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English Premier League

21-goal striker Moussa Marega would be good Everton signing, but not for £35m

The Malian international has been in good form for Porto this season.

Mathew Nash

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Everton have been linked with a move for Porto striker Moussa Marega this week. It was recently reported by The Mirror that Everton are keen on the player, along with West Ham United and Swansea City. The Mali international has a £35 million release clause in his deal at Porto. If Everton were to match that fee, then Porto would have no choice but to accept an offer.

But is he worth such an extravagant amount?

Everton have recently started spending much more in the transfer market. Big money was used to bring the likes of Jordan Pickford, Michael Keane and Gylfi Sigurdsson to the club in recent times – the latter breaking the club’s record transfer fee.

Porto’s Malian forward Moussa Marega celebrates after scoring a goal during the Portuguese league football match FC Porto vs Maritimo at the Dragao stadium in Porto, on December 18, 2017. Porto won the match 3-1. / AFP PHOTO / MIGUEL RIOPA (Photo credit should read MIGUEL RIOPA/AFP/Getty Images)

Porto are notoriously hard to negotiate with. Clubs often end up overpaying for players at the Portuguese side due to the tough stance they take on selling players.

£35 million is certainly a lot of money and Everton will be hoping they can convince the Portuguese side to consider a substantially smaller amount for the attacker.

Then again, in today’s market, it might be a fair price considering his stats.

Marega, who holds a French passport so would not be subject to a work permit, has been in fine scoring form.

Porto’s Malian forward Moussa Marega gestures during the Portuguese league football match CD Feirense vs FC Porto at the Marcolino de Castro stadium in Santa Maria da Feira on January 3, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / MIGUEL RIOPA (Photo credit should read MIGUEL RIOPA/AFP/Getty Images)

Last season, on loan at Vitoria Guimares from his parent club, the striker scored 14 goals in 31 games. This campaign, since returning to Porto, he has been even more prolific. Marega is currently on 21 goals from 36 games. With those sort of stats, Porto will be entitled to ask for the full £35 million.

Everton, however, should not pay it. Marega is still relatively unproven and goal-scoring success in Portugal does not always translate into English football. The fact Marega played six games in the Champions League this season and failed to score a goal is a stat which should put Everton off paying the full amount.

Would he be a good signing? He certainly shows signs of potential. But at £35 million? Everton would be better off spending their money elsewhere.

Sports journalist based in Bristol. Previously spent five years writing for HITC Sport. Everton fan for my sins.

Tottenham Hotspur

Harry Winks’ return to fitness is just what Tottenham need right now

Tottenham have been handed some much-needed good news.

Liam Thomas

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Harry Winks
Photo: Getty Images

Tottenham were handed some much-needed good news this week with midfielder Harry Winks returning to training after a lengthy spell on the sidelines.

Pochettino’s current options in midfield are extremely limited, due to injuries and the clubs’ lack of transfer activity during this summer’s window.

Therefore, Winks’ return couldn’t have come at a better time.

Although, it is unlikely that he will feature this weekend against Fulham, his return to full-time training suggests he will play a part in Spurs’ opening run of fixtures.

The return to action of Argentine Eric Lamela also brings some creativity and attacking flair to the Spurs midfield, which it seemed to be lacking in their opening day win at St. James’ Park against Newcastle.

However, the form Harry Winks displayed last season during his stint in Pochettino’s starting XI bodes well for the new campaign and, in a turbulent period for Tottenham and Pochettino, this news is refreshing, to say the least.

Winks’ return to the pitch is perhaps the best news Spurs fans have had in weeks, with the midfielder providing the ideal competition for Mousa Dembele, whose physical attributes are indeed on the decline.

The midfielder’s return will be a significant boost to the Spurs squad, and one that will lift some of the pressure off of Mauricio Pochettino‘s shoulders if the 22-year-old can come in and pick up where he left off last season.

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Fulham

One to watch: Ryan Sessegnon under the spotlight as Tottenham host Fulham

The teenager could be forced to play at left-back this weekend.

Max Cohen

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Sessegnon
Photo: Getty Images

Ryan Sessegnon’s Premier League debut did not go quite as planned.

The highly-rated 18-year-old, who took the Championship by storm the past two seasons was largely neutralised by Crystal Palace‘s Aaron Wan-Bissaka, and was denied space in the attacking areas where he is usually so dangerous.

