10 Premier League players who should leave their current clubs before the window closes

Islam Slimani (Leicester)  

It is easy to forget that Slimani is still a Leicester player. Signed following their improbable Premier League title triumph in 2016, the Algeria international made something of an impact in his debut campaign, scoring eight goals in 29 appearances, but he fell sharply out of favour the following season and was loaned out to Newcastle in January. Slimani spent 2018/19 in Turkey with Fenerbahce; given that he is unlikely to play much for the Foxes next term, he should now seek a permanent exit.

Dejan Lovren (Liverpool)

The much maligned Lovren is a perfectly capable centre-back on his day, which is why clubs such as Milan have explored the possibility of signing him this summer. According to the latest reports, the Rossoneri have been priced out of a move for the former Southampton man, who has slipped further down the pecking order at Anfield thanks to Joe Gomez’s emergence at centre-half and Joel Matip’s tremendous end to last season.

Jairo Riedewald (Crystal Palace)  

Clashes with powerful members of the Crystal Palace squad supposedly contributed to Frank de Boer’s sacking as the club’s manager after just four games of the 2017/18 campaign, but Riedewald would have been disappointed to see his compatriot go. The Dutchman was a bit-part player under Roy Hodgson for the remainder of that season, before making just a single Premier League appearance last term. His career would surely be best served by a move away from Selhurst Park this summer.

Eliaquim Mangala (Manchester City)

Manchester City’s recruitment has generally been excellent in the last three years, but Mangala’s presence in the squad is a reminder that it was not always thus.

Henri Lansbury (Aston Villa)

No club has spent more in this summer’s transfer market than Aston Villa, who have splashed out £83m since winning the Championship play-off final against Derby County. That is not particularly positive news for Lansbury, who only played 10 games in the second tier last term. That was in large part because of injury, but having been out of the first-team picture for so long, it make sense for the Arsenal academy graduate to start afresh elsewhere.

Joe Hart (Burnley)

Hart’s decision to move to Burnley last summer always felt like a curious one; granted, he was guaranteed to start in the first few months of the season due to injuries to Tom Heaton and Nick Pope, but his future beyond that was doubtful. Indeed, Heaton’s return to the starting XI coincided with an upturn in form for the Clarets, and Hart may even fall to third in the pecking order now that Pope is back to full fitness. For the sake of his career, the former England net-minder should seek pastures new.

Yannick Bolasie (Everton)

It is fair to say that Bolasie’s move from Crystal Palace to Everton in 2016 has not worked out. The DR Congo international made a decent start at Goodison Park, but a severe knee injury suffered against Manchester United kept him out of action for a year, and he struggled to make much of a positive impression thereafter. Reports suggest that Bolasie is available for £10m this summer, but at the time of writing he remains on Merseyside.

Guido Carrillo (Southampton)

Southampton parted with £19m to acquire Carrillo in January 2018, a decision they must massively regret 18 months on. The former Monaco frontman failed to score in his 10 appearances for the club before a season-long loan move to Leganes last term. Now back at St Mary’s, Carrillo was left out of the Southampton squad that travelled to Austria last week.

Carl Jenkinson (Arsenal)

If Laurent Koscielny gets his way and departs the Emirates Stadium this summer, Jenkinson will take over as Arsenal’s longest-serving outfielder. That is extraordinary given that he has played only four league matches for the club since 2013/14, and a situation that surely cannot continue. Now 27, Jenkinson must secure a transfer that brings him more first-team football.

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Laurent Koscielny problem is the last thing Arsenal needed

It is fair to say that Arsenal have not had the most straightforward of summers so far. Defeat by Chelsea in the Europa League final and a failure to finish in the top four in the Premier League last term did not only deny the Gunners Champions League football in 2019/20, but it also further restricted their transfer budget ahead of next season. The fact that Aaron Ramsey’s contract had expired by the time of his official move to Juventus means that the north Londoners were unable to recoup any funds to lessen the blow of losing their star midfielder, while the chances of getting Mesut Ozil’s sizeable wages off the payroll are slim to nil.

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Should Arsenal break the bank to sign Wilfried Zaha this summer?

Crystal Palace, it is fair to say, have not been happy with Arsenal’s behaviour in recent days. The Gunners’ offer of £40m for Wilfried Zaha was dismissed out of hand by the Eagles, who consider the bid derisory and have privately accused their London rivals of deliberately trying to unsettle their star man.

