The Heir Apparent; Reinventing The Makélélé Role, The Nutritive N’Golo Kanté

Kante(The Engine Of The Fearless Foxes)
The Engine Of The Fearless Foxes | N’Golo Kante
ClaudeMaklele(Legendary Boots To Fiil)
Legendary Boots To Fill | Claude Makelele

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For many football purists, it’s not uncommon to have one player redefine the way we look at an individual role and the value it adds to the overall team game; one such player, who changed the way we viewed defensive midfielders was a bite-sized French destroyer of African origin named Claude Makalele. The legendary holding midfielder has forever revolutionised the way many look at defensive minded players today; while the rise to prominence of the Regista {the Deep-Lying Playmaker} can be largely attributed to a legend named Andrea Pirlo, an effective holding midfield player will always be judged by the Makélélé standard when playing in the Makélélé Role.

Not the most technically gifted or the most physically imposing, yet Claude was blessed with great anticipation and ox-like strength in the tackle; when one combines such good defensive attributes with the mindset to play as a foil for the defence and remain composed while under pressure, you have the quintessential midfield enforcer that needn’t be a hard-man that picks up unnecessary cautions due to an over aggressive nature or poor positional sense.

Whether a team plays purist attacking football or looks to absorb pressure and hit the opposition on the break, in this modern age of high-pressing and less possession dominated football, every team has the need for an able defensive midfielder that breaks up play efficiently and offers a reliable shield for the defensive line. While some gaffers will nitpick attributes like passing ability and overall offensive output when assessing defensive midfield players, there remains no substitute for a defensive midfield general that knows the art of defending and is well versed in the Makélélé art of holding one’s position and affording the more technically gifted players an optimal opportunity to be effective in attack.

The comparisons between the two players are to be taken with a pinch of salt, when one considers the advancements in the game and the expectations placed on holding midfield players in more 3-man midfields that offer less space and demand more defensive organisation and ball-winning capabilities; yet Kanté remains one of the finest proponents of how successful a good team becomes when they have a dedicated midfielder that seeks to win the ball off the opposition and afford his teammates an opportunity to create more attacking chances for themselves.

Makélélé

Claude Makalele begun his professional career at FC Nantes after joining them from Brest as an 18 year old in 1991, the same year Kanté was born; Claude went on to win a league title and register a Champions League semi-final appearance in his 5 year stint at the club, as the more illustrious Olympique de Marseille came in for the tenacious midfielder who was showing great promise while being deployed in a myriad of midfield positions. His stay at Marseille lasted just one season, before Claude was packing his bags for Spain; 2 successful seasons at Celta Vigo saw Makélélé develop into one of the most effective holding midfield players in world football after spending some time playing further up field and out wide. The bite sized bundle of energy had reinvented himself as a premier holding midfield player that had the maturity to do his job effectively in a successful side.

Such great form saw Claude sign for the most illustrious football club in the world, and he quickly established himself as one of the most irreplaceable Galaticos, if not the most undervalued one. 3 trophy laden seasons at Real came to an unceremonious end as his request for wages befitting his importance was rebuffed by the chairman. Claude was snapped up by Claudio Ranieri for the ambitious Chelsea side in 2003 and he helped form the backbone for the squad that José Mourinho enjoyed great success with. The Blues established themselves as a powerhouse club off the back of impressive performances inspired by a midfield anchored by the immovable Makélélé, a man that changed how British football viewed defensive midfield players to this day.  6 trophies in 5 seasons at Stamford Bridge, and the honour of having a position named after him, when some lads are fortunate to earn testimonial matches, are a testament to the immeasurable value Claude added to any team he played for. The great man retired at PSG, where he managed to win his final trophy in the city where he spent his childhood.

Kanté

A proud product of the US Boulogne youth academy, the same club that gave Franck Ribéry his professional break, N’Golo Kanté turned pro in 2012 as he made his debut in a 2-1 home loss to AS Monaco as a 21 year old prospect. The Paris born midfielder broke into the 1st team setup during the 2012-13 season, where his stellar performances and all-action game led to him being noticed by ambitious Ligue 2 side Stade Malherbe de Caen.

