Talk Sport

Huddersfield Town to complete signing of Jason Puncheon from Crystal Palace

Jason Puncheon is set to complete a move from Crystal Palace and join Huddersfield Town.

The 32-year-old has fallen out of favour at Palace this season and has only featured five times under Roy Hodgson.

Jason Puncheon is set to join Huddersfield Town

A deal is set to be struck for the midfielder to join for the remainder of the campaign and, with his Palace contract expiring, could earn himself a permanent move.

Puncheon will replace Rajiv van la Parra who left for Middlesbrough on loan having not played since October.

During the summer, Boro had themselves been linked with Puncheon, who had hoped to revive his career following eight months on the sideline with a knee injury.


Puncheon suffered cruciate ligament damage in December 2017 and struggled to regain his place in the Palace team.

David Wagner’s side sit bottom of the Premier League, having lost 14 of their 20 games so far and only winning twice.

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Football Index

Serie A’s Top Performers During Match Day 19

 

Last Saturday saw the Italian top flight reach its halfway point, the first matchday to be played on December 29th in Serie A history wrapping up the opening part of the campaign. It was unbelievable that had taken Chievo Verona until Week 19 to win their first match of the season, with a 1-0 victory versus fellow strugglers Frosinone in the last game before the Winter Break.

Controversial VAR decisions were the order of the day, as both Juventus and Sampdoria were awarded penalties after dubious handball appeals in their match, and Fiorentina were denied what looked to be an obvious spot-kick of their own for handball even after the referee had reviewed the tape.

AC Milan finally won a match after three consecutive league fixtures without scoring, while Napoli scraped a 3-2 win at home to Bologna with a last-gasp strike. Meanwhile, Sampdoria looked to have earned a point away to Juve when Riccardo Saponara finished superbly after the 90 minutes were already over, only for his effort to be correctly ruled out for offside.

Indeed, that win saw the Bianconeri reach a total of 53 points after just 19 games, a record in the Italian top flight during the 20-team era. Veteran striker Fabio Quagliarella also became the first player since to score nine goals in nine games in Serie A since former Juve hitman David Trezeguet did so back in 2005, the Sampdoria man now closing in on Gabriel Batistuta’s record of 11 in 11.

Top Performers – Week 19

 

Cristiano Ronaldo – Juventus (£10.23)

 This was a round that saw attacking players truly shine, and CR7 proved his worth with a trademark cooly-taken penalty which helped his side to victory. That strike saw him rise to the peak of the top-scorers chart, a position he will not relinquish easily as the second half of the campaign gets underway.

 

Sergej Milinkovic-Savic – Lazio (£3.47)

 After being heavily linked to a £100 million move away from Lazio last season, the form of Sergej Milinkovic-Savic has not lived up to expectations in the current campaign. That said, his performances are steadily improving as the January window comes around once again, and he scored a sublime goal to earn his side a 1-1 draw with Torino last Saturday.

 

Josip Ilicic – Atalanta (£1.40)

 Netting a hat-trick in a 6-2 away victory versus Sassuolo, Josip Ilicic put in a superb performance for Atalanta on Saturday. The Slovenian may not be the most consistent of players, but his trio of goals was his third in Serie A, placing him as a joint record-holder in Europe’s top five leagues along with Sergio Aguero of Manchester City and Lionel Messi of Barcelona.

 

Arkadiusz Milik – Napoli (£2.05)

His first two seasons at Napoli were wiped out thanks to ACL tears in consecutive campaigns, but an injury-free Arkadiusz Milik is now proving his worth for Carlo Ancelotti. His brace helped to secure an important 3-2 win over Bologna at the weekend, and marked the fifth occasion in which the Poland international had scored twice in the same match at the Stadio San Paolo.

 

Cengiz Under – AS Roma (£3.28)

Roma Sporting Director Monchi may insist that the club “is not a supermarket,” but in truth the Giallorossi may struggle to hang on to Turkish forward Cengiz Under in future. After scoring a wonder goal versus Inter at the beginning of the month, the 21-year-old ended December with a goal and an assist versus Parma, the 2-0 win easing the pressure on his previously underperforming side.

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Talk Sport

Christian Pulisic says he is privileged to sign for ‘legendary club’ Chelsea

Chelsea’s new signing Christian Pulisic said he feels “privileged” to be joining the club in his first statement since the transfer was announced.

The 20-year-old winger posted an message aimed mainly at his existing Borussia Dortmund fans, thanking them after it was confirmed he’ll be leaving the club.

