Analysis

10 Stars Who Could Set A Transfer Record This Summer Ft. Man Utd, Arsenal & Chelsea Targets

The Premier League’s big spenders are set to do it all again this summer to bring some of the finest players to English football and strengthen their sides for the forthcoming campaign.

English football’s rise of TV revenue has lead to Premier League side’s paying a premium price on the transfer market and inflation over recent years has seen players cost more and more, with transfer records being set regularly.

Paul Pogba became the world’s first €100m player last year when he sealed a move from Juventus to Manchester United but his record is likely to be broken in the coming months, with audacious fees being mentioned- some in excess of £120m.

With the likelihood that records will be smashed this summer, we’ve identified ten players who could become the most expensive players in the history of world football in the coming  months if they secure a lucrative move- and it features a number of Premier League targets.

Kylian Mbappe (Monaco)

The hottest name in world football right now, teenage sensation Kylian Mbappe has been linked with a host of Europe’s top-sides this summer, including Arsenal, Real Madrid and Paris Saint-Germain, but Monaco are determined to keep hold of his services.

Mbappe’s ability and the fact Monaco don’t want to sell means his price-tag will be driven higher and higher, with reports already indicating a deal could cost in excess of £120m- a sensational figure for this year’s breakthrough star.

Liverpool Join Spurs In Pursuit Of Highly-Rated Bundesliga Midfielder

Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur are both seeking additions this summer to bolster their squads for the Champions League next season and the two Premier League sides are reportedly tracking the same man.

The Daily Star state Liverpool have been monitoring German U21 starlet Max Meyer during the U21 European Championships this month, whilst Tottenham have long been credited with an interest in the Schalke starlet.

Already a full German international, Meyer’s price-tag is said to have dropped below the £20m mark as he enters the final 12 months of his contract with Schalke- presenting the opportunity for both Premier League sides to secure a bargain.

An offer of regular first-team football to Meyer will be crucial to any negotiations, as he’ll be desperate to seal a spot in Joachim Lowe’s World Cup squad this summer, but Schalke are standing firm despite their difficult position.

What’s the situation?

Revealed by DW Sports on Twitter, Schalke are set to keep Meyer at the club for the forthcoming season despite the fact that the 21-year-old confirmed earlier this month he had decided not to renew with his German employers.

The Bundesliga side have faced a difficult few seasons, which included losing their former young star Julian Draxler to Wolfsburg, and it appears the club are set to be resilient this summer. However, it does mean Meyer could be available on a free transfer.

Should Meyer decide to try and force an exit after the U21 European Championships, where Germany face England in tomorrow’s semi-final, a deal bringing him to the Premier League could go ahead- but there’s likely to be interest from elsewhere in Europe.

Chelsea Eyeing Four Stars In Incredible £240m Spending Spree

Chelsea have been relatively quiet in the few months since the Premier League campaign drew to a close but it appears Antonio Conte is ready to make big waves on the market in the coming weeks.

The majority of transfer reports regarding the Blues so far this month have orientated around potential departures, with Nemanja Matic said to be closing in on a reunion with Jose Mourinho at Manchester United whilst Diego Costa has been informed he’s surplus to requirements.

That leaves Chelsea under pressure to bolster their ranks, as Conte’s side lacks significant depth and will be tested by a return to Champions League football next season- but the Italian is ready to spend big and improve his side.

The Daily Express reports Conte is eyeing quality over quantity and is ready to splash an incredible £240m in the transfer market over the course of the next few months, with numerous deals likely to surpass the club-record £50m Chelsea paid Liverpool for Fernando Torres.

Additions are set to be made from front to back, leaving Chelsea with a phenomenal side that’s certainly capable of defending their Premier League crown next season.

Who’s being targeted?

The reports state that Alex Sandro is closing in on a £61m transfer from Juventus, adding depth to Chelsea’s defensive ranks, whilst Monaco midfielder Tiemoue Bakayoko is set to join the Brazilian at Stamford Bridge.

Those stellar additions would slot straight into the first-team and another defensive signing is being eyed in the form of Virgil Van Dijk, who is another player likely to surpass Chelsea’s current transfer record if a deal goes ahead.

Conte’s final target is Everton’s Romelu Lukaku, with a £70m deal said to be on the table, but the Toffees could demand a further £10m to see a deal go ahead- which would put the Belgian up there with the most expensive players in the history of world football.

How would Chelsea line-up?

These four huge additions would likely come straight into Chelsea’s starting XI, leading to a number of changes from the side that stormed to Premier League success last season- with the most notable additions coming at the back.

Signing Sandro would likely replace Marcos Alonso on the left-side, with Van Dijk’s addition in the centre allowing Cesar Azpilicueta the opportunity to return to his more natural position on the right-side of defence.

Bakayoko would join N’Golo Kante in the centre of midfield, handing the two-time Premier League champion the midfield partner he lacked in his debut season at Stamford Bridge, whilst Lukaku would replace Diego Costa up-front.

All-Time Premier League Most Expensive XI Ft. Man Utd & Chelsea

The Premier League has become the home of the most expensive transfer additions in recent years, with billions being splashed out to bring the finest talents to English football.

Despite this, English sides have failed to kick-on in their quest to conquer European football and have fallen behind the likes of Spain, Italy, Germany and even France in the race for the Champions League trophy.

The likes of Manchester United, Chelsea and Manchester City will be looking to change that next season though when they return to European action and the Premier League will boast five clubs in Europe’s elite competition, with Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur also in the running.

Spectacular fees are likely to be spent once again this summer, potentially setting world records, but we’ve moved to assemble the most expensive XI in Premier League history so far- in a set-up that’s dominated by both Manchester clubs and Chelsea.

Before we start, it’s worth noting that all fees and records are correct as of 26th June 2017 and all figures were taken from TransferMarkt.

GK: Ederson (£34m)

Signed by Manchester City from Portuguese outfit Benfica this month, the £34m price-tag for Ederson easily surpassed the previous record-figure paid by a Premier League side for a goalkeeper and was narrowly ahead of the £30m fee Everton paid for Jordan Pickford two-weeks later.

The 23-year-old Brazilian is set to become City’s first-choice goalkeeper for the forthcoming campaign after last summer’s acquisition of Claudio Bravo proved to be a failure, as the Chilean failed to live-up to expectation and endured plenty of troubles.

3 Big Money Signings Arsenal Are Reportedly In Talks To Make This Summer

Arsenal appear to be ready to fight with the top clubs to secure the very best talent this summer. With the rumour mill in full flow, we take a look at three players strongly linked with a move to The Emirates this summer.

1 – Kylian Mbappe

Age: 18
Position: Forward
Estimated Cost: £110million

The dream signing, but is it realistic? Mbappe is a player that has attracted interest from all around Europe after his incredible rise to prominence this season has made heads turn. The latest reports suggest that Arsenal have a chance of signing him due to the fact that Arsene Wenger has been extremely instrumental in the process of convincing the player that a move to Arsenal may be the best route forward for his career. Starting the season as a fringe player, Monaco were hesitant at first to start Mbappe this season, but he soon proved his quality and forced his way into the team permanently. In the Champions League, he was particularly impressive, scoring 6 from 6 starts and 3 sub apps. In the league, he netted 15 times and made 8 assists from 17 starts and 12 sub appearances. Any deal for Mbappe will certainly cost in excess of £100million, making him the world’s most expensive player if he did move, and he’s just 18…

The Most Expensive Arsenal XI In The Club’s History

Arsenal have successfully established themselves as one of the biggest clubs in world football and the Gunners have enjoyed a wealth of success in the Premier League era.

Winning three domestic crowns since 1992, the last of which came in 2004, Arsenal have also established themselves as the most successful club in FA Cup history- whilst manager Arsene Wenger has lifted more FA Cups than anyone else.

Naturally as a big club, Arsenal have to spend big funds to sign top players but the Gunners have seemed more reluctant to do so than their arch-rivals in the division, until recently of course as Wenger parted with over £100m last summer.

