Argentina midfielder Giovani Lo Celso has returned to Villarreal on loan for the 2022-23 season from Tottenham.

The 26-year-old joined the LaLiga side in January after making just nine Premier League appearances for Spurs in the first half of the 2021-22 campaign.  

He scored one goal across 22 appearances in all competitions as Unai Emery's side reached the semi-finals of the Champions League.

Villarreal started their LaLiga season with a resounding 3-0 win at Real Valladolid on Saturday. They are next in action on Thursday when they host Hajduk Split in the first leg of their Europa Conference League play-off.

 

Chelsea are in the market to bolster their defence following the exits of Antonio Rudiger and Andreas Christensen.

Thomas Tuchel's side have already added Kalidou Koulibaly from Napoli for £35million.

The Blues are eager to add another centre-back to their ranks before the closure of the transfer window.

TOP STORY – BLUES TO MAKE WORLD-RECORD BID FOR FOFANA

Chelsea are preparing to make a world-record offer for Leicester City's French defender Wesley Fofana, reports Football London.

The Blues' bid would be the highest fee paid for a defender, having had a previous offer declined by the Foxes.

It is believed Chelsea's previous bid was £70m with Leicester insisting he is not for sale. Harry Maguire, sold by Leicester to Manchester United, holds the record for a defender at £80m.


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– Manchester United are closing in on a deal for Juventus midfielder Adrien Rabiot, having reached an agreement with the Italian club for an initial £15m fee, according to The Guardian. France international Rabiot is in the final year of his contract with Juventus.

– 90min reports that United target Benjamin Sesko is close to agreeing to a deal with German club RB Leipzig. The report claims that 19-year-old Slovenian forward Sesko will move from Salzburg to Leipzig in 2023.

– United have also reached out to Real Betis on Guido Rodriguez's status according to AS, while the Red Devils are still considering Lazio's Sergej Milinkovic-Savic, reports The Telegraph.

– Tottenham have reached an agreement with Udinese for winger Destiny Udogie for more than €20m, claims Fabrizio Romano. Udogie, however, will still on loan at Udinese this season.

– Monaco are keen on signing Manchester United defender Eric Bailly on loan, claims L'Equipe. The Ligue 1 club want the Ivorian, who is under contract until 2024, with an option to buy.

– Fiorentina will rival Villarreal for the signature of Tottenham's Giovani Lo Celso, according to Gianluca Di Marzio. The Argentina international spent time on loan with Villarreal last season.

Valencia will revive its interest in Tottenham's Bryan Gil following Goncalo Guades' move to Wolves, claims Diario AS.

– The Telegraph claims Milan have re-opened talks with Chelsea's Moroccan winger Hakim Ziyech who has been transfer listed.

Chelsea are in the market to bolster their defence following the exits of Antonio Rudiger and Andreas Christensen.

Thomas Tuchel's side have already added Kalidou Koulibaly from Napoli for £35million.

The Blues are eager to add another centre-back to their ranks before the closure of the transfer window.

TOP STORY – BLUES TO MAKE WORLD-RECORD BID FOR FOFANA

Chelsea are preparing to make a world-record offer for Leicester City's French defender Wesley Fofana, reports Football London.

The Blues' bid would be the highest fee paid for a defender, having had a previous offer declined by the Foxes.

It is believed Chelsea's previous bid was £70m with Leicester insisting he is not for sale. Harry Maguire, sold by Leicester to Manchester United, holds the record for a defender at £80m.


ROUND-UP

– Manchester United are closing in on a deal for Juventus midfielder Adrien Rabiot, having reached an agreement with the Italian club for an initial £15m fee, according to The Guardian. France international Rabiot is in the final year of his contract with Juventus.

– 90min reports that United target Benjamin Sesko is close to agreeing to a deal with German club RB Leipzig. The report claims that 19-year-old Slovenian forward Sesko will move from Salzburg to Leipzig in 2023.

– United have also reached out to Real Betis on Guido Rodriguez's status according to AS, while the Red Devils are still considering Lazio's Sergej Milinkovic-Savic, reports The Telegraph.

– Tottenham have reached an agreement with Udinese for winger Destiny Udogie for more than €20m, claims Fabrizio Romano. Udogie, however, will still on loan at Udinese this season.

