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Neymar issues term for Real Madrid move

By Emmanuel Onminyi with Agency report,

Following Real Madrid’s recent interest in Brazilian forward, Neymar, the player has told the club he will only move to the Bernabeu if he is joined by countryman and Paris Saint-Germain teammate, Marquinhos.

The Spanish giants have fallen behind rival, Barcelona, in the domestic league in the ongoing 2017/18 season, as the Catalan giants opened up a 16-point gap between them, with the recent acquisition of Philippe Coutinho billed to strengthen their position at the top of Spanish football.

The Enersto Valverde side are still keen on making a move for Antoine Griezmann in the summer with Barcelona president, Josep Maria Bartomeu, keeping his promise to Lionel Messi by surrounding him with world-class players.

Meanwhile, Neymar has consistently been linked with a move to the Spanish capital, with reports suggesting he is unhappy with life at PSG.

Although he only left Barcelona last summer for a world-record fee worth 198 million Pounds, Madrid are said to interested in tempting him to come back to La Liga.

However, Spanish outlet Mi Otra Liga, claims Neymar will only entertain a move if Marquinhos can join him at Madrid.

The central defender is seemingly looking for a way out of the French capital, and he plays in a position Real are desperate to strengthen.

Sergio Ramos and Raphael Varane currently occupy the two starting spots at centre-back but the latter has often been out injured leaving Zinedine Zidane short on options.

And it is claimed Real are considering a huge offer to sign both Neymar and Marquinhos in the summer.

Manchester City increases bid for Sanchez

By Emmanuel Onminyi with Agency report,

English Premier League powerhouse, Manchester City, have raised Alexis Sanchez‘s asking price to 40 million Pounds as they prepare an offer for the Chile international.

The 29-year-old will be available as a free agent at the end of the season when his contract expires, and the January window is the Arsenal’s final opportunity to receive a transfer fee for the forward.

Arsenal are open to negotiating a deal for Sanchez, while recent reports claimed that he was valued at 25 million Pounds. But the Gunners’ valuation is close to 40 million Pounds due to City’s circumstances.

Pep Guardiola was initially prepared to wait until the summer to sign Sanchez as he was wary of upsetting the balance of his City squad, who are 15 points clear at the top of the Premier League.

With Gabriel Jesus sidelined for up to six weeks with a knee ligament injury, Guardiola is desperate to reinforce his options in the attack as his only fit first-team striker is Sergio Aguero.

The report also claimed that Arsene Wenger is ‘increasingly resigned’ to the prospect of Sanchez leaving in January, despite publicly claiming that the player will be kept at Arsenal for the remainder of the campaign.

Sanchez came close to joining City in the closing stages of the 2017 summer window transfer, but Arsenal ended the 60 million Pounds deal as they were unable to sign a replacement before the deadline.

The former Barcelona striker did not feature in Arsenal’s FA Cup defeat to Nottingham Forest on Sunday, January 8, implying that he would be available for City in the competition, as well as their UEFA Champions League knockout phase fixtures.

 

 

 

Barcelona make strong bid for Coutinho

By Emmanuel Onminyi with Agency report,

Spanish giants, Barcelona, have announced that they are ready to pay 140 million Pounds to break Liverpool’s hold on their star player, Philippe Coutinho, as the push to secure the Brazilian forward begins.

The Spanish club hope to succeed with an initial payment of 105 million Pounds, followed by a 35 million Pounds addition  based on appearances and success, making Coutinho the second-most expensive footballer in history, behind Paris St-Germain’s Neymar.

Meanwhile, Kylian Mbappe would overtake Coutinho once his loan move to PSG from Monaco is made permanent in deal later in the summer of the ongoing season.

However, Liverpool do not want to sell the 25-year-old and are making strenuous efforts to keep him, the player remains intent on heading to the Nou Camp.

The Reds, who are not chasing replacements, are focusing on convincing Coutinho he can achieve Champions League ambitions at Anfield next season.

According to reports on The Age, manager of the side, Jurgen Klopp, has again refused to guarantee Coutinho’s stay. He insist, however, that the transfer saga would not cast a shadow over Liverpool’s coming games.

Coutinho and Mohamed Salah will be notable absentees in this week’s FA Cup third-round tie against Everton, as there are injury worries over both player.

