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Report: Man United to target Rose, other full backs this summer

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Jose Mourinho has identified perhaps the most underrated position on the pitch as a place he needs to upgrade his squad this summer.

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According to a report from The Guardian, the Manchester United manager is looking to sign Tottenham wing back Danny Rose and potentially another full back in the summer transfer window. With Luke Shaw likely to leave the club, Mourinho is left with incumbents left back Ashley Young and right back Antonio Valencia, both on the wrong side of 30-years old and both converted wingers playing out-of-position.

Mourinho last December decried crosstown rivals Man City for spending more than $140 million to sign wing backs Benjamin Mendy and Kyle Walker last summer. Though Mendy missed most of the season with a torn ACL, Walker and fellow outside back Danilo helped give Man City’s attack another dimension out wide, as the wing backs in the 3-4-3 or Man City’s 4-1-4-1 with Fernandinho dropping back into the centerback pairing become ever more important.

Rose has had a contentious last 18-months or so at Tottenham and could be looking to leave this summer. But it will likely take a bid north of $75 million, around what it cost Man City to sign Walker last summer, to buy Rose out of his Tottenham contract.

Matteo Darmian meanwhile, another potential outside back for Man United, could also be departing the club this summer, as Man United looks to replenish its side.

Roundtable: Can Man City create dynasty?

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As we continue to break down Manchester City’s Premier League title-winning season, it is time to look at some bigger picture questions around Pep Guardiola‘s latest masterpiece.

Is he creating a dynasty? Where does this City team rank, all-time? How can they improve?

[ MORE: PST’s coverage of Man City’s title win ]

With that in mind the Pro Soccer Talk got together in a roundtable format to discuss Man City’s title win. Here it goes…


What has been the most impressive thing about this Man City team this season?

Joe Prince-Wright: The way Pep’s tactics and philosophy have clicked into place. That doesn’t just happen. City were a long way off a Pep team last season but it takes hard work on the training ground on the small details and all of the players to buy into Pep’s philosophy. They did and it worked splendidly well.

Nick Mendola: The consistent dominance in the deepest league in the world. Forget style for a moment and look at the numbers.

Kyle Bonn: I would have to say the team’s grasp of Pep’s tactics. Last season they just flat out didn’t get it. It never clicked, and that seemed like a huge problem going forward into the long-term. But this year, they’ve slapped the puzzle together and made it work in pretty stunning fashion considering how out of sync things appeared last year.

Dan Karell: (Until recently), it’s been the overall consistency in league play. Man City was dominant from the start and aside from this recent run of form, it has remained the dominant force in the Premier League.


Does the amount of money Guardiola has spent take away from their achievement?

Prince-Wright: A little. It will always be there with City because they’ve come such a long way in such a short space of time and that is down to the huge financial backing from Abu Dhabi. Still, you can chuck money at it whatever way you like (ahem, Man United…) and it doesn’t guarantee success. Guardiola has a plan and he has been lucky enough, as he often says, to acquire top players who can carry out what he wants.

Mendola: It’s a ton of dough, yes, and outspending rivals should make a team the favorite to win the league… but I have a hard time saying a couple hundred million bucks is the reason a team won the league in such impressive fashion with a month-and-a-half to spare.

Bonn: I don’t believe so no. Many top teams in the Premie League either spend similar amounts or at least have the means to do so. It’s easy to nitpick amounts spent, but it’s still very hard to dominate such a competitive league the way they have.

Karell: Not at all. If you want to win in world soccer, you pretty much have to spend, and Man City has not only spent big but spent smartly. Also consider that one of the biggest signings for Man City, Benjamin Mendy, has missed the entire season with a torn ACL and is just returning to fitness.


Are we seeing the start of a new dynasty in the PL? Three titles in seven seasons is impressive, but does it feel like they can easily repeat this success for the next few years?

Prince-Wright: It does. It really does. Manchester United and Chelsea are the only teams to win back-to-back titles in the PL era (United won it three times on the spin twice) but no team has successfully defended their title in a decade. That shows how competitive it is each season and in City’s case they didn’t do well at all the season after winning their first two PL trophies. This feels different and given the finances Pep will get to spend this summer to make City into genuine favorites for the Champions League, plus the likes of Sterling, Sane and Ederson all being so young, there is a real possibility they will dominate the PL for many years to come.

