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Transfer news: Soumare to Liverpool; Lemar to Man United

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Transfer news continues to rumble on despite the lack of games due to the coronavirus pandemic, as plenty of the Premier League big boys are said to be in talks over summer signings.

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Let’s take a look at some of the latest Premier League transfer news below.


Do Liverpool need a new box-to-box midfielder? Apparently so.

With Fabinho in and out of the team through injury, plus Naby Keita linked with a move back to RB Leipzig and James Milner becoming more of a bit-part player, it is perhaps one of the only areas where Jurgen Klopp can strengthen his incredible Liverpool squad.

A report from Spanish outlet Sport claims that Liverpool have held talks with Lille over signing Boubakary Soumare, 21, for some time and are keen on the young Frenchman.

Soumare was linked with a move to either Chelsea or Man United in January but remained at Lille and it appears he will have even more options this summer, or whenever the transfer window opens.


As for Man United, they are said to be interested in Atletico Madrid winger Thomas Lemar, 24, who has totally fallen out of favor with Diego Simeone.

After it looked like he could sign for Liverpool, Chelsea or Arsenal in the summer of 2017, Lemar joined Atletico from AS Monaco in 2018 but has struggled to adapt his game to La Liga and according to ESPN his agents have been in discussions with Man United earlier this week.

The French international has quality on the ball and is a fine dribbler and his arrival could perhaps spell the end at Man United for the likes of Jesse Lingard and Andreas Perreira, as Lemar can operate across all three attacking midfield positions. Alongside the brilliant Bruno Fernandes, Lemar would provide something a little different for Man United’s attack with Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford leading the line. Daniel James has faded a little in recent months after a strong start to life at Old Trafford but is still young but Lemar’s quality and experience would surely see him become a regular at Man United.

As the report notes, Lemar will not come cheap as he has three years left on his contract at Atletico but his direct dribbling style and pace on the counter would suit this Man United side very well. His qualities aren’t suite to the way Atletico play but that would not be the case at Man United under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

Klopp reacts to end of Liverpool’s UCL reign

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Liverpool mainstay James Milner and manager Jurgen Klopp faced the camera after Liverpool’s UEFA Champions League run ended at Anfield.

The Reds controlled play for most of a 3-2 extra-time loss to Atletico Madrid in the second leg of their UCL Round of 16 tie, but fell apart after an Adrian mistake set up the first of three late goals for Diego Simeone’s side.

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“They got the first goal, took the stuffing out of us and obviously we were chasing the game after that point,” Milner said (full video here via BeIn). “I thought it was a great performance from the start. We created a lot of chances against a very tough team. We probably should’ve taken a few more of them. But obviously 2-0 we had done a good job at that point. It’s the cost of not getting an away goal, really.”

Klopp was ready to put as positive a spin as he could on the loss, and he wasn’t wrong in most of what he proffered the cameras.

The Reds out-attempted Atleti 34-10 and had 71 percent possession, but Jan Oblak made nine saves and Liverpool finished very poorly in what could’ve been a cakewalk.

They fell 4-2 on aggregate.

[ MORE: Simeone, Trippier, Llorente praise capacity to suffer ]

“Super proud of the boys because for 95 minutes we played a sensational game,” Klopp said. “Our big mistake was to score the second goal five minutes to late. Clearly better side, dominated a side which is packed with world-class players. They defend in a way that was difficult to break down but we did it constantly. We did it constantly.”

Klopp neglected to blame Adrian for his game-changing error filling in for Alisson Becker, mentioning that the Spaniard had “saved us” plenty of times in the past.

Instead, he turned his attention to how hard Atleti had to work to dethrone the reigning UCL champs.

“I really feel proud and I should be. I told them already they should be really proud. We know in some moments we needed luck or a really good hand like against Napoli. We didn’t have that tonight, but really thank you to everybody tonight for the journey. The crowd tonight, wow. You see what you need to beat us here. You need a lot of luck and some help from us.”

UPDATE: Klopp took some shots at Atleti in separate interviews.

First, he proffered:

“I don’t understand with the quality they have the football they play. They could play proper football but they stand deep and have counter-attacks.”

Then, in his press conference with assembled media later in the evening, he continued.

“I’m an under-average loser,” he said. “If I said all the things I have in my mind, I would look like the worst loser in the world so it’s best I stop here.”

He was then asked to follow up those thoughts. He did.

“The way they play I just don’t get it, but the win is right,” he said. “Don’t lose respect with the questions you ask further because you should know already. If not then you didn’t see the game.”

 

Atleti ends Liverpool hopes of UCL repeat

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Marcos Llorente scored twice in extra time, the first off an extra-time blunder from Liverpool goalkeeper Adrian, as Atletico Madrid knocked the reigning champions out of the UEFA Champions League on Wednesday.

