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EXCLUSIVE: West Ham, Leeds chasing durable midfielder dreaming of second Prem shot

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Former West Ham starlet Josh Cullen is being hunted by a host of English clubs looking to bring him back to England, TEAMtalk understands.

Cullen was on West Ham’s books between 2015-20, though spent the vast majority of his time there out on loan. Following a successful two-year stint with Charlton Athletic, Cullen joined Belgian giants Anderlecht in 2020 in a permanent deal worth just £500,000.

The 25-year-old made just three appearances for West Ham but has now become a leading light in Belgium under Vincent Kompany.

The 16-times capped Ireland international has become one of the most dominant midfielders in the Belgian top-flight. However, that now leaves Anderlecht facing a battle to retain his services.

We understand that Wolves, Crystal Palace, Southampton, Leeds United, Burnley, Norwich, Fulham and Sheffield United have all been following his progress closely.

Furthermore, it is also understood West Ham have been keeping abreast of his development ahead of a potential return to London.

Cullen’s current deal expires in 2023, and he admitted in an interview last month in Belgium that a move back to England was something on his mind.

Josh Cullen dreaming of fiercer competition

“Of course it would be a dream to play in the Premier League again,” he said.

“As a footballer, you need to want to play against the best players in the best league, and the best league is the Premier League.”

Josh Cullen operates primarily in a defensive role in central midfield. That position can often push footballers to the limit regarding injury, though Cullen has shown he has the durability to withstand the rigours of the engine room.

Indeed, the 25-year-old has played the full 90 minutes in all but one of Anderlecht’s league matches this season.

READ MORE: ‘Worst kept secret in football’ – Agent spills Declan Rice fate with Man Utd and Chelsea named

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Tom Barkhuizen breaks his silence following Preston North End departure

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After five-and-a-half years at Preston North End, Tom Barkhuizen’s time at Deepdale has come to an end with the publication of the club’s retained list last week.

The 28-year-old was plucked from League Two side Morecambe in 2017 by the Lilywhites, with then-manager Simon Grayson believing that he could nurture Barkhuizen into a Championship player.

Barkhuizen was able to make the step up instantly, and under Grayson’s successor Alex Neil he barely missed a Championship game in the following seasons, but the 2021-22 season was one of frustration for winger.

Quiz: 24 facts every Preston North End supporter should know about their club – Can you score full marks?



In what year was PNE officially founded as a football club?




After featuring just 13 times in the league and suffering from multiple injuries which curtailed his season in January, Barkhuizen was among the crop of senior North End players set to be released this summer, despite Peter Ridsdale stating back in November that the club were in negotiations to extend his deal.

Barkhuizen has already been linked with a plethora of clubs since his release, including Derby County, Bolton Wanderers and Rotherham United, per an Alan Nixon report, and he’s broken his silence since the announcement of his departure last week with a message on Instagram.

“The last 5 and a half years have changed my life and I’ve made some brilliant friends along the way,” Barkhuizen wrote.

“Looking forward to what the future holds this summer. Thanks for the memories.”

The Verdict

Barkhuizen always gave 100 per cent for North End and spoke his mind in interviews, which may have annoyed some at the club, but it showed that he cared.

He was for sure at his best in his first couple of seasons at Deepdale, and who can forget March of 2017 where he scooped the Championship Player of the Month award just two months after arriving from Morecambe?

The last 12 or so months though will have proved frustrating for Barkhuizen, who was moved out to a wing-back position under Frankie McAvoy and he never looked completely comfortable with it.

A fresh start may be what Barkhuizen needs altogether, and he will no doubt find a club that gives him the opportunities he feels like he deserves.

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Injury Update on Mo Salah and Availability for Champions League Final

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Liverpool recently lifted the FA Cup after defeating Chelsea in a thrilling penalty shootout on Saturday, but more than the joy of winning the cup, fans were left worried about the injury scare of Mo Salah and Virgil van Dijk. Jota replaced the Egyptian international in the 33rd minute of the match after he sat on the pitch due to a groin injury.

The injury of Salah brought back the horrors of the 2018 Champions League Final for the Reds, who had already suffered heartache at centre stage. Initial expression from players and coaches also added some tension among the fans. Everyone wondered if the Egyptian king would play again this season or not.

According to their physio, Chris Morgan, he confirmed Salah suffered a groin injury before he sat on the pitch. Thankfully it was just tightness after the results from his scan, and he is likely to be available for the last of Liverpool’s matches.

Speaking to the media after the emphatic win, Klopp also addressed the situation by providing a positive update on both players who left the FA Cup Final prematurely, talking about their availability for the next game.

Salah was positive, which probably had a lot to do with his teammates sealing the victory for all of them and spoke after the match and said “I’m good”, after being asked about his injury. He also added that he would be available for the Champions League Final later this month.

Salah Is Key to Liverpool’s Quadruple Dreams

The Egyptian king has been a standout performer for Liverpool this season with 30 goals. The Reds are still in the race for the Premier League title and are in the UEFA Champions League Finals, and Salah will be their trump card in pursuit of glory.

Jürgen Klopp will now have to deal with a big injury crisis going into a must-win encounter against Southampton on Tuesday as Virgil van Dijk, Mo Salah, and Andrew Roberson are unlikely to be available for 90 minutes.

In hindsight, his main focus will be on the UEFA Champions League Final at the end of the month in Paris. However, like in the FA Cup Final and Carabao Cup Final, Klopp has shown how he has the whole squad almost operating on the same wavelength and all sharing a common goal.

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