Tag Archives: Sport

Sven Botman’s agent speak on Liverpool’s interest.

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Liverpool were reluctant to dip into the transfer market for defenders in January and had always targeted the summer of 2021 to set about finding options at the back for the long-term.

The agent of rumoured Liverpool target Sven Botman has denied any truth to fresh claims from France alleging the Lille defender has been sold to an unnamed Premier League club for up to £39m, branding it ‘fake news’.

Liverpool were persistently linked with Botman throughout December, although in early January reporterJames Pearce debunked such claims when he insisted the club were not considering a move and suggested the rumours of interest were artificial in the hope of building hype.

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As the end of the January transfer window neared and Liverpool’s centre-back crisis worsened, the 21-year-old Dutchman was again linked.

But the Reds went with a loan for Ozan Kabak and a small transfer fee for Ben Davies instead, rather than pay a vast amount for Botman.

Sven Botman has been heavily linked with Liverpool | Sylvain Lefevre/Getty Images

Botman has been a regular for Lille this season since joining from Ajax last summer, with the Ligue 1 club currently leading the way in France and determined to wrestle the title away from PSG.

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It was French broadcaster Canal+ that claimed over the weekend that Lille have agreed a fee with an-named Premier League club in the region of £35m to £39m.

Liverpool were not mentioned but the previous speculation was enough to focus the reaction on them.

However, agent Nikkie Bruinenberg has told Dutch outlet Voetbalzone that it is not true.

Bruinenberg, who works for the Muy Manero agency that represents Botman, described the French claims about a done deal as ‘fake news’.

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Liverpool were reluctant to dip into the transfer market for defenders in January and had always targeted the summer of 2021 to set about finding options at the back for the long-term.

Manchester United, Chelsea and Tottenham are the other members of the Premier League ‘big six’ in the market for centre-back reinforcements this summer.

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Mourinho’s contract at Tottenham includes ‘no break.’

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Mourinho took over in November 2019 after the club sacked Mauricio Pochettino and to date, he has won 38 of his 73 matches in charge of the club, drawing 15 and losing 20.

It has been revealed that José Mourinho’s Tottenham contract does not include an early break clause, with the club in the midst of a torrid run of form.

Spurs were condemned to their seventh Premier League defeat of the season at Manchester City on Saturday, beaten 3-0 by Pep Guardiola’s table-topping side.

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The Lilywhites, who were top of the pile earlier on this season, currently find themselves ninth in the Premier League and knocked out of the FA Cup by Everton. Understandably, the pressure has increased on their Portuguese coach in recent weeks.

While Spurs are struggling for results at the moment, concerns over their negative style of play have led to increased frustration with the job the 58-year-old is doing.

Mourinho took over in November 2019 after the club sacked Mauricio Pochettino and to date, he has won 38 of his 73 matches in charge of the club, drawing 15 and losing 20.

Sacking Mourinho would be costly for Spurs | TIM KEETON/Getty Images

His current contract in north London is due to run until June 2023 and according to The Athletic’s David Ornstein, there is no clause whereby the club’s hierarchy can part ways with Mourinho early unless he is sacked.

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Sacking the former Chelsea and Manchester United boss would mean paying him off, and given it’s rumoured he is on a very lucrative £15m-a-year contract, at a time like this – without the matchday revenue Spurs would earn under normal circumstances – Daniel Levy is likely to be even more reluctant to let his manager go.

So like him or loathe him Spurs fans, it looks like you’re stuck with him for the time being at least.

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‘I will come back way stronger than ever’ – Dani Cavajal

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Another period of injury recovery awaits for Dani Carvajal, whose return only lasted 25 minutes against Valencia on Sunday.


Despite suffering a new issue that could see him miss two months, the right-back is remaining optimistic and positive.

“I told some of my teammates that on Saturday night I had butterflies in my stomach and that I was anxious to come back to do what I’m passionate about,” he said as he shared a social media post on Monday, after it had been revealed that he has a muscle injury in his right thigh affecting the tendon.

“I had worked really hard over the past few weeks…

“Now, it’s time to deal with this latest setback and to start a new countdown to be able to return and have these special feelings.

“I just want to communicate one message: I will come back better and stronger than ever.

“Thank you for all the messages of support.”

Due to four different injury issues, the Spaniard has only been able to play in 12 official matches so far in 2020/21.


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Cavajal out to Hamstring injury and would miss Atalanta’s Clash

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Dani Carvajal to miss Real Madrid’s first leg against Atalanta due to muscle injury


25 minutes. That’s how long Real Madrid right-back Dani Carvajal could play after making his return from injury during Sunday’s match against Valencia. The defender suffered a hamstring injury which forced him to leave the game, being replaced by Lucas Vazquez.

The first reports from club sources indicate that Carvajal suffers a hamstring injury on his right leg and that he will undergo tests to reveal the extend of said injury today. The defender seems all but ruled out for Real Madrid’s upcoming clash against Atalanta in the first leg of their Champions League tie in the Round of 16 and it’s likely that he eventually misses the crucial return leg as well, given how tricky these injuries have been for Carvajal all season long.

