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Analyzing the Premier League relegation battle

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The battle at the bottom of the Premier League table has intensified over the past few weeks, as eight teams are now embroiled in the relegation scrap.

This is getting intense.

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Big wins for Cardiff City, Burnley and Newcastle have muddled the situation, while only Fulham and Huddersfield seem doomed for the drop. That means six teams are scrapping to stay out of 18th place.

Below we take a look at the situation for the bottom eight clubs with 12 games to go, while the likes of Leicester, Bournemouth, West Ham and Everton will also be looking over their shoulders nervously.


Huddersfield

The Terriers are already prepping for next season in the second-tier under Jan Siewert and haven’t won a PL game since November. Scoring goals has been their big problem, and they have plenty of big boys to play in the final weeks of the season. Adding another 11 points from their final 12 games seems a tad generous too…

Current position: 20th
Current points: 11
Games remaining: Newcastle (A), Wolves (H), Brighton (A), Bournemouth (H), West Ham (A), Crystal Palace (A), Leicester (H), Tottenham (A), Watford (H), Liverpool (A), Man United (H), Southampton (A)
Projected final points tally: 22 points


Fulham

The Cottagers are really up against it now and they play three of the top five in their remaining games. They can still get out of trouble, but it seems very unlikely. Claudio Ranieri is being lambasted by his own fans and even though they look capable of scoring, Fulham’s defensive displays have been ghastly all season long.

Current position: 19th
Current points: 17
Games remaining: West Ham (A), Southampton (A), Chelsea (H), Leicester (A), Liverpool (H), Man City (H), Watford (A), Everton (H), Bournemouth (A), Cardiff (H), Wolves (A), Newcastle (H)
Projected final points tally: 29 points


Southampton

Not beating any of Cardiff, Palace and Burnley in their last three was a huge blow fore Saints after a good run of wins. Ralph Hasenhuttl‘s men will likely go into the final week of the season with a chance of staying up. For the second season running Southampton are in big trouble and their hopes rely on Danny Ings staying fit. Saints’ survival hopes will go down to the wire once again.

Current position: 18th
Current points: 24
Games remaining: Arsenal (A), Fulham (H), Man United (A), Tottenham (H), Watford (A), Brighton (A), Liverpool (H), Wolves (H), Newcastle (A), Bournemouth (H), West Ham (A), Huddersfield (H)
Projected final points tally: 39 points


Cardiff City

The Bluebirds have been in great form recently with big wins against Bournemouth and Saints boosting their survival hopes. They have games against each of the top four remaining, but they have momentum. Neil Warnock‘s side will have the neutrals support in the run-in, but do they have the goals to seal the deal?

Current position: 17th
Current points: 25
Games remaining: Watford (H), Everton (H), Wolves (A), West Ham (H), Brighton (A), Chelsea (H), Man City (A), Burnley (A), Liverpool (H), Fulham (A), Crystal Palace (H), Man United (A)
Projected final points tally: 39 points


Newcastle United

Newcastle have played really well in recent weeks and look sharp going forward. Miguel Almiron will be key, but their schedule is extremely favorable as their toughest games remaining are against Arsenal and Liverpool, with the latter at home.

Current position: 16th
Current points: 25
Games remaining: Huddersfield (H), Burnley (H), West Ham (A), Everton (H), Bournemouth (A), Arsenal (A), Crystal Palace (H), Leicester (A), Southampton (H), Brighton (A), Liverpool (H), Fulham (A)
Projected final points tally: 42 points


Burnley

Sean Dyche‘s men have been in fine form recently and despite a tough final few months of the season (schedule wise) they’ve turned the corner. The Clarets should be fine, just about, but their final four games are very tough. Have to get points on the board ASAP.

Current position: 15th
Current points: 27
Games remaining: Tottenham (H), Newcastle (A), Crystal Palace (H), Liverpool (A), Leicester (H), Wolves (H), Bournemouth (A), Cardiff (H), Chelsea (A), Man City (H), Everton (A), Arsenal (H)
Projected final points tally: 40 points


Brighton & Hove Albion

If there’s one team everyone is expecting to get dragged into the bottom three it is Brighton. They have won one of their last 11 PL games and Chris Hughton‘s side are making big defensive mistakes. They still have to play four of the top five. If Glenn Murray doesn’t regain his form, Brighton are in big trouble.

