Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images

Most notable absentees from 2018 World Cup rosters

Leave a comment

Leroy Sane was left off the Germany squad for this summer’s World Cup, an omission that makes Landon Donovan circa 2014 look like forgetting the baby formula at the store.

(Sorry, LegenD. You’re still a big, big, big deal to us, and you understand the baby nourishment point these days).

[ MORE: Karius was concussed ]

But good, even great players get left off great teams, and Germany is stacked for another run at glory. And Sane’s not alone, with World Cup hero Mario Gotze not getting a call from his nation alone.

Honorable mention to Spain’s Marcos Alonso and Cesc Fabregas, as well as Sergi Roberto. Wow. Spain is deep.

10. Adrien Rabiot, France — A substandard club season may’ve claimed Rabiot, but he’s also struggled to get regular call-ups. The surprise is a bit less than the others, though his status on the nation’s best domestic club suggests it should be higher.

9. Jack Wilshere, Arsenal — Beyond Ruben Loftus-Cheek, I simply don’t see a ball mover of Wilshere’s caliber on the Three Lions roster.

8. Mario Gotze, Germany — Sentimental, yes, but I think there’s something to be said for Germany and its support knowing a World Cup winner is sitting on the bench or at least waiting in the wings.

7. Anthony Martial, France — Incredible talents are always left out of the French side, but this one is not based solely on one club manager’s squad selection in Jose Mourinho. Martial has scored once in 18 caps for his country.

6. Mauro Icardi, Argentina — He’s only this low for two reasons. 1) Argentina is stacked in attack and someone has to miss out. 2) He’s just not a terrific dude.

5. Alexandre Lacazette, France — Scored 14 goals for Arsenal in limited time, and bagged two against Germany in November. Yet it seems the knee injury that cost him part of Arsenal’s season and a pair of March friendlies ultimately dropped him off the cliff.

4. Alvaro Morata, Spain — His form dipped massively outside of the FA Cup run, but Morata had five goals in his last four Spanish outings before surprisingly being dropped in March and beyond.

3. Alex Sandro, Brazil — To say that the Juventus wide man was one of the top players in Serie A is a given, but given his potential to do just about anything on the left side, it’s surprising to see Filipe Luis getting the nod ahead of him. Maybe it’s that Sandro is too close to Marcelo in style, and Tite wanted another style of left back?

2. Radja Nainngolan, Belgium — This is a massive risk from Roberto Martinez for a golden generation of Red Devils, and it’s an addition by subtraction move. And Belgium has fellas who can do his job, but at his best there are few that do it as well as this mad man.

  1. Leroy Sane, Germany — The Julians, Draxler and Brandt, got spots ahead of Sane, and here’s the only thing I can really produce about the omission: Sane’s success at Man City is built around the fact that Pep Guardiola would prefer the player to have the ball about 20 yards out from the end line, probably more so than even Kevin De Bruyne in the center-right. Perhaps Joachim Loew thinks Sane won’t work as well when the focus is not on him?

Transfer rumor roundup: Soyuncu to Arsenal, Martial staying put

Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images
Leave a comment

The Manchester Evening News says Manchester United has no intention of selling Anthony Martial this summer.

The report notes that Martial will remain with Alexis Sanchez and Marcus Rashford as United left wingers, and that United is going to continue its recruitment of Willian and Gareth Bale. In the case of Willian, MEN writer Samuel Luckhurst says United has already had some discussions with the Chelsea star.

[ MORE: Messi talks future ]

Speaking of United, the Red Devils and rivals Manchester City were reportedly both rebuffed in bids to take advantage of Inter Milan’s Financial Fair Play problems, tossing $62 million bids the way of the Italian club in hopes of prying center back Milan Skriniar from Serie A.

Skriniar, 23, played every league minute for Inter, scoring four goals and averaging 2.3 tackles and 4.5 clearances per game.

According to Sky Sports:

Both clubs made the approach for the Slovak knowing Inter need to raise around €40m (£35m) before June 30 to avoid falling foul of UEFA’s Financial Fair Play rules, but the Nerazzurri deem the 23-year-old unsellable after his outstanding debut season.

Newcastle United could spring a Liverpool reunion, with Martin Skrtel reportedly being offered to Rafa Benitez’s Magpies for just under $5 million. Skrtel, 33, scored thrice for Fenerbahce this season, leading the team in clearances with an audacious 7.3 per game. Only one player, Osmanlispor’s Yalcin Ayhan, had more (7.9) in all of the Turkish Super Lig.