Palace have made it clear that they value their academy product at closer to £80m, and they were further incensed by Arsenal’s proposal to split the fee into five yearly instalments. Roy Hodgson’s side went into the summer pledging not to sell both Zaha and Aaron Wan-Bissaka, who joined Manchester United in a £50m deal last week. As things stand, then, a move would appear unlikely.

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6 players who could become key men for Chelsea next season

Barring an intervention from the Court of Arbitration for Sport, Chelsea will be unable to acquire any new players this summer after being hit with a two-window transfer ban for breaking FIFA rules on the signing of under-18s from abroad. That could give the following players an opportunity to stake their claim in the first team…

Andreas Christensen

A regular starter under Antonio Conte in 2017/18, Christensen slipped down the pecking order last term when Maurizio Sarri moved from a back three to a back four and restored David Luiz to the first-team fold. A knee injury to Antonio Rudiger gave him the chance to start the Europa League final, but the fact he played 15 times in continental competition and on just eight occasions in the Premier League shows that he was not a first choice under Sarri.

That could change in 2019/20, with Rudiger set to miss the start of the season and Luiz now 32 years of age. The Denmark international will certainly hope for more involvement than he managed last time out.

Tammy Abraham

Abraham has spent the last three seasons out on loan, first at Bristol City, then at Swansea City, and most recently at Aston Villa. His 25 goals helped the latter win promotion back to the Premier League last term, and he will now hope to compete with Olivier Giroud and, if his loan move is made permanent, Gonzalo Higuain for a starting role at Stamford Bridge.

“There will never be a better time to play the youngsters,” Abraham said this week. “Of course the transfer ban is probably not what the club wanted but for us it is exciting. I am excited and I am sure the rest of the players are.”

Mason Mount

Frank Lampard is the overwhelming favourite to be appointed as Sarri’s successor, and Mount is presumably hoping that Chelsea’s all-time record goalscorer does indeed return to Stamford Bridge. The midfielder was a key part of Derby County’s promotion push under Lampard in 2018/19, making 35 league appearances and scoring eight goals.

Now 20 years old, Mount will hope to make a breakthrough at his parent club next season. Having now got two full seasons under his belt as a professional – first at Vitesse, then with the Rams – he will feel ready for the Premier League.

Ethan Ampadu

The extent of Chelsea’s loan operation is well known, but Ampadu has hitherto avoided being sent for a temporary spell away from west London. Signed from Exeter in 2017, the Welshman has instead been a fringe member of the first-team squad in each of the last two seasons.

The midfielder played seven times under Conte in 2017/18, before making a further five appearances for Sarri’s side last time out. Despite still being only 18, Ampadu will back himself to reach double figures in the upcoming campaign.

Reece James

Manchester United were linked with James earlier in the summer, but it would be a huge surprise if Chelsea let the talented youngster leave – particularly to join a big-six rival in the Premier League. The 19-year-old excelled on loan at Wigan in 2018/19, when he missed only one of their 46 Championship matches.

Cesar Azpilicueta will remain the Blues’ first-choice right-back next term, but the role of understudy is up for grabs with the futures of Victor Moses and Davide Zappacosta uncertain. James will hope he can fulfil that role at Stamford Bridge.

Kurt Zouma

It feels like a long time ago now, but Zouma was one of Chelsea’s rare bright spots in an otherwise disappointing 2015/16. However, he suffered a serious knee injury in February of that campaign and has yet to get his career at Stamford Bridge back on track.

The Frenchman has spent the last two seasons out on loan, first at Stoke and then at Everton in 2018/19. He is still only 24, though, and he could force his way back into the reckoning at Chelsea in the months to come.

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Appointing Frank Lampard would be a risk for Chelsea despite his legendary status

In the end, the decision was taken out of Chelsea’s hands. Maurizio Sarri’s future looked uncertain throughout the second half of last season, but a third-place finish in the Premier League and a Europa League triumph made it difficult for the club’s hierarchy to fire the Italian – even if they were still unsure whether he was the right man to lead them into the 2019/20 campaign.

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8 Premier League players to watch at the Africa Cup of Nations

Mohamed Salah (Egypt)

It is not just because of their status as hosts that Egypt are favourites to win this year’s Africa Cup of Nations. Salah was nowhere near full fitness at the World Cup last summer, which will make him even more determined to fire his country to glory on home soil. The Liverpool forward scored 27 goals in all competitions for his club side in 2018/19, and he is a good bet to finish as top scorer this summer given that Egypt’s attack will be geared towards getting the best out of him. Continue reading

8 England-based players to watch at the Gold Cup

Raul Jimenez (Mexico)

It is difficult to envisage Mexico not winning the Gold Cup this summer, even if they will have to make do without Carlos Vela, Hirving Lozano and Javier Hernandez. The absence of that trio means Jimenez will be the main man in attack, with the Wolves frontman looking to build on an excellent season at club level. Mexico should take nine points from nine in Group A and are heavy favourites to win the tournament for a record-extending 11th time, so Jimenez is a good shoot for the Golden Boot.

