Lucas Moura Sums Up All That’s Good At Pochettino’s Spurs!

The picture above is of Lucas Moura and Neymar. Both Brazilian’s were much heralded in their homeland as future superstars when they first broke onto the scene.

While Neymar instantly lived up to the hype, Moura had to be more patient.

The two international forwards also represent what’s wrong at PSG and what’s right at Premier League side Tottenham Hotspur.

Before moving to London, it was with the Ligue 1 giants that Lucas first cut his teeth in European football.

He joined just as the Qatari’s started to splash the cash and show their financial muscle in the transfer market. It was a smart signing as the player was a highly regarded young South American talent.

Unfortunately for Moura the Les Parisiens kept on bringing in superstar signings like Zlatan Ibrahimovic, David Beckham, Ezequiel Lavezzi, Edinson Cavani and eventually Neymar himself!

Lucas Moura would often get lost in the mix and couldn’t instantly show off his talents. Thus his development was often stifled.

PSG often look for the quick fix to try and get them the glory that they really crave… The Champions League title!

Skip forward to January 2018. Tottenham sign Moura for a fee of around £25m and to date that’s still their last time they dipped into the transfer market.

At Spurs, Moura hit the ground running and looked a terrific buy.

Yes he’s had a few dips in form but the attacker has always come back and given more to his team’s cause. That’s mainly down to the patience shown in him from Spurs boss Mauricio Pochettino.

If Lucas needed a rest, Poch would drop him but the player was never frozen out. He worked hard and would get another chance. There’s no moaning or huffs from the Brazilian, he knows that the team comes first.

This term has seen Moura come inside and play more through the middle alongside or in and around main striker Harry Kane.

Lucas has a willingness to run-in behind the defence, the ability to shift out to the wing and the skill to beat markers.

He also gives The Lilywhites a new scoring source. He has made thirty-one Premier League appearances this term and has scored ten times, including a hat-trick against Manchester United.

In total, Moura has scored sixteen times in fifty-eight games this season. He’s getting more game time and he’s flourishing.

Last night Tottenham were down and out in the Champions League. They were three goals down in the tie against Ajax, were in Amsterdam and had just forty-five minutes left to save themselves from their endgame.

Main goal getter Kane was on the sidelines, with injury meaning he couldn’t suit up!

Tottenham Hotspur needed a hero to snap into action and it was Lucas Moura who stepped up!

The forward bravely won the ball in a challenge at the highway line on the fifty-fourth minute and played it forward to Dele Alli. The England international cut the ball back inside and Moura’s pace seen him reach the ball first as he approached the Ajax penalty area. He casually continued his run before steering his shot home like an arrow!

Could Spurs get back into this thing? 

Well four minutes later and it was 2-2 on the night. The ball pops out inside the box and Lucas Moura is onto it like a flash! He then runs the gauntlet of controlling the ball and dodging various challenges before he hammers it home!

Could they get one more? 

In the dying moments the Tottenham defence hoof the ball forward, it gets to Alli who quickly lays it into Lucas’ path. The attacker turns his shot into the net and like any good Marvel film we had found our superhero!

Pochettino stated all his players were heroes and in particular Moura (Source Daily Mail):

‘In the last year I am telling everyone that I have a group that are heroes and they showed big balls today. To take this club to the final of the Champions League is very close to a miracle.’

‘Superhero Moura! It was an unbelievable hat-trick. He deserves it, he’s a great guy.’

It seems very ironic that a patient club like Tottenham Hotspur (who are pretty prudent in the transfer market, trust their manager and aren’t all about star players) would get to a Champions League final before the high spending glitzy PSG.

It’s even more fitting that it would be the disregarded Lucas Moura that would produce the knock-out punch and have the game of his life to get Spurs to their first final at this elite level.

It might not always happen but it’s nice to see a manager stick by a team and a player like Moura and get such a rich reward!

Pep States Premier League Is The Toughest To Win

Manchester City boss, Pep Guardiola admitted that the Premier League is the toughest league to compete in due to the quality of the teams that compete in it.

In an interview, the Manchester City coach stated he believes the Premier League is the toughest league he ever competed in.

A statement like that coming from one of the best coaches made on the front pages of Premier League news with the league supporters happily agreeing their favourite league surely is the hardest to win even for the best.