With Odriozola and Militao also injured, Lucas Vazquez seems ready to be Zidane’s choice to play at the right-back spot, given that Nacho is playing well at the center-back position in Ramos’ absence.


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Risky enough? Pique to face PSG

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On November 21, 2020, Gerard Pique suffered an injury when he collided with Angel Correa during a match against Atletico Madrid and it immediately looked serious. However, he is now ready to return against Paris Saint-Germain on Tuesday night.


A knee ligament injury is always a serious issue, but Pique’s ailment was clearly a painful one as the defender left the pitch in tears.

Initial reports suggested his season might well be over, but the official medical report of the club didn’t actually specify how long he would be sidelined for.

Pique has been sensational in his recovery, breaking all the records for rehabilitation time, with it initially estimated he could miss as many as eight months of action.

Yet, Pique is ready to play against the French champions and he hasn’t even been out for three whole months, which was the lowest estimated time of absence for his injury.

It’s known that training isn’t the same as competitive football at the elite level and that Pique is taking a risk by returning so early from such a serious knee injury. Yet he hasn’t felt any pain this past week and has been training since Thursday.

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He will be in the squad to face PSG unless a new complication arrives.

Ronald Koeman is acutely aware of the risk that comes with playing Pique, although, given the fact much of the club’s season hopes depend on the Champions League, the Dutch coach may not have much of a choice.

Eliminating PSG would mark an incredible turn of events after such a difficult season, with basically the worst possible pre-season preparation prior to it.

There will be no Angel di Maria or Neymar for Mauricio Pochettino, yet with Kylian Mbappe still present Pique is likely to have a difficult night.

If he’s at his best, though, then he could shut the PSG attacks down and that in itself is why Barcelona are on board with taking the risk on him returning early.


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Luis Suarez could leave Atletico this Summer

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When Atletico Madrid signed Luis Suarez last summer, the club spent time working on all the details of the striker’s two-year contract.


There are various clauses in it – such as the ones for bonuses related to goal tallies, with the player already having hit a target of 15 goals and just four away from another target of 20.

Yet one of the other clauses could actually affect his future, as there is a clause in the Uruguayan’s contract that would allow him to leave Atletico Madrid on June 30 for free.

However, the 34-year-old has no intention of triggering this because he is happy in the team and likes working with Diego Simeone.

As such, Atletico Madrid are not concerned about this clause. They’re just happy to have a world-class striker, one who seems motivated to prove to Barcelona that they were wrong to let him leave for a domestic rival.

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Suarez is enjoying an exceptional run of form and is determined to keep scoring the goals that will likely fire Atletico Madrid to the 2020/21 LaLiga Santander title.

As well as putting the ball in the net, Suarez has shown that he can be a leader of this team.

There is, therefore, nobody at the Estadio Wanda Metropolitano who doubts that Suarez will stay for the second year of his deal.


The precedent of David Villa
Suarez’s campaign has been compared to that of David Villa, when he swapped Barcelona for Atletico Madrid in the summer of 2013 and won the title with Simeone.

Villa adapted well, scored goals and won LaLiga Santander, but he didn’t fulfil the full three years of his contract. Instead, he departed after just one year to join New York City.

Atleti, though, believe the ending with Suarez will be different and that he’ll ignore the clause that would allow him to depart in the summer of 2021.


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Koeman Praises Dembele

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Ousmane Dembele has turned things around completely at Barcelona, with Ronald Koeman reserving special praise for the Frenchman’s attitude.

Ousmane Dembele


In recent weeks, Dembele has put together the consistency that has always been missing from his game and his progress is the result of hard work.

“Much of Dembele’s change is down to the player,” Koeman said in a press conference on Monday.

“He is the one who has to work hard and he’s done that.

“It’s important to be both physically and mentally strong in order to face the pressure that there is here.”

“The coach has to try to create a good atmosphere in the squad and organise the right training sessions.

“Physically, Dembele isn’t the only one who has improved. That’s important in terms of having quality.”

Koeman is right. It’s not only Dembele, as a number of other players have also benefitted from the Dutchman’s approach of late.

Dembele will be a key figure for the Cules in their Champions League tie with Paris Saint-Germain and could help Lionel Messi overcome an injury-hit Parisian outfit.


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Kamaru Usman extends UFC reign after ‘Gilbert Burns knockout.’

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It is also the longest-ever winning streak for a welterweight in the UFC, surpassing the 12-0 by Canada’s former champ Georges St-Pierre, arguably the greatest fighter the sport has seen.

Nigerian-American Kamaru Usman blasted away challenger Gilbert Burns on Saturday and extended his seemingly impregnable reign at the top of the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) welterweight division with a third-round knockout at UFC 258 in Las Vegas.

