Kevin De Bruyne: I didn’t play at Chelsea because my transfer fee wasn’t high enough

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Jose Mourinho, player whisperer. Jose Mourinho, player ostracizer.

Which one is it? To hear many of the Chelsea boss’s current and former players tell it, the Portuguese manager was/is the key to their careers. But to hear a select few former pupils tell it — Iker Casillas, anyone? — Mourinho’s unorthodox methods were actually a detriment to their careers.

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The latest player to speak out against Mourinho is former Chelsea midfielder Kevin De Bruyne, who these days is tearing the Bundesliga apart (eight league goals and 12 assists) for Wolfsburg. De Bruyne moved to Wolfsburg from Chelsea in January 2014 after making just three appearances under Mourinho.

The question is, how could a player with De Bruyne’s quality fail to get games at a club like Chelsea? To hear the 23-year-old Belgian World Cup star tell it, Mourinho didn’t play him because his transfer fee wasn’t high enough.

From London 24:

“Being with Chelsea is like being in a different world. Manager Jose Mourinho did not explain to me why I was not playing more regularly for the club.

“Maybe things would have been different if Chelsea FC had to pay [$51 million] and not [$9 million] when I arrived from Racing Genk.

“A higher transfer fee would have potentially handed me a different sort of status inside the club. And, possibly, handed me more chances (to play more regularly).”

OK, so is it a bit “conspiracy theorist” for De Bruyne to say, “If I was an expensive purchase, I’d have played more?” Of course it is, but at the same time, he’s got a point.

If Chelsea had laid out a larger sum of cash, the pressure for the player to perform and live up to his price tag would have afforded him more opportunities in the first team to justify that price.

[ MORE: Nemanja Matic ban reduced, not rescinded, leaving Chelsea “appalled” ]

See, for example, Erik Lamela at Tottenham Hotspur. For $46 million, Tottenham have seen Lamela score all of five goals (one in the Premier League) in his 18 months at the club. Despite his struggles, Lamela still features regularly for Spurs (20 league starts) because the club needs $46 million worth of performances out of the player.

Where De Bruyne gets it wrong is saying his “status inside the club” was affected by his price. It’s not about status, it’s about external and internal pressures, and little more. The fact Chelsea received $20 million for De Bruyne after paying just $9 million tells you what those in charge of the club thought of him as a player.

The Breakdown: Analysis, tactical focus on how Erling Haaland is ripping it up

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Throughout the Premier League season The Breakdown provides analysis, tactical focus and a deeper dive on some of the top plays from some of the best players on the planet.

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We are back for Season 3 of the Breakdown and Joe Prince-Wright will be joining you to discuss some of the things which stood out (or may not have, initially) in the Premier League.

Click play on the video above to watch the latest episode of the Breakdown, while below is the full archive of The Breakdown.

And feel free to send in your comments and questions to JPW via his Twitter feed (click below) if you want him to select any plays which caught your eye and he will then give them the Breakdown treatment.


The Breakdown – 2022-23 Premier League season

Matchweek 1

Matchweek 2

Matchweek 3

Matchweek 4

USWNT vs England, Spain: Rosters for high-profile friendlies, TV, stream

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USWNT head coach Vlatko Andovoski has announced his roster for one of the most-anticipated friendlies of all-time — and that’s no exaggeration — as the United States women’s national team takes on EURO champions England in one of two Europe-based friendlies next month.

The Yanks will also play Spain in a match well-worth watching, but the England match is going to be a clash of titans as the now-powerful Lionesses put their 14-match winning streak on the line against USA’s back-to-back World Cup champions.

“These are big tests for our team in front of crowds cheering against us and after long travel, but our players absolutely love games like these,” said Andonovski in a U.S. Soccer press release. “The group we are bringing to Europe includes players who have a lot of experience against top European teams and some that don’t, so these games are even more critical for our growth as our team. Our whole squad needs to get a clear picture of what these games are like as we continue to prepare for the World Cup.”

