21st March – Michu

Michu made such an impact in the Premier League that it is surprising that he is not still in England and it is unbelievable that Swansea City would loan him out.

He is now 29 and can do a number of jobs in the attacking areas of the pitch but for whatever reason it didn’t seem to click between him and Wilfried Bony whenever they did play together. His form during his first season at Swansea was exceptional and it earned him a call up to the Spanish team which at the time were the most dominant in international football.

The forward started his career at Oviedo and made his debut in the Tercera Division during the 2003-04 season and would go on to play 100 league games for the club, scoring 13 times and his form convinced Segunda Division side Celta Vigo to take a chance on him in 2007. He started out in the B team but after 10 goals in 28 games he was promoted to the first team. He would go on to spend four seasons at the club, once again not being a prolific scorer but putting in some good performances, as he ended his time there with 112 appearances.

Michu Oviedo

On the 27th July 2011 he signed for newly promoted La Liga side Rayo Vallecano and made his debut in a 1-1 draw against Athletic Bilbao. This would be a brilliant season for the player as he finished with 17 goals in all competitions, which was the same amount he scored in four seasons in Celta’s first team. He scored some notable braces against Real Sociedad, Racing Santander and Real Madrid. This meant that he was being linked with moves away from the club as he only had a year left on his contract.

Michu CV

For just £2 million Michu signed for Swansea City on the 20th July 2012 and on his debut he scored yet another brace in a 5-0 win over QPR and then continued his fantastic goalscoring form by finding the back of the net against West Ham and Sunderland. He would go on to be one of the best signings of the season and would score 22 goals in all competitions as he helped Swansea win the League Cup. At the end of the campaign he was named the team’s Player of the Year and the Supporters Player of the Year.

It looked as though the following season was going to follow a similar pattern as he scored the club’s first goal of the season in a Europa League game against Malmo but injuries restricted him to just 24 games over the course of the season, however he did still manage to score six goals, but only two of these were in the league.

Michu SC

It was still surprising though when he made the move to Napoli on a season long loan at the start of this season but it hasn’t been the greatest time for him as he has suffered with injuries and has barely been able to make an impact.

The final word can go to Rafael Benitez. “Michu is a player that can play in two positions. He is able to penetrate and score but also knows how to play with other strikers. I have told Michu that I expect a certain number of goals from him to just to motivate him.”

1st August – Julien Faubert

Julien Faubert was involved in one of the strangest transfer ever when he joined Real Madrid on loan from West Ham United.

Faubert was by no means a bad player for West Ham but there were a lot of raised eyebrows when he moved to arguably the biggest club in the world who could have signed pretty much any player in the world. The right sided player also has the rare record and impressive record of one cap one goal for his country when he scored for France against Bosnia and Herzegovina in the last minute to secure a 2-1 win and can also proudly say that he the first player to wear the famous number 10 shirt after the retirement of the legend Zinedine Zidane.

With him being able to play both right and right midfield he has been a very valuable player to have around at club level and he started his career at French side Cannes making his debut in the 2002-03 season. After impressing for the club in his two seasons there he made the move to Bordeaux to bolster their squad. His time at Bordeaux lasted three years and was an important part of their Champions League squad and played over 100 times for the club in all competitions and contributed a number of assists as well as 12 goals.
Faubert Bord
On the 1st July 2007 he signed for West Ham for £6.1 million on a five year contract and a lot was expected of him, however he ruptured his achilles tendon in a pre season friendly against Czech side Sigma Olomuc which kept him out for the first half of the season. Faubert made his comeback for the reserves against Aston Villa in January and then finally made his first team debut against Fulham as a late substitute not long afterwards. Due to this and a few other niggling injuries he only managed to play eight games for the club.

During the next season he was a regular and played in 20 Premier League games before being offered the chance to play for the Spanish giants Real Madrid on the 31st January 2009. He made his debut for the club against Racing Santander in a 1-0 win, however this was certainly a high point of his time there. He only made one other appearance and was pictured asleep on the bench when he was named as a substitute and also missed a training session because he thought he had the day off.
Faubert RM]
In the summer he returned to West Ham and did put in some impressive performances throughout the season was in the second half of the season was definitely one of the club’s best players and even scored his first goal for the club against Hull City. The following season was not so successful for club or player as they ended up being relegated and Faubert was in and out of the squad.
Faubert WH
He did however become a key player in their attempt to get promoted back to the top flight and they succeeded by winning the playoffs. But this did not stop the club from releasing him in the summer and the right back moved to Turkish club Elazigspor on a three year contract. But he only lasted 16 games there and was allowed to join Bordeaux in January 2013 and has since played 35 times for the club scoring three goals.

The final word can go to Alan Curbishley who said after his injury early in his West Ham career. “Julien had fitted in well and was showing all the attributes needed to be a success in the Premier League. You could see in the short bit of football he has played with us that he was going to be a big hit with the supporters.”

12th June – Philippe Coutinho

Philippe Coutinho had a very good season at Liverpool and in a lot of people’s opinions was very unlucky to have been left out of Brazil’s World Cup squad.

But the midfielder is only 22 and his time will surely come again and now he can concentrate fully on helping Liverpool challenge for the title again next season and show off his skills in the Champions League. He has always had a lot of potential and it is no wonder that there are a lot of people including Brendan Rodgers who believe that Coutinho will get better and become one of the best players in the world.

