Who will top Premier League clubs retain if they had an IPL-style auction?

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Who will top Premier League clubs retain if they had an IPL-style auction?

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Subhayan Dutta

01/05/2018

All the hype and hoopla that IPL managed to create with their retention and RTM challenge to franchises ahead of the mega-auction, has got us thinking how top EPL clubs would do in same situation. Here is a look at what the Premier League bosses would have to do if they are put in such a situation.

Manchester City

Retention

Though Pep Guardiola’s seemingly all-conquering City are leading the charts with every player looking flawless, there are still a significant few who even the mastermind Guardiola wouldn’t replace. The retention choices for the bosses at the Etihad would be Ederson, Sergio Aguero, and Kevin de Bruyne.

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After bottling it up big time with Claudio Bravo last season Guardiola would have to stick his No. 31, Ederson. The Brazilian has one of the safest pairs of hands in the league with an average claiming success of 80% and has been covering 87% of the distance with impeccable passing. de Bruyne would be the first player on every club’s retention list and Pep surely thanks his stars every game night that he came to City with the midfield maestro at his prime. Since joining City, de Bruyne has scored a staggering 30 goals and 49 assists in 118 games, and he is just 26. Aguero is still City’s biggest hope up front. In one of his poorer seasons, he still has managed 13 goals so far and despite all his reported rifts with the manager, Aguero is Guardiola’s first-choice by miles.

Right to Match

Despite having De Bruyne, City would think twice before parting ways with the mercurial David Silva. A better visionary than his Belgian teammate, the only reason Silva is sitting in the RTM section is his age. Though his abilities have hardly depreciated since joining City back in 2010, scoring 56 goals and assisting 111 times in the process, Pep has always been a connoisseur of youth and would surely look past the 31-year-old in few years to find a foil for De Bruyne.

New recruit Bernardo Silva would be City’s second right to match option. Though he is still getting used to the pace of football in England, the Portuguese international has electrifying pace and brilliant sense of positioning and could better Raheem Sterling in the coming years.   

Manchester United 

Retention

Choosing United’s main three wasn’t as difficult as Mourinho finds on game weeks. They are Paul Pogba, David De Gea, and Anthony Martial. The towering Frenchman will be the obvious choice, not only for the price but also for United’s style of play. Mourinho’s counter-attacking play needs someone who could collect the ball with his back towards opponents’ goal, not be shaken by the incoming physicality, run with it to the opponents’ half and then pass it to the most suitable person to score. While most teams would find two, three players to execute that properly, United were quite surprised what £89.3 million could do. Pogba can do it all and quite surprisingly much more. He has played just 12 matches for United so far, and was directly involved in 10 goals in them. And at 24, Old Trafford is looking at him for next many years. He has also created 23 chances this season so far, which were easy enough even for someone like Romelu Lukaku to convert.

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United boast of the second best defence in the league and a major chunk of it, or may be all of it, should be attributed to David De Gea. Though he has conceded 16 goals this season, he has successfully completed 12 shutouts with an average claiming success of 93%. His inhuman reflex is also one of the reasons United would want to retain him.

The third choice would be Anthony Martial. Though United’s golden boy, Marcus Rashford has given him a run for his money on the left flank of late, it has managed to bring the best out of him. Mourinho has taken more time to get the best out of him compared to Louis Van Gaal, Martial is finally getting back his rhythm with seven goals and three assists this season already. The 22-year-old’s ability to go past players without compromising on his pace also makes him irreplaceable at United.

Right to Match

Nemanja Matic would be a perfect candidate for this category. Though the Serbian has been one of the more important players for United in the midfield this season with the manager well-acquainted of his strengths from prior experience, the 29-year-old has also shown hints of low mileage and that is not something United would want in the future. They would keep their options open for Pogba’s partner.

