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EPL

Virgil Van ‘Dyke’ – The wall preventing flooding in Anfield for 2 years

Timothy Aiyeku

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Van Dijk

No one will ever forget his Maradona- esque goal for Celtic, dancing through six players before beating the goalkeeper.

He was part of a strong defensive line-up along with Efe Ambrose at the heart of the Hoops defence and they did not concede a goal for 1,215 minutes – a record for Celtic. These incidents prove that Van Dijk was a legend in the making.

 He was rejected in his early days for being slow and weak. He was even hospitalized due to a dangerous abdominal abscess. The scars still feature even today, prominently on his lower stomach. And now, he is arguably the best defender in the world.

At the age of 28, he is regarded as one of the best Liverpool players (debatable….of course) by many football pundits, which is an achievement in itself after just 2 years at the Merseyside club. Former Arsenal defender Martin Keown labelled the Liverpool star “invincible” and considered him to be the best central defender the Premier League has ever seen.

He has a win percentage and clean sheet percentage of 59.7 percent and 37.4 percent and isn’t far behind Chelsea legend John Terry. He is the final piece of the jigsaw at Anfield and has seen his influence compared to that of the legendary Eric Cantona at Man Utd.

Van Dijk has played every minute for the Reds this season and the Liverpool ace will be aiming to join an exclusive club of players to have played every minute of a Premier League title-winning season.

Gary Pallister (1992-93 season, Manchester United), John Terry (2014-15 season, Chelsea), Wes Morgan (2015-16 season, Leicester City), and Cesar Azpilicueta (2016-17 season, Chelsea) are the only four players to have achieved this feat and the Dutch superstar is set to join this elite list of players. He has appeared in all the 29 matches for the Reds, playing for 2610 minutes and has conceded just 21 goals. 

He was successful in winning the title of FIFA’s best male soccer player in 2019 and was close to winning his first Ballon d’Or. 

His dad split with his mother, Hellen, and Virgil found it hard to forgive him for that. And so he decided against wearing his father’s surname on his shirt.

His father was not around for so many important years in his career and it is his mother who is the real hero of all his success and fame today.

Liverpool is set to make Virgil as the highest paid defender in the world as club makes record profits from TV commercials and stadium income after winning the Champions League. The likes of Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino have all been given significant pay rises in recent years, and Van Dijk truly deserves a pay surge. 

It has been claimed his weekly salary will be bumped up from £125,000 a week to £200,000 a week. And a deal of this nature with bonuses added on is likely to be worth more than £50m; it’s only fair that he steers ahead of his rivals on his way to the bank too. 

Van Dijk has made 148 Premier League appearances for Liverpool since joining them for a club record £75m in 2018.

He is by far the most composed player in his position in any league right now and is set to achieve many incredible laurels in his career. He now wants to become a Liverpool legend and believes there is nothing to stop him from achieving incredible things with the European champions. He has no desire of leaving the Reds and wants to go down as one of Liverpool’s greatest servants.

Timothy Aiyeku is a Mass Communication graduate from the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria. He is a sports, everything football analyst.

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Arsenal

Europa League: Arsenal predicted XI against SK Rapid Wien

Timothy Aiyeku

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Alexandre Lacazette

After losing 1-0 to Man City at the weekend, the English Premier League outfit Arsenal will now face SK Rapid Wien in the Europa League in their first European journey this season.

After struggling in the attack against Man City, it is expected that the North London outfit will pull out a new system and Mikel Arteta might consider playing a fairly different team to be able to pull a win.

New Arsenal signing Thomas Partey did not start in the Premier League game against Man City with the Spanish boss claiming that he is not ready for games because he has not had enough training with the club and has not fully understood the system of play despite having all the qualities to do so.

It is, therefore, unknown if the Ghanaian international will be given his full debut in the Europa League game as that decision will be left alone to manager Mikel Arteta to make.

However, the predicted starting eleven could have Bernd Leno give way for Alex Runarsson, while the set-up at the attack could be changed as well.

See predicted XI: Alex Runarsson, Sead Kolanisanc, Rob Holding, Gabriel Magalhaes, Cedric Soares, Ainsley Maitland-Niles, Mohamed Elneny, Joe Willock, Riess Nelson, Smith-Rowe, Nketiah.

The likes of Bukayo Saka, Thomas Partey, Willian, Bernd Leno, Alexandre Lacazette, and Nicolas Pepe could start from the bench.

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Arsenal

Arsenal set for Wolverhampton battle over Bundesliga star

Timothy Aiyeku

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English Premier League outfits Arsenal and Wolverhampton Wanderers are set to battle for the signature of Bayern Munich star Angelo Stiller ahead of the coming transfer window.

The future of the 19-year-old is uncertain at the German Bundesliga outfit as he is considering his long-term future at the club with his current contract set to expire next summer window.

Angelo Stiller recently made his debut for the Bundesliga outfit in the DFB Pokal and there are chances that he has already started his countdown at the club if he eventually decides to leave.

It is understood that a manger Mikel Arteta has watched the versatile midfielder and he will be making a move for him later in the summer transfer window but that will only happen if he makes the decision to leave.

German Bundesliga trio Werder Bremen, Stuttgart, and Union Berlin are reported to be keen on the signature of the Bayern Munich star which leaves him with a lot of options.

However, Wolves are the major contenders for the signature of the 19-year-old as he is believed to prefer a move to the English Premier League than remain in Germany.

Angelo Stiller is one of the players tipped to serve as an alternative to Arsenal’s summer transfer target and Lyon star Houssem Aouar.

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Champions League

Championship defender could be next Man United signing

Timothy Aiyeku

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English Premier League outfit Man United are reportedly making efforts to snap up the signature of 22-year-old Swansea City defender Joe Rodon in the coming transfer window.

