Big Spenders: Which Premier League clubs must go all-in on transfer deadline day?

3 Comments

Before we get to the business at hand — discussing which three Premier League clubs must spend money in a wild and irresponsible manner during tomorrow’s transfer deadline day proceedings — let’s take a moment to discuss how ludicrous it is that “Christmas Eve shopping” is still a modern-day practice.

[ MORE: All of the latest transfer news ]

In terms of running a football club, we’re talking about billions of dollars at play. Not hoping you’ll get lucky and snag the last Turbo Man action figure to give to your kid the next morning. Billions — with a B — of dollars. If I’m the chairman of a club — say, Everton — and another club — say, Chelsea — wants to buy one of my most-prized possessions — say, a center back named John Stones — there’s no way I’m giving the buying club any sort of cut-rate price just because the transfer window is winding down.

Not only do you have little or no time to reinvest that incoming cash, but an entire preseason of preparation and planning is thrown out the window with four months still to pass before you can do a thing about it.

[ JPW’S PL Playback: It’s time to change the rules of the transfer window ]

With that being said, the cash will be flowing once again tomorrow. Here’s a fair guess at who could be writing most of the checks:

3. Sunderland

Disclaimer: It was quite difficult to pick a third team that needs to make waves on transfer deadline day, so I ended up with Sunderland. You might look at their transfer activity this summer and think, “They’ve already net spent $24 million,” which yes, is true. But let’s examine the manner in which they did so.

Fabio Borini for $15 million — risky; Jeremain Lens for $12 million — completely unproven in a major European league; Younes Kaboul for $4.5 million — he’ll be out for three months soon enough; Sebastian Coates for $3 million — never played more than 10 games in a Premier League season; Adam Matthews for $3 million — this ain’t the Scottish Premiership.

What I’m saying is, Sunderland finished last season in 16th place, just three points clear of relegation — and that only happened after another “great escape” in the season’s final weeks. There’s still work to be done for Dick Advocaat’s side, which currently sits bottom of the league with 10 goals conceded through four games, or they’ll be praying for yet another miracle.

[ DONE DEALS: Recapping Man United (and others’) very busy Monday ]

2. Aston Villa

In short, I don’t believe Tim Sherwood has been given enough free reign to spend like the second coming of Harry Redknapp that we all know he is. I need from him a net spend greater than $9 million in his first transfer window as a permanent first-team manager. But more importantly, he needs players capable of keeping the Villans in the Premier League.

Let’s have a look at the backline Sherwood trotted out in their most recent league game, a 2-2 draw with Sunderland: Jordan Amavi (21 years old), Ciaran Clark, Micah Richards and Alan Hutton. That’s a defensive unit capable of resigning even the league’s most prolific of attacks — which they don’t have — to a bottom-third finish, as evidenced in that very game.

[ MORE: Monday’s transfer rumor roundup | Sunday’s officially confirmed transfers ]

1. Arsenal

Let’s count all the areas in which Arsene Wenger should have been strengthening his squad in the 99 days since last season ended: 1) defensive midfield — are we to assume Francis Coquelin can play 38 games without incident? 2) another central midfielder — Jack Wilshere has already missed the season’s first four games; 3) center forward — Olivier Giroud and…who?

If the goal is, as the Gunners said again and again all summer long, to challenge for the title, they don’t just need players to fill those positions. They need genuinely world-class players to do so — the kind of players you don’t acquire in a last-minute deal at a cut-rate price, both of which being characteristics on which Wenger seems intent. Outside of Petr Cech, not a single signing will play a meaningful part in Arsenal’s 2015-16 season.

Not a single one of Karim Benzema, Edinson Cavani or Zlatan Ibrahimovic — all players “linked” to the Gunners this summer — are walking through that door on Tuesday.

Josef Martinez scores 2 more in win, including sensational solo work

AP Photo/John Minchillo
Leave a comment

Josef Martinez scored his 25th and 26th goals of the MLS season, and if he challenges his MLS record of 31, he may also stare down soccer royalty.

The Venezuelan striker scored two more on Wednesday in a 2-0 defeat of FC Cincinnati in Ohio to give him goals in 15-straight league contests.

He now has 76 goals in 80 MLS games, which is good.

[ MORE: Champions League wrap ]

On the season, he’s six goals shy of matching the Major League Soccer record he set with last season’s 31 regular season goals.

According to MLSSoccer.com, he’s six games shy of tying Lionel Messi’s world record for consecutive league matches with a goal.

Even that’s a little tricky: Messi scored in 21-straight games in which he was eligible for selection, but 19-straight before missing two matches for injury. In that remarkable run of 21, he also had a run of six-straight braces.

It’s not really worth it to attempt to compare the two streaks: If Martinez gets to 21 (or even 19), it’s amazing stuff and worth celebrating on a worldwide level. Everyone has a bad game every now and again, but Martinez still finds the score sheet in ’em.

Look at the magician’s tricks he used for this one, including a back heel first touch and two freeze-frame cut moves. That’s not even mentioning the finish.

USWNT announces final matches of World Cup-winning year

Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images
Leave a comment

CHICAGO (AP) The Women’s World Cup champion U.S. team will wrap up 2019 with matches against Sweden and Costa Rica.

