Manchester City should go ahead and sign Paulo Dybala
As per a report from The Sun, reigning Premier League champions Manchester City maintain a strong interest in signing Juventus and Argentina forward Paulo Dybala.
The 25-year-old has established himself as one of the finest attacking players across Europe in recent years, which has led to interest in him from a number of big clubs. In fact, it is believed that Real Madrid are lining up a £90 million move for Dybala in the summer, emerging as a serious threat to City’s hopes of landing the attacker. (h/t The Sun)
Having started out at Instituto AC Cordoba back in his homeland of Argentina, Dybala moved to Europe in 2012, joining Serie A outfit Palermo. In three years with the club, the 25-year-old made 93 appearances, scoring 21 goals and setting up 16 more before Juventus came calling in the summer of 2015.
Since moving to Turin, Dybala has been sensational, scoring a staggering 75 goals from 165 matches across all competitions, while setting up 29 more. The Argentine forward has won three Serie A titles, three Coppa Italia and two Italian Super Cups.
The ongoing campaign has been a bit of a difficult one for the 25-year-old as he has found himself playing second fiddle to summer arrival Cristiano Ronaldo. So far this term, Dybala has managed to score seven goals and set up four more from 25 matches (21 starts) across all competitions.
Manchester City have one of the most star-studded attacking line-ups across Europe. With Sergio Aguero and Gabriel Jesus as the strikers, the Cityzens have plenty of firepower from the wings with Raheem Sterling, Leroy Sane, Bernardo Silva along with summer arrival Riyad Mahrez.
The reigning Premier League champions became the first team across Europe’s top five leagues to reach the 100-goal mark for the season. Given how potent their attack has been in the past couple of seasons, one wouldn’t think that Pep Guardiola’s side needs any more additions to the frontline.
However, with City aiming to establish their dominion in England and on the continental stages, they should look to improve their squad further and adding Dybala to the ranks would do just that.
Despite the 25-year-old’s slow season so far, there is no questioning the talents and the quality he possesses. Given his ability to play in a multitude of roles in the attack, he will provide quality depth at Guardiola’s disposal. And with Aguero not getting any younger, Dybala will be ready to take over from his fellow countryman when the former Atletico Madrid man decides to move on or becomes dispensable to the City side.
City will certainly have other priorities for now, with a defensive midfielder needed as cover for Fernandinho, while another left-back wouldn’t go amiss. But, should the opportunity to sign Dybala present, they should try their best to land the 25-year-old, as his signing has the capability to turn them into world beaters.
5 of the biggest upsets in the 2018/19 season of the Premier League
2018-19 Premier League rewind: A look back at the 5 of the biggest upsets
There was hardly any shortage of drama, excitement and hype in the 2018-19 season of the Premier League, with some mesmerizing individual performances, sheer moments of magic, edge-of-the-seat thrillers and a see-saw title race producing yet another enthralling season of football.
As a matter of fact, it was goals galore all throughout the campaign, as the grand total of 1072 goals made the 2018-19 season the most prolific ever in the history of the Premier League.
In the end, Man City successfully managed to defend their Premier League title, as Pep Guardiola’s side broke Liverpool’s hearts and ensured that the Reds’ pursuit of a first domestic title since 1990 ultimately ended in failure.
The final day of the campaign ended in ecstasy for the fans at Etihad, while those at Anfield would have felt the pain of falling short by a solitary point despite a valiant effort from their team.
We all know that the Premier League is famous for producing plenty of thrills and spills, which is probably the reason why it is widely acclaimed as the most competitive league in the world.
When we speak about competition, it is expected that the league would also have a touch of unpredictability to it.
The 2018/19 season, indeed, produced some massive upsets, where the lesser teams defied the odds and took everybody by surprise to shock the heavyweights operating in the upper reaches of the competition.
Surprisingly, winners Man City were also at the receiving end of three such upsets; one each at the hands of Leicester City, Crystal Palace and Newcastle United.
It is true that we have a definitive top-six in the Premier League these days but we witnessed last season that the mid-table teams and even the relegation-threatened sides are more than capable of pulling off surprises on their day. With that in mind, let us revisit those instances when teams defied belief to register the unlikeliest of victories.
1. Leicester City vs Man City- Boxing Day
Leicester City were enduring a rather inconsistent campaign under Claude Puel but the Foxes came into the game high on confidence following a 1-0 victory over Chelsea in their previous outing.
