Trent Alexander-Arnold received praise to go with his recall from Gareth Southgate as the England boss hedged his bets for Euro 2020 by naming a 33-man provisional squad.

The Liverpool right-back could yet face exclusion agony when Southgate trims his list to 26 next week, but for now Alexander-Arnold is back in the England picture.

Once seen as a player who would hold down the right full-back berth for England for years to come, the 22-year-old was dramatically dropped from Southgate's squad in March, with the head coach questioning his recent level of performance at club level.

Atletico Madrid's Kieran Trippier and Manchester City's Kyle Walker – both title winners with their clubs this season – look to be ahead of Alexander-Arnold, who may be battling Chelsea's Reece James for a place in the final group.

After a late-season surge to a Champions League place by Liverpool, helped by an improved Alexander-Arnold, the England head coach was left with a quandary.

"I could easily get drawn into individuals who might be in the 26, get myself in a mess," said Southgate in a news conference following his squad announcement.

"People feel I have an obsession with right-backs. I see four good footballers. Trippier can play right-back or left-back, Trent can play right-back, wing-back. I think he can play in midfield.

"In the last few days I've seen Reece James play right in a three, at wing-back, in midfield. We're going to a tournament and those sorts of flexible players that can fulfill different roles but are good footballers are going to be hugely important for us.

"We don't know how it will play out with injuries, what our best systems will be with people available, we've got too many question marks.

"That will all become far clearer. We know what we'd like to do, we've got good contingencies in place."

Southgate selected an expanded squad because of injury worries over the likes of Harry Maguire and Jordan Henderson, the captains of Manchester United and Liverpool. By including Alexander-Arnold, Southgate at least delays any criticism over his exclusion, and it may be that a space opens up for the attack-minded defender.

Alexander-Arnold is a slightly different flavour of defender to Southgate's other options, as a player who had 13 assists in Liverpool's 2019-20 title-winning campaign and seven in the league season just ended.

James has just two Premier League assists in 2020-21 and Walker only one, with the City defender creating just eight chances compared to the 77 set up by Alexander-Arnold. Trippier assisted on six goals in LaLiga, however.

 

James, Walker and Trippier are all well ahead of Alexander-Arnold in terms of dribble and tackle success rates, and Southgate can be expected to be aware of such factors.

Alexander-Arnold's 2020-21 league dribble success rate stood at just 47.06 per cent, with Walker posting 53.33 per cent, James 65.38 per cent and Trippier 76 per cent.

In tackling success, Alexander-Arnold's 58.93 per cent success rate was beaten by his three right-back rivals, who each scored at least 63 per cent, led by 65.52 per cent by Walker.

The Liverpool man's attempted dribbles may at times have been high-tariff manoeuvres, given he regularly plays high up the field, but Alexander-Arnold loses possession at a rate that could give England problems. He gave up the ball 25.49 times on average per 90 minutes in 2020-21 league action, compared to 14.83 by James, 16.35 by Trippier and a mere 13.32 by Walker.

As Southgate toys with that big call, he must also decide whether Mason Greenwood, United's 19-year-old forward, makes the cut.

Greenwood scored just seven Premier League goals at one every 261 minutes in 2020-21 but, after a strong end to the campaign, he has again caught the eye of England's manager, who sent him home along with Phil Foden at the start of the season after a breach of COVID-19 protocol while on national team duty in Iceland.

"In terms of the past it is absolutely the past," Southgate said. "Young people make mistakes, we move on from it, the same with Phil [Foden].

"He's an absolutely outstanding finisher, no question about that."

Neymar was touched by the sight of Luis Suarez in tears after helping Atletico Madrid clinch the LaLiga title.

Their Barcelona bond remains, even though both have left Camp Nou, where alongside Lionel Messi they formed the famous 'MSN' strike trio.

On Sunday, Neymar was hoping to help Paris Saint-Germain win the Ligue 1 title, as they looked to overhaul leaders Lille on the final day.

But the Brazilian was also caught up in the drama of Saturday's finale to the Spanish LaLiga season, as Atletico pipped Real Madrid to glory.

Suarez, who made a painful exit from Barcelona last September, scored 21 goals in 32 league games as Atletico broke up the familiar Madrid-Barcelona duopoly.

His goals were worth a total of 22 points to Atleti, more than any other player in LaLiga this season.

