Ivan Rakitic Welcomes Antoine Griezmann Arrival as Barcelona Continue to Pursue Other Striker Leads

Barcelona midfielder Ivan Rakitic has offered his support to Antoine Griezmann ahead of his expected arrival from Atletico Madrid, as Barça continue their search for another striker to play back up to Luis Suarez. 

After being snubbed by Griezmann last summer thanks to the infamous ‘La Decision’ video, La Blaugrana are expected to finally sign the Frenchman when his release clause comes into play on July 1, but until then they are seeking further striking reinforcements to alleviate the strain on Suarez.

Ivan Rakitic,Antoine Griezmann

According to ?Mundo Deportivo, the list of players they are currently looking at includes Tottenham’s Fernando Llorente, Sevilla’s Wissam Ben Yedder, Celta Vigo’s Maxi Gomez and Girona’s Cristhian Stuani. 

Llorente’s contract is up at the end of this month, and the La Liga champions have been impressed by his showings in the ?Champions League this season. Ben Yedder and Gomez are at the higher end of the price range, with the pair currently holding €40m and €50m release clauses in their contracts after excellent goalscoring seasons.

Though not strictly a striker, Sevilla’s Pablo Sarabia has also been mooted, following his impressive goals haul this season. Stuani rounds up the group, and though he may be the most surprising, he could also be the most likely, with his wages set to be cut in half after the Catalan club’s relegation from the top tier. 

Indeed, as a Uruguayan international, the former Middlesbrough striker is a known friend of Suarez, and was even considered as a replacement for Munir when the youngster left last season.

There has been some speculation that ?Bar?ça’s players are none too keen on the idea of Griezmann joining the club, but speaking to Mundo Deportivo, as relayed by ?Marca, Rakitic dismissed these concerns, declaring: “I would love to have Griezmann on my team.”

The Croatian then joked: “Aside from the fact that last year he pushed me away from my dream of winning the World Cup, I really like him. He’s a top level player, one of the best in the world. He’s won almost everything and can add to any team.”


Speaking on the controversy surrounding ‘La Decision’, Rakitic explained: “That wasn’t a decision against Barcelona or anyone. It was taken in favour of Atletico Madrid. I congratulate him for that and if he comes here I’ll shake his hand and tell him that I respect him for the decision.”

The 31-year-old also took time to reaffirm his support for under-fire boss Ernesto Valverde, proclaiming: “Valverde is the perfect coach for us. The work he and his coaching staff do is fantastic.”

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Ranking the Most Valuable Players in Each League Ahead of the Summer Transfer Window

?The transfer window has opened in England and there has already been rampant speculation about the future of some of the hottest properties in the game.

Transfer fees are rising every summer and there may be some record-breaking fees paid in the coming window.

We take a look at the most valuable player (transfer fee-wise) from the top seven leagues in Europe – the ?Premier League, ?La Liga, ?Serie A, the ?Bundesliga, Ligue 1, Primeira Liga and the Eredivisie.


Eredivisie – Matthijs de Ligt

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?The Ajax academy product has been quite possibly the most talked about transfer subject of the season. He has had an outstanding campaign, helping guide Ajax to their first league title since 2014, winning the Dutch Cup and leading them on their improbable run to the ?Champions League semi-final. He has also established himself as a first choice centre-back for the Netherlands and has been integral to them reaching the Nations League finals. He won the Golden Boy award for 2018.

He was named captain of Ajax at just 17 and his performances have attracted the attention of many of Europe’s top clubs. He has been heavily linked to ?Barcelona, where his Ajax teammate Frenkie de Jong has already agreed a transfer to. ?Manchester City, Manchester United, ?Juventus and ?Real Madrid are also ?reportedly interesting in signing the Dutchman.

With excellent technical ability, physicality and strong leadership skills at just 19 years of age, it easy to see why De Ligt is in such high demand. Very few centre-backs in world football possess the all-round qualities that he does, and he has shown that he is capable of thriving at the highest level, putting in outstanding performances as Ajax knocked out Real Madrid and Juventus in the UCL.

A ?reported transfer value of £63m means that any potential move would make De Ligt one of the most expensive defenders in the history of the game.


Primeira Liga – João Félix 

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João Félix has lit up the Primeira Liga this season, scoring 15 goals and providing seven assists in 26 appearances in just his first season in senior football. His performances were crucial to Benfica winning the league.

The 19-year-old has fantastic close control, dribbling, vision and is a clinical finisher. His composure in front of goal belies his tender age? and he was vital to Benfica’s run to quarter-finals of the Europa League.

