Rhian Brewster

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Report: Liverpool favorites to sign Jadon Sancho

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Jadon Sancho could be on the move sooner than we think.

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A report from Norwegian journalist, and former Premier League striker, Jan Aage Fjortoft  from Viasat claims that Sancho wants to leave Borussia Dortmund in January and he says that current Premier League leaders and European champions Liverpool are favorites to sign him.

That has led to #Sancho2020 trending on Twitter as Liverpool fans are having a moment, just as they did when reports a few months ago linked Kylian Mbappe with a move to Anfield.

As for Sancho, the England international, 19, has excelled at Borussia Dortmund over the last 18 months but after he was hauled off by BVB coach Lucien Favre in the first half of a humbling defeat at Bayern Munich last month, then criticized by his coach, Sancho’s future has come into discussion once again after previous fallings out with the hierarchy at Dortmund.

On the pitch he continues to deliver as he scored in Dortmund’s win at Hertha Berlin on Saturday, in their UEFA Champions League defeat a Barcelona last week and against Paderborn before that, as those goals added to two assists in his last five games for the German giants.

Sancho has a host of Europe’s top clubs forming a not so orderly queue to sign him, with Man United, Barcelona, Chelsea and PSG all heavily linked with a move for the teenage sensation.

It is expected that Sancho would cost over $130 million, and Dortmund have previously admitted he won’t be with them for much longer, but do Liverpool need to strengthen in the attacking midfield/wing areas?

Nope. But what was it Sir Alex Ferguson always said about adding new players when you’re in a position of strength…

Sancho would no doubt provide serious competition to Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino for a starting spot right away, but if you look at Klopp’s options after those three, things start to get pretty thin.

Divock Origi is the next man up and aside from his legendary status among Liverpool fans, will he strike fear into the hearts of opponents if he replace one of the aforementioned trio? Probably not. After Origi there is Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain who can play in a wide role, then teenagers Rhian Brewster and Curtis Jones are up and Xherdan Shaqiri is around but often an injury doubt.

Liverpool are stacked in the defense and midfield but the front three have been so good and have largely remained injury free that they haven’t had to worry about their attack.

Sancho’s arrival could also suggest that one of Mane or Salah may move on in 2020 as both have been linked with moves to Real Madrid in the past. Having Sancho come in to replace them would be ideal, but a move in January seems unlikely.

But maybe Liverpool will want to get in ahead of the competition in January to sign the former Watford and Man City product before he excels at EURO 2020 for England and his transfer value skyrockets. Right now Raheem Sterling and Marcus Rashford are ahead of Sancho in the England pecking order but the Dortmund winger is pushing them all the way and seems to be a perfect fit for the way Liverpool play. His pace and trickery is a combination of Salah and Mane and at such a young age he has delivered at Dortmund and is starting to for England.

For Liverpool to stay on top, they need to be ruthless and strengthen their squad even when it looks like they don’t need to. Moves like this are when a great team starts to feel like a dynasty is on the way.

Liverpool wins 10-goal League Cup instant classic v. Arsenal

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Two second-choice sides provided first-choice thrills as Arsenal and Liverpool accounted for 10 goals on Wednesday at Anfield before penalties helped the Reds advance to the quarterfinal draw.

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Caoimhín Kelleher stopped Dani Ceballos after both sides made their first three shootout attempts.

Gabriel Martinelli scored twice and Mesut Ozil also starred for the Gunners, as Ainsley Maitland-Niles, Lucas Torreira, and Joe Willock also scored to seal a place in the quarterfinals.

Divock Origi scored twice, while Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and James Milner joined an Arsenal own goal on the board for the hosts.


Three things we learned

1. Klopp, Emery not bothered with the League Cup: Whichever manager lost this match was going to have to answer questions after playing extremely weakened sides for a quarterfinal against a Top Four rival. With all due respect to an insanely entertaining match and all the kids who got a chance to wear the Liverpool and Arsenal shirts at Anfield, Jurgen Klopp wasn’t bothered to give his team a fighting shot and Unai Emery cared just a little bit more. Both managers are right to make that call and hope their depth comes through, of course, but it seems like this was the round to start thinking about hardware: three wins from a final and 90 minutes from a draw that will include a third-tier and a fourth-tier side.

