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How Southampton’s Portuguese New Boy has Replaced Nathaniel Clyne

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The overall performance and form of Nathaniel Clyne last season seemed to replicate that of Southampton’s last campaign. Both Clyne and Southampton made a storming start to the season which saw the right back break into the senior England set up and Southampton being ever present in the top four towards the end of November. After this, the Saints failed to maintain the consistent and impressive levels that they started the season with. Clyne was unable to reproduce his impressive early form and some suggest that even in the second half of the season, his head was already elsewhere with the defender knowing his time at St. Mary’s was most likely up come the end of the summer. And that it was. With one year left on his contract, the former Crystal Palace defender swapped St. Mary’s for Anfield just like three of his teammates did the summer prior.

As is commonly reported, the Southampton recruitment system had already scouted and shortlisted Clyne’s possible replacements before he had made the four hour journey north. Saints signed Sporting Lisbon’s Cedric Soares, another right back entering his last year of contract. The Portuguese right back joined Saints for a reported fee of £3.5m and has looked like another astute piece of business on the south coast.

From his first appearance in a Saints shirt, Cedric impressed. Most notably, his attacking endeavour was clear for all to see. On the opening weekend of the season, the 24-year-old enjoyed great freedom down the right hand side. He supplied the perfectly placed cross that Pelle was able to convert to give Saints the lead. This performance was a sign of what to come from Cedric and what to expect from the defender. The right back’s desire to attack as much as he defends makes him a perfect fit in Ronald Koeman’s system where full backs are expected to be another effective attacking outlet.

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While Cedric’s attacking capabilities have never been an area for scrutiny, questions have often been raised about his defensive qualities during his early time at Southampton. At times, the Sporting Lisbon academy product looked off the pace and vulnerable at right back when he was asked questions defensively. Even after his impressive offensive display against Newcastle in the first game of the season, Cedric was substituted at half time with Newcastle causing the Saints defence problems and the right back looking exposed. In the match before the recent international break against Sunderland, centre back Maya Yoshida was preferred to Cedric at right back. The Japanese international was preferred to the first choice right back due to his stronger and taller presence against a typically direct and physical Sam Allardyce team.

However, Cedric has improved with each game. With each start, the right back looks more assured and accustomed in the Premier League. He has established a fine balance between his obvious and natural attacking capabilities and his evident and improving defensive capabilities that have taken time to adjust and implement in English football. He has disciplined himself well and has only received one yellow card since joining the Saints showing impressive defensive awareness.

October marked a key month for Cedric. The right back seemed to make leaps and bounds in settling into life on the south coast and in the Premier League. Southampton started October with an impressive win at Chelsea in which Cedric starred in as well as draws against Leicester City and Liverpool. Cedric has been able to settle in comfortably alongside captain, compatriot and close friend Jose Fonte. The addition of Virgil van Dijk at the heart of the defence has been an inspired signing and the reliability of Ryan Bertrand at left back has made Cedric form part of a solid defence that will hope to be just as mean and as successful as last campaign.

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Cedric arrived at St. Mary’s with big football boots to fill. Clyne had made the right back spot his own in his three years at Southampton and had grown into the position as the Saints grew into the division. With the pressure on Cedric to make Clyne a distant but fond memory and the pressure with Southampton’s recruitment department to continue making shrewd signings to replace players, Southampton fans should be pleased with what they’ve seen so far. Cedric has shown what he’s capable of offensively and defensively whilst showing promise to keep developing – a key attribute in any Southampton signing.

Cedric spent more than half of his life at Sporting Lisbon after coming through their famed academy before his move to Southampton. With Saints’ ambition to field a squad made up of 50% of players from their famed academy, the Portuguese right back may have found a home from home on the south coast.

Featured image: All rights reserved by Paul Shaw

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Dan is a Journalism student at UWE and is an aspiring football journalist. His first ever football match was Southampton's 3-2 win over Leeds in 2003 and he has been a Saints fan ever since.

West Ham United

What’s next for Jordan Hugill after becoming a West Ham outcast?

The former Preston striker has had a difficult time since his January move.

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When Jordan Hugill signed for West Ham United on January 31, many in east London had high hopes for the former Preston North End striker.

However, nearly three months later, the 25-year-old striker has played a grand total of 22 minutes for the Hammers and registered no goals.

The West Ham outcast must now look for a move back to the Championship to end his Premier League exile.

Hugill earned his big move to the top flight after an impressive first half of the 2017/18 season that saw him score ten times for the Lilywhites. The forward was coming off a productive 2016/17 season when he bagged 12 goals and was Preston’s top scorer.

(Photo by Steve Bardens/Getty Images)

But his time at the London Stadium has been a deeply disappointing one. Hugill has played on a paltry three occasions for the Hammers: ten minutes against Brighton, two minutes against Watford, and ten minutes against Southampton.

