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06-17-2019, 10:40 PM

Manchester United urged to sign 'solid' Ajax star De Ligt by former midfielder Kleberson


Manchester United "need" to sign "solid" Ajax defender Matthijs de Ligt this summer, according to Kleberson.The Red Devils finished sixth in the Premier League last term, conceding a whopping 54 goals in the process.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's men only managed to win two of their final 12 matches across all competitions, with fans and pundits highlighting a shaky defence as the main cause for concern.

The Norwegian boss is expected to invest heavily in new recruits while the transfer market is open and Ajax's teenage centre-back De Ligt has been mooted as a possible target.

The 19-year-old enjoyed a stellar 2018-19 campaign at the Johan Cruyff ArenA, helping Erik ten Hag's side win a domestic double while also reaching the semi-finals of the Champions League.Kleberson, who played for United between 2003 and 2005, has urged his ex-employers to fork out for De Ligt due to his unique "style of play".

The Brazilian World Cup winner told betoclock.com: “In my opinion, Manchester United need to bring in Matthijs de Ligt, who would be a good player to join because of his style of play.

"With his passing, he is very comfortable on the ball and he reads the game well. Manchester United need a solid defender at the back to be able to create more chances going forward."

The Norwegian boss is expected to invest heavily in new recruits while the transfer market is open and Ajax's teenage centre-back De Ligt has been mooted as a possible target.

The 19-year-old enjoyed a stellar 2018-19 campaign at the Johan Cruyff ArenA, helping Erik ten Hag's side win a domestic double while also reaching the semi-finals of the Champions League.Kleberson, who played for United between 2003 and 2005, has urged his ex-employers to fork out for De Ligt due to his unique "style of play".

The Brazilian World Cup winner told betoclock.com: “In my opinion, Manchester United need to bring in Matthijs de Ligt, who would be a good player to join because of his style of play."With his passing, he is very comfortable on the ball and he reads the game well. Manchester United need a solid defender at the back to be able to create more chances going forward."

The Red Devils have already managed to bring in Welsh winger Daniel James from Swansea this summer, with a number of additional deals also reported to be in the pipeline.

Crystal Palace defender Aaron Wan-Bissaka has been heavily linked with a move to Manchester, while West Ham's Issa Diop and Newcastle youngster Sean Longstaff have emerged as potential targets.

Solskjaer may also have to think about replacing Paul Pogba, who has expressed his desire to move on to a "new challenge".Kleberson does not feel that the Frenchman has reached his full potential in a United shirt, insisting that the Premier League does not fully suit his game.

“Pogba is a very good player, we saw his quality in the World Cup last year," Kleberson said."But his style of play is a little different for the Premier League, he’s differently styled. To drive and run with the ball, to find the perfect pass; this is difficult to do in the Premier League.

"I played there for two years and I know how tough a league it is. He’s a very good player, but he is still to hit his top gear at Manchester United.”
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06-17-2019, 10:41 PM

Liverpool legend favours Lucas or Zaha bids over ‘extravagant’ Griezmann approach


Liverpool should be looking at the likes of Lucas Moura and Wilfried Zaha if they are in the market for another forward, says John Aldridge, with links to Antoine Griezmann considered “extravagant”.The Reds have are among those said to be keen a World Cup winner currently on the books at Atletico Madrid.

Griezmann has made no secret of his desire to secure a summer switch and has previously seen a move to England mooted, with Manchester United considered to have been leading the chase.

Aldridge sees no reason for Jurgen Klopp to spend big on a France international with no prior experience of the Premier League, with there better options to be found on the books of domestic rivals Tottenham and Crystal Palace.

The former Reds striker said in the Irish Independent: “With [Daniel] Sturridge leaving the club and his huge wages coming off the weekly bill, it opens up the opportunity for Klopp to sign an out-and-out goalscorer who could offer something different if one of the front three is injured or out of form.“Antoine Griezmann has been mentioned as a possible target, but he would be a very expensive option as his transfer fee and wages would be extravagant for a player who would expect to start every week.

“So I wonder whether Lucas Moura could be prised away from Tottenham, as he had to be a little bemused to be left out of their Champions League final starting line-up after he scored a fantastic hat-trick in the semi-final against Ajax.

“Moura is a tricky forward who could slot into the team if any of the front three were out and the same could be said of his team-mate Son Heung-min, although I would be surprised if Spurs allowed the South Korean to leave after his outstanding season.

“It may be that Klopp and his excellent team of scouts have an ace up their sleeves as they look for an extra striker, with their signings over the last couple of years confirming they tend to get things right when they bring players to Anfield, so I’m confident they will get this one right.

