What does the future hold for Juventus post-Cristiano Ronaldo?

Moise Kean arrived following Ronaldo's return to Manchester United but it was a relatively quiet transfer window in terms of incomings.

Juve, though, are reportedly planning for 2022 already and they are targeting a pair of forward stars.

 

TOP STORY – DUO EYED BY JUVE

Fiorentina star Dusan Vlahovic or Paris Saint-Germain's Mauro Icardi are in Juventus' plans for 2022, according to the front page of Wednesday's Gazzetta dello Sport.

Juve had a quiet end to the transfer window after Cristiano Ronaldo left Turin for Manchester United.

But Juve are reportedly set to target either Vlahovic – also linked with Atletico Madrid, Arsenal, Tottenham, Manchester City and Inter – or Icardi at the end of the season.

 

ROUND-UP

– Staying in Turin and Tuttosport says Juve will do everything to re-sign star Paulo Dybala. He has been linked with United, Tottenham and PSG previously.

 Lyon are expected to complete the signing of former Bayern Munich defender Jerome Boateng on a free transfer, claims Fabrizio Romano.

– Sky Sport Italia reports free agent Franck Ribery is in negotiations with Hellas Verona. Ribery is without a club since leaving Fiorentina at the end of 2020-21.

 Lautaro Martinez will sign a new deal with Inter until 2025 worth €6million per year, according to Gazzetta dello Sport. Barcelona, City and Tottenham have been linked.

Barcelona let three players leave on a busy final day of the transfer window, while Saul Niguez looks set to join Chelsea in a late deal.

Emerson Royal, Ilaix Moriba and Rey Manaj were allowed to leave Camp Nou on Tuesday.

Leicester City were also busy with one in and one out, while a young Frenchman (no, not that one) has joined Real Madrid.

Here is a round-up of some of the deadline-day deals, and what could be coming in the closing hours...
 

A new Royal rocks up in London

Talks had been ongoing over the past few days between Tottenham and Barca for full-back Emerson, who only arrived at Camp Nou earlier in the window after impressing at Real Betis.

The right-back has joined Spurs for a £21.5million (€25m) fee, with his arrival likely to push Serge Aurier closer to the exit door.

Could Aurier end up at a Premier League rival? Everton appear to be in need of a right-back with Ainsley Maitland-Niles set to stay at Arsenal.

Back at Barca, they have sold midfielder Ilaix Moriba to Bundesliga club RB Leipzig, who have paid €16m plus €6m in add-ons for the teenager. Manaj, meanwhile, has joined Italian side Spezia on loan.

Paris Saint-Germain have been at the centre of one of the biggest stories over recent days, but it looks like Kylian Mbappe will be staying put.

Indeed, the France star seems set to have a new team-mate in the capital, with Sporting CP full-back Nuno Mendes said to be nearing a €40m move. Pablo Sarabia may head the other way.

While they may have missed out on Mbappe, Madrid did complete a deal for another France international in Eduardo Camavinga, who has signed a six-year contract following a transfer from Rennes.

Better call Saul?

Chelsea have been chasing Sevilla defender Jules Kounde but the European champions have instead lined up another LaLiga player to boost their squad, with Atletico Madrid's Saul reportedly set to arrive on loan.

One outgoing at Chelsea was Ethan Ampadu, with the youngster signing a new contract before heading out on loan to newly promoted Serie A side Venezia.

Another Premier League club busy as the deadline approached were Leicester, drafting in Ademola Lookman on loan from Leipzig. The winger impressed with Fulham last term. Dennis Praet, meanwhile, has left to return to Serie A, joining Torino on loan for the season.

After the Cristiano Ronaldo deal was confirmed by Manchester United, the Red Devils decreased the logjam for starting spots in the forward line by allowing Dan James to depart for Leeds United - the club he so nearly joined previously, only for the deal to fall through.

Liverpool have been more focused on tying down current members of their squad than bringing in new faces; they have handed young defender Rhys Williams a new deal, with the centre-back then joining Swansea City on loan. Nathaniel Phillips has also extended his contract, though looks set to stay at Anfield for now.