An impressive debut season with Caen saw the team finish 3rd and earn promotion to Ligue 1; Kanté continued his impressive development in the French top flight during his second season at the club, dominant displays saw his star rise as comparisons to the legendary Makélélé begun to surface. Interest in the now established midfield enforcer was high during the off-season, and the defensive midfielder deficient Arsenal were just one of the many clubs linked with a young man that seemed destined to shine at the highest level. His current club, Leicester City had been linked to the diminutive enforcer even before Claudio Ranieri penned on the dotted line on July 13th of 2015; to the shock of many pundits and fans alike, The Foxes spent a considerable £5.6m to beat off all competition from Southampton, Newcastle United, West Ham United and Olympique de Marseille in early August of 2015 to acquire the signing of a player that has already repaid a large portion of his transfer fee with scintillating displays in midfield for the surprise table toppers this season.

Although many have noted how unique N’Golo Kanté is in comparison to his predecessor; Claude was a designated holding midfielder who rarely moved from his station and closed down opposition attackers once they entered his defensive 3rd of the field before disarming dangerous attacking moves, while Kante is the modern age version of what Claude was, a talented lad who uses his great defensive attributes and outstanding levels of athleticism to press opposition players higher up the field and win the ball back in positions where his fellow teammates can launch potent counter-attacks when the opposition is destabilised defensively. If one had any fears of the defensive midfielder role becoming obsolete as football evolves, N’Golo Kanté is a glimmer of hope for all who marvelled at the brilliance and unselfish nature of Claude Makélélé and the generations of anchormen he has inspired to go on and star in the Makélélé Role.

Claude Makélélé

Full Name: Claude Makélélé Sinda

DoB; February 18th, 1973 (42)

PoB: Kinshasa, Zaire (Now Democratic Republic of the Congo)

Height: 1.70m

Positions: Anchorman, Defensive Midfielder, Ball-Winning Midfielder, Deep-Lying Playmaker

Preferred Foot: Right

Professional Career Span: 1991 – 2011

Previous Clubs: FC Nantes (91-97), Marseille (97-98), Celta Vigo (98-’00), Real Madrid (’00-’03), Chelsea (’03-’08), Paris Saint-Germain (’08-’11)

Youth Development nests: US Melun (89-90), Stade Brestois (90-91)

Career Club Record: 573 Games, 10 Goals, 13 Assists, 101 Yellow Cards, 2 Double Yellow/Red Cards

Career Club Honours: Ligue 1, Nantes (94-95); La Liga, Real Madrid (00-01 & 02-03); Supercopa de España, Real Madrid (2001 & 2003); UEFA Champions League, Real Madrid (01-02); UEFA Super Cup, Real Madrid (2002); Intercontinental Cup, Real Madrid (2002); English Premier League, Chelsea (04-05 & 05-06); League Cup, Chelsea (04-05 & 06-07); English Community Shield, Chelsea (05); English FA Cup, Chelsea (06-07); Coupe de  France, Paris Saint-Germain (09-2010)

International Career

Record: 72 Caps, 2 Assists, 7 Yellow Cards, 1 Double Yellow/ Red Card

Honours: FIFA World Cup Runner-Up (2006)

Personal Accolades: 2005 FIFPro World XI, UNFPT Trophée d’honner (2010)

N’Golo Kanté

Bio

DoB: March 29th, 1991 (24)

PoB: Paris, France

Nationalities: French, Malian

Caps & Goals: N/A

Position/s: Anchorman, Defensive Midfielder, Ball-Winning Midfielder, Box-To-Box Midfielder

Height: 1.69m

Preferred Foot: Right

Club: Leicester City FC

Club Jersey No: #14

Contract Expiry: June 30th, 2019

Previous Clubs: US Boulogne (July ’12 – July – ’13), SM Caen (July ’13 – August ’15)

