Robben hopeful of finalising Bayern future

3 December 2016 06:31

Bayern Munich winger Arjen Robben believes a new contract is not far from being agreed with the Bundesliga champions, while chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge is confident the winger will remain in Bavaria.

Robben is out of contract at the end of the season and the 32-year-old Netherlands international is yet to sign an extension.

The sticking point is believed to be the length of the contract, with Robben’s agent and father, Hans, wanting more than a one-year deal for the Dutch veteran.

Quizzed on his future after scoring in Bayern’s 3-1 win over Mainz on Friday, Robben told Sky: “My father is ready [for a talk], he likes to drink coffee with Mr. Rummenigge.

“I read as well about the contract term, but we are not so far apart.

“Maybe everything is done after one talk. It will not be very difficult.”

Rummenigge, who is optimistic Robben will follow in the footsteps of team-mate Franck Ribery by signing a new deal, added: “There was a talk with Arjen’s father, which is his agent. And the father said, he [Robben] wants to stay healthy until Christmas. Then there will be talks.

“I think he wants to extend his contract and we are as well interested, Arjen will play for Bayern next season.

“There is no reason why Arjen should not play for Bayern next year.”

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Conte ´maybe the best in the world´

3 December 2016 00:40

Pep Guardiola described Antonio Conte as “maybe the best coach in the world” ahead of their managerial battle of wits in Manchester City’s Premier League clash with Chelsea on Saturday.

Guardiola and Conte will face off for the first time as managers, with both having flourished since taking their talents to England.

City have secured 30 points from 13 games under Guardiola’s stewardship, a tally only bettered by Conte’s Chelsea, who top the pile on 31.

Conte enjoyed great success at Juventus, leading them to three Serie A titles, and his Italy side impressed en route to the quarter-finals of Euro 2016, where the Azzurri lost on penalties to Germany.

And Guardiola said of his opponent in the dugout: “Conte is without doubt one of the best, maybe the best, coach in the world right now. [Chelsea] were contenders to win the Premier League from the beginning.

“Now, maybe more than before. It’s a good test for us; it is the first time we are going to face each other. It’s good to play against him.

“He did an exceptional job in Turin [with Juventus] and in the national job. It doesn’t matter if it is Serie A or the national team, you realise his strengths.

“He has started with maybe not good results, but they have won their last seven games, conceding one goal. That says a lot about how good they are.”

In addition to taking on Chelsea, City also face matches with Leicester City, Arsenal and Liverpool in December, which Guardiola described as a key month for his team.

“This month is so important. We’re going to see our level. I’m not thinking about what happens if we win or we don’t win the games,” Guardiola said. 

“I’m most thinking about what will be our level and if we will be able to fight until the last moments of the season. I’m curious about how we compete, how our football will be against these three, four really good teams.

“After that we’re going to analyse, to keep going until the end. That is what I am concerned about most in this moment.

“I’m not just thinking about three points or drawing or losing the game. I want to see how my team react against the good teams. Against Barcelona for example, in the Champions League, we were okay, we were there, we played good. I’m curious to see my team against top players and top teams.”

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Carroll to make West Ham return against Arsenal

2 December 2016 18:21

West Ham striker Andy Carroll is in line to make his first appearance since August when his side take on Arsenal at Upton Park this weekend.

Manager Slaven Bilic has confirmed the 27-year-old will be available to appear from the bench against the Gunners having recovered from his knee injury.

Carroll scored a brilliant hat-trick in West Ham’s 3-3 home draw against Arsenal last season and Bilic is hoping for more of the same as the hosts side bid to end a five-match winless run in all competitions.

“Andy Carroll will be in the squad,” Bilic – whose side lost 4-1 to Manchester United in the EFL Cup in midweek – said ahead of Saturday’s match.

“He is not ready to play 90 minutes but he is ready to make an impact. 

“He played a great game against Arsenal last season and had one of the best 45 minutes last season. That is what he is capable of.”

Aaron Cresswell and Michail Antonio (both groin) are out, with Bilic hoping they will be fit to play Liverpool on December 11, but Andre Ayew (knock) is back in training.

Bilic continued: “The injuries to Aaron Cresswell and Michail Antonio are not bad and they should be ready for the game against Liverpool.

“Andre Ayew is back training and should be in the squad again.

“We were disappointed to lose [against Manchester United in the EFL Cup] on Wednesday, but we have a massive game on Saturday and we know what have to do to get a positive result.”

Despite their winless run, Bilic has been heartened by a sequence of four matches without defeat at home.

“It helps for us to train at the London Stadium and our performances are now improving like they should be,” he said.

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Ranieri, Zidane and Santos up for FIFA coach award

2 December 2016 12:50

Leicester City’s title-winning boss Claudio Ranieri has been shortlisted for The Best FIFA Men’s Coach Award alongside Zinedine Zidane and Fernando Santos.

Ranieri defied odds of 5000/1 to lead the Foxes to their first Premier League title last season, his team finishing 10 points ahead of Arsenal after a remarkable run of form.

It was the first league success in the 65-year-old Italian’s long career which has also seen him coach, among many others, Valencia, Chelsea and Juventus.

Zidane is named for guiding Real Madrid to an 11th European Cup/Champions League title.

The former France midfielder took over in January from the sacked Rafael Benitez and transformed the club’s fortunes both domestically and in Europe.

A fine run of form over the final few months of LaLiga almost saw them overcome eventual champions Barcelona while they edged out city rivals Atletico Madrid on a penalty shoot-out in the final of the Champions League in Milan in May.

Santos makes up the trio for his achievements which saw his Portugal side land their first major international crown at Euro 2016.

Santos’ men were expected to make up the numbers in France but, captained by Cristiano Ronaldo, they prevailed over the hosts in the final.

The women’s shortlist was made up USA coach Jill Ellis, former Germany coach Silvia Neid and Sweden’s Pia Sundhage.

The awards will be handed out in Zurich on January 9.

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