Mauricio Pochettino admits he does not know if Christian Eriksen will still be a Tottenham player by the end of the European transfer window.

The Premier League's transfer window may have shut, but clubs in Italy and Spain still have time to complete their business, with Eriksen linked to Juventus and both Madrid clubs.

The Denmark playmaker is out of contract at the end of the season and in June confirmed his eagerness to "try something new".

Tottenham have since signed two midfielders, Tanguy Ndombele and Giovani Lo Celso, to further cloud Eriksen's uncertain future.

"I don't know," Pochettino told reporters when asked whether the 27-year-old would stay in London.

"My point is to help all of the players, my job is to support them all until they maybe decide to take a different way in their career."

Eriksen was used as a substitute during last weekend's come-from-behind win over Aston Villa and will be considered for a starting XI berth against Manchester City on Saturday after impressing Pochettino during training.

The Tottenham boss denied Eriksen's contract situation would have any influence over his team selection at the Etihad Stadium.

"For me it is the same between a player who has one year on his contract and one who has five years," he said.

"The selection is not for the length of the contract, it is for the performance. 

"After five years you should know to avoid this question, because you know I will take the decision based only on performance and not personal situation with the club."

Argentina international Lo Celso could make his Spurs debut against City after skipping the Villa clash, but Dele Alli remains sidelined by a hamstring injury.

Son Heung-min is set to serve the final game of a three-match ban imposed towards the end of last term.

Tottenham will be without several players for their Premier League opener against Aston Villa but Mauricio Pochettino insists he is happy with his squad.

Dele Alli and new signing Ryan Sessegnon have been ruled out of the match with hamstring injuries, while defenders Juan Foyth and Ben Davies are sidelined by ankle and groin issues respectively.

Star forward Son Heung-min is set to serve the second of a three-game suspension, leaving manager Pochettino light on options at both ends of the pitch.

The Argentinian appeared frustrated last month when he claimed to have no influence over transfers as Tottenham took time to strengthen.

Versatile teenager Sessegnon and midfielder Giovani Lo Celso eventually arrived on deadline day, following club-record signing Tanguy Ndombele through the door.

"I am very happy," Pochettino told reporters on Friday. "I was happy with my squad and to add some more players, they can bring good energy and help us to achieve what we want.

"I was focused on trying to work hard to coach in the best way.

"I hoped the club would do the job that we want to try to bring players in and to try to be competitive with our opponents."

Pochettino admitted 19-year-old wing-back Sessegnon, who agreed a six-year deal, could be held back before entering the first-team equation.

"He doesn't have that much experience in the Premier League, maybe he is a little bit behind Lo Celso and Ndombele in age – they have more experience playing in a top level," he said.

"Maybe he needs three or four weeks out of the group, and we will see how he adapts.

"I think we have made signings for the future. The players will have opportunities to play. There is no pressure on him, or Lo Celso or Tanguy, they arrive from different leagues and they still need to adapt to the new philosophy and the new club.

"It is the responsibility of the senior players to help them, but it is important to give them time."

Romelu Lukaku has at last secured his move to Inter from Manchester United, having signed a five-year contract.

The Belgium international said the Nerazzurri were the only club he wanted to join after United accepted an €80million (£73m) deal.

Arsenal have finally managed to bolster their defence - and twice, too. Kieran Tierney moved from Celtic with around 11 minutes of the window to go, while David Luiz's transfer from Chelsea for a reported £8m was announced later.

Tottenham have completed the signing of Ryan Sessegnon from Fulham in a package that saw them pay around £25m and send Josh Onomah to the Championship club.

Spurs also managed to get Giovani Lo Celso over the line on a season-long loan with the option to buy, although talks for Paulo Dybala ended in frustration, the Argentina star instead staying at Juventus.

Watford broke their transfer record for Rennes winger Ismaila Sarr after landing Danny Welbeck on a free and tried to get Danny Rose in at left-back, but they were unable to get it done.

Spurs have allowed Cameron Carter-Vickers to leave, though, with the 21-year-old heading to Stoke City on loan.

Danny Drinkwater should get the chance for some first-team football - at least until January 6 - after Chelsea sent him to Burnley on a half-season loan.

Leicester City did not manage to replace Harry Maguire, but they did strike a late deal for Sampdoria midfielder Dennis Praet.

Manchester City could not resist signing one more full-back before the window closed - they splashed out a reported £11m (€12m) on Pedro Porro of Girona, who is expected to spend the season on loan with Real Valladolid.

The Premier League champions also brought in goalkeeper Scott Carson on loan from Derby County for the season.

One player who did not move was Wilfried Zaha, with Crystal Palace refusing to sanction a sale to Everton. It marked a positive day for Roy Hodgson's side, who signed James McCarthy and Victor Camarasa to bolster the midfield.