“This is my cage,” Usman said afterwards. “I’m the undisputed welterweight champion for a reason. I am the best on the planet for a reason. I’m here to stay.”

The bout started with the Brazilian Burns rushing the champion in the center of the cage, landing a huge right to the temple with a minute gone that left Usman wobbling.

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But Usman dusted himself off, his rapier-like left jab found its mark, and the champion found his range with some massive rights of his own before the TKO was called with 34 seconds of the third round gone.

It was a straight right that put Burns on his back then, and Usman rained down the blows before referee Herb Dean made the call.

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“He caught me in the first round,” said Usman. “I thought: ‘Let’s go to work now’.”

The victory took his lifetime record to 18-1, and the 33-year-old dubbed the “Nigerian Nightmare” is now 13-0 in the UFC the longest active winning streak across all divisions in the world’s leading mixed martial arts promotion.

It is also the longest-ever winning streak for a welterweight in the UFC, surpassing the 12-0 by Canada’s former champ Georges St-Pierre, arguably the greatest fighter the sport has seen.

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Saturday’s effort showcased the skill set that has taken Usman to the top.

Burns came to MMA after winning multiple world titles in Brazilian jiu-jitsu, and Usman looked to keep the action standing.

Burns had said coming into the fight that he had developed the power to match Usman on his feet and the first blow backed the claim.

But a slip then found the Brazilian on his back and Usman used the time to recover, recalibrate, and then come out with all guns blazing.

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Saturday’s 10-fight card was the first pay-per-view event the UFC has hosted at its Las Vegas headquarters this year, after its UFC 257 card was staged inside the “Fight Island” complex in Abu Dhabi last month.

The UFC’s Apex facility in Las Vegas remains fan-free with strict protocols being enforced as the United States continues to struggle with the coronavirus pandemic.

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Hakim Ziyech ready to exit Chelsea.

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He rarely completed the full 90 minutes even when he did start, and although Tuchel’s arrival was the chance for a fresh opportunity, early indications are that he is not an integral part of the German’s plans.

Chelsea winger Hakim Ziyech is ready to leave Stamford Bridge in the summer if he continues to play a peripheral role under Thomas Tuchel, a new report has claimed.

The 27-year-old joined the Blues in the summer of 2020, but injuries have hampered his ability to nail down a regular starting berth. Ziyech has made just 11 Premier League appearances to date, and has not featured in the top flight since he started Tuchel’s first game in charge – the 0-0 draw with Wolves.

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Now, Corriere dello Sport claim that Ziyech is ready to end his disappointing spell in the Premier League, with teams in Italy lining up to make a move for him in the summer.

AS Roma and Milan have both shown interest in the former Ajax star in the past, and could take advantage of his unsettled status to try and get a deal done.

For Ziyech, a departure would end what’s been a fairly miserable time in England so far, where his repeated injuries and inability to fit into certain tactical setups have seen him slide down the pecking order at Chelsea.

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Initially a favourite under Lampard once he’d overcome injury, Ziyech soon slipped out of the side and onto the bench as the Blues strived for consistency.

Ziyech wants to leave Chelsea this summer | James Williamson – AMA/Getty Images

He rarely completed the full 90 minutes even when he did start, and although Tuchel’s arrival was the chance for a fresh opportunity, early indications are that he is not an integral part of the German’s plans.

The Moroccan has played just 82 minutes of a possible 360 Premier League minutes under the former PSG boss, which is a far cry from his dominating spell at Ajax – one that yielded a Dutch Footballer of the Year award, four successive nominations for the Eredivisie Team of the Season and four seasons finishing as the player with most assists.

Ziyech was also a regular goal getter in the Netherlands, bagging 49 goals for Ajax in 165 appearances.

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For Chelsea, he’s scored just twice in all competitions, and only once in thePremier League.

Chelsea’s mini-revival has coincided with Ziyech’s absence from the team, which may indicate that he’ll have little to no chance of earning a regular place in the team unless things dramatically change in west London.

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Julli Lopez: Only way Messi could stay? Sign Agüero!


Juli Lopez is the man who would be in charge of Barcelona’s sporting department if Victor Font wins the presential elections and he has spoken about a number of matters surrounding the Catalan club.


One of these is Lionel Messi’s future and Lopez believes it is important to convince the Argentine that there is a solid sporting project.

“The first thing is to make sure he can see that this team in the medium and long term will play in the way that he likes,” Lopez said of Messi in an interview with MARCA.

“Someone who he trusts will need to tell him this.

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“Who better to explain the project than his former teammate Xavi?

“A good project and someone he can trust are the two key ingredients to keep him at the club.”

Lopez was then asked if signing Sergio Aguero could be an argument to convince Messi to stay.

“Absolutely,” he replied.

“Barcelona need another goalscorer. Aguero wouldn’t be signed just so Messi stays. We’re talking about a top striker who wants to be playing top-level European football up to the World Cup in Qatar.

“He would bring a huge lift to the club and would play a huge role at Barcelona.”

