Tottenham supporters utilising unemployment and poverty to poke fun at Liverpool fans at Anfield on Saturday is unacceptable.

That was the message from the Tottenham Hotspur Supporters' Trust, who condemned their own visiting supporters that sang about the number of people out of work in Liverpool during the 1-1 Premier League draw.

Liverpool fans have long been mocked by rival supporters with songs dating back to the 1980s, when there was a severe economic recession.

The chant, sung on the riff of Liverpool's famous club anthem 'You'll Never Walk Alone', has also been directed at Merseyside neighbours Everton, and the Tottenham Hotspur Supporters' Trust says there is no place for it.

"Singing about the opposition has long been a feature of English football, and we are reluctant to tell fans how they should support the team," a statement on the organisation's website said.

"Nevertheless, we were disappointed to hear the 'sign on' chant at Saturday's away match at Anfield.

"Poverty and joblessness are not fair game for banter. There is a cost of living crisis throughout England, including in London. Our club represents an area and community with the fastest growing rate of unemployment in the country.

"We are rightly proud of our away support, and we want it to be noticed for positive reasons. For most of the game at Anfield our fans gave superb backing to a great team performance.

"Spurs fans have provided financial backing to Marine FC on Merseyside, and regularly contribute to food banks and community initiatives in London. This is what we are about.

"The 'sign on' chant is not what we are about. We're Tottenham Hotspur. We're better than that."

The Liverpool fan group 'Spirit of Shankly' responded to the statement being posted on social media, with the Reds supporters replying on Twitter: "Well said".

Gary Neville agreed with Jurgen Klopp's verdict on Tottenham under Antonio Conte, believing it shows the coach was not "the right fit" for Manchester United.

United have been linked with Conte on numerous occasions in recent seasons as they have moved from manager to manager since Alex Ferguson's retirement.

The Red Devils have not won the Premier League since Ferguson's final campaign in 2012-13, while Conte has claimed three league titles with three clubs in two countries over the same period.

Now he is seeking to guide Spurs back into the Champions League, frustrating Liverpool to earn a precious 1-1 draw at Anfield on Saturday.

But the manner in which Conte sets his teams up has been the source of some debate since that match, as Liverpool manager Klopp questioned the tactics employed by his opposite number afterwards. Tottenham had just 34.5 per cent of possession against Liverpool, relying on counter-attacking qualities.

"I don't like this kind of football," Klopp said. "But that's my personal problem. I think they're world class, and I think they should do more for the game."

 

Klopp has the backing of former United captain Neville, who shared a clip of the German's news conference on Twitter as he suggested Conte's style of football would not work at Old Trafford.

"I respect Conte and his football enormously, but this Klopp interview gives the clear reason why he wasn't the right fit for United," Neville wrote.

Former Liverpool man Jamie Carragher, Neville's Sky Sports colleague, replied with evidence of the ex-United man calling for the appointment of Diego Simeone, the Atletico Madrid coach whose tactics might also be considered negative.

But Neville insisted Conte and Simeone were not comparable, suggesting the Atletico boss would work well at United.

"Simeone 4-4-2 aggressive style. Proper United that," Neville responded. "Conte wing backs? No..."

Following their exit at the hands of Roma in the Europa Conference League semi-finals, Leicester City are at the fork in the road that faces every club their size following some success.

History says that sustainable progress will have to come at the expense of selling the players who got the club to such heights.

While James Maddison and Wesley Fofana have long been on the wish lists of bigger clubs, Youri Tielemans reportedly looks set to leave also.

 

TOP STORY – ARSENAL, REAL MADRID SET ON TIELEMANS

Arsenal are closing in on a £40million transfer for Leicester City and Belgium midfielder Youri Tielemans, The Sun is reporting.

Real Madrid are waiting to pounce, however, if Arsenal fail to qualify for the Champions League this season.

Leicester are now reportedly resigned to selling the 25-year-old, whose goal won the Foxes the FA Cup last term. 

Tielemans has made no secret of his desire to play Champions League football, meaning Manchester United have dropped out of the race.

