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I’m Recovering Well and Will Be Back Soon – Mikel

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Super Eagles and Tianjin TEDA of China captain, John Mikel Obi has affirmed his recovering from the surgery he underwent last month.

The former Chelsea midfielder was operated upon after cupping injury while playing for his Chinese side.

The 30-year old footballer took to his Instagram page to hint his 497,000 followers that he was recuperating accordingly from the surgery and can’t wait to go back to the beautiful game with his club and the national team.

“On the road to recovery, can’t wait to get back on the pitch with TEDA and my National Team #TianjinTeda #SuperEagles.

Meanwhile, Mikel wasn’t invited as Super Eagles gears to play two international friendly matches, against Corsica selected side and the Hawks of Togo respectively, before the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier against South Africa in Uyo next month.

The Super Eagles play South Africa before they file out against Cameroon in August in the day-three of the 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifiers.

The three-time African champions lead Group B of the qualifiers with six points before Cameroon, Zambia and Algeria follow suit with the group winner booking one of the five African slots for the World Cup

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Fido

writer/blogger • Media strategist •Good citizen of Nigeria and Social Media Evangelist and a die hard Real Madrid fan.

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Manchester United Transfer News and Rumours: Jose Mourinho Wants Nemanja Matic, Starlet Signed, Man City Want Same Keeper as United

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The summer is fast approaching at Old Trafford and the transfer wheels are starting to turn.

At least they are in the world of transfer rumours.

Jose Mourinho will be looking to take the Reds a step further.

United are being linked with a number of players on a daily basis, here are today’s rumours.

Manchester United have given up on signing Tottenham’s Eric Dier and will move for Chelsea’s Nemanja Matic this summer, reports the Manchester Evening News.

England starlet Dier had emerged as Jose Mourinho’s preferred midfield option this summer.

But with an acceptance at Old Trafford that prising him away from Spurs will be too difficult, the club are switching focus, with Serbian star Matic deemed more attainable.

Antonio Conte is eyeing Tiemoue Bakayoko, the Monaco midfielder, to strengthen his side, and that could make Matic dispensible – allowing United to swoop.

Pep head-to-head

Jose Mourinho is going head-to-head with Pep Guardiola as they chase Benfica keeper Ederson, writes John Cross.

Manchester United boss Mourinho is eyeing new keeper as he battles to keep David de Gea who is a big-money target for Real Madrid this summer.

But they are aware that City have also been watching 23-year-old Brazilian Ederson who has enjoyed a highly impressive season in Portugal.

City are keen to get a new keeper with doubts over Claudio Bravo while Willy Caballero could leave and Joe Hart is set to be sold.

Spaniard

Manchester United have made their first signing of the summer after agreeing a deal to sign Espanyol’s Arnau Puigmal.

Catalan paper Sport say 16-year-old Puigmal’s representatives had no hesitation in accepting United’s offer, which far exceeds the financial package he receives at Espanyol.

A versatile central midfielder whose impressive physicality belies his young age, Puigmal works effectively at both ends of the pitch and has an eye for goal.

Romero?

Sergio Romero could be Manchester United’s No.1 next season.

The Argentine has impressed for the Red Devils in the Europa League this term and will start in next week’s final.

David De Gea’s situation remains uncertain and Jose Mourinho may not have to look elsewhere.

Romero has impressed the United boss and is set to earn a new contract in the coming weeks, according to the Sun.

Do United need a replacement?

It’s been another glistening campaign from Antoine Griezmann and the world’s footballing superpowers will surely be looking to outmuscle each other in the summer transfer window to land the Frenchman’s signature.

However, the 26 year old, who has been heavily linked with a move to Manchester United, is set to disappoint his legion of suitors.

The Atletico Madrid forward has hinted at a move away away from Spain, but not to England… and not in Football.

“I would only leave Atleti to play with Derrick Rose,” Griezmann quipped to Cadena Ser, dreaming of a transfer to the NBA to play alongside the New York Knicks Point Guard. Griezmann met his dream team-mate on a trip to the States last December, which could have turned his head away from Atletico!

The diminutive Frenchman has struck 16 La Liga goals in 2016-17, 26 in all competitions, but his efforts appear relatively fruitless, with Atletico finishing the season without a trophy.

David de Gea

Real Madrid lost a bit of face two years back when their deal to land David de Gea from Manchester United fell through at the 11th hours.

And they’re eager for that to not happen again.

The Daily Mail’s man in Spain goes a step further to say they are confident of ensuring that soap opera isn’t repeated this summer.

“There is an acceptance that the Spain No 1 will soon be Real Madrid’s No 1 too,” Pete Jenson reports.

One thing is for certain, if the deal doesn’t go through this time they’ll be sure not to have paper work mistakes – as in 2015 – to blame.

Manchester United are ready to push the button on a move for Jan Oblak if David De Gea quits for Real Madrid.

United have done the groundwork and sounded out Atletico Madrid goalkeeper Oblak, who is keen on making the switch.

