Spurs chief says Kane, Alli not for sale

Spurs chief says Kane, Alli not for sale

Mauricio Pochettino's side are currently out of the Champions League places, although they can draw level on points with fourth-placed Liverpool if they win at Wembley and overtake Jurgen Klopp's side if they beat the Toffees by five goals or more.

But the club have a new 61,500-seat stadium to pay for at a time when rivals with deeper pockets are eyeing some of their top performers.

Top scorer Kane is reportedly coveted by Real Madrid and the Champions League holders have also been linked with midfielder Alli, along with Paris Saint-Germain. Left-back Danny Rose is believed to be a target for Manchester United.

But Levy has made it clear that the current window is a time for squad-strengthening, not weakening, and said he would reject any unwanted offers in the summer as well.

I'm 100 per cent confident," he said. Every single player that we want to keep, I can assure you will be playing for Tottenham Hotspur next season.

Mauricio's strategy has always been that if an opportunity arises that he thinks can improve the squad then we will need to look at it, but January is always a very difficult window.

Levy is in negotiations with Alli over a new contract that would bring him roughly into line with the money paid to Kane, who is Tottenham's highest earner and who may be granted a contract upgrade himself soon.

Midfielder Harry Winks is a doubt against Everton because of an ankle injury, Rose is set to miss out because of a knee problem while centre-back Toby Alderweireld is working his way towards a comeback from a hamstring tear sustained in early November.

The encouraging start to Sam Allardyce's reign as Everton manager has faded in recent weeks. The Toffees have not won in five matches and are out of the FA Cup following a painful third-round defeat at Liverpool last week.

Defender Mason Holgate was involved in a confrontation with Roberto Firmino at Anfield that could have consequences for both players.

Having claimed he was racially abused by the Liverpool striker, Holgate himself is reportedly facing the prospect of Football Association action for alleged homophobic tweets sent from a now-deleted Twitter account more than five years ago.

There is better news elsewhere for Allardyce, with right-back Seamus Coleman back in training after nine months out with a broken leg and Turkey striker Cenk Tosun set for his debut after completing his £27 million ($36 million, 30 million euros) move from Besiktas.

Captain Phil Jagielka has acknowledged that Everton have to be better in attack, saying: "The gaffer does not say to us that the be all and end all is to defend and we forget about going forward.

He wants us to cause problems for the teams we play against. It is up to us to find a mixture of both defensive resolve and attacking purpose.

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Coutinho completes dream Barcelona move

Coutinho completes dream Barcelona move

The Brazilian signed a five-year contract in a ceremony sitting alongside Barca president Josep Maria Bartomeu, making him the third-most expensive player in history.

It's an honour for me, a great honour, but also a dream to be here," Coutinho said after posing on the Camp Nou pitch in a Barcelona shirt.

I have my goals; to get here, to be happy, win titles and have fun -- I only think about that.

Minutes before the midfielder put pen to paper after a whirlwind few days, the club said a thigh injury would delay his debut until the end of January.

The runaway La Liga leaders also claimed that Liverpool had cut their original asking price from 200 million euros, after a long-running transfer saga dating back to the summer window.

Due to a contractual issue and due to Liverpool's desire, we cannot provide the exact figures, but there has been a very significant reduction (in price)," said Barcelona vice-president Jordi Mestre.

Barca's swoop for Coutinho is outranked only by Paris Saint-Germain's stunning world record 222 million-euro signing of Neymar from Barcelona last year, and the Paris club's capture of French striker Kylian Mbappe in a deal which will be worth 180 million euros when the teenager completes his initial loan deal later this year.

Coutinho's arrival will help Barcelona move on from the humiliation of losing Neymar, and his presence alongside Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez will help take the pressure off another of the club's stars, 33-year-old midfielder Andres Iniesta.

But the Brazilian international insisted he would not be replacing Neymar or Iniesta in Ernesto Valverde's side.

Neymar is a huge player. But we have different characteristics and I've come here to find my space," Coutinho said.

I spoke with him. He told me about the city, the players and told me that this club has an amazing dressing room.

Iniesta, for me, is a genius. What I like most is being in the group and being able to play, the rest is a question for the coach.

Bartomeu said the club had secured "one of the stars of world football" and admitted that Liverpool had put up a fight to keep the player.

It was not easy and other clubs expressed an interest in him, but he was determined to come here," the president said.

Barcelona made three bids for Coutinho last year, but Liverpool stood firm.

In the end, the lure of a huge profit on a player they paid just £8. 5 million for when he joined from Inter Milan in 2013 proved too strong for the English club.