Instead, the Toffees turned to Arsenal's Alex Iwobi and are believed to have got the formalities of a deal concluded before the deadline - although they have not yet announced his arrival - while they have loaned Muhamed Besic to Sheffield United.

Aaron Mooy joined Brighton and Hove Albion on a season-long loan from Huddersfield Town, who got Trevoh Chalobah from Chelsea for 2019-20. West Brom secured Charlie Austin on a two-year deal and Grady Diangana on loan, and Leeds United snapped up Eddie Nketiah from Arsenal to boost their promotion push.

There was also a notable homecoming at Newcastle United, as free agent Andy Carroll finalised terms before the deadline, while Jacob Murphy left St James' Park for a loan move to Sheffield Wednesday.

Tottenham have reached an agreement for the loan signing of Giovani Lo Celso, with the club retaining an option to make his move from Real Betis permanent.

Lo Celso becomes Spurs' third acquisition of the window, following the signings of Tanguy Ndombele – who completed a £55million move in July – and Jack Clarke, who was immediately loaned back to Leeds United.

Fulham's versatile left-sided teenager Ryan Sessegnon is also thought to have completed his move to White Hart Lane for a reported £30m fee, although that transfer had yet to be officially confirmed.

"We are delighted to announce that we have reached agreement for the season-long loan signing of Giovani Lo Celso from Real Betis with an option to make the transfer permanent," Spurs said in a statement.

"The attacking midfielder will wear the number 18 shirt this season."

Lo Celso, 23, made the jump to European football in 2016 when he joined Paris Saint-Germain from Rosario Central in his native Argentina, making his debut in French football in April 2017.

He went on to feature 33 times in his first full Ligue 1 campaign and showed flashes of quality, but PSG sent him on loan to Betis last term and allowed them a purchase option in the deal.

Lo Celso enjoyed a stellar season in LaLiga, scoring nine goals and supplying four assists in 32 outings.

Betis unsurprisingly triggered their reported €22m option in April and signed Lo Celso to a four-year contract.

The transfer window slams shut in England on Thursday and Romelu Lukaku is finally set to get his move.

Linked to Inter and Juventus throughout the off-season, Manchester United striker Lukaku is poised to swap Old Trafford for San Siro in Milan.

Lukaku's exit could trigger United to make a late dash for his replacement.

 

TOP STORY – LUKAKU TO SWAP UNITED FOR INTER

After months of speculation, Lukaku will swap Manchester United for Serie A side Inter according to widespread reports.

Lukaku landed in Milan in the early hours of Thursday morning ahead of his €75million (£70m) move to Inter.

Inter will reportedly pay a €65m fixed fee and €10m in add-ons, with the deal also including a five per cent cut of any future sale.

 

ROUND-UP

- With Lukaku leaving Old Trafford, United are willing to pay the £81m (€88m) release clause to lure Inaki Williams from Athletic Bilbao, reports El Chiringuito TV. The Red Devils are also continuing to be linked to Juventus' Mario Mandzukic and former Tottenham striker Fernando Llorente, who is a free agent.

Tottenham are set to complete deadline-day deals for Real Betis midfielder Giovani Lo Celso and Fulham's Ryan Sessegnon, reports the Telegraph. Spurs are hopeful of clinching a transfer for Lo Celso at £55m (€59.7m), while Sessegnon could cost £20m.

- According to Sport, Real Madrid have offered €120m plus Luka Modric for wantaway Paris Saint-Germain star Neymar. Barcelona have been linked with their former forward but the LaLiga champions must raise funds before trying to re-sign the Brazil international. Barca could free up space by selling Philippe Coutinho, who has reportedly attracted interest from Premier League trio United, Tottenham and Arsenal.

Arsenal are set for a busy deadline day. The Sun reports the Gunners could land Chelsea defender David Luiz in a £12m deal, while Unai Emery's side have agreed a Scottish transfer record fee of £25m for Celtic left-back Kieran Tierney, according to the BBC.

- Tottenham have agreed to sign Juventus star Paulo Dybala but the player's image rights are holding up the deal, says the Independent. Dybala has also been linked to Paris Saint-Germain after turning down a move to Manchester United.

- Sportitalia says Wolves have agreed a £23m (€25m) fee to sign AC Milan midfielder Franck Kessie, who reportedly wants a wage increase. Wolves have already signed Patrick Cutrone from Milan.

- According to Sky Sports, Crystal Palace star Wilfried Zaha has handed in a transfer request as Everton look to sign the former Manchester United forward.

Mario Balotelli is on the verge of joining Brazilian side Flamengo until December 2021. That is according to La Gazzetta dello Sport and Sky Sport Italia. Balotelli is a free agent following his Marseille exit.

Nabil Fekir has left Lyon and joined Real Betis, potentially paving the way for Giovani Lo Celso's departure.