– Monaco are keen on signing Manchester United defender Eric Bailly on loan, claims L'Equipe. The Ligue 1 club want the Ivorian, who is under contract until 2024, with an option to buy.

– Fiorentina will rival Villarreal for the signature of Tottenham's Giovani Lo Celso, according to Gianluca Di Marzio. The Argentina international spent time on loan with Villarreal last season.

Valencia will revive its interest in Tottenham's Bryan Gil following Goncalo Guades' move to Wolves, claims Diario AS.

– The Telegraph claims Milan have re-opened talks with Chelsea's Moroccan winger Hakim Ziyech who has been transfer listed.

Giovani Lo Celso expressed pain at Villarreal's elimination in the Champions League semi-finals following their 3-2 defeat to Liverpool on Tuesday.

Faced with the huge task overturning a two-goal deficit after the first leg at Anfield, the Yellow Submarine drew level for the tie after a raucous 45 minutes at El Madrigal, via goals from Boulaye Dia and Francis Coquelin.

Liverpool eventually settled after the interval, and the air effectively went out of the tie when Fabinho's shot crept through Geronimo Rulli's legs and in, with the Reds going on to win 3-2.

A January signing for Villarreal, Lo Celso believes the home crowd propelled them to such a fast start but their energy dissipated.

"The first impression is one of pain, and of sadness because we wanted to play that final," Lo Celso told Movistar+ post-match. "We had a very good first half, where we cut off all the circuits for them, we pressed, we created situations, we went 2-0 up.

"The support of the fans who pushed us from the first minute gave us a huge boost.

"In the second half, it was difficult for us to keep up with them, they began to find spaces and there they found the goals."

Luis Diaz's substitution for Diogo Jota at half-time was transformative, and Liverpool found a different gear to eventually win in the 90 minutes and restore their lead on aggregate.

Lo Celso believes Liverpool's class eventually showed, but was proud of his team-mates' achievement of making it this far in the Champions League.

"It was a bit difficult for us to keep up with the rhythm of the first half," he said. "They began to control the game a little more, find spaces and generate situations.

"In the second half, in ten minutes the match escaped us, but I am proud of my team-mates because reaching the semis is no small thing and even more so against such a high-class opponent."

Along with Brenden Aaronson and Luka Sucic, Karim Adeyemi is part of a young core enjoying a breakout season at Salzburg.

In his third season in the Austrian Bundesliga, the 20-year-old has come up with 16 goals and three assists in 24 league appearances, and earned his first international cap for Germany last September.

Reports also suggest that a return to Germany at domestic level is imminent.

 

TOP STORY – DORTMUND CLOSE IN ON ADEYEMI

Borussia Dortmund and Salzburg have reached a basic agreement over the transfer of Karim Adeyemi, according to reports from Sky Sport Germany.

After several rounds of talks, this week has finally seen a breakthrough between the two clubs, with €35million the reported fee the two clubs have agreed on.

However, Dortmund are still to arrive at a point that satisfies Adeyemi and his representatives on personal terms.

According to the report, all three parties are looking to finalise the deal, but RB Leipzig, Liverpool and Paris Saint-Germain also remain interested.

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Harry Kane is set to turn down a move to Manchester United, with Erik ten Hag reportedly due to take over at Old Trafford instead of Kane's former boss Mauricio Pochettino, the Mirror reports.

– United have been given a boost in their pursuit of Chelsea's Antonio Rudiger however, as talks with Barcelona have reportedly stalled, according to the Sun.

Newcastle United have targeted Sevilla's Diego Carlos as a viable alternative if Sven Botman opts to join Milan, per the Chronicle.

– Football Insider reports Villarreal are seeking to permanently sign Giovani Lo Celso from Tottenham, having had the 26-year-old on loan since January.

– Meanwhile, Football Insider also reports that Manchester City have made Monaco midfielder Aurelien Tchouameni their top priority to replace Fernandinho.

The World Cup qualifier between Brazil and Argentina that was suspended amid farcical scenes will be replayed, world governing body FIFA has confirmed.

September's contest in Sao Paolo was called off after Brazilian health officials entered the pitch early on due to an alleged breach of COVID-19 protocols.

The issue centred around visitors Argentina naming three Premier League players in their starting line-up, with travellers from the UK restricted entry to Brazil at the time.

Emiliano Martinez, Cristian Romero and Giovani Lo Celso, as well as Emi Buendia, were accused by the Brazilian government of providing false information on immigration forms.

