Why is Leicester City’s Harry Maguire worth £80m?

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Leicester City’s Harry Maguire is being chased by both Manchester clubs with City, the current champions looking the favourites from the two to get his signature. But the asking price seems incredibly inflated. The Foxes want £80m for their defender- the genuine question is, how did they get to this figure?

Maguire has won no major trophies in his career and he is 26- he has never played for a top 4 side, not even top 6. Though he did join Leicester the season after they were declared champions. Has the price been inflated then because he is a current England international player with 20 caps- it does seem so.

The reality of the situation is that in the current price market Maguire is worth no more than £35m, and teams valuations of players has gone through the roof. Sadly for Premier League clubs selling on English players it has always been like this, when a few extra million seems to attach onto any fee.

City and United have the money but City have taken over United now and they will most likely get his signature. No one is denying that Maguire could become a better all round player at City and put in good displays, but City will not be making any money on the player in the future- indeed his value if sold for £80m will start to decrease the moment he puts pen to paper.

The reality of it is is that Leicester have no right to ask so much for the player, the price compared to what Maguire has achieved has no justification, plain and simple.

England’s manager Gareth Southgate hasn’t helped the situation, he once ill advised that Maguire was one of the best defenders in the world. Again totally unjustified. Maguire is a good defender and would never have made it in England’s set up otherwise and starred of course in a World Cup which saw England reach the semi-final stages. But one of the best makes little sense for a player who has played in his career for the likes of Hull and Leicester and we need to be realistic of that fact.

For now United have lodged a £70m bid which is ridiculous in and of itself, and Leicester had the bravado to turn that down and then ask for £10m extra. The fear for United is that their rivals will seriously start sniffing around and come in for the player. But no team is getting a good deal or bargain here.

 

 

Tottenham’s Harry Kane could burn out if he doesn’t protect himself

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It was unfortunate to see such a lethargic display from Harry Kane in the Champions League final after the Tottenham striker returned from injury and was immediately put into the first team. Kane is one of the very best prospects in England but the player needs to be protected and mainly from himself.

We do not have to doubt Kane’s goal scoring abilities and his eye for goal and work rate in the area is brilliant. He is so precise and if anyone does want to doubt Kane’s abilities as a striker then his 164 goals in 253 appearances for Tottenham should put that to bed.

But here’s the problem and it cuts both ways with coaches and Kane himself- he needs to know and they need to know when the player needs rest.

Before the Champions League final Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino was asked why he brought Kane straight back into the team forcing Lucas Moura the hat trick hero in the semi-final win over Ajax to be dropped to the bench? Pochettino reacted as if the interviewer was pulling his leg, such is Kane’s importance to the team, but it was arguably wrong to think that and it was a genuine question. Had Moura been returning from injury, he still would have started the final from the bench, and yet Kane was brought in. True he is special to the club but he was still slightly rusty after having missed almost the last two months of football. It was the wrong choice to start him.

That was proven in a game where Kane was almost invisible. Again not his fault, this was the final and he wasn’t about to miss it but Kane’s inclusion actually helped Liverpool, because it felt for the most part that Tottenham were playing with 10 men, he was that quiet.

A few days later England were playing the Netherlands in the UEFA Nations Cup and England manager Gareth Southgate absolutely did the right thing in not starting Kane but bringing him on later in the game. No matter if England eventually lost the match, Kane’s presence or not wouldn’t have made the difference as he is still clearly recovering.

The problem was that after the game Kane was interviewed where he remained positive and upbeat and told journalists that he would get right back to fitness, go for a run on the beach and hit the gym.

Whilst Kane’s words would seem normal to any day footballer who is 25 remember the problem is that Kane doesn’t seem to be listening to his own body. He missed two chunks of the season because of injury and his quality is such that Tottenham cannot really afford to be without him for long periods. And when he gets injured his willingness to get fit quicker than expected seems to hamper his recovery time. So when he is ready to return, he actually really isn’t.

Southgate did the right thing Pochettino to a lesser extent didn’t. But Kane also needs to listen to his own body, the last thing anyone wants to see is a career where he keeps picking up injuries here and there and doesn’t get a good run of games under his belt. He is a special talent and he needs to be looked after.

Caution should be applied as Gareth Southgate’s England reach UEFA Nations League semi finals

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England have had a superb calendar year which has culminated in reaching their second competition semi final in a row, the UEFA Nations League after this summers World Cup. Ironically to do so they had to beat Croatia, the team that they lost to at the World Cup.

