Timo Werner and girlfriend ‘pondering’ Liverpool move as RB Leipzig boss provides update

RB Leipzig boss Julian Nagelsmann says striker Timo Werner is considering leaving the Bundesliga this summer amid rumours Liverpool are weighing up whether to activate his £52million release clause.

Werner has continued his rich goalscoring form since the German top-flight returned to action amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The 24-year-old netted a hat-trick against Mainz at the weekend which only sparked further excitement on Merseyside.

Jurgen Klopp was thought to be close to an agreement with Werner before the coronavirus crisis.

It is unclear how Liverpool’s summer budget will be affected by the loss of revenue in recent months.

Nagelsmann claims his star will be thinking with his partner, 23-year-old Julia Nagler, about joining the Premier League leaders.

“He is in a good mood, feels good and trains well,” Nagelsmann told Sport Bild.

“I do not have the impression that he is carrying a large cross with him. But he is a young guy who is sure to sit at home with his girlfriend and ponder whether he will stay or change.

“When the question is in the room, you are always a little bit somewhere else. It was no different for me than when in Hoffenheim, it was about whether I go away.

“It is more obvious with strikers, because then there are phases in which they do not score.”

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Werner has flirted with a move to Liverpool with his comments in recent times.

He said: “I know that Liverpool is the best team at the moment in the world.

“When you’re linked with that team it makes me very proud.

“It’s a pleasure but I know that Liverpool have a lot of good players and I have to improve myself, to learn much more things to get on this level to play there.”

Meanwhile, former forward Tony Cascarino thinks there could be an issue with Werner moving to Anfield.

He said: “If he were to leave RB Leipzig it would need to be for a club similar to the style of Nagelsmann’s team. In the Premier League, that’s Liverpool.

“They are the team who get three or four players into advanced attacking positions in every move.

“But I can’t see him forcing his way into the starting line-up ahead of [Mohamed] Salah, Sadio Mane or Roberto Firmino.”

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Rafael Nadal sends message to young guns trying to end dominance with Federer and Djokovic

Rafael Nadal says he is not ready to move aside for the emerging crop of talent in men’s tennis and vowed to ‘last as long as possible’.

Alongside Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic, Nadal has dominated the sport, winning the last 13 Grand Slams combined.

However, there have been some signs that the likes of Stefanos Tsitsipas, Dominic Thiem, Alexander Zverev and Daniil Medvedev are ready to make their mark at the majors.

For now, those players must wait for the tennis season to potentially resume in August and renew the battle between the elder statesmen and the future stars of men’s tennis.

And speaking in an interview with ESPN, Nadal made clear he was up for the fight.

“The reality is that they are already there,” he said when asked about the young players.

“There are many young players fighting for the maximum and winning important things. They have not been able to do it in Grand Slams, also because we have not left.

“So now there is a very nice fight between young people and old men that I hope will last as long as possible.”

Nadal’s comments come after Boris Becker, who coached Djokovic to six Grand Slam titles in their three years together, issued a plea for the young generation to step up in 2021.

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“Maybe 2021 will see the breakthrough of the young guns because they will be a year more experienced, and the older players are another year older,” Becker told Laureus.com.

“The big three have won everything multiple times. I think it’s for the younger generation to step up.

“The best one of the rest for the last two years has been Dominic Thiem. He’s made three major finals and played beautifully against Novak, losing in five sets in Melbourne.

“I like Stefanos Tsitsipas very much, the way he presents himself on and off the court and the way he plays the game.

“From a German point of view I like Sascha Zverev a lot, you know he was in the semi-final in Melbourne and he’s still only 22, so he has a long career ahead of him.

“There are other younger players that are fascinating.

“I would like to see the top three still at their best, and being beaten. I don’t want the young generation to take over when the top three won’t play anymore or are actually too old.

“I want to see a final between a 22-year-old and a 33-year-old. That would be the best thing in tennis. So guys, step up to the plate.”

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Gary Neville reveals why coronavirus lockdown ‘helps’ Man Utd and Tottenham

Gary Neville believes Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur have benefitted from the Premier League’s suspension due to the coronavirus crisis. The top flight has been paused since Leicester City’s 4-0 thrashing of relegation strugglers Aston Villa at the King Power Stadium.

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Manchester United – one of the form teams since the turn of the year – were expected to be without Paul Pogba (ankle) and Marcus Rashford (back) for the bulk of the remaining games but the break in play means they will now be available when play resumes.

Tottenham, meanwhile, will have Harry Kane and Son Heung-Min available after their recoveries from a hamstring injury and a fractured arm respectively.

