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City should think twice before offloading Stevan Jovetic

The Boot Room

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In an eventful few weeks which has seen Manchester City make Raheem Sterling the most expensive English footballer of all time and persuade Fabian Delph into the most incredible of u-turns, reports suggest a big name will soon be seen slipping out of the club’s back door in the Italy-bound Stevan Jovetic. The Montenegro international first joined City back in 2013 for a fee of £22 million but has been unable to justify his reputation – making just 39 appearances in all competitions in two seasons. Jovetic’s imminent departure to Inter Milan will likely be quiet and go relatively undiscussed as the cameras continue to follow big-money moves elsewhere, but in offloading the highly-rated forward City are potentially making a huge error of judgement.

Jovetic, along with Dzeko, has been one of only two players to not feature for the club in their pre-season tour, and is said to be very close to returning to Serie A in the coming days for a fee in the region of £10 million. Prior to joining Pellegrini’s City, the ex-Fiorentina man was one of the most lauded and sought-after talents in world football, with a queue of elite clubs interested in his signature. Yet despite the hype and expectation, the versatile forward has struggled to become a permanent fixture in Pellegrini’s plans due to numerous injuries and the wonderful form of Sergio Aguero and David Silva. Football can be a cruel game and for clubs with the aspirations of City cruelty is probably a necessary evil when things aren’t quite working out – but doesn’t a man with the ability and potential of Jovetic deserve more time?

Last season, the injury-ridden forward managed just nine Premier League starts, yet still contributed in relative terms a very respectable five goals and three assists. Stats aside, one need only take one look at Jovetic’s game to realise what an asset he can be to any manager. The ex-Fiorentina man can play in a wide position, as a lone striker or in a supporting role, and is capable of operating more than competently anywhere across a front three. In this sense, he is nowhere near as constrained in a positional sense as the one-dimensional Jesus Navas or as limited as Edin Dzeko. For all of their attacking talent, City under both Mancini and Pellegrini have been accused of lacking a plan B when plan A fails to break the more stubborn teams down – what better plan B is currently on the club’s books than the multi-faceted Steven Jovetic? Inter Milan’s gain is undeniably City’s loss.

Furthermore, with Negredo gone and Jovetic packing his bags, does Pellegrini really have the firepower to compete in the Premier League? Never mind in all four competitions. As more talent is shown the exit door more pressure is piled on the shoulders of Aguero to carry the team forward. The Argentinian certainly has the ability to do so – but not the injury record. Indeed, Manchester City’s financial might has meant that the club’s revolving doors are forever in motion, with Jovetic looking next to join a list of players including Negredo and De Jong who were sold too soon to make way for incoming talent. Money is fruitful when used wisely, but so its patience when exercised enough. Talents like Jovetic must be treated delicately and given time to blossom rather than disposed after one use.

Pellegrini is rumoured to be strongly interested in bringing Wolfsburg star Kevin De Bruyne to the club and the money made from Jovetic would likely be put towards any deal for the Belgian. Importantly, however, do not let the irony elude you. Just like Jovetic, De Bruyne came to England riding high on impressive performances and a tremendous reputation, yet was shown the door in no time at all after failing to make an instant impact. Now the ex-Chelsea man is one of the sought-after names on the planet and could well be on the brink of another big summer move. If Jovetic is able to pick up where he left off in Italy, he will undoubtedly have the world’s gaze cast on his brilliance and the bigger clubs vying for his services once more. At 25, the Montenegrin has a long career ahead of him with all the talent to be a huge success for any employer. Manchester City may live to regret terminating the contract of their employee so soon.

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Chelsea

Willian could hold key to Tottenham landing Anthony Martial

If Manchester United land the Brazilian it would undoubtedly improve Tottenham’s chances.

Jamie Watts

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Manchester United are reportedly preparing a £60 million bid to bring Chelsea winger Willian to Old Trafford this summer, according to reports from the Daily Mail, with manager Jose Mourinho having been linked with an approach for his former star for some time.

Chelsea were unwilling to sell at that time, but it is possible that Willian could be interested in a new challenge after apparently growing frustrated with life at Stamford Bridge, according to recent reports from Sky Sports. He managed a combined 25 goals and assists in 55 appearances in 2017/18, but only 20 of his 37 Premier League outings actually came as a starter.

