Sheffield Wednesday and Wolverhampton Wanderers played out an entertaining 0-0 draw at Hillsborough. Wolves will feel like they should have taken all three points though, hitting the post and bar and having a clear penalty appeal turned down.
Wednesday manager Carlos Carvalhal made 5 changes coming into this match up with Wolves. Captain Glenn Loovens was a notably absentee, rested after the Owls New Years Eve draw away at Preston. Palmer, Pudil, Wallace and Nuhiu were the other ones to miss out with Hunt, Sasso, McManaman, Lee and Forestieri coming into the starting XI.
Callum McManaman, brought in on loan from Premier League side West Brom in the week made his first start for the club.
Wolves boss Paul Lambert too rang the changes with Connor Ronan, Joe Mason and Jon Dadi Bodvarsson coming into the starting line up for Ivan Cavaleiro, Bright Enobakhare and Nouha Dicko.
The first real chance of the match fell to the home side as Barry Bannan’s free kick was met by the head of centre back Vincent Sasso who saw his effort acrobatically’ tipped over the bar by Wolves ‘keeper Carl Ikeme.
Wolves had a strong appeal for a penalty turned down in the 16th minute as Joe Mason was brought down in the box but referee Simon Hooper decided the ball was played.
The Owls went close again soon enough as shot stopper Ikeme struggled to hold onto a deflected Steven Fletcher effort before blocking Fernando Forestieri’s on target rebound.
Wolves again had another strong penalty appeal turned down by referee Hooper as Westwood looked to have clearly felled Matt Doherty in the box. A decision that boss Paul Lambert clearly felt aggrieved by stating in his post-match press conference “how that wasn’t given was incredible – it was a stonewaller.”
Wanderers should have had the lead in the 40th minute. A cross clipped in from out wide saw a Jon Bodvarsson flick hitting the underside of the Wednesday cross bar. Joe Mason followed up but from just a few yards out managed to balloon his effort over the bar much to the delight of those Wednesday fans sat in the Kop. A possible miss of the season!!
The visitors started the second half brighter as Mason crashed a shot against the post from just outside the area after a mistake from Owls right back Jack Hunt.
Defender Matt Doherty also saw an effort blocked on the line by Wednesday defender Adam Reach as Wolves went in search of a goal to break the deadlock at Hillsborough early on in the second half.
Wednesday struggled to hold the ball for the first 20 minutes of the second half and looked void of any creativity as Wolves looked threatening. Joe Mason with another effort for the Wanderers after going through one on one with Westwood, the Wednesday stopper again thwarting the Midlands side forward.
The Owls had a huge penalty appeal of their own turned down in the 81st minute as Lucas Joao’s attempt was blocked by Wolves’ Richard Stearman, a decision that would have been harsh on the visitors due to Stearman’s close proximity to the Portuguese forward.
Neither side had any other notable chances in the last 10 minutes.
Wolves will feel like they should have left Hillsborough with all three points but Wednesday held on to leave the home side in 6th place and the play-offs whilst the visitors stay in 16th place in the table.
Man of the match: Connor Ronan
Connor Ronan, still only 18 and making his first start for the Midlands outfit, had an eye catching run out at Hillsborough. Always looking to get forward, the winger took on his man on several occasions and offered excitement for the travelling Wolves supporters.
With just over two weeks left until the Euro 2016 party begins, Roy Hodgson still faces some difficult decisions in regards to his chosen England squad and to whom will be in his starting XI for our first game against Russia on Saturday 11th June. After a 2-1 win over Turkey in a close and competitive match at the Etihad Stadium in Manchester and with two more friendlies coming up before the England squad travel to the continent against Australia and Portugal, Hodgson is close to making some big calls on his England team and squad.
Firstly I want to quickly disclose who the three players are that I would drop from the 26 man squad currently participating in the three friendly matches prior to EURO 2016. The three in question are Ryan Bertrand, Andros Townsend and Fabian Delph in my opinion. I think most would agree with that call. Despite having a great season for Southampton, Ryan Betrand misses out for me purely because I don’t think we need two extra full backs in the squad with Nathaniel Clyne too in the 26 man selection. Fabian Delph too for the same reason as I believe Henderson, Lallana, Milner, Alli, Drinkwater and Wilshere are simply stronger players right now and Andros Townsend misses out in my opinion as I don’t think he’s good enough to play for England currently in my honest opinion.
