappointed" (h/t Goal.com).
"I think the ones out there must pack their bags quickly and take themselves elsewhere so they don't s**t on us any more."
The club currently sit in the relegation zone, having picked up just one point from their first three games.
One of the reasons cited for the team's poor form has been the exit of last season's top goalscorer Olivier Giroud to Premier League club Arsenal.
Neil Warnock Signs 'Sewer Rat' in Bid for Promotion
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It seems current Leeds United manager Neil Warnock is so keen to achieve promotion to the Premier League this season, he has enlisted the help of his former nemesis, El Hadji Diouf.
After the controversial Senegalese International had apparently taunted one of Warnock's players, Jamie Mackie, as he lay injured with a double leg break in 2011, the former QPR and Sheffield Wednesday boss lay into Diouf in an astonishing post-match tirade.
"He'd broken his leg. There was no need for it," he told reporters (via Sky Sports).
"I think for many years he's been the 'gutter' type of boy. I was going to call him a sewer rat, but that might insult the sewer rats. I think he's the lowest of the low."
Eighteen months on, and it appears the two have reconciled, with Warnock signing free agent Diouf on a non-contract basis this summer (via BBC).
In his first few games at the Championship side, Diouf has been instrumental in the team's flying start, most recently helping Warnock's side to a 3-0 win over Oxford United in the Capital One Cup.
Are Late Kickoff Times Killing La Liga Attendances?
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"I hate modern football, I hate television."
So read a sign at the recent clash between Deportivo and Rayo Vallecano, as a fan attempted to convey his frustration with La Liga's new 11 p.m. kickoff time and rising ticket prices (via Insideworldfootball.biz).
As a result of the late-evening matches, attendances around the country have been noticeably poor this season, with only around 11,000 spectators turning out to see matches between Real Zaragoza and Real Valladolid, and Real Mallorca and Espanyol.
At one of this past weekend's most high-profile games featuring Getafe and Real Madrid, an attendance of only 13,000 was recorded (via Goal.com).
With ticket prices soaring as well, fans are becoming more and more unwilling to pay to see their favourite teams in action.
Bleacher Report's resident Spanish football expert Michael Cerna addressed the issue in a three-part story for counterattackingfootball.com, stating that the TV revenue gap was destroying the financial parity of the league.
"There is simply no team able to overcome the great revenue gap. As a result, there is no Spanish team capable of competing with Real Madrid and Barcelona," he says.
All You Need Is Majeed
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Twenty-year-old Ghanaian striker Waris Majeed has been lighting up the Swedish Allsvenskan league this season, having scored an impressive 15 goals for his club Hacken.
He has also become the first player in over a decade to score five in a game in the country's top division, notching the impressive tally against IFK Norrkoping in May.
This past weekend he scored once again in his team's 4-2 victory over league leaders IF Elfsborg.
Majeed currently sits in joint fifth position in the European Golden Shoe competition for the continent's top goalscorers; he is the youngest player in the top 10. (via Eurotopfoot.com).
His performances in Sweden have also earned him a recent call-up to the Ghanaian national side, replacing the injured Ayew brothers.
Luis Fabiano Heads East or Does He?
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Prolific Brazilian striker Luis Fabiano's future has been the subject of much speculation these past weeks, with Qatari side Al-Rayyan having prematurely announced his signature.
The club's director Ali Salem Afifeh was so convinced that they had pulled off the coup, that on Aug. 18, he revealed to website estad-aldoha.net that Fabiano was heading east (h/t Goal.com).
"The last foreigner slot in Al-Rayyan will be filled in the next few days by the former Sevilla star Luis Fabiano; we have an accord," he said.
However, the Brazilian was quick to squash the report, releasing a statement through his advisers less than 24 hours later that no such deal had been struck.
"Luis Fabiano would like to deny what was released on Friday, August 17, that there has been any agreement between the player and Al-Rayyan of Qatar" (via Sambafoot.com).
Fans of Al-Rayyan are sure to have been left disappointed by the transfer that never was.
Is It Shanghai Noon for Anelka and Drogba?
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A financial crisis at Chinese club Shanghai Shenhua may force Nicolas Anelka and Didier Drogba to look elsewhere for their last big payday.
Drogba is currently on about £200,000 a week, whilst Anelka isn't on much less, but according to The Mirror, "a boardroom battle at the Chinese Super League side could see their billionaire chairman stop paying the salaries of the European imports."
The Ivorian is currently working on his fitness at Chelsea's Cobham training ground, no doubt welcoming a return to the place he called home during his eight-year stint at the London club.
And whilst a return to Roberto di Matteo's side may be a little far-fetched, if Shanghai's boardroom battle continues, a quick move back to Europe may not be out of the question for both Drogba or Anelka.
Oliver Kahn Blasts Ex-Teammate for Role at Bayern
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Retired German goalkeeping legend Oliver Kahn has spoken out in his dissatisfaction with his former international teammate and recently appointed director of sport at Bayern Munich, Matthias Sammer.
Kahn claims that Sammer is overstepping his bounds in the role, writing in his column in Bild that, "Sammer's massive presence on the training ground and his public comments on team tactics make him look like a second coach right now" (h/t ESPN).
"Interference with the coach's areas of responsibility contains a lot of potential for conflict."
Despite the public dispute, Bayern currently sit atop the Bundesliga after one game, having soundly beaten newcomers Greuther Furth 3-0 at the weekend.
But it seems that Kahn is not the only one who has doubts about Sammer, as fellow Bayern legend Udo Lattek confirmed to Bild.
"I like Matthias Sammer very much, but I do not know if that's really important," he told the German newspaper (h/t Goal.com).
"In any case, the coach has to be recognised by the entire team. If he does not, then it will be difficult, so you have to be very careful."
However, if the club keep winning, Kahn and Lattek may have to eat their words.
Kurt's Zouming Straight to the Top
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The word "prodigious" barely does Kurt Zouma any credit.
At the incredibly tender age of 17, he has already made 24 top-flight appearances for Ligue 1 side Saint-Etienne, scoring twice.
The French central defender isn't just getting into the first team based on potential, though. His performances fully merit the faith placed in him by the club's coaches.
Naturally, the player has already caught the eye of scouts from top European clubs, with Manchester United reportedly hot favourites for his signature (via Tribalfootball.com).
If his current career-trajectory continues on its current path, prepare to hear a lot more about the aptly named Kurt Zouma.
Could Del Piero Be Heading Down Under?
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In one of the more bizarre transfer-window rumours of the summer, Australian side Sydney FC are claiming to be genuine contenders for the signature of Juventus legend Alessandro del Piero.
The 37-year-old forward is yet to determine his future, having left Juve in May.
Despite Swiss club FC Sion being the hot favourites to land the veteran, Sydney's chief executive officer Tony Pignata is claiming that his team are not going away without a fight.
"We're going to go for it as hard as we can. The board is 100 percent behind this," he revealed to The Sydney Morning Herald (h/t Goal.com).
"We've already made an approach to his management team, and we're waiting to hear back. This is not a gimmick; it's deadly serious."
Whether or not del Piero is taking the approach as seriously as Pignata is another question.