The winger paid tribute to Dortmund and looked ahead to his time at Chelsea

Pulisic has joined the Blues for £57.6million, but has been loaned back to Germany to complete the 2018/19 season with Dortmund.

Addressing the fans, he stated: “It is with a heavy heart that I announce that I will be entering my final months at (y)our world-famous club.

“It feels like only yesterday that I arrived in Dortmund as a raw, excited, very nervous, but exceptionally proud 16-year-old from a small American town called Hershey.

“I had no idea what lay ahead but I soon discovered that as a young Schwarzgelben, I would be in the best possible hands.

The 20-year-old impressed during the USA’s friendly against England in November

“I would not be where I am today without the club and their belief in giving young players a chance. It’s been an honour and a dream to pull on the black-and-yellow in front of the Sudtribune.

“Many, many memorable moments stand out – to have experienced all of them before my 20th birthday still feels, at times, like a dream. I would like to thank all those coaches who I have played under and who gave me these opportunities.

“And to my amazing teammates throughout the years: You took me in as a young boy, shared your experience with me, helped me to develop and grown into a professional footballer. For this I sincerely thank you.

“To our unbelievable fans: It’s been a privilege to stand with you on the Sudtribune and to experience how you support your heroes. I feel honoured to have been able to make the trip from being a supporter, to being supported. You have taken me in as one of your own. Thank you.

“I would also like to thank Mr Watzke and Mr Zorc. It was very important to me that I handled my situation in as fair and professional manner as possible towards the club. So I thank them for finding a solution that was a win-win for everyone.

Pulisic went to Dortmund’s academy instead of Barcelona

“In summer of 2019, I move on to Chelsea and to and to a new competition, the English Premier League.

“It’s a privilege to have signed for such a legendary club and I look forward to working hard towards being a contributor to their team of world class players. Looking forward to working with Maurizio Sarri and his technical team.

“But for the next six months, it’s all BVB! Please do not doubt my passion, determination and my 100% commitment to the team right until the last ball is kicked this season.

“We all feel that this is ‘our year’ and we are determined to achieve the best possible results in a all competitions.

“Heja BVB!”

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Talk Sport

Tammy Abraham: Wolves open talks with Chelsea over permanent signing of striker

Wolves are understood to have opened talks with Chelsea over the permanent signing of Tammy Abraham.

The striker is currently on loan at Aston Villa, and had been due to remain with the Championship club for the remainder of the season.

Tammy Abraham is Villa’s top scorer this season

But there is an option to cut short the loan in January and Chelsea are reportedly ready to do so in order to cash in on the 21-year-old.

Abraham, who spent last season on loan in the Premier League at Swansea, has been a big hit for Villa.

He netted twice against QPR on Tuesday to take his tally to 16 goals for the season and is the joint top scorer in the Championship.

Tammy Abraham has won two caps for England

Villa boss Dean Smith insisted after the match that Abraham is happy at the club and appeared confident he would stay for the season.

But a switch to the Molineux club, who are currently eighth in the Premier League, appeals to the twice-capped England international.

Abraham knows he is unlikely to get much game time at Chelsea in the near future, and Blues boss Maurizio Sarri is reportedly happy to sanction a permanent exit.

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Football Index

The Players Most Likely to Join Arsenal in January

 

Arsenal are about to enter their second transfer window under Unai Emery and it may be a decisive one. Traditionally this window is fairly quiet, but the new Arsenal boss needs to make a few additions to help his side reach the top four.

It may seem like yesterday that Emery arrived, but the Spaniard will already be wary about his long-term position at the club if the Gunners fall off the pace in the race to finish in the top four. Fans and players will be desperate for Champions League football next season and there are a few areas where the squad would benefit from new arrivals to help Emery achieve these goals.

Arsenal have conceded 23 goals in the Premier League this season, compare that to the 7 Liverpool have conceded and you can see the major difference between why Liverpool are so far ahead. Both teams have actually scored 37 goals, but the Gunners defence lets them down. Newcastle (14th) have conceded less goals (22), that alone should be an eye-opener for the club as to where investments need to be made.

(Eric Bailly £1.11 here)

The Gunners had been linked with a move for Eric Bailly, though Jose Mourinho’s departure is likely to hand a lifeline to the defender’s career at the club. Fans will dream of the likes of Kalidou Koulibaly, but this is unrealistic. Arsenal’s main defensive target is Mattijs de Ligt according to Spanish journalist Kike Marin. However, the Gunners will face stiff competition from Europe’s top clubs for the Dutchman, with the likes of Barcelona and Paris Saint-Germain said to be interested. Arsenal may be able to offer him something those clubs cannot though, first team football.