And Neville believes the availability of those key players means the Premier League suspension has been a positive for the two clubs.

“I think the lockdown helps Tottenham because they get Kane and Son back,” the former England international said on Sky Sports‘ The Football Show. “I think it helps Manchester United because they get Pogba and Rashford back.

“I know we say that these clubs have squads because they’re the big clubs but, particularly at Tottenham, you cannot lose Harry Kane and be impacted greatly.

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“Son, I think is a player that can go into any team in the world. His style of play is so modern, he’s a modern forward, he can play left, he can play right, he can play off the front.

“I think in some ways he’s as important to Tottenham as Harry Kane, I think with Harry Kane you need Son playing alongside him. He makes the runs past that creates the space.”

Pogba and Rashford’s return to fitness means Ole Gunnar Solskjaer should have a wealth of options at his disposal as the Red Devils hunt down Chelsea for fourth place.

“They’re looking good, they’ve joined training now and they’ve done everything the other boys have been doing. No reaction so far, touch wood,” Solskjaer said.

“When we get started, it looks like we can have a full squad to choose from.”

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Tottenham boss Jose Mourinho, who will also have Steven Bergwijn and Moussa Sissoko available after injury, is unsure whether his fit-again stars will be ready to play, however.

“I cannot say in this moment they are ready to play because one thing is to recover from an injury, and another is to be ready to play football,” he said.

“In Harry’s case, I think for about five months he hasn’t played, but all of them are not injured any more. They are training, and training is what it is at the moment, training has a lot of limitations. We cannot compete, we cannot do one versus one, we have to keep a certain distance, we cannot compete.

“Harry Kane, Son, Bergwijn, Sissoko, all of them are fine. I think with a couple of weeks of normal training, when the authorities tell us we can train normally I think in a couple of weeks, the boys will be ready to play, of course not in the maximum of their potential, I think nobody can do that in this moment.

“For us, of course, it is a great feeling, because we finished the period with that defeat at Leipzig, where we were really, really in trouble to have 11 players, including attacking players, and in this moment (Erik) Lamela, Son, Dele (Alli), Harry Kane, Bergwijn, everybody is fit now.”

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Premier League clubs set to delay restart date with Spurs vs Man Utd eyed as opening clash

Premier League clubs are set to push for the 2019/20 campaign to restart later than June 12. Tottenham Hotspur’s home clash against Manchester United has been pencilled in as the big match to get the season back up and running.

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Premier League action has been on hold since Leicester City romped to a 4-0 win against relegation-threatened Aston Villa on Match 13 due to the coronavirus crisis.

Project Restart stepped up a gear when players returned to their respective training grounds for socially-distanced training in groups of five last week.

The Government has given the green light to close-contact training while full matches will be permissible from June 1 under new guidelines.

A raft of meetings are scheduled to take place in the coming days to move to ‘Phase Two’ of the return to training protocols and draw up a framework for the return to match action.

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Premier League chief executive Richard Masters is “confident” about getting top-flight football back underway next month but admits a degree of flexibility over the resumption date is required.

And it appears clubs will take advantage of that flexibility and ask for more time to prepare for the big kick off.

According to ESPN, a number of clubs are concerned June 12 is too soon to return to action because players need at least three weeks of full training to get back up to speed. Therefore, June 19 or 26 have been earmarked as more realistic restart dates.

A number of players including Chelsea midfielder N’Golo Kante and Watford forward Troy Deeney are staying away from the training ground due to health worries.

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The Premier League has been encouraged by the Bundesliga’s safe return to action. Germany’s top-two divisions have enjoyed two weekends of action behind closed doors without controversy.

While the sterility of Bundesliga games has been highlighted, the overwhelming majority are pleased just to have football to watch.

But Burnley boss Sean Dyche has warned that fans are in for a shock when football resumes on these shores.

“This is going to be totally different,” he said. “The early games will be like the end of a pre-season.

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“You might get a few odd results. Firstly, the chances are it is going to be hotter. We do not normally play through a summer programme so that will be different.

“Secondly, the games are going to be coming around much quicker. That has to be figured into it when people talk about the tempo.

“They should not just think that there is no crowd so that explains why the tempo is different. It is not just that.

“Those two factors are going to make it different as well. It is going to affect things and people need to be open-minded about that.”

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Man Utd and Chelsea backed to sign Timo Werner because of Liverpool issue

Liverpool have been heavily linked with a move for RB Leipzig star Timo Werner but Owen Hargreaves thinks the striker may be better off moving to Manchester United or Chelsea.

