Tag Archives: Transfers

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. 

Club President Confirms Chelsea Have Made Offer For Striker, Names His Price

Although it is only November, the transfer rumours are already in full swing ahead of the January transfer market, and it seems as if Chelsea are already preparing well ahead of January and have an offer prepared for a certain Sampdoria forward.

Massimo Ferrero, the president of Sampdoria said on Muriel to Chelsea (as quoted in Fanta Gazzetta); “Yes, there is an offer, so tell me. But Muriel is not for sale, 35 million (euros) we can talk.”

So, from the president’s comments it seems the striker is available for the right price and Chelsea can get their man if they firm up their interest once the transfer window opens, but of course will have to spend the money Ferrero is demanding.

Chelsea have found top form since Antonio Conte changed the set up of the Chelsea squad, often playing a 4-2-3-1 formation prior the arrival of Conte, they are now playing a 3-4-3 formation which has seen the Blues play some immense football, with speed, aggression and flair in abundance.

With Diego Costa, Eden Hazard and Pedro finding excellent form in the new formation. It is difficult to see Muriel coming in and taking one of their positions, but he could certainly add something and we take a look at what he could bring to the club.

The 25-year-old Colombian International has been in fine form for Italian club Sampdoria this season and has gone on to create 1.29 chances per 90 minutes thus far this season which shows he is very efficient going forward. Diego Costa has been one of Europe’s best strikers in the early stages of the season and has created 1.49 chances per 90 this season which puts him just ahead of the Sampdoria man.

Costa, who has been majestic under Conte, has also made 1.21 key passes per 90 minutes this season, which again shows the influence he is making in Chelsea’s attacking flair, again this puts him ahead of Muriel, who managed just 1.18, which is still quite impressive.

The Chelsea man has been in immense form in front of goal, showing signs of his first season in England again this term, scoring 0.84 goals compared to Muriel who has managed just 0.43 per 90. On the topic of goals, Costa also has a much better shot accuracy than the Colombian with 68% and the latter managing 47%.

As the stats show, the Chelsea man is head and shoulders above the Sampdoria striker, which is not a bad thing as the Spanish International is a level above most strikers this season.

But there is a spot for Muriel at Chelsea if he was to sign for the in the winter, summer signing Michy Batshuyai has failed to make an impact at the club since his big money arrival so his position could come under severe pressure if they do pursue the man in their sights. Muriel is also capable of playing in a wide berth or behind the striker.

Of course, the plus side of playing a 3-4-3 would allow Costa, Hazard and target Muriel to all start together which would be very impressive. It is clear to see why Conte is interested in the man who has impressed thus far this season, and with the Blues pushing for the league title he could be the extra piece to push them on over the finish line.

3 Things Mourinho Needs To Do To Get Manchester United Back In The Title Race

When Jose Mourinho was announced the manager of Manchester United football club, the United faithful straight away started to talk about the big silverware and started to feel their club would rise back to the top again, that is the kind of affect the Portuguese manager can have on your team, with the CV he carries, it was hard not to disagree.

Then come the big summer arrivals, Eric Bailly, Paul Pogba, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and forgotten man Henrikh Mkhitaryan. That is when the United faithful really started believing, and when other clubs fans stated to worry.

With a man that has won everything at the helm, and the Bundesliga, Serie A and Ligue 1 players of the year arriving to the Theatre of Dreams in one summer you would have put your house on United at least competing to win the Premier League this season.

But, as can happen in football, things have not gone to plan for United, nor for their manager who is certainly starting to come under some strong criticism from pundits and fans alike. After spending more than £150 million in the summer the bar was raised, for Mourinho to take United out of the shadows which Louis Van Gaal left them in. No Champions League football for the club which once conquered Europe and no self belief within the players you could argue Mourinho had a job on his hands to put the club where they belong, but after spending masses of money there should be no excuses set.

Sitting sixth in the Premier League table, one win in their last five league games and just 16 goals scored in 11 matches thus far this season, we take a look at 3 things Mourinho must address to ensure his club start climbing the table, before it is too late.

1) Find a place for Mkhitaryan the starting XI

When Manchester United were linked with all the players they finally singed in the summer, there was one man that I thought, if they get him they will be unstoppable, and that man was Henrik Mkhitaryan. The Bundesliga player of the year, he is a great attacking midfielder who can play on either flank.

How he is not managing to make the 18 match day squad for the Red Devils is, well, quite baffling. A free-scoring midfielder who bagged himself 19 league goals last term, whilst assisting for fun is not breaking into a United squad that is lacking that touch in the final third.

All in all last season, the Armenian international scored 23 goals and assisted a further 26, which meant he contributed to a goal on 49 separate occasions for BVB, which is simply breathtaking.

With the likes of Ibrahimovic, Martial and Rashford all struggling for consistency in there play and goals drying up on that front, they have a man sitting in the stands that created a total of 136 chances last season, which again shows how majestic he was last season.

