EPL SEASON ENDS THIS WEEKEND

Exciting deals expected in Summer break

Boehly said that Chelsea were very good and the fact that they are only just behind Manchester City and Liverpool is enough proof.

In Summary

•Chelsea coach Thomas Tuchel and prospective new owner Todd Boehly had lunch at the Cobham training ground this week which was very friendly and Tuchel left feeling good.

•Since he joined Manchester United from Borussia Dortmund, Jadon Sancho has seen his career go backward. 

The Premier League is the most exciting in the world and unlike the other European leagues, the title and relegation battles are still being fought out on the final days of the season.

The 2022/3 season will again see intense excitement between the top and bottom clubs and during the summer break, there will be fascinating deals with clubs strengthening their squads, players switching clubs and new owners flexing their financial muscles.

I will continue to bring you all the news from inside the clubs as it happens.

Tuchel and Boehly must work closely at Chelsea

Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel
Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel
Image: REUTERS

Chelsea coach Thomas Tuchel and prospective new owner Todd Boehly had lunch at the Cobham training ground this week which was very friendly and Tuchel left feeling good.

The meeting was about getting to know each other and not so much about new transfers and money. The pair spent more time talking about basketball and baseball.

Tuchel needs to work with Boehly who will be more hands-on than Roman Abramovich and the American clearly has big ambitions for the Blues.

Boehly is enthusiastic about his new challenge and expects the Blues to win trophies almost from the start of his reign. He watched the FA Cup final last weekend and was enthusiastic as Chelsea and Liverpool fought out a draw only to see the Blues lose on penalties.

Boehly said that Chelsea were very good and the fact that they are only just behind Manchester City and Liverpool is enough proof.

However, coach Thomas Tuchel quickly put him right by explaining that whereas Boehly might be forgiven for aiming high very quickly, it is a matter of urgency that he is able to reshape his squad for next season.

He will of course have to replace two of the Premier League’s best defenders in Rudiger and Christensen who leave on free transfers. Therefore, a new central defender is required and also a top-quality striker as was emphasized by the number of wasted chances in front of the goal during the Cup Final.

Mateo Kovacic and N’Golo Kante were both only half-fit last weekend which enabled Liverpool’s midfield of Henderson, Thiago and Keita to dominate the centre of the field despite losing Fabinho to injury.

It demonstrated perfectly that Chelsea could not match Liverpool’s reserves from the bench and they also have to face the fact that Kante’s considerable powers diminish with age and injuries become more frequent.

Boehly intends to make a lot of money available for transfers. Upfront Lukaku has not settled under Tuchel and could move back to Italy with his transfer fee being used to bring in another striker.

Sancho looking for a new start

Sancho.
Sancho.
Image: BBC

Since he joined Manchester United from Borussia Dortmund, Jadon Sancho has seen his career go backward. He has expressed his disappointment several times to other players and his agents. Under Ralf Rangnick, the 22-year-old has not made a significant impact and has scored only five goals and made three assists. He is, however, very confident he can impress incoming coach Erik ten Hag with his skills and believes it will be a fresh start for next season.

He said this week, “It has been a difficult season. To start again fresh with a new manager coming in, we’re looking forward to seeing what his ideas and plans are for the team. My career is only just starting and hopefully, it will take off next season.”

Ten Hag already lining up new signings

Incoming Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag reacts during a past match
Incoming Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag reacts during a past match
Image: REUTERS

Erik ten Hag travelled to Manchester this week to discuss working together with the United directors.

United are moving quickly to acquire his first signing. Ten Hag worked with 20-year-old Jurrien Timber at Ajax and he wants to bring the youngster to Old Trafford in a central defending position which will put pressure on Harry Maguire.

Timber played a big part in securing a third Dutch title win for Ten Hag, playing in 43 matches this season. He has also targeted a new striker, holding a midfielder plus two fullbacks.

Brazilian forward Antony Matheus dos Santos, known simply as Antony, is another on Ten Hag’s wish list. He currently plays for Ten Hag at Ajax and also the Brazilian national team.

Mbappe is likely for Real Madrid if he leaves PSG

Paris St Germain's Kylian Mbappe
Paris St Germain's Kylian Mbappe
Image: REUTERS

The rumours surrounding Kylian Mbappe signing for Liverpool have finally reached an end.

