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Liverpool should consider tabling bid for France’s Benjamin Pavard

The rising Frenchman has been one his nation’s standout performers during the World Cup.

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Photo: Getty Images

France reached the quarter-final of the World Cup on Saturday evening with a 4-3 comeback win over Argentina and it was Les Bleus’ right-back Benjamin Pavard that once again caught the eye.

The 22-year-old netted a sensational equalising goal in his side’s stunning victory and his performances so far in the tournament suggest that interest will be high this summer.

(Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)

According to an article in the Stuttgarter Nachrichten, not even a bid of £44 million would tempt his current club Stuttgart into a sale this summer but his performances out in Russia won’t have helped their chances of keeping him around for next season.

Reported interest right now is from Manchester United, but their fierce rivals Liverpool would be extremely wise to try and tempt the Frenchman to Anfield ahead of the forthcoming Premier League campaign.

The beaten Champions League finalists have already bolstered their ranks this summer with the big money signings of Red Bull Leipzig midfielder Naby Keita and Monaco man Fabinho, with those arrivals unlikely to be the last for Jurgen Klopp’s side.

Trent Alexander-Arnold and Nathaniel Clyne are the two current right-backs on Liverpool’s books but the chance to secure one the future stars of world football might prove just too tempting for Klopp this summer.

The signing of Virgil van Dijk last January naturally enhanced Liverpool’s defensive qualities but there is still something to be said for Klopp’s team to be lacking a defence capable of sustaining a serious challenge to win the Premier League.

Pavard would provide healthy competition for Alexander-Arnold and would give Klopp the strength in depth to challenge on all fronts during 2018/19, whilst the chance to snare a player from under the noses of Manchester United would definitely delight the club’s supporters.

It does remain to be seen just how serious Stuttgart are on their decision not to sell this summer but a bid in excess of £50 million from Liverpool would surely leave the German outfit with a seriously big decision to make.

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France

Picking six of the best from the 2018 World Cup

France were crowned champions of the world yesterday after beating Croatia 4-2 in Moscow

Liam Thomas

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Photo: Getty Images

The 2018 World Cup came to an end yesterday and, after a terrific tournament filled with highs and lows, Didier Deschamps’ French side came out on top in a 4-2 classic in Moscow against Croatia.

We have been treated to a feast of footballing genius over the past five weeks and picking just six players was a difficult task when considering some of the top performers on display.

Nevertheless, after trials and tribulations, we managed to pick six of the best from this summer’s World Cup and how they would line up in a six-a-side team.

Goalkeeper – Jordan Pickford

Jordan Pickford came of age for England between the sticks over the last few weeks of the competition and saved the Three Lions on countless occasions.

It was truly a pleasure to watch Pickford at times, and the young goalkeeper was a breath of fresh air. He was arguably England’s best player of the tournament and he gets the gloves for this team.

Jordan Pickford

Defender – Raphaël Varane

At 25 the French defender has now won four Champions League titles and a World Cup; astonishing stuff. Varane was vital for France throughout the tournament and will no doubt be in every pundit’s and fan’s team of the competition because of this.

If there were any questions surrounding Varane’s ability they were quashed during this World Cup, and the young Frenchman deserves every accolade that comes his way; a magnificent tournament capped off with a World Cup winner’s medal to match.

Defender – Domagoj Vida

You would have been let off for not knowing who Domagoj Vida was before the World Cup. However, the Croatian centre-back announced his name on the world stage with some outstanding performances.

Vida’s grit and determination throughout the competition was admirable, and his Croatian side certainly did themselves and their country proud.

Midfield – Luka Modric

Voted player of the tournament, Luka Modric again proved why he is arguably the best midfielder on the planet. At times, when Croatia looked down and out, Modric took the team by the scruff of the neck and pulled them through.

An incredible talent, it is a shame Modric didn’t get over the final hurdle and bring his nation there first ever World Cup.

(Photo by Paul Ellis/Getty Images)

Forward – Eden Hazard

Eden Hazard again proved why he is the apparent heir to the Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi throne, with some sublime performances for Belgium.

We got to see the very best of Hazard in a silky smooth Belgium set-up that utilised their attacking talents to the fullest.

In the end, Hazard’s side had to settle for third place but there is no doubt he will be back in 2020 for revenge.

Forward – Kylian M’bappe

A World Cup winner at the age of 19, Kylian M’bappe is living out every boy’s dream and became the first teenager to score in a World Cup final since Pele.

