Chelsea’s Maurizio Sarri ‘not interested’ in Andreas Christensen quit threat

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The FC crew question if the tactics employed by Maurizio Sarri and Jose Mourinho will lead to an entertaining fixture at Stamford Bridge.
ESPN FC’s Steve Nicol sifts through the latest rumours involving Antonio Conte, Neymar, Olivier Giroud and more.
Stevie Nicol and Mark Donaldson give their picks for this weekend’s Premier League fixtures including the headliner of Chelsea vs. Manchester United.

LONDON — Chelsea manager Maurizio Sarri has said he is “not interested” in the threat that Andreas Christensen could ask for a transfer in January if he does not play more, but added that the defender has a future at Stamford Bridge.

Christensen’s father and agent Sten told Danish television on Friday that his son does not want to leave Chelsea on loan again and will seek a permanent exit if his opportunities do not increase.

Sarri has employed a back four and returned David Luiz to the starting XI alongside Antonio Rudiger, leaving Christensen — who broke into the team at the expense of Luiz under Antonio Conte last season — out.

But speaking in a news conference ahead of Chelsea’s clash with Manchester United on Saturday, the manager said: “The father? I’m not interested… the father? No.

“What can I say? I think that, in the first part of the season, David Luiz and Antonio Rudiger have played really very well, so it’s not easy to change.

“I think, also, that in our last six matches, Christensen has played in three of them. So I think for his father, maybe the Europa League is not important. But for us, it’s important.”

Christensen has voiced frustration at the situation, describing his lack of minutes under Sarri as “very difficult.”

Sarri, however, stressed that he rates the 22-year-old highly and intends to involve him more as the season progresses.

“He is very young,” the Italian added. “I think he has to improve. But I think that he’s a technical defender, so I think he is suitable for me and my way of football. I think that, in the future, he will be available to play very often.”

In an interview with Danish television, Sten Christensen said he did not consider a loan move in the New Year to be a viable option.

“If his situation doesn’t change around Christmas, we’ll obviously schedule a chat with Chelsea and say: ‘OK, what can we do for Andreas? Can we move him?'” he said.

“For me, it’s not a loan again. Either it’s Chelsea or else he needs to leave. I don’t think a loan is the optimal situation for Andreas. It’s sort of either or.

“I think, unfortunately, Chelsea have too many players who just go out on loan if they aren’t going to use them, and I don’t think Andreas should get caught in that.

“I’m of the conviction that we’ll attempt to move Andreas in the winter time [if he is not playing]. Around Christmas, something else needs to happen.”

Christensen has come closer than any Chelsea academy graduate since John Terry to establishing himself as a regular, starting 23 Premier League matches last season at the heart of a back three.

Selling him would be a difficult decision for Chelsea, particularly given that Luiz, keeping him out of the team, is 32 in April and out of contract in June.



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In form Eden Hazard can show Man United first hand the superstar they missed out on in 2012

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The guys react to Eden Hazard’s comments about playing for Real Madrid and wonder if Chelsea should begin to make preparations for his departure.
Paul Mariner rates the sensibility of the latest transfer links, including potential comings and goings at Chelsea and Manchester United.
Eden Hazard’s performances at Chelsea are making him a target for bigger European clubs, according to former Chelsea midfielder Michael Essien.

When Eden Hazard was weighing up his options after deciding to leave Lille for the Premier League in the summer of 2012, Sir Alex Ferguson made what he thought would be the clinching pitch in terms of persuading the Belgian winger to join Manchester United.

Ferguson, who knew that Manchester City and Chelsea were also battling to sign Hazard, told the then-21-year-old that he would turn him into a world star, citing the example of Cristiano Ronaldo, who had arrived at Old Trafford as a teenager eight years earlier. Hazard was told by Ferguson that nobody could match his or United’s track record when it came to polishing rough diamonds, but despite the big sell, the player chose to reject both United and City in order to sign for Chelsea.

It was a surprise choice. City were the newly crowned Premier League champions and United were still the big draw they had always been under Ferguson, but the lure of London — sources at City and United suggested at the time that only Chelsea were prepared to meet Hazard’s wage demands — proved too great and Hazard headed for Stamford Bridge.

United and Ferguson quickly overcame the disappointment of missing out on Hazard by signing Robin van Persie from Arsenal later that summer and, with the Dutchman’s goals proving so crucial in helping United reclaim the title, Chelsea’s gain did not feel too much like United’s loss initially. But six years on, not only have Chelsea proved to be the big winners from the Hazard pursuit in 2012, Ferguson’s vision of the player’s potential has also been borne out.

Ronaldo and Lionel Messi may still occupy the top two spots in world football’s superstar hierarchy — who sits where in that duopoly depends on your point of view — but on current form, it would be difficult to find a player in more impressive form than Hazard. Kylian Mbappe is unquestionably football’s rising star and the player most likely to dominate the next generation, while Antoine Griezmann, Mohamed Salah and Neymar will all have their supporters. But Hazard’s hot streak from the World Cup with Belgium has now continued into the Premier League campaign with Chelsea and he appears to be back to his best under the management of Maurizio Sarri.

