EPL

Tuchel confirms Alonso close to Barcelona move as Chelsea target reinforcements after Everton win

By Sports Desk August 06, 2022

Chelsea head coach Thomas Tuchel is hoping to welcome more new faces to Stamford Bridge before the end of the transfer window as he confirmed Marcos Alonso is close to joining Barcelona.

Jorginho's first-half penalty was enough to get Chelsea's 2022-23 Premier League campaign off to a winning start on Saturday, ending a run of four consecutive defeats for the Blues at Goodison Park.

New signings Kalidou Koulibaly and Raheem Sterling started the hard-fought victory, the latter twice coming close to a debut goal, while Marc Cucurella also made his Chelsea bow from the bench.

Having already parted with substantial fees for that trio, Chelsea have also been linked with moves for Leicester City defender Wesley Fofana and Barcelona star Frenkie de Jong.

After Chelsea won their opening Premier League match for the third consecutive season despite failing to produce a fluid performance, Tuchel insisted more recruits are required. 

"Yeah, if we can add, we'll add," Tuchel told Sky Sports.

"Maybe not midfielders as a first option but we are open for everything, and I think we can use new energy, new legs, and fresh input to bring us to a new level.

"If not, then we will push this team, but I think we could use some more input and some more quality. We are on it, but we will not tell you!"

Having dominated the opening period on Merseyside, winning the second-most corners on record in the first half of a Premier League match (13, second to Tottenham's 15 v Aston Villa in December 2012), Chelsea were indebted to Edouard Mendy for making two strong saves to preserve their lead after the break.

Mendy has now kept a clean sheet on 47 per cent of his Premier League starts (31/66) – only Ederson (50 per cent) has a better record among goalkeepers to have started at least 50 games in the competition.

But with Chelsea having struggled for results at Everton in recent seasons, Tuchel was content with the Blues picking up a victory despite not being at their best.

"We struggled last season to get points here, we have the points, a win is a win," he added. "It's most important for everything to get better, because we have to get better.

"I could assume that we are maybe not on our highest level. We have players in, but they came in late, pre-season was a bit turbulent. 

"The last week in training was promising, some situations in the first half were quite good, and in the second half we had simply not enough movement on the ball. It was a strange second half without the rhythm from our team and the interruptions, 10 minutes extra time... a bit strange.

"But we hung on and we did what was necessary to keep a clean sheet, so there are positive things and from there we go.

"Very classic that we win 1-0 with a penalty from Jorginho. Like I said, we know that we need to get better but first of all, a win helps us to be open for improvement and for the atmosphere and spirit."

Meanwhile, with Chelsea acquiring Cucurella this week, they look set to allow fellow wing-back Alonso to leave for Barcelona.

The Spain international was left out of the squad for the trip to Merseyside, and Tuchel confirmed that decision was the result of his desire to join the Blaugrana.

Asked whether Alonso's absence indicated a move to Camp Nou was close, Tuchel told reporters: "That is the case. 

"He tries to leave and we agreed to this wish. That's why it would not have made sense to put him on the pitch today. 

"He would've been on the pitch otherwise but in this situation, it was the right thing to do."

Related items

  • Al-Riyadh 2-2 Al-Nassr: Laporte sent off for punch as Al-Nemer salvages point Al-Riyadh 2-2 Al-Nassr: Laporte sent off for punch as Al-Nemer salvages point

    Former Manchester City defender Aymeric Laporte was sent off for punching Mohammed Al-Aqel on the arm as Al-Nassr played out a 2-2 draw with Al-Riyadh in the Saudi Pro League.

    Meshari Al-Nemer's 97th-minute strike salvaged a point for Al-Nassr, who had trailed for over half the game and played with a one-man disadvantage for over half an hour.

    Otavio had put Al-Nassr ahead only for Andre Gray to drag the hosts level, before Al-Aqel gave David Ospina no chance with a terrific overhead kick to make it 2-1.

    Al-Nassr's position was put in further jeopardy when Laporte was sent off following a bizarre off-the-ball incident which saw him grab and punch Al-Aqel on the elbow, while Cristiano Ronaldo came up with a glaring miss from Sadio Mane's pass across the six-yard box.

    Al-Nemer levelled at the death for Al-Nassr, though they still sit some 14 points adrift of champions Al-Hilal, who could complete an unbeaten season against Al-Wehda on Monday.

