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Opinion: Southampton have taken a massive leap in the right direction by handing their rising star a long-term deal

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Southampton Opinion: Saints have done the right thing by offering Yan Valery a new deal

According to Sky Sports, Southampton starlet Yan Valery has signed a new contract which should keep him at St.Mary’s until 2023.

Valery, who joined Southampton from French club Rennes as a teenager back in 2015, made his first-team debut for the Saints in the Carabao Cup game against Leicester City in November and has featured regularly in the Premier League under new manager Ralph Hasenhuttl.

The 20-year-old has made a total of 14 starts in the Premier League this season, with most of his involvement coming since the turn of the year.

Valery, who has played as a right-wing back and a right-sided midfielder under Hasenhuttl, has been one of the driving forces behind Southampton’s mini-resurgence which has seen the Saints climb out of the relegation zone with some impressive victories in recent weeks.

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Valery scored an absolute stunner in Southampton’s 3-2 defeat against Manchester United and followed it up with the equaliser in the Saints’ 2-1 humbling of Spurs last week. While James Ward-Prowse has stolen much of the limelight at the south coast club for his recent upturn of form, Valery has emerged as one of the breakout stars of the Premier League this season.

Following the departure of Cedric Soares to Inter Milan on loan in January, the onus was on Valery to fill in the boots of the experienced Portuguese international and he has proved himself as the right man for the job with some consistently impressive displays.

As a matter of fact, Valery, with his youthful exuberance and ability to contribute to the attack by playing further up the pitch, has proven himself to be a better fit for Hasenhuttl’s attacking philosophy which demands the wingers to attack their opposite number.

Playing with utmost confidence and exhibiting solid big-game temperament in his performances against clubs like Man United and Spurs, the youngster has never looked like a newcomer to the Premier League. Furthermore, he has improved defensively as well in recent games, showing the awareness to track back and cut out the attacks.

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To put things into perspective, Southampton need to build a formidable squad for the future, and to do that, they need to rely on young players. The Southampton academy is renowned for producing fine young talents and the Saints should try to accommodate some of their academy products into the first-team.

Yan Valery has already shown strong signs of excellence and the decision to offer him a long-term deal is definitely a step in the right direction.

The Saints haven’t had much luck with their big-money signings in the transfer market in recent seasons, with the likes of Pablo Osvaldo, Guido Carrillo, Mohamed Elyounoussi and Sofiane Boufal all failing to make much of an impact.

The failure of the marquee signings to deliver the goods has left the club fighting for relegation in recent seasons. They made it to the Europa League just a few seasons back but things have gone horribly wrong for them ever since.

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Southampton have looked more like a team on a mission under the charismatic stewardship of Ralph Hasenhuttl and the Saints need to think beyond just avoiding relegation this season. They need to build a strong core of first-team players to challenge for a top-ten finish in the subsequent seasons and Yan Valery has the qualities to mature into a future star.

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An utter waste of money – Liverpool are better off without signing this 26-year-old creative ace for £75m

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Liverpool Opinion: Splashing a fortune to sign Felipe Anderson won’t be a smart move for the Reds

According to the Daily Mail, Liverpool have set their sights on West Ham attacker Felipe Anderson ahead of the summer transfer window, with manager Jurgen Klopp looking to bolster his attacking options prior to the start of the upcoming campaign.

However, the Daily Mail understands that West Ham are not going to let Anderson go on the cheap to any of the top-six clubs in the Premier League and the Hammers are expected to make a statement of intent by holding on to their star man.

Another report from Daily Star adds that West Ham will be looking at offers of around £75million to part ways with their prized asset after his heroics in his first season in at the London Stadium.

Liverpool were also keeping tabs on Bayer Leverkusen’s Julian Brandt but their pursuit of the 22-year-old ended in disappointment, with Borussia Dortmund winning the race to sign the winger. (h/t Daily Mail)

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Anderson made his move to West Ham from Serie A club Lazio last summer for a club-record fee of £36 million and managed to make an instant impact in the Premier League.

The Brazilian quickly adapted to the dynamic nature of English football and produced impressive returns in his first season at the club, having chipped in with 9 goals and 4 assists in 36 Premier League appearances.

