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West Ham would find ideal replacement for Mark Noble in this 28-year-old Ligie 1 powerhouse – Agreed?

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West Ham Opinion: Why the Hammers should make a move for Yann M’Vila?

According to a report from L’Equipe, West Ham United are interested in signing Saint-Etienne midfielder Yann M’Vila this summer.

The Frenchman, 28, joined Saint-Etienne in January 2018 after being released from his Ruben Kazan contract. He endured a tough time in Russia with Ruben Kazan and after returning back to France, the midfielder seemingly has revived his career.

In fact, Yann M’Vila signed a four-year contract with ASSE last year after a superb return to French football. He has hit the ground running for Saint-Etienne this season, racking up 33 appearances in all competitions whilst catching the attention of West Ham, who clearly are looking to bolster their midfield options in the summer.

For the majority of 2018/19 campaign, West Ham have had to rely on Declan Rice and Mark Noble to play regularly, with Jack Wilshere and Carlos Sanchez both suffering long-term injuries early on. Rice has impressed with his performances this season that has seen him lately become a transfer target for Manchester United.

Noble has also done well but he is set to turn 32 in May and has slowly started fading. Wilshere, meanwhile, was signed amidst a lot of fanfare but injuries have seen him make just a handful of appearances for the Hammers this season.

That’s enough to suggest why the Hammers are in need of a midfielder and Yann M’Vila certainly has the qualities to thrive under Manuel Pellegrini.

A defensive midfielder by trade, M’Vila is known for his energy, combativeness and work-rate. He’s still an athletic player with solid composure on the ball and ability to pick a pass. However, he has the ability to play in central midfield as well and will be a valuable addition in place of Pedro Obiang, who was keen to return back to Italy after Fiorentina were interested in him in January.

M’Vila possesses a good passing range and is often instrumental in building-up attacks from the back. The Frenchman is also a top tackler and a fantastic reader of the game which helps him snuff out the danger before it becomes grave.

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Not to forget, the 28-year-old enjoyed a fantastic spell with Sunderland few years back and became a firm favourite at Stadium of Light, helping the club avoid relegation from the Premier League.

Verdict

M’Vila would be an upgrade over Obiang and the Frenchman can form a brilliant partnership next to Rice in central midfield if the England international stays at West Ham next season. Thus, Manuel Pellegrini should not think twice in splashing the cash to bring the former France international back to England.

Dragon Feeds

Who is Rangers’ potential new signing Joe Aribo? Here’s a scout report

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Scout Report – Joe Aribo: Rangers’ new signing

According to the London Evening Standard, Rangersare on the verge of completing the signing of Joe Aribo from Charlton Athletic on a free transfer, with the report claiming that the 22-year-old is set to undergo a medical at Ibrox.

London Evening Standard understands that Aribo, who is out of contract at Charlton at the end of this month, is set to meet up with Steven Gerrard and the Rangers squad at their pre-season training camp in Portugal.

The 22-year-old turned down offers from various Championship and Premier League sides, as well as the chance to sign a new deal at Charlton, to move north of the border, with the prospect of playing at Ibrox under former Liverpool captain Gerrard playing a big part in his decision. (h/t Evening Standard)

Aribo played a key role for the Addicks in League One this past season and was one of driving forces behind their promotion-winning campaign, as the 22-year-old contributed with 9 goals and 5 assists in 36 appearances to propel Lee Bowyer’s side to the Championship via the playoffs.

Charlton were desperate to secure his future with a new long-term deal but the interest from so many top clubs, coupled with the riches on offer elsewhere, was always going to tempt the promising youngster to depart The Valley.

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Meanwhile, Rangers have already completed the signing of six new players and Aribo’s imminent arrival is set to make that seven for the summer.

They haven’t spent a fortune, though, with four out of those six signings -Steven Davis, Jordan Jones, Jake Hastie and Greg Stewart, all coming through the door as free transfers, while Sheyi Ojo has joined on loan from Liverpool. 

The acquisition of Aribo is expected to add a lot of steel, depth and quality to Gerrard’s options in the middle of the park, although it remains to be seen what kind of a role the manager has in mind for the youngster next season.

The 22-year-old has been at the centre of a lot of transfer speculation this summer and he will be under pressure to live up to that hype when he makes his debut for the Gers next term.

As Aribo gets ready to complete a move to Ibrox, let us take a closer look at his background, strengths and weaknesses. Here is a detailed scout report on the 22-year-old midfielder.

Background

Born in Camberwell, London, Aribo started playing at the youth ranks of Isthmian League Premier Division club Staines Town, winning the club’s Academy Player of the Year award back in April 2014.

He joined Charlton Athletic in the Championship in September 2015 following a successful trial and put pen to paper on a new deal in May 2016.

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Aribo made his first-team debut for the Addicks against Crawley Town in an EFL Trophy group stage game back in October 2016 before earning his League One debut in the same season.

The youngster made 19 appearances for Charlton in the league in his breakthrough season and impressed with as many as 6 assists before establishing himself as one of the regulars in the 2017-18 campaign. 

Aribo featured on 26 occasions for the Addicks in League One in the 2017-18 season and contributed with 5 goals and 2 assists, earning rave reviews for his performances in the process. 

