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Juan Sebastian Veron talks Lionel Messi and Argentina at the World Cup

Written by Chris Winterburn

Follow Chris on Twitter @Chriswin4

Argentina’s opening victory of their World Cup campaign was not the straightforward result many were expecting from Alejandro Sabella’s side in their home continent. The first-half was a very difficult affair with Sabella’s tactical setup not benefitting Lionel Messi in the slightest, as I discuss here.

This opened up much half-time discussion on just why Messi couldn’t perform at the World Cup, however his second-half display put a kibosh on such talk.

Argentine veteran Juan Sebastian Veron has since spoken to adidas about Lionel Messi and Argentina’s chances in Brazil.

Veron talks to adidas as part of the #allin campaign.

Veron talks to adidas as part of the #allin campaign.

One of the main talking points surrounding Messi’s legacy is his ability to lead his country to glory in a World Cup. People who use Pele and Diego Maradona as measuring sticks suggest that a true mark of greatness is being able to lift the famous trophy and with Argentina disappointing in 2010, it was muted that Messi might not be able to repeat the feat of Maradona.

Veron disagrees, pointing out that the FC Barcelona forward has already achieved more than enough to cement his status as one of, if not the, greatest player ever.

Messi is already one of the best players in history and that will never change.

He holds the key. He doesn’t have to win a World Cup to be regarded as the best ever.

He’s already proven so, and there are many great players who are great players and never won a World Cup. But, it will be incredible to see him win it for Argentina and his team, as well as for his own story.

An encouraging sign for Messi and Argentina is just how well he slotted into Sabella’s 4-2-3-1 system in the second-half. Gonzalo Higuain’s introduction gave him a player to play off and this saw the tempo of Argentina’s attacks increase. It is unlikely Sabella will deviate from this system for the upcoming match against Iran with Messi appearing so confident following his strike against Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Juan Sebastian Veron was a key part of the Argentinean footballing setup since 1997. Although he missed the 2006 World Cup in Germany due to difficulties within his club career at the time causing a lengthy dip in form, the man himself says it feels strange not to be involved this time around, “Although I miss playing in a World Cup, for the first time I’m able to see it from a different perspective and really enjoying my time here in Brazil. I’ve been able to watch many great games.”

Argentina were one of the pre-tournament favourites and although the defensive line is lacking in individual quality, a Lionel Messi hitting form at the right time is enough to drive most teams to the latter stages. In the interview Veron suggests that the importance of gaining a victory in the opening group match is invaluable in terms of providing ‘tranquillity’ to a group with the pressure in the remaining two fixtures significantly lowered,

We’ve won our first game which is great, it’s important to start the World Cup winning and it will bring a lot of tranquillity to the next match.

The team also know that a lot more hard work is needed and some improvements are needed.

It’s very important for there to be a balance between our defence and attack and the team needs to stay together as they’re a collective of many components, with many solutions.

I’m confident we’ll do well, but remember, in football anything can happen.

Argentina next take to the field against Iran on Saturday before their final group game against a lacklustre Nigeria side on Wednesday June 25th.

Juan Sebastian Veron was talking as part of the adidas #allin or nothing campaign

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The Brazilian centre-half England’s top clubs need

With the Premier League being criticized for its lack of defensive cohesion and strength by all media quarters in the past twelve months, along with the Premier League’s dismal performances in Europe’s premier competition, the Champions League, it is widely expected that the clubs in question will go in search of defensive reinforcements in the summer transfer window. As a result of this there has been many names banded around as potential solutions to the defensive woes in the Premier League however one candidate stands head and shoulders above the rest, not just in terms of his sheer size standing at 6ft 4in but also in terms of his defensive ability, and this man is none other than Vasco da Gama’s Dede.Dede is widely expected to leave the club he joined in 2009 this summer after the club’s general director Cristiano Koehler stated it was likely the player would be sold to Europe in the next transfer window in order to raise funds for the club. This news then sparked a wave of interest from Europe’s elite such as Juventus and AC Milan with both of the Italian giants looking for yet another defensive lynchpin, however it is the widespread interest from the Premier League that has caught the eye with Liverpool, Arsenal and Manchester United having all according to rumours from South America, expressed their interest in the twenty four year old centre half.

Dede has been voted the best centre half in the domestic Brazilian league’s and it is this form that has earned him several call ups to the Selecao with Vasco’s number twenty six making his international debut in September 2012 in an 8-0 victory over China. Dede famed for his physical strength and aerial ability would offer a welcome relief to Premier League defences which have found themselves undone by both the trick technical footballers of continental Europe and the physical centre forward play of the domestic game.

Dede, a defender in demand

Dede, a defender in demand

Dede is under contract at Vasco until December of 2015 so there is still a long time before Vasco are forced to sell in order to recoup the players worth however with the financial situation at Sao Januario has been the topic of heavy discussion in recent weeks with it being speculated that stars such as Dede, Carlos Alberto and Wendel may need to offloaded in order to balance the books. The obvious big money would undoubtedly come from England with Juventus and AC Milan unable to replicate such spending with Italian football in somewhat of a period of reconstruction with many of Italy’s top club sides looking to youth rather than signing and indeed keeping older players on monumental contracts with a prime example of this being the breaking down of Internazionale’s European Cup winning team in order to secure the long term sustainable future of the club.

