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Juventus icon Gianluigi Buffon has taken Cristiano Ronaldo’s side after Sergio Brio and Alessio Tacchinardi blasted the Portuguese superstar over his move to Manchester United.
Ronaldo’s decision to swap the Allianz Arena for Old Trafford in the final stretch of the summer transfer window has caused havoc in Turin, infuriating supporters and several club legends.
Brio and Tacchinardi accused the 36-year-old of being disrespectful after cutting short his three-year stint at Juventus to return to the Premier League in a deal worth £13 million.
However, Buffon, who shared the dressing room with Ronaldo for two years, jumped in to defend his former teammate amid a wave of criticism thrown into his direction.
“I don’t think the fans should be surprised,” the veteran goalkeeper told Radio anch’io sport of Cristiano’s switch. “He has the reputation of a great professional who rightly thinks about himself a lot.
“In these three years, he has contributed with great performances and scored many goals. I don’t see anything illogical in his choice to leave – he thought a lot about it.”
Ronaldo joined Juventus in summer 2018 following a trophy-laden nine-year stint at Real Madrid as part of the club’s efforts to wrap up the Champions League trophy.
Although the Portugal captain failed to lead the Bianconeri to the top of European football, he was part of the team that won back-to-back Serie A titles and the Coppa Italia.
Prolific as ever, the quicksilver forward tallied 101 goals in 134 appearances for Juventus and finished last season as the Serie A top-scorer with 29 strikes.
However, his sudden departure has left Massimilano Allegri’s high and dry, as witnessed by the Turin heavyweights’ sluggish start to the season.
After seeing Ronaldo’s potential decisive goal in a 2-2 draw at Udinese disallowed by the VAR, Juventus suffered a horrendous 1-0 home defeat to newly-promoted Empoli last time out.
The timing of the move remains questionable, as it left the Italians with almost no time to react in the transfer window.
A shortage of high-profile options in the market forced Juventus to turn to a familiar face in the shape of Moise Kean to fill the void.
The Italian youngster returned to Turin on the deadline day from Everton and could make his second debut for the club against Napoli this weekend.
Kean has joined on a two-year loan, though the record-time Serie A champions have an obligation to buy in summer 2023 for a reported fee of €28m.
Meanwhile, fresh from shattering Ali Daei’s international record on Wednesday, Ronaldo could kick off his second spell at United against Newcastle on Saturday.
The extravagant forward notched up a quick-fire double to catapult Portugal to a 2-1 victory against the Republic of Ireland last midweek en route to reaching his 111th international goal.
Arsenal forward Eddie Nketiah desperately needs a fresh start if he is to fulfil the potential he showed during the early part of his career.
Nketiah was a prolific scorer for England at U21 level, sparking talk that he could be the next big thing in the Premier League.
However, he has struggled to nail down a first-team spot at Arsenal and was strongly linked with a move elsewhere this summer.
Crystal Palace and Brighton & Hove Albion were touted as possible destinations, but neither club were willing to pay the £20 million asking price.
Nketiah’s development has hit the buffers at Arsenal, with manager Mikel Arteta clearly unimpressed with the young striker.
The 22-year-old is unlikely to play much over the next few months, which will further hamper his progress as a footballer.
His contract with the Gunners expires next summer, and he needs to quit the club if he wants to be successful.
There is likely to be plenty of interest in Nketiah, although Palace are probably out of the running after signing Odsonne Edouard from Celtic.
Brighton are still a possibility, but it would be no surprise if West Ham or Everton come calling over the next few months.
The Hammers need to strengthen their attacking options, with the club currently overly reliant on Michail Antonio for goals.
Everton are in a similar position as Dominic Calvert-Lewin is their main source of goals at the moment.
Nketiah would be an excellent signing for either club, and it would be no surprise to see them make a move for him.
Manchester United midfielder Donny van de Beek was the subject of late interest from Everton last month, but manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer ruled out his loan exit.
The Dutchman’s agent Guido Albers has since confirmed that he was in contact with the Merseyside outfit while criticising the handling of his client by the Red Devils.
Van de Beek was restricted to just over 500 minutes in the Premier League last season. Despite a promising pre-season, he has yet to get off the bench in the current campaign.