In April 2019 he became the youngest player ever to score a hat-trick in the Europa League when he netted three times against Eintracht Frankfurt. 

His form understandably alerted top clubs around Europe, with ?Atlético Madrid, Real Madrid and Manchester United all ?reportedly interested in securing his services. He has a release clause of €120m, and any potential transfer is likely to make him the second most expensive teenager ever. 


Ligue 1 – Kylian Mbappé

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At 20 years of age, ?Kylian Mbappé has already ?had a career that many players would dream of. He broke onto the scene with AS Monaco, scoring 26 goals in 44 appearances in 2016-17 season, helping them win the Ligue 1 title against all odds and ahead of the mighty Paris Saint-Germain.  

Mbappe’s lightning pace, movement and finishing ability made it clear that he was a once in a generation talent and his name was starting to be linked with big clubs across Europe. 

Ironically, Mbappé would then leave Monaco for PSG – his hometown club – the following season, in a deal where he would spend a campaign on loan before signing permanently for a ?reported £166m.

Mbappé won the domestic treble with PSG in his first season and was named in the France squad for the World Cup. He proceeded to have an outstanding tournament, scoring four goals to help guide France to their second World Cup triumph. 

The 20-year-old won the Best Young Player award for the tournament as well as being named in the World Cup Dream Team. He has had more recent success, winning Ligue 1 once again this season and being named the Ligue 1 Player of the Year. In his acceptance speech for the latter award however, he raised eyebrows with his comments about his future, fuelling speculation that he wanted to leave PSG. 

The Parisian club would later ?release a statement refuting any claims that Mbappé was unhappy or that he wanted to leave. He is currently ?valued at £180m but PSG would likely demand a much higher fee if they were to part ways with him.


Bundesliga – Jadon Sancho

Jadon Sancho

Jadon Sancho joined Dortmund from Manchester City in 2017 for a fee of £7m, and since then, he has become one of the most exciting talents in Europe. He has adapted extremely well at the German club, helping guide Der BVB to a title challenge and the quarter-finals of the Champions League. 

His tally of 14 assists in Bundesliga was the joint-second highest tally among players in the top five European leagues. 

The youngster has been at the centre of constant transfer speculation throughout the season, being strongly ?linked to Manchester United despite having played for rivals City. He is ?valued at approximately at £72m, but it would be likely for Dortmund to ask for a much higher transfer fee to sell Sancho considering his age and the impact he has made.


Serie A – Kalidou Koulibaly

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The Senegal international has been one of the best defenders in Europe in recent years, and this season his performances have led to plenty of reports linking him with a move away from ?Napoli.

A commanding presence in the heart of defence, he has helped Napoli challenge Juventus at the top of Serie A in recent years.

Koulibaly has been strongly linked to a move to Manchester United for several months and the Red Devils have ?reportedly had a £96.4m bid rejected by Napoli, who insist that the defender is not for sale. 

The 27-year-old’s €150m release clause becomes active in 2020.


Premier League – Harry Kane

Harry Kane

In spite of the fact that the likes of ?Eden Hazard and ?Paul Pogba have been linked with moves to Real Madrid this summer, the Premier League player that would command the highest transfer fee is undoubtedly ?Harry Kane.

Kane has become one of the best strikers in the world since he broke into the ?Tottenham first team. The England star has a magnificent scoring rate, with 164 goals in 252 appearances, and won back-to-back Premier League Golden Boots in 2016 and and 2017.

He has also managed to translate his fantastic goalscoring ability to the international stage, winning the 2018 World Cup Golden Boot as England reached the semi-finals – their best finish in a World Cup since 1990.

In recent months the 25-year-old has shown he is more than just a goalscorer, dropping off into midfield, linking up play and showing his excellent passing range by setting up others.

Kane has become Tottenham Hotspur’s talisman over the past few years and will attract attention from the biggest teams in Europe, but with chairman Daniel Levy (who is know for being stubborn and shrewd in negotiations) at the helm, Spurs fans shouldn’t worry too much about losing their star man. They have ?reportedly set a £312m price for Kane in order to ward off potential suitors.


La Liga – Lionel Messi 

Lionel Messi

 The Argentine magician is considered to be one of the greatest, if not the greatest, footballer of all time. He continues to break record after record and his domination of Spanish football seems to be even more pronounced following the departure of his greatest adversary ??Cristiano Ronaldo to Juventus.

