26th March – Simon Kjaer

Simon Kjaer has been one of the more consistent centre backs around Europe in recent years but it seems like every time he is close to a really big move his form plummets and mistakes creep into his game.

The centre back is still only 26 but has a lot of experience and has played in some big games for both club and country so his career will more than likely get better. Over the years he has been linked with transfers to Liverpool, Manchester United and Chelsea to name a few and it is felt that he would be good in the Premier League and the English top flight definitely needs more top quality defenders.

Kjaer started his career at Danish club Midtjylland and even at a young age he was linked with big moves and even had a trial with Real Madrid in August 2007 but unfortunately a deal could not be agreed. Instead he signed a new five year deal with his first club and made his debut in a 2-0 win over AGF on the 30th September 2007. He would play 21 times for the club before making the move to Italian side Palermo in July 2008.

Kjaer Palermo

He would have to wait until October to make his debut as a half time substitute in a 3-1 defeat to Fiorentina. Despite the loss Kjaer played well and quickly established himself as an important member of the side and ended the season with 27 appearances and three goals. After a very successful first season he was named the 2009 Danish Talent of the Year and during the 2009-10 campaign he would go on to produce even better performances, ending with a very consistent World Cup which meant once again that many other clubs were looking at him and Palermo had to accept they were going to lose him in the summer.

On the 8th July 2010 he made the move to Wolfsburg but unfortunately Kjaer and the club got off to an indifferent start and were not achieving what they had expected to. After manager Steve McClaren was sacked, Felix Magath took over and it was much tougher for Kjaer to get a regular place in the team and was made a scapegoat by the new manager for the problems Wolfsburg were having.

Kjaer Wolfsburg

After making three appearances at the start of the 2011-12 season the centre back made the move to Roma on a season long loan. This was also not a good move for him as he struggled to show his quality and was even sent off against Lazio in a 2-1 defeat which led to the club not buying him permanently and he had to return to Wolfsburg. After burying the hatchet with Magath he would eventually get back into the team but he only lasted one more season.

His next move was to Lille in France and was very impressive in his first campaign helping the club to 21 clean sheets and was included in the Ligue 1 Team of the Season after they only conceded 26 goals in 38 league games. The defender has continued to put in good performances and has proven that when he is on form he can be a leader and one of the best in Europe.

Kjaer Lille

The final word can go to Palermo director Walter Sabatini. “I have heard that Juventus and their observers have been watching Kjaer. There is also an interest from Manchester United, Chelsea and Liverpool. But he’ll stay, even he knows that. All is well, he wants to complete his development. Simon should be valued based on the qualities he has.”

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7th March – Hatem Ben Arfa

Hatem Ben Arfa will go down as one of the greatest players to never reach his full potential in England, being the most exciting player on the pitch to the most frustrating in a matter of seconds.

Despite only being 28 there have been some suggestions that he is contemplating retiring from the game after a terrible season that will see him end it as a free agent due to a FIFA ruling. The winger would be a great addition to any side if he could play to the best of his abilities and it is probably why he will be a wanted man in the summer.

Ben Arfa started his career at Lyon, signing his first professional contract in 2004 and made his debut on the opening day of the season against Nice. After more substitute appearance he would score his first goal on the 10th November against Lille. But he wouldn’t really become a regular until the 2007-08 season. He performed very well throughout the season and was named the National Union of Professional Footballers Young Player of the Year. It seemed like he would be an important member of the side for a long time to come after signing a contract extension in March 2008 but a training ground scuffle with Sebastien Squillaci meant his time at the club was up.

HBA Lyon

After a long transfer saga Ben Arfa eventually joined Marseille on the 1st July but it wasn’t long before he was in another bust up as on the 16th July he was involved in one with Djibril Cisse. On his debut however he showed his qualities by scoring against Rennes and in his first 11 matches he hit the back of the net six times. More controversy followed as he was involved in disputes with Modeste M’Bami and manager Eric Gerets. His performances when he was on the pitch were usually of the highest quality but trouble was never far away as in the next season he was fined for missing training and got in yet another argument with new manager Didier Deschamps. He would play 29 times for the club as they won the Ligue 1 title but this was not enough for him to stay at the club.