Current position: 14th
Current points: 27
Games remaining: Leicester (A), Huddersfield (H), Crystal Palace (A), Cardiff (H), Southampton (H), Tottenham (A), Bournemouth (H), Wolves (A), Newcastle (H), Arsenal (A), Man City (H), Chelsea (A)
Projected final points tally: 37 points


Crystal Palace

The addition of Michy Basthuayi and the return to form of Wilfried Zaha means Palace will be fine. They aren’t great to watch, but Roy Hodgson will get the job done. Not the easiest schedule remaining, but they are more than capable of picking up a few shock wins.

Current position: 13th
Current points: 27
Games remaining: Leicester (A), Man United (H), Burnley (A), Brighton (H), Tottenham (A), Huddersfield (H), Newcastle (A), Man City (H), Arsenal (A), Everton (H), Cardiff (A), Bournemouth (H)
Projected final points tally: 41 points


Fulham boss Ranieri acknowledges fan unrest amid relegation fight

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Claudio Ranieri is losing the battle against relegation at the helm of Fulham, but that’s not all he’s losing. The fans are turning on him as well.

Fulham fans jeered Ranieri’s substitutions during the 3-0 defeat to Manchester United, and he recognized their unrest in his post-match media availability.

“I know the fans were not happy but I had two players with flu in the week, including Andre Schurrle,” Ranieri said. “I can understand the fans always want their players to play but it’s not always possible. We will work to try and win our next two games. We’re always positive.”

While Fulham fans have taken to Schurrle – winner of January’s Premier League Goal of the Month award for his stunner against Burnley – that’s not all they’re upset about. Fan favorites Tom Cairney and Ryan Sessegnon were both unused substitutes against Manchester United, even with the team playing from behind early on.

Ranieri has said publicly he wishes to play far more direct than his predecessor Slavisa Jokanovic, who became well-liked for his free-flowing, possession-based style of play, to which Cairney and Sessegnon were vastly important. Now, with Ranieri’s style far from that which saw Fulham win promotion to the Premier League under Jokanovic, he has left Cairney and Sessegnon on the bench for multiple matches, causing Fulham fans to question the Italian’s decision-making.

While those two are ball-playing midfielders who are less useful in a more direct setup, they are vital players to the club for the last three seasons, leaving fans wondering whether the manager should adapt more to the squad’s best players. Fans also have become attached to Jokanovic’s style of play, and many opposed the decision to let him go in November, fairly or unfairly giving Ranieri an even shorter lead, and coupled with just one win and five defeats in the last six matches under the new style of play, fans are beginning to lose patience quickly.

What’s more, the club’s porous defense – the worst in the top five European leagues by goals conceded – has capitulated early in matches, conceding inside the opening half-hour in four of their last five matches, including a 14th-minute goal by Paul Pogba that began the Old Trafford defeat on Saturday, with Anthony Martial scoring nine minutes later to double the lead. Cairney and Sessegnon both came off the bench in that game, but not until the final 13 minutes.

Ranieri hopes Fulham can kickstart safety sprint v. Man Utd

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Fulham boss Claudio Ranieri oversaw the most unlikely title in Premier League history, so he won’t be daunted by the task of making up seven points in 12 matches.

[ MORE: JPW’s PL picks ]

That season in question, when Leicester City lifted the 2015-16 Premier League trophy, saw Ranieri manage a pair of 1-1 draws at Manchester United.

The Red Devils are better this year, and Ranieri’s side is decidedly worse. United is yet to lose under manager Ole Gunnar Solksjaer, leaving Ranieri to play the odds a bit while praising Saturday’s visitors. From FulhamFC.com:

“I think the results speak for themselves. All victories and just one draw. The players changed their mind, they’re more involved and they are fighting together.

“We are in a bad moment but our confidence is high and we continue to fight. Sooner or later they have to lose a match, no? Why not against us?”

Ranieri was in charge when the then-Jose Mourinho-managed Red Devils beat Fulham 4-1 at Old Trafford, and will seek the Cottagers’ fifth win of the season Saturday at Craven Cottage.

