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Liverpool

Who would make an all North West Premier League XI?

Ruari Macneil

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Photo: Getty Images

The two most successful English clubs in history are now being joined by a new side rewriting the history books with their stunning football.

With the Premier League champions, probable Champions League finalists and FA Cup finalists all coming from the North West this season, the region remains the most dominant in the country.

The three teams are of course Manchester United, Liverpool and Manchester City. As a result, the trio dominate our North West Premier League XI.

Of course, Everton and Burnley are worthy of a mention, with some useful players of their own. Burnley have done incredibly well this season to rival Arsenal for a place in the top six. However, when it comes down to quality, the three Premier League giants cannot be overlooked.

The following players are those we believe would make a Premier League fantasy XI, if all selected from teams in the North West.

Goalkeeper – David de Gea

Spain number one David De Gea was named in the PFA Team of the Year for the fifth season this term, and has well and truly cemented himself as the world’s best goalkeeper.

Many pundits have suggested it, but if it were not for De Gea, Manchester United may well be scrapping for a place in the top four, as opposed to currently sitting comfortably in second due to the incredible work of their star man.

De Gea is world class, and you could even argue that he is the best footballer in the Premier League. His value to Manchester United is priceless, and his inclusion is an obvious one, having kept out an astounding 80% of the shots he has faced.

Right Back – Antonio Valencia

United’s Antonio Valencia just pips City’s Kyle Walker in this XI. The Old Trafford captain has been brilliant again this season and his ability, to not only hold his own but excel in his new right-back position, has come from nowhere.

Traditionally, having always played as an advanced attacking winger, Valencia has seamlessly transitioned further back on the pitch and looks as accomplished a right-back as you will find in Europe.

Centre Back – Virgil van Dijk

World record defender Virgil van Dijk has had a huge impact since joining Liverpool from Southampton in January. The Dutchman netted the winner on his debut in the Merseyside derby and has not looked back since.

He is the defensive rock that the Reds have been needed for quite some time, and he may well help lead his new club to European glory if they can pull off one of the greatest campaigns of any underdog in the history of the Champions League.

Centre Back – Nicolas Otamendi

Nicolas Otamendi has come under some severe criticism for his performances in a City shirt in the past, but this season the Argentine silenced his critics as a regular starter for Pep Guardiola’s men.

The defender has played nearly every game for the league champions this campaign and has featured alongside a number of partners in a back two, which has not fazed him whatsoever.

Perhaps still not considered to be the ideal Premier League centre-half, Otamendi only needs to look at the medal around his neck on trophy presentation day to know that he can be proud of his efforts.

Left Back – Andrew Robertson

Arguably the bargain of the season, Scottish international Andrew Robertson has been a serious hit at Anfield through his dedicated, but more importantly high-quality, performances.

Robertson has made the left-back position his own under Jurgen Klopp, and is the exact type of player that any fan wants to see line-up for their team each week.

Along with van Dijk, Robertson has really helped shore things up at the back for Liverpool, and the club look to have discovered a potential left-back option for the best part of the next decade.

Central Midfield – Kevin De Bruyne

Once again, Kevin De Bruyne has set the league alight with his stunning displays from midfield alongside teammate David Silva.

The Belgian international has provided more assists than any other player in the top flight this season, and has netted 11 goals of his own.

His contribution to Pep Guardiola’s championship winning side has been massive, and the Belgian was highly unlucky to miss out on the PFA Player of the Year award to Mohamed Salah.

Central Midfield – David Silva

Like De Bruyne, David Silva’s contribution to City is invaluable and, despite the forward trio getting the plaudits, the two men in the middle of the pitch are at the heart of everything positive the side does.

Silva has been tremendous for City since joining all those years ago, and has been somewhat of an unsung hero in the past, but this season, he has fully gained the credit he deserves.

Somehow, this year was only the second season that Silva was named in the PFA Team of the Year, but regardless, he was surely one of the first names on the team sheet.

Central Midfield – Nemanja Matic

Nemanja Matic has once again proved himself to be one of the best players in his position after solidifying the Manchester United midfield following his move from Chelsea. It seemed a strange decision by Chelsea to let the Serbian go, as it felt like the West London club were gifting their rivals the final piece to their puzzle with United having been crying out for a Matic-type player for a number of years.

Still with the chance to win the FA Cup, Matic has been one of United’s top performers this campaign, and his sometimes quiet work sitting in front of the defence should not be undervalued.

Right Wing – Mohamed Salah

Nothing much needs to be said about this man, and his inclusion in this side is perhaps the most obvious.

The PFA Player’s Player of the Year has netted an unbelievable 40-plus goals this season and still has the chance to be crowned European champion in his first season at Anfield.

In short, the Egyptian star has probably played the best football of any player in the world this season.

Should he continue his form in the seasons to come, he may well rival the likes of Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and Neymar for the Ballon d’Or.

Left Wing – Roberto Firmino

The second member of the mesmerising Liverpool front three to be included in this side, Roberto Firmino has enjoyed another excellent season in a Reds shirt.

