Tag Archives: Gossip

Report: Manchester United Lining Up January Deal For Chelsea Midfielder – Is It A Good Idea?

We are coming up to the festive period and that means one thing… silly season is back! And so are the rumours. Throughout this period we will be monitoring the rumours and adding our unique analysis to the stories that catch our eye. 

Jon Obi Mikel to Manchester United? That’s the claim from The Sun who earlier this week claimed an ‘Exclusive’ and said that Mourinho is aiming to raid his former club with an ‘incredible cut-price deal’ January. 

Mikel is the forgotten man at Chelsea as with Matic and Kante excelling in the central roles, there’s no real space for the Nigerian in the team. It’s very believable that the player would be open to a move away from a club where his opportunities have been so restricted this season.

But would Jose Mourinho want him? The former Blues boss used Mikel sparingly during his time at the club, but certainly more regularly than Conte and I would imagine that Mikel would be open to a reunion with his old manager.

It is no secret that United have been most impressive this season when playing with Michael Carrick at the base of the midfield. But aged 35, the Englishman struggles to play regularly and the club cannot afford to be reliant on him. Mikel is of a similar ilk, perhaps less perfect in possession and more proactive defensively. He might be somewhere between Carrick and Fellaini, both of whom Mourinho is a fan. The Portuguese manager also said that he’d love to have Carrick ? years younger. Aged 29, Mikel is 6 years younger than Carrick and that may mean he has the extra durability to be relied upon. 

Of course United nearly signed Mikel ahead of Chelsea when he first came to England, so, despite all the change at the club since then, there is a long standing admiration of the player, even though he has failed to reach the heights many expected.

Despite that Mikel is a seasoned international with 78 caps and having played regularly in the Premier League for some years now (more than 200 games for Chelsea in his 10 year spell), he would certainly bring something to the United squad.

Considering he would be competing with the likes of Carrick and Fellaini, I thought I’d take a look at the stats and compare the trio. 

What do you want from a defensive midfielder / deep lying playmaker? The 5 areas we chose to analyse were pass completion, interceptions, tackles won, aerial duels won and total forward passes. We opted to use the statistics from last season to use a larger data set. Mikel leads the way in two of these areas with an impressive pass completion rate of 90%, Carrick is 2nd with 86% and Fellaini last with 83%. Mikel also wins the most tackles on average with 1.86 per 90, Fellaini is not far behind on 1.52 and Carrick last on 1.23. In the 3 areas Mikel is not 1st, he is 2nd! With 1.61 interceptions per 90, 0.85 aerial duels and 40.91 forward passes per 90.

Mourinho has spent millions on the likes of Paul Pogba already so maybe it is a low key signing like this that United need to compliment their squad. I’m not saying that Mikel would get into the starting eleven, but in a January market where options are not aplenty, Mourinho may have to look for shrewd additions like these to add to the quality and depth in his squad. 

Gossip: Man City To Make £50m Signing, Man Utd Agree £30m Fee & Palace To Seal £25m Deal

The gossip is well underway and we have all the latest for you in our gossip column.

Palace make £25million bid for Cristian Benteke (Telegraph)

Liverpool are considering whether or not to accept a £25million bid from Crystal Palace for Cristian Benteke, according to reports. Jurgen Klopp is thought to be willing to part with the Belgian striker, but the club were initially hoping to recoup £30million for him. Palace’s bid will certainly be worth considering though, as Liverpool look to raise funds to build a squad more suited to Klopp’s style. Benteke may not want to move to a club like Palace though, as he has always had his sights set firmly on playing for the very best clubs. But with Benteke unable to play regularly at Liverpool and with no big clubs interested currently, the 25-year-old may have to take a step back before moving to a big club again. Under Alan Pardew, Palace are building a solid squad having recently signed Andros Townsend and more targetted. Liverpool are yet to respond to Palace’s offer but if they did accept, they’d be taking a £7.5million hit on the £32.5million they paid last summer.

Manchester City set to pay £50million for John Stones (Telegraph)

 

Everton put a £50million price tag on John Stones’ head in a bid to scare potential suitors away, but with Pep Guardiola desperate for homegrown talent, it seems City will now pay the full asking price. It would be an incredible move for Stones, who aged just 22 was often omitted from the Everton line-up last season due to poor form. Stones would become one of the most expensive players in world football, despite not yet managing to cement his place in Everton’s line up. It’s a huge risk from City, because although Stones does have lots of potential, there are no guarantees that he will fulfil it. With Ilkay Gundogan and Nolito already signed, Pep’s attention is not on strengthening his defence and if a deal for Stones is completed, the Spanish manager will have already spent around £100million on new signings, with many more still expected. The rumours linking this story are being reported in nearly every UK paper and there is a strong feeling that Stones will get his wish in the coming weeks, and join Manchester City.

Manchester United set to sign Henrikh Mkhitaryan (BBC)

Manchester United have had a bid of around £30million accepted for Borussia Dortmund midfielder Henrikh Mkhitaryan. The 27-year-old Armenian midfielder is expected to sign a contract with wages worth in excess of £200,000 per week. He scored 18 goals in all competitions last season as well as making many more assists. Mkhitaryan is likely to replace Juan Mata in the number 10 role, although he can also play out wide. Mkhitaryan created an incredible 2.81 chances per 90 minutes last season. He’s a forward thinking player who makes 21.95 forward passes on average per game, although not always successfully, with a pass completion rate of 75%.

Manchester United Update On Rumoured £100million Transfer

After months of nonstop speculation, Barcelona will finally confirm Neymar’s new five-year deal in the next few days after coming to an agreement, reveals Barcelona’s president.

The Brazilian international is only half-way through his six-year contract at the Nou Camp, after reaching the third year in the contract a renegotiation clause has been triggered.

Barcelona have always been deemed to be confident in Neymar staying, and the club will be relieved he rejected interest from Real Madrid, Manchester United and Paris Saint-Germain to sign a new Barcelona deal, which should be announced in the coming days.

The Brazilian skipper was brought by the Catalan giants in 2013 costing the club around £48.6 million. His rise has been phenomenal and is now sought as one of Europe’s best players. Neymar has enjoyed the opening three years in his Barcelona career and has scored 55 goals in 93 appearances.

One of the brightest talents in world football is now a key player in the Brazilian national squad and has been a part of the derail of being the world’s best team; he will now be a part of the rebuild and has already played 70 games scoring 46 goals.

When the Barcelona forward signed his first contract with Barcelona there was a renegotiation clause included, which has since been activated. After extensive negotiations with the 24-year-old, he has now agreed to sign on for a further five seasons when Barca’s new financial year begins on July 1.

Barcelona president Josep Bartomeu had hoped to tie Neymar down on an improved contract in the winter which would have raised his release clause to a significant amount and stopped any speculation. Barcelona surprisingly found themselves in financial difficulties after paying out a glut of performance-related bonuses in the wake of last year’s treble, which meant they had to hold off renewing Neymar’s contract.

Without tying Neymar down on a new deal, this meant the release clause which was set from when he first signed in 2013 was still active. His abilities attracted interest from three of the richest clubs in world football and all seemed keen to activate his €190 million release clause.

But, after finally agreeing terms on a new deal going into the new financial year, Neymar rejected any interest and has instead decided to extent his Barcelona contract, Bartomeu revealed.

“Neymar doesn’t want to leave Barca and in the next few days we’ll confirm that he is going to stay for five more years,” the president said in a press conference.

The 24-year-old’s release clause is set to rise by €40 million amounting to an astonishing €230 million, placing his clause lower than just one Barcelona player, Lionel Messi.

Neymar has suited Barcelona’s style of play since his arrival; primarily he plays as a central striker, second striker, winger or occasionally an attacking midfielder but predominantly plays from the flank in a 4-3-3 formation partnering with the deadliest duo in world football, Luis Suarez and Lionel Messi, MSN.

Neymar has been described as “a true phenomenon” and the media have often drawn comparisons between Neymar and Brazilian legend Pele.

Neymar is magic with the ball, his package of skills make defenders panic as they never know what to expect. Neymar’s most common traits are his ability to create anything from nothing, his exquisite passing range, his dribbling abilities which puts him amongst the world’s best and his tremendous technique, being described as both “electric” and “explosive” with a deadly eye for goal.

Neymar’s entourage spent the best part of recent months encouraging the clubs biggest rivals, especially Real Madrid that he could be open to a move this summer, this alerted Barcelona who were always relaxed about the situation.

It seems his entourage used other clubs interest in Neymar’s favour, by getting him the bumper new contract with Barcelona, which he always wanted.

Report: Arsenal, Chelsea & Man Utd Ready Big Bids For Brazilian Sensation

According to The Sun, Arsenal are eyeing a move for Brazilian sensation Gabriel Barbosa who is set to rip the Copa America apart this summer. The Gunners are desperate to add more fire power to their squad this summer after another disappointing season ending without the League title.

19-year-old Barbosa, nicknamed ‘Gabigol’ has been enjoying his early career in his native country Brazil playing for Neymar’s former club Santos.

Barbosa has had a sublime start to his career and all in all he has managed to find the net 50 times in 150 appearances in all competitions.

Comparisons have already been made, Barbosa is dubbed to be the next Neymar, coming from the same academy and more noticeably wearing the number 10 Neymar left behind when he signed for Barcelona.

Barbosa is in Brazil’s squad for Copa America after making just one international appearance, that cap went to plan though as he scored on his international debut in the 2-0 win over Panama last weekend.

The exciting youngster has emerged on the Gunners radar and also Chelsea and Manchester United‘s, with all three clubs eyeing attacking reinforcements.

The young forward has caught the eye of many giant clubs around Europe. There is no doubt about the youngster’s talent, speed and natural ability which has pleased the eye of scouts watching.

