Troy Parrott has joined Millwall on loan for the 2020-21 campaign and is relishing the chance to prove himself away from Tottenham.

Parrott, 18, is highly regarded at Spurs and signed a new three-year deal in February, but he found first-team football hard to come by this season.

The teenager was thought to be in with a chance of increased game time when Harry Kane suffered a serious hamstring injury at the start of January, though Parrott finished the season with just two Premier League appearances to his name.

The Republic of Ireland international will now drop a division to the Championship for the forthcoming campaign, as he moves across London to Millwall on a season-long loan deal.

The switch should provide a grateful Parrott with his first exposure to regular first-team football, and it sees him follow in the footsteps of Kane, who spent the second half of the 2011-12 season with Millwall and won the club's Young Player of the Year award.

"I'm buzzing to get straight into things, I'm really looking forward to it," Parrott told Millwall's website. "The crowd, the club itself - I've heard a lot of good things. When I've watched games, the littlest of things gets them going, and I want to be a part of something like that.

"It's not hard to see from the outside that all [the fans] are looking for is someone to give 100 per cent every game. When I was growing up playing football, that was the player I always was, so I feel as though I can fit it very well. I'm really excited to get going, work hard and give everything for the fans.

"I'm really grateful to Spurs for letting me go out on loan and get some regular football. Hopefully I can improve a lot whilst at Millwall."

Manchester United should "go and get" Jadon Sancho and Jack Grealish in this transfer window, according to Ryan Giggs.

The transfer window has once again reopened and United will be able to offer potential signings Champions League football next term after Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side finished in the Premier League's top four last weekend.

Borussia Dortmund winger Sancho, who finished with 17 league goals and 16 assists in 2019-20, has been strongly linked with a return to his homeland, having enhanced his reputation in the Bundesliga over the past three seasons since leaving Manchester City.

Meanwhile, Grealish was the standout performer for a Villa side that avoided relegation on the final day last Sunday, when he scored his eighth Premier League goal of the season to go along with his six assists for his boyhood club.

Another season of Premier League football for Villa may price Solskjaer's men out of a move for Grealish, while Sancho could command a club-record fee, yet United legend Giggs feels both fit the bill.

"[They are] two good players," Wales manager Giggs told the Webby and O'Neill YouTube channel. 

"I think the thing with Grealish is he's obviously used to the Premier League and doesn't need to adapt to it so that's good.

"For me from the outside, it looks like he's got the mentality to come to this place and not bother him. Certain players can get overawed. Also, the good thing this year is he's got 10 goals [in all competitions] and got into double figures so that would be one question mark I would have had with him: does he score enough goals?

"To get to double figures with no penalties for Villa is impressive.

"Sancho is quick, direct but also an intelligent player.

"What I like about him is when he gets into those areas with the final ball, he doesn't panic. A lot of quick wide players sometimes do but he picks out the right pass.

"He's someone who can counterattack if we're going to play that but also if a team are going to sit back, he can beat players and make things happen.

"They are two signings that may be available and if we're able to get them, I would go and get them."

Nemanja Matic has vowed Manchester United cannot present youth as an excuse if they fail to challenge for next season's Premier League title.

The Serbian midfielder twice won the English league title while at Chelsea, and he joined United in 2017 with the aim of chasing more silverware.

Yet in three years at Old Trafford, Matic, who turned 32 on Saturday, has yet to capture a trophy with United.

United remain in the hunt to win the Europa League later this month, but the Premier League is their prime target, particularly given it is neighbours Manchester City and fierce rivals Liverpool who have been setting the highest standards.

The Red Devils finished the 2019-20 domestic season strongly under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, with young players such as Mason Greenwood, Marcus Rashford and Aaron Wan-Bissaka prominent.

But United's squad is chock-full of experience too, so in Matic's eyes there is no reason for them not to battle for top honours.

He told Inside United, the club's official magazine: "I would like to win the Premier League with Manchester United. I think that our club always needs to fight for the title.

"We always need to try to do the best for this club, which we are doing at the moment, and I think we cannot allow any club to win the league seven or 10 games before the season finishes. So we have to fight until the end."

