10th July – Ludovic Giuly

Ludovic Giuly was a key part in Barcelona’s rise to dominance and maybe doesn’t quite get the credit he undoubtedly deserves.

The winger will never be put in the same category as other Barcelona stars such as Ronaldinho or Lionel Messi but he certainly helped the club reach the very top of European football.

Giuly started his career at Lyon, at the age of 18, against Cannes in 1995 and quickly became a fan favourite and was lovingly known as ‘the magic elf’ due to his height. His best season for the club was the 1996-97 season when he scored 17 times but he didn’t quite keep up these stats and moved on to Monaco in January 1998.

Giuly Monaco

It took him till the final day of the season to score his first goal but in the following campaign he was a key figure in helping the club win Ligue 1. However, the club had a terrible time defending the title and eventually finished 11th but Giuly did manage to score seven times.

An injury kept him out of most of the 2001-02 season as well as the World Cup but he returned to help the club win the Coupe De la Ligue and also reach the final of the Champions League which he unfortunately suffered an injury and many believe that this cost them. His performances though had caught the attention of others and in June 2004 Barcelona signed him.

Giuly Barca

He would score on his debut and end the campaign as the club’s second top scorer as well as lifting the La Liga trophy. The following season they also won the league title and also the Champions League with Giuly’s big moment coming in the semi final as he scored the only goal against Milan. Despite this he could not hold a place in the team in the 2006-07 season and it was time to move.

Italian side Roma picked him up but this move only lasted one season and he would move on to PSG on the 18th July 2008. The club were not in a good place and they really struggled during his three year spell at the club with disappointing league finishing positions but he did help them win the Coupe de France.

Giuly PSG.jpg

After this he returned to Monaco, who at the time were in Ligue 2, he was expected to help the club return to the top flight but it was another tough spell for him and after one season he was frozen out of the starting 11 so he was allowed to join Lorient on a free transfer. This would be his last season and after 727 career appearances Giuly announced his retirement.

The final word can go to former Barcelona manager Frank Rijkaard. “I don’t have a lot of things to teach Ludo. He can be a provider, but one of his great qualities is that he can score goals. It would be a shame to condemn him to play only on the flank.”

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28th June – Fabien Barthez

Fabien Barthez is a World Cup, European Championship, Champions League and Premier League winner yet his abilities as a goalkeeper were still questioned.

The Frenchman had a fantastic career and should be up there with the best goalkeepers ever and if some of his previous coaches are to be believed then he was actually a better outfield player than in goal.

Barthez began his career at Toulouse, making his debut in 1991 against Nancy. He established himself as the club’s number one, playing 26 times during the 1991-92 season. At the end of this season he joined Marseille and would go on to win the French Cup and Champions League in his first campaign and in doing so becoming the youngest keeper to win the competition.

Barthez Marseille

After this the club went through many controversies and would suffer relegation to the second division. Many expected Barthez to leave, however he stuck around and helped the club win the title. He stayed until 1995, when he joined Monaco and gained even more success by helping the club win Ligue 1 in 1997 and 2000. During this time he also helped France win the World Cup and European Championships.

Barthez Monaco

Manchester United signed Barthez for £7.8 million in 2000 and would quickly become a fan favourite for his remarkable reaction saves. He helped the club win the Premier League title but he did still show some problems in his game, most notably in an FA Cup tie with West Ham as he stood there with his hand in the air appealing for offside as Paolo Di Canio scored

The start of the 2001-02 season was a struggle for him as high profile mistakes against Deportivo and Arsenal led to some wanting him to be dropped from the team. However, manager Alex Ferguson backed Barthez to bounce back. The following season ended with another league title but once again he had some ups and downs and he was heavily criticised especially after defeat to Real Madrid in the Champions League, which turned out to be his last game for the club as he was dropped for Roy Carroll.

Barthez MU

With the signing of Tim Howard, Barthez knew his time was up at Old Trafford and returned to Marseille on loan. His form returned but in February 2005 he allegedly spat on a referee and was given a six month ban. After his ban and 102 games for Marseille it looked as though his career was over as he announced his retirement from the game.

On the 17th December 2006, Barthez was convinced to sign for Nantes but after a decent start he was involved in more controversy, involving an altercation with a fan, that forced him to leave the club.

The final word can go to Alex Ferguson. “Fabien is a World Cup winner and not only has the personality but the vast experience that is required at Manchester United. Apart from his obvious goalkeeping skills, he has the personality to play on the biggest stage.”

