Thursday, May 23, 2019

Here are the Flying Eagles stars representing Nigeria at the 2019 FIFA U-20 World Cup in Poland

The Flying Eagles team representing Nigeria at the 2019 FIFA U-20 World Cup in Poland are more than ready.

Nigeria is placed in Group D with Qatar, Ukraine, and USA.

With the tournament kicking off today, the Flying Eagles of Nigeria will begin their quest on Friday against Qatar.

The truth behind Bale and Zidane’s troubled relationship at Real Madrid

As Real Madrid's season came to an end with an underwhelming, disappointing home defeat that has typified this annus horribilis for the club, one man who was not involved became the centre of attention.

While the outgoing Keylor Navas received a warm ovation from the Bernabeu crowd Gareth Bale sat stoically on the bench, watching from afar as his side were downed 2-0 by Betis. That result left Madrid in third place, a massive 19 points adrift of runaway Liga champions Barcelona.

Zinedine Zidane's refusal to bring the Welsh winger into the action in what could well prove his last appearance in a Madrid squad did serve to instantly banish memories of yet another insipid display from his troops. But it also marks the culmination of a process of separation and distancing between Bale and his coach that has been in the making for years.

“I don't know what will happen. I went with other players. That is the situation, others came in,” Zidane told reporters after the game.

“I didn't let [Bale] play today, true, but we don't know what will happen. I am the one who is here every day and makes the decisions and when there is something I don't like or doesn't sit right with me... I have achieved a lot here but we cannot live off the past. This is the present and I make decisions based on that.”

It was not always this way. Relations between the pair were initially positive when Zidane took over from Rafa Benitez at the start of 2016. The Merengue legend marked out the famous BBC forward line as “untouchable” and, while Cristiano Ronaldo retained top billing, Bale was never far behind the prodigious Portuguese hitman.

Despite suffering greatly with injuries in Zidane's debut season Bale played a big part in his first Champions League campaign, including all 120 minutes in the final against Atletico where he also converted his shoot-out kick on the way to victory. Not even reports that one of his myriad physical complaints owed to 36 holes of golf played days before the semi-final against Manchester City shook Zidane's confidence in his star.

For Bale that trust was also a valuable asset. The Welshman had already been through one acrimonious break-up with Carlo Ancelotti, who had grown exasperated at what he saw as the player's selfish attitude and how the club indulged his whims. Matters came to a head during a 2-2 draw at Valencia when he chose to go it alone instead of squaring to Karim Benzema and was promptly substituted by the fuming veteran.

Zidane, though, despite having been Ancelotti's assistant up to his dismissal in 2015, gave his forward a clean slate, a fresh start. A star showing in the 2016 European Championship with Wales seemed to confirm his instincts: that Bale had it all to be a star at the Bernabeu.

But time and again his physical fragility intervened. In November 2016 he was forced to undergo ankle surgery and miss two and a half months of action; upon returning he seemed determined to avoid further injuries, to the detriment of his performances.

Bale further failed to endear himself to Zidane when, having confirmed his fitness for a crucial Clasico at home to Barca, he lasted just 30 minutes before coming off hurt as the Catalans waltzed to a 3-2 win – significantly longer, incidentally, than his 13-minute contribution to Zizou's second Champions League win over Juventus in Cardiff.

The 2017-18 campaign saw Zidane increasingly seek out other options to the unreliable Welshman. Both Isco and young sensation Marco Asensio began to take priority in the first team, restricting him to just 20 Liga starts and a mere three in the Champions League. Long-billed as the eventual successor to Ronaldo's crown as the King of Madrid, Bale was now on the way to being a luxury bit-part player.

Despite his heroics against Liverpool in Kiev to secure Madrid's 13th Champions League title, Bale's face told an eloquent story. The solitude he felt inside the dressing room, with Luka Modric his only real close friend, was palpable. Perhaps that was why, minutes after hitting two goals in the final, Bale's overriding feeling was one of fury. He issued an ultimatum directed squarely at Zidane: give me more minutes, or I will leave. In the end it was the coach who stepped aside, along with Ronaldo, a move that calmed the waters and left Bale undisputed as Madrid's standard-bearer.

Once more though, his delicate physical constitution prevented him from taking that role, to the detriment of Zidane's successors Julen Lopetegui and Santiago Solari. He sat on the sidelines nursing injury after injury as Madrid floundered and appeared to show little commitment to the cause. And this time, there was no Champions League double to rescue him from the Bernabeu's wrath.

Zidane's return barely 10 months after resigning marked the beginning of the end. Not content with the defiance he had shown in Kiev to the whole world, in February Bale had again taken aim at the Frenchman. “I was really frustrated not to start,” he fired to Four Four Two. 

“I’d played pretty well since coming back from the last little niggle I’d had in December. I scored five goals in my last four league games of the season and felt like I deserved to be involved from the start.

“[Zidane] didn’t talk to me about it – I still haven’t spoken to him since. Our relationship was good. I wouldn’t say we were best mates, it was just a normal professional relationship.” Those words rang deep with Zidane, naturally introverted like his charge and who values loyalty above all else. Ever since his return to Madrid it has felt like Bale has had his days numbered.

Van Persie ‘sorry’ if Man Utd move angered Arsenal fans, but has no regrets

Robin van Persie is “sorry” if his move to Manchester United angered Arsenal, but claims to have no regrets at having swapped Emirates Stadium for Old Trafford.

After eight years in north London, the Dutch striker took the controversial call to link up with a Premier League rival in the summer of 2012.

He had been a prolific presence with the Gunners, netting 132 goals in 278 appearances.

Van Persie had just one FA Cup success to show for those efforts, though, and made the decision to join United in a bid to secure more major silverware.

He became a Premier League title winner in his debut campaign with the Red Devils and insists he would not do anything differently if given the chance to turn back the clock.

