• Manager Jurgen Klopp rates him highly and said this week: “He is a very good footballer with an attitude to win and to compete and I really like his mentality. He fits perfectly to our dressing room desire.”
• Sitting in his office resting his head in his hands in deep concentration last week, Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta was thinking hard about what to do with Lucas Torreira.
Having spoken to my colleagues in Athens about Liverpool’s new signing Kostas Tsimikas, the Red’s fans will be delighted to know they are getting the genuine article.
Tsimikas knows he has hit the jackpot by joining the title holders and he plans to make the most of it. He will wear the No21 shirt number previously worn by Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. When I spoke with his club Olympiacos I was amused to learn that he regularly studies videos of Liverpool full back Andy Robertson in order to improve his game.
Manager Jurgen Klopp rates him highly and said this week: “He is a very good footballer with an attitude to win and to compete and I really like his mentality. He fits perfectly to our dressing room desire.”
Both French club Nice and Italian side Napoli narrowly missed out on signing the 24-year-old who travels to Liverpool tomorrow to begin his new adventure. Tsimikas might be a new name to Liverpool fans but the club scouts spotted him three years ago and his name has been mentioned to me on several occasions. Scouts covering the Dutch leagues noticed this fast, pacy and aggressive left back and marked his name with the club.
Liverpool were given the chance to see him playing for Olympiacos in 2018 when he shackled Aaron Lennon so effectively that the winger was replaced in the 75th minute.
Liverpool are experts at patiently checking out potential new signings and they watched Tsimikas for two years, continually keeping accurate notes on his match performances, his temperament and progress. When the time was right the Reds signed him up.
AC Milan want Torreira
Sitting in his office resting his head in his hands in deep concentration last week, Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta was thinking hard about what to do with Lucas Torreira.
The midfielder had a tough time last season, was in and out of the first team and previously played out of position under Unai Emery and then suffered a broken ankle. Why Arteta has a decision to make is because Italian giants AC Milan want Lucas.
Napoli tried to take him back to Serie A last January and now Milan are putting together a bid to present to the Arsenal manager and his board of directors. Torriera himself has settled in England but he has not achieved the sort of success he enjoyed in Italy.
He is away on holiday at the moment and not available but I can see he might be keen on a move back to Italy.
United and Dortmund in battle of tactics
The Jadon Sancho tug of war between Manchester United and Dortmund is far from over despite what you might have heard or read. Having ignored Dortmund’s self-imposed transfer deadline last Monday, it was then discovered that the German club extended Sancho’s contract by twelve months last year.
However, United have revealed to me that they believe the signing of Norwegian Eric Haaland and midfielder Jude Bellingham has exhausted Dortmund’s under pressure finances and selling Sancho must be an option to balance the books. Dortmund believe in their business model of buying cheap and young and cashing in by selling an established player after a few years.
Dortmund deny this. However, recent history does point to that fact. Dortmund Sporting Director Michael Zorc said in a press conference that Sancho would be playing for his team next season. However, that is the same Zorc who held a press conference in 2017 and said that Ousmane Dembele would definitely be playing for the club in the “coming season” and two months later, the French international signed for Barcelona for £135million.
There is more to this power game to come in the next week or two and to put pressure on Dortmund, United have made serious enquiries about Barcelona’s Ousmane Dembele as an alternative.
Willian: the perfect professional
I have watched Chelsea midfielder Willian train and play many, many times. He is the consummate professional. It is the right time for him to go and Arsenal will be signing one of the most talented players in the Premier League.
Blues’ manager Frank Lampard, who both played with and managed Willian, is rebuilding a rejuvenated squad but he remains an admirer of the Brazilian’s skills. Lampard took both Callum Hudson-Odoi and Christian Pulisic aside when they made the breakthrough into the senior side and told them to watch and copy everything Willian did in training.
“You should aspire to become what he is,” said Lampard. As defender Antonio Rudiger said this week: “On the pitch he does his stuff. He does not shout or wave his arms about and is quiet but he does his stuff. In training he is always shooting and trying to improve. Our young players have been very privileged to play and train with him and learn from him.”
Fans support Maitland-Niles
There has been an outcry from Arsenal fans because the club hierarchy announced that defender Ainsley Maitland-Niles is a possible transfer window sale.
Supporters are asking why, when manager Mikel Arteta has publicly supported Ainsley, the club want to sell him? He was one of the best performers in the recent FA Cup win and as a wing-back, posed constant threats to the Chelsea defence.
However, fans are pointing out that his main strength and qualities are being able to play in several positions, wing-back, central defence and even midfield.
United player “feel good”
Okay, I admit that Manchester United didn’t exactly shine in their performance against Lask in the Europa League. However the most notable thing about the team training session prior to the match was the general “feel good” approach of the players who clearly enjoyed themselves.
The standard in training is much better than this time last year. Pogba was showing signs of tiredness during the run in to the end of the season but looked very sharp in training. A lovely overhead lob by Odion Ighalo to Fernandes saw the Spaniard send Victor Lindelof the wrong way with a smart back heel.
Pogba shared a joke with Fred and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer as the manager got in on the footballing act with some deft passes and the whole squad radiated smiles. It is amazing how this group of players have changed so much in attitude from the days of Jose Mourinho and their “feel good” factor will play a big part in the start to the new season in a month’s time.
Newcastle fans revolt
A powerful Newcastle supporters group known as NUST (Newcastle United Supporters Trust) have gathered 105,000 signatures and pledges of support from 40 MP’s to demand transparency over the failed takeover by a Saudi-backed financial group.
The target of their anger are the Premier League officials who held up the deal for several months and then forced a breakdown of the takeover. Since then, there has been a wall of silence from the League.
I have learned that Newcastle believe the Saudis are still interested and have a handshake agreement with owner Mike Ashley but nothing is moving forward at the moment. Ashley, it appears, might have a case for suing the Premier League for damages over the canceled deal.
Ex-Spurs Pochettino to Roma?
After pricing himself out of the Juventus job, ex-Spurs manager Mauricio Pochettino is closing in on a move to Roma in Serie A. Roma owner Dan Friedkin, who bought the club last week for 550 million euros, wants to replace current manager Paulo Fonseca and is speaking with Pochettino — who will demand an annual wage of around 10million euros. Friedkin wants a manager with Premier League experience and he is determined to challenge the might of Juventus and the two Milan clubs.
Ajax want Spur’s Sessegnon
Spurs have told me they will let Serge Aurier and Juan Foyth go if they can capture the signature of French club Lille’s right back Zeki Celik.
The Turkey international is only 23 years-of-age and Jose Mourinho thinks he will strengthen the back line along with new signing Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg who will arrive from Southampton.
To my surprise Tottenham are thinking about letting full back Ryan Sessegnon go out on a year-long loan to Dutch club Ajax. Ajax have also asked if the England Under-21 will be available for a permanent move after next season.