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Review on Toby Alderweireld, Mamadou Sakho, Kyriakos Papadopoulos and Tiago Ilori
Review on Toby Alderweireld, Mamadou Sakho, Kyriakos Papadopoulos and Tiago Ilori.
I'll start off with the Sporting Lisbon player we remain the most likely to sign, Tiago Ilori. This guy is a special talent. What is unique about him is his ability to read attacks at such a young age. Having spent virtually his whole youth career as a forward, he has only recently been shifted to centre back. This has worked in his favour though, as he now has incredible awareness when it comes to tracking runners, intercepting attacks, and closing out space in his half. He is only 20 years old, and is a right footed player mainly, with adequate ability on his weaker foot. At 6ft3 he is the tallest of the 4 players on this list. Don't be fooled into thinking he is some 'Per Mertesacker' though! Ilori currently holds the Sporting Lisbon 100m Sprint record, a record previously held by Cristiano Ronaldo before he smashed it to pieces. He is lightening fast, which is a rare attribute for a defender. He is however, incredibly raw, and needs work on his tackling and marking from set pieces. Having only played 34 games for a club in a rather second tier league, he isn't very experienced. With only 1 goal in those 34 games, he hasn't done much goals wise. It's always useful if your centre backs can get forward and grab a few set piece goals, but it's by no means critical, and would be unfair to judge him on that basis. He only has 5 yellow cards to his name so far, and not a single red, so he doesn't appear to be very rash. I think he could do with being a little more solid in the tackle sometimes though. Definitely one for the future, and would be a good buy for the quoted 7m euros. He would replace Coates in the squad for sure. Being a very unique defender, I'm struggling to make an accurate comparison, but I think I'd say he's closest to a young Rio Ferdinand. Ilori is Portuguese, although he has an English mother and was born in London.
Next up is Mamadou Sakho, my personal favourite on the list. This guy is a tank. Strong in every aspect of defending, all he needs is some fine tuning, but his real qualities are his tackling, defending from set pieces and his raw strength. He is very powerful (much like our own Kolo Toure). Sakho comes with another advantage though, that is his ability to play as a left back. He is very capable at bringing the ball forward, and is actually good with the ball at his feet. Although predominantly left footed, he is good with both feet; an important trait to have as a centre back. At 23 years old, he is still young, but has vast experience for such a young defender. With 196 club games under his belt already, he is no stranger to the game, and has played in the Champions league and Ligue 1 competitions. He only has 7 goals, which is surprising as he is very strong in the air attacking wise too. I would expect him to add 3-4 goals a season if he were starting week in week out. 2 years ago, before P$G replaced him, played 45 games in one season and did bag himself 4 goals, but has since found himself surplus to requirements after the signings of Alex, Silva and Marqinhos; a shame for a player with so much talent. With 21 yellow cards and 4 red cards already, he can be rash at times, but bear in mind he has been playing first team football since he was 17/18 and I challenge you to find me a defender who loves a tackle, and doesn't have a red card. Sometimes being willing to get stuck in is only an advantage, and I would not go into games thinking he was a liability. He is rumoured to be valued at 13m euros which for me, is an absolute steal. He is desperate to break back into the French National team, and would love the opportunity to prove his boyhood club wrong, I'm sure. One thing I will warn you about is he is well known for his awful haircuts (Think Djibril Cisse)!
Another player we have been linked to frequently is Toby Alderweireld. I like Toby as a player, and think he is great to watch. He is good at reading the game, and by far the best on this list when it comes to bringing the ball out from defence. He is genuinely a right footed Agger. However, with Agger being the vice-captain and almost guaranteed to start, that is why I think we should avoid this guy unless he is the only option left. He may have a steaming shot from range, and decent vision for a pass, but he is not that strong in the tackle, turns very slowly, and is very weak from set pieces. He just cannot mark. At 24 he does have at least 6 years till he hits his peak form, but I just don't think we can afford to wait that long. For a start, he is no better than Andre Wisdom, and has even less potential. In years to come when we need a ball playing centre back to replace Agger, look no further than Lloyd Jones in the academy. He is something special and will be knocking on the door very soon. Alderweireld does have an impressive 15 goals in 186 games, but like I said with Ilori, a defender should primarily be judged on his defending. Now if you told me we were signing Alderweireld to play right back, I'd say a good move for a cheap price. He starts there for Belgium, and his ability going forward, makes him a more than capable right back, in fact a damn good one. He's certainly a better defender than Johnson, despite his weaknesses. He would probably cost us close to 10m euros, which I feel is too much for him to be a back up centre back (as he's nowhere near better than Kolo or Agger), but If he where signed to replace Johnson, that's not a bad price. With 16 yellow cards and no red cards, he has a very good disciplinary record, although that can sometimes suggest being a bad defender. Being cynical can be a talent in its own right. He's not short at 6ft1, but I just feel the other 3 are all better options for us. The Dutch league is well below the level of the Premier league, and he also plays for the best team in it (Ajax).
Kyriakos Papadopoulos is an absolute monster. He has 'Carragher' written all over him. He is extremely hard in the tackle, very strong for a relatively short defender (being 6ft), and he will dish it out to anybody. The established players for Greece and Schalke wouldn't even cross him. He has very good leadership qualities because of this though, as he will shout at, and direct just about anyone. He is very good in the air as well, and rarely loses his man at set pieces. He could do with working on his reading of the game a little, and he needs to be calmed down. With 30 yellow cards and 2 red cards in just 105 games, the mans a psycho! It's one of my favourite things about him, but he needs to control himself sometimes. He loves to get forward and chip in with goals from set pieces as well with 7 goals already. It's worth noting as well, that like Sakho he plays in a strong league (Bundesliga) compared to Alderweireld and Ilori. He's still very young at 21 years old, so has much improvement to make. What is most concerning though, is his injury record. He has recently had a serious knee injury much like Martin Kelly, and has reportedly just tweaked it in training again. Valued at 18m euros, I'd say we should avoid this player. As talented as he is, he just comes with too much risk, and too much baggage. A shame, because he could turn out to be one of the best in the world one day. I cannot see the transfer committee sanctioning a move for him though. Don't get me wrong, I'd love another tough Greek in our defence, but he's too risky. He's very capable with the ball at his feet, with the ability to fill in as a defensive midfielder, and he can use both of his feet, despite preferring his right. Unfortunately, his versatility still does not justify an 18m outlay. If that could be negotiated down to maybe 12/13m euros, it would be a tougher decision, but for now, it's a no go.
30 August 2013
Thank you for sharing this great review.
29 August 2013
I absolutely love papa great reviews ed
29 August 2013
Good stuff Adam. My preference would be Sakho and Ilori.