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Transfer rumor roundup
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Transfer rumor roundup: Celtic star to Spurs, Thiago to Man City

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On a day in which Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta highlighted the challenges of teams in the transfer market this summer/fall, we’ve got some very interesting new rumors.

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Let’s continue with a North London note, and a big one at that.

Six-foot-five Celtic powerhouse Kristoffer Ajer is a target of Tottenham Hotspur, says Polish side Sporten.

Ajer claims his focus is on Celtic and acknowledged the two years left on his contract.

The towering center back has 14 caps at the age of 21 and has been an absolute force since dropping back from center mid, where he made his name in Norway with Start.

Ajer has chipped in five goals with three assists in 129 senior appearances for the Glaswegian set.

This could be a solid and shrewd move by Daniel Levy as Spurs bid to improve his defense while lowering the average age of the corps.

Man City’s in the news, too, as a potential reunion looms for Pep Guardiola at the Etihad Stadium.

Thiago Alcantara has been with Guardiola at Barcelona and Bayern Munich, and now could leave Bavaria for the Etihad Stadium according to Don Balon.

Thiago, 28, has three goals and two assists in 2500-plus minutes for Bayern this season and has won eight league titles between La Liga and the Bundesliga.

He has 37 caps with two goals for Spain, and would give incredible depth to City’s already strong midfield. But would he be willing to spend the end of his prime with a club likely not in the Champions League for at least one season?

Premier League players launch fund to help medical workers

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Premier League players are pitching into a new fund to help combat coronavirus in England.

While the much-discussed and controversial topic has been pay cuts for players, the players are making a statement of generosity in the interim.

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“A huge number of players from all Premier League clubs” have agreed to contribute money to help those on the National Health Service’s many charity groups, aiming to “help the frontline” in the fight against coronavirus.

Premier League captains Jordan Henderson of Liverpool and Harry Kane of Tottenham Hotspur were among a host of players to share the statement on Twitter:

“The contributions that this initiative will generate will help NHSCT quickly grant fund to the front line to support in a number of ways, including to help enhance the well-being of NHS staff, volunteers and patients impacted by COVID-19 as well as helping them in their work supporting many other critical areas of need both now and in the longer term.

NHS charities director Ellie Orton calls it a “fantastic” initiative that will raise “vital funds” for the country.

Mourinho apologizes for training session with Ndombele

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Tottenham Hotspur manager Jose Mourinho has been forced to apologize after he was pictured conducting a training session with Spurs midfielder Tanguy Ndombele on Hadley Common in London, against government regulations during the coronavirus lockdown.

The British government’s orders specify that outdoor exercising is forbidden with anyone other than oneself or members of one’s immediate household.

“I accept that my actions were not in line with government protocol and we must only have contact with members of our own household,” Mourinho said in a statement released through the club. “It is vital we all play our part and follow government advice in order to support our heroes in the NHS and save lives.”

In addition to Mourinho and Ndombele, Ryan Sessegnon and Davinson Sanchez were also pictured running together in another area of the Hadley Common at the same time, failing to respect the government order or the required social distancing guidelines. Serge Aurier also posted a picture of himself to social media running with another unidentified individual.

“All of our players have been reminded to respect social distancing when exercising outdoors,” a Tottenham spokesperson added to Mourinho’s statement. “We shall continue to reinforce this message.”

“My concern is people, particularly children, who might support Spurs or follow football, may see these images, pick up a paper, watch the internet and think ‘well if it’s ok for them, why isn’t it ok for me?’” said London mayor Sadiq Khan to the BBC Wednesday morning. “I don’t think it is necessary to be training in close proximity with another player who may be carrying the virus. And what you’re doing is inadvertently, unintentionally, potentially spreading the virus – you shouldn’t be doing that.”

Mourinho’s workout with Ndombele is especially notable as Mourinho has harshly criticized Ndombele’s performances in the recent past, most notably after substituting the midfielder off at halftime of Tottenham’s 1-1 draw against Burnley in early March, just before the coronavirus shutdown.

Mourinho in hot water after park training session with Ndombele

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Tottenham Hotspur is said to be “very unimpressed” after Jose Mourinho led a training session for at least one player on Tuesday.

England is currently in lock down with “government-enforced measures meaning people can only go outside for food, health reasons or work if you cannot do it from home.”

Several reports say Mourinho ran Tanguy Ndombele through individual paces while Ryan Sessegnon and Davinson Sanchez jogged separately at Hadley Common in North London.

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“All of our players have been reminded to respect social distancing when exercising outdoors. We shall continue to reinforce this message,” said a Spurs spokesman in the report.

It’s irresponsible at best from Mourinho. Even if he felt he could skirt the government’s rules in a pandemic —  not a good idea at all — he has to have the presence of mind to recognize that he’s one of the most recognizable soccer faces in a soccer-mad country.

 

Son to complete military service in South Korea

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Tottenham have confirmed that forward Heung-min Son will complete his military service in South Korea this month and will return to London in May.

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Son, 27, previously became exempt from the mandatory 21-month military service as he captained South Korea to gold medal glory at the 2018 Asian Games but there is also a four-week stint he needs to complete in the army.

A new rule which arrived in 2018 means that men in South Korea must enlist in the military by the age of 28 and Son turns 28 on July 8.

Spurs released the following statement on Son’s situation, as he recently returned to South Korea as he continues his rehabilitation from a broken arm he suffered in the 3-2 win at Aston Villa in February.

“The Club can confirm that Heung-Min Son will commence his mandatory military service in South Korea this month. The forward arrived back in his home country at the end of March where he is currently in quarantine. Our medical staff are in regular contact as he concludes his recovery after fracturing his arm in our 3-2 win against Aston Villa on 16 February and continues to train.

“Sonny had surgery on his arm in South Korea before returning to the UK at the end of February to continue his rehabilitation, prior to the initial announcement of the professional game in England being suspended as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Premier League has since announced that the 2019/20 season will only return when it is ‘safe and appropriate to do so’ and is under constant review. Son will return to London following the conclusion of his military service in May.”