Alex Iwobi is the only bright spark in a very poor looking Everton side

Everton manager Marco Silva looked incredibly glum at the weekend when Everton were beaten by Premier League newcomers Aston Villa, 2-0 at Villa Park. And after spending over £100m since his arrival in the dugout he had every right to be, with his players but also with himself.

In their defeat to Aston Villa, Everton looked toothless, disjointed and without hardly any attacking imagination. They looked incredibly oridinary for a side that are supposed to be taking forward steps. Whilst Silva can be disappointed with the players, he was the one that chose them and it seemed odd that again he didn’t start the game with Moise Kean the striker they have bought from Juventus.

Once Silva introduced Kean and then Alex Iwobi from the bench, everything seemed to change for the club. There was more pace and zip and in fact with Iwobi only getting just over 20 minutes to prove himself he did more than any other Everton player and was arguably their own personal man of the match. He rounded off a good display by one of his shots hitting the post and whilst Kean looks rusty he set up a great chance late on too.

Surely Silva has to change the team up and start both Iwobi and Kean for Everton’s next match which will take place on Sunday against Wolves. Right now Everton are really underachieving, and it looks like their search for any trophy could be extended to 25 years. The clubs last piece of silverware was the 1995 FA Cup.

Where will it all end for Everton though who despite spending money seem to be staying in with the odd very good result and is Silva really the right man to take charge of the club? A recent financial report suggested that Everton had been the 5th most spending team of the last five years in the Premier League, and yet have not even looked close to winning any trophy, and the league title seems like its light years away.

As for Silva, he has had 6 bad months from his 9 in charge last season and the club limped out of domestic competitions far too easily. They have 4 points from their opening 3 games which already suggests that they are on par for finishing with the same type of points and league position as last season. But judging Silva seems harsh at this early stage, but if he cannot get Everton onto the next level by the end of the year then the pressure will and should mount.

For now Everton aren’t going backwards but they are not going forwards too and that must be quite depressing for any fans of the famous Merseyside club.

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Operation Departures: Paratici’s Dilemma

After securing the signing of Matthijs de Ligt, many lauded Juventus’ mercato and showered their sporting director, Fabio Paratici, with praise. After all, they had just signed one of Europe’s elite young defenders, fighting off Barcelona and a host of other clubs in the process.

However, in recent weeks, in an effort to balance the books, Juventus have looked to offload their high-prized assets on the cheap. First, Moise Kean left for Everton with no buy-back clause inserted in the deal. Then, Joao Cancelo was off to Manchester City for 30 million euros and Danilo, after just a season in Turin. Now, the bianconeri’s top brass are actively listening to offers for their jewel, Paulo Dybala. 

With Financial Fair Play restrictions in place, clubs, at the very least, must show they are spending as much as they’re making; generally speaking. Following the signature of Cristiano Ronaldo and de Ligt, sales were always going to be necessary.

Factor in that Juventus haven’t progressed deep into the Champions League since making the final in 2017 missing out on crucial revenue, it’s clear players were going to be sold. Let’s not forget, the Turin-based giants also reported a significant financial operating loss in their last fiscal year. Fabio Paratici is the man largely responsible with dealing with this, largely through high-profile sales. 

While, in an ideal world, Paratici would find buyers for Gonzalo Higuain, Mario Mandzukic, Sami Khedira and Blaise Matuidi among others, reality is a different beast altogether. Currently, all of these players are on the wrong side of 30 and are on massive wages in comparison to their output.

Many of them have got a host of offers, but have regularly refused to leave the club. And why should they? Most, if not all, of the offers received for the bianconeri’s wantaways include lower salaries at less prestigious clubs. This has forced Paratici’s hand in his first mercato at the helm and has dictated which players he can and cannot sell. Simply put, there’s a bigger buying market for Dybala than there is for Higuain, for example.

Juventus boss Maurizio Sarri recently alluded to this in a press conference.

As I said before, I can talk to Dybala all I like, but the market goes in a certain direction and my opinion counts for zero. We have to cut six players, that’s all there is to it,” said the former Napoli boss, as reported by Football Italia.

When thinking about Sarriball, you would expect Dybala to be one of the first names of the team-sheet. After a season in Massimiliano Allegri’s rigid setup, the Argentine could explode in a false-nine role. In Sarri’s first press conference at the club, the veteran tactician mentioned La Joya alongside Douglas Costa and Cristiano Ronaldo as players he was hoping to count on.

