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AC Milan chief 'sorry for Arsenal' after Europa League draw

AC Milan sporting director Massimiliano Mirabelli said that he felt “sorry for Arsenal” after they were given a trip to the San Siro in the Europa League round of 16.

Following the draw live on the Serie A club’s Facebook page from their Milanello training centre, Mirabelli responded to a draw which he feels ticks all the boxes.

“I’m sorry for Arsenal, who I’m sure would have liked to have continued in Europe,” he said. “It would have been a nice final, but I’m happy. It’s best to face a big club like Arsenal now. We needed opponents like these.”

Christian Abbiati, Milan’s club manager, told Sky Sport Italia: “Facing Arsenal is a fascinating encounter. It’s bound to be a great tie.”

Abbiati was between the posts for the Rossoneri when the two sides met in the Champions League round of 16 in 2012, with Arsenal nearly overturning a 4-0 defeat in Milan by winning 3-0 in London.

“It was a disaster at London, where we lost 3-0, but in the end, we made it through,” Abbiati said. “I hope we don’t see the same mistakes this time. Milan are in good form at the moment with some good results and I hope we can keep it up.

“This is definitely not the same Arsenal as back then and we meet them in what is a positive moment for us, even if we’ve got lots of games coming up with the league and the Coppa Italia. Playing games like this motivates you by itself.”

Like in 2012, Milan will be at home for the first game on March 8 before travelling to the Emirates Stadium for the second leg a week later.

Both teams are sixth in their respective leagues, with Milan eight points behind the Serie A top four and qualification for the Champions League next season and Arsenal the same distance behind fourth-placed Chelsea in the Premier League.

Winning the Europa League could therefore provide the winner of this tie with a quicker, if not necessarily easier, route to the Champions League next season.

 

 

Source: ESPN

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Neymar delivers surprise transfer warning to PSG chief

Neymar will quit Real Madrid for Paris Saint-Germain if Luis Enrique is the man to replace Unai Emery this summer.

At least that’s what Don Balon claim the Brazilian has told Parc des Princes chief Nasser Al-Khelaifi as pressure mounts on Emery.

PSG are 12 points clear at the top of Ligue 1 and are into the French Cup quarter-finals, where they’ll play Marseille.

Their goal is to win the Champions League though and that desire motivated the world-record £200m purchase of Neymar last summer.

PSG finished above Bayern Munich to top Group B before Christmas but their hopes of success in Europe hang by a thread following last week’s 3-1 loss to Real.

Emery is under increasing pressure and Al-Khelaifi could wield the axe if PSG fail to overturn that deficit.

Former Barcelona boss Enrique has been tipped to take Emery’s place at the Parc des Princes.

However, the latest reports from Spain suggest Neymar has not been too impressed by that speculation.

Don Balon claim Neymar has warned Al-Khelaifi that he will quit PSG for Real if his old manager replaces Emery.

That is said to have put the PSG president off pursuing Enrique, who’s also being eyed up by Chelsea.

Neymar has long been in Real’s sights and rumours surrounding a potential Bernabeu switch have surrounded his time in France.

And Al-Khelaifi is determined to do all that he can in order to keep his talisman in Paris.

Neymar will be out to impress when PSG take on Marseille in Ligue 1 this Sunday.

Neymar delivers surprise transfer warning to PSG chief

 

 

Source: Express.co.uk

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Paul Pogba's agent pushing for a move

IAN WRIGHT believes Paul Pogba’s agent could look to engineer a move for the Manchester United midfielder after he was dropped to the bench against Sevilla.

After missing Manchester United’s 2-0 win over Huddersfield in the FA Cup, Pogba was expected to start against Sevilla in the Champions League.

But when the line-ups were revealed Pogba was surprisingly left on the bench with youngster Scott McTominay selected alongside Nemanja Matic and Ander Herrera.

When pressed prior to the match, United boss Jose Mourinho was reluctant to discuss why he picked Pogba as a substitute but hinted at a fitness issue.

And Wright has suggested a potential repercussion of Mourinho’s decision is Pogba’s agent Mino Raiola looking to sell the midfielder.

Wright told BBC Radio Five Live: “As soon as a player gets left out, his agent’s on the phone to people asking “why has he been left out?” – then people start getting touted, they say “he’s not happy”.

“I totally get that that’s what happens now.

“We’re in a day and age where players go on strike if they’re left out.

“They get interest from somewhere else and they don’t want to play anymore.”

Wright added: “I think Paul Pogba has lost some confidence. He is a confidence man. He needs to be playing.

“He needs to be handled a little differently from how he is now.

“It seems like Jose Mourinho had lost a bit of faith and his confidence is gone. He is someone who needs to be loved.”

