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European IX: Best performing signings

first_img Tags: Best perfoming signingstop Allison joined Liverpool from Roma last season (Photo by Agency)1- Allison Becker (Liverpool):Jurgen Klopp knew what he was bargaining for when he forked out £66m to prise Brazilian number one custodian from AS Roma.Allison impact has been immediate. With 30 percent of the Premier League season gone,  Liverpool are on their way to their best defensive stats.  The Kop are especially hard to break down at Anfield where they have not conceded in eons.2- Hachim Achraf (Borussia Dortmund):Moroccan Achraf is comfortable on both sides of Dortmund’s defense. The loan signing from Real Madrid is somehow simultaneously keeping out Lukasz Piszchek and Michael Schmezler from the Dortmund starting lineup.Real have however confirmed a long-term successor to Carlos Carvalhal and Marcelo.3- Daley Blind (Ajax Amsterdam): Holland international Blind was deemed surplus to requirements at Manchester United but he has already proved himself at Ajax where he is easily among the top ten defenders in the Dutch Eredivisie.If Ajax Amsterdam are to end PSV Eindhoven’s four-year stranglehold on the Eredivisie title,  it will be in no small measure, courtesy of the inspired decision to splash £15m on Blind.4- Leonardo Bonucci (Juventus): Old Lady supremo Maxmilliano Allegri’s swap that took Bonucci back to Turin and sent Gonzalo Higuain to AC Milan was among last summer’s top transfer deals.The ‘Harvard University professor of defense’ has helped Juventus emerge as dark horses to win this year’s UEFA Champions League. Higuain is meanwhile a massive flop at Milan so far.5- Axel Witsel (Borussia Dortmund): Belgian star Witsel’s stellar start to his Dortmund career proves there is life in the Chinese Super League.Witsel has added steel to Dortmund’s splashy attacking football, propelling Lucien Favre’s Black And Yellows to their best ever Bundesliga start.  I am moving Witsel into central defense because so many defensive midfielders are prospering.6- Jorginho (Chelsea): The arrival of Italian international Jorginho has allowed Chelsea to evolve into the Premier League’s best passing side in such a short space of time. The former Napoli enforcer is the fulcrum on which Chelsea’s seamless midfield rotates it’s passing carousel.£57m is proving to be a pittance for a player of Jorginho’s quality.7- Arthur Melo (Barcelona):  One of Blagruana’s greatest footballers of all time Xavi Hernández acknowledges Brazilian Arthur’s Nou Camp impact when he says he sees the mini-me of himself in the former Gremio midfielder.It’s a measure of how well Arthur is doing that Chile captain Arturo Vidal can’t get a start in Ernesto Valverde’s starting lineup.8- Nicolas Pepe (Lille): Ivorian dribbling wizard took a giant leap of faith when he joined Christophe Galtier’s Lille Metropole a mere two months after they survived relegation to Ligue Two.Pepe is developing into one of Europe’s best all round players, complimenting his eye for goal with a knack for creating for his team mates.  Pepe is almost certain to move to a bigger club next summer.9- Cristiano Ronaldo (Juventus):Record Serie A champions Juventus have probably already recouped the €100m they spent on recruiting Ronaldo from Real Madrid. Despite a slow start to life in Turin, Portuguese goal machine is poised to top scoring charts for Juventus.Ronaldo’s influence will mostly be felt after the December winter break when he peaks.10- Paco Alcacer (Borussia Dortmund):Alcacer’s mind-boggling commencement to life at Signal Iduna Park implies signing him on a permanent deal from Barcelona is a mere formality.Alcacer’s goals per minute ratio is the highest in Europe’s top five leagues for players who’ve managed ten goals or more. Alcacer is a major coup for Favre’s cleverly assembled side.11- Alassane Plea (Borussia Moenchengladbach):For the life of me,  I can’t comprehend why finer Nice striker Plea is not part of Didier Deschamps’ Les Bleus set up. He is big, fast, strong and clinical.Anyone who watched Plea destroy Bayern Munich and Werder Bremen just before the international break will tell you France have a readymade replacement for Olivier Giroud, to whom goals are an anathema.Comments last_img read more

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first_img Top Stories Grace expects Greinke trade to have emotional impact LISTEN: Bruce Arians, Cardinals head coach “We definitely would love to have him back.” Your browser does not support the audio element. Comments   Share   When March 8 rolls around, expect the Arizona Cardinals to be very busy.That’s the day NFL teams can begin contacting and negotiating with free agents and make qualifying offers to restricted free agents.According to Arizona head coach Bruce Arians, the team’s general manager, Steve Keim, will be busy calling players when the clock strikes 12:01.“We probably have five,” Arians told Doug and Wolf Friday on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM when asked if there was a specific early target for the Cardinals. “Steve and I have the same philosophy, ‘here it is, do you want it? I’m going to ask this guy in about a half an hour. If you don’t want it, I’m going to ask him. If he wants it, you’re out.’ Former Cardinals kicker Phil Dawson retires The 5: Takeaways from the Coyotes’ introduction of Alex Meruelo Derrick Hall satisfied with D-backs’ buying and selling “It’s easy. We don’t play games.”Of course, the second-year head coach didn’t offer names of players the team is targeting, but did talk about areas where he’d like to see the Cardinals improve.“I think we need to get bigger and stronger on both sides of line with more depth — offensive line and defensive line. We need to get some depth because of our division — you’re going to win at the line of scrimmage in our division, you have to be physical,” he said. “And we can never, never stop getting speed, everywhere. Whether it be a linebacker, pass rusher, corner, safety or wide receiver.”Then there’s the matter of the Cardinals bringing back free agents of their own. Arizona has 14 players in that category, but none more important to re-sign than veteran linebacker Karlos Dansby, who led the team with 122 total tackles and was named a second team All-Pro.Arians knows how vital Dansby is to the Cardinals’ defense.“There’s no doubt — we offered Karlos a contract the day after the season ended,” he said. “We’re still in the negotiating process, but he’s a major part because of what he brought to the table for us as a leader.last_img read more