FIFA launched an investigation at the time and, five months on, a verdict was announced on Monday.

As well as ordering the match to be replayed at a location and date to be set by FIFA, Martinez, Buendia, Romero and Lo Celso have been banned for two games.

The governing body says the suspension is "for not complying with the FIFA Return to Football International Match Protocol".

Brazil have also been fined 550,000 Swiss francs – the equivalent to £439,225 or $593,542 – and Argentina 250,000 Swiss francs.

South American heavyweights Brazil and Argentina have already booked a place at Qatar 2022 with three games, including the rescheduled match, still to play.

Antonio Conte has urged Tottenham to be more careful in the transfer market after suggesting the club was guilty of making "mistakes in the past".

Spurs allowed Tanguy Ndombele, Giovani Lo Celso and Bryan Gil all leave the club on loan in January, while Dele Alli joined Everton on a permanent deal.

Alli undoubtedly flourished for a time at Spurs, but Lo Celso and Ndombele have so far proven to be expensive flops since joining in 2019.

Lo Celso, signed for an initial £27.8million (€32m) from Real Betis, was shipped off to Villarreal with a purchase option, while Ndombele – a club-record signing at £55m (€63m) – was sent back to Lyon, who retain the right to buy him for a reported €65m (£54m).

Spurs do at least appear to retain hope for Spain international winger Bryan, 20, whose temporary switch to Valencia does not include any purchase clauses or obligations.

However, Conte's general appraisal of the situation does not reflect especially well on any of them, nor those in charge of transfers at Spurs.

"Usually you buy players to reinforce your team," Conte told reporters on Friday. "But if you send on loan after two or three years, it is strange.

"It means that maybe in the past you have to see what you did and maybe to understand that there were some mistakes in the past.

"We have to pay more attention in the future when we go into the market. It becomes a fundamental importance if we want to enforce the team, otherwise you drop the quality of your team."

Tottenham were active with incomings as well, with Rodrigo Bentancur and Dejan Kulusevski joining from Juventus. Spurs sporting director Fabio Paratici previously signed both players during his spell in charge of the Bianconeri.

While neither player ultimately fitted the bill in Turin, Conte appeared excited by their respective arrivals in north London.

"We are talking about two players who are the right prospects for the club's philosophy, young players, talented players to develop and improve to then become important players in the future," he said.

"They have the right experience, Bentancur, for sure, has played many games for Juventus, Kulusevski as well. To be able to sign these two players was good, because they complete our squad.

"We needed to add another player in the midfield. We played with only three midfielders – [Pierre-Emil] Hojbjerg, Winksy [Harry Winks], [Oliver] Skipp.

"We needed to add another player, and we added a good player. Not only to add one player, but a good player.

"Rodrigo has a lot of space for improvement, he played for his national team, 200 games [for Juve and Boca Juniors] despite his age; he's only 24 years old. He's won in Italy. Yes, a good signing for us."

Winger Kulusevski had previously been tipped for a big future at Juve when initially signed from Atalanta amid a breakthrough loan spell with Parma in 2019-20, the year he was named Serie A's Young Player of the Season.

Conte is confident Kulusevski's versatility will be an asset, and he is even confident the wide attacker could operate effectively as a wing-back.

"Dejan has the characteristic to play, in my mind, behind the striker, one of the two number 10s we have behind our striker. At the same time, he has the capacity to play as a wing-back, on the right. He also likes to do this because physically, he's very strong, he has good quality," Conte said.

Conte was said to want to use Adama Traore, another winger, as a wing-back before he chose Barcelona over Tottenham.

Argentina midfielder Giovani Lo Celso has joined Villarreal on loan from Tottenham until the end of the season, with the Yellow Submarine having an option to buy.

The 25-year-old has struggled for game time in the 2021-22 campaign, having only made nine appearances in the Premier League, and only three substitute appearances in the league since the appointment of manager Antonio Conte.

With the deadline-day arrival of Rodrigo Bentancur from Juventus adding even more competition for places, Lo Celso will spend the rest of the season in Spain to try to rediscover the form that saw Spurs spend big money to bring him to the club from Real Betis in 2019.

Lo Celso has scored eight goals in 86 appearances for Spurs and was a part of the Argentina squad that won last year's Copa America.

