Werner, Havertz, Chilwell who will join ambitious Chelsea?

The Coronavirus pandemic has made teams across Europe stop and think about transfers, and one could conclude that some teams have taken their eye off the ball given that some seasons are about to restart across Europe. That cannot be said of Premier League side Chelsea though who have been actively busy in the transfer market.

Names have been touted and in some cases it seems that Chelsea are coming very close to wrapping up a few signatures. Heading their list is RB Leipzig striker Timo Werner. Werner is only 24 and has been quite superb for the Bundesliga team. He has scored  75 goals for the club in the league alone from just 123 games and netted 92 goals in all competitions for the side.

Inevitably this has led Werner to stake a claim in the German national side where again he hasn’t let down scoring 11 goals from 29 games. Werner in a nutshell is hot property but because of his contract release clause he can leave his current side for around 60 million euros. In the current football climate that figure seems a steal. It is thought that Chelsea are in advance talks with his club and that in fact a deal has been agreed in principle. This would be a huge capture for Chelsea, arguably one of their finest buys in years.

However it would be staggering to think that no other club will come in for Werner. Perhaps though the pandemic has had a much more negative effect on some clubs than others and this could be an opportunity for the Blues to get what would be a bargain. Usually a player so good in Germany ends up transferring to Bayern Munich so it would also stop a normal tradition.

Then there is the case of Kai Havertz. The player is just 21 and as an attacking midfielder and winger has really impressed with his pace and skills with current club side Bayer Leverkusen. Another German player Chelsea see Havertz as a must buy purchase for their team but they may have competition from Real Madrid on that one.

Not that its his job but he also scores goals and great ones too and in his four seasons with Leverkusen he has scored 43 goals in all competitions including 15 this year and the player is getting better and better by each passing season.

Of course Chelsea have always been famous for having some of England’s young talent and it seems that manager Frank Lampard won’t let that running theme be an exception under his charge. That is why Chelsea are very interested in adding Leicester’s Ben Chilwell to their squad.

The 23 year old left back has had an impressive season with the Foxes who look set to qualify for the Champions League next season after a fantastic season with Brendan Rodgers in charge.

Chilwell has also broken into the England national team and already has 11 caps to his name. Chilwell could well be on his way to Chelsea with Leicester admitting that they are already looking for his replacement. He would cost Chelsea at least £60m.

All in then if you’re a fan of Chelsea you must be excited with the names that the Blues have been linked too. They already have a very good side and the fact that they are currently 4th this season proves that.

At this stage of Lampard’s managerial term with the club things look very exciting as the former legendary player looks to steer the club in the right direction.

 

How RB Leipzig have divided German football and rose to the top

Ten years ago RB Leipzig were not even called RB Leipzig and were in the fifth tier of German football. It took a good six years to rise to the Bundesliga under the owner ship of the energy drinks company Red Bull and the team have not looked back.

The club owner Oliver Mintzlaff who is also head of Red Bull global soccer have done amazing stuff since it was determined that the tiny team from the east of Germany could play with the best teams in the country. It was going to take investment and time of course and that patience seems to have paid off.

It hasn’t come easy though, whilst setbacks are normal the club were not welcomed by certain teams. The rules of ownership in Germany differs from other countries and RB Leipzig were seen as not following traditional German football rules and that irked clubs and fans alike. There was even one time four seasons ago when Borussia Dortmund fans boycotted their away game with Leipzig and there have been numerous protests since then.

Has anything got better? Well in general it has and the club have been run like a smooth machine. It hasn’t been a vanity project either and the owners seem intent on making the club successful not just in Germany but in the Champions League, though the main goal is dethroning the mighty Bayern Munich.

This is something that the club are currently doing. RB Leipzig are top of the Bundesliga standings with 40 points from 18 games and they are four points ahead of Bayern. The other threat to their title are Borussia Monchengladbach who have 35 points. Borussia Dortmund are down to 33 points and are seven points behind.

Leipzig have done well and even been runners up in the Bundesliga in 2016/17, and qualified for the Champions League on two occasions. So what is the strategy behind the clubs success and can they finally start winning trophies?

One strategy was the club signing players who were 24 and under and trying to keep a very youthful squad. The club have not spent big on players but spent money on acquiring young talent though it was important to bring in established Timo Werner in recent times.

They haven’t won major trophies yet though they have made big splashes already. As seasons pass perhaps more respect will be given to the club, and maybe some of the fans who protested against them actually wouldn’t mind if they beat off Bayern Munich to win their first league title.

 

Are Bayern Munich focusing more on the Champions League than the Bundesliga?

Bayern Munich and winning the Bundesliga seemingly goes hand in hand but this has been a difficult season for the German champions who have sacked Niko Kovac this season after a slow start.

His replacement has been Hans-Dieter Flick who made an immediate improvement where the club climbed from 4th and are now in 2nd place and from his first 11 games, Flick has won 9 of them. His win rate is an astounding 81%, and that has proven fans and pundits alike in Germany wrong. Indeed when Flick was appointed there was a surprise because he hasn’t managed a club side since Hoffenheim back in 2005.