It is understood that the race for Joe Rodon will not be an easy one for the Red Devils as they have been joined in the race by Leicester City who are also keen on the service of eth Wales international.

West Ham United and Tottenham are also suitors for the services of the young defender as he is attracting interest from a number of Premier League clubs.

However, Man United are reported to be favourites in the chase of Joe Rodon as they are very keen on him because of the need for a defender in the team.

The Sun reports that Man United had their £7 million offer plus add-ons rejected by Swansea City and the same was done to the North London club when they stepped forward with their offer.

Man United are keen to land a centre-defender that will partner Harry Maguire as the former Leicester City defender is yet to have the perfect partnership that will ensure his best.

Howbeit, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is still in the market and it is expected that the January winter transfer window will be a busy one for the club.

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EPL

The reason why Ole Gunnar Solskjaer singles out Juan Mata for praise

Timothy Aiyeku

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Juan Mata

Man United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has been full of praise of Juan Mata, stressing that he is impressed by the recent form of the star player.

According to him, a lot can be known about a player when they are playing and when they are not, adding that Juan Mata has been able to prove that he is a special breed.

Insisting that everyone at Man United knows his qualities, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer stated that Juan Mata is a professional who was patient when he was not playing, adding that each time he also gets the opportunity to play, you can see what he has to add to the team.

However, it was expected that Juan Mata will bid goodbye to the Red Devils but that did not happen as he stayed back and would be available for the next couple of months.

Man United are aware that they cannot keep Juan Mata for a longer time because of his age but his contribution and experience has been helpful to the team, the reason why Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has been full of his praise.

Howbeit, should Man United secure the service of more talented youngsters, Juan Mata’s playing time will definitely be affected.

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Borussia Dortmund

It is confirmed, United move for this Borussia Dortmund player may NEVER happen

Timothy Aiyeku

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Erling Haaland

If the merging reports are to be believed, then Man United might never secure the signature of Borussia Dortmund player Erling Haaland in the future after missing out on their chance in the past.

The Red Devils are reported to have made an attempt for the signature of the striker but they opted out in the January transfer window because of the agency fee that was deemed too high.

Reports claim that the Red Devils are making efforts to return for his signature in the coming summer transfer window but that might not happen as the player is not interested in a move to the club but prefers a move to the Spanish La Liga giants Real Madrid.

Spanish outlet ABC claims that Real Madrid are now favourites in the chase of Erling Haaland and they are ready to do business with the German Bundesliga outfit in the coming months.

Man United already have a history of failed transfer negotiation with Borussia Dortmund with their experience during their chase of England international winger, Jadon Sancho at the just concluded summer transfer window.

A fee of £108 million could not be met by the Red Devils and that put an end to the deal.

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Arsenal

Alexandre Lacazette’s future could have been decided already

Timothy Aiyeku

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Alexandre Lacazette

The exit of French striker Alexandre Lacazette might have been delayed but it could still happen in the nearest future if the latest development is anything to relate with.

The future of the former Lyon striker was up in the air during the summer transfer window as it was claimed that he would be leaving the club with Atletico Madrid and Juventus as his likely destination but that did not happen as manager Mikel Arteta decided to keep him for the season.

However, Alexandre Lacazette has not been a regular in the Arsenal team as he is mostly used to bench roles. The game against Man City has given the hint that he might not be needed in the Arsenal team with the Spanish boss preferring to use Brazilian international Willian in the centre-forward position knowing that he is a natural winger.

This has raised concerns over the future of Alexandre Lacazette and it is claimed that he might be nearing his exit from the club to have him secure a regular playing time elsewhere.

Meanwhile, the former Man City assistant manager has been accused of being disrespectful to Alexandre Lacazette and not having faith in his ability to lead the team’s attack.

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Arsenal

Is another Mesut Ozil situation happening already?

Timothy Aiyeku

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Mesut Ozil

It is feared that another Mesut Ozil situation might be happening again at the English Premier League club Arsenal with the recent controversies surrounding Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.

It is no longer news to everyone Mesut Ozil has been accused of falling to his comfort zone and not giving his best to the club after he was handed a whopping £350,000-weekly deal to make him the club highest-paid player.

For many months, the North London outfit have not enjoyed the service of their highest-paid player and he seems to be satisfied with it, going by his social media posts and his activities during training.

The same seems to be happening with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang who has not been at his best since he was handed a new and improved deal by the club.

Concerns were raised by Arsenal fans after the former Borussia Dortmund striker failed to help the team in the 1-0 defeat against Man City as it has been observed that he has not scored a goal for few games and has not been at his best.

In a witty response to the criticisms, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang took to his Instagram to post a picture of himself doing an exercise and captioned it “A lot of bla bla. At the end we speak as usual” and this has not gone well with fans.

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Arsenal

Saliba: Why Mikel Arteta might be right at the end

Timothy Aiyeku

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William Saliba

English Premier League outfit Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta has been under attack for keeping William Saliba at the club when he is yet to be handed his debut despite being hyped as a quality player.

The young defender signed for the North London outfit in 2019 but he is yet to be handed his debut as he was loaned out for a season to his former French club.

Now that he has returned, his name is missing from the Europa League squad and the chances of playing in the Premier League are slim. Mikel Arteta had the opportunity of loaning him out during the summer transfer window but failed to do that and was blasted by William Saliba’s former manager.

However, the decision to keep William Saliba might have been justified with the injury of Rob Holding as his presence at the club now gives more options to the club as well as an opportunity for him to have his debut.

The reason for snubbing Willaim Saliba from the Europa League squad is unknown but the current happening and injury situation might have proven him right as he might reconsider his decision and have the player called back into the squad.

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