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We cannot do it’ – Jurgen Klopp sends Liverpool transfer warning as Alexis Mac Allister…



‘We cannot do it’ – Jurgen Klopp sends Liverpool transfer warning as Alexis Mac Allister…

Jurgen Klopp is adamant Liverpool will not be held to ransom over their potential summer transfer targets – and has no qualms instead pursuing alternative names.

But the Reds boss is confident he will be able to recruit the players he wants as the recruitment team ramp up their efforts ahead of what is likely to be a busy close-season period.

Liverpool are in the market for at least two new midfielders as Klopp looks to overhaul his engine room after a campaign in which his side have underwhelmed to leave only an outside chance of Champions League qualification with four Premier League games remaining.

READ MORE: Jurgen Klopp sends James Milner message and responds to Alexis Mac Allister Liverpool transfer question

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James Milner will leave on a free transfer at the end of the season with fellow midfielders Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Naby Keita also out of contract and on-loan Arthur Melo returning to parent club Juventus. Striker Roberto Firmino has already confirmed he will depart in the summer while goalkeeper Adrian is also likely to follow suit.

Liverpool demonstrated when walking away from long-term target Jude Bellingham – valued at around £130million by Borussia Dortmund – they will not pursue signings at any cost, with sights now trained elsewhere.

The Reds retain interest in Chelsea midfielder Mason Mount while Brighton’s Alexis Mac Allister has emerged as a priority, although the situation could be complicated by a number of clubs – including Manchester United – also courting the Argentina World Cup winner.

But Klopp – whose side entertain Brentford on Saturday evening – has indicated Liverpool won’t be dissuaded from their stance of not overspending on players as they work within the financial limitations laid down by owners Fenway Sports Group.

Asked about clubs putting an extra premium on targets due to the Reds being interested, Klopp said: “We cannot buy the player, then. If they are overpriced we cannot do it.

“We will bring in players, I am pretty sure we will bring in the players we want and those who will help us. I am pretty confident of that. You never know 100% until they are signed, but that is not new that some clubs might try that (put a premium on the asking price).

“Let me say it like this: you identify a position and you have not only one option in the position. That means they should all be good, to be honest really good, you might have a favourite but if the other club doesn’t want to sell or someone else will pay the price that we cannot go with it, but usually we got the players we wanted.

“The one thing is can we afford them and then they are here. I don’t think too much about that, to be honest.”

Klopp is eager to conclude the majority of Liverpool’s summer transfer business early to ensure the majority of his new-look squad is together for the start of pre-season in early July. Ryan Gravenberch of Bayern Munich and Chelsea’s Conor Gallagher are two more midfielders to have acquired interest from the Reds.


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Mason explains why Oliver Skipp is ‘a very lucky boy’ and discusses Klopp jibe

Ryan Mason says Oliver Skipp is a “very, very lucky boy” after the high challenge that left him needing stitches on his forehead and the acting Tottenham boss kept his cool over a jibe from Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp.

Skipp was on the end of a boot to the head from Liverpool’s Diogo Jota on Sunday at Anfield and despite calls from many for a red card the attacker remained on the pitch and scored the last-gasp winning goal for the hosts. Mason delivered an update on Friday on 22-year-old Skipp, who was approached by an apologetic Jota in the tunnel after the game.

“He is a very, very lucky boy. He had a couple of gashes in his head, needed near to 10 stitches and we are talking about a couple of inches away from an eye problem,” he said. “I think the overall feeling this week is we are quite grateful Skippy is okay and it’s nothing too serious.”

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For someone whose career ended with a fractured skull, Mason is perhaps better placed than most to discuss head injuries although he made the clear distinction between this collision and the one that ended his playing days.

“Obviously a different situation, different moment as well. One was with a head, one was with a boot so the dangers are different. At the same time the head is a vulnerable part of the body,” he said. “We continue to see that. Thankfully Skippy is okay. He is in contention and has trained this week.”

After the game, Klopp had shot down Mason’s disappointment over the lack of punishment for Jota with a slightly patronising jibe and criticised Spurs’ style of play, something the Liverpool boss has done in the past to the young coach’s predecessors.

“Ryan has to worry about other stuff,” Klopp said on Sunday. “They can’t just counter-attack; they have to play better football with that team. Diogo Jota has the foot high but he’s not going for the head. I heard Oliver Skipp could’ve had a red card [for an earlier tackle on Luis Diaz]. Did he speak about that as well? Wanting Diogo Jota off the pitch, worry about other stuff.”