England fixtures at Euro 2016
England vs Russia – Saturday 11th June. 20:00 kick off
England vs Wales – Thursday 16th June. 14:00 kick off
England vs Slovakia – Monday 20th June. 20:00 kick off
The formation Roy Hodgson will adopt for his England side at Euro 2016 is further up for debate. With a lack of pure wingers in the England squad this time around I would personally play a central based diamond formation. Despite the lack of width this formation possesses it offers us stability both going forward and at the back. With Eric Dier in that central defensive midfielder slot it allows the forward five players the chance to roam and attack at will, I want to see this England side attack other teams rather than sitting back and inviting the pressure on.
Joe Hart Goalkeeper
58 England caps
England’s number one, England’s England’s number one. Arguably the most straight forward selection in this team. Even though Burnley’s Tom Heaton had a fantastic season culminating in his sides promotion back to the Premier League and Fraser Forster had another fine season with Southampton resulting in them finishing sixth this term, neither have the pedigree to really worry the Manchester City shot stopper.
Despite Manchester City’s poor performance in the league this term under Manuel Pellegrini, 29 year-old Joe Hart had another solid season for the Citizens keeping an impressive 15 clean sheets in 35 Premier league appearances. As well as that Hart put in some man of the match performances as City reached the Champions League semi-final for the first time in their history. With a low average of only 1.03 goal conceded per match and a 96% claim success rate, Joe Hart is surely a shoo-in for England’s number one spot in France at the 2016 European Championship.
Kyle Walker Right back
15 England caps
This was a difficult call because I really rate Liverpool full back Nathaniel Clyne but for me right now Kyle Walker just edges him out. The Tottenham right-back has had a great season this time around as Spurs secured third spot in the Premier League behind champions Leicester City and bitter rivals Arsenal. With his raw pace, his strength and his composure on the ball, Kyle Walker has excelled over the past few years at the London club.
Still only 25 years of age, although it feels like he has been around for a longer period of time than he actually has, Kyle Walker made 35 appearances this year for Tottenham. In comparison with Nathaniel Clyne who he is in direct competition with, Walker has created more chances, averages a higher amount of defensive actions and has a higher percentage of duels won all whilst making the same amount of appearances as Clyne. Both made 33 appearances and scored one goal each this season. For me Kyle Walker just edges out his competitor on this occasion.
Chris Smalling Centre back
23 England caps
After the solid season he’s had with Manchester United Chris Smalling is England’s number one centre back going into Euro 2016 for me. Up until the 2015/16 season Chris Smalling has had his doubters and rightly so as in past seasons he’s largely struggled to keep the high level of consistency needed to be a starting international with England. However this term he has been a rock at the back for United and would likely be claiming player of the year for the Red Devils if it weren’t for ‘keeper David De Gea.
Making 35 appearances this season for Manchester United, Chris Smalling has made 0 clear defensive errors across those league matches, has on average made three key interceptions per game and has on average completed over 7 tackles per game. Chris Smalling further has the ability to pass the ball out of defence, has developed a better understanding of the game over the course of this season and has the pace to get him out of trouble when needed.
Gary Cahill Centre back
42 England caps
Choosing a centre back to play alongside Chris Smalling was the hardest decision to be made in picking my starting eleven for England at the European Championships come June. My choice is Gary Cahill.
I’m going to be brutally honest here, for me Gary Cahill is playing nowhere near his best at the moment but we need some experience at centre back in France and Cahill has that over Everton’s John Stones. Stones is the better player here although he has struggled at points this season with Everton who had a very poor campaign by their own standards but as I said, this team needs experience and I think Roy will go down the same route.
Despite John Stones having a better pass accuracy and better average duels won stat than Gary Cahill, the youngster has made 4 defensive errors this term in the league and at the international level in a major tournament England simply cannot afford defensive slip ups.
