Five Players Who Have Impressed So Far This Season
I'm a Freelancer Football Journalist who specialises in writing about European Football, as well as the newly-founded NextGen Series. I've written for the likes of Goal.com, Mir...
With the football season in full swing, today on the blog Joe Krishnan takes a look at five players who have made an impact so far in season 2012/2013.
It’s been an unusual start to the season, hasn’t it? By now, you’d expect the likes of Manchester United, Real Madrid and AC Milan to be well into their stride as they look to secure another title to add to their bulging collection. Yet, the unpredictable nature of football these days has seen clubs such as Everton, Atletico Madrid and Napoli upset the odds and climb into 2nd places in each of their leagues.
But what has happened to the likes of Wayne Rooney, the Lionel Messi and the Robinho so far this season? You may be thinking that you haven’t heard many pundits raving about them, well that’s because they simply haven’t performed to their usual high standards.
And instead, players who may been less inclined to make a name for themselves have shone through in the current campaign. So I’ve decided to highlight their achievements so far this season. Here they are…
Demba Ba (Newcastle)
The Senegalese striker has started the season in exactly the same manner as he did in 2011/12, scoring goals for fun and causing opposition defenders all sorts of problems, but it’s been a tough year for Ba to say the least. After the arrival of Papiss Cisse in January, Ba seemed to take his foot off the gas a little, with his 16 goals before February then drying up as he adapted to Alan Pardew’s new formation as he was forced onto the left-hand side of midfield, and went until the end of the season without a goal.
However, the powerful forward broke his duck in the 2-1 win over Tottenham in August and has since then gone on to score six goals in as many games, making him the Premier League’s top scorer ahead of Robin Van Persie, Steven Fletcher and Luis Suarez who each have scored five.
It’s now Cisse who is struggling up front, but if both start to fire on all cylinders, Newcastle could well find themselves near the Premier League summit before long.
Falcao (Atletico Madrid)
After key man Sergio Aguero left Atletico for oil-rich Manchester City in a £38 million deal last season, there was much disagreement about how the money would be used. Towards a new stadium? Invest in youth like they did with Aguero? Or simply replace him with a player of similar quality?
Well, despite the difficulty in doing so, Atletico chose the latter option by signing Colombian international Falcao from Porto for a reported £34 million. And it was indeed a coup, for Falcao was long seen as a target of Chelsea under Andre Villas-Boas and was a significant factor in Porto’s magnificent treble-winning season.
Falcao adapted well to the playing style of La Liga last season, scoring 24 goals in his debut season as Atletico narrowly missed out on a Champions League spot to Malaga, finishing 5th. But only this season has the football world started to recognise him as one of the most lethal finishers around.
In their European Super Cup 4-1 victory over Chelsea, Falcao was simply brilliant, causing havoc as the Blues simply couldn’t deal with him, as he bagged himself a hat-trick. It sent out a warning that Falcao was after the Pichici, the award for the La Liga top scorer. And he’s done himself no harm in his quest for the prize, showing some devastating form so far and scoring seven goals in just six games for Atletico.
A move to Chelsea could be on the cards in January, and for the other 19 teams in La Liga, they’ll be hoping it comes sooner rather than later.
Stephan El Shaarawy (AC Milan)
When Massimiliano Allegri opted to revolutionise the AC Milan set-up by clearing out the so-called ‘dead wood’ in the side, the club lost it’s egotistic yet undeniably magnificent pair of Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Thiago Silva to Paris Saint-Germain.
Others followed, with Clarence Seedorf and Alessandro Nesta opting to move to pastures new for one last exciting adventure in an illustrious career before retiring. And despite signing Cristian Zapata, Nigel De Jong, Giampaolo Pazzini and Bojan Krkic, the club has almost collapsed instantly. They currently sit in 12th place, winning just two of their last six games in Serie A and manager Allegri could face the chop soon enough if their fortunes do not change.
