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Pontus Jansson to captain Sweden, time for the same at Leeds United?

The Swedish defender will lead out his nation against Romania this week.

Mathew Nash

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Leeds United defender Pontus Jansson did not assure fans of his future at the club recently, when asked about next season by Expressen in his homeland. The centre-back stated:

“We’ll see what’s happening, I want to hear from the club how to look next year and so on.”

It was certainly not a ringing endorsement from a player who, last summer, was linked with some top Premier League teams.

But not many of them would take Jansson based on his form this season. Without his centre-back partner Kyle Bartley, who returned to Swansea City after the expiry of his loan deal, Jansson has struggled.

SOLNA, SWEDEN – MARCH 25: Pontus Jansson of Sweden during the FIFA 2018 World Cup Qualifier between Sweden and Belarus at Friends arena on March 25, 2017 in Solna, . (Photo by Nils Petter Nilsson/Ombrello/Getty Images)

Yet Leeds fans know exactly how good a focused and inspired Jansson can be. Perhaps one way to hand him that impetus is to hand him the Leeds captaincy. When Sweden take on Romania tonight in an international friendly, Jansson will lead out his nation. Yet, at Leeds, Liam Cooper is an unpopular wearer of the armband.

Jansson will probably be wondering why he is not the captain at Leeds in the first place. Many a footballer in Jansson’s shoes would have felt aggrieved not to get the armband in the summer. Given his excellent leadership skills and good relationship with the fans he seemed an obvious choice. But for some Jansson is too emotional, too rash and lacking in the composure to lead the side.

However, maybe the armband is the solution to many of the problems. Jansson is a personality that thrives on responsibility. Giving him the armband could make the Swede focus on his performances more and perhaps he could lift some of those around him to another level.

Cooper is simply not working as a captain. Leeds fans have made that quite clear on numerous occasions this season. Meanwhile Jansson is about to captain a side that will play at the World Cup this summer.

IPSWICH, ENGLAND – JANUARY 13: Joe Garner of Ipswich Town and Pontus Jansson of Leeds United compete for the ball during the Sky Bet Championship match between Ipswich Town and Leeds United at Portman Road on January 13, 2018 in Ipswich, England. (Photo by Stephen Pond/Getty Images)

It would seem a shock tactic to hand him captaincy after seemingly hinting at a move away, like rewarding bad behaviour. But actually it would be a challenge. Think you’re too good for Leeds? Take the armband and drag the side and your team-mates back to form before thinking about bailing out.

If he could do that Leeds fans would love him all over again. The future would look brighter for next season. As for his future? He would be relishing the chance to lead out Leeds for at least one more crack at Premier League promotion.

Leeds should follow the lead of Sweden and give Jansson the captain’s armband, and see if it brings him back to life.

Sports journalist based in Bristol. Previously spent five years writing for HITC Sport. Everton fan for my sins.

Monaco

“First of many” – Some Nottingham Forest fans react to Gil Dias’ wonder goal

The Portuguese youngster has signed for Forest on a season-long loan.

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Dias
Photo: Getty Images

Nottingham Forest boss Aitor Karanka has been extremely busy reshaping his squad during this summer and a series of high profile signings have given the Reds’ long-suffering supporters optimism ahead of the forthcoming campaign.

The Championship outfit have signed no fewer than nine players so far during the off season and it seems likely that Karanka will add more signings to his squad of players before the big August kick-off.

One man who has joined the Reds this summer is Gil Dias who has signed on a season-long loan from French giants Monaco and the 21-year-old has arrived with a big reputation and a glowing reference from agent Jorge Mendes.

(Photo by Gabriele Maltinti/Getty Images)

Dias is one of several new signings who has been hoping to impress his new boss during a pre-season tour of Marbella and his wonder strike in a 3-0 win over Malaga this morning has firmly excited the Forest faithful.

After picking the ball up close to the half-way line, Dias danced past several defenders before calmly finishing under the advancing goalkeeper to give the Reds a 1-0 lead.

Given the nature of his first goal for the club some Forest fans were absolutely buzzing on Twitter, whilst Dias himself spoke of his delight at notching for the first time in the famous red.