A coach like Guardiola who has numerous titles in Spain, Germany and of course England in addition to countless individual awards surely knows what he is talking about when he marks one league the hardest to compete in and ultimately win.

Coming from Pep, who is eyeing a back-to-back title in England’s top flight, he has got the chance to know the league inside and out in his years with the Sky Blues. Prior to Man City’s match against Leicester City, Guardiola was stopped for a quick interview.

When asked if he is satisfied with the point tally Manchester City managed to accumulate this season, he stated (Source – FourFourTwo):

“Yeah, it’s the toughest league I’ve ever played as a manager, for the quality of the rivals – no doubts. That’s why being at the top is incredible. But of course only one will take the prize and the other one will be at home sad.”

Reflecting on the title race Manchester City and Liverpool have been going through for the past few months, Guardiola said City’s current position is a great achievement.

He also added:

“We have to win to give more credit to it, of course. I would not say that 100 points we had last season was bad and that we are not satisfied. But at the same time, we were seven points behind this season.

Talking about the strength of the league and at the same time having two teams way ahead of the herd seems to contradict itself, however, we must take into consideration Man City and Liverpool have been phenomenal this season, while other top four contenders had their own problems.

The internal issues in Chelsea and Manchester United, streaks of bad form for Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal and as mentioned the exceptional form of Liverpool and Manchester City all contributed to the Premier League table we are looking at now.

Does that mean Premier League is not as strong? Far from it.

England’s elite league is known to be filled with upsets when we see teams who sit at the bottom part of the league putting up a good fight against even the top six teams. This simply cannot be compared to Germany or Spain, where there are two to three teams capable of winning the title, while others are in more or less only for the show.

Additionally, it would be hard to deny England has strong teams, especially if we look at the European tournaments.

In the Champions League, we’ve got Liverpool in the final and Tottenham in the semi-finals, and in the Europa League, we have Arsenal and Chelsea still more than capable of going all the way in that competition.

While I could go on and list all the reasons why the Premier League just might really be the strongest league in the world, I believe it’s enough if those words come out of the mouth of Pep Guardiola, who is widely considered one of the best coaches in the world, who won at least one league title with each of the three clubs he coached in addition to success on European level.

Solskjaer Doesn’t Owe His Manchester United Players Anything

After the weekend’s draw with relegated Huddersfield Town, it became mathematically impossible for Manchester United to finish in the Premier League’s top four positions.

Thus meaning that The Red Devils will not be be representing England in next season’s Champions League.

The glum draw with The Terriers was probably the final straw for Man United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. The Norwegian came in in December and he saw the best from his squad as they brought themselves back into the race for the Champions League places.

But in the last eleven games, pretty much since Ole’s role was made a permanent one, United have become the abysmal side that got former boss Jose Mourinho the sack. In those eleven outings, Man United have picked up just two wins and have lost seven times!

They’ve been dumped out of the Champions League and now look set to finish in sixth spot.

Solskjaer has seen the worst of his side and he must be fuming that they’ve basically thrown in the towel. At some points they look disinterested, they look unfit and they lack a creative spark or a willingness to fight for victories.

Ole knows that’s not the Man Utd way and he now knows that the majority of his players are to blame for the current slump which has infested the club since the start of this term.

Attitudes need to be looked at and certain players need to be shipped out.

Dramas surrounding key players like Paul Pogba and David de Gea need to be sorted out, once and for all. If they aren’t willing to commit to the cause then they need to be sold.

Deadwood needs to be cleared out of Old Trafford as does anyone that the manager believes isn’t pulling his weight.

The Red Devils boss stated to The BBC that he’s ready to axe the players that don’t cut the mustard at United:

“It’s going to be survival of the fittest or survival of the best. That’s how ruthless we have to be.”

Those that do leave Old Trafford this summer or who get bombed out of the first team picture next season only have themselves to blame.

They showed in the Norwegian’s opening months at United that they could be top quality Premier League stars but they then quickly showed that a lot of them don’t have the appetite to produce the goods throughout a full campaign.

Man United need footballers that will give their all and who are hungry to win all the top titles. At the moment they don’t have the required squad to get the job done.

That means Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has a tough summer in front of him. He needs to rebuild his side and get rid of those high earners that aren’t pulling their weight. He also needs to identify key new recruits that can come in and push Manchester United forward again.