Van Persie, who is heading into retirement, told BBC Sport: "I get that the fans were angry with me.

"I was the captain, top scorer and we came third that year. But just sometimes you feel you need a challenge, a new adventure.

"If I hurt people, I'm sorry. But that's me. I made that decision and I stand by it. But that doesn't mean that I look in a negative way towards Arsenal.

"I cannot say one bad word about Arsenal Football Club - it is a beautiful football club, I had a fantastic time there. I arrived as a little boy, I left as an adult, as a mature player.

"I don't have a bad feeling towards anyone at Arsenal, I'm thankful towards them, for the chance they've given me, for the mistakes I made over the years - because I took a few silly red cards but Arsene still put me on - and just the whole family feeling of the club.

"During that whole process of leaving, Arsene Wenger and I never had an argument or a big fight, we just sometimes on certain levels had different ideas.

"At the crucial moments, you have to make tough decisions, and it was a very tough decision. But you have to stand behind them and this is what I did.

"I know if you make decisions like that, you're not going to please everyone. I learned quite a while ago that I will just be myself, I will make decisions about my life and I will accept them."

Van Persie, who also won a second Premier League Golden Boot while with United, admits he needed silverware in Manchester to justify his transfer and prove a point to those who questioned him.

He added: "Thank God I won the league there!.

WhatsApp message reveals Emiliano Sala had 'no interest' in Cardiff move

A WhatsApp message recorded by Emiliano Sala has been released to the public, in which the tragically deceased striker reveals that he was not interested in a move to Cardiff and claimed Nantes owner and president Waldemar Kita was only interested in money.

Much has been written about the untimely death of the Argentine, whose passing dominated headlines for months after the plane transporting him from France to Wales went down over the English channel, killing the player and pilot David Ibbotson.

And while investigations into how the aircraft fell are ongoing, French publication l'Equipe came into possession of a recorded message sent to a relative of Sala before the flight. In it, Sala reveals his mental tribulations over the proposed move and his distaste for the Nantes owner.

“Last night, I sent a message to Meissa [N'Diaye, Sala's agent]. He called me a few hours later,” it begins. “We had discussions and he told me that last night Franck Kita [son of Nantes owner Waldemar] sent him a message to talk, so he called him.

“They spoke and... they want to sell me. There is an offer from Cardiff. On their [Nantes'] side, they have negotiated to get a lot of money. So they absolutely want me to go there. It is true that it is a good contract but from a football perspective it is not interesting for me.

“So, there you go. They are trying in every way to get me to go there. Me, I am not scared to go there, because I have battled throughout my career, so to go there and fight, that does not make me scared. On the contrary.

“But, I'm also thinking to myself that Meissa must find me something better between now and the end of the window. Meissa has said no to Cardiff because he does not want me to go there.

“He thinks that, in terms of football, in terms of where we are today, we are in a position of strength in every way. In terms of on the pitch, the contract, all of that. But I don’t care about that and I do not want that. I don’t give a f*ck about being in a position of strength.

“It is true that I would like to find something interesting in contractual terms and also from a football perspective, but sometimes you can’t have both. On the other hand, I do not want to speak with [Waldemar] Kita, because I do not want to get angry.

“He disgusts me when I am face to face with him. And today, he wants to sell me to Cardiff because he has negotiated a high price – he will get the money he wants, eh? He wants me to go there, but he hasn’t even asked what I want. All he cares about is money.

“So that's how things are – a complete mess. I don’t know what to do because as I said to you it is me who has to get up every day and see my face.

“Nobody is looking at me, myself, me internally, what I am having to go through. It is very hard, because I feel like there are not many people who would put themselves in my place.”

In the interests of journalistic nonpartisanship, l'Equipe also interviewed Waldermar Kita, who was given a chance to respond to Sala's barbs and the claims that his only interest in the scenario was to make money.

“I am surprised and disappointed,” he began. “Because I behave as well as I can with people, but I have to accept that others might feel differently.

“Unfortunately this stupid accident happened. He was a boy and very well educated. If he hadn't passed away I think he would have been very happy today.

“I have a feeling that those aren't his words,” Kita added, insinuating that the striker's perspective was skewed by others who were involved.

On the accusations that he only wanted to make money from Sala's sale, the Nantes chief replied: “If I really wanted to make money that's not how I would do it, because at the end of the day there would not be much left with all the commissions to be distributed [to agents, etc.].

“Today, I don't even want this money and I may never touch it. I don't want to earn money on someone who died tragically. That doesn't interest me. I don't take care of that stuff at all, the lawyers do. Cardiff never contacted me – they never wanted to.

“As long as everything was signed, I'm no longer responsible for the player. That must be clear. When he came for his goodbye he was very happy. Cardiff, for me, who took care of him, are responsible.”

Regarding Sala's vocalised dislike for the 66-year-old, Kita pointed to a pay-rise awarded to the Argentine, for which he claims he didn't receive a gesture of gratitude.

"I paid €30,000 more every month and did not even get a thank you in return. It was difficult to talk to him – did I miss something? I would have to think about that. I paid an extra €30,000 for six months to someone and didn't get a thank you.

“I don't really understand it. I did it to encourage him and then he said he wanted to leave.”

Kita was also asked to comment on the player's family, who have also questioned the president's behaviour in the wake of the tragedy.

“I totally understand the mother's anger at the meeting we had, I sincerely wanted to offer her my condolences – I said I could help them. Anyway, I excuse the mother, I understand. Still, I'm accused and not the people who were involved? And not Cardiff? What's that?”

Mkhitaryan's absence will motivate Arsenal to win Europa League - Aubameyang

Arsenal forward Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has described Henrikh Mkhitaryan's absence from the Uefa Europa League final as a big shame.

On Tuesday, Mkhitaryan stated that he will not be travelling to Baku with the rest of his teammates despite the assurance of his safety by Uefa .

