Sheffield United should pursue a winter move for Yanic Wildschut
As per a report from The Sun (h/t The Star), EFL Championship promotion hopefuls Sheffield United are mulling over making a move for Norwich City winger Yanic Wildschut, who is currently on loan at Bolton Wanderers.
Following three back-t0-back wins against Derby County, Blackburn Rovers and Wigan Athletic during the busy festive period, Chris Wilder’s side has moved to the third place in the Championship standings. They are four points shy of leaders Leeds United and just two below second-placed Norwich City.
And with the prospect of automatic promotion staring at them, Blades’ boss Wilder is keen on strengthening his forces ahead of the second half of the campaign. To that end, the club seem to have identified Wildschut as someone who could help them achieve their goals over the next five months. (h/t The Star)
The 27-year-old winger is a product of the Ajax youth academy and has had spells at FC Zwolle, VVV Venlo, Heerenveen and ADO Den Haag in the Netherlands, before moving to England and joining Middlesbrough in the summer of 2014.
Having failed to make much of an impact with the Teessiders, Wildschut was loaned out to Wigan Athletic a year later. The Latics made the transfer a permanent one in January 2016, having been impressed by the Dutchman. Wildschut went on to make 65 appearances for Wigan, scoring 14 goals and setting up 19 more when Norwich snapped him up in a £4million deal in January 2017. (h/t The Star)
The winger managed just one goal from 9 matches in the second half of the 2016/17 term and found the back of the net just once again in the first half of the 2017/18 season (20 matches), prompting Norwich to send him out on loan to Cardiff City in January 2018. He featured 10 times for the Bluebirds but failed to net even a single goal even as they earned promotion to the Premier League.
Norwich loaned him out to Blackburn at the start of the ongoing campaign and the 27-year-old has once again failed to make an impact. So far in the 2018/19 season, Wildschut has featured 17 times across all competitions but has chipped in with just two goals, both of which came in August last year. He hasn’t made the matchday squad for Phil Parkinson’s side for the last four matches.
Given that Sheffield are aiming for automatic promotion, it doesn’t make sense for them to target a player who has failed to make any sort of impact in Championship football in the past couple of years or so. Apart from his spell at Wigan, Wildschut has failed to make a difference at all of his other clubs in England.
Moreover, given the 3-5-2 system that Wilder favours, it is hard to see where Wildschut would fit in since the Dutchman favours playing in the wide areas and isn’t well known for his defensive duties.
Sheffield United would be better off staying away from the Dutchman and instead pursuing other targets that could add more quality to their ranks as they go about chasing promotion.
Derby County have surely struck gold by triggering an extension in this veteran midfield maestro’s contract
Derby County Opinion: Tom Huddlestone’s extension can be a big boost
The same report adds that the 32-year-old had an extension clause in his contract which has been activated based on the number of appearances he has made for the Rams.
Huddlestone played 47 times in all competitions last season and he has already made a total of 26 appearances this term.
The veteran has found himself in and out of the first-team under Frank Lampard in the Championship but he has still managed 19 starts in the league this season.
Huddleston, now 32, made his senior debut for Derby County back in 2003 as a 16-year-old and joined Tottenham Hotspur in 2005 where he enjoyed his most fruitful spell as a player.
The Englishman returned to Pride Park in 2017 following extended spells at Spurs and Hull City and has made a total of 165 appearances for Derby over the course of two spells.
In all, Huddlestone boasts of a mammoth 548 senior competitive appearances for Spurs, Derby, Wolves and Hull over the course of his illustrious 16-year-long professional career, accumulating 26 goals and 49 assists.
The 4-cap English international has always been known as a robust, all-action and tough-tackling central midfielder with high levels of energy. However, it would be fair to say that age has taken a toll on his performances.
He is not quite the same engine that was capable of dominating the midfield with his energetic presence and well-rounded passing ability. The goals and assists have dried up for the veteran and he is nowhere near the player that he was in his youthful days.
Well, that’s not to say he is a bad player nowadays. Huddlestone has slowed down a bit and his reflexes aren’t quite the same anymore but he still has enough left in his tank to be a useful squad player for a promotion-chasing side in the Championship.
It is a long and hard slog for all the teams in the second tier, and given his age, he is unlikely to be handed a start in each and every game, but his experience of playing at the highest level is an invaluable asset to a team like Derby County.
Moreover, he is still a good passer of the ball, knows how to use possession to good effect and has a penchant for scoring goals from range.
There is another reason, though, why the news regarding Huddlestone’s contract extension is bound to please the fans at Pride Park. The Rams look set to lose the services of Craig Bryson at the end of the season, with Rangers, Kilmarnock and Hearts all weighing up moves for the out-of-contract midfielder.
Undoubtedly, losing two experienced players in the same position simultaneously would have been a huge blow for Derby and they do not have good enough alternatives to fill the void.
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Bryson’s departure might just see Huddlestone enjoy more first-team involvement next season and it is quite easy to figure out why the fans should be happy to see their former academy product prolong his stay for another season.
Norwich City would pull off a masterstroke by signing 10-goal wing wizard to add cohesion to the final third
Norwich City Opinion: Farke should sign Georgios Masouras in the summer
Masouras moved to Olympiacos from domestic rivals Panionios in January but the 25-year-old’s red-hot form has put him on the radar of the Canaries.
