7 WSL & Championship Plots & Subplots That Could Remain Unresolved After Season Cancelled

The FA have confirmed that the WSL and Women’s Championship have had their seasons ended with immediate effect.

Some form of sporting merit will be used to decide the Champions League places, which would likely see Chelsea and Manchester City qualify for the competition, with third placed Arsenal just missing out.

However, the FA are yet to confirm whether the league’s remaining loose ends will be tied up. Here’s what could be left unresolved…


The Title Race

Arsenal Women v Manchester City Women: WSL

This season’s three-horse title race between Chelsea, Arsenal and Manchester City has been a particularly intriguing affair that we will now not get to see played out in full – and may not even have a winner confirmed.

Man City led Chelsea by a single point, but Emma Hayes’ side had a game in hand. The pair played out a thrilling 3-3 draw in the final game before football was suspended, leaving proceedings tantalisingly poised at the top.

Arsenal were four points behind City, but had also played one game fewer.

While Chelsea were the only remaining unbeaten side, they were also the only team to drop points to teams outside of the top three – drawing at Brighton and Liverpool.

With seven games still to play, this title race surely had another twist or two left. Will Chelsea be awarded the league on PPG despite currently sitting in second place?


The Golden Boot

This season’s battle to be top scorer has been even tighter that the title race, with Chelsea’s Beth England and Arsenal’s Vivianne Miedema tied on 14 goals each.

Miedema currently leads due to providing four more assists than the Chelsea forward – however six of the 23-year-old’s goals and four of her assists did come during one stunning individual performance when Arsenal battered Bristol City 11-1.

Miedema versus England is a battle of effortless natural ability – which the Dutch striker has possessed in buckets since bursting onto the scene as a 15-year-old – versus sheer hard graft – with England fighting through loan spells and doubters to emerge as one of the league’s finest forwards.

While Miedema was the PFA Player of the Year during Arsenal’s title winning campaign last year, this season England has arguably been the player for the big occasions. She had popped up with vital (and often sensational) goals time and time again for the Blues, who would not be league champions elect without her.

The Golden Boot battle is fascinating for the neutral, but let’s face it, Miedema probably couldn’t care less.


The Relegation Battle

Some teams had played just 60% of their league games before football was suspended. Will sides be relegated on the basis of 60% of their fulfilled fixtures?

The battle at the bottom had been unfolding nicely; Bristol seemingly couldn’t buy a win, before suddenly beating Manchester United and Birmingham in the space of a month.

Liverpool finally got off the mark with victory over Bristol, and the one thing you could rely on with the Reds was that while they struggled to score, they rarely conceded more than one. They then lost 4-2 to West Ham.

Birmingham were in a pitiful run of form, but had just dismissed manager Marta Tejedor and installed Charlie Baxter as interim boss before the league’s suspension.

Just three points had separated the bottom three with plenty of football still to be played. Will Liverpool be relegated while their male counterparts celebrate their maiden Premier League title?


Best of the Rest

Manchester United were clinging onto the ‘best of the rest’ bragging rights before football was suspended, but were in a little mid-table cluster alongside Reading, Everton and Tottenham.

United also still had the visits of Manchester City and Chelsea and a trip to Arsenal on the horizon, leaving plenty of time for the chasing pack to capitalise.

The quartet have spent all season taking points off each other and being labelled ‘dark horses’. But who actually was the superior team?


The Impact of Nick Cushing’s Departure & Alan Mahon’s Appointment

Man City’s new interim boss Alan Mahon had taken charge of just two league games before football was suspended, after replacing Nick Cushing in February.

He was yet to confirm whether he was eying up the job on a permanent basis, but he may now never get a full audition for the position.

Whether allowing Cushing to depart to the States during the blood and thunder of the WSL campaign would impact the title race will now remain a hypothetical question.


Championship Promotion

If relegation is scrapped, what does this mean for promotion?

Aston Villa sat six points clear at the top of the Championship, taking 40 points from a possible 42. Sheffield United were six points behind with six games left to play.

The pair had already beaten Liverpool in the Continental Cup this season, demonstrating they were both capable of rubbing shoulders with those in the WSL.