11th June – Vagner Love

Vagner Love at one point was one of the most highly rated strikers in Europe and was expected to become one of Brazil’s main goalscorers.

Love started his career at Brazilian side Palmeiras, where he helped them return to the top flight. He stayed for two seasons but scored 27 times in 42 league games and this led to him being by bought by Russian side CSKA Moscow. There were many rumours that he did not settle and was looking to leave, however he remained committed to his team and became a club hero by scoring in the 2005 UEFA Cup final which CSKA would go on to win against Sporting Lisbon. It was in this competition that he made a lot of headlines, by finishing as the competitions top scorer in the 2008-09 campaign.

On the 29th August 2009 it looked as though his time in Russia had came to an end as he returned to Palmeiras on loan. He, again showed he knew where the back of the net was by scoring five goals in 12 games. Due to the player stating concerns over his safety he cut the loan spell short and signed for his childhood team Flamengo.

At Flamengo, the striker was a massive success and formed a fantastic partnership with the former Inter Milan player Adriano, scoring 23 goals in 26 games. However, they could not convince Love to stay permanently.

Love Flamgo

This led to the player returning to CSKA where he helped the club win the Russian Premier League in 2013 and would also manage to hit over 100 goals during his two spells with the team. Once again he did leave and signed for Shandong Luneng and he would continue his goalscoring form with 28 goals in 43 games in his two seasons in China.

LOve CSKA

He has since became a little bit of a traveller, but someone that can guarantee goals. After his contract was rescinded in China, he joined Corinthians and finished as the top scorer as they would go on to win the Serie A title. But would only stay for almost exactly a year, joining French side Monaco and would be a fairly decent player for the club. He will be mostly remembered for scoring a goal in a victory over PSG.

Love Alanyaspor

After just half a season, Love signed for Turkish side Alanyaspor and was initially seen as a flop as he failed to score in his first seven games but then scored 23 times in just 20 games meaning he won the Golden Boot. He followed this up with an incredible start to the next season with 11 goals in 16 games and this led to Besiktas signing the striker midway through the season.

The final word can go to Monaco President, Vadim Vasilyev. “Vagner Love is a striker who has shown all his value in his career. We have had problems scoring goals and we are convinced Vagner Love can provide us with all his quality in that department.”

3rd March – Emmanuel Riviere

Emmanuel Riviere hasn’t quite showed the Newcastle United fans why he outscored James Rodriguez and Radamel Falcao at Monaco but he certainly has talent.

At the age of 25 he has plenty of time to adapt to English football and the fans will be hoping that this season has just been adjusting to life in a new country. In their last game Newcastle played two upfront and although Riviere didn’t get a goal himself he certainly put himself about and cause Aston Villa some problems. He will need a good end to the season, at least in terms of performances if he does want to remain in the Premier League.

Riviere started his career at Saint Etienne and made his professional debut on the 3rd January 2009 against Bordeaux alongside current Swansea City striker Bafetimbi Gomis. He would have to wait until right at the end of the season to score his first goal, but on the 13th May he did grab one in the 4-2 win over Le Havre. Due to injuries the striker started the next campaign as the first choice striker but as players returned he was either shifted out wide or used from the bench. During the second half of the season he performed brilliantly and was one of the main reasons why the club avoided relegation. In February and March he played seven times and scored five goals and then later scored the only goal of the game against Boulogne to confirm Saint Etienne’s safety in the top flight.

Riviere SE

In the summer Riviere signed a new three year contract but only stayed for one more season as he produced more good performances and scored some valuable goals for the club once more convinced Toulouse to sign him. He only spent one and a half seasons with his new club and didn’t quite score the amount of goals he would have hoped. In total he scored 10 times in 47 games and somewhat surprisingly on the 30th January 2013 he joined Ligue 2 Monaco. He would go on to score on his debut against Arles in a 2-0 win and helped the club gain promotion to Ligue 1.

Riviere Toulouse

Back in the top flight he started off brilliantly, scoring on the opening day against Bordeaux and then in the next match against Montpellier he scored his first ever hatrick. He continued his good form by scoring the winning goal against Marseille on the 1st September. However, he could not continue his goalscoring form and ended the campaign with 13 goals.

Emmanuel Riviere celebrates scoring for Monaco in their victory over Montpellier

On the 16th July 2014 Riviere joined Newcastle United and made his debut on the opening day against Manchester City. He would go on to score his only goals to date in the League Cup win over Crystal Palace.

