Klopp: 'Really strange' situation led to Kabak and Davies signings

Football

Jurgen Klopp: ‘Really strange’ situation led to Liverpool signing Ozan Kabak and Ben Davies

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp said on Tuesday the January deadline day signings of Ozan Kabak from Schalke and Ben Davies from Preston North End were a result of a “really strange” situation, with the club in the midst of a defensive crisis and mounting injury list. It came as he confirmed Virgil van Dijk is unlikely to return this season.

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Neymar 'set to sign new four-year PSG deal'

Neymar is reportedly set to sign a new four-year deal with Paris Saint-Germain.

The Brazilian joined PSG from Barcelona in 2017 and has appeared to have a fractured relationship with the club at times.

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However, this week he spoke about his new-found happiness and his desire to continue his career in Paris.

It is now being reported by Brazilian journalist Marcelo Bechler – who broke the news that Neymar was set to sign for PSG – that a new deal is very close and could be announced later this week.

Mauricio Pochettino, who was appointed as PSG head coach last month, has said that he is optimistic Neymar and Kylian Mbappe will both stay at the club.

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And Neymar, who has scored three goals in his last two games, appears happier than he does done in the past, perhaps due to the appointment of Pochettino.

“I’m very happy here, I want to stay at PSG and I hope (Kylian) Mbappe wants to stay too,” he told TF1.

“Of course, that’s the wish of all fans, we want PSG to be a great team and I want to keep doing what I do here, play football and be happy.

“Today I’m very happy, I feel happy, a lot has changed, I can’t exactly say why, if it’s me or something else.”

Eurosport France’s Maxime Dupuis says the report about Neymar’s extension does not come as a surprise.

“The source is reliable because Marcelo Bechler was the first to report he would sign to PSG in 2017. It’s not a big surprise, we knew Paris was looking for an extension and the player was open to. He recently said that he was happy in Paris.”

Neymar, whose current deal with PSG is set to expire next year, came close to leaving in the summer of 2019 when he reportedly handed in a transfer request and then turned up late for pre-season training.

He also had several fallings out with previous PSG head coach Thomas Tuchel, who is now in charge of Chelsea after getting sacked by PSG in late December.

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Rojo leaves Man Utd to sign for Boca Juniors

Manchester United defender Marcos Rojo has joined Argentina’s Boca Juniors for an undisclosed fee, the Premier League club said on Tuesday.

“Marcos Rojo has completed his transfer to Boca Juniors,” United said in a statement.

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“The 30-year-old will return to his homeland on a permanent basis, after agreeing terms with the reigning Argentinian champions.”

Rojo has not played for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s team this season.

He made his last United appearance in a 3-1 win over Brighton and Hove Albion in November 2019.

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Football

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In today’s Euro Papers, two of Europe’s biggest clubs are set to do battle for Raphael Varane. The Real Madrid defender has been repeatedly linked with moves away from the Bernabeu and the 27-year-old could depart the Madrid giants in the summer with numerous top European clubs in the mix for his signature.

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Southampton complete loan deal for Liverpool's Minamino

Southampton have signed Japan international Takumi Minamino from Premier League champions Liverpool on a loan deal until the end of the season, the south coast club said.

Southampton coach Ralph Hasenhuettl said the 26-year-old, who has played 26 times for Japan, would offer a good attacking option in the second half of the campaign.

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“I’m very pleased to welcome Takumi to our squad for the rest of this season,” Hasenhuettl told the club website.

This will give us some additional depth in our squad at an important time, and I’m looking forward to beginning work with him on the training pitch.

Southampton also confirmed striker Shane Long had sealed a loan switch to Championship side Bournemouth for the remainder of the season.

Defender Yan Valery will also play in the English second tier for the rest of the campaign after completing a loan move to Birmingham City.

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Everton sign King from Bournemouth

Everton have signed striker Joshua King from Championship (second-tier) side Bournemouth until the end of the 2020-21 campaign, the Premier League club said in a statement.

Everton said they had paid a “nominal fee” for the Norway international, who has scored 53 goals in 184 matches for the south coast side.

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The 29-year-old brings plenty of Premier League experience to Everton having scored 48 goals in 161 games for Bournemouth in the English top flight.