It was though Liverpool were close to agreeing a deal with the German forward until the coronavirus pandemic hit and disrupted their plans.

Werner has a relatively modest £52million release clause which is attractive to potential suitors.

But Hargreaves, who spent seven years in the Bundesliga with Bayern Munich, thinks the 24-year-old would not be guaranteed regular minutes at Anfield.

Instead, he reckons Werner should move to Old Trafford or Stamford Bridge as both United and Chelsea are in the market for a new attacker.

“He is not going to get ahead of [Roberto] Firmino, who is one of my favourite players,” Hargreaves said while co-commentating on Leipzig’s away trip to Mainz.

“With the way United play right now, I could see him there. They are looking for that number nine position too.

“Chelsea might be a good fit.

“He is perfect for Liverpool in a way but he is not going to get a start.

“He has got all the right attributes but he is not going to play in front of Roberto Firmino.”

Hargreaves has previously compared Werner to former Liverpool and Chelsea striker Fernando Torres.

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He explained: “Werner is the Fernando Torres type, where he is super explosive, he will run away from anyone.

“He’s got to make sure that he gets the right fit. We saw this with Torres when he left Liverpool, the way they played, Stevie G [Gerrard] playing those balls through the middle — a match made in heaven.

“Then he goes to Chelsea where they had a lot of slow possession and no space to run into. That’s not a great fit.

“He was a super player, Chelsea were a super team, but you’ve got to play to a player’s strengths.

“Werner would suit Liverpool. They counter and transition better than anyone. He will be doing homework on who will be a good fit for him.”

Werner bagged a brace as Leipzig stormed into a 4-0 lead against Mainz on Sunday afternoon.

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Marina Granovskaia’s top six best player sales as Chelsea prepare to offload more flops

Chelsea are gearing up for a frenetic transfer window as Frank Lampard prepares to overhaul his squad this summer. A number of new signings in key areas are required, and the Blues have already been linked with a host of potential transfer targets.

But the ongoing coronavirus crisis is placing a huge strain on club finances and could discourage business from taking place, meaning swap deals will play a vital role in squad building.

Generating funds through the sale of unwanted players will also be key if Chelsea are to have any pulling power in such a fragile market, meaning the spotlight will fall on Blues director Marina Granovskaia.

The 45-year-old is an expert in getting transfer deals done while the Russian-Canadian also has an uncanny knack for extracting the maximum possible value out of unwanted assets.

And with the current Chelsea squad bloated by a number of out-of-favour stars, Granovskaia has her work cut out ensuring the Blues see a return on their failed investments.

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The groundwork has already been laid with Tiemoue Bakayoko closing on a £31million move to PSG, having shone on loan at former club Monaco this season.

Emerson Palmieri and Marcos Alonso also have plenty of suitors but Davide Zappacosta and Victor Moses may prove more difficult to shift while the lack of interest in Michy Batshuayi is telling.

The biggest challenge for Granovskaia will be finding a buyer for Danny Drinkwater, who still has two years left to run on his £100,000-a-week contract after joining from Leicester for £35m in 2017.

But the Chelsea director has form when it comes to springing unexpected deals, with The Athletic highlighting six of her best ahead of this summer’s window.

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First up is Alvaro Morata, who was signed from Real Madrid for an eye-watering £58m in 2017 but failed to settle at Stamford Bridge and managed just 24 goals in 72 outings across all competitions.

Despite this meagre return, Granovskaia managed to convince Atletico Madrid to take the Spaniard on loan for 18 months then commit to shelling out the same fee Chelsea paid in order to sign the striker permanently this summer.

Granovskaia also masterminded Oscar’s £60m switch to Shanghai SIPG in December 2016, sanctioning a then club-record sale for a player who had been made redundant by Antonio Conte’s formation change earlier in the campaign.

The windfall helped bail Chelsea out after failing to qualify for the Champions League the previous season and ensured they remained compliant with Financial Fair Play regulations.

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The sale of Papy Djilobodji to Sunderland for £8m in August 2016 was astounding, considering the Senegalese defender was signed for £2.7m and made just one appearance for the Blues.

And Granovskaia managed to secure a fee in the region of £57m from Atletico Madrid for Diego Costa, despite the player’s best efforts to disrupt negotiations.

The volatile Spaniard was superb in spells at Stamford Bridge but fell out with Conte in January 2017 and refused to return to training the following summer, demanding he be sold to Los Rojiblancos.