Mendola: Maybe, sure, but the amount of money being spent by Chelsea and Manchester United isn’t going to die down, and Liverpool, Arsenal, Everton, Spurs… there are a lot of teams who can catch fire for a season.

Bonn: No. Dynasty doesn’t fit Manchester City’s success. Obviously much of how the league views City also has to do with their success in Europe, which at this point is minimal. Especially this year potentially going down to a Premier League team paints them as beatable. It feels like ages ago that Sergio Aguero’s miracle goal won them the league, and they have plenty of work ahead to establish themselves as a “dynasty” like Sir Alex Ferguson’s Manchester United did.

Karell: Maybe. This team definitely has some legit pieces who could win titles for many years, but there are still questions about some of the older players and whether they can keep up the pace in the future. Leroy Sane and Raheem Sterling will be around for years as will Kevin De Bruyne, but Vincent Kompany, Sergio Aguero and Fernandinho are all on the wrong side of 30 and play in crucial positions in the spine of the team. Finding replacements for them (though Gabriel Jesus seems terrific so far) will be necessary for Pep Guardiola to keep this team at the top of the Premier League


Which player has been the most important for City this season?

Prince-Wright: I want to say Kevin de Bruyne, and it probably has been, but I’m going with David Silva. You can pick KDB, Leroy Sane, Raheem Sterling, Ederson, Aguero… they’ve all been very important in their own ways. But Silva has made everything tick and his play has set the tone for the entire team. Defenders give him the ball and he gets things going from that slightly deeper role and he’s still found time to pop up in the box and score or assist. KDB has been the star but City aren’t the same team when Silva is missing.

Mendola: It’s Kevin De Bruyne, though there’s an argument to be made for Leroy Sane. The German on the left side has been the target for so much of Guardiola’s attack. And whatever freedom De Bruyne can manage, often on the right, is somewhat tied to that.

Bonn: Ederson. A ball-playing goalkeeper is so important to Pep’s system, but also that goalkeeper must be, you know, a good goalkeeper. This is where Claudio Bravo failed, and it was a massive problem. Now that Ederson has the goal locked up *and* can play the team out of the back to perfection, the ball movement flows beautifully.

Karell: It’s got to be Kevin de Bruyne. The Belgian has been a maestro in the midfield and thanks to Fernandinho’s strong work cleaning up loose balls behind him, de Bruyne has the freedom to create and set the tempo, leading to goals goals goals.


And which new arrival has had the biggest impact in their debut campaign at the Etihad?

Prince-Wright: Ederson. His array of passing with his feet is unreal. Kyle Walker has done well too but the Brazilian goalkeeper was the calm, possession based stopper Pep wanted after the Claudio Bravo experiment went badly wrong. If you want to find out more about Ederson, here’s a piece on him from myself after I met him earlier this season.

Mendola: Ederson, who exemplified Guardiola’s plans for the goalkeeper position (and showed us why Claudio Bravo was a thought). It might’ve been Benjamin Mendy or Aymeric Laporte with health and a full season, but it’s certainly not Kyle Walker and neither Danilo nor Bernardo Silva played enough to make it count.

Bonn: Ederson, clearly. But at the risk of repeating myself, I’ll pick someone new to talk about here. Kyle Walker was a no-brainer for Pep to snatch and slide right into his system, and it’s gone exactly how most would have expected: brilliantly. Walker is a perfect fit for Pep’s style, and his importance to the squad can’t be overstated

Karell: Ederson. He’s come in and completely dominated the position, ensuring that Claudio Bravo wouldn’t play again. Not only a gifted goalkeeper defensively, Ederson’s ability to pick out a pass from 50+ yards away has effectively given Man City an extra midfielder on a field full of them.


Be honest, after last season did you think it would be possible for Guardiola’s team to dominate this league by sticking to his playing philosophy?

Prince-Wright: No. I didn’t think they could do it. I picked City to win the league but winning it is one thing and winning it with this style is another. A joy to watch.

Mendola: Dominate? No, but there was enough in how they played to imagine they’d be able to contend for the title this season. Kudos to City’s hierarchy for not flipping their collective lid after finishing 15 points behind Chelsea’s first year boss last season.

Bonn: Nope. Not one bit. Between their lack of understanding of the tactical setup and their inability to defend, there was no reason to think this team would end up here.

Karell: Yes. I predicted from the start that Man City would win the Premier League and they lived up to the lofty expectations set by fans and the media (and they themselves, surely). Man City was the best team on paper coming into the season and they proved it on the field too, playing their way.


