Bayern Munich vs Real Madrid Preview: Where to Watch, Live Stream, Kick Off Time & Team News

?Bayern Munich take on Real Madrid on Sunday in the International Champions Cup in Houston, Texas, with both sides looking to get off the mark in the tournament.

The match will showcase new signings for both sides, with Real boasting the arrivals of Eden Hazard, Luka Jovic, Rodrygo, and Ferland Mendy. Bayern will be hoping to give fans a glimpse of World Cup hero Benjamin Pavard.

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Take a look at 90min’s preview of the clash below.


Where to Watch

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?When Is Kick Off?                                                Sunday 21 July                                            
?What Time Is Kick Off? ?01:00 (BST)
?Where Is it Played? ?NRG Stadium, Houston
?TV Channel/Live Stream? ?ESPN
?Referee? ?TBC

Team News

?The only player missing from the Munich squad is £72m signing Lucas Hernandez who is recovering from a knee operation back in Germany. Niko Kovac will be looking to give the club’s young talents some invaluable first team experience.

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As for Zinedine Zidane, he will be missing former Manchester City prospect Brahim Diaz due to a bicep injury. A summer with a heavy international schedule will also mean late returns from those involved in the Copa America, the Gold Cup, and the European Under-21 Championships. 


Predicted Lineups

?Bayern 
Munich 
 
Neuer; Pavard, Alaba, Sule, Kimmich; Gnabry, Tolisso, Thiago, Coman, Singh; Lewandowski.
?Real Madrid ?Courtois; Varane, Vallejo, Odriozola, Mendy; Valverde, Modric, Kroos; Rodygo, Hazard, Jovic.

Head to Head Record

Excluding friendlies, the two giants have met 26 times?. Los Blancos have the edge over Die Bayern with 12 victories compared to the German’s 11. 

Robert Lewandowski,Raphael Varane

The most recent meeting between the two came in the 2017/18 Champions League semi-finals when it was Zidane’s side who progressed, eventually going on to win the competition for the third season in a row.

In fact, Bayern haven’t managed to beat the side from the Spanish capital since 2012, a record Kovac will want to put an end to.


Recent Form

There is no doubt that Bayern will be hoping to pick up where they left off in last season’s incredibly strong run-in that saw the squad win the DFB Pokal and pip Borussia Dortmund to the Bundesliga title.

However, their performances in this summer’s friendlies so far have been a mixed bag, losing to Arsenal in their International Champions Cup opener.?

Thiago Alcantara,Mesut Oezil

Sunday’s match in Houston will be Real’s first since they limped home with a 2-0 defeat to Real Betis at the Bernabeu on the last day of the 2018/19 La Liga season. They will be looking to put last year behind them and continue where Zidane left them two seasons ago.

Here’s how each side has fared in their last five results:

?Bayern Munich Real Madrid?
?Arsenal 2-1 Bayern Munich (18/7) ?Real Madrid 0-2 Real Betis (19/5)
?Lindau 2-4 Bayern Munich (29/5) ?Real Sociedad 3-1 Real Madrid (12/5)       
?Kaiserslautern 1-1 Bayern Munich (27/5) ?Real Madrid 3-2 Villarreal (5/5)
?RB Leipzig 0-3 Bayern Munich (25/5) ?Rayo Vallecano 1-0 Real Madrid (28/4)
?Bayern Munich 5-1 Eintracht Frankfurt (18/5)   ?Getafe 0-0 Real Madrid (25/4)

Prediction

Both managers will be looking more at the performances rather than the result. However, there is no harm in winning matches in preparation for the new season. 

?Real Madrid have lots of work to do after last season’s shambolic performances. They may also still be a little rough around the edges with much of the squad yet to play together.

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?Bayern Munich will perhaps be a little more prepared but not by much. Their 2-1 defeat to Arsenal shows the importance of having these games, highlighting any major problems before the start of the season. 

The Germans should come out on top.

Prediction: Bayern Munich 3-1 Real Madrid

Let’

Louis van Gaal: The Mercurial & Enigmatic Dutch Master’s All-Time Best XI

Louis van Gaal is number 22 in 90min’s Top 50 Great Managers of All Time series. Follow the rest of the series over the course of the next five weeks. You can find Jamie Spencer’s Van Gaal career overview ?here


?In the best part of 30 years as a manager, Louis van Gaal has nurtured, developed and honed some of the greatest footballers of a generation.