2. But the thrills! The old cliche is that high-scoring games make everyone happy but the coaches, and we’ll certainly be including the goalkeepers in this, too. Caoimhín Kelleher and Emiliano Martinez were hung out to dry on several occasions, including a rare mistake from James Milner that allowed Ainsley Maitland-Niles to make it 4-2. Oxlade-Chamberlain’s feats of strength from distance continued with Liverpool’s third, which gave us seven combined goals with a half-hour remaining on the clock. Origi’s equalizer came moments later and was gorgeous, only to be topped by Willock’s wonderful moment.

3. Martinelli keeps making his case: Kids hungry for a chance to shine led to risky challenges and some pretty nice feats, and 18-year-old Arsenal striker Gabriel Martinelli falls in the latter category. Having now scored seven times in seven senior matches including two braces in this competition, Martinelli is ready to contribute now despite being stuck behind Bukayo Saka, Alexandre Lacazette, Nicolas Pepe, and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. Quite a good problem for Arsenal as it navigates several different competitions.

 

Man of the Match: Origi — The man just keeps showing up at big moments in big games, whether in the right spot for Jordan Pickford‘s Merseyside Derby error, the UCL Final, or with two big goals late in this one. Monster day.


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Where to start? Maybe we just give the quickest of explanations for the goals.

6th minute: Arsenal’s Shkrodan Mustafi stabs at a cross with one leg, sees his other leg score an own goal.

19th minute: Lucas Torreira deposits a rebound to tie the match after Mesut Ozil sets up Bukayo Saka for a fine shot.

26th minute: Martinelli gets his first by roofing a shot from extremely close range to give Arsenal its first lead.

36th minute: Saka causes a turnover and gets it to Ozil again, who sets up Martinelli for his second.

43rd minute: Having made the giveaway on Martinelli’s second, Harvey Elliott hits the deck after a challenge from Martinelli and James Milner scored from the spot.

54th minute: An uncharacteristic bad pass from Milner puts Kelleher in no man’s land and Maitland-Niles makes it work for a 4-2 lead.

58th minute: “The Ox” has been money from distance, and strokes home for 4-3.

62nd minute: Origi’s goal could’ve easily been the goal of the night (see below), a tidy turn and finish from the top of the box, but…

70th minute: Joe Willock, take a bow.

90’+4: Youngsters Rhian Brewster and Neco Williams do plenty of work to set up Origi, who has more to do when he blasts home to force penalties.

Liverpool’s Klopp thrilled with ‘on fire’ Milner, ‘brilliant boy’ Elliott

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Like most of his Top Four peers, Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp gave his youngsters the stage on Wednesday in the League Cup.

The kids seized the chance, but it was veteran James Milner who had a goal and an assist in the 2-0 defeat of MK Dons at the Stadium MK.

[ MORE: League Cup full of Wednesday ‘cupsets’ ]

Milner assisted youngster Ki-Jana Hoever‘s 69th minute goal that insured the result, making his 185th appearance for Liverpool a fine one.

Klopp had high praise for his veteran, who is 18 appearances away from matching the number he made for Man City.

The Starting XI included Hoever, Rhian Brewster, Curtis Jones, Caoimhin Kelleher and Harvey Elliott, the latter who holds status as the youngest player to make a Premier League appearance from his 2018/19 season at Fulham.

Klopp used his subs on youngsters Sepp van de Berg (17) and Herbie Kane (20) — we swear that’s his name — and little used Pedro Chirivella. And four other youngsters were unused subs.

Many online joked that Klopp would’ve been happy to lose the match and bow out of the competition. The manager is pretty pleased with the improvement, and hinted that his lineup would look similar in the next round versus Arsenal. From The Liverpool Echo:

“At 16 years old still and he is this kind of footballer. That is really good for us. He is a brilliant boy, he takes the situation really well and wants to learn. He will always be a special player for moments, but you see overall with his defending and movements, it is not easy so that is really good. …  He was a bit unlucky otherwise he would have scored. They are all good, they are all really skilled but that’s why it is important to give them games like this. We will try to continue like this, so we will see.”

