King Power’s Kramaric on Sampdoria radar

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Sampdoria are interested in a move for Leicester City striker Andre Kramaric, according to Sam May.

Kramaric, 24, was signed by former Foxes boss Nigel Pearson for a then club record fee of £9 million from HNK Rijeka last January.

The Croatian International has endured a difficult and frustrating time sign joining Claudio Ranieri’s side and has found himself back up to Jamie Vardy, Riyad Mahrez and Leandro Ulloa. He has only made the substitutes bench twice this season.

The 5ft 10, former Dinamo Zagreb youth player has been described as a versatile striker who is mobile enough to run behind defences and rather than waiting for crosses or ball to come to him, tends to run towards the ball, engulfing his opposition with an air of unpredictability about his play. Although naturally a lone striker, his versatility makes him able to play well as winger or second striker. His former national team coach Niko Kovac compared him with Croatian legendary striker Davor Suker.

The Italian side currently sit 14th in the table and are ready to offer the number 19 away out and a chance to recapture his form in Serie A. President Massimo Ferrero has recently confirmed Kramaric as being one of the number of players his club are after and highlighted the striker as somebody who can bring them goals and lift them up the table.

Ferrero was quoted saying: “I will not sell anyone, everybody will stay and I’ll give another two or three gifts to (coach) Vincenzo Montella, as he deserves it. We have been following Kramaric for a year now. We could be interested in some Inter defenders.”

Leicester centre midfielder Gokhan Inler, 33 is also a target for Montella’s side as is former Atlanta centre back Yohan Benalouane, 29 who has recently been linked with a move to Genoa. It is understood Sampdoria will have to fight Bayer Leverkusen and Schalke for Swiss International Inler.

Serie A champions Juventus are still keen on Kramaric, having been long term admirers. Torino, Inter Milan and Stuttgart have since joined the race for the player who turned down the chance to join Chelsea a year ago.

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Who is Ben Chilwell?

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Sam May profiles Leicester City’s wonderkid, targeted in a £4 million January move by Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp.

Factfile:

Age: 19

Place of birth: Milton Keynes, England

Club: Leicester City

Position: Left Back

Background & Style of Play

Ben Chilwell has been with Leicester City since 2009 after joining the club from Rushden and Diamond’s aged just 13. The youngster hasn’t looked back since his move, progressing through the academy youth sides and winning Leicester’s Academy Player of the Year award at the end of the 2014–15 season.

The England U20 International made his professional debut for the Foxes on 27th October this year in the club’s League Cup loss against Hull City. Chilwell played the entire match as Leicester lost 5–4 on penalties following a 1-1 draw after extra time. He later made another 6 appearances for Steve Beaghole’s U21 side.

Since then, the youngster has joined Klopp’s fellow friend David Wagner’s Huddersfield Town until January. This could potentially help smooth a deal which would see the teen sensation head to Anfield. Huddersfield‘s number 25 has made 7 appearances for the Terriers since his arrival into Championship Football. He is however due to link back up with Claudio Ranieri’s highflying side.

Leicester will resist any offers for their star man from the Reds, having rejected a £3.5 million bid from Arsenal last summer. It seems the hot prospect may have to slot in sooner than anticipated due to former Liverpool left back Paul Konchesky being farmed out to QPR and Jeffrey Schlupp being injured. Liverpool have not had a consistent left back since John Arne Risse so a move would be a bright one.

Chilwell is known for his electric pace down the flank, dangerous deliveries into the box and is strong in the tackle, this range of attributes make him the perfect package as an attacking left back. He also has a sweet left foot.

The youngster has been watched on a number of occasions this season, with Liverpool chef scout Barry Hunter keeping tabs on the youngster.

Liverpool are joined by Arsenal, Tottenham and Chelsea in the race for his signature He is under contract with Leicester until 30th June 2016 – could one of the Premier League big boys steal this Foxes whizz-kid?

