Hoeness: Hats off to Athletic Bilbao for standing firm in Javi Martinez talks

Bayern Munich president Uli Hoeness has complimented Athletic Bilbao for their firmness in talks over the proposed transfer of Javi Martinez.

The Basque side stated earlier this summer that the versatile midfielder would only be available if a club matched his buy-out clause, and they have stood firm over their €40 million valuation of the Spain international ever since.
Athletic’s hefty asking price prompted Barcelona to turn their interest to Arsenal’s Alex Song instead, but Bayern remained unfazed and are ready to splash the cash on Javi Martinez.

“Hats off to Athletic. They told us from the start that we would have to pay €40 million or the deal was off,” Heynckes stated to reporters.

“They did not change their position during the negotiations and stood firm.”

Bayern are yet to agree personal terms with Javi Martinez, but they are expected to wrap up the deal in the upcoming days.

The Bavarians have already added the likes of Xherdan Shaqiri, Dante, Mario Mandzukic and Claudio Pizarro to their squad this summer.

Sammer: Heynckes is doing a really good job

Bayern Munich sporting director Matthias Sammer has taken the time to praise head coach Jupp Heynckes.

The former Borussia Dortmund star has stressed that the 67-year-old is respected not just at the Allianz Arena, but elsewhere as well, and added they have an excellent relationship.

“He is doing a really good job, and he is respected both here and by the world outside,” Sammer was quoted as saying on the official Bayern website.

“We have an outstanding relationship. I do not know if the coach will like this, but he could be my dad. I am enthralled by the way he thinks about football.

“As I said, the basics are in place, or I would not have come. If you want a relationship based on trust and the head coach doesn’t want it, it can’t work.

“But for all this, I don’t believe we will win every game this season. There will be situations where we have to put up a united front.”

Heynckes took charge of Bayern in the summer of 2011, and guided them to the final of the Champions League, which they lost against Chelsea.

In a league of its own: England leading the way from Spain and Italy after summer of stellar signings

COMMENT
By Carlo Garganese | Goal.com International Deputy Editor

The month of August is painfully predictable for football fans. The start to La Liga is often disrupted by disputes over television revenue, Serie A is usually engulfed in a betting or match-fixing scandal, while most frustratingly of all we are repeatedly subjected to the same, tedious over-hyping of the new Premier League season.

This year has been slightly different. While Spain and Italy have suffered from their usual teething problems, for the first time in maybe 20 years there has been an understated build-up to the upcoming English campaign.

The success of Team GB’s 29 gold medals at the London 2012 Olympics coupled with the umpteenth failure of England’s football team at Euro 2012 has certainly resulted in a deliberate toning down by the corporate marketing machines, but at the same time there appears to be a misguided consensus that the Premier League has struggled to make an impact in the transfer market.

SUMMER TRANSFER SPENDING IN EUROPE
League
Premier LeagueSerie ALigue 1

Bundesliga

Russian P.Liga

Turkish S.Lig

La Liga

Source: transfermarkt.de

Spent
€313m

€282m

€202m

€179m

€115m

€66m

€65m

Received
€99m

€295m

€108m

€130m

€40m

€33m

€116m

The EPL has spent more money on transfers than any of its European competitors, splashing out €313 million to Serie A’s €282m, Ligue 1’s €202m and the Bundesliga’s €179m. Astonishingly La Liga has only exhausted €65m.

Of course spending more money isn’t automatically a demonstration of strength – one only needs to reference the €95m (£75m) Liverpool blew on Andy Carroll, Stewart Downing and Jordan Henderson. But this summer, if we analyse the movement of the Premier League’s most powerful clubs – Manchester City, Manchester United, Chelsea, Arsenal, Tottenham and Liverpool – five are arguably stronger than they were at the end of 2011-12.

Chelsea have been the biggest movers, having lavished €80m on the naturally gifted Eden Hazard, Oscar and Marko Marin. Arsenal will have concerns over the centre of their attack due to the impending sale of Robin van Persie to Man Utd, but have brought in real quality in Lukas Podolski, Olivier Giroud and Santi Cazorla. The latter could prove to be the signing of the summer, and there is still time to spend the Van Persie money.

Tottenham will need to fill a hole in midfield if Luka Modric completes his transfer to Real Madrid, but Spurs manager Andre Villas-Boas will have €40m to burn on a replacement and has already signed Ajax captain Jan Vertonghen and Bundesliga star Gylfi Sigurdsson. Brendan Rodgers’ Liverpool are a work in progress, but have improved with the acquisitions of Roma’s Fabio Borini and Swansea’s Joe Allen.