Staying in Turkey, 21-year-old national team defender Caglar Soyuncu had some interesting comments on his recruitment. He’s currently with Freiburg, and confirmed Arsenal’s interest.

“Arsenal are one of the most important clubs in England,” he said. “I know they’re interested in me, but there’s nothing finalized yet about my transfer. After the national team camp we’ll have talks.”

Transfer rumor roundup: Man United plans Joe Hart move and more

Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Pro Soccer Talk takes a glance at some of the biggest transfer rumors on Sunday…

[ MORE: Bale brace guides Real to third straight UCL title ]


We start in Manchester, where the Red Devils are reportedly interested in raiding their cross-town rivals for a back-up goalkeeper.

Man United is said to have interest in Manchester City’s Joe Hart, who missed out on being called up to England for the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

Hart has spent the last two seasons on loan from the Citizens, spending 2016/17 in Serie A with Torino and this past season with West Ham United.


Sticking with United, the Red Devils are preparing a new contract for Anthony Martial, according to the Sun.

Martial has become a regular for United since joining from Monaco in 2015, scoring 36 goals in all competitions.


Finally, Danny Rose could be making a Merseyside move if Everton has it their way.

The Toffees are eyeing up the Tottenham left back, although Manchester United has also expressed its interest in the England international.

Rose missed a significant portion of the 2017/18 season due to a knee injury, and the 27-year-old could be on the move this summer despite spending the last 11 seasons in London with Spurs.

Tottenham target trio in summer overhaul

AP
1 Comment

Fresh from Mauricio Pochettino and his staff signing new five-year deals at Tottenham Hotspur, multiple reports claim the Argentine coach has lined up a trio of new signings to focus on this summer.

According to the Daily Mirror, Pochettino wants to bring in Anthony Martial from Manchester United’s, Fulham’s young star Ryan Sessegnon and Ajax’s teenage defender Matthijs de Ligt this summer.

This incomings would be part of a big summer overhaul as Toby Alderweireld could join Man United, while Danny Rose, Mousa Dembele and Fernando Llorente are all said to be available for transfer this summer as Spurs prepare to arrive in their new White Hart Lane stadium.

Poch released a statement after he signed his new deal stating that he and chairman Daniel Levy “have spoken at length about our aspirations for this football club. We both share the same philosophies to achieve long-term, sustainable success.”

Previously the Argentine had expressed his belief that Spurs will need to spend more money if they’re going to achieve their long-term goals of challenging for the Premier League trophy and European glory.

With Poch signing a new deal (said to be worth over $60 million over five years) he has obviously gained assurances from Levy that money will be spent on new signings and in Martial, Sessegnon and de Ligt.

Martial, 22, is clearly looking for a way out of Old Trafford with Jose Mourinho making it abundantly clear the French forward doesn’t have a future under him. Martial missed out on making France’s World Cup squad and despite having a long-term deal at United the striker needs regular minutes to get his career back on track.

Spurs’ other forward options, aside from Harry Kane, are Llorente (his arrival as a back-up to Kane just didn’t work out last season), Heung-Min Son and that’s about it. Pochettino could certainly use some firepower and Martial may well be used as a makeweight in a deal for Alderweireld.

Working with Pochettino would also be a very attractive proposition for Sessegnon and de Ligt, as the duo know they will get chances to play at Spurs and the way in which Dele Alli, Kane and others have developed proves that Poch can help them kick on to the next level.

If Rose leaves this summer, as expected, then Sessegnon would be the perfect replacement to battle it out with Ben Davies for the starting spot at left back. However, the 18-year-old left wing-back may well stay with his boyhood club Fulham if they’re promoted to the Premier League via the Championship playoff final against Aston Villa on Saturday at Wembley.

In the case of de Ligt, the Ajax youngster has been interesting Manchester City, among many other clubs across Europe, but the Dutch defender will surely see a brighter future at Spurs, especially if Alderweireld does move on as a spot will open up.

With Pochettino locked into a new deal, Spurs can continue to attract the top young talent across the planet such is his success at nurturing their skills and turning them into global stars.

Tottenham have the first building block in place to continue their charge as a top four club, now they need to add extra strength in-depth and then lock down the likes of Kane, Alli and Christian Eriksen to new long-term deals.

Premier League season reviews: Clubs 4-1

Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images
Leave a comment

With the 2017-18 Premier League season now done and dusted, it’s time to review the campaigns of all 20 clubs.

[ MORE: Grades for all 20 PL clubs ]

Below we finish our season reviews by analyzing the key moments, the star men and how the managers performed for the teams who finished 4th to 1st in the PL table.