ROUND-UP

- Fernandinho appears set to leave Manchester City, despite having a year remaining on his contract, citing a personal decision, per Fabrizio Romano.

Tottenham are looking to sign Villarreal's Pau Torres for a fee below his release clause of £55million (€64.3m), Football Insider reports.

- The Daily Star are reporting Nemanja Matic, who will leave Manchester United at the end of the season, is set to join Juventus.

- West Ham are leading the race to sign 23-year-old Chile international Ben Brereton-Diaz from Blackburn Rovers, according to The Sun.

 Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp was not impressed with Antonio Conte's tactics after Liverpool were held to a 1-1 draw by Tottenham on Saturday.

The Reds struggled in possession against a side openly looking to exploit them as they dropped two points in the Premier League title race.

Following Son Heung-min's opening goal, Liverpool needed some fortune to equalise in the 74th minute, with Luis Diaz's tame attempt from distance deflecting off Rodrigo Bentancur and wrong-footing Hugo Lloris.

Liverpool moved top on goal difference, but Manchester City can go three points clear by beating Newcastle United on Sunday and Klopp was critical of Spurs' approach at Anfield.

"I'm sorry I'm the wrong person for that, I don't like this kind of football," he said. "But that's my personal problem. I think they're world class, and I think they should do more for the game.

"I think the game against Liverpool they had 36, 38 per cent possession, but it's my problem. I cannot coach it. So that's why I cannot do it.

"So yes, world-class players block all the balls, really difficult. Fine, whatever, fine, absolutely fine. I just can't. I respect everything they do, but it's not me."

With 67 per cent possession in the second half, the Reds generated a cumulative total of 0.17 xG from 11 shots, in comparison to Spurs' 0.69 from five shots.

Klopp took the positives out of what could be a costly result for the Reds four days after they reached the Champions League final with a win over Villarreal.

"It is an important point because it's one point more than before the game," he said. "We're top of the table. In this moment we're disappointed.

"The boys are more disappointed than I am, it might be because I'm older and I've seen more.

"Some good things tonight though, the counter-press. Just little moments, better decision-making. It's easy for me to say because I didn't run, like, I didn't run four days ago. We could have won, but also they could have won because of their insane counter-attacking."

Luis Diaz spared Liverpool a rare Anfield defeat, but a 1-1 draw with Tottenham on Saturday represents a major blow to the Reds' title ambitions.

Son Heung-min left the famous old stadium shaken early in the second half when he tucked in from close range to give Antonio Conte's visitors a shock lead.

That was his 20th league goal of the season, and Liverpool knew anything other than a win would put City within sight of the Premier League trophy.

Liverpool have an unprecedented quadruple in their sights, and Diaz's deflected strike for an equaliser in the 74th minute just about kept the dream alive, but hopes might be fading. They go top for now, level on points with a City side who have a game in hand, against Newcastle United on Sunday.

Mohamed Salah and Harry Kane had early shots blocked, before Virgil van Dijk nodded wide after getting on the end of an outswinging Andy Robertson corner from the left.

A misdirected defensive header from Ryan Sessegnon almost gave Salah a tap-in, but Hugo Lloris was alert to the danger.

Van Dijk headed against the top of the Tottenham crossbar from a Trent Alexander-Arnold corner, before Luis Diaz drew a save from Lloris with a fizzing low strike. Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg served a reminder of the visitors' threat when his skidding drive hit the outside of the left post.

Liverpool were full of purpose, swarming and probing early in the second half for the big chance that might bring a breakthrough.

However, they were stunned by Son in the 56th minute, when he slotted past Alisson after Kane's pass to Ryan Sessegnon on the left was followed by a sharp centre to the unmarked South Korean.

Jurgen Klopp threw on Diogo Jota, looking for a spark, and Salah soon had a great chance as he cut inside on his left foot, only for Ben Davies to produce a glorious block.

Diaz hit the equaliser when his 22-yard strike took a massive deflection past Lloris, finding the bottom-left corner, and try as they did, Liverpool could not find a second.

