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No Morgan, no problem – Here are 3 top replacements who Leicester can target including English duo

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Three replacements Leicester City should consider for Wes Morgan

Wes Morgan, the Leicester City captain, sees his contract expire at the end of the current season, and any talks of an extension has been put off by manager Claude Puel. This does pose a problem for the club, as that leaves them with only Harry Maguire, Jonny Evans and Caglar Soyuncu as their main centre-backs.

While Evans has been very injury-prone since his arrival, Soyuncu has struggled to make an impact in the Premier League, with just three Premier League starts to his name. This will add to Leicester City problems and even if they do offer Wes Morgan a new deal, the Jamaican centre-back is already 35 years old and won’t get any younger.

That being said, here are three replacements for Leicester City’s title-winning captain Wes Morgan.

James Tarkowski

The Burnley man has been absolutely solid since his arrival at the club, so much so that Liverpool were even looking at a possible move for him. While Tarkowski is 26 years old and would thus command a large transfer fee, a move would be feasible for Leicester City.

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However, more so for Leicester City, Burnley are just above the relegation zone and need to be at the best to stay in the Premier League. If they don’t, then like Leicester City did last season for Jonny Evans, they can potentially acquire Tarkowski at a cheaper rate, which would be worth their effort.

A versatile star, Tarkowski can play as either a centre-back or a defensive midfielder, which should make him a great signing for Claude Puel and his team. That combined with his experience in the Premier League and Europa League further would make him worth the money.

Conor Coady

A former Liverpool youth star, Conor Coady has finally found a home for himself at Wolves after a failed move to Huddersfield. Since joining Wolves in 2015, the 25-year-old centre-back has been a key part of Nuno Espirito Santo’s team, even becoming the club captain.

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However, with promotion to the Premier League many believed that Wolves might struggle, but with Coady in their back-line, that statement has gone exactly the opposite. At the moment, the Midlands outfit sees themselves in the running for a Europa League spot and Coady has been at the centre of all good things for his side.

While it’ll be tough for Leicester to sign him, if they do manage to convince the 25-year-old Englishman to make the switch, then not only will they be able to replace Wes Morgan but also his presence on the field.

One of the main reasons why Coady was made captain is the fact that despite his age, the centre-back leads his team from the front and is a vocal presence in the dressing room.

Timo Baumgartl

Unlike Burnley who are just above the relegation zone, VfB Stuttgart are in the relegation zone, although they are just three points from safety. However, despite all that, there have been a few bright sparks amid Stuttgart’s disastrous campaign.

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Read More: Leicester’s future would be sorted for the next decade if they sign this 19-year-old prodigy as Vardy’s successor

Timo Baumgartl has been a rock in Stuttgart’s struggling back-line and despite all the pressure; the German international has never looked out of place. In fact, if anything, Baumgartl has looked brilliant, composed and even cool during pressure situations.

The 22-year-old centre-back would be a brilliant choice for Leicester City and given the fact that 15th place Augsburg have endured an upturn in form, things could get worse for Stuttgart. That does mean that any move for Baumgartl would become cheaper if Stuttgart ends up getting relegated.

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Bayern Munich

An in-depth scout report of Liverpool’s latest signing – Who is Sepp van den Berg and what can be expected from him?

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Scout report – Sepp van den Berg, Liverpool’s new signing

Finally, European champions Liverpool have made their first summer signing – 17-year-old centre-back Sepp van den Berg from Eredivisie side Zwolle for a fee of around £1.3m. (h/t BBC)

Now, from the outside, it doesn’t seem like the young Dutchman will make it to the first-team squad but on the basis of what we have seen of him so far in Zwolle and the Netherlands U19 team, we can say that he is one for the future at Anfield.

After all, German champions Bayern Munich were keen to sign him. They even called him when he arrived at Liverpool to complete his medical. (h/t Times)

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Coming back to the Reds under Jurgen Klopp, they have become a club that stresses on bolstering the youth team to solidify the future. Trent Alexander-Arnold is a prime example of that.

Hence, the fans shouldn’t be downbeat by the fact that their first summer signing is based on improving the U19/U21 circuit. 

Below, we will analyse van den Berg’s game, take a look at his strengths/weaknesses and how he can be Liverpool’s next big thing in a detailed scout report:

Scout Report – Sepp van den Berg (Baby Virgil van Dijk)

Firstly, Sepp van den Berg’s game has impressed many around Europe and he is rightly named the “baby Virgil van Dijk.”(h/t Scottish Sun) This is due to the fact that he is Dutch and his playing style resembles that of Liverpool’s current first-team centre-back.

