Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp is hopeful Jude Bellingham will not come under too much pressure following his "absolutely exceptional" showing for England at the World Cup.

The Borussia Dortmund midfielder has been strongly linked with a move to a number of Europe's elite clubs – Liverpool among them – on the back of another impressive year.

Bellingham started all five of England's matches at Qatar 2022, which ended in quarter-final defeat to France, scoring and assisting one goal from central midfield.

He was reportedly valued in excess of €100million (£88.5m) by Dortmund prior to the World Cup, a valuation that is likely to have only risen since.

However, Klopp says that no matter how expensive the 19-year-old is, he should not be weighed down by growing expectations in his home country.

"I don't like to talk always about money," Klopp told reporters. "When you talk about a player like Jude, I think everybody agrees he's just exceptional for the age group. 

"Imagine somebody has no clue about football or whatever or knows about football but didn't watch it for a while and has no clue on Jude Bellingham...  

"'How old do you think he is?' I think nobody would get it. Or even get close to his age. It's like 28, 29, whatever, these kind of things, because he plays that maturely. 

"He played an exceptional World Cup, absolutely exceptional. And he's so good in so many things and has to improve and other things.

"But to describe him I'd say the things he can do already are difficult to learn. The things he has to improve are easy to learn and to improve so that makes a really good player. 

"What can I say? I don’t say anything new. I thought that already, since two or three years ago, since he had his breakthrough at Dortmund, everybody knows that already.

"But I have no idea what that means for the money side of it. I really think if we all if want to do him a favour, then we just don't talk too much about money. 

"And I mean, from an English point of view, don't throw any hurdles in his development. That would be really cool, wherever he will end up."

Bellingham (19 years, 145 days) is the third-youngest player to start for England at a World Cup after Michael Owen in 1998 (18y, 198d) and Luke Shaw in 2014 (18y, 347d).

The Birmingham City academy product became the second-youngest player to score for England in the competition behind only Owen with his goal against Iran.

 

The teenage midfielder will remain in high demand ahead of the January transfer window, which Liverpool will target as a chance to strengthen their squad.

Liverpool are sixth in the Premier League and face a challenge to qualify for the Champions League, which Klopp accepts that could impact what players his side try to sign.

"It's very important, very important," he said of finishing in the top four. "That's obviously our main target. I'm surprised that you don't ask me today 'can you be champions?' 

"I think we have a good chance to qualify for the Champions League. If it will happen this year, I don't know. But we're 100 per cent one of the contenders for the next few years. 

"If you ask a player and he's like, 'yeah, but next year you're not sure if you're in the Champions League; I'd prefer to go to a club who play in it now, but maybe not next year'. 

"I'm not sure I would want this player still to be honest. So it's like I understand it 100 per cent. I want to be part of the Champions League, to be honest, all the time.

"For now, we have pathways still to qualify for the Champions League next year. As long as that's the case, I see ourselves as a proper contender for qualification."

The twelve Tottenham players who featured at the World Cup will not find rest easy to come by, to Antonio Conte's frustration.

Spurs return to action on Boxing Day against Brentford, just eight days after two of their players – France captain Hugo Lloris and Argentina defender Cristian Romero – played in the World Cup final.

Lloris will be on the bench against the Bees but Romero is unlikely to be in the squad. 

Spurs also have to contend with Richarlison's absence, with the Brazil forward having sustained a serious hamstring injury while playing in Qatar. Son Heung-min, Eric Dier and Harry Kane made it to the last 16 and quarter-finals of the competition with South Korea and England respectively, while Ivan Perisic went deep into the competition with Croatia.

"I am not really happy," Conte said. "On one hand, you are happy because for my club, Tottenham, to have 12 players at the World Cup it means that we are in the right way to try to be competitive and to try to win something.

"But it is normal that when you have so many players play a tournament like this, especially during the season, that now it is not easy because the physical condition is not at the top.

"It is impossible to give them a lot of rest and for sure with the players that didn't play the World Cup and we work for four weeks, now they are in a great physical condition.

"We worked a lot on the tactical aspect and physical aspect. Now they are at a level that is better than the players who finished the World Cup.

"For this reason I think I have to make the best decision for the game against Brentford.

