Maddison considers new Leicester deal

According to a recent report from Manchester Evening News, Leicester City star James Maddison could entertain the possibility of signing a brand new contract with the club – despite the fact that Manchester United are very interested in acquiring his services. Maddison is one of the breakout stars of the current Premier League campaign and has been turning heads long before that, which has drawn the interest from the Red Devils. Alas, a quick look at the Premier League table will tell you that a move to Old Trafford at this moment in time would actually serve as a bit of a step down for Maddison at this stage of his career. 

That’s likely the dilemma he’s weighing up in his head, mainly because United will almost certainly be offering him a sizeable fee in order to bring him further up north. 

The Foxes always seem to have a plan of action to counter things like this so that won’t worry them too much, and if anything, their form on the pitch could wind up being the decisive factor in all of this for Maddison. 

Tottenham players are a gift – Mourinho insists he does not need signings

Jose Mourinho insists he is completely happy with his Tottenham squad and does not feel the need to delve into the transfer market.

Mourinho signed a three-and-a-half-year contract as Spurs’ new head coach on Wednesday as last season’s Champions League finalists moved quickly following the shock sacking of Mauricio Pochettino.

Intrigue over how Mourinho’s relationship with Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy might play out has dominated the initial analysis of the appointment.

Throughout his decorated career, the former Chelsea, Real Madrid and Manchester United boss has frequently clashed with his boards over transfer policy.

Levy has a reputation for dealing cautiously in the market and, although Spurs broke their transfer record to bring in Tanguy Ndombele during the close season, they went through the two windows in 2018-19 without making a single first-team addition.

Nevertheless, Mourinho was keen to focus on what he judges to be a fine inheritance at his first news conference in charge of Spurs – noting he was previously linked to a number of his new squad.

“The best gift are the players who are here. I don’t need new players. I just need to get to know these ones better,” he said.

“I know them well but you never know them well enough until you meet them.

“I told the players I came here because of them. I tried to buy some for different clubs and some I didn’t even try [to buy] because you know how difficult it was.”

Spurs head into Saturday’s Premier League game at West Ham, where Mourinho will renew acquaintances with old adversary Manuel Pellegrini, languishing in 14th in the Premier League.

Reports of growing unrest within the squad dominated Pochettino’s final weeks in charge, while uncertainty over the future of a number of star names is underlined by Christian Eriksen, Toby Alderweireld and Jan Vertonghen all being out of contract at the end of this season.

Nevertheless, Mourinho has no doubt he is in the right place to revive a celebrated career after his sapping tenure at Manchester United.

“Happiness-wise, I am convinced my choice was a great one. [On a scale of one to 10], 10,” he said.

“When a club changes mid-season, it is because things are not good. Sometimes results make these decisions. I wouldn’t say it’s a [big] job. The potential of the club is huge, the potential of the players is great.

“One of the reasons I came was the vision Mr Levy put in front of me about this club. I know that I have potentially a great job in my hands.”

Mourinho hails Pochettino: Spurs will always be Mauricio´s home

Mauricio Pochettino will always be welcome at Tottenham, according to his successor Jose Mourinho.

Pochettino was sacked after five-and-a-half years at the helm on Tuesday, with last season’s Champions League finalists moving quickly to appoint former Chelsea, Real Madrid and Manchester United boss Mourinho as head coach.

The 56-year-old faced his first news conference in charge of Spurs on Thursday and began by speaking warmly of Pochettino, who remains widely revered by the club’s fanbase despite a dismal start to the current campaign that leaves them languishing 14th in the Premier League.

“I’ve been smiling for two days [but] first of all I do it with a bit of sadness [because] I have to speak about Mauricio,” Mourinho said.

“I have to congratulate him on the incredible job he did. I share with you what we shared inside.

“This club will always be his home; this training ground is his training ground. He is always welcome here.

“Tomorrow is another day. He will find happiness soon. He will give everything like he did at this club. He will leave with sadness, with the feeling that he did great work. It is what everyone at the club felt.”

A turbulent week has meant a quick turnaround for Mourinho, who will lead Spurs for the first time at West Ham on Saturday.

He has been out of management for almost a year after being sacked by Manchester United last December but insists he is ready for the challenge.

“I had a feeling I was going to get a club mid-season,” he said. “I knew I would be in a situation where I would get only one or two days before my first game.

“I cannot come here and think it is about myself. It is about the players and going from a base of stability.

“I thought about it during these months because I thought I might get a job mid-season and I might have a game two days later.