Where, if anywhere, can this Man City team improve? Where do they need to add new players in the summer?

Prince-Wright: Bringing in Fred to be the long-term replacement for Fernandinho is a good move and I still think they need another new center back with Vincent Kompany not getting any younger and John Stones struggling. Apart from that, pretty set, but they have to keep an eye on the Sergio Aguero situation with the Argentine stating again he will leave in 2020 at the end of his contract to go back to Independiente.

Mendola: Benjamin Mendy returning to health fixes the left back issue, and competition for Kyle Walker at right back isn’t a bad idea. I’d vote for improvements on John Stones and either growth from or competition for young Gabriel Jesus behind Sergio Aguero (who is 29).

Bonn: They probably need to thin the wing-back ranks to get more consistency, but also they need another striker. They’re lucky Sergio Aguero has made it through the season unscathed, because the squad lacks another target man. With Aguero about to summit 30, they could use the insurance. Also, the midfield could use some support as Fernandinho has been spectacular so far but he has nobody who can play that role and Gundogan is injury prone.

Karell: Of course they can improve. The fact that the team was winning games 4-0 and 5-0 masked some defensive issues and they certainly need to get younger in their spine, with Sergio Aguero, Fernandinho and Vincent Kompany all 30-years old or older.


Finally, where will this City team go down, all-time, in PL history? The best team ever?

Prince-Wright: Third best behind the Invincibles and United’s 1998/99 side. Chelsea’s great teams will be in the conversation too but we always remember the more stylish teams and City fall into that bracket. If they had won the UCL, then they would’ve been the best PL team ever.

Mendola: Just behind Arsenal’s Invincibles and United’s 1998/99 squad? Chelsea worth a shout? It’s either The Invincibles or this team, and I’m leaning heavily toward City. Arsenal’s unbeaten team dropped points 12 times despite finishing the league season unbeaten, and City is already 20 goals worth of differential ahead of their pace. The style is similar, but the league is better and deeper now. This season is nuts.

Bonn: It’s hard to slide then in anywhere definitively at this point, but I think they slide in around 3rd. Really tough to argue they go anywhere below that given the sheer dominance. I don’t think they make it above the Invincibles, but they would be a good battle for Man United in the late 90’s or Chelsea’s 04/05 team.

Karell: I think they’re certainly in the top 5 of the Premier League’s history of teams. Their offensive dominance and flair for the beautiful has been fun to watch. I think they’re behind the 04/05 Chelsea team and Arsenal Invincibles but it’s certainly a ridiculously good team and one that will be talked about for many years to come.

Biggest snubs in Premier League Team of the Year

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With 11 players announced for the PFA Premier League Team of the Year on Wednesday, there is plenty of debate flying around about who deserved to make it and which players were snubbed.

[ MORE: USMNT to play England ]

Bearing that in mind, below is a look at some of the biggest snubs as five players from Man City made it in the team, three for Tottenham and one each from Man United, Chelsea and Liverpool.


Goalkeepers
David De Gea is a worthy selection in the PFA Team of the Year for the fourth-straight season, but Man City’s Ederson will have been a little disappointed. The Brazilian has made a huge difference to City’s defense and ever single defender seems more confident with him in goal, even if he takes risks with his exceptional range of passing. Nick Pope has also had a great season for Burnley after standing in for the injured Tom Heaton.

Defenders
You can’t argue with Kyle Walker at right back. He’s been solid all season long and although Antonio Valencia and Kieran Trippier have been steady, they don’t have the same attacking impact as Walker. As for central defenders, well, Nicolas Otamendi and Jan Vertonghen getting in wasn’t really a surprise such was the lack of competition in that area. Cesar Azpilicueta and James Tarkowski will feel hard done by, while Virgil Van Dijk has had a strong start to life at Liverpool since arriving at Anfield in January. Otamendi deserves it, but if Toby Alderweireld was fit and playing regularly then he may have been selected over Vertonghen. At left back there aren’t many options and if Benjamin Mendy was fit he would’ve been a strong contender. Ashley Young has been great this season and Andrew Robertson from Liverpool must have been close, such was Robertson’s strong second half of the campaign after becoming a regular.