Having worked at four of the biggest clubs in the world – Ajax, Barcelona (twice), Bayern Munich and Manchester United – he was famed for handing debuts to emerging talents.

Barcelona legends Xavi, Carles Puyol and Andres Iniesta all owe a gratitude to Van Gaal for that, while his influence was key as German icons Bastian Schweinsteiger and Philipp Lahm made the transition from talented youngsters to world class stars in their mid-20s.

But Van Gaal’s finest and most famous work came during his time at Ajax, his very first job in football management, as he guided a team of largely home grown talent to European glory.

This is the best XI of his remarkable career…


Goalkeepers & Defenders

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Edwin van der Sar (GK) – The legendary goalkeeper’s rise coincided rather perfectly with Van Gaal’s, with Van der Sar establishing himself as Ajax number one by 1992. He was named Best European Goalkeeper by UEFA in 1995 as Ajax won the Champions League and was Dutch Goalkeeper of the Year four times under Van Gaal’s tutelage

Michael Reiziger – After back-to-back loans out, Reiziger was brought back to Ajax at the start of the glorious 1994/95 season and was an ever present at right-back. He left Amsterdam as a free agent in 1996, but Van Gaal later saw fit to sign Reiziger at Barcelona for a sizeable £7m.

Danny Blind – A senior figure in Van Gaal’s all conquering Ajax side, Blind was the captain who lifted the 1995 Champions League trophy. He and Van Gaal were actually teammates at Sparta Rotterdam for several seasons in the early 1980s and they have been close friends for 40 years.

Frank de Boer – The classy defender played for Van Gaal at both Ajax and Barcelona, winning the Champions League with the former and La Liga with the latter. De Boer explained during an appearance on Sky Sports in 2018 that his mentor’s biggest strength was helping talented young players reach their full potential – “He could manage that so perfectly”.


Midfielders

Holland Training

Luis Figo – Although he would eventually become hated in the city, Figo was revered at Barcelona during Van Gaal’s first spell at Camp Nou, winning back-to-back La Liga titles in 1997/98 and 1998/99, as well as the Copa del Rey and UEFA Super Cup.

Clarence Seedorf – A debutant for Van Gaal at the age of 16, Seedorf won the first of four career Champions League titles under the Dutch master. Aged 18, Seedorf played 48 times for Ajax during that 1994/95 season alone, although he was among the very first high profile Bosman signings when he left to join Sampdoria in the summer of 1996.

Edgar Davids – Like Seedorf, Davids left Ajax on a free transfer in 1996, but not before Van Gaal had helped establish the ferocious midfielder as one of Europe’s most coveted players. Van Gaal named his star ball winner ‘The Pitbull’. They later reunited at international level.

Marc Overmars – Van Gaal moulded Overmars on and off the field, with the electric winger a star at throughout the early to mid 1990s. Since retirement he has become a renowned director of football at Ajax and has maintained close contact with his old boss, revealing that Van Gaal predicted the club’s incredible 2018/19 Champions League run before anyone else.


Forwards

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Jari Litmanen – Although not home grown like many of the others, a prolific Litmanen was arguably the star of Van Gaal’s golden Ajax team. The Finn also joined his boss at Barcelona in 1999, while in 2015 he commented: “Finland has shaped me as a footballer, but Van Gaal added the last fifteen, twenty per cent. He was demanding and honest. He saw everything.”

Rivaldo – “I don’t like Van Gaal, and I am sure that he doesn’t like me, either.” Those were Rivaldo’s words when the Brazilian left Barcelona in 2002. The pair had fallen out during Van Gaal’s first spell at Camp Nou, but Rivaldo actually played the best football of his career in the Dutchman’s team and won the Ballon d’Or and FIFA World Player of the Year award in 1999.

Patrick Kluivert – Van Gaal’s faith gave Kluivert the opportunity to become the youngest goalscorer in a Champions League final when he scored Ajax’s famous late winner in 1995 at the age of just 18. The master also signed the apprentice for Barcelona in 1998 and years later appointed Kluivert to his coaching staff on the Dutch national team.


