The coming days and weeks will be immensely tense times for players, coaches, directors and fans of Chelsea alike — but, for no one more so than new Blues boss Maurizio Sarri, who faces the very real prospect of losing arguably his two best players before managing his first game at Stamford Bridge.
[ MORE: Transfer rumor roundup: Pogba wants Juve move, Grealish to Spurs? ]
Forward Eden Hazard has made it pretty clear he’d prefer a move to his yet-unnamed “preferred destination,” and goalkeeper Thibut Courtois has said he’d like to continue playing with Hazard, either in west London or elsewhere. Sarri hopes he’ll have a chance to persuade the Belgian duo to stay another year, or longer, but he doesn’t plan on doing so until they return from their offseason breaks, at which point he can meet with them face to face — quotes from the Guardian:
“Clearly the players you are referring to are very high-level players and I would like to keep them. But a telephone call without looking them in the eye will not give me any certainty.
“I would like to meet these players face to face and talk to them and understand what the best thing is for everyone to do. Before that I would also like a player to come on the pitch for four or five days with me to have a clear idea of what the plan is.”
Given that the Premier League’s transfer window will close before the upcoming season’s opening weekend (Aug. 9), the period of time during which Hazard and Courtois will be available to meet with Sarri, and the amount of time to reinvest and replenish the squad should they leave, will be an extremely narrow window. After finishing third-place at the 2018 World Cup, they could very easily be away until the final 48 or 72 hours of the window.
Christian Pulisic is the best American soccer player in the world.
Of this, there is little debate.
But there is a debate to who is second, third, and well down the line, and we’ve got our last chance to really assess the full crop with Major League Soccer now out of season for a few months.
[ USMNT: Most to gain/lose from November ]
Let’s set some ground rules:
- The ranking is meant to illustrate who would be most likely to positively affect a USMNT match, regardless of manager or teammates, right now.
- Health doesn’t matter to our rankings if a current injury isn’t one which could drastically alter the player’s skill set moving forward.
- Age/potential/experience doesn’t matter either, at least not much; It’s how likely you are to contribute to the team if put on the field right now. Obviously Chris Richards of Bayern Munich II is a better long-term prospect than 32-year-old Tim Ream, but most would rather have the Fulham man in a big spot right now.
Top 25 USMNT players – November 2019
*not currently a part of USMNT squad due to injury
**not currently a part of USMNT squad due to coach’s decision
- Christian Pulisic, Chelsea*
- Tyler Adams, RB Leipzig*
- John Brooks, Wolfsburg
- Weston McKennie, Schalke
- Alfredo Morales, Fortuna Dusseldorf
- Sergino Dest, Ajax
- Jordan Morris, Seattle Sounders
- Matt Miazga, Reading (on loan from Chelsea)**
- Josh Sargent, Werder Bremen
- Zack Steffen, Fortuna Dusseldorf (on loan from Man City)*
- DeAndre Yedlin, Newcastle United
- Jozy Altidore, Toronto FC*
- Tim Ream, Fulham
- Timothy Weah, Lille*
- Julian Green, Greuther Furth**
- Cristian Roldan, Seattle Sounders
- Ike Opara, Minnesota United**
- Michael Bradley, Toronto FC*
- Fabian Johnson, Borussia Monchengladbach**
- Cameron Carter-Vickers, Stoke City (on loan from Spurs)**
- Tyler Boyd, Besiktas
- Sebastian Lletget, LA Galaxy
- Miles Robinson, Atlanta United*
- Paul Arriola, DC United
- Jackson Yueill, San Jose Earthquakes
Next up, established: Antonee Robinson (Wigan Athletic), Walker Zimmerman (LAFC), Eric Lichaj (Hull City), Paxton Pomykal (FC Dallas), Ethan Horvath (Club Brugge), Reggie Cannon (FC Dallas), Duane Holmes (Derby County), Bill Hamid (DC United).
Next up, youth: Konrad de la Fuente (Barcelona U19), Alex Mendez (Ajax U19), Giovanni Reyna (Borussia Dortmund U19), Ulysses Llanez (Wolfsburg U19), Chris Richards (Bayern Munich II), Richie Ledezma (PSV Eindhoven), Donovan Pines (DC United), Sam Vines (Colorado Rapids)
Frank Lampard‘s ready to go into his players’ wallets if they disobey his laws.
A posted list of fines for Chelsea players, signed by the manager, has been confirmed and we would completely understand if the Blues were on time all the time.
[ MORE: Salah out for Egypt ]
A player is fined about $640 per minute he’s late to a meeting, and if he misses a practice, well, wow: The fine is nearly $26,000.
If a phone rings during a meeting, that’s gonna be $1,300.
And if any fine isn’t paid within two weeks, it doubles! Seems like Christian Pulisic and his teammates will have a lot of alarms set on their phones.
From The Telegraph:
Lampard has also banned agents from the training ground, unless on official business, and players must inform the club if they intend to travel abroad, even on scheduled days off.
The average Chelsea salary last season was approximately $6.6 million, meaning players make on average $127,000 per week.
The full list of fines is below.
Vincent Kompany says history could help Manchester City climb back into the Premier League title race even after his former team dropped nine points back of first place Liverpool.
[ MORE: Salah out for Egypt ]
Now at Anderlecht, the center back also said history might’ve played a role in City’s 3-1 setback at Anfield. In a rare bit of explicit honesty, the often interesting Kompany said that players do deal with demons of a club’s past.
“We always struggle at Anfield,” he said, according to Sky Sports. “I said that on Super Sunday, you’re fighting 25 years of not winning at Anfield and that’s difficult, it’s two games in one game: You’re playing a great team and you’re fighting history.”
“Flip it around and the same will happen for Liverpool. They will fight the history of not winning the league for 30 years. That should be to City’s advantage I still think.”
Do you buy that? Most of the buzz around the Premier League is that this Liverpool is a different team than even the dominant one of last season, and City has suffered big injury problems. The Reds players almost went out of their way last year to say they weren’t worried about blowing their table lead last season (which was bigger, later in the season).
Kompany also said that he believes City doesn’t need to add a center back in January, which is bonkers unless he’s coming back, but the Belgian has proven time and again that he’s one of the better minds in the game.
The guy did title his MBA dissertation, “How professional football clubs in the Premier League can benefit from home game advantage and achieve game-changing levels of improvement” after all. Then again, I’m not sure any of our dissertations on the same topic would’ve been approved had we done that.
Good news for Liverpool, not so much for Egypt.
Mohamed Salah will not suit up for the Pharoahs this month as Egypt begins qualifying for the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations.
[ MORE: Will Zlatan rejoin LA? ]
Salah has been dealing with ankle problems since a rough tackle from Leicester City’s Hamza Choudhury, and it’s acting up following a tackle from Fernandinho in the Reds’ 3-1 defeat of Man City on Sunday.
Egypt needs Salah, but it’s no surprise he’s erring on the side of caution given the tumultuous relationship between the superstar and his country (and Liverpool’s status as a contender in five (!!) tournaments).
Salah, 27, has 41 goals in 67 caps. The next five leading active Egyptian scorers have a combined 31 goals in their careers over 284 caps. The youngest of those is Aston Villa’s Trezeguet (25), followed by Besiktas’ Mohamed Elneny (27).
Egypt are heavy favorites to finish in one of the top two spots and qualify for AFCON 2020, even with the injury. The 49th ranked Pharoahs (FIFA ranking) are in a group with Kenya (108), Togo (124) and Comoros (142).
Egypt hosts Kenya on Thursday to kick off qualification, and visits Comoros on Monday.