Wesley Moraes: Aston Villa signing’s movement and ability to link play could make him a Premier League hit

22 Jul

Every year it can be fascinating to follow the strategies used by clubs newly promoted to the Premier League to build their squad.

Take this year, for example, as the likes of Norwich City, promoted as champions, have made small alterations and re-signed existing players on improved contracts.

Contrast this approach to Aston Villa, who have spent at around the £100million mark, and we immediately see the differences in strategy emerge.

Wesley in Champions League action against Borussia Dortmund last season.
Getty Images

One of the players signed by Aston Villa for this coming season is Brazilian forward Wesley who has signed from Club Brugge for a reported £22m.

This signing appears to be a clear reaction to the loss of the young English forward Tammy Abraham, who has returned to Chelsea following the end of his loan spell, with Wesley offering a similar playing profile.

Both are physically imposing forwards who are capable of leading the line on their own or playing with a second forward alongside them.

When we look beyond that, however, we start to see differences between the two. Abraham, despite being younger, has a higher ceiling and is better with the ball at feet. Wesley, on the other hand, is a more instinctive finisher in and around the penalty area at this stage of his career.

The Brazilian displays excellent movement and timing in the box. He is especially adept at playing on the blind side of the nearest defender before making late movements that take him into space when the ball is being played into the penalty area.

To fully understand the potential impact Wesley may have this season for Aston Villa we first have to consider the kind of systems that he was used to playing in whilst in Belgium.

Wyscout

Here we see the most used formations by Club Brugge over the course of the 2018/19 season. As you can see they spent 73% of their time in either a 3-5-2 or a 3-5-1-1.

In each of these systems, Wesley was used to playing with close support, allowing him to combine before moving into the penalty area.

Wyscout

The heatmap for Wesley last season shows a striker who played inside the penalty area a great deal but who could also drop into deeper positions in order to bring others into play.

His ability to hold the ball up and bring other players into play could well be key for Aston Villa as they prepare for life in the top flight.

Wyscout

The shot map for Wesley over the course of the 2018/19 season is also helpful in allowing Villa fans to understand the kind of forward that they have signed.

As you can clearly see the clear majority of shots from the forward were concentrated in the penalty area. This will be fine going forward if Villa are able to provide the kind of service that Wesley will thrive from.

In a side that struggles for consistent possession and will have to play on the counter-attack, though, the Brazilian will have to be more adept at creating his own chances. 

Wyscout

Now we need to consider the systems that Dean Smith used at Villa last season. As you can see 4-1-4-1 was the most commonly used system although 4-3-3 was used in 25% of the season.

The focus for Wesley will be on making sure the two central midfielders are capable of moving into supporting positions when Villa are in possession. Otherwise, we may see Wesley largely isolated.

In this tactical analysis, we examine him more closely to show Aston Villa fans what they can expect from their new forward.

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Intelligent Movement

When watching Wesley play, with his side in possession, the first thing that jumps out is that the Brazilian is fantastic with his movement to create space in the penalty area.

At the top level of football, the difference between a striker who scores consistently and one who consistently fails to find the net is their movement in the penalty area.

Watch Wesley closely and you will often see the forward isolate a defender and then pull away into a pocket of space while the ball is in the wide areas. 

Wyscout

Here we see Wesley moving in towards the penalty area as his teammate attacks in the wide-right area.

The key in finding space from the forward comes in the way that he originally makes a movement towards the far post, dragging a defender with him, Wesley then changes direction and sprints in front of the covering defender in order to meet the cross at the front post.

This type of movement is designed to pull defenders out of position and force them off balance. The forward player can then take advantage of the fact the defenders are not set through quick changes of direction in order to attack either the front post or far post.

Wesley is excellent at timing these changes of direction in order to find a pocket of space that he can exploit.

Wyscout

We see a similar situation here with the ball this time on the opposite side of the field.

On this occasion we see Wesley isolated against a single defender in the middle of the penalty area.

The defender, initially, is in a good position and will feel as though he has the threat of Wesley controlled. As soon as the defender turns his attention towards the ball, however, we see the forward take advantage to attack the space.

The defender’s attention turns away from Wesley and, as it does, the Brazilian forward bursts past him on his blind side (behind) and attacks the front post. This is an instant cue for the wide player and the ball is played immediately to meet the run of the forward.

Aerial Ability

While we see the movement from Wesley allowing him to find space in the area and he is a strong finisher with his feet when the ball is on the ground, he is arguably more dominant in the air.

The same kinds of movement, occupying the blindside and timing runs across the face of the defensive players, allow him to meet balls played across the face of goal at speed and with excellent timing.

Wesley, however, is equally comfortable when challenging defensive players for 50/50 high balls, whether winning headers or simply looking to bring others into play through flick on’s. This is of course an aspect of his game that should go down well in the Premier League.

Wyscout

We see once again in this example that Wesley once again times his movements in the penalty area perfectly.

With the ball in the wide area on the right-hand side the forward is initially marked by two defensive players. As the ball is about to be played in, however, we see Wesley make a move in front of the front post defender in order to meet the cross and head towards goal.

Wyscout

This time the initial pass comes from a deeper position.

It is now a common theme but you can see that Wesley has initially positioned himself behind the covering defender on that players blindside.

From this initial position the forward will make eye contact with the man in possession of the ball before making a quick angled run across the face of the defender.

He is then free to meet the cross at full pace in space in the penalty area. Once again Wesley gets a headed shot at goal.

Linking Play

In modern football, of course, it is important that a forward player is more than just a penalty box predator. They have to be able to hold the ball up in order to bring others into play and make movements that will drag defensive players out of position.

Wesley, as a player who profiles as a traditional target man, is strong when it comes to holding the ball up. He is also underrated when it comes to bringing others into play and linking with midfielders in the attacking phase. His touch and vision allow him to play quickly with one or two touches.

Wyscout

In this example, we see Wesley initially isolated against more than one defender as his team are looking to access the final third.

In order to facilitate this the forward drops off the attacking line into a deeper position. This movement allows the ball to be progressed into him and Wesley has the strength and balance to receive the ball and hold off the defensive players.

