Barcelona Confirms Return Of 38-Year-Old Right Back Dani Alves

Barcelona have announced the surprise return of right-back Dani Alves, with the 38-year-old set to rejoin the La Liga side for the rest of the season.

Alves, who was without a club, has agreed to rejoin Barça and will be reunited with his former teammate and newly appointed manager Xavi Hernández when he joins the squad next week – although he will not be able to play in matches until January.

Shortly after the club’s announcement, Alves posted a statement on Instagram alongside a picture of him kissing the club badge at the Camp Nou. “I knew within my heart and within my soul that this day would come,” he wrote. “See you soon with the same desire to help rebuild the best club in the world!”

Described as “the greatest right-back in Barça history” in the club’s official announcement of his return, the Brazilian played at the Camp Nou between 2008 and 2016. Alves won six La Liga titles, three Champions League crowns and three Club World Cup trophies among other major honours in a golden spell for the team.

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Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has said the 5-0 defeat to Liverpool is his darkest day in charge of Manchester United, but has no intention of walking away.


The result has ramped up pressure on Solskjaer, on the back of a big summer investment in the playing squad which saw Cristiano Ronaldo, Jadon Sancho and Raphael Varane brought to Old Trafford.

Solskjaer has conceded it is his lowest point as manager at Old Trafford.
“It’s the darkest day I’ve had dealing with these players,” Solskjaer told Sky Sports. “We were not good enough, individually and as a team.
Asked if the performance reflected badly on him and his coaching staff, the Norwegian said: “It is mine. The coaching staff are brilliant. I choose the way we approach the game and today we were not clinical enough going forward.”
There are calls for United to act and relieve Solskajer of his duties, but he has no intention of quitting.
“I have come too far, we have come too far as a group and we are too close to give up now,” he said.

While United created a good opening that Bruno Fernandes missed early on, they were soon cut apart by Liverpool.


‘We have gone here two and a half years and had a similar approach to go high and press and today they scored their chances early on, they haven’t done that before,’ Solskjaer said.

‘Man Utd we should always try and home to go and stamp our authority early on. ‘



RANIERI SACKED : Leicester part ways with Claudio Ranieri

Leicester City Football Club has tonight (Thursday) parted company with its First Team Manager, Claudio Ranieri.

Claudio Ranieri

– Leicester City Football Club announces the departure of Claudio Ranieri 

– Ranieri has served as First Team Manager since July 2015 
– City won the Premier League title in Ranieri’s first season as manager 
– Vice Chairman pays tribute, but explains the need to serve the Club’s long-term interests 
– Craig Shakespeare and Mike Stowell to assume interim First Team responsibilities 
Leicester City Football Club has tonight (Thursday) parted company with its First Team Manager, Claudio Ranieri. 
Claudio, appointed City manager in July 2015, led the Foxes to the greatest triumph in the Club’s 133-year history last season, as we were crowned champions of England for the first time. His status as the most successful Leicester City manager of all time is without question.
However, domestic results in the current campaign have placed the Club’s Premier League status under threat and the Board reluctantly feels that a change of leadership, while admittedly painful, is necessary in the Club’s greatest interest.
Vice Chairman Aiyawatt Srivaddhanaprabha said: “This has been the most difficult decision we have had to make in nearly seven years since King Power took ownership of Leicester City. But we are duty-bound to put the Club’s long-term interests above all sense of personal sentiment, no matter how strong that might be.
“Claudio has brought outstanding qualities to his office. His skilful management, powers of motivation and measured approach have been reflective of the rich experience we always knew he would bring to Leicester City. His warmth, charm and charisma have helped transform perceptions of the Club and develop its profile on a global scale. We will forever be grateful to him for what he has helped us to achieve.
“It was never our expectation that the extraordinary feats of last season should be replicated this season. Indeed, survival in the Premier League was our first and only target at the start of the campaign. But we are now faced with a fight to reach that objective and feel a change is necessary to maximise the opportunity presented by the final 13 games.”
First Team preparations for Monday’s Premier League fixture against Liverpool will resume on Saturday, with Assistant Manager Craig Shakespeare and First Team Coach Mike Stowell taking charge of the squad until a new manager is appointed.
Assistant Manager and First Team Coach Paolo Benetti and First Team Sport Science and Conditioning Coach Andrea Azzalin have also parted company with the Club and leave with our thanks for their service and best wishes for the future.
The Board will now begin the recruitment process and will make no further comment until that process is completed

Lewandowski extends Bayern contract until 2021

Bayern Munich have announced that Robert Lewandowski has extended his contract until 2021.

