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» Stelling claims blackmailers demanded £50k or he'd be accused of sexual assault
Soccer Saturday host Jeff Stelling has broken his silence on blackmailers who demanded £50,000 from the 65-year-old or they would accuse him of sexual assault
» Mikel Arteta provides injury update on Arsenal left-back Kieran Tierney
Kieran Tierney was set to start against West Ham but the Arsenal defender did not make it past the warm-up with Sead Kolasniac coming in for the Scotland international
» Gareth Bale's new Tottenham contract means he could stay longer than one season
Tottenham have brought back the Wales international seven years after he left with Jose Mourinho pushing for a loan transfer from Real Madrid hard this summer window
» Nketiah opens up on Ceballos bust-up after duo combine to score Arsenal winner
The pair were involved in a heated clash before facing Fulham on the opening weekend - but all was harmonious on the pitch as they combined for the late winner over West Ham
» Barcelona banned from signing Liverpool midfielder Georginio Wijnaldium
EXCLUSIVE: Barca boss Ronald Koeman has made Wijnaldum one of his two priority transfer targets - but his plans to sign the 29-year-old have been thrown into disarray
» Oxlade-Chamberlain emerges as target for Wolves after latest Liverpool arrivals
Oxlade-Chamberlain is likely to fall further down the midfield pecking order at Anfield after the arrival of Thiago Alcantara - and Wolves are ready to pounce for the 27-year-old
» Dele Alli told what he must do to save Tottenham career under Jose Mourinho
Alli was hauled off at half-time in Spurs' 1-0 defeat to Everton on the opening weekend - but club icon Glenn Hoddle insists the 24-year-old has "not lost his way"
» Jurgen Klopp labels Mo Salah "greedy" as he explains his secret to success
Salah hasn't stopped scoring since the day he walked into Anfield. Klopp reckons some players might have lit a cigar after that kind of entrance, but not the Egyptian
» Solskjaer blaming Southgate is as misplaced as his Man Utd team selection
ANDY DUNN COLUMN: Never mind the controversy over Crystal Palace's second goal, this was an opening performance from Man United that got exactly what it deserved
» Sergio Romero nears Man Utd exit with Valencia keen to make transfer happen
EXCLUSIVE: Valencia are believed to have contacted United and are willing to pay around £6m for the 33-year-old Argentinian, who has slipped down the pecking order at Old Trafford
» Arteta explains decision to make two changes to Arsenal team that beat Fulham
Mikel Arteta surprisingly made two changes to the Arsenal side that ran riot against Fulham last week for Saturday afternoon's visit of Fulham.
» Arsenal player ratings as late Eddie Nketiah strike secures the points
Mikel Arteta's Gunners side went into their first home game of the new Premier League campaign against West Ham full of confidence after battering Fulham last week
» 5 talking points as Arsenal strike late to sink spirited West Ham
The Gunners welcomed the Irons to the Emirates for their first home game of the campaign, and an 85th-minute winner handed the hosts victory over their London rivals
» Solskjaer drops Jadon Sancho hint as he confirms Man Utd's transfer plans
Manchester United were beaten 3-1 by Crystal Palace on Saturday, and Red Devils boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer wants to snap up some new recruits as soon as possible
» Frank Lampard admits wife Christine Bleakley helps him manage his footie stars
EXCLUSIVE: The former One Star host and Loose Women presenter offers advice to Chelsea boss Frank Lampard at home if any of his players are having off-pitch troubles
» Man Utd player ratings after horrendous season opener vs Crystal Palace
The Red Devils slipped to a 3-1 defeat, with goals from Andros Townsend and Wilfried Zaha securing the victory for the visitors despite Donny van de Beek scoring on his debut
» 5 talking points as abject Man Utd lose to Crystal Palace in season opener
Former Manchester United forward Wilfried Zaha terrorised Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's defence, as Roy Hodgson's Eagles ran out comfortable winners at Old Trafford
» Neville slams "nonsense" penalty decision as Man Utd punished vs Crystal Palace
There was yet more VAR controversy at Old Trafford as Palace re-took a second half penalty after Jordan Ayew missed the first attempt.
» Evra explains why he's not surprised Man Utd gave up easy goal to Crystal Palace
The Red Devils slipped to an early deficit as Andros Townsend opened the scoring at Old Trafford - and former defender Evra highlighted the problem which led to the goal
» Gary Neville aims dig at Ed Woodward over handling of Jadon Sancho transfer
United have made just one signing so far in what has been a disappointing summer, with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer securing the services of Donny van de Beek from Ajax
» Gareth Bale sends personal message to Tottenham fans as £20m transfer confirmed
The Welsh forward has finally returned to his former club and appears to be delighted with the move
» Emerging Everton partnership puts Premier League top-four chasers on notice
The Toffees have won each of their three games this season and shrewd summer recruitment means they now have strength and depth across their midfield and attack
» Jurgen Klopp outlines role for Diogo Jota after Liverpool complete transfer
The Reds completed the signing of Portugal international Jota on a five-year deal on Saturday - and manager Klopp has earmarked a role at Anfield for the 23-year-old
» Ed Woodward appears to drop Sancho transfer hint in Man Utd programme notes
The Red Devils have signed just one player so far this summer transfer window in £35million midfielder Donny van de Beek from Ajax, but remain linked with Jadon Sancho

Other sport news:

» Frank Lampard’s blue privilege will go only so far against self-made Klopp | Barney Ronay

Backed by a clutch of costly summer arrivals, the bristling Chelsea manager must back his jibes with results

“Only title you’ve won and you’re giving it the big ’un.”

There were some fascinating shades to the touchline stramash between Frank Lampard and Jürgen Klopp in the dog days of the Premier League’s summer season.

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» Manchester United need time more than money or Jadon Sancho | Jonathan Liew

Old Trafford could do with a new face or two, but the need is no more pressing because of their opening defeat by Crystal Palace

Last weekend, a small but significant part of Manchester United’s online fanbase got themselves extremely excited by a new Instagram Story posted by their on-off transfer target, the Borussia Dortmund winger Jadon Sancho.

Over recent years, the increasingly feverish fetishisation of transfer gossip has been mirrored in the growth of an army of amateur online detectives who scour the social media posts of footballers – and often their partners and families – for even the vaguest hint they may be on the move. Planes are tracked across the North Sea. Isn’t that row of elms the same as the one outside Arsenal’s training ground? If I’m not mistaken, that broken grit box is from the A560, which is how you’d get from Manchester airport to Carrington if the M56 is gridlocked. And so on.

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» 'I want trophies': Gareth Bale seals Spurs return while Liverpool land Diogo Jota
  • Spurs will pay about £20m to loan the Welshman
  • Diogo Jota moves to Liverpool from Wolves on long-term deal

Gareth Bale has set his sights on silverware after returning to Tottenham on loan from Real Madrid. The 31-year-old rejoins Spurs on a season-long deal seven years after he moved in the opposite direction in a then world-record transfer and is determined to bring success to the club where he first established himself.