Eden Hazard is thriving at Chelsea under Maurizio Sarri but has made no secret of his desire to join Real Madrid.
Eden Hazard is thriving at Chelsea under Maurizio Sarri but has made no secret of his desire to join Real Madrid.

The Belgian has hit eight goals in all competitions for Chelsea already this season and his performances are a major reason Sarri’s team go into Saturday’s clash with United as joint leaders of the Premier League. The Italian coach has given Hazard the licence to play his natural game, roaming across the front three and dropping off to pick holes in opposition defences, and he is flourishing after being relieved of the more defensive duties demanded of him by Antonio Conte.

Last term, Hazard scored 12 goals in 34 league games under Conte, but he already has seven in eight under Sarri and is on course to eclipse his best season in a Chelsea shirt, when he scored 16 league goals in the 2016-17 title-winning campaign. But if Hazard is to do what Ferguson believed he was capable of and develop into the player that Ronaldo became at United, he has to smash that 16-goal barrier and hit well past 20 this season. The links with Real Madrid are genuine and Hazard is worthy of their interest, but at 27, he must now show he is capable of climbing to the next level to be one of those players preparing to shove Ronaldo and Messi from their pedestal.

Right now, he doesn’t score enough goals, especially when you consider that his tally is topped up with penalties. But with Sarri giving him the freedom to focus more heavily on hurting the opposition, he now has the opportunity to elevate himself into the superstar stratosphere. The irony for Chelsea, of course, is that if Sarri does make Hazard the finished article this season, it simply makes it more likely he leaves for Madrid. Hazard has made no secret of his desire to play for the Champions League winners and next summer will be a crucial period because his contract will enter its final 12 months at Stamford Bridge.

In the end, Ferguson knew for a whole year that Ronaldo was leaving United at the end of the 2008-09 season, but he made sure that the Portuguese gave everything for the cause before heading off to Spain. There may be a similar sense of inevitability about Hazard’s future, but Chelsea should simply make the most of him while they have him. Ferguson was right, Hazard can be in the same bracket as Ronaldo and United might just be about to discover that first-hand on Saturday.



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John Terry says he has hopes to be a manager, but needs time

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John Terry is keen to follow former England teammates Frank Lampard and Steven Gerrard into management but says he will need a few years to learn the ropes after accepting a coaching role at Aston Villa.

The former Chelsea and England skipper called time on his playing career earlier this month and has been named assistant to new Villa boss Dean Smith.

“I have aspirations to be a manager one day,” the 37-year-old Terry told the BBC. “But that is in four or five years — I’m nowhere near the finished article.

“I am still building my ideas and my philosophy.”

While Terry is keen to take on a top job one day, he says he was stunned at the work that goes in behind the scenes.

“Even my first day was a real eye-opener for me — as a player you don’t realise the depth and the amount of work that goes on,” Terry added.

Villa, who sit 15th in the Championship, host Swansea City on Saturday.



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Ruben Loftus-Cheek could leave Chelsea on loan but won’t be sold – sources

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Former teammates and coaches such as Jose Mourinho, Didier Drogba and Vincent Kompany revealed what made Frank Lampard one of the best players in the world.
The guys react to Eden Hazard’s comments about playing for Real Madrid and wonder if Chelsea should begin to make preparations for his departure.
Chelsea’s Maurizio Sarri believes his side still aren’t on the same level as Manchester City and Liverpool and are just targeting closing last season’s point gap between the teams.
Eden Hazard’s performances at Chelsea are making him a target for bigger European clubs, according to former Chelsea midfielder Michael Essien.
Chelsea get their first Premier League win since mid-September and continue to pile pressure on Liverpool and Manchester City at the top of the table.

Ruben Loftus-Cheek could leave Chelsea on loan in January but will not be sold, sources have told ESPN FC.

Having played just 33 minutes in the Premier League so far this season, Loftus-Cheek is frustrated at his lack of opportunities under Maurizio Sarri and has reportedly attracted interest from Arsenal, Everton and Crystal Palace, the club who helped him develop on loan last season.

But while all parties accept that another temporary move could be best for Loftus-Cheek’s development if his situation does not improve, the midfielder does not expect to leave on a permanent deal and Chelsea remain opposed to selling one of their brightest academy graduates.

Sarri has been vocal about Loftus-Cheek’s need to improve tactically if he wants to see off competition from N’Golo Kante, Mateo Kovacic and Ross Barkley for an advanced midfield role in the starting XI, and the Italian is also looking for a greater goal threat from behind his front three.

Barkley staked his claim to be the answer by capping an impressive performance with a goal and an assist in Chelsea’s 3-0 win over Southampton prior to the October international break, at the end of a week that saw him recalled to the England squad as Loftus-Cheek missed out.