And they are primed to move for the 24-year-old Slovenia international, should they fail to keep De Gea out of the clutches of his long-term admirers across Madrid at the Bernabeu.

The Old Trafford giants are desperate to keep hold of the Spaniard, and qualifying for the Champions League by winning next week’s Europa League final will help their chances.

Jose Mourinho suggests David de Gea will stay at Man United despite being linked with move to Real Madrid

Jose Mourinho has suggested David de Gea will stay at Manchester United, saying he is “top of the world” and his side want to keep him.

The Spain shot-stopper has been strongly linked with a move to Real Madrid ever since a dramatic failed move back in 2015.

United have even been linked with Atletico Madrid keeper Jan Oblak as a possible replacement for de Gea, while Sergio Romero, apparently sensing an opportunity, has stepped up to the plate with some brilliant recent performances for the Red Devils.

Manchester United, Arsenal, Manchester City and Chelsea ALL eyeing Stoke’s Jack Butland

Four of the Premier League’s top six have made fresh checks on Jack Butland following his return to action.

Manchester City, Manchester United, Chelsea and Arsenal are all keeping tabs on Stoke star Butland, who has got back into the first team after a year out with a bad ankle injury.

The revived interest could lead to the 24-year-old England international joining the goalkeeping merry-go-round this summer.

United and City are most likely to move for new No1s this summer, and are among the clubs keeping track of how Butland has been getting on since his comeback last month.

Read the full story here

Barkley

Ross Barkley has been the subject of plenty of transfer speculation in recent months.

Everton boss Ronald Koeman has publicly demanded his midfielder make a decision on a potential new deal this week, as rumours persist that the 23 year-old could move to another Premier League club. Manchester United are just one of several big names reportedly interested in the England star.

That’s why Everton supporters will be relieved to see Barkley playing such a big role in the official launch of their team’s new kit for next season.

The club have picked the playmaker – alongside Leighton Baines, Tom Davies and Under-23 players Jonjoe Kenny and Joe Williams – to celebrate the strong local contingent of players in the Everton squad.

Bale ‘tells Real Madrid president’ which club he’d join

Speculation continues to swirl in Spain that Gareth Bale ’s time at Real Madrid is drawing to a close, with the Welshman reportedly identifying his destination of choice in the Premier League.

The 27 year old only signed a bumper £250,000-per-week (after tax) contract extension to run until 2022 back in October, but he has endured an injury-blighted campaign.

The former Spurs forward flourished during his first three seasons at the Bernabeu, however it appears Los Blancos have run out of patience, especially with potential summer blockbuster bids for Chelsea’s Eden Hazard or Monaco’s Kylian Mbappe.

It is widely thought that Bale does not want to leave the Galactico-laden side, but should the club’s hierarchy force through a move and accept an offer, then the Welshman has little option to accept a transfer.

According to diariogol.com, journalist Pip Estrada reports: “The agent of the player has started to negotiate in England after being annoyed with the reactions to his injury.”

Sanchez

Alexis Sanchez has the right stuff for Manchester United, claims Old Trafford legend Ryan Giggs.

The contract stalemate between the Chilean and the Gunners has led to him being connected with top clubs around Europe.

Giggs reckons he’s be a good fit at United with his work rate and winning mentality.

“Yeah. Jose Mourinho bought [Zlatan] Ibrahimovic because he is a winner,” he is quoted by the Express.

“He’d won everywhere he’d gone. Not only the effect on the pitch but off the pitch as well.

“You can just feel that Sanchez would give his team-mates a lift.”

The Swede is sweating on a new contract with Manchester United after damaging his anterior cruciate ligament, ruling him out until the back end of the year.

Ibrahimovic has undergone surgery and is currently in the process of recovering in Miami, where he is receiving specialist treatment.

It is still expected to be six months before the mercurial striker is seen on the pitch again, meaning United have a big decision to make on his future.

He demands huge wages and with no assurances over his fitness, United might choose to invest elsewhere and let Ibrahimovic go.

Read more here

Double swoop

Real Madrid stars James Rodriguez and Gareth Bale have been linked to Manchester United.

And one report believes an audacious bid for both of them could be made by Jose Mourinho’s money men.

Colombian Rodriguez’s drawn out exit from Real’s La Liga match on Sunday night against Sevilla has plenty thinking he is leaving.

Bale’s injury woes are also testing the patience of those at the Bernabeu.

Spanish gossip outlet Madrid-Barcelona (via Daily Star) claim United are willing to fork out £127.6m in a double deal.

Mbappe

And £68million (€80m) isn’t enough, claims French radio station RMC, who says Monaco have turned down a bid for that amount.

The outlet doesn’t name which club has made that offer, but Real Madrid, Manchester United and Chelsea are all keen on the teenager.

Kylian Mbappe is a target of just about any club in Europe with deep pockets but as they well know the Monaco forward won’t be going anywhere on the cheap.

With his side on the verge of lifting the Ligue 1 title, offers are said to be flooding in for the 18-year-old.