Manchester United registered a massive coup in capturing Dortmund’s €16m Shinji Kagawa. The Red Devils remain weak in the centre of midfield, but will be a team to fear again with Van Persie. Premier League champions City have only added Everton’s Jack Rodwell but are working on landing a blue-chip centre back. With a world class squad already at his disposal, and a year of Champions League experience under his belt, Roberto Mancini will be confident of taking the Citizens onto the next level in Europe.

Although Modric could yet defect, the only important players to depart the big six bubble this summer have been Didier Drogba from Chelsea and Ledley King from Tottenham, the latter having retired.

Santi’s new shirt | Cazorla could prove to be the signing of the summer

Compare this to Serie A, which has exported two superstars in Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Thiago Silva to Paris Saint-Germain, as well as another top-class symbol in Ezequiel Lavezzi to the same club. With pillars such as Del Piero, Nesta, Inzaghi, Seedorf, Gattuso and Zambrotta either being released, moving abroad or retiring, Serie A has undoubtedly lost a degree of its lustre.

Milan’s pre-season has been nothing short of disastrous. The Rossoneri‘s financial model has been torn up, with the club having accrued a total deficit of around a quarter of a billion euros in the past half-a-decade.

The days of lavish spending by Silvio Berlusconi are over as the former Italian prime minister turns his attention to cutting costs. Riccardo Montolivo aside, the players brought in to replace the above legends –  Francesco Acerbi, Bakaye Traore, Sulley Muntari and Kevin Constant – are not names worthy of the prestigious Milan jersey. The sight of Adriano Galliani begging Florentino Perez to loan him Kaka, and contribute half of the Real Madrid man’s wages, is depressing.

Rivals Inter, who finished sixth last season, are also in a state of transition and will not immediately challenge for Serie A, or the Champions League should they return there next season. Goalkeeper Samir Handanovic may be a top-notch acquisition from Udinese, but are the likes of Matias Silvestre and thirty-somethings Gaby Mudingayi and Rodrigo Palacio going to transform the ageing 2010 Champions League winners? The Nerazzurri are sorely missing star quality.

With Italy’s third Champions League representatives Udinese having offloaded virtually their entire first team over the past year, it will be up to Juventus to fly the flag. Unlike the Milanese, Juve have enjoyed an excellent summer by securing the outstanding Udinese duo of Kwadwo Asamoah and Mauricio Isla.

The Serie A champions will add two more names to their roster by the end of the window – including a top-class forward (possibly Athletic’s Fernando Llorente) – and can certainly match anything the Premier League has to offer. However, inspirational coach Antonio Conte faces a ban of 10 months, pending appeals, following the betting scandal. Such a handicap could break the Old Lady in Europe.

HIGHEST PROFILE IMPORTS TO EUROPE’S BIG FIVE LEAGUES
Premier League
La Liga
Serie A
Bundesliga
Ligue 1
Santi Cazorla (Arsenal) Joao Pereira (Valencia) Borja Valero (Fiorentina) Xherdan Shaqiri (Bayern) Zlatan Ibrahimovic (PSG)
Eden Hazard (Chelsea)
Cristian Rodriguez (Atletico Madrid)
Egidio Arevalo (Palermo)
Granit Xhaka (Gladbach)
Thiago Silva
(PSG)
Shinji Kagawa
(Man Utd)
Nelson Valdez (Valencia)
Paulo Dybala (Palermo)
Luuk de Jong (Gladbach)
Ezequiel Lavezzi (PSG)
Oscar
(Chelsea)
Youssef El Arabi (Granada)
Cristian Zapata (Milan)
Milan Badelj (Hamburg)
Marco Verratti
(PSG)
Fabio Borini (Liverpool)
G.Kondogbia (Sevilla) Mati Fernandez (Fiorentina)
Vaclav Pilar (Wolfsburg)
Lucas Moura
(PSG)

Elsewhere the projects at Roma, Napoli and Fiorentina are coming along nicely, but the bottom line is that at the highest level Serie A has – Juventus aside – experienced one of its most difficult transfer markets for years, and as the table above proves there have been few, if any, big name imports.

The situation in Spain has been “even worse than Italy this summer” as Fifa transfer guru Ernesto Bronzetti noted, reflecting the sorry state of the country’s economy that sees youth unemployment at over 50 per cent. Real Madrid have yet to sign a single player, although they should soon snare Modric. Barcelona have added just one first teamer – albeit a top-class one in Valencia left back Jordi Alba.