Ihiekwe: “We got a little lucky but defended well”

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Defender happy with clean sheet and three points to end 2015.

Michael Ihiekwe gave his thoughts having helped Rovers to secure back-to-back wins to finish 2015 on a high.

The 23 year-old highlighted the importance of goalkeeper Scott Davies, following Tranmere’s narrow 1-0 victory of Altrincham on Saturday afternoon.

He told Tranmere Player: “We wanted a clean sheet today and we did our job.

“If you don’t take your chances, it can come back to bite you at times. We got a little lucky but we defended well.

“Scott helps us a lot. When he speaks at the back, he helps us adjust our positions and he is a great goalkeeper, as we saw in the first half and later on in the second with a number of saves – it’s good to have him there.

“We haven’t been too lucky this season and it’s nice to get a bit of luck. We hit the post in the first half and they did the same in the second, so it balanced itself out.

“I caught my effort well and unfortunately it didn’t go in off the post or following the goalmouth scramble, but I’m glad it didn’t matter in the end and we got the three points.

“There is a lot of confidence going into 2016. We are a massive club in this league and teams should be coming here fearing to play us, hopefully we can build on this.”

Report: Tranmere 1-0 Altrincham

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Rovers beat Alty to make it two from two at Christmas.

Tranmere made it two wins from two over the Christmas period by beating Altrincham 1-0 at Prenton Park.

A first half strike by James Norwood was enough to secure maximum points although Altrincham pressed hard for an equaliser in the second half.

Gary Brabin made one change to the side which began the 2-1 win over Macclesfield Town on Boxing Day with Ben Tomlinson replacing the injured Gary Taylor-Fletcher.

Tranmere got the game underway but the visitors had the first chance of the match and nearly found themselves in front on six minutes, when Damien Reeves low near post effort was confidently parried away by Scott Davies.

It seemed both teams were having a fair amount of possession but Rovers were applying the most pressure whilst looking dangerous in attack. The home side found themselves in front mid way through the first half after Lois Maynards cross-field ball found the feet on James Norwood, who slotted over the on-rushing Tim Deasy, scoring his 11th goal of the season.

The visitors were nearly back on level terms shortly after when Damian reeves stung the palm of Davies. Rover’s Vaughan then steered a shot wide.

On 38 minutes, James Norwood had another chance to put Tranmere two goals to the good but headed straight into the hand of Deasy.

Michael Ikehiwe, who should have made it two-nil, following a goalmouth scramble, headed a Mekki corner onto the post on the stroke of halftime. This was the final action of the first half.

The first real chance of the second 45 minutes fell to the visitors on 53 minutes, when Michael Rankine curled a high effort over the bar from 24 yards out.

Rovers made their first change as Andy Mangan replaced Adam Mekki on 68 minutes, before Norwood forced a strong hand from Deasy, to deny him another goal and a Tranmere second.

Altrincham started to apply the pressure late on and should have found themselves an equaliser only for James Lawrie to fire over from 10 yards.

The visitors broke, and should have equalised only for Scott Leather to leather the bar with a powerful header. Tranmere likewise saw a Lois Maynard shot easily claimed by Deasy.

With the last kick of the game of the kick of the game Norwood should have made it two but Deasy stood strong to deny him.

Tranmere: Davies, Jennings, Vaughan, Harris, Norwood, Maynard, Ihiekwe, Hill, Mekki (Mangan 69), McNulty, Tomlinson (Kirby 84)

Substitutions: Turner, Sutton, Stockton

Altrincham: Deasy, Griffin, Moult, Havern, Leather, Lawrie, Richman, Rankine (Clee 61), Reeves, Crowther, Sinnott

Substitutions: Heathcote, O’Keefe, Bowerman, Williams

 Referee: Richard Wigglesworth

Yellow cards: Griffin (52), Norwood (81)

 Red cards:

Attendance: 5414 (272)

Premier League quartet target Thorne

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Everton, Norwich, Newcastle and Crystal Palace are all interested in Derby County centre midfielder George Thorne, according to Sam May.

