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.”

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8th February – Carl Jenkinson

Carl Jenkinson celebrated his birthday today by helping West Ham to a 1-1 draw with Manchester United and despite a late goal it was still a very good point and performance.

It wasn’t such a good time for his parent club Arsenal this weekend who got beat by local rivals Tottenham Hotspur but the player is developing into a top quality right back who has been getting better as the season has gone on. It is good to see him now he is 23 getting first team football as he could easily challenge for the right back spot in the national team. His form this season has proved he is good enough for the top flight and with Mathieu Debuchy getting injured a few times this season he could have got plenty of opportunities at the Emirates.

Jenkinson started his career at Charlton Athletic but got his first taste of professional football at Welling United who he joined on loan in 2010 and went on to play 10 league games. He had to wait until November to get his next taste of football at Conference Premier Side Eastbourne Borough but after just four appearance he was recalled by Charlton. He made his first appearance for Charlton in the Football League Trophy Southern section semi final against Brentford. His performances for the rest of the season were impressive and this led to him being linked with moves away from the club.

Jenkinson CA

In June 2011 he joined Arsenal and made his debut in the Champions League qualifier against Udinese after coming on as a second half substitute. This was a meteoric rise for the defender but he seemed to be taking everything in his stride and put in decent performance. However, it wasn’t long before it was too much of a step up as he was part of the Arsenal side that were demolished 8-2 by Manchester United but he did set up Robin Van Persie’s goal, however his game was ended early after being sent off late in the game.

Jenkinson Arsenal

After returning he did show some potential but unfortunately his development was stalled as he spent three months on the sidelines after a stress fracture in his lower back. At the start of the 2012-13 season Jenkinson started the first five matches and once again gained plaudits for his performances, particularly against Manchester City and was rewarded with a new long term contract by the club shortly after. He ended the season with 21 appearances and in the following campaign he once again was a part of the starting lineup. He featured 22 times throughout the season and got his first career goal on the final day of the season against Norwich City.

On the 31st July the right back joined West Ham on loan for the whole season but had to wait until a 2-2 draw with Hull City on the 15th September to make his debut due to injuries. But he quickly established himself in the first team and has put in some consistent performances.

Jenkinson WH

The final word can go to Theo Walcott. “Carl always wants to learn, which is great to see. He’s eager, he wants to perform and he is getting better every game. He’s got bags of confidence, all the lads are encouraging him and it’s showing in his performances.”

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.”

9th September – Alex Song

West Ham pulled off what could be the signing of the summer when they loaned defensive midfielder Alex Song from Barcelona and he will certainly add a lot to the team.

Although he is more known for his tough tackling and strength, what is underrated is his passing ability and being able to spot a pass from a deep lying position. It is not surprising that Robin Van Persie and Song had a very good partnership at Arsenal and the striker profited from Song’s vision and Van Persie knew if he made a run then Song could find him. But at West Ham he will definitely be loved and could play a part in getting them a top half finish.

Song began his career at French club Bastia and in the 2003-04 season he became a part of their first team, playing both at centre back and holding midfield and made 34 appearances in all competitions. After his impressive rise he was being linked with a lot of clubs around Europe and it was Arsene Wenger who decided to sign him, initially on a season long loan.
Song Bastia
He made his Arsenal debut in a 2-0 win over Everton on the 19th September 2005. He only played a further eight times over the course of the season but he did enough to convince Wenger to sign him permanently in June 2006. During the 2006-07 season he scored his first goal in a 6-3 win over Liverpool in the League Cup. For the second half of the season he was loaned out to Charlton Athletic and although he performed brilliantly in his 12 games he could not help them avoid relegation.

After returning to Arsenal he still could not become a first team regular, and whenever he did play he was mostly used as a centre back. Finally his breakthrough came in 2008-09 season as he quickly became an important member of the team, forming a great partnership with Cesc Fabregas in the centre of midfield. He played 48 times in all competitions and scored his first Champions League goal against Fenerbahce and then his first league goal against Wigan Athletic.

His career blossomed from there and was rarely left out of the Arsenal team when he was fit. He will also go down in history for scoring the 1000th Arsenal Premier League goal under Arsene Wenger in a 4-1 win over Bolton Wanderers on the 11th September 2010.
Soccer - Barclays Premier League - Arsenal v Everton - Emirates Stadium
Fabregas departed Arsenal in the following summer and many wonder where their creativity was now going to come from and it was Song that stepped up the most. In his 34 Premier League games he assisted 11 goals, with many of these falling onto the left foot of Robin Van Persie. After 217 appearances for Arsenal he was signed by Barcelona for £15 million on the 20th August 2010.
Song Barca
In his first season he helped the club win La Liga but he did not get enough game time over the two seasons he spent at the club, appearing just 65 times and it was not a surprise to anyone that he was leaving the Spanish giants this summer, however not many expected him to join West Ham.

The final word can go to Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger. “Song wants to get forward. Sometimes defensive midfielders just want to defend. It’s not just his main role. He does it well in fairness. Song has improved his engine. He doesn’t need a breather now when he goes and comes back.”