Lukaku

Most big signing scuttlebutt comes with some sort of angle involving Rooney, and the Daily Mail’s latest is that they’re willing to hand him over to Everton to get Romelu Lukaku.

There would be a certain romance to a homecoming for Rooney, back to the club from which he arrived at Old Trafford.

The Mail say Everton want £100m for their star striker and reckon Rooney could sweeten the deal.

However, Rooney has two more years on his £250,000-a-week deal and won’t walk away cheaply for United.

Also, with United valuing Rooney at £17m it would be far from a straight swap for the Toffees top man.

Sanchez

Manchester United will attempt to sign Renato Sanchez a year after being beaten by Bayern Munich to the highly-rated Portuguese midfielder.

The Bundesliga giants have used the former Benfica starlet sparingly though and could be tempted to recoup their money this summer.

The Red Devils could succeed with an offer of £30m to add dynamism to their midfield, report Kicker (via the Express).

Jose Mourinho was thought to be disappointed to lose out to Bayern but may belatedly get his wish.

Rooney

Wayne Rooney has dropped the biggest hint yet that he will leave Manchester United this summer.

Rooney is set to play his last European game at Old Trafford on Thursday, as United take on Celta Vigo for a place in the Europa League final.

The United skipper has been a bit-part player this season but insists, ‘I haven’t thrown my toys out of the pram’, as he acknowledged he is facing up to the end of his 13-year Old Trafford career.

Rooney has offers from Major League Soccer, the Chinese Super League and former club Everton.

“I haven’t thrown my toys out of the pram but I’m a football player and I want to play football,” said the 31-year-old. “Would I like to stay? I’ve been at this club 13 years, but I want to play football.”

David McDonnell has more here .

Morata

Arsenal will look to beat Chelsea and Manchester United for Real Madrid star Alvaro Morata with a £50m offer (Sun)

United to test Tottenham over Eric Dier

Eric Dier is poised to be the first Tottenham player to test chairman Daniel Levy’s get tough policy, writes Mirror Football’s James Nursey .

The 23-year-old penned a five-year £50,000 a week deal at Spurs last September, but Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho believes a £40million bid would prise the versatile England international away from White Hart Lane.

Dier moved to Spurs from Sporting Lisbon in August 2014 for £4m and has faced competition to anchor Spurs’ midfield from Victor Wanyama, who joined last summer.

However, Levy moved quickly early this season to tie many of his key players down to long-term contracts.

Malcolm move

Brazilian full-back Malcolm says that he is open to a move to Manchester United.

The highly-rated Bordeaux star has been linked with a switch to Old Trafford this summer with Jose Mourinho’s options down the flanks limited.

“Even when I was at Corinthians these rumours were already happening,” Malcolm told Gazeta Esportiva.

“I have a calm mind about that. I have a focused thought on the pitch and I leave it to my agent and my family to take care of.

FIFA to investigate Paul Pogba’s record transfer

FIFA are set “to investigate” Paul Pogba’s world record transfer to Manchester United , AFP are reporting .

United splashed £89m on France international last summer to lure him from Italian giants Juventus.

It is not yet known what the governing body are investigating.

“Then, who knows, if a bid comes up I’ll think of leaving, but now I’ll just playing football.”

A United spokesman said: “We don’t comment on contracts. FIFA have had the documents since the transfer in August.”

It was revealed earlier this week by a new book published in Germany, Football Leaks: The Dirty Business of Football that agent Mino Raiola would earn over £41m from the deal to bring Pogba to Old Trafford .

The 24-year-old has played 49 times for Jose Mourinho’s men this season – winning the EFL Cup and helping the side to Europa League semi-final.

Bale

Manchester United have reportedly held transfer talks with Gareth Bale.

The Real Madrid winger is allegedly considering a move to Old Trafford this summer – but will require Jose Mourinho’s men to qualify for the Champions League.

Spanish outlet Diario Gol claim that Real are open to selling Bale if a significant transfer fee is offered.

Bale is said to have an ‘unwritten agreement’ with Mourinho and will join United if he is indeed to return to the Premier League.

Welshman Bale’s recent injury problems are believed to have concerned Real president Florentino Perez.

Tierney

Celtic defender Kieran Tierney says he is ignoring speculation linking him with a summer move to Manchester United.

The 19-year-old left-back has impressed for the Scottish Premiership winners this season with the Red Devils joining the likes of Chelsea and Arsenal in expressing their interest in the Scotland international.

He has four years remaining on his contract with Celtic and is focusing on his future with the Bhoys.

“You see stuff in the papers and on Twitter, people telling you and my friends as well, but I just need to concentrate on what I’m doing in training and playing well for Celtic,” he said.

“It’s easy for me because I’m happy where I am. I’m not thinking about anything else other than Celtic and just doing what I can for the team and helping us win every game.”

Bolt

World’s fastest man Usain Bolt has called for Alexis Sanchez to leave Arsenal and join his beloved Manchester United.

The Gunners star’s future is up in the air with the Chilean refusing to sign a new contract. His current deal runs out at the end of next season.