France international Fekir, 26, entered the final 12 months of his deal at the start of July and LaLiga club Betis swooped to complete a transfer that could cost them €29.75million, with the deal also including a potential 20 per cent sell-on bonus for Lyon.

His younger brother, Yassin Fekir, has also moved to the Benito Villamarin, and Lyon will receive 50 per cent of any future transfer fee for the 22-year-old.

The versatile attacker, who has hit 36 Ligue 1 goals in the last three years, almost moved to Liverpool in 2018 and was linked to Arsenal after declining to discuss new terms with Lyon, the club he captained for two seasons.

Fekir progressed through the Ligue 1 side's academy and helped France win the World Cup in Russia last year.

His arrival in Seville is expected to free up midfielder and fellow left-footer Lo Celso for a switch to Tottenham.

A full Argentina international, the 23-year-old is reportedly keen to work with compatriot Mauricio Pochettino in London.

Lo Celso joined Betis on loan from Paris Saint-Germain at the start of last season, before the move was made permanent in April.

Tottenham will reportedly have to spend around €75m to make him their third close-season signing after Lyon midfielder Tanguy Ndombele and Jack Clarke, who has returned to Leeds United on loan.

Maybe Juventus are not ready to give up on signing Manchester United star Paul Pogba just yet.

Pogba, 26, has been linked with a return to Turin and a move to Real Madrid as he looks for an Old Trafford exit.

But, just as it looked like Juve were struggling and Madrid was the midfielder's most likely destination, that may have changed.

 

TOP STORY – JUVE TO OFFER THREE PLAYERS IN MOVE FOR POGBA

Juventus could offer a fee plus three players in their move for Manchester United star Pogba, according to Corriere dello Sport.

Full-back Joao Cancelo, attacker Douglas Costa and midfielder Blaise Matuidi are the players mentioned for potential moves in the report.

Meanwhile, ESPN FC report Real Madrid president Florentino Perez has told coach Zinedine Zidane that it will be very difficult to sign Pogba this close season.

 

ROUND-UP

- Barcelona are still trying to find a way to bring Neymar back to Camp Nou from Paris Saint-Germain. According to Sky Germany, Barca are offering €100million plus two players, having given PSG a list of six that includes Philippe Coutinho, Ousmane Dembele, Ivan Rakitic, Nelson Semedo and Malcom. That is up from the earlier offer of €40m plus two players. According to Sport, Barca have made Coutinho and Rakitic priorities to be sold.

- After being linked to Bayern Munich, Callum Hudson-Odoi is set to re-sign with Chelsea. The Daily Mail report the 18-year-old England international will sign a five-year deal worth more than £100,000 per week to stay at Stamford Bridge.

- Giovani Lo Celso apparently wants to join Tottenham, but Spurs are unwilling to meet Real Betis' £60m (€66.8m) asking price, according to The Sun, who say Erik Lamela could be added into a deal. Danny Rose could also reportedly leave Spurs and Sky Sports say PSG are interested in the left-back.

- Arsenal have beaten their north London rivals to the signing of Saint-Etienne defender William Saliba, according to ESPN FC. Arsenal will complete the signing of Saliba for £26.9m (€30m) and loan him back to the Ligue 1 club despite late interest from Spurs, the report says.

- Another reported Arsenal target, Wilfried Zaha, has told Crystal Palace he wants to leave, according to The Sun. Arsenal have reportedly had a £40m bid for the attacker rejected.

- Bayern Munich are ready to meet Celta Vigo midfielder Brais Mendez's €25m release clause, according to Kicker. Mendez, 22, was handed a Spain debut late last year and scored six goals while providing seven assists for Celta in LaLiga in 2018-19.

Lyon boss Sylvinho confirmed Nabil Fekir is in negotiations for a transfer as rumours of the club captain's impending move to Real Betis gather momentum.

The France international, who turned 26 on Thursday, is expected to be announced as a Betis player soon, although a barrier to a reported €25million move could be Giovani Lo Celso's unresolved future.

Betis are believed to want Fekir as a direct, ready-made replacement for Tottenham target Lo Celso but the Seville-based outfit are also said to be demanding €75m for the Argentina midfielder.

That fee would require the usually frugal Spurs to shatter their club record expenditure for the second time in less than a month, having brought in Tanguy Ndombele from Lyon.

Ndombele's former Les Gones team-mate Fekir, at least, appears likely to be playing in Spain next season.

"We don't control the situation," Sylvinho told a news conference.

"He is negotiating his transfer, we don't know when it will be resolved but, for him and for the club, it would be best that it happens as quickly as possible.

"Of course we will miss him if he leaves. Nabil is a wonderful player, his technical level is exemplary, and it's beautiful to watch him play."

Betis, meanwhile, have signed Spain Under-20 goalkeeper Dani Martin from Sporting Gijon on a five-year deal.

Lautaro Martinez and Giovani Lo Celso were on target for Argentina as they downed Venezuela 2-0 to set up a mouth-watering Copa America semi-final against hosts Brazil.