Lopez was asked in general terms what makes Font’s project stand out.

“It’s the governing model and how decisions are made,” he said.

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“On a sporting level we are going to go with Xavi.

“There has to be a talented former player in the club’s sporting staff who knows how the club works. Johan Cruyff was first, then it was Pep Guardiola and now the key figure is Xavi.”

Finally, Lopez was asked if Barcelona will fight for the Champions League next season.

“I have complete confidence that they will,” he said.

“It’s true that the footballing side of things could be improved, but there’s no doubt that there’s a lot of talent in the squad.”


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Things Ramos will lose if he departs from Madrid


There’s no debate over Sergio Ramos’ legendary status at Real Madrid. However, if he pens a new deal in the coming weeks and sees out the rest of his career in the Spanish capital then he could statistically become the club’s number one player every category except goals.


He’s closing in on a few important records, but his future is still undecided.

If he leaves now, this is what he’d miss out on.

Player with most appearances
Ramos will almost definitely break the record for most appearances for Los Blancos if he renews his deal.

At the moment, he’s fourth on the all-time appearance list with 668 games played.

Ahead of him are Raul (741), Iker Casillas (725) and Manolo Sanchis (710).

Ramos would likely need to play for another year and a half to hold the record.


The player with most seasons completed
The central defender is also closing in on the record for most seasons completed in a Real Madrid shirt. He currently sits on 16 completed campaigns and would need to remain at the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu for two more to break the record of 18 held by Paco Gento and Miguel Angel.

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Most decorated player in the club’s history
This record could be broken without signing a new contract, although he would need to win a Champions League and LaLiga Santander double, which seems unlikely at the moment.

Ramos and Marcelo both boast 22 titles at Real Madrid, just one behind Paco Gento.

He could also become the player with most Champions League medals. He currently has four, but is two behind Gento.


Most seasons completed as captain
The longest-sitting captain in Real Madrid history is honorary president Gento, who held the armband for nine seasons. Chendo has eight as captain while Felix Quesada and Raul both have seven.

Ramos has held the honour for six seasons and would need to renew until 2024 to break this record, which seems unlikely given his current relationship with the club over his contract talks.


Most minutes in LaLiga Santander
He’s currently the player with the fifth most minutes played in LaLiga Santander.

He has played 43,900 minutes and is just 99 minutes behind Raul.

The only players with more are Casillas (45,684), Francisco Buyo (48,717 and Andoni Zubizarreta (55,746). He would need to play at least two more full seasons to break Zubizarreta’s record.


Captain in the new Bernabeu
The new Bernabeu stadium will be the crowning jewel of Real Madrid and Ramos could have the honour of being the club’s first captain in their newly redeveloped stadium.

It can’t be forgotten that, if he leaves now, he won’t be able to say goodbye to the fans due to the pandemic and no one would dispute the fact that Ramos deserves a huge send-off at Real Madrid.

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Age doesn’t counts for Suarez as he says he’s still hungry for goals


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Luis Suarez has insisted that he’s just as hungry for goals at the age of 34 as he has been at any stage in his footballing career.


The Uruguayan has been in fine form for Los Rojiblancos since signing from Barcelona and is currently top of the scoring charts in LaLiga Santander.

The veteran striker has been named the Mahou Jugador Cinco Estrellas for January – awarded to Atletico Madrid’s player of the month.

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“Strikers live to score goals, but what I try to do is help the team,” Suarez said upon receiving the award.

“Although I’m 34 now, I still have the same ambition.

“We’re on a good run of form and it’s important for us to keep going like that in order to achieve our goals.

“A striker can’t perform if he doesn’t have a team that does a great job.

“You try to help your team [as a striker]. Sometimes you score lots of goals and sometimes you go a few matches without one.

“But the important thing is that the team keeps picking up three points to get to our objective.”


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Koeman focuses more on Alaves than PSG

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Barcelona must negotiate a LaLiga encounter against Deportivo Alavés before their pivotal Champions League clash with Paris Saint-Germain.


Ronald Koeman insists the match in LaLiga between Barcelona and Deportivo Alavés is more important to him than discussing Paris Saint-Germain or Neymar.

A huge Champions League last-16 tie between Barça and PSG begins at Camp Nou on Tuesday and Neymar has been ruled out against his former club through injury.

But Barça boss Koeman stressed the home Alavés match on Saturday was most important to him because it is what comes next.

He also suggested he was considering squad rotation but would not make significant changes prior to the PSG game because he lacks options.

Copa del Rey defeat to Sevilla
Barça lost 2-0 to Sevilla last time out on Wednesday in the first leg of their Copa del Rey semi-final tie. It was their first defeat inside 90 minutes in 17 matches across all competitions.

But they have won seven and drawn one of their last eight LaLiga games with Alavés.

“I don’t think Neymar is an Alavés player,” Koeman said when asked about the injury to the PSG forward.

Focused on Alavés
“This is a question for Monday, not for today. I’m not talking about Neymar, I’m not talking about PSG.

