The three short-term replacements for the out-of-favour Romelu Lukaku

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With only a couple of weeks left until the new Premier League season starts along with the summer transfer window comes to an end, majority of the English clubs will desperately be looking to finalise the remaining deals they have outstanding whilst looking to offload a few players out of the team.

Focusing on Manchester United, there are a lot of things ongoing, from ensuring David De Gea signs a new six-year deal over the next couple of weeks to preventing both Juventus and Real Madrid from making any convincing offers for Paul Pogba. And on top of that, Romelu Lukaku has all of a sudden become the key hot topic, someone who doesn’t fit into Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s plans and is now wanted by Inter Milan.

If he was to leave before the window closes, it would leave United with Alexis Sanchez, Anthony Martial, Marcus Rashford and Mason Greenwood as the options that could cover the centre-forward role. That alone would simply not be enough to guide the team to a top-four finish, as they would potentially need around 35 to 45 league goals from the four players that have been mentioned.

With no further ado, here are the three main individuals that could replace Romelu Lukaku…

Alexis Sanchez revival

If we’re being brutally honest, we could actually assume that majority of the Old Trafford faithful at times forget that Alexis Sanchez is still a Manchester United player. Unfortunately, this really sums up his rapid decline since moving from Arsenal to the Red Devils, as his injury issues have prevented him from being available on a regular basis and it has stopped him from proving his arrogant critics wrong.

However, in the minimal games he has played for the club, he has shown some bright moments when utilised in a more central role rather than playing in his usual position out on the flanks. Having lost his burst of pace and his sharpness as a winger, it would make more than sense for him to play as a false nine in the long run, especially given that his movement and linkup play is still consistent and reliable from time to time.

Mario Mandzukic

Once United allow Lukaku to go onto joining Inter Milan, whether it’s a loan deal or a permanent move, they will instantly miss the aerial ability he provides in the penalty box and how he is seen as a target man by the wingers and the full-backs. Though, it wouldn’t be a major problem in finding someone that is similar to him and maybe even more of a complete player than the Belgian forward, with the likes of Edin Dzeko, Edinson Cavani and Timo Werner regarded or seen as the perfect examples.

For the time being, Mario Mandzukic should be seen as the ideal candidate, when you remember that both Juventus and Maurizio Sarri have a list of attacking options that includes Cristiano Ronaldo, Gonzalo Higuain, the young Moise Kean and Paulo Dybala. The 33-year-old Croatian international may go on to rethink about the upcoming season and could choose to spend a year or two in a new country or league, with the English football suiting his aerial ability and his big-game mentality, as shown in recent years.

Wissam Ben Yedder

When looking for strikers who are able to run down the channels and have the quality to get the best out of their team-mates as well as themselves, it is really hard to find at this moment of time, purely because of how majority are already at the best clubs in Europe or are in the final years of their career. On the other hand, one of the most ideal options that could potentially be available for the current system and unbalanced attack, would be none other than Sevilla’s Wissam Ben Yedder.

If one is not familiar with Ben Yedder’s style of play, then you should consider him as a similar player to Liverpool’s Roberto Firmino, someone who is simply silent but deadly in the final third of the pitch. Having produced 18 goals and nine assists in 35 league appearances last season, there should be no doubts about what he can achieve on and off the ball. And given that he will become 29-years-old next month, he will surely be open to a huge move before he reaches his final years as a professional footballer.

A week to forget for Manchester City

Let’s face it, it’s not been the best week for Pep Guardiola and Manchester City. Their Premier League Asia Trophy final loss to Wolves topped off a dismal time in China as part of their pre-season tour which looked destined for failure from the get-go, with the performances of Kevin de Bruyne and new signing Rodri the only things to shout about. Continue reading

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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Ed Woodward and the monumental mistakes he has made

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In order for a massive football club to be successful consistently on the pitch, it must be ran well and be intelligently proactive off it. It’s one of the few and huge reasons to why the likes of Barcelona, Bayern Munich and Juventus dominate their respective leagues whilst also convincingly challenge well in the Champions League, even if they haven’t won it for the last couple of years or so.

