Dejan Lovren

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Transfer Rumor Roundup: Haller nearing West Ham move, Lovren to AC Milan

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According to multiple reports across England, West Ham is close to its marquee Marko Arnautovic replacement as Sebastian Haller is nearly a Hammer.

Haller’s club Eintracht Frankfurt confirmed that the 25-year-old is on his way to London for a medical and will be a Hammer before long. His signature would represent a club-record fee of $55.9 million according to both the BBC and Sky Sports, far surpassing the $44.7 million paid for Felipe Anderson.

Haller is a goalscorer as well as a contributor, bagging 24 goals in 60 Bundesliga appearances for Eintracht Frankfurt in his two years with the club and also assisting 13 more. The analytics folks love the move.

With Lucas Perez, Arnautovic and Andy Carroll all having departed the club this summer, the addition of Haller is a much-needed boost to the West Ham attack that includes Felipe, Robert Snodgrass, and Javier Hernandez.


Divisive Liverpool defender Dejan Lovren, who infamously declared not so long ago that he is the best defender in the world, is rumored to be considering a move away from Anfield after last season’s Champions League winning campaign.

According to Nicolo Schira of Gazzetta dello Sport, Lovren is a target for AC Milan, although he would likely be asked to take a serious pay cut from his current Anfield salary. The report says that Liverpool wants at least $22 million for Lovren’s services, and that AC Milan would offer him a contract of $13.6 million over four years. That’s a significant drop from the $5.6 million a year he makes currently.

Still, if a deal can be struck, it may be enticing for Lovren considering his playing time at Liverpool has dipped in the past year. Now 30 years old, Lovren appeared in just 13 games for Liverpool last season, partially due to a pair of injuries but also having lost his place to Joel Matip. He was on the bench behind Matip for the final three matches of the Champions League run after starting the final next to Virgil Van Dijk the year before.


According to French publication L’Equipe, Southampton is in talks with OGC Nice to offload winger Sofiane Boufal. The Moroccan international joined Saints in 2016 from Lille but spent last season on loan with Spanish club Celta Vigo where hee scored just three goals in 35 league appearances.

With those struggles, his value has reportedly dropped to just $11.2 million, having been purchased for $21 million three years ago. L’Equipe says that while fellow French clubs Marseille and Bordeaux were interested, neither wanted to commit to a permanent transfer, with both wishing for a loan with an option to buy, whereas Nice has gone the extra mile.

Boufal was with the Moroccan squad in the Africa Cup of Nations this summer, appearing in three of their four matches, with all three appearances off the bench. He did not score or assist a goal.


Over the past few days there have been reports that should Leicester City cash in on Harry Maguire to Manchester United, they could pounce for Brighton defender Lewis Dunk as his replacement for about half the reported fee they would receive from the Red Devils. Now, with more time to think, that price may have spooked the Foxes.

According to Rob Dorsett of Sky Sports, Leicester City may decide to stick with internal replacements instead of spend big on a defender they don’t believe to be of accurate value in the market. Dorsett mentions 23-year-old Caglar Soyuncu and 22-year-old Filip Benkovic as possible options to receive more playing time.

Benkovic, a Dinamo Zagreb youth product who arrived at Leicester City last summer, received his Croatian international debut this summer as a reward for a solid loan spell at Celtic last season. Aside from an ankle injury that sidelined him for all of February, Benkovic was a regular in the Celtic lineup and helped them post a glittering defensive record en route to the Scottish Premiership title, conceding just 20 goals in 38 matches. Celtic also lost every Europa League match that Benkovic missed, while they won three and lost one of the four he played.

Soyuncu joined Leicester last summer as well, coming over from German side Freiburg, but only saw the field for six Premier League matches, starting four. Of the four matches he started, the club conceded just one goal in every game, and he also started the EFL Cup loss to Manchester City that saw the league champions score just once in regulation before losing on penalties.


Kieran Trippier is reportedly receiving interest from major European clubs and could be considering an exit from Tottenham this summer, despite the season drawing closer. According to Daily Telegraph reporter Matt Law, Trippier has particularly interested Atletico Madrid, who could be in for a $25 million move.

Given Trippier’s growth at Tottenham and importance to Mauricio Pochettino‘s setup, selling a player of Trippier’s quality for that low a price seems a poor decision for Spurs, but if the player has his head turned after a run to the Champions League final there may not be much the club can do.

A right-back by trade, Trippier was recently deployed by Pochettino as part of a three-center-back system that saw the England international transform into one of the most versatile defenders in the Premier League, maintaining a strong defensive stance but also swinging out wide to perform wing-back duties at times and becoming one of the Premier League’s best free-kick takers.

Trippier’s name has cropped up a few times this summer, but nothing remotely concrete has taken hold and it would at this point be surprising if Daniel Levy allows an England international in his prime with three years left on his contract to depart so cheaply.