One of Mourinho's star recruits last season, Bailly, has been really unfortunate with his injuries so far. He has managed to play 33 games in two seasons getting sidelined for 174 days so far. However, this doesn’t take away the fact that the Ivory Coast international is very good at interceptions and times his tackles to perfections, almost always. United would sincerely hope he shakes off his affinity towards injury fast but at the same keep their options open.  

Chelsea 

Retention

Chelsea would retain Thibaut Courtois, Eden Hazard, and N’Golo Kante. The Belgian custodian has helped the Blues lift two titles since returning from his loan stint with Atletico de Madrid three years ago. Chelsea’s gloomy season in 2015-16 where they finished 10th saw Courtois sidelined mostly, with injuries. He came back for another full season last year and Chelsea were the champions again. He unsettled Petr Cech’s long-standing position at Stamford Bridge and at 25, Chelsea will be looking to keep him for almost another decade.

Hazard remains the next most obvious choice for Chelsea on the list. Since joining Chelsea back in 2012, he has scored 81 goals and provided 70 assists. His ability to dribble past opponents, in the league, is second to none and for someone who is 173cm, Hazard holds on to the ball really well. Though inconsistency has been a problem for him of late, he pretty much makes up for it with the fear he induces in his opponents. Overall, a complete package and he also just 26.

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Though N’Golo Kante looks to lose his shine as the season progresses with Chelsea’s game play no more exuding his brilliant impact that had single-handedly won them the league last season, the French midfielder still retains unparalleled stamina which is very rare. Chelsea’s decision to replace Matic with Tiemoue Bakayoko and Danny Drinkwater has also been a major reason for his drops his impact. But, the 26-year-old is definitely a long-term prospect for Chelsea

Right to Match

After numerous criticisms last season concerning light fixtures when Chelsea ran away with the league title easily, Antonio Conte knew that he had to add reinforcements to his trio of David Luiz, Gary Cahill, and Cesar Azpilicueta. And despite bringing in big names like Antonio Rudiger and Davide Zappacosta, it has been the return of loanee Andreas Christensen, which has made all the difference. The 21-year-old has extended his brilliant form from Borussia Monchengladbach and has kept out the likes of Luiz and Rudiger from the first eleven. Though he is a work in progress, he has impressed one and all with his superior ability to read the game and pass out from the back.

After speculations linked Romelu Lukaku to Chelsea for most part of last summer, Alvaro Morata was more of a panic buy for the Blues with United scooping in for the Belgian striker. The former Real Madrid man, though has scored 10 goals in the league so far, has been tremendously error-prone in his finishing. Chelsea’s last game against Arsenal was evident of it and although it is too early to gauge his adaptability in the league, there is a big doubt if he will be Chelsea’s main player down the line.

Liverpool

Retention

Liverpool was pretty much the easiest to pick among the lot. For a side that has only been comfortable when on the offensive, they would go for three of their dangerous four - Philippe Coutinho, Sadio Mane, and Mohammad Salah. Liverpool don’t seem to breathe without the Egyptian at the moment, who has created a storm in the league with 17 goals and six assists in 21 games. Given how comfortably he has changed gears between Serie A and Premier League, he is definitely not a one-season wonder.

Sadio Mane comes in next. The Cameroonian has proven himself to be the man for big occasion and suits perfectly to Jurgen Klopp’s lightning quick counter-attacking tactics. He can weave his way past players almost at will and has proved his efficacy in front of the goal with 21 goals and 14 assists so far. Though recurring injuries have been a problem, at 25, Mane remains another player that could take Liverpool to glory in future. 

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The last one has to be Coutinho. Though the constant speculation surrounding his exit from the Anfield has been a factor in him the third player on the list, there is no doubt that Liverpool would want to lock him up and never let him leave. The midfielder possesses one of the most lethal right foots in the league and ability to pick top corner from yards out makes him a mainstay in their side. He has scored 54 goals and provided 46 assists since joining in 2013 and has never scored less than 25 goals till now except his debut season. 