Nevertheless, the starting point of the Clasico couple was so strong that little improvement could be made to their already formidable outfits. Madrid and Barca may have been eliminated in the Champions League semi-finals last season, but they remain head and shoulders above the rest of the competition, both at home and abroad. This is a view shared by legendary World Cup-winning coach Marcello Lippi: “In Europe there are two teams, Barcelona and Real Madrid, in front of everyone. Then there is a group of five or six teams.”

These five or six squads will draw inspiration from Chelsea’s shock Champions League success. In a one or two-legged knockout game, anything is possible.

There are two teams, Barcelona & Madrid, in front of everyone. Then a group of five or six teams

Marcello Lippi

Investment has also been minimal for the rest of La Liga. Malaga appear to have lost the backing of their investors and are now selling stars, and Atletico Madrid cannot afford to repeat last year’s expensive outlay – much of which they are still owing. Valencia have made some shrewd Joao Pereira-like purchases but remain heavily in debt, while Athletic Bilbao are restricted by their Basque-only signing policy and may lose stars Fernando Llorente and Javi Martinez. The rest of Spain, quite simply, will be happy just to break even.

Breaking even is an impossibility at Paris Saint-Germain this summer with Qatar Investment Authority (QIA) having already splurged €140m on established stars Ibrahimovic, Thiago Silva and Lavezzi, as well as wonderkids Marco Verratti and Lucas Moura.

While PSG require time to gel, and still contain defensive weaknesses – as illustrated in their opening day Ligue 1 draw with Lorient – there can be no denying this is a team who will soon be equipped to conquer Europe.

But the strength of a league is not based on one team, and while PSG’s stars will frighten the Premier League, there is little to worry about the rest of the French competition. Former champions Marseille and Lyon have signed just one player between them, and have spent the summer auctioning off their best talent. Lille have lost star man Hazard, and Mathieu Debuchy could follow him, while last year’s champions Montpellier have sold top-scorer Giroud, with star defender Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa seemingly on his way to Serie A.

Zlat’s Amore! | Ibra & Silva have transformed PSG, but what about rest of Ligue 1?

In the Bundesliga, Bayern Munich may have expended €27.5m and secured one of Europe’s hottest properties in Xherdan Shaqiri, but they have failed to strengthen the one area of the team that needed treatment – the centre of defence. Dante from Borussia Monchengladbach will add depth but will he improve the first team backline? Bayern’s starting XI is no stronger than it was last term, but the possible arrival of Athletic’s Javi Martinez would change that.

Dortmund have replaced one star in Kagawa with another in Marco Reus, who has the potential to become one of the continent’s best players. Elsewhere there have only been tweaks, but BVB will have learned from their 2011-12 Champions League catastrophe, which ended ignominiously at the bottom of a modest group. Germany’s other Champions League entrants Schalke and Gladbach will not concern the Premier League, despite reasonable markets.

All in all if the transfer window were to slam shut tonight, the Premier League’s top brass would be very satisfied with their summer’s work. None of the big six have weakened, all but the already-formidable Manchester City have arguably strengthened, and this can only be considered a step forward as the EPL attempts to justify its slogan as the “best league in the world”.

The true acid test is the Champions League. Real Madrid and Barcelona may remain miles ahead of the crowd, and PSG and Juventus may have jumped into the equation too, but the Premier League is back on the right path as it aims to gain a stranglehold once more on club football’s most prestigious competition.

Follow Carlo Garganese on

Uli Hoeness: Bayern Munich green light Javi Martinez transfer

Bayern Munich president Uli Hoeness has revealed that the club has been given the “green light” by its governing board to pursue the signing of Javi Martinez from Athletic Bilbao.

The Spain international midfielder has long been linked with a move to the Allianz Arena, as the Bavarian giants look to bolster their midfield options ahead of the new domestic and European campaign.

Hoeness’ comments signal an impending end to one of the summer’s longest running transfer sagas, with Bayern set to meet the 23-year-old’s €40million release clause in order to complete the deal.

“The board has given the green light, and in the coming days we will tell if the transfer is done or not,” Hoeness explained to Sportbild.

Barcelona had made the player a transfer priority at the end of last season, but were reluctant to meet his buy-out clause, while Spanish tax laws would have forced the Blaugrana to pay around €7m extra for the transfer.

Bayern had also been cautious about spending big money, but appear to be in pole position to sign Martinez, with Hoeness hoping to come to a financial agreement with Bilbao, who have stood firm to their valuation of the player.

“The coach and the sporting director are convinced that he [Martinez] will solve our problems. The sporting decision has been made, but now we have to find an economic solution. I will be pleased if it comes off.”