Barbosa is extremely tricky and pacy and is a nightmare for defenders, at just 5ft 9in he is able to balance himself to glide by defenders. The Gunners will be attracted especially to the versatility of Barbosa, although he is a left-footed player who prefers to play on the right so he can cut in to use his stronger foot; he is also used in a more central role or even on the left. Another aspect to Barbosa’s game is his natural coolness in front of goal, something that will please Arsene Wenger. Although he is just 19-years old he is very composed and mature with his natural finishing. Not only does Barbosa score goals, he also contributes to assists and can act as a playmaker.

Although Barbosa has been used in three different positions he still could potentially take the number 9 role at Arsenal which they so badly need.

Goals have dried up for the North Londoners scoring just 65 goals in 38 games and missing several clear cut chances. Theo Walcott and Olivier Giroud have especially been responsible for this and they haven’t been able to repay the faith which Arsene Wenger has kept in them. Both players have struggled since the turn of the year and the place in the team is in huge risk going into next season. Also more worrying for the Gunners, Danny Welbeck has recently been ruled out for up to 9 months due to a knee injury and with his recent injury record it may take even longer for the forward to recover.

Barbosa will not be cheap, the masterly teenage sensation has a £40million release clause which is obviously a huge gamble, but for someone who is potentially a star in the making and the next big thing the high fee requested should not stop a club taking the risk.

Arsenal are not in for an easy run in the signing of Barbosa with French giants PSG and Premier League big boys Manchester United and Chelsea are already tracking the Santos forward.

Gossip: West Ham Agree £12m Deal, Middlesbrough Close To Big Signing, Chelsea Bid £31m

With the domestic football seasons over, the transfer window has really kicked into gear and now the stories and gossip are flowing. Here at Fresh Football we will bring you the best (and worst) of it. For extended coverage please follow us @FreshFootball on Twitter.

Middlesbrough set to sign Viktor Fischer for £3.8million (Guardian)

Middlesbrough look set to announce their first signing of the summer as Ajax forward Viktor Fischer. The 21-year-old has previously been linked with several high profile clubs including the likes of Barcelona. In recent seasons though his progress has stalled and with one year remaining on his contract he is set to move from the Eredivisie and to the Premier League for a bargain fee. Middlesbrough are looking to add Premier League quality to their squad after gaining automatic promotion to the division. Fischer, although lightweight, would add guile and technical ability to their forward options. Fischer is predominantly a left-winger. The reliability of the sources reporting this deal make it look at if it is only a matter of time before the deal is confirmed. We think at this stage it is extremely likely that Fischer will be in the Boro shirt come next season – exciting times.

West Ham agree £12million fee to sign Gokhan Tore (The Sun)

The Sun alone are not a great source of transfer information but they are citing Turkish media outlet ‘Holigan’ who claim that a £12million fee has been agreed between West Ham and Besiktas for the transfer of Gokhan Tore. Tore is a powerful young (24) winger who has been a long-term target for Slaven Bilic. The Croatian manager has attempted to sign him previously, having a £7.4million bid rejected in January. West Ham have that extra Olympic Stadium budget to spend this time around and are making some very big waves in the transfer market already this summer. Their willingness to up their bid for Tore is indicative of that. Tore has managed 26 caps for Turkey and spent two years at London rivals Chelsea as a youth player. He was considered one of Chelsea’s best prospects in the under 21’s, but like many of their young talents, he never got the chance to break into the senior side.

Chelsea confident of sealing £31million deal for Radja Nainggolan (London Evening Standard)

Chelsea have ‘stepped up’ negotiations to sign Radja Nainggolan from AS Roma. The midfielder has been in high demand in recent weeks but Antonio Conte has made him a clear transfer priority and talks have been going on for some time. Now it appears that Chelsea, who had a £24million bid rebuffed earlier this month, may be willing to pay the £31million asking price in order to get the deal over the line before the start of the European Championships this summer. Nainggolan is a box-to-box midfielder that would probably act as Ramires’ replacement as the energetic Brazilian was not directly replaced after his January departure. Nainggolan’s arrival would push youngster Ruben Loftus-Cheek further down the pecking order and perhaps convince him to consider his future at the club. Is signing another big name at the expense of a youngster the right answer again for Chelsea? I’m not so sure. Nainggolan is certainly a quality player, but for over £30million, when he is already 28 and you have youngsters coming through the academy, I’m not sure he is the best signing at the moment in time, although it could be argued that as he is older, it would allow for youngsters to get their chances sooner – but would they?

Ranieri Identifies Arsenal Midfielder As Perfect Addition To Leicester City Squad

Leicester City are ready to raid Arsenal in a bid to add established Premier League talent to their title-winning squad, according to the Sunday papers. 

Reports on Sunday from The Mirror suggest that Claudio Ranieri has identified Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain as the perfect addition to his midfield as he looks to build a squad capable of competing in both Europe and the Premier League next season.

First team chances will be limited for Oxlade-Chamberlain should he stay at Arsenal next season. There is no realistic chance of him playing in a central role, and even on the wings he has been outperformed by the likes of Joel Campbell. Leicester would hope they could help him realise his huge potential though and at 22, he still has plenty of time to do that. Arsenal would be looking for at least the £15million they paid Southampton for the youngster, should they sell.

Chamberlain would be competing with the likes of Marc Albrighton and Jeffrey Schlupp for a first team berth, or maybe even act as a replacement for Riyad Mahrez should the Algerian leave the club this summer. Statistically, Chamberlain looks like a good improvement for the Foxes – although he is nowhere near Mahrez’ level, he is comfortably ahead of Schlupp in terms of goals scored per 90 minutes, successful take ons, key passes and pass completion. The same can be said about Albrighton, who only matches up in terms of key passes per 90 minutes (1.83). Chamberlain’s pass completion is a lot higher (82%) than Albrighton (64%) or Schlupp (73%) but that is testament to Arsenal and Leicester City’s differing styles of play. Leicester are anything but a possession based team and that may in fact favour Chamberlain who perhaps does not fit the ‘Arsenal way of playing’ like Wenger would have hoped he would. This move could actually be mutually beneficial and allow Arsenal to sign a player more suited to their eye-pleasing football.

Chamberlain can be frustrating in a fluid, possession-orientated Arsenal team, but in a side that often plays on the break and is less concerned about players giving the ball away, he may thrive. He’s also young and ambitious and that’s the type of mentality of player Ranieri would surely like to add to a squad that has just won the title – he wants more fearless attitudes.

If the Gunners do decide to sell then it is likely that Southampton would also be interested – and Arsenal could look to involve Chamberlain in some kind of swap deal for Saido Mane.

Manchester City Still Plan To Complete €30m Deal, Despite Serious Injury

Borussia Dortmund have already lost one star player before the season has ended and now it seems that Ilkay Gundogan may also be leaving the Signal Iduna Park this time for Manchester City.

On Tuesday the club announced that captain Mats Hummels will leave Dortmund and re-join Bayern Munich in a move that will anger fans as it is the third time recently that Bayern have poached one of their elite players. Mario Gotze and Robert Lewandowski have jumped ship for Bayern and Hummers is the latest player to leave.

Midfielder Gundogan has been a long-term transfer target for Bayern manager Pep Guardiola and with the Spaniard leaving at the end of the current campaign to go to Manchester City he may well look at Gungogan being one of his first signings at his new club.

It will be stay or go this summer as Dortmund have given the 25-year-old an ultimatum, either sign a long term deal or be sold. According to reports in the German media, Gundogan has suffered a serious knee injury which could halt any potential move to City.

Dortmund’s CEO Hans-Joachim Watzke commented on the situation saying:

“I have spoken to him, he’s very down after another serious injury.

“He knows we’ll stand by him.

“There are two options, which we have discussed with Ilkay for a while.

“Either he leaves or he stays and extends his contract, but it must be long-term.”

If Gundogan leaves for City he will join a number of high-profile midfielders at the club, here we compare the German international to those already at the Etihad.

Gundogan is an all round midfielder and can operate in a number of positions either defensively or in a more attacking role. This season he has operated as a deep lying midfielder alongside Julian Weigl and chances of breaking forward have been limited.

Despite this, Gundogan has managed to get on the score sheet three times in all competitions mainly being used as a player who keeps possession well and sets up the attack for the likes of Marco Reus and Henrikh Mkhitaryan to  push forward. In the Bundesliga, Dortmund

In the Bundesliga, Dortmund enjoy a lot of possession and average 60.5% in all games. City are not far behind that figure in the Premier League with 55%. It would suit Gundogan’s game to help dominate the ball much like the teams Guardiola has managed in the past have done.

Compared to the other central midfielders in City’s squad, Gundogan fares well. He has scored three goals in all competitions which is more than both Fabian Delph and Fernando. Fernandinho and Yaya Toure both have five and six goals respectively but Toure has been operating in a more attacking role.

Dortmund have been excellent in the league this year and have out scored Bayern despite losing the league title to them. Gundogan has been one of the main men for a number of years for Dortmund firstly under Jurgen Klopp and this season under Thomas Tuchel. It would be a huge blow for the club if both Gundogan and Hummels leave having been the backbone to the clubs success down the years. City however would be getting a technically accomplished midfielder who is just as happy sitting in front of the back four directing play as he is pushing forward and creating chances for the likes of Sergio Aguero and Kevin de Bruyne.

Liverpool Gossip: £28m Bid In The Pipeline, Gotze Boost & German Defender Targetted

Jurgen Klopp’s first summer in charge of Liverpool promises to be a busy one indeed. Many comings and goings are expected at Anfield over the next few months as Klopp decides who he will keep to help mount a challenge for the Premier League title and who he deems unworthy of wearing the famous red shirt.

Klopp has already secured the signature of Joel Matip from Schalke and more are sure to follow. We take a look at three of the transfer rumors doing the rounds today.