U.S. Soccer announced Wednesday that the U.S. will face Sweden in Columbus, Ohio, on Nov. 7 and Costa Rica in Jacksonville, Florida, on Nov. 10.

[ MORE: Champions League wrap ]

The team is wrapping up its World Cup victory tour next month with matches against South Korea on Oct. 3 in Charlotte, North Carolina, and on Oct. 6 in Chicago.

Coach Jill Ellis is stepping down following the match in Chicago after leading the team to a pair of consecutive World Cup titles.

The United States is 15-1-2 this year and currently riding a 14-game winning streak.

More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/apf-Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports

Report: Mane to get big raise, Liverpool contract through 2025

Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Liverpool’s Senegalese sensation looks set to stay at Anfield deep into his 30s.

Sadio Mane is in talks with the Reds hierarchy over a new deal that will run through 2024-25, and pay him more than $15 million per season.

[ MORE: Champions League wrap ]

Mane, 27, currently has a deal through 2023, but surely wouldn’t mind a raise. And Liverpool will be happy to tie him down on Merseyside a bit longer.

He’s scored six times in seven matches this season, also grabbing an assist. That’s on a better pace than his 26 goals and five assists over 50 appearances in 2018/19.

Mane has 70 Premier League goals at the moment. Do you tip him to eclipse 100 while still at Anfield? 125?

Europa League preview: Man Utd, Wolves, Arsenal begin group stage

GEOFF CADDICK/AFP/Getty Images
Leave a comment

The Europa League begins its group stage on Thursday, with the three Premier League combatants taking on clubs from Kazakhstan, Portugal and Germany.

Manchester United’s kids are gonna get some playing time when Astana visits Old Trafford on Wednesday.

Teenager Mason Greenwood and 21-year-old Axel Tuanzebe will start, and Sergio Romero will be between the sticks.

[ MORE: Champions League wrap ]

And the Manchester Evening News notes that Tahith Chong and Angel Gomes could also start at Old Trafford, meaning the veterans in the fray will be quite important.

Enter Fred, the forgotten $68 million man from Shaktar Donetsk. The 23 minutes he played last week versus Leicester City account for his lone time on the pitch this season.

Here’s Ole Gunnar Solskjaer:

“I’m sure we’ll see more and more of Fred. We spoke about it earlier, he’s had some great games in midfield with Scott against PSG and Arsenal, for example, and we’re just waiting for that to flourish.”

Fred had an odd record under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer last season, barely in the squad when the team started hot but trusted against PSG and Barcelona in the Champions League.

Speaking of little-used midfielders, Arsenal boss Unai Emery is getting a little grief for leaving Mesut Ozil behind for the Gunners’ trip to Germany for a big match with Eintracht Frankfurt.

Ozil made his first start of the season in Arsenal’s 2-2 draw with Watford at the weekend, playing 71 minutes and departing with the club up 2-1.

So why not even bring him abroad? Rest.

“Because we are going to play another match on Sunday,” Emery said, via The London Evening Standard. “My decision is because he played and also I’m thinking tomorrow the focus and the first 11 and after that I decided who are the players who can be the best for tomorrow and also the players not and that is Sokratis and Mesut.”

Sokrastis Papastathopoulos is also out, having played a big role in the embarrassing performance at Watford.

There have been tough times for Wolves as well, who sit in the relegation zone after five matches of the Premier League season.

They’ve been quite good in Europa League, though, dispatching a pair of minnows before winning both legs against Serie A side Torino.

Why the inconsistency? It’s not fixture congestion, according to Ruben Neves:

“I don’t think fatigue has anything to do with it, Neves said, via The Birmingham Mail. “We’re all top players, we’re used to it, we’re used to playing a lot of games in quick succession. I don’t think the Europa League has (anything) to do with our position in the Premier League. Obviously, we haven’t had the start that we’ve wanted, but it’s been a beautiful journey into the Europa League. This is a historic moment for Wolves and we’re going to do our best in this competition.”

Nuno Espirito Santo‘s men are in Portugal to meet Braga, one of three tricky opponents in Besiktas and Slovan Bratislava.

Full slate

12:55 p.m. ET
CFR Cluj v. Lazio
LASK v. Rosenborg
Getafe v. Trabzonspor
PSV Eindhoven v. Sporting Lisbon
Basel v. Krasnodar
APOEL Nicosia v. Dudelange
Copenhagen v. Lugano
Standard Liege v. Vitoria SC
Qarabag v. Sevilla
Eintracht Frankfurt v. Arsenal
Rennes v. Celtic
Dynamo Kiev v. Malmo

3 p.m. ET
Wolfsburg v. Oleksandriya
Espanyol v. Ferencvaros
Rangers v. Feyenoord
Porto v. Young Boys
Slovan Bratislava v. Besiktas
Borussia Monchengladbach v. Wolfsberg
Partizan v. AZ Alkmaar
AS Roma v. Istanbul Basaksehir
Gent v. Saint-Etienne
Manchester United v. Astana
Wolves v. Braga
Ludogorets Razgrad v. CSKA Moscow