Chelsea cling on to claim first Premier League point with 1-1 draw against Leicester in Frank Lampard’s Stamford Bridge homecoming

18 Aug

Leicester City ruined Frank Lampard’s Chelsea homecoming after holding the Europa League holders to a 1-1 draw at Stamford Bridge.

In truth, the Foxes were unlucky to leave west London with just one point after spurning several glorious chances to win the game.

Mount scored on his home Premier League debut
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After being destroyed by Manchester United last Sunday, it seemed as though the UEFA Super Cup in midweek had drained the hosts as they clung on to claim their first point of the season.

Chelsea took the lead through Mason Mount after just seven minutes.

The home side had gone close through Pedro before Mount robbed Wilfred Ndidi who dwelt on the ball on the edge of his own area.

Mount then did well to wrap his foot around the ball and shoot past Kasper Schmeichel.

Wilfred Ndidi celebrates heading home the equaliser
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Chelsea failed to add to their tally before half-time as Leicester grew more into the game following their poor start.

The visitors failed to register a single shot on target in the opening 45 minutes but nearly created an opening when Jamie Vardy put Kepa Arrizabalaga under pressure as the Chelsea keeper hesitated before clearing a back pass.

Ndidi made up for his earlier error when he headed Leicester level after 66 minutes. James Maddison swung over a corner from the right and Ndidi rose highest to head powerfully home.

More to follow…

How the best Premier League XI would fare against the current Manchester City side, according to stats

13 Aug

David Moyes told talkSPORT he believes a team of the Premier League’s best players would struggle to beat Manchester City.

City have accumulated a combined 198 points from the past two seasons alone, more than Bournemouth have ever accrued in their entire top flight history.

Pep Guardiola has assembled a squad capable of dominating the Premier League for another decade
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The former Manchester United boss insists Pep Guardiola’s side, who have won the title for the past two seasons, don’t have a single weakness.

He told the Alan Brazil Sports Breakfast: “I was trying to think the other day if you could make a Premier League team up from all the teams that could topple Man City to win the league, and I think it would be very tough [to beat City].

“Even if you had a team that included all the top players in it.”

It comes after Jose Mourinho claimed the Man City ‘B team’ would be able to compete for the Premier League title, a statement talkSPORT.com was able to corroborate with statistics.

Raheem Sterling is establishing himself as one of the world’s best players under Guardiola’s tutelage
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The champions got their title defence off to a perfect start with a 5-0 thrashing of West Ham United on Saturday afternoon.

But Moyes’ claim got us thinking about how a hypothetical clash between City’s team from the weekend would fare against the best Premier League XI.

In order to achieve as fair a result as possible, we have decided to remove any subjective bias from the equation and use statistics compiled by WhoScored.com to generate our fictitious starting XI made up of players from the remaining 19 teams in the Premier League.

We would take the highest rated players from the 2018/19 season and put them into our team, before calculating an average rating for that side.

Then, we would look at City’s starting XI from the London Stadium, take each individual’s rating, before forming an average based on that.

Once we have completed this, we should be able to generate some sort of conclusion as to how City would compare to the best of the rest.

Of course, it is not a definitive answer given Guardiola chose to rest a number of key players in the East End, but the performance levels from each player were still exceptional.

Scroll down to see how the best of the Premier League compares to the current Manchester City side.

Manchester City XI

Below, you can see the WhoScored.com rating of every player who started for Manchester City this weekend.

MANCHESTER CITY RATINGS

Here’s how the Citizens fared against West Ham (ratings out of 10)

  • Ederson (GK) – 7.7
  • Kyle Walker (RB) – 7.7
  • John Stones (CB) – 7.5
  • Aymeric Laporte (CB) – 7.9
  • Oleksandr Zinchenko (LB) – 7.5
  • Rodri (CDM) – 7.8
  • Kevin De Bruyne (CM) – 8.7
  • David Silva (CM) – 6.9
  • Riyad Mahrez (RW) – 9.8
  • Raheem Sterling (LW) – 9.6
  • Gabriel Jesus (ST) – 7.8

And this how Pep Guardiola lined his side up for the clash.

