Thiago Mendes would be a fantastic signing for Southampton
A product of Brazilian club Goias, Mendes played for his boyhood club from 2010 to 2014 before joining giants Sao Paulo in 2015. After tasting commendable success in the Brazilian Serie A, Mendes made his way to Europe at the start of last season with Ligue 1 outfit Lille.
The 26-year-old established himself as a regular in the first-team in his debut season, accumulating 3 goals and 4 assists from 27 starts in the Ligue 1. He has been in fine form this term as well, earning two man-of-the-match distinctions from 17 outings I the French top flight.
Standing at 5ft. 9 inches with a stocky frame, Mendes is not capable of beating his offensive counterparts to the aerial balls but he makes up for it with his technical abilities, drive, tenacity and flawless passing. The Brazilian has a good range of passing and can dictate the tempo of the game in the middle of the park, operating as the main distribution point in the midfield.
The 26-year-old is also known for his ability to win possession back for his team, breaking up the play with crucial tackles and interceptions. He has the vision to switch the play and change the point of the attack, thus providing the vital link between the defence and the attack.
Mendes has averaged 55.5 passes per game with an accuracy percentage of 83, including 2.2 key passes, 2.5 long balls and 1.9 crosses per game in the Ligue 1 this term.
To put things into perspective, he would be an ideal buy for Southampton, with the Saints in dire need to new faces to resurrect their lacklustre Premier League campaign.
Ralph Hasenhuttl has changed the complexion of the team to some extent after taking over the reins from Mark Hughes. A few positive results in recent weeks have given the Saints a chance of avoiding the drop but they need to dip into the transfer market to find players who can help them in their bid for survival.
Although Southampton need a striker and a creative midfielder to score more goals, they should not neglect a player like Thiago Mendes as he has all the attributes to add stability to the centre of the park.
Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg and Mario Lemina have done quite well in central midfield this season, however, Lemina’s lack of defensive awareness has been exposed time and again. On the other hand, someone like Mendes would also be an upgrade on Oriol Romeu, who hasn’t really hit the ground running this term.
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That said, the Saints should go all out to sign him in January as he might turn out to be a good long-term servant at St. Mary’s.
Tottenham’s best bet for replacing this outbound No. 9 would be to sign any of these two goalscoring aces
Tottenham Opinion: 2 Fernando Llorente replacements Spurs should look at
Athletic Bilbao president Aitor Elizegi has told reporters that Tottenham striker Fernando Llorente is an option for the club when the Spaniard’s contract expires this summer.
Fernando Llorente, 34, has had an underwhelming time with Tottenham over the past two seasons. He joined Spurs from Swansea City in the summer of 2017 and has made 54 appearances since then in all competitions, scoring just 12 goals for the club.
But since arriving in north London, the giant Spaniard has been a back-up option to Harry Kane and as a result, Llorente has found opportunities very tough to come by.
The 34-year-old, however, has netted some vital goals for Tottenham and been a productive striker in recent weeks but as Kane has returned from an ankle injury, he could again find himself on the periphery.
Llorente’s contract expires this summer and a move back to Spain to join his former club Athletic Bilbao might just be ideal to revive his fading career. As far as Tottenham are concerned, Pochettino can definitely find a better back-up option for Kane by letting go of
That being said, here are two Llorente replacements Spurs should consider when the transfer window re-opens.
1. Maxi Gomez (Celta Vigo)
Maxi Gomez scored a sensational 17 goals in La Liga last season, his first in European football. But with Celta Vigo in the relegation zone, Gomez has netted just once in his last 11.
If Celta end up getting relegated, Tottenham could find it easy to prise the Uruguayan away from La Liga to north London. The 22-year-old has been one of the few shining lights in a tough season for the Spanish side.
Gomez is a powerful, quick and athletic centre-forward, who excels with his link-up play and movement in the final third. The Uruguayan is also a clinical finisher in front of goal, whilst being aerially efficient in the box.
He has a lot of
2. Borja Iglesias (Espanyol)
Borja Iglesias has taken La Liga like a duck to water after banging 22 goals in the Spanish second-tier with Real Zaragoza last season. He has been in impressive form for Espanyol in the La Liga, scoring 11 goals thus far.
Given his goal-scoring exploits, Tottenham should definitely consider moving for Iglesias as he could be a great alternative option to their mercurial Kane. Iglesias is a powerful centre-forward, who’ll add a different dimension to Tottenham’s attack with his hold-up play and aerial presence in the box.
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To convince Espanyol to sell their prized asset after just one season, Tottenham have to spend really big in the summer.
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.
Crystal Palace signing this £14m West Brom ace would be an absolute steal for Hodgson and here is why
Crystal Palace Opinion: Eagles should sign Oliver Burke in the summer
According to the Daily Record, Crystal Palace are interested in signing Celtic loanee Oliver Burke in the summer, with the Eagles’ Scottish Sporting Director Dougie Freedman reportedly an admirer of the 21-year-old attacker.
The same report claims that Celtic also want to turn Burke’s loan spell into a permanent deal but the Hoops will face stiff competition from Roy Hodgson’s side.
A product of Nottingham Forest’s youth system, Burke made a big-money move to the Bundesliga with RB Leipzig but he returned to English football with West Brom in the summer of 2017 for a fee of £14 million.
He was tipped for big things at West Brom but the 21-year-old was neglected significantly by former manager Darren Moore prior to his January loan switch to Parkhead.
Burke managed just three substitute appearances for the Baggies in the Championship this term but he has rejuvenated himself at Celtic since the turn of the year, scoring 5 goals in 14 outings for Neil Lennon’s side. His change of fortune and red-hot form have urged Celtic to sign him permanently at the end of the season and now Palace have also entered the race to land the Scottish starlet.
Essentially a right-winger by trade, Burke is also capable of playing out wide on the left and through the centre. Predominantly a right-footed player who is noted for his pace, power, acceleration and flair on the ball, Burke has an intricate first touch and wonderful ball control which allow him to keep the ball at his feet and run at his opposite number.
When deployed on the left as an inverted winger, Burke likes to cut inside with his stronger right foot, either picking out the right pass for his teammates or having a crack on goal himself. The Scotsman, though a bit raw and rough-edged, looks like a very flamboyant player when he plays with conviction.
To put things into perspective, Crystal Palace should go all out to sign the Scottish prodigy in the summer to bolster their forward line. Hodgson is a hugely experienced manager who knows how to extract the best out of the young players and Burke should be able to take his game to a new level under his tutelage.
Palace’s struggle for goals in the Premier League this season has been quite apparent, and although they have the likes of Wilfred Zaha and Andros Townsend as regular faces down the wide areas, Burke’s versatility to play on either flank and also as a striker up front should make him a useful addition to the squad. Given that Hodgson has often preferred a 4-4-2 or a 4-3-3 system, Burke would also provide competition for the likes of Jeffrey Schlupp, James McArthur and Max Meyer in the midfield.
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Still very much in the developmental phase of his career, Burke is not quite the finished article but he has enough raw talent to develop into a future star. Working with Roy Hodgson in the Premier League should appeal to the player and there is no reason why Palace shouldn’t go forward with the deal.
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