• Manchester United have arrived back at the top of the elite table. Next season Liverpool, Manchester City, United and Chelsea will be taking on the Champions League.
• Replacing a player with the ability of winger Leroy Sane was never going to be easy for Manchester City. However, agreeing a deal with Valencia for Ferran Torres might just be a very good solution.
The season finally came to an end and we learned who were the winners and losers. It is goodbye to Norwich City, a genuine family-based club with husband and wife owners.
Manager Daniel Farke’s job is safe and he will rebuild his team in the Championship. Bournemouth, with the smallest ground in the Premier League have also gone and manager Eddie Howe, touted only a year ago to be England or an elite club manager, is meeting his board of directors to discuss the future.
If he does not get the reassurances he believes are necessary, he will leave. And finally, Watford, who stupidly sacked their manager with only two games to go and brought about their own downfall. Hello to Leeds and West Bromwich Albion, who have been promoted to the Premier League.
Both Leeds and West Brom, are huge clubs with great support bases. I will bring you news over the next few weeks on their preparation for life in the top tier.
The other team will be determined at the end of the ongoing playoffs.
Solksjaer’s big decision time
Manchester United have arrived back at the top of the elite table. Next season Liverpool, Manchester City, United and Chelsea will be taking on the Champions League.
For Solskjaer, it is going to be a busy short break before we resume the Premier League on September 12. David De Gea, once United’s most reliable player, is at risk with a string of poor judgements during the past season. Behind the closed doors of United, his future has been discussed and whereas Solskjaer still holds faith with him, Sheffield United stopper Dean Henderson, who is on loan, has been considered for a return to Old Trafford.
No decisions have been made but several influential people within the club believe United need someone to match Liverpool’s Becker or City’s Ederson. Solskjaer is more concerned with signing a centre-back, right winger and attacking midfielder. That would give them a squad of 36 and therefore some players will have to go. Marcus Rojo, who earns a huge £160k a week and Phil Jones will likely leave.
Solskjaer is considering Pau Torres at Spanish club Villarreal and Bournemouth’s Nathan Ake as his incoming centre-backs and one player to cover Aaron Wan-Bissaka which means either Timothy Fosu-Mensah or Diogo Dalot will go. It is possible that Chris Smalling could return from his year-long loan to Roma. However, Aston Villa star Tyrone Mings is also being considered.
On loan Alexis Sanchez has performed strongly for Inter Milan since the return from lockdown and wants to stay in Italy despite Solskjaer showing interest to give him another chance at Old Trafford. May further chase Van de Beek then either Jesse Lingard or Andreas Pereira could leave. United are sensitive about Lingard as he is popular with the fans and in the dressing room and journalists were prevented asking questions about his future at a recent press conference.
Torres to replace Leroy Sane
Replacing a player with the ability of winger Leroy Sane was never going to be easy for Manchester City. However, agreeing a deal with Valencia for Ferran Torres might just be a very good solution.
Guardiola is determined to give Liverpool a tough challenge next season and Torres is the sort of player who could set the Premier League alight. £20million with £8million add-ons is a bargain for the 20 year old and City tell me the deal is likely to be completed in the next few days. Financial problems, because of COVID-19, has forced the Spanish club to part with their star and Torres chose City over Real Madrid, Atletico Madrid and Borussia Dortmund because he wants to work with Guardiola.
Fans support Ceballos staying
Arsenal fans were having a mini celebration when it was announced that Dani Ceballos is not required back at Real Madrid next season and instead will be staying with the Gunners. Arsenal paid a loan fee of £3.5million for his services and agreed to cover his £55k a week wages. Ceballos has repaid Arsenal and performed well and has become a favourite with supporters. News from the medical centre on Shkodran Mustafi is that his hamstring surgery went well but he is likely to miss the beginning of the new season.
I fear for Crystal Palace
One team which needs urgent attention, or they are going to be certain relegation candidates next season, is Crystal Palace. Manager Roy Hodgson is almost 73 years-of-age and his team has the oldest average player age, almost 30.
Palace do not have a lot of money and Hodgson has done a remarkable job with an ordinary squad of players except for Zaha and he is the one player they could lose as several clubs circle around him.