And eight-time Olympic gold medalist Bolt believes the 28-year-old would be a perfect signing for Jose Mourinho at United.

Speaking recently to Fox Sports, Bolt said: “I know Alexis. He plays for Arsenal. He should leave.”

When asked if he would like to see Sanchez at United, Bolt replied: “He would be great. He’s a player who I’ve always said [we need] over the years. We need someone who is capable of picking up the ball and creating chances for other people

“He’s proven himself to be one of the best.”

Gareth Bale

Manchester United have reportedly held transfer talks with Gareth Bale.

The Real Madrid winger is allegedly considering a move to Old Trafford this summer – but will require Jose Mourinho’s men to qualify for the Champions League.

Not that Keane

Liverpool believe they can beat bitter rivals Manchester United to Burnley’s £25million-rated defender Michael Keane, writes Mirror Football’s David McDonnell and David Anderson.

Anfield boss Jurgen Klopp has made centre-half Keane his No.1 defensive target this summer and is confident of closing the deal.

As we told you a month ago, Old Trafford boss Jose Mourinho is also interested in the player, who came through the United academy. But he will have to move quickly to trump Liverpool’s bid.

Personal terms have been agreed in principle between the Kop and the England international, but the player is waiting to see whether Liverpool, currently third, can secure Champions League qualification for next season before committing himself to the deal on offer, understood to be for four years.

United sold Keane to the Clarets in January 2015 for £2.5m because he was not part of then-manager Louis van Gaal’s plans, but Mourinho believes he could be an ideal partner for Eric Bailly at the heart of his defence.

Stockport lad Keane is a United fan and would jump at the chance to rejoin his beloved Red Devils if they make a concrete offer.

That’s Belotti money

Torino’s president has revealed any interested club will have to pay £85m to land Andrea Belotti.

The Italian striker has been in excellent form this season and has attracted interest from United.

Chelsea are also keen and Urbano Calro has revealed he could go – but only for a hefty fee.

Aguero!

Manchester United are plotting a stunning swoop for Sergio Aguero.

The Argentine has had a frustrating campaign with injuries and appears to be second choice at City to Gabriel Jesus.

Aguero has no immediate plans to leave the Etihad but United are ready to test their resolve, according to the Sun.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic won’t play again for the club and Jose Mourinho wants a big name to replace him.

Now THAT would be a coup.

Transfer blow

Kylian Mbappe looks likely to be this summer’s most sought after player having taken domestic and continental competitions by storm.

The 18-year-old Monaco star has scored 22 goals for club and country, attracting the attention of some of Europe’s biggest clubs.

Arsenal and Real Madrid have already confirmed their interest while Manchester United are also keen.

But according to French publication L’Equipe , Mbappe has no interest in moving to Old Trafford.

David De Gea replacement?

Manchester United have identified Atletico Madrid goalkeeper Jan Oblak as the replacement for David De Gea, if the Spaniard moves to Real Madrid this summer.

The Red Devils face losing the Spain No.1, who is keen to return to the capital after seeing his move break down two oyears ago.

Jose Mourinho has made the Slovenian the ideal man to fill the void, report the Independent.

Oblak has a €100m release clause and is above Joe Hart, Gianluigi Donnarumma and Samir Handanovic on their list of targets.

Transfer rumours from other papers and sites

Kylian Mbappe will reject Man United this summer to stay at Monaco for one more season (Mail)

Manchester United have been told Kasper Schmeichel will not be going anywhere after the Dane was linked with a move to Old Trafford (Star)

Chelsea and Man United target Tiemoue Bakayoko ‘not ready for the Premier League’, says Rio Ferdinand

Potential Premier League suitors got a good look at Monaco’s Tiemoue Bakayoko against Juventus and won’t have been reaching for the chequebooks.

Chelsea have been most keen on the French defensive midfielder, with Antonio Conte looking to provide a partner for PFA player of the year N’Golo.

But the 22-year-old’s performance on Wednesday night saw him found wanting when tested by the likes of Paulo Dybala and Gonzalo Higuain in Monaco’s 2-0 defeat.

Rio Ferdinand told BT Sport Bakayoko didn’t live up to his hype in the Champions League first leg and has a way to go before he’s at Premier League standard.

“I think Bakayoko today, we found a bit more about him,” the Manchester United legend said.

“He’s had a lot of hype, he’s had a lot of news articles about him coming to the Premier League to all the top teams.

“I don’t know if he is ready to make that big step yet.

Griezmann

Antoine Griezmann has reportedly agreed a £280,000-a-week deal with Manchester United following Atletico Madrid’s 3-0 defeat to Real Madrid in the Champions League semi-final first leg.

The defeat means that Diego Simeone’s side face a near-impossible task in reaching next month’s final and the striker is now said to have agreed a five-year deal with the Red Devils.

The Sun report United are ready to meet the Frenchman’s £89million release clause, with the total cost of the deal – the fee, wages and bonuses – surpassing £170million.