Manchester City have become a shock suitor for disgruntled Manchester United midfielder Paul Pogba, with his contract set to expire at the end of this season.

Pogba, 29, has previously spoken about regretting his move to Old Trafford, and had been expected to leave the Premier League in the upcoming transfer window, being strongly linked with Barcelona and Real Madrid.

While the Frenchman has highlighted his desire to compete for trophies, he may not have to leave the city to get his wish, with a chance to insert himself into Manchester football folklore if he ditches the red for sky blue.

 

TOP STORY – CITY TO OFFER POGBA FOUR-YEAR DEAL WITH FREE TRANSFER

The Daily Mail is reporting City have interest in bringing in Pogba on a free transfer, while the Guardian claims the French midfielder would like to work with Pep Guardiola, and that the club are willing to offer a four-year deal.

If he makes the move, Pogba would be arguably the biggest name to ever make the switch, rivalling Carlos Tevez, but the Guardian report notes he would be taking a pay cut in doing so.

It is not known if offers coming from Spain would be more lucrative financially, but arguably no team can offer a better chance at European and domestic success than City.

In 154 Premier League appearances since his arrival in 2016, Pogba has scored 29 goals and laid on 41 assists.

 

ROUND-UP

– The Telegraph is reporting Brighton and Hove Albion manager Graham Potter is considered the favourite to replace Antonio Conte at Tottenham if he is to leave at the end of the season. Brighton are said to be seeking compensation of £10million from Spurs in the agreement.

Manchester United are interested in 19-year-old French striker Hugo Ekitike from Reims, according to the Daily Mail.

– Football London is reporting Chelsea are considering a move for Torino defender Gleison Bremer.

– According to Fabrizio Romano, Monaco will not accept less than €70m for Liverpool defender Aurelien Tchouameni.

– The Liverpool Echo is reporting Liverpool have agreed to a £7m deal for Fulham's 19-year-old Portuguese forward Marco Silva.

Antonio Conte urged Tottenham to enjoy the pressure of the Premier League's top-four race as he claimed his side did not expect to be in contention back in November.

Nuno Espirito Santo lasted just four months in charge of Spurs before his dismissal on November 1, with the north London club eighth in the Premier League, 10 points behind leaders Chelsea.

Conte, who departed Inter after guiding the Nerazzurri to the Scudetto last season, replaced the Portuguese coach and became the first Spurs manager to go unbeaten in his first eight league games.

However, Spurs' form nosedived in February, with Conte losing four of five top-flight games for just the third time in his managerial career.

That led to questions over Tottenham's credentials for Champions League qualification, but slip-ups by Arsenal in April allowed Spurs to temporarily occupy fourth place, even if they could not fully capitalise.

Spurs lost against Brighton and Hove Albion after Arsenal were defeated by Southampton, before being held by Brentford as they dropped further ground in the top-four race.

Across those two games, Tottenham failed to register a single shot on target but responded with a 3-1 win over Leicester City in their most recent game, keeping them two points behind Arsenal with four games to play.

Conte acknowledged his side must deal with the pressure as they head towards the crunch period of the season, with a meeting against Mikel Arteta's side coming in the penultimate week of the campaign.

"It can happen in one or two games in a row, you can struggle," the Italian told reporters. "It can happen for many reasons. Maybe sometimes the pressure starts to become strong and you need to be used to this sort of pressure.

"Before these two games against Brighton and Brentford, we were behind the others but when we reached fourth place and we tried to defend this position, we have these strange performances. 

"But I think that this team and group of players are improving every aspect and also at dealing with the pressure.

"I think that we have to enjoy this time and this race. I repeat it was very hard to predict at the start of the season and November that Tottenham could compete for the Champions League.

"We have to enjoy with the right pressure and try to have a game for our fans and the people that watch the game."

Conte's side next visit Liverpool on Saturday at Anfield, where the Reds have lost just one of their last 27 Premier League games against Spurs.

However, Tottenham are the top scorers across their last 16 top-flight games, albeit they have either scored multiple goals (in 11 matches) or failed to find the net (five matches) in that period.