“Maybe they should look into the possibility of recruiting Wilfried Zaha from Crystal Palace, who is rumoured to have made it clear he wants to move on to play Champions League football.

“Zaha has given Liverpool some real problems in the last couple of years and Klopp’s ability to turn talents of his type into consistent performers has to make him the kind of player who could thrive at Anfield.“Transfer fees and wages will be an issue for Liverpool. They won’t pay the kind of crazy money on offer at clubs being fuelled by owners using up spare change from their country’s oil business to play fantasy football.”

Liverpool are said to be in the market for more attacking options this summer, with another striker and a creative playmaker reported to be on Klopp’s wish list.
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06-19-2019, 10:50 PM

Napoli confirm talks for James Rodriguez with Lozano lined up as alternative


Napoli will try to sign James Rodriguez from Real Madrid this summer but will turn their attention to PSV star Hirving Lozano if they fail to land coach Carlo Ancelotti's first choice, says president Aurelio De Laurentiis.

The Colombian attacking midfielder and winger first worked with Ancelotti when he was signed by Madrid in 2014 and it was the Italian who brought him to Bayern Munich on a two-year loan deal in 2017.

Their time together in Munich lasted just three months, however, as Ancelotti was sacked in September that year and Bayern opted against activating their option to sign James on a permanent basis.

The 27-year-old does not seem to have a future at Madrid under coach Zinedine Zidane and has been linked with several clubs in the Premier League and Serie A.While De Laurentiis admits he is not convinced James is the player his side need as they look to build a team capable of challenging for the title next season, he hopes to grant his coach's wish by reuniting the pair.

"James Rodriguez is Ancelotti’s wish. I don’t know if we need him 100 percent, but his talent isn’t in doubt," he told Radio Kiss Kiss."I must help my coach. He wants James and I won’t bat an eyelid, even if he’s very expensive." But the Serie A runners-up have alternative options lined up, with 23-year-old Mexico winger Lozano also in their sights.

"If James doesn’t go through with Jorge Mendes, we’ll go forward with Mino Raiola about the possibility of taking Lozano," De Laurentiis added.The Stadio San Paolo club are also looking to invest in their defence by signing Kostas Manolas from Roma to replace Raul Albiol, though the president admits he has some concerns about the 28-year-old.

"We’ve been working on Manolas since Albiol announced his desire to leave," he said. "With Manolas, however, there are issues with his character. We need our players to be very calm. Roma are another problem because they’ve changed their sporting direction. We’re checking to see if we can sign him at a fair and reasonable price.

"Manolas is already at a certain age and can’t be resold. He’s fine by me, but we mustn’t waste money and he has a big salary."
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06-19-2019, 10:52 PM

Mata signs new Man Utd deal until 2021


Manchester United have confirmed that attacking midfielder Juan Mata has signed a new deal with the club that sees him tied to Old Trafford until 2021 with the option to extend for an additional year.

The 31-year-old had been heading towards free agency amid a turbulent time for the Red Devils, with a much-needed summer rebuild under the guidance of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer currently underway.

Paul Pogba's recent revelation that he is ready for a new challenge will not have been well received by Solskjaer, who had planned to build his team around the Frenchman, but the experience and cool head of Mata is sure to go some way to steadying the ship.

Speaking to Man Utd's official website following the good news, Mata said: “It is a real honour to continue to represent this amazing club and our incredible fans. I have been at Manchester United for five years and I am proud to call Old Trafford my home.

“I am looking forward to working with Ole and his fantastic coaching staff; the vision that they have for the club is truly exciting and I am so happy that I will be a part of that.”The feeling is mutual with his Norwegian boss, with Solskjaer talking up the Spaniard's vast experience and professionalism at a time when the club need it most.

The manager added: “Juan is the ultimate professional and one of the most intelligent players I have worked with. He is a great example to our younger players in his approach. He understands what it means to be a Manchester United player and has embraced everything about this great club.

“As well as everything he brings on the pitch, we have some fantastic young players here and I know that Juan’s vast experience will help them to reach their potential over the coming seasons."I am delighted that he has signed a new contract, as I know that his talent and mentality will be invaluable to the squad.”

With Ander Herrera having confirmed he will leave the club - likely for Paris Saint-Germain - Mata may be given a more prominent role in the new season, which will also feature new signing Daniel James, who arrived from Swansea for a fee of £15 million.
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06-19-2019, 10:52 PM

Congratulations Juan Mata!
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06-19-2019, 10:54 PM

Luis Enrique steps down as Spain head coach


Luis Enrique has stepped down from his position as Spain head coach, with his assistant Robert Moreno taking over on a permanent basis.

Former assistant coach Moreno oversaw Spain's past three matches after Luis Enrique was granted leave following a family emergency in March and will remain in charge until the end of Euro 2020.

