Tag Archives: Southampton

Where should Tammy Abraham go this summer?

If ever you needed a sign that you weren’t wanted at a football club under a certain manager, it’s being the top goalscorer for the team across all competitions, being available and not even making a 12-man bench for the Champions League final.

That’s the position that Chelsea striker Tammy Abraham found himself in most recently, as the Blues were crowned champions of Europe without him thanks to Kai Havertz’s strike.

With Thomas Tuchel now guaranteed to stay on next season, Abraham must start looking at the next chapter of his career if he wants to continue pushing on to become an international striker on a regular basis. But where is best for him? Lets take a look at some realistic options and which would suit him most.

SOUTHAMPTON

The Saints are likely to be on the lookout for a number nine this summer, with Danny Ings’ future up in the air. Ings’ contract is entering the final 12 months and he has attracted interest from the likes of Tottenham, which means they will need to replace him.

Abraham has scored goals everywhere he’s been, including Chelsea, and Southampton could do a lot worse than looking to bring him in whether it be permanently or on loan. He has great feet, is good in the air, good strength and is at his best in the penalty area where Southampton would want him to hang around to take chances.

Unfortunately for them, his wages could be an issue in getting a deal done. Southampton aren’t the strongest financially and Chelsea are notoriously tough negotiators when it comes to selling so unless it suits them they won’t do it. Add to that they’ll definitely have competition for his signature, they’d need a miracle to make it happen.

BRIGHTON

Graham Potter has built a tremendous squad with Brighton since joining, but the thing that has had them in relegation battles since his arrival is the lack of a clinical front man.

Neil Maupay, Danny Welbeck, Alireza Jahanbakhsh and Aaron Connolly combined for just 16 goals in the league this season and missed a whole host of chances between them, leading to the Seagulls having the worst xG differential among the entire league.

They didn’t have any issues when it came to creating though and having a striker in the box who is always available and reliable to find the back of the next is exactly what they’ve been calling for. They’ve got some cash available and while it’s unlikely to be the £40m that Chelsea reportedly want, they can make an enticing offer or get him in on loan.

Much like Southampton though, a lack of European football and competition for his signature means it would be a huge coup and is unlikely to happen.

ASTON VILLA

Tammy Abraham of Aston Villa celebrates with the trophy following his teams victory in the Sky Bet Championship Play-off Final match between Aston...

A return to his old stomping ground perhaps? Abraham spent a season on loan at Villa and scored 26 goals in 40 games as he boosted them into the Premier League. Following that loan spell, he earned the chance at Chelsea under Frank Lampard and never returned.

But the connection has always been there and he admitted that he greatly enjoyed his time in England’s second city, so why not? Villa were a side who really struggled going forward if Jack Grealish couldn’t get going and while Ollie Watkins scored 14 Premier League goals in his first season, there’s always room for improvement.

Abraham would provide great competition and depth to their attack as well as goals, but it just seems unlikely that Villa would spend so big on him with Watkins performing well. No European football is again a factor, but the lure or returning somewhere he’s clearly still adored could be more tempting.

WEST HAM UNITED

David Moyes did a phenomenal job with the Hammers last season, pushing for a top four place all the way until the end before securing a place in the Europa League.

The loan signing of Jesse Lingard gave them a much needed boost for goals in the second half of the season and with Michail Antonio’s fitness up and down they need someone reliable to run the line in attack and Abraham fits the bill.

The lone striker role with interchanging attacking midfielders behind him would suit him perfectly and they have the money and position available to be filled. It would also mean he can stay in London, and hopefully improve his chances of getting back into the England set up.

There aren’t many negatives to this deal other than whether or not West Ham want to make it happen, or if they prioritise someone else.

ARSENAL

Tammy Abraham of Chelsea is challenged by Rob Holding of Arsenal during the Premier League match between Arsenal and Chelsea at Emirates Stadium on...

Controversial? Maybe. But there’s no doubt that if Arsenal are looking for a striker this summer then Abraham should be high up on their list, and if Abraham is to leave then Arsenal would be an ideal destination.

Mikel Arteta is seemingly being backed to oversee a complete squad rebuild this summer and with Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang both the wrong side of 30 striker could be a position they look to sign in. From the way Arteta has played previously, he wants his striker predominantly in the penalty area and that is where Abraham is at his absolute best.

£40million may seem high, but if Lacazette or Aubameyang were to leave it would be for a similar price or would free up huge wages to make it possible, and he’d likely be happy to stay in London.

No European football would be a problem, but Arsenal have enough credit in the bank as a big club to tempt him where Brighton and Southampton don’t.

Alan Shearer – The most underrated Premier League player ever?

