Premier League Opinion: Best PL XI consisting only new signings
The Premier League sees a flurry of players come in and out at a rather alarming rate. Survival, in what is arguably the most competitive league in the world, doesn’t come easy in England.
When a new player comes in, the expectations placed on his shoulders by the fans are massive and living up to billing is quite the task.
Here’s the Premier League’s best XI consisting only players who were signed this season:
GK – Alisson Becker
The Brazilian keeper was signed for a massive fee by Liverpool in the summer and Jurgen Klopp will be more than delighted with what was a shrewd piece of business indeed.
He has proven his worth time and again this season by effectively saving the Reds a multitude of tight league matches.
RB – Diogo Dalot
The Manchester United youngster has been one of the few positive elements in what has certainly been a horror season for this Manchester United side.
His pacy runs have come in handy to Ole Gunnar Solskjaer over the course of the campaign and he’s even been utilised as a wide forward in the Champions League.
CB – Fabian Balbuena
The Paraguayan international was signed from Corinthians earlier in the campaign and his performances over the season for the Hammers will certainly come as motivation to the manager and the fans next season.
His dominant displays have become a common feature of West Ham’s play.
CB – Willy Boly
The Frenchman is still only 28-years-old and has a long career ahead of him.
He has played in 36 matches for Wolves this season and managed to score 4 goals with the exploits as well. His commanding voice in the heart of Nuno’s back-line has proved vital to their defensive stability this season.
LB – Lucas Digne
The Frenchman was signed from Barcelona in the summer and his first season in the Premier League has been nothing short of sensational.
Boasting some spectacular crosses down the left flank, his movement have left most defenders dumbfounded while his ability to pop up with a goal has been massive for Everton as well.
CM – Fabinho
The Brazilian midfield giant has gradually been transformed into one of the most important players of Jurgen Klopp’s dressing room.
While he is adept at holding onto the ball and releasing at the perfect moment, his defensive work-rate in the league also makes him a standout performer.
CM – Lucas Torreira
The little Uruguayan was signed with huge expectations and although we certainly haven’t seen his best yet, he showed glimpses of his brilliant along the way and that’s enough to get him into this side.
Inexplicably strong for his size, the youngster has already made himself at home in North London and will be looking for an extended stay in England.
CM – Joao Moutinho
The Portuguese veteran’s passing and movement only seem to be improving with time and the number of successful tackles this season is an absolute joke.
Now 32, the former Monaco man has been one of the best signings of the season and with Wolves shooting so high in the Premier League, expect him to star next season as well.
RW – Gerard Deulofeu
The Spanish winger has been one of Watford’s standout players this season. His consistency has been rewarded with a regular place in the first team, often playing as a second striker alongside Troy Deeney.
His movement and finishing have been spectacular as well and he deserves a place in this side.
ST – Raul Jimenez
The Mexican was signed on loan from Benfica but considering the season he’s had, it’s no surprise that Wolves have signed him on a permanent basis.
His goals and assists have come at crucial times for Nuno’s side as well and he’s been vital in their 7th place finish this season.
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LW – Richarlison
The Brazilian’s goals have been crucial to Marco Silva’s side this season as for the first half, they struggled to find a consistent striker to work with.
Even after he was switched out to the flank, he performance level certainly didn’t drop and he’s been one of the players of the season overall.
Bournemouth’s problems between the sticks would end if they sign this experienced £15m-rated star
Bournemouth Opinion: Cherries should sign Simon Mignolet to replace Begovic
According to Daily Mail, Bournemouth have been linked with Liverpool shot-stopper Simon Mignolet, who is expected to head for the exit door at Anfield this summer after making only a couple of appearances for the Reds in domestic cup competitions this season.
It is understood that Watford want to invest in a younger and more reliable shot-stopper, with Ben Foster, 36, and Heurelho Gomes, 38, nearing the end of their careers. Norwich, on the other hand, are looking for an alternative to current No.1 Tim Krul following the Dutchman’s shaky displays between the sticks in the Championship this past season.