?Messi is a unique phenomenon in the sense that not only is he a magnificent goalscorer, but he is also a brilliant passer of the ball. His close control, dribbling, finishing, passing and vision have been his greatest attributes, as he continues to defy logic and play at such as high level into his 30s.

This season he has secured his 10th La Liga title and was the top goalscorer and assist provider simultaneously for the second consecutive season. 

Of all the players on this list Messi would be the least likely to leave his current club. He joined Barcelona as a 13-year-old and his achievements have meant that he is revered by the Blaugrana supporters; a God-like figure who is likely to have a lifelong affiliation with the club.

Even at 32 years old Messi would still likely command one of the highest transfer fees in the history of the game in the extremely unlikely event that Barcelona decide to sell him.


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Barcelona vs Valencia Preview: Where to Watch, Live Stream, Kick Off Time & Team News

?Barcelona will aim to complete a league and cup double when they face Valencia in the Copa del Rey final on Saturday evening.

Ernesto Valverde’s men have an outstanding record in this competition, their 30 wins being the most in its history, and they could become the first team to win it five times in a row with victory at Estadio Benito Villamarin. 

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Standing in their way is a Valencia team they finished 16 points ahead of this season but failed to beat during the league campaign, both games ending in stalemate.

Valencia only lost seven games in the league on the way to a fourth placed finish, and were Europa League semi finalists before exiting the competition at the hands of Arsenal.

Victory on Saturday will give Los Ches their eighth Copa del Rey and their first in 11 years.


Where to Watch

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When Is Kick Off? Saturday 25 May
What Time Is Kick Off? 20:00 (BST)
Where Is it Played? Estadio Benito Villamarin
TV Channel/Live Stream? N/A
Referee? Alberto Undiano Mallenco

Team News

?

Rafinha is a long term absentee for Barcelona, having ruptured his cruciate ?ligament last November.

?Ousmane Dembele, Arthur, Kevin-Prince Boateng and Philippe Coutinho all missed the last La Liga fixture of the season with various injuries but each have a chance of making Saturday’s match.

?Marc-Andre ter Stegen has discomfort in his right knee and has been ruled out, as has Luis Suarez, who is aiming for pre-season to make his return from a torn meniscus.

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Marcelino, Garcia Toral is without Lee Kang-in, who has been called up to the South Korea national team, while Ezequiel Garay missed the last match with a hamstring strain and is doubtful for this fixture.

Winger Denis Cheryshev has been out since April, with a stretched ligament, and will not be fit until next month.


Predicted Lineups

?

Barcelona Cillessen; Roberto, Pique, Lenglet, Alba; Busquets, ?Vidal, Rakitic; Malcom, Messi, Coutinho.
Valencia Domenech; Wass, Diakhaby, Paulista, Gaya; Soler, Parejo, Coquelin, Guedes; Rodrigo, Mina. 

Head to Head Record

Both games in the regular season were drawn. ?Barcelona were 2-0 down but fired back to gain a point when these two met at Camp Nou in February.

Four months earlier, Ezequiel Garay put Valencia ahead but ?Lionel Messi equalised and the match ended 1-1.


In 2017/18, there were four matches between the sides, with Barcelona coming out unbeaten – winning three of those games.

Valencia are without a win against Barcelona since a 2-1 triumph at Camp Nou in April 2016. In total, Barcelona have 32 victories over Els Taronges, they have lost to them 14 times and they have shared the spoils on 18 occasions.


Recent Form

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The La Liga champions are on a decent run at the moment, minus their capitulation against Liverpool ?in the semi final of the Champions League.

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They won the title a month ago and ended up finishing 11 points ahead of Atletico Madrid, but have taken their foot off the gas since securing ?La Liga for the 26th time.

Their opponents finished 2018/19 strongly, winning their last two fixtures, and qualifying for Europe’s premier competition next season.

Here’s how each side has fared in their last five games.

Barcelona

Valencia
Eibar 2-2 Barcelona (19/5) Valladolid 0-2 Valencia (18/5)
Barcelona 2-0 Getafe (12/5) Valencia 3-1 Alaves (12/5)
Liverpool 4-0 Barcelona (7/5) Valencia 2-4 Arsenal (9/5)
Celta Vigo 2-0 Barcelona (4/5) Huesca 2-6 Valencia (5/5)
Barcelona 3-0 Liverpool (1/5) Arsenal 3-1 Valencia (2/5)

Prediction

?