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Number 46: Sven-Goran Eriksson: The Former Lazio Manager’s All Time Best XI

Number 45: Sir Alf Ramsey: The World Cup Winer’s All Time Best XI

Number 44: Antonio Conte: The Fiery Italian’s All-Time Best XI

Number 43: Kenny Dalglish: The King of Anfield’s All-Time Best XI

Number 42: Massimiliano Allegri: The Six-Time Serie A Winner’s All-Time Best XI

Number 41: Sir Bobby Robson: The Legendary Fighter’s All-Time Best XI

Number 40: Luis Aragones: Spain’s Most Important Manager’s All-Time Best XI

Number 39: Herbert Chapman: The Yorkshire Tactician’s All-Time Best XI

Number 38: Carlos Alberto Parreira: The World Cup Hero’s All-Time Best XI

Number 37: Franz Beckenbauer: Der Kaiser’s All-Time Best XI

Number 36: Viktor Maslov: Dedushka’s All-Time Best XI

Number 35: Rafa Benitez: The Likeable Spaniard’s All-Time Best XI

Number 34: Zinedine Zidane: The French Magician’s All-Time Best XI

Number 33: Luiz Felipe Scolari: Picking Big Phil’s All-Time Best XI

Number 32: Jupp Heynckes: The German Master Tactician’s All-Time Best XI

Number 31: Vicente del Bosque: The Moustachioed Mister’s All-Time Best XI

Number 30: Arsene Wenger: The Legendary Arsenal Manager’s All-Time Best XI

Number 29: Udo Lattek: The Inspirational Leader’s All-Time Best XI

Number 28: Jock Stein: Big Jock’s All-Time Best XI

Number 27: Vittorio Pozzo: Il Vecchio Maestro’s All-Time Best XI

Number 26: Jurgen Klopp: Mr Heavy Metal Football’s All-Time Best XI

Number 25: Mario Zagallo: Velho Lobo’s All-Time Best XI

Number 24: Bela Guttmann: The Proto-Mourinho’s All-Time Best XI

Number 23: ?Valeriy Lobanovskyi: The Soviet Scientist’s All-Time Best XI?


Let’

Louis van Gaal: The Stubborn Master Who Won 15 Major Trophies at 4 of the World’s Greatest Clubs

Louis van Gaal is number 22 in 90min’s Top 50 Great Managers of All Time series. Follow the rest of the series over the course of the next five weeks.?


Love him or hate him, and it is that black or white, Louis van Gaal is one of the great figures of modern football history: a stubborn idealist, an enigmatic personality, but above all, a serial winner.

For Van Gaal, two seasons at Manchester United that brought down the curtain on a 25-year career in 2016 covered all three. He was ruthlessly committed to his philosophy – ultimately to his detriment with a lack of correct personnel to implement it; the media and fans struggled to work out his marvellous eccentricities; and he delivered the club’s first major trophy since Sir Alex Ferguson retired in the shape of the FA Cup – the club’s first in the competition for 12 years.

Louis van Gaal,David De Gea

Cruelly, you are only remembered as being as good as your last job and Van Gaal often doesn’t get the recognition his career deserves after those two years in Manchester failed to yield a Premier League title challenge, or anything resembling one, or a finish higher than fourth.

The club was, for want of a better phrase, in crisis. There was no overarching plan, no structure, and no ability to suitably aid the manager in the transfer market.

Was it simply a case of right place, wrong time for Van Gaal? Perhaps.

The Dutch master remains fiercely proud of his stint at Old Trafford, as though he has a personal checklist of the most prestigious clubs in Europe. “I worked at the number one team in the Netherlands, Germany, Spain and now also in England,” he told BBC Sport in March 2019.

For this is a man who been there and done it all, time and time again, starting afresh in a new country and conquering the new just as he did the old.

Louis van Gaal

An Amsterdam native, Van Gaal’s playing career was fairly unremarkable. Moving from the amateur ranks, he began his senior career with Ajax at a time when the club was the best in world. He never played for the first team and spent his best years at Sparta Rotterdam. But it was back at Ajax upon retirement in 1987 that his coaching career began, first as an assistant.

Van Gaal landed the top Ajax job in September 1991 and by the end of his debut season in charge the club had won a major European trophy in the shape of the UEFA Cup. That side featured a young Dennis Bergkamp, but it was what Van Gaal would go on to achieve at Ajax in the following years that made him a legend and secured his legacy.

