Tottenham & Liverpool’s Different Paths One Year on From the Champions League Final

Virgil van Dijk, Joe Gomez - Soccer Player
Liverpool players celebrate their Champions League win in 2019 | Visionhaus/Getty Images

Cor, funny how things can change in the space of a year, eh?

Around this time in 2019, the streets of Liverpool were drenched in a sea of red as fans of the Merseyside club rejoiced in light of their historic sixth European crown.

Jurgen Klopp’s side deservedly triumphed over Tottenham in the 2019 Champions League final, with goals from Mohamed Salah and Divock Origi proving enough to overcome a frustrated Spurs.

Divock OrigiDivock Origi
Divock Origi – Liverpool | Harriet Lander/Copa/Getty Images

But while one club from the showpiece in Madrid went on to dominate the Premier League this season, with all kinds of records set to be smashed, the other struggled embarrassingly, ditched their best manager for an age and now need to rebuild with a more vociferous boss in charge.

Make no mistake, Liverpool were almost as brilliant during the 2018/19 term as they are currently. Only a freakish Manchester City side stopped them completing what would have been an extraordinary Premier League and Champions League double.

They may have been helped by Manchester City’s odd summer of recruitment this time around, but the Reds’ record of 27 league wins from 29 games remains ridiculous. They’ve received all the plaudits in the world, each and every one of them deserved.

Harry Kane - Soccer PlayerHarry Kane - Soccer Player
Harry Kane – Tottenham | Visionhaus/Getty Images

Funnily enough, their recruitment in the summer of 2019 was minimal. Goalkeepers Adrian and Andy Lonergan were brought in for added depth behind Alisson, while incoming Sepp van der Berg and Harvey Elliott pointed towards Liverpool’s plan for the future.

While the Reds were content with their belief that their squad could go on and conquer England, those in north London knew extra spice was needed.

Tanguy Ndombele and Giovani Lo Celso were signed to bolster Tottenham’s midfield, which had been a weak area since the departure of Mousa Dembele, while hot prospect Ryan Sessegnon was snapped up.

Tottenham Hotspur vs Manchester CityTottenham Hotspur vs Manchester City
Tottenham Hotspur vs Manchester City | Sebastian Frej/MB Media/Getty Images

Most of the deals were completed late in the window, because that’s how Spurs conduct business, and while Lo Celso came into his own around December and January, Tottenham’s other two main signings have struggled for fitness and form.

What also didn’t help former manager Mauricio Pochettino was how the form of almost all his players totally dropped off in the opening months of the season.

When the Argentine wanted Christian Eriksen to deliver a good set piece, the Dane would hit the first man. When he wanted Danny Rose to stay tight and defend, the left-back let Joelinton run and score. When he wanted his captain and goalkeeper to catch a cross in the opening minutes against Brighton, Hugo Lloris dropped the ball and broke his arm.

Liverpool and Tottenham were the Champions League’s best two teams last term, but they were ranked first and 14th in the Premier League by the time of Pochettino’s sacking in November.

Virgil Van DijkVirgil Van Dijk
Liverpool vs Brighton | Chloe Knott – Danehouse/Getty Images

Nowadays, Jurgen Klopp is undoubtedly the big shiny thing in the managerial world. He’s pushed Pep Guardiola aside with ease this season and has installed a ridiculous level of confidence among his players, which was clearly evident from Virgil van Dijk and Andy Robertson’s post-match interviews after their first leg loss to Atletico Madrid in the Champions League.

They’re the team to beat in Europe right now – aside from arguably Bayern Munich – and they know they are.

Just contrast that with Tottenham’s current state. While every player at Anfield knows their role, there’s still a lot of mystery over in N17.

Jose MourinhoJose Mourinho
Jose Mourinho – Tottenham | Sebastian Frej/MB Media/Getty Images

Nobody knows what Spurs’ best team is. Pochettino couldn’t figure it out before he departed, and the following performances under new manager Jose Mourinho would suggest the former Chelsea boss is still working things out.

One team has taken its chance to move among Europe’s elite clubs with its strategy over the past few years, and the other came very close to realising its potential but must now start the process all over again. While Liverpool’s stars will most likely stay at the club for plenty more years, Tottenham have to convince their key performers that things will get better.

But if they don’t, Tottenham will continue to look up to Liverpool as the side they could have been.

For more from Jude Summerfield, follow him on Twitter!