 

Source: Express.co.uk

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Five questions for Jose Mourinho ahead of Super Sunday

Manchester United held Sevilla to a goalless draw in the first leg of their Champions League last-16 tie, but the game raised questions for Jose Mourinho ahead of their Super Sunday meeting with Chelsea.

United were on the back foot for long periods at the Sanchez Pizjuan Stadium, with David De Gea making fine saves from Steven N’Zonzi and Luis Muriel before the break.

But did Paul Pogba show the defensive discipline Mourinho demands? Is Scott McTominay ready to face Chelsea? And do Manchester United have a creativity problem? We take a look.

Did Pogba take his chance?

Mourinho has dismissed suggestions that his relationship with Pogba has become strained recently, but he did little to dispel that notion in his pre-match interview on Wednesday. “Paul created some doubts by not playing on Saturday, by his own decision, because he was not feeling good,” he said of the Frenchman’s absence against Huddersfield.

The United boss responded by leaving Pogba on the bench at the Sanchez Pizjuan Stadium, but Ander Herrera’s early injury ensured he did not have to wait long for his opportunity, jogging onto the pitch in the 17th minute as his team-mate trudged down the tunnel.

Mourinho’s issues with Pogba’s recent performances have centred on a lack of defensive discipline, but he will take encouragement from his contribution against Sevilla. Pogba was arguably United’s best player with the ball, making nearly twice as many passes in the opposition half as anyone else, but it was also notable that he did not stray too far forward.

In fact, Pogba only had a single touch in Sevilla’s box. Instead, he was defensively switched on and clearly mindful not to leave too much space between himself and his midfield partners. By the end, only Scott McTominay and Ashley Young had won possession more times. “He did a good job,” said Mourinho afterwards.

Is Scott McTominay ready for Chelsea?

Herrera’s injury deprives Mourinho of another midfield option for Sunday’s game after Marouane Fellaini so he will be grateful for McTominay’s assured performance against Sevilla. In difficult circumstances and on by far the most of his high-profile of his nine Manchester United starts, the academy graduate impressed.

McTominay was assigned to stay tight to Sevilla playmaker Ever Banega. It was not easy but he stuck to the task resolutely, hustling and harrying the Argentine and frequently snuffing out danger. Mourinho used the words “fantastic” and “brilliant” to describe his defensive performance and he did well with the ball too.

The 21-year-old was neat and tidy, completing more than 90 per cent of his passes – just as he did in his recent Premier League starts against Huddersfield and Bournemouth. On this evidence, Mourinho needn’t hesitate to throw him in against Eden Hazard et al on Sunday.

Where’s the creativity?

United’s defensive resilience delighted Mourinho but should he worried by a lack of creativity? They rarely looked like notching an away goal against Sevilla, with Romelu Lukaku’s wild volley from Alexis Sanchez’s chipped pass their only notable scoring chance. Over the course of the 90 minutes, they only mustered one shot on target.

That may not seem too surprising given their priority was simply to avoid defeat, but it continues a recent trend. In their last five games in all competitions, against Sevilla, Huddersfield (twice), Newcastle and Tottenham, Mourinho’s men have only managed 11 shots on target. They must find a way to buck the trend against Chelsea at Old Trafford.

Time to unleash Martial, Rashford?

Mourinho opted to start with Juan Mata over Anthony Martial or Marcus Rashford against Sevilla, but it will surely be necessary to take a more aggressive approach against Chelsea. United’s attack lacked pace and penetration against Sevilla and the duo on the substitute’s bench are surely the best men to provide it.

They are unlikely to start simultaneously after Sanchez’s arrival at the club, but Martial in particular can feel aggrieved by recent omissions. The 22-year-old struggled no more than anyone else in the defeats to Tottenham and Newcastle, but with nine goals and four assists in just 1282 Premier League minutes this season, he has shown how effective he can be.

Lindelof still struggling?

Victor Lindelof has endured a difficult debut season since his arrival from Benfica in the summer, losing his place in the team after some unconvincing early performances, but injuries to Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo have opened the door to him again recently.

The Swede helped United keep a clean sheet in his preferred centre-back role against Huddersfield on Saturday, and he was part of another shut-out against Sevilla. He will take heart from the back-to-back clean sheets, but his communication mix-up with De Gea in the first half suggests there is still an underlying nervousness to his game.

If Jones does not recover in time for Sunday, Chelsea will present his toughest test yet.

 

 

Source: Skysports.com

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Could Real Madrid rescue Pogba from Manchester United?

It is fair to say that Paul Pogba’s move to Manchester United has not worked out as planned. When the midfielder signed from Juventus for €105 million in the summer of 2016, he became the most expensive player ever. On the pitch, however, he has yet to live up to the billing.

