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Transfers & Champions League - Richard Keys
By Cadence Media
We are pleased to bring you an exclusive interview with one of our footballing Ambassadors, Richard Keys. Having had a 30 year broadcasting career in football, he is currently the lead football presenter for BeIN sports, the worlds largest sporting network with a market audience of over 150 million across 36 countries, so he is well positioned to provide some insight into the Transfer Window, the Champion’s league and much more.
Please note this interview was recorded on 24/01/18, before the window was shut.
Cadence Wealth (CW): So the transfer window is open at the moment and there have been a few big name moves, although not huge money yet, the noticeable one is obviously Sanchez, do you see the drawn out saga of which part of Manchester is he going to go to, do you see that putting more pressure on him than normal and how do you think that will translate to him as a player?
Richard Keys (RK): In short no I don’t, I don’t think that it puts anymore pressure on him than there was if he had decided to sign for Manchester City. At 29 he is an experienced campaigner, he has been around the block, he is a winner on the world stage, I mean the world stage with Chile. I don’t see him necessarily being under any kind of pressure that would affect him going forwards at all. In fact I think he is probably one of those that, a little like Cantona will go into the spotlight of Manchester United, were they wearing collars these days, he would be putting his up like Cantona did, to revel in the light that he sees himself in.
I said 18 months ago when he and Ozil were first being touted and it was first suggested that they wouldn’t sign new contracts, I would have done anything if I was Arsene Wenger to get Sanchez to sign and the one I wouldn’t have minded giving up would have been Ozil. Ironically it has gone the other way, he still has Ozil and Sanchez has moved to Manchester United but I think he will be really good news for Utd. I think Mourinho has probably accepted that the title has gone but the Champions League certainly has not and Sanchez might be, in his mind but be thinking that Sanchez is the difference between having a run for the Champions League and maybe winning it. I don’t think Sanchez is under pressure, I think he will revel in his new surroundings.
CW: Do you think he fits in better at Utd than he would have at City potentially?
RK: A lot of people are under the opinion that he will fit in better because he will play and he might not necessarily have done that at regularly at City and that may have been in his mind. I am being kind to him because I am certain that when he had to make the decision the only thing is his mind was who is paying the most?
It turns out that Man City weren’t prepared to pay the sort of money that Utd were. So, I think we will see more of him in a Utd jersey than we might have done at City. Whether or not long term he has made the right decision, in terms of what it is possible to win and he is a character that won’t finish counting money, he will count medals and decide whether he has been a success.
I think he would have won more short term with Man City but having said that if Mourinho is right and the Champions League is a real possibility this year then I’m quite sure he will say that he has made a very good move.
CW: So, you mentioned Ozil as well, you have seen Ozil being linked to a possible move to Man Utd at the moment as well, do you see that as a possibility or do you think he will re-sign with Arsenal now that the Sanchez saga is over now?
RK: I think if Sanchez had gone to City there was a real possibility, not in this window, I don’t think Mourinho would have moved as swiftly as he did and with such tenacity, but I think there was a real possibility that Ozil could have. I don’t think it was nailed on to the degree that others were suggesting. I think He could have found his way to Manchester Utd this summer, now I think Arsenal are more prepared to meet his demands than they were for him and Sanchez. There is money in the system now that if they want to keep Ozil, they can.
I don’t see Ozil going to Man Utd, I don’t see him going to Man City, I can’t believe that Chelsea would be an option. I think they are limited in that respect. Bayern Munich, I don’t think so. Everyone throws Paris Saint-Germain in, Real Madrid no.
I think Ozil’s best option now is to do a new deal with Arsenal.
CM: Perhaps in the last months do you think he has become more valuable than Sanchez to Arsenal?
