Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images

Pochettino: Dembele “next to Ronaldinho, Maradona”

Leave a comment

Mousa Dembele‘s been appreciated as a midfielder for sometime, but the Belgian is getting as many rave reviews as any other non-scorer these days.

Tottenham’s middle man got the twice-over from his manager on Friday, as Spurs boss Mauricio Pochettino prepares for Crystal Palace.

[ MORE: Europa League draw ]

Calling Dembele a “genius,” Pochettino heaped praise on the 30-year-old.

“I’ve told you, I put him next to Ronaldinho, Maradona, Okocha – players I’ve been lucky enough to play with. For me he’s one of the unbelievable talents in the history of football.”

The temptation is to make a joke about Dembele being next to Ronaldinho and Maradona in the lobby of an awards ceremony, but the player has been dynamite for some time.

The advanced stats, for what they’re worth, aren’t incredibly kind to Dembele aside from his club-best 93 percent passing percentage and average of 2.2 successful dribbles per game. Still, it’s improbably hard to ignore the eye test, and Dembele passes that one every time.

Spurs are off to Selhurst Park for a Sunday match with Palace (Watch live at 7 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com).

Transfer rumor roundup: Coutinho out, Mahrez in; Hart on the move

Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images
Leave a comment

A roundup of all the day’s biggest transfer rumors involving clubs in the Premier League, and elsewhere…

[ MORE: Thursday’s transfer rumor roundup | Wednesday | Tuesday ]

With Liverpool set to demand $220 million for Coutinho — and Barcelona apparently only just short of willing to pay it — the rumor mill has moved a step further in the Brazilian’s six-month-long transfer sage, now focusing on which players Liverpool will spend all that money to replace Coutinho and further improve the squad.

One could surmise that the Reds’ $100-million deal for Virgil Van Dijk was a proactive piece of business with a massive windfall of cash expected to arrive either in the next three weeks or in six months’ time. If so, that leaves just one critically important need in the Liverpool squad: the attacker to replace Coutinho. According to French newspaper L’Equipe, it’ll be Leicester City star Riyad Mahrez, whose transfer fee could also approach nine figures. Mahrez spent most of the summer trying to engineer a move away from the King Power Stadium, but to no avail. Suffice to say, he’d be receptive to the idea.

[ MORE: Liverpool, Man United advance thanks to late winners ]

Joe Hart moved away from Manchester City because Pep Guardiola was never going to play him, and now it appears the former/perhaps-still-current England no. 1 will have to leave West Ham United, where he’s currently on loan, because David Moyes doesn’t appear interested in playing him either. According to the Daily Mirror, the three aforementioned parties could all agree to terminate his current loan in order to facilitate a move — whether temporary or permanent is unknown — to Newcastle United, where Rafa Benitez attempted to sign Hart in the summer before losing out to West Ham.

[ MORE: Mourinho hits back in ongoing feud with Conte ]

According to Sky Sports, Mousa Dembele could leave Wembley Stadium/the new White Hart Lane for a spell at the San Siro — for either AC Milan or Inter Milan. Both of the Milan giants still-somewhat-big-sides are reportedly interested in the 30-year-old Tottenham Hotspur midfielder who has spent a worrying portion of the last two seasons dealing with nagging foot injuries which have turned into long-term absences. Tottenham would likely prefer to wait until the summer to move Dembele on, unless an obvious replacement were to unexpectedly become available and make him surplus to requirements.

[ MORE: FA investigating potential racial incident between Firmino, Holgate ]

Elsewhere, Liverpool have Emre Can‘s contract situation hanging over their heads, as they face losing the 23-year-old German midfielder on a free transfer this summer. According to the Guardian, Juventus have already offered Can a five-year contract which would pay him $115,000 per week, plus a “sizable signing-on fee.” Liverpool paid just $13 million to sign Can in 2014, thus it wouldn’t be the biggest loss on their original investment, though his value is easily twice — if not three times — that in the current transfer climate.

Transfer Rumor Roundup: Dembele, Van Dijk to Arsenal

Getty Images
Leave a comment

With a move for Thomas Lemar taking plenty of time, a report from the Daily Express states that Arsenal may turn their attention to Moussa Dembele instead.

[ MORE: Auba a good fit for Chelsea?

