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Newcastle step up interest in Mangala

Pqremier League side, Newcastle have reportedly stepped up their interest in Manchester City defender, Eliaquim Mangala as the end of transfer window draws closer.

The French International has been kept on the bench for the majority of his 3years at the Etihad stadium after completing a £32 million transfer from FC Porto in 2014.

He had some game time in 2015/16 Premier League season but performed below standard and has since then struggled to get a consistent run of matches after returning from his loan to Valencia in 2017/18.

He featured in 30 league games for the Spanish side in 2016/17, it was expected that he will be signed permanently but somehow, he found himself in Manchester again where his future is now under serious threats.

Injuries to former Everton defender, John Stones and Club captain, Vincent Kompany at different times two seasons ago saw him return to the starting line-up for some games although his inconsistency and repeating errors led to loud disinterest in him from the club fans.

With the arrival of new signing Aymeric Laporte from Athletic Bilbao and Argentine, Nicolas Otamendi alongside regular starter John Stones and Vincent Kompany at the center of City’s defense, it is evident that the competition for places will be even tougher and it is most likely the 26-year old will be shipped off to another club.

Newcastle seemed to be in a pole position to capitalize on the several options of City but we are yet to be sure if this will materialize before the end of the transfer window in few hours.

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Confirmed: Amin Younes agrees to join Napoli

Ajax midfielder, Amin Younes who has been a subject of transfer speculations over the past few weeks has finally put the rumors to an end by agreeing to join Serie A leaders, Napoli

It was reported earlier that the 24-year old winger is keen on continuing his development at a top club hence his decision to link up with Napoli as he has only six months left on his contract with Eredivisie side, Ajax.

His representative, Nicola Innocentin has earlier confirmed the reported interests from Napoli, Inter Milan, Sevilla amongst a host of other top European clubs. It is now certain that Younes will join the league leaders as a free agent at the end of the season. He should have joined this transfer window had it not been for some serious personal matters not for his current employer, Ajax.

Reports emanating today stated that Ajax are asking for more than the €5m they once demanded even as the German International has completed his medicals with his new club.

While speaking with GianlucaDiMarzio.com, his representative said: “After baseless rumors that circulated in Naples today, I will like to clarify that the player went to Rome for a medical and to sign the pre-contract agreement for June, because that was the initial agreement,”

“The day after, he had a further blood test in Naples and went to see the game at the Stadio San Paolo, waiting for Ajax and Napoli to agree on the transfer.

“Meanwhile, the lad had some serious personal matters that relate to his family to deal with and those prompted him to ask the two clubs to postpone the transfer to June.

“Therefore, I wish to make it clear that Younes has returned to Germany purely because of family matters.”

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Mahrez hands transfer request to Leicester amid £50m interest from Manchester City

Former PFA Player of the season, Riyad Mahrez has submitted a transfer request amid reports that he is a target for League leaders, Manchester City for £50million.

City had earlier completed the deal to sign Athletic Bilbao defender, Aymeric Laporte after the French International has joined the club for a record fee of £57million.

Based on various reports about transfers which will be concluded in less than 48hours, the Citizens are keen on bringing the 26-year old to Etihad even if the price is higher than the £50million reportedly offered.

Leicester City Manager, Claude Puel has stated earlier this month that his highly prized possession is worth about double the price.

“Perhaps; maybe in the summer he will cost even more than £100m,” said Puel.

“It’s just rumors, noise about him. We can see Riyad smile, enjoying his football, enjoying to play with his team-mates.”

The former EPL Champions denied the Algerian International a move to Italy to join Roma last summer even with three bids that were offered after the player similarly handed in a transfer request.

City lost Sane to an ankle injury a few days ago after a reckless tackle by Joseph Bennett in their 2-0 victory over Cardiff City in the FA Cup and Mahrez would be an ideal replacement for the German.

After a busy transfer day shadowed with the imminent announcement of Pierre Emerick Aubameyang as a Gunner, City has also concluded the signing of New York City midfielder, Jack Harrison on a three-and-a-half-year deal although he will be going on loan immediately to Middlesbrough until the end of the season.

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The whistles from the fans did hurt – Neymar

World Most Expensive Player, Neymar Jr has explained that he was hurt as a result of the boos he was subjected to from the PSG fans last week after denying Uruguayan, Edinson Cavani from taking a spot kick to become the all-time leading goal scorer for the Paris club in the late minutes of their game against Dijon which they already lead 7-0.
The Brazilian declined to gift the opportunity to Cavani in a game that losing the spot-kick wouldn’t have mattered to the peril of the fans.
He took the ball to take the Penalty which he duly converted to make the scoreline 8-0 while Cavani also claimed the record when he broke the deadlock in the League leader’s 4-0 victory over Montpellier last weekend, a game Neymar scored twice.
With rumours making the rounds about a possible return to Spain with Real Madrid due to certain unrest in the Paris camp, he claimed he is happy although he admitted he was hurt with the boos and whistles.
“Of course, it [the whistling] bothered me, but we are here to be whistled and applauded,” Neymar said. “I am happy, especially for the victory. I think we played well.
“It was impossible not to know [about the record]. The coach chose me as the penalty taker though, and there is no problem with this.
“Everyone [in the team] knows what went on in the changing room, the coach decided and I take on that responsibility.
“I am calm and happy here with my friends and teammates. I came here to make history, give my best and score a lot of goals.
“I’m very happy for him and I’ll try to carry on helping him in every game. I hope that he continues to score a lot more goals for PSG, of course.”