HBA Marseille

On the 27th August 2010 Ben Arfa joined Newcastle United on a season long loan after many weeks of trouble. But it seemed like it was worth it as on his full debut he scored a brilliant goal against Everton but on the 3rd October his season was over after he suffered a broken tibia and fibula. Despite this the two clubs agreed a permanent transfer. He would have to wait until the 24th September 2011 to make his Premier League return in a 3-1 win over Blackburn Rovers. In the second half of the season he scored two individual goals, firstly in the FA Cup against Blackburn and against Bolton Wanderers. During this time he was an important part of the team and combined brilliantly with Demba Ba and Papiss Cisse.

HBA NU

The next season also started very well as he scored on the opening day against Tottenham Hotspur and then two weeks later hit a great equaliser against Aston Villa. Injuries disrupted the second half of the season but he scored in the win over QPR to guarantee the club’s safety. Once again the 2013-14 season started well for him as he scored against Fulham and was also in great form against Aston Villa, scoring and making an assist. Unfortunately he didn’t perform for the rest of the season. On the 2nd September 2014 he joined Hull City on loan but this only last nine games and manager Steve Bruce admitted at one point he didn’t even know where he was. On the 4th January he was released by Newcastle and signed for Nice the next day. But FIFA ruled that he could not play for them and his contract was terminated.

The final word can go to former teammate Yohan Cabaye. “For me, he remains an extraordinary player with enormous quality. It is true that it was harder for him late in the season. He is going to bounce back. For me, this is one of the players I’ve played with who has the highest quality.”

6th February – Per Frandsen

Per Frandsen is a player that will be very familiar to fans of Bolton Wanderers because he put in some brilliant performances for the club and scored some sublime goals.

The midfielder is now 45 and will go down as one of the most important players in Bolton’s recent history as he helped them gain promotion to the Premier League and also produced some solid performances to keep them in the top flight. He was a midfielder that could create a lot from the centre of the pitch and could certainly score some cracking goals, including one against Middlesbrough on the final day of the 2002-03 season which just highlighted everything about his game.

Frandsen started his career in his native Denmark with B 1903 and made an instant impact with the club. He would go on to finish as the third best goalscorer of the 1990 Danish First Division and ended his time at the club with 15 goals in just 25 league games which is a very good record for any player. In November 1990 he made the move to France and joined Lille for a club record fee. He spent four years with Lille and he was very consistent despite still being quite young and inexperienced and took to a new style of football very quickly. During his time at the club he scored 19 league goals in 109 games but they could not keep hold of their promising midfielder because of financial difficulties and he returned to Denmark, signing for Copenhagen.

Frandsen Lille

He acknowledged this would only be a temporary move and after helping the club lift the Danish Cup in 1995, he moved to Bolton Wanderers for £1.25 million in August 1996. He made his debut in a 1-1 draw against Port Vale and went on to score his first goal for the club in the next game against Manchester City. It was during this time that he was being linked with moves to the Premier League as he was considered one of the best to play outside of the top flight. But instead he stayed with Bolton and helped them win promotion to the Premier League. Despite this being followed by relegation he was one of the bright spots in the team.

Frandsen Copenhagen

In September 1999 he made the move to Blackburn Rovers for £1.75 million and the Bolton manager Colin Todd resigned because he was against the decision to sell the midfielder. Unfortunately for Frandsen it didn’t work out for him at Ewood Park and after just one season he returned to Bolton for £1.6 million. His second spell was also very good and he was very good with the younger players in the squad, particularly Kevin Nolan who has stated how important he has been in his career.