Claudio Ranieri on Fulham’s relegation battle

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Claudio Ranieri‘s Fulham lost 2-0 at Crystal Palace and are now seven points from safety in the Premier League.

The Cottagers missed a big early chance as Aleksandar Mitrovic headed wide, and they never recovered from Cyrus Christie handling in the box to give away a cheap penalty kick.

Speaking after the game, Ranieri made a point of saying Fulham were in trouble when he arrived back in November.

“The first half was good until the penalty, we had the match in our hands. We controlled the match. The penalty changed the match. They deserved to win in the second half, they were better than us. They had three or four chances – well done to Roy.

“The service to Mitrovic was not good enough. We spoke a lot about crosses, crosses, crosses. I tried to do something – I put another striker on but it wasn’t good. We were in trouble from the beginning but we will continue to be positive, be strong. It’s important to be optimistic. We have a target in our mind.”

That last part just sounds like Ranieri trying to remind everyone that Fulham were in deep trouble when he replaced Slavisa Jokanovic. And they were.

But Fulham have only picked up three wins in Ranieri’s 13 PL games in charge and although they had plenty of the ball at Selhurst Park they couldn’t penetrate Palace’s defense at all. Going forward, for once, they struggled but it was the same story at the back as defensive mistakes are costing them dear.

With games against Man United, West Ham, Southampton, Chelsea, West Ham, Liverpool and Man City in their next seven, it is tough to see where the points are coming from for Fulham to get themselves out of trouble.

Fulham skipper Tom Cairney bemoaned their mistake in the first half against Palace and summed up the magnitude of the task ahead.

“A sloppy penalty gave them something to hold on to, that’s frustrating. They were as desperate as us for the points,” Cairney said. “We need wins. Quite a few wins. I think it will be less than 40 points to stay up this year. I am confident we can do it, we have got to believe.”

Premier League January transfer window grades (video)

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The deals have now been done. Every Premier League club now knows the squad of players they have until the end of the 2018-19 campaign.

Like it or not, this is what they have to work with.

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After a flurry of deals on Transfer Deadline Day, and some big movements in January, plenty of clubs have freshened things up ahead of the final push between now and May.

Below we give each team a grade based on how they fared, overall, in the January transfer window.


Arsenal: C

A pretty average window for Arsenal. Denis Suarez arrived on loan and will add some extra quality in midfield, but did they really need another silky midfielder? Probs not. A failure to strengthen in defense, especially after a spate of injuries, is a real concern. With no money to spend, we probably expected too much as late deals for Ivan Perisic and Christopher Nkunku didn’t materialize.

In: Denis Suarez (Barcelona) Loan
Out: Emiliano Martinez (Reading) Loan, Emile Smith Rowe (RB Leipzig) Loan


Bournemouth: B

The Cherries did their business early and their squad is looking stronger with Clyne and Mepham adding quality to their defensive unit. Solanke, when he returns to full fitness, will be a handful and keeping hold of Callum Wilson was perhaps the best piece of business Eddie Howe did this month.

In: Nathaniel Clyne (Liverpool) Loan, Chris Mepham (Brentford) $15 million, Keelan O'Connell (Morton) Loan, Dominic Solanke (Liverpool) $24.1 million
Out: Jermain Defoe (Rangers) Loan, Alex Dobre (Yeovil Town) Loan, Tyrell Hamilton (Salisbury) Loan, Jordan Holmes (St Mirren) Loan, Corey Jordan (Eastbourne Borough) Loan, Tyrone Mings (Aston Villa) Loan, Marc Pugh (Hull City) Loan, Aaron Ramsdale (AFC Wimbledon) Loan, Charlie Seaman (Dundee United) Loan, Matt Worthington (Yeovil Town) Free


Brighton & Hove Albion: D

Very quiet January for Brighton and you have to think they needed a bit of extra quality, especially in attack, to stop their recent slide down the table. Chris Hughton brought in plenty of players in the summer, so this stance is understandable.

