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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.

Eriksen hints at desire to leave Spurs

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Tottenham could look a whole lot different next year as the team’s playmaker hinted he was ready to “try something new.”

Speaking to Danish publication Ekstra Bladet at Denmark National Team camp, midfielder Christian Eriksen stated, with just one year remaining on his contract at Spurs, that he could be set for a move away from London this summer.

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“I have the wildest and deepest respect for everything that has happened in Tottenham, it will not be negative,” Eriksen told Ekstra Bladet. “But I have also said that I would like to try something new. I hope there will be a clarification during the summer. That’s the plan. In football you do not know when a clarification comes. It can happen anytime. Everyone wants it best if it happens as soon as possible, but in football things take time.”

Eriksen, who has appeared more than 200 times for Spurs since joining in 2013, helped the North London side maneuver through nearly two seasons playing away from home at Wembley Stadium, as well as helping lead Tottenham to the UEFA Champions League final.

Losing the creative Danish playmaker would be a big blow to a team with an already small squad, one who wasn’t allowed, or able, to make a single signing in each of the last two transfer windows.

Surely this summer there will be more money to spent on bringing in reinforcements, but it’s hard to see Tottenham as successful if Eriksen leaves, unless they use that money to bring in the next Eriksen from Ajax — Donny van de Beek anybody? — or Erik Lamela finally overcomes his injury problems and becomes the playmaking star he was in Argentina and Italy.

What next for Eriksen? Real Madrid are of course looking to improve their squad, and a player of Eriksen’s quality will be on the radar of just about all the big stars. Would he accept a move to Manchester United if given a salary raise, even if it means a season back in the Europa League? Would Bayern Munich replace James’ place in the squad with Eriksen.

Its sure to be an interesting summer ahead…

Pochettino hopeful Kane can ‘give us a hand’ in UCL final

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Harry Kane returned to training this week as Tottenham continues preparations for the UEFA Champions League final.

The England and Tottenham captain has been out with yet another ankle injury since April 9. Initially feared he would be out for the rest of the season, Kane now looks set to play in the final match of the season, and his manager Mauricio Pochettino is hopeful he can make an impact.

“He’s training and has entered the final stage of his recovery, Pochettino told a conference in Bilbao, via video link, per AS. “We’re hoping he’ll be able to give us a hand – either from the start, from the bench or if not, then by giving us moral support in the dressing room. But we are optimistic that he’ll be able to help us on the pitch.”

Pochettino completed a magnificent feat guiding Tottenham to the Champions League final, but he may have one of the most difficult decisions he has to make in his managerial career ahead.

Should Kane be available to start, Pochettino has to decide whether he should break from the lineup that came back from a 3-0 deficit to Ajax, and potentially put Lucas Moura on the bench. If Tottenham loses, Pochettino is probably darned if he does, darned if he doesn’t with Kane.

Either Kane wasn’t fit enough to play and make a big impact, or he clearly was and he didn’t have enough time in the match.

Regardless, Pochettino will hope to have a full squad available, with Kane able to make a difference should be needed.

 

Champions League Preview: Ajax v. Tottenham

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With a one-goal deficit, Tottenham can take serious solace and hope from Liverpool’s incredible 4-0 win over Barcelona – anything is possible.

Heading into the second leg of Tottenham’s UEFA Champions League semifinal tie with Ajax, set to take place Wednesday (3 p.m.) at the Johan Cruyff Arena in Amsterdam, Tottenham only have to claw back from a 1-0 first leg deficit, one that seems entirely more manageable. Spurs are boosted by the return of Heung-Min Son, who, though he was sent off in the Premier League, knows this could be his last game of the season unless Tottenham advances to the final.

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In the first leg, Tottenham came out of the gates lethargic and allowed Ajax to dictate play, and it showed. The Ajax midfield, filled with smooth-passing, highly intelligent players ran Tottenham in circles, and ended up scoring the opening goal. That Tottenham only allowed one goal at the time seemed like a win, that’s how much better Ajax had been playing. Mauricio Pochettino‘s side settled into the game better and while they didn’t manage to break down Ajax, the tired, bruised and thin squad learned some key lessons about Ajax in the first leg. Namely, they can be beaten down the wings, if one can get behind Nico Tagliafico and Joel Veltman.