And then when you look at Manchester United, the money has always been there for the side to continue being ruthless time and time again. However, due to the lack of footballing knowledge of the Glazers as well as Ed Woodward, the most successful club in England have constantly gone back and forth whilst not finding the right medicine to take them back to where they used to belong.

Now, we dig deep into the mistakes that vice-chairman Ed Woodward has made…

Telling Rio Ferdinand he does not have a future at the club

At the time of the situation, the Red Devils went through a horrendous 2013-14 campaign under David Moyes. And to top it all of, Ed Woodward walked into the dressing room on the final day of the season and told Rio Ferdinand that his services are no longer required. The worst thing about it, the experienced individuals such as Nemanja Vidic, Patrice Evra and Ryan Giggs left in the same summer, meaning that the United squad were missing the crucial veterans they looked up to.

For sure, he wasn’t going to remain as a regular starter at 35-years-old, but his incredible experience and likeable personality would have been something that the young defenders as well as the whole squad would have benefited from. United’s defensive issues unfortunately continued and were ongoing for the next few seasons, meanwhile, Rio Ferdinand went on to play his last year as a professional footballer at Queens Park Rangers in the next campaign, before eventually retiring.

Bragging to the media that the side can buy anyone in the world

One of the most uncomfortable statements made by Ed Woodward himself was back in 2014, where he had stated how financially dominant the club were, how the club’s strategy in the transfer window was well planned and how good the scouting department are. Five years on, United are in the same position, and have not been able to evidently prove these as a fact or a statement.

The club have never been the type to brag and publicise about their financial prowess or their ability to spend around £200million to £250million each summer window. However, since the interview was conducted by Woodward, other clubs have been able to poach extra money for when their respective players moved to Old Trafford, with Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Fred and Romelu Lukaku is the best examples, three individuals who are certainly not worth the figure they were brought for.

Hiring Ole Gunnar Solskjaer without keeping an eye out for other coaches

If we are being brutally honest, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer wouldn’t have got the job on an interim-basis nor as the permanent manager of the club hadn’t it been for his previous success as a United football player. Otherwise, it would have been a similar situation of when the board had brought in David Moyes, someone who lacked the required intelligence and qualifications for the job. Looking quickly into Solskjaer’s managerial experience, he has managed only two small sides in Cardiff and Molde, which isn’t enough to warrant him a coaching position at a mid-table team such as Everton, Leicester City or Wolverhampton Wanderers, let alone a massive club like Manchester United.

On the other hand, the likes of Antonio Conte, Mauricio Pochettino and Zinedine Zidane were quietly available before the 46-year-old Norwegian international had officially got the job, which does raise the questions of how Woodward had analysed the coaches before coming to a final outcome. Given that the proven managers in Jose Mourinho and Louis Van Gaal were not able to lead the team to a title challenge, it does seem like the hierarchy opted to change their ways by bringing in someone that really understood the club’s style and mentality on and off the pitch.

Targeting/signing players by their reputation rather than by their quality

Going back to United’s recruitment and scouting process, it doesn’t seem like they actually have a plan in place and they prefer to do more business if they finish out of the Champions League spots. During the time where the club were preparing for Europa League football, they had still managed to bring in the top quality players such as Henrikh Mkhitaryan Paul Pogba and Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

Not only that, but Woodward has evidently shown his love for a marquee signing over the last couple of years, where he attempted to bring in either of Gareth Bale, Kaldiou Koulibaly or Neymar, but the end outcome itself was purely expected. With how much time and focus is wasted on trying to lure players into Old Trafford through the lucrative contracts rather than the club’s ambition, it’s a must for the recruiters to find individuals through their quality and the rising potential they have.

Top Premier League Goalkeepers in 2018/19: Vicente Guaita

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Vicente Guaita finished 7th in the fantasy rankings for Premier League goalkeepers but he must have been amongst the very best value players to have in your team for season 2018/19.

