Benjamin Sesko potential destinations – ranked

The 2024 summer transfer window looks set to be dominated by strikers, with RB Leipzig’s Benjamin Sesko one of many players being tracked by Europe’s elite.

The 20-year-old’s €50m (£42m) release clause makes him a fascinating prospect, not least because Leipzig are expected to be flexible when it comes to that clause. At a time in which financial rules have left the globe paralysed by fear, that could be massive for any suitor.

Here’s a look at Sesko’s potential destinations, ranked by fit.

Xavi HernandezXavi Hernandez

Barcelona will struggle to afford Sesko / Jonathan Moscrop/GettyImages

Barcelona have been linked to countless players this summer, despite the fact they can’t afford to sign anybody, and that feels like the case with Sesko.

Camp Nou officials probably do like Sesko, who would actually make sense considering 35-year-old Robert Lewandowski isn’t getting any younger, but they’re not going to be able to compete for Sesko financially.

Fortunately for Barcelona, they do have Vitor Roque as the heir to Lewandowski’s throne. Time to hope he comes good.

Fit: 1/10

Jurgen KloppJurgen Klopp

Liverpool could reshuffle in attack / James Baylis – AMA/GettyImages

Liverpool have plenty of pressing matters as they prepare for Jurgen Klopp’s departure, but signing a new striker shouldn’t be one of them.

The Reds already have an expensive forward in Darwin Nunez, and while Sesko would make a very nice alternative, it seems like Liverpool need to be spending their money elsewhere.

A new centre-back is key and another midfielder wouldn’t hurt, and then there’s the little old question of potentially needing to replace Mohamed Salah if he is swayed by Saudi Arabia.

Fit: 2/10

Erik ten HagErik ten Hag

Sesko may not be the right fit for Man Utd / MB Media/GettyImages

We’re now entering the teams that actually need strikers this summer, but Sesko may not be the kind of player Manchester United are looking for.

When Rasmus Hojlund was struggling, the Red Devils were looking for a proven goalscorer with experience – Eric-Maxim Choupo-Moting was a target, for reference. Now the Dane is firing, however, there is more willingness to get a little creative with the next signing.

The problem with Sesko is that he is young, unproven in the Premier League and, effectively, just another Hojlund. It makes no sense to take another risk in attack.

Fit: 5/10

Mikel ArtetaMikel Arteta

Do Arsenal still need a new striker? / Marc Atkins/GettyImages

After Gabriel Jesus admitted scoring goals wasn’t his strength, Arsenal decided they wanted a new striker, and they joined the queue of suitors for Sesko.

Since then, however, Kai Havertz has stepped up and filled the void in attack, and now you wonder whether Arsenal actually need a new striker.

Spending nearly £50m on Sesko, who would either sit on the bench or force Mikel Arteta to drop £65m-man Havertz, doesn’t feel like a wise move.

Fit: 5/10

Stefano PioliStefano Pioli

Milan will soon need a new striker / Marco Luzzani/GettyImages

AC Milan are expected to lose top scorer Olivier Giroud this summer, and replacing him is not going to be easy.

Neither Luka Jovic nor Noah Okafor have shown enough to suggest they could lead the line for Milan, who are now on the hunt for another towering goalscorer.

Sesko is exactly the sort of player Milan should be looking at, but reports suggest their focus is now on Bologna’s Joshua Zirkzee, whose proven record of scoring in Serie A gives him an understandable advantage here.

Fit: 7/10

Luis EnriqueLuis Enrique

PSG are heading for a rebuild / Franco Arland/GettyImages

Kylian Mbappe’s imminent departure from Paris Saint-Germain will change a lot of things about the club, including who will lead the line in attack.

A turn towards younger players is on the agenda for PSG, who are also looking to avoid the big-money megastars that have defined the past decade at Ligue 1’s richest club, and few strikers meet the criteria better than Sesko.

The only problem for PSG is Sesko’s limited track record in a major league. After all, they’re trying to replace their all-time record goalscorer, so they can’t really afford to get this wrong.

Fit: 8/10

Mauricio PochettinoMauricio Pochettino

Chelsea need a goalscorer / James Gill – Danehouse/GettyImages

Chelsea need somebody to put the ball in the back of the net. That has been abundantly clear for years now but, for whatever reason, the problem hasn’t been solved.

Sure, they may want a proven goalscorer like Victor Osimhen, but Chelsea have shackled themselves by years of immense spending that probably should limit their spending this summer.

Sesko is half the price of Osimhen but has the potential to reach his level, and you just know that potential will have piqued the interest of Chelsea’s owners. Sesko fits the project perfectly, even though he is still a bit of a gamble.

Fit: 9/10

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FPL Gameweek 33: Top replacements for injured Jarrod Bowen

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West Ham star Jarrod Bowen is the latest highly-owned attacker to succumb to injury in FPL.

The Hammers attacker missed their Europa League clash with Bayer Leverkusen on Thursday. With a return date not yet known for his knee problem, now is the time to sell, especially as West Ham have no double gameweeks in the final weeks of the season.

