Paul Lambert’s youth revolution sees five new faces arrive at Villa Park

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Last season Aston Villa manager Paul Lambert convinced chairman Randy Lerner to dole out £7 million for a relatively unknown 21 year old commodity out of Racing Genk. At the time the fee seemed a bit rich but fast forward nine months and there is not a club in the world that would pass on such a cut-rate price for Christian Benteke.

And while the Benteke deal is Lambert’s shrewdest to date, a deeper look at his portfolio suggests the Villa manager has a keen insight on picking up young, quality talent in the transfer market.

Last season he snapped up 22 year old Matthew Lowton from Sheffield United for a fee of £3 million, 21 year old Ashley Westwood from Crewe Alexandria for a fee of £2 million and 22 year old Yacouba Sylla from Clermont Foot for  £2 million. Lowton quickly established himself as one of the best young right-backs in the league while Westwood made the holding midfield role his own and Sylla impressed in the same position with a marauding style that brought bite to the claret and blue.

In addition to bringing in new players, Lambert has recently re-signed the talented youth in place before his arrival at Villa Park, penning 22 year old defender Nathan Baker and 21 year old winger Andreas Weimann to new deals this summer. And as the youth are locked down, the non-impacting veterans – James Collins (29), Jean Makoun(30) and Stephen Warnock (31) – have all been put to pasture.

It’s all part of Lambert’s youth revolution, which has continued this summer by bringing in five new faces all under the age of 23 – Antonio Luna (22), Aleksandar Tonev (22), Jores Okore (20), Leandro Bacuna (21) and Nicklas Helenius (22).

So, which one of these players could be the next Benteke or Weimann? Let’s take a closer look at each one and note their potential impact.

Antonio Luna

Luna signed with the West Midlands on a three year deal from Sevilla, where the left-back made his debut in 2010 and went on to make 20 appearances over three seasons. After a perceived drop in play he was sent on loan to Almeria in 2011 (making 13 appearances) and to Mallorca last season (making 10 appearances). Although not expected to come in and start for the Villians, if Luna hits form do not be surprised if Lambert’s plants the Spaniard at left-back and moves Baker into the center of the defense.

Aleksandar Tonev

Bulgarian midfielder Tonev comes to Villa from Lech Poznan where he netted seven times in three years. The winger played alongside Villa midfielder (and now assistant development coach) Stilian Petrov in the Bulgarian national team and hopes to emulate the impact of Petrov and fellow countrymen Dimitar Berbatov in the Premier League. Like Luna, Tonev is unlikely to start but will provide competition for Weimann and Gabriel Agbonglahor and is likely to be utilized by Lambert as a spark late in matches.

Jores Okore

Okore (pictured) is a big, physical center-back who played a key part of FC Nordsjaelland’s strong run in the Danish Superliga and earned vital experience in this season’s Champions League stint. He is fast, big, strong and good in the air but his youth makes him prone to positioning mistakes. Okore may not start immediately but he very well could prove the most valuable of the lot in a few years down the road. For this season, however, he’ll serve as serious competition for Ron Vlaar, Baker and Joseph Bennett.

Leandro Bacuna

Leandro Bacuna is a pacy and versatile Dutch midfielder came through the youth ranks at Groningen and spent four seasons with the senior side making 109 appearances and scoring 10 goals. At 6’1″ Bacuna is physically imposing player prone to more of a power orientated approach that sometimes finds his skill lacking. His engine could see him inserted anywhere in the midfield but Lambert is most likely to let him challenge Westwood, Sylla and Fabian Delph in the center of the park.

Nicklas Helenius

Helenius is a striker from Danish League side Aalborg BK, where he made 102 appearances and scored 40 goals. The Danish international is a threat in the air due to his towering height (6’5″) and also on the ground where he possesses a delicate touch in the box. The 22 year old would make a fearsome strike partner for Benteke, could be a wonderful target for both Weimann and  Agbonglahor and may be the man who prompts Villa to cut ties with Darren Bent.