Martinez's instinctive 10th-minute finish was his sixth goal in 10 international appearances and due reward as Lionel Scaloni's men made a rapid start.

They faded during the second half but Lo Celso capitalised upon an error from Venezuela goalkeeper Wuilker Farinez to settle matters at the Maracana - the stadium where Argentina lost the 2014 World Cup final to Germany.

It means Lionel Messi's ambitions of a first international title remain on track, with Argentina's bitterest rivals now standing in his way.

Martinez displayed his burgeoning understanding with Sergio Aguero in attack by playing in the Manchester City striker with a deft early pass – Farinez saving with his feet.

The set-piece deliveries of Messi and Leandro Paredes were causing Venezuela problems and, after an unmarked German Pezzella should have opened the scoring, Martinez duly did.

The Inter star converted a wonderful backheel from Aguero's miscued shot and quickfire bookings for captain Tomas Rincon and fellow midfielder Yangel Herrera soon afterwards suggested Venezuela were losing their composure.

Jhon Chancellor powered over a chance to equalise in the 40th minute, although Rafael Dudamel's side needed a brilliant clearance from Roberto Rosales to prevent Martinez from turning in a second after slick interplay between Messi and Marcos Acuna.

Martinez crashed against the back stanchion after Paredes unpicked Venezuela with a sumptuous 48th-minute pass.

Dudamel boldly sent on winger Yeferson Soteldo for centre-back Luis Del Pino and Argentina were forced to absorb sustained pressure for the first time in the contest.

Franco Armani saved sharply from Ronaldo Hernandez after Scaloni's decision to withdraw Martinez and Acuna raised eyebrows.

Farinez's work at the other end contrasted horribly when he spilled Aguero's 74th-minute shot to leave Lo Celso with a tap-in.

What does it mean: Scaloni's Argentina taking shape before showdown with old enemy

Scaloni's sparse coaching credentials were pored over as Argentina staggered through the opening matches of their campaign. This was easily his team's best performance of the tournament until his questionable second-half changes, with Paredes excelling in a midfield three where Acuna provided much-needed edge. La Albiceleste's attacking prowess has never been in doubt but a shaky backline enjoyed greater protection and Armani handled soundly throughout.

Martinez shows ruthless streak again

As he did in the vital group win over Qatar, Martinez gave Argentina an early lead – his supreme poaching instincts to the fore. More importantly, the 21-year-old appears entirely unhindered by the weight of expectation and failures that has sapped many of his compatriots over recent years.

Messi short of brilliant best

It was largely a game of personal frustration for Messi, who was largely well shackled by combative opponents. But his delight at Argentina's progress was clear and it bodes well that a team so shambolic of late were able to prevail with their talisman short of the A-game he will surely need against Brazil.

What's next: The Copa clash the world wants to see

As unlikely as it seemed when Argentina toyed with group-stage elimination, the two great rivals in South American football now have the chance to produce a clash for the ages in Belo Horizonte on Tuesday. Despite their shot-shy efforts against Paraguay, Brazil will be favourites. But are Argentina just about clicking at the right time?

Lionel Messi's presence for Argentina is a privilege not a nuisance, team-mate Giovani Lo Celso insisted ahead of the nation's decisive Copa America clash against Qatar.

Messi and Argentina are in danger of another Copa group-stage elimination as La Albiceleste prepare to face guests Qatar in Porto Alegre on Sunday.

After a 2-0 loss to Colombia and a 1-1 draw against Paraguay from two Group B matches, pressure is on Argentina to avoid a repeat of their 2016 exit, with captain Messi firmly in the spotlight.

Messi – the country's all-time leading scorer – is yet to win a senior trophy with Argentina following back-to-back Copa finals in 2015 and 2016 and a runners-up appearance at the 2014 World Cup.

When asked if Messi's presence is more a nuisance than an opportunity for young players as Argentina eye their first major title since 1993, Lo Celso hauled the 31-year-old superstar.

"I think not, I see the opposite," Lo Celso told reporters. "Having Leo as a partner and playing with him is a privilege. On the contrary, it always solves everything.

"In that sense, of course we try to take advantage of it. So having him in training, like in games is a privilege. These are things that do not happen every day, sharing trainings and matches with him.

"When I'm young, I try to observe, to learn a lot. Because it does not always happen and for me it's a privilege and try to learn as much as I can alongside it."

Argentina are bottom of Group B, below Qatar on goal difference, though a win and finishing third could be enough to tee Lionel Scaloni's side progress.

"From a mental and psychological perspective, we're in good shape because we have the possibility of progressing and if we win we're in the next round," Scaloni said.

Scaloni added: "These young people need support, it's too much pressure on them from life or death. It's a football match, we have to win and that's enough.

