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IAN LADYMAN: Why can’t Manchester City sign good defenders?

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ian ladyman why cant manchester city sign good defenders

On beIN Sports this weekend Richard Keys suggested Pep Guardiola should talk to Roy Hodgson or Sam Allardyce about defending. I am probably not alone in struggling to imagine how that phone call would sound.

And anyway, there is a better, more traditional solution. City could just buy some good defenders.

The latest to arrive is the Portuguese Ruben Dias. He cost £65million and made an encouraging debut in the draw at Leeds United. Earlier in the summer City also signed Nathan Ake from Bournemouth for £41m. Both have been added to a roster of central defenders already comprising John Stones (£47m) and Aymeric Laporte (£57m).

Ruben Dias (right) took Man City's spending on defenders under Pep Guardiola beyond £400m

Ruben Dias (right) took Man City's spending on defenders under Pep Guardiola beyond £400m

Ruben Dias (right) took Man City’s spending on defenders under Pep Guardiola beyond £400m

The former Barcelona boss has yet to get it right at the back despite spending major fees

The former Barcelona boss has yet to get it right at the back despite spending major fees

The former Barcelona boss has yet to get it right at the back despite spending major fees

With this kind of outlay, you would imagine City have a better than even chance of getting it right but their record in the defensive department over the last 10 years is so modest that nothing is guaranteed.

As well as those players already mentioned, City have in recent memory bought Joao Cancelo, Kyle Walker, Danilo, Benjamin Mendy, Nicolas Otamendi and Eliaquim Mangala. That group alone — spread between 2014 and 2019 — cost the club in the region of £250m. There have been individual successes — Otamendi and Walker have done reasonably — but viewed as a whole it hardly reflects the most astute period of transfer business.

Predated in City’s modern history by moves for Joleon Lescott, Matija Nastasic, Stefan Savic, Maicon, Wayne Bridge and Jerome Boateng, it forms a pattern City have been stuck in for too long and is as puzzling as it threatens to be damaging. Last season, when City scored more than 100 Premier League goals, it arguably cost them the title.

Nathan Ake arrived for £41m from Bournemouth this summer but does not appear first choice

Nathan Ake arrived for £41m from Bournemouth this summer but does not appear first choice

Nathan Ake arrived for £41m from Bournemouth this summer but does not appear first choice

Signing the right players is not easy, no matter how much money you have. Champions Liverpool get an awful lot right but not everything. Dejan Lovren was bought from Southampton for £20m as a defensive figurehead in 2014 but three and a half years later Liverpool had to pay almost four times that to buy the defender who would eventually win them the Premier League, Virgil van Dijk.

Some players just do not adjust to life at a top club. Others get injured or distracted. But the truth is that at City, a club that seemingly has little problem recruiting the right attacking players, it has happened too often.

Stones is perhaps the saddest example. Gifted and bought from Everton four summers ago, he was expected to blossom under Guardiola but has withered. Every time City have paid big money for a central defender since then — four times to be precise — Stones must have felt another kick to his wasting self-esteem.

Some of the responsibility for this lies with Guardiola. If he is credited with the reinvention of a player like Sergio Aguero then so he must be blamed when a good player travels backwards.

Equally, City’s recruitment operation, ultimately headed by football director Txiki Begiristain, is culpable.

In attacking positions City seem to get recruitment right, such as star man Kevin De Bruyne

In attacking positions City seem to get recruitment right, such as star man Kevin De Bruyne

In attacking positions City seem to get recruitment right, such as star man Kevin De Bruyne

In the off season of 2017 for example, the same summer City paid Tottenham £45m for Walker, the club spent £26.5m on another right back, the Brazilian Danilo from Real Madrid. After two mediocre seasons, he was sold to Juventus in part exchange for another full back Joao Cancelo. That deal was worth about £60m. And so it adds up.

If Guardiola’s team shakes off an uncertain start to the season and wins another league title then this issue slips away. City are wealthy enough to withstand more transfer missteps than most.

But if City don’t reel Liverpool in we know which way the finger will point and it will not be at Aguero, Raheem Sterling, Kevin De Bruyne or Gabriel Jesus.

United’s expensive Plan B 

Manchester United are finally ready to make an impression in the summer transfer market with the marquee signing of 33-year-old Edinson Cavani.

United’s football under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has found some kind of identity through youthful pace and power on the counter attack.

With that in mind, the most generous thing we can say about Cavani’s impending arrival is that it feels like an expensive Plan B.

Edinson Cavani is incoming for Manchester United but he feels like an expensive Plan B

Edinson Cavani is incoming for Manchester United but he feels like an expensive Plan B

Edinson Cavani is incoming for Manchester United but he feels like an expensive Plan B

Vardy’s lesson for Sturridge

When Daniel Sturridge was making his England debut as a Chelsea player in November 2011, Jamie Vardy was playing for Halifax.