Midfielders
The only other player you could say should’ve made this midfield is Fernandinho. His destructive style laid the foundation for Kevin De Bruyne and David Silva to be otherworldly (and get in the PFA Team), yet Christian Eriksen has been immense for Spurs and probably deserves to just edge in ahead of Fernandinho. Nemanja Matic‘s strong start should be noted, as to should N'Golo Kante plodding along nicely and Eden Hazard, on his day, ripping teams apart.

Forwards
Mohamed Salah and Harry Kane simply had to be in this team, and they are. Yet the other spot is a real tricky one. Sergio Aguero got the nod as the third striker and with the Argentine waiting seven seasons to get in a PFA TOTY, now was his time as he has 143 goals in 206 PL appearances. AKA the best minutes per goal rate in PL history. Yet when you look around the league, the likes of Roberto Firmino, Sadio Mane, Raheem Sterling and Leroy Sane will feel aggrieved to not get in this team. Perhaps Sane and Sterling could’ve been in midfield over Eriksen, while Firmino and Mane have been outshone by Salah’s goalscoring but have been hugely important in Liverpool’s fine season. You can only pick 11 players and you can make a solid argument that at least seven forwards deserved a spot…

Who has improved the most under Guardiola at Man City?

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Which three players have benefited the most from Pep Guardiola‘s guidance this season?

We won’t take the cheap way out and ride young players who looked set for breakout campaigns for any manager — Looking at you, Leroy Sane — though certainly Guardiola has played major roles in their development.

MORE: Ranking each Man City player out of 10
MORE: Jose Mourinho reacts to City’s title
MORE: The Opta numbers behind the title

MORE: Twitter reaction to title win

There are a few to monitor moving forward as the reach a second or third season in Guardiola’s system. Consider Kyle Walker and John Stones, English players who have had fits and starts to life in sky blue.

— Sergio Aguero — Follow us here. Yes, Aguero has long been one of the most prolific strikers in the world, but it’d be short-sighted to forget that Guardiola was talking up how much better the Argentine could be inside of his system (and was even rumored for a transfer away from City during Pep’s first season). At 29 years old, Aguero is in the midst of his best PL scoring campaign in terms of rate — 21 goals in 25 matches — and his production in all comps is his best since the 2014-15 season. Again, he’s 29 and supposed to be getting less done.

— Fernandinho — Unheralded on City’s lightning unit and derided by opponents as a hatchet man, the Brazilian is in the midst of his best season in the Premier League since his debut campaign in 2013-14. He’s currently completing more than 90 percent of his passes for the first time in his career, and owning the air with 2.7 aerials won per game (also tops for his career). His clearances are on the rise as well.

Raheem Sterling — There is question as to whether the youngster will ever be a truly elite finisher, but his electric skill set was so much more than pace this season. Sterling’s positional awareness and even his long-suffering second touch improved as Guardiola coaxed 17 goals and eight assists out of the 23-year-old. Sterling has 10 more goals and two more assists than any of his previous four PL campaigns.

BONUS: David Silva is having an incredible campaign, but it’s hard to say one of the best attackers in club and possibly country history is improving. What Pep has done, however, is supplied a system meant to open up the field for players of Silva’s ilk. It’s worked: Silva has equaled his second-best goal production numbers since 2011-12.

Ranking impact of each Man City player in title success

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Manchester City won the Premier League title on Sunday after West Bromwich Albion beat their crosstown rivals Manchester United to hand City the title without kicking a ball.

[ MORE: Full reaction to Man City’s title win ]

With five games of the season still to go, they have equaled the earliest title win in English top-flight history and Pep Guardiola‘s men are on course to break records for most wins in a season, most goals scored and the highest number of points in a single PL campaign.

But which players have been most responsible for their success this season?

Here’s a mark out of 10 for the impact each player in Man City’s squad have had in their title-winning season.


Ederson – 10 – Elevated himself to the conversation as the best goalkeeper on the planet. Not only is he wonderful with his feet, he also provides City’s entire defensive unit with extra confidence.

Claudio Bravo – 4 – Made just one PL appearance so far but was in the team that won the League Cup and his experience will have helped Ederson have a fine season.

Danilo – 7 – A decent stand in at either left back or right back. The Brazilian filed in whenever needed and did a steady job. Fine goal at Burnley.

Kyle Walker – 9 – One of the main reasons City won the title. Walker’s $75 million arrival from Tottenham was scoffed at due to the huge price tag but he added pace and power going forward and he has excelled defensively as well as improving with the ball at his feet and moving inside.

