Cardiff’s business in the summer transfer window is completed

Neil Warnock has managed to recruit six players this summer in preparation for Cardiff’s first season back in the Premier League, four of which came at the start of pre-season. Camarasa & Arter have signed on transfer deadline day as Warnock sought other options to bring in central midfielders, following a failure to sign Marko Grujic from Liverpool.

Transfers in:

Player Transfer fee Previous club Position
Greg Cunningham £4m Preston North End Left back
Josh Murphy £11m Norwich City Winger
Bobby Reid £10m Bristol City Forward
Alex Smithies £3m (rising to 3.5m) QPR Goalkeeper
Victor Camarasa Season-long loan Real Betis Centre midfield
Harry Arter Season-long loan AFC Bournemouth Centre midfield


A quick look at all of the new signings:

Greg Cunningham

preston-north-end-v-reading-sky-bet-championship-deepdale-8-310x415 Aged 27, 6ft, Irish international

Previous clubs include Preston, Bristol City, Nottingham Forest, Leicester City & Manchester City

A reliable left back who has been one of the most consistent players in the Championship for the past 3 years, offering strong competition to Joe Bennett for a first team place.

He hasn’t played for the Republic of Ireland since 2013 but a continuation of his quality at Premier League level will surely be enough to earn him a call up.

Josh Murphy

Josh+Murphy+Norwich+City+v+Leeds+United+1XuZOdOHAcHl Aged 23, 5ft8, former England U20 international

A pacy, skilful winger with a keen eye for goal, Murphy bagged 11 goals and 3 assists for Norwich last year.

His twin brother, Jacob Murphy, is also a professional footballer who plays as a winger. They played together at Norwich for four years before Jacob moved to Newcastle in 2017.

Josh has played a season in the Premier League once before, in the 2013/14 season, the same year Cardiff were relegated. Norwich were also relegated the same year.

Bobby Reid

Bobby+Reid+Bristol+City+v+FC+Twente+Pre+Season+-2JGZgp-5ukl.jpg Aged 25, 5ft7, English born

Bobby has spent most of his career at Bristol City as well going out on loan to Cheltenham and Oldham, before 3 different loan spells at Plymouth.

He was one of the best strikers in the Championship last season, scoring 19 league goals in 46 games. He also netted 2 goals for Bristol City in the League Cup. They got to the semi-final, eventually losing to Man City over two legs.

He was named in the Championship team of the year, along with Sol Bamba.

As well as playing as a striker, he is also capable of playing at the tip of the midfield diamond in the no.10 role.

Alex Smithies

Smithies_QPR_Leeds Aged 28, 6ft1, former England U19 international

He’s only played for two different clubs in his career so far, Huddersfield and QPR.

Smithies has been linked to a number of Premier League clubs throughout his career, but this season will be his first chance to play at the top level.

He kept 7 clean sheets in 43 games for QPR last year, averaging 2.16 saves per game. His average claim success was 95%. Comparing to Etheridge who made 2.09 saves per game and had a 97% average claim success rate. He will be eager to battle for the no.1 spot with Etheridge.

Victor Camarasa

6ndwqST Aged 24, 6ft, former Spain U21 international

He signs from La Liga outfit Real Betis on a season-long loan. He has also played for Levante and Alaves.

Camarasa is a box-to-box midfielder who will bring more physicality to the current midfield.

He was on the bench against Cardiff last week in their final pre-season friendly but did not make an appearance due to playing against Bournemouth the previous day.

He has played with the likes of Marco Asensio, Hector Bellerin and Gerard Deulofeu for Spain’s U21 team.

Harry Arter

harry-arter-bournemouth-football-player-a Aged 28, 5ft10, Irish international

Arter has spent the last 8 years of his career at Bournemouth, as well as spells at Carlisle, Charlton, Woking, Staines and Welling. He joins Cardiff on a season-long loan.

He can play as a holding midfield player, with strong attributes in tackling and passing.

Although he didn’t feature much for Bournemouth last season, he has been a Premier League regular since their first season at the top in 2015.

Arter will be vital in Cardiff’s bid to stay up this season, offering Warnock a good option for the defensive role in midfield.