14th August – Ander Herrera

Ander Herrera will have a lot of pressure on his shoulders this season with Manchester United chasing him for a long time and finally getting their man.

Herrera, now, 25, is being touted as the player the club have needed since Paul Scholes retired (both times) and if he is expected to live up to those expectations then it certainly won’t be easy but in pre season he has proved that he can pick a pass and some of his through balls will have definitely got Wayne Rooney and Robin Van Persie excited to play alongside him. The central midfield area has been a problem for Manchester United for a number of seasons now and it could finally be sorted.

The midfielder started his career at Real Zaragoza where he first made his name in the ‘B’ team where he played 10 league games and scored two goals before being moved to the first team during the 2008-09 season. At the time Zaragoza were in the second division of Spanish football and with the emergence of Herrera in their midfield they gained promotion back to the top flight. Herrera played 19 times and added another two goals to his career total.
Herrera RZ
In his first season in La Liga Herrera was one of the most used players in the Zaragoza squad and he was vital in keeping them in the league and once again scored two goals in his 30 appearances. Despite a change of manager in the following campaign he was still one of the main players in the squad and was giving more impressive performances as his experience grew. Again he scored two league goals, which shows he was consistent in that department. But it was not his goalscoring that was catching the eye, it was his solid tackling and his very good passing statistics.

Athletic Bilbao were the team that decided to buy the player and bring him back to his hometown club. This would have been a great moment for the midfielder as Bilbao only sign players from the Basque area and it is seen as a huge honour to represent Bilbao if you are Basque.
Herrera AB
Herrera made his debut in a Europe League tie with Turkish side Trabzonspor and in his first season he appeared in 54 games in all competitions as the club reached the final of both the Copa Del Rey and the Europa League. Unfortunately they lost both but it was in the Europa League that first made Manchester United aware of Herrera as he performed brilliantly over two legs as Bilbao won both home and away.

It has been since then that Manchester United have been linked with the midfielder but he stayed at Bilbao for another two seasons and in total he played 128 games for Bilbao scoring 11 goals. His low goalscoring record should not be a worry for the fans at Old Trafford as he is certainly more of a deep lying playmaker and someone that should provide a lot of chances for their more attacking players.
Herrera MU
The final word can go to Ryan Giggs on the new signing. “Ander is a fantastic young player, with great energy and creativity. We believe him to be one of the brightest young prospects in Spain and I am certain he will be a big hit with the United fans.”

6th August – Robin Van Persie

Robin Van Persie has been one of the best strikers in Premier League history and can potentially make the difference between winning the league and coming runner up.

Last season he only played 21 times in the league and scored 12 goals so if he had been available for all 38 games then he would have likely scored over 20 goals and Manchester United would have had a much better season. Now Louis Van Gaal is in charge the 31 year old could become an even better player and after seeing some of his goals at the World Cup it is clear to see that Van Persie fits into Van Gaal’s systems perfectly.

The striker started his career at Feyernoord and made his debut at the age of 17 and made 15 starts in the 2001-02 season and started in the final of the UEFA Cup final. Early in the next season he scored five times in a game against AGOVV Apeldoorn but he did not have as much of a breakthrough season as he hoped because of a falling out with manager Bert Van Marwijk. He stayed at the club for one more season but left after 15 league goals in 61 games.
RVP Fey
On the 17th May 2004 Van Persie joined Arsenal for £2.75 million but had to wait until the 27th October to make his competitive debut and against Manchester City in the League Cup he scored the opening goal in a 2-1 win. He finished his debut season with 10 goals in 41 games. He started the next season well with eight goals in eight starts but his season was disrupted by a toe injury and he could not continue his great form.

Once again the 2006-07 was disrupted by injury but he still managed 13 goals and was ready to become Arsenal’s main striker after Thierry Henry left for Barcelona. He took to his new role well with seven goals in 10 games but yet another injury ruined his season and all the niggling injuries he picked up were holding him back.
RVP Arsenal
The 2008-09 season was a defining year for the striker because he proved that he could be the main man at a big club as he scored 20 goals in all competitions and also provided 11 assists. His form in January of the season was exceptional as he either scored or provided the assist for every goal scored that month. Over the next few seasons he scored 9 in 16, 18 in 25 and then finally 30 in 38 before leaving for Manchester United.

He was bought by Sir Alex Ferguson to make sure that they won their 20th league title and that is exactly what he did. On the 22nd April he scored a hatrick against Aston Villa which confirmed them as champions and after 30 goals in all competitions he was seen as one of the best signings Ferguson made during his time at Old Trafford. Unfortunately injuries in his second season stopped him having the same impact and may have been part of the reason David Moyes lost his job.
RVP MU
The final word can go to Sir Alex Ferguson. “He’s unbelievable. I think his goals tell you that, his performance levels told you that. In terms of impact he has made as big an impact as any player I can imagine. Arsene Wenger said he was better than I’d think and he was right. He has been unbelievable.”