"I think that since November until now, you can see the stats, they’ve improved a lot since November," Conte added. "The goals we scored, the goals we conceded, the chances we created.

"It happened in the last two games against Brighton and Brentford that we weren't able to score. But I think in every game we create a lot of chances and score a lot of goals and the fans see us play football.

"I think the game against Liverpool will be interesting. We play a game face to face against a team that likes to be offensive, and we like to be offensive."

Asked whether Spurs fare better against bigger teams due to the space for Harry Kane and Son Heung-min to counter, Conte responded: "No. I can tell you that we played Chelsea four times this season and we lost four times.

"This comparison is not right. We lost four times to Chelsea and they are on the level of Man United, Man City and Liverpool. I think this is not the reason.

"For sure, when you play against [bigger] teams the pressure is very high but at the same time you enjoy this type of game because you play against a really strong team.

"And in these types of games you can also make an evaluation about your level and progress you made in these months.

"I think in this aspect it will be important not only to get points but to understand our level and the level we have reached, in these types of games and against these types of monsters."

Jurgen Klopp has praised the impact of Luis Diaz since his arrival at Liverpool, describing the Colombian forward as "world-class".

Diaz made the move to Anfield from Porto in the January transfer window for a reported initial fee of £37.5million (€45m), with a further £12.5m (€15m) in add-ons, and he has played a key role in Liverpool's pursuit of an unprecedented quadruple.

The 25-year-old has five goals and three assists from 21 appearances in all competitions for the Reds so far (13 starts), and he has averaged more dribbles attempted per 90 minutes (5.16) and has a higher successful dribble percentage (61.64) than any other Liverpool forward this season.

Speaking at a media conference ahead of his team's Premier League clash with Tottenham, Klopp stated how important the decision had been to bring Diaz in when they did, with the player making a key contribution on Tuesday when Liverpool came from 2-0 down against Villarreal to win 3-2 in their Champions League semi-final second leg and book their place in the Paris final against Real Madrid.

"Unbelievable impact," Klopp said. "There is enough space in each squad in the world for a world-class player, which is what Luis is. That's why we were so desperate to get him, and that's why we were so happy that we could... Thank God we made that decision because it helped everywhere.

"He communicates with everybody without really speaking the language. Okay, we have the Spanish [speakers] and they are really close, they helped him so much… But he's really close with Curtis [Jones] and Harvey [Elliott], I have no idea how they talk. On an emotional basis they are like this (tight), and they were after a week."

As they try to hunt down Manchester City in the Premier League title race, Liverpool go up against a Spurs team on Saturday who have their own aims, with Antonio Conte's men trailing Arsenal by two points as they seek a place in the top four.

Klopp understands the challenge his team will face at Anfield, where Liverpool are unbeaten in 21 league games, having won each of their last 12.

"Massive, massive test," he insisted. "If I were to watch from the outside I would think 'That will be difficult, eh?'

"Tottenham have massive quality. They are, especially away from home, not too bothered about having the ball, they defend compact, and then obviously [have] some of the best counter-attacking players in the world, so we need to find solutions for that."

The former Borussia Dortmund boss was also asked about title rivals City, and whether their agonising Champions League elimination to Real Madrid on Wednesday could have an effect in the Premier League.

City were 5-3 ahead on aggregate going into the 90th minute in the Santiago Bernabeu before two Rodrygo goals forced extra time, with a Karim Benzema penalty clinching the win for Carlo Ancelotti's side.

"With all the things we know about City I would rather think [that the defeat will make them more focused]," he said. "Yes it was a massive blow, I think everybody was ready to switch the television off, then all of a sudden part two started. That was really harsh I can imagine.

"But they will be ready [for Newcastle on Sunday]."

Football in May really can be all or nothing. Some teams have nothing left to play for beyond pride, while others have everything on the line in the closing weeks of the season.

It is safe to say that Liverpool's clash with Tottenham at Anfield on Saturday is in the latter category.

