Author Archives: giang

Bayern deny Inter Milan offer for Liverpool midfield target

Bayern Munich supremo Karl-Heinz Rummenigge has claimed that Inter Milan made “no offer” for Liverpool midfield target Arturo Vidal this summer.

Liverpool were strongly linked with a move for Vidal throughout the summer but the Reds secured the signing of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain instead, while Naby Keita will also arrive in 2018.

It was suggested that Inter had bid for Vidal, who joined Bayern from Juventus for €37million in 2015 but that owners, the Suning Group, had been blocked from moving money out of China to get the deal done.

The Italian giants were after the Chile legend as a replacement for Geoffrey Kondogbia, who left the club for Valencia towards the end of the transfer window, but Rummenigge claims that no bid was ever submitted.

“It’s a lie,” he told Premium Sport. “They never asked him of us”.

Forgotten defender included in Arsenal’s Europa League squad

No summer move

Arsenal have named forgotten defender Mathieu Debuchy in their Europa League squad.

The Gunners will be participating in the competition for the first time since 2000 and the first since the competition’s rebranding from the UEFA Cup.

Debuchy was widely expected to leave the Emirates in the summer, but a move away failed to materialise.

The 32-year-old enters his fourth campaign at Arsenal, although injury has all but wrecked his time at the club. Debuchy was limited to less than 20 minutes of playing time last season and is yet to appear at all this season.

Massive squad

The French right-back is one of 39 (!) players named in Arsene Wenger’s squad, which features a number of youngsters.

Jack Wilshere is also named.

Arsenal are expected to field a number of fringe players in the tournament, also using it to give experience to some younger players.

It’s been a tactic employed by Wenger in the League Cup and is set to continue in Europe this season so the Gunners can concentrate on the Premier League.

Arsenal were drawn in Group H alongside FC Koln, Red Star Belgrade and BATE Borisov.

Next up for Arsenal, who went into the international break on the back of a 4-0 defeat at Anfield, is a home match against Bournemouth.

Following that, Arsene Wenger’s side begin their Europa League campaign at home to FC Koln.

Check out Arsenal’s squad in full below

Goalkeepers: Cech, Ospina, Huddart, Iliev, Keto, Macey

Defenders: Debuchy, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Holding, Monreal, Mustafi, Chambers, Bellerín, Kolasinac, Bielik, Bola, Johnson, Moore

Midfielders: Ramsey, Wilshere, Ozil, Xhaka, Coquelin, Elneny, Iwobi, Reine-Adelaide, Maitland-Niles, Gilmour, McGuane, Nelson, Sheaf

Forwards: Alexis, Lacazette, Giroud, Walcott, Welbeck, Akpom, Da Silva

Bonaventura discusses Rossoneri chances ‘We’re back…this Milan better than the previous ones’

Jose Mourinho sets sights on Sir Alex Ferguson’s Champions League record

With Manchester United returning to the Champions League this month, manager Jose Mourinho has set his sights on a record which he would like to break in the coming years.

Legendary Red Devils boss Sir Alex Ferguson currently holds the all-time record of 194 games managed in the elite competition, and Mourinho is targeting the feat although he is still far off at 133 matches.

Mourinho guided United to the Europa League title during his first season in charge and he admits that the return to Europe’s biggest stage is a positive thing for everyone at the club.

The Portuguese also admitted that he is targeting the most matches managed in the premier competition, and insists that he will work hard to surpass the record after missing out last term.

“It’s good for the players, it’s good for me, it’s good for the club. [It] is where we want to go and I think the credit we deserve for last season was exactly to be in the habitat that is not our natural habitat, to do everything to win it [the Europa League] like we did and to do everything we can to respect the second-biggest competition in European football,” he told MUTV.

