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How Chelsea’s transfer ban could benefit Manchester United and Spurs

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Chelsea’s dream of a summer spending spree has been dashed after being banned from signing players for the next two transfer windows, according to Sky Sports.

The Blues were found guilty of breaching rules relating to signing teenagers.

What this means is that Maurizio Sarri would have to work with the same set of players until the summer of 2020.

FIFA said Chelsea had been found to have “breached article 19 of its regulations in the case of 29 minor players and to have committed several other infringements relating to registration requirements for players.”

The Blues were lucky to finalise Christian Pulisic’s deal early however all other potential targets will be put on hold. This includes Real Madrid winger, Gareth Bale.

According to reports, the Welshman has agreed on terms with the Blues who are resigned to losing Eden Hazard.

Bale was allegedly included in the deal that would have seen the Belgian land at the Bernabeu.

However, that’s no longer the case following Chelsea’s transfer embargo. This could ultimately open the door for Bale’s potential summer return to Spurs or even Manchester United, as the Welshman continues to struggle in Spain.

The 29-year-old made his name in six years in North London, tearing defences with his pace, skill set and strength.

He joined Los Blancos in 2014 but appears desperate to leave after falling out of favour with Santiago Solari. Bale has managed just six goals this season.

Spurs would welcome him back with open arms for sure, but Manchester United may also be looking to replace Alexis Sanchez in the summer, with the Chilean international seriously struggling for form and fitness since arriving at Old Trafford.

West Ham and Southampton battle for next Ibrahimovic

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West Ham and Southampton won’t do battle on the pitch until May, however, the Premier League sides are already fighting for highly-rated Ajax striker Kasper Dolberg according to reports. Dolberg has been heralded as the next Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

Although the youngster is from Denmark, his similarities with the ex-Manchester United forward stretches to neighbouring Scandinavian nation, Sweden.

Much like Zlatan, he is best known for his technique, creativity, strength, ability in the air, and his powerful and accurate striking ability.

He is versatile and well-rounded, from a tactical standpoint, capable of playing anywhere along the front line. However, he is most often deployed as a striker, due to his composure and eye for goal.

Dolberg’s Ajax teammate Joel Veltman first spotted his traits in 2016. He believed the young forward could follow the illustrious path of the former AC Milan, PSG, Barcelona and Manchester United striker, claiming he is even more reliable in one-on-one situations.
According to Calciomercato, the Hammers and Saints are willing to offer him a chance to join the Premier League.

Dolberg’s stock has continued to rise since joining as a 17-year-old from Silkeborg IF in 2015. The 21-year-old has established himself as one of Europe’s brightest poachers during an outstanding 2016/17 campaign with the Amsterdam giants, scoring 23 goals in all competitions as Peter Bosz’s side reached the Europa League final.

In an injury-plagued campaign last season, he managed just nine. However the Dane forward appears to have reached for his clinical boots, hitting 10 goals thus far this season. And not even rotating with Klaas-Jan Huntelaar has reduced his productivity.

As a result, both West Ham and Southampton have been keen to bring Dolberg to England. Manuel Pellegrini and Ralph Hasenhuttl are short of natural goalscorers and the Ajax starlet is a player who makes putting the ball into the back of the net seem remarkably easy.
Dolberg’s current contract is set to run till the summer of 2022. But Ajax may find it tempting should any of the clubs meet his £15.3m valuation in the summer.

Arsenal Wenger revealed he was surprised to see Ramsey leave Arsenal

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Ramsey

Former Arsenal long term manager, Arsene Wenger has taken to the media to express how surprised he was after Aaron Ramsey made a decision to leave the club on a free transfer at the end of the 2018/19 campaign.

Last year talks of offering the Welshman a contract extension at the Emirates Stadium was withdrawn by the club, and Ramsey has went on to sign a new four-year contract with Juventus which will make him the highest paid British player in the World as he will be earning £400,000 per week with the Italian giants, check out odds from betbrain uk as the Welshman continues to play for the North London club for the remainder of the season.

Aaron Ramsey is said to be one among many in the list of high-profile footballers to have their contracts with the club expire and leave as a free agent, with former Gunners manager Wenger expecting that list to keep on growing in the coming years as it is becoming more of a trend all thanks to the financial benefits that comes along with it, yet he claims that the Welshman choice to join Juventus has absolute nothing to do with money or any forms of desire to leave the Emirates.

Speaking about the player at Laureus World Sports Awards, Arsene Wenger told Sports Mole: “In the case of Ramsey it is not a question at all of contract. Not at all. It was not a financial situation and not a desire for the player to leave as long as I was there. I was convinced that the player would stay – after [I left], I don’t know – but it was not a financial problem and not a desire to leave problem. What happened after I don’t know.”

“Why the players run out their contract is very simple – because the transfer market is so big now that they think that if I run out my contract, I may not get the full transfer [fee], but I will get a big part of it. Adding that to the inflation, it means that the financial incitement for the player is to run out his contract.

“We will see that more and more, because a good player today is between £50m-£100m. So if the player is not bought for that price then his interest is to run the contract down and say to the club who wants to buy him ‘I don’t want £50m, but I want part of it’.”

Graduated from Arsenal academy, Ramsey will be ending his 11 year stint with the club after bagging 350 appearances in a red shirt.

Phil Foden’s star shinning at Manchester City

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Phil Foden
Phil Foden

Phil Foden was the star of the evening when Manchester City thrashed Newport County 4-1 to reach the quarter-final stage of the FA Cup. The 18-year-old struck two brilliant goals in the second half with Leroy Sane and Riyad Mahrez burying the tie. If anything, it showed he’s prepared for a scrap.

Foden’s sojourn has been gradual. Born in Stockport, Greater Manchester, he was a boyhood supporter of City. He got the opportunity to create his own legend aged eight. Barely six years later, he signed an Academy scholarship. In December 2016, he was included in the matchday squad for the Champions League group stage match with Celtic.

Since then, the midfielder’s stock has continued to rise. He was the standout player for England at the under 17 World Cup side the following year. Foden was offered a new contract by the club. And unlike Jadon Sancho, he trusted in his own ability, eager to prove his worth.

That decision now seems shrewd. Foden has made 19 appearances so far in all competitions, scoring five goals and assisting another treble. He is getting ample game time. Even more importantly, he is taking them with aplomb.

Despite his frail stature, Foden generally operates as a central midfielder. He is dynamic and likes to provide the link between defence and attack by receiving short and carrying the play forward. He has already been likened to David Silva and Andres Iniesta but has more of an eye for goal. However, they flaunt similar dribbling style with good close control.

Against Newport, those traits beamed. His goals saw him throwing defenders off balance on a slippery pitch, letting the ball run its course before seizing the moment and striking it in twice.

The goalkeeper took some stick for the first but that was harsh. Foden deliberately fired it low and hard, and it skipped off the poor surface. When Newport thought they had found a way back into it with a goal, he dashed their hopes with a classy second.

Chelsea skipper linked to sinking Premier League club

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Gary Cahill
Gary Cahill

Gary Cahill is rumoured to be on his way from Chelsea to Fulham.

