Tunisia seek Rani Khedira for the world cup in Russia.

rani khedira

Tunisia is one of the five countries from Africa that is representing the continent at the world cup in Russia next year, and they are looking around the globe for their illustrious sons to represent them. At the moment, the searchlight is pointing at Rani Khedira of FC Augsburg.

Rani Khedira has both German and Tunisian nationality and has played for Germany in various age grade competitions.

This is not the first time that Tunisia is interested in Khedira. Tunisia came calling two years ago as the midfielder was playing for RB Leipzig but he rejected the offer. This time around, with prospects of playing at the world cup, the offer to play for Tunisia sounds attractive.

Khedira is an integral part of FC Augsburg since his transfer from Leipzig and his performance so far have been quite impressive.

He is thinking about the offer and he said in Kicker, “I have not decided yet. First of all, I want to gain a foothold in the Bundesliga and develop myself further. I want to play the next ten games and then we can sit together sometime in the spring and see if it fits for both sides. That’s the state. ”

Playing in the world cup is a privilege and Rani must have heard from his elder brother Sami, who is a world champion with Germany about the feeling.

As the world cup gets closer, decisions need to be made and Khedira is only trying to be conscientious. It is understandable for a player who does not speak French or Arabic. There would be lots of communication ahead in the language that both sides understand. It is my fervent wish that he does the right thing.

Victor Osimhen takes stock of his journey in Wolfsburg

Victor Osimhen

It is almost a year since Nigeria’s Victor Osimhen arrived Wolfsburg, and based on his statements in a German paper, Wolfsburger Nachrichten, Osimhen still has big dreams.

Osimhen is satisfied with his personal development, like his adjustment to training and the coming winter. He witnessed his first winter last year fresh from Ultimate Strikers academy in Nigeria to Wolfsburg.”I know what to expect. To witness snow, in reality, was an unusual feeling.”

Taking a look back at his first days in Wolfsburg, he says”I was well received, especially from Joshua Guilavogui(team mate).I have never been to Europe for a long time and have had many wonderful experience over the past few months. I feel good here.”

The U-17 world cup top scorer, decided to play for Wolfsburg because he saw better chances to develop.”I am learning how football in Europe functions.” However, he is not totally satisfied,”I did not achieve all the goals i had set myself.”

Osimhen had wished for more appearances in the Bundesliga, one or two goals in the statistics in his first months. “Sometimes you plan something, but then it does not work out that way. I’ll keep going on with my work.”

Osimhen has to contend with strong competition from the likes of Divock Origi and captain Mario Gomez.He says, “I know my qualities and know how to help the team. But i’m in no hurry at all. I am patiently waiting for my chance. And when it comes, i want to grab it.”

Osimhen wants his chance as soon as possible because he dreams of the World cup with Nigeria. “If I improve, i could get a call.” He admits that he is in regular contact with the coach of the Super Eagles, Gernot Rohr.

He dreams of a great career, wants to make himself indispensable, and promises to fight on, “If i stop working hard, my dream will surely die. But if i give everything every day, I ‘ll go where i want to go. I want to make the people who believed in me proud “, he says.

Osimhen remains positive and believes hard work pays. Given the competition in Wolfsburg, his orientation is quite interesting. because it is easy to be negative and forceful with his goals, and in the process, it will derail his ambition. Osimhen has the right character as a professional to survive any obstacle that comes his way. And in the long run, it will eventually pay off.

Video assistant referee still a subject of controversy in the Bundesliga.

Video assistants

The video assistant referee(VAR) was introduced to mitigate the human factor in officiating during this Bundesliga season.However, it has been mired in controversy.

There was the premise that the video referees would bring justice to the game. In a sport, where much is at stake, it is important for technology to assist the human limitation in officiating, some argued.The video assistant referees operating from Cologne would aid the officiating referee on the pitch.

Unfortunately, there have been some hiccups in the implementation. The officiating has not gotten better but worse according to some.

Dennis Aogo, a Stuttgart player has called for the eradication of video evidence in games. He said in Zweierkette, a Podcast from Amazon “basically, I am of the opinion that we should scrap the video evidence and let the sport be. I buy the idea that the human factor is important and they could lead to a mistake.” Aogo added, “I can not live with the fact that despite the video assistants, faulty decisions are being made.”

