Kieran Trippier

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La Liga preview: Three-peat for Barcelona?

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As we close out the decade, Barcelona has been far and away the best team in Spain, and possibly Europe, over the last ten years. This summer, they may have gotten even stronger.

The La Liga season kicks off on Friday, with Barcelona going for its third-straight league title and eighth in the last ten years. Barcelona won the 2019 title by 11 points over Atletico Madrid and a stunning 19 points over rivals Real Madrid. Now, as Barca gets set to face Athletic Bilbao in the season opener, it’s upgraded at key positions that could give Barcelona what it needs to win the league again, and even potentially the UEFA Champions League.

[ MORE: La Liga scores, schedule ]

Barcelona this summer signed France World Cup winner Antoine Griezmann, French defender Jean-Clair Todibo and Spanish defender Junior Firpo. But the crown jewel could be central midfielder Frenkie de Jong. The former Ajax star has trained in the Dutch possession model for the last two years, which Barcelona bears a strong resemblance to.

As such, de Jong has seamlessly transitioned to the Barcelona squad, and could make Barcelona the team to beat in Europe for many years to come. Imagine de Jong spraying passes to Lionel 2Messi, and Barcelona could start winning matches 4-1, 5-0, on a consistent basis.

Nipping on Barcelona’s heels this coming season will likely be Atletico Madrid. Diego Simeone, in his ninth season in charge, has probably had the best transfer window of any team in La Liga. Despite losing veterans like Griezmann, Diego Godin, Juanfran, Felipe Luis and young stars like Rodri (Man City) and Lucas Hernandez (Bayern Munich), Simeone and the Atletico board have brought in some of the brightest stars that can light up La Liga.

The star of the bunch is Joao Felix. The 19-year-old has started life incredibly with Atletico as he’s scored three goals and dished out four assists in preseason action. Atleti also added former Tottenham right back Kieran Trippier and brought untested but talented midfielder Marcos Llorente over from Real Madrid. The new improvements have helped make Atleti an even better attacking team. That may seem against Simeone’s principals, but perhaps with Diego Costa leading the line this season and Felix on the left, we could see an Atleti squad outscoring its opponents, rather than grinding out low-scoring games.

On the other side of Madrid is Real Madrid, and at the moment, it’s not looking good. Los Blancos had plenty of hope last spring, when Zinedine Zidane returned to take over as coach and Real fans hoped for a big change this summer.

Instead, it’s been just more of the same. Yes, Real Madrid has brought in Eden Hazard, Eder Militao and Luka Jovic among others. But according to reports, the one player Zidane wanted Real Madrid to sign the most was Paul Pogba. Unless something drastic changes at Old Trafford, that won’t happen.

Meanwhile, the backline has hardly changed. Marcelo, Sergio Ramos and Nacho are still around, and while Militao and Ferland Mendy bring some youth to the backline, it’s still not a world-class unit. Toni Kroos, Luka Modric and Casemiro struggled at times during the season, and while Vinicius Jr. is a talent, Hazard’s arrival means there’s less playing time for the Brazilian.

Plus, there’s the distraction of James Rodriguez and Gareth Bale still in the squad, plus Marco Asensio’s season-ending injury. It may be a somewhat tough year in the center of Madrid this year.

Report: Eriksen turns down another contract offer from Spurs

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According to a report by journalist Graeme Bailey, Tottenham has seen another contract offer rejected by attacker Christian Eriksen, and with the European transfer deadline approaching, they fear growing interest from abroad.

Bailey’s report states that Spurs’ offer has been in the works “for weeks” and that while Eriksen has turned it down, it remains on the table should he change his mind. The offer is reportedly enough to make Eriksen the highest paid player at the club, passing Harry Kane, but the club has yet been unable to extend him past the expiration of his current contract next summer.

The English window has passed, and the report states that Manchester United pressed for a move before the deadline but Eriksen wished to leave the Premier League.

Bailey states that La Liga clubs are the most interested, and while Real Madrid could look to Eriksen to counter Barcelona’s rumored approach for Neymar, Atletico Madrid has the biggest financial power following Antoine Griezmann’s big-money sale to Barca. Atleti’s attacking ranks are loaded, but Eriksen would give them even more firepower behind Diego Costa, Alvaro Morata, Joao Felix, Thomas Lemar, and the incoming Kieran Trippier down the flank.

