5 first team players Liverpool signed for less than £10 million

Liverpool had to make some expensive signings in recent years to help Jurgen Klopp build a squad that could win the Champions League. However, they’ve also made some astute signings which cost less than £10 million and are key first-team players. 

#5. Joel Matip – Free Transfer

Jurgen Klopp’s first signing to bolster the Liverpool first team was Joel Matip on a free transfer in the summer of 2016. He was familiar with Matip during their Bundesliga days and was a big fan of the defender. 

“He never played for my team [Borussia Dortmund], he did the extreme opposite – he played for their biggest opponent [Schalke 04]! Maybe that says a lot about his quality. Even when he played for the team you cannot love as Dortmund manager, you see his quality. Then that’s real quality.” – Klopp said after Liverpool confirmed Matip’s signing. 

Matip debut season was good but a combination of injuries and the form of the other defenders forced him down the pecking order. At the start of the 2018/19 season, Matip was Liverpool’s fourth choice defender behind Virgil van Dijk, Dejan Lovren and Joe Gomez. However, long-term injuries to Gomez and Lovren during the festive period gave him an opportunity to cement his place in the starting XI and he did just that. 

The 27-year-old formed an impressive partnership with Van Dijk and the duo got better and better as they played together even more. In fact, there were certain games in which Matip was outperformed his partner and Klopp rewarded his impressive form by retaining him in the starting XI even after Gomez and Lovren returned from injuries. He played the full 90 minutes in the 2019 Champions League final and assisted Divock Origi’s goal.

#4. Divock Origi – £10m

Divock Origi rose to fame after scoring for Belgium at the 2014 FIFA World Cup aged 19. Liverpool signed him from Lille after the world cup for only £10m but he only joined Liverpool ahead of the 2015/16 season. Initially, he got very little playing time but once Klopp took over, he was slowly integrated into the squad. In fact, Origi started in Klopp’s first manager as Liverpool manager and struck the post in a 0-0 draw against Spurs. 

Despite being a squad player, he racked up 22 goals and six assists in his first two seasons before a disappointing loan spell with Wolfsburg in 2017/18. When Origi returned to Liverpool, there was no place for him in the Liverpool squad and the club were open to selling him but he stayed put. 

He had to wait till December for his first Premier League appearance of the season which came against Everton and he scored a last gasp winner which helped him get more opportunities. The highlight of his entire career was scoring a brace against Barcelona in the Champions League semifinal to complete a remarkable comeback and he followed it up by scoring a goal in the final as well. 

The 24-year-old has 28 goals and seven assists for Liverpool and has an impressive average of a goal or assist every 126 minutes for the Reds despite being a squad player. 

#3. Joe Gomez – £3.5m

Liverpool signed seven players in the summer of 2015 and Joe Gomez was arguably the least glamorous of them because he signed from Championship club Charlton Athletic for only £3.5m. However, Gomez impressed in preseason and started the first five Premier League games for Liverpool as a left-back before he picked up an anterior cruciate ligament injury. 

It took the youngster over a year to return from the injury and his only three appearances of the 2016/17 season came in the FA Cup. However, Gomez returned strongly in the 2017/18 season as a right-back and featured in 31 games across all competitions before an injury ended his season prematurely. 

He started the 2018/19 season as a center-back alongside Virgil van Dijk and before he picked up a serious injury against Burnley in December 2018, he played the full 90 minutes in eleven Premier League games and in those games, Liverpool conceded only four goals while keeping seven clean sheets. 

#2. James Milner – Free Transfer

In 2015, Liverpool needed an experienced midfielder to fill the void left by Steven Gerrard and they signed James Milner for free after his contract with Manchester City expired. Initially, there was skepticism about the signing especially because the deal was completed under Brendan Rodgers and Milner was immediately named the vice-captain but now, the veteran is a crowd favourite and an influential member of the dressing room. 

Every manager who has worked with Milner has praised his professionalism, fitness level and attitude. In fact, even at the age of 33, Milner dominates the fitness tests at Liverpool. 

His versatility is another quality of his which sets him apart and at Liverpool alone, he has played in midfield, on the wings and as a full-back on either side. In fact, he spent the entire 2016/17 season as Liverpool’s first-choice left-back despite being right-footed. He stated that he did not enjoy playing in that role but also said: “It’s about whatever’s best for the team and ultimately I just want to be out there playing games, contributing and helping this football club.”

The Englishman has racked up 22 goals and 36 assists for Liverpool in 177 appearances and has proved to be very reliable from the penalty spot. He also set the record for the most assists in a single Champions League season with nine assists in 17/18. 

#1. Andrew Robertson – £8m

In the summer of 2017, Liverpool desperately needed a left-back as James Milner was a limited player in that role. The Reds were linked with a plethora of high-profile names but in the end, they spent £8m on Andy Robertson who was part of the Hull City squad that got relegated in 2016/17. 

His transfer raised many eyebrows as pundits and fans alike felt that he was not what the club needed. That belief grew even stronger when he spent the first four months at the club as an understudy to the much-maligned Alberto Moreno. However, after Moreno picked up an injury, Robertson got a run of games and he soon firmly established himself as the club’s first-choice left-back. 

In the 2018/19 season, Robertson took his game up a notch and racked up 13 assists in all competitions. He was named in the PFA Team of the Year and the UEFA Champions League Squad of the Season in 2018/19 and it’s difficult to name a better left-back than him at the moment. 

5 European teams with the best midfield

Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur broke their club record transfers to sign Rodri and Tanguy Ndombele respectively. The two clubs have bolstered their midfield with these superb additions but how good is their midfield compared to other top European clubs? 

#5. Tottenham Hotspur

Last season, Spurs had a lot of injury woes en route to the Champions League final and the injuries often left them short of quality options in midfield. Mauricio Pochettino recognized his team’s weakness in that position and addressed that this summer by signing Tanguy Ndombele for a club-record €62 million from Olympique Lyon. 

In addition to the new signing, Pochettino also has Harry Winks, Moussa Sissoko, Eric Dier and Victor Wanyama as central midfield options. However, the Kenyan is expected to leave this summer. 

The highlight of the Spurs midfield are their two attacking midfielders, Christian Eriksen and Dele Alli. They were signed for a combined fee of only £16 million and the return Spurs have got for their investment is massive. Alli and Eriksen have a combined total of 108 goals and 118 assists for Spurs so far and they’ve both picked up many individual awards for their contributions. 

It is rumoured that Spurs want to add more depth to their midfield and the speculations lead to Real Madrid’s Dani Ceballos. Even if Spurs don’t sign Ceballos it won’t be a massive blow if they can keep the other stars at the club. 

#4. Barcelona

A few years ago when Xavi and Andres Iniesta were in the peak of their career, Barcelona had the best midfield in the world and it wasn’t even a debate. Even though those two talismanic midfielders are no longer at the club, they still have a fantastic midfield. 

Sergio Busquets has been the undisputed starting defensive midfielder at the club for over a decade now. He’s still only 30-years-old and can easily continue playing at the top level for a couple more years at least. 

The Catalan side’s midfield is a good blend of youth and experience. In addition to Busquets, Ivan Rakitic and Arturo Vidal also bring a wealth of experience playing in Europe’s top leagues and in the Champions League. These players will need to be phased out in the coming years and for that, Barcelona have added Arthur and Frenkie De Jong

If that depth isn’t enough, they also have the versatile Philippe Coutinho but the Brazilian’s future at Barcelona is up in the air. 

#3. Juventus

A few years ago, Juventus had a midfield with Andrea Pirlo, Paul Pogba, Arturo Vidal and Claudio Marchisio. Even though none of those players are at the club now, Juve still have one of the best midfield in the world and they’ve achieved that by making some astute signings. 