Now, in his second season back at Old Trafford, Pogba has shown signs of his obvious talent, yet there has always been the feeling that there is much more to come from the France international.

And there should be. At the age of 24, the player is approaching his best years. However, with tensions rising between the midfielder and United manager Jose Mourinho in recent weeks, there are now concerns over his long-term future at the club.

Pogba believes he is being played out of position by Mourinho, with the Portuguese sticking to what he thinks is best for the team as cracks in their relationship have started to surface.

The player, who is back in United’s squad for the Champions League clash against Sevilla on Wednesday after missing United’s FA Cup win over Huddersfield through illness, is already being linked with a potential summer switch to Real Madrid, with L’Equipe reporting that he regrets moving to Manchester and not Spain in 2016. Here, Goal takes a closer look at the current situation…

Real Madrid were frontrunners to sign Pogba from Juventus in the summer of 2016 and Los Blancos did attempt to bring in the midfielder. Ultimately, however, they decided against a move.

Zinedine Zidane’s side had just won the Champions League and pushed Barcelona close in La Liga following a spectacular second half of the season. And, with a one-year transfer ban which was later reduced to a single window hanging over the club, it looked as if there would be plenty of movement that summer.

The French coach was asked about his compatriot during Real’s pre-season tour and he said. “Do I like Pogba? Of course, he’s a very good player and every club wants the best players but right now he’s at Juve and we have a large squad already.”

With no bids for James Rodriguez, and Pogba’s price pushed up by the demands of his agent Mino Raiola, with whom Madrid do not like to negotiate, it was decided in the end that in excess of €100m was too much money for a player who was not really even needed at Real.

Zidane was also happy with Luka Modric, Toni Kroos and Casemiro as his first-choice midfield trio, with Isco, James and Mateo Kovacic all in reserve. And, although the club considered selling James and even Isco, there were no suitable bids for either player. So, Madrid did not pursue Pogba and he joined United instead.

Pogba’s position at United has proved to be a bone of contention between the player and his manager. The player has long claimed his best position is on the left of the midfield three, but he is being used by Mourinho in a two-man midfield in a 4-2-3-1 system.

That means he is often in a deeper role than he would like and, as witnessed with France in Euro 2016, such a position does not allow the player to operate in the areas where he can cause the most damage.

Performances in recent weeks have been poor. Pogba was taken off after 63 minutes of the 2-0 defeat at Tottenham, before featuring as a substitute in the win over Huddersfield in the league and then producing another indifferent display in the 1-0 loss at Newcastle.

“I remember clearly, without television but just with my memory from the touchline, a Newcastle player jumping and two of my players looking at him and staying on the floor,” Mourinho said after that game, in reference to Nemanja Matic and Pogba, and their role in the match’s decisive goal.

The Portuguese also praised United youngster Scott McTominay at the weekend in what appeared to be another dig at Pogba. “I think maybe it’s because he [McTominay] is this kind of kid profile: a normal haircut, no tattoos, no big cars, no big watches, humble kid, arrive in the club when he was nine or 10,” he said after the FA Cup win at Huddersfield.

Public criticism of his players has not always worked well for Mourinho in the past and, although he believes he is right about a system in which he has an array of attackers – including Romelu Lukaku, Alexis Sanchez, Anthony Martial, Marcus Rashford, Jesse Lingard and Juan Mata – fighting for four spots, with not many midfielders of the same quality, the United boss will also need to ensure he is not alienating the club’s most expensive player.

Real Madrid are somewhat in limbo at the moment following a year of extraordinary success in 2017 when the club claimed five trophies, including a second successive Champions League crown and a first Liga title since 2012.

Although the squad remains strong, the departure of Alvaro Morata to Chelsea last summer left a significant hole in the attack – exacerbated by Karim Benzema’s poor form – and signing a new striker will be one of the priorities in the next transfer window.

With Gareth Bale often injured and Cristiano Ronaldo now 33, Madrid will also be looking to bring in another forward player some time in the next couple of years, while Los Blancos also want to sign a new goalkeeper and a right-back as competition – and cover – for Dani Carvajal in the summer.

In midfield, however, it seems less likely the club will make a major signing. Modric is 32 and will eventually need to be replaced, but is still at the peak of his powers, while Zidane remains happy with Kroos and Casemiro.

Isco and Marco Asensio have both signed new deals, while more will be expected of Dani Ceballos in his second season as well. So, even though Pogba has his admirers at the Santiago Bernabeu, with Zidane and Florentino Perez among them, there still appears to be no need to splash out in excess of €100m – around one third of the club’s transfer budget for the summer – on a midfielder at this point.