“Saturday’s game is more important than Tuesday’s. We are going game by game and we want to continue our good streak.

“The result of the Sevilla game is there but we played a very good game. If we repeat the game, we do not lose.

“We dominated in many areas against Sevilla, but you also have to have a bit of luck. We need freshness, but the team is feeling very well.

“You don’t play a second half like we did in Seville if the team is not physically well.”

Defenders Gerard Piqué and Ronald Araújo are unlikely to be risked against Alavés.

Koeman added: “Sergino Dest, Miralem Pjanic and Martin Braithwaite have done something [in training on Friday].

Koeman not rushing back Piqué
“[On Saturday] there is training and we will decide if they are on the squad list.

“For Araújo or Piqué, I always believe in the margin of a risk. The objective is to recover players until the end of the season.

“If it is the last game of the season, you can risk more, but I am not in favour of risking a lot for a game.

“Those players have to recover well and step by step. If they are there and they can play, even better.”

On the prospect of rotation, he continued: “Of course there are players who have been playing for many minutes with us not having everyone available.

“You have to think about giving rest to those players to be well in the next game. [But] not many [will be rotated], because there is not much we can change either.

“We look at the players, we train and we will decide. By winning the game, you are always mentally less tired than when you don’t win.

“The goal is to win. But first you have to play and it will be difficult.”

The Alavés match will start a run of four consecutive home games and Koeman added: “It’s good to have back-to-back games at home because you save yourself traveling.

“We can rest more now and hopefully we will get players back to start having a very competitive squad again.

“It is good to see the youth team players and the youngsters play, but we need our more competitive players back.”

Lionel Messi has scored 10 goals against Alavés in LaLiga in as many appearances against them, including four in his last three.

If he plays against Alavés, he will equal the record held by Xavi for most Barça league appearances by playing in his 504th top-flight match.


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Sextuple battle: Guardiola’s Barca Vs Flick’s Bayern sets to face

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Bayern Munich became just the second team to ever win the sextuple on Thursday after securing the Club World Cup crown with a 1-0 victory over Tigres, but how do they match up compared to the team that first recorded that achievement?


Back in 2009, Pep Guardiola’s Barcelona side dominated Europe and then the world, with a similarly impressive squad to Hansi Flick’s Bayern team in 2020.


When Guardiola took charge of Barcelona in the summer of 2008, few – almost no one – would have thought that he would go on to achieve what he did with a group of unrepeatable players.

The Catalan coached looked towards La Masia and Barcelona’s DNA, insisting that his team were obsessed with controlling the ball. Guardiola built an unstoppable winning machine with this style.


A terrifying starting Xi
Some of the greatest players of all time all came together at the peak of their careers, led by Lionel Messi and coached by Guardiola.


As is so often the case, the most memorable feats often come almost unintentionally. And that is what happened to this Bayern side.

Hansi Flick took charge of a team that was seemingly adrift in November 2019 and, just a few months later, turned them into an unbeatable side.

Led by Robert Lewandowski, the Bavarians slaughtered anyone who got in their way in the Bundesliga and Champions League, with an incredible run of 19 consecutive wins and just one defeat.


Just 11 years after Barcelona won the first sextuple, the football world has a new predator who wanted it all and ended up achieving it. Bayern’s six trophies in one year with a very strong XI that dominated Europe will be remembered forever, and they also had one of the most memorable results ever, beating Barcelona 8-2.

Pep Guardiola, who went on to coach Bayern after leaving Barcelona, congratulated his former side on their accomplishment but also joked that his 2009 Barcelona team could face this 2020 Bayern side to win a seventh trophy, thus allowing one team to secure the septuple.

It is impossible to know how this game would have gone, but who do you think would win?


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Manchester United ‘eyes’ Raphael Varane.

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The same goes for Mings, who has been central to Aston Villa’s improvement this season, as well as the towering 21-year-old Carmo at Braga.

Manchester United have added Raphael Varane, Tyrone Mings and David Carmo to the shortlist of centre back options they are monitoring ahead of the summer transfer window.

Pau Torres, Dayot Upamecano, Jules Kounde are among their other existing targets for the position.

United are keen on landing a new centre back this year to act as a long-term partner for club captain Harry Maguire. Victor Lindelof has struggled to prove himself of the quality necessary to be a regular starter and Eric Bailly is once more battling fitness problems.

90min first revealed back in November that United see a central defender as one of their priorities in 2021.

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The Old Trafford club had admired Torres at Villarreal since last summer and he is at the top of the list.

There is also a feeling his time there could be coming to an end after becoming a regular international for Spain and a release clause just under £60m hasn’t put suitors off.

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Upamecano was also near the top of the list at one stage, although it was rumoured that United were starting to cool their interest when Bayern Munich began pursuing the player. Bayern have since entered positive early talks with the Frenchman’s representatives.

