3 Key areas for Atleti next season.

1. Kevin Gameiro and the striker situation

Atleti have struggled with finding a player to lead the line since David Villa left. Mandzukic was the first to try, but though he scored often and provided Griezmann with

plenty of ammo he lacked the speed and athleticism required.

Jackson Martinez and Luciano Vietto were the experiments last season, Jackson looking like the more athletic, physical target man they needed. Unfortunately he wasn’t good enough. At all. Why not is not clear but it appeared the step up from Liga NOS to La Liga was simply too big. Vietto looked like another Griezmann project – a young forward who after Simeone got his principles through would become the long term forward Atleti needed. But as we know, that simply didn’t happen. Apart from a little clever link play outside the box he contributed very little and generally floundered in Atleti’s system.

That left Fernando Torrid Torres to lead the line as of January. To be fair, from about March onwards he played well, stretching the back-line and linking play well. He was a stopgap, and effective one, but a stopgap none the less.

Now we have Kevin Gameiro. Stylistically he is a change from Jackson and Mandzukic, a speed based channel runner rather than a physical target man. In theory it should work, dragging defenders away to create space for Griezmann and the attacking midfielders to exploit, but frankly if the last few have taught us anything, its that leading the line for Atleti is no easy feat.

 

2. Balance in the midfield

By the end of last season Atleti had a very clear first choice eleven (with one exception: Savic vs Gimenez) which looked like this:

Screenshot from 2016-08-10 17-26-26

The midfield being the interesting part: none of these players are irrefutably wide players (you could make a case for Koke, but most agree long term he should play centrally).

Gabi is the traditional midfield general. Breaks up play deep before distributing the ball forwards and leading his team from the centre

Saul is (in terms of positional versatility at least) the Spanish James Milner, able to play centre back, left wing, right wing, defensive midfield, attacking midfield, central midfield and even as a second striker. But always had most impact running from deep midfield into the attacking third, late Lampard style.

Augusto actually has spent most of his career as a right winger however in the last 2 seasons that has stopped completely – despite his past he is a defensive midfielder through and through.

Finally, Koke. where he plays best is subject to the most most debate. This season his best play came mostly from the right wing where he was moved to accommodate Carrasco – his ability between the lines and in the channels shone, but long term him either dictating from the centre or cutting in from the left looks the sensible options. Isco struggling on the right is a good comparison.

From these 4 a strong midfield was born. Saul wasn’t quite in his best position but he made it work for the team. This season however a spanner has been thrown into the works – a spanner named Nicolas Gaitan.

Gaitan will be coming in expecting to play – and he will. Slotting in on the left in either a 433 (Griezmann on the right) or the above 442 means displacing Koke – the only player (bar Godin) Simeone has described as ‘untransferable.’ Obviously Koke will (and should) start. The question is where? Most people have been calling for years to play Koke centrally, and on occasion, he has. Largely though Simeone has resisted and when Tiago was injured Koke was left wide and Saul was brought centrally. Why?

I strongly believe Simeone resists because of balance – for years Tiago and Gabi have almost been fighting each other for who can be more defensive than the other. Simeone sets his centre midfielders so deep that offensively they contribute little (except when he switches to 433) so in a 2 Koke may be wasted. Bringing Saul with his powerful running inside would help but that pushes Koke onto the right. It seems certain that all of Saul, Koke and Gabi will start but other than a switch to 433 (which isn’t good for Griezmann) it is struggle to get the best out of all three.

 

3. Quality in depth

I ran a poll the other day on which of the big 3 had the best backup eleven (vist the post to see the lineups, comments etc – https://plus.google.com/+TomFedrick/posts/RYypYyEUYbD)

Real Madrid won with 63% of the vote, Barca second with 28% and Atleti third with just 8% (yes I know that is 99% – it’s a rounding error). This shows how much worse Atleti’s backup is compared to Real and Barca’s. And frankly that isn’t surprising; Torres despite last season isn’t that great a backup, Hernandez hasn’t made many appearances and Oli has more or less faded into obscurity. Due to this Atleti may struggle to rotate in some areas and hence keeping players fresh will be more challenging. As will substitutions – Angel Correa and Yannick Ferriera-Carrasco are great options from the bench but honestly simply aren’t at the level of Rafinha Alcantara or James Rodriguez, at the back Vrsaljko and Savic are good but not Raphael Varane and Lucas Digne good.