"I believe they need this support, we know what is happening, but they are young people who need this support and positive thinking to give the best and to make the climate the best possible."

Scaloni tinkered with his line-up against Paraguay – dropping Sergio Aguero and Angel Di Maria to the bench – and he could make more changes for the Qatar clash.

Asked if Paulo Dybala could play alongside Messi given their similarities, Scaloni responded: "They can play together, they're two top-level players and they need to work together, which they haven't done much, but with compromise they could do it."

Paul Pogba finally confirmed his desire to leave Manchester United for a "new challenge" on Sunday, a revelation that will likely split the club's supporters.

While few would doubt Pogba's ability, the last three seasons since his return from Juventus have been anything but smooth.

Pogba has struggled for consistency in a United team that has so often been crying out for his creativity, while the soap opera around his turbulent relationship with Jose Mourinho before the Portuguese manager's December sacking became a distracting sideshow.

Although Pogba's form did initially improve after Mourinho left, the dominant performances soon dried up again – a haul of 13 goals (seven from the spot) and nine assists in the Premier League exaggerating his influence.

Sunday's comments about desiring a move will not have surprised many given the speculation surrounding him, but offloading Pogba might prove a blessing in disguise for a United side in need of a rebuild. We have identified some potential replacements.

 

Sean Longstaff - Newcastle United

Magpies midfielder Longstaff has only made nine Premier League appearances, but he impressed to such a degree he is being linked with a £25million move to United. Poised in possession with a maturity that belies his 21 years, Longstaff looks to have a very bright future but it would be asking a lot of him to replace one of the best midfielders in the world.

Tanguy Ndombele - Lyon

Ndombele is reportedly a target for Tottenham, who he has described as "a great team, a great club", though he could be a good fit at Old Trafford too. The France midfielder impressed in the Champions League last term but Lyon's outspoken president Jean-Michel Aulas is known among the hardest negotiators in the game. The Ligue 1 side are said to be demanding £70m for the 22-year-old.

Bruno Fernandes - Sporting CP

Nations League winner Fernandes is expected to leave Sporting this year, but United would surely face a battle for his signature, as Manchester City, Inter, Tottenham, Liverpool and Juventus are all said to be keen. Fernandes hit 20 league goals for Sporting, who missed out on Champions League qualification and will likely have to cash in on the versatile 24-year-old as a result. He is reportedly valued at £70m. 

Youri Tielemans - Monaco

Tielemans impressed on loan at Leicester City last term and, although the Foxes may wish to do a deal with Monaco to sign him permanently, they could be blown out of the water by offers from richer sides. Tielemans, said to be valued at £40m by the Ligue 1 club, has been linked with United, but speculation has also suggested they have moved on to other targets.

Adrien Rabiot - PSG

A risk-reward signing if ever there was one, Rabiot is available on a free transfer as his contract is expiring this year at Paris Saint-Germain. But the 24-year-old has a reputation as a difficult character, having been shunted aside at PSG over a contract dispute, while he rejected the invitation to be on the standby list for Didier Deschamps' France squad at the 2018 World Cup. The undoubtedly talented Rabiot is said to be in huge demand, with Juventus rumoured to be interested in a player Gianluigi Buffon has described as a combination of Pogba, Arturo Vidal and Claudio Marchisio.

Giovani Lo Celso - Real Betis 

Versatility makes Giovani Lo Celso an appealing option, with the Argentina midfielder able to operate in front of defence or in a more attacking role. He scored nine LaLiga goals for Real Betis last season and the club can expect to make a significant profit on a player they signed from PSG for €25m only two months ago. Should Lo Celso impress at the Copa America, demand in a player linked with Tottenham could increase.

Many of the world's best players will be on show in Brazil over the next few weeks for the 2019 edition of the Copa America, but there will also be some talents hoping to use the tournament as a springboard.

For every Lionel Messi, Sergio Aguero, Luis Suarez and James Rodriguez there will be a less familiar name attempting to establish himself on the international stage, potentially earning a big move.

The tournament sees the traditional CONMEBOL nations take part, plus guests Qatar and Japan, the latter of whom have named a squad mostly made up of players likely to feature in next year's Olympics.

With the Copa America starting on Friday, we have spoken to the experts to identify one potential breakout star to watch for each nation.

 

GROUP A

Brazil - David Neres (Ajax)

Tom Webber (Brazilian football expert): Following a stellar season with Champions League semi-finalists Ajax, Neres has a great chance to make his mark on the international stage. The 22-year-old winger is expected to be handed a starting role following Neymar's injury-enforced withdrawal, despite only making his first start in the 7-0 demolition of Honduras on June 9. Neres scored 12 goals and supplied 11 assists in all competitions for Ajax in 2018-19 and appears primed to make a mark on the Copa America, with plenty of interested parties likely to be keeping a close eye on him.