The Brazilian is closing in on a tally of 30 goals for the first time in his career, with his previous highest tally standing only at 22.

Unselfish for a forward, Firmino is a true team player and embodies the spirit of a Jurgen Klopp side.

If Klopp can keep Salah, Firmino and Sadio Mane in the coming years, they will be a real threat to Manchester City and Manchester United for the Premier League title.

Centre Forward – Sergio Aguero

Somehow, Sergio Aguero was included in the PFA Team of the Year for only the first time in his career, having averaged 28 goals a season in his seven years in English football.

The Argentine has been massive for City on their title winning run, becoming the club’s all-time leading scorer along the way.

Aguero’s City future looked in doubt after the arrival and rise of Gabriel Jesus. However, the forward has done all of his talking on the pitch, reminding everyone of just how good a player he really is.

If Aguero was to leave City, there are not many clubs worthy of a centre-forward of his quality, and his consistency of quality means he picks himself for this North West XI.

Life long lover of sport in general with a soft spot for football. A consistent defender of Scottish football as a spectacle. Desperately waiting to see my country qualify for a major tournament.

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Liverpool

Liverpool should use Alberto Moreno in Jamaal Lascelles pursuit

The Spaniard is struggling for first-team football at Liverpool.

Mathew Coull

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Liverpool have had an excellent season, making it to the Champions League final and finishing in the Premier League top four. But the building for next season is also set to get underway soon and Liverpool still want to further improve their backline. A new centre-back is set to be targeted and The Independent believe that Jamaal Lascelles could be the man Liverpool turn to, with James Tarkowski of Burnley also mentioned.

Lascelles would obviously be a top option. The Newcastle captain has been an inspiration for the club this campaign and many were surprised he did not make it into Gareth Southgate’s plans for the World Cup.

(during the Premier League match between Newcastle United and Arsenal at St. James Park on April 15, 2018 in Newcastle upon Tyne, England.

But he will not come cheap and after Liverpool spent big on Virgil Van Dijk in January the Tyneside club will be pushing the price up.

However, could Liverpool have a secret weapon in the form of Alberto Moreno?

Back in 2015 Rafa Benitez very nearly signed Moreno. The deal with Liverpool was done but, with Alvaro Arbeloa sticking around, Benitez decided Moreno was no longer needed and the deal was pulled off the table.

That was whilst manager at Real Madrid. Moreno would be an excellent option to further improve Newcastle and provide some competition to Paul Dummett in the left-back position.

(during the UEFA Champions League Round of 16 Second Leg match between Liverpool and FC Porto at Anfield on March 6, 2018 in Liverpool, United Kingdom.

Liverpool paid Sevilla around £12 million, as reported by The Telegraph, to sign Moreno back in 2014 but he has struggled for consistency since his arrival at Anfield. This season he has been replaced by Andrew Robertson, after spending most of last season behind James Milner in the pecking order.

Throwing Moreno into any deal would have to see Newcastle decrease the fee they might ask for to let their captain go this summer. Newcastle would be getting their hands on a 25-year-old Spanish international and a handsome sum of money, whilst Liverpool would get their defensive target.

It would be a fine piece of business for both clubs.

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Liverpool

Virgil van Dijk proving to be worth his price-tag, but must keep Cristiano Ronaldo quiet

Liverpool’s January recruit has been in fine form since his arrival at the club.

Mathew Coull

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Liverpool take on Real Madrid this weekend in the Champions League final in a highly anticipated game in Kiev. The fixture will see Jurgen Klopp’s side hope to capture an impressive title after an enthralling run to the final in which they have played some expansive attacking football.

But to beat Real Madrid they will also have to keep Los Merengues at bay. With one of the greatest to ever play the game in Cristiano Ronaldo among their attacking options, that is no easy feat.

For Liverpool, the key man could, therefore, be the one who has proven to be a massive improvement for the side since his January arrival.

(Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)

The Reds paid Southampton a whopping fee of £75 million, as reported by the BBC. It was a price-tag called into question by many pundits and fans alike. However, the Dutchman has been in fine form since his arrival and added a genuine aura to the Liverpool back-line.

His aerial presence, speed and intelligence have all been demonstrated on a number of occasions as Liverpool’s defensive fragilities have been transformed since his arrival.

The impact he has had on Dejan Lovren cannot be understated. The Croatian looks to be back to something near his best since pairing with Van Dijk. His cool style on the ball and brilliant reading of the game has allowed Lovren to relax into his role and the pair make a good partnership.

(Photo by Manuel Queimadelos Alonso/Getty Images)

Against Ronaldo, all of Van Dijk’s best attributes will be tested.

The Portuguese attacker is still lightning quick, a monster in the air and his footballing brain is often unrivalled.

If Liverpool are to keep him quiet, it will rest largely on the shoulders of their £75 million winter investment.

It is these challenges that forced Van Dijk into pushing for his Southampton departure and he must ensure he is up to it this Saturday.

If he can keep Ronaldo quiet and Liverpool win the Champions League, then that £75 million fee will no longer seem so astronomical.

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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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