"On one side I have players who I worked with for four weeks really well and on the other side, I have players who worked at the World Cup and are not at the top at the moment."

After taking on Brentford, Spurs host Aston Villa on New Year's Day before facing Crystal Palace on January 4.

Fabinho believes Liverpool are well-placed to benefit from the World Cup break as Jurgen Klopp's team look to chase down their Premier League rivals.

Having fallen narrowly short of winning a second title of the Premier League era when amassing 92 points last season, Liverpool now sit sixth in the top flight, seven points adrift of a top-four place.

Jurgen Klopp's side did improve before the Premier League paused in November, and they could win three consecutive games for the first time this season when they visit Aston Villa on Boxing Day.

With France's Ibrahima Konate the only Liverpool player to remain involved beyond the quarter-finals at the World Cup, Fabinho believes the break has benefited the Reds.

"It can be good," he told the club's website. "I hope this will be good for the team because, as I said before, our position in the Premier League is not the position that we wanted it to be. 

"But this is the reality. We have to face it, we have to try to close the gap to the other teams and yes, game by game, try to play better and win."

Fabinho played 45 minutes as the Reds returned to competitive action with a 3-2 EFL Cup defeat to Manchester City on Thursday, and he was pleased to resume with a game of that magnitude. 

"In the game against City it was [important] to show that we are there, that we will fight with the best teams because we are one of the best teams as well," Fabinho said.

"I hope that we will keep this level because we will need it. To have this as the first game back from the World Cup, I think, was good for us. The intensity of the game was really good."

Tammy Abraham is unsurprised by reports suggesting both Portugal and Brazil are interested in Roma coach Jose Mourinho, who he views as an "uncle" figure.

Mourinho led Roma to the inaugural Europa Conference League title last season, his fifth major continental triumph after winning both the UEFA Cup/Europa League and Champions League on two occasions.

However, the Giallorossi boss has been linked with an exit in the aftermath of the World Cup, with both Portugal and Brazil searching for a new coach following quarter-final exits in Qatar.

Speaking to La Gazzetta dello Sport, Roma striker Abraham said any side would be fortunate to have Mourinho, crediting the 59-year-old's methods for his own development. 

"Jose is a great coach, everyone wants him," Abraham said. "It's also an honour that an important national team like Portugal is looking for him, but I'm sure the coach is focused on the team. 

"We've read the news on social media, but we haven't discussed it. We're all focused on Roma.

"He's a point of reference, I consider him to be like my uncle in Rome. He wants the best for me, when I don't express myself at my best, he pushes me. 

"Even when I play well, he's never satisfied and that's what I need. I'm not the type for pats on the back, but I need that trust he shows in me every day."

Emiliano Martinez's "stupid" celebrations "took away" from Argentina's World Cup success, according to France and Arsenal great Patrick Vieira.

Martinez saved Kingsley Coman's attempt and watched Aurelien Tchouameni roll wide as La Albiceleste overcame France 4-2 on penalties following an entertaining 3-3 draw in Sunday's Lusail Stadium final.

The Aston Villa goalkeeper was criticised for his gamesmanship during the shoot-out before his subsequent celebrations were thought to cross the line after appearing to repeatedly taunt Kylian Mbappe.

Martinez called for a "moment of silence" for Mbappe after his hat-trick proved in vain, while he was seen holding a bizarre puppet with the France forward's face on during homecoming celebrations.

Former Gunners captain Vieira, who won the 1998 World Cup with Les Bleus, labelled ex-Arsenal goalkeeper Martinez's action as unnecessary.

"When you talk about the abuse and the comments that [Mbappe] received after the World Cup, I think that is damaging the game and himself," the Crystal Palace manager said on Friday.

"Some of the pictures that I saw from the Argentina goalkeeper took away a little bit from what Argentina achieved at the World Cup.

"I don't think they really needed that. Sometimes, you can't control people's emotions or decisions, but that was a stupid decision from Martinez to do that. I was really disappointed. 

"I want to have a picture of the Argentina fans with the passion and the love they showed during those games. Of course, they won the World Cup, but in the stands, they were the best as well.

"I want to keep that in my mind and not think about those stupid fans who put some darkness on top of what Argentina achieved on and off the field. This is the dark side of the Argentina World Cup win."