Esentially, whichever way you spin it Atleti don’t have a squad as talent rich as the old big two. This, the other two issues mentioned here and many others besides are just some of the issues Atleti will come across (and knowing Atleti, solve) throughout the season.

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What happens to international football if Catalunya gains independence? Part 2.

Ok, the first part of this dealt with the quality of the Catalan team could have, and what lineups they could have, now the second half will be the effect on the La Furia Roja.

Well first lets look at their EURO 2016 squad (with one substitution) at time of selection:

Number Name Position(s) Club League
1. Iker Casillas GK Porto Liga NOS
2. Cesar Azpilicueta RB, LB Chelsea Premier League
3. Gerard Pique CB Barcelona La Liga
4. Marc Bartra CB Barcelona La Liga
5. Sergio Busquets DM, CM Barcelona La Liga
6. Andres Iniesta CM, AM, LW Barcelona La Liga
7. Alvaro Morata CF Juventus Serie A
8. Koke LW, CM, RW, AM Atletico Madrid La Liga
9. Lucas Vazquez RW, LW Real Madrid La Liga
10. Cesc Fabregas CM, AM Chelsea Premier League
11. Pedro Rodriguez LW, RW Chelsea Premier League
12. Dani Carvajal RB Real Madrid La Liga
13. David De Gea GK Manchester United Premier League
14 Thiago Alcantara CM, AM Bayern Munich Bundesliga
15. Sergio Ramos CB, RB Real Madrid La Liga
16. Juanfran RB Atletico Madrid La Liga
17. Mikel San Jose DM, CM, CB Athletic Bilbao La Liga
18. Jordi Alba LB, LW Barcelona La Liga
19. Bruno Soriano CM, DM Villareal La Liga
20. Aritz Aduriz CF Athletic Bilbao La Liga
21. David Silva AM, RW, LW, CM Manchester City Premier League
22. Nolito LW Celta Vigo La Liga
23. Sergio Rico GK Sevilla La Liga

That substitution being Carvajal for Bellerin – Carvajal was in the original squad, but then got injured and was replaced by Bellerin.

From this list 5 have been highlighted – those who are Catalan. Notably 4 of these players (Pique, Alba, Busquets and Fabregas) all started at every game at the euros, A sizeable blow obviously. 5 players to replace them would sensibly be:

Victor Ruiz, Javi Martinez, Saul Niguez, Juan Bernat and Santi Cazorla – now for why.

Victor Ruiz for Pique – a victim of Vincente Del Bosque’s HUGE big club bias, should have been in the squad above Bartra.

Javi Martinez for Marc Bartra – the argument regarding if he is a central midfielder or a centre back is ongoing, but he undoubtedly is excellent at CB. Especially considering the alternative is Nacho Fernandez.

Saul Niguez for Sergio Busquets – Can play the holding role of the player he’s replacing and pretty much everywhere else as well. Bizarre he didn’t make the euros.

Juan Bernat for Jordi Alba – similar in style: a short, fast, very attacking LB. He’s been in numerous Spain squads before – so was the obvious pick.

Santi Cazorla for Cesc Fabregas – Cazorla has normally been consistently in the Spain squads and only missed out due to injury problems, playing a very similar role a club level makes him a perfect replacement.

So after this what does the Spain lineup look like? Taking what they played as the euros then replacing directly you get this:

Screenshot from 2016-08-07 12-40-30.png

Pique being replaced by Javi Martinez, Alba by Bernat, Busquets by Bruno and Fabregas by Cazorla.

Why these players?

Martinez as the CB partner as after The Netherlands tore Spain apart at the 2014 world cup this substitution happened – so repeat it here.

Bernat as the other option is Azpilicueta – who wouldn’t provide the attacking impetus and width on the left needed with Nolito’s love of cutting inside.

Bruno for Busquets, this was a tough call. Javi Martinez could have filled this role (Ruiz at CB), San Jose would be a more physical option and Saul was in the best form this season. But I went for Bruno as he is the most similar player to Busquets (and very underrated and overlooked as well). Saul always seems hamstrung by being limited to DM, San Jose probably isn’t a good enough passer and I think Martinez would suit CB better in this teamwork

Finally Cazorla replacing Fabregas – Do I need to explain again? What I said earlier justifying him being in the squad is equally applicable here. He regularly starts for Spain anyway, 77 caps in total.

How would this team do? Probably about as well as it normally does today. Bruno and Bernat as possible weak spots but overall the team is still almost as strong as it was before. Tactically, again little would change. Martinez and Bruno aren’t quite as good in terms of passing as Pique and Busquets so ball retention would be harder – but still classes above most other teams.