His situation appears bleak as the signings of Cristiano Ronaldo and Jadon Sancho could further hamper his prospects of securing playing time.
Van de Beek found himself below Fred, Scott McTominay and Nemanja Matic for a midfield role earlier this year. Paul Pogba played higher up the field on the left-wing.
However, there are high chances that Pogba could drop into central midfield in the coming months with the vast number of wide attacking options in the squad.
Mason Greenwood has made a superb start to the campaign with three goals in as many games, and he may have to switch wide with Ronaldo expected to lead the line.
There is further competition from Jadon Sancho, Anthony Martial, Jesse Lingard. Marcus Rashford and Amad Diallo could also feature when they return from injuries.
Elsewhere, Bruno Fernandes has been almost ever-present in the number 10 role across all competitions. Van de Beek is not expected to displace him anytime soon.
Considering this, Van de Beek finds himself in a difficult situation, where he could be a regular unused substitute with occasional starts in the Carabao and FA Cups.
He has already received a stern reminder from returning Netherlands boss Louis van Gaal, who has stated that he must play regularly to be picked for the international games.
Van de Beek did not face such a situation under former manager Frank de Boer, but it is now a matter of concern for him with the prospect of playing at next year’s World Cup.
The midfielder may assess his situation over the next four months. He may need to push for at least a temporary exit in January if he continues to be ignored by Solskjaer.
Stats from Transfermarkt.com.
Tottenham Hotspur will fine three players for travelling without permission during the international break.
The current international break has caused controversy in football, with the Premier League and English Football League agreeing not to allow players to be released to play in ‘red list’ countries.
These are countries where visitors must complete a quarantine period upon their return due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The ‘red list’ is largely compiled of nations from South America, which has had a huge impact on CONMEBOL World Cup qualifiers.
For example, Brazil were forced to leave several first-team players out of their squad including Ederson, Thiago Silva and Richarlison.
However, not every player followed these guidelines. According to Matt Law of the Daily Telegraph, Tottenham will fine Cristian Romero, Giovani Lo Celso and Davinson Sanchez for their participation in the World Cup qualifiers.
Romero and Lo Celso were both named in Argentina’s starting XI to face Brazil at the Neo Quimica Arena.
The game was thrown into chaos during the first half, as Brazilian health officials arrived to prevent players from the English leagues from playing. The match was later postponed.
As for Sanchez, he was a starter for Colombia in their 1-1 draw away to Paraguay.
Both Argentina and Colombia are due to play again in the early hours of Friday, September 10. If they participate, it would leave them needing to quarantine until at least September 20 before returning to action.
The Lilywhites would then have to play three games without key first-team players.
They face Crystal Palace in the Premier League on Saturday, before a trip to Rennes in their first group stage game of the Europa Conference League in midweek. They face Chelsea at home on Sunday, September 19.
Manager Nuno Espirito Santo would be especially light on options at centre-back without Romero and Sanchez.
The Portuguese would only have Eric Dier and Joe Rodon as natural central defenders, while Japhet Tanganga can cover there.
Spurs have made a very encouraging start to the season, and the backline has been one of the main reasons.
They have won all three of their Premier League games 1-0, defeating Manchester City, Wolverhampton Wanderers and Watford.
Arsenal’s summer signing Aaron Ramsdale has told his close friends that he could make his Premier League debut for the club when they face Norwich City, The Sun reports.
The Gunners have endured a dreadful start to the new league campaign, and they are presently rooted to the bottom of the standings with zero points on the board.
They have conceded nine goals without finding the back of the net. Ramsdale had a positive debut against West Bromwich Albion in the League Cup last month.
The 23-year-old feels he could get the nod over Leno after the German’s mixed start between the sticks this term.
Leno had a tough beginning to the season at Brentford, where he could have done better to avoid the goals conceded.
He made amends in the 2-0 defeat to Chelsea with key saves, including one from point-blank range to deny Romelu Lukaku. The Belgian was left stunned at how his powerful header was palmed onto the post.
In the 5-0 loss to Manchester City, Leno’s indecision to collect the ball partly contributed to Ilkay Gundogan’s opener. However, he was faultless thereafter and nstrumental in the club avoiding further humiliation.