It is still early days and it was by no means a poor performance, but revealed how the youngster must quickly adapt to the higher level of the top flight.

Sessegnon’s second ever Premier League match will come away at Tottenham Hotspur this Saturday and his performance at Wembley could go a long way in determining his success this season and later in his career.

Playing against the club he has so often been linked with will undoubtedly be difficult, providing a mental challenge that he is unlikely to have faced before.

However, perhaps the more challenging proposition will be in the footballing department. Fulham’s new left back Joe Bryan was forced off against Palace on the weekend with an injury, and is expected to be a doubt for Saturday’s fixture.

Without any true left back back-ups, Sessegnon will most likely be tasked with filling in at the left side of defence, instead of his preferred left wing position.

Against a fearsome attacking team such as Spurs, boasting the likes of Harry Kane, Christian Eriksen, and Dele Alli, the 18-year-old could endure a baptism of fire in his first ever top flight start as a defender.

Sessegnon’s performance will also be illuminating as it could provide a glimpse into his future as an attacking left back– not as an out-and-out left winger.

“He is an incredible player project, with a fantastic physical capacity. People compare him to Bale, for me it’s a mix between Marcelo and Bale. I’ve used him lately in a more offensive role, but he’s ready to be left-back of a big team that constantly attacks.”

Slavisa Jokanovic speaking to Marca this summer on Sessegnon’s future position

According to his manager, Sessegnon could develop into an attack-minded defender for a ‘big-team.’

On Saturday at Wembley, Spurs supporters could catch a first glimpse of the youngster in that role in the Premier League – a role they will be hoping he can perform for the club in north London one day.

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English Premier League

Mark Lawrenson believes West Ham could struggle this season

The Hammers will need to improve significantly on last week’s performance.

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Photo: Getty Images

West Ham‘s tenure under Manuel Pellegrini did not get off to the best of starts last weekend as the Hammers were dismantled by Liverpool at Anfield.

The Hammers host Bournemouth at the London Stadium this weekend, Pellegrini’s first home match in charge, and a much more positive result is expected despite the fact the Cherries won 2-0 against Cardiff City on the opening weekend.

Despite being carved apart by Jurgen Klopp’s side, the general consensus from pundits Paul Merson, Michael Owen and Mark Lawrenson is that West Ham will enjoy much better fortunes this weekend and will pick up points.

However, Lawrenson did not hold back in his predictions for the BBC and warned the Hammers they could be set for another tough season if they do not improve their game defensively after being ‘far too open’ against the Reds last time out.

“I was at Anfield on Sunday to see West Ham’s 4-0 defeat by Liverpool, and they were far too open. If they are going to keep leaving the back door open like that all season, they are going to be in trouble.”

– Lawrenson is the only of the three pundits predicting a draw.

While West Ham fans may not like to admit it after an exciting summer, Lawrenson does have a point as the Hammers business caught the eye in attacking recruits but defensively the business has felt rather sub-par.

Pellegrini is relying on Issa Diop and Fabian Balbuena to immediately adjust to the rigours of Premier League football, which is never an easy task, while there is a lack of depth in defensive midfield for the Hammers to choose from.

It seems that West Ham’s approach to this season will be to play attacking football and hope to be a high-scoring side that manages to edge their opponents but that could be a costly decision, particularly in matches where the Hammers are away from home.

A team that had the joint-worst defensive record in the Premier League last season, alongside relegated Stoke City, should certainly have placed more focus on restructuring that defensive line and it could come back to haunt Pellegrini in the coming months.

(Photo by Rob Newell – CameraSport via Getty Images)

Former Arsenal defender Paul Merson was also critical of West Ham’s defence last week, stating to Sky Sports they were ‘all over the place’, but supporters will be thrilled by the superb observational skills shown by Merson as he rightly said they will not face Liverpool every week. Cheers Paul.

There are more positive angles to West Ham though as last weekend was never really going to be a game where Pellegrini could show what his side are truly going to be about this season as Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool stripped the Hammers of any signs of displaying their attacking edge.

Michael Owen also made a very wise point in his predictions for BetVictor, correctly stating it would be extremely unwise to write the Hammers off after just one match – despite the performance being incredibly mediocre.

A home match against Bournemouth is the ideal opportunity for West Ham’s newly-assembled side to click into rhythm before a gruelling campaign that lies ahead, although the early signs suggest a return to European football could be too much to ask for in Pellegrini’s first year with the club.

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