The once-capped Greek international has registered 10 goals and 2 assists from 27 appearances in all competitions for Panionios and Olympiacos combined.
Norwich are currently flying high in the Championship under Daniel Farke, with the Canaries sitting four points clear of Sheffield United and five clear of third-placed Leeds United atop the standings.
They have been in terrific form in recent weeks and are right on course to making a much-anticipated return to the Premier League.
Farke has been instrumental in changing Norwich’s fortunes in the second tier, with the former manager of Dortmund’s reserves bringing in a string of little-known players like Emi Buendia, Teemu Pukki and Marco Stiepermann to Carrow Road.
All of them have been a raging success in the Championship and Georgios Masouras might just turn out to be the next in the list.
Essentially a left-winger by trade, Masouras has been used to good effect on either flank due to his ability to score goals and pick out passes with both feet.
A technically-gifted creative ace, the Greek international can also play as a false nine owing to his flair and quality on the ball, whilst his tactical intelligence makes him a more complete package.
He has a good first touch and a nice turn of pace, likes to take defenders on with his dribbling skills, uses his awareness to run into goal scoring positions and takes his chances more often than not.
To put things into perspective, Masouras might be an unproven talent at the highest level but he is certainly a promising young player whose stocks are on the rise after his good run of form this season.
The Canaries aren’t really short of attacking options but they certainly need to add more depth to their squad to thrive in the Premier League next term.
Teemu Pukki has spearheaded Norwich’s promotion surge in the Championship this season while Emiliano Buendia on the right and Onel Hernández on the left have also played a crucial role in their campaign.
Although Farke hasn’t been hesitant to call upon the services of breakout star Todd Cantwell at times, the Canaries need to bring in at least another versatile attacking midfielder to increase competition for places.
Masouras certainly fits the bill to thrive in Farke’s attacking philosophy, and although the 25-year-old might take some time to adapt to English football, he is a quality player who is capable of making an impact and Norwich should have high expectations of him.
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They have benefitted from investing in unknown talents in the recent past and there is no reason why they should think twice about striking a deal for the Greek ace.
Leeds signing this 20-time capped Uruguayan would be Bielsa’s best bet for solving midfield woes – Agreed?
Leeds United Opinion: Bielsa should go all out to sign Nahitan Nandez
According to claims from Italian outlet Tuttomercatoweb, Leeds United are in the race to sign Uruguayan midfielder Nahitan Nandez from Boca Juniors in the summer, although the Peacocks would need to secure promotion to lure a player of his calibre to Elland Road.
The same report claims that Leeds are likely to face competition from Serie A clubs Fiorentina, Sampdoria and Cagliari for the midfield’s signature.
A youth product of famous Uruguayan club Penarol, Nandez rose to prominence with his boyhood club before being snapped up by Argentine giants Boca Juniors.
He hasn’t looked back since then and has established himself as one of South America’s brightest young talents, accumulating 6 goals and 4 assists from 48 appearances for Boca in all competitions.
Another of Uruguay’s current generation of rising midfield stars comprising of the likes of Lucas Torreira, Giorgian de Arrascaeta, Rodrigo Bentancur and Federico Valverde, Nahitan Nandez earned his ticket to the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia as a part of Oscar Tabarez’s 23-man squad and impressed with his energetic displays in the midfield.
The 23-year-old already has 20 senior international caps for Uruguay without playing in Europe, which shows that he is an immensely talented player who is capable of making an impact on the big stage.
Standing at 5ft. 7 inches with a stocky frame, Nandez is not the tallest player on the pitch but he makes up for it with his appreciable upper body strength, drive, determination and tough-tackling nature.
Known for his wonderful range of passing and ability to dictate the tempo of the game, the Uruguayan is essentially a defensive midfielder who excels with his sound positional sense and a good understanding of the game.
Blessed with high levels of energy, Nandez is adept at closing down the spaces in the midfield by pressing the opposition off the ball, often breaking up the play with crucial tackles and interceptions.
The 23-year-old, though primarily a defensive midfielder, also has the ability to play in a box-to-box role, owing to his uncompromised work-rate.
Deceptive with his pace and quick on the ball, Nandez not only has the ability to improve cohesiveness in the middle of the park but he is also adept at initiating counter-attacks after winning the ball back.
Furthermore, he has a penchant for playing intelligent passes and also boasts of a powerful shot from range.
To put things into perspective, landing a player of his calibre would definitely be a massive coup for Leeds. Nandez is only going to get better with time and it would be fair to say that he is an underrated version of Lucas Torreira.
The Peacocks need to bring in some quality players should they manage to secure promotion to the Premier League and Nandez certainly fits the bill.
Marcelo Bielsa has relied upon Kalvin Phillips to play as the defensive midfielder in his preferred 4-1-4-1 formation, whilst also using Adam Forshaw in that role when Phillips was forced to fill in the gap at the heart of the defence due to injuries to the regular centre-backs.
Both Phillips and Forshaw are robust midfielders who are more than capable of making the step up to the Premier League but someone like Nandez would be an upgrade on Leeds’ existing options.
Leeds have slipped down from the automatic promotion places after a 1-0 defeat at the hands of rivals Sheffield United but one would expect the sleeping Yorkshire giants to make it back to the top flight after a long absence.
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The Uruguayan’s acquisition would boost Leeds’ chances of surviving in the Premier League significantly and they should not hesitate to go all out in their pursuit of the midfield enforcer in the summer.
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