“But the Champions League is where we want to be and maybe I’m too ambitious, I don’t know, but I want to be the manager with more matches [in the Champions League]. “I know that I am in the top five or six but I’m quite far, especially from the top one [Sir Alex], but I will fight hard to go for that record. Last season, I lost a season in the chase for this record but Manchester United is where Manchester United has to be and I’m really happy with that.”

The Red Devils were drawn in a relatively easier group alongside the likes of Benfica, Basel and CSKA Moscow in the Champions League, but Mourinho insists that the club could still face a challenge to qualify for the knockout stage.

Manchester United will play hosts to Swiss champions Basel in the Champions League opener on September 12, and the manager has literally confirmed thatChris Smalling and Victor Lindelof will feature in central defence.

Five transfer outcasts: Liverpool and Chelsea stars among players left in limbo following failure to leave clubs on Deadline Day

This past summer transfer window has definitely been one of the best in living memory: Neymar’s world record move to PSG, the seemingly never-ending saga revolving Monaco’s Kylian Mbappe and a whole host of clubs smashing their transfer records meant that this summer will remain one of the most dramatic and extravagant ones ever. However not all players get their own their way, with a number of stars being denied transfers, despite some handing in transfer requests, with others having moves fall through right at the last minute. So, here’s a list of five transfer outcasts who were left in limbo following failures to leave their club this past summer.

Philippe Coutinho:

Liverpool’s Brazilian maestro Philippe Coutinho and his unsuccessful attempts to leave Anfield this summer will definitely go down as one of the most drawn out and controversial transfer sagas the Premier League has ever seen. Despite the player handing in a transfer request to the Merseyside club, according to the BBC, the midfielder was still denied a move away from Jurgen Klopp’s side, with the club stating that that the Reds playmaker was not to be sold amid very strong interest from Spanish giants Barcelona. Coutinho hasn’t appeared in any of Liverpool’s games so far this season, and was even left out of their Champions League squad for their qualifying matches against Hoffenheim due to a “back injury” (make of that what you will), as the rumours surrounding his reported potential move to Barcelona grew ever stronger. Eventually, the transfer window slammed shut, with the Brazilian still very much a Reds player. So, where does this leave Coutinho now? Well, it realistically leaves him with two options: he could either withdraw his transfer request, apologise to the club and its fans, and put to his head down and try to work his way back into Jurgen Klopp’s starting line-up for this season, and with a World Cup coming up next summer, this seems like the most likely option in my book. The other option Coutinho could go with is continue to sit on the side lines at Anfield after being denied his dream move to Barcelona, and wait either until January, or even next summer, for the Spanish giants to come back in for him. However, as previously stated, there’s a World Cup coming up next year, and with Brazil having already qualified, I’m sure Coutinho wouldn’t want to put his place in the Selecao squad at risk, especially with the South American side set to go into the tournament with a very good chance of coming out as champions.

Diego Costa:

If I had to pick one work to describe Chelsea forward Diego Costa, it would definitely be ‘controversial’, and this summer only backed this up, as the Spaniard refused to return to the Blues due to his desire to leave the club and secure a move back home to his former side Atletico Madrid being one of the most topsy-turvy and most talked about sagas of the summer. The player’s want to leave reportedly came about after manager Antonio Conte told him that the striker was not in his plans for the coming season according to the Times. Costa made it abundantly clear that he would not be returning to the club this summer in an interview with the Daily Mail, with the Spanish international more than ready to see out the remainder of his Blues contract in his home country of Brazil, with his former side Atletico’s ongoing transfer embargo making Costa’s desire to leave Stamford Bridge even more complicated. Costa, who was subsequently left out of his club’s Champions League squad, but was shockingly included in their 25-man Premier League squad for this season by boss Conte, doesn’t look as if he’s going to return to the club any time soon, with it looking increasingly likely that the Blues frontman’s future at the club is becoming shorter and shorter by the day.

