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Should Paris Saint-Germain let Unai Emery go this summer, or stay the course?



It’s difficult to think that this is what Paris Saint-Germain envisioned when they hired Unai Emery.

The former Sevilla man, fresh of a third straight Europa League title, was brought in to replace Laurent Blanc after another failed European campaign. Success on the domestic front would have been expected given the clubs resources and the talent in the squad. Progress in Europe was the main goal. Emery is failing on all accounts as things stand.

PSG are second in the table, three points a Monaco side with a game in hand and only three remaining. This is the same Monaco side that went further in the Champions League knockout stages and announced their domestic intentions by fielding a weakened side in their recent French Cup semi-finals matchup.

A cup double and a return the Champions League is likely but that is a step back from what Blanc achieved in his final season. Had there been signs of progress on the pitch despite the lack of silverware then Emery’s situation may be less precarious he still has work to do in terms of moulding the squad in his image. It was a surprise that he was chosen, despite his success, to lead a club with PSG’s ambition and resources, and the Spaniard has certainly had his ups and downs.

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PSG started off the season in Emery’s preferred 4-2-3-1 formation, while playing in his more direct and energetic style. As noted in this space earlier this season, via the Bleacher Report, a request from senior members of the squad saw the club revert to the 4-3-3 possession based style that the Spaniard preferred.

While Emery’s decision to listen to his players showed a good touch of man-management in a delicate situation, the discussion should have continued from there. A season-long transformation could still have transpired but instead we have seen Emery’s style of display in fits and starts while the manager has been forced to deal with various injuries, changes in form, and so forth.

The major victory in his season, so far, has been the rebirth of Edinson Cavani as the leading man up top. The Uruguayan, no longer in the shadow of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, has revelled in being the man leading the line again to the tune of 45 goals in 45 games. Emery’s words and training throughout the season surely played a role getting the best from the frontman, but the cynics can argue that any new manager could have achieved similar results with Zlatan gone. 

Unfortunately for Emery, the negatives seem to outweigh the positives.

While he also reinvigorated Angel Di Maria and has overseen good performances from youngsters like Presnel Kimpembe, his additions have been a mixed bag. The addition of Julian Draxler in the January transfer window brought about a mid-season surge, but that was to be expected.

Aside from the German, only Thomas Meunier, the least unfancied of his recruits, acquitted himself well. Jese Rodriguez was sent back on loan to Las Palmas in La Liga, Grzegorz Krychowiak has hardly stepped on the pitch and Hatem Ben Arfa’s form has come and gone throughout the campaign.

While it’s not all his fault – one can certainly cannot compare relative novice Patrick Kluivert to former Sevilla director of football, Monchi – where transfers are concerned, the manager certainly had his say in these matters. 

The lack of change led to a continued reliance on a player like Thiago Motta, who is much more suitable to Blanc’s system, and casts doubts as to whether Emery really has control of the dressing room. The tactics and decision-making that led to the worst performance of the season, that 6-1 loss to Barcelona, surely wouldn’t have helped.

Various poor results on the domestic front, including losses to fellow title challengers Monaco and Nice, have decreased PSG’s aura of invincibility. That, and the club’s European disappointment, might have key players questioning the club’s ability to reach the top of Europe.

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While its unlikely that Cavani or Di Maria will leave, nor the recently arrived Draxler, Marco Veratti has been the subject of fluttering eyelids across Europe for a few seasons now. The Italian midfielder is a fantastic fit for Emery’s system and a major part of the PSG’s project. Convincing him to stay will be a major task in the summer while other potential departures, like Serge Aurier, must be replaced adequately. Whether Emery’s bosses think they can do the same with him is another matter. 

While the failure in Europe  certainly has those in charge at PSG questioning their decision it may be hasty to get rid of Emery now. The Spaniard has proven himself in La Liga before and while his Champions League record isn’t the greatest, he is in a different situation now. If he can work together with Kluivert to mold the team in his image this summer then there will be plenty of cause for optimism heading into the 2017/18 season. There won’t be many, if any, big-name managers available for PSG to look at in any case and, as they would’ve seen with Manchester City and Pep Guardiola this season, European success does not come overnight. 

Emery still has title-winning experience and PSG have a good squad. One trophy has entered the cabinet this season and they are strong favorites for the French Cup as well. The Spaniard was chosen by the PSG hierarchy last summer and, title or not, it makes sense to stay the course. Should that be the case, the manager will know that the hook will be out quickly if there is no progress next season.