Villarreal are seventh in LaLiga, and travel to Lo Celso's former club Betis on Sunday.

Ousmane Dembele's future at Barcelona has been uncertain for months.

The 24-year-old has stalled on a new deal with the Catalans.

Dembele has attracted interest from several top clubs, meaning his signature looms for deadline day.

TOP STORY – MAN UTD TO HIJACK PSG'S DEMBELE MOVE

Manchester United are set to make a deadline-day move for Barcelona's Dembele, according to Footmercato.

The Red Devils could hijack Paris Saint-Germain's plans, with the Ligue 1 club having already verbally agreed to a deal with the French winger.

United are ready to move, with Anthony Martial loaned out and Donny van de Beek and Jesse Lingard also set to exit.

 

ROUND-UP

- Arsenal outcast Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has agreed to a deal to join Barcelona, according to Sport, but Dembele must exit the Catalans to enable the move to be completed.

- Real Madrid have opted against a January move for Monaco's Aurelien Tchouameni, claims Diario Sport, due to their €80m asking price.

- Talksport claims that Tottenham's Giovani Lo Celso will join Spanish club Villarreal on loan for the rest of the season. Lyon were also interested in the Argentina international.

- Portuguese midfielder Renato Sanches has opted against a €25 million move from Lille to Milan, according to Calciomercato.

- Newcastle United's January spending is not over as the club eyes deadline-day deals for Aston Villa's Matt Targett and Arsenal's Eddie Nketiah, reports The Telegraph.

- Newcastle are set to land Manchester United goalkeeper Dean Henderson on loan, claims Talksport.

- Struggling Spanish club Getafe are interested in free agent Diego Costa, according to Marca.

- Dele Alli could join Milan on loan from Tottenham, reports Gazzetta dello Sport.

Aurelien Tchouameni has established himself as one of the brightest young midfielders in European football over the past season.

The 22-year-old is a mainstay in the Monaco side and is already a full France international.

He is under contract until 2024 but seems destined to move on sooner rather than later, with Europe's biggest clubs said to be interested.

 

TOP STORY – TCHOUAMENI TO COMMAND HUGE FEE

According to Marca, Premier League giants Chelsea and Manchester United have both identified Tchouameni as an option to boost their midfield.

The report claims that Monaco have set an asking price of between €80million and €100m (around £66.5m to £83.2m).

Monaco's Ligue 1 rivals Paris Saint-Germain, as well as LaLiga leaders Real Madrid, are also credited with an interest.

ROUND-UP

Fabrizio Romano reports Liverpool have agreed personal terms with Luis Diaz, and that the deal with Porto is now nearing completion.

 

Sky Italia has claimed Tottenham want to sign Juventus' Dejan Kulusevski, after missing out on Diaz.

Aston Villa face competition from Lyon for Rodrigo Bentancur, who is now a target for the Ligue 1 club, according to multiple reports.

Sky Sports has reported Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has been the subject of interest from Juventus and Barcelona.

Tottenham and Lyon are in advanced negotiations over Giovani Lo Celso, while the French side also want to sign Brest playmaker Romain Faivre, so says Fabrizio Romano.

Romano also reports Valencia are hopeful of loaning Bryan Gil from Spurs, and Crystal Palace are in talks with United over a move for Donny van de Beek.

Newcastle United have been eager to make some big moves in January, as their wealthy owners look to splash the cash in order to secure Premier League survival.

They have already brought in Kieran Trippier and Chris Wood, though a move for Sevilla centre-back Diego Carlos appears to have hit an impasse.

However, Eddie Howe also wants more attacking reinforcements and Tottenham's out-of-favour Dele Alli is the latest name to be linked with a move to the north east.

 

TOP STORY – ALLI TO SWITCH SPURS FOR ST JAMES' PARK?

Alli was omitted from Spurs' squad for Sunday's defeat to Chelsea and it seems that the England midfielder is surplus to requirements under Antonio Conte.

Once a bona fide star under Mauricio Pochettino, it has been a stark fall from grace for Alli, though at 25 he will still no doubt feel he has much to offer.

The Athletic reported on Sunday that Alli would be allowed to leave Tottenham on loan before the end of the window, and the Daily Mail have now claimed that Newcastle want to add him to their squad. 