Here we looked at some of the best tweets in reaction to Dias’ sensational goal…

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Manchester City

Oleksandr Zinchenko will thrive if given first-team football at Wolves next season

Wolves are reportedly interested in bringing the talented youngster to Molineux.

Liam Thomas

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Oleksandr Zinchenko
Photo: Getty Images

Manchester City‘s talented youngster Oleksandr Zinchenko looks set to leave the Premier League champions this summer in search of first team football.

According to the Telegraph, Wolves boss Nuno Espírito Santo is keen on bringing the wing back into his exciting setup, for a reported fee of £16 million.

Zinchenko started only six times for Pep Guardiola’s record breaking side last season and showed glimpses of what he could achieve if given a sufficient amount of game time.

(Photo by Gareth Copley/Getty Images)

Wolves seem the perfect destination for Zinchenko at this stage in his career and the ambitious west Midlands club are showing no signs of fear going into the new Premier League season.

At 21 years of age, Zinchenko has already featured 16 times for his country; Ukraine and filled in for the absent Benjamin Mendy last season for City and proved he was more than capable of mixing it with the leagues best when needed.

The chance to play under the enigmatic Nuno Espírito Santo certainly puts Zinchenko in an environment to thrive, and the Ukrainian international will in no doubt take with him to Molineux what Pep Guardiola has taught him during his time at the Citizens.

“He is a talented player, so clear, so clean. The way he plays, his decisions are always perfect. As a young player, I hope in the future he will help us.”

– Manchester City boss, Pep Guardiola, speaking about Oleksandr Zinchenko last season.

Given the opportunity to play week in, week out will only improve Zinchenko’s already undeniable talent, and his versatility to play anywhere in the midfield would be a real weapon for Wolves to have at their disposal.

Zinchenko is undoubtedly a coaches dream, with a high footballing IQ and never ending relentless energy he could become a valuable member of Wolves’ set up for the 2018/19 Premier League season.

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Leeds United

Leeds’ loan signing of Jamal Blackman adds much-needed goalkeeping depth

Max Cohen

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Jamal Blackman
Photo: Getty Images

On Monday, Leeds United announced the loan signing of goalkeeper Jamal Blackman from Chelsea.

The 24-year-old Englishman represents an astute signing on Marcelo Bielsa’s part, adding much-needed depth and Championship experience to the squad.

This summer, the Yorkshire club have seen nine players depart Elland Road, including goalkeepers Felix Wiedwald and Andy Lonergan.

As a result of this large turnover, the Whites have been left extremely short-staffed between the sticks, with only 21-year-old Bailey Peacock-Farrell in the mix with meaningful first-team experience.

Blackman is a smart addition to the squad as it is clear more goalkeeping options are needed, and it would be naive to allow Peacock-Farrell to occupy the undisputed number one spot when he only has 12 Championship appearances to his name.

Although the youngster’s performances during the final months of last season showed his impressive potential, Peacock-Farrell nevertheless conceded 18 goals and kept just a solitary clean sheet in 11 matches.

(Photo by Jan Kruger/Getty Images)

In future seasons, the 21-year-old will be trusted with the starting spot but, for now, Jamal Blackman is a more effective option and can teach Peacock-Farrell about goalkeeping in the Championship.

Blackman made 31 appearances for Sheffield United last season, steering the Blades to an impressive tenth-placed finish, nine points above Leeds. The goalkeeper kept nine clean sheets and only conceded 34 goals, a laudable feat.

In addition, Chelsea experts think highly of the goalkeeper, as the club has continued to hold to his services permanently after numerous loan spells – perhaps indicating they hold out hope he can perform for the Blues at a top level one day.

Speaking to Leeds Live, football.london Chelsea writer Oliver Harbord praised Blackman’s saving abilities.

“He comes with the reputation of being a top shotstopper with some excellent reactions.”

In all, the season-long loan signing of Jamal Blackman is a smart piece of business from Leeds, bolstering their threadbare goalkeeping options with a highly-rated young shot-stopper.

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