“We have our own ways but they were in the hands of a good manager and coaching staff here.”

Club record signing Tanguy Ndombele and centre-back Jan Vertonghen face fitness tests on respective groin and hamstring complaints, while Mourinho will be without winger Erik Lamela (hamstring) and goalkeeping duo Michel Vorm (calf) and Hugo Lloris (elbow) at London Stadium.

Neymar set for PSG comeback as illness hits Mbappe

Neymar is ready to return to action for Paris Saint-Germain against Lille on Saturday, but the Ligue 1 champions could be without Kylian Mbappe.

The Brazil superstar has not featured for his club since sustaining a hamstring injury during the October international break, continuing a tale of fitness woe that has stained his time at the Parc des Princes.

Speaking at a pre-match news conference, head coach Thomas Tuchel confirmed Neymar would be available for a mouth-watering week of fixtures, with trips to Real Madrid and Monaco coming after Lille’s visit to the French capital.

“Neymar feels good,” Tuchel said. “He has trained well and will be in the group for tomorrow’s match, but he will not be able to play 90 minutes.

“He will bring us quality and decisive things. When he is with us, we are super dangerous. That is necessary if we want to continue to win

“Lille, Real Madrid and Monaco represent three challenging games for us.”

Mbappe has often stepped up in Neymar’s absence, but the France forward has been laid low by illness having already suffered hamstring, thigh and groin setbacks this term.

“He had a fever, he has to start training today, we have to wait,” said Tuchel, who will be without midfield duo Marco Verratti (knee) and Ander Herrera (thigh).

Neymar’s rehabilitation took in a trip to watch the Davis Cup in Madrid this week, something which neither delighted nor angered his boss.

“What can I do? I’m not his father, nor the police. I am just his coach,” Tuchel added.

“He trained well. Did I enjoy his trip to Madrid? No. But he was very professional during those two weeks.

“He did more than others, working with the group and also individually. If all goes well, he can play [against Lille]. Tomorrow we will decide”.

Arsenal without Ceballos until mid-December

Arsenal midfielder Dani Ceballos is facing another month on the sidelines due to a hamstring injury.

The Spain playmaker sustained the problem during the 1-1 Europa League draw at Vitoria SC at the start of this month.

Head coach Unai Emery initially referred to that setback as a “small injury” but, in a short injury update posted on their official website ahead of Saturday’s Premier League home match against Southampton, Arsenal confirmed damage to Ceballos’ left hamstring means he is aiming to return to full training in mid-December.

The 23-year-old has made 17 appearances in all competitions since moving to Emirates Stadium on a season-long loan from Real Madrid

Emery will assess Sead Kolasinac before the Southampton game after the left-back returned to club duty with a tight left hamstring.

Bosnia-Herzegovina international Kolasinac completed 90 minutes of his country’s 3-0 defeat to Italy last Friday but sat out the subsequent win over Liechtenstein by the same scoreline.

Emery finds himself under pressure following a run of four winless matches in the Premier League.

Zidane won´t be happy with ´childish´ Bale, says ex-Real Madrid president Calderon

Gareth Bale’s well-publicised celebration of Wales’ Euro 2020 qualification will inflame his relationship with Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane, according to Los Blancos’ former president Ramon Calderon.

In the aftermath of his country’s 2-0 win over Hungary on Tuesday, Bale was pictured behind a banner that read: “WALES. GOLF. MADRID… IN THAT ORDER”.

The slogan stems from a chant sung by Wales fans that pokes fun at the Spanish media’s portrayal of Bale, who has been accused of placing Madrid low down his list of priorities and spending too much time playing golf.

The 30-year-old almost left for China during the close season and recently admitted he gets more enjoyment from playing for the national team than Madrid.

Calderon, Madrid’s president from July 2006 to January 2009, believes the events of Tuesday could cost Bale a place in Zidane’s matchday squad, with Los Blancos set to host high-flying Real Sociedad in LaLiga on Saturday.

“It’s going to be difficult for Bale now because it was very childish of him to pose behind that banner,” Calderon told The Athletic.

“Fans are very angry because of course they didn’t like that, bearing in mind he has hardly played for the team this season then he goes off on international duty with Wales and plays in two matches.

“It’s a difficult situation for Zidane and he won’t be happy with Bale for posing with that banner.

“Bale hasn’t done himself any favours with this. He’s adding fuel to the fire and it’s going to be difficult for Zidane to include him in the starting line-up and also the bench.”

Bale was reportedly on the cusp of joining Jiangsu Suning in July, only for the deal to fall through at the last minute.