RK: You hear all kinds of things about Sanchez, that he has been a destabilising influence, prima donna is a description I have heard as well. Since last summer he has been really difficult to be around, pushed every club around raw to the limit. You could say that on one hand it is daft but a player goes to work, puts his shirt on and dresses correctly, he would walk in with his off, take social media pictures and post to taunt Wenger and those who make the rules at Arsenal but I think what you cant accuse him of is not producing, he is more often than not he has delivered for Arsenal.
I think he has delivered more in the first part of the season than Ozil truth be told. But we are led to believe that he has had that destabilising influence on the dressing room. The match recently when Jack Wilshire pulled him during the game to tell him he wasn’t putting enough in.
I like the little fella, I think he has made a good move, it is a club he has genuinely always supported. I think he has fulfilled an ambition of turning up there.
It’s up to Ozil now to stamp his authority and to boss games more than he has done. He will flit in and out of matches and win them with a stroke of genius but boss them now more than he ever has done and make sure that Sanchez isn’t missed that much and if Arsenal can land Aubameyang and you do get Jonny Evans from West Brom, which is another one that they are talking about, then I think that they have had a pretty good window. Because Mkhitaryan is a very very good player, make no mistake.
CW: I don’t want to focus too much on Arsenal but it is interesting when you talk through that [Aubameyang], when you are talking through the destructive influence of Sanchez, do you see that potential transfer while it being a headline grabber, a shirt selling type investment do you see that potentially to be another destabilising destructive changing room influence?
RK: I ask that question myself, how much of a naughty boy is he? Or how much of a naughty boy is he being in order to get what he wants?
I think his only destination if he is leaving Dortmund, well there are two, and that again requires a change of events if Real Madrid focus on Lewandowski then Aubameyang would be an ideal replacement.
What Bayern tend to do in Germany is buy Dortmund’s best players to make sure they win the title each year and Dortmund don’t. All that Dortmund did was extreme irritation, so that has tended to be their policy. If Aubameyang is not staying in Germany lets run the clubs that he might join – Man U no chance, City absolutely not, Tottenham don’t need him with Kane there, Chelsea can’t see it as they are looking for something entirely different. Then Liverpool no, you are left with Arsenal, so I think he has identified this as his best opportunity. £50m I think he is good money, if he is a handful and Arsenal bring him to London with that knowledge, it’s a gamble because he will thoroughly enjoy London, if he isn’t a naughty boy and he is just trying to force the move right now then I think Arsenal will get themselves a really really good player, in the is market for extremely good money
CW: Even with his stated long term ambition to be at Real Madrid as well.
RK: I think so, I would have thought that every footballer playing Premier League or anyone playing in La Liga , I would have thought that everyone’s ambition is to play for Real Madrid, but whether Real Madrid are able to deliver that dream is an entirely different thing.
If the choice happened between Lewandowski and Aubameyang right now, I’m pretty sure I know which way Real Madrid would go and if Real Madrid are looking to sign for the future then Harry Kane has to be on there radar, Hazard has to be on their radar, I don’t think Aubameyang is. Again, I think if Arsenal are prepared to see this deal through, I think right now it is an extremely attractive opportunity.
CW: OK great. The other dominating story I guess has been Chelsea’s striker woes and picking the biggest, oldest centre forward they can find, do you think they need a striker? Do you think its needed and will they push one through this window?
RK: Well I’m not quite sure what they are trying to achieve. I can’t believe that anyone was serious about Peter Crouch, Peter lives in Cobham where Chelsea’s training ground is and I can only think that his management team thought of that as being an attractive idea for Chelsea. I just can not see that.
They did want Llorente but he ended up at Spurs, but I think he is a different kind of big man. As Brendan Rogers would say, a technical big man. He isn’t a blunderbuss, so I can see that but that is too late. If they get Dzeko, they are probably getting the best of both worlds. He’s a half way house, he’s a premier league commodity, he knows all about the product, he has been a success in Italy, I don’t know what they are looking to try to achieve in the pursuit in this big centre forward, they already have one and Morata has had a tremendous effect on them. In Hazard I think they have got as good as there is in the premier league so I am really not sure what Conte is trying to achieve.