But their one bright spark has come from an unlikely source this season, as Italian starlet Stephan El Shaarawy attempts to make his mark in Italian football. Just 19 years old, El Shaarawy has filled the void left by Antonio Cassano, who joined Inter, as his strike partner Pazzini takes up the target man position that was occupied by Ibrahimovic. El Shaarawy is your trequartista type of player, picking up the ball from deep, running past defenders before finishing with composure. And with four of Milan’s seven goals this season, it’s hard to take him out of the team to accommodate their new signings Bojan and Mbaye Niang.
If they are to finally get out of their poor run of form, he could be the man to help them do just that.
Raheem Sterling (Liverpool)
When you mention Liverpool these days, the name about their current star in their ranks isn’t one you’d expect. Of course, Luis Suarez scored a hat-trick against Norwich, but even he has had a slow start to the season. And captain Steven Gerrard has failed to reproduce his finest form as Liverpool struggle under new manager Brendan Rodgers.
The Northern Irishman can, however, take credit for his faith in the club’s exciting youth set-up coming through into the first-team. Rodgers has included Suso, Andre Wisdom and finally, Raheem Sterling in all of his Premier League games so far this season, and it’s the latter of which has caused a media whirlwind since his introduction.
A Jamaican-born youngster, it’s easy to forget Sterling is just 17. His pace, ball control and confidence suggests he could be 24 or 25, but at such a young age he is a special talent. England manager Roy Hodgson has already been informed of Sterling’s talent, and he called him up to the senior squad for their match against Ukraine, and although he didn’t feature, there is excitement brimming around his boy’s future.
There is always a danger, however, that young players can have too much pressure put on them at a young age. But Rodgers is an experienced man dealing with younger players and he can nurture Sterling to develop into an exciting talent.
They’ve lost key men such as Ruud Van Nistelrooy, Santi Cazorla and Jose Salomon Rondon over the summer after their remarkable 4th-placed finish in La Liga, their highest-ever finish as they qualified for the Champions League for the first time in their history. And so it’s been tough for Malaga, with many predicting Manuel Pellegrini’s side would slip back into the muddy waters of mediocrity after failing to replace their star players.
But one player in particular has really risen to the challenge to ensure that Malaga can continue to challenge at a higher level in both domestic and European competitions. And that man is little playmaker Isco. Just 20 years old, the little maestro was an absolute menace for Greek side Panathinaikos when the two clubs met in the Champions League qualifiers, as Isco tore them apart.
But Isco wasn’t finished there, for when Malaga met Russian side Zenit St. Petersburg in their debut in the Champions League group stage, the Spaniard scored two wonderful goals as the Spanish side romped to a 3-0 win over Zenit. Unbeaten in the league so far with four wins from six games, Malaga look equipped with the creativity of Isco and the finishing quality of Javier Saviola.
Do not be surprised if this man is courted by the Real Madrid and Barcelona next summer, for he will be a star for certain.
Be sure to follow Joe on Twitter: @JoeKrishnan
You must be logged in to post a comment! Sign up + or log in in the top right corner.
Good List and I think you might have missed off a few players such as;
I have to agree with you when it comes to both Falcao and Raheem
Sterling. Both players are no strangers to me, Falcao was a front runner
when AVB left for Chelsea and I have to say, Falcao was back then one
of the best strikers in the world, as for Sterling, well, this fellow
was on my rader since his days from QPR and in the Liverpool Academy. He
grew up quickly and under Rodgers, he has matured and with that in
mind, he can follow Oxlade and create a super England team, with many
years to come. Now who wants to bet on Demba Ba leaving Newcastle in the
january transfer window?
Nice list my friend. This list is obviously based on the big leagues, to which I very much agree with Falcao and Isco. I doubt they will stay at their respective clubs much longer. There are a couple of other young players who have attracted my eye from the smaller nations. Henrik Mkhitaryan (Armenia) of Shakthar Donetsk, Ukraine and Aron Johannsson (Iceland) of Aarhus, Denmark. Both have been very profitable in the goalscoring market for me recently.
Insightful list... I especially agree with Falcao. That was the first name that popped into my head when I saw the blog post title, without having actually seen your picks yet.