Virgil Van Dijk:

Virgil Van Dijk’s desire to leave Southampton this summer was debatably the most drawn-out transfer saga of the summer, with the Netherlands international making it very clear from the get go that he saw his future away from St Mary’s, with Liverpool the club most often linked with making a move for the 26-year-old. The Dutchman even went through extreme lengths to try and secure his dream move to Anfield, with the defender handing in a transfer request and even refusing to train, as per the BBC, to try and force Southampton’s hand into selling the centre-back. Despite numerous attempts by the player to try and force a transfer, Mauricio Pellegrino’s side stood firm with their stance that the player would not be sold, which ended up being the case come September 1st as the player remained a Southampton player (until January at least). The Saints even complained to the Premier League about Liverpool’s somewhat illegal approach that they had made for the in-demand Holland star, which was quite embarrassing for the Merseyside club to say the least. For Van Dijk, his failure to secure a move to Liverpool in the summer now only really leaves one option should he want to find himself in the Netherlands’ squad for next summer’s World Cup (if they somehow qualify): he needs to apologise, get his head down and make sure he works his way back into the Saints’ starting 11 for this season, and hope his club change their mind over letting him go to Liverpool in the transfer windows to come.

Alexis Sanchez:

The story of Alexis Sanchez and his failed deadline day move to Manchester City on certainly the most dramatic story on this list. Despite Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger constantly insisting that the Chilean international would not be leaving the north London club this summer, the player came ever so close to doing so on deadline day, after the Gunners accepted a whopping £60M bid from City for the 28-year-old winger as per the Daily Star, only for the move to fall though at the last minute due to Wenger’s side being unable to secure a deal for Monaco winger Thomas Lemar. Sanchez was left in limbo following this, and with his current deal at the Emirates only having 12 months left on it, it almost looks certain that the forward is going to leave the Gunners either in a cut price deal in January, or on a free next summer once his current deal has expired, which makes you question why Arsenal didn’t just cash in on Sanchez when they had the chance. With Sanchez now seemingly being close to full fitness after managing 60 minutes in Arsenal’s 4-0 demolition by Liverpool last Saturday, it wouldn’t surprise me, and I’m sure many others as well, to see the hard-working forward put his head and down give his all for the Gunners for the remainder of this season try and help the club get back on track following their dreadful start to their Premier League campaign this season.

Riyad Mahrez:

The last player in our list is Leicester City and Algeria winger Riyad Mahrez, who’s summer is certainly the most unique on our list. Whilst Mahrez had handed in a transfer request earlier in the window as reported by the Independent, the winger still continued to give his all for the Foxes in their first three Premier League games. Leicester had already rejected three bids for the Algerian midfielder over the summer, with the highest reportedly being £31.8M, according to the Mirror, before the Italian club finally gave up with their pursuit of the 26-year-old. It looked like we might have finally reached an end to the saga, after the Algerian FA announced that the Foxes star had been allowed to leave their training camp in order to finalise a transfer away from the Midlands club, however there was no indication of where the winger was headed, or what club he was set to sign for. Despite there being rumours of the player being in Paris and London, the midfielder ultimately ended deadline day a Leicester player, despite the rumours surrounding where the winger might be headed. It later emerged in reports that Mahrez’s representatives tried to force through a move to Manchester United, according to the Sun, to no avail. So, similarly to how he acted when the transfer window was open, Leicester fans can expect Mahrez to still be putting 100% effort into his performances between now and January, which we can only presume is when the winger will try to secure a move away from the King Power Stadium again.

Diego Costa could call off Chelsea strike and return to Stamford Bridge, believe team-mates

Diego Costa’s Chelsea team-mates believe the striker is giving serious consideration to returning to the club and taking his punishment for going AWOL in a bid to sort out his future.

Costa has remained in Brazil all summer after receiving a text message from Chelsea head coach Antonio Conte reiterating the fact he is not in his plans.

But having ignored all requests to return to Chelsea as he attempted to force a return to Atletico Madrid, friends of Costa think his stance is softening and that he could call off his strike this month.

