Alexis Sánchez: What will happen to the Arsenal misfit?


In June Alexis Sánchez contract at Arsenal us up. But what will happen to the Arsenal misfit? Sam May takes a look.

If you believe Pep Guardiola, there was a gentleman’s agreement that he would join the champions elect on a free and thus earn an even bigger wedge per week than he already does.

At Christmas however, it looked like he was on the move early. Perhaps maybe a request from the Chilean to his agent to get him in early at Manchester City and pick up a Premier League winners medal via the back door?

All well and good, not. His demands, the spin off for his agent and Arsenal trying to recoup some the huge money they have lauded on someone who allegedly hit out when it wasn’t going his way, has now put him in the mucky stuff.

Chelsea had a sniff, and Jose Mourinho joined in – no doubt trying to keep up with the “Jones’s” or the Mansours to be precise. By all accounts Manchester United were to meet the sky-high demands to keep him away from City.

With the Sky Blues pulling out, this now leaves only the Red side of Manchester who want to take him and they now want to use Henrikh Mkhitaryan as a make weight. A player who Mourinho has stated, doesn’t have a future at the club much longer. The player himself wants away, but also more than his current £140,000 a week he is currently receiving – despite the fact he isn’t even playing for the Red Devils.

The cash strapped Gunners are not willing to pay off and that could scupper Sánchez going anywhere anytime soon. Arsenal will look to a replacement for Theo Walcott who has joined Everton for £20 million as well as Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, who joined rivals Liverpool.

If it falls through then there is only one option for Arsene Wenger, to put the Chilean misfit in the Gunners Under-23s squad for the remainder of the campaign. Would the true Arsenal fans support that decision? Its highly likely they would. Sánchez and his agent would have themselves to blame if that happened. Who then will take him on in the summer?


Liverpool should look no further than Grêmio’s Arthur to replace Philippe Coutinho


Having sold Philippe Coutinho to Barcelona for £142 million, Liverpool should make a move inform Grêmio midfielder Arthur, writes Sam May.

Riyad Mahrez, Thomas Lemar, Julian Draxler and Manuel Lanzini are just a few names that have been touted to replace the Reds former Brazilian, but making a move for Arthur would be a wise and clever choice by the Reds.

The 21-year-old was only picture wearing a Barcelona shirt before Christmas, causing speculation he was destined for the Camp Nou. He does look set for the Premier League it seems however, with Chelsea, Arsenal and Manchester United all expressing interest. Atlético Madrid had also been keen, but interest has since cooled.

Arthur has drawn comparisons with current Barcelona midfielder Andrés Iniesta, the man Coutinho looks set to replace in Catalonia, due to his exceptional passing, time on the ball, dribbling skills and all round technique.

He has been a key figure for Brazil’s Under 20 side, but is yet to make an appearance for the senior side, despite being called up in September by head coach Tite to face Chile and Bolivia, due to his impressive displays for Grêmio. Even though he has played the majority of the time in the defensive role for his current club, there is no reason why he can’t push forward and adapt into the attacking midfield areas.

Not only would a move to Anfield help the player to secure a place in Brazilian World Cup squad ahead of Russia in a few months time, he would also link up with fellow countryman Roberto Firmino.

Liverpool’s current 26-year-old only tweeted a few days ago saying: “Liverpool is no longer the same without you my magical brother, I wish you infinite success, that you enjoy life and realise all your dreams. It was an honour to play with a magician like you.” A move for Arthur would not only put smiles on Liverpool fans faces, but also Firmino’s face it seems.

Perhaps it would be a risk considering the player would be new to the Premier League, it may take time for him to settle in England and he may not live up to the heights of Coutinho for now – but it sure would be a risk worth taking.

Coutinho’s fellow countryman would certainly be a potential option, but the question is, how long would it take for him to live up to that potential?

Three potential replacements Liverpool could sign should Philippe Coutinho join Barcelona this January


Barcelona are keen to sign the Brazilian and Liverpool will look for a top class replacement should he leave Anfield, writes Sam May.

The transfer saga continues with Coutinho’s future uncertain and the player adamant he has played his last game for the Reds. Liverpool will hope to keep hold of him, but there is no guarantee.