The video assistant referees are expected to work in the background and give insight into strategic decisions but it has led to slow gameplay and rise in emotions. Recently in the game between Schalke and Bayern, the referee on the pitch did not find an infringement from Naldo as handball, but the video assistant informed the referee on the pitch that it was a penalty.

Another incident, where the intervention of the video assistant referee was uncalled for was in the game Stuttgart versus Freiburg on Sunday. Caglar Söyüncü of Freiburg was sent off the pitch after 12 minutes of play. His offense was handball and preventing a goal chance. The referee of the match, Tobias Stieler, gave the red card after he was informed by the VAR, Felix Zwayer, and he watched the video replay

The decisions of the referees on the pitch could be reviewed at any time during the game and it has brought insecurity on the pitch. The players and managers try to intimidate the officiating referee on the pitch.

It is not all negative report about the use of VAR in the Bundesliga. In the Rhein derby between Leverkusen versus Cologne, the referee Manuel Gräfe, disallowed the third goal of Leverkusen based on instructions from the VAR in charge, Günter Perl, because Leon Bailey scored the goal with the assistance of his hand.

The VAR played a decisive factor in the match Bayern versus Leipzig in Munich, where Willi Orban of Leipzig committed a professional foul against Arjen Robben in the early minutes of the game.

Bibiana Steinhaus, the first female referee in the Bundesliga, said in Sportbild,”even though I act on the field like there is no video referee, I feel secure in the knowledge that a colleague uses lots of TV angles to review my decision.” She believes its an advantage for football.

It will take some time before the video evidence becomes commonplace. However, it is not a guarantee against wrong calls as it was envisaged. Because despite the tools in possession of a VAR, his/her judgment sometimes is subjective and mixed with a cocktail of time constraints and pressure to act.

Therefore, one should expect to see some heated debates between innovators about the usefulness of using a VAR in matches, and purists who want the beautiful game to remain as it is without technology playing a decisive role.

It does not matter the camp that you belong. One thing is clear-justice in football should not be elusive.

Wolfsburg interested in turning Marcel Tisserand’s loan deal permanent.

Marcel Tisserand

Marcel Tisserand was signed as a temporary solution for the injured John Anthony Brooks. According to Kicker, there are indications that Wolfsburg is interested to make the loan move of Tisserand permanent.

Tisserand has played five matches for Wolfsburg so far, and the Sports director of Wolfsburg, Olaf Rebbe, said, “Marcel has performed very well.We have decided for him because he has a persona of performance and development capabilities in him. It means we are not interested to do away with him.” It is a statement of faith in Tisserand from Wolfsburg.

Brooks is back in training but it will take time for him to break the pecking order. in the interim, the combination of Tisserand and Felix Uduokhai as center-backs have been a consistent feature of Wolfsburg this season.

With the latest signals from Wolfsburg, Tisserand has achieved his dream of playing in the Bundesliga. It is a testimony to the adage that hard work pays.

Bundesliga players and a coach join the common goal initiative.

Common goal

Footballers are known for their flashy lifestyle. They live a life of luxury but many lack meaning in their lives. Enter Juan Mata, the Manchester United player, who pledged on social media, that he would donate one percent of his salary to high-impact football charities around the world, as part of the common goal initiative. Mata’s gesture has resonated with many players and a coach in the Bundesliga.

Mats Hummels of Bayern Munich was the first Bundesliga player to commit to the common goal initiative. Hummels said in the common goal initiative website, ” I have a feeling that we can do more with the increasing earnings in football connected to a deeper meaning. This is a chance for football to better the world and i want to be part of it.”

The next Bundesliga player to join is Serge Gnabry of Hoffenheim, who said in Kicker, “I have thought about the topic for a long time. My father comes from Africa, whoever has experienced at close range the problems, knows how necessary help is needed.” Gnabry has not forgotten his African roots.

