Athletic Bilbao set for summer clear out

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Athletic Bilbao are on the verge of releasing some of their La Liga stalwarts, as new manager Gaizka Garitano looks to refresh his first team squad ahead of the 2019-20 season.

Garitano, who took over the reins at the club in December 2018, following the departure of Eduardo Berizzo, turned their league fortunes around sufficiently enough to be handed the job on a permanent basis.

He has been fairly quiet in the transfer market so far this summer, however he is now beginning to put his own stamp on the club, by showing some experienced campaigners the door at San Mames.

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Barcelona need De Jong influence in De Ligt deal

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La Liga champions FC Barcelona are becoming increasingly concerned that their deal for Ajax skipper Matthijs De Ligt has derailed, due to interest from rival clubs in the teenage defender.

De Ligt enjoyed a fine season at the heart of the Dutch side’s defence, as they secured the domestic double, and reached the Champions League semi final stage.

However he has been clear in his preference to move on from the Johan Cruyff Arena this summer, with a queue of top sides looking to gain an edge in the race to sign him.

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Atletico Madrid show transfer intent before 2019-20 campaign

Atletico Madrid

Atletico Madrid are wasting little time in preparing for the 2019-20 La Liga season, with Diego Simeone already active in the transfer market.

The Argentinian boss reaffirmed his commitment to the club at the end of the season, despite the departures of key players and the reported lack of financial backing from the board.

However, the former Inter Milan midfielder has responded with his usual mix of pragmatism and tactical nous to quickly address the areas in his side that need strengthening.

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Sarri holds his introductory presser

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Maurizio Sarri was officially unveiled this morning. Fabio Paratici took the floor first: “The negotiation lasted less than a month, we had clear ideas from the beginning, we had to respect everybody. There were two great clubs involved, us and Chelsea, and I would like to thank them for the collaboration and Marina personally, who proved once again she is one of the best executive in the world. The playing style was not central in our decision, we appointed him because we believe he was the best coach possible right now, like we did for Antonio Conte and Massimiliano Allegri at those times. He showed great qualities in Premier League, in Italy and internationally, he is the best suited to lead us. He was our first choice. Winning always comes first, but there is not an exact recipe. We believed the chemistry between coach, team, club and fans had gotten weaker.

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Top Ligue 1 Strikers in 2018/19: Neymar

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Several books could be written on Neymar’s season with PSG, and this was supposed to be the season that Neymar helped the French champions to the Champions League trophy, the one the club are really after. What happened was that Neymar replicated last season and missed key games as the league ran down. It was a frustrating season for Neymar even if PSG did end up winning the Ligue 1 title again.

Most of this frustration was off the pitch. The Brazilian’s niggling injuries didn’t help- he played just 17 league games this season. Then he was outspoken about UEFA when Manchester United arguably did get the run of the luck when they dumped out PSG in Paris, he swore on social media and was handed with a 3 game ban. This means that whoever he is playing for next season he won’t play in 50% of the group games.

Then Neymar was involved with a Rennes fan after Rennes had upset PSG and won the Coupe de France. He appeared to hit the fan and after returning from injury he was suspended for another 3 games meaning that he didn’t even finish the season off properly with the club.

This was the nightmare season for Neymar in many ways, and yet he was still good enough to basically play half a season and finish as the 4th best striker in Ligue 1. He finished the season with 72 points and was able to score an incredible 15 goals from his 17 games and assisted in a further 7 goals. When he played PSG kept 6 clean sheets and no matter his temperament off the field on it he was almost impeccable receiving only 2 yellow cards.

What is remarkable about Neymar’s season is that the first 13 games that he played he always earned points. His best personal game was against Guingamp at the beginning of 2019 when PSG ran riot and won 9-0. Neymar helped himself to 2 goals and assisted in another in a very easy win.

On two occasions he earned zero points but he never finished a game this past season on minus points. His last contribution was against Angers on May 11th when PSG won 2-1 and he scored a goal and assisted in the other.

The question is, was that Neymar’s last game for PSG? It is no secret that the Brazilian wants away and wants to re-join Barcelona again for next season. Could PSG complain after spending over 200m euros on him, because they would make a profit on the player if they did sell him.

Despite some negative aspects surrounding Neymar, his showmanship and hard work rate have still been held high in France and it is difficult to judge a striker that scores goals. He has played 37 games in the league over two seasons and scored 34 goals. Injuries aside he has been one of the best players to grace the game in Ligue 1 in recent history.

What does the future hold? This summer will turn into a Neymar saga it appears.

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Top La Liga Strikers in 2018/19: Wissam Ben Yedder

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Wissam Ben Yedder has just finished his 3rd season with Sevilla and it was his personal best yet as he helped the team to finish in the top six and qualify for the Europa League next season.

There were improvements in all of Ben Yedder’s game this past season and at 28 his best years could still be ahead of him.

Before this season Ben Yedder had never scored more than 11 goals in La Liga but he managed 18 and on top of that he assisted in another 9 goals, meaning that he contributed to 27 of Sevilla’s league goals. Overall Ben Yedder earned 91 points finishing just 2 points behind Barcelona’s Luis Suarez.

Ben Yedder started the season very slowly earning zero points from his first two games. And then against Levante where Sevilla were away from home, everything changed. The match finished 6-2 to Sevilla and Ben Yedder was the man of the match as he scored a hat-trick and assisted in another goal, with bonus points he earned 16 points in one game.