On top of that, it is unclear whether Zidane will continue beyond this summer. Whether he does or not, Madrid will continue to track Pogba and a transfer cannot be ruled out in future. This summer, however, a move seems unlikely.

 

 

Source: Goal.com

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Cristiano Ronaldo has revealed the club will sign Thibaut Courtois

The Blues star has been linked with Los Blancos in recent months.

And now Spanish outlet Don Balon claim Cristiano Ronaldo has told current goalkeeper Keylor Navas he is going to be replaced by Courtois.

The Chelsea goalkeeper has become the top target for Real Madrid.

That’s after Manchester United star David De Gea made strong comments suggesting he would stay put at Old Trafford.

He said: “Time flies by so quickly. I’ve been here seven years and I am happy.

“A lot has happened to me – some very good, some not so good, – but to be honest I am just really happy.

“I feel like an important player in the dressing room. I am one of the oldest in the team.

“It makes me happy to see the younger players coming through – and trying to make United big.”

That has led to Real Madrid turning their attention to Courtois.

The 25-year-old has family in Madrid and has admitted he would be tempted by a move to the Bernabeu.

Florentino Perez is not a fan of Navas and has wanted to replace him for some time now.

                                    Chelsea goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois is wanted by Real Madrid

ourtois has been in good form for Chelsea this season, keeping 16 clean sheets in all competitions.

Real Madrid have struggled this campaign and find themselves fourth in La Liga, a massive 17 points behind arch rivals Barcelona.

 

 

Source: Dailystar.co.uk

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President Cyril Ramaphosa to respond to MPs after SONA debate

President Cyril Ramaphosa is expected to respond to the debate and questions around his first State of the Nation Address (SONA).

But before the newly sworn in president responds to questions raised by members of Parliament on Tuesday, he is expected to be out early in the morning in Gugulethu for his daily walk.

The Presidency confirmed on Monday that Ramaphosa was expected to start his daily exercise routine in the area, with members of the public and media expected to accompany him.

Ramaphosa presented SONA last week Friday, less than 48 hours after former president Jacob Zuma resigned, and faced gruelling questions from MPs who responded to his address on Monday.

The EFF’s Floyd Shivambu urged Ramaphosa to visit the people of Marikana, where Ramaphosa was said to have played a key role in the lead up to events during which 34 miners were shot and killed.

“We want to send you to one place, please go to Marikana and give the people of Marikana houses and water. Let us give the people of Marikana hope,” Shivambu urged Ramaphosa.

Ramaphosa ‘bluffing’

Science and Technology Minister Naledi Pandor told Cope leader Mosiuoa Lekota that his contribution on land expropriation was “embarrassing”, while assuring EFF leader Julius Malema that the ANC remained resolute on its position of land expropriation without compensation.

Malema responded on Monday and said Ramaphosa’s statement of intent did not capture the headlines because the media and the public “knew he was bluffing”.

“We all agreed. That was the highest applause you got,” Malema told a joint sitting of Parliament during the SONA debate.

“[But] they know you were not serious about it. Anybody who is worried about investment in South Africa would have been worried when you mentioned expropriation of land without compensation.”

Ramaphosa assured South Africans on Friday night during his maiden SONA that the ruling party would continue with its land redistribution programme.

“We will accelerate our land redistribution programme not only to redress a grave historical injustice, but also to bring more producers into the agricultural sector and to make more land available for cultivation,” Ramaphosa said.

 

 

Source: News24

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Real Madrid offer Chelsea £100m PLUS Gareth Bale to secure Eden Hazard deal

The Spanish giants have made Hazard their No.1 target for the summer.

Hazard is stalling on signing a lucrative new contract at Stamford Bridge, which is being interpreted as a clear sign that Hazard wants a move to Real Madrid.

The Spanish giants are set to overhaul their squad after falling 20 points behind Barcelona this season.

They are also set to part company with head coach Zinedine Zidane, who Hazard is known to be keen to work with.

Manchester United have wanted Bale for the last two seasons but his former club Tottenham have first option – even though a deal is likely to be out of reach for all but the richest clubs.

United now seem to be out of the running for Bale after signing Alexis Sanchez from Arsenal last month leaving the way almost clear for Chelsea to lure him back to London.

Hazard and Thibaut Courtois have been in protracted contracted talks with Chelsea to extend their contracts beyond their current 2019 and 2020 expirations with Real reportedly interested in both players.

In November, Hazard told French television channel Canal+: “Everyone knows the admiration I have for Real, but for now I’m a Blue.”

Hazard’s father Thierry told Belgian paper Le Soir last year: “What I can say about Eden is that he refused an extension of contract to be able, if necessary, to follow the interest of the Real, where he would see himself well.

