Tariq Lamptey’s Rapid Rise Continues in Dominant Newcastle Win

Tariq Lamptey, Miguel Almiron
Tariq Lamptey was named Man of the Match for his performance against Newcastle on Sunday afternoon | Pool/Getty Images

As Brighton eased to a 3-0 victory against Newcastle on Sunday afternoon, there was only name on the tip of the footballing world’s tongues.

Signed from Chelsea for a mere £3m in January, 19-year-old Tariq Lamptey has rapidly emerged into a star on the south coast.

His performance on Tyneside was limited to an hour due to injury, but boy did the teenager make an impact in the time he spent marauding down the St James’ Park right flank. ‘Football Twitter’ have fallen in love with Brighton’s live wire.

Within three minutes of kick-off, he’d won his side a penalty through a darting infield run from the flank which forced Allan Saint-Maximin into the most clumsiest of challenges. Lamptey’s low centre of gravity, ability to glide with the ball at his feet combined with a remarkable turn of speed makes him almost unstoppable in such situations, with his superb work allowing Neal Maupay to score Brighton’s opener amid a dominant display from Graham Potter’s Seagulls.

And it was Lamptey – deployed as a right wing-back in Potter’s well-drilled 3-4-1-2 – who was so key in establishing the visitors’ superiority.

He offered a constant source of progression down his right flank through those aforementioned dynamic dribbles, while the speed at which he progresses through the gears makes him incredibly hard to track off the ball. Thus, he was able to make both under and overlapping runs in the final third which made him an unpredictable proposition for the overwhelmed Jamal Lewis down Newcastle’s left.

The dynamic, meanwhile, he estabished with Leandro Trossard – who functioned in a free role behind Brighton’s front two and often found himself overloading Lewis with astute movements out to the right – proved mightily dangerous throughout.

The pair combined for Maupay’s second within the opening ten minutes, with Lamptey slipping the Belgian in behind the former Norwich full-back before Trossard picked out the Frenchman with a perfectly placed driven cross.

But it wasn’t just his electric nature going forward which helped Lamptey capture the attention of the masses – this was a dominant performance in all phases.

The 19-year-old’s remarkable engine means he’s the ideal profile for the wing-back role and allows him to contribute in all thirds. Defensively, he didn’t put a foot wrong.

His aggression and capacity to step out to an opponent in an instant allowed him to pin Lewis and ensure he didn’t pose a threat in Brighton’s third, but anytime the Magpies did break in behind before his forced exit early in the second period, Lamptey was the first man to deny them.

The teenager’s hustle to prevent Callum Wilson from pulling a goal back after breaking in behind the Seagulls’ back three was a celebration of his mature awareness, majestic burst of pace and defensive nous. He timed his tackle on the Magpies’ summer signing superbly.

The 19-year-old may be petit – too slight for some – but there’s no doubting his exceptional talent. He’s an entertainer. He plays the game with a smile on his face, no matter how many opponents are attempting to chop his legs in half – it was just the two Magpies who were booked for cynical fouls on the wing-back after he’d left them for dead.

If the second half of last season or the Chelsea performance weren’t enough, Lamptey’s showing at Newcastle was confirmation of his rare talent. He’s so unique, so dynamic and most importantly, remarkably entertaining.

Tariq Lamptey is the epitome of Graham Potter’s vibrant new-look Brighton.


Assessing Where Riqui Puig Could Go This Summer

Riqui Puig
Puig is off out on loan somewhere | Quality Sport Images/Getty Images

Barcelo – no, wait, sorry – Ronald Koeman wants to loan Riqui Puig out this summer.

For clarification, Ronald Koeman does not want Riqui Puig for the coming season.

Yes, we don’t quite get it either. Puig, in a very short space of time, has proven himself to be a darn fine footballer. Adventurous, gets you off your seat and is a real pleasure to watch.

Which apparently are not good enough qualities to play for Barcelona.

Working on the basis that he wouldn’t get adequate playing time in a midfield featuring Miralem Pjanic and Sergi Roberto, Koeman has decided to loan Puig out this season to gain valuable first team minutes. Baffling, bizarre and downright silly, he’ll have no shortage of suitors in the coming weeks.

Here’s who could – joyously – take him off their hands.

A hole in midfield has been left by Kai HavertzA hole in midfield has been left by Kai Havertz
A hole in midfield has been left by Kai Havertz | Pool/Getty Images

Many will dispute this choice immediately due to the fact they’re not playing in the Champions League, but of the sides in need of a creative force in midfield areas, Bayer Leverkusen rank high on the list.

