Spurs can win first Premier League title if Mauricio Pochettino signs these players

Mauricio Pochettino has been impressive since taking over at Tottenham Hotspur but they are still the nearly men at the moment. They’re challenging for the Premier League title again this season but look more likely to finish in either second or third place with Chelsea ten points clear. Squad depth is a small issue that Spurs are still battling and if they were to sign these three players, they could put themselves in a really strong position to win a first Premier League title next season…

Alejandro Gomez

The Atalanta forward has made a real statement with his performances in Serie A this season. He is an extremely versatile player who is capable of causing trouble as a centre-attacking midfielder, a winger or even as a striker. The Argentinian wouldn’t cost Spurs the earth and a move would be favourable as it would allow him to play in the Champions League next season. He has netted 11 goals in 31 appearances and would be a hugely reliable back-up to take some of the pressure off Harry Kane.

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Ross Barkley

There isn’t a huge amount to say about this exciting young Englishman that hasn’t already been said. He is built for the fast-paced attacking style of football that Spurs play. While he might be a more expensive option than some other attacking midfielders he has plenty of Premier League experience already. At just 23 he could form a formidable partnership with Dele Alli for both club and country and the appeal of competing at the highest level makes a move possible. Whether or not Barkley would accept not starting every game is a different question but if he wants a move to a Champions League club he will have to embrace the competition for places and Spurs would be a great place for him to develop.

Christian Pulisic

The 18-year-old American is one of the hottest prospects in the Bundesliga. Despite being little-known to many across Europe he is showing signs of working his way to the very top. He has impressed for Borussia Dortmund this season and hasn’t looked out of place against anyone in the Bundesliga or Champions League. He would provide Spurs with even more unpredictability and would certainly be an ideal replacement for Erik Lamela, whose future looks uncertain as a result of injury struggles as well as time out due to personal reasons this season.

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Spurs are not far off landing some silverware soon, but they need to win something to silence some of their doubters, including fans of their own. Pochettino looks set to stay at the club and it’s an exciting time to be a Tottenham fan. They’re building for the long run and increasing their squad size would only give them a greater chance at success across all fronts in the 2017/18 campaign.

Will Spurs try to sign any of these players this summer? How far off winning the Premier League are they?


The Dugout: Can Ronald Koeman take Everton to the next level?

The 2016/17 Premier League season is less than a week away and a number of clubs will start the campaign with new managers. Fans will be expecting more from their team and here, ‘The Dugout‘ will explore if Ronald Koeman can take Everton to the next level…

Everton fans will be hoping the appointment of Ronald Koeman can signal the beginning of a new era for the club as their Premier League season begins at home against Tottenham this weekend. It has been a tough two years to take for the Toffees as they have finished 11th with 47 points in consecutive campaigns and have looked a shadow of the side that finished 5th just three years ago.

The time seemed right for Everton to part ways with Roberto Martinez and they have done very well to lure Ronald Koeman away from Southampton after a successful season. Koeman guided the Saints to a sixth-place finish and Everton fans will be hoping he can repeat that feat or even better it this season.

Koeman has a great platform to start with at Everton, with a squad who have been underachievers in the last two campaigns. It will be interesting to see how he can develop the players and push the side back up the table.

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So how can Koeman take Everton to the next level?


It is no surprise that a team performs much better when they are highly motivated and Koeman can do just that. The Everton players looked in disarray for large parts of last season despite some great results against the top clubs. Koeman has the experience of being part of a setup that thrives on motivation from both his playing and managerial days.

The Dutchman has been working on his squad in the summer transfer window, releasing a number of long-term servants to the club with the likes of Tony Hibbert, Leon Osman and Steven Pienaar all departing. He is clearly looking to freshen things up and bring forward a less predictable Everton for the coming season.

With Koeman’s ability to motivate players, Everton fans will be hoping top players will become more consistent. Kevin Mirallas, Ross Barkley and Gerard Deulofeu are three players who came under some criticism last campaign for inconsistent performances. There is no doubt they are all capable of putting in world-class shifts and with Koeman directing the style of play, these three could massively benefit from his guidance.

