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Leeds United youngsters on steep learning curve in Spain

The Leeds youngsters have been taking part in the Real Sociedad Torneo Internacional.

Mathew Coull

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It has been a fairly miserable few months for Leeds United fans. The first-team’s promotion push faded away rapidly and they now look set for a mid-table finish. But whilst the seniors have disappointed there is always hope given to the Leeds faithful from their youth-teams.

Several young players such as Kun Temenuzhkov, Ryan Edmondson and Jack Clarke are currently getting Leeds fans excited for the future and those three are just outstanding examples.

LA CORUNA, SPAIN – NOVEMBER 22: A Real Sociedad de Futbol fan holding a Club’s flag smiles as he waits for his team’s arrival before the La Liga match between RC Deportivo La Coruna and Real Sociedad de Futbol at Riazor Stadium outdoors on November 22, 2014 in La Coruna, Spain. (Photo by Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images)

Leeds have revamped their youth teams under the new chairman Andrea Radrizzani and director of football Victor Orta. Plenty of young recruits have been brought into the club, both from home and abroad. They have also been participating in some interesting tournaments, such as the tri-series in Qatar with the Aspire Academy.

This week they sent the club’s under-13s and under-17’s to Spain for a tournament that will have been a brilliant learning experience.

Leeds under-17s took part in the Torneo Internacional Real Sociedad. They faced the likes of Sporting Lisbon, Celta Vigo, Osasuna, Valencia and host club Real Sociedad. The hosts won the competition, beating Valencia in the final. Leeds came fifth overall.

A supporter of Sporting waves his club’s flag at half-time during the UEFA Champions League football match Sporting CP vs NK Maribor at the Jose Alvalade stadium in Lisbon on November 25, 2014. AFP PHOTO / PATRICIA DE MELO MOREIRA (Photo credit should read PATRICIA DE MELO MOREIRA/AFP/Getty Images)

The under-13s faced the same teams apart from Valencia, who were replaced by the juniors from Real Madrid. Los Blancos’ youngsters won the competition with Leeds coming last.

But despite the mixed results playing against youngsters from some of the best academies in Spain and the sensational system at Sporting would have been an incredible learning curve for the Leeds youngsters.

A lot of what is going on at Leeds right now is not pleasing fans of the club. But in regards to the youth system, Radrizzani and Orta clearly have a vision which is being implemented with success.

The recent participation in such a prestigious tournament is just another sign of that success.

Crystal Palace

Tottenham’s Fernando Llorente would be the perfect addition for Crystal Palace

The Spaniard still has plenty to offer in the Premier League.

Josh Kerr

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Fernando Llorente
Photo: Getty Images

Tottenham Hotspur striker Fernando Llorente is among five players expected to leave the Lilywhites this summer as manager Mauricio Pochettino prepares for a summer clear out.

According to The Mirror, Pochettino is ready to listen to offers for the likes of Toby Alderweireld, Moussa Dembele, Danny Rose and Moussa Sissoko.

The 33-year-old has undoubtedly struggled in his time since joining Spurs from Swansea City in 2017. The former Spain international has scored just one Premier League goal and five in 31 appearances, in all competitions, following the move.

Elsewhere in London, the incredible resurgence of Crystal Palace has been orchestrated by the outstanding Roy Hodgson, who has earned plaudits from all corners as his Eagles side finished the season sitting pretty in 11th in the Premier League table.

The former England manager was able to guide the London outfit to safety, despite the team sitting bottom of the league without a win and even a goal after seven games. Avoiding the drop was also achieved without the support of misfiring striker Christian Benteke.

(Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)

The Belgian’s miserable form could leave Hodgson searching for further attacking options in the summer and Llorente would prove the perfect addition at Selhurst Park.

The Spaniard was monumental in his first season in England for Welsh outfit Swansea, firing 15 league goals during his short spell in South Wales.

It could be a real coup for Palace if they play to Llorente’s strengths, and he could be the signing that gets the best out of Benteke, knowing there’s a direct replacement for him if he isn’t meeting the required standards.