Friends at both Chelsea and Atletico have been in touch with Costa for weeks urging him to end his feud with the Blues and return to London.

He had offered no indication he was prepared to do so before the Spanish transfer window closed last Friday and is not thought to have officially informed Chelsea of his plans.

But friends who have been in touch with Costa over the last 48 hours now think he could return to the club and is prepared to train with the development squad, alongside the likes of Jake Clarke-Salter and the brother of Eden Hazard, Kylian, who was signed last month.

It is not known if Costa has indicated exactly when he is thinking about making a dramatic return, but sources believe it could be sooner rather than later.

Chelsea are aware that Costa has been in touch with several of his team-mates for weeks, but are unlikely to make too many plans for his possible comeback.

There has always been a feeling that Costa is an emotional character whose moods can change quickly.

His Chelsea team-mates are also well aware that the volatile nature of Costa means that he could easily go from suggesting he could return to digging his heels in and remaining on strike.

Chelsea have been fining Costa fortnightly while he has stayed away and he would no doubt face difficult talks with the club’s board and possibly even owner Roman Abramovich if he re-starts work at the club’s Cobham training ground.

Although he was included in their Premier League squad, it is highly unlikely Costa would be fit enough to make any sort of playing return for the Blues before November.

And Conte’s hard-line stance on the matter and Costa’s behaviour means there is a strong chance he could return to Chelsea and still never play for the club again before finally sealing a move to Atletico in January.

Having failed to agree a fee with Chelsea for Costa during the summer, Atletico can negotiate a deal at any point ahead of registering him to play when their transfer embargo is lifted in the New Year.

But the La Liga club would want Costa fit and ready to play by January, which means he needs to start training properly again.

Costa’s absence has made life relatively easy for Conte at the start of this season, with the blame for the loss of last season’s top scorer shifting towards the player, his advisors and Atletico.

But it could create a difficult situation for Conte if Costa returns and agrees to train with the development squad to achieve match fitness.

Costa’s presence around the club could easily become an unwanted sideshow, particularly with Chelsea due to face Atletico in the Champions League group stages.

Chelsea have left Costa out of their Champions League squad, meaning there is no prospect of him facing Atletico or being cup-tied in the competition if he does move in January.

Costa was left out of the Spain squad for the World Cup qualifiers against Italy and Liechtenstein, and has been warned by the Spanish national team manager Julen Lopetegui that he could miss the World Cup finals in Russia if his situation does not change.

Having left Costa out of his latest squad, Lopetegui said: “With the summer that Diego Costa has gone it was normal that he was not here with us.”

Arsenal Heading For Collision with Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil

On March 1st, Conor Kelly warned that Arsenal and Arsene Wenger were on a collision course with Alexis Sanchex and Mesut Ozil, fast forward to September and the futures of Arsenal’s stars are still in the balance.

“This has been by far the most challenging few weeks in my professional life. I understood cognitively that I was facing a crossroads in my evolution as a player and as a man, and that it came with exceptionally difficult choices. What I didn’t truly understand, however, was the range of emotions I would feel during this process.”

Those were the words of one of basketball’s finest players – Kevin Durant – published on the Players Tribune last summer. Durant, the star of the Oklahoma City Thunder, was announcing his intention to join the Golden State Warriors and was well aware of the reaction his decision would receive.

“It really pains me to know that I will disappoint so many people with this choice, but I believe I am doing what I feel is the right thing at this point in my life and my playing career.”

Durant is an eight time all-star and was named the NBA’s Most Valuable Player in 2014, but the grandest prize – an NBA Championship – had always eluded him. Individual awards and a huge salary were nice, but for true satisfaction, the 28 year-old needed more. 2015 champions the Warriors – containing Steph Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green – was patently the place he could get it.

Alexis Sanchez doesn’t have much in common with the gargantuan American, but along with age, they do share a compatible hunger for victory and the will to be the best version of themselves.