The short term impact on this team would be big – especially defensively, but long term it would be fine.

Robbie Brady – why he should be Liverpool’s LB target

Robbie Brady has been relegated from the premier league twice in a row – first with Hull, now with Norwich. Hardly seems like the type of player a team with Liverpool’s ambition should be targeting. But frankly, he is one of the most underrated and unjustly not talked about player around today.

Last season Brady was one of Norwich’s best players – be that at Left Back, left wing, right wing or right back. And at Hull and for the Ireland national team had also played central midfield and number 10 as well. This versatility would undoubtedly be useful.

But frankly, enough about his versatility, what about quality. According to Squakwa he was Norwich’s best player this season bar none, best defence score for any full back and best attack score bar none. Admittedly Norwich’s attack wasn’t great but for a player who played primarily at LB to be the most impactful attacking threat is very impressive. For Hull the story is similar as well.

What about fitting into Klopp’s system? Klopp has always liked (at least) one full back to be a wide playmaker of sorts – not limited to crossing but also linking with central players. Grosskreutz, Durm, Schmelzer and now Moreno have been the primary beneficiaries of this and Brady fits this role perfectly – he ability to play infield has made him very comfortable cutting inside and acting like be a number 10, and it works! Playing quick clever balls to the likes of Jarvis and Hoolahan before dropping back wide and deep to enable an overlap later on.

Drawbacks? He isn’t great at maintaining possession, but with the high pressing, counterattacking style Liverpool currently enjoy that isn’t to much of an issue. The biggest Issue I forsee isn’t actually a footballing one – It’s an image one. Signing a player from a relegated club doesn’t exactly come with prestige, nor scream ambition – regardless of quality (see the criticism of the Wijnaldum and Gueye signings by Liverpool and Everton respectively). But frankly, I don’t care – if a signing improves the squad it shouldn’t matter where they came from. Diafra Sakho came from the French second division and lit up the EPL, Barca singed Marlon for the B team from Fluminense and he’s played so well in pre-season I wouldn’t be surprised if he gets a little first team action.

Overall the best thing about Brady will be the price and how achievable it will be – Norwich have been relegated so will have reduce their wage bill and Brady will likely want to return to the top flight quickly. With a deal like this, there will be no transfer saga (cough Hector cough) while he decides which top flight, competitive club he likes more. And Brady wouldn’t preclude signing a new, more defensive LB as well – again using Hector as the example, Hector often played as a DM this season (the position Can needs a partner in) leaving Brady and Moreno to LB – Hector moving over when needed. Likewise Brady could easily cover the attacking midfield three leaving Hector and Moreno LB. The possibilities resulting from having such versatile players are great.

Overall, the signing of Brady has no significant downsides. Even if he doesn’t replace Moreno, competition and cover is just as much an issue. As a good, versatile, risk-free signing for LB, Robbie Brady is surely the perfect choice.

Why on earth have Barca signed Andre Gomes.

In the past few days (former) Valencia attacking midfielder Andre Gomes on a long term contract. The question on most people’s mind in why.

Gomes has primarily played up till now as a number 10 – and with Barca almost always playing 433 there is no natural fit for him. Granted he has played in a pivot before so would likely be comfortable in the midfield 3 for Barca, and sometimes has played wide as well. So he can fit in with a little compromise.

But It isn’t like Barcelona actually need anyone of that mould – swap Gomes for Rafinha Alcantara and its all still true. Turan can also play the offensive midfield roles, so can Denis Suarez and Sergi Roberto. Even Busquets and Sergi Samper are capable there, even if the holding role is a more natural fit.

So thats 6 capable BACKUPS! Because the starting offensive midfielders (Iniesta and Rakitic) haven’t even been mentioned yet!

Out wide the situation isn’t much better – Turan, Rafinha, Denis Suarez, Munir and Sergi can all play wide, with the immovable objects of Messi and Neymar having both wide roles locked down.

Gomes isn’t going to take a starting spot from any of Rakitic, Iniesta, Messi or Neymar. Rafinha and Turan are both better centrally, Suarez and Turan (again) better wide. Gomes joining really doesn’t add up.

Then question then takes another turn – he’s 22. Maybe he’s a signing for the future. Possible in a round-about way, but he cost £45 million! Backups for youth development aren’t even close to that expensive – 22 isn’t even that young in football terms.