So what was Flick doing in that 14 year gap? Well he was the assistant for the German national team which of course included winning the World Cup in 2014, so he has hardly been on an extended holiday.

Currently Bayern are four points behind surprise league leaders RB Leipzig and it seems only a matter of time before Bayern eclipse them, or will they?

There have been quite a few stories circulating in the German media that Bayern much like Manchester City in the Premier League want to focus more this season on winning the Champions League. Bayern have not captured Europe’s greatest prize since 2013 and there is a feeling in doing so the club will reestablish themselves as one of Europe’s great teams. That they are is always questionable to an impressionable youth one that now has less and less attention spans. Perhaps they don’t see past Real Madrid and Barcelona and Bayern will want to remind everyone of their status.

The German giants have of course advanced to the knockout stages of the competition and in their two group stage matches put 10 goals past Tottenham who also managed to qualify for the last 16.

Bayern will play Chelsea in the knock out rounds which, of course, will be a repeat of the 2012 final when Chelsea scrapped through on penalties. The league of course will be important for the club but the situation as it stands is that Flick can’t really lose. He has come in to pick up the pieces and a deep run in cups and maintaining 2nd place even if they don’t win the league shouldn’t affect his job this year.

The rallying cry has been led by Philippe Coutinho who said: “We want to do our best, survive the next round and win the Champions League at the end of course. I think we have the quality.”

So if Bayern drop more points in the league which could happen once the Champions League starts up again in a months time, don’t be surprised, there is a focus and it is not on the league title this year.

 

 

Should Manchester United turn to Red Bull Leipzig’s Timo Werner?

As the January transfer window peers ever closer, Manchester United know they have a lot of work to do in such a short space of time. 

At best, a club can aim for one transfer to be completed in January that is a permanent move given the time restrains set in place during the winter market, but the Red Devils need at least two through the door if they are to seriously challenge for a top four place.

Given the lack of recruitment in the forward and midfield departments, it is no real surprise to see Man United suffering in the way that they are. Injuries to key players in Anthony Martial and Paul Pogba have stunted the club so far this season, with the former only just returning to full fitness.

Although Romelu Lukaku clearly didn’t fit into Ole Gunnar Solskjær’s plans, as well as the underperforming Alexis Sanchez, Manchester United made a huge mistake in not replacing them – even if they do have a strong belief in Marcus Rashford and the youngster Mason Greenwood.

The club pleaded to fans to suggest there were no players on the market available, but there never will be that ticks every single box. Mario Mandzukic is still one name to reverberate around Old Trafford, which might be re-ignited in January, but the Red Devils left it too late and could not put a deal in place before the English-buying market closed.

Timo Werner has continually been linked with a move to the Premier League, with Liverpool and Manchester United showing the most interest. After extending his contract until 2023, there is some noise from sections of the German media to suggest his release clause is £27 million.

If this is to be believed, there will be a vast number of teams in Europe that will be queuing up for Werner’s signature in January, which already puts Solskjær’s team at a disadvantage given the league position they are in, as well as their performances.

Werner is not a traditional centre forward, with a lot of his play starting from deep and integrating others. He began his career with VfB Stuttgart, operating as a winger, in which he continues to drift in-and-out of those areas on the pitch in present day.

There is no doubt about it that Manchester United need a new striker to help alleviate the pressure placed on Rashford and Martial. While Werner is not too much older than the pair, he has a reputation of a consistent goal-scorer.

The German international already has 13 goals to his name in 15 appearances throughout all competitions, and another six assists. More than just a typical centre forward, Werner can contribute from all areas of the pitch and help others – just as he has done in tandem with his partner Yussuf Poulson.

Ultimately, it will come down to Werner’s intentions moving forward. If he wishes to start every week and become the main player in a forward line, Liverpool is not his best option, given the fact he will not displace Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah.

Manchester United, on the other hand, are more unattractive in where their reputation is currently situated, but offer more game time and the ability to become a hero that helps the club get back on track once and for all.

There will be a lot more Premier League and European teams that come to the table and try to place themselves in a position to sign the German, but Manchester United are Liverpool are the two most interested presently.

For such a cheap transfer fee in the current market, whichever club does manage to land him have themselves a potential world-class striker for the foreseeable future.

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Three exciting European teams you should be keeping an eye on for the remainder of the season

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For sure, the current style of play within football has extremely transformed compared to what it used to be over five to ten years ago, where many teams would place the aim of winning a game and play attacking football at the same time. Being a passionate fan of the sport, you’d like to see your own beloved football club going out for the much needed three points rather than seeing them defend their own lines for majority of the game.

On the other hand, many football supporters of the beautiful game will argue that the narrow-minded coaches such as Diego Simeone and Max Allegri have changed the sport as a whole, as they have played an incredible role on those sides that go on to have a pragmatic approach ahead of the fixture by nullifying the opposition instead of playing to the squad’s strengths.

Here are the three European teams that have been a pleasure to watch during the 2018-19 campaign…

Bundesliga – RB Leipzig

RB Leipziga are still the most hated team within German football, due to the fact that the club went through a massive revolution by having energy drink company, Red Bull, as their new owners and have also gone against the tradition of the league by making a mockery to the cherished “50+1” rule. Meanwhile, in the new era of the club, they are starting to be known for their dominant and thrilling football on the pitch, especially with the current group of talented players that are available to new manager Ralf Rangnick.

