CHAMPIONS LEAGUE RETURNS: TEAMS TO BACK TONIGHT.

MANCHESTER CITY VS JUVENTUS

Without a shadow of doubt the main clash of tonight’s Champions League fixtures comes from the Etihad Stadium as unbeaten Premier League leaders Manchester City play host to Italian champions Juventus. In their recent Champions League history Manchester City have struggled to cope with some of Europe’s top teams and have endure disappointing campaigns in the competition, however this year could be different. The Manchester side have splashed a whopping £142.36 million this summer alone on transfers including the big money acquisitions of Raheem Sterling, Nicolas Otamendi and not to forget Kevin De Bruyne which means that Manuel Pellegrini has massive strength in depth for this upcoming season.

As for Juventus, the Italian champions have always had massive pedigree in the European competitions, reaching last years final, but have suffered a poor start in defending their Serie A title this season. The Italian giants have had a very busy transfer window in which the ‘Old Lady’ have lost several key players. Along with Carlos Tevez, Arturo Vidal and Andrea Pirlo have left the Turin club in a major reshuffle. Juventus have since invested in youth, particularly highlighted through their purchase of striker Paulo Dybala from Palermo.

Paulo Dybala could be the future for Juventus.
Paulo Dybala could be the future for Juventus.

In terms of tonight however Manchester City’s star striker Sergio Aguero picked up an injury in his sides weekend fxture at Crystal Palace and will miss tonights action. However both Raheem Sterling and David Silva are available for selection after overcoming hamstring and ankle injuries.

Prediction: DRAW

Real Madrid vs FC Shakhtar Donetsk – Back Real Madrid
PSV vs Manchester United – Back the draw
Paris St G vs Malmo FF – Back Paris St G
VfL Wolfsburg vs CSKA Moscow – Back VfL Wolfsburg
Benfica vs FC Astana – Back Benfica
Galatasaray vs Atletico Madrid – Back Atletico Madrid
Sevilla vs Borussia Monchengladbach – Back Sevilla

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Manchester United – Who is Van Gaal looking to sign?

Rumours have been heating up concerning Manchester United’s transfer activity and targets during this summer’s transfer window.

Manchester United are interested in signing Bayern Munich veteran midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger and Real Madrid star defender Sergio Ramos according to various media reports and articles. Manchester United boss Louis van Gaal is trying to strengthen his squad this summer transfer window after the club finished fourth in the Premier League last season. German international Schweinsteiger, 30, and 29-year-old Spain player Ramos are among those who are said to interest the United boss.

Sergio Ramos is said to be stalling over a new contract at Real Madrid.
Sergio Ramos is said to be stalling over a new contract at Real Madrid.
Bastian Schweinsteiger could help bolster Manchester United's  midfielder next season.
Bastian Schweinsteiger could help bolster Manchester United’s midfielder next season.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ramos’ contract with Real Madrid expires in 2017, while Schweinsteiger’s Bayern deal only runs until 2016 meaning that a deal for either could be made cheaper due to the short length of time both have left on their contracts at their respective clubs. A deal for Sergio Ramos however could see stopper David De Gea move in the opposite direction to the Bernabeu and Madrid.

An ideal move for Van Gaal would be to offload Robin Van Persie, Nani and Javier Hernandez this summer whilst bringing in a new, big name forward who can produce a twenty goal plus seasonto help out Wayne Rooney. The clubs move for Falcao backfired last summer as the Colombian largely struggled with the pace and physicality of the Premier League however his international team mate Jackson Martinez could be a great singing for the Red Devils. Martinez has had another great season at FC Porto and his physical style of play coupled with his great finishing could see him become a fan favourite at Old Trafford if he makes a switch to the Premier League in the off season. Manchester United have also been linked to English international Harry Kane and have already brought in PSV Eindhoven winger Memphis Depay for £31m. Hoffenheims versatile Brazilian attacking midfielder Roberto Firmino has further been linked with a move to Old Trafford.

Van Gaal is particularly keen to recruit a right-back too as he eyes Southampton English international Nathaniel Clyne who is a player in demand this summer.

Top transfers that could happen this summer transfer window

As the 2014/2015 football season draws to a close we look at some of the major transfers that could occur this summer and decide how likely each signing is.

