Five Man United transfers for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer in January, including Tottenham’s Christian Eriksen and West Ham youngster Declan Rice

26 Sep

It’s been a pretty dismal start to the season for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and his Manchester United side.

The Red Devils have two wins, two draws and two defeats from their opening six games, scoring eight goals – as many as rivals Manchester City scored in just one game over the weekend, in their 8-0 rout of Watford.

Manchester United have had a torrid campaign so far
AFP or licensors

Their latest 2-0 loss to West Ham has unsurprisingly led to a barrage of criticism, with legendary former midfielder Roy Keane saying ‘it’s scary how far they’ve fallen’ since the club’s title-winning days under Sir Alex Ferguson.

And despite spending nearly £150million on Harry Maguire, Daniel James and Aaron Wan-Bissaka over the summer, it’s clear there is plenty more to do in the transfer market if the club wants to compete at the top with Man City and Liverpool.

A defensive midfielder, an attacking midfielder and a striker is what appears to be most needed at the club, so who should United target in January?

talkSPORT.com has identified five players United should target if they have any hope of reaching the top four this season…


Declan Rice (West Ham)

United are crying out for a defensive midfielder, with the performances of Nemanja Matic deteriorating and Scott McTominay not an out-and-out holding midfielder.

A player is desperately needed to sit in front of the back four and provide Paul Pogba with the freedom to get forward – and Declan Rice fits the bill.

He is young and English – which is seemingly Solskjaer’s criteria – and he is already a first-team regular for the Hammers and an England international.

According to reports, United could test the water with a £90m bid next summer – however, should results worsen before the turn of the year, Solskjaer may have to find cover immediately and test West Ham with a January bid.

United should target Rice in January
AFP or licensors

Kai Havertz (Bayer Leverkusen)

Another player United should go all out to sign is German sensation Havertz.

Havertz scored 20 goals for Leverkusen in all competitions last season is one of the hottest young talents in Germany.

He recently made it clear he wants a move next summer and United have reportedly been told that they will pay have to £90m if they want to sign him.

According to the Daily Express, Solskjaer is ready to join a host of top European clubs who want to lure the 20-year-old away from Leverkusen.

The Norwegian boss faces competition from Bayern Munich, Real Madrid, Barcelona, Manchester City and Liverpool – who have all shown an interest in signing the German international.

Havertz is one of the brightest talents in Germany
Getty - Contributor

Christian Eriksen (Tottenham)

Should United fail in their pursuit of Havertz, they should go all out for Spurs playmaker Christian Eriksen.

The Dane is clearly unsettled at the club and has looked out of sorts this season.

The north London club may be willing to cash in on the midfielder before his contract runs out in the summer – but it is believed he want a move to Spain and also wishes to play in the Champions League.

On his day, Eriksen is one of the very best creative players in the world – and his 50 goals and 60 assists in just over 200 Premier League appearances serve as evidence for that.

The 27-year-old is Premier League proven and would have no difficulty in adjusting to the English game – Solskjaer shouldn’t think twice about trying to sign him in January.

Eriksen has looked out of sorts this season
Getty Images - Getty

Mario Mandzukic (Juventus)

Mandzukic reportedly wants a Premier League transfer in January – and the experienced marksman may be the perfect short-term option up front for the Red Devils.

United were close to signing the veteran forward during the summer – but Ed Woodward pulled out of a deal, believing £14m was too much to pay for a 33-year-old.

The Juventus striker has offers on the table from Qatar, however, Tuttosport report Mandzukic is holding out for offers from England.

Whether it’s a short-term six month loan deal or even a permanent contract, Mandzukic could be a handy acquisition as he guarantees goals.

Mandzukic could be a solid short-term signing for Juventus
Getty - Contributor

Erling Haaland (Red Bull Salzburg)

Another option United have is to target the promising teenager Haaland.

The wonderkid of Red Bull Salzburg lit up the Champions League in his very first appearance last week, hitting a first-half hat-trick in devastating fashion.

United watched Haaland back when Solskjaer was his manager at Molde and he is a big admirer of the forward.

“He can become a top striker for sure,” Solskjaer said in July 2018. “He reminds me of the type of striker Lukaku is.”

Signing Haaland undoubtedly comes with its risks due to his inexperience, but if it pays off United may have sorted a No.9 for years to come.

Haaland is one to watch this season following a stunning start to the season
Getty - Contributor

Saturday is GameDay on talkSPORT as we bring you three LIVE Premier League commentaries across our network.

LIVE on talkSPORT

Check out all the live commentaries coming up across the talkSPORT network this week

  • Portsmouth vs Southampton (Tuesday, 7:45pm) – talkSPORT
  • Arsenal vs Nottingham Forest (Tuesday, 7:45pm) – talkSPORT 2
  • MK Dons vs Liverpool (Wednesday, 7:45pm) – talkSPORT
  • Manchester United vs Rochdale (Wednesday, 7:45pm) – talkSPORT 2
  • Stoke vs Nottingham Forest (Friday, 7:45pm) – talkSPORT 2
  • Sheffield United vs Liverpool (Saturday, 12:30pm) – talkSPORT
  • QPR vs West Bromwich Albion (Saturday, 12:30pm) – talkSPORT 2
  • Chelsea vs Brighton (Saturday, 3pm) – talkSPORT 2
  • Everton vs Manchester City (Saturday, 5:30pm) – talkSPORT

Five Man United transfers for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer in January, including Tottenham’s Christian Eriksen and West Ham youngster Declan Rice

25 Sep

It’s been a pretty dismal start to the season for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and his Manchester United side.

The Red Devils have two wins, two draws and two defeats from their opening six games, scoring eight goals – as many as rivals Manchester City scored in just one game over the weekend, in their 8-0 rout of Watford.

Manchester United have had a torrid campaign so far
AFP or licensors

Their latest 2-0 loss to West Ham has unsurprisingly led to a barrage of criticism, with legendary former midfielder Roy Keane saying ‘it’s scary how far they’ve fallen’ since the club’s title-winning days under Sir Alex Ferguson.