The majority of Arsenal’s most expensive dealings have come in recent years but there’s still a few names from the past that stand-out there as significant deals, so we’ve assembled the most-expensive Arsenal XI in the club’s history.

Before we start, we must mention that this is not just Arsenal’s most expensive 11 signings and is instead a line-up of their most expensive recruits across all positions throughout the years. All figures were collected from TransferMarkt.

GK: Petr Cech (£11.9m)

After a whopping 333 Premier League appearances for Chelsea, Petr Cech moved across London in 2015 to become Arsenal’s first-choice goalkeeper- after Thibaut Courtois’ return to Stamford Bridge from Atletico Madrid pushed the veteran stopper down the pecking order.

Since then, Cech has lifted the FA Cup and Community Shield with Arsenal, making 69 Premier League appearances in total. Now 35, and showing signs of decline, rumours have speculated that Arsenal are in search of a long-term replacement.

Spanish Side Agree Deal To Sign International Ace From Manchester United

Manchester United are set for a wealth of business activity this summer as they look to challenge for the Premier League title next season and compete upon their return to the Champions League.

The Red Devils won the League Cup and Europa League last season but still endured a campaign that didn’t live up to their lofty expectations, with Jose Mourinho’s side finishing sixth in the Premier League- seven points off the top-four.

Activity at Old Trafford this summer is likely to involve both incoming and outgoing deals, with The Daily Mail stating one exit is close as Spanish outfit Real Sociedad have reportedly agreed a £10m deal to sign Adnan Januzaj from the Red Devils.

After excelling in the 2013 campaign under David Moyes’ tenure, Januzaj earned a call-up to the Belgian national side but has seen his career decline vastly since the Scottish boss left Old Trafford and he’s no surplus to requirements.

What’s happened?

Following his starring performances for Manchester United during David Moyes’ ill-fated tenure at the club, many expected Januzaj to become an important figure for the Red Devils- especially after he was handed the number 11 jersey in 2014, formerly worn by United legend Ryan Giggs.

After making 27 Premier League appearances during his breakthrough year in 2013/14, Januzaj made 18 appearances the following season but struggled to replicate the fine form he previously showed. It then became clear there was no way back for the youngster, who moved to Manchester United at the age of just 16.

Five Premier League appearances followed in the 2015/16 season but Januzaj also endured a failed loan stint with Borussia Dortmund, earning just six Bundesliga appearances before having his spell at the club terminated prematurely, and he failed to impress on-loan with relegated Sunderland last season.

Amidst all of Januzaj’s problems, Manchester United brought in the likes of Anthony Martial and Henrikh Mkhitaryan, whilst Marcus Rashford and Jesse Lingard are amongst those who have made a claim for regular opportunities ahead of Januzaj.

What does the deal involve?

Significantly for Januzaj, there may be the chance of a redemption in his career as The Daily Mail indicates Manchester United are keen to include a buy-back clause in the deal that would take the young winger to Real Sociedad this summer.

Mourinho rates Januzaj as surplus to requirements but the Red Devils willingness to set-up the option for the Belgian to return shows the club believe he could still become a superstar- and it’s clear they’re learning their lesson from the previous departures of Paul Pogba and Michael Keane.

Incidentally, a £10m deal for Januzaj (€11.39m) would make the Belgian the Spanish side’s third most expensive signing in history, according to TransferMarkt, behind only Asier Illarramendi and Carlos Vela.

Tottenham Prepare For Cut-Price Swoop To Land International Midfielder

Tottenham Hotspur face a challenge this summer to show they’re here to stay at the top-end of the Premier League, which will be difficult as the club has to cope with a campaign playing their home games at Wembley Stadium.

Spurs’ talented young side has excelled in recent seasons but there are some questions remaining around Mauricio Pochettino’s squad, notably regarding how long the Lilywhites can keep their starring squad intact and away from the clutches from top-sides across Europe.

Some high-profile exits could occur this summer, with Kyle Walker consistently linked with a move to Manchester City, but Pochettino seems intent on securing impressive signings to bolster his side for the forthcoming season.

The Sun states the Argentine boss is set to revive interest in Schalke starlet Max Meyer, following an approach last summer that saw the German side demand £39m for the midfielder, but the 21-year-old is set to be available for around half-price during this summer window.

Currently on duty with Germany’s U21 side at the European Championships, Meyer’s future is likely to be resolved after his nation’s involvement in Poland ends- but it seems increasingly likely that Meyer will move away from Schalke.

What’s the deal?

Reportedly available for just £17.5m this summer, less than half of Schalke’s asking price a year ago, Spurs could benefit from a bargain deal due to the fact that Meyer has rebuffed the Bundesliga side’s offers of a new contract.

Meyer will be keen to assert himself ahead of the World Cup next summer, as he seeks to force his way into Joachim Lowe’s plans, and Schalke’s tenth-placed finish in the Bundesliga last season means he will have no European football next season.

Therefore a move to the Premier League, with Tottenham able to provide Champions League involvement, will appeal to Meyer but the 21-year-old has previously suggested he could remain in his current surroundings and leave on a free transfer next summer.

What’s been said?

Quoted by The Sun, Meyer previously said:

“I have not said I will leave Schalke, simply that I won’t extend my contract. I know there was interest in me last summer but the club immediately put a stop to it so the matter was settled.”

“There is still hope things will be better for me at the club. We will have to see what happens.”

Schalke would prefer to sell this summer and receive cash for his services rather than lose their talented asset on a free transfer in 12 months time though, which has left Spurs confident a deal can be struck over the course of the coming months.

Salah Signs: How Liverpool Could Line-Up Next Season

Liverpool secured their first major signing of the summer yesterday with the acquisition of Mohamed Salah from Roma, arriving for a deal reportedly worth around £34m.

The former Chelsea man has excelled following his move to the Serie A, after struggling to make an impact with the Blues at Stamford Bridge, and adds class to Liverpool’s wide options next season- which is crucial ahead of the Reds’ return to the Champions League.

Boasting an impressive 15 goals and 11 assists in 31 Serie A appearances last season, figures that are both more than any Liverpool players managed last season, Salah is a sensational coup for Jurgen Klopp’s side that could lead the Reds towards glory.

Anfield is sure to be rocking upon the club’s return to Champions League action and Salah could help the Reds enjoy a season to remember, as he slots into the club’s line-up next season comfortably- and he’s unlikely to be the final recruit for the Reds this summer.

Here, we’ve taken a look at how Liverpool could line-up next season with Salah in their ranks- and we’ve included some new faces who could follow the Egyptian ace to Anfield.

GK: Simon Mignolet

Liverpool’s capture of Loris Karius from Mainz last summer was supposed to bring the end of Simon Mignolet between the sticks for the Reds but the German’s inability to settle into the rigours of the Premier League meant Jurgen Klopp opted to hand Mignolet his spot again.

The Belgian stopper impressed last season with some fine performances but still seems a way off being the sort of goalkeeper that can lead Liverpool to success, which means he’ll remain under pressure next season- particularly in the Champions League.

Arsenal Confident Of Securing Club-Record Deal For Star Forward

Arsenal are determined to show they mean business this summer and Arsene Wenger seems ready to splash the cash, with the Gunners looking to end a 13-year wait for a Premier League title.

The North London giants continued their renaissance in May by lifting their third FA Cup crown in four years but the Gunners have remained short of fighting for league success, whilst they’ve also failed to move forward with their exploits on the continent.

Arsenal’s summer signings will be brought in with the hope that they can kick-start a new revolution for the Gunners and Monaco ace Kylian Mbappe is top of their wish-list, with a deal set to shatter the club-record £42.5m spent on Mesut Ozil in 2013.

Wenger’s side face a wealth of competition for Mbappe’s signature, with The Mirror stating Paris Saint-Germain have launched a world-record £119m bid for the teenager and Spanish outlet Marca claiming Liverpool have seen a bid of their own rejected.

Interestingly though, it seems Arsenal are very much in the race for one of the most exciting young prospects within European football.

What’s the latest?

