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Could West Brom cause some shocks this season?

The Boot Room

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With Tony Pulis in your dugout, you’re guaranteed Premier League survival.

The Welshman has never been relegated during his twenty year career as a manager, an astonishing achievement. So West Bromwich Albion fans shouldn’t worry about their upcoming campaign, maybe they should be expecting more.

The Baggies have been busy in the transfer market so far this summer, bringing in the likes of James McClean, James Chester and Rickie Lambert to add to what is an already solid squad. Lambert’s move from Liverpool to the Hawthorns could turn out to be one of the signings of the season.

For just £3 million, Pulis has bagged himself a proven Premier League goalscorer. He might be 33 years of age, and last season at Liverpool didn’t really work of for him, but Lambert is still a striker of real quality.

It was always going to be a struggle for the former Southampton forward at Anfield. Brendan Rodgers plays a style of football which just does not suit Lambert. Whereas this season, Pulis should be able to get the England man back to the form he was showing at St Marys.

Rickie Lambert in action against West Brom for his former side Liverpool.

Having a big target man such as Lambert at his disposal is just what West Brom need. It will be fascinating to see how he and Saido Berahino work as a partnership this season. The England under 21 star should be able to work off Lambert, and use his pace to run onto flick ons and in behind defences.

The front two will also be able to thrive off service from West Brom’s creative midfielders. With McClean and Callum McManaman on the wings, the Baggies have pace and skill in abundance. Add Stephane Sessegnon into the mix, who can play out wide but is more threatening in his preferred number ten role, and West Brom have serious promise going forward.

Pulis did miss out on Abou Diaby, who decided to join French side Marseille after turning down a contract at the Hawthorns. But this shouldn’t be too much of a setback. Diaby is a massive liability due to his well-documented injury problems, and West Brom have plenty of decent options in central midfield. Skipper Darren Fletcher can be partnered with either Craig Gardner, Claudio Yacob or James Morrison; all established and capable Premier League midfielders.

There’s been a lot of talk over the years about Pulis’ style of football and he’s received critics for being too direct and negative. But you can’t fault the results. Pulis has proven at Stoke City and Crystal Palace that there is still a place for a more conventional style of football even in the modern game.

But with this West Brom side there is a lot of potential a 14th place finish in the Premier League last season was solid. Pulis came in midway through the campaign to replace Pepe Mel, and at that time relegation was a serious possibility.

West Brom have for a long time been classed as a ‘yo-yo team’, not able to consolidate in the Premier League. But now, the Baggies can push on and build on the solid foundations Pulis has set.

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West Ham United

Signing Yaya Toure is not enough to gain support for West Ham board

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Photo: Getty Images.

West Ham United are believed to be close to appointing former Premier League winning coach Manuel Pellegrini as their new manager, and reports indicate that it could lead to a coup signing in his former player Yaya Toure.

The Telegraph make the claims as they say that previous talks between the Hammers and the free agent broke down, but the appointment of the Chilean would smooth matters and may make a deal more feasible.

In truth, the signing may not actually impress West Ham fans all that much. They have grown used to the signing of players who were dominating the game five years ago and are now past their best. The signings of Joe Hart, Pablo Zabaleta and Patrice Evra over the past year have shown as much with mixed results.

(Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)

The board are desperately seeking a way to get fans back onside as discontent grows and fans accuse them of not spending sufficiently to back their team and the signing of such a high profile player of immense quality may satisfy those wishes.

That may be the plan, but Yaya Toure made only two Premier League starts in 2017/18 and such a record bares terrifying resemblances to the likes of Andy Carroll, commanding a high wage whilst spending more time in the stands watching on than actually making an impact.

Toure could provide a spark and excitement, there’s no denying that he would be an invigorating addition, but he is not the long-term solution that the club require as fans cry out for players with potential and already at their best. His signing would be a mere distraction.

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Liverpool

Liverpool target Besiktas’ Anderson Talisca would add superb attacking depth

The Brazilian has recorded 28 goal contributions in Turkey this season.

Max Cohen

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Anderson Talisca
Photo: Getty Images

After Besiktas’ 5-1 home win over Sivasspor on Saturday, manager Senol Gunes strongly hinted that star attacker Anderson Talisca would be joining Liverpool this summer.

The possible signing of the Brazilian midfielder would be a superb acquisition for Liverpool, adding depth and quality to the club’s star-studded attack.

According to FourFourTwo, the Besiktas manager confirmed Talisca would be leaving the Turkish club for the Premier League after two years on loan from Benfica.

And Gunes dropped a massive hint that put Liverpool as the possible frontrunners in attaining his signature ahead of Manchester United.

“He might be rivals with Cenk Tosun,” Gunes replied when asked about Talisca’s English destination.

Of course, former Besiktas striker Cenk Tosun plays for Everton– leading many to jump to the conclusion that Talisca is headed to Anfield instead of Old Trafford.

(Photo by Ozan Kose/Getty Images)

The signing would represent a strong statement of intent from the Reds, as Talisca has enjoyed a stunning two seasons at Besiktas and is a burgeoning attacking talent.

In 47 appearances this season, the 24-year-old was involved in an impressive 28 goals, scoring 20 and assisting eight.

And the Brazilian’s past form shows this fantastic season is not a one-off. In 2016/17, Talisca bagged 17 goals and six assists, despite only featuring 33 times in all competitions.

While some might argue that the Turkish Super Lig has a poorer defensive standard than the Premier League, Talisca has proven his worth in European competition as well. In his time at Besiktas, he has notched five Champions League goals, as well as two goals and four assists in the Europa League.

The Brazilian youth international would add impressive offensive depth for Liverpool, as the Reds look to seriously challenge for the Premier League next season.

The purchase of the prolific attacking midfielder would be an ideal first step in assembling a squad that could bring Anfield its first league trophy in over two decades.

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Tottenham Hotspur

Tottenham have already identified Eric Dier’s £25 million replacement in Wilmar Barrios

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Photo: Getty Images.

Losing first team regulars may not be a complete surprise to Tottenham and Mauricio Pochettino, and that may why be reports are indicating that the coach has already lined up an alternative to Eric Dier and Victor Wanyama should either move on this summer.

The Sun say that there is still interest in Dier, who will be at the World Cup with England, whilst Wanyama’s struggles with injury may mean that Pochettino looks elsewhere for the role of midfield enforcer.

They believe the target to be Boca Juniors’ 24-year-old holding midfielder Wilmar Barrios, a Colombian international who plays alongside Spurs’ Davinson Sanchez at international level.

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The youngster has become a key man in the Boca Juniors side but, perhaps unusually, has not caught the attention of many in Europe. Barrios has, though, developed a reputation as one of the best players in South America, particularly in his position, as he has become a linchpin protecting his back four.

That is protected in his very impressive stats, which show that he makes on average three tackles per game and 2.8 interceptions per match, compared to the 1.8 tackles and 1.3 interceptions for Dier playing in a very similar role.

Barrios’ intelligent reading of the game has drawn comparisons to Real Madrid midfielder Casemiro, with both men guilt of diving into tackles on occasion despite all of their many strengths.

He may be raw, with no experience of playing in Europe, but at £25 million he could prove to be a bargain and Mauricio Pochettino’s return home to go on a shopping spree could provide a long-term solution to the holding midfield role which seems as uncertain as ever after the 2017/18 season.

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