Javi Martinez, who can also play as a central defender, has made over 200 appearances for the Bilbao first team, while winning eight caps for his country.

Who will be 2012-13's Reus, Moritz & Ter Stegen? The possible breakout stars of the new Bundesliga season


ANALYSIS
By Enis Koylu

Since the radical re-think in Germany’s approach to youth development in the wake of the national team’s failure at Euro 2000, the Bundesliga has seen a multitude of young talents emerge, with many of them establishing themselves at both club and international level.

But there is a whole new generation breaking through. Die Mannschaft‘s youth ranks have been in impressive form in recent tournaments, and the country’s top flight will soon be awash with a fresh batch of talent to complement the current crop.

And Goal.com are here to take a look at some of the players who could make a name for themselves in the Bundesliga in 2012-13, following in the footsteps of the stars.

Alaba has long been touted with a big future in the game, but it was only last year that he began to take massive strides, and the Austrian now looks to have sealed his place in Jupp Heynckes’ starting XI. A midfielder by trade, Bayern’s full-back woes eventually led to the 20-year-old being shifted to the left side of defence.

And the change paid instant dividends. Bayern were able to halt a run of sub-par performances, and their good form carried them through to the Champions League final. He was unfortunate to miss the clash with Chelsea through suspension, but showcased his maturity by tucking home a penalty against Real Madrid in the semi-final, having already picked up a heartbreaking yellow card.

Having sustained a pre-season injury, he will miss the early part of 2012-13, but will hope to return as soon as possible and establish himself as one of the Bundesliga’s elite full-backs.



Amid the horror show that was Bayer Leverkusen’s 7-1 loss to Barcelona at Camp Nou in March, there was one bright spark: a young attacker by the name of Karim Bellarabi.

After Lionel Messi had made everyone perfectly aware of the gulf in quality between the two sides, the Germany Under-21 striker made his way from the bench, and scored a spectacular 90th minute strike so Robin Dutt’s side had something to show for their 3,400 kilometre round trip.

With Eren Derdiyok leaving the BayArena for Hoffenheim this summer, and Stefan Kiessling’s form perennially fluctuating, the 22-year-old will receive more playing time, and should be able to truly announce himself to a Bundesliga audience.

While it seems like an age since Julian Draxler took his first strides into the Schalke first team, the Germany international is still astonishingly young. Throughout last season, he balanced his footballing career with academic commitments, but has since finished school, and won his first cap for his country.

With Raul departed and Tranquillo Barnetta being snapped up on a free transfer, Draxler is widely expected to shift inside to take the Spaniard’s slot behind Klaas-Jan Huntelaar. A big ask, you might say, but having spent over a year in the public eye, the 18-year-old prodigy seems more than capable of shouldering the burden.

And who knows? Perhaps he could even help Schalke to their first national title since 1958.

Mehmet Ekici enjoyed a modest first season at Werder Bremen after moving to the Weserstadion last summer from Nurnberg, but after a summer of change at the club, he can be expected to step into a key role in the coming campaign as Thomas Schaaf looks to put his faith in youth.

Prior to a season-ending injury at the beginning of April, the Turkey international, who represented Germany at youth level, was showing signs of improvement, Still, his latter performances have been rewarded with the No.10 shirt.

If Bremen are to achieve their goal of re-establishing themselves amongst Germany’s elite, the 22-year-old will surely be critical to their plans.

While Marco Reus stole the headlines with his performances for Borussia Monchengladbach last year, he was aided by a very able supporting cast. Juan Arango and Mike Hanke were already known quantities, but Patrick Herrmann surprised everyone.

A tricky winger with a fantastic cross, he was devastating for Lucien Favre’s side at times, not least in their commanding 3-1 victory over Bayern Munich in January, and was touted with a potential call-up to Germany’s preliminary squad for Euro 2012.

The nod from Low did not come, but with the likes of Luuk de Jong and Granit Xhaka joining the Foals’ squad, he may well win his place in the national side over the course of next season.

Another star to leave Borussia Park for pastures new after Gladbach’s extraordinary 2011-12 season was Roman Neustadter. However, with the acquisition of former Basel player Xhaka, the Schalke-bound midfielder does not seem to be a loss by any stretch of the imagination.

The 19-year-old was a key cog in the side that shocked Manchester United in the Champions League. He was chased by a host of Bundesliga clubs going into the new season, but his compatriot Lucien Favre has managed to convince him that his future lies at Borussia Park.

With a young set of team-mates, and an ambitious, well-run club, the stage is set for Xhaka to set Germany alight in the coming seasons.

Follow Enis Koylu on