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Mourinho: ‘Not the best’ Eriksen; Spurs stretched to limits

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Jose Mourinho has admitted that the situation surrounding Christian Eriksen and his new contract is impacting the Danish playmaker.

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Eriksen, 27, is out of contract this summer and put in another subpar display as he was jeered off the pitch when substituted in Spurs’ 1-0 defeat against Liverpool on Saturday.

Speaking ahead of their FA Cup third round replay against Middlesbrough on Tuesday, in which Eriksen will start, Mourinho delivered his thoughts on Eriksen’s poor form.

“If you ask me if I think this is the best Christian Eriksen, I have to be honest and say no,” Eriksen said. “If you ask me the reasons, I am not an idiot, I know clearly a player in his situation is not a player, even if he wants… I am not blaming the player, I am not criticizing the player it is normal that a player in this situation doesn’t perform at the highest level. I can also say he is helping us in matches he is playing with us. He had positive performances and contributions, the game against Olympiakos which was fundamental for us to qualify and we were 2-0 down. The same against Norwich. I also think the same that you probably think, I also probably think what the fans think about the game. He didn’t have a very good performance against Liverpool, I have to agree with that.”

Mourinho was then asked further about Eriksen and he confirmed he knew what would happen when it comes to his future, but wouldn’t say anything else.

Is this public shaming by Mourinho the final shove out of the door that Eriksen was waiting for?

With Spurs losing him in the summer for nothing, unless he has a miraculous turnaround and signs a new deal, then should they cut their losses and let him leave now?

Eriksen’s representatives are said to be in talks with Inter Milan over a four-and-a-half year deal, as he can now speak to non-UK clubs about arriving in the summer a la Aaron Ramsey at Arsenal last January. However, it is believed both Eriksen and Inter want to seal the move in January but why would the latter pay big money to sign him this month when they can get him for free in a few months time?

Inter are pushing to win the Serie A title, so that is why, but Spurs chairman Daniel Levy has previously been unwilling to show much of a soft spot for any players wanting to leave Tottenham on their own terms. Maybe Eriksen’s poor displays all season long will change his mind on this one, as his departure could open up a spot for a new player to arrive in January.

With Tottenham nine points off the top four, is Champions League qualification now possible?

“Mathematically yes. Of course the distance is important,” Mourinho said. “We don’t need just to win matches, we need opponents to lose matches. We know we are not powerful enough to believe we are going to win every match. We are not powerful enough to be competing in three different competitions. It is a really difficult situation for us. Mathematically it is possible. I prefer to look match after match.”

As for their FA Cup replay against second-tier Middlesbrough (the winner will travel to in-form Southampton in the next round), Mourinho admitted that his squad are being stretched to their limits and only one player will be rested.

“The only player that is not selected is [Toby] Alderweireld. He is the only one I can give a rest to and say take two days off,” Mourinho said.

As for additions, he had no update on Gedson Fernandes, who is expected to sign on an initial 18-month loan from Benfica with an option to buy.

“I am waiting for news, when I say I am waiting, news can come or not,” Mourinho said, coyly. “I am more worried about Middlesbrough than the market. In this moment I am not interested in Gedson or other players who can come.”

He needs additions in midfield and attack and Eriksen, and maybe Vertonghen, to move on as soon as possible as Mourinho’s Spurs are in a slump.

You wouldn’t put it past him to mastermind an FA Cup trophy win or a deep run in the UEFA Champions League knockout rounds this season, but at this point a top four finish seems highly likely.

Juventus rules out January sales of Can, Rabiot

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Juventus has ruled out any more business this January, squashing a number of rumors, mostly regarding potentially outgoing players.

Level with Inter Milan at the top of the Serie A table, conventional wisdom would suggest that Juventus may wish to make some precision edits to the squad hoping to squeeze every last point out of the rest of the season. However, it appears they are content with the players on the books for the second half of the season.

Juventus sporting director Fabio Paratici told Sky Sports Italia before their match on Monday against Cagliari that “our window is closed” before going into a few more specifics. He named Adrian Rabiot and Emre Can, saying both will stay at least until the end of the season.

The midfield pair has been used sparingly, with Rabiot racking up just over 700 total minutes this season across all competitions and Can even less with just seven total appearances. Still, Rabiot started the Cagliari match as part of a diamond midfield, and Can is valuable cover for the likes of 32-year-old Blaise Matuidi and oft-injured Aaron Ramsey.

