The most expensive goalkeepers in world football before Alisson Becker
LOS ANGELES -- Jose Mourinho admitted he is "worried" about Manchester United's start of the season because so many of his players had long World Cups.
The United manager has brought a threadbare squad to the United States for their preseason tour with a number of players on holiday following the tournament in Russia.
Seven first-team players including Paul Pogba and Romelu Lukaku reached at least the semifinals and are set to miss the start of the season after the club granted them three-week breaks.
After the five-game tour of the U.S. and a friendly against Bayern Munich in Germany, United kick-off the new campaign against Leicester City at Old Trafford on Aug. 9.
"I'm worried because I'm not training and then I go to the Premier League without lots of players, but it is what it is and we have to try and make the best out of it with the players we have here," he told a news conference at UCLA.
"I'm not worried about playing Liverpool here or Real Madrid or Milan, I'm not worried if we lose badly.
"The preseason is very bad, the positive thing of the preseason is only for the young boys that have fantastic opportunity to train with us."
David De Gea, Nemanja Matic and new signing Fred are set to join the squad next week, but Mourinho is still without Alexis Sanchez, who is training alone at Carrington after being blocked from entering the U.S. because of visa issues.
Mourinho said United are working to fix the problem but the coach admitted he "doesn't know" when or if the Chilean will arrive.
"It's really bad," he said. "Really sad. It is not good for him, for me, for the team but there is no one to blame.
"The club is making the effort, I have to respect the U.S. authorities in their process of visas but hopefully he joins us later because could be important to work with [Anthony] Martial and [Juan] Mata, which is the players we have in attack for start of the season. No Lukaku, [Jesse] Lingard, no [Marcus] Rashford, so it will be very bad."
Mourinho has added Fred, Diogo Dalot and Lee Grant to his squad this summer but time is running out if he wants to make more new signings with the Premier League transfer window due to close before the start of the season.
The Portuguese coach said he had "no idea" if any more new faces will arrive but hinted the club are working on more deals.
"I'm not going to lie to you, I'm not going to say somebody is coming or nobody is coming," he said. "We did Lee Grant because we have a fantastic young goalkeeper who needs to play football.
"Joel is a Manchester United goalkeeper but two years without football he has to play. And to protect that position we got Lee, experience in Championship, Stoke City in the Premier League, so he is ready to fulfill that position. Joel is here with us, is good for him to play but then he will go on loan.
"Fred we did quite a long time ago, we started the process, we lost Michael Carrick and I think Fred is the kind of player we need to complement the qualities of our midfield players.
"Dalot is injured, a small injury, a small surgery, we didn't want to lose him because of that and he's recovering really well and we think he can start training back in England, not ready for start of the season."
Rob is ESPN FC's Manchester United correspondent. Follow him on Twitter @RobDawsonESPN.
LONDON -- Maurizio Sarri insisted there will be no repeat of the insensitive comments that marred his time at Napoli as he was unveiled as Chelsea's new head coach.
In 2016, Sarri was accused by then-Inter coach Roberto Mancini of using a gay slur in 2016 during a heated Coppa Italia semifinal, and in March responded in a news conference to a question by a female journalist about Napoli's title chances by saying: "You're a woman, you're beautiful, and I won't tell you to [expletive] off for those two reasons."
The Telegraph reported last week that Sarri assured Chelsea before his appointment that he did not hold sexist or homophobic views, and at his unveiling on Wednesday the coach was keen to address the incidents in front of club director Marina Granovskaia and chairman Bruce Buck.
"People make mistakes," he said through a translator. "One of these mistakes was made when I was angry. Another was not even a mistake -- it was a journalist with whom I shared jokes for three years. It was misconstrued.
"These were mistakes, that is for sure. I think those who know me well cannot define me in this way. Homophobic, sexist, racist. Absolutely not. I am an extremely open person, I do not have these kind of problems. I hope I will show this when I am working here and living here.
"These mistakes were made yes, but when someone makes a mistake they must apologise and accept some allegations can be made by the press. A professional and ethical attitude is very important, more than apologies. I hope you will have the chance to get to know you better and forget about this very quickly."
Sarri was confirmed as Chelsea's new coach on a three-year contract last week after Antonio Conte was unceremoniously sacked, his position eventually made untenable by escalating public and private tensions with the board as well as high-profile clashes with senior players in his squad.
Conte's fate despite winning the Premier League and FA Cup in two years at Stamford Bridge reinforced the notion that all managers have a relatively short shelf life at Chelsea, but Sarri insisted he is not concerned by his new club's past record of sackings.
"If I was someone who always worried, probably I would do another job," he added. "Our job means risks, but also a lot of satisfaction. What happened in Chelsea in the past doesn't concern me because I don't know these situations. I'm not afraid and I don't want to be.
"It's true I've not won anything but I've been in Serie A for five years and I think apart from Juventus, no one has won anything. In three years at Napoli we had record points every year."