In: Tudor-Cristian Baluta (Viitorul Constanta) Undisclosed, Alexis Mac Allister (Argentinos Juniors) Undisclosed, Jan Mlakar (NK Maribor) Undisclosed

Out: Billy Arce (CS Emelec) Loan, Ben Barclay (Notts County) Loan, George Cox (Northampton Town) Loan, Anders Dreyer (St Mirren) Loan, Josh Kerr (Derry City) Loan, Jordan Maguire-Drew (Leyton Orient) Undisclosed, Mathias Normann (FC Rostov) Undisclosed, Oliver Norwood (Sheff Utd) Undisclosed, Ezequiel Schelotto (Chievo) Loan, Markus Suttner (Fortuna Dusseldorf) Loan, Ben White (Peterborough) Loan, Alexis Mac Allister (Argentinos Juniors) Loan, Stefan Ljubicic (Eastbourne Borough) Loan


Burnley: C

A bizarre deal on Deadline Day highlighted January for Sean Dyche‘s improving side. Sam Vokes left for Stoke and Peter Crouch arrived as the veteran will fit their system well off the bench. You can already picture Crouch getting on the end of those crosses from Burnley’s wingers and full backs…

In: Peter Crouch (Stoke City) Undisclosed

Out: Jimmy Dunne (Sunderland) Loan, Ali Koiki (Swindon Town) Loan, Ntumba Massanka (RWD Molenbeek) Loan,, George McMahon (Ashton United) Loan, Conor Mitchell (Linfield) Loan, Sam Vokes (Stoke City) Undisclosed


Cardiff City: C+

Neil Warnock focused all of his attention on Emiliano Sala, who became their club-record signing, and his tragic disappearance has hit Cardiff City hard on and off the pitch. Niasse and Bacuna will play right away and are shrewd additions, but Cardiff would have wanted to do a bit more business.

In: Leandro Bacuna (Reading) Undisclosed, Oumar Niasse (Everton) Loan, Emiliano Sala (Nantes) Undisclosed

Out: Omar Bogle (Portsmouth) Loan, Ciaron Brown (Livingston) Loan, Mark Harris (Port Vale) Loan, Gary Madine (Sheffield United) Loan, Paul McKay (Morecambe) Loan, Anthony Pilkington Released, Lee Tomlin (Peterborough)


Chelsea: B

Christian Pulisic’s arrival for $73 million happened right at the start of the window and long-term he will prove to be a good buy. Gonzalo Higuain arriving on loan was necessary, as Cesc Fabregas, Alvaro Morata and Michy Batshuayi all departed. Maurizio Sarri needs to make Higuain’s move work, but he will be a little miffed he didn’t sign a new central midfielder.

In: Christian Pulisic (Borussia Dortmund) Undisclosed, Gonzalo Higuain (Juventus) Loan

Out: Lewis Baker (Reading) Loan, Cesc Fabregas (Monaco) Undisclosed, Josh Grant (Yeovil Town) Loan, Matt Miazga (Reading) Loan, Alvaro Morata (Atletico Madrid) Loan, Victor Moses (Fenerbahce) Loan, Lucas Piazon (Chievo) Loan, Christian Pulisic (Borussia Dortmund) Loan, Kasey Palmer (Bristol City) Loan, Karlo Ziger (Sutton United) Loan, Michy Batshuayi (Crystal Palace) Loan


Crystal Palace: B+

The addition of Michy Batshuayi on Deadline Day changed Palace’s fortunes, as he will provide a real focal point to their attack. Bakary Sako‘s return was unexpected but makes sense, and Palace really needed extra options in attack as they’re sorted in mdifield and defense. A very good window for Roy Hogdson, overall.

In: Lucas Perri (Sao Paulo) Loan, Bakary Sako (West Brom) Undisclosed, Michy Batshuayi (Chelsea) Loan
Out: Joseph Hungbo (Margate) Loan, Sullay Kaikai (Breda) Undisclosed, Nya Kirby (Blackpool) Loan,  Jordon Mutch (released), Jason Puncheon (Huddersfield Town) Loan, Alexander Sorloth (KAA Gent) Loan, Oliver Webber (Greenwich Borough) Loan, Jonny Williams (Charlton) Undisclosed


Everton: D

Marco Silva will have wanted to sign a new striker in the window, but he did spent plenty of cash in the summer. Everton have loaned out a few fringe players, but if they had signed someone like Batshuayi then they would have improved their chances of finishing seventh drastically. Keeping hold of midfield destoryer Idrissa Gueye, who was chased by PSG up until the window closed, was their best piece of business this window.

