Premier League Set to Agree Big Change to Transfer Window Rules

A Premier League meeting in February will see clubs vote on whether to introduce two separate transfer deadline days: a domestic one and an international one.​

Premier League clubs were left feeling short changed in the summer, as for the second year in a row, the transfer window shut on 8 August, the day before the start of the Premier League season, while the rest of Europe continued to trade for another month.

The Championship also had the same deadline, but the transfer window did not shut for Scottish clubs, League One and League Two sides, and all of the top leagues in Europe until 2 September.

Christian Eriksen

This had consequences for the likes of Tottenham, who had to endure a further month of speculation about Christian Eriksen’s future, while being unable to line up a replacement if he had departed north London.

In a bid to resolve this, ​the Times reports that clubs are set to agree on a new ‘hybrid’ transfer window. 

This would involve the ​Premier League transfer window still closing the day before the season starts, but with international transfers still permitted, allowing clubs to not fall behind their European counterparts, while maintaining the integrity of the Premier League.

The alternatives are switching deadline day back to the end of August, or keeping the existing system. According to the Times report, the hybrid system is being favoured by teams, with at least one of the ‘big six’ keen to push for that option. 

Under the hybrid system, loans between Premier League clubs would not be allowed after the deadline, but ​transfer dealings with football league sides would still be permitted. The meeting and vote will take place on 6 February.

Clubs have also been informed about the impact of Brexit on their transfer activity. This summer will be the final transfer window where clubs can buy 16 and 17-year-olds from Europe.

From next summer onwards, FIFA rules will apply, meaning international signings must be aged 18.


Valentino Lazaro’s Agent Claims Client Wants Return to Inter Following Newcastle Loan

Valentino Lazaro’s agent has claimed the defender wants to return to Inter following his loan spell at Newcastle, despite the Magpies supposedly having an option to sign the Austrian permanently.

Lazaro became Newcastle’s second signing of January and joins Steve Bruce’s side until the end of the 2019/20 season.

But, despite the Magpies reportedly being able to sign the full-back for £20m at the end of the deal, his agent Max Hegmayr claims Lazaro would prefer to return to Italy with the Nerazzurri.

FC Internazionale v Genoa CFC - Serie A

As told to ​FC Inter News, Hegmayr stated: “The player’s first choice is to return to Inter. With more time available he wants to demonstrate that he can help the Nerazzurri club to win the Scudetto.”

The 23-year-old was signed by ​Inter from Hertha BSC in the summer, but has failed to impress Antonio Conte, who has instead opted to sign the experienced duo of Victor Moses and Manchester United’s Ashley Young.

Despite having started just three Serie A games all season, ​Newcastle will be counting on Lazaro to help bolster their injury-stricken defence. Bruce’s team have suffered with injuries all term, with full-backs Matt Ritchie, Javier Manquillo and Jetro Willems all having faced lengthy spells on the sidelines.

But even if Lazaro proves to be a success in the Premier League, it appears likely he will re-join Inter regardless of whatever happens during his time on Tyneside.

The defender has been capped 28 times for Austria and is available for Newcastle’s home clash with bottom-placed Norwich this Saturday, with the Magpies currently sat seven points above the drop.

In spite of an ever-growing injury list, Lazaro is only one of two winter signings at St. James’ Park so far, with former Tottenham midfielder Nabil Bentaleb also making the move to England on loan from ​Schalke.


What Does Nick Cushing’s Departure Mean for Manchester City Women?

At the start of January, Manchester City Women’s manager Nick Cushing announced he was bringing his six-year tenure at the Academy Stadium to an end to take up the position of assistant manager at New York City FC.

Cushing was handed the reins at City in 2013 ahead of the club’s maiden WSL campaign. Within three seasons, he had built a team of title winners. But just how good of a job has the 35-year-old done at City? Will the team be able to cope without him? And what does his departure say about the club’s stance on the women’s game?

Nick Cushing

City earned a Super League licence in 2013, with the club aiming to set new standards in terms of investment, ambition and professionalism in the women’s game.

In what appeared a bizarre appointment, Nick Cushing was unveiled as the team’s brand new manager, the then 29-year-old having only coached junior boys’ sides at the ​Man City academy up until that point. However, City had unearthed a gem.

Cushing was tasked with effectively building a team and identity from scratch. The club had brought in some huge names – including England internationals Steph Houghton and Jill Scott – but also retained a number of players from their Northern Premier Division days; the likes of Krystle Johnston and Emma Lipman, who had never played in the top flight before. 

Despite possessing such a mismatched squad, Cushing guided City to silverware in their first season, beating ​Arsenal in the Continental Cup final. Two years later, the club went an entire season unbeaten as they claimed the WSL title. Two more Continental Cup triumphs would follow, as well as a pair of FA Cup final wins at Wembley and a Champions League semi final.