(Fernando Calero £1.06 here)

A more realistic alternative to these may be Real Valladolid defender Fernando Calero. The Spanish defender has been in impressive form in La Liga this season, attracting interest from across Europe and could be available for as little as £10million.

(Nicolas Pepe £4.20 here)

Arsenal are also in the market for wide forward it seems. Danny Welbeck’s injury means the Gunners have a lack of attacking diversity in their squad, and could really benefit from a new wide forward arriving. The most heavily linked in this position include Nicolas Pepe of Lille. The Gunners have a long history of unearthing talent from the French leagues and bringing them to England, recent examples include Alexandre Lacazette and Matteo Guendouzi. The Ivorian winger has been in great form scoring 12 and assisting 5 more in 15 Ligue 1 appearances this season. His brilliant final ball and natural width is something Arsenal currently crave. His club are commanding a transfer fee of around £40million to sell their star player in the middle of the season, but reports suggest the Gunners may be willing to cough up such an amount to get their man.

An alternative to Pepe is Cristian Pavon (here) of Boca Juniors. The Argentinian winger hasn’t been in the best form this season, with transfer rumours potentially turning his head. Arsenal would have to pay a similar sum to sign the 22-year-old, with several suitors interested in bringing him to Europe.

With Aaron Ramsey set to leave the club, there are persistent links to Ever Banega (here), a midfielder that Unai Emery is a huge admirer of. Arsenal seem keen to pay his modest £18million release clause, but can they convince the playmaker to come to London?

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Talk Sport

West Ham transfer news: Hammers want Everton midfielder James McCarthy on loan

Everton midfielder James McCarthy is wanted on loan by West Ham United.

The Republic of Ireland international is fit again after suffering a horror double leg fracture against West Brom in January 2018 which subsequently ruled him out for the remainder of the 2017/18 season.

James McCarthy is wanted on loan by West Ham

McCarthy, who has 18 months left on contract, is also a target for Fulham and the Baggies, who are now in the Championship.

He joined the Toffees from Wigan for £13million in 2013 and reunited with former Latics boss Roberto Martinez, who was in charge at Goodison Park.


He has made 132 appearances and netted six goals in all competitions for the club.

West Ham are also in talks with Besiktas over a £6.5m deal for former Cardiff City midfielder Gary Medel.

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Christian Pulisic: How does incoming Chelsea winger compare to Pedro, Willian and Eden Hazard?

Christian Pulisic has signed for Chelsea in a deal worth £57.7million, the Premier League club have confirmed.

The 20-year-old winger will stay at Borussia Dortmund on loan until the end of the season before linking up with the Blues for the 2019/20 campaign.

Christian Pulisic will join Chelsea in the summer

The move comes amid uncertainty surrounding the long-term future of Chelsea’s current crop of wingers.

Eden Hazard continues to stall over a new deal as Real Madrid rumours persist, while Pedro and Willian are both in their thirties.

Pulisic has age on his side, but he is yet to fully realise his potential at Dortmund, featuring mainly as an impact sub as head coach Lucien Favre favours the emerging Jadon Sancho.

Here, talkSPORT.com takes a look at his stats compared to Chelsea’s other wingers.

Christian Pulisic 2018/19 league stats

Appearances – 5 (6)

Goals – 1

Assists – 2

Shots per game – 0.6

Key passes per game – 0.8

Dribbles per game – 1.7

Crosses per game – 0.5

Tackles per game – 0.4

WhoScored.com rating – 6.76

An immediately obvious cause for concern is Pulisic’s goal return. One goal in 483 minutes is considerably sub-par, especially considering Dortmund have netted 44 times this season.

This is not due to a lack of game time, either. Last season the United States winger bagged just four league goals in 2313 minutes of football.

Pedro’s goals will need replacing – the Spaniard already has six in the league this season at a rate of one goal every 157 minutes.

Pedro 2018/19 league stats

Appearances – 11 (6)

Goals – 6

Assists – 1

Shots per game – 1.8

Key passes per game – 0.7

Dribbles per game – 1.3

Crosses per game – 0.3

Tackles per game – 0.8

WhoScored.com rating – 7.08


The Spaniard already has more goals this season than he managed in the whole of last and he is arguably Chelsea’s best finisher.

Pedro has made up for the poor goalscoring form of Chelsea’s two strikers – Alvaro Morata and Olivier Giroud – who have just six between them in the league.

Willian 2018/19 league stats

Appearances – 17 (2)

Goals – 2

Assists – 3

Shots per game – 1.9

Key passes per game – 2.5

Dribbles per game – 1.6

Crosses per game – 1.2

Tackles per game – 1.2

WhoScored.com rating – 7.23

While Willian lacks goals and assists, his all-round contribution is superior to Pedro’s, which highlights why he starts almost every game under Maurizio Sarri.