Related: Masterstroke or mistake? Who cares, Bale's return to Spurs is intoxicating | Barney Ronay

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» Eddie Nketiah strikes late to give Arsenal victory over West Ham

Squabbling siblings one week, happy families the next. Last weekend, Eddie Nketiah and Dani Ceballos briefly came to blows at Fulham after a dispute in the pre-match warmup, simmering down before watching Arsenal cruise home from opposite ends of the substitutes’ bench.

This time they combined at close quarters to squeeze a good outcome from a poor performance, Ceballos squaring five minutes from the end to give his teammate a tap-in and leaving a vastly improved West Ham feeling aggrieved to depart with nothing.

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» Chelsea's Kai Havertz relishing prospect of taking on Jürgen Klopp's Liverpool
  • Havertz a long-time admirer of the Premier League
  • Champions visit Stamford Bridge on Sunday

Chelsea’s biggest summer signing, Kai Havertz, has always been a keen follower of Premier League football, so he knows exactly what Jürgen Klopp has done for Liverpool in recent seasons. The Liverpool manager’s standing is so high in both Germany and England at the moment it would be a difficult subject to avoid anyway, but when Chelsea kick off their home campaign against the defending champions on Sunday Havertz will feel his real introduction to English football is properly under way.

The 21-year-old admitted he was tired out by his debut exertions against Brighton last week, acknowledging that games in the Premier League can be more physically demanding than those in the Bundesliga, but is aware Klopp’s team come with a guarantee of energetic pressing and a record of making blistering starts to league campaigns. Perhaps that was not quite in evidence in the somewhat uncertain opening victory over newly promoted Leeds last week, but Chelsea have invested heavily over the summer in a bid to join Liverpool and Manchester City at the very top of the table, and as part of that strengthening Havertz is well aware that this early season contest could set the tone for what is to follow.

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» Thiago and Salah have Klopp beaming amid Liverpool's testing start
  • Manager laughs off suggestion of any easier matches
  • Liverpool play at Chelsea on Sunday before hosting Arsenal

Liverpool have been handed one of the tougher starts to a Premier League season, with the awkward opener against Leeds followed by Sunday’s trip to Chelsea and then the visit of Arsenal, but Jürgen Klopp burst into laughter when asked if he would have preferred a gentler introduction to his first title defence.

“Can you supply the names of the teams who would have given us an easy start?” he responded. “I have never really known that to happen in this league. I agree that what we have been given is tough but I can’t say I thought about it too much. Pretty much any team you come across in the Premier League can cause you a problem.”

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» Ilkay Gündogan believes Manchester City need 100 points to top Liverpool
  • German says Guardiola’s side must strive for consistency
  • 2018 and 2019 champions start season a week late at Wolves

Ilkay Gündogan says Manchester City need to be much more consistent this season if they are going to challenge for another Premier League title.

City were left behind by Liverpool’s unstoppable surge to an early crown last season, whereas the season before Gündogan and his teammates faced down Liverpool’s remarkable 97-point haul by managing to finish on 98. That meant City were champions despite losing four games to their rivals’ one, and the German midfielder believes his club should aim for that sort of reliability.

“Last season we scored the most goals and Ederson got the Golden Glove for most clean sheets, but we still need to improve because we lost too many games,” Gündogan said as he prepared for Monday’s opening game of the new campaign at Wolves.

“Some games we would win comfortably, then in others we would make a mistake or not finish our chances and lose. It is impossible to win every game but what you can do is try to learn from your defeats. We have to try to be more consistent in all the games. It is hard to rack up 100 points or 98 points every single year, but if we want to be challenging for all the titles again this season we have to be closer to that sort of standard.

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» Dominic Calvert-Lewin hits hat-trick as Everton fire five past West Brom

The front-row desk of the press box here took a second-half pounding from the fists of Slaven Bilic, sent to the stands over his furious reaction to the incident that guided Everton and West Brom to opposite ends of the table. His team took one, too, from the precision of Dominic Calvert-Lewin and vision of James Rodríguez, as Carlo Ancelotti maintained his perfect start in his first full season as Everton manager.

Calvert-Lewin recorded the first hat-trick of his Everton career as he continued his own fine start to a campaign that opened with his winner at Tottenham last Sunday. James scored his first goal in English football since his move from Real Madrid and illuminated the afternoon with touches of genuine class. He was also involved in the moment that turned everything when, seconds after sweeping Everton ahead, he collapsed to the ground after taking a shove in the face from Kieran Gibbs.

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» Leeds hold off spirited Fulham fightback after Hélder Costa double

Leeds were on the right end of a 4-3 scoreline this time, yet enjoyable as it has been to see seven goals scored in two games, exactly the same number have been conceded and Marcelo Bielsa admitted he has concerns about his defence. Though apparently dead and buried at one point Fulham came closer to taking something from this game than they had any right to after conceding four times in the first hour.

“We will have to wait for a few more games before we can make firm conclusions,” Bielsa said. “We attacked quite well but didn’t finish our chances, then we had 10 minutes in the second half where we made mistakes.

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» European roundup: Haaland double fires Dortmund to winning start
  • Haaland sees off Mönchengladbach, Hertha beat Bremen
  • Unai Emery earns first win as Villarreal hit back to beat Eibar

Erling Braut Haaland scored twice and teenager Giovanni Reyna added another as Borussia Dortmund cruised past Borussia Mönchengladbach 3-0 in their season opener on Saturday.

The 20-year-old Haaland scored a 54th-minute penalty, awarded for a foul on Reyna, and bagged another with a sensationally quick counterattack and a Jadon Sancho assist as Dortmund utilised their fearsome youthful attacking weapons. Reyna opened the scoring, after combining perfectly with his fellow 17-year-old Jude Bellingham in the 35th minute. His first league goal made him the second youngest American to score in the league after Christian Pulisic. The hosts, playing in front of a crowd limited to 9,300 fans in their 80,000-capacity stadium due to Covid-19 restrictions, also hit the crossbar with a Sancho header.

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» Celtic do just enough to see off Livingston thanks to Albian Ajeti

Celtic came from behind for the second time in a week to go top of the Premiership with a narrow victory over Livingston.

Neil Lennon’s side had given up the first goal away to St Mirren on Wednesday before winning 2-1 and found themselves behind at home when Jason Holt scored a 16th-minute penalty.

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» Championship roundup: Swansea and Birmingham coaches and players clash
  • Melee mars goalless draw at Liberty Stadium
  • Brentford inaugurate new ground by beating Huddersfield

Swansea and Birmingham shared a 0-0 Championship draw that was overshadowed by players and coaches clashing at the Liberty Stadium. The two teams could not be separated over the course of 90 minutes, during which Alan Tate, the home side’s first-team coach, grabbed the Blues midfielder Jon Toral by the throat.

There were few clearcut chances in either half as they had to settle for a point apiece. As the first period drew to a close the frustration of both sets of players and the coaching staff at the referee, Gavin Ward, rose. This culminated just before the break when Tate put his hands on Toral on the touchline and a huge melee by the tunnel broke out.

