It’s fair to say that Jack Cork’s move from Southampton to Swansea was one of the less high profile transfers of this seasons winter window.
The 25-year-old was reluctant to sign a new contract with The Saints after finding himself out of favour with new boss Ronald Koeman.
Acknowledging that his involvement with the first team could be limited at Southampton, Cork swapped St. Mary’s for South Wales and hasn’t looked back since.
Jack Cork is everything you’d expect to find in a modern Swansea midfielder. He is a tidy footballer who very rarely concedes possession; using the ball wisely and never overplaying a situation.
Cork, who made over 100 appearances for Southampton, has certainly found himself right at home in a Swansea midfield trio along side Jonjo Shelvey and Ki Sung-Yueng and seems to be instantly thriving after being given a new lease of life.
Swansea’s ideologies in recent times have been based around a possession dominated, free flowing passing approach and Cork seems to be embodying this trend perfectly.
Roberto Martinez initiated this style as he guided the club from League 1 to the Championship in 2008. Paulo Sousa then continued the trend before Brendan Rodgers famously guided The Swans to the Premier League in 2011.
Since Rodgers’ departure to Liverpool, Michael Laudrup and current manager Gary Monk have continued to build on the success of previous manager’s customs, tweaking and fine tuning the philosophies laid down for them by their predecessors.
One player who has been at the centre of Swansea’s recent rise through the divisions is long serving midfielder Leon Britton. Since Cork’s arrival, Britton has found himself sitting on the bench for the majority of games; a testament to how well Cork has begun his Swansea career.
When Monk signed Cork – for what is now looking to be a bargain £3million – he most likely would not have envisaged him as being a short term or long term successor to the Swansea legend.
However, with Britton’s career coming to an end and Cork’s appearing to be somewhere near it’s peak, it doesn’t seem unreasonable to predict that Cork could take over the reigns at the heart of Swansea City’s midfield for the remainder of this season and many seasons to come.
Cork’s work rate is another noticeable attribute. This was shown most prominently with an extremely efficient performance in his sides 2-1 home victory over Manchester United. He nullified Marouane Fellaini’s involvement in the game and gained great recognition from fans and pundits alike.
If there is one thing Swansea fans would point out in Britton’s game, it would probably be his lack of work rate. Keeping the ball is one thing, but working tirelessly off the ball is something that Cork can provide week in, week out and is something that supporters love to see.
Cork’s form never really fluctuates and he is persistently dependable; always looking to give his all. Britton on the other hand, will often have a few quiet games in-between a stand out performance.
The addition of Jack Cork has really bolstered Garry Monk’s choice of midfielders. Regular starters such as Gylfi Sigurdsson, Wayne Routledge and on-loan Tottenham youngster Tom Carroll will all be striving that extra inch to be named in the starting eleven, which can only be healthy competition for the squad.
Swansea City currently sit in 8th place in the Premier League. If Jack Cork continues to show the kind of form which has already made him one of the first names on the team sheet at The Liberty, the South Wales side will be well on their way to cementing a best ever Premier League finish.
With Cork seemingly improving with every game he plays for The Swans, it’s hard to see how he will loose his place in the side any time soon. Does he have what it takes to be the long term replacement for the ageing Leon Britton? It seems like a match made in heaven.
£43m for Toby Alderweireld would be great business for Tottenham Hotspur
It seems that the Belgian defender is definitely on his way out of Tottenham Hotspur.
It seems as though Toby Alderweireld is on his way out of Tottenham Hotspur.
It is being reported by Het Laatse Nieuws today that the Belgian’s contract talks with Spurs have been halted.
With the Belgian out of contract in the summer of 2019, Spurs will attempt to cash in on Alderweireld now.
A fee of £43 million has been mentioned for the player, who reportedly wanted a wage to match that of Virgil van Dijk at Liverpool.
Tottenham’s stance of not paying out big wages to their top players has often been criticised. But on this occasion, the Lilywhites are doing the right thing.
On his day and when fit, Alderweireld might be the best centre-back in the Premier League. However, it has been a long time since the Belgian had such a day.
Most of this season has seen Alderweireld on the treatment table. When he has played, it has always seemed a precursor to his next injury.
Given his age and contract situation, the injury record gives Alderweireld three strikes. At £43 million, Tottenham would be getting a fantastic deal for their defender.
The report from HLN claimed that Alderweireld wanted a wage in the region of €180,000-a-week (£160,000-a-week). Such a sum is vast for a player with his current issues.
The fact Spurs were reportedly willing to go as high as €120,000 (£105,000) per week shows that Daniel Levy tried to keep the Belgian, even doubling his current wage, but Alderweireld is on his way.
It will be a shame for Spurs but breaking the wage structure at the club for an injury prone defender would not have been a wise move.
