England U20s – What are they up to now?

18 months on from their famous World Cup victory in South Korea the England under 20 squad members are older, wiser and should be in a better position to influence their careers as well as the aid the ambitions of the clubs to which they are contracted.

A 1-0 victory over Venezuela in the final not only gave them memories for the rest of their lives, but probably spurred their more senior counterparts to an unexpected run to the Semi Finals in Russia.

England are gaining admirers across Europe in relation to their current crop of home grown talent.

Sancho is doing it at Dortmund and Hudson-Odoi is being tracked by Bayern and its certain that many more will be subject to bids from abroad should these lads no be able to make their mark at home.

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The question is – what are the members of the winning squad up to are these days? We’ve put together an update below…

GK’s

Freddie Woodman

The Newcastle keeper is back up north. After a successful spell with Kilmarnock he is back in the Ladbrokes Premiership with Aberdeen. A promising player in a position that England won’t have trouble with for the next few years. Recipient of the Golden Glove in Korea.

Dean Henderson

Manchester United’s next hot prospect, just a question of will he ever grace the Old Trafford pitch as a red? Currently with Sheffield United and a proper crown favourite.

A loan spell with Shrewsbury saw him help them into the League One Play Off final last season and his early penalty save gave them hope before Rotherham proved too strong.

Reported to be being tracked by some of Europe’s superpowers given his fine performances.

Luke Southwood

The Reading U23 keeper who is yet to make an appearance for the Royals, is currently in the Conference Premier with Eastleigh, a short term loan arrangement.

Defenders

Jonjoe Kenny

The promising right back is one of a number of Everton players in this squad. He has broken into the first team squad and is a definite long term successor to Seamus Coleman. A plus point in the current slump for the side.

Callum Connolly

Currently with struggling Bolton in the Championship but experiences like his current one can be good for a young player. He will be back at Goodison in the summer but most likely to be put out on loan again soon after.

Fikayo Tomori

The Canadian born defender is one of what seems like 100’s out on loan from Chelsea, He is working under the guidance of Blue’s legend Frank Lampard as Derby push for promotion from the Championship. Like many others he will more than likely have to move away from Stamford Bridge to get game time.

Jake Clarke-Slater

Like Tomori a Chelsea “loanee”. Was with Sunderland at the back end of their fatefulNetflix documented campaign although he kept himself out of the limelight. He was then shipped to partner club Vitesse in the Eredivisie for this campaign and made over 20 appearances so far.

Ezri Konsa

Came to prominence at Charlton making over 70 appearances at the heart of the defence. He moved from the Valley to Brentford for a reported £2.5m last summer and has been a virtual ever present for the Bees. A move to a bigger club looks a certainty in the coming years.

Kyle Walker-Peters

The Spurs full back is a squad player at present with just a few mins under his belt. He has not been sent on loan which shows that he is required around Wembley. At a club that doesn’t look like making many signings in the coming windows so he has a chance to make his mark.

Dael Fry

The big 6’4 local lad at Middlesbrough has been used by Tony Pulis this season and will continue to be a bit part player in the coming months. A winner with England at Under 17, 20 and 21 level, impressive.

Midfielders

Lewis Cook

The skipper who hoisted the trophy aloft. He was transferred from Leeds to Bournemouth back in 2016 and is looking like a shrewd investment. His season was cut short pre-Christmas with a nasty cruciate injury, he has a long journey back.

Joshua Onomah

The Spurs man has represented England at a staggering 6 age levels. He has played over 30 games for the North London club and appears to have a future at the new White Hart Lane.Currently at Sheff Wed and under Steve Bruce he could flourish in the coming months.

Ainsley Maitland-Niles

In the Arsenal squad as Emery looks to blood the youth players in various competitions. He recently received social media criticism for his performance at Huddersfield although he was played out of position. Also scored away at Anfield, although sadly it was in a heavy defeat.