The FA have a history of reshuffling the leagues not on the basis of sporting merit. Could we see an expanded WSL next year, or will both Villa and Sheffield United miss out entirely?


Battle at the Bottom

If you thought the WSL relegation battle was tight, cast your eyes over the lower echelons of the Championship.

Charlton currently occupy bottom spot, but just three points separate them from Blackburn, four places above.

The Addicks have also played two fewer games than second bottom Coventry, who sit just one point clear of the drop zone. It’s too tight to call, but someone may have to.


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25 of the Wackiest Kits in Premier League History

It must be a difficult job churning out fresh and exciting football shirts every single season without straying from the ideals of a fanbase, or really being able to change anything really major like say… shirt colour.

As a result, many clubs produce pretty much the same old kit year after year, just moving the sponsor an inch lower or toggling on/off a collar to justify getting the fans to shell out.

It gets a little boring.

Therefore, we must stop to celebrate when kit manufacturers go off-piste, producing designs that looks as if they have been conjured up by a colour-blind, sleep-deprived impressionist painter.

Since the inception of the Premier League in 1992, in amongst the cookie-cutter templates, there have been a fair few of these retina-assaulting beautiful monstrosities.

Without further ado, let’s take a gander at 25 of the wackiest kits in Premier League history.


1. Arsenal’s Lighting Bolt Phase (1995/96)

Arsenal’s famous 1995/96 away shirt

Nike, Arsenal and seemingly Thor conjured up this striking kit in 1995/96, continuing the lightning bolt theme that Arsenal had used the year prior. Love it or hate it, it’s certainly memorable.

Why a lightning bolt? Why the hell not!


2. Nottingham Forest’s Inky Kit (1995/97)

Nottingham Forest’s 1995/97 away kit

A halfway house between a toddler’s doodles and a graffiti artist’s inspired work, the black patterning on this lovely golden away shirt is certainly unique. It may not be to everyone’s liking but we must celebrate the lunacy behind this kit.

Meanwhile, Forest fans can celebrate the days when they were actually a Premier League side.


3. Liverpool Try Stripes (2014/15)

Liverpool’s third shirt from the 2014/15 season

Sporting an eye-catching red sash and button-up collar, this shirt falls on the elegant side of wacky. Infrequently used by Liverpool as a third shirt in 2014/15, unfortunately we didn’t get to see this unusual design on too many occasions.

Luckily, Warrior weren’t finished with their quirky kits just yet.


4. Manchester United’s Crazy Keeper Kit (1992/93)

Peter Schmeichel donning one of the craziest goalkeeper shirts in Premier League history

Fortunately for many of us, football kit designers often let loose when producing goalkeeper shirts. Perhaps because they’ll only be worn by one player at any given time, they’re often made with little to no restrictions, with plenty of colour and vibrancy thrown into the mix.

Reminiscent of Space Invaders, Peter Schmeichel was both lucky and unlucky enough to wear this kit in the early 1990s.

Ultimately, however, random geometric shapes emblazoned across a football shirt is still a winner.


5. Chelsea’s Attempt to Make Grey & Orange Work (1994/96)

Chelsea’s underappreciated away shirt from 1994/96

The old Chelsea badge in orange, grey vertical stripes that stop at the lovely Coors sponsor and a striking open neck collar…is it lunacy or genius?

Is there really a difference?


6. Norwich’s Tribute to Jackson Pollock (1992/93)

Norwich’s home shirt from the inaugural Premier League season

Not only did Norwich manage to finish a now unthinkable third in the Premier League in 1992/93, they did so sporting a kit that looked as if hundreds of Norfolk pigeons had unloaded their lunch on it.

I guess getting dumped on by a bird really is lucky.


7. Everton Join the Party (1994/96)

Everton’s yellow away kit from 1994/96 (R)

Despite being a staple of top-flight English football, Everton had rarely produced particularly noticeable kits. In 1994, that all changed.

Boasting bumblebee stripes with a dash of blue (because, y’know, they’re Everton) this shirt certainly made up for lost time in the kit department.