The Brazilian’s red-hot form hasn’t gone unnoticed and Sky Sports reported last month that the 26-year-old was on the radar of Real Madrid, with the Los Blancos identifying his as an alternative to Chelsea star Eden Hazard. (h/t Sky Sports)

Undoubtedly, Anderson’s stocks have soared sky high since his move to east London last summer and any potential suitor would have to cough up a huge amount to lure him away from West Ham this summer.

It is not an overstatement that a player of his calibre is capable of playing for any top club in Europe but he is highly-adored by the fans and the hierarchy at West Ham and a move away from the club seems unlikely to materialize this summer.

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To put things into perspective, Liverpool have every reason to look at Felipe Anderson as a viable option to bolster their attack given that the Brazilian has already proven his credentials in the Premier League.

However, the Reds need to understand that Anderson is a top player at his current club and he is unlikely to have his head turned by a back-up role at Anfield, and even if the player is interested, Liverpool would need to break the bank to sign him.

Anderson is at a stage in his career where he would like to play every game and it is highly unlikely that Liverpool would be able to make such promises, with the dominance of stalwarts like Sadio Mane, Mo Salah and Roberto Firmino reigning supreme in their ranks.

Xherdan Shaqiri and Divock Origi haven’t had much playtime this season and Anderson, though possibly an upgrade on both of them, cannot expect any better.

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It is true that the departure of Daniel Sturridge on a free transfer this summer is going to deal a blow to Liverpool’s squad depth but they should be better off looking at an out-and-out No.9 to replace him.

Bringing in a prolific striker would provide cover and competition for Firmino, as well as maintain the perfect balance in the squad. The lack of a specialist No.10 since the departure of Philippe Coutinho has come back to haunt Liverpool at times, with full-backs Robertson and Alexander-Arnold providing most of the creative spark from the flanks.

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Anderson is capable of playing as a No.10 but he is at his best when deployed out wide on the flanks and Liverpool should not make the mistake of looking at him as someone to just fill the gaps in the middle of the park. Moreover, spending a fortune to bring in a player for a back-up role sounds pretty awkward and irrational.

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That said, Liverpool should keep faith in their prolific front trio and invest to improve other areas of their squad.

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A much-needed move – Man United splashing £25m to sign this 21-year-old defender would be a masterstroke

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Manchester United Opinion: Why United must go for Aaron Wan-Bissaka?

According to a report from the Evening Standard, Manchester United are preparing a £25m bid for Crystal Palace right-back Aaron Wan-Bissaka.

The 21-year-old defender has been a standout performer for Crystal Palace since breaking into the first-team at the start of 2018. The Eagles’ preference is to keep Aaron Wan-Bissaka but will listen to offers if their stunning £50m valuation is met.

Manchester United are still pushing to sign the right-back and know their opening bid is going to be rejected by Palace. The report claims Manchester City are also interested in the England Under-21 international, which definitely must prompt United to up their offer and meet the south London club’s valuation for one of their prized assets.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer needs to make a number of changes to his squad this summer after a disappointing end to the 2018/19 campaign that saw them win just two games out of 12. He is expected to bring in players that are more likely to develop into world-class stars than make an instant impact at Old Trafford.

After coming to terms with Swansea for the £15m signing of Daniel James, the Red Devils must quickly turn their attention to solving the right-back conundrum. Solskjaer needs to make it a priority of sorting out his defence after a horror show in 2018/19.

Antonio Valencia is leaving United when his contract expires and Matteo Darmian is also likely to find a new club this summer. Ashley Young was very poor in the second half of the campaign and attracted a lot of criticism for his performances. Diogo Dalot is 19 and is yet not ready to be a regular at right-back, with Solskjaer preferring the Portuguese more on the right wing.

Regardless of the fact Wan-Bissaka is only 21, he is regarded as one of the best full-backs in the Premier League. He looks like a generation of a talent, the sort of full-back that at 21 is better than most of the players who are in the age group of 24-26. He has had a spectacular 2018-19 campaign, as the Eagles finished in the 12th place in the Premier League.