Update: Borussia Dortmund beat Liverpool to £28million Ousamme Dembele (Fresh Football)

Liverpool have made enquiries about Rennes forward Ousmane Dembele but may have to pay a massive £28 million to secure his services. The 18-year-old have impressed in Ligue 1 so far this season scoring 12 goals and winning the young player of the year award.

Such a rise to prominence has got many big clubs looking in the direction of Dembele and Klopp may have to fight off competition from former club Borussia Dortmund for the player. Klopp and Dembele have already spoken and Dembele is thought to be impressed by the German.

One possible snag is that there is an ongoing dispute between Dembele’s representatives and Rennes. the French club is keen to sell him to Dortmund and the player and family have visited their training ground in the past few weeks.

Gotze told he is not wanted by Bayern (Suddeutsche Zeitung)

Mario Gotze looks destined to move away from Bayern Munich this summer and Liverpool could be a likely destination. Incoming manager Carlo Ancelotti does not see the 23-year-old World Cup winner as having a future at the club and is keen to move him on.

 

 

Bayern this week have signed Renato Sanches from Benfica and Gotze’s time on the field with the first team could be limited going into next season. This year Gotze has been limited to just 13 Bundesliga appearances due to injury and poor form, Guardiola preferring to play Kingsley Coman instead.

If Gotze does transfer to Liverpool then he will re-unite with Klopp who he played under at Borussia Dortmund winning two league titles and reaching a Champions League final.

Stuttgart defender Rudiger on radar (Daily Star)

Stuttgart defender Antonio Rudiger is on the radar of Liverpool manager Klopp. The Germany international has been on loan at Roma this season and has impressed helping the Serie A side to second in the table. A player like Rudiger would have been useful as Stuttgart are struggling with relegation and are currently second from bottom in the Bundesliga.

Klopp must believe that his defence needs some strengthening and is looking at Rudiger as an option for the coming season. Having already signed Joel Matip from Schalke, Klopp is attempting to do his business early and has identified the central defensive area as one that needs improving.

With Mamadou Sakho out of contention and Kolo Toure well into his mid-thirties, it is time for fresh bodies at Anfield. Rudiger and Matip could be a solid partnership for Klopp in years to come.

Chelsea Poised To Make £28million Bid After Opening Offer Is Turned Down

Chelsea appear to have had a £23million bid for their prime midfield target turned down. Despite the rejection, it seems that was just an opening bid and they will go back again..

Now, they will consider upping their bid to around £28million to persuade AS Roma to sell. Roma reportedly want £32million for the Belgian midfielder. Chelsea will hope that a bid of around £28million is a fair negotiation and enough to convince president James Pallotta to part with the midfielder. Pallotta remains assertive in his desire not to sell the midfielder, but there is a feeling that if the bid is high enough, he will be sold:

“I have already said that we will not sell Pjanic and Nainggolan,” Pallotta told Gazzetta dello Sport after the 3-0 win against Chievo at the weekend. “I would like to see them continue playing for Roma.”

Antonio Conte has made Nainggolan one of his priorities for the summer as he looks to re-structure what, at times, has been a pretty abysmal midfield this season. Nainggolan is a well-rounded, box-to-box midfielder that would add a lot of energy to the midfield. He is not too similar to any Chelsea player but strikes most similarities to former Blue Ramires, who left for big money to join the Chinese league in January. Like Ramires, Nainggolan plays with a tireless work rate, but perhaps has a bit more strength and is more enthusiastic in duels.

Nainggolan wins 47% of his duels, more than both Nemanja Matic and Cesc Fabregas. He wins fewer tackles than the current midfield pairing per 90 though (1.64). The Belgian does however manage 1.3 key passes, more than double that of Matic (0.6) and not far behind the creative Fabregas (1.72). Nainggolan’s stats highlight his all-round qualities; he doesn’t really excel in many areas, but seems to be behind one of Matic or Fabregas and ahead of the other in most stats. That begs the question as to who he would partner, or is Conte going to deploy a narrow midfield with three central players, in which case he could play alongside both. If Nainggolan played alongside Matic and Fabregas you would have a midfield trio that has pretty much everything, perhaps not a lot of pace but that can be compensated for in other areas of the pitch. I think Nainggolan’s signing, should it happen, would certainly indicate a change in formation from the usual 4-2-3-1 that we have seen Chelsea deploy for the last few seasons.

At this stage Chelsea still need to improve their bid significantly to have a realistic chance of luring the player from Rome. A £28million bid could be the next step, but I’m not even sure that will be enough with Roma keen to keep hold of their current top players heading into next season.

Bundesliga Transfers: Liverpool & Everton Close In On Multiple Deals, Hummels Update

The Bundesliga Championship was decided on Saturday as Bayern Munich romped to a 2-1 win over Ingolstadt to claim their record breaking fourth title in a row. Despite their dominant season, Bayern, under new manager Carlo Ancelotti will indeed want to strengthen their squad over the summer as will their closest challengers and rivals, Borussia Dormtund.

Here is our latest Bundesliga gossip.

Bayern looking to re-sign Mats Hummels after bust-up with Dortmund (Sky Sports)

Bayern look likely to raid Dortmund for the third time in recent years for one of their star players, this time captain Mats Hummels. The Bavarians have signed high-profile players Mario Gotze and Robert Lewandowski in recent years and would really rub salt into the Dortmund wound if they were to capture the signature of the Germany international.

Hummels reacted angrily to a statement the club released saying that he wanted a transfer in the summer to Bayern, despite having one year left on his current contract at the Westfalenstadtion. Hummels did seem to throw water on the rumors and give Dortmund fans hope that he might stay saying:

“I have no idea why they had to do it. Everything is possible and nothing is decided yet.”

Bayern are yet to make an offer for the player who started his career with them, expect this one to run throughout the summer.

Liverpool keen on swoop for Hoffenheim pair (Daily Star)

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp is keen on signing Hoffenheim pair Kevin Volland and Nicklas Sule. Hoffenheim have enjoyed a revival in recent months since the arrival of manager Julian Nagelsmann and avoided relegation which at one time looked very likely.

Volland and Sule have been key to this survival and the club will be worried that teams like Liverpool come calling for their top players. Last summer The Reds signed Roberto Firmino from Hoffenheim and the Brazilian has enjoyed an excellent first season at Anfield.

Volland is an exciting prospect scoring ten league goals this season and hopes to force his way into Joachim Low’s squad for the upcoming European Championships. Sule has expressed his intent to play in the Premier League saying:

“England is sometimes appealing because the physical style of play suits me.”

Klopp has already signed defender Joel Matip from Hoffenheim’s Bundesliga rivals Schalke.

Everton identify Mainz goalkeeper Karius as one to replace Howard (Liverpool Echo)

Everton have endured a testing season this campaign and are set to finish in the bottom half of the Premier League. Hardly the fairy tale ending to the nine-year career on Merseyside for goalkeeper Tim Howard. The 37-year old American international will leave the club for the Colorado Rapids in July and his replacement could be Loris Karius of Bundesliga outfit Mainz.

The 22-year old goalkeeper is a regular for the first team and has represented Germany at Under-21 level. Karius is one of a large crop of talented German goalkeepers and has attracted the interest of Everton and cross-city rivals Liverpool.

Karius has been in fine form for Mainz this season who are currently fifth in the Bundesliga and are in a great position to make the Europa league qualification for next year. He has appeared in 33 games and kept ten clean sheets in all competitions.

Not Mahrez: Chelsea Confident Of Beating Arsenal To Sign ‘Premier League’s Best Player’

Chelsea are reportedly growing increasingly confident of signing Leicester City midfielder, N’Golo Kante, who recently won the Premier League.

Kante is thought to be looking to leave the club for a better contract financially this summer, despite his current club recently being crowned Champions. Leicester now appear willing to part with their star man, with Sporting Lisbon’s William Carvalho lined up as a replacement.

Carvalho is quite different to Kante in style, the Portuguese midfielder isn’t the hardest worker but is perhaps more confident on the ball than Kante.

 

 

Kante has been named as the best player in the league by the likes of Sir Alex Ferguson and Leicester will reportedly ask for £30million for the Frenchman, an amount that will probably be paid considering the magnitude of clubs interested in him (PSG, Chelsea, Arsenal etc.)

Kante would add energy to a lethargic Chelsea midfield and it seems that Antonio Conte has identified him as a player who could improve the clubs first XI.

The benefits of Kante are clear. He’s a workhorse with extremely impressive defensive attributes. Kante has managed significantly more interceptions and tackles (4.68 and 3.64 per 90 minutes) than any other Chelsea midfielder this season. His limitations come in his passing and technical quality, completing just 81% of his passes this season. Leicester City have shown that you don’t need to be perfect passers to win the league, but a club like Chelsea would surely demand more efficiency from their midfielders passing performances.

I think Kante could be a really good midfield partner for Cesc Fabregas. The Spaniard recently admitted his favourite midfield partner of all time was the then workhorse, Mathieu Flamini – ahead of the likes of Xavi and Andres Iniesta. This highlights that for Cesc to be at his best and most comfortable, he needs an engine alongside him, allowing the Spaniard to focus on his creative influences.

Arsenal Now Lead The Race Ahead Of Tottenham To Sign Highly-Rated English Forward

Arsenal are reportedly currently leading the race ahead of Premier League rivals Tottenham to sign England’s next exciting attacker.

18-year-old Ademola Lookman has impressed for a sinking ship, Charlton Athletic this season, scoring 5 goals and recently becoming a regular starter in the XI. Charlton have been relegated to League One and that means clubs like Arsenal may have a better chance to sign him.

The rumoured fee for Lookman is £2.5million, a small price to pay if he is to realise his potential. That valuation is not too risky for a club like Arsenal to cough up, small change really and a move should be a formality if the Gunners decide to follow up their extensive scouting of the player with an official bid.

