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How will Chelsea line up under Maurizio Sarri?

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For the 11th time in as many years, Chelsea has a new manager.

It seems like a large number for a club that has had as much success as it has; because it is.

[ MORE: Hazard hints at Chelsea exit, has “preferred destination” in mind ]

Maurizio Sarri has officially taken over with the Blues following Antonio Conte‘s sacking, and the new Italian manager has already helped the club ensure it will have one of the best (if not the best) midfields in the Premier League thanks to his first signing.

Former Napoli central midfielder Jorginho has joined the Stamford Bridge side to form a formidable partnership in the middle of the park alongside French superstar N'Golo Kante.

It’s that relationship amongst the two ball winners that could really propel the Blues into another gear, after the club had its moments of struggle last season after Nemanja Matic‘s departure for Manchester United.

[ MORE: Belgium tops England for best finish in team’s WC history ]

Now, several names in the attack have been rumored to be nearing moves away from Chelsea, including Eden Hazard and Willian, which would clearly be a devastating blow to Sarri’s plans in his first season in charge.

Both Hazard and Willian are sure-fire starters under any manager, but that is of course assuming that they remain with the club ahead of next month.

As the squad is currently constructed, the Blues are missing a traditional number 10 attacker that sits behind the striker, although Hazard has the freedom to roam throughout the pitch as necessary.

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That will likely leave a third slot open in the midfield if Sarri aims to use a traditional 4-3-3, and it could very well go to Ruben Loftus-Cheek, who comes back from a loan spell at Crystal Palace last season.

Loftus-Cheek is a bit more of a creative player than a Kante or Jorginho, however, he possesses the size and physicality necessary to track back defensively when needed, which gives Sarri flexibility in his tactical makeup.

Meanwhile, striker Alvaro Morata’s future with the club remains unknown as well, with recent reports suggesting that Sarri could aim to bring in Argentina international Gonzalo Higuain in a straight swap of players.

Behind Morata sits Olivier Giroud, who struggled in much of his time with the Blues over the latter half of the 2017/18 campaign, while Tammy Abraham has become an intriguing prospect for the Blues as well.

It remains to be seen, though, if Abraham will get a crack with the first team this season or be sent out on loan once again.

With less than a month until the start of the PL season, Sarri has his work cut out for himself, after bringing in a positive player to bolster the club’s midfield with Jorginho.

Defensively, there are still some questions, particularly in regards to how the back line will align itself.

Conte’s three-back system will likely dissolve following his exit, as Sarri employs a traditional four-back setup similar to what he used in Serie A.

Cezar Azpilicueta and Marcos Alonso are almost certainties at the two outside back positions, while centrally the club boasts a solid amount of depth.

Gary Cahill remains in the fold, along with David Luiz, however, the Brazilian will likely have to battle with Andreas Christensen and Antonio Rudiger for a starting role.

Christensen was sturdy for the majority of 2017/18, and given his budding stardom, it’s likely that Sarri will put his confidence in the young defender early on.

Below, Pro Soccer Talk takes a look at who will likely start for Chelsea under Sarri’s new regime.


Which Premier League players will be at World Cup?

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There are 107 players from the Premier League who are going to the 2018 World Cup.

[ MORE: Latest 2018 World Cup news

Manchester City have more players going to the tournament (16) than any other club in the world, while the English national team are the only country in the entire competition to have 100 percent of their players from their domestic league.

Belgium have an incredible 11 of their 23-man squad who play in the Premier League, while Senegal and Brazil have six players each from the PL and Argentina, Denmark and France boast five players each in their final rosters.

Below is a breakdown of the PL players heading to Russia this summer, with players from recently relegated teams in 2017/18 and teams coming up to the PL in 2018/19 included.

Here’s a country-by-country breakdown.


Argentina
Manuel Lanzini (West Ham United)
Marcos Rojo (Manchester United)
Nicolas Otamendi (Manchester City)
Sergio Aguero (Manchester City)
Willy Caballero (Chelsea)


Australia
Mat Ryan (Brighton & Hove Albion)
Aaron Mooy (Huddersfield Town)


Belgium
Thibaut Courtois (Chelsea)
Simon Mignolet (Liverpool)
Vincent Kompany (Manchester City)
Jan Vertonghen (Tottenham Hotspur)
Toby Alderweireld (Tottenham Hotspur)
Mousa Dembele (Tottenham Hotspur)
Eden Hazard (Chelsea)
Marouane Fellaini (Manchester United)
Kevin De Bruyne (Manchester City)
Romelu Lukaku (Manchester United)
Nacer Chadli (West Bromwich Albion)