 

Barcelona v. Bayern Munich: How to watch, team news, start time, odds

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Barcelona – Bayern Munich is a massive UEFA Champions League quarterfinal on Friday (start time, 3pm ET) and here is everything you need to know ahead of the clash in Lisbon, Portugal.

Many believe the 2019-20 Champions League winner will be one of these two teams, as they face the winner of Manchester City v. Lyon in the semifinal.

[ LIVE: Champions League scores

Barcelona and Lionel Messi have the disappointment of losing their La Liga title in recent weeks to spur them on in the Champions League, while Bayern Munich swept all before them in Germany this season with Robert Lewandowski scoring 53 goals in 44 games in all competitions.

After just a few months in charge, Barca boss Quique Setien likely needs to win the Champions League to keep his job as Messi is firing in attack but Barca are still suspect at the back. As for Bayern Munich coach Hansi Flick, who has masterminded a masterful turnaround since taking charge last November, he and the Bayern hierarchy will see this as the Bavarians’ best chance to win the Champions League since they last did so in 2013.

[ MORE: Key battles in UCL quarterfinals ]

Below you will find all of the details you need on Barcelona – Bayern Munich in what is set to be the game of the Champions League season so far as both teams love to attack.


How to watch, stream Champions League: Barcelona – Bayern Munich

Dates: August 12, 3pm ET kick off
Location: Lisbon, Portugal
How to watch: CBS Sports
Live updates: UCL here at NBCSports.com & Europa League here at NBCSports.com


Team news

Barcelona will likely be without the injured Ousmane Dembele who hasn’t featured since having surgery on his hamstring in February, but could be part of the squad.

Bayern are without Benjamin Pavard who has an ankle injury, but apart from that they have a fully fit squad to choose from as Alphonso Davies sat out of training with a slight adductor problem but is expected to be fit.


What they’re saying

Antoine Griezmann on Barcelona’s mindset: “We are looking forward to it, we have worked well tactically and we are ready to play the game. We know it will be difficult, but we know what we have to do to qualify for the semifinals. It will be a very good match. We hope to take advantage of the quality we have. We are in a good moment and we can play a good game. We have to be together, up front and at the back, and try to have the ball as much as possible.”

Hansi Flick on the style of play he wants from Bayern: “Defensively to win the ball – and offensively, purposefully and consistently to score goals. The intensity of our actions is crucial. We also want to play attractive possession football. The most important thing is that we see ourselves as a team and that everyone knows what their task is. Every player has to get involved and be able to rely on his neighbor on the pitch. This is extremely important to us.”


Odds – Full matchweek odds

It is not often that Barcelona (+235) are the underdogs but they are here, and that shows you how good Bayern Munich (+115) have been in recent months. Bayern will be wary of Messi but with Lewandowski banging in goals for fun and a stable midfield and defensive unit behind him, the Bavarian giants are the favorites for a reason. The tie at +255 provides value and this should be a goal-fest.


Prediction

If this turns into a straight shootout, you would probably fancy Barcelona to advance with Luis Suarez, Messi and Antoine Griezmann in attack. But Bayern will keep it tight, look to slow play down and then launch counters which Lewandowski can finish. I think this game will be stretched and become the attacking feast all neutrals are hoping for, but the Germans are just a more ruthless and solid team right now. Barcelona 1-3 Bayern Munich.

Premier League transfers: Every deal from all 20 clubs

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Premier League transfers will ramp up throughout the summer months and here you will find every deal from all 20 Premier League clubs ahead of the 2020-21 season.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

The Premier League transfer window runs from July 27 to Oct. 5 in the summer, as the shortened offseason means there’s a flurry of action already happening and most clubs will want their squads sorted before the 2020-21 season kicks off on Sept. 12.

