Mauricio Pochettino

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Report: Tottenham lands $82M Ndombele from Lyon

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This could be a big one.

Tanguy Ndombele had one of the top seasons in Ligue 1, and Tottenham Hotspur will reportedly smash their transfer record to sign the Lyon midfielder according to Sky Sports.

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The fee will be above $82 million for the 22-year-old, who scored a goal with a career-best seven assists in league play this season, adding a pair of goals against Hoffenheim in the Champions League.

Ndombele is a center midfielder who will give plenty of options for Mauricio Pochettino in the midfield, and he joins a pair of similar-minded midfielders who moved from Ligue 1 to the Premier League on big money last season (Fulham’s Jean-Michael Seri and Andre-Frank Zambo Anguissa).

Lyon had Ndombele on loan for a year before spending around $10 million to buy him from Amiens, who retained a 20 percent stake in any profit Lyon would make on a future sale of the player.

Ndombele has six caps for France, and his last three were all starts.

Transfer Rumor Roundup: United nearing Wan-Bissaka capture, way off on Lukaku sale

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Manchester United has understandably been busy this summer, and while they have yet to secure any players officially, they have been linked with countless potential targets. One player the Red Devils have been connected with for weeks is Crystal Palace full-back Aaron Wan-Bissaka and it appears they are coming ever closer to completing a deal.

The 21-year-old, on duty with the England youth side at the U-21 Euros, is nearing a switch to Old Trafford according to multiple reports in England. The Daily Mail says the two sides have agreed on a deal worth roughly $54 million, significant as just last week there were reports that Crystal Palace had thus far rejected Manchester United’s approach worth $44 million alongside a massive add-on total.

The early elimination of the England U-21 side from the European tournament could see this deal get done sooner than expected, as the youngster will be making his way home earlier than the side had hoped.


While Wan-Bissaka is rumored to be on his way in, Romelu Lukaku is reportedly looking for a way out, although that may have hit a snag as Manchester United is apparently not ready to let the Belgian go for cheap.

According to reports in Italy, talks between Manchester United and Inter regarding Lukaku’s valuation have so far been unproductive, with the Premier League side asking for no less than $97 million while Inter is still a solid $28 million behind that total. With such a gap in price, it’s unlikely anything will get done soon, if at all.

The Italian club is looking to replace Mauro Icardi who is set to leave after a tumultuous season resulted in a breakdown in his relationship with the team. Lukaku has been unsuccessful in recapturing his blistering Everton form at Manchester United and could be the one to replace Icardi at Inter, but with three years left on his Red Devils contract the English side is not forced to let him go for a value below their price tag.

The reports suggest that Inter could include Icardi in a swap deal, but also say that could take some convincing as the Argentinian striker is not currently interested in moving to Old Trafford.


The Serie A striker merry-go-round continues as Lorenzo Insigne could be moving on from Napoli, and while he could potentially serve as an Icardi replacement if a Lukaku deal cannot be struck, but there’s also apparently significant competition from abroad.

Atletico Madrid is hoping to replace Antoine Griezmann with a top-level striker after the Frenchman departed the Spanish side for Barcelona. Insigne, who struggled with injuries and poor form through the second half of last season. According to Italian tabloid Corriere dello Sport, Napoli would be willing to let Insigne leave but not for less than $80 million.

Insigne scored 18 Serie A goals in the 2016/17 campaign for Napoli as the club challenged for the title and finished third, a point back of Roma and five behind Champions Juventus. However, he’s only managed to match that goal total across the next two seasons combined, bagging 10 goals last season and only three from the second week of November on. There are rumblings that Insigne

With rumors of a swoop for either Hirving Lozano or James Rodriguez, Napoli is clearly looking to bolster its attacking depth and Insigne could be a casualty of that transfer activity.


Tottenham Hotspur hasn’t purchased a single player in over a year, but that could be about to change.

While there’s nothing concrete yet from more reliable sources, tabloid reports in England suggest that Spurs is nearing a deal for Leeds United winger Jack Clarke. The Premier League side has been linked with Clarke for months now, and the 18-year-old slowly gained more playing time as the Championship season plodded along.

Now, with Leeds missing out on promotion, it could be time for the 18-year-old to make the jump, as Spurs could be ready to pay $19 million for the York-born winger. With links to Fulham teenager Ryan Sessegnon over the last few months as well, it’s possible that Mauricio Pochettino could be looking to inject some youth into the side, especially on the flanks.

Pochettino aims to follow Liverpool lead; no regrets on Kane

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Mauricio Pochettino doesn’t need to look too far to see Spurs’ example in overcoming the accompanying grief from losing a UEFA Champions League final.