The 28-year-old, who joined from Borussia Dortmund in 2014, has been in talks with the club in recent weeks over the renewal of a deal that was due to expire in 2019.

Bayern president Uli Hoeness stated last week that he was “pretty sure” that Lewandowski would commit his future to the club, despite speculation linking him with a move to Real Madrid.

And the striker says he is delighted to have brought rumours over his future to an end with a new four-and-a-half-year deal.

“I am very pleased that negotiations have led to a positive outcome and that I’ve still got a few years ahead at FC Bayern,” Lewandowski, who has won back-to-back Bundesliga titles since moving to the Allianz Arena, told the club’s website.

“We still have some great objectives together.”

Lewandowski added via his official Twitter account: “This club gives me all i need to make my dreams come true! New challenges ahead of us!”

Bayern chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge said of the deal: “I’m delighted that we were able to tie one of the world’s best centre-forwards to the club for the long term.”

Deputy chairman of the board Jan-Christian Dreesen added: “They were intense but always respectful and fair discussions. I want to thank the representatives of Robert Lewandowski for the constructive negotiations.”

Poland captain Lewandowski has been in strong form this season, scoring 19 goals in 22 appearances in all competitions.

The former Lech Poznan forward, who finished as the Bundesliga’s top scorer last term, is four behind leading marksman Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang in 2016-17.


Youngster Player of the Week : Felix Passlack

Name: Felix Passlack,

Nationality: German,

Born: 29 May 1998,

Club: Borussia Dortmund,

Position: Defender,

Preferred foot: Right,

Height: 170cm.

Felix Passlack shone at the UEFA European U17 Championship in 2015 and he received Fritz-Walter-Award in gold as Germany’s best U17 newcomer. His fierce duel with Ribéry during the Super Cup brought more national attention, however, and in Dortmund’s 8-4 victory against Legia Warszawa in November he became Germany’s youngest ever UEFA Champions League goalscorer.


Europa League draw: Manchester United to face Saint-Etienne in last 32

Manchester United have been drawn to play Saint-Etienne in the last 32 of the Europa League.

The tie will see United’s world-record signing Paul Pogba come up against his brother Florentin, a Saint-Etienne defender.

Jose Mourinho’s side were runners-up to Fenerbahce in Group A, while Saint-Etienne topped Anderlecht, Mainz and Gabala in Group C to reach the first knockout round.

Elsewhere, a standout tie sees LaLiga side Villarreal take on Serie A heavyweights Roma, while Tottenham play Belgian team Gent.

The last-32 draw in full, ties to be played February 16 and 23:

Athletic Bilbao v APOEL
Legia Warsaw v Ajax
Anderlecht v Zenit
Astra v Genk
Manchester United v Saint-Etienne
Villarreal v Roma
Ludogorets Razgrad v FC Copenhagen
Celta Vigo v Shakhtar Donetsk
Olympiacos v Osmanlıspor
Gent v Tottenham
Rostov v Sparta Prague
Krasnodar v Fenerbahce
Borussia Monchengladbach v Fiorentina
AZ Alkmaar v Lyon
Hapoel Beer-Sheva v Besiktas
PAOK v Schalke


Last 16 #UCLDraw: Arsenal get Bayern, Barca to face PSG

Arsenal have been drawn to face Bayern Munich in the Champions League last 16, while Paris Saint-Germain will take on Barcelona.

Holders Real Madrid are up against Napoli and Leicester City will come up against Sevilla.

Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City are to play Monaco and Italian champions Juventus face Porto.

Borussia Dortmund are set to do battle with Benfica, while Bayer Leverkusen have a tough test having been picked out against Atletico Madrid.

Arsene Wenger would have hoped for a favourable opponent after his side beat PSG to top spot in Group A, but instead Arsenal face Bayern for the fourth time in five seasons.

Bayern put Arsenal out of the competition at the last 16 in 2013 and 2014, while they met in the group stages of last season’s competition.

The last-16 draw in full, first-leg ties to be played February 14-15 and 21-22:

Manchester City v Monaco
Real Madrid v Napoli
Benfica v Borussia Dortmund
Bayern Munich v Arsenal
Porto v Juventus
Bayer Leverkusen v Atletico Madrid
Paris Saint-Germain v Barcelona
Sevilla v Leicester City


Why Jose Mourinho is Being referred to as ‘a Draw Specialist‘

Manchester United under the auspices of Jose Mourihno began the 2016/2017 season as clear favourites to win the Premier League alongside their rivals Manchester City. But have slipped surprisingly with the ‘Special One’ suddenly now being referred to ‘a draw specialist ‘

The Portuguese coach has continued to wallow his perceived misfortunes after 1-1 draw with Everton at Goodison Park. Mourihno claims his side should have won that match.