Should the player leave for the Catalan giants, Liverpool will be ready to target his replacement, but who could they go for?


Thomas Lemar (AS Monaco)

Liverpool were keen on the Frenchman Lemar in August, and being hopeful a deal would be struck with Monaco, the player had medical staff waiting for him in Paris. Monaco had sold a number of high profile stars that summer, so it seemed Lemar would be joining them out of the exit door. The 22-year-old however, does still want out and Liverpool could come calling once more.

Lemar can play both wide and central, and would be seen as the perfect option. He has possession and pace but not quite as much creativity at Coutinho.


Manuel Lanzini (West Ham)

Lanzini would be the perfect option for Coutinho and the fact he has Premier League experience would suit the Reds. The 24-year-old is skilful on the ball and can get between the lines. He has been West Ham’s best performer since his arrival in English football and Tottenham were previously linked with the playmaker last summer. He could improve further under Klopp and alongside Liverpool’s attacking players.


Julian Draxler (Paris Saint Germain)

Draxler shone when playing for Wolfsburg, becoming one of Europe’s most inform players, alerting Paris Saint Germain. Now with the French champions, fellow countryman and Reds manager Jürgen Klopp identified the German international last January, as Liverpool eye extra attacking options. Just 12 months on and he is linked yet again with the Reds, having failed to fully launch his career with PSG, completing 90 minutes in just three league games this season. The 24-year-old could play both in the wide and central roles, but his goal scoring would need area for improvement.

Five players Roma could target this January


Roma have been linked with a number of players in recent weeks, despite their sporting director Monchi insisting they are not going to bring in new recruits this January.

The Giallorossi are in fine form under manager Eusebio Di Francesco, and currently sit fifth in Serie A. They also through to the knockout stages of the Champions League having topped a very tough group c.

They lost some key players last summer, with the likes of Mohamed Salah and Antonio Rüdiger moving on, while the additions of Rick Karsdorp, Cengiz Under, Gregoire Defrel and Patrik Schick are still yet to meet their undoubted potential.

Sam May takes a look at five players Roma could target this January…


Lucas Torreira (Sampdoria)

The 21-year-old was a product of Pescara’s academy before going on to make 36 appearances for their first team. During his time in the senior team, he scored five goals and managed one assist. After Leaving Pescara at the end of the 2016 season, he only missed three league matches, featuring in 38 overall. But it was the defensive midfielder’s importance, which was obvious to Marco Giampaolo’s side through his continued presence. The Uruguayan has been hot property this season and has scored three goals in 13 appearances. He would be a perfect addition to the Giallorossi’s engine room and his deal with Sampdoria ends in June 2020. The pass master was also linked with a move to Sevilla, when Roma’s Monchi tried to lure him to Andalusia back in 2015. Despite his €40 million clause in his contract, Roma could still look to prize him away this January.


Riyad Mahrez (Leicester City)

Roma could make a fresh move for Leicester City’s Riyad Mahrez this January. The Italian giants were hot on the heels of the 26-year-old last summer, despite the Foxes make it clear the Algerian was not for sale.

Leicester remained resilient in their efforts to keep hold of the attacking midfielder, despite him handing in a transfer request and the club rejecting a third bid of £32million. Mahrez has since proved Leicester was right and shown glimpses of his best form so far this season. Roma would have to pay close to £45million to lure him away from the King Power Stadium in January. Claude Puel has made it clear he hopes to keep hold of one of his key players, but Leicester’s resolve could be tested again when the window opens next month with Barcelona also keen on his services.


Dani Cabellos (Real Madrid)

Dani Ceballos is a player the Giallorossi have recently been linked with. The 21-year-old made the move to Los Blancos in the summer, following a £17.5million switch from Real Betis. Having failed to nail down a starting birth and becoming a fringe player under Zinedine Zidane. He has started just two La Liga games since his move, sparking rumours Di Francesco could sign him in the January window. Arsenal and Tottenham have also been keeping tabs on the midfielder and could reignite their interest. Monchi is a huge admirer of the Spaniard, and the player is hoping to book a spot in Spain’s World Cup squad but knows only regular first-team football can guarantee that. So Roma believe the player may be open to a departure and may tempt Madrid into a deal with a potential buyback clause.


