Tottenham Hotspur‘s quiet transfer window looks as if it may be ready to spark into life this week, with several exits and arrivals rumoured to be imminent at the club.
There is no more news on the status of Georges-Kevin N’Koudou, the Marseille winger who is close to joining the club for £10.8 million, but several news sources have claimed that the deal is virtually done and will be confirmed any day now.
The arrival of an attacking midfielder will mean that competition for places in the attack will be heating up, and that will naturally lead to a number of fringe players being pushed either further down the manager’s pecking order or out of the door.
Alex Pritchard looks as if he will be choosing the latter option, after Chris Hughton’s Brighton & Hove Albion agreed a fee of £8 million for the Spurs man. Queens Park Rangers are reportedly still interested in battling for Pritchard’s signature, but Brighton have stolen a march and it looks as if the youngster’s days at White Hart Lane may be numbered.
Although an obviously talented player from his time in the youth set ups and various loan spells away from Tottenham, Pritchard; now 23, has never really looked like transforming that talent into an all round game good enough of commanding a starting place in a side looking for Champions League football or the title.
A move to the Championship will be good for him, allowing him to spread his creative wings, and will give Brighton a great chance on improving on their third place finish last term which saw them narrowly miss out on promotion to the Premier League. It would be a fine move for all.
Another player who looks set to depart is central defender Federico Fazio. The Argentine, who signed for Spurs in 2014, was close to joining West Bromwich Albion last summer and spent the second half of last season on loan in Sevilla, and now it appears that AS Roma may provide him with a way out of White Hart Lane for good.
The 29-year-old made 20 league appearances in two years at Tottenham, and is never going to oust Toby Alderweireld, Jan Vertonghen or replacement Kevin Wimmer from the line-up. Interestingly, Pochettino looks as if he has opted against bringing in a replacement, which is quite a scalding reflection on Fazio, who has been seen as less desirable than untested academy products or auxiliary central defenders in the event of a crisis this season.
This gamble could backfire if any other defender gets injured, with Jan Vertonghen already out for the start of the season, but it appears the manager’s mind is made up, and Fazio will complete a £3.5 million move to Roma. As long as Spurs do not pick up a lot of defensive injuries, the Argentine is not a player they will particularly miss.
Finally, Spurs have reportedly agreed a contract with youth team product Marcus Edwards, after he impressed for the side in a pre-season games against Juventus and Atletico Madrid.
Pochettino is said to be a big fan of 17-year-old winger Edwards, but attempts to secure a contract back in December were a failure thanks to a disagreement between the club and the player. However, this appears to have been resolved and Edwards will sign a two-year deal.
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One to watch: Brighton’s 21-year-old midfielder Yves Bissouma
Introducing The Boot Room’s 2018/19 One to Watch series…
Being a Lille player last season was not easy.
As a young team that seemed to implode under the tutelage of Marcelo Bielsa, both Yves Bissouma and Lille felt the effects of the instability and uncertainty the Argentine brought to the club.
Only playing inconsistent minutes and routinely being played out of position, Bissouma did not truly flourish until the latter stages of the season under new manager Christophe Galtier.
Crucially, he played the full 90 minutes on matchdays 35, 36 and 37, as Lille won all three matches and secured Ligue 1 survival, scoring twice in the process.
Bissouma is another player from the production line of excellent ball-carrying midfielders in Ligue 1.
He completed more dribbles successfully per 90 minutes than any central midfielder (3.1) to play over 1,000 minutes in Ligue 1 other than Lyon’s Houssem Aouar (3.2).
Importantly, he completed his dribbles successfully at a rate above 75%.
Bissouma also rated extremely highly for the number of tackles he completes per 90 minutes, again ranking amongst Ligue 1’s best central midfielders with 3.8 successful tackles per 90.
Again, these were completed efficiently, at a tackle success rate close to 80%.
Bissouma is an athletic, ball-winning, ball-carrying midfielder that loves to intelligently advance play when given the opportunity.
His game should transition well to life at Brighton.
Now in the Premier League, Bissouma has a larger and more stable platform to display his qualities.
Chris Hughton however, has remained coy on his new signing, potentially to reduce the amount of pressure on him in pre-season.
“He’s young, he’s still got a lot of learning to do. He’s got to get used to the system here, but he is a very good acquisition for us,” Hughton said last week.
While still threatened, Brighton are not amongst the relegation favourites, as the 21-year-old leads a shrewd list of summer acquisitions.
Brighton 2018/19 preview: The new Pogba, home form and finding goals
After a highly respectable 15th place finish last season, Chris Hughton’s Brighton Hove Albion are now preparing for their second campaign since returning to the Premier League.
Ahead of the 2018/19 campaign, we caught up with Seagulls fan site We Are Brighton to get the low-down on progress made on and off the pitch…
What do you make of your club’s pre-season preparations, both on and off the pitch?
There is normally plenty to grumble about when it comes to Brighton and transfer windows as we tend to leave all our business until the last minute. Not this time around, though.
The club has tried to address the over-reliance on Glenn Murray and Pascal Gross for goals by bringing in attacking players Alireza Jahanbakhsh, Florin Andone and Yves Bissouma for a combined £40 million and we’ve also strengthened an already competent defence.
Off the pitch, chairman Tony Bloom completed the purchase of Belgian second division side Union Saint Gilloise and, while the Albion have said Union will remain completely unrelated to us, it comes at an interesting time as we’ve started signing players who don’t yet qualify for British work permits, such as Percy Tau from South Africa.