Football.London state Arsenal are ready to make a fresh bid for Mbappe with Arsene Wenger’s confidence of securing a deal growing in recent weeks, so much so that the Gunners are reportedly preparing an audacious offer that would eclipse the approach from PSG.

Mbappe held talks with Monaco regarding his future last week, after returning from international duty with France, and seems increasingly likely to leave this summer despite the French principality outfit being desperate to keep their star-man.

Arsenal believe their approach could be the ideal move for Mbappe at this stage of his career, allowing him to continue his development and being assured of regular first-team football, with The Telegraph stating the 18-year-old is open to a move to North London.

Arsene Wenger’s track record of nurturing young players in playing to the Gunners advantage and the opportunity for Mbappe to become the leading man at the Emirates Stadium is significant ahead of a World Cup year.

Could it really happen?

Despite Arsenal’s confidence and all the positive news flowing the way of Gooners, it would still be a massive shock to see Mbappe move to North London this summer- especially as it would see the Gunners set a world transfer record.

Wenger has previously been tight with his spending, with Arsenal’s club-record deals being significantly less than some of their main rivals, although the French boss has shown willingness to change in recent years- spending over £100m last summer.

Splashing such an audacious amount on one player doesn’t seem to fit the Wenger mould though but it’s clear Arsenal do need to spend this summer and securing a deal for a player like Mbappe would certainly ease the pressure on the shoulders of the long-serving boss.

Chelsea’s Possible Line Up Next Season Including Lukaku & 4 New Signings

Chelsea will be desperate to make some additions to their squad over the summer, with the club looking to build on their title win last season with an assault on Europe.

GK – Thibaut Courtois

There’s been reported interest from both Madrid clubs, but Chelsea will want to ensure they keep hold of Courtois who is one of the best keepers in Europe. He is a world class player that needs

Arsenal Duo Set To Clash In Confederations Cup

After both winning their opening group games, Chile will face Germany in a Confederations Cup clash, with the winner of the game almost certain to top the group and head into the knockout stages.

With Germany naming a weakened squad for the competition, Arsenal’s Shkodran Mustafi has been put at the heart of the countries defence and on Thursday night he will have to battle with Alexis Sanchez in a duel that will surely have a huge impact on the outcome of the game.

Alexis was a substitute in Chile’s first game against Cameroon but he came off the bench to set up both of his teams goals in a 2-0 victory. This highlighted his importance to the Chile attack and the manager will more than likely opt to start with the Arsenal man for this big game.

Mustafi and Germany made hard work of overcoming Australia in what ended as a 3-2 win for the World Champions.

On paper it looks like it will be a close game and the odds reflect that – Chile vs. Germany betting odds.

Whilst you’d back a full strength Germany to win the game, they do have a somewhat second-string side at the tournament, on the contrary, Chile have brought their star players including Alexis and Arturo Vidal.

For me, I think Alexis will prove to be the difference in the game, and considering it will be a fixture that will be watched worldwide, he will be keen to show the world what he can do, with his contract situation currently up in the air.

With the likes of Bayern Munich, PSG and possibly Juventus reportedly interested in signing the Chilean, could a top performance in this game see one of those clubs stump up the amount of money needed to see him leave Arsenal?

Another player that is worth looking out for in this fixture, is Germany’s Leon Goretzka. The young midfielder is attracting interest from several top European clubs and even Arsenal have been mooted as a potential destination. He scored in the opening game of the tournament but his ability to control the midfield is what he is known best for. He is quite a physical player for his age and that is arguably something that Arsenal need to add to their midfield.

There’s no doubt that there will be some scouts in the crowd for this fixture, watching Goretzka amongst others. There is plenty of talent on show and with all the big clubs in Europe looking to improve this summer, expect to see some players playing for moves and new contracts.

Arsenal’s Potential XI Next Season (3-4-3) Including Mbappe & 4 New Signings

Arsenal look set for a summer of mass change. Wenger has led Arsenal to a 5th placed finish this season, the first time in his tenure that the club have finished outside of the top four. With their title rivals spending big around them, the Gunners have no choice but to join in with the spending, or they may be left behind. The rumour mill is in full flow and Arsenal have already been linked with a move for several players in this window – in this article, I take a look at a possible lineup for Arsenal next season.

GK – Petr Cech

Cech has had an up and down season, but he finished the season strong and I believe he has re-affirmed his position as number one at Arsenal. Szczesny and Ospina are both set to be sold, so Wenger could be set to bring a new young keeper in, but for the time being at least, I think Cech will keep his place next season.

How Real Madrid can beat Juventus in the Champions League final:

Tonight, we will see two giants of European football face off in Cardiff for the UEFA Champions League final, something that both Real Madrid and Juventus cherish so much. Both sides could lay claim to being the “best’ in Europe, and this game will show who of the two really are the best, but it will not be that simple. Juve and Madrid have been outstanding this season and it will take a huge effort for one of these sides to win, but how can Real Madrid beat the Italian champions? Will they have a game plan, or will they have to rely on the individual brilliance of Cristiano Ronaldo?

As mentioned previously in the piece “How Juventus can beat Real Madrid in the Champions League“, Juve will allow Madrid to keep the ball and put pressure onto them. In previous rounds, this has worked for Juventus as they’ve managed to keep out Barcelona and Monaco this way, but Madrid can manipulate this to their own advantage. Barcelona and Monaco used their key attacking players to dictate play (Messi, Silva), Madrid have their two deep-lying playmakers to do this for them. Ronaldo, Benzema and Isco can roam free in the final third whilst Toni Kroos and Luka Modric sit deep and look to pick the Juve lock.

Kroos and Modric can float around the midfield with the ball and create space for the attacking trio whilst Casemiro sits deep and acts as the enforcer of the midfield. With them two roaming around, Juve’s midfield may find it hard to keep track of them and may let them slip through the cracks, but nevertheless, these two hold the key to the game and can be the match winners without even scoring a goal.

Defensively, Madrid are reasonably resolute with Casemiro occasionally dropping in as a third centre back when Marcelo and Carvajal bomb forward to support the attackers. Sergio Ramos and Raphael Varane will provide a solid base for Madrid, but they will have to be careful when Dybala is running at them, with Ramos prone to the odd red card every now and again. The central defenders may be a weak link, but the full backs are definitely a strong point in this team, especially Marcelo.

Much like Dani Alves for Juventus, Marcelo will act more like a forward than a defender, providing width to a narrow side. His pace on the counter will prove to be vital in forward moves from Los Blancos, but he will need to be switched on at all times and prevent the opposite full back stealing a march on him when he goes on his forward bursts.

Width is huge in this game but Madrid must not put all their eggs in that basket, especially with the talent they have. Much like the midfield, the forward trio will have enough license to roam free. Isco, Ronaldo and Benzema may be a group that Juve’s defence can deal with, but with fast flowing movement, quick, intricate passing and runs in behind can be what Madrid need to take home the trophy. Cristiano Ronaldo has the ability to change the game at any moment and with Isco in the form of his life and Benzema remaining consistent, Madrid have the attacking players to win anything but will need to be on top, top form to beat this Juventus defence.

This game is almost impossible to predict. These two teams are fantastic and have world class players across the pitch, but both teams can pick the flaws out of one another and will capitalise at any given moment. Kroos and Modric hold the key to success for Madrid, but in a Champions League final, you just never know what Real Madrid can pull out of their bag of tricks.

Chelsea’s Double Denial Reinforces Need For Summer Spending

Chelsea weren’t meant to lose this FA Cup final. Everything was pointing towards the Blues sweeping an injury-riddled Arsenal aside having been able to rest after securing the title. Antonio Conte was going to notch the club’s second double and Arsene Wenger would be left in a muddle once again.

From the off Arsenal were far the better side. Chelsea were dominated centrally, as N’golo Kante and Nemanja Matic could not handle the quartet of Granit Xhaka, Aaron Ramsey, Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez. Conte could have seen his side fall behind by several goals and, in truth, the Blues were fortunate not be humiliated.

