Frank Lampard urged Chelsea's players to show "personal pride" and finish the season strongly as the club target Mauricio Pochettino to become their new head coach.

Injuries are set to keep Reece James and Mason Mount out of action for the rest of the season, Lampard revealed on Tuesday.

The loss of the England internationals comes as the latest blow in a wretched season for the club that has seen two head coaches, Thomas Tuchel and Graham Potter, lose their jobs.

Interim boss Lampard could also be replaced before the campaign ends, having overseen four defeats in four games since the club legend was asked to lead the team.

With Pochettino a firm contender to take charge, there may be a new man at the helm in the coming days or weeks.

What seems nigh-on certain is that Lampard will lead Chelsea in Wednesday's home game against fellow west London outfit Brentford.

The Bees are remarkably five points ahead of the wealthy Blues ahead of that fixture, and Lampard wants to see battling spirit from his 11th-placed side.

He broke the dismal news of the fresh injury setbacks at the beginning of Tuesday's pre-match press conference, saying: "Reece James is unavailable probably for the season, Mason Mount the same – potential for the last game of the season but probably not – so that's obviously disappointing for us.

"They're big players. Reece has a hamstring injury and Mason has been carrying this pelvic injury for quite a while. He's been trying typically, and medical staff have been trying, but we've got to the stage now where he will have minor surgery and then a four-week recovery."

Asked about the potential arrival of former Tottenham and Paris Saint-Germain boss Pochettino, Lampard said: "I'm not going to get involved in any future manager talk, because it's all speculation."

 

Lampard is unsure whether his short-term position will soon be affected by the club's efforts to appoint a coach, or whether he will continue to lead the team until the end of the season.

"I wouldn't expect anything in football, but I think it's very clear we've come into this club when it's in big difficulties," Lampard said.

He vowed he and his coaching staff would continue to try to draw the best from the expensively assembled Chelsea squad and called on the players to raise their games.

Two Champions League losses to Real Madrid and Premier League defeats to Wolves and Brighton have made it a disappointing start for Lampard.

"I have a big link to this club and pride, and so should the players," Lampard said, when asked whether Chelsea's season was effectively over.

"If you want to take it down your route, it's over, but on my route it's absolutely not over.

"I don't have a mentality that there's nothing to play for. I was fortunate to be a part of teams that were challenging normally for stuff towards the end of the season, but that's not a given. It's important that if you have a long career you won't compete absolutely every season, it's not a given.

"It comes down to your personal pride, responsibility, wearing the shirt. We've got seven games, four against the top four, three away from home.

"The run-in's really tough, there's no doubt about that. There's always something on those games. I understand that and the players have to understand that."

The race for Jude Bellingham's signature continues, with Liverpool having pulled out last week.

Numerous top clubs are keen on the 19-year-old England international who is contracted with Borussia Dortmund until 2025.

Bellingham signed his initial deal with Dortmund in 2020 but is set for a major pay rise if he moves or pens fresh terms.

TOP STORY – MADRID TO USE DIAZ IN BELLINGHAM DEAL

Real Madrid are plotting a potential player swap-plus-cash deal to land Jude Bellingham in the off-season, according to Cadena SER.

Los Blancos are investigating potentially using Brahim Diaz, currently on loan at Milan, in a deal to help reduce Dortmund's reported €150 million asking price.

Madrid are currently in the process of extending the stays of veteran midfielders Luka Modric and Toni Kroos.

ROUND-UP

- Manchester City are preparing a new contract offer for Erling Haaland to ward off rivals interest from top clubs such as Real Madrid, claims The Athletic.

- Rafael Leao wants to stay with Milan following interest from Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain, according to Manchester Evening News.

- Newcastle United have established contact with Ousmane Dembele's representatives to discuss a move for the Barcelona winger, claims 90min.

- Arsenal and Newcastle United are both interested in Bayer Leverkusen winger Moussa Diaby, per Le10Sport.

- The Telegraph reports Chelsea have opted against pursing Luis Enrique as their new manager, instead turning their attention to former Tottenham and Paris Saint-Germain boss Mauricio Pochettino. The Guardian claims Julian Nagelsmann remains Chelsea's top candidate.

- Tottenham will swoop on Chelsea's decision and look to appoint Enrique as Antonio Conte's replacement, according to The Express.

Mauricio Pochettino is the ideal man to take over at Chelsea in the eyes of Gary Neville.

The Blues are on the hunt for a new boss for the second time this season, having axed Graham Potter less than seven months after he succeeded Thomas Tuchel at Stamford Bridge.