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The Oct. 7 match against England at Wembley Stadium is set to shatter the attendance record for a USWNT friendly and U.S. Soccer says it will be second to only the 1999 Women’s World Cup Final in terms of in-person attendance for a USWNT match.

Those are big mile markers in soccer history, but these matches are really big — as big as friendlies get — in terms of telling where the USWNT’s status as the No. 1 team in the world is under threat.

The Women’s Super League has made huge strides alongside its national team in England and the National Women’s Soccer League will be watching this with real excitement and anxiety; All but two members of the USWNT call-up list play in the NWSL. All but four of the England team play in the WSL and only one plies their trade in the NWSL (Ebony Salmon of the Houston Dash).

And these teams very well could meet up this summer, as the friendlies are the final USWNT matches prior to the Oct. 22 Women’s World Cup draw in New Zealand.


How to watch USWNT vs England

Kick off: 3pm ET, Oct. 7
TV Channel: FOX
Online: Stream via FoxSports.com

How to watch USWNT vs Spain

Kick off: 2:30pm ET, Oct. 11
TV Channel: ESPN2
Online: Stream via ESPN.com


USWNT vs England rosters

USWNT: Aubrey Kingsbury (Washington Spirit), Casey Murphy (North Carolina Courage), Alyssa Naeher (Chicago Red Stars), Alana Cook (OL Reign), Crystal Dunn (Portland Thorns FC), Emily Fox (Racing Louisville FC), Naomi Girma (San Diego Wave FC), Sofia Huerta (OL Reign), Hailie Mace (Kansas City Current), Becky Sauerbrunn (Portland Thorns FC), Sam Coffey (Portland Thorns FC), Savannah DeMelo (Racing Louisville FC), Lindsey Horan (Olympique Lyon, FRA), Taylor Kornieck (San Diego Wave FC), Rose Lavelle (OL Reign), Kristie Mewis (NJ/NY Gotham FC), Ashley Sanchez (Washington Spirit), Andi Sullivan (Washington Spirit), Ashley Hatch (Washington Spirit), Mallory Pugh (Chicago Red Stars), Megan Rapinoe (OL Reign), Trinity Rodman (Washington Spirit), Sophia Smith (Portland Thorns FC), Alyssa Thompson (Total Futbol Academy)

England WNT: Mary Earps (Manchester United), Sandy MacIver (Manchester City), Ellie Roebuck (Manchester City), Millie Bright (Chelsea), Lucy Bronze (Barcelona), Jess Carter (Chelsea), Rachel Daly (Aston Villa), Alex Greenwood (Manchester City), Esme Morgan (Manchester City), Lucy Parker (West Ham), Demi Stokes (Manchester City), Leah Williamson (Arsenal), Fran Kirby (Chelsea), Jessica Park (Everton), Georgia Stanway (Bayern Munich), Ella Toone (Manchester United), Keira Walsh (Barcelona), Katie Zelem (Manchester United), Lauren Hemp (Manchester City), Lauren James (Chelsea), Chloe Kelly (Manchester City), Beth Mead (Arsenal), Alessia Russo (Manchester United), Ebony Salmon (Houston Dash)

West Ham vs Wolves: How to watch live, stream link, TV, team news

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West Ham vs Wolves: Two sides straddling either side of the relegation zone will be desperate for a victory (or even just a goal) when they meet at London Stadium on Saturday (watch live, 12:30 pm ET on NBC and online via NBCSports.com). 

STREAM LIVE WEST HAM vs WOLVES

It’s been a mostly miserable start to the 2022-23 Premier League season for both the Hammers and Wolves. West Ham have just one win on the season (1W-1D-5L) as David Moyes and Co., sit 18th heading into matchweek 8. Wolves also have just one win (1W-3D-3L) while scoring the same number of goals as West Ham (3) in seven games. Misery loves company.

