England U-20s – champions of the world
What better way to start a round-up of the week than with England being crowned as champions of the world. Dominic Calvert-Lewin’s first-half goal was enough to see off Venezuela 1-0, becoming only the third Englishman to score in a World Cup final (joining Sir Geoff Hurst and Martin Peters). It’s an exciting time for English football, but any talk of a ‘golden generation’ should be scoffed at and coughed up. In our last supposed ‘golden generation’ in 2006, we had Paul Robinson as our goalkeeper, so let’s calm down that hype and not pile unnecessary pressure on these lads.
That said, Dominic Solanke was awarded the Golden Ball for player of the tournament. Previous winners include Luis Figo, Diego Maradona, Sergio Aguero, Paul Pogba and Lionel Messi. On 1 July, Solanke will join Liverpool on a free transfer having run down his contract with Chelsea, the timing of which is no doubt a kick in the conkers for Antonio Conte. Last week, an apparent text was ‘leaked’ in which he told Diego Costa that he is no longer part of his plans at Stamford Bridge. With Eden Hazard also strongly linked with Real Madrid, Conte had better make sure he pulls off the Romelu Lukaku deal.
Kane spares England’s blushes
While the weekend brought our young starlets coping with World Cup final pressure, our senior squad were busy showing us how they can make a right hash of a customary World Cup qualifier. England’s midfield duo of Eric Dier and Jake Livermore is the least dynamic partnership seen for some time.
A largely uneventful match sparked into life late on as Leigh Griffiths scored two free-kicks to make it 2-1 to Scotland and turn the match on its head. Kane, England’s captain, cushioned in a late volley from a sterling Sterling cross, sparking widespread joy/relief in the England camp.
The match saw several goalkeeping errors at both ends of the pitch from Joe Hart and Craig Gordon. Danny Murphy’s summary that Hart was not at fault for either goal seemed far too kind. Despite Southgate’s pale assertion that Hart is still England’s number one, this may be the final straw in his England career as first choice goalkeeper. On Saturday alone, the Three Lions had three goalkeeping substitutes waiting on the bench, and Jack Butland is now the favourite to start against France on Tuesday evening.
Dealings in the transfer market
There appears to be a chain effect about to happen in the Premier League transfer market. With widespread belief that it’s a case of ‘when’ rather than ‘if’ Romelu Lukaku leaves Everton, the Toffees appear to be spending their cash already. Deals for Jordan Pickford and Davy Klaassen are set to be confirmed for a combined total of £56m. Insert your own jokes about the world going mad here. Everton also hold strong interest in Malaga striker Sandro Ramirez, perhaps the man to fill Lukaku’s considerable boots.
Meanwhile, it’s been confirmed that Zlatan Ibrahimovic has been released from Manchester United. As the Swede is currently injured, as well as turning 36 in October, it perhaps comes as little surprise. Although the striker has been promised the use of United’s training facilities at Carrington in his battle back to fitness, so there may be a slight chance of a return to Old Trafford at some point next season.
In other transfer news, John Terry has been linked with a move to Championship club Aston Villa, although the jury’s out as to whether he will wait for a Premier League club to swoop. Talking of old dogs, Darren Fletcher completed his free transfer to Stoke City, a shrewd move from Mark Hughes in adding further experience to his already dynamic squad.
Over at the Etihad, Manchester City have continued their early voyage in the transfer market with the signing of goalkeeper, Ederson, from Benfica. Kylian Mbappe is another player on their radar, although he appears to be this summer’s target which all the top clubs in England are fighting over.
Plenty more international friendlies matches are set to take place this week, as well as the Confederations Cup, which starts on Saturday. There’s a lot more action yet to be seen this summer, and the Premier League season will be here before you know it. Keep plugging, it’ll be worth the wait.
Chris Henderson – follow me on Twitter here