This is how Man City started against West Ham
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Starting XI WhoScored.com average8.08

Premier League Best XI

Using data from the 2018/19 season, these are technically the best players for each position in the Premier League.

PREMIER LEAGUE XI

Here are the best players from last season, according to stats...

  • Lukasz Fabianski (GK) – 7.02
  • Trent Alexander Arnold (RB) – 7.4
  • Fabian Schar (CB) – 7.3
  • Virgil van Dijk (CB) – 7.4
  • Lucas Digne (LB) – 7.4
  • Paul Pogba (CM) – 7.3
  • Wilfred Ndidi (CM) – 7.21
  • Mohamed Salah (RW) – 7.6
  • Felipe Anderson (CAM) – 7.23
  • Sadio Mane (LW) – 7.4
  • Harry Kane (ST) – 7.4

And this is how that team might look.

The strongest Premier League XI, according to stats
buildlineup.com

Starting XI WhoScored.com average7.33

As we can see, the results suggest Manchester City’s strongest team would prove to be a challenge for even the best of the Premier League.

However, this does not mean we can take David Moyes’ statement as fact as there are a number of factors to take into account.

Moyes’ statement was based on one game, meaning this is the set of data we used. But to gain a more reliable set of results, we could have used an average for each Manchester City player from the past year.

Also, this City side train and play with one and another on a daily basis and have developed an acute understanding of a particular system. That being said, it would be extremely difficult to rule out a third successive Premier League title based on the unerring consistency the champions have become synonymous for.

Quite simply, we may well be looking at the greatest Premier League side in history.

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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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.

Africa Cup of Nations 2019 transfer targets to watch, including stars wanted by Liverpool, Arsenal, and Manchester United

21 Jun

The eagerly anticipated 32nd edition of the Africa Cup of Nations begins on Friday as 24 teams battle for the right to call themselves champions of the continent.

This year’s tournament takes place in Egypt and a number of world-class players, including Mohamed Salah, Kalidou Koulibaly and Sadio Mane will be in action.

Can Salah help Egypt become victorious on home soil?
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However, there are a few players who could use AFCON 2019 as an opportunity to impress any watching scouts from other clubs.

Below you can see the twelve transfer targets talkSPORT.com has identified that you should keep an eye on.

Serge Aurier (Ivory Coast)

Ivory Coast defender Serge Aurier is not the first choice right-back at Tottenham, so could be looking elsewhere this summer.

It is understood there will be a squad overhaul at Spurs this window and Aurier may well be part of that drive but it’s not clear where he will go.

The 26-year-old can also play at left-back if necessary.

Aurier’s future at Spurs looks pretty uncertain
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Yacine Brahimi (Algeria)

The winger is expected to leave Porto when his contract expires this summer, despite scoring 13 goals and supplying nine assists in all competitions last season.

Brahimi, 29, has been linked with moves to Premier League clubs Arsenal, Manchester United, Everton and Wolves.

Brahimi helped Porto reach the Champions League quarter-finals last season
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Idrissa Gana Gueye (Senegal)

He was denied his dream move to Paris Saint-Germain in January and will surely try to engineer his departure from Everton again.

Senegal go into the tournament as one of the favourites to win it and Gueye is likely to be at the centre of that but if PSG are watching him then Gueye will have added motivation to perform well.

Gueye almost moved to French giants PSG on deadline day in January
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Kalidou Koulibaly (Senegal)

Gueye’s compatriot Koulibaly is the defender that pretty much every top European side would love to get their hands on.

The centre-back has been linked to the likes of Liverpool, Manchester United and Chelsea and a good performance at AFCON 2019 will only raise his profile for the better.

Koulibaly could go for a fee of £84m, which would be a world record for a defender
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His club Napoli will probably be hoping he doesn’t play well for once!

Wilfred Ndidi (Nigeria)

The midfielder’s future at Leicester has been under some scrutiny for a while now.

Manchester United are the latest club to have been linked with Ndidi and the 22-year-old admitted this month he was ‘flattered’ to be on the radar of such a big club.

Ndidi tangles with Lionel Messi at the World Cup last summer
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Andre Onana (Cameroon)

Part of that Ajax team that nearly achieved unlikely glory in the Champions League.

