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Anderson arrives: Can Pellegrini unlock West Ham’s potential?

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West Ham United has sealed another impressive deal, adding $48 million winger Felipe Anderson from Lazio.

It’s a club record deal from the Irons, whose ambitions have been short-circuited in recent seasons by stop-start play under Slaven Bilic and David Moyes.

[ MORE: FIFA awards Golden Ball, Golden Glove ]

Now Manuel Pellegrini is in charge, and has made a series of purchases including Anderson, Andriy Yarmolenko, Issa Diop, and Jack Wilshere amongst others.

Anderson was fantastic for Lazio last season, though he was part of a loaded attack with Ciro Immobile, Luis Alberto, and Sergej Malinkovic-Savic.

Now the challenge is gelling quickly inside a short window. As we’ve seen in the past with markedly changed mid-table sides — see: Everton’s 2017-18 season — hitting the ground running is key.

Players have been convinced of West Ham’s ambition. Here’s the latest, Anderson, from WHUFC.com:

“West Ham is a club with a lot of tradition, lots of great players have played here, like Bobby Moore, Carlos Tevez and Di Canio. They were great players and idols here, and I’m aiming big, who knows, maybe I could hit their heights and be a legend here too.”

But turning that into on-field success and in-room culture has been a challenge. The move to London Stadium didn’t help, and managerial instability has been anything but a boon to the Irons. There have been plenty of self-inflicted wounds, too.

West Ham’s lineup could be frightening, even in the face of injuries to Andy Carroll (surprise!) and Winston Reid. But managing egos new and old is a challenge, which is why the Pellegrini hire could be a masterstroke.

Consider this possible XI from Pellegrini, who largely operated his Manchester City with a 4-2-3-1 or a 4-4-2 with two holding/defensive/deep-lying center midfielders (There have been rumors West Ham could sell Cheikhou Kouyate).

There are a lot of options for Pellegrini’s front four. Anderson and Yarmolenko both prefer right wing, while Arnautovic likes the left but has proven adept as a center forward if Pellegrini becomes the latest manager to eschew the idea of Javier Hernandez up top. Manuel Lanzini‘s injury does seem to put Wilshere in the No. 10 role.

Fabianski

Fredericks — Diop — Balbuena — Masuaku

Obiang — Kouyate

Anderson — Wilshere — Yarmolenko

Arnautovic

So the ingredients are there, with Aaron Cresswell, Pablo Zabaleta, and Jordan Hugill joining Chicharito in keeping training competitive.

But Pellegrini will have to navigate a culture that saw a seedy finish to the season, with protests and ugly incidents amongst supporters and players on the field in London.

And he does seem the man for the job. But if he can’t do it… well, stay tuned.

Sources: John Terry being pursued by several MLS sides

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A veteran Englishman could be on his way stateside following last season’s disappointing finish in the English Championship.

[ MORE: Rooney, Audi Field debut as DC United win ]

John Terry was a member of the 2017/18 Aston Villa squad that nearly rose to the Premier League, however, the team’s efforts were cut short in their promotion playoff final against Fulham.

Multiple league sources have told Pro Soccer Talk that several Major League Soccer teams have expressed interest in Terry, who is currently out of a contract.

Meanwhile, PST has also learned that Terry is being pursued by several upper-level English Championship and Scottish clubs.

The 37-year-old played 19 seasons with PL giants Chelsea, before making the move to Aston Villa last year.

Terry appeared in 32 league matches for the Villans, who are now in the midst of a financial rut after their failure to complete promotion to England’s top flight.

Derby County has been widely seen as one of the Championship sides interested in bringing Terry aboard due to the central defender’s relationship with new club manager and former Chelsea teammate Frank Lampard, however, no deal has materialized to this point.

Hazard hints at Chelsea exit, has ‘preferred destination’ in mind

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This summer could very well turn into a watershed moment in the history of Chelsea, as Antonio Conte has already departed the Premier League side after two seasons as manager, and the club’s most valuable superstar appears intent on following in his footsteps.

[ MORE: Transfer rumor roundup: Pogba to Barca? Madrid wants Neymar ]

Should Eden Hazard — who made some alarmingly eye-opening comments following Belgium’s 2-0 victory over England in the 2018 World Cup third-place game on Saturday — leaves Stamford Bridge in the coming days or weeks, a whole host of other key players could very well follow suit — quotes form Sky Sports:

“After six wonderful years at Chelsea it might be time to discover something different. Certainly after this World Cup. I can decide if I want to stay or go, but Chelsea will make the final decision, if they want to let me go. You know my preferred destination.”

Considering Real Madrid has been the club most commonly linked with a mega-money move for Hazard in recent weeks — and doubly so following Cristiano Ronaldo’s transfer to Juventus — many have chosen to infer Los Blancos as Hazard’s “preferred destination.”

[ MORE: Chelsea reveal new manager Sarri, midfielder Jorginho ]

Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich has curtailed his exorbitant, free-spending ways (to a degree) in recent years — much to the chagrin and disdain of Conte, which ultimately played a part in his departure — and the Blues fell back into the pack last season, finishing fifth in the PL. New manager Maurizio Sarri has an experienced, but aging, squad to work with. A widespread makeover will be necessary inside 24 months, and selling Hazard for a fee approaching $200 million wouldn’t be the least effective way to fund such an undertaking.

8 players score, plus an OG, in Everton’s 22-0 preseason rout

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Marco Silva took charge of his first preseason game as Everton manager on Saturday, and it’s practically impossible to imagine how it could have gone any better.

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

A 23-0 victory would have been more impressive, but only marginally more so than the 22-0 that Silva’s Toffees actually achieved against Austrian fifth-division side ATV Irdning. Kevin Mirallas, who came off the bench at halftime, scored five goals himself, and the scoreboard on the club’s stream essentially ran out of room before the halftime whistle.

Cenk Tosun and Oumar Niasse‘s tallies were only slightly less gaudy, as the Turkish and Senegalese internationals each bagged hauls of four. Ademola Lookman‘s hat trick appears paltry in comparison, as does the brace of Nikola Vlasic and the individual tallies of Leighton Baines and Mason Holgate. And Irdning own goal completes the scoring at 22.

[ MORE: Chelsea reveal new manager Sarri, midfielder Jorginho ]

Everton will take on League Two side Bury on Wednesday, at which point they’re (presumably) expected to get some vital preseason work in, and to be held under the 20-goal mark.

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.