While Eriksen could still stay should no offers come in, but it would seem the club may have no option but to sell.

Complete list of Premier League summer transfers

Photo by Stuart MacFarlane/Arsenal FC via Getty Images
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Here are all the names that have moved into, out of, and between the clubs of the Premier League this season.

[ MORE: PL transfer grades ]


Arsenal

In
Gabriel Martinelli (Ituano) Undisclosed
Dani Ceballos (Real Madrid) Loan
William Saliba (Saint-Etienne) Undisclosed
Nicolas Pepe (Lille) Undisclosed
Kieran Tierney (Celtic) Undisclosed
David Luiz (Chelsea) Undisclosed

Out
Aaron Ramsey (Juventus) Free
Petr Cech (Retired)
Danny Welbeck (Watford) Free
Cohen Bramall (Colchester) Free
Charlie Gilmour (Norwich) Free
Stephan Lichtsteiner (Released)
Julio Pleguezuelo (Released) 
Jordi Osei-Tutu (Bochum) Loan
Daniel Ballard (Swindon Town) Loan 
David Ospina (Napoli) Undisclosed 
Vontae Daley-Campbell (Leicester) Undisclosed 
Ben Sheaf (Doncaster Rovers) Loan
William Saliba (Saint-Etienne) Loan
Xavier Amaechi (Hamburg) Undisclosed
Krystian Bielik (Derby County) Undisclosed
Takuma Asano (Partizan Belgrade) 
Laurent Koscielny (Bordeaux)
Carl Jenkinson (Nottingham Forest) Undisclosed
Dominic Thompson (Brentford) Undisclosed
Eddie Nketiah (Leeds United) Loan
Alex Iwobi (Everton) Undisclosed

Aston Villa

In
Jota (Birmingham) Undisclosed
Anwar El Ghazi (Lille) Undisclosed
Wesley (Club Brugge) Undisclosed
Kortney Hause (Wolves) Undisclosed
Matt Targett (Southampton) Undisclosed
Tyrone Mings (AFC Bournemouth) Undisclosed 
Ezri Konsa (Brentford) Undisclosed
Bjorn Engels (Stade Reims) Undisclosed
Trezeguet (Kasimpasa) Undisclosed
Douglas Luiz (Man City) Undisclosed
Tom Heaton (Burnley) Undisclosed 
Marvelous Nakamba (Club Brugge) Undisclosed 

Out
Albert Adomah (Released)
Mark Bunn (Released)
Ritchie De Laet (Released)
Tommy Elphick (Huddersfield Town)
Alan Hutton (Released)
Mile Jedinak (Released)
Ross McCormack
Micah Richards (Released)
Glenn Whelan (Released)
Gary Gardner (Birmingham) Undisclosed 
Matija Sarkic (Livingston) Loan 
Jake Doyle-Hayes (Cheltenham Town) Loan 
Andre Green (Preston North End) Loan
Rushian Hepburn-Murphy (Tranmere Rovers) Loan
Scott Hogan (Stoke City) Loan
Birkir Bjarnason (Released)
James Bree (Luton Town) Loan

AFC Bournemouth

In
Lloyd Kelly (Bristol City)
Jack Stacey (Luton Town) Undisclosed
Philip Billing (Huddersfield Town) Undisclosed 
Arnaut Danjuma (Club Brugge) Undisclosed 
Harry Wilson (Liverpool) Loan

Out
Marc Pugh (Released)
Mikael Ndjoli (Gillingham) Loan
Emerson Hyndman (Atlanta United) Loan
Tyrone Mings (Aston Villa) Undisclosed
Connor Mahoney (Millwall) Undisclosed
Lys Mousset (Sheffield United) Undisclosed
Brad Smith (Seattle Sounders) Loan 
Sam Surridge (Swansea City) Loan 
Harry Arter (Fulham) Loan

Brighton & Hove Albion

In
Matt Clarke (Portsmouth) Undisclosed
Leandro Trossard (Genk) Undisclosed
Taylor Richards (Man City) Undisclosed
Lewis Freestone (Unattached) Free
Adam Webster (Bristol City) Undisclosed
Neal Maupay (Brentford) Undisclosed
Romaric Yapi (PSG) Undisclosed
Aaron Mooy (Huddersfield Town) Loan