While these three were in no way to blame for Everton’s below-par season last term, they are the types of players who are expected to provide. If Koeman can motivate the strong attacking trio to feed the striker – whoever that may be as uncertainty still looms over Romelu Lukaku’s future – the club should look more deadly in front of goal in the upcoming season.

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Premier League record:

Koeman has had a brilliant start to managerial life in the Premier League. He guided Southampton to a 7th place finish in his first season as manager and finished 6th in the last campaign, proof Koeman has the ability to improve a side in the world’s most competitive league.

Squad consistency:

Through their Premier League history, Everton have been a side who have boasted long-term squad players, something Koeman will relish the opportunity to work with. At Southampton Koeman perhaps didn’t – or wouldn’t – have had the opportunity to keep the same group of players for season upon season.

Koeman is already under pressure regarding the future of both John Stones and Romelu Lukaku. So far Everton have shown their resolve to keep their best players – a similar scenario to their continued rebuff of Chelsea’s efforts to tempt Stones away from the club this time last year.

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With this in mind Koeman has a great platform to build a squad with a strong core knowing that the club will be backing his every decision regarding the future of his players.

Koeman has a lot of work to do to take Everton to the next level but in joining the club he has the chance to do so. The Toffees appear to have a policy of giving players and staff every opportunity to reach their highest potential before stepping in and taking any action and he will be hoping to hit the ground running against Tottenham on Saturday.

Is Koeman the right man to lead Everton forward? Can he take them to the next level?

Premier League Preview and Prediction: Aston Villa vs Everton

Competition: Premier League – Aston Villa vs. Everton

Venue: Villa Park – Tuesday, March 1 – 19:45 GMT (14:45 ET)

Match Odds: Aston Villa 19/5 – Draw 13/5 – Everton 3/4

Match Preview

Aston Villa welcome Everton to Villa Park on Tuesday night as they look to keep any faint hopes of Premier League survival alive in front of their own fans.

The Villains are still rock bottom of the table and are eight points from safety with 11 games to play. It looks as if relegation is a certainty but a miracle finish to the season could give them a chance at somehow beating the drop.

They will need to win the majority of their remaining games to stand a chance, however, and that looks to be an impossible task. Remi Garde’s men fell 2-1 at Stoke on Saturday and didn’t show the spirit of a team fighting for their lives.

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They lost 6-0 to Liverpool in their last home game and although the home supporters deserve so much better from their team, they are unlikely to be given much to cheer about on Tuesday evening.

Everton travel to Villa off the back of a ten-day rest following their FA Cup win at Bournemouth and should be fresh for this clash after spending time in Dubai. They lost 1-0 at home to West Brom in their last league game, despite dominating the match, and will be out to get three points here.

Roberto Martinez’s side have been inconsistent all season but they are unbeaten in seven away trips and destroyed Aston Villa 4-0 in the reverse fixture at Goodison Park back in November.

They look to be in good shape to end the season strongly and will hope that three points on Tuesday can propel them into the top half of the league table.

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Team News

Aston Villa boss Remi Garde will be glad to welcome back Jordan Ayew following his three-game suspension, while Jack Grealish and Carlos Sanchez are both nearing returns from injury and could be in contention to make the squad. Libor Kozak, Adama Traore and Jordan Amavi are all definitely out.

Everton have had ten days to prepare for this game and should arrive fresh. Tony Hibbert and Tyias Browning remain sidelined through injury, while Muhamed Besic is a doubt and is unlikely to be risked.

Key Points

Aston Villa’s last five: D/L/W/L/L

Everton’s last five: D/L/W/W/L

Key Stat: Everton have only lost one away game all season and are now unbeaten in seven matches on the road.

Key Player: Ross Barkley – The Everton playmaker has been in good form this season and scored twice against Villa in the reverse fixture. He has five goals in his last six in all competitions and will look to haunt a struggling Villa defence here.

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Score Prediction

Aston Villa 0-3 Everton – Everton cruised past Villa in the reverse fixture and should prove to far too good for their opponents once again here. If Villa show spirit they could cause the Toffees backline problems, but they have looked like a relegated team for a long time and will likely be confined to their 18th loss of the season on Tuesday night.

