Robert Huth

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Did Kompany help seal the title in possible final home game for Man City?

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If that was Vincent Kompany‘s final match at the Etihad Stadium as a Manchester City player, it was just about a dream finish for the veteran defender.

Kompany’s 30-yard blast found the top corner, whooshing past the diving Kasper Schmeichel as Manchester City kept its hopes alive with a 1-0 victory over Leicester City. Kompany, 33, is in the final two months of his current contract with Manchester City, and could conceivably retire or head to a new club come June 30, unless he reaches an agreement with the club to extend his stay. Although he’s pound-for-pound one of the best centerbacks in the world, he’s started less than half of Man City’s matches in each of the last four seasons, struggling with a myriad of muscular injuries.

[MUST-SEE: Kompany fires Man City back into Premier League lead]

“I said before the game ‘no shoot Vinny’,” Pep Guardiola said, jokingly, via Man City’s website. “He was right to not follow my thoughts. Incredible. The desire to win every game. There are important players in that club, it is more than one century history this club, not a lot of titles in trophy cabinet but a lot of players help us to be where we are right now.

“When fit, Vinny is an incredible player. He is real defender with personality and leader happy for him for the club and everybody.”

For most of his career for club and country, Kompany has been much more known for keeping goals out than scoring them. And even when he has scored, it’s often been with his head, or on a scrum in the penalty area. His goal on Monday showcased the brilliant technical ability he has. In the Premier League of the past, players of his strength and stature were more brute and brawn than finesse. Think Robert Huth or Philippe Senderos.

And yet, what sets Kompany apart from the rest of the pack is, when fit, he’s lightning quick, can play quick, zip passes on the ground or in the air, and he apparently can strike a ball as good as a forward or midfielder.

Following the match, Guardiola also lauded Kompany for what he did at Manchester City. Though Kompany is from Belgium originally, you don’t think of Man City without thinking of Kompany. Since his arrival at Man City, he’s seen the club go from a basically mid-table team with big ambitions to within a half dozen years, win the Premier League, and then within a decade, become one of Europe’s most ambitious and talented clubs.

Kompany is a big reason for that, even if his impact has been muted by injuries the past four seasons.

Ultimately, with Kompany’s contract running down, this may have been his last Premier League game in Man City colors at the Etihad. While Guardiola clearly appreciates what Kompany can bring, he also likely wants to have someone who will be fitter, and younger, especially with Man City surely attempting the quadruple again next year. Per Guardiola, we won’t know what will happen regarding Kompany until after the season. But talks are ongoing. So perhaps this wasn’t goodbye, just yet.

“We spoke with him and his agent,” Guardiola told the BBC. “At the end of the season we are going to talk to him. He is an incredible human being and he helps me a lot. Always I was sad I could not use him a lot but this club is what it is because of people like Vincent. At the end of the season after the FA Cup we will see.

“We will finish the season and after are going to talk. We spoke with him three weeks ago, one month ago. We spoke fluently. We are going to take a beer together and decide what is best especially for the club.”

Aston Villa will reportedly turn to ex-Leicester CB Huth

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Out with one Premier League champion, in with another?

Aston Villa is reportedly targeting Robert Huth to help fill the void opened by John Terry‘s move to Spartak Moscow.

[ MORE: USMNT loss to Brazil still shows hope for future ]

Younger than Terry and one of his former teammates, the 34-year-old Huth won the PL with Leicester City in 2016 but lost most of his 2017-18 season with an injury that cost him his spot in the lineup once healthy.

Villa is mid-table in points but near the bottom of the table in goals conceded (11). James Chester (ex-Hull) and center mid Mile Jedinak played center back in their last match, with Manchester United center back prospect Axel Tuanzebe at right back.

So, yeah, lots of out-of-position stuff there. Huth could help.

Season Preview: Another star departs; can Leicester cope?

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Leicester City at a glance

Premier League titles: 1 (2016)

FA Cups: 0 (best finish: runners-up – 1949, 1961, 1963, 1969)

League Cups: 3 (1964, 1997, 2000)

[ STREAM: Watch every PL match live ]


It’s been two years since Leicester City won the Premier League after starting the season as 5,000-1 long shots, and the Foxes only managed to narrowly eclipse their 2015-16 season points total (81) in the last two seasons gone by, combined (91). Leicester were headed for a serious relegation battle when Claudio Ranieri was dismissed nine months after lifting the PL trophy, but managed to finish 12th (44 points) on the back of a seven wins in their final 13 games. Last season followed quite the opposite path, as Craig Shakespeare was fired in October and Claude Puel arrived with a massive boost still quite early in the season. They finished ninth, but still won just 47 points in the process.

N'Golo Kante, Riyad Mahrez and Jamie Vardy were pretty unquestionably — and probably in that order — the three most important players during the title-winning season. Kante left for Chelsea mere weeks after celebrating at the King Power Stadium, while Mahrez finally got his long-sought-after move to — and corresponding payday from — a European giant, Manchester City. Even while missing a handful of league games due to transfer-related issues last season, Mahrez still bagged a dozen goals to come second, behind Vardy (20), for his now-former club.

