Everton and American goalkeeper Tim Howard could be heading back to Major League Soccer with the Colorado Rapids as the likely destination if the rumours are to be believed.
Rumours had been put on the back burner for a few days but have recently one again got very interesting as a source close to Howard has said that the shot stopper has held “serious talks” with Colorado and after over 10 years at Goodison Park it looks highly likely that Howard will sign with the Rapids in May as he supposedly wants a return to the U.S.
If all goes to plan in the transfer negotiations between Everton and MLS then Tim Howard could sign this month but would only move to Colorado in May following the conclusion of the 2015-16 Premier League season.
Despite having a solid career with the Merseyside club and having several good games this season, some Everton fans have voiced there concerns about Howard and certain performances this term, most notably for dropping howlers and making key mistakes in the matches against Arsenal, Chelsea and Swansea.
Further reinforcing the notion that goalkeeper Tim Howard could be on the verge of making a surprising potential move back to MLS, last Monday the Colorado Rapids announced they had traded starting goalkeeper Clint Irwin to Toronto FC for targeted allocation money, their highest natural third round selection in this year’s MLS SuperDraft and a conditional first round selection in the 2017 MLS SuperDraft. Plus Colorado currently holds the number one allocation ranking in MLS after making a trade with the Chicago Fire for that position less than two weeks ago.
That means any current U.S. national team player looking to sign with the MLS will be offered to them first and Colorado’s Vice President of Soccer Operations, Paul Bravo, has been quoted as saying that the move up to No. 1 in the allocation order is “the most significant deal we’ve done in this club’s history.”
Howard’s boss at Everton, Roberto Martinez, was asked by the media following Sunday’s defeat to Swansea if the Rapids had been in contact with Everton regarding the transfer of Tim Howard to which he answered; “At the moment there is nothing.”
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.
Liverpool look like a completely different and rejuvenated side since the clubs hierarchy took the decision to swap in Jurgen Klopp for Brendan Rodgers in late October. The German manager has breathed fresh confidence into his players since his arrival on Merseyside and has reaped the rewards, watching his Liverpool side progressing in the Europa League whilst also reaching the semi-finals of the Capital One Cup thanks to the 6-1 dismantling of Southampton at St Mary’s in early December.
Where to improve?
Now this is a very tricky question. Let’s start with wingers. Ever since I was a young boy Liverpool have been a very attacking outfit but recently they’ve lost their way a bit going forward. Don’t get me wrong Liverpool still possess the players capable of playing the opposition off the park and yes, we’ve seen that this year with the 4-1 win away at Manchester City among other results but at the same time, the Merseysiders have also become a team that have become prone to lower the odd game to ‘lesser’ Premier League sides. For me Jurgen Klopp needs to bring a couple of quality flying wingers to excite the Anfield crowd again. Players like Adam Lallana, Philippe Coutinho and Roberto Firmino are fantastic but when deployed in a wide position, as Rodgers often did, they are not effective enough. The main problem for me with Brendan Rodgers tactics last season and the start of this were that he flooded the centre of the park with Can, Lallana, Coutinho, Allen and Lucas Leiva to name a few in a defensive manner, the sort of play Liverpool fans don’t want, they prefer the old days of ‘we’ll score one more than you’, of free-flowing attacking football. Maybe Marco Reus is an unrealistic transfer target at this early stage of Klopp’s tenure but I’d personally love to see someone like Lorenzo Insigne of Napoli or Andriy Yarmolenko of Dynamo Kiev bossing the wings at
Anfield. A new goalkeeper could be a good option for Jurgen Klopp to take as well as Simon Mingolet has little competition over the starting spot at Anfield this year as rumours circulate linking German shot stoppers Timo Horn and Bernd Leno with a move to Merseyside in January.
Manchester City have had a very indifferent start to the season. With the demise of Chelsea, the Premier League trophy should be heading back to the Etihad Stadium according to most pundits and football fans alike but the blues, despite been top of the league, have somewhat stuttered recently in the league. It would be unfair however to not state that Manuel Pellegrini’s men have not had their fair share of injuries up until this point of the season. Star players like Sergio Aguero, Yaya Toure and David Silva have very rarely started matches together this term but despite this Manchester City have put in some impressive performances both as a team and on an individual level. The capture of Kevin De Bruyne from Wolfsburg in the summer has been key as he’s proving a lot of people wrong who claimed his transfer sum to the Citizens was far too large with the attacker banging in the goals and creating plenty at the same time. Other players have further shone this season so far with the likes of Raheem Sterling impressing out wide. We also have to make the point that City have already progressed through to the next round of the Champions League, a feat that should be applauded as the team overcame a difficult group which included Italian giants Juventus, Sevilla and Borussia Monchengladbach as well as reaching the semi-finals of the Capital One cup where they next face Everton.
Where to improve?
To be honest, I’m not entirely sure that Manchester City have to make any signings in the January transfer window. Manuel Pellegrini’s side have plenty of strength in depth which is fundamentally the main reason as to why City already top the Premier League table heading into the Christmas period. The return of key players from injury will only strengthen the clubs title ambitions and I don’t see any reason as to why Manchester City won’t be Premier League champions come May despite shaking performances in the league thus far. If the newspapers are to be believed Spanish playmaker Isco could be heading to Manchester from Real Madrid but is this what City need? The blues already have David Silva, who on his day has the ability to be the best players in the Premier League, the Manchester side also have new signing Kevin De Bruyne who has adapted well on his Premier League return and
Raheem Sterling who has been deployed through the middle this season on numerous occasions to great effect. Manuel Pellegrini should instead be looking at his back four as both full backs in Clichy and Zabaleta are ageing and will soon need to be replaced as the full-back rule in modern day football is very demanding in turns of getting up and down the wing at pace. A new centre back could also be a good addition for Manchester City as Vincent Kompany has really struggled with his fitness this campaign meaning the side has been weaker at the back as Mangala has again struggled with his form so far this term.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.