Ironically the task is now a lot harder given the failures have wasted their opportunity this season to save their United careers and get the club into next season’s Champions League!

Has Mo Salah Actually Had A Better Season This Season For Liverpool?

Ok so a quick look at his scoring stats will tell you that Mohamed Salah hasn’t had quite as good a season this term as he had in his maiden campaign as a Liverpool player.

But I think if you look deeper into the Egyptian’s second season you’ll still be very impressed by Salah’s contribution this term.

The second year is often a much tougher one for a footballer at a club, especially after such a dominant first season.

More questions start to surround your game.

Can he do it again? Can he be even better? Have defenders worked him out? 

When we discuss Salah’s time at Liverpool, we should always remember that the forward had not scored twenty in a season before he joined the Premier League giants.

Now people have suggested that he hasn’t been as good this year as he was in his debut campaign but to be fair he’s still the league’s top scorer with twenty-two goals. Only Lionel Messi, Kylian Mbappe and Fabio Quagliarella have scored more league goals in the top five European leagues.

Liverpool teammate Sadio Mane has had a fairly consistent scoring season, Sergio Aguero has been in scintillating form for rivals Manchester City and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has been banging them in for Arsenal, yet Salah still has a two goal lead over them (three over Aubameyang).

The attacker has also made ten assists in all competitions. Which again is slightly down on last year but it still shows consistency and that’s what every great game changer needs.

Liverpool are heading into next weekend and are one game from winning their first Premier League title.

Salah has had a slight dip in form during the middle part of the campaign but he has come alive during the run in and that’s what title challengers need from their top players. Just look at Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi, they’re teams are always at their best when those two peak at the end of a season.

In his last five league outings, Mo Salah has contributed with five goals and an assist. That included an absolute stunner in their vital winner over his former side Chelsea.

I know The Reds lost 3-0 to Barcelona in their first leg of the semi-final tie in the Champions League but every time Salah got on the ball he possessed the pace and trickery that created fear throughout Barca’s backline. He looked like a standout player and only Messi looked better that night!

Earlier this year, Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp stated just how good and important Salah was for his side (Via Sky Sports):

“He’s a world-class player,”

“It worked really well bringing him from Roma, it was absolutely a win-win situation. He benefits a lot from the way the team is playing and his scoring desire and being in the right positions is a really rare skill, which is why everyone is looking for players like this. It’s just fantastic.”

That explains why the German coach didn’t panic when Mo’s goals dried up in the winter months.

While Mohamed Salah hasn’t had the same scoring season this year at Anfield, I actually think he’s shown real class and mental strength this term.

The Egyptian international has still turned up in the big games, he’s still scored vital goals and he’s once again leading the Premier League scoring charts.

He has once again shown us that he can be relied upon to get twenty plus a season and that he can get over a slump at the right times to.

The Players Unai Emery Should Cut Loose At Arsenal This Summer

 

Personally I think Unai Emery has worked wonders at Arsenal in his debut season.

It’s never easy replacing a legend, and former gaffer Arsene Wenger earned that tag after winning various trophies during his twenty-two year spell at the club.

Unfortunately for Wenger, and The Gunners, by the time of his departure things had become stale at the Emirates. The squad struggled to compete for major honours and had fallen out of the Premier League’s all important top four positions.

Emery has since come in and lifted the mood. He’s strengthened the team’s spine, has them playing with more discipline, scoring goals and even turning up in the big games against fellow top six sides!

As the Spaniard’s maiden season nears its conclusion, Arsenal are sitting in fifth position in the league with just a point keeping them out of those vital top four spots. He’s has also used his vast expertise to help guide The Gunners into the semi final of the Europa League. That competition, in which Unai has won three times previously at Sevilla, also allows the winners qualification into next season’s Champions League.

I honestly think that if Arsenal manage to get into UEFA’s most prestigious club competition next season, then Emery has overachieved in his first year.

It should also see the North London club’s hierarchy back their manager in the transfer market. As well as giving him the funds to compete for top talent and improve the squad, they also have to listen to Emery and dump those currently at the Emirates that aren’t pulling their weight.

We already know that both Aaron Ramsey (joining Juventus on a Bosman) and Petr Cech (retiring) won’t be there next season. Adding onto that if it were me, I’d axe another eight faces. That doesn’t include Denis Suarez, who I wouldn’t sign permanently from FC Barcelona.

