‘I would like to go back’ – Llorente wants out of Spurs for Bilbao return

Fernando Llorente wants a return to Athletic Bilbao after failing to make an impact at Tottenham.

The Spanish striker moved from Swansea to White Hart Lane in summer of 2017 for £13.5 million but has scored just once in 17 Premier League appearances – all but one from from bench.

Harry Kane’s dominant position as Spurs’ main goalscorer has meant limited opportunity for the 33-year-old and he has spoken openly of his desire to move to the club where he was a big favourite between 2005 and 2013.

“I would like to go back to Athletic. My priority is to feel important in the team,” he told Cadena SER

“If I have the opportunity and can talk to them, for me, yes, I would like to go back.”

Llorente is contracted to Tottenham until June 2019 with the club having the option of a 12-month extension.

But while he has clearly set his sights on leaving in the January transfer window, the veteran forward acknowledges his future is dependent on an Athletic aproach and Spurs chairman Daniel Levy agreeing a move. 

He added: “Leaving in the winter market does not depend on me, Athletic would have to talk to Tottenham and Levy.”

Manager Mauricio Pochettino left Llorente out of his squad for Saturday’s Premier League win over Leicester.

Even with Kane resting on the bench, the Spurs boss went with a strikeforce of Lucas Moura and Heung-Min Son and named rarely-used French winger Georges-Kevin Nkoudou among the Spurs substitutes.

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Llorente did make it off the bench for the Chamlions League draw with Barcelona on Tuesday which sealed Spurs’ passage to the next round.

He spent two seasons in Serie A with Juventus, winning two titles, and a year with Sevilla as well as his time with Swansea after leaving Bilbao.

Llorente was a member of Spain’s victorious 2010 World Cup and Euro 2012 squads. 


Berbatov talks up Man Utd January move for Maguire

Dimitar Berbatov has suggested that Manchester United should look at making a January move for Leicester City centre-back Harry Maguire.

Red Devils boss Jose Mourinho had been keen to strengthen his defence in the summer, with form and fitness issues having hampered United during the start of the 2018-19 campaign.

Mourinho reportedly considered Leicester’s England World Cup star a valid target in summer alongside Tottenham’s Toby Alderweireld – but reportedly failed to persude executive vice-charirman Ed Woodward to make a a big-money move for either.

The Portuguese’s desire to add a centre-back has seemingly not abated and United have been linked with Napoli’s Kalidou Koulibaly.

But Berbatov believes United should go for a player comfortable on the ball and already familiar with the Premier League if they are to make a move in the January transfer window.

And he says that Maguire, 25, would be an ideal candidate.

“It’s always difficult to buy someone that’s really good in the winter window so if you are lucky enough to buy someone then you need to keep in mind how he’s going to integrate with the team,” the Bulgarian told BT Sport .

“If it’s someone coming from a foreign league it can be more difficult than joining from an English team.

“If you’re buying a central defender then you also need to think about who you’re going to partner him with because you could buy a really good player but if it doesn’t work out then that just causes another problem.

“But I think they need someone at the back that’s comfortable on the ball and don’t buckle under pressure even when someone is attacking you.

“You need to be calm, be able to pass the ball into midfield and carry it. I think they need a player like that.

“I was really impressed with Harry Maguire in the World Cup because he was so composed on the ball and I like that quality in a defender because it benefits the whole team.”

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United face Valencia in the Champions League on Wednesday evening with centre-back Victor Lindelof ruled out and a doubts over the fitness of Chris Smalling and Eric Bailly.

Marcos Rojo and Phil Jones have also had problems this season with Mourinho turning to midfielders Nemanja Matic and Scot McTominay to plug the gaps at times.

Sixth-placed United have conceded 26 Premier League goals during a troubled campaign, more than any other team in the top six.


Man Utd to swap Alexis for Ozil? Former Arsenal star floats the idea of another trade

With Mesut Ozil seeing his value questioned at Arsenal and Alexis Sanchez facing a similar situation at Manchester United, Ray Parlour has floated the idea of another possible swap deal.

The Red Devils reached a trade agreement with their Premier League rivals in January as Sanchez arrived at Old Trafford and Henrikh Mkhitaryan moved in the opposite direction.

That switch has not proved as positive as Jose Mourinho was hoping, with a Chilean forward struggling to make his mark in Manchester.

Another move has been rumoured, while Ozil is no longer considered to be key component of the Arsenal side as Unai Emery delivers positive results during an injury-enforced absence for the German.

Parlour believes the World Cup winner still has a role to play for the Gunners and cannot see an obvious fit in the transfer market, telling talkSPORT: “I still think he is a very important player for the squad.

“I don’t know how you value him, because you have got to look at his wages, he is on a reported £350,000 a week.

“Who is going to pay that money? I think you are going to find it really tough for someone to pay that sort of money in wages.”