Although he did not shine out when he was given a chance, this is not an excuse for him not to make the squad and in fact, he should be the first name on the team sheet each week.

If Mourinho is to get his side scoring goals and becoming a feared team again, the man in charge must accommodate a place in his team for their fantastic summer arrival Mkhitaryan.

Why Arsenal Must Make January Bid To Sign This Manchester United Defender

Arsenal have been alerted to the potential availability of two Manchester United defenders according to a report in The Mirror

The two players in question are Chris Smalling and Luke Shaw. Both players had been linked with the Gunners before making their big money moves to United and it would be no surprise to me if it were true that the club were interested. The report suggests that Arsenal would be most interested in Smalling, but I would prefer to see us move for Shaw. The pair appear annoyed by Mourinho’s recent antics:

Jose Mourinho’s anger over Chris Smalling and Luke Shaw has alerted Arsenal and Liverpool.

The Manchester United boss publicly called out the duo for not playing through the pain barrier in the 3-1 win at Swansea, a week ago.

England defender Smalling – and Shaw’s camp – have been less than impressed by Mourinho identifying them in the media.

Arsenal have started the season pretty well, but there are still a few areas of the team that are concerning the fans. One of particular interest is at left back. Arsenal’s Mr.Consistent from the last 2 seasons, Nacho Monreal has been anything but that so far this campaign. Kieran Gibbs is pushing him for a first team spot but the Englishman’s defensive deficiencies are clear for all to see. So with Monreal (30) and Gibbs (now 27) seemingly not good enough to hold that left-back berth in the long term, would the possibly unsettled Shaw be a good investment?

Shaw cost United £30million in 2014 and since then he has spent a lot of time on the treatment table, it remains to be seen exactly how well he will recover from those setbacks.

But aged 21, standing at 6ft 1′ tall and with 6 England caps already to his name, the future certainly looks bright for Shaw. He is a very well-rounded full back with strong offensive and defensive attributes.

Arsenal have been tracking young left backs for some time with the likes of Ben Chilwell linked persistently.

As far as Smalling goes, following the signing of Mustafi we don’t need another first choice central defender, though as Koscielny and Mertesacker near the end of their careers, it might be worth considering. There is also concern over Gabriel Paulista’s ability, but signing a fairly young Smalling (26) would surely be damaging to the careers of young defensive duo Rob Holding and Calum Chambers.

Shaw has been dubbed the new Ashley Cole, and if he can get close to that kind of success then the Gunners would be very lucky to have him. Since Cole left Arsenal have not managed to find a strong replacement for the Englishman and in Shaw they could finally have the right man.

3 West Ham Players Bilic Needs To Get Rid Of In January

West Ham have endured a far from perfect start to the Premier League season. With the clubs ambitions far outweighing their current performance, Bilic needs to change something in January, and before he looks at making new signings he needs to get rid of the players that are not pulling their weight. Here’s three players he needs to bin.

1 – Gokhan Tore

He might only be on loan but the deal is very pointless. The Turkish winger just doesn’t look right at West Ham and cutting the loan deal short seems a sensible solution. It would allow for a more effective replacement to come in and stop the club wasting any more money or time on this deal. I think Bilic needs to replace Tore with a Premier League proven wide man – as Tore appears to not be well suited to the English game. It seems the West Ham hierarchy are not happy with his performances so far, however reports suggest that the club will have to pay a £2.5million fee to send Tore back to Besiktas early… ouch. West Ham do not want to become the QPR of the Premier League though and harvesting players that are not good enough can often be the start of a slippery slope.

Report: Chelsea Consider Making Shock Transfer Offer, Fans Aren’t Happy

Chelsea could be about to make a very strange and massive transfer offer, if the papers are to be believed. 

The report comes from The Sun, who lets face it, are not the most reliable source – so lets remember that before dissecting this story. The story suggests that Chelsea really want Leonardo Bonucci, and I can believe that. They also suggest that Juventus do not want to sell unless it is for a huge amount of money, also, understandable. They discuss the possibility of Cesc Fabregas being involved in any deal, that does make sense, with Conte clearly not a fan and the player offering obvious value to Juventus.

To me this doesn’t make sense and even after the season Eden has had, Chelsea would be able to sell him for in excess of £50million to a whole host of clubs. I can believe that Conte isn’t the biggest fan of Hazard, who prefers to roam rather than strict on the field discipline – however Conte isn’t stupid and offering Hazard plus cash for Bonucci makes zero financial sense. Hazard is younger and for me, has a higher value, despite the obvious brilliance of Bonucci.

It’s fair to say that these rumours have been met with a fair amount of scepticism and fear from Chelsea fans on Social Media. Here’s some of the best reaction. 

Amazingly the paper claims Juventus would rather Fabregas than Hazard. I find that incredibly hard to believe. Yes Cesc may be more needed right now, but turning down the chance to sign a prime Hazard and instead opting for a ‘past it’ playmaker would seem incredibly odd. It makes the story even less believable.

