Spurs boss Mauricio Pochettino must’ve felt some kind of way on Sunday considering the teams on the pitch and the occasion.
Tottenham Hotspur’s U-18 side met Southampton’s U-18s in one of two “test matches” at the new Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, necessary to get inspected for safety, and Pochettino was on hand to give a speech at halftime of the first soccer match played at the ground.
But for Pochettino, it probably felt even wilder; Here was a visiting side from the club he left in order to seek bigger things at Spurs, the club he’s stayed with despite alluring (alleged) offers from giants of the European game. From SkySports.com:
“We all feel the same, so excited. I got the same feeling when we left White Hart Lane on the last day, we were crying and now in the first day in the new stadium we feel the same emotion,” Pochettino said, on the pitch at half-time. “We need to cry because our dream became true.”
There was a hint of the future beyond the natural tie-ins of a U18 side and building, as 18-year-old Oliver Skipp started the match. He has six appearances for the senior side. Pochettino’s 17-year-old son Maurizio, who has played with the club’s U-23s, started the match on the bench.
There will be another warm-up match, with Spurs alumni meeting Inter Milan alumni, before Tottenham opens its official march with a visit from Crystal Palace in the Premier League on April 3.
Starting in Milan, several reports claim that Alexis Sanchez is finally leaving Manchester United and will sign for Inter permanently on a free transfer. Other reports claim that Inter are paying a $17.6 million transfer fee for Sanchez, who still has two years left on his current Man United contract of $730,000 per week.
Sanchez’s departure will allow Man United to wrap up the $140 million signing of Jadon Sancho, with Sanchez’s huge salary finally off their wage bill as they’ve been paying a big chunk of his wages since last summer when he joined Inter on a season-long loan.
As for the details of the permanent deal, our partners in the UK at Sky Sports have some more details.
“The Chile international would receive a payout from United for cancelling his contract, which still has two years to run. The details of the payout are unknown but the value of the remaining two years in wages is around £55m. Sanchez is set to sign a three-year contract with Inter worth £6.3m a year. A deal should be finalised this week and would mean Sanchez is eligible to play for Inter in this season’s Europa League competition.”
Alexis Sanchez, 31, has been in good form for Inter Milan since the restart (three goals and seven assists says as much) as he finally seems to have shaken off injuries. In 18 months at Man United the Chilean star struggled to make an impact after joining in January 2018 as part of a swap deal with Henrikh Mkhitaryan as he left Arsenal after a lengthy contract saga.
As for another player who could be joining his loan club permanently, there is an intriguing update from Real Madrid and Spain midfielder Dani Ceballos.
Ceballos, 23, starred on loan at Arsenal and helped Mikel Arteta’s side win the FA Cup as he put in a man of the match performance in a new deeper role in central midfield.
The Spaniard has been instrumental so far during Arteta’s rebuild of the Gunners and although the Arsenal boss is keen for the club to work out a deal to extend the loan of Ceballos, or even try and sign him permanently, it appears the silky midfielder may not be so keen on staying in London.
“I haven’t spoken to Real Madrid yet, but anyone who wears that shirt is happy,” Ceballos said. “Madrid are better than any club in the world. We’ll see about my future. I’m not thinking about whether or not I can play for Real Madrid, Arsenal or another club. Now it’s time to disconnect. I have to be calm and think clearly with my family about the coming year.”
Ceballos has also stated his love for his boyhood club, Real Betis, as he could end up back in Spain but not at Real Madrid.
Arsenal and Arteta want Ceballos to remain at the Emirates, badly, and they must do all they can to bring him back to north London for the 2020-21 season. His partnership with Granit Xhaka in the two deeper central midfield roles was a big surprise as they added stability, vision and composure to the engine room.
In a meeting of clubs from the top two tiers of German soccer on Tuesday, clubs voted in favor of allowing some fans back into stadiums when the 2020-21 season starts on Sept. 18, with German Cup games scheduled for the week before that.
Germany has dealt with the coronavirus pandemic particularly well but there are concerns about a second wave after a rise in infections in recent weeks.
The parameters for how Bundesliga fans would be able to return to each stadium, and the protocol for pulling it off safely, is generally as follows:
No visiting fans until the end of 2020
No alcohol sold in stadiums until at least Oct. 31
No standing in stadiums until at least Oct. 31
Contact info and ID data to be collected for all fans inside the stadium
Now it is all about the meeting next week between the health ministers of each region of Germany, as they will have the final say on whether or not some fans can return to stadiums.
Speaking in a news conference German Football League (DFL) CEO Christian Seifert had the following to say on the matter via Yahoo.
“If and when fans will return to the stadiums is not a decision for the DFL but for the political leaders,” Seifert said. “The DFL does not expect or demand anything but we are preparing to take this small step (with fans in stadiums) when the time comes. Priority is not full stadiums but the health situation. We should not take unnecessary risks but we should also not capitulate and just expect it to go away.”
“No one at the DFL will demand a specific number of fans. That would be irresponsible. Professional football can only come back in steps. There is no magic switch for politicians to give the green light for full stadiums. That will happen in steps. We will have to reclaim normality in small steps.”
The soccer and sporting world will have all eyes on Germany to see if this plan is approved and how things go from mid-September onwards.
Frank Lampard is keen to improve his left back options with both Marcos Alonso and Emerson Palmeri deemed surplus to requirements at Stamford Bridge.
Chelsea have been linked with a move for Ben Chilwell but Leicester City want over $100 million for the England international, while Reguilon would cost close to $23.4 million.
Reguilon, 23, is a product of Real Madrid’s academy and with the Spanish champions eager to cut costs and raise funds for new players this summer, he is available for a permanent move as Everton have already put in a bid for him.
Numerous reports state that Chelsea are in talks over a deal for Reguilon and given that Real Madrid have Marcelo and Ferland Mendy at left back, they are set in that position. Reguilon, who was voted the best left back in La Liga last season, would be the cheaper option compared to Chilwell and there’s no doubt Chelsea need to upgrade their defensive unit.
As for outgoings to help them fund new deals, our partners in the UK at Sky Sports say that Chelsea are looking to sell up to 10 players this summer and have made several players available for permanent transfers away from Stamford Bridge.
Per the report, Kepa Arrizabalaga, Jorginho, Antonio Rudiger, Alonso, Emerson, Victor Moses, Tiemoue Bakayoko, Kurt Zouma, Andreas Christensen and Michy Batshuayi are all up for sale, while other reports state N’Golo Kante could also move on.
This would be some overhaul for Lampard but given that Chelsea have spent over $100 million on bringing in forwards Hakim Ziyech and Timo Werner, plus a $93 million move for Kai Havertz is in the works, they need some outgoings to fuel their spending.
It is no surprise that six of the aforementioned players are defenders as the Blues conceded the highest number of goals in the top half of the Premier League table in 2019-20 and that negated their fine attacking displays.
A new goalkeeper, left back and two center backs must be their priority this summer as Lampard is on the right track, especially in attack, but new defensive additions will be key to turning Chelsea into title contenders instead of being top four hopefuls.