If Juventus are forced to sell Dybala this summer to balance the books, they will undoubtedly regret their decisions to hand Mandzukic and Khedira extensions while failing to definitively offload Higuain. Quite frankly, neither of these three players fit into Sarri’s tactics as well as Dybala does.

Sarri elaborated on this situation further and lashed out against Juventus’ current state.

It puts me in a difficult position. The last 20 days of the market will be difficult for us, it’s an embarrassing situation, because we risk having to leave out players of a very high level,” said Sarri.

It has also affected his pre-season preparation. Given the uncertainty surrounding the transfer window, Sarri has largely rotated between Higuain, Mandzukic and Dybala. Rather than sticking with one preferred front-line and implementing his mechanisms with them, Sarri has been forced to adapt. As a result, it may be long before we see Sarriball fully introduced in Turin.

With just over two weeks left to the mercato, it will be interesting to see who Juventus decide to move. Reports suggest Higuain will join Roma while Mandzukic favours a Bundesliga move. However, as we’ve seen, there are no guarantees and we can just as easily see, fan favourite, Dybala on his way out. Whether you like it or not, buckle your seat-belts Juventus fans, you’re in for a bumpy end to the summer transfer window.

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Juventus sell Moise Kean to Everton

The meteoric rise of Moise Kean will continue at Everton, as Juventus decided to sell him to Everton for €27.5M plus €2.5M potential bonuses, as announced on Wednesday. The 19-year-old starlet played a total of 17 games last minute, scoring seven times, with an average of a goal every 89 minutes. The Old Lady did not manage to include a buy-back clause in the deal, but will reportedly have the right to match future offers if and when Everton opt to sell the striker.

The contract of the Italian teenager played a major part in the transfer, as the Bianconeri officials have been negotiating an extension for months, but without agreeing to terms with his agent Mino Raiola. Thus, he was poised to enter the season with a deal that expired in June 2020. He penned a five-year one with the English club and his salary will be six times what he was making in Turin.

The Juventus front-line was and remains is flux, with four candidates for two spots as centre-forward. It was unclear what kind of role Kean would have under Maurizio Sarri and whether he truly fit in the new coach’s schemes or really next to Cristiano Ronaldo. The two barely played together last season and the young attacker had his best moments while filling in when the Portuguese ace was injured or simply rested.

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Are Everton heading for an average season yet again?

There has been lots of talk within Everton about bringing in new players and improving on last season, but as it stands Marco Silva’s team look like they are stalling with just 4 days of the transfer window left.

There has been talk about splashing the cash. It started with the possible transfer of Wilfried Zaha from Crystal Palace but that seems to have fallen apart. Palace are holding out for £80m for a player that has not scored more than 10 goals in any given league season. While Zaha has many good qualities about it, but the price tag seems too much but there lies the problem and why the price is too much. Palace would have to give Manchester United his former club up to 20% if any deal went through, and that is why his price has been inflated.

Everton are offering around £55m for Zaha but Palace look like they won’t budge. It did look at one point that Zaha would go to Arsenal but that fell through again over money, but then Arsenal signed Nicolas Pepe from Lille and the rest is history.

Everton’s next choice seemed to be Juventus forward Moise Kean who looks impressive. Kean was given a chance in the team when Juventus had in theory wrapped up the league and for the last 2 months he played well, scored goals and looks very promising. His price tag of under £30m also looks like a stunning bargain. But the talk has gone quiet and this is not a great time to be an Everton fan.

Also Everton were hit with new signing Fabian Delph getting injured in a friendly match only five minutes into his career with the club. The injury is not thought to be serious but he could still miss the beginning of the season- and he has a history of getting injured.

Truth is for Everton that when it is all said and done the only real signing of merit the club have made is Andre Gomes for £22m who was already at the club on loan last season. There has simply been no progress in the transfer market for the club. Yes Tottenham have got away with that for a few windows, but they had and have a quality team, Everton don’t.

Also let’s not forget how the club let Idrissa Gueye join PSG for only £26m. Gueye had proven to be a stalwart in Everton’s midfield last season, and the feeling is that they have let a very good player go for too cheap.

There is still until the end of the week for something to happen, and Everton fans will be hoping it does, because it does not look good for the club next season who might end up having a very average one if the board don’t act quick.

 

Busy week for Everton in the transfer market

While things have been suspiciously quiet at Anfield this summer, the blue half of Merseyside has been getting down to business in recent days.

Everton look to have secured the signing of Juventus’ young striker Moise Kean while the club’s impressive midfielder Idrissa Gueye has departed for Ligue 1 giants Paris Saint Germain.

