Christian Eriksen could become Real Madrid’s Philippe Coutinho

Real Madrid aren’t always the most discreet in their transfer business. When they want a player, the world tends to know about it. Take their pursuit of Eden Hazard over a number of years, for instance. There was no element of surprise left by the time the Belgian actually completed a move to the Spanish capital this summer.

Their pursuit of Paul Pogba is another saga which has played out in front of everyone, with Manchester United still holding firm in their £150 million valuation of the player. Real Madrid, according to reports, are unwilling and unable to pay that amount for the French midfielder and so it’s becoming increasingly likely Pogba will stay where he is for at least another season.

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For a long time, it has been presumed that Christian Eriksen would be Real Madrid’s alternative to Pogba. The Dane has already confessed his desire to leave Tottenham Hotspur this summer and the Santiago Bernabeu outfit are believed to be long term admirers. Rumours continue to swirl.

But where would Eriksen fit in at Real Madrid? He is a very different type of player to Pogba. It’s easy to see where the Frenchman could be accommodated in Zinedine Zidane’s side – on the left side of a midfield three – but Eriksen isn’t someone who likes to drive forward with the ball. Instead, he is the player who picks the final pass.

He usually does this from a position on the left side. Sure, he drifts into the middle, sometimes dropping back into the centre of midfield, but his position as it reads on the team sheet is on the left wing. He might not be a winger in the traditional sense, but that is his best place.

Real Madrid don’t have room for another left-sided attacker. They were already well-stocked for options (Vinicius Junior, Marco Asensio, Lucas Vazquez) before this summer and now they have added Hazard to their squad. How would Zidane possibly fit Hazard and Eriksen into the same side without moving one of them out of position?

Eriksen would be a signing for the sake of a signing much like Philippe Coutinho was for Barcelona 18 months. The Brazilian arrived at Camp Nou without an obvious role to play, with Coutinho now likely to be sold this summer after failing to make much of an impression. Eriksen could become Real Madrid’s very own Coutinho should he leave Spurs for the Santiago Bernabeu.

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If Real Madrid can make one more big signing, who should they target?

Real Madrid have wasted little time in overhauling their squad this summer. It became apparent fairly early on last season that fundamental change was required at the Santiago Bernabeu and so this transfer window has been a long time in the planning. Nonetheless, the speed at which Real Madrid have acted in signing players has been remarkable.

The calendar hasn’t even crossed over into July yet and Real Madrid have already spent close to £300 million on new players. They signed Eder Militao from Porto and left back Ferland Mendy from Lyon. Teenage forward Rodrygo was signed from Santos with Luka Jovic also added to the squad after a sensational season with Eintracht Frankfurt. And, of course, they finally managed to lure Eden Hazard, a long term target, from Chelsea.

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Despite all this, Real Madrid don’t appear done. The Spanish giants continue to be linked with a number of high profile targets, with a new name added to the list on a weekly basis. Financial Fair Play (FFP) means Real Madrid cannot spend much more, but there is a belief that they have room for one more big name, big money addition. So with that in mind, who should they target?

Zinedine Zidane’s most pressing need would seem to be in the centre of midfield. One of Casemiro, Toni Kroos or Luka Modric is expected to leave the Spanish capital this summer with Kroos and Modric in particular starting to fade. The latter has been frequently linked with a move to Inter Milan while the former has attracted Premier League clubs. Marcos Llorente has already been sold to Atletico Madrid.

This has led to links with Paul Pogba, a player Zidane has openly admitted to being a fan of. The Frenchman wants out of Manchester United this summer, but with the Old Trafford outfit reportedly demanding £160 million for their prize asset he could be out of Real Madrid’s reach. Christian Eriksen is another option. He too wants to leave the Premier League.

Real Madrid could instead choose to strengthen their defensive line even further, with Sergio Ramos’ future still up in the air. Kalidou Koulibaly has been mentioned as a potential target, although most intriguingly the Santiago Bernabeu club have apparently entered the race as late suitors for Matthijs de Ligt.

