Sun | Nov 29, 2020

EPL stars face awkward returns to clubs

Published:Thursday | September 7, 2017 | 12:00 AM
Arsenal's Alexis Sanchez


Alex Oxlade-Chamber-lain was greeted with a high five and a warm hug from Liverpool manager Juergen Klopp ahead of the midfielder's first training session at his new club.

For some of the other high-profile players returning to their English Premier League teams following the international break, the reception might be a little frostier.

Unlike Oxlade-Chamberlain, who managed to secure a transfer from Arsenal, three stars of the league - Alexis Sanchez, Philippe Coutinho, and Riyad Mahrez - failed to get the moves they wanted on the final day of Europe's transfer window last week.

They have since been training and playing for their countries, but the time has come to go back to their clubs. And it could be an awkward situation for all concerned.


Returned to England early


Mahrez so wanted to quit Leicester that the winger left the Algerian national team's training camp in Sidi Moussa on deadline day and returned to England so that he would be in a better position to complete the formalities of a transfer if a club made a late bid. Unfortunately, a transfer didn't materialise.

Now Mahrez must put that disappointment behind him and get ready for Leicester's home match against champions Chelsea tomorrow.

It could be even more uncomfortable for Coutinho. The Brazil playmaker hasn't played for Liverpool this season while being the subject of three huge offers from Barcelona and even lodged a transfer request in early August in an attempt to force through a move to the Spanish side.

"He showed up in a very, very good mood," Klopp said yesterday. "He's back, and we had a really good conversation. So good."

Liverpool visit Manchester City tomorrow in the standout match of the fourth round of league games.

Sanchez is still an Arsenal player after a prospective transfer to Manchester City was aborted hours before the window closed because Arsenal could not find a replacement at such a late stage.

The forward had a tough time on international duty with Chile - the team lost both of its games and no longer occupies an automatic qualification spot in the South American zone for next year's World Cup in Russia - and he made his frustration clear by saying on Instagram that he was "fed up" with the criticism he was receiving.

Arsenal, which accepted a bid from Man City for Sanchez last week, are at home to Bournemouth tomorrow and are looking to avoid a third straight loss.