Tottenham Sign Gedson Fernandes For $73m

Gedson Fernandes/Tottenham

 

Portugal midfielder Gedson Fernandes became the first signing of the Jose Mourinho era at Tottenham on Wednesday as the manager bids to revive the club’s Premier League campaign.

The 21-year-old signed an 18-month loan deal with an option to make the transfer permanent for a reported £56 million ($73 million).

Fernandes will provide vital cover in midfield following a three-month lay-off for Moussa Sissoko, who has had knee surgery.

“We are delighted to announce that we have reached agreement for the 18-month loan of Gedson Fernandes from Benfica with an option to make the transfer permanent,” said a club statement.

Fernandes, capped twice at senior level, told Spurs TV he was looking forward to working with compatriot Mourinho.

“All young players want to work with Jose Mourinho because he’s one of the best. All of us as players want to stay near the best, so it’s fantastic to work with him.”

“I have no words to say about the stadium because it is fantastic,” he added. “I have never been or seen anything like this, It is unbelievable.”

Fernandes was offered to Spurs by Mourinho’s friend and super agent Jorges Mendes and they beat off competition from West Ham, who were keen to bring him to London.

The potential reported fee would mark a huge mark-up from the 250 euros ($278) and 25 footballs Benfica reportedly gave to Fernandes’ club, Frielas, when he was 10.

Mourinho will be hoping that more arrivals may follow, particularly a striker following Harry Kane’s potentially season-ending hamstring injury, with the club eighth in the Premier League, nine points behind fourth-placed Chelsea.

The club are understood to be interested in AC Milan’s Krzysztof Piatek while Christian Benteke, Edison Cavani and even former striker Fernando Llorente have been linked.

There could also be departures at Spurs this month, with Kyle Walker-Peters hoping to join Crystal Palace on loan while the club are trying to offload Christian Eriksen in order to get a fee for him.

Man United Can Still Compete With The Best In Transfer Market, Says Solskjaer

Manchester United’s Norwegian manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer/ AFP

 

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer says Manchester United retain the power to compete at the top end of the transfer market despite warnings their status as the Premier League’s richest club is “at risk”.

According to Deloitte’s Football Money League, United’s revenue of £627.1 million ($814 million) in 2018-19 put them third overall behind only Barcelona and Real Madrid.

But the consulting firm warned United could soon find themselves slipping behind Liverpool and Manchester City due to their failure to qualify for the Champions League.

Solskjaer offered a robust defence of the club’s status on Tuesday, speaking ahead of his side’s FA Cup third-round relay against Wolves.

“The most important thing for me is we get the results sorted and the performances on the pitch,” he said.

“But I know that we’ve got the resources, we’ve got the backing. If we need to go into the transfer market we are still up there so we’re still in a good place.”

United are reportedly in talks over a deal for Sporting Lisbon midfielder Bruno Fernandes, who could cost as much as £70 million, though Solskjaer offered no update on that or any other moves in the January market.

Wednesday’s match against Wolves at Old Trafford could offer another opportunity for 18-year-old striker Mason Greenwood, who started in the goalless draw between the two sides at Molineux on January 4.

 Greenwood warning 

Greenwood has enjoyed a hugely impressive season to date, scoring nine goals for United‘s senior side in 26 appearances but Solskjaer cautioned against England taking him to Euro 2020, with concerns over the availability of the injured Harry Kane.

“I think Mason will have a top career, a long career, but let the boy settle in now before we talk about England and the Euros,” he said.

“His focus has to be playing for us and improving. When he plays well for us, that will happen by itself.”

Solskjaer is trying to carefully manage the demands on his younger players, and his squad as a whole, as they prepare for their 14th game in 46 days.

“It is physically and mentally demanding and we’ve got to make sure we energise them with results,” he said.

“After a performance like Norwich (a 4-0 win) they all felt good about that and used that as motivation.

“We’re not there yet, we’ve got to keep working and improving, just keep the rhythm. I didn’t play in all these games when I was playing but I felt like, as a team, we improved when we got in a rhythm of match, rest, match, rest.