Presently, the Serie A giants have seven central midfielders and they spent a combined fee of only €61.5 million (without adding future bonuses) to sign all of those players. That’s significantly less than the fee they received for Paul Pogba. 

Sami Khedira, Emre Can, Adrien Rabiot and Aaron Ramsey were signed on free transfers and the latter two only joined the club this summer. Their midfield is completed by the highly-rated Rodrigo Bentancur and the experienced Miralem Pjanic and Blaise Matuidi

Maurizio Sarri prefers a three-man midfield and he rarely rotates his starting XI which means some of these world-class players will have to be benched a lot or maybe Juve will consider selling one or two of these players. Even if they do sell someone, they’ll still have a fantastic midfield. 

#2. Real Madrid

When Real Madrid won a hat-trick of UEFA Champions League titles under Zinedine Zidane, their starting midfield was Luka Modric, Toni Kroos and Casemiro. This trio was key to the club’s success under Zidane and in the three consecutive finals, Modric and Casemiro played every minute while Kroos missed only 49 out of 300 minutes. 

Zidane’s favourite trio is still at the club and even though the recent Ballon d’Or winner Luka Modric is 33-years-old, he’s still indispensable. In addition to these three superstars, Real have the highly-rated Dani Ceballos and Federico Valverde as central midfield options as well as the more experienced and versatile Isco

Even though Real have a fantastic midfield, they’re still linked with a move for Paul Pogba. However, they may not make a move for him unless they sell some superstars. James Rodriguez, another midfielder, is reportedly on his way out to either Napoli or Atletico Madrid while Gareth Bale’s future is still unresolved. 

#1. Manchester City

Pep Guardiola is a perfectionist and to play under him, a player has to be exceptional on the ball and Guardiola’s midfield at Manchester City is arguably even better than the one he had at Barcelona because of its depth. 

Guardiola led Man City to a record-breaking Premier League title in 2017/18 with a preferred midfield trio of Fernandinho, David Silva and Kevin De Bruyne. He used the German international Ilkay Gundogan as an option to rotate and rest the others. Last season, De Bruyne was out injured for lengthy periods and he covered for the Belgian by switching Bernardo Silva to a midfield role which was a masterstroke. 

City’s midfield only lacked a cover for Fernandinho and Pep addressed that this summer by signing Rodri. In addition to all these players, they also have Phil Foden who was the Golden Ball winner at the 2017 FIFA U-17 World Cup. 

Man City’s midfield combined cost comes to nearly £240 million but they’re worth every penny as they’ve played a crucial role in the club’s incredible success in recent years. 

5 Premier League winners who are still out of contract

This summer, notable free agents such as Diego Godin, Aaron Ramsey and Adrien Rabiot joined top European clubs. There are many more top players still available for free and among them are five recent Premier League winners who could still do a fine job in the English top flight. 

#5. Shinji Okazaki

Shinji Okazaki joined Leicester City in 2015 and in his debut season, he helped them win the Premier League. Okazaki scored five goals in 36 league games that season and started 28 of those games. Although his goals tally isn’t prolific, his selfless display helped the Foxes use a 4-4-2 system and created space for the dangerous Jamie Vardy. 

In his four seasons with Leicester, the Japanese international scored 19 goals in 137 games across all competitions. He was released at the end of the 2018/19 season after which he led a young Japan side at the Copa America 2019 but he is yet to find a new club. 

The 33-year-old has been recently linked with a move to the A-League but Premier League newcomers Aston Villa are also among the rumours. 

#4. Danny Welbeck

During a three-period, Danny Welbeck was arguably England’s best player as he scored 13 goals in 29 games. However, injuries have blighted his once-promising career and he now finds himself without a club. 

Welbeck won the Premier League in 2012/13 with Manchester United and has also won seven other trophies in England including the FA Cup with Arsenal. However, he has only managed to score 42 Premier League goals for United, Arsenal and Sunderland combined. 

The 28-year-old had a squad role at both United and Arsenal and that’s a reason why his goals return isn’t great. He’s still in the prime of his career and has the ability to score a lot of goals for a mid-table Premier League club if he’s given the opportunity to lead the line consistently.

Turkish giants Galatasaray have been linked with a move for the England international but Crystal Palace, Southampton and West Ham are also in the mix. 

#3. Mario Balotelli

Mario Balotelli had two stints in the Premier League with Manchester City and Liverpool. His stint with City was quite successful as he scored 30 goals in 80 games while also winning the Premier League and FA Cup. In fact, it was Balotelli who assisted Sergio Aguero’s immortal winner against QPR to win the league title in 2012. 

With Liverpool, however, the Italian had a nightmare season scoring just four times in 28 games before going on loan to AC Milan where he was equally poor. The Reds let him join OGC Nice for free in 2016 after no clubs were willing to gamble on him by paying a transfer fee. 

Balotelli turned his career around at Nice scoring 43 goals in 76 appearances but his ill-disciple ultimately led to his release in January 2019. He then signed a contract with Marseille till the end of the season and scored eight times in 12 games before he was released. 

The 28-year-old’s discipline is what’s holding him back and yet, it is rumoured that Fiorentina are willing to take a gamble on the former Golden Boy award winner. There is also a rumour going around that he has been offered to West Ham as a potential replacement for Marko Arnautovic. 

#2. Daniel Sturridge

Daniel Sturridge has played for Manchester City, Chelsea and Liverpool winning the Premier League once, the UEFA Champions League twice and the FA Cup twice. He even has one of the best minutes per goal ratio in the Premier League but he is still without a club after Liverpool released him. 

Sturridge scored 35 goals in his first 51 games for Liverpool but injuries derailed his career and once Jurgen Klopp took over, he was largely used as a backup to Roberto Firmino. Despite his injury woes, he was a fan favourite who scored 67 goals in 160 appearances. 

The England international is technically one of the best English players and aged 29, he still has a few years of top-flight football left in him. He has been linked with MLS clubs, Bologna in the Serie A, Rangers in the Scottish Premier League and a few Premier League clubs including Aston Villa. 

#1. Gary Cahill

Gary Cahill spent seven and a half seasons with Chelsea and during this period, he made 290 appearances for the club and won eight trophies including every major trophy at least once. 

Last season, under Maurizio Sarri, Cahill was effectively in the Chelsea squad to make up the numbers. He was offered the chance to leave the club in January but he stayed put, lifted the Europa League and left when his contract expired in the summer. 

The 33-year-old could still do a decent job for a Premier League side outside the big six and he was linked with a return to his first professional club, Aston Villa. However, Villa have signed younger defenders to bolster the squad and now, promotion seeking Leeds United are favourites to land the former Chelsea captain. 

5 times Barcelona angered clubs with their transfer business

One of the worst kept secrets of the summer was Antoine Griezmann’s move to Barcelona and like many of the Catalan club’s recent big transfers, this too was full of controversy. So, take a look at five such transfers by Barcelona which was done in poor taste.

#5. Malcom

On July 23 in 2018, Roma agreed on a fee with Bordeaux for Malcom and the player was due to fly to Rome the same night for his medical. However, in the eleventh hour, Barcelona entered the fray and offered Bordeaux more money than Roma. The Ligue 1 side stopped the Brazilian from flying out and instead, he flew to Barcelona to complete his transfer. 

Barcelona’s aggressive approach angered Roma’s then sporting director Monchi and he stated that Roma would consider taking legal actions against Barcelona. The Catalan club apologized to Roma but Roma rejected it and Monchi made a counter statement. 

“Barcelona apologized about their actions and how they did things, I don’t accept the apology at all. The only way I’ll accept Barca’s apology is if they send the player to us, and that’s not going to happen. Maybe, as a goodwill gesture, the very least they could do is send us Messi.”

Despite all the hassle to sign Malcom, he rarely featured for Barcelona last season and could be on his way out of the club this summer. 

