11th February – Steve McManaman

Steve McManaman had a very interesting career and one that he can look back on proudly as he won a lot of honours in the game and will go down as one of England’s greatest footballing exports.

During his career he became the first English player to win the Champions League with a non-English club and then followed this up by winning it again and becoming the first English player to lift the trophy twice. Now at the age of 43 he will be happy that he made the decision to move abroad but at the time he was one of the most controversial and high profile free transfers of all time.

The winger started his career at Liverpool and made his debut on 15th December 1990 in a 2-0 win over Sheffield United. After an injury to John Barnes, McManaman became a regular first team member during the 1991-92 season and played 51 times, including the FA Cup final in which he was named man of the match. His reputation was continuing to grow but one of the biggest bust ups in Premier League football happened between him and Liverpool goalkeeper Bruce Grobbelaar after his poor clearance led to a goal in the Merseyside Derby during the 1993-94 season.

Steve McManaman

In the following campaign, McManaman was instrumental in helping the club pick up another trophy. The League Cup final in 1995 was renamed ‘The McManaman Final’ as he scored twice and in his second final he was once again named man of the match. At the end of the next season he was proving that he was one of the best wingers in the world by getting 25 assists in the Premier League.

McManaman was named Liverpool captain at the start of 1998-99 season but with his contract coming to an end and it not looking likely he would be signing a new one it seemed like a strange decision and on the 30th January 1999 it was announced that he would be joining Real Madrid at the end of the season. He never really hit the same heights but he will still go down as one of Liverpool’s best players and ended his time at the club with 66 goals in 364 games.

Mcmanaman RM

He made his debut for the Spanish giants on the 22nd August 1999 and set up a last minute winner against Mallorca and a week later on his home debut he scored in a 4-1 win over Numancia. It was in the Champions League that he saved his best performances for and he scored a fantastic volley in the final against Valencia and was arguably man of the match. Despite his contribution, Real Madrid splashed out on other players and it looked as though he was on his way out, however McManaman was determined to succeed and during the second half of the season he became a first team regular and was a key part in helping them win La Liga.

While at Real Madrid he constantly changed his game and became a versatile player making a fan favourite and also someone the rest of the team relied on. His second greatest moment for Madrid was also in the Champions League as he scored the second goal in the semi final against Barcelona to help them reach the final. After coming on as a substitute in the final he helped secure a 2-1 win over Bayer Leverkusen. He spent one more season in Spain but didn’t get to play much and after 152 games he left and joined Manchester City on a free transfer on the 30th August 2004. Injuries stopped him reaching his full potential at City and he only played 35 Premier League games in two seasons for the club and did not manage to score a single goal.

Mcmanaman MC

The final word can go to Kevin Keegan who spoke after the 2000 Champions League final. “He was tremendous and, if he wasn’t man of the match, then I don’t know who was – and there were a lot of great performances. We are absolutely delighted for him. I want him to go and enjoy things and I know what it is like to play in a foreign side in a European Cup final.”

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6th November – Andre Schurrle

Andre Schurrle might be a World Cup winner with Germany and have a lot of ability but it seems like he has yet to convince Jose Mourinho that he deserves to be in his starting eleven despite scoring some important goals for the club.

The winger isn’t always fully switched on when it comes to defending and this is largely why Mourinho might not see his future at Chelsea. However, there is no doubting that going forward there are few wingers who can get into as many goalscoring positions, he times his runs from the wing into the middle of the box very well and has got a lot of goals from this.

Schurrle is still only 24 so he still has a lot of time to learn different parts of the game and will keep on improving over the next few years. The German international started his career at Mainz, making his Bundesliga debut on the opening day of the 2009-10 season against Bayer Leverkusen in a 2-2 draw. He had to wait a month to score his first goals in 3-2 win over Bochum. He had a decent first season and in September 2010 the club agreed a fee with Leverkusen and he would join the club at the start of the next season. This obviously gave Shurrle a lot of confidence and he would score 15 goals in 33 games.
Schurrle Mainz
After joining Leverkusen he scored on his debut in the German Cup against Dynamo Dresden but had to wait until the 15th October 2011 to score his first Bundesliga club, rescuing a point with a late goal in a 2-2 draw with Borussia Monchengladbach. A few days later he would score his first Champions League goal in a win over Valencia. He ended his first season with nine goals in all competitions and was putting in some great performances. Yet again he would have an even better second season and was a vital part of Leverkusen’s first away win against Bayern Munich since October 1989, setting up a goal for Stefan Kiebling. He finished his second at the club with 14 goals and nine assists.
Schurrle BL
On the 25th June 2013 Schurrle joined Chelsea and made his debut as a substitute in a 2-0 win over Hull City in the Premier League. His first goal would come in a 2-1 win over title rivals Manchester City and he would also go on to score twice against Stoke City a few weeks later. But his best moment of the season came when he scored a hatrick against Fulham in a 3-1 win and then later in the month was named the Man of the Match after the 6-0 win over Arsenal where he was a constant threat, setting up the first goal and scoring the second.
Schurrle Chelsea
This season he scored a fantastic goal on the opening day of the season against Burnley and scored once again against Manchester City to help his side get a point away to the defending champions. But it has been struggle for him to remain a first choice player this season as Mourinho has preferred other options.