Liverpool remain in the hunt for an astonishing quadruple having already won the EFL Cup and booked their place in both the FA Cup and Champions League finals, while sitting just a point behind Manchester City in the Premier League title race.

Tottenham, meanwhile, are still in with a chance of securing Champions League football for next season with a top-four finish. They are currently in fifth place, two points behind north London rivals Arsenal.

Such is the precarious position of both teams as they chase glory, any slip-up will in all likelihood spell the end for their hopes and dreams in the league, which sets up their Anfield battle nicely.

Who will end the night with their season still on track, and who will end it wondering if there is any chance of recovering? Stats Perform takes a look at the Opta numbers heading into what should be a fascinating contest.

Reds capable of blunting Spurs

With Liverpool's home record over the years, it feels like most games at Anfield start with people explaining how few wins the visitors have in recent history.

Indeed, the same is the case with Tottenham, as Liverpool have lost only one of their last 27 Premier League home games against them, and are unbeaten in their last 10 since a 2-0 loss in May 2011.

Spurs have become a dangerous opponent for anyone in recent times, which Manchester City will attest to having been beaten 3-2 at the Etihad Stadium in February, allowing Jurgen Klopp's Reds to close the gap at the top in the first place.

However, despite having won four of their five Premier League meetings with Liverpool between November 2010 and November 2012, Spurs have won just one of their last 18 against them.

Will someone pay the penalty?

This time last year, you would have been called a fool for predicting Liverpool would be anywhere near the title race now, let alone being so while potentially winning every other trophy possible as well.

The Reds had a turbulent campaign in 2020-21, which included an unthinkable six home defeats in a row at one point, with no fans or centre-backs, leaving them flailing in their own quest for Champions League qualification, though a late run of wins saw them ultimately finish third.

Since the last of those six home defeats, the Reds are unbeaten in 21 Premier League home games, scoring 52 goals and conceding just nine. They have won each of their last 12 at Anfield, including the last five while keeping a clean sheet – only once have they had a longer run of home wins without conceding in the Premier League (eight between October 2005 and January 2006).

Ensuring another shutout will be easier said than done, though, as Liverpool against Tottenham is the second highest-scoring fixture in Premier League history (170 goals in 59 meetings), while it has seen more penalties awarded than any other match-up in the competition (23).

Kane v Mane

It was a slow start to the season for Tottenham striker Harry Kane, only managing one goal in his first 13 league games, though the England captain has bagged 12 goals in 20 games since.

He also has a good record against Saturday's opponents, having been involved in nine goals in 13 Premier League appearances against Liverpool (seven goals, two assists), with five of these goal involvements coming in seven games at Anfield (four goals, one assist).

Spurs will have to be wary of Liverpool's forward threat too, with Sadio Mane on such a run of form that he is in the early conversation for this year's Ballon d'Or.

Mane also has an impeccable record at Anfield, having scored in 49 different Premier League games at the stadium (one for Southampton and 48 for Liverpool) avoiding defeat in all 49 of those matches (W44 D5) – the most games a player has scored in at a single ground in the competition's history without ever losing.

Conte can dampen Reds title hopes

Having started the season with Nuno Espirito Santo in the dugout after Antonio Conte was among a series of coaches to turn the club down, very few Spurs fans would have been expecting to see the Italian leading their charge for a top-four spot just a few months later.

Conte has unsurprisingly been a success at Tottenham since arriving in November, with 14 wins, four draws and six defeats in his 24 Premier League games so far.

Both of former Chelsea boss Conte's Premier League visits to Liverpool have finished in 1-1 draws – only four managers have avoided defeat in each of their first three away games at Anfield in the competition: Martin O'Neill, Peter Reid, Roy Hodgson and Paul Lambert.

Arguably the most impressive player so far under Conte, Son Heung-min, has scored 19 Premier League goals this season, with none of them coming from the penalty spot. The South Korea international could become just the second Spurs player to score 20 in a Premier League campaign without any of them being penalties, after Gareth Bale in 2012-13.

Antonio Conte says Tottenham must "spend a lot of money" to compete with Premier League title contenders Liverpool ahead of facing the Reds at Anfield.