#4. Philippe Coutinho

In the summer of 2017, Barcelona lost Neymar to PSG and they needed quality players to fill that void. One of their targets was Philippe Coutinho but Liverpool were not keen on selling one of their best players. 

Coutinho was also keen on a move and he submitted a transfer request to force a move. However, Liverpool released an official statement citing that the player is not for sale. The player had completed the preseason with Liverpool but he went on strike and missed the start of the season to try and force a move. 

Liverpool stood firm and rejected multiple offers from Barcelona during the summer transfer window. During the entire transfer saga, many personalities related to Barcelona spoke publicly about the player much to the anger of the Liverpool fans. 

For instance, former Liverpool player Luis Suarez said: “Both Griezmann and Coutinho are elite players that are playing at the top level. They are where they are for a reason. They’re both young and have long careers ahead of them. And Barca always wants the best players.”

Coutinho’s compatriot and then Barcelona player, Paulinho said: “I want him to come, I think it would be a great contract for Barca. It would be great happiness for me because we would have another great player and another Brazilian.”

The player eventually moved to Barcelona in January 2018 for a club record transfer and Liverpool reinvested that money wisely. As for Coutinho, his dream move hasn’t gone well. 

#3. Ousmane Dembele

Barcelona failed with their pursuit of Coutinho in the 2017 summer but they signed Ousmane Dembele from Borussia Dortmund that summer as Neymar’s replacement in controversial circumstances. 

The Catalan club’s intention to sign Dembele was no secret but Dortmund denied the player permission to speak to Barcelona and as a result, Dembele skipped training and traveled to Spain to try and force a move. Dortmund retaliated by suspending the player indefinitely and also rejected a €100 million offer. 

Dortmund later changed their stance but only allowed the transfer to go through for a fee of €105 million plus a reported €40 million add-ons. After the move was done, Dembele spoke about his actions that angered the Bundesliga club. 

“I decided to stop going to training. I didn’t want to go. I looked for an excuse not to go. If it didn’t work out and I hadn’t done my part to get the move to Barça, now I would be lamenting the fact I wasn’t here. I was really nervous, although I could rest at night. I just wanted it to go through as quickly as possible.”

#2. Neymar

Neymar has had two transfers in his career and both have been full of controversy. However, when Barcelona completed a move for him in 2013, there wasn’t any ruckus. 

In January 2014, a prosecutor’s office in Madrid investigated the transfer fee paid for Neymar and found contradictory information. A few days later, on January 23, Barcelona president Sandro Rosell resigned and the very next day it was revealed that the transfer fee was close to €100m as opposed to the earlier reported €57.1m. 

Apparently, Neymar’s parents received €40m from Barcelona and as a result, Barcelona was charged with tax fraud. In addition, Neymar’s former club, Santos filed a complaint with FIFA seeking compensation for a breach of contract in Neymar’s transfer. 

#1. Antoine Griezmann

The most recent entry to Barcelona’s list of high-profile controversial transfers. 

It is no secret that Barcelona attempted to sign Griezmann in the summer of 2018 only for the player to stay put but after a disappointing season with Atletico, Griezmann handed in a transfer request which Atletico confirmed before the end of the 2018/19 season. 

Griezmann’s release clause went down from €200m to €120m on 1 July and on 12 July, Barcelona paid €120m to confirm the transfer. However, later that day, Atletico disputed the deal and stated that the fee paid by Barcelona is €80m short of his release clause. 

According to Atletico, the player had an agreement in place with Barcelona before his release clause was lowered and they stated that they have “started the procedures it considers appropriate for the defense of its legitimate rights and interests”.

There’s a good chance that we haven’t heard the last of the Griezmann to Barcelona saga. 

3 Real Madrid players who fell out with Zindine Zidane

In his short managerial career, Zinedine Zidane has won nine trophies including a hat-trick of Champions League titles. However, he hasn’t had the best of relationships with all the players in his squad and has had a fallout with some players including a big superstar. 

#3. Pepe

Pepe was a Real Madrid player for ten years and during this period, he played 334 games and won 13 trophies. In his final season with the Los Blancos, he only played 18 games as Zidane preferred a center-back partnership of Sergio Ramos and Raphael Varane. 

Pepe’s contract was due to expire in 2017 and Real Madrid only offered him a year’s extension when the player wanted a two-year extension. The Portuguese international was released at the end of his contract after which on the  ‘El Partidazo’ program on Cadena Cope, he spoke about his manager and his departure. 

“I did not say goodbye to Zidane because he and Real Madrid knew I was going before me, I do not want to blame anyone, what Zidane has done with Real Madrid is spectacular, but there are things I do not understand. Why did I disappear from the team?”

#2. Dani Ceballos

Dani Ceballos only made four starts in the league and Champions League combined in his debut season at Real Madrid and after Zidane left Real in the 2018 summer, Ceballos made some scathing comments which may come back to haunt him. 

“He [Zidane] would have to explain why he didn’t give me opportunities. I worked, I tried to make it difficult for him, but a time comes when you see that it’s impossible. I scored two goals in Vitoria and the next match in Dortmund I played one minute.

“When weeks pass and you don’t feel important, it’s difficult. There was a moment when I took the season to be wasted, we were 15 points off the top of the league and still in the Champions League but I didn’t get on the scene.

“I hired a personal trainer in January because I wasn’t playing on Wednesday or Sunday and the intensity falls, I wanted to be at my peak in pre-season. It was clear that if Zidane had continued, I would have to look for an exit to come back more ready, but with the arrival of Julen [Lopetegui], everything was different. 

“I asked Zidane why I wasn’t playing because I didn’t understand it, he told me he valued the players ahead of me. There was a time in the season when [Luka] Modric and [Toni] Kroos were injured and he changed the system to play other players, that burns you a bit and it hurts.”

Ceballos was starved of playing time once Zidane returned and it is reported that the player will be sold in the summer with Tottenham Hotspur interested in his services. 

#1. Gareth Bale

Six seasons, 231 appearances, 102 goals, 64 assists and nine trophies sum up Gareth Bale’s time at Real Madrid but the numbers don’t tell you the crux of the story. 

Bale has scored the winning goal in two Champions League finals and scored in the penalty shootout in a third final. However, a series of injuries and Zidane’s preference of other players over him has led to numerous speculations on his future. 

Real Madrid have already signed three forwards this summer which means someone has to make way and the Welshman has been linked with an exit for a while now. However, Bale won’t come cheap and his wage demands are huge which means there aren’t many clubs in Europe that can afford him. 

Bale was left on the bench when his side lost to Real Betis in the final league game of the 208/19 season and this decision of Zidane’s caused quite a stir. Both parties haven’t tried to hide the mutual animosity despite which Bale or Zidane haven’t spoken out publicly. However, the Welshman’s agent, Jonathan Barnett, said that Zidane wants to sell the player.  

“I am not sure that Mr. Zidane wants him to stay but at the moment Gareth wants to stay. He has got a contract, he will quite happily see it out until 2022.”  

5 Chelsea youngsters who will get a chance under Frank Lampard

Frank Lampard has been confirmed as the new Chelsea manager and the club legend has a tough job ahead of him because of the transfer ban.

He will have to give opportunities to some of the promising youngsters at the club so that the Blues can get through the next season.

#5. Ethan Ampadu

Ethan Ampadu has only made 12 appearances for Chelsea in all competitions since joining them in 2017 but he has already made eight appearances for the Wales national team. The 18-year-old is highly rated but he needs more playing time to further his career. 

Ampadu is capable of playing as a defensive midfielder or as a center-back and this will enhance his chances of first-team opportunities. The Blues are currently stocked in midfield but following the departure of Gary Cahill, there is an opening the heart of the defence which Ampadu can grab. 

At his unveiling, Lampard stressed on the importance of giving youth a chance and Ampadu is arguably the most exciting Welsh talent since a certain Gareth Bale. 