In: None
Out: Kieran Dowell (Sheffield Utd) Loan, Mason Holgate (West Brom) Loan, Shayne Lavery (Falkirk) Loan, Cuco Martina (Feyenoord) Loan, Oumar Niasse (Cardiff City) Loan, Yannick Bolasie (Anderlecht) Loan


Fulham: D

Claudio Ranieri‘s side needed to sign plenty of new defenders this month. They signed one in Norwegian utility man Havard Nordtveit on Deadline Day, but Gary Cahill turned them down. Lazar Markovic also arrived right at the end of the window, but he’s yet another attacking player. Ryan Babel adds an extra dimension to their attack, but you have to feel that this Fulham squad is still unbalanced.

In: Ryan Babel (Besiktas) Undisclosed, Havard Nordtveit (Hoffenheim) Loan, Lazar Markovic (Liverpool) Undisclosed
Out: Stephen Humphrys (Southend) Undisclosed, Aboubakar Kamara (Pictured, Yeni Malatyaspor) Loan


Huddersfield Town: D

The Terriers look resigned to relegation and their business in January proved it. David Wagner‘s departure meant big deals were unlikely for new manager Jan Siewert, but Jason Puncheon is a solid addition. That said, Huddersfield needed to spend big in the window if they were going to give themselves any chance of staying up. They didn’t.

In: Jaden Brown (Spurs) Undisclosed,  Jason Puncheon (Crystal Palace) Loan, Karlan Grant (Charlton Athletic) Undisclosed
Out: Jaden Brown (Exeter City) Loan, Rarmani Edmonds-Green (Brighouse Town) Loan, Rekeil Pyke (Rochdale) Loan,  Collin Quaner (Ipswich Town) Loan, Ryan Schofield (Notts County) Loan, Ramadan Sobhi (Al Ahly) Loan, Rajiv Van la Parra (Middlesbrough)


Leicester City: C

One addition in January came on Deadline Day, and Leicester added promising Belgian midfielder Youri Tielemans from Monaco. Adrien Silva went in the opposite direction, and Tielemans is a quality pick up. The 21-year-old shone at Anderlecht in the past and played for Belgium at the World Cup in the summer.

In: Youri Tielemans (AS Monaco) Loan
Out: Yohan Benalouane (Nottingham Forest) Undisclosed, Fousseni Diabate (Sivasspor) Loan, Callum Elder (Ipswich) Loan, Vicente Iborra (Villarreal) Undisclosed, Adrien Silva (Monaco) Loan


Liverpool: C

No additions for Liverpool, and their squad is so strong that is not surprising. Solanke and Clyne moved to Bournemouth and Jurgen Klopp may have been tempted to bring in a new defender to help with some injuries. In the end, Liverpool did what they needed to: nothing.

In: None
Out: Nathaniel Clyne (AFC Bournemouth) Loan, Ovie Ejaria (Reading) Loan, Liam Miller (Kilmarnock) Loan, Dominic Solanke (AFC Bournemouth) Undisclosed


Manchester City: C-

Pep Guardiola‘s men were linked with adding cover in central midfield to help Fernandinho, and they did sign promising Croatian midfielder Ante Palaversa from Hajduk Split. He was loaned back to the Croatian side right away and the 18-year-old is highly rated in his homeland.

In: Ante Palaversa (Hajduk Split) Undisclosed
Out: Brahim Diaz (Real Madrid) Undisclosed,  Ed Francis (Wolves) Undisclosed Luke Bolton (Wycombe Wanderers) Loan, Rabbi Matondo (Schalke) Undisclosed, Ante Palaversa (Hajduk Split) Loan


Manchester United: C

A quiet window, as expected, at United as caretaker boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has improved their star players straight away. Easy window.