The final word can go to teammate Mike Williamson. “I do think the work from Manu goes unnoticed. For me, he’s a great outlet, he puts his body on the line and gets other people goals, hopefully he can get some himself. Up front it was good to see the presence, that work rate, that doggedness.”

1st March – Djimi Traore

When you think of Champions League winners, Djimi Traore is definitely not the first player that comes to mind even to Liverpool fans but he played an important role in the 2005 final.

The 2005 final will always be remembered for Liverpool coming back from 3-0 down at half time to win the trophy but what is often forgotten is that in the second half the Liverpool defence, including Traore put in some crucial blocks and tackles that stopped counter attacks and certain goals for AC Milan. The left back is now 35 and nobody can take away his Champions League winners medal but he did have some disastrous moments during his career.

Traore started his career at his hometown club Laval and after looking like a good prospect he made the move to Liverpool in 1999. The left back struggled to get into the first team and went out on loan in the 2001-02 season to Lens, making 20 appearances for the French club. On his return he started getting more chances but it looked like he was leaving during the 2003-04 season as he was very close to joining Everton. However, the move didn’t go through and when Rafael Benitez got the Liverpool job he got a new lease of life and improved defensively and offensively under the Spaniard.

UEFA Champions League: Anderlecht v Liverpool

The 2004-05 season was very mixed for Traore as he won the Champions League but he also scored one of the funniest own goals in a 1-0 defeat to Burnley in the FA Cup. He attempted a turn and a drag back inside his own six yard box but just ended getting himself mixed up and put the ball in the back of his own net. In the following season he struggled for game time as he was behind John Arne Riise in the pecking order and on the 8th August 2006 he joined Charlton Athletic for £2 million.

He got off to a terrible start after being sent off on his debut and a few months later against his former club he gave away a penalty after fouling Jermaine Pennant. After only half a season he was deemed not good enough and was allowed to join Portsmouth. He only featured 13 times at Portsmouth over the next season and a half before first going out on loan to Rennes and then Birmingham City.

Traore Monaco

On the 18th June 2009 his contract expired at Portsmouth and he joined Monaco where he put in some decent performances but once again after just two seasons he was on the move again, joining Marseille. In his only season he played 20 games and helped the club win the Coupe de la Ligue but he left at the end of the season and after a trial at Seattle Sounders he signed for the American side on the 23rd Feburary 2013. He played 28 times for the club but while he was there he scored an amazing 40 yard volley against Mexican side Tigres.

Traore SS

The final word can go to Seattle Sounders sporting director Chris Henderson. “Djimi has a great deal of experience and has played in the top leagues in Europe. He’s a very good defender and makes smart decisions with the ball coming out the back. Djimi brings us confidence and leadership.”

10th February – Radamel Falcao

Radamel Falcao has been one of the most prolific goalscorers in Europe over the last few years but his move to Manchester United has been very stop start because of injuries and he hasn’t quite lived up to what people expected.

Just four goals in 16 games is not that great for someone with his talents but as everyone knows the English league does take more time to adapt than any other. It is up in the air whether he will be given more than just this season at Old Trafford but it is not just him that is suffering, Robin Van Persie doesn’t look the same player this year and Wayne Rooney is being asked to play a lot deeper which has restricted his goalscoring opportunities.

Falcao is now 29 but remarkably he made his debut 16 years ago as a 13 year old in the Colombian Categoria Primera B on the 28th August 1999 for Lanceros Boyaca. Over the next two years he played eight games and scored one goal which is incredible. His performances convinced Argentinean side River Plate to sign him and after playing in their youth team he finally made his first team debut in 2005. Manager Reinaldo Merlo placed a lot of trust in Falcao and he repaid him with seven goals in seven games. But a knee injury meant that he was out for the next six months.

Falcao RP

He recovered from this and after two great seasons he was being linked with moves to Europe and eventually on the 15th July 2009 he joined Portuguese side Porto and was an instant success, scoring in the first four league matches and finished his first season with 34 goals in all competitions. The Europa League became his favourite competition as he scored a lot of goals in both years and ended the 2010-11 season with 17 goals in 14 games and just proved to everyone he should be playing at a higher level. He had found the back 72 times in all competitions for the club in just two seasons.