Calderon advised the four-time Champions League winner to pursue a return to Tottenham, where Jose Mourinho is now charge.

“He was linked with going to China but that is only for players who are at the end of their careers or who go for money,” he said.

“Bale has at least three or four more years at the top level. Could he join Jose Mourinho at Tottenham? Why not? It depends on what Mourinho thinks of him but I’m sure the fans at Tottenham have very good memories of him there.

“For Bale to go back to where he really belongs would be ideal for everyone, because going to China would be a pity.”

Chelsea doing well without new signings

Chelsea will find out in December if their appeal against a two-window transfer ban has been successful. The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) are reportedly set to decide in the first half of December over the ban. In truth, although it would be good for Chelsea to have the choice to add some new additions to their squad in the January transfer window, it would not be the end of the world.

Transfer ban may have been a blessing in disguise

Looking at Chelsea’s current situation, the two-window transfer ban may just have been a blessing in disguise. In the summer the Blues would have been looking at many big-name bosses to fill their vacant managerial role.

However, most top bosses want to bring in their own players. Bringing in club legend Frank Lampard as boss was almost a free-hit for the Chelsea hierarchy. If he failed then no doubt a more experienced boss would have come into the club next summer when they will be allowed to sign players.

As it is though, Lampard is doing a very solid job and there seems to be a great togetherness at the club. If the team continues in a similar vein, the former Blues midfielder may be the man to bring a touch of stability to a club who have not been afraid to change bosses in recent years.

Youngsters thriving for the Blues

If a big-name foreign boss had arrived in the summer and had splashed the cash, then would the likes of Mason Mount and Tammy Abraham be starting for the Blues? It seems unlikely, but the pair have thrived under Lampard and their form has led to the pair earning international call-ups.

The pair’s story may have been the familiar one of young English players not getting a chance at big English clubs. They may have struggled for first-team action and then moved on and may have never fulfilled their potential.

The summer lost of Belgian international Eden Hazard was a big blow. However, Lampard has managed to compensate for the winger’s loss by getting the best out of the aforementioned duo and also USA international winger Christian Pulisic.

Another boss may not have got the best out of the youngsters and created such a positive atmosphere around the club from south west London. Lampard’s faith in youth has played a big part in the Blues successful campaign so far.

New arrivals may upset the positive atmosphere

At the moment, there seems to be a great atmosphere at Chelsea instilled by Lampard and his coaching staff. The Blues boss may be hoping to strengthen his squad in the January transfer window to aid their chances of climbing a Champions League spot this season.

Chelsea are odds of 2/9 to finish in the Premier League top-four, so they are well-placed to achieve their objectives this season. New signings may well disrupt the togetherness in the squad.

Only time will tell if Chelsea can make new signings in the January transfer window. However, the Blues are doing fine with their current squad and they may not need new signings to clinch a top-four spot this season.

Will the Court of Arbitration for Sport overturn Chelsea’s transfer ban in December?

Juventus to move for Mbappe in the summer

Juventus will launch ‘Operation Mbappe’ and do the best they can to bring in the young French sensation from Paris Saint-Germain at the end of the season, according to Tuttosport.

The Serie A title holders have been flexing their muscles in the transfer marked for the past few years, successfully hampering the negotiations over new contracts of Emre Can, Aaron Ramsey and Adrien Rabiot with their respective former clubs and signing them all for free, but the biggest coups so far have arguably been the acquisitions of Cristiano Ronaldo from Real Madrid and Matthijs de Ligt from Ajax.

However, they are aware that the Portuguese superstar is about to turn 35 in February, and they are keen on securing a long-term replacement. If there is a player out there who could possibly fill his shoes, it’s certainly Kylian Mbappe, whose contract with the Ligue 1 champions until 2022, but he reportedly won’t be signing a new one.

However, Juventus may face fierce competition from Real Madrid who are still struggling to replace Ronaldo themselves.

Big Match Focus: Manchester City v Chelsea (Saturday 17:30 GMT)

Their title hopes dwindling, Manchester City face another tough assignment when Premier League action resumes this weekend as they welcome Chelsea to the Etihad Stadium.

The back-to-back English champions lost 3-1 away to Liverpool in their most recent outing and find themselves fourth in the table, nine points adrift of the unbeaten leaders.

Saturday’s visit of Chelsea is far from ideal for Pep Guardiola, then, with Frank Lampard’s in-form side sitting a point better off than City after winning six league games in a row. 