Whether we want to buy the ‘complacent’ narrative or see this as a renaissance for an Arsenal side that have recently embarked on a rare tactical adaptation, it was a reminder that this Chelsea incarnation are far from invincible. Impressive at their best, sure, the Blues have been flawed all too often and comparatively limped over the line this season. Defeats to Crystal Palace and Manchester United are hauntingly familiar memories, while the 93 point total still represents a remarkable achievement.

Chelsea’s squad appeared weak in August. Those weaknesses have been masked by a lack of injuries and superb management from the ever-likeable Italian manager. Those holes remain, however, and cannot be simply papered over this summer.

After other title wins, Chelsea have floundered and faffed in the transfer market. Cutting corners or pinching pennies, the Blues have left themselves in too weak a position the next season to reach their objectives or been forced to splash excessively in January.

As a Manchester arms race begins, Liverpool are linked with half the Bundesliga and Spurs’ young squad will improve, Chelsea cannot afford to lean on a roster that’s flaws have gradually reached greater prominence. It does not need to be brash, flash or brutally expensive like the spending from the northwest will be, but Chelsea’s summer is as definitive as anyone’s.

Bad team performances like Saturday’s will happen, but the club will not compete domestically or in Europe without significant additions, even if the financial burden can be lessened by the return of Andreas Christensen and Bertrand Traore from loan spells at Borussia Monchengladbach and Ajax respectively.

Tiemoue Bakayoko or Romelu Lukaku would not have avoided defeat at Wembley, but the defeat and relative indifference in 2017 should serve as a stark wake up call for a club that must be ruthless in this window.

Three vital contests as Chelsea look to complete double

Chelsea and Arsenal have not met in an FA Cup final since 2002. The Gunners were victorious that day, with each club having enjoyed numerous Wembley successes since. Didier Drogba has dominated this fixture in the 2000s, but the Ivorian is now no more than a nightmare for Arsenal.

Antonio Conte’s Chelsea are Premier League champions and are shooting for a double on Saturday. Arsenal, meanwhile, remain a club on the cusp of turmoil. Stan Kroenke is a man criticised frequently, Arsene Wenger’s future is unknown and key players are yet to sign on the dotted line.

With defenders missing and off the back of an underwhelming campaign, Arsenal are underdogs. Strong underdogs at that, too, with Wenger a man splitting opinion. Everything can change under the arch, and Arsenal have a good recent record at Wembley, but Chelsea are a fearsome unit led by a manager a driven as anyone in the game.

The man-to-man duels could decide this encounter. We don’t want controversy, we don’t want it to be decided on a foolish red card, we want a classic final showdown. These three matchups will be crucial if that is to happen…

Arsenal’s Summer Hangs In The Balance Ahead Of FA Cup Final

Arsenal enter tomorrow’s FA Cup final in a bit of a mess, as it’s not clear what Gunners side we’re set to witness at the start of next season.

Whilst it’s more than likely Arsene Wenger will extend his contract, the general consensus from the fans is that it’s not what they want and the wealth of uncertainty hovers above North London this summer- with Wenger, key players and the board potentially set for exits.

The Gunners endured a sub-par Premier League campaign, finishing outside of the top-four for the first time in over two decades, and were on the receiving end of a drubbing from Bayern Munich in the Champions League- losing 10-2 on aggregate.

Tomorrow’s FA Cup final won’t heal those wounds but winning the trophy is a crucial step for Arsenal’s rejuvenation, whereas defeat could make their difficult task this summer all the more daunting.

Should Arsenal win tomorrow, they can consider the campaign as partly successful and the fact they’re winning honours will help them keep the likes of Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil at the club, as well as helping lure big-names in from elsewhere.

If they were to lose, as many expect, then it could be the final straw for players like Alexis and Ozil, as well as giving the Gunners a battle in their quest to lure potential targets to the Emirates Stadium. Crucially though, it would set-up a poisonous atmosphere around North London.

Failure to win tomorrow would be the latest frustration for Arsenal fans with Arsene Wenger and it would be difficult to spin any sort of positive out of the campaign to justify handing the long-serving Frenchman a fresh deal- so Arsenal are drawing a huge target on their back.

Lift the FA Cup and Wenger maybe, just maybe, be able to save some grace and have some support from the fanbase or, equally, it may allow him to walk away with his head held high after securing yet more success to cap off his fantastic tenure in charge of the Gunners.

Without FA Cup victory and a top-four finish, it would be extremely difficult for Arsenal to justify handing Arsene Wenger a contract extension and the club would be a time bomb, which would be set off at any stage next season when the Gunners endure a blip in form.

Arsenal’s backs are against the walls as they face a huge test to compete with the financial might of the likes of Chelsea, Manchester United and Manchester City and, in truth, it’s going to take the Gunners a long time to ever be considered the favourites for Premier League glory once again.

The glory years of Arsenal are a long way gone and any chance of salvaging a decent future in the coming years hangs in the balance ahead of tomorrow’s clash, as the Gunners will find it extremely difficult to keep key players and attract big names without being able to boast a trophy in their locker.

Crucial Summer Ahead For Tottenham, They Need To Prove Themselves

Tottenham Hotspur have excelled in the past two years under the guidance of Mauricio Pochettino but many still accuse them of simply benefitting from a purple patch and question their ability to remain at the top.

After two seasons fighting for the Premier League title, but ultimately falling short, Tottenham face a stern test next season to remain competitive as the rest of their title rivals will spend heavily- whilst the Lilywhites also have to contend with playing their home matches at the Wembley Stadium.

Tottenham’s European adventure was torn apart in England’s national stadium this season and the Wembley factor is a big concern for the Lilywhites next season, as is the fact that big clubs could swoop for their prized players this summer.

For Tottenham to remain competitive, they need another solid summer and need to show consistency in the battle to secure another top four finish- which could end the argument as to whether Spurs are here to stay, as it would seal three consecutive seasons in the Champions League.

Failure to do that, however, could lead Spurs’ wonder-squad to be dismantled following the World Cup next summer- so we asked our team what Pochettino’s side need to do this summer to continue fighting at the top.

Josh Challies (@Challies11)

Tottenham’s squad is largely consistent of up-and-coming players who’ve made a name for themselves at White Hart Lane and have been poached from arguably smaller sides. To remain at the top, they could probably do with luring a big player from a big club.

Signing a player from a top-four rival is unlikely but Spurs should look abroad and try to lure in a player from the likes of Real Madrid or Barcelona, both of whom could be set to sell this summer as they compete major squad overhauls.

Alvaro Morata, Ivan Rakitic, Danilo and James Rodriguez are amongst the names that could be moving on- and each of those would be an excellent addition to Spurs’ squad, although Danilo and Morata would be the more likely options.

Shane Burns (@MediaShaneBurns)

Every year the same debate has resurfaced regarding Tottenham and the answer is who knows? Somehow the club manage to find gems in the transfer market and turn them into some of the league’s inform players.

Pace in wide areas is a must for Spurs however, and signing someone to rotate with Harry Kane must be considered. Other than that, realistically who can Tottenham attract that may improve their impressive form?

Tom Scholes (@TomScholes316)

It’s going to be an incredibly difficult 12 months for Tottenham, with Spurs looking forward to playing every home game at Wembley next season, but also have the task of keeping hold of their star players. It is vital for Spurs that they add depth to their squad, as that is almost what has held them back at times this season.

Players like Ross Barkley, Wilfried Zaha and perhaps Michael Keane would really bolster the squad, however the latter does seem incredibly unlikely. Signings like Moussa Sissoko and Georges Kevin N’Koudou haven’t quite worked out, so it’s time to really reinforce their squad and buy strong in the summer.

Sam Cox (@SamRCox_)

Replacing the apparently Manchester City bound Kyle Walker has to be top of the list. Kieran Trippier has enjoyed some great displays this season, but the importance of full-backs in Spurs’ play makes that addition key.

Then it comes to the final third. Georges Kevin-Nkoudou and Moussa Sissoko have suffered from being out of favour and poor form respectively. Heung-min Son, Christian Eriksen and Dele Alli have had superb seasons, but there are times where the lack of an option or two from the bench has cost Spurs.