Atletico are now targeting Arsenal’s Alexis Sanchez and Lyon forward Alexandre Lacazette.

Belotti

Manchester United are readying a £64million bid for Torino’s in-demand striker Andrea Belotti . The 24-year-old has also been tracked by Arsenal and Chelsea and has a £85million release clause in his contract. (Daily Mail)

Fab

Cesc Fabregas is being targeted by rivals Manchester United and Liverpool this summer (The Sun)

Keane blast

Manchester United legend Roy Keane has slammed the top clubs who are celebrating getting into the top four this season and says it makes him ‘cringe’.

Keane was forthright as always when giving his opinion on who will secure a Champions League place and says he cannot understand why his former club Manchester United or Liverpool are happy to have missed out on the title once again.

Jurgen Klopp celebrated on the pitch with his players following their 1-0 win over Watford on Monday night as they moved a step closer to securing Champions League football once again.

The battle for the top four places has never been tighter between the top sides as Arsenal, Manchester City, United and Liverpool fight to secure the two places behind title challengers Chelsea and Tottenham.

But Keane says the big clubs have to be aiming a lot higher and need to focus their efforts on challenging the big guns for major silverware.

Keane, speaking at a Show Racism the Red Card event, said: “When I see clubs like Liverpool and Man United celebrating getting into the top four, I cringe at it, I really do.

“Any of these big clubs – do you think that Real Madrid and Barcelona would be celebrating getting fourth?

“Come on, get a grip. It is about getting your hands on a trophy.

“People talk about getting into the top four because of the financial rewards and it was great for teams like Leicester to qualify but for the big teams, Man United, Chelsea, Arsenal, celebrating fourth? I say shame on you.”

Mbappe

Manchester United have reportedly failed in an €85million bid for Monaco sensation Kylian Mbappe.

The 18-year-old striker has emerged as one of the most in-demand players in Europe after a breakthrough season for Leonardo Jardim’s side.

Several of Europe’s big boys have declared their interest, but Italian outlet Gianluca Di Marzio claim that United’s bid falls far short of the €120m to €140 that they are holding out for.

Mbappe will have another opportunity to prove his worth when Monaco take on Juventus in the Champions League semi-final first leg tonight.

Schmeichel

A change of agent for Kasper Schmeichel could put Manchester United in the box seat for his services next season.

Jose Mourinho will be in need of a new first-choice keeper is David de Gea makes a move to Real Madrid, as has been repeatedly speculated.

A battle between Man City and Man United is what The Sun are expecting now the Leicester stopper as joined Italian Luca Bascherini after parting ways with long-term adviser Kenny Shepherd.

Bascherini is tight with those at the top at United, points out the paper.

Man United join Ryan Sessegnon transfer race

Manchester United are trying to jump to the front of the queue of clubs chasing Fulham wonderkid Ryan Sessegnon , reports Mirror chief football writer John Cross.

The Old Trafford giants have become the latest top side to enquire about the 16-year-old left-back, who is regarded as one of the top prospects in the country.

Liverpool are well-established admirers and are trying to sign Sessegnon this summer, but they will face major competition.

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David Luiz Earns Brazil Recall for June Friendlies

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Chelsea defender David Luiz has returned to Brazil’s national squad for football friendlies against Argentina and Australia in June.

The 30-year-old has not represented the Selecao for more than a year but earned a recall after impressing coach Tite with his performances in Chelsea’s English Premier League (EPL) title-winning campaign, reports Xinhua news agency.

Manchester City striker Gabriel Jesus was also included in Brazil’s 24-man squad, having missed the team’s World Cup qualifiers in March with a foot injury.

Barcelona star Neymar and Juventus right-back Daniel Alves were surprisingly left out, having been given a break after hectic seasons with their respective clubs.

“The emotional side of the game drains us … the adrenaline is at a million miles per hour every single day, the players need mental rest,” Tite said at a press conference.

“There is team-building and there is consolidation, but this is about construction at the moment.”

Brazil confront Argentina on June 9 at the Melbourne Cricket Ground before facing Australia at the same venue four days later.

As expected, China-based players Paulinho, Renato Augusto and Gil were among those named by Tite. New faces included uncapped Monaco centre-back Jemerson and Benfica goalkeeper Ederson.

Brazil squad:

Goalkeepers: Diego Alves (Valencia), Weverton (Atletico-PR), Ederson (Benfica).

Defenders: David Luiz (Chelsea), Gil (Shandong Luneng), Jemerson (Monaco), Rodrigo Caio (Sao Paulo), Thiago Silva (PSG), Alex Sandro (Juventus), Fagner (Corinthians), Filipe Luis (Atletico Madrid), Rafinha (Bayern).

Midfielders: Fernandinho (Manchester City), Giuliano (Zenit), Lucas Lima (Santos), Paulinho (Guangzhou Evergrande), Coutinho (Liverpool), Renato Augusto (Beijing Guoan), Rodriginho (Corinthians), Willian (Chelsea).