The final word can go to Jose Mourinho. “Andre Schurrle is still so young but he already has great history because he plays in his national team. So he is a player who is absolutely ready and he gives us more than one position in attack and adds quality. He will be important for us.”

4th November – Enner Valencia

West Ham have made a fantastic start to the season and have been one of the surprise packages with birthday boy Enner Valencia playing a key part in their new attacking style.

It is an unwritten rule not to sign a player after a World Cup as they can sometimes be hit and miss but Sam Allardyce took a chance on the Ecuadorian and it has certainly worked out for him. The striker from Ecuador has 11 goals in 17 international appearances and that is a very good record and with three goals at the World Cup it was a surprise to see him not being linked with more clubs.

The 25 year old started his career in Ecuador with Emelec in 2008 but he had to wait until 2010 and the arrival of Argentinean coach Jorge Sampaoli to get a chance in the first team. He would go on to score his first professional goal in a crucial game against LDU Quito on the 10th March to gain an important win against their title rivals. In the following season he became more of a regular starter and rewarded his managers confidence by scoring nine goals and helping his side finish second in the table. For a third season in a row Emelec would finish runners up in 2012 but Valencia was getting better and scoring more goals, this time grabbing 13 goals.
Valencia Emelec
Finally in 2013 Emelec would win the title but surprisingly the striker didn’t have his goalscoring boots on and in terms of goals had a poor season. However, he did manage to hit his first career hatrick on the 7th August 2013 in the Copa Sudamericana. This proved to be his last season at the club as he joined Mexican side Pachuca in 2014 and would score his first goal for the club in a 2-1 win over Tijuana on the 18th January. The following week he scored twice against defending champions Club Leon and would end the season as the top scorer in Liga MX with 12 goals. In the playoffs he would also score a hatrick in a 4-2 win over UNAM.
Valencia Pachuca
After a total of 18 goals in 23 league games and an impressive World Cup, West Ham signed the striker on the 29th July 2014. His time at West Ham did not start well as he came on as a substitute in the defeat against Tottenham Hotspur on the opening day of the season and then had a penalty saved in the League Cup tie against Sheffield United. But on his full league debut he put in an impressive performance away to Hull City, where he also scored his first goal for the club with a strike from 25 yards that reached 61 miles per hour. He has scored two more goals for West Ham, in a 3-1 win over Burnley and in the 2-2 draw with Stoke City.
Valencia WH
The final word can go to teammate Stewart Downing who has benefited from playing alongside Valencia. “From what I’ve seen, he looks a very good player. He can nick a goal and it’s what we’ve needed as we didn’t have that last season. It will help the manager that he has options and he can bring people in who can perform straight away.”

15th September – Aly Cissokho

Aston Villa have had a fantastic start to the season and some are putting it down to the influence of Roy Keane while others are saying it is because of the experience they now have at the back, including birthday boy Aly Cissokho.

The 27 year old has helped the club to second in the table after four games and with three clean sheets so far and only one goal conceded they have certainly surprised a lot of people. The left back has added a lot of pace to the back line and he is always quick to support his winger when going forward.

Cissokho started his professional career at French side Gueugnon in the second division and after impressing for the youth team and reserves, he made his debut on the 25th May against Metz. Manager Alain Ravera rewarded him with a new contract and he was given the number three shirt for the 2007-08 season and remained a key member of the squad when Ravera was replaced with Alex Dupont. Despite his good performances, the club were relegated and on the 2nd June 2008, the defender transferred to Portuguese side Vitoria Setubal.
Cissokho Guegunon
He only spent half a season at the club and after just 15 appearances he was snapped up by defending champions Porto. Cissokho helped the club retain the title and in the 15 matches he played for Porto they did not lose and then he also played the full 90 minutes in the Taca de Portugal final which saw them lift the trophy after defeating Pacos de Ferreira.