Steven Bergwijn Could Bring the Impetus That Tottenham’s Season Desperately Needs

Steven Bergwijn celebrates
Steven Bergwijn celebrates | BEN STANSALL/Getty Images

We can all agree that a player being ‘like a new signing’ after returning from injury is one of football’s most ridiculous clichés, right?

No one puts Sky Sports News notifications on their phone to see if Eric Dier has recovered from tonsillitis yet, and you’d struggle to hear a murmur of anticipation circulate round the ground as Ben Davies returns from his ankle ligament injury.

So bear with me when I say that Tottenham’s new signing Steven Bergwijn is going to feel like a new signing all over again when the Premier League gets back underway on 17 June.

Bergwijn at PSVBergwijn at PSV
Bergwijn at PSV | ANP Sport/Getty Images

Of course, it’ll be even harder for him to feel like a new signing given how unforgettable his debut was in the first place.

Spurs’ backs-against-the-wall victory against a ten-man Manchester City was one of the highlights of a miserable season in N17, and a day of surprises started off with Bergwijn in the starting lineup.

Plenty of heads were turned when the young Dutchman started dashing with abandon at a City side that had won the league with 98 points, and he didn’t seem particularly fussed that he was up against none other than Kyle Walker, as he attempted to fashion an opening for Tottenham in a game of few opportunities.

Bergwijn celebrates his goal against Man City]Bergwijn celebrates his goal against Man City]
Bergwijn celebrates his goal against Man City] | BEN STANSALL/Getty Images

When City suddenly went down to ten after Oleksandr Zinchenko’s sending off, Spurs had an opening the size of a keyhole to take something from a match in which they had been comfortably second best, and Bergwijn was the man to take the initiative.

As if to emphasise the miniscule window of opportunity Spurs possessed, Bergwijn had a split second to set himself, control Lucas Moura’s pass with his chest, and curve the ball around Fernandinho and into the bottom corner of Ederson’s goal – and he made an elaborate sequence of movements look as coordinated as clockwork.

The Dutchman was almost flat from exhaustion when he came off shortly after, and showed in that pulsating evening in north London that he is a player who thrives on making things look simple when the game is at its highest tempo.

Bergwijn challenges Chelsea's Mason MountBergwijn challenges Chelsea's Mason Mount
Bergwijn challenges Chelsea’s Mason Mount | Craig Mercer/MB Media/Getty Images

But things outside of Bergwijn were far from simple, as the storm which always seems to rage around a José Mourinho side grew in intensity in the weeks that followed that match.

With Harry Kane already sidelined for (what was thought to be) the season, Son Heung-min, the natural replacement, fractured his arm against Aston Villa, while Erik Lamela was as permanently sidelined as ever, to say nothing of the Cold War between Mourinho and Tanguy Ndombele.

Bergwijn, before getting injured himself, was called upon to contribute in a crucial period of the season, but in key matches against Burnley, Chelsea, Leipzig and Norwich couldn’t register a goal or assist as Spurs made a royal mess of three different competitions.

Steven BergwijnSteven Bergwijn
Steven Bergwijn | Harriet Lander/Copa/Getty Images

While it would be easy to interpret this slump as Bergwijn regressing to the mean and struggling with the step up from Eredivisie football with PSV Eindhoven, but there is plenty of mitigation that must be accounted for.

At Stamford Bridge, as a limp Spurs withered against Chelsea, Bergwijn (who is 5’10”, by the way), was tasked with leading the line, and unsurprisingly, Antonio Rudiger, and Andreas Christensen (6’3 and 6’2 respectively) were barely troubled by him.

Though he was largely in his favoured position on the left in other matches, when a player is looking up and seeing an out-of-form Dele in the middle, or Lucas Moura pretending to be a striker, some disappointing creative returns can be accounted for.

Bergwijn wins a penalty against VillaBergwijn wins a penalty against Villa
Bergwijn wins a penalty against Villa | Robbie Jay Barratt – AMA/Getty Images

Conversely, what Bergwijn also showed Tottenham supporters over a short period was the myriad of ways in which he can be useful in the short term.

Even the most inattentive of viewers was probably aware of Bergwijn’s speed and dribbling ability against Villa at Villa Park, with Dean Smith’s back three thoroughly at his mercy as he tied Bjorn Engels up in knots to win Spurs a penalty on the stroke of half time.

Against Wolves, another exciting string to his bow – he knows where the net is. At the age of 22 Bergwijn already had 29 PSV goals to his name, and showed exactly why in Spurs’ loss against Wolves, alert to where the ball was the entire time as he powerfully seized on Rui Patricio’s save from Dele to score Tottenham’s opener.