Frandsen BWFC

In 2004 he was released by Bolton after 304 first team games and 38 goals. Before he retired from the game because of a cruciate ligament injury he went on to help Wigan Athletic gain promotion to the Premier League, grabbing a goal against Brighton.

The final word can go to Sam Allardyce. “I have ultimate respect for him. Per will go down in Bolton folklore. Everyone at the club has appreciated what he has done for us. Eight years is a long time in any career and Per has had eight great years at the club.”

5th October – Kevin Mirallas

Kevin Mirallas will be a big loss for Everton and they seemed to miss him in their defeat to Manchester United as he adds something extra to their attack and would have caused the defence more problems.

The 27 year old has been a big success since coming to England and has shown that he can play in a lot of different positions and in various formations which has made him one of the manager’s favourite players. He had started the season well, scoring twice in the opening six Premier League games before suffering an injury in the Merseyside derby which could keep him out until December.

Mirallas started his youth career in his native Belgium and was a part of Standard Liege’s squad but before he could make a first team appearance he moved to France and signed for Lille. He got his chance to show his talents during the 2004-05 season and started getting more and more game time before becoming a first team regular in the 2007-08 season where he played 37 times and scored seven goals.
Mirallas Lille
This proved to be his last season at the club as he joined Saint Etienne after 89 appearances and 11 goals for Lille. Mirallas got off to a great start at his new club by scoring in the Rhone-Loire derby against Lyon on his debut. However, he struggled to make much of an impact and in his two seasons he played 69 times and only found the back of the net five times.
Mirallas SE
In June 2010 he joined Greek side Olympiakos initially on loan and after finishing as the club’s top scorer this move was made permanent. In his first campaign he scored 14 goals and only Djibril Cisse outscored him in the league but his goals were enough to secure the title for Olympiakos. In the following season he scored the first hatrick of his career in a 4-0 win over Levadiakos and then went one better by scoring four times in a 7-2 win over Asteras Tripolis. His form was beginning to attract attention from other clubs around Europe as he finished with a second league winners medal and also finished as the top scorer in the division with 20 goals.

On the 12th August 2012, Mirallas joined Everton for £6 million which is a bargain for a player of his quality. He made his debut as a substitute against Aston Villa and thought he’d got off to a great start but his headed goal was disallowed for offside. In his first start for the club he scored twice and set up another two goals in a 5-0 win over Leyton Orient in the League Cup. A number of injuries slowed his progress but he ended the season very well and scored twice in David Moyes’ final home game against West Ham.
Mirallas Everton
Under Roberto Martinez he has further developed his game and although the goals are not as easy to come by as his time in Greece, he is showing other qualities of his game. In the 2013-14 season he created 61 chances for his teammates which was more than any other Everton player and managed to score eight times from 32 games.

The final word can go to Roberto Martinez. “His game has gone from strength to strength and the way he had started the season had been really positive. Last season he had a very important role. He was scoring goals and being a real threat in everything we do going forward. We have plenty games for him to be as influential.”

15th July – Peter Odemwingie

Peter Odemwingie might have been involved in one of the funniest moments in a transfer window but he has bounced back from that and has found form once again.

While at West Brom he drove to QPR to hopefully sign for them, however the club’s could not agree a transfer fee so the striker who turns 33 today was not allowed to speak to QPR’s officials and had to wait in the parking lot. He ended up not getting the transfer he wanted but this is just a small blip on what has been a very good career.

He started his career at Nigerian side Bendel Insurance and was an instant success scoring 19 goals in 53 league appearances. This was good enough to convince La Louviere in Belgium to sign him and in his first season he helped the club win the Belgian Cup and earned them a place in Europe and Odemwingie scored in a 1-1 draw with Portuguese giants Benfica.
Odemwingie Lille
In 2004 he joined French club Lille and was quickly becoming one of the most sought after players in Europe and he proved his worth by helping Lille qualify for the knockout stages of the Champions League after scoring twice at the San Siro against AC Milan. He spent three season in total in France and scored 26 goals in 100 games which led to Lokomotiv Moscow spending a lot of money to bring the striker to Russia.
Odemwingie LM
Although he impressed for the club and was a goal threat every time he went on the pitch, he had to deal with a lot of racial abuse from the fans and he understandably wanted to leave the country and on the 20th August 2010 he signed for West Brom. Shortly after signing the Lokomotiv Moscow fans were seen showing a banner that read ‘Thanks West Brom’ and had a picture of a banana.

