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01-12-2017, 02:24 AM

Chelsea to move for Antonio as Jonas Hector interest cools



Chelsea are interested in signing Michail Antonio as they look to strengthen their options in the wing-back position but, despite reports, are not interested in Koln's Jonas Hector, Goal understands.

Blues boss Antonio Conte is keen to reinforce his defence in January and has already recalled Nathan Ake from Bournemouth as he struggles to zero in on key targets, with a game against title holders Leicester City beckoning on Saturday.His hopes of signing Antonio could be dashed early, however, as the Hammers have no interest of selling the 26-year-old in January.

The Blues are continuing to monitor other options, having also looked at Napoli's Faouzi Ghoulam. Ghoulam has snubbed a new contract at the Serie A club but it is understood that he will not be available to move in January.

Conte is still assessing Kenedy and is open to both keeping him or loaning him out. The Brazilian is not yet registered to play because, if he makes an appearance for Chelsea, he would be unable to move on loan.

This is due to FIFA rules not allowing players to appear for more than two clubs, with Kenedy having been used by Watford in a single appearance before returning to west London.

Hector, though, has not been one to catch Chelsea's interest despite rumours linking the Londoners to the Germany international.

Conte has outlined Swansea City's Fernando Llorente as a January target up front, meanwhile, though Michy Batshuayi's status in the squad is complicating matters.Batshuayi has several clubs in England and Italy watching his situation, while Marseille would also be prepared to take him on loan.
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01-12-2017, 02:26 AM

Mata: One more goal should send us to Wembley



Juan Mata believes one more goal will be enough for Manchester United to reach the EFL Cup final at Hull City's expense when their semi-final second leg takes place in a fortnight.

Jose Mourinho's men are in a strong position to reach the Wembley showpiece having won 2-0 at Old Trafford on Tuesday, with the return meeting to take place at the KCOM Stadium on January 26.

Mata scored United's first goal from close range after 56 minutes of the first leg, before Marouane Fellaini's header doubled the hosts' advantage with three minutes to go.

And the Spain international now feels one more goal in the tie will make it almost impossible for Hull to recover."Hull need to score and they need to go for the win, so we need to be ready for that," Mata told MUTV.

"We know that they create a tough atmosphere in their stadium, but we will try to be ready for that."We will try to score as well because if we score it makes a massive difference there and hopefully we can then be at Wembley again. "That would be amazing for us and amazing for our fans.

"We scored twice in the second half which is a good result for us. For me it is very important to create the chances and to play good football because if we play like this I think we are obviously closer to the win."

The winners of the tie will face Southampton or Liverpool in the final on February 26.
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01-12-2017, 02:27 AM

Roma rejected Arsenal's 'almost €40m' offer for Manolas, claims agent



Roma rejected a bid of nearly €40 million (£34.6m) from Arsenal for Kostas Manolas ahead of the 2016-17 campaign, the centre-back's agent, Ioannis Evangelopoulos, has claimed.

The Premier League side were heavily linked with the Greece international during the close-season, but a move never materialised as they strengthened their defence with Shkodran Mustafi from Valencia instead.

Manolas's representative has now suggested that Roma's asking price was the main reason behind the collapse of the deal, before adding that the 25-year-old could be on the move after all come June, although he has ruled out a move to China."I cannot say where Kostas would like to play but it will be interesting to see which teams will come knocking for him," Evangelopoulos told Sport FM.

"Roma refused an almost €40m offer from Arsenal for Kostas in the summer. The Gunners were really interested but Roma's demands exceeded what they were willing to pay.

"A transfer in January? There is no news there. There is no guarantee he will move in the summer but there will probably be some offers. But in general it is hard to predict anything in football.

"A move to China? We are talking about excessive offers. The figures being touted are stunning but Kostas has the option to play at the highest level and I would say China does not suit his ambitions. "Football in Europe has much more to offer than just money, like fame and recognition."

Sky Italia claimed last week that Everton were the latest Premier League club to show an interest in Manolas.
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01-12-2017, 02:28 AM

€65m for Arsenal target Belotti isn’t enough, says agent



Andrea Belotti will only leave Torino if his €100m release clause is met, the player’s agent has told Goal.

The 23-year-old has scored 17 goals in 21 matches for club and country this season, prompting a reported £65 million bid from Arsenal, according to the club’s sporting director Gianluca Petrachi.

