A new season dawns for Everton, who have landed a number of exciting signings this summer under the guidance of new boss Marco Silva.
Silva raided former employees Everton for the services of Richarlison, who arrived on a club-record deal, and then snatched three signings from Barcelona in the form of Lucas Digne, Yerry Mina and Andre Gomes – with the latter pair arriving on a busy Deadline Day.
That has led to raised optimism at Goodison Park and lessons can be learnt from pre-season, where we have identified one winner and one loser from Everton’s games.
After hitting the ground running in the Premier League last season, Richarlison endured a major dip in form at the turn of the year new and that led sum to be concerned when Everton splashed a club-record fee to land the Brazilian.
However, the early signs are promising as the 21-year-old regularly stood-out as the Toffees’ best player during the pre-season campaign and looks set to be one of the star’s of the show for Marco Silva’s side at Goodison Park.
Consistency is lacking from his game but that should improve as he matures, with Silva the perfect man to craft him into a world beater.
“They (Watford) got the price they wanted and I thank God I’m at Everton. I am aiming high. I want to achieve a lot here, make history here and make a name for myself at Everton. I am a calm person and I know my responsibilities. I will show it on the field.”
Loser: Phil Jagielka
The area where fans were most concerned about heading into 2018-19 was in defence and those worries rose further in pre-season, where the 35-year-old veteran showed a real lack of place and led to Silva dipping into the market.
Jagielka’s experience could prove to be an asset this season to help Michael Keane and Yerry Mina but first-team football is unlikely to be something he earns on a regular basis at Goodison Park, heading into what is likely to be his final season at the club.
He signed a one-year extension in June but is unlikely to be first-choice under Marco Silva.
West Ham must bring an end to lengthy Reece Oxford saga
The Hammers must bite the bullet and seel the teenage ace.
After months and months of speculation, it is remarkable that West Ham have reached mid-August with Reece Oxford still in their squad.
The 19-year-old has endured a rollercoaster few years in east London, catching the eye as a 16-year-old Premier League debutant in the opening week of the 2015-16 season with a thrilling performance in a 3-0 win over Arsenal but seeing opportunities severely limited since.
Three years later, Oxford has made just eight league appearances and has spent time on loan with Reading and Borussia Monchengladbach, the latter of whom were keen on a permanent deal for the highly-rated defender.
However, it appears that West Ham have missed their chance to cash in on a sale to Gladbach for a player Sky Sports states the Hammers are seeking £10m for, with the Bundesliga side appearing to have cooled their interest.
That leaves West Ham in a difficult position as it is clear Oxford has no future at the club in the eyes of Manuel Pellegrini, who has signed Fabian Balbuena and Issa Diop this summer to push the teenager further down the pecking order.
Contracted until 2021, there is little change of Oxford leaving in a bargain deal like fellow youngster Domingos Quina did recently, joining Watford, but the circumstances can be compared to a ticking time bomb as the defender will surely be furious if he is not given a chance to leave this summer.
“I was desperate to come back to Borussia. Things went well for me at the end of the Hinrunde, which is why I wanted to return and complete the loan until the end of the season.”
Fortunately, German outlet Kicker states Hannover have expressed an interest in signing Oxford and West Ham should waste no time in entering negotiations for a permanent sale, which would suit all parties involved.
It is a shame that a player with Oxford’s potential has fallen so much in recent years and it should serve as a warning to West Ham in their treatment towards other promising youngsters – namely Declan Rice, who is yet to sign a new deal at the club.
Liverpool round-up: Champions League blow; Mignolet departure nears; Fabinho discusses challenge
Liverpool are left waiting to see which seed they will be in the Champions League draw
Liverpool will be hoping that PAOK will beat Portuguese side Benfica in their Champions League qualifying play-off as victory for the Greek side will see the Reds through to Pot 2 in the Champions League draw ahead of the Iberian outfit.
The draw will take place in Monaco on August 30, with Liverpool currently the highest ranked team in Pot 3 but behind Benfica, the only remaining Pot 2 team in qualification. It comes after Swiss side FC Basel were shockingly knocked out, allowing Liverpool to take up the spot of first in line to join Pot 2.
Simon Mignolet’s agent has spoken about his future
Simon Mignolet has been strongly linked with a move away from Anfield as he has fallen even further down the pecking order following the arrival of Alisson Becker, and it now seems that he may be third choice on Merseyside. Napoli are the latest club to be linked with a move before the transfer window shuts in Italy on Friday.
“We are in discussions with Napoli, but there is no agreement yet. In the end it is in their interest to find a solution. Liverpool want to keep Simon, but he wants to play in matches – and he should. He deserves to play for a big club. Simon is the best option for Napoli in terms of quality, even though there is a financial aspect to it.”
With time running out, all parties will have to get to work if they are to come to an agreement to allow the Belgian to leave. Much could depend on the future of second choice shotstopper Loris Karius, who has also been linked with an exit.
Fabinho has discussed the challenge of adapting to the Premier League
Summer signing Fabinho was only on the bench for the Reds on Sunday as they overcame West Ham United with a 4-0 win and the Brazilian has discussed the challenge that he faces having joined from Monaco.
“I think my performances have been good. It’s a different playing style than at Monaco; there were two of us in midfield there and here at Liverpool there’s three… I knew [my role] would change and I feel I’ve adapted well. When I came to Liverpool I knew this competition would exist in midfield and I think it’s really good for the team.”
Some fans were not convinced by his pre-season form but it remains early days in his Anfield career with plenty of opportunities ahead to prove himself in a holding midfield role.
What next for Watford outcast Obbi Oulare?
The Belgian striker has struggled to fit in since his move to Watford.
Watford confirmed their Premier League squad numbers for the new season yesterday and for one young striker, it confirmed he has no future at the club. The player in question is 22-year-old Belgian striker Obbi Oulare.
Watford snapped up the 6ft 4 ins striker from Club Brugge in 2015 for a reported £6 million fee. He was being compared to fellow Belgian striker Christian Benteke, but swiftly became a forgotten man at Vicarage Road.
Loan spells at Zulte Waregem, Willem II, and Royal Antwerp had their ups and downs but Oulare clearly has no future at Watford.
In his three seasons as a Hornet, he has played just three times and failed to score.
It is a shame for a player with obvious talent to have fallen away so dramatically at Watford.
So what next for the player?
Whilst the transfer window in the Premier League may be shut, Oulare has plenty of time to find a permanent exit to somewhere else in Europe or indeed out on loan to the Football League.
Sport Witness reported earlier this month that former loan side Antwerp were keen on a permanent deal, so perhaps that is an option for the Watford outcast.
Wherever he does end up next, it will hopefully be a more fruitful experience than the one he has had with Watford.
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