Luis Diaz held West Ham talks before Liverpool transfer

West Ham boss David Moyes has revealed that he held talks with Luis Diaz prior to the Colombian’s move to Liverpool last month.

The Hammers failed to strengthen their squad in the January window despite Moyes’ pleas, and 90min revealed that the club failed with late approaches for Leeds duo Raphinha and Kalvin Phillips.

But before West Ham turned their attentions to them, they had their eyes set firmly on Diaz – who also held discussions with Tottenham and ultimately opted on a transfer to Liverpool, settling in seamlessly at Anfield in the last month.

“I spoke to Luis Diaz on the phone, we were quite far down the line to sign him from Porto,” Moyes tol his latest press conference. “My understanding was that Liverpool planned to come in in the summer, so we thought we’d try and get him in January. I don’t know if that affected Liverpool’s decision, but he’s a really good player and we didn’t get him.

“Our ambitions are to sign the best players we can to try to improve West Ham. I want to make us better, I don’t want it to be mediocre if I can help it. Sometimes, you just need to be patient, hope we get the right things at the right time, and that’s the way I’ve chosen to make my decisions here rather than bring in people who maybe don’t right fit the bill.”

A run of one Premier League win in their last five games has threatened to derail West Ham’s bid for a top-four finish, slipping to sixth in the table.

But Moyes insists that his side simply haven’t had the rub of the green so far this season and is optimistic about their chances of ending the season strongly.

“I’m not giving up on being in and around the top,” he added. “We’ve been in the top four positions on two periods this season, we’ve dropped out, and our plan is to get back into it a third time and stay there. But we’ve got to find the best squad to get that. We’ve not been on our best form, but we’ve been resilient, dug in, tried to keep going.

“A couple of things haven’t quite gone our way, we’d like to see more goals from Michail Antonio, more goals from Tomas Soucek, it would be important to us, but it’s not our goal scoring issues which have been a problem, it’s been conceding goals. We’ve been without Angelo Ogbonna and Kurt Zouma for a long period.

“Trying to get the balance right every game, be ready and be the best we can hasn’t always been easy, but I think resilience, stick at it, don’t give up, keep challenging the top teams, we’ve got big games to come, we’re in two cup competitions – I do think it’s a good time for West Ham.”

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Marcus Rashford challenged to find best form by emulating Jadon Sancho

Ralf Rangnick has challenged Manchester United forward Marcus Rashford to draw inspiration from Jadon Sancho as he battles through a period of poor form.

The 24-year-old has found the back of the net just five times in 22 appearances in all competitions this season, a far cry from the goalscoring form he showed for United over the past few years.

Rashford has struggled with injuries over the past 12 months, but has looked well off the pace in recent weeks despite being fully fit.

On Wednesday, he watched on as Anthony Elanga replaced him to score the equalising goal in United’s 1-1 draw with Atletico Madrid in the Champions League, with his work rate and body language criticised after the game.

Speaking to the press before United’s game with Watford at Old Trafford, Rangnick admitted his hope that Rashford could follow in the footsteps of Sancho, who is beginning to show what he can do after a slow start to life in the North West.

“We had a very similar situation as I can remember with Jadon six or seven weeks ago,” Rangnick said. “He is the best example of what can happen. Again it’s the player himself who has to perform and get the best out of his own performance and this is the same with Marcus.”

On whether playing on the right wing had affected Rashford’s form, he continued: “For me this is not the major issue. They can play on the left or right side.

“It’s about how proactive they play and in the first half against Atletico we were far too static and predictable and we made things far too easy for them to defend. We just have to be active, proactive and always on the move, make it hard for the other team to defend ourselves and this has nothing to do with if Marcus is playing on the left or right hand side.”

The German also confirmed that United are helping Rashford with regular conversation and video analysis in a bid to help him turn things around.

“Right now he is trying to find his best possible shape and performance and we just try to give him helping hands with everything we can,” Rangnick admitted. “We show him video footage, we speak with him regularly, in training he is in top form. That is why I decided to play him [against Atletico].

“Now it’s about having that transformation from training performance to the competition in the league and this is the next step he has to take. He is definitely not injured. He definitely has no issues with his shoulder any more. I have personally spoken a lot with him.”

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Jurgen Klopp hails Liverpool achievements during ‘draining’ 2020/21 season

Jurgen Klopp has said what Liverpool achieved during the 2020/21 season was “incredible” after a raft of injuries left the club essentially finishing the campaign “on three wheels”.

The Reds went into the largely behind-closed-doors season as Premier League champions but struggled all year long, particularly on the injury front.

They managed to salvage a Champions League place on the final day of the campaign, finishing with a respectable third-place finish, and Klopp insisted that his side in particular missed the impact of having fans at games.

“When you don’t have it, you realise. The atmosphere, for example. Sometimes it is not that good in a stadium. That doesn’t really happen for us, but if it is the case you think, ‘Why was it like that?’” Klopp told The Times in an interview.

“But if you have [had] no atmosphere, you take each atmosphere [even if it’s not that good]. In some moments, it was the hardest time of our lives – at least our football lives – because you are still Liverpool but with half-cut wings. You try to fly but it is pretty difficult.