Having lost Kai Havertz to Chelsea, there is a real dearth of flair in forward areas for the German side this season. They’ve brought in Patrik Schick as their new striker, but he will need chances to feed off and adding someone of Puig’s calibre in midfield is ideal. Whether he plays further forward or more disciplined, he still possesses the guile to break through lines much in the same vein as Havertz did.

Would Europa League football be good enough for Barcelona and Puig, though? That’s the question. Yet there could be no question marks over whether he’d play each week.

Marco RoseMarco Rose
Mönchengladbach got off to a losing start in the Bundesliga | DeFodi Images/Getty Images

Of the options in Germany with Champions League football, Borussia Mönchengladbach are the only ones where you could expect Puig to play week in week out. Their style is nothing like the one Barcelona employ, based on quick breaks and structure without the ball that allows the forward to be played in immediately.

But, he would play.

That could be crucial. It would also provide an experience to the 21-year-old, taking him out of his comfort zone and forcing him to adjust to new philosophies and approaches. Would be a big change, but a fun one.

Antonio ConteAntonio Conte
Conte craves creativity | Soccrates Images/Getty Images

Christian Eriksen’s move to Serie A has been, well, underwhelming to say the least. He is yet to click in Antonio Conte’s setup and the midfield trio have been caught lacking in a few departments. As good as the three can be, there is little in the way of mobility there, which Puig could bring to the table.

With Arturo Vidal on his way to Milan as well, the familiarity of a former teammate could suit his integration. Inter keep stockpiling older players and Conte will need some younger flair to help balance out his ageing starting lineup.

With any combination of the two between Nicolo Barella, Roberto Gagliardini, Eriksen and Vidal alongside him, he could be given more license to float through the lines and provide the service for Romelu Lukaku and Lautaro Martinez.

Paulo Fonseca might fancy a bit of Puig actionPaulo Fonseca might fancy a bit of Puig action
Paulo Fonseca might fancy a bit of Puig action | Alessandro Sabattini/Getty Images

Moving across Italy, another side in the second tier of European football but would provide a good option for Puig are Roma. While not similar in style, the loss of Nicolo Zaniolo to another desperately unlucky injury has left them weak in midfield.

Their Serie A opener against Verona ended goalless, with the midfield duo of Jordan Vertout and Amadou Diawara leaning heavily on the defensive side of things. Perhaps allowing Lorenzo Pellegrini to play wider and Pedro likewise on the other flank, there is a way to incorporate Puig into midfield.

Julen LopeteguiJulen Lopetegui
Puig could help Sevilla in the Champions League | Pool/Getty Images

Of all the destinations Puig could head, staying in Spain seems the most likely. We’ve seen at both Barcelona and Real Madrid that the rest of La Liga can be used as their training camps for certain players, who can then return much improved or be moved on elsewhere.

Sevilla is an option, but it’s also a risk considering Barcelona are now crap and they will have competition far greater than in previous seasons. Would sending Puig there be considered as helping a direct rival, or would it work in their favour since he can play against everyone except them?

The Champions League aspect will help the case for him to go there.

Martin Odegaard was superb for Sociedad last seasonMartin Odegaard was superb for Sociedad last season
Martin Odegaard was superb for Sociedad last season | DeFodi Images/Getty Images

The loss of Martin Odegaard back to Madrid will have hurt Sociedad, who are embarking on a Europa League campaign this season and will need to add more flair into the centre of the park to compete on multiple fronts.

Puig could go there and will play each week. He’s better than the options they’ve got and will not need too much time bedding in given his familiarity with the division. Socieded play a fun brand of football that uses a very high line, one that allows the forward players in the side to operate in the areas they want and encourages the midfielders to be active on the ball.

A well run club with a commendable footballing philosophy, and perhaps even the tutelage of David Silva, would suit nicely for Puig.


Kai Havertz Honoured to Follow in Michael Ballack’s Footsteps at Chelsea

Kai Havertz
Kai Havertz is excited to follow Michael Ballack’s career | Matthias Hangst/Getty Images

Chelsea midfielder Kai Havertz has admitted he is delighted to have been given the chance to emulate childhood hero Michael Ballack by moving to Stamford Bridge.

After months of negotiations, Chelsea finally agreed a deal worth an initial £62m to lure Havertz away from Bayer Leverkusen, with manager Frank Lampard eager to add the 21-year-old to his young squad.

Kai HavertzKai Havertz
Havertz was Chelsea’s biggest signing of the summer | Richard Heathcote/Getty Images

Havertz was already clued up on Chelsea by the time he arrived, having watched Ballack tear it up for the Blues between 2006 and 2010, and he admitted (via the club’s official website) that he bases a lot of his game on his hero.

“Ballack was a very big player and he also played for Leverkusen and Bayern Munich and he was always like a hero when I was younger,” he said. “I liked him as a player very much and he played in my position.