Forwards: Diego Souza (Sport), Douglas Costa (Bayern Munich), Gabriel Jesus (Manchester City), Taison (Shakhtar).

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VIDEO: Hulk Scores Winner, Rips Off Shirt in Shanghai Derby

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The Brazilian’s late strike settled a tense derby for Shanghai SIPG, and he celebrated his goal in typical fashion

Hulk’s late strike won the derby for Shanghai SIPG against rivals Shanghai Shenhua – and the Brazilian celebrated by ripping off his shirt!

With the match tied 1-1 and only minutes to go, the Brazilian made the most of a second opportunity and buried a shot low into the corner. 

Simeone to hold Atletico talks

A late Shenhua own goal would add gloss to the final result, as SIPG won the derby 3-1. 

The 30-year-old now has five goals and four assists in 10 Chinese Super League appearances this term for SIPG. 

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Sanchez & Ozil Take Breather as Arsenal Prepare for Finale

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  • Arsenal took to training on Saturday as they look to make one final push
  • Arsene Wenger’s side play Everton at the Emirates Stadium on Sunday
  • The Gunners are relying on Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool to drop points

John Downes For Mailonline

Arsenal trained on Saturday as they look to give one final push for a Champions League place on the final day of the Premier League season.

Arsene Wenger’s north London side play Everton at the Emirates Stadium on Sunday afternoon, needing all three points to keep the dream alive.

Liverpool sit in fourth position with 73 points, while Arsenal are in fifth with 72, so the Gunners are relying on Jurgen Klopp’s men to drop points to have any hope of securing a Champions League place. 

Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil take a break from Arsenal training at London Colney

Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil take a break from Arsenal training at London Colney

Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil take a break from Arsenal training at London Colney

Lucas Perez (left) and Sanchez share a joke during Gunners practice on Saturday

Lucas Perez (left) and Sanchez share a joke during Gunners practice on Saturday

Lucas Perez (left) and Sanchez share a joke during Gunners practice on Saturday

Theo Walcott dinks a pass to a team-mate as he gears up for Arsenal's final league game

Theo Walcott dinks a pass to a team-mate as he gears up for Arsenal's final league game

Theo Walcott dinks a pass to a team-mate as he gears up for Arsenal’s final league game

German playmaker Ozil gets on the ball ahead of Arsenal's home match against Everton

German playmaker Ozil gets on the ball ahead of Arsenal's home match against Everton

German playmaker Ozil gets on the ball ahead of Arsenal’s home match against Everton

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Prior to the match, Wenger labelled Tony Adams’ recent barbs directed at him as ‘sad’ and fired back at the former Arsenal captain to ‘show what he can do now’ after his Granada failure.

Adams claimed Wenger denied him a return to Arsenal on four occasions in autobiography revelations published on Friday — but his former manager says the Granada boss has ‘no divine right’ to come back.

And after Adams said Wenger was ‘essentially not a coach’ who he once claimed ‘couldn’t coach his way out of a paper bag’, the Frenchman placed doubt on his ex-player’s own credentials. 

Adams, 50, took over at La Liga basement club Granada almost six weeks ago and has lost every game since.

He quit a role in Arsenal’s academy last year to take up a lucrative job in China as sporting director at Chongqing Lifan before returning to European football in November.

Arsene Wenger talks to captain Per Mertesacker with the end of season appoaching

Arsene Wenger talks to captain Per Mertesacker with the end of season appoaching

Arsene Wenger talks to captain Per Mertesacker with the end of season appoaching

Welsh star Aaron Ramsey concentrates as he sprays a pass to a team-mate on Saturday

Welsh star Aaron Ramsey concentrates as he sprays a pass to a team-mate on Saturday

Welsh star Aaron Ramsey concentrates as he sprays a pass to a team-mate on Saturday

Mohamed Elneny (right) closes down Danny Welbeck during a training match

Mohamed Elneny (right) closes down Danny Welbeck during a training match

Mohamed Elneny (right) closes down Danny Welbeck during a training match

‘He can show what he can do now,’ Wenger said of Adams. ‘Who gives importance to that? I have known him for a long time. It’s sad.

‘Look, in a football club today, you have to employ people who can help you to be successful. And sometimes it is to make harsh decisions. You have to be needed. 

 ‘If you have made a career as a player somewhere it doesn’t give you any divine right to come back. That’s what it is. Because all the players, at some stage, they decide to leave, when their interest was to leave.’ 

Switzerland international midfielder Granit Xhaka attempts a flick to a colleague

Switzerland international midfielder Granit Xhaka attempts a flick to a colleague

Switzerland international midfielder Granit Xhaka attempts a flick to a colleague

(From left) Carl Jenkinson, Rob Holding and Sanchez stretch out during Arsenal training

(From left) Carl Jenkinson, Rob Holding and Sanchez stretch out during Arsenal training

(From left) Carl Jenkinson, Rob Holding and Sanchez stretch out during Arsenal training


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Tony Adams: Granada Struggles Are Not Down to Me – TEAMtalk

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Date published: Saturday 20th May 2017 11:53

Granada’s head coach Tony Adams said the season had been “a disaster” after his side lost 2-1 at home to Espanyol in their final game.