Spurs are locked in a battle with rivals Arsenal for a top-four finish and travel to Merseyside to face Jurgen Klopp's quadruple-chasing outfit on Saturday.

Tottenham will meet a Liverpool team unbeaten in 21 Premier League home games, while the Reds have not tasted defeat in their past 15 league games overall.

Klopp also saw his team secure the third Champions League final appearance of his seven-year reign with a 3-2 away win over Villarreal on Tuesday.

Looking back on the success Klopp has achieved since arriving at Anfield in 2015, Conte said Spurs require "a big investment" to compete for major honours as he highlighted the strength of their competitors in England.

"The time for Liverpool was easier than now," Conte said, "because when Liverpool started this work with Jurgen, they were a top team, not in a way they are now, so consolidated with an important manager, [but] always the same team, big investment, big money spent on the transfer market.

"They had also the right space to improve and reach this. Now, in my opinion, I am talking about this league, it is more difficult because the space is not so big.

"To reduce this gap, you need to spend a lot of money, because you need to buy important players. You have to know this, otherwise you cannot reduce this gap and hope always for a miracle.

"Don't forget that in England, it is more difficult because you find, in this moment, four teams that if they don't have a bad season they are there to fight for the Premier League, the EFL Cup, the FA Cup, Champions League, Europa League. 

"English teams are present in every competition, Champions League, Europa League, Europa Conference, Premier League, and the final of the EFL Cup was with Chelsea and Liverpool. Now in the FA Cup, Chelsea and Liverpool; the Premier League is a fight with Liverpool and Manchester City.

"It is not simple because you have a master in front of you; you need time. You need a big investment because you have to spend a lot of money if you want to be competitive and try to reduce this gap; otherwise you have to accept to stay in the middle."

Having drawn 1-1 on each of his two previous Premier League visits to Anfield (both as Chelsea manager), Conte is aiming to become just the fifth coach in the competition's history to avoid defeat across his first three trips to Liverpool, after Martin O'Neill, Peter Reid, Roy Hodgson, and Paul Lambert.

However, Spurs have won just one of their past 18 Premier League meetings with the Reds after winning four of the five before that.

We are in the home stretch in the Premier League, which means everything is at stake – in the fantasy leagues, that is.

It is that time of the year when fantasy managers start to go over which games matter at opposite ends of the table to maximise points hauls.

Stats Perform has you covered with some Opta-powered recommendations below, so here are our suggestions for a new goalkeeper, defender, midfielder and striker.

EDERSON (Manchester City v Newcastle United)

Following their dramatic Champions League exit at the hands of Real Madrid, there is a possibility Manchester City players might actually breathe fire on Sunday against Newcastle United.

It will likely mean sporadic and low-quality opportunities for the Toon and, ultimately, light work for Ederson in City's goal.

Another clean sheet for the Brazil international will see him record at least 20 in a Premier League season for the second time, the last being in 2018-19. The next best to Ederson's 90 clean sheets since 2017-18 is Liverpool's Alisson, with 64.

GABRIEL MAGALHAES (Arsenal v Leeds United)

Arsenal's Champions League hopes could hinge on this weekend, with nearest rivals Tottenham coming up against Liverpool. The Gunners need points against favourable opponents.

Only Chelsea's Reece James (five) has scored more Premier League goals for defenders this season than Gabriel's four for Arsenal, with all of them coming from corner situations.

With that in mind, Leeds are one of the five sides in the Premier League this season to have conceded at least 10 goals from corners.

DEJAN KULUSEVSKI (Liverpool v Tottenham)

However, Arsenal's need to pick up points against Leeds does not mean Tottenham players are off-limits, and Antonio Conte's side on the counter-attack are a tough proposition for any club in Europe.

Dejan Kulusevski has come to life at Spurs after a middling spell at Juventus, with no player in Europe's top five leagues providing more assists since his first start in the Premier League. 

On top of Kulusevski's eight assists, only Son Heung-min (15) and Harry Kane (14) have been involved in more Premier League goals than him (11) over the same period.