“He was a player that scored many, many goals and of course I try to score goals like him. I’m thankful to play in the club which he played for.”

Michael BallackMichael Ballack
Ballack enjoyed four great years at Chelsea | Michael Regan/Getty Images

Ballack wasn’t the only Chelsea midfielder to inspire Havertz’s decision. The midfielder also admitted that Lampard, who formed a dominant duo with Ballack during his playing career, played a huge part in convincing him to make the move.

“The coach had a big impact on my decision,” Havertz added. “I loved Chelsea my whole life and I always loved the team as a kid, so it was not a very tough decision for me.

Kai Havertz, Frank LampardKai Havertz, Frank Lampard
Havertz is excited to work with Lampard | Pool/Getty Images

“Chelsea is a very big club and I’m very grateful and thankful to be here now. It’s a big project here and I love to play with young players.”

Lampard recently spoke highly of Havertz, insisted he confident that the young German has what it takes to become a real star at the Bridge.

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Newcastle 0-3 Brighton: Player Ratings as Superb Seagulls Ease Past Sorry Magpies

Neal Maupay, Aaron Connolly
Brighton shone at St. James’ Park | Pool/Getty Images

Brighton eased to a 3-0 victory over a woeful Newcastle side on Sunday afternoon.

The Seagulls raced into a 2-0 lead courtesy of a Neal Maupay brace within the opening ten minutes, before strike partner Aaron Connolly rounded off a dominant display with a wonderfully taken strike in the second period.

Let’s have a gander at some player ratings on what was a dire afternoon for the hosts.

Aaron Connolly, Jamaal LascellesAaron Connolly, Jamaal Lascelles
Jamaal Lascelles struggled against the Seagulls | Pool/Getty Images

Karl Darlow (GK) – 4/10 – He just doesn’t instil a lot of confidence in the Newcastle defence. Looked pretty unconvincing throughout.

Javier Manquillo (RB) – 6/10 – Was possibly the pick of a bad bunch. Mitigated Solly March’s threat down the left and was sound in one-v-one situations. Offered little quality going forward, mind.

Jamaal Lascelles (CB) – 3/10 – Not the skipper’s finest afternoon. Constantly outfoxed by Brighton’s crafty strike duo and erratic positionally throughout. Couldn’t assert himself as he often does.

Federico Fernandez (CB) – 4/10 – Struggled to cope with the pace of Connolly throughout, while Maupay’s movement certainly caused the Argentine problems. A change might be needed at the heart of Steve Bruce’s defence.

Jamal Lewis (LB) – 3/10 – A tough afternoon against the lightning Lamptey. The 19-year-old’s aggression pinned the former Norwich man and meant he wasn’t able to have an influence past the halfway line. Shawn Michaels’d by Yves Bissouma in the closing stages which summarised his 90 minutes. Tough.

Jonjo ShelveyJonjo Shelvey
Jonjo Shelvey couldn’t assert his authority on the contest | Pool/Getty Images

Jeff Hendrick (RM) – 4/10 – Rarely involved throughout. The Irishman provided his typical tenacity down the flanks but offered little in possession. Ended the contest in the double pivot where he saw more of the ball but this was a pretty forgettable performance.

Jonjo Shelvey (CM) – 5/10 – Booked – like the rest of the Newcastle team – for a strong tackle on Tariq Lamptey. Failed to control proceedings as he has the capacity to do against an impressive Seagull midfield.

Isaac Hayden (CM) – 4/10 – Overwhelmed in the middle of the park and wasn’t his typical disruptive self. Made poor angles which meant he rarely saw the ball and limited the Magpies’ central progression.

Allan Saint-Maximin (LM) – 4/10 – Gave away penalty for a clumsy challenge on Lamptey. Miserable afternoon compiled by first-half injury which forced him off.

Lewis Dunk, Callum WilsonLewis Dunk, Callum Wilson
Callum Wilson was marshalled expertly by Lewis Dunk | Pool/Getty Images

Callum Wilson (ST) – 5/10 – Anonymous in the opening period. Battled hard against Lewis Dunk with little reward. Spurned glorious headed opportunity just after the hour mark.

Andy Carroll (ST) – 4/10 – Wasn’t aware he was on the field before his half-time substitution. Even if he is 8’6″.

Ryan FraserRyan Fraser
Ryan Fraser made his home debut | Alex Pantling/Getty Images

Ryan Fraser – 6/10

Miguel Almiron – 4/10

Joelinton – 5/10

Ben WhiteBen White
Ben White was once again assured as part of Brighton’s back three | Pool/Getty Images

Mat Ryan (GK) – 6/10 – A dominant Seagull display meant the Aussie shot-stopper was merely a spectator for the most part.