Emiliano Martinez's "stupid" celebrations "took away" from Argentina's World Cup success, according to France and Arsenal great Patrick Vieira.

Martinez saved Kingsley Coman's attempt and watched Aurelien Tchouameni roll wide as La Albiceleste overcame France 4-2 on penalties following an entertaining 3-3 draw in Sunday's Lusail Stadium final.

The Aston Villa goalkeeper was criticised for his gamesmanship during the shoot-out before his subsequent celebrations were thought to cross the line after appearing to repeatedly taunt Kylian Mbappe.

Martinez called for a "moment of silence" for Mbappe after his hat-trick proved in vain, while he was seen holding a bizarre puppet with the France forward's face on during homecoming celebrations.

Former Gunners captain Vieira, who won the 1998 World Cup with Les Bleus, labelled ex-Arsenal goalkeeper Martinez's action as unnecessary.

"When you talk about the abuse and the comments that [Mbappe] received after the World Cup, I think that is damaging the game and himself," the Crystal Palace manager said on Friday.

"Some of the pictures that I saw from the Argentina goalkeeper took away a little bit from what Argentina achieved at the World Cup.

"I don't think they really needed that. Sometimes, you can't control people's emotions or decisions, but that was a stupid decision from Martinez to do that. I was really disappointed. 

"I want to have a picture of the Argentina fans with the passion and the love they showed during those games. Of course, they won the World Cup, but in the stands, they were the best as well.

"I want to keep that in my mind and not think about those stupid fans who put some darkness on top of what Argentina achieved on and off the field. This is the dark side of the Argentina World Cup win."

Kalvin Phillips returned from World Cup duty with England "overweight" and not ready to feature against Liverpool, according to Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola.

The midfielder has endured a frustrating season hampered by injury issues after moving to the Etihad Stadium from boyhood club Leeds United in the last transfer window.

Phillips was still selected by Gareth Southgate for Qatar 2022 but played just 40 minutes across the tournament before England suffered quarter-final heartbreak against France.

The 27-year-old, who has been restricted to just one substitute appearance in the Premier League for City, missed the EFL Cup fourth-round win over Liverpool on Thursday.

While England team-mates Jack Grealish, John Stones and Phil Foden all featured in the first game after the World Cup, Guardiola suggested Phillips' fitness was far below the standards expected.

"He's not injured. He arrived overweight. I don't know [why]," Guardiola said when asked about Phillips' omission.

"He didn't arrive in the condition to do training sessions and to play."

Guardiola is not giving up on Phillips yet, though, adding: "When he will be ready, he will play, because we need him, we need him a lot."

As for Guardiola's disappointment with him, he said: "It's a private conversation with Kalvin."

Guardiola confirmed Ruben Dias joined Phillips on the sidelines after sustaining a hamstring injury in Portugal's World Cup quarter-final defeat to Morocco.

City visit Phillips' former side Leeds on Wednesday as Guardiola's men aim to cut Arsenal's five-point lead at the top of the table.

Angel Di Maria has commemorated Argentina's World Cup triumph by unveiling a giant tattoo of the trophy on his leg.

The winger played a starring role as La Albiceleste claimed their third world crown on Sunday, beating France on penalties in an epic final.

Di Maria was fouled for the penalty from which Lionel Messi opened the scoring, before doubling Argentina's lead himself following a stunning counter-attack.

The Juventus man was substituted with his side in control, although they ultimately required a shoot-out to defeat France 4-2 after a 3-3 draw.

Argentina's celebrations still have not ceased, and Di Maria now has a permanent reminder of the biggest win of his career.

The 34-year-old shared with his 22.9 million Instagram followers footage from his visit to tattoo artist Ezequiel Viapiano, who produced a huge sketch of the World Cup on his right thigh.

It is not the first time Di Maria has celebrated success by adding to his vast display of personalised ink.

Indeed, a tattoo of the Copa America trophy occupies his left thigh after Argentina's 1-0 victory over Brazil in last year's final, in which his goal ended his nation's 28-year wait for major silverware.

Richarlison will spend three to four weeks on the sidelines as a result of the hamstring injury he sustained at the World Cup, Tottenham boss Antonio Conte has confirmed.