Chelsea’s youngsters are firing on all cylinders while City’s big hitters have seemingly gone off the boil, but the Blues have lost three of their last four top-flight trips to City, including a 6-0 thrashing in this corresponding fixture last season.

CHELSEA PUNCHING ABOVE THEIR WEIGHT

The loss of Eden Hazard, coupled with a transfer ban that, as things stand, will stretch into a second window, was supposed to spell the end of Chelsea’s top-four aspirations.

That has been far from the case, however, with Lampard being given freedom to turn to youth in his debut campaign as a Premier League boss.

A 26-point gap separated the sides last season, yet with nearly a third of the current campaign played it is Chelsea who are better positioned.

The obvious question, of course, is whether they can last the distance and maintain their push for silverware on multiple fronts.

Chelsea were also third after 12 games last season, but the mood is far more positive around Stamford Bridge compared to 12 months ago when Maurizio Sarri was in charge.

The shift to focus on youth has yielded dividends, with Tammy Abraham and Mason Mount thriving, but there is one major flaw to this Chelsea side – an inability to defend.

They have conceded 17 league goals so far – no side in the top nine has let in more – and shipped four at home to Ajax in the Champions League earlier this month.

City, too, have had defensive issues of late, highlighted in the defeat at Anfield that saw their makeshift back four opened up countless times.

Guardiola’s men have registered four clean sheets in their last 11 league games, contributing to three defeats already this term – one fewer than in the whole of their title-winning campaign last time out.

Tammy Abraham - cropped

HEAD-TO-HEAD: SERGIO AGUERO V TAMMY ABRAHAM

Keeping out the opposition has been a problem for both sides, but they have certainly not lacked goals of their own.

No Premier League team has scored more goals than City’s 35 this term, with Sergio Aguero responsible for nine of those.

Aguero tends to fare well in this fixture, too, having scored 10 top-flight goals against Chelsea – only versus Newcastle United (15) and Tottenham (11) has he managed more.

The Argentina international has found the net eight times in his last six league appearances against the London outfit, including a hat-trick in the 6-0 thrashing nine months ago.

Only two players have scored more Premier League goals than Aguero in 2019-20, one of those being Tammy Abraham, who will lead the line for Chelsea.

Abraham has netted in back-to-back top-flight fixtures and has opened the scoring in five different league games this term – at least two more than any other player.

Nine of his 10 goals have been scored from open play inside the box – eight with his right foot and one with his head – while Aguero has six open-play goals inside the area.

Both players have two assists to their name, showing that there is more to their game than just finding the back of the net.

Sergio Aguero - cropped

FORM GUIDE

City have been beaten by Norwich City, Wolves and Liverpool in their last eight league matches – as many defeats as they suffered in their previous 26 games in the competition.

The 2-0 loss to Wolves came at the Etihad Stadium on October 6 and Tottenham drew 2-2 there in August, but City have won 13 of their 15 home league matches in 2019.

Chelsea beat Palace 2-0 last time out to make it six successive Premier League wins, a feat they last achieved in May 2017 when winning the title under Antonio Conte.

Away from home, meanwhile, Lampard’s side have won five in a row, scoring 18 goals in those matches at an average of 3.6 per game.

Raheem Sterling - cropped

HISTORY SAYS…

City were penalty shoot-out winners when the sides met in last season’s EFL Cup final following a goalless draw and tend to perform well in this fixture.

The reigning champions have won three of the last four Premier League meetings between the sides, keeping three clean sheets in the process.

Chelsea have collected just two victories from their last 10 league trips to City, winning 1-0 in February 2004 and 3-1 in December 2016.

They shipped six goals in the most recent league encounter and have kept only one clean sheet in their last 12 visits to the Etihad Stadium.

Aubameyang stops Arsenal contract talks amid Barcelona interest

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has put the talks with Arsenal over a new contract on hold while he waits to find out how serious Barcelona are in their intention to take him to Camp Nou, according to Sport.

The Catalan club have been linked with a host of strikers and the talk of them being in the marked has been going on for quite a while, as they seek a replacement for the 32-year-old Luis Suarez. The Uruguayan himself recently said he had no problems with the club seeking alternatives, being aware that his time at the club may be nearing its conclusion.

Aubameyang has been one of the best performers in the Arsenal team and his goals have helped the team survive plenty of turmoil in other areas of the pitch. He has been named captain following the incident which saw Granit Xhaka stripped of the armband, though that decision has reportedly been questioned by some at the club.

The Gabonese will enter the final year of his contract with the Gunners next summer.