Preview – Liverpool vs Arsenal.

Tonight’s stand out match comes from Anfield with the showdown between Liverpool and Arsenal, kick off at 8:00pm. Arsenal will be trying to extend their lead at the top of the table whilst Liverpool with be looking for an invaluable home win to kick start a run of form. Since Jurgen Klopp’s arrival Liverpool have been up-and-down as even though the German orchestrated a fantastic 4-1 away win at Manchester City, he has also seen his side lose against Watford and Newcastle among others. Last time out in the Premier League Arsenal staggered to an unconvincing 1-0 home win against Sunderland whilst Liverpool went down 2-0 at Upton Park against West Ham.

Going into tonight’s game, Liverpool will be buoyed with the returns of defensive pair Mamadou Sahko and Kolo Toure whilst loan signing Steven Caulker could make an appearance for the Reds having signed from QPR on loan on Tuesday. Jordan Henderson, Jordon Ibe and James Milner could also all be back for Jurgen Klopp’s side.

Steven Caulker
Steven Caulker has recently moved on loan to Liverpool from QPR until the end of the season.

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger will look to recall stand out performer of the season Mesut Ozil after resting him for the clubs FA Cup clash with Sunderland at the weekend, this is the same scenario for Per Mertesacker who too miss the match due to being rested. However Alexis Sanchez is not yet fit enough to return for the Gunners, while Santi Cazorla, Francis Coquelin, Danny Welbeck and Jack Wilshere remain out for Arsene Wenger’s men.

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp: “Arsenal and Arsene have their own style; it’s possession football, so it’s clear that if we want to play the same way we will be without a chance because they’ve been doing it for longer. Arsenal are not only a good possession team, that’s the problem, they have good counter-attacks too and that’s what you have to be aware of. It’s a job – but it’s a really nice job – to think about solutions and how to stop them coming through with their plan. I like things like this.”

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger: “Every time we go to Anfield, we face a team who is up for it. It’s always a ferocious battle, no matter who the manager is. They had a very strong manager before (Brendan Rodgers), they have a very strong one now and Klopp has the personality to do well there.”

A draw is on the cards tonight at Anfield in my opinion which will suit both Arsene Wenger and Jurgen Klopp to be perfectly honest. A draw would see Arsenal maintain top spot regardless of if Leicester can get a result away at in form Tottenham whilst for Liverpool it would move them joint seventh with Crystal Palace and within striking distance of 4th placed Spurs.

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Pep Guardiola & his fantastic dilemma

In the world of football it’s unusual to see a manager so sought after by so many different major clubs however this is the case with Spaniard Pep Guardiola, the former Barcelona manager and soon to be former Bayern Munich boss in the summer. A figure that has won 19 major trophies so far in his short but action packed managerial career, Guardiola has already stated his desire to leave the German champions in the summer and pursuit a new career path telling reporters that he next wants to manage in the English Premier League. With five league titles, three domestic cups and two Champions League wins under his belt already, Guardiola is fast becoming one of the greatest football managers in history. For those who enjoy their stats, Guardiola has an overall win percentage of 74% at Barcelona and Bayern Munich so far and is yet to go a single season without winning a major trophy, which isn’t surprising bearing in mind he only holds a loss ratio of just 11% as a manager.

But which Premier League teams are in the market for a new manager? Famed for his three year tenures, Pep Guardiola could provide a short term solution for some of the English giants who have being struggling so far this season but in the long term so far he has proved that maybe his employment is not the best case scenario in terms of future security for teams.

As for his relations at his current club, Bayern Munich, well they’re starting to sour with accusations from German and Bayern Munich legend Lothar Matthaus claiming that the Spaniards head has been turned by speculation on his future. The former German international has also accused Guardiola of already planning his signings for Manchester City should he join them in the summer. Could Pep Guardiola’s attitude in terms of swapping clubs quite often be a problem for teams interested in employing him as manager?

Pep Guardiola has been heavily linked with a move to Manchester City this summer.
Pep Guardiola has been heavily linked with a move to Manchester City this summer.