Another match that should be highlighted came in March when Sevilla now at home beat Real Sociedad 5-2. It was another hat-trick that earned Ben Yedder 14 points and so in those two games alone, even though they were months apart he was able to acquire 30 points.

Ben Yedder’s most consistent period during the season was in December and over the Christmas and New Year period where the striker scored points in five consecutive games totalling 15 points. And his worse single game of the season came against both Celta Vigo and Real Valladolid where he earned -1 point as he was booked in both games. Indeed while some players worst points is -3 or -5 points or more, to have the lowest points at -1 is actually decent and it only happened twice during the season when his points dipped into the minus category. This is due in part to the fact that he wasn’t sent off this season and was booked only 3 times.

In the last 4 games of the season, 3 of them ended with zero points which was disappointing. But the forward made up for it a little in Sevilla’s last game of the season which ended in a 2-0 win at home to Athletic Bilbao and Ben Yedder scored and made an assist in that game.

This season Ben Yedder would have cost you 7m to have in your team but he has just had his best season for Sevilla. In his debut one he earned 54 points, last season that was just 39 and now a massive 91 points, so his fee may rise for next term.

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Liverpool need Naby Keita to shine next season

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If the rumours are true, Liverpool will not be spending big this summer. Instead, Jurgen Klopp and his team will keep their transfer business low key, add in a couple of areas and look to get more from the current squad. One such player they will expect a drastic improvement in is Naby Keita.

The Guinea midfielder arrived at Anfield last summer after a year of waiting to do so. Liverpool expected much of the midfielder. Klopp and his team rated him highly, so much so, they were willing to pay £54 million and wait a year for him to arrive. The early signs were positive too. Keita started the 4-0 win over West Ham on the opening day and impressed in midfield. Against Crystal Palace the following week, he was another impressive performer. Continue reading

Milan hire Giampaolo

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About three weeks after Gennaro Gattuso and the club decided to mutually part ways, Milan have found their new coach: Marco Giampaolo, who managed Sampdoria in the past three seasons. He was handpicked by Paolo Maldini, who was promoted to technical director after the exit of Leonardo, and agreed to a two-year contract with an optional third one.

Giampaolo’s team finished tenth twice and ninth in 2018/2019. In the weeks leading up to the end of the season, he had voiced the desire to leave for a side that had concrete European aspirations and the Blucerchiati officials did not stand in his way. Continue reading

Douglas Costa wants to stay and Emerson quashes Juventus rumours

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Douglas Costa gave a video interview today and seemed quite sure he will stick around despite the transfer market rumours: “I do not know Maurizio Sarri personally but I have seen him work in Naples. He had a fantastic season my first hear in Italy, I think we will do great things with him. I am not super familiar with Aaron Ramsey either because I follow Serie A way more than Premier League, but he must be a great player if Juventus decided to sign him. The management does not sign average footballers. I have three years left on my contract and I am convinced I will stay. Now everything is new after the coaching change, so I will stay.” Continue reading

Top Ligue 1 Midfielders in 2018/19: Remi Oudin

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In Reims, Remi Oudin is known as a superstar, the one golden light in the club who from his position planted in attacking midfield gave Reims the hope of European football for a long time. That he is a local only adds to the lure and respect the fans give him.

Reims did not start the season well, but rarely lost instead they kept piling up draws, but by winter they had established themselves and flirted with the top 5 positions. A Europa League place or dare we say it a Champions League one still felt realistic even in February. Had they made it to the Champions League that would have been emotional enough given that this famous and historic team are linked to the beginnings of the European Cup. In the end the club ran out of steam and energy and so did Oudin.

However it’s worth congratulating both player and club, we have to remember that they finished in the top 10 after being promoted as champions of Ligue 2 last season.

As for Oudin he finished the season in the European Fantasy League rankings in 4th place for midfielders, 29th for midfielders in major leagues and 82nd for overall performance including every player. That’s not bad going for a player that was plying his trade in Ligue 2 last season.

Oudin finished with 70 points just 4 behind Wahbi Khazri of Saint Etienne and he started 32 games for Reims. He was impressive in front of goal too scoring 10 times and also assisted in another four goals. He didn’t see red all season and was booked just 4 times.

The player started the season by earning 6 points from his first two games as Reims kept two clean sheets in their victories over both Nice and Lyon, in the latter game he also provided the assist for the winner.

His best game of the season came on October 28th when Reims played Rennes away from home and won a normally tough fixture 2-0. Oudin was the definite hero of the day scoring both goals and getting extra points for a clean sheet. The only sour note was losing points for being booked but he still earned 9 points that day.

If any criticism could be pointed at Oudin it’s that he lacked consistency throughout the season and would appear brilliant in one match and average in the next, however in the month of February he was certainly one of the best in form players in Ligue 1.

In the 3 games that took place he earned 18 points as Reims had victories over Rennes and Montpellier and drew against Toulouse and Oudin scored against Rennes again. He also scored a brace against Montpellier.

Oudin finished the season quietly though earning a points total of 3 points from his last seven games as Reims came to the conclusion that their European hopes had faded for this season.

Oudin is currently valued at 10m and he proved this season why- it will be interesting to see what the 22 year old will produce next season and also interesting to see how long on this form Reims will be able to keep their man.

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