Issa Diop

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Just how different will Manchester United look next year?

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It’s Sunday morning, Paul Pogba wants to leave Manchester United, and the USWNT doesn’t play its World Cup match until Noon: Let’s deal in theoreticals by starting with a fact.

This season is going to be a major challenge for one Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

The Manchester United boss will seemingly be pulling together a significant amount of new parts into a team which is coming off a sixth place finish in the Premier League, with four of the five teams ahead of him having maintained their managers and most if not all key pieces.

Oh, and he’ll have to fashion this team based out of parts willing to buy into the club’s mystique and ignore the lack of UEFA Champions League play (which is seemingly why Paul Pogba is ready to skip town).

Big paychecks will help, but there’s no way to quickly meld these pieces into one unit. That’s especially true if the biggest piece of their 2018-19 puzzle, Pogba, isn’t in the middle of the park (or pushed a bit forward).

Juan Mata, Ander Herrera, and Antonio Valencia are out of contract, and Romelu Lukaku has been as mentioned as any striker on the market (He has three goals in four days for Belgium, albeit against Kazakhstan and Scotland).

Pogba’s potential departure puts a lot of weight on Ed Woodward to spend money well (One could make an argument for United needing 60-80 percent of those names).

Subtracting them and adding no one, United’s best XI is something like David De Gea, Diogo Dalot, Eric Bailly, Victor Lindelof, Luke Shaw, Scott McTominay, Nemanja Matic, Anthony Martial, Andreas Pereira, Jesse Lingard, and Marcus Rashford.

As an aside, the expectations and pressure heaped on Rashford by the “he’s better than Lukaku, play him now centrally” media crowd is going to be a burden if the 21-year-old has to bear the center forward burden alone. My goodness are there Old Trafford subplots in excess or what?

Now, of course, there are seven weeks to go in the transfer window and there’s no guarantee Pogba and Lukaku will leave town. In fact, you may want to place your confidence on Pogba opening the season unhappy but at Old Trafford. Either way, the center of the park is going to get a remarkable makeover, and both center back and goalkeeper will get upgrades, too.

To the fixes:

— United is expected to spend big on Crystal Palace right back Aaron Wan-Bissaka, who was sensational last season with the Eagles. They reportedly have sent a $51 million offer to Roy Hodgson‘s squad.

— They’ve been linked with desire for Issa Diop, though West Ham has hopes of $75 million for the center back who made JPW’s Top Ten of the season.

Wilfred Ndidi is “flattered” by links to United, but is focused on Nigeria’s Africa Cup of Nations line. Should the Red Devils want to buy the 22-year-old, he’s likely in the same price range as the above names.

— Don’t forget Monaco’s Youri Tielemans, who feels like a PL player from his outstanding time at Leicester City last season. He’d merit another $50 million or so.

It’s worth noting that all would get more European football than at their current home with a bump in wages plus an new iconic shirt. Don’t sleep on that.

You’re probably talking a $240-250 million outlay there, should United land them.

Without going further, nor mentioning Swansea’s young Daniel James and Sheffield United loanee Dean Henderson, you can see a thread here: United could be showing us how a Premier League Best XI without any Top Six players would fare in the top flight.

Of course, United has also been linked with big buys from outside of the Premier League and many of these are older than Ndidi, Diop, Tielemans, and AWB.

But taking those four young players and assuming a focal point/back bone strengthening holding mid would likely join part-time players and full-time leaders Nemanja Matic and Chris Smalling (and maybe Juan Mata).

Now of course there are rumors of experienced leaders Ivan Rakitic of Barcelona and there could be a return from Real, PSG, or Juve. And this whole post looks even worse when United swaps Pogba for Neymar straight-up.

Here’s another question in the myriad facing Solskjaer and Woodward: Is the Europa League a better route to the Champions League than the idea of beating out two of Spurs, Arsenal, Chelsea, Man City, and Liverpool (And noting that Spurs, City, and Liverpool will be heavily expected to finish 1-2-3 in some permutation and Chelsea has a leg up on the field assuming Eden Hazard is their lone significant departure).

Manchester United w/ above transfers (Age when season starts)

De Gea (28)

Wan-Bissaka (21) — Lindelof (25) — Diop (22) — Shaw (24)

Ndidi (22) — Matic (30)

Tielemans (22)

Lingard (26) — Rashford (21) — Martial (23)

What a time to be alive. Rashford better deliver!

Report: Manchester United bids big for West Ham’s Diop

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Somewhere, Jose Mourinho just threw something through a window.

Manchester United is being linked with a swoop for West Ham United revelation Issa Diop, mere months after the former Red Devils manager credited the Irons for identifying the player in France.

[ MORE: USMNT roster shuffle ]

United is said to be willing to spend approximately $57 million and send a player to the London Stadium.

Sky says West Ham doesn’t want to sell him and has a minimum price of $75 million in mind.

Mourinho not only famously begged for center backs from chairman Ed Woodward during his last season at United, he called Diop “a monster” and congratulated the scout who found him.

PST’s Joe Prince-Wright rated Diop as the 10th best center back in the Premier League season. The now 22-year-old was already Toulouse club captain when West Ham came calling last summer.

This would be a solid buy for United, though we’re not sure the Irons would be willing to sell the big man. Diop has proven himself at the Premier League level, is very young for the position, and West Ham is investing all over the pitch in a bid to become a contender.

As for the player to come back, that’s an odd nut to crack. We’re pretty sure West Ham isn’t going to want to pay huge wages for a middling talent. I’ll duck from the rotten tomatoes, but maybe West Ham is willing to make Romelu Lukaku its long-sought center forward (Marko Arnautovic is 30, and he’s also Marko Arnautovic).

