Why Rafael Varane would be absolutely perfect for Manchester United
The Sun and the Manchester Evening News have reported that Manchester United have re-entered the race for Real Madrid superstar Raphael Varane. A World Cup winner with France, Varane has been easily one of the Los Blancos’ best players this season, alongside Vinicius Junior and a few others. For United, the fact that he is one of the best centre-backs – is the simple reason why they are attracted.
While both Kalidou Koulibaly and Milan Skriniar are at the top of their short-list, if Varane was made available, there would be a queue of clubs lining up outside the Santiago Bernabeu to make a move. That’s how good the French centre-back is.
The 25-year-old is a personification of a great modern-day defence, who has every attribute that would make him for perfect for any side in the world, let alone Manchester United. He has the qualities and potential in several playing systems of managers and settles in that with aplomb.
There is no club in the world who wouldn’t want Varane, and while Manchester United would love getting him, the Red Devils need to move their eyes elsewhere.
There is little chance that Real Madrid would give up the centre-back who’s going to rule their back-line for the best part of next decade. Now at 25, the Frenchman is in the middle of his peak years. He will only get better from now on.
He has established himself as a mainstay in the Madrid team-sheet, making 260 appearances since his debut as an 18-year-old back in 2011. There is little chance that the Los Blancos will let the 25-year-old Frenchman leave, especially after seeing him being nominated among the top ten players for the 2018 Ballon d’Or.
While Luka Modric did eventually win the coveted individual trophy, many critics believed that Varane should have been ranked higher or even become the first defender since Fabio Cannavaro to win the trophy.
The summer window should once again see Manchester United spend heavily, but there is a slight chance that the Red Devils could bag Raphael Varane. But that’s only a slight chance, which means that a step back down into reality could be a little bit jarring, however, neither Kalidou Koulibaly nor Milan Skriniar are bad options. Hence, despite the Frenchman possessing the ability to be a perfect option for United, the possibility of him joining is mere.
West Ham signing this veteran PL defender would go a long way in fixing their backline woes – Agreed?
West Ham Opinion: Gary Cahill would be a massive coup for the Hammers
According to the Mirror, West Ham have reignited their interest in Chelsea defender Gary Cahill and the Hammers are likely to move for the 33-year-old former England international once his contract at Stamford Bridge expires at the end of the season.
Cahill has been frozen out of the first-team picture by manager Maurizio Sarri and has played a ridiculously low 21 minutes of Premier League football this season, with the Italian preferring Antonio Rudiger and David Luiz at the heart of the defence. The veteran has been used sporadically in the current campaign, with most of his involvement coming in the Europa League and domestic cup competitions.
The Englishman made his move to Stamford Bridge in 2012 from Bolton Wanderers and has enjoyed a trophy-laden spell at Chelsea, including two Premier League titles, two FA Cups and also the Champions League.
Cahill is set to be one of the most high-profile free agents at the end of the season and there should be no shortage of potential suitors for his signature, considering his experience and quality.
The 33-year-old has made a total of 513 senior competitive appearances in all competitions for the likes of Burnley, Sheffield United, Chelsea, Aston Villa and Bolton, with 348 of those coming in the Premier League. He also boasts of an impressive goal tally for a central defender, having found the net on 27 occasions in the Premier League.
To put things into perspective, the acquisition of a player of Cahill’s calibre for absolutely nothing would be a massive coup for West Ham, though the Hammers would have to do really well to beat off competition from other clubs.
The Mirror has pointed out in the report that Cahill wants to play regular first-team football in the Premier League next season and it should be a pleasure for the east Londoners to meet his demands.
West Ham spent a fortune in the transfer window last summer and it is unlikely that Manuel Pellegrini would be handed such a huge transfer budget once again, which should prompt the manager to look for bargain deals and complete some smart signings.
Given that the Hammers haven’t looked too secure at the back in the Premier League this season, someone like Cahill might just be the missing block in the jigsaw puzzle, as Pellegrini looks to build a squad capable of challenging for a Europa League spot.
The Englishman has loads of Champions League experience and getting him on board in the summer would help the manager sort out his problems at the back.
Issa Diop has been a standout figure for the Hammers at the heart of the defence this term since his big-money arrival from Toulouse last summer. However, fellow summer recruit Fabian Balbuena, though impressive at times, has struggled to cope with the pressure of having to deliver the goods week in and week out.
Angelo Ogbonna has enjoyed a prolonged run in the first-team in recent months but the Italian has proven himself to be too error-prone, while Winston Reid apparently has no future at the club.
Suffice to say, the Hammers need to overhaul their defensive options and Cahill perfectly fits the bill.
Cahill’s experience at the highest level combined with his good understanding of the game and supreme aerial ability should make him a wonderful fit for a club like West Ham, and his presence might as well bring the best out of Issa Diop.
He is a calm and composed defender who can add that steel and reliability to a backline that has often crumbled under pressure this season.
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Cahill might be 33 but he still has plenty to offer at the highest level and West Ham can do themselves a world of good by snapping him up in the summer.
Chelsea replacing Eden Hazard with this £70m-rated international winger would be a masterstroke by Sarri
Chelsea Opinion: Blues can replace Eden Hazard with Lille’s Nicolas Pepe
The Blues are said to be targeting boyhood Chelsea fan Nicolas Pepe from Lille as they look towards a future without Eden Hazard to leave them from the front.
It is suggested that the winger would cost the Blues around £70m to bring to Stamford Bridge but with the Belgian’s move to Real Madrid being touted to be a big-money switch, Chelsea shouldn’t have too much trouble in reinvesting their finances in another player.