Despite the Gunners’ horror show, Leno has come on top with vital saves early on in the campaign. It appears unlikely that manager Mikel Arteta will axe him as he has played behind an unsettled and vulnerable defence.
Arteta will have the chance to field his preferred backline after the international break. Leno’s performances could be judged over the coming weeks based on which Ramsdale’s position could be determined.
Stats from Transfermarkt.com.
Arsenal’s dismal start to the season has sparked plenty of talk regarding Mikel Arteta’s future as manager.
The Gunners have lost their opening three games without scoring a goal and are currently bottom of the Premier League.
After years of failing to invest in their playing squad, Arsenal have splashed out more than £150 million on new players this summer.
While most of the new arrivals have been purchased with an eye on the future, many Arsenal fans are only concerned with the here and now.
Arteta has repeatedly called for patience, but talkSPORT pundit Tony Cascarino believes the Spaniard should be replaced.
Cascarino has urged Arsenal to axe Arteta and replace him with Sam Allardyce.
“If you look at what he did to West Brom – I know they went down – but he certainly made them far better defensively,” he said. “He’d make Arsenal way better.”
“I know some Arsenal fans don’t care about that – they want their teams to have flair. But I think Sam would undoubtedly do a better job than Arteta is doing at the moment.”
Allardyce has long bemoaned not being given the opportunity to manage a big Premier League club.
He has regularly been criticised for his style of football, but his tactical nous would undoubtedly benefit Arsenal.
Arteta is married to a system that does not suit his squad, and his insistence that fans should ‘trust the process’ is wearing increasingly thin.
Allardyce would make Arsenal much tougher to beat and provide the club’s attacking players with a stronger platform to build from.
It is a myth that Allardyce doesn’t know what to do with flair players – his work with the likes of Jay-Jay Okocha and Youri Djorkaeff at Bolton Wanderers highlights that point to perfection.
Most Arsenal fans would baulk at the idea of Allardyce managing their club.
Ultimately they need to ask themselves if they want to watch tippy-tappy football that doesn’t deliver results or whether they want to win.
Arsenal spent £156.8 million on new signings this summer, according to Sky Sports.
The Gunners outspent every other Premier League club, but their results have yet to justify the outlay.
They have lost their opening three games in the league and are currently at the bottom of the points table.
Arsenal technical director Edu opened up on the club’s transfer policy during an interview with Sky Sports.
He said: “We signed six players who are under 23, which means a lot in terms of our planning.
“Normally, people like to see just one window, so I have to say it is the bigger picture because we started planning this squad a year ago in terms of consolidating the team and trying to get a better foundation.
“In a one-year period, we signed 10 players, and seven of the 10 are under 23.”
The new signings at Arsenal this summer are Ben White (£50 million), Nuno Tavares (£8m), Albert Sambi Lokonga (£15m), Aaron Ramsdale (£24m), Martin Odegaard (£30m), and Takehiro Tomiyasu (£17.2m).
Arsenal are a club in transition.
The club’s fans have become accustomed to mediocrity following the glory years under Arsene Wenger.
The Gunners have made some stellar signings in recent years including Alexandre Lacazette, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Nicolas Pepe and Thomas Partey.
However, the overall lack of quality in the squad has been telling despite signing a few star players.
The club have been targeting younger players, and they have undoubtedly signed some promising talents.
However, the policy requires patience, which is not always a concept that fans are willing to buy into.
Arsenal may be on the right path by signing players with an eye on the future, but whether Mikel Arteta is the right man to lead them into a new era is debatable.
Liverpool attacker Mohamed Salah is eyeing a staggering package of £500,000-per-week to put pen-to-paper on a new long-term contract, the Mirror reports.
The Reds had a quiet summer transfer window with centre-back Ibrahima Konate being their sole signing for RB Leipzig for a reported fee of around £36 million.
The emphasis has largely been on renewing player contracts.
Jordan Henderson recently joined Alisson, Fabinho, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Andrew Robertson and Virgil van Dijk in committing his long-term future to the Reds.