However, as the Dutch outfit are a club that develops talented players before selling them on for a large price, it’s no surprise that Onana has been linked with a move away.

The clubs reportedly monitoring Onana’s situation include Barcelona, Arsenal, Tottenham and West Ham.

Thomas Partey (Ghana)

Atletico Madrid midfielder Thomas Partey’s future with the Spanish giants looks to be winding down and the Ghanaian will be using the upcoming finals to attract any prospective bidders.

The latest news on Partey is that he will be allowed to leave if his £43.5million release clause is met, according to his agent.

Arsenal and Manchester United have been linked to him and if Partey and Ghana do well then either club may just put in a bid.

Partey is one of a number of players who could be sold by Atletico this summer
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Nicolas Pepe (Ivory Coast)

The likes of Dmitri Payet, Yohan Cabaye and Eden Hazard have all been at French club Lille in the early parts of their career before moving on and Nicolas Pepe looks to be the latest star destined for better things.

Ivory Coast winger Pepe is on the radar of a number of European clubs with Liverpool thought to be leading the way for the 24-year-old.

The Reds have African footballers Salah, Mane and Naby Keita among their ranks so their scouts will surely be tuning into the tournament.

Nicolas Pepe has been prolific for Lille this season, scoring 22 league goals
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Jean-Michael Seri (Ivory Coast)

Pepe’s compatriot Seri will be desperate to have a good AFCON 2019 following his disastrous 2018/19 campaign.

He rejected offers from Chelsea and Liverpool to join an exciting Fulham last summer but the Cottagers never got going and were relegated from the top flight.

The midfielder has more quality than the Championship football he’s destined to play next season and could even be available on the cheap as a result of Fulham’s relegation.

Serie A sides are amongst those monitoring the player right now.

Victor Wanyama (Kenya)

As already mentioned, Tottenham are reportedly planning a squad overhaul this summer and Victor Wanyama could be one of these players who gets moved on.

Wanyama, 27, is a hero in his homeland of Kenya but at Spurs he’s just another player really.

The former Southampton player could be available for one of the Premier League’s smaller clubs, especially if he does well in Egypt.

Wilfried Zaha (Ivory Coast)

It’s not completely clear where Wilfried Zaha’s future lies but it surely won’t be at Crystal Palace before too long.

The Eagles talisman made it clear that he wants to leave Selhurst Park this summer and he will have no shortage of admirers anyway.

But if the Ivory Coast, who are always amongst the favourites in the tournament, do well then this is the perfect platform to showcase his brilliant quality.

Zaha will be hoping to guide the Elephants to AFCON glory

Hakim Ziyech (Morocco)

Another Ajax star who will probably be shifted for a huge price is winger Ziyech.

The 26-year-old has caught the eye of Arsenal and is reportedly available for £25million which is within the Gunners’ price range.

Ziyech and Morocco did very well at the 2018 World Cup despite failing to make it out of their group which also had Spain and Portugal in it.

Ziyech is unlikely to be an Ajax player next season
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Top 20 wonderkids in Europe’s top five leagues, including Liverpool star, Ex-Arsenal man, and Leicester aces

18 Apr

On Tuesday night, Matthijs de Ligt once again showed why he is considered one of the best young prospects in European football.

Still only 19, he netted the key goal for Ajax as they defeated Juventus in the Champions League and sealed their progression to the semi-finals of the competition.

De Ligt wheels away in celebration after sealing a monumental win for Ajax

Wonderfully composed, blessed technically and a strong presence too, it’s no wonder Barcelona are among the clubs expected stump up a huge fee for his transfer in the summer.

Given team-mate Frenkie de Jong has already joined the Spaniards for £65million, De Ligt may well leave for a similar, if not higher sum.

The Dutchman’s performances in the Champions League have shown he should be able to cope with the step up in league level, despite many still feeling the Eredivisie lacks any strength and depth. But who are the top wonderkids from Europe’s top five leagues?

We’ve taken a look at WhoScored.com and found out their top 20 players 23-years-old. You can see how they rank below.

20. Kai Havertz (Bayer Leverkusen) – 7.13/10 on WhoScored.com

Already plenty of Premier League clubs are keeping tabs on the attacking midfielder thanks to his 13 goals and three assists this campaign. He’s just 19 and has potential to become one of the best in Europe.