Steven BergwijnSteven Bergwijn
Steven Bergwijn | James Williamson – AMA/Getty Images

Bergwijn’s contribution to the home leg of Spurs’ tie against Leipzig, a game where Spurs struggled to execute their game plan, was subtler, but showcased arguably the most polished side of his game – his technique.

The Dutchman remains the Eredivisie’s third-highest assist-maker this season, and there were signs of an understanding with another technical wizard in Giovani Lo Celso, who Bergwijn was continually finding on the left side of the final third.

His technique is also visible in just how accurate and aesthetically pleasing his shooting from distance is, with Péter Gulácsi requiring his wits about him to avoid the same fate as Ederson as Bergwijn almost beautifully curled the ball into the bottom corner.

Bergwijn and SonBergwijn and Son
Bergwijn and Son | Justin Setterfield/Getty Images

And he did all of this with a barely functional left side, as Ryan Sessegnon continues to adapt to a big step up and Ben Davies continues to remain terrified of what lies beyond the halfway line.

If what Bergwijn can offer a fit and firing Spurs immediately after the restart is visible, it’s also necessary to mention the long-term benefits of his signing.

Son, at 27, won’t be around forever, Lucas is destined to remain an effective squad player, and the powers that be seem to be readying for Erik Lamela’s departure this summer.

Erik LamelaErik Lamela
Erik Lamela | ANP Sport/Getty Images

While many Spurs fans were bemused at Bergwijn’s signing given the gaping hole in the middle of the park which probably needs to be addressed sooner rather than later, players always decline sooner than we think, and Bergwijn was just one exciting, younger piece in an atrophying squad that needed a reboot.

In the medium-term, too, he grants Spurs tactical flexibility and the capacity to rotate, allowing the two-footed Son to play on the right where necessary, or matching the Korean’s intensity as a substitute.

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Bergwijn is the classic ‘do-it-all’ modern winger, and as Liverpool have shown, you can never have too many of them. Keep an eye out for him operating at maximum velocity as Spurs finally attempt to get into gear.


Building Inter’s Perfect Serie A Side

Javier Zanetti - Inter
Javier Zanetti – Inter | Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

With Antonio Conte at the helm and a resourceful backing off the pitch from big investors, the future is looking bright for Inter supporters.

The Nerazzurri had slumped during the mid-2010s following the departure of Jose Mourinho, but some astute business in the transfer market has seen the San Siro side emerge as title challengers again.

A club steeped in history, Inter and their fans have seen some incredible talents grace the Giuseppe Meazza, and here we’ve put together their ultimate player, from brains to brawn. Go figure.

Esteban Cambiasso - InterEsteban Cambiasso - Inter
Esteban Cambiasso – Inter | Giuseppe Bellini/Getty Images

There weren’t many more distinctive sights in football than seeing Cambiasso’s shiny head glisten under the lights of the Giuseppe Meazza.

The Argentine midfielder arrived at Inter after a short and uneventful spell with Real Madrid and adapted beautifully to Serie A, becoming an integral part of the Nerazzurri first-team.

A true student of the game, Cambiasso remodelled his style of play to suit his new role at Inter. With supreme footballing IQ, he was able to contribute both to defensive and attacking phases from central midfield.

Marco Materazzi - InterMarco Materazzi - Inter
Marco Materazzi – Inter | CHRISTOPHE SIMON/Getty Images

The sort of player you absolutely hate playing against but one you’d love to have on your team, Materazzi took on the role of hard man and defensive rock.

When he wasn’t chirping away in an opponent’s ears, Materazzi was providing the defensive grit and steely determination needed to succeed at the highest level.

He was also a commanding figure in the air, shown during the 2006/07 season when he scored ten Serie A goals from central defence. Obviously, the majority of those where headers from set pieces. Scored in a World Cup final, too.

Wesley Sneijder - InterWesley Sneijder - Inter
Wesley Sneijder – Inter | Marco Luzzani/Getty Images

Truly one of world football’s unsung heroes, Sneijder was offloaded to Inter from Real Madrid back in 2009. The Dutchman settled quickly and became a vital piece of Mourinho’s treble winning outfit.

Sneijder was able to dictate the tempo of games from midfield, using his excellent vision and passing range, while his ball control and dribbling skills allowed him to steer clear of opponents and open up defences.

With a keen eye for goal, Sneijder often found himself on the scoring sheet in big games. His performances for Inter and Holland in 2010 left many outraged at his overlooking for that year’s Ballon d’Or prize.

