How Chelsea could line up with Josko Gvardiol
With the World Cup over, it’s nice to get back to our regularly scheduled programming as Chelsea are linked with every single high-value player under the sun.
The Blues’ transfer policy since the arrival of new owner Todd Boehly has felt a tad scattergun at times, particularly in their approach to first-team signings. But the headlines here are largely positive; if nothing else, Boehly seems to place value in data-driven transfer activity and investing in youth, both of which bode extremely well for the club’s long-term success.
Chelsea have already brought in Wesley Fofana, Gabriel Slonina and Carney Chukwuemeka among others since Boehly’s arrival, with a host of other young stars soon to follow. While many of these players won’t peak for years to come, the club are assembling a roster of talent that could be the envy of every club in the world before long.
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The next wonderkid being linked with a move to Stamford Bridge is RB Leipzig’s Josko Gvardiol. The centre-back is only 20 years old, but has been one of the Bundesliga’s most talked-about talents for two years and was outstanding in Croatia’s run to the World Cup semi-finals.
Gvardiol would be both a short and long-term signing, one who could play another 15 years at the top level but would also be ready to slot into the team immediately. But how would Chelsea line up with Gvardiol in their side? Let’s look at some options.
In a back four
Chelsea manager Graham Potter is renowned for his tactical flexibility, with his teams frequently changing shape from game to game and even during matches. With that in mind, we thought we’d look at how Gvardiol could fit into a number of possible formations.
In a back four, Gvardiol would typically play as the left-sided centre-back, with either Wesley Fofana or Cesar Azpilicueta to his right. This would allow Ben Chilwell or Marc Cucurella to play in a more familiar left-back role. Gvardiol’s pace, composure and skill on the ball would give whoever played at left-back the freedom to get up the pitch, knowing they have the support of a centre-back who can hold a high line and keep things tight at the back.
Possible lineup: GK: Mendy; RB: James, CB: Fofana, CB: Gvardiol, LB: Chilwell; CM: Jorginho, CM: Kovacic; RW: Sterling, CAM: Mount, LW: Pulisic; ST: Havertz.
In a back three
Potter is no stranger to a back three, and neither is Gvardiol. The Croatian is capable of playing at centre-back and left-back, making him perfect as the left-sided centre-back in a three. In this role, he is able to combine his defensive acumen with marauding runs up the pitch, helping his side progress the ball while still being able to quickly get back and do the dirty work.
With both Chilwell and Cucurella being fairly attack-minded full-backs, a three-at-the-back system with Gvardiol in the three could be perfect for Chelsea.
Possible lineup: GK: Mendy; CB: Azpilicueta, CB: Fofana, CB: Gvardiol; RWB: James, CM: Jorginho, CM: Kovacic, LWB: Chilwell; RW: Sterling, LW: Mount; ST: Havertz.
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Tottenham director Fabio Paratici banned from football worldwide by FIFA
Tottenham managing director of football Fabio Paratici has been banned from football worldwide after FIFA extended the punishment imposed in Italy following his involvement in Juventus’ penalised accounting practices.
In January, the Italian giants suffered a shock 15-point deduction after the club was deemed to have inflated player transfer values in swap deals among other financial offences.
Paratici joined the Juventus hierarchy in 2010 and was the club’s sporting director between November 2018 and the summer of 2021, before he took up a similar role at Tottenham. The investigation into Juve’s accounts scrutinised transactions between 2019 and 2021 – when Paratici was at the heart of the club’s dealings.
At the start of the year, Paratici was one of several former Juventus board members that were banned from football following the conclusion of the investigation by the Italian Football Federation. Initially, Paratici was handed a 30-month ban from just Italian football, although the threat of extending the scope of that punishment internationally always loomed.
On Wednesday, FIFA released a statement confirming that they had indeed taken up that option, extending the ban handed out to Paratici and the other Juventus board members – including former owner Andrea Agnelli – worldwide.
The statement read: “FIFA can confirm that following a request by the Italian FA (FIGC), the chairperson of FIFA disciplinary committee has decided to extend the sanctions imposed by FIGC on several football officials to have worldwide effect.”
Paratici was due to be in court this week for a a preliminary committal hearing regarding a portion of the charges levelled at Juve, but the date for those proceedings have been shunted back to 10 May. Juve appealed their 15-point penalty – which the prosecution only recommended as a nine-point punishment – and will hear the ruling of which on 19 April.
On this edition of Talking Transfers, part of the 90min podcast network, Scott Saunders, Graeme Bailey & Toby Cudworth discuss Julian Nagelsmann’s future and links to the vacant Tottenham head coach role, Barcelona’s ambition to bring Lionel Messi ‘home’, Brighton teenager Evan Ferguson, Florian Wirtz, Kalvin Phillips and more!
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Sir Alex Ferguson & Arsene Wenger inducted into Premier League Hall of Fame
Sir Alex Ferguson and Arsene Wenger have become the first managers to be inducted into the Premier League Hall of Fame.
The duo won 16 Premier League titles between them across respective long-term spells with Manchester United and Arsenal.
With 13 of those championships, Ferguson is the most decorated manager in the history of the competition. He is the only coach to have won the Premier League three times in a row, doing so on two different occasions.
Ferguson said: “I’m truly delighted to be inducted into the Premier League Hall of Fame. It’s an honour when you receive recognition like this. However, it’s not just about me as a person. It’s about the job at Manchester United and the bond we had over many years, so I’m also proud for the club, the staff and my players.
“My job was to send the fans home happy. United’s history and my own expectations were the things that drove me, and I then had to try and develop all my players with the same expectations and make sure we could go out and achieve them.
“I feel Arsene is a very worthy inductee as he transformed Arsenal Football Club fantastically. They became a tough team to compete with and we both wanted to win, which motivated us further. Through the years since retirement, we’d go for dinner together in a little restaurant he knows well in Switzerland. He is a really interesting man and I enjoy his company, but it is still my job to pick the wine!”
Wenger arrived in England in 1996 as one of the Premier League’s first foreign coaches, and quickly proved sceptics wrong, transforming Arsenal into title winners and changing English football’s culture with his scouting and dietary expertise.
The Frenchman won three Premier League titles with Arsenal, including an unbeaten ‘Invincibles’ season in 2003/04.
Wenger said: “I am very grateful to have been selected for the Premier League Hall of Fame. We always wanted to give something special to the fans and when you have players capable of remarkable things, the most important thing for me is the obligation of perfection.
“I’d like to be known as someone who loved Arsenal, who respected the values of the club and left it in a position where it can grow and become even bigger.
“To share this with Sir Alex is a great honour for me. It’s like two boxers, you fight like mad and go the distance together. At the end of the day, you have respect and it will be a great opportunity to meet with him, share a good bottle of wine and memories of our old battles.”
In addition to Ferguson and Wenger, there are 16 other inductees in the Premier League Hall of Fame.
Alan Shearer and Thierry Henry were the first two people inducted when the Hall of Fame was created in 2021. They were followed later that year by Eric Cantona, Roy Keane, Frank Lampard, Dennis Bergkamp, Steven Gerrard and David Beckham.
In 2022, Wayne Rooney, Patrick Vieira, Sergio Aguero, Didier Drogba, Vincent Kompany, Peter Schmeichel, Paul Scholes and Ian Wright were inducted.
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