Development Academies: JS Suresnes, US Boulogne

Career Club Record: 102 Games, 7 Goals, 11 Assists, 11 Yellow Cards, 1 Double Yellow/ Red Card

Half-Time Orange For Thought; Olivier Giroud, Overly Criticised & Grossly Underrated

olivier-giroud(Grenoble)
Back In The days | Olivier Giroud @ Grenoble Foot 38
Olivier Giroud says Arsenal have the players and team spirit to be serious contenders next season.
A Genuine Top Gun | Olivier Giroud @ Arsenal

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Dissected with the attention to detail of a legendary Masterchef 2nd season casting outcast , your good mate Uncle Bob serves up his weekly Half-Time Orange For Thought; a mental morsel for the sports fanatic with a healthy appetite for wholesome consumables. We at GSV have reluctantly declared ourselves accountable for any digestion difficulties that may or may not occur. Enjoy!

In the modern age of football, where stars are born overnight and legends are made in moments, late bloomers tend to get less respect and acknowledgement than those that came before them. There are different factors that lead to a footballer only rising to prominence at an age where many of their peers have long been playing professionally at an elite level since their late teens, yet one ought to credit the game’s late bloomers for the desire and drive they show to ensure that their talents do not go unnoticed at the elite level; from the Teko Modise’s to the Jamie Vardy’s of this world, we have seen many a good player enter the elite divisions a mature footballer with good levels of ability and an insatiable desire to develop further and prove their worthiness for the big time.

Olivier Giroud is not a man that was highly touted for greatness at a young age, the bustling yet technically gifted forward is one of those players that would have been lost in football obscurity if it were not for his determination to fulfil his potential as a man who can contribute positively to a good football team at the highest level. Arsène Wenger is known to admire good footballers that have been overlooked, undervalued or misused by their previous employers; it is his keen eye for raw talent that allows him to nurture talent effectively and create elite level performers out of players that some had deemed surplus to requirement or inferior to the elite level standards that premier level players are held to.

For all the flack Ollie and Wenger have caught over the years, one begins to see the merits behind signing and persisting with Giroud, even when everybody and their barber has been calling for a more able and higher grade replacement for the towering French forward; the man adds a dimension to the current Arsenal side that money cannot quantify, he is a competent link-up man that offers the team an attacking out ball while possessing the ability to hold the ball up and bring his more gifted midfielders into play more effectively. While the lad is guilty of the Karim Benzema syndrome, needing at least 5 chances to bag one goal, Giroud is always bound to score his fare share of goals thanks to the quality supply he tends to receive on a weekly basis, injury permitting that is…

If we went according to the news stories and the Twitter feeds, one would rank Olivier Giroud amongst the worst strikers to ever don the red & white of the Gooners; yet the man picks up some undue stick from all quarters and it has taken some time for him to prove that he is by far one of the better strikers to have played for Arsenal in the modern era and his recent landmark of 50 Premier League goals for the Gunners has done much to alleviate the misappropriated pressure placed upon him by fans and the media. Olivier Giroud is the 3rd fastest player to reach 50 Premier League goals for Arsenal, behind former club record goalscorer Ian Wright and the man that shattered his record, Thierry Henry. By that merit alone, Ollie deserves a fair degree of respect for what he has accomplished; considering the quality and ambition levels of the teams Wright & Titi played in, one wouldn’t be remiss to think that Giroud deserves to be mentioned alongside some of the most successful Gooner forwards of the modern era. Ian Wright reached the half-century mark in 87 games while Henry raced to his 50 in just 83 appearances, Olivier became only the 7th Arsenal player in history to score 50 Premier League goals when he bagged his 50th in his 113th league game for the club.