His greatest strength was always player development, placing his faith in young talent to help them unlock their true potential. With Van Gaal at the helm, Ajax gave birth to a golden generation to rival all golden generations, and one that conquered Europe.

AJAX AMSTERDAM CHAMPIONS LEAGUE SIEGER 1995

Clarence Seedorf made his debut for Van Gaal’s Ajax aged just 16. Patrick Kluivert was barely 18, Marc Overmars was signed at 19, and Edwin van der Sar was a regular in goal at 22. An 18-year-old Edgar Davids made his debut three weeks before Van Gaal took over, but the midfielder, affectionately nicknamed ‘The Pitbull’ by his mentor, was kept in the side.

Ajax won the Eredivisie title in 1993/94 to qualify for the Champions League the following season. That young side, led on the pitch by experienced pair Frank Rijkaard and Danny Blind, the latter a former teammate of Van Gaal’s in Rotterdam, also retained their Dutch crown in 1994/95, going unbeaten in the Eredivisie and scoring 106 goals in 34 games, and took things to the next level by claiming Ajax’s first European crown in 22 years, since the days of Johan Cruyff. Kluivert remains the youngest ever scorer in a European Cup/Champions League final.

Then world champions after beating Gremio in the 1995 Intercontinental Cup, Van Gaal and Ajax won a third straight Eredivisie title in 1995/96 and returned to the Champions League final, where only a penalty shootout defeat to Juventus denied them a second triumph.


Career Honours?
?UEFA Cup (1991/92)
?KNVB Cup (1992/93)
?Eredivisie (1993/94, 1994/95, 1995/96, 2008/09)
?UEFA Champions League (1994/95); runner-up (1995/96, 2009/10)
?UEFA Super Cup (1995, 1997)
?Intercontinental Cup (1995)
?La Liga (1997/98, 1998/99)
?Copa del Rey (1997/98)
?Bundesliga (2009/10)
?DFB Pokal (2009/10)
?World Cup third place (2014)
?FA Cup (2015/16)

Van Gaal has infamously fallen out with a lot of people over the years, yet his bond with others is so strong and many of those who played under him revere him. “Finland has shaped me as a footballer, but Van Gaal added the last fifteen, twenty per cent. He was demanding and honest. He saw everything,” former Ajax great Jari Litmanen said in 2015.

Speaking to talkSPORT in 2019, Wayne Rooney described Van Gaal as “…tactically the best I have worked with – in terms of setting you up in a shape defensively and everyone knowing their roles,” putting the Dutchman ahead of even Sir Alex Ferguson in that regard.

After his Ajax team was broken up, partly by the new Bosman ruling, Van Gaal moved on to Barcelona in 1997. His success was instant, winning back-to-back La Liga titles, one as part of a domestic double in his first season.

That three year spell at Camp Nou saw an infamous spat with 1999 Ballon d’Or winner Rivaldo over his position on the pitch – a grudge which resulted in the Brazilian being released when Van Gaal returned in 2002 – but it also gave rise to the careers of future club legends Xavi and Carles Puyol after both were handed first team debuts. Van Gaal’s second spell at Barcelona would later see Andres Iniesta and Victor Valdes also make their respective debuts.

TEAM FC BARCELONA

Van Gaal’s return to Barcelona, coming after a failed stint with the Dutch national team which resulted in failure to qualify for the 2002 World Cup, was not as successful as his first. He returned briefly to Ajax as technical director, before becoming coach at lesser known Eredivisie side AZ.

Remarkably, he led the team to the Eredivisie title in 2008/09 – the sixth domestic league title of his career. The previous season had been a bad one and Van Gaal was actually planning to resign in 2008 until a number of AZ players urged him to stay on.

After AZ, came Van Gaal’s return to the elite bracket when Bayern Munich came calling. Despite a slow start, he proved to be a popular figure and delivered the Bundesliga title in his first season. A DFB Pokal followed. And while defeat in the 2010 Champions League final denied Bayern an historic treble, Van Gaal had won seven league titles in three different countries.

Bastian Schweinsteiger, transformed from inconsistent winger to near flawless central midfielder, and Thomas Muller owe Van Gaal particular gratitude for his time in Germany.