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» Ellen White praises Phil Neville as England Women await Tokyo decision
  • Sarina Wiegman takes over after Olympics next summer
  • White: ‘He’s been fantastic – we’re blessed to have him’

Ellen White has praised the England Women’s manager, Phil Neville, as the Lionesses prepare to find out whether he will be taking them to Tokyo next summer.

“We knew the length of his contract and, with Covid and the fact the Olympics was pushed back, we understand,” the Manchester City striker said of his decision to end his contract next year. “He’s been a fantastic manager for us and we’ve really loved working with him and we’re blessed to have him for another 12 months.”

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» Timothy Castagne: 'Rodgers has given me the confidence to go faster'

Hard-running full-back has made an instant impression on Leicester thanks to a rapport swiftly built with his new manager

Even before his debut against West Brom last Sunday, Timothy Castagne impressed his new teammates at Leicester with a rendition of Jason Mraz’s hit I’m Yours. Those players were glad he was theirs when the right-back, a £21.5m recruit from Atalanta, opened the scoring at the Hawthorns en route to a 3-0 win.

“I have to try and continue on that path and don’t stop after just one game,” says a player for whom the cliche “hit the ground running” could have been invented.

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» Real Madrid begin La Liga defence surrounded by air of mystery | Sid Lowe

With no signings, no tour and no supporters, Zinedine Zidane’s side will be looking for a big improvement from Eden Hazard

Real Madrid beat Getafe 6-0 this week, or so it goes. The league champions’ only pre-season match was a ghost game: there was no one there to watch it, which is at least perfect preparation these days, but there were no television cameras and no report either, no lineups, no mention of it on the club’s Twitter and no glimpse of the goals – four of them scored by Karim Benzema. Sergio Ramos got a penalty, which you like to imagine was a Panenka, and Sergio Arribas hit the other. Or did he head it? Who knows? That is what the sports paper AS said, anyway, although they were understandably sketchy on the details.

Madrid treated it as a training session not to be shared. There is a photo of the captains, Ramos and David Timor, with the officials but, under the headline “the week’s second training session”, all the club’s website reveals is: “Some of the squad played a training match against Getafe in the Alfredo Di Stéfano. Another group of players worked in the gym and on pitches one and two.” And that’s pretty much that.

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» Men's transfer window summer 2020 – all deals from Europe's top five leagues

All the summer’s Premier League, La Liga, Bundesliga, Ligue 1 and Serie A deals and club-by-club guides

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» Chelsea agree £22m deal to sign Rennes goalkeeper Édouard Mendy
  • Mendy signing will put pressure on Kepa Arrizabalaga
  • Chelsea were told to raise offer of £18.2m plus add-ons

Chelsea are set to sign a goalkeeper to put pressure on Kepa Arrizabalaga after reaching an agreement with Rennes over a £22m deal for Édouard Mendy.

Frank Lampard needs more competition for Arrizabalaga after losing faith in the £71.6m goalkeeper. Arrizabalaga lost his place last season and was criticised after conceding a soft goal during Chelsea’s 3-1 win at Brighton on Monday.

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» Cardiff's Kieffer Moore adds to Nottingham Forest's woes with double

Sabri Lamouchi offered a stark warning to his Nottingham Forest players after they suffered a 2-0 defeat at the hands of Cardiff. Forest have gone eight league games without a win after two goals from Kieffer Moore helped Neil Harris’s side to their first victory of the campaign.

Lamouchi was furious after seeing his side concede from two set pieces, after spending hours in training working on defending them this past week. Moore took only three minutes to head in a corner, before prodding home after a long throw-in five minutes before half-time.

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» Andy Robertson relishing 'fun' of proving Liverpool's doubters wrong

Left-back has written what he describes as ‘a love letter to my teammates’ and believes more is to come from the champions

Andy Robertson has written what he unashamedly describes as “a love letter to all my teammates” and, after what they have achieved together at Liverpool, it is easy to understand why. His conviction there is more to come from the Premier League champions, however, is not based on blind devotion or the arrival of Thiago Alcântara.

“If the club buys players it will be to improve the squad,” says the Liverpool left-back. “That is always welcomed. And if they don’t we have a squad that can compete on all fronts. That is what we believe. We have a squad with young lads who are getting better every day. Our squad can compete for the four trophies we are going for.”

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» Frank Lampard tells Callum Hudson-Odoi to work harder for Chelsea place
  • Manager calls for more focus from teenager in training
  • Bayern Munich reportedly set to revive interest in winger

Frank Lampard has said Callum Hudson-Odoi has to work harder in training to earn a place in Chelsea’s starting lineup following suggestions Bayern Munich are set to revive their interest in the winger.

Bayern wanted to sign Hudson-Odoi before he committed his future to Chelsea last year, signing a five-year deal, and reports in Germany have claimed the European champions plan to target the England international again. Although it is understood nothing is likely to happen during this window, Lampard offered little clarity about the 19-year-old’s future. “I’ve got no idea, I’ve not got anything,” Chelsea’s manager said. “I don’t know if there is any truth in it, so not much to say I suppose.”

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» Liverpool agree £41m deal for Diogo Jota after landing Thiago Alcântara
  • Portuguese forward to move from Wolves on five-year deal
  • Thiago says he was ‘waiting for this moment for a long time’

Diogo Jota will soon become a Liverpool player after the club reached an agreement with Wolves to sign the Portuguese forward for £41m having also completed the transfer of Thiago Alcântara from Bayern Munich.

Jota has signed a five-year contract with the Premier League champions after personal terms were swiftly agreed and all that needs to be done to complete the transfer is a medical, which should take place soon. Likely to move in the other direction is 18-year-old Dutch centre-back Ki-Jana Hoever for a fee that could rise to £13.5m.

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» Arsenal v West Ham: match preview

Arsenal aim to channel the good feeling of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s new contract and the continuation of their fine summer form. West Ham were their final opponents before the Covid-19 shutdown in March and, as Mikel Arteta admitted, Arsenal were fortunate to win that day. But they have progressed since then while it is hard to find too much positivity for David Moyes’ side, who need to tighten up their defence if they are not to endure a torrid evening. Arteta must decide whether David Luiz is ready to return and waits on Granit Xhaka but, based on the win at Fulham, the rest of his team picks itself. Nick Ames

Saturday 8pm Sky Sports Premier League

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» Southampton v Tottenham: match preview

A fairytale return to where it all started will come too soon for Gareth Bale but the subplots do not stop there. This week Tottenham had an approach for Danny Ings, who scored the winner in this fixture last season, swiftly rebuffed by Southampton, with Ralph Hasenhüttl adamant the striker, whom he labelled “one of the best in Europe”, has zero interest in playing second fiddle to Harry Kane. Pierre-Emile Højbjerg, the former Southampton captain, and Kyle Walker-Peters, who joined Tottenham aged 10, are set to face their former clubs as Spurs travel to St Mary’s for the first of three games in five days. Ben Fisher

Sunday noon BT Sport 1

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» Newcastle v Brighton: match preview

