ALLI'S MOVE IN DOUBT

Lo Celso injury complicates Alli exit at Spurs

Dele was again left on the bench against league rivals Fulham who scraped a 1-1 draw.

In Summary

•Sources say Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich has been in touch with Massimiliano Allegri and Thomas Tuchel as Lampard's job hang in balance. 

•I was delighted to learn this week that Brighton’s sensational right-back Tariq Lamptey has signed a new contract with the club which runs until 2025.

Sours manager Jose Mourinho celebrates with Serge Aurier and Dele Alli after the match
Sours manager Jose Mourinho celebrates with Serge Aurier and Dele Alli after the match
Image: REUTERS

I watched Tottenham’s match against non-league side, Marine recently and whereas it was the giants versus the minnows, one player stood out for me above all others.

Dele Alli controlled all areas of the pitch, striding around with elegance, majesty, confidence and command. He looked so graceful and incisive. I admit the competition was weak but nevertheless he was the most striking player on the field.

Fast forward to last Saturday and Dele was again left on the bench against league rivals Fulham who scraped a 1-1 draw. Whereas previous manager Mauricio Pochettino was an admirer of Alli, current manager Jose Mourinho has not given him any chance to establish himself this season and has made it clear that the door is open for Alli to leave.

Although frustrated, Alli accepted the situation and is agreeable to a move to Juventus or Paris St-Germain where Pochettino is now manager and keen to bring in Alli. The clubs have talked and a loan deal discussed or even a permanent transfer. However, things have now changed with the injury of Giovani Lo Celso and Tottenham are telling me that they need Alli as part of their squad.

Losing Lo Celso has left Spurs with potential weaknesses if they are unable to cover his midfield position. The hamstring injury to the Argentine could be more severe than first thought and the situation is being constantly reviewed by the Spurs medical team.

He hasn’t played since before Christmas and was expected to be out for three weeks but a return is still not expected for several more weeks. Several Premier League clubs have also shown interest in Alli but the Spur’s management will not let him leave to join any club likely to be involved in the title race which means the six main contenders.

Lampard entering perilous waters


I am hearing very loud noises from Stamford Bridge regarding Chelsea’s Frank Lampard losing his job. My sources tell me that owner Roman Abramovich has been in touch with Massimiliano Allegri and Thomas Tuchel.


Chelsea manager Frank Lampard
Chelsea manager Frank Lampard
Image: /FILE

Allegri guided Juventus to five Serie ‘A’ titles and Thomas Tuchel led Paris St-Germain to the Champions League last season. Lampard, I can reveal, still has the support of the Chelsea board of directors. However, all that counts for nothing if Abramovich decides that Chelsea’s eighth place in the Premier League is not good enough as we approach February.

Abramovich has also spoken with ex-manager and close friend Avram Grant to see if he is interested in a consultancy role at the club. Grant has a lot of football experience and is currently talking to Middle Eastern clubs and advising the Indian football league. Whereas I do not expect to see Lampard leave next week, there is no doubt that the next few games will decide his immediate future.

Pogba apologises to United teammates

After missing the best chance of the match between Manchester United and Liverpool last weekend, Paul Pogba was embarrassed and annoyed with himself. He brilliantly controlled an Aaron Wan-Bissaka pass but then hit the ball straight at goalkeeper Alisson Becker from only eight yards. He fell onto the turf and held his head in his hands. After the game, in the dressing room, Pogba went round each member of the team and apologised and then turned towards his manager Ole Gunner Solskjaer. He told Pogba to forget it and said, “These things happen.” Both Harry Maguire and Scott McTominay also were quick to comfort the crestfallen Pogba and said he should not let it get him down and it could have happened to anyone. Taking his manager’s advice, he then produced a stunning goal in midweek to win the game against Fulham. In the dressing room afterwards, the players were all clapping for his magnificent effort and Solskjaer said, “I knew you would take my advice!” I think that shows the camaraderie, friendship and belief in the United camp these days as they returned to the table top spot.

Garcia, Wijnaldum transfer caught up in Barcelona elections

Manchester City defender Eric Garcia is caught up in Barcelona’s election process. Three candidates are fighting for presidential control of the Nou Camp club but because of Covid-19, there have been delays in the voting.