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It will be difficult to replace Coutinho in January – Klopp

Liverpool Manager, Jurgen Klopp has rubbished claims of an immediate replacement for the former talisman, Philippe Coutinho as he clearly stated that the club has no intention of replacing the Brazilian this January despite back to back defeats.
The Reds suffered a demeaning loss to Swansea in the Premier League days after condemning Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City to their first defeat of the season and thereafter suffered another loss to West Bromwich Albion in the FA Cup last weekend. Yet the German tactician has hinted that the 142 million gotten from the sale of Coutinho will not be spent this month.
“Phil Coutinho is not to be replaced in this transfer window. We can stop thinking about it,” said Klopp,
“It is not about replacing anyone, it is about using our own opportunities, our own tools, players, tactics, and formations.
“Yes, it is right we didn’t play well at Swansea but a few days before we played fantastic against Man City.
“We could have won at Swansea and exactly the same with the last game. It was not about creating chances, it was about different things.
“I don’t think Phil would have helped a lot in these situations.
“We have to get immediately back on the winning track and we need results to reach our targets, we know that, but the solution is not out there in the transfer market in this moment.
“We always have open eyes in situations like that but it is not like there is something out there for us to get because we really think we have to use, first of all, our players.”
However, Klopp’s Liverpool travels to face Huddersfield tomorrow night where he will be meeting his bosom friend David Wagner.
They are in a difficult spell as well having won once in their last eight attempts.
“It is how football is, how life is. Two weeks ago, we had an 18-game unbeaten run and then you lose twice and everything feels different,” added Klopp.
“That’s OK because for us it is important you feel it and don’t think it is not important.”

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We have to get an away goal at Atlanta – Allegri

Juventus Manager, Massimiliano Allegri has stated that his side has to get an important away goal in their first leg Coppa Italia semi-final clash with the surprise of the season, Atalanta. While speaking in his pre-match press conference ahead of their trip to Bergamo, the former AC Milan Boss said:
“It’s a different game to the one in the League. We must score in this away leg, knowing we’re facing a team who are having a great time of it at the moment, and I congratulate Gasp for that.
“Still, everything will be played for in the return leg.”
As he has maximum respect for the work Atlanta Manager, Gian Gasperini has done at the club, he went on to add: “Atalanta have become a very tough team in our league and they deserve a lot of credit as does their manager, Gian Piero Gasperini, he is an adversary to be respected. They are doing very well in Europe, in the league and also in the cup, they also have some excellent youngsters.
“Playing in Bergamo is always complicated, we will need to be spot on with our balance, tactics, and technique. When we played Atalanta in the league we started well for the first half-hour, but then dropped off during the game and allowed our opponents back into it. Tomorrow is different, it’s a cup match and it’s 180 minutes, so we need to score on the road to take a lead to Turin.”
“Spinazzola and Caldara are two important players for Atalanta, who have grown a lot under the management of Gasperini. In June, we will see what to do about them.”

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Benitez calls for calm among fans as he hints at staying

Newcastle United Boss, Rafa Benitez has informed club supporters of his intentions of staying at the club for much longer thus calling for calm among the supporters.
According to reports from The Sunderland Echo, the former Real Madrid Manager who was initially believed to be on his way out of the club is interested in new contract talks with the club hierarchy once the transfer activities are over.
Benitez has made his frustrations with the club’s lack of transfer activity public as takeover talks have dominated the newspapers reports surrounding the club when other clubs are busy strengthening their squad in the transfer window.
However, as it now seems that Mike Ashley will remain in charge after claiming that Amanda Staveley’s PCP Capital Partners group likely purchase of the club is a total waste of time, it is possible that the Spaniard will continue at St’ James Park as the club focus more on footballing matters.
“I told Mike what I thought about that (the contract extension),” said Benitez while speaking with The Sunderland Echo.
“He knows my opinion, and we don’t have to talk now. I don’t have any problem with my future.
“I’m really pleased to be here and I love the city, the fans, the potential, everything.”
But Benitez didn’t completely give an all-out commitment to the club as he issued a warning that his future with the club is dependent on the club’s financial situation, as he added: “I can give my opinion in terms of football operations. But everything is subject to the financial position of the club.”
The 57-year old is greatly loved by the Magpies fans as they believe he will help turn around the club’s fortune after a poor string of results.

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Guardiola left furious after Leroy Sane Injury

Manchester City Manager, Pep Guardiola has angrily lashed out at referees to do their job and protect attacking players after Leroy Sane suffered an ugly injury in City’s FA Cup win at Cardiff City.
His Manchester City league-leading side eased past the Welsh side with a 2-0 victory, a game that was outrightly dominated by the Citizens. However, there was a low point in the game for the former Barcelona Manager.
During his post-match press conference. Guardiola confirmed that the German forward could be out of action for up to a month. He said: “For football general players are the artists. The only thing they can do is protect them,”
“Referees have to protect, not just mine, all players. Sane will be out for a while. Maybe two or three weeks, or a month, we will see tomorrow. It’s his ankle.
“I know my players because it’s not just one, there was many. They decided to play in that way. There is one man who has to decide what is correct and what is incorrect. If he doesn’t anything can happen.”
As a result of this, Sane could be unavailable for Premier League games against West Bromwich Albion, Burnley, and Leicester, and he will also be considered a doubt for their Champions League Round of 16 first-leg clashes at Basel on February 13.
The 22-year old was fouled late in the first half by Joseph Bennett after he [Sane] picked up the ball from his own half, ran at full speed and was on course to be through into Cardiff’s penalty box. The severity of the challenge was unclear at first but replays showed the extent of the tackle which got Sane to be replaced.
The 27-year old Bennett was later shown his marching orders after another hard tackle on Brahim Diaz.