While I hold the belief that one cannot accurately compare players that played in different eras, due to the advancements in the game and the 20/20 nature of hindsight; yet Olivier’s record holds up against some of the best forwards to have ever lead the line in an Arsène Wenger side, Ollie is just above Dennis Bergkamp, who complimented his endless assists with 50 Premier League goals in 114 league games. The Chambéry born striker has also affirmed his credentials by beating out the man he was untimely bought to replace, his injury plagued predecessor Robin van Persie reached his Premier League half-century in a sporadic 142 games that also included shifts out wide in midfield at the start of his career. The only other current Arsenal player with a comparable record is Striker-In-Progress, Theo Walcott, a competent finisher who also recently notched his 50th Premier League goal in his 208th league appearance for the club he joined as a fresh-faced teenager.

Career Milestones

Ollie begun his professional career at French Ligue 2 side Grenoble Foot 38 after impressing in the youth ranks and showing some promise in the reserves, Giroud was gradually transitioned into the 1st team over a period of months. His breakthrough season as a young professional came while out on loan to FC Istres in the Championnat National, French 3rd Division, during the 07-08 season where a handy return of 14 goals saw FC Tours come knocking for a player who was deemed surplus to requirements at his parent club, after returning from his relatively successful loan spell.

FC Tours were an ambitious Ligue 2 side that allowed Ollie to continue his development and begin to show more consistent glimpses of his true potential; a promising 1st season was followed up by an outstanding second campaign as the striker netted 21 goals and ended the season as the division’s top goalscorer. Ollie’s great form had not gone unnoticed at the elite level as ambitious Ligue 1 side Montpellier calling in January of 2010, a deal was agreed with FC Tours and Giroud spent the remainder of the 09-2010 season on loan at FC Tours, as he stormed to the Golden Boot award, his FC Tours career ended with an overall record 36 goals in two seasons.

The move to Montpellier seemed like a match made in heaven; Olivier joined a football club with great potential and a roster of players that could challenge for silverware under the right guidance, the striker continued his great rise to prominence as he finished his debut campaign in the French top flight as Montpellier’s top marksman with 18 goals. The follow-up season was the stuff of dreams for both club and player, Montpellier stormed to the Ligue 1 title, the 1st in the clubs history, off the back of Giroud’s highly impressive performances upfront. Ollie again saw his return of 21 goals earn him a Golden Boot award and more significantly, he broke into the French national team setup at 25 with no previous national team pedigree to speak of. Making his Les Blues debut as a substitute against the United States of America in November of 2011, Giroud continued his emergence as an elite level forward by going on to score his 1st international goal against Germany in a 2-1 win for France on February 29th, 2012.

When Arsenal signed the French international on June 26th, 2012, many looked sceptically upon the deal for a man who didn’t have the reputation or pedigree they would have liked; along with Lukas Podolski, Giroud was signed as a long-term replacement for RvP, who was known to be departing for pastures anew. The scepticism surrounding his arrival unfortunately seems to have clouded any opinions certain quarters of the media would have regarding his suitability for Arsenal and the Premier League, the man has effectively fulfilled the duty he was bought for and his return of goals and his overall contribution to the team actually makes a mockery of his price tag in comparison to the other “more suitable” strikers in the game.

Comparable Numbers

Flopped Wenger Centre Forwards

Name Record
Christopher Wreh 3 Goals in 32 Games | 4 Years
Kaba Diawara 0 Goals in 15 Games | 1 Year
Jérémie Aliadiére 5 Goals, 1 Assist in 45 Games | 6 Years
Francis Jeffers 4 Goals in 22 Games | 3 Years
Nicklas Bendtner 47 Goals, 22 Assists in 171 Games | 9 Years
Marouane Chamakh 14 Goals, 10 Assists in 67 Games | 3 Years
Chu-Young Park 1 Goal in 7 Games | 3 Years

 