Armenia and Azerbaijan currently have no diplomatic relations amid political tensions between both countries over the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh mountains.

Aubameyang believes that this problem will motivate the Gunners to win their first European title since 1994 when they battle Chelsea on May 29.

“We know it is a big shame but we respect his decision," Aubameyang was quoted by the  Evening Standard .

"It is not easy for him to go there because of political problems. It is a big shame but now we have one more motivation to win.

“Everybody here wants to be back in the Champions League. That’s been the target since the beginning of the season.”

Beckham's Miami side lays out ambitious plan for first season in MLS

The plan for Inter Miami seems to be to enter Major League Soccer with a bang next year. 

The club has made plenty of headlines despite having never fielded a team, thanks in part to an ownership group that includes former Manchester United and Real Madrid superstar David Beckham and in part to a contentious battle to make plans for a team in Miami a reality.

MLS faced a number of challenges in bringing a team to Miami, most notably a battle over where the club would play. But with those issues seemingly in the rearview mirror, the job of building a team is now at hand, and the club has some big ambitions for year one.

“We will have three designated players in our first year," sporting director Paul McDonough told “It’s an ongoing process, we’re talking with guys. We’ve had some meetings. Trying to figure out if we’re right for them and [if] they’re right for us. It’s all progressing well."

Links to world superstars have been constant, with names like Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, Antoine Griezmann and Paul Pogba having all been mentioned as potential signings for the club.

Those names may be laughable, but with an ownership group that is willing to spend, Beckham adding name value and Miami as a home base, the club wasn't shocked to see such highly regarded players being tabbed to join up.

"It’s not surprising for us, we know with the ownership group we have – the ambition – the city we live in, it’s going to be desirable for players to come," McDonough said.

“It’s more about trying to take the time to field all the calls to find out if they’re true or not."

Miami has yet to sign a coach or a player despite having less than a year to put together a full roster.

But the club has a vision, and McDonough​ says Miami will work to bring in players that fit the vision before making the call on who will be the club's first coach.

“We’re going to try and start building the team in the club’s vision, then we’ll try and pick a coach that fits the vision," McDonough said of the building process. "David [Beckham] and I have talked about what we want the club to be like, how we want to play. Hopefully we’ll find players and a coach that match our philosophy.”

McDonough​ also hinted that a big signing could be announced in the near future, though exactly who the club will be targeting remains a mystery.

“We’ll definitely have players signed by the summer," he said.

"I want to make it a surprise.”

Crystal Palace Stars Sakho And Vanaanholt Pictured In Dubai With Their WAGs

Football season is over, well, almost over because we still have the Europa and champions league final coming up.
English premier league stars, Mamadou Sakho and teammate Patrick Vanaanholt and their partners hits Dubai on vacation. It’s been a long season for the players, so time like this is always anticipated.

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Injured Kroos, Ter Stegen sit out Germany qualifiers

Injured La Liga pair Toni Kroos and Marc-Andre ter Stegen are the biggest names missing from the 22-man Germany squad named on Wednesday for next month’s Euro 2020 qualifiers.
Midfielder Kroos, who has just signed a new Real Madrid contract keeping him at the club until 2023, and Barcelona goalkeeper Ter Stegen sit out the qualifiers, away to Belarus on June 8 and then home to Estonia three days later in Mainz, with leg injuries.
Germany are unbeaten in Group C and sit second behind leaders Northern Ireland after a 3-2 away win in their opening game against the Netherlands in March.
Captain Manuel Neuer has been included “for now”, say the German Football Association (DFB), but the Bayern Munich goalkeeper has been carrying a calf injury and missed the last five games of the German league season.
The Bavarians are hoping Neuer can play in the German Cup final in Berlin on Saturday against RB Leipzig with the newly-crowned Bundesliga champions hoping to clinch the domestic double.
Germany’s 22-man squad for Euro 2020 qualifiers against Belarus and Estonia in June:
Goalkeepers: Manuel Neuer (Bayern Munich), Bernd Leno (Arsenal/ENG), Kevin Trapp (Eintracht Frankfurt)
Defenders: Matthias Ginter (Borussia Moenchengladbach), Marcel Halstenberg (RB Leipzig), Jonas Hector (Cologne), Thilo Kehrer (Paris SG/FRA), Lukas Klostermann (RB Leipzig), Nico Schulz (Hoffenheim), Niklas Stark (Hertha Berlin), Niklas Suele (Bayern Munich), Jonathan Tah (Bayer Leverkusen)
Midfielders: Julian Brandt (Bayer Leverkusen), Julian Draxler (Paris SG/FRA), Serge Gnabry (Bayern Munich), Leon Goretzka (Bayern Munich), Ilkay Gundogan (Manchester City/ENG), Kai Havertz (Bayer Leverkusen), Joshua Kimmich (Bayern Munich), Marco Reus (Borussia Dortmund), Leroy Sane (Manchester City/ENG)
Forward: Timo Werner (RB Leipzig)

