Leicester City should table a bid to land Phil Jones in January
According to the Daily Star, Manchester United are looking to offload centre-back Phil Jones in January. The 26-year-old has fallen out of favour this season under Jose Mourinho due to recurrent injuries and lack of form.
When Jones was signed by the Red Devils from Blackburn Rovers back in 2011, he was tipped to become one of United’s best ever centre-backs. However, things haven’t gone according to the script for the English international at Old Trafford, with injuries halting his progress numerous times over the past seven seasons.
The 26-year-old was a key member of United’s backline last season and helped the Red Devils to a second place finish in the Premier League. However, he has made only a single appearance in the Premier League this season, which came in the 3-0 defeat at the hands of Spurs.
Jones, who was a part of England’s World Cup squad in Russia, returned to pre-season training ahead of schedule to cement a place in the team under Jose Mourinho. However, he was scrutinized for missing the spot kick in the penalty shootout against Derby County in the Carabao Cup and hasn’t featured since.
As a result, Jones faces the risk of slipping down the pecking order even further. To be honest, lack of playtime is bound to jeopardize his international future under Gareth Southgate.
Leicester City have made a decent start to the season and the Foxes sit 10th in the standings with 5 wins from 12 games. Going by the talent that they have in their ranks, they could have done better in the opening stages of the Premier League. Much like Manchester United, lack of stability at the back has been the cause of their undoing several times this season.
Wes Morgan, 34, has looked way off the pace and has been sent off twice in the Premier League this season while Harry Maguire has blown hot and cold.
Jonny Evans has done a decent job at the back but he is 33 and the Foxes need to find a long-term solution to their defensive woes. Caglar Soyuncu, who made his move from Freiburg in the summer, has played just a single game and is yet to cement his place in the side while fellow summer signing Filip Benkovic has been loaned out to Celtic.
Suffice to say, Leicester need to replace their ageing centre-backs to cope with the pace of the Premier League. Wes Morgan and Jonny Evans are at the twilight of their careers, which should prompt the Foxes to seek younger alternatives.
To put things into perspective, Phil Jones would be the ideal option for Claude Puel to shore up his backline. Jones might not have fulfilled his potential as a centre-back due to his recurrent injuries but he is still one of the best centre-backs in the Premier League. There are very few defenders who are as solid as him when the Englishman is at the top of his game.
Blessed with a good technique for a centre-back, Jones is comfortable with the ball at his feet and excels with his ball distribution skills. He is an excellent passer of the ball, short and long, and has the ability to operate as a ball-playing centre-back. The 26-year-old has a good positional sense for a centre-back but his most impressive attributes are his strength and aerial prowess.
Standing at 5ft. 11 inches, he is not particularly tall for a centre-back but makes up for it with his strong build, which allows him to dominate the opposition with his physicality.
Jones has the ability to time his jump to perfection, which allows him to win the aerial balls despite being a bit on the shorter side. In fact, he averaged 2.5 successful aerial duels per game last season. A no-nonsense defender, Jones likes to clear the ball out of the box and averaged 5.6 clearances per game last term in the Premier League.
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That said, Leicester need a high-quality centre-back to partner Harry Maguire in the heart of the defence and they should start pursuing an interest in Phil Jones when the window opens in January.
Time for goodbye? Crystal Palace’s talismanic speedster should leave the club to reach new heights
Crystal Palace opinion: Zaha should leave the Eagles to reach next level
According to a recent report by the Daily Mail, Crystal Palace star Wilfried Zaha has already informed his representatives within the club about his plans to move on to join a club that regularly competes in the Champions League.
It has been reported that Zaha also met up with club chairman Steve Parish in the week after the league season drew to a close.
Whether or not he’s already informed the chairman of his intentions next term is a question that is yet to be answered, it seems to quite explicit that he desired to step up to the next level of the footballing pedestal next season.
It’s a certainty that multiple top European clubs will be more than keen on the Ivorian’s signature.