“I can exclude Emre Can leaving, as he will certainly remain with us,” Paratici said. “On an international level, he is one of the most wanted players, but I think he can be important for our project. Rabiot arrived here after not playing for eight months. It’s only natural on a physical level he should take time to adapt. He paid the price for that, but he has done well when used.”

While Paratici did not mention other players by name, his words also seemed to rule out a sale of defender Merih Demiral, who has been linked to a number of clubs including Leicester City and Borussia Dortmund. Demiral started in place of the benched Matthijs de Ligt against Cagliari and seems likely to stay in Turin for the remainder of the season.

Juventus did make one purchase this window, securing the services of Dejan Kulusevski from Atalanta, who will stay on loan at Parma for the rest of the season. Paratici confirmed that Juventus attempted to bring him in this January, but it was impossible to release him from his season-long loan.

The Juventus bench is bursting with talent, with the likes of Gonzalo Higuain, Gianluigi Buffon, Douglas Costa, Federico Bernardeschi, and Daniele Rugani all named among the substitutes for the Cagliari match alongside de Ligt and Can. Therefore, it’s surprising they have concluded January business just six days into the window, but credit the front office for making quick decisions.

Best players of decade for each Premier League club

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It has been an incredible decade in the Premier League with plenty of stars on show from 2010-20.

But which players have been the best from the last decade for each current PL team?

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Yes, this will cause controversy. Yes, you won’t agree with these 20 selections.

There is no right answer here because certain players may not have been the best technical player to play for a certain team over the last decade but they may have been the most important to their success.

Anyway, here it goes.


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Arsenal: Alexis Sanchez – Yes, it didn’t end well for him at Arsenal. But for four seasons he led them to the FA Cup, top four finishes and scored superb goals along the way. His hunger to win drove Arsene Wenger‘s teams on and along with Jack Wilshere (when he was fit) and Aaron Ramsey, he was one of the few world-class quality players the Gunners possessed.


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Aston Villa: Jack Grealish – A local lad who arrived from the academy with his low socks and slick Peaky Blinders-esque haircut, Grealish is Villa through and through and Villa’s hopes of staying in the Premier League this season revolve around the English playmaker. He stayed with them when they went down and brought them back up as skipper and his mercurial talents mean the big clubs are circling.


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Bournemouth: Steve Cook – It is amazing to think he is just 29 years old. Cook has been with Bournemouth throughout their promotion from League One to the Premier League and is now at the heart of their defense. Some great players have been key to Bournemouth’s success but Cook has held it all together.


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Brighton and Hove Albion: Lewis Dunk – Another local lad who has com through the ranks to be a star, Dunk is a towering, powerful center back who was with Brighton when they were at the Withdean and has been influential in their promotion and consolidation in the Premier League. He’s also played for England. His decade has been a Slam… Dunk.


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Burnley: Ben Mee – A mainstay in Burnley’s defense after joining from Man City in 2011, initially on loan, Mee has been essential to their promotion campaigns and keeping them in the Premier League. A no-nonsense defender, Burnley can totally trust Mee. The unsung hero in a club of unsung heroes.


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Chelsea: Eden Hazard – My favorite player of the decade in the Premier League because he could change the game on his own. Hazard led Chelsea to two Premier League titles, the FA Cup, the League Cup and the Europa League and when he was at his best he was unstoppable. Ask players around the PL who was the best player they came up against and the vast majority will say Hazard.


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Crystal Palace: Wilfried Zaha – The academy product was a star in the Championship, left for Manchester United, came back and ripped it up. Zaha is loved by Palace’s fans and is probably the best player outside of the top six in the Premier League. His pace and power is just too much to handle for most teams. And even though he wants to leave for a team challenging for trophies, Zaha will go down as a Palace legend.


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Everton: Leighton Baines – Okay, so it was a flip of a coin between Baines and Seamus Coleman, but I’m going for Baines. His quality from set piece situations was incredible and he was just wonderfully reliable. Everton’s two full backs will be etched into Toffees history but Baines’ extra quality in the final third gives him the nod.


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Leicester City: Jamie Vardy – Okay, with N’Golo Kante, Wes Morgan, Kasper Schmeichel and Riyad Mahrez around, this wasn’t that easy but Vardy should get the nod. He scored the goals to lead Leicester to an incredible Premier League title win as his pace and clinical finishing capped off his unreal rise from non-league to the Premier League, and his resurgence over the past 12 months has been amazing. Vardy isn’t everybody’s cup of tea but when he’s at his best, nobody can stop him.


