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Time for Liverpool to sell Grujic

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Time for Liverpool to sell Grujic

Liverpool have finally been handed the perfect opportunity to offload Marko Grujic this summer.

The midfielder, who is currently on loan at FC Porto, has reportedly impressed enough for the Portuguese giants to potentially make the move permanent, as reported by Record (via Sport Witness).

Considering the Serbian’s distinct lack of opportunities so far at Anfield, now is the time for Michael Edwards to cut Grujic lOose.

Ever since the midfielder became Jurgen Klopp’s first Liverpool signing in 2016, he has struggled to really make an impact.

The now 25-year-old, who reportedly earns £15,000 per week with the Merseysiders, has only appeared on 16 occasions for the club since his move from Red Star Belgrade, whilst being afforded just two first team outings across the past three seasons at Anfield.

He has also been farmed out on numerous loan deals to Cardiff City, Hertha Berlin and now Porto in the meantime.

It would seem likely that any chance of him forging a way into the Liverpool first team would be slim at best, considering the competition in midfield from the likes of Jordan Henderson, Thiago Alcantara, Georginio Wijnaldum, Fabinho and more.

Another benefit of selling Grujic would be that Liverpool could actually make a slight profit on the player, a remarkable feat considering his lack of action with the Merseyside club.

Should Grujic be sold?

Yes, he’s not good enough.

No, he has something to offer.

No, he has something to offer.

Signed in 2016 for a reported fee of £5.1m, the Serbian is now rated at £12.6m by Transfermarkt; so should the Reds manage to charge anywhere near that to allow him to join Porto permanently, they could more than double their money on him.

With Porto now reportedly having made up their minds concerning signing Grujic on a permanent deal, Liverpool would be foolish not to accept.

AND in more news, take a closer look at how Grujic’s career has faltered in his time at Anfield…

Man Utd lead the charge for rising Senegal star taking Ligue 1 by storm

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Man Utd lead the charge for rising Senegal star taking Ligue 1 by storm

Manchester United are at the front of the queue for Metz midfield starlet Pape Sarr, according to a report.

United have been focusing on signing promising young players in recent months. That strategy saw them bring in the likes of Amad Diallo and Facundo Pellistri in recent months. Now, Sarr could be one of the next names on their radar.

After coming through the Generation Foot academy in his native Senegal, Sarr moved to Metz in 2020. He has shown flashes of his potential in his debut season in Europe.

So far in 2020-21, Sarr has played in 18 games for Metz, including 12 appearances as a starter. He has scored three goals and earned his senior Senegal debut in March 2021.

According to The Sun, Man Utd are aware of his rapid rise and currently lead the race to snap him up.

Nice are also keen to give Sarr a different opportunity in France. However, the 18-year-old would rather join a bigger club if he leaves Metz. That could present an opportunity for United.

Sarr is under contract with Metz until 2025, but the Ligue 1 club know there is interest in many of their players. They may struggle to ward off interest from a club as big as Man Utd if they do come forward.

Other than Nice, no other suitors for Sarr are identified in the report, but it seems there will be plenty of clubs watching on if he continues his development.

The teenager plays as a box-to-box midfielder who tends to start from a deeper role. United would likely see him as one for the future rather than an immediate reinforcement but it could help to get him in early.

United currently have plenty of options in midfield, with Scott McTominay and Fred usually forming the base of that area. Paul Pogba and Bruno Fernandes are their main creative options.

Such is their competition for places that there has been little room for £40m summer signing Donny Van De Beek, while Nemanja Matic has also played a lesser role.

Pogba warns of Cavani consequences

Meanwhile, Pogba says that his club must do everything in their power to keep Edinson Cavani next season.

The striker is out of contract in the summer, although there is the option for his deal to extend into a second year. Even so, he is expected to return to South America.

Boca Juniors are keen to take him to Argentina, but nothing is decided yet. Hence, Pogba is keen for United to keep hold of their striker.


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“Edi is a world-class player, a total forward. Now there are few complete forwards, and he is, he is a finisher,” the midfielder told ESPN (via TNT Sports).

“We lack players like this, he is one of the best nine in the world and we need him to play with Manchester.

“We know the importance that that would have and we hope he signs here.”

READ MOREMan Utd target’s buy-out rubbished, but 24-goal forward ‘very likely’ to be sold

Leicester made Weston McKennie error

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Leicester made Weston McKennie error

For the past four months, Leicester City have clearly been on the lookout for a midfielder.