Chelsea’s Italian Love Affair Destined To Continue At Wembley

Gianluca Vialli, Claudio Ranieri, Carlo Ancelotti, Roberto di Matteo and Antonio Conte. Chelsea adore Italians.

Roman Abramovich flitted with Barcelona imitation, but when that fell short, the Italian norm returned. Vialli was widely admired, Ranieri loved as the nicest man in the sport, Ancelotti brought dazzling football and a double, Di Matteo finally delivered that elusive Champions League and now Conte could produce a double of his own.

Chelsea have only won one double in their 112 year history. Ancelotti’s team in 2010 scored more goals than anyone has done in the Premier League era and entertained throughout as they teamed power with exceptional talent. Irrepressible at times, that team is one of the best in recent memory. It was a joy to watch as stalwarts Didier Drogba and Frank Lampard were accompanied by a magnificent Florent Malouda, graceful Nicolas Anelka and destructive Michael Ballack. They wrapped up their title with an 8-0 final day destruction of Wigan. Fitting.

Saturday evening brings Conte’s chance to emulate his journeyman compatriot in completing a debut season double. Conte’s would be all the more remarkable.

Chelsea finished 10th last season, they were abysmal despite being reigning champions and were a club in turmoil once again. Players were almost universally unrecognisable, controversy rumbled and they were once again being led by a caretaker manager. When Jose Mourinho joined Manchester United, Pep Guardiola joined Manchester City and Conte signed at Stamford Bridge, even a top four finish would have been deemed a stellar campaign.

Fans split over Mourinho’s departure, fans bickered over the role of the players in the sacking of their greatest ever manager. Everything looked bleak.

Then followed a summer transfer window dominated by the pursuit of Kalidou Koulibaly. Left-back was still an issue, and no one knew whether Eden Hazard and Diego Costa in particular would return to their dominant form of 2014/15. The window ended with Michy Batshuayi, Marcos Alonso, N’golo Kante and David Luiz arriving at Stamford Bridge.

Alonso suffered from the Premier League centric thinking that costs English football, Luiz’s harsh reputation went before him, Batshuayi’s price tag sat heavily on his shoulders and Kante’s brilliance at Leicester was yet to be truly accepted. Alonso, Luiz and Kante set about becoming crucial players in a Chelsea team that equalled the league’s consecutive wins record and notched 93 points. Batshuayi was a threat when called upon, but remained on the bench for the most part as Costa’s lack of injuries surprised us all.

Conte glued together a fractured squad, he showed tactical adaptability and reinvigorated careers. It should not be a surprise after a quick glance at his glorious CV, but the Italian picked up a club from the doldrums and charged to an emphatic title.

We may never know quite what happened at Chelsea in 2015/16. Conte, though, found a way to make sure it was a freak blip rather than a startling regression towards upper mid-table suffering. Chelsea could have gone the way of Liverpool and post-Ferguson Manchester United, it was down to Conte that they did not.

Their league dominance makes them clear favourites on Saturday. Fairly so, but it also takes the pressure off. Whatever happens under the arch, Chelsea have had a season far beyond the most optimistic of predictions.

Abramovich craved Chelsea recreating Guardiola’s Barcelona, but the Italian way has so often been the way for the Blues.

Chelsea continue to be linked to Premier League star, he might not be worth it

Chelsea seem set on improving their attacking lines this summer as Diego Costa continues to be linked with a move away from Stamford Bridge, whilst Michy Batshuayi has endured a difficult maiden campaign in the Premier League.

With Belgian youngster Batshuayi linked with a loan move away from the Blues, it’s not beyond the realm of possibility for Chelsea to enter next season without both strikers- and that increases the necessity for the Blues to spend in this area.

Of the names to be linked with a move to Chelsea, Everton’s Romelu Lukaku is a player who is consistently mentioned- but there are concerns as to whether the Belgian would be able to excel on his return to Stamford Bridge.

Lukaku seems keen on a move, as he feels he has unfinished business at Chelsea, but he may not be the ideal fit- despite boasting an impressive return of 52 goals in 109 Premier League appearances since moving to the Toffees.

It’s a fierce debate as to whether Lukaku would be the right fit at Chelsea, so we asked our team their views- and it’s fair to say the opinion was split.

Sam Cox (@SamRCox_)

If Chelsea had Romelu Lukaku instead of Diego Costa this season they would not have won the league. Costa’s spats with officials and defenders are the street-fighter side of his game, but the former Atleti man has led Chelsea’s line through timely goals, smart movement and constantly occupying opposition defenders.

Costa’s post-rumour form has been indifferent, yet signing Lukaku alone would leave Chelsea’s attacking options looking weaker. Lukaku’s streaky goal scoring would be an issue at Chelsea and the Belgian’s price tag must make Chelsea consider their other options this summer.

He could be a brilliant signing longer-term, but as a direct replacement for Costa for next season it is a risk.

Shane Burns (@MediaShaneBurns)

Lukaku’s form this season cannot be understated, however, question marks remain whether he can achieve a similar vein of form at a massive club. Ultimately his career at Stamford Bridge was a flop – the majority of which was through no fault of his own – however, replacing Diego Costa is another story.

The Spaniard has his faults, but it must be remembered he has guided Chelsea to two titles in three years – and one with Atletico Madrid before his move to West London. So to conclude, Lukaku isn’t ready just yet.

Josh Challies (@Challies11)

There’s no doubt Romelu Lukaku has excelled at Everton and deserves his chance at a bigger side. However, he does seem a bit short of taking the mantle as a leading player for a Premier League side as his consistency is an issue.

Whilst he usually finishes the season with a decent amount of goals, these usually come in quick flurries of form with two-to-four goals a match amidst large periods of finding the net- and many have accused him of simply performing against the smaller clubs.

There’s certainly some truth to that claim but if there’s anyone who can help Lukaku fill his true potential it’s Antonio Conte, as he’s got the best out of a Chelsea side this season that many considered to be quite weak.

Tom Scholes (@TomScholes316)

All signs are pointing towards a return to Stamford Bridge for Romelu Lukaku, and on paper it seems like the perfect move. With the Belgian coming off of a fantastic season on Merseyside with Everton, he would be the ideal replacement for Diego Costa. His power and finishing is what Conte likes in his team, and with Pedro and Hazard on either side of him, the service into Lukaku would be plentiful.

He has all the traits to make the Blues forget about Costa, who has been a good player for Chelsea, but has always flattered to deceive at times. Costa is a very patchy player and Lukaku would add a certain level of consistency to really take Chelsea to the highest level.  

Arsenal And Manchester United Stoppers Show Backup Goalkeepers Deserve Their Moments Of Fame

Being a backup goalkeeper is a strange life. Some players build an entire career on being happy to be second fiddle. Up and down the footballing world there are players who accept that they will never be first choice at their club. At the top level, they are usually treated to a few cup outings throughout the season so they remember how to stop the ball if they are ever needed on a regular basis.

Those outings extend if the club continues to succeed; at least they do most of the time. Some managers revert to their ‘number one’ once the latter rounds appear, but it seems increasingly common that managers continue to twist with their backup rather than the supposedly safer alternative.

David Ospina is in line to start for Arsenal in the FA Cup final in the same week Sergio Romero was preferred to David de Gea in the Europa League final. Both of the South American goalkeepers are exceptional backups, though neither have the slightest of chances of superseding de Gea or Petr Cech. Reputation holds for a long time as a goalkeeper.

Ospina will leave Arsenal this summer, while Romero remains firmly in de Gea’s shadow with Manchester United destined to sign another goalkeeper should the Spaniard finally return to Madrid. Their careers are unorthodox, and unlike any other position in football. Ospina has 77 caps for Chile, Romero has 87 caps for Argentina, yet they had a combined four Premier League appearances this season.

They each enjoyed their cup berths, with Romero collecting 12 matches in the Europa League and Ospina playing eight in the Champions League. The role as second choice is not as clear cut as it is at other clubs, but is this really what these two talented, experienced internationals envisaged their career to be?

