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Borussia Dortmund

Man City would pull off an immensely shrewd move by rekindling interest in this immaculate 23-year-old midfielder

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Manchester City Opinion: Why Julian Weigl will be a smart addition for City?

Pep Guardiola has made a massive difference since arriving at Manchester City three years ago. His first season at the Etihad Stadium went trophyless, but there were signs of massive improvement for City. The Spaniard’s philosophy was clear; he has slowly but steadily has got rid of the entire deadwood at the club and replaced them with younger, hungrier talents.

And as things stand, Guardiola has helped Manchester City win back-to-back Premier League titles. The Spanish tactician’s team are on course for an unprecedented treble of domestic trophies this season ahead of the FA Cup final against Watford.

But, the Cityzens were knocked out of the Champions League on away goals at the quarter-final stage by Tottenham this term, after falling to Liverpool at the same round last time around.

The Champions League trophy has eluded Guardiola at City yet again and that could see the Mancunian club look for reinforcements in the summer transfer window. One of the important areas the City manager should look at this summer is the midfield, with Ilkay Gundogan already refusing a new contract at the club.

Gundogan has been one of City’s most important players in their title triumph this season, especially due to Fernandinho’s recurrent injury problems. But he is out of contract at the end of next season and talks over a new deal have stalled and unless that changes quickly, City may have to consider cashing in on the German this summer.

Also, with Fernandinho and David Silva ageing, Guardiola has to plan a massive revamp of his midfield. That said, one player City must look at is Borussia Dortmund midfield anchor Julian Weigl, who was heavily linked with a move to the Etihad last summer.

Julian Weigl, 23, was once regarded as one of the biggest stars of German football after his emergence at 1860 Munich. His performances at 1860 Munich saw him get picked up by Dortmund in 2015 and at the Signal Iduna Park as he established himself as one of the best young midfielders.

However, in the last 18 months or so, the 23-year-old’s stock has gone down. Injuries and lack of form has stalled Weigl’s career at Dortmund, with the 23-year-old managing just managing 25 and 17 league appearances in the past two seasons.

Perhaps, a move away from Dortmund will help the five-cap Germany international revive his career. That being said, Manchester City must reignite their interest and sign Weigl this summer.

Weigl will boost City’s options in midfield, whilst being a potential long-term replacement for Fernandinho. An excellent passer of the ball, the 23-year-old combines his technical qualities with his work rate, energy and vision to dictate the tempo of games.

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He is a clever player, known for his uncanny ability to pick the right passes in the offensive third of the pitch. All in all, Weigl would be a fantastic fit in Pep Guardiola’s system.

Verdict

Weigl is incredibly talented and has a long way to go before he hits prime, which is why Manchester City should take full advantage right now.

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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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NewsNow

Watford signing this experienced 29-year-old centre-back looking to return to the PL would be a smart move

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Watford Opinion: Why the Hornets should go all out to sign Craig Dawson?

According to a report from The Sun, Watford will battle Burnley for the signing of West Brom defender Craig Dawson, who wants a return to the Premier League. They say that the Hornets want to sign a British defender and have identified Dawson as a summer transfer target.

West Brom will play in the Championship again next season after failing to clinch promotion to the Premier League via the playoffs. With no Premier League football for another campaign, Craig Dawson is gearing to leave the Hawthorns.

The 29-year-old, who has been on the books of West Brom since 2010, has one year left on his contract and the Baggies are expected to cash in to help new boss Slaven Bilic rebuild the squad. That being said, Watford should do everything to beat Burnley for Dawson’s signature.

Watford did manage an 11th place finish last season in the Premier League but things could have been much better for the club given the manner in which they started the 2018/19. Their abysmal form in the business end of the season, coupled with the trouncing at the hands of Manchester City in the FA Cup finals should have left Javi Gracia very disappointed.

The Hornets will again look to push for a place in the top-half and preferably compete for the Europa League. And for that to happen, Gracia needs to bring in quality players over the summer to beef up his squad. One area the Spanish tactician should definitely address is the defence.

Watford have released central defender Miguel Britos and Tommie Hoban, while Sebastian Prodl has hinted he’ll leave Vicarage Road this summer due to a lack of opportunities last season. Prodl’s potential departure will further lighten Gracia’s options in defence. That’s where the signing of Craig Dawson would make sense for the Hornets.

Dawson, who did well in the Premier League during his time with West Brom, is a versatile defender, adept at operating at right-back. A tall and strong central defender, the 29-year-old has solid top-flight experience and is capable enough of playing regularly for a mid-table Premier League side.

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Due to his experience, leadership qualities and versatility, Dawson could be such an inspired addition to the Watford ranks.

Verdict

Dawson has proven to be a consistent and reliable defender for West Brom over the last few years and there’s no reason why he cannot replicate that for Watford.

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