They may have fallen short in Europe but Barcelona are formidable when it comes to domestic matters, and they are strong favorites to lift the Copa del Rey trophy. However, they have found Valencia difficult opponents recently.

If they want to win, Valencia must shackle Lionel Messi and take their chances when they arrive – Barcelona are not as strong at the back as they used to be.

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This will be a tight contest, Barcelona should have enough to edge it and end the season on a high.

Prediction: Barcelona 2-1 Valencia

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Transfer Rumours: Mata to Newcastle, Camarasa Wanted by Duo, Inter Baulk at Darmian Fee & More

?The infinite monkey theorem states that a monkey hitting keys at random on a typewriter for an infinite amount of time will produce any text, such as the entirety of  Shakespeare’s works – or yet another Manchester United transfer rumour.

Although this time, for a change, it’s about players leaving Old Trafford. It doesn’t stop there though, oh no, and we’ve also got some rumours coming out of Spain and Germany to keep things fresh.

So without babbling on any further, here’s your roundup all of things transfer related for today.


Rafael Benitez Keen on Juan Mata Reunion 

Juan Mata,Rafael Benitez

As is clearly abundantly evident, unless you’ve been living under a rock for quite some time, Benitez isn’t blessed with a shedload of money in the north east. The deciding factor on whether he opts to stay with ?Newcastle hinges on Mike Ashley’s willingness to unzip his Sports Direct trackie bottoms and splash a bit of cash.

Well, either way, ??The Sun? claim Benitez fancies a one particular player who would be available for diddly squat this summer, as Mata’s ?United contract is set to expire. He can’t get too carried away though, as if the Magpies were to lure Mata to the north east it would break certain club policies of signing players over 26. Furthermore, the Spaniard would be asking for considerable wages to switch to St. James’ Park.

Benitez worked with Mata when he managed Chelsea during the 2012/13 season and is eager to add his creative spark to his squad.


Wolves & West Ham After Cardiff’s Spanish Loan Signing

Victor Camarasa

It didn’t end well for Cardiff this season, as relegation was confirmed to the Championship at the first time of asking.

The one player who seemingly caught the eye, however, wasn’t even one of their permanent players. Victor Camarasa was the club’s joint top scorer with five goals during the 2018/19 season, enough to prompt duo ?Wolves and ?West Ham to fancy bringing the Real Betis player back to the ?Premier League.

His one-year loan stint in Wales seems to have done him some favours according to the ?Daily Mail, with a possible return to England on the cards.


Inter Unsurprisingly Don’t Agree With Manchester United’s Valuation of Matteo Darmian

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For the 100th time there are suggestions that Darmian might return to Italy with ?Inter, yet again, willing to offer the right back a one-way ticket out of his miserable four-year stint at Old Trafford.

?FC inter News state that the Serie A outfit are back in towards 29-year-old Darmian who has mustered just 14 league appearances in the past two seasons.

Naturally, United are keen on a refund for the player they paid £12.7m for but the €10-12m they’re asking for is double Inter’s valuation. Poor, poor Darmian, although with the player earning €3m net maybe he could fund the move himself? Ha, fat chance.


Arsenal Eyeing Goalkeeping Reinforcements With Unknown Bundesliga 2 Player

Markus Schubert

Hats off if you had heard of Markus Schubert before you just read his name, because you clearly know too much about football. Or, you are a Dynamo Dresden fan.

Petr Cech’s departure from not just ?Arsenal but playing football entirely is just one match away, and Unai Emery is keen on making a swift move to replace the legendary Czech by scooping up the 20-year-old on a free transfer, according to ?Bild.? Schubert has run down his deal with Dresden therefore offers the Gunners with the kind of move that suits their pitiful transfer budget.

Highly regarded in his native Germany, the goalkeeper made 43 appearances for the second-tier side this season, keeping 12 clean sheets in the process.


Barcelona Toying With the Option of Filipe Luis as Jordi Alba Backup

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Blessed with talent across the pitch, it’s hardly like ?Barcelona need to go gung-ho in signing players worth upwards of £60m. Except, they already have, and, it looks likely that they will again.


?Well, either way, there is no need to spend any more money in transfer fees if 
?Sport are to be believed – with the club are mulling over the free signing of Filipe Luis who is set t leave ?La Liga rivals ?Atletico. The Brazilian left back is out of contract with Los Rojiblancos and seeking a new challenge, so bench warming at the Camp Nou might tickles his tastebuds.

Alba is unquestionably the number one but, even at 33 years old, Luis would offer the Spaniard a chance for a rest every now and then after several seasons of solid displays in the top leagues.


