Schalke win race to sign Swiss striker Breel Embolo

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FC Schalke bested European giants Barcelona, Arsenal and Manchester United to secure the services of Breel Embolo from FC Basel, Sam May profiles the striker who touted as one of the next big things in European football.

Back in January Wolfsburg seen a £27 million bid rejected and Embolo was quoted saying: “I am not worth that money”, and chose to remain at Basel until the end of the season.”

The 19-year old becomes Markus Weinzierl’s second summer signing swapping Basel for Gelsenkirchen, and has signed a five-year contract at the Veltins Arena. Swiss champions Basel said the fee will not be disclosed, though it is reportedly €25m (£20m).

Who is he?

Born in Yaoundé, Cameroon, he moved to Switzerland at the age of six. The hot shot is a versatile player and can play as a lone striker or along both flanks due to his dribbling skills. In just 86 first-team appearances for Basel, Embolo has scored 31 goals, including 13 last season. He has also netted one goal in 10 caps

Embolo was voted the Most Popular Player in Switzerland in both 2014 and 2015, and was awarded Player of the Year last term. And yet, such fame hasn’t changed him.

Basel midfielder Fabian Frei previously said on Embolo: ‘I think he is a sensation … I like him as a person as much as I do as a player.

“His feet will stay on the ground – he won’t be shooting from 50 metres to score the goal of the season. You can give him good advice and he is ready to take it without getting angry.”

Veteran Basel striker Marco Streller, who retired in 2015, took the youngster under his wing and constantly worked with him during training. “He is a huge talent. I am excited to see him every time he plays,” he said.

Schalke revealed Embolo’s signing to thousands of fans and the player appeared in a video on social media wearing a Schalke shirt, with the player saying: “I’m happy to be a Royal Blue.”

The Cameroon-born forward played in each of Switzerland’s games at Euro 2016, but failed to score.

He was a second-half substitute in the last-16 match against Poland, which Switzerland lost on penalties after the match finished 1-1. Embolo has three Swiss league winner’s medals with Basel, and has traded a place in the Champions League group stage for the Europa League with Schalke next season.

Schalke’s new Sporting Director, Christian Heidel, commented: “In Breel Embolo, we have been able to bring in a highly talented attacker, who already has a lot of international experience and was also in demand at several other top European clubs.”

In other S04 news, the club has re-signed Sascha Reither for a year while youngster Felix Platte will play next season on loan to SV Darmstadt 98.

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Borussia Mönchengladbach’s new signing – Mamadou Doucouré

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After Borussia Mönchengladbach secured the services of impressive young centre back Mamadou Doucouré, Sam May profiles the teen sensation.

The 18-year old becomes André Schubert’s fourth summer signing having swapped Paris for Mönchengladbach.

So who is the defensive gem?

The highly rated centre back, was born in Dakar, Senegal. Teenager Doucouré went with France to the FIFA U17 World Cup in Chile in 2015. Featuring in four matches, he managed to score one goal against New Zealand. He has captained the Paris Saint Germain Under-19s and reserve sides also. Despite not making a senior appearance for Laurent Blanc’s side, he has been taken on by Gladbach.

Being a versatile player, the naturally left footed defender is more than comfortable at left-back so will give Gladbach options. Strong and athletic, he is a great header of the ball and should be a natural leader in the future.

Last term, he helped the PSG youth side to the final of the UEFA Youth League, captaining the team and featuring in seven of their ten games. The centre-back however, was unable to lead his team to victory as they fell at the final hurdle to Chelsea.

Gladbach fought off European powers Arsenal, Juventus and FC Porto for the starlets’ signature which shows the strength behind their recruitment drive but also the fact that they are willing to give youngsters the chance. The player decided to reject the possibility of signing a professional contract with Les Parisiens because he wants immediate playing time, and could not be given these assurances at PSG.

The Bundesliga side has a track record of scouring the market for youngsters, having previously snapped up Mandela Egbo from Crystal Palace and Andreas Christensen (19), who has spent two seasons on loan from Chelsea.

Gladbach sporting director Max Eberl believes the teenager has a big future: “We’re delighted that Mamadou Doucouré has decided to join Borussia. He is a huge talent and there were lots of big clubs looking to sign him,” said Eberl in a statement on the club’s official website.

“With this transfer, we are continuing our tradition of bringing young players with lots of potential to the club and giving them an opportunity to take their careers to the next level.”

Doucouré is set to miss the beginning of pre-season due to injury, but will be involved in the Foals’ first team at Borussia-Park.

Three potential Chris Morgan replacements Klopp could target

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After Liverpool confirmed Chris Morgan is to leave his role as head of physiotherapy, Sam May takes a look at who could replace him on Merseyside.

The Reds have already been busy revamping Klopp’s backroom team ahead of the new season, bring in the cutting edge fitness coach Andreas Kornmayer from Bayern Munich who replaces the now departed Ryland Morgans. They also moved swiftly to secure the services of neutralist Moner Nemmer who also swaps Bavaria for Merseyside.