Any deal for Bonucci, if it were to happen, cannot happen until at least January, so Chelsea fans need not worry for the time being. However if you are a Chelsea fan and an admirer of Hazard, you need to hope that he finds his best form soon and adapts to the Conte way of thinking, otherwise he may be moved on. At the end of the day Chelsea have opted to go with Conte as their manager, so they must buy into his style of play or leave. If Hazard leaves, Conte would more than likely replace him with a big name player that can play in his position and more to Conte’s style.

Report: Arsenal Star Could Reject New Contract Because He Wants To Premier League Rival

According to a report in The Times on Monday night, Hector Bellerin could be set to reject a new 5-year contract offer extension at Arsenal as his preference is to join Pep Guardiola at Manchester City.

Barcelona have been the club most regularly linked with a move for the Spaniard, but if you believe the papers it may be Guardiola’s side that makes a successful move for him. Bellerin joined Arsenal as a teenager, opting to leave the Spanish club. It was a similar move to how Cesc Fabregas ended up at Arsenal, although Gunners fans will hope that with Hector, there is a different conclusion.

 

City though, are desperate for a full back of Bellerin’s calibre. On the right hand side of the defence they currently have the aging duo of Pablo Zabaleta and Bacary Sagna – it’s clear the improvement he would make to Manchester City’s team, especially because of the way that Pep places emphasis on his full backs in build-up play, Bellerin would thrive in such a role.

 

Bellerin was developed at Barcelona and Arsenal, so he has had a brilliant football education and because of that, good ball skills – a must for all Pep’s jigsaw pieces. Another huge asset of Hector’s is his blistering pace, often providing a safety barrier for Arsenal when other defenders are left behind. Most recently he demonstrated this with a quality last man tackle on Pedro in the clubs 3-0 win vs. Chelsea, but in his short time in the first team, Bellerin has already saved several points for his team because of his pace.

 

Personally I find it hard to believe that Bellerin – a player who has matured and excelled at Arsenal, would leave to join Manchester City. Yes Pep’s influence is massive, but the player loves London, he’s thriving at Arsenal and right now at least, there’s no real reason for him to leave. He has often made sly digs at the likes of Robin van Persie and Cesc Fabregas for joining English rivals and when publicly asked, he has always refuted suggestions that he may leave The Emirates any time soon.

 

Honeslty I expect Bellerin to sign a new 5-year contract with Arsenal this season. I think he sees his immediate future at Arsenal and although there may be a silent acknowledgement amongst the Arsenal fans that one day he may go back to Barca, everyone hopes that Arsenal will be the only English club he ever plays for. I also think that even if Hector would like to play for Barcelona, he doesn’t need to go and do it yet. A 5-year contract would put to bed the rumours for at least another 3 years, allowing him to keep improving. Arsenal no longer need to sell their star players and in Bellerin, aged just 21, they have a real asset, perhaps the most valuable at the club.

 

As an Arsenal fan I’m not going to pay much attention to this rumour, and after looking at the facts and quotes, it makes even less sense. I can’t see The Times being right this time.

The Best 4 Clubs In Transfer Market: Ft. Man City, Man Utd, Southampton and Leicester

We’ve been reviewing the best (and worst) teams to do business this summer. You can view 20th-17th, 16th-13th, 12th-9th, 8th-5th and your top four is below.

4 – Southampton

We kick off the top four with Southampton, who yet again faced an overhaul in the summer after losing manager Ronald Koeman and a couple of key players, the big loss being Sadio Mane to Liverpool (again). But under Claude Puel, Southampton have rebuilt smartly again.

The two brilliant additions for me are Sofiane Boufal and Pierre-Emile Højbjerg whom between them cost less than £30million. That is brilliant business considering they recouped £35million for Mane – the signing of Boufal replaced Mane and the addition of Hojbjerg strengthened the centre of their midfield. Although Southampton have struggled early on this season, I think with time Puel will get to know his squad and start producing good results on the pitch. At the moment a rotation player, I expect new signing Højbjerg to establish himself in the centre of midfield and play a key role for the team. Boufal, also with time, could really flourish and help turn the tide of bad results for the Saints.

3 – Leicester City

It was always going to be tought for Leicester City to keep hold of their best players after last season and ultimately, they are so high up in our list because of the fact that N’Golo Kante aside, they have managed to do just that. Although their start to the season has been poor, they have unquestionably done well to not only keep hold of Riyad Mahrez and Jamie Vardy, but also sign the likes of Islam Slimani, who has been scoring for fun in the Portuguese league for some time. It will take time for him and the likes of Mendy to adjust to life in the Premier League and even though they will not manage to achieve what they did last season, you would think that Leicester have done enough to ensure a stable season this time around whilst they explore the glamorous Champions League. They would surely be happy with qualifying from the Champions League group and finishing in the top half of the Premier League this time around.

