Latest Transfer Odds: Schmeichel expected to stay at Leicester City despite Roma and Chelsea links

There could be several high-profile goalkeepers changing clubs in the summer transfer window.

Alisson looks set to join Liverpool for a fee of £65 million. That would be a new world record for a goalkeeper, but Thibaut Courtois’ future also appears undecided and the bookmakers believe Kasper Schmeichel could be on the radar for both Roma and Chelsea as a result.

The 31-year-old has been at the King Power Stadium since 2011 and was an integral part of Leicester’s Premier League winning side from 2015-16.

Kasper Schmeichel Denmark 2018

With the Foxes unlikely to challenge for such honours again in the near future though, the lure of a bigger name at this stage in his career would surely have to be considered.

A £12 million move for Liverpool’s Danny Ward is also likely to add to the speculation that the Dane could be subject to further attention from elsewhere.

However, with Ben Hamer departing the club and Eldin Jakupovic failing to make an impact since his arrival from Hull, there was always going to be a search for a back-up goalkeeper in the East Midlands this summer.

Club after Summer Transfer Window (1st Sept 18) Price
Leicester City 4/6 (1.67)
Roma 2/1 (3.0)
Chelsea 7/2 (4.50)
Manchester United 25/1 (26.0)
Juventus 25/1 (26.0)

Despite the big names potentially in the market for a new shot stopper, William Hill currently make Schmeichel 4/6 (1.67) to be at Leicester after the transfer window shuts on September 1.

Roma are 2/1 (3.0) to land the Denmark international by the same stage while Chelsea are available at 7/2 (4.50). It’s understandable to see the Serie A side as a more likely destination at this stage, given that Alisson’s move to Liverpool looks all-but signed.

Elsewhere, Courtois’ future is still undecided, however the Belgium international only has a year left on his contract at Stamford Bridge and is just 1/6 (1.18) to be a Madrid player by the time the window shuts.

Thibaut Courtois

Time is of the essence for the Blues of course, with the English deadline of August 9 fast approaching – just one day before the Foxes kick off the Premier League season with a trip to Manchester United. Roma though, can continue their transfer business for another three weeks, even if the player arriving is currently based in England.

Juventus, Liverpool and Manchester United are all available at 25/1 (26.0), but moves to any of those three clubs would seem even more unlikely than the current prices suggest.

Leicester City’s owners handed Schemeichel a bumper new contract after the shock title win which runs until 2021, so the Dane is unlikely to be a low-cost option for any suitor.

While the lure of European football is obvious, the East Midlands club are unlikely to let one of their stars depart without a fight and significant compensation in return and the bookmakers don’t expect him to be an easy acquisition for any side at the time of writing.

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‘Guardiola will make £60m Mahrez even better’ – Man City’s record signing excites Bellamy

Riyad Mahrez has been backed by Craig Bellamy to see his game taken to even greater heights under the guidance of Pep Guardiola at Manchester City.

The Algeria international, who had been pushing for a move away from Leicester for some time, has completed a record-breaking £60 million ($78m) switch to the Etihad Stadium.

He is now the costliest player in City’s history, with the Premier League champions prepared to invest considerable faith in the 27-year-old’s talents.

Mahrez is a title winner in England and former PFA Player of the Year, with his creativity earning plenty of plaudits, and Bellamy believes a big-money transfer will prove beneficial to all concerned.

The former City striker told the Daily Star:  “He’s been a top player, he’s done a great job at Leicester.

“It’s a great time for him to move on. He’s just another option.

“I know it’s difficult obviously because of the money that they’ve spent but it was going to take that type of money to get him out of there.

“These players, attacking-wise, are costing that kind of money now. He just adds another dimension to what is already a fierce attack.

“But I’m just interested because I believe Guardiola is the best coach in the world at this present moment.

Pep Guardiola Man City 2017-18

“I think he’s been the best coach in the world over the last six, seven, eight years.

“I’m interested to see how he improves Mahrez. The best thing with Guardiola, he improves players, he makes them better.

“Can he get Mahrez another level again? And if he can, that’s exciting for Man City.”

Mahrez netted 48 times in 179 appearances for Leicester, with his most productive campaign proving to be a Premier League title-winning one in 2015-16 – when he scored 18 times.