So who are the best alternatives? in conjunction with Fantasy Football Hub’s powerful AI Points Predictions tool, here are the best replacements for the injured Bowen in FPL Gameweek 33.

Cole Palmer

Cole PalmerCole Palmer

Palmer is in sensational form / James Gill – Danehouse/GettyImages

Chelsea’s Cole Palmer is reaching must-have status in FPL, netting seven double-digit hauls this season. The Blues have eight fixtures before the end of the campaign, including two matches in both Gameweek 35 and 37.

He leads the form charts with three double-digit hauls in the last four gameweeks, racking up six goals and two assists, and had 12 shots on target in this time. Penalties remain an important source of points for Palmer, with the Blues receiving a league-high 11 spot-kicks.

Luis Diaz

Luis Diaz, Darwin NunezLuis Diaz, Darwin Nunez

Can Diaz go big this weekend? / Robbie Jay Barratt – AMA/GettyImages

With a looming Double Gameweek 33 and a kind home fixture against Crystal Palace this weekend, fantasy managers should be considering at least doubling up on Liverpool’s front three. Winger Luis Diaz has the recent form, with three attacking returns in his last three matches.

Diaz’s home form has been particularly impressive this calendar year, with four goals and two assists in six appearances and just one blank. He has completed 90 minutes in three of the last four games and can be relied upon as a regular starter in Jurgen Klopp’s side. 

Kai Havertz

Kai HavertzKai Havertz

Havertz is a threat for Arsenal / Sportsphoto/Allstar/GettyImages

With a leading 38 goals in 2024, the case to double up on Arsenal attackers ahead of their Double Gameweek 34 is increasingly compelling, with Kai Havertz a crucial source of points. He has scored just four points fewer in this spell than the popular Bukayo Saka, who continues to carry fitness concerns.

Havertz has racked up two goals and two assists in the last four gameweeks and has started nine consecutive games in the Premier League. Opponents Aston Villa are without a clean sheet on the road in their last four, conceding eight goals in that period.

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Liverpool’s best and worst players from first leg defeat to Atalanta

Liverpool’s hopes of adding to their large collection of European trophies and ending Jurgen Klopp’s final season at Anfield with a treble took a major hit as they were blown away by Atalanta in the Europa League.

The Reds were favourites to reach the semi-finals and even win the competition ahead of Thursday night’s first leg in the quarter-finals. However, it was a rare off night for Klopp’s side, who suffered their first defeat at Anfield in over a year.

With their chances of glory on the continent now hanging by a thread, here are the players who impressed and those who flattered to deceive in the 3-0 loss, as per 90min’s player ratings.

Cody Gakpo – 6/10

Isak Hien, Cody GakpoIsak Hien, Cody Gakpo

Gakpo impressed in patches / Richard Sellers/Allstar/GettyImages

Netherlands international Cody Gakpo was lively throughout the first leg, even if he did end up fading towards full-time.

The 24-year-old was Liverpool’s most vibrant attacker, creating five chances while racking up 1.4 worth of expected assists. Had his teammates put the right boots on and finished some of those opportunities, the result may have been different for Gakpo and the Reds.

Honourable mention

Andy Robertson – 6/10

Thursday night offered Andy Robertson the chance to get more minutes in his legs after his first start since returning from injury last weekend in the draw at Man Utd.

He came on as a half-time substitute here and did provide a fresh sense of urgency down the left, with some of his teasing deliveries only just missing their targets.

Caoimhin Kelleher – 4/10

Caoimhin KelleherCaoimhin Kelleher

Kelleher conceded a few preventable goals / Robbie Jay Barratt – AMA/GettyImages

What started as a good night for Caoimhin Kelleher soon turned to a mixed evening and then a major disappointment.

The Republic of Ireland international had made a blinding save with his face in the first five minutes to deny Mario Pasalic, but he didn’t see enough of Gianluca Scamacca’s first effort to prevent it sliding under his body and could only smother Ederson’s shot into Pasalic’s path for the third goal.

Kelleher has been largely consistent during Alisson’s recent spell on the sidelines but this outing will go down as a season low, with Liverpool’s chances of Europa League progression now slim after such a heavy defeat.

Dishonourable mention

Darwin Nunez – 4/10

Darwin NunezDarwin Nunez

Nunez couldn’t open Liverpool’s account / Robbie Jay Barratt – AMA/GettyImages

It was another performance filled with chaos from Darwin Nunez, but there was no fun to be had for Liverpool fans as he proved luckless in front of goal.

The Uruguayan’s four shots racked up a combined 0.52 in expected goals but he only hit the target with one effort, also being caught offside twice.

Liverpool have been guilty of wasteful finishing throughout the 2023/24 season but their form in front of goal has started to cost them regularly in recent weeks. With a three-goal deficit to overturn next week in Bergamo, the Reds can’t afford for Nunez to be anything but razor-sharp for the return leg.

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Real Madrid dealt blow in pursuit of Ethan Mbappe

Ethan Mbappe’s future is not tied to that of his brother Kylian, who is expected to join Real Madrid from Paris Saint-Germain this summer, 90min understands.