8. Another Goalkeeping Beauty (1998/99)

West Ham United’s 1998/99 goalkeeper shirt

Picking up where Manchester United left off, West Ham went for a random shape theme for their goalkeeper shirt in 1998/99.

Consisting mainly of rectangles of various colours and sizes, Pony knocked it out of the park with this tribute to the bar graph.


9. Leeds Announce Themselves in the Premier League (1992/93)

There was no missing Leeds in the inaugural Premier League season, despite the side finishing just two points above the relegation places.

Admiral remain one of the most underrated kit manufacturers of the 1990s, producing this unashamedly drippy away kit for Leeds in 1992/93.

White, yellow and blue…could you get any more Leeds if you tried?


10. Manchester City’s Ice Lolly (2019/20)

Manchester City’s third shirt from the 2019/20 season

A yellow that isn’t really yellow and a pink that’s a little too pink, this ambitious effort from Puma has at least got people talking this season. This is definitely not the most beautiful kit on this list, but it does boast a colour combination seldom seen in the football world.

As far as kits that look like ice lollies go, it’s the out-and-out winner.


11. Liverpool’s Battenberg Design (1995/96)

Liverpool’s 1995/96 away shirt

Reminiscent of some sort of strange green and white battenberg cake, this kit is an instant winner for one reason: it has different colour sleeves. There is nothing more eye-catching about football shirts than an asymmetrical design that is both satisfying and incredibly irritating to look at.

Plus, the spelled-out adidas logo cements it as a hipster classic.


12. Manchester United Embrace Being Manchester United (1992/93)

Manchester United’s dazzling 1992/93 away shirt

Considering that if you stare long enough at this shirt then your head will start spinning, it’s hardly surprising that United won the Premier League title wearing this psychedelic kit.

As the wavy blue and black motif across the shirt was evidently not enough, the Red Devils stuck a massive Manchester United badge on the front of it.

If you’ve got it, flaunt it.


13. Coventry Channel Their Inner Norwich (1992/93)

Coventry’s Norwich-esque 1992/93 home kit (L)

Considering Coventry and Norwich shared the same manufacturers in 1992/93 it’s hardly surprising they both produced remarkably similar kits – although Coventry’s attempt is a little less eye-catching.

While Norwich were inspired by their outlandish look finishing third in the league table, Coventry slumped to a disappointing 15th, avoiding relegation by just three points.


14. Liverpool and Warrior at it Again (2013/14)

Liverpool’s 2013/14 third shirt from Warrior

Liverpool’s time with Warrior as kit manufacturer was far from perfect on and off the pitch, but you kind of have to respect the sheer audacity of the American sports brand.

Instead of playing it by the book, they ripped the book to shreds, set it on fire and danced around the flames.

A purple, white and black asymmetrical kit with zig-zag stripes and a gold sponsor – what’s not to like? Well, lots but still…


15. Newcastle Brown Ale Strikes Again (1995/96)

Newcastle’s 1995/96 away shirt (R)

When the Magpies had Newcastle Brown Ale as their sponsors, the could do no wrong on the design front it seemed.

The home kit for Kevin Keegan’s ‘Entertainers’ is oft-cited as the greatest of all Premier League kits but this redcurrant and navy horizontally striped away effort is just as iconic.


16. Liverpool Lose the Plot (1995/96)

Liverpool’s 1995/96 goalkeeper shirt defies description. We’re not quite sure what it is, or why it is what it is, but it’s still breathtaking.

Let’s just leave it there.


17. The Gianfranco Zola Years (1996/97)

Gianfranco Zola (R) wearing Chelsea’s 1996/97 away shirt

Whenever you lay eyes on this garish Chelsea away kit from 1996/97, only one player’s name springs to mind: Gianfranco Zola. The little Italian could pull absolutely anything off, including a striking yellow and light blue combo.

With the kit manufacturer’s logo and the Chelsea badge slap bang in the middle of the shirt as well, this jersey truly is a thing of beauty.


18. Sunderland’s Pretty in Pink Kit (2016/17)

Sunderland’s 2016/17 pink third shirt

Pink kits often catch the eye – dividing opinion in the process – but this Sunderland third shirt was even more dazzling than most. The purple horizontal stripes add an extra dimension to this stunning shirt which unfortunately has a massive betting company sponsor right in the middle of it. Yuck.