Man City, on the other hand, arrived at the King Power Stadium on the back of a shock 3-2 defeat at the hands of Crystal Palace at home, although Pep Guardiola’s side were the outright favourites to claim all three points against Leicester.
Unsurprisingly, Leicester defended in numbers and got bodies behind the ball as Man City stamped their authority in the opening quarter of the game.
It didn’t take long for them to open the scoring though, as Sergio Aguero played Bernardo Silva behind the Foxes’ backline to set up the Portuguese for an easy finish.
However, Leicester responded within just four minutes, as Jamie Vardy’s cross found the run of Marcus Albrighton, who outsmarted Fabian Delph with his clever movement and beat Ederson to score the equaliser. Well, you cannot keep Jamie Vardy out of the action, can you?
Aguero lost his footing numerous times in the final third quite uncharacteristically and Man City failed to score the winner despite enjoying a lot of possession. James Maddison and Hamza Choudhury called Ederson into action a few times but the scores stayed level until the very end.
Some late drama saw Ricardo Pereira fire home a pile driver from just inside the edge of the box to hand Leicester a 2-1 advantage before Man City’s Fabian Delph received the marching orders from the referee.
The game was an eye-opener to all the fans who would have thought that Man City’s loss against Palace was a mere bad day at the office.
2. Man City vs Crystal Palace – 22nd December
Man City had only lost a single game in the Premier League season, which was against Chelsea, when they played host to Crystal Palace at the Etihad on 22nd December and with Roy Hodgson’s side struggling in the lower reaches of the table, the Citizens were the clear favourites.
Pep Guardiola’s side kept Palace under the cosh in the opening stages of the game and Fabian Delph’s cross was headed in by Ilkay Gundogan, who gave City the lead in the 27th minute.
Palace, however, found an instant reply as Wilfried Zaha’s dazzling run followed by McArthur’s clever pass allowed Jeffrey Schlupp to equalise with a clinical finish.
The match turned out to be closer than expected and a moment of sheer brilliance from Andros Townsend turned the game in Palace’s favour. The former Spurs man put his magical left foot through the ball from a long way outside the box but his thunderous effort evaded the fingertips of Ederson, thus putting Palace 2-1 up before half-time.
Townsend hit the post early in the second half and Max Meyer, in an attempt to score from the rebound, was brought down inside the box by a reckless challenge from Kyle Walker, prompting referee Andre Marriner to point to the penalty spot. Luka Milivojevic buried the penalty kick to give Palace an unlikely 3-1 lead.
De Bruyne made it 3-2 with a cross that luckily sailed over the head of Guaita and Leroy Sane hit the post later on but the Eagles did enough to hold on to their lead for a famous win.
3. Wolves vs Chelsea – 6th December
Premier League newcomers Wolves impressed one and all with their character and resilience but as a matter of fact, Nuno Espirito Santo’s side were going through a patchy period when they played host to Chelsea on 6th December.
Wolves came into the game on the back of miserable defeats at the hands of Cardiff City and Huddersfield Town, and the Black Country outfit were under pressure to justify that their flying start to the campaign wasn’t a mere flash in the pan.
Things didn’t go according to plan for Wolves though, as Ruben Loftus-Cheek’s powerful effort from 25 yards was headed into his own net by home captain Conor Coady just 18 minutes into the game.
Both teams failed to produce anything spectacular in the first half but Chelsea went into the interval with a 1-0 lead.
However, Wolves staged a remarkable comeback following the restart, as two quick goals from Diogo Jota and Raul Jimenez in the space of just four minutes proved to be the turning point in the clash.
Wolves ultimately won the game 2-1 and Nuno Santo’s lion-hearted warriors went on to register impressive victories over the likes of Man United, Spurs and Liverpool thereafter.
4. Newcastle United vs Man City – 31st January
Pep Guardiola sat in the dugout for his 100th Premier League game, as Newcastle United played host to defending champions Man City towards the end of January.
With Man City and Liverpool going hammer and tongs at each other in a bid to get the upper hand in the title race, this was always going to be a must-win game for the Citizens and they were the definitely the strong favourites against Rafael Benitez’s unit.
And it looked like the travelling fans were in for an absolute feast when Sergio Aguero put the visitors 1-0 ahead just 24 seconds into the game. City dictated the play in the first half and they could have had the second goal just at the stroke of the interval, only for David Silva’s attempt to be blocked by Florian Lejeune.