M’bappe was the first name on the team sheet, and his electrifying pace caused problems for the world’s best defenders throughout the tournament.

It is scary to think what might come from the teenager in the future; France will in no doubt be reaping the rewards of this once in a generation talent for years to come.

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Arsenal

Has Euro 2016 proven Arsenal’s Laurent Koscielny to be one of Europe’s best?

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Arsenal has long been a great place for players to develop from relative unknowns to superstars. French defender Laurent Koscielny; signed from Lorient in the summer of 2010 for a reported fee of around £10 million, looks set to be the next name on that list after an impressive campaign at the Euros has seen him on the receiving end of praise from some of the biggest names in football.

The Arsenal man suffered an inconsistent first few seasons at the Emirates, where he struggled to put his stamp on the Gunners defence. His unconvincing performances led to critics claiming that Koscielny’s impressive rise from reserve in the French second division to Champions League player was a step too soon for him.

Much of the start of his spell can be summarised by his debut, where two yellow cards in just four minutes of injury time after the end of the 90 minutes saw him sent off on his debut against Liverpool and he would finish that season by gifting a goal to Obafemi Martins in the League Cup final against Birmingham City.

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Fast forward to 2012, and Koscielny was a French international who had been voted the fourth most important player in the Arsenal squad and given a new long-term contract. Koscielny is now one of the leaders in the Arsenal back line, alongside Per Mertesacker. In a time where Arsene Wenger’s defence is generally considered to be slow and fragile, Koscielny brings quality to the back-line and is usually one of the first names on the Frenchman’s team sheets. His growth and maturity over the last few years have seen Koscielny even taken the captain’s armband on some occasions last season.

At the Euros, the centre-back has been a rock at the back for the host country, playing every minute of France’s campaign so far, partnering both Adil Rami and Samuel Umtiti as France reached the semi-finals with ease before overcoming reigning World Cup champions Germany.

Koscielny was particularly impressive in the semi-final against Germany and can expect to go down in history as one of the performances of the tournament should France defeat Portugal in this evening’s final.

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With one year left on his current contract and Koscielny playing better than ever, there will be pressure on Arsenal bosses to get the defender tied down to a longer deal. With the Evening Standard linking Bayern Munich with a move for the 30-year-old unsung hero, it shows an incredible career rise for the man who did not even make a first flight appearance until the age of 23.

If Arsenal are to provide a real title challenge this season, the steel and experience of Laurent Koscielny will be a vital building block for Arsene Wenger to base a title winning side on. With just two FA Cups and one Community Shield to his name in terms of honours, he can add to that list with an unforgettable victory for his home country in Paris, but should he maintain his current level of performance, it could well provide the league title that Gunners fans have been craving for over a decade.

Featured Image: All rights reserved by Emrah Partal.

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France

West Ham’s Dimitri Payet nets France three points with screamer – Twitter reacts

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Premier League sensation Dimitri Payet has hit the headlines worldwide yet again as his 88th minute wonder-goal from the edge of the box was smashed into the top corner to give France an opening victory against Romania in an incredible atmosphere at the Stade de France.

Arsenal striker Olivier Giroud had opened the scoring, before former Manchester United left back Patrice Evra conceded a clumsy penalty to allow Romania’s Bogdan Stancu to slot past Hugo Lloris. The result gives France an early lead, which they will hope to take advantage of to qualify from a fairly simple group also including Switzerland and Albania.

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Payet, who left the field minutes later to be replaced by Moussa Sissoko, was visibly emotional and was in tears as he made way for the Newcastle midfielder. It’s been an incredible season for Payet, who moved to West Ham from Marseille for just over £10 million, having previously been on the fringes of the French national team and unfavoured by current boss Didier Deschamps.

The free-kick maestro demonstrated his expertise with a superb finish to top off a memorable year, and will be hoping that the moment will propel France on to even greater things in their first home tournament since the 1998 World Cup. In doing so, he became the first player to score and assist in the opening game of an international tournament since Frantisek Veseley in 1976.

Here is how Twitter reacted to Payet’s strike:

It certainly impressed some decent footballers…

Some claim he bailed France out…

He saved quite a few people’s bets…

And Payet himself clearly felt the emotions of the moment…

Some certainly thought that Payet’s strike would not be matched by anything the tournament could offer over the next month…

It certainly helped Euro 2016 burst into life!

Finally, some realists out there have already begun to speculate about whether West Ham will be able to keep hold of him…

Featured Image: All rights reserved by Phuong Ngo.

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