“But, as I speak to you, there is no contact. Eden is only one of the parties to the contract.”

Bale has had a difficult season in the Spanish capital with three separate injuries keeping him out for nine weeks over the course of the campaign.

The Wales international has nine goals in 21 appearances this season but has struggled to win the adoration of the Bernabeu faithful since his £85 million transfer in 2013.

Bale continues to live in the shadow of the king Galactico Cristiano Ronaldo who scored his 100th and 101st Champions League goals in the 3-1 Champions League last-16 first leg win over PSG on Wednesday.

The ex-Tottenham winger has won 12 trophies since joining Real including three Champions Leagues and La Liga.

 

 

Source: Express.co.uk

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Arsene Wenger Says Guardiola approached me about playing for Arsenal

Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger has revealed how Manchester City rival Pep Guardiola wanted to play for the Gunners.

Guardiola tried to make the move when leaving Barcelona.

The Frenchman praised his footballing philosophy.

“I have spoken to him on various occasions, one time he came to my house because he wanted to play for Arsenal,” said Wenger in an interview with beIN.

“He has had some exceptional teams and trained them very well. I respect what he does because he has a clear vision of the game and positive attitude and philosophy.

“Even if he doesn’t win because of it, I respect him for the influence that he has on the game.”

 

 

Source: Thesportreview.com

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Jose Mourinho calls Pogba speculation 'lies'

Man Utd boss Jose Mourinho has directly addressed speculation of a rift between himself and midfield ace Paul Pogba which has surfaced this week.

It follows on from some disappointing performances from the French international on the pitch, where he has been substituted in the last two away games, both of which ended in defeat to Tottenham and Newcastle United respectively.

That even led some to suggest that Pogba was regretting the decision to return to Old Trafford, as per The Mirror, which will undoubtedly have been a huge source of concern for supporters.

However, Mourinho has downplayed the entire situation as he blamed the media for creating lies which have effectively snowballed into a big issue.

Ultimately, more is expected of Pogba on the pitch as he is more than capable of being much more influential, but as far as his relationship with Mourinho goes, the Portuguese tactician is adamant that no problem exists.

“A big lie that our relation is not good, a big lie that we don’t communicate, a big lie that we don’t agree with his positions and his involvement in the dynamic of the team,” he told the media on Friday, as reported by ESPN.

“In the last couple of matches he didn’t play well. Period. End of story. Now, it’s my problem and Paul’s problem to deal with it and try to improve his performance level.

“It’s easy and honest and objective to say Paul didn’t play well against Newcastle but some of the guys are paid millions, don’t let people read things that are not true, you are paid to read the game and explain the game, don’t say bulls—.”

With that in mind, it would seem as though this is essentially down to Pogba’s form that is causing the issue. If the 24-year-old can get back to playing at a high level, regardless of position or role on the pitch, then he will undoubtedly start to silence those who claim there is unrest within the camp at Old Trafford.

This weekend’s FA Cup tie with Huddersfield may give him that opportunity, but he’s without a goal or an assist in his last four Premier League games, and so his league form needs to improve too to put this matter to bed.

Having excelled on the left of a midfield three at Juventus, it’s obvious where Pogba’s strengths lie and so a case could be made to suggest Mourinho is creating this issue himself by not playing one of his best players in his most effective role.

On the other side of that argument, Pogba is a world-class player, and so it shouldn’t matter what role or position he’s asked to play, he has to deliver. Perhaps a balance between the two will need to be reached.

 

 

Source: Caughtoffside.com

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Is Cristiano Ronaldo a Liverpool fan? Or does he just hate Porto?

FC Porto 0 – Liverpool 5

History was made in Porto on Wednesday night in the Champions League.

Liverpool scored five times against the former UCL champions, thereby inflicting the biggest home defeat Porto have ever suffered in their long Champions League history.

The star of the show for the Reds was Sadio Mane, who scored a hat-trick in Portugal.

Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino also found the target as Liverpool virtually booked their spot in the quarterfinals.

Is Cristiano Ronaldo a Liverpool fan?

On Thursday, Georgina Rodriguez has posted two new videos on her Instagram channel.

In the clips, Real Madrid superstar Cristiano Ronaldo is spotted playing his new game: ball in the hole!

However Liverpool fans will surely be more interested in what was playing on Ronaldo’s TV at the time.

The day after Real Madrid beat PSG 3-1 in the Champions League, Cristiano was watching a replay of the Liverpool win in Porto.

So is Cristiano revealing he’s a Liverpool fan?

Or, alternatively, as a former Sporting CP graduate, is Ronaldo revelling in Porto’s heavy loss?