When the Chilean arrived on English soil, his signing was heralded as Arsenal’s return to the top table; firstly in proving they were back in the market for truly elite footballers and secondly reestablishing them as regular contenders for the top prizes.

Sanchez has certainly held up his end of the bargain, imprinting his class on the Premier League. Tigerish out of possession, quick, strong, nimble, good in the air and delightful on the ball, Sanchez has more than delivered in a red and white shirt. His record stands at 62 goals and 29 assists in 128 appearances for the Gunners.

Recently, Sanchez has cut a disgruntled figure. Despite his efforts, Arsenal continue to fall short of expectations. This was evident in January when they retrieved a three goal deficit against Bournemouth but failed to find a winner. While Olivier Giroud performed a choreographed celebration after equalising, Sanchez was captured furiously throwing his arms in the air as two valuable points slipped away. He crouched down in disbelief as Bayern Munich ripped his side to shreds in the Allianz Arena a couple of weeks ago, and although we weren’t privy to the conversation between player and manager, one can’t imagine he was too pleased trotting onto an artificial pitch against non-league Sutton in the FA Cup with the tie comfortably in Arsenal’s control.

Sanchez has less than 18 months remaining on his contract and is said to be reluctant to sign a new one. If reports are to be believed, he desires a move in the summer. Realistically, who could blame him?

Sanchez has had a stellar international career in which he’s won two Copa Americas for Chile, but hasn’t earned the silverware at club level his ability deserves. This, despite three years at Barcelona and a further three in London. All he has to show for his top level stint in Europe is a solitary La Liga title, a Copa Del Rey and the FA Cup. He probably feels that it’s paramount to expand his collection while in his prime years, and the best chance is away from North London.

Should Sanchez seek pastures new, Mesut Ozil won’t be far behind him. Ozil is also at an impasse with the club over negotiating a new deal. The subject of much derision from supporters and pundits, you get the sense there wouldn’t be too much sadness if he departed these shores.

The German isn’t helped by his laid back/indifferent body language on the pitch, seen by some as a symptom of Arsenal’s malaise. Irregardless, the World Cup winner is a supremely gifted footballer who could command a transfer to most major clubs.

Ozil may be treated in England suspiciously, but abroad he garners much admiration. National team-mate Jerome Boateng described him as the best passer he has ever seen, while Jose Mourinho previously referred to him as the best number ten on the planet. Cristiano Ronaldo expressed rage when he was allowed leave Real Madrid, such was the respect the Portuguese had for Ozil.

Post-2004, Arsenal endured a decade where they were forced to sell their best players in order to finance the Emirates Stadium. Patrick Vieira, Thierry Henry, Cesc Fabregas, Samir Nasri, Emmanuel Adebayour and Robin Van Persie all went for large fees. Upon recruiting Ozil and Sanchez, Wenger claimed that Arsenal no longer had to part with their key assets.

“We are not in a position any more where we have to sell our best players,” the Frenchman said. “We are in a fantastic position, but our job is competing.”

Much has been made of Wenger’s future in the past couple of weeks, but Arsenal face another key decision with their star duo. Do they acquiesce and promise them improved contracts/investment in better players around them or do they resist wholesale change? Allowing Sanchez to leave the club in particular would contradict everything Wenger has uttered.

The Arsenal board are content once they maintain the status quo. Proof of this is the two-year extension they’ve put on the table for Wenger. Top four finishes and early Champions League exits are fine, so long as the money rolls in. Chief shareholder Stan Kroenke has previous in this – his NFL franchise the St Louis Rams haven’t won a Super Bowl since 1999.

It’s one thing convincing investors and sponsors that continuity is acceptable, but it’s another persuading ambitious footballers that mediocrity is achievement.

Chelsea target wants Tottenham move in January

Ross Barkley is determined to join Tottenham in January after failing to secure a summer move away from Everton, reports The Daily Mirror.