Bayern Munich's midfielder Bastian Schwe

After finishing at Bayern and prior to moving to England, Van Gaal got a second chance to lead the Dutch national team. This time, his measured tactics, designed to minimise his players’ weaknesses and maximise their strengths, worked perfectly and took his team all the way to the 2014 World Cup semi-finals, finishing third against all expectations – the group stage had included a masterful 5-1 demolition of Spain – the holders had no answer to the Dutch system.


?Teams Managed Years?
?Ajax ?1991 – 1997
?Barcelona ?1997 – 2000
?Netherlands ?2000 – 2002
?Barcelona ?2002 – 2003
?AZ ?2005 – 2009
?Bayern Munich ?2009 – 2011
?Netherlands ?2012 – 2014
?Manchester United 2014 – 2016?

Van Gaal was ultimately treated rather terribly by Manchester United as the club negotiated with his successor behind his back for months. His disappointing spell in England, fuelled by failings of the club itself, is an unfortunate blot on an otherwise truly remarkable career.

Still, it couldn’t keep him down. As Van Gaal himself said to the BBC: “To win the FA Cup when, for six months, the media has a noose round my neck, is my biggest achievement.”


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Number 49: Vic Buckingham – How an Englishman Discovered Johan Cruyff & Pioneered Total Football

Number 48: Claudio Ranieri: A Ridiculed Tinkerman Who Masterminded One of Football’s Greatest Ever Achievements

Number 47: Bill Nicholson: Mr Tottenham Hotspur, the First Double Winning Manager of the 20th Century

Number 46: Sven-Goran Eriksson: The Scudetto Winning Shagger Who Never Solved the Lampard-Gerrard Conundrum

Number 45: Sir Alf Ramsey: The Man Behind the ‘Wingless Wonders’ & England’s Sole World Cup Triumph

Number 44: Antonio Conte: An Astute Tactician Whose Perfectionist Philosophy Reinvented the 3-5-2 Wheel

Number 43: Kenny Dalglish: The Beacon of Light in Liverpool’s Darkest Hour

Number 42: Massimiliano Allegri: The Masterful Tactician Who Won Serie A Five Times in a Row

Number 41: Sir Bobby Robson: A Footballing Colossus Whose Fighting Spirit Ensured an Immortal Legacy

Number 40: Luis Aragones: Spain’s Most Important Manager, the Atleti Rock and the Modern Father of Tiki-Taka

Number 39: Herbert Chapman: One of Football’s Great Innovators & Mastermind Behind the ‘W-M’ Formation

Number 38: Carlos Alberto Parreira: The International Specialist Who Never Shied Away From a Challenge

Number 37: Franz Beckenbauer: The German Giant Whose Playing Career Overshadowed His Managerial Genius

Number 36: Viktor Maslov: Soviet Pioneer of the 4-4-2 & the Innovator of Pressing

Number 35: Rafa Benitez: The Conquerer of La Liga Who Masterminded That Comeback in Istanbul

Number 34: Zinedine Zidane: Cataloguing the Frenchman’s Transition From Midfield Magician to Managerial Maestro

Number 33: Luiz Felipe Scolari: How the Enigmatic ‘Big Phil’ Succeeded as Much as He Failed on the Big Stage

Number 32: Jupp Heynckes: The Legendary Manager Who Masterminded ‘the Greatest Bayern Side Ever’

Number 31: Vicente del Bosque: The Unluckiest Manager in the World Who Led Spain to Immortality

Number 30: Arsene Wenger: A Pioneering Who Became Invincible at Arsenal

Number 29: Udo Lattek: The Bundesliga Icon Who Shattered European Records

Number 28: Jock Stein: The Man Who Guided Celtic to Historic Heights & Mentored Sir Alex Ferguson

Number 27: Vittorio Pozzo: Metodo, Mussolini, Meazza & the Difficult Memory of a Two-Time World Cup Winner

Number 26: Jurgen Klopp: The Early Years at Mainz 05 Where He Sealed His ‘Greatest Achievement’

Number 25:Mario Zagallo: Habitual World Cup Winner & Sculptor of Brazil’s Joga Bonito Era

Number 24: Bela Guttmann: The Dance Instructor Who Changed Football Forever (and Managed…Just Everyone)

Number 23: ?Valeriy Lobanovskyi: The Scientist Who Dominated Football in the Soviet Union


Let’

Champions League 2019/20: How Many Players Each of the Contenders Still Need to Sign This Summer

?Suns out, funds out – the European big boys are really starting to flash the cash in the sweltering summer heat.