Former Arsenal and England skipper Adams, who has hit the headlines for criticism of Arsene Wenger in his forthcoming autobiography, was appointed head coach until the end of the season on April 10 following the sacking of Lucas Alcaraz.

But Granada, already relegated, slumped to a seventh straight defeat under Adams to finish bottom of the table.

“This season has been a disaster, we must not make the same mistakes,” Adams was quoted on Granada’s official Twitter site.

“We have tried to do everything possible with these players to get the best of them.

“The main error this season have been the signings. The owner is aware that he has made many mistakes, but this is a long project.”

Adams insisted his role as head coach would not go beyond the end of the season when he was appointed, but his future at the club remains unclear.

The 50-year-old former Wycombe and Portsmouth boss was invited to join Granada in a consultancy role in November by the club’s president John Jiang.

Adams is vice president of the company owned by Chinese businessman Jiang, DDMC, and had been sporting director for Chinese Super League club Chongqing Dangdai Lifan.

Granada recently appointed Manuel Salvador as the club’s new sporting director.

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Hulk Helps Shanghai SIPG Beat Rivals Shanghai Shenhua in Chinese Super League

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Hulk was on target as SIPG overcame rivals Shenhua.

Two goals in the final minutes saw Shanghai SIPG pick up a 3-1 win over derby rivals Shanghai Shenhua on Saturday afternoon as Andre Villas-Boas’ side won a keenly contested clash to close to within two points of Chinese Super League leaders Guangzhou Evergrande.

Hulk netted with a minute remaining to give SIPG the lead after Obafemi Martins had cancelled out Wu Lei’s opener while an own goal by Li Yunqiu four minutes into added time added to the pain for Gus Poyet and his team.

Victory moves SIPG onto 20 points and back to within two points of Evergrande, who defeated Jiangsu Suning on Friday evening.

Wu gave SIPG the lead in the 35th minute when he swept the ball home from inside the area only for Martins to level the scores three minutes before the break.

The game looked to be heading for a draw only for Hulk to score in the 89th minute after seeing his initial shot blocked before directing the ball over his own goal line after Oscar’s shot crashed back off the crossbar.

In a heated final few minutes, Villas-Boas was sent to the stands as SIPG ensured they kept pace with Evergrande.

“Derby games are always filled with emotional ups and downs,” assistant coach Daniel Sousa said. “This game was an away game for us so there were a lot of ups and downs not only in the stands but also on the bench.

“We controlled this game with our own rhythm, our possession was good and we created a lot of opportunities in the game, there were a lot of scoring opportunities.

“In the last week we have had to play a long distance away game and we haven’t had any good preparation time, we only had a few days together. But today we performed everything in our plan well.”

Elsewhere, Hebei CFFC moved up to third in the standings after goals from Ren Hang and Gui Hong saw off Liaoning Whowin as Manuel Pellegrini’s team moved to within six points of top spot, while Shandong Luneng slipped to fifth following their 1-1 draw with Yanbian Funde.

Alexandre Pato scored the only goal of the game as Tianjin Quanjian defeated Chongqing Lifan as Fabio Cannavaro’s side picked up their first win in six games in the league to move up to seventh.

Michael Church has written about Asian football for more than 20 years and mainly covers the Chinese game for ESPN FC. Twitter: @michaelrgchurch

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Chinese League Not as Easy as People Think, Says Ighalo

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Nigeria striker Odion Ighalo says the Chinese League is not a walk in the park in comparison to other leagues around the world, especially Europe.

The former Watford FC forward moved to Changchun Yatai in January 2017.

“The Chinese League cannot be compared to EPL but the league is growing and improving,”Ighalo told TheCable. “It is getting more difficult now though because lots of teams invest in foreign players so it’s more competitive now.

Ighalo said he’s enjoying the process of getting acquainted with the Chinese culture.

“It is a different lifestyle and culture compare to England but I am loving every bit of it. It is a new experience for me,” he said.

The Super Eagles player disclosed that he has started taking classes to improve his mastery of the language.

He said the Chinese love rice as much as Nigerians, hence he tends to indulge as often as he does back at home.

“Well, they have lots of food and almost like Nigeria, they eat lots of rice here so that’s not bad for me because I love rice a lot,” Ighalo said.

“It is a bit difficult with the language but I am trying my best to blend in. I just started a Chinese class with a private teacher 3 times a week to learn the language so as to ease things up for me.

“As you know I can speak Italian and Spanish fluently well. So, I want to learn the Chinese language too.”

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Copyright 2017 TheCable. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to www.thecable.ng as the source.

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Grass Is Sometimes Greener, but Offshore Pitfalls Abound for Young Players

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Be careful what you wish for …

So many young Australian soccer players, tempted by the prospect of big money or the chance to play in countries where football is the main sport, take their chances and move overseas to further their careers.

All seems well when they set out. 

