Moussa Sissoko

Transfer rumor roundup: Ceballos to Spurs; Elliott to Liverpool

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The transfer window is officially open again and that means one thing: transfer reports are kicking up a few notches between now and Aug. 8 when the window shuts for the start of the 2019-20 season.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

Here’s a look at some of the latest gossip from around the Premier League…


Tottenham’s busy summer (like, super, super busy compared to the last few…) looks set to continue.

Spurs are reportedly in talks to sign Real Madrid and Spain U21 midfielder Dani Ceballos. According to our partners at Sky Sports, Ceballos, 22, prefers an initial loan move away from the Santiago Bernabeu so he can get more regular action.

He has four years left on his current contract at Real after joining them from Real Betis in 2017, and he may have to further bide his time to become a regular for the Spanish giants as he’s made a modest 53 appearances (mostly off the bench) in all competitions over the past two seasons. That said, do Spurs need another midfield? They’ve completed the club-record signing of Tanguy Ndombele for the defensive midfield role, while Harry Winks and Moussa Sissoko will also compete for starting spots, and both Dele Alli and Christian Eriksen are in the attacking midfield roles for now.

The most likely scenario for Ceballos signing for Tottenham is if Eriksen leaves, as he said he wants to, this summer and the young Spaniard can arrive to try and prove himself in the Premier League. A loan deal also suits Spurs well, as Daniel Levy is unlikely to sanction many other big-money signings this summer.

After Ceballos’ superb displays in Spain’s victory at the U21 European Championships this summer, there are sure to be plenty of clubs trying to sign the Real youngster who reportedly has a $520 million release clause in his contract.

Nobody is going to pay that for the talented young midfielder, so a loan move is probably about right, for now.


Harvey Elliott, just 16 years old, is closing in on a move to Liverpool.

A move to Liverpool was first reported in the Daily Telegraph, as the youngster who became the youngster-ever Premier League player when he made his debut for Fulham last season has been chased by some of Europe’s top clubs over the summer.

But according to multiple reports Elliott has decided to take his talents to Anfield, a place where Jurgen Klopp gives youth a chance.

Liverpool will have to pay Fulham a compensation fee, but he cannot yet sign a professional contract as he’s under 17 years old. Elliott was wanted by Real Madrid, PSG and Barcelona among many other clubs. This is a huge coup for Liverpool.

Elliott will have seen plenty of youngsters breaking through at Liverpool in recent years as the likes of Trent Alexander-Arnold and Joe Gomez are prime examples, while the signing of highly-rated center back Sepp van den Berg and the progression of the likes of Rhian Brewster, Marko Grujic and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain all point to strong development of youngsters under Klopp at very different stages of their careers.

The England U17 international is an attacking midfielder and is regarded as one of the best young talents in European soccer. It will be intriguing to see how quickly he will break through in the months and years ahead, especially as Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino still have plenty left in the tank.

He has already got the haircut of a superstar…

Tottenham smash transfer record to sign Ndombele

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Tanguy Ndombele is now officially a Tottenham Hotspur player.

The French international, 22, completed his move to the Premier League on Tuesday as Spurs shattered their transfer record to sign the central midfield from Lyon.

Ndombele has reportedly cost Tottenham close to $82 million, which almost doubles their previous record transfer fee of $45 million for Davinson Sanchez in 2017.

With several top clubs across Europe chasing Ndombele, he has chosen to head to White Hart Lane on a contract until 2025, as Spurs will build their entire midfield around the exciting two-way player.

Ndombele has been superb for Lyon over the past two seasons and has broken into the French national team in recent months.

His distribution, reading of the game, dribbling and ability to intercept opponents have elevated him to the this level and he’s one of the best two-way central midfielders in the game right now.

After losing the silky skills of Mousa Dembele, this was an area where Spurs really needed to strengthen. Ndombele’s arrival means the likes of Eric Dier and Victor Wanyama could well be on their way out this summer, with Moussa Sissoko and Harry Winks battling to start alongside him, while Christian Eriksen is likely heading out of the door with just one year left on his current contract.

Signing Ndombele is a massive coup in the transfer market for Tottenham.

Daniel Levy spending this much money on one player is a huge statement on its own, and it will also help to keep the likes of Harry Kane and Dele Alli enthused about the Spurs project as they continue to challenge in the Champions League and the top four of the Premier League.