Gary Cahill gets the nod from me over John Stones and seems to be motivated to undo his poor performances at the 2014 World Cup, this week stating; “I have never been as hungry to go. I want to make it right” when discussion Euro 2016.
Danny Rose Left Back
3 England caps
After a solid season with Spurs, Danny Rose has to be England’s starting left-back in France. This is perhaps the easiest selection for Roy Hodgson this summer as Rose has come on leaps and bounds in his last few Premier League seasons.
Due to the fact that I firmly believe Ryan Bertrand will be dropped from the current 26 man squad by manager Roy Hodgson, Danny Rose has hardly any competition for his spot at left-back at Euro 2016, even though Nathaniel Clyne can play there if needed.
Danny Rose has excelled this season, he’s been solid, put in some huge performances for Tottenham and has kept a high level of consistency throughout his 24 appearances in the league during his sides 2015/16 campaign. With only 1 key defensive error to his name this term he has improved the defensive side of his game substantially whilst still obtaining the traits needed to move forward from the full back slot. Creating 24 chances for his teammates in the Premier League this year, Rose’s lightning pace and ability to deliver a quality ball into the box will worry any defender he is put up against at Euro 2016.
Eric Dier Central defensive midfielder
5 England caps
Eric Dier is a fantastic addition to this England squad and could well prove to be one of our country’s key players in France next month. Making his debut for England back in November of last year, Eric Dier only has five caps to his name so far for his country but offers the national side something they have been missing for a long time, an anchor man in midfield. The Tottenham man can play as a central defender if needed too.
Enjoying a break out season with Spurs this year, Eric Dier has had an exceptional season and is already growing into one of England’s best prospects alongside teammate Dele Alli. Joining Tottenham for only £4 million from Sporting Lisbon in 2014, Dier has made 65 appearances for the London side, 37 of them coming in the league this term.
Dier’s presence in this England side is crucial as it allows our forward players the freedom they need, he’s a player that England have missed in recent times to some extent. With the ability to both go forward when needed and stay back defensively, Eric Dier has created some 18 chances for his Tottenham team mates this season in the league whilst suffering 0 key defensive mistakes. The defensive midfielder managed 3 goals for Spurs this year and scored the winner in England’s recent comeback win in Berlin against World champions Germany.
Eric Dier has to start in France at Euro 2016.
Danny Drinkwater Central midfielder
2 England caps
When it comes to international football, form is vital and nobody has been more in-form than central midfielder Danny Drinkwater this season. After all he is a Premier League champion with Leicester City.
Drinkwater is a complete, all-round central midfielder who enjoys both influencing the game going forward but is also prepared to put the effort in to get back and help his respective side out defensively. This year he enjoyed 78% pass accuracy on average and created 44 chances for the likes of Riyad Mahrez and fellow England international Jaime Vardy at Leicester City. As mentioned before he is not scared of tracking back and breaking up opposition play when needed and this season in the league made on average 4 defensive actions per game. His red card against Manchester United at Old Trafford highlights his rash decision making at times though, something Roy should be wary of.
Dele Alli Central midfielder
7 England caps
What an absolute star Dele Alli is. Claiming the ‘Young Player of the Year’ award in the Premier League this season, won by the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale previously, Dele Alli has enjoyed one of the best breakout seasons in Premier League history. Influential in an attacking midfield role, Alli has lit up the league this season with some fantastic man of the match performances for Tottenham and arguably scored the goal of the season against Crystal Palace with an exquisite flick and volley finish from outside the penalty area.
Looking at the stats, Dele Alli managed an impressive 10 goals and 9 assists from midfield this season for Spurs in 33 league appearances as well as two further assists in his 7 Europa League starts.
Dele Alli is English footballs brightest talent right now, simple as that.
In this formation it can be expected that Dele Alli and Wayne Rooney would casually swap positions during the match from time to time.
Wayne Rooney (C) Central attacking midfielder
109 England caps
England’s captain and record goal scorer but arguably one of the players least wanted in England’s starting XI at Euro 2016 according to most fans. Wayne Rooney has suffered a major slip in form over the past couple of seasons and has rarely lived up to the standard of football the Manchester United forward once dazzled the Premier League with.