18= Luka Jovic (Eintracht Frankfurt) – 7.14/10 on WhoScored.com

After a successful loan spell, the striker has now joined the Bundesliga side permanently after a terrific season which has seen the 21-year-old net 17 goals as he links tremendously with Sebastien Haller. Good in the air, as well as with the ball at his feet, Benfica may regret letting him go so easily.

18= Fabian Ruiz (Napoli) – 7.14/10 on WhoScored.com

Already proving a fine addition following his summer move from Real Betis, the Spain Under-21 ace is set to be one of the best playmakers in Europe.

17. Timo Werner (RB Leipzig) – 7.15/10 on WhoScored.com

According to reports, the Germany international is Liverpool’s top summer target and could move for as low as £43million as he contract expires in 2020. He could be superb linking up again with former team-mate Naby Keita.

16. Serge Gnabry (Bayern Munich) – 7.18/10 on WhoScored.com

Arsenal must be kicking themselves having seen his career blossom back in his homeland. Gnabry could get even better if he improves himself defensively and adds some more assists to his season tally.

15. Ibrahim Sangare (Toulouse) – 7.19/10 on WhoScored.com

Currently forging a reputation for himself in France as a fine defensive midfielder, Sangare will be on a few radars this summer. Don’t sleep on his excellent passing either, he’s got excellent technical capabilities.

14. Wilfred Ndidi (Leicester City) – 7.20/10 on WhoScored.com

The Nigerian has been phenomenal for two seasons now and plays a key role in the Foxes midfield. If Brendan Rodgers can keep him this summer the club could really push the top six if they make the right signings.

13. Ibrahima Konate (RB Leipzig) – 7.21/10 on WhoScored.com

Strong in the air and a master at keeping it simple, Konate is excelling the Bundesliga. Arsenal are reportedly looking at the Frenchman and it unsurprising. He could with improving his passing but he still moves the ball forward well.

12. James Maddison (Leicester City) – 7.22/10 on WhoScored.com

The midfielder has taken to Premier League football like a duck to water and looks like he’s got the potential to get even better, especially with someone like Ndidi offering protection behind him.

11. Allan Saint-Maximin (Nice) – 7.23/10 on WhoScored.com

A fine dribbler, he still get lots to work on, but he’s getting there. He’s added more goals to his games but is under performing his expected assists, according to UnderStat.com. He got seven last year but has just three this season.

10. Trent Alexander-Arnold (Liverpool) – 7.25/10 on WhoScored.com

The Reds right-back has been wowing for some time now and remains one of the best talents in Europe. He’s, quite frankly, approaching the finished article and has contributed significantly to his club’s stunning season.

9. Aaron Wan-Bissaka (Crystal Palace) – 7.27/10 on WhoScored.com

The winger turned full-back is almost certainly set for a huge transfer, whether it is sooner or later. The long-legged 21-year-old executes superbly-timed challenges and has the pace to go toe-to-toe with any winger. He’s got great ability progressing the football too, so it wasn’t a surprise when Tottenham Hotspur used Danny Rose to handle him – a huge compliment.

8. Joelinton (Hoffenheim) – 7.29/10 on WhoScored.com

After a two-year loan spell with Rapid Vienna, the Brazilian forward has impressed under Julian Nagelsmann. He’s got seven goals and five assists this season while he’s happy to contribute defensively too, making 2.2 tackles per game.

7. Ousmane Dembele (Barcelona) – 7.30/10 on WhoScored.com

The talented France ace is finding his feet at the Nou Camp this season and almost landed a knockout blow to Tottenham Hotspur in the Champions League. He’s still improving – and still only 21 – while being third fiddle to Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez has meant it’s been tricky for him to fully flourish.

6. Rodrigo (Atletico Madrid) – 7.31/10 on WhoScored.com

Diego Simeone’s side have had a mixed season but their new central midfielder is making a real difference. Not only is he exceptionally tidy in possession but he fits perfectly into his Argentine boss’ system at 22.

