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.

Advertisements

January transfer window improvements: Aston Villa and Chelsea.

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 transfer window period to improve in the second half of the season. Today we look at two struggling Premier League sides; Aston Villa and Chelsea.

Aston Villa

It’s no secret by now that Aston Villa are having another shocking season in the Premier League. The Birmingham based side are rock-bottom of the Premier League going into the Christmas period and have so far shown no real urgency to escape from the relegation places. Too many of their players this term aren’t giving 110% in every match and due to backroom changes and the sacking of Tim Sherwood, the team are really lacking key consistency in team selections among other aspects promising youngster and only bright spark so far this season Jack Grealish is easily distracted by off-field events and the team haven’t won a match since the opening day away at Bournemouth.

Jack Grealish could be a star for Villa if he sorts out his off-field antics.
Jack Grealish could be a star for Villa if he sorts out his off-field antics.

Other than that win on the opening day and impressive draws against Manchester City and Southampton, Aston Villa have shown no real reason as to why they will be a Premier League side next season as they seem completely resigned to relegation this season already at this early stage.

Where to improve?

Where do we even start in terms of improvement with Aston Villa? Quite literally every position at Villa this season could be improved so it’s a case of what positions need the more urgent investment if Villa are going to stay up this season. Flash back to a few years ago and Aston Villa were the surprise package of the 2009-2010 season as the side finished 6th in the league as well as getting to the League cup final and the semi-finals of the FA cup. This was down to one key reason in my opinion; Villa had a very strong midfield. In the middle of the park Aston Villa possessed depth with Stiliyan Petrov, James Milner, Fabian Delph and Steven Sidwell as well as having rapid, flying wingers that included in-form Ashley Young and Stewart Downing at the time. Fast forward five years and it’s clear to see that Villa have no real star quality in midfield, yes they have made signings like that of Adama Traore, Jordan Veretout and Carlos Gil but these players are 19, 22 and 23 and have no Premier League experience between them. There’s no leader in the centre of the park for Villa anymore and in a league like the Premier League, games are won in the midfield battle. For me, this is a major concern for the Midlands side that needs to be addressed in the January transfer window.

A lack of depth upfront is further very worrying. The captures of Jordan Ayew and Rudy Gestede were at first somewhat exciting but both have failed to adapt to Premier League life and unfortunately when you’re in a position like Villa who can’t afford for your forwards to not take chances on a regular basis. Again like I said about Bournemouth in my blog earlier in the week, Aston Villa need a clinical finisher with Premier League experience, a player who won’t give up on a loose pass and who will get the crowd behind the side because at the moment I just can’t see where Aston Villa’s next three points are coming from.

Chelsea

What has happened at Stamford Bridge? Chelsea are in absolute turmoil this season as players look uninterested to give it 100% week in week out for the club as the London sides fans become more and more frustrated at the events unfolding in south-west London. Did the Chelsea players come back as Champions and not expect to have to fight for the right to become Champions this following season? Or was it the foolish behaviour of Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho in regards to his comments made towards ex-club doctor Eva Carneiro which set the club off on the wrong path? A lack of transfer activity in the summer could also be pointed at in regards to why Chelsea have struggled so far as their big names keep failing to produce the magic of last season including Eden Hazard who has lacked confidence this term. Last weekend, the London clubs worst performance and result of the season came in the form of a 1-0 home loss to recently promoted side Bournemouth as things could soon escalate if they lose to Porto on Wednesday night which could see the club lose their place in this terms Champions League competition.

Where to improve?

I can’t see it taking a lot of signings to turn Chelsea’s season around. Regardless of recent results Chelsea still possess a world class squad, a squad that will come together eventually and turn a corner in their season. At most Chelsea should look to bring in two top quality signings to revitalise the scenario at Stamford Bridge. In my opinion the most important signing the Blues could make this January is that of a world class striker. It is being widely reported that Chelsea are ready to offer Zlatan Ibrahimovic a staggering £215k-a-week contract to bring him to Stamford Bridge as Chelsea look to replace Diego Costa whose attitude this season is becoming a worry for Jose Mourinho and fans alike.

Could Zlatan Ibrahimovich move to Stamford Bridge and salvage Chelsea's failing season?
Could Zlatan Ibrahimovich move to Stamford Bridge and salvage Chelsea’s failing season?

Other signings Chelsea could make this January include Antoine Griezmann from Atletico Madrid, Borussia Dortmund’s forward Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Tottenham’s Harry Kane or surprise package Jamie Vardy of Leicester who is the Premier League top scorer thus far. In my opinion any of these options would be fantastic for Chelsea due to the fact that the team are making enough chances in matches this season but are failing to put vital opportunities away. Jamie Vardy would perhaps still be a risk though compared to the other names being touted to join Chelsea in January.

The transfer of a new centre back could further be crucial in helping to turn around Mourinho’s and Chelsea’s faltering season. For me, it is time for Jose to start considering bringing in a big footballing name at the back as with captain John Terry getting older, Chelsea need a leader at the back. A marquee signing in this department could help Chelsea massively as the team’s defence looks very shaky at the moment and is a worry going forward for Chelsea fans at the minute.