Out
Bruno (Retired)
Will Collar (Hamilton Academical) Undisclosed
Alexis MacAllister (Boca Juniors) Loan
Ben White (Leeds United) Loan
Ales Mateju (Brescia Calcio) Undisclosed 
Leo Ostigard (FC St Pauli) Loan 
Anthony Knockaert (Fulham) Loan
Christian Walton (Blackburn) Loan
Jayson Molumby (Millwall) Loan
Robert Sanchez (Rochdale) Loan
Jan Mlakar (QPR) Loan
Viktor Gyokeres (St Pauli) Loan
Percy Tau (Club Brugge) Loan
Markus Suttner (Fortuna Dusseldorf) Undisclosed
Matt Clarke (Derby County) Loan

Burnley

In
Erik Pieters (Stoke City) Undisclosed
Joel Senior (Curzon Ashton) Undisclosed
Jay Rodriguez (West Bromwich Albion) Undisclosed 
Ryan Cooney (Bury) Undisclosed
Adan Phillips (Free)
Bailey Peacock-Farrell (Leeds United) Undisclosed
Danny Drinkwater (Chelsea) Loan

Out
Jon Walters (Retired)
Stephen Ward (Stoke) Free 
Anders Lindegaard (Released)
Peter Crouch (Released) Retired
Mark Howarth (Released)
Tom Heaton (Aston Villa) Undisclosed
Nahki Wells (QPR) Loan

Chelsea

In
Mateo Kovacic (Real Madrid) Undisclosed

Out
Gary Cahill (Crystal Palace) Free
Fankaty Dabo (Coventry City) Free
Rob Green (Retired)
Eden Hazard (Real Madrid) Undisclosed
Todd Kane (Released)
Ola Aina (Torino) Undisclosed
Nathan Baxter (Ross County) Loan
Richard Nartey (Burton Albion) Loan
Jay Dasilva (Bristol City) Undisclosed
Eduardo (Released)
Kyle Scott (Released)
Tomas Kalas (Bristol City) Undisclosed 
Mario Pasalic (Atalanta) Loan 
Charly Musonda (Vitesse Arnhem) Loan 
Alvaro Morata (Atletico Madrid) Undisclosed
Nathan (Atletico Mineiro) Loan 
Daishawn Redan (Hertha Berlin) Loan
Ethan Ampadu (RB Leipzig) Loan
Jake Clarke-Salter (Birmingham City) Loan
Matt Miazga (Reading) Loan
Lewis Baker (Fortuna Dusseldorf) Loan
Kasey Palmer (Bristol City) Undisclosed
Dujon Sterling (Wigan Athletic) Loan
Conor Gallagher (Charlton Athletic) Loan 
Jacob Maddox (Tranmere Rovers) Loan
Trevoh Chalobah (Huddersfield Town) Loan
Danny Drinkwater (Burnley) Loan
Josh Grant (Plymouth) Loan
Izzy Brown (Luton Town) Loan

Crystal Palace

In
Stephen Henderson (Free) 
Jordan Ayew (Swansea City) Undisclosed
Gary Cahill (Unattached) Free 
Victor Camarasa (Real Betis) Loan 
James McCarthy (Everton) Undisclosed

Out
Jason Puncheon (Released)
Julian Speroni (Released) 
Bakary Sako (Denizlispor) Free
Ollie O’Dwyer (Aldershot) Free
Joseph Hungbo (Released)
Tyler Brown (Released)
Levi Lumeka (Varzim) Undisclosed
Aaron Wan-Bissaka (Man Utd) Undisclosed
Alexander Sorloth (Trabzonspor) Loan 
Pape Souare (Troyes) Free

Everton

In 
Jonas Lossl (Huddersfield Town) Free
Andre Gomes (Barcelona) £22m 
Fabian Delph (Man City) Undisclosed
Jean-Philippe Gbamin (Mainz) Undisclosed 
Moise Kean (Juventus) Undisclosed
Djibril Sidibe (Monaco) Loan
Alex Iwobi (Arsenal) Undisclosed