Kylian is out of contract at the end of the season and has revealed his intention to leave PSG once it expires. 90min previously reported he will forgo up to €80m in bonuses as part of a complicated legal agreement that means the French champions aren’t out of pocket, with Victor Osimhen and Marcus Rashford among the star names on their list of potential replacements.

Madrid have long been interested in Kylian and they are in advanced talks with him over a summer move – an agreement has not yet been totally reached but the framework is in place.

In the meantime, the Spanish press have suggested Madrid could also sign his 17-year-old brother Ethan in a similar deal to their respective moves from Monaco to PSG in 2017. But sources have told 90min both PSG and the player himself are focused on him securing more minutes at Parc des Princes and extending his stay hasn’t been ruled.

Kylian Mbappe, Ethan Mbappe, Wilfried MbappeKylian Mbappe, Ethan Mbappe, Wilfried Mbappe

The Mbappes joined PSG in 2017 / Jean Catuffe/GettyImages

Ethan, who plays in central midfield, has made three senior appearances for PSG this season, though has dropped out of their matchday squads in recent weeks.

His contract expires this summer too but PSG are currently relaxed about the situation. Talks have not advanced recently though they have not fallen through either and both parties are on good terms.

When Kylian announced to the PSG squad he would be leaving, head coach Luis Enrique turned to Ethan and jokingly asked if he would be following him out the exit door, to which he insisted ‘no’.

PSG’s priority is to ensure Kylian’s exit is as smooth as possible and the terms are finalised, while Ethan is working hard to win back his spot in Enrique’s squad. That means Ethan’s future may not be resolved until closer to the end of the season.

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Do away goals count in the Europa League?

The 2023/24 Europa League knockout rounds are well underway, with teams fighting to be crowned champions of the continent’s second most prestigious cup competition.

While some teams are flying effortlessly through this season’s tournament, other sides have found life a lot more challenging as they vie for European glory.

With fixtures that could swing either way throughout the knockout phase, it’s important for clubs and their supporters to know how Europa League ties are settled in the event of an aggregate draw come the final whistle.

Having been a regular feature of European competition in past years, is the away goal rule still in use in the Europa League?

The away goal rule was previously a pivotal part of knockout football in Europe, with the side who had netted more over two legs progressing if the tie ended in a draw on aggregate. However, away goals no longer count in any European competition, and that includes the 2023/24 Europa League.

UEFA chose to get rid of the away goal rule at the start of the 2021/22 season, a decision that has been met with significant backlash from plenty of supporters.

Houssem AouarHoussem Aouar

Europa League ties can be settled by penalties / Silvia Lore/GettyImages

If the aggregate score between two sides is now level after both legs have been played, the game will go to extra-time – regardless of which team has scored more away goals. That gives both sides an additional 30 minutes to try and swing the tie, although that’s not always possible.

If neither team is able to capitalise in extra time, the match will eventually go to a standard penalty shootout.

Out of the eight ties in the Europa League knockout round play-offs this year, three matches ended up going to extra-time. However, if the away goal rule still stood, only one of those games wouldn’t have been settled on away goals – the tie between Roma and Feyenoord that was decided on penalties.

Olympiacos vs Arsenal – 2020

Pierre-Emerick AubameyangPierre-Emerick Aubameyang

Aubameyang missed a golden opportunity for Arsenal / Harriet Lander/Copa/GettyImages

Having secured a 1-0 first-leg victory, Arsenal were odds-on favourites to progress to the last 16 when they hosted Greek outfit Olympiacos in February 2020.

The Gunners had enjoyed an unbeaten start to the year but were poor for large swathes of the return leg, which went to extra time after Pape Abou Cisse’s opener.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s awesome 113th-minute scissor kick put the north Londoners back in the driving seat, but awful set-piece defending allowed Youssef El Arabi to poke in from a free kick, levelling the aggregate score at 2-2 and putting the visitors ahead on away goals.

There was still time for Aubameyang to somehow lash wide from roughly five yards out, prompting groans of disbelief and disappointment from the home faithful as Arsenal’s elimination was sealed.

Liverpool vs Zenit Saint Petersburg – 2013

Steven GerrardSteven Gerrard

Gerrard’s Liverpool were knocked out by Zenit / Alex Livesey/GettyImages

A 2-0 defeat in Russia meant it was do or die for Liverpool in the Europa League in 2013. Despite their best efforts at Anfield, the Reds didn’t survive.

Goals from Hulk and Sergei Semak had given Zenit Saint Petersburg a two-goal lead in their last-32 tie and the hopes of Brendan Rodgers’ side looked all but extinguished when Hulk struck again 19 minutes into the return leg, capitalising on a Jamie Carragher error.

However, two Luis Suarez free-kicks either side of Joe Allen’s close-range finish had the Reds level on aggregate but still needing another to go through.

It never arrived as Liverpool exited the Europa League on away goals, having been knocked out of the FA Cup by League One side Oldham and eliminated from the League Cup by Rodgers’ former club Swansea.

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