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Liverpool’s Gomez and Van Dijk working together

Kane might have a fight on his hands if he is still determined to leave after the Euros.

Joe Gomez and Virgil van Dijk are working together in an attempt to reach fitness for the beginning of the new season. Gomez hasn’t played since November after seriously injuring a knee in training with England. Van Dijk hasn’t played since he had surgery for cruciate ligament damage in October. The two have been appointed a Liverpool fitness coach and a special area of the training ground to work together. The pair practice sprint drills and ball work which is getting more intense as the weeks pass. Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp hopes that both players and centre-back Joel Matip will be available for pre-season training on July 12th. Last season Nat Phillips and Rhys Williams did good work standing in for the defensive partnership at the heart of the Red’s defence and Liverpool also have another option in new signing Ibrahima Konate from RB Leipzig.

Update on what’s happening at Tottenham

As I write this column Tottenham are preparing a statement to confirm the appointment of Paulo Fonseca as their new Head Coach. Spurs tell me that talks with the Portugese have gone well and a two-year contract has been agreed. There is an option for a further twelve months if things go well. The 48-year-old was recommended by new managing director Fabio Paratici who takes up his new role on 1st July. Paratici will run the footballing side of the club and is responsible for recruitment and building a new squad for Fonseca. At the moment Ledley King will continue his first team coaching role and Ryan Mason, who took over as head coach when Jose Mourinho was sacked, will return to the Academy. Daniel Levy has stated very firmly that Harry Kane’s position at the club remains his No1 priority and said he will do, “whatever is right for the club. What we want and what somebody else wants is not always possible to achieve.” Kane might have a fight on his hands if he is still determined to leave after the Euros.

James Rodriguez


Arsenal strengthening recruitment team

Arsenal have been examining ways of becoming more effective in the running of the club and their transfer targets. The Gunner’s management has held talks with Lille Sporting Director Luis Campos with the specific aim to bring him to the club to find new talent. Lille have just won the French Ligue 1 title and many think it is Campos’ success at bringing in new players which played a big part. The 56-year-old did the same job at Monaco and discovered such talents as Kylian Mbappe, Fabinho and Tiemoue Bakayoko. Campos would work alongside Mikel Arteta, Edu and newly appointed Director of Football Operations Richard Garlic. Arteta has made no secret of needing to evolve the squad and bring in fresh talent. Edu and Arteta have already targeted Norwich City’s Emi Buendia but face a battle with the newly promoted Premier League side. Arsenal tell me that £30million has been agreed for the attacking midfielder.

Rafa Benitez for Everton hot seat?

Carlo Ancelotti’s sudden departure from Everton to Madrid caught all of the players by surprise. Dominic Calvert-Lewin said, “It came as a shock – I don’t think anybody expected it. But that’s how football works and you have to move forward. I first saw the speculation on the day he left. By the evening he was gone so it came as a shock.” With an empty chair at Everton the search is on for a top-class replacement. There is one name which attracted me. Who can take a team, mould it and get the best out of players? Rafa Benitez of course! Liverpool fans might be forgiven for showing some annoyance given Rafa’s history with the Reds and there are undoubtedly many Everton fans who will never forgive Rafa for calling them a “small club” whilst at Liverpool however there is no doubt that Rafa is respected by most people on Merseyside. He still has a home in the  area, his wife chairs several charities and Rafa has given generously to many community causes. On top of that he is a top-class coach. He met owner Farhad Moshiri last week and had further talks this week. No deal is certain yet but both parties are pleased with the progress made so far. Everton are still talking to ex-Wolves manager Nuno Espirito Santos however my sources inside the club reveal that not everyone at the club is sold on him.

Liverpool eye replacement for Wijnaldum

Jurgen Klopp has expressed his interest in German Bundesliga club Borussia Monchengladbach’s Florian Neuhaus. He sees the German midfielder as a possible replacement for Gorgio Wijnaldum who joins Paris St Germain on July 1st. Whether the Red’s pursue Neuhaus depends on his performances at the Euros however I can confirm that the club have made contact with Borussia. He is a versatile midfielder who is comfortable in possession and can hold up play or move the ball forward at speed. He is particularly effective in attacking roles and scored eight goals last season and nine assists. Neuhaus is keen on a move abroad although he is also aware that Bayern Munich are interested in his progress.

Bielsa builds Phillips into a No1

Kalvin Phillips is probably the most underrated player in the Premier League. The Leeds favourite has played ten times for England and in the Lion’s opening match he ran the show, reading the game and making excellent passes. When coach Marco Bielsa arrived at Leeds he noticed Kalvin straight away and prepared a personal programme for him to improve. He turned him from a No8 to a No4 and put him through a rigorous and murderous routine which many players  would not have managed to complete. Bielsa then turned Kalvin into a defensive midfielder, spraying passes from inside his own half to wingers and attacking midfielders. We witnessed just how effective Bielsa’s plan has been and Kalvin played a major part in helping England beat Croatia 1-0.

Why Palace turned down Nuno Espirito Santo

Crystal Palace’s search for a new manager continues after they decided not to pursue ex-Wolves coach Nuno Espirito Santo. Nuno apparently made a list of demands that Palace agreed to despite their understanding that they had a deal. Nuno then made another fresh set of demands which included total control over recruitment and a higher salary and Palace said no. Ex-Chelsea manager Frank Lampard is a possible replacement.

Rodriguez confirms he is staying at Everton

James Rodriguez was disappointed when Everton manager Carlo Ancelotti resigned and moved to Real Madrid. The two had worked together at Real Madrid and Bayern Munich and he was upset the boss had departed. However, James has confirmed that he is happy to stay with the Toffees until 2022 when his contract expires and then Everton have a further one year option on his services. He said this week, “If I stay another year at Everton that’s fine. I don’t think Ancelotti is going to take me again and the cycle for me with Real Madrid is closed.”  He scored six goals last season and made nine assists in 26 appearances.

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