Everton Miss Malcom and the Mark With Richarlison – 200takes

Richarlison for £50m is a weird transfer and valuation for Everton and the player. It is clear that Everton need more options in attack after their mid-season sputter last season, however is overpaying for an unproven asset the resolution?

The history of Everton’s valuations being off is there:


But for new manager Marco Silva, Richarlison is a friendly face and one he got the best out of as his manager at Watford (Richarlison scored all five of his goals last season with him as manager). Still, despite the impressive upside of the 21 year old Brazilian, £50 million seems like a lot for a player who only managed five goals in 36 games, going 26 games without scoring.

What really puts this move into perspective is the signing of 21 year old, Brazilian winger Malcom by Barcalona from Bordeaux. Malcom managed 12 goals (7 more than Richarlison) and 7 assists, and only cost Barcelona a rumored fee of £36.5.

Simply put Everton have missed the mark on their new attacker – that is not an indictment on the player who could prove us all wrong, but the board of Everton. Valuations can save your club from wasting money, allowing it to be used more effectively elsewhere. In this case Everton’s budget has been busted on an unproven player.

Keeping Snodgrass Makes Sense for West Ham

Bought in the January 2017 trasnfer window to lessen the blow of Dimitri Payet up and leaving West Ham, Robert Snodgrass had a brutal second half with West Ham. The team sputtered without their star player and Snodgrass being played out of position didn’t help. From unfair criticism on his play, to being slagged off by West Ham’s board members, Snodgrass has had a tumultuous time at West Ham.

Following a truly superb season on loan at Aston Villa for Snodgrass, Manuel Pellegrini has apparently been very impressed with the Scotsman’s work ethic and performances in the Hammers’ preseason so far. So, should West Ham keep the attacking midfielder?

As it stands now, not only is Snodgrass a solid locker room figure for his teammates, he has also found his form again from his Hull days. These are both two massive points that should turn Pellegrini into a Snodgrass supporter. As well, the formation Pellegrini plays seems to fit Snodgrass’ abilities and play style perfectly, built on attacking midfielders who have creative license on the pitch.

This organizational fit that is on the horizon under Pellegrini is a stark contrast from Bilic’s days at the helm when he bought Snodgrass and forced him to play left wing. Snodgrass, a noted right sided or central attacker willingly tentatively agreed to play on the left but was certainly not a one-for-one replacement for Payet.

No, Pellegrini won’t force his players to play out of position, but rather will tailor the formation to better suit them – for Snodgrass this means roaming attacking midfield positions that allow for creativity from the centre of the pitch. It is well documented that Pellegrini likes formations with two strikers and 2-3 attacking midfielders in support behind them. Snodgrass has shown so far in preseason that he can play this AM role and back up the strikers.

Outside of a brief and ongoing preseason Snodgrass proved at Villa last season that he still has the ability to perform. In Birmingham Mail‘s Aston Villa season player rankings Snodgrass got an 8/10 for his massive contribution in Villa’s promotion playoff final loss season. Dubbed the assist king, Snodgrass registered 14 assists, good enough for tied-first ranking in the Championship. He also added 8 goals, proving he still has that offensive touch Bilic and West Ham believed he did when they bought him.

At worst Snodgrass pushes the squads pace in training and provides depth for Pellegrini’s attacking midfield focused formations. He is controllable, and offers probably more value as a squad player than he would return dollar-wise in a transfer out. I say keep him, give the Scotsman a chance to prove himself at the highest level of English football again.

…oh and my feelings on Snodgrass have NOTHING to do with the fact that I bought his jersey when he signed with West Ham. I swear.

West Ham get their man, but where does Anderson fit into the squad?

West Ham and their new manager Manuel Pellegrini have got their man in Lazio attacking midfielder Felipe Anderson. Anderson boasts some extremely potent speed and some slick dribbling skills that seem to get him into the oppositions area in dangerous areas. For a team that lost their main midfield attacker in Manuel Lanzini, Anderson offers some reprieve for what could have been a dampened season.

West Ham have smashed their transfer record for Anderson who is believed to have cost around £40 million. The transfer record was previously at £22 million from another Pellegrini transfer acquisition in Issa Diop brought in this window; it is fairly clear that Pellegrini is not wasting his time at West Ham United.