In: None
Out: Ethan Hamilton (Rochdale) Loan, Joel Pereira (KV Kortrijk) Loan, Regan Poole (Newport) Loan, Ro-Shaun Williams (Shrewsbury Town) Undisclosed


Newcastle United: B+

One of the winners of the window, as Rafael Benitez was given money to spend as they broke their club-record transfer fee and paid $27.5 million for Miguel Almiron. The Paraguayan attacker has been a revelation in MLS and although this is a huge step up, his arrival is something we didn’t think we would see under Mike Ashley.

In: Miguel Almiron (Atlanta United) $27.5 million, Antonio Barreca (Monaco) Loan
Out: Liam Gibson (Accrington) Loan, Elias Sorensen (Blackpool) Loan, Jamie Sterry (Crewe) Loan,  Josef Yarney (Chesterfield)


Southampton: C-

No arrivals at Saints in January as Ralph Hasenhuttl focused on trimming his squad and promoting youth players. Out went Davis, Gabbiadini, Hoedt and Cedric, with Charlie Austin nearly leaving too. Could the failure to add a striker this month cost Southampton their place in the Premier League? We will wait and see, but this was a window which sees them have a leaner and better-balanced squad. From the outside looking in it seems like Saints got rid of plenty of talented players for no reason. A risky tactic from Hasenhuttl, but he is all about the team-first approach.

In: None
Out: Steven Davis (Rangers) Loan, Manolo Gabbiadini (Sampdoria) Undisclosed, Wesley Hoedt (Celta Vigo) Loan, Ryan Seager Released, Cedric Soares (Inter Milan) Loan


Tottenham Hotspur: C

Tottenham have now gone a full 12 months without signing a single player. Wow. Losing Mousa Dembele was a blow, but expected, as Harry Winks and Oliver Skipp will be expected to pick up the slack. Tottenham have suffered with injuries, but can they afford players who will make their squad better? Not right now given the move to their new stadium. Sensible business for Mauricio Pochettino even if they tried to chase an extra striker late in the window.

In: None
Out: Jaden Brown (Huddersfield Town) Undisclosed, Mousa Dembele (Guangzhou R&F) Undisclosed, Georges-Kevin Nkoudou (Monaco) Loan, Kazaiah Sterling (Sunderland) Loan


Watford: C

The biggest win in January for Watford was keeping hold of Abdoulaye Doucoure as PSG were linked with a move for him. Quiet window for Javi Gracia, as he continues to get this Watford squad performing above their potential.

In: Adam Parkes (Southampton) Undisclosed
Out: Stefano Okaka (Udinese) Loan, Jerome Sinclair (Oxford United) Loan, Ben Wilmot (Udinese) Loan, Randell Williams (Exeter City) Undisclosed, Marvin Zeegelaar (Udinese) Loan


West Ham United: C+

A strange window for the Hammers as Marko Arnautovic was linked with a move to the Chinese Super League but ended up signing a new contract with the club. They were linked with a big money move for Uruguayan striker Maxi Lopez and that may now happen in the summer, while Samir Nasri‘s arrival on a free transfer was a smart pick up.

In: Samir Nasri (Unattached) Free, Mesaque Dju (Benfica) Undisclosed
Out: Sead Haksabanovic (Norrkoping) Loan, Moses Makasi (Stevenage) Loan, Toni Martinez (Lugo) Loan, Vashon Neufville (Newport) Loan, Reece Oxford (FC Augsburg) Loan,
Joe Powell (Northampton) Loan


Wolverhampton Wanderers: C

Wolves were looking at adding some extra cover in attack, with Tammy Abraham close to joining on loan right at the start of the window. In the end, Nuno Espirito Santo‘s men didn’t really need extra help going forward and signing right back Jonny from Atletico Madrid on a permanent basis on Deadline Day was superb business.

In: David Wang (Jumilla B) Undisclosed, Ed Francis (Manchester City) Undisclosed, Jonny (Atletico Madrid) Undisclosed
Out: Benik Afobe (Stoke) Undisclosed, Danny Batth (Stoke) Undisclosed, Harry Burgoyne (Falkirk) Loan, Ethan Ebanks-Landell (Rochdale) Loan, Bright Enobakhare (Coventry) Loan, Kortney Hause (Aston Villa) Loan, Ben Stevenson (Colchester United) Undisclosed,  David Wang (Sporting Lisbon) Loan