Manchester City

Despite being third in the Premier League and only three points behind leaders Arsenal, many think that Manchester City have struggled to maintain form this season. Although progressing in the Champions League, where they play Zenit St Petersburg in the first knockout round, Manchester City have struggled for form this season in the league due mostly to frustrating injuries for star players, in particular Vincent Kompany who has been a huge loss for Manuel Pellegrini in defence. Despite this, many feel that Pellegrini’s tenure as manager at the Etihad Stadium is shortly to be up even if he manages to bring home Manchester City’s third Premier League title among other silverware this term. A little harsh maybe?

Granted, the decision to relieve a manager of his duties after a winning season would be harsh but when the chance to hire a manager of Pep Guardiola’s stature comes about, you simply can’t pass up on the opportunity. In my opinion a move to the Etihad would suit all parties involved. Firstly the fans will have the opportunity to watch their team play in a similar style to Barcelona and Bayern Munich, secondly it suits the owners of a team like Manchester City who have in the past sacked a fair amount of managers and due to the fact that Guardiola will be on a shorter contract means a smaller pay out if things backfire and thirdly it suits Pep Guardiola perfectly. In Manchester City the Spanish manager would take charge of a team, arguably with the best squad in the Premier League already, capable of challenging for major trophies even before he puts his own brand on the team. Guardiola further would be gifted with basically unlimited money to spend at City and will have the lure of the world’s best players as the Citizens now enjoy a growing reputation across Europe.

The only negative is a possible further slump in form this season for Manchester City as if Manuel Pellegrini knows that directors are making decisions behind his back, maybe his enthusiasm will wain slightly towards the end of the 2015-2016 season.

Manchester United

Judging by the performances Manchester United have been putting in this season, it’s a pretty safe bet that Louis Van Gaal won’t be in charge at Old Trafford next season. The Red Devils have lacked goals and good all round attacking play massively this season leading to a call from fans for the sacking of their Dutch head coach. The team this season has been a far cry from the team fielded by Alex Ferguson several years ago, a team full of star forwards who bagged goals by the hat full and never lacked a cutting edge.

For me, it’s time for a complete overhaul at Old Trafford, the squad is full of ‘dead wood’ that shouldn’t have a place in the Manchester United squad. It’s the blunt truth that players like Fellani, Januzaj, Valencia, Powell to name but a few are not real Manchester United quality and should be moved on this coming summer. Money isn’t a problem for United, the club is a global brand and moving these players on will bring in revenue so in that case Guardiola would be happy. The need for an overhaul at Old Trafford could be both appealing and off putting for an incoming manager.

Maybe a task to great for Pep Guardiola? As previously mentioned he likes to keep his managerial stints short at clubs and maybe the task in hand at Old Trafford would be better suited for a more experienced manager, a man with previous Premier League experience. A certain Jose Mourinho maybe..

Jose Mourinho could prove to be a better managerial target for the Manchester United hierarchy.

Arsenal

As well as the two Manchester clubs, reports are linking Pep Guardiola with a move to the Emirates over the summer but to be honest, I can’t see this happening. Arsene Wenger has been at Arsenal for a staggering 20 years now yet I can’t see him retiring in the summer regardless of how his team perform for the rest of the season and if he delivers another trophy this season, I can’t see him been ousted by the board any time soon. In Arsene Wenger, Arsenal have a true club legend, a type of manager that is extremely rare these days in terms of his duration at the club and even though the fans persist on having a pop at his tactics every now and again, Wenger continues to impress at the London club.

For Pep Guardiola a move to the Emirates would be ideal, it would represent the same challenges of his first two managerial jobs at Barcelona and Bayern Munich. Like Manchester City, Arsenal possess a fantastic squad that is already challenging at the top of the Premier League and is use to featuring in the later stages of the major cup competitions. With a few new recruits, especially a 20 goals a season striker and a top anchorman in midfield, Arsenal would become the favourites to win the title in my opinion. However I just can’t see the Spanish maestro taking over at the Emirates any time soon.

Chelsea

Chelsea could be another very realistic proposition for Pep Guardiola. After Jose Mourinho’s sacking recently and the club announcing that Gus Hiddink will only be staying until the end of the season, the vacancy to manage the London club is there for Guardiola to take. Would this opportunity suit the former Spanish international though?