Coach Valverde predicted Coutinho will comfortably fit into his star-studded team, and he could now make his debut at home to Alaves on January 28.

Coutinho played with Suarez for 18 months at Liverpool before the Uruguayan made the same move to Spain in 2014.

It's an honour to be able to play with him (Suarez) again," Coutinho added.

He's helped me a lot, wrote to me a lot and explained to me about the club and city. He even visited a few houses for me! He's a very close friend.

Valverde admitted that it would be a challenge to find a position for Coutinho, with the Spanish title looking a formality and the player cup-tied for the Champions League.

I have seen him play in various positions -- on the right, the left, in the middle, on the wings," said Valverde.

He is likely to be used to give Iniesta a rest, keeping the veteran midfielder fresh for the Champions League as Barcelona seek to wrest the trophy back from bitter rivals Real Madrid.

Rio-born Coutinho scored 54 goals for Liverpool in all competitions, although he won no silverware during his five-year stay at Anfield.

His departure is a blow to Liverpool as he had returned to top form after an injury-hit start to the season, scoring seven goals in the last eight games of 2017.

Liverpool have been tipped to quickly reinvest their windfall from the Coutinho sale, with Leicester City winger Riyad Mahrez and Monaco's Thomas Lemar both linked with a switch to Anfield.

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'Neymar is like Messi and will be a reference point'

'Neymar is like Messi and will be a reference point'

Xavi is working with the Aspire academy and also participating in the organization of the 2022 Qatar World Cup. The midfielder brought up the idea of how football is at it’s peak physical level in terms of fitness and that it is harder to dribble in this modern age.

In Xavi’s opinion, PSG and Brazil star Neymar will be the reference point in the world of football in the coming years. I think there will be a while after Messi and Cristiano [Ronaldo] when Neymar will be the reference point," the midfielder told El Pais.

Especially as he is Brazilian; Brazil have every chance of making it to a World Cup final.

We have improved so much on a physical level that nowadays it is very difficult to dribble defenses. Except Messi or Neymar, or the Luis Suarez's out there, even the likes of Cristiano [Ronaldo] or[Gareth] Bale face problems while trying to dribble opponents, because physically we[footballers] are at an insurmountable level,” the legendary midfielder opined.

Xavi also cited that use of modern technology has further equipped players with the ability to hone their physical level.

We train with a chip in our chest, we adjust the distances, count the kilometers traveled, top speed . It is impossible to be better prepared physically.

Xavi said that modern football has changed due to the understanding of working with limited space and suggested that he would like to see someone like PSG's Kylian Mbappe feature against a defence like Atletico Madrid’s.

He believed that Neymar has characteristics which are similar to Lionel Messi’s. I think that talent beats physical gifts," he continued. Neymar is like Messi: talent and physicality. I think that Mbappe has more physical gifts than talent,” Xavi added.

The Neymar era will last three or four years, and then Mbappe's time will come. He has mad potential. And he is still young; he's only 19. He is a monster.

He opined that the art of dribbling is also more difficult now because there is less space to work with – mainly due to the ideals that Guardiola’s Barca resurrected.

The tactical aspect has been exploited and Guardiola focused on the details.

I had never worked a defensive throw-in. He ordered you even for that. When the opponent got a throw-in, we would be perfectly positioned for that.

Guardiola had everything under control. What happened? That everyone has wanted to copy a little Guardiola style, like [Joachim] Low who looked at us and did what he did. Some have copied that, and others have gone towards the antithesis, which is Simeone.

The concept of attacking football has changed with the revolution of Guardiola’s Total Football concepts and that means technical means are being brought into sharp focus simply because physical levels are already at an all-time peak.

There are talented players like Koke close behind, shrinking spaces, trying to unlock the superiorities. Football has exploded in the physical and tactical aspects. Now what remains to be exploited is the technical one; why things happen; how to attack. That's the talent! And it is not yet sufficiently developed. Because in soccer, there are more Simeones than Guardiolas. You see it in the Premier league. How many teams play like Guardiola’s? Three? Four? And how many teams play like Simeone’s and allow opponents to dominate the game? 70%? And it happens in La Liga too. The excuse of these coaches is that, 'I cannot compete against City or Barcelona'. But they do the same against Leganes! the legendary midfielder said.

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The Week in Quotes

  • Published in Sports
The Week in Quotes

This week we feature two different players talking about their relationship with the "lottery" of football—penalty kicks, while Javier Hernandez says he is aiming for the very top at Russia 2018.

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