And despite spending nearly £150million on Harry Maguire, Daniel James and Aaron Wan-Bissaka over the summer, it’s clear there is plenty more to do in the transfer market if the club wants to compete at the top with Man City and Liverpool.

A defensive midfielder, an attacking midfielder and a striker is what appears to be most needed at the club, so who should United target in January?

talkSPORT.com has identified five players United should target if they have any hope of reaching the top four this season…


Declan Rice (West Ham)

United are crying out for a defensive midfielder, with the performances of Nemanja Matic deteriorating and Scott McTominay not an out-and-out holding midfielder.

A player is desperately needed to sit in front of the back four and provide Paul Pogba with the freedom to get forward – and Declan Rice fits the bill.

He is young and English – which is seemingly Solskjaer’s criteria – and he is already a first-team regular for the Hammers and an England international.

According to reports, United could test the water with a £90m bid next summer – however, should results worsen before the turn of the year, Solskjaer may have to find cover immediately and test West Ham with a January bid.

United should target Rice in January
AFP or licensors

Kai Havertz (Bayer Leverkusen)

Another player United should go all out to sign is German sensation Havertz.

Havertz scored 20 goals for Leverkusen in all competitions last season is one of the hottest young talents in Germany.

He recently made it clear he wants a move next summer and United have reportedly been told that they will pay have to £90m if they want to sign him.

According to the Daily Express, Solskjaer is ready to join a host of top European clubs who want to lure the 20-year-old away from Leverkusen.

The Norwegian boss faces competition from Bayern Munich, Real Madrid, Barcelona, Manchester City and Liverpool – who have all shown an interest in signing the German international.

Havertz is one of the brightest talents in Germany
Getty - Contributor

Christian Eriksen (Tottenham)

Should United fail in their pursuit of Havertz, they should go all out for Spurs playmaker Christian Eriksen.

The Dane is clearly unsettled at the club and has looked out of sorts this season.

The north London club may be willing to cash in on the midfielder before his contract runs out in the summer – but it is believed he want a move to Spain and also wishes to play in the Champions League.

On his day, Eriksen is one of the very best creative players in the world – and his 50 goals and 60 assists in just over 200 Premier League appearances serve as evidence for that.

The 27-year-old is Premier League proven and would have no difficulty in adjusting to the English game – Solskjaer shouldn’t think twice about trying to sign him in January.

Eriksen has looked out of sorts this season
Getty Images - Getty

Mario Mandzukic (Juventus)

Mandzukic reportedly wants a Premier League transfer in January – and the experienced marksman may be the perfect short-term option up front for the Red Devils.

United were close to signing the veteran forward during the summer – but Ed Woodward pulled out of a deal, believing £14m was too much to pay for a 33-year-old.

The Juventus striker has offers on the table from Qatar, however, Tuttosport report Mandzukic is holding out for offers from England.

Whether it’s a short-term six month loan deal or even a permanent contract, Mandzukic could be a handy acquisition as he guarantees goals.

Mandzukic could be a solid short-term signing for Juventus
Getty - Contributor

Erling Haaland (Red Bull Salzburg)

Another option United have is to target the promising teenager Haaland.

The wonderkid of Red Bull Salzburg lit up the Champions League in his very first appearance last week, hitting a first-half hat-trick in devastating fashion.

United watched Haaland back when Solskjaer was his manager at Molde and he is a big admirer of the forward.

“He can become a top striker for sure,” Solskjaer said in July 2018. “He reminds me of the type of striker Lukaku is.”

Signing Haaland undoubtedly comes with its risks due to his inexperience, but if it pays off United may have sorted a No.9 for years to come.

Haaland is one to watch this season following a stunning start to the season
Getty - Contributor

Saturday is GameDay on talkSPORT as we bring you three LIVE Premier League commentaries across our network.

LIVE on talkSPORT

Check out all the live commentaries coming up across the talkSPORT network this week

  • Portsmouth vs Southampton (Tuesday, 7:45pm) – talkSPORT
  • Arsenal vs Nottingham Forest (Tuesday, 7:45pm) – talkSPORT 2
  • MK Dons vs Liverpool (Wednesday, 7:45pm) – talkSPORT
  • Manchester United vs Rochdale (Wednesday, 7:45pm) – talkSPORT 2
  • Stoke vs Nottingham Forest (Friday, 7:45pm) – talkSPORT 2
  • Sheffield United vs Liverpool (Saturday, 12:30pm) – talkSPORT
  • QPR vs West Bromwich Albion (Saturday, 12:30pm) – talkSPORT 2
  • Chelsea vs Brighton (Saturday, 3pm) – talkSPORT 2
  • Everton vs Manchester City (Saturday, 5:30pm) – talkSPORT

England 5-3 Kosovo: Declan Rice calls out Twitter user who criticised West Ham star’s performance in Euro 2020 qualifier

11 Sep

Declan Rice responded to one of his critics on social media after an error resulted in England conceding during their defeat of Kosovo on Tuesday.

The West Ham midfielder gave the ball away in the lead up to their second goal, as the visitors put in an impressive second-half performance.

Declan Rice has now made five appearances for England
AFP or licensors

England went on to win 5-3 at St Mary’s to preserve their 100 per cent record in Euro 2020 qualifying, though they led 5-1 at the break and struggled after the restart.

Rice admitted England’s mistakes did take the shine off the victory.

“I thought first half I was really good along with the rest of the team,” he said after the game.

“In the second half I made a mistake and that has taken the gloss off it for me.

“We are a real threat going forward but we need to keep it tight at the back and stop making mistakes.

“We need to look at the goals we have let in. A mistake from myself, sloppy, I could have done better there and it takes the gloss off it.”

Rice owned up to his mistake but that did not stop one Twitter user having a dig at him.

After the game the 20-year-old wrote: “2 wins from 2. Another good nights work from the boys. Lots to improve on but we keep working @England.”

One user with the handle @shoutinghorse replied: “Little tip mate, don’t pass the ball to the opposition.”

