Manchester United have already said they will be “ruthless” as they rebuild their squad this summer, and it appears they are trying to crack on with that as soon as possible.
[ MORE: Can Spurs beat Ajax? ]
A report from the Evening Standard states that the Red Devils are lining up deals for two Portugal youngsters who have impressed mightily in the Portuguese capital this season.
Joao Felix and Bruno Fernandes are at the top of United’s summer wishlist, and the report states that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer wants to seal the deals as soon as possible. A transfer fee of $196 million for both of the players has been suggested, with Felix costing a little more as Benfica aim to cash in on their top talent after his stunning season.
The only snag is that United may not be able to offer the duo Champions League action next season, as their chances of finishing in the top four are very slim heading into the final two weeks of the season.
Man City and Real Madrid have also been linked with a move for Felix, just 19 years old, as the Portuguese attacker is dubbed ‘the new Cristiano Ronaldo’ in his homeland. The Benfica youngster has scored 18 times in his first season in the top-flight and his trickery and direct play saw him score a hat trick in their UEFA Europa League quarterfinal first leg win against Eintracht Frankfurt.
As for Fernandes, 24, Man City are also chasing him hard as he continues to score goals from midfield for Sporting Lisbon (he has 28 in all competitions this season) and is exactly the type of player who could replace Juan Mata and Paul Pogba if they leave this summer, as expected.
These two midfielder are needed, for sure, but United also need to add a center back, right back and another striker this summer if they are truly going to kick on under Solskjaer this summer.
There is a core of players at Old Trafford for Solskjaer to build around, but it is clear they need to cut plenty of players adrift this summer and that will be tough to do.
Our latest Premier League player Power Rankings are here and there are new faces pushing their way into the upper echelons.
[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]
Stars from Premier League giants Liverpool, Man United, Arsenal, Man City and Wolves dominate our power rankings after some impressive performances and there are plenty of new entries and plenty of players from the same teams.
[ MORE: Club Power Rankings ]
Remember: this is a list of the top 20 performing players right now in the Premier League. If they didn’t play in the last matchweek, they aren’t getting in this list!
Let us know in the comments section below if you agree with the selections.
1. Anthony Martial (Man United) – New entry
2. Diogo Jota (Wolves) – New entry
3. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Arsenal) – Up 16
4. Olivier Giroud (Chelsea) – New entry
5. Kevin De Bruyne (Man City) – Up 6
6. Richarlison (Everton) – Up 1
7. Dwight McNeil (Burnley) – New entry
8. Sadio Mane (Liverpool) – Up 2
9. Moussa Djenepo (Southampton) – New entry
10. Bukayo Saka (Arsenal) – Down 5
11. Raul Jimenez (Wolves) – New entry
12. Bruno Fernandes (Man United) – Up 4
13. Dani Ceballos (Arsenal) – Down 9
14. Mohamed Salah (Liverpool) – Even
15. Martin Dubravka (Newcastle) – New entry
16. Roberto Firmino (Liverpool) – Down 4
17. Harry Maguire (Man United) – Down 9
18. Aaron Wan-Bissaka (Man United) – Down 12
19. Stuart Armstrong (Southampton) – New entry
20. Nicolas Pepe (Arsenal) – Down 7
Two Premier League teams play in the UEFA Champions League Round of 16 this week as Chelsea host Bayern Munich and Man City head to Real Madrid in the first legs.
Which battles will determine the outcome of these games?
[ MORE: Predicting the UCL last 16 encounters ]
Below we take a look at three crucial head-to-head clashes which will be pivotal in deciding which teams will reach the quarterfinals.
Chelsea v. Bayern Munich
Antonio Rudiger v. Robert Lewandowski: The former has become a real threat from set pieces for Chelsea but his main role will be to stop the most lethal striker in Europe this season in Lewandowski’s. Bayern’s target man is ageing like a fine French win and has 40 goals to his name in all competitions for club and country. Chelsea’s defense has struggled at times this season and Lewa must be licking his chops in anticipation as he tries to win his first-ever Champions League title.
