25th March – Mehmet Ekici

Mehmet Ekici might not be the biggest name in world football but he is proving that he is a fantastic footballer in Turkey and one that will probably be linked with a move to England in the near future.

The midfielder has always had very good ability but now he is back in Turkey he is proving that he can grab goals from the middle of the pitch. He obviously learnt a lot from his early years in Germany and has benefitted from that which is why it is not a surprise to see him performing so well at the moment in a league that is nowhere near as strong. Ekici is now 25 and will be hoping that he can get one more chance at least in the better leagues in Europe.

He started his career at Bayern Munich and featured regularly for the second team from 2007 and was one of their more impressive players during the 2009-10 season which saw him score 12 goals in 29 games and this caught the attention of the first team as he was promoted to the squad along with David Alaba. He was included in the Champions League squads for two seasons but unfortunately never got on the pitch and injuries stopped him from getting him on the pitch in other competitions.

Ekici BM

To guarantee more first team opportunities in July 2010 he joined Nurnberg on a season long loan to prove that he could cope with the top flight in Germany. He would go on to play 34 times in all competitions and score four goals and get eight assists which was a decent season and it led to him being linked with permanent moves away from Bayern Munich.

On the 18th May 2011 he did leave permanently and joined Werder Bremen for a fee believed to be around €5 million. He got off to a good start at his new club and scored his first goal on the 17th September 2011 against his former team Nurnberg. However, he struggled to keep his place in the team on a regular basis and over the next three seasons he only played 41 league games and he was slightly forgotten about.

1. FC Nürnberg - Eintracht Frankfurt 3:0

This meant he needed something new to kick start his career and so on 15th August 2014 he joined Turkish side Trabzonspor. Once again he has started to show his talents and so far this season so far scored nine goals in 21 league games which has brought him to the attention of other clubs. It will be interesting to see where his career can take him next but he will certainly want to be adding to his 10 international caps which is not as many as he should have gotten as he was very well liked by former manager Guus Hiddink.

Ekici WB

The final word can go to Werder Bremen sporting director Klaus Allofs. “We are delighted to have found in Mehmet a player that fits perfectly into our plans. He is a young player with German roots, who has had a strong season.”

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4th March – Landon Donovan

Landon Donovan is known as America’s greatest ever soccer player and to everyone else he is known as a very talented footballer that maybe should have made the permanent move to England.

Despite only being 33 he has decided to retire as a player and many feel he could have offered more to the game on the pitch but he has done a lot already for the sport in terms of building the reputation of football in his homeland. It would have been good to have seen him get more chances abroad but it never quite happened for him when he was younger and he has accomplished everything he wanted to in America so it seems like a wise decision to retire.

Donovan first came to attention in 1999 when he was at the IMG Academy in America and after impressing in a youth tournament in Europe he was given a six year contract by German side Bayer Leverkusen. However he struggled to adapt in Germany largely because of his young age and spent a lot of time back home training with the USA under 17 team. In 2001 he did eventually move away and joined San Jose Earthquakes on loan and was an instant success, leading them to the MLS Championship in 2001 and 2003 and become one of the first recognisable football players in America. In his four years at the club, he scored 32 goals and provided 29 assists.

EARTHQUAKES DONOVAN CELEBRATES MLS TITLE WIN OVER CHICAGO FIRE.

In 2005 he returned to Leverkusen to give it another try but after just seven appearances he made it clear he wanted to return to America and he signed for LA Galaxy. His first season at the club was exceptional as he scored 12 goals and got another 10 assists as he helped his club win the MLS Cup but the following year was not as successful for the club but Donovan still performed very well.

It was difficult for Donovan in 2007 after David Beckham joined the club because he had to give up the captain’s armband and this seemed to annoy the American international. He was still producing good football but when Beckham joined AC Milan, Donovan gave an interview which was equally praised and criticised by the media as he slated Beckham. However, on Beckham’s return they patched up their differences and he went from strength to strength as a player and the two were very effective going forward.

2010 LA Galaxy Headshot

Donovan also spent time away from LA Galaxy during the off season like Beckham, firstly having an unsuccessful spell at Bayern Munich in 2008 but becoming somewhat of a cult hero at Everton after joining them in January 2010. Straight away he showed his talents in the Premier League by being named the club’s Player of the Month in January but after 13 games and two goals he returned to America. On his return he would go on to score his 100th goal for Galaxy and become their all time leading scorer.

He wasn’t to stay away from Everton for long as in December 2011 it was announced he would be signing for them on loan again. Once again he was equally successful and in his nine games this time he managed to set up seven goals and produce some excellent performances and the Everton fans and players were once again sad to see him leave.