Rice had the perfect reply, however, quote tweeting the message for all the world to see, and writing: “We all make mistakes. Part & parcel of the game. I will learn from it & improve.”

Rice is widely regarded as one of the best young midfielders in the world game and his performances for West Ham have resulted in interest from the likes of Man United and Man City.

West Ham news: Declan Rice expresses delight for midfield partner Jack Wilshere for overcoming injury hell

8 Aug

Declan Rice expects West Ham team-mate Jack Wilshere to play a major role for the Hammers this season.

Wilshere has seen his career hampered by various injuries, managing just four league starts for West Ham since joining the club from Arsenal last summer.

Wilshere has performed well for West Ham during pre-season
Getty Images - Getty

But the 27-year-old has declared himself fit for the new campaign following some impressive pre-season form.

And Rice, who will likely partner Wilshere in midfield, says it’s a privilege to play alongside the former Arsenal man.

“One I’m really happy for is Jack Wilshere,” Rice told talkSPORT.

“Watching him over the years and now having him here, he’s a real top, top player.

“We’ve grown really close to be honest, we played with each other towards the end of last season and in pre-season and to be lining up with someone like Jack next to you it gives you a hell of a lot of confidence.

Rice joined Ally McCoist and Alan Brazil on the Sports Breakfast
@talkSPORT on Twitter

“All the lads are really fired up for the new season and there’s no better way to start than Man City at home. We’re raring to go.

“All the lads are looking really good, really strong. We’ve had a structure the manager has stuck to and everyone has come through it really well.”

Former West Ham winger Trevor Sinclair previously told talkSPORT that Wilshere could be like a new signing for the Hammers this season.

LIVE on talkSPORT

Saturday is GameDay on talkSPORT, beginning in east London

  • West Ham vs Manchester City (Saturday, 12:30pm) – talkSPORT
  • Leeds vs Nottingham Forest (Saturday, 12:30pm) – talkSPORT 2
  • Crystal Palace vs Everton (Saturday, 3pm) – talkSPORT 2
  • Tottenham vs Aston Villa (Saturday, 5:30pm) – talkSPORT

He said: “Wilshere could be really key if he can keep fit.

“If they can get him out on the pitch, that would be a massive boost.

“The amount of IQ and experience he’s got at the top level is incredible.”


Saturday is GameDay on talkSPORT and talkSPORT 2 as we become your go-to destination for all the Premier League action. We’ll bring you three LIVE Premier League commentaries across all time slots on Saturday – 12.30pm, 3pm and 5.30pm – delivering award-winning coverage to more GameDay listeners than ever.

Declan Rice can’t wait for Tottenham vs West Ham and is relishing facing £55m signing Tanguy Ndombele

8 Aug

West Ham ace Declan Rice is relishing facing Tottenham this season and is particularly looking forward to playing against Tanguy Ndombele.

Ndombele joined Spurs from Lyon in a £55million transfer earlier in the summer and has impressed fans with his pre-season displays.

Tanguy Ndombele in action for Tottenham against Juventus
Getty Images

“I’m really looking forward to playing against Ndombele,” Rice told talkSPORT. “I watched him in the Champions League last season and he looked like a top, top player.

“The French boys here were raving about him, saying what a good player he was, so I’m looking forward to playing against Spurs and looking forward to playing against him.”

The 20-year-old, though, couldn’t resist reminding everyone that West Ham were the only side to win at the new White Hart Lane last season, but he did back the Hammers’ rivals to fight Liverpool and Man City at the top of the Premier League.

LIVE on talkSPORT

Check out all the live Premier League commentaries coming up across the talkSPORT network this weekend

  • West Ham vs Manchester City (Saturday, 12:30pm) – talkSPORT
  • Leeds vs Nottingham Forest (Saturday, 12:30pm) – talkSPORT 2
  • Crystal Palace vs Everton (Saturday, 3pm) – talkSPORT 2
  • Tottenham vs Aston Villa (Saturday, 5:30pm) – talkSPORT

“Everything they’re doing now and the player’s they’ve got, they’ve definitely got the squad now to be challenging up there for titles, and I wouldn’t put it past them.”

Although impressed by the business of Tottenham, as well as Arsenal, Rice is still backing West Ham to have a strong campaign as a result of their transfer business, which included the signing of Albian Ajeti on deadline day.

We’ve really strengthened the squad as well,” the England international continued. “We’ve brought in some great players and have spent a lot of money and I think we’re one to look for this season, for sure.”

Saturday is GameDay on talkSPORT and talkSPORT 2 as we become your go-to destination for all the Premier League action. We’ll bring you three LIVE Premier League commentaries across all time slots on Saturday – 12.30pm, 3pm and 5.30pm – delivering award-winning coverage to more GameDay listeners than ever.

How West Ham could line up with new signing Albian Ajeti

8 Aug

Albian Ajeti could be a star for West Ham this season.

The striker joined the Hammers in an £8million deal from Basel on transfer deadline day.

Ajeti scored 15 goals in the Swiss Super League last term.

The 22-year-old has followed exciting attacking additions Sebastian Haller and Pablo Fornals through the door at the London Stadium this summer.

West Ham could challenge for a Europa League spot this season with Ajeti hoping to impress in England.

4-4-2

Hammers boss Manuel Pellegrini often played with two strikers during his time in charge of Manchester City, which saw him win the Premier League title in 2014.

It could result in Ajeti partnering £45million club-record signing Haller up front with Declan Rice and fit-again Jack Wilshere supporting in midfield.

Felipe Anderson is likely to operate on the left wing after a successful debut 2018/19 Premier League campaign and Spain Under-21 star Pablo Fornals or Manuel Lanzini could battle it out for a starting place on the right side.

West Ham are looking strong ahead of the new season
buildlineup.com

4-2-3-1

Haller is expected to be West Ham’s first-choice striker this season, however, a drop in form or injury could see Ajeti called upon.

Playing in his preferred no.10 role, Lanzini would offer bags of creativity for Ajeti to thrive on, and Wilshere could dictate the play from a more defensive position alongside Rice.