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7 Premier League players to watch at the Copa America

Sergio Aguero (Argentina)

Argentina’s embarrassment of attacking riches throughout the last decade has not been sufficient to bring them a trophy at senior level. Lionel Messi, 32 later this month, is running out of time to scoop an international honour, while Aguero is similarly closer to the end of his career than the start of it.

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No need for despondency at Tottenham, who are well ahead of schedule

Following a lengthy three-week build up, Tottenham Hotspur’s chances of winning the Champions League were significantly damaged within just 22 seconds of the first whistle on Saturday night.

After Liverpool had raced forward in an attempt to get their noses in front early on, Moussa Sissoko was penalised when Sadio Mane’s cross struck his outstretched arm. Sissoko may have been a little unfortunate to see the ball ricochet off his chest and then hit his arm, but extending it away from his body to that extent was a needless risk that gave Mohamed Salah the opportunity to draw first blood in the second minute.

That strike made Spurs’ task harder, but there was still plenty of time to get back into the match and they will have drawn inspiration from their sensational comeback from three goals down on aggregate in the semi-finals against Ajax. This time, though, there was to be no dramatic turnaround. Mauricio Pochettino’s men enjoyed plenty of possession for the remainder of the encounter without ever sufficiently testing Alisson in the opposition goal. And although Liverpool, who made sure of victory with a well-taken goal by Divock Origi in the closing stages, did not play particularly well either, the onus was on Tottenham because of the scoreline.

Games as big as the Champions League final often lead to sweeping conclusions, and although Liverpool can legitimately point to the result and argue that the end justified the means, the Madrid showpiece could have turned out very differently had Sissoko kept his arm by his side. That is not to say that Tottenham would have triumphed but for that incident – who knows, they could have lost by an even bigger margin had Liverpool needed to chase the match – but it is important to remember that minor episodes can have major effects and it would be wrong to lose perspective with regards to where Tottenham are currently at.

In Pochettino’s first campaign at the helm, Spurs missed out on Champions League qualifications. They then finished as runners-up to Leicester City in 2015/16 and Chelsea in 2016/17, before securing two more top-four finishes in the last two seasons. This represents a phenomenal stretch of consistency given that Tottenham’s net spend and wage bill are substantially lower than the teams they are competing with, namely Manchester City, Manchester United, Arsenal, Chelsea and, their victors this weekend, Liverpool. Despite the disappointment of defeat in Madrid, it is important to remember that the north Londoners are still well ahead of schedule.

“Now it’s impossible to talk and we will all be very disappointed,” Pochettino told reporters at the Wanda Metropolitano. “The season was fantastic. We need to feel proud. I feel so proud of all the players, the fans and the club. We can’t give the last moment, the last game of the season, a massive reward for our fans.

“It’s not about tactics and today before 30 seconds a penalty that changed the plans completely. It had a massive impact for the team which we had to manage but the team was great, because of course it was difficult after.

“When that happens, it’s so painful but at the same time we need to be calm in the way that we talk and analyse the things because the season was fantastic and we need to feel proud. To finish in the top four and play in the Champions League final for the first time in the history of the club. It’s a thing that is going to be painful because we lost the final but in the same time we need to be positive.”

Pochettino later refused to commit his future to the club when invited to do so, but it is likely that he did not want to discuss such a big question in the immediate aftermath of the game. It would be a surprise if the Argentinian departed at this stage, but he is right to seek assurances from Daniel Levy about the club’s objectives going forward. Tottenham have had a fantastic five years, but they must ensure that their first ever Champions League final appearance is the start of something, not the end.

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Arsenal’s season hinges on Europa League, but this was always going to be a long-term job for Emery

A top-four finish was within touching distance. After a 2-0 victory over Newcastle United in their 31st game of the Premier League season, Arsenal moved above Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester United and into third place in the table. They may have only had a two-point lead over the Red Devils in fifth, but Unai Emery’s side had by far the easiest run-in of the four teams competing for the two remaining Champions League spots behind Manchester City and Liverpool. A return to Europe’s foremost club competition looked high likely.

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