Dennis Aogo of Stuttgart, joined the initiative with a mission to donate more than one percent. In fact, he is donating two percent of his salary. Aogo: “I’ve been looking for a way to feel purposeful and effective for some time now and Common Goal meets all of these criteria. Above all, the collective approach is what inspires me.”

Another important figure to join the common goal initiative is Hoffenheim’s dynamic coach, Julian Nagelsmann, who is destined for great things.

There is so much money circulating in football and it is quite impressive and worthwhile for players to give back to causes they find interesting. Come to think of it ,one percent might be infinitesimal to some, but it goes a long way in assisting in projects, leading to common goals and ideas.

Victor Osimhen impresses Wolfsburg coach

Victor Osimhen

The long wait for Victor osimhen to make his debut this season is over. Wolfsburg played at home against Mainz and Osimhen came in the 84th minute for Divock Origi.

The coach of Wolfsburg, Martin Schmidt, decided to feature Osimhen in the match because of his dedication and abilities in training. Schmidt espoused Osimhen’s skills in Wolfsburger Allgemeine, ” it was a decision for Victor. He trained very well and scored the most goals. He is the most effective runner and i wanted to reward him.”

It appears that Schmidt is now a fan of Osimhen. The 18 year old Nigerian is still learning the ropes but Osimhen has been able to break the pecking order in Mario Gomez’s absence. Landry Dimata who is contending for the position did not make it to the bench against Mainz.

It is still unknown, if Osimhen will play in Wolfsburg’s next match against Bayer Leverkusen. Because the injured Mario Gomez could make his comeback in the match.

If Osimhen is injury free and continues to work hard with dedication, he will definitely see his dreams come to fruition in the Bundesliga.

Naby Keita is a fashionista!

Naby Keita

Naby Keita is currently facing a three match ban from Bundesliga matches after a rough tackle on Christopher Krammer of Borussia Mönchengladbach two weeks ago. However, the ban did not stop him from watching RB Leipzig play.

The Liverpool bound player came to the stadium against Eintracht Frankfurt in style. Sportbild reported that he was the center of attention.

It is estimated that the clothes costs €2880. Ranging from Breuninger to Louis Vuitton.

Leipzig will be playing Cologne during the weekend, and do not be surprised, if Keita, comes to the stadium with another eye-catcher.

Victor Osimhen still waiting for his chance at VFL Wolfsburg

Victor Osimhen

When Victor Osimhen signed for Wolfsburg earlier this year, it was based on a commitment to gradually integrate in to the team. Despite his huge talent , Osimhen is yet to see action.

The reason for his inability to wear the wonderful colors of Wolfsburg is based on one factor alone-lack of chance.

Wolfsburg has seen officials sacked faster then the speed of light. Valerien Ismael, who was the coach when Osimhen was signed last season, is no longer there. Andries Jonker, who barely saved Wolfsburg from relegation last season was recently fired. The sports director who gave the green light for Osimhen to sign for Wolfsburg, Klaus Allofs was sacked. Martin Schmidt is the new coach in Wolfsburg.

Given the changes that Wolfsburg have experienced in 9 months, it is difficult for Osimhen to convert the confidence garnered through months of training and discipline to any successful conclusion. Because he had to start all over again with a new coach. Osimhen made it to the bench for three matches so far this season.

Recently, Mario Gomez of Wolfsburg was injured and out for at least a month. His position became available. However, the following players, including Osimhen, were contesting for the position. They are Landry Dimata, Paul-Geroges Ntep and Kaylen Hinds.

Despite the circumstances, Osimhen has taken it in stride and hopes for a better day. Who knows, if he finally get his chance to play for Wolfsburg, may be he could soar like a super eagle.

Daniel Opare discovers his form in Augsburg

Daniel Opare
Photo:Ulrich Wagner

I wrote about Daniel Opare during the pre-season. Well, his fortunes have changed for the better in FC Augsburg.

Last Saturday, Opare played his first match in a competitive tournament since May 2016 for Augsburg. And they beat Cologne 3-0.

During the pre-season and at the beginning of the 2017/2018 season Bundesliga, Opare was already written off as a player who failed to integrate in Augsburg. He had problems with his favorite position that was held by the captain of the team, Paul Verhaegh.