This week’s Premier League winners and losers. Week #2

WINNERS

Everton

Despite fan protests in the form of an aeroplane banner asking for the resignation of Bill Kenwright & co prior to the match, Everton sailed to a straight forward and dominating win at Southampton as they ran out 3-0 winners on the South coast. A brace for star forward Romelu Lukaku, deemed unplayable on the day by football pundits and social media users alike, and a smart finish towards the end of the match from Ross Barkley left Southampton without a win from their first two Premier League games this season.

Some Everton fans flew this message prior to kick-off at St Marys
Some Everton fans flew this message prior to kick-off at St Marys

Everton outclassed Southampton for large parts of the game with ruthless counterattacking football especially from the Saints set pieces, the Toffees first goal an example of this, with particularly outstanding performances from Romelu Lukaku, Ross Barkley, Chelsea target John Stones and a rejuvenated  Arouna Koné.

Everton boss Roberto Martinez stated after the game that: “As a team we were outstanding in every department. The scoreline was the real truth. We were superior, we defended well, the intensity was incredible. On the counter-attack we looked unplayable at times. Many moments we were superior and that really pleases you.”

Norwich

Despite losing 3-1 to Crystal Palace last week, a match in which Norwich performed well and were largely unlucky due to a poor refereeing decision, Norwich bounced back this weekend with a 3-1 win of their own against already struggling Sunderland.

Russell Martin opened the scoring fortuitously, inadvertently turning the ball home after Costel Pantilimon parried a Robbie Brady shot. Steven Whittaker slammed home a second after a one-two with Wes Hoolahan, who also assisted in the Canaries’ third from Nathan Redmond after the break.

Duncan Watmore’s late consolation goal for Sunderland on his first team debut was the only moment of happiness for the fans up on Wierside who once again left the Stadium of Light on the back of another home defeat.

Norwich City manager Alex Neil stated after the game that: “I thought it was very good, similar to last week in that we dominated the game. We had the cutting edge this time though. The first goal is crucial – we didn’t look back. I have a great group, they work hard and work as a team.”

Stephen Ireland & Stoke City

The ‘comeback of the weekend’ award this week goes to Stoke City who fought back from 2-0 down at White Hart Lane to draw 2-2 with Tottenham. A particular highlight of the teams comeback was a superb performance off the bench by attacking midfielder Stephen Ireland whose introduction sparked the turnaround for the Midlands club.

Although 2-0 down at half time thanks to goals from Eric Dier and Nacer Chadli for the home side, Stoke came out after the break in a determined style and fashion. Marko Arnautovic pulled a goal back from the penalty spot after Toby Alderweireld brought down Joselu. Man of the match Diouf then secured a point towards the end when the forward got on to the end of Stephen Ireland’s cross.

Diouf put in a 'man of the match' performance for Stoke at White Hart Lane.
Diouf put in a ‘man of the match’ performance for Stoke at White Hart Lane.

It was deserved point for Mark Hughes’ side who diligently kept at their task in the second half, even though a comeback looked unlikely after their first-half display. Mame Diouf had a particularly good game for the Potters, looking threatening throughout the whole match.

LOSERS

Daryl Jaanmat

A weekend to quickly forgot for Newcastle United’s Dutch right-back who was sent off for two bookable offenses shortly before half time in their game away at Swansea this weekend.

Daryl Jaanmat struggled massively against the pacey left sided winger Jefferson Montero who tore the full back apart throughout the whole first half on their encounter at the Liberty Stadium on Saturday afternoon. Janmaat was sent off shortly before half-time for persistently fouling Jefferson Montero.

Newcastle head coach Steve McClaren: “We didn’t learn a lot apart from it is difficult to win with 10 men. A little bit of naivety has cost us, 10 men and your backs are against the wall. We have to dust ourselves down and concentrate on the Manchester United game next week.”

Jose Mourinho

Maybe this weekend’s biggest loser and that was before the match at the Etihad Stadium had even kicked off at 4pm on Sunday against Manchester City.  It only got worse on the pitch too for the Chelsea manager as his side were dismantled by their Premier League rivals, losing 3-0 in an encounter which could have easily seen more goals go in for the home side and Sergio Aguero in particular.

Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho’s turbulent week – shaped by the controversy surrounding the demotion of medical staff Eva Carneiro and Jon Fearn – ended in misery as he saw his side outclassed by a resurgent City. The media backlash that the Chelsea manager has felt in the days following the sacking of his medical team has put Mourinho under massive added pressure as the City fans were relentless in their attempts to try and wind up the Chelsea boss with ironic cheers when a Chelsea player would go down injured in the match.

On the day, Manchester City outclassed their opponents and limited Chelsea to few chances, not recording their first shot on target until the 70th minute of the match as the Manchester club looked hungry to take back the title the Londoners took from them last season with resounding ease.

Sergio Aguero opens the scoring for Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium on Sunday.
Sergio Aguero opens the scoring for Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium on Sunday.

Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho, speaking to BBC Sport after the game at the Etihad Stadium stateed: “We were the best team by far in the second half. What they did in the first we did in the second. We dominated and when they feel they are in trouble, and they felt, they changed Aguero and Sterling. They try to recover control of the game exactly when they scored the second goal. Their goalkeeper was good and we couldn’t score. They were only coming up with long balls. Not one single problem in the second half; they had lots.”

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.

B+

 

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.

A-

 

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.

B

 

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.

A

 

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.

A

 

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.

C