Could Albian Ajeti star for West Ham in a lone striker role?
buildlineup.com

Joe Cole EXCLUSIVE: Former West Ham midfielder hails Declan Rice and praises Mark Noble for playing key role in youngster’s development

31 Jul

Joe Cole has hailed West Ham skipper Mark Noble for the role he has played throughout Declan Rice’s development into a star for club and country.

Rice, 20, has emerged as a first-team regular at the London Stadium over the past two seasons and former Hammer Cole believes Noble’s influence on and off the field has hugely benefited the England international.

Joe Cole has heaped praise on Mark Noble, left, for his role in Declan Rice’s development
Getty Images - Getty

Speaking exclusively to talkSPORT, he said: “Declan Rice is very tactically astute.

“Declan has got an old head on young shoulders and is in the right position at the right time.

“Credit has to go to Mark Noble as well, who I know looks after him and acts as a mentor.

“If you’ve got a good senior professional within a team who has a strong voice on the pitch, that can take your game up by 10 to 15 per cent.

“I believe those two formed a really good partnership towards the end of last season.”

The former West Ham midfielder joined Adrian Durham and Matt Holland live on talkSPORT on Tuesday afternoon
talkSPORT

Meanwhile, Cole, who trained with the young midfielder at West Ham during his off-season while playing in America, has hailed Rice for staying in east London to continue his progression – rather than making a big-money move to one of the giants of English football.

“The academy coaches at West Ham have probably got a little back of stick over the last 10 or so years, because that line of players who were coming through during my era sort of dried up a bit,” he explained.

“What I like about Declan is that his mentality is like a throwback. He really loves the sport and he really loves the game.

“He loves winning and he loves competing. When I was playing in America [with Tampa Bay Rowdies] I spent a bit of time with West Ham.

“I actually trained with the youth team to keep fit, so I was lucky enough to play with him.

“He just had that mentality – it’s something you can’t measure against.

“I think he’s done the right thing in staying at West Ham. He needs to develop, and there’s still levels for him to get too, and he’s at the right club to do that.”

One player every Premier League side cannot afford to sell in the transfer window

14 Jul

The return of the Premier League season is edging closer and, as ever, the summer transfer window is still providing fans with plenty of entertainment.

Although the new Merlin ball is yet to be kicked, all 20 sides in the English top-flight are still anxiously hoping to improve their squad.

The Premier League season is agonisingly close, with plenty of transfer business still to be done
getty images

Thus far, Manchester United have been the most aggressive side in the market. After capturing Daniel James from Swansea City for £15million, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer went big and parted with £50m to sign Aaron Wan-Bissaka from Crystal Palace.

Of course, there are no shortage of potential departures from Old Trafford this season.

Romelu Lukaku and Paul Pogba have both been linked with lucrative moves this summer, with the Belgium international seemingly set to move to a Serie A side.

And while the sales of both men would see a sizeable injection of cash pumped into Old Trafford, it begs the question as to how important they both are to United.

Pogba and Lukaku are both expected to leave Manchester United this summer
getty images

This is a question a number of Premier League sides are asking after seeing some of their star players also linked with moves away.

Wilfried Zaha is undoubtedly adored at Crystal Palace, but if you travel to south London and find Eagles fans who would not sell him for an extortionate price to Arsenal, they are probably in the minority.

Similarly, West Ham United sold Marko Arnautovic to Shanghai SIPG earlier this week. But fans in the East End remain optimistic about their prospects for the upcoming season.

So which players can be considering genuinely unstoppable for their sides? Scroll down to see the one player talkSPORT.com believes your Premier League side cannot afford to sell in the transfer window.

AFC Bournemouth – Nathan Ake

Nathan Ake has gone from Chelsea reject to Premier League powerhouse
getty images

Callum Wilson and Ryan Fraser are arguably Bournemouth’s two most important players. Going forward, the duo looked unstoppable at times last season.

But 24-year-old Ake is the main man at the Vitality, make no mistake about that.

Eddie Howe’s side have traditionally suffered dips of form throughout the season, but it is the fortitude of Ake which helped see them through last year.

Averaging 6.1 clearances a game, the Netherlands international is a classic example of what a good centre-back should be.

Arsenal – Alexandre Lacazette

Arsenal’s player of the season, Lacazette is a cunning and selfless centre forward
getty images

Upon signing for Arsenal in 2017, many fans believed Lacazette was simply brought in to score goals. After all, he had managed to net 129 times in 275 games for previous side Lyon.

But the France international has a vast array of redeeming features which have endeared him to Arsenal fans.

His hold-up play, determination and willingness to play anywhere for his team were key factors behind the fan’s decision to award him the Player of the Year Award.

With 13 Premier League goals to his name last year, the Gunners striker is vital to the way Unai Emery wants to play.

Aston Villa – Jack Grealish

A boyhood Villa fan, Grealish will need to continue his fantastic form
getty images

It’s not very often modern day fans get to see a real-life Roy of the Rovers story played out, but Grealish is doing just that.

The boyhood Villa fan thought he was signing for Tottenham last summer due to the club’s financial struggles, but the owners came in and locked him down to a new deal.

He then struggled with a shin injury, but lead the Villans to 13 wins out of 16 in the Championship to lead them to the Play-Offs.

The 23-year-old is expected to retain the captain’s armband when the Premier League season kicks off and will be crucial to their survival chances.

Brighton and Hove Albion – Lewis Dunk

The centre-half is Brighton’s leader on the pitch
getty images

When Chris Hughton was surprisingly given the sack at the end of last season, a stunned silence must have fallen over the Amex Stadium.

The Seagulls had just secured a third consecutive season in the Premier League and Hughton is recognised as being one of the nicest men in football.

Given Brighton are now experiencing an overhaul under new boss Graham Potter, the last thing they can afford to do is lose their captain.

The England international has helped Brighton keep 17 clean sheets since arriving in the Premier League, maintaining a tackle success rate of 54 per cent as well.