Sources close to the Gunners insist that no formal offer has been made for Belotti, and while his agent refused to comment on the reports linking his client with a move to north London, he did admit that it would take a mammoth bid for the Italian striker to leave Serie A.

“Many clubs are interested”, Sergio Lancini told Goal. “€65million is not enough. His clause is €100million. That’s all I can say at the moment”.

Bellotti’s contract with Torino expires in 2021 and the Turin outfit are confident they will keep him until the summer at least, although the player remains focused on staying in Italy for the forseeable.“I have to continue like this, I cannot let it go to my head,” Belotti told Tuttosport. “I always have to work, I hope to play a good 2017 to conquer my dreams.

“The Premier League? I do not think about it, I just think of Torino and doing well here, then we will see.”


Arsenal are currently blessed with a wealth of forward options including in-form duo Olivier Giroud and Lucas Perez, while the return of Danny Welbeck from injury provides Arsene Wenger with another attacking threat.
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01-12-2017, 02:29 AM

Muller frustrated with Bayern role



Thomas Muller has admitted he is not happy with his situation at Bayern Munich, but the attacker is adamant he will always put the team's interests first.

The Germany international endured a difficult first half the season, in which he scored just once in 13 Bundesliga appearances.

Muller had to stay on the bench for the full 90 minutes in Bayern's win over RB Leipzig before the mid-season break and he has acknowledged watching on from the sidelines was a frustrating experience.

"The last game against Leipzig was not ideal for me on a personal level because I did not play," Muller told Sport Bild.

"There was more space than in previous games and it was a game where I could have enjoyed myself."So I was obviously not watching on from the bench with a smile on my face."There will be situations where players will have to settle for a place on the bench in important games. But we have to deal with it as a team.

"The team spirit is key and we should all put the team ahead of our own egos. That is the case for me as much as for the other players."
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01-12-2017, 02:29 AM

Modric named Croatian Player of the Year for the fifth time



Real Madrid star Luka Modric has been named the Croatian Player of the Year for the fifth time in his career.

Modric, 31, previously won the prize handed out by newspaper Vecernji List in 2007, 2008, 2011 and 2014 but lost out to Barcelona midfielder Ivan Rakitic in 2015.

He has reclaimed the award, however, after winning the Champions League with Madrid last May and impressing during Croatia's participation at Euro 2016.
"This prize means a lot to me, it's the fifth time I've received it and it's very special for me because it has a great tradition," Modric told Madrid's official website.

"I want to thank those who voted for me. I have to keep working hard and improving every day. I want to thank those who have helped me to win this award."Modric claimed 110 points in the voting, placing ahead of Rakitic (80) and Juventus striker Mario Mandzukic (76) in the top three.

Only Davor Suker has been handed the accolade on more occasions than Modric, with the retired striker named the country's top performer six times.
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01-12-2017, 02:30 AM

Congratulations Modric!
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01-12-2017, 10:25 AM

Southampton 1-0 Liverpool: Redmond goal gives Saints the advantage



Southampton held a stuttering Liverpool at arm's length to secure a 1-0 lead in their EFL Cup semi-final first leg through Nathan Redmond's fine strike.

Liverpool had demolished Southampton 6-1 in the quarter-finals of this competition last season at St Mary's Stadium, but a repeat meeting came in sharp contrast as the hosts defending superbly throughout.

Virgil van Dijk again displayed his class with a strong, composed performance and how Jurgen Klopp will have wished for such a resolute presence in his own defence when Ragnar Klavan's error allowed Redmond to grab a potentially precious goal.

And as ex-Red Luis Suarez was scoring his 100th goal in 120 Barcelona games since leaving Anfield, Klopp's attack also came up short - a half-paced Daniel Sturridge failing to impress on a rare start that is unlikely to be repeated on this evidence.

Philippe Coutinho emerging from the bench just past the hour after almost two months out with an ankle injury will have warmed visiting hearts as Klopp prepares to unleash the Brazilian at Manchester United in Sunday's return to Premier League action.

That trip to Old Trafford becomes a key fixture for Liverpool, who have fallen into a mini stumble after being held 0-0 by Plymouth Argyle in the FA Cup on Sunday.
The Saints had scored first before being demolished in last season's quarter-final tie and they again struck first, despite Liverpool dominating possession.