Guaita was valued at just 2m as he kept guard in goal for Crystal Palace for 20 games and that was enough to have him easily placed in the top 10 goalkeepers in England.

Whilst Guaita only accumulated 23 points he also kept an impressive 7 clean sheets, keeping the score at zero for 35% of his games. He conceded 25 goals in his games and received 2 yellow cards.

Guaita had spent his career in the Spanish league up until he joined Palace last summer in a free transfer joining from Getafe after making over 100 appearances for the club. It was always thought that Guaita would be a back up for Roy Hodgson’s Palace team, which he was. He finally made his debut for the club in December almost half way through the season.

Guaita’s first match for Palace ended in a 1-0 victory for the club when they beat Leicester, in the process he kept a clean sheet in his first game and earned 7 points. His next game is simply unfortunate for a goalkeeper, as Palace pulled off an incredible 3-2 victory at Manchester City. But because he conceded 2 goals and got booked he ended that game personally with -3 points.

But Guaita bounced back earning 14 points from his next 3 games and his signing seemed completely justified by Hodgson even on a free transfer for the 32 year old.

He had a few matches he’s rather forget- the defeats against both Manchester teams yielded 6 goals shipped and as a result in those two games he lost 8 points. And then there was a poor run that begun in mid April to the end of the season. True this run also involved the keeper picking up 7 points after he kept a clean sheet against Everton in a match that finished 0-0. But also taking those final 5 game into account Guaita did not earn any points in 4 of those games and earned a total of -5 points in that period.

What could be taken from Guaita’s half season of games is that he rarely went many matches without earning points. And Palace greatly improved as a team in the second half of the season and Guaita was certainly a key reason for that. The Spanish keeper is set to remain at Palace for next season as he initially signed a 3 year deal with the Eagles and it sure that his value will rise here from 2m. A shrewd player may just surprise themselves by a next season purchase of him.

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Marko Arnautovic gets his wish and leaves West Ham to play in China- is it the right move?

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He’s gone Marko Arnautovic finally got his wish to leave West Ham and has joined Chinese super league team Shanghai.

West Ham were so annoyed by this that they issued a very short statement to the fact and failed to even add the usual all the best wishes to the Austrian player. Arnie as he is known to West Ham fans made his feelings clear a early as January and tried to force the move then but the Hammers were having none of it.

But now he is gone and it is thought that West Ham have had to sell him for a cut price £23m instead of the near £30m they would have preferred. But was Arnie right to leave?

Though there is a feeling of bad blood between both parties, this does feel like the right decision. Why would West Ham want a player who was not commited to the cause, isn’t it just correct to sell the player? Also on his side he isn’t getting any younger. So why stay at a club who will be struggling to fight for honours next season?

Of course money is the real issue and Arnie can expect to earn near to £300,000 a week with Shanghai, a kings ransom and he could never have got that at West Ham, plus he is 30 and not getting any younger, this last big contract gives him the chance to earn well and set himself up.

Shanghai are champions too and he will be made to work hard to retain their trophies and silverware will be a reality for the player out in China.

It’s hard luck to West Ham and one will wish that the club can learn from buying a player who perhaps never had his heart setteled on the club. He scored goals and looked like a great buy, yes, but at the same time he struggled to get goals and play well against the better teams and that was also the problem. He was simply never a top level drawer player and West Ham should be able to move on from his departure which it shouldn’t affect them as much as it could.

West Ham have bought Pablo Fornals and are now in the hunt for Celta Vigo’s Maxi Gomez that is the real top drawer there and those players should be enough to make Arnie’s loss a distant memory.

Liverpool legend Steven Gerrard is right to turn down approach from Newcastle

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Steven Gerrard has turned down the chance to manage Newcastle United and it seems the ex Liverpool legend has made the right choice.

Gerrard is new to the managership game and has chosen Rangers to make his debut in the dug out. Gerrard did well and finished 2nd in the league only to Celtic and only by 9 points. That means that Rangers will be playing in the Europa League next season and he should be happy with his first season.