However Wayne Rooney’s position in the England squad is interesting. In a recent press conference he stated that he saw himself more as a central midfielder than a striker nowadays after a few recent positive performances for the Red Devils in a central role. Rightly so. This season Rooney can’t be compared to Harry Kane and Jaime Vardy going forward due to the sheer amount of goals the pair has in comparison but his influence is still there. Wayne is an extremely hard working player and since he lost that extra bit of pace, his defensive displays have become much stronger. His vast international experience is vital too as this England side lacks in their sheer amount of England caps.
In my opinion Wayne Rooney has more drive than Adam Lallana, Jordan Henderson and Jack Wilshere to name but a few and due to his nature as England’s highest ever goal scorer and captain, it would be foolish to drop him going into a major tournament. His 7 goals in our Euro 2016 qualifiers show he still has an eye for goal.
As mentioned before his positioning in this formation if it were to be adopted by Roy Hodgson would be flexible as him and Dele Alli would frequently swap positions during matches.
Jamie Vardy Striker
6 England caps
Mr Roy of the Rovers himself, Jamie Vardy has brought a fresh of breath air with him into the England set up. His true underdog story has inspired a nation and his inclusion in the England squad has excited many a fan since his debut against Ireland back in June last year. On his day Jaime Vardy can be lethal, best highlighted with his 24 goals for new Premier League champions Leicester City in his 36 league appearances this year. Jaime Vardy finished as the second highest scorer in the Prem this season coming only second to England partner and Spurs striker Harry Kane.
Vardy has all the key attributes a forward needs to succeed at the highest level. His pace is electric; his finishing is magnificent whilst his decision making is strong for a forward. As well as his 24 league goals for Leicester, Vardy further assisted on 6 occasions and created a further 40 chances this season for the Midlands side. Vardy had a total of 93 attempts on goal this season with 57% of those efforts landing on target, a higher percentage than Manchester City’s Sergio Aguero. The striker is not shy to get his foot stuck in either, winning 37% of his duels this term which for a forward is very good reading.
With 4 goals in his last 4 England matches Vardy could prove to be England’s talisman in France. In this selection I fully believe that Jaime Vardy compliments Harry Kane very well and could form an explosive partnership with his England colleague at the European Championships in June.
Harry Kane Striker
11 England caps
Last but not least comes Tottenham forward Harry Kane. The striker, who largely carried Spurs to their highest ever Premier League finish, has been in scintillating form this season once again. With 25 goals in 38 league appearances, Harry Kane deservedly grabbed this seasons Premier League golden boot award from under the nose of England counterpart Jaime Vardy.
Over the last two seasons no player in the Premier League has scored more goals than Kane who has 46 goals in 70 league appearances for Spurs. His impressive goal scoring record has led many a football fan and critic alike to believe that Kane will overtake Alan Shearer for the title of most Premier League goals later on in his career. With 124 attempts at goal over the course of the 2015/16 EPL campaign, with a 60% shots on target ratio, it is evident that the Spurs forward is not shy in front of goal. At the international level the talisman has further impressed since making his debut against Lithuania last March, scoring on five occasions in only 11 matches for England’s first team.
Alongside Jamie Vardy, Harry Kane could be prolific; the pair complement each other perfectly. Kane is a complete centre forward. He has the finishing, the height, the strength and the composure that all world class forwards need and with the Tottenham man still only at the young age of 22, Harry Kane has a very bright future ahead of him for the England team.
At third place in terms of most goals conceded this year behind rivals Sunderland and Norwich, it is evident that Newcastle United should be looking to improve their defence in the last five days of the January transfer window. Instead with stories flying around at various online newspapers and the NUFC hashtag on Twitter becoming inundated with transfer rumours bringing Lacazette and Remy to the club, we ask is it really a new striker that Newcastle United need before the end of the January transfer window?
In the words of Sir Alex Ferguson, “Attack wins you games, defence wins you titles.” For Newcastle then maybe it is a case of winning games right now to avoid relegation come the end of the season but what about in five seasons time? Will they be in a similar position again because the Newcastle board have failed to make the right signings over and over again. You only have to look down the road to Sunderland to see a similar example. For years now Sunderland have struggled and if you look at the transfers the club has made it’s clear to see why. Big money spent on the forward line and not enough quality brought in defensively. Unfortunately for football fans in the north-east it’s becoming a normal sight to see the two sides towards the wrong end of the Premier League table.
