Arsenal legend says Pogba “can be one of best in history” – but is he worth £100m?

French midfield star Paul Pogba might be preparing for a huge semifinal clash with Germany tonight, but that hasn’t stopped him from being continuously linked with a world-record transfer away from Juventus this summer.

Former club Manchester United are said to be preparing a £100 million bid for his signature, with Jose Mourinho keen on bringing the 23-year-old star to Old Trafford before the summer transfer window shuts.

Real Madrid are also interested, with the player’s agent, Mino Raiola confirming last month that initial talks had taken place with the Spanish giants.

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Whichever way you look at it, Pogba is in demand. He is wanted by the top clubs around the world and they are seemingly prepared to smash the world-record transfer fee to get him. But is he worth that sort of investment?

Well according to Arsenal legend and fellow Frenchman Thierry Henry, the answer is yes. Henry told Sky Sports that he feels Pogba “can be one of the best midfielders in history”.

“He has the quality to do that, the pundit added. “He needs to make sure he concentrates on what he can do well.

“What I love about him at the moment is that he’s doing what the team’s asking him to do; maybe he’s sometimes a bit more fancy at Juventus but because Griezmann is playing behind Giroud for France, he has to defend a bit more.

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“That’s the sign of his intelligence. He’s playing within himself in a way, to make sure the team has the right balance.”

That balance that Henry mentions has seen France reach the semifinals of the tournament, without really looking like the dominant force many expected them to be this summer.

Yes, they blew away Iceland in that 5-2 quarterfinal demolition last week – with Pogba himself netting his first goal of the tournament in that rout – but aside from that, they’ve struggled to break teams down until very late in games.

Take nothing away from them for getting to where they are now. But as a team France haven’t set the tournament alight. And the same can be said for Pogba.

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The Juventus star ended last season with eight goals and 12 assists in 35 Serie A appearances. However, for France at Euro 2016, Pogba has registered just one goal and has picked up no assists as of yet.

He might be playing a slightly different role under Didier Deschamps, but Pogba has only won 36% of his tackles at the tournament and has committed a total of 11 fouls in five matches – the joint-fourth highest number at the competition.

Table: Pogba's Euro 2016 statistics ahead of semifinal - (Stats via Squawka).

Table: Pogba’s Euro 2016 statistics ahead of semifinal – (Stats via Squawka).

Dimitri Payet has overshadowed him as Les Bleus’ standout performer and while there is no doubting his ability, Pogba is not yet the player that many want him to be.

He is blessed with raw pace, impressive power and more flair than most central midfielders on the planet. However, his overall game as a central midfielder needs polishing still.

He may only be 23 years of age, but if clubs are willing to spend £100 million to secure your services, you need to be a complete package. And it’s unclear whether Pogba is that just yet…

Do you think Paul Pogba is worth £100 million? Will he be one of the best midfielders in history?

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EXCLUSIVE: Lloyd Sam looking ‘to get aggression back’ as Red Bulls look to evolve

The New York Red Bulls have started 2015 in much better form than many predicted, and are currently three points better off than at the same stage last season, despite the change in head coach and the loss of Designated Players Thierry Henry and Tim Cahill.

But not everything changed, and Lloyd Sam is one of the players who has remained an integral part of the Red Bulls team, as he has since joining from Leeds United in 2012.

The English winger started the campaign with three goals in four matches and is already on the same number as he was after 27 weeks in 2014, but he admits that he is not happy with his recent goalscoring drought, having not scored in seven.

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“At the moment I’m not really happy with myself in front of goal,” Sam told MLSGB. “I haven’t scored in a few games and I want to get back to that aggression that I was showing in the first few matches.

“So I’ve got to get back to that, running hard in the box and really making myself a nuisance. We’re looking at that right now about getting that aggression back.”

There were concerns that the Red Bulls were going to struggle this season after waving goodbye to Mike Petke despite their playoff run to the Eastern Conference final at the end of last season.

But Jesse Marsch has come in and has done well with the squad so far, leading them to third place in the Eastern Conference. They are just five points off top placed DC United and have two games in hand but Sam isn’t surprised by the encouraging start to the season.

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“I don’t know if I’m surprised,” the former Charlton Athletic winger said. “After going into preseason everything started well and I wouldn’t say I’m surprised because I look around me and I see good players and good people.

“It’s going to be hard to keep up the same style but we’re going to endeavor to do it and hopefully get stronger and stronger, and evolve into the team we want to be.”

Sam’s fellow Englishman Bradley Wright-Phillips tied the MLS record with 27 regular season goals in an exceptional season last year, and even though regular provider Thierry Henry has left, Wright-Phillips has still netted five times from ten starts so far in 2015.