Newcastle have fared fairly badly against Brighton since the pair were promoted together in 2017. They have lost two and drawn four of their past six meetings but the home side’s desire for atonement is far from the sole subplot in this match between two teams in transition. While Graham Potter oversaw a radical, and still ongoing, change in Brighton’s much more expansive style last season, Steve Bruce is proceeding more cautiously with Newcastle. Indeed his side managed only 36 % of possession during the midweek Carabao Cup win over Blackburn on Tyneside. Louise Taylor

Sunday 2pm Sky Sports Premier League

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» Chelsea v Liverpool: match preview

This is the first big test for Chelsea after their summer spend. While Liverpool’s defence looked shaky in last weekend’s 4-3 win over Leeds, the champions remain the team to beat. Liverpool have the benefit of stability and have boosted the mood around Anfield after signing Thiago Alcântara from Bayern Munich. But Chelsea flashed in victory over Brighton on Monday, with Timo Werner impressing on his debut, and Frank Lampard will be keen to outthink Jürgen Klopp after last season’s touchline spat. Jacob Steinberg

Sunday 4.30pm Sky Sports Premier League

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» Leicester v Burnley: match preview

Brendan Rodgers’ big decision is whether to start James Maddison, who returned from injury as a substitute in last weekend’s win at West Brom. Owing to other absences Leicester are likely to have to continue using Wilfred Ndidi in central defence – he coped fine at the Hawthorns but this Sunday he will face Chris Wood, who scored twice against Leicester last season, and who represents an altogether different challenge for a midfielder playing out of position. Paul Doyle

Sunday 7pm BBC One

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» Aston Villa v Sheffield United: match preview

Aston Villa will be raring to go against Sheffield United after beating the drop against the odds last season. Dean Smith has reason to hope for better now after upgrading his improving defence with right-back Matty Cash and goalkeeper Emiliano Martínez. Martínez is unlikely to get off to a worse start than Sheffield United’s goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale, who conceded twice within six minutes on his debut last week. The Blades need a sharper performance to keep out Ollie Watkins. He scored on his debut in the EFL Cup and was lethal for Brentford last term. Graham Searles

Monday 6pm Sky Sports Premier League

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» Wolves v Manchester City: match preview

If Manchester City are to mount a better title challenge this season then this is the kind of match where they must show improvement. Wolves beat City home and away last season and kicked off their own campaign with a fine win at Sheffield United last week before slipping up in the Carabao Cup against Stoke. Adama Traoré did plenty of damage to City last season so one of Pep Guardiola’s new signings, Ferran Torres, could be in for a heck of a baptism while the other, Nathan Aké, may be handed the equally difficult task of trying to suppress Raul Jiménez. As ever, City will be counting on their attack to offset any defensive problems. Paul Doyle

Monday 8.15pm Sky Sports Premier League

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» Masterstroke or mistake? Who cares, Bale's return to Spurs is intoxicating | Barney Ronay

The man in the YouTube reels may be seven years older but this is the kind of modern football moment too good not to enjoy

As a long-term observer it is always tempting to look out for moments that capture the essence of modern football, those single images that really get its basic weirdness. A personal favourite is the terrifying cube of death built by Qatar 2022 on the banks of the Moskva river at the last World Cup, a beautiful glass and steel exhibition centre intended to generate a thrill of carefree excitement about the next global festival of football, but one that resembled simultaneously a giant haunted cancerous polyp overseen by alien lizard secret service personnel.

There are plenty more everyday candidates. Gianni Infantino stepping on to a Gazprom private jet. Neymar running away from his teammates celebrating a goal by Neymar in an empty stadium where, just for a moment, the only audible sound is Neymar celebrating a goal by Neymar.

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» Timo Werner: 'In Leipzig I was the best Timo I could be. I wanted a new way to grow'

Chelsea’s £47.5m striker talks about his desire to challenge himself in the Premier League, Julian Nagelsmann’s influence on his career and running the 100m in 11.1sec

After hearing what people have been calling him, Timo Werner says: “I was a little bit surprised but Turbo Timo is not the worst nickname. Hopefully I can show the nickname suits me. Being fast is a really good thing because it gives me a lot of opportunities to score. It means I can create chances. Maybe people can say Turbo Timo scores a lot of goals.”

Chelsea’s new £47.5m striker looks ready to make a fast start in England. While Werner did not score when he made his debut in the 3-1 win against Brighton on Monday, the German was dangerous at the Amex Stadium and he had a hand in the opening goal when he won a penalty thanks to his speed.

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» Sam Kerr: 'I hope that we can be what Cathy Freeman was to kids like us' | Samantha Lewis

The Matildas captain on being inspired by the 2000 Olympics, how the challenges of the pandemic have been met and exciting times ahead

She is one of the most talked-about footballers in the world and her name has been written into the history books, but when Matildas captain Sam Kerr was asked about her favourite football moment at the launch of Nike’s new Australian national team kits, her answer was not about her own achievements.

It was not a goal, nor a game, nor one of her many individual accolades. Instead, it was watching the rise of the Matildas over the past two years: the sold-out home stadiums, the growing love and passion of the fans and Matildas jerseys being worn in the street.

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» Roma’s Marash Kumbulla: ‘I liked to watch Smalling. I tried to learn from him’

Albania centre-back earned a move to the capital after a spell at Verona, who Roma face as Serie A resumes this weekend

Many fear defending is a dying art, a vocation few want to accept any more. Even in Italy, the home of catenaccio, only a small number of players have emerged in recent years willing to spend 90 minutes suffocating opposition attacks.

Marash Kumbulla, however, spent his first season in Serie A with Verona showing the art form isn’t dead. The 20-year-old became one of the most sought-after defenders in Europe this summer, with Internazionale, Lazio and Tottenham keen on acquiring him before Roma who won the race to sign a player who could be at the heart of their defence for more than a decade.

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» With fans restive and a US consortium circling, what next for West Ham?

Owners have rejected offers to sell and supporters desperately want signings as a tough six-game sequence starts at Arsenal

At this stage it is hard to see how David Gold, David Sullivan and Karren Brady can possibly repair their damaged approval ratings. The trust is gone after four unhappy years at the London Stadium and the majority of West Ham’s supporters are tired of watching their dysfunctional club shed its identity in return for very little on the pitch.

The past few weeks have been draining. After a period of deceptive calm, West Ham unleashed a wave of negativity when they sold Grady Diangana to West Brom for £18m. Even Mark Noble, the captain, joined in the criticism. Selling the best young talent was not part of the brochure when West Ham left Upton Park in 2016 and, following defeat by Newcastle on the opening day of the new season, supporters are hoping for a brighter future following the news that an American consortium is proposing a takeover.

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» Premier League: 10 things to look out for this weekend

Chelsea and Liverpool could both be vulnerable, Nathan Aké has a rare chance and are Newcastle the Entertainers again?