Report: Liverpool signs Dutch teen Sepp van den Berg

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According to a report by Matt Law of The Telegraph, Liverpool has secured the $2 million signing of 17-year-old center-back Sepp van den Berg from Dutch club PEC Zwolle.

The report states that van den Berg is set for a medical with the club on Wednesday and that the Reds beat Bayern Munich and Ajax to the deal. It also states that Sampdoria was unsuccessful with a larger bid of $2.9 million back in January, and Liverpool has pounced with van den Berg set to enter the final year of his contract.

While van den Berg was a member of the PEC Zwolle first team last season, making 15 Eredivisie appearances and racking up 901 league minutes, the report states that van den Berg will take a season to integrate himself to the new squad and surroundings before challenging for a first-team spot with Liverpool. However, according to a report by the BBC, there is “belief” that van den Berg could potentially earn himself a place on the Liverpool first team that currently sports Virgil Van Dijk, Joel Matip, Joe Gomez, and Dejan Lovren at his position.

It will help van den Berg immensely that Liverpool already sports Dutch international defender van Dijk as part of the roster as well as another current Dutch international in Georginio Wijnaldum. The youngster is currently a starter on the Dutch U-19 squad that narrowly missed out on qualification for the U-19 Euros later this summer, finishing a point behind Spain for the Group 4 lead after a brutal 1-0 loss to Spain back in March on a 90th minute goal.

Van den Berg would constitute Liverpool’s first signing of the summer should he join, with the Reds at this point not expected to be major players for any significantly large deals this summer.

Southampton ‘not a pig to be fattened’

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Southampton’s majority owner Gao Jisheng has rarely talked about purchasing the Premier League club. If ever.

However, the Chinese real estate tycoon has now been talking and it doesn’t seem like he’s willing to pump much, if any, of his own money into Saints in the coming years.

In a rare interview with the Financial Times in Shanghai, Gao revealed some of his plans for the future of the South Coast club.

“I am not treating Southampton as a pig to be fattened and sold,” Gao said. “I am treating it as a child. But my children must believe they cannot depend on the boss. I have said to Southampton: ‘I am now your father. But I am putting you on the right track: you need to feed yourself.’”

He added: “The club’s financial situation is good this year and it doesn’t require more investment.”

Southampton’s fans will not be too shocked to hear these words from Gao, but will be intrigued to have had heard anything at all from him.

The Chinese businessman often attends games but has never spoken publicly about his reasons and motivations for buying an 80 percent stake in the club from the Liebherr family back in 2017.

With his property company Lander Sports buying the club, Gao recently sold a large chunk of his stake in Lander to the Chinese government which led to the Premier League requesting information from Southampton about whether or not they were now owned by the state of China.

Gao has brushed off those suggestions, saying he has given the PL the information they need and they are satisfied. Lander Sports, who own the 80 percent stake in Saints, are based in Hong Kong due to strict laws about risky foreign investments in mainland China.

All of this is a little confusing for Southampton fans, but the main thing to come from Gao’s comments is that they shouldn’t expect a huge flurry of big money signings as long as he’s the owner but they could spend some money this summer without selling anybody.

Gao wants the club to be self-sustaining and that is pretty admirable in this day and age when fans demand huge money spent on new players, and will then slam the club when relegation could see it spiral into financial meltdown.

Southampton have always been a club which produces young talent and then sells players on for a huge profit. That won’t change anytime soon.

But after two close shaves with relegation over the past two seasons, it is clear Southampton’s squad needs a large rebuild under Ralph Hasenhuttl this summer. If they can sell on a plethora of players who have been out of the picture and out on loan last season, then they will be able to reinvest that cash in new players.

How successful Saints are at doing that this offseason will determine if Hasenhuttl’s side can kick on and push for a top 10 finish next season. The coach has worked wonders with one of the youngest squads in the PL since he arrived last December and there is plenty of promise that a full season of Hasenhuttl-ball will see Saints not embroiled in yet another relegation scrap.

Gao’s comments underline the fact he will not spend big like Wolves’ Chinese owners Fosun, but given how much Saints have spent over the past few years (they are one of the few PL clubs to make a profit in transfer business year in, year out) this wasn’t a huge surprise.

With Southampton playing a game in China again this offseason, their new sponsorship deal with LD Sports (a company yet to launch in China) has seen them double their revenue in terms of sponsorship in a club-record deal.

Gao’s connections in China are helping the club financially in certain aspects, but it appears they will not pump money in to try and challenge the PL’s elite like they did in years gone by under Ronald Koeman. In truth, their success under Koeman was fuelled by selling a host of star names such as Adam Lallana, Luke Shaw, Dejan Lovren and Morgan Schneiderlin, which allowed them to buy Sadio Made, Dusan Tadic, Graziano Pelle and Virgil Van Dijk among others.

Saints must unearth a few more gems in the transfer window this summer to keep their model rolling along and bring about another push into the top half of the table. They have a great manager, some talented youngsters and a sensible owner.