Sunderland may have looked pretty in pink, but they weren’t sitting pretty come the end of the season as they finished rock bottom of the Premier League table.


19. All Kinds of Blue (2002/04)

Arsenal’s very, very blue away shirt from 2002/04

With every passing year, gradient kits like the one above seem to get less and less popular. Unfortunately, these are the turbulent times in which we live.

With 17 different shades of blue that you never knew existed, Arsenal’s early 2000s away kit should be the inspiration for the return of the gradient kit.


20. The Kit That Couldn’t Be Seen (1995/96)

Manchester United’s grey away shirt from 1995/96 (L)

One essential of a football kit is that it’s fairly visible to the human eye.

Considering United once had to change out of this kit at half-time during a clash with Southampton due to the fact that the players were struggling to see one another, this perhaps fails the fundamental test of any football kit.

Ignore that pretty important fact for a second and you’ll see that this is a pretty interesting shirt. Made up of light and dark grey patterning – with the former looking like your mum’s terrible cross-stitching – this is certainly one of the most different kits the Red Devils ever produced.


21. Man City’s Sparkling Silver Kit (2000/01)

Manchester City’s striking away shirt from 2000/01

When you think of a silver football shirt, you’ll probably think back to Barcelona’s famous 1998/01 away shirt worn by the likes of Rivaldo. However, Man City had to settle for Shaun Wright-Phillips and co. back at the turn of the century.

Not only does this kit sparkle under the floodlights, it also has two striking lime green and blue stripes on the front, while also boasting a nice dark blue collar. Saucy.


22. Newcastle By the Sea (1993/95)

Kevin Keegan in Newcastle’s 1993/95 away shirt

The term ‘wavy’ can very literally be applied to Newcastle’s away shirt from 1993/95 with this stunner resembling the rolling waves of the British shoreline. The bright white McEwan’s sponsor and the old school ASICS logo only add to this breathtaking jersey – modelled above by a dashing Keegan.


23. The Most Umbro of Umbro Football Shirts (1993/95)

Another goalkeeper jersey to remember from Manchester United

Peter Schmeichel must wake up most nights in a hot sweat thinking back to what Manchester United made him wear in the 1990s. Outlandish to say the least, this shirt has dissected Umbro logos in yellow and blue emblazoned across it, while also being a strange jumper-like material.

By the time 1993 came around, Schmeichel was already used to having all eyes on his wardrobe.


24. Manchester is Blue (1994/96)

One of Manchester United’s many blue kits from past years

For a club that is so strongly associated with the colour red, United have had their fair share of blue kits over the years. This 1994/96 third strip is one of the finer examples with some lovely details and motifs that are noticeable on closer inspection.

More like the Blue Devils…amirite??


25. The Bruised Banana (1991/93)

Arsenal’s famous bruised banana shirt from 1991/93

We thought we’d save the best until last with Arsenal’s famous bruised banana kit – arguably the most sought-after Premier League shirt of all time, even prompting a re-release last year.

The Arsenal players might’ve worried that they were going to receive a few jeers from the crowd when they donned this cast-off from the Fresh Prince’s wardrobe for the first time, but little did they know that it would become one of the most iconic kits in football history.


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Bournemouth’s Joshua King Wanted By ‘Four of Premier League’s Top Six’

Despite concerns over finances going into the upcoming transfer window, Joshua King is being eyed up by four of the Premier League’s top six clubs heading into the summer.

The Norwegian forward, who can play anywhere across the front line, has not enjoyed his most prolific season to date but has still scored 48 goals in his 163 Bournemouth outings.

Struggling for form all season, the Cherries currently find themselves in the Premier League relegation zone and the future of a number of their star players has come into question.

Eddie Howe’s men fought off late interest in January for King, as Manchester United failed with an 11th-hour bid of £20m for their former player in an effort to fill the void left by Marcus Rashford’s injury.

They eventually sealed a deal for Odion Ighalo on loan, but according to Sky Sports’ Kaveh Solhekol, they might still be interested as four of the Premier League’s big six sides – Arsenal, Chelsea, United, Manchester City, Liverpool and Tottenham – are keen on a summer move for King.