The Brazil forward scored three goals during an impressive campaign in Qatar, including a brilliant acrobatic volley in the Selecao's 2-0 group-stage win over Serbia.

However, Richarlison's World Cup ended in disappointing fashion as he was forced off early in Brazil's quarter-final defeat by Croatia on penalties.

The former Everton man underwent an MRI scan earlier this week, with Conte subsequently confirming he will sit out the festive period.

"I spoke with the medical department, they told me we need three to four weeks," the Tottenham boss said. "His injury was a serious injury.

"I followed all my players at the World Cup with my fingers crossed, because you know very well you can lose important players. It happened with Richarlison, who had a problem, [Rodrigo] Bentancur and Ben Davies."

Absent from their Boxing Day trip to Brentford, Richarlison is now a doubt for Spurs' Premier League fixtures against Arsenal and Manchester City.

Conte's side face their north London rivals on January 15, before taking on the reigning champions four days later.

Antonio Conte revealed Hugo Lloris will start Tottenham's Boxing Day fixture at Brentford on the bench after losing the World Cup final, while the Spurs coach backed Harry Kane to respond to his spot-kick woe.

Despite enjoying a strong campaign in Qatar, Lloris was unable to help Les Bleus to a successful defence of the trophy as they lost a dramatic final against Argentina after a penalty shoot-out.

The goalkeeper was one of three Tottenham players whose countries went the distance at the tournament, along with Argentina's Cristian Romero and Croatia's bronze medallist Ivan Perisic. 

While Perisic will be available to make an immediate return to Premier League action on Monday, Conte is aware of the need to hand the others a period of rest.

"About the players that played the final and third-fourth-place game, Perisic, Hugo and Cuti [Romero]... only Ivan, who came back today and had a training session with us, is available for the game against Brentford," Conte said on Friday.

"About Lloris, we want him to stay with us, and we also want him to stay on the bench against Brentford.

"As you know, it is important after the World Cup to give a bit of rest to these players. About Cuti, he will be available for the next game against Aston Villa [on January 1], I hope."

Lloris was not the only Tottenham player to see his World Cup campaign end with penalty heartache, with England striker Kane firing a spot-kick over the crossbar as the Three Lions were beaten by France in the last eight. Lloris was again the man in goal for France.

However, Conte has no concerns over how Kane will react to that disappointment, backing the striker to move on swiftly,

"We're talking about a world-class striker, and you know football is like this," Conte said. "When I was a player, I never missed a penalty because I didn't kick. Never! I was a real disaster at it. 

"But with a penalty I lost a World Cup final against Brazil [in 1994], and I think you live these moments, and you are really disappointed.

"For sure, for the first period you are sad, but then you know that you have to move on. Football gives you the opportunity to have other chances to enjoy.

"Football gives us the possibility to play the sport we have a lot of passion for. Honestly, I am not worried about him. I saw him very well in these two days with us."

Unai Emery will address Emiliano Martinez's controversial celebrations following Argentina's World Cup victory when the goalkeeper returns to Aston Villa.

Martinez was the penalty shoot-out hero for La Albiceleste at Qatar 2022, helping them to victory over France in the final.

But it has been suggested the keeper's subsequent celebrations have crossed the line. Martinez, whose gamesmanship in the shoot-out had already drawn criticism, has appeared to repeatedly taunt beaten France hat-trick hero Kylian Mbappe.

Martinez called for a "moment of silence" for Mbappe in the dressing room after Argentina's win and was seen holding a bizarre puppet with the France forward's face on during homecoming celebrations.

French Football Federation president Noel Le Graet revealed this week he had written to his Argentina counterparts to complain about abuse aimed at Mbappe.

Asked about the subject ahead of Villa's return to Premier League action against Liverpool on Boxing Day, Emery stopped short of criticising his player but acknowledged there would be discussions about his conduct.

"When you have big emotions, sometimes it's difficult to control [them]," he stated. "I will speak with him next week about some celebrations.

"But for now, I respect that he is with his national team. When he is going to be with us and under our responsibility, we can speak about it then."

Martinez is to miss the match against Liverpool as he remains in Argentina.

Graham Potter was delighted to see Hakim Ziyech show his quality at the World Cup, but the Chelsea head coach says there will always be talented players out of favour at Stamford Bridge.