Ludicrous nine-figure fees litter the transfer gossip columns and ludicrous nine-figure fees are actually being paid! A number of elite clubs have boosted their hopes of lifting the Champions League trophy in the spring of 2020 with some mega-money signings, but the wheeling and dealing is far from over.

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Look at the main contenders for the prize and it becomes clear that some have sorted their squads ahead of next season, whilst others are in desperate need of new recruits if they hope to be crowned kings of the continent come May.

Here’s an assessment of where eight top teams are at and whether their current recruitment is up to scratch.


Juventus

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?Juve have assembled a phenomenal squad and need not spend any more on expensive new arrivals. Midfield pair Aaron Ramsey and Adrien Rabiot have both been lured to Turin after their respective contracts ran out, adding to an array of talented players that have joined on a free.

That’s the middle of the pitch sorted, then. The competition for places in the engine room is simply frightening, whilst the colossal figure of Matthijs de Ligt will add considerable steel to the backline.

With Moise Kean continuing to develop, Federico Bernardeschi looking electric and that man Cristiano Ronaldo spearheading the attack, new coach Maurizio Sarri is in an excellent position to bring the first Champions League to the Bianconeri faithful this century.

Left back is the only slight concern and that’s probably only the case if Joao Cancelo leaves.

How Many Signings They Still Need: 0


Barcelona

Nelson Semedo

In similar fashion to Juventus, their Catalans counterparts have already beefed up a terrifying squad ready to make amends for their infamous collapse at the hands of ?Liverpool in May. However, they are not quite as well covered across the park as the Italians.

Frenkie de Jong and Antoine Griezmann add class and grace to the midfield and attack, while Neto is a solid backup to first-choice keeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen.

Splitting hairs, full back is probably the weakest position for Barça now, with Nelson Semedo an obvious chink in the ?Barcelona armour.

The Portuguese can make the entire defence appear frail with his frustratingly poor positioning, whilst a tendency to let his head drop is unacceptable. Compare Semedo with his fellow full-back Jordi Alba on the opposing flank, the Spaniard amassing 17 assists last term.

Full back is arguably the most important position in the field in the modern day, yet La Blaugrana have yet to find another remotely like Alba. Imagine the carnage were they to have someone with his skill-set bombing up and down the right, too.

With Marc Cucurella re-signed before heading out on loan, a backup to Jordi Alba wouldn’t go amiss either.

How Many Signings They Still Need: 1


Real Madrid

Luka Modric

Eden Hazard for £100m plus add-ons, Luka Jovic for £53m, Eder Militao for £45m, Ferland Mendy for £43m, Rodrygo for £40m… do Real really need to make another purchase?

If they are to mount a serious challenge for a 14th European Cup next campaign, then the answer is yes – they need one more. 

It sounds extremely odd to say this, but current Ballon d’Or holder Luka Modric isn’t good enough, or at least not for crunch clashes with the likes of Juventus.

The playmaker will be 34 years-of-age in September and his powers are evidently on the wane as he nears the end of his career. 

One more marquee signing, one more brilliant midfielder, is what Los Blancos need to have a shot at reclaiming their throne. Paul Pogba, anyone?

How Many Signings They Still Need: 1 


Manchester City

Josep Guardiola

The astute signings of Rodri and Angelino have strengthened Manchester City’s obvious areas in need of extra bodies but there is still a need to find someone to fill the sizeable hole left by club captain and legend Vincent Kompany has gone and there is now a sizeable hole to fill. Nicolas Otamendi is hardly the best replacement available if Pep Guardiola wants to get that elusive ?Champions League triumph.

Speculation that they would move for Harry Maguire or de Ligt has proved false, though that is no issue; there are plenty of centre-backs about, including ?Tottenham Hotspur’s Toby Alderweireld. 

Despite City’s approach for Juve’s Cancelo, another full back is a luxury they probably do not need. A striker, though, would do mighty fine. Sergio Aguero and Gabriel Jesus have each struggled with fitness in recent years, and the latter is really a wide forward by trade.

Still, there’s no need to fork out any eye-watering fees, a capable forward – rather than some ready-made world-beater – is all that is required to allow both of the South American duo a breather in domestic action from time to time.

