Graham Hunter on Khedira to Arsenal, Vermaelen to Barcelona and Alves to Liverpool reports

first_imgSpanish football expert Graham Hunter joined the Alan Brazil Sports Breakfast on Wednesday to discuss all things La Liga.Hunter began by reflecting on Xavi’s decision to retire from international football after winning 133 caps for Spain and a host of major honours along the way.He went on to assess the future of Real Madrid midfielder Sami Khedira, who continues to be linked with a move to Arsenal, and discussed the likelihood of Dani Alves leaving Barcelona, amid reported interest from Liverpool.last_img read more

‘His energy and tenacity means he is Gerrard’s perfect replacement’

first_img‘The Ninja’ is not Roma’s midfield enforcer. No, that honour has been bestowed upon either Daniele De Rossi or Seydou Keita, but his energy and tenacity means he is the perfect box-to-box midfielder to replace Gerrard.Of all Roma regulars, only Jose Holebas with 2.9 is averaging more tackles per league game than Nainggolan’s 2.8. Excellent at harassing the opposition further up the pitch, the dogged Belgian is capable of winning possession for his side and instigating attacks in dangerous positions.With the likes of Sterling, Sturridge and Philippe Coutinho, among others, at Rodgers’ disposal, should Nainggolan indeed win the ball in advanced areas, the movement of the attacking stars could wreak havoc on defences.The main concern, however, is how Rodgers accommodates both Pjanic and Nainggolan in his starting XI, should Liverpool pursue their reported interest in the duo.Both players are perfectly suited to the 4-3-3 formation Rudi Garcia currently uses at the Stadio Olimpico. Rodgers, who has favoured a 3-4-3 system of late, also has ample depth in midfield in the form of Henderson, Joe Allen, Lucas Leiva and, when needed, Emre Can.Pjanic, though, is capable of playing in that offensive trio and with Nainggolan added to the midfield, the Reds would have a squad capable of launching a Premier League title assault.A double transfer will cost a pretty penny, with Pjanic alone supposedly valued at around £40m by the Roma hierarchy. But if Liverpool harbour serious title aspirations, they will need to splash the cash this summer in order to establish themselves as England’s best once more and the capture of both Pjanic and Nainggolan would go a long way to seeing that dream become a reality.You can follow all the scores, statistics and live player and team ratings with the new free-to-download WhoScored iOS app 2 Miralem Pjanic is a very creative midfielder 2 Liverpool have been linked with a massive double swoop for Roma midfielders Miralem Pjanic and Radja Nainggolan. Here, WhoScored.com provide analysis on the pair’s suitability for Anfield, and you can check out loads of Liverpool facts and figures on WhoScored.com.Steven Gerrard may not have been a part of Liverpool’s FA Cup win at Crystal Palace on Saturday, but their 2-1 victory at Selhurst Park improved the midfielder’s chances of bowing out on a high.Should the Reds reach the 2015 FA Cup final on 30 May, which happens to fall on Gerrard’s 35th birthday, it is likely to be his last competitive match in a Liverpool shirt before he jets off to Hollywood to end his career with LA Galaxy.The task ahead for manager Brendan Rodgers is how to go about replacing the iconic captain.A host of midfielders have been linked with the job, the latest of which is Roma pair Miralem Pjanic and Radja Nainggolan. They rank among the Italian side’s top rated players according to WhoScored.com, with Nainggolan (7.26 rating) and Pjanic (7.24) impressing for the Serie A title challengers.The latter is widely regarded as one of Europe’s most inventive players and while the 24-year-old has perhaps failed to reach the heights of last season, there is no denying Pjanic has the creative quality to pull the strings from midfield.An average of two key passes per league match is an impressive return for a player in Serie A, where more focus is put on defensive organisation. He has the vision and ability to open up opposition defences in the blink of an eye and it’s this quality that has reportedly attracted the interest of Liverpool.Compared to the Reds’ current crop of players, only Raheem Sterling is averaging more per key passes per league game (2.3) than Pjanic.Rodgers has a good range of attacking personnel available to him and those players would thrive with a player of Pjanic’s ilk behind them, providing the ammunition. Compared to Liverpool players, only Jordan Henderson has registered more league assists than Pjanic, with his six trumping the Bosnian’s five this season.Given that Roma boss Rudi Garcia is opting to field the experienced Francesco Totti as a deep-lying central striker, Pjanic would undoubtedly improve his assist tally in a side with Daniel Sturridge leading the attack.There is the concern, though, that the midfielder’s slight frame means he may struggle to adjust to the rigours of the Premier League, but his technical ability would render his physical deficiencies meaningless.Meanwhile, it’s also no surprise the Reds have shown an interest in team-mate Nainggolan (pictured below).last_img read more