So, where does the pacy attacker fit into West Ham’s team? Well that depends on the formation. Pellegrini is known for two formations: 4-2-2-2 or 4-1-3-2; in either formation we would see Anderson in a wide attacking midfield position. He did feature on the right side for Lazio, even as a wingback opposite West Ham target Jordan Lukaku. With West Ham’s new recruits on defense Anderson won’t have to worry about tracking back too far.

Possible formations

Fredericks – Diop – Ogbonna – Masuaku
Rice – Wilshere
Yarmolenko             –               Anderson
Chicharito – Arnautovic

Fredericks – Diop – Ogbonna – Masuaku
Yarmolenko – Wilshere – Anderson
Chicharito – Arnautovic

In both of these proposed lineups we see a dedication to having two strikers; for Anderson this should be exciting. Not required to dribble into the box every attack to create offense, Anderson can pick and choose when he cuts inside and will constantly have options to cross to.

Also, in both of these formations I would line up Anderson on the left side, which he can play, behind Arnautovic. Arnie has the ability to pick up the ball and bring it forward, and could overlap with Anderson in attack. Yarmolenko, while a strong dribbler, looks more dangerous from range which would make him a solid winger/attacker behind Chicharito.

An underrated aspect of the Anderson signing is his age, at just 24 years old Anderson is just entering his prime. Anderson also signed a four year contract, “locking him in” at West Ham for the foreseeable future. For the Hammers they are getting a dynamic playmaker with elite speed and quality finishing. He has been playing top flight football in Italy’s Serie A for five season, bringing European experience with him to East London.

This is a true signing of intent for Pellegrini, the board, and West Ham in general. The Hammers are looking to put a few abyssal season behind them with a completely revamped squad. The new team is built upon speed and skill and should be able to put on a show for the West Ham faithful.

World Cup Final: France

In this summary – The Rivals compare the pre-tournament outlook on Croatia with how they look coming into the Final and who can have an impact.

In one of the more predictable groups, France’s star-studded roster brings along with it the highest expectations they’ve had in quite a few years.

It’s safe to say they’ve met expectations, but these players could become legends in their country and kick-off an amazing decade in French football if their young core can come together and pull out a win for the French. They’d become heavy favourites to take the next one in 2022.

Antoine Griezmann – Coming off a 19-goal campaign in La Liga where his club finished 2nd place, the striker looks to build on the success he’s had in previous international duties, scoring at a rate of a goal every 2 games. Much more is expected of him this time around as he’ll be looked at as the main man on France’s front line.

His WC: Antoine has kept this pace going on football’s highest stage, chipping in with 3 goals in 6 matches, and doing exactly what he needed to do to get his team to the Final. A world-class player, Greizmann will look to contribute at least one more in Russia to bring the gold back to France and maybe even have his face put on a stamp.

Paul Pogba – Paul Pogba is expected to be the main man in France’s quest to take back their place as giants.

His WC: While Pogba hasn’t been a firecracker on the scoresheet, (0 goals), he’s been the main point man in the middle of the pitch, which is most important. He’s doing his job exactly as he should be. The spine of the French team has been strong to this point, and while he’ll have his hands full with Modric and Rakitic, he’s more than capable of winning that battle.

Kylian Mbappe – At only 19 years old, he was also one of the highest priced transfers on record, falling behind only his PSG teammate, and perennial Ballon d’or challenger, Neymar. While it’s not known exactly how involved he’ll be when the tournament commences, it’s intriguing to think of how potent this offense could be with him included. My prediction is, he’s going to play a lot, and bring it.

His WC: Well, I have to say I was bang on with this one. Mbappe has taken the world by storm, and it looks as if there’s nobody that can stop him. He’s made blazing runs, scored 3 goals from open play, and dazzled audiences. The Croatian defence is going to get a steady dose of Mbappe today, and they’ll be hard-pressed to stop him.

World Cup Final: Croatia

In this summary – The Rivals compare the pre-tournament outlook on Croatia with how they look coming into the Final and who can have an impact.