Foxes manager Brendan Rodgers expressed his intentions to bring in a midfield player in the January transfer window but a move did not materialise, whilst the East Midlanders have recently been linked with the likes of Yves Bissouma, Tomasso Pobega and Boubakary Soumare ahead of potential summer transfers.

However, it might have all been so different had Leicester secured the signature of Weston McKennie under a year ago.

It was reported during the summer 2020 transfer window that the Foxes were interested in the services of the American and were vying with Premier League rivals Wolverhampton Wanderers for his signature. Again, a switch did not come to fruition, the then-Schalke 04 man surprisingly signing for Juventus instead.

Do Leicester City need to sign another midfielder?

Yes, definitely!

No, they’re fine with what they have.

No, they're fine with what they have.

He has gone on to have an overwhelmingly positive impact in Turin since his arrival. At the time of writing McKennie, rated at £22.5m by Transfermarkt, has made 37 appearances in all competitions for Juve, scoring six goals and providing two assists.

For comparison, only James Maddison and Youri Tielemans of Leicester’s current crop of central midfielders can boast more than the former FC Dallas star’s eight goal contributions this season.

McKennie’s form has certainly not gone unnoticed by those in Italy, either. Juventus coach Andrea Pirlo has gone as far as to say that the American is a “rock” in the Italian giants’ midfield – a huge compliment considering that he has had to vie with the likes of Arthur Melo, Aaron Ramsey, Adrien Rabiot, Rodrigo Bentancur and others for a starting berth.

Considering his excellent displays, Leicester will reflect on a huge mistake in not bringing McKennie to the King Power Stadium last year, a clanger which has only been exacerbated by Rodgers’ reported recent hunt for a midfielder.

AND in more news, take a look at which new deal could be a future clue for Leicester… 

Mane now world class after Saints departure

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Mane now world class after Saints departure

Sadio Mane has well and truly become one of football’s global superstars since his move from Southampton to Liverpool in 2016, with the £34m paid by the Merseyside club now looking like a bargain from their perspective, but an awful deal from the Saints’ point of view.

Southampton originally signed the Senegalese winger from RB Salzburg in 2014 in a £10m deal, before selling him to Liverpool for £34m just two years later. Whilst that £24m profit might have seemed like a good deal at the time, his superb performances for the Reds in the five years since suggest that the Saints may well have been sold short.

During his time on the south coast, Mane contributed an impressive 25 goals and 14 assists in 75 appearances in all competitions, including the Premier League’s fastest ever hat-trick thanks to his treble in just two minutes and 56 seconds against Aston Villa – a record which is unlikely to be beaten.

However, his form has exploded since making the move to Anfield in the summer of 2016, as he has registered 93 goals and 41 assists in 211 appearances for Jurgen Klopp’s side.

Should Southampton have got more for Mane?

Yes

No

No

Success in the Champions League and the Premier League has also played a huge part in Mane’s value going through the roof, with Transfermarkt currently valuing the 29-year-old at £90m, a 265% increase on the £34m Liverpool paid for him.

Southampton are perhaps fortunate that Mane’s form this season has dwindled slightly, as he was valued at a remarkable £135m back in December 2019, before a drop in form and the financial impact of the current viral outbreak saw his value decrease.

Despite his, and Liverpool’s, poor run of form in the league since the turn of the year, there is no doubt that Mane is still one of the best players in the English top flight, so it is a shame that Southampton couldn’t keep hold of him for longer.

Speaking last season, Klopp suggested that he always knew Mane would prove to be worth the fee Liverpool paid, saying: “Maybe people thought ‘I am not sure he is worth it’, but we were 100% sure about him. Consistency was the key and absolutely now what he is doing and how he performs is consistent.

“The level he performs at is unbelievable. He helps us massively. He is a complete player, offensively and defensively he works hard, he is really quick.”

Perhaps that lack of consistency in his earlier Premier League career was why Liverpool were able to get him for a relatively low fee but, either way, you could definitely argue that the Saints were robbed in their negotiations for Mane when you consider his incredible rise since leaving the south coast in 2016.

In other news… Gao Jisheng could be set for huge blow as European giants eye “exceptional” gem

Ex-Celtic man backs Soro for huge future

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Ex-Celtic man backs Soro for huge future

Former Celtic striker Frank McAvennie has exclusively told Football FanCast that midfielder Ismaila Soro reminds him of both a young N’Golo Kante and Scott Brown.