Liverpool had seven games to spare when they clinched the Premier League title in June, and United ended the season 33 points adrift of their perennial foes, despite going 14 matches unbeaten in the competition at the end of the campaign.

"Of course, we have a young team, but this cannot be an excuse," Matic said. "I think these young players already have a few seasons behind them playing.

"So, from the next season, we have to fight for the title. I don't know if we're going to win [the title] but I'm sure that we can fight until the end.

"That's my personal target and I think the rest of my team-mates think the same."

Philippe Coutinho has reportedly been offered to two Premier League clubs, while Manchester City are eyeing Sergi Roberto.

Coutinho is expected to leave Barcelona on a permanent deal this close season.

A return to the Premier League has been mooted for the playmaker, and it could be getting closer.

 

TOP STORY – COUTINHO OFFERED TO TWO PREMIER LEAGUE CLUBS

Coutinho has been offered to both Arsenal and Tottenham, according to The Independent.

The report says Arsenal look the more likely to complete a deal for the Brazil international.

Coutinho has been on loan at Bayern Munich this season, having struggled since arriving at Barcelona from Liverpool in 2018.

 

ROUND-UP

- Manchester City are linked with a surprise deal. Sport reports the Premier League giants are interested in Barcelona's Sergi Roberto, who wants to remain at Camp Nou.

- Out of contract next year, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has been linked with a move from Arsenal. The Daily Mail reports Chelsea, who face Arsenal in the FA Cup final on Saturday, were sounded out about a move for the forward in January.

- Inter continue to be linked with a move for Tottenham midfielder Tanguy Ndombele. Gianluca Di Marzio reports the Serie A giants are offering star defender Milan Skriniar to Spurs in their bid to land Ndombele.

- After struggling at Manchester City, John Stones is reportedly set for a move. The Sun reports the defender is poised for a £20million move to West Ham, where he would reunite with former Everton manager David Moyes.

- Sami Khedira's time at Juventus could be over. CalcioMercato reports Juve are negotiating to terminate the midfielder's contract.

- Real Madrid left-back Sergio Reguilon, who has been on loan at Sevilla, is attracting plenty of interest. Sky Sports says Everton lead the race for Reguilon after submitting a bid of £18million (€20m).

Bayer Leverkusen have not received any offers for Kai Havertz despite persistent speculation linking him with Chelsea, sporting director Simon Rolfes has revealed.

Havertz, 21, has been a revelation in the Bundesliga ever since making his breakthrough as a 17-year-old in the 2016-17 campaign.

The midfielder, who has been played in an increasingly attacking role over the past two years, has scored 29 Bundesliga goals since the start of the 2018-19 campaign, while his haul of 12 this term came alongside six assists.

Widespread speculation suggests it is unlikely he will remain with Leverkusen – who failed to qualify for the Champions League – next term, while Chelsea are said to have positioned themselves as frontrunners for his signature.

Leverkusen are reported to be demanding at least €78million (£70m) for the Germany international, whose national team colleague Timo Werner has already made the switch to Stamford Bridge.

But Rolfes, a former Leverkusen midfielder who is now in charge of sporting decisions at the club, insists no club has made an offer for Havertz yet.

"So far we have no offer," Rolfes told Sky Germany. "We know about the interest of clubs, but there is no official offer.

"We have said several times that we will end the season with our entire squad, and that includes Kai. That goes without saying for us."

Although the Bundesliga season is over, with Leverkusen finishing fifth, Die Werkself are still in the Europa League.

They are due to face Rangers at home next Thursday in the second leg of their last-16 tie, having won 3-1 in Scotland five months ago, prior to the coronavirus pandemic bringing a temporary halt to European football.

Should they get past Rangers, Leverkusen will face either Inter or Getafe in the quarter-finals.

At this point the competition will become a mini-tournament made up of single-legged ties - rather than the usual two-legged contests - after UEFA moved the latter stages to neutral venues in Germany due to the pandemic.

Bayer Leverkusen will be powerless to resist selling Kai Havertz to Chelsea if the Blues' billionaire owner Roman Abramovich wants the German at Stamford Bridge, according to the Premier League club's former manager Avram Grant.

