Keita reveals Arsenal, Manchester City, Liverpool snub

25 October 2016 16:57

RB Leipzig midfielder Naby Keita has revealed he turned down Arsenal, Manchester City and Liverpool ahead of the 2016-17 campaign in favour of a move to the Bundesliga.

The 21-year-old was heavily sought after following two impressive years at Red Bull Salzburg and some of the Premier League’s finest were keen to lure him to England.

Nevertheless, Keita felt he was not ready for a move to a top club just yet and instead signed for newly promoted Bundesliga side RB Leipzig.

“Arsenal, Manchester City and Southampton were all interested in signing me and Liverpool as well, although I did not speak with their coach,” Keita told SportNet.

“I did not want to join a big Champions League club right away. It is too early for that. I want to prove myself in the Bundesliga first now.”

Keita has been a key figure for RB Leipzig this term, scoring three times in six league outings to help them to second place in the table.

The Guinea international scored the winner in the 1-0 victory over Borussia Dortmund, while he netted a double versus Werder Bremen at the weekend.

He has a contract with Leipzig until June 2020.

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Hummels admits RB Leipzig a serious threat for Bayern

25 October 2016 11:15

Bayern Munich defender Mats Hummels concedes RB Leipzig should be taken seriously in the race for the Bundesliga title following their fine start to the season.

The newly promoted side remain unbeaten after eight games and climbed to second place in the table following their 3-1 win over Werder Bremen at the weekend, two points behind leaders Bayern.

“RB Leipzig have a squad that could cause us trouble,” Hummels was quoted as saying by Sport Bild.

“I definitely expect Leipzig to make the top six at the end of the season.”

Thomas Muller, meanwhile, agrees that RB Leipzig should not be underestimated, but feels Borussia Dortmund remain Bayern’s main rivals.

“Of course, RB Leipzig should be taken seriously,” Muller added.

“The quality and depth of teams is decisive and Leipzig are looking good in this area.

“But I continue to see Dortmund as our biggest rival. They will be challenging us again toward the end of the season.”

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Hands off! Milan CEO insists Donnarumma will stay

25 October 2016 05:39

AC Milan CEO Adriano Galliani is adamant teenage sensation Gianluigi Donnarumma will remain at the club for “many years to come”.

Donnarumma has been a mainstay in Milan’s starting XI since making his debut in October last year, with the 17-year-old goalkeeper now seen as the heir to Gianluigi Buffon’s throne in the Italy team.

The shot-stopper’s exploits, again highlighted in Milan’s stunning 1-0 victory over Serie A champions Juventus on Sunday, has no doubt captured the interest of Europe’s biggest clubs but Galliani is confident of keeping Donnarumma.

Asked if he sees Donnarumma as Buffon’s replacement, not only in the national team but Juve, Galliani responded via Mediaset program Tiki Taka: “You must be joking. Donnarumma is a Milan player.

“I hope and I’m convinced that he’ll be a Milan player for many years to come.

“I think he’ll be the heir to Buffon in the national team, though Buffon is still a great goalkeeper. Buffon has a contract with Juventus until 2018, he is doing very well.”

Donnarumma has kept four clean sheets this season to help Milan up to third in the Serie A standings, only adrift of second-placed Roma on goal difference, and two behind Juve after nine rounds.

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Hargreaves puzzled by Mkhitaryan omission

24 October 2016 22:17

Former Manchester United and England midfielder Owen Hargreaves is baffled by Henrikh Mkhitaryan’s exclusion from the first team at Old Trafford.

Mkhitaryan arrived from Borussia Dortmund during the close season as one of four marquee signings alongside Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Paul Pogba and Eric Bailly.

While those three have been first-choice selections throughout the campaign so far, Mkhitaryan’s last action came on his solitary Premier League start – where he was substituted at half-time in a 2-1 defeat to Manchester City on September 10.

City return to Old Trafford in the EFL Cup on Wednesday, where there will be intrigue surrounding any potential role handed to Mkhitaryan after the Armenia international was excluded from Mourinho’s matchday squads versus Fenerbahce and Chelsea despite returning to training following a thigh injury.