When asked about those comments from the Liverpool boss, Mason was not about to be drawn into a war of words with the German although some might read between the lines of his response.

“First of all I respect and admire Jurgen Klopp. I also respect Liverpool Football Club. Honestly in my current situation now and regardless of what happens in my coaching career, I don’t believe I will ever be in a position where I can sit here and criticise another football club in the way they are doing things,” he said.

“I will not create a war of words. That is my opinion on it. I don’t think it will change in 20 years time. I don’t think I will ever be in that position or earn the right to criticise another football club for how they want to try and win the game and how they feel is the best chance for them to win the game in that moment in time.”

Behind the scenes at Tottenham, the club’s academy capped a big few weeks with their U18s following the U17s in lifting the Premier League Cup. As a former Spurs academy youngster who made it through to the first team, Mason was asked if there was hope that some of those young stars will following in his, Skipp and Harry Kane’s footsteps among others.

“Absolutely I have seen a lot of them. I work for this football club, I work in the first-team and it is part of my job to pay attention and understand where the academy are at and try bridge that gap,” he said. “Of course we have hope for many of them but at 16 and 17, it can be a long road and it can be difficult.

“Sometimes people develop earlier than others and sometimes players seize the moment. Hopefully some of them can make the step up in the coming years. From a timescale point of view, it is very difficult to put a time on it but historically this football club has always valued that and we continue to do that now.”

He added: “It is part of being at this football club and you need to understand and feel that as a player there will be competition, so you need to be the best version of you every day and keep improving. That is not just for our academy boys but also our first-team lads. That is part of playing for Tottenham.

“In terms of that pathway or route, I don’t believe a pathway exists in academy football, I just believe you have to work hard, be the best player and continue to be the best player and hopefully make an impact on first-team coaches. That has always got to be the plan and hopefully our players can do that.”

As a disciple of Mauricio Pochettino, who firmly believed in using young players if they were ready, Mason was asked whether he as a manager will be someone who looks to dip into the academy at whatever club he works for in the future.

“I think it depends on the situation. It’s very easy for people to have an opinion from the outside but every job you’re in there’s context. You have to manage it differently. Of course I see the value in the academy and having homegrown players, especially here in England,” he expained.

“We’ve seen in the past the importance of that, but at the same time players have to be good enough. They have to earn that opportunity. That’s the most important message to any young player. They have to work hard. It’s not an easy route to the top, especially at a club of this size.

“Sometimes it can be a long road. My experience shows that. My Premier League debut came at 23. That’s my message, it’s not about me it’s about the environment and whether academy players can help get results on the pitch.”

On what homegrown players can bring to a squad, he said: “It’s good for everyone. The feeling it creates inside, with the fans as well because when you grow up supporting a team you always have that dream you can represent them. As fans we do and if we young players doing that I think it’s great.

“We’ve had that here. We still have that. We have academy players playing in our first team. I don’t know what will happen here but hopefully that trend will continue, but players have to be good enough, work hard and earn the right to wear the shirt.”

When asked about that Pochettino team and the youngsters used, including him and Kane, he added: “That period we had players that were ready. We had five or six players that had 100 league games under their belt. That makes the decision a lot easier. He trusted us but we also earned the right.

“It’s a fine balancing act. I think every manager would say the same: it’s important you have players from the academy part of the squad. Most clubs do it. It drives certain things, it creates a different energy and feel. We have many players from our academy in the squad now. On matchday we have players starting from our academy in our first team. It’s a big thing, it has been a big thing for the last six or seven players and I’m sure going forward that trend will continue.”

The 31-year-old now faces the task of galvanising seventh-placed Tottenham for their final four matches despite the top four being all but mathematically beyond them and even a top six finish is going to be a big ask with Brighton a point ahead with two games in hand.

A seventh place finish ahead of Aston Villa, who are on the same points, would likely bring Europa Conference League football and Mason was asked whether it was a competition the club actually wanted to be in.

“At the end of the season that’s something we’ll speak about when we know the league table,” he said. “I don’t want to speak about hypothetical situations because I don’t feel like it’s going to bring any good. We want to win games of football, starting tomorrow, that’s our focus, and we’re not going to veer away from that.