Dembele, 21, impressed at Celtic last season in both the Scottish Premiership and the UEFA Champions League with the French forward scoring 32 goals in 48 games.

Celtic aren’t keen to sell but value Dembele at around $40 million and as Arsenal bang their head against a brick wall with Monaco wanting over $60 million for Lemar, perhaps the French U-21 international would be a good addition and add more pace to Arsene Wenger‘s attack after he already spent $68 million on Alexandre Lacazette this summer.

Per the report, Arsenal are growing increasingly worried that Alexis Sanchez may leave this summer (newsflash, Arsene, it may well happen) and are planning ahead, but with Olivier Giroud also attracting plenty of interest it appears the Gunners’ frontline is about to get a serious overhaul.

Dembele is a wanted man after last season but is he ready to perform week in, week out in the PL? Don’t forget, just over 12 months ago he was still at Fulham in the Championship. Still, a young, exciting French forward is right up Wenger’s street.


The same report also claims that Arsenal are also lining up a bid for Virgil Van Dijk. And in true Arsenal fashion they’re stating the Gunners are offering $58.7 million for the Dutchman… even though every other club has been told Saints want close to $80 million for him.

Van Dijk, 26, has yet to play for Saints in preseason as he recovers from a serious foot injury which saw him miss the second half of last season.

Liverpool have apologized over their pursuit of the Dutch center back earlier in the summer and with Southampton said to be unwilling to sell to Jurgen Klopp‘s men and putting a price of over $80 million on his head, this offer from Arsenal seems slightly farcical.

Are they gambling that Van Dijk is unhappy about how the Liverpool situation and the Saints’ captain wants out? If the gamble pays off then Arsenal would get themselves one oft he best center baccks in the Premier League who is capable of playing out of the back and surely he’d slot into their newfound 3-4-3 formation perfectly.

If they can push the price towards $70 million then maybe, just maybe, they can land another huge deal in the transfer market this summer.

Mauricio Pochettino: Harry Kane could be back in training next week

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Harry Kane has missed four straight matches for Tottenham after suffering an ankle injury in a win over Sunderland in September.

[ STREAM: Every PL game, NBC Sports ]

However, it looks like the Spurs striker could be back on the pitch soon according to manager Mauricio Pochettino, who says he hopes to get Kane back in training in the coming days.

“At the end of this week, maybe he can start to train and touch the grass a little bit. He’s very positive, he’s doing well. We hope that next week he’ll be training on the grass, on the pitch – still not with the group – but we’re happy in the way he is recovering from his injury.”

Despite the absence of the club’s lead man, Tottenham has not lost since Kane’s injury, including an impressive 2-0 win over league-leading Manchester City.

[ MORE: Chelsea sign huge Nike deal ]

The introduction of Kane back into the team’s lineup should only help a side that looks to be legitimate title contenders with 17 points through seven matches. Tottenham boasts the best defense in the Premier League, having allowed just three goals this season.

In other Tottenham injury news, Mousa Dembele suffered a recurrence of a foot injury in training that leaves his status in doubt for Saturday’s match against West Brom.

Tottenham’s Dembele banned for six games

Getty Images
1 Comment

Tottenham Hotspur midfielder Mousa Dembele has been handed a lengthy ban by the English Football Association.

Dembele, 28, was not seen by officials but was spotted by cameras gouging Diego Costa in the eye during Tottenham’s heated 2-2 draw at Chelsea on Monday which ended Spurs’ title hopes.

[ MORE: Leicester news after PL win ] 

The Belgian international will now miss the remaining two games of the 2015-16 Premier League season as well as the opening four games of next season.

The maximum ban for his charge of violent conduct is seven games but Dembele has decided to contest the length of the ban.

Below is a statement in full from the FA:

Mousa Dembélé will serve a six-match suspension with immediate effect after he committed an act of violent conduct which was not seen by the match officials but caught on video.

The Tottenham Hotspur midfielder accepted the charge but denied The FA’s claim that the standard punishment of three matches which would otherwise apply to this offence was clearly insufficient.

An Independent Regulatory Commission upheld The FA’s claim at a hearing today [Friday 6 May 2016] and ordered that an additional three-match suspension was appropriate.

The player was involved in an incident with Chelsea’s Diego Costa in or around the 45th minute of the fixture at Stamford Bridge on Monday [2 May 2016].