It is now reported that negotiations are being planned with Salah. The Egyptian wants a Premier League-record salary of around £500,000-per-week to extend his stay.
Manchester United recently sanctioned a deal worth £480,000-per-week to bring Cristiano Ronaldo back to the club, and Salah is eyeing higher than that to renew.
The Merseyside giants are firm that they won’t shatter their pay structure for the attacker but are prepared to pay a hefty salary to extend his deal expiring in June 2023.
Salah has undoubtedly been the Reds’ main goalscorer over the past few years. Last season, he was a class apart as Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino struggled for consistency.
The 29-year-old mustered 31 goals from 50 games in all competitions. He was still far from his best as he squandered several scoring opportunities over the course of the campaign.
Salah is still at the peak of his career, and he would be the last player the Reds would want to lose after setting sights on keeping the core of the Premier League-winning squad together.
The versatile forward won’t be short of big-money offers from elsewhere, and the Reds will need to pay a premium to convince him to spend his best years with them.
The club’s hierarchy are unlikely to meet Salah’s demands for half a million pounds per week, but they will hope to negotiate a decent hike on his current £200,000-per-week wages.
Having convinced several first-team stars to stay put, they will be positive about the prospects of convincing Salah.
A contract extension could see him become the highest-paid player in the club’s history, surpassing the £220,000-per-week salary received by Van Dijk after his renewal last month.
Stats from Transfermarkt.com.
Jadon Sancho is set to miss England’s upcoming World Cup qualifiers against Andorra and Poland due to injury, as confirmed by the national side’s official website.
Sancho picked up a knock in training leading up to the Three Lions’ clash with Hungary.
As a result, he sat out as his teammates cruised to an emphatic 4-0 victory at the Puskas Arena.
It has now been confirmed that he will also play no part in the fixtures against Andorra and Poland.
He becomes the second player to pull out from Gareth Southgate’s 25-man squad, following Dominic Calvert-Lewin’s withdrawal earlier in the week.
England have made a strong start to their qualifying campaign. They began with a 5-0 win over San Marino at Wembley Stadium and followed this up with wins against Albania, Poland and Hungary.
At the time of writing, they are one of only four European sides with a 100% record in qualifying, alongside Sweden, Switzerland and Denmark.
Sancho is yet to feature for Southgate’s men in World Cup qualifying, having also missed the fixtures in March through injury.
He played a small role in their run to the European Championship final, starting once in the 4-0 win against Ukraine in the quarter-finals.
Despite the injury, the 21-year-old is not expected to spend a long time on the sidelines. He is expected to be available for Manchester United’s next outing at home to Newcastle United on September 11.
The Englishman made his first start for his new club since his £73 million move from Borussia Dortmund last weekend.
He played 72 minutes at Molineux, as the Red Devils won 1-0 against Wolverhampton Wanderers. He is now in line for his first start at Old Trafford.
But this is not where most of the attention will be as Man Utd face Newcastle.
Much of the pre-match build-up will surround the debut of Cristiano Ronaldo, who returned to the club 12 years after departing for Real Madrid for a then-world record fee.
It is believed that the five-time Ballon d’Or winner could be the difference-maker as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men look to end their four-year trophy drought.
The World Cup qualifiers are back in action on Saturday as some of Europe’s most elite national teams look to buy tickets for Qatar 2022.
While European Championship heroes Denmark face a manageable task in the shape of the Faroe Islands, the tournament’s greatest disappointment Turkey head to minnows Gibraltar for a must-win fixture.
Meanwhile, France and Netherlands are aiming to overcome some challenging times and get their qualifying campaigns back on track.
Let’s see why Les Bleus and Oranje have to win on Saturday.
France must make a statement in Ukraine
Reigning world champions France struggled to bounce back from suffering a heartbreaking Euro 2020 last-16 elimination to Switzerland in their first post-tournament international outing.
Despite maintaining an unbeaten start to this World Cup qualifying campaign, a 1-1 home draw against underperforming Bosnia & Herzegovina is unlikely to erase the traumatic memory of the Euro 2020 exit.
After returning two victories and a pair of draws from their opening four 2020 World Cup qualifiers, Les Bleus are firmly in control of the proceedings in Group D.