Nine years on and Vardy is being courted gently by Gareth Southgate ahead of a possible second crack at international football while Sturridge does not currently have a club to play for.

Both men are approaching the final years of their career but it seems that only one of them can claim to have got the very best out of themselves.

I hope Sturridge finds a club before the transfer window closes this evening. He is too talented to simply disappear.

Jamie Vardy is being courted by Gareth Southgate for a return to the international set-up

Jamie Vardy is being courted by Gareth Southgate for a return to the international set-up

Jamie Vardy is being courted by Gareth Southgate for a return to the international set-up

Sloppy Reds? Roy has a point 

Roy Keane’s exchange with Jurgen Klopp after Liverpool’s win over Arsenal was great TV. It’s not often Keane appears lost for words but he was once Klopp took issue with the Sky pundit’s suggestion that his team had been ‘sloppy’ during victory.

However, buried beneath all the chuckling and mocking of Keane was one salient point. The former Manchester United captain was right.

Liverpool played very well against Arsenal, just as they had in beating Chelsea the week before. Still, though, Arsenal created three one-on-one chances in a game in which they hardly had the ball.

Against Leeds on opening day, meanwhile, Liverpool conceded three goals at home. So when Keane suggests there may be issues with some of Liverpool’s defending why would anyone laugh?

Klopp’s team now face Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Everton in a fortnight on the back of Sunday night’s shambles at Aston Villa. They have some way to go to settle this argument in their favour.

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp was left stunned at recent comments by pundit Roy Keane

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp was left stunned at recent comments by pundit Roy Keane

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp was left stunned at recent comments by pundit Roy Keane

Ultimately, Keane was right to suggest that Liverpool were sloppy defending against Arsenal

Ultimately, Keane was right to suggest that Liverpool were sloppy defending against Arsenal

Ultimately, Keane was right to suggest that Liverpool were sloppy defending against Arsenal

This post first appeared on dailymail.co.uk

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Napoli centre-back Kalidou Koulibaly ‘will see what happens’ in January transfer window

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napoli centre back kalidou koulibaly will see what happens in january transfer window

Dominant Napoli defender Kalidou Koulibaly ‘will see what happens’ in the January transfer window and appears open to leaving the Italian club. 

The 29-year-old is regarded as one of the best centre-backs in Europe and Manchester City were interested in him this summer but could not agree a deal.

Napoli demanded in excess of £70million, a price too steep for Koulibaly’s suitors. 

Kalidou Koulibaly is relaxed about his future amid interest from Premier League clubs

Kalidou Koulibaly is relaxed about his future amid interest from Premier League clubs

Kalidou Koulibaly is relaxed about his future amid interest from Premier League clubs 

Liverpool may also be tempted to make a move given their injury woes in central defence.  

Virgil van Dijk is out for the long term after Jordan Pickford’s horror tackle caused cruciate ligament damage while Fabinho and Joel Matip are also sidelined, though not for extended periods. 

Koulibaly may be an attractive option to the Reds in the January transfer window if they still feel the need to strengthen the position and the Senegal international is relaxed about his future. 

‘I love Naples and Naples loves me, that’s the most important thing,’ he said via Sky Sports. 

The Senegal international was linked with Manchester City in the summer

The Senegal international was linked with Manchester City in the summer

The Senegal international was linked with Manchester City in the summer

‘I always make myself available game after game, I still have three years of contract, I’m calm, the teams are looking for me but I’m still here.

‘I play at my level and I help this team and these people because I want to give something back to them then we’ll see what happens.’

Koulibaly suffered with injury issues last season but has made a strong start to the season with Napoli, who are second in Serie A after five games. 

Koulibaly is a man mountain at the back for Napoli and recapturing his best form again

Koulibaly is a man mountain at the back for Napoli and recapturing his best form again

Koulibaly is a man mountain at the back for Napoli and recapturing his best form again 

The defender added: ‘I had a more difficult season even if I didn’t do badly but we know the level I have and we knew I could give more.

‘This year the coach told me that it mattered a lot about me because I have to help the team and I had to get back to my level. He simply told me the truth and told me to my face and I went to work and available to everyone and today we see the result,

‘But we must be aware that the season is still long and there are many games where we need to maintain this level.’

This post first appeared on dailymail.co.uk

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Inside Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s brand new luxury bespoke mansion with a pool, bar, Jacuzzi, steam room, sauna and gym

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inside pierre emerick aubameyangs brand new luxury bespoke mansion with a pool bar jacuzzi steam room sauna and gym

PIERRE-EMERICK AUBAMEYANG has spent some of his £350,000-a-week wages on building a luxury new mansion for his family in North London.

