Spurs have no regrets for not adding players this summer – Pochettino

Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino insisted he had no regrets over not making an off-season signing, saying he was unwilling to be drawn into adding players for the sake of it.

Spurs have won six of their opening eight Premier League games to sit fifth in the table, just two points adrift of Manchester City, Chelsea and Liverpool.

Their fine start to the campaign has come despite no additions in the off-season, which led to some criticism and questions over the strength of Spurs’ squad.

But Pochettino said the club’s lack of moves was the right decision, pointing to their good start to the season.

“We are always trying to improve our squad because football is dynamic,” he told reporters.

“But if you cannot achieve what you need or want, [making signings] because you need to make happy people or act like all the clubs, I think that is not common sense.

“We showed that we do not care. If we don’t need the players who are available to sign then why are we going to sign? That is the point.

“I was happy and am happy with the squad that I have, we have no regrets. When we started the season with three games that we won and we were top of the table people were talking in a different way, [saying] ‘Oh how clever are Tottenham because they keep all the squad from last season’.

“After we lost some games [it] started to make a big impact in the perception. But I need to remind everyone that is our best start after eight games.”

Spurs’ title credentials are set to be put to the test in the next month and a half, with matches against Manchester City, Chelsea and Arsenal to come.

Pochettino said he hoped his squad could stay healthy to get through a busy period.

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“It will be a tough month of competition for us,” he said.

“There are a lot of games ahead and it’s so important to have nearly all the squad fit to compete and play and to give options to rotate and share the games.

“We have seven games in four weeks, and it’s so important to have all fit to compete and to give the level that we want.”

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Icardi happy at Inter, wants contract renewal

Inter captain Mauro Icardi is happy to stay with the Serie A giants and is close to signing a new deal despite interest from elsewhere.

Icardi, 25, has been one of Serie A’s most prolific scorers in recent years, having scored at least 20 league goals in three of the previous four seasons.

He is off to a solid start again this year, with three goals in Serie A and a pair in the Champions League, including the winner for Inter against PSV earlier this month. 

That output has led to speculation over his future, with reports linking him to Real Madrid in the past and, more recently, Chelsea.

Icardi reportedly has a €110 million (£97m/$126m) release clause valid for foreign clubs, further clouding his outlook.

However, the Argentina international has now revealed his happiness with Inter, admitting he has had interest from other sides, but his desire to play in the Champions League with the club he joined in 2013 convinced him to remain.

“I’m happy to stay here,” Icardi, who’s current deal expires in 2021, told Sky Italia.

“There have been contacts, but I decided to stay here for myself and my family. I had the dream of playing in the Champions League in the Inter shirt and therefore I couldn’t leave.”

Icardi also confirmed that he hoped to sign a new contract with the club, though he was uncertain if it would be completed prior to the holiday season.

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“We will try to find a renewal, but I don’t know if it will arrive before Christmas.”

Icardi has returned from international duty with Argentina, where he started in their 1-0 loss to Brazil.

He and Inter will face a busy eight-day stretch starting Sunday when they battle local rivals Milan, then a midweek a Champions League date away to Barcelona and a Serie A matchup against Lazio the following Monday. 

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Ronaldo ‘the greatest there has ever been’ – Genoa’s Piatek

Genoa striker Krzysztof Piatek has proclaimed Cristiano Ronaldo “the greatest there has ever been” ahead of his club’s clash with Juventus.

Juventus are off to a perfect start to the Serie A campaign, recording eight wins from eight games thus far.

Their €100 million man Ronaldo got off to a somewhat slow start for his new club after his move from Real Madrid, but has now scored two goals and added three assists over his last four games.

With 12th placed Genoa facing a difficult task having to travel to Turin, Piatek paid tribute to Ronaldo, declaring him not only the best in the world at the moment, but also the top player of all time.

“Cristiano Ronaldo is the best player in the world right now and in my view the greatest there has ever been,” Piatek told reporters.

“At this moment, I am concentrated only on the game with Juventus. It’ll be very difficult, because we are facing the best team in Italy, but we’ll do everything possible.

“I know Wojciech Szczesny because we are international teammates, while I’ve not met Mattia Perin. I hope Szczesny is in goal on Saturday.”

The Poland international moved to Genoa this past summer after lighting up the Polish first division to the tune of 21 goals last season.

He’s not missed a beat at all in Serie A, having scored nine times already in just seven games for Genoa, including the last five for the club.

A four-goal outing against Lecce in the Coppa Italia means the 23-year-old striker has an impressive haul of 13 thus far for his new club.

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That production has seen him compared to his countryman Robert Lewandowski and has reportedly drawn him admirers from across the continent.

But at the moment, Piatek is simply keeping his eye on his current situation and professed his affection for his club’s supporters.

“I am at Genoa now and my focus is only on Genoa,” Piatek said. “There are still so many games to go this season and I am concentrated on them. I love the Genoa fans.”

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How Kepa rose from the Spanish third division to chase down De Gea

Kepa Arrizabalaga might be the most expensive goalkeeper in the world following his £71 million ($93.4m) transfer from Athletic Club to Chelsea back in August , but it was not all smooth sailing for the 24-year-old earlier in his career.