According to reports, Claudio Ranieri’s side is weighing up a loan move for the Englishman, especially with Timothy Fosu-Mensah’s set to return to Manchester United.

The 33-year-old has fallen further down the perking order since Maurizio Sarri’s summer arrival.

Cahill, technically still the Blues skipper has garnered just 21 minutes of Premier League football so far this season.

The duo of Antonio Rudiger and David Luiz have been preferred by the Italian with Andreas Christensen as backup.

“I respect him very much because he has won everything with this club,” Sarri said last month.

“I have to do my job. Every match, I have to choose. For me, he is not able to [be] on the bench.

“Maybe he is the best in the box, but our defenders may play 100 or 110 balls in a match so I need very technical defenders.”

Cahill was a key member of the Blues squad that won the Champions League, Europa League, two Premier League’s, an FA Cup and a League Cup.

The 33-year-old has just six months left on his current deal.

He was linked with several sides in the winter, with Fulham and Arsenal the most keen.

But both deals fell through, probably due to the ex-Bolton stars’ excessive wages.

Cahill is believed to be earning around £130,000-per-week at Chelsea and isn’t willing to take a pay cut.

The Cottagers could break the bank to land him and Ranieri’s men crashed 3-0 at home on Saturday to further stress their need for more defensive quality.

The London side is 19th in the league with 17 points – only Huddersfield have less.

However, in terms of goals conceded, Fulham is the worst in the entire division.

They have shipped in an alarming 58 goals – 10 more than the side rock-bottom in the league.

With such dreadful defence, relegation is a reality rather than a nightmare.

Cahill will likely rundown his contract at Stamford Bridge – meaning he can only move in the summer.

What should Arsenal expect from Denis Suarez?

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Deniz Suarez

After sluggishly entering the market space, Arsenal have settled for Suarez. Although not a permanent deal, Denis Suarez joins the Gunners on loan from Barcelona for the rest of the season.

The Spanish midfielder extended his contract at Camp Nou until 2021 before sealing a deadline-day switch to the Premier League. Suarez will be reunited with Emery, whom he worked under at Sevilla in 2014/15.

“I have a very good relationship with Unai Emery,” Suarez said in a club interview. “I think he’s a very demanding coach and one of the best coaches in the world right now – I’ve been saying that for a while.”

Embed from Getty Images

Suarez struggled for game time since returning to Barca in 2016. While he managed to sneak into the team in previous two seasons, he has been on the fringes this campaign. The 25-year-old has just 17 minutes of league football under his belt. He was only deemed as an ‘impact sub’ on six occasions throughout the campaign.

What will he bring to Arsenal?

Suarez brings a lot of positivity to the Emirates. Blessed with remarkable passing ability, he creates opportunities at will.  The Spanish play-maker averaged 2.2 chances per 90 minutes in La Liga last term. Not even Mesut Ozil has matched that rate of creativity this season.

It’s not just his passing that sets him apart, though. Suarez has the ability to ghost past defenders in one-on-one situations. The Gunners have craved such a talented player with exceptional dribbling numbers as the team’s ability to do this has declined in each of the last five seasons. Emery’s team is averaging just 7.3 dribbles per 90.

Last season, Suarez made 3.2 successful dribbles per 90 minutes in La Liga. Only Lionel Messi (5.6) and Ousmane Dembele (3.9) bettered that figure. He is seventh in the entire division among player to play a minimum of 500 minutes.

Quick, skilful and direct Suarez’s versatility will be an asset to Emery. Although best suited to playing behind the striker, the Spaniard is equally adept anywhere in attack.

Aaron Wan-Bissaka: The next Gary Neville?

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Aaron Wan-Bissaka
Aaron Wan-Bissaka

It’s approaching 10 years since Gary Neville retired.

Finding a replacement has been as herculean as succeeding Sir Alex Ferguson.

During his decade at the club, Neville showed aggressiveness, professionalism, determination, and consistency. His positional sense allowed for him when needed, to slot in as a centre back. Not the quickest, tallest, strongest, nor most technically gifted player, he simply knew the art of defending.

These qualities are scarce in Manchester these days. A certain 21-year-old has it in abundance in London. His name? Aaron Wan-Bissaka.

Wan-Bissaka has shown consistency since breaking through last season. According to the Mirror, the tabloid claimed that United, along with Chelsea and Manchester City are reportedly looking to lure him away from Selhurst Park. The Red Devils shouldn’t hang around.

The youngster has settled into the Palace side as a first choice right-back this season after a succession of stunning performances.

A graceful and attractive footballer, Wan-Bissaka is superb with the ball at his feet. Off it, he flaunts natural aggression and instinctive positioning, such that opposition attackers struggle to get past him.

When he is on the ball, it is as though he has a magnet in his feet. He rarely loses the ball and whenever he does he fights hard to win it back. It is no surprise he has made the third most tackles in the Premier League this season with 80, just three behind the leader, Everton’s Idrissa Gueye.

Even more impressively, however, Wan-Bissaka has been the most effective tackler across Europe’s leading five leagues this season. On the 83 occasions an opponent has approached Wan-Bissaka with the ball this season, he has only been beaten six times, racking up an incredible success rate of 92.8%.

Manchester United need such a player to shore up a wobbly defence. The English defender has a contract with Palace until 2022.

Forbes claim the highly-skilled right-back is rated at around £40 million – a figure that could represent good value in the long term when you consider the prices of young English players currently.

That said, should United reach out for their cheque book? Share your thoughts in the comment box below.

Why Everton should go all out for Yacine Brahimi

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Yacine Brahimi
Yacine Brahimi

Everton are said to be interested in FC Porto winger Yacine Brahimi, according to a report from the Daily Mirror.

The outlet claims Toffee scouts were very impressed when they visited Portugal to watch Brahimi in action.

The Algerian put in a Man of the Match display, scoring twice as Porto defeated Nacional.

He has just six months left on his current deal, meaning the Portuguese giants will be desperate to do business.

The Merseysiders shouldn’t hesitate. The deal comes with little or no risk for Marco Silva’s side.

Brahimi isn’t going to command a lofty pay package like Theo Walcott nor will he cost the club a fortune like Richarlison.

But he could offer a mixture of both and be available for a small fee.

With Cenk Tosun fluffing his lines, Silva has had to occasionally deploy Richarlison through the centre.

This is proof of the Toffees’ weakness in attack.

Bernard and Walcott will provide constant threat through the flanks, but without the proper poacher in the middle, it amounts to nothing.

Brahimi could be the final piece of the puzzle. His recent double took his tally to six in 16 Liga NOS appearances.

An extremely gifted, fleet-footed, agile winger, the Algerian has developed into one of the Portuguese League’s best attackers since joining from Granada.

He can dribble, run at defenders at full throttle, score crucial goals and assist his teammates.

He has the work ethic of a teenager desperate for a major breakthrough but is an experienced international.

His ability to play anywhere in attack is an additional incentive, something boss Silva clearly values following his significant investment in Richarlison.

Brahimi’s skillset make him well-tailored for the Premier League and Silva will already be aware of his qualities following the managers time at Sporting Lisbon.