Bolivia - Edwin Saavedra (Bolivar)

Andres Mendez Dott (Bolivian football expert): Saavedra is a direct and explosive midfielder who started his career as right-back but now plays further forward. At the age of 23, he is closing in on 200 appearances for Bolivar and had a short spell at Brazilian side Goias. Humble off the pitch, he is rather more audacious on it, as he is not afraid to shoot from distance or take on defenders. Coach Eduardo Villegas is still undecided about his starting midfield, but we can expect Saaverdra to be a part of it. There are some rumours he might be deployed on the left, but either way, if he gets the ball and some space, you can count on him testing Dani Alves or Filipe Luis against Brazil. The Copa will be very challenging for Bolivia, but Saavedra could make his mark.

Peru - Renato Tapia (Willem II, on loan from Feyenoord)

Diego Montalvan (Peruvian sports journalist): If there's one player to watch in the Peru side, it's 23-year-old Renato Tapia, coming off arguably his best season in Europe with Willem II. The tournament will also enable him to put himself in the shop window, as he is reportedly looking for a transfer away from parent club Feyenoord. A central midfielder who can also fill in defensively, for Peru Tapia generally plays the role of destroyer to Yoshimar Yotun's creator, but if given the freedom to move forward he can create and even chip in with a few 'golazos'. 'El capitan del futuro', as he is called by many in Peru, is already an undisputed starter, but if he wants to stay in Europe he will have a point to prove in Brazil.

Venezuela - Wuilker Farinez (Millonarios)

Daniel Alvarez Montes (Venezuelan sports journalist): Farinez was part of the Venezuela squad in Chile for the 2015 Copa America when he was just 17. Many criticised then-coach Noel Sanvicente for that decision, knowing Farinez was not going to play. However, Sanvicente insisted it was a great opportunity for Farinez to grow. Four years later, we can say that decision was arguably his best one while in charge of La Vinotinto. Farinez played a significant role for Venezuela's youth sides after that, making a huge impact in tournaments at several age levels. Currently playing for Millonarios in Colombia, the Copa America will be a massive opportunity for him to show the world what he is capable of. Europe could be his next stop, with Benfica front-runners to acquire him.

GROUP B

Argentina - Giovani Lo Celso (Real Betis)

Peter Coates (Buenos Aires-based football writer): Finding a balance in midfield, linking defence to attack and crucially providing a partner for Lionel Messi have been issues for Argentina for several years. A new-look squad for the Copa America sees much of that responsibility fall on the shoulders of Lo Celso and coach Lionel Scaloni has already spoken highly of the 23-year-old, hoping the Real Betis playmaker and the world's best player can reproduce a relationship he has already witnessed on the training field. Something akin to an old-fashioned 'enganche' of yesteryear, Lo Celso will operate in the spaces behind the striker and allow Messi to roam off the right with his usual menace. The Rosario Central product's eye for a pass, ability to work in tight spaces and sweet left foot could make him the ideal partner for Messi and crucial to La Albiceleste's success.

 

Paraguay - Matias Rojas (Defensa y Justicia)

Roberto Rojas (Paraguayan journalist): Rojas is expected to be La Albirroja's breakout player in this Copa America. A product of the esteemed Cerro Porteno academy, the 23-year-old followed the path of various Paraguayans looking to get their first break abroad by heading to Argentina, where he was initially loaned to Lanus in 2017, before joining modest Defensa y Justicia the following year. He became a key player for Sebastian Beccacece's team, who secured an historic second-place finish in the 2018-19 Superliga. A central midfielder known for his passing and dangerous set-pieces, Rojas has already signed a contract to join Racing Club, who finished just ahead of Defensa y Justicia. Paraguay manager Eduardo Berizzo is likely to play Rojas in a 4-3-3 formation, where he will be expected to combine with Newcastle United's Miguel Almiron as the team's two-man creative hub.

Qatar - Almoez Ali (Al-Duhail)

Martin Lowe (Asian football expert): Ali went from relative obscurity to the name on everyone's lips at the Asian Cup, finishing as the highest-scoring player and breaking Ali Daei's record with nine goals from seven matches as Qatar claimed a surprise success. A languid target man with strength and the eye for a goal, he threatens from even the trickiest situations and cemented his MVP status at the Asian Cup with an outrageous bicycle kick in the final. Ali – born in Sudan – remains a contentious case amid questions over his eligibility, but he has been allowed to continue representing Qatar. He blossomed in a number of international youth teams, tending to fill his boots whenever he got the opportunity. His all-round game has improved, having been shifted out wide for his club side Al-Duhail, but he is mostly used as a static focal point with more creative types such as Akram Afif and Hassan Al-Haydos playing off him.

