EPL

Levy warns Tottenham will do what is right for club amid Kane speculation

By Sports Desk June 12, 2021

Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy did nothing to temper speculation about Harry Kane's future, detailing Spurs' difficult financial position while insisting they remain focused on winning. 

Kane has been linked with a move away from Tottenham amid reported interest from Premier League champions Manchester City, Manchester United, Chelsea, Real Madrid and Barcelona.

Levy spoke to Tottenham's official website after appointing former Juventus sporting director Fabio Paratici as managing director, warning the London outfit will do what is right for the club.

"I am never going to talk about any specific player in public," Levy said as Tottenham remain without a full-time head coach following Jose Mourinho's sacking in April.

"All I will say is his frustrations in not winning are shared by me and all the fans and players. We all want to win."

At the same time, Levy said the club have significant financial issues to address and must be "realistic" about their situation considering the impact of lost revenue during the coronavirus pandemic. 

Levy claimed Spurs – who finished seventh in 2020-21 – have been hit harder than any other Premier League club due to debt service on their new stadium, which remains without a revenue-generating corporate name. 

"Our duty is to protect the club even though we want to win," Levy said. "We will spend but we are a self-sustaining club, we have to be sensible.

"Sometimes the fans think we should be spending but there have been circumstances when the coach hasn't wanted to spend on a player. We will make investments in the squad."

Whatever their revenue situation, Spurs seem destined for meaningful change over the off-season after finishing outside of the Premier League's top four and crashing out of the Europa League with a stunning last-16 collapse to Dinamo Zagreb. 

"We need to turn it around but we need to make sure this club is in a sound financial position in the years ahead," Levy said.

"We need success on the pitch now, my view is we have unfinished business."

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    Cristiano Ronaldo joined Juventus' pre-season training on Monday ahead of the 2021-22 Serie A campaign.

    The former Real Madrid forward had been on holiday after Portugal's Euro 2020 last-16 exit against Belgium but has now returned as Juventus prepare to attempt to regain their Serie A title, which Inter won last time out.

    Ronaldo, whose five goals and one assist powered him to the Golden Boot at Euro 2020, is set to become a free agent at the end of the following campaign and speculations persists surrounding his future.

    The Portugal captain is due to sit down with Massimiliano Allegri, who was in charge when he initially joined from Madrid in 2018, as the pair prepare for the upcoming season.

    Allegri, who won five straight Serie A titles and four league and cup doubles during his previous tenure, was reappointed following Andrea Pirlo's dismissal and will be grateful to be able to call upon the experience and quality of the 36-year-old.

    Last season, the five-time Ballon d'Or winner scored 29 times to win the Capocannoniere and added to his top-scorer awards from the Premier League and LaLiga with Manchester United and Madrid respectively.

     

    Since joining Allegri's men in 2018, only Bayern Munich's Robert Lewandowski (103) has outscored Ronaldo (73) in all competitions among players in Europe's top five leagues.

    Ronaldo's 83 goal involvements over that period rank fourth behind Lewandowski (121), Lionel Messi (106) and Kylian Mbappe (97).

    Yet, despite his Serie A dominance, Juventus could only muster a fourth-place finish in 2020-21 and questions have arisen as to how far Ronaldo's patience will stretch, given he is progressing towards the end of an illustrious career.

    Nevertheless, Ronaldo and Allegri prepare for their Serie A opener against Udinese on August 22 with a friendly against Monza on Saturday before a potential meeting with old foe Lionel Messi on August 8 at Camp Nou against Barcelona.

  • Van Dijk in contention to make return from injury against Hertha Berlin Van Dijk in contention to make return from injury against Hertha Berlin

    Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp has confirmed centre-back Virgil van Dijk is in contention to make his long-awaited return from injury in Thursday's pre-season friendly with Hertha Berlin.

    Van Dijk appeared just five times for the Reds in the Premier League last season and missed the Netherlands' Euro 2020 campaign due to an anterior cruciate ligament injury sustained against Everton in October.

    The 30-year-old was included as part of Liverpool's squad for their warm-weather training camp in Austria this month, but he was not used in last week's 1-0 win over Mainz and Klopp made clear he would not rush the defender back.

    However, the Liverpool boss is now ready to give Van Dijk some minutes at Tivoli Stadion, while fellow centre-back Joe Gomez – who has not featured since injuring his knee while on England duty last November – is also closing in on a return.

    "I hope, I am not sure, there is the opportunity Virgil could play a few minutes. He looks really good in training and maybe we can bring him in, but I need to have some final conversations. He looks ready and we'll see," Klopp told Liverpool's website.

    "If you see the games now as part of their rehab training, that makes sense. Joe is very close. There is no race between the two of them; they had different injuries and stuff like this, but he is very close.

    "If Virgil can play now 20 then probably Joey can in the game after. We will see. In training they both look really good.

    "I think from time to time there are some pictures of them from training sessions and everyone can see how good it looks, but there is no rush for us. 