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VAR allowed Cutrone handball goal to leave Inzaghi disappointed

Lazio Manager, Simone Inzaghi described allowing Milan’s Patrick Cutrone’s goal to stand as simply “incredible” as it condemned his side to a 2-1 loss to rival, AC Milan.

Cutrone was well positioned to poach in Hakan Calhanoglu’s delivery into the box to break the deadlock. However, replays made it clear that the goal was scored through his arm rather than his head.

Giacomo Bonaventura headed in later to cancel out Lazio’s Adam Marusic equalizer to give the Rossoneri all three points thereby sealing their third Serie A victory in a row.

The former Italian footballer, Inzaghi has earlier protested in December that VAR had denied his side valuable seven points due to contentious decisions in their games with Inter Milan, Fiorentina, and Torino and now allowing Cutrone’s goal to stand is the latest of the 41-year old displeasure.

While speaking with Mediaset Premium, he said: “It’s incredible. Honestly, I didn’t notice it [at the time]. They’ll have to explain this one to us, too,”

“They told me on the touchline and I asked Cutrone after the final whistle. He said it was deflected but it obviously wasn’t.

“It’s a shame. Once again, we have to deal with this situation. The pictures speak for themselves.

“I saw a very good performance in the second half and one that merited at least a point, but that’s football, you have to put the ball in the net. Milan did, and we didn’t.”

When Milan’s Manager, Gennaro Gattuso was also questioned about the controversial goal, he said: “I’ll be honest, I thought it was a header at first glance. Seeing it again from that angle, it was a goal that should’ve been disallowed. Having said that, it’s reductive to talk only about one incident. There were many chances and we rode our luck at times.”

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Sanchez work ethic is on another level – Herrera

New Manchester United signing, Alexis Sanchez was involved in United’s FA Cup 4th round clash with Yeovil Town on Friday to make his debut for his new club.
Mexican midfielder, Ander Herrera was delighted with the work rate of the untiring Chilean in his impressive debut.
The former Arsenal forward laid on two assists for his teammates as Manchester United eased to a 4-0 victory, a game that Herrera himself scored from his assist.
However, it was another feature of Alexis’ game on the evening that got his teammates to be all in love with the new acquisition.
When asked about his views on Alexis’ display by Manchester United TV Herrera said: “Yeah, amazing. He has played very well, but what I really like from him is the way he fights when he loses the ball.
“He is always ready to be the first defender of the team. That’s going to be very important for us.
“Of course, we know his quality. He is going to be amazing for us but the way his first, the way he defends I really like it.”
Alexis is definitely going to be available to make his Premier League debut for United when they visit Wembley to play Tottenham next Wednesday.
He is also likely to be involved in the Champions League Round of 16 first leg encounter with Sevilla next month.
The UEFA Champions League and FA Cup provide Jose Mourinho’s side with other probable routes to silverware, with Herrera eager to point out that every trophy still at their reach will be fought for.

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Arsenal receive Aubameyang boost

Arsenal is yet to meet Borussia Dortmund’s price for the Gabon International with only four days left in the January transfer window but there is likely to be a headway for them.
The Gunners are fully aware that time is not on their side on their Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang pursuit although things might now work in their favour.
Arsenal Manager, Arsene Wenger recently informed reporters that the North Londoners are not close to securing the Dortmund’s forward despite losing Alexis Sanchez to Manchester United they seem to be unwilling in meeting the striker’s price.
The Bundesliga side values the forward at $85m and thus want this price paid before considering selling. Wenger’s side, however, has only offered $71m for the 28-year-old.
Dortmund has thus grown upset with the Gunners and could be uninterested in the deal as time passes by but one thing that could work in Arsenal’s favour is the fact that a few key figures want Aubameyang out.
According to Sky Sports Germany, managing director Hans-Joachim Watzke and sporting director Michael Zorc are two authorities who believe the club would be better off without the wantaway attacker. This could go a long way to benefit the Gunners in this transfer saga.
Club Manager, Peter Stöger appears to be more lenient as he is likely to involve the former African footballer of the year in their Saturday Bundesliga clash with Freiburg.
Truly, a lot can happen between now and the transfer deadline by Wednesday. The Arsenal board could finally loosen their hold of their financial constraints and meet Dortmund’s asking price in time to have him available for Tuesday their Premier League’s clash with Swansea. However, things might also not go the way it is predicted which will be to the disappointment of the fans. 

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Klopp might be fired if he fails to deliver silverware – Toshack

Former Liverpool striker, John Toshack has warned that Manager, Jurgen Klopp might be fired at the end of the season if his team fails to deliver a trophy.
The former Borussia Dortmund Manager was appointed after Brendan Rodgers was fired in October 2015 and he guided the Anfield Club to an impressive end of the season as they were the finalist in the League Cup and the Europa League.
Klopp signed a six-year deal with Liverpool in the summer of 2016 and led the club to a fourth-place finish in the League last season.
Toshack believes that the ongoing season will be pivotal in the Manager’s career as he stated that the hierarchy at Liverpool would likely weigh his performance in the summer.
He said: “I think at Liverpool it’s about winning trophies, He [Klopp] seems a bright, happy-go-lucky type who obviously was successful at the last club he was in, in Germany but… I think this year, or by the end of next season, you need to see some kind of trophies there.”
“If not, particularly, the way football is these days, I think they’ll be looking to change again.
“I think this is a big season for Klopp. When the time comes, middle of May, end of May, will be time to sit back and look.”
He added that Klopp will have to address his team’s issues defensively to stand a genuine chance of delivering silverware to the club.
“Defensively, the Liverpool I knew, or the Liverpool we became to know over the years, win championships conceding 15 or 16 goals,” he said. “Liverpool concede far too many goals. However bright and attacking your football is, if you need to score three or four to win a game every week, it’s going to become very, very difficult.
“They’ve shipped in too many goals recently and I guess even a fourth-place finish this year would be, I think, as much as Liverpool can hope for.”

