Getty Images

Villa sign Heaton, Marvelous; Bournemouth add Danjuma

Leave a comment

Make that 12 summer signings for Aston Villa, who are having a splendid… sorry, Marvelous time in the transfer market.

Dean Smith’s side have signed goalkeeper Tom Heaton from Burnley for $10 million, while the wonderfully named midfielder Mavelous Nakamba has joined from Club Brugge.

Just marvelous. Okay, sorry, I’ll stop now.

Villa have named signed a brand new starting lineup this summer, and Smith needed to bring in this huge number of players due to a plethora of departures due to contracts ending and loan deals coming to an end. Villa have spent a remarkable $160 million on new players so far this summer. Here’s hoping this is not another Fulham-esque situation…

Speaking about his arrival at Villa Park, Heaton is delighted to bring his experience to a young Villa side.

“There’s momentum here – you could see that from afar. This club got the ball rolling last season and it turned into a huge success story in the second half of the campaign,” Heaton said. “To gain promotion was absolutely brilliant. It’s been a busy window so far – a lot of signings. But it needed to happen with a lot of players having also left the club. The majority of the signings are young, hungry and athletic. It’s a really exciting time for Aston Villa and I’m delighted to be a part of that. Hopefully, I’ll bring a bit of experience to it.”

Heaton should become Villa’s first-choice goalkeeper now, jumping ahead of Jed Steer in the pecking order. The England international will bring a steady head to a new-look and young defensive unit, and Villa have been on the hunt for a goalkeeper for some time. Deals for Neil Etheridge and Jack Butland proved troublesome so Villa turned their attention to Heaton.

As for Marvelous Nakamba, he joins for $13.3 million on a five-year deal and alongside Douglas Luiz he will battle with Jack Grealish, John McGinn and Conor Hourihane for a starting spot in midfield.

Nakamba, 25, will join his former Club Brugge teammates Wesley and Bjorn Engels at Villa.

“I’m looking forward to playing in the Premier League – and against the best players in the world in the Premier League. It’s the best league in the world. It’s always been a dream for me to play in the Premier League and to be competing against the best players in the world,” Nakamba said. “I will be trying my best, of course – and I will give everything. I give everything for the team every time. That’s who I am. I fight for the team. I care about helping the team. You will see that.”

The Zimbabwe international is a destructive force in central midfield and he will add a little bit of balance to Villa’s engine room given the mercurial attacking talents of Grealish and McGinn. Smith describes him as being “very mobile, very good in possession and he will fit in with our style of play.”


Bournemouth have also been busy in the transfer market as they signed Dutch winger Arnaut Danjuma.

The Dutch winger, 22, has signed from Club Brugge for a fee believed to be $15.7 million and the former PSV Eindhoven and NEC Nijmegen forward will excite Cherries fans.

“Arnaut is another outstanding addition to our squad and I’m delighted that he is an AFC Bournemouth player,” chief executive Neill Blake said. “This is someone we have been tracking for a number of years, who has all the attributes to become a key player for this team. Football is about entertainment and, as a technical, attack-minded player, I’m confident Arnaut will excite our fans and they will enjoy watching him.”

With Danjuma on board, questions will pop up about the future of Ryan Fraser. The Scottish winger has been a real force for Bournemouth over the last two seasons (he scored seven goals and added 14 assists last season) but has just one year left on his current contract. Fraser has been linked with the likes of Arsenal and it is easy to understand why, as only Eden Hazard provided more PL assists than him last season.

Eddie Howe has added young talent to his squad once again this summer with Lloyd Kelly, Jack Stacey and Phillip Billing also arriving.

What we love about Watford

Getty Images
Leave a comment

This week at ProSoccerTalk we will be detailing what we love about each Premier League club competing in the 2019-20 season and next up is Watford.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ] 

Each day we will release details on why who adore each team in particular as we remind ourselves just how awesome the PL is as we await its return following the suspension due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Time to take a closer look at the Hornets.