 

ROUND UP

- Newcastle  are now being rivalled by Serie A giants Milan in the race to sign Diego Carlos from Sevilla, who have put a high valuation on the defender. The Athletic reported last week that another Premier League club were also interested in the Brazilian.

- Fabrizio Romano says that Gedson Fernandes, who spent an unsuccessful loan spell at Spurs last season, is to join Galatasaray from Benfica.

- Romano has also reported that Christian Eriksen is in advanced talks with Brentford over signing a short-term deal with the Bees. The Denmark playmaker, who had a cardiac arrest on the pitch at Euro 2020, left Inter last year.

- Goal are reporting that Spurs are also open to letting Giovani Lo Celso leave the club. The Argentina midfielder was also left out of their squad on Sunday.

- Multiple sources are reporting that Aston Villa are in talks with Juventus over midfielder Rodrigo Bentancur.

- The Times and Tuttosport have both suggested Juve will look to use funds from the sale of Bentancur to push on with a deal for Fiorentina star Dusan Vlahovic

Lionel Messi and Paulo Dybala have both been included in Argentina's squad, as well as three Premier League players, for World Cup qualifying fixtures in October. 

Messi has been sidelined with a knee injury of late, forcing him to miss two games for Paris Saint-Germain, but could be set to feature against Manchester City in Champions League action on Tuesday. 

Argentina's captain scored a hat-trick in the 3-0 win over Bolivia back on September 10, though he has yet to register either a goal or assist for new club PSG. 

Dybala was on target for Juventus on Sunday before having to come off in the 22nd minute of his side's 3-2 win over Sampdoria. 

The Serie A club announced on Monday that the 27-year-old will miss both the Champions League clash with Chelsea and also the derby against Torino due to injury, ruling him out of action until after the international break. 

However, Argentina boss Lionel Scaloni has included Dybala in a 30-man squad ahead of upcoming qualifiers against Paraguay, Uruguay and Peru. 

Tottenham duo Giovani Lo Celso and Cristian Romero have also been called up, along with Aston Villa goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez. 

Argentina remains on the red list for countries for the United Kingdom amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, with updated government rules on travel declaring any individual entering the UK from such a destination must undertake a 10-day quarantine period.

Villa are due to host Wolves on October 16 when the Premier League season resumes, while Spurs travel to Newcastle United the following day. 

Argentina squad in full:

Franco Armani (River Plate), Juan Musso (Atalanta), Emiliano Martinez (Aston Villa) Esteban Andrada (Monterrey); Gonzalo Montiel (Sevilla), Nahuel Molina (Udinese), Juan Foyth (Villarreal), Lucas Martinez Quarta (Fiorentina), German Pezzella (Real Betis), Nicolas Otamendi (Benfica), Cristian Romero (Tottenham), Lisandro Martinez (Ajax), Nicolas Tagliafico (Ajax), Marcos Acuna (Sevilla); Leandro Paredes (Paris Saint-Germain), Guido Rodriguez (Real Betis), Nicolas Dominguez (Bologna), Giovani Lo Celso (Tottenham), Exequiel Palacios (Bayer Leverkusen), Rodrigo De Paul (Atletico Madrid), Alejandro Gomez (Sevilla); Nicolas Gonzalez (Fiorentina), Angel Di Maria (Paris Saint-Germain), Lucas Alario (Bayer Leverkusen), Lionel Messi (Paris Saint-Germain), Paulo Dybala (Juventus), Lautaro Martinez (Inter), Joaquin Correa (Atletico Madrid), Julian Alarez (River Plate). 

The Brazilian Football Confederation (CBF) insisted it warned Argentina's Premier League-based quartet about the need to quarantine after Sunday's blockbuster CONMEBOL World Cup qualifier was sensationally abandoned.

The top-of-the-table fixture was halted following an apparent breach of coronavirus regulations, Argentina naming three Premier League players in their starting line-up – Aston Villa goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez and Tottenham pair Cristian Romero and Giovani Lo Celso.

Brazil had called up nine Premier League stars to their side, though none of the group travelled, with top-flight English clubs given backing not to release players.

Travellers from the United Kingdom are also restricted entry to Brazil if they have spent time in the country within the previous 14 days.

Despite the rulings, Martinez, Romero and Lo Celso were all starters for Lionel Scaloni's Copa America champions Argentina, with Brazilian health officials quickly acting by entering the pitch shortly after the match had started.