NoRM has also previously reported that United have been closely watching Kounde at Sevilla for many months, as well as Brighton’s Ben White and Leicester’s Caglar Soyuncu, as they thoroughly weigh up and assess plenty of possible options to make the best decision.

Even as a shorter term solution, United would be interested in Sergio Ramos should the 34-year-old leave Real Madrid this summer.

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However, getting burnt in pursuit of the Spaniard in the past means they would only make a serious approach if that interest was genuinely reciprocated.

The rest of the Premier League ‘Big Six’ have taken a similar view on Ramos, who is most likely to join PSG.

Varane has been heavily linked with United for years, but fresh doubts over the Frenchman’s future at Real Madrid has led ESPN to report that he also now one of the players Old Trafford officials are considering.

The same goes for Mings, who has been central to Aston Villa’s improvement this season, as well as the towering 21-year-old Carmo at Braga.

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Varane has less than 18 months left on his current contract at Real Madrid and a sale in 2021 is the only way Los Blancos could command a reasonable transfer fee for the World Cup winner, who could potentially leave the Bernabeu as a free agent in 2022 if he refuses to sign a new deal.

The 27-year-old will have spent ten full seasons at Real by the end of the current campaign, having joined from Lens as a teenager in 2011, and it has been reported in Spain there is a belief at the club he wants to move on and test himself elsewhere.

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#Newsworthy

Liverpool’s Fabinho ‘denied’ trip to Leicester.

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With Fabinho out, it seems safe to assume captain Jordan Henderson will retain a spot in the back line, but who will join him is another matter.

Liverpool may hand a debut to one of their deadline day signings in Saturday’s trip to Leicester as Jurgen Klopp confirmed Fabinho will miss the trip with a ‘little muscle issue.’

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Fabinho’s versatility has made him a key player for the Reds this season, frequently covering at centre back in the midst of the unprecedented injury crisis that has ruled Virgil van Dijk, Joe Gomez and now Joel Matip out for the season.

But the Brazilian has had problems of his own, having missed five league games this season due to minor injuries.

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He returned from a three-game absence to start against Man City at Anfield, but is set to miss out the trip to the King Power as Klopp confirmed in his press conference he has sustained another minor knock.

Fabinho has a minor injury | James Williamson – AMA/Getty Images

It is unclear if it is related to the problem that saw him sit out clashes with Spurs, West Ham and Brighton, but in any case it leaves the manager with a big decision to make at the back.

With Fabinho out, it seems safe to assume captain Jordan Henderson will retain a spot in the back line, but who will join him is another matter.

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Ozan Kabak would seem the favourite, as he made the squad for the first time against City, but it could equally be fellow new arrival Ben Davies.

He would bring some symmetry to the back line, as Liverpool don’t have another naturally left-sided centre back.

Nat Phillips is also available should Klopp look to play it safe, while Rhys Williams will also be vying to earn his way back into the team, having fallen down the pecking order as a result of the new arrivals.

Meanwhile, Klopp also confirmed the game will come too soon for Naby Keita or Diogo Jota.

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Fans have been anticipating the latter’s return to the team given the impact he made before his injury in December, but it will be another two to three weeks before he gets the chance to add to his nine Liverpool goals.

Keita could return sooner but is still believed to be a week or two away from match fitness.

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City’s Guardiola wins EPL ‘manager of the month.’

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The news completes a double for City as midfielder Ilkay Gundogan, who netted five goals in six appearances throughout January, lifted the player of the month award.

In a surprise to no-one given Manchester City’s incredible recent form, Pep Guardiola has been named Premier League manager of the month for January.

It was a season that promised to deliver an open title race until the death, but City have taken full advantage of faltering form from Liverpool and Manchester United to pull away from the chasing pack.

They sit five points clear at the top of the division with a game in hand at present and that is largely thanks to a perfect January that saw them pick up six consecutive victories.

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They started the month with a comprehensive 3-1 win over Chelsea at Stamford Bridge and Callum Hudson-Odoi’s late consolation would prove to be the only goal they would concede for the entire month.

They won their next five matches by an aggregate scoreline of 13-0, brushing aside a quarter of the division with minimal fuss to assert themselves as the clear favourites to win the league for the third time in Guardiola’s tenure.

The news completes a double for City as midfielder Ilkay Gundogan, who netted five goals in six appearances throughout January, lifted the player of the month award.

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He has become a favourite of Guardiola’s in recent weeks and was in the thick of it as City started 2021 with a bang.

Despite a faltering start to the season, Guardiola’s team are beginning to look more and more like the side who romped to successive league titles in 2018 and 2019.

Guardiola was named best boss for January | Michael Steele/Getty Images

They were virtually unbeatable for those two seasons, registering 100 and 98 points respectively – then the two highest totals ever recorded.

They won just two of their first five games this season and were in the bottom half of the table as recently as November.

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But they have taken 38 points from their last 42 available and look on course to charge to yet another title.

Guardiola fought off competition from David Moyes, Mikel Arteta, and Graham Potter to win the January award.