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Liverpool: Virgil Van Dijk – This could be a controversial pick given the fact that he’s only played for Liverpool for two years, but there’s no doubt that no other player has been as important to the team as VVD. Luis Suarez and Mohamed Salah have been attacking stars for the Reds over the last decade but Van Dijk’s arrival helped lead Liverpool to the Champions League and improved their entire defense which had been their Achilles heel under Jurgen Klopp. Van Dijk is a Rolls Royce and probably the most complete defender the Premier League has ever seen.


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Manchester City: Vincent Kompany – A proper Man City legend, Kompany was the captain for all four of Man City’s Premier League title wins over the last decade. Sergio Aguero, Pablo Zabaleta and David Silva have all been key parts of City’s glittering decade but Kompany was the glue who held it all together. Injuries hit him hard in the second half of the decade but he was no doubt one of the greatest center backs in the history of the game. His goal to clinch the 2018-19 title was the perfect way to go out.


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Manchester United: David De Gea – He routinely won United’s Player of the Season over the last decade and without him Red Devils fans shudder to think where they would be. He has had a few big errors over the last 12 months but DDG has been the best goalkeeper in the Premier League over the last decade. Amid all of United’s struggles to get back to the top, De Gea has been their one true star.


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Newcastle United: Yohan Cabaye – Had the quality on the ball to rip teams apart and led the Magpies to a fifth-place finish under Alan Pardew. Papiss Cisse, Chieck Tiote, Moussa Sissoko and Demba Ba all had exceptional stints at Newcastle, but Cabaye had the extra class required to sew it together. The way he left for PSG wasn’t ideal but when all is said and done the former Lille midfielder was a game-changer at St James’ Park.


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Norwich City: Wes Hoolahan – A yo-yo decade for the Canaries who went all the way down to League One and worked their way back to the Premier League via back-to-back promotions. Republic of Ireland midfielder Hoolahan was their main attacking threat throughout the promotion years and he was capable of the sublime.


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Sheffield United: Billy Sharp – A local lad who has spent three spells at his beloved Blades and most recently signed for them in 2015 in League One, he scored the goals to take them back to the Premier League. Sharp has spent his entire career scoring boatloads of goals in the lower leagues and his dream was to play for Sheffield United in the Premier League. He’s achieved that, even though he hasn’t played a big role in their incredible season back in the top-flight. Sharp, 33, will forever be a Sheffield United legend.


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Southampton: Rickie Lambert – Another star forward who led his team from League One to the Premier League. Lambert signed for Saints from Bristol Rovers for $1.3 million in 2010, just after they had come out of administration, and then led them to back-to-back promotions as they returned to the PL. He then established himself as one of the top strikers in the league, got a call-up to the England team, play at the 2014 World Cup and eventually sealed his dream move to hometown club Liverpool. Known as “Sir Rickie” at St Mary’s, there will be a statue of him at the club one day as he led them back to the top-flight and did it was pure style befitting of the legendary No. 7 shirt he wore. He did Matt Le Tissier proud. Sadio Mane, Morgan Schneiderlin, Van Dijk, Adam Lallana, Jose Fonte and others were stars for Saints in the last decade but Lambert was the reason they were even in the PL in the first place.


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Tottenham Hotspur: Harry Kane – Has any other player in the Premier League burst onto the scene more than Kane in 2010? The London lad has come through Spurs’ academy to become a global star and is a goalscoring machine. In 2013-14 he was struggling to break through after several loan spells and now Kane is one of the best center forwards in the world. Kane scores every type of goal imaginable for club and country and is the captain of England and Tottenham’s talisman. The only thing left for him to tick off is winning a trophy. Dele Alli, Christian Eriksen, Hugo Lloris and Jan Vertonghen have all been mainstays but without Kane’s goals, Spurs would not have turned into genuine title contenders and regulars in the Champions League.


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Watford: Troy Deeney – Mr. Watford, Deeney led them to promotion to the PL in 2015 and they’ve been there ever since. Deeney’s goals (126 in 380 games in all competitions) and bulldozing displays have kept Watford in the top-flight and they’ve reached FA Cup semifinals and finals as they continue to punch above their weight. Deeney is Watford’s captain and sets the tone for the entire club.


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West Ham United: Dmitri Payet – Yes, West Ham fans will not like to admit this, but Payet was otherworldly at Upton Park and the London Stadium. The way he left for Marseille wasn’t great, at all, and the current owners have pretty much removed him from their history. But his amazing goals, free kicks and general outrageousness turned him into a club legend. Payet was box office as Slaven Bilic‘s side qualified for Europe.


