Tagged in: Soccer

Rakitic leaves Barca to rejoin Sevilla

Ivan Rakitic is set to become the first big name player to leave Barcelona this summer and will re-sign for old club Sevilla.

The Croatian was one of numerous Barca stars who were told they were not part of new manager Ronald Koeman’s plans moving forward at the Nou Camp.

The midfielder has agreed a two-year deal with Sevilla, with an option for a third, and will take a significant pay cut as a result, according to Goal.

Rakitic will earn £2.7million-per-year at Sevilla which is a huge decrease from the £7million he earned during his last term with Barcelona.

The 32-year-old spent three seasons with Sevilla and won the Europa League in the 2013/14 season right before he made his big switch to the Catalan club in 2014.

His return has been agreed in principle by the two clubs, who have agreed a nominal fee for now.

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Rakitic has been one of the few Barcelona stars who have been linked with moves away for quite some time.

The midfielder was attracting interest from Serie A clubs back in January, as well as being linked with Manchester United, but no move was finalized.

Whilst he has always spoken on his love for Sevilla, he had said earlier in the transfer window that he would remain at Barca for one more season to see out his contract.

However, new boss Koeman has had other plans as the LaLiga giants have descended into chaos over recent weeks with Luis Suarez, Arturo Vidal and others all told they are no longer wanted.

Lionel Messi has also not been reporting to training and testing as his feud with Koeman rumbles on amid rumours of a staggering transfer to Manchester City. Sevilla have also managed to get business done elsewhere, as they confirmed the signing of goalkeeper Yassine Bono on a permanent basis from Girona for £3.6million.

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Bayern Munich to German Cup final

Robert Lewandowski scored the winning goal, with some help from Canadian left back Alphonso Davies, as Bayern Munich defeat Eintracht Frankfurt 2-1 Wednesday to reach the German Cup final, with both teams paying tribute to the global protests against the killing of George Floyd.

Lewandowski netted his 45th goal of the season in the 74th minute as Bayern stayed on track for fifth a German league and cup double in eight years. It will face Bayer Leverkusen in the final on July 4 in Berlin.

The final goal came from a skillful sequence. Davies found space in the penalty area and tapped the ball to Joshua Kimmich, who set up Lewandowski for a tap-in. The goal was official after the video assistant referee system overturned a mistaken offside call against Davies.

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Eintracht wore shirts with a #blacklivesmatter hashtag across the chest, alongside the sponsor logo. Bayern had the same message on its corner flags, warm-up shirts and some boards at the side of the field.

Numerous players and clubs in Germany have signaled support for the U.S. protests against police treatment of black people and racial discrimination in the wake of Floyd’s death in Minneapolis on May 25. Floyd, a handcuffed black man, died after a white police officer pressed his knee against his neck, ignoring his “I can’t breathe” cries even after Floyd eventually grew still.

Bayern dominated the game, a rematch of the 2018 cup final, from the very start, but allowed Frankfurt brief hopes of a comeback late on.

Lewandowski pulled Eintracht’s entire three-man back line out of position for the first goal, allowing Ivan Perisic space for a diving header off a lobbed pass from Thomas Muller in the 14th minute.

Frankfurt substitute Daichi Kamada changed the game almost immediately after coming on, delivering a smart pass on the turn for Danny Da Costa to hammer in an equalizer in the 69th.

But Bayern was back in the lead six minutes later through Lewandowski.

Earlier, Dominik Kohr’s headed clearance off the line from Muller’s header in the seventh minute set the tone for a first half in which Eintracht narrowly escaped conceding on several occasions. Lewandowski tripped over his own feet as a cross came in, and later had a shot pushed just wide by goalkeeper Kevin Trapp.

“We should have scored one or two more goals in the first half,” Bayern coach Hansi Flick said in televised comments. “In the second half we made it harder for ourselves.”

Muller said Bayern had been feeling “sluggish and tired” amid a packed fixture schedule since the Bundesliga restart and that it was tough to press Frankfurt when out of possession. Wednesday’s match is part of a run of five in 15 days for Bayern. Bayern leads the Bundesliga table by seven points with four games left and could secure the title as Saturday, depending on results elsewhere.

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Serie a gets green light to return on june 20

Serie A play will resume June 20th after the Italian Government gave the professional league the green light on Thursday. In addition, August 20th has been set as the finish date for league play.

“It was a very useful meeting and, as we had said from the start, football was always going to resume when we had the conditions to ensure safety and the committee gave the go-ahead to the protocol,” Italian Sports Minister Vincenzo Spadafora stated.

