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Jurgen Locadia linked with Wolverhampton Wanderers – what would he bring?

Jake Jackman

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Locadia

Wolverhampton Wanderers are closing in on the signing of Jurgen Locadia from PSV Eindhoven. Sky Sports report that they are favourites to sign the Dutch striker in a deal worth £10 million. Brighton and Sunderland are also interested in the 23-year-old, but Wolves should get the transfer over the line. He has played for the Eredivisie club since 2011 and has totalled 115 appearances during that time, scoring 37 league goals.

The Dutch international has played in the Champions League for PSV and this would be considered a coup for Wolves if they do sign him. They have shown an impressive ability to punch above their weight in the transfer market and this would be another example of that. Supporters were hoping that the club would sign a striker before deadline day and Locadia is looking like he could be the one that arrives.

Would he be a good signing?

For those that haven’t seen Locadia play, he is a strong attacker with the ability to cause problems when he dribbles at defenders. He is quick and dynamic, which will make him an interesting player to watch in the Championship. During his time in the Eredivisie, his power has allowed him to dominate defenders, but he will need time to adjust to English football. It is a different style and players arriving from the Eredivisie haven’t always been a huge success.

Locadia is versatile and capable of playing on the wing as well as a central striker. This is where most of his minutes have come at PSV, but he has recently emerged as their first-choice striker, which is why it would be a disappointment to lose him. Last season, he contributed 13 goals and five assists. His decision-making needs to improve at times, as his end product lacks consistency, but he is a talent. It could be a wise decision to move to the Championship. He remains a raw talent and would benefit from a year in the English second tier before trying to do well in the Premier League. This would be another ambitious signing from Wolves.

How likely is a deal?

Wolves are in the market for an attacker and they have shown they can pull off big deals. They look to be a force to be reckoned with in the Championship and Locadia would be a coup for them, given his Champions League experience. There could be a chance that they are beaten to his signature with Brighton sniffing around, but it looks likely that this one goes through.

Jurgen Locadia to Wolves
3.5
Transfer Likelihood
The Boot Room's Verdict
It is being reported by good sources and Wolves will be hoping that they get it over the line.

Jake is a student based in the South East. He is a Newcastle fan and has a keen interest in Dutch football. Jake can be found on Twitter here - @jakejackmann.

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Norwich City

A project is underway at Norwich City, but is it the right one?

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Norwich City
Photo: Reuters

Outsiders looking in at Norwich City would say this has been a season of regression and underachievement at Carrow Road.

Yet, as the financial implications of relegation from the Premier League linger should Norwich fail to gain promotion – which seems increasingly likely – times are tough off the field in NR1.

Amidst all this financial pressure, the need to cut cloth has been graphically displayed through the departure of four senior players for substantial fees.

In truth, Norwich is in the process of a transition.

Previously, the club has been spearheaded by an omnipotent chief executive who oversaw everything from the football recruitment to how the club is run day to day.

Now, Norwich have adopted a more continental approach to their footballing structure, installing Stuart Webber as Sporting Director, who subsequently appointed Borussia Dortmund II coach Daniel Farke as his Head Coach.

Farke arrived in Norfolk with a label of being a progressive coach who developed young talent, playing a possession based style in the process.

He was met with a reality check as to the brutality and physicality of the division, and adeptly transformed Norwich into an outfit that could grind out results. Yet, defeat to Arsenal in the Carabao Cup saw this team endure a terrible run of form which was only halted at Christmas.

This is an experiment. A rebuild the scale of which hasn’t been seen in NR1 before and, in all honesty, it is an entirely unpredictable entity.

This season supporters have felt apathy, pride and disappointed. This was supposed to be a season of improvement and progression. Instead, this team seems to be stagnating in the division whilst selling its prized asset.

The reality is Norwich is self funding and whilst the current regime is in place, the reality is Norwich will have to sell their top talent in order to progress. See Alex Pritchard, Jonny Howson and Jacob Murphy. The parameters of the debate surrounding the current top brass at Carrow Road are there to be argued all day long.

What is abundantly clear is that Norwich need to ensure they are prepared for the difficulties lying ahead and reducing the wage bill by half, whilst attempting to fill a £30 million hole in the finances with the sales of top talent, is both logical and necessary.

Whilst the squad has changed dramatically, there is still a sense that Farke hasn’t formed a side which is capable of applying his intricate philosophy. In terms of recruitment thus far, Webber and Farke have prioritised steading a backline which leaked profusely last campaign.

With the experience of Grant Hanley and the insurgence of Christoph Zimmermann, Norwich’s reargued is a more balanced and reliable unit. Now attentions have been turned onto the other end of the pitch as Norwich’s toothless nature has been seen all too often.