With no lady luck smiling, Mourinho has watched his team draw six matches out of 14 this season, but believes they have paid a heavy price for failing to convert their chances when playing.

“We are not getting the results we deserve,” he said. “We are getting draws but deserving victory. Opposition are leaving the stadium super happy with points they don’t deserve and we are leaving the stadium with a feeling we deserved more.”

Does he have point about the dropped points? Some statistics though confirms worst fears prompting more gloom.

United’s habit of conceding goals in the final 10 minutes has in turn cost them seven points. This is the most of any other team in the Premier League
Man United are at 21 points from their first 14 games which is worse than David Moyes and Louis van Gaal, who managed 22 and 25 respectively
Mourinho has won only nine of his past 30 matches in the Premier League at Chelsea and United
United are sixth in the standings, 13 points behind leaders Chelsea and only Phil Jagielka has given away more pens this season (3) than Marouane Fellaini in the Premier League (2).
United have won just one of their last eight games in the Premier League, with six draws and one defeat
Unfortunately, Mourinho has also been handed £145m to inspire United to produce a first challenge for a title they last lifted in 2013 under Sir Alex Ferguson and it continues being elusive as weeks go by.

His transfer budget has been the real noose around his neck. If this doesn’t translate to results it may be hard for him going forward.

It is all about results as Mourinho knows this following his successful stints at Porto, Inter, Chelsea and Real Madrid. Nobody will sympathise with him in the end if the current run continues.


The Impact of Injuries and Suspensions on Star Football Players.

The English Premier league is among the most followed and watched football league worldwide because for among many reasons the entertainment value.

Having started decades ago, different teams have battled it out for the coveted premier league trophy with some privileged than others to have hoisted the trophy many times than the others.

Among the most of fiercest of rivals in the league include, Arsenal, Manchester United, Chelsea, Liverpool, Tottenham Hotspurs among others.

The battle for supremacy has always been intense and the current season of 2016/17 is no any different with as all teams are doing all it takes to topple each other’s record.

New managers have been contracted as well as world class footballers brought in from various clubs and all the fans worldwide can hope for is football galore.

Some of the coaches have clicked very well with their new teams for example, Antonio Conte for Chelsea, Jurgen Kloop for Liverpool and Mauriccio Pochetino for Tottenham Hotspurs, have breathed fresh breath of air to their new teams because they seem to have delivered the Blues, Reds and Spurs respectively, back to their heydays.

For others however, the struggle to regain form and return to winning ways seem to be taking longer than expected with Jose Mourinho feeling the heat even after bringing in some renowned names in the current century to ply their trade for Manchester United.

Arsenal on the other hand looks like the only team to have struck its winning formula after Arsene Wenger finally broke the bank in order to bring in some world class players to his side.

However even with all this put into consideration, player injuries and suspension bans are the other major contributing factors that can diminish any team’s hope of a podium finish.

For instance, it is a well-known fact that Arsenal’s major shortcoming to claiming the Premier League trophy is the endless list of injured players denying them playing time and influence to the teams winning mentality.

Some of Arsenal’s injured players include high rising and demanded left back Hector Bellerin (ankle injury) Per Merteseker (knee injury) and Santiago Carzola (Achilles tendon injury).

Chelsea too is not spared as among the players in the injury list include current top scorer Diego Costa (unknown) Nemanja Matic (calf injury) and John Terry (hip injury).

Liverpool’s chances of glory were dealt a major blow after one of their star players, Phillipe Coutinho was ruled out for several weeks with an ankle injury.

For a team like Manchester City under Pep Guardiola will be missing services of some of the star players because of suspension bans picked up after some cynical challenges in previous games.

In the end of the day, injuries and suspensions are the major hindrances these teams have to contend with in their bid to becoming the best they ever was hence most mangers try all they can to make sure that each position in the squad consists of more than three players to act as back up fillers in what is referred to as depth of squad


MLS MVP Villa has no interest in Premier League move

MLS MVP David Villa says a move to the Premier League is not something that he will consider at this stage of his career.

New York City FC striker Villa saw off competition from Bradley Wright-Phillips and Sacha Kljestan of rivals New York Red Bulls to collect the prestigious honour after a season in which he scored 23 goals in 33 appearances.