“He needs to play, I can’t believe that he’s not getting a look-in. He would be a banker in my starting XI,” ex-Bayern Munich man Hargreaves told Squawka.

“He had a slow start at Dortmund too and he was the players’ player of the year last season. He got 23 goals and 32 assists, which is staggering numbers.

“This wasn’t in a terrible league against pub teams and I can’t think of anybody who could put up those numbers besides Messi and Ronaldo. He’s a top player and we haven’t seen it yet at United.

“The thing is, he’s such a wonderful player but I think he’s also quite a sensitive guy. It would have been perfect if he started off flying with goals and assists, but the slow start has probably hit his confidence.”

One player involved at Mkhitaryan’s expense is Juan Mata – perhaps surprisingly given Mourinho jettisoned the player during his time at Chelsea.

Both men endured a painful return to Stamford Bridge on Sunday as the hosts ran out 4-0 winners and Spain international Mata is keen to see a reaction in Wednesday’s derby clash.

“We must carry on,” he wrote in his weekly blog. “Luckily, in three days we have a very important fixture, and as from now we must focus on this new opportunity to get better.

“It sounds like a cliche but it’s true; when we win and everybody praises you it’s easy to be united and celebrate together, but it is now, after such a defeat, when we must remain mentally strong and keep going. Together we win and together we lose.”


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Giggs hits out at ´laughing´ United players following Chelsea battering

24 October 2016 17:29

Ryan Giggs has hit out at the Manchester United players he claims were “laughing” following their 4-0 thrashing at Chelsea on Sunday.

Jose Mourinho’s side were comprehensively beaten on the Portuguese’s return to Stamford Bridge and Giggs, who spent 29 years at United as a player and a coach, was hoping the players would be hurting following an abject display.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Juan Mata were both pictured smiling while Anthony Martial warmly embraced France team-mate N’Golo Kante, leaving Giggs unimpressed.

He told the Premier League TV channel: “You can get beat in a football match, but then when you’re getting beat and you’re swapping shirts, that is something I don’t like.

“If you get beat 4-0, you congratulate the opposition, you thank the supporters and then you get off the pitch.

“You don’t stand around on the pitch swapping shirts and laughing with the team that’s just beat you.”




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We did not offer ¥1billion for Nagatomo, insist Jiangsu

24 October 2016 11:11

Chinese Super League club Jiangsu Suning have rejected reports they made an offer worth ¥1billion (€8.8m) for Inter defender Yuto Nagatomo.

The Japan international, 30, has been with Inter since 2011 and signed a new contract earlier this year to tie him to San Siro until June 2019.

Reports in Japan had suggested Jiangsu were looking to make Nagatomo their latest big-money signing following moves for the likes of Alex Teixeira and Ramires.

However, Jiangsu insist they are happy to stick with the high-profile players they have already brought in from overseas. 

“Contrary to Japanese media reports, Jiangsu Suning football club would like to clarify that no offer was made to Japan international Yuto Nagatomo regarding a move in the winter transfer window,” read the club’s statement.

“It has been a great season for our foreign imports and we have no intention of making any personnel change.”

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Coutinho does ´amazing things´

24 October 2016 04:34

Liverpool defender Joel Matip lauded “amazing” team-mate Philippe Coutinho for his display against West Brom.

The Brazilian continued his strong start to the Premier League season with a goal in the 2-1 victory at Anfield on Saturday.

Coutinho has four goals and two assists in nine league games this campaign, helping Jurgen Klopp’s men into third in the table.

Matip hailed the 24-year-old for his display and said he saw it often from Coutinho.

“If you are one against one with Philippe in training, it’s the same as you see on the field,” he told the Liverpool Echo.

“It is very hard to play against him. With the ball he is amazing and he does amazing things.

“It’s hard to play against a side like West Brom but we won. We know in these kinds of games you have to fight for every ball so we’re happy with the three points.”

Goals from Sadio Mane and Coutinho had put Liverpool in control before the hosts conceded as Gareth McAuley struck from a corner.

