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Transfer Analysis: Stina Blackstenius to Arsenal

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Arsenal Women have spent a lot of money this season. In the summer, the Gunners signed some big names, such as Nikita Parris, Mana Iwabuchi and Tobin Heath. However, despite signing 5 players during the summer, it seems that the Gunners aren’t stopping there, as striker Stina Blackstenius is expected to make a move to Meadow Park in the next few hours, especially considering that she has now officially left Sweden.

However, this hasn’t been a straightforward transfer. In fact, this time two weeks ago, it seemed like Manchester United were going to be the ones making a move for the 25-year-old. But, after Arsenal’s squad depletion, which saw them not have a single forward player on the bench against Birmingham (a game which they ended up losing 2-0), they have swiftly moved towards acquiring the services of Blackstenius.

WHO IS STINA BLACKSTENIUS?

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Emma Stina Blackstenius is a 25-year-old Swedish striker who last played for BK Häcken in the Swedish top flight. She started her playing career at her hometown football club, Vadstena GIF, where she also played in her youth career. Blackstenius joined the first-team setup in April 2011, against BK Kenty in the Östergötland region Division 3, the fifth tier of women’s football in Sweden. She scored twice on her debut, which showed that there was a lot more to come from the then 15-year-old.

It didn’t take long at all for the teenage starlet to show that she was ready for a bigger challenge. She thrived in her debut season, scoring 21 games in 18 league games. She backed it up in the following season, scoring an outstanding 38 league goals in just 16 games. So, it wasn’t a surprise when a bigger team came calling.

After her breakthrough start to senior football, Blackstenius signed a three-year contract with Linköpings, who play in the Damallsvenskan, the Swedish top-flight. She was initially phased into the team, typically being brought on from the bench, or playing in cup games. However, towards the end of the season, she was given a bigger role, and started all of the remaining 11 league games, compared to in the first 11, where she only started twice.

As a result, she went on a goalscoring run, scoring six goals in the final five games, as they finished third. Throughout her time at Linköpings, she improved her quality, and formed a brilliant duo with current Chelsea striker Pernille Harder, including the pair finishing as the top two in the goalscoring charts as Linköpings won the Damallsvenskan.

That was both Harder and Blackstenius’ last season at the club, as they helped bring 3 trophies to the club, helping to bring back some trophies to the club, which hadn’t been seen since 2009. It was one of Linköpings’ greatest spells, as they haven’t seen a trophy since 2017, and finished mid-table last season.

After leaving Linköpings at the end of the Swedish 2016 season, Blackstenius signed a two-and-a-half-year deal with French club Montpellier, in the 2016-17 season. On her debut, she scored the winner against PSG, in a 2-1 victory for La Paillade.

Due to the difference between seasons in Sweden and France, Blackstenius joined halfway through the season in France, and so only played 11 matches, but still scored 7 goals, helping them to second place. In her first full season, Blackstenius scored 12 goals in 20 games, helping Montpellier to a third-place finish. She fell out of favour towards the start of the 18/19 season, and as a result, opted to leave in January 2019.

There were many questions about where Stina would go, but not many people expected a move back to Linköpings. However, that’s what happened, as she signed a two-year deal with her former club. In her only season during her second spell, she scored nine goals, but Linköpings only finished in fifth.

Ahead of the 2020 season, Blackstenius moved to BK Häcken, who were named Kopparbergs/Göteborg at the time. She won the Damallsvenskan during her debut season, but hadn’t contributed as much to it in terms of goals as she would have liked. However, in the 2021 season, despite Häcken not winning the title, she led the way in terms of both goals and assists, with 17 goals and 8 assists, which got her onto her first-ever Ballon d’Or shortlist.

And that’s where her career is right now. 184 club goals, 244 goals. 74 caps for her country. Stina Blackstenius is a sensational footballer, could she perform a 2016 type partnership with Vivianne Miedema?

         












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Getting senses into WHY Arsenal are pushing for Arthur Melo

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Arthur Melo is a player most famously known for the strange and often-joked-about transfer saga he was involved in when Juventus purchased him in the summer of 2020 for more than 80 million pounds, swapping Miralem Pjanic to Barcelona in the process. Arthur is now back in the news as reports have surfaced linking the former Grêmio and current Juventus midfielder to Arsenal this month. Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta is apparently a fan of Arthur’s and, with a depleted midfield core that has recently lost players like Ainsley Maitland-Niles to transfer and Granit Xhaka and Thomas Partey to red cards, Arteta and Arsenal are clearly looking at the potential of bringing in a new player to restore some balance.