Chelsea have been extremely poor this season by their own standards. The team languishes near the foot of the table still and has only recently started to show better form in the league, the 3-0 win away at Crystal Palace has been a massive confidence booster. Chelsea are also through in the Champions League but have a tough match up against Paris St Germain in the first knockout round. After the sacking of Jose Mourinho the Chelsea board announced that former manager Gus Hiddink would be stepping in until summer leaving a place for Guardiola to take over after his departure. The challenge in hand at Chelsea represents a situation half way between the jobs in hand at Arsenal and Manchester United, the need for new personnel at the club is there for all to see but the current squad at Stamford Bridge is still easily one of the best in the Premier League, if not Europe on the whole.

This job opportunity is a fantastic one for Pep Guardiola and would suit his policy of keeping his managerial stints at clubs short as Chelsea are famed for changing their first team coach frequently. However taking over as manager of Chelsea offers zero job security after we’ve seen the departure of Jose Mourinho. Despite his team’s very poor results and performances the decision from the Chelsea board to sack their Portuguese legend still came as a shock to most football fans and now shows that taking over the managerial reins at Chelsea is a very difficult task. Take Roberto Di Matteo for an example, as caretaker manager of Chelsea he steered the club to double title success, winning both the FA Cup and the club’s first UEFA Champions League in 2012 but was then sacked the summer after their incredible success’. In my opinion the brutal nature of Chelsea football club in terms of sacking managers will work against them if they try to bring in Pep Guardiola in the summer.

Chelsea have been linked with a move for Pep Guardiola. Could the Spaniard emulate Jose Mourinho's success at Stamford Bridge?
Chelsea have been linked with a move for Pep Guardiola. Could the Spaniard emulate Jose Mourinho’s success at Stamford Bridge?

Whichever way you look at the situation, one thing is definitely clear and that is that Pep Guardiola will be managing a side in the Premier League next season. His tactical genius is there for all to see thanks to his previous exploits as both Barcelona and Bayern Munich boss and with a points per match average as a manager of 2.38 you can expect that whichever team he manages from next season, they will be a force to be reckoned with in all competitions.

January transfer window improvements: AFC Bournemouth and Arsenal.

The January transfer window is arguably the most important time of the Premier League season as teams are both strengthened and in some cases weakened for the rest of the season with make-or-break transfers being negotiated and completed before the 31st. As we roll into December it’s now time to look in-depth as to what crucial signings each Premier League side needs to complete over the crucial transfer window period to improve in the second half of the season.

AFC Bournemouth

Let’s face it, every football fan (unless you’re from Portsmouth or Southampton) likes AFC Bournemouth and what the club brings to the 2015-2016 Premier League season. Their recent history is nothing short of heroic, a sort of fantastic dream every lower league football fan has before waking up on a Monday morning disappointed. This season Eddie Howe and his men have shown real courage and a desire to stick to the slick passing style of play that saw them crowned Championship champions last summer even if the opposition they face this season have single players worth more than the Cherries whole club combined.

Eddie Howe
Eddie Howe has the footballing knowledge and tactical awareness to keep Bournemouth in the Premier League this season.

Bournemouth’s antics this year are a throw-back to a couple of seasons ago when Blackpool came storming through the Championship play-offs and started putting in gutsy performances against the Premier League big boys. Unfortunately however, but rather not surprisingly, Bournemouth are locked in a relegation battle and find themselves in the bottom three heading into the Christmas period but this isn’t through a lack of desire or passion, as seen in their 3-3 last gasp draw at home to Everton and their historic 1-0 win away at Chesea, but maybe due to a substantial injury list which includes the likes of star forward Callum Wilson and winger Max Gradel.

Where to improve?

Despite been hammered by Tottenham at home 5-1 and by Manchester City away, Bournemouth have usually lost matches this season by only the odd goal or so and have usually put in very credible performances in most matches this season. This shows that whilst Eddie Howe’s defence could always be improved, just like most other Premier League sides up and down the league, maybe investment should come in the form of a prolific striker who could steer the South coast team away from relegation. As mentioned before, Bournemouth have been extremely unlucky with the long term injuries of both Callum Wilson and Max Gradel, two key forwards whom were in great form for their side before their retrospective injuries earlier in the season. With both predicted to miss at least three quarters of the season, Eddie Howe needs to strengthen Bournemouth’s front line. For me, Howe should be looking for a striker with Premier League experience, a player that is known for top finishing who can stick away those chances created by players like Matt Ritchie at Bournemouth and for me it is key for the South coast club to avoid relegation this season.