Asked what Ozil could be worth, Parlour added: “To value Ozil in this market, I would say £40m to £50m.”

The former Arsenal star has, however, suggested that a swap deal could be considered by United.

Alexis Sanchez Man Utd 2018

That would allow them to move out one faltering star and bring in another creative influence, but whether any of those involved in the mooted agreement would be interested remains to be seen.

Parlour added on Ozil’s links to United: “Where would he fit in there though? Would he be a player that they need?

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“They have tried one [Alexis] Sanchez haven’t they? Would they lose Sanchez and get in Ozil? Would there be a swap deal?

“I think it will come down to the wages. I would be surprised if they did.”

Arsenal tied Arsenal to a lucrative new contract in January, while Sanchez earned a considerable increase to his salary when penning a four-and-a-half-year deal at Old Trafford.


Man City complete $10m capture of USMNT goalkeeper Steffen

Columbus Crew have confirmed that United States international goalkeeper Zack Steffen has secured a $10 million (£8m) switch to Manchester City and will complete a move in July 2019.

Goal revealed last week that the 23-year-old had a deal in place to link up with the reigning Premier League champions.

The initial terms of the agreement include a $7.5m (£6m) fee that could rise to $10m if Steffen reaches certain incentives. 

That price tag will see the USMNT star re-write the record books as the most expensive goalkeeper in MLS history.

Steffen told the Crew’s official website on seeing a high-profile transfer put in place: “Any success that I have had as a goalkeeper in MLS with Crew SC is a testament to those around me who have pushed me – team-mates, coaches, staff, family, friends and supporters.

“Today’s announcement regarding next summer is a special moment for me and I look forward to finishing my time with this club on a strong note. I am eager to continue to put in the work to improve and be the best teammate I can.”

Steffen will officially become a City player when the 2019 Secondary Transfer Window opens on July 9, 2019.

Zack Steffen USA USMNT Colombia 11102018

“This is a historic transaction for the club and a special moment for Zack Steffen that we are immensely proud of,” said Columbus Crew’s interim general manager Pat Onstad.

“Today’s announcement is the culmination of two-and-a-half years of development and success for Zack.

“As someone who worked closely with Zack throughout, on behalf of the club, I would like to say that we couldn’t be happier for him.

“Manchester City Football Club is one of the top clubs in the world and we are pleased to finalize this agreement that benefits the player and both clubs.

“We continue to believe that players that come to Crew SC have an opportunity to develop and become great players either here in MLS or abroad.

“Ahead of Zack’s departure next summer, our scouts already have players targeted as the club identifies a high-caliber replacement.”

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Steffen was voted Major League Soccer Allstate Goalkeeper of the Year for 2018, becoming the second-youngest recipient of that prize and the Crew’s first since 1997.

He made his senior debut in 2017 and is considered to be a hot prospect for the future.

It does, however, remain to be seen what City’s plans are for him, with it likely that a loan move will be required as he waits on a UK work permit.


Marcelino suggests Valencia open to Batshuayi departure

Valencia coach Marcelino has suggested the club are open to Michy Batshuayi leaving after an underwhelming loan spell from Chelsea.

Batshuayi joined Chelsea in 2016 to significant fanfare after impressing with Marseille, but he has had little impact at the club.

The 25-year-old made 28 appearances in his first season at Stamford Bridge, scoring nine goals, including the winner at West Brom that secured the Premier League title. 

However just seven of those appearances were starts, with Batshuayi struggling to dislodge Diego Costa from the central striking role under Antonio Conte.

After again struggling for regular starts during the first half of last season Batshuayi was shipped out to Borussia Dortmund on a temporary deal in January and caught the eye, scoring seven times in 10 Bundesliga games.

That form saw him attract significant interest in pre-season, with Chelsea again keen to see him leave, and Valencia struck a deal which included a purchase option.

However, he has struggled to replicate his Dortmund form in Spain, scoring just once in 13 La Liga outings. That has sparked reports claiming Valencia want to send him back to Chelsea early.

When asked about Batshuayi’s future Marcelino did little to cool such speculation.

“At the right time will analyse the final situation and we will decide [what to do with Batshuayi],” Marcelino told reporters.

“There is a transfer [clause], I do not know what the situation is contractually, but for all parties who want to leave, we will look for what is best for Valencia and thus the appropriate decisions will be made.”

Valencia’s form has begun to improve in recent weeks after a poor start to the season that saw them win just one of their first 13 matches in all competitions.

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Four wins out of their last seven games have lifted Los Che up to 15th in La Liga and progress in Copa del Rey.

However, the club have been eliminated from the Champions League having taken just five points from five matches.

They take on Manchester United at the Mestalla in their final group game on Wednesday already guaranteed to finish third in Group H and drop into the Europa League next year.