Bayern Munich Have ‘Agreement in Principle’ for Everton’s Forgotten Man Henry Onyekuru

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?Everton are crying out for a talented, goalscoring forward, but have seemingly failed to see what is right in front of them. 

Onyekuru joined from Eupen back in 2017 for £7m before immediately being sent on loan to Anderlecht. There, he netted ten times before Galatasaray took note of the Nigerian’s ability and he joined them for the 2018/19 campaign.

He has torn it up in the Super Lig, netting 12 league goals in 26 games, showcasing a real eye for goal. Now, Kewse Sports’ ?Colin Udoh claims ?Bayern have an ‘agreement’ to sign the player and that a deal is ‘close’. You don’t get pinched by the Bundesliga champions if you’re rubbish, yet still Marco Silva would prefer to persist with Cenk Tosun up front. Go figure. 


Watford Striker Offered Huge Wages to Join Schalke

Dodi Lukebakio

?Watford’s Dodi Lukebakio has garnered some attention after successful loan stint for Fortuna Dusseldorf this season.

11 goals in 23 outings is a fair return for the 21-year-old Belgian, as fellow German side Schalke are looking to offer the winger a deal with significant financial benefits. SportBild, as relayed by ?Sport Witness, claim Die Knappen have ‘promised’ to blow his current €500k-per-year wages out of the water and attempt to lure him to Gelsenkirchen with a basic salary that could reach €5m.

Watford are after a €20m fee to part with the player they brought in from Anderlecht, which could act as a slight stumbling block for the Bundesliga side, however.


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#WePlayStrong: Behind the Scenes at the Women’s Champions League Final as UEFA Launch New Strategy

?The moment that the UEFA Women’s Champions League final kicked off in Budapest, it was already a success. 

24 hours previous, UEFA had launched their first ever women’s football strategy, by the time kick off came there were nearly 20,000 fans in the stadium, and importantly, this was first time ever that a Women’s Champions League final had its own host city. 

At a time when every single host nation or city of any tournament is seemingly under a lot of scrutiny – Budapest was the perfect choice.

It’s not only beautiful in terms of the history, architecture and weather…but also let’s face it, the atmosphere, the buzz and the nightlife (stag do’s aside) is incredible. Budapest, even before the football ramped up, had that almost in-built away day electricity you so often feel when you’re out and about at a European Championships or World Cup. 

Of course, it’s an incredibly popular tourist city and that won’t change when the fans of women’s footballing elite leave, but the fact that the Women’s Champions League final could seamlessly slot in and further elevate an already upbeat city is the dream scenario for any huge fixture.

In the build up to the game, Nike made room for a group of us to get on out to experience a street football masterclass in the shadow of one of Budapest’s most beautiful landmarks, Fisherman’s Bastion, which was to be honest…awesome. We then moved on to watching the first ever European Women’s Football Freestyle Championships – yet another example of the different ways that the women’s game continues to grow.

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If you’re someone that follows the women’s game, and you know what, even if you aren’t, this period of time now feels so significant. With the World Cup around the corner, and some of football’s dinosaurs finally becoming extinct, there’s a tidal wave of optimism around women’s football that gives you a bigger buzz with every game you go to.

Even in light of UEFA launching their first ever women’s football strategy with some aggressive targets, if you take the binary number based stuff away, and instead focus on the #WePlayStrong message that has been been embraced, women’s football is in a magnificent place.

At this point, It’s necessary for me to say…

The job is not done.

Parity has not been achieved.

Equality should be strived for.

The pay for players and staff is not nearly good enough.

The media coverage is not as committed and thorough as it should be.

The commercial partnerships are only scratching the surface.

We can all do more.

But sometimes it’s nice to pump the brakes, even if just for a second, to see how much has been achieved in a small space of time.

From a British perspective, Jess Fishlock, Lucy Bronze and Toni Duggan all featured in the highest profile domestic game of the season, just a couple of weeks away from the biggest World Cup the women’s game has ever had. For Jess and Lucy it was an exciting and impressive win, as it was of course for Lyon, their 4th UWCL title in a row.

For Toni Duggan, it was a little more cruel. Having moved to Barcelona to try and win the Champions League, it was a bitter pill to swallow. She told 90min after the game, with a wobble in her voice and tears streaming down her face, “that’s football”.


She’s right…that is football, but, Toni once again showed us what makes women’s football so special. At one of the toughest moments in her career, she still took the time to talk and recognise, that she was a role model and inspiration to many, a friend, a teammate and a Lioness. 