Last season Liverpool won 15 league games by the odd goal, and began their title defence in similar style, beating Leeds 4-3 in an indecently entertaining match. But this habit is not an easy one to sustain, and it is worth nothing that they have lost five of their past 14 games, conceding 19 times in the process. It is true that now is a good time to play Chelsea – Kepa Arrizabalaga is still first choice, Ben Chilwell and Hakim Ziyech are unfit, and Timo Werner and Kai Havertz have not fully settled. But Werner still looked sharp against Brighton, while Havertz can change the course of a game at any moment. If Chelsea somehow refrain from tossing goals in their own net, they will ask some serious questions of a back four that has looked more vulnerable of late. DH

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» Gareth Bale: Spurs re-sign winger on loan from Real Madrid – video report

Seven years after leaving for a world-record fee to Real Madrid, Gareth Bale is back at Tottenham Hotspur in a bid to reignite his career.

Tottenham confirmed the season-long loan signing of Bale on Saturday in one of the most high-profile moves of the transfer window, minutes after announcing left-back Sergio Reguilon is also joining from the Spanish champions.

'It's such a special club to me,' the 31-year-old Bale said of Spurs, 'it's where I made my name.'

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» 'An absolutely exceptional player': Thiago signs for Liverpool – video report

Liverpool have signed Thiago Alcântara from Bayern Munich, bringing in one of the world's most technically gifted players to add another dimension to their midfield.

The 29-year-old ended his seven-year spell at Bayern, where he won seven Bundesliga titles and the Champions League in August. 'He is – and nobody would see it in a different way – an absolutely exceptional player,' said Liverpool manager Jürgen Klopp. 

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» Jürgen Klopp and Frank Lampard discuss rivalry before Chelsea v Liverpool – video

Liverpool manager Jürgen Klopp played down the rivalry between Chelsea manager Frank Lampard and himself before the teams' meeting at Stamford Bridge on Sunday. The pair exchanged words on the touchline during a 5-3 win for Liverpool at Anfield last season and ahead of the new season both Klopp and Lampard spoke about the transfer spending of their opposite number. 

However, Klopp insisted there is no problem between the pair and Lampard echoed those words in his own press conference. 'I just reiterate what Jürgen said from his part. I have got a huge amount of respect for him as a manager. I always have done,' Lampard said. 

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» 'It's never easy': Gareth Bale at Real Madrid in quotes – video

Gareth Bale is returning to Tottenham Hotspur after a glittering but turbulent spell at Real Madrid. The Welshman joins on a season-long loan, linking up with former Real manager José Mourinho. Bale has seen many highs during his time in the Spanish capital, most notably winning the Champions League four times and La Liga twice. However, during his recent years at the club, Bale has struggled with injuries as well as selection issues under the tenure of Zinedine Zidane

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» 'It's a total joke': Mourinho laments Tottenham fixture congestion – video

The Tottenham manager, José Mourinho, criticised the Premier League's decision to schedule his side's match against Southampton for midday on Sunday, after they played a Europa League qualifier in Bulgaria on Thursday night.

Tottenham beat Lokomotiv Plovdiv before travelling back to the UK ahead of their trip to the south coast. Next week they face Leyton Orient on Tuesday in the Carabao Cup before a trip to North Macedonia on Thursday to play KF Shkëndija in another Europe League qualifier. 

'They forgot that this situation. This is a total joke,' Mourinho lambasted.

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» 'Am I allowed to see my nan?': Chris Wilder bemused by football fans' return – video

Chris Wilder has spoken vehemently about the decision to allow a small section of fans into stadiums for some fixtures this weekend. 'We can have 1,000 people in the ground but I can't go and have a pint with my mates unless there's only six of us', the Sheffield United manager laughed as he said he 'hasn't got a clue' what's going on

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» Barcelona members succeed in setting up vote on president Bartomeu's future
  • More than 20,000 supporters sign a censorship motion
  • No confidence vote will be held by early November

The Barcelona president, Josep Maria Bartomeu, may be obliged to resign after club members succeeded in a bid to force a referendum. More than 20,000 supporters signed up to support a censorship motion against the beleaguered president who has overseen an ongoing crisis during which the club captain, Lionel Messi, announced he wanted to leave.

A vote on Bartomeu’s future will now be held by the start of November. If he loses, he and his board would be forced to step down with immediate effect and call early elections.

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» German football team socially distance from opponents, lose 37-0
  • Just seven players fielded due to coronavirus concern
  • SG Ripdorf/Molzen II players watch from safe distance

German amateur side SG Ripdorf/Molzen II sacrificed a tight defence for social distancing as they fielded only seven players as a coronavirus precaution in a 37-0 loss to local rivals SV Holdenstedt II.

The preparations for Sunday’s match in Lower Saxony’s 3 Kreisklasse – the 11th tier of German football – were complicated when it emerged that Holdenstedt players had been in contact with an opponent infected with Covid-19 in a previous match.

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» Serie A kicks off with all eyes on Juve's remarkable Andrea Pirlo gamble | Nicky Bandini

Will the rookie manager steer Juventus to a 10th straight title or could Inter, or Lazio or Atalanta, finally topple them?

Millions of Italian children went back to school on Monday. So did the manager of Juventus. Andrea Pirlo was completing the final stage of his Uefa Pro licence course, defending a thesis he had submitted two weeks earlier under the title “My Football”.

His writings will soon be made available, joining those of every other coach who has passed through Italy’s famous Scuola Allenatori (Managers’ School), in the library of the technical centre in Coverciano. Most of us, though, will get our first real insight into Pirlo’s vision for how the game should be played when Juventus host Sampdoria in their Serie A opener on Sunday.

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» Englishmen, crowds and a 'greedy piranha': welcome back Bundesliga | Andy Brassell

Bayern and Dortmund loom large over the rest as Leipzig and Leverkusen adjust after high-profile departures

There are many knock-on effects of such a short pause between seasons and even though the Bundesliga enjoyed a more civilised rest period than many – two-and-a-half months without league action almost seems like a luxury in these frantic times – it hardly feels as if German football has been away. When Bayern Munich raise the curtain, as is tradition for the champions, on 2020-21 on Friday night against Schalke, it will have been 26 days after they celebrated being the champions of Europe for the sixth time late into the Lisbon night.

Bayern’s majesty is fresh in the memory and their shadow looms over the Bundesliga longer and larger than ever before. If the results were dizzying, with the treble secured with 29 wins and a draw in the last 30 matches of the season, then their style was even more so. Hansi Flick’s enormous impact produced Bayern’s best football post-Guardiola with a group of players largely of an age to grow together and create a dynasty.

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» Cádiz are finally back, but not in the way that they dreamed of | Sid Lowe

After 15 years away, ‘the game Michael Robinson dreamed of’ wasn’t. And nor did it turn out the way Cádiz hoped

“To return is to win” runs the slogan on the tape across the top of the stairs at the Ramón de Carranza stadium in Cádiz, another line that can’t be crossed. At the bottom, the gates are locked, but outside a stall still sells scarves and hats in bright yellow, and two Osasuna supporters sit at a table in front of Bar Gol where footballs hang from the ceiling and photos cover the walls – icons of the club they have come to visit. Juan José Jiménez with his beard and magnificent mane, named Sandokan after the pirate. David Vidal, the loveable character they would invent if he didn’t exist. Mágico González, who Vidal proclaimed “technically better than Maradona”: as much myth as man now, the most cult of heroes. And the fans: a riot of colour and noise.