    "It is not about they now need five pre-season games to be ready for the start or whatever. It is a long season and we prepare them after these very, very serious injuries for the rest of their careers and not for the first game of the season.

    "Losing a little bit of patience for them to return as a supporter or as a coach even is not bad, it just means they were pretty good and we want them to be back in the team."

    The imminent return of Van Dijk is a major boost for Liverpool, who sorely missed the Dutchman's leadership and defensive attributes last season, having played every match in their successful 2019-20 Premier League campaign.

    Only one defender in the league bettered his 191 aerial wins during that season, while he attempted and completed more passes than any of them. Trent Alexander-Arnold, meanwhile, was the sole defensive player to have more than his 3,624 touches.

    Liverpool won 81.4 per cent of the 43 Premier League matches Van Dijk played between August 2019 and his injury, but that fell to just 51.5 per cent between October and the end of the season when he was out of the team.

    Van Dijk is not the only player in line to return to the Liverpool side this week, with Andy Robertson and Diogo Jota set to feature against Bundesliga side Hertha.

    Robertson and Jota represented Scotland and Portugal respectively at Euro 2020, but both players linked up with their club colleagues last week and are now deemed ready to feature in pre-season action.

    "They will have minutes, that's the plan. They obviously trained completely normal all the time now and we try to involve them," Klopp said.

    Liverpool also have friendlies against Athletic Bilbao and Osasuna to come before beginning their Premier League campaign against Norwich City on August 14, so Klopp will continue to rotate his side during the upcoming matches.

    "Some of the players are ready for 60 minutes. It will be hard for them definitely, but it means then others play 30 minutes and stuff like this, or even maybe 20 minutes and these kind of things," he said.

    "Pre-season is about trying. It's a proper, proper challenge to make all these individuals to bring them in the best possible physical shape and make us more ready or stronger as a team. 

    "Unfortunately, football is not like cycling, so you don't miss it completely but the pedals and stuff like this just go away so quick that's incredible. So we have to work on that again, that's what we do.

    "Today is a really tough [double session]. I like it, the players probably sleep now already and that would be better because this afternoon it would be really hard."

  • Shaqiri hints at Lazio move as he wants 'new challenge' away from Liverpool Shaqiri hints at Lazio move as he wants 'new challenge' away from Liverpool

    Xherdan Shaqiri has revealed he is ready to leave Liverpool and hinted he would enjoy playing under Maurizio Sarri at Lazio, praising the Italian coach's attacking style of play.

    The Switzerland international joined the Reds in 2018 but has remained on the fringes of the first team throughout his time at Anfield.

    And after enjoying Euro 2020 success, in which he became Switzerland's outright top scorer at major tournaments, Shaqiri has suggested his time under Jurgen Klopp may be coming to an end.

    "Fortunately, football has helped me achieve many of my dreams," Shaqiri told Italian newspaper Corriere dello Sport. "I was lucky enough to play with great teams and to win many titles.

    "Who knows, maybe I could get something even with the Swiss national team. My contract [with] Liverpool expires in 2022, in 2018 I signed a four-year deal.

    "The important thing at this moment in my career is to be able to play regularly, but that hasn’t always been the case in the last three seasons.

    "This is why I told Liverpool that I feel ready for a new challenge. They accepted my wish and will seriously consider the offers that will come. They will not stop me."

    Opportunities have been limited for Shaqiri at Liverpool as he has made just 45 top-flight appearances across a three-year spell, during which he has scored seven goals for the 2019-20 Premier League champions.

    But the 29-year-old, whose 10 chances created at Euro 2020 were three more than Ricardo Rodriguez for the Swiss, proved his quality as he was one of Vladimir Petkovic's standout performers at the tournament.

    While Shaqiri explained there had been no direct contact from clubs yet, he made clear his desire to keep playing regularly and praised the development of Italian football.

    "I'm only 29 years old, I have played in some of the best leagues in Europe, and I would like to continue being a part of them," Shaqiri said. "I’m not yet thinking about the end of my career, it’s a future I imagine far away. We will see what destiny has in store for me.

    "I think it’s not just my opinion that football in Italy has developed substantially in recent years. The win at the European Championship is there to prove it, a well-deserved result.

    "Just take a look at how many Premier League players have moved to Serie A."

    The former Bayern Munich winger, who has been directly involved in 51 goals in 96 appearances for his country, has limited experience in Serie A, too, given he spent six months with reigning champions Inter in 2015.

    Asked whether a move to Italy and, more specifically, Lazio was an option, Shaqiri spoke glowingly of Sarri's qualities and complimented sporting director Igli Tare.

    "Igli Tare has been doing an excellent job at Lazio for years," Shaqiri commented. "If it's true that he has great respect for me, then I’m honoured.

    "I have been following Lazio for a long time, they are a top team. In general, due to my characteristics, I like to play more attacking football and Sarri practices it. It would be intriguing."

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