As soon as the ball is played into Wesley however he shifts it backwards at an angle to a supporting player. This immediately changes the angle of attack to catch the defence out as they shift towards Wesley to close the ball down.

The forward is then able to spin and move into the penalty area looking for the next pass.

Wyscout

A similar situation here but this time the starting position for Wesley is noticeably deeper.

As the ball is progressed into the wide-area we see the ball immediately played inside into the pocket of space that Wesley has occupied.

As the ball comes into the Brazilian he does not even take the ball down but immediately plays a volley into the path of a midfielder who is advancing from a deeper line.

This pass from Wesley shows his technique and understanding of space as he releases a teammate who is moving into a better position. After playing this pass in the first instance we again see Wesley look to run into advanced areas to enter the penalty area.

Conclusion

Signing forward players form the Belgian top flight carries with it the same risk as signing them from the Dutch Eredivisie.

It can be difficult to accurately judge the level of opposition that they have played against to this point in their career. The first few matches of the season will give us a better indication as to whether Wesley will be able to physically dominate English defenders as he has done elsewhere.

Aston Villa have spent and bet big on their return to the top flight. It will be interesting to see whether this strategy is successful in helping them survive and kick on at the Premier League level.

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Fantasy Football tips: 10 bargain strikers you should sign for your Dream Team XI

22 Jul

Managers across the globe are signing up for Dream Team’s free fantasy football game which could win you some of the £250,000 prize pot.

If you’re going to get near the money though, you’re going to have to be savvy in the transfer market and even more so when it comes to strikers.

It’s fine picking up expensive star men like Mohamed Salah and Harry Kane – but you might need the odd cheap player so you don’t go over your limit.

Some coaches can find it tricky discovering the best bargains, but never fear, we’re here to help you and have done the research on some of the perfect players for you to pick up.

So which strikers should you be looking at if you need to save some pennies? Find out our top Dream Team tips below and sign up here for a chance to win.



Gabriel Jesus (Manchester City) – £3.5m

He’s not going to usurp Sergio Aguero any time soon but he will still get plenty of goals.

He got 17 in all competitions last season, not bad going at all.

Gabriel Jesus enjoyed a prolific season for Manchester City
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Marcus Rashford (Manchester United) – £3.5m

The Red Devils could have another tough campaign in the Premier League, or they could bounce back.

If they do the latter then Rashford, their current main striker, is likely to get the goals for them

Marcus Rashford tries to beat Stefan de Vrij in Man United’s pre-season clash with Inter Milan
AFP

Richarlison (Everton) – £3.0m

He got a fine 13-goal haul last season but was never truly consistent, netting in fits and starts.

Now he could be in for an even better campaign, particularly if the Toffees finally get themselves a centre forward who can score goals, whether it’s a new player of Dominic Calvert-Lewin steps up.

Richarlison celebrates with his medal for winning the Copa America
Getty Images - Getty

Sebastien Haller (West Ham) – £3.0m

Already looking one of the best signings of the summer, Haller could be an exceptional signing.

His haul of 15 goals and nine assists in the Bundesliga showed his all-round talent alongside Luka Jovic, and with help from Ante Rebic at Eintracht Frankfurt.

If he has a similar relationship with Felipe Anderson and Pablo Fornals, the Hammers fans may be laughing all the way into Europe.

Sebastien Haller has become West Ham’s record signing after his move from Eintracht Frankfurt
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Wesley (Aston Villa) – £2.5m

It’s a touch risky spending £22million on a striker from the Belgian top division but he might just do the business.

The Villans seem to reckon he’ll be Christian Benteke 2.0 but can he live up to that?

Wesley celebrates scoring a goal for Club Brugge
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Dominic Calvert-Lewin (Everton) – £2.5m

The English star is now 22-years-old so it’s time he steps up to the plate and starts scoring more goals.

He’s already a handful for defenders but he just needs to add more to his game in terms of hitting the back of the net.

If he does, he’s a steal at £2.5m.

Dominic Calvert-Lewin needs to up his performance in front of goal
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Michy Batshuayi/Tammy Abraham (Chelsea) – £2.0m

It’s best to analyse this as pre-season moves further down the line but whoever looks like getting the staring role is an almost must-have for your XI.

Yes, they have lost Eden Hazard but they still have quality elsewhere to provide them with ammo.

Batshuayi is getting game time in pre-season
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Che Adams (Southampton) – £1.5m

The 23-year-old hit 22 goals and got four assists in the Championship last season.

He really troubled defences in the second tier and you wouldn’t put it past him doing the same in the Premier League too.

Che Adams was in fine form for Birmingham City last campaign
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Lys Mousset (Sheffield United) – £1.0m

At the time of writing, the Frenchman is a club-record signing from Bournemouth.

Three years in the shadows at the Vitality Stadium make you question the deal but was picked up by the Cherries following a nice Ligue 2 campaign with Le Havre.

He’s one for an emergency, or your watchlist.

Mousset has ended his three-year spell with Bournemouth
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Mason Greenwood (Manchester United) – £1.0m

After his goal against Inter Milan, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer reiterated he will not loan out the 17-year-old striker.

He won’t be a regular starter but could poach from the bench, especially if Romelu Lukaku leaves.

At the weekend, Solskjaer said: “You can’t send him on loan. He’s ready to be in this squad.

“He’s a natural finisher. He just knows where the ball’s going to end up and land. He’s only 17, but then again why not enjoy it. He’ll get a few to be fair.

“He’s practicing of course but he just knows where the goal is. Sometimes you get players like this and he’s a natural scorer.”

Mason Greenwood scored for Man United against Inter Milan
Getty Images - Getty

Fantasy football tips: 15 bargain midfielders to sign for your Dream Team XI

20 Jul

Signing up for Dream Team’s free fantasy football game is easy.

The hard part is picking a winning team to get one over on your mates in the mini-leagues.

Ryan Fredericks and Ainsley Maitland-Niles are two defensive bargains you could sign in Dream Team fantasy football

Luckily, talkSPORT are here to help with more handy tips for your team.

Depending on your strategy, you’ll need a bargain somewhere in your squad so you can field a selection of Premier League superstars.