Premier League Preview and Prediction: Everton vs Sunderland

Competition: Premier League – Everton vs. Sunderland

Venue: Goodison Park – Sunday, November 1 – 13:30 GMT (08:30 ET)

Match Odds: Everton 4/9 – Draw 7/2 – Sunderland 6/1

Match Preview

Everton welcome Sunderland to Goodison Park on Sunday afternoon for an important Premier League clash.

The Toffees edged past Norwich on penalties in their midweek League Cup tie after a 1-1 draw, but they’re looking to rediscover some Premier League form having lost their previous two, albeit against Manchester United and Arsenal.

Roberto Martinez’s side are currently eleventh in the Premier League and need to improve on their poor home form so far this season, which has seen them win just one of their five games at Goodison (D2, L2).

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Six of Everton’s next nine Premier League fixtures, including this one, are against opposition in the bottom half of the table, so they’ll be looking to go on a run that can elevate them towards the top, starting with an important three points here.

Everton’s Premier League record: P10 – W3 – D4 – L3

Sunderland finally secured their first win of the Premier League season last weekend as they beat bitter rivals Newcastle 3-0 in the Wear-Tyne derby at the Stadium of Light.

New boss Sam Allardyce will be hoping that result will provide the boost of confidence that can turn their season around, but there is still a lot of work to be done, particularly addressing their dismal form on the road.

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The Black Cats are eighteenth in the table and have picked up just one point on their travels this season, giving them the joint worst record in the league away from home.

Sunderland’s Premier League record: P10 – W1 – D3 – L6

Sunderland’s recent experiences at Goodison Park are promising, having won on their last two visits without conceding a goal – a third consecutive win at Everton would be the first time they’ve done so in the top-flight since 1904.

The last meeting between these two sides was that 2-0 win for Sunderland at Goodison Park in May – a result which helped keep them in the division.

Team News

Everton will be without skipper Phil Jagielka who is out for as long as two months with a knee injury. Seamus Coleman is also a major doubt as he’s suffering with a stomach bug, which also kept him out of their midweek game. On a positive note, both Leighton Baines and Muhamed Besic returned to training this week after a lengthy spell on the sidelines.

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Sunderland have a number of doubts as John O’Shea, Younes Kaboul and Ola Toivonen all suffered injuries in the win over Newcastle last weekend. A late decision will be made on their fitness, while Fabio Borini is likely to miss out because of an ankle problem.

Key Points

Everton’s last five in the Premier League: D/W/D/L/L

Sunderland’s last five in the Premier League: L/L/D/L/W

Key Stat: Everton have only beaten Sunderland once in the last five meetings between the two sides (D1, L3).

Key Player: Ross Barkley – The young Englishman has contributed three goals and three assists from midfield already this season and the Toffees will be looking for him to really kick on and take the Premier League by storm in the next few months. He could be the game-changer on Sunday afternoon.

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Score Prediction

Everton 2-1 Sunderland  Everton showed signs of promise at Arsenal last weekend and it seems only a matter of time before consistent results start to come. Sunderland will be solid and compact under Sam Allardyce this season but they might not quite have enough to contain their hosts.

Premier League Preview and Prediction: West Brom vs Everton

Competition: Premier League – West Bromwich Albion vs. Everton

Venue: The Hawthorns – Monday, September 28 – 20:00 BST (15:00 ET)

Match Odds: West Brom 19/10 – Draw  23/10 – Everton 7/5

Match Preview

West Brom host Everton in this week’s Monday night game in the Premier League with both sides looking to continue fairly good runs of form.

West Brom are playing well and are now unbeaten in their last three in the Premier League, despite a slow start.

Their season looked doomed on deadline day as they looked set to lose young striker Saido Berahino to Tottenham but they managed to keep hold of him, and just as well as he scored the winner against rivals Aston Villa last time in that 1-0 away win.

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However, they will have to improve on a poor record against Everton to have any luck here, having not beaten them in the tip flight since 2012.