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The two English attackers have a strong relationship on the field and off it, and Sam loves playing alongside last season’s MLS Golden Boot winner.

“He’s a really good guy. I love having him here and enjoy playing with him, especially when he converts a cross that I put in.

“I know his family so it’s good having him here and it’s good to go on the pitch with a guy that I know from London already. We’ve got good camaraderie.”

What have you made of Lloyd Sam and the New York Red Bull’s start to the 2015 season?

Former Chelsea and Manchester City star free to complete MLS move

Former Chelsea and Manchester City star Shaun Wright-Phillips is free to join up with brother Bradley Wright-Phillips at New York Red Bulls following his release at Queens Park Rangers.

Wright-Phillips has endured a torrid time at QPR and only played 128 minutes in the Premier League this season; only managing one start.

As he heads towards the twilight years of his career, SWP may want to join his brother at the Red Bulls. They are currently in search for a natural winger to replace Thierry Henry on the left flank, after the Arsenal legend retired at the end of the 2014 MLS season.

Bradley Wright-Phillips has been sensational since moving to the States in 2013 and has an incredible goalscoring record of 33 goals in just 48 games for the Red Bulls.

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BWP, holder of the MLS Golden Boot award, has started the current season in form, already netting five goals in 11 appearances.

The addition of SWP would provide balance to the side as well as frightening pace on both flanks, with Lloyd Sam already playing from the right.

Having already played for top clubs in England like Manchester City, Chelsea and QPR; the winger has more than enough pedigree to perform in MLS.

Would Shaun Wright-Phillips benefit from a move to Major League Soccer?

Sky Sports pundit compares Chelsea legend to Lionel Messi

Arsenal great Thierry Henry has compared Frank Lampard to arguably the world’s greatest ever player in Lionel Messi because of his work rate.

Henry has praised Lampard ahead of what is set to be his final Premier League appearance next weekend, and has claimed the midfielder’s success surprised him.

“I remember playing against him while he was at West Ham,” he said on Sky Sports on Sunday. “I remember our fans having a go at him, but so were the West Ham fans and I thought it was unfair.

“I never thought he was going to be the player he became.

“You could see he’d have a career, but the career he had is all down to work. You need a certain quality to reach a certain level, but he is a great example of working hard.

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“It’s difficult to replicate what [Lionel] Messi does but Lampard is an example of how far you can go with hard work.”

Lampard has been the Premier League for 20 years and won 13 trophies during his time at Chelsea, but is set to play his final game in England with Manchester City next weekend ahead of his MLS move to New York City FC.

There’s no doubt Lampard is one of English football’s hardest working players to have played the game and he will now look to leave whatever mark he can on Major League Soccer.

How good has Frank Lampard been for the Premier League? Is he one of the best midfielders to play in the top flight?

Arsenal legend thinks the club can win the league with French striker

Olivier Giroud has been the topic of public debate for little under a week now after it was suggested that Arsenal would fail to win the Premier League title with the French international as the lone striker.

Arsenal invincible Thierry Henry suggested that Arsenal need another forward after Chelsea clinched the title on Sunday against Crystal Palace, continuing Arsenal’s ten-year wait for another championship.

“I’m afraid, they need a top, top quality striker to win this league again,” Henry said.

However, Sky Sports pundit and former Arsenal star Charlie Nicholas has argued that Gunners boss Arsene Wenger doesn’t “particularly want or need a new striker”, going on to suggest that Arsenal “can win the league with Olivier Giroud”.

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The last time Arsenal won the coveted title was in the 2003-04 season when they unprecedentedly went unbeaten. During that season Thierry Henry scored an unbelievable 30 league goals.

Currently Giroud has an impressive 14 league goals in just 23 games, although his season has been hindered by injury.

Thierry Henry Appearances Goals Goals Per Game
2003-04 Season 37 30 0.81
Olivier Giroud Appearances Goals Goals Per Game
2014-15 Season 23 14 0.61

As you can see from the table above, Giroud falls short once again of the proficiency required to propel his club to the title and maybe with more consistent output, Arsenal can regain the Premier League.

Do you think Arsenal can win the Premier League with Olivier Giroud as their main striker?

Arsenal legends believe Premier League title race isn’t over

Former Arsenal strikers and club legends Thierry Henry and Alan Smith believe that the Premier League title race isn’t over yet despite Chelsea being four points clear of the Gunners with two games in hand.

“If they beat Chelsea, they will put some doubt in their mind,” Henry said on Sky Sports while talking after Arsenal’s 1-0 win against Burnley.