Burnley – James Tarkowski

After Michael Keane’s departure, Tarkowski stepped up to the mantle at Turf Moor
getty images

Michael Keane’s move to Everton threatened to send Burnley spiralling back into the Championship, but the stoic Sean Dyche dug his heels in and the Clarets are still a Premier League side.

Perhaps no player better epitomises that spirit than Tarkowski. The 26-year-old was promoted after Keane’s move to Merseyside and has worked hard to keep his place.

Now an England international, the centre-back is thriving at Turf Moor. Averaging 6.7 tackles and 1.6 clearances per game, Tarkowski is Burnley’s most important player.

With Harry Maguire potentially leaving Leicester, Dyche has been quick to slap a £40m price tag on the former Oldham Athletic defender.

Chelsea – N’Golo Kante

Kante is one of the best midfielders in the world, without a shadow of a doubt
getty images

Of all the players to suffer under Murizio Sarri’s reign at Chelsea, Kante was perhaps the one who bore the brunt of the Italian’s rigid tactics.

Played in a more advanced midfield role, the France international struggled to produce the calibre of performances fans have begun accustomed to. But you don’t win back-to-back Premier League titles and then the World Cup if you’re a bad player.

Despite Kante’s indifferent season, Frank Lampard simply HAS to keep the midfielder and play him in his strongest role.

On his day, there are few better defensive midfielders in the world. During the 2016/17 season, Kante made 127 tackles, 82 interceptions and a staggering 275 recoveries.

Crystal Palace – Luka Milivojevic

The Serbia international is vital to the Eagles
getty images

A deadline day signing from Olympiacos in 2017 under Sam Allardyce, few Palace fans knew just how influential Milivojevic would become.

The Serbia international has since become the first-choice midfielder, the designated set-piece taker and now Eagles captain.

Strong in the tackle and an excellent reader of the game, the 28-year-old is unerringly consistent and so reliable. He averaged 2.4 tackles and 1.9 interceptions a game, whilst maintaining an 80 per cent pass success rate.

With Zaha seemingly off, Palace will need Milivojevic’s leadership abilities to steady the ship at Selhurst Park.

Everton – Gylfi Sigurdsson

Sigurdsson is one of the most creative players in the Premier League
getty images

A £45m signing from Swansea City, Sigurdsson is finally getting the recognition he deserves at Everton.

The Iceland international may not possess the pace of modern day attacking midfielders, but his technical ability is impressive.

Last season, he scored 13 goals and registered six assists as the Toffees enjoyed a comfortable season under Marco Silva.

But the Portuguese boss will want to push on and with Andre Gomes signed on a permanent deal, Sigurdsson’s role at Goodison Park has become even more vital.

Leicester City – Wilfred Ndidi

It may not be long before the biggest clubs in the Premier League start to go after Ndidi
getty images

While it would be terrible to lose Harry Maguire to either Manchester City or Manchester United, there are question marks about how much further the England international can develop.

Already an outstanding ball-carrier as well as a solid defender, the 26-year-old is nearing his prime years. And while he is already fantastic, Ndidi could be exceptional. He made 143 tackles in the top-flight last season – more than any other player.

It is almost scary to think the midfielder is only 22 years of age, he was a regular starter for Nigeria at the World Cup last summer and appeared in every Premier League game for the Foxes in 2018/19.

Tenacious in the tackle and averaging 52.2 passes per game, the youngster is exactly what a manager wants from a holding midfielder. If they lose him, there are very players in world football with as much potential they could afford to get.

Liverpool – Virgil van Dijk

The world is running out of superlatives to describe Van Dijk
getty images

Perhaps the easiest name to put on this list, Van Dijk is one of the best players in the world and is set to become the first defender to win the Ballon d’Or since Fabio Cannavaro since 2006.

Statistically, the Netherlands captain was superb; no-one has completed a dribble past Virgil van Dijk in any of his last 64 appearances in all competitions for Liverpool. While Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane are important, Van Dijk is irreplaceable.

So even if a ludicrous bid comes in for the 27-year-old, Liverpool simply cannot afford to sell him. Not just because of his on-pitch performances, but for the message it sends to the rest of the world.

After winning the Champions League, bowing to the financial pressure of a Real Madrid or a Barcelona suggests the Reds are weak. Keeping Van Dijk transcends football, it is a power move to reject any and every offer which finds its way to Anfield.

Manchester City – Bernardo Silva

The Portuguese epitomises the football Pep Guardiola wants to play
getty images

When the little Portuguese rocked up at the Etihad in 2017, many felt he would sit on the bench and play a bit part role for a few years until his namesake David decided to call it a day.

However, the 24-year-old has established himself as one of, if not the most important player in Pep Guardiola’s well-oiled City machine. He epitomises the type of football the Spaniard wants to play.

Silva made 1.4 tackles per game on average in the Premier League, but also managed to keep an exorbitantly high 86.1 per cent pass success rate, which for an attacking is sensational.

With seven goals and seven assists last season, the relentless Guardiola will expect more from a player whose pattern of growth seems exponential.

Manchester United – Paul Pogba

Love him or loathe him, Pogba has a star quality you cannot ignore
getty images

Perhaps the most divisive figure in world football at this time, everyone has an opinion on Paul Pogba.

Talented, yet temperamental, the France international wants out of Old Trafford. But it seems like a huge mistake to get rid of him.

Statistically speaking, Pogba was unmatched at Old Trafford. The 26-year-old scored 13 goals and got nine assists, more than anyone other Red Devil.

But, as with Van Dijk at Liverpool, selling Pogba would be a decision which transcends football. He is a marketable asset and letting him go suggests United can no longer keep, nor attract the best players in world football. He is the last genuine star in that squad.

Newcastle United – Fabian Schar

The centre half is cultured and composed on the ball
getty images

Newcastle United are in danger of free-falling out of the Premier League trap door and tumbling into the Championship.

Back in May when rumours of a wealthy investor began to circulate, odds began to shorten drastically on the Magpies signing Kylian Mbappe. But the rumours proved to not be true, with Rafael Benitez quickly plotting his escape route to China.