Out
Phil Jagielka (Sheffield Utd) Free
Ashley Williams (Released)
Harry Charsley (Released)
Boris Mathis (Released)
Mateusz Hewelt (Released)
Shayne Lavery (Released)
Jack Kiersey (Released)
Danny Bramall (Released)
Joe Hilton (Released)
Chris Renshaw (Released)
Jonjoe Kenny (Schalke) Loan
Nikola Vlasic (CSKA Moscow) Undisclosed
Sandro Ramirez (Real Valladolid) Loan
Brendan Galloway (Luton Town) Free
Korede Adedoyin (Hamilton Academical) Loan
Kieran Dowell (Derby) Loan
Joao Virginia (Reading) Loan
Luke Garbutt (Ipswich) Loan 
Antonee Robinson (Wigan) Undisclosed 
Josh Bowler (Hull) Loan 
Ademola Lookman (RB Leipzig) Undisclosed 
Idrissa Gueye (Paris Saint-Germain) Undisclosed
Joe Williams (Wigan Athletic) Undisclosed
Nathan Broadhead (Burton Albion) Loan 
James McCarthy (Crystal Palace) Undisclosed
Matthew Pennington (Hull City) Loan

Leicester City

In 
James Justin (Luton Town) Undisclosed
Ayoze Perez (Newcastle United) Undisclosed 
Vontae Daley-Campbell (Arsenal) Undisclosed 
George Hirst (OH Leuvens) Undisclosed 
Ali Reghba (Bohemians) Undisclosed
Youri Tielemans (Monaco) Undisclosed
Mitchell Clark (Free)

Out
Shinji Okazaki (Malaga) Free
Danny Simpson (Released)
Daniel Iversen (Rotherham United) Loan
Elliot Moore (Oxford United) Undisclosed
Josh Knight (Peterborough United) Loan
Ryan Loft (Carlisle United) Loan
Harry Maguire (Man Utd) Undisclosed
Layton Ndukwu (Southend United) Loan
Callum Elder (Hull City) Undisclosed

Liverpool

In 
Sepp van den Berg (PEC Zwolle) Undisclosed
Harvey Elliott (Fulham) Undisclosed
Adrian (Unattached) Free

Out
Alberto Moreno (Villarreal) Free
Daniel Sturridge (Released)
Connor Randall (Released)
Adam Bogdan (Released)
Sheyi Ojo (Rangers) Loan
Rafael Camacho (Sporting)
Marko Grujic (Hertha BSC) Loan
Danny Ings (Southampton) Undisclosed
Allan Rodrigues de Souza (Fluminense) Loan 
Kamil Grabara (Huddersfield Town) Loan
Ben Woodburn (Oxford United) Loan
Rhys Williams (Kidderminster Harriers) Loan
Simon Mignolet (Club Brugge) Undisclosed 
Taiwo Awoniyi (Mainz) Loan
Liam Millar (Kilmarnock) Loan 
Harry Wilson (AFC Bournemouth) Loan
Nathaniel Phillips (Stuttgart) Loan 
George Johnston (Feyenoord) Undisclosed
Ovie Ejaria (Reading) Loan

Manchester City

In
Angelino (PSV Eindhoven) Undisclosed
Rodri (Atletico Madrid) Undisclosed 
Joao Cancelo (Juventus) Undisclosed 
Scott Carson (Derby County) Loan

Out
Vincent Kompany (Anderlecht) Free
Patrick Roberts (Norwich City) Loan
Tom Dele-Bashiru (Watford) Free
Aaron Nemane (Released)
Jack Harrison (Leeds United) Loan
Aro Muric (Nottingham Forest) Loan
Zack Steffen (Fortuna Dusseldorf) Loan 
Fabian Delph (Everton) Undisclosed 
Philippe Sandler (Anderlecht) Loan
Taylor Richards (Brighton) Undisclosed
Douglas Luiz (Aston Villa) Undisclosed
Yangel Herrera (Granada) Loan
Tosin Adarabioyo (Blackburn Rovers) Loan 
Danilo (Juventus) Undisclosed 

Manchester United

In
Daniel James (Swansea City) Undisclosed
Aaron Wan-Bissaka (Crystal Palace) Undisclosed
Harry Maguire (Leicester City) Undisclosed

Out
Ander Herrera (PSG) Free 
Antonio Valencia (Released)
Matthew Olosunde (Released)
James Wilson (Released)
Regan Poole (Released)
Kieran O'Hara (Burton Albion) Loan
Dean Henderson (Sheffield United) Loan
Romelu Lukaku (Inter Milan) Undisclosed 