The 33-year-old let his emotions flow after scoring the decisive goal in the final-day 2-1 win over Real Valladolid, breaking down at full-time while on a video call to his family.

It was that moment that tugged at the heartstrings of Neymar, who alongside a picture of the weeping striker wrote a message on his Instagram story: "Well done @luissuarez. I'm happy for you brother. You deserve it. You're a star."

England international Kieran Trippier revelled in winning the championship in just his second year in LaLiga.

Trippier wrote on Instagram: "CAMPEONESSSS! Wow, what a feeling! To win @laliga with this incredible group of players is a dream come true. Thank you to everyone who has supported me this year. Vamos!!"

Jurgen Klopp "didn't understand" Gareth Southgate's decision to leave Trent Alexander-Arnold out of his England squad, claiming the Liverpool right-back's form "cannot be the reason".

Alexander-Arnold was a surprise omission from Southgate's group for last month's World Cup qualifiers against San Marino, Albania and Poland.

The 22-year-old has been a Liverpool regular in recent seasons but has earned only 12 England caps to date.

Kieran Trippier was preferred at wing-back at the 2018 World Cup, with Kyle Walker playing inside in a three-man defence.

The Manchester City defender and Reece James shared starting duties in March, while Trippier was also in the squad, with right-back a clear position of strength for the Three Lions.

As well as Alexander-Arnold and Southgate's current preferred trio, England could call upon Aaron Wan-Bissaka at Manchester United or England Under-21 pair Tariq Lamptey and Max Aarons.

But Klopp believes his player deserves to be at the forefront of the conversation.

"I was surprised when he didn't get a call-up," the Reds manager said.

"I'm a manager myself, I make decisions every day, every weekend, every midweek about team selections, squad selections. You always make decisions other people don't understand.

"I respect that Gareth makes his own decisions, of course, obviously, but I didn't understand it."

Alexander-Arnold is widely accepted to be enduring a more difficult campaign after playing a starring role in Liverpool's Champions League and Premier League successes in the previous two seasons.

The defender provided 15 assists in each of the 2018-19 and 2019-20 campaigns but has supplied just five this term.

He has created a relatively meagre 59 chances, down from 109 last season, his per-90-minutes average dropping from 2.46 to 1.87. His crossing accuracy has steadily declined over the past three years, too, to stand at 17.9 per cent in 2020-21.

But Alexander-Arnold still leads James (39), Trippier (29), Wan-Bissaka (26) and Walker (14) in key passes, while only the Atletico Madrid man has more assists (six).

On the other hand, Walker's defensive statistics are more impressive, having been dribbled past on just 12 occasions – Alexander-Arnold is at 22 – while not committing a single error leading to a shot.

Klopp continued: "Trent Alexander-Arnold was in the last two years at least the stand-out right back in world football at an unbelievably young age.

"I have no problems when my players get criticism – from me, from other people if they are not performing – but that's the truth.

"Now he started the season with COVID-19 early on, which is not good. As you can imagine, it took him a while to get in the season.

"From the moment he was in the season, he was one of our most consistent players, a standout player – Robbo [Andy Robertson] the same, who played at this high level.

"That cannot be the reason that he was not in the squad.

"If you compare Lionel Messi every year with his best season ever, you'd say he's not playing like he performed in 2005 and 2006, but he's still the world's best player."

Alexander-Arnold was left out due to England's style of play, Klopp theorised, and his club boss still felt he should have been included.

"If you have to play against a deep defending side, for sure, the crosses and the passes of Trent, I don't know anyone who can do them like him," Klopp said.

However, Alexander-Arnold's crossing accuracy ranks third among Southgate's five senior options and Walker, Trippier and James combined to find team-mates with a solid four of their 11 deliveries for England in March.

But frustrations with Southgate's selection at least created the opportunity for Klopp to work with Alexander-Arnold in training ahead of the run-in.

"Can he get the benefit? Of course," Klopp said. "He was not with the national team, so he had time to train, trained at an extremely high level.

"You could see he showed a reaction. There was no need, but he was really in the session; that was good. He really enjoyed the session.

"He's a very ambitious boy, so I'm sure he wants to be in the England squad. I know he wants to be, and he will try everything to get there again.

"If Trent Alexander-Arnold is not in the squad of England, England must have an extremely good squad. I'll say it like this. That's the situation.

"I respect the decision, of course I did, but I didn't understand it."

Gareth Southgate is set to bring up 50 games in charge when England start their qualifying campaign for the 2022 World Cup.