Cardiff’s squad list looks like this:
Goalkeepers: Neil Etheridge, Alex Smithies, Brian Murphy

Central defenders: Sean Morrison, Sol Bamba, Bruno Ecuele Manga, Matt Connolly

Full backs: Lee Peltier, Jazz Richards, Greg Cunningham, Joe Bennett

Central midfielders: Joe Ralls, Aron Gunnarsson, Loic Damour, Victor Camarasa, Harry Arter, Callum Paterson, Lee Tomlin, Stuart O’Keefe

Wingers: Josh Murphy, Nathaniel Mendez-Laing, Junior Hoilett, Kadeem Harris

Forwards: Kenneth Zohore, Bobby Reid, Danny Ward, Gary Madine, Anthony Pilkington, Rhys Healey

Four of those players have to be cut from the list to finalise Cardiff’s 25 man Premier League squad, and it would be likely be four of the following:
Rhys Healey, Stuart O’Keefe, Matt Connolly, Anthony Pilkington, Lee Tomlin, Kadeem Harris.

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The UEFA Nations League explained

Many have been left with confusion as to what the Nations League offers and what happens if we win/lose our games. I will explain all in this article as clearly and as briefly as possible.

  1. There are 55 teams split into Leagues A & B (12 teams each), League C (15 teams) and League D (16 teams). Wales are currently in League B, Group 4.
  2. In League A, the four group winners qualify to play in the Nations League Finals (two semi-finals and one final) in June 2019. The winner is declared UEFA Nations League Champion. (We don’t need to worry too much about this for now).
  3. As well as this, there are play offs for the group winners of League’s A, B, C & D in the same format (two semi-finals and a final). The winner of each qualifies for EURO 2020.
  4. These games will take place in March 2020, after Euro 2020 qualifying is completed in November 2019. The host of the final will be chosen between two of the semi-final pairings for each League.
  5. If the group winner has already qualified for EURO 2020 by means of regular qualification as we know it (starting in March 2019), they will be replaced by the following means (working from League D to A):
  • If the league has a group winner selected for the play-offs, the next best team in the overall ranking from a lower league will be selected.
  • If the league has no group winner available, the best team in the overall ranking in the same group will be selected.

Each group winner of League’s B, C & D get promoted to the league above, whilst finishing bottom of a group in League’s A, B & C results in relegation to the league below. This will only take action for the next “season” of Nations League matches, beginning in September 2020.

So to sum up, even if we fail to qualify for EURO 2020 by regular means of qualifying (March-November 2019), we still have a chance to qualify via the Nations League play-offs, by finishing top of the group ahead of Ireland and Denmark.
Or even finishing second with a high points total would see us compete for the play-offs in League A instead of League B (the likelihood being the vast majority of teams in Group A would have already qualified for EURO 2020). There are no play off matches through the normal means of qualification anymore, only via the Nations League. 

There will be 10 groups of 5 or 6 teams in EURO 2020 qualifying, with the top 2 teams of each group automatically progressing to the tournament finals, taking 20/24 places. The 4 remaining places will be awarded to the winners of the Nations League play offs for League’s A, B, C & D.

To finish with a few examples:

Example 1:

Let’s imagine we won our Nations League group by winning all games in September, October and November, ending with 12 points.

But then we end up finishing 3rd in EURO 2020 qualifying, missing out on standard qualification.

We would then enter the Nations League play offs (March 2020) to play one and/or two of the following teams from League B in the semi-final & final to qualify for EURO 2020 –
Austria, Bosnia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Northern Ireland, Russia, Rep. of Ireland, Slovakia, Sweden, Turkey or Ukraine.

There is a small possibility that if 8 of the above teams have already qualified, we would be in contention of playing the next best ranked team from League C (that did not win their group and did not qualify for EURO 2020) – Albania, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Estonia, Finland, Greece, Hungary, Israel, Lithuania, Montenegro, Norway, Romania, Serbia, Scotland or Slovenia.


Example 2:

This time we finish 2nd in our Nations League group with 9 points, and Denmark/Ireland finish top by goals scored. (9 points is more than likely enough to be the next best ranked team in League B).

Again, we end up missing out on EURO 2020 qualifying, so fingers crossed lots of teams in League A have already qualified, therefore giving us a chance of the play offs for League A instead of League B.