Chelsea's defeat to Aston Villa proved to be the straw that broke the camel's back for Potter, the result sending the Blues into the bottom half of the Premier League standings and way off the pace in the hunt for European football next season.

Inconsistent form plagued Potter's reign in west London, with results not improving significantly after Todd Boehly splashed the cash in a mega spending spree in the January window.

Those mid-season recruits have somewhat complicated matters moving forward, with further spending likely to be restricted moving forward, meaning a new boss will likely have to deal with the hand he is dealt.

For that reason, Neville believes former Tottenham boss Pochettino is the ideal fit due to his experience in managing younger players.

"Based on what Boehly has said, Chelsea have done their spending for the next three years - apart from signing a centre forward," Neville told Sky Sports' Monday Night Football.

"If they appoint Zidane, Enrique or Diego Simeone, they're going to want to have another £300m as they won't like some of the players they've previously signed.

"They've got to appoint a manager who is going to inherit and like the squad that they've got, a lot of them are young, and I think that man is Mauricio Pochettino."

Chelsea sacked Graham Potter on Sunday after barely seven months as their manager.

Potter, who took over from Thomas Tuchel in September, led the Blues to 12 wins, eight draws and 11 defeats.

His demise comes amid numerous changes of managers at Premier League clubs, with Tottenham last week parting with Antonio Conte.

TOP STORY – CHELSEA APPROACH TOP CANDIDATE NAGELSMANN

Chelsea have identified ex-Bayern Munich head coach Julian Nagelsmann as their top candidate and approached him already, claims Fabrizio Romano.

Romano said talks will be ongoing before a final decision, while he added the Blues hierarchy are admirers of Sporting boss Ruben Amorim.

However, Sky Sports Germany claims Nagelsmann is not interested in taking over at Chelsea.

TalkSPORT claims the dismissed Potter could be offered an immediate return to management by Leicester City who sacked Brendan Rodgers earlier on Sunday.

 

ROUND-UP

– AS claims that Paris Saint-Germain winger Kylian Mbappe has told the Real Madrid board that he intends to join Los Blancos as a free agent in 2024. According to the report, Madrid are not willing to negotiate a transfer fee with PSG, following their long-running interest in Mbappe, with the player needing to get out of his contract to move to the Spanish capital.

Liverpool will consider an off-season move for Chelsea midfielder Conor Gallagher, reports The Independent.

– Fichajes claims Liverpool are also weighing up a surprise move for Real Madrid midfielder Eduardo Camavinga.

– Football Insider claims Arsenal have identified three midfield targets in Everton's Amadou Onana, West Ham's Declan Rice and Brighton and Hove Albion's Moises Caicedo.

Manchester United's hopes of signing Eintracht Frankfurt forward Randal Kolo Muani have been set back with the Frenchman keen to join Bayern Munich in the off-season.

Just 206 days after Chelsea owner Todd Boehly assured the world that incoming head coach Graham Potter would be given time at Chelsea, the American decided to terminate the former Brighton and Hove Albion boss' contract.

That is fewer days in charge than any permanent manager/head coach at Stamford Bridge during the Roman Abramovich era, but it was not a decision taken without reason.

Chelsea sit 11th in the Premier League, with 38 points from 28 games their worst total at this stage since the 1994-95 season (36), while the Blues are in the bottom half of the table after at least 28 games for the first time since 1995-96, when they finished 11th.

Potter won just 12 of his 31 games in charge after arriving from Brighton in September (D8 L11), ultimately paying the price after Chelsea's dismal 2-0 home defeat to Aston Villa on Saturday.

So who will Boehly turn to next having given up on the Potter project? Stats Perform has taken a look at some of the early favourites.

Julian Nagelsmann

The German will probably have been the first name many thought of when news of Potter's sacking broke on Sunday, with Nagelsmann facing the same fate at Bayern Munich just a few days prior.

It would be somewhat of a coincidence given the 35-year-old was replaced at Bayern by former Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel, who had been replaced at Stamford Bridge by Potter.

Nagelsmann has been one of the most highly-rated young coaches in Europe since his work at Hoffenheim, where he boasted a record of 55 wins from 136 games (40 per cent), before upping that win percentage at RB Leipzig to 57 (54 wins from 95 games).

That was enough to convince Bayern he should replace Hansi Flick in July 2021, but despite winning the Bundesliga in what proved to be his only full season at the Allianz Arena, and reaching the quarter-finals of this season's Champions League, the club removed him.