Thorne, 22, has made 20 appearances in all competitions this season for the Rams and has been a standout performer in Derby’s midfield, hence the interest from the Premier League.

Born in Chatham, he started his career in the youth ranks at West Brom before having brief spells on-loan at Portsmouth, Peterborough and Waford and then making a permanent move to Derby from the Baggies in 2014 for £2.5 million.

Everton manager Roberto Martinez is a keen admirer of the 6ft 2 midfield maestro and sees him as the perfect long-term replacement for 34-year-old veteran Gareth Barry who is in the twilight of his career.

Former Derby boss and now Newcastle manager Steve McLaren is also keen on the man who he brought to the iPro Stadium whilst in charge in 2014 for £2.5 million. A reunion could be on the cards with the Magpies boss keen to bring the former England youth International to the North East.

McClaren desperately needs to add to add to his squad in the January window with his team currently sat in the relegation zone and a number of players having already been sidelined through injury this term.

Thorne’s career is back on track, having stalled following a number of injuries sustained over a couple of seasons. He has come back stronger and fitter, which has alerted on number of clubs. He has a pass accuracy of 86% and a shot accuracy of 53%, and has won 21 headers, 15 dribbles and 50 tackles.

Rasulo is the real deal

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The impressive teen could be just as good as Tottenham midfielder Dele Alli, after breaking through the same youth academy as the Spurs star.

Tottenham and Liverpool should target a move for MK Dons midfielder Giorgio Rasulo. He can be as good as Dele Alli if given the chance in the Premier League, according to Sam May.

Liverpool could target a move for 18-year-old MK Dons prodigy Georgio Rasulo after missing out on Tottenham sensation Dele Alli. The young hot shot is currently on-loan at Oldham Athletic for the rest of the season having also spent last season on-loan at Aldershot, as he looks to gain experience and develop further. He made his debut for the MK Dons first team aged just 16 and had made 7 appearances for Karl Robinson’s side before his loan moves, back in 2013.

The England Under-17 International could be the ‘next big thing’ and somebody Jurgen Klopp targets, due to his experience of developing young players and moulding them into world-class talents. An example of which he did with 17-year-old Felix Paslack at Borussia Dortmund. Mauricio Pochettino may also be interested in the Banbury born teen having recently stated he is keen on signing young English starlets from the Championship and League One, who have experience of the English game.

Steven Gerrard was previously quoted saying: “I’m actually disappointed Liverpool didn’t try to sign him,” relating to Alli. Also adding: “I thought he was certainly a player Liverpool might have tried to go for.” It seems Rasulo could be the alternative to Alli, who plays in a similar attacking midfield role or on the wing, after Liverpool failed to secure the services of Spurs number 20. Tottenham may have edge of the Merseyside’s having snapped up Alli.

Liverpool and Tottenham have previously raided the MK Dons youth academy, having brought young Hemel Hempstead born winger Sheyi Ojo to Anfield in 2011 as part of an academy re-shuffle. The Reds number 54 is currently on-loan at Wolves and has made 16 appearances to date, scoring two goals. Meanwhile, Spurs also have close ties with the Dons having lured away midfield maestro Dele Alli for £5 million, who came through the same youth academy as Rasulo.

Both may also be interested in Ipswich Town’s young playmaker, Teddy Bishop, 18. The Cambridge born teen has gone on to make 33 appearances for Mick McCarthy’s side since his first team debut in 2014, scoring one goal. He is a top talent and would thrive if given the chance.

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Young centre midfielder Teddy Bishop is another player Klopp could target ahead of the January window, as he looks to sign youth players and turn them into stars, something he did at Dortmund.

He has been targeted by a number of Premier League giants in the past including Arsenal and is likened to that of former Spurs and current Manchester United midfielder Michael Carrick, as well as former Liverpool great Xabi Alonso. Could one of the ‘big boys’ potentially steal this tractor boy academy prodigy?