Havertz, 21, has been a revelation in the Bundesliga ever since making his breakthrough as a 17-year-old in the 2016-17 campaign.

The midfielder, who has been played in an increasingly attack-minded role over the past two years, has scored 29 Bundesliga goals since the start of the 2018-19 campaign, while his haul of 12 this term was added to with six assists.

Already a Germany international, Havertz is widely expected to leave Leverkusen in the coming weeks, with Chelsea said to be his most likely destination.

The financial implications of the coronavirus pandemic, combined with Chelsea's recent deals for Hakim Ziyech and Timo Werner, have led to suggestions the club might not be willing to meet Leverkusen's apparent €78million (£70m) asking price.

But Grant, a friend of Abramovich and a former Chelsea manager, thinks the Blues will sign anyone if the owner wants them.

Speaking to Stats Perform News, Grant said: "Abramovich didn't have a problem with money before! When he wants something, he buys it.

"He doesn't do things to save money. Whether they have more or less money, I don't think it's important.

"What I think is important is that they started to use the academy. They spent so much money on it and they didn't give anyone a chance [before]. My policy at Chelsea was that we wanted one third of the squad as under-21 players, because you cannot invest a lot into the academy and not give them a chance.

"Now, not as a policy, they gave them a chance, and Frank has done a great job. Michael Emenalo, a director, was always complaining that we invested a lot of money in them [academy players] but we don't give them a chance.

"When you have a good young player, they can develop a lot and there are a lot of good talents at Chelsea, and we're in a good phase for the coming years.

"With a good signing they can compete with Liverpool or Man City. [Havertz] has the quality. We need to wait and see [if he's the one to bridge the gap]."

The signings of Ziyech and Werner, from Ajax and RB Leipzig respectively, have been widely applauded, particularly given they were both secured well before the conclusion of the season.

But Grant did urge caution, highlighting that many big signings in a short period does not always guarantee success.

"On paper they look like good signings and that they can make the team stronger, but we need to wait and see," Grant said. "We've seen years ago, Tottenham bought a lot of players but they bought too much and many didn't perform well - eventually Harry Redknapp saved them and did a very good job.

"I think you need to be careful when you sign a player, whether they will be good for the squad, but I'm sure they've checked this. It's not only about quality."

N'Golo Kante and Willian are in contention for Chelsea's FA Cup final clash with Arsenal on Saturday, though Frank Lampard refused to be drawn on who will start in goal.

France international Kante has endured a frustrating season for the Blues, with numerous injury issues and fitness problems putting him on the sidelines.

The latest was a hamstring issue suffered early this month and he has not featured since, only returning to training prior to the final Premier League game of the season.

But the midfielder is in the squad for Saturday's showdown at Wembley, while Willian – absent from the win over Wolves last weekend with an unspecified problem – could also be involved.

Lampard did not have such good news regarding Ruben Loftus-Cheek, who will not feature.

"Yes, N'Golo Kante and Willian are in the squad," Lampard said in Friday's pre-match news conference. "We will see if they're fit enough to be involved.

"But Ruben Loftus-Cheek has picked up a small problem and is out of the game."

Brazilian winger Willian has enjoyed a prominent season at Stamford Bridge, racking up nine goals and seven assists in the league and arguably rediscovering his best form despite uncertainty over his future.

The 31-year-old, whose current deal is set to expire at the end of the season, has reportedly rejected a new two-year contract at the club because he wants an extra season on top of that.

Since football resumed in June, Willian has scored three goals and set up another two and his attitude has not surprised Lampard.

When asked if he expected Willian's professionalism despite a somewhat awkward situation, Lampard said: "Yes, I've known Willian for many years as a player and I have coached him.

"If anyone wants to know the mentality of him, then that has been shown since restart. He has given everything. I would expect nothing less than he's shown already."

Where Lampard seemed most uncertain in terms of team selection ahead of Saturday was in goal – Kepa Arrizabalaga is the usual first-choice, but his form has been underwhelming, with Willy Caballero replacing the Spaniard against Wolves and a regular in cup competitions.

"It's difficult because we have competition in the squad," Lampard said. "I have changed it at times, we consider the games as we go – [for] big games, it becomes more difficult.