He found the target on 13 occasions across all competitions last season, while providing 10 assists in his top-flight outings.

That skill set will now be put to good use by City alongside the likes of Kevin De Bruyne, David Silva, Bernardo Silva, Raheem Sterling and Leroy Sane.

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Betting Basics: What is ante post betting and what football markets are available?

Plenty of punters will spend the weeks and months before a new tournament or campaign preparing for what’s to come.

This research time often culminates in bettors placing ante post bets in long term markets with a view to finding winners over the coming weeks or months.

What is ante post betting?

Ante post betting is simply a way to describe wagers that are placed a day or more before the action gets underway.

Dozens of sporting events are offered in this manner ranging from football competitions to high profile horse races, golf tournaments and much more.

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In some circles these bets could be called “Futures” because, as the name suggests, they are picks that often relate to an outcome that could still be weeks, months or even years away from coming to fruition.

As opposed to match-by-match betting, this is an opportunity for bettors to gauge their long-term opinion about a certain event against that of the odds compilers, sometimes with each-way terms available.

While not every ante post market offers big prices, the fact that many of these markets contain dozens of potential winners such as the winner of a 20-team league, 32-team tournament or hundreds of Golden Boot candidates means that the potential pay-off for identifying an undervalued bet can be attractive.

Leicester_City_Champions_Ceremony

That was certainly the case for those who backed Leicester City to win the Premier League at odds of up to 5000/1 in 2015-16. While the Foxes’ shock win is an exception rather than a rule, some markets regularly throw up big priced winners.

What markets are available?

Modern bookmakers now offer a vast array of betting markets before the start of most events, especially in football.

Before the start of a new domestic season it’s not unusual to see over 100 ante post markets available covering a range of outcomes, some focused on one or two teams such as a head-to-head match up, while others relate to the entire field.

Mohamed Salah Liverpool golden boot Premier League

Some of these – such as who will win the Premier League – will often be on offer before the previous campaign has even finished because the firms in question already have a view on who the contenders for the following season will be.

Aside from who will end up being crowned champions, popular markets from the top flight of English football include; top goalscorer, which teams will be relegated and who will finish in the top four.

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Leicester open talks with Liverpool over £12m Ward transfer

Liverpool are in talks with Leicester over the £12million ($13.5m) transfer of goalkeeper Danny Ward.

The Welshman is expected to miss the Reds’ friendly with Blackburn Rovers on Thursday night as he closes in on a move away from Anfield.

Liverpool are themselves set to finalise the £67m ($87m) signing of Alisson Becker, with the Roma ‘keeper undergoing a medical on Merseyside ahead of a world-record switch.

Ward had been set to get a chance to impress Jurgen Klopp this summer after a season spent as third-choice behind Loris Karius and Simon Mignolet. Anfield sources had even indicated, as recently as last week, that the 25-year-old could start the campaign as No.1.

However, the Reds have made significant moves since then, landing their top transfer target in Alisson. With Karius and Mignolet still on the books, Klopp is willing to allow Ward to leave and get the first-team football he believes he deserves.

Ward has made three senior appearances for Liverpool, but enjoyed successful loan spells with Aberdeen and Huddersfield Town. Both Burnley and Bournemouth had made enquiries about the former Wrexham man this summer, but it appears Leicester have won the race.

The Foxes themselves could soon be losing their No.1 goalkeeper, with Kasper Schmeichel attracting interest from both Chelsea, who look likely to sell Thibaut Courtois to Real Madrid, and Roma, who are in the market for a ‘keeper following Alisson’s exit.

Liverpool expect teenage star Ben Woodburn to travel with them for their three-game tour of the USA this weekend, despite loan interest from Sheffield United and Norwich. The Reds have also received numerous enquiries from Championship clubs over Ryan Kent, Sheyi Ojo and Pedro Chirivella, all of whom have featured so far during pre-season.

Gini Wijnaldum and Danny Ings will miss the game at Blackburn due to minor injuries.

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Who is Daniele Rugani? The €50m Chelsea transfer target who was too nice for Juventus

Daniele Rugani’s first season back at Juventus ended in Scudetto success. 

