It has been two months since the 2019/20 Premier League was suspended due to the coronavirus. And while things haven’t changed much, the English top-flight is gearing up for a return in June as ‘Project Restart’ continues to gather pace.
With 92 games still remaining, the title race may be a foregone conclusion, but there is still plenty left to play for, as teams battle for the European qualifying spots while the relegation dogfight is far from decided.
In addition, with the transfer window not very far away, some of the players will be fighting for their futures at the club. We look at three of the biggest Premier League stars that will need to step up a notch when the season resumes in order to keep their jobs.
Tanguy Ndombele (Tottenham Hotspur)
Signed for a club-record transfer fee of £55 million, Tanguy Ndombele arrived to Tottenham Hotspur with a lot of expectations riding on him, but he has hardly been able to live up to them. The 23-year-old Frenchman started well, but recurring injuries kept hampering his growth into a regular at the club.
When given chances, Ndombele has underwhelmed, and as a result, been on the receiving end of some harsh criticism from manager Jose Mourinho. There have been speculations that all is not well between the Frenchman and his coach, leading to questions over his future.
There have been rumours of interest from Barcelona and PSG, but Ndombele is believed to be keen on proving himself at Tottenham. However, if he does not make a huge impact once the campaign resumes, the Frenchman could be staring at the exit doors just a year after he joined Spurs.
Jesse Lingard (Manchester United)
A key member of Manchester United under Jose Mourinho and in the early stages of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s spell, Jesse Lingard’s stock has nosedived quite rapidly over the past year. And time is running out for the Manchester United academy graduate to save his career at Old Trafford.
Lingard hasn’t scored a single goal in the Premier League since December 2018. While Solskjaer afforded the England international plenty of changes during the first half of the 2019/20 season, Lingard has pretty much fallen out of favour since the turn of the year. In 2020, the 27-year-old hasn’t started single one of United’s nine league matches, and has been left out of the matchday squad for five of those.
There have been reports of interest from Italy, while a few Premier League clubs are also looking at the Englishman. A United man through and through, Lingard will be intent on prolonging his stay at the club, but for that to happen, he will need to up his game in the backend of the season.
Ross Barkley (Chelsea)
For years, the England international has been hailed as one of the finest talents in the country. But season after season, Ross Barkley continues to underwhelm. It has been the case this term too, although injuries have held him back. The 26-year-old has featured in just 13 league matches, scoring no goals, although he has three assists.
Frank Lampard has a plethora of options in the centre of the park already, and with Ruben Loftus-Cheek back to full fitness, there will be even more competition for places in central midfield. With the transfer budget likely to be affected, the manager may have to offload a few players to generate funds to sign his targets.
Such a situation would put Barkley’s position in further threat. At 26, the former Evertonian has his best years ahead of him. And prior to the season getting suspended, he had been in decent form. The Englishman needs to knuckle down and put in a series of consistent, impressive performances if he is to remain a Chelsea player beyond this season.
Feature image courtesy: AFP / Oli Scarff
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