The Arsenal captain, 31, tore down an old 1930s house and built an incredible home on the land.

A computer-generated image of Aubameyang's incredible new North London home

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A computer-generated image of Aubameyang’s incredible new North London homeCredit: priceypads.com
The house comes complete with an underground car-park for Auba's impressive car collection

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The house comes complete with an underground car-park for Auba’s impressive car collectionCredit: Instagram / @aubameyang97
Aubameyang and wife Alysha will live at the property with their two sons

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Aubameyang and wife Alysha will live at the property with their two sonsCredit: Splash News
The home comes complete with a stunning indoor swimming pool

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The home comes complete with a stunning indoor swimming poolCredit: architecture.com
The pad also comes fitted with a steam room and sauna

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The pad also comes fitted with a steam room and saunaCredit: priceypads.com

It seems Aubameyang spared no expense having finally committed his future to the Gunners in the summer.

The Gabon star’s new pad comes complete with an incredible fitness suite in the basement.

As well as a gym, Aubameyang has commissioned a new pool, Jacuzzi, steam room AND sauna.

And if that wasn’t enough, there is also a bar and wine cellar built-in.



Upstairs, there are seven bedrooms in the luxury pad, a safe room and ‘extensive entertaining and living spaces’.

The property backs on to an empty field, ensuring Aubameyang, wife Alysha and his two sons – Pierre Jr, four, and Curtys, nine – don’t have their views spoiled.

One of the biggest features in the new home will be the garage.

The ex-Borussia Dortmund star – who is going through a bit of a slump since signing his monster new Arsenal deal in September – is famous for his impressive car collection.

How the home looked before it was finished off with bricks and stone

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How the home looked before it was finished off with bricks and stoneCredit: priceypads.com
The indoor pool looks like the perfect place to relax

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The indoor pool looks like the perfect place to relaxCredit: priceypads.com
The house boasts ample living space

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The house boasts ample living spaceCredit: priceypads.com
Aubamayeng built the property where an obsolete 1930s home once sat

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Aubamayeng built the property where an obsolete 1930s home once satCredit: priceypads.com

His garage is now worth around £3million and includes a rare £2m Ferrari LaFerrari, a stunning £150k Range Rover Sport and a £250k Aston Martin DB9 Volante 2.

And to keep them safe, Aubameyang has installed an underground car-park.

Better still, the parking area is accessed via CAR-LIFT.

According to the architects, Lees Munday, the home is ‘inspired by Cotswold stone manor houses of Cider With Rosie country and the simple white rendered forms of contemporary New England houses in the USA.

The description continues: “Our design seeks to combine the desire for a pitched roofed and columned silhouette that symbolises ‘home’.

“[It also adds] the growing trend for more contemporary features, particularly larger areas of glass to give more light and closer contact with the garden and views.

“The pillared two-storey bays and double height entrance facade create a grand impression down a discrete private driveway approach.

“[It] passes through four small landscaped ‘external rooms’, each containing a gigantic antique cast iron urn.

“The basement leisure suite provides a luxurious pool, Jacuzzi, bar, sauna, steam room and gym, opening out onto a landscaped lightwell.”

GL graphic AUBAs DECLINE 1

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Aubameyang completely customised the seven-bed property

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Aubameyang completely customised the seven-bed propertyCredit: architecture.com
Aubameyang keeps on top form with some at home practise

This post first appeared on thesun.co.uk

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What happened to seven Man Utd kids Sir Alex Ferguson tipped for stardom in 2001 from Darren Fletcher to Luke Chadwick

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what happened to seven man utd kids sir alex ferguson tipped for stardom in 2001 from darren fletcher to luke chadwick

SIR ALEX FERGUSON is one of the greatest football managers of all time.

From being one game from the sack at Old Trafford to transforming the club into a real European heavyweight, Fergie’s tenure will go down in history.

 Sir Alex Ferguson tipped big things from a few players who never quite reached that level

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Sir Alex Ferguson tipped big things from a few players who never quite reached that levelCredit: Reuters

But the great man did make one or two mistakes along the way.

From signing the likes of Bebe, Eric Djemba Djemba  and Gabriel Obertan to the infamous David Beckham boot-kicking episode, there were some colourful times during his 26 years at the club.

After winning the Premier League in 2001, the boss was full of beans for the future.

Fergie tipped seven youngsters from the United youth team that he predicted were destined for greatness.

He said: “Darren Fletcher, who we hope will get over his broken leg, is good. Michael Stewart and Luke Chadwick are doing very well, and John O’Shea’s doing well too.

“There’s a young left-back called Paul Tierney who’s doing well, as is Danny Pugh.