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Who are the five most valuable players under the age of 21?

Jake Jackman



The CIES Football Observatory have produced a list of the 100 most valuable players under the age of 21 and it makes for interesting reading, with three Premier League players in the top five.

CIES are a research group based within the International Centre for Sports Studies. It was created in 2005 and has looks to specialise in the statistical analysis of football, which is a growing field within the sport.

A lot of their studies are based in the financial side of the game and given the continued increase of transfer fees, they produce a lot of information that is of interest to clubs.

This particular study focuses on the top five leagues and it won’t come as a surprise that the Premier League features heavily.

Here are the five most valuable under-21 players according to the CIES study:

5 – Marcus Rashford (€116.7 million)

Amid all the spending that Manchester United have done in recent seasons, the value of producing your own players through your academy continues to be shown in the Manchester United squad. It is important to their supporters to have homegrown players and Marcus Rashford is one of the best that they have produced in recent seasons. According to CIES, he is already worth more than £100 million and it is remarkable to think that he may not have been given a chance if it wasn’t for injuries to Wayne Rooney and Anthony Martial.

It has been a good start to the season for Marcus Rashford as he continues to get significant minutes, despite the arrival of Romelu Lukaku. Across the Premier League and Champions League, he has contributed six goals and four assists. His goal involvement is one every 113.8 minutes. Considering he has been used in various positions and not played every week, this is impressive. United need to continue showing faith in him. If they do, the sky is the limit.

4 – Ousmane Dembele (€120.4 million)

The French winger made headlines during the summer, as he was selected to be the replacement for Neymar at Barcelona. There is a lot of pressure on the 20-year-old to live up to his price tag, which was £135.5 million. There were clauses included in the deal, but the overall value is more than the £120.4 million that he has been estimated at by CIES. However, there were circumstances driving that. Namely, the desperate position of Barcelona.

Last season, he was one of the best players in the Bundesliga as he contributed eight goals and 18 assists across the two major competitions. His goal involvement was one every 108.2 minutes, which underlines why Barcelona were keen to buy him this season. An injury has hindered him at the beginning of his La Liga career, but he remains one of the most exciting young players in the game.

3 – Leroy Sane (€124.5 million)

The £37 million that Manchester City paid for the German international is looking more and more like a bargain with every passing day. CIES value the winger at €124.5 million and that underlines the improvement he has made under Pep Guardiola. He is now one of the most devastating attackers in the Premier Leaguer and it will be fascinating to see how much further he can go, as he is only 21.

His record in the Premier League this season has been remarkable and he is well on his way to contributing at least ten goals and ten assists. Sane is already on six goals and six assists, with a goal involvement every 78.75 minutes. The quality of the team helps him, but his own performances have contributed significantly to the success of City.

2 – Dele Alli (€180.2 million)

It has been a difficult start to the new season for Dele Alli, but he remains one of the most exciting players in the world. In the list of these five players, the England international is the most attainable for the biggest clubs in Europe, as Tottenham have the lowest chance of winning major trophies. It will take a huge fee to secure the midfielder and the valuation of €180.2 million from CIES is around the fee that Spurs would expect.

Since joining Tottenham as a teenager, he has been a revelation and scored 28 goals during his first two Premier League seasons. This season has been harder as he has only three goals in 15 matches, but he was always going to go through a drop-off in form at some point. The test will be how he recovers. The next few months will show us how far Alli can go in the game.

1- Kylian Mbappe (€182.8 million)

The valuation from CIES is fractionally higher than the reported fee that PSG will pay for the teenager next summer when his transfer is made permanent. He was a revelation last season and played a major role in Monaco winning Ligue 1 and reaching the Champions League semi-finals. PSG have made the move to sign him and he could become the best player in the world at the club if he is managed correctly.

This season hasn’t been as eye-catching as his debut season in senior football, but he has been very impressive still, especially when his age is taken into consideration. He has contributed nine goals and seven assists across the two major competitions, with a goal involvement of 86.5 minutes. This is incredible, but there have been some critics as he isn’t as noticeable playing alongside Edinson Cavani and Neymar. He is clearly the best young player in the world and this list from CIES reflects that.