The biggest name on the list for me would be Mesut Ozil.

Now on his day the German World Cup winner can be sensational but unfortunately he doesn’t seem to shine when his side really need him. In the really big encounters Ozil goes missing. Question marks have also surrounded the creative midfielder when it comes to his attitude. Emery has dropped Mesut on a few occasions this term, showing us that he doesn’t fully trust the former Real Madrid man.

If Arsenal can get someone to take on the player’s hefty wage, then they should allow him to leave without any fuss.

I’d also sell fellow German Shkodran Mustafi.

The centre-back isn’t reliable enough at the very top level and once again proved that in the weekend loss to Crystal Palace. His strange mistakes at odd times put the whole defence on edge.

Mustafi is a player that flatters to deceive and doesn’t seem to have the heart needed to produce the goods needed at a club that wants to challenge for major honours.

Nacho Monreal has been a terrific servant but I think the time is right to offload the veteran.

The thirty-three year old’s contract expires in the summer (Source – Transfermarkt.com) and it will probably be the best all round that he gets a new contract elsewhere and Arsenal replace him with a younger model that’s hungry to prove himself at The Gunners!

Injury has curtailed Danny Welbeck’s Arsenal career and he might be best off by trying to resurrect it at another club.

Welbeck is another star who has his contract expiring in the summer. The England international injured his ankle back in November and it’s doubtful he’ll be back before the end of this campaign, Unfortunately he can’t be relied upon. Even before this latest setback, the forward was a back-up behind fellow frontmen Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.

Speaking to Talksport about possibly renewing Danny’s deal, Emery said this:

“Every [English] team needs English players,”

I believe it would be better promoting within, rather than keeping Welbeck on standby as the player needs to be playing and the club could reinvest his wage. Reiss Nelson has impressed during his loan spell at Hoffenheim in the Bundesliga and could takeover from Welbeck.

Armenian playmaker Henrikh Mkhitaryan is another highly-paid creator that doesn’t create enough in an Arsenal jersey.

The former Borussia Dortmund player has struggled to find any consistency at The Emirates and hasn’t shone in the vital clashes as was expected of him. He should be in double figures for goals or assists in the Premier League this term and isn’t.

He isn’t delivering and at £180k a week it’s better for Emery to get rid of Mkhitaryan and find someone better suited to the team’s style.

Unfortunately for Carl Jenkinson desire to succeed, durability and love for the club isn’t always enough.

The right-back did well when he first broke into the first team but that was back in 2011-12. He hasn’t managed to become a regular and it simply isn’t going to happen now.

It’s time for the player to find a new home and get more game time.

Mohamed Elneny is another player that needs to leave the club for the sake of his career.

The Egyptian holding midfielder is currently behind Lucas Torreira, Matteo Guendouzi and Granit Xhaka in the pecking order and I just don’t see that ever changing.

Elneny is a good player, he just needs to prove that at another club.

Finally I’d also offload Calum Chambers.

At various points this term Arsenal’s defence suffered from injures and poor form, yet no one was calling for Chambers to be recalled from his loan deal at Fulham.

Chambers has had a rocky season at Craven Cottage, who hasn’t? I still think the twenty-four year old has it in him to be a regular in the Premier League, just not at Arsenal.

If Unai Emery can get the bulk of these players off his wage bill it could rejuvenate the squad further and allow the recruitment team to bring in more fresh faces that can help build better foundations at the Emirates!

 

Champions League Reinforces Need For Man United To Clear Deadwood

FC Barcelona and Lionel Messi, in particular, gave Manchester United a footballing lesson as they dumped The Red Devils out of the Champions League this week.

It’s true that Man Utd have progressed under new boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and that he’s turned things around since his arrival in December, with United at a low ebb under former gaffer Jose Mourinho.

But on Tuesday night it was clear to everyone that Man United are still far from being major challengers on the European stage.

After the game, Solskjaer warned his squad (Source -BBC Sport):

“Most of the players have really impressed me with their attitude,” 

“But of course there are some that need to get a reality check on where they’re at.”

A big thing that needs to happen, in my opinion, is that Ole needs to overhaul the squad and in particular the manager needs to clear out the deadwood that currently reside in the Old Trafford dressing room.