Gueye, 29, completed his medical in Paris earlier this week and leaves Everton after three years at Goodison Park. He had formed a successful partnership at the base of the midfield with Andre Gomes for The Toffees last season.

Everton signed Gomes on a permanent deal already this summer but the Portuguese player will now have to work in tandem with another midfielder in Gueye’s absence. Continue reading

Opinion: Juventus could still use Higuain’s services

After addressing the midfield and the centre-back positions in the first month of the transfer market, Juventus management will now shift focus to untangling the logjam in the attack. Coach Maurizio Sarri has carried on with 4-3-3 and, with Cristiano Ronaldo pegged as left winger, there are four men who can play as centre-forward on the roster. So inevitably at least one of the centre-forwards will have to head elsewhere.

The pairing of Paulo Dybala and Moise Kean would be the ideal landing spot after all the maneuvering, mainly due to age and potential-related reasons. Continue reading

Three players to solve Liverpool’s forward problem this summer

Jurgen Klopp Liverpool transfer window

Suggesting that Liverpool have a problem with their forwards is a little disingenuous given they don’t. Liverpool’s forward three is among the best in Europe. Roberto Firmino is the best false nine around, and Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah are both world-class wingers.

Their respective goal tallies over the last two years stand as a testament to that. Even when Salah is supposed to be having a bad season, as some will tell you this year was, he still finished as the joint top scorer in the Premier League.

Every club in world football would take these three players without a moment’s hesitation. That includes all of the ‘elite’ sides and every single one of Liverpool’s rivals. Indeed, Real Madrid have been linked with both Mane and Salah this summer. Continue reading

Patience Needed With Current Crop of Azzurrini

The U-21 European Championships are unlike any other tournament in world football. Typically, most rosters feature a blend of established talents, your Dani Ceballos’ and Federico Chiesas of the world, mixed with players eager to make a name for themselves on the world stage. What this tournament inevitably leads to, unfortunately for most, is the exaggeration of their talents. While their ability isn’t in question as most of them are, without a doubt, the best their age group has to offer, it’s rare to see an U-21 international push on and live up to the hype, bar a select few. This is no different with the current group of Azzurrini.

While many of them will go on to become established internationals, a majority of them will fizzle out and eventually fade into the background of the hype machine that once proclaimed them to be world beaters. Currently, Azzurrini boss Luigi Di Biagio has one of the most talented group of players at his disposal, yet, it would still be wise to exhibit patience. After all, most of these players are yet to establish themselves as regulars at their respective clubs, for one reason or another.

Take Federico Chiesa, for example. After breaking out onto the scene at Fiorentina, the winger is now seen as the future of Italian football. His electric performances against Spain and Poland have pushed him further into the limelight of the nation, and have now burdened him with immense expectations. Recently, it’s been reported that the new Fiorentina brass have slapped an 100 million euro price-tag on the young man. Remember, he’s just 21, and has only just come of his first full season as a regular starter in Tuscany.

For some, this newfound responsibility acts as the catalyst for their progression, while for others, it slowly eats away at them until their talent becomes a thing of the past and they become average, middling professionals. Look at Mattia De Sciglio, who was once dubbed the ‘Next Maldini’. Today, the defender is a reliable fullback, but is the furthest thing from a world beater.

Luckily for Italian football, it appears Chiesa thrives with this pressure on his shoulders and spurs him on to become a better player. You would expect no less from the son of Enrico Chiesa, if we’re being honest. But not every player is like the Fiorentina man. Looking at Di Biagio’s roster, a number of players stick out from the rest: Moise Kean, Nicolo Zaniolo, Alex Meret and Nicolo Barella among others. These players, at one point or another, demonstrated the potential to become world beaters. While getting lost in their hype, it’s easy to forget they’re still teenagers with the world at their feet.

If the past is anything to go by, heaping immense expectations on these teens inevitably leads to failure. For every Alessandro Del Piero that has emerged from the Azzurrini, there is a Domenico Berardi. Italian media loves to sensationalize the current crop of talents, but they would be wise to exhibit caution, and allow these players to become their own men.

Like in anything in life, we must learn from the past and our mistakes not to repeat them. Despite these warnings, and there have been many, Italian football seems dead-set on proclaiming this generation as calcio’s saving grace.

Perhaps it stems from a burning desire to reach former heights, or perhaps there’s something larger at play here; a cultural aspect, of sorts. The need to keep the memories of former greats alive or, on the other side of the spectrum, the need for something new; something better than what we already have. Regardless, Italians are playing dangerous game forcing their talents to skip crucial steps in their progression and expect them to become great overnight. Eventually, it may come back to haunt the current iteration of Azzurrini, as it has so often occurred in years past. As always, only time will tell.

