EFL Cup: Southampton will host Wolves in second round

Published by:

Southampton, the runners-up of the EFL Cup last season, will meet Wolves in the second round of the tournament following a live draw that had been in disarray.

Southampton had been headed towards the end of a 7-year title drought before being stopped short by Manchester United in the final last season.

But as the EFL Cup renews with the new season, the live draw which took place in the Sky Sports studios by Alex McLeish and John Salako, alongside the host Julian Warren, left many confused as four second-round matches were announced with the incorrect team away from home.

Initially, the draw was to select seeded teams, followed by whether they would be at home or away and then finally, their opposition. However, it was not until after Salako said Norwich would be away to Charlton that he appeared to realise the previous matches had been drawn the wrong way around.

Following the adjustment, it was decided that Newcastle will host Nottingham Forest, with Bournemouth and Leicester City playing away to Birmingham and Sheffield United respectively, among six ties with Premier League sides facing Championship opposition. Another seven Premier League teams involved in European competition will enter at round three.

Second round draw – South section
QPR v Brentford
Crystal Palace v Ipswich Town
Watford v Bristol City
Norwich City v Charlton Athletic
Cheltenham Town v West Ham United
Brighton & Hove Albion v Barnet
Cardiff City v Burton Albion
Southampton v Wolverhampton Wanderers
Fulham v Bristol Rovers
Milton Keynes Dons v Swansea City
Birmingham City v Bournemouth
Reading v Millwall

North section
Carlisle United v Sunderland
Bolton Wanderers v Sheffield Wednesday
Accrington Stanley v West Bromwich Albion
Newcastle United v Nottingham Forest
Leeds United v Newport County**
Stoke City v Rochdale
Huddersfield Town v Rotherham United
Middlesbrough v Scunthorpe United
Doncaster Rovers v Hull City
Blackburn Rovers v Burnley
Sheffield United v Leicester City
Aston Villa v Wigan Athletic
Barnsley v Derby County or Grimsby Town

Borussia Dortmund reject €100m offer for Ousmane Dembele from Barca

Published by:

Borussia Dortmund has told FC Barcelona that they will not be selling their French forward Ousmane Dembele despite a €100m offer from the La Liga giants.

Dortmund have said that the France forward is “unlikely” to move to Spain unless they receive an improved offer, with a statement from the German club confirmed the offer — understood to be €100m — had been rejected.

Negotiations is understood to have taken place for days but Dortmund has been insistent that they will not accept less than €150m for the player they signed from Rennes last summer for a 10th of that cost.

“There has been a discussion with Barcelona in regards to a possible transfer of Ousmane Dembele,” the statement, which was released to the German stock exchange, read.

“In these talks Barcelona have presented an offer that does not match the extraordinary footballing and otherwise status of the player and also not the current market situation.”

“BVB have turned this offer down, and as there is no other offer from Barcelona a transfer should not be expected and is at this moment in time unlikely,” it concluded.

Dembele, 20, was also fined and suspended after he missed a training session on Thursday. It was also understood that he had returned to his native France in the evening on the same day to visit friends and family, while waiting news as the clubs continue to negotiate the fee.

“Ousmane Dembele missed training without notifying the club and has clearly taken this action consciously. We will obviously sanction him for this,” Dortmund sporting director Michael Zorc said. “We have also suspended the player until after the cup game at the weekend.”

Virgil van Dijk submits transfer request after Southampton “insults”

Published by:

Dutch international Virgil van Dijk has submitted a transfer request in a bid to leave the Premier League club.

Van Dijk, 26, is highly rated and has plenty of suitors over the summer, but saw one move to Liverpool collapsed after Southampton reported the Merseyside club to the Premier League for an alleged illegal approach to the player.

Liverpool were subsequently forced into an apology. Additionally, in a bid to defuse the situation, Jurgen Klopp’s team also promised that they would refrain from any pursuits towards the former Celtic player, thereby placating Southampton authorities.

However, van Dijk became unsettled with the Saints after club coach Mauricio Pellegrino revealing that the player had been training alone and was not in the right frame of mind to play for Southampton.

Even as the club continuously insists that the Holland international is not for sale, Van Dijk has now made it plain he wishes to leave, saying that he felt “insulted” by suggestions he has refused to train.

A statement from Van Dijk read: “It is with regret I can confirm I have today handed in a transfer request to leave Southampton.”

“I have been left frustrated by the club’s position that I am not for sale and am disappointed inquiries from multiple top clubs have been consistently rebuffed.”

“The period of time that I have just spent injured and unable to play has put a number of things into perspective and made me realise just how important it is to take major opportunities should they arise. I have consistently relayed my feelings to senior management in what I believed to be private and personal conversations.”

“Disappointingly these conversations have regularly found their way into the media. I would also like to make clear that I have never once refused to train. As a proud professional I am insulted by the suggestion that it was me who refused to train and so feel it is important to point out the true version of events.

“However, the time for me to move on is now and I hope to be able to work with the club to find the best resolution to suit all parties.”

Liverpool were willing to pay a world-record sum for a defender — around £60m — to win the race for Van Dijk, although it remains to be seen whether Liverpool will now return for their No.1 summer transfer target.

Southampton completes club record deal for Juve’s Mario Lemina

Published by:

Southampton have signed Juventus midfielder Mario Lemina in a club record deal worth up to 20 million Euros on a five-year deal.

Lemina, 23, made 42 appearances for Juve in two seasons after joining the Serie A champions on loan from Marseille in 2015 before a £7.5m move last summer. In that period, he won a brace of Serie A and Coppa titles with Juve, and played in last season’s Champions League final against Real Madrid.

As Saints coach Mauricio Pellegrino’s second signing of the summer, Lemina will cost the club an initial £15.4m with the rest depending on his success.

While it remains that the fee could still inflate, it is slightly less than the previous record fee the Saints paid for attacking midfielder Sofiane Boufal, who joined from French side Lille for £16m in August 2016.

Still, club vice-chairman Les Reed believed that the deal was a “significant statement of intent” for the South Coast club.

“Mario is an outstanding talent who has already achieved a great deal in his career, winning a number of titles and gaining experience of playing on some of the biggest stages in world football,” Reed said.

“Investing in a player of Mario’s quality and buying from a club like Juventus is a significant statement of intent from the club and this is a purchase that has set another club-record fee.”

“Mario still has his best years ahead of him and we believe he will not only be an excellent acquisition for us in the immediate future but that he will also be able to realise even more of his potential here in the years to come.”