Four big name players that are expected to leave their respective clubs this summer

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That exciting time has come once again, where the summer transfer window will be filled with opinionated rumours and ridiculous speculations, before the deals begin to become finalised and publicly official. So far, the likes of Barcelona, Bayern Munich and Real Madrid have got down to business quickly within the transfer market, as they will potentially look to dominate their respective league for many years to come whilst also strongly challenge for the Champions League next season.

Meanwhile, it could be another enormous summer where the big name players will be making the huge moves left, right and centre. And if the reports that are constantly being raised within the English media and the European news outlets happen to be true, then we can expect a number of the best clubs inside of Europe to lose one or two of their key players or be forced to sell them.

With no further ado, here are the four big name players that will be on the move this summer…

David De Gea

The perfect player to start off with is none other than Manchester United’s David De Gea, someone who is seen as the best goalkeeper in the Premier League as well as one of the best in Europe. Since the moment his transfer to Real Madrid unfortunately broke down due to a faulty fax machine in August 2015, he hasn’t been the same despite being the team’s best player in recent years, as he has silently questioned the direction the club is heading and the lack of progress made by them on and the pitch.

On top of that, with Ander Herrera leaving on a free transfer to Paris Saint-Germain and Juan Mata not receiving a contract extension by the board, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see the former Atletico Madrid shot-stopper moving away after spending eight long years at Old Trafford. If there is much meaning to this and he does end up joining his fellow countrymen in the coming weeks, it will leave United with further problems to resolve, as they are currently in a transition period and will be losing their main man.

Gareth Bale

Another club that will be going through a transition period of sorts will be Real Madrid, who have surprisingly been quiet in the transfer window over the last couple of years and are now in a position to bring in young blood and fresh energy, as the likes of Luka Modric, Marcelo, Sergio Ramos and Toni Kroos are starting to age. But the main focus just happens to be on winger Gareth Bale, who doesn’t get along with coach Zinedine Zidane and will be looking to move away from the Spanish giants as soon as possible.

The ideal outcome for the player would be to return to the Premier League, a league he has already proved himself in rather than going into a new league and a new culture where it will most likely take him a number of months to adapt and settle into that environment. With Real Madrid being linked with the likes of Eden Hazard, Mohamed Salah and Neymar, offloading the Welsh international instantly and at a discounted figure would make total sense, especially to balance the books on a financial note.

Mauro Icardi

Mauro Icardi has experienced a lot of ups and downs at Inter Milan, especially throughout the last five to six months, where he has had contract issues with the board, huge fallout with the manager Luciano Spalletti and then it leading to him being one of the main reasons to why the dressing room was filled with tension and diversity. Though, focusing on his ability on the pitch, there are no doubts that he simply knows where the back of the net is as he is the type of striker to score 30 goals a season.

The future of Icardi doesn’t happen to be quite crystal clear at this moment of time, and it will purely be dependent on if Spalletti is replaced by Antonio Conte, a well-known coach who does not allow anyone to get away with their antics or unprofessional behaviour. And if that is the case, the 26-year-old may as well start to look for a new club straightaway, which might not be a problem at all, as the likes of Atletico Madrid, Chelsea, Juventus and Manchester United could do with his goal-scoring prowess.

Matthijs De Ligt

After winning the Eredivisie title for the 34th time and reaching the Champions League Semi-Finals, Ajax have once again, caught the attention of majority of the football supporters around the world. However, when that tends to happen, they end up losing a number of key players which is something that they are starting to experience, as Frenkie de Jong has joined FC Barcelona whilst individuals such as Hakim Ziyech, Matthijs de Ligt and Donny van de Beek are now wanted by literally everyone.

For the time being, it’s time to put the full focus on De Ligt, a 19-year-old centre-back that is already seen as a phenomenal leader and has time and time again, showed his quality on and off the ball. From showing his physical strength to his incredible intelligence to be in the right place at the right time, he is seen as the full package of a defender, which cannot be said about many players that play within his department. If he is to leave during the summer window, it would be for around £65million-£85million.

No shame in second for Liverpool

Liverpool second Premier League Klopp Van Dijk Robertson Salah Mane

Bill Shankly famously said that finishing second is nothing. Even he, though, would have been tempted to revise that statement when discussing this current Liverpool team. Describing this team as failures would be cruel in the extreme.

