FA Cup third round draw: Man Utd take on Gerrard's Villa, Leicester face another Ranieri reunion

By Sports Desk December 06, 2021

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  • Kulusevski credits Conte for inspiring transformation after Juventus struggles Kulusevski credits Conte for inspiring transformation after Juventus struggles

    Dejan Kulusevski believes Antonio Conte's coaching style has been critical in his personal improvement at Tottenham after stagnating with Massimiliano Allegri's Juventus.

    Kulusevski rose to prominence during the 2019-20 season when on loan at Parma from Atalanta, with his form in the first half of that campaign persuading Juve to spend €35million on him.

    Although he played 55 Serie A games for the Bianconeri after linking up with them ahead of the 2020-21 campaign, Kulusevski struggled to find the same prominence and consistency he enjoyed at Parma.

    Spurs struck a deal in January to take the Sweden international on loan for 18 months, and the agreement will become permanent for £29.2m (€32.6m) if certain sporting criteria are met.

    Kulusevski quickly made an impression – from the date of his signing until the end of the season, no player registered more assists than his eight in the Premier League, while Kevin De Bruyne (17), Son Heung-min (20) and Harry Kane (21) were the only three individuals to tally more goal involvements than the Swede's 13 over the same period.

    Similarly, his three assists this season is third to only De Bruyne (six) and Bukayo Saka (four) – he is finding his feet, and he does not think he could have found such comfort had he stayed at Juventus.

    "In football sometimes things simply go wrong. I have not changed anything about myself in recent months: mentally I went always to go on the pitch and gave my best.

    "At Juve, however, it didn't work beyond what I tried to do. I didn't feel great for so many different reasons and when you realise that things are not right, then it's difficult to reverse course by staying in the same environment.

    "So, the choice to leave Italy was the best I could have made in that situation.

    "In England I am great, everything is better than in Turin, both on and off the pitch. As I said, now I really always want to play football."

    Kulusevski has no doubt what the key difference is: Conte.

    While he did not want to disparage Allegri, Kulusevski feels he has reacted positively to Conte's demands, which have in turn got the best out of him.

    Asked if there was a big difference between Allegri and Conte, the winger said: "Honestly, yes.

    "I don't want to say that one is better than the other, because I have great respect for both Allegri and Conte and both have won a lot in their careers, but the job and the ideas of ​​football are completely different.

    "At Tottenham, you struggle a lot more in the gym and you can see the results. I can say that from Juve to Spurs, the world changed for me.

    "I have never met in my life, even outside of football, a motivated person like Antonio Conte. When he speaks to you, he enters your heart by force.

    "At Tottenham my body changed – mainly thanks to the exercises in the gym – in no time. We work a lot every day and better than I did in Italy.

    "I love how we train in London and for sure the credit goes to our coach: I'm very happy to play for him."

  • Southgate opts for 'ones we believe in' as Alexander-Arnold left out of England squad Southgate opts for 'ones we believe in' as Alexander-Arnold left out of England squad

    Gareth Southgate has left Trent Alexander-Arnold out of his England squad for Monday's Nations League dead rubber against Germany, citing a need to pick players he believes in.

    England have already been relegated from League A after failing to win any of their five matches, which have also only yielded a single goal.

    The Three Lions' form has been especially alarming given the World Cup starts in less than two months, with the Germany game essentially their final warm-up match.

    With very little riding on the match at Wembley, it was assumed Southgate might take the chance to give opportunities to those who have been used sparingly.

    But Southgate has instead given an indication as to who he does not appear to have complete faith in, with Alexander-Arnold – an unused substitute during Friday's defeat to Italy – among those left out.

    Fikayo Tomori, James Ward-Prowse and Jarrod Bowen are reportedly the others set to miss out, while Jack Grealish is suspended.

    This exclusion is just the latest blow for Alexander-Arnold at international level, with the right-back seemingly underused considering his importance for Liverpool.

    "Of course, he does have a fantastic range of passing, we're blessed with different profiles of player in that position," Southgate told reporters when discussing Alexander-Arnold's irregularity for England.

    "If we play with wing-backs, [Kieran] Trippier and Reece James are also exceptional with the ball, in different ways, and we're always having to look at the full package with everything and assess the players on all of their attributes.

    "They've all been to Champions League finals, some of them have been to latter stages of major tournaments with us, Trent's won the league, Trippier's won the Spanish league, [Kyle] Walker's won the English league; there are so many good attributes about them.

    "It's a really difficult position to make decisions on, but we have to go with the ones we believe [in], and ultimately I'll be judged on the outcome, as we know."

    For Southgate, it is not simply a matter of putting Alexander-Arnold in the team and telling him to play his natural game; he operates in a certain way for Liverpool because Jurgen Klopp's system allows him to thrive, and England have not yet managed to find such a solution.

    "You can have a style of play and a way of playing, and a balance to the team, that... at Liverpool they find a way of playing that brings the best out of his attributes," said Southgate.

    "And that’s what we're all trying to do with every team, you're trying to build a team that accentuates the positives, and within the group protects yourselves against how the opponents might come from you."

  • Rumour Has It: Man City and Foden reach agreement on new six-year £78m contract Rumour Has It: Man City and Foden reach agreement on new six-year £78m contract

    Phil Foden has been a revelation since breaking into Manchester City's first team and the Premier League champions are eager to reward him with a new deal.

    The England midfielder is under contract under 2024, but City are set to keep in at the club for the long term.


    TOP STORY – CITY REACH FODEN AGREEMENT FOR BUMPER DEAL

    Manchester City and Foden have reached an agreement in principle on a £78million deal according to Football Insider.

    The mega-money deal is worth around £250,000 per week for the 22-year-old, pushing him close to the money Kevin De Bruyne and Erling Haaland are earning.

    The length of the contract is six years for the Stockport-born star, who came through the academy at City.

    ROUND-UP 

    Arsenal have moved on from Dusan Vlahovic , according to Fabrizio Romano, who claims the Gunners are not interested in re-visiting a potential move for the Serbian who joined Juventus in January.

    Manchester United will dangle a five-year contract for striker Marcus Rashford as they look to tie him down long term, reports The Express. Rashford's current deal expires at the end of this season.

    – Calciomercato claims Alex Sandro will depart Juventus when his contract expires at the conclusion of this season. The Brazilian has previously attracted interest from Chelsea and Paris Saint-Germain .

    Romelu Lukaku has no plans to return to Chelsea when his season-long loan with Inter expires at the end of this season, reports La Gazzetta dello Sport.

    Chelsea are ready to pay £30million for Fulham's 17-year-old midfielder Luke Harris , claims The Mirror. Harris was called up to Wales' Nations League squad, but is yet to debut for the Cottagers.

    Liverpool and Arsenal are both considering a move next year for Villarreal's 21-year-old winger Alex Baena , reports the Daily Mirror.

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