Arthur (Gremio)

Arthur, 21, has been a revelation this season in the Brazilian championship, helping his side to the conquest of the Copa Libertadores. A buyout clause of £50 million has been interested in his contract, but this won’t put of current suitors, Chelsea, Manchester City, Barcelona and Real Madrid, who are keen to secure his signature. As Brazilian clubs in general can’t match the financial power of European clubs, they have no option to sell the player sooner, rather than later.

He would be a perfect addition in the heart of the Roma midfield. The Giallorossi are desperate for some youthful additions to their squad and the attacking midfielder, who has been dubbed the Brazilian Andrés Iniesta, would be a perfect option for the club. Both Radja Nainggolan, 29, and 34-year-old Daniele De Rossi are not getting any younger, and Roma need to build for the future. By signing Arthur, he would take the burden off both and give Di Francesco an extra option in midfield.


Lucas Vázquez (Real Madrid)

Spanish winger Lucas Vázquez is another player linked with a move to the Stadio Olimpico in January. The 26-year-old, who has also been linked with Newcastle, has not been a regular in Real Madrid’s plans this season. Marco Asensio and Isco will most likely be the first men called off the bench for Zidane, so Vázquez will not have the minutes he needs in order to secure a place in Spain’s 2018 FIFA World Cup squad.

Real Madrid should probably sell the player while there are clubs willing to offer big money for him, just like they did with José Callejón to Napoli back in 2013. That’s the best thing for Vázquez and also for the club, so with Monchi impressed with the winger, Roma could look to swoop for highly rated player.

Who is Amanda Staveley? Newcastle United’s potential new owner profiled


Amanda Staveley is set to become the new owner of Newcastle, with Mike Ashley set to cash out. But who is she? Sam May takes a look…

Staveley, 44, runs PCP Capital Partners and set to replace the outgoing Ashley. The Sports Direct tycoon is expected to cash out and hand over the club to the financier and her mystery backers, for just over £300million.

Following talks in London, it seems the deal for Staveley to take over at Newcastle is almost complete. Involved romantically with Prince Andrew, Duke of York, she met her husband Mehrdad Ghodoussi, when he worked for her company.

The businesswoman has one child, Alexander (Lexi), who she has had with Mr Ghodoussi, and ended up in labour following a business. They also married in 2011, and now work’s between Dubai and their London apartment in Park Lane.

Her company is backed with £28billion in funds from China and the Middle East and she wants to become who of the biggest figures in football. She has an incredible business mind and is no stranger at cutting deals.

Staveley and PCP helped broker Sheikh Mansour’s takeover of Manchester City from Thaksin Shinawatra in 2009. She was initially spotted in the stands at St James’ Park in October when Newcastle took on Liverpool in the Premier League.

Fenway Sports Group had previously rejected an approach from Staveley, who was looking to take a share in Liverpool. It isn’t just football that she is interested in however, she also enjoys horse racing.

She is the daughter on Robert and Lynn Staveley. Her father founded the Lightwater Valley theme park in 1969 while her grandfather, Ralph, was successful running a betting business and, later, Doncaster dog racing track.

Staveley attended Queen Margaret’s School in York and had a keen interest in sports. She left school at 16 and took her A-levels in a single year before being accepted into Cambridge’s St Catharine’s College to read modern languages.

After packing in her degree, Staveley took out a £180,000 loan to open the restaurant Stocks between Cambridge and Newmarket. With no formal training, she “lived and breathed business and banking” both studying for her future roles in the city and working as a waitress. Opening her Newmarket restaurant in the Middle East it is here where she started to make her money. She was then named Businesswoman of the Year in 2000.

But after selling a 49 per cent stake to EuroTelecom, a company which flopped in the collapse of the Dotcom boom, but after buying back her stake in Q.ton in a complicated deal the company failed.

She will join Southamton’s Katharina Liebherr, West Ham’s Karren Brady and Ann Budge of Hearts in becoming one football’s prominent women figures.

Three strikers Everton could target in January


Sam Allardyce is looking to bolster his attacking options this January

The newly appointed Everton manager has made it clear he is looking to add firepower to his team and strengthen his forward line, having claimed the Blues failed to replace Romelu Lukaku last summer.