“But there’s a young boy who has started now, he’s 16, called Kieran Richardson. He’s going to be a fantastic player.”

Some lived up to his billing but sadly others failed to make the grade. We take a look at who was a hit and who missed the mark.

John O’Shea

Mr Versatile, O’Shea even played in goal during his time with United.

Far from being a flop, O’Shea featured 256 times for the club between 1999 and 2011.

The Irishman moved on to Sunderland where he captained the Mackems, but couldn’t stop their slide down the leagues.

O’Shea joined Reading for one season in 2018 before retiring and joining their backroom staff, where he is currently first team coach.

 John O'Shea went on to have a decent Man Utd career without ever really bossing it

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John O’Shea went on to have a decent Man Utd career without ever really bossing itCredit: Empics

Darren Fletcher

A capable midfielder who perhaps never got the credit he deserved for his workmanlike performances in the middle of the park.

Incredibly the Scot managed to play at the top level while suffering from a serious bowel condition.

He won five Premier League titles as well as the Champions League during his 342 appearances in 11 years for United.

Fletcher went on to play for West Brom and Stoke before retiring at the age of 36 at the end of last season to begin regular media appearances.

 Darren Fletcher did his njob without too much fuss, and went on to become a Scotland international

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Darren Fletcher did his njob without too much fuss, and went on to become a Scotland internationalCredit: News Group Newspapers Ltd

Luke Chadwick

Once talked about as Beckham’s successor, it’s fair to say Chadwick failed to live up to even half of that billing.

He did feature 38 times in United’s first-team, but that mostly came in cup competitions and coming off the bench.

Chadwick went on to play for West Ham, Stoke, Norwich, MK Dons and Cambridge United before dropping into non-league to finish his career with Soham Town Rangers.

The 39-year-old is now coaching in Cambridge’s academy but hit headlines after revealing his sadness at being mocked on the BBC quiz show They Think It’s All Over – earning an apology from presenters Nick Hancock and Gary Lineker.

 Luke Chadwick never quite filled David Beckham's boots at Old Trafford

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Luke Chadwick never quite filled David Beckham’s boots at Old TraffordCredit: News Group Newspapers Ltd

Kieran Richardson

Fergie described how Richardson would go on to become ‘a fantastic player’.

Like O’Shea and Fletcher, Richardson can look back on a pretty successful career, even making eight England appearances and scoring twice.

He made 81 appearances for United between 2002 and 2007, and went on to play for Sunderland, Fulham, Aston Villa and Cardiff.

 Kieran Richardson never really made it at Old Trafford, but did make eight England appearances

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Kieran Richardson never really made it at Old Trafford, but did make eight England appearancesCredit: News Group Newspapers Ltd

Danny Pugh

Pugh had the honour of making his debut for United when he replaced the legend that is Ruud van Nistelrooy in a Champions League game against Maccabi Haifa in 2002.

But he went on to feature only another six times before being shipped out to Leeds as part of the deal that took Alan Smith to Old Trafford.

Pugh also played for Preston, Stoke, a second spell with Leeds before floating down the leagues.

He is currently coaching at Port Vale after seeing out his playing days with the League Two club.

 Danny Pugh spent most of his career outside England's top flight after leaving United

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Danny Pugh spent most of his career outside England’s top flight after leaving UnitedCredit: Action Images

Michael Stewart

A defensive midfielder in the time when Roy Keane was bossing the opposition as well as the dressing room, Stewart was always going to find it difficult to break through.

The Scot made eight appearances for United between 1998 and 2005 before being moved on to Hibs permanently.

He joined their great rivals Hearts in 2007 where he stayed for three season, before a spell with Genclerbirligi in Turkey and his career ended in 2011 after a nine-game stint at Charlton.

Capped four times by Scotland, he later applied to be a candidate for the Scottish National Party in the 2015 general election – but failed to secure the nomination.

 Michael Stewart had the small matter of Roy Keane to try and displace from the midfield spot

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Michael Stewart had the small matter of Roy Keane to try and displace from the midfield spotCredit: Eddie Keogh

Paul Tierney

After shining at youth levels at United, Tierney made only ONE first-team appearance – in the League Cup against West Brom in 2003.

The right-back joined up with Scottish side Livingston in 2005 but was flogged on to Blackpool when they were relegated from the SPL.

After a loan spell with Stockport, he was released by the Seasiders. Tierney ended his career with a three-game stint with Altincham.

 Paul Tierney made a solitary appearance for United in the League Cup before moving to Livingston in 2005

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Paul Tierney made a solitary appearance for United in the League Cup before moving to Livingston in 2005Credit: Getty Images – Getty
Rio Ferdinand compares Marcus Rashford’s performance to an older kid bullying younger kids and “taking their dinner money”

This post first appeared on thesun.co.uk

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