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June 7, 2019

Transfer Grade: Manchester United Sign Daniel James for £15m

Chops June 7, 2019

Who: Daniel James
From Where: Swansea
To Where: Manchester United
For How Much: £15M
Grade for Manchester United: B
Grade for Swansea: B+

Daniel James to Manchester United Overview

Of all of the moves Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was speculated to make under his first transfer period with Manchester United, this, uh, wasn’t one of them.

That doesn’t mean that this isn’t the type of move OGS should be making.

Getting a talented young winger at a low cost, in fact, is the exact opposite kind of move that Man U has been making in recent years.

If this is a trend on how OGS plans to rebuild Man U, this is a positive first step.

Who is he?

Daniel James, 21, showed promise in the Championship for Swansea this year.

In 38 total appearances across all competitions, James scored five goals and added 10 assists. He particularly shined in the FA Cup against Brentford and Manchester City. He had the fourth highest WhoScored rating for Swansea this year.

The speedy Welsh winger cooled off some later in 2019 (in part due to injury). Regardless, rumored top-flight interest had been bouncing around all year.

James began his youth career at Shrewsbury Town before coming to Swansea. He’s made two national team appearances for Wales, scoring once.

The connection of James to United is also easy to follow. James plays for the Welsh national team under Man U legend, and former OGS teammate, Ryan Giggs. No doubt Giggs’ opinion weighed heavily on OGS’ decision.

Is the price fair?

From a pricing perspective, this is a solid deal for both Swansea and Manchester United.

In February, Transfermarkt pegged James’ value around $3.42M USD. He sold for approximately $19M USD. That’s a good price for Swansea.

Given how clubs are getting smarter on how they’re spending money–and locking players into deals so they benefit from their prime years–
£15M / $19M on a five year deal ensures United see the best to come from James. If he turns out to be a top flight producer, he’ll still be young enough to lock into a second deal that will see him through his prime.

What impact should we expect?

This is harder to figure out, at least in the short-term.

Does this mean United is considering shipping out Romelu Lukaku as has been rumored? Does this mean Man U is considering a full on clearing of the decks and reboot with a youth movement?

It’ll be easier to weigh James’ impact once we know more about the above two questions (particularly the Lukaku one). However, as more of a facilitator then technical finisher, James could provide a boost to the productivity of United gem Marcus Rashford. He just won’t replace the goals Lukaku (in theory should’ve) produced.

The only minor knock I can make on this deal is: if United are looking for more scoring upside, the player with the highest WhoScored rating for Swansea this year was forward Oliver McBurnie. The Scot tallied 22 Championship goals this year to James’ four. His market value of $5.7M isn’t far from James, and McBurnie is just approaching his prime at 23 years of age.

While the move is a great first step by Manchester United of moving away from their bad habits, it just might not have been the right Swansea player. For that reason they get a B instead of an A.

Women’s World Cup Group Stage Game Odds

High Press 10 June 7, 2019

The 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup kicks off today in France.

FanDuel Sportsbook NJ has matchday 1 of the Group stage priced. Here’s a look at some of the contender’s lines for individual games. Also read: 2019 Women’s World Cup Title Odds.

2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup Group Stage Game Odds

No real surprises here. The countries with the best Women’s World Cup title odds are all heavily favored in their opening group stage games. The USWNT is comically favored in theirs.

All listed odds from FanDuel Sportsbook NJ as of June 7th 10:30am ET.

06/07France -650Draw +600S. Korea +1700
06/08Germany -350Draw +440China +800
06/09England -550Draw +550Scotland +1200
06/09Australia -165Draw +300Italy +420
06/10Canada -750Draw +650Cameroon +1800
06/11Chile +2600Draw +700Sweden -1000
06/11USA -8000Draw +2300Thailand +10000

If you’re looking for any potential value, Italy has at least some upset potential at +420. Otherwise, all of the favorites should roll.

Five Summer Transfer Questions Around Europe

Tyler Everett June 7, 2019

While Real Madrid has wasted no time adding new pieces to bounce back from a miserable season, the rest of Europe’s top teams have not yet made many splashes.

Below are five questions worth considering this summer as the Premier League looks to follow up on an incredible season in Europe. How will the rest of the continent’s top teams look to dethrone Champions League winner Liverpool, Europa League champ Chelsea and FFP violating Manchester City?

1. Will the EPL give us two more all-England European finals?

I doubt it. I have no questions about how loaded Liverpool and Manchester City will be. And honestly, even if they stagnated or regressed a bit, they’d likely be the two best teams in Europe again next season.

Tottenham, however, was extremely fortunate to make it as far as they did in the Champions League. I expect Spurs to finish around the top four in the Premier League again next season, but elimination in the UCL round of 16 seems as likely as another trip to the final. This club has a fascinating summer ahead. Will Manager Mauricio Pochettino return? Will Christian Eriksen leave for another club? Last but not least is the question of whether this team will finally make a notable offseason addition or two.

