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

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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.

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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.

How will USMNT line up versus Costa Rica?

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Saturday brings a first look at the United States men’s national team in 2020, though Gregg Berhalter’s bunch won’t look anything like its best self.

The Yanks have an almost exclusively MLS roster for the match, with Hobro’s Christian Cappas, Wolfsburg II’s Uly Llanez and unattached 17-year-old Bryang Kayo in the fold.

Many of Berhalter’s best MLS stars won’t be in Carson either for the 3:55 p.m. ET Saturday kickoff. Jordan Morris, Jozy Altidore, and Michael Bradley are the biggest names.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]  

Ronald Gonzalez’s Ticos will be similarly hampered, although more of Costa Rica’s A-side play in MLS and domestically.

We’ll leave the breakdown of the visitors for a later date, but who will rep the U.S. in Saturday’s Starting XI?

The travel roster includes keepers Sean Johnson, Bill Hamid, and Matt Turner, as well as defenders Aaron Long, Walker Zimmerman, Reggie Cannon, Julian Araujo, Chase Gasper, Justen Glad, Mark McKenzie, and Sam Vines. Listed midfielders Sebastian Lletget, Jackson Yueill, Brenden Aaronson, Cappis, Kayo, and Brandon Servania are joined by forwards Gyasi Zardes, Paul Arriola, Jonathan Lewis, Jesus Ferreira, and Ulysses Llanez.

Goalkeeper is anyone’s guess, but Johnson’s got the most run of the three during the Berhalter era. The younger Turner or more accomplished Hamid may step in there.

It would be surprising to see any other center backs besides Walker Zimmerman and Aaron Long given what we know of Berhalter and his respect for regulars. Reggie Cannon should start at right back and it’s between Chase Gasper and Sam Vines for the left. We’ll choose Vines out of intrigue.

Jackson Yueill, Paul Arriola, Sebastian Lletget, and Gyasi Zardes are safe bets to start, and this would seem a spot to give Jonathan Lewis more than subs’ run. That leaves one spot, and we’re pegging Brandon Servania to be the one chosen of four midfielders aged 17-20.

There’s also the matter of whether FC Dallas striker Jesus Ferreira will be internationally cleared to play Saturday. We sure hope he will be!

How do you think Berhalter will line them up?


How Berhalter may go

Johnson

Cannon — Zimmerman — Long — Vines

Yueill — Servania

Arriola — Lletget — Lewis

Zardes


What we’d like to see

Turner

Cannon — Zimmerman — McKenzie — Vines

Yueill — Cappis — Servania

Arriola — Ferreira — Lewis

Watch our transfer deadline day show from 6-8 p.m. ET on Jan. 31, live on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com.

Report: Sheffield United in ‘advanced talks’ for $22M Norway star

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Sheffield United is ready to add one of the game’s brightest young talents to its blossoming Premier League side.

Norway midfielder Sander Berge is the name, and he’s been linked with Liverpool amongst others over the past few months.

Berge turns 22 next month and already has 20 caps for Norway in addition to 113 senior appearances for Genk in Belgium and 43 more for Valerenga in his home country.

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The defensive midfielder has chipped in six goals and four assists. He won the Belgian Super League with Genk last year and has a career-best four goals so this season.

It shows what success brings to a club, as Sky Sports reports that Berge turned down a move to Bramall Lane in the summer.

The fee is said to be $22 million, which isn’t small but completely reasonable given his stature for club and country.

This may move may join the Lys Mousset purchase as one of the Blades’ smartest bits of business, especially as Chris Wilder‘s men look for success on multiple fronts. Their success as a newly-promoted side is one of the great stories of the European season, and a place in Europe would be a fantastic achievement.

From The Yorkshire Post:

“It is going well, no doubt about it,” Wilder said. “On the Premier League front and in the Cup. You probably would not think it, but the win at Millwall has given me an enormous amount of pleasure in confirming, not even seeing, what my team is about. Players have come in with the likes of the skipper (Billy Sharp) and other players who are really driving it forward and want to produce individual performances and the atmosphere is good.”

Watch our transfer deadline day show from 6-8 p.m. ET on Jan. 31, live on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com.

Espanyol identify 12 fans who racially insulted player

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BARCELONA, Spain — Spanish club Espanyol says it has identified 12 fans who racially insulted an Athletic Bilbao player in the Spanish league last weekend.

Espanyol said on Monday in a statement that nine of the fans were club members and would face punishment that could include suspension or a full-time ban.

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It said a report of its analysis of the video images of Saturday’s game at RCDE Stadium were sent to authorities.

The club reiterated its “categorical condemnation of any displays of violence and racism.”

The fans made monkey noises directed at Athletic forward Inaki Williams, who is black. Television images showed Williams confronting the section of Espanyol fans who taunted him after he was substituted late in the game in Barcelona.

The Spanish league said it will seek a partial stadium closure for Espanyol and will raise the incident with the Spanish soccer federation’s competition committee, which handles disciplinary issues.

Transfer rumors: West Ham want $44M midfielder, Barca eyes Rodrigo

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West Ham United is being linked with a big transfer splash, and it’s not even a striker.

Uruguayan midfielder Nahitan Nandez is the man in question, and West Ham is reportedly tempting Cagliari with a $44 million offer this January.

Nandez, 23, arrived from Boca Juniors for less than half that fee this summer, and has chipped in a goal with three assists for Tommaso Giulini’s sixth-place Serie A side.

He’s got 31 caps for his national team, and is averaging 1.5 tackles per match with Cagliari. Nandez is also averaging a key pass and 1.1 successful dribbles per league outing.

Football-Italia says that Cagliari will try to tie Nandez to a new deal with a $44 million release clause if the move to West Ham is unsuccessful.

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Meanwhile Barcelona’s pursuit of a Luis Suarez replacement isn’t limited to Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, according to Marca.

Club president Josep Maria Bartomeu admits that Valencia striker Rodrigo Moreno is interesting his coaches.

“We don’t talk about players from other teams. But [Rodrigo’s] name is on the table of the coaches, and a replacement will arrive. I do not know whether it will be from Barcelona B or from outside. I like many players.”

The Spaniard has eight goals in 21 caps, and turns 29 in March. Rodrigo has four goals and 10 assists in 23 matches across all competitions this season.

Valencia beat Barcelona this weekend to send the Blaugranas three points back of La Liga leaders Real Madrid.