Troy Deeney: Troy Deeney is – and has been – the face of Watford since his move from Walsall in 2010. A move that came about after Deeney, a Birmingham native and Birmingham City supporter growing up, submitted a written transfer request to exit a then-League One side to make his way to the Championship. His first year at Vicarage, however, was rough. The striker managed to score only two goals in 36 league appearances, raising questions about whether or not Deeney was built survive outside England’s third division.

Since that trying first year with the Hornets, Deeney hasn’t looked back, making his way into the “Watford’s best players ever” conversation with a remarkable 129 goals in 388 appearances. Only club legends Luther Blissett – considered by many as the best Hornet ever – and John Barnes have more top-flight gals than Deeney himself. 

Historical, last-gasp win against Leicester City: May 2013, Vicarage Road. Leicester City’s Anthony Knockaert goes down in the box after minimal contact with a Watford defender. A penalty is called in the visitor’s favor. The aggregate stands at 2-2 as the clocks ticks the final seconds of a two-legged Championship play-off semifinal between the Hornets and the Foxes. Knockaert’s shot from the spot – directed right down the middle, with pace – is blocked. His second chance as well. Watford recover and immediately go back the other way.

 

Only seconds remain before the head official sends the match to penalty kicks, but Watford is looking for the final blow. Fernando Forestieri desperately sends a textbook cross inside the box. Jonathan Hogg meets the ball midair and heads it into an incoming Deeney, who seals a goal – and celebration – for the ages.

The Watford-Elton John connection: While Manchester City may have Oasis brothers Noel and Liam Gallagher rooting them on, Watford count on the support of multi-generational musician Elton John. A lifelong Hornet supporter, the English rock legend has done more than just “support” the club from the stands, though. 

In 1976, Elton John became Watford’s chairman and director. He eventually sold the club in 1987 before re-purchasing it a decade later from Jack Petchey. John no longer owns his childhood team, but he remains a part of the club as the honorary life-president.

Premier League Rivalries: North London derby

Leave a comment

One of England’s longest-running and most competitive encounters, the North London derby between Tottenham and Arsenal makes for one of greatest rivalries in Premier League.

The matchup dates back to the early 20th century and has added tons of thrilling chapters to its book of history. Since the start of the Premier League era, both clubs are constantly competing not only to outdo one another but to make a name for themselves at the top echelons of European football.

The North London derby is much more than two rivals facing off for 90 minutes, it’s the dichotomy between the two ways of living in modern-day north London.

Pro Soccer Talk’s Joe Prince-Wright dives into the derbies origin, its development and its actual reality.

The 2 Robbies Podcast: Adapting to life without football

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Robbie Earle & Robbie Mustoe touch base on how their each adapting to day-to-day life without any professional football action worldwide amid the coronavirus pandemic (0:40), how the game moves forward from here (4:50) and what certain players, coaches and teams have done to help out amid trying times (14:00). Plus, discussion on what they’ve been doing to stay active and healthy while living safely in isolation (23:00).

[ 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 ]

What we love about Southampton

Getty Images
Leave a comment

This week at ProSoccerTalk we will be detailing what we love about each Premier League club competing in the 2019-20 season and next up it is Southampton.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ] 

Each day we will release details on why who adore each team in particular as we remind ourselves just how awesome the PL is as we await its return following the suspension due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Time to focus on the Saints.


An amazing academy: From Gareth Bale, Adam Lallana, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Theo Walcott and Luke Shaw in recent years to Alan Shearer and Matt Le Tissier in the past, Southampton have always had a reputation of being eager to play youngsters and that helps massively with recruiting the best young players from around the UK and Europe. Their training facility in the New Forest national park is geared around developing young talent and if you are a fan of Southampton you’ve seen some of the best young talents in recent history pass through the club. The odd player like Le Tissier or James Ward-Prowse will stick around for their entire careers but one of the things we love most about Southampton is how often new players come through their academy. This season their most recent win against Aston Villa saw five academy products involved for Saints and one for Aston Villa, as they continue to develop top young talent which provides the club with players they don’t have to pay for, plus they can sell them on for huge profits. Will Smallbone, Michael Obafemi and Jake Vokins are the latest youngsters who will break through in the coming months. And so the conveyor belt continues.