Again, if you run his time with Chelsea to an absolute maximum, people are under the impression he is going in June so the successor may or may not want what he is buying and I think Chelsea are hesitating and I think that is why they get someone on Loan, rather than committing £40/50m that they really don’t want to spend at this time.
For his part Conte is probably thinking well I won the title this time last year, I would like to leave with a trophy in this league cup but that has gone now. Like all these teams in the champ league, is that what he is concentrating on this year? The continentals see that as a far greater prize than the league so maybe that’s on his mind.
CW: Do you think the issue is Chelsea missing so many chances is the catalyst for this?
RK: Well they are and they are not. I don’t think they have scored dramatically less goals than anyone else around and about. There has been a couple of goalless draws recently but that is going to happen in a season.
They got 4 at Brighton, 4 brilliant goals. Yes they were frustrated by Arsenal, but there is no guarantee at all that a big lump playing up front is going to make any difference on your goal scoring total. I don’t think they are set up for that. They were talking about gorgeous football and the second goal at Brighton was the best I had seen this year, a beauty. That has to everything to do with Hazard and William, these aren’t big players, they are good players. I just don’t think it is about getting a big man forward for that reason. I am sure I am not alone at being puzzled as to what he is thinking, I really don’t know.
CW: Even with your Wembley record, you won’t be expecting any calls from South West London just yet?
RK: I actually did make the suggestion when they are seriously thinking of signing Peter Crouch and I had a better idea and said I don’t know why they don’t sign Andy Gray? There isn’t too much of an age difference between them and I know which one I would prefer to have in my team. You might as well have signed Andy than going out and talking about Peter Crouch, as I said I am completely baffled, other than Crouch’s management company floating it and trying to force it through.
CW: Early season, on social media you made a call that Everton would finish above Liverpool this season, obviously Big Sam’s arrival at Goodison Park has been again, as you predicted pretty positive. What do you think of his movement so far and the transfer market in this window?
RK: I think it is too early to say, I might be hedging my bets a little bit because I think Tosun has had to date two ordinary matches, mind you he would have been superman had he landed at Goodison and scoring from the very moment we saw him. It takes adjusting to, the pace he will find completely different.
CW: Good potential I have heard…
RK: When he fulfils his potential he will be a very good player! One for one they got Lennon out, asking me which one I would prefer I would take Walcott over Lennon any day of the week, he is an England International, he has a goal in him.
The one thing that Sam identified when he first went in was there are not enough goals in the team. He bought 2 players that shouldn’t score goals. He said he can’t play Sigurdsson and Rooney in the same team, its one or the other, so one or the other should score goals.
They have Bolasie back now, nothing like the form he showed before he got injured but he will get there, he is a real box of tricks. He doesn’t know what he is doing next so no one else in the Everton team will know, certainly not the opposition do but there is a goal or two in him.
You can see what Sam is trying to do I think there is a defensive recruitment required which will probably be next summer. I do think its spent very well I have been quite excited about Everton’s potential this season but I don’t think it is what they bought or what they didn’t get or what they bought before, I think there is plainly a rift that was between the playing staff and Ronald Koeman and something had to give and that is why Everton came to the decision as early as they did.
I am a big Sam fan, I think this is the biggest club he has had to date and that if he gets it going there is a real opportunity for Everton going forward. But again, he has signed an 18m contract but there is speculation that he is only there for 6m and that someone else is going to come in and continue the build in the summer. I would be disappointed for him if that happens but so far I think he has done what he was expected to do, get them into the top half, although I would say right now that 10th or 9th is not safe, that’s why Watford made that change recently, its all very very tight.