“I am an emotional coach, we are an emotional team, we are an emotional club. We are not like a little bit here, a little bit there. We need this extra bit. That was obviously not there and it was not helpful in the most difficult situation we had. Injury-wise, it was absolutely crazy.”

Klopp went on to hail Liverpool’s third-place standing as an ‘incredible’ achievement due to the intensity of last season as well as the injuries they had to overcome.

“That is why I always say, after winning the Premier League [in 2019/20], winning the Champions League [in 2019], winning other cup competitions, finishing third last season comes next pretty quickly because that was incredible how we did that in the end. We were pretty much on three wheels, getting somehow over the line,” he added.

“It was an incredibly intense season and, yes, I was more than happy for a holiday. For the first ten days, I didn’t take out the phone one time, or whatever, and ask, ‘Could we have this player?’ I couldn’t have cared less at that moment.

“Why should managers be different [from other people]? But for all of us it was the same. We were all really drained. Just finished. Done.

“I never thought more about football – and I think a lot about football – than in this period. That was really tough, while everyone was talking about the former champions and now the worst-ever defending champions.”

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Thomas Tuchel admits to ‘many uncertainties’ at Chelsea over Roman Abramovich sanction calls

Thomas Tuchel has admitted that calls in Parliament for sanctions against Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich, in light of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, has caused “many uncertainties” at the club.

The German is preparing his side to take on Liverpool in the Carabao Cup final at Wembley on Sunday, where he hopes to win a third trophy of his year-long tenure having already scooped the Champions League and Club World Cup.

But speaking to the media on Friday, Tuchel admitted that the conflict involving Russia and Ukraine had been “worrying” and “distracting” for his players, with scrutiny increasing on Abramovich, who has owned Chelsea since 2003, by the day.

The 55-year-old is yet to face sanctions from the Government, but Tuchel admitted that it has been difficult to concentrate on football matters with Abramovich’s name frequently brought up in the House of Commons.

“There are so many uncertainties around the situation of our club and of the situation in the UK with scenarios like this that it makes no sense if I comment on it,” Tuchel said. “We are aware of it, [but] we do not have as much inside information as you think.

“I am aware of all these scenarios and I am aware of all these discussions. I would love to take my right not to comment on this until there is a decision made. But we are aware of it and it’s distracting us, it’s worrying us.

“To a certain degree, I can understand it to such a degree, the opinions and the critical opinions towards the club, towards us who represent that club. I can understand that and we cannot fully free ourselves from it.

“Maybe people understand that me as a coach or the players, we don’t have the insight about what is really going on. At the moment, we don’t feel responsible for all this. We feel that it is horrible and there can be no doubt about it. War in Europe was unthinkable for me for a long period.

“The impact is clear and the discussions have an impact. Let’s be a bit more patient and understand what the measures will be and then we have to maybe deal with it.”

On whether it was possible to solely focus on football, Tuchel continued: “I think you can’t. I think the situation is too big and it is not an isolated situation somewhere. It concerns Europe, it’s in Europe and we are part of Europe. We cannot say let’s put this to the side. It’s the opposite. We have to live with it right now. There is no running away from it.

“There is no shutting the doors and now we focus on football. We are still privileged to live in peace and freedom right here where we are right now.

“And we are still privileged to have a game of football, to have an emotional but peaceful environment with fans in the stadium. We are very, very, very privileged, so this is a hardcore reality check right now. How privileged we are. And I don’t think this will go away, that my mind is clouded. It will not go away for anybody. The issue is too big.”

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Transfer rumours: PSG want Kante, Kane could force Spurs exit

Paris Saint-Germain could make an approach for N’Golo Kante this summer as he prepares to enter the final year of his contract at Chelsea.

Harry Kane will attempt to force an exit from Tottenham once again if head coach Antonio Conte prematurely leaves the club.

Arsenal remain interested in Sweden striker Alexander Isak, but are unwilling to meet his £75m release clause set by Real Sociedad and are hoping to lower that figure.

Lille forward Jonathan David, whose representatives have been in discussions with Newcastle over a possible move, is also on Arsenal‘s radar.

Manchester United could step up their interest in Chelsea centre-back Antonio Rudiger, who is out of contract in the summer, as defensive woes continue to threaten to derail their season.

Former Manchester City wing-back Angelino, now at RB Leipzig, is attracting attention from Arsenal, Barcelona and Spurs.

Andreas Christensen is not keen on joining another Premier League club should he leave Chelsea at the end of his contract this summer. Barcelona and Bayern Munich are leading the chase to sign the Dane on a free transfer.

Aston Villa will be open to offers for centre-back Ezri Konsa this summer, with Liverpool tentatively touted with an interest in the past.

Arsenal will open contract talks with highly-rated defender William Saliba upon the completion of his loan this summer, with the likes of West Ham and Real Madrid linked with a permanent move recently.

Patrick Vieira has insisted that while Chelsea loanee Conor Gallagher is very happy at Crystal Palace, he would not be drawn on speculation that the Eagles could try to keep the midfielder beyond the summer.

David Moyes has revealed that West Ham held talks with Luis Diaz in January prior to the Colombian’s move to Liverpool late in the window.

Tammy Abraham would like to return to Chelsea in the future having left the club for Roma in the summer of 2021.

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