Colombia - Luis Diaz (Junior)

Simon Edwards (South American football writer): Diaz is a hugely exciting winger who will be tasked with bringing fresh impetus to Colombia off the bench. He was spotted by Carlos Valderrama and 'El Pibe' recommended Junior snap him up. He has become a star of Colombian league football, with offers received from River Plate and Cardiff City. Diaz plays with the fearless enthusiasm and the joy of a child, but has also complimented his unpredictable, weaving dribbles with goals and improved defensive discipline. He is now a complete attacking midfielder who tracks back and provides a threat. Diaz draws defenders but has the skill and invention to craft a solution. 'Luchito' will take risks and lose possession occasionally, but he also has the quality, pace and confidence to have a huge impact for this Colombia side.

GROUP C

Chile - Erick Pulgar (Bologna)

Adam Brandon (Chile-based South American football writer): Erick Pulgar will probably be given a chance to shine in central midfield in the Copa America after his stellar season with Bologna in Italy. The 25-year-old is good on the ball, passes well and can play a more defensive role as well. He also boasts an excellent penalty record, which could come in handy for Chile again in this Copa America, given how the 2015 and 2016 finals were won.

Japan - Takefusa Kubo (FC Tokyo)

Stuart Smith (Japan-based football writer): Japanese fans will line up to tell you 18-year-old attacker Takefusa Kubo, currently with FC Tokyo but almost certainly headed to a big European club very soon, is the Samurai Blue's player to watch. Small, fleet-footed and not afraid to try tricks, he has shown a maturity beyond his years this season in the J.League. He spent his formative years at Barcelona's famed La Masia, and his technical ability is a testament to that period. Excellent with both feet, extremely skilful and able to spot and drift into spaces that other players cannot, Kubo has the potential to develop into an outstanding player. Coach Hajime Moriyasu will try to manage expectations, but it will be difficult to keep such a talented player off the pitch for too long.

Ecuador - Jhegson Sebastian Mendez (Orlando City)

Xavier Zavala (Ecuadorian football analyst): Coach Hernan Dario Gomez will implement a defensive approach that will appeal to Mendez's greatest strengths, which are his tackling efficiency and relentless motor. The 22-year-old midfielder has shown he is capable of man marking without being rash or overly aggressive and his position with Ecuador will be similar to at Orlando City, where he plays a deep-lying role. The challenge he has is dislodging the Liga de Quito partnership of Jefferson Orejuela and Jefferson Intriago, but given the stamina the system used by 'El Bolillo' requires, rotation is to be expected. Once Mendez gets his chance, he will be in a position to prove his worth.

Uruguay - Nahitan Nandez (Boca Juniors)

Nick Dorrington (freelance South American football journalist): Nandez is an all-action midfielder who has become a regular for Uruguay over the last year or so, usually playing off the right-hand side. A boundlessly energetic little terrier of a player, he snaps away at the heels of opponents, runs up and down and back again, and gets the ball forward quickly. He is also capable of moments of genuine quality, such as the ball he played through to release Dario Benedetto for Boca Juniors' goal in their Copa Libertadores final defeat to River Plate in December. Linked with a move to Europe, the Copa America could be a useful shop window for the 23-year-old.

Manchester United know what they want for star midfielder Paul Pogba, according to reports.

Pogba, 26, has been heavily linked with a move away from Old Trafford, with Real Madrid reported to be his most likely destination.

With Zinedine Zidane starting a rebuild at the Santiago Bernabeu – Eden Hazard, Luka Jovic and Ferland Mendy have all just been signed – perhaps Pogba could be next.

But, unsurprisingly, there will be work to do between United and Madrid to make the move happen.

 

TOP STORY – UNITED SET POGBA PRICE

Manchester United want at least £150million for Pogba, according to the Mirror.

That would top the then-world record £89m United paid to bring Pogba back to Old Trafford from Juventus in 2016, an indicator of the state of the market rather than the France international's performances.

However, Eduardo Inda reports Real Madrid have offered €120m (around £107m) plus bonuses, leaving a rather big gap between the teams' valuations.

 

ROUND-UP

- Atletico Madrid's chief executive claimed on Wednesday he has known since March that Antoine Griezmann will join Barcelona. But it seems Manchester United still have hope, The Sun reporting the Premier League giants are ready to offer £95m for the forward.

- While Manchester United are looking to strengthen their attack, perhaps they have little interest in Real Madrid attacker Gareth Bale. ESPN report that United have rejected the chance to talk to Madrid about the possibility of signing the Wales international.

- Benfica teenager Joao Felix is sought-after. Goal report that Atletico Madrid also want the attacker, hoping to convince the Portugal international he will get more first-team chances with them than possibly Manchester City. According to Estadio Deportivo, Atletico have also put in a bid – close to €55m – for reported Tottenham target and Real Betis midfielder Giovani Lo Celso.

- Bayern Munich may want Manchester City attacker Leroy Sane, but they have other options. Bild report the Bundesliga champions will target Yannick Carrasco, who is at Dalian Yifang but wants a return to Europe, if they cannot land Sane.