Premier League transfer grades

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The summer transfer window is over. All of the deals are done. Premier League squads are now set until January.

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Wow. That was fun. Given all of the records broken, all of the big names arriving, leaving or staying in the Premier League, which club did the best business this summer?

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Below we dish out grades to all 20 Premier League teams based on their ins and outs.


Arsenal: B+

A very decent window for the Gunners, who added two key defenders in the final hour. Kieran Tierney David Luiz arrived and all of a sudden this looks like a more balanced squad. Nicolas Pepe arrived in a club record-deal to spice up their attack, plus Dani Ceballos oozes quality in midfield. Losing Laurent Koscielny was a blow, but Luiz is better than their current central defenders even if he takes a few risks on the ball. Overall, Unai Emery‘s squad is stronger than they were 12 months ago.


Aston Villa: B+
Where do we start with Villa!? 12 new signings this summer from the newly-promoted team, who are one of the big spenders with over $180 million spent on transfer fees alone. Tom Heaton, Wesley, Trezeguet, Jota and Tyrone Mings all look like being very important signings, and Villa have a very strong squad. Will it be enough to keep them up? We are about to find out. Villa get an A for ambition, but a B+ right now because it is so tough to predict how bringing in so many players at the same time will work out. Ahem, Fulham…


Bournemouth: C
The Cherries did a few pieces of decent business with Harry Wilson arriving on loan, plus Jack Stacey, Lloyd Kelly and Arnaut Danjuma all coming in to strengthen their squad. Bournemouth kept hold of Nathan Ake, Ryan Fraser and Callum Wilson, which is huge, but maybe they needed a few more experienced defenders to improve their goals against column.


Brighton & Hove Albion: C+
Graham Potter has been given money to spend and he’s strengthened Brighton’s attacking unit. Trossard arrived from Genk and Neal Maupay from Brentford in club-record deals, but will they settle in quickly in the Premier League? It looks a big gamble for Brighton. Losing Anthony Knockaert was a strange one, but they did keep hold of Lewis Dunk. A decent window for a side who struggled massively in the second half of last season, and needed a little more in midfield and attack. They’ve got that.


Burnley: D
Danny Drinkwater‘s arrival on deadline day was the biggest move for the Clarets, as Sean Dyche‘s side once again kept their wallets in their pockets. Jay Rodriguez arrived from West Brom and the hometown hero will be tasked with scoring goals, but overall it was an underwhelming window for Burnley. After their relegation scrap last season, many would have called for bigger changes. They did keep James Tarkowski though.


Chelsea: C-

Well, we can’t judge Chelsea on incomings due to their transfer ban, but Christian Pulisic did arrive after his loan spell at Dortmund and he looks like a star in the making. Matteo Kovacic is now a permanent Chelsea player too, while the big arrivals for Frank Lampard have been those coming back from loan deals. Tammy Abraham, Mason Mount and Fikayo Tomori will all be important players this summer. Losing Eden Hazard was a hammer blow, while the loss of Luiz should not be understated either. As expected, not the best window for the Blues.


Crystal Palace: D
Losing Aaron Wan-Bissaka to Man United was far from ideal, and even though Wilfried Zaha remains at Selhurst Park, is he happy enough to put on a show each week and push the Eagles up the league? Zaha looked set to join Arsenal, Everton, Napoli and others this summer, but the move just didn’t happen. Palace’s asking price of close to $100 million didn’t help out Zaha, and now they have to deal with him not being happy about having to stay in south London. This will be tricky for Roy Hodgson to handle.


Everton: B+
A very good window for the Toffees, led by the acquisition of rising star Moise Kean from Juventus. The deadline day capture of Alex Iwobi is also a very smart buy and they now have so many attacking options behind Kean. Sidibe gives them extra cover at center back, while Andre Gomes is a star in midfield and it was key to make his loan move from Barcelona permanent. Jean-Philippe Gbamin and Fabian Delph are shrewd signings to plug the gap left by Idrissa Gueye and Marco Silva has all the tools to lead this team to a top six finish. Very very decent.


