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Tottenham should target Mario Lemina as long-term Mousa Dembele replacement

The Lilywhites should begin planning for life after the Belgian international.

Jake Jackman

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Mario Lemina
Photo: Getty Images

The upcoming summer is going to be important for every top-six team for different reasons and they will all be looking to compete for the title.

Tottenham have been on the brink of achieving something special under Mauricio Pochettino. They have established themselves as a regular Champions League team and have played some excellent football, but they have yet to deliver a title challenge from post to post and that is their next challenge.

Throughout his time in North London, Pochettino has been reluctant to spend big money on a ready-made world-class player. The Argentine prefers to sign potential and mould a player in his own image. This summer, he will need to strengthen his squad once again as he lacks depth in a couple of positions.

One area of the pitch that he will look to add reinforcements is central midfield. Mousa Dembele has been the star in that position, but he is now 30 and he can’t be expected to play every match across all competitions.

Meanwhile, Victor Wanyama has only played 14 times in the Premier League and seems out of favour with Pochettino. Eric Dier and Harry Winks are both good options, but neither have pushed on in the way that Tottenham would have hoped.

There is a lot of quality in the middle of the park at Tottenham, but there haven’t been two players to make the positions their own. The answer to their midfield problems could come from an unlikely place.

Southampton have been a good stepping stone club since their return to the Premier League and, despite their impending relegation, they could have one more jewel worth pursuing.

(Photo by Warren Little/Getty Images)

Mario Lemina has had a mixed first season in England, but there is no doubting his quality in midfield areas. The Gabon international arrived from Juventus and it was considered a coup at the time. He may not have thrived in the manner many expected, but it has been tough to shine in a team battling relegation.

He is a similar midfielder to Dembele in many aspects. Lemina is very effective at winning possession and he is comfortable with the ball at his feet. The 24-year-old averages 2.3 dribbles per game, which is only fractionally lower than the 2.5 managed by the Tottenham midfielder.

Considering Lemina is playing his first season in a new country, this is an encouraging stat and suggests he can become the powerful ball-carrier that Dembele has been in recent seasons. In terms of regaining possession, the Southampton man averages 2.1 tackles won and 1.48 interceptions per ninety minutes.

This is superior to Dembele, who averages 1.14 tackles won and 1.48 interceptions per ninety minutes. There are times when players are stained by a relegation, but the stats underline the impact that Lemina has had on games since arriving in England and in a better team, he could be a revelation.

Southampton are not going to be in a strong negotiating position if they are relegated, as expected. Despite their struggles this season, they have a lot of quality in their squad and there won’t be a shortage of takers for a lot of their players.

Lemina is the standout in their squad and his experience with Juventus means that he has the mentality to step up to one of the top six clubs. He looks a perfect fit for Tottenham and would be a great long-term replacement for Dembele.

Jake is a journalist based in the South East. He is a Newcastle United fan and has a keen interest in Dutch football. Jake can be found on Twitter here - @jakejackmann.

Liverpool

How Liverpool fans reacted to signing of Roma’s Alisson Becker

Liverpool have been in the market for a goalkeeper throughout this transfer window.

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Alisson
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Premier League giants Liverpool made a real statement of intent on Thursday evening when they completed the signing of Brazilian goalkeeper Alisson Becker who arrives at Anfield from Roma.

The Daily Mail confirmed the £65 million deal late last night and it is a move that is sure to send a message to the rest of the top flight with the Reds seemingly meaning business when it comes to challenging for the title next season.

It has been a well courted situation that boss Jurgen Klopp has been in the market for a new custodian following high profile errors by current stoppers Simon Mignolet and Loris Karius during last season.

The German boss has finally got his man and the real pressure is now on the Reds’ boss who, following a glut of new arrivals, is now under pressure to deliver some much needed silverware to the football club.

The Brazilian number one kept 17 clean sheets for the Serie A outfit last term and was an instrumental part of Roma’s team that reached the semi-final of the Champions League before losing out to Liverpool over two legs.