Kieran Dowell

Blue through and through, a ball boy at Goodison and idolised Mikel Arteta whilst he was in the academy. Brought in by promotion-chasing Sheffield United to aid their run in towards the Premier League.

A success out at Nottingham Forest last season and looks to be a promising midfielder, needs to be utilised by Everton upon his return.

Sheyi Ojo

The winger seems to have been around for a long time with his multiple loans into the lower leagues.

Helped the currently hopeless Fulham to promotion last season. Although he could end up disappearing into the wilderness.

Ovie Ejaria

Loaned to Rangers to work under former academy coach Gerrard, but deal was cut short suddenly in December with claim he couldn’t settle. Others believe different and an attitude problem may be the true cause.

Like parent club teammate Ojo could slip away, chances at Anfield will be slim to none you’d imagine.

Forwards

Adam Armstrong

After several loans away from Newcastle, Armstrong finally has a permanent home at Blackburn Rovers. He helped them to promotion back to the Championship last season and has continued to cause defences headaches at the higher level. A good footballer.

Dominic Solanke

The Golden Ball winner of the tournament.

After 0 PL appearances for Liverpool this season Solanke signed for Bournemouth early in the January window for a heavy £19m fee, good club to be at but he could be in danger of becoming a wasted talent should he not settle somewhere soon.

Ademola Lookman

Lookman had recently signed for Everton prior to the World Cup, making a handful of appearances before the summer. Post tournament the toffees replaced Koeman with Allardyce who sanctioned a loan to RB Leipzig for Lookman. Back on Merseyside and he’s finding opportunities limited with under-fire Silva despite loud calls from the stands for his inclusion.

Dominic Calvert-Lewin

Figures a lot more at Goodison than Lookman, 20+ appearances this season albeit mainly from the bench. He has an eye for a goal and could turn into a decent top division forward if given the opportunity.

Harrison Chapman

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Like Armstrong he was sent of various loans from the North East, this time from Middlesbrough. Same home as his international teammate though having signed on at Ewood for the next 2.5yrs.

It’s a crucial time for the developing talent in England and having had success on the International stage, it is key that the feel good factor is capitalised on.

Some of these players have found chances limited in favour of foreign imports or more experienced heads.

Quite simply these young footballers need more faith placed in them, some of these clubs have ready-made talent at their disposal yet are still choosing to spend millions and looking elsewhere.

England cannot miss this opportunity.

England U20 squad image sourced from; www.premierleague.com
England U20 World Cup win image sourced from; www.en.aus.com

Borussia Dortmund

With the black and yellows 6 points clear at the top of the Bundesliga – with just 1 loss to their name this season, the news this week of the sale of USA international Christian Pulisic to Chelsea may have rocked may a football club. Not Borussia Dortmund.

With the promise of nearly £60m on its way from Stamford Bridge, an agreement was reached to allow their number 22 to hang around on loan until the end of a season which is looking to be a successful one.

After the departure of Pulisic in the summer their squad will still boast the likes of Gotze, Reus, Witsel, Alcacer and of course the exciting talent that is Jadon Sancho.

The particular emergence of the young Englishman has been quicker than expected, his quick feet and ability to take men on has seen him very much in the manager Lucien Favre’s plans, without pre-empting fate its seen that Sancho will prove to be another player that they can cash in on for tremendous profit.

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Borussia Dortmund have seen some of the world’s best footballers come through their doors in the last few years but incredibly the Bundesliga side seem to get stronger.

They rarely stand in the way of their “want away” stars as they can drive a hard bargain and re-invest profit into their future.

Just look at these 5 key outgoings from previous seasons:-

Player Bought For Sold For Profit
Ousmane Dembele €15m €145m €130m
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang €14m €63m €49m
Henrikh Mkhitaryan €13m €42m €29m
Mats Hummels €4m €35m €31m
Ilkay Gundogan €4m €27m €23m
€262m

Frustratingly Lewandowski and Goetze (now returned) walked away on free transfers, a lesson learned it would seem given Pulisic was due to walk away on a free next summer before the transfer to the Premier League was sealed.

