In the mag: Make-or-break seasons ahead for Hazard, Jovetic, Wilshere and more!
By now, new signings should have settled at their clubs and managers should know their best starting line-ups (or who to buy in January to strengthen their teams). It also means that some players are at a crossroads now with a thing or two to prove.
So, in our latest issue, our main focus is on players who are potentially facing a make-or-break season, starting with Chelsea's new No. 10.
We know full well that Eden Hazard hasn't flopped since joining from Lille, but for the talented Belgian, it's now all about where he goes from here. Winning the Premier League and Champions League would be a start, he tells us, but on a personal level there's so much more fun to be had. Like catching up with Messi? Ronaldo? "That's what I have to do," he says. It'll be fun watching him try.
The Chelsea wonder isn't the only star hoping to haul his side to dizzy heights this season, though. Stevan Jovetic endured a troubled first year at Manchester City ittered with injuries, but the Montenegrin has begun his second season brightly and has only one direction in his sights: up. The 24-year-old tells FFT about life at the Etihad Stadium so far, his fascinating career so far and why Yaya Toure isn't so hot at the ping-pong table.
On a similar note, Erik Lamela is beginning to look like the player he promised to be at Tottenham after shrugging off a hugely disappointing debut year in north London. It's not like tough starts are new for the young Argentine, though: as FFT recalls, a timid Lamela struggled immensely to assert himself at Roma after moving from River Plate, before dazzling in his second season to earn himself a big-money move to White Hart Lane. Good things come to those who wait.
Continuing our 'Make or Break' special, we explain what Jack Wilshere must do to re-establish himself as the exciting midfield marauder we saw in 2010/11. The Arsenal graduate has come under fire from the likes of Paul Scholes for an apparent lack of progression, but with his injuries apparently behind him, he knows now is his time to prove the boo-boys wrong.
It has certainly been, erm... interesting at Manchester United. So far, their expensive upgrading hasn't exactly paid immediate dividends, but it seems only a matter of time before it does – not least when you've got the likes of Angel Di Maria knocking about. The £60m Argentine was deemed surplus to requirements at Real Madrid (capitalism! *shakes fist*), but already the Champions League winners have proved El Fideo is no easy player to replace. we unearth the truth behind United's record-breaking new No.7, and why he can bring the glory days back to Old Trafford.
It's not very often we interview a 27-year-old for a One-on-One, but then Gerard Pique isn't really your average 27-year-old. For a start he's won just about everything there is to win in football, played under two of the game's finest-ever managers, and boasts a pop star partner. So who's better: Pep or Fergie? Why did Louis van Gaal push him over as a kid? And what was with him holding hands with Zlatan that time?
Wan Zaharulnizam Wan Zakaria might be known as 'Kecik', but the Kelantan wing wizard packs a lot of speed. In fact, it is his most lethal attribute since his Harimau Muda days that even enticed Japanese side FC Ryukyu to offer him a trial. In an exclusive interview with us, he talks about dealing with bigger and stronger opponents, his short time in Japan, and representing the country.
It's not all crunching tackles, but football wouldn't be football without those, and the inevitable injuries that follow. In this issue, we reveal everything you need to know (and some horror stories you don't want to), from drunk surgery in the '80s to today's mind-bending tech. Plus, there's more on weird treatment, injury-prone clubs and Darren Anderton revealing all about his 'Sicknote' tag.
Tickets, please! That's what we've been asking FFT readers on Twitter, and hundreds of you responded. From the magical Magyars at Wembley to derby delirium at The Den, we bring you the top stubs and stories from your excellent responses.
Besides all the above, we pick up tips from Liverpool and England speedster Raheem Sterling on the art of dribbling, have a chat with a young Spain star who swapped La Masia for Macclesfield's Moss Rose, bring you an exclusive with Seattle Sounders star Clint Dempsey, and please, don't let us forget the obligatory "much, much more".