Troy Denney is a name that has been mentioned already, but who else could they target? Sam May takes a look…


Christian Benteke (Crystal Palace)

The Toffees could make a move for the former Liverpool forward Christian Benteke having worked with the Belgium international during his short spell at Crystal Palace. Benteke, 27, has failed to score so far this season, having made 10 appearances, but re-uniting with Sam Allardyce could kick start his season.

He is your old fashioned centre forward and right now that is what Everton need, somebody to put the ball into the back of the net. They are lacking goals and have scored just 18 in total, having let Lukaku join Manchester United in the summer window for a fee that could rise to £90 million.

Under Allardyce, Benteke netted 17 times in total helping the Eagles to avoid relegation, so a move to Goodison Park would certainly be a perfect option for player, manager and club. The fact he has proven Premier League experience could also be a factor for director of football Steve Walsh and Big Sam to consider.


Jermaine Defoe (Bournemouth)

Defore, 35, would be seen as a temporary option until the end of the season. He has netted just once this campaign, his goal coming against Brighton back in September to roll back the years, when he first scored for the Cherries as a teenager in 2001.

When Allardyce took the experienced striker to Sunderland from Toronto FC, not only did he score 34 goals in two seasons, but also got an England re-call. Clearly, he likes working under Big Sam. He has found game time hard to come by on the South Coast, so a loan move away could well be on the cards.


Danny Ings (Liverpool)

The third option is not as controversial as you might think. He could – and it would be a great move for all concerned, to go for a loan move for the Reds 25-year-old forward. Now before you KOP diehards go crazy, think about it. Ings is the forgotten striker in the Premier League.

He is wasted in the Reds under-23 side and is way down the first team pecking order behind Mohammed Salah, Roberto Firmino, Sadio Mane, Daniel Sturridge and Dominic Solanke. True, the Reds have been loyal and patient with his injury problems, but his open market stock value is at an all time low.

The player needs first-team football and is happy to be on Merseyside, training each day. A loan move across Stanley Park can only be good for both sides. His value would increase, and the Reds could cash in this summer – maybe with a permanent move to the Toffees.

No doubt he could help keep the Blues up and that keeps the Derby clashes alive. After all, who on the Kop would relish a derby against Stoke under the lights at Anfield over the Toffees? Or if you’re a Gladys Street true Blue, the same against Preston North End or Bolton Wanderers over the Reds – it just doesn’t cut the mustard. Big Sam won’t be afraid to call Jürgen Klopp, and if the call comes, let’s hope it’s a positive for the player and both our city clubs.

James Tarkowski: Burnley defender has exceeded expectations at Turf Moor


Burnley fans will have been worried when losing Michael Keane to Everton last summer. But the transformation of once bit part player James Tarkowski has been incredible, writes Sam May.

The 25-year-old was tasked of filling the boots of Michael Keane and he has done just that. Tarkowski’s meteoric rise in Sean Dyche’s back line has made all the difference for the Clarets in 2017.

His defensive presence is there to see and was most evident earlier on in the season when Burnley defeat Crystal Palace 1-0 when Frank De Boer was in charge of the Eagles. He managed to muscle out Christian Benteke and keep him quiet all game, claiming the man of the match award.

The defender yet again shown his authority and helped Burnley to a 1-1 draw at Anfield, despite the Reds 71% possession and 35 shots on target. He commanded his area and stood up to the task.

Tarkowski has the 2nd most defensive clearances per game (8.8) and the most shots blocked per game (1.7). He is also in the top ten among qualifying central defenders in total successful tackles (16) and interceptions (15) in the Premier League this season. He has made 74 clearances, more than any other central defender and 15 blocks.

A bargain buy from Brentford in February 2016, he has proved to be one of the best buys in the clubs history. After losing Keane to Everton, the question remained whether or not Burnley would use their lump sum for Keane to fill the opening in central defence. Instead, they built around the heart of the defence with purchases at left and right back along with the acquisition of Jack Cork to sit in a defensive midfield position.

Tarkowski’s growth will only continue under manager Sean Dyche. So how long will it be before he finally gets an England call-up?