2 – Manchester United

Three players from Manchester United featured in our top 10 signings of the summer. Paul Pogba, Eric Bailly and Zlatan Ibrahimović. Their fourth, Henrikh Mkhitaryan only narrowly missed out. United re-established themselves as a top force in Europe this summer with some head turning additions, predominantly that of Zlatan and the world record breaking transfer of Pogba. Although Zlatan and Bailly are the only two so far to have perhaps shown signs of justifying their signing, Pogba has enormous potential and that is undoubted. Perhaps the hype around his move to Manchester United was too much, in fact I’d say it definitely was. But Manchester United have the money and in Pogba they’ve (re)signed a player that can help take them to the next level. He is a unique and dynamic midfielder and he gives Mourinho options. Mkhitaryan, on the other hand may need more time than initially thought to adjust to the pace of the Premier League. Overall though, with no significant exits and so much quality coming in, including Mourinho, United fans must be delighted with the summer they’ve had.

1 – Manchester City

Pep Guardiola arrived with a lot of expectation at Manchester City and so far he has delivered on the pitch. Off the pitch he had a rather good start too, signing several top quality players. Although some may have expected more ready-made world class players, Pep has brought in several young players that could really do well in the future. The likes of Gabriel Jesus and John Stones immediately spring to mind, and in Nolito and Ilkay Gundogan, Pep brought in two more experienced players that were well suited to his system. With these young signings, Pep has ensured that even if he doesn’t stick around at City for a decade, he will have put the club in a great place for at least that amount of time. He has used his pull factor to lure some of the worlds best young talent in Stones, Gabriel and even Leroy Sane, who had suitors from across the globe. The reason City have pipped United to the top of the list is because they secured the most important signing of all, that of Pep Guardiola.

Evaluating Watford’s 11 Summer Signings: Success or Failure?

Watford had a very busy summer transfer window, lots of ins and lots of outs. In this article I’m going to round up all of Watford’s business and analyse each signing and then give my overall opinion on their transfer window.

Isaac Success

Success was signed from Granada for £12.5 million as a replacement for the aging Deeney and Ighalo. Success is definitely a player for the future, but as of right now I still think Troy and Odion rank above the Nigerian. Isaac still has enough quality to be an important player for the Hornets, as his pace will add something new to the Watford attack, and he will make a quality super sub to run at defenders for the last few minutes of a game and try and snatch a goal.

Roberto Pereyra

This has to be the Golden Boys’ best signing of the summer. He has everything that Watford were looking for in a central attacking midfielder: skill, pace and creativity. He will be absolutely crucial in making things tick for the Hornets, providing the spark that will turn nothing into something and pinging balls forward for Deeney and Ighalo to run on to. He’s the player all Watford fans have been crying out for, for some time now, and it is a massive relief to see one finally come in.

Daryl Janmaat

A signing I am personally a little unsure about. I reckon he could be a great player for us if he puts his mind to it, but he’ll need some time to adapt to the wing back role. He seems a great player going forward, but a bit shaky when defending, and that could sting the Hornets. In the wing back role it is crucial that you get back and help your defence against the speedy wingers, but I think that is something that Janmaat may struggle with.

Christian Kabasele

He looks to be a very solid defender and adds great depth to the Watford defence and looks as if he has the quality to start week in week out in the Premier League. However, whilst Kabasele looks to be fantastic, like Success, I feel like he has been signed more as a player for the future. I can’t see him dislodging regulars like Cathcart, Prodl, Britos or Kaboul for now, but in the future he will definitely be challenging. It gives Walter Mazzarri a fantastic headache when choosing his back three.

Stefano Okaka

I’m not going to lie, I really do not know much about Okaka. He seems like a weird signing considering the depth in the forward position at the moment, and from what I’ve heard, Deeney, Ighalo and Success will all be above him in the pecking order. He seems an interesting signing and I am looking forward to seeing what Walter can do with him.

Younes Kaboul

I have always been a big admirer of Kaboul. He is one of those no-nonsense defenders that every team needs. He has leadership skills like no other defender I’ve seen and will marshal the back 3 fantastically. He is a very similar player to Prodl so I can see those two competing for places with Cathcart and Britos around either one.

Adrian Mariappa

A very unexpected signing. He is a massive fan favourite at the club from his last spell here, and whilst he may not be the best player anymore, I for one am very happy to see him back. I don’t think he will get in the starting XI, but he has been signed for squad depth instead as he is homegrown and won’t add to the massive list of foreign players at Watford already. Anyways, very happy to see him back home. Return of the Mapps.

Brice Dja Djedje

He hasn’t been included in the squad which is odd, it seems as if he has a problem with fitness and injuries which is a bit concerning. It wouldn’t surprise me to see him go out on loan somewhere and get some game time so he can improve his fitness. If he comes back, then I would be intrigued to see where he fits in. We already have lots of wingbacks, so would he replace one of them? Or is he there to add depth? We’ll have to wait and see.