From an early age he impressed everyone and was signed by Inter Milan at the age of just 16, however he was allowed to stay at first club Vasco da Gama until his 18th birthday. While at the Brazilian club he played 26 times and scored two goals before he moved to Italy in July 2010 and in the same year he played for the Brazil national team so there was already a lot of spotlight on the playmaker.
Coutinho Vasco
On the 27th August he made his debut in the UEFA Super Cup as a substitute, unfortunately they lost the game 2-0 against Atletico Madrid. Although he did not play as many minutes as he would have liked, he did provide a moment of magic in the Champions League as he helped his team beat Bayern Munich 3-2 in the quarter finals. And then on the 8th May 2011 he scored his first goal for the club with a wonderful free kick against Fiorentina in a 3-1 win.

The 2011-12 season wasn’t as successful for the Brazilian as he only played 11 times for Inter but he was loaned out to Spanish side Espanyol where he showed his ability. Once he got going he was difficult to stop and he scored some brilliant goals in La Liga. He scored twice in a 5-1 win over Rayo Vallecano and then followed this up with a sublime volley against Racing Santander and then a great free kick against Malaga. In total he scored five times in just 16 appearances and this meant he was going back to Inter full of confidence.
Coutinho Inter
He did enjoy a little more success but he only lasted another half a season as he joined Liverpool for £8.5 million on the 26th January 2013. His debut was not a good one for the club once again though as he came on as a substitute in a 2-0 loss to West Brom. But less than a week later he scored on his full debut in a 5-0 win over Swansea City and then a few weeks later set up the first two goals in 4-0 win over Wigan Athletic. He continued to impress in his first half a season and finished it with three goals in 13 appearances.
Coutinho Liverpool
After a frustrating start to the next season due to injuries, he opened the scoring in the Merseyside derby on the 23rd November and then towards the end of the season he scored another crucial goal against Manchester City which put Liverpool seven points clear at the top of the table. However, his five goals and his brilliant performances were not enough to secure the title.

The final word can go to his manager at Espanyol Mauricio Pochettino. “As with most Brazilians, Philippe has a special magic in his feet. He also has amazing work rate and that makes us doubt whether he fits the mould of a typical Brazilian player. What is important about him is he is a good lad, a good kid – a great humble person.”

5th May- Yossi Benayoun

One of the best attacking talents to ever come out of Israel has proved to be one of the best to open up teams that are sitting deep with accurate through balls and killer passes.

Yossi Benayoun is 34 and is coming towards the end of his career but is hoping to have an impact in the playoffs and help his team QPR get promoted back to the Premier League at the first time of asking. But at one point it seemed as though he would not have a career outside of Israel as he had the chance to play for Dutch side Ajax but after him and his family did not settle well he returned to his homeland. At the age of 16 he went straight into the Hapoel Be’er Sheva team and although he had an amazing season scoring 15 times in just 25 games it was not good enough to keep them in the top flight.

Benayoun moved to Maccabi Haifa in the summer and in his first season he scored 16 times and then in his next 19. But it was the 2000-01 season that he had his best season under the guidance of Avram Grant as the club won the Israeli Premier League for the first time in seven years and was named the most valuable player in the league. He then helped the club retain the title the next season but this was blighted with injury and signalled the end of his time in Israel.

In 2002 he moved to Spanish side Racing Santander and spent three seasons at the club scoring five in 31, seven in 35 and then nine in 35 which included a hatrick against Deportivo La Coruna. Santander then opted to sell the midfielder but Benayoun rejected a move to CSKA Moscow with him preferring to move to England or stay in Spain.

It was West Ham that paid £2.5 million for his services and he was an instant success. He scored five goals in his first season and provided eight assists in the Premier League, his first goal was against Aston Villa in a 4-0 win. His next season he did not get as many goals but his performances were still very good and it was not surprising that he was linked with some of the top clubs in the country.
Benayoun West Ham
On the 12th July he joined Liverpool for £5 million. He impressed everyone with his close control and in a Champions League game against Besiktas he scored a hatrick in an 8-0 win. By the end of his first season he had played 48 games and scored 11 goals but this did not stop rumours that he was going to leave the club in the summer. But his greatest moment in a Liverpool shirt came away to Real Madrid in 2009 as he scored a header in a 1-0 win in the 82nd minute.
Benayoun Liverpool
In 2010 he moved to another big Premier League club in Chelsea. Unfortunately his career never really took off and in his three years there he only played 24 times but he did manager to pick up a winners medal in the Europa League. In the 2011-12 season he joined Arsenal on loan and played 25 games for the club scoring six goals and was once again back on form. Another loan spell away from Chelsea was to follow and he rejoined old club West Ham but this spell was nowhere near as successful as an injury cut it short after just six games.
Benayoun QPR
Benayoun is currently at QPR and has so far scored three times in 15 games. The final word can go to his former Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez after Benayoun signed a contract extension. “Our idea was to extend the contracts of some players, and Yossi was one of these players. He has been really good for us over the last year, scoring crucial goals and getting assists, so we wanted to keep him and I’m really pleased with the extension”