Erling Haaland: What the future holds for Champions League star striker

All signs point to yes, in regards to if Erling Haaland will take the next step, and move away from Austria. A decision the entire footballing world anticipates.

A move away from the Red Bull Arena is inevitable for Leeds-born striker. His domination of the Austrian Bundesliga and the Champions League has seen him stand out in this impressive RB Salzburg team, who have taken points from Napoli and give holders Liverpool two tough games. The Red Bull outfit have essentially succumbed to losing Haaland’s strike-partner, Minamino, to Liverpool. It seems like the Norwegian will be making the next step, but we are gathering a clearer picture as to where the 6-ft-3 forward has his heart set on.

According to Sky in Germany, Haaland has visited his sister club RB Leipzig, as well as Borussia Dortmund as he mulls over his next move. Manchester United and Juventus have also been linked to the 19 year old.

If he does choose to move to either of the German clubs, it would show that Erling is mature enough to realise that game-time and patience would be hard to come by at clubs like the Bianconeri or the Red Devils.

RB Leipzig – The perfect move for Erling Haaland?

When assessing Haaland’s options, the most logical move would be to Julian Nagelsmann’s Leipzig. Staying within the RB realm, the structure and aims of the club will be similar to those of Salzburg, allowing the former Molde striker continuity in that sense.

Erling Haaland

There is no pressure to lead Leipzig to ‘the promised land’; he can focus solely on improving his game, and becoming one of Europe’s most feared strikers, before then making the next step to the top of world football. Die Roten Bullen, Leipzig’s academy, has become world-renowned for its development and nurturing of youth talent – even if it is hated domestically. Tried and tested. It seems like natural progression, at least in my eyes.

Borussia Dortmund – Option 2?

Paco Alcacer has been a joy in Dortmund, but his injury problems have not deserted him, and thus Dortmund need to find a contingency plan. Enter Erling Haaland. A rotation option, at least in the short-term, who will not complain about game-time, as he has seen the progression of youth within the Dortmund system for at least a decade now.

There is a clear path to becoming the figurehead of the Favre regime. Well, if he doesn’t get sacked. The Dortmund fanbase is more understanding and will allow Haaland the time to develop. This move provides the Norway international with a transfer to one of Europe’s biggest clubs, whilst still sparing himself some developmental time – essentially having no pressure on his shoulders.

The Rest…

Haaland has the whole of Europe after his services realistically. It was reported that 40 teams’ scouts were present to watch him against Liverpool in their recent Champions League game. United provide an alternative in which he is assured to be the face of the project, but let’s be honest, he could do better couldn’t he. 41 goals in 28 appearances in all games, for club and country. Juventus are also monitoring his situation, but the path to the first team there is long. Perhaps why Haaland has not chosen to visit them YET.

Erling Haaland father: Alf Inge Haaland

What does the future hold for Erling Haaland? Personally, I think a move to RB Leipzig. The Bundesliga, stylistically, is similar to its Austrian counterpart. Culture is likely to be very similar in Germany too. We have to remember who we are dealing with. A 19-year-old boy, who simply wants to enjoy life. Perhaps a long shot, but I hope one day Erling ends up at Elland Road, home of Leeds United. The city he was born in whilst his father played for Leeds. It does just seem like fate. Let’s hope Bielsa can hold up his end of the bargain, and who knows – in a few years, Erling could be bagging for Leeds in the Champions League, just like he has dreamt of.

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Takumi Minamino: Profile of winger set to join Liverpool

Liverpool’s activity in the summer transfer window wasn’t very active at all. Off the back of a triumphant Champions League campaign and being in touching distance of a Premier League title, people expected Jurgen Klopp to bring in reinforcements to build on their incredible 2018/19. However, the only additions were Sepp van den Berg and Harvey Elliott. Hardly blockbuster. Fast forward to now, they’re even more dominant than last year and look set for their maiden Premier League title. They will be bringing someone else in, in January. You may not have heard of him, but that player is Takumi Minamino.

The 24 year old has had an impressive campaign domestically and in Europe for RB Salzburg. Though 19 year old sensation Erling Haaland has taken the spotlight, Minamino has quietly performed brilliantly. So much so, he has caught the eye of the Champions League holders. Scoring against them definitely helped. Various credible sources, including Sky Sports, have reported The Reds are willing to pay out his £7.25 million release clause, amid competition from various other clubs in Europe. At such a low price with what he’s shown, it seems like a no-brainer.

Takumi Minamino

So why is the Japanese international so sought after by the footballing world? We’ll give you a brief summary:

Lighting up the Champions League

Minamino has had an excellent 2019/20. 5 goals and 5 assists in just 14 league games have helped the side sit top of the Austrian league. But on top of that, he’s been performing in the Champions League. As aforementioned, he scored against Liverpool in his side’s 4-3 defeat at Anfield.