While the overarching desire is to look back at this past season and mourn the death of another potential title win, the reaction should be the opposite. Liverpool should be celebrating a glorious campaign and the fact that it happened in the first place. Jurgen Klopp’s side have impressed beyond belief over the past year. Suggestions that they have done anything but succeed this season are not worth listening to. Klopp will certainly be sharing that message among his group.  Continue reading

Have Manchester United made a huge mistake giving Ole Gunnar Solskjaer manager’s job?

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Let’s admit it we all believed that Manchester United made the right decision in sacking Jose Mourinho in December and bringing in Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. After coming into the team the Norwegian with a smile wider than Manchester embraced the ethos of the club and they went on a 10 game unbeaten run which included knocking PSG out of the Champions League, the good times had returned to Old Trafford, or so we thought.

Since signing a 3 year permanent contract Manchester United’s form has dipped so bad, that it is worse than Mourinho’s first three months of the season and would place the club in 19th place in the league. A 4-0 loss at Everton was supposed to be the worst pick of the bunch. But how about drawing at bottom club Huddersfield or better still losing at home to Cardiff by 2-0 who had already been relegated themselves. It was Cardiff who were the first team to be beaten by Solskjaer’s United side winning 5-1 away from home just before Christmas, how things had changed.

One has to wonder if United have not performed a classic knee jerk reaction. Should they have waited until the end of the season to make a judgement whether Solskjaer was the right man for the job?

Mourinho no matter how talented as a coach he is had to go, he was never the perfect fit for the club that much was evident. And yet he left with the memory of winning the Europa League, the Carabao Cup and placing United in their highest position of 2nd since Sir Alex Ferguson left. Indeed since Mourinho was sacked United have taken backwards steps and will not be playing in the Champions League next season which has got to hurt.

Many would put the blame at the players, and it is clear that half of the first team squad could be sold on in the summer. Quality players who are simply not performing well for the club week in week out. Once the new manager syndrome eroded and the club dropped their first points under him, the confidence was taken from them like a sweet shop owner who forgot to lock the doors adjacent to a school.

What United have done in the cold light of day is replace a world class manager with a proven track record and trophies with a manager who wins trophies with Molde in the Norwegian league. Had Ole never played for United then he would never have been considered and this seems like the most fatal mistake for Ed Woodward and his United staff.

This isn’t to say that the future looks bleak. After all with a clear out of players that could do the club good, but the problem is that they will want to attract the calibre of players that are at Champions League level, a competition they are not in. Next season sadly looks like being a long and testing one for the club and it will be fascinating to see if Solskjaer can prove his doubters wrong and bring the results in.

FIFA are correct to uphold decision to ban Chelsea for two transfer windows and Sarri should be happy with the outcome

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Chelsea have been told by FIFA that they will indeed serve a two window transfer ban which was imposed on them earlier in the season for breaching signing of youngsters and that means the club will not be able to sign any new players until the summer of 2020.

Chelsea will appeal to the courts of attribution but could be likely to lose. Whilst Chelsea should be punished, one cannot get away from the fact that UEFA are not promoting the game in the right direction. Unless one truly hates the club does anyone associated with football want to tie two hands behind a clubs back? Chelsea could win the Europa League enter the Champions League and not be able to buy any new players. Basically killing their chances of winning the competition before they have even started.

On top of that Chelsea have the problem of Eden Hazard their star player who looks like he will be leaving the club in the summer to join Real Madrid. This was further highlighted when the star player was seen nodding his head in a no fashion when fans asked him to stay at the club last week.

Surely the situation is a harsh one for the club who, yes, should receive a ban this summer but not extended to two windows. Ideally why not fine the club £500,000 and give back to hospitals or put back into the grassroots of the game. After all the ban won’t hurt as much as not being out of a little pocket for the club.

Of course the good news if the club are to be banned for purchasing players is that Maurizio Sarri’s job will be safe. It was oddly under threat a few months ago, even though he has steered Chelsea to a Europa League final, a Carabao Cup final and a top 4 place ensuring Champions League football either way next season, that’s not too bad for your debut season surely?

Still who will want to join the club now knowing you can’t buy any players for over a year? That would be like playing Monopoly and going round the board several times until your rivals all have the properties they want. In that sense Sarri suddenly holds all of the cards and with a strong link to Roma, Sarri may just think enough is enough and walk in the summer if he is not being respected at the club.

For now Chelsea are doing well, but the future hardly looks bright.

 

Money wasn’t key to Manchester City’s title win over Liverpool- Pep Guardiola was

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Congratulations to Manchester City for winning back to back titles for the first time in the history of the club. They were tested until the very final moments of the season over 9 long months and this title win will be extra special given just how strong Liverpool were.

