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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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Crystal Palace

Khouma Babacar would be underwhelming solution to Crystal Palace’s striker problem

The 25-year-old isn’t exactly a prolific goalscorer.

Max Cohen

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Babacar
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According to the Mirror, Crystal Palace are close to completing a £12 million move for Sassuolo striker Khouma Babacar.

The Senegalese forward scored just six goals in the league last season and would represent an underwhelming solution to Crystal Palace’s striker problem.

Last season, the Eagles struggled massively for goals, with only central midfielder Luka Milivojevic reaching double figures in the league. As for strikers, Christian Benteke scored just three goals in a hugely disappointing year, and Alexander Sorloth failed to score in his four appearances.

It is clear the south Londoners desperately need a prolific centre-forward in order to succeed in 2018/19, yet Babacar simply is not the right choice.

(Photo by Mario Carlini / Iguana Press/Getty Images)

At 25 years of age, he has already been around Italian football for a long time, making his debut for Fiorentina in 2009 as a 16-year-old. Yet he struggled to nail down a starting spot and spent time on loan in Serie B and La Liga before enjoying a breakout season for Fiorentina 2016/17.

In that year, he banged in 10 goals in 22 league appearances while also netting four times in the Europa League. Yet disappointingly, he scored just four times in the first half of 2017/18, before being shipped off to Sassuolo on loan where he found the net on just two occasions in 13 appearances.

Far from an outstanding goalscorer in Italy, it is unclear where Babacar would fit in at Palace, and it is unlikely he could turn around the fortunes of the club’s struggling strike force.

Roy Hodgson would do well to pass on the signing of the £12 million Senegalese international and focus his efforts on a more proven striker with a better goal record.

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Everton

Three free agent goalkeeper options for Everton to add depth

Everton should consider adding depth to the goalkeeping department this summer.

Mathew Nash

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Everton currently have a fine goalkeeper in Jordan Pickford. Signed last summer from Sunderland he was the club’s player of the season last term and is now England’s number one stopper.

But it could be argued they are lacking in reserve. The veteran Maarten Stekelenburg has been an injury concern in recent times. Meanwhile, Spaniard Joel Robles has left the club at the end of his contract. It leaves youngster Mateusz Hewelt as the club’s current third-choice.

Considering his inexperience and Stekelenburg’s injury troubles, surely Everton should consider bringing in another goalie this summer?

Of course, they will not want to pay top dollar to do so.

So here are three free agent stoppers that Everton could target this summer…

Tim Krul

The Dutchman has struggled to find his way back into first-team football since a horror knee injury in 2015.

He spent last season as back-up to Mathew Ryan at Brighton and is now looking for a new club.

Since that knee injury, Krul has remained fit and would be a great back-up to Pickford.

(Photo by Francesco Pecoraro/Getty Images)

Rafael

The first-choice keeper under Rafa Benitez at Napoli in 2014-15 the Brazilian found himself pushed down the pecking order over the past two seasons by Pepe Reina.

Undoubtedly a talented stopper with three Brazil caps to his name, he would be a solid option in reserve.

(Photo by Dave Thompson/Getty Images)

Miguel Santos

One Everton fans probably have not heard of, but perhaps the most likely addition.

Fresh from helping Fortuna Sittard to promotion to the Eredivisie the Portuguese talent will be known to Everton boss Marco Silva.

They worked together at Estoril when Silva was the manager. Santos, at the time, was a promising youngster but left for Benfica in 2012.

He had a spell at Port Vale in 2016 and a move back to England as Everton’s third-choice would surely appeal to the 23-year-old.

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Liverpool

Steven Gerrard called incoming Liverpool star Alisson ‘world-class’ in April

Liverpool will complete a world record move for the Brazilian this week.

Mathew Nash

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Liverpool are set to give the fans what they want by signing a new goalkeeper. A world record fee has been agreed with AS Roma for Brazilian number one Alisson this week. Liverpool will pay the Italian side £67 million for the 25-year-old. Sky Sports report he will undergo a medical this week and a deal will then be finalised.

It is a bold move from Liverpool, who for a number of seasons have suffered with mediocre goalkeeping performances from Loris Karius and Simon Mignolet.

Alisson is considered one of the best keepers in Europe and keeps Manchester City’s brilliant Ederson Moraes on the bench for his country.

He is certainly highly-rated by one former Liverpool player and legend. Steven Gerrard is a big fan of the player.

He spoke highly of the goalie whilst working on BT Sport as a Champions League pundit last season.


“This fella does deserve the praise he is getting of late. He makes world-class saves, he’s up quick, he makes second saves. A world-class keeper no doubt.”

– Steven Gerrard talking of Alisson’s quality in April 2018

 


Of course, Liverpool came up against Alisson and his Roma side in the competition. Over the course of two legs, the Reds put seven goals past the Brazilian. It led some fans to question whether Alisson was actually the right man for Liverpool.

 

But Liverpool needed a keeper with pedigree. Karius is simply too error-prone and his confidence must be at an all-time low after his Champions League final woe.

Liverpool fans will hope Alisson can live up to Gerrard’s ‘world-class’ tag and his price-tag next season.

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