“In the past, yeah, it’s been an opportunity [to blood young players in the Conference League] but you have to earn that. It’s not just a case of giving out opportunities when players don’t earn it. The situation we’ll be in next season will be off the back of the next four games, we understand that and want to win games to feel as high as possible in the table.”

Mason must sort out a Tottenham defence that has conceded six goals in his two matches and with 57 goals conceded overall this season in the Premier League – only five teams have conceded more – is on track to let in their worst tally in the Premier League era.

One defender who has struggled in recent weeks is one of the most experienced in the backline in Eric Dier, but the acting head coach is not looking to dish out blame.

“I think we had difficult moments as a team. I’m not going to single out any individuals because it’s a team game and we have to stick together in good moments and bad,” he said. “We’ve conceded some goals, we’re aware of that. It’s a team problem, not individuals based. I don’t believe in singling out individuals. We need to work harder and be more together as a team, and work harder to try to get positive results.”

Spurs have conceded far too many goals in the opening stages of matches and the club’s third head coach of the season, after Antonio Conte and Cristian Stellini, has no answers to why it keeps happening.

“I’m not entirely sure because obviously it’s something we try to address, we speak about and we’re aware of,” he said. “Football can be quite funny at times. You can see little trends that happen for a period of time and you have to work hard and be together and understand what you’ve got to do to try to change that.

“Tomorrow [against Palace] is an opportunity for us to hopefully start the game in a positive way and be the team that scores the early goal.

“We don’t want to concede goals at any stage of the game and of course early on as well because it makes the task to win the match much more difficult. We’re aware of that. We’re definitely conscious of that, but at the same time, our players need to have a free mind to try to win a game of football and there can’t be too much thought into that because sometimes that can contribute as well.

“It’s finding that balance. We’re aware of the moment we’re in. We understand that tomorrow we want to win the game and we want to do all we can to win the game.”

Conte previously said that Spurs players play better without pressure but Mason is not a fan of the word.

“I don’t like the word ‘pressure’. I hate the word ‘pressure’, if I’m honest,” he explained. “If you’re playing at this club, or you’re playing in the Premier League, you’ve earnt the right to be there. It’s a reward. You should enjoy that, because it’s football, you need to enjoy it, you need to be in that moment.

“Pressure? Yeah, you can create good pressure on yourself and it can inspire you, but I don’t want my players or anyone in this group feeling any sort of negative weight on their shoulders, and that’s certainly something that I’m not going to speak about to be perfectly honest.”


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Rising Stars: The best breakthrough player from each of Europe’s top 5 leagues this season


Each season new stars emerge and the current campaign has seen a whole host of brilliant breakthroughs across Europe’s top five leagues.

From unheralded summer signings to young prospects taking their chance at senior level, there have been a number of exciting emergences in 2022/23.

As the campaign approaches its conclusion, we’ve picked out the best breakthrough player from each of Europe’s top five league this season.

Premier League – Kaoru Mitoma (Brighton)

Kaoru Mitoma has captured the attention as part of a Brighton side who continue to be the benchmark for Premier League sides bidding to break through the division’s glass ceiling.

The Seagulls have had a fantastic campaign to set new records for Premier League wins and top-flight points in a season and are on course to secure European qualification for the first time in the club’s history.

Brighton have challenged the established elite with a side built on remarkable recruitment, unearthing gems for a fraction of the fees spent elsewhere across the division. Mitoma has emerged as one of the Seagulls’ shrewdest signings of recent windows having been given his chance in English football this term.

What a season Kaoru Mitoma is having! 💫@OfficialBHAFC | @kaoru_mitoma

— Premier League (@premierleague) April 1, 2023

The Japan international was signed in a £2.7m deal from Kawasaki Frontale and spent last season on loan at Belgian side Union SG as he awaited a work permit. He spent the first half of the season on the fringes under Graham Potter, but the arrival of Roberto De Zerbi as manager and exit of Leandro Trossard to Arsenal have since seen the winger excel.

A relative late bloomer at 25, Mitoma has emerged as one of the Premier League’s most watchable talents. He wrote a well-documented university thesis on dribbling and has extensively examined opponents in a bid to gain an advantage.

Several sides are understood to be considering an approach for Mitoma – whose seven league goals are a record for a Japanese player in a Premier League season – and Brighton will receive a huge profit if he is to move on.