However, Didier Deschamps‘ men have now failed to win any of their last four competitive fixtures if considering just 90 minutes of action, which has raised some questions about the team chemistry.
A trip to the NSC Olimpiyskiy Stadium could be a good opportunity for France to return to winning ways as they take on out-of-sorts Ukraine in the top-of-the-group showdown.
The Ukrainians have been off to the nation’s worst-ever start to a new World Cup qualifying campaign, drawing each of their inaugural four matches.
Andriy Shevchenko resigned from the managerial post following Ukraine’s 4-0 thumping at the hands of England in the Euro 2020 quarter-finals.
Oleksandr Petrakov, who took over the reins as an interim solution, saw his side being held to a dismal 2-2 stalemate away to Kazakhstan in his first game in charge.
A draw in their most recent World Cup qualifier took Ukraine’s winless streak to four (90 mins only), showing they are not enjoying the best of times.
Therefore, the star-studded French side should be able to prevail and silence the critics.
Furthermore, it will be a perfect chance for Kylian Mbappe and Karim Benzema to add to their scoring tallies.
The Ukrainians have conceded six goals in their last two international games, highlighting their growing defensive issues.
Louis van Gaal to kick-start his third national team stint
The Netherlands crumbled against outsiders Czech Republic in the Euro 2020 round of 16, which saw Frank de Boer wave goodbye to the national team in late June.
Louis van Gaal, who has returned to the national team dugout for the third time, saw his players come from behind to claim a 1-1 draw away against Norway in his third debut.
Although a stalemate in Oslo helped the Oranje cling onto second place in Group G, the ex-Manchester United manager will hope for a better end product against Montenegro at the Philips Stadion.
Justifiably dubbed ‘Group of Death,’ this exciting 2022 World Cup qualifying section sees one point separating the top-four sides, with six fixtures left to go.
The Netherlands sit above Montenegro thanks to a superior goal difference, having won only two of their opening four Group G matches (D1, L1) – same as their opposition.
But there is a sizeable gulf in quality between the teams, which is why the hosts head into the game as odds-on favourites to claim all three points.
Van Gaal’s return to the helm is a massive boost to the Netherlands’ hopes of qualifying for the World Cup finals for the first time since 2014.
The 70-year-old tactician has lost just one of his last 18 World Cup qualifying contests with the Oranje (W14, D3), notably seeing his side score 2+ goals in each win in that period.
By contrast, Montenegro suffered a heavy beating in their latest competitive trip to a nation ranked in FIFA’s top-15, losing 7-0 to England at Wembley.
Former Juventus striker Paolo Di Canio has questioned Manchester United’s move to sign Cristiano Ronaldo.
Di Canio feels while Ronaldo’s transfer will be a financial asset off the field, there will be some tough questions to answer on the pitch.
Speaking to La Gazzetta dello Sport’s podcast ‘In The Box’, the Italian said: “I am one of those looking at this move and thinking: ‘He is back where he began his incredible career’.
“However, I need to consider everything. It’s a great move for merchandising, for Ronaldo and Manchester United’s visibility.
“Ronaldo will improve United’s technical level, but he joins a team with many strikers and wingers.
“(Ole Gunnar) Solskjær said he sees him as a centre-forward, but Ronaldo didn’t want to do it at Juventus.
“I still see him starting on the left, but United have other players in the same position, including Jadon Sancho, who was paid €85m but has been struggling to settle in so far.”
“There is enthusiasm, but it remains to be seen if Ronaldo will be a cumbersome presence as Zlatan (Ibrahimovic) was.”
“Sometimes young players without much personality didn’t understand he wanted the best from them.”
Di Canio has raised some pertinent questions for Solskjaer.
The Red Devils are rather heavily stacked in the final third with first-team choices Marcus Rashford, Anthony Martial, Edinson Cavani, Mason Greenwood and Jadon Sancho all vying for a spot in the front three, and this is before we consider Jesse Lingard and Juan Mata.
Daniel James moving to Leeds United has reduced the numbers, but United still have Amad Diallo at Old Trafford after an injury scuppered his loan move, and he will also need to be accommodated.
