RODGERS HAS LIVERPOOL BUZZING WITH RIGHT DEALS
Brendan Rodgers really does get it. His deal for Rickie Lambert before the World Cup had everyone inside the club hopping. Bringing back the local lad, 17 years after he was released, has to be one of the most imaginative and significant signings seen in the Premier League for some years. If the England man can get amongst the goals, a nice even dozen would be enough, then it'll be the best 4 million quid Rodgers has spent. Many pundits are claiming last season will be a one-off - especially without Luis Suarez. But Rodgers is building a culture at Anfield. His Lambert deal - and the arrival of Adam Lallana also from Southampton - strengthens an already impressive English core. And Lambert's impact will be felt throughout the club. His enthusiasm will be infectious and you won't get a better role-model for Liverpool's Academy talent than his story of working his way back to the top. Invaluable for the likes of the two Jordans - Rossiter and Ibe. So while that lot down the road appear to be going Dutch, Rodgers has gone in the opposite direction - and the connection between the team and the Kop will only be stronger for it.
WAS CITY MOVE WORTH IT FOR HENSHALL?
So were those four years at Manchester City for Alex Henshall really worth it? Now 20, the winger has signed for Ipswich Town after his City release. However, at 16, he was on the first team bench at Swindon Town and rated among England's brightest teenage talents. He must wonder where he'd be now if he had stuck with the Robins a little while longer. Around the same time, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain had made his debut for League One Southampton - also at 16 years of age. And like Henshall, he was a target for every major club in the country. However, with a full season under his belt, he waited another 18 months before moving to Arsenal. It's not over for Henshall - and you can say the same for George Swan, who is back where he started four years ago at Leeds United. But it's a struggle to find a realistic development path for local talent at City.
If a week's a long time in football, then a month must seem like a lifetime for Eden Hazard. Before the World Cup, the Chelsea man was the talk of the game. PSG, Real Madrid, Barcelona were all being mentioned as new destinations and pressure was on Blues boss Jose Mourinho to publicly insist the Belgian would be staying. Fast-forward to today and the Blues No7 is a World Cup after-thought. The game's future is now all about Neymar, Rodriguez, Muller and Alexis. You wonder what's worse for Hazard - his flat World Cup or the lack of debate over his poor form. He's really fallen off the radar this summer.
BRUCE BUILDING SOMETHING SPECIAL AT KC
Wow! Steve Bruce is putting together some midfield for Hull City: Robert Snodgrass, Tom Huddlestone, Jake Livermore and now Thomas Ince. Have the Tigers ever seen a better engineroom? It's a great move for Snodgrass. At Norwich City he played alongside some good footballers, but it'll be exciting to see him in a team a level higher in quality and having Nikica Jelavic and Shane Long on the end of the chances he creates. Bruce has done well to land the Scot and win the race for free agent Ince. There's sure to be even more excitement for Hull fans after last season's run to the FA Cup final.
ANEKE DESERVES PRAISE FOR FOREIGN GAMBLE
Chuks Aneke's ambition should be recognised by the English press. Zulte Waregem is a great move for the former Arsenal man, who chose the Belgians over Leeds United. Aneke played with Ross Barkley in England's triumphant U17 Euros team and after scratchy start, found his best form last season on-loan at Crewe Alexandra. Zulte Waregem are obviously a couple of rungs higher and a lot will be demanded of Aneke, with Champions League football on the horizon. He could've taken the easy option, accepting the security of a bumper Championship contract. But the free-scoring midfielder has decided to back himself and launch his senior career abroad. For all wailing from pundits about English players being unwilling to test themselves beyond the Premier League, Aneke, like Eric Dier at Sporting Lisbon, deserves recognition and regular coverage this season for his show of ambition.
MOURINHO SHOULD MAKE EAST STIRLING FRIENDLY HAPPEN
Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho really should make that East Stirling friendly happen. The Scottish League Two club are asking Chelsea to honour their part of Eddie McCreadie's move in 1962. Ex-Scotland international McCreadie went south for a fee of £5,000 plus home and away games between the clubs. Tommy Docherty took Chelsea to Firs Park the following year - but the return fixture never happened. Now, East Stirling are calling in the favour. And why not? Of course, the Scottish connection exists with Mourinho, who did his coaching badges at Largs and has sent the likes of Andre Villas-Boas north to do the same. He really should organise the game. Doing it before the season kicks off would be a great money spinner for the tiny Scottish club and a PR bonus for the Blues.
IS HERRERA FEE MONEY WELL SPENT?
Beyond the relief of getting a midfield signing through the Old Trafford doors, Manchester United fans must be querying if Ander Herrera - at £28 million - is the right choice. Real Madrid are hoping to sign Toni Kroos for less than £20 million. David Moyes was in the press last week stating he had a deal all but done for the German before his dismissal. No matter how United fans felt about the Scot, he certainly spent a lot of time abroad doing the groundwork - which has since been ripped up - for this summer's market campaign, including courting Kroos and his agents at SportsTotal. Now, Louis van Gaal has gone for Herrera, who only had United as serious suitors. He spent part of the season on the bench and was left at home by Vicente del Bosque for Spain's World Cup campaign. His peers, Thiago Alcantara, Koke and Asier Illarramendi are all rated ahead of him within Spanish football, as is Rafinha, who has returned to Barcelona after a stellar season on-loan at Celta Vigo. Is this money well spent by Van Gaal?
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