Britain Soccer Premier League

On the 25th May 2014 he became the highest ever goal scorer in MLS history, hitting his 136th goal against Philadelphia Union but on the 7th August he announced he would be retiring from the game.

The final word can go to Everton teammate Phil Neville. “He’s a hero at Goodison Park, and he’s played less than 20 games for us. I’ve played with some world class right sided players in my time, and he’s up there with them. I’m telling the truth here when I say the last two times he’s been over he’s totally transformed our season.”

26th February – Ole Gunnar Solskjaer

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer might have been known as a super sub during his time at Manchester United but he was a lot better than just that and arguably could have scored even more goals in his career.

Now 42 he is trying to become known as a good manager but after getting relegated with Cardiff City from the Premier League and not being able to challenge for promotion he now has some rebuilding to do after a successful spell in charge of Molde in Norway. ‘The Baby Faced Assassin’ was feared whenever he was on the sidelines as a player and he will be hoping that in the future other teams and managers will have that same fear when he is giving instructions from the dugout.

Solskjaer started his career in Norway with Third Division side Clausenengen and as a 17 year old impressed in the Otta Cup with 17 goals in just six games. In his five years at the club he averaged more than a goal a game and in 1994 he scored 31 of Clausenengen’s 47 goals in the Second Division. Ahead of the 1995 season he signed for Molde and scored 20 times in his first season in the top flight and then followed this up with 11 goals in the first 12 games of the following campaign which led to a lot of speculation about his future.

OGS Clause

On the 29th July 1996 Solskjaer joined Manchester United and would quickly become known as one of the best Premier League bargains ever. After coming on as a substitute he scored six minutes into his debut against Blackburn Rovers and would go on to finish the season with 18 league goals. The striker was lethal off the bench and was always capable of grabbing important and memorable goals, especially during the 1998-99 treble winning season. Famously the Norwegian scored the stoppage time winner against Bayern Munich in the Champions League and will forever be a Manchester United legend because of that moment.

OGS Molde

Despite a fantastic goals to minutes ratio he never became a regular until the 2001-02 season but this was really the only time he was first choice as a striker as afterwards he was either dropped back to the bench or played on the right wing. He proved to himself as a right winger and was intelligent enough to still score a lot of goals from this position. At the start of the 2003-04 season he was first choice in this position but an injury against Panathinaikos kept him out for several months. When he returned he helped the club win the FA Cup but had to undergo surgery in the summer and missed the entire 2004-05 season.

More injuries would keep him out of action and when he scored against Charlton Athletic on the 23rd August 2006 it was his first league goal since April 2003. He went on a decent run of goalscoring form afterwards and ended the 2006-07 season with 11 goals which was quite impressive. However, his career ended on a slightly negative note as his final game was the 2007 FA Cup final which they lost to Chelsea 1-0.

Leeds v Man Utd/Solskjaer

As a manager he won the Norwegian Premier League title twice with Molde as well as the Norwegian Football Cup. Solskjaer will be hoping that he gets another chance in England and can show everyone his ability.

The final word can go to Alex Ferguson. “It was obvious that his desire was to be a coach but more than that it was a desire to be the best you can be. I’m very lucky that he never complained. I don’t think any other player of that quality would have stood for it. He had that fantastic patience.”

6th November – Andre Schurrle

Andre Schurrle might be a World Cup winner with Germany and have a lot of ability but it seems like he has yet to convince Jose Mourinho that he deserves to be in his starting eleven despite scoring some important goals for the club.

The winger isn’t always fully switched on when it comes to defending and this is largely why Mourinho might not see his future at Chelsea. However, there is no doubting that going forward there are few wingers who can get into as many goalscoring positions, he times his runs from the wing into the middle of the box very well and has got a lot of goals from this.

Schurrle is still only 24 so he still has a lot of time to learn different parts of the game and will keep on improving over the next few years. The German international started his career at Mainz, making his Bundesliga debut on the opening day of the 2009-10 season against Bayer Leverkusen in a 2-2 draw. He had to wait a month to score his first goals in 3-2 win over Bochum. He had a decent first season and in September 2010 the club agreed a fee with Leverkusen and he would join the club at the start of the next season. This obviously gave Shurrle a lot of confidence and he would score 15 goals in 33 games.
Schurrle Mainz
After joining Leverkusen he scored on his debut in the German Cup against Dynamo Dresden but had to wait until the 15th October 2011 to score his first Bundesliga club, rescuing a point with a late goal in a 2-2 draw with Borussia Monchengladbach. A few days later he would score his first Champions League goal in a win over Valencia. He ended his first season with nine goals in all competitions and was putting in some great performances. Yet again he would have an even better second season and was a vital part of Leverkusen’s first away win against Bayern Munich since October 1989, setting up a goal for Stefan Kiebling. He finished his second at the club with 14 goals and nine assists.
Schurrle BL
On the 25th June 2013 Schurrle joined Chelsea and made his debut as a substitute in a 2-0 win over Hull City in the Premier League. His first goal would come in a 2-1 win over title rivals Manchester City and he would also go on to score twice against Stoke City a few weeks later. But his best moment of the season came when he scored a hatrick against Fulham in a 3-1 win and then later in the month was named the Man of the Match after the 6-0 win over Arsenal where he was a constant threat, setting up the first goal and scoring the second.
Schurrle Chelsea
This season he scored a fantastic goal on the opening day of the season against Burnley and scored once again against Manchester City to help his side get a point away to the defending champions. But it has been struggle for him to remain a first choice player this season as Mourinho has preferred other options.