#4. Reece James

Reece James is yet to make his professional debut for Chelsea but the fans of the club are excited about his future at the club after an impressive spell on loan with Wigan Athletic in the Championship last season. 

He missed only one of the Latics Championship games last season and played a key role in helping the club avoid the drop. He was named in the Championship Team of the Season and picked up three awards at Wigan’s end of the season awards including the club’s Player of the Year. 

James is expected to be Chelsea’s second choice right-back behind Cesar Azpilicueta but don’t be surprised if the 19-year-old slowly takes over from the veteran Spaniard and cements his place in the starting XI by the end of the 2019/20 season. 

#3. Mason Mount

Mason Mount was one of two Chelsea players Lampard took on loan at Derby County last season and having seen his abilities first hand, it will be a shock if Lampard sends Mount out on loan again this summer. 

The 20-year-old Chelsea academy graduate is yet to play for the Blues’ first team but he had two fantastic spells on loan with Vitesse and Derby. For the Eredivisie club, he racked up 13 goals and 10 assists in only 39 games and for the Rams, he had an equally impressive record of 11 goals and six assists in 44 games. His numbers from midfield remind many fans of none other than the newly appointed Chelsea manager. 

Lampard spoke positively on Mount and Fikayo Tomori in his first press conference and if these players can impress in preseason, then they could help the Blues deal with the transfer ban with relative ease. 

#2. Tammy Abraham

One of the biggest problems for Chelsea going into next season is the decision on their strikers. Alvaro Morata and Michy Batshuayi are still Chelsea players but they’ve not done enough to warrant another opportunity which leaves Chelsea with the experienced Olivier Giroud and the highly rated Tammy Abraham. 

Abraham, who has only played thrice for the Blues, had two impressive loan spells in the Championship with Bristol City and Aston Villa. He had a poor spell on loan in the Premier League in between but that shouldn’t be a yardstick to judge him given the quality of the Swansea City side he played for. 

The 21-year-old was part of the Villa side that beat Lampard’s Derby in the Championship play-off final and Lampard has said that the striker will get his opportunity in the pre-season. Given the lack of options up front for Chelsea and the transfer ban, Abraham has the chance to become Chelsea’s, Harry Kane. 

#1. Callum Hudson-Odoi

The transfer ban is a big blow for Chelsea and because of it, they’ll be unable to sign a quality replacement for Eden Hazard this summer. They’ve got Christian Pulisic coming this summer but the man to fill the boots of the recently departed Belgian is Callum Hudson-Odoi. 

Hudson-Odoi was wanted by Bayern Munich in January and the Bavarian club still wants him. Chelsea are unwilling to sell one of the best young prospects in English football especially with a transfer ban in place and they’ll be hoping that the 18-year-old can cement his place in the starting XI. 

Last season, Hudson-Odoi enjoyed his breakthrough season and in 24 games across all competitions, he had five goals and assists each. It is rumoured that he’s on the verge of signing a new contract and that he will return from injury in August in time to help Lampard get off to a good start. 

5 Liverpool youngsters who could break into Jurgen Klopp’s first-team this season

Are Liverpool or Manchester United the bigger club in England?

Jurgen Klopp is renowned for his ability to train young players into potential superstars and at Liverpool, he has already honed the likes of Trent Alexander-Arnold and Joe Gomez. A few more promising youngsters at the club could get their break into the first team setup this season. 

#5 Yasser Larouci (LB)

Yasser Larouci like Paul Pogba, Dimitri Payet and Benjamin Mendy spent a significant period of his formative years at the Le Havre academy before signing for a bigger club. The Reds fended off interest from rivals Manchester United to sign Larouci in 2018. 

When he signed for Liverpool, he was a winger but the Reds’ U-18 manager Barry Lewtas moved him to the left-back position and he has thrived in that role during the 2018/19 season, eventually helping his side win the FA Youth Cup. 

Lewtas told Liverpool’s official website: “Yasser has done extremely well for us. He is lightning quick and a real good personality. 

“In terms of him playing in a new position this season, it has worked really well for us. Because he is so quick it helps in his one-v-one defending, he is aggressive and is good when he runs into the big spaces and he arrives well in terms of forward runs.”

The 18-year-old is eligible to represent Algeria, by birth, and France. He could force his way into the Liverpool first-team setup as there is an opening for a backup left-back after Alberto Moreno was released this summer. 

#4 Adam Lewis (LB)

Yasser Larouci isn’t the only academy product who is vying for Alberto Moreno’s old spot in the squad and he could be beaten to the first-team by Adam Lewis. 

Like Liverpool’s right-back Trent Alexander-Arnold, Lewis is also a ‘Scouser’, is known for his delivery from open play and set-pieces, and started out as a midfielder which has helped his swift passing game. The soon to be 20-year-old left-back was the captain of the Liverpool U-18 side under Steven Gerrard and is now a regular for the U-23 side. 

“My dream is to play for the first team one day, and maybe playing at left-back there is a chance for me in the future if I continue to get stronger and do well,” he had said.

“I just love playing the game and this club means everything to me. I love making tackles and I hate losing.”

Whether he follows further in Alexander-Arnold’s footsteps remains to be seen.

#3 Sepp van den Berg (CB)

Sepp van den Berg is Liverpool’s only signing of the summer so far and the 17-year-old has been labelled as ‘one for the future’. However, he’s got plenty of talent and could play a few games for the first team in cup competitions at least if they don’t add any more central defenders. 

The tall Dutch defender played for the PEC Zwolle first team last season under former Manchester United defender Jaap Stam. He was wanted by Ajax, Barcelona and Bayern Munich this summer but he chose Liverpool instead. 

Van den Berg started his career as a winger because of his pace before transitioning into a right-back and later into a centre-back. 

Speaking to the Liverpool website after he was officially unveiled, Van der Berg said – “I’ve seen what kind of players from the Academy have grown into the first team. It is unbelievable, especially when this kind of big club does that. Of course, the trainer [Klopp] is a great guy and one of the reasons they are successful – and also one of the reasons I came here.” 

#2 Ki-Jana Hoever (RB)

Sepp van der Berg isn’t the only young Dutch defender attempting to break into the Liverpool first team. Another 17-year-old, Ki-Jana Hoever, already made his first-team debut last season and could be given more chances in the preseason and maybe even in a few cup games. 

Liverpool signed Hoever from Ajax in 2018 for only £90,000 even though there was serious interest in him from the likes of Chelsea, Manchester United and Manchester City. 

The Dutchman made his debut for the Reds as a first-half substitute against Wolves in the FA Cup in January 2019 and in the process, he became the club’s third youngest debutant; youngest ever in the FA Cup. Although the Reds lost the game 2-1, Hoever received a lot of praise for his performance in a makeshift backline. 

Hoever will now report for preseason after a successful summer during which he won the UEFA Under-17 Championship with the Dutch team. He was also named in the team of the tournament. 

The teenager is capable of playing as a right-back or as a centre-back and this gives him better chances of breaking into the first team next season. 

#1 Rhian Brewster (ST)

Two members of England’s FIFA U-17 World Cup, Jadon Sancho and Callum Hudson-Odoi, are already capped at the senior level and the next in line from that squad to play for the senior team could be Rhian Brewster.

Brewster is yet to make his debut for the Liverpool senior team and it’s only because he has been held back by a couple of serious injuries in recent seasons. However, he’s back to full fitness and has a clear pathway into the first team following Daniel Sturridge’s departure. 

Liverpool signed Brewster from Chelsea in 2014 and he became a member of the club’s U-23 side when he was only 16-years-old. He made the first team bench towards the end of the 2016/17 season but has been made to wait for his debut. 