Other recent notable sales include Sokratis (Arsenal), Ginter (Monchengladbach) & Bender (Leverkusen).

Along with their Bundesliga cushion they have topped a Champions League group that contained Atletico Madrid and have a last 16 tie with Spurs to look forward to. A tie they’ll see as winnable and progression to the latter stages.

2018 / 19 is looking remarkably promising and this will further impress any targets they choose to pursue with the Chelsea cash for Pulisic, maybe a late bid to snatch you Hudson-Odoi from Bayern and add to their English contingent?

The last 8 seasons have seen Borussia claim 2 league titles, 2 German cups and also seen them victorious in 2 DFL Supercups. Combine this with multiple runners up accolades and they don’t appear to be stopped despite their decisions to allow their prized assets to leave.

Their south bank or “yellow wall” as it’s been nicknamed, is one of the most mesmerising sights in the game when over 24k are making themselves heard.

They simply show true German grit and look to move on as a club whilst gracefully accepting the riches from others around Europe.

Borussia Dortmund are a fine example of a football club.

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Jadon Sancho image sourced from; www.goal.com
Borussia Dortmund Stadium image sourced from; www.youtube.com

Jan 17 Transfer Window – Who needs what?…SPFL edition

The transfer window is fully OPEN!

Scotland is one of the most oddly run football associations in Europe and this is shown in the split between the top division and the rest. Whilst Hibs & Dundee United were contesting a top of the table clash in the extremely competitive Championship, the Ladbrokes Premiership sides have just returned from sunning themselves on a winter break.

This means that any significant transfer activity is in full swing now those planes have landed back at Glasgow or Edinburgh airport over the past few days.

Before the phones start ringing and agents start taking their barely-earned commission cuts we thought we’d run through the leagues and advise who needs what.

The Ladbrokes Premiership is all but over, Brendan Rodgers’ Celtic are currently 19 points clear of the chasing pack but that won’t stop the former Liverpool gaffer spending. The Glasgow giants will bring in a couple of new faces and don’t be surprised to see a relatively big name arrive on loan.

Rumours of Everton’s James McCarthy could prove true however we see a squad being built for a further assault on next seasons Champions League.

The best of the rest include Rangers, Aberdeen and Ian Cathro’s Hearts. The latter has promised a squad overhaul and with his contacts in Spain and the North East, you wouldn’t bet against some known names arriving. Aaron Hughes has already arrived at Tynecastle to add experience and stability to their backline.

The biggest internal transfer could see Niall McGinn move from Aberdeen to Hearts on a pre-contract agreement. A strange one in our opinion, as surely the Northern Irishman will have offers from English Championship clubs as well as abroad.

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Rangers need miracles to close the gap on their nearest and dearest across the City. In a previous article we stated that Mark Warburton is not the man for Ibrox and our thoughts haven’t changed. He will not pinpoint nor attract the correct players for the job, in Scotland 2nd is nowhere…3rd or 4th is unforgivable!

Down at the bottom is where we’ll see the season defining signings with just 6 points separating 6 teams.

Lee Clark has raided his old stomping ground at Newcastle for some loans. ICT will need to either stick or twist with Ritchie Foran in the hope he can find a striker to fire them to safety and Hamilton need to hang onto Ali Crawford to have any chance of remaining in the top tier.

Dundee have enough talent to keep their heads above water, as do Motherwell. However with Sam Allardyce lining up a £500K bid for 12 goal Moult, the Fir Park men will need to reinvest some capital in a key area.

Dropping down a division brings us to the hotly contested Championship. Hibs have already played their cards bringing in Kris Commons and former PNE winger Chris Humphrey, truth be told – they are both too good for this level and give Lennon’s men a significant advantage. Dundee United will need to respond to the business done in Edinburgh and respond quickly they have by recruiting Danish hitman Thomas Mikkelsen, further bodies are required to keep up with the Scottish Cup holders however.