Van Persie tells United to give ‘fair chance’ to Solskjaer

Robin van Persie has urged Manchester United to keep faith with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer after the under-fire manager’s turbulent end to his first season in charge.
Solskjaer presided over a miserable conclusion to a campaign that saw United fail to qualify for the Champions League after finishing sixth in the Premier League.
However, Van Persie, whose goals helped United win their last Premier League title in 2013, is adamant Solskjaer deserves more time to get the club back on track.
“I think it’s the perfect match, it’s just they’re having a bad spell,” Van Persie told BBC Sport on Wednesday.
“Back in the day it was normal for a manager to get time. Nowadays if you lose six games, you’re out. Is that the solution?
“Give someone time, especially if it’s a kid from the club.”
Former United striker Solskjaer had made a positive impact after replacing the sacked Jose Mourinho as interim boss in December.
Solskjaer oversaw a 15-match unbeaten domestic run and led United to a stunning Champions League last 16, second leg win over Paris Saint-Germain.
But United’s form dipped dramatically once Solskjaer was hired on a permanent basis in March and a run of six defeats from their last 10 games shattered their top four hopes.
Solskjaer’s problems have mounted amid claims that United midfielder Paul Pogba wants to join Real Madrid, while the boss is reportedly unhappy with the fitness levels and commitment of some of his squad.
The 46-year-old, whose only other managerial spells came at Cardiff and Molde, needs to make a flying start to next season if he is to avoid calls for his dismissal.
But Dutch forward Van Persie, who scored 58 goals in 105 games for United, says his old team need to let the Norwegian grow into the role rather than panicking at the first sign of bad results.
“It’s funny because when he started everyone was so positive, they were winning and they made a miracle by beating PSG,” Van Persie said.
“Everyone was screaming like, ‘Give the guy a permanent deal’. And then since that permanent deal the luck went away a little bit; they’ve been losing more games than they want to.”
Van Persie, who retired at the end of this season after a spell with Feyenoord, doesn’t think United’s problems will be solved only by splashing out on new signings.
“If a player has a couple of bad games, ‘OK, sell him!’. If he doesn’t score a few goals, ‘OK, he’s out, he’s finished’,” he added.
“Back in the day you used to get time, you can make mistakes, you can learn. Now I get the feeling that time is less. Ideally, you would get time – as a player, as a coach.”

Man City and PSG ‘playthings of a state’: Liga chief

Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain should be excluded from European club competition and are nothing more than “playthings of a state”, La Liga’s president Javier Tebas has said.
It is not the first time the outspoken head of the Spanish league has attacked Abu Dhabi-owned City or Qatari-owned PSG, and newly crowned Premier League champions City has threatened to take him to court at one point.
However, Tebas launched another broadside at the wealthy clubs when he spoke at the Financial Times Business of Football Summit, saying City and PSG “are clubs who could not care less what their real incomes are when they want to sign a player because they receive incomes from a state”.
“It forces other clubs into an economic situation which is really living on the edge. It skews the balance of the entire European football structure,” Tebas said.
“This is no longer sport. This is no longer an industry.
“It becomes more like a toy, the plaything of a state.
“And when it’s a plaything, kids start playing with other kids. You end up ruining the entire system.”
City — who last weekend completed a historic domestic treble with a 6-0 whipping of Watford in the FA Cup final — are presently under investigation by UEFA over alleged breaches of their Financial Fair Play (FFP) rules. The club strongly denies any wrongdoing.
PSG was able to pay a world record fee of 222 million euros ($248 million) for Neymar in 2017 and also signed French striker Kylian Mbappe the same summer.
The 56-year-old Costa Rica-born lawyer, who has been in his present role since 2013, said the way in which City and PSG spent freely in the transfer market had a knock-on effect on their rivals.
He said other clubs see a European Super League, a potential replacement for the Champions League that Tebas opposes, as enriching them and making them better able to compete on a more level playing field with PSG and City.
“The origin of this entire problem with the Super League is the inflationary effect that Manchester City and PSG have created across the whole of Europe,” said Tebas.
“The rest of the clubs in Europe want money to compete with these guys.”

Hazard is my Chelsea benchmark, says Pulisic

Christian Pulisic says he wants to make the same impact that Eden Hazard has had at Chelsea and hopes to play alongside the Belgium superstar at Stamford Bridge.
The US international signed a five-and-a-half year contract with Maurizio Sarri’s team in January but was immediately loaned backed to Germany to finish the season at Borussia Dortmund.
“It is incredible to see what Eden can do,” Pulisic, 20, told the BBC. “He (Hazard) is a guy to look up to and what I would love to become.
“It is definitely a goal. Any player would be dumb not to want to be in the same team as him.”
But the £58 million ($73 million) signing appears unlikely to get his wish to play alongside Chelsea’s star man, with Hazard persistently linked with a move to Real Madrid.
Pulisic, who scored four times in 20 league appearances last season for Dortmund, who finished as runners-up to Bayern Munich, said he wanted to inspire young American footballers.
“I don’t want to be looked at as someone who is the youngest to do this or that,” said Pulisic, who is both the youngest player to captain the United States and to score for them in a World Cup qualifier.
“I just want to be an established player and someone people respect, who is successful in this league.
“It is completely new to me and something not a lot of American players have experienced.”
Pusilic spent part of his childhood in England and relished the football culture.
“I soon realised how much people over here loved the game. To be in that culture and get thrown right in just grew my passion even more,” he said.
“Every day after school I was on the court playing.
“I would go to games with my dad, including one at Chelsea. I don’t remember how old I was but it would have been around the time Jose Mourinho was there.
“The fans were screaming and yelling. The atmosphere was fantastic. I had never seen anything like it.”

Asamoah Gyan makes Ghana U-turn for Africa Cup of Nations after presidential talk

Ghana striker Asamoah Gyan has reversed his decision to call time on his international career ahead of the Africa Cup of Nations in Egypt.

The development comes after Ghana's President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo urged the 33-year-old Kayserispor striker to reconsider his decision during a phone conversation on Tuesday.

Earlier, the President held a high-power meeting with the leadership of the Black Stars, including head coach James Kwesi Appiah, because of Gyan's shocking decision to retire on Monday.

"A presidential request is one that cannot be disregarded," Gyan said in a new statement on Wednesday.

"I have had the opportunity to speak with the father of the nation, the President of the Republic of Ghana, His Excellency Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, who, though respecting my wishes as spelt in my letter of 20th May 2019 has asked me to rescind my decision to retire permanently from the Black Stars.

"I have taken the request of His Excellency Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo in good fate, and will make myself available for selection by coach James Kwesi Appiah.