Arturo Vidal – Manchester United

Juventus’ Chilean midfielder Arturo Vidal is one of Louis Van Gaal’s top transfer targets this summer as he looks to create another title challenging team at Old Trafford. Arturo Vidal has been at Juventus since 2011 joining for €10.5 million on a five-year contract from Bundesliga side Bayer Leverkusen in which time he has won the Serie A four times as well as three other major domestic trophies. Vidal has played as a box-to-box midfielder for most of his career as the South American is capable of assisting his team-mates in both defence and attack leading to the Italian press nicknaming him as ‘The Warrior’. The Chilean possesses all round fantastic attributes including pace, technique, stamina, marking, positioning, tackling and anticipation which leaves him as a desired target for the other major European clubs as Vidal has become one of the best complete midfielders currently in the world. Early reports suggest that a fee of around £40 million would be needed to prise the player away from Italy but with Manchester United’s huge summer budget, a deal could easily take place between the two clubs.

Premier League rivals Arsenal are also lining up a bid for the Juventus star according to many media sources, apart from ESPN who state that Arsene Wenger is not looking to do any business with the Turin club.

Chance of transfer – 70%

Paul Pogba – Manchester City/Chelsea

Another Juventus midfielder that could be leaving the Serie A this summer for the Barclays Premier League is Paul Pogba. The gifted French youngster is rapidly becoming one of the most influential midfielders on the continent as this season he has played a massive part in both Juventus’ Serie A title and the teams charge towards the Champions League final against Barcelona. Pogba, who was released by Manchester United in 2012, received the prestigious Golden Boy award for 2013 and has since become one of the best young players in the world, winning the 2014 World Cup tournament’s ‘Best young player’ award. Scoring an impressive 20 goals in 89 appearances from midfield for Juventus, Paul Pogba is a well-rounded box-to-box midfielder who is capable of changing a game both in attack and defence.

Both Manchester City and Chelsea are keen on a deal that would bring the French midfielder, still only 22 years old, to the Premier League this summer with Metro reporting that it is in fact Chelsea in pole position for his signature this summer.

Chance of transfer – 65%

Christian Benteke – Liverpool

It’s no secret that Christian Benteke wants a move away from Aston Villa this summer. The striker has recently stated that he wants to play European football next season; something the Midlands club can’t offer their star forward. Scoring 42 times in 88 appearances for Villa, Benteke is known for his strength and powerful all-round play as well as his finishing. The 24 year old’s impressive goal scoring ratio in the Barclays Premier League has alerted Merseyside side Liverpool in particular as Brenden Rodgers looks for a striker to couple up with Daniel Sturridge. The striker has a £32.5 million release clause in his current contract at Aston Villa, a small fortune that Liverpool could afford.

Chance of transfer – 95%

Radamel Falcao – Chelsea

Although massively out of form during his loan spell at Manchester United this season, Premier League rivals Chelsea are said to be interested in making a move for Colombian striker Radamel Falcao during this summer’s transfer window. With a fee of around £25 million been discussed between Chelsea and AS Monaco over a potential transfer, Falcao could be returning to the Premier League next season.

Chance of transfer – 60%

Raheem Sterling – Real Madrid

Sterling was part of the youth set up at London football club Queens Park Rangers prior to a move to Liverpool under Rafa Benitez at the time in 2010 for an initial fee of £650,000, expected to have since moved up to the £5 million mark. Since then, Sterling has shone for the Reds making 91 appearances for the team and scoring 18 goals in all competitions in the past four seasons. Although struggling this season for Liverpool, the youngster enjoyed the 2013/2014 season where Liverpool boss Brenden Rodgers introduced him into his Premier League starting XI towards the middle part of the season. In 2014 Sterling further claimed the prestigious ‘Golden Boy’ award, previously won by Lionel Messi in 2005, recognising him as the best under-21 player playing in Europe during that season.

After Sterling’s agent Aidy Ward last week claimed ‘he’d even reject £900,000-a-week if Liverpool offered it’, it is almost certain that Sterling will not be a Liverpool player by the start of next season even though the club have stated that he is not for sale at any price. Real Madrid are slowly becoming the favourites in the race for the Liverpool youngster, especially as Rafa Benitez looks set to take charge at the Bernabeu. This transfer race has a long way to go yet though with Manchester United, Manchester City, Chelsea and Arsenal all further interested in the forward.