They are superb assets for Arsene Wenger and Jose Mourinho. Both are unruffled by tense situations and have proven themselves to be up to more than an acceptable standard. Neither, though, can truly fill fulfilled by a campaign of being so obviously a secondary option as this, however much professionalism they show.

In a summer when Asmir Begovic is set to leave Chelsea and Willy Caballero has left Manchester City, goalkeepers may just be realising their own value. Caballero, Begovic, Romero and Ospina would walk into the majority of European teams, maybe contributing on the pitch will take priority over fledgling cup outings.

Stoke City’s Lack Of Identity Needs To Be Changed This Summer

After a turbulent campaign for the Potters, Stoke City have a big summer ahead of them if they are to get back-on-track with their potential.

Stoke City are a team lacking identity and Mark Hughes’ sweeping changes have begun to be reversed, the team are eking into the bottom half of the table for the first time in several seasons and the fan base is split in a way similar to the turmoil at Arsenal.

Hughes was met with scepticism by many upon his appointment after the mess he oversaw at Queen’s Park Rangers. Those who felt Tony Pulis was a club icon deserving of a longer tenure questioned the arrival of the former Manchester United striker, while others were appreciative of a club stuck in the mid-table mud pushing for greater things stylistically.

The Potters discarded players synonymous with the Pulis era in favour of glitzier names. Eventually they were the proud owners of multiple Champions League winners, while retaining the hardened core of the squad lead by Ryan Shawcross, Jon Walters and Glenn Whelan. While Whelan particularly needed replacing, the Potters were a team who could fight you in the car park and dazzle with charm in the form of Xherdan Shaqiri, Marko Arnatuovic, Bojan and others.

This came to a head during the first part of the 2015/16 campaign. Operating with a false nine – yes, that’s Stoke City with a false nine – the team was one of the best to watch around Europe. Bojan dropped into pockets of space, goals were easy to come by and the diagonal left footed pings from Shaqiri to Arnautovic were edging towards trademark status. Briefly, in fact, a European finish looked within range as Chelsea, Liverpool, Everton and Manchester United all vastly underachieved.

The January window saw the arrival of Giannelli Imbula for a club record transfer fee. Imbula was started 14 matches in the second half of the campaign and injected something new to the Potters’ midfield. A player once sought after by some European giants was doing it in the chilly early spring months at a windy Britannia.

The summer, however, saw another few months of bizarre transfer activity and the signing of Joe Allen. Allen and Imbula were unlikely to be able to function in a team with Bojan, Shaqiri and Arnatuovic. A problem was rife immediately and Imbula was the first to suffer. The Frenchman has started just nine Premier League games this season and is on course to leave the club, with a move to Roma being touted. He has played seven Premier League minutes since 2016.

A 4-3-3 may have worked had a defensive midfielder been signed to allow Allen and Imbula to play in box-to-box roles behind the magic triumvirate. The arrival of Wilfried Bony – and latterly Saido Berhaino – further muddied the waters and led to the departure of Bojan.

All of this was after the club’s style had regressed towards the making-do days of Pulis. Imbula was clearly deemed surplus despite seldom being given opportunity and a midfield of Allen, Geoff Cameron and Whelan became common. Imbula even vanished from the matchday squad after a while as his fate became clear. The club went from king killers of giants to a team incapable of upsetting the odds in 2016/17; winning when they should and losing when they should.

Imbula’s impending departure is a sign of a club accepting mediocrity at this juncture. The ambition and flair of Hughes’ appointment and 18 months ago are no longer felt amongst the fans or the club. The divide over the manager’s future is a debate for another time – as is their transfer shortcomings – but the Potters must be wary of their current status. This – unlike last season – has been a campaign of slumps outlasting hot streaks, which is a trend that will only edge towards unpleasantly warm waters.

If Man City Lose This Superstar, Is This Ace A Ready-Made Replacement?

Manchester City endured a transitional season under the guidance of Pep Guardiola this summer and the Catalan boss will complete a major squad overhaul this year.

The Citizens have already confirmed Pablo Zabaleta, Bacary Sagna, Willy Caballero, Jesus Navas and Gael Clichy are on their way out, whilst the likes of Joe Hart, Aaron Mooy and Fabian Delph could follow.

Of the names linked with an exit, the future of Sergio Aguero remains a pressing concern for the majority of Manchester City fans as it would be a bold move from the club and could come back to haunt them.

Gabriel Jesus’ explosive start at Manchester City has left Aguero’s first-team spot under threat and the Citizens look like they may cope without their starring Argentine. However, the second-half of the season has seen speculation that Aguero could leave reduce significantly.

Should a new striker arrive though, it’s not beyond the realm of possibility that Aguero is moved away from the Etihad Stadium and we asked our team whether they can see the South American leaving and whether Gabriel Jesus is ready to take the mantle as their leading forward.

Shane Burns (@MediaShaneBurns)

Aguero leaving was – and still is – a story which gathered momentum by the press because the out-of-form Argentine was dropped by his manager. The striker has been in devastating form since the arrival of Gabriel Jesus and his best years have certainly been rekindled, with the duo playing alongside each other more frequently, a partnership rather than a rivalry is developing between the two and being expertly guided by Pep Guardiola.

Jesus is earmarked as the long-term replacement for Aguero when he does decide to leave in 2019, but needing only 11 goals to become City’s all-time leading scorer, don’t expect Guardiola to call a halt on his six-year City career anytime soon.

Tom Scholes (@TomScholes316)

All signs are pointing towards Sergio Aguero leaving Manchester City in the summer, and with how Pep Guardiola sets his sides up, you can see why. Let’s admit it, Aguero isn’t the player he used to be due to his previous injuries, and Pep requires a high intensity press from his forwards for the majority of games. Maybe Aguero doesn’t have it in him anymore to work in a Pep style of play, but Gabriel Jesus certainly does and he’s being touted as the replacement to Aguero.

Jesus certainly has the potential to be as good as Aguero, but to heap so much pressure on someone so young could be very damaging. The Brazilian would need help from Kevin De Bruyne and Leroy Sane to really do some damage in the Premier League.

Sam Cox (@SamRCox_)

Sergio Aguero will stay. Should he not, however, Gabriel Jesus is a more than able deputy.

The fearsome thing for City’s rivals, though, is the prospect of this dazzling City attack having Aguero and Jesus fully fit for a full season along with Leroy Sane, Raheem Sterling, Kevin de Bruyne and David Silva.

Josh Challies (@Challies11)

Sergio Aguero will certainly see his playing time reduced next season but it’s difficult to envisage him leaving Manchester City this summer. If he does leave before his contract ends in 2019, expect the move to take place after next summer’s World Cup.

Gabriel Jesus is a top-quality player and should shine for many years to come with Manchester City. However, putting so much faith into a youngster just months after his arrival is a dangerous game and he could crack under the pressure if Aguero leaves.

With Jesus and Aguero, City boast two of the best strikers in the league and if Pep Guardiola can mould them into a dynamic partnership, then the rest of the division will be left quaking in their boots.

Liverpool Face Major Challenge To Keep Star-Man, He Could Leave

Liverpool made great progress under Jurgen Klopp this season and the Reds sealed their minimum objective of returning to the Champions League next term.

Klopp’s side narrowly sealed their spot in the top-four, finishing one point ahead of Arsenal, and it’s clear the Merseyside giants need significant summer activity if they are to compete for major honours next season- especially with both Manchester clubs set to spend heavily.

However, Liverpool’s lack of recent history in European football and their financial restrictions when compared to their rivals makes it difficult for the Reds to maintain a top-class side and keep hold of their key players, with question marks surrounding the future of Philippe Coutinho.

The Brazilian ace has attracted the interest of Barcelona in recent seasons and the Catalan side’s restructure this summer could see them launch a move- which Liverpool would find incredibly difficult to fend off.

With speculation surrounding Coutinho, we asked our team what they believed would happen with the Brazilian and what it would take to keep him at Anfield.

Sam Cox (@SamRCox)

Liverpool’s summer is more significant than their rivals’.