Several of his former players at Bayern praised him in the days since, but you do wonder if someone who was not deemed a good fit at a similarly sized and demanding club would be a good fit for Chelsea.

 

Brendan Rodgers

The former Liverpool and Leicester City boss was sacked by the Foxes just hours before Potter got his marching orders, and on paper it doesn't sound like it would be much of an improvement.

Rodgers almost won the Premier League title with Liverpool in 2013-14 before his team regressed the following season after selling Luis Suarez, but he repaired his reputation at the King Power Stadium.

He won the FA Cup in 2020-21, beating Chelsea 1-0 in the final, and ended his time with the Foxes with a record of 92 wins from 204 games (D42 L70), a win percentage of 45.

Rodgers did learn the ropes as a youth coach at Chelsea though, and is arguably more of the same should Boehly still like the idea of a Potter-type of coach who favours a mix of pressing and possession.

It does feel like a job a bit beyond the 50-year-old, though it was not that long ago that some pundits were suggesting Arsenal should sack Mikel Arteta and hire Rodgers. Football, eh?

Mauricio Pochettino

The Argentinian was a very popular figure during his time at Tottenham, and he has been strongly linked with succeeding Antonio Conte at his former club.

Pochettino may not have won a trophy at Spurs, but he presided over two title challenges and the run to the 2019 Champions League final, which resulted in a 2-0 defeat to Liverpool.

His five-year reign included 113 wins from 202 Premier League games, a points-per-game (PPG) average of 1.89, before he was eventually dismissed by chairman Daniel Levy after appearing to take the club as far as he could.

Pochettino landed at Paris Saint-Germain, where he won a Ligue 1 title as well as a Coupe de France and Trophee des Champions, but failures in the Champions League and losing out on the 2020-21 French title to Lille were low points, albeit he only took over halfway through that season.

He is therefore perhaps more suited to more of an underdog than one that operates in the way Chelsea does.

On the other hand, perhaps he could tempt Harry Kane across London.

Luis Enrique

The former Real Madrid and Barcelona player most recently won 27 of 48 games as Spain head coach, but international football can be a different world to the top-level club game.

Luis Enrique was very successful in his last club job at Barca, though it admittedly helped having a front three of Lionel Messi, Suarez and Neymar all at their peak.

He won two LaLiga titles, three Copa del Rey crowns, a Supercopa de Espana, a European Super Cup and a Club World Cup, as well as the 2014-15 Champions League as part of a historic treble.

Overall, Luis Enrique won 87 of his 114 LaLiga games (2.4 PPG), and has shown that he can take a team of superstars and get plenty out of them while managing egos.

However, the fact he has not had a club job since 2017 might be seen as problematic by some fans, while it could also be argued he underachieved with Spain.

Roberto De Zerbi

It would really be a kick in the teeth for Brighton to have Chelsea take another of their head coaches so soon after luring Potter away, but on paper, this could make all the sense in the world for the Blues.

Potter earned the Chelsea gig from the fantastic work he did on the south coast, with De Zerbi replacing him as Seagulls boss after his departure.

The Italian has taken Brighton to another level since his arrival, with the club remarkably still in with a reasonable chance of finishing in the European spots, and perhaps even the top four.

De Zerbi has averaged 1.50 points per game, winning eight of his 20 league games in charge, as well as guiding Brighton to the FA Cup semi-finals.

Having De Zerbi develop the foundations laid by Potter could work twice, though it would likely cost Chelsea a fortune to find out, not that that usually deters them.

Harry Kane's future at Tottenham remains in limbo, given his contract status and the departure of Antonio Conte.

The 29-year-old forward, who recently became Spurs' all-time leading scorer, is out of contract in 2024.

Kane has previously spoken about his desire to contend for silverware and almost joined Manchester City in 2021.

TOP STORY – MAN UTD SANCTION KANE MOVE

The Manchester United bosses have sanctioned a potential £80million deal for Tottenham striker Harry Kane, reports the Daily Star.

United are ready to ramp up their interest in the England captain, who has interest from Bayern Munich, Barcelona and Chelsea.

The report claims United hope to get the jump on their rivals and open up talks soon, with a view to having a deal agreed with Kane within weeks.

 

ROUND-UP

– The Times reports Bayern Munich want to sign Chelsea midfielder Mason Mount who previously worked with the German champions' new boss Thomas Tuchel.

Arsenal are circling for Eintracht Frankfurt's Danish midfielder Jesper Lindstrom who may be available for €30m, reports Sport1.

