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Should Southampton act fast to beat Crystal Palace to Benfica’s Andre Almeida?

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Andre Almeida

Premier League rivals Southampton and Crystal Palace are allegedly in a two-way battle to sign Benfica’s versatile defender Andre Almeida this summer transfer window, according to The Sun.

It is understood that both teams sent scouts to watch the 26-year-old during Benfica’s season-opening victory in the Portuguese Super Cup, seeing off top-flight rivals Guimares comfortably.

And, despite trying to persuade Almeida to remain in Portugal for another season, Benfica are currently preparing themselves to be faced with formal offers from their Premier League admirers.

Would Almeida bring the right quality to the Premier League?

With reports from BBC Sport today also claiming that Crystal Palace are on the verge of announcing a season-long loan for Manchester United utility man Timothy Fosu-Mensah, it is clear that Southampton could take massive strides in securing Andre Almeida if they try and act quickly.

The 26-year-old has been an impressive member of Benfica’s first-team since arriving in 2011, featuring 150 times in the past six years, and he has the experience to have an impact at St Mary’s.

Perhaps the most appealing feature about Almeida is his versatility, able to slot in adeptly at either full-back role, as a central defender or even as a deeper, holding midfielder in front of the defence.

Due to his origins as a midfielder he has a great sense of reading game situations, more often than not able to anticipate opponents’ passes and cut them out, and he’s composed once in possession.

He is also strong in the air – a key attribute should he move to the Premier League – and his physicality means he can hold up the ball well, or equally shrug off attackers with relative ease.

After months of conjecture regarding Dutch defender Virgil van Dijk’s future– it has almost turned into a will he, won’t he situation with Liverpool – a definitive outcome is still no clearer and the new Premier League campaign is now just a matter of days away.

It seems that Southampton aren’t willing to let him leave, but equally won’t have him anywhere near the first-team squad due to his desire – as reported by Sky Sports in recent weeks – to leave St Mary’s during the summer window.

So making a move for Almeida could prove to be a smart decision; if Van Dijk does leave, there’s a decent and proven player to replace him, and if he stays then it’s adding some key strength in depth to the club.

And for a fee of around £8 million a move for the Portuguese international wouldn’t exactly be breaking the bank, so new manager Mauricio Pellegrino could do a lot worse than lining-up a swoop for Almeida.

 

Andre Almeida to the Premier League
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The report claims that Almeida has always envisioned himself playing in the Premier League and after winning the Portuguese Primeira Liga last season he could be persuaded by a new challenge. Although the Virgil van Dijk saga is still nowhere near a resolution with the season just a matter of days away, there’s no harm in strength in depth and Almeida could be a great addition for the Saints.

Will is a Multimedia Journalism graduate from the University of Salford, specialising in the art of sports. Long-time suffering Northampton Town fan who once saw us win a league title. Find him on Twitter - @96PearsonW.

Crystal Palace

Ruben Loftus-Cheek deserves England start after Tunisia cameo

The 22-year-old proved the catalyst for England in his second-half cameo.

Jake Jackman

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Photo: Getty Images

England managed to get their World Cup campaign off to the perfect start with a win over Tunisia.

It wasn’t straightforward and they had to wait until stoppage time, but Harry Kane popped up at the crucial time to deliver three points.

Their next match is against Panama on Sunday and a win will almost certainly be enough to see them through to the next round.

Germany’s loss against Mexico means that it may be beneficial for the Three Lions to finish second in their group, but Gareth Southgate will be focused on qualifying first and foremost.

The performance from England was a refreshing one as the players looked to play in a positive manner and were confident in their ability to play out from the back.

There were some sketchy moments, but mistakes are part of the process and there is now real hope for a better future.

Southgate has put his faith in a lot of younger players and one made an impact on Monday.

Ruben Loftus-Cheek was a surprise selection, but the midfielder was brought on against Tunisia and he had a positive impact.

(Photo by Alex Morton/Getty Images)

England looked like they were tiring and it was important that Southgate made the necessary changes to get a win.

It was a risk to bring on the 22-year-old considering his lack of experience, but he provided dynamism in the centre of the park when it was required.

During his short time on the pitch, he looked to be aggressive in his movement and managed to break free in the final third on a couple of occasions.

He completed one dribble and won his only aerial duel. Loftus-Cheek had a breakthrough season with Crystal Palace and he could emerge as one of the breakout stars of the competition if he continues to play in a positive manner.

At times, England looked lightweight and lacking ideas in the middle of the park.

Dele Alli was a shadow of his usual self and appeared to be carrying a knock. He managed to produce one key pass, but his influence was limited.