The club’s creaky 2017 is a concern and – while Champions League football will return to Anfield – they must finally address long-term recruitment issues. Additions like Roberto Firmino, Sadio Mane and Joel Matip have been splendid, though they now need to replicate that sort of investment throughout the squad to add depth and build a squad capable of holding their own against the might of their top six companions.

Prove they can do remain genuine contenders and Philippe Coutinho will find it much harder to leave the adoring Kop. Equally, clubs are unlikely to move for him just yet as his talent is yet to produce consistently enough.

Josh Challies (@Challies11)

The next year is crucial for Liverpool as they need to cement themselves as top-four regulars and genuine contenders for the Premier League title, rather than being consider a side that will dip in-and-out of the top spots in English football.

Securing Champions League football this weekend was vital to keeping Philippe Coutinho and their chances of keeping the Brazilian long-term likely hinge on the next year, as I do believe he will remain at Anfield this summer- but a move after the World Cup in 2018 is a possibility.

To have any chance of keeping Coutinho, Liverpool need to make a statement of intent this summer by securing big names and showing they can compete with their rivals- which means eyeing players that don’t currently represent lower-ranked sides in the Premier League.

Tom Scholes (@TomScholes316)

Philippe Coutinho is the player that Jurgen Klopp should be looking to build his team around in the summer, and he must do everything in his power to keep him at Anfield. If Barcelona come in for the Brazilian, he will find it hard to turn it down because who doesn’t want to play for Barcelona?

That being said, I do think Coutinho will stick around for yet another season. I doubt he would jump ship just went Liverpool are set to return to the Champions League, and Klopp needs to give him the players around him to make it similar to Eden Hazard at Chelsea.

Shane Burns (@MediaShaneBurns)

Ultimately, whether Liverpool fans care to admit it or not, the Merseysiders are a selling club and are unable to either keep hold of world-class players, or attract them.

It’s impossible to see how Liverpool can keep Coutinho if Barcelona come calling. Their name/brand is the only thing big about Liverpool these days.

Huge Summer Ahead For Everton Star, Record Deal May Not Happen

Everton face a testing summer window in the months ahead as Ronald Koeman looks to strengthen his squad and increase the chances of the Toffees breaking into the top-six, all whilst contending with the likely departures of key names.

Romelu Lukaku continues to be linked with a huge move away from Goodison Park in the close season and speculation continues to circle over the head of England ace Ross Barkley, as contract discussions have seemingly hit a brick wall.

Koeman has issued an ultimatum to the 23-year-old and is preparing to sell the influential midfielder if he does not extend his contract, although The Telegraph states he’s demanding a mouth-watering price of £50m for the Tottenham target.

It’s difficult to argue that Barkley is worth that much and it’s set to cause a lot of debate over the summer months, so we asked our team where they expect Barkley to be playing next season and whether he’s worth the monumental price-tag mentioned.

Shane Burns (@MediaShaneBurns)

The future of Ross Barkley will possibly become a long, drawn out saga which results in him staying at Everton this summer. Ross Barkley has not developed like many expected following his breakthrough in 2012.
His career has stagnated somewhat and the only club that will likely take a punt on Ross would be Tottenham – but certainly not for the £50million being reportedly demanded by the Toffees.

Tom Scholes (@TomScholes316)

Ross Barkley looks set to leave Everton in the summer and at the moment; the ideal place for him to move would probably be Tottenham. People always say that Barkley just needs someone to guide him and help him find his best form, and at the moment there is no one better at that at a big club than Mauricio Pochettino.

He may not get as many minutes as he is at Everton right now, but the fact of the matter is he wouldn’t at any other top 6 clubs either. With regards to his price tag, there is no way he is worth £50M, but Everton will have to lower it or risk losing him on a free next summer.

Josh Challies (@Challies11)

Ross Barkley may well complete a u-turn and secure his future with the Toffees for another few seasons but the longer he waits, the more he risks causing irreparable damage to his relationship with his boyhood club- and Ronald Koeman isn’t prepared for any mucking around.

As it stands, North London is the most likely destination for Barkley but Tottenham may find competition in the market from rivals Arsenal. The Gunners have a big summer ahead and one crucial aspect that is being overlooked is the club’s decreasing homegrown contingent.

Jack Wilshere, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Carl Jenkinson and Kieran Gibbs are amongst the Englishmen linked with a summer exit, which would leave Arsenal’s homegrown ranks looking severely lacking- so a move for British players is likely this summer.

In regards to his price-tag, there is no way that Ross Barkley is worth that amount and it’s difficult to imagine Everton actually commanding such a high-price for a player of his services and negotiations will likely decrease the figure to somewhere around £30m, plus add-ons.

Sam Cox (@SamRCox_)

Spurs seem likely candidates to sign him, but I have a hunch he will remain at Everton. The price tag is extortionate for a player who suffers from great inconsistency and only one of the top six would be able to stump up that sort of fee.

There’s still a chance Barkley becomes a one-in-a-generation player for England, but it’d be a severe risk from any top six clubs.

Assessing The Key Pieces Of Business Arsenal Need This Summer

Arsenal have endured a majorly disappointing campaign and, barring a miracle on Sunday, will spend next season away from Champions League endeavours- which could lead to a mass exodus.

The futures of key players like Alexis Sanchez, Mesut Ozil and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain remain shrouded in speculation and Arsenal may have to search the transfer market for replacements, as well as strengthening their current squad.

Arsenal are crying out for a top-class striker, improvements to their defensive line, additional midfielders and potentially a new goalkeeper to succeed Petr Cech; all of which leaves Arsene Wenger, or whoever is in charge at the Emirates Stadium, facing a daunting task.

Debate will continue throughout the summer around what sort of business Arsenal need to conduct to stand competitiveness next season and we’ve asked our team what they believe the Gunners need to do in the transfer market to avoid being left behind by their rivals.

Sam Cox (@SamRCox_)

Winning a title with Arsene Wenger in charge remains unlikely. Their best chance, though, obviously will come if they keep Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez.

Away from that, the cry for another striker is hauntingly familiar, but it remains as relevant as ever. A player in a similar mould to Aaron Ramsey to avoid potential dependence on the Welshman in the 3-4-3 is equally key, however. A new central defender to replace Gabriel and at least one left-back is a must, too.

Tom Scholes (@TomScholes316)

To be considered as serious title challengers, things really need to change in the red half of North London. The future of Arsene Wenger needs to be addressed, business needs to be done quickly and they can’t have another season like this one where everything seemed to go wrong.

Spending tons of cash of big name players won’t do the trick. Provided he stays, Wenger needs to pick a certain formation and build around that system. Another centre back is imperative, maybe some more orthodox wing backs despite Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain proving capable of playing out wide.

Another central midfielder to compliment Granit Xhaka and an out and out goal scorer is needed for Arsenal to be taken seriously.

Josh Challies (@Challies11)

Once again, Arsenal seem to be a couple short of a full deck and it’s been a case of one step forward, two steps back for the Gunners in recent years. Bizarrely though, the common trend remains of Arsenal being desperate for a top-class striker.

Arsenal’s need for a quality striker is obvious but it’s not just on the field where Arsenal need to make a statement of intent, as the Gunners need to show they’re prepared to battle the likes of both Manchester clubs and Chelsea in the transfer market.

Sead Kolasinac is a good start to Arsenal’s summer but they can’t stop there. As well as a striker, the Gunners need a successor to Santi Cazorla, Petr Cech and Laurent Koscielny- all of whom are in the twilight years of their careers.

Shane Burns (@MediaShaneBurns)

Truthfully the Gunners need more than a few players. They also need their rivals to slip up in the transfer market – and drastically.

Ideally Arsene Wenger will be targeting a centre-forward, a box-to-box midfielder, another centre-back and left-back for starters. With Saed Kolasinic arriving from Schalke, the progression is underway. Keeping hold of Sanchez is a necessity for Arsenal also.

Man United Continue To Be Linked To Superstar, He’s A Questionable Recruit

Manchester United’s debut season under Jose Mourinho has seen the Red Devils fall well short of expectations in the Premier League and money is sure to be spent this summer in an attempt to improve the club’s fortunes.