Lookman can play on the wing or as a striker and will add to the Gunners first team attacking options. There is the possibility that he would immediately be sent back out on loan, probably to a Championship club or maybe even back to Charlton to help them try and regain promotion.

Lookman is a player who possesses particularly strong dribbling attributes, making him an effective option on the wing. An area he needs to continue working on though is his final ball, which at this stage lacks consistency (just 1 assist this season). He is an instinctive finisher though, aided by his ability to strike the ball with either foot, adding unpredictability to his game.

If this stage, under Arsene Wenger’s system, if he were to play for Arsenal it would almost certainly be as a winger. His height (just under 5ft 7) restricts his ability to hold the ball up, an essential ingredient for a lone striker for the Gunners.

Although he might immediately draw comparisons, Lookman is nothing like Alex Iwobi. The Charlton forward is less composed on the ball and more direct. A quicker turn of pace and more instinctive in front of goal, whereas Iwobi has different plus points (strength, build up player).

As much as Arsenal need a world-class striker, they do also need some young blood in that area and Lookman looks like he has the potential to be just that.

Analysis: Would John Stones Be An Improvement For Chelsea, Man Utd or Man City?

According to reports this morning Chelsea will once again revive their interest in England International John Stones.

With their season all but over they are now looking at potential summer buys with Stones leading the list, although the current defender has come under criticism for his dip in form Chelsea still have good faith he is the man to replace John Terry who is set to leave Stamford Bridge.

Antonio Conte will take over as Chelsea manager after Euro 2016. It is reported as part of the summer overhaul which is very much needed after a somewhat shambolic season they will firstly attempt a move for Stones. The 21-year-old was reportedly close to joining the Blues form Barnsley in January 2013 but the player himself opted to move to Everton for £3 million. Chelsea tried and failed with three bids last summer for the defender with the highest bid believed to be £37 million, Stones’ current club even rejected a transfer request from the player as he tried to force a move away from the club.

There is no hiding the fact that Stones has struggled this season, it may be due to the fact he had his heart on a move to Chelsea and his mind is elsewhere. Although he has disappointed this season, Chelsea still retain full hope in the player and trust his ability and will be hopeful of tying him down this summer.

After impressive performances in recent seasons he has also got himself 8 caps for England.

Unlike last year, Chelsea will really have to battle for his signature with Barcelona, Manchester United and Manchester City also interested in the player and motioning the situation, all three clubs understand it will be hard to persuade Everton to sell this summer after they were very stubborn last season. The player himself will no doubt want to move and play for a bigger team whether than be in England or elsewhere, Everton have underachieved once again this season and don’t look like they’ll get Champions League football anytime soon.

 

Analysis Focus

Incoming Manchester City boss (Pep) is reported to be very keen on Stones and would like to sign him for City this summer, but with the strong interest from Chelsea they seem to be leading the chase.

 

Being a defender in one of the toughest leagues in the world and be able to win tackles successfully is a major factor of being a world class defender. Stones has won a very good 1.26 tackles which is better than his opponents. Smalling is second with 1.19, Kompany third with 1.06 and Terry last 0.80. One worrying thing for the clubs interested in Stones is his defensive errors; he comes top with 0.15 which is not very pleasing. Terry is second with 0.05 and both Smalling and Kompany have a score of 0 when it comes to defensive errors which are very impressive. Interceptions in defence can be as big as an assist in attack. Smalling has completely annihilated his rivals with this start and has a very good score of 2.77. Terry is second with 1.74 and Stones closely behind on 1.71, Kompany is last with 1.63. Known to be the toughest leagues in the world players have to be good in the air and be brave enough to challenge, Kompany who stands way over 6’ feet has won 85.37% of aerial duels which is completely superior than his rivals, Terry is second on 68.18% and Stones third after scoring 64.79%. Surprisingly Smalling is last with aerial duels won after scoring just 60.40% which is still over half. Like interceptions, blocks are so important for a defender, whether it be stopping a shot on the line or blocking a pass through on goal. Stones impressively comes first on total blocks after scoring 1.15 per 90 minutes; Terry is second on 0.80, Smalling third 0.58 and Kompany last on 0.28. In total, Smalling comes out on top for his defence score scoring a winning score of 16.60 with Kompany closely behind on 13.91. Stones is third on 8.62 and surprisingly ex-England international Terry is last on 5.92.

In summary, there is no doubt at just 21 years old Stones will only get better. He hasn’t had his best season and it may be because his heart is elsewhere but there is no doubt about the potential he would bring. All clubs interested in Stones will have to pay a very high fee in order to receive his services and whatever team is lucky enough to sign him will be very happy. He is such a raw talent with so much more to learn and with the right direction he could become one of the best defenders in Europe.

Analysis: This Winger Is Arsenal’s Number 1 Transfer Target, But How Good Is He?

According to reports this morning, Arsenal have made Riyad Mahrez their number one summer target in a major squad overhaul. Mahrez has caught the eye of the Gunners after a very impressive season scoring 11 goals and assisting 16 in 34 Premier League games. Leicester City are now on course to win their first ever Premier League title.

According to The Sun Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger has reportedly told close friends signing the Algerian international is his main priority this summer. It is reported Arsenal will let Theo Walcott leave as part of the squad overhaul after a somewhat disappointing season. Walcott hasn’t managed to nail down a starting position after only signing a contract last year and it looks as if Arsenal have already found his replacement.

Arsenal know they’ll have to pay a much higher fee than what Leicester City paid, with reports saying the price may be £25 million upwards to convince the Foxes in selling their main man.

The 24-year-old midfielder has 4 goals in 24 appearances for Algeria.

A number of teams are reportedly interested in Mahrez including Barcelona and Real Madrid.

Arsenal will be keen to bolster their squad this summer after a pathetic attempt at winning the title, it may be Wenger’s last year and am sure he would want to leave on a high.

Arsene Wenger admitted he had never heard of Mahrez when Leicester City brought him for just £400,000 in January 2014 from French Ligue 2 club Le Havre. But he did admit how well he has developed.

“I didn’t know him honestly, he played in the second division in France,” Wenger said. “He has developed extremely well; today he is one of the dominant players in the Premier League.”

Analysis Focus

Straight away a stat that really impresses me is the goals scored by Mahrez, Arsenal have struggled to find the net frequently this season and Mahrez scores a very impressive 0.54 goals per 90 minutes, that beats off any one of Arsenal’s current wingers with Walcott second 0.34, Campbell third 0.31 and Chamberlain last 0.10. Arsenal haven’t come short of creating chances this season but Mahrez would once again increase the number of chances created. Although Chamberlain scores a very impressive 1.83 Mahrez is just behind on 1.64, Walcott and Campbell are third and fourth with 1.16 and the latter 1.13. Although Mesut Ozil is the leading player for total assists this season, Mahrez has also been incredible on that front assisting 0.37. Campbell is second with 0.20, Walcott third 0.14 and Chamberlain scoring a very disappointing 0.

Being a winger you have to be successful when taking your defender on as it will help you put pressure on the opposition’s defence, it could also help in a transition from defence to attack which will benefit the team. Chamberlain scores a winning 70.59% successful take on’s with Campbell second 65.38%, Mahrez is third on 54.69% and Walcott last 50%. In total Mahrez convincingly comes first with total attack score, after a very impressive season he has shown his qualities and has caught the eye of the Gunners with a very impressive 36.11, this is huge improvement on Arsenal’s current wingers with the closest to him is Walcott in second 21.40, Chamberlain third 19.85 and Campbell last 17.80.

In summary, Mahrez would be a huge upgrade on Arsenal’s current wingers. At only 25 years old he will now be hitting his prime with plenty more years in front of him. His stats prove how key he has been for Leicester City’s title charge and prove why he could be so good for Arsenal. The Gunners need to invest into the squad this summer as it is simply not good enough. The likes of Mahrez being signed would surely put an end to Walcott’s Arsenal career and could even put Chamberlain’s into doubt with the likes of Joel Campbell expected to leave. Arsene Wenger denied interest in the Algerian in his press conference on Wednesday, but when has he ever admitted having an interest in a player? He said on reported interest in Mahrez “No, even if it was, I would not think about it at this stage of the season. It would be disrespectful to Leicester, but it is not the case.”

 

Arsenal, Man Utd & Barcelona Ready Bids For World Class German International

According to reports in Germany this morning, Mats Hummels has to decide in the next few weeks whether he wants to extend his current contract with Borussia Dortmund or leave. His current contract runs out in 2017 and if both parties are unable to reach an agreement it is likely Dortmund will be forced to sell this summer with Arsenal, Manchester United and Barcelona interested.

Mats Hummels has arguably been one of the best players in his position for many years, the German international also has 4 goals in 46 appearances for his country.

Dortmund understands that the interest in Hummels could turn his head, he has been at the Westfalenstadion for eight years and may fancy a new challenge. At 27 years old Hummels is reaching his prime years and will not want to have any regrets in his career. He has done excellent with Dortmund after winning the Bundesliga twice and also reaching the final of the Champions League.

German newspaper Bild report Arsenal and Manchester United are mainly paying close attention to the situation but also insist Barcelona are monitoring his situation. Hummels this season expressed his doubts about signing a new deal and committing himself to Dortmund and admits he is in no rush to do so.

Dortmund may have to cash in on Hummels this summer if a contract isn’t agreed or risk losing him for free in 2017. Although they wouldn’t receive a massive fee as his contract is coming to an end they would still want enough to money to hopefully replace the outgoing defender.

Hummels told media last season he was reflecting on whether to leave Dortmund but wanted to stay for Thomas Tuchel’s debut season.

“I already said before the season that I want to see what happens this year — a new coach, several changes in the squad. To me, it is important to see how good we are, and how good we can be in the future.

“I am not pushed for time, and no one from the club has put any pressure on me.”

Hummel’s was asked if he is facing the biggest decision of his career.