Jorginho v. Corentin Tolisso: Two pass-masters in central midfield will be a joy to watch. Jorginho has a more defensive role to play with N’Golo Kante out and the Italian will look to deliver perfectly weighted passes to get Chelsea’s attack going. As for Tolisso, his engine alongside Thiago Alcantara works really well and helps to plug plenty of gaps. The French international has class on the ball and he and Jorginho are very similar players.
Reece James v. Alphonso Davies: This is a battle we should all look forward to. Canadian star Davies has been a revelation at left back for Bayern and is encouraged to steam ahead and join in attacks whenever he can. James does exactly the same for Chelsea and has made the position his own in his debut season in the Premier League. These two players will be around at the top level and playing in the Champions League for a very long time and you can expect incisive runs up and down as they go head-to-head.
Real Madrid v. Man City
Casemiro v. Kevin De Bruyne: This will be one heck of a job for Real’s Brazilian destroyer. Of course, Casemiro can play too but his main role will be to shut down Kevin de Bruyne who has been in imperious form for Man City in recent weeks. When KDB is fit and firing on all cylinders he is almost unstoppable and he is a player who continues to be linked with a move to Real this summer amid the uncertainty over Man City’s two-season European ban.
Sergio Ramos v. Sergio Aguero: The master of the dark arts against the master of finishing will be fascinating viewing. The Sergio’s will put on a show and Aguero will fancy his chances of wriggling past Ramos and being the hero. That said, how many times have we written off Ramos in the past? The Real Madrid and Spain skipper seems to always find a way of coming out on top but he will be stretched to his limits as his Real defense try to put out fires all over the place with Aguero, KDB and Raheem Sterling or Gabriel Jesus popping up.
Karim Benzema v. Aymeric Laporte: The latter has been influential since his return from injury and his absence is the main reason Man City are so far behind Liverpool in the Premier League title race. Benzema’s physicality could cause Laporte some issues and like Ramos, he is underrated for a player who has been pivotal in winning four Champions League titles with Real Madrid. Laporte is good on the ball and Benzema’s clever turns and flicks means this battle will be more about brains than brawn.
LYON, France (AP) French club Lyon says its sold-out Champions League home game against Juventus will go ahead as planned on Wednesday despite the coronavirus outbreak in nearby Italy.
Lyon said in a statement on Tuesday it received the go-ahead from French authorities for the match to take place “in its initial configuration.”
Up to 3,000 Juventus fans coming from different regions of Italy are expected to attend Groupama Stadium for the last-16, first-leg match.
The fast-spreading virus from China has led to the postponement of Serie A games in northern Italy, where a cluster of the COVID-19 disease has caused seven deaths and towns to be locked down.
Health Minister Olivier Veran told RTL radio on Tuesday that France is not considering closing its border with Italy, nor banning big gatherings of people because it would not make sense.
Asked specifically about the Lyon-Juventus match, Veran said: “Should we ban gatherings? Should we stop the (Paris) Fashion Week? Should we stop matches? Should we close universities? The answer is no.”
More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports
Robbie Earle & Robbie Mustoe review Matchweek 27 in the Premier League which saw Liverpool come from behind to beat West Ham 3-2 (0:50), Chelsea’s impressive 2-1 win over Tottenham (13:35) and Arsenal’s thrilling 3-2 victory over Everton (24:00). Plus, discussion on Leicester City 0-1 Manchester City (31:45), Manchester United 3-0 Watford (35:05) and our Underappreciated Performances of the weekend (40:00).
[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]
To listen to more lively conversations and passionate debate from Robbie Earle and Robbie Mustoe, subscribe to The 2 Robbies Podcast on Apple Podcasts or anywhere you listen to podcasts.
And you can follow them on Twitter @The2RobbiesNBC here.
[ Click here for The 2 Robbies archive ]