Ben White (CB) – 8/10 – Looks like he’s played in the top flight for a decade. So assured, so composed and so… good. Impressed as part of back three before formation switch following Lamptey’s departure saw him line up as the right-back in a four. Versatile.

Lewis Dunk (CB) – 8/10 – A couple of wayward headers but his typically stout self for the most part. Didn’t give Newcastle’s initial front two a sniff. Fantastic positionally.

Adam Webster (CB) – 7/10 – The former Bristol City defender’s settled nicely on the south coast after a tricky start. Typically smart in possession and positionally astute in a demanding role as the exterior centre-back in a three.

Graham Potter, Tariq LampteyGraham Potter, Tariq Lamptey
Tariq Lamptey was named Man of the Match despite playing less than an hour | Alex Pantling/Getty Images

Tariq Lamptey (RWB) – 9/10 – Flew down that right flank like an Apollo 11. Incredibly dynamic and such a threat in all phases. A supreme talent who looks at home as a wing-back. Shame his afternoon was cut short due to injury.

Yves Bissouma (CM) – 8/10 – Such a shame he was sent off in the closing stages because this was another immense showing from the Seagulls midfielder. Controlled the contest throughout.

Steven Alzate (CM) – 7/10 – The youngster played a mature, underrated role which set his side up for success. He was tasked with keeping the Seagulls compact and providing protection against the counter and totally mastered his role, Georginio Wijnaldum-esque. Efficient in possession as well.

Solly March (LWB) – 7/10 – Plenty of industry down the left flank and constantly improving in the defensive phase. Overshadowed by Lamptey on the opposite side but a fine showing nonetheless.

Leandro Trossard (AM) – 8/10 – Excelled in a free role off the front two. Movement was brilliant to find himself in pockets of space in behind Newcastle’s midfield and set up Neal Maupay’s second with a well-timed run down the right flank and well-weighted delivery. Unfortunate not to get on the scoresheet.

Neal MaupayNeal Maupay
Neal Maupay’s early brace set the precedent for a comfortable victory | Pool/Getty Images

Aaron Connolly (ST) – 8/10 – A key outlet for Graham Potter. The gritty Irishman offers a source of in-behind penetration and his goal was superb. A selfless display.

Neal Maupay (ST) – 9/10 – The Frenchman’s established a great dynamic with strike partner Connolly. They’re so aware of where each other’s movements and respective positioning, which was laid bare for Brighton’s third goal. Maupay’s early brace was assured and his ability to not only drop between the lines to create but to doggedly run channels also was on full display.

Adam LallanaAdam Lallana
Adam Lallana entered the fray in the second period | Alex Pantling/Getty Images

Dan Burn – 6/10

Adam Lallana – 6/10

Alireza Jahanbakhsh – N/A


Manchester City Remain Hopeful of Sealing Kalidou Koulibaly Deal But Want to Avoid Bidding War

SSC Napoli v Teramo - Pre-Season Friendly
Koulibaly could finally be on his way out of Napoli | Danilo Di Giovanni/Getty Images

Exclusive – Manchester City remain hopeful of sealing a move for Napoli defender Kalidou Koulibaly, but are reluctant to be drawn into a bidding war.

The 29-year-old has carved out a reputation as one of the very best centre-backs in the world over the past few seasons, making close to 250 appearances for Gli Azzurri since signing in 2014.

Kalidou KoulibalyKalidou Koulibaly
Napoli want £70m for their prized asset | Emilio Andreoli/Getty Images

He has long been linked with a move away from the Stadio San Paolo, with Liverpool, Manchester United and countless others pursuing him in previous transfer windows.

Now, though, the centre-back appears most likely to end up at City, who have been on the lookout for defensive reinforcements for some time. They have already poached Nathan Aké from relegated Bournemouth and want one more addition to complement their current options.

Koulibaly is their top target, though a source has told 90min that City do not want the transfer saga to drag out much longer. The Cityzens do not like being drawn into protracted, head-to-head battles for players but are desperate to get their man.

Although City’s interest is strong, they are likely to face significant competition to sign the Senegal international. Chelsea and Paris Saint-Germain are both sniffing around and 90min reported earlier this month that United could make a play for the defender if they manage to sell both Phil Jones and Chris Smalling.

Reports that Paris is Koulibaly’s preferred location are overstated. Sources close to the player have told 90min that he is open about his future – as long as his new side are Champions League contenders.

So far, no team has come close to meeting Napoli’s £70m valuation, though this could change soon. If Koulibaly does end up at the Etihad Stadium, he will become City’s sixth signing of the window, after the aforementioned Aké, Pablo Moreno, Yan Couto, Issa Kaboré and Ferran Torres.