The top-end talent is nowhere near the level it has been in the recent past, but there’s a solid case to be made that the middle of the squad is massively improved and that that could result in a steadier ride in 2018-19, with higher lows and lower highs.


Leicester will further solidify a top-half place because… manager Claude Puel builds and drills extremely competent and organized — but limited, albeit — teams. They’ll have one of the most robust, hardest-working midfield units in the entire league. They will be no fun to play against, and they’ll be even more difficult to score again. They have a great chance to finish with the best defensive record of clubs outside the top-six.

Leicester will end up in the relegation scrap because… scoring goals will be a challenge, unless Kelechi Iheanacho has a breakout season. While contributions will come from more places this season, there isn’t really any way to replace a player of Mahrez’s caliber if you’re a club of Leicester’s stature. Mid-table PL sides don’t sell a player for $80 million, then turn around and replace him with a $50- or 60-million player, the way an Arsenal or Chelsea can do. Also, Vardy is will turn 32 years old in January, and at some point he’s no longer going to be lightning quick, at which point he becomes far less effective — and feared.

Best possible XI:

Schmeichel

Pereira — Maguire — Evans — Chilwell

Ghezzal — Iborra — Ndidi — Gray

Maddison

Vardy

Transfers In: James Maddison ($32 million, Norwich City), Ricardo Pereira ($29 million, Porto), Danny Ward ($16 million, Liverpool), Jonny Evans ($5 million, West Brom), Rachid Ghezzal (undisclosed, Monaco)

Transfers Out: Riyad Mahrez ($80 million, Man City), Robert Huth (free), Ahmed Musa (undisclosed, Al-Nassr)

Ranking their offseason: B-

As discussed already, it’s impossible to replace Mahrez directly or with one player, so it was wise to not even try. Maddison has quickly progressed through the Football League and is full of potential, but he’s 21 years old and has played zero PL minutes in his career. Pereira, 24, is good enough to lock down the right back spot for nearly a decade, if he’s not poached by a bigger club in two years’ time; Evans arrives with the perfect blend of experience and a cheap price tag to replace Huth. Ghezzal is the wild card of the bunch.

Star player: In a perfect world, Iheanacho will have asserted himself as the Foxes’ undisputed star by the time May — November, preferably — rolls around. He’ll have to overcome a lot to do so, though, as Puel used him sparingly last season and pretty clearly doesn’t see him as a fit alongside Vardy, meaning he’ll likely have to unseat the man 10 years his senior in order to deliver on the potential he showed during brief flashes during his time at Man City.

Coach’s Corner: Again, Leicester won’t play the most beautiful, free-flowing soccer you’ve ever seen — far from it, actually — and it’ll be downright frustrating at times, and it’ll be by Puel’s design.

PST Predicts: Alongside Everton, Leicester should occupy no man’s land dead center between the top-six and the other dozen teams in the PL, all of whom are similarly competent and ambitious, but lacking the kind of depth possessed by the Toffees and Foxes. Leicester appear set to be a PL club for quite a long time into the future.

Transfer Rumor Roundup: Arsenal target Torreira; Evans signs for Leicester, and more

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Ahead of the World Cup, Arsenal is getting in touch with a potential breakout star.

According to multiple reports in Italy, Arsenal has begun negotiations to sign Sampdoria’s Uruguayan holding midfielder Lucas Torreira. The 22-year-old started all but two Serie A games for Sampdoria last season, his second season at the club, and it was also his breakthrough into the Uruguayan National Team, where his performances earned him a place in the World Cup squad.

[LATEST: 2018 World Cup news]

The reports state that Torreira comes with a nearly $30 million release clause and that Napoli are in the driver’s seat to sign him, but it all depends on Manchester City’s protracted negotiations for Napoli midfielder Jorginho. Arsenal coach Unai Emery has been reportedly looking at a number of new signings across Europe, especially at defensive midfield, which is where Torreira would slot in.

Here are some more transfer news and notes from across the Premier League and Europe:

(more…)

Report: Evans set to join Leicester via $10m release clause

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Jonny Evans isn’t going far from West Bromwich Albion, and for quite a discount (so to speak)

The Northern Irish center back, 30, will reportedly have a medical at Leicester City in the next 48 hours ahead of a move to join Claude Puel‘s Foxes.

[ MORE: Stewart named USMNT GM ]

Evans was linked with moves to Manchester City and former club Manchester United last season, but instead will reportedly try his hand at Premier League life just an hour’s drive from the Hawthorns after West Brom met a near $10 million release clause.

That’s at least less than half than the reported bid of Pep Guardiola last summer.

Leicester City’s stout back line of its Premier League championship season has taken significant steps back, with the Foxes partly addressing it with the addition of Harry Maguire last season.

Maguire, 25, was strong last season as Wes Morgan struggled and Robert Huth made just one appearance.

Evans won three Premier League titles while making nearly 200 appearances for Manchester United, leaving in 2015 for West Brom.

This would be a nice addition for Leicester, whose defending cost it a bid to return to European competition.