– The Mirror claims Liverpool have joined the battle to sign Evan Ndicka from Eintracht Frankfurt as a free agent in the off-season.

– Barcelona may cash in on Samuel Umtiti's revival on loan at Lecce and look to recoup a transfer fee this off-season according to SPORT.

– Sky Italy claims former Real Madrid boss and France World Cup winner Zinedine Zidane is on Tottenham's shortlist to replace Conte, along with Mauricio Pochettino, Julian Nagelsmann and Luis Enrique.

With Antonio Conte expected to leave Tottenham by the end of the week, attention is already turning to who might be next to try their hand at what continues to look a near-impossible job.

Spurs are a big club with a fabulous stadium, passionate fanbase and talented squad.

Despite the relative success of Harry Redknapp and Mauricio Pochettino in the last two decades, as well as investing in high-profile bosses Jose Mourinho and Conte, none have been able to bring silverware to the north London club.

The only trophy Spurs have claimed since the turn of the century was the EFL Cup in 2007-08, and any new manager/head coach will be tasked with ending that drought as soon as possible, as well as ensuring another season of Champions League football.

Stats Perform looks at some of the early favourites, with Conte seemingly on the brink.

Mauricio Pochettino

The Argentinian was a very popular figure during his time at White Hart Lane – and subsequently Wembley and Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.

Pochettino may not have won a trophy, but he presided over two title challenges and the run to the 2019 Champions League final, which resulted in a 2-0 defeat to Liverpool.

He mostly got the best out of his players, too, and took many of them to another level.

His five-year reign included 113 wins from 202 Premier League games, a points-per-game (PPG) average of 1.89, very slightly higher than Conte's 1.88 (32 wins from 56 games).

Pochettino was eventually dismissed by chairman Daniel Levy after appearing to take the club as far as he could, so going back to him when still looking someone to take them to the next level might be a little backwards.

He would likely be a popular choice with the fans, though, and should at the very least provide some stability. Perhaps crucially, he might also be their best bet in convincing Harry Kane to stay.

Ryan Mason

It wouldn't technically be a return for Mason as he never actually left, taking on a first-team coach role after the end of his interim spell at the helm following the sacking of Mourinho in April 2021.

His second game in charge was a 1-0 defeat to Manchester City in the EFL Cup final, but Mason arguably did well considering his lack of experience.

Given he only took charge of six matches, it seems a little pointless to stake a claim for Mason based on his own PPG record (2.0).

But the former Spurs midfielder is the heavy favourite for the job, even if only on a short-term basis again.

Similarly to Pochettino, the thinking behind that choice would most likely be stability and that decision makers at the club may feel the players are likely to respond positively to someone they already know.

Unless he performs spectacularly, appointing Mason would probably be followed by a full-time hire at the end of the season.

Thomas Tuchel

While Tuchel would be yet another former Chelsea boss taking the reins, following in the footsteps of Glenn Hoddle, Andre Villas-Boas, Mourinho and Conte, it's hard to argue with his credentials.

The German won 35 of 63 Premier League games with the Blues, a PPG average of 1.94, as well as winning the Champions League in 2021.

Considering Spurs are eager to win a first trophy since 2008, the fact Tuchel guided Chelsea to five finals – including the 2021 Club World Cup – in less than two years will no doubt appeal, even if he did lose three of them.

Tuchel reportedly left Stamford Bridge partly due to a disagreement on transfers with owner Todd Boehly, which may not bode well given Conte's consistent complaining about the way Spurs work in the market.

Either way, the man who shared a furious handshake with Conte earlier this season could well be the same person to replace the Italian in the Spurs dugout.

 

Luis Enrique

The former Real Madrid and Barcelona player most recently won 27 of 48 games as Spain head coach, but international football can be a different world to the top-level club game.

Luis Enrique was very successful in his last club job at Barca, though it admittedly helped having a front three of Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar all at their peak.

He won two LaLiga titles, three Copa del Rey crowns, a Supercopa de Espana, a European Super Cup and a Club World Cup, as well as the 2014-15 Champions League as part of a historic treble.

Overall, Luis Enrique won 87 of his 114 LaLiga games (2.4 PPG), but it is difficult to compare this to counterparts at Spurs given Barca's relative dominance in Spain.

His record at Roma earlier in his career could be a better barometer, winning 16 of his 38 Serie A games in charge of the Giallorossi (1.5 PPG), before winning 14 of 38 LaLiga matches as head coach of Celta Vigo (1.3 PPG) before heading to Camp Nou. But how relevant are these spells now given he left Balaidos nine years ago?