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Laporte set to join Manchester City after club agrees on £57m deal

Manchester City has agreed on a £57m deal for Athletic Bilbao’s Aymeric Laporte, with the young defender set to join City’s camp by next week.
The 23-year-old is expected to schedule and complete his medicals next week and then sign a five-year contract at the Etihad Stadium afterwards after City met the defender’s release clause.
After missing out on Virgil van Dijk who joined Liverpool and former Arsenal star, Alexis Sanchez in this transfer window, Manager Pep Guardiola will be delighted with this move which will serve as a defensive reinforcement with persistent injury concerns over captain, Vincent Kompany.
Laporte, who is yet to win a full cap for France but has featured in over 150 games for the Spanish side, Athletic Bilbao since making his impressive debut in 2012 can also play on the left side of the defence. He is earmarked to be a long-term defensive partner with former Everton defender, John Stones while also being able to fill in at left-back.
The Citizen, unfortunately, the lost summer signing, Benjamin Mendy to a ruptured anterior cruciate earlier in the season and Fabian Delph has been required to fill in with Danilo looking very uncomfortable in the position.
Although City was also linked with West Brom’s captain, Jonny Evans. That deal is now unlikely to happen with Laporte set to become City’s record signing. His deal will cost City £2m more than the amount paid for Kevin de Bruyne in 2015. The Belgium midfielder signed a new contract this week that will see him stay at the Etihad until 2023.
During his press conference earlier in the day, Guardiola was silent about his forthcoming signing. “He’s a player for Bilbao. It’s the same as other players in the clubs, I didn’t speak about previous players. If it happens, it happens-. If not, then it doesn’t,” he said.

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Juventus suffers another massive injury blow ahead of Champions League clash

Last season Champions League finalist, Juventus has suffered another massive injury blow to Juan Cuadrado as their Champions League Round of 16 clashes with Tottenham draws nearer. The midfielder is set to join a long list of first-team players on their treatment table.
Super talent, Paulo Dybala is suffering from a persistent thigh problem and with the Colombian set to be missing now, Spurs will be delighted with their chances.
The first leg of the Round of 16 ties will be played on February 13th in Turin, and Mauricio Pochettino’s will be hopeful of taking at least a point back to England.
The North Londoners will not be considered favourite in this encounter due to Juventus admirable history in this competition. However, the Old ladies will be very cautious as Spurs topped their group that comprised of Champions, Real Madrid and German giant, Borussia Dortmund.
According to reports from Calcio Mercato, the former Chelsea midfielder is expected to undergo a surgery to cure the enduring muscular problem.
The 29-year-old adds energy, pace and drive to Juventus’s game and his potential absence in the two encounters might be a thing of delight for Spurs.

Evans might leave if we get the right offer – Pardew

West Bromwich Albion Manager, Alan Pardew has stated that defender, Jonny Evans might leave the club this transfer window if his admirers present the right offer as rumours continue to link the experienced defender to Arsenal.
Manchester City, Liverpool, as well as Arsenal, have all been linked with the former Manchester United defender this month but West Brom is determined to take £30m before allowing the player to leave. With City closing in on Bilbao defender, Aymeric Laporte and Liverpool having signed Van Dijk from Southampton earlier this month, Arsenal might just have a free ride towards securing the veteran’s signature.
The Northern Ireland International was signed from Manchester United in 2015, he has featured in 87 games for West Brom as well as a total of 67 appearances for Northern Ireland. He has been a consistent figure in West Brom starting X1 this season making 21 league appearances in the process.
Pardew, while speaking with reporters during his press conference on Friday said: “Jonny is still at the football club and we haven’t had a bid put to us that is anywhere near acceptable. Therefore, he still remains a West Brom player,” 
“We’ve had a couple of inquiries of what we would be looking for, and the answer has been, ‘We’re not going to tell you’. You make a bid and you’ll get some gauge. What I will confirm is that Jonny Evans is a target for other clubs. We might sell if the price is right.”
 However, the Gunners have signed a defender this month already as they secured the signature of Greek U21 international Konstantinos Mavropanos from PAS Giannina, although they still need an experienced replacement for retiring club captain, Per Mertesacker, and injury-prone Laurent Koscielny.
Evans, 30 has seen it all in top-flight football. He made 198 appearances for Manchester United during his time there, winning three Premier League titles, four English Super Cups, two League Cups, one FIFA Club World Cup and one Champions League.

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Zidane admits he might be fired after woeful loss at home to Leganes

Under-fire Real Madrid Manager, Zinedine Zidane has admitted that it wouldn’t come as a shock to him should he be fired after his team was dumped out of the Spanish Copa del Rey on Wednesday at home to Leganes having held a 1-0 advantage.
The loss will be Madrid’s sixth defeat this season and their only hope of winning a silverware is tied to winning their tough clash with in-form Paris Saint Germain in the Champions League.
The La Liga Champions are 19 points behind rivals, Barcelona in the league, a position that is totally strange to Los Blancos considering their domination of Spanish football for many years. Zidane has conceded that any other loss might mean the end of his reign in Madrid.
“Of course. That is really clear,” Zidane said after Wednesday’s defeat “I am responsible for this, I’m the coach… today is a big failure for me.”
The FIFA World Best Manager who led the most decorated football team on the planet to back-to-back UEFA Champions League titles and the FIFA Club World Cup has an impressive 70.7%-win record with only 13 losses in his 123 games in charge. About half of those losses have occurred in the past four months to highlight the team’s terrible form.
Their Catalan rivals have literally run away with the League and now the Copa del Rey is out of reach after their elimination last night, the Champions is the only bright light.
However, winning the most coveted price in Club football will prove difficult for them this season as they will have to stop the attacking trio of Neymar, Kylian Mbappe and Edinson Cavani in their Round of 16 clash with PSG over two legs
According to Marca, losing to PSG could get Zidane fired but the manager has opted to look at things “positively.” He added: “We must apologize to the fans. We have a game on Saturday [against Villarreal] and on February 14 we have a Champions League game [against PSG].”