There, inside the same stadium, was Liverpool celebrating a European Cup win just 12 months removed from falling 3-1 to Real Madrid.

[ MORE: 3 things we learned from Madrid ] 

“It is about to learn, live the experience and with Liverpool last year were in our position today and now they are in the position that were Real Madrid,” Pochettino said. “The standards are so high, that wasn’t enough today that is a bit of a shame when you live this experience you want to repeat and you want to live again… I hope we can repeat in the future.”

There are steps Tottenham can take to achieve that, and one will certainly be more activity in the transfer market.

That sort of thing would give Pochettino more leeway in multiple competitions, plus maybe more to digest when deciding whether to give Harry Kane his first start in months.

That, by the way, is something Pochettino doesn’t regret, as the statistics led him there. From The London Evening Standard:

“He didn’t score like other players. It’s not a point to talk too much. My decision I promise was about analytics and thinking with all the information. I don’t regret my decision.”

Pochettino’s job is to make the difficult calls, and the Kane call was going to “backfire” in any scenario short of upsetting Liverpool. Had he kept his star on the bench into the second half and Spurs lost, the same columns would’ve been penned. Heavy is the head.

Three things learned: Tottenham v. Liverpool, Champions League Final

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MADRID — Liverpool beat Tottenham Hotspur 2-0 in the UEFA Champions League final in Madrid on Saturday, as Mohamed Salah‘s early penalty kick and Divock Origi‘s late goal was enough to edge Jurgen Klopp‘s men past Mauricio Pochettino‘s side.

[ MORE: Klopp reacts ]

In a game lacking in quality throughout, a handball given against Moussa Sissoko which resulted in a penalty 23 seconds into the game set the tone for a game riddled with errors.

Klopp and his Liverpool players celebrated wildly at the final whistle, as the German has won his first trophy as their manager and their sixth European title. In a season where Liverpool’s defensive unit has often won them games, they held firm once again as a lackluster Harry Kane and Spurs failed to make the most of several second half chances.

Here’s what we learned from a tense, dramatic encounter in the searing heat in Madrid, as Liverpool were crowned Champions of Europe for the first time since 2005.


HANDBALL CALL HARSH, BUT CORRECT

This is the last thing any player on either side wanted to happen 23 seconds into the match. Moussa Sissoko was the unlucky man.

Sadio Mane‘s clipped ball inside first hit Sissoko’s side then his outstretched arm, and in the laws of the game that is a penalty kick whether it was deliberate or not. UEFA’s head of referees Robert Rossetti said that “if the defender is making the body bigger in order to block the ball it is not fair” and that is what referees will make the call on.

Was this moment below fair on Sissoko? No. A few years ago there would have been outrage had this penalty been given. But under the new rules and the VAR world we live in, it had to be given.

That moment set the tone for a game where Liverpool largely held Tottenham at arms length.


SALAH, KLOPP GET THEIR TROPHY IN POOR FINAL

A punishing swipe of the Egyptian King’s right foot set Liverpool on their way to being crowned Champions of Europe.

Mohamed Salah didn’t play his best game, and both teams gave the ball cheaply in one of the worst finals in recent memory. Maybe it was the pressure of such a big occasion. Maybe the extreme Spanish heat. Or maybe, and more likely, it was the fact that these finely-tuned athletes had a three-week break after a punishing 10-month season and then had to restart their engines for the grand finale.

For large parts of the game Salah was hardly anywhere near the ball. But the way he celebrated his penalty kick showed just how much that moment meant to him. After being injured early in Liverpool’s 3-1 defeat to Real Madrid in the Champions League final last season, this was Salah’s shot at redemption. It wasn’t the best penalty kick he’s ever taken but it wasn’t about that. It was about scoring and exorcizing the demons from last season’s final.

Salah and Liverpool didn’t know if they would get another chance to play in the Champions League final and the way Salah’s final, and Liverpool’s hopes, were ended prematurely last season suggested he may not lead them to glory like he was supposed to after a glorious debut campaign.

But after Liverpool came up agonizingly short in the Premier League title race, Salah’s general brilliance helped lead them to the final in Madrid and his powerful penalty kick won them the trophy they deserved after such a stunning campaign. And Klopp can now shut everyone up as he has delivered the European Cup after losing his first three finals as Liverpool manager and his last six as a manager.

Liverpool are the Kings of Europe once again.


KANE GAMBLE BACKFIRES

It was the call which would decide not only the legacy of Mauricio Pochettino at Tottenham Hotspur, but likely that of the club itself.

And he got it wrong. With incredible emotions swirling around both sets of fans in the Spanish capital ahead of the game, it seems like starting Kane was a heart over head decision by Pochettino.