5. Leroy Sane (Manchester City) – 7.37/10 on WhoScored.com

After being left out of Germany’s World Cup squad, Leroy Sane started the campaign like a man possessed. And, just like his playing style, the winger has not let up as the season has progressed by tearing through some of the best defences in the country. Under Pep Guardiola, Sane continues to develop and has all the skills to go right to the very top.

4. Youcef Atal (Nice) – 7.40/10 on WhoScored.com

From virtual unknown to an in-demand full-back, the Algerian is some talent. Not only does he rack up fine defensive numbers but he contributes massively in attacking phases too – key for a modern right-back. Whether he could play as high up the pitch if he moved to another club would be interesting.

3. Jadon Sancho (Borussia Dortmund) – 7.51/10 on WhoScored.com

Making waves in the Bundesliga, the English talent has justified his decision to leave Manchester City. He’s a fantastic impact player right now and if he can turn in impressive displays over 90 minutes he’ll have the world at his feet.

2. Nicolas Pepe (Lille) – 7.64/10 on WhoScored.com

Wanted by numerous elite European clubs, Pepe seems set to join one this summer. The fact he could break Eden Hazard’s single-season goal tally at Lille is testament to his ability.

1. Kylian Mbappe (Paris Saint-Germain) – 7.94/10 on WhoScored.com

He didn’t rest on his laurels after an incredible World Cup. He’s hit 27 goals in Ligue 1 this season, while also making seven assists. It makes even better reading when you consider he plays alongside Neymar and Edinson Cavani – what a player!

How Leicester City could line up after Brendan Rodgers swaps Celtic for the Premier League

26 Feb

Leicester City’s appointment of Brendan Rodgers as Claude Puel’s replacement is likely to be met with a mixed reception across the UK.

Celtic begrudgingly allowed their manager to speak to the Foxes about the vacancy at the King Power Stadium, despite the Hoops chasing another domestic treble.

Brendan Rodgers is in line t take over at Leicester City

On one hand, Celtic fans will be disappointed to hear their manager is leaving at such a crucial time while Leicester fans are likely to be thrilled by such an ambitious appointment.

After being sacked by Liverpool in 2015, the Northern Irishman has rebuilt his reputation north of the border and reaffirmed Celtic’s status as Scotland’s biggest club.

However, as Rangers boss Steven Gerrard pointed out, the lure of managing in the Premier League once again has proved to be too strong.

And with Foxes fans’ becoming disillusioned with Puel’s negative style of play, the move seems like a perfect fit.

‘LEAVING CELTIC FOR LEICESTER WOULD BE STEP UP FOR BRENDAN RODGERS’

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Every Premier League team’s most underrated player, including Georginio Wijnaldum at Liverpool and Granit Xhaka and Arsenal

7 Dec

Forget your prolific centre forward or your maverick no.10, every fan loves an underrated star.

The sort of player who could literally score a perfect hat-trick and still not get the credit he deserves; think Emile Heskey and Michael Owen.

The Spaniard has been a loyal servant to the Blues

Cesar Azpilcueta’s new four-year deal at Chelsea means the defender is set to make it a decade at Stamford Bridge, an incredible feat afforded to very few players in the Roman Abramovich era.

Since arriving from Marseille in 2012, the defender has been as consistent as they come, managing to win two Premier League titles, two FA Cups and a Europa League trophy in his six years thus far.

The 29-year-old’s £6m fee seems like one of the Premier League’s greatest ever bargains and here at talkSPORT.com, it got us to thinking about the other underrated players in the Premier League who fail to get the recognition they so rightly deserve.

So, without further ado, here is every Premier League club’s most underrated player.

Arsenal

Granit Xhaka (Centre Midfield)

To put it politley, the Switzerland international was poor under Arsene Wenger. Ill-disciplined and defensively clueless; Xhaka looked lost when playing against the best the Premier League had to offer.

However, under Unai Emery, the 26-year-old is thriving with the responsibilities entrusted to him. He knows his position and thrives under specific instructions.

With Lucas Torreira alongside him, the Gunners seem to have finally fixed the midfield woes which have plagued them since Patrick Vieira left.

Bournemouth

Steve Cook (Centre-back)

A player who has risen through the ranks like Eddie Howe with the Cherries, Cook has made a seamless transition to Premier League life.

