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


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.

source: Getty Images
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.

Klopp’s blockbuster arrival brings hope back to Liverpool

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 09:  Jurgen Klopp is unveiled as the new manager of Liverpool FC during a press conference at Anfield on October 9, 2015 in Liverpool, England.  (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)
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LIVERPOOL – Jurgen Klopp is box office in every sense of the word.

His relaxed demeanor makes him likable, yet he also exudes self-confidence, something he will need a lot of in the coming weeks and months as he tries to get Liverpool’s players to believe in his methodology and drag the illustrious club back to the top of the Premier League and get them challenging for trophies at home and in Europe.

[ MORE: Dazzling Anfield arrival ]

Klopp, 48, put on a dazzling show during his glitzy unveiling as Liverpool’s new boss on Friday at Anfield, declaring himself as the “Normal One” when asked of his comparison to Jose Mourinho, while he also revealed that he hopes to turn Liverpool “from doubters into believers” during his time in charge on Merseyside.

Being in the packed press conference in the Centenary Stand at Anfield on Friday, there was a palpable buzz and sense of excitement in the air as the British, German and world ‘s media descended on Anfield. The terraced rows of streets in and around Anfield were busier than usual. All roads led to Anfield. All roads led to Klopp. He didn’t disappoint as he delivered a flawless display of controlled optimism.

Previously he had described this opportunity to manage Liverpool as the “most interesting job in world football” at the moment. Everyone was interested in what he had to say, as he strode into the presser with a beaming smile on his face, wearing a a pair of jeans and a stylish unbuttoned shirt complemented with a trendy blazer. Make no mistake, signing Klopp to a three-year deal is a major coup for the Reds as any of Europe’s giants would have snapped him up had a managerial vacancy arisen over the past four months since he left Borussia Dortmund.

[ MORE: Klopp’s 10 best quotes

Friday marked the biggest managerial appointment for Liverpool in a decade, as all the stops were pulled out to make sure the German coach was given a royal welcome at Anfield, a pantheon of world soccer which he is eager to wake up from its trophyless slumber. After the presser, Klopp was ushered onto the pitch as he posed for pictures in front of the huge $165 million renovation of the Main Stand which will add over 7,000 corporate seats at Anfield and help the club generate extra revenue to compete with the four clubs currently above them — Arsenal, Chelsea, Manchester City and Manchester United — in the Premier League’s rich list. Liverpool’s American owners Fenway Sports Group (FSG) will be celebrating their fifth anniversary at the club next week. This appointment was one of their biggest moments, if not the biggest, to date under John W. Henry and Co.

Klopp has previously spoken about his ability to coach with feeling. On Friday he spoke with feeling, with humor and engaged the audience as mutterings such as “he’s enthralling, gripping, isn’t he?” could be heard among the press. His enthusiastic mannerisms on the sidelines and his ability to conjure fervor from fans and players has been well documented. He is a man who is at one with the working-class people who make up the vast majority of the local fanbases for his previous clubs Mainz and Dortmund, and now his new club, Liverpool. He seems tailor-made for this adventure at Anfield.

Jurgen Klopp at Anfield is unveiled as the new manager of Liverpool FC during a press conference at Anfield on October 9, 2015 in Liverpool, England.
Klopp engages with the press.

In the past three seasons, hope of success flickered brightly at first, then intermittently, before fading in recent months. Liverpool failed to win a single piece of silverware under Brendan Rodgers, with the Northern Irishman finally shown the exit door last Sunday. In Rodgers’ place stands a coach who has been here before.

At Dortmund Klopp rebuilt the team from relegation candidates to two-time Bundesliga champions in his seven years in charge. He led them to the UEFA Champions League final (where they lost narrowly to German rivals Bayern Munich at Wembley) and built a young squad who was hungry to succeed and bought into his methods of high-pressing early in games and pacey counters later.

The similarities between the situation Klopp now finds himself in at Liverpool are strikingly similar to the one he acquired at Dortmund when he arrived from Mainz in 2008.