Liam is ESPN FC's Chelsea correspondent. Follow him on Twitter: @Liam_Twomey.
Maurizio Sarri insisted that he is not interested in directing Chelsea's transfer policy but indicated that he would like to see both Eden Hazard and Thibaut Courtois remain at Stamford Bridge this summer.
Antonio Conte was sacked to pave the way for Sarri's appointment last week after months of tensions with the Chelsea board over recruitment, as well as clashes with senior players such as Diego Costa, David Luiz and Willian.
Sarri gained a reputation in Italy for not focusing the transfer market, and in front of watching board members Marina Granovskaia and Bruce Buck, he reiterated that, as head coach, he views his responsibility as to work with his players on the training pitch.
"I feel much more a pitch manager, a field manager than a general manager," he said via a translator. "I think I'm one of the few managers who is bored by the transfer market. I don't want to talk about it and I'm not that interested in it. Our task as managers is growing the players we have."
While Sarri is unlikely to make the kind of waves that Conte did with his pointed comments about Chelsea's shortcomings in the transfer market, he did reveal that he has discussed potential summer targets with the club, focusing on midfield.
Chelsea completed a £50 million deal to sign Italy international playmaker Jorginho at the weekend and are reportedly close to adding Aleksandr Golovin from CSKA Moscow.
"I spoke with the football club and said ideally I think that a pinch of quality is lacking in our central midfield for a certain kind of play, otherwise they are at a very high level," he said. "At the end of the transfers it will be up to me to understand what kind of football is suitable to the final squad.
"I cannot claim to come here and change 20 players. I must adapt to Chelsea and the players, and we will see at the end whether we must change something in my game because of the characteristics of the squad."
Chelsea have big decisions to make in the coming weeks about Hazard and Courtois, who both publicly courted interest from Real Madrid after Belgium's victory over England in the World Cup third-place playoff on Saturday.
Sources have told ESPN FC that Chelsea are focused on keeping Hazard despite his comments and Madrid's interest, and Sarri admitted that he would rather not lose any of the squad's key players before the Aug. 9 transfer deadline.
"Clearly, we would like to keep the strongest players," he said. "This is what any manager wants and any clubs wants. Then we will have to see how the transfer market will go over the next few days."
"I think he [Hazard] is one of the top two or three European players. I hope I will manage to improve him -- this is very difficult given the level he has reached."
Asked if he could improve Hazard in the spectacular way he managed with Dries Mertens at Napoli, Sarri said that it is not the same situation.
"With Mertens it was different -- Dries had also been an external striker and everyone thinks by necessity that he became a very high level player," he said. "Dries has improved with me but he started at a lower level. I hope Hazard will improve with me but it will be difficult."
Liam is ESPN FC's Chelsea correspondent. Follow him on Twitter: @Liam_Twomey.
After months of speculation, Liverpool finally made their move and have agreed a world record fee of around £67 million with AS Roma for goalkeeper Alisson Becker.
It seems a large amount for a player who is almost 26 years old yet has only 81 league appearances to his name. Indeed, a little over a year ago he wasn't even in the Roma side, he was sat on the bench backing up former Arsenal man Wojciech Szczesny.
Those are certainly red flags, but it could just be that he's a late developer or he wasn't given an opportunity. Liverpool have a glaring need at the position and Jurgen Klopp seemingly has eyes only for the Brazil international -- who kept Ederson on the bench for his country at the World Cup -- which should ease supporters' concerns over the fee. There are a lot of cheaper goalkeepers out there and for Klopp to refuse to contemplate signing any of them is quite the vote of confidence in Alisson.
Since getting his chance to shine the Brazilian has made rapid progress for club and country. He enjoyed an impressive first full season as Roma's No. 1 and is well established in his national side, but he is still relatively inexperienced in goalkeeping terms. English football will also present vastly different challenges to what Alisson is used to in Italy.
Klopp is clearly convinced though and he first tried to sign the Roma man midway through last season. A January transfer never materialised but it seems like Liverpool's patience may finally be about to pay off.
There are some similarities here with the Virgil van Dijk transfer. As with Alisson, Klopp was prepared to wait to get his man rather than compromise and move for a secondary target. Splashing £75m, Klopp made Van Dijk the world's most expensive defender and he's prepared to make Alisson the most expensive goalkeeper. Klopp is not a manager who throws money around lightly, so when he spends big it tells you he is completely sure about the player.
Where this deal would differ to Van Dijk is in the risk factor. The Dutchman was proven quality and would have commanded a place in virtually any side in Europe. While the fee was high it became apparent fairly quickly that it was not going to weigh Van Dijk down and, as the weeks went by, it was mentioned less and less.
Alisson is not the "sure thing" Van Dijk was -- not least because he has no experience of English football -- but if he is as good as Klopp believes him to be it would put the Reds in a very strong position to challenge for honours this season.
Seeing Klopp addressing the biggest area of concern will be a boost for the players and will re-energise the supporters. There is much for supporters to feel excited about as the goalkeeping situation was casting a huge dark cloud over everything.