A squad often underestimated by World Cup predictors, Croatia boasts a midfield full of dominant, Spanish league players, and an attack that has some top class Italian league players – both factors in their dark horse status. After not making it to the 2010 World Cup in South Africa Croatia got back on track in Brazil in 2014 finishing 19th, their best finish outside of their 1998 3rd place finish in France. Can their elite and underrated talent carry them out of a competitive group into elimination games?

They have met expectations and far surpassed them, all at the same time. Coming from a 19th place finish in Brazil, Croatia has put it all together, melding a stout back line with what to me has been the best midfield tandem in the tournament with Rakitic and Modric, and topping it off with the clinical ability of Mandzukic. They’ve all shown up at the right time, and this World Cup may just be Croatia’s time.

Luka Modric – The main midfield man at Real Madrid, Luka Modric will be the heartbeat of everything that Croatia can muster up in Russia. One of the intangible players that every elite team seem to have amidst their midfield, Modric won’t necessarily be filling the score sheet, but his ability to dictate play and create link up passes that free the offence will be his contribution.

His WC: While we were dead on in predicting what Modric brings to this side (not that it’s hard to guess considering the player he is) where we missed out were his goals. Luka has gone on to score twice on his way to the Final and is the favourite to come out of it, win or lose, with the Golden Ball as the World Cup’s best player. He’s become a house-hold name for the fair-weather fan.

Ivan Perisic – Converting 11 goals in Serie A this season, Perisic evened that total with assists showing he can create as much as he can finish. A versatile attacking player who can take control of a game – with the striker options Croatia have, this could be a fun tournament for Perisic.

His WC: And what a fun tournament Perisic has had. He’s played the bulk of Croatia’s games, and contributed 2 goals. A sore spot for him would be missing a few golden chances, but it hasn’t mattered as they’ve made it to the Final anyway. Look for Perisic to atone for his past misses and pot a big one for his country today.

Andrej Kramaric – My dark horse player on a dark horse team, the 26-year-old striker from Hoffenheim in the Bundesliga could be the man to replace long servant and still potent target man and striker Mario Mandzukic.

His WC: Kramaric has definitely done his part for his country this World Cup, playing a total of 314 minutes coming into the final, and scoring 1 goal by his head. One of our dark horses coming into the tournament, he remains in that spot coming into the final where you can look to him to provide his team with a spark.

West Ham’s New Back Line With Balbeuna

West Ham announced the signing of Corinthians centre back and captain Fabian Balbuena from Brazil’s top flight of football. The fee is rumored to be between £2.5-5 million. Balbuena will be West Ham’s sixth signing of the window and joins Issa Diop and Ryan Fredericks in West Ham’s new back line of defenders.

While a lot is unknown about Balbuena’s game due to him playing in Brazil, the scouting reports on him suggest West Ham could be getting a bargain. He is known for his aerial skills by winning balls and clearing his lines with timely headers but he also has some offensive prowess, too. In the 2016/17 season Balbuena scored 6 goals, most coming from set piece play in the opponents area and most coming off of his head.

He seems to read the play well and knows when to clear his lines, when to look for a long pass, when to step in on a tackle, and when to rush up into the play. His tackling is a specific area of his game that West Ham fans should be excited about. He isn’t afraid to step up on attackers and stick a well placed foot into their feet to legally win the ball, rather than constantly be backed down.

It sounds as if Balbuena (26) could effectively be the heir apparent to current centre back Angelo Ogbonna. Both are strong tacklers and both excel at aerial duels. While it is unlikely he walks into the starting line up this season, Balbuena should see first team action in the Cup teams Pellegrini puts out.

With Balbuena now signed West Ham have new recruit Issa Diop, Angelo Ogbonna, Winston Reid, Reece Oxford, and possibly (if he isn’t a midfielder by seasons start) Declan Rice lining up to be centre backs. Oxford has expressed his desire to leave the club, and unless there is a massive boost in his play and attitude he should be off. As well West Ham could look to cash in on Winston Reid while he still has some solid value (£10-15m?), stripping another CB option away.

That would leave Balbuena, Diop, and Ogbonna as true centre backs with both Rice and (should he be here) Cheikhou Kouyate as depth options at centre back. Ideally a youngster should slot in for some valuable bench and Cup time, but if there is no easy choice for that role look for Mario Husillos to recruit another young player to add to the CB depth chart.