Brazil
Gabriel Jesus (Manchester City)
Danilo (Manchester City)
Fernandinho (Manchester City)
Willian (Chelsea)
Roberto Firmino (Liverpool)
Ederson (Manchester City)


Colombia
David Opsina (Arsenal)
Jose Izquierdo (Brighton & Hove Albion)
Davinson Sanchez (Tottenham Hotspur)


Croatia
Dejan Lovren (Liverpool)


Denmark
Kasper Schmeichel (Leicester City)
Andreas Christensen (Chelsea)
Christian Eriksen (Tottenham Hotspur)
Mathias Jorgensen (Huddersfield Town)
Jonas Lossl (Huddersfield Town)


England
Jack Butland (Stoke City)
Jordan Pickford (Everton)
Nick Pope (Burnley)
Trent Alexander-Arnold (Liverpool)
Kieran Trippier (Tottenham Hotspur)
Kyle Walker (Manchester City)
Gary Cahill (Chelsea)
Phil Jones (Manchester United)
John Stones (Manchester City)
Harry Maguire (Leicester City)
Danny Rose (Tottenham Hotspur)
Ashley Young (Manchester United)
Eric Dier (Tottenham Hotspur)
Fabian Delph (Manchester City)
Ruben Loftus-Cheek (Chelsea, on loan at Crystal Palace)
Jordan Henderson (Liverpool)
Jesse Lingard (Manchester United)
Dele Alli (Tottenham Hotspur)
Raheem Sterling (Manchester City)
Harry Kane (Tottenham Hotspur)
Marcus Rashford (Manchester United)
Danny Welbeck (Arsenal)
Jamie Vardy (Leicester City)


Egypt
Mohamed Salah (Liverpool)
Mohamed Elneny (Arsenal)


France
Hugo Lloris (Tottenham Hotspur)
Paul Pogba (Manchester United)
Olivier Giroud (Chelsea)
N'Golo Kante (Chelsea)
Benjamin Mendy (Manchester City)


Germany
Mesut Ozil (Arsenal)
Antonio Rudiger (Chelsea)
Ilkay Gundogan (Manchester City)


Iceland
Gylfi Sigurdsson (Everton)
Johann Berg Gudmundsson (Burnley)


Japan
Maya Yoshida (Southampton)
Shinji Kagawa (Leicester City)


Korea Republic
Son Heung-min (Tottenham Hotspur)
Ki Sung-Yueng (Swansea City)


Mexico
Javier Hernandez (Mexico)


Morocco
Roman Saiss (Wolverhampton Wanderers)


Nigeria
Wifried Ndidi (Leicester City)
Kelechi Iheanacho (Leicester City)
Victor Moses (Chelsea)
Alex Iwobi (Arsenal)


Peru
Andre Carrillo (Watford)


Poland
Jan Bednarek (Southampton)
Grzegorz Krychowiak (West Brom, on loan from PSG)
Lukasz Fabianski (Swansea City)


Portugal
Bernardo Silva (Manchester City)
Joao Mario (West Ham United, on loan from Inter Milan)
Cedric Soares (Southampton)
Adrien Silva (Leicester City)


Serbia
Luka Milivojevic (Crystal Palace)
Nemanja Matic (Manchester United)
Dusan Tadic (Southampton)
Aleksandar Mitrovic (Newcastle United, on loan at Fulham)


Senegal
Sadio Mane (Liverpool)
Idrissa Gueye (Everton)
Cheikhou Kouyate (West Ham United)
Mame Biram Diouf (Stoke City)
Alfred N'Diaye (Wolverhampton Wanderers)
Badou Ndiaye (Stoke City)


Spain
David De Gea (Manchester United)
Cesar Azpilicueta (Chelsea)
Nacho Monreal (Arsenal)
David Silva (Manchester City)


Sweden
Victor Lindelof (Manchester United)
Martin Olsson (Swansea City)
Kristoffer Nordfeldt (Swansea City)


Switzerland
Granit Xhaka (Arsenal)
Xherdan Shaqiri (Stoke City)


Tunisia
Yohan Benalouane (Leicester City)


Man United agrees to deal for Fred

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Manchester United have swooped to make their first signing of the summer as the Red Devils have agreed a fee with Shakhtar Donetsk for Brazilian midfielder Fred.

[ MORE: Latest transfer news ] 

The 25-year-old is said to have had a medical at United’s Carrington training HQ over the past few days and he is expected to cost $69.3 million from the Ukrainian giants.