She was honest, passionate, sincere and a perfect sportswoman in the face of what must have been honestly, an incredibly crap moment to experience. She said how proud she was of Lucy Bronze and how focused she was on winning the World Cup with the Lionesses.

Shanice van de Sanden,Ada Hegerberg,Lucy Bronze

Lots have raised concerns that as the women’s game grows it will become harder and harder to keep its authenticity, or to keep the closeness and intimacy between fans and the players. 

But at this important moment in time, based on the atmosphere in Budapest, the atmosphere in the stadium, the commercial partners on board, the character of the players and the passion of the fans it looks as though it’s in incredibly good hands.

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Chelsea Revealed as Only Premier League Club Interested in Signing Philippe Coutinho

?Chelsea are interested in signing Barcelona flop Philippe Coutinho if they avoid their two-window transfer ban this summer. 

The Blues are currently looking for a replacement for Belgian superstar Eden Hazard, who looks set to switch Stamford Bridge for the Santiago Bernabeu in a big money move to Real Madrid, with a possible successor for the 28-year-old coming in the form of ex-Liverpool ace Coutinho.

Coutinho has not had the greatest time since signing for Barcelona back in 2018, only contributing to seven goals in 34 appearances in this most recent La Liga campaign, and a trip back to the Premier League could offer him an exit from Camp Nou.

Philippe Coutinho

Spanish radio network? ?Cadena Ser claim the only Premier League club that has shown an interest in signing the Brazilian is ?Chelsea.

But the Blues are currently enduring a two-window transfer ban for breaching Article 19 of the Regulations on the Status and Transfer of Players and are looking to appeal this ban to the Court of Arbitration for Sport, which would see the sanction lifted if successful.

If the ban is overturned Chelsea may look to secure Coutinho’s services a year and a half after the former Inter ace left England for Catalonia.

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However, if the ban is not overturned it’s unlikely Coutinho will return to the ?Premier League anytime soon. He may be pushed further down the pecking order with Barca rumoured to be interested in signing Antoine Griezmann.

Chelsea are looking at possible attacking options to replace ?Hazard, and may have to consider the likes of Tammy Abraham and Michy Batshuayi as opposed to global superstars like Coutinho if their transfer ban is not overturned. 

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France Squad Call-Ups: 7 Premier League Stars Feature, Lenglet Earns Spot & Lacazette Snubbed

??Arsenal striker ?Alexandre Lacazette has been left out of the France squad for the upcoming Euro 2020 qualifiers, while ?Barcelona’s Clement Lenglet has been included for the first time.

Depsite being named the Gunners’ Player of the Season earlier this month, there is no place for Lacazette in Didier Deschamps’ 23-man squad, which instead includes ?Chelsea’s ?Olivier Giroud and Sevilla’s Wissam Ben Yedder for June’s qualifiers against Turkey and Andorra.


Deschamps, explaining Lacazette’s omission, said via the ?Metro: “There’s no reason for us not to see him again, I had a difficult choice to make, with Ben Yedder coming out of a big season too.

“I have a choice to make and I chose Wissam [Ben Yedder]. He has scored 30 goals in all competitions this season. He scored in big games, he knows how to play in alone in attack. He’s named in this group of attackers as another option at one time or another.”

Meanwhile, Barça centre-back Lenglet has been included for the first time after an impressive debut season at the Camp Nou, where he has made 44 appearances and edged compatriot Samuel Umtiti out of the starting lineup.

?Manchester City’s Aymeric Laporte, however, is snubbed yet again by Deschamps despite starring in the Citizens’ treble-winning season and being named in the PFA Team of the Year, with Chelsea defender Kurt Zouma among the preferred defenders after an impressive season on loan at ?Everton.

Kurt Zouma

Lenglet isn’t the only new face in this French camp, as Lyon full-back Leo Dubois and Lille goalkeeper Mike Maignan prepare to join up with the World Cup winners for the first time next month.

Chelsea midfielder ?N’Golo Kante has struggled with injury of late, but having returned to training ahead of the Europa League final, the 28-year-old has been named among Deschamps’ midfielders alongside ?Manchester United’s ?Paul Pogba.

N'golo Kante,Paul Pogba

Les Bleus take on Bolivia in a friendly on June 2, before two qualifiers away from home against Turkey on June 6 and Andorra on June 11. 