Given the fact that clubs have less than 40 days before the new season starts, you’d think that chairman, sporting directors and managers would all be pretty busy right now as they try and get their business done early. But we all know that when it comes to Premier League transfers, clubs can’t stay away from a deadline day.

[ MORE: Predicting the 2020-21 Premier League standings ]

Even during the coronavirus pandemic amid huge financial implications, huge sums of money are still being talked about when it comes to potential transfers.

Below are the lists of deals for each club, as we will update this page as and when deals happen from now until Oct. 5 when the summer window shuts.


Arsenal

Out
Tobi Omole (Released)
Matthew Dennis (Released)
Zech Medley (Gillingham) Loan
Zak Swanson (MVV Maastricht) Loan
Dinos Mavropanos (Stuttgart) Loan

Aston Villa

Out
Ross McCormack (Released)
Callum O’Hare (Released)
Jack Birch (Released)
Anton Hooper (Released)
Colin Odutayo (Released)
Dimitri Sea (Released)
Jamie Searle (Released)
Matija Sarkic (Wolves) Free
James Chester (Stoke) Free

Brighton and Hove Albion

In
Jensen Weir (Wigan)
Adam Lallana (Liverpool) Free
Joel Veltman (Ajax)
Lars Dendoncker (Club Brugge)

Out
Leon Balogun (Wigan) Loan
Archie Davies (Released)
Lewis Freestone (Released)
George Cox (Fortuna Sittard)
Anthony Knockaert (Fulham)
Beram Kayal (Released)

Burnley

Out
Joe Hart (Released)
Jeff Hendrick (Released)
Adam Legzdins (Released)
Aaron Lennon (Released)
Oliver Younger (Released)
Scott Wilson (Released)
Joel Senior (Released)
Joel Senior (Released)
Ryan Cooney (Morecambe) Loan

Chelsea

In
Timo Werner (RB Leipzig) More info
Hakim Ziyech (Ajax) More info

Out
Josh Grant (Released)
Marcel Lavinier (Released)
Richard Nartey (Released)
Willian (Released)
Pedro (Released)

Crystal Palace

In
Nathan Ferguson (West Brom) Free
Jake Giddings (Free)

Out
Kian Flanagan (Released)
Dion-Curtis Henry (Released)
Daniel Tupper (Released)

Everton

In
Niels Nkounkou (Marseille) Free

Out
Morgan Feeney (Released)
Alexander Denny (Released)
Matthew Foulds (Released)
Luke Garbutt (Released)
Oumar Niasse (Released)
Morgan Schneiderlin (Nice)
Leighton Baines (Retired)
Maarten Stekelenburg (Released)
Nathangelo Markelo (FC Twente)
Kieran Dowell (Norwich City)
Manasse Mampala (Released)
Korede Adedoyin (Released)
Cuco Martina (Released)

Leeds United

In
Helder Costa (Wolverhampton Wanderers)
Illan Meslier (Lorient)
Jack Harrison (Man City) Loan
Joe Gelhardt (Wigan)

Out
Ryan Edmondson (Aberdeen) Loan
Kun Temenuzhkov (Real Union) Loan

Leicester

Out
Calvin Bassey (Rangers)
Viktor Johansson (Released)
Ryan Loft (Released)
Connor Tee (Released)

Liverpool

In
Konstantinos Tsimikas (Olympiacos) More info

Out
Daniel Atherton (Released)
Pedro Chirivella (Nantes) Free
Nathaniel Clyne (Released)
Shamal George (Released)
Jack Walls (Released)
Dejan Lovren (Zenit)
Adam Lallana (Brighton) Free

Manchester City

In
Pablo Moreno (Juventus)
Ferran Torres (Valencia) More info
Nathan Ake (Bournemouth) More info

Out
Ernest Agyiri (Released)
Leroy Sane (Bayern Munich)
Jack Harrison (Leeds) Loan