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Arsenal new boy, Henrikh Mkhitaryan eager to play with Mesut Ozil

Arsenal’s new signing from Manchester United, Henrikh Mkhitaryan has stated that he is very excited and eager to play with “assist king” Mesut Ozil as he looks forward to his debut for the Gunners.
The Armenia International who was seen at the Emirates before the League Cup clash with Chelsea on Wednesday is likely to play his first game for Arsenal by Tuesday next week against Swansea as he couldn’t feature in their 2-1 victory over the Blues in League Cup semi-final second leg last night because he is cup-tied.
While speaking with Arsenal Player before the game, the former Borussia Dortmund forward said that he is keen on joining the likes of Ozil and the rest on the pitch.
“Here at Arsenal I know that lots of players move a lot and it’s incredible the way [the team] plays. I will do my best to assist them as well,” he said.
“I think it will be really fun to play alongside Ozil. Everyone knows he’s a fantastic player, he’s an assist king! I look forward to it.
“I admire his intelligence, the way that he can understand the game, reads the game, plus the way he gives pace to the game and of course his final decision.”
The German superstar has provided six assists while scoring four goals for the Gunners this season after stepping up his game from a poor start to the season.
It is reported that Arsenal is also close to signing their target, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang from Mkhitaryan’s former team, Dortmund this January as they aim to strengthen their squad for the remaining part of the season to seal their push for a top-four finish.

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Lennon will bring a lot of experience into Burnley Squad – Dyche

Burnley Manager, Sean Dyche has insisted that new acquisition Aaron Lennon will bring inestimable loads of top-flight experience to the Clarets squad.

The England International who has over 350 appearances has featured for Everton, Leeds United and Tottenham Hotspur in his more than 14 years as a top-flight player. He also has 21 caps for the English national team and was once a major delight to the English media in his early spurs days.

Dyche was excited to see the 30-year-old in training on Tuesday morning after sealing his transfer from the Toffees and the Burnley boss believes that he will be a major advantage to them.

“The obvious advantages are his experience, along with his pace, said Dyche.

“He’s another rounded figure in the Premier League in our camp because we haven’t got that many.

“He can rub off on the players as well. Some do it by the way they go about their business and their understanding of the level.

“But he’s also got 21 England caps and that adds to his experience level, so it’s a bit of everything.

“He’s a different type of player in our camp because we want to keep shifting it forward.

“It’s finding that nice balance between players who can develop with us and players who are more rounded, who can add to the group.”

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Real Madrid Boss, Zidane denies reports of internal rift with board

Real Madrid Manager, Zinedine Zidane has stated that reports making the rounds that there is an internal rift among the Madrid board that involves him are untrue.

The Spanish La Liga Champions are trailing League leaders, Barcelona by 19 points in January and Zidane, who is typically expected to be urgent about bringing in new signings to help Los Blancos finish the season on a high note has expressed in a previous interview that his squad is good enough for him.

There were reports linking Athletic Bilbao goalkeeper, Kepa Arrizabalaga with the Spanish Capital club but the target has now extended his contract with Bilbao.

These and some other disagreements are believed to be the cause of misunderstandings between the two-time UEFA Champions League winning coach and the Madrid board.

The French Manager said he is focused on his squad to finish the season excellently. In his words, while speaking with The Express: “I said the other day that if the strategy of the club wants it, then all players can come in June, but my idea for the club, and we’re working together is not to change things at the moment and that’s all”

“It bothers me a little when I hear comments saying that I’ve ‘won the battle’. My main worry is my players and what they do at Real Madrid; the rest isn’t my business and doesn’t affect me. You know how it is, I face [the media], explain to you my way of thinking.”

“The important thing is my philosophy in that I’m with my players – they’re the important ones, the ones here.”

Madrid will be playing the second leg of their Copa del Rey encounter with Leganes on Wednesday evening and they have a 1-0 aggregate lead.

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Arsenal are favorite to secure Wembley ticket – Xhaka

Arsenal midfielder, Granit Xhaka has stated that his club are the favorite to win today’s EFL Cup Semi-final second leg clash with London rivals, Chelsea. The Swiss midfielder, who was in a confident mood believes that Chelsea is the proper opponent for the Gunners to book their place in the final.

The first leg of the encounter which was played in Stamford Bridge two weeks ago ended in a 0-0 draw and the winner of today’s second leg in Emirates will meet league leaders, Manchester City comes February in the final.

Xhaka, who has not been in a sublime form in recent games joined Arsenal in 2016 and was a member of the Arsenal team that defeated the Blues in the FA Cup final in Wembley in 2017. He was also part when Arsenal saw off Conte’s men again in the Community Shield earlier this season. The 25-year old is however optimistic about getting another chance to play in one of the stadia he truly loves.