Arthur is an interesting player, he specializes as a number 8 who links the backline to the frontline and likes to be heavily involved in overall play, drifting to the ball-side frequently when he isn’t. Arthur’s qualities are hard to miss, he is a mazey dribbler with a consistent first touch and at his best he can act as a metronome to retain possession for his team, give them a comfortable out-ball, and recycle play when the pressure is on. Contrary to his ability to recycle play and retain possession, underlying stats show that he also likes to pass into the final third with regularity and isn’t afraid to try and break the lines if he spots a forward player making a run. One of the issues when evaluating Arthur is that he has only amassed 1096 minutes over the past 365 days according to FBref, this means that a majority of his underlying metrics are potentially very misleading and don’t accurately reflect his ability or his form. Using mostly the eye test for the rest of this piece, I will attempt to analyze Arthur as a player and evaluate his potential impact on Arsenal if his reported loan comes to fruition.

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I want to start with the things Arthur is known for and how well he’s done those things during his time at Juventus. Arthur is a classic metronomic number 8 with vision, active scanning, an excellent first touch, and great dribbling ability which allows him to retain possession and keep the play alive. It is understandable why Barcelona decided to purchase him given their connection to possession-based football and high-volume midfield passers. His job, which he has done quite for spells since his move to Europe, is to keep his team in the game and on the ball. He does this by dropping between the center backs or just ahead of them in the left half-spaces and making himself available either with his back to goal or on the half-turn, looking to progress the ball further upfield or beat a man to break the press. Arthur is a strong dribbler with great lower body strength and the ability to essentially bump defenders off him when he is pressed, this makes him a fairly safe option to pass to in these scenarios. He is mobile as well and likes to drift around the pitch to stay involved in the build-up. While his vision is also pretty good, Arthur does struggle to execute long balls, particularly in the air, preferring to keep the ball on the ground whenever possible. It is hard to tell if this is an issue of weakness in his muscles or if it’s just a reflex or gap in his game.

Some smaller details I noticed while watching Arthur play; He has a consistent ground diagonal pass in his repertoire that he uses quite often to link play to attackers dropping in. You can see this during his time at Barcelona playing with Luis Suarez, often Arthur would receive the ball in the left-half space just below or just above the halfway line, assuming he isn’t being pressed, Arthur would take a few touches toward the opposition goal before zipping and perfectly weight ball diagonally across the pitch the aforementioned Suarez who is dropping deep to receive. The quality of these passes and the vision to execute them cannot be overstated and would be a great addition to the Arsenal system which often deploys it’s striker in a deeper, more creative role. Another thing Arthur is great at is losing his defender with a drop of the shoulder, it’s not something I saw a lot in the footage I watched of him at Juventus but, again, it’s something he has in his toolkit and it can be vitally important in breaking lines to spring an attack. Arthur has lost a bit of his explosiveness due to injury in recent years but this skill can still be applicable in certain situations and shows that he has the tools to be very press resistant when he’s at the top of his game.

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Arthur’s weaknesses aren’t as concerning as some on Twitter or in the media may suggest but in regards to his ability to play in the Premier League, they may be exacerbated by a move to England. Firstly, Arthur has been fairly injury-ridden since leaving his boyhood club Grêmio in March 2018, in total he missed 135 days of action due to injury during his time at Barcelona according to Transfermarkt, which amounted to 24 games out. His time at Juventus hasn’t been much better, he’s missed 17 games for the Bianconeri since joining, including a 77 day absence after having surgery done on his right leg. A move to the Premier League will likely not help fix these injury woes as many foreign players and managers alike have called the PL the most physically demanding and brutal league in Europe. Another issue Arthur has is his overall physique, at about 5 foot 6, Arthur is not the most physically imposing player on the pitch, while this may not be a huge issue when playing in a less physical league like La Liga or a less active league like Serie A, it may cause problems for Arthur if he were to join Arsenal in England. While he does possess wonderful lower body strength, this does not guarantee he will be able to fight off tacklers with the same consistency as he does in Serie A for Juventus.

When it comes to how Arthur would fit into Mikel Arteta’s system at Arsenal, I can only speculate that he would be signed as a backup to Granit Xhaka who has played as a box-to-box number 8 this season when Arsenal move to a 4-3-3 setup. Arthur plays in almost the same positions as Xhaka but also has the mobility to drift which is something Xhaka doesn’t do a lot of at all. Arthur would be tasked primarily with ball retention and with progressing the ball through the lines to an attacking player. Overall, this fit looks good on paper but I question it in practice given Arthur’s weaknesses and his lack of physical and aerial presence. With a plethora of exciting attacking talents at his disposal, Arteta is most in need of a physically imposing number 8 who can break up play, win 50-50s and do all the on-ball work mentioned above. In this regard, Arthur feels like 50% of the player Arsenal need right now. All of this being said, Arthur Melo is far from washed up or a bad player, he possesses high technical ability, great vision, and has tools to play line-breaking passes. He is also a clever dribbler and at his best, is very hard to press due to his low center of gravity and comfort, turning either way and driving at different angles. Regardless of how his latest transfer saga plays out, there is a place for Arthur somewhere at a top team in Europe, whether that team is Arsenal or Juventus, or neither is a question we may still be pondering long after deadline day.