The chasing quartet include an improving Morton and an in-form Dunfermline who will look to build on solid seasons and cement a place in the end of season play offs. A goal scorer to cover for the injured Quitongo in Greenock and a midfield engine, to add to the impressive Callum Morris capture at East End Park are on the respective wish lists.

Over at Peter Houston’s Falkirk they will be keen to hold onto Craig Sibbald whilst bringing in a loan from the top division to add squad depth.

At the foot of the table Jack Ross’ St Mirren are 7 adrift and no amount of incomings are likely to bridge the current gap.

Into Scottish League One and it’s defenders that are required all over! Every club has conceded more goals than games they have played. Livingston will look to capitalise on their current 9 point lead by holding onto top scorer Liam Buchanan, a potential sale of youngster Matthew Knox to Man Utd could provide some much needed investment if they’re to step up a level next season.

Similar to the Premiership, the chasing pack are all closely bunched. Alloa were our pre-season tips for promotion, so we’ll stick with them to challenge. Spence and Kirkpatrick are scoring the goals but they need to keep them out at the back to maintain a push. Mark Wilson could well be calling in some favours from former club Celtic to bring some young talent to aid an Airdrieonians promotion tilt.

Stenhousemuir sit 2nd bottom and are deep in relegation trouble (just as we predicted back in August) they will need to recruit to have any chance of survival.

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Last but not least we move to the lower reaches of the Scottish football pyramid, League Two.

Pre-season favourites Forfar are leading the way as expected and Gary Bollan will be satisfied with his squad, we cannot foresee any additions at Station Park.

Elgin will need to ensure that they hold onto Shane Sutherland to ensure a play-off spot come May and the rest of the league is open to change every single week. Currently the bottom 4 teams are separated by just a single win, money is null so it’s going to be make do with what you have and hope you do enough to survive from Stirling to Berwick.

Niall McGinn image is sourced from; Aberdeenjournals
Alloa and Airdrie image is sourced from; www.dailyrecord.co.uk

Paul Pogba – Is he Worth it?

It took what felt like an eternity, but in the early hours of Tuesday 9th of August the new world record fee had been paid for Paul Labile Pogba.

Man Utd have signed a world class player and to seal the deal you need to pay a world class fee.

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A man who was let go by the Old Trafford side just 4 years ago for a reported £800K after Sir Alex took a dislike to demands being asked by Pogba’s representatives.

£89,000,000 was sent between accounts in Manchester and Turin for the French international midfielder with one main question being asked post completion…Is he worth it?

The answer is a simple yes and allow us to explain why.

Since leaving Manchester and making his debut for Juve in Sept 2012, he has been their stand out performer from the middle of the park. His stats for his 4 seasons in Italy make for impressive reading:-

Season Apps Goals Honours
2012-13 37 5 Serie A Title
2013-14 51 9 Serie A Title / Supercoppa Italiana
2014-15 41 10 Serie A Title / Coppa Italia
2015-16 49 10 Serie A Title / Coppa Italia / Supercoppa Italiana

Add into this an unexpected Champions League final appearance in 2015 and 8 high ranking individual accolades and you have a serial winner.

The Premier League is on course to break the £1billion barrier for the 1st time in the current window and with that, it’s fair to say that we live in a world of scary and shocking transfer fees. Take a look at some of the players and attached fees, some of these make the Pogba deal look more than shrewd.

  • Yannik Bolasie £25m – An inconsistent winger
  • James Chester £9m – A defender deemed surplus at West Brom
  • Gonzalo Higuain £75m – A goal scorer but absent in the biggest games
  • All Chinese Super League inbound transfers – Pure madness!

Pogba has matured into a genuine world class footballer and is now at one of the biggest clubs in the world once again. His name will drive up shirt sales, attract new sponsors, gain additional fans and raise the clubs’ profile even further.