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Wolverhampton Wanderers: Conor Coady – A mainstay in central defense for Wolves, Coady has led the charge since Fosun bought the club and Nuno Espirito Santo took over. A produce of Liverpool’s academy, he is a true professional who sets the standards day in, day out. Coady joined Wolves when they were struggling in the Championship and they are now in the Europa League knockout rounds and are challenging for the top four four after taking the PL by storm over the last two seasons. All of the recent impressive signings in attack and midfield have been important, so too has Matt Doherty who has been with Wolves since their days in the third tier, but Coady is the heart of Wolves and has been since 2015.

Liverpool’s move for Ryan Fraser makes perfect sense

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Liverpool are said to be in talks with Bournemouth about signing Ryan Fraser in January.

The Scottish winger is out of contract next summer and talks over a new deal at Bournemouth have so far failed.

Fraser, 25, was a star for the Cherries last season but has only been a bit-part player so far this campaign (adding one goal and two assists) as Eddie Howe plans for a future without him and the tension surrounding his future hasn’t helped matters.

Per a report from talkSPORT in the UK, Liverpool winger Harry Wilson, who is currently on loan at Bournemouth, could make a permanent switch to the South Coast club in January in exchange for the Reds being able to sign Fraser. Per the report, it is expected Bournemouth would also want around $15 million from Liverpool, plus Wilson, for Fraser.

Does this move make sense for Liverpool? Absolutely.

The speedy winger was an assist machine last season, racking up 14 which was the second-highest in the Premier League. Fraser wouldn’t start ahead of Sadio Mane, Mohamed Salah or Roberto Firmino, but he would be a great option off the bench and to play in cup competitions. His style of play is also perfectly suited to Liverpool’s high-tempo and pacy counter attacking.

With Xherdan Shaqiri currently out injured and failing to break in as a regular for Liverpool last season, Fraser would jump ahead of him in the queue for minutes after Liverpool’s attacking trio.

If this move to Liverpool doesn’t work out then Fraser can of course ‘do an Aaron Ramsey‘ and start talking to non-English clubs in January about a free transfer next summer. That’s not something Bournemouth would want, so you can understand their eagerness to at least get a little cash and a promising young player to replace Fraser.

From Liverpool’s point of view, Fraser would be a great addition on the cheap and he still has the prime years of his career ahead of him.

Ramsey: ‘There was a lot of confusion’ at end of Arsenal tenure

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Aaron Ramsey has described a somewhat unstable situation at Arsenal with regard to his final season at the club and the contract negotiations which led him to leave the Emirates Stadium and join Juventus this summer.

[ MORE: Real Madrid insists Thibaut Courtois didn’t have anxiety attack ]

At the start of last season, Ramsey is believed to have had an outline of an offer for a new contract on the table, only to see it rescinded before agreeing final terms. Of the situation, Ramsey says “there was a lot of confusion and a lot of things were up in the air” and that the Gunners are going through “a transitional period at the moment.” The decision, it seems, was taken out of his hands — quotes from the BBC:

Q: This time 12 months ago, it seemed you would be signing a new contract at Arsenal. Then it was taken away. Was it explained why?

A: Yes. It was in the end. There was a lot of confusion and a lot of things were up in the air. The decision was made and that was the situation, so I had to look at other options. Arsenal are going through a transitional period at the moment. They have many great players and a lot of talent coming through. They are definitely going in the right direction, but my situation now is at Juventus. I have an unbelievable opportunity at a massive club. I just want to be part of this now. Hopefully I can help my teammates and my club achieve some great things on the big stage.

As for settling himself at a new club in a new country, Ramsey says that learning to speak Italian is a “massively important” part of acclimating to his new environment and realizing success at Juve:

“Yes, of course. It is massively important. All the team meetings are in Italian; the majority of the players speak Italian. But it’s not just for football reasons. When you go to a restaurant or fill up your car, some people don’t speak English. It’s important to speak their language and really commit to putting yourself into their culture and to understand it.

“It might take me a bit of time — I have picked up a few swear words on the training ground — but I am learning and hopefully I will be able to speak it one day.”

Ramsey missed the first three weeks of the season due to a hamstring injury, but has since returned to the team and made five appearances in recent weeks. He marked his debut for the club with a goal against Verona on Sept. 21.