Successful Wenger Centre Forwards

Name Record
Ian Wright 108 Goals in 201 Games | 7 Years {2 Under Wenger}
Dennis Bergkamp 102 Goals, 28 Assists in 385 Games | 11 Years {10 Under Wenger}
Nicholas Anelka 25 Goals in 75 Games | 2 Years
Nwankwo Kanu 37 Goals, 7 Assists in 182 Games | 5 Years
Thierry Henry 226 Goals, 60 Assists in 368 Games | 8 Years
Robin van Persie 131 Goals, 57 Assists in 274 Games | 8 Years
Emmanuel Adebayor 62 Goals, 22 Assists in 142 Games | 3 Years
Olivier Giroud 72 Goals, 28 Assists in 158 Games | 3 Years

 

Bio

DoB: September 30th, 1986 (29)

PoB: Chambéry, Rhône-Alpes; France

Nationality: French

National Team Record: 45 Caps, 13 Goals, 6 Assists

Position/s: Deep-Lying Forward, Advanced Forward, Complete Forward, Target-Man

Height: 1. 92m

Preferred Foot: Left

Club: Arsenal FC

Club Jersey No: #12

Contract Expiry: June 30th, 2018

Market Value: £20m

Development Nests: Froges OC {92-99}, Grenoble Foot 28 {99-05}

Previous Clubs: Grenoble Foot 38 {08-08}, FC Istres (Loan) {07-08}, FC Tours {08-‘10}, Montpellier {’10-‘12}, FC Tours (Loan) {‘10}

 

Career Club Record

 

Club Spell Record
Grenoble Foot 38 July ’05 – September ‘08 2 Goals in 23 Games
FC Istres July ’07 – June ‘08 14 Goals in 34 Games
FC Tours September ’08 – July ‘10 36 Goals, 9 Assists in 67 Games
Montpellier July ’10 – July ‘12 39 Goals, 17 Assists in 85 Games
Arsenal July ’12 – 72 Goals, 28 Assists in 158 Games
Totals 163 Goals, 54 Assists in 367 Games

 

Record By Division

 

League Record
English Premier League 50 Goals, 17 Assists in 113 Games
Ligue 1 33 Goals, 17 Assists in 73 Games
Ligue 2 32 Goals, 9 Assists in 84 Games
Championnat National 14 Goals in 34 Games
Totals 123 Goals, 43 Assists in 304 Games

 

GSV Game Day Guide; Champions League (December 9th)

UEFACl2015,16

Group E

Bayern Leverkusen (3rd) vs FC Barcelona (1st)

Venue: BayArena, Leverkusen; Germany

Match Referee: Mark Clattenburg (English)

Time: 21h45

Form Guide (Last 5 CL Games)

Bayern 04 – W (BATE, 4 – 1); L (Barça, 2 – 1); D (Roma, 4 – 4); L (Roma, 3 – 2); D (BATE, 1 – 1)

Barça – D (Roma, 1 – 1); W (Bayern 04, 2 – 1); W (BATE, 0 – 2); W (BATE, 3 – 0); W (Roma, 6 – 1)

GSV Prediction: 2 – 1 (Bayern 04)

AS Roma (2nd) vs BATE Borisov (4th)

Venue: Stadio Olimpico, Rome; Italy

Match Referee: Martin Atkinson (English)

Time: 21h45

Form Guide (Last 5 CL Games)

Roma – D (Barça, 1 – 1); L (BATE, 3 – 2); D (Bayern 04, 4 – 4); W (Bayern 04, 3 – 2); L (Barça, 6 – 1)

BATE – L (Bayern 04, 4 – 1); W (Roma, 3 – 2); L (Barça, 0 – 2); L (Barça, 3 – 0); D (Bayern 04, 1 – 1)

GSV Prediction: 2 – 3 (BATE)

Group F

NK Dinamo Zagreb (4th) vs FC Bayern Munich (1st)

Venue: Stadion Maksimir, Zagreb; Croatia

Match Official: Martin Stroembergsson (Swedish)

Time: 21h45

Form Guide (Last 5 CL Games)