Soro has enjoyed a productive first campaign at Parkhead, although the return of Scott Brown from injury in February has seen the Ivorian restricted to mainly substitute appearances in recent weeks.

Will Callum McGregor be at Celtic next season?

Yes

No

No

He started 10 Scottish Premiership matches on the bounce during December and January, but has been an unused substitute in six of Celtic’s previous 10 league outings, with Brown taking his place back in the midfield alongside Callum McGregor and David Turnbull.

Soro has made 20 appearances in total this season, both scoring and assisting once in the same game against Dundee United, and will be hoping to prove himself to be good enough to be Brown’s long-term replacement in Paradise.

And having drawn comparisons to Chelsea’s Kante, McAvennie has backed the 22-year-old to step up in Brown’s absence.

He told Football FanCast:

“He reminds me of Kante when he was at Leicester and also so much of Scott Brown when he came in the team and caused a lot of fouls and got booked a lot, before the maturity came through.

“I think Soro could be a little tenacious player in there, I think he could do a job.”

Arsenal face Prem competition for €20m striker enjoying his best season

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Arsenal face Prem competition for €20m striker enjoying his best season

Arsenal are interested in giving Gent striker Roman Yaremchuk an opportunity in the Premier League, according to reports.

Ukraine international Yaremchuk is enjoying a prolific season in the Belgian top flight. He has already achieved his best ever goals tally for a single campaign, having netted 18 times in all competitions. At 25 years old, the time seems right for him to test himself on a bigger stage.

The Premier League could be his destination. Arsenal are on the lookout for attacking reinforcements and according to Het Laatste Nieuws, Yaremchuk is on their radar.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has not been in his best form since signing a huge new contract in the summer. It has led to worries from some that Arsenal could end up with another Mesut Ozil situation.

Aubameyang is currently in hospital as he recovers from malaria. In his absence, and even for large portions of the season when he has been available, Alexandre Lacazette has been covering for him up front.

But there are doubts over the Frenchman’s future. He finds himself in the same position Aubameyang was in a year ago, with just over 12 months left on his contract.

After seeing how the Gabon international’s form has slipped, Arsenal will be thinking hard about a player who will be 30 at the start of next season. Lacazette has thus been linked with a move away to someone like Roma or Atletico Madrid.

That would leave Arsenal needing further options, with youngster Eddie Nketiah also expected to leave.

According to Het Laatste Nieuws, Yaremchuk could be an option. He is said to be available for transfer as long as Gent can receive €20m for his signature.

That should be within Arsenal’s grasp if they can sell Lacazette for a similar amount. However, their budget will depend on whether they can qualify for Europe.

At present, that is in doubt. Their only realistic hope of reaching the Champions League is by winning the Europa League. If they fail to, then their qualification for even the latter tournament looks an uphill battle given their Premier League position at present.

But if they can make it into Europe it will help them not only attract targets, but also afford them.

One of the reasons Yaremchuk would not come cheap is because he is under contract with Gent until 2025. But the Belgian club will not stand in his way if they can get their asking price.

Arsenal are not the only club considering a move for the Ukrainian. Wolves have also been linked as they look for further competition up front.

Balogun close to new deal

One striker who will be staying at Arsenal, it seems, is Folarin Balogun.

The American-born forward is approaching the final few months of his contract and there have been doubts over whether he will sign a new one.

Mikel Arteta though confirmed on Wednesday that talks have found a breakthrough and an announcement is imminent.

“We will make it official when it is official and everything is done,” Arteta said.

“As I said before, I have always been positive that he wants to stay at the club. We want him to stay at the club, so we are very close.”

READ MOREArsenal hopes crushed as top target deemed ‘non-transferable’

Palace dropped clanger with Sakho

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Palace dropped clanger with Sakho

With Mamadou Sakho being linked with a summer exit from Crystal Palace, it is fair to say that signing of the Frenchman has not gone as envisaged for the Eagles.

Recruited from Liverpool for a reported fee of £26m in 2017 after initially impressing on loan, the 2013 Ligue 1 champion looked a clever buy. However, the south London club have certainly not received value for money, with the defender now apparently interesting Lazio.

In the four years since his permanent arrival at Selhurst Park, Sakho has made just 67 appearances as a full-time Eagles player due to a series of fitness issues. For context, Sakho has missed the same number of games through various injuries, indicating how often he has been ruled out.

Whilst his huge transfer fee, the second-highest in the history of Crystal Palace, looks extortionate considering the 31-year-old’s lack of action, the huge outlay on Palace’s part is worsened when taking into account the former Paris Saint-Germain defender’s wages.

