Huddersfield Town apparently missed out on a perceptibly key defensive signing this week, with German side FSV Mainz stealing a march to sign Moussa Niakhate from Metz.
According to French news outlet L’Equipe (H/T Sport Witness), the Premier League outfit approached the player’s camp with a significant offer but were turned down.
The defender is understood to have been linked with several clubs this summer off of the backdrop of a solid season in France, and he’s now set to play his football in Germany with Mainz next term.
This development is thought to be a huge blow for Huddersfield, who are looking to keep their place in England’s top flight, having surprised the masses by surviving last season despite being tipped to go right back down.
— HTAFC Transfer Centre (@HTAFCTransfer) July 8, 2018
All of last season’s newcomers i.e. Huddersfield, Newcastle United and Brighton & Hove Albion managed to stay up, but they are all expecting tougher campaigns as of August.
The Terriers, in particular, are keen on signing defensive reinforcements this summer and had made Niakhate a prime target, per the report. However, the 22-year-old has opted against moving to England and will test himself in the Bundesliga over the course of the upcoming term.
Mainz have since tied the player down to a five-year deal, having parted with the sum of €10m in order to secure the transfer.
The versatile centre-back, who can also play at left-back, is expected to improve the side’s collective defensive ability and could leave David Wagner feeling like he missed out on a real coup if he has as good of a season in Germany.
The memories of football fans can be very fickle things.
There will be fans who still haven’t forgiven certain players or clubs for something that happened back in the 1980s.
Whereas there will be those who are willing to forget a person’s past indiscretions because of the good things they’ve done since.
The past eight years in the life of Vincent Tan and his interactions with Cardiff City F.C. perfectly epitomise this issue.
Having purchased a stake in the Bluebirds in May 2010, Tan was seen as the knight in shining armour for Cardiff due to the dire financial position the club was in after the mismanagement under Sam Hammam and Peter Risdale.
Fans everywhere immediately fell in love with his high belt, his sartorial decisions – most notably the lesser-seen football shirt-over-collared shirt combo – and his willingness to spend money.
However, this goodwill only lasted until May 2012, when it was announced that in order to facilitate a huge investment plan reportedly up to £100m, which would be used to increase the capacity of the stadium and build a new training ground, the colour of Cardiff’s home kit would be changed from it’s traditional blue to red.
This was the first time – and definitely not the last – in my footballing life as a fan that I had genuinely felt emotions ranging from sadness to pure anger towards a decision not made on the pitch and it took me a while to really compute Tan’s thought-process.
To my relief and the relief of Cardiff fans everywhere, Tan reversed his decision to change the kit colour after the outpouring of opposition to his decision.
But it only took a month for Tan to reverse that decision and to go ahead with the rebrand, with his excuse being the red colour would help the club expand into foreign markets.
Despite Tan’s clearance of the £30m Langston Corporation debt, fans turned on him and the club became quite a negative place.
For once, Cardiff were the butt of most jokes from football fans everywhere and surprisingly the jokes weren’t all sheep orientated.
The vitriol that poured towards Tan probably would have reached a tipping point if it hadn’t been for the wonders of the now disgraced Malky Mackay, who was able to lead Cardiff to the Championship title and the Premier League.
The promotion didn’t change the feeling of the fans towards Tan but instead gave them something else they could focus on, meaning the pressure on Tan was eased somewhat.
However, when the pressure increased on Mackay after a poor run of form and it looked like he might be sacked, the fans focused their attention back on Tan and there were threats of violence if Mackay was sacked.
The most memorable moment of this protest came after Cardiff’s loss at Anfield in December where the fans stayed for about an hour after the final whistle, professing their love for Mackay and objecting to his potential removal as Cardiff manager.
But eventually, Mackay was sacked, Ole Gunnar Solskjær came in and Cardiff were relegated.
Once again, the club became a dark place after the relegation with fans deciding to stop turning up, investment on players was down as Tan tried to earn some of his hard-earned money back and there were fears that the club may slide into the black hole that has claimed clubs such as Charlton Athletic, Bolton Wanderers and Blackburn Rovers.
But I believe the ill-feelings towards Tan began to thaw in August 2014 when Mackay was on the brink of being appointed as the new Crystal Palace manager.
It was released – most likely from Tan himself – that Mackay and then sporting director Iain Moody had sent text messages that were
I remember feeling sorry for Tan that he had to put up with such a horrible man, and this is where the road to redemption began for him.
He made the obvious decision and changed the kit colour back to blue, although this didn’t mean that fans forgave him for ripping the soul of the club out.
Despite not doing anything of note on the football pitch between 2014 and 2016 – under the stewardship of such footballing luminaries as Russell Slade and Paul Trollope – Tan was able to recoup some of his finances and Cardiff were able to rid themselves of some of the toxic characters that were with us in the top flight.
But Tan’s stroke of genius came in October 2016 when he hired the man, the myth, the legend – Neil Warnock.