After going 18 months without signing a single new player (517 days, if you were counting…), Tottenham signed two new players in one day as promising teenager Jack Clarke arrived from Leeds United just before Ndombele and the English winger was then loaned back to Leeds for the 2019-20 campaign.

Turns out it is true what they say about London buses…

Transfer rumor roundup: Zaha to Arsenal; Ndombele delay

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The transfer window is officially open again and that means one thing: transfer reports are kicking up a few notches between now and Aug. 8 when the window shuts for the 2019-20 season.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

Here’s a look at some of the latest gossip from around the Premier League…


According to our partners at Sky Sports Wilfried Zaha has told Crystal Palace he wants to leave this summer for a fresh challenge.

The report states that he wants to sign for another club in London who play in Europe, which narrows it down to Arsenal, Tottenham and Chelsea. The latter have a transfer ban, so that’s not going to happen, so Zaha is eyeing north London.

He grew up as an Arsenal fan and per the report the Gunners have been sounded out about a deal and are going to be a bid in for Palace’s star who they value at $100 million. Zaha, 26, is currently away on international duty with the Ivory Coast but has started their two opening games on the bench, and would be a instant starter at either Arsenal or Spurs with his incredible pace and trickery out wide a nightmare to defend.

Zaha came through the ranks at Palace before being sold to Manchester United in 2013, but he then returned to Palace first on loan and then permanently in January 2015. It is believed United will receive 25 percent of any transfer fee Palace receive, as this is another huge blow for the Eagles who have already sold Aaron Wan-Bissaka to Man United this summer and Zaha scored  10 Premier League goals last season.

Despite signing a huge new contract last summer, Zaha spoke to the Daily Mail towards the end of last season about wanting to move on.

“For me to be better, to achieve what I know I am capable of, I have to aim to play at the very highest level, to win trophies,” Zaha said. “I’m blessed to have come this far in my playing career. But I feel like there is so much more I have to offer. I have to experience the Champions League. I just need the opportunity, that’s it. And I’ll do the rest.”

Now it’s about Arsenal putting up the cash to sign Zaha, and they’ll likely have to offload a few players to bring him in as Unai Emery reportedly has just $60 million to spend this summer after the Gunners failed to qualify for the UEFA Champions League.


Tottenham may be in for Zaha in the long run, but someone they are much closer to signing is Lyon and France central midfielder Tanguy Ndombele.

But they better hurry up.

A deal for Ndombele, 22, was said to be close as Spurs closed in on a significant signing after going 18 months without a new addition to their squad over the last three transfer windows.

But Jean-Michel Aulas, Lyon’s president, has revealed he will increase the price for Ndombele to $90 million unless Spurs crack on with negotiations.

“If I wait another eight days, it will be €80m. Tottenham made us an opening offer worth €45m. Then, we discussed more. Nothing is done, I can assure you. We are not in a hurry either. Tanguy has shown his qualities with the French national team. He is one of our best players. How much is he worth? I do not know, but not just €45m,” Aulas said.

“We had people speaking all night with Daniel Levy. He talks a lot and goes back on what we’ve agreed in writing. Agreements have not at all been respected. We had email exchanges which have been contradicted, so that’s made it very complicated. It’s difficult. The Tottenham board’s theory is to explain that the economic market is very hard and so we have to get used to renegotiating.

“It’s been very, very difficult. I’ve got 25 years of experience as a president of a club and it’s our 16th participation in a European competition in a row. But this is very rare in the football world. The negotiation with the Tottenham directors has been the hardest I have ever had to undergo in these 25 years.”

Now, Lyon’s president is known for being pretty outrageous with his public comments and this is no different. It also proves what everyone knows about Daniel Levy, that he is one of the top negotiators out there.

Spurs need someone to hold down central midfield, with Victor Wanyama and Eric Dier not really working out, while Moussa Sissoko has surprisingly been a revelation in a slightly different role in central midfield. Ndombele has been superb for Lyon over the past two seasons and has broken into the French national team in recent months. His distribution, reading of the game, dribbling and ability to intercept opponents have elevated him to the this level and he’s one of the best two-way central midfielders in the game right now.