The midfield needs to have the right balance of creativity, goals, and reliable performers if you’re going to have a shot at some of the £250,000 prize pot.

So who are the cheap as chips stars who could help you on your way to glory in Dream Team fantasy football? Find out below.

Jack Grealish (Aston Villa) – £2.5m

The English youngster can do it all in the centre of the pitch, creating and scoring goals, and he’s vital to Dean Smith’s squad.

If he stays fit, unlike last season, he could pitch up some nice Dream Team points.

A boyhood Villa fan, Grealish will need to continue his fantastic form in the Premier League
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Alireza Jahanbakhsh (Brighton) – £1.0m

He may have been a dud last season after his huge move from AZ Alkmaar – but under Graham Potter he may flourish.

Jahanbakhsh got two assists in the Seagulls’ friendly win over FC Liefering and played in the no.10 role too. He’s a wildcard pick.

Brighton’s Iranian midfielder Alireza Jahanbakhsh
Getty Images

Pascal Gross (Brighton) – £2.0m

Last season saw a downturn in the German’s effectiveness for the Seagulls.

Now, though, with a new man at the helm we could see him get back to his creative best in the Albion midfield.

His haul of seven goals and eight assists in 2017/18 was superb.

Can Gross get back to his best?
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Dwight McNeil (Burnley) – £1.0m

The 19-year-old Englishman has gone from fringe star to wanted by Juventus in around half a year.

In just 21 appearances last season he managed three goals and five assists for Sean Dyche’s side.

McNeil has interested several clubs this summer after breaking into the Burnley team
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Ross Barkley (Chelsea) – £2.0m

A decent 2018/19 could get better depending on how frequently he’s used by new manager Frank Lampard.

We’ll call this a risky pick for now but he’s worth putting on your watchlist.

Ross Barkley in action for Chelsea
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N’Golo Kante (Chelsea) – £2.5m

In other fantasy football games, the defensive midfielder isn’t worth signing – but with Dream Team he really is.

Getting points for his ratings of 7/10 or above on WhoScored saw him land 65 bonus points and he may do the same again.

Lampard has a truly world class player at his disposal in Kante
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Christian Pulisic (Chelsea) – £3.0m

Another wildcard, many may steer clear of the new signing but we reckon he’s worth a go.

He grabbed two goals and an assist in his last three games at Borussia Dortmund and hit another three at the Gold Cup.

Christian Pulisic is the US national’s team golden boy
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Youri Tielemans (Leicester City) – £2.5m

He starred in the second half of the Foxes’ 2018/19 campaign and could well pick up where he left off after joining permanently.

There is a risk he could drop off but even so he’s a decent bet for points.

Youri Tielemans has been hugely impressive in the Premier League
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Naby Keita (Liverpool) – £2.5m

Keita is another player who, points-wise, was a bit of a dud, but we reckon he could really improve this season.

He may miss a game or two early on but could then really shine in midfield as he did before he got injured at the end of the 2018/19 season.

Keita delivered a man of the match performance against Porto in the Champions League – can he do more of the same?
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Daniel James (Manchester United) – £1.0m

How involved the speedster will be under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is unknown right now.

If we’re honest, though, the price is extremely tempting, even if he’s just a rapid super sub!

New Man United star Daniel James
Getty Images - Getty

Miguel Almiron (Newcastle United) – £2.0m

After impressing with Paraguay at the Copa America, Almiron’s stock is steadily rising.

Magpies fans will be hoping he finally breaks his duck when it comes to goal contributions, and if he does you’ll be laughing to the top of your mini-leagues.

Almiron is a star in the making at St James’ Park
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Emi Buendia (Norwich City) – £2.0m

A set-piece taker for the Canaries, we’re tipping the Argentine 22-year-old to make a splash in the Premier League.

Get on board this bargain early.

Buendia helped secure Norwich’s promotion to the Premier League
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Onel Hernandez (Norwich City) – £2.0m

Like Buendia, Hernandez got a lot of goals and assists in the Championship.

This will, obviously, go down in top flight but his form from the left flank should be considered as you make selections as he got off 2.4 shots per 90 minutes and made 1.9 key passes per 90 last season.

Onel Hernandez in pre-season action for the Canaries
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Moussa Djenepo (Southampton) – £1.0m

In total, the Senegalese youngster got 12 goals and seven assists last season, earning him his Premier League switch from Standard Liege.

The dribbler could be a smart signing for your XI.

Moussa Djenepo signed a four-year contract with Southampton
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Pablo Fornals (West Ham) – £2.5m

Possibly one of the signings of the summer from Villarreal, his goal contributions weren’t huge last year.

But don’t worry about that as in 2017/18 he managed a fine three goals and 12 assists.

If he combines well with Sebastien Haller, the Hammers are going to have a great season – and so will your Dream Team XI.

New boy Pablo Fornals starred for Spain’s Under-21s in the European Championship this summer
@WestHamUtd on Twitter

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Tottenham Hotspur fans delight as former long-term transfer target Leandro Damiao scores winning strike against Chelsea

19 Jul

Chelsea boss Frank Lampard has suffered his first defeat as manager of the club – and Tottenham Hotspur fans are loving it.

Opponents Kawasaki Frontale scored a winner after 86 minutes thanks to a back-post header from legendary Spurs transfer target Leandro Damiao.

Kawasaki Frontale forward, and former Tottenham target, Leandro Damiao celebrates his goal against Chelsea
Getty Images

The Brazilian forward never got his move to White Hart Lane but became a cult figure with supporters having been linked with switches to the club across several transfer windows.

A fine forward during his spell with Internacional between 2009-2013, he managed 33 league goals in 98 fixtures, seeing him play 13 times for the Brazil national team.

Meanwhile, he was also top scorer at the London 2012 Olympic Games during the time he was linked with a move to Tottenham.

The transfer didn’t materialise, however, and his form spiralled when he left for Santos in his homeland, resulting in several loan spells.

He’s now in Japan with Frontale and he finally gave Spurs supporters something to cheer about with his winning strike.