Well, normally. A few metres away, some have gathered on a warm Saturday evening, the beginning of a night they waited so long for, or never saw. A dad and his little boy, a mum and her littler girl, a podgy kid wearing a faded Cádiz T-shirt with Ché Guevara on the front and waving a flag bigger than he is. Teenagers with tops listing fans’ names like tour dates. “Cádiz are a first division team,” they say, which they are now 15 years later. A man holds a cuddly toy in a curly blue wig and a face mask. He is in his promotion T-shirt from the last time Cádiz came back and the flag he unfolds is 40 years old.

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» 'A terrible position': A-League clubs and players reach impasse over pay deal | Simon Hill

After players rejected a new CBA offer talks are in deadlock and the impact on the game in Australia could be severe

To say A-League players did it tough to get the domestic season completed is akin to saying Harry Kewell had the merest hint of talent. The Wellington Phoenix squad have only this week emerged to see if their families still recognise them, after entering a hub in Australia over 80 days ago. The players from the three Victorian clubs meantime, probably still wake up in cold sweats over their abortive attempts to cross the New South Wales border.

The players also took a big hit financially. A short-term collective bargaining agreement was struck, after some intense negotiating, that saw some take salary cuts of up to 80%. Yet just a fortnight after Rhyan Grant thrust his chest out, sprinter-style, to get Sydney FC over the line for a fifth title, the A-League’s 300-odd professionals are again back at the starting blocks.

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» Marseille beat PSG in a battle and show they are Ligue 1 title contenders

The game will be remembered for its splenetic finish but it was also the night Marseille planted a flag in the title race

By Eric Devin and Adam White for Get French Football News

“Imbeciles.” “Red with Shame.” “OM breaks Paris.” The headlines in France after Le Classique could not have been more damning. The match, always a showpiece for French football, was settled by Florian Thauvin’s goal in the first half. The narrative of PSG coasting to another title has been changed. However, the focus at the end of play was on the five red cards shown by the referee in injury time – two to Marseille and three to the hosts – and Neymar’s accusation of racism against Marseille defender Álvaro González.

That such a big match should end in ignominy will be a real source of disappointment for the league. Aside from a dull goalless draw between Lyon and Bordeaux on Friday, the weekend’s action had been exciting, with plenty of goals, including a spectacular finish from Irvin Cardona in Brest’s 2-0 win at Dijon. However, there was never any doubt that the big story of the weekend for the world at large would come from the Parc des Princes. It was certainly a spectacle, although not always for the way in which the two teams played.

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» Australia's foreign legion begin to prove their worth in WSL | Samantha Lewis

Fortunes were mixed but for the most part the sizeable group of Matildas joining Sam Kerr in England did not look out of place

Last week, when asked about Sam Kerr’s performance during Chelsea’s Community Shield win over Manchester City, head coach Emma Hayes responded in a way that was at odds with the melodramatic “Wembley nightmare” headlines written in the game’s wake.

“She caused problems and created chances,” Hayes said. “If you’ve got a striker who’s not creating chances, that’s a concern. Sam has been outstanding in pre-season and I expect that she’ll be on the training pitch tomorrow, working on her finishing.”

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» Ivan Rakitic's move brings revelry at Sevilla and relief in Barcelona

Midfielder served Barça well but they wanted rid of him a year ago and now the Croat is back where he believes he belongs

“Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet.” Better still, bring a Sevilla shirt and put his name on the back. Ivan Rakitic’s transfer to Sevilla from Barcelona was foretold with a reading from the bible, quoted by the club: Luke 15:22, the parable of the prodigal son. After six years away, the man they called sevillano has returned home and, as the father declares in the next verse of the new testament, this calls for celebration.

In Seville, that is. In Barcelona, the reaction was more like relief, some sort of resolution finally reached: at least this time they had done the right thing. A little late perhaps and with little reward, but they had. A year after Barcelona tried to force Rakitic out, using him to try to prise Neymar out of Paris and prompting him to note that he is “not a sack of potatoes”, they said farewell. Some did so more fondly than others but, take a step back, and they must see him for what he is: a man who served them so well, a central figure in the team that won it all before the end came.

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» Why I can't wait to see Gareth Bale in a Tottenham shirt again | Max Rushden

Spurs fans need the homecoming nostalgia of someone they saw turn from a boy into a joy of a footballer

Gareth Bale’s final – well hopefully not final – goal for Tottenham was in the last minute of the last game of the season. Sunderland at White Hart Lane, 19 May 2013. He picked the ball up on the right, cut inside like Arjen Robben and bent the ball into the top left corner from 25 yards past Simon Mignolet. It feels like Bale scored that goal a hundred times that season.

As soon as the ball hit the net, Emmanuel Adebayor ran to ask the crowd whether it was enough to get Spurs into the Champions League. It wasn’t. Beaten into fifth place by virtue of Arsenal’s win at Newcastle. André Villas-Boas insisted he could keep Bale at the club. He couldn’t.

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» Chelsea's swanky rebuild is in need of more solid foundations | Jacob Steinberg

Frank Lampard will be satisfied with his new-look side but knows the old problems are still lurking in the background

If title challenges are built on the ability to grind out scrappy 1-0 wins on the road, then Chelsea are not ready to catch Liverpool and Manchester City. An attack infused with elite Bundesliga talent is not enough.

With Kepa Arrizabalaga flapping behind a defence that still gives too many chances away, the same old weaknesses remain impossible to ignore. In the end Frank Lampard could speak about resilience and determination.

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» Cristiano Ronaldo's 101 Portugal goals a product of unceasing appetite | Barney Ronay

In passing an international century, Ronaldo has constructed a monument to himself that may never be surpassed

Eat, sleep, score against Armenia, repeat. And repeat. Then repeat again for the next 13 years until there are no more rungs left to climb, and the entire Fifa-mapped world, from Oceania to Concacaf, has been coloured a shade of Cristiano.

Yes, I watched all 101 of Cristiano Ronaldo’s international goals so you don’t have to. It was a brilliantly absorbing watch too, a flick-book version of the journey from there to here, with a sense of the past beginning to stir, older Ronaldos coming into view, Ronaldos beyond the Ronaldos.

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» The Fiver | Chelsea v Liverpool: when binary figures were seared into your retinas

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Remember the mid-2000s? If you do, you weren’t there. Or maybe you just have a series of binary figures seared into your retinas: 0-1, 1-0, 0-1, 0-0, 1-0, 0-0, 0-0, 1-0, 1-0, 1-0. That would mean you watched the rump of the Chelsea v Liverpool slugfests that pockmarked the era. For a five-year period from 2004 no competition was safe: they faced each other 24 times and, ghost goals or not, a fair wedge of them were bona fide stinkers and could even be found dangling from a stick. Which means a meeting between these two still brings back the shivers: gut-wrenching, “tactically fascinating” heave-hoes at a time when English clubs could have written the book on grinding big games out. So what’s this on Sunday afternoon? Hmm, Sassuolo v Cagliari is on the other side and less likely to give us disconcerting flashbacks.