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Conte to bolster attack, as Spurs close in on Adama Traore

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Since the arrival of Antonio Conte, Spurs have looked much more compact and stable in terms of going forward. The balance between the defense and the attack has been on par with the expectations. But, we all know it takes time to bring a team out of their rustiness.

Although, Conte has had a lot to say about Spur’s poor run of form, before his arrival. The Italian has mentioned his concerns regarding the inability of the top players at the club to perform under pressure. The likes of Kane, Moura, Dele Alli, have all run pale. Leaving Son Heung-min as their sole consistent performer. However, Spurs are getting back in the shape. And now that transfer window is in its closing stages, Conte and Spurs feel the need of bringing in a new face in the squad. Just to freshen up the scheme of things.

The Lilywhites are after a Spanish speedster, who has been wreaking havoc in the Premier League since his arrival.

Who is Adama Traore?

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Nowadays, not many talk about Spanish players. And when someone does, then curiosity just take over every other feeling. Likewise, the Premier League has got a few Spanish players to talk about. But the player who has sparked the treat, recently, is really the one from the creams.

During his time in Spain, Adama Traore played in the Barcelona B team. A La Masia product, and was attracting worldwide attention already. After his arrival on the English soil, he spent a short stint at the Villa Park in the 2015/16 season. 20 at the time, Traore started looking for new pastures and found one with Middlesbrough, in the summer of 2016. He starred the show there in his debut season. Winning the Middlesbrough’s Fans’ Player of the Year, Young Player of the Year and Players’ Player of the Year awards.

Although, his years prior to his days here at the Wolverhampton Wanderers, are not much talked off. No one can disregard the fact that Traore has developed into what he is now because of his early playing years.

Considered the breakthrough point in his career, Traore joined Wolves in the 18/19 season. He has not looked back since then. He developed as a beast under Nuno Espirito Santo, former Wolves manager. The Portuguese was able to work with the abilities Traore already possessed, and curated his skills accordingly. In the subsequent seasons, Traore started wreaking havoc in the oppositions’ camp. He has hence been regarded as one of the most feared wingers in the Premier League. It is only fair though! Since there are only a few players in the world football right now who can outrun Virgil Van Dijk. And the Spanish “Usain Bolt” is certainly one of them.

How can Spurs benefit from Traore?

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No wonder that, just a couple of months after his return to the Premier League Antonio Conte has been heavily linked with the winger. After the recent rumors taking a serious turn. It has returned a mix reaction from the fans. While it still has not been confirmed, yet many fans and experts alike, are calling it a done deal already.

But, keeping all the “what ifs” and “maybes” aside. If we look into the technical aspect of things, the London club could actually benefit from this deal. Spurs have lacked the presence of a good winger in their squad, lately.

While they have got a decent midfield, and a world class attacker in Harry Kane. They have highly missed a good winger’s presence from the squad. A prime Lamela is certainly being missed. But everyone should be allowed to move on. Where Son Heung-min has literally filled in almost all the positions for Tottenham Hotspurs, Conte is not the manager who can go on with the fact that his team lacks in the wing plays.

At the rate football is progressing, modern day aspect of the games ask you to pace up and be a part of the fast paced games. A level at which Spurs are languishing behind. Although the likes Bergwijn and Moura do step up from time-to-time and deliver. But then the problem of consistency arises.

That is where someone like Adama Traore comes in. He has the ability to drive the plays forward, and take into opposition’s halves. With the constant shimmy up and down the flank, Traore generally ends up troubling his countering defender. It is hard to defend someone, who can outrun you, put crosses in for your teammates, and even score bangers themselves.

Can Traore fit into the Spurs’ squad?

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Primarily, Conte and Spurs will be eyeing to get a bargain for the Spanish winger. Due to his lack of performances lately, Wolves are not in a place to put a higher bid on the table for their “Beast”. Although it still has not been confirmed, from either of the sides. But, if it is to happen then it will be interesting to watch, how the Wolves side cope with his departure. It is a food for thought for another day.

Meanwhile, it looks like Conte is the running away with this deal. If the Italian is able to curate the skills Traore already possess, and work on them. Then we are looking at an Elite winger. And talking about adaptability, well it should not be a matter of concern. Mainly because the system Spurs play in currently, someone like Traore can play a big part in it.