The Algerian, would surely relish a chance to come to the Premier League and Everton must act fast as several other clubs are being linked with the player.

Manchester City eye triple transfer swoop

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Man City Transfer
Man City Transfer

Without the minor festive blip against Crystal Palace and Leicester City, Manchester City may have been top of the Premier League.

The shocking defeats to both supposedly weaker sides have further carved open the hidden can of worms in Pep Guardiola’s team.

Without Fernandinho, the midfield was overrun. Ilkay Gundogan and John Stones experiments backfired.

To avoid this happening again, Guardiola is reportedly plotting to shore up his midfield according to the bookmakers.

Top of the chain is Ajax midfielder, Frenkie De Jong.

De Jong has been on City’s wish list for some time, and although Barcelona are reported to be ahead in the race to sign the Dutchman, the odds suggest a much closer contest.

According to SkyBet, City and Barca are joint 8/1 favourites to sign De Jong if he was to leave Ajax, albeit the 21-year-old is odds-on to remain in Amsterdam in the current transfer window.

Paris Saint-Germain, meanwhile, are not afar priced at 12/1.

Unlike last season where Guardiola cast all his eggs in one basket, he may set his sights on Wolves midfielder Ruben Neves if the move for De Jong fails to materialise.

Neves has been a revelation in his maiden Premier League campaign.

The talented midfielder is believed to have charmed Guardiola who could pursue his signature.

City are 8/1 favourites to sign him this month, but he is 1/20 to remain at Molineux which, as the odds reflect, is very likely.

In attack, it is being rumoured that Guardiola is pondering a raid of his former club for Ousmane Dembele.

The Citizens’ offence has been near perfect yet the Spaniard believes more can be done.

City (8/1) are favourites to sign the Frenchman, closely followed by Arsenal and Liverpool.

Real Madrid could battle Liverpool for World Cup winner

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Nabil Fekir
Nabil Fekir

Last summer Liverpool looked like they would sign Nabil Fekir.

Yet the Reds were unable to finalise a move to Anfield.

Instead of returning empty handed, they turned to Stoke City for Xherdan Shaqiri.

Although Jurgen Klopp’s squad have been in tremendous form this season, the Reds may again try to poach Fekir in January.

However, Liverpool aren’t alone this time as they have the likes of Chelsea and Real Madrid to contend with.

According to Marca, Los Blancos are keen on signing the French international.

The 25-year-old’s current deal expires in 2020, and Lyon’s president Jean-Michel Aulas reportedly wants to do business before his value drops or he has to leave for free.

Madrid are in the hunt for a playmaker who can share Luka Modric’s burden.

At 33, the Croatian isn’t the dynamic and commanding livewire he used to be.

Fekir possesses those traits as well as youth and flair.

Blessed with a thunderous left-foot, the Lyon star is a threat in the final third either when he’s shooting or helping a teammate.

Either through the middle or on the flanks, he is comfortable anywhere in attack.

Fekir is also renowned for his dribbling skills, beating opposition quite seamlessly.

Above all, he is a set piece specialist, capable of crafting something out of nothing.

Fekir was on target in September’s 2-1 win at Manchester City in the Champions League and netted in each of his final three matches of 2018 before the French winter break.

The 25-year-old hasn’t renewed his contract in the last three years, adding fuel to transfer rumours.

He is valued at about £53million but that figure would probably drop considerably in the summer as the end of his contract draws closer.

Shaqiri has proved to be a shrewd signing, but Liverpool still look light in attack specifically in their creativity against sides hard to break down. This is an issue that has been present since the departure of Phillipe Coutinho to Barcelona.

Fekir is an attacker at heart, but capable of playing a little deeper and providing the killer ball to unlock defence, a quality that is always welcome at Liverpool.

Turkish club ready to break the bank to sign Mesut Ozil from Arsenal

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Turkish side, Istanbul Basaksehir, seem ready to end Mesut Ozil’s Arsenal misery.

The influential playmaker has been reduced to a peripheral figure by Unai Emery this term.
Ozil is rarely seen around the first team.

The 30-year-old has struggled for form and fitness and was left out of the match-day 18 for the 2-0 midweek defeat to rivals Tottenham in the quarter-finals of the EFL Cup.

Although the ex-Real Madrid star adopted Germany at international level, he is of Turkish descent.

It is no surprise the capital club is hoping an audacious bid can tempt him into a maiden foray.

Inter and Real Madrid are have all been linked, however, Basaksehir president Goksel Gumusdag has offered him an alternative.

“Mesut Ozil is a precious player,” Gumusdag said, as quoted by Bild.

“I hope one day our paths will cross at Basaksehir. “

Ozil recently extended his contract at the Emirates until the summer of 2023.

He is rated at about £45m which is very much affordable for the Turkish giants.

However, his reported weekly salary of £350,000 could present a major obstacle.

Basaksehir is six points clear at the top of the Super Lig.

The club’s directors have close links to Turkey’s ruling party and the country’s controversial president Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Prior to last summer’s World Cup in Russia, Ozil was spotted with Erdogan.

This prompted outrage in Germany and set off a chain of events culminating in the player’s retirement from international football, where he cited “racism and disrespect” over his Turkish roots.

Should the move ultimately scale through, Ozil will be reunited with ex-Gunners Gael Clichy and Emmanuel Adebayor.

The 30-year-old began his career at Schalke 04 in 2005 before joining Werder Bremen two years later.

For the three seasons that followed, Ozil was a Real Madrid player, before arriving at Arsenal in 2013.

Eden Hazard throws doubts on his future with Chelsea

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Eden Hazard

Belgium international and Chelsea superstar Eden Hazard came out to the press to throw doubts over his future with the English giants claiming he does not want to have any regrets in his career as he has been offered a new contract, amid strong interest coming from Real Madrid.

While speaking to French-Monegasque radio station, the Belgian said (via Sky Sports): “The new (Chelsea) coach (Maurizio Sarri) thinks football like me, so we’ll see.” Amid the doubts, Hazard still expressed optimism towards the following year that he’ll play for Chelsea. We suggest that you keep your eye on the latest odds and predictions on the Premier League to see how the season will go for this Belgian footballer. Read more on betting sites like BetEasy to stay updated on Chelsea’s upcoming matches.

“As I said, I’m already finishing this year with Chelsea, I still have a year of contract after this year.”

With all that being thrown into the media, the Chelsea star also made a speech about the racist abuse that was directed at Raheem Sterling in their 2-0 win against the Premier League defenders.

Over the past few months the England international has been a subject of the topic racist as he has been called out several times by different people pointing redundant aggression towards the Manchester City player. The fan who placed the abuse on Sterling has been called out by Chelsea interrogation team.

In big games like Chelsea vs Manchester City in a Premier League game passion and emotions are always present, but the so-called racist fans have seemed to be taking advantage of that to place an unnecessary insult to a player’s skin.

Chelsea fans has always been listening to what Hazard has to say in the media, which is majorly due to his influence at Stamford Bridge. The Belgian attacker called these people out saying they are not true fans handing out his support to Raheem Sterling.