GoalkeepersAlphonse Areola, Benjamin Lecomte, Hugo Lloris, Mike Maignan.

Defenders: Lucas Digne, Clement Lenglet, Ferland Mendy, Benjamin Pavard, Leo Dubois, Raphael Varane, Samuel Umtiti, Kurt Zouma

Midfielders: N’Golo Kante, Blaise Matuidi, Tanguy Ndombele, Paul Pogba, Moussa Sissoko

Forwards: Wissam Ben Yedder, Kingsley Coman, Olivier Giroud, Antoine Griezmann, Kylian Mbappe, Florian Thauvin.

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Tottenham & Barcelona ‘in Negotiations’ Over Potential Deals for Malcom & Andre Gomes

?Tottenham have entered negotiations with Barcelona for midfielder Andre Gomes and winger Malcom, Spanish newspaper Sport report.

Mauricio Pochettino is currently preparing for the biggest game of his managerial career, as Spurs take on Liverpool in next month’s Champions League final, but it looks like the Argentine boss is already plotting for next season.

Mauricio Pochettino

According to ?Sport, ?Tottenham have begun talks with ?Barça for the services of ?Andre Gomes as well as Malcom, with the latter valued at at least €40m.

Gomes has already gained one season of Premier League experience after spending the current campaign on loan at ?Everton, making 29 appearances during his spell at Goodison Park, with the Euro 2016 winner ?reportedly closing in on a €30m transfer to Tottenham.

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The Toffees’ loan deal for the Portuguese midfielder includes an option to buy, but Spurs’ offer is said to be higher and Gomes would favour a move to the Champions League finalists.

Meanwhile, Malcom only joined the Spanish champions last summer from French side Bordeaux but has struggled to gain the trust of Ernesto Valverde at the Camp Nou, where he made just six league starts in his debut season.

Pochettino famously failed to sign a single player during last summer’s transfer window, with Malcom’s compatriot Lucas Moura the last player to join the Lilywhites back in January 2018.

However, it looks like Spurs will be entering the market this time around as they look to build on another impressive season, which could see the north London side lift the Champions League trophy for the first time in their history next month.

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Argentina Officially Announce 23-Man Squad for 2019 Copa America

?Argentina have officially announced their 23-man squad for the 2019 Copa America in Brazil this summer.

Head coach Lionel Scaloni initially revealed a 40-man squad for the tournament, but he whittled that number down to 23 on Tuesday.

The biggest omission from the squad is ??Inter’s ?Mauro Icardi, who has been left out of the squad after missing a large portion of the season following a public falling out with the club. That, coupled with the fact that the striker has struggled for form since coming back into the side, has left Scaloni with little choice other than to leave him out.

Similarly unsurprising is the inclusion of ?Lionel Messi, who brought his temporary hiatus from international football to an end in March. He’ll no doubt be desperate to end his long wait for a trophy with Argentina after agonisingly missing out in the previous two Copa America finals.

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There are also inclusions for a handful of Premier League players, including Manchester City duo Sergio Aguero and Nicolas Otamendi, Watford’s Roberto Pereyra and Tottenham defender Juan Foyth.

This is the first time Aguero has been called up to represent the national side since Scaloni took over the reigns following La Seleccion’s disappointing World Cup campaign, so it remains to be seen how big a role he will end up playing in Brazil.

Argentina have been drawn in Group B  against Colombia, Paraguay and guest nation Qatar and will get their tournament underway on June 15.


Full Squad

Goalkeepers: Franco Armani (River Plate), Agustin Marchesin (Club America), Esteban Andrada (Boca Juniors)

Defenders: Nicolas Otamendi (Manchester City), Ramiro Funes Mori (Villarreal), Marcos Acuna (Sporting Lisbon), Nicolas Tagliafico (Ajax), German Pezzella (Fiorentina), Renzo Saravia (Racing), Juan Foyth (Tottenham Hotspur)

Midfielders: Angel Di Maria (PSG), Roberto Pereyra (Watford), Giovani Lo Celso (Real Betis), Leandro Paredes (PSG), Rodrigo De Paul (Udinese), Exequiel Palacios (River Plate), Guido Rodriguez (Club America)

Forwards: Lionel Messi (FC Barcelona), Sergio Aguero (Manchester City), Paulo Dybala (Juventus), Angel Correa (Atletico Madrid), Lautaro Martinez (Inter), Matias Suarez (River Plate)?

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The 11 Highest Paid Managers in European Football

The definition of what a football manager is may have changed over the years, but they are arguably still the most important person at a club as it remains their job to ‘manage’ the players, oversee training and pick the team, with responsibility for results, good or bad, at their door.