Mignolet joined Liverpool from Sunderland back in 2013 and almost went on to win the Premier League in his very first season at Anfield under the stewardship of Brendan Rodgers.
The 31-year-old retained his position as Liverpool’s undisputed No.1 for four seasons before sharing the goalkeeping duties with Loris Karius in the previous campaign.
However, he has cut an isolated figure on the bench following the arrival of Alisson last summer and a move away from Merseyside would probably be in the best interests of his career.
To put things into perspective, Simon Mignolet is just 31 and he still has plenty to offer at the highest level, meaning that he would possibly be a very good signing for either of the aforementioned clubs.
However, Bournemouth should look to try and win the race for the Belgian this summer in a bid to put a full stop to their goalkeeping woes.
The Cherries have already set the ball rolling in the summer transfer window with the signing of England U21 left-back Lloyd Kelly from Bristol City. While reinforcements in other areas of the pitch are likely to be on Eddie Howe’s mind, the manager should also prioritise the signing of a reliable shot-stopper.
Bournemouth conceded as many as 71 goals in the Premier League this past season, with Fulham and Huddersfield Town being the only other teams to have shipped more goals.
Hence, it is a no-brainer that the Cherries cannot afford to rely on the likes of Asmir Begovic and Artur Boruc, who is going to turn 40 next season. Begovic has looked way too shaky between the sticks in the Premier League this season and he certainly deserves a lion share of the blame for the club’s poor defensive record.
According to Sofascore stats, the Bosnian has committed 5 major errors that have led to goals, which should prompt the club to look for a replacement.
Irish youngster Mark Travers impressed on his Premier League debut in the 1-0 victory over Spurs and while he is likely to be in the mix for a place in the first-team next season, the Cherries need an experienced shot-stopper to plug the gap.
Mignolet has made 204 appearances for Liverpool over the course of 6 years and £15 million for him is reasonable enough, given that the likes of Alisson and Kepa earned mega-money moves to the Premier League last summer.
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Mignolet didn’t feature at all in the Premier League this season but he is still very much capable of playing in English football, and for Bournemouth, he could be an absolute gem of a signing.
Man United’s midfield conundrum needs to be solved and this 26-year-old dynamo would be ideal for that
Manchester United Opinion: Why Solskjaer should sign Abdoulaye Doucoure
Back in March 2018, the Daily Mirror claimed Manchester United were one of a host of Premier League clubs interested in signing Watford’s midfield powerhouse Abdoulaye Doucoure. However, a move didn’t happen and the Frenchman stayed put at Watford.
Abdoulaye Doucoure, 26, has been immense at Vicarage Road this season and bagged five goals and six assists in 35 Premier League games for the Hornets. He has been one of the chief reasons why the Javi Gracia-managed side are in the FA Cup final and did so well in the 2018/19 campaign, even though they finished 11th on the table, following three back-to-back losses.
Manchester United ended the season in sixth position after an embarrassing final day defeat against relegated Cardiff at Old Trafford. That has set the club for upheaval after a season in which the Reds finished 32 points behind champions Manchester City.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side now face the prospect of playing in the Europa League next term after failing to qualify for the Champions League. The 46-year-old United manager faces a major rebuild this summer and will look to strengthen almost every area of the pitch.
One area Solskjaer should definitely address in the summer transfer window is the defence. Other than bringing in defensive reinforcements, he must also get a couple of central midfielders. Ander Herrera has left Old Trafford following the expiry of his contract.
Scott McTominay was the only rare bright spark during the business end of the campaign, as neither Fred nor Andreas Pereira, performed consistently. Herrera’s departure is likely to disturb the balance in midfield next season and Solskjaer should be wise to sign Abdoulaye Doucoure to replace the departed Spaniard.
Doucoure has been one of the most consistent players in the division this season, bossing games alongside Etienne Capoue with his power, passing range, tackling skills and strength. He has successfully managed to impose himself on games, with the midfielder being up to the mark from a technical and tactical point of view.