As for Chelsea, their best player, Eden Hazard, is already gone. Manager Maurizio Sarri also has a very uncertain future with the club. The addition of Christian Pulisic will make them fun to watch, especially for U.S. fans, but the loss of Hazard and a managerial transition will make it tough to finish in third place in the Premier League again.

Arsenal narrowly missed out on Champions League qualification for ’19-20, but along with Manchester United, they will be major threats in the Europa League (not exactly music to the ears of either team’s fans). Manchester United, as usual, promises to have one of the most interesting offseasons of anyone. Could Matthijs de Ligt join them and shore up the defense? Is Paul Pogba on his way out?

*Want more on this topic? Check out this week’s High Press Pod.

2. Will Real Madrid’s marquee transfers return the club to European glory?

Club President Florentino Pérez is clearly not going to spare any expense this summer.

Luka Jovic and Hazard have already moved to the Spanish capital, and will surely not be the last high-profile moves by RM. The question is whether Zinedine Zidane and his new players can make a run in the Champions League or La Liga after finishing 19 points behind Barcelona this year – and eight behind second-place Atlético Madrid.

Few teams will be more interesting to watch early next season as we see whether the new-look squad can make Madridistas forget a nightmarish first season without Cristiano Ronaldo.

3. Where will Antoine Griezmann land, and how will his absence affect his former team?

When Griezmann first announced his departure from Atleti, a move to Barcelona seemed like a certainty. So why haven’t we heard an announcement yet? There are a couple possible explanations. For one thing, it’s been reported in several places that the Frenchman’s release clause in his Atlético contract will drop from €200M to around €125M on July 1. That would certainly explain why Barcelona would want to wait a few more weeks.

Speaking of reports to be taken with a grain of salt, Barcelona-based Sport has claimed the Barça locker room is opposed to a Griezmann signing. Could this be the reason Griezmann ends up elsewhere? (I admit I have no idea how to answer that). What I do know is that Atleti’s top striker is leaving a team that often struggled to score with him in the line-up, making his exit a huge blow to Los Rojiblancos.

4. How depleted will Ajax be by the end of this summer?

We know that stars Frenkie de Jong (Barcelona) and Matthijs de Ligt (??) are leaving Amsterdam. Those players’ departures have been certainties for months.

A slew of their teammates are also going to be in high demand after shining in the Champions League. Hakim Ziyech (26), Donny van de Beek (22) and David Neres (22) are at the top of the list because of their age. Will the massive fees the club receives for de Jong and de Ligt be enough to keep the rest of the roster largely intact? You would like to think so if you’re an Ajax supporter.

However, if a top EPL or La Liga side goes all-in on one of them with an offer of around €50M or €60M, it will be extremely interesting to see how Ajax reacts.

5. Will João Félix move to the EPL?

The 19-year-old Benfica star has been one of the most widely discussed teenagers in the world for quite some time. The question is whether this was his last season outside the continent’s top leagues. The hype around Félix is about more than flashy YouTube highlight videos, as he scored 15 goals and added seven assists in Portugal’s top flight this year in just 1,736 minutes. He alone is reason to tune in (if for some reason CR7 alone isn’t enough for you) to Sunday’s Nations League final between Portugal and the Netherlands at 2:45 p.m. Eastern.

Right now, it seems to be a battle between Manchester United and Manchester City, despite Félix having no shortage of suitors. Benfica’s buyout clause for the player is €120M. He said this week that he will decide on his future after the Nations League final. Time will tell whether he means next week or next month, but either way, it will be one of the most important decisions of the summer.

For a quick look at what he’s capable of, check out what he did vs. Eintracht Frankfurt in Leg 1 of this year’s Europa League quarterfinals.

USMNT Gold Cup Roster – “You’re Not Going to Win Anything With That Guy.”

Peter Nolan June 7, 2019

Gregg Berhalter’s first real USMNT lineup dropped today, one day after an experimental American side shit the bed against Jamaica, losing 1-0 at Audi Field in Washington, DC.

Berhalter had indicated prior to the friendly versus Jamaica that a couple of spots on the Gold Cup roster, which determines the CONCACAF champion, were still up for grabs.

Few if any of the combatants for places shone, although Duane Holmes, a U.S. born, English raised midfielder who plays for English Championship side Derby, was rewarded with a Gold Cup place after he made the most of his substitute appearance versus Jamaica.

You’re not going to win anything…

Below you will see listed the names of the players selected to represent the U.S.A. in competition against Mexico, Costa Rica, Jamaica, etc.

As you peruse the roster, remind yourself of the debacle in Couva, which saw Trinidad and Tobago deny CONCACAF giants, the USA a place in the World Cup for the first time since 1986.

When I look at the names put forth by Berhalter to lead the USMNT into international competition for the first time under his watch, I am reminded of words that my father has said to me for many years now, “you’re not going to win anything with that guy.”