Similarly, the fact he's not had a club job since 2017 might be seen as problematic by some fans, while it could also be argued he underachieved with Spain.

Roberto De Zerbi

De Zerbi has made his mark on the Premier League very quickly since replacing Graham Potter at Brighton and Hove Albion in September.

Brighton have thrived and find themselves in a genuine fight for Europe, with a top-four finish not out of the question at this stage as they sit seven points behind fourth-placed Spurs with three games in hand.

De Zerbi has won eight of his 19 Premier League games, while the Seagulls rank second in the Premier League for passing accuracy (86.9 per cent), average possession (62.1 per cent) and passes per sequence (4.5). They are also third for goals (35) and fifth for passes played into the opposition's box since his first game, highlighting an attack-minded approach that would certainly be appreciated by a frustrated Spurs fanbase.

Getting him out of Brighton will be easier said than done, however, having already lost one head coach this season, not to mention their renown for getting a good deal – Potter reportedly cost Chelsea £21.5million.

Spurs will almost certainly have to pay through the nose or look elsewhere.

Oliver Glasner

A surprise name that has emerged in recent days is that of Eintracht Frankfurt head coach Oliver Glasner, who impressed so many by leading the Bundesliga club to Europa League success last season.

Glasner made a promising start to his coaching career in his native Austria with Ried and LASK, before guiding Wolfsburg to seventh and fourth-placed finishes in the German top-flight.

He then made the switch to Eintracht ahead of the 2021-22 season. He could only guide them to 11th in the Bundesliga, winning just three of their 17 games in the second half of the campaign, but this came amid the backdrop of Europa League glory, eliminating Real Betis, Barcelona and West Ham before beating Rangers in the final on penalties.

Some reports suggest Levy has already contacted Glasner, whose contract expires in 2024.

This season, Eintracht sit sixth in the league and were recently knocked out of the Champions League last 16 by Napoli.

Mauricio Pochettino would be making a mistake by going back to Tottenham as Jamie Carragher believes a second Spurs stint would be akin to Kevin Keegan's Newcastle United return.

Pressure is building on Tottenham coach Antonio Conte after a desperate run that has ended their hopes of winning silverware this season.

After back-to-back Premier League victories lifted Spurs into the top four, they crashed out of the FA Cup at Sheffield United, lost at Wolves in the league and then exited the Champions League following a dismal goalless draw against Milan.

With Conte's contract up at the end of the season, it appears likely the former Juventus, Chelsea and Inter boss will soon be departing Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.

Pochettino, who spent five years at the club, would be a popular appointment for many fans, and he remains out of work after leaving Paris Saint-Germain.

But Liverpool legend Carragher sees concerning parallels with Keegan's 2008 homecoming at Newcastle, where he soon left following a dispute with owner Mike Ashley.

"Never go back. That is what they say in football," Carragher wrote in The Telegraph.

"Mauricio Pochettino would be wise to remember that if he is tempted to return to Tottenham Hotspur.

"Don't do it, Poch. All parties need to move on. Comebacks are usually more romantic than logical.

"Pochettino may see Spurs as the best chance to return to the Premier League. Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy could curry favour with the supporters by re-appointing a popular ex-manager.

"They must know how rarely old magic is recreated in football."

While noting Carlo Ancelotti has enjoyed a successful second spell at Real Madrid and Jose Mourinho won the title after rejoining Chelsea, Carragher added: "Pochettino returning to Spurs would be like Kevin Keegan going back to Newcastle United.

"Like Keegan's Newcastle in the mid-90s, Pochettino's Tottenham charmed neutrals without winning trophies.

"Keegan's re-appointment in 2008 was greeted like the second coming, but he walked into different conditions and was gone eight months later."

Tottenham finished second under Pochettino in 2016-17, their best performance since the 1960s, and also came third twice.

He was unable to end their wait for silverware, however, losing in the Champions League final in 2019 and EFL Cup final in 2015.

Angel Di Maria's time in Europe may be winding down, with his Juventus contract expiring at the end of this season.

The winger, who turned 35 last week, is yet to agree an extension with the Bianconeri, sparking talk he may opt to return to his homeland.

However, the 2022 World Cup winner recently said he was "happy" in Turin, and in Europe, without committing to any direction beyond this season.

 

TOP STORY – BARCELONA PLOT BID FOR FREE AGENT DI MARIA

Barcelona are weighing up a shock bid to land Angel Di Maria as a free agent at the end of this season, claims Tuttomercatoweb.