Photo: Getty Images

Tottenham meanwhile, have become frustrated at United’s assertion that Anthony Martial will not be sold this summer (Sky Sports), after Mauricio Pochettino made the Frenchman his priority target last month (the Sun), as he looks to bolster the supply line to Harry Kane next term.

However, Martial’s revelation that he wants to leave the club could be vital for Spurs, as Mourinho has previously stated that he would never stop a player from moving if they really want the move and the money is right. And he’s backed up his words, selling two-time Chelsea Player of the Year Juan Mata to his current club in 2014.

Photo: Getty Images

The Red Devils are currently stacked in terms of depth for the left wing, with Marcus Rashford struggling to start games over January signing Alexis Sanchez, but wide-right is somewhat scarce and Willian would undoubtedly improve United’s balance for the better.

Although the manager would prefer the Frenchman went abroad, if he asked for the move to north London, Willian’s transfer to United would undoubtedly improve Pochettino’s chances of securing his key man. United will also be buoyed by their recent business with the west Londoners, having surprisingly secured the signing of Nemanja Matic from Stamford Bridge last summer.

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Everton

Gylfi Sigurdsson shows why Everton splashed £45m on his services

Everton fans will hope they see Sigurdsson in fine form next season.

Mathew Nash

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Iceland pulled off another shock at a major tournament, as they managed to hold out for a draw against Argentina. Alfred Finnbogason scored the equaliser after Sergio Aguero had given the Albiceleste the lead. Lionel Messi then saw a penalty saved as Iceland fully deserved a share of the spoils.

One man who was in sensational form throughout the game was Everton midfielder Gylfi Sigurdsson. Only recently returned from a knee injury he was the beacon of quality that Iceland needed. When they needed a player to keep possession he was there and he was a constant thorn in the side of Argentina’s defensive generals.

It was a performance that will remind Everton fans just why they spent £45 million to bring him from Swansea City last summer. It also highlighted that, used correctly. The ‘Iceman’ could be Everton’s talisman.

(Photo by Lynne Cameron/Getty Images)

When Sigurdsson arrived last season he did so at the same time as two identical players. Davy Klaassen and Wayne Rooney also joined Everton last summer leaving them overbooked in that area of the field.

With Everton failing to bring in sufficient wide options, Sigurdsson also found himself playing wide left for much of his time at Goodison Park.

What is clear from the Iceland game is that Sigurdsson is best in the number 10 role, playing off of the front-man and hopefully next season that is where Everton will see him. With Cenk Tosun ahead of him, pace out wide and reliable generals behind him in midfield the Icelander will be free to roam and play his best football.

If Everton do that, then they will see more and more of the real Sigurdsson next season.

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Manchester United

Chicharito shows he’s capable of replacing Marko Arnautovic at West Ham in brilliant Mexico performance

The striker was unrecognisable from last season at West Ham.

Jamie Watts

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West Ham United striker Marko Arnautovic is still heavily linked with a move to Manchester United, although the club have attempted to deter interest by slapping a whopping £60 million price tag on the Austrian, according to the Daily Star.

Although the price is considerable, it’s conceivable United could match the fee, or something close and Manuel Pellegrini may have to begin lining up replacements, in case a switch to Old Trafford materialises. But the Chilean coach may very well have his man already on yesterday’s evidence, ironically, in the form of former United fan favourite, Chicharito.

Photo: Getty Images

Chicharito made a name for himself throughout his career for his impressive ability to improvise a finish in the penalty area, and his movement, which has led to countless poacher goals. However, his performance for Mexico yesterday could indicate a change of responsibilities for the striker in the future. And West Ham will be thrilled.

Against Germany, he did everything but put the ball away. Non-initiated viewers may have been shocked to find out that the striker went into the match one goal off a career tally of 50 for his country, as he plied for the 90 minutes as a forward linch-pin, connecting play in the final third for almost every counter-attack. His general touch, awareness of approaching defenders, vision to see runners and execution of passes were all sensational on the night.

Photo: Getty Images

It could be argued that his national pride conjured this new style. but now there can be no doubting he has the ability to play the Arnautovic-type role, and in emphatic fashion. And if Pellegrini can tap-into this style, he could already have the Austrian’s ready made replacement at the London Stadium.

Last term the 30-year-old struggled to break into the team on a regular basis under David Moyes, making 33 appearances in all competitions, bagging eight goals and an assist, but his contribution next year could be far more valuable.

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