Getty Images

Best Premier League signings so far

Leave a comment

As we enter the fourth month of the 2018-19 Premier League season, plenty of new signings from the summer months have settled in well and are ripping it up with their new teams.

[ STREAM: Watch every PL match live

Below is a look at the best signings of the season so far, as we assess which newcomers have made the best starts.


David Brooks (Sheffield United to Bournemouth, $14.8 million)
The Welsh youngster has been a revelation in the Premier League, scoring in three of his last four games and adding pace and a direct nature to Bournemouth’s front line. In his first-ever PL season, Brooks’ form is a big reason why Bournemouth sit in sixth place. Still just 21 years old, Brooks compliments Fraser, Wilson and King very well with his clever runs inside and beyond the last defender causing all kinds of problems for opponents.


Jorginho (Napoli to Chelsea, $73.6 million)
Turned down Manchester City to sign for Chelsea and it seems like an inspired decision. The Italian international has been handed the keys to the Blues’ midfield by new manager Maurizio Sarri, the man who joined him in switching Napoli for Chelsea, and he’s transformed the entire team. Leading the PL in passes attempted and completed most weeks, Jorginho’s ability to select the correct pass and get Chelsea going is a joy to watch.


Riyad Mahrez (Leicester City to Manchester City, $77.4 million)
Struggled initially after his huge summer move but the Algerian winger has found his feet in recent weeks with goals against Burnley and Tottenham. Yes, he skied a penalty kick in the big game at Liverpool, but that happens. Aside from that he’s keeping Leroy Sane out of the team right now. That in itself is a huge achievement and Mahrez is thriving under Pep Guardiola. He adds something a little different to City’s attack and as their only signing of the summer at a club-record fee, Mahrez is coping well with the pressure on his shoulders.


James Maddison (Norwich City to Leicester City, $25.8 million)
The 21-year-old arrived as Mahrez’s replacement and his form early in the season was superb, with goals, trickery and a real understanding with Leicester’s other attackers. That resulted in an England call-up and Maddison will be keen to continue to kick on under Claude Puel in a central or wide role.


Lucas Torreira (Sampdoria to Arsenal, $34 million)
The diminutive Uruguayan has flown under the radar a little with Matteo Geundouzi getting a lot of the plaudits in midfield, but his tidy passing and ability to snap away at tackles in front of the back four has helped Unai Emery turn things around for the Gunners. Arsenal’s defense looks more solid in having Torreira and Geundouzi rampaging around, shutting down attacks in front of them. While the 22-year-old is adept at starting attacks and getting the ball up to the likes of Lacazette and Aubameyang quickly.


Richarlison (Watford to Everton, $51.6 million)
The Brazilian got off to a rapid start to the campaign after Marco Silva returned to his former club Watford to sign the 21-year-old forward. Four goals in his first six Premier League games for the Toffees got everyone excited and he’s been playing up top on his own in recent weeks, stretching opposition defenses whenever he can. A call-up to the full Brazil squad has since arrived and he scored twice in September for the Selecao.


Aleksandar Mitrovic (Newcastle United to Fulham, $22.7 million)
Not a totally new signing for Fulham seeing as the bullish Serbian striker spent the second half of last season on loan with the Cottagers as they won promotion to the PL, but his impact this season has been obvious. Mitrovic, 24, scored five goals in his first six PL games of the season but has struggled in recent weeks as Fulham’s defensive frailties have been woefully exposed. Still, it makes you wonder why Newcastle let him go given their goalscoring woes, with Mitrovic a real handful for opposition defenders.


Joao Moutinho (AS Monaco to Wolverhampton Wanderers, $6.4 million)
A contender for bargain of the season, the Portuguese midfielder arrived at Wolves thanks to his agent Jorge Mendes and his close links to the club. Moutinho, 32, scored a stunner at Manchester United to grab Wolves a deserved point and has been superb alongside Ruben Neves in midfield. His veteran leadership, alongside many of his compatriots under Nuno Espirito Santo, has seen Wolves in the discussion as the best-ever newly-promoted team in the PL era. His class on the ball is unquestionable.