Moreno and the Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) were keen to see the former Barcelona boss return for the next international break in September.

However, it was confirmed on Wednesday that Moreno will take on the job on a full-time basis in the latest coaching change for La Roja."Luis Enrique has informed us that he will not continue as coach. I have to thank him, he has behaved with the RFEF in a '10' manner, we do not have the slightest rebuke. Our doors will always be open to him," said RFEF president Luis Rubiales.

"The decision of the RFEF is to trust Robert Moreno as the coach. He will continue on the same duration of the contract that was already signed. He will be in charge of taking us to Euro 2020 and of doing a good job if we qualify."Moreno said: "I want to thank you [the RFEF] for placing your trust in us. It's a bittersweet day."I didn't expect to be the head coach this way. We are going to try to continue the high-level work that Luis started."

And Luis Enrique also released a statement concerning his departure, stating: "As the reasons preventing me from carrying out my duties as national team coach since March continue today, I've decided to step down.

"I'd like to thank the staff and players for their professionalism. Not forgetting the media for your discretion and respect."Spain sacked Julen Lopetegui on the eve of last year's World Cup after he agreed a deal with Real Madrid, before Luis Enrique came in for Fernando Hierro following an underwhelming tournament in Russia.

The three-time European champions finished second behind England in their Nations League group but have since won their opening four Euro 2020 qualifiers.And their next set of qualification fixtures in Group F are scheduled for September 5 and 8, where they will face Romania and Faroe Islands respectively.
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06-20-2019, 10:45 PM

Hazard caused defensive issues for Chelsea - Sarri


Juventus coach Maurizio Sarri has admitted that he struggled to field his preferred system while at Chelsea so as to be able to maximise the potential of Eden Hazard.

The Italian, who cut short his stay at Stamford Bridge to move back to Italy to take charge of the Serie A champions, described the Belgium international as a gamechanger however for his prowess.Hazard, who has also left Chelsea to join Real Madrid, scored 21 goals and provided 17 assists for the Blues across all competitions in 2018-19.

Sarri’s lone campaign with the Premier League outfit will likely be seen as a success in retrospect following a top four finish and the Europa League title but he still faced criticism for his tactics from some quarters this year.Speaking at his official unveiling Turin, the 60-year-old stated that he believed he was unable to play to the free-flowing 4-3-3 approach he was acclaimed for at Napoli as he felt obliged to play his talismanic striker in his preferred role.

"In recent years, I've had 4-3-3, but the 4-3-3 at Chelsea was very different to the one at Napoli," Sarri stated."We had to accommodate Hazard's characteristics, as he could change the game, but also his presence caused issues in defending that we had to work on."

The 28-year-old had enjoyed his most prolific season in a Blues shirt with the boot to conclude his stay in London, having signed for the club in 2012.Across a seven-year spell, he won all three major domestic honours in English football, including two top-flight titles, as well as a brace of Europa League crowns.

Sarri meanwhile won his first major honour when he guided Chelsea to a 4-1 win over Arsenal in last month’s Europa League final in Baku.

He earlier took them to the Carabao Cup final, where they lost on penalties to Manchester City.The Italian will now begin preparations for his side’s trip to Asia in July, where they will face Tottenham and Inter in Singapore and China respectively as part of the International Champions Cup.They will then play a final pre-season encounter with Atletico Madrid in Sweden on August 10.
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06-20-2019, 10:46 PM

Atletico Madrid agree deal to sign €35m Real Madrid midfielder Marcos Llorente


Atletico Madrid are set to seal the signing of midfielder Marcos Llorente after announcing a deal with city rivals Real Madrid has been agreed.

Llorente will undergo a medical before signing a five-year contract at the Wanda Metropolitano in a move understood to be worth an initial €30 million (£26.7m/$33.9m), with the potential for a further €5m to be paid in add-ons.The 24-year-old midfielder is primed to replace Spain international Rodri, who is said to be on the brink of a switch to Premier League champions Manchester City.

Atletico have already signed defender Felipe from Porto and are reportedly set to bring in Benfica's teenage sensation Joao Felix.

Further moves are set to follow with a number of high-profile players departing Atleti – including Diego Godin, Juanfran and Lucas Hernandez – and Antoine Griezmann expected to leave.

Rivals Madrid have also been active in the transfer market, bringing in Eden Hazard, Luka Jovic and Ferland Mendy in addition to previous deals for Eder Militao and Rodrygo Goes.

