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Manchester United

Manchester United and Tottenham stars break the mould of the ‘modern midfielder’

Mousa Dembele and Paul Pogba are often criticised for not scoring more goals.

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Tottenham
Photo: Getty Images

Goals win games. This fact makes them the most coveted commodity in football.

Teams will pay players 100 times their weight in gold in modern football if that player can fire in 20-30 goals a season.

As tactics and strategies become more complex and players are required to be able to perform multiple jobs simultaneously, the player who occupies the most diverse position on the pitch, the midfielder, is under increasing pressure to perform these tasks.

Goals are becoming an increasingly important metric in gauging their performance levels and value.

Is it accurate to use goals to measure the performance levels of every midfielder, though?

Or should fans be more considerate of specific midfielders roles in their respective sides before making sweeping statements about their ability based on a single metric?

Goal scoring vs non-goal scoring midfielders

Modern football has seen the rise of players who deal mainly in goals.

The likes of Frank Lampard, Yaya Toure and Steven Gerrard in previous years and the rise of the likes of Aaron Ramsey and Dele Alli has seen the modern fan begin to view midfielders as players capable of achieving 15+ goals in a season.

Some of these players are. However, the players who do are usually given the greatest level of freedom.

Manchester United midfielder Paul Pogba had been lambasted by critics for going 21 games without a goal, a period stretching to around November.

This stat has divided opinion, with many using it as a evidence of the Frenchman’s supposed failings since rejoining the Manchester side.

Despite the fact that Paul Pogba plays predominantly as a central midfielder for a defensive coach, many critics have sneered at his goal return and labelled him an overpriced flop, following his £89 million transfer from Juventus.

However, Pogba has scored five times in the Premier League this season, putting him third in the rankings for Premier League top goal scoring central midfielders.

The top scoring central midfielder has only two more goals than the Frenchman, so either every central midfielder in England is having a bad season or their role makes it difficult for them to achieve high goal tallies.

Tottenham midfielder Moussa Dembele is another player who has come under increasing scrutiny for his lack of goals.

The Belgian has not recorded a single Premier League goal contribution this season. However, he plays a very defensive role.

Dembele’s primary responsibilities are to provide defensive protection and aiding his team in the transition between defence and attack.

The Belgian was widely heralded following his performances against Juventus where he dominated the midfield and helped Tottenham to secure a foothold in the game.

Dembele has performed like this, in the same role, consistently over the past three seasons.

Prior to the Juventus game, however, whenever Dembele received praise it was followed by the usual chorus of, “but he doesn’t score enough goals”.

Dembele plays in an already attacking side with striker Harry Kane winning back-to-back golden boots and more advanced players, in Dele Alli and Christian Eriksen, also recording double digits last season.

For the Tottenham team, Dembele’s power and dribbling is more important to them than his goal-scoring prowess.

As football fans and critics, alike, begin to judge footballers on stats rather than with their eyes, the importance of the most trusted stat of all, goals scored, will grow in importance, while other attributes will likely take a back seat.

Dele Alli and Aaron Ramsey are always going to score more goals than Dembele and Pogba for the simple reason it is their jobs to do just that.

Critics should take the time to take player’s roles and responsibilities in their respective teams into account before making comparisons.

Everton

One winner and loser as Everton close in on move for Kurt Zouma

Everton have had a terrific deadline day.

Liam Thomas

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Zouma
Photo: Getty Images

Everton are closing in on a season-long loan deal for Chelsea defender Kurt Zouma, according to L’Equipe.

The French international was also reportedly being chased by Manchester United. However, it seems the Merseyside club have won the race for his signature.

Zouma suffered relegation heartache while he was on loan at Stoke City last season and will be hoping to avoid the same fate with Marco Silva’s Everton side in the 2018/19 Premier League campaign.

(Photo by Lynne Cameron/Getty Images)

Winner – Everton’s defence

Everton’s defence last season was at times shambolic, and the addition of Zouma will no doubt shore things up for the Toffees, especially if he strikes up a strong and stable partnership with another of the club’s deadline day signings, Yerry Mina.