“Italy is getting back on track and it is only fair that football should too. The committee agreed with the protocol, but confirmed the absolute necessity for a quarantine period if a player tests positive. We also received guarantees the process of player testing will not affect or detract from the general population’s access to testing in any way.”

With safety still being the most important part, should a player or coach of any team in the future test positive for COVID-19, the entire squad and staff will have to undergo a two-week quarantine period.

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June 20th is planned to see four matches take place from Matchday 25; Atalanta vs. Sassuolo, Inter Milan vs. Sampdoria, Torino vs. Parma, and Verona vs. Cagliari. An official schedule will be announced on Friday, but it is expected that teams will be playing every three days during the time slots of 5:00 p.m., 7:15p.m., and 9:30 p.m. (Italian Time).

Juventus leads the Serie A table with 63 points, a point clear of second place Lazio.

Inter Milan and Atalanta currently occupy the remaining two spots in the top four, while AS Roma, Napoli, and AC Milan round out the current top seven.

Lecce, Spal, and Brescia are currently occupying the relegation zone with 12 matches remaining. Genoa, Torino, Sampdoria, and Udinese are just outside of the bottom three, all sitting under 30 points each so far this season.

In addition to league play returning, Coppa Italia semifinal second legs of Juventus vs. AC Milan and Napoli vs. Inter Milan will take place on June 13th, with the final scheduled for June 17th.

Serie A joined the English Premier League on Thursday as the latest European league to announce an official date for the resumption of the campaign. Should the final matches in Italy be cancelled due to COVID-19, Spadafora admitted the league would resort to introducing a play-off stage or freeze its current standings.

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Luiz future at Arsenal in doubt

David Luiz could be set for an Arsenal exit just one year after arriving from Chelsea.

The Gunners paid their west London rivals £8 million ($9.8m) to sign the Brazil international last summer, with the centre-back completing his shock move across the capital on deadline day.

And despite some high profile errors, Luiz has become persistent in the heart of the Arsenal defense, both under Unai Emery and Mikel Arteta, who was appointed in December following Emery’s dismissal.

Luiz has featured in all but one of Arteta’s 15 matches in charge and has often spoken in glowing terms of the Spaniard’s methods.

“Mikel is doing amazing, I am enjoying being almost 33 years old and still learning and improving and to see how beautiful football is,” Luiz told Adidas in April.

“Every day he changes something more and how a new idea and philosophy can still improve me as a person, as a player and as a leader.” But despite his close relationship with Arteta, Luiz could soon be on the look out for a new club – with Arsenal still to start talks over activating the clause in his contract which would see him stay at Emirates Stadium for another season.

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The Gunners do have William Saliba arriving this summer following his loan spell with Saint Etienne and are also expected to sign Pablo Mari on a permanent deal from Flamengo.

Mari, a naturally left-footed centre-back, would be in direct competition with Luiz, given both prefer to play as the left-sided central defender in a back four.

However, Luiz has publicly stated he has no issues moving to accommodate the Spaniard, who arrived in January on an initial loan deal.

Luiz is one of the highest earners at Arsenal and the north London club are looking to drastically lower their wage bill amid the increasing financial implications being caused by the coronavirus crisis.

The Gunners are predicted to lose up to £144m ($177m) if the entire 2020-21 season is played behind closed doors due to the pandemic.

Meanwhile, Arsenal could start full contact training as early as Thursday after Premier League clubs unanimously agreed to step up plans for a return to action.

Players have been training in groups of up to five since last week, but with social distancing guidelines still in place.

But during a Premier League shareholder meeting on Wednesday, clubs agreed to resume full contact training once again ahead of the league’s planned resumption next month.

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Chelsea ready to offload several players

A source close to Chelsea says that the club is in the process of an overhaul sales of many players and that no one is secure right now including the best midfield in the league, N’Golo Kante.

Chelsea boss Frank Lampard took on the job at Chelsea not long ago and he’s already unveiling his plan to give Chelsea a new look. He wants to sell players like N’Golo Kante, Jorginho, and many other first-team players as he plans to focus on top young players.

Chelsea is ready to be very active in the transfer market soon the coronavirus clears, they are in the market for Dortmund player Jadon Sancho. However, Manchester United is also in the race to pay for Sancho’s transfer to Old Trafford.

United has set aside about £120million to finish the deal and if Chelsea wants him, they’d have to be able to spend more than Man U.

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Chelsea just got of a transfer ban for violating Fifa rules in January and the blue’s boss plans to wait until the summer of 2020 to offload players so he could spend more on the young, more energetic, and skillful players that he has on his radar.