As with any transfer deal, the world of Twitter has reacted and TBR Football looked at exactly what some Liverpool fans were saying about this deal…

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Crystal Palace

The media obsession with Crystal Palace’s Wilfried Zaha should be ignored

The winger is being heavily linked with a move away from Selhurst Park.

Max Cohen

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Wilfried Zaha
Photo: Getty Images

Ask any Crystal Palace fan their least favourite part of the summer, and one answer will stand out: the endless media obsession about the future of Wilfried Zaha.

After further reports in The Times, Mirror, and The Sun linking the Ivory Coast international with a move away from Selhurst Park, Palace supporters should tune out the noise and focus on the facts of the matter.

Zaha is currently under contract at Selhurst Park, having signed a five-year deal just over a year ago. Despite the rumoured interest from the likes of Everton, Tottenham Hotspur, and Borussia Dortmund, Crystal Palace hold all the cards in the situation.

And, to add to their strong position, manager Roy Hodgson has made it very clear he has no intention of selling the winger when speaking to football.london last week:

“What people seem to forget with Wilf is he has got a four-year contract. There is speculation every year around Messi and Ronaldo too. He is our player for the next four years and the club has got no interest or desire to sell him.”

(during the Premier League match between Crystal Palace and West Bromwich Albion at Selhurst Park on May 13, 2018 in London, England.

This strong statement from the Palace manager is the only thing that holds significance with regards to the Zaha saga. At the end of the day, there can be as much speculation and interest from clubs as possible, but if the club is not willing to sell then the player will stay put.

Additionally, the reports that Zaha is unsettled at Palace seem like nothing more than sensational claims. This is a player who expressed his love for the fans and the club as recently as April, talking to the Eagles’ official website after a win against Brighton.

“Crystal Palace is my home town and the support we have here is genuine support with families watching with their kids loving us as players so I don’t really see myself anywhere else.”

In all, one must focus on what is relevant in the Wilfried Zaha transfer saga: the actual words of the figures involved.

With Zaha expressing his happiness and Hodgson making it clear no sale is forthcoming, the media obsession over the winger’s Selhurst Park exit appears unfounded.

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Liverpool

Liverpool fans should ignore Jurgen Klopp’s claims that spending has ended

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Photo: Getty Images.

Speaking after confirming the signing of Alisson Becker, Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp stated that he does not expect the club to make any further signings this summer despite ongoing speculation.

Exits are expected with doubts surrounding several members of the squad who may depart Merseyside in the remaining few weeks of the summer transfer window, but the German was clear that he is not looking for many signings.

Yet there may still be reasons for Liverpool fans to believe that Klopp could turn out to be wrong with his assumption.

“We have everything that we need for the next season, I don’t think that we will do any more (signings), I’m pretty sure…”

Jurgen Klopp made the claim after the signing of Alisson was confirmed.

The immediate reaction was, perhaps surprisingly, one of disappointment with many fans thinking of one man in particular in the form of Nabil Fekir.

Negotiations broke down in June before the World Cup and had gone quiet, though Dominic King of the Daily Mail claimed that the deal was dead in the water, despite coming only 24 hours after Dean Jones of Bleacher Report suggested that talks had begun again.

News that Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain will miss all of the 2018/19 campaign with a number of knee ligament injuries has sparked fears about the lack of depth in attacking midfield, with no real replacement having been found for Philippe Coutinho.

(Photo credit should read FRANCK FIFE/AFP/Getty Images)

It is worth remembering that only a week ago the Liverpool Echo said that Klopp was public with his desire to give Danny Ward a shot as number one, yet seven days later he is on his way to Leicester City after a fee was agreed, according to Sky Sports.

Klopp is no stranger to playing with the media and will do whatever he can to strengthen his club’s negotiating hand, yet fans could be forgiven for retaining hope of a deal for Fekir.

What may affect the reality is whether or not Olympique Lyonnais are prepared to sell this summer, as the Reds showed last summer that they would prefer to wait for their man rather than shop for alternatives, with a move for Virgil Van Dijk being dragged over into the next window.

Either way, Liverpool fans can have little to complain about the dealings that have been done in this summer’s transfer window with Naby Keita, Fabinho, Xherdan Shaqiri and Alisson Becker all having arrived.

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