Eventually, Tottenham might have to be more lenient with their wages, but that should be saved for the likes of Harry Kane, Dele Alli or Christian Eriksen.
Tottenham should take £43 million for Alderweireld and persevere with the likes of Jan Vertonghen, Eric Dier, Davinson Sanchez and Juan Foyth.
Alderweireld’s next club will hope they can keep the Belgian fit long enough to reap the rewards of his potential signature.
Ronald Koeman admits he wanted Memphis Depay at Everton
But would Everton have benefited from his arrival?
Ronald Koeman is about to kickstart his managerial career with the Dutch national team. It is his first role since getting sacked by Everton and his first foray into international management. Speaking about his new role he discussed the former Manchester United winger Memphis Depay.
Speaking to the press, as reported by Football Oranje, Koeman revealed that he had tried to convince Depay to join Everton whilst he was manager at Goodison Park:
“I invited him to my home last year, when I wanted to get him to Everton. That did not work, he went to Lyon.”
Depay was with Manchester United at the time, where he had struggled to live up to his potential. Instead of joining Everton he headed to Lyon in France in a deal reported by the Telegraph to be worth £16 million.
So have Everton missed out?
Depay’s struggles to settle in English football are well known. Since his move to France things have certainly improved. Depay has scored 18 goals since his move to France. However, considering he scored 28 goals in his final season at PSV prior to his United switch it is still not a massive amount.
In the time he has been in France those 18 goals have come from 61 games. His form has been good at Lyon but certainly not to the standard many expected of him when he made the move to Manchester United.
That said, £16 million today in today’s market is not a lot of money. Looking at Everton’s team, having Depay playing from the left side would have been a massive bonus for Koeman, and now for Sam Allardyce.
Depay still has plenty to improve upon and hopefully Koeman can get the best out of him during his time as the Netherlands boss.
As for Everton, they did not get their man and paid a lot more for the man he would be battling for first-team football Yannick Bolasie – who has not yet been a hit at Goodison Park.
So, all things considered, Everton probably should wish Koeman had managed to convince Depay into a Merseyside switch last January.
Victor Fernandez furthers Newcastle United first-team claims on Spain tour
The 19-year-old impressed as he featured against Belgian outfit Royal Antwerp.
Newcastle United recently travelled to Spain for a training camp as they attempted to deal with three weeks without a competitive fixture.
Rafa Benitez is an experienced manager and he will have realised the danger that such a gap could pose for his team, especially when it came to the fitness of the squad.
He arranged a training camp in his homeland, which culminated in a unique 135-minute match against Belgian side Royal Antwerp.
It consisted of three periods of 45-minutes, which allowed the manager to give playing time to the fringe players in his squad ahead of the run-in.
Although it gave the opportunity to experiment, only two youth players made the trip to Spain.
Nathan Harker was the back-up goalkeeper as both Rob Elliot and Karl Darlow were struggling with injuries.
The other, Victor Fernandez, caught the eye of Newcastle supporters watching.
Fernandez will be encouraged about further involvement with the first-team, as he was the only young outfield player to feature against Royal Antwerp.
That is a sign that Benitez considers the 19-year-old as one of the best prospects currently with the club.
The Spaniard joined the club just over a year ago from UE Cornella.
The signing went under the radar, but Benitez has an extensive scouting network and he obviously saw something in Fernandez.
Although he is predominantly a winger, he can play anywhere across the front-line is required.
Soon after joining the club, he spoke of not wanting to aim for too much too early when talking to the Newcastle United official club website:
“My purpose was not to make an impact really quickly, because I’m new and I have to get used to English football – it’s really different from Spain. I hope, little by little, I can keep doing good things here.”
Considering this was very quickly after his move to a new country, Fernandez’s words show maturity and show a glimpse into his character.
Benitez is a thorough manager who likes to know everything about the players that he brings to a football club.
There must have been something about the Spanish winger that made the Newcastle manager believe that he could adapt to English football.
There are no guarantees in football when it comes to young players fulfilling their potential.
However, the fact that Fernandez was taken on the mid-season tour to Spain suggests that he is on the right path.
He would have been offered guarantees about a route to the first-team squad and his involvement against Royal Antwerp will have been a reward for his progression since moving to St James’ Park.
He came on for the final 45-minutes and showed flashes of his ability.
There was some nice interplay with Dwight Gayle that resulted in the teenager having a shot on goal.
His trickery and direct style caused problems for his marker and he continued to excite those watching when the ball was his feet.
There is more developing for him to do before he is ready for the first-team in competitive action, but his performance against Antwerp was a positive one.
There is clearly talent there and he will be a player to follow over the coming seasons.
Newcastle are at the early stage of their development under Rafa Benitez and that will mean opportunities are there for young players.
Fernandez could have the ability to take his.
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