Ranking top 10 Premier League players at each position

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There are 25 players in each Premier League squad, but who not only starred for their respective clubs but also elevated themselves to the upper echelons of the league this season?

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights

We pondered that as we analyzed those who rose to the challenge best over the past nine months.

Below is a look at our complete list of the top 10 players in each position based on their play during the 2018-19 campaign.


Goalkeepers
1. Ederson
2. Alisson
3. David De Gea
4. Kepa
5. Ben Foster
6. Lukasz Fabianski
7. Hugo Lloris
8. Jordan Pickford
9. Rui Patricio
10. Martin Dubravka


Right backs
1. Trent Alexander-Arnold
2. Matt Doherty
3. Aaron Wan-Bissaka
4. Cesar Azpilicueta
5. Ricardo Perreira
6. Kyle Walker
7. Seamus Coleman
8. Kiko Femenia
9. Pablo Zabaleta
10. Yan Valery


Left backs
1. Andrew Robertson
2. Lucas Digne
3. Ben Chilwell
4. Luke Shaw
5. Jonny Otto
6. Patrick Van Aanholt
7. Ben Davies
8. Nacho Monreal
9. Jose Holebas
10. Emerson Palmeri


Center backs
1. Virgil Van Dijk
2. Aymeric Laporte
3. Toby Alderweireld
4. Jan Vertonghen
5. Vincent Kompany
6. Sokratis
7. Antonio Rudiger
8. Conor Coady
9. Michael Keane
10. Issa Diop


Central midfielders
1. Fernandinho
2. Joao Moutinho
3. Moussa Sissoko
4. David Silva
5. Jordan Henderson
6. Andre Gomes
7. Abdoulaye Doucoure
8. Fabinho
9. N'Golo Kante
10. Youri Tielemans


Attacking midfielders
1. Eden Hazard
2. Bernardo Silva
3. Kevin De Bruyne
4. Christian Eriksen
5. Gerard Deulofeu
6. Dele Alli
7. James Maddison
8. Gylfi Sigurdsson
9. Paul Pogba
10. Diogo Jota


Wingers
1. Raheem Sterling
2. Bernardo Silva
3. Sadio Mane
4. Mohamed Salah
5. Wilfried Zaha
6. Ryan Fraser
7. Pedro
8. Ryan Babel
9. David Brooks
10. Nathan Redmond


Strikers
1. Sergio Aguero
2. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang
3. Harry Kane
4. Roberto Firmino
5. Alexandre Lacazette
6. Raul Jimenez
7. Heung-Min Son
8. Jamie Vardy
9. Marcus Rashford
10. Salomon Rondon


West Ham stun rivals Tottenham (video)

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  • Antonio scores winner
  • West Ham’s first away win since Dec. 27
  • Tottenham slip up in top 4 battle
  • First defeat at new stadium for Spurs

West Ham United shocked Tottenham 1-0 on Saturday, as Mauricio Pochettino‘s men lost for the first time at their new stadium.

Michail Antonio scored the winner (the first goal by an opposition player at Spurs’ new stadium) in a second half which the Hammers dominated, as Spurs failed to take their chances in the first half and looked sluggish throughout with maybe their UEFA Champions League semifinal first leg on Tuesday on their mind.

With the win West Ham move on to 46 points for the season and boost their chances of a top 10 finish, while Spurs could be just one point clear of Arsenal by the end of this weekend.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

The first big chance of the game fell to Spurs, as Dele Alli picked out Son’s run but the South Korean star saw his near-post effort denied by Lukasz Fabianski.

Ryan Fredericks‘ drive from outside the box was denied by Hugo Lloris, as Felipe Anderson then broke free but his tame effort was right at Lloris.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights

Lucas Moura flashed a shot inches wide after a sharp turn as the home side pinned the Hammers back before half time.

Fabianski was sharp to deny Eriksen after a shot deflected into his path, with the Hammers a threat on the break as Anderson‘s deflected shot almost caught out Lloris but Spurs dominated the play.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

West Ham started well in the second half as Arnautovic played in Fredericks but his shot was deflected over, while Anderson caused plenty of problems.

Eventually the Hammers scored the goal their second half performance deserved as Arnautovic clipped in a delightful ball to Antonio who controlled well and smashed home to send the away fans wild.

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

Arnautovic almost curled in a second for West Ham late on as Spurs struggled to create chances and Antonio was denied a second by Lloris after another searing counter from the Hammers.

Issa Diop then surged in on goal but his shot didn’t have the power to beat Lloris, as it was the visitors, not the home side, who looked most likely to add to their tally.

Vincent Janssen almost rescued a point for Spurs with the final kick of the game, but Fabian Balbuena cleared off the line to secure a big derby win for West Ham.

Watch Live: Tottenham v. West Ham

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Tottenham host West Ham United on Saturday (Watch live, 7:30 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com) as Mauricio Pochettino‘s men aim to take another huge stride towards a top four finish with a big London derby win.

WATCH LIVE ONLINE HERE

Ahead of their UEFA Champions League semifinal first leg against Ajax on Tuesday, Spurs have a four point cushion ahead of Arsenal who sit in fifth place. West Ham sit in 11th and must win all three of their remaining games to have any chance of finishing seventh.

In team news Spurs are without Jan Vertonghen who has picked up a small injury. Juan Foyth starts at right wing back again in a 3-4-2-1 formation. Moussa Sissoko and Harry Winks aren’t fit enough to make the Spurs squad.

West Ham start Marko Arnautovic up top, while Javier Hernandez is fit enough to be on the bench as Issa Diop and Ryan Fredericks come into the back four.

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