The striker will definitely not be joining Liverpool who have said that his price is too high. Mbappe’s contract with Paris Saint-Germain expires this summer and the battle for his signature is now between PSG re-signing him and Real Madrid who are desperately trying to raise the money to pay him approximately £600k a week or £30million per year.

Manager Jurgen Klopp added that if Liverpool signed Mbappe for such a high wage,  it would affect their negotiations with Mo Salah who is due a new contract and would expect parity with the Frenchman and £60million in wages for two players is not something Liverpool will consider.

Ronaldo is upbeat about Ten Hag’s arrival

Ronaldo said this week that he is looking forward to working with new manager Erik ten Hag which answers the question about him leaving at the end of the season.

The 37-year-old said, “I know he has done a fantastic job at Ajax and he is an experienced coach, but we have to give him time. Things could change how he wants them to. We are all happy and enthusiastic about his joining United and we believe we can win trophies.”

Kane is a big fan of Conte

Tottenham Hotspur's Harry Kane applauds fans
Tottenham Hotspur's Harry Kane applauds fans
Image: REUTERS

Harry Kane’s stay at Tottenham is very much dependent on Antonio Conte also staying. He said this week that he hopes Conte will remain as a coach and winning Sunday’s final game against already relegated Norwich will define what happens for both of them next season.

Tottenham were eighth in the league when Conte arrived but he has hauled them up the table reaching third and with the possibility of Champions League football next season with a win on Sunday.

Kane said of Conte, “I have said I am a big fan of his and I am enjoying working with him. I know everyone here is enjoying his passion for football and he is a great guy.”

The trophy cabinet is full and empty

It was pointed out to me this week that Chelsea’s Callum Hudson-Odoi has, at 21 years of age, already won winner’s medals for the Champions League, Europa League, European Super Cup and the Club World Cup.

Absolutely amazing! Harry Kane on the other hand is 28 years old, is recognised as one of the world’s best strikers and his medal cabinet is empty. Callum could be upstaged by Liverpool’s Trent Alexander-Arnold who has already won four major trophies at the young age of 23! Cristiano Ronaldo is the only player to better this when he won the Premier League, Champions League, FA Cup and League Cup 113 days earlier than Alexander-Arnold.

More huge fees are paid to agents!

Many of you will be aware of my position regarding agent’s fees. To underline my concern about the amount of money they take from football transfers, which ends up costing the fans who have to buy more expensive tickets, £272million was paid in total by the 20 Premier League clubs during the period February 2021 to January 2022. Manchester City were the biggest spenders when they bought Jack Grealish for £100million and in total paid £25million to agents. Manchester United paid £29million when they signed Jadon Sancho, Raphael Verane and Cristiano Ronaldo.

Referees training with players?

Southampton's James Ward-Prowse is shown a red card by referee Martin Atkinson
Southampton's James Ward-Prowse is shown a red card by referee Martin Atkinson
Image: REUTERS

What a crazy idea. I can’t understand next season’s plan for referees to train with players at various clubs in order to keep fit. The idea was the brainchild of Manchester United’s interim coach Ralf Rangnick.

Both he and the FA believe the players and referees’ “closer relationship” will help to make matches less problematic if say for instance a player feels he has been harshly treated following a yellow card for a foul.

The new “relationship” will make the whole event more friendly. Can you imagine the comical situation where a referee is training with the players and they make him look foolish as he fails to even get a touch of the ball which could make him very grumpy and he would remember which players embarrassed him at training? So you get the point? I believe referees should be like headmasters at school…accessible and approachable but on a higher level where you respect them and their decisions – right or wrong. Do they really have to be your best buddy?

High ticket prices for less football

Do football fans get good value for the high prices they pay for tickets? The answer could be in the amount of football they actually experience during a match. In other words, the time the ball is actually in play.

It surprised me to learn that the average time a ball has been in play during this season’s Manchester City matches is only 60 minutes and 33 seconds!

That leaves almost half an hour of no action or 37% of the game. At Aston Villa, the story is even worse as their playing time amounted to an average of 51 minutes and 26 seconds, which is slightly less than Newcastle and Southampton with an average of 52 minutes!

The no play moments take into consideration throw-ins while the ball is collected, corners, goal kicks, substitutions and free kicks. And now we have VAR which gobbles up another 6% of playing time while decisions are made.

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