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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21st October – Nemanja Vidic

Manchester United have been inconsistent so far this season and major reason for this is because they have struggled at the back and many believe that they should have kept Nemanja Vidic.

The central defender was a huge success at Old Trafford and formed an impressive partnership with Rio Ferdinand that helped the club win a lot of trophies. He turns 33 today and that is still young for a centre back, especially when pace was never one of his greatest attributes. Vidic felt it was time to leave after last season but he will still be considered a Manchester United legend.

Vidic started his career at Red Star Belgrade but had his first taste of professional football on loan at Serbian side Spartak Subotica in 2000 and had a very good goalscoring record for a defender, scoring six league goals in 26 games. This form convinced Red Star manager Zoran Filipovic to put him into the team for the 2001-02 season. In his first season he won the Yugoslav Cup and was named club captain and would help the club onto better things, winning the domestic double in 2004. After 16 goals in 95 games, the defender joined Russian side Spartak Moscow in July 2004.
Vidic RSB
He spent two years at the Russian side and his reputation grew and was being watched by other clubs and on the 5th January 2006 he joined Manchester United. He had to wait until the 26th January to make his debut in the semi final of the League Cup against Blackburn Rovers. They would go onto win the competition and Vidic came on as a substitute in the final, which meant he received a winners medal, however he gave it to Giuseppe Rossi in recognition of the Italian’s contribution.
Vidic SM
During the 2006-07 season he finally became a first team regular and played 25 times in the Premier League as the club went on to lift the title and was rewarded with a five year contract in the following campaign. The club would go onto retain the title and also won the Champions League after beating Chelsea. The 2008-09 season was arguably his best as he was shortlisted for the PFA Player of the Year award as well as winning the fans and players’ Player of the Year awards. This is an even better achievement considering that the club the defence was never settled. He would also start every match in their record breaking 14 consecutive clean sheets in the Premier League.

The next important moment during his career at Manchester United was in the 2010-11 season when he was named club captain. On the 30th October 2010, Vidic scored against Tottenham Hotspur in a 2-0 win and he has the honour of scoring the 1000th Premier League goal at Old Trafford. At the end of the season he would lift another Premier League trophy and Manchester United’s record breaking 19th.
Vidic MU
The 2011-12 season was frustrating for the defender as he suffered injuries and it was ended on the 7th December after he twisted his knee in a Champions League game against Basel. He finally returned in a 1-0 defeat against Everton on the 20th August 2012 but after suffering more injuries he would only play 22 games, however he did pick up his final Premier League winners medal at the end of the season. His final year at the club was very disappointing and he announced that he would be leaving the club and after 300 appearances he joined Inter Milan. He has not had the greatest of starts as he gave away a penalty on his debut and was sent off against Torino. Then against Palermo he made an error which allowed Franco Vazquez to score in a 1-1 draw.

The final word can go to Alex Ferguson. “Nemanja is a warrior, he’s a natural defender and he loves defending. There have been few defenders like him over the years. Nemanja is so powerful and positive in everything. He has been a great signing.”

11th September – Andrea Dossena

Not many players have as good a week as Andrea Dossena did in March 2009 as he scored against both Real Madrid and Manchester United for Liverpool.

Unfortunately he did not live up to his potential in the Premier League and despite this fantastic week for both him and the club he will largely be forgotten by a lot of fans. The left back struggled to adapt to the pace of the English game but he has had some success throughout his career. Now at the age of 33 he is a free agent and he can be signed outside of the transfer window so he could be playing for a new club soon.