“The likes of Roy (Keane), Gary (Neville), (Paul) ‘Scholesy’, they only seemed to improve and we need to get to that.”

With United well off the pace in the Premier League and needing to overturn a 3-1 first-leg deficit to rivals Manchester City in the semi-finals of the League Cup, Solskjaer is looking to the FA Cup as the most realistic prospect of silverware this season.

“This tournament is one that we all dream about winning when we’re young,” he said. “I loved my time in the finals and lifting the trophy, so we want to go through.”

AFP

Watford Beat Bournemouth 3-0, Exit Relegation Zone

US World Cup Defender Clavijo Dies At 63
File Photo

 

Watford captain Troy Deeney hailed the impact of Nigel Pearson in helping the Hornets bounce back from “rock bottom” after a 3-0 win at Bournemouth took them out of the Premier League relegation zone for the first time this season.

Abdoulaye Doucoure and Roberto Pereyra struck either side of Deeney’s fourth goal in five games as Watford moved above their hosts, whose five-season stay in the top flight looks in serious danger of coming to an end.

“The gaffer and all the boys need to take a lot of credit,” said Deeney. “We hit rock bottom at some points this season but we’ve managed to get the fans involved and do the hard work on the pitch.”

Bournemouth have taken just four points from their last 11 games and looked a side completely devoid of confidence as they slipped to second bottom.

Watford, by contrast, are reborn under former Leicester boss Pearson as they have taken 13 points from a possible 15 since his baptism of fire in a 2-0 defeat at Liverpool last month.

“We’ve found a collective way of working together to get more of what we want; performances and results. We showed resilience, game understanding and ability as well at times,” said Pearson.

Injuries have played a major part in Bournemouth’s decline and the loss of first-choice goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale proved vital as his understudy Mark Travers was at fault for the opening goal.

The Irish under-21 international had made a good early save low to his right to deny Gerard Deulofeu, but his poor clearance was fired straight at Ismaila Sarr three minutes before half-time and the Senegalese’s cross was expertly controlled and finished by Doucoure.

“The first goal was a big shift, up until then it was two quite even teams,” Bournemouth boss Eddie Howe told Sky Sports.

“We conceded and the second half was a lot more difficult; we dipped, they rose with the confidence.

“We are not looking free-scoring and when you concede a goal it seems a long way back.”

Deeney’s return from a long-term injury has also played a big part in his side’s return to form and the inspirational captain smashed home after another dangerous run and cross by Sarr 25 minutes from time.

Bournemouth offered nothing in response and another miserable afternoon for the Cherries was rounded off when Pereyra came off the bench to produce an acrobatic finish after Andre Gray’s shot was cleared off the line.

Chelsea Record $130m Loss Despite Abramovich Input

FIFA Hands Chelsea Two Transfer Windows Ban
(FILES) In this file photo taken on May 24, 2015 Chelsea supporters wave flags before the English Premier League football match between Chelsea and Sunderland at Stamford Bridge in London on May 24, 2015. Ben STANSALL / AFP

 

Chelsea made a loss of almost £100 million ($130 million) last year despite owner Roman Abramovich pouring nearly a quarter of a billion pounds into the Premier League club, their figures for 2018/19 released on Tuesday show.

Amongst their expenditure was yet another payout to a sacked manager — this time £26.6 million to Italian Antonio Conte.

The 50-year-old — who is now at Inter Milan — had a year left on his contract when he was fired just a season after guiding them to the Premier League title.

“Exceptional items in the current year of £26.6million relate to changes in respect of the men’s team management and coaching staff, together with associated legal costs,” read Chelsea’s latest set of published accounts, for the year ending June 30, 2019.

The club has spent £90 million in compensation to Conte and his predecessors since Abramovich took over in 2004.

Conte was replaced by compatriot Maurizio Sarri, who left the club for Juventus in the summer of 2019, one year into a three-year contract.

The club also invested £280.6m in their playing squad during 2018-19, with the acquisitions of Kepa Arrizabalaga, Christian Pulisic, Mateo Kovacic and Jorginho all included in their latest figures.

