25th March – Mehmet Ekici

Mehmet Ekici might not be the biggest name in world football but he is proving that he is a fantastic footballer in Turkey and one that will probably be linked with a move to England in the near future.

The midfielder has always had very good ability but now he is back in Turkey he is proving that he can grab goals from the middle of the pitch. He obviously learnt a lot from his early years in Germany and has benefitted from that which is why it is not a surprise to see him performing so well at the moment in a league that is nowhere near as strong. Ekici is now 25 and will be hoping that he can get one more chance at least in the better leagues in Europe.

He started his career at Bayern Munich and featured regularly for the second team from 2007 and was one of their more impressive players during the 2009-10 season which saw him score 12 goals in 29 games and this caught the attention of the first team as he was promoted to the squad along with David Alaba. He was included in the Champions League squads for two seasons but unfortunately never got on the pitch and injuries stopped him from getting him on the pitch in other competitions.

Ekici BM

To guarantee more first team opportunities in July 2010 he joined Nurnberg on a season long loan to prove that he could cope with the top flight in Germany. He would go on to play 34 times in all competitions and score four goals and get eight assists which was a decent season and it led to him being linked with permanent moves away from Bayern Munich.

On the 18th May 2011 he did leave permanently and joined Werder Bremen for a fee believed to be around €5 million. He got off to a good start at his new club and scored his first goal on the 17th September 2011 against his former team Nurnberg. However, he struggled to keep his place in the team on a regular basis and over the next three seasons he only played 41 league games and he was slightly forgotten about.

1. FC Nürnberg - Eintracht Frankfurt 3:0

This meant he needed something new to kick start his career and so on 15th August 2014 he joined Turkish side Trabzonspor. Once again he has started to show his talents and so far this season so far scored nine goals in 21 league games which has brought him to the attention of other clubs. It will be interesting to see where his career can take him next but he will certainly want to be adding to his 10 international caps which is not as many as he should have gotten as he was very well liked by former manager Guus Hiddink.

Ekici WB

The final word can go to Werder Bremen sporting director Klaus Allofs. “We are delighted to have found in Mehmet a player that fits perfectly into our plans. He is a young player with German roots, who has had a strong season.”

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4th February – Kevin Campbell

Kevin Campbell may not be one of the biggest names to have played during the Premier League era but he was certainly a good striker that could always grab a goal for whoever he was playing for.

The 45 year old has been retired since 2007 but will be fondly remembered by Everton and West Brom in particular. During his career he did a rare thing for an English player and that was play abroad. He also scored 83 Premier League goals which puts him number 40 in the all time list.

Campbell began his career at Arsenal and was prolific for the youth team, scoring 59 goals in a single season and helping the club win the FA Youth Cup. He went on to make his debut on 7th May 1988 against Everton, unfortunately he could not find his way past Paul Merson and Alan Smith to secure a first team spot. In 1989 he joined Leyton Orient on loan and was a success scoring nine times in 16 games which led to them wanting to sign him permanently, however Arsenal refused to sell.

Campbell AFC

He went out on loan once more, this time to Leicester City and again showed that he could find the back of the net with five goals in 11 games. In the 1990-91 season he established himself in the Arsenal first team and helped the team win the First Division title after scoring eight times in ten games during the run in. After the signing of Ian Wright, Campbell got less recognition for his work but still chipped in with some important goals. Over the next few seasons he helped the team win the FA Cup, League Cup and the Cup Winners Cup. More signings were made, including John Hartson and Dennis Bergkamp, so Campbell left the club after playing 224 games and scoring 59 goals.

Nottingham Forest signed the striker for £2.5 million in the summer of 1995 but unfortunately he could not stop them from getting relegated in 1997. He stuck with the team and his 23 goals in the following season helped them to an immediate return to the Premier League. Controversy then clouded the next 12 months of his career as he was sold to Turkish side Trabzonspor for £2.5 million and this made Forest striker Pierre van Hooijdonk go on strike. But worse was still to come as after just seven months he was involved in a racist incident with the club president. Campbell was very popular with the fans and the other players so they stood behind him and accompanied him to the press conference announcing his departure and the reasons.

Campbell NF

In March 1999, Campbell joined relegation threatened Everton and was arguably one of the greatest loans ever in the Premier League. Despite only playing eight games he finished the season as the club’s top scorer with nine goals and was named April’s Player of the Month. In the summer he made the move permanent and he became even more of a legend at the club by scoring the winner against Liverpool at Anfield. Although Everton were largely disappointing in the Premier League with bottom half finishes, Campbell was a regular scorer.

Campbell Everton

West Brom then signed Campbell on a free transfer in January 2005 and many had written them off after being bottom of the Premier League at Christmas. But after making Campbell captain there was an upturn in form and he led them to survival, the first time a team had achieved this. Unfortunately he could not repeat the trick in the following season and the club were relegated and was released. He then joined Cardiff City but he could not have as much of an influence as he hoped and played his last professional game on the 20th February 2007 against former club West Brom.

The final word can go to Bryan Robson. “He’s got vast experience and Premier League know-how. I think he’ll be a success. He’s up for trying to keep us in the Premier League. The way he leads the line is a good example to everybody but the way he gets on with players has been excellent.”

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.”