Could Klopp continue the Bavarian link?

1. Dr Holger Broich (Bayern Munich, Head of Fitness and Medical)

The 41-year is regarded as one of the best in the field. Specialsing in all types of fitness and medical areas, he would co-ordinate the medical department. With his contract due to expire at the end of June, he surely is the man Klopp could target, making it a triple raid on Bayern. The fitness guru previously worked with ex-reds defender Sami Hyypiä at Bayer Leverkusen.

2. Thomas Wilhemli (Bayern Munich, Physiopherapist)

A key member of Pep Guardiola’s backroom staff at the Allianz Arena, Wilhemli was part of the German national team at the 2006 FIFA World Cup in Germany. Joining Bayern in 2007, he had previously worked at FC Nurnberg and Bayer Leverkusen. He focuses on the rehabilitation after injury and the individual training of professionals.

3. Swantje Thomßen (Borussia Dortmund, Physiotherapist)

Brought to Borussia Dortmund by Klopp a year before the German left for Anfield, she headed up Dortmund Under 23s before being promoted to the first team last season by incoming Dortmund boss Thomas Tuchel. The 31-year-old, having already been recruited by Klopp could be the one to watch out for.

Five potential Martin Škrtel replacements Klopp should look at

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As the 31-year-old looks set to depart Anfield for Fenerbahçe, Sam May takes a look at possible replacements the Reds could swoop for.

1. Jonathan Tah (Bayer Leverkusen)

The 20-year old has been in fine form this season, earning him an International call-up following the injury to Antonio Rudiger. Formerly of Hamburg, his performances have been noted, by Chelsea and Liverpool. He was a target for Manchester United in 2012, aged 16, but opted for Hamburg. Liverpool are now on the scene and the youngster would fit into Klopp’s model of buying young and developing them in stars.

2. Shkodran Mustafi (Valencia)

Leaving Everton in 2012, the 24-year-old signed for Sampdoria before moving to Valencia in 2014 and has become one of the best defenders in La Liga. He scored in Germany’s Euro 2016 opening game against Ukraine in their 2-0 victory in Lille. He would be the perfect addition should he make a move to Anfield this summer as he is strong in the tackle and has good aerial prowess.

3. Benedikt Höwedes (Schalke 04)

A key figure for Schalke and Germany, he was one of three players to play every single minute of the 2014 FIFA World Cup for Germany. Having signed his defensive partner Joel Matip, could Klopp swoop for another Schalke man this summer and re-join the partnership? The 28-year-old is a “defensive all-rounder”, naturally left footed, he can play, centrally, left back or left even wing back. He poses great strength, has a fine heading ability and has a no-nonsense style of play.

4. Niklas Süle (VFB Hoffenheim)

The 6ft 5ins colossus has a formidable physical presence. At 20, the Hoffenheim youngster has what it takes to withstand the rigors of Premier League football. With out question he is an outstanding talent and would shine under the guidance of Jürgen Klopp. Again fitting the young model profile, he could play alongside any defensive partner. He has been compared to a young Per Mertesacker. He is strong, intelligent and has a good football brain for his young years – the perfect Škrtel replacement.

5. Neven Subotić (Borussia Dortmund)

A player Klopp knows well, Subotic, 27, joined Dortmund in 2008 following his former boss from Mainz and has made 251 appearances for the Bundesliga side. Could a re-union be on the cards at Anfield? The Serbian International will be looking to resurrect his career having been out of favour under Thomas Tuchel last season. Should he move to Merseyside, he could go on to be a key figure in the Reds back line.

Portuguese prodigy Renato Sanches: A new star is born

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Could wonderkid Renato Sanches bring something new to Fernando Santos’s Portugal squad? His role in the team could be crucial, writes Sam May.

Born in the rundown suburbs of Lisbon, the youngster has over taken Cristiano Ronaldo to become the youngest player to feature at a major tournament for Portugal.

To think it has taken just 19 months for the 18-year old to really emerge onto the scene and now the International stage. In October 2014 he featured for Benfica’s youth side against rivals Sporting and May 2016, he is signing for Bayern Munich for €35 million. The deal could also rise to €45 million in add-ons depending on how many Allianz appearances he makes. Not letting the limelight change him, he is a grounded individual, mature well beyond his years.

He joined Benfica youth from Musgueira for €750,000 in 2006, aged nine, and last season at 18, he made 47 appearances for the first team.

A fan favourite at the Estádio da Luz, and the fact is if your good enough, your old enough some would suggest. October 2015 saw Sanches make his debut, by November he was featuring in the Champions League playing against Galatasaray and FC Astana. He later helped his team secure a third Primeira Liga title, won the Taca da Liga, and is now featuring for Portugal.

Dubbed “Bulo” by his grandmother, due to his risk taking, he has a similar playing style to Paul Pogba. Just like the Frenchman, he takes long shots, this evident when he scored in the victory over Académica back in December. He also has good dribbling skills, is good at threading through balls to the strikers and is good at aerial dules.