If relegation is to be staved off, the club MUST hold on to the quality players they have in the squad, with Schar the first.

The Switzerland international was Newcastle’s best player according to WhoScored, with a rating of 7.30. His no-nonsense defensive style is complimented by a knack of scoring important goals too.

Norwich City – Tom Trybull

The midfielder has played for many of the Germany youth teams
getty images

Daniel Farke’s revolution at Carrow Road is nothing short of spectacular, taking an average Canaries side from finishing 14th in the Championship to winning it in spectacular style.

And Trybull’s emergence from Alex Tettey’s shadow to become a first-team regular is testament to Farke’s ability. He will be crucial to Norwich’s chances of staying the division, especially considering they are unlikely to enjoy as much possession in the top-flight as they did last year.

A regular amongst the German youth teams, the midfielder seemed destined for mediocrity until he took his chance in East Anglia. According to Norwich’s Sporting Director, Stuart Webber, Trybull’s new coach had fought hard for the midfielder to come to Carrow Road.

He said: “He is lucky he has an outstanding coach who believes in him. Daniel fought for the opportunity for Tom. He came through very much on Daniel’s advice. I like people who are brave and willing to put themselves out of their comfort zone and pretty much beg for an opportunity.”

Sheffield United – John Egan

Egan is as crucial to the team on the pitch as he is off it
getty images

A club-record signing from Brentford, Egan has the potential to follow in the footsteps of former Blades hero Harry Maguire.

Egan endured loan spells with Crystal Palace, Sheffield United, Bradford City and Southend United, and has represented Ireland at under-17, under-19 and under-21 level.

He was released by Sunderland at the end of the 2013–14 season, and signed a 2-year deal with Gillingham in July 2014.

But now, he has established himself as a crucial member of Chris Wilder’s’ defence and his willingness to put his body on the line (as illustrated by his red card at Millwall) will be invaluable to securing a second Premier League season.

Southampton – Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg

With Mario Lemina seemingly off, the Saints cannot afford to lose another influential midfielder
getty images

A former Bayern Munich midfielder, Hojbjerg made the decision to join Southampton in 2016 after being convinced by Claude Puel.

Now working under his THIRD permanent manager in three years, the 23-year-old has taken over the captain’s armband and diligently carries on in midfield.

It is this behaviour which the Saints desperately crave and will need throughout the season. After having some of their best talents ripped from the south coast, Hojbjerg’s single-mindedness and determination is exactly what the club needs.

As illustrated by Mario Lemina, the upheaval at St Mary’s can unsettle players. But Hojbjerg’s unerring consistency will give fans hope of genuine progression in years to come.

Tottenham Hotspur – Heung-Min Son

While Harry Kane and Dele Alli are undoubtedly superstars, Son continues to defy critics on a regular basis
getty images

For several years, the former Bayer Leverkusen attacker was touted as just an ‘underrated’ option up front for Spurs.

But Son is much more than that, his pace and trickery make him a constant threat for 90 minutes, but it it his consistency and the addition of goals which makes him so special.

Harry Kane has shown a pattern of breaking down throughout the course of a season, perhaps linked to his importance for both club and country. In his absence, the South Korea international has led the line superbly.

Stats last season suggested Spurs actually won more games and scored more without Kane in their side, but with Son leading the line.

Watford – Abdoulaye Doucoure

The central midfielder has been linked with a move to PSG in the past
getty images

Watford enjoyed a terrific season last time out under Javi Gracia, reaching the FA Cup final. Although they were thumped by Manchester City, the season can still be classed as a success.

Much of that can be attributed to the presence of Abdoulaye Doucoure at the base of the Hornets’ midfield. Gracia was able to play a diamond in midfield which, thanks to Doucoure, meant Will Hughes and Roberto Pereyra flourished further forward.

Even from a deeper position, the 26-year-old managed to record six assists and chipped in with five goals. His strengths lie in winning the ball back and driving forward, maintaining a 83.5 per cent pass success rate and averaging 1.5 shots per game from a deeper position.

Paris Saint-Germain are reportedly still interested, with Liverpool also in the frame. The Frenchman wants to play Champion League football, but the Hornets must retain their star man if they want to build on their 11th-placed finish.

West Ham United – Declan Rice

If Rice were to leave, the Hammers would be very threadbare in midfield
getty images

For those who watched West Ham regularly last season, you will understand the hype around Rice.

A centre-back by trade, Maneul Pellegrini moved the 20-year-old into the heart of the midfield and he has not looked back, making his England debut later in the season.

He made more tackles than any other West Ham player (98), was second in passes (1,518) and third in interceptions (52).

Quite simply, he is the defensive shield Manuel Pellegrini needs in order to play the attacking brand of football he is famed for. Without Rice at the base of midfield, West Ham lost their opening four games of last season in convincing style.

Wolverhampton Wanderers – Diogo Jota

Jota scored nine goals and registered five assists last season
getty images

Ruben Neves is a superstar and Raul Jimenez is also an integral member of Nuno Espirito Santo’s squad, but Jota quickly showed he had the quality to become the main man.

Aged just 22, the versatile forward embodied all that was good about Wolves last season. Fearless and not afraid to attack, Jota scored nine goals and five assists in his debut campaign.

But what is more important is the calibre of opposition he scored against. Chelsea, Manchester United and Arsenal all conceded against the Portuguese star.

He picked up 11 yellow cards which, although suggests a lack of discipline, is also an indicator of how he is willing to get stuck for his team and even make the necessary cynical fouls when tracking back to stop the momentum of the opposition.

Top 20 most valuable Under-21 wonderkids, including Liverpool, Arsenal, and Chelsea aces

11 Jul

The Premier League has a plethora of young talents and five some of the most valuable in world football, according to a study.

Soccerex 20 Under-21 report has used in-depth methodology and analysis to rank football’s brightest talents.

Kylian Mbappe is one of the world’s best young talents
Getty

For each player born after January 1, 1998, Soccerex 20 have analysed a player’s national team appearances, minutes played, goals scored, injuries, media value and technical quality.