“No, I don’t think so. I had to make this decision quite frequently. And, indeed, we have not entered talks.”

He also said he was “not leaning one way or another” and his committed focus is “completely on football” for now.

We recently covered Arsenal’s frailties in defence and the much-needed reinforcements this summer. Per Mertesacker and Gabriel Paulista have both been exposed several times this season and have both failed on nailing down a starting position. The only player with some pride would be Laurent Koscielny who has been Arsenal’s best centre-back and has helped Arsenal massively when relied on, it is thought a new centre-back would be to play alongside Koscielny instead of replacing him.

United have been too reliant on David De Gea, Chris Smalling has been good but they have still been left short in that position. United have often been exposed when facing attacking teams, for example they had a complete defensive meltdown against Spurs last week after losing 3-0 conceding all goals in six minutes.

It is clear Hummels would be a clear upgrade to both teams and would really bring more stability to their defences; he is a leader which both teams are also lacking.

Barcelona’s interest also isn’t a surprise; after lacklustre defensive performances which have squashed their lead at the top of La Liga to just one point. Questions have been raised after disappointing performances recently especially from Javier Mascherano and Gerard Pique. They are still without a doubt the best team in the world after the triple last season but have recently been knocked out of the Champions League in the quarter-finals, which is not good enough for a club of Barcelona’s stature. There is no doubt Hummels would be interested in a move to the Spanish giants if a bid was made.

How does Hummels compare to United, Arsenal and Barcelona’s current crop of defenders?

Being a defender you have to win your tackles, it’s what being a defender is all about. Mascherano has a very impressive 1.95 with tackles won, closely in second is Hummel’s 1.79, Pique is third 1.28, Smalling fourth with 1.23 and Mertesacker last 1.14. Mertesacker has a very good percentage when it comes to aerial duels won. He has won a very impressive 76.27%, in second is Hummels with 70.95%, and third is Mascherano which is surprising as he is also the smallest. He has won 61.70%, Pique just edges Smalling in fourth with 60.92% and the latter 60%.

Being defensively aware and being able to read the game will help defenders intercept play. Hummel’s has a quite astonishing 3.04 when it comes to interceptions which completely blow him out of the water. Smalling is second with 2.77 which is once again impressive. Barcelona pair Mascherano and Pique is third and fourth with (2.31 v the latter 2.04). This stat doesn’t help Mertesacker as he has been labelled non-mobile and very slow, he scores a very low 1.54. Blocks are the same, you need to be defensively positioned with great awareness of play to get in the way and help your back line. Smalling has a very high score with blocks, scoring an impressive 0.60, closely behind is Pique 0.56 and Mascherano 0.52, Mertesacker is fourth with 0.45. Surprisingly Hummels is last with quite a poor score of 0.13 which is quite a difference to his interception score. Smalling is once again top when it comes to clearances scoring a high score of 5.43; Mertesacker is just behind on 5.15 with Pique third on 4.04. Hummels is fourth scoring 3.54 and Mascherano scores a below standard 2.07. Taking everything into consideration, Hummels has the best defensive score compared to all defenders scoring a very impressive 23.09. Smalling is second 16.28, Mertesacker third 12.74 and the Barcelona pair Pique and Mascherano both near the bottom with (10.02 v the latter 8.41).

In summary, Hummels would improve any defence in the world. He will be in high demand this summer if he cannot agree new terms with Dortmund, he would certainly be an improvement to all three teams mentioned and help them build stability from the back. He has been a rock in Dortmund’s recent success and I am sure they will try their hardest to keep him. If it is made clear Hummels can leave this summer I’m sure more clubs would become interested, for example Manchester City and Chelsea who are also looking to strengthen their defence. It isn’t yet clear whether or not he will leave this summer but if he does he will guarantee any club to be a great signing. His consistency will be taken into consideration and his leadership skills will also play a major part. His impressive stats have caught the eye of many teams and whoever lands him will be lucky.

 

Dortmund Move Ahead Of Chelsea & Manchester United In Race To Sign Everton Ace

Everton appear set to part ways with Belgian striker Romelu Lukaku this summer following an extremely poor showing in the league from the Merseyside club.

Lukaku wants to be playing at a higher level and with the calibre of clubs interested in him, you can understand if he pushes for a move away this summer. Everton will demand in excess of £40million, but that will not deter Manchester United and Dortmund, both of whom are likely to be cash loaded this summer. Aubameyang is likely to join Real Madrid for a fee in excess of £50million, whilst United continue to have a loaded bankroll.

Lukaku was allegedly spotted at the Dortmund training ground this week, adding more fuel to the speculation.

Martinez has tried to distract the rumours with the club heading into a pivotal week, he said: “The response is very clear [on Lukaku]… You just said that we are in the defining week of our season and if you think we are going to be distracted by reports you are mistaken”.

Analysis

So is Lukaku worthy of filling Aubameyang’s boots? The Belgian has a long way to go to become as efficient in front of goal as the Gabon international, but at 22, he has already shown himself as a top-level striker.

A statistical comparison between the duo highlight the differences, Aubameyang has been much more prolific this season, scoring 0.9 goals per 90 minutes – whilst Lukaku has managed just 0.58. In terms of assists, they are pretty even (0.19 vs. 0.20), Aubameyang’s shot accuracy is 57%, 4% higher than Lukaku’s. The only real area where Lukaku edges this battle is in terms of duels won (40.87% vs. 35.88%). He also makes more key passes per game (1.39 vs. 0.90) – this highlights his effectiveness as a link up striker.

Gundogan Agrees Contract With Man City, Now Pep Wants To Beat Arsenal To £30m Striker

Manchester City have already agreed a deal to sign Ilkay Gundogan from Borussia Dortmund according to German publication BILD.

They suggest a fee is yet to be finalised, but it will be around €30million, and a 5-year contract has already been agreed with the player. We previously posted about 6 potential transfer targets for Pep, and this list includes Gundogan.

Gundogan is primarily a deep lying playmaker and will anchor Pep’s midfield. He averages over 80 completed passes per game and his passing range is good, this is highlighted by his long ball tally of nearly 4 per game. He rarely contributes to goals though, so this highlights that he is most effective in deeper areas. Playing alongside the likes of David Silva, the German can afford to focus on his strengths and keep the midfield ticking.

Morata to follow?

There are now rumours that City want to rival Arsenal in the race to sign Alvaro Morata this summer. The 23-year-old’s future is up in the air at the moment and Pep is keen to replace Wilfried Bony this summer.

Although previously linked with Mauro Icardi, the Spanish striker may be a more suitable striker to play second fiddle to Aguero. Morata plays with the style that Pep likes, capable of linking midfield to attack.

Morata has 80% pass completion, very impressive for a striker. He makes 1.35 key passes and has a shot accuracy of 61%. Although he needs to score more regularly to be amongst the best, he still excels in goals scored against Bony (0.39 vs. 0.33). Morata’s shot accuracy and key passes statistics are even better than the clubs talisman, Sergio Aguero. With the ability to play on the left wing, Morata could play alongside Aguero, or act as his backup to help provide some respite and competition for the Argentinian.

Morata and Gundogan could be the first of many signings this summer for Guardiola’s new project. Both would appear to provide big improvements on the clubs current options, whilst the duo would appear to fit seamlessly into Guardiola’s style of play.

Four Signings That Would Complete Ronald Koeman’s Jigsaw At Southampton

Whilst Ronald Koeman’s greatest focus over this summer will be the retaining his side’s top performers, he will also be eager to dip into the transfer market and find yet more of Europe’s hidden gems. Southampton have proved to be masters of the transfer market over recent years, acquiring the services of Victor Wanyama, Dejan Lovren, Sadio Mane, Fraser Forster and Toby Alderweireld, just to name a few. So, who could be the next big talent to wear the red and white stripes?

1 – Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain

The first target, a man who wore those famous stripes in his younger years – Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. The return of the Ox to St. Mary’s has been considered a dream move for fans over the past two seasons, but now, with Oxlade-Chamberlain struggling for first team football, that dream could soon become reality. Since the beginning of the season, Oxlade-Chamberlain has started just 17 games of the 33 that he has featured in. According to The Telegraph and The Mirror, Arsenal are willing to listen to offers for the twenty-two-year-old, with Southampton showing great interest. If Sadio Mane were to leave this summer, then Oxlade-Chamberlain would prove to be an incredible replacement. But, if the Senegalese star were to stay, then Southampton would boast one of the most exciting frontlines in the Premier League. Despite only scoring two goals this season, it’s clear for all to see that the Ox holds talent in abundance and that It may well be time for him to move on from the Gunners. Southampton can not allow a player of such quality to fall through their fingers.

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Report: Tottenham Have Entered Talks To Sign 3 Huge Improvements To Attacking Force

Mauricio Pochettino is allegedly already looking to bolster his attack this summer. Despite the club’s solid showing in the Premier League, they have lacked an alternative to Kane. Here are three top quality attackers they could sign.

1 – Mario Mandzukic

Tottenham are looking to ease the goal scoring burden off of Harry Kane’s shoulders next season and to do that they are looking at signing Mario Mandzukic according to Tuttosport, via Metro. The 29-year-old would add experience and a different dimension to the Spurs attack. He has scored 11 goals this season, with game time in Italy restricted. Mandzukic would be a useful signing as he can also play on the wing, enabling him to play alongside Kane if the game requires it. Son has been Tottenham’s rotation option for Kane for most of the season. In comparison to Son, Madzukic is much more prolific, scoring on average 0.45 goals per 90 minutes (Son averages 0.19). The Croatian is not as creative as Son, though, who managed 1.52 key passes per 90 compared to Madzukic’s 0.90. An area where Mandzukic really excels is 63% of aerial duels won, Son manages just 27%. This statistic really highlights the different dimension he could add in addition to his ability to lead the line alone, something Son has struggled to do effectively.