The final word can go to Jose Mourinho. “Andre Schurrle is still so young but he already has great history because he plays in his national team. So he is a player who is absolutely ready and he gives us more than one position in attack and adds quality. He will be important for us.”

2nd November – Stevan Jovetic

Manchester City beat rivals Manchester United which meant it was a double celebration for birthday boy Stevan Jovetic who started the game just behind Sergio Aguero.

The 25 year old has not had the greatest time so far at City with multiple injuries keeping him out for long periods but when he has been fit he has really shown his potential. So far this season the club have been hit and miss but if they can get a good combination between Aguero and Jovetic then they will surely come close to winning trophies. The Montenegro international can play in a few different positions so he will be a fantastic option for Manuel Pellegrini.

Jovetic started his career at FK Partizan and made his debut on the 9th April 2006 at the age of just 16 and would go on to become an important player soon afterwards. On the 2nd August 2007 he scored a hatrick against Zrinjski in a UEFA Cup qualifying match and then become the club’s youngest ever captain after being given the armband at the age of just 17 years, 10 months and 21 days. In his final season at the club he scored 19 goals in 33 games and was then being linked with moves away from the club.
Jovetic Partizan
On the 10th May 2008 Jovetic joined Italian side Fiorentina. After a slightly difficult first season at the club he showed his potential during the 2009-10 season where he impressed mostly in the Champions League. He scored both goals in a 2-0 win over Liverpool on the 29th September and then followed this up with two more against Bayern Munich in a 3-2 win later in the competition. In total he got 11 goals in all competitions and a lot was expected of him in the following season, however he suffered a cruciate ligament injury in his right knee which meant that he did not play a single game.
Soccer - UEFA Champions League - Group E - Fiorentina v Liverpool - Artemio Franchi Stadium
But on his return he was in superb form and scored twice against Parma. He finished the season with another 12 goals in 26 games but the club finished in a disappointing 13th place but Jovetic decided to stay with the club for one more season and hit another 13 goals before joining Manchester City on the 19th July 2013. He made his debut in a 0-0 draw with Stoke City before scoring his first goals for the club in a 5-0 win over Wigan Athletic in the League Cup.
Jovetic MC
Injuries completely ruined his first season at the club and he had to wait until the 29th January 2014 to score his first Premier League goal away to Tottenham Hotspur in a 5-1 win. Before the end of the season he would also score against Chelsea, Southampton and Aston Villa as he helped the club win the Premier League title after a fantastic end to the campaign. He started this season in great form by scoring twice against Liverpool in a 3-1 win but once again injuries have stopped him playing in as many games as he and the fans would have liked.

The final word can go to Manuel Pellegrini. “Stevan had very bad luck last year. This year he’s started pre-season well, and if he continues to work every day, he will demonstrate why he’s here at Manchester City. He’s a very good player.”

24th October – Wayne Rooney

Wayne Rooney will divide opinion as he had the potential to become one of the best in the world and some say he has reached that in his career whereas others say that he has failed to live up to expectations.

The striker is 29 and if he doesn’t pick up any serious injuries he will become Manchester United’s all time top scorer and also beat Bobby Charlton’s 49 goals at international level. With 43 goals for England in 99 games it is a good record but he has largely failed in the main competitions which has left England fans more frustrated with him than any other.