"I know how much players want to be in these games, but people off the bench have made a huge difference in recent games.

"It [leaving players out for a final] is difficult for me, difficult [for the players] to take, but players have to be positive."

Lampard and his counterpart Mikel Arteta will be aiming to win the first piece of silverware in their managerial careers on Saturday.

Chelsea boss Frank Lampard knows the quality of David Luiz and will not be targeting the centre-back as an Arsenal weakness in Saturday's FA Cup final.

Brazil centre-back David Luiz found his Gunners future under scrutiny after a poor display in a 3-0 defeat to Manchester City when the Premier League restarted in June, a match in which he was sent off.

The experienced defender returned to play a crucial role as Arsenal enjoyed a more consistent run of form, earning a one-year contract extension and shining against City in the FA Cup semi-final triumph.

David Luiz enjoyed two spells at Stamford Bridge, the first of which he played alongside Lampard, who said he was instrumental in the Blues' Champions League and FA Cup double in the 2011-12 campaign.

"I certainly haven't [targeted him as a weak point]," Lampard told an online media conference. 

"What I have for David is a real respect, he was a top player in our 2012 campaign, David was a top player within that.

"We're preparing for Arsenal with him in a team, I know how good he can be and I know what a big player he can be for Arsenal."

Lampard lifted the FA Cup four times as a player and has the opportunity to claim silverware in his first campaign as Chelsea boss and just his second in management.

"Obviously I would be delighted to and if you get to a final you want to win it," he said when asked what it would mean to win the trophy as a manager. 

"It will be difficult, there is many a great manager who hasn't won things, but now we are here I want to win it."

The showpiece at Wembley will again be played without supporters allowed to attend due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Lampard concedes it will be odd to play a final in such circumstances, while adding he is determined for his pre-match message not to put too much pressure on his team.

"It will be strange to have no fans. We are getting used to it. We want fans back, but we have to respect the current circumstances," he added. 

"The fact we are used to it means you can focus on what's in front. If you do win then the FA Cup title stays with you forever.

"I probably will [give the players a special message], but I haven't done so far. I don't want to heap too much pressure on. 

"Most of the players have played in critical games before, they have experiences of high-level games. I just want them to perform like they have at times this season."

Rio Ferdinand concedes he was unimpressed with Nemanja Vidic after his arrival at Manchester United and predicted with Wayne Rooney that the defender would not last long at Old Trafford.

Vidic and Ferdinand eventually went on to form a superb centre-back partnership over eight-and-a-half seasons, which helped United to five Premier League crowns and Champions League glory in 2008.

But Rooney and his fellow England international had immediate doubts when Alex Ferguson signed Vidic from Spartak Moscow in January 2006.

Ferdinand told United's website: "Never heard of him. I'll be totally honest, that was my reaction when I heard that we were signing Nemanja Vidic.

"At the time we had Mikael Silvestre and Wes Brown as our other centre-halves. The manager wanted competition for places, Wes had had a few injuries and Vida was a punt to bring that extra competition. 

"Liverpool were interested as well, Aston Villa and a few others, and then he signed for us.

"I had no idea what to expect from him, no preconceptions. When someone joins the club, you're quickly sussing them out and forming opinions.

"From what I was seeing in his early training sessions, Vida was struggling, especially physically. That wasn't just strength-wise, but breathing, too. The pace of the training sessions were just such a shift in what he'd been used to. It wasn't easy for him.

"I had a conversation with Wayne Rooney – a couple of times, actually – about both Vidic and Patrice Evra, who had joined at the same time. 

"We were both basically saying, 'Wow, how have we signed these two?' Wayne was playing against Vida in training and he was quite clear on Vida's issues: he wasn't strong enough, wasn't aggressive enough, just didn't seem like a Man United player.

"I remember thinking, 'He won't be here long. No chance he's gonna be here long'. Speaking to him since, I know now that back when he first signed, he was nervous. He was wondering, 'Have I made the right move?'

"It was so difficult for him. He was playing against Wayne Rooney, Cristiano Ronaldo and Louis Saha every day. The standards expected of him had shot up massively overnight. We were judging him harshly, but he was judging himself harshly too."