Arsenal

In a season full of unpredictable twists and turns is it time for Arsenal to step up and win the title for the first time in thirteen years? Although struggling for form in the Champions League with loses to Olympiacos and Dinamo Zagreb, Arsenal sit second in the league at this point of the season and are been tipped by many to win the title this year. The losses of Santi Cazorla and Francis Coquelin due to recent injuries are a big worry for Arsene Wenger but with Chelsea out of contention, Manchester United struggling to score and Manchester City faltering, with a bit of invest the Gunners could quite easily capture the Premier League title in May.

Where to improve?

When will Arsene Wenger buy a solid, defensive midfielder?! I’m not even an Arsenal fan and it massively frustrates me. Don’t get me wrong Francis Coquelin has been in inspired form for Wenger this term so far but his recent injury is a worry for the Arsenal manager. Santi Cazorla has also been playing well in a deeper position, protecting the defence but it has since been confirmed that the Spaniard midfielder is set to miss up to four months of the season due to having surgery on a recent knee injury.

Cazorla injury
Santi Cazorla sustained a serious knee injury in Arsenal’s match against Norwich. The Spaniard could be out of action for up to four months.

For me, there are a few players that would really fit the bill at Arsenal including Lars Bender of Bayer Leverkusen and William Carvalho of Sporting Lisbon who both have a fantastic reading of the game and will protect Arsenals back four by breaking up the play in the centre of the park meaning the forward players can play without any defensive restrictions. I still believe that Arsenal too need a top striker. To be fair to Olivier Giroud he has bagged ten goals in all competitions this season for the Gunners but in my opinion this still isn’t good enough as Arsenal’s Premier League rivals have a better standard of strikers like Sergio Aguero at Manchester City. If they do want to bring in a top, in form striker this January, Arsenal will most likely have to go up against Chelsea for the players signature as the Blues are also struggling for goals so far this term. Antoine Griezmann from Atletico Madrid or Borussia Dortmund’s rapid forward Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang could be options for Arsenal Wenger to bring to the Emirates in the next transfer window.

This week’s Premier League winners and losers. Week #1

WINNERS

West Ham United

What a performance and victory it was for the East London side as they beat potential title contenders Arsenal at the Emirates 2-0 thanks to goals from Cheikhou Kouyate and Mauro Zarate. Despite being knocked out of the Europa League during the week by minnows FC Astra Giurgiu of Romania, West Ham played fabulously in defence all game to maintain the clean sheet and secure the clubs first win of the season.

Slaven Bilic sprang a surprise in his starting line-up at the Emirates by handing Reece Oxford his league debut, making him the seventh-youngest player to feature in the Premier League. However the 16 year old holding midfielder played extremely well on his league debut stopping Mesut Ozil in particularly going forward for the Gunners.

Claudio Ranieri

A dream start for the original Italian ‘tinkerman’ who was a shock choice to take over as manager at Leicester City after the sacking of Nigel Pearson at the end of last season. Leicester City have carried their form through the summer months into the new season after winning eight of their last nine games of last season to avoid the drop to the Championship.

Yohann Cabaye and Georginio Wijnaldum

Both scorers on their respective debuts, Yohann Cabaye and Georginio Wijnaldum gave great performances for their new Premier League teams Crystal Palace and Newcastle. Both players cost large sums of money for their teams this summer transfer window, the two players will hope to build on their performances in week one of the 2014-2015 season.

 

LOSERS

Arsene Wenger

The Gunners were up against an extremely well-organised side, but with the experience they have against teams doing various things to try to stop them in the past, they should have been able to cope. Arsene Wenger’s side still threatened and West Ham would not have won without their keeper Adrian playing well, but there was a reason why Arsenal did not create as many chances as they normally would at home.

West Ham set up in a diamond shape which meant all four of their midfield players stayed narrow and meant that Bilic’s side were weaker out wide, an aspect Arsene Wenger failed to capitalised upon throughout the course of the game.

Arsenal fans don’t worry though, the Gunners will be up there at the end of the season especially if another world class player is added to Wenger’s team.