Despite not possessing the pace of many top-flight strikers, the Englishman’s never-say-die attitude and tactical nous means he is seemingly always one step ahead.

While Nathan Ake may receive many deserved plaudits, defensive partner Cook is a vital cog in Bournemouth’s system.

Brighton and Hove Albion

Solly March (Winger)

Wherever he has worked, Chris Hughton has had a knack for signing hard-working, honest players who will diligently carry out their tasks – meaning there are plenty of candidates for the role of ‘most underrated’ at the Amex.

But March is a different kettle of fish. The youngster came through the academy at Lewes before signing a professional deal with the Seagulls in 2011. Adept at playing on either wing or through the middle, he has a wonderful football brain and a dangerous left peg to boot.

Burnley

Charlie Taylor (Left-back)

The former Leeds United defender joined in 2017, but made just a handful of appearances for the Clarets last season.

However, he has firmly established himself in the side under Sean Dyche – becoming a vital player in the process.

The 25-year-old is solid at the back and possesses a wicked left foot which can whip in dangerous crosses for the likes of Sam Vokes and Chris Wood.

Cardiff City

Aron Gunarrsson (Centre Midfield)

If the Bluebirds are to survive in the Premier League this season, the leadership and inspirational skills of Gunarrsson will be crucial.

The Iceland skipper looks like a viking and has the characteristics to boot. A no-nonsense midfielder who loves to break up play and get his team on the front foot, his dirty work is crucial to Neil Warnock’s style of play.

He also happens to have an absolute Howitzer of a throw in, so expect to see him grab a few assists before the end of the season.

Chelsea

Cesar Azpilicueta (Right-back)

Known affectionately as ‘Dave’ by Blues fans, the Spaniard has literally played across every position at the back since joining in 2012.

Roberto Di Matteo, Rafa Benitez, Jose Mourinho, Guus Hiddink, Antonio Conte and now Maurizio Sarri have all started the Spaniard during their respective stints at Stamford Bridge – a remarkable testament to his consistency and professionalism.

Losing Eden Hazard seems an inevitability at some point in the future, but Chelsea fans should be glad to see Azpiliceuta commit his future to the club.

Crystal Palace

James Tomkins (Centre-back)

James McArthur goes through so much work unnoticed in the engine room for Palace, but fans have recently started to appreciate former West Ham man Tomkins at the back for his defensive efforts.

The centre-half was once tipped for the very top in east London, but a move south appears to have brought out the best from him.

Goals have been hard to come by for the Eagles thus far, so Roy Hodgson will be hoping the former England Under-21 international can continue to be solid at the other end.

Everton

Lucas Digne (Left-back)

Perhaps it is a prerequisite to joining, but full-backs seem to arrive at Goodison Park and become cult heroes for their hard work.

For years, Seamus Coleman and Leighton Baines were criminally underrated for their work out wide, and it seems as though Digne has taken up the mantle.

Despite his slight frame, he has adapted to the rigours of the English top-flight well and even earned a recall to the France squad after missing the World Cup win in Russia.

Fulham

Luciano Vietto (Striker)

New Whites boss Claudio Ranieri will surely love working with the Argentine. At Leicester City, Shinji Okazaki and Ranieri worked so well together in their incredible title-winning season two years ago.

Vietto won’t stop running for his team-mates, freeing up space behind the more skilled operators to work.

Should he strike up a classic little and large partnership with Aleksandr Mitrovic, Fulham will surely begin to propel themselves up the table in no time.

Huddersfield Town

Phillip Billing (Centre midfield)

David Wagner’s men are struggling at the wrong end of the table this season once again, but Billing’s stock is continuing to rise.

Only the woodwork has denied the Denmark youth international from scoring some absolute screamers, but it is his gritty work in midfield which is seriously catching the eye.

Standing at 6″4, the 22-year-old is as imposing as they come and a move to a bigger club will surely be on the horizon if he continues to perform the way he is, as he can only fly under the radar for so long.

Leicester City

Wilfred Ndidi (Centre midfield)

Any defensive midfielder who joined the Foxes after N’Golo Kante’s departure was likely to be burdened with comparisons.