“It is always special to play there,” the midfielder said while speaking with the Evening Standard. “I played my first senior game for Switzerland there. In my first year here, we won the FA Cup there.”

“Unfortunately, we can’t do that again this season but our aim now is to win the other two cup competitions we are still in.

“We played well at Chelsea in the first leg and have a big chance to win the return match and reach Wembley. Obviously, the cups are the quickest way to win trophies.”

Manchester City sealed their place in the final last night after edging out Championship side, Bristol City 5-3 on aggregates.

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Manchester United targets Barcelona midfielder, Andre Gomes in a £20m deal

It seems Portugal International, Andre Gomes [who earned a big-money transfer to the Nou Camp in 2016 summer after impressing during a two-year spell with Valencia] time at Barcelona is over as things are not going as planned for him with the Catalans.

The 24-year-old has been unable to hold down a consistent starting role under both Luis Enrique and new Manager, Ernesto Valverde with Gomes starting just 4 La Liga games so far, this season.

This has inspired rumours that Gomes might be considering a move away especially if he sees a top club knocking. A move to the English Premier League might be on the cards as Manchester United seems to be interested in his signature.

According to reports, the Red Devils are hoping to make a £20m swoop for the player after completing their swap deal to bring Alexis Sanchez to Old Trafford.

Barca spent £34m only 18 months ago and United’s price might persuade the Spanish League leaders to sell although they might require United to confirm to them that they will end their search for Antoine Griezmann.

The Red Devils pulling out of the race for the Atletico Madrid star forward would definitely make it easier for Barca to sign him in the summer as other reports say Mourinho is quite confident of securing a £20m deal for Gomes as he believes Barca will have to sell to balance their books after splashing out on Philippe Coutinho.

Mourinho is on the look-out for a permanent replacement for club legend, Michael Carrick as the veteran is set to retire in June and Belgian, Marouane Fellaini will also be out of contract in the summer.

Gomes would be a fascinating addition to the United team although he’s not progressed during his short stint at Nou Camp, he showed plenty of potential during his time at Valencia and it would be a huge bargain if United could land him for just £20m.

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PSG completes Diarra signing

Paris Saint-Germain has completed its first signing of the January transfer window by signing veteran midfielder Lassana Diarra on a short-term deal which will see him stay at the Parc des Princes until June 2019.

The France International who plays as a holding midfielder will once again play at a top club as he tries to resuscitate his football career in the French league after a successful stint at PSG’s arch-rival, Olympique de Marseille, that ended last year.

The much-experienced midfielder, who was born in Paris, before playing for a few months with United Arab Emirates club Al Jazira has also featured for Chelsea, Arsenal and Real Madrid, as he has won the English and Spanish league titles in 2006 and 2012. He also has 34 caps for France and featured at the European Championship in 2008 in his illustrious career

His incredible display for Marseille earned him a recall to the France national team, although he eventually pulled out of Didier Deschamps’ squad for Euro 2016 because of a left knee injury.

”I am very happy to have signed for my hometown club,” Diarra said.” Paris Saint-Germain represents a lot to me and, with the international dimension the club has taken in recent seasons, it is every player’s dream to play here. I am lucky enough to make this dream come true.”

Diarra signed on a free transfer and thus his transfer won’t affect PSG’s bank accounts, which are under UEFA’s scrutiny.

The Paris club is under pressure to sell some players to balance the books after splashing out about 402 million euros ($473 million) on forwards Neymar and Kylian Mbappe last summer. That led to Qatari-owned Paris Saint Germain being placed under close monitoring by UEFA for potential breaches of Financial Fair Play rules.

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Breaking: Burnley signs Lennon

Former Tottenham winger, Aaron Lennon has joined Burnley from Premier League club Everton for an undisclosed fee.

The England International chose to leave Goodison Park and move to Turf Moor after he fell down the pecking order following Theo Walcott’s arrival from Arsenal, as it is certain his game time will be further reduced. His signing has now been confirmed by the Clarets’ official website.

Lennon spent about three years on Merseyside with the Toffees, he will now wear jersey number 25 for his new club although details of his transfer contract were undisclosed.

The 30-year-old fast-foot winger was pleased to move to Lancashire, however, he revealed how much he was looking forward to helping Sean Dyche’s men move forward after a sensational start to the season.

He said: “Burnley was the club I wanted to come to and I can’t wait to get started. I’m looking forward to playing here.

“The club is moving forward and I want to hopefully play a part in that to keep it going in that direction.

“I think I’ve still got a lot to offer. I am only 30 and I still want to play at the highest level. I have missed a bit of football in the last year or so and I just want to get back and play as much as possible.

“I’ve never had an easy game against Burnley and this year they have done fantastic. They deserve to be where they are. Hopefully, I can help the side continue that and have a good end of the season.

“The team has done brilliantly. There are 14 games to go and hopefully, we can kick on and maintain a place in the top half, which would be brilliant for the football club.”

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Kevin De Bruyne signs new five-year deal at Manchester City

Manchester City midfielder, Kevin De Bruyne, who is arguably the best player in the Premier League so far, this season has signed a new five-year deal at the Etihad Stadium.
The former Chelsea player joined City from the German side, Wolfsburg in 2015. He has now committed himself to a long-term agreement with the Citizen which will see him stay until 2023.
While speaking to the club official website after the new deal was completed, De Bruyne said: “I am really happy to have signed this new deal,”
The 26-year-old has been in a remarkable form this season, contributing 10 assists and six goals in the Premier League to ensure City open up a massive 12-point gap at the top of the table.
He endured a torrid time at Chelsea under Jose Mourinho when his talent and quality was questioned, he has since then gone on to establish himself as a regular in Guardiola’s City after a similarly successful stint in Germany.
“As I’ve said previously, my intention has always been to stay here at City, where I’ve felt at home from day one,” De Bruyne added.
“Not only are we winning – we are playing great football. It’s a pleasure to be a part of and I’m really excited about what we can achieve in the coming years.”
The news of De Bruyne’s contract extension was officially announced at about the same time neighbours, Manchester United confirmed the signing of Arsenal’s Alexis Sanchez, who had been a major target for Guardiola’s side.