"My desire to help Ghana end the over three-decade-long wait to annex the Afcon trophy still burns strong, and I remain committed to serving this great nation and the people of Ghana."

Ghana are expected to announce their provisional squad on Wednesday. They have been drawn against Cameroon, Benin and Guinea-Bissau for the June 21 - July 19 Afcon.

Borussia Dortmund announce the signing of £22m Julian Brandt

Brandt has signed a contract until 2024 with the Bundesliga giants after five years with their German rivals.

After the deal was completed, Brandt said: "I am a person who sometimes decides things from the gut and for whom a good feeling is important.

"In the case of Borussia Dortmund, I have a very good feeling.

"One of the main reasons for my change is that BVB narrowly missed the title last season, so there is room for improvement and I am very excited about the boys.

"I am very motivated and optimistic about my personal development but especially the whole team."

Dortmund Sport Director Michael Zorc: "Although Julian Brandt has played in the Bundesliga for a long time and has a lot of experience both nationally and internationally, he is still a very young professional with potential for development at the age of 23.

"He can be used on several offensive positions and will enrich our game with his creativity."

Brandt has scored 34 goals and made 41 assists in 165 games since his debut in the Bundesliga at the age of 17.

Eden Hazard’s brother Thorgan joins Dortmund

Borussia Dortmund have completed the £25million signing of Eden Hazard's brother Thorgan.

The Belgium international, 26, joins from Bundesliga rivals Borussia Monchengladbach.

And Hazard has signed a lucrative four-year contract as a reward for his barnstorming form in German football.

The former Chelsea midfielder, who failed to make a single senior appearance at Stamford Bridge, joined Gladbach in 2014 on an initial loan deal before making the move permanent a year later for £6m.

Hazard scored 46 goals and assisted a further 44 during 176 appearances across five years.

And he has now joined Dortmund as a direct replacement for Christian Pulisic, who has gone to Chelsea for £58m to fill in for Thorgan's brother, Real Madrid-bound Eden Hazard.

Champions League finalists Liverpool and Europa League hopefuls Arsenal had both been tipped to make bids, but it's Dortmund who have won the race for Hazard's coveted signature.

Diego Maradona Arrested at airport after ex-girlfriend claims he owes her £5Million

Argentine legend Diego Maradona was stopped at an airport and arrested after his ex-girlfriend sued him for a £5million pay-out, it has been reported.

Local media in Buenos Aires are suggesting he was detained when he flew into the Argentina capital from Mexico.

It is believed the controversial Argentina hero was spoken to regarding a court action filed by his former partner Rocio Oliva.

The pair enjoyed a six-year relationship before they broke up in December last year.

Oliva has now gone on to launch a claim in the San Miguel Family Court for "action of economic compensation" against the 58-year-old.

Maradona was returning to his homeland from Mexico where he is manager of club side Dorados de Sinaloa when he was reportedly confronted.

It is claimed authorities took him aside, detained him and then issued formal notice of the proceedings against him from Oliva, herself a former footballer.

A court date has been listed for June 13, which will be attended by his lawyer Matias Morla.

Morla is said to have been with Maradona during his brief detention of a few minutes before the former Barcelona man was released.

Maradona posted a photo of himself with Morla in a car after leaving the airport with the caption: “Now in Buenos Aires, on my way home with my friend @matiasmorlaok.”

Iker Casillas' wife reveals she's battling ovarian cancer weeks after Spanish keeper's heart attack

The wife of goalkeeper Iker Casillas, who suffered a heart attack earlier this month, has revealed she is fighting ovarian cancer.

Sara Carbonero made the shock announcement on Tuesday.

She said on social media, in an emotional post less than three weeks after her partner suffered a heat attack while training for club side Porto: 'When we hadn't yet recovered from one shock, life has surprised us again.

'This time it's me, that six-letter word I still struggle to write.

'A few days ago during a check-up, doctors described a malignant ovarian tumour and I have been operated on.

'Everything has turned out okay and fortunately we caught it in time but I've still got some months left fighting while I have the corresponding treatment.

'I'm calm and confident everything is going to be okay. I know the road will be tough but will also have a happy ending.

'I have the support of my family and friend and a great medical team.'

The TV sports journalist added: 'I take advantage of this moment to ask that my journalist colleagues show the respect and understanding they have always shown me, especially in these difficult and delicate times for me and my family.'

Sara's whereabouts on Tuesday were unclear.

The 35-year-old, who has two sons with her husband, helped organise his 38th birthday on Monday before breaking the news of her own health battle.

She was filming in Tarifa in southern Spain when former Real Madrid shotstopper Casillas suffered his heart attack on May 1.

Man City & PSG are playthings of a state, they're ruining everything - La Liga chief Tebas

La Liga president Javier Tebas has hit out at Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain, saying the "state-run" clubs are ruining European football.

Man City, owned by Sheikh Mansour, a member of the royal family of the United Arab Emirates and PSG, owned by Qatar Sports Investments, have both achieved huge domestic success in recent years in part due to their big-spending ways.

Both clubs have also been forced to deny breaking UEFA's Financial Fair Play rules, with City currently facing a potential season-long Champions League ban.

Tebas believes that the clubs' success has come at a huge cost to the rest of Europe, with teams unable to compete against clubs funded by "petrol money."

Speaking at the Financial Times' Business of Football summit, Tebas said: "The problem with PSG and City is they’re state-run clubs: one off petrol money, one off gas.

"The damage happening on Euro football is massive because they are inflating the market so clubs have to pay ridiculous sums to keep their players.

“There are clubs who could not care less what their real incomes are when they want to sign a player because they receive incomes from a state.

"It forces other clubs into an economic situation which is really living on the edge. It skews the balance of the entire European football structure.

"This is no longer sport. This is no longer an industry. It becomes more like a toy, the plaything of a state.