The Belgian star said via Standard Sport: “The only thing I can say is, I support the player. Sterling is a fantastic player.”
“There is an investigation, so we don’t know what will happen. They are called fans but, for me, they are not fans. Proper Chelsea fans just sing for Chelsea and enjoy the game.”
“I am fully supportive of Raheem and this kind of racism cannot be in the stadium anymore.”

Eden Hazard has been prolific for his club this season and helped his team claim a 2-0 victory against Manchester City providing both goals in the game.

Tottenham boss gives shocking transfer update

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Mauricio Pochettino
Mauricio Pochettino

Tottenham Hotspur boss, Mauricio Pochettino has hinted that there may not be a new arrival at the club in January.

Spurs failed to make any signing during the last transfer window.

Although this hasn’t really affected the North London club who are through to the Champions League last 16 and in touching distance with Premier League leaders, Liverpool and Manchester City.

However, with the busy festive period on the horizon, fatigue may begin to set in.

Still, the Argentine believes January additions take longer to gel, due to a lack of pre-season.

Lucas Moura, for instance, only got into his stride after proper preparation six months after his initial move.

Asked if he would be disappointed if they did not bring in anyone, he said: “No, not disappointed. I know very well that January is always difficult.

“In the same way, if you find some player, look what happened to different players that arrive in January last season.

“It takes time to understand and to perform, to fit with the team. Sometimes it’s better not to sign if you don’t find the right player.

“Sometimes, players who maybe don’t play too much they need to go and play in another (club). OK, you can manage, but players that cannot manage to spend all the season not being important in the team, that is the moment to talk with players that are maybe disappointed because they don’t play too much.

“Maybe the best decision is to send them on loan or to sell some players but that is about when the moment arrives to talk with different players.”

Tottenham fans will quite rightly be frustrated by these words. With the club so close to a title chase, it must be horrible for the fans to see the club so reluctant to invest in that extra quality that could well prove to be the difference in the title race.

Recent additions for both Liverpool (van Dijk) and Manchester City (Laporte) have greatly improved their respective clubs defensively.

The biggest worry for Spurs will be the lack of depth in their squad, particularly in midfield.

Ex-Liverpool striker regrets snubbing Manchester United and Barcelona

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El Hadji Diouf
El Hadji Diouf

Former Senegal forward, El Hadji Diouf, has revealed his regeret over joining Liverpool ahead of the likes of Manchester United and Barcelona.

Diouf, 38, was Africa’s hottest property after starring at the 2002 FIFA World Cup in Korea/Japan.

The skilful forward led his team to the quarter-final of the competition, beating the reigning champions France.

Diouf would eventually join the Reds but struggled in his two years there.

He managed just three goals in three years before heading for Bolton Wanderers.

The Senegalese international has never hidden his hatred for the Merseyside club since the unsuccessful spell.

“I can say today that the shirt that I regret wearing the most was Liverpool’s because if I were to do that part of my career again, I would have gone to FC Barcelona or Manchester United. At the time, they wanted me too,” he told French outlet RMC (via GetFootballNewsFrance.com).

Diouf has a particularly poor relationship with Steven Gerrard and has made his feelings on the club legend clear on a number of occasions.

“When I arrived I showed him he was nothing at all. He was nothing at all,” he previously said.

“He was afraid of looking into my eyes. He was afraid of talking to me. Let’s not forget when I arrived I did not ask for his shirt. He asked for my Senegal shirt for one of his mates.”

Gerrard fired back saying he had ‘no respect’ for the player during his underwhelming spell, while former Liverpool defender Jamie Carragher has been even more critical in his assessment.

“He has one of the worst strike rates of any forward in Liverpool history.

“He’s the only no.9 ever to go through a whole season without scoring. He was always the last one to get picked in training.”

Diouf subsequently had spells at Sunderland, Blackburn, Rangers, Leeds, Doncaster and Malaysia.

Considering his career path since that move to Liverpool, one can only wonder, if he did choose to sign for Manchester United or Barcelona, would he have performed any better? The player clearly thinks so.

Champions League: Marouane Fellaini strike sends Man United to last 16

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Marouane Fellaini
Marouane Fellaini

Swiss side, Young Boys showed no sign of youthfulness when they visited Manchester United on Wednesday in the Champions League.

Having gone down against Juventus, the Red Devils needed to win to keep up the momentum.

Anything other than maximum points would derail their chances with Valencia breathing down their neck.

United struggled to dominate the encounter in front of their fans.

As the board was raised to signal three minutes of injury time, United were still looking for their first goal at Old Trafford in the Champions League this season.

It was Marouane Fellaini who stood up to be counted in injury-time to give the hosts a dramatic victory over Young Boys and sent his side into the last 16 of the Champions League.

Fellaini collected Romelu Lukaku’s flick in the box from Luke Shaw’s pass, held off Loris Benito and, with the ball touching his hand in the process, turned to fire into the bottom corner.

The goal brought a wild reaction from United boss Jose Mourinho, who dumped a basket full of water bottles to the floor in celebration.

“I always try to give everything for the team whether I start or don’t start,“ Fellaini told United’s website. ” Everybody knows I am a team player.

“The manager has given me a lot of confidence. He trusts me. That is important for a player and I try to give it back and repay him on the pitch. I give everything for him, I feel comfortable and I am happy with him.”

“It’s always good to be in the Champions League. It’s going to be a good atmosphere at the Mestalla, Valencia are a good team, so we go there with no pressure and play our game.“

Fellaini’s goal was his second of the season in all competitions.

“It’s always good to score a goal but, for me, the most important thing is the three points,” he said.

“I think the supporters deserved that. I think that it was positive, I think the players were positive and aggressive.”

United though still trail Juventus in the group. The Italian side are unbeaten in the competition and are amongst the favourites to lift the title at the end of the season.

Former Manchester United man Cristiano Ronaldo will be hungry for a fourth Champions League title in as many years following an extremely successful period in Spain.

Drogba stuns football planet with retirement

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Didier Drogba
Didier Drogba

Football fans were left in shock after former Chelsea and Ivory Coast forward Didier Drogba confirmed his retirement as a player.

A late bloomer, Drogba began his career aged 18 at for Ligue 2 side Le Mans. He then enjoyed a rapid rise to Guingamp, Marseille and then Chelsea where he notched 164 goals in 381 appearances over two spells.

Those goals were crucial as it helped the Blues win the Premier League four times and the Champions League in 2012, as well as four FA Cup triumphs and three League Cup victories.

Drogba last played in the United States with Phoenix Rising, the second-tier club at which he is a co-owner.

He said: “When I think of the last 20 years of my professional career, looking at this picture cant [sic] make me more proud of what I’ve achieved as a player but most importantly how this journey has shaped me as a man.

“If anyone tells you your dreams are too big, just say thank you and work harder and smarter to turn them into reality. #alwaysbelieve

“I wanna thank all the players, managers, teams and fans that I have met and made this journey one of a kind!!!

“Also a huuuuge thank you and love to my family, my personal team for supporting me all my career during the ups and downs no matter what. Looking forward to the next chapter and hoping God will bless me as much as he did for my football career.”

