Tottenham Hotspur have had a low-key transfer window thus far, with just two new names walking through the door at White Hart Lane, namely Victor Wanyama and Vincent Janssen.
However, despite the arrival of Wanyama, well known throughout his time at both Southampton and Celtic as a thoroughly effective midfield destroyer, Spurs have still been linked with another central defensive midfield player and have reportedly been offered the chance to sign France international midfielder Lassana Diarra on a free transfer.
Diarra, who has also been offered to Manchester United according to the same report, has played for near neighbours Arsenal and Chelsea, as well as Real Madrid and also Portsmouth, where he won the FA Cup. He impressed for Marseille last season, despite the French club’s disappointing campaign, and can leave on a free as a result of a clause in his contract relating to European competition.
The Frenchman is a proven performer at a high level, representing some of Europe’s top clubs with real diligence, even if just as a backup player. He managed to force his way back into the France squad last season, although he missed out on a place in the Euros squad. His ability to break up play make him a good asset to a squad, especially on a free transfer. He would not be ahead of Eric Dier or Wanyama, especially at 31, but if Pochettino needs a backup option in midfield, then he could do a lot worse than Diarra.
Elsewhere in the Spurs midfield, the sale of Alex Pritchard to Brighton & Hove Albion may have taken a significant twist as Norwich City look set to hijack the signing. Brighton bid £8 million for Pritchard, which was accepted, but the Canaries have now matched the offer and are confident of securing a deal for the 23-year-old.
Pritchard, who has made just two senior appearances for Spurs, but is an experienced player at Championship level after a string of loan moves, would be a replacement for Nathan Redmond, now at Southampton, in midfield and would add a certain amount of quality to the canaries midfield.
Although he never really looked good enough for a regular place in the Spurs team, Pritchard certainly carries talent in abundance, and although the price is steep at £8 million, will add plenty of creativity to the Norwich City side. A good deal for all.
Finally, Spurs have been linked with a new goalkeeper recently, in the shape of 21-year-old Espanyol stopper Pau Lopez.
Lopez, who has made 38 La Liga appearances for Espanyol, is massively admired by Mauricio Pochettino, who may be looking for a new secondary keeper to replace 32-year-old Michel Vorm. As a youngster with plenty of game time under his belt already, Lopez may just fit the bill perfectly for Spurs.
Tottenham have yet to make a bid, and Espanyol are keen to hang onto the player, but Pochettino’s determination to sign Lopez as a long-term replacement for Lloris could swing the deal. One to watch over the coming weeks.
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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.
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