The former Sevilla striker was limited to few opportunities under Pochettino, starting just one league game for Spurs. His next move must prioritise finding a manager who believes in his ability and suits the striker’s style of play.

Llorente’s prowess in the air is difficult to match and with Wilfred Zaha and Andros Townsend supplying the Spanish forward he could be a real goal threat next season.

At the age of 33, Palace would not have to break the bank to add an established attacking option. For a potential small fee, Hodgson should undoubtedly swoop.

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Eight appearances, zero goals: What’s next for failed Tottenham loanee Georges-Kevin N’Koudou?

The 23-year-old has struggled since his move to the Premier League.

Max Cohen

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Georges-Kevin N’Koudou
Photo: Getty Images

When Tottenham Hotspur winger Georges-Kevin N’Koudou signed for Burnley on loan in January, there were high hopes that the 23-year-old attacker could finally prove his worth in English football.

However, N’Koudou has tremendously struggled for both playing time and form during his brief time at Turf Moor, and it appears there is no future at White Hart Lane for the Frenchman.

The winger has made just eight appearances for the Clarets and has registered a grand total of zero goals and zero assists.

Frustratingly, Sean Dyche has selected Georges-Kevin N’Koudou in the starting eleven only twice during his loan spell.

The disappointing reality that most of his appearances have come as a substitute is a major factor behind the winger’s ineffectiveness, as it is exceedingly difficult to make an impact on loan when starts are hard to come by.

(Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)

Things were beginning to look up for N’Koudou in late March and early April when he made consecutive starts against West Bromwich Albion and Watford.

Both matches ended in victory for Burnley, and the winger caught the eye with lively performances full of direct running and pace.

However, when Johann Berg Gudmundsson returned from injury, N’Koudou found himself dropped out of the matchday squad entirely for three matches straight, encapsulating his inconsistent season.

Although the Spurs loanee has returned to make two substitute appearances in Burnley’s recent matches against Brighton and Arsenal, his months at Turf Moor have overall been a frustrating failure.

Signed by Mauricio Pochettino in August 2016 amid much fanfare for £9.4 million pounds, the winger penned a five-year deal in anticipation of a fruitful Tottenham career.

Just under two years later, the challenge of adapting to England seems to have proved too fearsome for the young N’Koudou.

With no future at White Hart Lane next season, a transfer back to his native France might provide the best move for the promising yet ineffective Georges-Kevin N’Koudou.

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West Ham’s decade-long lack of goal scorers summed up by startling figure

Max Cohen

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Photo: Getty Images

During West Ham United’s scoreless draw with Manchester United on Thursday, commentator Peter Drury made an acute observation that revealed the Hammers’ dreadful decade-long goalscoring record.

According to Drury, the last time a West Ham striker scored more than ten goals in a Premier League season was back in the 2006/07 campaign.

That year it was twice-capped England international Bobby Zamora who achieved the feat, bagging 11 goals as the east London club finished 15th.

Yet in West Ham’s ten top-flight seasons that have followed, no Hammers striker has hit the vaunted 11-goal mark, a striking statistic that is a damning indictment of the club’s poor recruitment.

A Guardian investigation conducted in January 2017 found that West Ham had signed an incredible 32 strikers in the seven seasons since David Gold and David Sullivan bought the club.

This list includes massive flops such as Benni McCarthy, Mido, Marouane Chamakh, Mladen Petric, Simone Zaza, and Jonathan Calleri. Shockingly, all of these strikers scored a combined one goal for West Ham.

This season, Marko Arnautovic is on the brink of finally breaking the decade-long duck. The Serbian sits on ten league goals to date, and will have one final opportunity to end the drought against Everton on Sunday.

The fact that it has taken this long to come close to bringing an end to the embarrassing spell is simply unacceptable for a club of West Ham’s stature. The lack of goalscoring strikers is a massive worry for the Hammers that has held them back during their disappointing 2017/18 campaign.

West Ham have scored just 45 goals in 37 matches, an abysmal goal-to-match ratio that has resulted in a poor goal difference of negative 22.

If Arnautovic is to hit 11 league goals for the Hammers this season, then West Ham can finally put a decade of striking embarrassment behind them.

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