Sunderland

Sunderland made a very poor start to the 2014/2015 season with a terrible performance and result, especially in the first half, in their 4-2 loss against Premier League rivals Leicester City. For a team that massively underperformed and struggled last season in the Premier League, a severe loss to another team likely to be around the relegation places come the end of the season was not the start Dick Advocaat wanted. Improvement is needed before the side entertain Norwich this weekend.

Thibaut Courtois

Belgium international goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois was sent off for denying striker Bafetimbi Gomis a clear goal scoring chance during Saturday’s match at Stamford Bridge. Chelsea would go on to drop points at home as they drew 2-2 with Swansea, a rare sight for fans of the West London club.

Thibaut Courtois will miss their game at Manchester City after an appeal against his red card in the 2-2 draw with Swansea was rejected.

 

Daily Mail team of the week.
Daily Mail team of the week.

Predicted Premier League positions for this season.

We take a look at what I believe the Premier League table will look like at the end of the 2015/2016 season including my predictions on which teams will win the two English domestic trophies during the course of the season as well.

1st – Chelsea
2nd –Arsenal
3rd – Manchester City
4th – Manchester United
5th – Liverpool
6th – Tottenham
7th – Southampton
8th – Everton
9th – Crystal Palace
10th – Stoke
11th – Swansea
12th – West Ham
13th – Newcastle
14th – Aston Villa
15th – West Bromwich Albion
16th – Bournemouth
17th – Sunderland
18th – Watford
19th – Leicester City
20th – Norwich

Capital One Cup winners – Liverpool
FA Cup winners – Manchester United

Ranking the Premier League summer transfers that are already completed #2

We once again look at some more of the transfers that have already been completed by Premier League clubs so far this transfer window period.

Radamel Falcao – Chelsea

Starting with a somewhat controversial transfer for Chelsea who have signed Colombian international striker Falcao from AS Monaco on loan for a season similar to the decision Manchester United made last summer.

Chelsea signed Monaco striker Radamel Falcao on a season-long loan deal, with the option to make the deal permanent at the end of last month in a move by Jose Mourinho to give Chelsea some strength in depth going forward. The 29-year-old Colombia international spent last season on loan at Manchester United where he only managed to score four goals in 29 appearances for the Red Devils.

Falcao now links up with former Atletico Madrid team-mates Thibaut Courtois, Filipe Luis and Diego Costa at the London club with Croatian midfielder Mario Pasalic, 20, going the other way on loan for the season to the French outfit. Upon agreeing to join Chelsea for a season, Falcao said: “I am very happy to be joining Chelsea. I can’t wait to start training, to help with our aim of retaining the league title and being successful in Europe.”

The striker scored 62 goals in two seasons for FC Porto between 2009 and 2011, before joining Atletico Madrid. After 70 goals in two prolific seasons with the Spanish side, Monaco signed him for £50m in 2013.

Colombia's Falcao celebrates his goal against Belgium during their international friendly soccer match at King Baudouin Stadium in Brussels

Although many won’t agree, I believe that this could be a great move for both Falcao and Chelsea and here’s why. Firstly for Chelsea, money is no objective, regardless of the size of Radamel Falcao’s wage, Chelsea and Abramovich can easily accommodate whatever the Colombian demands in terms of a weekly wage. Further, although Falcao struggled massively last season at Manchester United, many argue that class is permanent and it wouldn’t be surprising if the forward managed to grab 15+ goals next season for the Premier League champions.

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Nathaniel Clyne – Liverpool

Nathaniel Clyne signed for Liverpool from Premier League rivals Southampton for £12.5m. The young English right back had been courted by various Premier League outfits according to media reports prior to his transfer to Anfield.

Initially, the Reds had a £10m bid for the England right-back rejected but decided to make another further improved big of around £12 million which persuaded Southampton to cash in on the young defender. The 24-year-old agreed a five-year deal with the Premier League side that will keep him at the club until the 2020/2021 season. “I’m delighted and it’s a dream move for me to come here and play for such a big club with all of its history,” Clyne told the club website. “As soon as Liverpool showed their interest in me, I was happy and just wanted the deal to go through.” Clyne, who had a year left on his Saints contract, admitted.