Chelsea signed Eden Hazard from the same team that Nicolas Pepe currently plays for – LOSC Lille. The deal cost the Blues a bargain £32m all the way back in 2012 – a price that would be a complete joke for a player as talented as the Belgian is in today’s footballing market.
Since making the huge step from the Ligue 1 up to the Premier League, Hazard’s improvement as a player has been meteoric. His pace and dribbling skills are unmatched and he has certainly developed into one of Europe’s highest-rated players.
His influence on this Chelsea side can’t even be quantified as without his unbelievable exploits on a weekly basis, Chelsea wouldn’t be anywhere close to the top of the table, let alone actually fighting for the title in itself. He took no time settling with the football in England and was an instant hit at Stamford Bridge.
Considering that the magnitude of his sheer quality was unknown at the time, the improvement he showed since making the switch is bound to fill Chelsea fans with tons of confidence that if they do go on to sign Nicolas Pepe in the summer, the Ivorian will produce the goods in the royal blue kit.
While the Lille link is obviously going to play a fairly important part if this transfer is to go through, Chelsea’s desperation to make as many signings as possible will also come into the picture. With a potential transfer ban looming and Eden Hazard’s departure looking more and more likely everyday, its about time Chelsea look for direct replacements.
Nicolas Pepe has all the right attributes to come in and do a job for the Blues as his pace and dribbling abilities will suit Maurizio Sarri’s style of play. Young and still able to put in amazing amounts of work, he seems like the kind of player who would prosper in a setup as attacking as Chelsea’s.
His movement down the flanks are bound to cause the Premier League wing-backs troubles as his blistering pace is often too much to handle. His finishing has also turned into one of his strengths as he has proven to the fans through the course of the current Ligue 1 season.
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The 23-year-old has scored a whopping 19 goals and notched up a further 13 assists from his 32 league appearances. These numbers are the sign of a top quality player who is now ready to perform at the highest level and that’s why he can be Chelsea’s best option to replace Eden Hazard with.
3 goals, 2 assists – These two Chelsea attackers deserve all the credit for the nervy 4-3 win vs Slavia Praha
Chelsea Opinion: Pedro and Giroud starred in the 4-3 victory over Slavia at home
Chelsea progressed to the semi-finals of the UEFA Europa League with a nervous 4-3 victory over Czech outfit Slavia Prague at Stamford Bridge in the second leg on Thursday night, thanks to a brace from Pedro.
The Blues played poorly in the first leg away from home but Marco Alonso’s late winner ensured that Maurizio Sarri’s team carried a slender advantage into the home fixture at Stamford Bridge.
The fans would have expected Chelsea to make easy work of Slavia at home and it looked as if the Blues were in for an absolute cakewalk when they scored thrice within the opening 17 minutes.
In the opening stages of the first half, a rampant Chelsea side spearheaded by the trip of Giroud, Hazard and Pedro looked a class above their mediocre opposition but things took a complete turnaround in the second half.
After a dominant first-half display, Chelsea seemed to lose control over the proceedings in the second half. In fact, the goal that they conceded in the first half was entirely down to some poor marking from a set-piece situation.
It was humiliating to witness the level of ease with which Tomas Soucek headed the ball in from the corner, as Emerson made himself look like he was marking some invisible figure at the post.
Petr Sevcik’s brace in a space of 3 minutes early in the second half ignited Slavia’s hopes of staging a remarkable comeback away from home. Both the goals came from shots outside the box, as the Chelsea defence didn’t put any sort of pressure on the ball and were too lazy to close down the spaces.
Kovacic turned his back to the ball and Kepa got too easily done at his near post for the first one, while the second one was an absolutely stunning strike which gave the goalkeeper no chance, though the defence was at fault for allowing too much room.
Well, it wasn’t the strongest defensive performance from Chelsea and it might be a worrying sign for Sarri heading into the final few weeks of the season.
However, the manager has every reason to be pleased with the performances of Olivier Giroud and Pedro up front on a night where Eden Hazard was pretty average. Slavia kept Hazard at bay with some crunching challenges and the Belgian didn’t really have a massive impact on the game.
It was a perfect start to the night for Chelsea, with Pedro, Azpilicueta and Giroud showcasing some brilliant one-touch football in a slick move from the right that was finished off in style by the Spaniard.
Giroud claimed the assist for Pedro’s opener, though it was the Spaniard’s subtle movement off the ball that paved the way for a move that was typical of Sarri Ball.
Giroud showed some tremendous hold-up play for the second one, setting Hazard free on the right, who crossed it in for Pedro to finish but the Spaniard hit the post from point-blank range. It went down as an own goal but both Pedro and Giroud were heavily involved in the move.
The Spaniard bagged the assist for the third goal. Pedro timed his run to perfection, beat the offside trap to latch on to a brilliant through ball from N’Golo Kante and showed some good decision-making to set up Giroud for a simple tap-in.
The fourth goal was also a result of some wonderful build-up play down the left which all began with Giroud’s smart hold-up play. Emerson whipped in a perfect ball from the left, and though Giroud scuffed his finish, Pedro showed good reactions to turn the ball in at the far post.
Pedro bagged two goals and an assist while Giroud hit double figures in the Europa League on Thursday night, capping off a wonderful performance with a goal and an assist.
Undoubtedly, Chelsea looked like a lot more complete side in the attacking third with Giroud’s physical presence up front, though they played the second half at a rather testimonial pace. In other words, Giroud did everything that Gonzalo Higuain has failed to do since his arrival in January.
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Giroud registered 3 shots, 5 aerial duels and 1 key pass on the night while Pedro had a pass success rate of 77.8, including 3 shots, 1 key pass and 2 successful long balls. Chelsea are set to face Eintracht Frankfurt in the semi-finals of the Europa League and Sarri should continue to rely on the in-form duo to fire the Blues into the finals.
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