A subsequent melee ensued and the visitors eventually left the field and did not return, Brazil playing out a training fixture among one another.

As FIFA investigates, CBF released a statement on Monday, providing further information following a meeting that took place at the Hotel Marriot on Saturday amid criticism from Argentina, denying it interfered.

"CBF sent representation to said meeting as a listener, at the request of the Health Surveillance of the State of Sao Paulo, where representatives of the aforementioned agency, the Ministry of Health, ANVISA, CONMEBOL and the Argentine Football Association (AFA) were gathered.

"The CBF was represented by Dr. Roberto Nishimura, operational coordinator of the special medical committee, and there was no interference on his part in relation to administrative or sanitary aspects. This meeting ended around 18:00.

"As it understands that this is not a matter of its attribution, at no time was there any manifestation by the CBF representative to the authorities regarding the health issue of the four Argentine athletes, either in the sense of releasing or vetoing their participation in the game.

"At this meeting, the representatives of the Argentine national team were informed that there was an irregularity in the entry of players, that they should be quarantined and received guidance from the authorities to request, with the competent bodies, special authorisation for the players to have their situation regularised. It was a technical discussion between ANVISA, the Ministry of Health and the Argentine Association.

"After the meeting, when the athletes' presence was requested, the Health Surveillance agents were informed that the players had left for training, not complying with the instructions given during the meeting. The agency reported the non-compliance to the National Health Surveillance Agency and the Ministry of Health, responsible for analysing the request for exceptionality forwarded by CONMEBOL on behalf of the AFA.

"All these steps are described in detail by ANVISA in an official note published on Sunday, 5, and updated this Monday, 6, as complete at the end of this.

"On Sunday, 5th, this request had an official negative response, by the Ministry of Health to CONMEBOL, and the Argentine national team was notified, directly at Neo Quimica Arena, with enough time to adopt the necessary procedures.

"As for the information that circulated about the presence of CBF's Director of Competitions, Manoel Flores, at the Argentine delegation's hotel, CBF informs that he was in fact at the hotel on Saturday, around 3:00 pm, solely to talk about operational details of the game with the atache [member of the team organising the match] who accompanied the Argentine national team, remaining in place for about 15 minutes and not having dealt with any matter related to the Argentine players. Visiting the visiting delegation's hotel is a regular routine in every gaming operation.

"The CBF further clarifies that it strictly fulfilled its institutional role as the game's host entity, informing everyone involved in the game about the health laws in force in the country in a letter sent, through the General Secretariat of the entity, on July 5th, and later resubmitted on 11 August and 2 September.

"CBF reiterates that it defends the implementation of the most rigorous health protocols and complies with them in their entirety, both in the national territory and in countries where the Brazilian team acts as a visitor.

"The CBF also emphasises that at no time, through the interim President, Ednaldo Rodrigues, or its directors, interfered in any point related to the sanitary protocol established by the Brazilian authorities for the entry of people into the country. The role of the CBF was always in an attempt to promote understanding between the entities involved so that the sanitary protocols could be fulfilled satisfactorily and the game could be played."

Lionel Messi begins his latest quest for international glory on Monday when Argentina start their Copa America campaign against Chile.

Twice a losing finalist in 2015 and 2016 - each time to Chile - the Albiceleste came third at the tournament two years ago after losing in the semi-finals to Brazil.

While they did at least defeat La Roja in that bronze-medal match, those two penalty shoot-out losses were tough to swallow for Messi, who has been unable to match his remarkable club success for his country.

Only Uruguay (15) have won this tournament more often than Argentina (14), but their last title came in 1993 and they have lost four consecutive finals, having also been beaten in 2004 and 2007.

Argentina hold the records for both most goals scored (462) and most appearances (195) in the history of the Copa America and can at least feel buoyed by the fact they have not lost a match since that 2-0 defeat to Brazil in the last four in 2019.

They drew with Chile and Colombia in their most recent matches in World Cup qualifying, each time after taking the lead, but there appears to be a growing belief within the squad around coach Lionel Scaloni's ideas.

"The truth is the team is really well, the group is really well. We're getting to know each other more and consolidating the coaching staff's idea," Giovani Lo Celso said this week, as per Ole.

"As we know, all South American teams and matches are very difficult. It's all very balanced, very competitive and we know there are no easy games. It's going to be a very difficult group."

