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Go for it Bielsa – Here is why Leeds should beat West Brom to sign this 22-time capped Greek No. 10



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Leeds United should hijack West Brom’s move for Petros Mantalos

According to Birmingham Mail, West Brom are ready to pursue an interest in AEK Athens midfielder Petros Mantalos in the January transfer window.

The Baggies were keen to secure a deal for the 29-year Greek international in the summer but a move fell through. (h/t Birmingham Mail)

Darren Moore’a side are currently 4th in the Championship standings with 46 points from 26 games, three points adrift of Norwich City for the automatic promotion spot. It is a no-brainer that reigniting interest in Mantalos is a clear statement of intent by the Baggies, with the race for promotion set to go down to the wire in the second half of the season.

A youth product of Greek club Skoda Xanthi, Petros Mantalos played for his boyhood club from 2009 to 2014 before making a switch to giants AEK Athens. He hasn’t looked back since then, accumulating 30 goals and 40 assists from 142 appearances for Athens across all competitions.

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Mantalos, who has 22 caps for Greece at the senior international level, is primarily a central attacking midfielder by trade but he has also been used on left in the attacking third. Predominantly a right-footed creative ace, Mantalos is well-known in Greece for his stunning free-kicks and pinpoint deliveries from set-pieces.

Standing at just a shade over 5 ft. 9 inches, Mantalos has the advantage of a low centre-of-gravity which allows his to keep good close control and perfect body balance. He is not lightning quick but he is quite sharp and agile and has a good turn of pace to beat the defenders. The 29-year-old is also known for his movement off the ball in the final third and he has the vision to set up goals for his teammates with inch-perfect through balls.

To put things into perspective, Leeds United can bag a massive coup of they can somehow hijack West Brom’s move for Petros Mantalos. The Peacocks are currently top of the table in the Championship and Marcelo Bielsa’s side have a golden chance of ending their drought of much-awaited promotion to the top flight.

Leeds have had a great campaign so far but they still have plenty to play for in the second half of the season, with Norwich City, Sheffield United and West Brom all within striking distance of securing automatic promotion.

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Leeds virtually have all their bases covered heading into the second half of the season but the Peacocks need to sign a replacement for Samuel Saiz, who has departed Elland Road to join La Liga side Getafe. Saiz was the team’s main creative ace in the midfield and his departure has left a huge void in the middle of the park. Jack Harrison is a better player down the right while Chelsea loanee Lewis Baker has had a horrible season so far.

Read More:- Leeds should not hesitate to allow this promising 22-year-old to go out on loan in Scotland amidst bleak chances of first-team football at Elland Road

Someone like Petros Mantalos has all the attributes to be a perfect fit in the No.10 position at Leeds. The 29-year-old has the experience of playing in the Champions League and he can definitely help the Peacocks in their bid for automatic promotion. That said, they should take the first step and open negotiations with the Greek international over a potential move in January.


Top 5 Foreign Players in South-East Asia



One of the last tapped frontiers of world football, the quality of football has slowly been improving in South-East Asia. Clubs from Malaysia and Thailand are increasingly making an impact on the continent’s biggest stages, while the Vietnamese national team made major strides in elevating the region’s standing after a truly impressive showing over the past few months. Here is a look at the top five foreign players who are currently featuring for clubs in the region.

5 – Dragan Boskovic (Port FC, Thai League)

Port FC’s Montenegrin striker Dragan Boskovic has become a legend in Thai football. Before signing for his current club, Boskovic scored a staggering 38 goals from just 33 appearances for Bangkok United back in 2017. That phenomenal campaign saw him break the record for the most goals scored in a single season in the Thai League, earning him a strike rate which amounted to a goal every 78 minutes. Now at the age of 33, the forward is still going strong. After netting 21 goals in his first season with Port, the Montenegrin hopes to play a talismanic role in his club’s search for silverware this season.