This would be a massive coup in the transfer market for Tottenham.

With Christian Eriksen expected to move on this summer, Spurs will have some cash to spend and getting in Ndombele and perhaps improving their central defense with Toby Alderweireld also rumored to be leaving, has to be the priority.

Report: Tottenham chasing Lyon, France’s Ndombele

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Tottenham, in need of a new holding midfielder, may be close to bringing one of the top up and coming players in that position into the club.

Sky Sports Italia reported on Wednesday that Tottenham has begun discussions to sign Lyon midfielder Tanguy Ndombele. The report states that while both Tottenham and the player’s representatives are far apart in terms of a deal, talks are ongoing. Juventus is also reportedly a potential landing spot for the 22-year-old Frenchman.

Like Ferland Mendy, Ndombele’s now former teammate, just signed at Real Madrid, Ndombele has been a breakout star in Ligue 1 as a No. 6 for Lyon.

This past season, Ndombele started 34 league games for Lyon, scoring a goal and helping them keep the seventh-best defense in the league. Ndombele also keeps the ball moving, which helped Lyon score 70 goals, second most in Ligue 1.

That central midfield spot, currently occupied at Spurs by pretty much only Moussa Sissoko and Harry Winks, is desperately in need of some depth. This is especially since the departure of Moussa Dembele last January.

For Spurs, signing a rising star like Ndombele is a great player to bet on, especially as he’s earned himself a cap with the France National steam over the past 12 months.

Inside story from Madrid for the Champions League final

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MADRID – One of the great occasions in the sporting calendar saw Tottenham and Liverpool collide for the biggest prize in European soccer as Madrid was at the center of the sporting world over the past few days.

The UEFA Champions League final is the biggest club game on the planet. Quite simply, Madrid was the perfect place to host this event.

[ MORE: All of the UCL final news ]

By land, sea and air, the English invaded Spain’s capital city and surrounding areas for one last battle in what was a season to remember for the Premier League.

The PL has delivered not only one of the most exhilarating title races in history, but its strength in Europe is clear with Chelsea beating Arsenal in the Europa League final on Wednesday and Liverpool beating Spurs to secure a sixth European Cup.

This is the story of what it was like to be in Madrid for 72 hours before, during and after the epic clash between Liverpool and Tottenham.


THE BUILD UP

Each club was given around 16,000 tickets to sell to their fans who were lucky enough to meet the criteria. Atletico Madrid’s Wanda Metropolitano Stadium holds close to 70,000 and there were well over 70,000 Englishman in Madrid, according to estimations. The Department for Transportation in the UK stated that the Friday before the final was set to be its “busiest-ever day in airspace history” with more than 800 extra flights put on for travel to and from Spain.

In Madrid, the scene along the Gran Via and in the Plaza Mayor and Puerta del Sol was a sight to behold.

Red shirts. White flags. The names of Kane and Salah adorned the back of shirts as far as the eye could see.

This was a celebration of all things great about the Premier League, as two sleeping giants of England had been awoken by two relentless, yet wonderfully lovable, managers.

Before the game both Klopp and Pochettino had tried to talk down the significance of winning the Champions League. You could see right through them. This was their career-defining moment.

Klopp could finally end his trophy drought at Liverpool and get his hands on the biggest trophy of them all to join Paisley, Fagan and Benitez in delivering a European title. Pochettino had yet to win a trophy in his managerial career and he was already a winner as Spurs had never been to the Champions League final before.

The pressure was on Liverpool. Fans in Madrid on both sides of the fence could sense it leading up to kick off.

At the stadium on the Friday before the game, Pochettino, Klopp and their players were relaxed with jokes galore and Spurs’ players relaxed with their families in the warm evening sunshine after their training session.

Respect was in the air between the managers as both praised the job the other has done, while Klopp was asked about his losing record in finals (he had lost six-straight major finals).

“If I would be the reason for losing six finals in a row then everyone needs to worry. … There can be moments that are unlucky and lucky, but I cannot change that. I understand luck as if you work for it then you get it from time to time,” Klopp added.

Pochettino agreed that fate will play its part and shared his respect for Klopp and Liverpool.

“Sometimes the universe is with you, sometimes it’s against you. But to arrive in a third champions league final? I admire him a lot. Of course we are in football because we want to win but I think the journey to the final of the Champions League is the most important and the most difficult thing.”