James Rodriguez continues to be the name on everybody’s lips ahead of the summer transfer window, with the Colombian seemingly set to leave Real Madrid after a disappointing few seasons at the Santiago Bernabeu where he’s failed to show the sort of form that set the 2014 World Cup alight.

Earlier this month, Spanish media outlet Sport stated James has verbally agreed to move to Manchester United this summer and fresh reports continue to appear on a daily basis, intensifying the South American’s links with a lucrative move to the Premier League.

However, James Rodriguez would be a questionable recruit for Manchester United due to their wealth of depth in attack and the Red Devils continue to be linked to further attacking additions this summer- so it’s difficult to see where exactly the Colombian fits in.

The debate is likely to rumble on throughout the summer, with James Rodriguez’ future shaping up to be the transfer saga of the 2017 summer window, and we asked our team for their thoughts on the 25-year-old’s potential move.

Josh Challies (@Challies11)

I’ve been left scratching my head ever since James Rodriguez was first linked to Manchester United as I can’t see where he’d fit in- added to the fact the Red Devils would have to pay an audacious sum to secure his services and it’s difficult to justify that amount.

The Colombian has failed to build on his exceptional form at the World Cup three years ago and he continues to be living off his reputation in that tournament, having failed to establish himself as a first-team regular for Real Madrid.

At Manchester United, there’s a real danger he’d be in exactly the same boat regardless of whether Mourinho viewed him as a winger or an attacking midfielder, so it really seems like United would be spending money for the sake of it.

Shane Burns (@MediaShaneBurns)

James Rodriguez signing for Manchester United could be a game-changer regarding their title aspirations. The Colombian is highly marketable in South America and he certainly has the talent to up his potential marketability.

Whether or not signing for United is a possibility, Rodriguez would add proven quality and depth to a frail United side. A Mourinho player? Probably not.

Sam Cox (@SamRCox_)

Players of James’ class are always welcome additions to the league.

When it comes to Manchester United, however, James’ arrival would rely on at least one of Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Juan Mata leaving. It’s been a tough year in Madrid for the Colombian and, while creativity has been lacking at Old Trafford, his presence would not fix the fundamental issues with the setup of the team.

It could work out, but right now it aches of a signing that will fizzle under Jose Mourinho’s management.

Tom Scholes (@TomScholes316)

A lot of people are raving about James Rodriguez to Manchester United, but I can’t help but feel that it isn’t the right move for the Colombian. United already have multiple play makers in their squad including Juan Mata, Henrikh Mkhitaryan and to a lesser extent Paul Pogba, and James would just become yet another big name signing with no purpose.

If United really want to get the best out of Paul Pogba, the last thing they should be doing is signing James Rodriguez. Adding another central attacking midfielder only pushes the Frenchman deeper in midfield, restricting him.

With the constant links seemingly every summer, is James to United the new Wesley Sneijder to United rumour?

5 New Signings: The Potential Newcastle XI To Secure Safety Next Year

Newcastle United sealed the Championship title ahead of Brighton at the weekend, with Rafael Benitez’ side benefitting from Jack Grealish’s late equaliser for Aston Villa.

The Magpies had already secured an immediate return to the Premier League, with arch-rivals Sunderland set to be relegated, and entered the final weekend of the Championship campaign with a chance of winning the title- but they’d have to better Brighton’s result.

Benitez’ side did exactly that, defeating Barnsley 3-0 at St James Park, and the Tyneside outfit will now turn their sights on securing top-quality signings this summer in order to secure safety in the Premier League next season.

40 points will be the target for Newcastle as they seek to avoid the drop but, led by the experienced Benitez, the Magpies could push higher in the table and potentially lead a charge in the cup competitions.

Whilst it may take a few seasons for Newcastle to be truly competitive, this potential XI is bursting with attacking talent and could set the Premier League alight.

GK: Jordan Pickford

The recently-relegated Sunderland goalkeeper is attracting a lot of attention ahead of the summer and there has been suggestions of an incredible move that would see the England international move across the North East to Newcastle.

However, Rafael Benitez’ side face a huge test to land the goalkeeper’s services as he’s being linked with the likes of Manchester City, Arsenal, Liverpool, Everton and West Ham, as well as attracting a price-tag in excess of £25m.

3 World Class Replacements For Zlatan Manchester United Could Sign This Summer

Zlatan suffered that terrible injury in April and it now looks as if his time at Manchester United is over. But who will replace the big Swede? United desperately need a reliable, experienced goal scorer, or two. Missed chances have cost the team too often in the past season and the club look even blunter in attack with Zlatan out injured. They desperately need external solutions this summer, and in this article I take a look at three potential replacements.

1 – Antoine Griezmann

League appearances: 34. Goals: 16. Assists: 7. 

The big money signing the world is almost expecting United to make this summer is Griezmann. With a reported £80million+ release clause, it looks as if United will come close to breaking the transfer record they themselves broke to sign Pogba last summer. Griezmann is of very different ilk to Lukaku, and if he were to lead the line for United it would force a stylistic change from United and Mourinho.Or could Mourinho see Griezmann as a wide forward and also look to bring in another centre forward, who is experienced in the Premier League and can lead a line on his own? In Atletico, Griezmann is often deployed in a two man attack, it’s unlikely that Mourinho would want to change to this system, having invested so heavily in midfielders last summer.

Holding Starts: The 3-4-1-2 Arsenal Line-Up That Would Beat Manchester United

If there is any hope whatsoever of Arsenal managing to finish in the top four this season, then they will need to beat Manchester United when Jose Mourinho’s men come to town on Sunday.

Arsenal had looked to of escaped their terrible patch of form when they overcame Manchester City in the semi-final of the FA Cup. But a visit to White Hart Lane showed how they were still struggling to compete with the teams at the top. A home game against Manchester United is the perfect opportunity for Arsenal to bounce back, but can they? For me they need to make several major changes to the XI for it to work. Firstly, I’d like to see a switch to a high pressing 3-4-1-2 formation rather than a 3-4-2-1. Take a look at my team below…

GK – Petr Cech

Cech has improved in recent matches, but let’s just hope he doesn’t have to face a penalty! Amazingly in an Arsenal shirt, he’s yet to stop one.

Defence – Rob Holding, Laurent Koscielny, Nacho Monreal

Gabriel really struggled with the quality Tottenham had, so I’d like to see Holding come back into the team as the right central defender. He’s a player that has impressed whenever he’s been in the team and so deserves to start this game. For me, after Koscielny, he is the best defender Arsenal have.  So of course, Koscielny should captain the team at the heart of the defence and I’d like to see Nacho Monreal as a left centre back again.

Midfield – Hector Bellerin, Granit Xhaka, Mohammed Elneny, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain

Bellerin needs to get back in the team. When he is on form he is one of Arsenal’s best players, he’s lost his confidence and keeping him on the bench will do nothing to help him regain that. Xhaka and Elneny should start in central midfield, Ramsey has been really poor in recent games, but Xhaka continues to be the better midfielder. When Xhaka has been partnered with Elneny in the past it has worked really well, I think they complement each other nicely. The Ox had a poor game against Tottenham, but I would like to see him tested as a left wing back. He’s played on the left often enough to be able to perform on that side of the pitch, and the Gunners will need his pace to help counter the threat of Antonio Valencia.

Attacking Midfield – Mesut Ozil

Get Ozil back in the hole behind the strikers where he performs best. I’d like to see two strikers ahead of Mesut, both with pace…

Strikers – Danny Welbeck and Alexis Sanchez

A two-pronged attacking force would spring a surprise on United, and I think it would work very well. Arsenal have lacked pace and aggression in attack these last few weeks, and Alexis’ influence has been limited from wide areas. I would get him playing alongside Welbeck and pressing from the front, putting pressure on what will be a jaded United side. Arsenal need to set the pace of this game and set it high. If they can do that, they are capable of forcing mistakes out of this United team and getting the much-needed 3 points.