Mathieu Valbuena’s agent has admitted that FC Barcelona is interested in the French footballer. Kevin Strootman is on the brink of finalising his transfer to Roma. Southampton have been linked with a move for Sochaux playmaker Ryad Boudebouz. Keisuke Honda, has spoken of his hopes of playing for AC Milan.


Mathieu Valbuena to Barcelona?

Mathieu Valbuena

The departure of Alcantara has indeed left Barcelona in a bit of a dilemma – whether to sign another midfielder or to promote Sergi Roberto. It has also been reported that, Christophe Hutteau the agent of the 28-year old French international has spoken to the Barcelona authorities about his client. Valbuena is an explosive player, who has the ability to get past a couple of defenders with ease, thanks to his fabulous dribbling skills – Thiago too had that ability and maybe more. But what plays for Valbuena is his experience. Having played over 200 matches for Marseille, he offers the right balance to the midfield in the absence of players like Xavi or Iniesta. He can also play anywhere in the midfield. While Thiago offers variety in depth, Valbuena offers the same in width – with unnerving ease.

I spoke with Andoni Zubizarreta about Valbuena some time ago. He assured us that the Barça coaching staff consider (sic) him a very good player. Everyone is very keen on him,” said Hutteau.

However, coming from an agent, it’s better not to pay heed to such comments. His estimated price of about 15 million Euros, may just be a hindrance as Barcelona’s priority is a centre-back (read Thiago Silva) and in the midfield, they have enough cover.

Kevin Strootman on the verge of moving to AS Roma.

Yet another Manchester United target bites the dust. After Thiago, Strootman too is on the verge of choosing another club – certainly not as glamorous as the English Champions. Best deployed as a defensive midfielder, Strootman is perhaps Roma’s way of preparing for life without De Rossi, who might just take his chance at Stamford Bridge. His stint with Van Bommel at PSV Eindhoven has got his technique right and currently, the 6’1” Dutch giant is one of the finest defensive midfielders in Europe – just what Roma needs, and ironically Manchester United does too.

Kevin Strootman

Although several clubs were interested, it is highly likely that Strootman will sign for Roma for a sum of about 18 million Euros. Strootman’s physique allows him to get into a tussle even with the biggest of athletes on the pitch and his brutal strength makes him an ideal candidate to do the dirty job. A top notch tackler, the Dutchman, however, has an affinity to get into the official’s books – a trait which should go away with experience. Defensively he is as good as it gets and his interception of perhaps his best quality. Moreover he has a sledgehammer of a left foot which aids to his burly stature whenever he ventures forward – in the event of Roma’s acquisition of Strootman, Manchester United perhaps will be losing the best of all their targets, a player who they really needed.

Sochaux playmaker Ryad Boudebouz – Southampton’s Fourth?

Southampton are on a signing spree – after the acquisition of Dejan Lovren (from Lyon), Victor Wanyama (from Celtic) and the arrival of Tadanari Lee from loan, (from FC Tokyo), they have now set sight on Ryad Boudebouz of FC Sochaux-Montbéliard. Born in France of Algerian descent, Boudebouz represents Algeria in the international level, despite playing for France in the junior tournaments. Boudebouz has refused to extend his contract with Sochaux. The addition of the young attacking midfielder will bring quality to the midfield and under Mauricio Pochettino they are capable to go ahead and fight for a berth in the top half of the table. The Algerian can play as an attacking midfielder, a right winger and also as a central midfielder, thereby giving Pochettino the option to tweak his midfield as per his demand.

Keisuke Honda, has spoken of his hopes of playing for AC Milan.

Honda plays for CSKA Moscow, after having joined the club from VVV-Venlo in 2010. One of the finest midfielders from Asia, its time Europe gets a proper glimpse of the Japanese star. And AC Milan are the most likely beneficiary.

I’ve spent three-and-a-half wonderful years with CSKA and now I want to play for a big club,” said Honda.

Milan will do well with a player of his calibre in the midfield and the void left by the exit of Pirlo, might just be filled to a certain extent. And with Honda’s contract running out this winter, the Russian outfit might want to offload him in summer when they can manage some salvage value. A team player, Honda makes it a priority to get along well with his teammates on the field, something which reminds of yet another Japanese star of the recent past – Hidetoshi Nakata. His ability to score from freekicks is second to none and that is one aspect where Milan will benefit the most. With the likes of M’Baye Niang, Stephan El Shaarawy, Mario Balotelli, et al, Honda’s addition will certainly make it tough for Juventus to defend their title.