Burnley have signed full-back Connor Roberts from the Swans, while Everton are expected to complete the signing of Salomon Rondon as a replacement for Moise Kean, whose move to Juventus was confirmed earlier in the day.

Arsenal have supposedly agreed a deal with Bologna for defender Takehiro Tomiyasu. The move would seemingly offset the loss of Hector Bellerin, who is said to be close to switching to Real Betis. Reiss Nelson has already left the Gunners, heading out to Feyenoord on loan. 

The transfer windows in Italy and Germany have already shut, meaning Juve, Inter, Milan, Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund have all concluded their business.

Liverpool centre-back Nat Phillips has penned a new long-term contract with Jurgen Klopp's side.

Phillips came to the fore last term, appearing 20 times for the Reds in all competitions as they suffered a defensive crisis with Joe Gomez and Virgil van Dijk both long-term absentees.

The 24-year-old played an integral part in Liverpool's Champions League qualification, starting 15 top-flight games and keeping seven clean sheets to secure a third-place finish.

Indeed, the Liverpool defender impressed as a stand-in and only lost two Premier League games in which he started, boasting a remarkable 73.3 per cent win rate that dropped to 39.1 per cent without him.

Phillips, who now sees Klopp's defensive options return to take his starting place, recorded a league-high 7.92 successful duels per 90 minutes among defenders and ranked sixth on the list for most duels contested per 90 minutes (13.05).

On signing his new deal, he told the club's official website: "Obviously after last year, it’s really nice to get that reward from the club.

"I’m happy to be sticking around and being available if the club need to call on me again. I’m excited for the next chapter and just to see what that brings.

"It is nice that the club has shown me that recognition and hopefully I can bring more of the same with whatever opportunities come my way."

Virgil van Dijk was flattered by Erling Haaland's belief the Netherlands captain is "the best defender" in the world.

The pair are set to face off when the Oranje travel to Norway for their 2022 World Cup qualifier on Wednesday.

An intriguing duel should challenge both players, with Haaland full of praise for Van Dijk when he addressed the media on Monday.

"I think he is the best defender. I think quite a few others in the room agree with me on that," the Borussia Dortmund forward said.

"He is fast, strong and smart, and those are three important things you must have."

Those comments were on Tuesday put to Van Dijk, who replied: "Did he say that? That's nice of him."

The Liverpool man is relishing his return to the international stage, having missed Euro 2020 due to injury.

"I'm incredibly happy that I'm here again, with the guys, working towards a very important game," Van Dijk said.

"Everyone is sharp, looking forward to playing. Everyone is focused, which is great to see."

This will also be the Netherlands' first game since the return of Louis van Gaal, who is back for a third spell in charge.

Norway are tied with the visitors on six points from three games in Group G, one shy of early leaders Turkey.

Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson has signed a new contract with the Premier League club.

The England midfielder, who had two years left on his previous deal, has agreed to an extension that will reportedly run until the end of the 2024-25 season.

Henderson has spent 10 years at Liverpool since joining from Sunderland and captained Jurgen Klopp's side to Champions League glory in 2019 before leading them to a first top-flight title in 30 years in 2019-20.

"I'm obviously very honoured and proud to continue the journey I've already been on here," Henderson told Liverpool's website.

"It's amazing to finally get it done and just concentrate on looking forward and what the future may hold.

"I'm in a different place, of course, as a player and as a person, from when I first walked in. I've learned and grown a lot over my time here, and I've got to thank a lot of people for that.

"I've loved every minute of it; even when I look back at the tough times, I was still enjoying being a part of this football club. The longer I can do that, the better for me really. I want to be here as long as possible, I've always said that.

"To continue this journey is incredible for me and my family, and I hope the fans and the club feel the same way."

Henderson, 31, has made 394 appearances in all competitions for the Reds, winning five trophies in total in his decade at Anfield.

He was named the Football Writers' Association Footballer of the Year after guiding Liverpool to Premier League glory in 2019-20.

"Every year is the same, every year is the biggest challenge, the biggest season ahead. I feel as hungry as ever," he said.

