Louis Saha on Fifa cover stars, Ten Hag & Man United signings
Louis Saha has no stranger to football fans, having racked up 289 Premier League appearances across spells at no fewer than six clubs.
The former France international sat down with GGRecon to talk Everton’s best FIFA players, whether he could’ve been on the cover of a FIFA game, and now he feels about Erik Ten Hag’s start at Manchester United.
With Everton being in the news a lot this week, when you were at the club, which of your teammates used to be the best at FIFA?
When I was at Everton I wasn’t playing as much but I think Tim Cahill and James Vaughan were. That was it really. I couldn’t remember many others who were playing as much as them.
Did you ever want to be on the FIFA front cover?
Oh it would have been nice, yes. It would be fun and I can see Kylian Mbappé being very happy for the few covers that he has been on and he deserves to be on it.
Erik ten Hag has claimed that Manchester United is ‘the best place to be’ as the club are aiming to construct the best team in England firstly, then in Europe and then in the world. Do you believe under Ten Hag that the club is capable of doing this?
I am more confident but at the moment it’s a bit difficult to be too confident in these claims that Manchester United is the ‘best place’ for players. They’re still in transition and there are other clubs that are doing great.
I do believe they have a good momentum under Erik ten Hag and they’ve improved in many areas that they needed to improve in. Erik has managed to get certain players back into form and the team is playing exciting football going forward.
United’s intensity has been restored, so the fear factor is there when club’s go to Old Trafford and they fear and respect what this United side may offer. This is how it should be and the fact they’re developing players alongside that is great. Is it enough to say it’s the best place for players? We will see if they can start the next season in the same way.
Ten Hag made the claim just mentioned in regards to Manchester United being the ‘best place’ for their talisman Marcus Rashford. Do you agree with this? Or do you believe Marcus at some point will want to experience a different league and a new culture? Can you honestly see him being a ‘one club man’?
I think he’s got a bit of both. He’s a very clever lad and at the same time he’s very loyal. He has suffered over the last two years from poor performances and a bad approach in games, but he’s recovered from that.
What a recovery it’s been. He’s just been brilliant and I don’t want to see those types of performances stop. I can see him repaying the club for all they’ve given him and repaying the faith his manager has in him. I can’t see him leaving the club when he’s in such good form and I do believe Manchester United is the best place for him because he’s scoring goals, he can reach a level of recognition and be considered amongst the top ten players in world football and go from there.
A move to another club can be something he looks for in two or three years' time. Why not? If he wins the Premier League with Manchester United and brings it back to Old Trafford, then I can see him leaving then.
We’ve seen a recent interview of yours where you’ve claimed that Chelsea’s Édouard Mendy would make ‘perfect sense’ for Manchester United if David de Gea was to depart the club. In your personal opinion however, do you believe that De Gea will be United’s number one for the foreseeable, or do you see Ten Hag looking to replace him in the near future? Where for you does De Gea rank amongst the Premier League’s best goalkeepers?
He’s shown over his career with Manchester United that he’s great. There’s no doubt about his quality and he’s played many, many games. He’s made his fair share of mistakes and that’s why pundits such as Roy Keane have criticised him in the past. I do believe he’s a great player for the club but no player is guaranteed a place in this squad.
If you’re Erik ten Hag, then you will be thinking about whether there’s a way of implementing a better strategy for playing out from the back. De Gea is a great goalkeeper but he’s not great when he’s playing with his feet. There’s a possibility that Ten Hag will be looking to the future and looking for a better solution. There are a number of goalkeepers out there who’re good enough to put De Gea under pressure in the future.
Manchester United are said to still be interested in making another attempt to sign Barcelona’s Frenkie de Jong this upcoming summer. Do you believe he would be a perfect addition to United’s midfield, or would you suggest that United should refrain from pursuing another potential transfer saga this summer?
Frenkie de Jong is an amazing player. If Manchester United are to bring in another midfielder, then it should be somebody of his calibre and quality. With the composure this player has got, then he’s going to be amazing. With agent demands and big salaries, some moves can be blocked.
It’s not the same transfer market anymore. He should have gone to Manchester United already and it would have been great to see him there. For some reason it’s been delayed and I don’t believe he’s been enjoying his football over the past six months. He’s a player that I believe will really improve Manchester United.
Many of Manchester United’s competitors for the Champions League places have made big acquisitions in the January transfer window. Is there any signing that these club’s have made that you wish Manchester United had signed instead?