Fantasy Football tips: 10 bargain defenders you should sign for your Dream Team XI

19 Jul

Want to win yourself some of a £250,000 prize pot? Sign up to Dream Team Fantasy Football here.

Pick your best XI using your £50million budget and then compete against you mates in mini-league to see who is the ultimate manager.

It’s fine picking up expensive star men like Mohamed Salah and Harry Kane – but you might need the odd cheap player so you don’t go over your limit.

Some coaches can find it tricky discovering the best bargains, but never fear, we’re here to help you and have done the research on some of the perfect players for you to pick up once you’ve signed up.

So which defenders should you be looking at if you need to save some pennies? Find out our top Dream Team tips below.



Matt Targett (Aston Villa) – £1.5m

Having never had a full season as a starting player, Targett has joined the Villans for £15m.

However, he did get three assists and a goal last term as he made 16 appearances for Saints, which isn’t too shabby.

Targett is set to play a major role for Dean Smith and he could offer cheap points.

Targett has moved on from Southampton and could kick-start his career
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Lewis Dunk (Brighton) – £2.0m

A move to Leicester City appears to be in the works if Harry Maguire joins Manchester United this summer.

Dunk is good for a few goals a season, while last year was the first time he hasn’t averaged more than 7/10 on WhoScored.

Playing for a bigger club is also likely to see an increase in clean sheets – the Foxes got 10 compared to Brighton’s seven in 2018/19.

Dunk is a vital part of the Seagulls’ squad and has formed an excellent partnership with Shane Duffy
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Luke Shaw (Manchester United) – £2.5m

The Red Devils’ standing may have fallen and the ex-Saint might not quite have fulfilled the potential he once showed – but he’s a bargain on Dream Team.

If he remains fit all season he should improve on the one goal and four assists he got last-term.

He also got 14 WhoScored ratings of 7/10 or more, which will come in handy.

Luke Shaw won Manchester United’s Players’ Player of the Year and the Sir Matt Busby Fans’ Player of the Year awards in 2018/19
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Ben Godfrey (Norwich City) – £1.0m

With four goals and two assists in just 31 Championship appearances from centre-back, Godfrey is a possible gem.

Yan Valery (Southampton) – £1.5m

French youngster Valery is on course to be Saints’ starting right-back this season and is very capable of getting goals and assists.

His number of clean sheets is likely to improve too as Ralph Hasenhuttl improves his squad.

If you’re looking for a Saint to be your saviour and help you perform a mini-league miracle then Valery might be your man.
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Ryan Fredericks (West Ham) – £1.5m

The ex-Tottenham and Fulham right-back really kicked on at the end of last season and if he improves his final ball then he could be a huge winner for your XI.

Ryan Fredericks got one over on his former club by helping the Hammers beat Spurs 1-0 towards the end of last season
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Ainsley Maitland-Niles (Arsenal) – £1.5m

Want an early season bargain? With Hector Bellerin still out injured it’s likely the Englishman will occupy the right-back role for a while.

Last season he ended up as one of the top 100 point-scorers in Dream Team, earning 46 points through his his WhoScored ratings alone.

If the Gunners improve defensively he’ll lose nowhere near the 20 he did last term and will be a valuable asset in the opening stages.

Maitland-Niles established himself as a valuable squad member under Unai Emery in 2018/19
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Ryan Bertrand (Southampton) – £2.0m

The ex-Chelsea left-back didn’t have the best of campaigns last year but Ralph Hasenhuttl looks to be turning Saints around.

With a new attack to feed, we could see a far more productive Dream Team player, especially with new signing Moussa Djenepo ahead of him.

Bertrand may enjoy a return to form in 2019/20
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Patrick van Aanholt (Crystal Palace) – £2.5m

He’s not the most consistent man in the world but he now has Tyrick Mitchell snapping at his heels so he needs to up his game.

Usually good for a few attacking contributions every season, if Palace land a goalscorer he could up his point-scoring ability.

Patrick van Aanholt was part of Chelsea’s academy and currently stars for Palace
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Victor Lindelof (Manchester United) – £2.0m

Having a Red Devils centre-back isn’t the most desirable option right now but he’s more than capable of scoring points.

Just small improvements – hopefully thanks to a full pre-season with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer – should mean United run a tighter ship at the back.

The possible arrival of Harry Maguire from Leicester City could help Lindelof too.

This will see an increase in Lindelof’s scoring for sure and may well make him a bargain if he gets enough clean sheets.

Lindelof will be key for the Red Devils even if Harry Maguire joins
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Fantasy football tips: Five bargain goalkeepers you should sign for your Dream Team XI

18 Jul

Dream Team fantasy football is back – sign up here – for 2019/20 and we’re beavering away trying to pick our teams.

If you want to win your mini-league, or some of the £250,000 prize pot, you need to have a top defence, as well as a talented attack and no position is more important than that of the goalkeeper.

You only get one, so you don’t want to waste any of your three transfers per month on your shot-stopper.

If you’re going to win big, you need a reliable performer capable of earning the odd Star Man award and regular 7/10 displays on WhoScored to gain vital points.

But managers will also not want to spend too much money so they can spend their £50million budget elsewhere.

So, who are the best bargain goalkeeper in Dream Team? talkSPORT.com have taken a look.

Kepa Arrizabalaga (Chelsea) – £3.5m

If you’re spending bigger bucks on a goalkeeper, the Blues ace is your man.

The only reason £4.0m option Hugo Lloris scored more points than him last year was the Frenchman’s run of penalty saves, meanwhile Frank Lampard’s backline should be stronger with N’Golo Kante likely to play towards his more natural position this term.

Kepa is likely to remain as Chelsea’s no.1 for years to come
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Bernd Leno (Arsenal) – £2.5m

No, we’re not having a moment.

The ex-Bayer Leverkusen shot-stopper isn’t a bad player at all and with more work and possible upgrades this summer we should see an improved defensive output from the Gunners.

Leno will certainly get more points than last season.

Leno has become Arsenal’s no.1 following his arrival last summer
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Lukasz Fabianski (West Ham United) – £2.5m

Only one shot-stopper averaged over 7/10 on WhoScored.com, and that was Polish ace Fabianski.