"I feel as hungry as I did when I first walked in 10 years ago, to prove to people that I deserve to be at this football club and give absolutely everything every single day for the badge, for the fans and for each other in this building.

"If we do that, I feel as though we've got a good chance of being successful."

Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson has signed a new contract with the Premier League club.

Cristiano Ronaldo will be playing back at Old Trafford in 2021-22 after Manchester United confirmed his signing from Juventus.

The Portugal great has returned in a deal worth up to €23million (£19.7m), which was sensationally agreed with Juve on Friday.

For a short while, it looked as though Ronaldo – who had asked to leave the Bianconeri – was heading to Manchester City after they missed out on the signing of Harry Kane.

Instead, he is heading back to the red side of Manchester.

With the deal now finalised, Stats Perform takes a look at other greats who went back to their former homes, starting with the Portugal captain...

Cristiano Ronaldo – Manchester United

Ronaldo spent six years at Old Trafford during his previous spell, arriving as a lanky teenager who loved a stepover and leaving as a Ballon d'Or winner and ice-cold finisher. His then-world-record move to Real Madrid had been a long time coming and he spent nine years at the Santiago Bernabeu, becoming the club's all-time top scorer as he continued his transition from winger to out-and-out 'number nine'. There he won four Champions League titles before moving on to Juve, for whom he plundered 81 goals in 98 Serie A matches and picked up two Scudetti. But now he is returning to England. Whether he can match the standards he set last time remains to be seen, with his 31-goal haul of 2007-08 only bettered once in a 38-match season, but United fans will be convinced he can fire them to a first league title since Ferguson left.

Juan Roman Riquelme – Boca Juniors

Synonymous with Boca Juniors, Riquelme made his professional debut for the Buenos Aires giants and returned to the club for the majority of his final years as a player, following spells with Barcelona and Villarreal. After a breakdown in his relationship with Manuel Pellegrini, Riquelme – the classic number 10 – returned to Boca initially on loan in 2007, going on to stay until 2014. He helped Boca win the Copa Libertadores in 2007, the Recopa Sudamericana a year later, Apertura titles in 2008 and 2011 and the Copa Argentina in 2011-12. He is currently Boca's vice-president.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic – Milan

After a difficult spell under Pep Guardiola at Barcelona, Ibrahimovic – who had excelled at both Juventus and Inter – moved back to Italy, joining the Nerrazurri's city rivals Milan on loan for 2010-11. He became an instant star for the Rossoneri, picking up where he left off in Italy with 21 goals, a tally he bettered in 2011-12, scoring 35 times in all competitions. Paris Saint-Germain came calling and he went on to become the Ligue 1 giants' record goalscorer (a title now held by Edinson Cavani), before joining Manchester United and LA Galaxy. Despite being in his late 30s, Ibrahimovic still had more to offer and rejoined Milan for the back half of the 2019-20 campaign, netting 11 goals. He carried on his form into an injury hit 2020-21, scoring a further 16 times, and he is set to be a pivotal figure at San Siro once again this season.

Romelu Lukaku – Chelsea

Part of United's reasoning behind signing Ronaldo was to perhaps ensure they kept pace with their title rivals. For the past two seasons, Ronaldo has gone head-to-head with Lukaku in Serie A. Though Ronaldo won the battle last season, scoring 29 league goals, compared to Lukaku's 24, it was the Belgian who won the war by leading Inter to the title, and now the duo will face off again in the Premier League after Chelsea smashed their transfer record to re-sign the 28-year-old 10 years on from his initial arrival from Anderlecht. Lukaku did not manage to push himself into the starting XI back then and was loaned out to West Brom and Everton, before moving to Goodison Park on a permanent deal in 2014. He returns to Stamford Bridge as the complete package, however, and bullied Arsenal's defence on his second debut, scoring the opener in a 2-0 win for the European champions.

Didier Drogba – Chelsea

Part of the allure for Lukaku returning to Chelsea was to emulate his icon Drogba, who left Stamford Bridge after helping the Blues clinch a Champions League crown in 2012. The Ivorian went back to west London in the 2014-15 season, with Drogba explaining he could not turn down the chance to work with Jose Mourinho once again. He scored four league goals in 28 appearances to help Chelsea win the title, before heading off for a swansong in MLS with the Montreal Impact.