Is there a striker in the history of the game more underrated and disrespected than Alan Shearer? Probably not.

Now a BBC pundit, Shearer is the all-time top goalscorer for his boyhood club Newcastle United and was the main man as Blackburn won the Premier League title back in 1995. He also hit 30 goals for England in 63 appearances, so how is he left out of the conversations about the best strikers of his generation?

There’s a conversation that needs to be had about how whenever there are conversations about the best strikers of the 90’s, he is conveniently left out for bigger superstars.

If you look at his record from the 1990/91 season up to the end of 1999/00, Shearer scored a remarkable 251 goals at club level. Compare that to the other greats of the 90’s and he’s right up there with them. The legendary R9 scored 197 (starting from 1993), Gabriel Batistuta scored 226 and Roberto Baggio scored 174.

His numbers were ridiculous but he was also doing it in an era where defending was tougher and the game was far more physical.

In fact, during that period Shearer only failed to hit 20+ goals in all competitions twice – once in the 1990/91 season in what was only his second full season in first-team football and then again in the 1997/98 season when he suffered a serious ankle ligament injury and missed a huge chunk of the season.

He scored all types of goals whether it be tap ins, penalties, towering headers, left foot, right foot, edge of the box piledrivers or even free-kicks – he was the total package.

His strength meant he was capable of going into physical battles with the best defenders of his era and he maintained his fantastic numbers even as Newcastle fell away as title challengers and started challenging for top four as he got older.

He enjoyed scoring against the better teams too, so he couldn’t be described as a flat-track bully either. He scored 20 times against Leeds, 18 times against Everton, 17 times against Tottenham, 11 times against Chelsea and ten times against Manchester United throughout his career.

Not to mention the fact that he won three golden boots in the Premier League, came third place in the 1996 Ballon d’Or awards behind Matthias Sammer and Ronaldo. He’s also the all-time top goalscorer in the Premier League with 260 goals, one of only two players to pass the 200 mark along with Wayne Rooney.

Alan Shearer Blackburn Rovers Premiership Champions 1995 : News Photo

Whenever there is a conversation about the greatest Premier League side ever he is often left out, which is just mental.

Yes, there have been other attacking players that have lit up the league in their careers and that were arguably better than him individually. But that makes his achievements even greater.

The reason he’s often overlooked is probably the fact that he stayed at Newcastle during the peak of his powers, despite interest from Sir Alex Ferguson and Manchester United on several occasions. It makes you wonder that if he accomplished all he did at the teams he did, what more could he have done in a team that completely dominated the domestic game for the best part of two decades.

There is a reason that Newcastle have only managed to finish in the top half of the Premier League three times since his retirement in 2006, and have been relegated twice. They’ve never replaced his goals – simply because it’s so difficult to replace that volume.

In this day and age there are goal scorers all over Europe but I have no doubt in my mind that they’d have an extra name alongside them competing – and that man is Alan Shearer. The most underrated Premier League player ever.

Edinson Cavani Shows Manchester United What a Real Number Nine Looks Like

Manchester United were given a reminder of what a true number nine looks like leading the line, as Edinson Cavani came off the bench to score twice in a 3-2 comeback win against Southampton.

The Reds started the game well but quickly found themselves 2-0 down thanks to Jan Bednarek’s header and a stunning James Ward-Prowse free-kick. This prompted Ole Gunnar Solskjær to send for the cavalry, as Cavani was introduced at half-time in place of Mason Greenwood.

The Uruguayan international was influential with his movement off the ball throughout the second half, getting an assist for Bruno Fernandes on the hour mark to pull it back to 2-1. It was then his turn to get in on the action as Fernandes’ strike was deflected into his path and he stooped to head home an equaliser.

Then in the 92nd minute, Fernandes fired a free-kick out to Rashford, who whipped in a picture perfect cross from Cavani to run across goal and glance into the near post for the winner.

That piece of movement between the posts is exactly what United have been missing in recent years and especially under Solskjaer, who has spoken constantly about wanting to get Anthony Martial and Rashford scoring ‘scrappy goals’.

The best comparison I have for the way Cavani plays is if you play ‘Pro Clubs’ on FIFA.

When he has his back to goal, his first thought is to lay it off to someone and make the move in behind the defence. If there is no space in behind, he gets on the shoulder of the defenders and moves between the width of the posts.

He’s never been the most clinical, which is crazy when you think of how many goals he has scored throughout his career, but there’s a reason for that. He’s always in the right place for those fortunate, scrappy goals to fall his way.

He’s not a bad finisher, obviously, but he’s not in the upper echelon of strikers who need one chance to get on the scoresheet. He often needs more than that.