WSL 1: Manchester City Women v Birmingham City Ladies

What Cushing has achieved is remarkable. The Man City manager deserves a huge amount of credit for not only his trophy haul, but his willingness to simultaneously show faith in youngsters.

Cushing made Keira Walsh a first team regular aged just 17. Similarly, Georgia Stanway was handed her senior debut at 16. The pair have shone for both club and country ever since.

The Man City manager also had no qualms about throwing 18-year-old goalkeeper Ellie Roebuck into the first team after injury to Karen Bardsley. The trust Cushing puts in such young players must work wonders for their confidence.

What is most impressive about Cushing is his ability to make players better. He has inherited some pretty talented individuals during his City tenure, but he has taken their games to the next level.

While playing for Cushing, Izzy Christiansen went from a midfielder not really anywhere near the England fold to a PFA Player of the Year winner, before earning a move to giants of the women’s game, Lyon.

Similarly, Nikita Parris was a raw talent from Everton when she joined City in 2015. She left for Lyon in 2019 as a clinical finisher and one of the first names on Phil Neville’s England team sheet. 

Nikita Parris

This season Lauren Hemp, who joined the club as an exciting young prospect from Bristol City in 2018, has become one of the WSL’s most creative and consistent players aged just 19. 

Such is the reputation Cushing has forged for himself, it is no wonder he is a man in demand. Few can begrudge him the opportunity to live and work in New York in the men’s game. 

However, it is a sad inditement on women’s football that a manager of one of the best women’s teams, in one of the best women’s leagues, sees a move to a less senior position in MLS as a step up. 

Yet what should be most concerning for Man City women’s fans in that New York City have not pinched Cushing from them. New York are a Manchester City owned franchise. This is an internal appointment.

City currently sit joint top of the WSL, with just a point separating the top three and a home game against title rivals ​Chelsea still to come after Cushing’s departure. The powers that be at City are willing to derail the women’s team’s title bid so that their MLS franchise can have an assistant manager.

Having lost three players to Lyon and one player to Barcelona in the last two years, and now offering their manager a job elsewhere mid title race, the signs are there to suggest Manchester City are putting their women’s team on the backburner. 

The demise of Liverpool can be traced back to Lucy Bronze leaving the club for a more ambitious Manchester City side in 2014. Three years later, Bronze left City for a more ambitious Lyon…


Manchester United’s Biggest Wins Since Sir Alex Ferguson Retired in 2013

Manchester United won 6-0 against Tranmere in the fourth round of the FA Cup over the weekend, the club’s biggest victory in any competition since Sir Alex Ferguson retired in 2013.

United have won 18 games by at least four goals in the last seven years, including famous 4-0 victories against Norwich when Ryan Giggs was caretaker manager, Angel Di Maria’s demolition of QPR, a thrashing of Yeovil on Alexis Sanchez’s debut and against Chelsea in August 2019.

But United have scored five or more goals in only a handful of those victories.

Here’s a look back at the club’s four biggest wins in the post-Fergie era…

Man Utd 5-1 FC Midtjylland (February 2016)


This game was made famous as Marcus Rashford’s United debut, having been thrown into the starting line-up when Anthony Martial was injured in the warm-up.

United actually trailed Midtjylland 2-1 from the first leg of the Europa League tie, but an own goal cancelled out the deficit, before Rashford bagged a monumental brace in the second half.

Ander Herrera converted a late penalty and Memphis Depay capped off arguably the best performance of his short-lived United career with a fifth.

Cardiff 1-5 Man Utd (December 2018)

Ander Herrera

Jose Mourinho was sacked in December 2018 off the back of a 3-1 defeat to Liverpool and a run of one win in five Premier League games. That paved the way for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer to be drafted in as caretaker manager, with the Norwegian overseeing a 5-1 win in his first game.

That victory came away from home against former club Cardiff, making the occasion all the more sweeter for Solskjaer, who was slated as a failure in south Wales.

Rashford scored just three minutes into the game, with further goals from Herrera and Martial before the interval. Jesse Lingard then got a rare brace in the second half.

Bayer Leverkusen 0-5 Man Utd (November 2013)


The highlight of David Moyes’ 10-month stint at Old Trafford was a 5-0 thrashing of Bayer Leverkusen in Germany in the Champions League group stage.

United had endured a dreadful start to the Premier League season. But Europe provided relative respite for Moyes as his team demolished Leverkusen, a result which secured qualification for the knockout stages with a game to spare.

United led 2-0 after half an hour when an own goal doubled the advantage given by Antonio Valencia. Jonny Evans, Chris Smalling and a fine strike from Nani rounded off the scoring.