I’m not sure that all those players are necessarily signing for the club’s that suit them most. There’s a good strategy at Manchester United to not panic and be used like they’ve been used in the past. They seem to be a lot more organised than they used to be and that's much better than when they used to just throw money away.
João Félix is obviously a very good signing for Chelsea and he could be a target for Manchester United in the summer, along with players like Victor Osimhen. There’s a need to improve the squad, but the panic element is something that I don’t believe is right. You just have to make sure that professionally you make the right choices for the squad. It’s just about getting the right players.
Harry Kane is said to be of interest to both Real Madrid and Bayern Munich, however do you believe a Premier League move would appeal to him more? He’s 62 goals away from breaking the Premier League goalscoring record, so do you believe he will be dead set on breaking that record or do you think that wouldn’t stop him opting for a move abroad? Do you believe he will leave Tottenham in the summer transfer window?
I’m sure Tottenham will try to keep him. Losing him to another Premier League rival, similar to what happened with Robin van Persie when he left Arsenal for Manchester United, is not impossible because you can’t stop a player that’s done so much for the club. I believe he deserves a move if he wants one, especially to a club like Real Madrid where he’d have a great opportunity of winning the Champions League.
If he goes to Bayern Munich then he’d definitely win the Bundesliga, so there are some exciting opportunities for him out there. He could even go to Manchester United and help them win the Premier League whilst still having the opportunity of breaking the Premier League goalscoring record.
If he leaves Tottenham, then he will leave with some regrets because he’s tried so hard to win things with the club and make them successful. However, he can still look at himself in the mirror and be proud of what he’s done for the club. You have a short career and I hope he can win some silverware, wherever that may be, because he deserves it.
Anthony Gordon has completed his move to Newcastle United for £40 million. Do you believe Gordon warrants such a significant sum? Who of Everton and Newcastle do you believe has got the best deal in the end?
I think the deal is good for both clubs. Everton may have had a player on their hands who wasn’t fully committed because he wanted to move and that’s why he’s gone. Everton now have to try and sign the right replacement because their aim is to remain in the Premier League and there’s not a lot of time to bounce back.
Anthony Gordon is a good player who will definitely help the attacking options that Eddie Howe has and I’m excited to see him play there as Newcastle deserve these types of players. He will adapt fairly quickly as he’s already played in the Premier League, so it’s a move that’s good for all parties involved. It makes sense.
Newcastle United’s signing of Anthony Gordon now means that the club are reportedly open to the prospect of selling Allan Saint-Maximin. Saint-Maximin has struggled with injuries this season and has since fallen out of favour as the season’s progressed. Nottingham Forest are said to be one of a number of Premier League sides that are interested in the Frenchmen, but in your opinion, should any of the so-called Premier League ‘big six’ be in for Saint-Maximin and which club in particular would benefit him most?
All young players should see how quick football goes. It’s unbelievable because last season Saint-Maximin was unreal and nobody would have been thinking about the prospect of Newcastle United selling him. He’s been unlucky this season with injuries, but he’s a top player and he could potentially find a move to one of the ‘big six’ clubs. I could see Arsenal or Tottenham having a player of Saint-Maximin’s quality and style.
What are your thoughts on Sean Dyche being appointed Everton manager?
It’s all about survival. Frank Lampard was able to achieve that last season and it’s going to be a fight for Sean Dyche to keep them up this season. Dyche’s teams play with a very direct style and that’s reminiscent of the Everton’s sides that played under David Moyes.
I’m not as excited by the appointment in a long-term sense, and I mean that with no disrespect. Sean is going to have to produce some magic in the space of a few weeks.”
Al–Nassr manager Rudi Garcia over the weekend claimed that Cristiano Ronaldo will return to Europe before his career comes to a close. Ronaldo himself claimed that his time in European football is over, but considering how well you know Cristiano, do you see him playing at one of Europe’s top clubs once again?
He’s a competitor that would thrive at the prospect of coming up against the best in the Champions League, so I believe he will try to come back to Europe. However, we’ve seen that he had issues with Jorge Mendes because he was unable to find Cristiano a move to a team that was in the Champions League.
It’s a difficult situation. He’s a competitor but Cristiano may want to help grow the Saudi Pro League. If he wants to come back to Europe in the near future, then I don’t understand why he made this move to Saudi Arabia in the first place. It doesn’t make sense to me.