With the way Manchester United tend to create chances, Cavani’s instincts and movement is arguably what’s needed the most. Martial is the better front man right now in terms of what he can bring to the side overall, but Cavani guarantees goals.

He’s arguably made himself the first choice striker for now with that performance and the onus is on Martial to win his place back.

United looked a different outfit with him on the pitch and Ole would be crazy to take him out of the side for Martial with both of their current form.

Pierre-Emile Højbjerg – Tottenham’s Missing Piece

In the last 18 months under Mauricio Pochettino, many believed that Tottenham had a near perfect squad.

Strength in depth, a balance of technique and brute force, good aerially, great on the floor and capable of winning individual duels. It was no shock to many when they began chasing titles and even reached a Champions League final.

The following six months that followed though saw Spurs crumble and weaknesses appear. Jose Mourinho came in and as we all saw on the ‘All or Nothing’ documentary series, he was desperate to add a nasty streak to a side full of nice guys.

Enter Pierre-Emile Højbjerg. The Danish international had been the Southampton captain under Ralph Hassenhüttl but had told the club he wanted to leave for higher level football. Southampton agreed to let him leave and it was expected that he would join Everton, after the Toffees agreed a fee with the club.

Spurs had registered an interest and following Everton’s bid, they moved for the player too and swiftly wrapped a deal up. He was given the departed Jan Vertonghen’s number 5 shirt and has slotted straight into the team as the first-choice holding midfielder.

With Eric Dier openly revealing that he wants to move back into his preferred centre back role, Mourinho has accommodated the request and Spurs look better for it in midfield.

Tottenham Hotspur v Everton - Premier League : News Photo

In the opening game of the season, Højbjerg struggled as Spurs employed a 4231 formation. He was sloppy in possesion, he lost duels and couldn’t get his stranglehold on the game. Everton ended up taking 3 points and fans criticised the Dane for failing to do his job as a defensive midfielder.

Ever since then though, Spurs have switched to a 433 formation and Højbjerg has shone. As the deepest midfielder, he has been instrumental in their upturn in form as the single pivot. With Moussa Sissoko and Tanguy Ndombele alongside him, he has options either side that are able to get box-to-box and assist him defensively while also supporting the attack.

His aggression is exactly the type of nasty streak that Mourinho was desperate for when he joined. He couldn’t get it out of his existing players, so he dipped into the market.

This Spurs squad is ripe for Mourinho. Everyone is at the optimal age to perform to their highest, while also knowing that Mourinho’s methods are a bit different from the usual. They have also been around long enough to know that if followed, his methods work and win trophies which is what they all want.

If Tottenham are to be successful this season, which looks very possible judging off early results and performances all over, then Højbjerg’s performances and form will have a huge say in it. He was their missing piece to the jigsaw, now they need to just put the pieces in the right places.

Southampton Looking To Ruben Loftus-Cheek For Midfield Reinforcements

After two defeats in the opening two games of the Premier League season, Ralph Hassenhutl has identified a gaping hole in his Southampton side.

Having lost Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg to Tottenham in the summer and letting Mario Lemina leave the club on loan, the Saints are short in central midfield. It’s now been revealed that the German coach has identified potential targets for his squad.

According to The Athletic, Southampton were interested in bringing one of Ruben Loftus-Cheek or Scott McTominay to the club on loan to help with their issues. After Manchester United were linked with a move for Thiago, Hassenhutl believed that it could make the Scotland international available for a move. That however obviously didn’t happen as Thiago joined Liverpool, so he has now been ruled out as an option.

After starting the first Premier League game of the season, Loftus-Cheek was substituted and hasn’t featured even on the bench for Chelsea in their two games since. This has given the Saints encouragement that a deal could potentially be done, with the player himself open to a loan move if he is going to be guaranteed regular football.

After initially breaking into the Chelsea side, Loftus-Cheek had a successful loan spell away at Crystal Palace back in 2017. He returned expecting to be part of the first-team and while he was more involved than previously he never really established a starting-role. Eventually he began to impress under Maurizio Sarri before suffering a ruptured achilles tendon during a post-season friendly match.

Since returning from injury he has struggled to nail down a regular place in the side, although it was believed he would flourish under the management of Chelsea legend Frank Lampard. It hasn’t quite worked out that way though and now at 25 years old, he needs regular football.

He has incredible natural ability, with a drive from central midfield reminiscent of the great Patrick Vieira and Yaya Toure. His body so far hasn’t coped well with mens football though and he has suffered a lot with injuries. With Southampton having less games to play throughout the season his body may cope more and may even get used to a tighter schedule for his potential return to Chelsea.