The latter will hamper any progress their fans have of making another push for European qualification in the years to come.

How will Spurs, Liverpool line up for Champions League final?

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There are major selection decisions for both Mauricio Pochettino and Jurgen Klopp ahead of the UEFA Champions League final, as key players for Tottenham and Liverpool have returned to fitness ahead of this game.

Pochettino and Klopp will have a restless night…

The showpiece event in Madrid’s Wanda Metropolitano Stadium on Saturday sees two familiar Premier League foes collide as Liverpool beat Spurs 2-1 on both occasions in the PL this season.

Given those tactical battles, the second game closer than the first, it will be intriguing to see what formation and personnel both managers go with.

Here’s a look at the latest team news and projected lineups for the mammoth clash in the Spanish capital.


TOTTENHAM

—– Lloris —–

—- Trippier —- Alderweireld —- Vertonghen —- Rose —-

—– Winks —- Sissoko —–

—- Eriksen —- Alli —- Son —-

—– Kane —–


LIVERPOOL

—– Alisson —–

—- Alexander-Arnold —- Gomez —- Van Dijk —- Robertson —-

—– Henderson —- Fabinho —- Wijnaldum —–

—- Salah —- Firmino —- Mane —-


Analysis of team news, starting lineups

There is one name which has dominated the team news ahead of this game: Harry Kane. Will he start? Is he fit enough to only be on the bench? Do Tottenham risk the balance of their team if their leading goalscorer cannot drop deep and drag defenders into awkward pockets if he isn’t fully fit? Pochettino will have had sleepless nights figuring out if his star striker, who has been out since early April, should. Come straight back into the team for the biggest game in Spurs’ history. Tottenham’s manager knows it is a decision which will make or break not only the final but perhaps his entire career as a boss. This is massive.

The rest of Spurs’ lineup hardly picks itself as injuries have mounted up over the final months of the season. But Kieran Trippier, Toby Alderweireld and Jan Vertonghen will be at right back and at both center back spots respectively. The latter has recovered from injury, while Danny Rose has stepped in well for the injured Ben Davies at left back. Rose’s pace going forward may well force both Mohamed Salah and Trent Alexander-Arnold to be more defensive.

In midfield Moussa Sissoko will start alongside one of Eric Dier, Harry Winks or Victor Wanyama, and that is a huge call. Wanyama is a true destroyer and has shielded Spurs’ defense well against Liverpool in the past, while Dier is handy to have coming off the bench with his poise on the ball and flexibility to play as a center back, at full back or in midfield. Winks has the skill on the ball to dictate the tempo of the game, but he has been out with a recent injury. Up top Eriksen, Alli and Son will support either Moura and Kane, and at this point it would seem harsh for Moura to lose his spot in the starting lineup after his heroic second half hat trick at Ajax in the semifinal to get Spurs to Madrid. Pochettino’s decision to go with Kane or Moura up top from the start will render all of his other decisions as minor.

Liverpool’s potential starting lineup decisions are very easy for Klopp.

He really has only one dilemma: who starts alongside Virgil Van Dijk at center back?

Joe Gomez has shaken off the rust since returning from injury, but Joel Matip has been steady enough for most of the season and will likely get the nod, while Dejan Lovren has been the odd man out. Gomez would be my pick, but it would be harsh on Matip to leave him out. With Naby Keita out injured, it is between Fabinho and Milner for a spot alongside Henderson and Wijnaldum in midfield. With Roberto Firmino’s return to fitness, that means the likes of Daniel Sturridge, Divock Origi and Xherdan Shaqiri will have to be content with making a contribution off the bench if needed.

De Ligt reportedly chooses Barcelona; Klopp set at CB

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Liverpool, Manchester United, and pretty much everyone but Barcelona looks set to miss out on Matthijs de Ligt.

De Ligt, 19, has paired with Liverpool’s Virgil Van Dijk while in the Netherlands national team set-up, but reportedly is opting to join Ajax teammate Frenkie de Jong at Barcelona.

[ MORE: Brighton hires new boss ]

In the case of Liverpool, Sky Sports says that Reds boss Jurgen Klopp thinks he doesn’t need another center back.

Injuries hit Liverpool’s center backs this season outside of Van Dijk. Joel Matip and Dejan Lovren were rated highly and combined for just over 2500 minutes, while young Joe Gomez suffered a long-term injury midway through the season.

If all are healthy, Liverpool has decent depth. Yet even Gomez doesn’t have the upside to shake a stick at De Ligt if the 19-year-old was truly interested in coming to Anfield.

I mean, “Are you interested in this 19-year-old captain of a Champions League semifinalist? He’s interested in coming there” usually doesn’t yield a firm, “No.”

As for Barcelona, it will reinforce its back line a year after allowing 36 goals. That’s pretty decent, but the Blaugranas‘ third-highest total of the last decade.