Meanwhile, Garcia, who is wanted back at the club by all three candidates, has to sit and wait. He has made just 16 league appearances for City since joining in 2017 and has rejected a new contract. Barca manager Ronald Koeman said this week that it was unlikely the club would be able to make any new signings until the summer.

The same story is affecting the plans of Liverpool’s Georginio Wijnaldum. He has refused last-ditch efforts by the Reds to keep the Dutch international in order to fulfil his boyhood dream of playing for Barcelona who have agreed to take him.

Wijnaldum is determined to follow in the footsteps— or should that be boots— of the famous Dutch players who were stars for Barcelona including Johan Cruyff, Ronald Koeman and Frank Rikjaard. With Koeman now manager of Barca, Georginio is even more determined to link up with him.

Bruce under defensive instructions

Newcastle supporters have been getting more and more irritated with the way Newcastle are always playing a defensive game instead of attacking and taking risks.

The reason I can tell you is that owner Mike Ashley has told manager Steve Bruce to keep the club in the Premier League and that is the main priority. Ashley still wants to sell off the club and he knows its value is much greater in the Premier League rather than the Championship. Bruce has organised his team selection and training accordingly.

Picking an attacking team brings with it various risks from counter attacks and loose play and that is another reason why big Andy Carroll has spent most of the season on the bench and coming on for only the very late last stages of a game.

This week, Bruce decided to take that more risky and bold attacking formation with only two in midfield and strength up-front. Carroll started for the first time this season and was selected to lead the line with his heading abilities.

Newcastle played well and pulled off some threatening attacking moves but it all ended with yet another defeat and Bruce has gone back to basics with his assistants, discussing more options at their daily training ground meetings.

Addressing Wolves’ problems

Wolves manager Nuno Espirito Santo knows he has to stop the steady slide down the table. He desperately needs a new striker. Fabio Silva has just scored his second goal this season and Patrick Cutrone has been recalled from a loan period.

Nuno’s persistence of  playing with four at the back has dampened Wolves’ scoring opportunities and the players are more used to a three-man defence. However, it is his star frontline man Adama Traore who is causing the manager to have sleepless nights.

Traore has undoubted talent, can move at ease and dribble round defenders before crossing into the middle. What he does not do is score goals. Player such as Sadio Mane, Harry Kane and Mo Salah score regularly because they move towards the ball.

Traore will watch the ball go out to the right and he will stand still on the left instead of moving towards the goal or to move forward along the byline. It is a bad habit. He has technical ability but rarely runs around when the ball is not in his area of the field.

This season he has no goals and only one assist and the manager has identified the problems. This week on the training field, the assistants have been using a five-a-side match to pinpoint Traore’s movement in order to get him involved in more areas of the game.

Ozil bids his farewell to team-mates

The pain is finally at an end as Arsenal’s Mesut Ozil said goodbye to his teammates and boarded a plane bound for Turkey. He visited Arsenal’s London Colney training ground and it was a sad occasion.


Arsenal's Mesut Ozil in past show
Arsenal's Mesut Ozil in past show
Image: FILE

Obviously there was a frostiness between player and the manager who simply discarded his abilities and cast him out, even though the Gunner’s were still paying him £350k-a-week! Fenerbahce will be his new home after rejecting a call to travel to the US and DC United in the MLS.

Arsenal gave Ozil permission to travel to Turkey for a medical and he went along with his wife Amine Gulse and daughter Eda. It all looked pretty conclusive when Ozil tweeted a picture of his initials in the famous Blue and yellow colours of the Turkish side and then sent a picture of the family boarding the plane.

Fenerbahce is the club he supported as a boy and his parents are Turkish although Mesut was born in Germany. After seven years at the Emirates, since joining from Real Madrid for £42m and a salary which is Arsenal’s highest ever, the saga of what to do with this talented playmaker is finally over.

Mason can mount his career on Lampard

I wrote recently that Frank Lampard wants more goals from Mason Mount. Following Mason’s late goal last weekend to beat Fulham by the solitary goal, Lampard has again told the youngster he must hit the back of the net more often. However, this time he has given the striker a new approach. “Model yourself on my scoring career with Chelsea,” said Lampard.