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Pochettino discuss Messi’s way to PSG.

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Players can talk and can say what they want. They do so from feelings, just as Real Madrid and Barcelona players do. ..

Mauricio Pochettino has insisted PSG have shown no lack of respect by talking about their desire to sign Lionel Messi from Barcelona on a free transfer in the summer.

Messi handed in a transfer request in the summer of 2020 following Barcelona’s chaotic season on and off the pitch. His lofty release clause meant he was unable to force an exit, but the Argentinian’s contract expires in June 2021, enabling him to leave the club for nothing.

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PSG are considered one of the few clubs in world football who possess the financial muscle to land the six-time Ballon d’Or winner, and both players and members of the club’s hierarchy have discussed the possibility of signing Messi in recent weeks. This has been criticised by Barcelona manager Ronald Koeman and presidential candidate Joan Laporta.

PSG have not lacked respect by speaking about Messi according to Pochettino | Fran Santiago/Getty Images

Pochettino himself has always remained diplomatic regarding the rumours, and insists no harm was meant by his colleague’s comments.

“When a player speaks, he is talking out of affection, excitement and friendship,” the PSG boss said. “There’s no controversial issue that has been generated by the club. At no time has there been a lack of respect or gone against a situation that is not the correct one.

“Players can talk and can say what they want. They do so from feelings, just as Real Madrid and Barcelona players do. They can talk about teammates that are at other clubs.”

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PSG sporting director Leonardo began stoking the flames in January when he stated that players like Messi ‘will always be on PSG’s list’. Laporta – who has had the future of Messi front and centre of his presidential campaign – hit back with a dig at PSG’s financial fair play record.

Messi’s international teammate Angel Di Maria admitted that he ‘hopes’ the diminutive forward signs for PSG – comments that Koeman criticised for having a ‘lack of respect’.

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Mourinho speak on Alli’s major distraction.

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Alli returned to the Spurs first team squad for their FA Cup thriller against Everton, playing the final 13 minutes of normal time plus extra time as Mourinho’s side lost 5-4.

Jose Mourinho has admitted that it is possible Dele Alli was distracted by rumours linking him with a move away from Tottenham in January.

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Mourinho had made it his mission to recapture Alli’s previous form when he took the Spurs hot seat in November 2019, with his famous ‘are you Dele or Dele’s brother?’ quip.

However, the England international has since found himself frozen out of the Spurs first team, featuring just four times in the Premier League during the 2020/21 campaign.

He was linked with a reunion with former boss Mauricio Pochettino at PSG in January, but Spurs blocked the move – a decision that, as revealed by NoRM‘s known Media, left Alli furious.

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“There’s nothing to speak about anymore,” Mourinho told the Evening Standard. “It’s possible that he was distracted, yeah.

Mourinho has admitted transfer talk may have distracted Alli | Visionhaus/Getty Images

“It depends on the player’s mentality, how much the player is influenced by and follows the media and social media. I don’t know in his personal case. But I was expecting that this story is over. Now it’s about him working to be back in the team, to have minutes.”

Alli returned to the Spurs first team squad for their FA Cup thriller against Everton, playing the final 13 minutes of normal time plus extra time as Mourinho’s side lost 5-4.

He last started in the Premier League on the opening day of the season against Everton, and Mourinho has called on Alli to make his case for his inclusion in the Spurs starting XI on the pitch.

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“When you are on the pitch, you have to show how good you are and how much you deserve to play,” the Tottenham boss added. “It’s very simple. So in this moment, everything is normal with him. He’s fit, he’s training.”

Alli will be attempting to force his way into the Spurs squad ahead of Saturday’s trip to highflying Manchester City – a side they beat 2-0 back in the heady days of November.

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Tuchel settles to give Kepa fresh start at Chelsea.

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..circumstances of his transfer are a little bit on his shoulders. That was the impression from far away, from outside.

Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel has insisted he has complete faith in goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga, who he believes can prove himself as a top shot stopper once again.

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An abysmal 2019/20 campaign, in which Kepa posted a historically low save percentage, saw then-manager Frank Lampard push for the signing of new goalkeeper Edouard Mendy, who has impressed since his £22m move from Rennes.

Mendy has been Tuchel’s go-to goalkeeper, but the boss confirmed that Kepa will be given a chance to prove himself with an appearance in Thursday’s FA Cup fifth round tie with Barnsley.

“He will play [against Barnsley],” said Tuchel. “From outside, of course we had a view on his situation and some difficulties on the sporting side. Maybe, also, the circumstances of his transfer are a little bit on his shoulders. That was the impression from far away, from outside.

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“The good thing for him is that we start new, that this is a new start for him because I don’t have a history with him and I hope there will be no difficulties and I don’t see them coming. Today, I absolutely believe [he can turn things around].”