Having earned £5.2m on an annual basis, this means that Sakho has scooped approximately £20.8m in pay in his time with the Eagles.

When added to the eye-watering fee that it took to bring him to Selhurst Park in 2017, it means that he has cost the club approximately £46.8m over his time at Palace – an amount certainly not befitting a player who has not readily been available for selection on regular occasions.

With the 31-year-old out of contract at the end of the season, it’s next to impossible for Steve Parish to recoup any of that considerable outlay.

Should Mamadou Sakho get a new deal?

He should definitely stay!

He should be sold.

He should be sold.

If Sakho does indeed move to Lazio come the end of his Palace deal this summer, the club will be left to reflect on what has been a hugely costly and frankly disastrous transfer.

AND in more news, read why Palace should move on from a current Championship hotshot…

Johnson proves West Ham’s real positive

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Johnson proves West Ham’s real positive

Ben Johnson delivered a promising performance on his return to the starting line-up despite West Ham United succumbing to a 3-2 defeat at Newcastle on Saturday.

David Moyes recalled the 21-year-old to his starting squad for the first time in four Premier League games, after hamstring injuries ruled Aaron Cresswell and Arthur Masuaku out of action.

The Irons boss had only fielded Johnson from the bench in two of West Ham’s prior three top-flight fixtures, after a chastening display from the academy graduate in defeat to Manchester United last month.

Should Moyes be playing Johnson more often?

Yes, he needs game time

No, he isn’t good enough

No, he isn't good enough

Johnson was widely criticised for his efforts at Old Trafford, with former Sheffield United midfielder Michael Brown claiming “I think he is frightened” after the youngster struggled to consistently get forward.

A first half red card for Craig Dawson this afternoon ensured that Johnson could not alleviate those concerns at Newcastle, as West Ham were forced to play much of the game with 10 men and needed a stable foundation in the hope of mounting a second half comeback.

However, Johnson still had chances to get forward and help to create openings for a Hammers side missing Michail Antonio due to a hamstring injury, and he ended the day with a team-high three key passes to his name, per WhoScored.

Only Newcastle’s dynamic dribbler Allan Saint-Maximin, who consistently ran at the Irons’ defence, created more goalscoring opportunities (five) than Johnson, while Vladimir Coufal and Mark Noble (two each) represented the visitor’s next-best options , per WhoScored.

Jesse Lingard endured a very quiet first half and saw plenty of the ball after the break, but struggled to show his creativity before lashing home a thunderous penalty to restore parity with 10 minutes to play.

He would later limp off the pitch after appearing to develop cramp in his hamstring, having failed to offer a single key pass for the second game running and the fourth since joining the Irons on loan from Manchester United in February.

Johnson – who Franck McAvennie previously claimed is “a joy to watch” – also stood strong defensively to produce a vital goal-line clearance to deny Jacob Murphy in the closing stages, and further offered a joint team-high three successful tackles with Tomas Soucek.

Unlike Soucek, who was dribbled past twice, Johnson was only beaten on the ground once, with the £19k-per-week talent enjoy a vastly more productive afternoon than his Premier League match average of 0.8 tackles this season.

Johnson also won five of his seven ground duels and delivered seven crosses into the Newcastle box, with five finding an Irons teammate, per SofaScore.

Only Vladimir Coufal (seven) won more ground duels for West Ham than the left-back, while Lingard attempted the next-most crosses but failed to find a claret and blue shirt with any of his six deliveries, per SofaScore.

Lingard may have continued his run of either scoring or assisting in Premier League games for West Ham to seven in a row with his penalty, but Johnson was Moyes’ real positive from a disappointing defeat to Steve Bruce’s relegation-threatened Magpies.

AND in other news, a £4.5m-rated West Ham enforcer is being lined up for a summer move out of east London

Villa must be wary of transfer interest in Watkins

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Harewood’s Watkins claim could be good news

Aston Villa must avoid selling Ollie Watkins amid Lee Hendrie’s transfer claim that rival clubs could look to sign him.

What’s the story?

Dean Smith’s side signed the £75,000-per-week star last summer from Brentford and he has since been a revelation for Villa, bagging an impressive 14 goals in 33 games across all competitions.

Hendrie has now suggested that, were someone like Jack Grealish to leave, it could spark an exodus from Villa Park, with Watkins one of the players he fears would consider a move away.