Finishing eleventh is commendable. However, when you consider that Manchester City had 745 shots on goal and Palace a mere 376, it's worrying. Only Burnley finished with a lower score. When you look at the stats for 2019-20, Crystal Palace do not feature anywhere near the top for set piece goals, passing accuracy or points won from a losing position.
If Zaha does leave, their most gifted player will be missing from an under-performing forward line and the defence needs stronger players. Summer is going to be busy at Palace and like Eddie Howe at Bournemouth, manager Roy Hodgson will not stay if he doesn’t see improvement in his squad.
Liverpool no to Traore
I was amused to see that Spanish newspaper Nuno Deportivo reported Wolves highly rated winger Adama Traore has received several offers including one from Liverpool. That was news to me so I made contact with the Reds who assured me that although they rate Adama highly they cannot afford to buy expensive players at the moment as they sort out their finances following the big lockdown with no gate receipts.
It was also pointed out to me that manager Jurgen Klopp is happy with his squad and feels no need to bring in players who are going to spend time on the bench. The only slight worry Jurgen has is that with the new season starting on September 12th he also has the Charity Shield to contend with so his squad selections and depth of resources are going to be vital.
“Feel Good” feeling at United
I was amused to see what was happening in Manchester United’s training session before their Champions League place-winning performance against Leicester last Sunday. United were not wearing their usual black or coral and instead sported black and orange and even the assistants could be seen in white tops.
To brighten the colourful scene, Andreas Pereira showed off his new bleached haircut. Usually, at this time of year normal training drills would be abandoned with the players tired and perhaps not as focused as usual. I was, however, surprised to see that Ole Gunner Solskjaer produce some fun ideas with “football tennis” the main game.
Marcus Rashford, Jesse Lingard and Paul Pogba were on one side of the net and Nemanja Matic, Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Brandon Williams on the other. It was all smiles and laughs. That is the thing with United: their fine run of form is partly due to the “feel good” factor. Solskjaer has made a point of getting United players to blend together.
Pogba has rarely looked happier and to see Eric Bailly in mid-air doing a bicycle kick whilst upside down gives you an idea of how even a player who has been injured for much of the season is enjoying his football again.
Lallana good signing for Brighton
Adam Lallana is a very good player. Brighton have secured his signature and he will wear No 14 in next season’s team. Being part of the title-winning Liverpool team meant spending a lot of time on the bench with so many world class players in the squad but make no mistake, this does not reflect on his inability.
Manager Graham Potter said at the signing: “There is no doubting Adam’s quality and if you look at his footballing CV, his ability is clear for everyone to see. I am sure the supporters will be really looking forward to see him play for us.”
Lallana responded by adding: “The infrastructure and ambition around Brighton excites me. It was a pretty easy choice for me in the end. It is a perfect match.”
Hasenhuttl pleased with short break
Southampton manager Ralph Hasenhuttl is one person pleased with the short summer break. Saints finished mid-table and he has been speaking about how pleased he is with his players who lost only once in eight games after the lockdown.
After their humiliating and freakish 9-0 defeat at home to Leicester City in October, the players showed remarkable professionalism, picked themselves up and proved to be a formidable side. Hasenhuttl said this week: “It was an interesting season with strange moments and unbelievable turnarounds. It was like a roller coaster.
The short break is not so bad for us. We are a fit team and do not need a lot of preparation. We showed after the lockdown that we can be very quick on the ball and we must build on that for next season. We cannot wait to go again.”
Everton moving forward
Carlo Ancelotti knows he has a lot of hard work this summer now the season has concluded. He wants to reshape his squad for the next challenge. With Leighton Baines gone, Ancelotti is also saying goodbye to Monaco on-loan full back Djibril Sidibe.
The 27-year-old French international made 28 appearances with the Blues. Ancelotti has been given a reasonable amount of money but will be very selective as to who he brings in and word is that two or three players is the maximum.
One he is hoping to secure is French club Lille’s 22 year-old centre back Gabriel Magalhaes. He is attracting a lot of attention but Ancelotti is hoping for a favourable decision from the Brazilian this week.