Cristiano Ronaldo vs PSG

Ronaldo was the headline maker for Madrid against PSG.

PSG took the lead at the Santiago Bernabeu in the first half through Adrien Rabiot.

Cristiano Ronaldo levelled just before the break from the penalty spot, while Los Blancos scored two late goals to seal the win.

Ronaldo scored his second with a close range rebound off his knee, before a Marcelo scored with a deflected shot.

So the tie dead? Or can PSG comeback in the second leg in France in two week time?

 

Source: 101 GREAT GOALS

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Neymar Says: I'm happy at PSG

As he continues to be linked with a move to Real Madrid, Neymar said he was happy at Paris Saint-Germain.

Paris Saint-Germain star Neymar insisted he was happy with the Ligue 1 giants amid persistent links to Real Madrid.

Neymar and PSG suffered a 3-1 loss to Madrid in the first leg of their Champions League last-16 tie at the Santiago Bernabeu on Wednesday.

The Brazil international has been linked with a stunning move to Madrid despite only joining PSG in a world-record €222million switch from Barcelona last year.

But, speaking after the first leg, Neymar said he was happy at PSG, where he is contracted until 2022.

“I have a contract with PSG. I am happy with my team-mates and I only think about my story here,” he told reporters, via Sport.

PSG are facing a huge battle to advance to the Champions League quarter-finals after their first-leg loss.

But Neymar hopes they can deliver in the return leg in Paris on March 6.

“Nothing is decided. There is another game at home, in front of our fans, which will be very hard, like the one in Madrid,” he said.

“But I hope we can do it.”

 

 

Source: Fourfourtwo.com

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Alexandre Lacazette to miss crucial six weeks after knee operation

Alexandre Lacazette is set to be out for between four and six weeks after having knee surgery, Arsenal have revealed.

The France international underwent an arthroscopy on his left knee on Tuesday, with the Gunners understanding the minor operation to have been “a success”.

But the injury comes at a crucial juncture for Arsenal, who have important fixtures in the Europa League, Premier League and EFL Cup all on the horizon.

Lacazette could miss a total of seven games across all competitions if he is ultimately out for six weeks.

Among those fixtures are the two Europa League last-32 contests with Ostersunds, plus a Manchester City double-header in the EFL Cup final and league.

It is also likely he will be unable to feature in France’s next two international friendlies against Colombia and Russia on March 23 and 27, respectively, as Didier Deschamps intensifies his preparation for the upcoming World Cup.

The injury has come at a particularly inopportune moment for Lacazette and Arsenal, as Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s ineligibility in the Europa League meant the former Lyon man was likely to lead the line against Ostersunds.

The two-legged affair against the Swedish side would have represented a fine chance to rediscover his touch in front of goal, having been demoted to second-choice since Aubameyang’s arrival and scoring just twice in all competitions since the start of December.

But he could now be out of action for Arsenal until the start of April.

 

 

Source: Fourfourtwo.com

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Joey Barton Says Jose Mourinho NOT the right manager for Man Utd

Jose Mourinho is not the right manager for Manchester United.

That is the view of pundit and former Burnley midfielder Joey Barton.

Mourinho endured another miserable afternoon at St James’ Park yesterday as his United side were beaten 1-0 by Newcastle.

The Portuguese coach has failed to ever win at the stadium.

And the defeat means his side have all-but conceded the Premier League title to neighbours Manchester City, who sit 16 points clear at the top.

Speaking after the defeat, Barton slammed the former Chelsea boss, insisting he is not the right man to sit in the Old Trafford hot seat.

“I don’t think he fits, I don’t think he’s the right fit for him,” he said on talkSPORT this morning.

“I don’t think the United fans – every time there’s a negative performance, a negative result – United fans: ‘this isn’t the United way, we don’t play like this, he’s not our kind of manager’.

“I don’t think he’s done anything to endear himself with the United faithful, I don’t think it’s a perfect fit.”

But Mourinho wasn’t the only one to face Barton’s criticism.

“Ed Woodward, the chief executive’s a space cadet,” he continued.

“The fact he’s got himself in a Dutch auction and given [Alexis] Sanchez the money he’s given Sanchez.

“I think they pay over the top all the time for players.

“I think if it was David Gill, that regime, the attraction of playing for Man United was the big thing.”

United will be hoping to get back on track when they take on Huddersfield in the FA Cup on Saturday.

 

 

Source: Express.co.uk

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Van Nistelrooy will be regarded as one of Manchester United's greatest goal scorers

But despite netting 95 times for the club, his time at Old Trafford will forever be tarnished after it was revealed why his time under Sir Alex Ferguson came to an end.