When I look at the Red Devils squad, I feel that they need to concentrate mainly on rebuilding the defence and bring in new midfield faces. The team needs a new spine and foundation to build from.

If they can tie down David de Gea and keep Sergio Romero happy staying as a number two, then I wouldn’t change the goalkeeping department.

In defence, I’d only keep Chris Smalling, Luke Young, Diogo Dalot, Victor Lindelof and Ashley Young.

Veteran Young would be used mainly as a back-up full-back. He would be a bridge between the current era and the successful Sir Alex Ferguson period. He’s still smart enough to play in that role and will always give 100% but players like Dalot, Shaw and a new right-back are the future and should be the ones that get more first team opportunities over Ashley.

This season has kind of shown us that club captain Antonio Valencia no longer seems to be physically up to the challenge of being at a top club that play two games a week for most of the season. The Ecuadoran deserves a swan-song at Old Trafford before the season ends but he doesn’t merit a new deal.

Italian defender Matteo Darmian seems to be a player that wants desperately to be back in his homeland.  The full-back hasn’t been a regular starter since his debut season in 2015-16 and must be frustrated by his lack of first team opportunities.

I’m still scratching my head as to why United gave Phil Jones a new contract lasting up to 2023, according to Goal.com. Jones has never truly fulfilled his potential and has since become too injury prone. He looked very much out of his depth against Barca and has become a liability when he starts in the backline in big games.

When talking about injuries, Marcos Rojo is another defender that United simply can’t rely on. The Argentine international has made just 13 Premier League appearances in the last two seasons. Even when fit, he’s a player that struggles to really get to grips with one position and seems like a player that doesn’t know if he’s better as a centre-half or as a left-back. Probably time for him to go.

I really hoped that Eric Bailly would’ve turned a corner, like Lindelof has, when Ole took over the reigns at Old Trafford. But alas the Ivorian’s confidence looks shot and the weight of expectation to perform to a certain high standard seems to weigh down on him at United. More mistakes seem to be creeping into his game and he’s another one that seems ready to pick up a new injury at the drop of a hat.  He could still be a very good defender but I think he needs a clean start elsewhere to stand a chance of showing us how good he can be.

So if Manchester United were to get rid of all those players, I think they’ll want two or three centre-backs as well as a strong right-back to come in.

In midfield, they also have issues.

Paul Pogba, I’d definitely keep but only on the basis that the Frenchman’s committed to Man United’s cause. The player wasn’t good enough against PSG or in the 2nd leg of the game at the Camp Nou but he has been sensational in the most part this season and has a great scoring and assist record this term too.

I think defensive midfielder Nemanja Matic still has more in the tank and should still be a Red Devils beyond this season. He’s a player that gives the team defensive balance and experience.

It makes a lot of sense to me for the club to keep young midfielders Scott McTominay and Andreas Pereira. Both have plenty to offer and can be fine squad players. McTominay was a star in his team’s 2nd leg win over PSG and equipped himself well against Barcelona in the first game against them too.

I wouldn’t necessarily call Juan Mata or Ander Herrera deadwood but I don’t think either are worth new bumper contracts. Both have deals that run out in the summer and it might be best to let the Spaniards depart. Mata isn’t fast enough for what Solskjaer’s looking for in his team and Herrera can be replaced with a hungrier, younger model (in my opinion).

Brazilian midfielder Fred is a funny one and to be honest I’m still unsure. I do believe that there’s a player in there and he has a lot of good attributes. I think a lot of his issues stem from getting adjusted to the English game and rebuilding his confidence. Unfortunately he has also made some strange mistakes and how long can United give him to bed in? If I were Solsjkaer I’d be hoping for a much more effective Fred to turn up at preseason.

In attack, I think Man United are at their strongest.

I think the opportunity is there to have Anthony Martial, Romelu Lukaku and Marcus Rashford really compete with each other to see who will finish next season as the club’s top scorer.

Jesse Lingard is a player who will give everything for the badge and his work ethic is huge in big games.

I would only offload Alexis Sanchez at this stage. The Chilean has been a costly error in United’s recent transfer strategy. He hasn’t been anywhere as good at Old Trafford as he was with Arsenal. He doesn’t create enough for others and he also doesn’t get enough goals either. If they can get someone to take on his wage, then I’d bite their hand off and drive him to the airport.