Nonetheless, it also emphasises Chelsea’s reliance on Hazard for direct goal involvement, and Pulisic will have to become more ruthless if he is to address that balance.

Eden Hazard league stats 2018/19

Appearances – 16 (3)

Goals – 10

Assists – 9

Shots per game – 2.7

Key passes per game – 2.8

Dribbles per game – 2.9

Crosses per game – 0.8

Tackles per game – 0.4

WhoScored.com rating – 7.94

Pulisic has spent most of his career on the right wing, so he does not represent the most natural replacement for Hazard. That role appears more suited to Chelsea’s rising academy star Callum Hudson-Odoi.

Hazard’s sensational form this season comes down to the freedom granted to him by Sarri – no longer is he hindered by added defensive responsibilities.

However, that means more work for the man on the opposite flank. Pedro and Willian are averaging 0.8 and 1.2 tackles per game, while Pulisic is making just 0.4 at Dortmund.

The 20-year-old has a lot to prove

It remains to be seen where the youngster will fit into Chelsea’s system and it’s important to remember that stats never tell the whole story.

This is a player with unlimited potential, but given he struggles to make Dortmund’s starting XI and his stats make for an alarming read – he certainly has plenty to prove as he completes his £57.7million move to Stamford Bridge.

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Chelsea transfer news: How Blues could look at start of next season with Christian Pulisic, Mats Hummels and a new striker

Chelsea have completed the £57.7million signing of Christian Pulisic to begin what is expected to be a busy January transfer window for the club.

The 20-year-old winger will link up with the Blues in the summer after returning to Borussia Dortmund on loan for the remainder of the season.

Christian Pulisic will join Chelsea in the summer

Sarri has plans to strengthen his side even further by the time Pulisic arrives, and, if reports are to be believed, a number of deals have already been lined up by Chelsea.

But how could the Blues look come the start of the 2019/20 season?

talkSPORT.com have assessed the possibilities to create Chelsea’s potential starting line-up at the start of next season, which you can see below…



Starting from the back, Chelsea will look to rely on their current goalkeeper for years to come. Kepa Arrizabalaga was made the world’s most expensive goalkeeper throughout the summer and he has slotted into Sarri’s team fluidly in the months since.

Sarri has stuck with a consistent back four during his time as Chelsea’s manager, with Cesar Azpilicueta, Antonio Rudiger and Marcos Alonso starting all of the Blues’ 20 Premier League matches so far. David Luiz, the centre-back, completes Sarri’s first-choice defence, though the Brazilian has been rested for one game.

Wholesale changes are unlikely, but Luiz could be replaced given he becomes a free agent in six months and there is no sign a new contract is close.

Germany defender Mats Hummels has been linked with a January move to Stamford Bridge with Bayern Munich, his current club, willing to sell. £30million will be enough for Chelsea to afford Hummels, who would slot into the back-four alongside his national team-mate Rudiger.

Bayern Munich are ready to sell Hummels in January

Jorginho, a summer signing from Sarri’s former club Napoli, is guaranteed to remain Chelsea’s metronome at the base of midfield, and N’Golo Kante’s improvement over the past couple of months ensures he will continue in the box-to-box role.

Sarri is still yet to decide upon who is first-choice for the final midfield position. Mateo Kovacic has played the most of the three options, though Ross Barkley has been used in heavy rotation and Ruben Loftus-Cheek has impressed in occasional cameos.

However, links with a January swoop for Nabil Fekir suggest Sarri remains unhappy with the above options and is on the hunt for a player who offers a greater goal threat, as Marek Hamsik provided for his Napoli team.

Fekir could finally make the move to English football

Scoring goals has not only been a problem for Chelsea’s midfield, however, with their attack also struggling to find the back of the net.

Eden Hazard is as reliable as ever, but his future is up in the air as he continues to stall over a new deal.

Willian and Pedro are not regular goalscorers, and neither Olivier Giroud nor Alvaro Morata have proven themselves to be the top class centre-forward Sarri requires.

Callum Wilson of Bournemouth is reportedly a shock target for the Blues, while Sarri is claimed to have wanted Gonzalo Higuain at Stamford Bridge since the summer.

The interest in Higuain has been renewed over the past couple of weeks, and the Argentina international moving to Chelsea could well be on the cards.

Could Sarri reunite with Higuain this month?

