Tim Howard to join Colorado Rapids in May

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.

Tim Howard would be considered one of the star players in the MLS.
Tim Howard would be considered one of the star players in the MLS.

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.”

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Talk strikers later, Newcastle United need a new defence.

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.

Jonjo Shelvey is another great addition to the Newcastle United forward line.
Jonjo Shelvey is another great addition to the Newcastle United forward line.

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.

January transfer window improvements: Liverpool and Manchester City.

Liverpool

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

Yarmolenko
Andriy Yarmolenko would be an exciting addition for Klopp to invest in.

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

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

Manchester City's Kevin De Bruyne has really impressed so far this season.
Manchester City’s Kevin De Bruyne has really impressed so far this season.

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.

January transfer window improvements: AFC Bournemouth and Arsenal.

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

AFC Bournemouth

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

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

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

Where to improve?

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

Arsenal

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

Where to improve?

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

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

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

Transfer of Christian Benteke to Liverpool agreed.

It is been reported this morning that Aston Villa’s Belgian striker Christian Benteke is on the verge of signing for Premier League rivals Liverpool in a deal eventually worth £32.5 million. It is said that the Anfield based club have triggered the strikers release clause that was in his Aston Villa contract and that the forward is due to travel to Merseyside for a medical early next week, likely to be on Monday.

Christian Benteke is expected to join Liverpool early next week in a transfer worth around £32.5 million.
Christian Benteke is expected to join Liverpool early next week in a transfer worth around £32.5 million.

Ian Ayre, Liverpool’s chief executive, worked through into the early hours of Sunday morning in Australia, where Liverpool are on their pre-season tour, in discussions with Aston Villa chief executive Tom Fox in order to strike a deal for the forward and hand manager Brendan Rodgers the player he has coveted all summer and whom he has admired for more than 18 months. Liverpool’s club doctor Andy Massey will now fly back to Liverpool to oversee the tests in London and should all go according to plan, Christian Benteke will be able to start his new career with Liverpool at their Melwood training base.

It has been decided it would be asking too much to fly Benteke out to Malaysia to join Liverpool’s squad for the final game of their pre-season tour in Kuala Lumpur on Friday and instead he will work with Roberto Firmino and Philippe Coutinho, who are due back at Melwood on Wednesday.

The Belgian striker has been a massive success at Aston Villa where he has managed to score 49 goals in 100 total appearances for the club. This represents a ratio of just under a goal in every two appearances at the Midlands side.

Christian Benteke in action last season for Aston Villa.
Christian Benteke in action last season for Aston Villa.

Although a massive transfer fee is being touted in order for Liverpool to sign the striker, it represents a great outlay of funds for the club. This is due to the fact that Liverpool need a big name striker to play alongside and fill in for the injury prone Daniel Sturridge who can bag plenty of goals during his stay at the club. Christian Benteke is already a proven Premier League striker and his conversion rate in front of goal  will only increase playing in front of star names such as Philippe Coutinho, Roberto Firmino and Jordan Henderson. Expect Benteke to make an impact at Anfield if this transfer is completed.

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

Ranking the Premier League summer transfers that are already completed #1

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.”

Firmino Liverpool

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.

B+

 

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.

B+

 

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.

A-

 

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.”

Payet WHU

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.”

Swansea City Unveil New Signing Andre Ayew

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.

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