When the 40-year-old left Chelsea, he joined the Chinese Super League side Shanghai Shenhua in the summer of 2012 but six months after he moved to Galatasaray in Turkey before returning to Stamford Bridge in July 2014.

A move to Major League Soccer franchise Montreal Impact followed and the Ivory Coast forward stayed in the US when taking up an opportunity in Phoenix.

Drogba holds the record as Chelsea’s highest-scoring foreigner and fourth in the all-time list.

For the Elephants, he scored 63 goals in 104 games.

Ex-Arsenal star reveals shock difference between Emery and Wenger

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Freddie Ljungberg
Freddie Ljungberg

Former Arsenal winger, Freddie Ljungberg, believes current Gunners boss, Unai Emery is entirely different from predecessor Arsene Wenger.

Ljunberg, 41, spent almost a decade with the Frenchman at the North London club.

He was a key member of that famous invincible squad that clinched two Premier League titles and three FA Cups, scoring in two finals including the victory in 2002.

However, barely six months in charge at the Emirates, Emery has already won the Swede over.

Ljunberg, who these days, is the Gunners’ U23 manager, believes with a bit more calmness and focus, the ex-PSG manager has been able to transform the team.

“There have certainly been some changes at the club since Arsene left,” said Ljungberg.

“Unai is very calm, composed and ­extremely detailed in what he ­expects. From Monday through to Friday, every single training session is very carefully planned.

“There is always a thought process to what the players are doing and the players have to be open-minded. They need to know their roles and what is expected of them.

“We speak regularly – and always after every U-23 game – because he wants that connection and for the teams below to replicate what ­happens in the first team.

“That’s fine for me because our principles are quite similar about how the game should be played – players who can play out from the back and not feel uncomfortable in any situation on the field. It’s detailed, with lots of ­information, but the philosophy is simple.”

Arsenal headed into the ­international break on the back of three successive draws, but they are unbeaten since ­August 18 – a ­16-match run that serves as evidence of Emery’s energetic impact.

Under Emery’s watch, the likes of Emile Smith Rowe, Julio Pleguezuelo and Ainsley ­Maitland-Niles have been given a taste of first-team action.

Like a proud dad, Ljunberg is pleased to see the youngsters take the leap up.

“My job is to get as many players up into the first team as possible. He can take as many as he wants,” he added.

“The important thing is to make sure the boys are ready because he is a manager who believes in young players and what they can do.

“That has always been a feature of successful Arsenal teams. I want to provide players who can go up because they have the ability. But they will also have to know how to do the dirty stuff, at times, when they need to dig deep.

“The manager wants players who are ready to make their mark, but they have to be able to be part of a ­structure. That’s the way he is. He wants players who can ­express themselves, but within a ­discipline. He has come in with new ideas, with ­energy and he wants to make the club better.”

Luka Jovic: Meet the 20-year-old interesting all Premier League sides

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Luka Jovic
Luka Jovic

There are some reoccurring themes in the German Bundesliga. Even when blindfolded, one could easily guess the champions – Bayern Munich. Alongside the title, the Bavarians prioritise another honour; the top scorer.

In the last five seasons, Robert Lewandowski has picked up the Kicker cannon for most goals thrice. The Pole’s incredible predatory instincts yielded over 20 strikes in those campaigns. On those two occasions, it went to Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Borussia Dortmund) and Alexander Meier (Eintracht Frankfurt).

Ironically, another Frankfurt striker is hoping to disrupt the theme this season. He is 20-year-old Luka Jovic on loan from Benfica. Jovic currently leads the goal log ahead of the likes of Paco Alcacer and Marco Reus. Lewandowski appears to still be reeling from a miserable World Cup.

Like many other Serb players, Jovic began his career at Red Star Belgrade in 2014. In just two years there, the youngster established himself potent goal poacher, striking 12 times in 42 matches. That’s almost one goal in every three matches.

That incredible form attracted Benfica. However the powerful forward failed to hit same heights in Portugal, shuttling between the reserves and first team squad. After failing to prove himself in the first year, impatient Benfica promptly farmed him out to Germany, never to return until the summer of 2019.

The Portuguese side will be glad they did. Jovic has now metamorphosed into one of the deadliest strikers in the whole of Europe. The 20-year-old was just one goal shy of reaching double figures last season, playing a mighty role as Frankfurt clinched the DFB-Portal.

This season, he hasn’t placed a foot wrong. He has obviously stepped up a level or three. You could even say ‘five’, the same as the number of goals he netted — only the third foreign-born Bundesliga player ever to do so — in a single-handed game.

There are players who need relatively few scoring chances,” Frankfurt coach Adi Hütter said recently. “Luka Jovic, for example, scores four times out of every five chances because he’s a poacher and, when he’s in the box, he knows where the goal is.”

Why Arsenal would be right to let Aaron Ramsey leave

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Ramsey

After an incredible decade, Aaron Ramsey is set to depart Arsenal next summer. The Gunners reportedly withdrew its four-year new deal initially placed on the table owing to the Welshman’s excessive wage demands.

It was speculated that the 27-year-old was aiming to match Mesut Ozil’s new £350,000-a-week deal. There was also another report that the player himself is pondering over a mega-offer from China. At least there, he would eclipse the German’s mammoth earnings.

Whatever the case may be, however, the Gunners would be justified to allow the attacking midfielder to depart. It is true that the 27-year-old who joined from Cardiff in 2008 for £5m is the club’s longest-serving player. But at the moment, he seems surplus to requirements.

No doubting Ramsey’s inert abilities. Calm in possession, capable of making the difference offensively and rapidly improving defensively, he is that the all-action midfielder many managers crave. His adeptness to slot anywhere in attack is an extra incentive for the team.

However, a combination of reasons may be responsible for his imminent exit. The major conundrum centres on his huge demands. Having assessed the midfielder, Unai Emery may have opted that the club’s already stretched wage bill would be better spent elsewhere as he realises the limitations of splashing the cash on new talent.

Besides central midfield appears overstocked already. Granit Xhaka, Matteo Guendouzi and Lucas Torreira all battling it out for two spots. Emery may have grasped strengthening other areas by flogging Ramsey in January.

Further forward, the Spaniard appears to have settled for Ozil as his henchman flanked by two from Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Alex Iwobi and Henrikh Mkhitaryan. Iwobi, in particular, is enjoying some resurgence under his new manager. His remarkable form isn’t cheering news to the Welshman at all.

“We’ve seen him (Ramsey) in the Euros dominating when he was absolutely fantastic, we’ve seen the season (2013-14) he has with Arsenal scoring 20-plus goals and was amazing, we’ve seen he can score in big games, winning cup finals,” Ian Wright told BBC Radio 5 live.

”But in respect of a consistent performer for the season, making the difference in the league when he’s needed? When was the last time he’s done that?”

“The impact he’s made in the last few games Iwobi, coming on and he’s actually replaced Ramsey and he’s made an impact.

“Maybe [Arsenal manager] Unai Emery has seen that.”

