Liverpool have been one of the most unpredictable sides in the Premier League this season, looking like potential title-winners one minute and relegation candidates the next.
Brendan Rodgers has laid the foundations of a potentially excellent side, but there are certain areas of the pitch that definitely need addressing in the summer if they are to challenge for the top four next time around.
Jose Enrique is a solid player who is more than good enough to be in Liverpool’s squad, but is he consistent enough to be first-choice? I’m not so sure. He is capable of having great games and awful games one after the other, and when he is pitted against a lightning fast winger he struggles. Leighton Baines would be a prefect signing, but the chances of him joining Everton’s biggest rivals are slim to say the least. Davide Santon of Newcastle is another possibility.
With Steven Gerrard and Lucas Leiva in defensive midfield, that is as strong as any duo in the Premier League, but they lack creativity in the center behind the striker. They don’t have a Juan Mata, David Silva or Santi Cazorla. Christian Eriksen has been heavily linked, and he would be a great signing. Players like Jordan Henderson and Joe Allen will do a job there but are not good enough to play there week in week out, while Luis Suarez is wasted if he plays there.
The addition of Philippe Coutinho has been an excellent one, but Rodgers still needs more depth out wide. Stewart Downing has improved in the last few months but he does not represent the solution to their width issues. Newcastle’s Hatem Ben Arfa is a player who Rodgers is believed to be interested in, and he would be a superb signing for the club. Daniel Sturridge can be used out wide but is more effective centrally.
In addition to these three key areas that need improving, Liverpool simply need a stronger squad. The quality they bring off the bench is not a patch on most of their rivals, and Rodgers needs to bring in 5 or 6 new faces at the end of the season.
Matt Miazga is back again in the Netherlands.
Chelsea announced Friday that it had loaned the American international to Vitesse for the second-consecutive year on a season-long loan. Miazga made 19 starts last season in all competitions and another 10 appearances for Vitesse off the bench, with one goal scored in the run to the KNVB Cup title, the club’s first in its history,
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Despite his rise through the U.S. youth ranks and success with the New York Red Bulls in 2015 before moving to Chelsea, Miazga only made his first U.S. Men’s National Team start at the 2017 Gold Cup, playing the full 90 in the USA’s 3-0 win over Nicaragua.
Miazga went straight from the Gold Cup back to Vitesse to join up for preseason training.
“I look back with pleasure on my first year at Vitesse,” the 22-year-old Miazga told Vitesse’s website. “I felt very welcome and we have all made historic success. That success will be expanded this coming season and I will continue to develop myself. That’s why I returned as soon as possible after winning the Gold Cup. We are going to compete for the second prize in the club’s history. ”
While it’s disappointing that Miazga won’t be able to challenge for a place at Chelsea next season, he could do worse than facing the challenge of the Eredivisie’s huge array of talented attackers, and after another year of seasoning, he could be ready to play in England, with or without Chelsea.
More importantly for him, with the World Cup coming up, even though he’s on the fringe of the World Cup roster right now, getting regular matches in the Eredivisie will help his cause more than playing for Chelsea’s reserves.
Christian Pulisic isn’t short on confidence these days.
The rising star for the U.S. Men’s National Team is currently in preseason training with Borussia Dortmund, and he believes his side can push Bayern Munich for the title. Bayern has won five-straight league titles, but the last team other than Munich to win was Dortmund itself in 2012.
“We’ve got a big chance to win the league this coming season,” Pulisic said, via German publication Kicker.
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Pulisic has been firing on all cylinders so far in preseason. During Dortmund’s tour of China, Pulisic had three assists in a 3-1 win over AC Milan, and he also started and went the full 90 against Bochum on July 22 back in Germany.
The 18-year-old is coming off a breakout season for the Black and Yellows, scoring five goals with 13 assists over 43 games between the Bundesliga, German Cup and UEFA Champions League.
“Last season was a good step in my development,” Pulisic said, noting he wants to be “more dangerous” in the attack. “I want to build on that.”
Of course, Pulisic followed the U.S. Men’s National Team at the Gold Cup, taking the title for the sixth time. In less than a year’s time, Pulisic will likely be on the field, starting for the U.S. at the 2018 World Cup in Russia, with the hopes and dreams of many Americans on his shoulders.
“(It was) a good victory,” Pulisic said of the final.
It appears Gareth Bale has no plans of following Alvaro Morata and James Rodriguez out of Real Madrid this summer.
“It’s a ridiculous, stupid story,” Bale’s agent Jonathan Barnett told the BBC, following reports that Real Madrid manager Zinedine Zidane wouldn’t promise Bale, Karim Benzema and Cristiano Ronaldo that they’d staying with the club this summer.
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Of course, these prompted counter reports that Manchester United could take advantage of possible instability at the Santiago Bernabeu and swoop in for Bale, but it seems that Bale is not for sale.
Bale played just 27 times for Real Madrid last season in all competitions, scoring nine goals with three assists while dealing with multiple injuries. His entire career at Real Madrid in fact has been plagued by injury, but ahead of a World Cup year with Wales still in contention for a spot in Russia, Bale will be extra motivated to stay fit this season.
Here’s some more transfer rumors from around the world:
Neymar just won’t stay out of the headlines.
As his long-rumored “will he, won’t he go” transfer saga between Paris Saint-Germain and Barcelona continues, Neymar stormed out of training on Thursday after getting into a tussle with teammate Nelson Semedo.
A video from the Daily Mail shows Neymar pushing Semedo before walking off and removing his training bib.
Neymar has reportedly agreed to personal terms with PSG over a move to France, but PSG have yet to come up with the nearly $260 million it would cost to trigger Neymar’s release clause. The news of Neymar possibly leaving Barcelona came as a shock, as he’s been content since joining the club to play slightly in the shadow of teammates Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez.
If this fight is any indication, Neymar’s head could be turned and should PSG trigger the release clause, Neymar could be heading to Paris once Barcelona returns this weekend from its American sojourn.
In spite of all the transfer speculation, Neymar has dazzled for Barcelona on its tour of the U.S., scoring three goals in two games and delighting the thousands in attendance.