If Zouma can display some of the talent that has seen his parent club Chelsea offer him a deal until 2023 and Mina can reproduce the form he showed playing for Columbia at this summer’s World Cup, a partnership between the Frenchman and Colombian has the potential to be something great.

Everton fans will be over the moon with their deadline day heroics, and the new Premier League campaign promises to be an exciting one for them.

(Photo by Matthew Peters/Man Utd via Getty Images)

Loser – Manchester United

It has been a deadline day to forget if you are a Manchester United fan, and nothing seems to be going right for Jose Mourinho’s side this summer, with many promised signings falling through.

Reports suggested United would go head to head with Everton to capture Zouma for the season, but it appears Mourinho has lost out again.

It seems Zouma will be the final nail in the deadline day coffin for the Red Devils, and it looks as if they will not end up signing anyone before the 5 pm deadline.

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Manchester United

Manchester United 2018/19 preview: Lukaku’s goals, centre-back signing and unhappy Mourinho

The Boot Room

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Photo: Getty Images

After a second placed finish in the Premier League, Jose Mourinho will be desperate for his Manchester United side to close the gap on champions City this term.

Ahead of the 2018/19 campaign, we caught up with fan site Stretty News 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?

All you need to do is listen to Jose Mourinho and he is not happy, and understandably so, really.

Ed Woodward hasn’t delivered the targets that the United boss set out at the start of summer and that causes a big problem because the club finished 19 points behind Manchester City last season.

You would have thought that with the squad Mourinho had available to him that they would make some big additions to try and narrow that gap.

Off the pitch, the mood isn’t good and that makes it very difficult to be optimistic ahead of the new season. At the same time, you do not want your manager to be talking rubbish.

Although Mourinho is being down beat he is probably just being realistic.

These young players go out on tour with Pep Guardiola’s City and Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool and both managers really big them up, explaining how well they’ve done on tour.

That’s all well and good, but are they actually going to work with them during the season when he has to win Premier League matches and compete in the Premier League?

In that sense, I just see Mourinho as being more realistic. I would much rather him say what he actually thinks, rather than making grand statements just to please fans.

Which of your club’s summer signing has you most excited about the new campaign?

Fred is an exciting signing and I’m really look forward to seeing what he can bring to the team. From what I’ve seen, he looks busy. A box-to-box midfielder who will compliment Paul Pogba and Nemanja Matic nicely.

Lee Grant has impressed on tour. He looks decent, as a back up option, but no more than that. You would like to think that his professionalism will spread amongst the camp because he is a senior player. The likes of Marcus Rashford could really benefit from being around that.

I don’t think many people know much about Diogo Dalot as he only played eight times for FC Porto’s first team. It’s very hard to judge him based on that.

(Photo by Boris Streubel/Getty Images)

Who’s your club’s young-player-who-could-make-a-breakthrough this season?

Andreas Pereira has just come back from Valencia on loan. He didn’t have the greatest time over in Spain but he has been a stand-out player on tour.

I spoke to someone quite close to Pereira, who admitted that his development in the last year hasn’t been quite as expected. There were fears that he wouldn’t be good enough for Manchester United.

But he came on tour and he’s been playing in a deeper role due to a lack of midfielders. I watched him as a youngster and he always played across the attacking midfield positions.

Given the injuries at the club and the breaks players are on because of the World Cup, I think Pereira will start the season for United and it is a great opportunity for him in that deep midfield role.

What will be your club’s biggest factor behind achieving its targets this season?

We have to get Romelu Lukaku scoring more goals in the league but at the same time we cannot be so over-reliant on the Belgian and we need to see goals coming from elsewhere in the team.

Alexis Sanchez has been another stand-out player on tour. He looks hungry, more like the player we know from Arsenal. If he hits the ground running this season he is someone who can win games on his own – that will be a massive factor.