Ipswich Town centre midfielder Cole Skuse gave his thoughts on Bishop and stated: “I think he could play in the Premier League tomorrow. I’m not saying I want somebody to come and sign him tomorrow – he can stay here for the time being! I’m just saying I think he could play in the Premier League tomorrow because he’s that good.”

Likewise, Leeds players Lewis Cook, who has made 16 appearances scoring two goals to date and Captain Alex Mowatt, are other names who have both been in fine form for Steve Evans side this season, and could potentially be other names targeted by Klopp and Pochettino.

Potential five strikers for Sparky’s Stoke

Stoke are currently siting in a respectable 11th place in the Barclays Premier League on 24 points and equaling bottom club Aston Villa on the least goals scored 14. Sam May looks at five strikers who can help Stoke City recapture their goal scoring form this January and climb further up the table.

1. Charlie Austin (Queens Park Rangers)

Austin, 25, has scored 9 goals in 16 appearances, making six assists for Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink’s side this season and is in fine goal scoring form. QPR’s number nine born in Hungerford previously stated he didn’t feel a move back to Premier League would be the right for him. If a lucrative offer is put on the table then QPR may be persuaded to sell the their main goal threat. Remaining in the Championship will also narrow down his chances of an England call up and Austin may want to show manager Roy Hodgson what he is capable of. Les Ferdinand recently stated that he could be persuaded to sell the R’s star man. Austin has previously been linked with Newcastle, Bournemouth and Aston Villa, but could Mark Hughes make a move?

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2. Stefan Kießling (Bayer Leverkusen)

Kießling seems to be the most realistic for Stoke and would suit their style of play. Currently, 31, so could be a shorter term option, the German can play on the right wing and as a secondary striker, so is a versatile player. He has scored six goals in 25 appearances this season, making four assist in all competitions. Being very experienced it seems he could thrive if given the chance in the Premier League. He is available for a cut-price £5 million so a deal could be done. Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool have been previously linked with a move for the number 11 as he Klopp looks to add more goals to his Liverpool side. With the Potters lack of goals, a move for Kießling would be good value should they decide to secure his services this January.

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3. Jermaine Defoe (Sunderland)

Probably the most unlikely of them all. Defoe, 33, and the most experienced has endured a frustrating time of late in the North East. He does however have more to offer. Sunderland’s number 18 has found himself in the shadows at the Stadium of Light and doesn’t like the idea of being a substitute. He has made 15 appearances, scoring seven goals. Defoe is just what the Stoke fans need. Despite his age, he could recapture his goal scoring form shown at Tottenham and fire Stoke up the table. He is said to be worth £4.5 million, which would be a steal, should Mark Hughes’s side make a move. The veteran is a proven Premier League hitman and has a lot more to offer.

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4. Emmanuel Adebayor (Free Agent)

The Premier League’s forgotten man. Adebayor is looking for a new club having been released by Tottenham last month. Despite, not being part of the Tottenham set-up Spurs are still paying his wages. The Togolese striker, 31, has been linked with a number of clubs in the Premier League since his release. Despite his controversy, Adebayor has a lot more to offer and would be a risk worth taking should Stoke make a move. Signing him on a free would be a steal. He is currently back in his homeland training and keeping fit. Could he potentially sign for the Potters?

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5. Dom Telford (Stoke City Under 21’s)

Who? The youngest and most inexperienced of them all. At just 19, Burnley born Dom Telford could be the option for Mark Hughes. He signed for the Potters in the summer making the short journey from Blackpool along with current youth midfielder Mark Waddington. He made his seasiders debut aged 18 last season making 14 appearances, scoring one goal. This campaign he has netted four goals in 13 appearances for Stoke Under 21s and is continuing to impress. Why not give the youngster a run in the first team? The number 37 could offer that first team firepower Stoke are lacking and Mark Hughes may opt to give the young starlet a chance.

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