Di Maria has previously expressed his desire to one day join hometown club Rosario Central but, at 35, may be tempted by another stint at the top level.

Atletico Madrid are also believed to be interested in the former Real Madrid, Manchester United and Paris-Saint-Germain winger.

 

ROUND-UP

Bayern Munich will provide opposition to Paris Saint-Germain and attempt to sign Chelsea winger Hakim Ziyech, claims Fichajes.

PSG are keen to bring in Manchester United starlet Alejandro Garnacho, according to Mundo Deportivo. United are trying to extend the 18-year-old Argentinian's contract, which expires in 2024.

Real Madrid are interested in Khvicha Kvaratskhelia, but Napoli will not sell him for a price lower than €100m, claims Diario AS.

Newcastle United are monitoring the status of Arsenal's Kiernan Tierney, who has fallen behind Oleksandr Zinchenko as their preferred left-back, according to Football Insider.

Arsenal are front-runners in the pursuit to sign Inter defender Denzel Dumfries, reports Tuttosport. The Gunners have moved ahead of both Chelsea and Manchester United in the race for the Dutchman's signature.

– Fichajes reports that Zinedine Zidane, Mauricio Pochettino, Diego Simeone and Luis Enrique are all on Chelsea's shortlist to replace under-pressure manager Graham Potter, although The Mirror claims owner Todd Boehly has no intention of sacking him yet.

The discussion over Lionel Messi's defensive work is "almost silly", according to his former coach at Paris Saint-Germain Mauricio Pochettino.

Messi's Argentina will appear in their sixth World Cup final on Sunday against France, aiming to get their hands on the trophy for the first time since 1986.

Messi will claim the World Cup appearance record outright by playing his 26th and likely final game at the tournament, while he could become the first player to record 20 goal contributions in the competition (currently 11 goals, eight assists).

The Argentina captain started the tournament slowly, with some observers criticising his work rate, but he has shone in the knockout stage.

Former Albiceleste international Pochettino, who coached Messi at PSG until his dismissal earlier this year, scoffed at those concerns and compared Messi to two icons of the game not renowned for their defensive work.

"Honestly, I think the debate about Messi's defensive work is so stale, almost silly," he wrote in The Athletic.

"You cannot pretend that [Diego] Maradona or Pele — along with Messi, the most important players in football — were focused on trying to win the ball back. He can't participate in that. He just needs the others to run for him.

"He doesn't need to press. When you have Messi, you need the other players to understand that they have to get the ball and give it to him so he can conserve his energy and then be decisive, as shown."

 

Argentina's run to the final has not been all about Messi, though, with Lionel Scaloni's side proving resolute in defence.  

They have restricted their opponents to just 5.7 shots per game – fewer than any other side. Indeed, they have not faced above 0.6 expected goals against in any of their six games so far.

Pochettino believes that defensive solidity and work ethic has been crucial in allowing Messi to flourish. 

"Of course, Argentina need Messi, but Messi needs the other 10 players to fight for him at all times," he added. "That's one of the keys to this team: they all believe that playing for Messi, they can win the World Cup.

"You can see that the players give 120 per cent to achieve this. Different players: [Rodrigo] De Paul, [Alexis] Mac Allister, [Enzo] Fernandez, [Julian] Alvarez, they give everything they have and more, and they do it for Messi.

"They give everything because it's their dream, they are so close, and when they have Messi, they know that everything is possible.

"That's the most important thing about this Argentina team, and the reason why they are in the final. It's because the players fully understand their role. When you have Messi in your team, you have to run for him.

"And when you have the ball, you have to give it to him as soon as possible so that he can create something. So, the players know what they have to do at all times: to give Messi everything he needs to be decisive."

The prospect of England appointing a foreign manager if Gareth Southgate leaves the role is "unacceptable", according to his predecessor Sam Allardyce. 

Southgate's future as England manager is uncertain following the Three Lions' 2-1 World Cup quarter-final loss against France.

He remains under contact until the end of Euro 2024 but has indicated he will make a decision on his future after Christmas.

The likes of Mauricio Pochettino and Thomas Tuchel have been touted as potential replacements if Southgate does depart, but Allardyce is against the appointment of a non-British coach.

"It can't happen, not again. There are enough qualified British managers in this country to pick the right man," Allardyce, who led England for one game in 2016, told Sky Sports.

"I just don't see it. I think it would be a massive knock-back for our country, and a massive knock-back for young managers trying to make their way.

"It's hard enough to get in the Premier League as a British manager, but to think that it's taken away from you to become the national team's coach… I think it's unacceptable, personally."

