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Premier League 2017-18 preview – Swansea City

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Paul Clement did just about everything he could with the roster he had in 2016/17 to help Swansea stave off relegation from the Premier League, and now in his first full season at the Liberty Stadium, the manager will have a bit more of a stamp on his squad.

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Despite the ongoing talks of Gylfi Sigurdsson‘s exit from the club, the Swans head into the new PL season with several new faces, including Chelsea’s Tammy Abraham, who could prove to be of great assistance in the attacking third.

Best, worst case scenarios – Realistically, the Swans are a mid-table side if all things go according to plan for Paul Clement and Co. That being said, the Swans manager did a solid job last season after the club faced adversity and helped the team stave off relegation, which for awhile looked inevitable.

Much of the club’s success will hinge on the status of Gylfi Sigurdsson, who continues to have strong interest from Everton. If the Icelandic international is poached from Swansea it could prove to be a massive gap leaving the squad scrambling in the midfield, so this is certainly a story that must be kept an eye on closely.


Best possible XI is…

Fabianski

Naughton — Fernandez — Mawson — Olsson

Fer — Mesa — Carroll

Ayew — Llorente — Abraham

The additions of Tammy Abraham and Roque Mesa could present strong signings for the Swans moving up the pitch, but the biggest questions remain for the team at the back. The club conceded 70 goals in the PL last season, the second-most of any squad in England’s top flight. Paul Clement will need to get things sorted out defensively if they hope to outlast the bottom three once again.


[ MORE: 2017-18 PL season preview hub ] 

Transfers In: Tammy Abraham (Chelsea, Loan), Edwin Mulder (Heerenveen, Free), Kees de Boer (Ajax, Youth), Roque Mesa (Las Palmas, $14 million), Cian Harries (Coventry City, Undisclosed), Arnór Guðjohnsen (Breiðablik UBK, Youth), Mark Walsh (Finn Harps, Youth), Jayden Reid (Manchester United, Youth)

Transfers Out: Bafetimbi Gomis ($2.7 million, Galatasaray), Borja Baston (loan, Malaga), Jordi Amat (loan, Real Betis), Jack Cork ($13 million, Burnley), Gerhard Tremmel (Released), Marvin Emnes (Released), Owain Jones (Released).

Last season:

— 15th in Premier League
— FA Cup 3rd Round (Lost to Hull City)
— League Cup 3rd Round (Lost to Manchester City)
Fernando Llorente finished top goalscorer (15)

Star player: Gylfi Sigurdsson — Since arriving at the Liberty Stadium, Sigurdsson has been everything the Swans could want and more as a driving force in the team’s attack. The Icelandic has hit double-digit goals scored in all competitions the past two seasons, which is something he hadn’t previously done since his time at Reading. Everyone knows losing this man would be a massive blow to Swansea’s hopes of remaining in the PL next season, so the supporters and squad alike will surely be holding their breath.

Coaches’ Corner: Paul Clement — The 45-year-old enters his first full season managing in the Premier League, and luckily for Clement he’ll be in a slightly less difficult position than he was thrust into a season ago. While the club wasn’t very active in the transfer window, the addition of Tammy Abraham on loan from Chelsea could be a solid lift to the club’s attack. Clement proved his mental fortitude after coming in to replace Bob Bradley and a struggling Swans side last season, and thus far, he’s been everything the club could want.

PST predicts: As mentioned earlier, this is a Swans team that didn’t add a ton of players during the transfer window, which isn’t completely unexpected for the club. However, this is still a side that can manage to finish similarly to what it did a season ago (15th) if all things go properly. The team has shown it’s capable of playing good possession soccer, but much of that success could be hinged on Gylfi Sigurdsson availability. Ultimately, Swansea will probably last another season in the PL. It may not be the prettiest sight, but Paul Clement showed in 2016/17 that he can rally his troops even when the going gets tough.

Everton reportedly set for sale of $28M Lookman

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Will Everton regret its failure to find the right fit for Ademola Lookman at Goodison Park?

The Toffees are set to sell the 21-year-old striker to RB Leipzig this summer for just $8 million more than they paid Charlton for her services, according to Sky Sports.

[ MORE: De Gea wants captaincy ]

Lookman scored five goals with four assists in a half-season loan for RBL in 2018, but could not find regular feature time for the Toffees upon his return.

Yes, the $28 million is still a decent fee, but Lookman is an English striker with U-20 World Cup-winning experience, and was given just three starts from his 21 appearances in the Premier League for Marco Silva‘s men last season (posting two assists in 601 minutes.

Lookman prefers to play left wing, but also operates on the right. Everton has Richarlison, Bernard, and Theo Walcott amongst a relatively deep wing corps.