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How Twitter reacted to Tottenham’s signing of defender Serge Aurier from Paris Saint-Germain



Serge Aurier

Tottenham’s summer transfer window seems to be hitting full flow with less than a day until the deadline as the north London side confirmed that Serge Aurier has signed from Paris Saint-Germain.

The 24-year-old right-back will join Mauricio Pochettino’s side on a five-year deal in a move BBC Sport believe will set Spurs back around £23 million, becoming their fourth arrival in the space of seven days.

There had been fears that a move for Aurier was in jeopardy as Tottenham waited to hear from the Home Office about whether the Ivorian would receive a UK work visa, following a conviction last year for assaulting police officers in the French capital, but his work permit has been granted in time to complete a move before the deadline.

Talking about his move to Tottenham, Aurier said:

“This is a huge and exciting opportunity at a massive football club and I am determined to prove myself”.

The 24-year-old managed 81 appearances across all competitions for PSG since arriving from fellow French outfit Toulouse in 2014, helping them secure back-to-back Ligue 1 and Coupe de France titles.

Aurier had taken to social media on Wednesday afternoon to tease a move…

Before Tottenham confirmed the £23million switch on Thursday…

And it’s fair to say Tottenham fans were just a little thrilled by the addition…

With supporters of rivals clubs even conceding that it’s a great signing…

And some Spurs fans had already forgotten about Kyle Walker…

Others are still waiting for potential further arrivals later on today…

But either way, it seems that the optimism has returned to the white side of north London…

What do you think Tottenham fans? Is Aurier the signing of the summer? Let us know below.

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Would PSG’s Julian Draxler statistically be a good replacement if Alexis Sanchez leaves Arsenal?




Arsenal fans will be wondering when they can wake up from the nightmare ending to the summer transfer window, and it could get worse with the future of Alexis Sanchez hanging by a tiny thread.

BBC Sport reported on Tuesday evening that Manchester City have submitted an opening offer of £50 million for the Chilean forward – an offer rejected by Arsenal – but it’s expected they will return.

And the Mirror have claimed that the only way that Sanchez will be allowed to leave the Emirates over the course of the day would be if a move for Paris Saint-Germain’s Julian Draxler could be done. But with Sanchez so influential last season, how does the German international compare to him?

Industry in the opposition third

It’s hard to argue against the fact that, had it not been for Sanchez last season, then Arsenal would have finished much lower down the table than fifth and manager Arsene Wenger would not still be in London.

And part of the Chilean’s influence was just how busy he was in the final third, constantly working hard and roaming in-between the midfield and defensive lines, and it shows in his season’s statistics.

He made an average of 43.18 passes per match in the Premier League in comparison to Draxler’s tally of 31.24 – although it’s worth noting Draxler made five of his 17 appearances from the bench.

Yet the 23-year-old German international completed a higher percentage of his passes (85%) over the course of the season and there’s no doubt he could bring a similar level of productivity to Arsenal.

Producing the end product

With Sanchez being the main man at the Emirates last season – and realistically the only potent threat in front of goal aside from target-man Olivier Giroud – it’s no surprise that he’s miles ahead on this one too.

Across the course of the season he averaged 0.63 goals per game, scoring 24 in just 38 league appearances, and add an average of 0.26 assists per match and his importance shows even clearer.

The PSG forward doesn’t lag too far behind however with 0.24 goals per game, creating just less than two clear-cut chances per match in Ligue 1, and it’s not a bad return considering he only managed 1011 minutes of football in the French capital last year and was often restricted to cameo performances.

Although Draxler has been supposedly lined-up as a proposed Sanchez replacement, it’s key to remember that he’s more of a natural wide player whereas the Chilean was comfortable striking.

Should the speculation actually become a reality over the course of the day then Draxler would no doubt play on the left-wing, acting as support for Arsenal’s new record signing Alexandre Lacazette.

Defensive prowess

Yet one place where the PSG man comes into his own is when it comes to taking on defensive responsibilities, averaging just less than one (0.71) interceptions per match at the French giants.

This tally, along with the fact he makes 0.24 defensive clearances per game, both trumps the Chilean’s number (0.63 and 0.13 respectively) and highlights the benefit that Draxler could bring at both ends of the pitch, especially if he would be utilised as a left-winger that can help track back.

Should he join, and should Wenger persist with his wing-back formation, then Draxler’s ability to defend would be such an underestimated asset and add something that Sanchez didn’t last season.

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