Javier Zanetti - InterJavier Zanetti - Inter
Javier Zanetti – Inter | Etsuo Hara/Getty Images

Mr. Inter himself, Zanetti arrived from Banfield in 1995 and went on to spend 19 illustrious seasons with the Nerazzurri.

Zanetti was versatile, playing in both defensive midfield and at full back, but it was his work ethic that shone through. No matter where he was playing, he gave his all.

The engine on Zanetti was spectacular, so spectacular that it served him at the highest level right up to the ripe old age of 40. He’s probably still charging around some five-a-side pitch in Milan on Wednesday nights – with social distancing measures in place, of course.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic - InterZlatan Ibrahimovic - Inter
Zlatan Ibrahimovic – Inter | Claudio Villa/Getty Images

When it comes to strength and physique, one of the first players who springs to mind has to be Ibrahimovic. The towering Swede quickly jumped ship from Juventus after their relegation in 2006, joining Inter.

Ibrahimovic’s stint at the club helped establish him as a top level striker, as tallied well into double-digit goals in his three Scudetti winning seasons with the Nerazzurri.

Zlatan’s ability to utilise his athletic 6’4 frame, coupled with natural goalscoring instinct, makes him virtually unplayable at times. Dominant in the air and untouchable when holding the ball up, Ibrahimovic strikes fear into defenders, and rightfully so. The guy’s got a black belt in taekwondo.

Obafemi Martins - InterObafemi Martins - Inter
Obafemi Martins – Inter | Etsuo Hara/Getty Images

Martins rose to fame early on in his career while at Inter. The young Nigerian forward showed great promise with his goalscoring ability, but it was his blistering speed that was most eye-catching.

Martins was insanely athletic, often displayed by his big back-flips in his goal celebrations.

Back in his Inter days, he could apparently run 100 metres in 10.6 seconds – an astonishing feat. Pro Evolution Soccer fans will definitely remember reaping the benefits of playing as Inter with this man up front.

Ronaldo - InterRonaldo - Inter
Ronaldo – Inter | Claudio Villa/Getty Images

Arguably the greatest striker to have ever graced the game, Ronaldo arrived at Inter off the back of an astounding season for Barcelona in La Liga. Il Fenomeno hit the ground running at Inter, winning the Ballon d’Or in his first season with the club.

Known for his powerful dribbling ability, often rounding the keeper or bursting the net with a vicious strike, Ronaldo could do it all. Inter began to build their team around their new talisman as the Nerazzurri looked for their first Scudetto since 1989.

It wasn’t all plain sailing, however. Ronaldo suffered recurring knee injuries that saw him frequently sidelined toward the end of his stint in Milan. Ronaldo made 98 appearances for Inter, scoring 59 goals before moving to Real Madrid in 2002.

Alvaro Recoba - InterAlvaro Recoba - Inter
Alvaro Recoba – Inter | New Press/Getty Images

Recoba was relatively unknown upon his arrival at Inter from Nacional in 1997. They may not have known it at the time, but Nerazzurri fans soon discovered they had a special talent on their hands.

The Uruguayan marked his debut with a stunning brace against Brescia, scoring a 30-yard rocket and a masterful free-kick from even further out. The man just simply could not score a normal goal. Possessing one of the sweetest left foots we have seen in Serie A, El Chino’s debut set the tone for the rest of his Inter career.

Inter fans were regularly treated to Recoba’s moments of sheer brilliance. Just have a look at his highlight reel, you certainly will not be disappointed.


Building Borussia Dortmund’s Perfect Bundesliga Footballer

Jadon Malik Sancho, Mats Hummels
TF-Images/Getty Images

Over the years Borussia Dortmund have seen some of the world’s greatest players pull on the black and yellow jersey.

And while Bayern Munich have been the dominant side for the majority of the last 30 years, Dortmund have had their moments in the sun and these players are a large part of that.

In an effort to create the greatest player in Dortmund’s history, we’re going to take the best features from a number of past players and combine them to make the ultimate hybrid. This should be fun.

The only Dortmund captain to ever lift the Champions League, you won’t find many German footballers more decorated than Sammer.

Whether it was in midfield or when he moved back into a libero role, Sammer’s footballing IQ was off the charts and the 2x German Footballer of the Year rarely put a foot wrong for Dortmund.

A Ballon d’Or winner, Sammer led Dortmund to significant success throughout his time at BVB and a large part of that was down to his football brain.

