Monthly Archives: August 2017

Spain recalls David Villa ahead of friendly against Italy

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New York City striker David Villa is ready for a surprise return to the Spanish international football team after he was called up by Julen Lopetegui for the first time since the 2014 World Cup.

Villa, 35, had been Spain’s record scorer with 59 goals from 97 appearances while being in prolific form for New York City this season, scoring 19 times in 24 MLS games and leading the top scorer list.

It is hoped that Villa would fill the void in the forward line that has appeared in the Spanish squad after Diego Costa was excluded from the 26-man squad to face Italy and Liechtenstein in the World Cup qualifiers.

Costa remains in exile from Chelsea after falling out with the manager, Antonio Conte, and neither trained nor play any part for the team in pre-season.

“We believe that calling up Villa is necessary and appropriate,” Lopetegui said. “He’ll give us extra mobility up front and above all he’ll contribute his enthusiasm. We hope and believe he will help us.”

Villa, in turn, said that he was “nervous” after joining the Spain squad in training for the first time in three years.

“I’m nervous, or rather excited with this new call-up, especially after three years,” Villa is quoted after linking up with La Roja in his home country. “It’s a dream come true.”

“For me, the fact that the national coach came to New York to see me play already gives me pride. I had spoken to him but I was surprised by the call-up. To be here for me is something that fills me with pride.”

“For the time being, I will be here for two games and we will see what happens afterwards,” he added. “I’m ready to help the team, be one of them and I hope I get my working clothes on and help as I’ve always done.”

Liverpool rejects Crystal Palace bid for Mamadou Sakho

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Liverpool has reportedly turn down a £25m bid from Crystal Palace for Mamadou Sakho as they continue to hold out for £30m for the exiled defender.

The bid was submitted by Palace chairman Steve Parish, which includes a £22m basic fee plus £3m in add-ons for a defender who has excluded from all Jurgen Klopp’s designs for Liverpool but enjoyed a successful loan spell at Selhurst Park last season.

It had been also Palace’s third bid for the 27-year-old this summer and was rejected by Liverpool.

With other Premier League rivals such as Leicester City and West Bromwich Albion also interested in Sakho, are confident of obtaining their £30m asking price before the transfer deadline on Thursday.

Palace remains Sakho’s most likely destination with the former Paris Saint-Germain captain favouring a move to London, although they will most certainly need to improve their terms to prevent a Premier League rival beating them to the player’s signature.

Sakho had already established himself as a favourite at Selhurst Park during his loan spell to Palace last season under Sam Allardyce, helping the club escape from relegation.

However, Palace have began their new season with three consecutive Premier League defeats under new manager Frank de Boer.

Barca fans call for Bartomeu resignation at Dembele unveiling

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Supporters of FC Barcelona has called for the resignation of club president Josep Maria Bartomeu at the unveiling of their new €145m signing Ousmane Dembele at the Camp Nou.

The past two months marked a difficult period for Barca, where they saw the departure of Neymar Jr and frustration in acquiring fresh recruits even as the new season begins.

Bartomeu had hoped to offset the pressure he faces ahead of a vote of no confidence brought by the former presidential candidate Agusti Benedito. Criticism had been leveled against him in the wake of Neymar’s departure and the extended timeframe for Dembele’s departure from Dortmund.

There was also an hour-long delay that frustrated fans in Dembele’s unveiling, where a significant proportion of the 17,814 supporters at the Camp Nou chanted for Bartomeu’s resignation.

Barca is, in the meantime, refusing to give up on Liverpool playmaker Philippe Coutinho — despite having the Premier League club repeatedly turning down each of their attempted bids and insisting that they will not let go of the player.

Coutinho, however, did say that he is interested in moving to Barca.

“We are negotiating with a player, with the possibility that he can come,” the Barcelona sporting director, Robert Fernández, said. “We hope it ends well, we can reach an agreement and present another new player.

“My intention is for one more player to arrive – two, if possible. We’re negotiating.”

Marco Asensio rescues Real Madrid with brace against Valencia

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Real Madrid youngster Marco Asensio rescued the defending Spanish Champions at home by striking a stunning brace to draw 2-2 against Valencia in La Liga.

Asensio delighted the Santiago Bernabeu with a long- range opening strike from 20 yards but Valencia scored two impressive team goals either side of the interval, first through homegrown youngster Carlos Soler and the debutant Geoffrey Kondogbia.

But although Marcelino’s side led with 13 minutes to go, Asensio rescued a point for Real with a superb free-kick in the 83rd minute.

Karim Benzema — who missed a host of simple chances throughout the game — could have earned Real a win but had his header turned onto the post by a brilliant save by Neto.

Real had been forced to play Casemiro out of position — at central defence — due to the absence of team captain Sergio Ramos through suspension and injuries to Raphael Varane and Jesus Vallejo.

The result meant that both Real and Valencia would miss the chance to join FC Barcelona on top of La Liga at six points, as Lionel Messi won a 2-0 result over Alaves with a brace, despite a missed penalty.

Messi, who did not score last week against Betis, was denied his 350th goal for Barca after his was saved by Fernando Pacheco in the 41st minute after Gerard Pique was fouled.

However, the Argentinian needed only to wait 10 minutes after the break for the chance to score his landmark goal — a scrappy effort in the 55th minute that took a heavy deflection off the Alaves defender Alexis Ruano, before showing his class with a firm shot into the bottom corner to seal the win.