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Fight for survival in EPL

The title race has been decided and the top four confirmed. This weekend focuses on the three clubs fighting to stay in the top flight.…

The title race has been decided and the top four confirmed. This weekend focuses on the three clubs fighting to stay in the top flight. Only one of these clubs: Leicester, Leeds or Everton will survive so I have visited each club this week to find out their master plans for staying in the Premier League next season. Dean Smith was very upbeat and claimed that Leicester will go out with ‘all guns blazing’. Leicester have to win at home against West Ham and hope that Everton drop points against Bournemouth. “I always said it may come down to goal difference. Let’s hope it does as that will mean they haven’t won their game and if they draw that’s not enough for them.” Smith left James Maddison and Harvey Barnes out of the game against Newcastle so he could concentrate on defence. They earned a point but this weekend Smith intends to put all his big guns into attacking West Ham and they have home advantage. Everton need to win if Leicester also win or they will be overtaken. At present Everton, who have been in the top flight since 1954, have a two point advantage but Leicester have a better goal difference. Hamstring injuries have been Sean Dyche’s worry this week but both Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Nathan Patterson should be available but they both missed training on Monday and Tuesday and spent time in the medical room and being worked on physically by club specialists. Dyche said that his main headache is the defence where Seamus Coleman is out for the season and Vitali Mykolenko has missed the last two games. Influential Ben Godfrey has been out for the past month. Dwight McNiel has now moved to left-back and centre-half Michael Keane played both in the back line and in attack against Wolves. Dyche told us, “It’s about mentality and commitment now.”

*The Toffees extended Abdoulaye Doucoure’s contract by a further year on Wednesday.

It is looking very gloomy for Leeds. They need to win and both Everton and Leicester to lose if they are to stay up. Fireman Sam Allardyce has found only four games to turn around a losing streak too much of a challenge and he says that he should have been hired three months ago. At home against Tottenham on Sunday Allardyce hopes to put out a full strength squad with Ings leading the attack but Patrick Bamford and Rodrigo are fighting to be fit. Luke Ayling has been given the job of shackling Harry Kane. Allardyce admitted, “The challenge is to try to beat Tottenham and deliver a performance,” he said. “We’ll give ourselves a chance if we win and then see what happens, our only hope is to win that game.” If he pulls off a survival on Sunday it will be truly remarkable.

Liverpool’s plan to strengthen for next season

As Liverpool waved to the home crowd at the end of largely disappointing season by their high standards, several players were saying goodbye to the Kop for the final time. Roberto Firmino and James Milner have been called upon throughout Jurgen Klopp’s career more than any other players and this season have largely come off the bench. Naby Keita and Alex Oxlade Chamberlain have also confirmed they are leaving. With a Champions League spot now out of reach Klopp will strengthen his squad to tackle the Europa League next season and to battle Pep Guardiola’s supremacy. Thiago Alcantara, Fabio Carvalho, Joel Matip, Nat Phillips and Caoimhin Kelleher have also been linked with leaving the club. Anfield Road is being redeveloped and I can reveal that a pre-season home friendly is not likely to be arranged. The club are also asking for time to complete their stadium re-build and have put in a request to the FA that their first game is away from home.I have learned that the club are looking to sign possibly three midfielders for the new season and Klopp has hinted that a new defending back could also be brought in. Trent Alexander-Arnold is continuing his transition from full back to midfielder which opens up a space at the back. One certainty we do know is that Jude Bellingham will not be coming to Anfield after Liverpool pulled out of the race to sign him. Liverpool owners FSG could agree for Klopp to bring in Chelsea’s Mason Mount and Brighton’s Alexis Mac Allister but this would cost them around £120 million.

Neymar to join Casmiro?

In a sensational piece of news coming out of Old Trafford this week, Casmiro is apparently trying to persuade Paris Saint-Germain’s Brazilian forward Neymar to join him for next season in Manchester. The two are friends and play for Brazil and although Neymar is contracted to PSG until 2027 the club will not stand in his way if he wants to leave. Kylian Mbappe is very much the focal point for PSG now and everything revolves around him. There is definitely a battle of the egos. With United needing only one point to qualify for Champions League football next season it is bound to influence the Brazilian. United would prefer a loan deal but PSG want to recoup some of the £178 million they paid to bring Neymar from Spain. I have researched some fan reaction and it is not positive at all with many fearing Neymar would unsettle the dressing room in much the same way Cristiano Ronaldo did before being sacked.

Update on De Gea

Manchester United coach Erik Ten Hag has insisted he wants to keep David De Gea between the posts at Old Trafford despite the Spaniard’s wages being dropped from £375k a week to £200k but let’s face it, that is still £10million a year! So far the two sides have not reached agreement despite De Gea’s contract expiring next month. In order to try and convince him to sign a new deal the club is willing to offer a testimonial season which could earn a few more millions without costing them on a weekly basis.

Inside news from Chelsea and Pochettino

Following behind doors close talks with Chelsea owner Todd Boehly, soon to be appointed Mauricio Pochettino will start immediate planning once he gets behind his desk at the Cobham training ground. As I write this column Mauricio is flying into the UK to attend to the final details on a three-year contract. Chelsea need to sell players before June 30th and he will hold talks with several of them before they head off for their summer holidays after the final game of the season against Newcastle on Sunday. Pre-season training starts in the first week of July and Frank Lampard is making himself available to advise the new coach. Mauricio’s first priority is to try and keep Mason Mount who he considers a centre piece of his plans for the future. Mount’s contract is due for renewal but there has been no progress in talks with Boehly. The 24-year-old wants his pay increased alongside senior members of the squad and he knows that Liverpool are watching the situation and will meet his demands. N’Golo Kante is another who is stalling on a new contract. Due to leave in order to bring in fresh talent are Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Mateo Kovacic, Christian Pulisic, Hakim Zyech, Edouard Mendy , Callum Hudson-Odoi and Ruben Loftus-Cheek. Younger players possibly being released include the highly talented midfielder Faustino Anjorin who has been on loan at Huddersfield this season. Inter Milan’s Champions League final will delay Romelu Lukaku’s talk with Pochettino but I know he is highly rated by the Argentine. His first training session will see the players divided into groups of three and he has an exhausting fitness planned to get them into strong physical shape for the August kick-off. The former Tottenham manager likes to keep a collection of lemons in his office because he believes they absorb negative energy. Chelsea certainly need to lose a lot of their negative energy so let’s hope the lemon trick works.

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