He might not get heaps of clean sheets, although this could improve with additions to the Hammers, squad but he’s a steady point-scorer.

Fabianski has been a revelation at the London Stadium
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Ralf Fahrmann (Norwich City) – £1.0m

Landing a goalkeeper on loan with eight Bundesliga seasons under their belt is impressive for a newly-promoted side.

Sure, he was displaced at Schalke last season by talented youngster Alexander Nübel but he should be a fine performer at a cheap price.

Fahrmann looks set to be no.1 for Norwich
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Dean Henderson – as yet unassigned

Still on the books at Manchester United, the goalkeeper could be on the move to Sheffield United in the coming days.

If he does end up at Bramall Lane we expect him to start and he’s unlikely to cost too much cash either.

Keep an eye out for his arrival in the game.

Dean Henderson was in excellent form for Sheffield United last season
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How Tottenham could look next season after selling Kieran Trippier, Danny Rose, Toby Alderweireld, and Christian Eriksen

18 Jul

Tottenham Hotspur look set for a clear out following the transfer of Kieran Trippier to Atletico Madrid.

The Champions League finalists will get an initial £20million, plus add-ons, for the right-back but it seems he’s not going to be the only outgoing.

Kieran Trippier spent four years with Spurs
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As Spurs jetted off to Singapore to start their pre-season tour, the club left Trippier three other stars at home as they look to seal moves away from north London.

Danny Rose, Vincent Janssen, and Georges-Kevin Nkoudou will now attempt to earn transfers but manager Mauricio Pochettino may also lose two more key men.

Toby Alderweireld could leave the club for £25million (until two weeks before the transfer window shuts), while Christian Eriksen has openly admitted he’s open to a switch, although currently he waiting on Real Madrid to make their move for him.

The loss of these stars would be a huge blow to Pochettino but right now there is a chance they could all move on.

Thankfully, the club have already brought in central midfield ace Tanguy Ndombele from Lyon.

At £55m the Frenchman is now the club’s record purchase and should fill the gaping hole left by Mousa Dembele when he moved to the Chinese Super League in January.

But, for now, he’s the only man to come in other than Jack Clarke, who immediately returned to Leeds United on loan.

So how will Spurs look next season if they lose Rose, Alderweireld and Eriksen this summer? talkSPORT.com takes a look.

Tottenham have signed midfield sensation Ndombele from Lyon
Getty Images - getty

Right-back

With Trippier heading to Atletico Madrid a new first-choice must emerge and Serge Aurier heads the list.

In his two campaigns with the club he has never truly excelled but offered a decent backup when required. He also put to bed some worries about the defensive side of his game when he starred in the stunning rearguard display in the 1-0 win away at Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League.

Trippier’s exit will also see Kyle Walker-Peters allowed to stake his claim for a starting spot, finally, and if either are unfit we may also see Juan Foyth occupy the position given his time their at the end of the season and at the Copa America with Argentina.

Aurier gets a tackle in against Borussia Dortmund
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Left-back

If Rose does arrange a transfer away from the club, it’s currently Ben Davies who will pick up the reins.

Some may feel this is a downgrade but hopefully the player’s end of season surgery, which was to correct a groin issue that troubled him all season, will see he back to his best.

Walker-Peters will, for the moment, be his understudy with Jan Vertonghen also able to play there.

We wouldn’t be surprised if a deal for Ryan Sessegnon finally goes through, mind you.

Centre-back

How do you replace a ball-playing defender like Alderweireld? Well, with great difficulty. Davinson Sanchez will step up to the plate but offers no where near the progressive passing of his Belgian teammate.

The signing of Tanguy Ndombele will decrease the need for this skill set but in tough games when opponents are hard to break down, Sanchez is unlikely to offer the kind of passing needed to help Spurs.

In these games Foyth could well step up thanks to his aggressive forays forward, although his red card against Bournemouth as the potential to stifle this side of his game.

Sanchez is a different proposition to Alderweireld in defence
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Attacking midfield

Like with Alderweireld, it’s going to be tough for Spurs to directly replace Eriksen if he leaves the club.

Players who can get double digits for goals and assists don’t grow on trees but it might see another new role for Dele Alli.

Last season the English midfielder was forced to drop a little deeper than usual top bolster their weakened central midfield, resulting in a downturn in his offensive production.

Alli in action during the Champions League final
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Now, though, if the Danes leaves, he could operate behind two forwards and drift between the lines – think about his flick on to Lucas Moura for that goal against Ajax.

Pochettino has previously used Alli centrally and as a second striker, so this might well have some legs.

How Tottenham could look next season without Trippier, Rose, Alderweireld, and Eriksen

Is this how Spurs would line-up considering their possible sales?
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Pablo Fornals: Why West Ham’s summer transfer proves they’re scouting smarter and could crack the top six

17 Jul

With the transfer window giving us plenty of exciting signings this summer Total Football Analysis are helping talkSPORT.com run the rule over the best of the bunch.

One of the themes of modern football in recent seasons has been certain teams, seemingly, become ‘smarter’ in the transfer market.

Increased focus on recruitment at the likes of Liverpool, in the wake of their Champions League triumph, has led to even greater scrutiny on how and why clubs make their decisions to acquire players.

It appears West Ham are changing their approach to transfers
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Recently this has even spread to an interest in the people who make up the departments which track and identify players to target.

While certain teams have recruited in a coherent manner, signing players who fix weaknesses in their squads and succession planning for when players inevitably move on, others still seemed to adopt something of a scattergun approach.

Of all the teams in this latter group, the term ‘scattergun’ probably could best be applied to West Ham United in the Premier League.

Under their current ownership there did not appear to be a clear strategy, even after the appointment of an established Premier League calibre coach in the Chilean Manuel Pellegrini.

That was, however, until the start of the current transfer window when the London club moved quickly to sign Spanish attacking midfielder Pablo Fornals.

The 23-year-old Spaniard was extremely highly regarded both by more traditional football minds and those who adopt a statistical approach to player identification.

Fornals impressed playing for Villarreal
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A product of the Villarreal youth academy, Formals made the move to Malaga while still playing for the youth team. After making the breakthrough and debuting in LaLiga we then saw the midfielder head back to his boyhood club, re-signing with Villarreal in 2017.