RICHARLISON (Leicester City v Everton)

Leicester's struggles in possession once again came to the fore on Thursday against Roma, and on Sunday they will have to back up against one of the Premier League's most dynamic players in transition.

Richarlison has almost single-handedly propelled Everton's push for Premier League survival, with six involvements in their last eight goals.

At this rate (12 goal involvements), the Brazil international is on track to match his tally of 16 from the 2019-20 season.

With his contract set to expire at the end of this season, Kylian Mbappe is reportedly going to sign a two-year extension with Paris Saint-Germain.

Mbappe, 23, has established himself as one of the world's premier players, with 24 goals and 16 assists in his 32 Ligue 1 fixtures this season, and six goals with six assists in eight Champions League games.

In his four seasons since arriving in Paris in 2018, he has won three Ligue 1 titles with one runners-up finish, but has never won the Champions League. A disappointing exit in the first knockout stage this campaign was supposed to push the young star out the door, but that may not be the case.

 

TOP STORY – MBAPPE ON THE BRINK OF PARIS SAINT-GERMAIN EXTENSION

Mbappe has been strongly linked with Real Madrid – often referred to as his 'dream club' – but he may snub the Champions League finalists for a deal Le Parisien reports is worth £42.5million per year, with an £85m signing bonus.

If he does opt to stay in France, it will have a significant domino effect as it would likely take PSG out of the discussion for a number of the world's most expensive players in the coming transfer window, and vastly increase Madrid's spending power if they had budgeted for his arrival.

While it appears at this stage that a deal is likely, The Mirror is reporting Mbappe's mum saying "there is no agreement in principle with Paris Saint-Germain or any other club".

 

ROUND-UP

– The Daily Star is reporting Pep Guardiola will sign a contract extension to keep him at Manchester City until at least 2025.

– Everton are prepared to sell goalkeeper Jordan Pickford to fund a rebuild, according to Talksport. Tottenham and Newcastle United are said to be monitoring the England international's situation.

– Jose Mourinho wants to bring Manchester United full-back Aaron Wan-Bissaka to Roma, per The Sun.

– The Sun is reporting Man City will compete with United for the signature of Barcelona midfielder Frenkie de Jong.

– According to Gazzetta dello Sport, Napoli striker Victor Osimhen would prefer to join Arsenal instead of Man United or Newcastle.

Antonio Conte has strongly hinted Tottenham will be triggering their option to purchase Dejan Kulusevski from Juventus after an encouraging start to his loan spell.

Kulusevski joined Spurs at the end of the January transfer window, with the club reportedly paying Juve €10million (£8.3m) to take him on loan until June 2023.

That deal included a purchase option, which is reportedly set at €30m (£24.9m) for the upcoming transfer window. If Spurs do not trigger that agreement, a mandatory €35m clause could come into effect next year if Kulusevski plays at least 45 minutes in 50 per cent of their Premier League games and the club qualifies for the Champions League, according to the Guardian.

And judging from Conte's response when asked about his future, Spurs are already considering Kulusevski as one of their own.

Asked if the club is taking up the purchase option on the winger, Conte told reporters: "Yeah, I think he's on loan but it's like a deal ended.

"He's a Tottenham player, 100 per cent in every aspect. Not officially, but he's 100 per cent a Tottenham player."

Kulusevski has made a strong impact after a slow first few weeks at the club, with his creativity and ability on the ball making him a valuable asset alongside Harry Kane and Son Heung-min in Spurs' attack.

Since his Premier League debut on February 9, Kulusevski's eight assists is a Premier League high, with Kane (six) the only other player to register more than four.

The Sweden international has also scored three times over that period, making him just one of five players to reach double figures for goal involvements, alongside Son (15), Kane (14), Mohamed Salah and Cristiano Ronaldo (both 10).

Kulusevski's ball-carrying ability has also been a weapon for Spurs. He has totalled 18 shot involvements (shots taken and chances created) at the end of a carry, a figure bettered by only six players.

Similarly, five of his goal involvements have come after carries, with no Premier League player managing more over the same period.