Thierry Henry – Arsenal

Another Premier League great, Henry rejoined Arsenal on a short-term loan deal at the start of 2012. He scored on his second debut against Leeds United in the FA Cup, converting his only attempt of the game in a 22-minute cameo from the bench. He went on to play a further six times, scoring in the Premier League against Sunderland, before he returned to the New York Red Bulls to round off a wonderful career.

Carlos Tevez – Boca Juniors

The Tevez-Boca love affair has dominated most of the striker's complex career. After coming through their youth ranks, the feisty forward was seen as the heir to Maradona. A brief stint in Brazil with Corinthians followed, but Europe had long since beckoned, even if West Ham were by no means the expected destination. He went on to play for Man United and City, increasing tension between the clubs, before then going to Juventus, but throughout this time Tevez seemed to long for a return to Boca. He went back to La Bombonera in 2015, his homecoming interrupted by a brief spell with Shanghai Shenhua in 2017 in the Chinese Super League, though even Tevez acknowledged he saw his time in China as a "holiday". "He filled Santa's sack with dollars and now he has returned to Boca," was Maradona's assessment upon the forward's return from the CSL. His third spell with Boca ended in June 2021 and it remains to be seen if he ever plays for another club.

Wayne Rooney – Everton

With Lukaku joining Man United in 2017, it opened the door for Everton to bring back Rooney, who had left his boyhood club in 2004 on the back of a stellar performance at Euro 2004. Then just 18, Rooney went on to become United's record goalscorer – and England's, too – and he returned to Goodison Park for the 2017-18 season. He scored on his league debut, heading in the winner against Stoke City, and though he netted 11 times in total for the Toffees, a difficult season saw Ronald Koeman sacked and replaced with Sam Allardyce, who was subsequently shuffled out of the door for Marco Silva. With Everton looking to go in a new direction, Rooney left to join MLS side DC United in 2018.

Gianluigi Buffon – Parma

Buffon likes a comeback. Having returned for a second spell at Juventus in 2019, the goalkeeping great departed the club for a second time at the end of 2020-21. The Italy legend had not finished playing yet, though, and Parma quickly emerged as a potential destination despite their relegation to Serie B. After a few weeks of contemplation, it was confirmed that Buffon was heading back to the club where he made his name. Now 43, the iconic stopper is wearing Gialloblu for the first time in 20 years, and he is set to remain with them until he turns 45, given he signed a two-year contract. What happens after that is anyone's guess, but calling it a day with his first club could be a satisfyingly romantic conclusion to a remarkable career – that or he ends up at Juve again!

He is back where he belongs.
He is back home. #SupermanReturns @gianluigibuffon @Kyle_J_Krause @ParmaCalcio_en pic.twitter.com/bh2FO6P8YX

— Parma Calcio 1913 (@1913parmacalcio) June 17, 2021

With Kylian Mbappe staying put, Real Madrid are looking elsewhere in France. 

Los Blancos have their sights set on an even younger talent. 

Teenage midfielder Eduardo Camavinga could be on the move from Rennes.

 

TOP STORY – CAVAMINGA TO REAL MADRID

In the final hours before the transfer window closes, Eduardo Camavinga appears poised for a long-rumoured departure from Rennes. 

The 18-year-old France international will join Real Madrid in a €31million deal, Fabrizio Romano reports, with Goal saying he will get a five-year deal.

Paris Saint-Germain and Manchester United also were interested in the midfielder. 

 

ROUND-UP

- Tottenham have finalised a £26m (€30m) deal with Barcelona for Emerson Royal, who will sign a five-year deal according to Romano. 

- Emerson's departure will prompt Barca to bid for Arsenal's Hector Bellerin, Mundo Deportivo reports. 

- Sampdoria's Denmark international Mikkel Damsgaard is drawing late interest from Spurs, Liverpool and Milan, according to the Daily Star. 

- Leeds United have discussed a loan deal and a permanent move for Dan James with Manchester United, ESPN says. The Guardian says he is set for a £24m switch.

