Mailbag: Intra-top six transfers, Gerrard, top six challenges and more!
Also: international fatigue and thoughts on Qatar/where sports and politics mix.
Edit: a previous version of this article forgot to list Man Utd in the first question. That was a case of me being very stupid and forgetful. I’ve added them now.
Hi everyone, and thanks for yet more excellent questions. I’m really proud that I seem to have such thoughtful readers who ask me questions that so often challenge and stretch my line of thinking. Here are some of the responses that I felt yielded the most interesting answers.
Mike Downey asks…
“With Gabriel Jesus headed to Arsenal and expected to play a more prominent role in the squad, which players currently at big six clubs would benefit most from a transfer to another big six rival?”
With Chelsea’s interest in Raheem Sterling and Nathan Aké, this is definitely a trend. Or at least a trend at Man City With that in mind, I picked one player from each of the top six clubs (not counting Jesus or Sterling) who would benefit from such a move. For the sake of the game, I’m imagining historic rivalries will not get in the way of these deals. Let’s start with who else could leave City in first place and move down the table:
Man City: they might already be selling the most obvious players to other top six clubs, so we’ll have to dig a little harder. John Stones only made 12 starts in the Premier League last season and, while he should be fine for the World Cup, his England place is under increased threat in the medium term. Another player in the same boat is Harry Maguire. So that’s why I think it would make perfect sense for Stones to move to Man Utd. England’s two starting centre baks would gain greater familiarity and potentially form a strong partnership, in a position where United looked poor last season.
Liverpool: the Reds are also doing some squad pruning this summer, albeit primarily to clubs abroad. I don’t think this is a player they’d like to lose, but Joël Matip should play less and less as Ibrahima Konaté cements his starting spot. One club that would definitely start Matip right now is Chelsea. The Blues need at least two new centre backs this summer, and Matip would be absolutely perfect carrying the ball forward from Thomas Tuchel’s back-three system.
Chelsea: with Todd Boehly trying to bring every winger you’ve ever heard of to Stamford Bridge, Hakim Ziyech is certainly out of favour. Arsenal were strongly linked with Raphinha but didn’t get their man. Ziyech seems a fair alternative, doesn’t he?
Tottenham: does Tanguy Ndombele still “have it”? Can he ever be a top player? I’d at least like to see someone else try. Liverpool still look a little light in midfield, so let’s see what Klopp can do with him.
Arsenal: to be honest I’m stumped on this one. It doesn’t feel like there’s an Arsenal player who could notably improve another club. Please suggest someone if you disagree.
Man Utd: it really is sad, but Marcus Rashford has reached a point where the relationship between club and player is in a terrible state. Sources are leaking that his off-field work is distracting from his performance, which feels so obviously nonsense that it shouldn’t even merit a response. It’s hard to see the bond becoming as strong as it once was, and a fresh start might suit everyone. He certainly has the ability. I think Arsenal would suit him well, with Rashford on the opposite side to Bukayo Saka sounding really exciting.
“If Gerrard signed for Chelsea in 05, how does that change the trajectory of his career, and how would mourinho have played him? Have to think Chelsea win everything over the next seasons”
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