Takumi Minamino 2019/20 UCL stats:

Appearances: 6

Goals: 2

Assists: 3

Those stats are stats you would expect from a top winger in an elite side. But the 22 capped Japanese international has been doing it for, no disrespect, a much smaller team. Haaland has taken the headlines, but Minamino has also been impressive. To break it down further, he’s averaging 2.8 shots and 2 key passes per game (WhoScored). Yet alongside the attacking output, 1.2 tackles per game to show he works hard in all aspects of the game.

Takumi Minamino – Style of Play

What distinguishes the attacker from other young, talented and exciting wingers is his end product. The ability of Minamino to find the right pass just seconds after receiving the ball is rare in most wingers. His decision making is that of a 24 year old, who has had time to develop his overall game. Klopp won’t need to worry about developing or coaching him to make the right choice at the right time.

He doesn’t have flair as such. Not blistering pace, mesmerising dribbling, or any outrageous skills. But tidy. Perhaps why he isn’t making headlines like his partner in crime. What Minamino possesses is an intelligence and good work ethic, something that fits perfectly in a Liverpool side that epitomise the word ‘industrious’.

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Carlo Ancelotti: Where next for the legendary manager?

Carlo Ancelotti is one of the greatest managers of all time. Perhaps he isn’t mentioned in that elite category enough. Yet the Italian’s C.V speaks for itself. 3 Champions Leagues, a Premier League double, Ligue 1, Serie A and Bundesliga titles. The list goes on for the former midfielder, once an accomplished player and now a highly regarded manager. However, just yesterday, he was sacked by Napoli for a poor start to their season. Where next for the legendary manager?

“Surprising results are possible. Concentration is a decisive factor.”

Carlo Ancelotti quote

The serial winner was relived of his duties in Naples after a poor start domestically with the side. Napoli sit in 7th place, 7 points adrift of 6th place Atalanta. Despite guiding Gli Azzurri to the knockout stages of the Champions League, his time in Italy has come to an end. Just 1 year too, Ancelotti has become quite the journeyman.

The clubs that want Carlo

It was widely expected the 60 year old would be sacked. This comes amid links with a return to the Premier League, with both Arsenal and Everton reportedly interested in appointing the veteran. The latter in particular could be favourites to land Ancelotti, after their previous top target Vitor Pereira pulled out of the race to become manager of the Toffees.

Carlo Ancelotti

So now that the former AC Milan coach has become available, who will appoint him and also, who will he choose? After this rather unsuccessful spell with Napoli and a average season in Bavaria with Bayern, Ancelotti’s stock isn’t exactly high. Clubs are looking more towards younger managers perhaps more in touch with the modern game and with different tactics. The former Chelsea coach, though is still a desired target, won’t be attracted the absolute elite of Europe. Someone more like Mauricio Pochettino would be on their radars.

Carlo Ancelotti – A serial winner

So that brings the blue of Merseyside and the Gunners into the question. Two clubs that have started 2019/20 poorly considering the money they’ve spent and the expectations placed on them at the start of the season. Both require an uplift and a manager that commands respect. Who better than Ancelotti. One of the most decorated managers of all time, a serial winner and someone with Premier League experience. Seems like the perfect fit.

Carlo Ancelotti

Chelsea were incredible under the former Real Madrid coach. The first team to score more than 100 goals in a Premier League season, they were so good to watch. The freedom and confidence that the former Italian international encourages his team to play with really makes the style of play, if nothing else, a breath of fresh air. Under Emery, the Emirates faithful were bored with the Spaniard’s philosophy. With the Italian, that could really change for the better.

Has he still got it?

The only doubt over Carlo Ancelotti is whether he’s still the same manager he was a few seasons ago. His last two stints at Bayern and Napoli have ended sourly. His laid back managerial style, it can be very hit or miss. Something that might be worrying for the Gunners or the Blues.

Yet the reputation of the man alone will galvanise either Everton or Arsenal and turnaround a calamitous season, for whichever club gets him. Despite the fact he hasn’t stayed at a club for more than 2 years since AC Milan (2001-2009), I think he’s exactly what either of them need.

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Nathan Ake: Bournemouth defender in demand for January

Both Chelsea and Manchester City are experiencing defensive issues. The Blues’ combination of Christensen and Zouma was a disaster in a humiliating defeat at Goodison Park. Though Fikayo Tomori was rested, so it’s not exactly a crisis as such. The Citizens on the other hand, wow. They have been shambolic at the back, with Kompany’s departure and Laporte’s injury leaving their back line in chaos. So who could be the solution to both teams’ defensive woes? Nathan Ake.

The 24 year old has been quietly going about his business at Bournemouth. After loan spells at Reading, Watford and the Cherries, he settled on the south coast, moving from Chelsea for a £20 million fee. Since then, he’s only developed further and become a consistent performer for Eddie Howe’s side. Not box office, in the headlines or a name on everyone’s lips. But if a defender isn’t being spoken about, it’s usually a good sign.

Nathan Ake

Back to London, or Manchester?