Prior to the signing of Jonjo Shelvey whom on a side note will create more chances as seen on his debut which will inevitably bring goals for the team, Newcastle had spent £41,000,000 from the summer transfer window onwards on attackers. Granted it takes time for players to settle in, especially in a league as demanding and challenging as the Premier League, but when you compare the £12,000,000 spent on so far flop Florent Thauvin and the £8,400,000 spent on strong centre back Chancel Mbemba, every Geordie will be in agreement over who the better purchase has been so far. With news breaking that Spurs winger Andros Townsend is joining the club for around £11 million, fans will once again be excited with the proposition but in my mind, that’s another huge sum of money that can’t be used to strengthen the team in more urgent areas. With a very young core of Wijnaldum, Mitrovic, Perez, Sissohko, Shelvey, Thauvin, Saivat and 18 year old Adam Armstrong out on loan at Coventry City who has 16 goals so far this season, I fail to see the real problem upfront for Newcastle. There’s no patience at Newcastle United any more, granted we all know the story of Mike Ashley and how he has sometimes run the club in a manner that the majority of the fans don’t like but compared to Norwich, Bournemouth, Sunderland, Aston Villa, West Brom, Swansea and the list can go, Newcastle have a developing squad that in a few years will be very strong going forward.
On the other hand however in defence it is clear to see the teams’ quite serious weaknesses. The backline is reliant on 33 year old Fabricio Coloccini who yes has had a fantastic career on Tyneside but this season in particular has shown his unreliable side and has at times come under heavy scrutiny from Newcastle fans. Aside from Mbemba who has proved a fantastic purchase so far and will only improve during his stay in the Premier League, the main form of back up in the central defensive position comes in the form of 31 year old Mike Williamson, a player who went on loan to a Championship club this season and has always been a target for the Newcastle boo boys. Jamaal Lascelles is one for the future, Steven Taylor has unfortunately become a bit more injury prone in the later stages of his career and other than that, Newcastle are struggling at centre back. Daryl Janmaat is solid at the right back spot but has no cover if he gets injured while Paul Dummett can be a bit up and down in terms of form, similar to Massadio Haïdara.
Without a doubt, a new striker would be an exciting proposition for the fans of Newcastle United especially if a star striker such as Loic Remy or Alexander Lacazette is signed however the defensively frailties will still be present going into the second half of the season and personally I think to leave the defence in the same state that it’s already in is too big of a gamble to take in the position that Newcastle United are currently in.
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.
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.
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
We look at and rank some of the summer transfers already completed in the Premier League. From Liverpool to Swansea, can these signings make a name for themselves at their new clubs this season?
Roberto Firmino – Liverpool
Starting his career with Figueirense in 2009, Firmino spent four-and-a-half seasons at Hoffenheim, helping them to promotion to the Bundesliga in the process. His 16 goals in 33 games for the 2013–14 Bundesliga season earned him the award for the league’s ‘Breakthrough player of the season’. The Brazillian attacking midfielder signed for Liverpool back in July for a sum of around £29 million.
Roberto Firmino has stated upon his arrival in the Premier League that “of course, everything will once again be new to me at the start. I’m going to have to get used to a new style of play but I’ll also get the opportunity to improve my game even further. Of course, I want to be a regular starter at Liverpool and be successful with my new team.”
Although a huge sum of money was needed to acquire the services of Roberto Firmino for Liverpool, I believe that he has the skill and technical capability to thrive in front of the Kop at Anfield. A midfield three of Firmino, Lallana and Coutinho sat behind Daniel Sturrdige could prove to be a winning formula for the Merseyside club next season in their quest for a top four finish.
Cedric Soares – Southampton
Cedric Soares, known simply as Cedric, is a Portuguese right back whom became Southampton’s second signing of the summer when he joined on a four-year deal in June. The 23 year old has a growing reputation due to his strong performances at former club Sporting Lisbon and his representation of Portugal at every level from Under-16 upwards, gaining 72 youth caps in total. Cedric further has 4 caps for senior Portuguese national side. Cedric is known for his attacking instincts and ability and desire to bomb forward from full-back. These are attributes which should suit him well at Southampton, who utilised the attacking combinations of full-backs Nathaniel Clyne and Ryan Bertrand to great effect last season.