“But there is one thing I want to go back to what Aaron Ramsey said. He said, and we clearly understood because he said it two or three times, that he doesn’t like it much playing on the right of midfield. But this will do a job for the team.

“The run they are on is because they are doing things they don’t like, but they do it for the team. That’s why they are doing what they are doing, and maybe why they didn’t perform at the start of the season because they were not doing it,” the Frenchman added.

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Alan Smith agreed with Henry and thinks that Arsenal can put pressure on Chelsea if they win when the sides clash at the Emirates Stadium in two weeks time.

“They have to beat [Chelsea] if they are going to win the league, and that will put doubt in the mind of Jose Mourinho’s players,” Smith said.

“The way they’re playing, they’ve got more than enough going forward to make chances and score. Even against a defence like Chelsea’s.

“But they can’t afford any slip-ups you would probably say because you really cannot see Chelsea dropping many other points.”

Do you agree with Thierry Henry and Alan Smith? Can Arsenal win the Premier League this season?

Are the New York Red Bulls on track to win their first MLS Cup?

The New York Red Bulls have made their best start to a Major League Soccer campaign in eight years, since they went unbeaten through the first five games in the 2007 season, and things are certainly looking promising.

Few would have thought anyone would be saying the words ‘Red Bulls’ and ‘promising’ after four weeks of the 2015 season as an offseason filled with negativity filled even the most upbeat supporter with pessimism.

Transition

The Red Bulls are not afraid to change things. The club have had more head coaches in the league’s 20 year history than any other team and radical change is something Red Bulls fans have become accustomed to.

But when club legend and head coach Mike Petke was fired at the turn of the year, supporters felt let down. They reacted badly to the decision made by sporting director Ali Curtis to fire Petke, just a month after star man Thierry Henry had hung up his boots.

Tim Cahill then left the club in February and new head coach Jesse Marsch didn’t really have the fans on his side as they opened the new season away at Sporting Kansas City at the beginning of March.

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But this team looks good. Real good. Henry is irreplaceable, there is no doubt about that, but his departure has forced the Red Bulls to improve as a team. They are playing as a collective group, rather than a group of individuals and Marsch feels that this team could be heading for success.

“This team keeps pushing,” he said after he watched his side beat the Columbus Crew 2-1 on Saturday. “It keeps coming together and I really like these guys. There’s something happening here and I think we all can feel it.

“I feel like we’re only going to get better so it’s been a good start but we’ve still got a long way to go.”

Optimism

Marsh’s comments were said with excitement. He knows he has a great squad at his disposal. Bradley Wright-Phillips equalled the single-season goalscoring record with 27 last year but he looks to be a more complete player under Marsch and has already started the new year with two goals and two assists in three games.

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It took Wright-Phillips eight games to get his second goal of the 2014 season on his way to winning the Golden Boot last time out and so he is already looking set for a better campaign so long as he can stay consistent.

His fellow Englishman, Lloyd Sam has looked in fine form so far and he has stepped up his game in the absence of Henry early on, while Sacha Kljestan looks like he was one of the signings of the offseason.

Red Bulls bosses clearly felt Marsch was the man to take this team forward and they certainly look to be going in the right direction at this early stage.

They have picked up seven points from their opening three games, drawing at Sporting KC before back-to-back wins against DC United and the Columbus Crew – all three are top sides who will expect to be in the MLS Playoffs once again this season, so they are impressive results for Jesse Marsch’s side.

New York Red Bulls after three games in 2015:

Table: New York Red Bulls after three games in 2015

Table: New York Red Bulls after three games in 2015

They have gone unbeaten through three games, picking up an average of 2.33 points-per-game – a total only bettered by FC Dallas so far this season.

That’s already a major improvement from the start they made a year ago as it took the Red Bulls seven games to pick up their first win in 2014.

New York Red Bulls after three games in 2014:

Table: New York Red Bulls after three games in 2014

Table: New York Red Bulls after three games in 2014

Mike Petke watched his side concede six goals in their opening three games against the Vancouver Whitecaps, Chicago Fire and Colorado Rapids last season. Vancouver made the playoffs last year but Colorado and Chicago were two of the worst teams, making their results against better teams this time around all the more impressive.

Success

The New York Red Bulls are a team that should be winning trophies and achieving success year by year. Things looked to be going perfectly when they lifted the 2013 MLS Supporters’ Shield but back-to-back playoff failures have cast further shadows over the club. Shadows that need to be removed.

The emergence of New York City FC has just reinforced the fact that the Red Bulls must deliver. They have to try and dominate the Big Apple as well as the rest of Major League Soccer and the start they have made will certainly fill supporters with early season optimism.

