2010 World Cup Roundup Heading into Quarterfinals
A day off for the first time in nearly three weeks from the World Cup.
How would a bunch of loose odds and ends sound? Does that sound like something you might be interested in?
Let's take a gander at who's stock increased at the World Cup:
* Kevin-Prince Boateng, Ghana -- The Ghana/Germany midfielder starting coming on at the end of the year for Portsmouth, up to and including ending Michael Ballack's Cup dreams in the FA Cup final. He seems a good fit for English football, especially for a midtable team looking for an unpredictable, explosive element. It was hinted on ESPN that Roberto Martinez might be interested in signing him for Wigan. Teams like Stoke City, Birmingham and perhaps even Newcastle United should take notice.
Boateng's been great at the World Cup, no doubt, but in the weekly grind of the club season his discipline will become and issue. Not sure he's a consistent, week-in, week-out guy you build a team around. A definite loose cannon that would be a boom or a bust in the right spot.
Still think Tottenham made the right decision to let him go. Can't see him functioning side-by-side with Tom Huddlestone.
* Michael Bradley, U.S. -- Wrote a lot about this already. Bradley might in the envious position where he can wait to go to the right situation to arise, rather than cashing in off a strong World Cup.
His name is out there. The right people are tracking him. Another year or six months at Borussia Mönchengladbach aren't going to ruin the 22-year-old.
Bradley ought to be picky and wait for a Top 25-ish European club comes calling with some type of playing time assurances.
* Mesut Özil, Germany -- Lived up to the pre-tournament hype. Wonder if he follows the path of the man he replaced at Werder Bremen -- Diego? If I'm a club like AC Milan I open up the check book and do everything I can to sign the 21-year-old. Can't see Bayern Munich(*) really needing to sign him at this point and no other German clubs probably will pay what he's going to cost.
I'm certain Arsene Wenger is wondering right now if Cesc Fabregas leaves for Barcelona, is Özil a player to reconfigure the Gunners lineup and build around?
(*) Didn't list Thomas Mueller since, at Bayern Munich, he's essentially at the top of the pyramid.
* Keisuke Honda, Japan -- The bleach-blond haired attacking midfielder-cum-striker stood out for Japan. That said, CSKA Moscow just bought him in January, signing him to a four year deal. Unless somebody makes them a highball offer, can't see him making a move even though his stock will never be as high as it is right now.
* Luis Suarez, Uruguay -- With 49 goals in 48 games last year for Ajax, you'd think the Suarez was already a hot commodity. Then you remember names like Mateja Kežman and Afonso Alves. Suarez's brace vs. South Korea helped allay some doubts. He's probably well on his way to a solid team in La Liga, unless the long-standing Arsenal rumors prove to be correct.
* Siphiwe Tshabalala, South Africa -- He was just released by Kaizer Chiefs. On the basis of his pretty goal, which opened the scoring account at the World Cup, some club out there is going to sign him, if only for the publicity ... and maybe his fun-to-say last name.
* Giovani Dos Santos, Mexico -- Don't think the Mexican starlet's game is suited for England, so it's up to Harry Redknapp wants to sell him. Doesn't appear as if Frank Rijkaard decided to sign him long-term at Galatasaray, so a savvy club might want to grab him on loan for the 2010-11 season.
* Park Chu-Young, South Korea -- Maybe he's in the right spot, playing a key role at Monaco. Still, his free kicks along would make him an asset at a bigger club.
* Miloš Krasić, Serbia -- Another CSKA. Perhaps he's destined to be the Serbia version of Croatia's Dario Srna, sticking in Eastern European relative obscurity.
* Alexis Sánchez, Chile -- Another guy that lived up to the hype at the World Cup, standing out in Marcelo Bielsa's attacking side. Figure he's on track for a move up the Italian ladder from Udinese or Spain or even a big English club. He'll have plenty of offers.
Almost as intriguing to the next destination for Bielsa, who turned heads with his unconventional approach with Chile.
I'll be 100 percent honest. Until watching the World Cup I was fairly convinced Manchester United signing Javier Hernandez -- Chicharito -- was a business decision by the Glazers, more than a football decision by Sir Alex Ferguson.
My line of thinking, Manchester United is touring North America this summer. What better way to drive up interest than by signing a Mexican rising star?
Mexico remains a untapped market for European clubs since Mexicans traditionally tend to be fiercely loyal to their own players and domestic league -- with good reason, too. There's a lot of money to be made from Mexican fans, too. Simply look at all the El Tri friendlies staged by the Mexican Federation on U.S. soil in the pre-World Cup run-up.
On shirt sales alone, Hernandez would provide a solid cash injection for Manchester United, which needs every penny it can find.
After the Cup, I've changed my line of thinking. Sure, Hernandez is going to help United at the cash register.
But this move looks a lot more like when the club signed Park Ji-Sung, another move labeled a publicity stunt to raise money in South Korea.
Mexican players have had trouble adjusting to England. Maybe Hernandez bucks the trend. He's at least young fresh legs and not the rotting corpse of the artist formerly known as Michael Owen.
Goal technology in some way shape or form that doesn't slow or stop the game. Yes please.
Replay, challenges, etc. No thanks.
Unless you're playing a "FIFA" game there is no way to accurately call offside correctly 100 percent of the time. It's an impossibility.
Considering all match officials are connected via headset, there should be some kind of mechanism, too, where the fourth official or somebody off field and note the ref when a player fakes a foul which draws a card.
FIFA can't bury its head in the stand any longer. There's simply too many eyeballs watching these games to allow a gaffe like Lampard's "goal" to ever happen again.
Back to (Premier League) Business:
* I hope every single Liverpool fan who'd grown tired of Rafa Benitez's rotations system rolls out the red carpet at Anfield for the arrival of Roy Hodgson. He'll have to adjust, but the last two seasons at Fulham Hodgson played, as injuries would allowed, an unchanged 4-4-2 week-to-week.
As it stands the Liverpool squad is hovering right around 50 players right now, which is borderline obscene. Not sure how you pare it down without giving away players at cut rate prices. And no, it doesn't seem likely Clint Dempsey is going north with Hodgson.
The bigger issue for Liverpool, naturally, is the long term health of both Fernando Torres and Steven Gerrard.
If Hodgson can't make it work at Anfield, time to clean complete house and see where the chips fall.
* Fulham fans are on the ledge right now. Can you blame them with Sven-Goran Eriksson's name at the top of the next boss at Craven Cottage.
The fall from grace is rapid in European soccer.
Fulham could be going from playing in the Europa League final to fighting off relegation in the span of 10 months.
* Manchester City decided to spend almost $35 million on David Silva. A good player, mind you.
Where is he going to play? City is another team with almost 50 players on the senior squad. Does this mean half the Premier League or Championship is going to be Liverpool and City players out on loan?
And wouldn't Roberto Mancini be better served soaring up the defense with more Jérôme Boateng types than attacking midfield players, which the club has in spades?