Cristiano Ronaldo on target but Juventus’ perfect run ends

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cristiano ronaldo

Portuguese superstar, Cristiano Ronaldo, grabbed another goal, but Juventus saw their perfect start to the Serie A season halted by Genoa on Saturday evening.

With an eye on the Bianconeri’s Champions League clash with Manchester United in the Champions League this week, Max Allegri rested Douglas Costa and Paulo Dybala.

His decision seemed like a masterstroke as Juventus were in front as early as the 18th minute.
It was Ronaldo who breathed life to an utterly dead encounter.
Joao Cancelo’s strike deflected into the path of the Portugal star, who made no mistake from close range.
Soon after Ronaldo went close to extending Juve’s lead in the 24th minute with a shot from close range, but Genoa shot-stopper Radu produced an excellent save to deny the Portuguese.

The visitors, meanwhile, were finding it tough to penetrate the thick Old Lady’s defence, which gave nothing away in their box.

The home side did push for more goals in the final 10 minutes of the first half, but Genoa defended well enough to keep the score at 1-0 at the break.

Genoa was threatening to pull level in the opening stages of the second half, which prompted Allegri to introduce Costa for Juan Cuadrado.

The visitors eventually got their way in the 67th minute when Daniel Bessa caught the Juve defence napping and nodded home from close range.

Dybala almost restored parity 10 minutes later, but the Argentine’s first-time strike sailed inches wide of the mark.

The Serie A champions threw everything forward in search of a winning goal in the latter stages but met stern resistance from the determined Genoa team.

Despite the stalemate, Juve maintained their foothold on the log.

Juve will now shift their focus to this week’s UEFA Champions League clash with United.

Fabregas enters Guinness World Record

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Cesc Faregas

When it comes to accolades, Cesc Fabregas stands tall among his peers despite his petite frame. Among a handful of trophies, the Spaniard has won the FIFA World Cup, Premier League and FA Cup twice.

Yet the Chelsea midfielder would definitely relish his new title – a place in the 2019 Guinness World Record for most assists in the Premier League.

Fabregas garnered 100 assists in the English top flight in the shortest amount of time.
He achieved this feat in just 293 matches, 74 fewer appearances than the previous record holder, Ryan Giggs (367 matches).

“I’m not the fastest, I’m not the strongest, I’m not the most flexible, I don’t jump high,” Fabregas told GWR. “But to achieve this record in my career is one of the proudest things in my job, because it is my job and I did it well.”

Fabregas smashed the record in 2016 when the Blues star laid on Willian to score their side’s second goal in a 4-2 win over Stoke at Stamford Bridge.

According to the playmaker, learning the ropes with the youth teams at Barcelona and getting to train alongside some truly great players during his time at Arsenal helped hone his craft.

“In the middle of training, I’d just had my mouth open. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing,” he said. “The first touches of Dennis Bergkamp, the finishing of Thierry Henry, the presence of Patrick Vieira, I was very fortunate.”

Fabregas also holds the record for most volley passes in 30 seconds by a pair – hitting 15 with Jamie Redknapp on Sky 1’s ‘A League of their Own’ in 2017.

The Spaniard, however, isn’t having the best of time under Maurizio Sarri. Fabregas has featured just four times and is yet to start a Premier League game.
Atletico Madrid is among potential suitors for the ex-Arsenal skipper.

Juventus goalkeeper Szczesny fires shot at Arsene Wenger

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Wojciech Szczesny
Wojciech Szczesny

Juventus goalkeeper, Wojciech Szczesny, has lashed out at Arsene Wenger for overreacting when he was caught smoking.
Szczesny, 28, spent 12 years at the Emirates before joining the Old Lady permanently last summer.
Throughout his time at the club, the Poland international star showed great potentials albeit with questionable off-field behaviour.
Szczesny was even caught smoking by his manager, something that didn’t go down well with the Frenchman.
Both have since departed North London yet the 28-year-old can’t seem to ignore those unpleasant memories.
“I feel like I am a regular guy. I used to smoke. I can’t do too much about it. I got fined by Arsene,” he told BBC Sport:
“I have massive respect for him but because it happened at the same time as I lost my spot in the starting line-up, it got massively overblown. I was 20 years old when I started playing in the Premier League.
“Maybe mentally I wasn’t quite prepared for it and that has earned me a reputation. But then you grow up, you mature. Now I am a husband and a father so life changes a little bit.”
Szczesny also opened up on his Arsenal regrets.
“I wanted to be at Arsenal for my whole career. It is the club I love. It is the club I still support. But then you grow up, you mature. I gave everything to play there.
“I regret not having done more there. I won two FA Cups and a Community Shield but I would have liked to win at least one Premier League title. But sometimes you have to think with your brain, not just your heart.”
Szczesny appears to have made the right choice leaving the Emirates.
After two impressive seasons at AS Roma, he moved to Juventus where he has cemented his place as the club’s undisputed first choice

Klopp gives brutal assessment of summer signing, Fabinho

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Fabinho
Fabinho

Jurgen Klopp doesn’t think Fabinho has what it takes to become an instant at Liverpool.

The Brazilian midfielder joined the Champions League finalists for £43.7m from AS Monaco.

Fabinho has racked up less than a minute of competitive action since then – making a late appearance as a substitute against Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League.

And, though the 24-year-old’s long wait for a full debut will come against Chelsea in the League Cup third-round clash, Klopp believes there is still a way to go until he is fully acclimatised.

According to the German, the Brazilian could take almost six months to gel.

“It’s not different between him and other players. It’s really not complicated, he just needs to get used to it,” the manager said.

“It’s about positioning, it’s about reaction, about spaces defensively, closing them, offensively using them.

“It’s a football team with a specific way of playing. It needs time, and they were all used to other football teams. So you have natural runs in a team.

“Like, let me say, a very famous movement here was Phil Coutinho. Half left, [cut] inside, nice shot! For this one, you needed somebody to overlap and make it difficult to defend, so that one defender at least is busy. Things like that explain it. It’s completely normal.

There’s no time to say, ‘I give you that, or that’, but it will happen. Because the game is so quick and intense, it needs to get natural. It’s not about changing these players, we want their football personality. They are here because of what they did.

“Three or five weeks sound like a long time in football, but to improve something you can give half a year, to really make the next step. That’s it.”

N’Golo Kante confirms PSG approach

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Kante
Kante

Chelsea midfielder, N’Golo Kante, has confirmed Paris Saint German’s showed genuine interest in signing him.

The 27-year-old was the subject of a mammoth offer from the Ligue 1 holders after impressing at last summer’s World Cup with France.

Kante played a crucial role as Les Bleues defied all odds to be crowned champions.

The ex-Leicester City star says PSG made contact over a potential move to the Parc des Princes but insists he is happy to remain at Stamford Bridge under Maurizio Sarri.

“There was no urge to go elsewhere after the World Cup,” Kante told RMC Sport.

“There were other clubs’ interests but after talking to Chelsea, things were clear. The club is counting on me and I feel good. The next logical step was to continue to Chelsea.

“There were some contacts [from PSG]. But after a discussion with Chelsea, I realised that the main thing was to feel good where I was.