Sarri wanted to give Loftus-Cheek a chance to impress in Chelsea’s 2-1 victory over Liverpool in the Carabao Cup third round in September, but a badly-timed foot injury sidelined the 22-year-old just as Cesc Fabregas made his return to full fitness to further increase competition for places in midfield.

Chelsea will play seven matches in 22 days across all competitions after the international break, and Loftus-Cheek’s level of involvement is likely to determine whether or not he feels he has a role to play under Sarri this season.

Loftus-Cheek’s contract at Stamford Bridge runs until June 2021, and Chelsea often commit their most valuable fringe players to long-term extensions before loaning them out in order to preserve their value.

It is not clear how open Loftus-Cheek would be to signing a new deal as long as his first-team future at Chelsea remains uncertain.



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Arsenal’s Aaron Ramsey open to top six Premier League move – sources

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The FC crew examine Arsenal’s title credentials while the Gunners are enjoying a string of good results under new manager Unai Emery.
ESPN FC’s Craig Burley thinks Arsenal still has room to improve, but for now Unai Emery has the team thriving with a clear plan of attack.

Aaron Ramsey is open to joining one of Arsenal’s top six rivals if he leaves the Emirates on a free in the summer, sources have told ESPN FC.

Ramsey, 27, is out of contract at the end of the season and has seen the offer of a new deal rescinded by Arsenal.

The midfielder is set to take his time to consider his options but is open to staying in the Premier League with one of Arsenal’s direct rivals if he is forced to move on.

Sources have told ESPN FC that Liverpool do not hold an interest in the Wales international but Manchester United and Chelsea are prepared to monitor the situation in the event he is available for nothing.

Ramsey could also negotiate with a foreign team from January, with Juventus reportedly interested.

United tried to sign Ramsey in 2008 and announced on their website they had agreed a deal with Cardiff for the then 17-year-old before he decided to join Arsenal.

Meanwhile, sources have told ESPN FC that United are confident Luke Shaw and Ander Herrera will sign new deals to stay at Old Trafford.

The pair have deals until the end of the season but the club, who are also in negotiations with David De Gea, Ashley Young and Juan Mata, are hopeful new terms will be agreed soon.

Marouane Fellaini has given Jose Mourinho a fresh injury headache ahead of the trip to Chelsea on Saturday after he sat out training with Belgium on Sunday because of a groin problem.

The 30-year-old is a doubt for Belgium’s clash with Netherlands on Tuesday to add another midfielder to Mourinho’s injury list ahead of the game at Stamford Bridge amid concerns about Nemanja Matic and Herrera.

ESPN FC’s Arsenal correspondent Mattias Karen contributed to this report



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Chelsea’s Eden Hazard could play at centre-forward – coach Maruizio Sarri

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The guys react to Eden Hazard’s comments about playing for Real Madrid and wonder if Chelsea should begin to make preparations for his departure.
Paul Mariner rates the sensibility of the latest transfer links, including potential comings and goings at Chelsea and Manchester United.
Eden Hazard’s performances at Chelsea are making him a target for bigger European clubs, according to former Chelsea midfielder Michael Essien.

Chelsea manager Maurizio Sarri has said he is happy that Eden Hazard is staying this season, adding that he could be tempted to use him as a striker.

Hazard has started the Sarri era at Stamford Bridge in blistering form, scoring seven goals in eight Premier League matches and winning the division’s Player of the Month award for September.

Speaking after the 3-0 win at Southampton last weekend, Hazard said a move to Real Madrid would be a “dream” and he wants to “make it happen,” but he has since ruled out the possibility of leaving in January.

“His contract expires in 2020, but he’s staying here,” Sarri told Corriere dello Sport.

“Hazard is immense and I don’t think even he knows how much he can still improve. I said he could end up in the tight circle of the best three or four players in the world.

“The problem is he plays to enjoy himself and at times doesn’t realise the importance of moving from fun to reaping the rewards. At the end of the day, you’ve got to get the fruits of your labour.

“Hazard’s approach is a positive, but it can become a potential limitation too. He needs to lift his head up, look around and realise there’s a whole world in front of him that he can dictate with his feet for the good of the collective and not just the individual.”

Hazard has scored more league goals this season than Alvaro Morata, Olivier Giroud, Pedro Rodriguez and Willian combined, and Sarri said he had considered using him more centrally in a similar role to that played by Dries Mertens at Napoli.

“I was tempted to use Hazard as a centre-forward and I might consider it again in future, but it’s not the right time now,” he said. “We need to believe in Olivier Giroud and Alvaro Morata.

“I’d say this Chelsea side is only at 60-70 percent capacity right now, but how much we are missing and how much we need is not the same thing. It’s double that.”