In all Abramovich, who has at times been rumoured to be disenchanted and looking to sell, put in £247 million of his own money over the course of the year — ending in June 2019 — with the club still ending £96.6m in the red.

However, their sale of Belgian playmaker Eden Hazard to Real Madrid for 100 million euros last summer should make the next set of accounts happier reading, especially as the outgoings of the club in the most recent close season were zero thanks to a transfer ban.

That has since been lifted allowing manager Frank Lampard to invest in the transfer market in January.

‘I’m Not In Medieval Times’, Solskjaer Dismisses Van Persie’s Criticism

United Seek To Derail Liverpool Title Bid
Manchester United’s Norwegian caretaker manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer gestures during the English Premier League football match between Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester United at Wembley Stadium in London, on January 13, 2019. Adrian DENNIS / AFP

 

Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has hit back at criticism of his management style from former Red Devils striker Robin Van Persie, saying: “I’m not in medieval times.”

The Dutchman felt Solskjaer appeared too upbeat in the aftermath of the 2-0 defeat to Arsenal on New Year’s Day that left United five points behind fourth-placed Chelsea in the Premier League.

Van Persie said Solskjaer “seems like a really nice guy” but that the Norwegian needed to be more “mean at times” and “more angry” and added: “You need to have fear as well for your coach.”

Solskjaer, who is also having to handle fresh speculation surrounding the future of star midfielder Paul Pogba, said Van Persie was not in a position to judge his methods.

“I don’t know Robin and Robin doesn’t know me,” he said ahead of his side’s FA Cup third-round tie away to Wolves.

“He probably doesn’t have a right to criticise my management style and I won’t change. That’s definite. Robin took my number 20 (shirt) and that’s probably all he’s going to take from me as well. Because I’m not in medieval times.”

The “medieval times” remark was perceived to be Solskjaer defending his man-management methods, which appear far removed from the more autocratic approach of his old United boss Alex Ferguson.

Solskjaer was also asked about criticism of the club in general from Pogba’s agent Mino Raiola.

The Italian is reported to have told La Repubblica he would stop sending his clients to United, saying they would “ruin” even a great player.

Coming in the context of a fresh injury setback for Pogba, who will be out for three to four weeks after surgery to remove bone fragments from his ankle, the comments have been interpreted by some as Raiola seeking to engineer a move away from Old Trafford for Pogba.

“Paul Pogba is our player and agents are hired by players, not the opposite way around. It’s not ‘agents’ players’, it’s ‘our players’,” said Solskjaer.

“What me and Paul are talking about I don’t have to talk to you about. That will be between us.”

United travel to Molineux on Saturday to take on the team that knocked them out in last season’s quarter-finals.

AFP

Aston Villa Suffer Double Injury Blow

Aston Villa’s English goalkeeper Tom Heaton looks through the rain during the English Premier League football match between Aston Villa and Leicester at Villa Park in Birmingham, central England on December 8, 2019. Paul ELLIS / AFP

 

Aston Villa goalkeeper Tom Heaton and forward Wesley have been ruled out for the rest of the season, the Premier League club announced on Friday.

Record signing Wesley and Heaton were injured during the New Year’s Day 2-1 win at Burnley.

It has since been confirmed that both players have suffered knee ligament damage and Heaton appears certain to miss England’s Euro 2020 campaign.

Heaton, 33, and Wesley were both in their first seasons as Aston Villa players following their summer arrivals from Burnley and Club Brugge.

Wesley 23, has scored six goals in 22 appearances in all competitions and earned himself a call-up to the Brazil squad.

Villa boss Dean Smith will hold transfer talks with chief executive Christian Purslow after losing the players.

“We’ve got business planned, that’ll continue, I’m sitting down tonight with Christian and (sporting director) Suso to see what this changes for us. It’ll hasten what we do in the market,” said Smith, ahead of Saturday’s FA Cup third-round trip to Fulham.

“The recruitment side won’t change from what we were looking at before.”

Villa are currently 17th in the Premier League, just one point clear of the relegation zone.