Lampard was famous for late runs into the penalty area and although he scored plenty from 25 yards, he was deadly in the box. Lampard added: “There are times when we have the ball and he should be further up the pitch. As he gets older, it’ll be very natural for him to understand the moments he can get in there. If he keeps getting into the penalty area he will score more. Goals in the box are what Mason must add to his game and we will work on that in training.”

Lamptey commits future to Brighton

I was delighted to learn this week that Brighton’s sensational right-back Tariq Lamptey has signed a new contract with the club which runs until 2025. The 20-year-old is one of the most exciting prospects of the last year since joining the Seagulls and many European clubs have quickly recognised his talent and sent scouts to watch his progress. Brighton moved quickly to prolong his contract and head coach Graham Potter said, “We knew his potential when we signed him and hoped he would have a really positive impact on the club. He has been a model professional and works exceptionally hard and he is a very likeable and humble lad,” Lamptey has appeared 19-times for Brighton and also earned a place in the England Under-21 squad.

 

I am hearing very loud noises from Stamford Bridge regarding Chelsea’s Frank Lampard losing his job. My sources tell me that owner Roman Abramovich has been in touch with Massimiliano Allegri and Thomas Tuchel.

Allegri guided Juventus to five Serie ‘A’ titles and Thomas Tuchel led Paris St-Germain to the Champions League last season. Lampard, I can reveal, still has the support of the Chelsea board of directors. However, all that counts for nothing if Abramovich decides that Chelsea’s eighth place in the Premier League is not good enough as we approach February.

Abramovich has also spoken with ex-manager and close friend Avram Grant to see if he is interested in a consultancy role at the club. Grant has a lot of football experience and is currently talking to Middle Eastern clubs and advising the Indian football league. Whereas I do not expect to see Lampard leave next week, there is no doubt that the next few games will decide his immediate future.

Pogba apologises to United teammates

After missing the best chance of the match between Manchester United and Liverpool last weekend, Paul Pogba was embarrassed and annoyed with himself. He brilliantly controlled an Aaron Wan-Bissaka pass but then hit the ball straight at goalkeeper Alisson Becker from only eight yards. He fell onto the turf and held his head in his hands. After the game, in the dressing room, Pogba went round each member of the team and apologised and then turned towards his manager Ole Gunner Solskjaer. He told Pogba to forget it and said, “These things happen.” Both Harry Maguire and Scott McTominay also were quick to comfort the crestfallen Pogba and said he should not let it get him down and it could have happened to anyone. Taking his manager’s advice, he then produced a stunning goal in midweek to win the game against Fulham. In the dressing room afterwards, the players were all clapping for his magnificent effort and Solskjaer said, “I knew you would take my advice!” I think that shows the camaraderie, friendship and belief in the United camp these days as they returned to the table top spot.

Garcia, Wijnaldum transfer caught up in Barcelona elections

Manchester City defender Eric Garcia is caught up in Barcelona’s election process. Three candidates are fighting for presidential control of the Nou Camp club but because of Covid-19, there have been delays in the voting.

Meanwhile, Garcia, who is wanted back at the club by all three candidates, has to sit and wait. He has made just 16 league appearances for City since joining in 2017 and has rejected a new contract. Barca manager Ronald Koeman said this week that it was unlikely the club would be able to make any new signings until the summer.

The same story is affecting the plans of Liverpool’s Georginio Wijnaldum. He has refused last-ditch efforts by the Reds to keep the Dutch international in order to fulfil his boyhood dream of playing for Barcelona who have agreed to take him.

Wijnaldum is determined to follow in the footsteps— or should that be boots— of the famous Dutch players who were stars for Barcelona including Johan Cruyff, Ronald Koeman and Frank Rikjaard. With Koeman now manager of Barca, Georginio is even more determined to link up with him.

Bruce under defensive instructions

Newcastle supporters have been getting more and more irritated with the way Newcastle are always playing a defensive game instead of attacking and taking risks.