He would be the prime target – having impressed when playing under Sarri previously – with Wilson more likely a backup option for the west Londoners.

And finally, Pulisic has been backed to become the long-term replacement for Willian and Pedro, both of whom are in their thirties. 

It is far less likely he will replace Hazard. Pulisic has spent most of his career playing on the right, whereas the Belgian plays on the left.

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Tammy Abraham: Wolves have £18m bid accepted by Chelsea as striker set to end Aston Villa loan

Wolves are understood have had an £18million bid for Tammy Abraham accepted by Chelsea.

The striker is currently on loan at Aston Villa, and had been due to remain with the Championship club for the remainder of the season.

Tammy Abraham is Villa’s top scorer this season

But there is an option to cut short the loan in January and Chelsea are now ready to do so in order to cash in on the 21-year-old.

Wolves have made their move to secure Abraham’s signature this month and are set for talks with the player.

Abraham, who spent last season on loan in the Premier League at Swansea, has been a big hit for Villa.

He netted twice against QPR on Tuesday to take his tally to 16 goals for the season and is the joint top scorer in the Championship.

Tammy Abraham has won two caps for England

Villa boss Dean Smith insisted after the match that Abraham is happy at the club and appeared confident he would stay for the season.

But Wolves have moved to tie up a deal and a switch to the Molineux club, who are currently eighth in the Premier League, appeals to the twice-capped England international.

Abraham knows he is unlikely to get much game time at Chelsea in the near future, and Blues boss Maurizio Sarri appears happy to sanction a permanent exit.

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Chelsea sign Christian Pulisic: £58m winger NOT a direct replacement for Eden Hazard, says football journalist Raphael Honigstein

Chelsea signed American wonderkid Christian Pulisic on his own merit and NOT as a potential replacement for Eden Hazard, German football correspondent Raphael Honigstein has told talkSPORT.

Borussia Dortmund confirmed on Wednesday they had agreed to sell the winger to the Premier League giants for £58million.

Chelsea have signed Christian Pulisic for £58m

He will move to Stamford Bridge in the summer, with the 20-year-old remaining with Dortmund for the rest of the season as part of the deal.

Many have suggested Pulisic has been signed as a long-term replacement for Hazard, whose Blues future remains uncertain.

The Belgian has long been linked with a move to Real Madrid and while a switch during the January transfer window appears very unlikely, there is every chance he could go in the summer.

But Honigstein believes that deal is no closer to being done yet, and that playing Hazard alongside Pulisic in a Chelsea shirt next season could well get the best out of both stars.

Asked for his verdict on the Blues’ new big-money signing, the German football expert said: “He is an attacking midfielder who can play as a number ten, in the hole or out wide, but he’s not an out-and-out player in any of those positions.

“In a way he’s very versatile, but on the other hand what has worked against him this season is that he doesn’t necessarily give you one thing and give you a ten out of ten in any of those positions.


PROFILE: ‘I play a similar style to Reus’ – Why Chelsea have spent £58m on Pulisic


Pulisic, left, will spend the rest of the season at Borussia Dortmund before joining Chelsea in the summer

“But he is only 20 years old and put that into context with his American brand value and the huge following he has, it’s not a gamble in my view. Is it expensive? Yes, but the guy has real talent.

“A lot of scouts think he is about the make the next step up if you put him in a more position-based environment, which is where Chelsea and Sarri come in.”


Honigstein also explained the United States ace is not yet the finished article at 20 years old, but has a lot of potential to be one of Chelsea’s top stars for the future.

“He is a very good player but he is not going to be, at least not immediately, an Eden Hazard type player providing you with 15 or 20 goals a season, he’s more the guy who plays the last ball,” he added.

“I think he could grow into that type of player, but he isn’t quite there yet.

“I don’t think he’s a replacement for Hazard, either. In an ideal world you would have him play with Hazard and I think that would really bring the best out of Hazard, and vice versa.

Transfer report: Manchester United and Liverpool in battle to sign Borussia Dortmund starlet Christian Pulisic
Christian Pulisic helped Dortmund to German Cup victory in the 2016/17 season

“He’s not as direct, he’s not as incisive just yet, but there is potential to grow into that player.

“I don’t think Chelsea have looked at him as the guy to replace Hazard, I think he was bought on his own merit.”

Eden Hazard has yet to commit his future to Chelsea

Asked for his verdict on the Hazard to Real Madrid deal, he also said: “I’m not even sure Chelsea and Hazard know right now if that big move to Real Madrid will happen.

“It’s down to Real and, as far as I know, they still haven’t made the move yet.

“Hazard is still waiting, so I’m not sure it changes much.”

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