Younger and quicker – two words to describe West Ham’s defense this season. Young(er) comes from Diop and Balbuena, and quick comes from probable starting fullbacks Arthur Masuaku and Ryan Fredericks. With football becoming more and more focused on skill and speed over physicality and grit Pellegrini is adapting his squad to this evolving style of play rapidly.

Welcome Balbuena!

*Amendment – With Reid’s injury (knee, 3 months) West Ham are essentially hamstrung with a potential deal. Look for Pellegrini and Husillos to look for a solid bench option to replace him, or to hold onto Reece Oxford now as a potential depth centreback.

Handle With Care – Javier Hernandez

West Ham fans had been crying out for a legitimate, proven, world class striker for years and in the summer transfer window of 2017 it appeared they had gotten their man. The connections then manager Slaven Bilic had laid years prior paid off as Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez signed with Bilic and West Ham…queue the songs:

But after a poor start to the season by the team, Chicharito and West Ham were sputtering. Soon Bilic would be sacked and then the unthinkable happened. The man who clashed with Chicharito at Manchester United was appointed West Ham manager – Welcome David Moyes. By all accounts time had healed the rift between the player and manager, but Moyes team selection didn’t reflect this “fact”.

While he was injured and missed four games after Moyes took control of West Ham on November 7th, Chicharito was fit again for the Hammers December 9th match against Chelsea. He wouldn’t see a full 90 minutes until January 30th, and would only play five matches as a starter under his arch nemesis. Hernandez ended the season with a knee injury missing two of the last three matches and watched the season finale from the bench. He was pissed and it was obvious; it looked like he’d be off.

But not so fast twitter doom merchants! West Ham announced the impressive appointment of Manuel Pellegrini as the successor to David Moyes. The Engineer as he is known, has gone to work engineering a revamped squad with over five top signings since joining and more on the horizon. The best part for Chicharito? None of them are strikers and a few are solid passers and crossers – a strikers dream!

Reports are still swirling that Hernandez is unsettled and unsure of his future at West Ham and this is where the warning to “Handle With Care” comes from. He is world class, he is the definition of fox in the box, and he should lead the line alongside Arnautovic for West Ham this season. But let’s let him ease back into things, okay?

He has an extended holiday as I type this, after being eliminated in a fantastic World Cup run for Mexico that ended in heart break in the round of 16 against Brazil. Let him rest, recharge, and clear his mind, then introduce him to Pellegrini and his new teammates. The man seems to know how to organize a team and knows how to man manage well. He apparently was a massive reason why Jack Wilshere took a pay cut to join West Ham, and surely wants Chicharito to be a key member of his team.

Pellegrini stated that it will be a process of a few years to get West Ham to the levels he believes the team should be at. West Ham need to build on players like Chicharito now so they can be consistently successful for years to come.

Come to Switzerland, Chicharito. Meet the mastermind Pellegrini.

What Are West Ham Getting In Andriy Yarmolenko?

With keeper, defence, and midfielder added West Ham add another player with attacker Andriy Yarmolenko from Borussia Dortmund of the Bundesliga on a four year deal. The right winger from Ukraine is 28 years old and will likely slot in behind/beside Chicharito and Arnautovic to round out the attack. At a rumoured £22m fee the signing fits West Ham’s needs and doesn’t break the bank which is not hamstringing the team in further moves. So, what are West Ham getting in their new attacker?Yarmolenko provides a big body presence out wide that combines physicality and footwork into his teams attack. Built similarly to Marko Arnautovic, Yarmolenko has a 6’2″ frame but also solid pace that makes him difficult to knock off the ball when he breaks up the wing. His technical skills also allow him to get away from or passed defenders, backing them down with step overs or making a slick one touch pass to break passed his marker.When it comes to offence, Yarmolenko scored 10 goals and tallied 9 assists last season in 36 games (all competitions). His ability to pass the ball should have the West Ham strikers excited. This is because Yarmolenko has a good shot and can threaten the goal from outside the box. So, a curled cross or short driven pass can catch the keeper off guard when they expect him to take an outside the box shot. This versatility in attack should be enough to keep him on the score sheet at West Ham.How will West Ham line up with him in the first team? With rumours that the Hammers are still trying to sign £40m rated right winger Filipe Anderson West Ham could move Yarmolenko to the left wing or even the centre of the pitch as he has experience at both left wing and centre forward. Anderson offers more pace down the wing, but both are elite passers so having them wrapped around the outside of the pitch would ensure solid service into the box.Another move of intent as Manuel Pellegrini continues to bring in his European scouted players to his first team. West Ham will look a lot more threatening with Yarmolenko on the attack and he already knows how to score worldies against Spurs. Great signing and on to the next one!