AFP

VAR Meant For ‘Clear And Obvious’ Mistakes – Official

The VAR screen shows a check for a possible red card for Brighton’s English defender Dan Burn during the English Premier League football match between Brighton and Bournemouth at the American Express Community Stadium in Brighton, southern England on December 28, 2019.
Glyn KIRK / AFP

 

The Video Assistant Referee (VAR) should only overturn on-field decisions when there has been a “clear and obvious” error, according to one of football’s leading international rules officials.

VAR has proved highly controversial since it was introduced into the Premier League this season.

A particular source of concern has revolved around offside calls.

Last weekend saw Norwich, Brighton, Sheffield United, Wolves, Brighton and Crystal Palace all have goals disallowed by marginal VAR rulings amid doubts over whether the available technology is accurate enough to make such fractional calls.

READ ALSO: West Ham Appoint David Moyes As Manager For Second Time

Players and managers have also questioned whether the system should not be used to reverse an on-field decision that appears correct to the naked eye, a view that received support on Monday from the general secretary of the International Football Association Board (IFAB) — the sport’s ultimate rule-making body.

Lukas Brud, while not addressing specific incidents in English football, said IFAB guidance advises VAR should only be used to correct clear errors also applied to offside.

“Clear and obvious still remains — it’s an important principle,” Brud said in comments reported by the British media.

“There should not be a lot of time spent to find something marginal.

“If you spend minutes trying to identify whether it is offside or not, then it’s not clear and obvious and the original decision should stand,” he added.

Wolves captain Conor Coady was frustrated when his side were denied what seemed a legitimate equaliser just before half-time against runaway league leaders Liverpool on Sunday when Pedro Neto’s effort was chalked off because wing-back Jonny was deemed to be offside in the build-up.

Wolves eventually lost 1-0 at Anfield and Coady told the BBC afterward: “A lot of people are going to tell me that they have come to the right decision and they might have. But what is it, an armpit that’s offside, or a toe, or something like that?”

‘Not Helping’

Meanwhile, Sheffield United manager Chris Wilder was annoyed after VAR denied his side a goal against champions Manchester City — the fifth time it has happened to the Blades this season.

“Yet again we had another goal disallowed by VAR,” he said.

“That’s about eight or nine over the weekend, this is not a situation helping the game.”

Even City manager Pep Guardiola, whose side won 2-0, said VAR was “a big mess”, with the former Barcelona and Bayern Munich boss adding: “Hopefully next season it can do better.”

But the introduction of VAR into Scottish football cannot come quickly enough for Glasgow giants Rangers.

Sunday saw Steven Gerrard’s side win 2-1 away to arch-rivals and reigning champions Celtic as they moved to within two points of the Scottish Premiership leaders.

Gers boss Gerrard’s lone criticism of referee Kevin Clancy centered on the official not sending off Celtic defender Christopher Jullien in added time in an incident that saw Rangers striker Alfredo Morelos see red for a second yellow card.

Rangers managing director Stewart Robertson, while insisting he was not criticising referees, said Monday the pace of the modern game made it “extremely difficult to make split-second calls with the degree of certainty required”.

He added: “We believe the introduction of VAR would help referees enormously and reduce the number of wrong decisions which sometimes have a dramatic effect on the outcome of matches.”

AFP

Liverpool’s ‘Brilliant’ 2019 Just A Building Block For Klopp

Liverpool’s German manager Jurgen Klopp takes part in a press conference at the training ground on the eve of a UEFA Champions league quarter final football match against Porto on April 8, 2019.
Paul ELLIS / AFP

 

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp insists the European champions must build on a “brilliant” 2019 to turn a 13-point lead at the top of the table into a first Premier League title in 30 years.

Klopp’s men were not at their flowing best and needed the help of two VAR reviews to continue their relentless march towards the title with a 1-0 win over Wolves on Sunday.

Liverpool have now won 18 of their first 19 league games of the season and lost just once in the calendar year in the league, on top of winning the Champions League, Club World Cup and UEFA Super Cup.