During the summer of 2018, Borussia Monchengladbach attempted to sign Brewster as he only had one year left on his contract and this angered Liverpool to such an extent that they cancelled their scheduled preseason game with the Bundesliga club and quickly tied him down to a long-term contract. 

Klopp is a huge admirer of the pacey and nimble-footed forward and was able to convince him that he’ll get first-team opportunities at Liverpool. The German manager said “He is the next really exciting prospect. If you see him training… next season will be his season, his first real season.”

3 players who had a fallout with Jurgen Klopp

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp is renowned for the close relationship he shares with every playing and non-playing member of his side. Many stars who have played under him have heaped praise on his man management skills but believe it or not, there are a few players who’ve had a fallout with the German.

#3. Martin Skrtel

Martin Skrtel was an excellent servant for Liverpool during a tough period for the club and in eight and a half seasons, he made 320 appearances for the club while winning the League Cup and winning the Liverpool Player of the Year award in 2012. 

The Slovakian was in Jurgen Klopp’s first starting XI as Liverpool manager but soon, he was the fourth-choice center-back behind Dejan Lovren, Mamadou Sakho and Kolo Toure. In the summer of 2016, it was evident that Skrtel would be sold and Liverpool fans were sad to see a dedicated player leave even though it was time for the club to move on. 

After Skrtel completed his move to Fenerbahce, a social media post put up by a friend of his was uncovered on Instagram and in the caption of the photo featuring the player and his friend, there were many hashtags including one with Klopp’s name in it. Translation of the hashtags from Slovakian to English revealed that they were insults aimed at Klopp. 

Skrtel’s first comment on the post translates to “the last hashtag is top”. His friend then replies by saying “hope Jurgen won’t see it” and Skrtel replies “hope he does”. 

After the post went viral, it was taken down but the damage was already done. Skrtel later posted an explanation on his Instagram account but it doesn’t take a genius to understand that he didn’t have the best relationship with Klopp at the time of his departure. 

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#2. Mamadou Sakho

From the squad Klopp inherited at Liverpool, the only defender who won the Champions League this year was Dejan Lovren. Who would have thought the much-maligned Croatian would outlive everyone else including Mamadou Sakho. 

Sakho was a key member of Klopp’s side that made it to two finals in the 2015/16 season but he missed the final of the Europa League because he was serving a 30-day ban for allegedly violating an anti-doping rule. However, the fat-burner he took was not found in the list of banned substances by UEFA. 

The following preseason while Liverpool were touring the US, Klopp sent Sakho back home for not respecting team rules. Klopp revealed that the Frenchman was late for the team’s flight, skipped a rehabilitation session (he was injured at that time) and was late to a team meal. Sakho later said that he apologized to his manager and teammates and also paid the fines but that was not enough for Klopp. 

Sakho was subsequently demoted to the reserves and Liverpool attempted to sell him in the summer but the player stayed put. However, he did not play for the senior team despite Liverpool’s defensive woes and in September 2016, Sakho took to Snapchat to voice his frustration before Liverpool’s game against Leicester and Klopp responded by saying that the situation isn’t positive. 

He spent the second half of the 2016/17 season on loan at Crystal Palace and following Palace’s win at Anfield, he performed a rehearsed handshake with match-winner Christian Benteke much to the annoyment of Liverpool fans.

The following summer, Liverpool offloaded him permanently to the Eagles. 

#1. Ivan Perisic

Ivan Perisic is a key player for Inter Milan and Croatia and has been linked with a move to the Premier League for a while now with Manchester United and Arsenal among his potential suitors. However, before his fame at Inter, he played under Klopp at Borussia Dortmund. 

The Croatian signed for Dortmund in 2011 and won the domestic double with the team in his debut season while also contributing with nine goals and six assists. The following season, he found playing time hard to come by as new signing Marco Reus became indispensable. 

In an interview with Croatian channel Nova TV, he vented his frustration. 

“I cannot be pleased with my situation at the club. I don’t get a lot of time on the pitch, very much like last year. 

“We have no relationship. He is the best coach in Germany right now, the number one, everyone accepts the subordinate role and rightly so, what we achieved in Dortmund over the past few years is unique. 

“The atmosphere in the team is perfect, but he has three to four players with whom he discusses things. The rest of us are pros, doing their job.”

Klopp didn’t take kindly to Perisic’s comments and hit back hard. 

“Public whining belongs to kindergarten, not to the world of adults. If he doesn’t play, a football professional should shut his mouth, work hard and make the coach select him – not complain about it to the reporters.”

In January 2013, which was the very next transfer window, Dortmund sold Perisic to Wolfsburg and in hindsight, that was a bad decision. They reached the final of the Champions League that year but they were without the injured Mario Gotze in the final and Klopp had to replace him with the utility player Kevin Großkreutz. There’s no doubt that Perisic would have been a much better alternative. 

5 teams that could lose many of their key players this summer

When Monaco won the Ligue 1 title in 2016/17, it cost them their best players including Kylian Mbappe and Bernardo Silva in the very next summer transfer window. Like Monaco in 2017, these five clubs in Europe could lose more than one of their key players this summer.

#5. Crystal Palace

Crystal Palace have one of the most underrated academies in England and two of their academy graduates, Wilfried Zaha and Aaron Wan-Bissaka, were key to their success last season. 

Zaha completed a switch to Manchester United back in January 2013 only to return to the club a year later while Wan-Bissaka is on the verge of completing a move to Old Trafford for a reported fee of £50 million. 

Wan-Bissaka isn’t the only key player Palace could lose this summer as Zaha has been linked with a potential move to Arsenal. The Gunners are keen to add a quality winger to their side this summer and Zaha is an ideal candidate. However, Crystal Palace winger will cost around £80 million and 25% of his fee will go to United because of a sell-on clause. 

Losing two key players will be a massive blow for the Eagles and could push them closer to the relegation zone next season unless they reinvest it wisely. 

#4. Porto

The three Portuguese giants are no strangers to losing their key assets every summer and this year, Porto will suffer the biggest blow even though Benfica are on the verge of losing Joao Felix and Sporting could lose Bruno Fernandes. 

Porto have already sold two key defenders to the two Madrid giants. Eder Militao’s €50 million transfer to Real Madrid was announced in March and Felipe Augusto is joining Atletico Madrid for €20 million. 

The Portuguese club is also resigned to losing Yacine Brahimi on a free transfer as the Algerian hasn’t signed a new contract. Their problems will be compounded if they lose their star striker Moussa Marega who is attracting plenty of interest from the Premier League. 

#3. Bayer Leverkusen

Barring Bayern Munich, all the German clubs are forced into selling their best players when a European giant comes calling and this summer, Leverkusen could be on the receiving end once again after losing Bernd Leno and Benjamin Henrichs only a year ago. 

So far, the only key player to leave Leverkusen this summer is their academy product Julian Brandt who joined rivals Borussia Dortmund for €25 million. The 23-year-old is a fantastic talent who has 42 goals and 51 assists to his name in only 215 games. 

The other Leverkusen product who is attracting a lot of interest is the 20-year-old Kai Havertz who racked up 20 goals and 7 assists in only 42 games last season. It was reported that Leverkusen rejected a €90 million offer from Bayern for Havertz but don’t rule out a move just yet. 

Other Leverkusen players such as Leon Bailey and Jonathan Tah have been linked with several clubs in the Premier League but they may remain at Leverkusen next season. 

#2. Olympique Lyon

Olympique Lyon’s academy has produced so many world class players over the years and many of them currently play for some of Europe’s biggest clubs. This summer, they could lose several key players including a few products of their academy. 

The departure of Ferland Mendy to Real Madrid for €48 million was confirmed earlier this month and he could be followed by Tanguy Ndombele who is reportedly on his way to Tottenham Hotspur. However, Lyon president Jean-Michel Aulas confirmed that the club rejected an offer worth €45 million and are holding out for an offer close to €80 million! 