If Southampton can get a deal done they will bring in a player who ups the level of their play in midfield on a relatively cheap deal (I can’t imagine the loan fee would be particularly high), while Chelsea will have one of their brightest academy talents playing regular football with the view of a potential return for one last chance in the first-team.

Seems like a win-win-win for both clubs and the player to me.

Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg To Everton Is A ‘Done Deal’

Southampton have agreed a deal to sell former captain Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg to Everton, according to reports.

Hojbjerg told the club during the lockdown period that he wanted to leave during the summer transfer window, with Tottenham Hotspur heavily linked. But according to reports by Alex Crook, it’s Everton who have got ahead in the race for the Dane and a deal has been agreed worth £25million.

According to Crook, the two clubs have agreed a fee and an official offer has been accepted with the player also agreeing personal terms for a move. Tottenham have also tabled a bid for the former Bayern Munich man, but it doesn’t match the offer from the Toffees and has therefore not been accepted. Despite agreeing personal terms with Carlo Ancelotti’s side, Hojbjerg prefers a move to North London and is waiting to see if they come back with another offer.

Hojbjerg joined Southampton in 2016 after failing to break into the Bayern first-team following the departure of Pep Guardiola as manager. He quickly asserted himself as a lead figure at the club and has been a regular in the side ever since, becoming captain in December 2018 as Ralph Hassenhuttl took over the reigns as manager.

His style of combative, ball-playing midfielder would fit in well with what Jose Mourinho wants in central midfield. A blend of Harry Winks and Moussa Sissoko, the Denmark international has all the capabilities to play at a higher level than Southampton and it’s no surprise that bigger clubs are circling for his signature.

With Everton in the picture, Hojbjerg walks into that midfield ahead of the likes of Tom Davies and Gylfi Sigurdsson. Ancelotti has adopted a 4-4-2 formation during his time at Goodison Park and Andre Gomes has often been the key man in the centre of the park. Sigurdsson has been used for his creativity, but it’s clear that isn’t his natural position and he has struggled to live up to his £45million price tag since the move from Swansea.

Both sides are looking to get back into European contention next season, with Spurs boss Jose Mourinho already telling fans he wants to win next seasons Europa League competition. Hojbjerg would go a long way to boosting their issues in central midfield, but the Lilywhites will need to act quickly if they’re to get their man ahead of Everton.

Why Danny Ings Should Stay at Southampton

When a player currently at a lower-ranked Premier League side has a big season, it almost always leads to interest from the big clubs.

The same pattern has followed this year as Southampton striker Danny Ings has hit 21 league goals in his 37 games so far this season, putting him behind only Jamie Vardy in the race for the golden boot.

With the Saints avoiding relegation comfortably in the end, the club are looking forward to next season already but they will surely have no idea just yet of whether they should be planning for live with or without Ings.

While there hasn’t been any reported interest, you’d assume clubs such as Tottenham, Arsenal and Everton will all be keeping a close eye on him. The former Burnley striker could also attract interest from the likes of Liverpool and Manchester United as they look to strengthen their attacking options. None of them would be a good idea for his career though.

With Ings, Southampton have the perfect striker for their system. His goal tally is a reflection of that but it is also the way he brings those around him into play too. The form of Nathan Redmond has greatly improved as Ings’ influence grew, while James Ward-Prowse has seen his great form make him captain at the club.

Liverpool Unveil New Signing Danny Ings : News Photo

Ings, who turns 28 next week, is at the perfect club for his career too. He’s the undisputed first choice striker, is thriving in the system, he’s staying fit and is surrounded by enough good players that this season of battling relegation can comfortably be looked at as a blip. The manager has also just signed a new long-term deal, which means there is stability.

Had Euro 2020 been this summer, it would be nigh on impossible for Gareth Southgate to be leaving him at home. However, the tournament isn’t this summer. That means for Ings to be in the squad next year, he needs to maintain this form. He will have added competition, with the fitness of Marcus Rashford and Harry Kane not an issue anymore and players like Mason Greenwood, Bukayo Saka, Callum Hudson-Odoi and Phil Foden all likely to be even more involved in the first-team at their clubs next year. He needs to have another flawless season like this if he is to break into that squad.

To give himself the best chance of doing so, he should look to make the best conditions for himself. While he could move to a bigger club, earn more money and have more chance at trophies/European football, he is less likely to be this effective. All the top clubs currently have options that are better than Ings and/or systems that aren’t tailor made for him. He’d go in as back-up, as he used to do at Liverpool or it would likely be a sideways move anyway.

If he leaves, he will need to adjust to new teammates, coaches and a new way of playing. At St Mary’s, he is the man and it’s unlikely to be changing any time soon.