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Pochettino: Spurs won’t sell any key players this summer

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Two seasons in a row now, Tottenham Hotspur has been the only club to come close to challenging for the Premier League title in any month that comes after February.

[ WATCH: Kane scores 4 to take charge in Golden Boot race ]

Most impressively, Tottenham have done it with a squad of players that’s A) the youngest in the PL (average age: 25.7 — nearly a full year younger than Liverpool, the PL’s second-youngest squad), and B) heavily reliant upon a core of English players (five of 11 first-choice starters — four of whom made their England debut since Mauricio Pochettino took over at White Hart Lane).

With success — make no doubt about it, what Spurs have done under Pochettino has been a major success, trophies or no trophies — comes recognition. With recognition comes interest from any number of “bigger” clubs from all around Europe. While the likes of Manchester City, Manchester United, Barcelona and Real Madrid may be interested in the likes of Harry Kane, Dele Alli, Toby Aldeweireld and Kyle Walker, Spurs won’t be forced into any sales that weaken the first-team squad — quotes from the BBC:

“The players we want to keep will be here next season. If any players leave, it’s Tottenham’s decision.”

“I think we are so, so, so calm about our big players and they are so happy here. We are building a very exciting project. The players must feel they are part of us and want to share in our success.”

On the other end of the transfer market, there won’t be any shortage of players lining up to sign for Spurs this summer. With one or two key additions to the squad another title challenge looks to be no the cards, in the event of a serious uptick in results at Wembley Stadium, of course.

[ RECAP: Kane gets 4, Son gets 2; Spurs increase record points total ]

As for Kane, who bagged four goals on Thursday to take total control on the 2016-17 Golden Boot race, Pochettino remains convinced (with evidence spewing out of his eyes, ears and nose) that the 23-year-old academy product ascended to world-class heights long ago:

“Harry Kane’s a special player, he loves Tottenham.”

“Harry Kane means a lot for the team. I tell you always that he’s one of the best strikers in the world. His performances show that we are right.”

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s PL coverage ]

Typically quick to praise his teammates and place team success above his own statistics and accolades, Kane was rightly beaming after his four-goal performance and basking in the possibilities of winning his second straight Golden Boot:

“It is the first time in my professional career that I’ve scored four. There has been a bit of build-up in the race for the Golden Boot and I wanted at least one or two to put the pressure on, but to get four is amazing.

“I think this is my best season. I missed 11 weeks and worked hard during my injury to ensure I came back in better shape than I started.”

Man City into League Cup final (video)

Nick Potts/PA via AP
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  • City outshoots Bristol 28-5
  • Sane, Aguero put MCFC up 2-0
  • Pack, Kent pulls two back for Bristol
  • De Bruyne answers in stoppage
  • City wins 5-3 on aggregate

A pair of late goals put a scare into Man City, but the Premier League leaders scored just before and right after halftime to insure its first leg lead en route to a 3-2 win over Bristol City at Ashton Gate Stadium on Tuesday.

City wins 5-3 on aggregate in the League Cup semifinal, with Sergio Aguero, Leroy Sane, and Kevin De Bruyne scoring in the second leg.

Pep Guardiola moves to within 90 minutes of his first significant title as Man City boss, and will face either Chelsea or Arsenal on Feb. 25 at Wembley Stadium.

Marlon Pack and Aden Flint scored for Bristol City.

[ MORE: Full stats, box score ]

Sane scored in the 43rd minute and Sergio Aguero struck less than four minutes after the teams returned from the halftime break.

An errant John Stones clearance helped Bristol to the scoreboard in the 64th minute, with Pack scoring the goal.

Flint then nodded home in stoppage time to give the Robins hope for a miracle win, but new contract hero De Bruyne scored within a minute to burn those hopes to the ground.

Bristol would be in the Football League Championship playoffs if the season ended now, sitting in fifth place.

Midfielder Lassana Diarra joins PSG on short-term deal

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PARIS (AP) Paris Saint-Germain has made its first signing of the winter transfer window by hiring midfielder Lassana Diarra on a short-term deal until June 2019.