Fellow former England boss Fabio Capello said Southgate should stay on if he has the full support of the squad on Tuesday, and while Allardyce concurs, he would understand if Southgate opted to step down.

"How long do you want to put up with that scrutiny and that pressure? Lots of managers will leave their positions at the end of the World Cup," Allardyce said.

"While it's an experience and a job you could never turn down, not in my opinion anyway, there's a time when you have gone through the mill enough.

"I think this squad is good enough for him to think: 'I need to carry on because I think we could win the Euros'.

"But there is the other side of it to consider: 'how much more pressure do I want to continue to cope with, and is it time for me to bow out?'"

England's hopes of reaching the final four were dashed when Harry Kane blazed an 84th-minute penalty over the crossbar, having converted from the spot earlier in the second half.

Allardyce does not believe the presence of Kane's Tottenham team-mate Hugo Lloris in the France goal impacted his miss, putting it down to the pressure of the moment. 

"I don't get any of that rubbish about Lloris sussing him out because they play for the same club. It was the pure pressure of the event," he added.

"He strikes a penalty so well normally, and if he struck it as well as he did the first one, Lloris would have had no chance.

"I always said from the start that we had the strongest squad in this World Cup, and I still believe that. The biggest regret is that this competition only arrives once every four years."

Harry Kane and Kylian Mbappe would be "completely compatible" as a strike partnership and Mauricio Pochettino would love to see it happen, he revealed ahead of England's World Cup clash with France.

Pochettino has coached both players, as boss of Tottenham and Paris Saint-Germain, and would love to work with Kane again one day, should the England captain seek to leave Spurs.

Argentinian Pochettino will be a neutral when England and France go head-to-head at Al Bayt Stadium on Saturday, but his experience of coaching the two chief goal threats on each side means he has a vested interest.

He says both Kane and Mbappe "genuinely love the game", unlike some players he has come across.

"They love to talk about football, they love to talk about tactics, they have brains that really understand football. And this is why I think it would be so good to see them playing together. They would be completely compatible," Pochettino said.

He predicted an "amazing" connection, but stressed: "Maybe it will never happen; when I was at PSG, I knew Tottenham would never want to sell Harry."

Pochettino is not working as a coach in this instant, but he is regularly linked with top jobs when vacancies arise, and he said that "maybe one day in the future, if I am at a different club, and if Harry has decided to leave Tottenham, maybe I would try to bring Harry with me".

He credits Kane as having "saved my career" with a free-kick winner for Tottenham at Aston Villa in November 2014, and recalled nurturing the talent of "an old-fashioned number nine" to become the multi-faceted striker the England skipper is now.

Pochettino told The Athletic he and his coaching staff helped Kane "to run, helped him to press, and to move into different areas, using different spaces on the pitch.

"So he was a player who could play in the box or outside it, because his capacity to understand the game is amazing. He senses what the team needs, and when it’s under pressure he can drop into midfield, to help the team to progress the ball up the pitch or to provide assists.

"And if Harry drops into those positions in the World Cup quarter-final on Saturday, it will be difficult for France to stop."

 

Pochettino says that "constantly" dipping into midfield duties can also be a problem for Kane, given it blunts his frontline threat, and urged him to prioritise his work inside the penalty area.

Mbappe is the World Cup's leading scorer with five goals at Qatar 2022, and the 23-year-old has been in revelatory form, bringing his peak PSG game to the international stage.

Although Mbappe might rub some up the wrong way with his showmanship and imperious personality, Pochettino says it is "impossible not to" have a big ego when a footballer is given such acclaim, and he stressed the former Monaco player is "arrogant in the right, in the best way"

Offering high praise, Pochettino likened Mbappe to the great Brazilian Ronaldo, top scorer at the 2002 World Cup for the triumphant Selecao.

"It's in that capacity to accelerate, the technique, to dribble past opponents and score," Pochettino said.

 

Mauricio Pochettino insists Kylian Mbappe is not a difficult player to coach and believes the Paris Saint-Germain and France forward will learn to "manage himself" as he matures.

Pochettino spent 18 months working with Mbappe before leaving the Parc des Princes in July, leading the Parisian giants to the Ligue 1 title and the Coupe de France.  

However, much of Pochettino's time at PSG was marred by reports of rifts between high-profile players, while some claiming the club gave Mbappe excessive influence over their strategy when he rejected a move to Real Madrid to sign a new three-year contract in May.

Asked whether managing Mbappe had been challenging, Pochettino told the BBC: "He's 23 and already won the World Cup, he's an amazing talent. 