With just one year left to run on his Cherries deal, a summer departure from the south coast looks likely, and Bournemouth may need to lower their asking price given the length of King’s deal, but especially if they fail to stave of relegation and are left in dire need of additional funding.

By process of elimination, based on the basis of the report, Liverpool can be removed from the equation considering their wealth of attacking talent, as well as them holding a key interest in Timo Werner.

City too may exempt from the running for similar reasons, although their is the smallest chance they may see King as a replacement for Leroy Sane. Although, truth be told, they won’t.

Frank Lampard has made it clear he wants forward reinforcements in the summer, while Arsenal are working on a tight budget so may be keen on the relatively low price tag. United could go back in if Ighalo’s deal is not made permanent, and King’s versatility may be of interest to Jose Mourinho.


For more from Ross Kennerley, follow him on Twitter!

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The Reasons for Arsenal Fans to Be Excited When the Premier League Returns

While the vast majority of us have been tuning in and watching the Bundesliga’s return with glazed eyes, there is still something not quite right.

The obvious omission of supporters and the atmosphere and intensity that follows is having an impact on football as a spectacle, sure. That we all miss. But we also miss our team, our players and the Premier League. Oh so painfully much.

Seeing actual live football has provided welcome respite from our regular Saturday Netflix binges, but we’re still missing the highs and lows of backing our own respective clubs.

In the case of Arsenal, it’s been predominantly miserable lows this season, but with English football not gracing our screens for over two months now, it’s best to focus on the positives for when football eventually resumes.

What are those for the Gunners? Is there actually anything to look forward to when they take to the turf once more? Believe it or not, yes there is. Some aspects of the club and squad are genuinely to be excited for, and here they are.


Kieran Tierney Returning From Injury

Upon making his £25m move from Celtic last summer, Arsenal fans were purring at the thought of seeing one of Europe’s most exciting left-backs take to the Emirates pitch. Granted, he arrived injured, but a second unrelated injury was desperately unfortunate and it’s meant he’s amassed just 12 outings for the side in nine months since he joined.

Fans were so expectant and enthusiastic, but were forced to make do with Sead Kolasinac instead. Then the Bosnian too got himself injured and the situation turned rather sour.

But now the Scot has recovered from his dislocated shoulder and looks primed to return to the first-team fold. Finally set to earn a regular run in the side and already receiving glowing praise from his new manager before even kicking a ball, the stage is set for a fresh start.

Even before his injury he had fans grinning, with his superb crossing ability and boundless energy making a fine first impression on his new supporters.


Bukayo Saka Playing in His Natural Position

The aforementioned injury crisis at full-back was a major inconvenience at the time, but it did allow one of the breakout stars of the Premier League this season to begin forging a name for himself.

Bukayo Saka slotted into the role admirably. He never looked fazed, showed tactical astuteness and contributed heavily in the final third with the most assists of any player in the squad. Someone who normally plays 60 yards further up the pitch came to the Gunners’ aid when they needed it, demonstrating commendable levels of maturity for someone his age.

But with Tierney coming back, Arsenal fans can revel in the thought of seeing him play in his natural position. Given how excellent he has been in and around the opponents’ box, taking off the shackles of his defensive duties could see that talent flourish further.

How Arteta chooses to lineup is not known yet, as he may persist with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang on the left wing, but whenever Saka gets a run in the side it’ll be refreshing to see him play with far more freedom than his previous left-back role allowed.


How the Break May Aid Mikel Arteta’s Plans

The difference that Arteta has already made at Arsenal since taking the reins has been vast. They’ve lost just twice in the 15 matches he’s taken charge of, averaging 1.93 points per match.

Draws have still been too frequent, but given he was thrust into the role in December with the club in freefall, there is no questioning he’s made a positive impact. During that time he’s been unable to assess his squad accordingly due to the hectic winter schedule, so this time away from the training pitch will have offered a valuable period of reflection.

Arsenal remain the only unbeaten Premier League side in 2020, and while it will still be a huge ask to secure a Champions League berth this season, the makings of a new-look Gunners side are already in effect.