The 23-year-old was on the verge of joining Chelsea on deadline day before sensationally pulling out of a deal at the 11th hour.

Barkley has since refuted claims he changed his mind on a move to Stamford Bridge halfway through his Chelsea medical, but Antonio Conte’s side had agreed a £30m fee with their league rivals.

The England international, who is currently injured until the end of the year, reportedly felt pressured to join Chelsea and pulled out of a move in order to consider his options ahead of the January transfer window.

Everton will no longer be able to command the same £30m fee as Barkley will have entered the final six months of his existing deal, but their No.8 has his sights set on joining Tottenham.

Ronald Koeman’s side reportedly refused to do business with Tottenham late in the transfer window, which pushed Barkley towards a move to Chelsea.

Of players that have scored at least 15 Premier League goals since August 2014, no player has a worse conversion rate than Barkley (6.4%).

Champions League: Juventus’ Giorgio Chiellini doubtful for opener against Barcelona due to calf injury

Milan: Juventus defender Giorgio Chiellini could miss the Serie A title holders’ Champions League opener against Barcelona because of a calf muscle injury, the Italian club said on Saturday.

Centre-back Chiellini took a knock during training with Italy on Friday and was ruled out of World Cup qualifiers with Spain and Israel.

Chiellini has since returned to Turin and although Juventus said the injury is not believed to be serious it would need “further monitoring in the coming days”.

A team statement added it could force Chiellini to miss the Serie A game with Chievo on 9 September and the European clash against Barcelona at the Camp Nou three days later.

Two-time European champions Juventus lost the 2017 Champions League final 4-1 to Real Madrid in Cardiff in June

Barcelona tried to sign Veratti while Di Maria deal collapsed over PSG’s €70m valuation

Marco Veratti, left, is on international duty with Italy, who lost to Spain 3-0 on Saturday in a 2018 World Cup qualifier.

Barcelona director Robert Fernandez has revealed the club tried to sign Marco Veratti from Paris Saint-Germain this summer while reports also claim a move for the Italian midfielder’s teammate Angel Di Maria also broke down.

Barca’s hierarchy are facing increased pressure after a summer that has seen one of their star players leave the club and a failure to land a succession of top transfer targets.

Brazilian forward Neymar made his way to PSG for a world record €222 million (Dh967m) last month, while Barca’s protracted pursuit of Liverpool midfielder Philippe Coutinho ended in failure after four rejected bids, the last coming on deadline day reported to be worth €160m.

Barca board member Albert Soler revealed on Saturday that Liverpool had set an asking price of €200m, a sum Barca were not willing to meet in order not to “put the club at risk”.

Borussia Dortmund winger Ousmane Dembele arrived at the Camp Nou in a deal worth potentially €150m to help placate the frustration of the fans. Brazilian midfielder Paulinho and Portuguese full-back Nelson Semedo also moved to Barca, while winger Gerard Deulofeu returned to the club after two years at Premier League side Everton.

However, it has not been enough to ease the pressure on the Barcelona board, and the revelation that the club failed to push through a deal for Veratti is unlikely to go down well with supporters.

“It’s not true that we didn’t go for Verratti,” Fernandez said. “I personally spoke with Unai Emery and he knows that he’s a player we wanted.”

Meanwhile, two other transfer targets, Real Sociedad defender Inigo Martinez and Nice midfielder Jean Michael Seri, failed to secure moves to the Camp Nou after Barca pulled out of negotiations.

“Inigo and Seri are two players that we considered, like many others,” Fernandez said. “But we decided that it was best not to sign them.”

In separate media reports, Di Maria’s proposed move to Barcelona fell through after the club refused to match PSG’s €70m valuation of the Argentine midfielder.

PSG, looking to balance the books following Neymar’s arrival, were reportedly prepared to let Di Maria move in the opposite direction, although Barca were unwilling to strike a deal.