The Basque shot stopper started his career at Athletic, making a one-and-a-half hour round trip from his home in Ondarroa to the club’s Lezama complex on a regular basis from the moment he joined them at the age of 10.

He was just 17 when he made the bench for the Bilbao outfit, but he needed four years in the lower divisions to make his dream come true and play in La Liga.

Kepa earned the interest of Getafe after lining up for Athletic’s B team as a 17-year-old, but it was Ponferradina that eventually managed to lure him away from Bilbao on a temporary basis.

He immediately made an impact at his new club, and then Ponferradina coach Jose Manuel Diaz, who now works at Real Madrid, was particularly blown away by the determination of the young goalkeeper to take his chance on loan.

“I already knew him from his time with the Under-15s and Under-18s,” Diaz told Goal . “We had also faced him with Bilbao Athletic (the Athletic youth team). I asked for his signing at the beginning of the season, but could not make it happen until the winter transfer window.

“I spoke with him to get him to join the team as soon as possible. I told him ‘if you arrive on Wednesday you will play the next match against Racing Santander’ and he arrived on Tuesday. He is a great professional, even being so young as he was and he still is.

“He is a very nice guy, affable and with very clear ideas. I – and many people [at the club] – knew that he had a great future and we saw it happening before our own eyes.”

 
 
 
 
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Kepa became the first Ponferradina player ever to be called up to Spain’s Under-21 squad, and they were keen to renew his loan spell ahead of the following season. However, Athletic opted to send him to Real Valladolid instead in an attempt to speed up his development.

In Miguel Angel Portugal, Kepa had a manager who used him 40 times that season and who had little doubt the shot stopper had a great future ahead of him.

“Kepa played for me at Valladolid,” Portugal told Goal in India, where he now manages Pune City. “He was a big, big goalkeeper. I sent him a message [after he joined Chelsea] that he might be young but that he is ready to play for the best teams in the world.

“I am not surprised [he cost Chelsea £71m]. When you know Kepa, you understand what he is worth. The value of a player is not necessarily the price that a team pays for that player. The price has nothing to do with the player. It is the price that the market sets.

“For me, he is the future of Spain. He is the future goalkeeper for Spain, I am sure of this.”

Kepa Arrizabalaga Chelsea 2018-19

Following his loan spells at Ponferradina and Valladolid, Kepa went on to make his Liga debut for Athletic in September 2016 and quickly established himself as a top goalkeeper.

He even appeared to be on his way to Real Madrid in January 2018, but the deal eventually fell through, with the Santiago Bernabeu outfit then going for Thibaut Courtois instead ahead of the 2018-19 campaign.

His failed move to Madrid meant he played alongside new arrival Inigo Martinez in the second half of last season and the centre-back is confident his former team-mate is here to stay.

“He’s a great goalkeeper. He attended the World Cup while being so young,” Martinez told Goal . “Chelsea signed him for €80m, nobody pays that amount just for the sake of it, but because he is worth it. He is proving it, in fact. He is playing, performing well, winning games.

Inigo Martinez on Kepa

“He has personality, he is a great goalkeeper who performs well with his hands and his feet. Maybe [David] De Gea is ahead of him for Spain now, but we have three great goalkeepers and if one decreases his level, the other will soon take his place. Here not only the goalkeepers, but we all have to give 100 per cent because we all want to be a starter.”

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De Gea is now arguably setting the standard for goalkeepers all over the world and certainly in English football. He has been regarded as one of the undisputed best around in the game for quite some time, whereas Kepa had not even started playing in the third division in Spain when De Gea joined Manchester United.

Yet the Chelsea man now finds himself battling his compatriot for the No.1 jersey at the national team as they come prepare to face-off in the Premier League for the first time on Saturday at Stamford Bridge. That feat shows just how fast Kepa’s rise has been. 

Additional reporting from Alberto Pinero & Nikhil Jitendran.

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West Ham’s Pellegrini rejects Dzeko speculation

Manuel Pellegrini has denied West Ham are considering a January move for Edin Dzeko.

The Roma striker played for Pellegrini at Manchester City and he suggested this week he would be interested in a Premier League return.

“Regarding the Premier League, maybe it’s too late,” he told Sky Sports News. “You never know.

Dzeko hit 16 Premier League goals as Pellegrini’s City won the 2013-14 title, but he later fell out of favour and joined Roma in 2015.

Pellegrini, though, said Dzeko is not on his radar when he spoke at a news conference on Thursday.

“You can talk about five, six or seven players that are linked with us,” Pellegrini told reporters.

“We must not talk about one player. I know him well but we are not thinking about that at the moment.”

West Ham host Tottenham in a London derby on Saturday and Pellegrini expects Marko Arnautovic to be available to lead the line.

“He’s okay,” the Chilean continued. “He played just one game [for Austria in the international break]. 

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“He has worked with the squad without any problems. He must be careful with his knee.”

Pellegrini’s side face the challenge of keeping England captain Harry Kane quiet at the London Stadium.

“Harry Kane is one of the best players in the Premier League, maybe the world,” Pellegrini said. “They have a lot of international players, they have a complete squad.”

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