Harry Kane hadn’t played since April 9 when he injured his ankle against Manchester City and he looked like it. Pochettino decided to start Kane up top and leave out Lucas Moura, and that decision backfired. Spurs’ talisman looked unable to crank into third gear, let alone fourth or fifth, and his first touch was off and Tottenham’s entire attack faltered because Kane couldn’t manoeuvre himself deeper to create space for Alli and Son. Of course, Liverpool scoring in the second minute meant they could sit back and defend their lead, but Kane, as expected, just wasn’t his normal self.

Son, Alli and Christian Eriksen all struggled to impact the game and it was only when Lucas Moura came on in the second half that Spurs looked dangerous and able to get behind Liverpool’s defense but Alisson denied them on several occasions. Kane had 11 touches in the first half, fewer than any other player on the pitch. He had a few dangerous moments late on, but that was when Spurs had thrown everyone forward and had Liverpool pinned back.

The decision to start Kane will be remembered as a huge mistake by Pochettino. Not just because Kane didn’t score, but because he ruled with his heart over his head.

Early penalty, late strike leads Liverpool to Champions League glory

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Jurgen Klopp finally has the silverware he has craved since taking over Liverpool four years ago.

A controversial penalty given in the first minute of action slotted home by Mohamed Salah set the tone for the match, and Divock Origi killed off the game with three minutes remaining as Liverpool topped Tottenham Hotspur 2-0 in a Champions League final punctuated by poor passing and drab tactical organization.

The game in Madrid started in stunning fashion, with Liverpool earning a penalty after just 21 seconds of play. Sadio Mane‘s chipped cross attempt caught his defender Moussa Sissoko off guard, deflecting off the Spurs midfielder’s chest and rebounding off his outstretched arm in the top corner of the penalty area. Sissoko was clearly pointing instructions to a teammate behind him, and Mane’s cross seemed to come earlier than he expected.

That put Salah on the spot, and he delivered a powerful, thumping penalty just over the outstretched arms of a diving Hugo Lloris who guessed right but had little chance of stopping such a blast. The goal for Salah not only gave Liverpool the lead just two minutes into the game, but made him the fifth African to score in a Champions League final, and

Spurs responded well and proved the better side in the opening stages after the goal. They combined nicely at the top of the penalty area on a number of occasions in the opening 20 minutes, but couldn’t work a good look on net. The game devolved into a nervy showcase of uncertainty, with neither side quite sure what it was trying to accomplish. The atmosphere in the stadium also sported a nervous trepidation, not certain what to make of the first half-hour. Both teams passed poorly and neither team did much of anything in the attacking third. Liverpool played extremely conservative after the early opener and Spurs didn’t trouble the Reds back line much.

Finally, on 38 minutes Andy Robertson took aim from distance on the break and forced Lloris into a leaping save, tipping the ball over the bar. On the ensuing corner, Salah blasted a volley miles over the bar. Christian Eriksen down the other end on the stroke of halftime copied Salah, into a good shooting position in front of the box and ripping it into the seats.

After halftime, not much changed. Spurs held much of the possession but both sides proved sloppy. Lloris made a quality save on Robertson again from distance, beating a streaking Sadio Mane to the ball. Mauricio Pochettino brought in semifinal hero Lucas Moura on for Harry Winks with 25 minutes to go, but it was Liverpool substitute James Milner who had the earlier impact, firing a shot agonizingly wide right with Lloris rooted to the spot. Dele Alli looked to chip the goalkeeper but Alisson was on hand to collect easily.

Sissoko went down injured with 17 minutes to go, replaced by Eric Dier in midfield. Alli had a headed attempt on 78 minutes, but couldn’t get on top of the Trippier cross and struck it over the bar with Joel Matip defending. That woke Spurs up, with Son and Moura both testing Alisson in succession entering the final 10 minutes of the match.

With the momentum seemingly shifting in Spurs’ favor, Pochettino looked to capitalize by bringing on Fernando Llorente in place of Alli. Eriksen forced another fabulous save from Alisson with a close-range free kick in the 85th minute, and Son put the ball over the bar on the ensuing corner but was offside anyways.

Liverpool finally put the game to bed in the 87th minute as Origi, on in place of Roberto Firmino, fired a perfectly placed low effort through the legs of Toby Alderweireld and past a diving Lloris into the far corner. The goal for Origi is his third in the Champions League coming on just his third shot.

The final whistle sounded and saw Liverpool champions of Europe for the first time since beating AC Milan in 2005 on that epic outing in Istanbul. The European title is the first for Jurgen Klopp coming on his third try, losing once each previously with Borussia Dortmund and Liverpool.