They were just one game away from the title game last season as the New England Revolution beat them in the Eastern Conference Championship game. Early improvements this season could lead to greater success come December.

It is early but the Red Bulls look like a side ready to win their first-ever MLS Cup in 2015.

WATCH: Arsenal & Red Bulls legend Thierry Henry pulls off famous trick pass in Gerrard’s testimonial

Thierry Henry may have hung up his boots but he certainly hasn’t lost any of his magic and he pulled off an audacious trick pass to Ryan Babel in Steven Gerrard‘s testimonial game at Anfield on Sunday afternoon.

The Arsenal legend played for Steven Gerrard’s XI against Jamie Carragher’s XI in a team that also included Xabi Alonso, John Terry, Luis Suarez and Fernando Torres to name just a few of the big names included in Gerrard’s squad.

Carragher’s team included the likes of Pepe Reina, Didier Drogba and Mario Balotelli but it was Henry who pulled off the best piece of skill in the game with this fantastic dummy pass.

Henry famously pulled off a similar pass in an Arsenal shirt during his time in the Premier League. He finished his playing career with the New York Red Bulls at the end of the 2014 MLS season in December but clearly still has it.

The testimonial game ended 2-2 at Anfield. Drogba and Balotelli netted for Carragher’s XI, with Gerrard netting both of his sides’ goals from the penalty spot.

Gerrard is playing in his final season for Liverpool ahead of his summer move to Major League Soccer with the LA Galaxy.

Chelsea star running out of time to break Arsenal legend’s record

Cesc Fabregas couldn’t have dreamed of a better start to life with Chelsea as his first ten Premier League games with the club saw him rack up an impressive nine assists.

Despite being quick out of the blocks this season, Fabregas has tailed off slightly and the assists have dried up with just two in his last seven league appearances.

The Spanish playmaker is now currently on 16 assists for the whole season and after his blistering start, Fabregas was tipped to break the all-time Premier League record for most assists in a campaign – a record currently held by Arsenal legend Thierry Henry.

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Henry laid on a monumental 20 goals for his teammates in the 2002/03 campaign and the closest anyone has come since was when Frank Lampard set-up 18 in the 2004/05 season while playing for Chelsea – Fabregas himself also recorded 17 assists in the 2007/08 season for Arsenal.

Most assists in a Premier League season:

  • 2002/03: Thierry Henry (Arsenal) – 20
  • 2004/05: Frank Lampard (Chelsea) – 18
  • 2007/08: Cesc Fabregas (Arsenal) – 17
  • 1992/93: Eric Cantona (Manchester United) – 16
  • 2014/15: Cesc Fabregas (Chelsea) – 16*

With nine games remaining, Fabregas has got a little bit more work to do if he is to break the record and he’ll certainly need to pick up the pace once again.

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The 27 year old had already set-up six goals in his first four Premier League games, so if he can replicate that kind of form, then he certainly stands a great chance of becoming the record holder.

Chelsea’s remaining fixtures:

  • 04 April – Stoke City (home)
  • 12 April – QPR (away)
  • 18 April – Manchester United (home)
  • 26 April – Arsenal (away)
  • 29 April – Leicester City (away)
  • 02 May – Crystal Palace (home)
  • 09 May – Liverpool (home)
  • 16 May – West Brom (away)
  • 24 May – Sunderland (home)

Samir Nasri “would love” move to MLS to end his career

Manchester City midfielder Samir Nasri has revealed that he would like to make the move to Major League Soccer and follow in the footsteps of fellow Frenchman Thierry Henry by ending his career in the United States.

Nasri still has four years remaining on his current Manchester City deal as he signed a huge five-year contract extension at the end of last season, but he would prefer his next move to be to America rather than a return home to France.

“I would like to play MLS, not go back to France,” he is quoted as saying in the Daily Mail. “Maybe I would go back to Marseille but it would be too difficult – maybe impossible.

“I would like the MLS, like Thierry Henry. I love the lifestyle in the USA and everything about it.”

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Nasri will be 32 by the time his current contract with City comes to an end and could then make the switch to MLS. Manchester City part-own MLS Expansion franchise, New York City FC and so a move to the Big Apple could be a real possibility.

Frank Lampard will leave Manchester City for New York City FC at the end of the current Premier League season, while Thierry Henry also moved to New York but with the Red Bulls when he left Barcelona in 2010.

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Nasri has scored two goals with six assists in 20 Premier League appearances this season but has only played the full 90 minutes on five occasions this season.

The Frenchman shares the same agent as Bayern Munich winger Franck Ribery, who has also been linked with a move to MLS in recent times, and the pair could both be plying their trade stateside before the end of the decade.

Would a move to MLS be good for Samir Nasri?