A quick, indulgent, and as brief as possible word about my father is necessary here, so please bear with me.

My father was a big-time athlete in Ireland in the 1950s and in the U.S playing Gaelic, or Irish football, in the 1960s.

As such, he wasn’t brought up playing the All-American sports of baseball, football, basketball, etc. But as an athlete, he could, and still can, spot the real deal from a mile away. Alternatively, he could also spot the guy that was never going to make it. When he would spot the latter, my father would intone gravely; “they’ll never win anything with that guy.”

It didn’t matter that he had never seen American football played until he landed in New York City in the 1960s, he successfully noted that N.Y. Giants legendary coach Bill Parcells was off his rocker when he benched Phil Simms for Scott Brunner, prior to correcting course for the Giants 1986 Super Bowl run.

“They’ll never win with that guy.” And that is what I think about too many of the players on Gregg Berhalter’s 23 man Gold Cup roster.

USMNT Gold Cup roster

Let’s go through the USMNT Gold Cup roster, line by line, and ask the question, is that guy going to help you win anything?

First, the goalkeepers. Zack Steffen is the number one, and numbers two and three won’t matter, barring an injury. Still, I am not sure why Club Brugge number one Ethan Horvath did not get the nod over one of Berhalter’s preferred MLS backups.

Omar Gonzalez? Tim Ream? I admire both of these men and thank them for their contribution to the USMNT, but it is well past time that both Ream and Gonzalez are given a pat on the back and a gold watch and sent on their way.

And then there is the rest of Berhalter’s back line, which practically screams, “you’re not going to win anything with that guy.”

Nick Lima and Daniel Lovitz are a pair of fullbacks that Berhalter likes, but both fail the, “you’re not going to win anything with that guy,” test. They are decent players, but international quality?

And I won’t even get into wasting Tyler Adams at fullback, here, other than to say, please don’t waste Tyler Adams at fullback.

Christian Pulisic, Weston McKennie, and Tyler Adams, yes, alleged fullback, Tyler Adams, should be automatics in the midfield, regardless of formation.

If Berhalter insists on playing Adams in the fullback/hybrid midfield role then Michael Bradley is still better than Trapp, who I don’t personally rate as an international caliber player.

Wil Trapp is not fast enough to cover the space he needs to cover and is not strong enough to win the 50/50 balls needed to do the job in the center of the park.

Similarly, Christan Roldan has yet to make a case for his international bonifides, albeit with fewer chances than Trapp has received. Perhaps Roldan will get there, but to date, he has shown nothing on the international stage to win my belief.

The big talking point up front is that Josh Sargent has been dropped from the full team when he could have been left to play with the U20s.

It seems like a waste of assets and a waste of Sargent’s developmental time. But in fairness to Berhalter, an injury to midfielder Sebastian Lletget made carrying a third striker a luxury he could not afford.

Berhalter rated Sargent behind Jozy Altidore, not currently injured, apparently, and Gyasi Zardes. Given that the 18-year-old played only sporadically for Weder Bremen this season, this is a reasonable stance. Except that Zardes is another that fails my father’s test.

Zardes can score goals in MLS, so too can all-time MLS goalscoring leader Chris Wondoloski. But when it comes to the international game, Zardes, like Wondo would make my father stand up and proclaim, “you’re to going to win anything with that guy.”

Official USMNT roster

DEFENDERS (8): 14-Tyler Adams (RB Leipzig/GER; 10/1), 3-Omar Gonzalez (Toronto FC/CAN; 50/3), 2-Nick Lima (San Jose Earthquakes; 3/0), 23-Aaron Long (New York Red Bulls; 5/0), 16-Daniel Lovitz (Montreal Impact/CAN; 4/0), 19-Matt Miazga (Chelsea/ENG; 13/1),
13-Tim Ream (Fulham/ENG; 29/1), 5-Walker Zimmerman (LAFC; 6/2)

GOALKEEPERS (3): 12-Sean Johnson (New York City FC; 7/0), 22-Tyler Miller (LAFC; 0/0), 1-Zack Steffen (Columbus Crew SC; 9/0)

MIDFIELDERS (6): 4-Michael Bradley (Toronto FC/CAN; 145/17), 20-Duane Holmes (Derby County/ENG; 1/0), 8-Weston McKennie (Schalke/GER; 8/1), 10-Christian Pulisic (Chelsea/ENG; 25/10), 15-Cristian Roldan (Seattle Sounders FC; 10/0), 6-Wil Trapp (Columbus Crew SC; 16/0)

FORWARDS (6): 17-Jozy Altidore (Toronto FC/CAN; 110/41), 7-Paul Arriola (D.C. United; 22/3), 21-Tyler Boyd (Vitória Guimãres/POR; 0/0), 18-Jonathan Lewis (Colorado Rapids; 4/0), 11-Jordan Morris (Seattle Sounders FC; 27/5), 9-Gyasi Zardes (Columbus Crew SC; 44/7)

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