San Marino are the visitors to Wembley Stadium for the milestone match, with Southgate the seventh to make it to a half-century at the helm for England.

His record so far is impressive: 29 wins, 10 draws and 10 defeats. He has also introduced some notable names to international football, many of which will form the backbone for the Three Lions in this year's delayed Euro 2020 tournament. 

In total, 42 players have made their senior debuts under the current boss. Plenty have made an impact, though some have fallen by the wayside since getting a taste of the senior team. 

HITS 

Jesse Lingard 

Lingard is the only member of the current England squad to have made his debut in Southgate's first match in charge, a 2-0 win over Malta in October 2016. The 28-year-old was a key member of the 2018 World Cup squad but has not featured for his country since the Nations League Finals nearly two years ago, having struggled for minutes at Manchester United. 

However, a January loan move to West Ham has paid off. No player has been involved in more goals – Lingard has scored five while also providing two assists – since his debut for the Hammers in February. Southgate – who advised the player to remain in the Premier League – has duly taken note, handing him a recall. 

Harry Maguire 

Maguire made his first England appearance against Lithuania in October 2017, when he was playing for Leicester City. The centre-back quickly established himself in Southgate's side for the World Cup semi-final run, while he has continued to be a mainstay since for the national side.  

Indeed, the Manchester United defender has missed just 14 possible outings for club and country since that maiden outing, starting 28 out of England's 30 matches. 

Kieran Trippier 

Paris was the setting for Trippier's bow, the full-back handed a chance in a 3-2 friendly defeat against France that saw him start alongside then-Tottenham team-mates Eric Dier, Dele Alli and Harry Kane. 

Now playing his club football in Spain with Atletico Madrid, the 30-year-old continues to be a key attacking outlet for Southgate's teams. His total of 55 chances created since June 2017 is comfortably the highest for England, with striker Kane second on the list with 37. 

Jordan Pickford 

No player has both played and started more games for England under Southgate than Pickford, whose debut came in November 2017.  With 30 appearances, he sits one ahead of Maguire.

The Everton goalkeeper will not be involved as his manager celebrates his 50th match at the helm, though, as an abdominal muscle injury sees him missing for March's World Cup qualifiers. His absence also offers some of his rivals for the starting job an opportunity to stake their claim to be considered number one, with Pickford's form having been somewhat unconvincing for a while.

Declan Rice 

Rice's introduction to action for England came via a substitute appearance during a 5-0 win over the Czech Republic two years ago, replacing Alli just after the hour mark. 

The midfielder started all six of the Nations League qualifiers in 2020-21, including scoring his first international goal in a 4-0 triumph over Iceland. As for his club career, only Rio Ferdinand and Joe Cole played more minutes in the Premier League for West Ham than Rice before the age of 22.


MISSES 

Nathaniel Chalobah 

Having represented England through the youth levels from under-16s upwards, Chalobah has so far played one solitary minute for the senior team, with his late, late opportunity coming against Spain in October 2018.  

Since then, the former Chelsea midfielder has started just 42 league games for Watford. This season he is plying his trade in the Championship, contributing three goals and an assist as the Hornets aim for an immediate return to the top flight. 

Dominic Solanke 

Solanke was part of the England squad that won the 2014 European Under-17 Championship, including scoring in a final against the Netherlands that was eventually settled by a penalty shoot-out. 

His senior debut came against Brazil in November 2017, but he has not been involved since. The striker signed for Bournemouth in January 2019 but failed to score in his first 38 Premier League appearances for the club, a barren run finally ended with a brace against Leicester in July 2020. He has been far more prolific in the Championship, getting 11 goals.

Lewis Cook 

Cook had success with England at youth level, captaining the squad that went all the way at the Under-20 World Cup. Solanke was also involved in that tournament, along with full internationals Dominic Calvert-Lewin, Ainsley Maitland-Niles, Dean Henderson - who was not first choice in goal - and Fikayo Tomori. 

The midfielder's maiden appearance for the senior side earned his grandfather a tidy windfall through a winning bet, but that outing as a substitute against Italy at Wembley remains his only cap. Since then, he has started 58 games for Bournemouth, scoring once. 

Jack Cork 

Another to be handed a late cameo by Southgate, Cork featured for all of four minutes in a friendly with Germany in November 2017. A young line-up that included new faces Pickford and Ruben Loftus-Cheek managed a 0-0 draw at Wembley. 