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TUESDAY’S BIG STORIES

Jurgen Redknapp

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All that was missing was Jurgen Klopp cruising into Melwood, winding down the window in his 4×4 and leaning out for a friendly interview. Indeed, it may have happened were we not gripped by a pandemic where only the most essential activities (and drives to test your eyesight) are allowed.

One can only imagine the reaction of Liverpool supporters when they realised they had a German Harry Redknapp at the helm. “Ben Davies? He’s alright but he’s not having the best of times under Mouri… what do you mean the other Ben Davies?”

Of course, Ben Davies II wasn’t the main event at Anfield. That accolade was reserved for ‘The Turkish Wall’, Ozan Kabak, who arrives with much hype from Schalke 04 – Eurosport Germany’s Tobias Hlusiak (reluctantly) told us he’s like a fast Mats Hummels. In the interest of balance (read: to irritate Liverpool fans) we should add that Schalke are bottom of the Bundesliga and Kabak was the main attraction in a defence that had conceded nine more than anyone else in the German top-flight.

But enough goading. With Virgil van Dijk, Joe Gomez and now Joel Matip all injured forever, Liverpool had to act. And, more selfishly, there wouldn’t have been a deadline day frenzy without them. They capped an otherwise underwhelming deadline day at the 11th hour by allowing Takumi Minamino to join Southampton on loan and Mo Salah to leave for Real Madrid. Bet you missed that last one.

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Elsewhere…

Not the most eventful day, but:

  • Arsenal have shipped out Ainsley Maitland-Niles (loan to West Brom), Joe Willock (loan to Newcastle) and Shkrodan Mustafi (forever)
  • Tottenham legend Gedson Fernandes has switched to Galatasaray, still on loan from Benfica
  • After starring in multiple Euro Papers, Sami Khedira disappointed us all in signing for Hertha Berlin
  • Moises Caicedo, the player we’ve all claimed to watch in the U-20 Copa Libertadores, has moved to Brighton
  • Everton, not wanting to be completely upstaged by their neighbours, signed Josh King after midnight (which is probably cheating, but we’ll let them off)

Head here for ALL the deals from deadline day.

Disappointment for Dele

Did anyone actually think this one would happen?

OK, we did for a bit. Alli would have thrived under his former manager, the man who elevated him to such great heights, in a team where he wouldn’t be scolded for trying the occasional flick. But there was always going to be a double problem: Daniel Levy and Jose Mourinho.

Levy was hardly going to give Mauricio Pochettino a leg-up at PSG. He knows that if Pochettino succeeds in Paris, and Mourinho continues with his toilet tactics, the blame will mount at his door. Meanwhile, Mourinho already has a lengthy scrapbook of players he unfairly rejected, so why would he risk another ‘I told you so’ moment?

Alli going to PSG only risked muddying the reputation of both men and Alli can’t prove them wrong if they never let him leave.

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Here’s the greatest January Deadline Day signing, Jermain Defoe, banging in five goals for Tottenham against Wigan:

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More Premier League football! Four games including Sheffield United versus West Brom in the battle for who finishes 20th (18:00) and Manchester United’s tame draw with Southampton (20:15).

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West Brom confirm Maitland-Niles loan deal, Willock joins Newcastle

West Bromwich Albion have completed the loan signing of Ainsley Maitland-Niles from Arsenal.

The 23-year-old England international has struggled to get regular first team football under Mikel Arteta as the current season progressed.

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After starting the season brightly and earning an international call-up from Gareth Southgate, Kieran Tierney and Bukayo Saka have been given the nod on the left-hand side of the Arsenal team.

Maitland-Niles was linked with a move to Southampton to compete with Ryan Bertrand but instead has moved to Sam Allardyce’s West Brom as he attempts to get more time on the pitch.

He is the fifth signing made by Allardyce in the winter transfer window after Robert Snodgrass, Andy Lonergan, Mbaye Diagne and Okay Yokuslu, the club announced on Monday evening.

Arsenal have also allowed 21-year-old midfielder Joe Willock to join Newcastle on loan until the end of the season.