Man City upped the ante after the restart and Martin Dubravka was called into action numerous times early in the second half, as Sterling, Sane and David Silva all had attempts on goal.
However, in a twist of fate, Newcastle made City pay for their missed chances and equalised in the 66th minute. Salomon Rondon got in front of John Stones and volleyed it straight into the net after a bit of a scramble in the final third.
City went all out in pursuit of the winner but it was Newcastle who had the last laugh and pulled off a massive upset.
Fernandinho’s challenge on Sean Longstaff was deemed worthy of a penalty and Matt Ritchie stepped up to send Ederson the wrong way, thus making it 2-1 with just 10 minutes left to play. The 2-1 victory meant that Newcastle registered their first victory over Man City in the Premier League since 2005.
5. Man United vs Cardiff City – 12th May
Man United thrashed Cardiff City 5-1 in December in what was Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s first game in charge as the caretaker manager of the Red Devils. However, the tides turned dramatically when an already-relegated Cardiff City travelled to Old Trafford to take on United in the final game of the campaign.
Marcus Rashford missed a couple of promising chances and Neil Warnock’s side drew first blood. Diogo Dalot’s rather tame looking challenge on Nathaniel Mendez-Laing was deemed worthy of a penalty by referee Jonathan Moss for some unknown reason and Mendez-Laing stepped up to make it 1-0 from the spot.
United continued to miss chances and Mason Greenwood saw his shot get tipped on to the post by Neil Etheridge.
Things turned from bad to worse in the second half for United when Josh Murphy picked out Mendez-Laing’s run at the far post with an accurate cross following a dazzling run, and Cardiff took a 2-0 lead.
It didn’t turn out to be a happy outing for Solskjer against his old club, although the Bluebirds ended their campaign on a high. Cardiff City registered their first victory over Man United since 1960 and first at Old Trafford since 1954.
2 Instances which prove that money in the Premier League flows like water these days
Leicester spend £30m on Ayoze Perez – Other instances which show that money in the PL flows like water these days
The 2019 summer transfer window is already in full swing and as the deadline day in August draws closer, the excitement only gets bigger.
This might be the off-season in club football in Europe but the massive amount of money involved in the transfer dealings certainly evoke a lot of excitement amongst the fans.
It is a no-brainer that football is no longer a poor man’s game and as a matter of fact, the abundance of cash involved in transfer dealings nowadays often looks crazy to a layman’s eyes.
Things were hardly the same 20 years ago when a fee of £4-5million was considered as a fortune but now, with the involvement of several multi-billion dollar business groups in the game, that kind of money is nothing more than a mere drop in the ocean.
To say that the involvement of large amounts of money in football has changed the complexion of the game over the years, particularly since the turn of the century, would be an understatement.
Realistically, it has completely transformed the fortune of the beautiful game, both in a negative as well as in a positive sense, with even the lesser clubs in the top-five leagues of Europe not hesitating to fork out millions to bring in top talents from across the world.
Indeed, the involvement of finances in football has escalated exponentially over the years and that has certainly had a profound impact on the level of competition.
As far as the hype surrounding the 2019 summer window is concerned, the likes of Man City and Spurs have broken their transfer records with the big-money acquisitions of Rodri and Tanguy Ndombele respectively for
£62.8million and £60million, while Man United have also spent big to sign Aaron Wan-Bissaka from Cyrstal Palace.
Agreed, the transfer fee involved in each negotiation depends on a number of factors, ranging from the player’s potential, profile, past records, injury-related issues and so on.
However, leaving aside the top-six in the Premier League, Leicester City have made eyeballs turn with the £30million signing of Ayoze Perez from Newcastle United, which does justify the fact that the Premier League sides are spendthrift these days.
With all due respect to Perez’s achievements at Newcastle, one cannot help but wonder if Leicester have paid over the odds to bring the Spaniard to the club this summer.
A strike rate of 48 goals in 195 games, considering that the player came in as a rookie from the Spanish second-tier five years ago, looks pretty decent on paper, but the Foxes’ decision to fork out £30million looks quite outrageous.
We have all seen over the years that there is nothing so special about Ayoze Perez, and not denying the fact that he is a decent enough Premier League forward, a fee in the region of £15-20million would have applied a touch of logic to the move.