In Wan-Bissaka, United would have one of the hottest young properties in the Premier League who, along with Dalot, could address the club’s right-back problems for years to come. The England Under-21 international’s positional awareness, tackling and understanding of the game coupled with his dribbling skills and overlapping runs already makes him a perfect fit in Solskjaer’s system at Old Trafford.

Verdict

Wan-Bissaka is an extremely talented individual, who has a huge potential to fulfil. At arguably the biggest club in Europe and under Solskjaer’s tutelage, he certainly can unlock his top potential and become the best in the business.

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That being said, United must make signing the Palace star a top priority this summer.

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West Ham’s €10m pursuit of this creative midfielder would do their attacking unit a world of good – Here is why

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West Ham Opinion: Hammers would do themselves a world of good by signing Konstantinos Fortounis

According to the Mirror, West Ham have launched €10million bid for Olympiacos playmaker Konstantinos Fortounis, with the Hammers’ sporting director Mario Husillos identifying the Greek international as a player who could possibly improve the club’s midfield options.

The Mirror also understands that West Ham have made an official offer for the 26-year-old attacking midfielder and Manuel Pellegrini is keen to get the 26-year-old on board in the summer transfer window.

Earlier in the year, Greek news outlet SDNA reported that Norwich City, then in the Championship, were also keeping close tabs on Fortounis, meaning that the Hammers might face competition from the newly-promoted outfit should they revisit their interest.

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Fortounis caught the eye with his scintillating run of form in the Greek Super League this term, as the playmaker racked up a staggering 12 goals and 9 assists in 28 appearances.

Although that wasn’t enough to propel Olympiacos to their second successive domestic title, the 26-year-old enjoyed a season with remarkable returns, having accumulated 17 goals and 16 assists in all competitions.

The 26-year-old is highly-rated in Greece, having made his move to Olympiacos back in 2014 after enjoying a fruitful four-year spell with FC Kaiserslautern in the Bundesliga. Fortounis, who has 6 goals in 41 international appearances for Greece, is one of the club’s best players and boasts of an eye-catching record for the domestic giants.

The playmaker has racked up an incredible tally of 67 goals and 60 assists in 196 appearances for Olympiacos across all competitions.

Essentially a central attacking midfielder by trade, Fortounis is an out-and-out No.10 but he is also capable of playing out wide on either flank, owing to his ambidextrous nature.

A technically-gifted, sharp, agile and mobile playmaker noted for his good turn of pace, trickery and flair on the ball, vision and creativity, Fortounis knows exactly how to create his own space in the final third and exploit the gaps in the opposition’s defence.

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The Greek international combines his pace and acceleration with his technical abilities on the ball to drive past the opposition and often creates chances with his incisive passing and clever link-up play.

An excellent passer of the ball, Fortounis not only excels with speed of thought and vision in and around the penalty area but he is also adept at making runs into the box to get his name on the scoresheet.

Fortounis registered 3 goals and 3 assists in the Europa League this term, averaging an impressive 2.1 shots, 2.3 key passes, 1.5 crosses and 3.3 successful long balls per game, figures which are a clear testament to his well-rounded passing and playmaking attributes.

To put things into perspective, Fortounis has a wealth of Champions League, Europa League and international experience and he could prove to be an excellent addition to Manuel Pellegrini’s ranks this summer.

The Hammers often struggled to cope with the absence of a natural No.10 last season and the acquisition of Fortounis could solve plenty of problems for the East Londoners.

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Samir Nasri is unlikely to be offered a new deal but the Hammers are likely to have Manuel Lanzini at their disposal right from the start of the next campaign after the Argentinian missed large chunks of this past season recovering from an injury.

Felipe Anderson produced impressive returns in his debut season at the London Stadium and the Brazilian is likely to play a key role once again next term. However, the arrival of another quality attacking midfielder like Fortounis should increase competition for places and add a bit more creativity and firepower to West Ham’s ranks.

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Having secured a top-ten finish in the Premier League in their first season under Pellegrini, it is now time for the Hammers to consolidate and mount a strong challenge for a Europa League spot next term.

That said, they should leave no stone unturned in their pursuit of the Greek playmaker given that he has all the attributes to take the Hammers to the next level.

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