With players also returning from injury he will be closer to fielding the best lineup at this disposal, backed by fresh ideas and a new outlook on what is the best possible strategy to achieve their goals this season.


William Saliba Linking Up With the Squad

Due to the regulations of his loan deal to Saint-Étienne he will not be able to take any part in the remainder of the 2019/20 Premier League season, but with Ligue 1 being prematurely ended, he will be able to link up with his new teammates and begin training sooner than expected.

While he won’t be able to take part in matches, his impact could offer the squad a much-needed boost – particularly in defence.

It’s an area that’s been of significant concern all season, but seeing a player Arsenal spent big money on last summer may give the failing defenders in the side the necessary kick up the backside they need to step up to the plate.

And besides, who doesn’t like seeing a new signing rocking official club attire and taking part in training?


Can Nicolas Pepe Kick On?

It would be folly to suggest Nicolas Pepe has lived up to his ginormous price tag since joining from Lille last summer, but, in fairness, you’d have to do a hell of a lot in your first season to make £72m look like money well spent.

Yet, a total of 14 goal involvements in 32 games is not a horrendous return, and it was starting to look like he’d found his feet before football was postponed with three assists and a goal in his three most recent Premier League outings.

Of course, the fans want more. As will Arteta, the board and Pepe himself. He did cost £72m after all. But he’s someone who the Gunners will need firing on all cylinders for the final ten-game stretch and it will be interesting to see whether the break has been beneficial to him or could prove to be an unfortunate setback in his development.

Either way, his style is one that excites. He loves to take defenders on and use his trickery in wide areas (sometimes far too often) and perhaps playing behind closed doors could relieve some of the pressure on his shoulders.


Either a Mouth-Watering or Favourable First Game Back

With the Gunners’ midweek clash with Manchester City being postponed on the eve of English football being halted indefinitely, there is every chance that Arsenal could take on the champions in their first game back.

That could be moved to a different midweek date, though, as it could be the case where the Premier League sets up a full weekend of fixtures and Arteta’s City reunion be played at a later time. It’s the club’s game in hand and if they are to launch any meaningful bid for a top-four spot then they’ll need a positive result from it. What exactly said result is will be intriguing to see.

Should that fixture not be their first played when the league resumes then instead they have a favourable away clash with Brighton to contend with. The Seagulls are flirting with relegation and are in desperate need of points themselves, so in that sense, it won’t be easy. Yet if you were to ask Arteta which side he’d like to take on as a first game back then Brighton, you’d imagine, would feature quite high on the list.

Graham Potter’s side haven’t won any of their last ten matches in all competitions, meanwhile Arsenal have lost just one of their last 13 clashes – a damaging Europa League defeat to Olympiacos.


For more from Ross Kennerley, follow him on Twitter!

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Assessing the Options for Outgoing Ajax Left-Back Nicolás Tagliafico This Summer

With club finances across Europe taking a significant dent following the outbreak of coronavirus, a player of Nicolás Tagliafico’s quality potentially being available for just £20m naturally attracts plenty of attention.

The Ajax left-back was into his third season at the club when the Eredivisie season was cancelled, but even after just 24 league outings he once again shown his quality.

In total he’s accrued 99 appearances for the club, boasting impressive attacking qualities throughout his Dutch adventure to complement his obvious defensive ability. He’s netted 12 goals during that time along with 15 assists, and Europe has been put on red alert.

Everyone’s interest has been piqued further by recent developments, as it is claimed that Tagliafico has an agreement with Ajax to allow him to leave should a suitable (£20m) offer come in this summer.

Furthermore, the player is supposedly keen on a move elsewhere, so assessing where he could end up seems like the right port of call. Let’s take a look, shall we?


Arsenal

Thrown into the mix recently following some of the latest reports are the Gunners, whose boss Mikel Arteta has eyed the Argentine as a target for the summer as he looks to mould his squad ahead of the new season.

As touched upon, this move is highly doubtful given the well-documented economic issues at Arsenal as well as the more glaring deficiencies in the squad. Boasting two left-backs (and one makeshift one) already, it would seemingly be a case of one in, one out if this were to come off. And even still, it’s a big expense to the club.