The 2018/19 season was a breakout campaign for Fornals as he played across the attacking midfield positions of the pitch.

Predominantly right-footed, Formals is comfortable playing on the right, as an orthodox winger, or on the left where he can cut inside and threaten the opposition goal.

More tellingly for West Ham fans, though, Fornals can also play in the traditional ‘10’ role, a position that West Ham may try to use more often as they move into the 2019/20 season.

Wyscout
Formations West Ham used last season[/caption]

For the most part, last season we saw West Ham line up in either a 4-4-2 or a 4-1-4-1 system and in either of these Fornals would fit in well in either wide midfield role.

Towards the latter stages of the season, though, we saw a shift to a 4-2-3-1 and in this structure we could well see Fornals flourish in the English Premier League.

Wyscout
Where Fornals took his touches for Villarreal last season[/caption]

As you can see from the heat map of Fornals last season, he played predominantly from the left-hand side but also spent time out on the right and in the centre. With the Brazilian Felipe Anderson firmly embedded on the left for West Ham we expect to see Fornals play predominantly from the right or the centre.

In this tactical analysis, we will examine Fornals in more detail in order to show West Ham fans what they can expect going into the new season.

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Intelligent Passing

Given that Fornals is a Spanish attacking midfielder you would be forgiven for expecting a diminutive figure who has the capacity for breaking through the lines of the opposition defence with his passing.

Well, the latter is certainly true but Fornals stands at just under 6ft tall and certainly has the physicality he will need to stand up to defenders in the Premier League.

In terms of his passing, Fornals is creative in using passing lanes and angles to release teammates through beyond the defensive line of the opposition. Although, as discussed above, Formals is predominantly right-footed it is not unusual to see him receive and play from his left side.

With the Spaniard comfortable on each foot it means he is incredibly press resistant, so when in possession he is not dispossessed by the opposition easily, this also means though that when in the final third Fornals is able to take advantage of passing angles other players, who are one-footed, may not be able to.

Wyscout

Without breaking stride he reverses the through pass slightly and plays through the gap between the left-back and left-sided central defender. Whilst moving across the pitch in this position the Spaniard had seemed intent on playing out to the wide area. The through pass catches the opposition off guard and off-balance because he had not even looked at the runner of the space.

This type of spatial and tactical awareness makes if very difficult for opposing defences to account for Fornals.

Wyscout

This time he is in a central position and is faced by one defensive player who has a teammate covering him at an angle. This is traditionally a strong defensive structure.

As he collects possession, Fornals can see a teammate making eye contact on the edge of the box. This is a cue between the two of them that a run is going to be made.

In order to play the ball through, though, a passing lane has to be created. To do this this we see Fornals initially shift quickly to his right before cutting back and moving left. As he does this he unbalances the first defender. This shifting of balance gives him the space to play through a line to the left of the first defender and the right of the second defender. A goalscoring opportunity is then created.

Fornals could prove to be one of the signings of the summer
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1vs1 Ability

As well as being a dangerous passer of the ball in advanced areas of the pitch, Fornals is also capable of beating a player through dribbling in 1v1 situations. This is of particular significance if Fornals is played centrally going into next season.

From this position, being able to beat a man and move past them automatically throws the defensive organisation of the opposition into chaos.

This movement forces another opposition player to move towards the ball to engage the ball carrier, this, in turn, creates space that can be exploited further up the field.

Last season, in 4,703 minutes we saw Fornals attempt a total of 176 dribbles with a success rate of 60.8 per cent. This shows just how effective the Spaniard was when driving at opposition players and taking them on.

Wyscout

In the space of a few seconds, he has driven past three close defensive players and is able to burst into the opposition half.

Thanks to this, Villarreal immediately find themselves in a favourable position as they attack.

Wyscout

A similar situation here but this time in a more advanced area of the pitch.

We see Fornals in possession of the ball on the left and, although he has a player positioned outside, his first thought is still to drive forward.

In order to do so, we see him move past the first defender before finding two covering players closing him down.

Fornals, though, has the confidence and quality to take on both the men, beating them and moving his team into a hugely advantageous position.

Intelligent defending

As well as being extremely effective in the attacking phase we also see Fornals contribute well in the defensive one.

He presses well and also tracks back, covering for his teammates as they look to engage the ball.

In short, with Fornals you get creative passing in the final third combined with a prodigious work rate and defensive understanding.

He also reads the game well and gains a lot of interceptions as he cuts out passing lanes at the last minute.

Wyscout

As the Portuguese side were looking to build up from the back and advance the ball forward, the central defender was being put under pressure.

This act of applying pressure was a sign for Fornals to move higher in order to deny the man on the ball the opportunity to escape pressure with a simple pass out to the wide area.

As the defensive player looks to play the pass we see Fornals jump the ball in order to win it back and start an attack for his team.

Wyscout

We see a similar situation here as the opposition are looking to progress the ball forward.

As the initial pass is made successfully into the opposing player in a central position we see Fornals read the game in order to win the ball back cleanly.

The first pass finds a player facing his own goal. As the opponent receives the ball there is a Villarreal player looking to apply pressure and the receiving player looks to play first time out to the wide area. This pass is read by Fornals as the Spaniard moves to cut out the ball successfully.

Conclusion

There is little to not be positive about regarding the decision from West Ham to sign Pablo Fornals.

The Spaniard offers the creativity and work rate of two different players and his versatility makes him a very useful player to have in the squad.

He can fill three distinct roles within the attacking third and in each one he offers something slightly different.

So, West Ham are recruiting in an intelligent manner. Does this mean that they will be able to threaten the top six going into the 2019/20 season? That remains to be seen but finding out will be interesting.

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Fantasy football tips: 25 Bargains to sign for your Dream Team XI

17 Jul

The 2019/20 Dream Team game has arrived – sign up here!

It’s the free to play fantasy football game you’ve all been waiting for with a prize pot of £250,000!

Who will you pick for your Dream Team?

You’ve got a £50million budget to spend on your XI and just three transfers a month to test your managerial skills to the max.