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The ex-Rennes star is a fearless player, never hesitant to fly into a challenge to break opposition’s play. He can dictate the tempo of the game, drive his team forward and take shots on goal from distance. That’s exactly the kind of signing Solskjaer needs to make to bolster his midfield. It’s easy to see Doucoure would blossom in the midfield trio with McTominay-Fred/Pogba.
Watford will be keen to keep hold of their star midfielder, but they could give up on him if United table a sizeable offer. There’s no doubt Doucoure would also be attracted by the prospect of playing for a club of the stature of United as well.
Forget Everton: Watford would be a better destination for this solid 32-year-old defender – Agreed?
Watford Opinion: Signing Cristian Zapata for free could be a massive coup for the Hornets
The 32-year-old Colombian international has refused to put pen to paper on a new one-year deal at San Siro and has demanded a two-year contract but Milan’s Cheif Executive Ivan Gazidis is reluctant to offer such terms to players above the age of 30. (h/t Calciomercato)
Zapata has been a part of AC Milan’s side for the last seven seasons but his time at San Siro is nearing its end, following a contract stand-off with the club.
Calciomercato understands that Turkish giants Fenerbahce, as well as Brazilian giants Flamengo, are prepared to sign the highly-experienced centre-back on a free transfer this summer.
Regarded as one of the best centre-backs in Europe in his younger days, Zapata has made a total of 148 appearances for the Rossoneri in all competitions till date, scoring 5 goals and assisting a further 6 in the process. He has made 20 appearances for Milan in all competitions this season, including 12 starts in the Serie A.
A full international for Colombia since 2008, Zapata has represented his nation at the 2011, 2015 and 2016 editions of the Copa America, as well as at the 2014 and 2018 FIFA World Cups. He has been capped 56 times by his nation over the course of his illustrious and distinguished career in international football.
To put things into perspective, Cristian Zapata is nearing the twilight of his career at the highest level but he still has plenty of gas left in his tank to play in the Premier League. Of course, he would not play week-in-week-out given his age but few can deny that he is a top-quality defender, who can still be a useful squad player for any English club.
While Everton can look at him as someone who could possibly add depth to their defensive options, following the potential return of loanee Kurt Zouma to Chelsea and the exit of Phil Jagielka, Zapata can also be a good addition to Watford’s defensive ranks. However, the Hornets might have an upper hand in this deal given that Zapata spent six years at Udinese, a club which is also owned by the Pozzo family.
Watford have earned plenty of plaudits for their impressive performances in the Premier League this season but their pursuit of a Europa League qualification spot ended in disappointment, with Javi Gracia’s side finishing 11th in the standings. However, they still have a chance of securing European football next season if they manage to beat Man City in the FA Cup finals tomorrow.
The Hornets can take a lot of heart from the performances of Gerard Deulofeu, Troy Deeney, Abdoulaye Doucoure, Jose Holebas, Etienne Capoue and a few others but they need to sort out their problems at the back. They ended up conceding 59 goals this past season, more than the likes of Everton, Leicester City, Wolves and West Ham, and they cannot afford to do that next term if they are really serious about closing the gap on the top-six.
The likes of Christian Kabasele, Adrian Mariappa and Craig Cathcart have all had plenty of regular minutes with varying degrees of success, often leaving a lot to be desired in terms of marking and positioning. Sebastian Prodl and Miguel Britos have hardly played a role and Watford should consider getting them off their books to accommodate Zapata, who can be an upgrade on them even at 32.
Quick across the ground and very strong in the air, Zapata is not only a physically-dominating centre-back but he is equally good with his reactions, anticipation and game-reading ability.
Known for his athleticism, the Colombian is never afraid to put his body on the line and often rescues his team with crucial blocks and tackles. He has earned plenty of plaudits for his tight marking of the opposition’s strikers over the years and it is not difficult to see why he could be a smart addition to Watford’ ranks.
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That said, Watford should look to try and beat Everton to the signature of Cristian Zapata and getting a player of his calibre on board for absolutely nothing would be a massive coup.
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