When James Maddison’s reliable radar is astray, Norwich looks inept and devoid of any imagination. Offensively, the Canaries require differentiation in regards to how they offensively approach games. Norwich must retain the services of the young Englishman to keep this upward mobility discovered prior to Sheffield United.

Everything offensively positive has come through Maddison.

This is a side lacking athleticism and pace in wide areas, but also lack a striker who fits perfectly into Farke’s style.

With more bodies incoming in the days approaching, Farke should have a deeper squad at his disposal alongside some funds to recruit talent with the money gained from Pritchard’s sale.

This philosophy is still in the early days of construction. The frameworks and apparatus are still being put into place with Webber ensuring the academy is improved and there is a clear pathway for young players, like Jamal Lewis, to step up and play in the first team.

A pathway through the loan system has also been established. For a club with increasingly limited resources, Norwich will become reliant on their academy in regards to making money and improving the first team.

So where is Norwich at present?

Considering the change which has occurred from top to bottom at this football club and the constraints of the financial straitjacket in which Farke has had to operate, alongside seeing four instrumental players leaving in his first six month in charge, Norwich are left with a disjointed squad. However, Farke is doing a good job.

He has displayed he has the qualities and tactical nous to take this football club forward, and that he buys into the long term project in place. His reliance on young players will be of benefit to the football club in the long-term, while he looks set to ensure the academy is prosperous for the future.

This is a project, and one Norwich need to stick with.

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Bristol City

Three ambitious signings Bristol City should make this January

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Photo: Reuters

One month ago Bristol City looked to be in a much stronger position than they are now. Three league defeats in a row to runaway leaders Wolves, Aston Villa and Norwich City put a series of large dents in Lee Johnson’s automatic promotion hopes.

All is not lost for the side from the West Country, however, with a hard earned point away at Derby County stopping the rot, so to speak. The fact remains, though, that City have a number of injuries to key players.

The Robins were boosted by the return of Famara Diedhiou on Friday night versus The Rams, but took two steps back with one step forward, as Frank Fielding and Nathan Baker left the field of play at half-time, with respective groin and ankle injuries.

An already thread bare squad suddenly might have got even lighter.

With a gruelling 90 minutes (at very least), versus arguably the best side in Europe, to occupy Bristol City on Tuesday, before the brutal rhythm of the Championship season snares them again on Saturday with a home tie against Ian Holloway’s QPR, the club really do need some reinforcements.

Ryan Kent (loan) and Liam Walsh (permanent) have been brought in already and, while inexperienced, their youthful energy, bravery and intuition going forward will certainly help the overall team effort.

In some respects, literally *any* players will do – just more bodies to soak up some critical minutes from the first XI regulars.

That said, if City are going to mount a serious promotion/top six push they require more than just *any* signings, the BS3 outfit require players who will really improve and strengthen key positions – taking the workload off of the current players who have (on average) played 300 minutes more than their Championship opponents in 2018 alone.

Here are three players that would strengthen Bristol City as we get stuck into the second half of the 2017/2018 Championship season…

Alfredo Morelos – Rangers

Rangers’ Colombian striker Alfredo Morelos is the most recent name to be linked with a move to Bristol City, although the latest from the Bristol Post suggest these reports were wide of the mark.

The 21-year-old boasts a very impressive goal scoring track record, roughly once every two games, across his time playing top flight football in Colombia, Lithuania and Scotland.

Rangers are unlikely to want to sell one of their prized assets, but every player has his price.

Bristol City broke their transfer record this summer on Famara Diedhiou for a fee confirmed as £5.3 million.

Steve Lansdown could well break this record again within a season if he feels, or is convinced by the scouting network, that Morelos could be the difference between promotion and mid-table mediocrity.

At 21, he certainly has room to improve and could be a useful investment.

Sam Byram – West Ham

Bristol City’s first choice right-back, Eros Pisano, is not returning to training for a few more weeks and, with Zak Vyner now joined Plymouth on loan, the club need a right-sided full-back to take some pressure off of club captain Bailey Wright.

Sam Byram is certainly at the ambitious end of the spectrum, but as the old adage goes, if you don’t buy a ticket, you don’t win the raffle.

The youngster has not had as much game time as he would have liked at West Ham and with former Bristol City player David Moyes in the east London hot seat, coupled with City’s recent track record with Premier League loanees, this may not be as implausible a loan deal as some naysayers may suggest.

Lukas Nmecha – Manchester City

With Bristol City being linked, by the Daily Mail, with Manchester City potential loanees after Pep Guardiola’s alleged satisfaction with Lee Johnson’s style of football, a few Citizen academy players have been linked with a temporary loan south.