Juan Camilo Zuniga

From what I’ve already seen of him, he looks to be a decent player. He’s got pace, skill and can whip in a mean cross, but I think I prefer Holebas and Janmaat to him. If one of them gets injured then we have a more than capable back up, but he won’t just waltz into the starting XI in my opinion.

Jerome Sinclair

He looks to be a very, very exciting prospect and looks as if he may even get some game time this season, with Mazzarri liking to play the youth sometimes. He is certainly one for the future and could turn into a very important player for the Golden Boys. I cannot wait to see him play, and to hopefully watch him turn into a magical player.

Kenedy

And finally, Kenedy. Another exciting young prospect from Chelsea to the Hornets. I don’t think he has a set position anymore, with Mourinho playing him all over the park last season, so it’ll be interesting to see where he fits into the team. Like Sinclair, I am looking forward to seeing him play, and to see just how much of an exciting prospect he really is.

All in all, I think Watford had a great transfer window. They’ve made some great signings and really added to the depth of the squad, meaning should a player get injured then they will always have someone quality to fill the void. Agree? Disagree? Let me know on Twitter with the @ below!

By Tom Cobbing (@tomcobbing)

 

4 Transfers Arsenal Still Need To Complete This Month To Win The Title

Arsenal may have started the window in the right fashion with the addition of Granit Xhaka, but since then, it has all gone a little downhill for the Gunners.

The season has started (badly) and Arsenal still lack efficiency at both ends of the field. As well as incomings, there are still issues to sort in terms of shredding the squad down. To make new signings, the Gunners may have to shift a few players. Here are four transfers I think they need to complete to try and win the title this season.

1 – Shkodran Mustafi

Surely Arsenal should just get this one done? Valencia need the money, they’ve publicly admitted that, but Arsenal are baulking at the asking price. Depending on what report you believe, the Spaniard’s are asking for between £25million-£35million for Mustafi, a 24-year-old defender that has won the World Cup and is widely considered as a very good defender in Spain, despite Valencia’s struggles last season. The Mirror suggest that Arsenal are attempting to sign him for around £20million – you think, at this stage, Arsenal should just bite the bullet. He is known to be good friends with the German’s currently playing for Arsenal (Per and Mesut) and so you’d hope / expect him to settle in nicely with the squad. If Wenger is not willing to budge with his valuation for Mustafi, what’s the likelihood that another club come and pay what Valencia are asking? I’d say it is highly likely. Just get it done, Arsene.

Reliable Source Says Arsenal Have Made Approach To Sign Southampton Defender

Arsenal have widened their search for a central defender and have approached Southampton for their Portuguese international Jose Fonte.

Fonte is keen to join the Gunners arch rivals Manchester United but has received an approach from the North London club, according to ESPN.

Jose Mourinho is said to be in the market for an experienced leader with Fonte certainly fitting that criteria, the Red Devils have opened informal talks for the Saints player who is expected to play for the club at Old Trafford as the teams meet on Friday evening.

The 32-year-old Euro 2016 winner is thought to be open to an idea of moving to a ‘bigger club’ after a very successful summer but Southampton will be reluctant to sell their captain after another squad exodus this summer.

United have already forked out for Eric Bailly who has impressed tremendously in his first couple of games for the club, but the United manager is eager to add the experience at the back which Fonte portrays.

Arsenal is in a defensive crisis with Per Mertesacker and Gabriel Paulista set for a lengthy spell on the side line. The Gunners are chasing Shkodran Mustafi who remains the clubs first choice defender but are dithering on the price set by Valencia, the Spanish side are demanding in excess of £30 million for their star defender with the Gunners rating Mustafi around the £20 million mark, personal terms have been agreed between the player and the club but a massive sticking point is agreeing the fee.

The Gunners are certainly looking for alternatives with Fonte emerging as a potential target, he has two years remaining on his current contract with the Saints and the club would command a fee of around £10 million, which would make him a much cheaper option to Mustafi who is already Premier League proven.

Bad news for Arsenal is he is keen to link up with Portuguese compatriot Mourinho at Old Trafford, but good news for the Gunners faithful they’re in the market and working hard to bring players in before the transfer market closes.

Stay tuned to @FreshFootball as we’ll bring you the latest news on this story.

3 Transfers Arsenal Could Be Set To Complete Within 7 Days!

With the transfer market in fall flow, we take a look at three potential deals that could complete within 7 days.

1 – Riyad Mahrez

Reports broke on Wednesday afternoon that Arsenal have made an offer for Leicester City’s Algerian international Riyad Mahrez.

According to French journalist Gilles Favard, a well-respected reporter from French based newspaper L’Equipe; the Gunners have launched an audacious £30 million bid for the PFA Player of the Year.

Favard took to twitter to post the information he seems to believe regarding Arsenal’s pursuit of Mahrez.