Madrid released a statement to confirm Llorente's imminent move on Thursday.
"The club wants to show its gratitude for all these years of dedication and professionalism and for [Llorente's] exemplary behaviour from when he arrived in 2008 to his trajectory with the first team," it read."Real Madrid wishes you good luck on your new stage."Llorente made just seven La Liga appearances last season, although he was a top-flight regular for Deportivo Alaves in 2016-17.

He also made a handful of games in the Champions League, as Los Blancos failed to defend their title after winning three crowns on the bounce.

Signed to the Madrid youth system in 2008, he made his debut for the club in October 2015 as a substitute and scored his first goal last December against Al-Ain in the Club World Cup final, in which he was named man of the match.

His limited opportunities on the whole at Santiago Bernabeu has arguably cost him the chance of a senior call-up, with Llorente having played at under-19 and under-21 level for his country.

He leaves with two years remaining on his contract, having initially signed an extension in September 2017 that took him through until the end of the 2020-21 season.
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06-20-2019, 10:47 PM

Barcelona and Napoli set for American clash in first La Liga-Serie A Cup


Barcelona have confirmed that they will face Napoli across a two-legged clash in the United States in the inaugural La Liga-Serie A Cup during their pre-season preparations this year.

The Spanish champions and Italian heavyweights will square off in two games played across two states in early August as part of their schedule ahead of the 2019-20 campaign.The first encounter, on August 7, will take place at the Hard Rock Stadium in Miami, Florida, at the home of the NFL’s Miami Dolphins.

Barcelona were set to face Girona in a regular season La Liga fixture at the venue earlier this year, though the endeavour was ultimately shelved after it was met with strong opposition from FIFA and UEFA.

The second, three days later on August 10, will see the duo take in Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor, at the University of Michigan, in what will be the largest venue either side has ever played in.Affectionately known as ‘The Big House’, it is the second-largest stadium in the world after North Korea’s national football ground, with a current capacity of 107,601.

The fixtures represent Barcelona’s first visit since pre-season last year, when they played three International Champions Cup games in Pasadena, Arlington and Santa Clara, while Napoli make their first trip stateside for three decades.

Both teams professed their excitement at the upcoming fixtures, with club presidents Josep Maria Bartomeu and Aurelio de Laurentiis expressing their delight for the encounters."Visiting the United States and being able to get closer to our fans is always a great thing for Barca," Bartomeu stated.

"On top of that, we will also have the chance to play at two iconic stadiums: at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami, where in 2017 we played the LaLiga Clasico, and at Michigan Stadium, the largest in the United States."While there, we hope to put on a show and entertain our American fans with our style of play."

"We could not be happier to be playing against Barcelona in the United States," added de Laurentiis."Our club has not visited the country for thirty years and the chance to go back to the American market for these two games and against an opponent like Barca is extraordinary for us."

Barcelona have already confirmed an additional pre-season trip to Japan, where they will face Vissel Kobe and Premier League outfit Chelsea.
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06-20-2019, 10:50 PM

'Bale hasn't lived up to Real Madrid's expectation' - 13 trophies not enough, says former president


Gareth Bale has not “lived up to the expectation” which greeted his arrival at Real Madrid, claims the club’s former president Ramon Calderon.The Blancos broke the world transfer record back in 2013 when acquiring the Wales international from Tottenham.He was taken to Santiago Bernabeu to help complement the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo in a star-studded squad.

He has enjoyed considerable success since, with a haul of 13 trophies including a Liga title and four Champions League crowns.Bale has, however, struggled to win over his critics during six years in the Spanish capital and is now reportedly edging towards the exit door.

A loan move has been ruled out, but the 29-year-old has still been tipped to leave before the 2019-20 campaign gets underway.Calderon told talkSPORT of Bale’s situation: “It’s a problem.“I feel sorry for the player, but the truth is he hasn’t lived up to the expectation when he came.“After six years, his situation is very difficult.

“Zidane has discarded him in his mind, clearly, and he proved that in the last two months when he took over the club and Bale sat on the bench.“For me, the best option would be a loan, but we’ve heard what Bale’s agent has said, it’s easier to see him winning Ascot than leaving on loan.

“So it’s a difficult situation for him.”Bale has recorded 102 goals across 231 games for Madrid.Consistency has been an issue, though, and he has taken in regular spells on the sidelines through injury.The departure of Ronaldo in the summer of 2018 saw even more pressure lumped onto his shoulders.

He has failed to become the talisman Real needed in the absence of a five-time Ballon d’Or winner.Many Blancos fans have made him a scapegoat for the club’s struggles in 2018-19, with Zidane’s decision to drop him down the pecking order leading many to suggest it will be difficult for him to stay.His agent has stated at regular intervals that Bale will not be pushing for a move, but many believe a fresh start is now required in order for a proven performer to rediscover his confidence and spark.
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