United released the following statement on agreeing a deal for Fred.

“Manchester United is delighted to announce it has reached agreement with Shakhtar Donetsk for the transfer of Frederico Rodrigues de Paula Santos. A further announcement will be made in due course.”

It appears Jose Mourinho has got his man and Fred will be a perfect player alongside Nemanja Matic in the heart of United’s midfield but where this leaves the likes of Paul Pogba, Ander Herrera and others remains to be seen.

Fred has played 156 times for Shakhtar since joining them from Brazilian side Internacional in 2013, and has appeared in the UEFA Champions League regularly.

He was previously linked with a move to Man City but Pep Guardiola cooled his interested in the man who has eight caps for Brazil and is heading to the 2018 World Cup this summer.

Mourinho loves a midfield terrier and Fred is about to be a red…

Transfer rumor roundup: Shaqiri wanted; Fred finalizing

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Xherdan Shaqiri has confirmed he will not be at Stoke City next season following their relegation from the Premier League.

[ MORE: Latest transfer news

Shaqiri, 26, was Stoke’s top goalscorer last season as they were relegated from the top-flight following a 10-year stay. It is believed he is available for $17.9 million due to a release clause in his contract.

The Swiss international is focused on a big World Cup for his country this month, but speaking to Swiss outlet Aargauer Zeitung he confirmed he will not be playing in England’s second-tier next season.

“Yes, of course. It is no secret that I will leave the club. I would love to stay in England, I think the league is perfect for me,” Shaqiri said. “It’s the best league with the best players, but I do not want to exclude anything. Everyone wants to compete with the best, that was one reason why I chose the Premier League. And that’s why I want to take the next step now.”

Where next for Shaqiri? He has been linked with a move to either West Ham or Everton, which would be a good fit for the diminutive winger who operated in a more central role for the Potters last season.

Shaqiri’s ability is clear for all to see but a combination of him flashing in and out of games and Stoke not getting him the ball enough has seen him have an up and down time of things in the Premier League.

Surely he will flourish in a team willing to give him the ball and with other attackers around him who he can bounce off.


Brazilian midfielder Fred is closing in a move to Manchester United from Shakhtar Donetsk.

Fred, 25, was reportedly at United’s training ground on Monday for a medical after playing for Brazil in their 2-0 friendly win against Croatia at Anfield on Sunday.

After that game he spoke to the media and confirmed that a move to United was in the works but he that he was focused on heading to the 2018 World Cup with the Selecao.

The central midfielder will reportedly cost $69 million and Jose Mourinho sees him as a perfect foil to Nemanja Matic in the heart of United’s team. Fred can make surging runs from deep positions but is also able to lock down midfield and doesn’t shirk from his defensive responsibilities.

Fred has played 156 times for Shakhtar since joining them from Brazilian side Internacional in 2013, and has appeared in the UEFA Champions League regularly. He was previously linked with a move to Man City but Pep Guardiola cooled his interested in the man who has eight caps for Brazil.

Mourinho loves a midfield terrier and it appears likely that Fred is about to be a red…

Transfer rumor roundup: City still wants Mahrez, Verratti to United?

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Pro Soccer Talk examines the day’s biggest transfer stories, including Pep Guardiola‘s renewed interest in a Leicester City star.


Manchester City nearly captured the signature of Riyad Mahrez back in January, and it appears that the Premier League champions haven’t given up hope of bringing in the Algeria international.

Mahrez has spent five seasons with Leicester, including the club’s 2015/16 PL title-winning campaign.


Meanwhile, Manchester United has its sights set on a talented midfielder in the form of Paris Saint-Germain’s Marco Verratti.

The Red Devils are seeking another ball-winner in the center of the park to work with Nemanja Matic, and could be in for the Italian, as well as Shakhtar Donetsk’s Fred.


Bayern Munich could turn to an England international at goalkeeper in the future, as a potential replacement to Manuel Neuer in the long-term.

The Bundesliga champions will reportedly send scouts to the World Cup in Russia to get a closer look at Jordan Pickford, who currently plays for Everton.

The 24-year-old is likely to start in net for the Three Lions this summer, as England prepares for a difficult group stage that features Belgium, Tunisia and Panama.


Finally, Inter Milan could take Daley Blind off of Manchester United’s hands after the defender struggled to find playing time in 2017/18.

Blind made just seven PL appearances this past season at Old Trafford, and could be seeking a change of scenery in an effort to gain more playing time.