The former Spain international, 35, was asked about the possibility of playing in English football, with the likes of Thierry Henry, Landon Donovan and Robbie Keane having all enjoyed loan spells in the Premier League while playing in MLS.

But the ex-Barcelona forward is only concentrating on his career in New York.

“I had the opportunity in the past, it is not in my plans. I like a lot the Premier League, I watch it all the time and I am excited by every game in the Premier League,” he told Sky Sports.

“It is one of the best leagues in the world. I had the opportunity to go there, but now it’s not in my thinking now. I feel good at New York City FC and I am still here.”

Villa also spoke of his pride at being recognised as MVP and is delighted to have achieved one of the main objectives he set when moving to America.

“I’m very proud to represent New York City FC and to receive this award,” he said.

“It’s a big day for me because this is one of the things I said I wanted to do when I came here two years ago.

“This is an important day in my career – this is an important moment for me. This award is for the best player in this amazing league which has many quality players so this is a very happy and proud day for me.”


Arda Barca future brighter after hat-trick

Arda Turan could have secured his Camp Nou future after a hat-trick impressed Luis Enrique as Barcelona thrashed Borussia Monchengladbach 4-0 in the Champions League.

Turkey captain Arda hit the net three times after the break, having assisted Lionel Messi’s first-half opener, on his first Champions League start of the season.

The 29-year-old was linked with a move away from the Catalan giants in the close-season in an attempt to raise transfer funds, with a January switch also mooted after a struggle to earn regular first-team football.

But his coach spoke glowingly following a stand-out performance that underlined Barca’s position as Group C winners.

“He has created lots of goals this year,” Luis Enrique told Spanish television.

“He has many chances when he plays on the left of our attack. I also like him in midfield.”

Aleix Vidal was another to make a rare outing, and he too impressed by playing a part in Arda’s first two goals, including an assist for his second.

“He was spectacular,” Luis Enrique beamed.

“He has a unique physical condition despite not having played for a long time and he was very good, in attack, in defence, with the ball and without the ball.

“The more players join the bandwagon, the better.”


Gladbach’s Alvaro Dominguez retires at 27

Borussia Monchengladbach defender Alvaro Dominguez has been forced to retire due to ongoing back problems.

The 27-year-old Spaniard made the announcement on social media on Tuesday, succumbing to persistent injuries.

Dominguez underwent back surgery for a second time in September, with the former Atletico Madrid player without a Bundesliga appearance since November last year.

Hasta siempre

— Alvaro Dominguez (@Adominguez15) December 6, 2016

“I’ve been playing in a terrible condition the last few years and been obliged to carry on playing,” he said in a video published via his official Twitter account.

“This has led me to two operations and has led me to some consequences that I’m still suffering today.

“This means that today I have to say goodbye to you and this sport that I am so passionate about. No one would like to be an invalid at 27-years old. This is the price that I will have to pay.”

Despite fighting to return, @Adominguez15 has had to retire from football at 27 years old Thanks for everything, Alvaro! #fohlenelf

— Gladbach (@borussia_en) December 6, 2016

After joining Gladbach in 2012, Dominguez made over 80 appearances for the German outfit, though he only played in six games last term.

During his four years at Atletico, he featured in more than 75 matches.


Mourinho ‘has nothing to hide’ over tax affairs

Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho has insisted he has nothing to hide over his tax affairs.

A consortium of 12 European newspapers has said it will publish the findings of what is described as “the largest leak in the history of sport” under the banner ‘Football Leaks’ over the next three weeks.

As part of that leak, several media outlets have alleged that Real Madrid star Cristiano Ronaldo and Mourinho avoided taxes using tax havens through structures set up by their agent Jorge Mendes’ company, Gestifute.

However, Gestifute described the accusations as “unfounded” in a statement on Friday, saying the duo are “fully compliant with their tax obligations”.

Mourinho issued a similarly strong denial when asked about the matter after United’s 1-1 draw with Everton on Sunday.

“I have lodged the documents in Italy, Spain and England,” Mourinho told reporters.

“I have nothing to hide. They prove that I have done nothing wrong.”

Mourinho’s response comes after MP Meg Hillier, who chairs the public accounts committee in the United Kingdom, told The Sunday Times that the claims needed “close examination”.
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Kane wants to see out career at Tottenham

Harry Kane says there is no reason why he will not spend the rest of his playing career at Tottenham, so long as the club keeps progressing.

The England striker penned a new deal at White Hart Lane that runs until 2022 this week and celebrated by scoring twice in a 5-0 battering of Swansea City in the Premier League on Saturday.