Chance of transfer – 80%

Jackson Martinez – Arsenal

Jackson Martinez has been in fine form again this season for Portuguese side FC Porto. The Colombian striker, also captain at the club, has hit 21 goals in 29 Liga Sagres games for Porto this season as the club finished second behind rivals Benfica. Columnist Tim Vickery has previously described Jackson as “an out-and-out goalscorer, a front-to-goal centre-forward who can finish off both feet”. The Colombian striker has been Primeira Liga top scorer in all three of his seasons at FC Porto.

The Daily Express has reported that Jackson Martinez has permission to join Arsenal or Liverpool this summer although Arsenal are very heavy favourites to sign the Colombian forward from FC Porto as the striker is said to want regular Champions League football.

Chance of transfer – 95%

Dani Alves – Manchester United

Barcelona’s Brazilian right back Dani Alves could be moving to the Premier League this season according to some media reports. The Guardian is reporting that Premier League club Manchester United believe that they’re in pole position to sign the 32 year old from the Spanish giants. With Dani Alves becoming a free agent this summer, Barcelona have little power in stopping the Brazilian making a move across Europe. French giants PSG are also said to be interested in a deal for the right back however manager Laurent Blanc has stated that he believes the player will remain at Barcelona for the foreseeable future.

Chance of transfer – 70%

Nathaniel Clyne – Liverpool

Liverpool’s need for a quality right back is desperate as Glen Johnson has struggled this season under pressure. Nathaniel Clyne, only 24 years old, has had an outstanding and very consistent season for south coast Premier League club Southampton and as the right back is only valued at around £15 million, could prove to be a steal for the Merseyside club. Formerly an international at under-19 and under-21 level, Clyne made his senior international debut for England in November 2014 after an impressive start to the 2014/2015 season. He began his career at London club Crystal Palace, playing regularly in four Championship seasons before a move to Southampton, where he has played three seasons in the Premier League.

Chance of transfer – 80%

Morgan Schneiderlin – Manchester United/Arsenal

Southampton’s central defensive midfielder Morgan Schneiderlin is one of the most sought after transfers this summer. It is said that Manchester United and Tottenham are interested in the Frenchman however Arsenal are favourites to win the race for his signature. Regardless of this though, Schneiderlin himself has stated a desire to play for Manchester United with it been reported that he has told his close friends that a move to the Red Devils would be his preferred destination according to the Daily Star.

The midfielder has stated a desire to play in the Champions League consistently, something both Manchester United and Arsenal can offer. It is expected that in order to sign the French international both teams will have to part with around £25 million.

Chance of transfer – 90%

Where will Raheem Sterling be playing next season?

The latest new reports on the situation involving young Liverpool star Raheem Sterling state that the main reason behind the players proposed move away from Merseyside is due to his desire to move back home to London where he grew up as a child, the Daily Star reports. Prior to his move to the UK, Sterling in fact grew up in the country of Jamaica leaving for London at the age of 7. Sterling was part of the youth set up at London football club Queens Park Rangers prior to a move to Liverpool under Rafa Benitez at the time in 2010 for an initial fee of £650,000, expected to have since moved up to the £5 million mark. Since then, Sterling has shone for the Reds making 91 appearances for the team and scoring 18 goals in all competitions in the past four seasons.

Although struggling this season for Liverpool, the youngster enjoyed the 2013/2014 season where Liverpool boss Brenden Rodgers introduced him into his Premier League starting XI towards the middle part of the season. With strong performances came a place for Sterling within Roy Hodgsons England set up and further guaranteed his seat on the flight to Brazil for the 2014 World Cup where he showed his promise as one of the teams only highlights in a dismal campaign on the world stage. In 2014 Sterling further claimed the prestigious ‘Golden Boy’ award, previously won by Lionel Messi in 2005, recognising him as the best under-21 player playing in Europe during that season. His natural rapid pace coupled with his all-round general play which has improved dramatically since moving to Merseyside, has meant that Raheem Sterling has become one of the emerging talents on the world footballing stage.

Will Liverpool sell one of their star assets this summer?
Will Liverpool sell one of their star assets this summer?