City needed to win their last 14 games in a row which is a staggering achievement to fend off Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool team and finished with 98 points, the records and plaudits will keep on coming for a very special side.

Of course money has changed the club from a side who just a decade ago were struggling in the lower leagues, being the reliable other half of Manchester who would gain promotion only to fight relegation season after season. An odd victory over a top 4 side was deemed as the best it could get once upon a time for City. So since the cash injection earlier this decade, the trophies have followed.

However this season and the way that City won it was down to Pep Guardiola’s guidance. Yes it is easy to criticise him, he seems to only go to the biggest clubs with the largest wallets. But to win this season and take the title from the hands of Liverpool (remember at the turn of the year Liverpool,had a 7 point advantage) to do that was down to skilful man management. This is where Guardiola earned his money this season.

It is obvious that Guardiola sits one on one with his players and has turned many of them from very good players to world class ones. Look at how Raheem Sterling has come on in the past 18 months, the change has been massive. And not only does Guardiola make players better, he shares what Arsene Wenger did when he first came to Arsenal in that he impacts players personal lives too, from dieting to their psychological positive input. It means that when City were under pressure to win games, they just kept on rolling out the wins, whatever Liverpool can do we can do just that little better, that was the message here.

For Liverpool you wonder what will happen next, 29 years for a title now and when you finish on 97 points and have lost just 1 game the whole season which was against City, you wonder what else you have to do to get that title. Most seasons that points haul would have easily have been enough to win the title. Next season how do Liverpool approach it, more of the same, but they have such a great rival to contend with.

The good news for the Reds is that they have the Champions League final against Tottenham as a consolation. Surely it would be unthinkable to have Liverpool end the season with nothing again after their heroics over the past year, but you never know.

Three perfect options for Man Utd to replace the outgoing Ander Herrera with

Herrera

After Saturday’s confirmation by both the club and the player himself, it is now official that Ander Herrera will be leaving Manchester United once his current contract expires at the end of June.

Throughout his five years at Old Trafford, he has gone on to win the EFL Cup, FA Cup and the Europa League whilst managing to make just fewer than 200 appearances in all competition. On top of that, it can be stated that he is one of the popular figures within the club’s fanbase, regarded as an individual that gets what it means to play for the team and how he gives everything on the pitch.

Meanwhile, it leaves United with more serious work to do with their summer rebuilding job, as they were already lacking the much needed quality and depth in midfield. With Marouane Fellaini gone in January and Herrera about to leave in a couple of weeks or so, the manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has to keep a good look in the transfer market for a defensive-midfielder and a box to box player.

With no further ado, here are the three main candidates to replace the Spanish international…

Abdoulaye Doucoure – Watford                                   

The United board and Ed Woodward have constantly chosen for the bigger name players and individuals past their prime years. However, when finding the perfect and most intelligent of midfielders it can be shrewd to review and analyse within the Premier League itself, something that the likes of Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur have done really well over the last couple of years.

On that note, Watford’s Abdoulaye Doucoure would potentially be the ideal individual to have in United’s midfield, someone who has the capability to complete the required interceptions and tackles as well as progress with the ball through his burst of pace and dribbling ability. It’s no surprise that he has been linked with clubs such as Chelsea, Everton and Paris Saint-Germain.

Still only 26-years-old, the central midfielder has shown off his attributes and skills on both sides of the pitch, which is something that the Red Devils are missing from the current set of midfielders. From being in the right place at the right time to understanding when to press forward and when to sit deep, Dourcoure is the type of player that United could do with for the next couple of years.

Igor Zubeldia – Real Sociedad

If United were to complete some shrewd business, then La Liga would be the place to look for Ander Herrera’s replacement, a league that is filled with players that are technically great and are not afraid of going into challenges and tackles with full commitment. Looking at the last couple of seasons, it’s quite a surprise that the club have not gone onto to buy many players from Spain.

On the other hand, should United dig deep into the Spanish League to find a player, they should look no further than Igor Zubeldia, who has had a great campaign in his second full season in top-flight football. Playing at the heart of Real Sociedad’s midfield, either as a defensive-midfielder or central-midfielder, he is able to provide the protection to the backline whilst recycle the ball effectively.

For sure, the questions will be raised by the Premier League experts and Manchester United supporters on who the player is, but no one knew who Ander Herrera was at the start and he turned out to be one of the side’s most crucial individuals over the four to five years. And if the €50million release clause happens to be true, Igor Zubeldia could go onto be one of the signings of the summer.

