Monthly Archives: June 2017

France and England thrill in five-goal friendly

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The France and England international both thrilled in an entertaining five-goal friendly match that Les Blues won by 3-2 in Stade de France.

The night was filled emotional scenes before kick-off, with the crowd singing the Oasis hit Don’t Look Back In Anger and France fans joining England supporters in singing the national anthem in memory of those who died in the Manchester and London attacks.

Then, only nine minutes after kick-off, England captain Harry Kane gave his team a dream start when he turned in Ryan Bertrand’s cross.

However, the pace and movement of the France attack quickly overwhelmed manager Gareth Southgate’s experimental three-man defence.

While England goalkeeper Tom Heaton managed to keep out efforts from Olivier Giroud and Ousmane Dembele, Samuel Umtiti and then Djibril Sidibe put the hosts ahead, and the Burnley keeper was subsequently replaced by Stoke City’s Jack Butland.

Still, England managed to find an equalizer three minutes after half-time when Kane scored once again from the penalty spot following a collision between Raphael Varane and Dele Alli which required the intervention of the video assistant referee Marco Guido.

Guido confirmed referee Davide Massa’s original decision to award the spot-kick, resulting in the sending off of Varane.

But France remained uncowed and tormented England’s defence, and with their maintaining of the pressure it was no surprise when their winner came eventually, 12 minutes from time when Ousmane Dembele for a powerful, low finish.

Lionel Messi vows to end career at FC Barcelona

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Lionel Messi’s talks over a contract extension with FC Barcelona are believed to have come to a positive conclusion as he talks about finishing his career with the La Liga giants after reportedly agreeing to a new deal.

The future of Barca and Messi, 29, has been widely discussed as his contract approaches expiration by next year and talks were seemingly progressing slowly, but reports on Wednesday suggested Messi had agreed to a new deal until 2021 or 2022.

There was further proof as in an interview with Tencent Sports published by ESPN, the Argentinian said he wanted to finish his career at Barca, the club he joined as a 13-year-old and enjoyed a trophy-laden career with — winning eight La Liga titles and four Champions League crowns.

“It’s what I always wanted and dreamed. I would love to finish my career at Barcelona,” Messi said.

It is a widely known argument that Messi is the world’s greatest ever player after claiming the Ballon d’Or a record five times. However, Real Madrid forward Cristiano Ronaldo could equal that record after the Portuguese captain helped Real retain their Champions League title.

Both had been in a league of their own in competing for the top team and individual honour, with the Madrid forward hot favourite to win his fifth Ballon d’Or in 2017.

While Barcelona and Real Madrid players do not regularly praise one another due to a deeply rooted rivalry between the two clubs, Messi chose to make an exception for the Ronaldo, insisting that any perceived rivalry between the pair is hyped up by the media and was happy to talk up Ronaldo’s ability.

“That thing about our rivalry is something more invented by the press than by us,” Messi added to Tencent Sports. “What we want is to do our best every year, to do the best for our teams and what is spoken from outside is not something I give importance to.”

“He is a phenomenal player who has many qualities that year after year he improves and that is why he is one of the best in the world.”

Man United set to forego contract extension with Zlatan Ibrahimovic

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Manchester United is prepared to forego their option to extend Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s contract at Old Trafford when his current contract expires at the end of the month.

Ibrahimovic, 35, had a contract clause for a second season at United – following his influential first campaign in English football – but a cruciate ligament has finished his career at Old Trafford.

The former Swedish International could be 36 by the time he next plays, with the knee injury expected to keep the striker out until early 2018.

With the Premier League’s retained list set to be released later today, Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s name is set to be one of the main talking points, after the veteran striker scored at Wembley in both United’s Community Shield and EFL Cup successes, as well as playing an important role in their Europa League campaign.

The Europa League would prove to be the event of his final appearance for United, after he sustained the ligament damage in April’s quarter-final second leg against Anderlecht.

While his future appear clouded, Ibrahimovic’s agent Mino Raiola says that the player does not have a lack of offers for his service.

“Many clubs have asked for Zlatan,” Raiola said. “He can play two more years and will stay in Europe, 100%.”

Should Ibrahimovic be released as reported, a new striker would be high on United’s list of priorities this summer and a £60m offer for Real Madrid’s Alvaro Morata is expected to be submitted. United coach Jose Mourinho has reportedly identified Morata as his primary attacking target after the France international Antoine Griezmann confirmed he will not be leaving Atletico Madrid.

Negotiations with Real Madrid have taken place this week, with United’s first offer of €60m (£52m) turned down as the Champions League winners value him significantly higher at €90m.

Diego Costa: striker has “no future” with Chelsea

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Diego Costa publicized a text message exchange with Antonio Conte in which the manager apparently confirmed the striker has no future with Chelsea.

Costa, 28, who is currently with the Spanish national squad after playing a significant role in helping Chelsea win the Premier League this season, has said that he will “have to find a way out” following the revelations.

“I’m going to be honest, the other day Conte sent me a message saying he does not count on me for next season,” Costa said in an interview. “so I’ll have to find a way out.”

In 2014, Costa joined Chelsea from Atletico Madrid for a reported £32m after spending four seasons with the Madrid club. At present, he suggested that he might be open to a return, despite the fact that the Spanish giants were being banned from signing players until the January transfer window after a failed appeal to the Court of Arbitration of Sport (CAS).

Costa also added that the transfer ban could further complicate his circumstances, as he would face sitting out the first half of next season even if Atletico made a bid deemed acceptable to Chelsea.

“I love living in Madrid but I have to think about my future,” Costa had said. “It’s complicated because I cannot go four or five months without playing. I have no preference for a league, I just want to play.”

The relationship between Costa and Conte were reportedly strained since the pre-season tour — at the time when the Italian first took charge of the club. Costa claimed that a back injury prevented him from playing a full part in the manager’s pattern-of-play sessions, and an angry clash with a fitness coach in the wake of Tianjin first expressing interest in January testing matters further.

Costa subsequently dropped for a league game at Leicester, with Conte claiming that was because of another back complaint and opting not to criticise the player in public after Costa was filmed enjoying a post-match beer in the dressing room following a win against West Bromwich Albion the previous month.