Referring to himself as “Le Spectre” Favard tweeted Arsenal had made a bid of £30 million bid for the Leicester star, which has been rebuffed as an update later that afternoon suggested the North London club would up their initial offer.

Later on that afternoon, after only just revealing the £30 million offer, Favard made a claim that Arsenal has upped their offer to £35 million, with Wenger making him this summer’s priority.

Although this was taken with a pinch of salt, Favard had his claims backed up by the ever reliable Mohamed Bouhafsi of RMC Sport.

In a series of tweets, he said; “Leicester hopes to keep Mahrez. AFC made an offer, negos ongoing. It’s the game of the mercato. But there is only 1 winner at the end!

“More than the interest of Arsenal, Mahrez especially hopes to join a great club. If a big club is interested (AFC/CFC) it must act quickly”

“Negotiations are ongoing between Arsenal and Leicester. Arsenal made an offer for him. Mahrez very interested by Arsenal”

This deal certainly seems to be materialising although the English press is adamant Arsenal are not in for the Leicester playmaker.

Arsenal had failed in their pursuit of Mahrez’s teammate Jamie Vardy with the Foxes star signing a new four-year deal with the Champions; could Mahrez resist the Emirates stadium like his fellow team mate?

This deal is moving fast, stay close to @FreshFootball for updates surrounding his future.

Arsenal vs. Liverpool: The 3 Battles That Will Decide Who Wins

When Arsenal host Liverpool on Sunday it will perhaps be the biggest game of the Premier League’s debut weekend. An Arsenal side that continues to have the same flaws and restless fans meet a rejuvenated Liverpool side that has been refurbished under Jurgen Klopp this summer. We take a look at three key battles that will decide the outcome of this one.

1 – Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain vs. Alberto Moreno

Despite all the hard work that Klopp has done over the summer, he still hasn’t recruited a new left back and that will be a cause for concern for Liverpool fans. Moreno really struggled last season for the most part and he is likely to come up against an Oxlade-Chamberlain that has really impressed in pre season for the Gunners. But as Arsenal fans will know only too well, ‘The Ox’ has a terrible productivity rate in the Premier League and he needs to start showing some of that pre season form when it matters. If he starts on the right against Moreno on Sunday it could be the perfect opportunity for him to lay down a marker, just as a good performance from the Spaniard could settle the Liverpool critics down.. for a few days maybe. The deciding factor will be whether Oxlade-Chamberlain can perfect his ambitious attacking play, he is unlikely to get as many openings as he managed in pre season games. The unpredictability of ‘The Ox’ leaves this battle wide open, but it could be a deciding factor in the outcome of the game.

4 More Transfers Manchester United Should Try To Complete This Month To Win The Title

Manchester United have a good manager and a strong squad, but it is important that Jose makes the final adjustments in the last few weeks of the window to make his team title favourites. Here’s my four suggestions. 

1) Paul Pogba

This rumour has been done to death but it does look like Pogba will be signing for United soon. What will he add? Well it’s pretty obvious that he will add that ‘superstar’ quality to United’s midfield that they haven’t had for some time now. Pogba is a top class international midfielder that will add goals, bite, power and flair to the heart of United’s midfield. Aged just 23, Pogba has the time to become one of the best midfielders in Europe and his price tag reflects that. A deal still isn’t complete but appears to just be a matter of time. Mourinho will be keen to get the deal signed off before the season kicks off so that Pogba can start making his impact and winning the team points as soon as possible. It’ll be intriguing to see who Jose selects alongside Pogba in midfield as it will take the right players around him to bring out the best in the Frenchman. Last season Pogba created 1.61 chances per 90 which led to him grabbing 0.36 assists per 90 minutes which is very impressive for a central midfielder. Pogba also had a handful of goals managing 0.24 per 90 minutes. The maestro also contributed well defensively with 1.64 tackles per 90 and proved to be a force in the air winning 64.95% of his aerial duels.

Exclusive: Fresh Football Talk La Liga Transfers With Ed Malyon

Our writer Chris Baker had an exclusive chat with Daily Mirror’s La Liga specialist Ed Malyon, as they speak about the summer 2016 transfer activity thus far and La Liga next season.

The return of Alvaro Morata has sparked many, many rumours about his long-term future, are Madrid looking to keep Morata or are they keen to sell to make a major profit?

I think inevitably Real Madrid are happy to keep a player of that ability as their ‘fourth forward’ behind the BBC. They are also happy to sell him if he wants first-team football as they’ll make a tidy profit.

The fee, for me, is ludicrous and I wouldn’t pay it but it feels like Madrid are waiting for clubs to get desperate at the end of the window.

Remember also that it isn’t in their interest particularly to sell to Chelsea as they know it may facilitate diego Costa’s return to Atletico, thus strengthening a rival.

Jese and James Rodríguez have both been frustrated by their playing time with Madrid over the last year or so, do they have a future with the club or are they likely to seek a move away this summer?

