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In 2015 Tottenham nearly replaced Mousa Dembele with James McCarthy

Spurs were not sure about Dembele back in 2015 and were targeting James McCarthy.

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As Tottenham Hotspur prepare to take on Juventus in the Champions League this evening they do so with one player in particular in fantastic form. Belgian international Mousa Dembele has been thriving in the middle of the park for Spurs this season.

In the first leg, at Juventus, he ran the midfield and left pundits across Europe purring. Dembele, who is often referred to as Tottenham’s best player by his team-mates, is finally being recognised across the board as a world-class midfielder.

But back in the summer of 2015, things were very different. It seemed at the time that Tottenham were willing to sell Dembele, with Everton midfielder James McCarthy lined up as his replacement.

LONDON, ENGLAND – FEBRUARY 25: Mousa Dembele of Tottenham Hotspur (R) breaks away from James McArthur of Crystal Palace during the Premier League match between Crystal Palace and Tottenham Hotspur at Selhurst Park on February 25, 2018 in London, England. (Photo by Steve Bardens/Getty Images)

It was reported by the Telegraph that Chelsea were keen on Dembele that summer, with a fee of £12 million mooted. That was considered a shock move. In fact, it seemed more likely Sunderland or West Ham could be his next move, as reported by the Daily Star.

At the same time, Everton midfielder McCarthy had just had an excellent campaign at Goodison Park. He soon found himself linked with a £20 million switch to Spurs, who were known admirers of the Irishman, as reported by the Telegraph.

Now such talk seems ludicrous. Dembele has been one of the best performing midfielders in the Premier League, and Champions League, this season. The Belgian has cemented his place in the Tottenham side. Aside from Harry Kane and Hugo Lloris, Dembele is probably the first name on the Spurs teamsheet.

McCarthy’s career on the other hand has stalled since. He is currently out of action with a horrific leg break, just after finally coming back into the Everton team after being frozen out by Ronald Koeman. His lack of action under Koeman was not helped by more niggling injury trouble.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND – DECEMBER 13: Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain of Arsenal goes past James McCarthy of Everton during the Premier League match between Everton and Arsenal at Goodison Park on December 13, 2016 in Liverpool, England. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)

Yet, in the summer of 2015, this seemed likely. Spurs were not yet sold on Dembele. He had struggled with injury trouble himself. In trying to fill the void left by a cult hero in Luka Modric, Dembele was always going to struggle. McCarthy on the other hand was the swashbuckling Everton star, who seemed to be man-of-the-match every time he played.

Three years later, and the idea Tottenham would sell Dembele for £12 million seems laughable.

Replace him with McCarthy?

Right now not many Spurs fans would replace their Belgian maestro with the man he replaced, Modric.

Hopefully Dembele can dominate Juventus’ midfield again this evening and continue to highlight his progression from three years ago.

West Ham United

What’s next for Jordan Hugill after becoming a West Ham outcast?

The former Preston striker has had a difficult time since his January move.

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Photo: Getty Images

When Jordan Hugill signed for West Ham United on January 31, many in east London had high hopes for the former Preston North End striker.

However, nearly three months later, the 25-year-old striker has played a grand total of 22 minutes for the Hammers and registered no goals.

The West Ham outcast must now look for a move back to the Championship to end his Premier League exile.

Hugill earned his big move to the top flight after an impressive first half of the 2017/18 season that saw him score ten times for the Lilywhites. The forward was coming off a productive 2016/17 season when he bagged 12 goals and was Preston’s top scorer.

(Photo by Steve Bardens/Getty Images)

But his time at the London Stadium has been a deeply disappointing one. Hugill has played on a paltry three occasions for the Hammers: ten minutes against Brighton, two minutes against Watford, and ten minutes against Southampton.

The English striker was always going to find things difficult making the step up to the Premier League, but few expected him to struggle this much. It is telling that even when main striker Andy Carroll was out injured, Hugill was not granted a larger role in the first team.

With the season winding down, the ex-Preston man must be desperately searching for an escape from his West Ham nightmare.

(Photo by Dan Istitene/Getty Images)

Starved of playing time and vital confidence, Hugill would do well to seek a return to the Championship. With his physical style of play and target man attributes, the forward would slot in seamlessly in many a Championship squad.