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Chelsea’s Eden Hazard: Jose Mourinho is ‘one coach with whom I want to work again’

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The guys react to Eden Hazard’s comments about playing for Real Madrid and wonder if Chelsea should begin to make preparations for his departure.
Paul Mariner rates the sensibility of the latest transfer links, including potential comings and goings at Chelsea and Manchester United.
Eden Hazard’s performances at Chelsea are making him a target for bigger European clubs, according to former Chelsea midfielder Michael Essien.

Chelsea star Eden Hazard has told Belgian newspaper Het Laatste News that he would like to work with former Blues manager Jose Mourinho again.

Hazard, who won the 2014-15 Premier League title under Mourinho, now in charge at Manchester United, was unable to halt the drastic slump in form that saw the manager sacked the following season.

He said he felt “a little bit guilty” about his part in Mourinho’s Stamford Bridge downfall and defended the manager’s approach.

“In 12 years I’ve only had one bad season — the last six months under Mourinho — and that was partly my own fault,” Hazard, named Premier League Player of the Month for September, said.

“After the title, we asked Mourinho for extra holidays. I came back totally out of shape.

“The last season under Mourinho was not enjoyable. We didn’t win, we got into a sort of routine, training without having fun, it was better for all parties that we parted ways.

“But if I’m asked now about one coach with whom I want to work again, I would say Mourinho.

“I don’t regret many things in my career, but that I have not been able to work with Mourinho at Chelsea any more is one of them. We had a team that could win more trophies. We just ended up in a negative cycle.

“I sent him a message to say I was sorry he had gone and that I was sorry. We’d enjoyed all that success together, but this time we hadn’t.

“I felt a little bit guilty because I’d been player of the year. I’d been one of the most decisive players, and then I performed less.”

Hazard defended Mourinho’s approach, saying some people’s perception of him as a negative coach was not fair and adding that he understood it was part of his style to criticise players.

“Mourinho’s image of an extremely defensive coach isn’t completely right,” the Belgium international said.

“He is far from adventurous like [Pep] Guardiola, but the season in which we became champions, we scored many goals and played good games.

“If the results are poor, Jose starts criticising his players. You know that, but afterwards I’ve been able to accept that — it’s part of his character.

“If you win, Mourinho is the best coach you can imagine. Then he is a friend of yours — you ask whatever you want.”

Earlier this week, Hazard ruled out the possibility of leaving Chelsea for Real Madrid in January.

Speaking after the win at Southampton on Sunday, Hazard said joining the European champions remains a “dream” and he wants to “make it happen,” but added that he remains open to talking about a new contract.



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Transfer Talk Atletico Madrid to bring Chelsea’s Cesc Fabregas back to Spain

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The transfer window for all of Europe’s big five leagues is closed, but that doesn’t stop Transfer Talk from rummaging around about who will be moving where come January.

Atleti ready move for Fabregas

After recently saying he’d like to stay at Chelsea and wished new manager Maurizio Sarri had taken over at the club sooner, Cesc Fabregas could reportedly be moving on from Stamford Bridge.

The Mirror reports that La Liga title contenders Atletico Madrid are ready to make a January move to bring the former Barcelona midfielder back to Spain. 

Fabregas’ contract with Chelsea expires in the summer of 2019 and the Blues could use the winter window to recoup at least some of the approximate €33 million fee they paid to bring him to the club in 2014.

The 31-year-old Fabregas was adamant that he has more to offer one of Europe’s top clubs, and despite his desire to stay at Chelsea, the outlet reports “with Ross Barkley and Mateo Kovacic ahead of him in the pecking order and Sarri likely to see him as merely a back-up to Jorginho, the Spaniard could move on.”

Atleti join AC Milan on the short list of potential suitors should the Spain international, who has 110 caps and 15 goals for La Roja, leave in search of regular minutes.

Liverpool in pole position for Arsenal’s Ramsey

Liverpool have taken the lead in the race to land Arsenal midfielder Aaron Ramsey once he becomes a free agent next summer, according to The Sun.

The Wales international said he has no plans to leave Arsenal in January, but he now appears set to exit the Emirates during the 2019 summer window after the club withdrew their contract offer last month.

According to the report, a move to AC Milan was seen by bookmakers as the most likely next step, but Jurgen Klopp’s crew have made up ground and are now installed as 9-2 favourites to land the Gunners’ longest-serving player.

United see Ghoulam bid knocked back

Manchester United have seen their €45m offer for left-back Faouzi Ghoulam turned down by Napoli, according to reports in Italy.

The Manchester Evening News quotes Calcio Mercato in saying the coveted Algeria international won’t be on his way to Old Trafford despite the hefty bid with the Serie A side “keen to keep hold of the player.”

No bother, though, as the Evening News adds United have since set their sights on Atletico Madrid’s Lucas Hernandez, with the paper quoting Marca in saying United have made a “dizzying offer” for the France international and are prepared to double the wages he’s currently enjoying in Spain.

Hernandez is reportedly receptive to joining the Red Devils and Jose Mourinho’s men are encouraged by his €70m buyout clause.