La Liga – Gabri Veiga (Celta Vigo)

Gabri Veiga’s performances this season have alerted top clubs across Europe with the midfielder having broken into the Celta Vigo team.

Veiga hade made just one league start before the current campaign but has seized his chance at Celta under former Swansea and Sheffield Wednesday manager Carlos Carvalhal. The 20-year-old has made 23 league starts, in which he has scored nine goals and laid on a further four assists.

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Several of the Premier League’s ‘Big Six’ have been credited with an interest in the midfielder, who earned his first cap for Spain’s u21 side in November, while Real Madrid are monitoring the progress of a prospect whose current deal contains a €40m (£35m) release clause.

That figure appears reasonable for a midfielder with huge potential, with Veiga having shown promise as a regular goalscorer when marauding forward from midfield. He has a mix of physical presence and technical ability to thrive in English football.

Bundesliga – Randal Kolo Muani (Eintracht Frankfurt)

Randal Kolo Muani might just represent the biggest bargain of the 2022/23 campaign. Eintracht Frankfurt agreed to sign the forward on a free transfer from Nantes last summer as the club looked to strengthen their squad ahead of the club’s Champions League campaign.

The 24-year-old had scored a respectable 21 league goals across the previous two Ligue 1 seasons, but few envisaged his spectacular success in the Bundesliga. Kolo Muani has been the breakout start of the Bundesliga this season and leads the division for goal involvements.

He has scored 13 goals and laid on 10 assists, ranking second on each metric in Germany’s top division. That form has seen Kolo Muani break into the France squad and he scored his first international goal for Les Bleus during their World Cup semi-final win against Morocco.

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Full of pace, purposeful running and dynamic drive in one-versus-one situations, he is capable of operating across the forward line and has thrived on the counter-attack as Frankfurt’s focal point. It’s 21 goals in all competitions for the Frenchman, who has been linked with Manchester United and Bayern Munich.

Serie A – Khvicha Kvaratskhelia (Napoli)

If there are few in Europe who had heard of Khvicha Kvaratskhelia before this season, there are not many who do not know his name now.

Kvaratskhelia spent last season with Dinamo Batumi in his native Georgia, having suspended his contract at Rubin Kazan in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Napoli signed the winger in a deal worth around €10m last summer and it is an investment that has proven inspired.

The 22-year-old has made an instant impact during an unforgettable season for Napoli, who have been head and shoulders above Italy’s best teams this season to win the Scudetto for the first time since 1990.

Kvaratskhelia has been the driving force of their success as arguably Serie A’s standout star, forming an electric understanding with Victor Osimhen that has powered Luciano Spalletii’s side to the title.

Enjoy Khvicha Kvaratskhelia’s impressive solo goal yesterday, 𝙞𝙣 𝙛𝙪𝙡𝙡 📹

— Lega Serie A (@SerieA_EN) February 18, 2023

The Georgian is captivating with the ball at his feet and leads the league for assists (10), while he has contributed 12 goals of his own in a season of magnificent performances.

Nicknamed “Kvaradona” after the Napoli legend Diego Maradona, he has won Serie A’s Player of the Month on three occasions this season and is favourite to be named as Italy’s Footballer of the Year.

Ligue 1 – Lois Openda (Lens)

Lois Openda’s goals have fired Lens to the cusp of Champions League qualification, with the forward having proven an instant success sorry in French football.

Openda signed for Lens from Club Brugge in a deal worth €10m (£8.8m) last summer, as the club looked to build on a solid return to France’s top division. Lens spent five consecutive campaigns in the second tier before successive seventh-placed finishes in Ligue 1 and have pushed on under the management of Franck Haise to edge towards Europe’s elite.

😮‍💨 @LoisOpenda brought it for @RCLens 🇧🇪

— Ligue 1 English (@Ligue1_ENG) April 24, 2023

Lens opened the campaign with 10 consecutive home wins were the first side to beat Paris Saint-Germain this season after a 3-1 win over the champions in January. Openda scored the second in that win, part of 18 league goals the forward has scored during the current campaign.

The 23-year-old has earned eight caps for Belgium since his debut last year and has scored twice for the national side. Blessed with lightning pace and cool temperament around goal, Openda scored 28 goals in all competitions on loan at Dutch side Vitesse Arnhem last season before finding his feet immediately in France.

Lens are anticipating summer interest in the striker, but are under no pressure to sell with the club on the verge of Champions League qualification.

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