Vidic improved various aspects of his game and quickly developed a close bond with Ferdinand around the United training ground as he settled into life at the club.

"He went away and worked very diligently on a lot of things," continued Ferdinand.

"He spent a lot more time in the gym, getting himself physically ready, preparing himself, conditioning himself for the right level so he could actually compete.

"Then there just came a point – I can't think of a specific day or date – when he was just competing. He just got accustomed to it over a period of time.

"The best word to describe the player Vida became is formidable. You could see strikers going up with him, thinking, 'Oh god, he's gonna smash me'. You could see fear in strikers. 

"He was someone who was horrible to play against. He'd go to head the ball and head you. Vida had the most bloody noses I've seen out of anybody I've ever played with.

"Even in his last game for United he walked off the pitch with a bloody nose and that just epitomised him! He was just fearless. He saw the ball, nothing else.

"After a season or two of playing with Vida, I knew that when I left United, I wanted to walk out of Old Trafford knowing we were considered the best partnership the club had ever had. That was something that drove me."

Peter Moore is to step down as Liverpool chief executive officer at the end of August, the Premier League champions have confirmed.

Moore took up the post at Anfield in 2017 after spending more than 30 years in the United States with companies including Reebok and Microsoft.

Liverpool have enjoyed significant success in the past three years, winning the Champions League, UEFA Super Cup, Club World Cup and Premier League, while the club recorded pre-tax profits of £42million and turnover of £533m in February, shortly before the coronavirus pandemic took hold in England.

Liverpool owners Fenway Sports Group said Moore has "strengthened the club's business operations through his leadership" and wished him well ahead of a return to USA.

Moore said:  "I've loved every minute of the job here in Liverpool and feel privileged to have moved the club forward on its civic, commercial and community operations during the last three years. 

"To think we have won the UEFA Champions League, FIFA Club World Cup and now the Premier League title during my time here is way beyond my dreams. It's been a phenomenal achievement by the manager, players and staff. The team fully deserves the plaudits and recognition – and the memories I will cherish forever."

Moore will be succeeded as CEO by Billy Hogan, currently Liverpool's managing director and chief commercial officer, from September 1.

Vincent Kompany joined Manchester City in August 2008 – a little more than a week before the club's trajectory was irreversible changed by Sheikh Mansour's takeover.

The centre-back position, where long-serving club captain Kompany excelled and became a club great, has become a focus for the owner's transfer market millions over the intervening years.

However, there have been more expensive misses than hits, with City's struggles after Kompany's departure last year underlining how subsequent centre-back additions have rarely been anywhere near as successful.

Bournemouth's Nathan Ake is set to be the next man into the building, with City reportedly having agreed a £41million fee for the Netherlands international.

Here, we look at the major centre-back signings made by City during the Abu Dhabi era and how they panned out.

KOLO TOURE (ARSENAL £14M, JULY 2009)

A former title winner with Arsenal, Toure was given the captain's armband by Mark Hughes as club stalwart Richard Dunne was ushered out of the door. The Ivory Coast international struggled for consistency, however, and became a back-up option under Roberto Mancini. Arguably his most significant contribution to City's success was his mere presence encouraging brother Yaya to make the move to Manchester.

JOLEON LESCOTT (EVERTON £22M, AUGUST 2009)

Like Ake now and plenty of others in between, the fee City paid Everton for Lescott brought snorts of derision. But the England international established a rock-solid partnership with Kompany that underpinned the 2011-12 Premier League title triumph. City have never appeared quite so settled at centre-back since their alliance broke down the following year.

JEROME BOATENG (HAMBURG £10.5M, JUNE 2010)

Before going on to become one of Europe's elite central defenders at Bayern Munich, Boateng endured an unhappy year in Manchester. Primarily a right-back at that stage of his career, he found his path to the first team blocked by Micah Richards and Pablo Zabaleta and failed to settle.

STEFAN SAVIC (PARTIZAN £6M, JULY 2011)

Given he was fourth-choice in a season when Kompany and Lescott excelled, it was remarkable how quickly Savic carved out a reputation as an accident-prone liability. A year after signing him, Mancini had lost faith and decided to cut his losses. The steady hand in Atletico Madrid's formidable backline today is a player utterly transformed.