£89m will prove a drop in the ocean spread over the next 7-10 years that you’d expect him to wear the red of Manchester. Also combine the deal with the free transfer of Zlatan and you have an enviable summer window.

Paul Pogba is worth every penny paid by Man Utd!

Burnley Manager Sean Dyche gave a frank and honest interview on Talk Sport recently, something we would encourage all to find and listen to. In the midst of Dyche detailing the media fascinations with foreign coaches and training methods he spoke about transfer fees. Burnley cut their cloth accordingly and simply cannot over spend. He stated that an unnamed club quoted a fee for a player but were open enough to tell the Turf Moor outfit to add £2m to the price, purely because they were a Premier League side. Now you could call this jealousy, but let’s be honest it’s just chairmen out to grab a share of the well documented riches. If top tier clubs get top tier money then you’re going to have to expect to pay inflated prices.

Ultimately no footballer is worth £89m and realistically no footballer is worth £20m but the TV money controls the game at the highest level .

Expect the record Pogba fee to stand for a time but certainly not for a long one. You have to wonder who is going to be the £100m player in the not too distant future.

Zlatan – Coming to a ground near you?

Sunday 13th March 2016, the day that PSG clinched the Ligue1 Championship for a 4th successive season, also the day the Zlatan Ibrahimovic confirmed that he will be moving on from the French Capital after a 4 year stay. The title win was his 10th trophy at Parc des Princes since his unveiling in July 2012.

The official quote of “for the moment, I will not be at PSG next season. I still have a month and a half left here” will have set chairmen all over Europe searching for enough room in their budgets for the Sweden captain. He did however go on to say “if they replace the Eiffel Tower with a statue of me, then I will stay.” With all the ego in the world, I’m sure he was being serious too!

Zlatan-Eiffel-Tower

He has competed at the top level in Sweden, Holland, Italy, Spain and France. He can state Malmo, Ajax, Juventus, Inter & AC Milan, Barcelona and PSG as his club sides. Add into this his 111 Sweden caps, 27 trophies and you have 1 illustrious career.

So, the key question…Where is he going to be playing his football next season?

There are 4 possible destinations but the obvious and most exciting one would be the English Premier League. You can’t see Bayern or Dortmund requiring his services so that rules out Germany and we feel it far too soon in his career for moves to the MLS or China.

The Premier League for all of its merits does lack some genuine world class players and all of the top clubs will be scrambling for Ibrahimovic. His 102 goals in 115 games in Paris prove he still has what it takes, including 2 against Chelsea in the recent Champions League tie for anyone that questions France as a weaker league.

With the man being available on a free transfer, the high wages that the man himself will command will be acceptable due to the lack of transfer fee.

The usual suspects will be linked and you’ll struggle to create a compelling argument as to which side he wouldn’t improve. Given the way this season has gone domestically there will be 1 or 2 surprise destinations mentioned.

How about West Ham? London living, new Olympic stadium and European football ticks all the boxes Ibrahimovic and Payet certainly creates excitement.

Champions Laegue - "Manchester United v PSV Eindhoven"

Taking a sensible look at it however it has to be… Manchester United.

They need a striker, someone who can take an amount of pressure from Rooney as the main man. Perhaps more importantly he can act as a tutor to Martial and Rashford. He would instantly be a cult hero and could provide a low risk big name signing for the expected new manager in charge at Old Trafford.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic is made for the Theatre Of Dreams.

We hope to see the mercurial talent on Match Of The Day soon, just not being judged by the likes of Jason Roberts or John Hartson!

Zlatan Eiffel Tower Image sourced from; www.mirror.co.uk/sport
Zlatan Manchester United Image sourced from; www.thedailymail.co.uk/sport/football

The January Transfer Window – Who Needs What?

The festive season has come and gone, we’ve eaten and drank our weight multiple times over and December coming to an end means one thing…..the January transfer window is now OPEN!

So with that in mind, we are going to take a look at teams from various leagues and in various predicaments.