Having spent a paltry £1.5million to bring Perez to the Premier League five years ago, Newcastle have made a huge profit of £28.5m from the Spaniard’s sale to Leicester, more than 20 times the money they had originally invested in him. These numbers are beyond belief.
That, however, isn’t the only instance of some insane flow of cash in modern-day football, with Atletico Madrid shelling out £113million to complete a deal for the 19-year-old Joao Felix from Benfica this summer.
It is totally understandable that he is regarded as once-in-a-generation sort of talent but he is still only 19 and has been around in senior football for not more than a season.
Compare that to the thrifty amount Man United had spent to bring Cristiano Ronaldo to the Premier League from Sporting Lisbon back in 2003 and the difference is telling.
Whether or not this bubble is going to burst somewhere down the line is a topic that can be put up for debate, however, let us take a look at a few instances in the Premier League this summer which do justice to the statement that money is, indeed, crazy.
1. Man United signing Aaron Wan-Bissaka for £50 million
Wan-Bissaka was always going to be a hot property in the summer transfer window following his consistently impressive performances at Crystal Palace in the Premier League this past season.
The 21-year-old right-back was clearly a hot property and it is Man United who have got hold of the Eagles graduate.
We all saw how he outperformed some of the more established right-backs in the Premier League last season and few would dare to argue against his talent and potential.
However, spending £50million on a player with the experience of just a single top-flight season under his belt can be regarded as completely outrageous.
Yes, Man United desperately needed a new right-back and that was probably the main reason why they paid over the odds to get their hands on Wan-Bissaka. The fact is that he is not yet an England international.
2. Marcus Rashford signing a new
With 13 goals in all competitions last season, Marcus Rashford showed exactly why he is held in such high regard by the Old Trafford hierarchy.
The 21-year-old struggled to hit great heights under Jose Mourinho but he rediscovered his mojo under Solskjaer and scored some crucial goals for the Red Devils, especially towards the end of the campaign.
Rashford is one of the highly-rated burgeoning young talents in the Premier League but he has been in that bracket for two or three seasons now, without taking significant steps towards fulfilling his potential.
That has a lot to do with the managerial instability at Old Trafford following Sir Alex Ferguson’s departure, however, one cannot help but wonder as to why United increased their wage bill with extortionate wages.
With all due respect to his talent and potential, Rashford is still very much in the developmental phase of his career and is not a sure starter for the club in the Premier League week in week out, which means that offering massive wages to the 21-year-old hardly makes sense.
Given United’s heritage and reputation in English football, it is a shame that they are having to bribe players with such insane wages to keep them at the club.
5 instances in the PL last season where referees robbed the teams of some valuable points
5 instances in the PL last season where referees robbed the teams of some valuable points
The 2018-19 season of the Premier League witnessed some horrendous blunders from the referees, as sub-standard officiating continued to tarnish the image of English football.
Several incorrect calls made by the referees and the linesmen last season has strengthened claims that VAR is the need of the hour.
Surprisingly, these refereeing blunders not only took place in the games involving bottom-table teams but the officiating in the fixtures involving title-contending sides also raised a lot of eyebrows.
The VAR is going to be used in the Premier League from the upcoming season. While that might bring some solace to the fans, it has been seen in the recent past that technology can never be deemed as a complete foolproof.
It is true that the introduction of the VAR in the Premier League would go a long way towards eliminating the blatant errors but in all honesty, the standard of officiating needs to improve significantly in order to bring justice to the reputation of the Premier League being the most competitive league in Europe.
As a matter of fact, some of the incorrect calls made by the referees could have had far-reaching implications as far as the two-way title race between Manchester City and Liverpool was concerned.
With all due respect to whatever Liverpool achieved in the Premier League this past season, it is worth mentioning over here that the Reds got a fair share of some of the 50-50 decisions in their favour, while a few others should never have gone in their favour.
Well, that is all history now and the fans can look forward to VAR playing a big role in the Premier League next season.
It remains to be seen as to what kind of impact the introduction of technology has in the top-flight next term but it is certainly worth looking back at some of the top blunders made by the referees in the 2018-19 campaign.
1. Ashley Young’s Handball vs Newcastle United
Man United were under pressure to turn their lacklustre season on its head, with manager Jose Mourinho very much under scrutiny following the Red Devils’ unimpressive start to the campaign.
However, it wasn’t the best possible start to the game for the home side, as goals from Robert Kenedy and Yoshinori Muto put Newcastle 2-0 ahead just 10 minutes into the fixture.