The midfielder – who was part of the Great Britain squad coached by Stuart Pearce at the 2012 Olympic Games in London – was a regular at Burnley before injuries hampered him in the current season, restricting him to just nine league outings for Sean Dyche's team in the 2020-21 campaign. 

Lewis Dunk 

Dunk has helped Brighton and Hove Albion rise from League One to the Premier League, with his performances earning him an England opportunity against the United States in November 2018. He started in a 3-0 win that saw Wayne Rooney make his 120th and final appearance for the Three Lions. 

The centre-back has not featured since, however, despite remaining a mainstay for his club. Since August 2018, Liverpool's Virgil van Dijk (10) is the only defender to have scored more Premier League goals than Dunk's impressive total of nine.  

Atletico Madrid defender Kieran Tripper must serve the rest of his 10-week ban after his appeal was dismissed by FIFA.

The defender was issued a suspension and a fine of £70,000 on December 23 after England's Football Association found him guilty of breaking rules related to betting.

Trippier was charged with seven alleged breaches of rule E8(1)(b), four of which were proven.

The regulation states: "Where a participant provides to any other person any information relating to football which the participant has obtained by virtue of his or her position within the game and which is not publicly available at that time, the participant shall be in breach of this rule where any of that information is used by that other person for, or in relation to, betting."

Trippier denied the charges and his ban was put on hold while FIFA's Appeal Committee considered his case.

However, in a statement on Monday, football's governing body said: "The FIFA Appeal Committee has dismissed the appeal lodged by the club Atletico Madrid in a case concerning the player Kieran Trippier.

"As a consequence, the decision of the FIFA Disciplinary Committee passed on December 23 2020 is confirmed, extending sanctions imposed on the player by the English FA to have worldwide effect."

Trippier will now be unavailable for Diego Simeone's side until February 28.

The England international will miss LaLiga matches against Eibar, Valencia, Cadiz, Celta Vigo, Granada and Levante, but he will be back in time for the derby with Real Madrid, which is scheduled for March 7.

Trippier will also sit out the first leg of the Champions League last-16 tie with Chelsea at the Wanda Metropolitano on February 23.

Atletico Madrid are close to signing Moussa Dembele from Lyon, Diego Simeone has confirmed.

The striker is expected to move to the Wanda Metropolitano on a loan deal with an option to buy, having told Lyon he wanted a new challenge.

The agreement has not yet been finalised but Simeone seems confident the move will be completed sooner rather than later.

"It's still not confirmed, but it's very advanced," the Atletico coach told reporters ahead of Tuesday's match with Sevilla.

"I'm going to turn my head towards the game, which is what interests me, and when there's something [on Dembele], if there is something, I'll give an opinion."

Atleti will reportedly be able to secure Dembele for a €35million fee should he impress on loan before the end of the season.

The former France Under-21 international has scored just once in 16 Ligue 1 games this season, having hit 24 in 46 across all competitions in 2019-20.

Simeone's more pressing concern is Tuesday's match with Julen Lopetegui's side, which comes after Atleti's previous game with Athletic Bilbao was called off.

The match, which was due to take place in Madrid on Saturday, was postponed after Storm Filomena brought significant snowfall to the Spanish capital.

Training was severely disrupted over the weekend and Atleti will hold an extra session before facing Sevilla to make sure they are fully prepared.

"With the difficulties we've had, everyone has been at home," Simeone said. "We had no option of getting together or leaving the house. We worked at home on Saturday; on Sunday, a group was able to train together.

"There are no excuses. They're circumstances to which we have to adapt. The most important thing will be tomorrow and what happened before will not matter in terms of the criticism and opinions we receive.

"There'll be two training sessions because tomorrow we'll have another one at midday to finish fine-tuning what we have to do, making the most of the fact the game is in the evening.

"[The pitch] is very good. It looks really good, with a normal condition to be able to compete and I'm sure there won't be any difficulty with the surface."

Simeone also confirmed Kieran Trippier "is really good, he's really excited to play, focused as ever" after being cleared to play.

The full-back was hit with a 10-game ban by the Football Association due to breaches of betting regulations, but he is allowed to feature again in LaLiga after FIFA put his punishment on hold amid an appeal from Atletico.

Paris Saint-Germain are reportedly eyeing Manchester City forward Sergio Aguero.