Matteo Geundouzi (Lorient to Arsenal, $9 million)
Still just 19 years old, nobody expected this from Guendouzi. Perhaps his manager Emery did, having seen him at PSG’s academy and at Lorient in the second-tier in France, but the teenager has been a revelation early in the campaign. Some would say he is the combative defensive midfielder Arsenal have been missing for decades, and it would be hard to argue with that. He is still very raw but he has all of the tools to succeed in the Premier League. A very promising start.


Danny Ings (Liverpool to Southampton, loan then $23.2 million buy)
Four goals in his first nine PL games for his hometown club represents a decent start for Ings after his move from Liverpool, but the Englishman will be thinking he should have scored more. That’s a good thing. Still a little rusty after several seasons of injury struggles, Ings is showing his best form in spurts and Southampton will hope he is back to his best very shortly. He has scored 50 percent of their goals so far this season which tells us just how important he is for Mark Hughes‘ team.


Honorable mentions: Rui Patricio (Wolves), Felipe Anderson (West Ham), Fred (Manchester United), Alisson (Liverpool), Jefferson Lerma (Bournemouth), Andre Schurrle (Fulham), Xherdan Shaqiri (Liverpool).

Coronavirus: Italy may lift ban on sporting events by Monday

Photo by Matteo Ciambelli/NurPhoto via Getty Images
Leave a comment

MILAN (AP) The Italian government could lift its ban on sporting events by Monday in areas affected by the coronavirus if the number of cases stabilizes.

The outbreak forced a number of sporting events to be called off throughout the country this past weekend, including four Serie A matches in the north of Italy.

This week, the ban on sporting events was extended from Lombardy, Veneto and Piedmont – the areas hardest hit by the outbreak – to also include the regions of Friuli Venezia Giulia, Emilia Romagna and Liguria, until March 1.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

“If, as I hope, the statistics don’t give us different signs then maybe already by Monday these measures won’t be continued,” Sports Minister Vincenzo Spadafora said. “But it’s only Tuesday today and we have to wait and see what happens over the next few days. The health of the Italian citizens is the most important thing.”

Italy reported a 45% increase in the number of coronavirus cases Tuesday, from 222 to 300. Ten people have died, all of them elderly or suffering from other ailments.

“Obviously, I can’t say I’m not worried because I don’t want anyone to think we’re underestimating this emergency,” Premier Giuseppe Conte said before meeting with visiting World Health Organization representatives. “But we trust that with the measures we have implemented, there will be a containing effect in the coming days.”

Italy has closed schools, museums and theaters in the two regions where clusters have formed and troops are enforcing quarantines around 10 towns in Lombardy and the epicenter of the Veneto cluster, Vo’Euganeo.

Serie A matches this weekend are set to be played behind closed doors, including Juventus’ key match against Inter Milan. That game is not only potentially crucial to the title race but also sees the return of former Juventus coach Antonio Conte.

Inter’s Europa League match at home to Ludogorets on Thursday will also take place without any fans allowed in.

Serie C canceled all games in two leagues which have teams in the north. Volleyball and rugby games were also suspended nationwide through next weekend.

The Italian Winter Sports Federation suspended all of its events throughout the country for an entire week, although it said that “for now” next weekend’s World Cup ski races in La Thuile in the Valle d’Aosta region were still set to go ahead. Those races are operated by the International Ski Federation, which has already canceled races this season in China that were slated to test the course for the 2022 Beijing Games.

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

El Tri winger Jurgen Damm headed for MLS this summer

Jurgen Damm
Photo by Cesar Gomez/Jam Media/Getty Images
Leave a comment

This season’s Liga MX invasion of MLS continues with Jurgen Damm announcing that he’ll leave UANL Tigres this summer after five years with the club.

TUDN has the destination as Atlanta, though previous reports have linked Damm to the LA Galaxy is the spot.

And MLSSoccer.com scribe Tom Bogert says the Houston Dynamo have his “discovery rights” (which remains the worst concept in the entire league).

Reports emerged over the past 48 hours that the El Tri man was headed for an MLS club.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

The 12-times capped winger has one goal for Mexico, but has not been capped since Oct. 2018. He has spent his entire career in Liga MX.

