The Big Six bomb squad: Spurs, Chelsea record signings among stars who failed to make the bench

Ian Watson
Man City's Joao Cancelo, Tottenham goalkeeper Hugo Lloris, and Arsenal forward Folarin Balogun.
Joao Cancelo, Hugo Lloris and Folarin Balogun all sat out the opening weekend.

Some huge names and big-money signings watched the opening weekend like the rest of us: in the stands, or sat in our pants watching the TV. Here’s a whole squad of big-six stars who didn’t even make the bench…

 

GK: Hugo Lloris (Tottenham)
The former France stopper hasn’t hidden his desire for a new challenge and Spurs have already replaced him twice over, in their net with Guglielmo Vicario and with Son Heung-min as skipper. But still Lloris remains in north London, kicking his heels while Vicario made his debut and Brandon Austin sat on the bench. Lazio are said to be interested in giving Lloris something to do, but he would not be a guaranteed starter in Rome either.

 

RB: Djed Spence (Tottenham) 
Spence has been waiting for a manager to take a shine to him ever since he joined Spurs, but it doesn’t look likely to be Ange Postecoglou. The new boss started Emerson Royal and had Pedro Porro on the bench as back-up, keeping Spence sat in the stands. He’s so far played a total of 41 minutes since joining Spurs for £20million a year ago.

 

CB: Eric Dier (Tottenham)
The most notable omission from Postecoglou’s Spurs squad was Dier. The England international remains “part of this team” and “available for selection” according to the new manager but his absence even from the bench has inevitably sparked speculation that Dier will be on his way after nine years at the club. He has less than 12 months remaining on his contract after making 42 appearances last season – only four players made more.

 

CB: Trevoh Chalobah (Chelsea)
If Chalobah didn’t take the hint from Chelsea signing yet more centre-backs, relying on a new signing rather than him to cover for Wesley Fofana, then we assume he’s got a better idea of his status at Stamford Bridge after watching the draw with Liverpool from the stands. Inter Milan were keen – until they were quoted £45million for the defender. Halve it and Chelsea could expect plenty of interest.

 

LB: Kieran Tierney (Arsenal)
Even with Oleksandr Zinchenko missing, Tierney still didn’t make the bench for Arsenal’s opener against Forest. ‘Tactical reasons’, apparently. Newcastle, Real Sociedad and Celtic are watching, but none are likely to give Arsenal their money back on the Scotland star.

 

CM: Donny van de Beek (Manchester United)
After missing much of last season through injury, for Manchester United’s opener against Wolves, Van de Beek was back in the familiar position of being left out just because Erik ten Hag doesn’t fancy him. Real Sociedad were also said to be keen on Donny, but they’ve since backed away, Mercifully, Ajax might be coming to rescue their former midfielder from another season as an outcast.

Donny van de Beek celebrates his goal against Lyon.

CM: Tanguy Ndombele (Tottenham)
The one-time Tottenham record signing has reportedly p*ssed off Postecoglou with his attitude around the place after returning from a season on loan at Napoli where he won the Serie A title. Time for Spurs to cut their losses and sell, even if Napoli are only offering a third of what they paid for the midfielder in 2019.

 

LM: Joao Cancelo (Manchester City)
Not only did Pep Guardiola leave Cancelo out of the opening-day trip to Burnley, the Portugal star has also been omitted from the trip to Athens to face Sevilla in the UEFA Super Cup final. Rather than take Cancelo, who is back from a half-season on loan at Bayern Munich, City are travelling with 22 players – they can name 23 in their matchday squad. Moral of the story: don’t p*ss Pep off.

 

RM: Callum Hudson-Odoi (Chelsea)
Remember when Chelsea were turning down offers in the region of £70million from Bayern Munich for the then-England winger? That will have felt a long time ago for Hudson-Odoi as he sat in his civvies while Chelsea faced Liverpool. Neither he nor Hakim Ziyech have been allocated a squad number by Mauricio Pochettino, but at least there are signs of interest in Hudson-Odoi.

 

CF: Romelu Lukaku (Chelsea)
Similarly, Chelsea are doing their very best to drum up interest in Lukaku, all the while trying to keep the £97.5million striker out of Pochettino’s sight. The Blues delayed his return to training until after Poch had taken his squad to the United States on their pre-season tour, with the intention of arranging an exit while they were gone. But Lukaku screwed that up by p*ssing off Inter, while Juventus don’t seem to have the necessary appetite to bring the Belgian back to Serie A. Their fans certainly don’t.

 

CF: Folarin Balogun (Arsenal)
Arsenal don’t appear keen to put Balogun in the shop window beyond pre-season, despite Gabriel Jesus’s injury. The Gunners are said to want big money for the striker now back at the Emirates after scoring 22 goals on loan at Reims last season. He has been tentatively linked with Tottenham – yeah, right – but Monaco seems like a more likely destination with the two clubs looking to find a compromise after their opening offer was rejected.

 

Substitutes: 
Nat Phillips (Liverpool), Hakim Ziyech (Chelsea), Sergio Reguilon (Tottenham), Japhet Tanganga (Tottenham), Eric Bailly (Manchester United), Lewis Hall (Chelsea), Cedric Soares (Arsenal).

Read more: Liverpool utility man and Spurs legend among six keeping pitch warm for new signings