Despite next to no leverage, Chelsea were able to pocket a £32m profit on the frontman who has since been hampered by injuries and poor form.

The Athletic then mention Nemanja Matic’s somewhat unpopular but financially logical departure to Manchester United for £40m, as opposed to snubbing the Red Devils and taking less money from Juventus.

Finally, the sale of Eden Hazard to Real Madrid is controversially regarded as one of Granovskaia’s best – taking into consideration the open player’s desire to leave, his questionable injury record since and the development of an exciting, youthful side in his absence.

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Chelsea transfer boost in hunt for new striker as Inter Milan reject huge PSG bid

Chelsea have received some good news in their pursuit of a new striker after Inter Milan rejected a huge bid from PSG for Mauro Icardi. The Argentine is currently on loan in the French capital and the Ligue 1 champions are looking to make that switch permanent.

PSG launched a £54million bid last week, made up of an initial £44.7m fee plus a further £8.9m in add-ons.

However, Inter have turned down the approach and are refusing to budge on their £62.7m asking price, according to Sky Sport Italia and Gazzetta Dello Sport.

The reports indicate that Antonio Conte’s side are willing to let Icardi depart but are demanding £54m in cash for the frontman immediately.

The 27-year-old’s value has been bolstered by a fruitful spell at the Parc des Princes which has seen Icardi bag 20 goals in 28 outings.

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It is believed PSG had hoped Inter would be willing to negotiate a lower price due to the financial chaos expected in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak.

But this does not appear to be the case, and The Sun suggest this opens the door for Chelsea to make a statement signing this summer.

Frank Lampard is hunting a new striker to ease the goalscoring burden on Tammy Abraham, and the Blues have been linked with a number of likely candidates.

Priority target Dries Mertens is unavailable after signing a new contract with Napoli so Moussa Dembele now appears to be leading the shortlist but Timo Werner and Victor Osimhen have also been touted.

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Icardi is the latest star supposedly being targeted, although he is under contract at the San Siro until 2022.

The Argentina ace has an outstanding goal record in Italy, scoring 111 times in 181 games for Inter.

He was made captain of the club in 2015, aged just 22, but fell foul of new boss Conte and saw his No 8 shirt handed to summer signing Romelu Lukaku.

While Chelsea are said to be keen on signing a top quality striker, they are also expected to invest heavily in other areas of the squad so it remains to be seen whether the west London club are willing to shell out over £60m on a new frontman.

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Ben Chilwell is set to cost £80m while the Blues are also chasing Jadon Sancho, who has a price tag of £120m and is attracting attention from Manchester United.

A centre-back is also desired while another attacking midfielder is also on the wishlist, despite Hakim Ziyech arriving from Ajax imminently.

Both Philippe Coutinho and Kai Havertz have been linked with a move to Stamford Bridge, while Chelsea also have a tough job keeping holding of Jorginho with Juventus keen.

A swap deal involving the Italian and Miralem Pjanic has been suggested, but it is thought that Lampard wants to keep hold of Jorginho if possible.

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Man Utd hoping to spark bidding war for star unwanted by Ole Gunnar Solskjaer

Manchester United are hoping to start a bidding war for unwanted defender Marcos Rojo this summer, as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer looks to improve his defensive options. That’s according to a report in the Mirror, which claims a return to Argentina could be on the cards.

Rojo has spent the last few months on loan at Estudiantes having signed a one-year deal.

His return to his native country hasn’t gone well, however.

The 30-year-old – who cost United £16million back in 2016 – has only played once during the loan spell.

A knee injury has limited Rojo’s game time, and now it appears that United are ready to cut ties with him this summer.

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The Mirror claims United will accept a cut-price fee for him, and will ask for just £12m.

Estudiantes are keen on keeping Rojo at the club permanently, and will look to make an official bid when the window opens.

But Boca Juniors are also interested, and United want to spark a bidding war.

Rojo still has another year remaining on his contract with the option for another, meaning United can drive the price up.

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United are set for a huge squad rebuild this summer, and Solskjaer wants to use the money from Rojo to go after other targets.

He admitted this week that he only wants players in the squad who want to be at the club, indicating that he will be looking at players’ attitudes when building his squad for next season.

“I’d rather have a hole in the squad than an a*****e,” Solskjaer said.

“Personality is so important. We’re a team in a team environment.

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“You want players to have a bit of ego and edge but they have to be able to adapt. In March 2019, players were physically tired, mentally tired and we had injuries.

“The players started with negative thinking, whereas now it’s positive thinking.