Leicester City: B
Yes, they lost Harry Maguire, but they did so on their own terms and got close to $100 million for him. Adding Youri Tielemans was a must after his superb spell on loan from Monaco in the second half of last season. The Belgian midfielder oozes class and was worth breaking their transfer record for. Ayoze Perez will be a great understudy to Jamie Vardy up top and although it would have been nice to add another center back to replace Maguire, it was a smart move to not pay over the odds for James Tarkowski or Lewis Dunk. Dennis Praet’s arrival on deadline day strengthens their midfield further and this young, exciting team will push for the top six. Brendan Rodgers will be content with this summer. Nothing more. Nothing less.


Liverpool: C

Just $6 million spent by Jurgen Klopp on two youngsters, and the German coach is very comfortable with that. With Rhian Brewster, Adam Lallana and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain returning from injury and Divock Origi back in the frame, they have options outside of their best starting lineup. That said, is this Liverpool squad deep enough for a PL and Champions League push? If they suffer a few injuries to attacking players, you would be right to worry about Liverpool’s staying power. Having got Daniel Sturridge, Alberto Moreno, Simon Mignolet and Danny Ings off the wage bill, maybe Liverpool will spend money in January. This is a bit of a gamble for the reigning European champions.


Manchester City: B

Joao Cancelo and Rodri give Man City cover in two key areas, right back and central midfield. Rodri is the long-term replacement for Fernandinho in the hooding midfield role and it will take him a little while to get used to the pace of the Premier League. Elsewhere they tried to sign Maguire but didn’t want to pay what Man United did, so there is a sizeable gap at center back after legend Vincent Kompany departed over the summer.


Manchester United: B+
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer wanted young, quick, hungry players this summer and he got them. Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Harry Maguire arrived for huge fees and Daniel James looks a huge talent out wide. Paul Pogba has remained at United, for now, and Romelu Lukaku departed for $90 million to balance the books. United’s back four of Wan-Bissaka, Lindelof, Maguire and Shaw is very solid, but they are still a little tough to figure out in midfield. Going forward they are now led by Rashford, James and Mason Greenwood should emerge. All in all, a very positive window. Linked with approximately 8,992 players over the summer, the three they did sign are all quality additions.


Newcastle United: C
After losing Ayoze Perez and failing to sign Salomon Rondon permanently, the start of the window wasn’t looking great for the Magpies. Add in the fact that Rafael Benitez walked out as a manager and journeyman boss Steve Bruce replaced him, and there was almost a riot in Newcastle as much-maligned owner Mike Ashley once again failed to sell the club. There were the additions of Joelinton, Andy Carroll and Allan Saint-Maximin to boost their attacking options but Newcastle’s fans won’t be overjoyed with this summer.


Norwich City: D
Daniel Farke has kept faith in the team which got the Canaries promoted last season as the champions of the Championship spent very little. Teemu Pukki is their main threat up top, and it will stay that way, while they kept hold of young full back Max Aarons. Norwich’s squad is really interesting but they probably should have showed a little more ambition this summer. That said, we’ve seen newly-promoted teams spend big and fail to integrate all of their new signings successfully, so it is a fine line.


Sheffield United: C+
Ollie McBurnie and Lys Mousset arrived in club-record deals as Chris Wilder kept his defensive unit together but strengthened the attack. Bringing Dean Henderson back in on loan from Manchester United was brilliant business and the Blades have gone right in the middle of fellow new boys Villa and Norwich. Villa have spent big, Norwich have spent nothing and Sheffield United have spent a little on some young, quality lower-tier players.


Southampton: C+
Saints needed to strengthen their defense and they look to have done that right at the end of the window with the addition of Kevin Danso. That was much needed for Ralph Hasenhuttl‘s side. In attack they upgraded the team massively with Moussa Djenepo and Che Adams arriving for big money, so they look like they will be more dangerous. Moving on players has been tough but they managed to sell Charlie Austin, Matt Targett and a couple of others to balance the books. Steady summer.