How Many Signings They Still Need: 2 


Liverpool

Divock Origi

In order to make a strong defence of their title, ?Liverpool need only to tinker with their squad, not revolutionise it. In fact, their starting lineup is splendid, but they ought to add depth to avoid burnout with the extra Super Cups and World Club Cups on the schedule in the months to come.

One key area for recruitment is left back, with the Reds losing the much-maligned Alberto Moreno to Villarreal this summer. To avoid James Milner having to fill in, Jurgen Klopp should really be eyeing up a reliable, specialist understudy for Andrew Robertson. 

The return of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is near enough a new signing and injects bucket-loads of energy into the midfield, while Rhian Brewster is a player the Kop have waited to see in action for some time. However, the Merseysiders could do with bringing in one more backup forward having also lost the lethal – albeit injury-prone – Daniel Sturridge.

Oh, and Philippe Coutinho? If I were Klopp, I wouldn’t touch him with a barge pole.

How Many Signings They Still Need: 2  


Bayern Munich

Manuel Neuer

The early signings of Lucas Hernandez, Benjamin Pavard and Jann-Fiete Arp look as shrewd as any across Europe but Bayern Munich still have some work to do this summer.

First and most controversially: I don’t care how good Manuel Neuer used to be, he needs to go. 

The margins for error are tighter here than anywhere else and the goalkeeper has made too many of them. If you want to give yourself a chance of winning the Champions League, you select players on form, not reputation.

Likewise, Jerome Boateng is an accident waiting to happen and ?Bayern would be well-advised to find a more suitable partner for the rock that is Niklas Sule. That could be Javi Martinez, though his presence in the centre of the pitch is essential.

Finally, Die Roten must take the weight off of Robert Lewandowski’s shoulders as the Polish hitman nears the age of 31. Thomas Muller can’t do that after he was switched to a deeper role, but there are many ?Bundesliga strikers who would be willing to play second fiddle at the Allianz Arena.

Jean-Philippe Mateta is one such player that comes to mind, the Mainz man collecting 14 goals and nine assists in a distinctly average side.

How Many Signings They Still Need: 3


Atletico Madrid

Alvaro Morata

?Atletico have made a net profit of nearly £100m in this transfer window, but that isn’t what wins you trophies. Spending that money may help towards that end, however.

Mario Hermoso has ?joined from Espanyol to cover left and centre back, but they would ideally have a fleet-footed flyer for the former. Otherwise, they are considerably underpowered after losing Lucas Hernandez to Bayern.

Rodri too has departed and whether Marcos Llorente and Hector Herrera can fill his boots remains to be seen. Perhaps a player like Blaise Matuidi, who may be squeezed out at Juventus following the arrival of Rabiot, would be an ideal addition to Diego Simeone’s hard running side.

It is also pivotal that Atleti find a target man to partner teenage thriller Joao Felix. Diego Costa was dire in 2018/19, Alvaro Morata has little confidence left and Simeone has a huge wad of cash to use on bringing in better personnel up top.

How Many Signings They Still Need: 3


Tottenham Hotspur

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With Tanguy Ndombele added to the first team so far this window, Mauricio Pochettino’s side already look stronger than they did last season.

Even if Alderweireld leaves, Spurs are fine at centre back given the continued improvement of Juan Foyth and the capabilities of one-time record signing Davinson Sanchez.

It’s a different story at full back, though, after Kieran Trippier upped sticks and switched ?Premier League for ?La Liga. Serge Aurier won’t not win you the League Cup, let alone the Champions League.

Of course, the big name seemingly on his way out of north London is Christian Eriksen. Taking on the creative duties for Mauricio Pochettino should be Giovani Lo Celso, the Real Betis midfielder having long been linked with a move to Tottenham.

The little name on his way out – on the other hand – is Fernando Llorente, who’s contract expired in July. He had his doubters, but the Spaniard made a decent alternative to anything else at Pochettino’s disposal, which is a solid option to have when Spurs are struggling to break down their opposition.

How Many Signings They Still Need: 3


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Free Agents: 8 Players Who Would Not Cost Your Club a Penny

Pre-season is now in full flow, and clubs are looking to get their transfer business done ahead of their respective leagues resuming. 

Fans love to hear about the rumours of big-money signings. It shows ambition, and brings excitement that your club can attract the best players.?