Jadon SanchoJadon Sancho
Jadon Sancho | TF-Images/Getty Images

Despite still only being 20 years old, Jadon Sancho has emerged as one of football’s hottest properties and a large part of that is acute eye for a pass.

Sancho burst onto the scene last year and has gone on to record 17 assists in both of his full seasons as a first team regular at the club.

The winger is dangerous in more ways than one and despite his excellent goal scoring record, it’s his playmaking ability makes him really standout as one of the best young players in the world.

Marco ReusMarco Reus
Marco Reus | TF-Images/Getty Images

A Dortmund legend, Marco Reus first joined BVB when he was seven years old – before returning in 2012 – and has become famed for his exceptional technical talent and his incredible work-rate on and off the ball.

Reus has always given 110% in a Black and Yellow shirt and the winger regularly outworks anyone who shares a pitch with him.

Mats HummelsMats Hummels
Mats Hummels | DeFodi Images/Getty Images

During two separate spells at Dortmund, Mats Hummels has been a force at the back for the Blacks and Yellows. Hummels played an integral role in Dortmund’s 2010/11 Bundesliga success, winning the league with the best defensive record in the division.

Hummels has gained a reputation for his strength and tough tackling during his career. He’s a forward’s worst nightmare.

Stefan Reuter | OLIVER LANG/Getty Images

Nicknamed ‘Turbo’ for his blistering pace, there was only one option for this.

Reuter regularly tortured opposition defences with his speed and throughout his BVB career, there was no one in the Bundesliga who could keep up with him down the flank.

Reuter made over 300 appearances for Dortmund and even captained the side for six years.

Robert LewandowskiRobert Lewandowski
Robert Lewandowski | Boris Streubel/Getty Images

One of the greatest forwards in Bundesliga history, Lewandowski’s finishing is unparalleled in recent times, and the Polish striker has gone on to become the highest scoring non-German in Bundesliga history.

There’s no right foot that ever played for Dortmund that is quite as lethal as Lewandowski’s.

Whether it was for Dortmund or currently at Bayern Munich, Lewandowski has been nothing short of unplayable for almost a decade and is an easy choice for the right foot of our hybrid player.

Andy Moller and Fabio CannavaroAndy Moller and Fabio Cannavaro
Andreas Möller | Stu Forster/Getty Images

As an attacking midfielder, Möller was capable of using his right or left foot as he destroyed Bundesliga defences for Dortmund, but as we’ve got our right foot already in place, it’s the German’s left we’ll be taking.

A creative playmaker, Möller assisted almost as many goals as he scored for Dortmund during two spells at BVB, proving he was dangerous in more than one area for the club.


Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang ‘Hasn’t Been Offered New Deal’ by Arsenal Amid Exit Speculation

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang | Julian Finney/Getty Images

Arsenal have not offered forward Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang a new deal, contrary to reports that a contract extension had been tabled.

The Gabon international is the club’s record signing, having joined from Borussia Dortmund for £56m in 2017.

However, Aubameyang’s deal expires in 2021, leaving this summer as the potential final opportunity for the club to cash in on the player.

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French news outlet L’Equipe [via the Daily Mail], had reported earlier on Monday that Arsenal had offered Aubameyang a new deal in order to tie down last season’s top scorer and fend off interest from the likes of PSG.

However, according to ESPN journalist Julien Laurens, Arsenal have not offered the 30-year-old a new contract.

90min revealed in April that Arsenal had no plans to offer Aubameyang a fresh deal, and were prepared to cash in on him in the summer in order to avoid him leaving on a free – as Aaron Ramsey did last summer, moving to Juventus at the end of his contract.

The Gunners captain was expected to seek a pay rise as part of a new deal, but with the ongoing financial uncertainty as a result of the coronavirus outbreak, offering bumper new contracts is not something the club are prepared to do.

Arsenal have already begun compensating for the financial impact of coronavirus, with staff and players agreeing to take a 12.5% wage deduction in April.

Aubameyang has more than lived up to his price tag since arriving in north London, hitting 61 goals in just 97 games for the club over the last two and a half seasons.

Pierre-Emerick AubameyangPierre-Emerick Aubameyang
DeFodi Images/Getty Images

His 22 goals in the Premier League last season saw him tie for the Golden Boot, alongside Mo Salah and Sadio Mané.

Paris Saint-Germain have reportedly been keeping tabs on the forward, as have Chelsea and Inter. All of those clubs should be able to offer Aubameyang Champions League football, which he has so far been starved of since his move to the Gunners.