Tap-ins

The Sun says Chelsea are ready to make a move for Brescia midfield sensation Sandro Tonali. The Blues had scouts on hand to watch the 18-year-old in his team’s 4-1 Serie B win against Padova last weekend, but the Premier League outfit may need to move quickly as some of the top clubs in Italy like Juventus and Roma are also said to be keen on securing the rising star’s services.

– Paris Saint-Germain want Arsene Wenger to become their general manager after the January transfer window, with sporting director Antero Henrique’s future under threat, sources have told ESPN FC.

– Inter Milan sporting director Piero Ausilio has said Mauro Icardi is set for a new deal at the club. The Argentina forward’s contract runs until 2021 and Ausilio says there is no rush to extend it, although he believes a renewal could be signed any time.



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Eden Hazard to Real Madrid: ‘Nothing blocking’ Chelsea star from move – Alvaro Morata

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The guys react to Eden Hazard’s comments about playing for Real Madrid and wonder if Chelsea should begin to make preparations for his departure.
Paul Mariner rates the sensibility of the latest transfer links, including potential comings and goings at Chelsea and Manchester United.

Alvaro Morata has said Eden Hazard will not force an exit from Chelsea but would be happy to move to Real Madrid if both clubs come to an agreement.

Hazard said this week it remained his “dream” to play for Madrid and he wanted to “make it happen,” but made it clear he did not want to damage his relationship with Chelsea.

Speculation that Madrid president Florentino Perez will move for Hazard followed, with 85 percent of fans polled by AS wanting a deal done in the January window.

Marca’s front page on Wednesday morning claimed a transfer next summer was the most likely option when Hazard’s price would be lower due to having 12 months left on his contract, and Morata confirmed that is a possibility.

“If [Hazard] has spoken so clearly, it’s because that is the situation,” Morata told Cuatro when asked from Spain camp about Hazard’s comments.

“It is not that he wants to leave Chelsea, but if Madrid come in for him, there would be nothing blocking him. It is not like other cases where players force an exit, he has a contract with the club.

“It should be a good deal for Chelsea.”

Hazard, 27, has long been linked with a move to the Bernabeu, and was keen to work under childhood hero and former Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane.

El Pais reported that Zidane’s resignation at the end of last season was directly linked to club chief Perez going back on a previous plan for the summer window which involved selling Bale and bringing Hazard to the Bernabeu.

Zidane’s replacement Julen Lopetegui is already under pressure after four defeats in his first 11 games in charge. Madrid have gone almost seven hours with scoring, losing three of their last four games.

But Morata said he felt sure the team would come through a difficult period.

“There is no season where Madrid do not go through difficult moments,” said Morata, who joined Chelsea from Real Madrid in 2017.

“When [Benzema] starts to score goals, Mariano [Diaz], Bale, Marco [Asensio] — they will score many.

“The ball does not want to go in sometimes. But all who are now wanting to see Madrid lose will be sorry by the end of the season.”



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Chelsea’s Marcos Alonso expects to sign new contract “in the coming days”

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Paul Mariner rates the sensibility of the latest transfer links, including potential comings and goings at Chelsea and Manchester United.
Chelsea’s Maurizio Sarri believes his side still aren’t on the same level as Manchester City and Liverpool and are just targeting closing last season’s point gap between the teams.
Chelsea get their first Premier League win since mid-September and continue to pile pressure on Liverpool and Manchester City at the top of the table.
ESPN FC’s Craig Burley weighs in on Chelsea’s dominating win over Southampton and views the Blues as a real threat to win the league this season.

Marcos Alonso has confirmed that Chelsea have offered him a long-term contract extension and added that he expects to sign it before the end of October.

There are two years remaining on Alonso’s current deal, signed when he arrived for around £24 million from Fiorentina in the summer of 2016, but Chelsea are keen to extend his stay.

Alonso established himself as a key figure at left wing-back under Antonio Conte and has transitioned well to operating on the left of a back four since Maurizio Sarri’s arrival, registering one goal and two assists from defence in eight Premier League appearances this season.

“What I can say is that I am very calm and very happy at Chelsea and that the club must be the same with me,” he told Spanish newspaper AS while on international duty. “Even though I still have two years left on my current deal, they have offered me an extension. We are discussing it and talks are already advanced.

“If everything goes well, I think I will sign before the end of the month. In the coming days.”

Asked how long his new contract will be, Alonso replied: “My father is the one who leads the negotiation and he is the one who deals with it. I am 27 years old, I still have two more ahead and I am going to extend my contract … What matters to me is to play as well as possible to win games and titles with Chelsea and continue with the Spain national team. I’m calm with my contract.”

Eyebrows were raised when Sarri decided to shift Alonso — who is widely regarded as being better going forward than defensively — from wing-back to full-back in his new 4-3-3 system, but his form has kept January signing Emerson Palmieri on the sidelines and earned him a call-up to Luis Enrique’s latest Spain squad ahead of Barcelona defender Jordi Alba.

