Ajax’s star play-maker Hakim Ziyech was in action for Morocco today against Portugal, and has exited the World Cup thanks to a goal from the competition’s leading goal-scorer Cristiano Ronaldo. But, despite the result, Ziyech made a good account of himself, and potential suitors will be really impressed.
West Ham were touted among the English teams really interested in the player this summer, along with Everton and Liverpool and will likely step up their interest after his impressive performance. The 25-year-old stood out among his team-mates and spearheaded a number of sustained attacks against Portugal.
His set piece delivery was undoubtedly the best seen in the competition thus far, and he could have had a hat-trick of assists if Juventus defender Medhi Benatia hadn’t spurned his chances. He also came close to burying an equaliser minutes from time, but Pepe’s last-ditch block denied him the plaudits his performance deserved, after he sat the fullback down with a brilliant feint.
Manuel Pellegrini has been looking to land Felipe Anderson for weeks now with little resolve, as Lazio are throwing up stumbling blocks as soon as progress is made, and the Italian’s are now reportedly asserting that West Ham pay £35 million, with a 20% sell-on-fee inserted, according to the Mirror.
The Hammers would perhaps be better served to intensify their pursuit of Ziyech then, as the midfielder has all the attributes to become the next Dimitri Payet at the London Stadium, and fits the mould of player the Chilean boss is looking for to build his attacking dynasty in east London.
Tottenham blow as Bayern Munich enter race for Matthijis de Ligt
Tottenham have been looking to land the player for weeks.
Tottenham have recieved a blow in their pursuit of Ajax’s defensive protege Matthijs de Ligt, as German champions Bayern Munich have reportedly entered the race for his signature, with superstar defender Jerome Boateng potentially leaving this summer, according to Sport Bild.
The 18-year-old has emerged as a target for the Bavarians after breaking into Ajax’s first team squad, bagging five goals and earning seven caps for the Netherlands international team in the last year. And the club believe de Ligt has the talent to replace their star defender for the years ahead.
Bayern chief Karl-Heinz Rummenigge revealed that Bayern would listen to offers for Boateng, prior to Germany’s opening World Cup clash against Mexico, in quotes via Bavarian Football Works.
Mauricio Pochettino has been looking to land the teenager’s signature for weeks, with TuttoMercatoWeb claiming that the club came close to convincing Ajax to part with an offer of £48 million. Although a deal never gathered traction as the club demanded £52.5 million.
Spurs are still far from in the clear over Toby Alderweireld‘s situation, with Manchester United likely to continue negotiations for the 29-year-old after the World Cup, and de Ligt is seen as the primary replacement, given Pochettino’s previous record of nurturing talent from the Eredivisie giants.
Could this Ajax duo be a suitable alternative to Mamadou Sakho at Crystal Palace?
The Frenchman has been frozen out of the first team picture at Anfield since the summer of 2016 with Jurgen Klopp making it abundantly clear that he is not part of his rebuilding plans.
Crystal Palace brought in Sakho on a short-term loan in January as the club battled against relegation and the 30-year-old’s consistent performances in central defence played a pivotal role in The Eagles securing survival.
A knee ligament injury curtailed his spell at Selhurst Park, but the club hierarchy were optimistic of sealing a permanent deal in the summer.
However, Liverpool have set a £30 million asking price for Sakho and are unwilling to drop their valuation of the player.
Talks have taken place between the two clubs but Crystal Palace are unwilling to invest such a large portion of their transfer budget on one purchase, with new manager Frank de Boer confident that he can recruit up to five players for the same amount of money.
That has prompted the London club to consider alternative options.
Frank de Boer faces a significant rebuilding task as he heads into the start of pre-season with a Crystal Palace squad that only just escaped relegation in the last campaign and has seen a multitude of departures.
The Eagles have released Fraizer Campbell, Joe Ledley, Mathieu Flamini, Jonathan Benteke and Zeki Fryers whilst Mamadou Sakho and Loic Remy have returned to their parent clubs following the conclusion of their loan deals.
This has left the current squad looking short of quality and strength in depth with de Boer, although keen to assess the players that he has inherited before dipping into the transfer market, aware that he will have to bring in a host of new faces. With a deal for Sakho looking increasingly unlikely the Dutch coach is looking to widen the search for reinforcements.
The Guardian are suggesting that Ajax defensive pair Joel Veltman and Kenny Tete have been earmarked by de Boer as potential defensive targets as he attempts to construct a more youthful team.
De Boer handed Veltman his first team debut at Ajax five years ago after promoting him from the club’s youth academy and is confident that his existing reputation with the player will help to finalise a potential deal.
