When Tim Sherwood brought Nabil Bentaleb into Tottenham’s first team, the new Spurs boss claimed there was a small chance the 19-year-old midfielder could eventually play for England. Even though he was mistaken, the speculation still highlighted the player’s uncertain international future. Having less than five years education in England before his 18th birthday, the Lille-born talent isn’t eligible to represent the Three Lions, but with France’s interest in the player having waned after his one under-19 appearance, the midfielder could still represent Algeria – the birth nation of his parents.
On Saturday, the Algerian federation confirmed Bentaleb would exercise that option, with Vahid Halilhodzic set to call in the Tottenham prospect in for the Desert Foxes’ March friendly against Slovenia. If all goes well, an academy player who hadn’t made a senior appearance before late December could go to the World Cup, with the Desert Foxes being one of five nations who will represent Africa this summer in Brazil.
From the FAF, via the BBC:
“Football Federation (FAF) president Mohamed Raouraoua met with (Bentaleb), who agreed to play for the country of his parents,” read a FAF statement.
“Bentaleb will be called up for the next phase of the national team’s preparations on 1 March, ahead of the match against Slovenia on 5 March in Blida.”
Nine matches into his Premier League career, it’s a little to early to say how much Bentaleb’s commitment will help Halilhodzic. Odds are he’ll be a non-factor this summer Brazil, though only 19, he could prove a cornerstone player down the road.
If he does cement a spot in the team, Bentaleb will join the large group of Algerian players born and trained in France. When the Desert Foxes faced Burkina Faso in November during Africa’s World Cup Qualification playoffs, only eight player selected by Halilhodzic were born in the north African country. The remainder, like Bentaleb, were born in France.
NBC News is reporting that at least 19 people have been killed and another 50 are injured following a possible suicide bombing at an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester.
Multiple senior U.S. intelligence officials who are monitoring British authorities told NBC News that preliminary reports indicate that a single explosion took place outside the arena on the southwest side opposite the train station. The explosion occurred as the concert ended, catching people as they exited.
Soccer personalities around the world are reacting to the horrible event.
If you didn’t realize Juan Cuadrado still belonged to Chelsea, you’re forgiven.
The Colombian attacker will complete his second season at Juventus after the UEFA Champions League Final against Real Madrid, and won’t be headed back to Chelsea afterwards.
Juve has purchased Cuadrado, and the fee is $22 million, and Juve will pay it over three seasons. Cuadrado, 28, is now signed through 2020 with The Old Lady.
Cuadrado first went on loan to Juve in Aug. 2015, and has eight goals and 18 assists in 83 career appearances with the club.
Chelsea bought Cuadrado from Fiorentina for around $32 million in the January 2015 transfer window, but made just 14 appearances with the club.
Sky Sports is reporting that Jermain Defoe may head back to the south of England following Sunderland’s relegation.
Defoe, 34, spent two seasons with Portsmouth between 2008-09, scoring 15 goals in 31 appearances.
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The 56-times capped England striker had a clause in his Sunderland contract allowing him to leave the Stadium of Light were the Black Cats to be relegated, as they were this season. He’d have little interest in dropping into the Championship given his desire to stay a part of the England squad ahead of the 2018 World Cup.
Bournemouth’s strike corps includes Joshua King, who scored the most goals of any player not on a Top Seven side this season. King’s 16 goals were one more than Defoe’s 15, though the latter scored just one goal following a brace against Crystal Palace on Feb. 4.
Antonio Conte took league and national honors from the League Managers Association on Monday night.
The Chelsea boss was named Premier League Manager of the Year and Manager of the Year after leading the Blues to the PL title and an FA Cup Final in his first year on the job.
Brighton and Hove Albion boss Chris Hughton nabbed another Championship boss of the year award after leading the Gulls to the Premier League. He also won the honor with Newcastle United in 2010.
The League One winner is Chris Wilder of Sheffield United. Wilder won the honor with Northampton Town last season.
In League Two, Paul Cook of Portsmouth was named the winner.