However, after an adjustment period in the Premier League, the Nigeria international is starting to boss the middle and the Kante comparisons are no more.

It is remarkable to think he is just 21 given his composure and maturity. Claude Puel has a serious player on his hands, who is also starting to show his skills going forward as well.

Liverpool

Georginio Wijnaldum (Centre midfield)

Until he was rewarded for his excellent displays with the Scotland captaincy, Andrew Robertson was a safe bet for the most underrated player in the Premier League.

However, the continually subtle excellence of Wijnaldum for Jurgen Klopp’s men means he is now one of the first names on the team sheet.

Having kept new signings Fabinho and Naby Keita out of the Reds’ side, expect to see the former Newcastle United man rack up the appearances as the title race heats up.

Manchester City

Aymeric Laporte (Centre-back)

When City were unceremoniously dumped out of the Champions League by Liverpool last season, Mohamed Salah apologised during the first leg to Laporte for running the young Frenchman absolutely ragged.

Fast forward eight months and it is clear to see just how much the former Athletic Bilbao defender has improved.

His range of passing is quite superb and, after a full pre-season, his partnership with John Stones should provide any City with great optimism for the future.

Manchester United

Victor Lindelof (Centre-back)

It has been a miserable season for the Red Devils thus far; eight points off the Champions League places and 18 points off rivals City in top spot.

However, the emergence of Lindelof at the back has been a huge bonus. His performances in the games against Juventus were nothing short of remarkable.

Although he sustained an injury against Crystal Palace, the Swede is closing in on a return to action. Having seen Scott McTominay and Nemanja Matic at the back in his absence, Jose Mourinho must be counting down the days.

Newcastle United

Ki Sung-Yeung (Centre midfield)

Like most of the summer arrivals at St James’ Park, the signing of Ki from Swansea City on a free went relatively under the radar and was met with little enthusiasm from the Toon Army.

The South Korea skipper helped knock Germany out of the World Cup and has continued to deliver solid, if not spectacular, performances.

If the Magpies are to continue defying the odds and survive on a shoestring budget, Ki will be key to their chances.

Southampton

Maya Yoshida (Centre-back)

Year after year, the top talent from St Mary’s seems to be churned out and constantly poached by the Premier League elite.

However, Yoshida has remained ever since they regained their place in the top tier in 2012, constantly slipping under the radar after watching partners Dejan Lovren and Virgil van Dijk join Liverpool.

If the Saints are to escape trouble, they will need all of the Japan international’s experience to guide them to a seventh consecutive season in the Premier League.

Tottenham Hotspur

Ben Davies (Left-back)

Until last season, Hueng-min Son would have easily won this accolade. Yet he was finally recognised as one of the most dangerous forwards in the division by doing a remarkable job during Harry Kane’s absence at the start of 2018.

Now, the title of ‘most underrated’ is held by Davies.

Danny Rose would walk into most teams in the Premier League, but Mauricio Pochettino still trusts the Wales international to do a job down the left.

Watford

Craig Cathcart (Centre-back)

Getting released from Manchester United would feel like the end of the world to most players. After years in the wilderness of the Championship with Blackpool, it seemed like the Northern Ireland international’s chance of making it at the highest level had passed him.

However, the Hornets snapped him up on a free and Cathcart has not looked back since.

His excellent reading of the game allows him to make crucial interceptions with ease.

West Ham United

Łukasz Fabiański (Goalkeeper)

Fabianski became the first goalkeeper in 12 years that West Ham paid a transfer fee for when he arrived in the summer. Every other keeper between 2006 and 2018 arrived for free.

So far, the Poland international has made the £7million fee look like one of the best bargains in the club’s history.

A wonderful shot stopper with the propensity to start attacks from the back, the 33-year-old looks set to stay between the sticks for the Hammers for the foreseeable.

Wolverhampton Wanderers

Willy Boly (Centre-back)

The former Porto star linked up with old coach Nuno Espirito Santo when he joined the Black Country club last summer on a loan deal.

Such was his brilliance at the back in a three-man defence, Wolves snapped up the towering centre back the following summer.

A menace at set-pieces at both boxes, Boly has helped shut out some of the best sides in the Premier League already this season.