Former Benfica coach Rui Vitória realised the potential of the young man and despite his rise, he didn’t have the best debut for the national team back in March. But coach Vitória was brave in allowing the young man to improve by his mistakes.

Being named in Portugal’s Euro 2016 squad, he could go on to become the next superstar, over taking fellow country man Cristiano Ronaldo.

Why Poland are the Euro 2016 dark horses

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Having beaten Northern Ireland 1-0 in their opening match to claim their first win in seven European attempts, Sam May takes a look at why Poland is the team to keep an eye on this tournament. Who shone in the victory and how far can they actually go?

They were top goal scorers in qualifying, thanks to red-hot striker Robert Lewandowski. The Bayern Munich frontman netted 13 times, helping his side to qualification and equaled Northern Ireland striker David Healey’s qualifying scoring record set before Euro 2008.

Finishing second behind Germany in Group D qualifying, they managed 33 goals. Beating Joachim Low’s side 2-0 in qualifying, they will hold no fear, when they both meet, second time around at the Stade De France on June 16.

Robert Lewandowski is obviously the one to watch out for. The 27-year old scored 42 goals in 51 appearances for Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich, as well as 34 goals in 72 for his country. So the captain is in great form.

22-year old, Arkadiusz Milik of Ajax, who got the only goal of today’s game, eased the reliance on Lewandowski. He managed six goals in qualifying and now has his first in Euro 2016. Having bagged 24 goals for club level last season, he too is in form and has been linked with a move to Premier League champions Leicester City.

Wingback Lukasz Piszczek was solid, but his Borussia Dortmund teammate Jakub Blaszczykowski stood out, delivering crosses for the two front men and was a constant threat down the flank.

Sevilla’s Grzegorz Krychowiak, fresh from winning another Europa League title, was instrumental in the middle, helping to break up play. Manchester United and Barcelona are among the teams fighting it out for his signature.

We are sure to see 19-year-old midfielder Bartosz Kapustka, who plays for Cracovia at some point as he impressed Coach Adam Nawalka, with his all-action performances in qualifying. Both Piotr Zielinski, who is close to a move to Liverpool , and 21-year old Karol Linetty of Lech Poznan, who has been targeted by Tottenham and Manchester City, didn’t feature, but will surely get their chance to showcase what they can do further in the competition.

In terms of performance, given Poland’s possession based style and attacking flare, they should progress beyond the group stages.

Having beaten as stated Germany in the qualification stages, they will have the chance a second time, They are already top of the group after today’s win and are expected to beat Ukraine. If they finish second in Group C, they could draw either Romania or Switzerland in the round of 16. It could be Spain in the last eight though, which would pose a tough test.

That should be the minimum expectation for a country that is on the up and with talent attracting many major suitors.

Last eight would be a success for a team who generally struggles in tournaments, but if they get there, none of the real favourites will want face them, so who knows? They may even make the semi-finals.

New Signing: Who is Borussia Dortmund’s Emre Mor?

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After Borussia Dortmund moved swiftly to secure the services of teenage midfielder Emre Mor, the Fanatic’s Sam May profiles the youngster.

The 18-year old becomes Thomas Tuchel’s fifth signing having completed a move from Danish club FC Nordsjælland on a five-year contract.

So just who is he?

The highly rated winger was born in Brønshøj, Copenhagen, Denmark, and represented the Danish national team to Under 19 level before opting to join Turkey. At just 18, he made his senior debut last month and is in the Turkey’s squad for Euro 2016.

Joining FC Nordsjælland in 2015, having been released from Lyngby Boldklub, the teen sensation managed to score two goals and create two assists in 13 matches. However, a fine solo finish against Danish champions FC Copenhagen was enough to make the headlines. Taking on three opponents and calmly slotting a fine finish with his preferred left foot was enough to send scouts flocking.

Being a versatile player, the attacking midfielder can play in the No 10 role or a lone striker, but playing in the midfield position enables him to take on opponents and go for goal or set-up his teammates.

The starlet was on trial with Saint-Étienne in 2013, but didn’t receive a contract.

Despite FC Nordsjælland finishing 9th in the Danish Superliga, he was a standout performer during the campaign and showed why Dortmund have acted. Manchester United, Galatasaray, Ajax and Liverpool were also said to be keen on securing his signature this summer. Having been selected for Turkey at the Euro’s it shows how much, Mor has developed. The fact is, he can go to be just as good as current Turkey teammate and Bayer Leverkusen playmaker Hakan Çalhanoğlu in years to come.

Dortmund have themselves an all round player. He is only going to flourish in the Bundesliga and will join the likes of 18-year old Felix Passlack and Christian Pulisic at the Westfalenstadion. There is no question the youngster will go onto to become one of the best in Europe.

“Dortmund is a great club in Europe with unique fans. I am looking forward to working with my new team-mates and I can hardly wait to start the season and my first game,” explained Mor.

Dortmund sporting director Michael Zorc said: “Emre Mor is a highly gifted and versatile young player with huge potential for development.”