I also hope that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer brings through Mason Greenwood, Angel Gomes and Tahiti Chong and gives the youngsters more first team opportunities next term.

It could and should be a huge summer for Manchester United. They need to bring in top talent that can hopefully get them challenging for major titles next season.

But a big part of that could also be down to Man United being able to sell off the deadwood that has kept them back in recent years.

 

Spurs Should Target Sébastien Haller & Give Themselves More Attacking Options

Tottenham Hotspur are once again having to cope without their talismanic striker Harry Kane.

A season doesn’t seem to go by without England’s main frontman succumbing to yet another injury. This is his second spell out this term and it’s not at the best possible time either, given that Spurs are trying to remain in the Premier League’s top four positions and are still fighting in the Champions League too.

Now don’t get me wrong Son Heung-Min has stepped up to the plate, the South Korean has bagged twelve league goals. Plus Brazilian Lucas Moura has scored important goals at various times, including his recent hat-trick against Huddersfield Town. But neither player is an out and out striker!

Veteran hitman Fernando Llorente can still make an impact on games but that’s usually from the bench and not really with a scoring prowess, he’s more of a battering ram that creates havoc in the opposition penalty area.

Now some forwards might look at potentially going to Tottenham and be put off by Kane’s presence. He’s the top striker there and others might think that they won’t get a look in.

But this season, Spurs boss Mauricio Pochettino has played with two up-front on eighteen occasions thus far.

It would be all about bringing in the right attacker to help plug that gap, having a striker that’s happy to play alongside Kane as his feeder and also be the main man if Harry gets his yearly knock.

Eintracht Frankfurt player Sébastien Haller could be an ideal prospect for Tottenham Hotspur.

The twenty-four year old Frenchman has excelled for the Bundesliga side this season. He’s scored fourteen league goals and he’s also added five more strikes in the Europa League.

Not bad when you consider that Frankfurt’s main marksman is the highly rated Luka Jovic. The young Serbian has banged in a combined total of twenty-five goals already during this campaign. His form has seen him heavily linked with a move to Real Madrid in the summer, with Marca believing that the fee will be around €70m.

Haller has no issues with Jovic being the star striker, in fact the French forward has been a big reason for Luka’s progress. As well as grabbing his own goals, Haller has also created  twelve assists for teammates.

As his assists stats suggest, Sébastien can link up well with those around him and he has the ability to hold the ball up in the final third. He likes laying it off to those in midfield (Could be good for Christian Eriksen and Dele Alli) and he also has the insight to create lovely wee flick-ons for players to run onto.

The striker is terrific in the air and that could be very advantageous for this current Spurs side. He’s also very strong and can muscle his way beyond opponents.

He does seem to have the ideal attributes when you think of a player that could succeed in the Premier League.

As well as proving himself in German, Haller also had a successful scoring spell in the Eredivisie with FC Utrecht. The forward also scored thirteen times in twenty Under-21 appearances for France.

That shows us that he can adapt well to different surroundings.

While it’s very true that Les Bleus coach Didier Deschamps has an array for attacking riches to choose from at the moment, personally I think Sébastien Haller must be in the running for his senior cap in the near future.

It won’t necessarily be easy for Tottenham to convince Eintracht Frankfurt into selling the striker, especially if they sell Jovic in the summer.

The fee could be around €40m and rising and Serie A giants Juventus have also been linked with a move for the player (Via Football Italia).

The striker himself has hinted that he’s happy in Germany and won’t move until the time is right (Source -Goal.com):

“I would never switch to the Premier League just to play there. It has to make sense to me,”  

“And it has to be the right time for me.”

“At the moment, I’m in Frankfurt, and I am very happy here. The Europa League contributes to this. It has already given me great moments and memories.”

None of that should stop Tottenham Hotspur from making an enquiry.

I think Sébastien Haller could be an ideal signing for The Lilywhites and who knows maybe the summer will be the right time for him to make his move!

 

 

Nikola Milenkovic Still Seems To Be An Ideal Target For Manchester United

As the summer transfer window gets ever closer, big clubs like Manchester United will be targeting players that will improve their chances for challenging for silverware next season.