His exploits for Palace this season certainly haven’t gone unnoticed and the fact that he stepped up and even performed the role of striker satisfactorily will be an added boost.
The stuttering Palace forwards meant that Zaha was promoted to playing striker in the early months of the season and he delivered the goods consistently.
His figures for Palace has been an absolute dream and an aspiring team such as themselves have him go thank for the position they’re in.
While there are bound to be some changes at Selhurst Park this summer, replacing Zaha will be the most challenging task as he has been their sole creative outlet for a while now.
Having played in 34 league games this season, most of which he started, the Ivorian winger managed to notch up a highly impressive 10 goals and 10 assists and has been far and away Palace’s most standout player of the season.
Alongside Andros Townsend, Zaha has scored some wonder-goals this season and his stock has definitely risen.
He is often utilised by on the right-flank of his attack line by Roy Hodgson but as we’ve seen in this campaign and over the past couple of seasons, Zaha’s versatility allows him to operate anywhere across the midfield or front-line and his numbers as their talisman were quite commendable too.
Able to beat a man using a trick, Zaha’s creative thinking makes a massive threat in the final third, irrespective of whether he’s looking for the killer pass or to finish the move off. Since he’s usually dependable in front of goal, his conversion rate is fairly decent too.
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He offers a wide array of skills and the fact that he’s a season Premier League professional would only make the deal sweeter for whoever signs him.
At 26, this summer will be the right time for him to pursue bigger things and with a number of clubs lining up moves, he could be in for the most exciting summer of his life.
Huddersfield beating off competition to land this 6ft 2in giant would aid their promotion hopes next season
Huddersfield Town Opinion: Terriers should sign Mehdi Taremi this summer
Taremi, who currently plies his trade with Al-Gharafa in the Qatar Stars League, has also attracted interest from a host of other European clubs, Examiner Live understands.
The 26-year-old has been linked with moves to Serbian giants Red Star Belgrade, Ukrainian giants Dynamo Kyiv, Portuguese club Braga, as well as his former club Persepolis in Iran. (h/t Examiner Live)
The 6ft 2in tall centre-forward has carved out a massive reputation for himself over the years as one of the most prolific goalscorers in the Middle East and has drawn comparisons with Swedish striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic for resembling his style of play, which led to him being dubbed as the ‘Iranian Ibrahimovic’.
Huddersfield Town are preparing for a massive clear-out of players this summer after their relegation from the Premier League. The Terriers cannot afford to have such high-profile players on their books in the Championship and they will be forced to balance their books accordingly.
The likes of Laurent Depoitre, Isaac Mbenza, Erik Durm and Jonas Lossl are all out of contract in a month’s time.
Medhi Taremi hasn’t played in Europe before but at 26, the time might just be right for him to announce himself on the bigger stage. The Iranian international racked up a staggering 55 goals and 21 goals in 110 games for Persepolis before joining Al-Gharafa in January 2018.
He boasts of an equally impressive strike rate for Al-Gharafa in the Qatar League as well, having already racked up 17 goals and 9 assists in 37 appearances.
Taremi, who has 17 goals from 28 senior international caps for Iran, is widely regarded as one of the most lethal strikers in Asian football.
The 26-year-old uses his towering frame and muscle power to shield the ball and excels with his hold up play, often using short exchanges and clever touches to bring others into the game. He is very fast and agile for a player of his stature and has the killer instincts of an old-school centre-forward.
The Iranian not only controls the ball very well inside the box but he also has the ability to cause plenty of problems with his intelligent movement- often losing his marker to get his head to the ball and find the back of the net.
To add to that, he has a wonderful eye for goal and has earned plenty of plaudits over the course of his career for his clinical finishing with both feet and head.
To put things into perspective, Huddersfield can certainly do with a few additions to their attack in the summer.