Chile's preparations were blighted by a foot injury suffered by Alexis Sanchez, with the Inter forward not now expected to be fit until the knockout phase.

They have only won three matches since the previous tournament and have only played three games this year under coach Martin Lasarte, who took charge in February.

 

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Argentina – Lionel Messi

Still the go-to star for Argentina 16 years after his debut, this year's Copa America and the 2022 World Cup look like being Messi's final chances for international glory.

He might be turning 34 this month, but his powers remain imperious: he was directly involved in 50 goals (38 scored, 12 assisted) in 47 games for Barcelona in 2020-21. Only three players in Europe's top-five leagues managed more.

Chile – Carlos Palacios

An unknown at senior tournament level, Carlos Palacios will be familiar to some crowds in Brazil, having joined Internacional on loan from Union Espanola this year.

Still awaiting a first start for his country, the 20-year-old could well be called upon in the absence of Sanchez as Chile bid to come through Group B games with Argentina, Bolivia, Uruguay and Paraguay.

 

KEY OPTA FACTS

- Argentina are unbeaten in their 28 Copa America clashes with Chile. Their 28 games are the most against a single opponent without defeat in their Copa America history.
- Chile's two Copa America titles came in consecutive editions – claiming glory in both the 2015 and 2016 tournaments.
- Argentina have beaten every single opponent in this year's Copa America more times than they have lost to them in tournament history.
- Chile made it at least to the quarter-finals in seven of the past eight editions.

Tottenham head coach Jose Mourinho said his struggling and fatigued Spurs are feeling the absence of Harry Kane and their key attackers after he suffered a career first on Thursday.

Spurs crashed to a 1-0 defeat to London rivals Chelsea in Premier League action at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, where Jorginho's first-half penalty settled the contest.

It was another toothless display from Tottenham, who were without Kane, Giovani Lo Celso and Sergio Reguilon, while Dele Alli remains out of favour following a failed attempt to join Ligue 1 champions Paris Saint-Germain on loan prior to the transfer window closing.

Mourinho – in his 327th home league match – suffered back-to-back league defeats on home soil for the first time in his career, while Spurs were condemned to three successive Premier League losses for the first time since November 2012.

As Spurs languish in eighth position and seven points adrift of the top four, Mourinho bemoaned his absentees and a hectic fixture list.

"Well, [Sergio] Reguilon means something for our attacking football," Mourinho told reporters. "Harry Kane means something for our attacking football. Giovani Lo Celso again means something for our attacking football.

"A good Dele Alli that we don’t have yet but hope that we can have in the future means something for us. It's not just what they mean, they mean that we don't have many options to rotate players and we finish with people with some signs of fatigue because of the accumulation of matches because we don't have so many players to rest. 

"The second thing is confidence. The confidence levels are very, very important to play football. When a team doesn't have good results, a period when results are not good, you need that click back to go back to normality. So, for me it's a little bit like that."

On rebuilding confidence after losses to Liverpool (3-1), Brighton and Hove Albion (1-0) and Chelsea, Mourinho added: "Look, I think we did that after Brighton because for me the Brighton defeat is a defeat like this one, 1-0, the same way.

"We managed in the group to change some things and I believe the reflection of the second half means something for me and I believe for the group. I don't like to speak about Harry Kane and company but they mean something also for the confidence of the players. The reality is that since Liverpool half-time, that is very difficult for us to connect certain dynamics. We tried without [Carlos] Vinicius against Brighton.

"We tried today with Vinicius and two up. We tried in the second half with him as a target man and two wingers and a No.10. We're trying to go on the search but I saw togetherness.  

"It's not easy to see togetherness with bad results, defeats, difficulties, injuries. Togetherness is very easy to show when you're on a high and winning matches, when everything is amazing. But in difficult moments it's more difficult to see that togetherness but I saw that in the second half. No doubts for me."

Despite Tottenham's desperate and unsuccessful search for an equaliser against Chelsea, star loanee Gareth Bale was snubbed again by Mourinho.

Bale was left among the substitutes – the Wales international has only featured in 230 minutes of Premier League action this season, with just two of his six appearances coming as starts under Mourinho.

Asked about Bale – on a season-long loan from Madrid, Mourinho replied: "I'm doing my best; he's doing his best. Everybody is doing their best."

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