FC Porto's Colombian forward Radamel Fal

On the 18th August 2011 Falcao did make the move away and joined Spanish side Atletico Madrid. The goals kept flowing for him and he was once again lethal in the Europa League, helping the team win the trophy like he had done with Porto. He ended his first campaign with 36 goals, the highest ever for a player in his first year at the club. In the following season he inevitably scored goals but he also adapted his game slightly and became more than just a goalscorer and this was most shown in the Copa Del Rey final win over Real Madrid when he produced a fantastic performance and didn’t even score which would have been a rare for him earlier in his career.

Falcao AM

Then came one of the most surprising moves when he decided to leave Atletico and join Monaco. It seemed like it was going to be business as normal for the striker when he scored on his debut against Bordeaux. After hitting 11 goals in 19 games he suffered an injury that not only kept him out for the rest of the season but also the World Cup. He did return on the 10th August 2014 and scored against Lorient and then added another against Nantes before making another surprising move on loan to Manchester United.

It took him until the 5th October to score his first goal in a victory over Everton but they haven’t really flown for him since and he needs a productive end to the season if he wants to stay at the club.

The final word can go to another former Colombian striker that played in the Premier League Faustino Asprilla. “He’s a great goalscorer, a natural finisher and is among the best in the world in that position. His move took everybody by surprise. I’m sure he will do very well for Manchester United.”

22nd October – Arsene Wenger

Arsene Wenger probably thought he was not going to have much to celebrate on his birthday as his side trailed 1-0 against Anderlecht but two late goals secured his side the win.

The 65 year old has done a lot for the English game and will always be a legend at Arsenal but up until last season he had been coming under pressure for not delivering a trophy for a long time. However, he has never changed his style and although that has caused frustration from some supporters he has always done the right thing for the club.

Wenger didn’t become a professional until the age of 28 at Strasbourg but even then he wasn’t really considered a player as he did a lot of work managing the youth teams and reserves, restricting him to just 11 league appearances in three years. After he moved on to be assistant manager at AS Cannes in 1983 before becoming manager at Ligue 1 side Nancy a year later. After a good first season where the club finished 12th he struggled and the club were relegated at the end of the 1986-87 season. A few months later he would join Monaco.
Wenger Stras
In his first season he helped them win the title but after this he would become known as a nearly man, leading the club to runners up positions in the league and also in the Coupe De France and the European Cup Winners’ Cup. After a poor start to the 1994-95 season, Wenger was sacked on the 17th September with Monaco in 17th place. In January 1995 he made the move to Japan and became manager of Nagoya Grampus Eight. He had a successful spell at the club, winning the Emperor’s Cup and being named the J-League Manager of the Year. In August 1996 Arsenal sacked Bruce Rioch and Wenger took over winning his first match away to Blackburn Rovers. Arsenal went on to finish third in the league.
Sport. Football. pic: July 1987. England internationals Mark Hateley, left, and Glenn Hoddle with the Monaco Coach Arsene Wenger, the players recent signings for Monaco.
The following campaign everyone knew Arsene Wenger as he led the club to the Premier League and FA Cup double after being 12 points behind league leaders Manchester United at one point. The following seasons were difficult as he again became a nearly man, finishing second in the table and reaching the FA Cup and UEFA Cup final but could not land another trophy. In the 2001-02 season Wenger won the FA Cup and Premier League double for the second time, securing the title at Old Trafford. It looked as though they were going to retain the title when they went eight points clear but lost out on the title. However, they did lift the FA Cup again after beating Southampton.
Wenger Arsenal
The 2003-04 season will forever be in history after his side won the title by going the whole season unbeaten. This run lasted 49 matches but was ended by Manchester United on the 24th October 2004. They could not recover and ended the season in second place but won the FA Cup. This would be his last trophy for a long time as he just could not compete in the league and this was largely down to Wenger falling into the same trap. He would sell a top quality player and replace them with a player that had a lot of potential, unfortunately when they reached their full potential they were then sold. Defeats in the Champions League final and two in the League Cup were tough to take, however they still managed to finish in the top four every season. On the 22nd March 2014 he took charge of his 1000th match as Arsenal manager but they lost 6-0 against Chelsea. They recovered from this and on the 17th May they finally won a trophy after beating Hull City in the final of the FA Cup, making Wenger a five time winner.

The final word can go to long time rival Alex Ferguson. “Over the years we enjoyed some fantastic battles. I always enjoy watching Arsene’s sides. Perhaps the biggest compliment I could give Arsene is that I could never be anything other than competitive with my rival for 17 years.”