Rangers are trying to win their first league championship since 2011 after a troubled decade which has seen them relegated due to internal problems. Surely the challenge then for Gerrard would be to see Rangers as champions, and leaving after just one season would make little sense.

This would be underlined when it comes to Newcastle as Gerrard has seen his former Liverpool coach Rafael Benitez not treated so well at the Magpies by owner Mike Ashley, so why would Gerrard leave a stable job like Rangers to manage Newcastle who could well be a likely candidate to struggle next season and could be relegated. With Rangers there are goals to be won and one of those is finally displacing Celtic and bringing the league back to Ibrox after 9 years.

Gerrard is also showing total respect to Rangers as he has already been involved in pre season and this week Rangers will be taking on St Josephs in the Europa League qualifying. Rangers are expected to win the game against the minnows from Gibraltar but this is over 2 legs.

One could take a leaf out of Gerrard’s book though. It is still puzzling that Brendan Rodgers left Celtic in March, two months before the end of the Scottish season to take charge of Premier League team Leicester City, why not wait until the end of the season, after all that is what it is about respect.

Anyhow Gerrard has decided to stay and done the right thing, and there would have been no guarantee anyway that he would have gotten along with Mike Ashley- few seem to do.

Gerrard’s long term plan looks evident enough and that is to put Rangers back on the map to winning trophies and then one day return to the Premier League and manage his beloved Liverpool. Well if Frank Lampard can do it for Chelsea why not Gerrard for Liverpool, it will take longer to achieve but that will be his ultimate goal no doubt.

Everton could struggle next season in the Premier League with a lack of signings

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Everton are a team who could have in theory been relegated a few times in the last 20 years and yet they remain one of the longest serving clubs in top flight history in England. They have been consistently in the top league for almost 70 years and that says a lot.

Under coach Marco Silva no one is expecting the club to be relegated next season, they have a quality team but the problem is that the club have not been very active in the transfer market, and there is just 30 days to go until the window slams shut.

Everton have only brought in 3 new players and one of them was from the academy in promising defender Sebastian Kristensen who has also been playing for Danish side Lyngby.

The other player is Jonas Lossl a goal keeper who was with Huddersfield who were of course relegated last season and he will be clearly seen as a back up to Jordan Pickford. The one transfer everyone has been focused on is Andre Gomes, who was on loan at the club last season. Now Everton have made that move permanent after sealing a deal with Barcelona in the region of £22m. That’s all very well but a player who was already at the club is hardly an exciting buy.

Everton really need to bolster their squad with 2 or 3 more quality signings and given the TV money involved with football now fans should expect this. The problem for Everton of course is that they are looking to move away from Goodison Park and are probably making that a number 1 concern when it comes to their finances. Just look at how it has affected both Arsenal and Tottenham when trying to buy players, Tottenham went 2 windows with no buys. It’s unsure if a club like Everton could afford to do that.

Next season will be okay for Everton but it is a question of what do the team want? Do they want to improve on last season, reach the Europa League? Right now with their transfer policy all the team needs is a key injury to the likes of Sigurdssson or Richarlison and they could get into trouble if they have not brought in any quality. At best Everton could be finishing mid table and that would signal a step backwards.

The long suffering fans should expect more investment whether they will get it is quite another thing.

The Big four in the Premier League have been quiet in the transfer market

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The summer transfer window in the Premier League has been open since May 16th and in that time 7 weeks there hasn’t actually been that much activity between the top 4 clubs who finished in those places in the Premier League. The ones where you expect them to break the bank and make massive signings just like they have in the past.

Is FFP to blame? Or is it a case of the teams are simply not finding the right players at the right prices to try and compete? There haven’t been too many eye catching transfers in Europe either although the likes of Manchester City and Liverpool both aiming to dominate football and be the best would have risen an eyebrow to the highly talented Joao Felix signing for Atletico Madrid a few days ago. So the money is there or thereabouts but where is the quality this summer?