Chelsea, West Ham, Manchester City, Arsenal, Liverpool starlets are in very good company too.

Below, talkSPORT.com take a look at Soccerex 20’s most valued Under-21 players…

20. Callum Hudson-Odoi (Chelsea)

Age: 18
Value: €31.7million (£28.43m)

Hudson-Odoi enjoyed a successful 2018/19 breakthrough season at Chelsea, making 23 appearances.

His form also resulted in an England call-up and senior debut in March.

The winger had been linked with a £35million move to Bayern Munich in January, but with Frank Lampard now at the helm, he is reportedly close to signing a new deal with the Blues.

Callum Hudson-Odoi will be given first-team chances under Frank Lampard
Getty

19. Samuel Chukwueze (Villarreal)

Age: 20
Value: €32.3million (£28.97m)

Chukwueze scored eight goals in a poor Villarreal team that finished 14th in LaLiga last season.

Liverpool are believed to be tracking the tricky winger.

The speedster netted his first goal for Nigeria in a 2-1 win over South Africa at the Africa Cup of Nations on Wednesday.

Samuel Chukwueze is currently playing for Nigeria at the Africa Cup of Nations
Getty

18. Ryan Sessegnon (Fulham)

Age: 19
Value: €33.8million (£30.31m)

Sessegnon’s value has dropped by nearly €20million following Fulham’s relegation to the Championship.

After Sessegnon’s 16 league goals helped the Cottagers into the Premier League in the 2017/18 season, he struggled to replicate his form in the top-flight, netting just twice.

He has been linked with a summer move to long-term admirers Tottenham.

Ryan Sessegnon has bags of potential
Getty

17. Rodrygo (Real Madrid)

Age: 18
Value: €35.3million (£31.66m)

Rodrygo has been part of Real Madrid’s £250million-plus spending spree this summer.

He has arrived along with Eden Hazard, Ferland Mendy, Eder Militao and Luka Jovic in big-money moves.

Rodrygo will continue his development at Real Madrid
Getty

16. Ibrahima Konate (RB Leipzig)

Age: 20
Value: €36.3million (£32.56m)

Konate was an ever-present in the meanest Bundesliga defence last term.

RB Leipzig conceded just 29 league goals as they finished third in Germany’s top-flight.

Konate, a France Under-21 international, made 37 appearances in all competitions.

Ibrahima Konate played for France at the European Under-21 Championship last month
Getty

15. Declan Rice (West Ham)

Age: 20
Value: €39million (£34.98m)

Rice has massively improved under Manuel Pellegrini over the past year.

Partnering club captain Mark Noble in midfield, the versatile ace has become one of West Ham’s most crucial players.

After switching his international allegiance from the Republic of Ireland to England, Rice made his senior Three Lions debut in March.

Despite signing a new contract in December, Rice is understood to be a transfer target for Manchester United.

Declan Rice has been dubbed a future West Ham captain by club legend Tony Cottee
Getty

14. Phil Foden (Manchester City)

Age: 19
Value: €40.8million (£36.59m)

Pep Guardiola started Foden in crucial games against Cardiff, Tottenham and Leicester in City’s successful title run-in last season.

But those were the only starts he managed as he competed against Kevin De Bruyne, David Silva, Bernardo Silva, Ilkay Gundogan and Fernandinho in star-studded midfield.

Foden’s quality was on show once more in the European Under-21 Championship when he scored a superb solo goal in a 2-1 defeat to France.

He is a future England star, but needs to play more games in the upcoming season.

Phil Foden is highly regarded by Pep Guardiola
Getty

13. Houssem Aouar (Lyon)

Age: 21
Value: €41.6million (£37.31m)

Aouar’s performances put him in the spotlight over Nabil Fekir at times last season. The midfielder’s seven goals and seven assists have alerted Liverpool and Manchester City.

His midfield partner Tanguy Ndombele joined Tottenham in a club-record £55million deal – and Aouar could be the next Lyon star to leave for the Premier League.

Houssem Aouar battled with Lionel Messi in the Champions League last season
Getty

12. Matteo Guendouzi (Arsenal)

Age: 20
Value: €42.8million (£38.39m)

Arsenal signed Guendouzi for a modest £7million fee from Ligue 2 club Lorient last summer.

And the Frenchman impressed in his debut season at the Emirates, making a colossal 48 appearances.

The Gunners are reportedly in the process of offering Guendouzi a new contract.

Matteo Guendouzi has been a huge hit for Arsenal
Getty

11. Nicolo Zaniolo (Roma)

Age: 20
Value: €45.3million (£40.63m)

Zaniolo is certainly one for the future.

He started 20 of Roma’s 38 Serie A games last term and has been touted as a replacement for wantaway Tottenham star Christian Eriksen.

But his agent, Claudio Vigorelli, has poured cold water on an imminent transfer.

He said: “To date, as far as we are concerned, no negotiations are underway with any international or Italian club.”

Nicolo Zaniolo is wanted by Tottenham
Getty

10. Eder Militao (Real Madrid)

Age: 21
Value: €54.6million (£48.97m)

Militao could be a long-term replacement for Real Madrid captain Sergio Ramos, who turns 34 next March.

The central defender was Zinedine Zidane’s first signing of the summer.

Eder Militao arrived from Porto earlier this summer
Getty

9. Christian Pulisic (Chelsea)

Age: 20
Value: €57.2million (£51.30m)

Chelsea signed Pulisic in a £58million deal from Borussia Dortmund in January, but he was loaned back to the German club for the remainder of the 2018/19 season.

The USA winger has big shoes to fill following the departure of Hazard to Real Madrid.

Christian Pulisic will need to fill the void left by Eden Hazard at Chelsea
Getty

8. Vinicius Junior (Real Madrid)

Age: 18
Value: €60.2million (£53.99m)

Vinicius tore ligaments in his ankle in March, which stalled his development in what was an encouraging debut season at the Bernabeu.