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» Sports quiz of the week: Gareth Bale, a glut of goals and a globetrotter

Who kept losing? Who keeps winning? Who keeps moving?

Gareth Bale is set to sign for Tottenham at the age of 31. He did not have such a great start to his Spurs career as a 17-year-old. In his first spell at the club, how many games did Bale play for Spurs before he won one?





Lewis Hamilton won the Tuscan Grand Prix on Sunday and is now just one victory shy of Michael Schumacher’s all-time record in Formula One. How many races did Schumacher win in the sport?





Thiago Alcântara is joining Liverpool from Bayern Munich. He is moving to England from Germany, having been born in Italy and raised in Spain. For which country did his father win the World Cup?





Umut Uysal won a 100m race at the Balkan U20s Championship this week, beating six other sprinters and overcoming which other obstacle?

He had to run in a mask, gloves and a visor as he had a high temperature

He had to run over a stray cat at the finish line

He had to walk 10 miles to the venue as there was no public transport in the area

He is only 13 years old – seven years younger than the other athletes in the race

Bayern Munich begin their defence of the Bundesliga this weekend against Schalke. Who were the last club other than Bayern to win the league?


Bayer Leverkusen

VfL Wolfsburg

Borussia Dortmund

Serie A also returns this weekend, with Andrea Pirlo hoping to lead Juventus to a 10th straight league title. Who were the last club other than Juve to win the league?





The US Open is being played at Winged Foot Golf Club in New York this weekend. The course is seriously tough. When Hale Irwin won the US Open at the course in 1974, what did he shoot?

One over par

Three over par

Seven over par

Eleven over par

The German amateur football team SG Ripdorf were beaten 37-0 by their local rivals Holdenstedt this week. How did they explain the scoreline after the match?

They said they only played the game to bed in their new goalkeeper

They said they were socially distancing on the pitch

They said the defeat was a plea to their owners to spend some money on new players

They said they could not adjust to the tightness and colour of their new kit

Dominic Thiem won the US Open on Sunday. Which of these statements about his victory is true?

It was his first grand slam title

He became the first player to win a US Open title after being two sets down in the final

He became the first man born in the 1990s to win a grand slam singles title

All of the above

Mo Salah hit a hat-trick in Liverpool’s opening game of the season. Who was the last Liverpool player to do that?

Fernando Torres in 2008

Michael Owen in 1998

John Aldridge in 1988

Kenny Dalglish in 1978

1 and above.

Not ideal

2 and above.

Not ideal

3 and above.

Not bad

4 and above.

Not bad

5 and above.

Nice work

6 and above.

Great work

7 and above.


8 and above.


9 and above.


0 and above.

Not ideal

10 and above.


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» Football transfer rumours: Liverpool lead chase for Ismaïla Sarr?

Today’s tell-all is looking for the final piece of the jigsaw

Liverpool have come late to the gossip-peddlar’s party this year but, having snared Thiago Alcântara for £27m on Thursday, Jürgen Klopp has rediscovered his love of retail therapy, and is thinking of boosting his not inconsiderable attacking resources with Watford’s Ismaïla Sarr. He won’t come cheap though, with the newly relegated Championship club slapping a £36m price tag on the Senegalese winger. Liverpool may also face competition for Sarr from their old pals Manchester United too.

The world and his spouse have been linked with Old Trafford of late, mind, and another reported United target is 2014’s Sami Khedira. The Sun reports that the Germany midfielder, not thought to be in suave new boss Andrea Pirlo’s plans, is set to have his contract terminated early by Juventus and United head up the list of suitors. You’ll want a list of other names currently linked with United won’t you? OK, pick one or more from Ivan Perisic, Kingsley Coman and Douglas Costa.

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» The Fiver | A passion that drives Gareth Bale like a sweetly struck Titleist Pro

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If Gareth Bale had his way, he would have been firmly embedded at Jiangsu Suning by now, perhaps mastering Nankinese, exploring museums with wondrous collections of Ming and Qing imperial porcelain and straining every well-preserved sinew to get on the end of passes from Wu Xi, Yang Boyu and the rest of the lads. But nasty Real Madrid thwarted that dream more than a year ago and now Bale is on the hunt for a new gig. It’s a passion that drives him like a sweetly struck T!tleist Pro.

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» David Squires on … the Premier League returning with 2020 vision

Our cartoonist looks back at the opening weekend, including a thriller at Anfield and a troubling lack of Arsenal bantz

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» Which managers have had the longest breaks between spells at a club? | The Knowledge

Plus: multiple same-name scoring teammates, refs riding roughshod over rules, and an umbrella-holding goalscorer

“Eddie Niedzwiecki took temporary charge of Reading following the departure of Mark Bowen. Eddie was previously Reading’s caretaker manager way back in 1991. This means he went 29 years between matches as our manager. Is this a record?” asks Tom Brailli.

If we bend the rules a bit, it’s not. Here’s Chris Page: “I can beat that … sort of. But we’d have to count a spell as assistant manager. Former manager of Real Madrid and Brazil’s national team, Vanderlei Luxemburgo, has taken charge of just about every major team in Brazil over the last 40 years. One of his earliest roles was assistant manager of Vasco da Gama until he departed in 1982 before returning as full-time manager last year. That’s a whole 37 years between spells.

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» Women’s Super League: talking points from the weekend’s action | Rachel Brown-Finnis

The WSL is now the strongest league in the world, Chelsea are targeting Champions League and putting scorelines in context

The WSL has welcomed a dizzying array of talent in recent weeks, with Spurs’ addition of Alex Morgan the icing on the cake. I want to emphasise just how much it means to women’s football in England for players like Morgan, Tobin Heath, Christen Press, Rose Lavelle and Sam Mewis to have come over from the US. These women are superstars there, inside and outside the sport. That is partly because their brilliant national team gets such huge coverage, but mainly because they are such outstanding talents. The list of names is one I could never have imagined playing here, and when you add Pernille Harder then things look even better. She chose Chelsea when she could have gone anywhere, and it shows how top footballers view the WSL. It is now the best league in the world

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» Buy a classic sport photograph – Cantona bosses Liverpool

The latest in a Guardian Print Shop series featuring classic sports images. This week’s picture captures the joy of Leeds United beating Liverpool in a seven-goal Charity Shield thriller, on the eve of the first ever Premier League season

When Leeds United and Liverpool met in the Charity Shield in the curtain raiser for the inaugural Premier League season in 1992, Leeds were the reigning First Division champions and Liverpool, winners two years prior, were the FA Cup holders. Leeds arrived at Wembley boasting a formidable squad including the likes of Gary McAllister, John Lukic, Gordon Strachan, Gary Speed, Lee Chapman and Eric Cantona. The enigmatic Frenchman (pictured here) would guide Leeds to a 4-3 victory with a hat-trick, and weeks later would become the first player to score three in a single Premier League match. However, Leeds would ultimately lose Cantona to Manchester United in November that season – an irreconcilable loss – and limp to a 17th-place finish, only narrowly avoiding the drop; meanwhile, Liverpool would finish sixth and endure a further 27 years of domestic heartbreak before landing the big one last term. Now, these two rejuvenated titans will face one another in the league for the first time in 16 years, as the 2020/21 Premier League season gets underway.