As a man who is so well suited to Cardiff as a city and a fanbase, Warnock was the burst of life that the club needed and has somehow dragged us into the Premier League again.
Alongside the good feelings that Warnock has brought with him, the cooperation that Tan has shown has brought a lot of fans back from the cold and he is once again a firm fan favourite.
And this brings us back to the fickle nature of football fans. Cardiff fans have still not forgiven Peter Risdale for his part in bringing debt to the club but they are able to forgive Tan for all his previous actions.
This is why owners get into football. Not to earn more money but to earn the love and respect of the fans of the club they own and Tan once again has done that.
Well, unless he tries to change the kit colour again.
Sweden manager Janne Andersson believes England could go on to win the World Cup after they beat his side 2-0 in their World Cup quarter-final clash in Samara.
The Three Lions progressed to their first World Cup semi-final since 1990 with an impressive performance against the Swedes, with two headed goals from Harry Maguire and Dele Alli helping England cruise into the last four.
Reflecting during his post-match press conference, Andersson told the assembled reporters (via Sky Sports) that he could envisage England going on to win the World Cup
“Yes I definitely believe England are good enough to win the World Cup,” he revealed. “They are forceful, well organised. I want to pay tribute to the team and the coach.
It would be fair to say that Sweden were outperformed by England on the night, and it’s something that Andersson agreed with as he rued ‘small margins’ that cost his side a victory.
Sweden were undone at two set pieces – goals from which are becoming quite a trend for England – but the Swedish manager lavished praise on England for being ‘the best team’.
“I’m not sure anything went wrong as such. We were faced with a really good opponent and we didn’t reach peak performance.
“The margins are quite small. It’s difficult to create opportunities against a team that is playing a five-man defence.
“There were very few openings generally from the English side. We were faced with a good team, England were the best team today. It’s not always something goes wrong, sometimes your opponent is better. I have the greatest respect for them, and congratulations to England.”
England now go on to face Croatia in the semi-finals of the World Cup after the Croatians picked up a dramatic penalty shootout victory against Russia.
The Premier League side are reported as having made a bid for the Derby County stopper this week and are planning to up it to around £2.5m following the Rams’ snub.
The Championship side, now managed by Chelsea legend Frank Lampard, are quite averse to selling their player, who is considered a hero amongst the supporters. But the folks at the Sun reckon the veteran stopper could be tempted by the possibility of a final stint in the Premier League.
Carson was on Liverpool’s books from 2005 to 2008, but only made four appearances for the Anfield side. He made the same number of outings for the Three Lions, having made his full international debut in 2007.
Brighton are looking rather strong in the keeper department, having signed Jason Steele earlier this summer. They also already have Austrailia stopper Mat Ryan in their employ.
Meanwhile, manager Chris Hughton is also said to be eyeing a move for Sheffield Wednesday
The 24-year-old was one of Sheffield’s best players last season and the side are likely to want to keep him, especially after losing David Brooks to Bournemouth. Yet the defender could also be tempted by any opportunity to join a Premier League side at this stage of his career.
The club are also thought to be involved in a race against West Ham and Everton for the signature of Bayer Leverkusen’s Aleksandar Dragovic, who spent last season on loan at Leicester City.
Brighton & Hove Albion
The player comes in from German side RB Leipzig after helping them to a fifth-placed finish in the Bundesliga last season and will hope to improve the Seagulls’ prospects in the Premier League next season.
A statement on the side’s official website
“The 23-year-old Brazilian full-back, known simply as Bernardo, becomes the club’s fourth first team signing of the summer and joins on a four-year deal.”
The 23-year-old has spent the last two seasons with Leipzig, having joined them from RB Salzburg.
“We’re delighted to welcome Bernardo to the club. He is a strong, committed defender who can play on the left or right, and so his versatility gives us good options at the back,” manager Chris Hughton said following the signing.
“For a young player he already has good experience, having played in the Bundesliga, the Champions League and the Europa League.
“He is a good character and speaks numerous languages, and I’m sure he will fit in well with the rest of the squad.”
Despite not actually being Chelsea manager yet, Maurizio Sarri is reportedly pulling strings behind the scenes to try and bring Gonzalo Higuain to Stamford Bridge.
The sensational rumours that Cristiano Ronaldo could be on his way to Juventus are dominating the Bianconeri-related headlines and the Italian champions could sell Higuain to partly fund the transfer.
If Sportmediaset (via Fox Sports) is to be believed, Chelsea are very keen on Higuain and are closer to completing a deal than one might have thought, to the extent that the Argentine could be announced at the same time as – or shortly after – Sarri.
Antonio Conte is still Chelsea manager at the time of writing but reliable sources have claimed that the Sarri appointment is imminent and could be completed within the next few days.
Higuain’s last season at Napoli coincided with Sarri’s first at the club and it was the most prolific campaign of the Argentine’s career. He scored 38 goals in all competitions, including 36 in 35 Serie A games, which earned him a move to Juventus.
Sarri is keen on reuniting with Higuain and Juve will be prepared to let the 30-year-old leave for