Clyne’s former boss at Crystal Palace, Neil Warnock , has spoken out about the right back stating that: “For me, he’s the best defensive right-back that we’ve got in England – by a mile. And now he’ll move up a gear, he can go to the top level. It doesn’t bother him, it doesn’t faze him.”

The signing of Nathaniel Clyne is a fantastic acquisition for Liverpool as the right back position was one that the club have struggled to fill. At first Glen Johnson played well there but his performances tailed off during his Anfield career which ultimately led to his departures this summer and sign for Stoke City whilst the loan signing of Javier Manquillo from Atletico Madrid didn’t work out for the Reds.

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Etienne Capoue – Watford

For a club record transfer fee, Premier League new boys Watford have signed France midfielder Etienne Capoue from Tottenham Hotspur on a four-year contract. The move outlines the Hornets ambition to avoid relegation in their first season back at the top level of English football since the 2006-2007 season.

The 26-year-old joined Spurs from Toulouse in 2013, but only made 24 league appearances over two seasons. He has further been capped seven times by his country, scoring once against Belarus in 2012.

Although struggling to make an impact at Tottenham in his time at the club, Etienne Capoue could be a welcome addition to the Watford side. His power and strength coupled with his good passing ability will come in handy for the promoted side as he can break up opposition play, especially alongside Watford’s other new midfield  signing Valon Behrami.

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Petr Cech – Arsenal

In a deal reported to be worth around £10 million, Arsenal have signed goalkeeper Petr Cech from Chelsea. The Czech Republic goalkeeper, who played more than 400 club games in 11 seasons at Stamford Bridge, has joined the Gunners on a four-year contract. Cech, 33, made only seven league appearances last season after losing his place to Belgian Thibaut Courtois at Stamford Bridge as he looks to overtake Wojciech Szczęsny as Arsenal’s number one stopper.

In a letter to Chelsea fans,  Cech said he thought he would retire at Stamford Bridge, but added: “Life doesn’t always turn out the way you think it will.” He wrote: “Last summer, things changed and I understood I was no longer the first-choice keeper, but I felt it was not the right time for me to go. During the season, it became clear that my situation would not improve and – as I know I am not at the stage of my career where I want to be on the bench – I made my decision to move and look for new challenges.”

Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger said: “Petr Cech is a player I have admired for a long time and I am very pleased he has decided to join us.”

Cech, brought to Stamford Bridge from French club Rennes in July 2004, won 13 trophies with Chelsea – including one Champions League and four Premier League titles. During his time, Petr Cech set a club goalkeeping record of 228 clean sheets in all competitions, beating the previous highest total of 208, set by former England international Peter Bonetti between 1960 and 1979.

The transfer was well received by Arsenal’s first team players including midfielder Aaron Ramsey who responded by posting on Twitter saying:  “Wow, what a signing. One of the best Premier League keepers ever.”

Petr Cech 1

The signing of Petr Cech could propel Arsenal into genuine title contenders next season as in recent times the goalkeeper position at the North London club has been a problem area for boss Arsene Wenger. If played over current number one Szczęsny, which is likely to happen, Petr Cech could gift Arsenal valuable points next season in their pursuit of the Premier League title for the first time since the 2003–04 season.

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Georginio Wijnaldum – Newcastle

Last week, Georginio Wijnaldum became the third most expensive signing in Newcastle United’s history after completing his move from PSV Eindhoven. The 24-year-old Holland international signed for a fee understood to be in the region of €20m, about £14.4m, after agreeing a five-year deal with the Geordie outfit.

On his arrival at St James Park for his unveiling, the attacking midfielder said: “I’m delighted to be a Newcastle United player. I felt the time was right for me to move and the club have shown they really want me, so I’m very happy to be here.”

Wijnaldum, a Rotterdam-born player who came through the ranks at Feyenoord, made 130 appearances for PSV and scored 47 goals during his four seasons at the Philips Stadion. Forty of those appearances and 16 of the goals came as captain last season as the club cruised to the Eredivisie title, finishing 17 points ahead of their closest rivals, Ajax. The 24 year old midfielder further has 19 senior caps for the Dutch international team and represented his country at the World Cup finals in Brazil in 2014.

Although a hefty price to pay for a side like Newcastle in the position they are currently in, Wijnaldum could become a very important player for the side. His attacking prowess and ability to pick out world class through balls will give forwards such as Ayose Perez the chances needed to make a mark on the Premier League next season.