United clearly need more defensive reinforcements to be brought in to improve their backline. No club in the Premier League’s top six has conceded more than the Red Devils’ forty-four goals!

New permanent boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will be hoping that his club’s hierarchy can bring in at least two new defenders to help things at the back.

With it looking increasingly likely that club captain Antonio Valencia will depart on a free transfer in June, the need for a new right-back to challenge Diogo Dalot could be vital.

In the centre-back position, Man Utd need stronger characters than they’ve currently got. There seems to be a bit of deadwood in that area and quite a few that can play in that role seem to be injury prone.

Back in January, Serie A side Fiorentina stated that they rejected a bid from the Old Trafford side for defender Nikola Milenkovic (Source Manchester Evening News):

“We rejected great offers from Lyon for [Jordan] Veretout, from Marseille for [Giovani] Simeone and from Manchester United for Nikola Milenkovic,”

I believe it could be in United’s best interests to try an resurrect the deal in the summer. The Viola have tailed off in the second half of this season, and look to be finishing in a mid table position. That could see the Italian side being more forthcoming in selling the defender if the price is right.

Milenkovic has made more than forty appearances for club and country this term, playing as both a centre-half and as a right-back.

Being only twenty-one, he’s of the young age that United like when they are looking at players. He’s got plenty of potential and is already used to playing in a top continental league and for the Serbia national team.

Nikola is a very accomplished and versatile defender.

The Fiorentina man has the ball skills, pace and the composure of a young Rio Ferdinand. Plus he has the grit, determination and the physicality that is reminiscent of his compatriot Nemanja Vidic.

Milenkovic doesn’t seem to get easily flustered and that could be a real bonus for the young talent if he were to end up at Old Trafford given their defensive woes so far this term.

United need more pace, awareness and power at the back and, for me, Nikola Milenkovic would give them that and a whole lot more.

In his twenty-eight Italian top flight appearances this term, the youngster has a 77/5% passing success rate and makes around 1.8 tackles per outing. he’s pretty decent in the air, with Whoscored stating that he’s made 3.9 clearances and won 3.1 aerial duels!

In purchasing Nikola Milenkovic, Manchester United would be getting a 2 in 1 defender and that kind of defensive versatility could be key if injuries strike next term!

Mo Salah’s Timely Return To Form Could Guide Liverpool To Their First Premier League Title

It’s been a pretty gloomy 2019 for Mohamed Salah, especially when you compare his form to that of 2018.

Yet in the last few weeks the Liverpool forward has shown us that he could be on there verge of becoming a talismanic figure again for the Anfield side and it could be happening at a perfect time for the club as they head into the final stretch of the Premier League title race.

We all know Liverpool haven’t won the Premier League since it’s formation in 1992 and the Reds are currently vying for England’s top price with current champions Manchester City.

Jurgen Klopp’s men hold a slight advantage as they are two points ahead of their rivals but City do have a game in hand. It could be vital for both sides that they don’t slip up between now and the end of the season.

With that in mind, you need your best players to flourish and see you through the harder encounters that you come up against.

That’s why Salam’s most recent performances in the league could give Liverpool a massive boost as they prepare for their final four league games this term,

The Egyptian star had gone six games between the 10th of February and the 5th of April without hitting the back of the net. The forward was snatching at chances and looked to be at a low ebb. The constant questioning about his form from the media didn’t help things. Obviously that kind of form would’ve also worried the Reds support and the rest of his teammates.

Thankfully Sadio Mane has been in fairly consistent goalscoring form in 2019.

But against Southampton in the 5th of April, Salah grabbed the game’s second strike as Liverpool beat the Saints in a 3-1 victory. You could see that the goal took a weight off of Salam’s shoulders.

Yesterday was a huge game as The Reds welcomed Champions League chasing Chelsea to Anfield. Man City had won earlier in the day and that put the pressure onto Klopp’s men as they looked to restore their points advantage over Pep Guardiola’s side.

Chelsea came with a game plan that ensured they’d be tough to beat and breakdown.

You could tell that Liverpool were struggling to do just that in the first half as they couldn’t finish any of the various chances they created. Eden Hazard almost sucker punched them but his effort came back off of Alisson’s post.

I’m pretty sure Reds boss Klopp would’ve told his stars to do more of the same and the goals would come.

That’s exactly what happened as Mane struck in the 51st minute. That goal eased the tension.