 

Ousmane Dembele set for action after four months

By Emmanuel Onminyi with Agency report,

Barcelona’s record signing, Ousmane Dembele, has been given the green light to return to action after four months on the sidelines due to an injury he sustained while in action for the Catalan giants.

Dembele, who cost Barca an initial 96.8 million Pounds, rising to a possible 135.5 million Pound, when he joined from Borussia Dortmund in August in 2017, managed just three appearances for the Catalan giants before suffering a hamstring injury against Getafe on September 16, 2018.

The France international subsequently underwent surgery in Finland, and has been working his way back to fitness since.

He has now been Barca’s cleared by medical services, with a club statement saying: “After a lengthy recovery process from an injury to the femoral biceps on his left thigh, the 20-year-old Frenchman is now available for Ernesto Valverde.”

Barca will be in action against Celta Vigo in the Copa del Rey on Thursday, January 4, before taking on Levante in the La Liga on Sunday, where they will attempt to extend their nine-point lead at the top of the table.

Dembele became the second most expensive player in history when Barca invested almost half the 200.6 million Pounds they received from Neymar’s move to Paris St Germain earlier in the summer of 2017 on the former Borussia Dortmund player.

Atletico Madrid reports Barcelona to FIFA over contact with Griezmann

By Emmanuel Onminyi,

Spanish League powerhouse, Atletico Madrid have reported Barcelona to football’s governing body, FIFA, for “repeated contact” with French striker, Antoine Griezmann.

Griezmann, 26, signed a new Atletico contract in June that ties him to the capital club until 2022, although reported emerged this week claiming Barcelona were in talks with his representatives over a move to the Camp Nou.

“The complaint has been presented for repeated contact between Barcelona, the player and his team,” an Atletico source said.

“He is a player under a long contract and this can’t happen. Moreover, the club considers that it could affect the competition.”

Barca have previously found themselves in hot water with FIFA over their transfer dealings. The Catalan club were given a one-year transfer ban for the illegal recruitment of foreign minors that was served in 2015.

Should Barca be found guilty of illegally approaching Griezmann, they could be handed another ban on registering new players.

“We can confirm that we have received a complaint from Atletico de Madrid concerning the said matter,” a FIFA spokesperson told AFP.

Barca are reportedly willing to pay Griezmann’s 100 million Euro buyout clause at the end of the season to avoid negotiating with Atletico.

However, Griezmann said it would have been “dirty” to walk out on the club when their is no replacement for him until January, and manager of the side, Diego Simione, stated that the striker’s departure in the future is inevitable.

Ronaldo returns to training ahead El Clasico

By Emmanuel Onminyi,

Cristiano Ronaldo returned to full training on Friday with his Real Madrid teammates to quash fears he could miss Saturday’s El Clasico clash with Barcelona at Real’s Santiago Bernabeu.

The world player of the year received rough treatment as he scored the winner in the FIFA Club World Cup final over Brazilian club, Gremio, last weekend in Abu Dhabi, but Ronaldo had insisted he would be fit for the lunchtime visit of league leaders, Barcelona.

Reports suggested that Ronaldo did not train with the rest of the Madrid squad on Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday as a precaution.

Madrid who started the season on a poor note, will need Ronaldo in the form he has shown of late having scored five goals in his last four games as the Spanish champions look to claw their way back into the title race.

Zinedine Zidane’s men trail Barca by 11 points and are in fourth place also behind Atletico Madrid and Valencia, but they do have a game in hand on their rivals.

Meanwhile, the European champions have their UEFA Champions League title on the line as they face PSG in the Round-of-16, and coach of the French side, Unai Emery, has seized the El Clasico to spy on Real Madrid, in preparations for the epic encounter on February 14, 2018.

No Guard of Honour for Real Madrid ahead El Classico- Guillermo Amor

By Emmanuel Onminyi,

Ahead of the December 23 El Clasico match, much of the headlines have been about Barcelona opting not to form a guard of honour for Real Madrid after their Club World Cup win, but La Liga president, Javier Tebas, has though confirmed that if a team does not wish to do so, they do not have to.

Barcelona head into the match 11 points ahead of their fiercest rivals with reality setting in that the clash at Santiago Bernabeu is likely to be Madrid’s last chance of staying in the title race.

“If a club doesn’t want to form a guard of honour for Real Madrid, they don’t have to,” Tebas explained in an interview with Spanish daily, Marca.

“It’s Barcelona’s decision whether people like it or not. I don’t think it’s important at all, I don’t care if there are guards of honour, applause or even balloons.”

