David Villa and Neglected Players Still Capable of Performing Next Season
Football never ceases to shock and surprise.
Time and time again, players are written off and discarded by one club, only for them to perform admirably and even overachieve with another. This summer, a number of stars have moved teams after finding themselves on the proverbial scrap heap.
Those listed in this article know how it is to work for a manager who no longer finds a place for their talents. All will be relishing the chance to resume their careers following testing times and an uncertain summer.
Don’t hesitate to comment below and let us know which neglected players you can see making an impact over the coming year.
It has long looked like Tom Huddlestone’s days at White Hart Lane are numbered.
Despite managing to overcome a series of career-threatening injuries to rediscover his fitness and manage 28 appearances last term, it seems like the creative midfielder has failed to convince Andre Villas-Boas of his worth in this new-look Tottenham team.
AVB typically prefers mobile, dynamic, technical midfielders, and bearing this in mind, Huddlestone’s greatest weakness may just prove fatal for his Spurs career. The England international has always been on the slow side, and having the turning circle of the Titanic is a quality that has remained with him from his early career until now.
It just doesn’t work in the context of the team the Portuguese manager is trying to build in North London.
The recent acquisition of Paulinho places another obstacle in front of Huddlestone, and it now looks like his future lies away from White Hart Lane.
Stoke and Fulham have previously been linked with his signature, but recently it has appeared that Sunderland is his likely destination.
The Standard have reported that the midfielder is close to a £5million transfer, and this would represent a smart acquisition for the Black Cats. Certainly, there are some fitness fears to manage, but Huddlestone still has a mastery of the ball and an eye for a pass nearly unrivalled amongst his peers.
Some have questioned whether the ponderous playmaker will fit in on Wearside, but if Paolo Di Canio can utilise the former Derby man effectively, Huddlestone could kick start a career that has stalled badly.
It’s been a tough old time for David Villa.
Spain’s top scorer of all time was laid low with an injury that saw him miss UEFA Euro 2012 and then the best part of an entire season for club side Barcelona. His tentative steps back into the first team weren’t as easy as they might have been, and Villa became frustrated with Tito Vilanova’s preference to utilise him sparingly.
As the season came to a close, it became apparent that the striker would never again enjoy the regular proximity with the first team that he once did. The high profile acquisition of Neymar placed another obstacle in Villa’s path, and a move from the Camp Nou became the only solution.
After toying with the idea of a switch to the Premier League and to North London heavyweight Tottenham Hotspur, Villa decided to remain in Spain and moved to Atletico Madrid after Barcelona accepted a €5.1 million bid.
At 31, the striker finds himself with everything to prove. He will arrive at a team primed to replace Falcao as the side’s dominant goalscorer, but it will take a magnificent effort to match the Colombian’s terrific form.
The spectre of next summer’s World Cup looms large.
The competition, as Spain attempt to retain their title, will surely be the swan song for a number of this legendary La Roja squad, and Villa has 12 months to prove that he deserves to bow out as a headline act rather than a mere supporting artist.
Atleti may provide the perfect platform for him to prove that Barca said "adios" too soon.
Ricardo Carvalho and Eric Abidal
This summer, both Real Madrid and Barcelona said goodbye to veteran defenders who, during their careers, have risen to the absolute pinnacle of the sport. The pair of Ricardo Carvalho and Eric Abidal were quickly snapped up by Monaco, the ambitious Ligue 1 team keen to add to their extensive list of summer acquisitions.
While the club have typically paid big money to acquire some of Europe’s finest attacking players—men such as Falcao, James Rodriguez and Joao Moutinho—Carvalho and Abidal bring something different to the squad.
The defensive duo may be 35 and 33 respectively, but they immediately bring legitimacy to the Monaco side. Despite past failings, they both have enough talent and composure to create a solid platform for this exciting young side and inspire those around them.
For Abidal in particular, the move is a special one; the defender began his professional career in the principality and, after enduring several testing years of injury and illness, will surely relish his homecoming.
Having been shown the door by massive clubs who no longer required their services, Carvalho and Abidal have the chance to write one final narrative into two excellent careers.
Few of this summer’s transfers have the potential to be more regrettable than Igor Denisov’s switch from Zenit Saint Petersburg to Anzhi Makhachkala. Could the transfer indicate a shift in power between two of Russia’s wealthiest sides?
Beyond losing an influential defensive midfielder, Zenit also deemed it acceptable to offload a player who has been with the club for over a decade. Denisov’s final year in Saint Petersburg was undermined by his very public dissatisfaction with the club’s acquisitions of Axel Witsel and Hulk, and protests at a seeming neglect of the team’s spirit and its values.
The bosses at Zenith have clearly decided that the captain was a divisive, rather than decisive, member of the playing staff; in letting him go, they are demonstrating enormous faith in their new project.
It could go either way.
While offloading Denisov could open the door for the new players to flourish, the midfielder is an excellent player and will relish the opportunity to prove his previous employers wrong.
The international is more than capable of making Zenith realise the error of their ways and of helping Anzhi to the next level.
It’s really quite remarkable that Fiorentina were allowed to snare Mario Gomez without much fanfare. Indeed, even though goalscorers are high on the agenda for Premier League giants such as Chelsea, Manchester City, Tottenham and Arsenal, a bona fide forward has been allowed to slip through the net.
Despite a number of hugely prolific years in Bavaria, the presence of Mario Mandzukic, Thomas Muller and, latterly, Mario Gotze has meant that the German international has become rather surplus to requirements. Pep Guardiola’s preference for a smaller, nimbler frontman has meant that Gomez no longer has a future at Bayern.
However, despite being dismissed from one of Europe’s giants, the forward ought not lose any of his lustre. Here is a player capable of making a major impact in Serie A.
Last year, Fiorentina weren’t afraid to splash the cash, and Vincenzo Montella was rewarded with qualification for the Europa League.
The presence of Gomez, with plenty of experience at the elite end of footballing competition and a reputation for scoring shedloads of goals (75 in 115 league games for Bayern) could push La Viola into the upper echelons of the Italian top flight.