4 – Dickson Nwakaeme (Pahang FA, Malaysian Super League)

Nwakaeme started his career in Malaysia with Kelantan back in 2013, spending one season for the club before moving to Pahang FA. With The Elephants, he won both the FA Cup and Malaysian Cup, in an impressive campaign which saw him earn a move to French side Angers SCO. However, his stint in Ligue 1 proved to be unsuccessful, and he returned to Pahang this season. Being one of the best foreign players in Malaysian Super League history, he is known as “Orang Besi,” or “Iron Man” due to his physique and excellent ball control that enables him to dribble beyond 3 to 4 players at the same time.

3 – Andres Tunez (Buriram United, Thai League)

The 32 year old former Venezuela international is now entering his sixth season with Thai League Champions Buriram United, adding to a spell which has seen him reach unprecedented levels of success. Considered one of the best defenders to ever take the pitch in Thailand, Tunez has won four Thai League titles, and a total of ten major honors during his time in Thailand. He was signed to Spanish club Elche on loan in 2017, only to return to Buriram in time for the second half of the domestic season. Upon his return, the Venezuelan managed to re-galvanize the Thunder Castle’s defense, as they conceded only six goals from their remaining 17 games to win the title with a record points total.

2 – Heberty Fernandes (Muangthong United, Thai League)

Brazilian striker Heberty Fernandes is another player who has been around the block in East Asian football for a considerable span of time. The journeyman first arrived in the Far East when he signed for Japanese side Thespa Kusatsu back in 2012. Spells with J1 clubs Cerezo Osaka and Vegalta Sendai followed, before his move to Thailand’s Ratchaburi FC in 2014. Upon his arrival, the Brazilian immediately transformed the newly promoted mid-table team into one of the fiercest attacking outfits in the division, netting 26 goals in his debut campaign.

He would eventually leave the Dragons for Saudi Arabian side Al Shabab in 2016, having netted 65 goals from 90 Thai League appearances over the course of three seasons. However, his spell in the Gulf State was brief, and soon he was back in the Land of Smiles with four-time Thai League champions Muangthong United. Since his arrival, the now 30-year-old has been far and away the Kirins best player, consistently putting in delightful performances while showing no sign of letting up any time soon.

1 – Diogo Luis Santo (Johor Darul Ta’zim, Malaysian Super League)

Very few supporters of South-East Asian football will argue against this pick. Diogo Luis Santo has arguably been the best player to ever feature in the Thai domestic league, elevating himself to a legendary status during his four seasons with Buriram. By far the deadliest and most consistent attacker in the division, Diogo managed 101 goals from 105 appearances during his time with the Thunder Castle. The Brazilian has effectively been decisive in every full campaign he featured in, as he only season Buriram failed to win the title since he has been on the books was back in 2014, when he missed the majority of the season due to injury. Before his time in Thailand, Diogo came through the ranks at Olympiacos, and was even a target of the mighty Arsenal when he was 16 years old.

The Brazilian goalscorer shocked Thai football during the most recent transfer window, opting to leave Buriram in order to sign for Malaysian Champions Johor Darul Ta’zim. The Southern Tigers were investing heavily in their squad ahead of their inaugural AFC Champions League campaign, and were determined to build their team round the region’s best player.

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By Gian Chansrichawla

Football Tribe South-East Asia Editor

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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 Llorente.

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 potential and if Pochettino can convince Gomez to join Tottenham, the north London outfit would get a top replacement for Llorente.

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.

Read more Tottenham news, click here: Tottenham latest news

To convince Espanyol to sell their prized asset after just one season, Tottenham have to spend really big in the summer.

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Derby County

Derby County have surely struck gold by triggering an extension in this veteran midfield maestro’s contract



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Derby County Opinion: Tom Huddlestone’s extension can be a big boost

According to BBC Sports, Derby County midfielder Tom Huddlestone has triggered an extension to his current contract which will now run until the end of the 2019-20 campaign.

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.

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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.

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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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To Read More Derby County News, Click Here:- Latest Derby County News

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.

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