“I feel comfortable in both formations [with three at the back or four],” he added. “The system with three centre-backs is one I was used to in Italy and it went very well. I enjoyed playing as a wing-back due to the attacking exposure you have in that position. But I also like playing in Sarri’s current system.

“In modern football, positioning, the shape and occupying spaces are very important. Luis Enrique insists this as well as my Chelsea manager.

“I am comfortable and I am suited to this football. My natural position is left back on a back four, but I have to be ready to help the team regarding the demands of the manager.”



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Chelsea’s Andreas Christensen may be forced to leave ‘very difficult’ situation

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Chelsea’s Maurizio Sarri believes his side still aren’t on the same level as Manchester City and Liverpool and are just targeting closing last season’s point gap between the teams.

Andreas Christensen has admitted that he finds his current lack of opportunities at Chelsea “very difficult” to deal with and could look to leave Stamford Bridge if the situation does not improve.

Maurizio Sarri’s shift to a back four has reduced Chelsea’s starting centre-back spots from three to two this season, and the return from exile of a rejuvenated David Luiz alongside Antonio Rudiger has left Christensen invariably among the substitutes.

Christensen was the main beneficiary of Luiz’s falling out with Sarri’s predecessor Antonio Conte last season, making 27 Premier League appearances and 23 as a starter, but the talented 22-year-old has been reduced entirely to outings in the Europa League and Carabao Cup so far this term.

And if he cannot convince Sarri that he is worthy of a regular starting spot, Christensen warned that he is ready to go elsewhere to ensure his development does not stall.

“It has been a difficult start to the season,” he told Danish publication BT. “To be honest, it has been very difficult.

“I can’t stand having to have so much patience again. I’m 22 years old now and I really want to play. In the last three seasons I’ve played regularly for the teams I’ve been at, so of course I don’t see myself staying if my current situation remains the same in the future.

“It’s too early to talk about when I’m going to move, or if I’m going to move at all. But it’s clearly not a good situation for me. It has been difficult to get into the team, and when we’re getting good results like we are right now, it only makes it even harder. It’s great for the team, but for me personally it’s been a tough start to the season.

“I had looked forward to getting our new manager. We play really good football, explosive, and offensively it’s all you can wish for as a player. So it’s great in that sense, but it’s really frustrating that I’m not on the pitch.”

Christensen joined Chelsea in 2012 at the age of 16 from Brondby. He won the FA Youth Cup and UEFA Youth League in the Blues’ academy before spending two seasons on loan with Borussia Monchengladbach, where regular appearances in the Bundesliga and Champions League helped establish himself as one of the brightest young defenders in Europe.

“It was just a great fit, and it’s a big part of why I’m here now,” he said of his Gladbach experience in an interview with ESPN in January.

“We used the ball a lot and they wanted to play football. I think that helped me a lot. You get put in difficult situations in Germany — every team likes to press high and you can even end up staying one vs one the whole game, so you have to think a lot and prepare yourself.”

Christensen signed a new long-term contract in January that commits him to Chelsea until June 2022.



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Transfer Rater: Jadon Sancho to Chelsea Milan Skriniar to Manchester United

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Things change in the blink of an eye in football. The Football Whispers Index takes the latest transfer rumours and gives them a score out of five; the higher the score, the more realistic and reliable the Whisper.

Here are today’s top five emerging whispers. And keep an eye on Transfer Talk for all the latest gossip.

Cenk Tosun to Besiktas

Turkish giants Besiktas reportedly want to bring Everton striker Tosun back to Istanbul as the 27-year-old has failed to shine at Goodison Park. Tosun moved to the Toffees last January for £27m and has scored six goals in 22 Premier League appearances, however has been inconsistent so far under Marco Silva. Talksport report that Besiktas are planning a loan move in January for their former striker.

Milan Skriniar to Manchester United

Jose Mourinho’s search for a centre-back continues with attentions turning to Inter Milan defender Skriniar. Sourceshave told ESPN that Mourinho has requested the Slovakia international as a show of faith from the board that he has a long-term future at Old Trafford. At 23, Skriniar is also significantly younger than Mourinho’s previous targets of Toby Alderweireld, Jerome Boateng and Diego Godin which should help convince the board.

Alessio Romagnoli to Manchester United

Also among Mourinho’s targets to bolster his ailing backline, according to ESPN sources, is Milan centre-back Romagnoli, who is also 23. The Italian has previously been linked with Chelsea and the Rossoneri successfully agreed a new contract extension in August taking his current deal up to 2022. Should Mourinho be sufficiently backed in the market, however, Milan may have no choice but to accept an offer.

Harry Kane to Real Madrid

Madrid’s poor start to the season, in which they have been winless and scoreless in their last four matches, has prompted president Florentino Perez to push for a marquee signing in attack. The failure to replace Cristiano Ronaldo in the summer has meant Kane is back in consideration for Los Blancos, according to El Confidencial. However, Real’s director general Jose Angel Sanchez has also suggested RB Leipzig’s Timo Werner as a more affordable alternative.