West Brom’s record in the Premier League: P6 – W2 – D2 – L2

Everton could be in trouble for this trip as they may be without defenders John Stones and Seamus Coleman, who are both integral to the Toffees defence.

They are yet to hit full flight this year but this Everton side don’t have to worry about the Europa League this season and should make forward movements in the league as a result.

Everton’s record in the Premier League: P6 – W2 – D3 – L1

Also unbeaten in three, it’s hard to see either side taking all three points this time out in what could be a cagey game.

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Team News

West Brom only have one first team player on the injury list and that is England goalkeeper Ben Foster, who is still out with a serious knee injury.

Everton are without Leighton Baines, Tony Hibbert, Steven Pienaar, Tom Cleverley, Bryan Oviedo and Muhamed Besic through injury. Seamus Coleman and John Stones are doubts but should be fit to start.

Key Points

West Brom’s last five: D/L/W/D/W

Everton’s last five: W/L/D/W/D

Key Stat: West Brom have kept a clean sheet in their last three matches in the Premier League.

Key Player: Ross Barkley – Barkley is quickly becoming one of the brightest talents in the Premier League. His ability to dominate and dictate Everton’s attacking play was demonstrated against Chelsea. He is vital to Everton.

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Score Prediction

West Brom 0-0 Everton – After the solid defensive displays by both sides recently, we struggle to see either of them breaking the deadlock. A cagey draw without a goal could be on the cards.

REACTION: Gareth Southgate selects his England U21 squad but is it good enough?

Gareth Southgate has announced his 27-man preliminary England squad for the UEFA Under 21 European Championships this summer and there were some high profile names omitted from the squad.

Raheem Sterling, Ross Barkley, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Jack Wilshere are all absent from the squad, despite being available for selection. It will be interesting to see how many of them play for the senior team next month when they face Republic of Ireland and Slovenia, as Southgate will not have them available at this summer’s tournament.

Of the selected 27 players, they accumulate just 268 Premier League appearances this season, and average just 10 league appearances each, with 11 members of the squad playing outside the Premier League this season.

Player Parent Club Premier League appearances 2014-15
Marcus Bettinelli Fulham 0
Jonothan Bond Watford 0
Jack Butland Stoke City 3
Calum Chambers Arsenal 23
Eric Dier Tottenham 27
Luke Garbutt Everton 4
Ben Gibson Middlesborough 0
Carl Jenkinson Arsenal 31
Michael Keane Burnley 20
Liam Moore Leicester City 11
John Stones Everton 22
Matt Targett Southampton 6
Tom Carroll Tottenham 13
Nathaniel Chalobah Chelsea 0
Will Hughes Derby County 0
Jake Forster-Caskey Brighton and Hove Albion 0
Jesse Lingard Manchester United 1
Ruben Loftus-Cheek Chelsea 3
Alex Pritchard Tottenham 0
Nathan Redmond Norwich City 0
James Ward-Prowse Southampton 24
Benik Afobe Wolves 0
Patrick Bamford Chelsea 0
Saido Berahino West Brom 37
Harry Kane Tottenham 33
Danny Ings Burnley 34
Cauley Woodrow Fulham 0

In all honesty it is a weaker squad than anticipated, especially when you consider the midfielders selected have only made 41 league appearances between the nine of them, averaging under 5 appearances each. A shocking statistic for a squad that are deemed as favourites as Gareth Southgate has suggested.

When speaking about his selections, Southgate had this to say: “The group dynamic is important and we’ve taken the learnings on board and this group of players have opportunity to set the standard.

“We want to go and play in a certain style this summer and, yes, we want to win but it can’t be the sole focus. Development is key.”

But once again, should England fail to win the championship, questions will be asked about how strong the squad that was taken and should senior players have been selected?

However, Southgate has said: “We feel we should reward this group for what they’ve achieved up until now.

“We’ve worked closely with Roy (Hodgson) about what’s right thing for each player and the experience.” So if the worst was to happen and England crash out of the tournament again, like they did in Israel two years ago, Hodgson will be as much to blame as anyone.

The big debate is that if players are fit and available to be selected for the Under 21s then they probably should be.