“I am at Chelsea. It’s good for me to stay at Chelsea.”

Kante, the PFA Player Of The Year two years ago joined Chelsea in the summer of 2016 from Leicester for £32 million, having been an integral part of their incredible Premier League title-winning campaign.

He transferred that champions mentality to the Bridge, helping Antonio Conte to the league title on his first year on the job.

Norwich City legend Wes Hoolahan edges closer to West Brom

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Wes Hoolahan

Former Norwich City midfielder Wes Hoolahan is in talks with West Brom according to reports.

The 36-year-old became a free agent this summer after 10 years at Carrow Road where he made 354 appearances, scoring 53 goals.

It was thought the Irishman would move abroad, but it now looks like the Baggies could secure his services.

Fleetwood Town have equally been linked with the Irishman international who quit international football earlier this year after making 43 appearances for the Republic of Ireland.

It was alleged that the midfielder’s resolve was to win a new deal at Carrow Road.

That never happened.

“It’s a mixture of things that led me to make this decision but mainly age, I will be 36 soon, I’ll be 38 when the next Euros come around, so it’s time to move aside,” he said.

“I had two great campaigns with Ireland and the Euros in France was an amazing experience.”

According to the Eastern Daily Press, the attacking midfielder impressed many on trial at the Hawthorns.

West Brom boss Darren Moore appears excited by the prospect of adding Hoolahan to his squad, given his failure to sign Bradley Dack of Blackburn Rovers on deadline day.

Although he managed just one goal last season, Hoolahan notched seven the year prior and racked up over 100 games of Premier League experience.

Described as Ireland’s best attacking outlet during his spell at international level, the Dubliner would complement West Brom’s current squad at Championship level.

The Baggies are currently 10th in the table, but just four points off joint leaders Leeds United and Middlesbrough.

Hoolahan experience would be crucial in Moore’s top-flight promotion chase.

The midfielder’s career kicked off at hometown club Belvedere.

He then took weird routes through Shelbourne and Livingston to land in England.

He was handed that opportunity by Blackpool in 2006.

Disgust as in-demand goalkeeper joins 14th club

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David Stockdale

Former Fulham goalkeeper, David Stockdale, has made a surprise switch to the League One to join Southend United – his 14th professional club.

Stockdale made the emergency loan switch from Birmingham after being told by Gary Monk that he wasn’t in his plans.

The 32-year-old’s move comes as a huge surprise owing to links to Leeds United in recent weeks.

He is expected to head straight into the starting line-up against Peterborough United at Roots Hall.

The Essex club is currently without regular first choice shot-stopper Mark Oxley after he was sent off for violent conduct during a mass brawl in the closing stages of last week’s defeat to Charlton Athletic.

The Shrimpers boss Chris Powell was nurturing the idea of starting teenager Nathan Bishop who lined up against Cambridge United in the Checkatrade Trophy on Tuesday night.

However, Powell has now opted for the experienced Stockdale who has gained 390 appearances in his career.

And Shrimpers well-respected legend Darryl Flahavan who is goalkeeping coach at Birmingham is pleased the 32-year-old is heading to Roots Hall.

“I’m delighted for Stocky,” said Flahavan.

“It will be good for him to get some games and I really hope it goes well for him and he gets some good performances in and enjoys his football.”

Stockdale’s career has been all about transition.

He started off at Huddersfield Town in 2002 before moving on to York City same year.

He then kitted for three other lower sides in 10 years before grabbing Fulham’s attention.

The next decade has seen Stockdale confirm his status as a nomad, appearing for eight different teams.

These include Hull City, Leicester City, Ipswich Town, Rotherham and Brighton.

Yaya Toure taken: 5 free agents Premier League sides could still snap up

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Yaya Toure
Yaya Toure

The European transfer window was slammed shut last week. The Premier League wasn’t that tolerant, English sides were rushed off the market earlier than usual. Even with the window well shut, some players could still move to its top-tier. These ones are known as free agents.

Finding a top club could sometimes be gruelling, especially for those on the wrong side of thirty, Yaya Toure is a perfect example. Despite eight trophy-laden years at Manchester City, the 35-year-old’s rich resume couldn’t get him another job in England. You can imagine the ordeal of lesser-known players with fewer qualifications.

It is true that free things can’t guarantee genuine quality but sometimes, it does. Certain players have proven shrewd additions despite not commanding any outlay. Robert Lewandowski. Andre Pirlo. Jack Wilshere. All were at some point free agents yet added value to their new sides.

As the international break is winding up, here are five freebies Premier League clubs should consider.

John Terry 

At his peak, Terry was up there with the world’s best centre-backs. But at 37, he’s no longer the player he was. Still, the Chelsea legend has some fuel left to burn in the Premier League. But his loyalty to the Blues may not allow him.

Terry spent last season at Aston Villa in the Championship – possesses leadership qualities some clubs would benefit from. His charisma, doggedness and determination helped the club reach the promotion play-off. A mid-table team could make full use of his industry.

Samir Nasri

Currently serving a ban for using a drip treatment at a Los Angeles clinic, Nasri will be free to return to training with any club in November. The last couple of years has been turbulent for the Frenchman who left Manchester City under a cloud which hovered in short spells at Sevilla and Antalyaspor.

Motivation is the biggest question mark against the 31-year-old, but there should be no doubting his talent once he returns to availability later this year. Nasri made his mark in England with Arsenal before joining the City revolution. He could still cut it at the highest level.

Lacina Traore

Standing at 6ft 8in, Lacina Traore is one of the tallest footballers in the game yet his physique can’t find him a club after being released by Amiens. A nomad, the 28-year-old has played for eight different sides in less than a decade since leaving his native Ivory Coast.

He had one forgettable year in the Premier League at Everton, on loan from Monaco. Traore started just once for the Toffees and didn’t come close to finding the net. The 28-year-old would definitely relish a second chance, the likes of Huddersfield, Cardiff and Burnley could use with his physical presence.

Bakary Sako 

After three years at Crystal Palace, the Mali international departed this summer with plenty of goodwill if little else to show for it. Sako wasn’t the most popular at Selhurst Park. He managed just five goals in almost 50 top-flight matches.

Sako made his name at Wolves where plundered 36 strikes in three years. A return to the Molineux or Palace would be welcomed by the forward.  Sako turned 30 this year but could prove a shrewd signing for these sides.

Vincent Enyeama 

Enyeama is distinct in two ways. The Nigerian is a goalkeeper and has never cut his teeth in England. He gained a massive fanbase during his time in the French Ligue 1 and Israeli league. In both, the 36-year-old proved a reliable custodian of repute.

In Israel, he won the league crown twice and picked up the overall best player award once. Before falling out of favour at Lille, he was considered untouchable. Enyeama flaunted incredible reflexes, positioning and superb ball-playing ability. At 36, he’s still got some years ahead and a final move to England would be a dream come true.

Why Premier League clubs want US-based teen Nigerian forward

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Geroge Bello

Three top English sides –  Manchester City, Chelsea and Everton are currently going full-circle for the signature of 16-year-old Atlanta forward, Geroge Bello. That the youngster has garnered just 13 minutes in his club’s first team says a lot.