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We are going to summarise what they need and who they need to hold onto in order to prolong, challenge for honours or in some cases save their 2015-16 season.

Man Utd
Where to start with the world famous Red Devils?!

LVG has already spent over £250Mil and achieved no more than the sacked Scot David Moyes. I would question the Old Trafford’s board decision to give him much more money, but they do need at least 1 position filled.

The post Fergie era has been slightly worse than expected but transition was inevitable, Champions League qualification is the minimum but even that is in danger.

Cole, Yorke, Sheringham, Van Nistelrooy….where is United’s lethal feared finisher?

What do they need -A proven striker is a must, Higuain or Zlatan could be achievable.

Higuain-Image

Aberdeen
There may well just be a sustained title challenge to Celtic this year.

Aberdeen will stutter and drop points that the Glasgow giants won’t, however we are in January and they are only 3 points behind.

Derek McInnes will be a wanted man come the end of the season for sure so this could be a big few months for the former Rangers man.

They are too reliant on a couple of players (like most SPL clubs) but need to add a touch more quality to pull away from the rest and closer to the top.

What do they need – A back up striker to take the pressure from Adam Rooney.
Who can’t they afford to lose – Niall McGinn.

Sheff Wed
One of the “big” clubs still plying their trade in the 2nd tier, this season however is looking different for the Owls.

Currently one place outside the play offs they have a real chance of being in the end of season shake up to return to the bright lights of the Premier League.

Carlos Carvalhal’s men are strong in certain areas of the park but are missing a bit of squad depth for the final few weeks of the season.

They could do with adding 3-4 players, if they can find the right ones to add to the underappreciated players they currently have in the side.

Ashley Westwood, Michael Turner, Sam Hutchinson & Fernando Forestieri provide a fantastic spine for a team at this level.

What do they need – A creative / goalscoring midfielder such as Alan Judge at Brentford.
– A winger to provide needed width
– Centre half cover

Sunderland

The Black Cats are more than likely in a “sell before you buy” situation.

They have a lot of squad players picking up good money who have been purchased by many previous bosses. This is a club who pays Patrick Van Aanholt to play football!

Looking at the players available Sunderland do have a decent Premier League forward line. Defoe, Fletcher and Borini should score enough to win the club points when they are needed. It’s the other areas of the pitch that are the problem.

I can see the likes of Danny Graham, Adam Matthews and Will Buckley heading for the exit door.

One thing is for sure though, Big Sam will bring in trusted and experienced players in order to help beat the drop.

What do they need – A good centre half (O’Shea, Brown,Coates and Kaboul provide poor options)
– Full back cover left and right
-A winger to put the ball in the box

Who can’t they afford to lose – Jermain Defoe for goals and Lee Cattermole due to suspension!

James Tomkins is someone Big Sam would trust and could sign.James-Tomkins

Coventry City

Finally the Sky Blues appear to be on the right track back up the leagues. After being relegated to League One in 2012 they have a serious chance of promotion back to the Championship, a level at which a club of this stature should be operating.

Tony Mowbray has done a great job since taking over in March 2015, Keeping them up before taking them into the play off places.

Youth mixed with experience is a great balance at this level and they have that in abundance at the Ricoh Arena.

What do they need – A striker to share the responsibility with Adam Armstrong
– A permanent deal for Joe Cole, amazing player to have in the dressing room

Who can’t they afford to lose – Adam Armstrong, 16 goals in 22 games speaks for itself

Cases could have been made for Aston Villa, Bolton Wanderers, Crewe Alexandra and Dundee United however I’m afraid all of your seasons look to be beyond salvation.

Whatever happens we are sure to see records broken, last minute deals and panic buys between now and 11pm on February 1st.

We all love it really.

Transfer Window Image Sourced From; www.skysports.com
Higuain & Ibrahimovic Image Sourced From; www.gettyimages.com
James Tomkins Image Sourced From; www.express.co.uk/sport