After Sterling’s agent Aidy Ward last week claimed ‘he’d even reject £900,000-a-week if Liverpool offered it’, it is almost certain that Sterling will not be a Liverpool player by the start of next season even though the club have stated that he is not for sale at any price. Therefore with news that Sterling wants to move back to London where could the young footballing star end up? Manchester City and Manchester United are now unlikely destinations for the England international with Chelsea and Arsenal now leading the race for his signature. It is further possible that Sterling too could in fact move abroad, maybe to reunite with Rafa Benitez at Real Madrid if the Spaniard completes a move to the Santiago Bernabéu. Barcelona star midfielder Xavi stated in November 2014 that Sterling was in fact good enough to play for the La Liga club, praising his physical and technical qualities.

It can be stated that after a disappointing season with Liverpool on the whole, Raheem Sterling will want to once again play in the Champions League this time around as the youngster looks to develop into one of the world’s best attacking footballers.

Latest odds on where Sterling will be playing next season – http://www.paddypower.com/bet/football-specials/transfer-specials/Raheem-Sterling%27s-Next-Permanent-Club-7740854.html?force_racing_css=N.

What next for Liverpool F.C.?

What does life after Steven Gerrard mean for the Merseyside club?

To say that Liverpool have relied on their captain for 10-12+ years would be an understatement. Gerrard has stuck with the Merseyside club through thick and thin down the years and fully deserves his ‘legend’ title both within the North-Western city but also in the world of football in general. With his move to the L.A Galaxy in the rapidly developing MLS however, their once captain leaves a massive void within the club both on and off the pitch. Understandably in recent years, Gerrard has slowed down and made fewer appearances at the club but his presence will be sorely missed.

First of all, there doesn’t need to be a change in management. Brendan Rodgers will be the first to admit that his team have underwhelmed this season both in the league and the cup competitions but his young age and previous managerial record show that his knowledge within the sport is only going to grow further. It needs to be addressed too that Liverpool fans themselves need to understand that the club will not find another Steven Gerrard figure in this summer’s transfer market and need to possess patience in the near future.

This summer it will be the clubs new potential new signings that will have to do all the talking. First of all, Liverpool desperately need a new central defensive midfielder as Lucas Leiva has had a poor season. Emre Can could provide cover in that position but Rodgers seems to like the German international in a back three system. Liverpool need a defensive powerhouse that will shield the back two and give Henderson the freedom to move forward up the pitch. Victor Wanyama would fit perfectly within this role after having another fantastic season at Southampton and importantly he is tried and tested in the BPL. Yann M’Vila of Rubin Kazan, Axel Witsel of Zenit and Fernando from Shakhtar Donetsk could also fit this demanding role in front of the Kop next season.

Victor Wanyama in action for Southampton.
Victor Wanyama in action for Southampton.

It is not difficult to see that Liverpool have struggled massively in terms of goal scoring either this term as Gerrard himself is top scorer for the team with 12 goals in all competitions subject to this weekend’s final game of the season away at Stoke. Gonzalo Higuaín would cost too much for the club with transfers needed elsewhere on the team however both Aston Villa’s inform Christian Benteke, subject to very heavy rumours http://goo.gl/bvzQNB, and Lyon’s hometown hero Alexandre Lacazette could offer solutions for Rodgers, when Sturridge is out injured, for close to the £20 million mark.

Benteke could make the  move to Anfield this summer.
Benteke could make the move to Anfield this summer.

The Merseyside club further need to make a move for an attacking right-back to fit into Rodgers formation and tactics as Glen Johnson is phased out of the club. The front-runner according to various news articles, including Metro http://goo.gl/UaroqI, is Real Madrid’s Dani Carvajal after the Spanish giants signing of Danilo from Porto for £23 million.

Carvajal is subject to strong rumours.
Carvajal is subject to strong rumours.

A new back up goalkeeper and centre back could be on the agenda too as the club look to drop unwanted contracts whilst bringing depth into the overall squad for next season. Peter Cech has been subject to heavy press rumours linking him with a move to Liverpool this summer as he plays second best to teammate Thibaut Courtois at rivals Chelsea however the Reds are more likely to revisit Fiorentina to pick up Brazilian stopper Neto for close to £2 million. At centre-back Rodgers needs strength in-depth. Skrtel has had his usual solid season but Lovren has struggled whilst Sakho has suffered various injury setbacks throughout the course of the year.

Other depth signings could include James Milner whom is sought after by Liverpool and Asier Illarreamendi for £15 million from Real Madrid.