According to reports coming from Portugal over the course of the weekend, Tottenham are beginning to close in on their opening signing of the summer as they look to replace Kyle Walker.
Record claim that highly-rated Hoffenheim and Germany Under-21 right-back Jeremy Toljan is growing closer to a White Hart Lane switch as Mauricio Pochettino looks to re-enforce his defence.
The 22-year-old only has one year left on his current contract at the Bundesliga side, who were a surprise package last season, and it’s thought that Tottenham have suitable financial capabilities.
Would the Germany Under-21 man be the right fit?
Regardless of the fact that England international Kieran Trippier penned a new five-year contract extension just last week, there’s still a lingering feeling that Tottenham need to invest at right-back.
Toljan, at just 22, is one of the hottest prospects on the European market since bursting onto the scene at Hoffenheim four years ago, and last year he established a regular first-team status.
20 Bundesliga appearances last season helped Hoffenheim on their way to going a whole year unbeaten at home, eventually finishing fourth, and he created just under a chance per game in a stand-out year.
The big selling point as far as Pochettino is concerned is that Toljan is comfortable as either a traditional right-back or as a wing-back, meaning he could slot into Tottenham’s experimental three-man defensive system well, while he can also play either centrally or on the left-side either.
With a big void left after the exit of Walker whoever replaces him will need to be able to add a similar level of attacking intent to the north London side, and Toljan can certainly contribute this.
His speed – on and off the ball – allied with his directness and desire to break into the opposition territory can be a real weapon in the Premier League, particularly considering the amount of space that he would be awarded on the big Wembley Stadium pitch that Tottenham will be calling home.
And, although there are question marks over whether the Bundesliga is as competitive as the Premier League, he has just returned from a very impressive European Championship campaign.
Playing on the right-side of Germany’s Under-21 team, he helped them overcome England on penalties in the semi-finals before battling past Spain in the final, catching the eye along the way.
However, although Tottenham were touted just yesterday as the main contenders, fresh reports from Record on Monday have claimed that Turkish outfit Galatasaray have stolen a march for him.
“Liverpool can’t be underestimated” – Three things learnt from Liverpool 4-1 Hoffenheim
Liverpool faced a tough draw when pitted against Bundesliga side Hoffenheim for their Champions League qualifier. A 2-1 victory in the first leg, Hoffenheim’s first home defeat in 15 months, was a good start, but Liverpool assured their place in the group stages with a superb display at Anfield.
Emre Can scored a brace and Mohamed Salah pounced on a shot off the woodwork to see Liverpool race to a 3-0 lead within 21 minutes, and even though the Germans fought back after some poor defending to score two, Roberto Firmino’s fourth goal put the tie to bed.
Here is what The Boot Room learnt from the game…
Liverpool cannot be underestimated
The Reds’ defensive troubles had led some to doubt whether a 2-1 first leg win would be enough to give them a comfortable cushion to progress into the group stages of the Champions League. However, their attacking play in the first 20 minutes was as good as you will find anywhere in Europe’s elite competition this season.
Their pressing, desire and pace in attack was simply too much for the Germans to handle and despite being arguably the toughest draw Liverpool could have faced in their qualifier, they made it look like easy work. There were signs of weaknesses defensively in the second half, but any side should underestimate Liverpool at their own peril.
Sadio Mane is Liverpool’s best player, forget Philippe Coutinho
With Philippe Coutinho now sat out through illness, alongside a back injury, as Barcelona continue to push to sign the Brazilian, Sadio Mane has showed his value to the side. Despite missing the start of pre-season due to a knee injury, the Senegalese star was the star of the show for the Reds.
His pace, direct running and creativity was a real threat and Hoffenheim didn’t quite know how to react. Setting up Emre Can and being involved in Mohamed Salah’s strike, everything came down the left hand side and through Mane.
Dejan Lovren is not the centre back that Liverpool need
The Croatian was woeful in a display where pretty much every other Liverpool player shined. Gifting possession to Hoffenheim in the build up to their first goal, he was then beaten in the air for them to score a second and keep a very faint hope of a comeback alive in the closing moments.
Jurgen Klopp has seemed to hint that he is not on the look out for another defender, but if Lovren struggles this much against Germany’s fourth best team, it’s a terrifying thought to imagine how he would handle the threat of the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo or Lionel Messi.
Liverpool vs Hoffenheim: Champions League match preview, likely line-ups and score prediction
Liverpool head into the second leg of their Champions League qualifier against Hoffenheim knowing that anything other than defeat will see them through to the group stages of Europe’s elite competition. First, they must overcome their German opposition after a 2-1 win in the first leg of the qualifier.
Liverpool have had a mixed start to the season but finally seem to be finding some rhythm with two wins on the bounce since an opening day draw with Watford. The weekend’s win over Crystal Palace was key in nature due to a rare clean sheet which will provide a major confidence boost at Anfield.