"The problem is sometimes you need to manage yourself because we are talking about a top three, top five best player in the world.

"It's not easy for him to manage himself because he's not mature enough, he's still a child. 

"But I think he's doing well. Sometimes people talk too much, but I don't think it's like this."

The prolific Mbappe scored a sublime double in France's 3-0 World Cup round of 16 win over Poland on Sunday and is leading the race for the Golden Boot with five goals.

Mbappe recorded 60 goal contributions in 46 appearances under Pochettino last season (39 goals, 21 assists) – more than any other player in Europe's top five leagues.

 

Harry Kane's lack of goals at the World Cup does not worry his former Tottenham boss Mauricio Pochettino, who believes the striker's creative prowess can help England go far in Qatar.

Despite England scoring nine times in three Group B fixtures, Kane is yet to net at the tournament, with the likes of Marcus Rashford and Bukayo Saka instead providing the Three Lions' main goal threat from wide positions.

Kane has, however, recorded three assists at the tournament, becoming the first England player to do so at a single World Cup since David Beckham in 2002.

Asked about Kane's form by Sky Sports, Pochettino highlighted the England captain's creative contribution while also backing him to find his shooting boots in the knockout stages. 

"I think Harry can provide good assists and score goals," Pochettino said. "I would rather Kane scores the decisive goals, rather than in a result where England can beat the opponent by five or six. 

"Harry's focus is great, he's one of the best strikers in the world and I'm sure that he's going to score.

"He's capable of everything. In my second conversation with him, I said 'you could play centre-back, full-back, midfielder… out wide.'

"Goalkeeper? No, once, I remember in a Europa League game [for Spurs against Asteras Tripolis in 2014], he was a disaster in goal and made a mistake. The rest of the positions, yes.

"Harry Kane is a player who is so clever, now he reads the game and knows when the game needs him to drop, or when it needs him to be up front. He's a player that can do everything." 

Tuesday's 3-0 win over Wales ensured England topped their World Cup group for the first time since 2006, and Pochettino says no team will relish the prospect of facing the Three Lions.

Asked whether England would fear a potential fixture against holders France or pre-tournament favourites Brazil, he added: "For France, it's no different. 

"Their team can be in trouble if they face England also. England have the quality to be one of the national teams with the possibility to win, I saw a really, really good performance last night. 

"The quality is there. I really believe that, this year, England can fight to try to lift the World Cup."

England will face Senegal for a place in the World Cup quarter-finals on Sunday. The Three Lions are unbeaten in their seven previous meetings with African nations in the competition (W4 D3), beating Cameroon after extra-time in their only previous such game in the knockout stages, in 1990.

Mauricio Pochettino has hinted Kylian Mbappe may need to leave his Paris Saint-Germain "comfort zone" to develop into a Ballon d'Or contender.

World Cup winner Mbappe, who will look to help France defend their crown in Qatar, has repeatedly been linked with a move away from the Parc des Princes to Real Madrid.

The Spanish and European champions appeared set to lure Mbappe to Madrid on a free transfer ahead of the 2022-23 season, only for the forward to sign a bumper three-year extension with PSG in May.

Further uncertainty clouded the 23-year-old's future as fresh reports of discontent emerged in October, though Mbappe assured his commitment remains in the French capital.

Yet, former PSG coach Mauricio Pochettino suggested the ex-Monaco attacker might have to move on to fully realise his world-class potential.

Pochettino told Spanish newspaper El Pais: "He may be a leader because everyone sees him as the best striker in the world, but today the Ballon d'Or has been won by Benzema, who is French like him. The evolution of Mbappe comes from leaving the comfort zone.

"Renewing for PSG is good for the club and its fans. But Mbappe in the future will have to consider that leaving his comfort zone will bring him closer to fighting for the Ballon d'Or."

Mbappe has found the net 19 times in 20 appearances for PSG this term, a tally only bettered by Manchester City's Erling Haaland (23) among players in Europe's top five leagues.

The PSG star became just the second teenager to score in a World Cup final (after Pele in 1958) at his first major international tournament in 2018, though Pochettino believes Mbappe is still "immature".

"Mbappe is younger than [Lionel Messi and Neymar] and still immature," Pochettino said. "But he has won a World Cup. He is an animal, he has great charisma but still needs to find himself.

"Leo and Ney are total players, they are more responsible although in different ways."

Mbappe will hope to fire France to more World Cup glory as Les Bleus start their campaign in the Middle East against Australia in Tuesday's Group D clash.

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