MATIJA NASTASIC (FIORENTINA £12M, AUGUST 2012)

Savic served as a makeweight in the deal to bring Nastasic to the Etihad Stadium. He performed impressively during a largely forgettable 2012-13 campaign, for which Mancini paid with his job. Successor Manuel Pellegrini did not much fancy Nastasic, with injuries further compromising the Serbia international before he moved to current employers Schalke in 2015.

MARTIN DEMICHELIS (ATLETICO MADRID £4.2M, SEPTEMBER 2013)

A loyal lieutenant for Pellegrini, Demichelis left Atletico Madrid without playing a game when the opportunity to reunite with the Chilean coach arose. Long of hair and short of pace, his introduction to the Premier League was fraught and Marcus Rashford skinning him to win a 2016 Manchester derby gave his City career a clanging footnote. However, the Argentina international's experience and steel was vital as the Blues edged out Liverpool in a knife-edge 2013-14 title race.

ELIAQUIM MANGALA (PORTO £42M, AUGUST 2014)

Unperturbed by a massive transfer fee, Mangala was majestic on his debut as 10-man City battled to a 1-1 draw against Chelsea. To be blunt, he never reached those levels again and was rarely close – a slapstick own goal in his next outing at Hull City proving far more representative of what was to come. A popular squad member, Mangala came up short in terms of form, fitness and temperament to unfortunately stand as one of the biggest transfer flops in Premier League history.

NICOLAS OTAMENDI (VALENCIA £32M, AUGUST 2015)

Mangala's struggles sent Pellegrini back into the transfer market for another big-money addition. Otamendi proved scarcely more reliable and the duo generally needed to be watched through one's fingers when paired together. Nevertheless, the Argentina defender's dogged determination saw him become a mainstay during the 100-point season under Pep Guardiola in 2017-18, when he deservedly won a place in the PFA Team of the Year. His error-strewn efforts since have worn increasingly thin.

JOHN STONES (EVERTON £47.5M, AUGUST 2016)

A flagship signing ahead of Guardiola's first season, Stones appears set for the exit door having failed to realise his undoubted potential. He oozed class during the early stages of back-to-back Premier League successes over the previous two seasons, although he tellingly spent large chunks of both run-ins on the sidelines. Injuries have not helped and Guardiola appears to have lost trust in a man who once looked set to be synonymous with his reign.

AYMERIC LAPORTE (ATHLETIC BILBAO £57M, JANUARY 2018)  

For now, Laporte remains City's most expensive central defender and the Frenchman has given considerable bang for their buck after the costly folly listed above. As important to City for his precise and varied range of left-footed playmaking from deep, Laporte is Guardiola's defensive rock. When his cruciate knee ligament injury last August followed a failure to replace Kompany, the writing for 2019-20 was on the wall.

Barcelona are set to re-sign Ansu Fati until 2024, while Real Madrid are eyeing "the new Raphael Varane".

Fati, 17, has been linked with a stunning move to Manchester United after a breakthrough season at Barca.

But the teenage forward seems to be going nowhere.

 

TOP STORY – BARCA TO EXTEND FATI STAY UNTIL 2024

Barcelona are set to renew Fati's contract until 2024, according to the cover of Sport.

Out of contract in 2022, Fati has scored eight goals in 32 games this season, leading to links to Manchester United.

Sport also reports Barcelona are prepared to listen to offers for attacker Ousmane Dembele.

ROUND-UP

- Are Real Madrid looking to sign a new defender? AS reports the LaLiga giants are closely following Monaco defender Benoit Badiashile, who it compares to Madrid star Raphael Varane.

- Raul Jimenez could be set for a Wolves exit. RTP Sport says Jimenez is on his way to Manchester United and Wolves are on the verge of signing Sporting Braga striker Paulinho as his replacement.

- Barcelona may be preparing to strengthen their defence. Mundo Deportivo claims three defenders – Bayern Munich's David Alaba, Paris Saint-Germain's Juan Bernat and Manchester City's Eric Garcia – are within range for the LaLiga giants.