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Danny Ings – Liverpool

In a free transfer, Liverpool captured former Burnley striker Danny Ings at the end of June. The England Under-21 international was out of contract at Turf Moor and joined up with Anfield club on the 1st July after passing his medical.

However due to the strikers young age, still only 22, The Clarets are entitled to compensation for the transfer of Ings to Merseyside especially as the clubs have not yet agreed a transfer fee for the striker in question. Ings, who scored 11 goals in the Premier League last season is looking to improve Liverpool’s forward line who could only muster 8 goals between them last season.

Further, although a ‘free transfer’ in essence, Danny Ings’ move to Liverpool from Burnley has become the latest to require a valuation by transfer tribunal. Liverpool are believed to have offered just short of £6m for the player but Lancashire club Burnley, now in the Championship, want something closer to the £10m mark for the forward. A tribunal is only needed when a player under the age of 24 moves clubs having reached the end of his contract. Whatever valuation the tribunal comes up with is non-negotiable. The player has already changed clubs and there is no right of appeal on either side once a figure has been reached.

Danny Ings

Considering this move is likely to cost Liverpool around £8 million in the end, I wonder if this signing is a good move for the club. Last season Liverpool struggled with their misfiring front line and needed goals from midfield to compensate for the no-show of Mario Balotelli and Rickie Lambert in particular. Will Dann Ings realistically come in and bag enough goals to keep the Anfield faithful happy? For this transfer to work in my opinion, Liverpool need to drop Balotelli and Lambert and still bring in a superstar forward to work with Daniel Sturridge meaning there will be far less pressure on the shoulders of Danny Ings to start with.

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Who are the real young stars of the European U21 Championship?

We take a look at the stand out players at this years European U21 Championship.

Domenico Berardi – Striker (Juventus)

Born in Cariati, Calabria, Berardi joined the youth academy of Cosenza at the age of 13, before moving to Sassuolo at the age of 16. Berardi there made his senior debut for Sassuolo on the 27th August 2012. In 2013, he was named Best Player of the Serie B and later was described as the “undoubted star of the Sassuolo side.”

Berardi

On the 2nd September 2013, Juventus confirmed that Berardi had joined the club on a co-ownership basis that saw Luca Marrone transfer in the opposite direction for a fee of €4.5 million. Since his move to the Italian giants Domenico Berardi has since moved back to Sassuolo on loan, bagging 31 goals in only 61 appearances.

So far in the Under-21 European Championship the 6ft 1in striker has managed to get his name on the scoresheet once in two games and has played well despite the Italian teams poor impact on the tournament so far.

Berardi is regarded as one of the most talented and promising young footballers of his generation.

Harry Kane – Striker (Tottenham)

A name familiar to followers of the English Premier League after his fantastic form this year, Harry Kane is an English international footballer who plays for Tottenham Hotspur and the England national team as a forward.

Kane

The striker born in Chingford has this season rose through the ranks at Tottenham and become a key player for the North London club. Scoring 31 goals in 51 appearances across all competitions this season, Kane was the Premier Leagues third top scorer, behind Segio Aguero and Diego Costa, and has since drawn similarities to German legend Jurgen Klinsmann in the way he plays. His form this season led to Alan Shearer, the Premier League’s all-time top scorer, saying in March that Kane “seems to have that natural ability to get goals. He’s also young, fresh and his attitude appears to be very, very good…It looks as if he could have a very good future in the game.”

Kane has in fact represented England at all youth levels, playing for the under-17, under-19, under-20 and under-21 sides and managed to score on his senior international debut on 27 March 2015 vs Lithuania.

Kevin Volland – Attacking midfielder (Hoffenheim)

Kevin Volland is a 22 year old German footballer who plays as a winger for the Bundesliga side 1899 Hoffenheim.

Volland

Kevin Volland, previously at 1860 Munchen, moved to Hoffenheim in 2012 and has since shone at the German Bundesliga side. Throughout the 2012–13 season, Volland scored six goals and provided a further 12 assists. During the 2013–14 season, Volland improved his scoring total, registering nine goals and contributing a further eight assists. As a reward for his strong start with the club, Hoffenheim extended his contract on 28 July 2013, through 2017. Since then various Premier League clubs have been said to be interested in Kevin Volland including Liverpool and Manchester City.