In addition to Mendy and Ndombele, a few other players could also be on the move. Houssem Aouar and Memphis Depay have been linked with a move to Liverpool among other clubs, Moussa Dembele has been linked with Manchester United and Bertrand Traore has been tied to Everton.

It is unlikely that Lyon will allow the sale of so many key players in the same window but their club captain, Nabil Fekir, is a prime candidate to leave. Last summer, Fekir’s move to Liverpool broke down in the eleventh hour and with him entering the final year of his contract, Aulas has confirmed that he will be allowed to leave. 

#1. Ajax

One of the biggest talent factories in the football world, Ajax, made a dream run to the semifinals of the UEFA Champions League and their success has put the spotlight on their best players. 

The future of one of their stars, Frenkie de Jong, was decided back in January and the 22-year-old will move to Barcelona this summer after the two clubs agreed on a €75 million fee. 

De Jong’s compatriot and the current Golden Boy award winner Matthijs De Ligt could be the next player to leave. Despite having offers from Barcelona, PSG and Manchester United, it is widely reported that he could be on his way to Juventus and his transfer could break the record for the most expensive defender. 

Other Ajax stars like Hakim Ziyech, David Neres and Donny van de Beek could also be on their way out with more than one club linked with a move for these players. 

5 swap deals we could see this summer

In the last two years, there has been huge inflation in the football transfer market and as a result, many clubs cannot afford to sign their targets without offloading some players. In order to comply with the financial fair play rules, we might see some swap deals involving some world class players. 

#5. Romelu Lukaku and Mauro Icardi

Romelu Lukaku and Mauro Icardi are two world-class strikers but it looks like they’ve both reached the end of the road with their current clubs for different reasons.

The Belgian joined Man Utd only two years ago and has a good return of 42 goals and 13 assists in only 96 games. However, he hasn’t hit peak form frequently at United and was often benched in favour of Marcus Rashford by Ole Gunnar Solskjær. 

Icardi, on the other hand, has 124 goals and 28 assists for Inter in only 219 games and won two Serie A Golden Boots with them. However, he had a fall out with the club management last season which looks irreparable. 

Inter want to offload the Argentine and are keen to sign Lukaku as his replacement. However, there aren’t any offers for Icardi on the table at the moment and the best solution will be to propose a direct swap involving both strikers. The question is, will United take a gamble on a volatile striker like Icardi? 

#4. Antoine Griezmann and Edinson Cavani

Antoine Griezmann announced his desire to leave Atletico Madrid this summer but so far, there has been no approach for the World Cup winning forward despite rumours linking him with a move to Barcelona. 

If the Barcelona move doesn’t work out, then maybe the best destination for Griezmann could be PSG where he can link up with his compatriot Kylian Mbappe. However, PSG currently have an established front three and one of them will have to leave to accommodate Griezmann. 

The Parisian club paid record fees to bring Neymar and Mbappe to the club and both players have plenty of years left in the tank. Therefore, the only expendable forward is the 32-year-old Edinson Cavani. 

In the past, Atletico have shown interest in the Uruguayan and the player himself has confirmed that. Even though Atletico have signed Joao Felix, they’ll still need to replace the misfiring Diego Costa and the best way to do that is by getting a cash plus player deal involving Cavani. 

#3. Paul Pogba and Gareth Bale

It’s been three years since Paul Pogba joined Manchester United for a then world record fee but even now people question if he has proved his worth. However, the player believes it’s time for a new challenge and that has started numerous rumours. The French international has been linked with a move to Real Madrid this summer where he can work under his idol, Zinedine Zidane. 

Real Madrid have already spent a lot of money this summer and will have to offload a few players to balance the books and one of the players they are desperate to get rid of is Gareth Bale. 

The Welshman is an exceptional player despite his recent injury woes but Zidane doesn’t fancy him. Bale could return to the Premier League and United could be the perfect destination for him as they can afford to pay his wages and they’ve desperately needed a right-winger for many years. 

#2. Paul Pogba and Paulo Dybala

Real Madrid aren’t the only club that has been linked with a potential move for Pogba. His former club, Juventus, are also rumoured to be interested in bringing him back but his price tag could prove to be a stumbling block. 

Juventus could sweeten the deal by adding Paulo Dybala in the mix. The Argentine is a fantastic player but after the arrival of Cristiano Ronaldo, he had to play out of position or start on the bench quite often. Since Maurizio Sarri prefers to use a 4-3-3 formation, there may not be a place for Dybala in the starting XI in the upcoming season as well. 

At Manchester United, Dybala could play as a number ten or as a centre forward and he is almost guaranteed to walk into their starting XI. 

#1. Neymar and Philippe Coutinho

Two years ago, Neymar shocked the world by making a record-breaking move to PSG but this summer, it looks like he could return to Barcelona with plenty of rumours of him being unhappy in the French capital. 

Barcelona will be keen to reunite the terrifying front three of Messi, Suarez and Neymar in order to help bolster their chances of winning the Champions League. However, they’ll need to offload a few players in order to make the budget to sign Neymar. 

If Neymar returns to Barcelona, one of the player’s who’ll become dispensable almost immediately is his compatriot Philippe Coutinho. It would bode well for all parties involved if they can agree on a swap deal involving the two Brazilians. At PSG, Coutinho can easily nail down a starting role and he will also get more creative freedom which could help him get back to the level he showed at Liverpool. 

Top 5 Ballon d’Or winners turned managers

So far, 26 different players have won the Ballon d’Or and three of them are still playing. 14 of the remaining 23 players have gone on to manage a football team and some of them have gone on to win the biggest trophies in football. So, here are the top 5 managers who also won the Ballon d’Or. 

#5. Marco van Basten

The three-time Ballon d’Or winner, Marco van Basten, retired in 1995 and said that he would never go into management. However, he changed his mind and started out as an assistant to his former teammate John van ‘t Schip with Jong Ajax in 2003/04. Despite his inexperience as a manager, in July 2004, Van Basten was named the manager of the Netherlands team with Van ‘t Schip as his assistant. 

Under his stewardship, the Dutch qualified for the 2006 FIFA World Cup while going unbeaten However, at the main event, his team lost 1-0 to Portugal in the infamous Round of 16 match in which the referee brandished 16 yellow cards and four red cards (2 apiece). 

He stepped down from the national team after Euro 2008 with a 67.31 win percentage and decided to take the job at Ajax despite the KNVB’s desire to extend his contract. At the Euro, his side beat Italy 3-0, France 4-1 and Romania 2-0 in the group stage only to lose to Russia in extra time in the quarterfinal. 

Van Basten’s Ajax could only finish third in 2008/09 and he subsequently resigned to become a pundit. He returned to management three years later with Heerenveen where a certain Hakim Ziyech broke into the first team under him. After two seasons with Heerenveen, he joined AZ but in September 2014, he relinquished his role citing stress of the job and he hasn’t managed since. 

#4. Alfredo Di Stefano

The Real Madrid legend is often revered for his playing career with Real Madrid during which he won five European Cups and won the Ballon d’Or in 1957 and 1959. However, he also had a good managerial career which started with Elche. 

Di Stefano returned to Argentina, his country of birth, in 1969 as the manager of Boca Juniors and led them to a league title before taking over as the manager of Valencia a year later. He won the La Liga and Copa del Rey with them in a four-year stint before going on to manage Sporting CP, Rayo Vallecano, Castellon, Valencia and River Plate in the next eight years. In his second stint with Valencia, he won the European Cup Winners’ Cup. 

In 1982, Di Stefano returned to Real Madrid as their manager and in his first season as manager, they lost the finals of Supercopa de España, Copa de la Liga, Copa del Rey and the European Cup Winners’ Cup. 

