This summer has been welcoming and very hot but not as much fun as watching the England team during July.
We may still be searching for that elusive second star but the ‘feel good’ the team brought to the country was superb. Whether it was in the pub or sharing the moments of Russia 2018 with friends, this World Cup was up there with Italia 90 as one of the best I’ve witnessed.
Alas, the second half in the semi final against Croatia wasn’t the best and England bowed out in extra time. Even in defeat the Three Lions have showed that English football has unearthed some quality players that could develop in the coming years to challenge the very best in European and World Football.
The emergence of John Stones and Harry McGuire in the middle of the defence has been well documented, young and skilful with the ability to score from our fantastic set pieces, another player to catch the eye was Kieran Trippier, a wing back with a superb shot, his early goal in the semi had thousands of pints thrown into the night sky. Many of the squad have impressed and maybe their best is still to come.
Harry Kane could still collect the ‘Golden Boot’ if England’s defence can stop Belgium’s leading scorer Lukaku adding two goals to his World Cup tally. The talismanic English striker has scored the goals in the run to the semi, but many may remember the first half chance he missed against Croatia more than the ones he scored. He remains a much sought after striker and will be around when the World Cup is played in Qatar in 2022.
Gareth Southgate won hearts and minds with the squad he picked for Russia, it was young, vibrant and nearly good enough to claim a place in the final. Unlike his foreign predecessors he made the press welcome, mixing darts with interviews and the coverage in the papers was the most positive I’ve seen in a long while.
England face Belgium for the bronze medal on Saturday and if they win they will be the most successful English team in the World Cup team since Bobby Moore lifted the trophy back in 1966.
Thank you lads for making us smile, maybe next time you'll bring home the trophy. It was great while it lasted and made us proud, that in itself is a achievement many England teams have failed to do.
By Keith Ingham
Leeds United could be set for an outrageous move for Lazio forward Felipe Caicedo.
The 29-year old forward is said to have been pictured outside Thorpe Arch by a fan and would be the first of an attacking overhaul at Elland Road this summer.
With the likes of Caleb Ekuban and Jay Roy Grot set for spells away from the club, Caicedo could be set for a new look partnership with impending transfer Matej Vydra as Leeds show some muscle in the transfer market.
However rumour-like the move may be, Caicedo is a player you would not picture making a move to Championship having played for clubs including Levante, Lokomotiv Moscow, FC Basel and Lazio last season, where he featured mainly from the bench, scoring 6 goals and creating 3 assists.
The Ecuadorean international has been capped 68 times by his country, scoring 22 goals.
Now surplus to requirements at Lazio, a move back to England where he spent two and a half years contracted to Manchester City could be the opportunity to rejuvenate his career under well respected South American coach Marcelo Bielsa.
Powerful, Agile and great in the air; Caicedo could add something to Leeds’ front line that they currently are desperate for, the ability to hold up the ball convincingly.
The fact the forward also has Premier League experience only adds more to the possibility he could be a hit in the Championship, having made 33 appearances for City scoring 7 goals.
Matej Vydra could well be wearing a Leeds United shirt come the end of the week, but what does he bring to the table?
The Czech forward was heralded for his goal scoring abilities last season, a year which rejuvenated the players career after a few barren seasons.
A suspected £11million offer is on the table for Derby and with the club in dire need of reducing their wage bill, the money up front option could be their best chance at allowing their new manager Frank Lampard the finances to bolster his ageing squad.
With Vydra being left out of Lampard’s training squad in Tenerife and rumours the Rams could secure Chelsea prodigy Tammy Abraham for the upcoming season, a deal to bring the former Watford man looks set to be completed.
But why Vydra? Rumours suggest Bielsa has been increasingly involved in the move having been informed of the strikers availability by DoF Victor Orta.
With the new Leeds head coach set to revolutionise the tactical formation at the club, the need for a mobile forward who can cover large spaces and play on the break will be integral.
Kemal Roofe does give Leeds that option but may struggle to guarantee the club the 20+ goals needed to secure the promotion place being targeted.
Skilful, quick and able to play off the shoulder of the defender or wide right, Vydra possesses key attibutss needed in a leading man that Leeds lacked last year.
His ability to become a handful for the opposing defenders is something last seasons forwards lacked; including the former loanee Pierre-Michel Lasogga.
However, with only one clinical season behind him the deal could be somewhat of a gamble for the Whites. Vydra’s 22 goals last season followed a rather disastrous 16/17 season where he only picked up 5 goals in 33 Championship appearances.
Can Vydra be a star for Leeds? Is this money well spent by the Leeds board? Have your say in the comments below.
By Ryan Ingham
Watching Leeds regress last season was a painful experience for all connected to the Elland Road club, especially as it seemed like the Whites had stabilized after a more than a few turbulent years.
Like many of the players, Leeds owner Andrea Radrizzani had a season to forget as well with his management of the Yorkshire club raising a few eyebrows and, ultimately, resigning Leeds to a season of failure.