Manchester United

In
Odion Ighalo (Shanghai Shenhua) Loan

Out
Cameron Borthwick-Jackson (Released)
Dion McGee (Released)
Angel Gomes (Released)
Ethan Hamilton (Released)
Michael O’Hara (Released)
Largie Ramazani (Released)
George Tanner (Released)
Alexis Sanchez (Inter Milan) More info

Newcastle United

In
Mark Gillespie (Motherwell) Free

Out
Luke Charman (Released)
Jack Colback (Released)
Robert Elliott (Released)
Liam Gibson (Released)
Nathan Harker (Released)
Victor Fernandez (Viitorul Constanta) Free
Jake Turner (Morecambe) Loan

Sheffield United

In
Wes Foderingham (Rangers) Free

Out
Mark Duffy (Released)
Keenan Ferguson (Released)
Oliver Greaves (Released)
Jake Eastwood (Kilmarnock) Loan
Tyler Smith (Swindon Town) Loan

Southampton

In
Kyle Walker-Peters (Tottenham)

Out
Alexander Cull (Released)
Mohamed Elyounoussi (Celtic) Loan
Maya Yoshida (Released)
Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg (Tottenham)

Tottenham Hotspur

In
Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg (Southampton)

Out
Jan Vertonghen (Released)
Michel Vorm (Released)
Tariq Hinds (Released)
Rayan Clarke (Released)
Jonathan Dinzeyi (Released)
Phoenix Patterson (Released)
Maxwell Statham (Released)
Maximus Tainio (Released)
Troy Parrott (Millwall) Loan
TJ Eyoma (Lincoln City) Loan
Kyle Walker-Peters (Southampton)

West Bromwich Albion

Out
Chris Brunt (Released)
Finn Azaz (Cheltenham Town) Loan

West Ham United

In
Tomas Soucek (Slavia Prague)

Out
Sead Haksabanovic (IFK Norrkoping)
Carlos Sanchez (Released)
Pablo Zabaleta (Released)

Wolverhampton Wanderers

In
Matija Sarkic (Aston Villa) Free

Out
Jordan Graham (Released)
Connor Johnson (Released)
Callum Thompson (Released)
Helder Costa (Leeds)
Tsun Dai (Shenzhen)
Ryan Giles (Coventry) Loan
Elliot Watt (Bradford)

Champions League, Europa League: How to watch, odds, start time, predictions

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The UEFA Champions League and Europa League action has resumed and I’m going to reveal my predictions for this next round as well as the latest odds for Europe’s top two continental tournaments.

[ LIVE: Champions League scores

With Manchester City still in the Champions League and Manchester United still in the Europa League, there is a lot on the line for the two Premier League clubs in the next week.

Just because the Premier League season is over, that doesn’t mean the action is over. Far from it. Both Manchester clubs are the bookmakers favorites to seal their respective European glory.

[ LIVE: Europa League scores ]

In the next few days the Europa League semifinals and Champions League quarterfinals will take place as the mini tournaments take place in Germany and Portugal.

Man City beat Real Madrid 4-2 on aggregate, while Chelsea lost Bayern 7-1 on aggregate as they crashed out of the Champions League. Man United beat Copenhagen in extra time and will face Sevilla in the semifinals and are the lone Premier League club after Wolves were knocked out by Sevilla.

Lisbon, Portugal will host the Champions League games from the quarterfinal stage onwards, while the Europa League games will be hosted around Germany.

Below is a look at my predictions, the odds for the games this week and how to watch and follow all of the fixtures in the USA.