For a player of Tagliafico’s quality, he’ll want regular football, but given that Arsenal already forked out £25m on Kieran Tierney last summer, a player who Arteta has waxed lyrical about, there is precious little logic in signing another left-back when other areas of the pitch require more urgent surgery.

He’d no doubt suit the style of play at the Emirates, but this one looks dead in the water already.


Barcelona

As seen recently, there is a firesale of sorts taking place at Camp Nou this summer, with the club open to selling all but six of the first-team squad in the coming transfer window.

These include the club’s two left-backs, Jordi Alba and Junior Firpo. The former has been with the club since 2012 and remains one of the continent’s finest left-backs, but the financial situation at Barcelona has left them in desperate need of additional funding.

Even for Firpo there is a chance he could depart the club, despite only joining Barcelona last summer for deal that could be worth €30m. Yet, in order for the Blaugrana to be making moves in the transfer market then these two would need to be sold and finding buyers in the current climate could prove troublesome.

The most likely outcome is that their current two left-backs will stay, meaning there is no room for a £20m-rated third defender in that position.


Atlético Madrid

For an attack-minded left-back, moving to Atlético Madrid might not suit Tagliafico too much. Diego Simeone’s style is well-known for erring on the side of caution, making themselves tougher to beat at the sacrifice of attacking intent.

Tagliafico is a player who loves to overlap and have an impact in the final third, a trait that might be out of place in Simeone’s side. Besides, the club signed Renan Lodi last summer, and despite a rocky start, has began to establish himself in the first team and make a positive impact.

This was no more evident than in the club’s final fixture before football was halted where he performed admirably against Liverpool at Anfield, having already earned the man of the match award in the first leg of their Champions League clash.

One thing to note is that Lodi is the only recongised left-back in the squad, though, and while Mario Hermoso can fill in at the role, this season we’ve even seen Saul Ñiguez slot into that position on occasion, so reinforcements could be needed.


Paris Saint-Germain

Another name to crop up in regards to Tagliafico’s future is the French giants, who are seemingly failing with their efforts to sign Porto’s Alex Telles. Paris Saint-Germain are unwilling to match the Portuguese club’s valuation of the defender, so with a more financially viable option emerging their attentions have turned elsewhere.

Layvin Kurzawa is set to depart the Parc des Princes at the end of the season when his contract expires, leaving Juan Bernat as the only recognised left-back at the club. Thomas Tuchel doesn’t appear to have been overly convinced with either this season, regularly changing between the two or on occasion fielding Bernat in a more advanced role.

His indecisiveness and pursuit of Telles signals that it’s an area the club are looking to bolster, making Tagliafico’s signature an intriguing one. As seen with Telles, he is a very attack-minded full-back in the same ilk as the Argentine – a style of defender Tuchel likes to utilise in his team.

How convinced of playing in Ligue 1 Tagliafico will be is not known, but his desire to play for a bigger club could be answered if he joins the dominant Parisian outfit, who regularly challenge (win) domestic trophies and compete in the Champions League every season.


Chelsea

While there is some scope for Tagliafico to move to any of the clubs above, no matter how faint those chances may be, no club stands out more prominently in this chase than Chelsea.

Rumours linking current left-backs Emerson Palmieri and Marcos Alonso with a move away from Stamford Bridge have been heightened this season, with Frank Lampard preferring to field Cesar Azpilicueta in that position despite it not being his natural role.

The performances of Alonso and Palmieri have not matched Lampard’s standards, which is why Ben Chilwell has long been linked with a move to west London.

That deal will need to be put on hold for the time being, though, since the fee Leicester will command is far too substantial for Chelsea to part with in their current financial situation.

Therefore, a £20m move for another one of Europe’s most exciting left-backs is exceedingly more appealing. Shipping out even one of their left-backs will free up funds and a spot in the squad, not to mention that Tagliafico’s playing style fits the brand of football Lampard wants to instil at the club.

It’s also been mooted that the 27-year-old has a preference for moving to the Premier League when he leaves Ajax, so plenty of boxes are being ticked in Chelsea’s favour.


For more from Ross Kennerley, follow him on Twitter!

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