Sky Sports have reported that both City and Ake’s former club are interested in his signature. Chelsea weren’t stupid to allow a talented defender like the Dutchman leave for a modest fee without a buyback clause. With their transfer ban now lifted, £40 million and he’s theirs. A reasonable fee in today’s market. Frank Lampard obviously the Chelsea youth product from his time as a player. That could play a major role in swaying the decision towards London

Yet could the Etihad tempt Ake? The chance to work under Pep Guardiola doesn’t come everyday. Though 2019/20 hasn’t been good for City so far, they might just be putting everything into a Champions League campaign. If so, it wouldn’t make sense to turn that down? First team football, however, could be an issue when Laporte is back. Short term thinking may come back to bite the former Watford loanee.

Nathan Ake – Style of Play

In terms of his qualities, the 5ft 11 defender isn’t the tallest. However, he’s incredibly versatile, able to play in defensive midfield, at fullback or in central defence. Options, something Guardiola could really do with. He’s good on the ball, maintaining an 89.6% pass accuracy this season. Ball playing centre-halves are almost essential in 2019 and Nathan Ake is certainly the template for one.

Defensively, his numbers on paper are decent. 1.2 tackles and 1.4 interceptions per game are very tidy. It’s not exceptional by any means. But sometimes it’s quality over quantity. As shown in the video above, the tackles he makes are game winning and bail Bournemouth out of trouble multiple times.

He’s also great in the air, with his ability to outmanoeuvre and out-jump his opponents making up for the lack of height. Ake also brings a calmness to back line, never seeming like he’s under pressure or looking like he’s going to make a mistake. Can’t say the same for Kurt Zouma or Nicolas Otamendi.

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Pep Guardiola: Time at Manchester City coming to an end?

Pep Guardiola has transformed English football since his arrival in 2016. His philosophy of expansive free flowing football is a joy to watch for the neutral. Alongside playing the beautiful game, the former Barcelona coach has dominated domestically. 2 Premier League titles, 3 domestic cups, including the domestic treble in 2018/19. The Spaniard has proven once again he is an elite manager. However with the rise of Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool, is his time at Manchester City coming to an end?

Guardiola has by no means been a failure in Manchester. Not by any stretch of the imagination. He’s broken countless records, brought consistent silverware to the Etihad and revolutionised their style of play. Yet in 2019/20, his City side have been sub-par. They sit 3rd in the table, behind Leicester and Liverpool, with the gap between 3rd and 1st now a staggering 14 points. The Citizens have stumbled on numerous occasions this season, already losing as many games as the did the whole of last season.

Pep Guardiola

The title race looks to be over already and it’s only December. Quite the contrast to last season’s incredible 2 horse race, who battled all the way until the last day of the season. Even Pep has accepted it.

“The title is over.”

Pep Guardiola on Manchester City’s title hopes after Liverpool’s lead at the top

Pep Guardiola – The legacy

Defeat to Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s Manchester United was the nail in the coffin for me. It looks almost impossible for City to make up such ground on a team that look unstoppable. With the elite mentality they have, Klopp’s Reds just keep grinding out results.

You don’t expect an elite side to give up so early. Let alone the reigning champions. Even if they personally believe that it’s over, they won’t come out in the media and say it. This signals that the sole focus of City this season is the Champions League. A trophy that has eluded them, but also their manager for quite some time.

Pep Guardiola

Over 8 years since the former midfielder lifted club football’s most coveted prize with the Blaugrana. If he wants to strengthen his claim as the greatest manager of all time (let’s be honest, it’s Sir Alex), he’ll have to win it again. Mourinho did it 2 twice at 2 different clubs. Ferguson won it twice. Pep needs to do the same. Especially considering the ridiculous amount of money he’s spent.

Champions League push

To be fair to the Sky Blues, their luck with injuries hasn’t been great. Not that it’s an excuse considering the finance they have available. Losing both Laporte and Sane so early in the season has shaken this team. A team we thought had incredible squad depth. But they are lacklustre at the back, always getting exposed and having no leader to organise them. Vincent Kompany is being missed, that’s for sure.

Pep Guardiola

It’s putting all your eggs in one basket no doubt. If City fall short in Europe once again, winning the FA Cup and/or the League Cup wouldn’t be a compromise. Questions would then begin being asked of the 48 year old. There would no excuse for not getting at least to a semi-final or final, if all the focus will be placed on one competition. There’s no chance he would be sacked by the Manchester City hierarchy. I don’t see an as good alternative to him that’s available. Mikel Arteta has been set up to take over in the long term, not now.

Manchester, Turin or Paris?

The former Bayern Munich manager has said he’s open to an extension. Whether he means that or not, we’ll have to wait and see. I can see him staying at City, just because of this long term project they’re building. But I can also see him moving. Either at the end of this season or next season. Pep only stayed at Barcelona and Bayern for 4 and 3 years respectively.

Juventus and PSG. Two new countries. Two clubs that also dominate domestically, but struggle to win European silverware. They have Guardiola’s name written all over them. I can see him leaving for either of them within the next 2 years.

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