It was believed that van Nistelrooy’s spell at United ended because of his antics during the 2006 Carling Cup final. The player reportedly swore at Ferguson after he wasn’t used as a substitute against Wigan Athletic.

Shortly after that incident with Ferguson, the prolific Dutchman signed for Real Madrid and the rest is history.

But 11 years after his departure from Old Trafford, a segment from a book released by former Labour communications chief Alastair Campbell has revealed another possible reason behind his departure and it involves Cristiano Ronaldo.

Campbell, who is a good friend of Sir Alex Ferguson, said that Fergie told him about van Nistelrooy’s departure, noting how difficult the Dutch forward was to manage.

As reported by the Times, Campbell’s book said the following about van Nistelrooy’s departure:
“The last straw was when he told Cristiano Ronaldo he had found a new dad in Carlos [Queiroz, Ferguson’s assistant] just after Ronaldo’s dad, who was an alcoholic, had died.”

“Carlos asked him to show respect and he said he didn’t respect anyone there. He later apologised but CR was not having it.

“Alex sent Van Nistlerooy home when he heard about it later. He was not sure what he was going to do with him.” Campbell wrote.

van Nistelrooy went onto play for Real Madrid, Hamburg and Malaga before retiring in 2012, but his time at Manchester United is arguably his best stint in football.

The Dutchman has played with the likes of Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes, ZInedine Zidane, Raul, Clarence Seedorf, Patrick Kluivert, to name but a few.

But his United career reportedly ended on bad terms. Thoughts on van Nistelrooy’s actions?

 

 

Source: Thesportbible.com

0 45
Wayne Rooney targets Everton manager role

Wayne Rooney wants to manage Everton following the conclusion of his playing career.

Rooney returned to boyhood side Everton last July after 13 years at Manchester United, where he won five Premier League titles, the 2007-08 Champions League and became the club’s record scorer.

But Rooney has not been a guaranteed starter for the Toffees since the appointment of Sam Allardyce as Ronald Koeman’s successor at Goodison Park.

And the 32-year-old is already planning the next move in a distinguished career that saw him captain England and hit a record 53 goals in 119 international appearances.

“The main thing I want to have a go at is management,” Rooney told the Telegraph.

“I would love to stay at Everton in a coaching role or hopefully manager one day.

“It is something I want to do, to stay involved, but if that is not possible I will look to see where the opportunities are for me. I am determined to become a manager.

“From next season I want to be doing some coaching sessions with the Under-14s at Everton. It would be good to have all my [coaching] badges by the time I have finished [playing], but it is also about having the chance to carry on when I have, so I can get straight into coaching.”

A switch to the dugout is not imminent for Rooney, who has hit 10 Premier League goals for Everton this term to top the club’s goal charts, although scoring against Liverpool at Anfield ticked off one of his remaining career goals.

“Obviously my first objective is to do well as a player over the next few years,” Rooney added. “Then I hope the role can grow into something beyond that. It is something I will talk about with the club when they and I feel the time is right.

“There were things I had been dreaming of I had not done for Everton. What I really regretted was I had not scored against Liverpool for Everton. I did it for Manchester United but as a youngster it was never a dream of mine to score at Anfield for Manchester United.

“I was an Everton fan, so as a young Everton fan I was dreaming of scoring at Anfield for Everton. When I came back I was thinking about the chance to do that. So to do it this year fulfilled that.”

 

 

Source: Fourfourtwo.com

0 96
Neymar defies the snow

As the snow gripped much of Europe over the course of the week, Neymar defied the cold weather ahead of the Champions League clash between Paris Saint-Germain and Real Madrid.

After returning to full training on Friday morning, the former Barcelona star seemed unfazed by the cold despite being used to warmer weather in his native Brazil.

In a picture uploaded to his official twitter account, Neymar dressed in a Santa hat and red shorts in the snow.

 

 

Source: Marca.com

0 66
Neymar can earn almost half a million euros for each social media post

New analysis of Neymar’s sponsorship earning potential show how the Paris Saint-Germain player is a money making machine.

On top of his 37 million euro annual salary for turning out in Ligue 1, the Brazilian is thought to make 459,000 euros for each advertisement across Twitter, Instagram and beyond, according to new analysis by Blinkfire.

“If we take into account all the content published in January by Neymar, we estimate a total value of 34 million euros,” wrote Blinkfire commercial director Christian Olivares in Le Parisien. “This amount is what a brand should spend on advertising to achieve the same level of exposure.”

This trend is only set to grow, as the winger’s following continues to soar with 88.8 million on Instagram, 60 million on Facebook and a further 37.6 million on Twitter.

“A 459,000 euro fee for a post sponsored by Neymar would be the amount that a brand should be paying for an advertisement during a World Cup final,” added president of Havas Sport & Entertainment Stephen Guerry.