Mehdi Taremi, though an unknown entity in Europe, has shown plenty of promise playing for some of the top Asian clubs and the player’s links with some Champions League-quality sides means that there is definitely something special in him.
Depoitre is out of contract in the summer but manager Jan Siewert should be happy to have the services of Karlan Grant to spearhead the attack in the Championship next season, with the youngster scoring 4 goals in the Premier League this term.
Steve Mounie hasn’t had the best of seasons but the Beninese international is also expected to be at the John Smith’s Stadium to lead the Terriers’ promotion push.
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Taremi can add that little bit more to their attack, and if he settles down well in English football, Huddersfield could probably have a gem on their hands. That said, they should beat off competition for the prolific Iranian this summer.
Leeds reviving their interest in this 23-year-old and signing him for £6m would be an absolute coup by Bielsa
Leeds United opinion: Whites should revive interest in Callum O’Dowda
Leeds Unitedhave been handed a massive boost in their pursuit of Bristol City winger Callum O’Dowda ahead of the summer transfer window, with the Times reporting that the 23-year-old Irishman wants a fresh start.
The Times understands that O’Dowda is unlikely to sign a new contract after being frozen out of the first-team at Ashton Gate in the latter stages of the campaign.
The winger hasn’t featured for Bristol City since early March despite having regained fitness from an injury and a number of Championship and Premier League clubs are keen to lure him away from the Robins.
O’Dowda is believed to be unhappy with the kind of treatment he has been given since his refusal to put pen to paper on a new deal and Leeds United might have something to look forward to in their pursuit of the highly-rated 23-year-old.
Back in January, Sky Sports linked the Republic of Ireland international with a move to Elland Road, with manager Marcelo Bielsa interested in securing the services of the versatile winger.
A move failed to materialize despite the player’s contract stand-off with his current club but O’Dowda looks sure to head for the exit door this time around.
The Times understands that Bristol City would be looking to sell Callum O’ Dowda for a fee of around £6million rather than risk losing him for free in a year’s time. The Whites are likely to change their stance in the transfer market after missing out on promotion to the Premier League.
Marcelo Bielsa’s side looked all set for a return to the top-flight for the first time in 15 years but a poor run of form over the Easter period followed by a dramatic 4-2 defeat against Derby Countyin the second leg of the playoff semi-finals ensured that the Yorkshire giants stayed in the Championship for yet another season.
As things stand, the best thing that the Whites can do is put all the disappointment behind them and start right from scratch once again next season, although it’s much easier said than done.
To put things into perspective, Leeds should be looking at some quality wide players in the summer transfer window to add more depth to their options down the flanks.
Man City loanee Jack Harrison is likely to return to his parent club, meaning that Bielsa would have the likes of Jack Clarke, Ezgjan Alioski and Pablo Hernandez as options out wide next season. And that is exactly why someone like Callum O’Dowda can add a lot of value to Leeds’s ranks this summer.
Jack Clarke enjoyed his breakthrough at Elland Road this past season and Leeds should be looking to use him a lot more next term but O’Dowda is a more established player and his playing style should suit Bielsa’s philosophy.
The Argentinian likes his wingers to run with drive, determination and directness to attack the opposition’s full-backs and the Irishman has all those attributes in abundance.
While essentially a left-sided player, O’Dowda is capable of playing on either side of the pitch and also in a central attacking role behind the striker.
His versatility should make him an exciting proposition for Leeds and the 23-year-old’s flair and trickery is likely to add that cutting edge to the team’s attack.
He racked up 4 goals and 4 assists from just 20 starts for Bristol City this season, which is enough evidence of his goalscoring and playmaking abilities as a wide player.
Still only 23, O’Dowda has plenty of time to make significant improvements to his game and working under an experienced manager like Bielsa should do a world of good for his development.
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That said, the Whites should make a renewed attempt to sign the Irishman this summer and they could possibly have a gem on their hands in the years to come should he go on to fulfil his potential.
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