There are several options available to Dede to inspect and eventually take up in the Premier League with all members of the current top four arguably in need of defensive strengthening with Liverpool and Arsenal also interested following the departure of Jamie Carragher and indifferent form of Per Mertesacker and Thomas Vermaelen who may well make a summer move to FC Barcelona following twelve months of interest.

Manchester United

Whilst Manchester United have only excelled themselves this season with twenty five wins out of their first thirty league matches there has still been a lot of talk about defensive frailties at Old Trafford. There can be no getting away from the fact last season United were caught out in Europe through defensive and tactical errors which has to a degree been corrected this season however there has still been a sizeably high proportion of sloppy goals being given away by the league leaders and this has been a cause for concern to Sir Alex. With Rio Ferdinand still yet to sign a new deal at the club with his current contract expiring in the summer as well as the long term worries with regards to Nemanja Vidic’s fitness, Sir Alex may decide to take a financial hit on signing Dede in order to give his defence, stability, leadership and most of all strength as the Scot looks to build yet another European Cup winning team.

Manchester City

With Joleon Lescott falling out of favour with Roberto Mancini this season it is expected he will leave the club this summer along with Kolo Toure and even Vincent Kompany who has been attracting Tito Vilanova’s Barcelona with his performances over the past twenty four months. With Matija Nastasic having impressed immensely in his debut season at Eastlands it wouldn’t be farfetched to imagine a central defensive pairing of Dede and Nastasic leading City to another title and more importantly a more successful European campaign following two consecutive seasons of disaster in the European Cup. Dede does have very similar attributes to Kompany both in physical and footballing terms and in my mind would be an obvious replacement for the Belgian should he leave. Finally Manchester City would have no problems with the players wage demands or transfer fee with Financial Fair Play being at the back of their mind following the expulsion of Malaga from the next four Champions League tournaments.

Tottenham Hotspur

Tottenham whilst being accused of being short in the forward areas this season with Gareth Bale providing much of their impetus in the final third since Christmas, can have absolutely no complaints about their defensive form this year. Yes they have let in soft goals at times but the introduction of Jan Vertonghen into the side has been seamless whilst the performances of Caulker and Dawson in the latter stages of the season have been encouraging. However Caulker has shown glimpses of inexperience this season and maybe an addition of Dede to the Spurs first team will help aid Caulker’s development with an eye for him and Dede to be Spurs’ defensive partnership of the future with Vertonghen able to take the role of left back or even a place in midfield. However this deal seems the most unlikely with Daniel Levy more than likely unwilling to pay Dede’s high salary and a high transfer fee, especially with the summer’s business focus being on attacking additions with Leandro Damiao in mind for yet another transfer window.

Arsenal

Arsenal have long been noted for their defensive fragility, probably since the days of the invincible with Wenger’s men being known to shy away from aerial battles and crumble under well exerted pressure. Wenger following a seventh straight year without a trophy will be more determined than ever to sort out these problems with Wojciech Szczesny having already had the dye cast on his Arsenal career following a relegation to Arsenal’s Under 21 side this week. The performances of Arsenal’s centre halves in the recent North London derby against Spurs showed weakness in terms of pace and reading of the game with both Spurs’ first half goals coming from a poorly organised and slow Arsenal backline being punished by pace and quick thinking. The performances of Thomas Vermaelen have disappointed supporters largely this season with the Belgian having failed to produce good performances on a regular basis and having been at fault for a number of goals this season, it is expected that if a good enough offer comes in from Barcelona Vermaelen may be allowed to depart the club without much opposition. This would open the door for Dede who would offer the Arsenal backline a significant increase in pace and strength and could help Per Mertesacker a lot with his ability to cover just behind. As with Spurs however the financial aspect of this deal may well put Wenger off especially with Champions League qualification being in serious doubt for the first time in years.

Liverpool

Liverpool are the club to have registered the most noticeable interest in Dede of late with Brazilian media carrying stories that Dede was destined for an Anfield move this summer and this comes as no surprise with Liverpool’s defensive record in recent seasons much less than admirable. For a long time now I think it has been shown just how far off a top quality central defender Martin Skrtel is whilst Daniel Agger is a good solid centre half, nothing more and the goals conceded by Liverpool particular against teams in and around the lower echelons of the table highlight real defensive frailties. With Jamie Carragher being brought back into the side with regularity post Christmas this season by Brendan Rodgers is appears the former Swansea boss may well have lost faith with Skrtel and with Carragher retiring at the end of this campaign Liverpool will be in the market for defensive reinforcements. Dede’s quality having been proven in a very competitive Brazilian top division over the last four years will no doubt excite Liverpool fans who would be looking forward to having a presence as towering and tough to beat as Dede at the heart of their backline however the crux of this deal hinges on Liverpool’s table finish this season. The higher up the table they go the more money they receive and can spend on transfers, with Liverpool unlikely to qualify for the Champions League next season they will have to offer a little higher salary than other clubs in order to tempt players and with FSG saying there isn’t a lot of money to play with any potential deal for Dede may be protracted and drawn out across the summer which would be good for nobody.

With Dede continuing to impress for Brazil and Vasco it is expected fans of clubs in Europe will get a firsthand look at Dede in this summer’s Confederations Cup in Brazil with fans of a certain few English teams getting a glimpse of what may be their star central defender next season.

Written by Chris Winterburn who you can follow on Twitter @Chriswin4 or contact at cwin1994@live.co.uk