Jadon Sancho to Chelsea

Sancho’s stunning start to the season for Borussia Dortmund has alerted the Premier League’s finest, although the Bundesliga club will demand £100m for the English winger. The Sun claim that Chelsea, Arsenal, Manchester United, Liverpool and Tottenham are all monitoring the 18-year-old, who left City last year after turning down a contract. Dortmund, however, view Sancho as Ousmane Dembele’s long-term replacement and have no plans to let him go.



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Former Chelsea England defender John Terry retires from football

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Former Chelsea and England captain John Terry has announced his retirement from professional football at the age of 37 as he prepares to move into coaching.

Terry, who has been without a club since leaving Aston Villa on a free transfer in May and was close to joining Spartak Moscow in September before having a change of heart, announced the decision on his official Instagram account.

Last week, he helped prepare Chelsea U19s for a UEFA Youth League match against Danish club Molde that they went on to win 10-1, and he is reportedly set to return to Villa as assistant to Arsenal legend Thierry Henry.

“After 23 incredible years as a footballer, I have decided now is the right time for me to retire from playing,” Terry said.

“I want to thank my amazing teammates, coaches, managers and backroom staff, who I was honoured to work with and learn from. They all guided me on my way to playing 717 games for the club I love, and it was a privilege to serve them as captain.

“They also helped me achieve my boyhood dream of playing for and captaining England, of which I am immensely proud.

“I look forward to the next chapter in my life and the challenges ahead.”

Terry joined Chelsea’s academy from West Ham at the age of 14 and made his first-team debut as a substitute in a League Cup victory over Villa in October 1998.

After a brief spell on loan at Nottingham Forest he established himself as a regular starter at Stamford Bridge and was named club captain by Jose Mourinho after Marcel Desailly’s retirement in the summer of 2004.

He went on to lift 18 major trophies at Chelsea including five Premier League titles and the 2012 Champions League before joining Villa when he was released in the summer of 2017, leading the club to the Championship playoff final last season where they were defeated by Fulham at Wembley.

Regarded as one of the greatest defenders of his generation, Terry was also a hugely divisive player outside of Chelsea as a result of a series of off-field controversies.

He was stripped of the England captaincy twice and retired from international football in 2012 in a cloud of acrimony after the Football Association opted to charge him with racially abusing QPR defender Anton Ferdinand.

Terry was capped 78 times for England and made 717 appearances for Chelsea in all competitions, a tally bettered only by legendary former defender and captain Ron “Chopper” Harris.



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Barcelona’s Jordi Alba overlooked for Spain squad Alvaro Morata in Paco Alcacer returns

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ESPN FC’s Sid Lowe and the FC panel agree that Luis Enrique’s Spain have flipped the script on the old tiki-taka style of play.
Steve Nicol and Brian McBride react to Spain’s relentless domination of World Cup runners-up Croatia in a surprising UEFA Nations League result.
Croatia suffered their worst-ever defeat in international competition as Luis Enrique earned his first victory on home soil for Spain.

Borussia Dortmund’s in-form striker Paco Alcacer has been included in Spain’s squad for the games against Wales and England, but his former Barcelona teammate Jordi Alba continues to be omitted.

Alcacer has scored four goals, including his team’s second in a 3-0 win over Monaco in Wednesday’s Champions League, in three games since joining Dortmund on loan from Barcelona this summer.

Spain coach Luis Enrique has rewarded the 25-year-old, who has not featured for his country since March 2016, with a place in his 23-man squad for the he international friendly against Wales in Cardiff on Oct. 11 and the UEFA Nations League clash against England in Seville four days later.

Alba, who played under Luis Enrique at Barcelona and was a regular with his Spain predecessor Julen Lopetegui, has again been overlooked, and has not featured for Spain since the World Cup.

The 29-year-old provided three assists during Barca’s 4-2 victory over Tottenham on Wednesday night but Luis Enrique has opted to stick to Chelsea’s Marcos Alonso and Valencia’s Jose Luis Gaya to cover the left-back role amid reports that Alba fell out of favour for him during their time together at the Nou Camp.

However, Atletico Madrid midfielder Koke, who also played at the World Cup but did not make Luis Enrique’s first list, is back.

Spain will be without Real Madrid midfielder Isco, who is recovering from appendicitis, as well as Dani Carvajal, Inigo Martinez, Sergi Roberto and Diego Costa who are also injured.

With Carvajal and Martinez out, Luis Enrique has called up Wolverhampton Wanderers right-back Jonny Otto, who has yet to make his senior debut and is one of six Premier League based players included in the squad.

Real Betis defender Marc Bartra returns to the squad, earning his first call up under Luis Enrique.