The 23-year-old, who has hit five goals in his last four Tottenham appearances, is targeting winning trophies with Spurs and expects to be in north London beyond the length of his new contract.

“From my point of view, as long as the club’s always progressing and has got a vision and going forward, then I’d love to do that [stay for the rest of my career],” Kane said.

“At the moment, that’s the case, so there is no reason for me to move anywhere else. My ambitions at Tottenham are to win trophies. Premier Leagues, Champions Leagues. We’ve got to aim high, we have everything in the right place.

“You see the stadium being built every time we come here, little by little. It’s exciting. We’ve got everything in place to be one of the top clubs in Europe.

“That’s the aim, that’s my goal and I’m sure it is the club’s too. I’m happy here, I feel the club’s progressing, we’ve got a great manager who I believe in a lot and the players believe in a lot, the stadium, the training ground, they are exciting times.

“There was no hesitation about signing a new contract.”

An ankle injury disrupted the start of Kane’s season but with seven Premier League goals to his name he is hitting top form again.

“When you are injured, you’re always thinking what is it going to feel like when you are playing again,” Kane said. “I did a lot of rehab work and a lot of stuff in the gym to be as ready as possible.

“It’s very pleasing to come back from a period out and still be scoring goals. Hopefully I can keep doing that for the rest of the season. We know in the last couple of months we could have done a lot better.

“We spoke about how these next couple are very important. Last year in December and January we really pushed on and put a good string of results together. That is what we have got to do now.

“We have definitely got some winnable games coming up, some good games at home that we should definitely win. We are looking at these next two months to build on this win against Swansea, hopefully get a few wins in a row and push us up the league and start fighting for the title.”
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Wenger to field ‘mixed’ side against Southampton

Arsene Wenger said he would field a strong but mixed squad in Arsenal’s EFL Cup quarter-final against Southampton, and that Carl Jenkinson is in line for a start.

Wenger also insisted Sunday’s 3-1 win over Bournemouth in the Premier League relieved pressure after three straight draws in all competitions.

Alexis Sanchez scored a brace for Arsenal, with his goals coming either side of a Theo Walcott header, meaning that Wenger’s side are heading into Wednesday’s cup clash at the Emirates Stadium full of confidence.

“We will have a mixture of youth and experience, but still 90 per cent of a first-team squad,” Wenger told the club’s website.

“We were in a winning momentum and suddenly you only make draws, so it gets a little bit in the head of the players. For us, I think it was an important step to win against Bournemouth, and having watched the game again, I think we played better than I thought after the game.”

Wenger feels Jenkinson is a player who benefits from having a run of games, and he is hopeful the 24-year-old will showcase his improvement.

“Carl Jenkinson will play. I rested him completely against Bournemouth because he played two big games and I felt he needed a breather. Sometimes, mentally three games in a week demands a lot. Carl’s back in tomorrow and we’ll put Gabriel in the centre, and then we will see for Saturday,” he said.

“You forget that it’s a big ask. Carl is very conscientious and it takes him time to play completely with freedom. He needs a run of games to play with freedom, so the fact that he can get another game tomorrow, I think we’ll already see a different Carl.”

Arsenal’s next Premier League clash comes at the London Stadium against West Ham on Saturday, with Wenger’s team sitting just three points off top spot.
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CONMEBOL suspends all activities following Chapecoense crash

CONMEBOL has decided to suspend all its activities following the plane crash involving Brazilian side Chapecoense ahead of their Copa Sudamericana final first leg against Atletico Nacional.

The plane, carrying 72 passengers and nine crew, crashed on its way to Medellin from Santa Cruz de la Sierra, Bolivia.

“The South American Football Confederation confirms that it has been notified by Colombian authorities that the plane on which the Atletico Chapecoense of Brazil delegation suffered an accident on its arrival to Colombia,” an official statement reads.

“We are in contact with the authorities and we are awaiting for official updates.

“The CONMEBOL family enormously laments what has happened.

“All activities of the confederation will remain suspended until further notice.

“President Alejandro Dominguez is currently in transit to Medellin.”

A press release sent out by the Jose Maria Cordova airport said authorities were working to rescue the survivors.

Chapecoense, meanwhile, have released a statement on their official Facebook page as they await further news and updates.

“Given the conflicting reports emerging from different journalistic sources concerning the crash of the plane carrying the Chapecoense players, the Chapecoense football association through it vice-president, Ivan Tozzo, is refraining from comment and awaiting official announcements from the Colombian air authorities,” the statement reads.

“May God be with our athletes, leaders, journalists and the other guests who are with the delegation.”
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