Once again after just half a season he was on the move and he was close to joining AC Milan but after he allegedly failed a medical they pulled out of the deal and he ended up signing for Lyon. He made his debut in the opening game of the season against Le Mans. He remained first choice at the French side for the next three seasons and his consistent performances were recognised by the national team and he made his French debut in 2010.
Cissokho Lyon
Over the three seasons he made 137 appearances and scored two goals, with his first coming in a 4-0 thrashing of Hungarian side Debrecen. On the 23rd August 2012 he joined Spanish side Valencia and made his debut in a 1-0 defeat away to Barcelona. He scored his first goal for the club on his birthday against Celta Vigo which turned out to be the winning goal in a 2-1 win.
Cissokho Valencia
After just one season at the club, he was on the move once more joining Liverpool on a season long loan. He made his debut against current club Aston Villa after coming on as a substitute, however his time at the club didn’t quite go to plan and he struggled to get in the first team, making just 19 appearances all season.

Aston Villa took a chance on him in the summer and so far it seems to have paid off for them and they will be hoping he can keep up his solid performances.

The final word can go to Paul Lambert. “Aly has been at some massive clubs and has that big game experience. We have a good player on our hands here. He’s big strong and powerful. He gives you a presence.”

20th August – Alvaro Negredo

Alvaro Negredo started last season fantastically at Manchester City and despite a difficult end to the campaign it seems strange that he is being linked with moves away from the club.

23 goals in 48 games is a phenomenal record for a player at a new club in a different country and this is also while competing with the talents of Sergio Aguero, Edin Dzeko and Stevan Jovetic for a starting place. A foot injury has stopped him being fit for the start of the season and it could be a blessing in disguise for both player and club because it means he is less likely to leave the club.

Negredo started his career at Rayo Vallecano and after impressing for the ‘B’ team (scoring 28 goals in 40 games) he made his professional debut in early 2005 in the second division of Spain. After scoring one goal in 12 games he moved to Real Madrid’s affiliate team Real Madrid Castilla and in his second season he scored 18 times which convinced first team manager Fabio Capello to put him in the Real Madrid squad for some Copa Del Rey games but he unfortunately did not make it onto the pitch.

In July 2007 he joined Almeria and the newly promoted side performed well above expectations and Negredo was a huge part of that. He ended the campaign as their top scorer with 13 goals, including strikes against Real Madrid in a 2-0 win and Sevilla in a 4-1 win. He followed this up with a brilliant start to the next season with five goals in the first six games and was a regular scorer right through the season and ended it with 19 goals in just 35 games.
Negredo Almeria
This form led to Real Madrid resigning the player due to a buyback clause in his contract but the manager at the time Manuel Pellegrini could not guarantee him first team football so he moved on almost straight away to Sevilla. Negredo later revealed that he admired Pellegrini’s honesty during the whole situation.

The 2009-10 season was interesting for the striker as he was first choice but he did go through some barren spells in front of goal and was also sent off three times over the course of the season, however he did still manage 14 goals in all competitions. 2010-11 was a much kinder season to Negredo as he continually scored goals and finished the season with braces against Villarreal, Deportivo, Real Madrid, Osasuna and Espanyol. He ended his second season with 27 goals in all competitions and was one of the most feared strikers in Spain.
Negredo Sevilla
His final season at the club ended with him finishing as the highest Spanish goalscorer in La Liga with 25 goals and was therefore awarded the Zarra Trophy. He was helped by scoring a hatrick in the victory over Celta Vigo and all four goals in a 4-3 win over Valencia on the last game of the season.

On the 19th July 2013 Negredo signed for Manchester City and helped the club win both the Premier League and the League Cup with 23 goals in his first season, including five in the Champions League.
Negredo MC
The final word can go to Tim Sherwood who compared him to Premier League record scorer Alan Shearer. “They both score goals. I haven’t studied Negredo as much as I knew Alan but they both score every type of goal, they hold the ball up well. He is probably the most similar to Shearer as there has been in recent years.”

4th August – Antonio Valencia

Antonio Valencia was the first Ecuadorean to win the Premier League and he could play a crucial role once again at Old Trafford next season.

If new manager Louis Van Gaal plays a 3-5-2 formation then this could suit Valencia perfectly as he would be able to play as one of the wing backs and be very effective as he has proved he can play both on the right wing and at right back. Although there are doubts over his future it could be a big mistake if Van Gaal does let him go because they have already lost quite a few experienced Premier League players this summer.

Valencia started his career at El Nacional in Ecuador and it wasn’t long before he broke into their first team and was being linked with moves to Europe, in particular Spain. But in his last season at the club he helped them win the 2005 Clausura Tournament and after 11 goals in 83 league games he decided to move to Europe.
Valencia EN
In 2005 he signed for Villarreal but he struggled to break into their first team and only played twice before being loaned out to Recreativo de Huelva and he was an important player for them, helping them to win the second division in Spain and gain promotion to La Liga. Although he only played 12 times he impressed enough to get some interest from other clubs and he joined Wigan Athletic on loan on the 3rd August 2006.