- Tanguy Ndombele continues to be linked with a move away from Tottenham. Sky Sport reports Inter have made contact with Spurs about the midfielder.

- Where to next for Willian? Coming out of contract at Chelsea at season's end, the attacker's future is uncertain. Sky Sports says Chelsea, Barcelona and Inter Miami have made contract offers to the Brazil international.

- A player looking likely to leave Stamford Bridge is Kepa Arrizabalaga. The Sun reports the goalkeeper fears he has played his last game for Chelsea.

- After Dejan Lovren's departure, Liverpool continue to be linked with defenders. COPE reports the Premier League champions have made an offer of £9.1million (€10m) for Real Betis defender Aissa Mandi.

We could well be talking about Saturday's FA Cup showdown between Arsenal and Chelsea as the Olivier Giroud final.

The France striker will likely start for the Blues against his old club at Wembley after scoring twice in the semi-final win over Manchester United to take his tally in the competition to 16, a number only Sergio Aguero (19) can better since Giroud's debut.

Giroud has gone from a bit-part back-up looking for an exit to a crucial element of Frank Lampard's plans in 2020, particularly since the restart of football in England. As well as firing his side into the FA Cup final, he scored six Premier League goals - including vital ones against Aston Villa and Norwich City - to help his side secure a top-four finish.

"Now he is getting the absolute credit he deserves," Lampard said after the win over United, having hailed Giroud's professionalism while he was out of the first-team picture.

But why has the 2018 World Cup winner been seemingly underappreciated for so long?

Using Opta data, we delved back into Giroud's Premier League career for Arsenal and Chelsea to find out.

MONSIEUR RELIABLE

Giroud has scored 86 league goals in 238 appearances for Arsenal and Chelsea. Since his debut in the competition in August 2012, only Aguero, Harry Kane, Romelu Lukaku and Jamie Vardy have scored more.

Despite this, Giroud is no stranger to the substitutes' bench - he has only started 37 times in the league in the past four seasons. If you go back to May 2016 to extend that number to 38 - in other words, a season's worth of starts - Giroud has scored 32 goals. Taken in isolation, that would match the record tally for a 38-game season set by Mohamed Salah in 2017-18.

Giroud's minutes-per-goal rate in the Premier League is unsurprisingly solid: 154.3. It's not as good as Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang's (128.3), but it's better than that of Alexandre Lacazette (178.2) and only fractionally lower than Tammy Abraham's (151.6), all of whom have been regularly preferred to Giroud in starting line-ups.

Giroud has also performed well in the Expected Goals category. He has only had negative xG differentials (ie, scored fewer goals than should reasonably be expected given his chances) in three of his past eight league seasons. Twice, in 2014-15 and 2016-17, he has overperformed in terms of xG by a factor of more than five.

So, why has he not played more?

THE BIGGER PICTURE

One problem might be Giroud's xG differential has fallen in recent years.

Since his Chelsea debut on February 5, 2018, he has scored 13 league goals from an expected 15.5, giving him a -2.5 difference. That number is below the top 10 goalscorers in the league in that time and pales in comparison to Aubameyang, who has a differential of 7.2, or Tottenham's Kane (10.4).

Those numbers make sense when you consider Giroud's 'big chance' conversion rate for Chelsea is at 29.2, almost exactly the same as Abraham (29) and below maligned former team-mate Alvaro Morata (32.5). Likewise, his shot conversion rate, including blocked shots, is 12.9 - lower than Abraham (16.7) and Morata (14).

There was a similar theme for the Gunners. In his Arsenal days, Giroud's big chance conversion rate was 36.3 per cent, with his shot conversion rate at 16.3. Aubameyang (49.35 and 24.8) and Lacazette (39.2 and 18.4) rank far higher.

Perhaps it's not surprising, then, that Chelsea average more wins (58.7 compared to 55.2), more goals (1.9 compared to 1.7) and fewer goals against (1 compared to 1.3) without Giroud in the side.

RESURGENCE

Giroud told L'Equipe this week that he wants to keep playing until he is 36 and that the signing of Timo Werner by Chelsea is simply "an extra motivation" to perform.