CW: 6 points between relegation and 10th I read
RK: It is quite frightening but at least Everton aren’t in the bottom 3 where they were when Sam came and that obviously is to much relief for Evertonians. They shouldn’t be hanging around down there, they should be the best of the rest. That’s where they were last year and that’s where they should be this year and I thought tactically they should be a bit better than that, I wasn’t sure how Liverpool would perform, I was of the opinion that Coutinho would leave pre season and he stayed for 6 months and had an effect but Everton had played as I expected them to then I think it is going to be much closer that chase then obviously it is now.
CW: I was going to move on the Champions League but I am actually just interested in very quickly, two moves again, David Moyes to West Ham and Paul Lambert to Stoke. Moyes has done really well since he has gone to West Ham and Paul got that initial win at Stoke on his first game.
RK: Moyes I never have any doubts about, he is a top end, class act. Circumstances more than anything else were against him at Man Utd. I think he made one or two errors of judgment, talk to him now and I’m certain he wouldn’t have sacked Mike Phelan, who was the link between Fergie, his number 2 and the playing staff, when he came in and swept too many things out of the door, too quickly but it was always going to be difficult whoever replaced Fergie.
Not only that Moyes at Sunderland but at Sociedad, I have no idea what he was thinking taking that, he knew what he was up against, it wasn’t that what was happening at Sunderland was a secret because Big Sam told him, so I think that dramatically knocked his confidence but I am pleased that he is showing people again that he knows what he is doing.
As for Paul, no doubts either. Stoke aren’t a bad side but they have collection of calamitous injuries mostly through their back four all season, they will settle and I’m quite sure they will be safe come the end of the season but it is probably a good change.
I said right from the start of the year that Mark looked bored, Hughes looked bored and they looked bored with him and 4 and a half years is a long time in the modern day now. If coaches are getting 18 months then that is a long term. I am pleased to see that British coaches are getting an opportunity at last and I hope it continues.
CW: I just want to touch on The Champ League a little bit, lets start by talking about Zinadine Zidane at Real Madrid, so you think the only way he is going to keep his job is a Champ League win this year? Do you see him out of the door at the end of this season?
RK: Yes I do and I don’t think they are going to win the Champion’s League this year, if Paris turn up and Neymar has his head right then, if it isn’t full of speculation that he is on his way to Real Madrid at the end of the season. I think that would signal the end of Zinedine Zidane. His shirt is definitely on a very short peg. He needed last weeks performance and the 7 goals, Ronaldo and Bale firing again, there is a major rebuild at Real Madrid, for them to be clinging onto 4th place at the moment and having people snap at their heels for that Champ League spot in Spain, it’s almost unthinkable that should be the case but I think there is major change required there Pochettino keeps getting a mention, I was interested to see his quote when asked about that the other day – football will take me where foot ball wants me to be.
It wasn’t no, so maybe he is amongst the pack but I don’t think Zidane is there for the long term because I don’t think Real Madrid will win it this year, I think there are better teams.
CW: Related to Real Madrid then, there is speculation that every time Ronaldo comes up a contract end, you have highlighted some of the speculation that he is going back to Man Utd but do you think that is posturing for a new contract? Do you think that is reality?
RK: No I don’t no, I actually think that. You see the number 7 shirt with Sanchez and that means they won’t be interested in Ronaldo. I don’t think a shirt is going to stand between Man Utd and Ronaldo again, should they feel that is a good piece of business or not. I do think that this time the relationship fractured. I do think that Ronaldo for his standard is having a terrible season, 5-6 goals, its nothing like what we expect at this stage, its usually 26-36
CW: hasn’t he got the lowest strike to goal in the whole of the professional leagues or something?
RK: probably, it wouldn’t surprise me. A recent poll at The Bernabeu suggested that two thirds of Real Madrid fans would be happy to see him go now. They have tolerated him rather than loved him because he is Portuguese and those two countries Spain & Portugal don’t really get on. A Portuguese player to be the greatest player of all time at Real Madrid they are probably not having that, stats are telling us that he is but I sure the RMs would tell you Raul or someone else.