On the surface, this means Ronaldo is joining a team that’s already crowded up front.
However, the advantages of having a player like Ronaldo on and off the pitch can easily outweigh the problems it causes numbers-wise.
United are expecting to challenge across all fronts this season, and having Ronaldo’s quality available means more effective rotation when United will be playing two or three games a week.
Arguably United need midfield reinforcements more than they need a striker, but a player like Ronaldo is only available a couple of times every decade.
United could easily sign a midfielder in January, or next summer, when they will be expected to strengthen in any case.
Ronaldo may not guide United to a title this season, but a lot of the analysis around his future impact has been needlessly negative.
Read Also: Cristiano Ronaldo says he is ‘happy to be home’.
Arsenal have been handed a double fitness boost ahead of the Premier League game against Norwich City next weekend.
The Gunners have endured a horrendous start to their league campaign. They have failed to pick up a single point in three games.
That sees them at the bottom of the table with their worst ever start in nearly seven decades.
There is immense pressure on Mikel Arteta now, and he needs a huge turnaround or could face the axe.
Injuries and coronavirus saw Arteta play with a weakened squad during the first few weeks of the season.
He may have a full-strength side after the interval. A couple of key players have already returned to action.
Ben White had a tough debut in the season opener against Brentford on the road.
However, he did not face Chelsea or Manchester City after contracting coronavirus.
Meanwhile, Gabriel Magalhaes has yet to play competitively this season due to a knee injury.
The Brazilian returned to training in late August. Both players could be on course to face Norwich.
The central defensive duo played on either side of Pablo Mari in a friendly against Brentford on Thursday.
Both were given more than an hour’s run-out. There could be more closed doors games to follow.
Judging by the 4-0 friendly win, Arteta may probably stick with a back three when the season restarts.
Meanwhile, Thomas Partey was not involved yesterday after his month-long absence with an ankle injury.
The Gunners revealed that the Ghanaian would return to training in late August, but there has been no update.
Partey has suffered several short-term injuries during his 14-month spell with the north London club.
He could be handled with more caution, and it won’t be a surprise if his return to action is delayed.
With Granit Xhaka suspended for three games, there could be a midfield role for Ainsley Maitland-Niles.
The 24-year-old was desperate to leave on loan to Everton, but the Gunners blocked his exit.
With Mohamed Elneny possibly leaving the club, Maitland-Niles could line up alongside Albert Sambi Lokonga.
He has been vocal in the past about playing in midfield and may finally get the chance to prove himself.
Stats from Transfermarkt.com.
Real Madrid star Karim Benzema has claimed that Kylian Mbappe will play for Real Madrid at some point in the future.
Mbappe was at the centre of a fascinating transfer saga towards the end of August.
Despite the arrivals of Lionel Messi and Sergio Ramos, the Frenchman seemed intent on leaving Paris Saint-Germain in favour of Los Blancos.
The La Liga giants worked tirelessly to complete a deal before the close of the transfer window, reportedly offering up to €180 million for the young forward.
However, no agreement was reached, and he stayed at Les Parc des Princes.
However, this hasn’t deterred Carlo Ancelotti’s side, who are expected to be back in for the 22-year-old soon.
Compatriot Karim Benzema has even gone as far as saying that the move is inevitable.
Speaking after France’s 1-1 draw against Bosnia-Herzegovina in World Cup qualifying, Benzema said (via International Business Times): “He (Mbappe) is a player who one day or another will play for Real Madrid.
“We get on very well, and I would like him to already be with me in Madrid.”
In ordinary circumstances, Mbappe would probably command a world-record fee.
However, he has just under a year left on his contract at PSG, and it is looking doubtful that he will renew his deal.
This leaves him potentially available for a cut-price fee in January or a free transfer in the summer.
This seemingly hasn’t been a distraction for the forward on the pitch, who has continued to produce the goods.
He has scored three goals in his last two outings, including a brace in a 2-0 win away at Reims. This has helped his side maintain their 100% start to the Ligue 1 season.
As for Real Madrid, they also remain unbeaten so far. They have accumulated seven points from their opening three league games, defeating Alaves and Real Betis while playing out a thrilling 3-3 draw against Levante.