In an interview with Southampton’s official website, Cedric stated that “everyone knows that the Premier League is a very, very good league – maybe the best one in the world – so for me it’s a pleasure to be here, but even more of a pleasure to be in Southampton. Southampton is a big, big club in England and is very respected. It’s a club with a lot of history and, for me, it’s very important to play for a big club. I think this is a very good move.”
Southampton’s move for Cedric Soares was key for the club to fill the vacant position left behind by Nathaniel Clyne who has since moved to Premier League rivals Liverpool. With a rumoured transfer fee of only £5 million involved, Southampton have got a great deal here. The pacey right back will be a consistent player for Southampton next year as the club look to further improve in the future.
Toby Alderweireld – Tottenham
Tottenham signed Toby Alderweireld for an undisclosed fee from Atletico Madrid on a five-year contract earlier this month. Alderweireld, who was on loan at Southampton last season from the La Liga side, is a solid signing for the North London club. The 26-year-old Belgium defender made 26 Premier League appearances last season. The defender has spoken about his move to Spurs stating that he was “looking forward to this but also looking back at a great Southampton season. Great club and fans,” he said. Alderweireld added he was “very proud” to be a Tottenham player and hoped “to have a wonderful time with this team”.
It is still been rumoured however that the Saints may take legal action against the transfer as the club believed they had an option to buy the centre-back for £6.8m unless Atletico paid £1.5m to buy back that clause but are understood to have not proceeded with this option. The centre back has 47 caps for Belgium and joins international team-mates Nacer Chadli, Mousa Dembele and Jan Vertonghen at White Hart Lane. “It’s a big club and it’s always been a dream to play at a club like Spurs,” he told Tottenham’s website further adding “now that dream is coming true so I’m very happy, very proud and I will give my best.”
Alderweireld started his career at Ajax and won three Dutch Eredivisie titles in nine seasons at the club. He moved to Atletico Madrid in September 2013 and, in his only season at the club before moving to Southampton, helped them to the Spanish league title and final of the Champions League, which they lost to rivals Real Madrid.
This signing is shrewd business for Tottenham who have substantially improved their back line with the acquisition of Toby Alderweireld. The transfer is said to be worth around £8 million which could prove to be a steal for the North London club.
Dimitri Payet – West Ham United
What a signing this could prove to be for West Ham! A team that is use to mid table obscurity within recent seasons, this transfer signals a real intent at the London club to make strides forward and to possibly challenge for a top eight finish next season.
West Ham United completed the signing of the Marseille forward Dimitri Payet for a fee believed to be £10.7m in late June. The east London club announced that Payet, 28, have signed a five-year deal with a further one-year option and becomes a major addition to the playing squad under their new manager, Slaven Bilic.
“West Ham really showed me that they wanted me to come, both the joint-chairmen [David Gold and David Sullivan] and the manager,” Payet told the club’s website. “That’s very important for me. I was also keen to sign up to a clear project. West Ham’s is very interesting and matches perfectly with my ambitions. “I’m an attacking footballer and that they’re counting on me to help achieve that gives me a sense of responsibility. It’s true that it’s taken a little while but that’s normal negotiations are like that. But now that it’s done, I’m very happy.”
The versatile Payet topped the Ligue 1 assist charts last season with 16 in 36 appearances, as well as scoring seven goals for a Marseille side who came fourth in Ligue 1 last season. He can play in a number of attacking positions, adding depth and variation to a frontline. Payet, who spent two seasons at Marseille after playing for Nantes, Saint-Étienne and Lille, also has 15 caps for France.
This is a fantastic singing for the Hammers who are developing an exciting forward line which further includes Mauro Zarate, Enner Valencia and Diafra Sahko. Although a large transfer fee for a mid-table team, Payet will be a success at West Ham and in the Premier League in general.