Here’s everything you need to know ahead of West Ham vs Wolves

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How to watch West Ham vs Wolves live, stream link and start time

Kick off: 12:30 pm ET, Saturday
TV channel: NBC
Online: Stream via NBCSports.com


Key storylines & star players

For both sides, the goal-scoring woes are a result of not only a failure to convert scoring chances, but also their inability to create them. West Ham and Wolves both rank in the bottom five of the Premier League in expected goals with identical paltry 0.9 xG averages (per 90 minutes). No other side in the Premier League is anywhere close to underperforming their expected numbers by more than 50 percent.

Goals have come much more easily for West Ham in the Europa Conference League, where they have scored three goals in all four games thus far — six in two games against Danish side Viborg, and three apiece against Romanian runners-up FCSB and another Danish side in Silkeborg.

Wolves made the effort to be a better attacking side this season, as they spent $18 million on Sasa Kalajdzic, but the Austrian international striker tore his ACL on his debut for the club. Raul Jimenez, meanwhile, has played just 211 minutes in three Premier League appearances (none since Aug. 31) and has just one goal, in the League Cup. The Mexican international is now in a race against time to be healthy and fit for the 2022 World Cup eight weeks from now.


West Ham team news, injuries, lineup options

OUT: Nayef Aguerd (ankle) | QUESTIONABLE: Benjamin Johnson (hamstring)

Wolves team news, injuries, lineup options

OUT: Raul Jimenez (groin), Sasa Kalajdzic (torn ACL), Nathan Collins (suspension), Chiquinho (knee) | QUESTIONABLE: Diego Costa (undisclosed)

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Arsenal vs Tottenham projected lineups, form, head-to-head, prediction

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There is so little between Arsenal and Tottenham this season that every little decision will count as they square off this Saturday (watch live, 7:30am ET on USA Network and online via NBCSports.com) in the north London derby.

[ MORE: Preview, storylines, latest on Arsenal vs Tottenham ]

Mikel Arteta and Antonio Conte have overseen superb starts to the season for their teams, with the Gunners top of the table and they are just one point and two places above unbeaten Spurs.

After Tottenham pipped Arsenal to a top four finish late last season, this rivalry has gone to new levels and both believe they can finish in the top four this season, at the very least.

Below we take a closer look at form, head-to-head info, projected lineups and a prediction for what promises to be a classic Arsenal vs Tottenham clash in the north London derby.


Arsenal vs Tottenham recent Premier League form

Arsenal last five fixtures – WLWWW | Last match: 3-0 win at Brentford

Tottenham last five fixtures – WWDWW  | Last match: 6-2 win vs Leicester City


Who has more wins, Arsenal or Tottenham? (all competitions head-to-head)

Tottenham wins: 67

Arsenal wins: 84

Draws: 54


Projected lineups

Arsenal (4-2-3-1)

—– Ramsdale —–

— White — Saliba — Gabriel — Zinchenko —

—- Partey —- Xhaka —-

—- Saka —- Odegaard —- Martinelli —-

—– Jesus —–

If Partey is out with injury then Arteta has a big decision to make in midfield: does Lokonga come in? Or does Odegaard drop deeper with Vieira coming in to an attacking midfield role? Elsewhere, Zinchenko will likely start ahead of Tierney if both are fit, while Zinchenko could also start in holding midfield given his incredible vesatility.


Tottenham (3-4-2-1)

—– Lloris —–

—- Romero —- Dier —- Davies —-

— Emerson — Hojbjerg — Bentancur — Perisic —

—- Richarlison —- Son —-

—– Kane —–

The back three picks itself, if everyone is fit, with Llenget and Sanchez coming in and doing okay when injuries have flared up. But the big debate is what Spurs do with Kulusevski potentially out. Does Richarlison come in for him? Or does Yves Bissouma start in midfield and the formation switch to a 3-5-2 with Son supporting Kane in attack? If it’s the latter, that would give Spurs extra defensive cover in the engine room.


Arsenal vs Tottenham prediction

This is going to be a very close game with these managers, players and clubs so evenly-matched across the board. Arsenal have been in better form but are battling with some key injuries, while Spurs look more capable of grinding out results when they’re not at their best. All of that adds up to an entertaining draw. I’m going for 2-2.