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» Neville Southall: 'You don’t expect loose cannons to take over your own country'

Former Everton keeper takes aim at Boris Johnson and JK Rowling and reveals how helping marginalised groups leaves little time to himself

“I want Boris Johnson, Nigel Farage, Tommy Robinson, Donald Trump and the geezer from North Korea to be put on a boat that gets sent around the world for the next 25 years,” Neville Southall says as he sinks back into his chair. “That would do me,” he adds, with an endearingly sombre gaze after I’ve asked him how he would like to change the world for the better after a terrible year. It’s dark outside and Southall, the former Everton and Wales goalkeeper who is now one of the most outspoken supporters of people marginalised by mainstream society, briefly looks weary.

Southall has not stopped talking passionately for 70 minutes but he has had a long day. He left home at 5.45am so he could get to work early and, after a taxing day at his special‑needs school in Swansea, he still has to join an online LGBQT+ panel once we complete our interview. But Southall soon rolls on.

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» ‘Football should be an extended family’: the fans turning the tide on racism

As the Premier League kicks off, meet the supporters changing the face of the beautiful game

Manchester City’s 22 June match against Burnley – a brisk, 5-0 dismantling in the ghostly expanse of a spectator-free Etihad Stadium – will not go down as a vintage contest of the Covid-disrupted 2019/20 Premier League season. But it will, regardless, live on ignominiously in the memory. Shortly after the kick-off of a game that had begun with players, staff and officials taking a knee in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement, the whirr of a light aircraft was heard overhead. Eyes went up. And there it was: a chartered plane towing a banner that read: “WHITE LIVES MATTER BURNLEY”.

The public outcry was swift (Burnley promised lifetime bans for those involved; the alleged key organiser, Jake Hepple, was sacked by the engineering company he worked for). But for those who have been paying attention to the atmosphere around domestic football in recent years – a climate that has seen a Brighton supporter jailed for eight weeks after screaming racist obscenities during a Tottenham game; and an FA Cup fourth round qualifier abandoned because Yeovil Town fans were hurling slurs and objects at Haringey Borough’s black players – this incident was both wholly shocking and grimly predictable.

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» Jeff Stelling: 'I did think about resigning but all three urged me not to do anything silly'

Sky’s Soccer Saturday host on sackings, saving someone’s life without knowing it and changing his views on female pundits

“It’s been a difficult few weeks because it would be like I’ve lost the entire midfield just before the start of the season,” Jeff Stelling says as, in a deserted pub in Winchester, I compare him to a football manager. The usual giddy optimism of a new season is missing for Stelling as he starts his 22nd year of hosting a bizarre but cherished Saturday afternoon programme in which he barks out scores across the English and Scottish leagues while four former footballers in the Sky studio watch games on television monitors we cannot see. A seemingly ludicrous concept has worked seamlessly ever since Stelling helped launch Soccer Saturday in 1998 – four years after he joined Sky’s Sports Saturday programme.

This Saturday will not be the same. Three of Stelling’s four closest colleagues have been axed from the show and the 65-year-old host, whose good cheer and smooth professionalism provide the bedrock on which Soccer Saturday has built its popularity, still seems hurt and perplexed. Phil Thompson, Charlie Nicholas and Matt Le Tissier were told last month they were no longer wanted by Sky.

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» A Zoom with Mrs Ranieri and Roy Keane's Doc Brown hair – lockdown behind the mic | Kelly Cates

Kelly Cates on pundit wrangling, the challenge of broadcasting during a pandemic, and why she can’t wait to get back to work

I love that this season is starting in September. It’s always felt like the best time for a fresh start, to coincide with the change of seasons and the new school year. I’ve already stocked up on stationery for work and have a rainbow of coloured pens and highlighters. I much prefer to work off paper and find that the information filters through better if I write it down, but it usually ends up on an iPad for practical reasons. Sadly, evolution hasn’t yet caught up with my need for more than two hands to hold a microphone, steady a strong-willed umbrella in a gale, balance a sheaf of papers and still retain the capacity to handle the microphones thrust at me by departing players and managers.

The first live game back for me is at Anfield for Liverpool v Leeds. I can’t think of an opening-day fixture where the absence of fans is going to be felt more keenly. There’s a school of thought that the historic old grounds are never really empty. That they hold the energies of past atmospheres and ghosts of previous games and while that description suits my overly romantic nature and may well have an element of truth when completely unoccupied, I can tell you that on a Covid matchday, it’s a load of rubbish.

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» Next Generation 2019: 60 of the best young talents in world football

Eidur Gudjohnsen’s son, the new Paul Pogba and Barça’s Ansu Fati are among our 60 most talented players in the world born in 2002. Check the progress of our 2018 picks | 2017 | 2016 | 2015 | 2014

Photographs by DZfoot, BackpagePix, Club Atlético Belgrano, EFE, EPA, Getty Images, Uwe Gruen/Hoffenheim, AMA/Getty Images, Rex/Shutterstock, Zuma Press/PA, FIFA, Tigres, Damir Krajac/CROPIX, Alamy, Daniel Reyes/Ecuafutbol, Reuters, Atromitos, Imago/PA, fotoBERNAMA, New Straits Times, José Alonso Paredes Sánchez, Agencja Gazeta, David Price/Arsenal FC/Getty, AP, Asian Football Confederation, Danubio FC and Championat Asia

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» Next Generation 2019: 20 of the best talents at Premier League clubs

The Guardian selects the best young players at each club born between 1 September 2002 and 31 August 2003, an age band known as first-year scholars. Check the progress of class of 2018 | 2017 | 2016 | 2015 | 2014

Photographs by David Price/Arsenal/Getty Images, Neville Williams/Aston Villa/Getty Images, AFC Bournemouth, Paul Hazlewood/BHAFC, Paul Dennis/TGS/Shutterstock, Clive Howes/Chelsea/Getty Images, Danny Loo/PPAUK, Emma Simpson/Everton/Getty Images, Nick Taylor/Liverpool/Getty Images, Manchester City/Getty Images, Ash Donelon/Manchester United/Getty Images, Jason Dawson/Jasonpix, James Wilson/Sportimage, Simon Bellis/Sportimage, Robin Jones/Digital South/Southampton FC, Tottenham Hotspur/Getty Images, Alan Cozzi/Watford, Arfa Griffiths/West Ham United and Sam Bagnall/AMA

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» Next Generation: after five years, how has our first full class of picks fared?

From Rashford to Tielemans, we check in on how our initial Next Generation players have got on before the 2019 ones are announced this week

In 2014 we decided that it would be interesting to pick the best young players from each Premier League club – as well as 40 from around the world – and follow them for five years to see how they progressed.

The idea was to try to get a sense of how difficult it is to become a professional footballer despite being one of the best in that country at the age of 16 or 17.

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