I think the time is coming that Ronaldo will leave but don’t think it is Man Utd. I don’t think he will struggle to find a club but I wouldn’t be surprised to see Bale out at the end of the year either, possibly Tottenham for Bale and if the speculation is right and it was to be Pochettino then who knows Kane? Dele Ali? It starts a real chain of activity if that were to be the case.
Ronaldo’s best days are behind him and Real Madrid have got to think towards the future. In my view this is his final season at Real Madrid and they are fishing, but they don’t have to fish too publicly because obviously George Mendes looks both after Mourinho and Ronaldo. Having said that they didn’t get on during Mourinho time at Real Madrid so something would have to give in that respect, it will be interesting going forward what does.
CW: Who do you fancy for the Champions League? I know its is a very open question
RK: I think it is anybodys this year, it wouldn’t surprise me Bayern Munich have a really good run at it, they love Heynckes, he loves them. I think they settled everything down post Ancellotti.
I think Paris has got enough but then depends on Neymar. If they are firing then they are a really good team this year. This might be there best shot at it. If Neymar is on the move again and the speculation is there is a £300m buy out from the contract that he signed last year. If he is on the move, would he want to leave on a high? Would it help to negotiate with the owners to get out were he to deliver it this year?
You couldn’t rule out the English teams, there is 5 of them. You would think that one might make it to the Semi’s and in the final. I don’t think we will get two there again but I think one of them has a really good chance. If Liverpool on their day do frighten people, Tottenham at their best but you know, Chelsea doggedly maybe, with their new big man Andy Gray. They all have an equal shot at it for me, Man Utd with Sanchez.
CW: You haven’t mentioned City?
RK: I was just about to, I’m just not sure the cumulative number of games they are now going to face are going to affect City. They are not a powerful team, they are a tricky team and although they have numbers and plenty of them, the games are going to play might have an effect on them. They have as good of a chance of any of the English sides, I think it is wide open. We will know more after the 16 stage. You can’t write off Barca of course. I just don’t see Real Madrid retaining it this time around.
CW: Final questions, do you think there is a possibility of Man City winning 4 trophies this season?
RK: I can’t believe it’s is possible to achieve, the year Utd get 3 they had so many big breaks, everything and you need luck as well as good players to achieve what they did. They are losing a match to Bayern Munich, they should be 2-3 down when stoppage time arrives and 2 set pieces with 2 substitute and score the winning goals.
Teddy Sherringham came on as a sub for Roy Keane in the FA cup finals, Keane wouldn’t have done that afternoon and everything went for them that afternoon and they won 3. I can not believe that Manchester City can win 4, I would be astounded if that was the case. I think we have seen that the teams have been scared of them, but also they can be beaten. Bristol City had a go at them and showed the way first time. Liverpool dismantled them and very well. I think if teams have a go you can beat them and when they go to Europe they will find better teams, better prepared to have a go than the teams in the English Premier league. All records are there to be broken but I can not see that Man City can win 4 trophies.
CW: Final 3 questions, who is going to win the Golden boot in the premiership this season?
CW: Who is going to win the Champ League, pick one side?
RK: I would like it obviously to be an English team, if it was an English team I do think that City has the best chance so if it were an English team – Man City especially if they can get the league won early, if not Paris.
CW: Finally let’s assume City are winning the Premier League considering where they are, who is going to come second?
RK: I think Utd without a doubt, I thought Utd would win it this year. I thought that he always wins in his 2nd year and he knows the premier league inside out and Guardiola was surprised by it last year and was way off. I think he turned up expecting to win it because he is Pep Guardiola but he got a nasty shock. Saying that the way he has responded is absolutely top class, he worked it out quite quickly and City have been an absolute joy this year, really good to watch so they will win it rightly so with Utd 2nd but lets not forget the year that Man City won the title 1967 Utd won the European cup for the first year and topped their success. Utd have a habit of doing that to City so it will be interesting to see how things play out.