It’s easy enough picking star men like Mohamed Salah and Harry Kane but you will need some bargains to ensure you don’t spend too much.

Whether they’re cheap and cheerful first-team fillers or smart deals for a diminished dime, here at talkSPORT.com we’ve taken a look at the players you should be signing.

Get our top Dream Team bargain tips below and SIGN UP HERE.

Goalkeepers

Lukasz Fabianski (West Ham United) – £2.5m

Only one shot-stopper averaged over 7/10 on WhoScored.com, and that was Polish ace Fabianski.

He might not get heaps of clean sheets, although this could improve with additions to the Hammers, squad but he’s a steady point-scorer.

Rui Patricio (Wolves) – £2.0m

The Portugal international had a fine first season in the Premier League and should do well again under Nuno Espirito Santo.

Signing Patricio last summer was a huge coup for Wolves
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Ralf Fahrmann (Norwich City) – £1.0m

Landing a goalkeeper on loan with eight Bundesliga seasons under their belt is impressive for a newly-promoted side.
Sure, he was displaced at Schalke last season by talented youngster Alexander Nübel but he should be a fine performer at a cheap price.

Martin Dubravka (Newcastle United) – £2.0m

The Magpies are facing a tough campaign ahead and if he remains at St James’ Park then the Slovakian is likely to be a key star.

He’s been a fine signing and could almost certainly earn himself a big move if he is on top form again in 2019/20.

Dubravka has been linked with transfers this summer
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Defenders

Matt Targett (Aston Villa) – £1.5m

Having never had a full season as a starting player, Targett has joined the Villans for £15m.

But, he did get three assists and a goal last term as he made 16 appearances for the Saints, which isn’t too shabby.

Targett is set to play a major role for Dean Smith and he could offer cheap points.

Lewis Dunk (Brighton) – £2.0m

A move to Leicester City appears to be in the works if Harry Maguire joins Manchester United this summer.

Dunk is good for a few goals a season, while last year was the first time he hasn’t averaged more than 7/10 on WhoScored.

Playing for a bigger club is also likely to see an increase in clean sheets – the Foxes got 10 compared to Brighton’s seven in 2018/19.

Dunk has been a vital part of the Seagulls’ squad and has formed an excellent partnership with Shane Duffy
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Luke Shaw (Manchester United) – £2.5m

The Red Devils’ standing may have fallen and the ex-Saint might not quite have fulfilled the potential he once showed but he’s a bargain on Dream Team.

If he remains fit all season he should improve on the one goal and four assists he got last-term.

He also got 14 WhoScored ratings of 7/10 or more, which will come in handy.

Ben Godfrey (Norwich City) – £1.0m

With four goals and two assists in just 31 Championship appearances from centre-back, Godfrey is a possible gem.

Yan Valery (Southampton) – £1.5m

French youngster Valery is on course to be the Saints’ starting right-back this season and is very capable of getting goals and assists.

His number of clean sheets is likely to improve too as Ralph Hasenhuttl improves his squad.

If you’re looking for a Saint to be your saviour and help you perform a mini-league miracle then Valery might be your man.
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Ryan Fredericks (West Ham) – £1.5m

The ex-Tottenham and Fulham right-back really kicked on at the end of last season and if he improves his final ball then he could be a huge winner for your XI.

Andy Robertson (Liverpool) – £4.5m

Okay, in comparison to the other men in this list, the Scotsman isn’t a ‘bargain’ but bear in mind he got 11 assists last year.

Teammate Trent Alexander-Arnold got 12 and one goal and is valued at £5m, while Virgil van Dijk is £6m.

Robertson helped Liverpool win the Champions League
Getty

Midfielders

Jack Grealish (Aston Villa) – £2.5m

The English youngster can do it all in the centre of the pitch, creating and scoring, and is vital to Dean Smith’s squad.

If he stays, fit unlike last season, he could pitch up some nice Dream Team points.

A boyhood Villa fan, Grealish will need to continue his fantastic form in the Premier League
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Alireza Jahanbakhsh (Brighton) – £1.0m

He may have been a dud last season after his huge move from AZ Alkmaar but under Graham Potter he may flourish.

Jahanbakhsh got two assists in the Seagulls’ friendly win over FC Liefering and played in the no.10 role too. He’s a wildcard pick.

Christian Pulisic (Chelsea) – £3.0m

Another wildcard, many may steer clear of the new signing but we reckon he’s worth a go.

He grabbed two goals and an assist in his last three games at Borussia Dortmund and hit another three at the Gold Cup.

Pulisic shined for USA in the win over Trinidad & Tobago
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Youri Tielemans (Leicester City) – £2.5m

He starred in the second half of the Foxes 2018/19 campaign and could well pick up where he left off after joining permanently.

There is a risk he could drop off but even so he’s a decent bet for points.

Naby Keita (Liverpool) – £2.5m

Another player who, points-wise, was a bit of a dud, we reckon he could really improve this season.

He may miss a game or two early on but could then really shine in midfielder as he did before he got injured at the end of the 2018/19 season.

Naby Keita has had a slow start to life at Anfield
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Daniel James (Manchester United) – £1.0m

How involved the speedster will be under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is unknown right now.

If we’re honest, though, the price is extremely tempting, even if he’s just a rapid super sub!

Miguel Almiron (Newcastle United) – £2.0m

After impressing with Paraguay at the Copa America, Almiron’s stock is steadily rising.

Magpies fans will be hoping he finally breaks his ducks when it comes to goal contributions and if he does you’ll be laughing to the top of your mini-leagues.

Almiron has caught the eye after starring in the Copa America
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Emil Buendia (Norwich City) – £2.0m

A set-piece taker for the Canaries, we’re tipping the Argentine 22-year-old to make a splash in the Premier League.

Get on board this bargain early.

Moussa Djenepo (Southampton) – £1.0m

In total, the Senegalese youngster got 12 goals and seven assists last season, earning him his Premier League switch from Standard Liege.

The dribbler could be a smart signing for your XI.

Moussa Djenepo has signed a four-year contract with Southampton
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Bernardo Silva (Manchester City) – £4.5m

Like Andy Robertson, Silva is a relative bargain.