Let’s say Belgium won their Nations League A group and already qualified for EURO 2020, leaving the next best ranked team from League B to replace them. We would enter the Nations League play offs (March 2020) to play 2 out of 3 teams from League A that have not already qualified –
(Belgium), Croatia, England, France, Germany, Iceland, Italy, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Spain or Switzerland.


Prize Money

League participation fee Group winners
League A €1.5m €1.5m
League B €1m €1m
League C €750k €750k
League D €500k €500k
Nations League Finals (League A only)
Winner €4.5m
Runners-up €3.5m
Third place €2.5m
Fourth place €1.5m

How Wales could line up against Ireland & Denmark next month

Assuming all of our players are passed fit by the beginning of September, including Chris Gunter and Aaron Ramsey who are both currently sidelined with minor injuries, Ryan Giggs will have a plethora of options available to him for his first competitive game as Wales manager. Certainly more options than most Wales managers have had for 15+ years.

The past 12 months has seen a number of players burst onto the scene for Wales. Ben Woodburn’s debut against Austria last September was arguably one of the biggest impacts a young player has had in recent times. His performance against Moldova a few days later was also something to treasure, a burst of pace down the left wing to whip in a cross for Hal Robson-Kanu to finish for a vital win 2-0 away from home. Hard to believe at the time he was only 17 years old, outshining his star-player counterparts Gareth Bale and Aaron Ramsey on both nights.

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The trio of Woodburn, Brooks and Ampadu coming on against France in November 2017 was a very exciting moment for Welsh fans; a glimpse into what the future could hold following 3 very assuring performances against a country that would go on to win the World Cup just 8 months later.

Slipping slightly under the radar, a number of players made their debuts against Panama during the same month – Lee Evans, Tom Lockyer, Marley Watkins and Ryan Hedges. Whilst Ryan Giggs has given 5 players their first caps in his first 3 games including Chris Mepham, Connor Roberts, Billy Bodin, Matthew Smith and George Thomas. He has also re-introduced Harry Wilson and Declan John to the setup, both performing closer to the levels everyone has wished to see for some years during the China Cup in March.

However, Giggs hasn’t yet called up the following players (either to injury, being out of favour or “passport issues” in Ward’s case): Ethan Ampadu, Jonny Williams, Hal Robson-Kanu, Danny Ward, Neil Taylor and Emyr Huws.
He will have also been given headaches on whether to select Gwion Edwards, who has had the perfect start for Ipswich or Tyler Roberts, who has been given the no.11 shirt at Leeds and will no doubt feature before September.

As it stands, the following players have the best chance of being called up for the first set of Nations League matches:

Goalkeepers: Wayne Hennessey, Danny Ward, Chris Maxwell
Defenders: Ben Davies, James Chester, Ashley Williams, Chris Mepham, Chris Gunter, Neil Taylor, Connor Roberts
Midfielders: Aaron Ramsey, Joe Allen, Andy King, Joe Ledley, Lee Evans, Ethan Ampadu, David Brooks, Harry Wilson, Gwion Edwards
Forwards: Gareth Bale, Sam Vokes, Tom Lawrence, Ben Woodburn

Probable standby players: Declan John, Hal Robson-Kanu, Tom Bradshaw, Jazz Richards, Tom Lockyer, Marley Watkins, Adam Davies, Tyler Roberts (will likely be picked for the u21’s v Liechtenstein & Portugal). 

Giggs has more attacking players available to him than Chris Coleman ever did when he was manager. Here are 3 formations that he could use to get the most out of the players at hand.

1. Most commonly used system over the past 4 years, 3-4-3

  • Players are comfortable and very familiar with the system.
  • Offers the target man option with Vokes so Bale and Ramsey can be brought into play together.
  • Able to get the most out of Ben Davies in a wing back role as he has done successfully for Spurs in recent times.
  • Experience all over the pitch, aside from Mepham who will be helped by a team that has compiled 614 caps between them, with an average age of 29.