Of course, there are other matters for Zidane and Florentino Perez to attend to before the start of the new season. Gareth Bale, for instance, has become a thorn in their side, particularly with the Welsh winger unwilling to leave on loan. Kroos and Modric’s futures have also to be resolved. Marcelo could also leave.

But if Real Madrid do truly have the money to make one more big addition this summer, they must plot carefully. Pogba would fit the bill, but they may have to move on quickly given the price tag hanging around his neck. It might not about who would be best for Real Madrid, but who they can get.

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EPL Weekend Picks – Week 36

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With only three or four games left in the Premier League season depending on which side you are following, things are starting to get serious! The title race looks all set to go down to the wire, while the relegation battle appears closer than many thought possible just a few weeks ago. Cardiff and Brighton appear the two sides most immediately in danger of claiming 18th and the final relegation place, though Southampton are not yet mathematically safe. Title contenders Liverpool and Man City both have games where you would fancy them to win, with City’s arguably the slightly tougher game. With that said, let’s go for a 4-3-3 again and see which players are worth keeping an eye on and including in your fantasy squads this weekend.

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EPL Player of the Week – Lucas Moura (Tottenham)

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Tottenham welcomed Huddersfield Town to their new Tottenham Hotspur Stadium at the weekend, and sent the home crowd home very happy indeed with a 4-0 win over the Premier League’s bottom side. The performance was as impressive as one may expect of a side with Spurs’ quality, though goalkeeper Hugo Lloris was barely troubled throughout the game. He was only called into action in the dying stages to keep a free-kick from Huddersfield’s Juninho Bacuna out of the net, but otherwise it was a great showing all round. The star, however, was easily Spurs midfielder Lucas Moura. Victor Wanyama opened the scoring on 24 minutes, but Moura scored just three minutes later when he was played in by Moussa Sissoko – and never looked back.

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EPL Weekend Picks – Week 35

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With just a few games left in the Premier League campaign, things are starting to take shape and will continue to do so with this weekend’s round of matches. There is no Friday night fixture this week, but instead we have a big card of games on Saturday with three coming on Sunday and one on Monday evening, with games every day next week except for Thursday as matches in hand are played. Man City taking on Tottenham in Saturday’s lunchtime kickoff looks to be the biggest game of the weekend, but there are plenty of games in store to keep us guessing. Bournemouth host relegated Fulham hoping to build on their impressive 5-0 win at Brighton last weekend, while Newcastle host Southampton in Saturday’s late game. Let’s go for a 4-3-3 here!

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EPL Weekend Picks – Week 28

shawThis weekend’s Premier League fixture list promises another round of tension, goals, celebration and despair. Proceedings get underway Saturday lunchtime with the north London derby, Spurs welcoming Arsenal as their guests at Wembley. We also have a relegation clash as Brighton host bottom side Huddersfield, while on Sunday we have a west London derby – Fulham vs Chelsea – and the Merseyside derby at Goodison Park. Manchester City look to continue their bid to retain the Premier League crown when they travel to Bournemouth 24 hours before Liverpool’s trip across Stanley Park, and with both of those fixtures proving potentially slippery for the top two this weekend could well start to shape the landscape as the domestic season rolls on.

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No Kane, no Alli, no Son- Tottenham set to face their biggest test yet

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If you are a supporter of Tottenham you could well claim that despite your club being 3rd in the league, playing some wonderful football and getting great results it has felt like one thing after another- as they say in these parts of London, if it doesn’t rain it pours.

The news that Harry Kane, Son and Dele Alli will be out for extended periods at such a critical time may just be the body blow that ends Tottenham’s season, and that would be an incredibly sad story given how strong the club have been this season.