The stats seem to show that Lookman simply had trouble getting the ball at Everton in comparison to RBL. Maybe he needs to be a bigger part of the show, and we’ll find out whether he can do that with Tyler Adams and Co. in Leipzig.

De Gea hopes for Manchester United captaincy

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Given his seemingly biannual links to returns to Spain and bigger paydays, it might be a bit of a surprise to hear Manchester United goalkeeper David De Gea preach up the badge.

Aside from a stumble late last season, however, the 28-year-old has been a dynamo at Old Trafford for several managers.

[ MORE: Chicago adds USMNT hero ]

He’s also been through the wringer from his early days struggling to find his form in the Premier League, and now has 362 appearances in the Red Devils shirt to go with trophies from the PL, FA Cup, League Cup, and Europa League.

So, yeah, he’s qualified to lead. And as we wait for United to announce his new expensive contract, De Gea is speaking out on his delight in captaining the team and hopes of doing so on a full-time basis.

From Sky Sports:

“I need to show that on the pitch and try to help the young guys know what Manchester United means and that’s important. We have to improve a lot. We are Manchester United; we need to fight for trophies.

“When you put on this badge, that’s what it means – fight for everything, give your best and bring the team again to the top.”

Is there a case to be made for anyone else on the current roster? Probably not, at least not in the form of players who will be expected to suit up nearly every match.

Chicago adds 2010 World Cup qualifying hero Bornstein

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There’s probably part of you who thinks Jonathan Bornstein is on an MLS staff somewhere, that he’s about 46 years old, and the news that he’s joined the Chicago Fire means he’s taken a coaching role like Josh Wolff (who is only 42. Don’t age shame).

[ MORE: Transfer rumor roundup ]

And we’ll admit that “Chicago adds Jonathan Bornstein” gave us similar vibes, because, hey, didn’t this cat score an amazing, World Cup berth-clinching goal against Costa Rica at RFK in 2009? Yes! He was! I was there with my sister and a couple of buddies, and it was awesome.

Bornstein was, however, just 25 then and a member of Chivas USA (That was an MLS team, young bucks). Bob Bradley drafted him out of UCLA and turned him into a left back.

Now 34 and still a left back, Bornstein spent 2010-present outside of the United States. He’s played in Mexico for Queretaro, Tigres, and Atlante, as well as Israel last season with Maccabi Netanya. He won a Copa MX, a Supercopa MX, and an Apertura title while south of the border.

From Chicago-Fire.com:

“We began pursuing Jonathan back in January but, unfortunately, his insertion into the lineup made him too invaluable to his former club,” said Chicago Fire President and General Manager Nelson Rodrίguez. “In addition to providing a steady presence and competition on the field, we believe Jonathan will be an excellent mentor for our younger players.”

As a returning USMNT international, even no caps since 2011, Chicago had to send $50,000 to Columbus for the top spot in the allocation order.

Bornstein will hope to help Chicago turn around a miserable season which began with such promise. Chicago has been extremely unlucky this season, with a difference of minus-11.7 between expected goals and goals scored.

And I will continue to remember nearly throwing my beverage miles into the air from the upper deck at RFK. Thanks for the memories, Jonathan.

Barcelona exec on Neymar: “We aren’t looking at it”

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Neymar’s reported discontent at Paris Saint-Germain has caused rumors to fly this summer about if he could leave, and where any potential destinations could be.

His old club Barcelona is thought to be a major contender to rescue the Brazilian superstar from his misery, but that may be dead in the water after Barcelona vice president Jordi Cardoner again claimed the club has no interest in his return.

“The president already spoke about it,” Cardoner said from Tokyo where the club is in preseason. “There is no Neymar saga. There is a lot of talk and he doesn’t appear happy there but we aren’t looking at it.”

This is not the first time Cardoner has gone public to deny Neymar rumors. Even as far back as last October, Cardoner said “No one on the Barcelona board has talked about the possibility of bringing back Neymar, right now we can’t talk about it because no one has even mentioned it.”

Cardoner is not the only Barcelona member talking down a potential Neymar return. New arrival Antoine Griezmann also made statements claiming the club would struggle to make it happen even if they wanted to. Speaking about possibly linking up with Neymar with Barcelona, the former Atletico Madrid striker spoke highly of Neymar’s playing ability, but admitted it would take some significant time to complete. “We have to get it done first because it is a difficult transfer, but he is a great player,” Griezmann said from Tokyo.

Neymar has had a troubled past 12 months, facing rape charges in Brazil, suspensions in both European and domestic French competitions, and even taking Barcelona to court last year for payments he believed he was owed.