How to watch, stream Champions League and Europa League

Dates: August 5-23
Location: Quarterfinals onwards in Lisbon/Germany
How to watch: CBS Sports
Live updates: UCL here at NBCSports.com & Europa League here at NBCSports.com


JPW’s Champions League predictions

Quarterfinals (August 12-15)
Wednesday, August 12: Atalanta 2-3 PSG
Thursday, August 13: RB Leipzig 1-2 Atletico Madrid
Friday, August 14: Barcelona 1-3 Bayern Munich
Saturday, August 15: Manchester City 3-1 Lyon


JPW’s Europa League predictions

Semifinals (August 16-17)
Sunday, August 16: Sevilla 1-2 Manchester United
Monday, August 17: Inter Milan 2-0 Shakhtar Donetsk


Champions League betting odds

Quarterfinals (August 12-15)

(+210) Atalanta v. PSG (+117). Tie: +275
(+225) RB Leipzig v. Atletico Madrid (+135). Tie: +220
(+235) Barcelona v. Bayern Munich (+115). Tie: +255
(-305) Manchester City v. Lyon (+750). Tie: +450

Outright winner
Manchester City (+220)
Bayern Munich (+325)
Paris Saint-Germain (+500)
Atletico Madrid (+800)
Barcelona (+800)
Atalanta (+1000)
RB Leipzig (+1700)
Lyon (+3500)


Europa League betting odds

Quarterfinals (August 10-11)
(+195) Sevilla v. Manchester United (+150). Tie: +215
(-132) Inter Milan v. Shakhtar Donetsk (+350). Tie: +280

Outright winner
Inter Milan (+160)
Manchester United (+190)
Sevilla (+280)
Shakhtar Donetsk (+800)

Transfer news: Dembele to Man United; Promes to Arsenal

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In the latest transfer news Ousmane Dembele has been linked with a move to Manchester United, while Quincy Promes to Arsenal is an intriguing report.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

First up, let’s start in Manchester as it appears that Ousmane Dembele to Manchester United could be the back-up option if Borussia Dortmund continue to dig their heels in on Jadon Sancho.

Dortmund’s sporting director Michael Zorc has said that Sancho, 20, will be staying with the Bundesliga giants this season as they didn’t receive a bid for the England international before the Aug. 10 deadline they set clubs. Zorc also revealed that Dortmund have extended Sancho’s contract to 2023, so Dortmund aren’t in a rush to sell him.

Man United are still said to be keen on Sancho, who would cost over $140 million, but a back-up option is in the works as the Red Devils baulk at paying a huge fee up front for Sancho.

Ousmane Dembele, 23, has struggled for form and fitness since arriving at Barcelona from Dortmund and it appears the French forward is available.

Per the report from ESPN, ‘informal talks’ have been held about a season-long loan deal for Dembele with an option to buy. This would make a lot of sense for Man United and Barcelona. United get a hungry, and talented winger, who is eager to play for a permanent move and if it works out it will be a lot cheaper than signing Sancho.

Barcelona get to save some face and move Dembele on, as Antoine Griezmann, Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez are their undisputed front three. Dembele has the talent and he ripped it up at Dortmund before arriving as Neymar’s replacement. He hasn’t played since November and has since had surgery on a hamstring injury, so if the French forward can stay fit then he would be a great short-term option for Man United until Dortmund soften their stance on Sancho.

Imagine Marcus Rashford, Anthony Martial and Mason Greenwood up top, with Dembele coming off the bench to give one of them a rest.

Switching to north London, Quincy Promes has been linked with a move to Arsenal from Ajax.

Promes, 28, has long been linked with a move to the Premier League and the Dutch winger has added end product to his skill in recent seasons for club and country.

According to The Sun, Arsenal are willing to pay $32.5 million for Promes as the former Feyenoord, Spartak Moscow and Sevilla winger will give them extra cutting edge in attack. He joined Ajax last summer from Sevilla and was a big hit in his first season in Amsterdam.

With Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang yet to sign a new contract, plus the future of Alexandre Lacazette uncertain, Arsenal may only have Eddie Nketiah and Nicolas Pepe to rely on for goals next season.

Promes has always been a tricky, direct winger but he scored 16 goals and added seven assists in 28 games before the Dutch top-flight was canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Arteta is said to want to add extra experience to his Arsenal side which is stacked with talented youngsters such as Nketiah, Bukayo Saka and Gabriel Martinelli the future of the club.