Aguero, 32, is out of contract at the end of the season and his future with the Premier League giants is uncertain.

And PSG are apparently eyeing the forward.

 

TOP STORY – PSG EYE AGUERO

Mauricio Pochettino and PSG have Aguero in their sights on a free transfer at the end of the season, according to the Mirror.

Injuries have limited Aguero to just nine appearances in all competitions this season.

Aguero is Manchester City's all-time leading scorer with 256 goals.

 

ROUND-UP

- Linked with a move for Borussia Dortmund midfielder Julian Brandt, Arsenal may also be looking elsewhere. Bild reports PSG's Julian Draxler, who is out of contract at the season's end, is an alternative for the Premier League club.

- Also at Arsenal, Mesut Ozil seems set to leave the club. The Guardian reports the playmaker is in talks to join Fenerbahce on loan, but Arsenal do not want to pay any part of his salary if he moves to the Turkish giants.

- Lyon striker Moussa Dembele is again being linked with a switch. Goal reports Dembele is not interested in a move to West Ham, and Atletico Madrid are keen to land him. L'Equipe says Atletico want Dembele on loan.

- Kieran Trippier's ban has been put on hold pending an appeal, but his January reportedly could have been very different. TalkSPORT reports Manchester United were considering a bid for the defender, who was keen on a move, before his ban over betting rule breaches.

- Manchester United are apparently not chasing Moises Caicedo. Fabrizio Romano reports United, who were previously linked to Caicedo, will not sign the Independiente del Valle and Ecuador attacker, who is said to be the subject of a bid from Brighton and Hove Albion.

Atletico Madrid boss Diego Simeone welcomed Kieran Trippier back to training after his 10-week suspension for betting offences was put on hold by FIFA.

The 30-year-old defender was issued with the ban and a fine of £70,000 on December 23 after the Football Association (FA) found him guilty of four of seven alleged breaches of rule E8(1)(b).

Atletico appealed against the punishment to FIFA, and world football's governing body has cleared Trippier to play while its appeal committee considers the matter.

In the written reasons explaining its independent regulatory commission's decision, which the FA published on Tuesday, it was revealed Trippier told a friend, "Lump on if you want mate" in one of a series messages on a WhatsApp group discussing the progress of his €22million transfer to Atleti in July 2019.

Trippier's claim that the messages were "banter" did not pass muster with the commission and it was discovered one of his friends, Oliver Hawley, placed 10 separate bets between £20 and £65 on the right-back joining Atletico.

Matthew Brady, who asked Trippier, "Shall I lump on you going there?" and two other friends placed further bets ranging from £20 and £300.

"It [the ban] is on hold. We have Trippier back with us," Simeone said.

"I gave him a hug and they will tell me more in the coming days."

However, the former Tottenham player might have to wait for his return to action and will not feature in Wednesday's Copa del Rey tie at Cornella.

"He is training away from the group. Tomorrow, he will not take part in the game," Simeone confirmed.

As part of its investigation, the FA took into account witness statements on Trippier's behalf from England manager Gareth Southgate and Three Lions captain Harry Kane.

So far this season, he has played 19 matches in all competitions for Atletico.

 

 

Kieran Trippier's 10-week suspension for betting offences has been put on hold by FIFA following an appeal by Atletico Madrid.

The defender was issued a ban and a fine of £70,000 on December 23 after the Football Association found him guilty of four of seven alleged breaches of rule E8(1)(b).

The regulation states: "Where a participant provides to any other person any information relating to football which the participant has obtained by virtue of his or her position within the game and which is not publicly available at that time, the participant shall be in breach of this rule where any of that information is used by that other person for, or in relation to, betting."

Trippier, who denied the charges, was facing the prospect of missing 14 Atletico games up until February 28, a run that includes the first leg of their Champions League last-16 tie with Chelsea.

However, the 30-year-old England international will be free to play again while the appeal process continues.

A FIFA spokesperson confirmed on Sunday: "Following the appeal and, specifically, the request for provisional measures lodged by the club Atletico Madrid, the FIFA Appeal Committee has approved to stay the extension of the suspension against Kieran Trippier until the procedure is over before the FIFA Appeal Committee."

Trippier will miss Sunday's game between Atleti and Deportivo Alaves after being left out of the squad.

The former Tottenham man has played in 19 matches in all competitions this season for the LaLiga title-hopefuls, who are a point behind Real Madrid at the top of the table but with three games in hand.

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