Nobody, Giroud included, expects Werner to spend too much time on the bench at Stamford Bridge - so what can the former offer Lampard?

He has form, of course - he became the oldest player to score in five consecutive Premier League games in July and has found the net in each of his past seven appearances in all competitions - but his usefulness goes beyond his goal tally. After all, this is a player who started all but one of France's games at their World Cup triumph two years ago, despite not scoring.

Giroud offers a different sort of threat in the Chelsea attack, rather as he did for Arsenal. Since his debut, he has scored 31 headers in the Premier League, five more than any other player (Aubameyang has three).

In that same period, he has won 1,063 duels, averaging 6.5 per game for Chelsea at a success rate of 51 per cent, which is greater than any other current Chelsea or Arsenal striker. Similarly, his average of 4.9 aerial duels won per 90 minutes for Chelsea is more than double Abraham's tally, while he averages 7.7 touches in the opposition box per game compared to Abraham's 6.4.

These are not new elements to Giroud's game, yet they have been undervalued. He is a target man whose unselfish work can make teams tick, yet his knack for goals - when given the opportunity - speaks for itself.

Were fans allowed inside Wembley on Saturday, Giroud would be worthy of adulation from all sides of the ground.

Borussia Dortmund sporting director Michael Zorc said the Bundesliga club would be happy for Jadon Sancho to stay in 2020-21 as Manchester United reportedly try to negotiate a blockbuster transfer.

Sancho has been tipped to swap Dortmund for United and the Premier League giants are nearing a deal for the England star after securing their Champions League status, according to growing speculation.

Dortmund, however, are apparently unwilling to lower their asking price for Sancho as the German side seek £109million (€120m) from United.

Zorc addressed the rumours regarding Sancho on Thursday, saying: "Jadon is an outstanding footballer with a quota that I have never seen at this age.

"I think it would even stand up to being one of the largest in the industry if you look at its age.

"I would be happy if he would still play with us this season. And that's the current state of affairs.

"First of all we have to stick to the facts - and they are so, that we still have a contract with him until 2022."

Sancho left Manchester City for Dortmund in 2017 in pursuit of first-team football, and quickly established himself in the Bundesliga.

The 20-year-old scored 17 Bundesliga goals and supplied 16 assists in 2019-20 as Dortmund finished second behind champions Bayern Munich, while he netted 20 goals across all competitions.

Amid question marks over Sancho's future, former Manchester United forward and current Lyon captain Memphis Depay has reportedly emerged as a possible replacement for the Englishman at Dortmund.

Amanda Staveley, the businesswoman at the centre of a Saudi-backed bid to buy Newcastle United, has claimed opposition from other Premier League clubs caused the deal to break down.

On Thursday, a consortium led by the Saudi Arabia Public Investment Fund (PIF) pulled out of a bid to buy the Premier League club.

A proposed £300m purchase, backed by the PIF, whose chairman is Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, had been withdrawn – mainly due to the protracted nature of negotiations.

Staveley, whose PCP Capital Partners would have taken 10 per cent of the club, with another 10 per cent going to Simon and David Reuben, who are property developers, was at the centre of negotiations.

"We are heartbroken obviously," she told The Times. 

"Of course we do [blame the Premier League]. They had a chance, they say we have not answered all the questions and we have done so.

"But the other clubs in the Premier League didn't want it to happen.

"We are so heartbroken for the Newcastle fans as the investment that was going to go into the club, especially with everything happening with Brexit and COVID-19, would have been so important. This is catastrophic for them.

"It has been going on for so long and the opportunity was there."

A further complication to the deal came after Saudi Arabia were found by the World Trade Organisation to have enabled the piracy of Premier League matches being broadcast by beIN Sport.

Staveley, though, insists the hurdle could have been easily overcome.

"The piracy issue was not an issue but we tried to resolve it anyway," she said. "They [the Premier League] tried to make the state of Saudi a director. The PIF had agreed to become a director."

However, Staveley hinted there may be a possibility of reigniting the deal.

"Do we give up now? I don't know, there may be a way forward, but we have had to put a statement out," she added.

"I'm trying to deal with the facts and we had to make a decision today."

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