“I hope to stay for many years,” he enthused in May 2016, “and I’ll do everything to deserve staying for as long as possible, if I’m good enough…”

Nobody else at Juve has ever had any doubts over whether Rugani was good enough to become a stalwart of the Bianconeri backline; the question was whether he was tough enough.

When former Primavera starlet Rugani returned to Turin in 2015, he did so on the back of a successful two-year loan spell at Empoli.

Under the tutelage of Maurizio Sarri, he had helped the Tuscans secure a return to the Italian top flight and then enjoyed an immaculate debut season in Serie A, playing every minute of every match without collecting a single booking.

Inevitably, there were comparisons with the legendary Gaetano Scirea, who, during his time at Juventus, once went eight consecutive seasons without being cautioned once.

Such talk was, of course, premature but the then 20-year-old was undeniably a player of enormous potential: He was elegant, intelligent and composed.

The lack of bookings was unsurprisingly portrayed as a positive, evidence of his excellent reading of the game, evoking memories of Paolo Maldini’s wonderful line: “If I have to make a tackle, I’ve already made a mistake.”

Three years on, though, Rugani’s reluctance to go to ground is interpreted by some as a negative, proof that he lacks the requisite ‘nastiness’ to break into the Juventus defence.

When Rugani rejoined Juve, coach Massimiliano Allegri demanded more aggression from the centre-half. Come the end of last season, he was still waiting for it to show itself.

That is not to say that Rugani has not developed in Turin, or performed well when given a chance.

Furthermore, breaking up the Bianconeri’s legendary ‘BBC’ backline of Leonardo Bonucci, Andrea Barzagli and Giorgio Chiellini was never going to be easy for one so young, so even this summer there was still a perception that Rugani’s time would come. 

Daniele Rugani Empoli

However, it is telling that when his big break came last summer, following Bonucci’s surprise departure to AC Milan, the Empoli youth team product failed to fill the void. 

He played his part in Juve’s seventh successive Scudetto but there were still only 22 appearances, while it was telling that he featured just twice in the Champions League. 

Surprisingly, it was Medhi Benatia who ended up benefitting from Bonucci’s sale – not his more obvious heir, Rugani. 

The 23-year-old rarely put a foot wrong – unlike the far more error-prone Benatia – but the perception was that the slender Rugani could not be trusted in the very biggest games; that he was lacking something, not just physically but mentally. 

Rugani is undeniably a nice guy. His girlfriend, Michela Persico, says “he debunks the typical stereotype of a footballer; he’s the complete opposite to that.” And nobody would disagree. He is a popular character, both in the Juve dressing room and within the media.

There is no shortage of drive, though. Rugani is a perfectionist; as diligent and disciplined as they come.

He does not eat junk food, he gave up Coca-Cola years ago, while he spends every Sunday night making copies of Juve’s games and putting them on a USB key so that he can watch them on his laptop.

Daniele Rugani PS

“It’s so that I can understand what I did and where I went wrong,” he told Tuttosport. “It’s the little details that make the difference.

“Some others are born a phenomenon; me, no. I know I’m good but I can’t be content. I have to work if I want to have a big future. I’m ambitious, never satisfied.”

Which is precisely why he will welcome the move to Chelsea, which represents a chance to grow, to test himself in another league. More importantly, it means a reunion with the man who made him the player he is today.

Allegri never appeared to have 100 per cent confidence in Rugani; Sarri has never doubted his former protege’s ability to become one of the best defenders in the world.

He even tried to sign him during his time in charge of Napoli but, at the stage, Juve refused to even entertain the idea of letting Rugani go. 

Things have changed, though. Cristiano Ronaldo’s signing has created a need to balance the books. Rugani is one of Juve’s most valuable assets at £45 million (€50m) but no longer considered indispensable.

The transfer, thus, appears to suit all parties: Juventus will receive a hefty fee; Chelsea get a young, classy defender around whom they can rebuild their defence; and Rugani gets to work with Sarri again.

“He is a person whom I respect a lot, who gave me a lot and who taught me many things,” he recently admitted.

The challenge now, though, will be to repay his former mentor’s faith in him. We know he is good enough to excel in England but is he tough enough?

We’re about to find out…

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