Jese is certain to leave this summer although it is more likely to be a loan than a permanent deal (which would come with a buyback clause anyway).

James Rodriguez obviously would cost a lot more and there doesn’t appear to be an obvious suitor for him. He has a huge contract in Madrid and wants to play for a team challenging for trophies. Should nobody come up with the cash he may have to stay at the Bernabeu.

Should that come to pass there will no doubt be a huge stage managing of the situation but the fact is Zidane would happily sell him this summer if someone came up with the cash.

Neymar recently signed a bumper new contract with Barcelona and was amid to sign an extension and not move away, with the interest from PSG, was he ever close to leaving?

No. There was 0% chance of him leaving.

You are well known to watch Spanish football, which young players breaking through would you advise big European clubs to cast their eye on this summer?

There are plenty. If I was a Premier League club I’d just buy five £8m players from La Liga knowing that you’re going to likely be able to sell at least two of them on for more.

Lots of the players I’ve recommended to clubs have already moved this summer but I like Marco Asensio a lot, Joao Cancelo, Jose Luis Gaya, Radoja up at Celta, Rubén Pardo, Jorge Mere….

Loads.

Barcelona will be looking for a fourth forward this summer as they need more rotation going into the new season, Lucas Vietto and Ángel Correa have been noted as possible targets, who else is on their radar?

This seems to be panning out well for Lucas Perez of Deportivo La Coruña. Vietto will sign for Sevilla, I’m told, while Correa is too good for Atletico to sell.

Gameiro will be too expensive, setting up Lucas nicely.

Manchester United have stepped up interest in Paul Pogba and have reportedly seen their first offer turned down by Juventus, are Madrid still in the hunt for him, or have they been priced out?

They are broadly interested but they’re not needing to make the sort of splash that United are and Zidane wants to keep his starting XI that won the Champions League.

That means no new starters and certainly not ones that cost that much money.

Atletico are looking for a new striker this summer to partner Antoine Griezmann. First choice is, of course Diego Costa but what is the likelihood of his leaving Chelsea under new boss Antonio Conte?

Chelsea insist that Costa is absolutely not for sale and Atletico, albeit desperate to sign him, are finally close to giving up.

It still feels like it could happen but Chelsea struggling to sign other forwards makes it even less likely.

Arda Turan has endured a torrid spell in Barcelona with regards to playing time, is a move to China on the cards this summer or does he want to prove himself?

He wants to prove himself but Barcelona are preparing for life without him. His attitude stinks.

Barcelona are in the market for young talent this summer and this is proven with their recent signings, could they look to Arsenal’s Hector Bellerin to replace Dani Alves?

They can look all they like, they can’t afford him!

Sevilla lost their midfield rock this summer after Grzegorz Krychowiak signed for PSG, are they looking to replace him with a high-market midfielder?

They have bought a whole load of exciting attacking midfielders this summer already and are still pursuing Dani Parejo of Valencia.

I haven’t seen them linked with anyone as solid defensively as Krychowiak which is a concern but with Jorge Sampaoli in charge now the focus was always going to be on attack.

Sevilla will be fun to watch.

The usual top three in Spain will run away with La Liga as expected next season, but can you see any surprise teams making a name for themselves?

Sevilla could do if they really click under Sampaoli but the reality of La Liga is that nobody will.

Malaga and Betis have made some interesting signings this month while Espanyol have been taken over. Any of the three could break the top seven.

Asano Joins! 4 More Strikers Arsenal Should Try To Sign This Summer

Following the Brexit vote in England, clubs await the consequences of what this means to their future, transfer policy and overall budget in Europe. With a decision to be concluded in 2018, English clubs may possibly look to strengthen their squads this summer before any transfer policies change. One club looking to splash the cash this summer is Arsenal, as their hunt for a new striker continues into its 4th summer. Since Robin Van Persie left the clubs for rivals Manchester United, Arsenal have yet to create a prolific striker that can carry them to Premier League success. But who can Arsenal look to this summer, and who is available? Here are 4 players that may make the cut at Arsenal.

1) Paulo Dybala

Since arriving from Palermo, the Argentine scored 19 goals in his first season at Juventus, and looks to be one of the rising stars from South America. At only 22, the striker has touted the interest of many English clubs including Arsenal. Preferring to stay in Italy, Paulo moved to Italian champions Juventus for €32million in 2015. Considering his already impressive scoring record, it wouldn’t be past Wenger to invest in a young striker. But prising Dybala away from Juventus would be particularly hard considering they also just lost Morata. On top of his goals, Dybala made 9 league assists and completed 85% of his passes. It goes without saying that he’d be a perfect fit in an Arsenal line-up that demands a creative influence from the forwards.

Reports: Crystal Palace Set To Complete Four Quality Signings As Pardew Eyes Europe

Crystal Palace have already made two summer signings thus far, and Aland Pardew is not done yet. The Palace manager is looking ahead to a big summer as he tried to make his squad a real force going into next season, we take a look at two done deals and two bids made.