Newcastle United

In
Joelinton (Hoffenheim) Undisclosed
Kyle Scott (Unattached) Free
Jake Turner (Bolton Wanderers) Undisclosed
Jetro Willems (Eintracht Frankfurt) Loan
Allan Saint-Maximin (Nice) Undisclosed
Emil Krafth (Amiens) Undisclosed
Andy Carroll (Free) 

Out
Mohamed Diame (Released) 
Cal Roberts (Released) 
Josef Yarney (Released)
Tyrique Bartlett (Released)
Dan Barlaser (Rotherham United) Loan
Ayoze Perez (Leicester City) Undisclosed
Joselu (Alaves) Undisclosed
Liam Gibson (Grimsby Town) Loan
Freddie Woodman (Swansea City) Loan
Nathan Harker (Blyth Spartans) Loan
Jacob Murphy (Sheffield Wednesday) Loan

Norwich City

In 
Patrick Roberts (Man City) Loan
Daniel Adshead (Rochdale) Undisclosed
Josip Drmic (Borussia Monchengladbach) Free 
Archie Mair (Aberdeen) Undisclosed
Rob Nizet (Anderlecht) Undisclosed
Rocky Bushiri (K.V. Oostende) Undisclosed 
Aidan Fitzpatrick (Partick Thistle) Undisclosed 
Ralf Fahrmann (Schalke) Undisclosed
Charlie Gilmour (Arsenal) Free
Sam Byram (West Ham) Undisclosed
Reece McAlear (Motherwell) Undisclosed
Ibrahim Amadou (Sevilla) Loan

Out 
Carlton Morris (Rotherham United) Loan
Mason Bloomfield (Crawley Town) Loan
Ciaren Jones (Eastbourne Borough) Loan
Josh Coley (Dunfermline Athletic) Loan
Marcel Franke (Hannover 96) Undisclosed
Sean Raggett (Portsmouth) Loan
Nelson Oliveira (AEK Athens)
Savvas Mourgos (Dordrecht) Loan
James Husband (Blackpool) Loan
Ben Marshall (Released) 
Rocky Bushiri (Blackpool) Loan
Diallang Jaiyesimi (Swindon Town) Loan
Aston Oxborough (Wealdstone) Loan

Sheffield United

In
Luke Freeman (QPR) Undisclosed
Phil Jagielka (Everton) Free
Callum Robinson (Preston) Undisclosed
Ravel Morrison Free
Lys Mousset (AFC Bournemouth) Undisclosed
Ben Osborn (Nottingham Forest) Undisclosed
Dean Henderson (Manchester United) Loan
Oli McBurnie (Swansea City) Undisclosed
Michael Verrips (Free)

Out 
Paul Coutts (Released)
Martin Cranie (Released)
Conor Washington (Released)
Daniel Lafferty (Released)
Caolan Lavery (Released)
Nathan Thomas (Gillingham) Loan
Rhys Norrington-Davies (Rochdale) Loan 
Jake Eastwood (Scunthorpe) Loan 
Oliver Greaves (Barrow AFC) Loan
Tyler Smith (Bristol Rovers) Loan
Nathan Thomas (Carlisle United) Loan
Regan Slater (Scunthorpe United) Loan
Ched Evans (Fleetwood Town) Undisclosed
Mark Duffy (Stoke City) Loan

Southampton

In
Moussa Djenepo (Standard Liege) Undisclosed
Che Adams (Birmingham City) Undisclosed
Danny Ings (Liverpool) Undisclosed
Tommy Scott (Yeovil Town) Undisclosed

Out
Steven Davis (Rangers) Free
Matt Targett (Aston Villa) Undisclosed
Alfie Jones (Gillingham) Loan
Jack Rose (Walsall) Loan
Kingsley Latham (Havant and Waterlooville) Loan
Alex Cull (Totton) Loan
Harry Hamblin (Bath City) Loan
Jordy Clasie (AZ Alkmaar) Undisclosed
Tyreke Johnson (Woking) Loan 
Josh Sims (New York Red Bulls) Loan 
Charlie Austin (West Brom) Undisclosed
Harrison Reed (Fulham) Loan