Tottenham Hotspur: A-

Giovani Lo Celso and Tanguy Ndombele are two superstars, while youngsters Jack Clarke and Ryan Sessegnon have arrived too. What a good summer for Spurs. They also kept Toby Alderweireld and Christian Eriksen, for now, and they will try and get both to sign new deals. In the case of Eriksen it seems like a lost cause as he could still leave for Real Madrid or elsewhere in the final weeks of the European window. If he does, and Danny Rose joins him in moving to a club outside the PL, Spurs are set with their additions this summer. Lo Celso is initially a loan deal but is expected to sign permanently and the fact they were linked with Dybala and Coutinho shows the caliber of players Spurs are now going for.


Watford: B+
A wonderful end to the window for Watford, who brought in Danny Welbeck and Ismaila Sarr in the final 24 hours. Sarr is a club-record signing and a hugely talented winger, while Welbeck will compete with Gray and Deeney for minutes up top. If Welbeck can stay fit, that is a great buy. Craig Dawson is a steady head in defense and Watford do need to shore things up at the back a little. Javi Gracia has done well to add to his squad which did so well last season.


West Ham United: B+
Sebastian Haller and Pablo Fornals strengthen West Ham’s already strong attack and they managed to move on Marko Arnautovic who finally sealed his move to China. Manuel Pellegrini‘s squad is a little top-heavy but keeping hold of Diop and Rice was crucial to their defensive unit. The Hammers are primed for a European push, with plenty of attacking options the envy of their rivals.


Wolverhampton Wanderers: C
Probably should have done a little more to add to their squad given their European campaign. Patrick Cutrone will challenge Raul Jimenez in attack and allow Nuno Espirito Santo to rest the Mexican star from time to time. That is crucial. But apart from that they’ve only brought in youngsters after signing Leander Dendoncker and Jimenez permanently. A solid enough window, but their lack of signings could impact their PL form after a Thursday-Sunday slog due to the Europa League.

Salah, Alisson and others returning to Liverpool this week

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Despite Liverpool’s poor run of results during the preseason, Jurgen Klopp says he’s not very concerned.

That’s because Liverpool, more than most other teams it seems this year, has been without a dozen key players all preseason, and others who arrived a week or two late after international duty following the Premier League season. However, that all changes on Monday.

Mo Salah, Roberto Firmino, Alisson, Naby Keita and Xherdan Shaqiri are all returning to preseason work as Liverpool heads to Evian, France to continue warm-weather training. Liverpool has just a week before facing Manchester City in the FA Community Shield, and then another week before the start of the season. It’s unlikely that the quintet returning this week – with Sadio Mane set to return next week – will be ready to go for the start of the Premier League season, but it can potentially give the team a mental lift to see many of the team’s stars back in the squad for daily training sessions.

​“The lads coming back, even if they don’t play, it gives you a lift when they train and with the way they go about their business,” Liverpool left back Andy Robertson told the club’s website. “It doesn’t matter if they play on Wednesday or not, that’s completely up to the manager three days in, but that’s irrelevant: if they’re back in training and back around the place then it makes a difference.

“Mo and Bobby are two of our main men and Alisson was magnificent last season. They are huge characters in the changing room as well so that’ll be massive for us, and then Sadio will come back the following week. Once we get the whole team back together, and I think Shaq and Naby aren’t far off too, they’re players that are familiar around the set-up and around the system and that’s what we need. The quicker we get all of us back together then hopefully the better.”

Without many of the top attackers, some young players for Liverpool have been playing plenty. Aside from players like Divock Origi and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain building fitness, Harry Wilson and Rhian Brewster have received regular minutes. In addition, new signings Harvey Elliot, who just signed officially for Liverpool in the morning, and summer signing Sepp van den Berg each saw the field against Napoli. While they likely won’t play much this Premier League season, they may be called upon to at least be on the bench early on.

Klopp referred to this preseason, with so many stars missing, as a strange one.

“It’s kind of a new situation, but that’s not the reason what’s happened,” Klopp said. “Missing six players is strange. That you lose players during a pre-season, we are used to – that happened from time to time. But that they don’t start from the beginning and come a couple of days before or after we start with the season is not cool. Again, that’s how it is and we prepared everybody as good as possible. We have to fight the start of the season 100 per cent with all we have. The good thing is, if the opponents want to analyse us now, they think ‘easy job’, but we will be a different animal next week.”