- Barcelona are seemingly ready to head into next season with Ernesto Valverde as coach. Sport report that Valverde met with president Josep Maria Bartomeu on Tuesday to discuss possible transfers.

- Dejan Lovren has fallen down the pecking order at Liverpool, but the European champions will not let the defender go cheaply. Lovren is linked to AC Milan and the Mirror report Liverpool want around £25m for the Croatia international.

One of the most in-demand players this off-season, Matthijs de Ligt's future could be about to come clearer.

A reported target for Barcelona, Manchester United and Juventus, Paris Saint-Germain are right in the mix to lure the Ajax captain to the French capital.

It is set to be a busy couple of weeks for agent Mino Raiola…

 

TOP STORY – PSG JUMP AHEAD IN DE LIGT RACE

According to Gianluca Di Marzio, Ligue 1 holders Paris Saint-Germain are in "advanced talks" for Matthijs de Ligt's signature.

After helping Netherlands reach the Nations League final, De Ligt is believed to be close to swapping Ajax for Paris - where PSG are craving Champions League success.

The report claims a deal could be finalised "shortly" after the looming return of director Leonardo from AC Milan, with LaLiga champions Barcelona the only other team in the mix.

 

ROUND-UP

- Premier League champions Manchester City and their rivals Manchester United could be pipped to the signing of Benfica sensation Joao Felix by Atletico Madrid, according to The Mirror.

- Tuttosport's front page features Mauro Icardi and fellow Argentine star Paulo Dybala. The story claims Juventus are the only team capable of signing Icardi from Serie A rivals Inter following Antonio Conte's arrival, with Dybala reportedly included in the potential deal.

- According to Tuttomercatoweb, Inter winger Ivan Perisic is a target for Premier League side Leicester City. The 30-year-old Croatia international has also been linked to Arsenal and Manchester United.

Napoli are preparing a €50million bid for PSV star Hirving Lozano, La Gazzetta dello Sport reports. The Italian side, who have also been linked to Real Madrid outcast James Rodriguez following a two-year loan spell at Bayern Munich, tracked the Mexico international throughout the 2018-19 campaign.

Tottenham are set to make a new offer for Real Betis and Argentina star Giovani Lo Celso, according to The Mirror. Spurs – who are looking to invest following an unexpected Champions League final berth – reportedly had a £53m bid knocked back for the midfielder.

- According to The Sun, Manchester United target Aaron Wan-Bissaka has asked Crystal Palace to grant him a move to the Red Devils. United – who are also reportedly eyeing Leicester City centre-back Harry Maguire – have already had an offer turned down. Moving further up the field and Sport claims Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side have made contact with Barcelona midfielder Ivan Rakitic following their sixth-place finish in the Premier League.

Juventus are closing in on Massimiliano Allegri's successor.

According to the Guardian, Chelsea boss Maurizio Sarri is poised to sign a contract with the Serie A champions.

Former Napoli head coach Sarri has been linked with a return to Italy after just one season in charge at Stamford Bridge.

 

TOP STORY – TURIN BECKONS FOR SARRI

Look away Napoli fans… Sarri is set to sign a three-year contract to become Juventus coach.

Sarri spent three years in charge of Italian rivals Napoli before replacing Antonio Conte at Chelsea in 2018-19.

However, the lure of Juve and a return to Italy has seemingly proved too strong for Sarri after Europa League success with Chelsea.

The 60-year-old has reportedly been granted a release and is free to leave the Premier League.

 

ROUND-UP

- With the future of Ajax captain and in-demand centre-back Matthijs de Ligt up in the air amid links to Barcelona and Paris Saint-Germain, Manchester United have reportedly turned to Napoli star Kalidou Koulibaly. One of their initial defensive targets as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer looks to bolster United's defence, Corriere dello Sport claim the Red Devils have offered €95million for the Senegal international.

- The end is near for Mauro Icardi at Inter. Despite wanting to remain in Milan, where he was stripped of the captaincy by former boss Luciano Spalletti in 2018-19, Icardi is not in Antonio Conte's plans, according to Sky Sport Italia. Inter are believed to be trying to force the Argentina striker to leave as they near a €13m deal for Roma's Edin Dzeko, a fee reported by Calciomercato.com. Radja Nainggolan could also be on the chopping block, with SportItalia claiming the Belgian midfielder could return to Roma after just one season.

- Eden Hazard in at Real Madrid and Paul Pogba to follow? According to the Mirror, Zinedine Zidane is ready to offer Gareth Bale to Manchester United to persuade the Premier League side to sell Pogba to the Spanish giants.

- Tottenham are preparing for a busy transfer window as they try to keep hold of manager Mauricio Pochettino following a remarkable run to the Champions League final. And if they are unable to sign Celta Vigo star Giovani Lo Celso, the Mirror reports Spurs could turn to Sporting CP sensation Bruno Fernandes.

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