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Poch denied Dele by Levy

Mauricio Pochettino was frustrated his former boss would not lend him Dele Alli, the Daily Mail reports. Paris Saint-Germain boss Pochettino had been hoping Alli would join the French champions on loan from Tottenham for the remainder of the season, but Spurs chairman Daniel Levy would not allow the move to go ahead despite Jose Mourinho’s approval. Former Spurs boss Pochettino was ultimately denied the reunion with Alli because a replacement could not be found in time.

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Paper Round’s view: The main loser here is Alli, who has been denied an opportunity to reignite not only his season but perhaps his career. It is difficult to believe Spurs ran out of time to find a replacement given this was in the offing from the beginning of January, but alas, it wasn’t to be, and unless Mourinho has a change of heart then plenty of minutes on the bench await Alli in the upcoming months.

Tuchel’s Chelsea contract clauses

Thomas Tuchel will trigger an option to extend his 18-month contract as Chelsea manager if he guides the club to the Champions League in the next two seasons, the Daily Mail reports. Tuchel’s deal is said to be heavily incentivised and though the ex-PSG boss was initially reluctant to sign a short-term deal, he knows what he must do to please the club’s hierarchy and earn an extension.

Thomas Tuchel – FC Chelsea

Image credit: Getty Images

Paper Round’s view: Straight away, a look at the Premier League table. Chelsea are seventh after 21 games, six points behind Leicester in fourth. Chasing the Foxes is most certainly doable, but there are a handful of clubs hoping to do likewise, and you imagine this time out at least Tuchel may have the argument he arrived halfway through should they fail to reach the Champions League. Next season, they will likely be less kind – if he gets there.

Hayes on AFC Wimbledon’s shortlist

Chelsea Women manager Emma Hayes is on the shortlist to become the new boss at League One side AFC Wimbledon, the Express reports. Hayes has managed Chelsea since 2012, but AFC Wimbledon are considering making her the first ever female manager of a men’s Football League side. Dons manager Glyn Hodges left on the weekend, and as well as Hayes the club are also looking at Ian Holloway, Sol Campbell and Derek Adams.

Paper Round’s view: It would be a historic moment for football, and quite the coup for the Dons given Hayes’ list of honours and achievements. On course for a fourth WSL title with Chelsea, it will be intriguing to see whether there is any truth to these reports, and whether she would give up her role at a team dreaming of Champions League glory to move to a struggling League One side. Either way, it’s worth watching this one closely.

MLS clubs want Sturridge

A number of MLS clubs are interested in signing former Liverpool and England striker Daniel Sturridge, the Mail reports. The 31-year-old is currently a free agent after leaving Trabzonspor last summer, and he is now weighing up his next move as he looks to maintain his fitness. Championship clubs have reportedly shown an interest too, but Sturridge believes he can still play for a side in the top tier.

Daniel Sturridge has not played since leaving Trabzonspor in the summer

Image credit: Getty Images

Paper Round’s view: Given the report claims some Premier League clubs have offered Sturridge the opportunity to train with them, Sturridge has the perfect chance to prove he is still good enough to play for a top-tier side, and as a free agent he could be the wildcard a side need if they are looking to steer clear of relegation or finish safely in mid-table. That said, his stint with West Brom didn’t exactly go to plan three years ago.

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Liverpool complete surprise Davies transfer

Liverpool have announced the capture of Ben Davies from Preston North End.

The 25-year-old central defender has joined on what Liverpool called “a long-term contract”.

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The deal to bring the Championship player to the current Premier League champions is reported to have cost the club an initial £500,000, with the fee rising to £1.6 million if add-on clauses are met.

Speaking to Liverpool’s official website, Davies said: “I’m obviously delighted to be here.

“It’s a huge opportunity. Obviously it came as a bit of a surprise when it first came but once you start to get your head around it, the opportunity that is in front of me is incredible. I’d be silly to not make the most of it and learn off the players [at the club].

“I’ve never actually been to Anfield and I haven’t had a look around yet. I had a quick look out and had a look at the pitch and it looks like carpet, which obviously you’d expect.

“I haven’t actually walked out of the tunnel yet, so I’m looking forward to that. Just to be in this kind of atmosphere is brilliant.”

Davies has played 145 games with Preston and will help fill in for injured duo Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez.

Liverpool are also expected to complete the signing of Ozan Kabak from Schalke 04 on an initial loan deal with an arrangement to buy in the summer.

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