Frank Lampard has shown interest in securing Leicester city’s left-back Ben Chilwell, and they are also looking to contact Lyon for Mousa Dembele’s transfer cost. Also, Lampard has strategies for Arsenal’s fantastic Stricker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang along with Timo Werner of RB Leipzig.

Since the blue was able to sell their star striker Eden Hazard to Real Madrid for a whooping £102 m, this shows that they have a lot of money in the bank to use on new players. And if they want to let go more players as they have a plan to do, they’d be able to buy better players.

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PSG named French Champs as Ligue 1 called off

France’s Ligue de Football Professionnel declared Paris Saint-Germain as the 2019-20 Ligue 1 champions Thursday after the remainder of the season was cancelled because of the coronavirus pandemic.   

“Big sporting events will not be able to take place before September. The 2019-20 season, notably for football, will not be able to resume,” French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe stated Tuesday.

PSG held a 12-point advantage over second-placed Marseille in the Ligue 1 table when play was halted on March 13.

It’s the third straight Ligue 1 title for the Parisians and the seventh time they’ve finished atop the standings in the past eight years. The club now has nine top-flight championships, which is one behind Marseille and Saint-Etienne for the all-time record.

PSG lost two of their first seven matches to open the 2019-20 but were virtually unstoppable from that point forward.

They ended the coronavirus-shortened campaign on a 15-match undefeated streak.

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Paris Saint-Germain’s Kylian Mbappe tied Monaco’s Wissam Ben Yedder for the Ligue 1 lead with 18 goals during the term. The Parisians’ Angel Di Maria had more assists (14) than anyone else in the league.

The French league’s decision also throws the remainder of the Champions League campaign into serious question. Both PSG, who had clinched a quarter-final berth, and Lyon were still active in the UCL.

Meanwhile, the LFP opted to move forward with promotion and relegation despite the early conclusion of the season in contrast to the Dutch Eredivisie, which cancelled the remainder of its term last week.

Amiens and Toulouse will be relegated to Ligue 2 with Lorient and Lens promoted, although Amiens informed that they would be opening legal proceedings over their premature relegation from the top division. 

PSG, Marseille and Rennes will claim the league’s Champions League spots for next campaign.

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Arthur wants to stay, Barca open to offers

Over the last few days, Arthur’s name has been linked with several moves away from the Camp Nou. The Barça midfielder is a wanted man across Europe but, according to Esporte Interativo, he’s let the club know he wants to stay and isn’t interested in a transfer elsewhere.

RAC1 claimed Barça and Juventus were in talks over a potential swap deal involving Arthur. That report stated the Italian giants had offered Pjanic in exchange and it was being considered by the sporting department. Another name linked with Barça is Tottenham Hotspur’s Tanguy Ndombele and the North London side would be open to a swap deal too.

As reported by Goal, initial discussions have taken place between the two clubs, with Juve keen on signing the 23-year-old midfielder, potentially in a swap deal that could include Miralem Pjanic.

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Maurizio Sarri is a fan of the Brazil international and is aiming to sign a midfielder when the transfer window reopens, albeit with Paul Pogba being at the top of the Serie A club’s wishlist.

Arthur has made 67 appearances in all competitions for Barca since joining the club from Gremio back in 2018 and is considered an important member of Quique Setien’s first-team squad.

He has also claimed 20 caps for Brazil and was part of the Copa America-winning side that defeated Peru in the 2019 final, with Arthur’s performances seeing him named in the team of the tournament.

While the former Gremio star is keen to remain at Camp Nou, the future of Philippe Coutinho is somewhat more uncertain.

Barca remain hopeful of offloading the 27-year-old, who is currently on loan at Bayern Munich, in the summer and have offered him to Premier League clubs in the hope of finding a buyer.

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UEFA sets leagues May deadline for restart plans

Uefa has set European football leagues a May 25 deadline to inform the governing body whether they plan to restart their domestic campaigns.

Almost all leagues across Europe ground to a halt last month as countries attempted to stem the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.

While outliers like the Belarus league continue despite the outbreak of Covid-19, major leagues in England, France, Italy and Spain are yet to resume, though some clubs are letting their players to use their training facilities under strict health guidelines.

The only league to pencil in a return date so far has been Germany, which hopes to resume matches in its top two divisions beginning May 9 as the country eases social distancing restrictions.

Uefa is keen to start planning for next season’s European club tournaments. In a letter to 55 member associations, Uefa president Aleksander Ceferin wrote that any league cancelling its season would need to produce a list of teams that have qualified for European club competitions, also by May 25.