Screen Shot 2018-08-06 at 23.10.41

2. More experimental with a high press, 4-1-2-3

  • Can be very difficult for the opposition to track interchanging wingers.
  • Has Bale playing as a no.9 so his energy can be saved for attacks on the counter. Will also make use of his height and heading ability on crosses from either side.
  • Bale can also be implemented as a false 9, as he has done for Madrid in pre-season.
  • Versatile system with a flexibility to defend in a 5-4-1, with Ampadu dropping into the centre of the defensive line and the wingers creating a flat four with Allen and Ramsey.
  • Extremely dangerous on the counter with Ramsey bursting from midfield to link with the front three. Ampadu and Allen’s ability to pick a pass from anywhere will cause havoc for the opposition.

Screen Shot 2018-08-06 at 23.11.07

3. Attack minded with pace, 4-2-3-1

  • Makes use of the speed we have available in the squad with Wilson, Lawrence and Brooks all in the same team. Woodburn or Edwards could also slot in comfortably on either wing.
  • Again, featuring Bale as a no.9 so his energy can be mostly used in attack.
  • Has Lawrence in a no.10 role, which he has excelled in for Wales previously.
  • This system is probably best used if we are needing a goal with 20-30 minutes remaining.

Screen Shot 2018-08-06 at 23.11.39

The main issue against the Republic of Ireland in both games last year was scoring goals. You don’t have to be a football expert to work that one out.

Defensively it looked pretty comfortable throughout, even when Taylor got sent off in Dublin, the backline still looked okay. A sloppy bit of play and a lack of concentration led to conceding in Cardiff, so for me, formation number 2 looks to be the strongest option v Ireland. Offering a set of very attack-minded players on the break with pace (4-1-2-3/4-2-1-3), as well as the ability to slip into a defensive shape (5-4-1) that can transition into a counter quickly and effectively.

With the game being at home and Ryan Giggs’ first competitive match, he would love to get off to a winning start. I don’t think we should overestimate what Ireland have at their disposal, I believe that was the mistake last time and ultimately led to two games of stalemate. This doesn’t take away the fact that they are a very competitive, street-wise team with an excellent manager in Martin O’Neill. Wales will see the majority of possession in Cardiff and hopefully with some youth in the side, we are able to score a goal or two.

Against Denmark, Giggs will presumably employ a less attacking formation. I’d imagine we’d revert to 5 at the back (being his first competitive away game, the fact they hammered 5 goals into the Irish last year, as well as reaching the last 16 of the World Cup in Russia). Denmark also have a world class player in Eriksen, which Ireland do not have. Give him a yard or two and he will, nine times out of ten, punish the opposition.

There will be a more in depth tactical post on the upcoming Republic of Ireland and Denmark games closer to September.

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The Welsh players that stood out for their clubs on the opening weekend

On Friday night, Tom Lawrence started the weekend off in style with a rare bullet header to win the match in the 94th minute for Derby, securing Frank Lampard’s first win as manager. Harry Wilson also made his debut in the same game but wasn’t able to have an instant impact.

Gwion Edwards was the probably the highlight of the weekend, making his Championship debut for Ipswich and played with flair that surprised many. He managed to score just 5 minutes in and showed natural pace and trickery that will hopefully grab the attention of Ryan Giggs for the upcoming Welsh squad. Ellis Harrison also impressed in his first game for the club.

Skip to 1:30 on the video here to see a blistering run by Edwards from his own half almost end with a stunning individual goal.

Chris Mepham started the weekend off in style for Brentford in their 5-1 win and has notably been handed the no.6 shirt for the season, showing he can definitely become a key player this season for his club. Now that Chester, Williams and Mepham are all playing Championship football, it will be interesting to see who misses out in the upcoming Wales matches.

Swansea began the new Championship season with an away win over Sheffield United and looks as though Connor Roberts is now going to become the regular right back for the Swans. In the same game, Lee Evans played 90 mins for Sheff Utd and Woodburn came off the bench, but was unable to have an immediate introduction. Joe Rodon was an unused sub for Swansea.

New signing from Peterborough for Preston, Andrew Hughes looks to have become first choice left back. We will soon see if the 26 year old is a potential new rival to Neil Taylor and Declan John. Chris Maxwell has for now lost his first choice place to Declan Rudd in the Preston team.

Elsewhere, Christian Doidge scored a brace for Forest Green in League Two. George Williams also played in the same game but came off just after an hour.