If we analyse his game in depth, the 17-year-old is an excellent reader of the game and manages to make vital interceptions. His recovery pace to track the runs of pacy forwards is pretty good as well, which makes him a perfect fit for a high-line defence.

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Furthermore, the Dutch U19 international is good when it comes to aerially challenging the opposition centre-forwards. That also makes him a genuine threat from indirect set-pieces into the opposition box, which is always a plus point in any centre-back’s game.

Being a modern-day defender, van den Berg doesn’t mind passing the ball out from the back or beating the initial press and moving into the midfield with the ball. His qualities are such that we shouldn’t be surprised if he plays as a defensive midfielder in the future.

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Overall, it can be said that the teenager hardly has any negatives to his game. Maturity and dealing with the pressure will come in due course of time. He, of course, will have a chance to learn from van Dijk, who currently is the best centre-back in Europe.

Since Jurgen Klopp doesn’t hesitate to hand first-team opportunities to young players, we could see Sepp van den Berg playing for Liverpool in the near future. The player certainly possesses the potential to impress at Melwood and attract the eye of the manager.

Conclusion

All in all, we can conclude by saying that Liverpool have gotten a gem of a signing for such a low price. The best thing is the fact that they can wait for the player to grow/mature at the club, before handing him first-team opportunities. 

From van den Berg’s viewpoint, he is at the best club right now, chiefly due to the fact that Klopp loves working with young players and doesn’t hold them back from progressing further. 

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West Brom

The dawn of the Slaven Bilic era – Here’s what West Brom fans can expect ahead of the 2019/20 season

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West Brom 2019/20 preview: The Slaven Bilic era

After a lot of optimism regarding promotion back to the Premier League, West Bromwich Albion’s season took a wild and unfortunate turn after the club parted ways with Darren Moore. The Englishman was a clear fan favourite at the Hawthorns and his departure had its negative turn.

Caretaker manager James Shan kept them in the exact position that the Baggies were in before Moore’s departure but his inability to get them over the line through the playoffs meant that the club had to look for a fresh face.

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West Brom announced the appointment of Slaven Bilic on the 13th of June and this could well begin a new era at the club. The Baggies must aim to return to the top-flight as quickly as possible and Bilic’s arrival could make the difference from last season to the next.

Manager Profile

Bilic was relatively unknown as a manager at club level before he took the West Ham job four years ago. The Croatian wasn’t a new face by any means at Boleyn Park, having played for the Hammers back in 1996.

Bilic’s appointment back then was certainly a gamble, considering the little experience he had before but the gamble certainly paid off in his very first season. The Hammers finished seventh in the league which was a club record and Bilic was lauded by many for his fantastic achievement.

The Croatian’s life as the Hammers’ boss wasn’t meant to be, however. His second season in charge turned out to be a disastrous one. After beating the likes of Arsenal, Manchester United, Chelsea, Liverpool and Tottenham in his debut campaign, Bilic’s team slumped in the next, causing him to lose his job.

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Bilic’s only other role as a manager came with Saudi side Al-Ittihad earlier last year but his bad luck continued as he was axed just five months after his appointment. The former Besiktas boss managed just three wins out of a possible 15 but that should have no bearing for Baggies fans ahead of next season.

Tactics

In his hugely successful debut season with West Ham, Bilic’s biggest positive was how he got the Hammers to work as a team. West Ham were widely regarded as the side who would sit back and hit on the counter-attack with long balls but the Croatian was a breath of fresh air.

West Ham played some of the most beautiful styles of football which was rewarded with a deserved club record seventh-place finish in the Premier League.

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Bilic got the Hammers to defend as a team and attack as a team which was something almost unheard of for West Ham fans over the years. The Croatian used all his players to perfection while not being scared to tweak the formation at any moment.

The Hammers either played a 4-2-3-1 or a flat 4-3-3 with the latter being Bilic’s most successful formation. His side took every opportunity to attack but, at the same time, were hugely disciplined when without possession.

A midfield pivot of Mark Noble and Cheikhou Kouyate complimented each other brilliantly while Bilic’s star man Dimitri Payet took control of the game from a number 10 role with the confidence of the midfield duo behind to protect him.