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Mourinho showers praise on new Manchester United signing, Alexis Sanchez

Manchester United Manager, Jose Mourinho has showered praise on his latest acquisition, Alexis Sanchez stating that “his ambition, drive and personality” will fit perfectly into Old Trafford.
The Chilean swapped Arsenal’s Emirates for Old Trafford with Armenian, Henrikh Mkhitaryan moving in the opposite direction. He was officially announced on Monday in a deal believed to be around £600,000 a week.
Being in a fine mood after completing one of his best deals since becoming United’s Manager, Mourinho was quoted speaking to the club official website: “Alexis is one of the best-attacking players in the world and he will complete our very young and talented group of attacking players.” 
“He will bring his ambition, drive, and personality, qualities that make a Manchester United player and a player that makes the team stronger and the supporters proud of their club dimension and prestige.”
Alexis, who we now wear the No 7 shirt at United in his first remarks as a Man United player said: “I am thrilled to be joining the biggest club in the world. I have spent three-and-a-half wonderful years at Arsenal and I bring with me very positive memories of that great club and its fans.
“The chance to play in this historic stadium and to work with Jose Mourinho was something I could not turn down.
“I am very proud to be the first Chilean player ever to play for United’s first team and I hope I can show our fans all around the world why the club wanted to bring me here.”
The former Arsenal man had an expectedly eventful Monday as he was sighted at an immigration office in Liverpool to seal his work permit after completing his Medicals in United’s training ground where he met with club legendary Manager, Sir Alex Ferguson.
As a result of this move, Alexis will become the highest paid player in the Premier League history and also United’s best-paid player on almost £600,000 a week with a basic wage of £350,000, £100,000 image rights and £144,000 in bonuses. 
Alexis said goodbye to his Arsenal team-mates on Friday after training with the rest of the team before their Premier League victory over Crystal Palace.  
He is now expected to join his new United team-mates on Tuesday as they start preparations for Friday’s FA Cup fourth-round clash with Yeovil Town, after a two day off from the weekend win over Burnley. 

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Mkhitaryan tags Arsenal move “a dream come true”

New signing, Henrikh Mkhitaryan has described his move to join the Gunners as “a dream come true” after finalizing his swap deal from Manchester United.
The former Borussia Dortmund forward was included in the deal that took Arsenal star, Alexis Sanchez to Old Trafford, he has thus joined Arsenal, signing a three-and-a-half-year contract at the Emirates.
The Armenian International had come close to joining Arsenal in the summer of 2016 when he would ultimately go to United, and at the age of 20 spoke of his wish to play under Arsenal Manager, Arsene Wenger, which he will soon be able to accomplish.
“I’m very happy that we could finish this deal and I’m very happy to be here,” Mkhitaryan said.
“It’s a dream come true because I’ve always dreamed of playing for Arsenal. Now that I’m here, I’ll do my best for this club to create history.”
Wenger has always been an admirer of Mkhitaryan and refused to agree Sanchez’s transfer to Manchester without the 29-year old coming the other way, though France International, Anthony Martial had been his first-choice in any swap deal.
While speaking of his latest signing, Wenger said: “Henrikh is a complete player. He creates chances, he defends well, he can absorb distances and he’s very committed as well.
“I must say he’s a player who has all the attributes.”
Mkhitaryan struggled to make a major impact at Old Trafford, as he scored only 13 goals and provided 11 assists in 63 appearances after joining the Manchester club 18 months ago.
Wenger, however, believes that he can help Mkhitaryan rediscover his 2015/16 season form when he scored 23 times and provided 32 assists in 52 games for Dortmund.

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Andre Silva is a class talent, he will get his chance at Milan – Abbiati

AC Milan team manager Christian Abbiati has guaranteed forward Andre Silva that his time will come and he will soon get his chance after he was again left out of the Serie A matchday starting XI away to Cagliari.
The 22-year old has not started a league game for Gennaro Gattuso’s Milan side, his last starring role was in their 3:0 Coppa Italia victory over Hellas Verona early in December as he can only make the bench in the team list for this weekend’s game.
His inability to get game time has prompted rumours of a probable move away from San Siro as he was linked with Arsenal and some few other top clubs earlier this month.
Championship leaders Wolves have also been reported to be interested in Silva but Abbiati insists the Portugal International’s future lies at San Siro.
“Andre Silva is an amazing player, a top-class talent and he works very hard,” he said while speaking with Mediaset Premium of the striker, who joined Milan from Porto last year for a €38million fee. 
“He is improving a great deal and will get his opening during what is a very intense part of the season.
“He came from Portugal and the football there is not as tough and physical as Serie A, but we have great respect for his qualities.”
Silva has not found the back of the net in his 12 Serie A appearances so far although he scored six goals in six games in the group stage of the UEFA Europa League
It appears Manager, Gattuso prefers Nikola Kalinic to the Portuguese in leading the Rossoneri’s attack since his appointment in November.