Of course the window does not shut yet but in England it has changed. Years ago the window used to close on August 31st even though the league had in all of those cases already started. The window now closes just before the league starts and that has been the new given rule in England. So it will close on August 8th. That is just 31 days away, and that goes very quickly, will we see more big deals go through or is that it?

Champions Manchester City who have spent close to £500m since Pep Guardiola became manager have brought in just two players. Angelino from PSV and their big one Rodri from Atletico Madrid. Angelino cost just over £5m but much is expected of Rodri who cost the club £63m. Give or take City have spent about £75m this summer on players, a lot of money but not nearly as much as City would usually spend.

Premier League runners up Liverpool have been very quiet buying just one player, Sepp van den Berg from PEC Zwolle for just over £1m and it will be questionable if the player gets games in the league and he may be only used for the league cup. So manager Jurgen Klopp is keeping his chequebook closed but at the same time Liverpool do have a very strong team and he will be happy with what he has.

Chelsea managed 3rd place in the end in the league but unlucky for them they currently have a transfer ban from UEFA. It is something that the club are appealing but with days running out anyway it looks almost certain that the Blues will not be buying or be able to buy any new players this summer.

That leaves us with Tottenham. A team who went the past two transfer windows not buying anyone. Young prospect Jack Clarke has come from Leeds for just £10m but the big purchase has been for Lyon’s Tanguy Ndombele who cost the club in the region of £55m, though that may rise.

All in all the big four clubs who finished in the top four last season have spent a combined £140m on players so far. Even taking into account Chelsea’s transfer ban this is a very low figure when you think of the TV deals that the clubs have been able to broker. We could also be fair and include Arsenal who finished 5th in place of Chelsea who can’t buy players.Yet even if we do this the Gunners have only spent £6m, with one player coming in on a free transfer.

Is the bubble finally bursting in the world’s most expensive league or should we remain more patient as the window closes by each passing day- either way we will find out soon enough.

It’s Valencia or West Ham for Maxi Gomez but surely the answer is simple

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Maxi Gomez who has had a solid 2 years at Celta Vigo scoring goals is wanted by two clubs in Europe, Valencia and West Ham. But which club will succeed in getting his services?

A few years ago this wouldn’t even be open for debate, Valencia would be the smart choice. A massive club who at one point in the last decade could challenge Barcelona and Real Madrid’s dominance and had a very good team. Gomez could have joined and become a better player. But in 2019, that doesn’t seem to be the case.

The best pull for Gomez to join Valencia is that the club will be playing Champions League football next season, and that is massive for any player who has never tasted playing at the highest level for club football. It’s a big ask for Gomez to turn that down when West Ham aren’t playing any European football next season.

Financially a move to West Ham would be better for Gomez too and the Hammers will be able to offer him much better wages. So where should the 22 year old go? The answer for some is an easy one and that is to play for West Ham in the Premier League.

The reason is due to two things. Firstly West Ham are clearly pointing in the right direction and having Manuel Pellegrini as boss is a great thing for the London side who have under achieved too much in recent years. The club have some genuine attacking quality and it is thought that they will be attack minded next season with the likes of Pablo Fornals and Andriy Yarmolenko.

However does Gomez want to improve as a player and person? If so if you move to a foreign country and sample that experience and different culture. If he stays in La Liga he will be doing what most English players do and stay in their comfort zone. There isn’t much wrong with that but you usually become a much better player with a move to a different club and you learn more about the game. The move would be a massive plus for Gomez who could prove his qualities in a different league.

Who is the bigger club is the other question. True it is Valencia but they are not as big as they once were, and what happens if they exit the Champions League in the group stages and then struggle for top 10 status in the league it can happen and the club do have financial difficulties.

Going to West Ham would be a challenge for Gomez and it won’t be easy, but spreading his wings and giving the club a chance to see his qualities just seems like the right option to take. It will be interesting to see who Gomez picks over the coming days/weeks.