Here’s a look at the 11 highest paid managers (using annual salary) in European club football right now…


?Maurizio Sarri – £5m

Maurizio Sarri

When Chelsea finally secured a deal to hire ex-Napoli coach Maurizio Sarri last summer it was on a contract estimated to be worth £5m in wages each season.

Bizarrely, Sarri has been under pressure virtually ever since arriving and remains so. That is despite securing a return to the Champions League and reaching two cup finals.

Source: Evening Standard


Carlo Ancelotti – £5.3m/€6m

Carlo Ancelotti

Sarri is marginally out-earned by the man who replaced him at Napoli, former Chelsea boss Carlo Ancelotti, who is thought to have agreed a contract worth €6m per season last summer.

The Italian has at least kept Napoli steady in Serie A, securing a comfortable second place finish to ensure Champions League qualification, albeit on fewer points than under Sarri last season.

Source: The Guardian


Unai Emery – £6m

Unai Emery

Arsenal manager Unai Emery was reported to have signed a contract worth £6m per season when he agreed to take over from long-serving boss Arsene Wenger in May 2018.

So far, the Spaniard has overseen an improvement. The Gunners still finished outside the top four in 2018/19 but were seven points better off than a year ago and reached a European final.

Source: Daily Mirror


Manuel Pellegrini – £7m

Manuel Pellegrini

West Ham made a real statement when they brought former Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini back to the Premier League last summer on a contract paying up to £7m annually.

It was a somewhat mixed debut campaign for the Chilean in London, with the Hammers flirting with relegation to begin and eventually clawing their way into the top half to finish the season.

Source: Daily Telegraph


Jurgen Klopp – £7m

Jurgen Klopp

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp is estimated to earn at least £7m per season at Anfield, having arrived at the club in the autumn of 2015 to take over from Brendan Rodgers.

That money doesn’t make him anything like the best-paid manager in the Premier League, but it is believed to be close to double the salary he was taking home at old club Borussia Dortmund.

Source: Goal


Ole Gunnar Solskjaer – £7.5m

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer

Manchester United are thought to be paying Ole Gunnar Solskjaer just half the salary that predecessor Jose Mourinho was earning at Old Trafford, although £7.5m still marks a vast increase on the £400,000 the Norwegian is said to have been on at Molde last year.

The question now is whether Solskjaer can prove he is worth the faith by whipping an underperforming United squad into shape in time for next season.

Source: Daily Mirror


Mauricio Pochettino – £8.5m

Mauricio Pochettino

Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino signed a new contract worth £8.5m per season at the end of the 2017/18 campaign, committing his future to Spurs until 2023.

The Argentine has proven to be worth every penny in the first season of that bumper new deal, guiding Tottenham to a first-ever European Cup/Champions League final.

Source: Daily Telegraph


Zinedine Zidane – £10.5m/€12m

Zinedine Zidane

Zinedine Zidane walked back into the Real Madrid job in March and pocketed a hefty pay rise on the €7.5m plus bonuses he was reported to be earning during his first spell as Bernabeu coach.

This time around the four-time Champions League winner (three as a coach, one as a player) is said to be earning a net salary of €12m in the Spanish capital.

Source: El Confidencial


Pep Guardiola – £15.2m

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It was not clear last year whether Pep Guardiola’s contract extension came with a pay rise, but the Manchester City boss is the best-paid manager in the Premier League on at least £15m nonetheless.

The latest gossip is that after retaining the Premier League title and completing England’s first ever domestic treble, Guardiola is in line for a bumper new deal potentially worth £20m per year.

Source: Daily Telegraph


Ernesto Valverde – £20.2m/€23m

Ernesto Valverde

Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde has so far enjoyed a monopoly in La Liga after winning the Spanish title in each of his first two seasons at Camp Nou, although he has fallen short in Europe.

The 55-year-old only had a contract until the end of this season until relatively recently, but he extended it in February until the summer of 2020, with the option of a further year.

Source: France Football


Diego Simeone – £35.9m/€41m

Diego Simeone

The latest contract Diego Simeone signed at Atletico Madrid was reported to have put him on a salary around that of star player Antoine Griezmann.

Having spent three years with the club as a player, the Argentine returned to the club as coach in 2011 and has crammed a lot in, wining two Europa Leagues, the Copa del Rey, La Liga and reached two Champions League finals during that time.

Source: France Football


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