Man United though, managed to pull a rabbit out of the hat in the second half as goals from Juan Mata and Anthony Martial brought them back on level terms before Alexis Sanchez’s strike in the final seconds of regulation time completed a remarkable 3-2 comeback victory for the Red Devils.
Well, that result could have been so much different had it not been for a massive blunder from referee Anthony Taylor. Ashley Young’s attempted clearance off Jonjo Shelvey’s inch-perfect cross struck him on the arm and went out of play.
Much to the astonishment of the fans, the referee not only denied Newcastle an obvious penalty but he also opted not to point to the corner flag. Forget about a red or a yellow card for the offence.
2. Willy Boly’s hand of god against Man City
Wolves finished the season in the Europa League qualification spot with an envious record against the big-six sides in the Premier League. However, they got extremely lucky in the 1-1 draw against Man City at Molineux in the earlier stages of the campaign.
Willy Boly threw his body on the line to make some sort of a connection from a cross and scored with what appeared to be a wonderful diving header, thus giving Wolves the lead in the 57th minute.
However, replays showed clearly that the ball actually came off his arm and beat Ederson in goal.
Aymeric Laporte equalised late on to rescue a point for City, however, one cannot help but feel that the Citizens were robbed of two crucial points, thanks to some incorrect officiating.
Wolves definitely deserved to get at least a point to show for their lion-hearted effort but scoring with the hand is never acceptable in football.
3. Dejan Lovren’s challenge on Sergio Aguero
Excitements levels were crossing all limits when Liverpool played host to defending champions Man City on 7th October given that both the teams were unbeaten at that point of the season.
The game, which did turn out to be a fiercely contested one, ultimately poured cold water on the expectations and ended as a 0-0 stalemate but there was no shortage of drama over the course of the ninety minutes.
The memories of Riyad Mahrez’s missed penalty in the dying stages of the game is likely to be fresh in the memories of the fans but as a matter of fact, City should have had two penalties in that game.
Martin Atkinson pointed to the spot for Virgil van Dijk’s foul on Leroy Sane in the second half but Lovren’s challenge on Aguero in the first half was deemed unworthy of a penalty for some unknown reason.
Aguero did go down softly but he was well within his rights to go down given that Lovren didn’t get a part of the ball and definitely got some part of the striker in his attempted tackle.
4. Man City vs Burnley
There was not one but as many as three blunders in Man City’s 5-0 victory over Burnley on 20th October and referee Jonathan Moss was the culprit. Vincent Kompany’s challenge on Aaron Lennon only earned him a booking but in all honesty, that should have been a straight red card.
Cynical or not, a high boot challenge with the studs pointing upwards is nothing short of a sending off and the referee got that one horribly wrong, much to the disappointment of Sean Dyche on the sidelines.
That, however, was not the only incorrect call that went in City’s favour in that particular game. Bernardo Silva’s goal to make it 2-0 should not have stood as David Silva was very much in an offside position when he supplied the assist with a picture-perfect cross.
Neither the linesman on the far side nor Jonathan Moss seemed to spot that and that was the beginning of an absolute rampage from City.
Leroy Sane’s challenge on Matthew Lowton towards the end of the game, though not as dangerous as the one Kompany made on Lennon, was also worthy of a red card only for Moss to spare the German with a booking.
The winger was clearly late on the challenge and replays showed that he never really made an attempt to go for the ball.
5. Sadio Mane’s disallowed goal vs Arsenal
Liverpool and Arsenal played out an enthralling 1-1 draw at the Emirates on 3rd December but the outcome of the game could have been so much different had referee Andre Marriner not ruled out Sadio Mane’s goal for an offside.
Trent Alexander Arnold’s cross into the box found Roberto Firmino, whose shot came back off the post before Mane found the net with a simple tap-in.
That, however, was deemed as an offside against the Senegalese international, although replays showed clearly that he was in a clean position when he put the ball into the net.
It is true that he did initially take a step towards the ball before Firmino had his shot but that doesn’t really count as offside.
The rulebook clearly states that an offside call can only be made when a player himself plays the ball, attempts to play the ball or obstructs the opposition while standing in an offside position. Mane’s slight movement had nothing to do with any of those clauses.
James Milner’s goal was cancelled out by Lacazette’s strike but Liverpool would probably have claimed three points had Mane’s goal stood.
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