Ziyech was one of the stars of the tournament as Morocco became the first African nation to reach the World Cup semi-finals in Qatar, playing a prominent role in several devastating counter-attacking displays from the Atlas Lions.

However, the tricky winger has enjoyed limited time on the field in the Premier League this season, featuring for a total of just 148 minutes and only starting one game. 

Ziyech's strong performances in Qatar have led to suggestions he could leave Chelsea in search of regular game time, but Potter remains hopeful he will excel at Stamford Bridge.

"Where he was at when we first came in, he was away from the first XI, but he has been involved in the games," Potter said on Friday. 

"We know his qualities, we like him as a player. He plays between the lines and has fantastic quality, and we saw that at the World Cup.

"At Chelsea, there are always good players that aren't in the starting XI, and they have to be patient. 

"I'm delighted for him that he helped his team; I kept in touch with him throughout the World Cup."

Ziyech's Morocco lost out to Mateo Kovacic's Croatia in the third-place play-off, and both players will sit out Chelsea's Premier League meeting with Bournemouth on Tuesday. 

"It's a real mix in terms of when they got knocked out and how much they played. They've dripped back in according to their own circumstances," Potter said of his returning World Cup stars.

"They've come back in a really good way. We're still waiting on Hakim and Mateo. Obviously, they went the distance with the third-place play-off.

"It's a big demand for those two, so it was important to give them a bit of time. They won't be available for the game. Everyone else has been back and had a few days of training."

Rafael Nadal has revealed he had tears in his eyes as Lionel Messi led Argentina to World Cup final glory.

Even for Real Madrid fan Nadal, there was a joy in seeing former Barcelona talisman Messi achieve his greatest feat at an age when some doubted he would ever lift the trophy.

Now 35, Messi was the driving force behind Argentina's success in Qatar. He scored two goals as Sunday's final against France ended in a pulsating 3-3 draw, plus a penalty in the shoot-out that followed, clinching the Golden Ball as the tournament's outstanding player.

For Nadal, who won his 22nd grand slam two days after turning 36 in June, seeing another person achieving late-career success is something to which he can relate.

"Messi lifting the World Cup made me happy. That someone so great culminates with a title that was missing, of this calibre, with all that it means for Argentina, it seemed fair to me," Nadal said.

"I enjoyed it and I was moved. Without siding with Argentina, when Messi scored the third goal tears came to my eyes.

"It was because of the emotion of seeing someone so great achieve what was missing, having suffered so much to achieve it."

Nadal would also have taken a close interest in Kylian Mbappe hitting a hat-trick for France in the Lusail Stadium final, given the Paris Saint-Germain striker is a long-time Madrid target.

Mbappe snubbed Madrid to sign a new PSG contract in May, but it would be no surprise if eventually he ends up at the Santiago Bernabeu.

The matter of Mbappe came up in an interview with AS, who made Nadal their athlete of the year.

Nadal was asked if he would forgive Mbappe if he signed for Madrid.

"I don't have to forgive Mbappe for anything and as a Madrid fan, if he could, come tomorrow," Nadal said.

"In the end, things happen in sports and I suppose that such a young boy was overwhelmed by such tremendous pressure from all angles that in the end... I think he wanted to come to Madrid, but due to many factors, everything was very complicated for him. Hopefully we can see him in Madrid in the future."

Nadal said he would be leaving for Australia on December 26 and cautioned against expecting too much immediately at the start of the new tennis season, pointing to "very difficult" singles matches at the United Cup against Cameron Norrie and Nick Kyrgios.

The Australian Open, where Nadal is the defending men's singles champion, begins on January 16 in Melbourne, with all the focus on getting into prime shape by then.

"Let's see now how the year begins. I'm aware that I'm a little tight here, but I'm confident that I can get to the level I need to be competitive in Australia," Nadal said.

"We'll see what happens. Things change very quickly in sports. But I have the illusion of having a good year again and giving myself options to compete again at the highest level. I am aware that I am the age that I am, and that things happen. I will have to manage it in the best possible way and try to do my best to give myself real options."

Manchester United defender Lisandro Martinez must be ready to make an impact on his return to club football after Argentina's World Cup win, manager Erik ten Hag warned.