1) Cristian Benteke

According to several reliable sources, Crystal Palace has made a formal bid for Liverpool striker Christian Benteke.

After a busy start to the transfer window, Palace now look set to sign a striker and have tabled a £25 million bid for the Belgian forward.

The 25-year-old striker, who was in France representing Belgium in the Euro 2016 has fallen out of favor with Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp and has been far down in the pecking order since his arrival last October.

The forward only joined Liverpool last July signing for a hefty £32.5 million, but the forward has not lived up to his billing and has scored just 10 league goals in that time.

Palace first surfaced their interest in Benteke in January, and has since returned with a bid of around £25 million having lost out on the pursuit of his compatriot Michy Batshuayi, who has joined Chelsea from Marseille for £33.2 million.

Liverpool value Benteke at £30 million and will want to recoup the massive fee they paid last summer, Palace has returned with a bid £5 million under there valuation with the opening bid expected to be rejected. Talks will continue between the clubs as they look to compromise a fee with Palace said to be very confident, Benteke has also attracted interest from West Ham but Palace looks the more likely destination after taking a step forward in their pursuit for the player.

Benteke has not hit the heights Liverpool were hoping for considering the price they paid he did little to repay the faith but it is not surprising Crystal Palace are looking at the striker. In a bad season for Benteke, he still managed 0.53 goals per 90 minutes. Benteke has also impressed with the amount of chances he has created with a very positive score 1.77. This will appease the interested boss Alan Pardew. Benteke hasn’t done badly in his total attack score with 26.84 which is actually better than average.

On the plus side for Palace fans, personal terms will should prove to be an issue in the deal, with the striker eager to make the move to revive his career.

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.

Bid Made: Tottenham Table Bid For PSG Forward, Deal Looks Likely

Tottenham are confident of sealing a move for a Paris-Saint Germain attacker in the coming weeks after making an official offer for the player according to reports in France.

Spurs are looking to make attacking signings to ease the goalscoring burden off of striker Harry Kane and as well as targeting Vincent Janssen, there are also looking to sign young PSG forward Wilfried Kanga according to news from France Football.

Kanga is just 18 and is yet to sign professional terms with PSG but despite his young age and lack of first team exposure, the reports from France suggest that should he join Tottenham, Mauricio Pochettino intends to use the forward in his first-team plans immediately.

We don’t know much about Kanga and it hard to find out an awful lot about him online. It seems his main position is right wing, but he is also capable of playing up front. If, as reports say, Kanga is set to go straight into the Tottenham first team then you can expect him to take Son Heung-min’s place in the squad with the 23-year-old expected to leave the club this summer.

Interestingly Spurs have been linked with Kanga for some time now, over two years, and with no first team breakthrough in Paris looking likely, he may be tempted by the offer Tottenham have made. Transfermarkt list Kanga as 1.85m tall (6ft 1′), fairly tall for young winger come striker. The site also shows that he represented PSG 6 times in the UEFA Youth League last season, scoring one goal in the process. Pictures show that as well as being fairly tall, Kanga is well built for a man of his age and looks to be a powerful presence on the pitch, particularly against men of a similar age. It is this physicality that may have attracted Pochettino to Kanga and it may be a reason why the Argentinean manager feels he can come straight in and play Premier League football next season.

Tottenham have also been linked with the likes of Michy Batshuayi this summer, but moves for Kanga and Janssen now appear to be the priority. Janssen was a prolific goalscorer in the Eredivisie but he remains unproven in a top league. If Spurs were to sign both Janssen and Kanga as their attacking reinforcements it would be somewhat of a risk as there are no guarantees that either player will adjust quick enough to deliver next season.

You can follow more Tottenham news on freshspurs.com.

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.

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.

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, 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.

 

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.

Done Deals Already? Three Signings Jurgen Klopp Is Close To Securing For Liverpool

Jurgen Klopp cannot wait to get his hands dirty in the transfer market and make his mark well and truly on this mediocre Liverpool squad. Here are three players the media suggest Klopp is very close to signing..

1) Mario Gotze

Perhaps this signing would truly illustrate the pulling power of Klopp. Before the German arrived, it would have seem far too unrealistic to expect a player of Gotze’s ability to join the club, but with Klopp’s connection, a reunion now looks probable. Gotze cannot play regularly in Munich and has just one year remaining on his current contract. With no plans to extend it, Liverpool appear to be in the driving seat to complete a cut-price deal for the German international. Gotze has struggled to develop in Munich due to injuries and a lack of first team oppurtunities. If Klopp can help him recapture form from the 2013/14 campign and before, then Liverpool have a world-class talent on their hands. Gotze averaged over 8 take ons per game that season, making 2.56 key passes and scoring 0.85 goals per 90 minutes. There’s no doubt that Gotze thrived in an environment where he was one of the leading players (at Dortmund) and if he were to join Liverpool, he would find himself in a similar situation.

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).

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