- Odsonne Edouard will sign with Crystal Palace after Celtic agreed a deal for around £16m, reports Romano.

- Real Sociedad and Getafe are bidding for Milan's Samu Castillejo, Calciomercato reports. 

- Steven N'Zonzi could be leaving Roma for Marseille or Lille, says Foot Mercato. 

Schalke centre-back Ozan Kabak has joined Norwich City on a season-long loan.

Daniel Farke's men confirmed the deal on Monday, with the newly promoted side retaining the option to buy for a reported £12million (€14m) at the end of the 2021-22 campaign.

The 21-year-old becomes another name on Norwich's growing list of acquisitions as they seek to retain their Premier League status.

Kabak spent the second half of the last campaign at Liverpool amid their shortage of centre-backs, appearing 13 times in all competitions.

The Turkey defender, who made the final squad for Euro 2020 in June, ranked third among Jurgen Klopp's defenders to play more than 10 games for passing accuracy, completing 87.5 per cent.

The Schalke loanee also sat third among club charts for blocks (seven) and fourth for tackles (25).

Upon joining Norwich on loan, Kabak told the club's official website: "I'm very happy to be a part of this family. I'm looking forward to playing in front of the fans and getting some points.

"I spoke with the head coach and I’m really impressed by his project and what he said to me. I believe in him and his project.

"I played in the Premier League last year and I really enjoyed it. So, I want to play again and that's why I’m here. I want to play in the Premier League and to give something to the team.

"I'm looking forward to playing in front of the fans with this jersey. We will work hard to get some wins and take some points to make our fans happy."

Chelsea have been linked with Sevilla's French defender Jules Kounde throughout the off-season.

The 22-year-old centre-back did not play for Sevilla at the weekend and reportedly wants to exit the club.

Kounde would be Chelsea's second major signing behind Romelu Lukaku, as the transfer window closure approaches.

 

TOP STORY – CHELSEA FACING MONDAY ULTIMATUM ON KOUNDE

Chelsea's drawn-out pursuit of Sevilla's Jules Kounde has hit another speed bump with the Spanish club issuing the Blues an ultimatum, according to AS.

Sevilla have told Chelsea if they do not submit a suitable offer on Monday, then they have to meet Kounde's €80 million (£68m) release clause.

Chelsea have not tabled a firm bid for Kounde beyond €50m, while the LaLiga outfit had reportedly previously wanted €60-70m.

ROUND-UP

- The Star reports that Cristiano Ronaldo's arrival at Manchester United will force Dan James out, with Everton, Brighton and Hove Albion, Leeds United and Crystal Palace all in the running for the Welsh winger.

- Manchester United are unlikely to move for Atletico Madrid full-back and long-term target Kieran Trippier reports the Manchester Evening News. United's capture of Ronaldo means their transfer business is over.

- Sport reports that Juventus are ready to make one final effort to sign Miralem Pjanic back from Barcelona. Juve are willing to take Pjanic on loan, with the midfielder out of favour at Barca.

- Aston Villa are set to table a £15m bid for Liverpool midfielder Curtis Jones according to the Express. The Villans are eager to strengthen having missed out on Arsenal's Emile Smith Rowe.

Roberto Firmino will have a scan after suffering an apparent hamstring injury in the first half of Liverpool's 1-1 draw with Chelsea on Saturday.

The Brazil international was making his first start of the Premier League season, having come on as a substitute in the previous wins over Norwich City and Burnley.

However, Firmino's outing was cut short after he reported concerns over a hamstring issue to the Liverpool bench, leading to the forward being substituted in the 43rd minute.

Asked about the severity of the injury after the game, manager Jurgen Klopp told the media: “Serious? I don't know. Serious enough to take him off, yes.

"Bobby felt his hamstring, came and told us so we had to prepare the change. Bobby is nobody who raises the hand when he doesn't feel anything.

"It doesn't look too serious but you never know before you have a scan, which will happen tomorrow."

Firmino had 27 total touches and completed 94.1 per cent of his attempted passes during his time on the pitch, though Liverpool trailed 1-0 when he was replaced.