The 32-year-old holding midfielder will once again try to revive his career in the French league after a successful stint at PSG’s bitter rival, Marseille, that ended last year.

The much-traveled Diarra, who was born in Paris, then played for a few months with United Arab Emirates club Al Jazira.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

Diarra, a former Chelsea, Arsenal and Real Madrid player, won English and Spanish league titles in 2006 and 2012. He has 34 caps for France and featured at the European Championship in 2008.

His strong performances with Marseille earned him a recall from France, but he eventually pulled out of Didier Deschamps’ squad for Euro 2016 because of a left knee injury.

“I am very happy to have signed for my hometown club,” Diarra said. “Paris Saint-Germain represents a lot to me and, with the international dimension the club has taken in recent seasons, it is every player’s dream to play here. I am lucky enough to make this dream come true.”

Diarra joined on a free transfer and his signing won’t affect PSG’s bank accounts, which are under UEFA’s scrutiny.

PSG is under pressure to sell players to balance the books after splashing out 402 million euros ($473 million) on forwards Neymar and Kylian Mbappe last year. That led to Qatari-owned PSG being placed under investigation by UEFA for potential breaches of Financial Fair Play rules.

Palace adds again with towering Polish center back

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Crystal Palace is delivering on Roy Hodgson‘s depth demands at injury-hit Selhurst Park.

[ MORE: Transfer rumor roundup ]

A day after signing Erdal Rakip on loan from Benfica, the South London set has added big Polish center back Jaroslaw Jach on a permanent deal.

Jach, 23, comes from Zagłębie Lubin and has played 17 matches, scoring a goal for the fifth place side in Poland’s Ekstraklasa. Like Palace, he’s risen through the lower leagues to reach Poland’s top flight and now the Premier League.

Jach was capped twice by Poland in November, going 180 minutes in a 1-0 loss to Mexico and a scoreless draw with Uruguay

Here’s Jach, from CPFC.co.uk:

“I know it is the club from south London and has an outstanding manager, Roy Hodgson, who led team England in the past,” he added. “Every game is a sell-out which is one of the greatest things, and I have also heard that even though there are many clubs in London, the biggest derby games for fans are those with Brighton, which makes it one of the biggest games in the season. I hope one day I will be able to win such a game.”

LIVE, League Cup semi: Bristol City host Man City

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Bristol City host Manchester City in the second leg of their League Cup semifinal on Tuesday, with the Robins 2-1 down from the first leg at the Etihad Stadium.

The winner will play either Arsenal or Chelsea in the final at Wembley, with the London rivals locked at 0-0 as they play their second leg at the Emirates Stadium on Wednesday.

[ LIVE: Follow Bristol City-Man City ]

Lee Johnson’s Bristol City are the heavy underdogs, once again, but their fairytale run in the League Cup has seen them oust four Premier League opponents previously in Watford, Stoke City, Crystal Palace and Manchester United. Surely the runaway Premier League leaders won’t be Bristol City’s next scalp…

Pep Guardiola has named a strong starting lineup as he aims to reach his first domestic cup final as Man City boss, with Claudio Bravo replacing Ederson in goal the only major change.

Bristol City, who sit in fifth place in England’s second-tier, five points off the automatic promotion spots, have two absentees with goalkeeper Frank Fielding missing out, while defender Nathan Baker is only on the bench after late fitness tests.

We are all just waiting (and hoping) for Bristol City to score so they can put up an awesome goal GIF…

Click on the link above to follow the action live, while below are the starting lineups for both teams. We will have analysis and reaction on the semifinal second leg right here on Pro Soccer Talk.

LINEUPS

Bristol City: Steele, Wright, Flint, Magnusson, Brownhill, Pack, Smith, Walsh, Bryan, Paterson, Reid. Subs: Wollacott, Baker, Eliasson, Kent, Engvall, Taylor, Diedhiou

Manchester City: Bravo; Walker, Stones, Otamendi, Zinchenko; Fernandinho; Bernardo, Silva, De Bruyne, Sane; Aguero. Subs: Ederson, Danilo, Kompany, Sterling, Gundogan, Mangala, Yaya Toure