A day after he joined West Brom he scored the winning goal against Sunderland in a 1-0 win. His first season was very successful and he broke a lot of records, including being West Brom’s highest ever goal scorer in a Premier League season and became the first player to score in four consecutive games. He ended the season with 15 league goals and was rewarded with a new contract.

Odemwingie didn’t quite match the previous seasons efforts but he still put in some memorable performances, particularly in their derby match against Wolves, where he scored a hatrick in a 5-1 win and then followed it up with another two goals against Sunderland. This form meant he was named as the Player of the Month. The following season was obviously more difficult for him and the club after the confusion of his move to QPR meant the fans no longer accepted him.
Odemwingie WB
At the start of the 2013-14 season he joined Cardiff City, however after Malky Mackay was sacked he barely got a look in and in January he signed for Stoke City and ended the season with five goals in 15 appearances for Stoke in the second half of the season and then got the opportunity to represent his country at the World Cup, where he scored the winner against Bosnia which helped the team get through their group.

The final word can go to Mark Hughes, who has been very happy with his signing. “We’re delighted to have signed Peter. He has a good goal scoring record in the Premier League and will bring a different dimension to our attacking options. I’ve no doubts he will prove to be an excellent addition to our squad.”

29th April – Pascal Cygan

If you ever have to name the players that were part of Arsenal’s Invincibles of the 2003-04 season this player will certainly not be one that springs to mind straight away.

Pascal Cygan played 18 times that season in the league and although he was only considered a fringe player he did play in a lot of important fixtures and ultimately he did not let them down and cost them their record of going unbeaten.

Cygan probably could not have imagined he would have been in such a position after being a youth player at Wasquehal. In 1995 he became a professional when he joined Lille and made his debut later in the year. He was a very important player for a number of years in Ligue 2 and in the 1999-00 season he helped the club win the French second division and then they surpassed everyone’s expectations by finishing third and qualifying for the Champions League in their first season back in the top flight. Cygan was instrumental and was quickly becoming one of the best defenders in France. In his last season in France he was made captain because of how much of a role model he was to the younger players of the squad.
Cygan Lille
In the summer of 2002 he joined Arsenal for £2 million and made his debut in a 1-1 draw with Chelsea. Wenger said of his new signing. “I was looking at Cygan for a while. It was difficult to find a good centre back. Of course you have to take a chance and a gamble, but this is a small gamble. He will become a better player here, and make the French national team.”

Unfortunately this did not come true and he did not get a French cap but he did still have some good performances for Arsenal. Possibly his greatest game was when he scored twice against Fulham in an opening day 4-1 win. After injuries in the 2005-06 season to Ashley Cole and Gael Clichy he was played as an emergency left back and he helped them to 12 wins and 11 clean sheets in 20 matches while in that position. However an injury ended his season and after falling further down the pecking order his time at the club was up.
Cygan Arsenal
His next club was the Spanish side Villarreal where he joined up with former Arsenal teammate Robert Pires. After some consistent performances in his two years at the club he signed a new one year deal however in his final year he wasn’t played as much as he’d hoped and left the club for newly promoted to the Segunda Division FC Cartegena on a one year deal.
Cygan Villarreal
At the age of 37 and after playing 57 league games for the club he was released and decided to retire. The final word can go to Arsene Wenger. “Pascal is a fantastic defender with great ability and has proved he can compete at the highest level from his performances in the Champions League.”