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Bilic was far more successful with his 4-3-3 formation where he played a front three of Payet, Andy Carroll and Michail Antonio. The two wingers were instructed to cut inside which opened up a ton of space for the two full-backs.

The two full-backs were the club’s most important players in Bilic’s system. A quick one-two with the inside forwards gave them enough space to exploit down the line while but the variation in the movement of the full-back and his respective winger was what troubled teams the most.

The two central defenders were given a risk-free role, where the instructions were clear – either pass it out of the back or kick the ball long to bring someone like Andy Carroll into play. 

The former Newcastle man’s ability to hold up the play was instrumental in Payet’s success, as it allowed him time and space to take control.

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Bilic’s discipline saw everyone in the team get behind the ball apart from Payet and Carroll. This allowed the Hammers to resist most of the pressure from the opposition before setting the two advanced players free to cause serious damage.

What can West Brom expect?

The Baggies will see a whole new style of football to what they have witnessed before with the likes of Shan, Moore and Tony Pulis. West Brom would look a lot bolder on the ball in the attack and most importantly, they will play as a team.

Bilic is capable of installing a sense of togetherness on the pitch, allowing the side to work relentlessly both with and without the ball.

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The full-backs will have a lot of work to do up and down the pitch and their combination play with their respective wide men will play a massive part in the attack. A variation of short passes, quick interlinking play combined with deadly crosses from either side would make them tough to stop.

A compact defensive line, with the midfielders in front of the central defenders dropping deep to provide additional cover, will make them a solid side and they can expect to concede a lot lesser.

All in all, Baggies fans can be really optimistic about what’s in front of them and Slaven Bilic’s appointment could potentially be the decision that could take them back to where they want to be – the Premier League.

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Borussia Dortmund

Manchester United can move on from Matic by signing this 23-year-old German midfield prodigy and here’s why

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Manchester United Opinion: Why Man United should go for Julian Weigl?

According to a report from the Daily Star, Manchester United manager, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has told the club hierarchy to offload star midfielder Paul Pogba so he can reinvest the funds in improving the squad.

Pogba, 26, has refused to commit his future at Old Trafford in recent weeks and admitted last weekend he was contemplating a ‘new challenge’, amidst interest from Juventus and Real Madrid. Manchester United have maintained their stance of not selling the World Cup winner this summer but the Daily Star claim Solskjaer is ready to sanction a move.

The Red Devils have only given the Norwegian manager a summer transfer kitty of £100million to spend after failing to qualify for the Champions League, the report adds. They hope to make Aaron Wan-Bissaka their second signing of the summer following the arrival of Daniel James from Swansea City. But Solskjaer knows he needs many more players to complete his squad for next season and is ready to sacrifice Pogba to bolster the funds available to him.

Pogba, who is valued around £140m by United, is keen to leave Old Trafford this summer and challenge for major honours elsewhere. So, Solskjaer will be keen to sign a midfielder to replace the Frenchman. In fact, the 46-year-old tactician would need at least a couple of midfielders having lost Ander Herrera and Marouane Fellaini since joining the club in December.

Back in January 2018, the Independent claimed United were interested in signing Borussia Dortmund midfielder Julian Weigl. However, a move didn’t materialise then and Weigl stayed at Dortmund.

The German midfielder’s form has taken a slight dip in recent times, resulting in him falling down the pecking order last season under Lucien Favre. He managed only 25 appearances across all competitions, predominantly playing in central defence. Even if Weigl has struggled in the last 18 months or so, United must rekindle their interest in the 23-year-old this summer.

Once regarded as one of the finest midfield talents in the world, Weigl could be the perfect replacement for Nemanja Matic, who has looked somewhat past his best for the Reds. The Germany international is also an exceptional passer of the football and is very comfortable in possession, whilst excelling when breaking up opposition’s play. He has plenty of energy and always looks to pass forward, making him a perfect fit for Solskjaer’s style of play at United.

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Weigl is vastly experienced, regardless of his tender years, and he would bring real quality competition to the central midfield department at Old Trafford. The 23-year-old should be the perfect player to partner Scott McTominay in central midfield next term, with Fred and Andreas Pereira having done very little to warrant a starting berth.

Verdict

At the age of 23, Weigl is still young and in the developmental phase of his career. His form has been patchy in the last couple of seasons at Dortmund, but that should not deter United in splashing the cash to sign him ahead of the 2019/20 campaign.

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