Getty Images

Becoming the best feeder club in the Premier League: A feeder club, selling club, call it what you want, but there’s no doubt Southampton have become the top team to develop promising talent and then sell players on for huge profits. Sadio Mane, Virgil van Dijk and Morgan Schneiderlin were bought by Saints, improved at St Mary’s and then sold on for huge profits to the Premier League’s big boys. Southampton’s fans obviously do not enjoy seeing their best players sold each season but it provides them with valuable income to compete with the top 10 teams. Due to their huge overhaul in 2014 when Mauricio Pochettino left for Tottenham and Shaw, Calum Chambers, Lallana and Dejan Lovren followed him, new manager Ronald Koeman was able to lead Saints to seventh and sixth place finishes in back-to-back seasons. With four-straight top eight finishes from 2014 to 2017 with Europa League appearances and cup runrs, Southampton became the model of consistency despite losing their best players and managers. We have to give a special mention Pochettino and Koeman who both moved on to bigger jobs but owe Saints a lot for allowing them to thrive in the Premier League since their return to the big time in 2012. Moussa Djenepo, Jan Bednarek and Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg are the latest examples of players bought for relatively small sums from Europe and developed into Premier League regulars at Saints. Southampton are a family club and their is a close connection between the fans and players, which allows them to develop away from the spotlight of some of England’s bigger cities.

Getty Images

Danny Ings: The local lad played for Bournemouth, Burnley and Liverpool before returning home to play for his hometown team and boy has he made up for lost time. Ings, 27, didn’t get into Saints’ famed academy as a youngster and took a long, tough, winding round to get back to St Mary’s. After several injury-plagued seasons at Liverpool he is now fully fit and this season he’s been a revelation with 18 goals in all competitions for Saints. He is the reason they are clear of relegation trouble up until this point in the season. Everybody loves Ings. Jurgen Klopp and every single Liverpool fan adores him and there’s not a neutral out there who isn’t happy to see him scoring goals and playing with a smile on his face. Ings is on the verge of the England squad and he leaves everything out on the pitch each time he plays. He is wearing the number nine shirt and scoring goals for his hometown team and he grew up in a house just three miles from St Mary’s stadium. Ings is home and Southampton are so glad their $22.5 million signing from Liverpool is feeling comfortable and, most importantly, scoring goals.

Getty Images

‘Klopp of the Alps’ has a clear plan: It is safe to say Ralph Hasenhuttl has a clear playing philosophy and plan for Southampton and now he has been in charge for 18 months you can see things starting to come together. Southampton have one of the youngest teams in the Premier League so there’s still a lot of mistakes in their play, especially defensively, and Hasenhuttl has been hamstring by his predecessors making several mistakes in the transfer market with pretty much all of the $100 million they received from Liverpool for Virgil van Dijk in January 2018 now spent on players who are out on loan. The so-called ‘Klopp of the Alps’ is expected to sign a new long-term contract at Saints in the coming months and he loves giving young players a chance to shine, just like he did at RB Leipzig before he arrived in the Premier League. Hasenhuttl loves young, hungry players who are brave, press high and excite the fans. After Leicester smacked Southampton 9-0 earlier this season, Hasenhuttl went back to basics and Saints have been superb in recent months with wins against Chelsea, Leicester and Tottenham some of the highlights. Hasenhuttl completed his coaching badges in Germany at the same time as Klopp and their playing philosophy is eerily similar. The Klopp of the Alps looks set to stabilize Saints after recent relegation scraps and if he is ever handed money to spend, he could certainly push them back into the top 10.

Getty Images