Do you think the current England Under 21 squad is strong enough to win the European Championships, or should a stronger team have been selected?

Chelsea’s £50m summer target thinks he is best suited as a striker

Everton midfielder Ross Barkley, who is being linked with a £50 million move to Chelsea, feels he can offer more by playing as a striker.

“I’m a striker,” the 21 year old told the Premier League’s official site. “I feel I can have my greatest impact there because I’m free to roam around the pitch, take players on, have shots and create chances.”

Barkley, who has caught the eye of the best clubs in the Premier League, has had a dip in form this season, but isn’t concerned.

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“From my point of view I haven’t done as well as I know I can, but things like this happen.

“You have to go through bad days to get to the great days you have in your career. Everything’s a learning curve.”

Barkley’s dip in form has coincided with Everton’s poor season but the England international insists the club will bounce back and he isn’t fazed by pressure.

“We haven’t been going through the best period at the moment but we’re going to come through this and be really good at the end of it. I don’t feel pressure. I believe in myself and I know what I can do.

“It’s not me feeling pressure, it’s just me putting pressure on myself if I don’t do my best, and I know I can do better.”

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Barkley has only scored twice in the Premier League, registering just 21 shots, whereas last campaign saw him net six times with 50 efforts on goal.

Whether or not Barkley is right about his playing position is for current boss Roberto Martinez to decide, but with reports linking him with the likes of Chelsea this summer, he will want to put in his best performances until the end of the season to remind everyone what he is capable of.

Barkley is in line for an appearance in England’s friendly against Italy tonight and will be keen to impress, but it is doubtful that manager Roy Hodgson will elect to play him as a striker.

Is Ross Barkley best suited to playing upfront? Or is he best as a midfielder?

Chelsea plotting HUGE £165m summer spree for star trio

Chelsea are being linked with three huge moves for Real Madrid duo Raphael Varane and Gareth Bale, as well as Everton’s Ross Barkley as Jose Mourinho looks to further strengthen the Premier League leaders’ squad.

Gareth Bale hasn’t even completed two seasons with Real Madrid but is being linked with a return to the Premier League after coming under fire from Los Blancos supporters. Manchester United and Manchester City have already been rumoured as possible destinations but now Chelsea look like they are planning a mega move.

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A report in the Daily Mail claims that the Blues are prepared to pay Madrid the £75 million buy-out clause required to bring the Welsh star back to England, though the former Spurs hero wants to stay in Spain for one more season.

Madrid would be willing to let Bale leave if the buy-out clause is met as they could then keep Cristiano Ronaldo, and would be able to go on another summer spending spree themselves.

Bale’s Madrid teammate Raphael Varane is also a target for Mourinho and Chelsea are willing to splash £40 million on the young French defender, according to the Sun.

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Mourinho worked with Varane while in Spain and described the 21-year-old centre-back as the best young defender in Europe, and now wants to link up with the Frenchman once again by offering Madrid an offer they would find hard to turn down.

Chelsea are also being linked with Everton and England international Ross Barkley but will face competition from Manchester City for his signature.

Everton are desperate to keep hold of the attacking midfield ace and will demand £50 million if they are to let the 21 year old leave.

Barkley was excellent last season as he burst on to the scene, scoring six goals in 34 appearances for the Toffees, but has come under criticism this year after only netting twice.

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For Chelsea to spend the sort of money being reported, they would need to sell once again but the club have proved to be excellent in the past few transfer windows.

Big names have left for big money in recent seasons and Chelsea have managed to make profit of around £16 million in the past two windows despite spending over over £100 million on new talent such as Cesc Fabregas and Diego Costa.

Oscar is one name who could be forced out the door and Juventus are believed to be keeping a close eye on the Brazilian playmaker, according to reports out of Italy.

What do you make of the reports? Do Chelsea need to spend £165 million on three players this summer?

Will we see the ‘Best England’ at the Under-21 European Championships?

The England Under-21s will be heading to the European Championships in the Czech Republic this summer but how strong will their squad be? Jamie Ives weighs up what sort of team we should see in June.