Matip said improving from set-pieces was still a focus for Klopp’s side.

“Of course for a defender you always prefer a clean sheet but the main thing is to win. I am not happy with the goal we conceded,” he said.

“Yes, we are defending well but we know these teams are very good at set-pieces. We will improve and next time hopefully they won’t get the ball.

“We have to work on it in training and make it work better. We know they are all very good at set-pieces and dangerous in the box. The season is very long and it was just about the three points.”

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Zamalek 1 Mamelodi Sundowns 0 (1-3 agg): South Africans clinch first CAF Champions League title

23 October 2016 23:13

Mamelodi Sundowns clinched their first CAF Champions League title after their 3-0 first-leg defeat of Zamalek proved unassailable, with the Egyptians only able to win 1-0 on Sunday.

Sundowns were impressive in their victory last weekend and that lead simply proved to be too much for Zamalek, despite the visitors finishing strongly in Alexandria.

Chasing the hefty first-leg deficit, Zamalek were quick to put Sundowns under pressure and they should have gone ahead in the 13th minute, but Stanley Ohawuchi prodded wide of the left-hand post when one-on-one with Denis Onyango.

Emotions were running high and the visitors’ coach Pitso Mosimane got himself involved in a scuffle with members of the Zamalek staff, while on the pitch Sundowns goalkeeper Onyango was forced off with an injury just before the half-hour mark.

Zamalek almost fell even further behind on aggregate just before the break, as Khama Billiat’s 20-yard effort deflected on to the crossbar.

The hosts looked rather more purposeful after the break and eventually got themselves a goal, as Ohawuchi jinked past his man and found the bottom-right corner from 30 yards with 26 minutes to go.

They piled the pressure on towards the end and went desperately close to forcing a nervy finish in the 85th minute, but Emmanuel Mayuka’s header was cleared off the line and Sundowns celebrated their historic triumph.



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Croatian player teased for being ´too smart for football´

23 October 2016 17:16

A Croatian player says he gets teased by his team-mates because his high IQ means he is “too smart for football”.

Domagoj Boljat of RNK Split has been recorded with an IQ of 155 and is a member of Mensa in Croatia.

The economics graduate scored the opening goal in his team’s 3-0 home victory over Slaven Koprivnica and revealed the impact of his high IQ on his career.

“My team-mates make fun of me as I do not do a better career because I’m too smart for football,” Boljat said.

“At school I always did well, and at the university. It was not too difficult, all the exams I would do in the first period, to help keep me calm so I could dedicate myself to my first love – football.

“My father talked to me and my older sister Antonella about [IQ] testing, it turned out that we have above-average intelligence, but the school did not make a great drama out of our results.

“Football has always been my priority, but in football it is not crucial to have this kind of intelligence, perhaps more social and spatial intelligence.

“I think the stereotype of football players as being unintelligent people is completely wrong.”

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Barzagli angry with AC Milan defeat

23 October 2016 11:29

Juventus defender Andrea Barzagli was left fuming after the Serie A champions suffered a 1-0 defeat to AC Milan at San Siro.

A stunning strike from Manuel Locatelli in the second half sealed a win for the home side that takes them to within two points of Juve at the top of the table.

The visitors were furious when Miralem Pjanic’s first-half free-kick nestled into the far corner, only for the officials to disallow the goal after Milan players had complained about offside infringements from Medhi Benatia and Leonardo Bonucci.

Juve were also denied a last-minute equaliser when Gianluigi Donnarumma produced a fine save to keep out Sami Khedira’s drive from distance.

Barzagli felt those were the two key moments in the match and admitted that he was far from happy with the outcome.

“I’m angry we lost. We played better than we have in other games but if you lose 1-0 it means you have to do better,” he said, as quoted by the club’s official website.

“Still, I think we can say the match turned on two moments today. It was wrong to rule it [Pjanic’s goal] out but things like that can happen. It was still 0-0 and we had an hour left to win it.

“Now we have to sit down and look at what we did wrong and keep working hard. 

“There are lots of things we need to improve although at the end of the day we hardly afforded our opponents any chances, not even in the second half.”

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