    Data Debrief: Laporte's horror show

    It was a game to forget for Laporte, whose bizarre punch on Al-Aqel put Al-Nassr up against it versus a team still in danger of relegation.

    Laporte did not attempt a single tackle in the game while his four duels contested were the joint-fewest of every outfield starter (alongside Khalid Al-Shuwayyi). He was also sent off in Al-Nassr's AFC Champions League quarter-final tie against Al Ain in March.

  • Lewandowski hints at Barcelona stay next season Lewandowski hints at Barcelona stay next season

    Barcelona forward Robert Lewandowski has suggested he will remain at the LaLiga club next season.

    Lewandowski joined Barcelona from Bayern Munich in 2022 and has since helped them win the league title last season as well as the Spanish Super Cup.

    The 35-year-old ended his debut season as the league's top scorer with 23 goals and has netted a further 18 in Barcelona's current trophy-less campaign.

    Lewandowski's current contract is set to expire in 2026, but uncertainties about his future have grown since manager Xavi initially announced his departure in January, only to backtrack in April.

    Barcelona are also dealing with economic challenges, with a bloated wage bill and a huge renovation project at the Camp Nou stadium having increased the financial strain this term.

    "Of course, for me, it is super clear. I want to win many titles with Barcelona, and I am sure that next season we will be even stronger, and we will also win titles," Lewandowski told Mundo Deportivo on Wednesday when asked about rumours of a potential exit.

    "I always want the best, not just for me, but for my team-mates, and I am sure that this team will win titles next season, because I see what we do each day.

    "For me, that is what matters, because this is a club that I hold close to my heart and I want to give a lot for the team and the club."

    Xavi said earlier in May, "We value Robert's presence in the team very much, and we will decide on his future at the end of the season."

    Barcelona are second in LaLiga, 12 points behind newly crowned champions Real Madrid. They face Sevilla in their final game of the season on Sunday.

  • Europa League misery will not taint Alonso's Leverkusen pride Europa League misery will not taint Alonso's Leverkusen pride

    Xabi Alonso will not allow Bayer Leverkusen's Europa League final defeat against Atalanta to alter his pride, after their historic 51-game unbeaten run ended on Wednesday.

    The Bundesliga champions were eyeing an unlikely treble, with the DFB-Pokal final to come this weekend, but those plans came crashing down in a 3-0 loss to Atalanta.

    Ademola Lookman single-handedly powered Gian Piero Gasperini's side to their first title in 61 years, producing an individual performance for the ages with a decisive hat-trick.

    European heartbreak marked Leverkusen's first loss this season, with their last defeat coming to Bochum on the last day of the 2022-23 Bundesliga campaign, as Alonso's side were finally stopped.

    Yet the former Liverpool and Bayern Munich midfielder says nothing can take away from Leverkusen's memorable campaign.

    "For me the result today does not change one bit how I feel about my players or what we have been doing," the Leverkusen head coach told TNT Sports.

    "It hurts because we wanted to lift the trophy but you can't have everything. We lifted the Bundesliga and we have the chance to lift the DFB-Pokal on Saturday."

    Leverkusen are the first team to win the league title but lose the UEFA Cup/Europa League final in the same term since Benfica in 2013-14, and the first German side to do since Borussia Dortmund in 2001-02.

    "This season and achievements have surpassed all expectations," Alonso continued.

    "I was hoping and getting ready to maybe do something great but this has been so much more.

    "To achieve what we have for a club like Leverkusen is great. To be in the last week of the season having lifted the Bundesliga and then going for the Pokal too means a lot.

    "First year as a coach, it is going quite well!"

    A monumental occasion at the Aviva Stadium marked Atalanta's first-ever major European trophy as they became the 10th different Italian side to do so, second only to teams from England (13).

    Alonso was unsurprised by the excellence of Gasperini and his Atalanta side, however.

    "It is not something they have just done this year, they have been doing it for many years," the Spaniard said, acknowledging the work of 66-year-old Gasperini.

    "They are a special team. Normally we get in better positions ourselves but today we could not.

    "We were not able to come back and get that back. It was not meant to be.

    "The unbeaten run has come to an end but congratulations to Atalanta, they deserve it, so nothing more to say."

© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.