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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.

Bournemouth

Bournemouth will not regret signing this 9-time capped international ace to solve goalkeeping woes – Agreed?

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Bournemouth Opinion: Cherries should move for Jack Butland this summer

According to Sky Sports, Bournemouth have joined the race to sign Jack Butland from Stoke City in the summer, with manager Eddie Howe keen to bolster his options between the sticks.

Butland has been in impressive form for the Potters in the Championship this season and has managed 14 clean sheets from 38 appearances.

A youth product of Birmingham City, Butland spent time on loan at Cheltenham Town before being snapped up by Stoke in 2013. The Englishman enjoyed fruitful loan spells at Leeds United and Derby County before establishing himself as Stoke’s No.1 between the sticks.

He hasn’t looked back since then and has taken his career to greater heights, earning 37 clean sheets in 124 appearances across all competitions.

A regular for England at all youth levels, Butland has also won 9 caps at the senior international level and represented the Three Lions at the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

However, with Stoke looking set for another season in the Championship, Butland might eye an exit in the summer to join a Premier League club.

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Meanwhile, Bournemouth manager Eddie Howe has preferred the 39-year-old Artur Boruc between the sticks in the Premier League since the turn of the year.

Asmir Begovic started off as the No.1 following an impressive season last time around but the former Chelsea man has been relegated to bench duty since January. Towards the end of the January transfer window, the Sun claimed that Begovic was not in Howe’s plans for a first-team spot and the Cherries were willing to listen to offers for the 31-year-old.

Boruc has done a decent job between the sticks but Bournemouth’s interest in Jack Butland definitely makes a lot of sense. The 26-year-old is regarded as one of the best goalkeepers in the country and the Cherries would strike gold by getting their hands on the coveted shot-stopper.

Standing at 6ft. 5 inches, Butland has just the ideal height for a goalkeeper, with his long arms giving him a good reach to keep out shots from all ranges.

The Englishman boasts of razor-sharp reflexes and excels with his composure in one-on-one situations, whilst his ball handling is also of the highest quality. The 26-year-old communicates well with his defenders and always seems to have things under control inside his penalty area.

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Butland has made a total of 104 saves from 38 appearances in the Championship this term, 52 of which have come from inside the penalty area including 5 from within the six-yard box.

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Bournemouth have enjoyed a decent run this season but they should look to build on it and aim for better things next season. They don’t have the best of defensive records, having conceded 56 goals from 31 games and Butland’s presence between the sticks should help them improve massively.

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Fulham

West Ham raiding London rivals for this 24-year-old goal machine would be an absolute masterstroke

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West Ham Opinion: Why Aleksandar Mitrovic will be an ideal fit for West Ham

According to a report from Football.London, West Ham were linked with a January swoop for Fulham hitman Aleksandar Mitrovic.

The Serbian, 24, has been one of the rare bright sparks for Fulham in an otherwise miserable campaign in the Premier League.

Aleksandar Mitrovic has shown that he is capable of playing well at this level and there will be plenty of suitors for him if Fulham go down at the end of the season, which looks very likely after their last weekend’s defeat against Liverpool.

That being said, should West Ham plot a summer move for the 24-year-old centre-forward this summer?

Absolutely! West Ham were set to lose Marko Arnautovic to an unnamed Chinese club in January before the Austrian made a U-turn and signed a one-year contract extension at the London Stadium.

Despite penning a new contract, there’s an air of uncertainty that Arnautovic will leave the club at the end of the season.

Meanwhile, Andy Carroll is out of contract at West Ham in June and chances of him earning an extension have seemingly dried up after the 30-year-old injured his ankle once again.

Javier Hernandez has struggled this season with only eight goals in 25 games, while Lucas Perez remains out of favour under Pellegrini.

Considering West Ham’s current situation, signing a centre-forward is a must if Pellegrini is to challenge the Premier League’s Big Six next term. And Mitrovic would fit the bill perfectly at the London Stadium.

A big, burly and physical centre-forward, Mitrovic has been almost unplayable when he is on song this season. He is an old-fashioned centre-forward who excels in the holding the ball up and bringing his teammates into the game.

The 24-year-old is hard as a nail, difficult to dispossess and an all-day threat in the box.

Mitrovic is fantastic in the air and his ability to link-up play and swiftly run in the box hoping for a cross make him such a difficult player to mark. The former Anderlecht and Newcastle United man is also a composed finisher in front of goal.

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One of his biggest strengths up top is his anticipation as he drives into the box and has the ability to take a shot on from a pass or cross and find the back of the net in a blink of an eye.

Conclusion

Mitrovic is known for his aggression and physicality and can provide quality and depth up front for Pellegrini’s West Ham.

With Carroll’s contract expiring in June and possibility of Arnautovic leaving if a bigger club comes calling, the Hammers desperately need another forward who can cause defences problems in a physical manner.

And Pellegrini can do a lot worse than sign a Premier League proven forward, Mitrovic.

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Arsenal

This 22-year-old Arsenal target from last summer would be absolutely ideal for Emery to replace Aaron Ramsey

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Arsenal Opinion: Why the Gunners should go all out to sign Djibril Sow?

Back in April 2018, a report from the Daily Mirror claimed Arsenal were tracking Young Boys midfield ace Djibril Sow.

Young Boys signed Djibril Sow from Borussia Monchengladbach in the summer of 2017 and he is coming of age in Switzerland, winning the Swiss Super League in his debut season itself.

The 22-year-old has grown leaps and bounds in the last two years and played in all six of Young Boys’ Champions League group-stage games this season.

Now that the Sow has enjoyed another solid season in the Swiss Super League, Arsenal should definitely reignite their interest in the midfielder and sign him this summer.

Aaron Ramsey, Arsenal’s current longest-serving player, will end his time with the Gunners at the end of the season to join Italian giants Juventus. The Welshman remains one of Arsenal’s most talented stars and still plays a key role in Unai Emery’s first team.

He might have divided opinion amongst the fans since joining the north Londoners but his commitment and ability to deliver headline moments have rarely been in question.

Down the years, Ramsey has been the one to provide the Gunners with impetus and drive from the midfield that has proven so crucial in big games.

The Welshman has been a committed player ever since arriving at the Emirates Stadium from Cardiff City and his departure this summer would leave a big hope which Emery needs to address ahead of the new season.

Djibril Sow could be that player for Arsenal, although he won’t be a like-for-like Ramsey replacement. Sow is a versatile player, adept at playing in different positions across the midfield. His skill-set is rather unique in itself and when coupled with his energy and ability to break attacks, the Swiss becomes incredibly hard to come up against.

The 22-year-old boasts a wide passing range and can link up play quite brilliantly from the middle of the park. He is also physically strong which helps him protect the ball and make lung-busting runs from midfield. Sow has a lethal right foot that is capable of delivering screamers, although he isn’t exactly known for his goal-scoring prowess.

Verdict

The acquisition of Sow will undoubtedly bolster Emery’s midfield options at the Emirates. Arsenal already have some promising midfield talents in their ranks such as Lucas Torreira, Mateo Guendouzi, Grant Xhaka and Mohamed Elneny all vying for a place in Emery’s first-team.

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The addition of Sow will add more competition for places within the Arsenal squad which could help them cope with injuries and suspensions better next season. Hence, it seems like the young Swiss could be a smart addition who’ll add some much-needed squad depth for Emery’s side to compete for the title next season.

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