Damm spent the early part of his career with Tecos and Pachuca, but has been with UANL Tigres since 2015.

He won four league titles with UANL, as well as the 2018 Campeones Cup.

Ex-Arsenal man Gnabry: “London’s still red” after Bayern beats Chelsea

Serge Gnabry
Photo by Roland Krivec/DeFodi Images via Getty Images
Leave a comment

Ex-Arsenal man Serge Gnabry still has love for the club.

Gnabry tweeted that “London is still red” after he scored twice for Bayern Munich in a 3-0 beating of Chelsea on Tuesday in the first leg of a UEFA Champions League Round of 16 tie.

This after scoring four times against Spurs in a previous Champions League group stage match and Tweeting that “North London is Red.”

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

So what’s with the London form?

“I’ve got a lot of friends here,” Gnabry said after the game. “A lot of them were in the stands tonight, and it seems they give me a lot of good power.”

Gnabry only scored once during his time in England with Arsenal and West Brom but is a bona fide star in the Bundesliga.

With a three-goal advantage over Chelsea heading to Munich for a second leg, however, he’s not got his head in the clouds.

“Three goals ahead gives us a little bit of confidence, but we need to be prepared for the second leg. We can’t take it not seriously enough. … We’ve seen it last year with Liverpool beating Barcelona, so we have to be careful. We have to go into the second leg with all of our focus.”

Gnabry now has 51 goals and 29 assists in four seasons since returning to Germany from Arsenal. Not terrible production for a player the Gunners offloaded to Werder Bremen for under $6 million in 2016.

What color will London be when Chelsea buys him next year? We kid, we kid…

Champions League preview: Real Madrid renews rivalry with Pep; Lyon hosts Juve

UEFA Champions League preview
Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images
Leave a comment

The final two ties of the UEFA Champions League’s Round of 16 begin Wednesday when Manchester City and Juventus head to Spain and France.

The focus for many will be on the former, as City continues to weather UEFA drama while its manager prepares for his fiercest foe as a player and manager.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

Pep Guardiola has managed against Real Madrid 17 times and boasts a 9-4-4 record between Barcelona and Bayern Munich.

The Catalan wizard has lost his last three versus Real, two with Bayern and once in his final El Clasico as Barca boss.

Even as Guardiola stresses preparation and plan, he knows there will be bounces and that both teams will have to cope with them.

“We have to be strong, have quality and need to have luck,” he said, via The Manchester Evening News. “At this stage, it’s important but we cannot control that. We can control what we can control and we will see. This competition, last season, against Liverpool, there are decisions. You have to overcome. You need incredible concentration in our game and game plan plus try to be a little lucky.”

Real Madrid living legend Sergio Ramos has earned the ire of Guardiola on plenty of occasions, one of the few things Liverpool and City fans have in common.

Ramos wouldn’t get drawn into rivalry talk, sying the stage somewhat negates the opponent.

“I have a lot of respect for him,” Ramos said via the club’s web site. “I think he’s a fantastic coach, with loads of experience, and his numbers speak for themselves. We’re motivated by the Champions League, regardless of the players or coaches who may have been rivals in the past. We’re up for the Champions League and our next task is to beat City. From a personal point of view, I’m just focused on making the next round.”

[ MORE: Key battles for Real-Man City ]

Wednesday’s other match sees a club long linked with Guardiola, as Juventus will play the role of heavy favorites against Lyon.

Maurizio Sarri‘s side is to bidding to win what’s eluded all Juve bosses since Marcello Lippi beat Ajax in 1996. If they succeed, it will be by going down a different path than it’s traveled in recent years.

Here’s Leonardo Bonucci, via Football-Italia:

“What the coach asks of us now is basically the opposite of what the previous coach did,” Bonucci mused. “It was usually individual against individual, now it’s more about organized team movements. Obviously, you need to train consistently to get that down and playing every three days makes it difficult. But we started this journey well aware of the positives it could bring and the difficulties of getting there.”

Lyon has been maddeningly inconsistent this season, sitting seventh in the Ligue 1 table, but has the tools to surprise if Juve doesn’t bring its best. That starts in France on Wednesday.