The match finished 3-2 to Atleti, 4-2 on aggregate, as Alvaro Morata scored late to pour salt in Liverpool’s wounds.

[ MORE: Klopp, Milner react | Simeone, too ]

The Reds forgot their finishing boots on a dominant day, out-attempting Diego Simeone’s visitors 34-9. Atleti goalkeeper Jan Oblak made nine saves.

Roberto Firmino’s goal in the fourth minute of extra time joined Georginio Wijnaldum‘s first-half goal to give Liverpool an advantage it held for less than two minutes.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]


Three things we learned

1. Gini and The Ox run the show, but miserable finishing kills Reds: Wijnaldum and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain rewarded Jurgen Klopp for his risk of removing off-kilter star Fabinho from the Starting XI. The pair teamed up on the opening goal but it was more than that that earned them headlines. Wijnaldum was the best player not named Jan Oblak in the first half, while Oxlade-Chamberlain was a menace to Atleti’s midfielders in the second frame. While Jordan Henderson was understandably a bit rusty at times, his center midfield mates delivered the goods.

That said, Liverpool’s finishing was a combination of truly poor and terribly unlucky. Even when the Reds went ahead in stoppage time, it was Firmino cashing in a rebound after his first shot toward a gaping half of the goal hit the post. Robertson headed off the cross bar. Mohamed Salah shot ball after the ball almost directly to Jan Oblak or over the goal. This won’t go down as “Atleti is so hard to break down,” though Simeone’s men obviously are a tough team; The Reds just didn’t finish enough of their many, many chances.

2. Oblak almost everywhere: Not sure where exactly the joke is here, but Atletico Madrid’s goalkeeper blocked nearly everything that came his way, inspiring “Oh” and “Oh” from the Anfield faithful. The Slovenian shot-stopper

3. Adrian gives it away: Spanish keeper Adrian had very little to do on the day in filling in for the injured Alisson Becker, but ultimately will go down as the man responsible for Liverpool’s failure to defend its UCL crown. He made three saves on the day, but his poor pass up the middle of the pitch to Joao Felix will be what everyone remembers as Liverpool again loses a big UCL match due to a goalkeeper error (and terrible finishing).

Man of the Match: It’s Oblak. Yes, Llorente scored twice. Sure, Oxlade-Chamberlain and Wijnaldum were incredible. But the Slovenian commanded his box in the face of extreme adversity and congestion.


Liverpool entered the match with predictable vigor, Jan Oblak’s first duty coming off a Georginio Wijnaldum header of a Trent Alexander-Arnold cross.

Atleti found its footing soon after, Kieran Trippier unable to turn a long diagonal ball off a free kick back toward goal.

Salah tempted the frame with a 20-yard attempt in the 10th minute, and Oblak made a sprawling denial of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain four minutes later.

Atleti won a corner in the 17th, but Felipe nodded short of the near post.

Salah took advantage of a Renan Lodi slip to cue up Sadio Mane, but his bounding shot was blocked and collected by Oblak.

The Atleti keeper then made a fantastic save on Roberto Firmino after an incisive Alexander-Arnold cross.

Wijnaldum leveled the tie in the 43rd minute, and the goal had been coming. Oxlade-Chamberlain’s cross found a wide-open Wijnaldum at the spot for a powered-down header that bounced past Oblak.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Salah stung Oblak’s palms early in the second half, and the Atleti keeper stopped an offside Mane with a fantastic left-hand save in the 50th.

Oblak got low to palm away an Oxlade-Chamberlain drive, conceding a corner.

Joao Felix had a chance out of nothing, and Adrian bumbled the ball but saved his error by blocking Correa’s chop at the rebound.

Robertson was celebrating a would-be go-ahead goal off a Salah cross, but it hit the cross bar in the 67th minute. Oblak made another fine save before the rebound was blocked by a defender.

An 81st-minute corner routine set up Robertson for glory, but he blazed clear of the frame from 18 yards.

Wijnaldum couldn’t finish with a back post header off a James Milner cross, and Mane smashed an overhead kick over the bar.

Saul Niguez was offside when he headed a stoppage-time free kick home, and the match moved to extra time.

Oblak made another save to start stoppage time, his ninth of the match. Firmino then took his rebound off the post to make it 2-0.

But wait, Atleti had an answer when Adrian’s clearance went right to Joao Felix. A few touches later it was 2-1 through Llorente’s low drive, and he added another through a well-worked counterattack to stun the reigning champs.

Morata blazed past the Liverpool back line to seal the result deep in the second period of extra time.