With the likes of Ibrahima Konate, Marcel Sabitzer, Timo Werner and Yussef Poulsen regularly running the show, Leipzig have the chance to finish in the Champions League spots before the season comes to an end. The side carry out their work within an insane 4-2-2-2 setup, with their principles being; to complete gegenpressing from the first minute till the end and to play direct counterattacking football at the highest level.

La Liga – Real Betis

Without a shadow of doubt, the heart of La Liga will always be seen witon the familiar clubs such as Atletico Madrid, Barcelona and Real Madrid. However, the time has come where a mid-table side like Real Betis get the attention that they truly deserve, who are definitely one of the most exciting teams to watch in Spain this campaign. Whether they see themselves as a liability defensively due to their attacking approach or not, it has not stopped the boss, Quique Setien, from implementing a simple yet effective possession-based style of play.

The 60-year-old Spaniard is one of the few coaches left that lives for total football, one that looks after the young players and gives them first-team opportunities time after time as well as being a devoted manager that sticks to his philosophy no matter who is side comes up against. Despite conceding a lot of goals compared to the top teams, Real Betis have come up with vital wins at home to Atleticlo Madrid and away at Barcelona, which currently leaves them in seventh place and just three points away from the Champions League spots.

Serie A – Atalanta

The current focus in the top-tier of Italian football is on Juventus running away with the league title, with Carlo Ancelotti’s Napoli sitting comfortably in second place whilst both Milan clubs are aiming to claim bragging rights by finishing in third place come the end of the season. Meanwhile, the main story the moment has been Gian Piero Gasperini working his magic on the touchline at Atalanta, who are the only club along with Juventus to have scored over 50 league goals so far this campaign and are also in the Coppa Italia semi-final.

In the first half of the 2018-19 season, I Nerazzurri struggled on both areas of the pitch due to the lack of rotation and ability to find game changers from the bench, preventing them from picking up many positive results in the first few months of the season. Now, with the summer signing in Duvan Zapata being in fine form and Gasperini showing his tactical flexibility, the side are producing dominant and energetic performances as they now have a balanced and fluid midfield, allowing them to actually play their best football in recent years.

Directionless Lookman provided with Everton chance

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Ask Ademola Lookman how his Everton career is going and the answer won’t be a positive one. The answer will be a similar one if you only asked about his career in general. To say the 20-year-old is a little directionless would be understating it.

It was not supposed to be this way. As first impressions go Lookman’s could not have gone better at Goodison Park. A goal on his debut in a 4-0 win over Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City set tongues wagging. Early on, Lookman appeared to be a massive bargain. Many Blues on Merseyside raved, predicting he could be the next big youngster to make his mark at the club. In the 20 months since that date, it has been a downward spiral.  Continue reading

RB Leipzig’s rise to the top of European football is stunning

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Here’s a pub quiz question which may well come up next summer. Which German team won the Bundesliga but were not formed until 2009? The answer could be RB Leipzig and it is fair to say that if you hadn’t heard of them before you most probably have now, because currently they are sitting in first place in the Bundesliga.

RB Leipzig have been in one word incredible. In a league that features one of the greatest clubs in the world in Bayern Munich, RB Leipzig are not only in first place but after 11 games are still undefeated. The current record reads won 8 and drawn 3. One of those wins include victory over the impressive Borussia Dortmund who have been excellent in the Champions League this season and currently lie in 3rd place a cool six points adrift of the leaders.

Even the mighty Bayern have had to yield to the club as they have seen a 3 point gap appear. So what gives, how come RB Leipzig have seemingly come from nowhere to be everywhere?

Last season the club known affectionately as Die Bullen- translated in English – the bulls were playing in Bundesliga 2. This is a league which they eventually won and thus promotion was guaranteed. But nobody expected this sort of start.

The club are led by coach Ralph Hasenhuttl who is from Austria and started his playing career as a forward at Grazer before moving to Austria Wien. He played for six seasons in Germany but never made it big and played out his twilight years at Bayern Munich II.

For Austria he was capped just 8 times and last played for his country in 1994. His management career started in 2007 with some minor clubs before he headed back to Germany and took charge of Inglostadt. He helped the team clinch promotion to the Bundesliga and the team have been solid since. In the summer his impressive work was rewarded to take newly promoted RB Leipzing further and he has impressed with a win rate of 66%.

There a lot of ingredients that have made Leipzig look so good. Hasenhuttl has deployed a mean defence, the team have conceded just 9 goals this season and he has taken the model he developed at Inglostadt to start from the back. One believes Hasenhuttl would be a popular figure in Serie A.

The team is led at the back by 31-year-old Marvin Compper a natural leader and the club can rely on Swedish sensation Emil Forsberg who already has five goals this season.

Hasenhuttl is also very animated on the touchline and is quite a character and it’s obvious to see that he is the man of the moment right now. There is a hunger and a desire to do well and it will be very interesting to see how far he can take his team after such an impressive start to the campaign.

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