Thomas Tuchel will give Kepa Arrizabalaga a fresh start | Clive Rose/Getty Images

There is a belief that the Chelsea hierarchy would like Tuchel to give Kepa another chance. Lampard’s reluctance to do so contributed to his dismissal from Stamford Bridge in January, but director Marina Granovskaia has personally involved herself to try and keep Kepa happy.

Granovskaia took time out of her summer break to sit down with Kepa to offer her support and to try and find a way back for the Spaniard, who cost a world record £72m when he arrived from Athletic Club in 2018.

“It applies for Kepa because it applies for every player, no matter whether we bought him for crazy money or he came from the academy, or was a free agent,” Tuchel continued. “It is our job to push the guy to the limit.

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“And we are pretty selfish because we want to have them in the best shape on the pitch. Of course, the club want the market value to stay or increase but for me it is pretty selfish, we want the guy in the best shape and we want the best competition in any position.

“From inside, I see a nice guy, a nice personality, an open personality. A hard working guy with, obviously, a lot of quality. He deserves to be here. He’s a sports guy who loves competition, he does everything to impress in training.”

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Trent Alexander-Arnold speak on his recent moves.

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With his performances over the last two seasons, many have credited the Liverpool pair for evolving the full-back role

Liverpool defender Trent Alexander-Arnold has admitted that he’s going through a bad spell of form this season, and has described it as ‘something new’.

The Reds have struggled for consistent form this season and the champions currently sit in fourth position in the Premier League ahead of a weekend clash with Leicester City.

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Much of the club’s success over the last three years has stemmed from the exceptional form of their full-backs Andrew Robertson and Alexander-Arnold, but both have struggled this season and as a result Liverpool have struggled to reach their previous heights.

Speaking exclusively to ESPN Brasil, via Sport Witness, the 22-year-old admitted that he wasn’t having the best of seasons but believes results are the most important thing and the performances will follow.

“Probably it’s been a spell of bad form that I haven’t had before. So it’s new. But I think really, for me, I set targets in levels and I have expectations in myself. If I don’t meet them then and I’m not happy. I want to be better than I am. I haven’t been able to meet them so far this season but we’ve only just passed the halfway stage, so there’s still a long way to go.”

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The England defender scored his only goal of the season in a recent win over Tottenham, and with just five assists to his name in 26 appearances so far, he has fallen way below his usual level. Despite that, he believes that the team winning is more important.

“Well, I just had three games where I felt better, felt in a little bit more of a rhythm. Being able to create things for the team and feel like I’ve been the last few seasons so I supposed that’s ok, but… Like I mentioned earlier. Individually that doesn’t really matter to me as much as winning games. I’d have 38 bad games in the season, if that meant winning every single game…So I wanna perform as well as I can and help the team win. Because that’s the man thing that matters.”

With his performances over the last two seasons, many have credited the Liverpool pair for evolving the full-back role but Alexander-Arnold believes he can’t take all the credit for himself.

File Photo: Trent Alexander-Arnold | Noble Reporters Media | Adigun Michael Olamide | NoRM News

“I’d say a lot more technical. I think I have impacted how numbers are probably integrated into that role now, I think. A lot of full-backs now are getting judged how many assists and goals and goal contributions they’re getting.

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“I can’t just take all the credit for it. I have to give a lot to Robbo too. He’s really pushed me and I’ve obviously pushed him too to set these records and set these high standards for everyone else in the fullback role, and that’s what I’m going to keep doing. I suppose it’s not about change in the role and how it’s thought about. It’s about making sure we’re as good as we can be for the team and helping us win games and that means get an assistant and goals, that’s what it means.”

Liverpool have lost each of their last two Premier League fixtures and after travelling to Leicester at the weekend they will switch their attentions to the Champions League for the last 16 clash with RB Leipzig.

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PSG’s Neymar battles with injury, week to Barcelona’s clash.

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Despite Neymar’s absence for the final half an hour, PSG ran out 1-0 winners over Caen thanks to Moise Kean’s 49th minute effort.

Neymar was forced off with injury after an hour during PSG’s French Cup victory over Caen on Wednesday evening – just six days before his side’s Champions League clash with Barcelona.

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The Brazil forward – who has 13 goals in 17 appearances in all competitions this season – is due to face his former side Barcelona on Tuesday 16 February in the first leg of the pair’s Champions League last 16 tie. No time scale has yet been given for his return.

As reported by journalist Jonathan Johnson, Neymar went down with a left adductor problem on the 60 minute mark with PSG leading 1-0.

He was replaced by Kylian Mbappe, before heading straight down the tunnel towards the dressing room.

Despite Neymar’s absence for the final half an hour, PSG ran out 1-0 winners over Caen thanks to Moise Kean’s 49th minute effort.

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PSG play Niice in Ligue 1 on Saturday 13 February, before the trip to Camp Nou to face Barcelona three days later. Their last 16 second leg against Ronald Koeman’s side at the Parc de Princes is not until 10 March.

Neymar has been prolific in the Champions League this season, netting six goals in five appearances.

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#Newsworthy