Atlanta have been the pacesetters in the Major League Soccer this term.  Until last Sunday’s shocking collapse at DC United, they had swept other sides aside in the Eastern Conference. They were top for goals scored and had conceded the least.

A bulk of its offensive workload was thrust on Venezuelan, Josef Martinez. The ex-Torino poacher gracefully took up the challenge with aplomb. Martinez eclipsed the MLS record for most goals in a single season with his 28th in Five Stripes’ winner over Orlando City last week.

Roy Lassiter set the old mark in 1996, MLS’ debut campaign, 22 years ago. San Jose Earthquakes’ Chris Wondolowski matched it in 2012 as did Bradley Wright-Phillips of the New York Red Bulls two years later. He could perhaps reach the 40-goal threshold should he maintain this form.

Martinez’s terrifyingly good streak has made him somewhat of a local superstar in Georgia. His fan-base is stretching across Europe. A handful of scouts are sniffing around the club’s Mercedes-Benz Stadium, but surprisingly the majority didn’t come for Martinez, it’s Bello whom they were hoping to catch a glimpse of.

The United States U17 starlet is highly regarded by his club. Considered the complete package, Bello who plays primarily as a left-back offers equal quality in attack and defence. His lightning pace, incredible runs and technical abilities make him a handful for teams to deal with yet he wasn’t afforded the platform to flaunt it.

Finally, he got it against DC. Many of his admirers may have missed the rendition. Bello, himself was unaware until an assistant coach told him minutes before his No. 21 flashed on the board held by the fourth official. He was asked to attack and put in as many crosses as he could to Martinez.

“I think he did a good job,” Atlanta United manager Gerardo Martino said. “He took initiative when he went in, which is what he asked him to do.”

He began training with Atlanta United’s first team weeks ago after injuries to Greg Garza (shoulder), Sal Zizzo (knee) and Mikey Ambrose (knee) depleted the depth at fullback.

Bello wasn’t impressed with his debut but the foreign visitors were. According to Calciomercato, Everton is leading the chase for the Nigerian-born defender. Although the Toffees have already signed Lucas Digne, they are hoping to find a long-term successor for Leighton Baines.

Marco Silva’s team isn’t the only ones interested, Chelsea and City make up the English suitors, AS Roma, Schalke and Genoa are also thought to have made moves for the 16-year-old.

Steven Gerrard confirms move for experienced Gareth McAuley

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Gareth McAuley
Gareth McAuley

Steven Gerrard has reacted to speculations linking seasoned Premier League campaigner Gareth McAuley to Rangers. McAuley, 38, left West Brom after suffering relegation from the Premier League in May.

The Northern Irishman spent seven years at Hawthorns, racking up over two-century appearances with 15 goals. He is expected to find a new club and the Glasgow giants are one of many suitors to have shown interest.

And Gerrard, who faced the 38-year-old on a number of occasions during his time at Liverpool has revealed that he could join “in the coming days”.

Speaking after their first defeat of the season against Celtic at Parkhead, Gerrard stumbled into questions about the Northern Irishman.

Olivier Ntcham’s goal from a sudden Celtic counter-attack was the match decider but Gerrard was adamant that there was a foul on Rangers midfielder Ryan Jack in the build-up.

“It’s definitely a foul. I’ve been around the game a very, very long time and that’s a foul in my book. It’s actually a foul in the fourth official’s book as well because he’s shouting down the mic, ‘Foul, foul, foul’,” he said.

“The referee’s ignored the information – we can both see clearly it’s a foul. And they go and score a goal.

“I just went in and had a calm chat [with the referee] and wondered why he never listened to the man on the side – the fourth official – and how he hasn’t seen a clear swipe from (Tom) Rogic on Ryan Jack.

“Ryan Jack gets his body in between the ball and the man and he gets swiped, it’s a clear foul. It’s blatant….for me it’s 100 per cent foul.”

He will become Steven Gerrard’s 15th signing and will compete with Connor Goldson and Nikola Katic for a start.

McAuley has 79 caps for Northern Ireland.

He had spells at Ipswich Town, Leicester City before landing at the Baggies.

Is Alvaro Morata using Chelsea to earn a Madrid return?

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Alvaro Morata
Alvaro Morata

They say home is where the heart is and for Alvaro Morata, home remains Real Madrid.

Morata was born in Madrid. His footballing conquests began at quite an early age there. Atletico Madrid offered the young forward his first breakthrough in 2005, but it was at  bitter rivals, Real Madrid that he actually sprung in to the limelight.

Being a native of Spain’s capital, there was always that extra drive to prove himself at home. Neither Rojiblancos nor Los Blancos offered that platform. Morata was forced to Getafe, still, in Madrid metropolitan area, after limited playing time at Ramon Calderon. In two years, he proved a potent forward. Real came knocking and he couldn’t resist.

Morata was only 12, so had to cut his teeth with the juvenile team. But after one year, it was apparent he was a mismatch for his peers. The young forward notched 34 goals as Real clinched two titles. He was immediately promoted to Castilla – the club’s second-string side.

His remarkable poacher’s artistry didn’t stop there. Morata averaged a goal in every two games in three years with the B-team. He made his first-team debut around that time. His 37 league appearances yielded 10 goals, yet Real didn’t think twice about letting him leave.

Morata continued his meteoric rise at Juventus. Fearless, brave and bold, the Spaniard took Italian football by storm. In two seasons there, he left an indelible legacy. Part of his motivation was to earn a return back home. Real kept track. They didn’t hesitate to trigger his buyout clause.

Back home, Morata was more matured and a complete package. Karim Benzema wasn’t delivering. He was expected to push away the French mercenary. Despite a superior return, however, it was the native who was farmed out again. This time to Chelsea.

Morata’s first Premier League season didn’t go as planned. Although he began firing on all cylinders, the goals withered as the campaign progressed. He became a shadow of his former self. His tactical awareness, positional sense and offensive movement all vanished. He struggled to reach double digits in the league.

This season, however, the 25-year-old is looking sharper than ever. Confidence and enthusiasm are sky high. Although he’s buried just one strike in four matches, the signs are positive. Maurizio Sarri’s attacking brand appears to have revived the forward.

“Is it better with Sarri than Conte? Yes, for the style of play. It [Conte’s gameplan] was not my style of play and I suffered a little,” he admitted. “In today’s world, it [criticism] is normal. Chelsea made a major effort for me and it was not returned.”

It is a truthful yet shocking assessment considering both enjoyed some incredible time in Italy which resulted in his homecoming. Yet again there are talks about a potential reunion with Real. Morata isn’t ruling the possibility especially after success with Moriano.

“I am happy at Chelsea but I have many years ahead in my career if God and injuries allow it. Mariano said Madrid never close the door and look what happened. You never know.

“I’m in Chelsea, not in a team that is very inferior. It is clear that Madrid are the best in the world and everyone wants to be there but I’m not envious [of Mariano].”

Only time will tell whether Morata will ditch Chelsea for his third Lol Blancos stint.