Meanwhile, Jesse Lingard offered threatening movement, but his final ball was poor. He had a number of chances in the final third and none of them resulted in a goal.

Although he was only on the pitch for roughly ten minutes, Loftus-Cheek provided athleticism and drive that the team were previously lacking.

All of his contributions were made with the right intentions and he seemed to grow on the world stage.

It would have been easy for the midfielder to come on and play it safe. He didn’t do that and Southgate would have been encouraged by that.

Panama is a game that England should be targeting for three points. Southgate saw that his chosen formation worked against Tunisia, but there could be a change of players that makes it more effective.

Loftus-Cheek has to be one of the players lined up for a start for either Lingard or Alli. There is an opportunity for experimentation and if the 22-year-old can deliver over ninety minutes, it could be a sign of what is to come this summer.

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Crystal Palace

West Ham round up: Lucasz Fabianksi, Issa Diop in next 24 hours, Roma enter race for Javier Pastore

A round-up of the day’s most interesting news surrounding West Ham.

Jamie Watts

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Double unveiling in next 24 hours?

West Ham have been negotiating deals for Swansea City goalkeeper Lucasz Fabianski and Toulouse centre-back Issa Diop for over a week now, and the Evening Standard are reporting that a double unveiling is imminent in the next 24 hours.

Manuel Pellegrini is set to encore the signing of Fulham fullback Ryan Fredericks with the Poland goalkeeper, having agreed a three-year deal, with £7 million going to the recently relegated Swans. The delay is said to be due to the 33-year-old’s inclusion in his nations clash with Senegal today.

Diop has reportedly completed his medical in London yesterday, despite interest from the likes of Everton and Sevilla, with RMC Sport claiming the player will sign a five-year deal at the London Stadium, tying him until the club until 2033 for a fee of around £22 million.

Photo: Getty Images

Pastore falling through?

Pellegrini had expressed an interest in signing Paris Saint Germain want-away Javier Pastore earlier this month, but talks have stalled over constant financial issues and it now appears Italian giants Roma are keen to move in, according to ESPN.

Sky Sports Italy are suggesting that Roma is the more appealing option to the 28-year-old, and are even claiming that the Argentine’s agent Marcelo Simonian has flown to Italy and has agreed a £24 million deal for a four-year contract, with the option to extend another year in the capital.

Photo: Getty Images

Antonio to Palace?

Crystal Palace could make a move for West Ham winger Michail Antonio this summer as they look to add more firepower to their squad after securing Premier League survival.

According to the Daily Mirror, Antonio has been told he is not part of the Hammers’ long-term plans under the new management of Pellegrini and is set to leave.

The Hammers are apparently open to offers and it is suggested that Palace might face stiff competition for a player who has scored 20 goals in 76 Premier League appearances.

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Arsenal

Crystal Palace fans thrilled with reports of Jack Wilshere interest

Crystal Palace fans are keen on the reported deal.

Jamie Watts

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Crystal Palace are keen on landing long-serving Arsenal midfielder Jack Wilshere, if the 26-year-old leaves the Emirates this summer, according to reports from Evening Standard.

A move to Selhurst Park would reunite Wilshere with Roy Hodgson, his former England manager and a coach, whose belief in the Gunner is undeniable. Hodgson displayed his admiration for the midfielder, after taking him the 2016 Euros despite him barely playing all season. And he believes he could add the perfect balance to the Eagles’ midfield alongside enforcer Luka Milivojevic.

Photo: Getty Images

Wilshere was left out of the England squad for the World Cup this summer due to his diminished role with Arsenal, and revealed his “disappointment” on the day through his official Twitter account. And it now appears he will prioritise making himself essential at both club and international level next season, and that is unlikely with Arsenal.

Having improved his fitness, which has widely been considered his primary weakness, making 38 appearances in all competitions last season, Wilshere could become a serious asset at Selhurst Park, and fans have taken to Twitter to discuss the reports.

Here’s the reaction:

Yohan Cabaye’s situation is currently unresolved at Selhurst Park, with reports suggesting that the 32-year-old could potentially move to Ligue 1 giants Marseille this summer, and the Frenchman would need replacing.

Having joined in 2015 for £10 million from French champions Paris Saint Germain, the veteran midfielder played a key role in the Eagles relegation survival, acting as the catalyst for control and mobility in the centre of the park.

Photo: Getty Images

And Wilshere would play a similar role. His agility and vision are reminiscent of Cabaye, but he has far more left in the tank. It’s safe to say the Englishman would be a real coup for Hodgson at Palace this summer and the fans agree its a deal the club should make happen.

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