The game against Croatia which was held at Wembley Stadium in London was awash with revenge, but it was the away team that took the lead, and with just thirty minutes left it looked like England would yet again lose to the World Cup runners up. But an equaliser followed and Harry Kane got the winner and it’s true that the weight of that World Cup loss was lifted.

The nation is lifted and England will now go to play in the semi finals in Portugal next June- their opponents will not be known until December when the draw is made.

The press have put down England’s opponents. Croatia have been called wannabe’s whilst there was plenty of jibes at Germany after they were relegated from League A. The question though is does any of this really matter? After all Croatia did knock England out of the World Cup and did reach the final. Germany won the World Cup in 2014, and although they have had a rough 12 months will bounce back. Some respect needs to be afforded to these teams.

Imagine if England go on to win the Nations Cup, it would be the first real trophy England would have won since winning the World Cup in 1966- no we are not going to count the Le Tournai tournament in 1998 where the winning captain Alan Shearer had a face like thunder. If England win, the country may just go into hyperbole. But hold your horses, this isn’t the European Championships and it isn’t the World Cup, it is just a glorified competition borne from UEFA that just adds more football to an over inflated season.

In some ways you can’t blame coach Gareth Southgate and the players- they play too win, and there is a trophy and prestige to be won. You beat who is in front of you and now there is an extra final to be played, so of course you are going to take it seriously. But should pundits and fans? Does there not come a time where we can separate the competitions that matter? If we fixate over every small competition are we all just settling for second best? So if England do win it, congratulations, but hopefully there won’t be an everlasting love in, after all it is a competition that just feels like batched glorified friendlies with points.

Southgate is a good coach, a good listener and has a real chemistry with his players. This squad wants to play for him, and let’s not be churlish here, England does have a very good team, good enough to win Euro 2020? Right now that would be in balance, but in 2 years time with progress made and no hitches, England have every chance. Don’t fall for second best has to be the mindset here. Play these games, win them and move on to what really matters.

 

Celebration of Rooney’s underwhelming career is the perfect reminder of how far England have come

Wayne Rooney’s grand farewell at Wembley on Thursday night split opinion. Things that are out of the ordinary tend to, and a return special appearance of this ilk had not been seen for an England international.

It gave extra meaning to a match played in front of thousands of empty seats, it gave Rooney a last ovation (well, several of them) from the fans who saw him at his best and worst in a Three Lions jersey.

The match itself was a bit of a damp squib. A young USA team was no match for even England’s second string, which allowed Rooney to enjoy a relaxed spell on the pitch in the second half.

His international career ends with 120 caps and 53 goals. No other England international has scored more. Rooney won the England Men’s Senior Player of the Year on four occasions and captained his country numerous times. All of these things are impressive, and he will be remembered for a long time as a very good, committed England international.

The numbers are impressive, but Rooney’s international career was ultimately forgettable.

Some of that is down to the immense hype as a teenager, some is down to team failings. The now 33-year-old served the national team for a long time, his durability as impressive as his records. In those 120 appearances, though, aside of the landmarks, there is a lack of defining moments (positive ones, at least). Rooney never had his Beckham against Greece free-kick, he never had his Owen against Argentina wonder goal.

A lot of that was out of his hands. Injuries and dysfunctional teams limited his effectiveness, particularly as managers could never seem to decide where he slotted into the side best of all. Rooney suffered alongside the Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard midfield mess – he was seldom allowed the freedom that he perhaps needed.

Rooney’s grand goodbye on Thursday might have been over the top for some. There’s plenty to criticise about Rooney’s international career, but he was available for England more than many others and his numbers secure him a place in England’s history. The timing of this, however, was perfect as Southgate’s younger, better England move onto the next chapter.

It might have all been about Rooney, but good performances from Jadon Sancho and Callum Wilson were just another reminder of the bright future of England’s national team. Moving on from the awkwardly named Golden Generation has understandably taken time. Rooney’s night under the arch was a full stop to an era of disappointment.

England’s performances since their World Cup heartbreak have shown that their journey to the semi-final will/should not be the peak of this generation. Southgate might not have players with the reputations of Rooney, Lampard or Gerrard, but he has a lot of talent and a clear plan.

Rooney deserved his big night. His England career, though, could look even more disappointing in a few years if the Three Lions continue on this trajectory.

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‘Farewell’ for Rooney is pathetic

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There was a time when earning an England cap really meant something.