With Son everyone knew that the popular forward would be unavailable this month given that the Asian Cup has kicked off. Son’s national side South Korea were almost knocked out yesterday when they needed extra time to beat Bahrain. Now they are in the quarter finals and will be one of the favourites to go all the way to the final which takes place on February 1st. If all goes well Son could return to the club for the home game against Leicester a week later.

Son has been very good this season and has been an integral part of the team and his goals will be missed. Talking of goals even though the news was announced over a week ago, it is still devastating to think that Harry Kane could be out until March. Here is a player that has scored 160 goals for Tottenham and already 20 this season in all competitions. But with his ligament ankle injury he is set to miss crucial Premier League games, the Champions League first leg and if Tottenham make it to the Carabao Cup final he could miss that. He isn’t officially due back until the middle of March.

Make no mistake about it, Tottenham will miss their key forward and influential England international.

When Tottenham played Fulham away from home last weekend they were without Kane and Son. And so manager Mauricio Pochettino brought Dele Alli more forward. The result was that the club were rewarded and then stung. Alli scored, Tottenham won 2-1 in a very close game and then Alli was reported injured- he will miss the next 6 weeks in more crushing news for the club.

One has to wonder how Tottenham will be able to cope with such depletions? And one also has to wonder if not buying any players in the summer is now coming back to haunt the club? Surely they will dip into the transfer market even if only for a loan deal. One player that has been suggested is West Ham’s Andy Carroll which would feel like a surprise given how many times the player has been injured throughout his career.

Tottenham face potentially their biggest game of the season so far on Thursday when they visit Chelsea in the 2nd leg of the Carabao Cup semi final. Spurs take a 1-0 lead to Stamford Bridge and with all of their recent injuries are not the bookmakers favourites to advance to the final.

Pochettino will have to find a way how to play without so much striking talent on the field. Some solutions may be to advance Christian Eriksen and play Eric Lamela wide. And there might be an opportunity for youngster Oliver Skipp who is being highly touted as Spurs next best player.

This season has been incredibly tough for Tottenham, with stadium delays, no new players and Pochettino being linked to Manchester United. If any club are going to overcome the problems being hurled at them it seems that Tottenham are well prepared.

Tottenham need more than Kane to beat Barcelona

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Injuries to key players in Mauricio Pochettino’s Tottenham side couldn’t have come at a worse time for the north Londoners.

If losing Dele Alli wasn’t bad enough, to hear that Christian Eriksen, Serge Aurier, Jan Verthongen and Moussa Dembele were out too would likely have sent even the most optimistic Spurs fan into meltdown.

Hugo Lloris returns in goal in one bit of good news for ‘Poch,’ who will be heavily reliant on the talismanic Harry Kane doing the business. Continue reading

Like their stadium Tottenham’s season is back tracking

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They say things come in threes good or bad and that is true of Tottenham Hotspur. No new signings in the summer, a stadium delay and now a run of bad form which ironically stretches to 3 games.

A loss against Watford when taking the lead ended their 100% record in the Premier League and that was followed up by defeat to Liverpool at their temporary home of Wembley Stadium which has in effect became their 2nd home given how many games they have now played in the iconic venue. The defeat to Liverpool left a bad taste in the mouth because pundits and possibly fans could see the result coming a mile off.

Now the club have lost to Inter Milan in their opening Champions League game. Admittingly Spurs were unlucky and looked like they would be heading for a 1-0 victory courtesy of Christian Eriksen. But Inter struck twice in the final four minutes to claim a shock win, because Tottenham were in control of this game.

Make no mistake this defeat and witnessing 3 points grabbed out of their hands will only further affect a team that seem to have lost some confidence after their confident swagger and start to the season seen them win their first 3 games.

This Tottenham team look very tired, much of the squad played in the final stages of the World Cup and Harry Kane has been unfairly made a scapegoat of, because like tonight against Inter he missed a chance that he would have normally scored. Kane needs time off and Gareth Southgate the England manager should have given him that. Or should Kane have asked. Lionel Messi did to get out of Argentina’s recent friendlies as these important matches come thick and fast.