"And when it’s a plaything, kids start playing with other kids. You end up ruining the entire system."

Tebas, who has been La Liga chief for six years, also criticised the planned European Super League, which would provide a competition for the continent's richest clubs without requiring them to qualify.

“The origin of this entire problem with the Super League is the inflationary effect that Manchester City and PSG have created across the whole of Europe because the rest of the clubs in Europe want money to compete with these guys," Tebas said.

“There’s a lot in play here but the future of European professional football is at risk,” he said. “This is not a joke what is going on right now. And English fans need to know what every club thinks about this.

"Because the history of English football and its clubs is in danger. We need to be much more transparent about a Super League."

Van Persie urges Man Utd to give Solskjaer time

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer should be given time to turn Manchester United’s fortunes around, says former Red Devils striker Robin van Persie.

Solskjaer made a flying start to life in charge at Old Trafford after succeeding Jose Mourinho, initially on a caretaker basis, in December.

The Norwegian won 14 of his first 17 games in charge to reignite the club’s top-four hopes as well as a dramatic comeback against Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League.

That fine run prompted United bosses to offer Solskjaer a permanent three-year contract in March .

However, United’s form dipped dramatically and eight defeats out of their final 12 matches saw them exit the Champions League and miss out on a place in the top four, ultimately finishing sixth.

That has put Solskjaer’s position under scrutiny even at this early stage in his tenure.

However, Van Persie in insistent that Solskjaer is the right man for the job and has called for patience.

"I think it's the perfect match, it's just they're having a bad spell," he told BBC Sport.

"Back in the day it was normal for a manager to get time. Nowadays if you lose six games, you're out. Is that the solution?

"Give someone time, especially if it's a kid from the club. It's funny because when he started everyone was so positive, they were winning and they made a miracle by beating PSG.

"Everyone was screaming like, 'Give the guy a permanent deal'. And then since that permanent deal the luck went away a little bit; they've been losing more games than they want to.

"But he got a three-year deal and everyone should look at the bigger picture. His presence, the way he presents the club, is the proper way in my opinion. He's positive, he wants to achieve big things with the club and that is the only way forward.”

Van Persie believes Solskjaer’s close association with the club, having been both a player and coach, makes him the ideal man to take the team forward, citing comparisons with legendary former boss Sir Alex Ferguson.

"He's a man of the club, he played there for more than 10 years, he won the Champions League - actually his goal got them the Champions League - so he has a big part over the years at the club,” he added.

"He's been a coach of the reserves, he is Manchester United. Similar, in a different way, to [Sir Alex] Ferguson. He was Manchester United and Solskjaer is Manchester United as well.

"Everyone has that at a certain time. He had a fantastic first period - now the last 12 games have been tough. OK, but next season they have to pick themselves up and go again."

Top Stars Jet in for Okpekpe Race

Kenyan trio of Alex Korio (2015 men’s champion), Simon Cheprot (2016 men’s champion) and Polline Wanjiku (2016 women’s champion) will lead over 35 international elite athletes to Nigeria today ahead of Saturday’s IAAF silver label Okpekpe International 10km Road Race which holds in Okpekpe in Etsako East Local Government Area of Edo State.
The trio will be coming in with their focus on making history as the first man and woman to win two Okpekpe titles since the inaugural edition of the race in 2013.
”The athletes will come in through the Murtala Mohammed International Airport Lagos and will be transported to Auchi where accommodation has been reserved for them. The athletes, together with their Nigerian counterparts will go on tour of the course on Friday in line with IAAF requirements,’ revealed Mercy Etukudo, the race’s head of secretariat.
She added that the athletes will get their registration done as soon as they arrive in Auchi and will be taken on a tour of the race course on Friday.
“This year’s race will be explosive as we have assembled mostly 27 minutes runners for men and 31, 32 minutes runners for women. A new course record looks a cast iron certainty on Saturday,” said Etukudo who predicted Ethiopia’s Taye Grima, who holds the pre-race fastest time (28:07) could spoil Korio and Cheprot’s bid for a slice of Okpekpe race history.
Meanwhile, final registration of all categories of athletes for the race will begin today.
“All registered athletes will be screened and accredited for the race which begins early Saturday morning in Okpekpe. They will be provided with their bib numbers as a sign of accreditation for the race,” explained Etukudo.
Okpekpe International 10km Road Race is powered by Pamodzi Sports Marketing, leaders in sports marketing and hospitality business in Nigeria.
It is the first and only road race in Nigeria that has been granted full membership of Association of International Marathons and Distance Races (AIMS) and recognised as one of the prestigious road races in the world and the only race with an IAAF silver label status in Africa this year.
The race will be live on Satellite (SuperSport) and terrestrial (Africa Independent Television, AIT).

