Spurs confirm capture of Pochettino, assistants from Southampton

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Mauricio Pochettino has been one of the big names tipped to leave St. Mary’s for ages, and now the manager is officially headed away from Southampton to become the new boss at Tottenham Hotspur.

It’s a five-year deal for Pochettino, whose name circulated in rumor mills almost as often as talented young players Adam Lallana and Luke Shaw.

From tottenhamhotspur.com:

Commenting on the appointment Chairman Daniel Levy said:

“In Mauricio I believe we have a Head Coach who, with his high energy, attacking football, will embrace the style of play we associate with our Club. He has a proven ability to develop each player as an individual, whilst building great team spirit and a winning mentality.

“We have a talented squad that Mauricio is excited to be coaching next season.”

Pochettino, 42, guided Southampton to eighth place in the Premier League this season after spending 2009-12 at Espanyol, where he spent the majority of his playing career as well.

Our own Joe Prince-Wright speculated on what a Pochettino-led Spurs unit could and would look like on Monday, and here’s what the boss himself had to say:

“This is a Club with tremendous history and prestige and I am honoured to have been given this opportunity to be its Head Coach.

“There is an abundance of top-class talent at the Club and I am looking forward to starting work with the squad.

“Tottenham Hotspur has a huge following across the world and I have great admiration for the passion the fans show for this team. We are determined to give the supporters the kind of attacking football and success that we are all looking to achieve.”

And he’s keeping the Southampton band together, bringing the staff of four assistants that helped him at both St. Mary’s and Espanyol. The question now becomes whether he’ll be bringing along any of his celebrated young Saints.

Like the hire?

Premier League notes: Wanyama, Bolasie return after long layoffs, Sakho injured

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Two Premier League clubs saw a pair of players return to the field after long spells on the sidelines.

Tottenham revealed that Victor Wanyama took part in training on Monday for the first time since suffering a knee injury in late August, which has kept him off the field since then. Wanyama started in both of Tottenham’s first two fixtures of the season before the injury.

[ MORE: Premier League stats ]

At the same time in the northwest of England, Yannick Bolasie returned to the field for Everton’s reserves for the first time since suffering a torn ACL last December against Manchester United. Everton manager Sam Allardyce hinted recently that Bolasie could even make the first team subs bench before the end of the calendar year as he continues his rehab.

(more…)

Report: Sporting KC on verge of signing French midfielder Croizet

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Sporting Kansas City could be adding some European flair to its midfield this offseason.

According to multiple reports, the MLS club is in negotiations to sign French midfielder Yohan Croizet, who currently plays for Belgian first division side KV Mechelen. Croizet, who reportedly cost Mechelen a transfer fee worth more than $1 million, has started all 15 games he’s played for his side this season but has been substituted off on seven occasions and Mechelen are currently struggling in the league, sitting in 13th place with 18 points from 18 games.

Croizet hasn’t played since November 17, and appears on his way out.

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Sporting Kansas City coach Peter Vermes, a Hungarian-American, is no stranger to the European market and has brought over plenty of diamonds in the rough from Europe to star with Sporting KC. Some previous examples, though in different positions from Croizet, include current winger Gerso, Krisztián Németh, Uri Rosell, and Aurelien Collin.

It will be interesting to see where Croizet plays in the Sporting KC side should it sign him, and how he works with Benny Feilhaber, who is turning 33-years old in January.

Arsenal lands Ostersunds in Europa League draw

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Arsenal will face a team with an English connection in the UEFA Europa League Round of 32.

The Gunners were paired with Swedish side Ostersunds in the Europa League knockout stage draw Monday, with matches set to be played on February 15 and February 22. Ostersund are managed by Englishman Graham Potter, who played in the Championship and lower in England before starting his managerial career with Ostersunds in 2010 in the fourth tier of Swedish soccer.

[READ: UCL draw+analysis]

Ostersunds surprised many earlier this year winning the Swedish Cup to qualify for the Europa League, and then advanced out of a group that included Hertha Berlin and Athletic Bilbao.

It represents an interesting draw for Arsenal, which will have to balance the squad during a tough February. The weekend prior to the first-leg match is the second leg of the North London derby against Tottenham, and following the second match with Ostersunds is a showdown with Manchester City.

Here’s a look at how the rest of the draw shook out:

Champions League last 16 draw sets up huge clashes

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The Round of 16 draw for the UEFA Champions League did not disappoint.

[ MORE: Champions League schedule

We have some monster clashes with Chelsea facing Barcelona, once again, and the reigning champs Real Madrid paired with the favorites Paris Saint-Germain.

With five Premier League teams remaining, Tottenham have been handed a tough draw against Italian champions Juventus who were also runners up in the UCL last season, while Manchester City, Manchester United and Liverpool will all be rather happy with their draws.

United have been drawn against Spanish side Sevilla, Liverpool will face FC Porto and Man City clash with Basel.

Below is the draw in full, while UEFA has also released the schedule for the games with Man City, Spurs, Liverpool and Man United all playing their second legs at home.