Back to work! Bellingham, Salah head list of stars reporting for preseason


After what must have been the longest season ever — or, at least, felt like it — with a midseason World Cup, a June Champions League final and then a slate of international fixtures, most players at Europe’s top clubs will have enjoyed a well-earned break after the 2023-24 campaign finally ended.

But no sooner had they got fully relaxed on the beach than it was time to report back to their clubs for preseason training. The new season is only a month away, after all.

Many of the biggest clubs began welcoming their top talent back to the fold this week as the fitness testing and gruelling training sessions began before they all head off across the globe on their preseason tours. Some players even got to meet their new coaches and teammates for the very first time.

With the Premier League and LaLiga kicking off their 2023-24 season on Aug. 11 and Ligue 1 beginning the next day before the Bundesliga and Serie A follow suit a week later, there is no time to waste.

Here is a roundup of the clubs and players who have already reported for preseason duty.


Arsenal

New summer signing Kai Havertz was welcomed into the Arsenal squad this week, and got reacquainted with former Chelsea teammate Jorginho at the club’s training camp in his native Germany.

Bukayo Saka also got the blood circulating with a nice gentle cycle ride around the grounds at the Bavarian sports complex.

Well, it just wouldn’t be preseason without footage of footballers taking a leisurely bike ride under sunny skies, would it?

Chelsea

New Chelsea head coach Mauricio Pochettino took his first preseason session on Sunday as his reign at the London side officially kicked off.

Returning to the Premier League after four years away, the 51-year-old Argentine presided over a series of drills that put Thiago Silva, Raheem Sterling, Ben Chilwell and Reece James through their paces.

Liverpool

Mohamed Salah looked to be all smiles and relishing the challenge ahead as the Egyptian forward returned to the AXA training centre after celebrating his 31st birthday over the summer.

Salah was given a warm welcome from teammate Konstantinos Tsimikas. New signings Alexis Mac Allister and Dominik Szoboszlai are preparing to train with their new teammates for the first time on Tuesday.

Manchester City

Treble winners City are yet to formally get their preseason underway after their 2022-23 campaign was extended by the Champions League final. Indeed, with the big names yet to report back, it looks like star striker Erling Haaland is keen to lap up every last minute of his summer break while modelling his latest haute couture ensemble.

Manchester United

United new arrival Mason Mount has wasted no time in showing that he’s a company man by helping the club promote their social media channels.

Meanwhile, on the training pitch, youngsters Hannibal Mejbri and Amad Diallo competed for attention with an array of flicks and tricks during a small-sided game.

Tottenham Hotspur

Tottenham’s international players aren’t due to report for preseason until later this week, giving new manager Ange Postecoglou ample time to meet his counterpart on the women’s team, Robert Vilahamn, who has also arrived at the club this summer. Will Postecoglou’s first meeting with wantaway striker Harry Kane be even more awkward than this brief bit of chit chat?

Barcelona

In the same week as renovation work began on the Camp Nou, head coach Xavi took charge of his first training session of preseason as Barca prepare for a stint at their temporary home of Montjuic. The defending champions seemed to be in a relaxed mood as midfielder Pedri took on the role of team masseur in order to give help teammate Raphinha get limber.

Sufficiently loosened up, Raphinha then demonstrated his juggling skills in the gym as the Brazilian winger rolled off a number of freestyle flicks before burying a trick shot through the basketball hoop.

Real Madrid

The Jude Bellingham era began at Real Madrid this week as the ยฃ88.5 million signing met new coach Carlo Ancelotti before being worked hard and keenly assessed during a number of performance tests.

Elsewhere, Brahim Diaz is not quite a new signing, but the forward caught up with Federico Valverde and Alvaro Odriozola after returning to the club following his three seasons on loan at AC Milan.

Bayern Munich

The first influx of Bayern players returned to the club to begin their preseason grind with senior heads Manuel Neuer — who missed the second half of last season after breaking a leg on a post-World Cup skiing trip — Serge Gnabry and Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting among the names reporting in to undergo an array of performance tests at the Sabener Strasse centre.

AC Milan

Fikayo Tomori welcomed former teammate Ruben Loftus-Cheek to Italy and the duo trained together at Milan for the first time this week after the latter completed his transfer from Chelsea at the end of June.

Fellow ex-Premier League striker Divock Origi also appeared to be in fine fettle as the Belgian scored the first goal of Milan’s first training session at their Milanello facility.

Inter Milan

Things began on an altogether more casual note at Inter, where the likes of Alessandro Bastoni, Matteo Darmian and Lautaro Martinez eased back into the swing of things after their run to last season’s Champions League final.

Paris Saint-Germain

Kylian Mbappe is still enjoying the last few days of his extended summer leave, but several PSG players, including Neymar, are back already and undergoing their first fitness tests of preseason.

New signings Lucas Hernandez and Manuel Ugarte have also been put through their paces to ensure they can keep up with Mbappe when (if?) he does return.





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