 

It’s also not like recent form is on his side either, Valencia (Gomes included) were largely awful last season. Going through 4 managers in quick succession and finishing as low as 12th after flirting with a relegation fight. Then you compare him to his competition at Barca next season (based on La Liga):

Screenshot from 2016-07-22 19-38-15.png

Summed up: worst, best, worst, worst, second worst, third worst, third worst, second worst.

In fact if you add up on a points system (best = 5, worst = 1)

the ranking ends up like this:

  • 1. Rafinha (32 points)
  • =2. Turan (25 points)
  • =2. Roberto (25 points)
  • 4. Suarez (20 points)
  • 5. Gomes (18 points)

 

So that makes Andre Gomes statistically Barcelona’s WORST attacking midfielder. It’s even worse than it sounds as well – two of the times he came bottom are total score and possession score. Total score speaks for itself – all things considered he played badly (not unlike the rest of Valencia). But the fact the possession score is (very) bad as well, yet he pitched up at Barca of all places is baffling. Admittedly Barca are now more direct than they were under Pep and Tito but they still dominate possession in almost every single game.

The story in the recent EURO 2016 is similar – expected to be the driving force in the midfield alongside players like Joao Mario, Joao Moutinho and William Carvalho, instead he drifted off into obscurity and everyone forgot about him.

 

Frankly I could go on for pages about why Gomes isn’t close to being good enough for £45 million but that isn’t the question. The question is why did he sign – now I will put forward my suggestion:

So Real Madrid Couldn’t.

Real Madrid had been linked to Andre Gomes for weeks, with even Zidane himself talking him up. Suddenly though, after almost no speculation or links, he’s announced as a Barcelona player.

Look back to 31 March 2015. Danilo was announced as a Real Madrid played in March after months of speculation he would be the replacement for the (assumed leaving at that point) Dani Alves.

The circumstances were odd – Announcing a transfer in late march, about as far from a transfer window as possible, for an exorbitant fee after little indication of interest from either party. Real Madrid didn’t need a RB – Carvajal is one of the best in the world, Arbeloa was a good backup and Nacho could easily slide across.

Instead Real Madrid signed a unneeded player for huge money largely because it would be a blow to Barcelona. Now Barcelona have signed a unneeded player for huge money largely because it would be a blow to Real Madrid.

 

Do Barca need Andre Gomes? No, but stopping Real Madrid from strengthening appears reason enough for Barca.

 

All stats per Squawka.com

What happens to international football if Catalunya gains independence? Part 1.

For those of you who don’t know Catalunya is a very industrial area of Spain containing most notably Barcelona which has been attempting to gain independence from Spain for years now. Catalan flags hang from most windows and petitions are regularly on the street. What is less well known is that they actually have a separate football team from Spain (though for tournaments they come together) – The question I pose here is what would happen if they gained independence today? How would the Spanish team suffer and how well would the Catalan team compete?

First lets build a squad:

Squad number Name Club Position(s)
1 Kiko Casilla Real Madrid GK
2 Martin Montoya Barcelona RB
3 Gerard Pique Barcelona CB
4 Jordi Amat Swansea CB/DM
5 Sergio Busquets Barcelona DM/CM
6 Joan Verdu Released from Levante RW/AM/LW/CM
7 Bojan Krkic Stoke AM/ST/RW/LW
8 Victor Sanchez Espanyol CM/DM
9 Sergio Garcia Al-Raayan ST
10 Cesc Fabregas Chelsea CM/AM
11 Jonathan Soriano RB Salzburg ST
12 Alberto de la Bella Soceidad LB
13 Pau Lopez Espanyol GK
14 Piti Rayo Vallecano LW/RW
15 Marc Bartra Borussia Dortmund CB
16 Sergi Samper Barcelona DM/CM
17 Andreu Fontas Celta Vigo CB/DM
18 Jordi Alba Barcelona LB/LW
19 Gerard Deulofeu Everton RW
20 Sergi Roberto Barcelona CM/DM/RB/LB/RW
21 Marc Muniesa Stoke CB/LB/DM
22 Aleix Vidal Barcelona RB/RW
23 Jordi Masip Barcelona GK

Totalling:

3 goalkeepers,

5 centre backs,

4 full backs,

2 defensive midfielders,

4 offensive midfielders,

3 wide players,

2 strikers.

Plus of course of positional versatility – especially in players like Bojan and Sergi.