Tottenham Hotspur

In
Kion Etete (Notts County) Undisclosed
Jack Clarke (Leeds) Undisclosed
Tanguy Ndombele (Lyon) Undisclosed
Giovani Lo Celso (Real Betis) Loan 
Ryan Sessegnon (Fulham) Undisclosed 

Out 
Michel Vorm (Released)
Dylan Duncan (Released)
Charlie Freeman (Released)
Tom Glover (Released)
Connor Ogilvie (Released)
Jamie Reynolds (Released)
Luke Amos (QPR) Loan
Jack Clarke (Leeds) Loan 
Kieran Trippier (Atletico Madrid)
Vincent Janssen (Monterrey) Undisclosed 
Cameron Carter-Vickers (Stoke) Loan
Josh Onomah (Fulham) Undisclosed

Watford

In 
Bayli Spencer-Adams (Free)
Craig Dawson (West Brom) Undisclosed
Tom Dele-Bashiru (Free)
Mason Barrett (West Ham) Undisclosed
Callum Whelan (Free) 
Danny Welbeck (Free) 
Ismaila Sarr (Rennes) Undisclosed 

Out
Obbi Oulare (Standard Liege) Undisclosed
Miguel Britos (Released)
Tommie Hoban (Released)
Jerome Sinclair (Venlo) Loan 
Michael Folivi (AFC Wimbledon) Loan 
Marc Navarro (Leganes) Loan
Ben Wilmot (Swansea City) Loan
Alex Jakubiak (Gillingham) Loan
Dodi Lukebakio (Hertha BSC) Undisclosed

West Ham United

In
Roberto (Espanyol) Free
David Martin (Millwall) Free
Pablo Fornals (Villarreal) Undisclosed
Sebastien Haller (Eintracht Frankfurt) Undisclosed
Goncalo Cardoso (Boavista) Undisclosed 
Albian Ajeti (FC Basel) Undisclosed

Out 
Adrian (Liverpool) Free
Andy Carroll (Newcastle) Free
Samir Nasri (Released)
Toni Martinez (Released)
Moses Makasi (Released) 
Lucas Perez (Alaves) Undisclosed
Noha Sylvestre (Released)
Vashon Neufville (Released)
Josh Pask (Coventry City) Free
Edimilson Fernandes (Mainz) Undisclosed
Nathan Trott (AFC Wimbledon) Loan 
Martin Samuelsen (FK Haugesund) Loan
Marko Arnautovic (Shanghai SIPG) Undisclosed
Sam Byram (Norwich City) Undisclosed 
Pedro Obiang (Sassuolo) Undisclosed
Marcus Browne (Middlesbrough) Undisclosed
Jordan Hugill (QPR) Loan
Reece Oxford (Augsburg) Undisclosed
Mason Barrett (Watford) Undisclosed
Josh Cullen (Charlton Athletic) Loan
Grady Diangana (West Brom) Loan

Wolverhampton Wanderers

In
Raul Jimenez (Benfica) Undisclosed
Hong (Yeovil Town) Undisclosed
Raphael Nya (PSG) Undisclosed
Leander Dendoncker (Anderlecht) Undisclosed
Tsun Dai (Oxford United) Undisclosed
Jesus Vallejo (Real Madrid) Loan
Patrick Cutrone (AC Milan) Undisclosed
Flavio Cristovao Free
Pedro Neto (Braga) Undisclosed
Bruno Jordao (Braga) Undisclosed
Renat Dadashov (Estoril) Undisclosed

Out 
Ethan Ebanks-Landell (Shrewsbury Town) Undisclosed
Michal Zyro (Released)
Carlos Heredia (Released)
Ben Goodliffe (Released)
Aaron Hayden (Released)
Diego Lattie (Released)
Enzo Sauvage (Released)
Christian Herc (Viktoria Plzen) Loan
Kortney Hause (Aston Villa) Undisclosed
Ryan Giles (Shrewsbury Town) Loan
Pedro Goncalves (FC Famalicao) Undisclosed
Joao Dias (FC Famalicao) Undisclosed
Helder Costa (Leeds) Loan
Ryan Leak (Burgos) Undisclosed
Ivan Cavaleiro (Fulham) Loan
Rafa Mir (Nottingham Forest) Loan
Will Norris (Ipswich Town) Loan
Niall Ennis (Doncaster Rovers) Loan
Cameron John (Doncaster Rovers) Loan
Renat Dadashov (Pacos de Ferreira) Loan
Bright Enobakhare (Wigan) Loan

Will big-spending Spurs be Premier League title contenders?