“We did in Dortmund what we had to do, to improve the players, to work for a common idea of play. That is what we did and its the same thing we want to do here. They are not the same players of course,” Klopp told NBC Sports ProSocerTalk. “These players from Liverpool are better, more experienced in some ways and younger in other cases. Everything is okay, I am here. I am not here only because LFC was calling. I believe in the potential of this team. Four or five strikers you can work with when they are not injured, midfielders is really good, defenders experienced and very young, goalkeeper is really good. Everything is there.

“Now we have to work. The problem in football is that you can be as good as you want but you always have to play against other teams. You have no influence on how good they are before the game. But in the game, if they are better, you have to bring them to your level. On your level you can kill every team. If they are not so good, you have to win. That is football.”

A towering six-foot four-inch veteran of the 2. Bundesliga during his playing days, Klopp’s soccer brain has been revered and he takes his staff wherever he goes. Longtime allies Zeljko Buvac (who he nicknames ‘the brain’) and analyst Peter Krawietz have joined Klopp at Liverpool, as he aims to replicate the success he had at Dortmund. He also revealed he is comfortable with the transfer committee which many blamed for Rodgers’ downfall. “It’s enough for me to have the first and last word.”

Liverpool’s 25-year wait for a 19th league championship may not end anytime soon but under Klopp FSG have got the man they were after. As he mentioned when saying: “I am not here only because LFC was calling. I believe in the potential of this team,” Klopp has placed his managerial reputation on the line to try and stir a sleeping giant of English soccer with his raucous celebrations and infectious enthusiasm set to grace the touchline for at least the next three years at Liverpool. If this initial appearance before the press is anything to go by, Klopp will bring plenty of life to the PL.

He has become the second German to coach in the Premier League, after the short-stint of Felix Magath at Fulham almost two years ago, and Klopp’s English is very, very good as he engaged with the press and put on a flawless show of charisma, style and confidence.

“In Jurgen Klopp we have appointed a world-class manager with a proven track record of winning and someone who has the personality and charisma to reignite this football club and take the team forward,” Liverpool chairman Tom Werner said in a statement. “He possesses all the qualities we are looking for in a manager, he is a strong, inspirational leader, who has a clear philosophy of high energy, attacking football. Critically, he is also a winner and someone who can connect with and enthuse our supporters.”

The club. The fans. The players. Klopp blends it all together perfectly. He gets what a club like Liverpool means to the fans and now shares their hopes and dreams.

Perhaps one of the most poignant quotes to come from Klopp was that he wants his players to believe, not be downtrodden by, the huge expectation placed on them by the fans and the media worldwide.

“It is a really important thing that the players feel the difference from now on,” Klopp said. “They have to think they can reach the expectations of all the people, of all the fans, of the press. We have to change from doubters to believers. We have to change our performance, of course, but stop thinking about money. It is only about football.”

There was no football played on Friday as Klopp will get to work early next week when the majority of his squad arrive back at Melwood from international duty. But the talking he did on Friday, with charisma oozing from his comments in both English and German, impressed and proved he is relaxed and capable of delivering success to a club which has been crying out for it for a very long time.

Euro qualifying Friday preview: Lopsided scores in the offing?

Harry Kane, England
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Spain can book its place in France with a win over Luxembourg on Friday, just one of several match ups of giants and minnows on the docket.

The real Group C battle is for second in the group, as Ukraine should easily pick up three points against basement-dwelling Macedonia, which would keep its Top Two hopes alive should Slovakia drop unlikely points at home to Belarus.

Roy Hodgson has set England’s sights on an undefeated run through group play, and that could crush Estonia’s hopes in Group E. Sitting fourth, two points back of Slovenia, Estonia has a tough duo of matches to finish (Switzerland is next).

The Swiss, for their part, have No. 6 San Marino, while Slovenia can stay in they playoff driver seat with a win versus Lithuania.

Will Austria be on cruise control, given it’s won Group G in a landslide? Montenegro will hope so, but their hopes also hinge on Sweden and Russia picking up historic upset losses on the road.

Macedonia vs. Ukraine
Slovakia vs. Belarus
Spain vs. Luxembourg
England vs. Estonia
Slovenia vs. Lithuania
Switzerland vs. San Marino
Liechtenstein vs. Sweden
Moldova vs. Russia
Montenegro vs. Austria