He’s Coming Home – West Ham Sign Jack Wilshere

West Ham have signed English born, childhood West Ham supporter Jack Wilshere on a free transfer. Wilshere will be reportedly making £100,000 per week and will join on a three year deal, walking away from Arsenal.

For West Ham, Wilshere has taken a significant pay cut after rejecting a rumoured £130,000/week deal to stay at Arsenal, and a massive move to Turkish League giants Fenerbahce to come to his boyhood team. In the summer of the “Football is coming home” movement surrounding Englands terrific World Cup run, Jack Wilshere jumps aboard and comes home to his own club.

Lets get it out of the way early here – Wilshere has had some injury problems in the passed. Since 2015 Wilshere has missed 496 days to injury, including a substantial time for a fracture in his shin, and malleolar injuries in his ankle. What is positive – and knock on wood here – is that over the last two seasons Wilshere has played 30 games each, which is an accomplishment coming off of that long track record of injuries.

He has had a storied rise to prominence in English football as a highly rated Arsenal prospect. He developed through the Gunners’ youth teams and was sent on loan to Bolton for a half season as well. After substantial time at Arsenal from 2010-2016, and after struggling with injury Wilshere was off to Bournemouth on a season long loan for the 2016/17 season. Wilshere managed 29 games that season with two assists to his name but eventually his season was ended early with the calf fracture injury.

Upon returning to Arsenal for the 2017/18 season Wilshere was back in the main squad on the bench on September 25th following a conditioning stint with the U-23 Arsenal team. Wilshere’s time in the minors culminated with a 2-match red card ban after pushing a Manchester City player to the ground following a brutally late and dangerous tackle on him. Wilshere went on to exchange blows with another City player.

Wilshere wouldn’t see a start and full 90 minutes with the first team until December 13th, against West Ham. The teams drew 0-0 after a highly praised defensive masterclass from David Moyes’ West Ham side. Wilshere played in 40 games last season which is a massive boost to his injury laded form before 2017.

For West Ham Wilshere walks into the first team as a starter. At just 26 years old he is an English born player in the prime of his career that would have cost the team massively if they were buying the transfer. He is a true central midfielder who likes to jump in the attack, but can also perform as a holding midfielder providing Manuel Pellegrini a versatile option in the middle of the pitch. Possibly a replacement for Lanzini and eventual partner in the midfield, Wilshere is a massive signing for West Ham and is again helping the Hammers reform their squad for a highly anticipated 2018/19 season.

Welcome Home, Jack.


Winterthur 3 – 2 West Ham – 200takes

West Ham fall in their first preseason match of the season, but don’t cancel the season just yet! West Ham have but six days of training under new manager Pellegrini, and have a mix of old, new, and prospect players in their two teams for this match. While there were some glaring errors – Carroll missed pen, Ogbonna howlers on third goal – there were also some solid performances by youngsters.

Nathan Holland – 8/10 Holland looked lively on the ball and ready to bounce back after an injury filled 2017/18. He promises to be a good, creative player off the right wing and showed that today, linking up with Carroll and Fernandes in the box.

Edimilson Fernandes – 7/10 Looked good early and was a name you heard frequently. He showed his speed and ability to cut through the oppositions midfield with ease. Missing some composure and finishing.

Marcus Browne – 6.5/10 Browne looked like he wanted to be out on the pitch early but did lose interest. He had some solid link up plays with Noble and Fredericks on the right side of the pitch, and can turn on the burners in a flash.

Overall, not good enough defensively and easily broken down. On to the next one, Hammers!