Dossena began his career at Italian side Verona and after impressing as a youth player, he was promoted to the first team squad and made his debut on the 18th November 2001 in the derby against Chievo. He spent four seasons at the club, playing 99 Serie A games and scoring three goals before signing for Treviso in 2005.
Dossena Verona
His stay at Treviso was only for one season but he performed well in his 21 games to convince Udinese to sign him in 2006. Over the next two seasons he was a consistent left back and played in 63 league games and was awarded an improved contract in October 2007. However, by the end of the season he was being linked with moves away and on the 4th July 2008, he signed for Liverpool for an undisclosed fee.
Dossena Udinese
He was seen as the direct replacement for John Arne Riise and made his debut on the 16th August in a 1-0 win over Sunderland. Although he played well in this game, his form was poor for the large majority of his time at the club and didn’t get back into the side until an injury to first choice left back Fabio Aurelio. He once again did not convince the fans and manager that he was the right man for the job and was replaced by Emiliano Insua.

Now when he did get the chance he was played on the left wing and he was quite successful in this position, scoring his first goal for the club on the 10th March 2009 after coming on as a substitute against Real Madrid in the Champions League and then four days later repeating this by scoring against Manchester United in a 4-1 win at Old Trafford.

He only played 18 league games for Liverpool and signed for Napoli on the 8th January 2010, making his debut in the Coppa Italia against Juventus. He rediscovered his early career form at Napoli and played a lot of games at the club but it was not until the final game of the 2011-12 season that he became a fan favourite as he scored twice against Siena to guarantee the club Europa League football for the next season.
Dossena Napolu
After falling out of favour he joined Palermo on loan in January 2013 and played 11 times for the club before joining Sunderland on a free transfer on the 2nd September 2013. He made his debut in a 2-1 win over Newcastle United, however he was sent off in his next game against Hull City for a ridiculous challenge on David Meyler. At the end of the season after making just seven league appearances he was released.

The final word can go to Rafael Benitez. “We are happy with him because we know that he is a good player and he is working hard but we also know he can get better. Dossena is keen to learn and he will get better with more games and more time.”

3rd April – Tim Krul

After making your debut in an away UEFA Cup game to Palermo at the age of 18 you know you are going to have a good career.

This is exactly what birthday boy Tim Krul did and he managed to keep a clean sheet in the process after some fantastic saves in the match proving he has always been one of the best shot stoppers in the world. Manager Glenn Roeder praised the goalkeeper after the performance and knew he would be a great keeper and would not struggle as a youngster. “I always thought he was capable of a mature performance. I knew he wouldn’t have any nerves. He’s strong and confident.”
Krul Palermo
It looked as though he was going to play a few more times before the end of the season but an injury slowed his progression and at the start of the next season he joined Scottish side Falkirk on loan. He was very impressive for the most part and they wanted to sign him permanently but this did not happen as Newcastle saw his potential. Unfortunately injury struck once again and he missed the end of another season.

After a short loan spell at Carlisle United where he played nine games he was back at Newcastle and this time he was second choice to Steve Harper in the Championship. On the first day of the season he was needed and put in one of the best performances of any keeper in England against West Brom. Any time he played he impressed but had to wait till the very last game of the season to start his first league game away to QPR.

In the summer he signed a new four year contract and played his first Premier League game against Everton in a 1-0 win after Harper was injured once again. This was his first chance to star in the first team for a number of games and this included a 5-1 win against Sunderland and a 1-0 win away to Arsenal in which he produced a number of good saves.
Krul Newcastle
After Alan Pardew became manager he made Krul his number one and he repaid his faith by helping the team finish fifth and also keeping 15 clean sheets in his first full season in that role. The 2012-13 season wasn’t as successful for the team or Krul himself as he suffered a number of injuries and the team struggled in the league.

But the next season he got back to his best and won the November Player of the Month after a series of impressive displays including a match against Tottenham Hotspur in which he saved 14 shots and kept a clean sheet.

His international career has not quite progressed as quickly as he hoped but he is still in with a chance of being Holland’s number one at the 2014 World Cup.
Krul Holland
The final word can go to Alan Pardew who said after the victory against Spurs. “It was one of the best goalkeeping displays ever. Wow! I think he is the best goalie in the league and he proved that today. “