When you consider Kevin De Bruyne and Sadio Mane are £6.0m, the Portuguese ace looks decent value.

Forwards

Michy Batshuayi/Tammy Abraham (Chelsea) – £2.0m

It’s best to analyse this as pre-season moves further down the line but whoever looks like getting the staring role is an almost must-have for your XI.

Yes, they have lost Eden Hazard but they still have quality elsewhere to provide them with ammo.

Tammy Abraham was a huge hit on loan at Aston Villa from Chelsea last season
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Gabriel Jesus (Manchester City) – £3.5m

He’s not going to usurp Sergio Aguero any time soon but he will still get plenty of goals.

He got 17 in all competitions last season, not bad going at all.

Marcus Rashford (Manchester United) – £3.5m

The Red Devils could have another tough campaign in the Premier League, or they could bounce back.

If they do the latter then Rashford, their current main striker, is likely to get the goals for them

Rashford has signed a new contract at Man United
Getty - Contributor

Che Adams (Southampton) – £1.5m

The 23-year-old hit 22 goals and got four assists in the Championship last season.

He really troubled defences in the second tier and you wouldn’t put it past him doing the same in the Premier League too.

LaLiga transfer update: Real Madrid and Atlético look to sell talents and sign key targets, including Paul Pogba and Christian Eriksen

16 Jul

Real Madrid and Atlético Madrid plan several more big moves in the coming weeks in their quest to catch Barcelona, but both sides from the Spanish capital need to offload talent to provide the funding for their targets.

talkSPORT details the names most likely to move from Madrid to England, Italy and elsewhere.

Atletico Madrid manager Diego Simeone and Real boss Zinedine Zidane have work to do this summer
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It has already been a busy summer of transfers in LaLiga but in the coming weeks the movement in and out of Spain’s capital is expected to shift up a gear.

With Barcelona winning the league title by a comfortable margin for the second season in a row, both runners-up Atlético Madrid as well as Real Madrid have a number of further moves planned to try and topple the Catalans.

Paul Pogba and/or Christian Eriksen are the two remaining marquee signings Los Blancos hope to pull off, while highly-rated Espanyol centre-back Mario Hermoso and Madrid outcast James Rodríguez are high on The Colchoneros’ agenda.

If Zinedine Zidane is to strengthen his midfield as desired then a significant sum in transfer fees and wages will be needed to complete the moves, while Atleti will also require major liquidity to pay their Colombian target’s salary in particular.

Hermoso’s personal terms won’t be anywhere near as costly and have been agreed with Atlético for some time, but while the risk of seeing the defender move to the Metropolitano for free next summer means current club Espanyol are warming to a bid below his €40million buyout clause, the eventual transfer fee is still likely to be a significant one for the Rojiblancos to absorb.

That means at least one sacrifice for Diego Simeone, and the leading candidate is the manager’s compatriot Ángel Correa.

Though never a nailed-on starter, the diminutive forward has been a staple pick for Cholo as either a rotation player, option from the bench or tactical variation, and has proven to be particularly useful when Atleti are asked to play in tighter spaces thanks to his low centre of gravity and skill under pressure.

That trait once earned Correa comparisons with fellow Argentinian Sergio Aguero, but the younger attacker has yet to develop the same finishing touch as his countryman.

Angel Correa celebrates his goal against Valencia last season
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The 24-year-old’s return of 30 goals and 23 assists in 188 games is no longer enough to make him untouchable for Simeone, so Atlético will now look to profit from his decent standing in the market.

A second Colchoneros departure which won’t bring in the same amount in a fee but would lesson the load on their wage bill is striker Nikola Kalinic.

Bought from AC Milan last summer, the Croatian worked hard and conducted himself well over 2018/19 but rarely started, and was quickly superseded by winter signing Álvaro Morata, who better fits Simeone’s vision of an energetic forward line.

The signing of fresh back-up forward Ivan Saponjic this summer means Kalinic has even less of a chance of playing next year so, like Correa, Atleti will look to England and Italy to move him on.

Atletico Madrid’s Croatian striker Nikola Kalinic celebrates after scoring against Deportivo Alaves
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For Madrid meanwhile, a bloated squad with overbooking in key positions means there is no shortage of potential exits, but while the likes of Isco or Gareth Bale will be more complicated to offload due to their wage demands, a departure for Dani Ceballos is much more likely to crystallise.

The midfielder has a frosty relationship with Zidane, and has already expressed his desire to play 40 games next season in an attempt to make Spain’s Euro 2020 squad.

That’s a target he can only achieve away from the Santiago Bernabéu, and with a starring role in Spain’s UEFA European Under-21 Championship win helping to generate interest among Premier League sides, Madrid hope to capitalise and extract maximum value while the hype is still high.

Dani Ceballos celebrates winning the European Under-21 Championship with Spain this summer
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Further up the pitch, back-up striker Mariano is also being directed towards the door after Madrid’s signing of Luka Jovic made it clear that Zidane’s priorities lie elsewhere.

Youth product Mariano was only brought back to the Spanish capital last summer but rarely played when Los Blancos were still competing for silverware, and tellingly, was dropped entirely in the final two games of the season during Zidane’s so-called ‘casting’ phase. 

Even though he only played 511 minutes across the league and Champions League in 2018/19 however, the Catalan centre-forward still managed to score four goals in that sparse time on the pitch, and his obvious potential coupled with a solid record at former team Lyon means he still holds a decent market value.

Briefings in Madrid cite as many as 10 interested parties this summer, including Tottenham and Arsenal, but while it is almost certainly exaggerated in an attempt to create hype, a need to facilitate strengthening elsewhere means the number seven’s days are still likely to be numbered.

Real Madrid forward Mariano celebrates scoring against Villarreal
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Ultimately, both Madrid sides are acutely aware that they need new blood and fresh talent to try and change the dominance of Barcelona at the top of LaLiga.

Yet both rely on buyers to help inject the funds necessary to make their key targets a reality. That should create opportunities for other clubs to profit in the summer window, and guarantees movement between now and the start of the season.