The 22-year-old made a total of 97 appearances for Charlton Athletic in all competitions over the course of three seasons, accumulating 16 goals and 15 assists.

Style of Play, Strengths and Weaknesses

Essentially a central midfielder by trade, Aribo shares a lot of similarities in traits with former Man City and Barcelona enforcer Yaya Toure.

Noted for his pace, power, drive and determination, the 22-year-old is capable of playing in multiple positions in the middle of the park, having featured in attacking midfield, box-to-box, defensive and wide roles for Charlton Athletic.

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Standing at 1.83m with a towering and well-built frame, Aribo looks like a real athlete when he runs forward or challenges for the ball on the pitch, with his physicality being one of his key attributes.

An agile, energetic and tough-tackling presence in the middle, the youngster combines his raw power with his sharpness, anticipation and positioning skills to break up the play and win possession back for his team with crucial tackles and interceptions.

Blessed with plenty of upper body strength and good balance, Aribo hardly ever goes to ground after dispossessing the opposition and always looks for an opportunity to release the ball forward quickly in order to set up a brisk counter-attack. 

The 22-year-old is not only a ball-winner in the middle of the park but he also plays the role of a ball carrier- driving forward with pace and aggressiveness and often picking out the right passes to create goalscoring chances.

He is not only about pace and power, though, with his dribbling skills, speed of thought, presence of mind and well-rounded shooting ability making him a more complete player. 

To add to that, he is also adept at holding on to the ball in the midfield and in tight areas along the sidelines, using his physicality to ride past challenges and always making an attempt to bring his skills and technical abilities on the ball into play to retain possession.

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Aribo not only excels with his range of passing and ability to switch the play but he also shows a lot of willingness to get inside the box, which is exactly the reason why bags a lot of goals and assists.

A tireless worker on and off the ball, the 22-year-old covers almost every blade of grass on the pitch and is capable of shouldering both defensive and attacking responsibilities effectively.

Coming to his weaknesses, one has to consider that all his success so far has come in the third-tier of English football. That’s not to undermine his talent and potential, though, and it is definitely worth mentioning that he is still in the developmental phase of his career.

He tends to misplace the odd pass or two in the midfield and occasionally ends up getting behind the ball or scuffs his finishes in front of goal, but those things are pretty normal for a player of his age.

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Conclusion

It is not difficult to see why the prospect of a move to Rangers tempted Joe Aribo to the extent that he decided to further his development north of the border.

The lure of European football, coupled with the charismatic presence of Steven Gerrard at the helm of affairs and the chance to play for one of the most adored clubs in Scotland, probably prompted the 22-year-old to turn down other offers.

To Read More Rangers News, Click Here:- Latest Rangers News

However, it is worth mentioning here that Rangers will be expected to challenge Old Firm rivals Celtic for the domestic title next season, meaning that Aribo has to prove himself to Gerrard and earn his place in the team.

The 22-year-old will need to work on removing the rough edges in his game and few would back against him making a big impression at Ibrox in the years to come if he continues his development down the right path. 

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Liverpool

Slow and steady – Here’s how Klopp has successfully built a Liverpool squad that doesn’t need major additions anymore

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Liverpool opinion: How Klopp has built a squad that doesn’t need major additions

Until the summer of 2015, three months before the arrival of Jurgen Klopp, Liverpool were a club that usually signed raw talents. The idea was to groom them over two to three seasons and then the big clubs would snap those up players to enhance the quality of their own squads.

For instance, at the end of a rollercoaster 2013/14 campaign where the Steven Gerrard slip was famous and Brendan Rodgers’ Reds missed the title by a whisker, the club were more scared of losing their best player Luis Suarez instead of readying themselves to work wonders again the following season.

That fear eventually turned into reality when the Uruguayan made his move to Barcelona and Liverpool had to contend with replacements of the likes of Rickie Lambert, Mario Balotelli, who, with all due respect, are nowhere near Suarez’s quality.

Arrival of Klopp

When Jurgen Klopp arrived in October 2015, the first of many challenges lying ahead of him was to turn his squad and the city of Liverpool from doubters to believers. And those were the German’s words during his first interview as well.

It took him some time but the former Borussia Dortmund boss has got it right in due course of time.

When he first arrived, muscle injuries to players and inconsistency was the general theme of things. However, the manager remained calm and kept working to improve the quality of this squad.

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From left – Klopp, Edwards and Gordon

In terms of transfer activities, the research work of Michael Edwards, the inputs of Michael Gordon, and Klopp’s trust in the duo have worked wonders in the past two to three summer windows.

The trio has a specific open-book style of work when it comes to identifying players who can better their squad. They don’t always look for the big names; rather the focus is on matching the profile of the player with the system of play currently deployed at Melwood training centre.

Because of this, we have seen since the summer of 2016 that despite not spending enormous money, they have built a squad worthy of challenging for every trophy possible in European and English football.

Furthermore, there is a belief among the players that they can win special things here rather than just making personal progress and win trophies elsewhere.