The 25-year-old defender, who is equally as capable playing as a fullback or central defender, has made 17 appearances for Dutch national team whilst his performances have attracted the interest of a number of high-profile clubs, including Tottenham Hotspur, as reported by the Standard.
His current contract is due to expire at the end of the season and Ajax are expected to cash-in to avoid losing Veltman for free in twelve months’ time.
Meanwhile, Tete has been granted permission to miss Ajax’s pre-season training camp in Austria to hold talks with other clubs regarding a potential transfer. The 21-year-old has cemented his place as one of Holland’s brightest, young attacking fullbacks and has already made six appearances for the Dutch national team.
De Boer also handed Tete his first team debut whilst manager at Ajax.
Is a move likely?
Frank de Boer is keen to build a team based on youth, energy and enthusiasm at Crystal Palace and it appears that he will continue his philosophy of buying and developing talent rather than investing heavily in experienced, big-name players.
The club’s decision to pull out of negotiations for Mamadou Sakho suggests that their new Dutch manager believes that he can get better value for money elsewhere, with Joel Veltman and Kenny Tete at the top of his wish-list.
Both players are being courted by a number of clubs across Europe but de Boer is confident that his existing relationship with the pair can convince them to move to Selhurst Park. The Dutchman handed Veltman and Tete their first team debuts whilst managing Ajax and is fully aware of their ability and potential.
The pair are expected to depart Ajax during the summer with Tete being granted permission to talk to other clubs whilst Veltman has less than one year remaining on his current deal. Crystal Palace believe that they can secure their signatures for around £10 million and believe that this would be a much more effective investment when compared to the £30 million that Liverpool are demanding for Sakho.
The real challenge for de Boer would be to convince Veltman and Tete to join Crystal Palace rather than a more glamorous European club.
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Can Davy Klaassen and Sandro Ramirez replace the goals of Romelu Lukaku for Everton?
It is believed that Everton are close to securing the transfers of two of Europe’s most promising attacking talents. The Guardian have reported that a deal for Malaga striker Sandro Ramirez is close to completion after the 21-year-old arrived in Liverpool at the weekend for talks.
The ex-Barcelona forward was wanted by Spanish giants Atletico Madrid. However, Everton look set to benefit from the transfer ban recently handed to Diego Simeone’s side. The Toffees are also fortunate that Ramirez has a release clause in his contract of just €6 million – a fraction of what they hope to recoup from the sale of Romelu Lukaku.
Given the impending departure of the Belgian – who is yet to announce his next club – and the release of Arouna Kone, it is no surprise that Everton are trying to secure the Spaniard’s services.
Lukaku will leave behind an enormous, 25 goal shaped hole in Ronald Koeman’s attack – around 40% of their league goals last season. Yet Ramirez, who turns 22 next month, looks capable of replacing a sizeable chunk of that return.
In his first, and what looks set to be his only season with Malaga, he netted 16 times in 31 appearances, scoring once every 165 minutes in La Liga. The man he is due to replace needed just 130 minutes per goal.
If Ramirez can replicate those numbers in the Premier League then he will be a bargain. At Malaga, he performed within a mid-table side who are less competitive than Everton are in England and found the net against Sevilla, Atletico Madrid and Barcelona, whilst showing off his varied abilities. 14 La Liga goals included superb free-kicks, long-range drives, headers and impressive solo efforts.
The other player potentially heading for Goodison Park is Ajax captain Davy Klaassen. At just 24 years of age, the playmaker has won Eredivisie titles, led his side to a Europa League final and was directly involved in 32 goals over 50 appearances last campaign (20 goals 12 assists).
Having been at the club since 2004 and rising through Ajax’s famed youth system, the attacking midfielder holds a much higher price tag of around £26 million – according to Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf. The paper has reported that the two clubs are in talks over a deal.
Everton have been unable to resolve the ongoing contract situation with Ross Barkley who has stalled on signing the offered extension. Klaassen would be a worthy replacement for the Englishman if he should depart.
As seen in the past, signing players from the Netherlands can be risky – Vincent Janssen and Luis Suarez provide perfect examples of the hit and miss nature. Klaassen has the advantage of recent international caps, scoring four in 14 for Oranje, but his productivity rate for Ajax saw a notable decline in European football compared to his Eredivisie form – in the Europa League, he needed three times the number of minutes per goal.
However, Koeman scouted his compatriot frequently throughout the season and has a respectable record with transfers – he will know what to expect.
With Everton holding out for £100 million for Lukaku, as talkSPORT reported, spending less than a third of it on Ramirez and Klaassen would be smart business. The transfers would assist in rebuilding from the loss of their best player and allow funds for further acquisitions.
Koeman could build a more complete squad, ensuring the Toffees are not dependent on a single player. improving the side’s depth will be crucial considering the club’s return to the Europa League.
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