Liverpool is lost without lynchpin Jordan Henderson

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Liverpool’s nearly historic run of Premier League performances is over. It has been for some time now.

Jordan Henderson is injured.

“Cum hoc ergo propter hoc.” Correlation does not imply causation. But in this case, could it be? Is a hamstring injury to Liverpool’s captain actually a major contributor to the Reds’ cavernous dip in form?

It is this particular author’s opinion that Jordan Henderson is the most underrated player in the Premier League at this current juncture. His distribution, calmness on the ball, and leadership quality is undervalued by nearly every fan on the planet – even Liverpool ones. At the start of the season, I wrote that Henderson was the second-best midfielder in the English top flight. Even now I can admit that may have been ambitious, but knowing what we know now, it wasn’t that far off the mark. Yet even Liverpool fans hammered me for my pick.

According to sofascore’s player aggregation, Jordan Henderson has scored as the 11th best player in the entire league this season, and it’s largely thanks to his versatility. There is only one midfielder in the entire league this season with at least 50 tackles, 25 key passes, an 80% pass completion rate, and beaten one-on-one fewer than 30 times: Jordan Henderson. Throw in nearly a 60% long-ball completion rate, 327 passes in the opposition final third (16th in the Premier League among midfielders), and eight big chances created (sixth among midfielders), Henderson can literally do it all, at least on paper.

Take a look at Jordan Henderson’s performance in his most recent full 90 minutes of Premier League play against Norwich City a few weeks ago. Then take a look at Fabinho, his replacement, from the two most recent performances – the near-miss against West Ham followed by the brutal loss to Watford. What do you notice, right off the bat?

(Here is the legend for StatsZone dashboards used in this article)

Even today against Bournemouth, which Liverpool again eeked out a narrow victory which saw them slightly lucky, Fabinho was toothless in midfield, and while Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain looked to provide some creativity moving forward, two players are attempting to do the work that one Jordan Henderson can accomplish.

These are small, single-match examples, but you can see that Henderson’s directional passing is far and away more progressive than Fabinho’s. The Brazilian struggled to move the ball forward, even in a game where the Reds scored three goals. With less volume, Henderson still managed to move the Reds into dangerous positions all while keeping safe possession. Fabinho was completely unable to unlock Watford – his passing map looks like it was up against a brick wall – while Henderson found joy against an equally-defensive Norwich City side.

And yet the most compelling argument may be this: Liverpool has, to put it simply, completely fell apart once its captain got injured. Since yanking his hamstring in the 80th minute of the Champions League loss to Atletico Madrid, the 29-year-old has missed four matches – three in the Premier League and one in FA Cup play. Liverpool has stunk in all four. The Reds needed a second-half comeback to beat West Ham (that quite frankly should have been a warning sign, in hindsight), they were absolutely battered by relegation-threatened Watford, they were soundly beaten by Chelsea in the Magical Cup, and then today’s lackluster performance against Bournemouth that managed to scrape out three points. How do you argue with results?

It may be that Henderson’s true influence goes far beyond his play on the field. NBC analysts Robbie Mustoe and Robbie Earle discussed this very thing on the most recent episode of their podcast The 2 Robbies, where they broke down what has gone wrong for Liverpool of late.

“The things that we take for granted from Liverpool were not there,” Robbie Earle said of Liverpool’s loss to Watford. “The things that make them different and special…there are things that are a given, and they weren’t there. It’s maybe a little reminder to this football club that despite great names and huge club and great history, every single week in the Premier League you have to earn it.”

He went deeper, acknowledging that Henderson may not be a brilliant footballer in terms of a flashy style, but his personality is critical to the squad.

“I get the sense that James Milner, Jordan Henderson…not on their watch,” Earle said. “Not if they’re in the team. In terms of Liverpool great footballers, they wouldn’t be at the top of the list, they might not even be in the top 10. But in terms of influence across this team, numbers one and two.”

“The one bit that’s been a constant, the one bit that’s been how they keep on this drive and determination was missing. There was a great shot of Milner and Henderson sitting in the stands [of the Watford loss], and in my mind I was just going ‘not on their watch.'”

While Henderson was still out injured against Bournemouth on Saturday, Milner returned and delivered one of his trademark work-rate moments with a game-saving goal-line clearance in the 61st minute.

Robbie Mustoe agreed, and praised Henderson’s ability to influence his teammates to work hard for 90 minutes, something that is clearly missing of late.

“Football is incredibly infectious,” Mustoe said to follow up Earle’s point. “If somebody is closing the ball down and working really really hard, you automatically do the same thing. If there’s a drop-off in somebody’s performance, they make a couple of sloppy passes and then somebody else does it, it becomes infectious as well. Once that starts, you’ve got to stop it, and Henderson will point his finger or get a hold of somebody and make sure that person doesn’t do it again and that it doesn’t become infectious within the team.”