The thought of starting the season with Loris Karius in goal was causing sleepless nights for many a fan and even if Alisson does not arrive Karius cannot under any circumstances be considered for selection this season. It would not be fair to him, his teammates or the supporters.
If, as has been widely suggested, Klopp was prepared to keep faith with Karius in the event that Alisson proved to be out of reach, he must surely have realised now that simply isn't possible. The position of Karius is untenable and has become a circus.
Perhaps Klopp thought that his young compatriot could ride out the storm, but if that was his thinking then recent events will have shown him that isn't how this will play out.
Karius had a lot of sympathy from fans after what happened in Kiev but much of that sympathy disappeared when he posted a self-indulgent, professionally shot video of himself training in California. There was already a bullseye on his back and this total lack of self-awareness only served to make things worse.
He removed that video but the horse had already bolted. Within a couple of days a clip of him letting a shot go through him in a warm up before a preseason game went viral and had well over a million views. Under normal circumstances it wouldn't have even been noticed as the camera was focused on the pitchside presenters and Karius was merely in the background. And besides, it's a warm up. In preseason. Against Chester.
There is nothing normal about the situation Karius is in though. In the next preseason game he made a dreadful mistake that allowed Tranmere Rovers to score, prompting one Tranmere player to shout a mouthful of expletives at the keeper.
We later discovered that the player in question, Ben Tolitt, is a Liverpool fan who was so angry at the ineptitude of Karius that he couldn't even celebrate a goal for the team he played for. It's an absolute circus and a massive distraction to everybody, but that would all end with the arrival of Alisson.
Concerns over whether Alisson is worth the money are valid but the key elements here are that Klopp clearly has no doubts about him and that the club, just as they did with Van Dijk, are backing their manager's judgement with hard cash.
If this deal goes through, Liverpool are to be applauded for thinking big and showing once more that after years of being pushed around by their rivals they are now prepared to compete at the very top end of the market again.
Dave Usher is one of ESPN FC's Liverpool bloggers. Follow him on Twitter: @theliverpoolway.
Liverpool have agreed a fee of almost £67 million for AS Roma and Brazil goalkeeper Alisson Becker. Here, we assess the world's previous six most expensive goalkeepers.
1. Ederson Moraes, Benfica to Manchester City in 2017, £34.7m
The Brazilian became the most expensive goalkeeper in the world when he moved to the Premier League last summer -- though Gianluigi Buffon's transfer was more in euros at the time, it is less in pounds. Ederson's kicking gave City a new dimension and led them to the Premier League title, while he also claimed a Guiness World Record too.
2. Gianluigi Buffon, Parma to Juventus in 2001, £32.6m
The Italian was considered an expensive upgrade on the great Edwin van der Sar when, aged 23, he left Parma. But, 16 years later, he remains an authoritative, consistent presence.
In an era when there has been significant competition from Iker Casillas, Petr Cech and others, Buffon will likely be remembered as the greatest goalkeeper of his time. Now at PSG, he could add a Champions League medal to the numerous domestic honours and World Cup has has so far won -- having remained loyal to Juve when they were relegated in 2006 amid the Calciopoli match-fixing scandal.
3. Jordan Pickford, Sunderland to Everton in 2017, £25m
Pickford has been tipped for the top since making his debut at Sunderland as a youth. Now 24, he made the step up to the first team in 2016 and was sold for a club-record fee 12 months later when Sunderland were relegated from the Premier League. Everton did not impress in the Premier League but Pickford did and earned himself a No. 1 spot for England his summer where he shone.
4. Bernd Leno, Bayer Leverkusen to Arsenal in 2018, £19.3m
Leno has flown under the radar with his sold career at Leverkusen. He made more than 230 appearances for the Bundesliga side but only won six caps for Germany before his move but was not included in their World Cup squad. Incredibly, his deal cost more than Neuer's back in 2011.
5. Manuel Neuer, Schalke to Bayern Munich in 2011, £19m
If Buffon was the greatest goalkeeper of his generation, Germany's 31-year-old Neuer is arguably the greatest of this. At a time when admiration for so-called "sweeper-keepers" has significantly grown, he is also considered the finest example of a composed goalkeeper capable of playing the ball.
Neuer's form has been so exceptional he has won six straight Bundesliga titles and also won the Champions League a year before helping Germany to victory at the 2014 World Cup.
6. David De Gea, Atletico Madrid to Manchester United in 2011, £18.9m
The then 20-year-old was considered Europe's most promising goalkeeper when he joined United to succeed the retired Van der Sar. After struggling in his first 18 months at United, where so many competent goalkeepers have under-performed, he began to demonstrate why.
They have since won the Premier League title, FA Cup, League Cup and Europa League, while De Gea has replaced Iker Casillas with Spain. Reports persist, however, that this summer he could leave United to join Real Madrid.
Information from the Press Association was used in this report.