A Mohamed Salah penalty in first-half stoppage time levelled the score after Reece James had been shown a red card for handling the ball on the line, preventing Sadio Mane's close-range attempt from going in.

While the Reds were unable to make their numerical advantage tell after the break, Klopp was able to see plenty of positives from the display – including another impressive outing from teenager Harvey Elliott.

The 18-year-old kept his place after making a first league start for Liverpool a week earlier against Burnley. He justified the faith shown in him too, making more successful passes than any other home player as he continued a promising link-up with Trent Alexander-Arnold and goalscorer Salah down his team's right flank.

"He looked good last week obviously in the game, was good during the training week," Klopp said of Elliott, who became the third youngest Liverpool player ever to start against Chelsea, after John McLaughlin in 1970 and Raheem Sterling in 2012.

"We wanted to change a little bit. We wanted to have the dynamic of Hendo [Jordan Henderson] in the team, wanted to have Robbo [Andy Rovertson], wanted to have Bobby [Firmino] in between the lines.

"That all worked out pretty well and then on the right side we didn't want to change on top of that something.

"Harvey was from the first day of pre-season with us, pretty much the only midfielder we played so far [who that applies to] apart from Naby (Keita) and Ox (Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain).

"He looks fit obviously and can just deal with 95 minutes and that's important for us. It was important today and that is why we started him and that's why we left him on the pitch."

Liverpool are next in action on September 12, travelling to Elland Road to take on Leeds United three days before opening their Champions League campaign at home to Milan.

Jurgen Klopp accepted a draw was a fair result after Liverpool struggled to break down Chelsea's 10 men in the second half at Anfield.

Kai Havertz headed Chelsea into a 22nd-minute lead at Anfield, an advantage they retained until the key moment of the Premier League contest deep into added time in the first half, with Reece James sent off for handling the ball on the line.

Joel Matip hit the crossbar with a close-range header before Sadio Mane's follow-up attempt amid a scramble inside the six-yard box saw James keep the attempt out with his arm, albeit only after the ball had bounced up off his knee.

Mohamed Salah converted from the spot to draw Liverpool level, yet the home team failed to make their numerical advantage tell in the second half as the game finished 1-1.

"Really exciting game, I saw a really exciting game. It was tough, it was hard for both teams," Klopp told Sky Sports.

"We had a really good first half, a good 45 minutes. With the first situation for Chelsea we conceded a goal – that's not cool.

"Everybody who watches the Premier League, who watches Chelsea knows they are pretty good at defending. The goal we scored and the penalty we got was very deserved. I feel for Reece, because it was obviously tricky, but it was a penalty.

"In the second half, everyone thinks against 10 men, 'Oh, come on'. This kind of stuff.

"But there is no advantage. There is an advantage in possession, yes you have to outnumber them, but the defensive structure changed in that they defended slightly deeper. They had eight players, eight players defending that area around the box."

Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel felt the dismissal of James rather ruined the game as a spectacle, though opposite number Klopp was not overly concerned by his side's inability to capitalise on the red card.

Edouard Mendy was called on to make six saves, his most in a single appearance since joining Chelsea in any competition, but Liverpool were too often forced to take on long-range attempts.

"We had our shots from distance, Mendy saved them, I would have loved to see us a little bit closer for the rebounds or whatever, but, again, it was a good game," Klopp continued.

"We played a good game. I loved the intensity, I loved the atmosphere we created altogether, the people in the stands and on the pitch.

"Chelsea deserved a draw, plus we get a point as well.

"I don't know how the result would have been with 11 against 11, but it was 1-1 and that's really okay.

"It's really early in the season. I know people tend to make a big fuss about everything, but we drew against the best team from last season in Europe. That's okay."

The one concern for Klopp came with an injury to Roberto Firmino, who had to be replaced in the first half with what the Liverpool manager revealed to be a muscle problem, adding: "I hope it's not too big".

Thomas Tuchel accepts referee Anthony Taylor's decision to send off Reece James in Chelsea's 1-1 draw with Liverpool, but says it spoiled the rest of the contest at Anfield.