 

 

Source: Marca.com

0 36
Yaya Toure wants to carry on playing in England

Manchester City midfielder Yaya Toure has insisted he has no plans to leave England, or Europe, after reportedly turning down a big-money move to China.

Toure, 34, was offered a £430,000-per-week contract by an unnamed Chinese Super League club, according to the Manchester Evening News.

And with his contract at Manchester City up at the end of the season, many had expected the Ivorian to move on during the January transfer window.

But with the window now closed, Toure appears hopeful of a new contract with the Citizens or another English club after saying he is “too young” for China.

“Me to China? No….I’m still looking young, right?” he is quoted by the Mirror.

“I want to play in Europe, especially in England. I want to continue doing that for a few years yet.

“It’s my idea to stay in England, I always say that if I went to China I would end up feeling angry there. Do you play football because you love football – or do you play because you want to make money? What’s the purpose?

“Me, I just want to play football because I enjoy it, I love playing. I enjoy helping my team-mates, I enjoy playing against the big players and teams.

“I want to carry on in that way. Some people have the mentality that they want to do that – to try something different. But for me, my feeling is that I want to play more football.”

Toure has played just 11 times across all competitions for City this season and his relationship with manager Pep Guardiola has not been plain sailing; comments made by the player’s agent led to period in which Guardiola was frozen out until an apology was made.

Toure’s declining playing time at Manchester City
Originally signed from Barcelona in 2010, Toure became a key player for City in their title winning campaigns of 2011/12 and 2013/14.

Yaya Toure wants to carry on playing in England

Especially impressive under Manuel Pellegrini, Toure averaged 0.62 goals per 90 minutes, playing 35 games during 2013/14 as City beat Liverpool to the title. He is one of only two central midfielders in Premier League history to score 20+ goals in a single season, the other being Frank Lampard.

The Ivorian continued his promising displays with Pellegrini, winning over half of his total duels the following season – his best return over the past five years.

But following the appointment of Guardiola, who originally sold him to City, Toure started being phased out, and moved down the Spaniard’s pecking order.

However, the midfielder did then build himself back up, winning 1.30 tackles per 90 in 22 starts last season.

This season Toure has managed just 94 minutes spread across five games in the Premier League with City running away at the top of the table.

 

 

Source: Squawka.com

0 29
Mohamed Salah ignoring Real Madrid links

Liverpool star Mohamed Salah says he likes La Liga’s style of football, but does not want to comment on rumours linking him to Real Madrid as he is happy at Anfield.

Egypt international Salah, 25, has been a revelation since his £34 million arrival from Roma last summer, with 28 goals in 34 games for Jurgen Klopp’s side, including five in the Champions League.

He scored twice in Sunday’s 2-2 draw with Tottenham Hotspur, making him the quickest player to 20 Premier League goals for Liverpool. Salah did it in 23 games, and the last Liverpool player to do it quicker in top-flight football was Fred Pagnam in 1915.

That form has led to speculation that Madrid could target Salah next summer, with Egypt coach Hector Cuper suggesting a move to the Bernabeu would suit the player.

Salah told Marca that he could not comment on what Cuper had said and stressed he was happy at Anfield.

“I don’t have much to say about that,” Salah said. “If I must say anything, it is that I am happy at Liverpool.”

Liverpool have lost Luis Suarez and Philippe Coutinho to Barcelona in recent seasons, but Salah is ignoring links with a move to La Liga.

“For the moment I am here [in England],” he said. “I want to focus on my team, and to end the season very well. I love the Premier League, the football here.

“Last year I did well at Roma but this year I am scoring more goals. I want to help the team to win trophies or be in a good position in the league, in my head I’m trying to do that. I [also] want to help my national team to get out of their group at the World Cup. These are my objectives for now, then we will see.”

Having also played for Basel, Chelsea and Fiorentina during a roaming career so far, Salah did say he enjoyed watching Spanish football.

“I watch some games, not always, as sometimes it coincides with Liverpool games,” he said. “It is a good league, of course, with top teams, and the style of play is very attractive.”

The height of Salah’s ambition is shown when asked if he has thought of winning the Ballon d’Or.

“In football you never know,” he responded. “That is the biggest dream, if I achieve it I will have reached the top. But I have already told you my objectives for this season.”

Salah said that he was missing the “incredible” Coutinho, who in January moved to Barca in a €160m deal.

“I miss him — he was my friend, a very nice kid,” he said. “I wish him all the best at Barcelona as he is an incredible player, with a lot of quality. He is a relaxed person. I am very proud of having played alongside him.”

 

 

Source: ESPN

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