In FC Twente’s final friendly, on loan signing Matthew Smith from Man City scored the third goal in a 3-0 win over Turkish Süper Lig side Göztepe.

Gareth Bale scored yet another screamer for Real Madrid on Saturday evening in a 3-1 friendly win against Juventus (without new signing Ronaldo).

 

What midfielders could become Cardiff City players by Deadline Day?

1. Andy King

Andy-King-Wales

A Premier League winner, a European Championship semi-finalist, 47 caps at senior international level and 94 Premier League appearances for Leicester and Swansea. 

It must be agreed that Andy King’s career on paper is very impressive for any professional footballer. However, he has found himself surplus to requirements for Leicester City, featuring only 11 times last season before being loaned out to help Swansea battle relegation from the top division. Swansea were unable to avoid the drop and King is now back at Leicester, looking extremely unlikely to feature in their side this year.

He would offer Cardiff versatility in midfield, be able to play as a no.10 having done so for most of his career for Leicester, as well as a deeper role as he done for Wales in the recent Euro and World Cup qualifying campaigns.

King would likely be a much cheaper option than most midfielders with his experience and wouldn’t demand crazy wages that Cardiff couldn’t pay.

 

2. Ryan Woods

Brentford-v-Queens-Park-Rangers-Sky-Bet-Championship

An incredibly intelligent midfielder that could no doubt make the big step up to the Premier League.

Ryan Woods has already racked up 206 league appearances for Shrewsbury and Brentford by the age of 24 in a career that has spanned just 6 seasons. Just over half of these games have come at Championship level.

He can play in a variety of positions across midfield because his wide range of attributes allow him to hold that flexibility. A great passer, strong tackler with a near-perfect sense of positioning  in midfield.

Brentford would likely demand a transfer fee of £10 million+ for Woods this summer and currently Swansea are favourites to sign him.

 

3. Alfred N’Diaye

Wolves-star-Alfred-N-Diaye-654544

The tough tackling central midfielder that Cardiff are desperate for in their bid to stay up this season.

He was instrumental in Wolves’ promotion to the Premier League last season and spent the summer playing for Senegal at the World Cup. He would no doubt provide much needed competition to Aron Gunnarsson and Loic Damour.

Neil Warnock has already publicly stated his interest in N’Diaye when Grujic became unavailable to sign.

“We have spoken to the club involved but I think the package is a bit beyond us,” Warnock said of N’Diaye.

Even still, if no other option becomes available Cardiff might have to increase the budget in a desperate attempt to bring in some more quality.

 

4. Scott McTominay

skysports-scott-mctominay-huddersfield-manchester-united_4234334

McTominay could be a potential season-long loan option from Manchester United after breaking into their first team last season, as well as debuting for the Scottish national team. 

I’m not sure how likely he could be to sign for anyone on loan this season, but looking at the options Man Utd have in midfield (Pogba, Fred, Pereira, Matic, Fellaini, Herrera, Mata) you would think McTominay is currently bottom of the central midfield pecking order.

He lacks experience at the highest level but showed glimpses of fantastic quality last season. He stands at 6″4, has a good first touch and is strong on the ball. He can play as a box-to-box midfielder or a holder that breaks up play. He would also provide an aerial threat at set pieces, something Cardiff will definitely look to exploit this year.

 

5. Daniel Amartey

daniel-amartey-leicester-city_1pm3m1q5fgi8s1ulejrzjnmtcf

A hard-working, strong midfielder eager to find his feet in the top division. 

Like Andy King, Amartey has found himself behind a number of central players at Leicester and could be another one to make a move away from the King Power Stadium before the deadline next week. An international for Ghana with 22 caps, he can also play at right back.

He has only played 37 Premier League games for Leicester since joining in January 2016, the same year Leicester won the title. He featured 5 times in the 15/16 league winning season. Amartey was massively hyped as being the successor to Kante after he left for Chelsea but things haven’t quite ended up that way.

His work rate can’t be doubted, he has just lacked quality in some areas (interceptions, key passes), which is often why he has found himself on the bench.

A loan would probably do all parties some good if Cardiff are still looking for midfield competition next week.

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