Lukas Nmecha is one of those names. The German born forward has represented England at age groups from Under-16 to Under-19 with a fair degree of success.

The 19-year-old, who stands at six foot tall, as a striker, does not represent a position of real need for Lee Johnson. However, one could argue that City are so desperate for players that anyone who could help out with 20 minutes here and there is useful.

Especially as the likes of Matty Taylor and Gustav Engvall have not proved themselves at this level, and Milan Djuric remains sidelined for the time being.

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Hartlepool

Hartlepool United: Time to save the Pools from extinction

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Hartlepool United
Photo: Reuters

Chaos often brings camaraderie in the football world.  The news that Hartlepool United, in existence for over 100 years, are in serious financial trouble has once again united fans of several clubs, who have rallied to the cause in supporting the drive to raise the cash to resurrect the club from its deathbed.

As a Boro fan, this is particularly pertinent given the role that Hartlepool played in resuscitating my team in 1986. Boro fans have launched efforts to each donate £19.86 to Hartlepool’s cause and drum up support for supporters to attend the Pools’ home game against Wrexham on Saturday whilst Boro are away against Queens Park Rangers.

Whilst supporter solidarity is heartening at these times, I am once again left asking why? Why are clubs allowed to be so poorly run by the FA? Why in a game awash with money, where almost every Premier League side receives £100 million per season, can a club potentially go bust?

Why is it the fans, who pour money into clubs up and down the every week, who are the ones expected to pay for the bail out (minus a few honourable exceptions, such as Danny Graham)?

The Hartlepool fans are attempting to raise £200k to keep the club going until new owners can be found.  The fact that this sum, which would be considered paltry to every Premier League and the majority of Championship clubs, can potentially send a club to extinction, is symptomatic of the greed exhibited by those at the top of the football pyramid.

My own club, Middlesbrough, earned almost £200 million (~ £105 million prize money and £85 million parachute payments) as a result of one season in the sun of the Premier League. Why can’t Chairman Steve Gibson, who was on the Boro board in 1986, donate the 0.1% required to keep Hartlepool going?

Things are only going to get worse.  The top six of the Premier League are not content with trousering more cash than everyone else. No, they want an even bigger slice of the pie from foreign TV rights. This greed is to the detriment of the game.

Clubs like Hartlepool are the lifeblood of football. Tottenham, one of the aforementioned six that are attempting to steal ever more from the rest, owe the development of two of their biggest stars to football league clubs.

Dele Alli was brought through the system at Milton Keynes Dons, while Harry Kane cut his teeth with loan spells at the likes of Leyton Orient and Millwall.

Of the current England squad, Kyle Walker, Danny Rose, Jesse Lingard and John Stones, to name just a few, all benefitted from playing time in the Football League – playing time that otherwise not have received in the Premier League.

The great Brian Clough started his managerial career at Hartlepool. If we are ever to see an English manager emulate Cloughie and win the Champions League, it is likely that their formative years will be spent in the lower part of the football pyramid.

All that the big teams achieve with any extra cash is either unscrupulous owners taking millions out of the club and/or more money squandered on players and agents.

We aren’t getting a better standard of football or player. Virgil Van Dijk may be the most expensive defender in the world, but he is not a better defender than Mats Hummels, Leonardo Bonucci or Gerard Pique.

Top stars such as Lionel Messi, Neymar and Robert Lewandowski chose not to play in the Premier League. The likes of Gareth Bale, Luis Suarez and Philippe Coutinho head to Spain when they approach their peak.

At one time, Boro signed Paul Merson, an England international, when the club were relegated to the Championship. Last summer they spent £14 million on Britt Assombalonga, a player who has never featured in the top flight of English football.

The £70 million of so called ‘solidarity’ payments paid by the Premier League to the rest of English football show anything but solidarity. It is nothing more than a token gesture, a handing over of loose change.

Rather than rushing to stick their snouts in the trough, it time that the top clubs recognise the role of lower league clubs in developing both on and off the field talent by giving them a fairer proportion of the TV riches.

So I encourage you all to give to the Pools plight. However, I also say don’t buy that season ticket, don’t but that shirt, don’t buy that sky sports subscription. That is the only way the greed at the top of the game can be stopped.

Perhaps only then will the powers that be listen and we’ll finally see the end of fans rattling buckets to bail out once proud but now crippled clubs. There is enough money in the game for everyone. There is enough money in the game to give £200k to Hartlepool United.

If you wish to donate to Hartlepool United’s cause, you can do so using the following link: https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/savehartlepoolunitedfootballclub

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