Shrewd transfer businesses

Take the example of Andy Robertson. Liverpool signed him from a relegated Hull City side for a mere £8m fee in the summer of 2017 (h/t BBC).

Not many approved of that transfer but the combo of Klopp-Gordon-Edwards had faith in their process and now, the left-back is one of the best in the world.

Liverpool also signed Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah in subsequent summers and gelled them with Roberto Firmino as one of the deadliest front lines in Europe.

While these things were put into place, the need for a commanding centre-back was apparent. Virgil van Dijk was earmarked as the transfer target in the summer of 2017 but Southampton weren’t happy with how Liverpool approached them for the transfer.

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At this point in time, any other manager would have panicked and looked for alternative solutions but not Klopp.

He remained calm while Edwards and co. took their time to repair the broken relationship with Southampton and eventually, Van Dijk’s transfer was completed six months after the desired time.

Even though the transfer fee of £75m looks daunting (h/t BBC), the performance of the Dutch superstar in the last 18 months states that he is currently worth much more than that.

With Loris Karius committing blunders in the 2018 Champions League final, Alisson had to be bought and Liverpool did just that, convincing Roma to sell the Brazilian to them ahead of Chelsea or Real Madrid (h/t Metro).

Same was the case with the signings of Fabinho, Naby Keita and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. Klopp-Edwards-Gordon trio earmarked these progressive midfield players as their targets and got the deals done without much trouble.

Squad is complete and doesn’t require major additions

Having won the Champions League three weeks back, Liverpool are in a situation where they can approach any big player this smmer.

However, things have been pretty quiet so far and the focus should only be on adding backups in certain positions rather than going helter-skelter to enhance the quality of a certain area.

The goalkeeping options are fixed, with Alisson as number one and Simon Mignolet as the backup. The back four are settled, apart from the fact that they need Andy Robertson’s backup after the departure of Alberto Moreno.

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The midfield is an area where Liverpool are most complete. With Naby Keita taking time to settle in his first season at Anfield and Oxlade-Chamberlain expected to be fully fit during this pre-season, they will be like new signings for the club. Adam Lallana looks adamant to stay at the club and fight for his place in the team.

In the front line, the trio of Mane, Salah and Firmino are fixed, with able support coming from Divock Origi and Xherdan Shaqiri. Also, expect the promising Rhian Brewster to get some game time next season.

Besides a new left-back, they would do well by signing an extra winger, who can deputise for Salah/Mane as per the requirement.

Conclusion

Reading through Liverpool’s slow yet steady progress in terms of building their squad goes to show that trust, clarity in thought and focus on a strong foundation are the most important things in club football.

For this reason, the Reds are quiet in this transfer window and two more backup additions would further enhance their chances of challenging for more trophies next season.

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Leeds Dragon

Despite tailing off since January, here’s how Bielsa can turn Leeds into a formidable force once again

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Leeds opinion: How Bielsa can improve the Whites after trailing off since January

Until last Christmas, Leeds United were one of the best teams in the Championship and were well on their way to at least finish second in the table.

However, things took a downward curve since the turn of this year and here we are now talking about them remaining in England’s second-tier for at least one more season.

While we will take an in-depth look as to why this drop in performance happened, it is worth noting that Leeds United hired Marcelo Bielsa to get them back into the Premier League and stay there for years to come.

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If the Whites are to keep the Argentine, the squad really needs to step up in the next 12 months and achieve the first target – promotion to the top-flight.

Now, let’s take a look at why there was a significant drop in their performances since the turn of the year and how Bielsa and co. can learn from that to improve next time around:

Injuries and high-intensity system

After his arrival last summer, the first few months of the Bielsa-era went smoothly, with the team playing an attractive brand of football and winning games in style.

But injuries to key players during the festive period started to take a toll on their performances, chiefly due to the fact that the Whites do not boast of a deep squad with high-quality players.

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Once a first-choice player of a particular position got injured, it was always a struggle for the manager to replace him. Either there was a drop in quality or the gaffer had to shoehorn someone in that slot.

Furthermore, Bielsa struggled to replace Samu Saiz with an attacking midfielder of similar quality. There were numerous players tried in the dual number 10 position but none of them took the opportunity by the scruff.

In Bielsa’s system, full-backs have to do a lot of running, which is unlike what other managers did at Elland Road. Thus, injuries/drop in performances due to fatigue was a natural phenomenon.

In fact, left-back Barry Douglas, who was signed from Wolves last summer, missed a huge chunk of the season while right-back Luke Ayling struggled for consistency.

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Due to a lack of proper backups in central defence, the manager had to field defensive midfielder Kalvin Phillips in that position for quite a lot of games.

Thus, it has to be said that these things are not ideal to sustain the course of a 46-game season.

Now, the challenge for Bielsa is to get the players more attuned to playing his style of football for a longer period of time without fatigue and make intelligent signings to enhance the depth of the squad.

Once these two things happen to a certain extent, we can say that Leeds would have a great chance to go all the way next season.

Conclusion

It is fairly evident as to where Leeds and Bielsa have to improve if they are to get promoted to the Premier League.

The upcoming pre-season is very important for this team and the manager, as they should look to build on from the disappointments of last season rather than going into the shell.

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