Which of your club’s summer signing has you most excited about the new campaign?
According to the LOSC Lille fans we have spoken to, Bissouma could be the new Paul Pogba if he sorts his attitude out.
Monaco were reportedly interested and he has already scored a stunning free kick in a friendly against Birmingham City.
Given that Dale Stephens and Davy Propper – excellent though they were last season – contributed a grand total of zero league goals, a goal scoring central midfielder looked a priority and at £15 million, he could prove to be a bargain.
Who’s your club’s young-player-who-could-make-a-breakthrough this season?
No player has broken through from our academy system since Solly Mach in 2013 and that doesn’t look like changing this year.
Keep an eye on goalkeeper Christian Walton, though, who we have loaned out to Wigan again.
He helped the Latics win League One last season, was one of only three keepers to keep a clean sheet against Manchester City and is so highly rated that it wouldn’t be a surprise if he takes our number one spot from Maty Ryan in 2019/20 after a season picking up more experience as a Championship number one in this campaign.
What will be your club’s biggest factor behind achieving its targets this season?
Home form. Chris Hughton is naturally quite conservative, especially away from home which is why we only won twice and scored 10 times on the road.
Because of that, our form at the Amex has to be strong.
We only lost to one side outside of the top four at home last season and it will need to be a similar story this time around if we are to survive again.
What will be your club’s biggest barrier to achieving its targets this season?
Not scoring enough. When you look at it, the fact we had to rely on 34-year-old Glenn Murray’s goals to stay up makes the achievement even more miraculous.
Murray can’t keep surpassing expectations forever and somebody needs to step up and ease the burden on him.
Hopefully that will be one or two of the new attacking players we’ve bought in, but if they struggle to make an impression in England then we could be in a bit of trouble.
Which club outside yours do you think has done the best business this summer?
Got to be Wolves hasn’t it? Although it is probably a lot easier when you’ve got a Portuguese super agent sending you all his best clients for knockdown fees.
If you had to pick a six-a-side team from your club’s current squad, who would be in it?
Ryan is the most underrated goalkeeper in the Premier League.
Bruno for some flair at the back alongside Lewis Dunk who is good for a goal at either end.
Propper passes the ball beautifully, Jose Izquierdo brings the pace and Pascal Gross the finishing.
Murray misses out as I don’t think he’d be suited to six-a-side. Sorry, Glenn!
Finally, how do you think your team will have done come the end of the 2018/19 season?
Another 15th placed finish, the same as last season. But we’ll be a lot closer to the relegation zone than the seven points clear we were in 2017/18.
Alireza Jahanbakhsh would be a statement of intent for Brighton
Brighton and Hove Albion could be set to sign Alireza Jahanbakhsh as Chris Hughton looks to add another winger to his squad, according to The Argus. The Seagulls have already signed seven players during this close season, with the likes of Yves Bissouma, Bernardo, Florin Andone and Leon Balogun signing among others.
Hughton has wasted no time this summer and that is important if the club continues progressing in the Premier League. The previous seasons highlight the importance of being proactive, as those clubs that aren’t are often involved in relegation battles. Brighton’s main priority will be to stay up, but they are showing ambition and that should be commended.
Their signings to date have been impressive and show the scouting network in place at the club. However, Jahanbakhsh would be the headline arrival if he does arrive at the Amex Stadium.
The Iranian winger has been one of the standout players in the Eredivisie in recent years and he has the potential to be an exciting capture for a Premier League team. He showed flashes of his talent during the World Cup with Iran and he is now ready to test himself at a higher level.
Last season, he finished as the Eredivisie top scorer with 21 goals with one coming every 135 minutes in the competition. In addition to that, he contributed 12 assists and was regularly causing problems for opposition defences.
His feats are even more impressive considering he wasn’t playing for one of the top two teams. That said, his performances allowed AZ Alkmaar to finish above Feyenoord who had won the league as recently as the 2016/17 campaign.
The 24-year-old delivered consistency in the Eredivisie with 4.3 shots, 3.4 dribbles and 2.4 key passes. They are huge attacking numbers and underline the quality that he does possess. Although it is unlikely that he could reproduce these with a team like Brighton, he would represent an upgrade on their current options.
He is best utilised as a right winger with freedom to remain in attacking positions, but he can play anywhere across the forward line.
The space allowed to players like Jahanbakhsh in the Eredivisie helped him deliver the goals and assists that he did. His goal-scoring took the headlines, but his passing range and quality delivery also stood out, as shown by his number of assists. The Iranian is never scared to attempt a high-risk pass.
Jahanbakhsh is a very good player to watch when he has the ball at his feet. He looks to commit defenders and beat them on the dribble with his close ball control and low centre of gravity. At times, his decision making is questionable as he often takes difficult shots, but there is no denying that he creates a lot of problems for defending teams.
This summer is the right time for Jahanbakhsh to make a move to a bigger league and at the age of 24, he would be an incredible addition for Brighton. His upside is huge and there would be potential to sell him on for an even larger fee in the future if he continues to develop at a rapid rate. There has been other reported interest from Leicester City, but the Seagulls will be hopeful of winning the race.
Exclusive: George Williams on his Fulham spell, Euro 2016 and two year ambition
We caught up with the former MK Dons and Fulham prospect, now plying his trade for Forest Green.
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The Forest Green Rovers striker spoke to The Boot Room ahead of the 2018/19 campaign.
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