Chelsea and Real Madrid are the clubs with the most players in the squad with four each, as Luis Enrique continues to place his trust in Alvaro Morata despite the forward’s slow start to the campaign with just one goal scored.

Spain have won their opening two UEFA Nations League Group 4 games, scoring eight goals and conceding one.



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Premier League: 25 goals in 90 seconds

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How Klopp failed to nullify Hazard in Chelsea draw

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ICYMI: Ronaldo instrumental, Mourinho setback and more

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Mourinho teetering, Sturridge stunner – ESPN FC

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Chelsea and Liverpool play out entertaining draw

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Premier League W2W4 Liverpool face stern Chelsea test Man United need to end disruptive week

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Ahead of each round of fixtures in the Premier League, W2W4 looks at the main storylines to keep an eye on.

Liverpool’s defence faces its biggest test

What can we glean from Wednesday’s Carabao Cup game between Chelsea and Liverpool that has relevance to their Premier League match on Saturday evening? Given the players involved, not much. Maybe five or six of the 22 that started at Anfield will line up at Stamford Bridge.

One thing does stand out though is just how quickly a player like Eden Hazard can change a game. Chelsea’s Belgian genius came off the bench to score an astonishing goal to secure their victory, and while we don’t really need more evidence that Hazard is pretty useful, he keeps providing it anyway.

Jurgen Klopp was philosophical after the game, bowing to Hazard’s quality.

“Eden Hazard at full speed in the box is not easy to stop,” the Liverpool boss said, and he could console himself with the knowledge that it was his second-string back four that was trying the other night. On Saturday, the A-team will return.

But will they fare any better? The back five of Alisson, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Joe Gomez, Virgil van Dijk and Andy Robertson have proved very effective so far this season, conceding just two goals in the league, but they haven’t come up against anyone this good yet. Liverpool’s defence is an area of strength where previously it was one of weakness, but facing Hazard represents the biggest test yet of that new-found fortitude.

Can Manchester United react positively to a damaging week?

Apparently Paul Pogba and Jose Mourinho are friends now, with explanations offered and accepted for that training ground argument the morning after their Carabao Cup defeat to Derby County. But more than complaining about an Instagram post, Mourinho’s most damaging public utterance might have occurred the previous evening, when in his postmatch interview he said he thought United were “in trouble” when Phil Jones and Eric Bailly stepped up in the penalty shoot-out.

Why would you say that, other than to try shifting the blame to someone else? Why undermine the confidence of two first-team players? It’s not the first time that Mourinho has done this, shamefully throwing Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial under the bus at the end of last season. If it hasn’t happened already, Mourinho will lose the trust of his players, something he used to so obviously have in his early days of management.

After such a disruptive week, United need a win against an improving West Ham on Saturday, but in publicly embarrassing his players, Mourinho hasn’t done their chances any favours.

Might Phil Foden get a league start for Manchester City?

Your heart doesn’t exactly bleed for Pep Guardiola. The Manchester City manager has been without Kevin De Bruyne since August, but happens to manage probably the only team in the Premier League who could lose their most influential player, and carry on without blinking. With David Silva, Bernardo Silva and Ilkay Gundogan, Guardiola has some pretty solid senior options to fill-in for De Bruyne — but you can certainly add Phil Foden to that list now.

Of course, it was only against Oxford United, but Foden’s performance in midweek earned further comparisons to Andres Iniesta, comparisons Guardiola was quick to avoid. Foden is clearly ready, even at 18, for the highest level, and it’s only a matter of time before he starts a game in the Premier League. Could it be this weekend against Brighton?

Will Wes Morgan return for Leicester?

Wes Morgan is available again for Leicester, following a one-game suspension for his red card against Bournemouth. He played in their Carabao Cup game against Wolves in mid-week alongside Jonny Evans, but Harry Maguire, fresh from signing a new contract, will surely return to the team for this weekend’s trip to Newcastle.

The question for Claude Puel is, who will Maguire replace? Hopefully, almost for the sake of his dignity as anything else, it won’t be Morgan, and Evans and Maguire become their first-choice pairing. The central defender’s race looks run, his peak years well behind him and it would probably be best for everyone if he was gently phased out of the team.

Huddersfield can’t write-off another game against a big boy

After Huddersfield’s first game of the season, a 3-0 defeat to Chelsea, David Wagner was asked about his side’s tough start to the campaign. They faced Manchester City after that, and Wagner commented that they would “just have to win the games in between” those against the Premier League’s best. Alas, they didn’t: they’ve played four times since, against Cardiff, Crystal Palace, Everton and Leicester, gaining two points and scoring two goals in the process.

Wagner’s attitude smacked of defeatism, of writing off games against the best and concentrating on more “winnable” fixtures: that his side failed to win them indicates he may have been unwise to do so. This weekend it’s another big team, with Tottenham paying a visit to John Smith’s Stadium.

Wagner and Huddersfield can’t afford to shrug and think “what can you do?”, because after six games without a win, a relegation scrap is looming.



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