The arrival of Hazard means there will be even more competition for a starting place next term.

Vinicius Junior is set to rival Eden Hazard for a starting place at Real Madrid
Getty

7. Gianluigi Donnarumma (AC Milan)

Age: 20
Value: €67.9million (£60.90m)

Donnarumma is considered one of the best young goalkeepers in the world and it would take a hefty fee to prize him away from the San Siro.

He is Italy’s first-choice goalkeeper and is set to star for them at Euro 2020.

Gianluigi Donnarumma is just 19
Getty

6. Joao Felix (Atletico Madrid)

Age: 19
Value: €71.8million (£64.40m)

Felix scored 15 league goals to help Benfica win Primeira Liga last season, which convinced Atletico Madrid to spend £113million to land him.

The Portugal international has bags of potential – and Atletico will be hoping he fulfils it with them.

Joao Felix could be the next Cristiano Ronaldo
Getty

5. Trent Alexander-Arnold (Liverpool)

Age: 20
Value: €73.6million (£66.01m)

Alexander-Arnold is regarded as one of the best right-backs in the Premier League.

The Liverpool academy graduate registered a whopping 12 assists as his side finished just a point behind Manchester City last term.

At just 20 years old, he is only going to get better.

Trent Alexander-Arnold helped Liverpool win a sixth Champions League trophy last month
Getty

4. Kai Havertz (Bayer Leverkusen)

Age: 20
Value: €74.2million (£m)

Havertz is one of Germany’s brightest young stars.

Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich are keen on the midfielder, who scored 17 league goals last season.

Kai Havertz is developing into a fine midfielder
Getty

3. Matthijs de Ligt (Ajax)

Age: 19
Value: €74.5million (£66.82m)

Juventus are leading the race to sign De Ligt amid competition from Barcelona and Manchester United.

The defender starred for Ajax as they knocked Juve and Real Madrid out of the Champions League last season.

De Ligt’s transfer to the Serie A giants could make him the world’s most expensive defender, exceeding the £75million Liverpool spent on Virgil van Dijk in January 2018.

Matthijs de Ligt is on his way to becoming a football superstar
Getty

2. Jadon Sancho (Borussia Dortmund)

Age: 19
Value: €120.3million (£107.90m)

Sancho has become an England and Borussia Dortmund star in the past year.

His bold decision to leave Manchester City in 2017 has paid off. He netted 12 goals and registered 14 assists as Dortmund just missed out on a Bundesliga title last season.

Sancho has been heavily linked with a move to Manchester United this summer, but Dortmund have no intention of cashing in on him.

Jadon Sancho signed for Borussia Dortmund for just £8million in 2017
Getty

1. Kylian Mbappe

Age: 20
Value: €261.6million (£234.63m)

Mbappe has edged out Neymar to become the star man at Paris Saint-Germain.

His 33 Ligue 1 goals in 29 appearances saw PSG claim another top-flight title last term.

Real Madrid are reportedly trying to sign Mbappe, who also starred for France as they won the 2018 World Cup.

Kylian Mbappe is PSG’s star man
Getty

‘Declan Rice prank was funny, Jesse Lingard video was disrespectful’ – Ian Holloway takes another swipe at Manchester United star over obscene video

4 Jul

Ian Holloway has reopened the debate over Jesse Lingard and that obscene social media video, and again criticised the Manchester United midfielder for his ‘unacceptable’ behaviour.

Lingard hit the back pages for all the wrong reasons a few weeks ago after he posted a foul-mouthed video on social media from his post-season holiday on Miami.

The video shows the England international swearing and making a number of sexual comments, while a friend is seen mimicking a sex act in a bed.

Holloway was outraged by the clip, saying Lingard should be sacked or sold by Manchester United this summer after ‘bringing shame’ on the club.

The debate was rekindled on Thursday’s Sports Breakfast after Chelsea youngster Mason Mount shared a video of a prank on West Ham midfielder Declan Rice while on holiday in Dubai.

Rice was earlier filmed showing off his embarrassing dance moves in a boat, before apparently falling asleep. Mount decided to get the camera rolling again as he woke up his friend by screaming in his face – with hilarious results.

Mason Mount gave Declan Rice a bit of a scare on their holiday in Dubai
Instagram - masonmount10

And Holloway compared the two videos to explains how footballers have the right to ‘let their hair down’ in any way they want, as long as it’s done in the right way.

Explaining his previous Lingard comments, Holloway told talkSPORT: “I’ve got no problem with the way the world is now. Everybody’s got an iPhone, so when you’re relaxing and you’re letting your hair down and someone videos you, you can’t do much about that.

“But to be doing it yourself, to be bigging yourself up, it was out of character and it didn’t look right to me.

“I watched Declan Rice earlier on this morning, and that was funny – he can’t dance, he’s just a hopeless dancer for God’s sake.

Best leave it to the football, Declan!
Instagram - masonmount10

“Jesse Lingard is 27 and the responsibility comes at a cost. You have to always remember you’re always representing your club, particularly when it’s a club as famous as Manchester United.

“With the season they’ve had, I would suggest their fans aren’t very happy, that Jesse himself hasn’t played anywhere like he did the year before, and what I’m saying is you should be now getting yourself ready, son, and not filming that yourself.

“It’s unacceptable. You can let yourself do whatever you want, providing it’s respectful.

Jesse Lingard was slammed by Manchester United fans for embarrassing the club on social media
getty

“There was no respect in what he did, about the hotel, about the way he was talking about the ‘action’ this room and seen, there was no respect in that video.

“Sir Alex was so good and Man United were so good with his influence because of the values he put upon those players.

“So I’m saying to Jesse, come on son, that’s wrong.

“What I meant about putting him on the transfer list – this is not acceptable at this club. I hope he’s learned that, but why do it about yourself and then post it yourself? That’s silly, boy.

“It’s not right and not how he should be behaving. I know you have to let your hair down, but do it in a very sensible and respectful way.”

Listen back to Ian Holloway on the Alan Brazil Sports Breakfast IN FULL above