Chelsea signed Saul Niguez on transfer deadline day.
The Blues completed a loan deal for the 26-year-old midfielder for a fee of £3.4 million.
They have an option to sign the Spaniard permanently for £30m next summer.
During an interview with the popular YouTuber Ibai Llanos on Twitch, Saul revealed why he chose to leave Atletico Madrid.
He said: “The only thing is that I felt stuck because I wasn’t playing in my position.
“My head did not accept my new role of playing in a new position.
“Chelsea have promised to play me in my position, and we will see [where] I will play.
“The most important reason for my decision is that I will return to certain habits that I do not do now.”
Thomas Tuchel’s system at Chelsea requires the midfielders to be agile, innovative and energetic.
N’Golo Kante provides energy in abundance, while Mateo Kovacic has a dynamic ball-carrying quality.
Jorginho excels at bringing the ball out from the back for his team.
This left Tuchel short of a different kind of midfielder – someone who could orchestrate play and make defensive tackles when Chelsea don’t have the ball.
Having been developed in the box-to-box role in his early years at Atletico, Saul could be the perfect man to complete Chelsea’s midfield.
He has the ability to make defence-splitting passes, can make crucial tackles and is a team player.
Saul’s signing may have gone under the radar, but it could easily be a season-defining transfer for the Blues.
Former Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger is working on a project that would result in a radical change to the international football calendar.
FIFA’s Director of World Football Development wants to implement a new system that would see qualifying games for major tournaments grouped into two slots each season.
However, Wenger also wants to stage a major international competition every summer, meaning the World Cup and European Championships would become bi-annual rather than every four years.
“The big idea, initially, is to group the qualifying matches on two international windows, in October and March, for greater visibility of the calendar, greater simplicity for the clubs, and fewer problems to solve for the selections,” he told L’Equipe.
“The principle would be a grouping of qualifications, every year, and at the end of the season a major competition, World Cup or Continental Championship. Between the two qualifying windows, the player would stay at his club all year round.”
The proposal reportedly has strong support from national federations, but the move is undoubtedly fraught with danger.
One of the biggest attractions of tournaments such as the World Cup and the European Championships is the anticipation – the four-year cycle helps build excitement.
Staging a major international tournament every year will dilute their appeal to fans and potentially impact their ability to generate revenue.
For instance, staging the World Cup every two years will not necessarily double the revenues FIFA currently makes from the prestigious tournaments.
Sponsors don’t have endless pots of money, while supporters are already being stretched to the limit financially.
Restructuring the qualification schedule does make sense, particularly with regards to reducing the amount of disruption suffered by clubs.
However, playing a major tournament every summer is overkill. As ideas go, this is a shocker.
The news that Tottenham Hotspur are eager to sign AC Milan midfielder Franck Kessie should be music to the ears of the club’s fans.
According to a recent report by Calciomercato, Spurs will offer Kessie around £6.9 million per year to persuade him to move to London in the January transfer window.
Kessie’s current contract ends next summer, and there has been no indication that he is willing to agree a new deal at the San Siro.
The 24-year-old was a standout performer for Milan last season, bagging 14 goals and six assists in 50 appearances in all competitions.
He has established himself as a key figure with Milan, but his contract status has inevitably attracted plenty of interest from elsewhere.
A move to Spurs could be appealing, with Kessie’s tenacity making him the ideal foil for Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg in the middle of the park.
With Tanguy Ndombele seemingly out of favour, Spurs manager Nuno Espirito Santo needs to add more quality in midfield.
Kessie is ideally suited to the job, with his tackling ability and boundless energy making him a superb fit for English football.
Having steadily added more goals and assists to his tally over the past few seasons, it is easy to see why Kessie is so coveted.
While his salary will not be cheap, securing his services on a free transfer makes perfect sense for a club that is desperate to start challenging again in the Premier League.
Manchester United have been handed a boost with Cristiano Ronaldo being suspended for Portugal’s World Cup qualifier against Azerbaijan next week.
The 36-year-old was in action against Republic of Ireland last night. He produced some late heroics as Portugal sealed a 2-1 comeback win in Algarve.
His equaliser in the 89th minute saw him create history as he became the highest goalscorer in men’s international football.