If Roy Hodgson is to be believed, it will be as strong as head coach, Gareth Southgate wants it to be. And with FA Chairman Greg Dyke’s ‘England DNA project’ well under way, there is added pressure to perform this summer.

The England Manager said in November that: “My policy is this: After Gareth Southgate has picked his squad, I will pick my squad”. This is a clear indication that should he wish, Southgate will be able to take senior players such as Jack Wilshere and Raheem Sterling to the Euros as they are eligible to play for the Under-21 squad.

Any player born on or after 1 January 1992 can play for the Under-21s in Czech Republic so players up to the age of 23 could feature for Southgate’s side.

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When speaking to the Mirror in December, Southgate went on record stating that: “If players haven’t been with us for the qualification campaign and are only being parachuted in five days before, well what about the work we have been doing?” And he has a point.

The current Under-21 teams consists of many players that will fall short of the ‘ideal team’ if everyone that is eligible travels to the competition. Though surely they have earned their place in the team by getting the team through qualifying without losing a match (W9 D1 L0)?

There will be a strong cases made that England should take the likes of Jack Wilshere, Raheem Sterling and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain to the championships if they are to have the best chance of winning. But in recent years, the players with senior caps tend to stay in the senior camp.

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Other European nations take their best players to any youth competition as it gives younger players the opportunity to experience the tough demands of tournament football before playing in a World Cup or European Championship.

Though that has not been a system used in England, so who will be on the plane to the Czech Republic in June?

For England to be successful at senior level it is pivotal that the younger players are allowed to develop, not only to gain experience at international level, but also to pick up that vital experience of playing in a major tournament. Especially if they have a squad with a much talent to choose from as the current crop.

In order for England to develop as a football nation, Southgate has to take the best available squad and he must be given time to work with them. A strong Under-21 side with a common agenda and understanding of what needs to be done will be overwhelming favorites to win this summer.

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Winning the Under-21 European Championship for the first time in 31 years would be a huge boost for the nation and could propel the senior team to further success in years to come. Much like the Germany Under-21s did in 2009 as their senior team then won the 2014 FIFA World Cup five years later.

This is arguably the best possible England Under-21 starting XI that Gareth Southgate could choose:

Goalkeeper: Jack Butland (Stoke City)

Defenders: Calum Chambers (Arsenal), John Stones (Everton), Phil Jones (Manchester United), Luke Shaw (Manchester United).

Midfielders: Jack Wilshere (Arsenal), Tom Carroll (Tottenham – on loan at Swansea City), Raheem Sterling (Liverpool), Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (Arsenal), Ross Barkley (Everton).

Striker: Harry Kane (Tottenham).

Is this England's best possible starting XI for the Under-21 European Championship? (Via Lineupbuilder.com)

Is this England’s best possible starting XI for the Under-21 European Championship? (Via Lineupbuilder.com) 

Who do you think deserves to start for the England Under-21s at this summer’s tournament?

Manchester United preparing €75 million double swoop for Everton duo – report

Manchester United are reportedly set to splash the cash once again when the January transfer window opens, with Everton duo Ross Barkley and Seamus Coleman both targets.

Louis Van Gaal has seen major changes take place since he took over at Old Trafford, and despite a stuttering start, United find themselves in the top four after seven games.

The club has a frightening attacking force with so many options in the final third, but they must improve defensively if they are to challenge at the very top of the Premier League.

Though that would not appear to be the priority, if a report from Spanish outlet fichajes.net is to be belived, as they are reporting that United are set to offer Everton a staggering €75 million for two of their stars.

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Seamus Coleman has improved every year, and the right-back is a constant threat down the right side, though he would not do much to reassure a United defence that has leaked 10 goals already.

Barkley is a seriously talented midfielder, but United are already stacked for options in that position and it would be unwise to further disrupt the attacking talents already at the club.

Everton will have no intentions to sell any of their stars, and having already held on to Leighton Baines despite interest from the Red Devil’s, the Toffees will be confident that they can hang on to Coleman and Barkley too.

Do United need to try and sign Barkley and Coleman, or should they focus on central defenders?