Zagreb – W (Arsenal, 2 – 1); L (FC Bayern, 5 – 0); L (Olympiacos, 0 – 1); L (Olympiacos, 2 – 1); L (Arsenal, 3 – 0)

FC Bayern – W (Olympiacos, 0 – 3); W (Zagreb, 5 – 0); L (Arsenal, 2 – 0); W (Arsenal, 5 – 1); W (Olympiacos, 4 – 0)

GSV Prediction: 1 – 3 (FC Bayern)

Olympiacos (2nd) vs Arsenal (3rd)

Venue: Georgios Karaiskalis, Piraeus; Greece

Match Referee: Nicola Rizzoli (Italian)

Time: 21h45

Form Guide (Last 5 CL Games)

Olympiacos – L (FC Bayern, 0 – 3); W (Arsenal, 2 – 3); W (Zagreb, 0 – 1); W (Zagreb, 2 – 1); L (FC Bayern, 4 – 0)

Arsenal – L (Zagreb, 2 – 1); L (Olympiacos, 2 – 3); W (FC Bayern, 2 – 0); L (FC Bayern, 5 – 1); W (Zagreb, 3 – 0)

GSV Prediction: 1 – 4 (Arsenal)

Group G

Chelsea (1st) vs FC Porto (2nd)

Venue: Stamford Bridge, London; England

Match Referee: Cünyet Çakır (Turkish)

Time: 21h45

Form Guide (Last 5 CL Games)

Chelsea – W (Maccabi, 4 – 0); L (Porto, 2 – 1); D (Kyiv, 0 – 0); W (Kyiv, 2 – 1); W (Maccabi, 0 – 4)

Porto – D (Kyiv, 2 – 2); W (Chelsea, 2 – 1); W (Maccabi, 2 – 0); W (Maccabi, 1 – 3): L (Kyiv, 0 – 2)

GSV Prediction: 1 – 2 (FC Porto)

Dynamo Kyiv (3rd) vs Maccabi Tel-Aviv (4th)

Venue: NSK Olimpiyskyi, Kyiv; Ukraine

Match Referee: Björn Kuipers (Dutch)

Time: 21h45

Form Guide (Last 5 CL Games)

Kyiv – D (Porto, 2 – 2); W (Maccabi, 0 – 2); D (Chelsea, 0 – 0); L (Chelsea 2 – 1); W (Porto, 0 – 2)

Maccabi – L (Chelsea, 4 – 0); L (Kyiv, 0 – 2); L (Porto, 2 – 0); L (Porto, 1 – 3); L (Chelsea, 0 – 4)

GSV Prediction: 3 – 1 (Kyiv)

Group H

KAA Gent (2nd) vs Zenit St. Petersburg (1st)

Venue: KAA Gent Stadium, Ghent; Belgium

Match Referee: Manuel de Sousa (Portuguese)

Time: 21h45

Form Guide (Last 5 CL Games)

Gent – D (Lyon, 1 – 1); L (Zenit, 2 – 1); L (Valencia, 2 – 1); W (Valencia, 1 – 0); W (Lyon, 2 – 1)

Zenit – W (Valencia, 2 – 3); W (Gent, 2 – 1); W (Lyon, 3 – 1); W (Lyon 0 – 2); W (Valencia, 2 – 0)

GSV Prediction: 2 – 1 (KAA Gent)

Valencia CF (3rd) vs Olympique Lyonnais (4th)

Venue: Estadi de Mestalla, Valencia; Spain

Match Referee: Matej Jug (Slovenian)

Time: 21h45

Form Guide (Last 5 CL Games)

Valencia – L (Zenit, 2 – 3); W (Lyon, 0 – 1); W (Gent, 2 – 1); L (Gent, 1 – 0); L (Zenit, 2 – 0)

Lyon – D (Gent, 1 – 1); L (Valencia, 0 – 1); L (Zenit, 3 – 1); L (Zenit, 0 – 2); L (Gent, 1 – 2)

GSV Prediction: 4 – 1 (Valencia CF)