Nicolas Otamendi – 8 – Much improved this season and likely to be in the PFA Team of the Year. A few shaky displays here and there but this was by far, by far, his best season in a City shirt. Dangerous from set pieces with five goals.

Vincent Kompany – 9 – Stunning season from Kompany. The captain for all three of City’s PL titles was finally back to full fitness after a nightmare stretch and he also came up big in the League Cup final, scoring to lead the way. Always led by example and this season he rescued his career after multiple injuries.

John Stones – 6 – Stop-start would be the best way to sum it up. Plenty of injuries and a drop in form but still some promising displays. Guardiola bringing in Laporte will be a worrying sign for Stones.

Eliaquim Mangala – 4 – Loaned out to Everton in January after nine PL appearances but some shaky displays before his season-ending injury. Unlikely to be at City beyond this season.

Fabian Delph – 7 – Stood in admirably at left back for the injured Benjamin Mendy for most of the season and got back into the England squad. Calm on the ball and despite a few bad challenges and getting caught out of position, filled in at left back really well.

Aymeric Laporte – 6 – Only arrived in January but in his limited minutes City’s club-record signing showed he is a solid defender. Much better at center back than left back and will probably play as one of a back three moving forward.

Benjamin Mendy – 5 – Really tough for him to get injured so early after some incredible displays from left back. His #SharkTeam moments made sure he remained in the headlines (plus got him a higher rating) and he seems to be at the heart of City’s locker room. Mendy is almost back and will be the best left back on the planet very soon.

Oleksandr Zinchenko – 5 – Did fine when called upon, which wasn’t often, but Pep used him more as a left back than an attacking midfielder.

Fernandinho – 8 – The Brazilian’s season was a fine one as he put aside injuries and suspensions to become a guaranteed starter. His defensive work went unnoticed but there’s a reason why Kevin De Bruyne and David Silva were so good. Fernandinho did a lot of their dirty work.

Kevin de Bruyne – 10 – Simply stunning, especially in the opening months of the season in his new deeper role in central midfield. Leads PL with 20 assists and has scored 11 goals so far. Some of his assists, passes and crosses were out of this world. KDB will fight with Mohamed Salah to win all of the player of the year awards in the PL.

David Silva – 10 – Like KDB, his passing, movement and creativity was sublime and Silva was reinvented as a deeper central midfielder. Like a fine wine, Silva is getting better each season and he is working with a manager who truly understands him. Majestic. Nine goals and 11 assists.

Yaya Toure – 4 – Didn’t play a lot this season but was kept around for his influence behind-the-scenes. This will be his last season at City and this is the season when he has had the least impact, at least on the pitch.

Ilkay Gundogan – 7 – Struggled to get in the team week in, week out but when he did, he often made a difference with goals and assists. The German playmaker can sometimes get overrun in midfield but he oozes class on the ball.

Bernardo Silva – 7 – Some stunning goals later in the season after he settled in the PL and the Portuguese playmaker will surely take over from David Silva in the future in a more central role. Seven goals and 10 assists a very decent return.

Raheem Sterling – 9 – His best goalscoring run in his career with 22 goals and nine assists and he could have scored at least 10 more. Sterling has kept his pace and trickery but can now see a pass and in the opening months he scored plenty of clutch late winning goals. A superb season.

Leroy Sane – 9 – Like Sterling, the winger matured this season with both nominated for the PFA Players’ Young Player of the Year award and Sane also nominated for the main POTY gong. The German winger has wonderful balance and his direct running scares the life out of defenders. Star for the future.

Phil Foden – 5 – Only played in a handful of games and he will be disappointed to have been injured just when he was breaking into the team on a regular basis. The time will come for the “Stockport Iniesta” to shine (he’s still just 17) as Pep has high hopes for the academy graduate who led England’s U-17 side to glory during the season.

Brahim Diaz – 3 – Like Foden, used mostly in the cup competitions but showed plenty of promise. Will surely get minutes in the remaining games of the season.

Gabriel Jesus – 8 – Scored 14 goals and added three assists as the young Brazilian battled back from a knee injury around the turn of the year. He’s shown he can step in for Aguero long-term and will only get better.

Sergio Aguero – 9 – Was benched at times this season but broke Man City’s scoring record and definitely adapted his style to Guardiola’s philosophy of high-pressing from the front. 30 goals and seven assists in all competitions says it all.