Tottenham’s sensational rebuild continues as Lamela, Chiriches arrive with others on way

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Tottenham certainly aren’t afraid to splash the cash this summer and they’ve been at it again on Friday as they prepare for life after Bale.

On Friday afternoon Spurs confirmed the signings of AS Roma attacker Erik Lamela for a club record fee of up to $45 million, while they also added Romanian central defender Vlad Chiriches, 23, for a deal in excess of $13 million.

Lamela, 21, is an exciting winger who has lit up the Eternal City with his speedy attacks and goalscoring exploits in Serie A. The Argentinian international will certainly get Spurs fans off their seats at White Hart Lane this season as Andre Villas-Boas adds further firepower to his attack. The addition of Chiriches was also needed as Tottenham struggled for cover at the back and the former Steaua Bucharest captain and Romanian international will not just sit on the bench, he’s a ball-playing center back who will challenge Michael Dawson and Jan Vertonghen for minutes straight away.

(MORE: Tottenham to sign Erik Lamela from Roma for $45 million)

Tottenham have now spent over $140 million this summer and a deal to bring in Ajax midfielder Christian Eriksen is also close to being completed as Spurs’ monumental rebuild continues.

Argentine international Lamela is by far the highest profile arrival over the summer and a huge onus will be on his shoulders to replace the brilliance of Gareth Bale. Of course Bale’s long-winded transfer to Real Madrid still hasn’t officially gone through but the Welshman is expected to complete his $135 million move by Monday’s transfer deadline, hence Tottenham’s massive spending spree.

Because let’s not forget before today’s flurry of additions Spurs had already spent almost $90 million in the transfer market with Belgian international winger Nacer Chadli, Spanish national team striker Roberto Soldado, Brazilian international midfielder Paulinho and French international midfielder Etienne Capoue all joining AVB’s revolution.

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Christian Eriksen is close to becoming Spurs’ seventh summer signing.

But if you look at the sheer overhaul at White Hart Lane this summer, Tottenham is building a squad than can realistically challenge England’s long-time “top four,” for many years to come. Lamela, Chiriches, Chadli, Capoue and Paulinho are all 25 and under, while Soldado is one of the most potent goalscorers in the European game.

Perhaps years from now people will look back at Tottenham’s decision to cash in on Bale and reinvest elsewhere as the best decision the club could have ever made.

So in a straight swap for the money they should receiver for Bale, Tottenham now have: two holding midfielders of international class, apacey Belgian international winger, one of the most prolific finishers in La Liga in Soldado, a young defender who is composed on the ball and an exciting winger that can carve open the opposition at will.

Yeah, that’s a great deal. And the decision to hire Franco Baldini as Technical Director really makes a lot of sense now. With his nous and connections in the European transfer market, Tottenham have spent big but spent wisely as they’ve invested all of the profit they’re set to get from Bale’s transfer. Tottenham Chairman Daniel Levy must be applauded for that appointment, as hand on heart he must’ve known Real would come calling for Bale sooner rather than later. Now Baldini has helped Levy build a talented, attack minded squad that’s capable of challenging at the very top of the English Premier League for years to come. Bravo.

But another big factor in all of this was the tough decision to let other long-term Tottenham servants leave. That was extremely necessary to complete AVB’s overhaul. The likes of Clint Dempsey, Scott Parker, Jake Livermore, Tom Huddlestone, Steven Caulker and William Gallas left “The Lane” as a new-look Spurs aim to challenge for the Champions League for the foreseeable future.

It’s always a risk to bring in so many new players at once but Tottenham had to take this calculated risk as they prepare to lose their main man to Real Madrid. Only time will tell if AVB’s revolution is a successful one. But one thing’s for sure, the board and chairman have backed the vision of their Portuguese manager 100 percent.

Now after huge investment, it’s top four or bust for Tottenham.

Mourinho slams critics, reveals team news; Fellaini update

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Jose Mourinho’s Manchester United are almost back to full strength but he has a few concerns.

The Red Devils host Brighton & Hove Albion at Old Trafford on Saturday (Watch live, 10 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com) with Mourinho now having just a handful of injury concerns.

Long-term absentees Paul Pogba, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Marcos Rojo have all returned to action over the past week, while Mourinho has a small defensive problem with Eric Bailly and Phil Jones out for the visit of the newly-promoted Seagulls.

“They are out. But we are okay because we have [Chris] Smalling, [Marcos] Rojo and [Victor] Lindelof,” Mourinho said.

He also said that Pogba isn’t yet able to play a full 90 minutes as he continue his recovery from a hamstring injury, while Zlatan is improving all the time after jumping off the bench in the victory over Newcastle United last weekend and the midweek defeat at Basel in the UEFA Champions League.

“I prefer him [Ibrahimovic] on the pitch than off the pitch,” Mourinho said. “On the pitch, he’s another option for us and he’s an option of quality. His physicality and his intelligence, the way he moves, the way he plays. But he needs time. We managed to give him 15/20 minutes in both matches, he needs more of that, so hopefully, tomorrow, we play him again.”