Some of the big names need to start standing up and being counted. They need to start becoming the players that Manchester United signed, rather than allowing writers, like, us to make excuses for them, for example ‘oh, they’re still settling in’ or ‘they haven’t got the players to accommodate them’.

This is the year the jigsaw has to come together.

What will be your club’s biggest barrier to achieving its targets this season?

This coming week. What I put that down to is how the club conduct themselves in the transfer market.

In the past, Jose Mourinho has always liked to have his deals done early, to get the most out of pre-season. The club didn’t vote for the transfer market to close earlier and, that, along with the World Cup has made the summer so difficult.

Before the end of the week the club need to bring a centre-back in and I they also need a right-sided winger. Toby Alderweireld and Willian would be perfect and they are definitely in reach.

(Photo by Simon Stacpoole/Offside/Getty Images)

Which club outside yours do you think has done the best business this summer?

It is going to have to be Liverpool and it’s about time. Some of the additions, such as that of a goalkeeper have been a long time coming. It shouldn’t have taken a year to upgrade on Loris Karius and Simon Mignolet but it did and it ultimately cost them in their biggest game of the season.

Klopp’s business since he has arrived at Liverpool has been efficient. He has signed good players, make no mistake about that. However, the Champions League final was completely turned on its head by the mistake of not signing a new ‘keeper last summer.

It says a lot that Alisson Becker starts ahead of Ederson for Brazil, a player, for me, who was just below David de Gea in terms of his performances last season. He is a very, very good goalkeeper.

If you had to pick a six-a-side team from your club’s current squad, who would be in it?

Finally, how do you think your team will have done come the end of the 2018/19 season?

Realistically, I do not see Manchester United winning the title. As things stand, I think they will scrape third or fourth place, overtaken by Liverpool.

I’m interested to see how Chelsea do under Maurizio Sarri, which is very different to the style of Mourinho. It is more adaptive to the way the Premier League is moving, focusing on attacking football and pressing. If they hit the ground running, they could be in trouble.

The said, if United get the right centre back in – which I think is Alderweirel – and if they can sign a right-sided winger – because last season the team was too unbalanced and, therefore, very predictable – all while avoiding too many injuries, they could shock people.

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Leicester City

Leicester City’s Harry Maguire should try and dodge Manchester United move

Harry Maguire was the name on every England fan’s lips during the 2018 World Cup.

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Maguire
Photo: Getty Images

Leicester City central defender Harry Maguire rose to fame at this summer’s World Cup with a series of fine performances as England defied the odds and reached the last four in Russia.

The Sheffield-born defender was a vitally important part of Gareth Southgate’s team during the tournament and after returning to England with a warm welcome, talk has turned towards his availability in the transfer market.

Naturally the ex-Sheffield United man has seen his stock rise following his no-nonsense displays and, according to the Manchester Evening News, Manchester United are currently keen on potentially signing England’s star defender.

Of course, the Foxes will be desperately keen to keep the former Sheffield United man within their squad and it is likely to take a mammoth bid to even remotely entice them into a sale, but Maguire himself should think extremely carefully about making any switch to Old Trafford.

(Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

At the King Power Stadium the 25-year-old is a star attraction and one of the first names on Claude Puel’s team-sheet and that should count for a lot when he comes to thinking about how he wants his career to progress.

Maguire has played around 60 Premier League games during his career to date and he is still learning his trade. Would it really be a wise move to go and play for a manager Jose Mourinho, given his derogatory comments on the current youngsters at Manchester United this week?

Since Leicester won the Premier League in 2016 they have lost the likes of Danny Drinkwater, N’Golo Kante and this summer Riyad Mahrez to the bigger clubs and they won’t want to make the same mistake with Maguire.

The East Midlands-based side need to ensure they pull out all the stops to secure Maguire’s future at the club and a new contract for the England man wouldn’t go a miss. Regardless of whether the defender sees his future at Leicester or not, he should definitely think twice about going to play for Manchester United, and perhaps more so, Mourinho.

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