“2019 was brilliant but it’s not important because we count seasons, not years, so the 2019/20 season is not over,” said Klopp.

“We are halfway there, we still have 19 games to play and probably 18 or 19 of them will be like this tonight, for different reasons.

“Who cares about points in December? We just created a basis which we will work with from now on, that’s all.”

Fuming at VAR

Wolves were angry even before the VAR controversies as the Premier League Christmas scheduling meant they travelled to Anfield just 45 hours after a thrilling 3-2 win over Manchester City.

In the match they were left fuming at the two calls that went against them in quick succession towards the end of the first half.

Mane swept home his 14th goal of the season from Lallana’s knockdown with his shoulder and referee Anthony Taylor’s initial decision was overturned.

However, Wolves were unhappy that another claim for handball against Virgil van Dijk earlier in the move was not checked.

Wolves’ frustration was compounded in first-half stoppage time when Pedro Neto’s equaliser was ruled out.

Jonny was adjudged to be offside by the tiniest of margins in the build-up to add to a number of Premier League goals over the past two days ruled out for the most marginal of offside calls.

“Anfield is amazing but they were celebrating a non-goal. It doesn’t make sense. The referee should sustain his decision,” said Wolves boss Nuno Espirito Santo.

“The VAR referee is miles away taking decisions on a lot of things happening here. Who is inside the game? Who feels the intensity and the flow? The referee here.”

Nuno was booked among the Wolves protestations, but the Portuguese coach’s decision to start with top scorer Raul Jimenez and Adama Traore on the bench meant he had weapons up his sleeve come the second half.

Traore’s pace was unleashed on the hour mark and Jimenez followed shortly after, but only after Diogo Jota’s fierce strike forced Alisson Becker into a smart save.

The visitors had lost just once in their previous 14 league games to move into contention for a top-four finish and they did not go down without a fight in the final stages.

“If it would be easy to win that number of games a lot more teams would have done it,” added Klopp.

“It is not easy and you have to fight with all you have. Sometimes we have more and sometimes less and the boys do that all the time, so I couldn’t be more proud of what they did again. To get that result over the line is just impressive.”

Jimenez had the best chance to claim an equaliser, but was denied by a block from Joe Gomez before Joao Moutinho, Romain Saiss, Ruben Vinagre and Traore all fired off target.

Martial, Rashford Score For United In Burnley Win

Manchester United’s French striker Anthony Martial (C) puts the ball in the back of the net but is ruled to have fouled Burnley’s English defender James Tarkowski (L) ruling out the goal during the English Premier League football match at Turf Moor in Burnley, north west England on December 28, 2019. Oli SCARFF / AFP

 

 

Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford scored late in each half as Manchester United moved into fifth place in the Premier League with an impressive 2-0 win at Burnley.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men have responded positively to disappointing 2-0 defeat to then bottom-of-the-table Watford less than a week ago to head into the new year with fresh belief they can secure a return to the Champions League next season.

If United are to achieve that goal, Martial and Rashford will be key and they again provided the goals for the Red Devils in a game of few clear-cut chances.

There were also positives for Solskjaer at the back as his side ended a club-record 14-match run without a Premier League clean sheet.

Burnley have not beaten United since 2009 and never looked likely to spring a surprise.

Rashford was first to threaten when he hit the outside of the post midway through the first half.

But Burnley were architects of their own downfall just before half-time when Charlie Taylor gifted possession to Andreas Perreira and he fed Martial to score his third goal in two games.

Phil Bardsley forced David De Gea into a fine save with Burnley’s only shot on target.

United finally got the second goal their performance deserved to add a shine to the scoreline deep into stoppage time.

Daniel James led a counter-attack down the right and Rashford slotted home his 16th goal of the season at the second attempt after slipping as he rounded Nick Pope.

Leicester Fight Back To Beat West Ham

Leicester City’s English midfielder James Maddison (L) takes a shot but doesn’t score during the English Premier League football match between West Ham United and Leicester City at The London Stadium, in east London on December 28, 2019. Ben STANSALL / AFP

 

A much-changed Leicester bounced back from a Boxing Day thrashing by Liverpool to beat West Ham 2-1 on Saturday as Tottenham’s charge towards the Premier League top four stalled in a 2-2 draw at Norwich.