Yet it is not all about the most expensive players as there are some absolute bargains to be had elsewhere. And when we say bargains, we mean freebies….players who don’t actually have contracts or any cost attached to them!

Here’s eight such players who could be rather handy and cost you diddly squat..


Mario Balotelli

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The Italian forward seems to have been around forever, but he is still only 28. Having moved from club to club across a variety of countries, he is now looking for a new club after his contract with Marseille ended last month.

It would be a gamble to sign Balotelli given his widely-publicised off-field indiscretions. ?Yet he does offer quality on the pitch, scoring eight goals in 15 Ligue 1 appearances for Marseille last season to show that he is far from a spent force. Perhaps a gamble worth taking.


Fernando Llorente

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Llorente only netted two league goals in as many seasons for Tottenham, hardly eye-catching numbers. He also missed from three yards in the Champions League semi-final against Ajax last season, before Lucas Moura spared his blushes. He is probably still thanking Moura to this day for that.

He does possess positive attributes though. The way he unsettled Matthijs de Ligt in the Champions League was impressive, ?whilst he also held the ball up well when he got his chance due to Harry Kane picking up an ankle problem. Four league assists last season highlight his ability to bring others in to the game. 

He is 34, but pace has never been his strength, so his age should not be a concern. Llorente may still have a couple of good years left in the game.


Dani Alves

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Alarm bells might start ringing with Alves when you hear about his age. He is 36. However, he does not appear to be done just yet.

The full back, who has won the Champions League on three occasions, recently captained Brazil to the Copa America title, as they beat Peru 3-1 in the final. This shows that he has plenty still to offer.

The experience that he brings with him after winning trophies in Spain, Italy and France would be invaluable for any side. Expect him to get another big move in the coming weeks.


Hatem Ben Arfa

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Ben Arfa has had his fair share of issues throughout his career. ?Falling out with managers has become common place, whilst he has struggled with weight problems at times as well.

However, one thing is for certain: he is supremely talented. Fans of the Premier League will remember him dazzling for Newcastle in their superb 2011-12 season, and he has been producing moments of magic in France since then.

Last season he scored seven goals and provided two assists in Ligue 1 for Rennes. Now he is seeking a new challenge and he will surely receive an offer before the window shuts.


Daniel Sturridge

Daniel Sturridge

It had all looked so good for Sturridge. He scored 22 Premier League goals in the 2013/14 campaign, nearly taking Liverpool to the title, and continued that form in to that year’s World Cup, netting in the opening game against Italy. Sadly, that tournament went downhill quickly for England, and the same can be said for Sturridge’s career. 

In the six seasons since, Sturridge has scored just 19 league goals, and has been plagued with injuries. It was no great shock to see him released by Liverpool this summer. 

His next career move is crucial. The forward is 29 and needs to hit the ground running when he finds a club. He has proved that he can do it before and will hope that he can produce at the top level again.


Gary Cahill

Gary Cahill

Cahill endured a nightmare season last year, as Maurizio Sarri cast him aside when he walked through the door at Chelsea. 

The England international is a proven winner though, having claimed two Premier League titles and a Champions League trophy in his career. Having hardly featured last season, he will have to get back up to speed quickly.

Will his level have dropped that much in one season? That remains to be seen, but Cahill has experience on his side, and will believe that he can get back to his best. He may get the chance to prove it next season.


Yacine Brahimi

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Brahimi impressed at Porto last season, enjoying his highest scoring league campaign with the club, netting ten goals. He also made his mark in the Champions League, as the side reached the quarter-finals before exiting to the eventual winners, Liverpool.

After five seasons in Portugal, he is looking for his next move. At the age of 29, it is fair to assume that he is currently at his peak. As he is available on a free, expect someone to snap him up before too long.


Filipe Luis

Filipe Luis

Chelsea fans may remember Luis, though perhaps not too fondly. The Brazilian left back did not make too much of an impact in his one season at Stamford Bridge, before returning to Atletico Madrid ?in 2015.

That does not make Luis a poor player. He has shown his class for Diego Simeone’s side over the years, helping the team to a La Liga title and two Europa League triumphs.

Now approaching his 34th birthday, Luis is coming towards the end of his career, yet his reading of the game could entice clubs to make a move to acquire his services.


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