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Watford confirms Javi Gracia appointment as new Manager

Watford has confirmed the appointment of former Malaga Manager Javi Gracia after firing the previous handler, Marco Silva.
Silva was relieved of his duties on Sunday morning following Watford’s Saturday defeat to Leicester, a result which only continued the club’s poor run having won one in 11 League games.
The Hornets board, however, affiliated their decision to fire the Manager with Everton’s approach to him before appointing Sam Allardyce and they believe that the team awful run began afterwards due to a loss of focus from the Portuguese Manager.
This only played well to Gracia’s advantage as he is now been preferred to continue with the management of the team. According to a statement from the club’s official website which reads: “The experienced 47-year-old, who has now signed an 18-month contract with the Hornets, has previously worked at clubs in his native Spain as well as Greece and Russia.
“During two seasons with Malaga, he achieved back-to-back top-10 La Liga finishes, with the famous win over eventual Champions League and Spanish champions Barcelona at the Camp Nou in February 2015 one of his brilliant moments.
“The following campaign his Malaga side went unbeaten against both Real Madrid and Atlético Madrid on their way to an impressive eighth-place 2015-16 finish.
“Having started his senior coaching career in 2007 with Segunda Division B outfit Pontevedra, Gracia secured promotion to the Spanish second-tier with Cadiz before spells in Greece with Olympiakos Volou and Kerkyra.
“In 2012-13 he once again masterminded a promotion campaign, this time returning Almeria to the Spanish top-flight before stints with Osasuna and Russian Premier League club Rubin Kazan either side of his Malaga stay.
“As a player, Gracia featured for Spain at the Under-21 level and was a vastly experienced defensive midfielder who featured prominently for the likes of Real Sociedad and Villarreal.”

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I am contented with my squad – Pochettino

After a disappointing afternoon at St Mary’s stadium, Tottenham Manager, Mauricio Pochettino insisted that he has a solid squad and thus refused to comment on reports linking Bordeaux winger, Malcolm to Spurs.
The in-form 20-year old midfielder has scored seven goals in Ligue 1 this season has been linked to more than three top clubs this transfer window but Pochettino declined to comment on any imminent deal.
Spurs suffered for lack of creativity for the major part of the game in the absence of Christian Eriksen in their midfield and Brazilian, Malcolm will definitely add that spark to their midfield.
However, Pochettino told Sky Sports after the game that reports linking the Bordeaux player to Spurs are only rumours and he will not speak on them.
“I am contented with my squad. We are open to quality players, but it is difficult in this transfer window.”
Harry Kane scored his 99th Premier League goal to cancel Davidson Sanchez own-goal which they conceded early in the first half, but he went on to miss a golden opportunity late on which would have sealed all three points for the North Londoners.
“I think it was an even game and a difficult game to play,” Pochettino added. “The pitch was in a difficult condition. It was tough. A battle. It was fair, the result.
“We struggled to play. It was in possession, we made mistakes which allowed them to play. To win the game we should do better and play better. It wasn’t great.
“We tried to be more aggressive in our offensive phase and to link better Kane and [Dele] Alli behind. This allowed us to be more aggressive in transition and use our full-backs going forward. We had a massive chance with Harry Kane at the end to win the game.
“We still have the possibility to fight [for the top four]. Southampton is in a relegation battle so it is not easy, they fight to survive. Every ball, they were aggressive. But it was our mistake to not win the game.” The Argentine concluded.

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Sam Allardyce left frustrated after another Everton lackadaisical display

Everton Manager, Sam Allardyce has lashed out at his players after another lackadaisical display. He admitted that the fans were right for booing the team and confirmed that he had to bottle his frustration in.
The Toffees were able to get a point from their lifeless showing at home to a West Bromwich Albion side that gave their all to secure much needed three points away from home to put them in a better position on the Premier League table.
Jay Rodriquez had scored an early opener for the Baggies before substitute, Oumar Niasse came off the bench to score an equalizer for Everton from new signing, Theo Walcott’s header. Salomon Rondon, however, hit the crossbar in stoppage time to spare a point for Allardyce’s resurgent Everton.
“It was difficult to watch it today,” Allardyce admitted. “I think every fan in the ground is probably wondering what they were watching compared to what they saw just a couple of weeks ago when we were beating Swansea and put in a very resilient performance against Chelsea.
“I have no problem with them booing us, as they deserved booing. The players should listen to that, as I do. Our defending was that bad for their goal an under 11 side could have scored it.
“I see a lack of confidence in the side and it’s my job to keep going and keep pushing the players about making the right decisions and playing in the right areas, defending properly when needed.
“There were a lot of nerves out there today and that caused a lot of misplaced passes and, of course, even the goal we gave away came off our goal kick.
“I’m just pleased that we got a point in the end from our substitute making an impact and popping in an equalizer for us. But some of the decisions we made today obviously weren’t the right ones so it’s our job to try and sort that out for the players in their minds.
“We’ve got to try and get them back to [making the right decisions which] clearly comes from the last results not being very positive. At least this was a positive result because we didn’t deserve any more than a point, that’s for sure.
“I think frustration is an understatement!” the manager continued when queried if he shared the feelings of the Goodison spectators, many of whom booed their team off at the final whistle. “I’m holding it in!
“The players know they didn’t perform today. They are well aware of the lack of performance they gave today in an Everton shirt at Goodison. They didn’t pass the ball today very well to anybody.
“We have to pick ourselves up and make sure that we work hard and be more determined mentally — it’s a mental problem they’re suffering [from] at the moment and we’ve to overcome that to bring out the ability that I’ve seen when I first arrived here.
“We (the management staff, the backroom staff and the players on the pitch) can be the only ones to make the change and can get it better and that’s what we must work very hard to do.
“But in the end, it’s been a very precious point for us today.”