They weren’t the only ones, either. England recognized Jordan Henderson with its Player of the Year award last calendar year, while Gary Lineker noted Henderson’s absence from the Liverpool side as well.

So, this one can admit that maybe ranking Jordan Henderson as the second-best midfielder was slightly overzealous. Yet, the argument could be there that maybe Jordan Henderson is indeed the most important midfielder in the entire English top flight, and that certainly counts for a lot, as Liverpool may be finding out the hard way.

Sloppy Liverpool edge past Bournemouth

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Liverpool beat Bournemouth 2-1 at Anfield on Saturday as Jurgen Klopp‘s men recovered from an early setback to secure another victory and bounce back from a tough week.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

After losing at Watford last weekend to see their hopes of an unbeaten season end, Klopp’s side were also dumped out of the FA Cup by Chelsea in midweek and they fell behind early on to Callum Wilson’s controversial goal. Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane both scored in quick succession in the first half to put Liverpool ahead and the rest of the game was a fairly tight encounter as Bournemouth kept battling and almost levelled late on.

Liverpool have now won 22-straight top-flight games at home, setting a new club and top-flight record, and they are 55 Premier League games unbeaten at home, stretching back to April 2017.

With the win they now need just three more victories from to secure their first-ever Premier League title and are 25 points clear atop the table. Bournemouth remain in the relegation zone on 27 points.


3 things we learned

1. VAR sets the precedent: There’s no doubt Callum Wilson pushed Joe Gomez in the build-up to Bournemouth’s early goal but the contact looked pretty natural and the referee waved play on. VAR intervened to check the call but didn’t think it was a clear and obvious error and that set the precedent for the rest of the game. Similar tussles were not called as fouls and whatever you think about Wilson not being penalized, there was consistency in the decisions. In the end it didn’t matter but Wilson’s goal was certainly controversial.

2. Ruthless Liverpool three wins away: It is fair to say Liverpool is limping over the line in their quest to win a first league title in 30 years. A lackluster display mimicked the atmosphere at Anfield as there as an air of expectancy now as everybody just wants to get the job done. Mane and Salah finished off their big chances and even though Liverpool were a little sloppy defensively, they ground out another one-goal win, their 14th of an amazing season.

3. Bournemouth cause their own problems: The Cherries did not play badly at all and had chances late on to grab a point at Anfield. It wouldn’t have been undeserved. Eddie Howe‘s side created their own problems on Saturday as Jack Simpson and Jefferson Lerma gave the ball away in the first half and they were punished. If Bournemouth keep playing like this they will drag themselves out of the relegation zone but the big problem is, they have a very tough schedule remaining.

Man of the Match: Mohamed Salah – A superb goal and wonderful trickery all game long, Salah stepped it up when Liverpool needed it. The Egyptian King has now scored 20 goals in all competitions in all three of his seasons as a Liverpool player. A special mention to Nathan Ake too, who was superb for Bournemouth.


Bournemouth got off to a perfect start as they stunned Anfield with an early goal. Wilson was involved in a tussle with Joe Gomez and play continued with Bournemouth attacking down the right and Jefferson Lerma crossed for Wilson to tap home.

VAR was used but it was deemed that Wilson’s push on Gomez wasn’t a clear and obvious error as Bournemouth were 1-0 up. Soon after they were almost 2-0 up as Nathan Ake towered above a crowd of players from a corner and his superb header was fortuitously pushed onto the bar by Adrian.

Liverpool’s first big chance of the game then arrived as Trent Alexander-Arnold played in Roberto Firmino and his powerful effort was well-saved by Aaron Ramsdale who stood tall. Soon after the game turned on its head.

Jack Simpson, who had come on to replace the injured Steve Cook moments earlier, was caught in possession and Salah kept his composure to equalize with a cheeky finish. Moments later Mane put Liverpool 2-1 up as Virgil Van Dijk found the Senegalese forward who finished calmly as Jurgen Klopp went wild on the sidelines.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights

Bournemouth hung in there in the second half and almost levelled things up as Ryan Fraser got in over the top and lobbed the ball over Adrian but James Milner appeared from nowhere to hook the ball off the line superbly.

Adrian continued to look uncertain in goal as Bournemouth pushed for an equalizer, while at the other end Virgil van Dijk’s header was saved well by Ramsdale.

Mane then curled an audacious effort off the crossbar late on as Liverpool aimed to see out the game in style, with Roberto Firmino also firing an effort over the bar. Ake almost scored a late winner but was flagged offside as Liverpool held on with minimum fuss, in the end.