Well, time will tell if Traore will ever make it to London or not. And if he does, will he continue writing his success story or will he succumb to the White Hart curse?! We shall see.

MUST READ: Franck Kessie – Does he fit the bill for Antonio Conte?



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Chelsea’s Defensive Revamp! Who might Leave?

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The Champions of Europe have enjoyed great success under Tuchel and most credits should be given to their defense. They have not been very impressive in the attacking third but the defense has rarely let them down. Since Tuchel’s arrival, in a year, they have just conceded 42 goals in the 67 matches they have played. They made a record of conceding the least goals in a Champions League season, which they eventually ended up winning. All these credits have to be given to their defensive line but things might change come the next season. Many players could be leaving and could be replaced by many names floating. Here we analyze what could happen come the beginning of next season.

Who will LEAVE?

Andreas Christensen

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The Danish center back is one of the most talented center backs in the league and has played really well in patches for the Blues. He had a tournament to remember in the Euros last year as Denmark had a dream run. Since then, he became a crucial player in Chelsea’s back 3 and became a regular starter. Also, he came on as a substitute for Silva in the Champions League final for Chelsea and did well to help maintain the clean sheet.

He is in the last year of his contract and few months back, everything looked very settled with his contract but things took a U-turn quickly as even after a verbal agreement, he has denied the Chelsea offer. He has recently changed his agent but the stand remains the same. The board and the player are not near when the contract is being considered and thus likeliness of him leaving is very high. According to reports, he will not be joining any Premier League club in respect on his stay at Chelsea and Spain looks the likeliest destination with Barcelona being the favorites. Barcelona are looking for players who can join as free agents and need a massive improvement in their defense. Christensen could be a very good addition fitting all the bills.

Likeliness to Leave: 9/10

Cesar Azpilicueta

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Chelsea’s Leader, Legend and Captain has been a great servant for the club since 2012 and since then has been an integral part in all their title triumphs. Since the departure of Cahil, he has taken the captaincy armband and has showed every bit on and off the pitch to prove why he wears it. Last season he lifting the Champions League Trophy made him enter the elite club of captains who have lifted the coveted silverware. Not just as a leader, Azpilicueta has been performing at his absolute best despite entering the 30+ age club. Chelsea fans consider him as one of the most consistent players who rarely has a rough patch of games.

But despite his much important presence in the dressing room, he might be the victim of Chelsea’s strict contract rules. Chelsea board have been reluctant in offering a contract of 2+ years when a player enters the 30-year club. For the same reason, many legends for Chelsea have not ended their playing careers at the club and same situation might happen with Azpilicueta who looks for a 2-year contract with an option to extend one more season. But Blues are just offering one year contract with an option to extend, thus the talks falling short. Recent news, suggest that he has had verbal agreements complete with Barcelona, but Chelsea board are still waiting for his final words.

Likeliness to Leave: 7.5/10

Antonio Rudiger

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Arguably Chelsea’s best player since the Tuchel era, Rudiger has established himself as one of the best center backs in Europe. He has a had a year to remember with him receiving a great share of praise for Chelsea’s success. Rudiger right now is one of the pillars of this team and his presence on the pitch is irreplaceable. He not only is very important as a player but is also a senior member in the squad who is a part of the leadership squad. His ability to play as the left center back despite being a right footed player is just unmatchable and thus finding a replacement for the German is near to impossible for Chelsea.

He too is in the last year of his contract and before January, a move out of the club looked very likely with he and club looking very far from agreement due to the financial demands. Real Madrid looked a possible destination for the German but the Spanish club is now out of the race. Also, the deal between Chelsea and the player’s agent is coming closer to common grounds. This could be the happiest deal for Chelsea fans as they just love everything about the German.

Likeliness to Leave: 3/10

Marcos Alonso

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The Spanish wing-back has been a player who is always around the news for Chelsea. Many times, it has been due to his heroics on the pitch while the rest has been due to his very poor form or a bust up with the manager. Despite all, the Spanish wing-back is a very crucial player for his team and is providing a much important cover for Ben Chilwell who is out for the season. Though he is criticized for his defending, his attacking outputs from the back is very special. His ability on dead balls has also helped Chelsea in many instances. He indeed is one of the best wingbacks in the league and definitely a very good squad player for Chelsea.

The Spaniard though is not happy with the minutes he is receiving and some recent reports state that an exit in the summer is very much possible. He is looking for a move to Spain and to a team where he could start all the matches. This would though add up to Chelsea’s existing wingback problems with Emerson’s future is still uncertain.

Likeliness to Leave: 3/10

MUST READ: Why Sergino Dest can actually flourish at Chelsea?












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