But surely some blame has to go to chairman Daniel Levy, who has been around for a while and seems like one of the better owners in the Premier League. But as the French call it, Levy made a faux pas not authorising or chasing new players for the squad. Yes this Tottenham team are highly talented but at times this season as evident right now some positions need cover.

Perhaps there is a slither of hope given that Son has come back from the Asian Games a tournament his country South Korea won. Son has become something of a cult player with the fans and knows how to score goals. The question is will spurs manager Mauricio Pochettino trust Son enough to leave out Kane?

Lucas and Spurs Provide a Feast For Fantasy Managers

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Our match of the weekend goes to a weekday game at Old Trafford which featured Tottenham Hotspur slipping into an interesting dimension of youthful spirit and togetherness waltzing with mature English grit and determination that has many Lillywhite loyalists dismissing the perception of a two-legged title race. A back four of Trippier, Alderweireld, Vertonghen, and Rose did the job as well as was needed, keeping a clean sheet away from home and earning a boatload of points between them.

Further up in the midfield, buyers of Christian Eriksen will rejoice as he puts some much needed returns on the board, assisting the first of Lucas Moura’s goals. Dembele rejoined the starting 11, seeing his stock increase with the first clean sheet of Spur’s season. Elsewhere,  Dele Alli’s number of goal celebration finger displays has now outpaced his goal tally, even though he had a few chances of his own, including a gilt-edge one on one with De Gea who was out of goal.

However the real winners of this week’s Fantasy EPL round were the owners of a diminutive and unproven Brazilian, unto whom the always-vindicated manager of Tottenham Hotspur granted a third consecutive start. Lucas repaid his manager’s trust by taking some of the strain off the shoulders of the normal star man, letting Kane know there would be no need to stay late at the office that night.

He put the poorly-constructed United back line to the sword and finished with a brace. If you haven’t watched his second goal, do yourself a favor; it hearkens back to a time of static center-halves stumbling over their feet trying to stop the speedy superstars of years gone by. More importantly however, it hearkens back to a time when a select group of fantasy managers spent 7 million on an unproven goal-scorer, and were rewarded with a point haul which places the young Brazilian among the best in the league so far.

On the other side, one noticed some obvious and much needed changes from the Brighton game among Manchester United’s starting lineup. Jose opted not to stick with what he bought, but rather what was there when he arrived – replacing Lindelof and Bailly  with Jones and Smalling. I’ll admit I thought Smalling did a good job of marshaling the obvious threat of Kane during what was a resilient first half for United, who looked on the whole, from Smalling, through Pogba, and up to Lukaku as if they were really trying to turn the ship around.

Unfortunately for those who picked the ladder, he missed or was denied every opportunity the enterprising United left-flank provided him. Owners of Luke Shaw, who started brightly at Leicester on the opening weekend, might be puzzled to see the lack of points he accumulated during his third consecutive ninety minute spell. But as unfortunate as the United attack proved, woe unto those who selected the ragged defensive unit which Mourinho trotted out onto the field, who were bested and bullied for most of the second half by the aforementioned tactful and mature Lost Boys of north London.

Manchester United in the meanwhile seem rooted as firmly as ever in the post-Ferguson limbo they’ve been in for years now. Jose Mourinho, who once had players breaking down walls for him, can’t quite get the best from a group  who shouldn’t look this mediocre. I don’t blame Jose for anything more than the football, but even concerning that, it must be an immense challenge when such a giant chunk of world football fans are wondering whether or not you will get the sack before Christmas.

Navigating the waters of the Manchester United squad in relation to lineups and who might score or provide from here on out is above my pay-grade you understand, so I can’t offer much advice for those looking to try. Away from home at Burnley is not an ideal place to start silencing the already enormous amount of critics, but the Special One needs some results to get the fan’s support back – and the quicker the better.

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