One team that has been linked with the West Ham man is Tony Pulis’ Middlesbrough; a club that would be a perfect setting for Hugill. Pulis cherishes hefty strikers that can bully defenders and lead the line like Hugill can, and would certainly grant him significant time on the pitch.

After his failed Premier League step-up, Jordan Hugill would do well to save his career and make the switch to the Riverside to link up with Tony Pulis.

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English Premier League

If Everton are serious about top four challenge they must battle rivals for Clement Lenglet

The Frenchman has been sublime for Sevilla this season and Everton need a new central defender.

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After a summer of investment Everton‘s aim for this season was to challenge for the top four. It was a bold and ambitious plan which failed miserably.

They spent much of the first half of the campaign in the relegation reckoning, sacked their manager and have now limped their way to the top-half playing a dreadful brand of football under the guidance of Sam Allardyce.

It is fair to say, Everton fans are not happy.

Next season, the challenge again will be to try and compete with the Premier League’s elite.

But if Everton are going to do that, they need to improve one area of their team drastically – the defence.

Ashley Williams has been woeful this season and Everton fans would happily see the back of him.

Phil Jagielka does his best, but age is starting to get the better of him. Michael Keane took a while to settle following his move from Burnley.

Meanwhile, Ramiro Funes Mori has been injured most of the campaign and Mason Holgate has had an inconsistent season.

(Photo by Nathan Stirk/Getty Images)

A new centre-back is a must and, if Everton are serious about challenging for Europe, it needs to be a top defender.

Plenty are about at the moment, but the one which springs to mind for Everton is Sevilla star Clement Llenglet.

He caught the eye of English football fans after shackling Romelu Lukaku at Old Trafford in the Champions League.

The Frenchman has been in fine form for the club this season and now Lenglet is being linked with a host of clubs.

One such team is Liverpool, and with good reason. Lenglet has a release clause in his contract at Sevilla which stands at just €30 million (£26.25 million) – according to Marca.

(Photo by Aitor Alcalde/Getty Images)

Considering the price paid for the likes of Virgil Van Dijk, Aymeric Alporte and John Stones after the past year that fee is an absolute bargain.

Everton owner Farhad Moshiri is expected to dig deep into his pockets again this summer as Everton look to mount a renewed campaign next season.

Beating the likes of Liverpool to Lenglet’s signature would be the biggest signal of intent yet that Everton are ready to push into the Premier League elite.

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English Premier League

Tottenham Hotspur should give Reo Griffiths first-team chance after 9-0 heroics

The teenager scored four and assisted three as Tottenham Hotspur’s under-18s routed Arsenal.

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Tottenham Hotspur have plenty of young talent coming through at the moment and never has that been made more evident than in the under-18s result this afternoon. Tottenham dealt their North London rivals Arsenal a serious thrashing, winning 9-0.

It was a massive win for Spurs’ talented youngsters, albeit against a much changed and much younger Arsenal side.

But any North London derby win of this magnitude was going to have Spurs fans excited and rightly so. One player, in particular, was the talk of social media for Tottenham fans after the game. Reo Griffiths put in a fantastic performance for Spurs. He netted four goals and also grabbed three assists. That means the youngster only failed to play a direct hand in two of Tottenham’s nine goals.

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The 17-year-old forward has long been tipped as a future star for the Tottenham first-team and his four-goal salvo this afternoon took his tally for the season to 23 goals in 18 games in the under-18 Premier League.

His excellent form has not gone unnoticed and fans on Twitter were ecstatic with his display. In fact, some are even calling on Tottenham to give him a place in the first-team for the end of the season:

So should they?

It is hard to see why not. Harry Kane is, of course, the undisputed starter for Spurs – even when clearly not at full fitness. But second choice Fernando Llorente is widely expected to leave the club this summer after failing to find his feet in North London. Whilst Kazaiah Sterling is a strong option as another youngster, Tottenham fans would like to see Mauricio Pochettino give the 17-year-old a chance instead.

Griffiths is clearly a top talent of whom Tottenham will have high hopes. With just four games of the season left and Spurs looking strong in a top-four spot, it would be no skin off Pochettino’s back to see what the young lad can do.

Griffiths certainly looked like the real deal this afternoon and Tottenham should definitely consider giving him a chance in the first-team before the end of the season.

He can do no worse than Llorente and it could be the dawn of a fantastic career in North London for the teenager.

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