It did not take long to settle in England and he scored his first goal in an emphatic 4-0 win over Manchester City. However, he picked up an injury soon afterwards and was ruled out for three months before returning in January against Everton. Although he only got one goal and one assist his performances were good enough to convince the club to extend his loan deal and then make it permanent in January 2008. He would go onto make 88 appearances for Wigan but was continually linked with moves away and manager Steve Bruce confirmed that he turned down the chance to join Real Madrid.
Valencia WA
Eventually he did leave Wigan and joined Manchester United for a fee in the region of £16 million and in his first season he impressed the fans with his pace and crossing ability. His greatest moment came in the final of the League Cup when he set up the winning goal against Aston Villa for Wayne Rooney. In all competitions he played 49 times and scored seven goals.

His next season was very stop start because of injuries but he did still play enough games to pick up a Premier League winners medal and started in the Champions League final defeat to Barcelona which led to him signing a new contract with the club. During the 2011-12 season he proved his versatility by playing a lot of games at right back and he looked very threatening from this position and at the end of the year he was awarded the Fans and Players’ Player of the Year awards.
Valencia MU
After his fine form he was awarded the famous number seven shirt however this only lasted a season before returning to the number 25 and after signing a new three year deal in the summer he will want to get back to his best form under Van Gaal.

The final word can go to Sir Alex Ferguson. “Antonio is a player we have admired for some time now, having spent the last two years in the Premier League with Wigan. I am sure his pace and ability will make a significant contribution to the team.”

2nd June – Sergio Aguero

Sergio Aguero is one of the best strikers in the world and will be hoping that he can prove it at the World Cup.

The striker has achieved so much in the game and is only just turning 26 today but it is not surprising that he has became one of the best in the world. He made his professional debut for Independiente at the age of just 15 years and 35 days becoming the youngest player to play in the division. He did not play again for seven months but when he did he became the youngest player to play in the Copa Libertadoras. On the 26th November he scored his first goal in a 2-2 against Estudiantes. During the 2005-06 season he became a first team regular and scored 18 times in 36 league games and was being linked with moves the Europe.
Aguero Independiente
On the 30th May he joined Atletico Madrid and Argentina legend Diego Maradona had a lot of praise for the striker. “The fact that people haven’t seen much of him in Europe means he hasn’t got the exposure Messi has had. But Aguero is just as good.”

He didn’t settle straightaway in Spain and only scored six times in his first season but after Fernando Torres left for Liverpool, Aguero became the star man. Still only 19 he finished the season as the third highest goalscorer in La Liga at the end of the year with 19 goals. He scored important goals against Barcelona, Real Madrid, Valencia, Sevilla and Villarreal that helped the club finish fourth and qualify for the Champions League for the first time in over 10 years.

In the next season he continued to get better as his partnership with Diego Forlan was improving and he scored his first Champions League goal in a 3-0 win over PSV. The 2009-10 season was a bit slower for everyone at the club but he managed to score twice against Chelsea in the Champions League. They were knocked out of the competition but won the Europa League with Aguero providing the assists for both goals in the final.
Aguero Atletico
His most successful season was the year after though as he scored 20 league goals and scored in seven consecutive games towards the end of the season. In his final game for the club he scored a hatrick against Mallorca with the second being his 100th for the club in all competitions.

On the 28th July 2011 he joined Manchester City for £38 million and made his debut on the opening day of the season against Swansea City. He came on as a substitute on the 59th minute and scored twice as well as providing a goal for David Silva. On his third start he scored his first hatrick in a 5-1 win over Wigan Athletic. He scored 23 times in his first season but the most important was with the last kick of the season that won the Premier League title for the club.
Aguero MC
The 2012-13 season was more difficult as he suffered an injury early on and it took him till the 29th September to score his first of the season. He went on to score another 11 Premier League goals as the club failed to defend their title but after missing the whole of the next preseason he started the season brilliantly by scoring against Newcastle United and then twice against Manchester United in a 4-1 win. On the 24th November he scored his 9th and 10th goals of the season against Tottenham Hotspur which meant that he now had the best minutes to goal ratio ever in the Premier League. He also scored five times in six league Champions League group games. He missed a lot of the season through injury but ended it with 28 goals in 34 games as well as winning back the Premier League title.

The final word can go to Ossie Ardiles. “He’s very, very quick and clever. He’s very intelligent and can score goals very, very easily. He lives to score goals, he’s a proper centre forward, he always wants to be close to the box.”