He returned to Boca Juniors in 1985 before joining Valencia once again and this time, he helped them earn promotion to the La Liga. In 1990, he took up his final managerial job with Real Madrid and won the Supercopa de España but did not return to management after that season. 

#3. Franz Beckenbauer

Franz Beckenbauer is another man whose playing career overshadowed his brilliance as a manager. In addition to his two Ballon d’Or coups, he won sixteen major trophies including a FIFA World Cup, Euro and a hat-trick of European Cups. 

In 1984, shortly after he retired, he was named the manager of the West German national team and his team reached the final of the 1986 FIFA World Cup which they lost to Argentina. However, four years later, his side got their revenge with a 1-0 victory. 

After his World Cup triumph, he ventured into club management with Marseille but despite winning 16 out of 25 games, the club’s owner, Bernard Tapie, moved Beckenbauer to a sporting director role. Including Beckenbauer, the French club had three managers that season but still went on to win the Ligue 1 and reached the final of the European Cup. 

After leaving Marseille, the Der Kaiser had two brief stints with Bayern Munich during which he won the Bundesliga title in 1994 and the UEFA Cup in 1996. He hasn’t managed any team since but was at Bayern from 1994 to 2009 as their club President. 

#2. Zinedine Zidane

Zinedine Zidane is the only player in this list who has won the Ballon d’Or only once. The Frenchman started his managerial career as an assistant to Carlo Ancelotti before taking over the Castilla side in 2014. In January 2016, he replaced Rafael Benitez as the Real Madrid manager and what followed is the stuff of fairytales. 

Zidane’s Real won the Champions League final in 2014 by beating city rivals Atletico Madrid and the following season, he did the league and Champions League double. In the process, Real became the first team to successfully defend the European title in the Champions League era. By the end of the 2017/18 season, Zidane’s trophy count as manager rose to nine in only two and a half seasons. However, shortly after winning his third consecutive Champions League title, he resigned only to return nine months later to take the reins of a team in tatters. 

Zidane has made some big signings this summer to compete with Barcelona and only time will tell if he can replicate the success of his first tenure. 

#1. Johan Cruyff

Despite Zidane’s incredible trophy count in a short span of time, he loses out on the top spot to the three-time Ballon d’Or winner Johan Cruyff. 

Cruyff has one of the biggest legacies in football both as a player and as a manager. He is often seen as a revolutionary figure in the history of Ajax, Barcelona and the Netherlands football team and the two clubs have developed youth academies based on his coaching methods. His style of play as a manager has influenced all-time great managers like Sir Alex Ferguson, Arsene Wenger, Pep Guardiola, Arrigo Sacchi and Frank Rijkaard among others. 

He started his managerial career with Ajax and was there for three seasons during which his side won three trophies and had a win percentage of 73.5! In 1988, he joined Barcelona and spent eight seasons as the club’s manager winning 11 trophies including the club’s first European Cup. After leaving Barcelona, he vowed to not manage again because of heart troubles but he returned 13 years later for the non-affiliated Catalonia team and he managed them in four games before leaving in 2013. 

5 clubs that have already broken their transfer record this summer

Many big European clubs such are yet to make a signing this summer transfer window but we’ve already seen quite a few big transfers and as a result, these five top European clubs have broken their club record transfer fee. 

#5. Wolverhampton Wanderers – Raul Jimenez for €38 million

Wolves returned to the Premier League in 2018 after spending five years in the lower divisions. They marked their return to the English top flight by finishing seventh in the league, qualifying for the Europa League, reaching the semifinals of the FA Cup and getting some fantastic results against the Premier League’s big six.

None of Wolves’ impressive feats from the 2018/19 season would have been possible without the contribution of Raul Jimenez whom they signed on loan from Benfica. The Mexican ended the season with 17 goals and eight assists in all competitions of which six goals and three assists were against Liverpool, Tottenham Hotspur, Chelsea, Arsenal and Manchester United. 

Before last season ended, Wolves announced that Jimenez’s signing will be made permanent in the summer for a club record €38 million. Nuno Espírito Santo will be hoping for an even better performance from the Mexican striker in the upcoming season. 

#4. Bayer Leverkusen – Kerem Demirbay for €32 million

Kerem Demirbay, a product of the Dortmund academy, was linked with a move to Liverpool since Jurgen Klopp took over but the German international will stay in the Bundesliga next season after signing for Bayer Leverkusen. 

Demirbay rose to fame with Hoffenheim and in three seasons, he racked up 12 goals and 27 assists in only 88 games from midfield. Leverkusen triggered a clause in his contract worth €32 million and will see him as a potential replacement for Dortmund bound Julian Brandt. 

Leverkusen’s previous club record transfer was the €24 million they paid for Lucas Alario in 2017. 

#3. Borussia Dortmund – Mats Hummels for €30.5 million

Borussia Dortmund narrowly missed out on the Bundesliga title last season and by the looks of their summer transfer business, they are determined to win it next season. They made Paco Alcacer’s loan permanent, signed Julian Brandt, Thorgan Hazard and Nico Schulz from rival teams but the biggest news of the summer was the return of Mats Hummels. 

Hummels rejoined Bayern Munich from Dortmund three years ago and now, the 30-year-old has returned to Dortmund for a club record €30.5 million deal which narrowly beats the previous record of €30 million paid for Andre Schurrle. 

Hummels played 309 games for Dortmund in his first stint and won five trophies. His return could be the boost Dortmund needs to reclaim the Bundesliga title as they conceded 44 goals last season. 

#2. Bayern Munich – Lucas Hernandez for €80 million

Last season, Bayern Munich exited the Champions League in the Round of 16 and only managed to defend their league title because Dortmund slipped up towards the end. The Bavarian side are in need of a revamp and as a part of the process, they’ve released veteran players like Arjen Robben, Franck Ribery and Rafinha in addition to selling Mats Hummels. 

Bayern have made two major additions so far to their team and both are to strengthen their defence. They signed both of France’s World Cup winning full-backs, Benjamin Pavard and Lucas Hernandez, for a combined €115 million and €80 million of that money went into signing the Atletico Madrid man

The 23-year-old is capable of playing as a left-back or as a center-back and it remains to be seen which position he will predominantly play for his new club. However, since Bayern already sold Hummels and still have David Alaba, Hernandez is likely to play as a center-back more often than not. 

#1. Real Madrid – Eden Hazard for €100 million

Between 2000 and 2013, Real Madrid broke the world record transfer fee five times with the signing of Luis Figo, Zinedine Zidane, Kaka, Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale. However, they abstained from making big money signings for a few years but after their dismal 2018/19 season, Florentino Perez has brought the chequebook out once again. 

Barcelona signed two players for over €100 million in the last two years but Real Madrid touched that mark for the first time ever when they signed Eden Hazard from Chelsea for €100 million. That’s a substantial fee for a player who was entering the final year of his contract but Real Madrid are not shy of spending money if the player is world class. 

It remains to be seen how long Hazard will remain Real’s most expensive signing because they have been linked with a move for Kylian Mbappe and it will probably take a world record bid to sign the French superstar.

5 clubs that have had the most managers in the Premier League era

Chelsea are currently without a manager and their next appointment will be their 15th permanent one in the Premier League era. The Blues are known for changing managers frequently but one English club has changed more managers than them since 1992. 

#5. Sunderland – 12 managers

Since the Premier League began, Sunderland have spent 16 seasons in the English top flight with their most recent season coming in 2016/17. The Black Cats had a history of narrowly avoiding relegation from the Premier League but now after successive relegations, they’re in the League One.

The fact that they’ve had three managers in charge of the club since getting relegated from the Premier League puts into perspective how frequently they change their gaffer. While they were in the Premier League, they’ve had 12 different managers in charge. 