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Tottenham Hotspur’s 2018-19 season was quite the “glass half-full” occasion.

Spurs won 23 matches, only Liverpool and Man City claiming three points on more occasions. The North London outfit also lost 13, the biggest number in the Top Six and the same as Wolves.

[ MORE: Spurs agree Dybala fee ]

With a plus-28 goal differential, also third-best in the PL, Spurs finished 15 points back of second and 16 behind victorious Man City. That felt okay because Mauricio Pochettino‘s men, of course, also made it to the UEFA Champions League Final, losing to Liverpool on a questionable handball call.

Now two seasons removed from a second-place finish in the league, Spurs have broken their transfer record to bring in Tanguy Ndombele and may be spending bigger, linked Tuesday with both Paulo Dybala and Philippe Coutinho. Playmaker Giovani Los Celso has been in their orbit, too, all summer.

Perhaps no team has more questions in the air over the final 48 hours of the transfer window than Spurs, with Christian Eriksen still whispered as a possible departure, to boot.

Only Manchester United suffered more injuries than Spurs last season, with Harry Kane, Dele Alli, Moussa Sissoko, and Hugo Lloris missing time (Spurs went 2W-3L in league play without the latter). And Heung-Min Son was gone through national team duty, too.

This is a club who stopped Man City from its most-sought jewel, the Champions League, and it’s no coincidence that Spurs’ Premier League freefall came once the group stage arrived at Wembley in mid-February.

Spurs were five points back of the first and second at that point, with a match-in-hand on leaders City but not Liverpool. The chasers — Arsenal, Manchester United, and Chelsea — were between 9-10 points back of Spurs.

They had won all but six of their matches at that point, falling to Watford, Liverpool, Man City, Arsenal, Wolves, and Manchester United. The losses to the leaders were both at home and by a single goal (as they would be later in the season, away from London).

They have a lot going for themselves, even a bit of momentum from the Audi Cup. Their festive season slate is very forgiving, as is their season run-in.

Spurs’ three toughest fixtures of the opening 10 come away to Man City, Arsenal, and Liverpool. Draws can, of course, do the trick there as Pochettino’s men look to build a path to the top (Liverpool’s start is more difficult, while Man City’s early visit from Spurs is its only top challenge of the first two months, all respect due to Wolves).

The biggest argument against Tottenham comes at right back, where Kieran Trippier has left, Juan Foyth is injured, and Serge Aurier is still returning to fitness. The easy option is for Pochettino to find an answer in the next 48 hours, but the little things matter when you’re talking about a title; Spurs may have to face down City in Week 2 with either a brand new piece or a revived Aurier.

That’s digging a bit too far into the weeds, though; When assessing whether Spurs can make up distance to Liverpool and Man City, it’s not really about the big gap at the end of last season. Look at where Spurs were before the Champions League knockout round stage. Ask yourselves whether you see them shallow enough to finish 3W-2D-7L regardless of UCL status.

We’d argue the opposite. With Dybala or Coutinho, this team can make it a bonafide three-team race almost regardless of what Chelsea, Arsenal, and Manchester United manage by Thursday evening.

4 days to go until new PL season: Predicting this year’s Top 4?

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Perhaps the most coveted spots in all of English soccer, a top four finish in the Premier League ensures a berth into the richest club competition in Europe: the UEFA Champions League.

Each year, teams spend millions in the hopes of keeping a place in the top four, or breaking into the fraternity at the top of the Premier League, in order to see some of the revenues that come with playing on those mid-week European nights.

[ STREAM: Every PL match live ]

With four days to go before the start of the Premier League season, we thought we’d take a chance to predict how the top four might look come mid-May, 2020.


Manchester City

The Back-to-Back Premier League champions are in pole position to win the league once more, with a battle-tested strong squad that’s been reinforced in a couple of key areas.

As Fernandinho gets older, Man City has brought in his successor in Rodri, which will allow the Brazilian to either play fewer matches or get to deputize as a centerback, where he’ll do a bit less running. The impending arrival of Joao Cancelo and the return of Angelino also helps out on the flanks for Man City as defensive options, while the team is still as strong as ever in the attack. Sergio Aguero is back for a ninth season in the Sky Blue uniforms and Raheem Sterling looks as dazzling as ever.