Leicester had taken just one point from their previous three games to realistically end an unlikely title challenge, but remain second best in the table behind runaway leaders Liverpool after ending a three-game winless run.

Brendan Rodgers made nine changes to the side outclassed by the European champions two days ago with Jamie Vardy among those missing due to the birth of his daughter.

Kelechi Iheanacho and Demarai Gray made the most of their chance for a rare Premier League start by scoring either side of half-time, although Gray also saw an early penalty saved by Lukasz Fabianski.

The Foxes move 10 points behind Liverpool having played two games more and stretch their lead over Manchester City in second to four points.

Pablo Fornals levelled for the Hammers just before half-time, but they remain just one point above the relegation zone after a seventh defeat in nine games.

AFP

Relegation Battle Toughen As Brighton Beat Bournemouth, Climbs To 13 Place

Brighton’s English defender Dan Burn heads the ball during the English Premier League football match between Brighton and Bournemouth at the American Express Community Stadium in Brighton, southern England on December 28, 2019. Glyn KIRK / AFP

 

Brighton eased fears of being dragged into a relegation battle as a well-deserved 2-0 win over Bournemouth lifted the Seagulls five points clear of the Premier League drop zone.

Alireza Jahanbakhsh and Aaron Mooy scored their first goals for the club as Graham Potter’s men secured just a second win in nine league games to move 13th.

Bournemouth meanwhile remain precariously placed just two points above the bottom three and could even end the day in the relegation zone if West Ham and Aston Villa win later on Saturday.

Jahanbakhsh has struggled to make an impact on the south coast since a big money move from AZ Alkmaar at the beginning of last season.

However the Iranian was moved to tears when he opened the scoring with his first Premier League goal less than three minutes into his first league start of the season.

Only a marginal offside call after a VAR review denied Dan Burn a second for Brighton early in the second half.

However, Mooy produced a moment of magic to secure the points 11 minutes from time as he controlled the ball on his chest, turned inside his marker and curled the ball into the far corner.

AFP

Klopp Insists He Never Lost Faith In Firmino

Liverpool’s German manager Jurgen Klopp (R) embraces Liverpool’s Brazilian midfielder Roberto Firmino (L) as they celebrate on the pitch after the English Premier League football match between Leicester City and Liverpool at King Power Stadium in Leicester, central England on December 26, 2019. Liverpool won the game 4-0. Oli SCARFF / AFP

 

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp insisted he had never lost faith in Roberto Firmino when the Brazilian was worried by a lack of goals before scoring four in three matches including the Club World Cup final.

Firmino, known affectionately to Klopp as Bobby, met with Klopp after a worrying run of one goal in 16 appearances.

But the German told Firmino he was in the side for more than just his goals, since when he’s been on a spree.

FHe followed up his goals in the semi-final and final of the Club World Cup with a Boxing Day double in the Premier League leaders’ 4-0 rout of nearest challengers Leicester City.

Firmino’s goals against the Foxes led to an embrace with Klopp on the touchline at Leicester’s King Power Stadium.

“Journalists told me he hadn’t scored for a while, but the thing about Bobby is that I don’t think about scoring,” Klopp explained.

“I think about how important he is, so we had a little talk and I told him. For the first time he was a little bit concerned about that fact (he had not scored in so many games), and I told him I was not interested in that number.

“He is the connector for our team, he is so important for us. He is the only one who can play the position, and he plays the position in a very special way.

“He doesn’t have to come (for a hug) with every goal, but this time we had a little thing where, after being calm enough to leave him on the pitch in games that I never thought about (his lack of goals), he thought he would say thank you.”

Liverpool, bidding to be crowned English champions for the first time in 30 years, are 13 points clear at the top after thrashing Leicester.

They have now extended their unbeaten run in the Premier League to 35 matches, with Liverpool’s last loss in the top flight a 2-1 defeat by Manchester City on January 3.

AFP