The journey both sets of fans have been on just to get to Madrid was pretty epic, and difficult, too.


THE FANS

Sure, the majority of the fans came from England. But wandering around Madrid I spoke to people from Australia, the Far East, South America and the United States of America. This was a truly international occasion, one which showcased the power of the Premier League to the world in one of Europe’s largest and most famous cities.

Tales of fans driving to Spain from England through France, others getting boats to the Iberian peninsula, and flying into cities all over Spain and France then catching trains to converge in Madrid were rife among the groups of fans as they sipped on beer in the many winding streets.

An American couple from Colorado, Max Nolan and Jayne Thompson, are huge Liverpool fans and found themselves in Madrid in the lead up to the final at a wedding they had booked to go to months in advance. When Liverpool reached the final they tried to change their flights for extra time in Spain and get tickets for the game, but it just wasn’t possible as they flew back to the USA on the day of the final.

But that didn’t stop them taking in the sights as Max wore his retro Liverpool jersey with pride as he stood off a side street near Calle de Leon.

“For me it has been overwhelmingly Liverpool fans who have sung louder and prouder,” Nolan laughed. “We were just walking down the street and a group of guys started singing ‘Allez, Allez, Allez!’ and another guy was like, ‘oh, just shut up’ and he was a Spurs fan. The vibe is very cool. It makes me really, really wish I was staying here for the game. The city is going to be electric.”

Oh, it was.

In the 90 degree heat and the hustle and bustle of Spain’s capital city, there was no sign of any skirmishes between Liverpool and Spurs fans. In keeping with the overall mood of the final, both teams respected one another and the odds they had overcome to reach the pinnacle of the European game.

That tone was set by Klopp and Pochettino and with both clubs littered with England internationals and having epic battles over the past few years, respect has been earned as both coaches have built their projects from scratch at pretty much the same time. Of course, Klopp has had more money to spend, but Spurs’ new stadium means they will be pushing all the way in the years to come.

But all of that went out the window for one more intense battle to cap a truly remarkable season for English and European soccer.

Tottenham’s fans, for the most part, were just delighted to be in this situation.

Londoner Pete Crockford stood in the middle of Puerta del Sol as Spurs and Liverpool fans swirled around him singing, dancing and drinking in the sun.

“It is unbelievable. I have to pinch myself, I just can’t believe I’m here,” Crockford said. “The atmosphere is absolutely fantastic. Walking around a foreign capital city, seeing members of my family everywhere and bumping into Spurs fans, it is just unreal. The fact there are two English clubs here, this says a lot about the strength of the Premier League. There has been a little bit of tension with the Liverpool fans, but mostly just friendly banter.”

A group of Liverpool fans wearing shirts commemorating their incredible comeback Champions League win in Istanbul in 2005 stood nearby and they had flown in from Melbourne, Australia for the game. Yep, all the way from Oz.

Stuart and Kal just had to be in Madrid to see their beloved Liverpool do their business, they hoped, once again.

“We’ve got good vibes, that is why we came here!” laughed Kal.

“On paper, we are the better team,” Stuart added. “We’ve got more experience and we are confident.”

“This atmosphere is awesome, having everything central here in Madrid is pretty cool. The chanting, two English clubs going at each other. It is quite jovial. Spurs and Liverpool don’t have a hateful relationship, everyone is enjoying themselves, bit of banter and beer, it’s all good! The fact there is going to be over 150,000 English supporters over here, it says it all,” Kal added.

Estimations rose throughout the 24 hours leading up to the game, with fans pilling into the main fan zones and metro stations nearby being shut down due to the huge volume of supporters present.

Squares were taken over by either Liverpool or Spurs supporters, but there wasn’t a hint of trouble. Pochettino and Klopp’s names were sung long into the night in Madrid before the game, as plenty of sore heads were present on the morning of the game.

One Liverpool fan sat on a bench, leaning to one side with a cigarette dangling out of his mouth. Would he make it to watch the game in the stadium or on TV somewhere? Hmmm…


GAMEDAY

On the day of the game, things were ramped up several notches. Even more fans arrived on flights, with many saying they tried to buy tickets from others on the plane and there was a mad scramble to try and get inside the stadium.