Hoffenheim also recorded a 1-0 win at the weekend as they saw off Werder Bremen in the first game of their domestic campaign. They will be out for revenge having lost their first home game in over 15 months to Jurgen Klopp’s side in the first leg last Tuesday night.
Liverpool are unlikely to make many changes from the side which won the first leg, with many key players having been rested at the weekend. Andrew Robertson’s very impressive debut could have earned him the chance to replace Alberto Moreno at left back, and James Milner could come into contention in place of Jordan Henderson in midfield.
Hoffenheim look set to field a very similar line-up to the first leg too, particularly after resting several key players for their win at the weekend. Haavard Nordtveit might hope to start despite scoring an own goal as a substitute in the first leg.
Philippe Coutinho is unavailable for Liverpool as he is yet to re-join first team training due to a back injury which has kept him out for the start of the season. Nathaniel Clyne has also been ruled out with ongoing fitness issues whilst Adam Lallana will do well to make it back to regular football before Christmas.
Florian Grillitsch’s foot injury is the only real doubt for the Germans, with Serge Gnabry likely to play despite illness which saw him rested for their opening game of the Bundesliga season at the weekend.
Match prediction: Liverpool 2-1 Hoffenheim (4-2 on aggregate)
Liverpool may struggle to keep clean sheets, and with the Germans going all out in attack they will be under intense pressure. However, the first leg showed that their attacking power was far superior and they should have enough to get through to the group stages.
“Trent Alexander-Arnold is the real deal” – Three things learnt from Hoffenheim 1-2 Liverpool
Liverpool went into their Champions League qualifier knowing that they would be facing a side unbeaten at home since May 2016, but they broke that record and ended Hoffenheim’s unbeaten run in style.
With two crucial away goals, teenager Trent Alexander-Arnold opened the scoring with a brilliant free-kick from distance. James Milner added a second with a cross deflected off former West Ham man Haavard Nordtveit.
Both goals came after Simon Mignolet made a smart penalty save from Andrej Kramaric, but the Germans did get through eventually as Mark Uth’s late rifled shot gave the Champions League debutants a faint hope of a comeback at Anfield.
Here is what The Boot Room has learnt from the tie…
Trent Alexander-Arnold is the real deal
Stepping in to Nathaniel Clyne’s boots with the first choice missing the start of the season through injury, the teenager has proven himself to be a capable deputy. His first half display was one of real quality making him stand out from every other player on the field, despite it being his European debut.
The highlight was his 25 yard free-kick which looped over the wall and into the bottom corner of the net. For an 18-year-old to take a free-kick from that range in Europe away from home is a brave move, and he certainly produced the goods to justify his decision.
Jordan Henderson isn’t the solution
Deployed in the holding midfield role, the Reds’ captain once again looked unconvincing. Henderson appeared reluctant and nervous, perhaps because of his poor luck with injuries of late, but he did not seem comfortable in a deeper role where every sloppy mistake in possession proved costly.
James Milner replaced him early in the second half and had a far greater impact, with Emre Can looking far more at home in a holding midfield role. Henderson may wear the captains’ armband but he cannot assume that it is enough to protect his place in the starting line-up.
Liverpool are clear favourites to progress
With two away goals compared to Hoffenheim’s late goal, the Germans will need to score at least twice without reply in order to beat the Reds at Anfield. That is a big ask given that Liverpoool could really have been out of sight by the time that the full time whistle blew in Germany.
Liverpool will be cursing themselves for failing to keep a clean sheet or add another goal to their tally, given that they had the opportunities to do both, but will be confident ahead of the second leg next Wednesday.
Are Chelsea finally going to see the best of Alvaro Morata?
Sessegnon or Bale? Past or future? Spurs must make right move this summer
Amadou Haidara released by Leeds United, bringing an end to bizarre transfer chapter
Ryan Sessegnon should look at Tottenham pair and make switch
Jack Wilshere’s Everton arrival would surely spell the end for Morgan Schneiderlin?
Tottenham Hotspur3 weeks ago
Tottenham Hotspur must push Toby Alderweireld toward Barcelona
Liverpool3 weeks ago
Jurgen Klopp’s brave January decision is playing off thanks to Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain
Brentford4 weeks ago
Romaine Sawyers – Blossoming in the Championship with play-off contenders Brentford
Liverpool3 weeks ago
Mohamed Salah: Is Liverpool’s Egyptian star the best player in the world right now?
English Premier League2 weeks ago
Liverpool 2-0 Newcastle United: Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain growing into role under Jurgen Klopp
Chelsea2 days ago
Are Chelsea finally going to see the best of Alvaro Morata?
Liverpool3 weeks ago
Liverpool’s Trent Alexander-Arnold finds himself at the centre of Jurgen Klopp’s plans
Arsenal3 weeks ago
Arsenal 0-3 Manchester City: Three talking points from Wembley