[ MORE REVIEWS: Clubs 20-15 | Clubs 14-10 | Clubs 9-5 ]

Let’s get to it…


Liverpool

(Peter Byrne/PA via AP)

Final place: 4th with 75 points
Defining moment: At the end of the day, two teams can say they beat Manchester City, who will arguably go down as the greatest PL team of all time, the season: Manchester United and Liverpool. The Reds were the first to do it, ending the runaway champions’ unbeaten start at 22 games with a thrilling 4-3 victory at Anfield in January.
Biggest victory: Liverpool 4-0 Arsenal — the game that made it abundantly clear to the entire world that Liverpool knew one way, and one way only, to play the game: emphatically and without mercy.
Low point: After losing 4-1 to Tottenham Hotspur on Oct. 22, Jurgen Klopp‘s side sat 9th in the PL table, 12 points behind Man City, and had won just one of their previous six games. Sometimes you have to hit rock bottom before you can rise from the ashes: Liverpool would go 14 games unbeaten following that awful outing at Wembley Stadium.
Star man/menMohamed Salah swept all the major PL awards after scoring 32 goals and tallying 10 assists in his first season at Anfield. Roberto Firmino notched 15 and 7 to go with 10 and 7 from Sadio Made.
Manager(s) marks out of 10: Jurgen Klopp (9/10)
Grade for the season: A-


Tottenham Hotspur

(Photo by Jordan Mansfield/Getty Images)

Final place: 3rd with 77 points
Defining moment: In between playing Man City away in December and at home in April, Tottenham played 14 league games, and they lost none of them and drew just three. In back-to-back-to-back games, they beat Man United, drew Liverpool and beat Arsenal.
Biggest victory: Breaking the 28-year drought at Stamford Bridge will, in a season full of highs while playing in a temporary home venue, go down as the fanciest feather in Mauricio Pochettino‘s cap.
Low pointLosing to Arsenal in mid-February sent Spurs into their worst run of results all season — winless in four (two draws, two losses) — before rebounding quickly and kicking off the aforementioned 14-game unbeaten run.
Star man/men: Kane scored 30 PL goals for the first time in his career (somehow once again besting successive seasons of 29, 25 and 21); Christian Eriksen hit 10 goals and 10 assists for the first time in the PL; Dele Alli fell just short of the double-double with 9 and 10; Son Heung-Min scored a dozen of his own and set up a half-dozen for others.
Manager(s) marks out of 10: Mauricio Pochettino (8/10)
Grade for the season: A-


Manchester United

(AP Photo/Dave Thompson)

Final place: 2nd with 81 points
Defining moment: From Dec. 23 to Dec. 30, Man United played three games — away to Leicester City and home against Burnley and Southampton — and drew all three. It would be incredibly harsh to call an 81-point season a disappointment, but that week-long run of results was simply too commonplace for the Red Devils this season.
Biggest victory: As mentioned above, United are one of only two sides to beat City all season, and they did so in thrilling fashion in early April to delay City’s inevitable title celebrations.
Low point: Heading into the season’s first Manchester derby, the gap between City and United stood at just eight points — a manageable deficit to overturn for Jose Mourinho’s men. A win would have cut it to five, but the real-life result — a 2-1 win for City — pushed it to 11, and the title race was over.
Star manRomelu Lukaku led the way with 16 goals (plus 7 assists), yet many fans and pundits alike have taken a harsh view of his first season at Old Trafford. Paul Pogba chipped in with 6 and 10, while Anthony Martial, Jesse Lingard and Marcus Rashford scored 9, 8 and 7 goals, respectively.
Manager(s) marks out of 10: Jose Mourinho (8/10)
Grade for the season: A-


Manchester City

(Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)

Final place: 1st with 100 points
Defining moment: Setting the following single-season records, among others: points (100), wins (32), goals scored (106), goal differential (+79).
Biggest victory: Numerically, 6-0 over Watford. In terms of meaning and intent, 5-0 over Liverpool, or 4-1 over Spurs.
Low point: Each of the aforementioned defeats — the only PL defeats on the season — will have stung badly: Liverpool, for the end of the unbeaten dream; United, for the missed opportunity to celebrate the title against their most bitter rivals.
Star man: The quartet of Kevin De Bruyne, Raheem Sterling, Sergio Aguero and Leroy Sane averaged 14.25 goals and 12 assists this season. Take your pick, pick your poison, etc.
Manager(s) marks out of 10Pep Guardiola (10/10)
Grade for the season: A+