Henrikh Mkhitaryan to Miss Europa Final Btw Arsenal and Chelsea

Arsenal midfielder Henrikh Mkhitaryan will not play in the Europa League final against Chelsea on 29 May.
It is understood the Armenian, 30, feared for his safety on the pitch in Baku, Azerbaijan.
“Having considered all current options, we had to take the tough decision for me not to travel with the squad to the Europa League final,” said Mkhitaryan.
“It’s the kind of game that doesn’t come along very often and I admit, it hurts a lot to miss it.”
As a result of political tensions between Azerbaijan and Armenia, Mkhitaryan has missed club matches played in Azerbaijan in the past.
“We have written to UEFA expressing our deep concerns about this situation,” read an Arsenal statement.
“We have thoroughly explored all the options for Micki to be part of the squad but after discussing this with Micki and his family we have collectively agreed he will not be in our travelling party.
“Micki has been a key player in our run to the final so this is a big loss for us from a team perspective.
“We’re also very sad that a player will miss out on a major European final in circumstances such as this, as it is something that comes along very rarely in a footballer’s career.”
UEFA responded to Arsenal with a statement that said: “Working alongside Arsenal FC, UEFA sought and received assurances regarding the player’s safety in Azerbaijan from the highest authorities in the country.
“As a result of these guarantees, a comprehensive security plan was developed and given to the club.
“While the club acknowledges the efforts that UEFA and the Azeri government have gone to in this matter, we respect the personal decision not to travel with the player.”
The Azerbaijan FA said they were “disappointed” that Mkhitaryan would not be travelling
In a statement, the AFFA said: “We very much regret this unwarranted decision taken. Whilst we recognise the right to make a personal decision not to travel, we would like to reiterate that as the host country Azerbaijan has provided all the necessary guarantees required by UEFA to ensure the personal safety of Mr Mkhitaryan.
“There is no reason whatsoever to put in question the seriousness of these guarantees provided by Azerbaijan.”
Arsenal, who finished fifth in the Premier League, will qualify for next season’s Champions League if they beat Chelsea.
It would be their first European trophy since they won the Cup Winners’ Cup in 1994.
Arsenal manager Unai Emery said: “He wants to play with the team, but he spoke with his family and decided not to go.
“It’s a very, very personal decision and we need to respect him. I don’t understand the political problems but I must respect his decision.”

Nigeria’s Para-Athletes Target Qualification for Tokyo 2020 Olympics

With the 2019 National Trials concluded successfully in Lagos, the leadership of the Nigeria Para-Athletics Federation said their focus now is to ensure that a good number of Nigerian athletes qualify for Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games in Japan with the aim of winning laurels for the country.
President of the federation, Hon. Amobi Chikwendu, stated this while addressing his athletes at the end of the two-day selection trials held at the main bowl of the National Stadium Surulere, Lagos where Team Nigeria athletes to the World Para-Athletics Grand Prix holding from June 24 to July 1, 2019 in Tunis, Tunisia were selected.
Hon. Chilkwendu commended the athletes for putting up brilliant performances which accounted for the improved standard recorded in this year’s championship
Despite the challenge posed by poor funding that has hindered the federation from carrying out its programmes as planned, the president charged the athletes to continue to put in their best by training hard.
He assured them of taking part in more qualifiers ahead of the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games.
The Para-Athletics federation president is planning for them to be at World Championships in France and Dubai coming up in November, 2019 and the Africa Para Games holding in Morocco in January which are all Tokyo 2020 qualifiers.
Since the federation needs fund to attend all these qualifiers, Hon Chikwendu appealed to the Federal Ministry of Youth and Sports, corporate organisations as well as well meaning individuals to come to the aid of the federation.
Nigeria’s para-athletics have been on the forefront of winning laurels for the country in international competitions just the way they did at the Gold Coast 2019 Commonwealth Games in Australia, accounting for two gold, one silver out of the 12 medals the country won at the Games
They similarly won two gold including silver and bronze medals at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games in Brazil. The team also set two world records at the Games among others.

France 2019: Super Falcons Arrive in Austria

African champions Nigeria have landed at the Avita Resort facility in the Austrian city of Bad Tatzmannsdorf for a two-week residential camping ahead of the 8th FIFA Women’s World Cup finals.
A delegation including nine home-based professionals and technical and administrative staff departed from Abuja on Monday night aboard an Air France flight, and travelled from Paris to the Austrian capital, Vienna on Tuesday morning before connecting Bad Tatzmannsdorf.
At the airport in Vienna, nine overseas-based professionals from different parts of the world joined the contingent, taking the number of players to 18. With England-based Ini-Abasi Umotong already waiting in camp, that made the total number 19, with only eight more expected.
The world-renown Avita Resort is the same facility that served the Super Eagles in their final training sessions just before the 2018 FIFA World Cup finals in Russia.
Coach Thomas Dennerby must pick his final squad of 23 by Friday this week. The final squad and officials will fly into France on 4th June.
Nigeria takes on Norway, Korea Republic and host nation France in the group phase of the championship, with their first coming up against Norway at the Stade Auguste Delauney in Reims on 8th June.

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Cristiano Ronaldo Tells Juventus To Hire Jose Mourinho

Cristiano Ronaldo has reportedly asked Juventus management to hire his Portuguese compatriot Jose Mourinho as replacement for outgoing manager Max Allegri.
Jorge Mendes, who is agent to both Ronaldo and Mourinho, also wants Juventus to hire the Portuguese.
Ronaldo and Mourinho worked together in Real Madrid before they parted ways after Mourinho left and later joined Manchester United.
He managed United until December last year when he got sacked and replaced by Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
He has repeatedly expressed his desire to return to managerial duties this summer.

Klopp’s Release Clause at Liverpool Revealed Amid Juventus Links

It will cost around £32million for any club willing to take Jurgen Klopp from Liverpool, Tuttosport reports.

The German has enjoyed a sensational season at Liverpool, guiding the club to its highest ever points total in the Premier League.

Klopp has also qualified for his second successive Champions League final with the Reds and will face Premier League rivals Tottenham on June 1 in Madrid.

He is now being linked with the Juventus hot seat, as Max Allegri prepares to step down at the end of this season.

However, Klopp is contracted to Liverpool until 2022 and currently earns around £7million-a-season.

And to buy him out of this contract, or at least prompt talks with Klopp, another club would have to put up a whopping £32million – the cost of the manager’s release clause.

Chelsea Ordered to Pay Conte £9million

Chelsea have been ordered to pay former manager Antonio Conte £9million in compensation, the UK Mirror reports.
Conte, who won the Premier League and FA Cup during his two years in west London, has been embroiled in a bitter divorce from the club.
The Italian was sacked last summer and engaged in a legal fight with the Blues, citing unfair dismissal.
The former Juventus boss, who has held off taking another job during the past 12 months, wanted the final year of his contract paid in full.
Now, a three-person Premier League managers’ Arbitration Tribunal, has ruled in favour of Conte.
However, if Chelsea refuse to accept the Tribunal’s ruling, then the judgment can be challenged in the High Court.