Chelsea were a goal to the good in Saturday's tussle between the two Premier League title hopefuls through a Kai Havertz header when the game exploded in controversy.

Taylor was prompted by VAR to look at the pitchside monitor after Sadio Mane's shot cannoned off James' leg on the goal-line and hit the wing-back's hand.

A penalty was awarded and subsequently converted by Mohamed Salah in first-half stoppage time, though Chelsea's players reacted furiously to the red card that was also issued to James.

Tuchel's side held on for the whole of the second half with 10 men, but the German coach felt the game suffered as a result of the dismissal.

"The red card – not even I'm sure any more if it's the rules or not the rules," he told BBC's Match of the Day. 

"You have to accept the decision, but maybe would have changed his mind with moving pictures. In the end it maybe would have stayed the same. 

"I don't like early red cards in general because it spoiled the game. In the end it was a tough and hard fight. We showed great resilience and deserved the point."

Liverpool had 14 shots in the second half, six of those being kept out by Edouard Mendy – the most saves he has made in a single game for Chelsea since joining last September.

Chelsea also had some promising moments on the counter, with Mateo Kovacic testing Alisson late on, but Tuchel was more than happy to come away from Anfield with a point given the circumstances.

"We decided to stay in a back five," he said. "We wanted to stay active and make it hard to create chances for Liverpool. The first 10 minutes of the second half seemed endless. 

"The last five minutes I was actually praying we take what we deserved. It was a hard and a tough one, but a very strong second half defensively."

James, who had earlier assisted Havertz's sublime headed opener, became the first Chelsea player to be sent off away to Liverpool in the league since Frank Lampard in 2009.

At 21 years and 263 days, he is the youngest Blues player to be dismissed in the top flight since John Obi Mikel, aged 20 years and 154 days, versus Manchester United in 2007.

While Tuchel accepted the referee's decision to reach into his pocket, Chelsea skipper Cesar Azpilicueta took a different view.

"It was harsh," Azpilicueta, who is now just the fourth Chelsea player to reach 300 Premier League appearances after John Terry (492), Frank Lampard (429) and Petr Cech (333), told BBC Sport.

"I feel sorry for Reece. The referee got advice from VAR to give it. He went to the screen to watch one replay.

"We got the double punishment, red card and a penalty – and two yellow cards in the aftermath. 

"We were angry, but you have to calm down and find a way to fight together as a team. I think the team fought and maybe we had the best two chances in the second half."

Chelsea remain level on points and goal difference with Liverpool after three games and return to action with a home match against Aston Villa after the international break.

A common perception in 2020-21 was that Liverpool's struggles at home were partly down to playing in an empty Anfield, with their raucous support not there to get the Reds over the line.

How important that actually was is difficult – or maybe even impossible – to quantify, though Liverpool did endure a club-record run of six successive league defeats last term.

But Anfield was full on Saturday and rocking for their first 'big' match of the season with Chelsea on Merseyside, and once again Liverpool looked a shadow of the inventive side that won the 2019-20 Premier League season so impressively.

They were even given the boost of seeing Reece James sent off, yet Jurgen Klopp's side failed to make the most of that advantage in their 1-1 draw.

So much of the build-up centred around arguably the most anticipated duel since Anakin Skywalker v Obi-Wan Kenobi, as Romelu Lukaku – fresh from bullying Arsenal last week – went up against Virgil van Dijk.

Of course, the Dutchman missed most of last season with a knee injury and endured a pretty tough second match back last time out against Burnley.

His 41.7 per cent success in aerial duels was way down on his league average of 74.3 per cent since the start of 2018-19, highlighting just how "intense" – as Klopp put it – Burnley were.

While few would've expected a similarly direct approach from Chelsea, Lukaku's second Blues debut last week really increased the anticipation for his contest with Van Dijk.

Lukaku was certainly involved in a gruelling opening 45 minutes, his first proper duel with Van Dijk coming in the 18th minute as he rather easily shrugged the defender off out on the right before seeing a cross dealt with.

The Belgian was brutal with his desire to get into the danger zone last week and he showed similarly impressive movement just before the half-hour mark – but first N'Golo Kante failed to spot his run and then Kai Havertz did as well when a first-time pass would've set Lukaku through on goal.