Chelsea Round-Up: Talks Begin To Sign Striker, Oscar To Be Sold & Nainggolan Update

With Chelsea’s season all but over and a new long-term manager announced, the club’s attention is firmly on new additions that could be made over the summer. Antonio Conte is already looking busy. Here’s our Chelsea gossip round-up.

Roma admit Nainggolan can leave, but only for big bucks (Evening Standard)

Chelsea’s well documented interested in Radja Nainggolan could well develop into more than that, with the Serie A club now admitting they could sell the Belgian midfielder. A Roma spokesperson said: “A player could be sold to bring in fresh funds and sign different figures, but it would in any case be a choice. We will make choices within the club with the perspective of coach and players to see how we can reinforce and improve Roma.” It is thought that Roma value Nainggolan at around £35million.

 

Oscar to be sold to raise funds (Times)

Roman Abramovic seems to want to sell a valuable asset this summer and Oscar will reportedly be the man to leave. Chelsea want to build a more sustainable transfer model, say The Times, so they need to sell a player of value. It was originally thought that that may be Eden Hazard, but with the Belgian now looking likely to stay, it seems it will be Brazilian that will leave. Oscar has played well on occasions for Chelsea, but lacked the consistency to tie down a regular starting spot. Because of his quality, there will be many clubs interested in signing him and Chelsea can expect to raise a sizeable amount, around £25million-£35million for him. Oscar has managed just 3 goals and 3 assists in the league this season.

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Chelsea open talks with Fulham for striker Dembele (GFFN)

Dembele has impressed for Fulham and is now wanted by Chelsea, according to reports from France. The 19-year-old striker stands at 6ft and has scored 14 goals in the Championship this season, in addition to 6 assists. He may be a good youthful back up for Diego Costa, with Falcao, Loic Remy and Alexandre Pato expected to leave this summer.

More: 4 Signings Antonio Conte Wants To Make At Chelsea

If Oscar leaves, who should replace him? Have your say by commenting below.

Arsenal Interested In Scuppering Chelsea’s Attempts To Sign £30million Defender

Arsenal are interested in bringing long-term target Kostas Manolas to the Emirates stadium this summer according to the Telegraph, the 24 year old Greek international was considered a target by Arsenal two years ago but were priced out of any deal, baulking at Olympiacos’ asking price.

Since moving to Roma in 2014, Manolas has excelled and become a very important member of the team, his performances have gained great attention around Europe and it is believed if Arsenal want to seal this transfer they’d have a big battle on their hands as Chelsea are also very interested.

New head coach Antonio Conte has reportedly already sounded out Manolas’s agent over a potential summer move after being impressed with the Serie A player, but Arsenal have since revived there interest in the 24 year old central defender and will have the advantage of likely being able to offer him Champions League football next year.

Daily Mirror correspondent John Cross has also confirmed Arsenal’s interest in Manolas, he suggests that Manolas was a top transfer target for Arsenal in 2014 but the Gunners staggered and stopped all negotiations after Olympiacos’ valued the central defender at £12 million.

Manolas, who has been very impressive at Roma has now become one of the top centre-backs in Europe and the Gunners know they’d have to pay a lot more than the £12 million they refused to pay in 2014.

As well as Chelsea and Arsenal, it is also rumoured Everton are interested in Manolas as it is likely they will lose John Stones this summer.

It is reported that Arsenal are looking to strengthen their core of the team after only signing Petr Cech last summer. Kostas Manolas appears to be their number one defensive target, with Morata and Xhaka also potential targets to help rebuild the team this summer.

Arsene Wenger has been under huge pressure this season after his team fell 11 points behind current leaders Leicester City. For many years fans and ex-players have said Arsenal need to rebuild their core and it seems as if Wenger has now lost trust with players. Vice-Captain Per Mertesacker has lost his place in the starting 11 to Gabriel Paulista after somewhat a disappointing season and according to the Independent the Gunners aren’t looking to extend his contract this summer when his deal runs out in 2017.

So how does Manolas compare with Arsenal’s current crop of centre backs, will he be a major improvement on Per Mertesacker, Laurent Koscielny and Gabriel Paulista?

A stat that really impresses me is the amount of tackles won by Manolas, he scores a very impressive 1.44, Gabriel is just behind on 1.32, Mertesacker in third with 1.14 and Koscielny last with 0.89, that would be a huge boost for the Gunners especially as they’ve lacked so badly defensively this season, the Premier League is one of the toughest leagues in the world. Koscielny scores a very impressive 2.76 with the amount of aerial duels he has won, Manolas is just behind on 2.67 which is once again very good, Gabriel is third on 2.64 and Mertesacker last with 2.23. Being a defender you have to position yourself perfectly if it means nicking the ball or breaking up play, block are also key as it can then help the team get forward or even better stop the keeper having to make a save, Manolas and Koscielny are joint top with blocks scoring 0.81 each, Gabriel is second on 0.79 and Mertesacker considerably behind with 0.45.

Manolas

Defensive errors could be a concern for the Gunners, although he doesn’t score too highly he still scores 0.11 which is second with Gabriel first on 0.13, although it’s not a drastic amount or something that would stop the Gunners signing him it could still be a concern. Mertesacker has seemed to be a liability for the Gunners at times this season but he scores 71.30% for total duels won, Gabriel is second with 61.74%, Manolas closely behind on 60.16% and Koscielny last on 54.50%. Interceptions are also key for a defender, Koscielny scores a massively high score of 3.98 with Gabriel in second on 3.37, Manolas is third and quite a way behind on 2.07 with Mertesacker again last on 1.54.

In summary, Manolas would certainly give great competition to Gabriel and Koscielny whilst it looks like Mertesacker is being sounded out of the team, there is clear interest from Arsenal but to land their man they must be willing to pay the asking price this time. At just 24 years old he can only get better and look to be the long term replacement for Mertesacker.

69% Shot Accuracy: West Ham Plan To Sign Efficient Newcastle Star, Spurs Interested

Dutch star Georginio Wijnaldum, 25, could well be on his way out of Newcastle United should they be relegated this season, after just one season with the Tyneside-on-sea giants.

The Magpies currently sit in 19th place in the Premier League and look dangerously close to dropping down into the Championship, a league that last years Eredivisie’s Player of the Year will surely feel is below his batting range. With 7 games to go and Newcastle sitting 6 points away from safety, survival is seemingly bleak, especially after losing 3-2 to Norwich in a pivotal relegation dog-fight.

Despite a poor season for Newcastle as a club, Wijnaldum has been a diamond in the rough scoring 9 goals in 31 league appearances. That includes an incredible four goal in the demolition job of Norwich, in the reverse fixture back in October 2015. He makes up 29.03% of their total league goals this campaign, not bad at all for your debut season in the Premier League.

Analysis Focus

Wij Diamond

It may come as a surprise to some that Wijnaldum has given to Newcastle just as much as he did last year with PSV. From our analysis it is clear he has improved on his attacking side of his game, even though he would have faced a much more difficulty this year, as last year PSV walked the Eredivisie by a margin of 17 points and had the likes of Memphis Depay who himself scored 22 league goals during the 14/15 campaign.

His pass completion remains of high quality, chances created, assists and shot accuracy have seen a sharp rise also. All he would need to do is score 6 Premier League goals this year to complete overhaul his previous season in terms of production. Previously he scored 14 league goals with PSV in the 14/15 season and will only look to improve on that and with West Ham improving by the week, it would seem like a wise move to dive-in for the talented Dutchman. However, Tottenham are also rumoured to be in the mix and should both clubs decide to formally bid, it will certainly be a test of who can produce the best honey pot in luring Wijnaldum.

Payet

Producing the same analysis statistics, we can compare Wijnaldum with West Ham’s very own talisman, Dimitri Payet. Arguably the Premier League’s best signing this summer, Payet has produced some phenomenal displays which hav catapulted West Ham up the table and in contention for a serious Champions League spot.

In terms of pass completion and shot accuracy the two seem very similar, with both providing high level performances. Similarly, both are used on field as a focal point and seem to be the pivot on their respective teams attacking displays. At West Ham, Wijnaldum would be surrounded by more influential players and this would further increase his productive side in attack.

It is no secret, however, that Payet has been much more productive and West Ham as a team have been much more efficient. With Payet’s chances created, at 3.88 per game, it is clear to see he is the target man going forward and with the addition of Wijnaldum this would offer West Ham the extra dimension and extra pivot in the midfield. Most notably, Wijnaldum has been ever present for Newcastle this season and alongside the likes of Payet, Lanzini, Antonio and Valencia, West Ham would be making a real shot for contention at becoming a Champions League side, just in time for the move to the brand new Olympic Stadium.

Gunners Plan To Beat Liverpool & Tottenham To Sign Dortmund Midfielder: How He’d Fit In

Arsenal are interested in bringing Henrikh Mkhitaryan to the Emirates this summer and will go all out for the midfielder according to the Guardian. The Armenian international is out of contract in 2017 and is undecided whether or not to sign a new deal with his current club.

Mkhitaryan is understood to be unsure where his future lies and reports claim Arsenal have sent scouts to watch the midfielder and have further monitored his progress via video clips. There is also reported interest from Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur so Arsenal would have to move fast to have any chance of landing their target.

Mkhitaryan has impressed this season under new coach Thomas Tuchel and has scored a very impressive 20 goals in 43 appearances. Since his £23.5million move from Shakhtar Donetsk, Mkhitaryan has been very clinical and has proved how important he is for the Bundesliga giants, he is technically gifted with an impressive goal scoring record and can play anywhere across the three behind the striker.

The 27-year-old attacking midfielder has also scored 16 goals in 57 games at international level for his home country Armenia.

Borussia Dortmund are desperate to keep hold of one of their key players and are set to offer Mkhitaryan a new contract with a huge pay rise, but the club will be aware that if they cannot agree terms on a new contract they may be forced to sell Mkhitaryan this summer or risk losing him for free in 2017.