Another blow for Ghana as injury reportedly rules Alfred Duncan out

The 26-year-old will play no part of the Black Stars' bid for a fifth continental title due to fitness issues
Sassuolo midfielder Joseph Alfred Duncan will be unavailable for selection for Ghana's Africa Cup of Nations squad, according to local media reports.
The midfielder is reportedly set to undergo surgery on a problematic ankle during the off-season in a bid to make a timely recovery before the commencement of the 2019-20 Italian Serie A season.
The news is a massive blow to Ghana, whose squad have already been disrupted by injuries and controversies.

Szczesny: Ramsey will be great for Juventus – thanks to me

The Polish goalkeeper is backing his former Arsenal teammate to flourish in Serie A, and is helping him settle into life in Italy
Juventus goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny thinks Aaron Ramsey will be a huge boost for his side next season – and says he played a part in the Welshman’s signing.
The Serie A champions announced Ramsey’s signing upon the expiration of his contract at Arsenal, but the midfielder was a wanted man after more than a decade in north London.
Former Gunners team-mate Szczesny, now the Serie A champions’ first-choice custodian, sold Juventus to him and has already taken it upon himself to help Ramsey settle in Turin.

Leicester boss Rodgers explains Okazaki exit

The Japan international decided not to renew his contract with the Foxes, and is looking for a slower style of play than the Premier League
Brendan Rodgers says Shinji Okazaki decided to leave Leicester City for a slower pace of football as he moves towards the end of his career.
The Japan international became a real fans’ favourite after four years at the King Power Stadium but, at 33, is looking to settle into a less high-octane footballing environment.
Rodgers said he isn’t sure whether Okazaki has decided on his next club yet, but could hardly speak higher of his professionalism and commitment to the club.

Premier League Goal of 2018/2019 Season revealed

The Premier League has picked Andros Townsend’s strike for Crystal Palace against Manchester City in December as the official Goal of the Season.

Townsend’s stunning strike helped Palace to a shock 3-2 win over the champions.

“We got a free-kick and the ball’s dropped out of the air.

“I just thought, ‘Yeah, it’s sat up perfectly, I’m going to hit this’.

“I didn’t really know how good a goal it was. Everyone was saying, ‘It was incredible, it was the best goal I’ve ever seen’.

“I just thought it was a volley from outside the box and it’s not until I watched it back, then I thought, ‘Oh wow, maybe that is a bit special,” Townsend said while explaining the goal to Sky Sports.

The strike becomes the third winner of the Premier League’s official Goal of the Season award after Emre Can’s strike for Liverpool against Watford in 2016/17 and Sofiane Boufal’s goal for Southampton against West Brom last season.

What Solskjaer will Offer Pogba to Snub Real Madrid Move

Manchester United manager, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, is ready to offer Paul Pogba a captaincy role, in an effort to convince the midfielder to stay at the club, ESPN reports.

Solskjaer is looking for a new captain, with Antonio Valencia set to leave on a free transfer at the end of the month.

Ashley Young, who signed a new one-year deal in February, is in line to take over from Valencia as club captain, but with Solskjaer looking to sign a new right-back this summer, the 33-year-old is likely to have to settle for a reduced role next season.

Pogba, who was stripped of captaincy duties by Jose Mourinho, is one of the names in the frame.

Solskjaer is hopeful that handing the 26-year-old more responsibility, will help end speculation over his future.

The Frenchman has been heavily linked with a move to Real Madrid, after United finished sixth in the Premier League and failed to qualify for the Champions League.

NNLO Reacts as Nigerian Coach Dies

The Management of the Nigeria Nationwide League One (NLO), on Tuesday, decried the sudden demise of Lobi Stars Head Coach, Solomon Ogbeide.

It will be recalled that Ogbeide died on Monday morning after he slumped and was rushed to a nearby hospital.

He was declared dead on arrival by a doctor on duty.

A director in NNLO Management Board, Ebere Amaraizu, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) that the news of Ogbeide’s demise came to the management as ‘a great shock.’

Amaraizu said that Ogbeide had been one of the coaches that had raised the standard of Nigerian football league in recent years.

‘‘It is quite unfortunate he left us at a time his experience and sound tactical knowledge of football matches are needed the most.

‘‘For some years now, he had been exceptional in his career of being a good football tactical expert,’’ he said.

According to him, we cannot question God but agree in the way He wants things to go.

‘‘We pray for the repose of his soul in paradise and for God to give his immediate family, Benue State people and government as well as the football community in Nigeria the fortitude to bear the irreparable loss,’’ he said.

Ogbeide had been with Lobi Stars since 2016/2017 Nigerian Professional Football League (NPFL) season.

He led the team to the group stage of the CAF Champions League this year, after helping the team to win the NPFL title in 2018.

Fans mock Barcelona after their own tweet shows just how much they rely on Lionel Messi's goals

Barcelona's squad would be within their rights to question the club's social media team after a tweet about the side's reliance on Lionel Messi was met with backlash from supporters.

The La Liga champions put out a list from 36 down to one which showed how many league goals every squad member had registered this season.

Only Lionel Messi, who got 36, and Luis Suarez, who added 21, got into double figures for league goals and the social media activity on the club's official channel - an account that boasts 29.7million followers - was soon called out as 'embarrassing'.

Fans quickly made their feelings known about the post with one writing: 'Mugging off your own squad' as well as including a crying emoji.

While many said the club should be 'ashamed', one fan added: 'You do realize [sic] you trolled half of your own team, right?'

A brace against Eibar last weekend saw Messi reach 50 goals for the season as the Argentine finished top scorer in La Liga with 36 goals - the figure that prompted the controversial tweet.