He started his career at Everton and made his debut against Tottenham Hotspur in 2002. His breakthrough moment was when he scored a last minute winner against Arsenal on the 19th October and followed this up by scoring the winner against Leeds United. In December he was named BBC’s Young Personality of the Year, scored another winning goal against Blackburn Rovers and then received his first red card against Birmingham City. He ended his first season with eight goals and in the following campaign and he remained very consistent, scoring nine times throughout the season.
Rooney Everton
Rooney signed for Manchester United in August 2004 but had to wait to make his debut and he scored a hatrick in a win over Fenerbahce in the Champions League. Despite scoring 17 goals and being named the PFA Young Player of the Year, the club did not win a trophy. Rooney would go on to win his first trophy in the following season as they beat Wigan Athletic 4-0 in the League Cup final, with him grabbing two. The 2006-07 season was an interesting one for Rooney as he went 10 games without scoring but managed 14 goals and picked up his first Premier League winners medal. In June 2007 he was given the number 10 shirt and despite missing game time in the opening half of the season he recovered to help the club retain the title and also win the Champions League.
England v Ireland - International Friendly
He was never prolific until the 2009-10 season. On the 22nd August 2009 he became the 20th player to score 100 goals for the club when he scored twice in a win over Wigan. During the season he was particularly good at scoring with his head and did this in the final of the League Cup against Aston Villa to help his side win the game. An injury against Bayern Munich slowed him down but he finished the season with 34 goals. After the season there were reports that Rooney wanted to leave but he made a U-turn and signed a new deal.
Despite not hitting the same standard as the previous season he still scored his 100th Premier League goal and helped the team win the title. He returned to his brilliant best in the 2011-12 season and started fantastically, scoring consecutive hatricks in the early weeks against Arsenal and Bolton. By the end of the season he had scored 34 goals.
Rooney MU7
After the signing of Robin Van Persie, many felt that Rooney was no longer the main man and despite them combining well and helping the club win another title, Alex Ferguson revealed that Rooney had handed in a transfer request. New manager David Moyes convinced the striker to stay and he did his best for the manager, scoring 17 goals and providing 10 assists but it was a disappointing season. Under Louis Van Gaal, he was named the club captain and scored on the opening day against Swansea City but a red card against West Ham has put doubt on whether he is the right man for the job.

The final word can go to former captain Peter Schmeichel. “What I really like about Rooney is his attitude towards playing for United. Wherever the manager tells him to play he will do that with a smile on his face. He realises his importance to the team. So I think he’s the obvious choice for the captaincy.”

29th September – Per Mertesacker

Per Mertesacker may have won the World Cup in the summer but he now faces a big task in helping Arsenal compete for the Premier League and Champions League.

Although they are unbeaten in the league they have not been convincing and Dortmund destroyed them in the first Champions League game. But as Mertesacker has proven in the past he usually gets better as the season goes on and his partnership with Laurent Koscielny has been one of the best Arsenal have had for a while. The 30 year old has never been blessed with pace so there is no reason why his performances should drop in the later years of his career.

The 6 foot 6 defender started his career at Hannover and after playing under his father in the youth teams he made his league debut in November 2003 against FC Koln. Early in his career there were suggestions that he would not become a footballer and pursue another career, especially after a shaky start which saw him score an own goal and also broke his nose.
Mertesacker Hannover
But he recovered from this and became known as one of the most promising defenders in Germany and was also known as a defender that timed his tackles perfectly, only picking up two yellow cards in his 76 league appearances for Hannover. After three years he played his last game for the club on the 13th May 2006 against Bayer Leverkusen and opened the scoring in a 2-2 draw.

After an impressive 2006 World Cup, Mertesacker joined Werder Bremen. He did not get off to a quick start at the club as he was out injured for the first month of the season but when he did return he became a rock in the centre of the defence. In November he scored his first Champions League goal against Chelsea in a 1-0 win.

The 2007-08 season was a mixed bag for the defender as he received the first red card of his career in a 6-3 defeat to Stuttgart but played in every game he was available and helped the club finish as runners up in the league, finishing with just two less wins that eventual champions Bayern Munich. For the rest of his time at the club he proved he was more than just a defender that won headers as he had improved a lot when he had the ball at his feet. This was part of the reason why Arsene Wenger signed him.
Mertesacker WB
He played 210 times for Bremen before joining Arsenal on the 31st August 2011. They had just been beaten 8-2 by Manchester United at Old Trafford and desperately needed reinforcements at the back. Mertesacker started well and was consistent throughout his first season before it was cut short by injury in February 2012. He returned for the start of the 2012-13 season and helped keep two clean sheets in the opening two games against Sunderland and Stoke City. His performances continued to improve and he was awarded the man of the match after a 1-1 draw away to Manchester City.
Mertesacker Arsenal
Arsenal fans then loved the centre back even more after he scored his first goal for the club in a 5-2 win over Tottenham Hotspur and this was when the German and Koscielny were in great form together and were arguably the best centre back partnership in the league. But it was last season that he showed his top form as he was voted into the Premier League Team of the Year for his fantastic performances and on the 4th March 2014 he was rewarded with a new contract by the club.

The final word can go to Arsene Wenger. “I think he is a good player. He is a good organiser as well, he understands the game, he is an intelligent player. Now we look less nervous at the back, and I think he contributes to that.”