Right to Match

Roberto Firmino remains the only player from their attack now, and despite being an effective false No.9 since the last two seasons, the Brazilian has seen an inconsistent patch. Though his selfless play makes him a lucrative option to retain, he is not irreplaceable and if Liverpool have managed to retain the three above, they would surely get an upgrade on Firmino.    

The last retention will definitely not be a defender, in case you were wondering. There was a slight imbalance between Emre Can and Adam Lallana for the last one before we obviously decided to go with the player having Southampton pedigree. Apart from his ability to play both in the midfield as well as wings Lallana has the reputation of pressing the shit out of players and consistently, something that Klopp would opt for.

Tottenham Hotspur 

Retention

Harry Kane will the first one with eyes closed. The striker has been the greatest player Spurs have produced in their history and he is worth every penny the club could spend to keep him. His ability to finish, both from long and short range, hold the ball under tremendous pressure and ability to drop back in need and distribute the ball ahead, makes him the most complete striker in the league at the moment. He has scored 123 goals for Spurs in 190 games, becoming PL’s top scorer twice and he is just 24.

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Christian Eriksen comes next. The Danish international, although late, has managed to fill the shoes of Luka Modric at White Hart Lane. He is the best utility player in the league by a large distance. He can play as a central midfielder, as an anchor, on the wings and also as the number 10 and he is effective in all those positions. After a slow start in PL, Eriksen has registered 15 assists in the last two consecutive seasons and is increasingly looking like the next big thing.

Toby Alderweireld personifies Mauricio Pochettino’s calm and composed build-up from the back by being a centre-half, who has superior ball control, can read the game well and can pick players through the eye of a needle. 

Right to Match

The mercurial Dele Alli would be the first in Spurs’ ‘Right to Match’ list. Despite the MK Dons product being really promising in the last two seasons the 21-year-old, like most other youngsters, has shown signs of inconsistency to some extent. Though it would be a hard choice but the Lilywhites should keep the inexperienced one on the edge. Goalkeeper Hugo Lloris is second on the list. Despite Spurs offering a big money contract to him only last year, the French shot-stopper could actually be replaced for the right offer.

Arsenal

Retention

After legends like Nicklas Bendtner, Maroune Chamakh, Gervinho and more have had their stints at the Emirates, Arsenal have settled with Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil at the driver seat now. The duo has contrasting capabilities in front of the goal and was the star signings that helped Arsenal three FA Cups in the last four years after the North London side went trophyless for more than a decade. 

In Sanchez, Arsenal actually have someone whose abilities are very rare and obviously hard to replace. He can be pretty much a one-man army up front on his day with extraordinary ability to chase and press defenders, and he can win you games. Though he can be frustrating at times by giving away balls attempting his tricks and turns, there is hardly a player in world football who can replace him with similar effect.  

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Ozil is widely considered as one of the most intelligent footballers in world football right now due to his ability to find ghost passes playing at the frays. He can hold the ball under massive pressure and can pick up players, who opponents can’t even see. The amount of chances Ozil creates would be enough for the side to challenge for the title, but for their poor attack. He has created 62 chances this season in only 18 games. He created 100 chances last season getting only 14 assists and a staggering 144 chances previous to that season getting only 19 assists. 

Right to Match

Arsenal are in desperate need of a squad revamp and if given the chance wouldn’t even want to retain most of the players. However, the two players who they would keep close to their chest would Aaron Ramsey and Alexander Lacazette. The Welsh international, though inconsistent, has been one of Arsenal’s most effective midfielders in the past few seasons. He has 51 goals and 53 assists for the club since then and like Ozil can provide some delightful assists.

Summer recruit Lacazette would be the next one. The Frenchman’s struggles are understandable in his debut season and he, like Morata, had his share of misses too but his confidence is expected to come with goals and time. 

Arsenal would try retaining only FOUR players if given a chance, for the frugal minded man at the helm would surely want to save some pennies in this slim window of opportunity.  

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