Mourinho also took exception to a question about the criticism his team receives about their defensive style of play, with the Portuguese coach pointing towards United’s superb home record this season.

“I don’t know who is more ambitious than us,” Mourinho said. “We played against Newcastle with Pogba, Rashford, Martial, Mata, Lukaku, the full backs are not full backs, everybody knows they are wingers, Antonio Valencia and Ashley Young. So, I don’t know what you want.”

United have won all six PL home games this season and have scored 19 goals, conceding just once. So, yeah, he has a point but they only real test they’ve had so far at home was against Tottenham Hotspur.

Aside from an injury update and hitting back at critics, Mourinho also gave an update on Fellaini’s contract situation and revealed he is concerned the Belgian midfielder may leave.

Fellaini, 30, is out of contract at the end of the season and Mourinho has praised the lanky midfielder on numerous occasions over the past few months. Is he worried Fellaini will leave for nothing?

“Yeah,” Mourinho said. “This is a discussion between the player and the board. I’m not involved in contracts, in deals, and I respect both – I respect the player because he has the right to decide his future. So I just wait wishing they will have an understanding, but it’s out of my control.”

Bayern fans unhappy with Champions League ticket prices

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MUNICH (AP) Bayern Munich fans were unhappy with the price of tickets for their team’s match at Anderlecht in the Champions League.

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The fans held banners during Wednesday’s game saying, “Are your necks not full? Is your greed now finally satisfied?”

A Bayern fan group, Club Nr. 12, issued a statement saying Anderlecht had made 85 percent of the tickets available to the German club’s fans priced at 100 euros ($118).

“Even by the standards of the generally high-priced Champions League, this represents a new dimension for a first-round game,” said the statement, which thanked Bayern for supplementing the tickets so fans had could pay 70 euros ($82.50).

Many Bayern fans avoided the trip to Brussels altogether, while 91 percent of more than 2,500 Club Nr. 12 members said in a survey that ticket prices were “completely unacceptable.”

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Anderlecht spokesman David Steegen told The Associated Press that Bayern fans were charged “exactly the same price” as home fans who bought single tickets to the game. He said fans who bought a three-game Champions League bundle were offered a reduction.

UEL roundup: AC Milan advances after big win; Arsenal, Everton fall

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Both Premier League sides fell in Thursday’s UEFA Europa League play, but for one side the result didn’t effect their progression into the next round.

[ MORE: Ex-Brazil forward Robinho handed nine-year prison sentence ]

Arsenal dropped a 1-0 result to Cologne, however, the Gunners still moved into the Round of 32 after their Group H counterparts, Red Star Belgrade and BATE Borisov settled for a scoreless draw.

Meanwhile, Everton’s 2017/18 woes continued on the day as the Toffees suffered a brutal 5-1 defeat at home against Serie A side Atalanta. The win secures Atalanta’s place in the knockout phase, along with fellow Group E club Lyon — who also won on Thursday.

AC Milan put up five goals of its own in a convincing win against Austria Wien, while Lazio, Nice and Red Bull Salzburg were among the other sides to move into the next round after picking up the necessary results.

Below are all of the scores from Thursday’s Europa League action.

Astana 2-3 Villareal
Konyaspor 1-1 Marseille
Rosenborg 0-1 Real Sociedad
Lazio 1-1 Vitesse
Viktoria Plzen 2-0 Steaua Bucuresti
Lokomotiv 2-1 Copenhagen
Zenit 2-1 Vardar
Red Bull Salzburg 3-0 Vitoria
Athletic Bilbao 3-2 Hertha Berlin
BATE 0-0 Red Star Belgrade
Ostersunds 2-0 Zorya
Koln 1-0 Arsenal
Nice 3-1 Zulte Waregem
Lugano 1-0 Beer-Sheva
Ludogorets 1-2 Istanbul
Braga 3-1 Hoffenheim
AEK 2-2 Rijeka
AC Milan 5-1 Austria Vienna
Lyon 4-0 Apollon
Maccabi Tel Aviv 0-2 Slavia Praha
Sheriff 1-0 Zlin
Partizan 2-1 Young Boys
Skenderbeu 3-2 Dynamo Kyiv
Everton 1-5 Atalanta

Ex-Brazil forward Robinho sentenced to nine years in prison

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Former Brazil international Robinho has been sentenced to nine years in prison after being convicted of rape on an Albanian woman back in 2013.

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At the time, Robinho was playing for Serie A side AC Milan.

The court decision came down on Thursday after the 33-year-old forward had failed to attend any court hearings in Italy, where the crime reportedly took place.

Robinho is believed to have acted in the crime with five other Brazilians, to which their whereabouts are unknown to this point.

Reuters has reported that Robinho is entitled to up to two appeals and “Italy would only launch extradition proceedings once this legal process is exhausted.”

The Brazilian is known for his club playing days at AC Milan and Manchester City, among other clubs in addition to his time with the Selecao. Robinho took part in the 2006 and 2010 World Cups with Brazil.