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Matthaus links Rodriguez to Juventus and Higuain’s future update

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Lothar Matthaus revealed in an interview to AS Colombia that he believes James Rodriguez will move to Old Lady after chatting with the player: “I met him during the celebration for the last Bayern title and talked about everything, from Colombia to the history of football. I think he will join Juventus: he is very close with Cristiano Ronaldo, they are in touch and the Portuguese would like to bring him to Turin. James is a great assist man and they do brilliant things together.” Rodriguez will leave Bundesliga as the club did not pick the €45M option to buy him, so it will be up to Real Madrid to decide his future. He has often been linked to the Madama in the past, but in recent weeks he appeared way closer to Napoli, which is helmed by his former coach Carlo Ancelotti. He scored 15 times and provided 20 helpers in 67 apperances in the last two years in Germany. Continue reading

Roberto Mancini Puts Italy on the Right Track

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Since being appointed as Italy boss, Roberto Mancini has set Gli Azzurri on the right path, and has guided them to four wins out of four in their Euro 2020 qualifying campaign thus far. 

In their most recent clashes, Italy travelled to Athens to take on Greece, and dispatched their European counterparts within thirty-three minutes, by a score of 3-0.

In their next game against Bosnia, Mancini’s men fell behind early, but mounted a second half comeback to prevail by a score of 2-1. Under Gian Piero Ventura, the side lacked character, and would have likely dropped points in a game like this. With these two wins, Italy now find themselves comfortably in first place, scoring 13 goals, and conceding one in the process. In addition to getting results, this is the best football Italy have played in recent memory, and have demonstrated an identity.

Once again, Mancini was rewarded for sticking with the highly technical midfield of Nicolo Barella, Jorginho, and Marco Verratti, and now has his side well on their way to the upcoming Euros. Together, the trio provide a blend of youth, experience and quality on the ball, and offer the national team some much needed creativity in the final third.

While many initially doubted the midfield’s defensive awareness given their smaller frames, Verratti, Jorginho and Barella have demonstrated they are capable of offering solidity to their back four. Given their similar profiles, Verratti and Jorginho often interchange roles at the base of the midfield, and don’t give their opponents a reference point.

With Barella making late, unmarked, runs into the box, it makes for a truly malleable midfield; something the Azzurri have sorely lacked over the past four years. The Cagliari captain’s drive has been rewarded, and already has two goals on the qualifying campaign.

Much like it’s the case in the midfield, Mancini has not shied away from taking risks with his front three. Since his appointment, the former Inter tactician has called up a number of up and coming talents, including the likes of Moise Kean and Federico Chiesa among others.

In the past, Ventura was afraid to take risks, and typically stuck with Ciro Immobile and Andrea Belotti up front, despite their struggles. When both strikers were misfiring, Italy did not have a plan B, and failed to qualify for the World Cup for the first time in six decades. Rather than having set starters, like his predecessor, Mancini has mixed and matched at will, and has used a plethora of forwards across the front line. This keeps the Italian forwards on their toes, and ensures no one gets complacent. Moreover, if Italy are struggling in the final third, Mancini is able to turn to different solutions.

One player that has benefitted immensely from Mancini’s reign has been Napoli’s Lorenzo Insigne. The diminutive forward was reduced to a bit-part role under Ventura, and largely struggled to make an impact on the pitch when called upon. Under Mancini, Insigne has established himself as a crucial player, and has scored two goals in his last two games. In addition, his assist to Verratti against Bosnia helped Gli Azzurri seal all three points.

On the defensive end, on the other hand, Mancini has decided to maintain the status quo and has typically gone with Giorgio Chiellini and Leonardo Bonucci. However, the Italian tactician has tinkered with his fullbacks, alternating between Leonardo Spinazzola, Emerson and Gianluca Mancini. While Mancini is a centre-back, he offers the Azzurri tactical flexibility from the right-hand side of defence, and often drops as a third centre-back when in possession. With the Atalanta man dropping centrally, it allows the left-back to get forward and overload with his winger.

While it’s still early days for Gli Azzurri, the future looks bright under Roberto Mancini. Using a blend of experience, and youth, the Italian tactician has demonstrated character both in his selections, and tactical setups. With no one’s place in the team secured, Italy have – for the first time in a while – shown hunger, and a desire to return to the top.

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