Ultimately, Liverpool showed that it doesn’t matter if your stars are missing – Tottenham are set to be without Harry Kane, Harry Winks and Davinson Sanchez. The mentality of the group, the never say die attitude, is the most important aspect, one that Pochettino will surely have on display from his side.

“The negative result in the first leg obviously makes it more difficult, but the tie is still open,” Pochettino told reporters on Tuesday, via UEFA.com. We know we need to win and perform our best. It’s an exciting moment for us. We need to feel more freedom to play, because we have nothing to lose. Nobody thought that we would have the chance in the last week of the season to reach the final of the Champions League. Now we need to enjoy this moment and believe.”

Ajax has been believing all season. Two years after making it to the Europa League final, this Ajax project has watched its players grow and blossom into an incredible group, one that has put both Real Madrid and Juventus to the sword as the Dutch giants were clearly the better team.

Frenkie de Jong, Donny van de Beek, and Lasse Schone in midfield, with Dusan Tadic flanked by Hakim Ziyech and David Neres up top has been one of the most clinical strike forces in all of Europe. Add to that the experience of Daley Blind and the youth talent of Matthijs de Ligt, and you have a recipe for great success.

Unlike Tottenham, which has seen its league form plummet – though it likely will retain its place in the UEFA Champions League for next season based on league position – Ajax has continued beating all who stand in its way. AJax routed Willem II, 4-0, to win the Dutch Cup, and is looking to do the treble with an Eredivisie title and the UEFA Champions League as the cherry on top of a dream year.

Of course, Ajax will have to raise their game yet again to hold off a Tottenham team with, like Pochettino said, nothing to lose.

“During the last hour [of the first leg] we did good things; the organisation of the team in defense was excellent,” Ajax coach Erik ten Hag said. “We need to do more in an attacking sense. We have to read the game and see what’s required and that’s the challenge. The away goal was important last week. We will play in an arena with an incredible atmosphere and we hope that will help us. When you play against a Premier League team, the intensity is higher. We will have to push our boundaries again.”

Tottenham v. Ajax: Key Battles in UCL semifinal

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Much of the talk ahead of round one between Tottenham v. Ajax is on the big story, of how Tottenham and Ajax’s magical runs have led them to the UEFA Champions League semifinal.

Let’s take a closer look at the story within the story, at some of the key battles on the field that will determine the outcome of the game.


[READ: UCL Preview: Tottenham v. Ajax]

Frenkie de Jong v. Christian Eriksen

This is the obvious matchup, with the current Ajax midfielder facing the former Ajax creator. Eriksen will likely spend a considerable amount of energy tracking de Jong as he looks to hit passes wide and forward, as well as keep the ball moving. At the other end, Eriksen will have to use quick movement to create space around de Jong, who is a strong defender but isn’t known as a true No. 6, and could be beat on the dribble. It will be fascinating to see who comes out on top in this battle.

Danny Rose v. Hakim Ziyech

Along with de Jong and de Ligt, Ziyech is a Dutch-born player who the Netherlands probably wishes it could call up, playing as well as he ever has in his career. The 26-year-old has been tremendous as a winger, especially in the Champions League. He’ll next face Danny Rose and perhaps even Vertonghen. Rose will want to attack at will down the left wing, which could force the creative Ziyech to spend more time defending. However, if Ziyech slips past Rose and can find the ball in space down his right wing, Tottenham will be in big trouble.

Lucas Moura v. Daley Blind/de Ligt

Moura could be the x-factor for Tottenham up top, with no Son or Kane available. The speedy Brazilian has played well in a striker role over the past couple of months, and his speed could keep the centerback duo of Blind and de Ligt honest, as well as putting the attention on Lucas. That could in theory open the door for Llorente to find a pocket of space in the box on a cross from Rose or Kieran Trippier.