Managerial changes have become synonymous with Leeds United over the years and picked up to full steam during the Massimo Cellino era. When Andrea Radrizzani walked through the doors of Elland Road, there was a collective sigh of relief from the support base as, finally, there was a man in charge who had a level head on his shoulders.
Last season showed that Radrizzani was trigger happy when it came to giving a manager the bullet and there will be more than a few that can sympathize with the sacking of Thomas Christiansen. The treatment of Christiansen didn’t reflect Radrizzani in a good light and, even if it was arguably time to move on, Leeds fans will demand it is done the proper way.
Leeds have today announced the signing of midfielder Lewis Baker.
Baker joins on a season long loan from Premiership side Chelsea, where he has only made one appearance.
The talented midfielder is a diamond in the making, having impressed during spells in Holland with Vitesse, picking up the League cup in 2017.
Known for the goals he brings from midfield, Baker has represented England at several youth levels scoring an impressive 9 goals in 14 games for the under 17 side and 8 goals in 17 appearances for England’s Under 21 side.
The 23 year old picked up the Golden Boot during the 2016 Toulon Tournament, scoring in the 2-1 win over France in the final.
Although Baker has initially joined the club on loan, Leeds are said to have opened negotiations with Chelsea for a permanent transfer, an option that may remain on the table. However, there is no discernible agreed fee in the loan contract.
Skilful, quick on the ball and able to add goals to a Leeds squad in dire need of finishers, Baker could soon be a fan favourite with his ability and willingness to take the game into his own hands.
For a long time the club have suffered with poor loan deals for average players, this is not the case when it comes to Baker in what could well become one of the signings of the season.
Are you excited by the signing of Baker? Would you have preferred the deal to be a permanent one? Have your say in the comments below.
By Ryan Ingham
Leeds United could be set to veto moves for Stockdale and Gunn in favour of another keeper.
Chelsea’s Jamal Blackman was spotted at Leeds’ training facility Thorp Arch yesterday and with the addition of his fellow academy graduate Lewis Baker to the Whites, he could be the next to join.
Blackman, a 24-year old stopper who is yet to make an appearance for his boyhood club but does look likely to make a loan switch this summer.
The young stopper spent last season on loan at Championship surprise packages Sheffield United, who sprang to a 10th placed finish having been in playoff contention up until the final third of the season.
Although Leeds currently have youngster Bailey Peacock-Farrell between the sticks, it’s believed the club are actively looking for a second keeper to heat up the race for the number one spot.
Standing at an incredible 6’6, Blackman is able to command the area and is seen as a future England keeper, should he be able to join the ranks of Jack Butland, Jordan Pickford and Nick Pope.
A cost effective and simple addition, Blackman could be exactly what Leeds need to improve their current corps of keeper.
Do you think Blackman would be a good addition? Have your say in the comments below.
By Ryan Ingham
With Leeds continuing with their long term recruitment plan, Arsenal’s decision to allow Marc Bola to leave the club could be a masterstroke.
The talented defender is now a free agent and will have a host of teams tracking his movement as he searches for a new club and Leeds should be one of them.
Bola, who spent last season on loan at Bristol Rovers was praised for his emerging talents, making over 23 appearances in League One.
The defender was heralded for his performance against Fulham’s Championship Player of the Year Ryan Sessegnon in which he took up the right back position and marshalled the talented winger throughout his game as Bristol won the game 1-0.
Bola’s ability to occupy any position across defence including against his natural left foot at right back would give Leeds versatility while keeping the squad smaller than usual, a plan Andrea Radrizanni has highlighted.
With no current club but a very bright future, Bola could be the perfect option to sign on a long deal with very little financial stress and allow for the player to grow.
Even if Bola doesn’t make an immediate impact, the chance for the former Arsenal trainee to continue improving at Leeds should be a perfect deal for the club.
By Ryan Ingham
With Leeds United currently in the market for attacking options, could Dieumerci Mbokani be a reliable target?
The combative striker is set to end his five year stint with Ukrainian giants Dynamo Kyiv when his contract expires at the end of June.
The Congolese international has a strong experience of the English leagues having had stints with both Norwich and Hull City during the past two years and is known for his prolific ability to bag a chance.
Prior to his £11million move to Kyiv, Mbokani was prolific in the Belgian League for Anderlecht in which he scored 48 goals in 79 appearances, including 16 assists.
The combative striker then continued his form with 31 goals and 14 assists in 77 appearances for Kyiv. Most recently, Mbokani scored 12 goals in 29 appearances this season.
Mbokani could be a talented option in the Championship in which his strength and pace will be able challenge the best defenders in the league and will bolster Leeds’ currently inexperienced forward line.
With the departure of the un-prolific Pierre-Michel Lasogga, Leeds are lacking any strength in their forwards and will need varied options in a new look Marcelo Bielsa side.
The prospect of signing such a talented forward for free should entice a Leeds board who are operating on a small transfer budget.
Could Mbokani be a strong option for Leeds? Have your say in the comments below.
By Ryan Ingham
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