Youri Tielemans – AS Monaco

With his loan deal at Leicester City now coming to an end, it can fairly be stated that Youri Tielemans enjoyed his time in England and the Premier League even if it was for only five months. Notching three goals and four assists in only 11 league appearances, he has instantly showed his intelligence and ability to adapt in a new league, something that a number of summer signings have failed to do.

The Belgian international took a number of people by surprise, as he was predicted to not feature on a weekly basis whilst expected to start very low in the pecking order within the midfield department. However, it did not take him long to win over the Premier League pundits and the Leicester City supporters, as his final third contributions and composure in midfield has been pleasing to watch.

Overall, it is unlikely that he will return to France and play for AS Monaco on a regular basis, who are currently near the relegation zone in Ligue 1 and are just about fighting for survival. No matter how it ends for Leonardo Jardim’s men, a number of the key players will want to leave the club in the summer, especially Youri Tielemans, given that he is already a wanted man in all the top leagues.

Brighton were right to sack Chris Hughton despite Premier League survival

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Brighton have sacked manager Chris Hughton after the former Tottenham player steered the club to survival. On the face of it keeping the club up should have assured Hughton his job, but they were right to sack him as the tell tale signs were there for all to see.

Brighton actually started the season well and were propping up in the top 10 even in December. They were being compared to both Wolves and Watford who are two teams this season that really have punched above their weight and did so well. Wolves finished 7th in a best of the rest position and Watford not only finished close behind but are also in the FA Cup final where they will play Manchester City next Saturday.

As for Brighton it all started to go wrong when 2018 said goodbye and the New Year greeted us with 2019. From the last 20 games, that’s 60 points Brighton won 15, that was good enough not to finish 17th where they did but to finish in 19th position and relegation. Again it is their form at the beginning of the season which saved the club.

From those 20 matches they have won just 3 and scored 15 times conceding 34. The club finished their dismal form at home losing 4 of their last 5 games and the other match ended in a draw. In the end they survived in the league by just two points over Cardiff, who if it wasn’t for some bad luck in games easily would have finished above them.

But it was also Hughton’s approach to survival. Once he knew the club were in danger they ended up approaching games to scared to lose, and so would defend deep in numbers, fans like to call this ‘parking the bus’ and that was the club all over. It made for some poor displays and negative football and no football fan wants to pay to see that even if it rarely grinds out a point.

The majority of Brighton’s transfers were undisclosed which was unfortunate but some sources have suggested that the club spent £70m last summer recruiting players. That’s all well and good but the season before they managed 40 points meaning that they spent all that extra money to finish with 4 points fewer.

Chris Hughton is a great guy and a credit to the game and a real footballing man. For many reasons mostly known to him, the heart was not there in the team and there was no real fight in the second half of the season. He will move on from this and so will Brighton.

So on the face of it it can look harsh to sack a manager when the club have just stayed up, but the truth is that they have actually slipped backwards and just got lucky that Cardiff had a mix of bad luck and at times were poor themselves.

Hughton will be back and Brighton will be hoping that their next manager takes them back in the right direction. Hughton in the end saved the ship from drowning, but now it needs a new captain.

Watford, ownership and the beauty of reaching the FA Cup final

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Next weekend Watford will play in the FA Cup final, their first since 1984 when Everton beat them and Everton’s fans sang out to Watford owner at the time Elton John ‘I guess that’s why they call us the Blues’ a reference to one of John’s famous lyrics.

Nobody saw it coming for The Hornets who have had a fantastic season in the Premier League culminated by this superb cup run. Even at the semi-final stage it seemed that Watford were down and out when they were trailing Wolves 2-0. But they came back in one of the great cup ties and won the game 3-2. They will play Manchester City where they will clearly be the underdogs but at the same time they have nothing to lose and might just pull off one of the great surprise results.

But how did it all come down to this? It was only last summer that the club lost Marco Silva as manager to Everton in a deal that brought alongside it a lot of animosity between the clubs. But Silva did not achieve the heights with Everton that in coming manager Javi Gracia has. a 40.7% win rate with the club which is his personal highest in years and there has been a determination within the club to do well this year, led by outspoken but ultra confident captain Troy Deeney.

Last summer it was time for the club to do business and they started off with brining Gerard Deulofeu into the team. The Spanish player had played some time in the Premier League before switching back to Barcelona so he already had experience and pace of the game in England. It was a great deal for the club who paid just over £11m for the playmaker who has had a solid season for them.