Arsenal are almost certain to let go of Flamini, Arteta and Rosicky whose contracts all run out this summer. Mkhitaryan would be seen as an ideal replacement for Rosicky, with the likes of Flamini and Arteta to also be replaced with a new central midfielder as the Gunners are aware they must strengthen their core this summer. They have also been linked with Granit Xhaka in recent weeks.

If Arsenal are to move for Mkhitaryan it would more than likely be for him to play on the right wing.

So how does Mkhitaryan compare with Arsenal’s current crop of wingers, will he be a major improvement on Theo Walcott, Alex Oxlade Chamberlain and Joel Campbell?

Mkhitaryan Comparison

A stat that really impresses me is Mkhitaryan’s chances created, a very impressive 2.81 which is way ahead of the others. Chamberlain is second with 1.83, whilst Walcott (1.19) and Campbell (1.04) are significantly behind the top two. Arsenal have really struggled for goals this season scoring only 48 goals in 30 games, Mkhitaryan once again shows his goal-scoring ability by having the highest score with 0.39. Campbell is closely behind on 0.31 with Walcott on 0.28. Chamberlain has been heavily criticised for his goal scoring record at Arsenal and that stat shows as he only scores sporadically (0.10). The Gunners crave a goalscoring midfielder at the moment and Mkhitaryan appears to be just that.

Chamberlain has a very impressive 23.49 total passes forward whilst Mkhitaryan is very close behind on 21.95, Campbell is third with 15.86 and Walcott is last on 10.44. Being able to beat the defender playing on the wing is key as it helps you build up an attack, Chamberlain scores a very impressive 3.47 for successful take-ons with Mkhitaryan in second on 2.68, Campbell is once again third with a less pleasing 1.56, Walcott follows closely with 1.54. Arsenal have a certain way of playing football, they love to have the ball, it has been said that Arsenal play ‘Wenger ball’ involving neat one two’s and keeping the ball on the floor. When you come to Arsenal if you cannot already you learn to keep possession and have nice neat passing, Chamberlain once again has an impressive score with 82% pass completion, Walcott is second with 79% with Campbell just behind on 78%, Mkhitaryan is last on this occasion scoring 75% on completed passing.

In summary, Mkhitaryan would be a top class signing for the Gunners, he can score goals and create a lot of chances. Competition for places with be tough but Arsenal need players who can give the squad that extra lift, the interest is clearly there, but the interest from other clubs may get Mkhitaryan a new contract which he desire.

The Armenian international, if he did arrive, would be likely to replace Oxlade-Chamberlain in the squad, who has been rumoured with an exit this summer. Walcott’s position has also been questioned as Arsene Wenger targets a summer shake-up. As Arsenal search for more attacking efficiency, the Armenian certainly appears a good fit.

Statistics sourced from Squawka

Analysis: West Ham Pursuing Three Top Quality Strikers – Which Is The Best Fit?

After a less than glamorous start to life at Anfield, it appears Christian Benteke is on the radar for West Ham United. The Belgian target man, 25, has scored just 8 goals in 35 appearances this season, compared to 15 goals in 34 games for Aston Villa during the 2014/15 campaign.

Irons chairman David Sullivan has admitted “he [Benteke] is a player that we admire”, although they may face stiff competition from the likes of Juventus and Atletico Madrid for the Belgian’s signature. Benteke’s reported wage of £120,000 per week may be a big put off for West Ham, who also have other striking targets.

Marseille’s Michy Batshuayi, 22, has been linked since February when chairman Sullivan’s son, Jack Sullivan, posted a picture on Twitter of him wearing a Marsielle shirt with ‘Batshuayi 22’ on the back. Jack has often been a great source for West Ham gossip before official releases, and his young eccentricity often leads him to be at the forefront for breaking news. Batshuayi would reportedly cost a surplus of £30million to prise him away from the French side and it will be interesting to see how high West Ham can go to compete with Europe’s elite clubs, especially as there is a very real chance of Europa League or even Champions League football next season. Batshuayi has been in impressive form, scoring 17 goals in 39 appearances for Marseille in all competitions this campaign.

https://twitter.com/jsullivanwhu/status/702196131716009984

France international Alexandre Lacazette has been heavily linked with a move away from Olympique Lyonnais and West Ham will face competition from the likes of Tottenham,  Juventus and Atletico Madrid for the 24 year-old’s signature. 16 goals in 37 appearances for Lyon this season means interest is high and will only result in a higher transfer fee, again, something West Ham will need to consider if they are really to go toe-to-toe with top clubs.

In terms of Ligue 1 goals this season, Lacazette (14) is slightly edging Batshuayi (13), although both are way behind the League’s top scorer Ibrahimovic (27), who is linked with just about every top club in Europe, at the ripe old age of 34. He was even on West Ham’s radar at one point but interest from the likes of Arsenal and Manchester United seems to have cooled West Ham’s attempts at signing the sensational Swede.

Analysis Focus

Benteke comparison

From a statistical point of view, we see Batshuayi has the most assists (8) from the least chances created, making him the deadliest of the three hit-men. Benteke has struggled for goals at Liverpool but that is due to him not being able to fit into the current system. As a target man he requires the team to be built around him but Liverpool have rarely offered that. He has however managed to create 1.75 chances per 90 minutes, the highest of all three players. The high amount of chances that Lacazette can provide will also be useful for West Ham’s surrounding attacking players, such as Antonio or Payet, who will also be looking to grab plenty of goals next year.

Carroll Comparison

If we dive further in and look at West Ham’s current band of strikers, either Batshuayi or Lacazette offer a vast improvement in terms of goals, but Benteke would provide the pivotal Premier League experience and whether or not Liverpool has worked out for the Belgian, we have seen him prove himself in the Premier League previously with Aston Villa. Carroll, Sakho and Valencia have all had rocky seasons in terms of fitness meaning they have struggled for games, between them Carroll has the most league appearances with just 19. Emenike looks to be a temporary solution until the end of the season, a change of artillery up top is definitely needed as West Ham now look for that potent goalscorer to spearhead their attack and seriously attempt to become a top club in the Premier League.

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Analysis: Liverpool To Activate Spanish International Midfielders Release Clause

Ignacio Camacho has long been linked with a move to the Premier League, but according to reports from England and Spain this week, he may finally make the move this summer.

If the reports are to be believed then Liverpool are the club that are confident of sealing a deal. The Malaga midfielder has a £15.6million release clause, which it seems that Liverpool would be more than willing to activate.

Despite reports that he could have left for as little as £4million last summer, Malaga are insisting that his full release clause must be paid in order for a deal to be done in the coming months.

With a high amount of competition for places, Camacho, 25, has struggled to establish himself in the international setup for Spain, although he has been capped. He has represented Spain heavily at all youth levels. A series of impressive performances this season may have strengthened his slim chances of a Euro 2016 call-up.

Analysis Focus

Lucas Leiva Ignacio Camacho

In comparison to Liverpool’s other more defensive minded central midfielders, Camacho clearly excels in areas such as tackles won (2.52), interceptions (3.5) and aerial duels won (2.94). His interception rate is particularly impressive and that could be a vital addition to Jurgen Klopp’s system. Someone who can break the play up at the base of the midfield will help in a high-pressure system deployed by Klopp. The Spaniard’s 72% pass completion rate is a worry, although possession based football is not how Liverpool’s new German manager generally likes to play. Despite playing as the deepest midfielder, for the most part, Camacho is still a very forward thinking player, averaging 38.46 forward passes per 90 minutes played, only Henderson (44.42) and Lucas Leiva (48.54) better that.

Camacho differentiates from the standard Spanish midfielder; not as neat in possession he likes to get involved in the physical side of the game, with his defensive qualities his best aspect. But such defensive tenacity is not always a good thing; he struggles with discipline picking up a card around every 190 minutes in the league this season, a rate that is more frequent than any midfielder apart from Lucas.

It’s clear that Camacho’s style of play is more similar to Lucas than anyone else and it would most likely be the Brazilian that he would contend with / replace if he did arrive this summer.

Manchester City Have Planned Talks This Week With Leicester City Stars Agent

Manchester City are taking this international break as a chance to snap up potential new signings, according to reports from France.

They say that towards the top of Guardiola’s wish list is Leicester City star N’Golo Kante, who has exploded onto the scene with his performances this season. The report suggests that a meeting with Kante’s representatives has been planned.

Almost certainly the best central midfielder in the division over the last seven months, Kante has been a huge reason in Leicester’s shocking title bid. A tireless work rate combined with intelligent defensive qualities, opposition sides have found Leicester very difficult to play against because of Kante.

Manchester City’s lethargic midfield is certainly in need of a player like Kante, who currently only earns £25,000 per week. It is presumed that Leicester would happily increase that wage, but whether that will be enough is another matter. Kante has refused to rule out a summer move, but has said he wants to stay in England, so this link does make sense.

Recently selected for the France squad for the first time in his career, the 24-year-old’s stock is going up and up and Guardiola is wise to move sooner rather than later in order to get a good deal.

Analysis Focus

So how does Kante compare to Manchester City’s current midfield? A stat that I cannot source is the distance covered, but I am confident that the French midfielder would top the list.

Kante Fernando Yaya Fernandinho

These stats sourced from Squawka highlight the defensive efficiency of Kante. His tackles won per game (3.6) is quite remarkable and blows all of the Manchester City players out of the water. The same can be said for his interceptions (4.73). What is also impressive is that despite all these tackles, he commits just 1.2 fouls per game and has picks up a yellow card just one in ten games. His pass completion rate of 82% may have to improve if he is to succeed in a Pep Guardiola system, but I am sure he is capable of refining that area of his game.