Two huge fan zone areas were created, one for each team, as supporters watched footage of their teams run to the final on big screens, danced to music and sung their hearts out.

At Tottenham’s fan zone at the Plaza de Colon, I met Dave from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania who had flown over for the game, keeping his pact with his daughter, Sam, who flew in from Argentina.

While in the Plaza Felipe II, Liverpool’s fans took over the entire area as flares were in the air, music was blasting out and there were bright red shirts as far as you could see.

Cries of “loco, loco” from taxi drivers and locals summed it up.

Liverpool’s huge fanbase around the globe was wonderfully apparent as they seemed to heavily outnumber Spurs supporters in the Spanish capital.

And the party atmosphere flowed through the fans in the street and at the stadium.

Arriving at the Metropolitano, about eight miles outside the city center, people wearing jerseys of all kinds were there. It was like going to an NFL game at Wembley, where shirts of so many teams from some many countries were worn proudly.

One quick scan revealed Honduras, Paraguay, Atletico Madrid, Argentina, Colombia, Juventus, Ajax and Mexico jerseys, while Brazil, Real Madrid and Deportivo Cali were all represented.

Wherever you looked you saw another intriguing jersey, another set of fans who weren’t necessarily Spurs or Liverpool supporters but where there to soak up one of the great sporting occasions on the planet.

The same camaraderie between Spurs and Liverpool that was present throughout the days leading up to the final was also present outside the stadium. Two Spurs fans were walking along with a group of Liverpool fans reminiscing about the amazing comebacks of both clubs at the semifinal stage.

“Yeah, I turned on your second half, and just couldn’t believe it. Fair play.”

Fans respected one another and were united in one cause: getting into the stadium.

Hours before kick off fans were still circling outside the ground on the hunt for tickets, but many of their quests would be unsuccessful with prices of over $10,000 being mentioned for what had now become a golden ticket scenario.

The teams getting to the stadium was broadcast live on television, as helicopters hovered over Madrid and showed their team bus as they snaked through the sprawling suburbs in the searing heat.

Thanks to the help of the Imagine Dragons on the pitch before the game, the noise inside the stadium got louder and louder before kick off as fans streamed in and arrived early.

A stirring rendition of “You’ll Never Walk Alone” then made the hairs on the back of your neck stand up.

Then it began. And it started with a bang…


THE GAME

There was almost disbelief that a moment like this could occur with 23 seconds on the clock. It set the tone for the entire game.

Sadio Mane‘s clipped ball inside the penalty box hit Moussa Sissoko‘s arm after clipping his chest, as a harsh, but correct penalty kick was given.

Mohamed Salah smashed home the spot kick to make it 1-0 and the red half of the stadium erupted as Liverpool’s fans were in dreamland.

The rest of the first half saw Spurs have plenty of the ball as Liverpool waited to pick them off on the break, but there were so many individual mistakes as a combination of a three-week break before the final, plus the intense heat and Madrid and maybe, just maybe, the pressure had got to the players after all.

In the second half Spurs improved but Alisson made several fine stops and substitute Divock Origi then drilled home a low shot to seal the win.

Klopp had his first trophy at Liverpool and could finally shed his loser tag.

Liverpool’s players and fans didn’t care that they hadn’t played well and celebrated long into the night in Madrid, chanting down alleyways and in pubs as many didn’t go to sleep as they soaked up a sixth European title.

“Sometimes we carry the burden of history,” Klopp said afterwards as he was asked if Liverpool can reach the final in Istanbul next season. But now this Liverpool side are thriving amid a golden generation of players who believe they deserve to dominate Europe for years to come. 

For now, add Madrid to the list of places which will always endear itself to the Liverpool faithful.

And in keeping with the overall mood around the game, fans of both teams mingled after the game. In one bar a Liverpool fan walked up to a group of Spurs supporters and offered his condolences. “That was us last season, you’ll bounce back, don’t be too upset.”

The fans of Liverpool and Tottenham were a credit to their clubs.

Another famous night, and days, played out.

The final itself was far from memorable, on the pitch, but the days in Madrid around it truly delivered a sparkling showcase of the beautiful game.

It was a fitting place to hold one of the great occasions and the Champions League final should return there very soon.