Domingos Quina also made an impact and was bought for just £1m from West Ham, it is unfortunate that the player picked up an injury in the second half of the season. The club have played more with wingers so that meant that they didn’t really miss the sale of Richarlison to Everton and got £40m for the player. By being patient and not making rash decisions they have been able to release over 10 players to make room in the squad but also bought new players but made a profit too. For now Watford are the perfect business model.

The season may have started off with the team feeling robbed of  a manager and their star striker but in return that anger has turned to hope, passion and hunger, and now they have a genuine chance through hard work behind the scenes and on the football pitch to win their first trophy in a generation.

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EPL: Premier League Predictions for Week 38

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This is it- the final weekend of the English Premier League season. It all comes down to the very final day where all games will be played on Saturday at 3pm. Will Manchester City win back to back league titles or will Liverpool claim their first league title since 1990?

All is set to be revealed in what has been a quite absorbing and fantastic league title race. We take a look below at the predictions for each game.

Brighton v Manchester City

Brighton are safe and will play Premier League football next season after Cardiff were relegated last week. This is the match for Manchester City, win and they will be champions again. Much could rest on the fitness levels of Fernandinho and the goal scoring qualities of Sergio Aguero. One mark against City is that they are only just winning games. Manchester City to beat Brighton

Burnley v Arsenal

Arsenal would have to win 8-0 and hope that Tottenham lose to Everton in order to finish in the top 4. Football is amazing but we can’t see this happening. Instead Burnley are in decent form, Arsenal have been very poor the last 6 weeks and we expect Arsenal to lose again. Chris Wood will be dangerous for the Gunners and too hot to handle.  Burnley to beat Arsenal

Crystal Palace v Bournemouth

When these two play we usually see goals and we should see a very entertaining game of football. Christian Benteke could return for Palace after smashing his cheekbone to play a farewell last game of the season. Both sides have similar qualities. Draw

Fulham v Newcastle

Fulham have been brilliant at home since being relegated and Newcastle do not have much to play for here. Plus they rarely travel to Fulham and get a result. Having said that the Magpies Salomon Rondon can be a danger. Fulham to beat Newcastle

Leicester v Chelsea

Chelsea will be exhausted after the Europa Cup tie which could see them in a final. They have basically qualified for a top 4 and will take it easy here. Leicester are just too good if you are not 100% and we expect Brendan Rodgers side to get all three points and end the season on a high. Plus Jamie Vardy loves scoring against Chelsea. Leicester to beat Chelsea

Liverpool v Wolves

Liverpool made the Champions League final in stunning fashion in midweek but they must focus on this game and get a win if they have any chance of winning the league title for the first time since 1990. Returning forward Mohamed Salah will be on fire for this game and we can only see one winner here given that Wolves have already secured 7th place. Liverpool to beat Wolves

Manchester United v Cardiff

Manchester United have all the qualities to win, the problem is that a quarter of this team know they won’t be playing for the club next season. Cardiff are relegated and we may see the best of the club with zero pressure on them. United have been extremely poor form wise. Draw

Southampton v Huddersfield

Southampton have blown hot and cold in the past few weeks but this game being their final one and at home they should have the quality to be too pacey for Huddersfield and win this game. Huddersfield claimed a brilliant point last weekend against Manchester United but that was at home. Southampton to beat Huddersfield

Tottenham v Everton

Tottenham against all expectations reached the Champions League final in glorious style. The team will be tired and they will be focused on the final on June 1st. Everton have been in solid form but we can see a pre season type of game complete with a happy atmosphere. Watch out for player of the moment Heung-Min Son who has a good chance to keep on scoring goals. Draw

Watford v West Ham

Watford will likely rest most of their first team squad to prepare for the FA Cup final the following Saturday. This gives West Ham a very good chance of claiming a victory. Marko Arnautovic grabbed a brace for the club in their 3-0 win over Southampton and he could well be on target to grab the headlines again. West Ham to beat Watford

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Barcelona victory proves Klopp status among football’s best

 Jurgen Klopp Liverpool

Basking in the glory of the win over Barcelona, it’s fair to say Jurgen Klopp’s standing has been higher. Victory over Messi and co confirmed the Liverpool manager’s status as one of the best in world football.

Look around Europe’s top five leagues, and there is an argument there is nobody better than he. Pep Guardiola is the obvious rival, He continues to shine with Manchester City and is one of the greatest coaches of his generation. Yet, his team are only one point ahead of Liverpool in the Premier League. They lagged far behind them in the Champions League. Klopp has matched and outperformed Guardiola at times this season. The win over Barcelona was another example of the world-class coach he is. Continue reading