It can be argued that Kante would improve any Premier League team, so how much is he worth? A fee of around £20million has been mooted, but I am sure that Leicester, if they do sell, will hold out for a lot more than that. Considering the current climate of the market, you would expect Kante to be valued in excess of £25million.

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Chelsea and Tottenham On Alert As Belgian Midfielder Says He Wants Move

Axel Witsel has opened the door to a Premier League switch this summer after telling media he wants to leave Zenit St. Petersburg and move to a bigger league. 

The 27-year-old has been linked with a move to England for the majority of his career but never has a link developed into anything more substantial. With the player now willing to get out of Russia, this could be the summer he finally makes the switch.

Tottenham and Chelsea appear to be the favourites to sign the talented Belgian, but the likes of Arsenal and Manchester United have also been linked.

“I still have a contract for one more year come June and the club know how I feel. I would like to play in a bigger league,” Witsel told La Derniere Heure.

“I cannot say that I will 100 percent leave, but we have not held talks over a new deal and my intention is to leave this summer. I want to focus on finishing the season on a high, then there’s the Euros and then we will see what happens.

“I spoke to a number of clubs last summer, but it was not about money for Zenit. They wanted to keep me because of the Champions League and there was no time to sign a replacement. “When a player has just one year left on his contract, a club cannot demand too much money. I don’t think Zenit will be asking €40 million for me.

Analysis Focus

Maybe he won’t cost a team €40million, but he is still likely to demand a fee in excess of £25million – not a small amount of money. So does Witsel have what it takes to play in the starting eleven for Chelsea or Tottenham? We take a look at how he compares to Nemanja Matic and Eric Dier using the Squawka website.

Witsel Matic Dier

Although Witsel would more than likely play in a central midfield role, these stats show he is clearly more of an attacking minded player than both Matic and Dier. Despite this, his aerial duels won (2.42 per game) and total duels won of 54.46% are very impressive, and show he is capable of playing a deeper, more destructive role. He might not win as many tackles or interceptions as you would like from a deep central player, so it might be best to deploy him alongside a Matic or Dier, who excel in those areas. His key passes and pass completion rates highlight the Belgian’s creative instincts, although as always with stats, it is important to put them into context. Playing in a far worse league, Witsel’s stats could be warped. Not only will it be easier for him to create chances but also he may not be required to make as many tackles.

It is possible that Witsel could also join Manchester United. Looking at those five areas, Herrera only edges Witsel in key passes (1.07) and interceptions (2.35).

You can follow all the latest news and gossip as it happens by following us on Twitter @FreshFootball.

Arsene Wenger Opens Talks To Sign €50million Manchester City & Liverpool Target

Arsenal are in talks to sign Granit Xhaka from Borussia Mochengladbach at the end of the season, according to BILD.

Xhaka is very highly rated in Germany and it was thought that Pep Guardiola and Jurgen Klopp wanted to bring him to their new English projects, having experienced his quality first hand in the Bundesliga.

But this latest report from BILD makes it seem as if the Gunners have the upper hand in negotiations. The report says Arsene Wenger has already met with the players agent and a €50million package has been put aside for the deal: €43million transfer fee, €5million to the player and €2million for the agent. This seems feasible – but how would BILD have access to all that information? Who knows, but they claim it as an exclusive in today’s papers.

Standing at 6ft 1 and aged just 23, Xhaka has managed an impressive 39 caps for Switzerland, scoring 6 goals in the process.

Analysis Focus

So how does Xhaka compare to Arsenal’s current crop of central midfielders? With Mathieu Flamini and Mikel Arteta set to leave, would Xhaka offer an improvement on the likes of Aaron Ramsey, Santi Cazorla and Francis Coquelin? We take a look at the stats sourced from Squawka.

Xhaka Ramsey Cazorla Coquelin

A stat that really jumps out at me is Xhaka’s 3.38 aerial duels won per game, that is significantly more than any other midfielder we have. An aerial presence in the heart of the Arsenal midfield has been missing since Patrick Vieira left. Xhaka’s defensive stats are all impressive, as he can also be a goal scoring threat.

These statistics highlight that Xhaka is a defensive minded midfielder that is not as limited offensively as Coquelin. I think he would replace the Frenchman in the midfield, but could play alongside him if Arsene wished to take a more defensive approach to a game. If Xhaka is to play in the deepest role, then he may have to perfect his passing a little and try and get to the level of Cazorla (90%) – but this could come naturally in an Arsenal team that passes the ball more often than Mochengladbach.

If Arsenal wish to snap up Xhaka they’ll have to move fast with Manchester City and Liverpool just two of a number of clubs interested in signing the Swiss International.

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Bayern Munich Midfielder Hints That He May Be Joining Chelsea This Summer

Arturo Vidal has hinted that he may be willing to follow Antonio Conte to Chelsea, after talking up the duo’s relationship.

Conte is widely expected to become the new Chelsea manager at the end of the season and Vidal, who worked under him at Juventus, had nothing but positive things to say about the Italian.

“I have always said if I go to war I would take Conte with me. We will see what happens,” the Chilean midfielder told reporters.

Vidal only joined Bayern Munich in 2015, but he could be on his way out this summer following the departure of Pep Guardiola and implementation of Carlo Ancelotti as head coach for next season. 

Analysis Focus

Chelsea’s new boss will surely be looking to sign a central midfielder this summer, following the depreciating form from Nemanja Matic and Cesc Fabregas. Although Arturo Vidal is a box-to-box midfielder and of a very different ilk to Cesc and Matic, it is only fair to compare him with the players that he would more than likely replace in the starting eleven. We’ve used statistics from this season (sourced from Squawka) to compare five key areas.

Squawka Vidal Cesc Matic

These stats show how the players differ in style if not anything else. They also highlight the industrious manner of Vidal, who has the best assist rate of the trio and also the most tackles won (2.72 per 90 minutes). His ability to attack and defend effectively is unmatched by most midfielders in Europe. The stats also show that Vidal has no real weakness, he is a very all-round midfielder.

Cesc has been found wanting defensively too often when playing in that central midfield role and signing Vidal could allow for the Spaniard to play more permanently in a more advanced position.

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West Ham Confident Of Securing The Signings Of Dynamic Midfield Duo

As we reach the pivotal sector of the season, it appears that Slaven Bilic has not only set his sights on possible FA Cup and Premier League glory but also turned his interest towards improving and sharpening the team for the introductory season to the Olympic Stadium. The suave Croatian has publicly announced an interest in ex-Arsenal and current Monchengladbach midfielder Havard Nordtveit, whom will become available for free transfer in the summer. It is expected to be announced, formally, by West Ham within the upcoming few days after the Norwegian international stated: “I can say that I’m going back to England.”

Nordtveit, whom had a previous spell with Arsenal, did not make a single premier league appearance (albeit he did captain the reserve team in the 2007-2008 FA Premier Reserve League) and was soon shipped off to Borussia Monchengladbach on a three-and-a-half-year deal in December 2010, after loan spells with Salamanca, Lillestrom and FC Nuremberg did not convince Arsene Wenger that Nordtveit had done enough to break him into the first team.

The decision comes after Monchengladbach announced they would not be renewing Nordtveit’s contract and after 143 first team appearances he will leave the club, with the German club issuing a statement saying “Havard Nordtveit is leaving Borussia in the summer” following with “The Norwegian’s contract is expiring at the end of the season, with Borussia not prolonging it as he goes to England.”

Slaven Bilic announced himself that he was “monitoring” the player and although they face competition for Nordtveit’s signature, from the likes of Borussia Dortmund and Atletico Madrid, he himself seems very keen on a return to England.

Analysis Focus

Looking at West Ham’s current midfield maestros, Nordtveit has won 49.44% of his total duels, which beats captain Mark Noble (47.04%), Barcelona loanee Alex Song (45.95%) and Pedro Obiang (48.77%) making him a great fit into the current programme that may see Alex Song leave, should West Ham decide not to make his loan deal permanent. Slaven himself said that he felt Nordtveit was a “great professional” and took note that he is current Monchengladbach captain. Nordtveit has amassed 32 first team appearances this season in all competitions which has really projected his maturity into a regular first team player and with a pass completion ratio of 83.1% this season, he should face no issues adjusting to the pace of the Premier League and to the style we have seen West Ham produce, on the field, this season.

There is also a further indication of Bilic’s vision when he announced West Ham are also signing Manuel Lanzini on a permanent basis. The little Argentine has been in brilliant form early on in the season and despite a big injury, Manuel seems to have convinced Slaven that he has the ability to help West Ham’s progression into a top club. Bilic had previously said “It is a clear situation from the start – he is on loan and the option is there. He is our player, he is happy, we are happy with him and we want him at the club for a long, long time.”

The fee is believed to be around the £8million mark – a fair price if he continues to produce the quality he has already shown.

Drawing comparisons with West Ham’s current attacking midfielders of Dimitri Payet, Michail Antonio, Victor Moses and Enner Valencia (I’ve included Valencia as he often is used out wide, albeit predominantly a striker), Manuel Lanzini has second highest Key Passes per 90 minutes, with a score of 1.28. Only Payet has higher than that with 3.51, Moses in third with 1.09.

Additionally, Lanzini has the highest Successful Passes rate with 42.45 per game (Payet in second with 36.88). Manuel has found no problem adapting to life in the fast lane (in this case the Premier League). Not bad for a youngster who previously plied his trade in Argentina and UAE leagues! Having amassed 5 goals in 18 appearances (Payet first with 8 in 23, Antonio second with 6 in 18) and with all the enthusiasm in the world, West Ham have a little gem in Manuel and making his deal permanent is a no brainer.

With a tasty FA Cup replay against Manchester United looming, a very realistic shot at a place to qualify for the Europa League (even possibly the Champions League) and transfer rumours aplenty, there is much reason for the claret and blue army to be in an abundance of optimism as Slaven looks to build on the foundations of his solid start to life at West Ham.