Havertz had just given Chelsea the lead with a header Lukaku would've been proud of, otherwise he would likely have got an earful from his team-mate.

Lukaku's excellence then should've made it 2-0 10 minutes before the break, as he brilliantly rolled Joel Matip and fed Mason Mount, only for the England star to shoot wide of the bottom-left corner.

Van Dijk's anticipation when predicting Lukaku would try to let the ball run past him in the 43rd minute drew the biggest cheer of the day from Liverpool fans up to that point, and just a few moments later the game was turned on its head, rendering their personal duel almost irrelevant.

James handled on the line and, after a VAR check, was shown a red card. While the dismissal may have seemed harsh, it was ultimately inevitable with the wing-back denying a goalscoring opportunity, and Mohamed Salah converted the penalty.

The incident forced Thomas Tuchel into a significant re-think.

When Chelsea came out for the second half, their setup had changed dramatically. Having looked effective in the first half with a low defensive block, a very high front three occupying Liverpool's backline and an energetic midfield ensuring the gap wasn't too much of an issue, after the break their forwards simply couldn't continue in the same vein.

That, therefore, took away a key component of Tuchel's system. The 8.9 opposition passes allowed outside of Chelsea's own defensive third before a defensive action (PPDA) was second only to Leeds United (8.2) in this fledgling season before Saturday, indicating a high level of pressing.

Unable to maintain this with 10 men, Van Dijk and Matip were far more relaxed.

This translated to 77.1 per cent possession for the Reds in the 15 minutes that followed half-time, yet for their dominance of the ball, Liverpool's opportunities were hardly clear-cut.

Before a late onslaught in the final six minutes, only one of Liverpool's 10 second-half shots had an xG (expected goals) value over 0.1 – that was a Sadio Mane effort in the 56th minute, it's 0.105 xG value essentially equating to a scoring likelihood of just over 10 per cent. Not exactly nailed-on.

In the end, Liverpool's predictability in attack gave Chelsea the upper hand. The Reds constantly looked to the flanks, with Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andy Robertson playing five and four key passes respectively.

Salah (three) was the only other Liverpool player to play more than one, and again he was most prominent out wide rather than inside.

Chelsea, with their packed defence, rarely looked particularly worried and were ultimately good value for the point.

This was a wonderful opportunity for Liverpool to make a "statement" against a likely title contender, but Klopp's men lacked the imagination to overpower Chelsea's resilience.

Chelsea saw out the entire second half with 10 men to earn a 1-1 draw with Liverpool in Saturday's contest between two Premier League title hopefuls.

The sides entered the game with identical records of six points, five goals scored and none conceded from their first two games, and there was nothing between them at Anfield.

Kai Havertz opened the scoring for Chelsea with a sublime header, but the flow of the game changed following a huge call by referee Anthony Taylor in first-half stoppage time.

Reece James was sent off for a handball on the line, with Mohamed Salah converting the subsequent penalty, but Liverpool could not make their possession dominance count.

Jurgen Klopp's men had gone four games without conceding in the league stretching back into last season, but their defence was breached by Chelsea with 24 minutes on the clock.

Havertz made a late run to the near post and brilliantly sent James' delivery looping over Alisson for his first competitive Chelsea goal since netting the winner in May's Champions League final.

A big chance went begging for Mason Mount when flashing a shot across the face of goal and that proved a big moment as Liverpool were level late in the first half.

Joel Matip headed the ball against the crossbar and Sadio Mane's follow-up bounced off James' leg and onto his arm, which the referee deemed worthy of a penalty and red card.

Salah made no mistake in tucking away from 12 yards and momentum was with Liverpool for the vast majority of the second period.

Chelsea keeper Edouard Mendy was required to keep out attempts from Virgil van Dijk, Fabinho and the returning Andy Robertson, while Jordan Henderson fired just wide.

Thomas Tuchel's men gave their opponents a couple of scares when getting forward, with substitute Mateo Kovacic denied by Alisson late on, though there was to be no winning goal at either end as both teams' perfect starts came to an end.

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