Yohann Cabaye – Crystal Palace
Today, Crystal Palace have completed the signing of Yohan Cabaye from French champions Paris St-Germain for a club-record transfer fee of £10m. Palace have announced that the 29-year-old midfielder has joined on a three-year deal, with the fee possibly rising to around £13m with add-ons. Cabaye joined PSG from Newcastle for £19m in January 2014 but started just 13 matches as Laurent Blanc’s side won a domestic treble last season. Further, Palace manager Alan Pardew signed Cabaye from Lille in 2011 during his time as Newcastle boss, with the France international going on to score 18 goals in 93 appearances for the Magpies.
Cabaye said he was focused on his “new life” and believed that Palace could “compete to get into the top eight”. He said: “I also know the gaffer and have worked with him before and I’m confident with him. I want to do my best for him because he’s made a big effort to get me to come here, as well as the chairman.”
Signing Cabaye is a huge coup for Crystal Palace, a club who until 12 months ago had never survived relegation from the Premier League. Cabaye comes in and adds true quality and an eye for goal to the midfield of a team which played superbly under Pardew in the second half of last season.
Just like Payet at West Ham United, Yohann Cabaye represents a huge outlay for Crystal Palace but brings a sense of intrigue and class to their central midfield position. The signing of the French international could propel Palace further up the league table and could see them achieve a top ten finish in the 2015/2016 season under Alan Pardew.
Joselu – Stoke City
Stoke City confirmed that they had signed Hannover 96 striker Joselu for a fee of €8 million (£5.7m) in late June. The striker became the club’s second acquisition of the summer, after goalkeeper Jakob Haugaard, with the club announcing that they have paid £5.7 million for the forward. Joselu – full name Jose Luis Sanmartin Mato – is a 6ft 3in striker, a good finisher whom possesses the pace to stretch defences. For Hannover last season, the 25-year-old Joselu won 188 aerial duels, more than any player in the Premier League managed.
The 25-year-old, who joined Real Madrid as a teenager before leaving for the Bundesliga, becomes the third Spaniard at the Britannia Stadium alongside Bojan Krkic and Marc Muniesa. Joselu scored eight goals in 30 Bundesliga appearances last season, whilst also providing four assists, and it has been reported that the deal could cost over £7 million in total, when both wages and transfer fee are factored in.
Prior to his stint at Bundesliga side Hannover, Joselu played for Real Madrid Castilla (B team) for two full seasons, pairing up with Alvaro Morata – now of Juventus – in the forward positions. He scored 40 goals in 72 games between 2010 and 2012 for Castilla and managed to score in both first team matches he played a part in.
This transfer further emphasises Stoke City and Mark Hughes move to a more possession and skill based style of play as opposed to a previous style which was based on physicality and long balls under Tony Pulis. However Joselu’s height, at 6ft 3, gives Hughes many options in how to play the forward next season at the Britannia Stadium.
Andre Ayew – Swansea City
In what could be the transfer coup of the summer so far, Ghana forward André Ayew has joined Swansea on a four-year deal, subject to international clearance on a free transfer. The 25-year-old midfielder was out of contract at Marseille and will now join the Premier League club who have been looking to strengthen their forward options since Wilfried Bony was sold to Manchester City in January.
Ayew, who was on target against the United States and Germany at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, has won more than 60 caps for Ghana, playing in four African Cup of Nations and two World Cups, and had scored 52 goals in 181 games for Marseille since making his debut in 2007 for the Ligue 1 side.
On Sky Sports News, Andre Ayew said “I looked left and right and I thought Swansea was the best choice for me to grow as player, not only football-wise but I heard about the squad, how the players live together and the team spirit. So I thought it was great to come to Swansea because I know how positive it is here. I’m going to do everything to be ready to adapt but I’m lucky because I’ve played against a lot of English players in the Champions League. I’ll have a pre-season to get ready before the season starts, so I’ll have time to adapt.”
With an impressive record of scoring from midfielder, Andre Ayew looks like he will fit in well at the Liberty Stadium alongside other midfielders such as Jonjo Shelvey, who just signed a new four year deal, and Gylfi Sigurðsson. To further get a player of his stature on a free transfer, Swansea have taken another great step in the right direction.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.