Man City may even get to see the best of Kevin De Bruyne once again, who admitted he needed a summer break after going almost non-stop between the start of the 2017 season and this summer, thanks to the 2018 World Cup. All in all, Man City is a team primed for success, and they’re the team to beat in both the Premier League and Champions League.

Liverpool

Jurgen Klopp‘s side hasn’t made any major signings this summer, but like Tottenham last year, it may turn out that Liverpool didn’t need any new players.

Mo Salah, Roberto Firmino, and Sadio Mane are as fearsome a front-three as their is in Europe, and this team took Man City to the brink in the Premier League as well as lifted the Champions League title. With everybody back, as well as some youth and young signings, there’s no doubt Liverpool can challenge again not only for the top four and Premier League, but the Champions League too.

Plus, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is back from a torn ACL that cut out most of his 2018-2019 season, which adds another diverse player to Klopp’s deck of cards to choose from.

Tottenham

After going an entire calendar year without making any signings, Tottenham has finally made a signing, breaking the club’s transfer record in the process.

Manager Mauricio Pochettino has finally received some reinforcements after an incredibly run last season, taking Spurs all the way to the Champions League final. In comes central midfielder Tanguy Ndombele from Lyon, who is expected to step right into a starting role for Spurs as it looks to remain in the top four hunt.

Things will still be tough for Pochettino and Spurs though, especially if there is an injury crisis. With the departure of Fernando Llorente, there’s only Harry Kane and Heung-Min Son as forward options, while Christian Eriksen and Danny Rose could still leave this summer. Kieran Trippier was allowed to leave earlier along with Vincent Janssen, and neither player has been replaced yet. Could Pochettino have a late signing or two up his sleeve?

It will be a tough road, but we’ve seen Pochettino overcome the odds before.

Arsenal

If Liverpool’s 2017-2018 Premier League showed us anything, it’s that a team with talented attackers can make some serious noise and rise up the Premier League table.

That’s exactly what Arsenal is hoping for this coming season. After smashing the club’s transfer record to sign Nicolas Pepe for almost $90 million, manager Unai Emery will have Alexandre Lacazette, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Pepe together in the attack, giving Arsenal some incredible options up front. All three were raised in France and have pace to burn in the counter-attack, something Emery will certainly look to use against other Big Six opponents.

Of course, Arsenal hasn’t done much to improve it’s already shaky defense, so it will likely be a roller coaster season of emotions, with Arsenal winning games with scorelines of 3-2 or 4-3. But if Liverpool showed us anything, it’s that an amazing attack can be just enough. Liverpool finished fourth that season, though it took the signing of Virgil Van Dijk and Alisson Becker to fortify the defense that took Man City to the last day for the Premier League title.

Other Contenders

Chelsea

Frank Lampard has arrived with much fanfare, but not a ton of pressure as Chelsea appears set to sit out this transfer window without any “new” signings – since both Christian Pulisic and Mateo Kovacic were already on the books before the summer.

The Blues won the Europa League title and can certainly grow from that experience, but it’s a big blow to lose a star in Eden Hazard, and Pulisic, among others, will have to find ways to pick up the slack. That, and long-term injuries to Callum Hudson-Odoi and Ruben Loftus-Cheek hit Chelsea as well.

But that being said, Chelsea could surprise a few teams this season, and if Pulisic excels in the Premier League and Giroud gets some good service into the box, there’s a decent chance the Blues can grab a top-four spot.

Manchester United

Man United feels like it can end up on two ends of the spectrum this season.

Best case: With a full preseason under his belt, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer shows he is a quality manager after all, and can both tactically set up his team to succeed and motivate them to play for one another, bringing Man United back into the Champions League. Paul Pogba stays in Manchester and becomes the midfield leader the team has been missing for years, while Marcus Rashford scores 20 goals.

Worst case: Even with the signings of Harry Maguire and Aaron Wan Bissaka, Man United continues to ship goals and move down the table. Rashford struggles against double and triple-teams in the middle of the field and Pogba nor Alexis Sanchez can take the step up necessary. Man United finishes out of the top six.

It just feels like this season can go in so many directions. Let’s see where it ends up!