The 43-year-old told Football Transfer Tavern: “There’s been a lot of interest for certain players. I think when you look at the bigger picture of it, you know, if someone like Jack Grealish left, I think that’s when it does maybe happen where it might be that Ollie Watkins thinks, ‘well, there’s no ambition here. We’re going to have to move on; we’re going to have to go to a different football club’.

“When they’re playing well, there’s always going to be interest for players. So, yes, there’s elements that you do want to keep your best players because I feel that if Villa are going to go and push on and be a European side and possibly get into the Champions League at some stage, they’re going to have to build around these key players that they’ve got – Ollie Watkins is one of them.

I still feel there’s more to come from him, but I do worry (about interest from top-six sides).”

Dean Smith would be fuming

Speaking earlier this season, The Athletic’s Gregg Evans waxed lyrical about the kind of transformation Villa have had thanks to Watkins’ arrival.

He said: “I really think he’s making a big difference actually, to Villa, I think that he’s given them a new dimension and his hold up play is great, he creates space for others and that’s helping the midfielders flourish.”

After the 25-year-old helped Villa to a superb 3-0 victory against Crystal Palace in December after being down to ten men, Smith raved: “I said to them at half-time in the dressing room, ‘There’s nobody I could choose out of the Premier League to lead the line with 10 men’ with Ollie Watkins. I thought he was outstanding today and the only thing missing was his goal.

“Listen, the numbers he produces in terms of his high-speed running and sprinting distances is incredible. The lads really appreciate the work he puts in.”

Watkins’ rise to becoming a bona fide Premier League star began with his performances at Brentford, with the Bees’ programme editor Chris Deacon telling The Athletic: “Ollie transformed himself into a physical specimen. We’d call him a machine because it looked like he would set himself into third gear and then cruise along at the front while everyone else was blowing.”

While transfer interest in him would be an indication of just how well the striker has done, Villa would be making an unforgivable mistake by looking to cash in on him and/or just letting him walk.

Smith’s side have improved dramatically since last season thanks to key signings like the 25-year-old, and that they’re still within a shout of European football is a testament to that.

The Villa boss would be absolutely fuming if the club decided to take the money on Watkins when they really should be strengthening the team around him.

Meanwhile, Villa should unleash this starlet amid reported transfer interest…

Leeds readying transfer bid for Omar Colley

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Leeds target Omar Colley can solve Bielsa problem

According to transfer reports, Leeds are serious about making a summer move for Sampdoria defender Omar Colley.

What’s the story?

It has been suggested in recent weeks that Marcelo Bielsa’s side are interested in signing the Gambia international in the upcoming summer transfer window as they look to strengthen the centre of their defence.

Italian publication Il Secolo XIX have claimed (via Sport Witness) that Leeds’ scouts have been left impressed by Colley and that they are now serious about signing him.

Do Leeds need a new centre-back this summer?

Yes!

No!

No!

The report added that an “offer is now ‘ready’ and that Sampdoria’s request of €12m-13m (£10m-11m) ‘wouldn’t be a problem’ for the Premier League club, ‘considering higher figures have been spent on far less performing defenders’.”

Could be Leeds’ own Van Dijk

Given that Leeds signed two established centre-backs in the shape of Robin Koch and Diego Llorente just last summer, it seems somewhat surprising that Victor Orta and co are looking to sign another proven central defender – especially when they also have club captain Liam Cooper and the likes of Luke Ayling and Pascal Struijk, both of whom can fill in there too.

This season has seen Colley win 2.9 aerial duels per match, which would rank him second among Leeds’ squad for 2020/21, with only Cooper averaging higher with 3.9 per game.

Indeed, as per Whoscored, his average of 2.6 interceptions per game would rank him first in the entire Whites squad, while his 4.2 clearances per match also sees him comfortably above any of Bielsa’s current options.

Leeds only have to look at Liverpool to see the kind of transformative impact a dominant centre-back signing can have, with Virgil van Dijk playing a key role in turning the Reds into Premier League and Champions League winners since joining from Southampton.

While Colley isn’t in that same bracket perhaps just yet, the 1.92m (6 foot 3) powerhouse appears to have the kind of defensive strengths which would make him a formidable opponent for opposition attackers to overcome – in fact, his average of only being dribbled past 0.3 times per game is better than any Leeds player this season.

Colley is a brick wall, and while a move is slightly surprising given Leeds’ current options at centre-back, it’s one which could see the Whites land their own version of Van Dijk.

Meanwhile, Bielsa could mould his next Roberto Ayala in this Leeds starlet…