 

From this we can make a team:

Screenshot from 2016-07-04 10-00-49

Unsurprisingly, the Barcelona connection is strong – every outfield player spent time in La Masia and 5 of them play for the first team today.

Largely this would play out like Barcelona play anyway – Alba and Vidal as offensive fullbacks, Fabregas being creative and free like Iniesta, Sergi the box-to-box runner in the role Rakitic plays, Bartra playing as he did prior to leaving and obviously Busquets and Pique playing the roles of Busquets and Pique. The Front 3 would work a little different – Bojan being the closest this team has to Messi except playing on the left and Deulofeu a true winger unlike Neymar.

Overall, this team would be a pretty impressive force on international stage – Pique, Alba, Busquets and Fabregas are all starters on the Spainsh national team, with Bartra, Vidal and Sergi having been in the squad in the last year (Bartra at EURO 2016).

The biggest issues this team would have would likely be at striker – Soriano and Garcia (though prolific) play in weaker leagues. If they fail to have an impact Bojan has spent a significant portion of the season for Stoke playing as a roaming centre forward, dropping deep at collecting the ball to run at the defence. And if that doesn’t work Fabregas played as a false nine for Spain (and sometimes Barca) for many years – its not preferable, but if needs must.

The only other issues that could be faced are the squad being slightly unbalanced – as many players are defensive leaving few CFs and wingers present, but that is largely caused by the other issue – depth. With players playing in leagues such as the Qatar star league and the La Liga Segunda B many of the backups are not to the standard of the starters. For example, as much as they are good players, Victor Sanchez, Andreu Fontas and Alberto de la Bella are a big step down from Cesc Fabregas, Gerard Pique and Jordi Alba.

However the formation of this team may not even be the biggest fallout should these teams split – what happens to the Spanish team? That will be part 2.

Why England failed at EURO 2016.

Why England failed (again) at the Euros.

Here we go again, England are out after a underwhelming group stage and a outright failure in the first knock-out round. The Real question is why? Kane and Vardy scored about 25 goals each this season, Rose was in the PFA team of the year, Walker unlucky to miss out and numerous other players who should have taken us much further than they did.

Lets start with the defense – despite his atrocious performances on occasion is safe from criticism here: a good campaign with city and being England’s number 1 for years gives him familiarity. Forster was great for Southampton of course and maybe should have come in for the last game or 2, but from the start at least, he was the right choice.

What about the back four then? Again the selection was probably right – Walker was excellent and so was Rose (for England and Spurs) but the weak point was CB. Smalling had HUGE hype around him in the last year – throughout 2015 he was imperious Mike Smalldini as some fans referred to him as tailed off post January and while he was still good, great he was not. Cahill was equally not great – he lost his place to Kurt Zouma at the beginning of the season and only really was a regular this season because of his injury. Like 2016 Smalling he was fine, nothing better.

But frankly with the other options being Phil Jagielka and John Stones – both being walking defensive errors, again they were likely the right choices.

Now the midfield – oh boy this was bad. Dier was brilliant; alongside Walker the best players for England at the euros. The rest of the midfield… less so. Rooney puts a shift in – and though this is endearing to the public – his lack of short passing and technical ability made him a liability on occasion. The biggest issue with him being his passing speed on his long passes – it is SO slow! Gently lofting the ball towards the right channel repeatedly but not only was it predictable but even if they failed to predict it you could run the width of the pitch and intercept it before it ever reached its destination. Frankly seeing Rooney shouting a his team-mates to keep play moving faster was pretty ironic.

He isn’t a great CM, he isn’t the next Paul Scholes. In fact Rooney has become the new Lampard/Gerrard problem – both wedged ill-fittingly into the team to the detriment of everyone else (including Scholes). Now Rooney is doing the same thing – occupying a midfield berth that should have gone to a more suited player – Wilshere’s creativity, Milner’s work ethic (and underrated on the ball ability) shoul have started above him.

Dele Alli – better, but not good. He was the main threat from midfield – running from deep, receiving the ball at the edge of the box and making clever passes. But it never really came together for him. Him playing at N10 for Spurs has shown that that is his best position; yes though he began the season deep in midfield, he excelled later further forward – displacing Eriksen as Spurs’ central hub.

But that wasn’t the biggest issue. He looked tired for much of the time (like Kane later) and consequently his technical skill as well as his athletic ability suffered. His first touch was inconsistent, his passing equally so and his shooting wayward at best.

The forwards – Lallana was excellent. He played more like a more offensive Modric – always creating chances, opening space and getting the pass before the key pass. Otherwise it wasn’t good.