Peter Reid was the first man to manage Sunderland in the Premier League and he was followed by Howard Wilkinson, Mick McCarthy, Roy Keane, Ricky Sbragia, Steve Bruce, Martin O’Neill, Paolo Di Canio, Gus Poyet, Dick Advocaat, Sam Allardyce and David Moyes. Interestingly, Sunderland was Keane’s first job as manager 

#4. Tottenham Hotspur – 13 managers

It took years for Tottenham Hotspur to find the consistency they’ve craved for so many years and they found it under Mauricio Pochettino. The Argentine has been in charge of the North London club for five years now but before him, Spurs had 12 managers in 22 years. 

Doug Livermore & Ray Clemence jointly held the managerial position at Spurs when the Premier League started and they were succeeded by Ossie Ardiles, Gerry Francis, Christian Gross, George Graham, Glenn Hoddle, Jacques Santini, Martin Jol, Juande Ramos, Harry Redknapp, Andre Villas-Boas, Tim Sherwood and Pochettino. However, only Ramos has won a trophy with Spurs and that was the League Cup in 2008. 

In addition to their permanent appointments, they’ve also needed a caretaker manager seven times with the most recent caretaker stint coming in 2008 before Harry Redknapp took over. 

#3. Newcastle United – 14* managers

Newcastle United have been in the Premier League for 25 of the 27 seasons so far and the recently departed Rafael Benitez was their 14th managerial appointment in the English top flight. The Toons will have to appoint a new manager for next season and that will add to their tally. 

Their former player and Ballon d’Or winner Kevin Keegan was the first man to manage Newcastle in the Premier League and he was also the only one to have managed them twice during the same period. 

Keegan was followed by Kenny Dalglish, Ruud Gullit, Sir Bobby Robson, Graeme Souness, Glenn Roeder, Sam Allardyce, Joe Kinnear, Chris Hughton, Alan Pardew, Steve McClaren and Benitez. They also had a few caretaker managers in between and among them was club legend Alan Shearer. 

#2. Chelsea – 14* managers

Like Newcastle, Chelsea have also made 14 managerial appointments in the Premier League era and since Maurizio Sarri joined Juventus this summer, Chelsea will also need to find a new man for the hot seat and it could be Frank Lampard. 

Even before the Roman Abramovich took over, Chelsea had five managers in 11 years starting with Ian Porterfield. He was succeeded by Glenn Hoddle, Ruud Gullit, Gianluca Vialli and Claudio Ranieri before Abramovich took over and appointed Jose Mourinho. 

Mourinho is the only one who had two stints under Abramovich and the other managers who were in charge of the Blues on a permanent basis are Avram Grant, Luiz Felipe Scolari, Carlo Ancelotti, Andre Villas-Boas, Roberto Di Matteo, Antonio Conte and Sarri. 

In between these permanent appointments, they also had Rafael Benitez and Guus Hiddink as caretaker managers and both these managers won trophies with them. 

#1. Southampton – 18 managers

With a total of 18 managerial appointments, Southampton lead the way and what’s astonishing is the fact that this list doesn’t include their caretaker managers or the ones who were in charge of the club during the seven years they were absent from the Premier League. 

Ian Branfoot, Alan Ball, Dave Merrington, Graeme Souness, Dave Jones, Glenn Hoddle, Stuart Gray, Gordon Strachan, Paul Sturrock, Steve Wigley, Harry Redknapp, Nigel Adkins, Mauricio Pochettino, Ronald Koeman, Claude Puel, Mauricio Pellegrino, Mark Hughes and Ralph Hasenhüttl are the 18 managers who managed the club in the Premier League era. 

The Saints didn’t part ways with all these managers because of poor results. Mauricio Pochettino and Ronaldo Koeman left the club in recent years because they were poached by other Premier League clubs. 

5 Copa America stars who could be on the move this summer

South American stars such as Dani Alves, Diego Godin and Antonio Valencia are free agents and will be joining a new club this summer. However, the won’t be the only ones on the move as these five stars could be on their way to a new club after the Copa America. 

#5. David Neres

Ajax’s run to the semifinals of the Champions League put the spotlight on their stars. One of their key players, Frenkie de Jong, is on his way to Barcelona and among the other stars who could make a switch this summer is David Neres.

The fact that Neres made the Copa America squad ahead of players like Lucas Moura, Felipe Anderson, Douglas Costa and Vinicius Junior itself is a testament to his incredible rise at Ajax and he started for Brazil in the first two group stage games. 

The 22-year-old winger has been a revelation at Ajax and in 99 games, he has 29 goals and 32 assists. He recorded two goals and assists each in the Champions League in 2018/19 and his goals were in the big games against Real Madrid and Juventus. 

Ajax previously rejected a bid worth £50m for the player from a Chinese Club which means it will most probably take a significantly higher bid for the Dutch club to even consider selling the Brazilian international. Everton have been linked with a move for Neres recently but their plans to sign Neres could be foiled by archrivals Liverpool. 

#4. Everton Soares

The injury to Neymar before the start of the Copa America opened up a place in Brazil’s starting XI and the player who has made the biggest claim to that spot is Everton Soares. 

Before the Copa America, Soares played six times for Brazil without scoring. However, in only 112 minutes at the Copa America he has two goals and one assist to his name and both his goals were sensational finishes from outside the box. 

The 23-year-old can play across the front three but his preferred position is the left wing and in 145 appearances for Gremio, he has registered 37 goals and 10 assists. His Copa America performance will help him get a move to Europe quickly and the player himself talked up a potential transfer. 

“I’m a player that’s always trying to get on top (of the opposition), cutting in from the left with dribbles and good finishes. Clubs in Europe have this style of play too and maybe I can fit in at Manchester United and others.”

#3. Giovani Lo Celso

Argentina scrapped their way into the quarterfinals of the Copa America and in their next game against Venezuela, they’ll be hoping for a bigger contribution from Giovani Lo Celso. He started all three of Argentina’s group stage matches at the Copa America and like most Argentine players, he too hasn’t been able to replicate his form at the club level for the national team. 

The 23-year-old spent last season on loan at Real Betis from PSG and after racking up 16 goals and six assists in 45 games, Betis made his move permanent. However, it looks like the La Liga side could lose him immediately as Tottenham Hotspur are rumoured to be interested in his services. 

Betis made Lo Celso’s transfer permanent for only €25 million and they could make windfall by selling him. However, before Lo Celso joins a new club, he will be hoping to win the Copa America. 

#2. James Rodriguez

Five years since winning the Golden Boot at the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil, James Rodriguez will be hoping to leave Brazil this summer with more than an individual honour. 

Rodriguez hasn’t scored at the Copa America yet but has produced two magical assists to seal Colombia’s safe passage to the next round. Now, the 27-year-old has 22 goals and 26 assists for the national team in only 75 appearances.  He also has a sensational record of 93 goals and 115 assists in 324 games for Real Madrid, Bayern Munich, Monaco and Porto combined but for some reason, Zinedine Zidane doesn’t fancy him. 

James is almost nailed on to leave Real Madrid this summer and it was widely reported that he will join Napoli to reunite with Carlo Ancelotti. When the Colombain superstar joined Real Madrid, Ancelotti was the manager and under the Italian’s tutelage, James racked up 17 goals and 18 assists in only 46 games. 

#1. Alexis Sanchez

At the club level, it has been a miserable eighteen months for Alexis Sanchez and yet, when he donned the colours of Chile at the Copa America, he once again played with the mojo that made him one of the best players in the world. 

In 27 games across all competitions for Manchester United in 2018/19, Sanchez could only find the back of the net twice. However, it only took him two matches to score as many goals for Chile and he also registered an assist en route to being named his team’s man of the match in the first two group stage games. 

Sanchez cuts a lonely and frustrated figure at Man Utd and it doesn’t take a genius to understand that the 30-year-old needs a change in surroundings to try and get back to his best at club level. The only question is which club will take a gamble on him and pay his hefty wages.