But while Kulusevski seems a certainty to stick around at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, Conte insists he is not getting ahead of himself by planning transfer talks with chairman Daniel Levy and sporting director Fabio Paratici.

"No, no, no," he laughed. "We're totally focused on this season.

"Also, because I repeat, we're finishing this season with only 15 players and at the moment, it's not convenient to give them a list, because the list it would be very, very, very big!

"You understand? It's not a good moment to give them the list."

Tottenham head coach Antonio Conte has urged his players to be "brave" when they take on title-chasing Liverpool in the Premier League at Anfield on Saturday.

Spurs travel to Merseyside with their own ambitions of qualifying for next season's Champions League still in the balance.

Conte's men sit fifth in the table, two points behind north London rivals Arsenal in fourth, with four games remaining.

Liverpool, meanwhile, are still unbeaten in the league in 2022 and have won 13 of their last 14 Premier League games.

Jurgen Klopp's Reds also remain in the hunt for an unprecedented quadruple, with the EFL Cup already won and an FA Cup final to come against Chelsea. They sit just a point behind Manchester City in the league, and on Tuesday qualified for the Champions League final where they will play Real Madrid in Paris.

Speaking at a media conference on Thursday, Conte praised Klopp's stars, in particular the way they overcame Villarreal in their semi-final.

The Reds took a 2-0 lead into the second leg at El Madrigal but were 2-0 down to Unai Emery's team and reeling at half-time, before coming back to win 3-2 on the night and 5-2 on aggregate.

"We know in this moment it is very difficult to play against Liverpool, because they are in really good form," Conte said.

"I watched the game against Villarreal and it was incredible the calm that the team showed in a difficult situation, because after the first half they were 2-0 down and the atmosphere was very, very difficult for Liverpool.

"I have seen great composure, great calm of the team, and now they know that the team is strong, the team is I think one of the best teams in the world with Manchester City."

The former Juventus, Chelsea and Inter boss, who was appointed by Spurs in November, was respectful of Liverpool but insisted he wants his players to play with belief and confidence on Saturday.

Spurs have won five of their last seven in the league, and drew 2-2 with the Reds at home in December.

"We have prepared for the game very well, and I think we need to be very good without the ball, to be good defensively, but if we want to win we have to be very good with the ball," Conte said.

"I said to my players, we need to play a good game and be brave when we have the ball.

"Don't be scared of the pressure and to find a solution because I think we improved a lot, and we can go there to play and to try to get three points."

Barcelona's financial volatility has necessitated a cut of overall wage spend, and Philippe Coutinho has long been viewed as dispensable.

Since his big-money signing from Liverpool, the incompatibility the Brazil international has represented has only been reinforced with loan spells at Bayern Munich and Aston Villa.

However, in need of funds, the Blaugrana have reportedly set the Birmingham club a timeframe for confirming his permanent signing.

 

TOP STORY – BARCELONA GIVE ASTON VILLA COUTINHO ULTIMATUM

Barcelona have given Aston Villa until the end of the month to confirm whether they will sign Coutinho on a permanent deal, Sport is reporting.

The cash-strapped Catalan giants loaned Coutinho to Villa in January with a €40million (£33.7m) purchase option, but Villa have now been given until the end of May to finalise the deal.

Barcelona have reportedly insisted that the finances be resolved by the end of June, as it would help balance their accounts for the season. 

The 29-year-old has played erratically despite four goals and three assists in 14 appearances, not directly contributing to a league goal since early March against Leeds.

ROUND-UP

- Romelu Lukaku has no intention of joining Milan or Newcastle United despite frustration over a lack of opportunities, according to the Evening Standard.

- Chelsea want to sign 20-year-old Croatian defender Josko Gvardiol from RB Leipzig, Goal reports.

- Football Insider reports Inter Milan are looking to sell Stefan de Vrij, with Tottenham and Aston Villa among the clubs interested.

- Lazio are willing to lower their asking price for Sergej Milinkovic-Savic to around €80million, per Calciomercato.

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