Then a few minutes late Salah struck a wonderful shot from outside the box with his left foot, giving Chelsea keeper Kepa no chance as it rocketed into the roof of the net. The goal showed that the attacker is back on form and in the right mindset.

In fact you could tell that for most of the game leading up to that moment. Salah continuously looked to get on the ball, run at opposition defenders and try and create openings for himself. He was always buzzing in and round the righthand side of Chelsea’s penalty area.

According to football stats website Whoscored; no player made more shot attempts at goal or had as many as Mo’s three attempts hit the target. He also made four successful dribbles and completed 36 accurate passes.

After the win Jurgen Klopp said this to the Liverpool Echo:

“I said before when you ask me about I have concerns (about Salah).”

“The answer for football is always work-rate, and the work-rate of all three up front today, again, was outstanding.”

That shows you that the German gaffer has never doubted Salah’s ability and always backed him to get back amongst the goals. It’s crazy to think that people have criticised Mohamed’s scoring form this season, yet the forward has scored nineteen league goals and no one has actually bettered that tally!

Mohamed Salah was a live-wire and once again proved that he could handle the big occasions. He delivered when it mattered and that’s what Liverpool need from him and his teammates for the remainder of the season.

His performance against his former employers on Sunday will have the red half of Merseyside once again dreaming and even believing that they can finally end the wait for a Premier League championship triumph!

Spurs’ Alderweireld Could Be As Successful As Campbell If Arsenal Get Him

According to reports in Sunday’s media columns, including in the Daily Mail, Arsenal are plotting a shock summer swoop for Tottenham Hotspur defender Toby Alderweireld.

Looking at it from a purely footballing point of view, you’d suggest that the Belgian international would be making a mistake if he decided to swap White Hart Lane for The Emirates stadium next season.

Spurs are currently in a higher position in the Premier League and have been for the majority of this term, plus they’ve also been highly impressive in this season’s Champions League (a competition The Gunners have failed to qualify for in the last two years)

But football isn’t just a sport these days and players aren’t as committed to teams like they once were, that means that swapping one fierce rival for another isn’t as big a deal to modern day footballers especially if the money is right!

A perfect example of this is when former Spurs captain Sol Campbell left the Lilywhites in the summer of 2001 and signed a Bosman deal to join Arsenal. It was a deal that really worked well for the player and the Gunners as he helped them win two Premier League titles and two FA Cups.

Now the biggest reason if Toby were to end up at The Emirates would be that the wage packet is greater than the one he’s currently getting at Tottenham.

The Belgian has so far failed to agree a new deal with his current employers and in the summer his contract will have a £25m release clause inserted into it.

That’s a fairly modest sum for a top defender these days and the fact that he’s got plenty of English top flight experience will attract clubs like Arsenal too. That lower fee will also mean that potential suitors can dedicate more money to the player’s wage and signing on fee.

Being thirty years of age now, you’ve got to think that Alderweireld will be thinking of getting another lucrative contract before he enters the final years of his career.

I also think that Arsenal’s project under Unai Emery this year will be enough to attract good players like the Belgian international.

The Gunners are just three points away from the top four positions in the Premier League and are still going strong in the Europa League. So if they can secure a place in next season’s Champions League then they’ll again stand a better chance of bringing in better talent.

The club look to be on the up, they’re playing good football and are picking up results in the bigger games too.

They still need another top class centre-half and that could see them push the boat out to get the best possible target into the club.

Emery stated to Talksport back in January that he needed to see improvements in his defence in 2019:

“Our challenge now is to improve defensively,”

“We need defence also to take more balance and improve. We need to work. We need to prepare for the second half of the season.”

I think the Spaniard will still want to bring in a new face to improve that department when the summer transfer window opens.

Other sides might be interest in Toby Alderweireld but Arsenal might head up the queue as Chelsea have been served a transfer ban by FIFA (which they’re appealing) and Manchester United could be looking at younger prospects.

Tottenham Hotspur have to decide if they can offer the Belgian centre-back the deal that he wants or risk watching him play for their rivals.

Arsenal might get a player in Toby Alderweireld (if they sign him) that shores up their defence and if he can do that then he could be as successful as Sol Campbell was for The Gunners.

It could be an explosive signing but it wouldn’t be one that surprises me.