The reason I can tell you is that owner Mike Ashley has told manager Steve Bruce to keep the club in the Premier League and that is the main priority. Ashley still wants to sell off the club and he knows its value is much greater in the Premier League rather than the Championship. Bruce has organised his team selection and training accordingly.

Picking an attacking team brings with it various risks from counter attacks and loose play and that is another reason why big Andy Carroll has spent most of the season on the bench and coming on for only the very late last stages of a game.

This week, Bruce decided to take that more risky and bold attacking formation with only two in midfield and strength up-front. Carroll started for the first time this season and was selected to lead the line with his heading abilities.

Newcastle played well and pulled off some threatening attacking moves but it all ended with yet another defeat and Bruce has gone back to basics with his assistants, discussing more options at their daily training ground meetings.

Addressing Wolves’ problems

Wolves manager Nuno Espirito Santo knows he has to stop the steady slide down the table. He desperately needs a new striker. Fabio Silva has just scored his second goal this season and Patrick Cutrone has been recalled from a loan period.

Nuno’s persistence of  playing with four at the back has dampened Wolves’ scoring opportunities and the players are more used to a three-man defence. However, it is his star frontline man Adama Traore who is causing the manager to have sleepless nights.

Traore has undoubted talent, can move at ease and dribble round defenders before crossing into the middle. What he does not do is score goals. Player such as Sadio Mane, Harry Kane and Mo Salah score regularly because they move towards the ball.

Traore will watch the ball go out to the right and he will stand still on the left instead of moving towards the goal or to move forward along the byline. It is a bad habit. He has technical ability but rarely runs around when the ball is not in his area of the field.

This season he has no goals and only one assist and the manager has identified the problems. This week on the training field, the assistants have been using a five-a-side match to pinpoint Traore’s movement in order to get him involved in more areas of the game.

Ozil bids his farewells

The pain is finally at an end as Arsenal’s Mesut Ozil said goodbye to his teammates and boarded a plane bound for Turkey. He visited Arsenal’s London Colney training ground and it was a sad occasion.

Obviously there was a frostiness between player and the manager who simply discarded his abilities and cast him out, even though the Gunner’s were still paying him £350k-a-week! Fenerbahce will be his new home after rejecting a call to travel to the US and DC United in the MLS.

Arsenal gave Ozil permission to travel to Turkey for a medical and he went along with his wife Amine Gulse and daughter Eda. It all looked pretty conclusive when Ozil tweeted a picture of his initials in the famous Blue and yellow colours of the Turkish side and then sent a picture of the family boarding the plane.

Fenerbahce is the club he supported as a boy and his parents are Turkish although Mesut was born in Germany. After seven years at the Emirates, since joining from Real Madrid for £42m and a salary which is Arsenal’s highest ever, the saga of what to do with this talented playmaker is finally over.

Mason can mount his career on Lampard

I wrote recently that Frank Lampard wants more goals from Mason Mount. Following Mason’s late goal last weekend to beat Fulham by the solitary goal, Lampard has again told the youngster he must hit the back of the net more often. However, this time he has given the midfielder a new approach. “Model yourself on my scoring career with Chelsea,” said Lampard.

Lampard was famous for late runs into the penalty area and although he scored plenty from 25 yards, he was deadly in the box. Lampard added: “There are times when we have the ball and he should be further up the pitch. As he gets older, it’ll be very natural for him to understand the moments he can get in there. If he keeps getting into the penalty area he will score more. Goals in the box are what Mason must add to his game and we will work on that in training.”

Lamptey commits future to Brighton

I was delighted to learn this week that Brighton’s sensational right-back Tariq Lamptey has signed a new contract with the club which runs until 2025. The 20-year-old is one of the most exciting prospects of the last year since joining the Seagulls and many European clubs have quickly recognised his talent and sent scouts to watch his progress. Brighton moved quickly to prolong his contract and head coach Graham Potter said, “We knew his potential when we signed him and hoped he would have a really positive impact on the club. He has been a model professional and works exceptionally hard and he is a very likeable and humble lad,” Lamptey has appeared 19-times for Brighton and also earned a place in the England Under-21 squad.