Martinez featured in five of Argentina's seven games as they clinched their third World Cup title in Qatar, starting twice.

Argentina's victory – which was sealed via a penalty shoot-out after a pulsating 3-3 draw with France – sparked wild celebrations in the country, with Tuesday's parade in Buenos Aires being cut short as huge crowds held up the team's bus.

While United boss Ten Hag says Martinez must savour his career highlight, he emphasised the need for the Red Devils' squad to switch focus as the Premier League returns.

"I can understand that it's emotional, it's very loaded when you achieve this. When you get the World Cup into your country it's magnificent, it's the highest thing you can achieve," he said.

"But also Licha has to accept that on the 27th, the Premier League will go on.

"We all know that the restart is five or six days after the World Cup final, and we all know that after the World Cup, the Premier League continues quickly. 

"Everyone has to be ready for that and you have to accept it; the manager, the coaching staff, but also the players. 

"We wanted to have a strong team to battle for the trophies. We spoke about the tough competition, so we have to be ready for it and it's not easy."

Having beaten Burnley to reach the last eight of the EFL Cup on Wednesday, United return to Premier League action against Nottingham Forest next Tuesday.

Martinez and fellow defender Raphael Varane will almost certainly be absent after helping their countries to the World Cup final, but Ten Hag has backed the France man to bounce back from the disappointment of seeing Argentina triumph.

"Of course, he's disappointed about losing the final, but I think he can be proud that he was in the final again, and of everything that he achieved already in his career," Ten Hag said of Varane.

"As a team, or as a player like Rapha, when you win so many trophies and now he's second [in the World Cup], I think you can still be proud because getting to the final is already a big achievement.

"I think the level of the nations was so close as they came into the final, then it was even in the final, as you know, they were very close."

United entered the World Cup break three points adrift of a top-four place with a game in hand, and although Ten Hag recognises his side are under pressure to qualify for the Champions League, he believes their rivals are in the same situation.

"As you say, I accept it, how it is, but I think it's also for the manager of Chelsea, for Newcastle United and all those clubs invested a lot in their squads," he said. "That will be for every manager.

"It's a big pressure to get into the Champions League, that's clear. You want to be in the top four and you want to fight for trophies and that's our aim."

Argentina's World Cup celebrations were "vulgar" and evidence of them being "inelegant winners", according to French sports minister Amelie Oudea-Castera.

It was confirmed on Thursday that French Football Federation (FFF) president Noel Le Graet wrote to his Argentinian counterpart, Claudio Tapia, to complain about the "abnormal" and "shocking" taunts towards Kylian Mbappe.

Argentina beat France 4-2 on penalties following an enthralling 3-3 draw after extra time in Sunday's World Cup final, sparking elaborate celebrations over the coming days in Buenos Aires.

Millions took to the streets of Argentina's capital, with Tuesday's victory parade ultimately cut short due to the huge crowds causing the team's bus to be held up.

During the celebrations, Argentina goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez was seen holding a doll bearing Mbappe's face.

The Aston Villa player also landed himself in hot water for comments about his efforts to put off Aurelien Tchouameni – who missed his penalty – in the shoot-out, and for social media footage that showed Martinez calling for a "moment of silence" for Mbappe in the dressing room after the final.

Several France players were also subject to racist messages from members of the public on social media, and the whole ordeal left a sour taste for Oudea-Castera.

Speaking to RTL, she said: "We have to ask the Argentine Football Association [AFA] for an explanation and moreover Noel Le Graet has done, he asked his counterpart Claudio Tapia.

"I find it pitiful. As much as our French team knew how to lose with panache, so much of how this Argentinian team acted following this victory is not worthy of the match we saw.

"There was still inappropriate mockery there against Tchouameni [by Martinez], it's just vulgar and inappropriate.

"They are inelegant winners. There is inappropriate mockery, and unacceptable racist acts [on social media].

"I am glad that Le Graet has filed a complaint and is taking this step with his counterpart. Emiliano Martinez does not distinguish himself, it's quite pathetic.

"I was able to speak with Kylian Mbappe on the plane back and he has a step back from that. The best answer to bring is to return to the field and make the football speak."

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