His circumstances changed when Paul Verhaegh left Augsburg for Wolfsburg, and in the match against Cologne, Raphael Framberger, could not play because he had a knee problem.Suddenly Opare became the only available choice against Cologne.

Opare grabbed the chance and in the match against Cologne, he was attentive in duels and reduced his mistakes to the minimum. The sports director, Stefan Reuter described his development ” he has worked on himself to reduce his carelessness, and risky action in defense. He left a good impression from the first day of training and he is very positive person.”

After waiting on the sidelines for so long, Opare has finally arrived in Augsburg.

The latest trends in the Bundesliga

The transfer window closed last week in the Bundesliga, and there are some noticeable changes in the way clubs react in the market for players. Football as we know it today is big business and the Neymar effect is palpable in the transfers. Many clubs are trying to stay afloat by taking proactive measures in hiring new players and selling old players for profit. A t the end of the day, the clubs, agents and players are all business people.

According to the estimates calculated by German news agency(DPA) from the transfer window, German clubs spent a total of 570 Million Euro for 130 players, which is an increase from last year that was placed at 512,59 million Euro. The amount here, does not reflect the fees from leased players. Furthermore the clubs earned some good money from selling players, like the 105 million Euro earned by Dortmund from the sale of Ousmane Dembele. A total of 485 million Euro was earned during the transfer deals made by Bundesliga clubs excluding bonuses.

It has become expensive for clubs facing a cash crunch to acquire new players. Because clubs with lots of cash are enticing players with numerous offers despite the UEFA’s policy of financial fair play(FFP). To ameliorate the problem, many Bundesliga clubs are now hiring players by leasing, and a buy option.

Take the case of Bayern Munich. Bayern spent 41,5 Million Euro for the French man Corentin Tolisso He is the most expensive Bayern player so far. They also have James Rodriguez from Real Madrid. Bayern could have paid more for Rodriguez but opted for leasing him from Madrid.

Werder Bremen signed Algeria’s Ishak Belfodil at the last minute before the transfer window closed. Bremen opted for leasing to reduce cost. Bremen will pay Standard Lütttich, ome million Euro for a year with option to buy for 10 million Euro.

The examples above are just a tip of the iceberg. Leasing with option to buy has become the new normal. The value of a player becomes directly proportional to his efforts. And in cases where the chemistry between the player and club is conducive, the buy option is the only way out of the contract. It helps clubs to mitigate the cost and reduce the risks of buying players outright who might not be the best in the long run.

Although some clubs regard FFP as a paper tiger, many players are not honoring contracts anymore. Ousmane Dembele comes to mind. He forced his way out of Dortmund. Dembele’s exit created so much drama.

RB Leipzig has come up with a novel idea to avoid tension with Naby Keita who wants to leave the club as soon as possible. They announced an amicable deal with FC Liverpool on time to erase all doubts for parties involved upfront. Already, the FC Liverpool are paying some amount of money to Leipzig. The main transfer money which is approximately 55 Million Euro would be paid in 2018. Now, Keita can concentrate on leaving Leipzig on a high, and improving the lot of RB Leipzig.

There was a time when Brazilian players like Lucio, Ze Roberto, Marcelinho, Elber, Dunga or Dede were houshold names in the Bundesliga. In fact Bayer Leverkusen had a special scouting department for Brazilian players. The era when Brazil used to be the destination of Bundesliga clubs for recruitment of players is gone with the wind.

Enter France as the new attractive destination of Bundesliga clubs. The French players are regarded as physically robust, and tactically well trained. Also, the players are affordable.The list of players from France contain budding stars like Abdou Diallo, Corentin Tolisso,Ibrahima konate, Dan-Axel Zagadou, Amine Harit or Sebastien Haller etc. They all have one thing in common-hunger for success.

The commercialization of football is on the rise, and who knows, maybe the famous 50+1 rule could be a thing of the past in the Bundesliga soon. The playing times have been revised to make the league attractive for television viewers world wide. The present discord between die-hard fans and managers of the game is not an intractable problem.

However, modernization in the name of commerce must not override the attractiveness, passion and success of the beautiful game in the Bundesliga.