Kevin Volland has scored 11 goals in 20 appearances for the German U21 national side and has so far managed to grab two goals and an assist in Germanys games vs Denmark and Serbia in the group stages at the European U21 Championship.

William Carvalho – Defensive midfielder (Sporting Lisbon)

William Carvalho is a Portuguese central defensive midfielder who currently plays for Sporting Lisbon in the Primeira Liga.

Carvalho

The 23 year old has been the subject of a £28.5 million transfer bid from Premier League runners up Arsenal already this summer and is also currently the subject of interest from Louis Van Gaal and Manchester United. Various media outlets are reporting that it is highly likely that William Carvalho will not be at the Estadio Jose Alvalade next season.

His strong performances so far at the U21 Championship, especially in his national sides game vs England, have warranted much praise from both fans and pundits alike. The midfielder further made two appearances at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil for the full national Portugal team.

Max Meyer – Attacking midfielder (Schalke 04)

An upcoming star in the German top flight, Maxillian Meyer is a 19 year old, German footballer who plays as an attacking midfielder or as a forward for Bundesliga side Schalke 04.

Meyer

Max Meyer has starred at all levels in the German national youth set up. The young midfielder was part of the Germany under-17 squad for the 2012 UEFA European Under-17 Football Championship in which he managed to score three goals and further helped Germany to reach the final which the side would eventual lose in a penalty shoot-out to the Netherlands. Regardless, Meyer was in fact top scorer at the tournament and was duly awarded ‘best player of the tournament’. Since then, Meyer was in fact included in the 30 man provisional senior squad for 2014 FIFA World Cup and later that year on the 13th May 2014 made his senior international debut against rivals Poland.

A player that has world class dribbling technique and abilities and possesses great pace and speed, Max Meyers playing style is usually compared to that of fellow German star Mario Götze and superstar Lionel Messi.

Max Meyer has appeared in both of Germanys games so far in this year’s European U21 Championship.

John Stones – Defender (Everton)

A commanding centre back for Premier League side Everton, John Stones is an upcoming English international talent well known to followers of the Premier League. Still only 21 years old, Stones can also play at right back if necessary.

Stones

John Stones signed a five and a half year deal with Everton on the 31st January 2013 for a transfer fee reported to be in the region of £3 million from then Championship side Barnsley. Stones made his league debut as a late substitute in a 1–0 home win over Chelsea in September 2013 and started his first Premier League game for Everton in a 1–1 away draw against Stoke City in January 2014. His impact during his early spell in the first team at the Merseyside club warranted a new 5-year contract that will keep him with Everton until 2019. It is widely believed that the contract is worth around £30,000 a week to the young English star. Since then John Stones has been linked with a transfer to both Premier League giants Manchester United and Manchester City.

Stones made his first senior England start in a friendly against Norway at Wembley Stadium on the 3rd September 2014 and five days later made his competitive debut in a 2–0 victory away to Switzerland.

John Stones is yet to feature in an England shirt so far in this year’s European U21 Championship finals.

Emre Can – Defensive midfielder (Liverpool)

Emre Can is a 20 year old, German footballer who plays for English club Liverpool as a natural central midfielder. Known for being a versatile football player, Emre Can can also play as a defensive midfielder, centre-back or full-back.

Emre Can began his career at Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich, playing mostly in its reserve side before transferring to Bayer Leverkusen in 2013. A season later, Brenden Rodgers brought the German youngster to Liverpool for a transfer fee of around £9.75 million, activating his release clause at Leverkusen. Emre Can has enjoyed a strong start at Liverpool despite playing at central defence under Rodgers, a position he is less natural to.

Can has represented Germany from Under-15 to Under-21 level but is yet to make his full debut for the German senior international side. Many football experts have compared him to fellow German midfielders Michael Ballack and Bastian Schweinsteiger, because of his ability to attack and defend whilst playing in central midfield.

Can has played in both games so far for the under-21 team at the 2015 European Championship in the Czech Republic. In their opening game in Prague, Can scored with a 17th minute equaliser from the edge of the penalty area in a 1–1 draw against Serbia and has since assisted once in the country’s game vs Denmark.