Tranmere 0-6 Man Utd (January 2020)

Harry Maguire

United’s FA Cup fourth round victory over Tranmere gave fans something to be joyful about and much needed relief against a backdrop of utter chaos this season.

It is United’s biggest away win since the 8-1 thrashing of Nottingham Forest in 1999, when Solskjaer himself scored four times off the bench, and the first time a United side has scored five in the first half of any game since a 6-1 win against Arsenal in February 2001.

Harry Maguire scored an unlikely long-range stunner to kick things off, followed by further goals from Diogo Dalot, Lingard, Phil Jones, Martial and Mason Greenwood.

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Despite Mikel Arteta’s Insistence, Granit Xhaka Is Still Not the Man for Arsenal’s Midfield

With the January transfer window about to come to an end, it seems that Mikel Arteta has pulled off a remarkable feat.

No, he’s not managed to sell Shkodran Mustafi yet – sorry Arsenal fans – but he has managed to reintegrate Granit Xhaka into the first team.

When the Spaniard took over as Arsenal boss in December, it seemed that that would be near on impossible.

The Switzerland international had been stripped of the club captaincy after an expletive-ridden meltdown directed at his own fans in the now infamous game against Crystal Palace, and seemed destined to join Hertha Berlin.

But now, it appears as though Arteta has managed to convince him to stay, with the Spaniard even saying as much during one of his press conferences.

And to be fair to Xhaka, his own personal turnaround under new management has been pretty remarkable.

He has thrived in a deep lying playmaking role where he is no longer forced to do the defensive work that Lucas Torreira – who Unai Emery insisted on playing as a number 10 – excels in. Instead, he has stepped up and been one of the Gunners’ better performers in recent weeks, even excelling at centre back after ​David Luiz’ red card against ​Chelsea.

Arteta has spoken of his admiration for the former Borussia Monchengladbach man. After the 2-0 victory over Manchester United on New Year’s Day, he said: “I really like him. I think with the way we want to play, we’ll get him on board, he can be a tremendous player for the football club.”

Arsenal’s new boss can do little wrong in the eyes of fans at the minute, but even still he was taking a big risk publicly praising such an unpopular player.

While dewy-eyed football romantics might view this as a feel-good story about a misunderstood player who has been able to turn things around, the cold hard cynics will see that something else is afoot here.

Throughout his brief time as Arsenal boss, Arteta has had to be pragmatic to try and get the best out of the cards dealt to him that would have even James Bond breaking his poker face in despair.

Mikel Arteta

For example, he has fielded the side in a formation that has got the best out of attacking talents like ​Mesut Ozil and ​Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, while focusing on the attacking strengths of make-shift left back Bukayo Saka, and the midfield abilities of Ainsley Maitland-Niles.

It would seem that what he is doing with Xhaka is no different.

For a team that was once famed for having too many attacking midfielders, the Gunners’ options are now woefully lacking in experience and quality. The likes of Dani Ceballos, Matteo Guendouzi and Joe Willock hardly strike terror into the opposition in the way that ​Santi Cazorla, ​Cesc Fabregas and ​Aaron Ramsey would do back in their Emirates Stadium heydays.

So Arteta is having to make the best of a bad situation and trying to get the best out what is probably his best central midfielder. While we could write a whole other article on what that says about the club’s fall from grace, it is a shrewd move from the Spaniard.

Xhaka is also an immensely popular member of the dressing room. After the Crystal Palace debacle, players went round to his immediately to comfort him, and Lucas Torreira was even pictured crying at the treatment of his teammate.

Even more cynically, it could be argued that Xhaka is one of the few high value assets the Gunners have right now. As an experienced international midfielder, his value in today’s market will only go up if he keeps playing as well as he is at the minute. If they then sold him, it would give Arteta valuable funds to improve his squad that the Kroenke’s seemingly won’t relinquish.

Stuart Attwell,Granit Xhaka

The hard evidence that this is such a pragmatic approach is in the fact that the Swiss captain simply doesn’t fit the style of play Arsenal’s new manager wants to implement.

If you look at the way Pep Guardiola sets up his teams – which we assume is the way Arteta wants to as well, based on his time coaching at ​Manchester City and his early games in charge of Arsenal – then there is no place for Xhaka’s slow, ponderous passing in a midfield that moves the ball quickly.

Despite Danny Murphy’s frustrations, there’s no place for the 27 year-old’s addiction to ridiculous yellow cards either.

From the moment Arsenal’s new boss walked back into the Emirates Stadium, it was obvious that he had lofty ambitions for Arsenal. However good Granit Xhaka’s performances might have been in recent times, there’s no way Arteta can achieve them with the Swiss in his midfield.