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“National Associations and/or Leagues should be in a position to communicate to Uefa by 25 May 2020 the planned restart of their domestic competitions including the date of restart and the relevant competition format,” Ceferin wrote.

“In the event that a domestic competition is to be prematurely terminated for legitimate reasons … Uefa would require the National Association to explain by 25 May 2020 the special circumstances justifying such premature termination and to select clubs for the Uefa club competitions 2020/21 on the basis of sporting merit in the 2019/20 domestic competitions,” he added.

Like all major sports, football has been brought to a virtual standstill by the pandemic, with even major tournaments, such as Uefa’s Euro 2020, postponed for one year, and continental club competitions put on hold.

While Uefa wants its member associations to complete their seasons, several, including Belgium and the Netherlands, have cancelled their seasons or declared them null and void, meaning no titles awarded and no relegations or promotions – a decision strongly criticised by some of the affected clubs.

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La Liga Clubs told no fans until 2021

La Liga’s clubs have been told that soccer games in Spain will likely be performed behind closed doors until 2021, a number of sources have confirmed to ESPN.

The choice — which is but to be officially introduced — has been made by the Spanish authorities, bearing in mind the anticipated evolution of the coronavirus pandemic.

The expectation is that stadiums will regularly re-open underneath strict security measures from January 2021 to attempt to keep away from a brand new outbreak of COVID-19, and will not function at full capability until a vaccine is obtainable.

The choice will probably be saved underneath overview and could be re-evaluated in the occasion of the virus coming underneath management extra rapidly than anticipated, or the event of profitable remedies.

A date is but to be made public for a return to soccer behind closed doors, with La Liga having been suspended indefinitely since final month.

Spain has been one among Europe’s hardest hit nations, with greater than 210,000 confirmed coronavirus circumstances and over 22,000 deaths.

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Players haven’t returned to coaching, and the most definitely state of affairs at present being contemplated is taking part in the rest of the 2019-20 home season behind closed doors in June and July.

La Liga has now handed the information on to its first and second division clubs, which have been alerted to regulate their budgets for subsequent season consequently.

Clubs are going through a major discount in field workplace receipts for 2020-21, in addition to related losses akin to merchandising gross sales and earnings from stadium excursions.

As ESPN reported earlier this week, Barcelona‘s price range for subsequent season is prone to be lowered by €200 million because of the monetary impression of COVID-19.

The membership was already considering a state of affairs that concerned behind-closed-doors video games at Camp Nou until February 2021.

La Liga is beneficial that clubs try to chop switch spending and focus extra on academy gamers and mortgage signings as they appear to construct squads for subsequent season.

ESPN has been told that the league and its broadcast companions are contemplating various measures, together with larger use of pitchside audio and adjusted digicam angles, to compensate for the dearth of fan ambiance in matchday broadcasts.

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Arsenal players, coaches agree 12.5 wage cut

Arsenal players and coaching staff have approved to take a voluntary 12.5 per cent pay cut to help support the club financially during the coronavirus crisis.

Talks will continue on an individual basis with some players who have not agreed to the deal, but the vast majority of players have agreed to blanket measures. The proposal will stay on the table for those who have not yet agreed to it.

A statement from the club clarified the agreement is based on the assumption that the 2019-20 Premier League season will be completed, and that full broadcasting revenue will be received as a result.

The statement read: “The move follows positive and constructive discussions.

“In these conversations there has been a clear appreciation of the gravity of the current situation caused by the Covid-19 pandemic and a strong desire for players and staff to show their backing for the Arsenal family.

“Reductions of total annual earnings by 12.5 per cent will come into effect this month, with the contractual paperwork being completed in the coming days.

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“If we meet specific targets in the seasons ahead, primarily linked to success on the pitch, the club will repay agreed amounts.

“We will be able to make those repayments as hitting these targets, which the players can directly influence, will mean our financial position will be stronger.

“The agreement is based on the assumption we will finish the season 2019-20 and receive the full broadcasting revenues.

“The resulting savings will help cover some of the financial risks we have this season in relation to our matchday and commercial income.

“We are proud and grateful to our players and staff for pulling together to support our club, our people and our community in these unprecedented times which are some of the most challenging we have faced in our history.”

Last Monday, players refused a wage-cut proposal but talks with manager Mikel Arteta helped steer the club towards an amicable resolution.

Despite cutbacks, transfer plans are still being made.

The Gunners have contacted Reims over a potential €15 million (£13m/$16m) move for 22-year-old centre-back Axel Disasi, while fellow defender Pablo Mari is hopeful his loan switch from Flamengo will be made permanent.

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