Ronaldo went on to bag the winner in the dying seconds of injury time. He was obviously overjoyed as he took off his shirt in the wild celebrations.
That has come at a cost for him and Portugal after he was handed a yellow card for the second occasion in the World Cup qualifying campaign.
That constitutes an automatic one-match ban. Ronaldo won’t feature in the qualifier next week, but could be involved in the Qatar friendly on Saturday.
Earlier this year, Bruno Fernandes was sent back early to United by Portugal head coach Fernando Santos as he was serving a one-match suspension.
A similar repeat could be on the cards with Ronaldo. His return would offer him sufficient time to rest and prepare for his second debut later this month.
He is braced to make his second homecoming against Newcastle United on September 11. The chances are high that he could be picked from the start.
Ronaldo has shown strong commitment towards Portugal. He was encouraging his teammates from the sidelines during the memorable 2016 European Championship final.
It won’t come as a surprise if he decides to stay with the squad to motivate them rather than reporting early to United.
Stats from Transfermarkt.com
Italian left-back Emerson Palmieri enjoyed a successful summer in football.
It all began with Chelsea’s Champions League win in Porto on May 29.
Having won the coveted trophy, Emerson joined the national team at the European Championships.
The Azzurri had a dream campaign at the tournament.
It culminated with a penalty shoot-out win against England in the final, giving Emerson his second major trophy of the summer.
Emerson returned for the new season with Chelsea in August as a double-winner in Europe.
Their first competitive match was the UEFA Super Cup clash against Villareal.
It was yet another tense shoot-out, but Chelsea emerged victorious on the night.
The left-back had collected three European trophies in the space of four months.
Of the three trophies, the one with the national team undoubtedly made Emerson the happiest.
Speaking to Sky Sports about the Euro 2020 final, Emerson said: “I cannot express in words what happened that night.”
“I cannot tell you how emotional I was feeling. It was a special moment, a special day in my life.”
Emerson was loaned to Lyon a few days after the Super Cup triumph with Chelsea.
The move came as no surprise, as Emerson spent the majority of last season behind Marcos Alonso and Ben Chilwell.
However, his contribution to Italy’s success was far more instrumental.
Due to an unfortunate injury to Leonardo Spinazzola, Emerson started most of Italy’s games at the Euros.
He was a crucial player in their success, filling in seamlessly for Spinazzola at full-back.
Given his contribution to Italy’s victory, it is no surprise he feels more joy at their achievement.
Barcelona are hoping to seal a deal for RB Leipzig midfielder Dani Olmo in 2022, according to a report by Spanish outlet Mundo Deportivo.
Olmo joined RB Leipzig back in January 2020, arriving for a reported €22 million following four-and-a-half successful years at Dinamo Zagreb.
Since then, he has helped elevate Die Roten Bullen into title contention with eight goals and ten assists in the Bundesliga.
The 23-year-old has also earned 16 caps for the Spain national team. During this summer’s European Championships, he impressed, registering three assists – a tally surpassed only by Switzerland’s Steven Zuber.
Barcelona reportedly made a late bid to sign the playmaker, believed to be worth €58m. However, the German club turned this down, demanding €75m.
According to Mundo Deportivo, La Blaugrana will be back in for the former Dinamo Zagreb man. They would ideally like to reach an agreement in January, although this may be difficult.
Olmo previously spent seven years at La Masia from 2007 to 2014 before making a surprise move to Dinamo Zagreb.
A new playmaker could be a necessity at Camp Nou. Club legend Lionel Messi departed on a free transfer to Paris Saint-Germain this summer, while Antoine Griezmann returned to Atletico Madrid.
This has left them short of top-class players in creative areas. Memphis Depay was signed on a free transfer from Lyon, but he alone won’t be enough to plug the holes left by Messi and Griezmann.
Meanwhile, Sergio Aguero and Luuk de Jong both prefer to play as out-and-out strikers, as opposed to on the wings.
Despite this, Ronald Koeman’s side have made a bright start to the new campaign.
They saw off Real Sociedad and Getafe in home fixtures and drew with Athletic Bilbao. This has left them in fourth place after three games.