The ink on the contract has just dried, the coach has either told them – or their agent – that they are a crucial part of their new club’s plans going forward, and the owner of the club is on hand to dispense warm greetings and a positive story about where his team is going.

And it’s always up. To the top of the league, to promotion, to intercontinental competition.

Even though the young Australian may not be a star, he is assured that he will be a key component of the exciting journey they are all about to undergo.

If he’s lucky, the player moves into an apartment, the club provide him with a car, and his salary arrives in his nominated bank account on a weekly, fortnightly or monthly basis.

The team does well, he gets plenty of minutes, begins to attract the attention of scouts and managers from bigger clubs in his new country or from more developed football markets, and his career takes off.

That happens quite often – if a player is good enough, and if he goes to the right country, where basic legal frameworks and employment law cover his workplace conditions and rights. 

If he is good enough, he can then make the leap to the big time – as, in years gone by, players like Lucas Neill, Tim Cahill, Mark Schwarzer, Mark Bresciano, John Aloisi and Vince Grella, who started with lower tier clubs in England, Germany and Italy, did.

Sadly its not always the case.

Some agents are more diligent or simply have more staff and support than others and can smell a rat, or at least decide that the protagonists on the other end of a deal are too dodgy or dubious to work with.

Others, lacking those resources, may steer a young and impressionable player into a move that will quickly end up going sour and leave their career in limbo and perhaps well out of pocket.

The downside works like this.

The player gets to a foreign country where he finds that, contrary to expectations, the apartment has not been hired, the car isn’t there.

The coach, who seemed so keen in the negotiations, seems not to be bothered that much now, particularly as his attention is  more focussed on keeping his job given a recent run of bad results.

The owner, who was so happy to talk the club up, is now reportedly in talks with interested consortia on selling out – ostensibly to those with deeper pockets who can “deliver the sort of success the fans deserve”.

The coach, who has given the young Australian a few outings off the bench but no starts in his first few weeks, pays the price for more disappointing results and is sacked. The owner is  desperate to keep the team in the hunt so that it can be sold for a better price to would-be investors who are going cold now that relegation looks to be a real possibility.

Another older, more experienced coach, is brought in, a man who specialises in firefighting and getting teams out of the relegation zone.

He brings in his cadre of assistants and advisers, hardened men focussed on results and the short term.

He has never heard of the young Australian player, knows little or nothing about him and, desperate to keep the team in the division, signs some local veterans who may not have much career upside but know how to kick, fight and claw their way out of a sticky situation.

Having little use for the young foreigner, who is being paid more than the locals, the owner now decides to cut his losses.

The fact that the player has a two-year contract can mean little in some jurisdictions. 

The coach tells him he doesn’t want him training with or near the first team, and the youngster has to go and train with the under 18s. His promising career is in limbo, his development stalled, and his match fitness fading.

Then suddenly the rent on his apartment isn’t paid, his salary isn’t arriving on time, and, alone in a foreign land, lacking language skills and any support, things start to look very bleak.

In the end he cuts his losses, tells his agent to find a new client, tells the club owner that he will leave if they pay his air fare home and forego all or part of the salary he is owed, reasoning that he can return to the A-League and, if he is lucky, reboot his career – if coaches there haven’t forgotten who he is.

Okay, this is a composite horror story.

But all the elements it contains are true, and have (and probably still are), happening to many young Australian players who think the grass is greener elsewhere.

It surely is, if you can make it to the top, in one of the bigger leagues in a stable, well-run country where employment practices and customs are in place. But it’s something of which even experienced players have to be wary.

The PFA, the players union, has been dealing with such cases for donkey’s years.

It used to largely be eastern Europe and the Balkans where Australian players would be lured to chase the dream at second-tier clubs in some of the bigger leagues in that region – Greece, Turkey, Romania, Serbia, Croatia, Russia.

For some, like Mark Viduka and Josip Skoko 20 years ago, Mile Jedinak more recently,  it might work out and prove to be a springboard to their dreams of a Premier League future. 

For many, however, it presages a spiral of decline, disappointment and disillusion.

Where once it was eastern Europe, it is now the cashed-up leagues of south-east Asia where disappointment often lies.

The same cycle is being repeated there in boom-and-bust competitions where promises are made, and often broken.

Player unions around the world are left to pick up the pieces.

There was a stark reminder that this can happen to anyone here in Australia in recent days when Robbie Kruse and James Holland, two well-established internationals – particularly the former – walked out on their Chinese club, Liaoning Whowin, because their wages have not been paid.

Kruse had travelled to China as a Socceroo of several years’ standing and with half a decade’s experience in the German Bundesliga, most of it with one of the top teams, Bayer Leverkusen, under his belt. But it was to no avail.

In part the pair have been victims of China’s new foreign player rules which changed as they arrived in the country, so that can’t be laid back to them, or their agents.

But it’s another example of what can go wrong – if you are unlucky. They are now free agents and looking for other clubs. They have established track records, so should be successful. But for those who haven’t, be careful what you wish for.

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