Sterling should have been selected based on his warm-up games considering he assisted every goal we scored then. But after his first game he should have been dropped instantly and not reinstated so quickly.

Kane (like team-mate Alli) looked tired and ineffectual. Nothing came off for him at the euros – he simply never looked fit nor comfortable (in the system). His alternatives (Vardy and Sturridge) didn’t fare much better though.

Vardy simply didn’t get to play how he wanted – he plays best in a pair with a second striker filling the space he leaves behind chasing long balls. His channel running and ability to chase a ball out wide before beating his man inside are his greatest strengths – and playing the disciplined, solely central role Hodgson asked of him was very different to this and completely nullified his abilities.

Sturridge again had little impact, though also not his fault. He is NOT a winger – he has shown this at liverpool playing a mixed, all round CF – not the RW position he has struggled with at every senior club he has played for.

But even this doesn’t explain our exit. The real issue lay with tactics – 433 was a mistake. Our best midfielder was a number 10 and we only brought 2 natural wide players (or 1 if you don’t count Lallana). The vast majority of players wanted Kane and Vardy playing up front together – and Hodgson tried to implement this in the last warm-up game against Portugal.

The lineup was

Hart, Walker, Cahill, Smalling, Rose, Dier, Alli, Milner, Rooney, Vardy, Kane

To the vast majority of people this looked like a diamond with either Alli or Rooney behind the front 2. But it wasn’t. It played out like this:

Screenshot from 2016-06-30 12-40-40.png

It had Rooney pushing so high up the field that Kane and Vardy had to play as wingers (in fact sky sports actually list it as a 433 with rooney at CF). This made both Kane and Vardy completely ineffective and as Rooney only came into the number 9 area by running from deep made him impact less as well.

Essentially this was what convinced Hodgson to avoid the diamond – and with good reason. England were stodgy and pretty bad. But the diamond wasn’t the issue, a traditional diamond would have been perfect – the only reason the diamond failed was it played like a striker deficient 433. If Alli had played behind a narrow Vardy and Kane, with Rose and Walker providing the width it would have worked against all the defensive teams we set up against due to the ability to overload the middle.

Essentially the issue was unlike Spain, Portugal, France and pretty much every other team in the euros, England didn’t have a set system and playing style. And Hodgson’s tactics of lets make it up as we go along simply doesn’t cut it on the biggest stages.

How Manchester City should line up next season

For Man City the attack didn’t need any improvement – the defence is what needs to be improved. 3/4 of these changes are to the defence starting with:

Fabinho: Linked last season to Manchester United but here moving to the other side of Manchester. Here mainly because of additional defensive solidity but also because of one other trait – his ability to play in holding midfield. Obviously this is useful for versatility but that’s not I valued it here; the more attacking player I added in the pivot (spoilers: It’s Gundogan) would leave space to be exploited; with Fabinho’s ability to protect to back 4 (or 3, I guess) centrally would help cover for this. Pep actually does something similar at Bayern – Lahm comes inside sometimes to cover for Vidal.

Kalidou Koulibaly: He has come off a great season with Napoli (like the rest of the team actually) and is now being extensively linked to various clubs (most often Arsenal – obviously). His passing is also excellent – Something Pep is known for liking – or more accurately requiring. He also has a strong physical presence – alongside Otamendi (or Kompany in the unlikely event he is fit) could be a powerful pairing at CB.

Juan Bernat: Unlikely to play that much of a role at Bayern with Alaba likely returning to LB under Ancelotti and with Badstuber and Rafinha able to play LB he is unlikely to be missed that much. For City however he would provide a powerful attacking presence on the left that could hopefully form a similar kind of chemistry that Sterling and Kolarov enjoyed at the beginning of the season.

Ilkay Gundogan: Gundogan has often been linked to city over the last year or so – but unlike most transfer rumours (like the time the Mirror linked Blackburn’s Junior Hoilett to Bayern) – this one actually makes sense. Here in a very similar role to that which he currently enjoys for Dortmund or running from deep to play in the spaces the more advanced playmaker (here Kevin De Bruyne) leaves behind (for an EPL focussed example watch Cazorla play for Arsenal – similar concept). Gundogan has shown this season why he had been linked to places like Barca in the past – one to watch in Euro 2016.

After all those changes the result is this:

 

Screenshot from 2016-05-23 17-30-07

Thoughts?

Tom Fedrick.