“There were other things I didn’t like last year – some personal agendas which couldn’t be sorted out until the summer.

“There will always be players who want to play more in football, but if a team is to be successful then players have to be available at different times.

“I feel in this group we don’t have one bad apple.”

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Timo Werner tipped to join Liverpool over Chelsea for one reason

Timo Werner has been tipped to sign for Liverpool over Chelsea this summer and play in the same way as Fernando Torres did for the Reds. Former Bayern Munich and Manchester United player Owen Hargreaves believes the RB Leipzig striker will be a fit wherever he goes, but would fit in better at Liverpool than anywhere else.

Werner’s future continues to be a talking point ahead of the summer transfer window.

The German youngster has been on fire this season and has earned him attention from around Europe.

He has bagged 21 goals in 27 games, and has found himself linked with a move to the Premier League.

Liverpool, Chelsea and Inter Milan have all been touted as potential destinations for the 24-year-old.

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However, Hargreaves believes Liverpool would be his best bet if he moves on from Leipzig this summer.

Speaking to the Mirror, the former midfielder used Torres as an example of how Werner could flourish at Anfield.

Spanish icon Torres played some of his best football with the Reds, scoring 81 goals in 142 games.

And Hargreaves thinks Werner can follow suit if Liverpool end up forking out for his services.

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“I think Timo Werner is going to score goals wherever he goes. But it comes down to personnel. He will be doing this, doing homework on who will be a good fit for his game,” he told The Mirror.

“We saw this with Fernando Torres when he left Liverpool.

“The way Liverpool played they were an incredible defensive team, with Steven Gerrard playing those balls through the middle and it was a match made in heaven.

“Then he goes to Chelsea where they had a lot of slow possession and there was no space for Fernando to run into.

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“In the end, that’s not a great fit. He was a super player, Chelsea were a super team but you’ve got to play to a player’s strengths.

“I think Timo Werner is that type, the Fernando Torres type, where he is super explosive, he will run away from anyone.

“Having that ability to run in behind and into that space, it would suit his game. When you think about a team like Liverpool they do that. They counter and transition better than anyone. He would suit them.”

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Borussia Dortmund to sell ‘big player’ as Jadon Sancho exit predicted among Man Utd links

Borussia Dortmund are likely to sell “one big player” in the next transfer window, according to German football expert Raphael Honigstein. Jadon Sancho is a key target for Manchester United and it is the England winger who Honigstein expects to leave Dortmund.

Sancho has had a fine season in the Bundesliga, scoring 14 goals and contributing 16 assists.

Julian Brandt starred in Sancho’s absence in the 4-0 win over Schalke last weekend.

Asked if Dortmund will keep hold of Brandt, Honigstein responded by claiming he expects the 24-year-old to stay but Sancho to leave.

“Yeah, I mean Dortmund might sell one big player,” Honigstein said on BT Sport.

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“I think that big player might be Jadon Sancho though.”

Sancho was once again on the bench for the trip to Wolfsburg on Saturday, coming on as a 65th minute substitute in place of Brandt, taking just 13 minutes to lay on an assist for Achraf Hakimi.

And former Bayern Munich midfielder Owen Hargreaves claims Sancho was being saved for the top-of-the-table clash against his old team this Tuesday.

“You would think so,” Hargreaves said.

“I’m sure Jadon would love to play but maybe he’s carrying a little bit of an injury as well.

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“But that Tuesday game is so important. If they can win today and find a way to beat Bayern Munich, the title race could be turning.

“So I think they believe that they can get a result and I think Jadon Sancho, if he was fit he would have played today, but Tuesday is such an important game for them.”

Meanwhile, former Norway striker Jan Age Fjortoft expects Sancho’s Dortmund team-mate Erling Haaland to play in the Premier League one day.

“Right from the start, when I saw him score four for Molde against Bergen, I could see he had unbelievable movement and the eye of the tiger, a real hunger for goals,” Fjortoft wrote in his column for The Sun.

“Juventus offered him a fantastic contract and there were lots of other clubs mentioned, but he chose Salzburg for his next stage.

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“I saw him playing for them at Anfield in the Champions League. He came on as a sub and scored, but what I also saw was sensational movement.

“I ended up just watching him because of the way he created chances for himself and for his movement into space. He could have been one-on-one with the keeper three or four times if the passes had matched his runs.

“People see his goals, strength and enormous speed but what I noticed was how wise he is in creating space for himself.

“There’s one other thing. He was born in Leeds and his father played for two Premier League clubs, so he will end up in England one day.”

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