Chelsea boss Mauricio Pochettino has called up 14-year-old Charlie Holland to train with the senior team as the Blues get ready for their upcoming clash with Crystal Palace.
They travel to Selhurst Park on Monday night and have been helped in their preparations by a very talented young player.
Youth team captain Holland was spotted in first-team training jostling for position with Carney Chukwuemeka as a reward for his inspiring performances inside the Cobham academy. Age has never been a barrier for Pochettino, who has been tasked with nurturing a very young Chelsea squad this season.
That now includes Holland, who trained alongside the likes of Thiago Silva despite being 25 years younger than the Brazilian defender. However, it is not the first time that he has worked with the senior group, having also done so last season.
When Frank Lampard was in caretaker charge last May, Holland was a surprise inclusion in training ahead of their match with Nottingham Forest. He earned that call-up after captaining Chelsea’s Under-14s to victory at the Albert Phelan Cup South, thanks to a 5-0 win over Fulham in the final.
Holland’s efforts in that cup prompted the club’s senior decision-makers to promote him to the first team for a day of training. He must have made a positive impression to be called back to work with the first team once again, but this time under a new head coach.
It is unlikely that he will have any involvement at Crystal Palace but Holland is clearly a talent that Chelsea believe is in line for a very bright future. Typically Under-21s or Under-18s get promoted to the first team, especially if there are a large number of senior players unavailable, but instead Holland has been given that opportunity.
Arsenal defender Marquinhos is set to return to Brazil for a loan spell with Fluminense, Fabrizio Romano reports.
The 20-year-old signed from Sao Paulo in 2022 in a £3m deal but, after only starting three cup games in the first half of last season, he was loaned to Championship side Norwich City for the remainder of that campaign and then French club Nantes last summer.
After seven Ligue appearances for Nantes (only one of them a start), Marquinhos was recalled from his loan last month just before joining up with Brazil’s U23 squad for the CONMEBOL Pre-Olympic Tournament in Venezuela.
Now he is set to continue playing in South America for Fluminense, who are preparing the paperwork for the move to be completed.
Liverpool will reportedly face fierce competition from Barcelona for Bayer Leverkusen boss Xabi Alonso in the summer.
The Spaniard is the strong favourite to replace Jurgen Klopp at Anfield but is also wanted by several other high-profile European clubs, including AC Milan and now also Barca.
It is claimed that Barca are scouring Germany for their next head coach, with Xavi Hernandez announcing that he, like Klopp, will step down at the end of the season. Alonso is considered ‘very popular’ among the Barca board.
Hansi Flick, Thomas Tuchel, Julian Nagelsmann and Klopp himself have also reportedly been discussed among key figures at the Nou Camp. Alonso, though, is considered the ‘dream’ appointment, Spanish publication Sport claim.
The former midfielder has guided Bayer Leverkusen to the top of the Bundesliga without losing a game. His side comprehensively defeated serial champions Bayern Munich 3-0 on Saturday night to take control of the title race. It was the performance of a team who are exceptionally well coached.
Links with La Liga giants Barca are not without merit. Alonso’s father, Periko, made over 50 league appearances for the club in the 1980s. Alonso spent some of his formative years in Catalonia during his father’s playing career.
Alonso played for Barca’s arch-rivals Real Madrid. The report claims the Catalans think they would be getting one over Los Blancos by appointing the former midfielder, who has been tipped to manage at the Bernabeu one day.
Alonso might be more enticed by the Liverpool job because of financial issues being experienced by Barca.
The 42-year-old has been strongly linked with a return to Anfield, where he made 210 appearances between 2004 and 2010. He became a fans’ favourite and scored in the triumphant 2005 Champions League final.
Real Madrid, meanwhile, are unlikely to be looking for a new manager any time soon with Carlo Ancelotti overcoming a difficult start to the season and signing a new long-term contract. Los Blancos are five points clear at the top of La Liga after a 4-0 thumping of surprise title challengers Girona.
Eddie Beach, the young Chelsea goalkeeper, has been ruled out of action for four weeks through illness, according to football.london.
The 20-year-old shot-stopper is currently on loan at National League side Gateshead but is now set for a spell on the sidelines.
Beach signed for The Heed in the January transfer window after fellow academy goalkeeper Ted Curd was recalled from his loan spell at Hashtag United.
Since his move to the north east, Beach has featured four times for Gateshead in the National League, where he has kept one clean sheet.
The Welshman, who signed for Chelsea in the summer of 2022 from Southampton, has been ill recently, though, and is now expected to be missing for The Heed for up to a month. Beach is rated highly by those at Chelsea, who were keen to keep him in and around the first-team squad for the first half of the season.
The plan was to always revisit his situation in the January transfer window and the Blues felt a loan move would be best for the Wales Under-21 international’s development.
In an exclusive interview withfootball.london last year, Beach spoke about how he has grown as a goalkeeper since he has been at Chelsea and making the most of the club’s facilities and expertise in his position.
“I’ve progressed massively,” he said. “The coaches at Chelsea are unreal; they look and identify things I had not even thought of before.
“That focus and me working one-on-one with the coaches, I’ve improved so much technically in four months. At the same time, I had lots of minutes for the Under-21s, which is such a talented team, and working with the first-team goalkeepers has been incredible. They are role models for me and being so close to the top, it does make you want it more.”
Manchester City may be without defender Josko Gvardiol and midfielder Mateo Kovacic for their Champions League match against FC Copenhagen, as both were missing from Monday’s open training session.
Kovacic was not part of City’s squad that won 2-0 against Everton at Etihad Stadium on Saturday, while Gvardiol was an unused substitute. Both players were not part of the group that trained on Monday ahead of Tuesday night’s round of 16 clash against the Denmark side.
It’s unclear how long both players will be out for, although any injury is a blow to City as they are currently embroiled in a Premier League title fight with Arsenal and Liverpool. Sergio Gomez also looked to be absent from the session.
Man City are favourites to win against FC Copenhagen on Tuesday, despite a goalless draw at the Parken Stadium in the group stage last season. “They had a group against Bayern Munich, against United, against Galatasaray, they go through one of the toughest groups,” said Guardiola.
“Manuel [Akanji] suffered the lack of rhythm and John [Stones] a bit, second half they felt better. When they move inside last season was incredible, now it is not so fluid. Why? They were injured and when you are injured you don’t have the rhythm you need.
“How they run, how they train every day, how they compete, it is still there. We won all the games in the Champions League. The team I have the feeling they still want it and as much as we want it, it will be a problem for the opponents.”