The English striker was always going to find things difficult making the step up to the Premier League, but few expected him to struggle this much. It is telling that even when main striker Andy Carroll was out injured, Hugill was not granted a larger role in the first team.

With the season winding down, the ex-Preston man must be desperately searching for an escape from his West Ham nightmare.

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Starved of playing time and vital confidence, Hugill would do well to seek a return to the Championship. With his physical style of play and target man attributes, the forward would slot in seamlessly in many a Championship squad.

One team that has been linked with the West Ham man is Tony Pulis’ Middlesbrough; a club that would be a perfect setting for Hugill. Pulis cherishes hefty strikers that can bully defenders and lead the line like Hugill can, and would certainly grant him significant time on the pitch.

After his failed Premier League step-up, Jordan Hugill would do well to save his career and make the switch to the Riverside to link up with Tony Pulis.

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English Premier League

If Everton are serious about top four challenge they must battle rivals for Clement Lenglet

The Frenchman has been sublime for Sevilla this season and Everton need a new central defender.

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After a summer of investment Everton‘s aim for this season was to challenge for the top four. It was a bold and ambitious plan which failed miserably.

They spent much of the first half of the campaign in the relegation reckoning, sacked their manager and have now limped their way to the top-half playing a dreadful brand of football under the guidance of Sam Allardyce.

It is fair to say, Everton fans are not happy.

Next season, the challenge again will be to try and compete with the Premier League’s elite.

But if Everton are going to do that, they need to improve one area of their team drastically – the defence.

Ashley Williams has been woeful this season and Everton fans would happily see the back of him.

Phil Jagielka does his best, but age is starting to get the better of him. Michael Keane took a while to settle following his move from Burnley.

Meanwhile, Ramiro Funes Mori has been injured most of the campaign and Mason Holgate has had an inconsistent season.

(Photo by Nathan Stirk/Getty Images)

A new centre-back is a must and, if Everton are serious about challenging for Europe, it needs to be a top defender.

Plenty are about at the moment, but the one which springs to mind for Everton is Sevilla star Clement Llenglet.

He caught the eye of English football fans after shackling Romelu Lukaku at Old Trafford in the Champions League.

The Frenchman has been in fine form for the club this season and now Lenglet is being linked with a host of clubs.

One such team is Liverpool, and with good reason. Lenglet has a release clause in his contract at Sevilla which stands at just €30 million (£26.25 million) – according to Marca.

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Considering the price paid for the likes of Virgil Van Dijk, Aymeric Alporte and John Stones after the past year that fee is an absolute bargain.

Everton owner Farhad Moshiri is expected to dig deep into his pockets again this summer as Everton look to mount a renewed campaign next season.

Beating the likes of Liverpool to Lenglet’s signature would be the biggest signal of intent yet that Everton are ready to push into the Premier League elite.

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English Premier League

Tottenham Hotspur should give Reo Griffiths first-team chance after 9-0 heroics

The teenager scored four and assisted three as Tottenham Hotspur’s under-18s routed Arsenal.

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Tottenham Hotspur have plenty of young talent coming through at the moment and never has that been made more evident than in the under-18s result this afternoon. Tottenham dealt their North London rivals Arsenal a serious thrashing, winning 9-0.

It was a massive win for Spurs’ talented youngsters, albeit against a much changed and much younger Arsenal side.

But any North London derby win of this magnitude was going to have Spurs fans excited and rightly so. One player, in particular, was the talk of social media for Tottenham fans after the game. Reo Griffiths put in a fantastic performance for Spurs. He netted four goals and also grabbed three assists. That means the youngster only failed to play a direct hand in two of Tottenham’s nine goals.

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The 17-year-old forward has long been tipped as a future star for the Tottenham first-team and his four-goal salvo this afternoon took his tally for the season to 23 goals in 18 games in the under-18 Premier League.

His excellent form has not gone unnoticed and fans on Twitter were ecstatic with his display. In fact, some are even calling on Tottenham to give him a place in the first-team for the end of the season:

So should they?

It is hard to see why not. Harry Kane is, of course, the undisputed starter for Spurs – even when clearly not at full fitness. But second choice Fernando Llorente is widely expected to leave the club this summer after failing to find his feet in North London. Whilst Kazaiah Sterling is a strong option as another youngster, Tottenham fans would like to see Mauricio Pochettino give the 17-year-old a chance instead.

Griffiths is clearly a top talent of whom Tottenham will have high hopes. With just four games of the season left and Spurs looking strong in a top-four spot, it would be no skin off Pochettino’s back to see what the young lad can do.

Griffiths certainly looked like the real deal this afternoon and Tottenham should definitely consider giving him a chance in the first-team before the end of the season.

He can do no worse than Llorente and it could be the dawn of a fantastic career in North London for the teenager.

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