It was the absolute pinnacle of every player’s career, and a responsibility that each took seriously.

The difficulty of consistently finding oneself in the senior set-up was obvious by the lack of players that had managed to amass anywhere close to 100 caps, let alone exceed that number.

In the recent past, the handing out of caps has become more and more contentious, but none more so that the most recent; a 120th appearance for Wayne Rooney, two years after his last game for his country. Continue reading

England manager Gareth Southgate is right to question why the Premier League kicked off so early this season

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It took just 27 days after England were defeated by Belgium in this summers World Cup for the 3rd place play off for the English Premier League to kick off. When it did on August 10th it was, as ever. welcomed but it did feel that the league was starting incredibly soon after the World Cup.

Neither player or fan have had much time to recuperate after such a major finals and now England manager Gareth Southgate has spoken out about this. Southgate said: “Everyone adapts their training load appropriately. But I think when you see the league, there are a lot of teams who haven’t started yet at the level when they are at their maximum. There have been a lot of injuries across certainly our league, too. I don’t know about the rest of Europe.

Southgate added: “I don’t really understand why our league started so early but they did, so it’s been a really difficult situation for the clubs. Some of the clubs couldn’t field a team without, look at Tottenham Hotspur, who had so many players in the semi-finals of the World Cup. They had to put players straight into matches on the back of very little pre-season. It was an impossible situation for the coaches really. I didn’t really know, and I hadn’t looked into when the season started until when we got back from the tournament. Maybe they were expecting us to be back by the end of June. I assumed the rest of the world were going to be there until the middle of July.

“It’s always easy to make a comment like that and not know the complex scenario the decision makers had to go to, because that happens to me quite a lot. But everybody knew when the final was going to be, and the semi-final, and that the players would be away for a period of time.”

It was quite a statement for Southgate who, as an example has seen the national side looking weary and tired as he hooks up with them for their Nations League matches. But Southgate is spot on in his assessments of why did the Premier League start so early?

Given that there is no major tournament next summer it seems odd, and the league could have started in late August or even at the beginning of September. The Spanish and Italian leagues both started a week later than the Premier League. And it was no surprise to find that the German Bundesliga did not kick off until the end of August, this is the same league that takes a month off for Christmas and New Year.

An explanation from the Premier League would be welcomed, though one would not want to hold their breathe on a reply.

 

 

Ross Barkley can offer something England have lacked in midfield

Maurizio Sarri believes it is time for Ross Barkley to get back into the England squad, “I think he can return to the national team. He is improving week by week.”

Barkley agreed with his manager, he said, “I’m playing a big role in the side at the minute and I believe my performances show I’m capable of being in the England squad.”

Barkley spent the majority of last season recovering from a serious injury. Sarri, even in his first few weeks as Chelsea manager, has shown more interest in the former Everton man than Antonio Conte did last term. Barkley started the Community Shield, has appeared in six of Chelsea’s Premier League matches and played the full 90 minutes as Chelsea beat PAOK in their opening Europa League group match.

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Southgate opts for potential and talent over form, and that can only be a positive for England

Gareth Southgate’s new contract keeping him as England manager until 2022 was announced on Thursday. In the same press conference, Southgate named his 25-man England squad for the upcoming Nations League matches against Spain and Croatia.

In keeping with all of his tenure to date, Southgate backed the youngsters. Jadon Sancho, James Maddison and Mason Mount were all selected, with Dele Alli and Jesse Lingard out injured.

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Eddie Howe continues to enhance his credentials

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Three games into the new Premier League season and Bournemouth are unbeaten and flying high.

Seven points from three games is a fine return for one of the ‘unfancied’ sides, with respect, and their performances include two comeback wins – away at West Ham and at home to Everton.

Their opening day victory over Cardiff City was a banker in all honesty, but the way in which they’ve gone about their work since has all of the hallmarks of their coach, Eddie Howe. Continue reading

Gareth Southgate’s management a huge contributor to England’s optimism

southgateWhen England crashed out of the 2018 World Cup at the semi-final stage, losing 2-1 to Croatia after extra time, a nation was silenced. The England fans, so vociferous in their support for the Three Lions on the shirt and the 11 heroic ones on the pitch, were left gutted. For this one glimmering summer, the optimism seemingly extinguished long ago started to flicker back into existence. Football was coming home, they thought. But it didn’t. However, instead of the usual what-ifs and why-didn’t-theys, this time the team left with their heads held high, falling against a side who, once they grew into the match, were simply the better team on the night.

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