According to Guillermo Amor, the manager of Barcelona’s youth system as well as the director of institutional and sporting relations of the first team, the Catalan giants can only form a guard of honour if they were involved in the competition their rivals won.

He intimated: “In this club, the guard of honour is usually done when we participate in the same tournament as the champion.”

Barcelona go Saturday’s game as Spanish league leaders, while Real Madrid head into the game on the backdrop of their recent Club World Cup triumph.

 

We have to win group stage before World Cup glory- Messi

By Emmanuel Onminyi,

Argentina superstar, Lionel Messi, says he wants to play in the World Cup final for the second time in a row, but stressed that the two-time world champions have to overcome Nigeria, Croatia and Iceland in the group stage first.

The Barcelona super star was speaking shortly after he was handed the Pichichi (top goalscorer in La Liga) and Di Stefano award, a prize for the best player in the Spanish Leagues.

When asked the possibility of facing Spain in the final of the 2018 World Cup, Messi told Spanish paper, Marca, : ”It would be something incredible to be able to play in a World Cup final again. First we have to think about the group, which is difficult, and then we will see what happens…”

Germany beat Argentina 1-0 in the final of the 2014 World Cup in Brazil courtesy of a Mario Gotze 113th minute strike, making it the fourth time the Germans lifted the coveted trophy.

The Super Eagles will face Argentina in the final Group D match at Krestovsky Stadium, Saint Petersburg, on June 26, 2018. The meeting would make it the fifth time both teams would meet at the World Cup, having already met at the 1994, 2002, 2010, and 2014 editions.

Guardiola named EPL coach of the month, as Salah win best player

By Emmanuel Onminyi,

Following a sterling performance all month long, Manchester City’s boss, Pep Guardiola, has been named English Premier League Manager of the Month for the third time in a row.

City recorded victories over Arsenal, Leicester City, Huddersfield and Southampton during the month of November under the Spaniard.

The four-straight wins were part of his side’s record-breaking run of 15 successive Premier League victories, which they clinched against Swansea City on December 13.

The former Barcelona coach becomes the second manager ever to win the award for the third time in succession, matching Chelsea manager, Antonio Conte’s feat, in the 2016/17 season.

Guardiola saw off competition from Chelsea’s Antonio Conte, Liverpool’s Jurgen Klopp, Burnley’s Sean Dyche, Manchester United’s Jose Mourinho, and Arsenal’s Arsene Wenger to win the prize again.

Meanwhile, Liverpool’s Mohammed Salah won the Premier League’s Player of the Month award for November, becoming the first Egyptian to do so.

The newly crowned BBC African Footballer of the Year has been in stellar form ever since joining the Reds from Roma in the summer, hitting 13 goals to lead the race for the Golden Boot.

Seven of those strikes came in four games in November, with Salah hitting braces in the wins over West Ham, Southampton and Stoke, as well as scoring in the 1-1 home draw against his former club, Chelsea.

The former FC Basel player took his goals-coring form into December, scoring against Spartak Moscow, and Everton.

Salah beat Robbie Brady (Burnley), Kevin De Bruyne (Manchester City), Eden Hazard (Chelsea), Shkodran Mustafi (Arsenal), Raheem Sterling (Manchester City) and Ashley Young (Manchester United) to the award.

Griezmann free to leave- Simeone

By Emmanuel Onminyi,

As a result of their poor form in the 2017/18 season, Atletico Madrid’s coach, Diego Simeone, has confirmed that Antoine Griezmann will be allowed to leave the club.

The 26-year-old is reported to be a target for a number of Europe’s largest clubs, with Manchester United linked with a move for the France international last summer.

Griezmann is expected to remain at Atletico for the remainder of the season, but he has been given the nod by Simeone to leave the club in the future.

Although there are indications of the attacker remaining at the club in the new year, the club is preparing for life without him, as Barcelona and Manchester United are leading the race for his signature.

The Frenchman has endured a rough start to the current campaign with Atletico since the team moved to their new stadium, Wanda Metropolitano.

The Spanish giants who made it to two UEFA Champions League finals in three seasons, and losing out to city rivals, Real Madrid, on both occasions, have crashed out of the current season Champions League, and they are third on the La liga table with 33 points, 6 points behind leaders, Barcelona.

With the attacker’s present form, staying with Atletico may prove a tall order, especially with the interest from other top clubs.