Redmond came into the game without a goal in 15 outings and nerves were evident when he took a touch from Cedric Soares' cross, allowing the returning Loris Karius time to smother his shot, but the England Under-21 man atoned a minute later.Klavan miscued when attempting to cut out Dusan Tadic's pass to Jay Rodriguez, who squared for Redmond to calmly finish across Karius and into the net.

Fraser Forster had earlier been called into action by Roberto Firmino's snapshot, but that was as much as the Reds mustered in 45 minutes, with Coutinho sent to warm up before half-time - perhaps a threat to those on the pitch from Klopp if nothing else - with Karius' razor-sharp reflexes denying Redmond a second and keeping the visitors in it just before the break.

Former Saint Sadio Mane appears to be a sore loss from Liverpool's front line, which lacked its usual zip without the Senegalese on Africa Cup of Nations duty, though Coutinho embarked on a couple of mazy runs after he replaced Georginio Wijnaldum.

As Liverpool's stodgy play continued to let them down, Southampton ought to have doubled their lead when Redmond led a lightning-quick counter-attack from a visiting corner, only for Cedric to slash wide from 12 yards when Rodriguez was supporting him infield.

On another day, Redmond would have single-handedly ended the tie inside 90 minutes and he clipped the crossbar with a late chip - his three misses something to pore over if Liverpool do turn the tables at Anfield in two weeks' time.
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01-12-2017, 10:27 AM

Juventus 3-2 Atalanta: Dybala, Mandzukic & Pjanic fire Old Lady to Coppa victoria



Juventus are on course for a record-breaking third consecutive Coppa Italia title after beating Atalanta 3-2 in the competition's round of 16.

Paulo Dybala's stunning volley put the Serie A leaders in front after 22 minutes at Juventus Stadium, and he played in Mario Mandzukic for the home side's second 12 minutes later.

Gian Piero Gasperini's spirited Atalanta side rallied late in the game with goals from substitutes Abdoulay Konko and Emmanuel Latte Lath, but Miralem Pjanic's penalty booked Massimiliano Allegri's men a clash with either Milan or Torino in the quarter-finals.

Atalanta have been the surprise package of Serie A this season and they arrived in Turin hoping to improve on the 3-1 league defeat they suffered at the same ground in December.

But they came up against a supremely confident Juventus attack despite Allegri's decision to rest star striker Gonzalo Higuain, and the Bianconeri hung on for the win at the end.

Atalanta's Alberto Grassi tested Juventus goalkeeper Neto with a low drive in the opening 30 seconds of a lively start to the match as the Serie A champions went toe-to-toe with one of this season's brightest teams.

Juve steadied themselves and should have taken the lead when Stephan Lichtsteiner's cross found Mandzukic unmarked, but the ball hit the Croatian striker's body before striking the post on its way wide.

The visitors' bright start seemed to work against them as a galvanised Juventus poured forward, and the opening goal was a delight to watch as Mandzukic headed a cross back to Dybala, who struck the sweetest of volleys to leave goalkeeper Etrit Berisha with no chance.

There was no let up from Juve's front pair and after 33 minutes Dybala played Mandzukic into the area and the 30-year-old side-footed his sixth goal of the season in at the far post, before missing a golden chance to make it 3-0 just before half-time.Atalanta made a more cautious start to the second half than they had the first, but even sitting deep they struggled to contain the tireless Juventus attack.

Sloppy play at the back by Konko allowed Stefano Sturaro to cross for Mandzukic, whose header looped dangerously back across the face of goal before Andrea Masiello acrobatically cleared the danger.

With a trip to Fiorentina awaiting his side at the weekend, Allegri replaced Dybala with Marko Pjaca after an hour and moments later Tomas Rincon, making his full Juventus debut, was denied his first goal for the club when Berisha tipped his rising shot over the crossbar.

Atalanta's travelling support were finally given something to cheer when Andrea Petagna squared the ball to Konko and the full-back hit an instinctive half-volley that bounced in off the post.

Juventus' two-goal lead was restored just three minutes later when Marco D'Alessandro tripped Lichtsteiner in the box and Pjanic made no mistake from the penalty spot, but Atalanta hit back again to ensure a tense finish to the game.

Andrea Conti got in behind the Juventus defence and crossed for Latte Lath to nip in ahead of his marker and squeeze the ball between Neto and the post, but there was to be no dramatic equaliser for Gasperini's men.
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01-12-2017, 10:28 AM

Paris Saint-Germain 2-0 Metz: Thiago Silva sends champions through



Holders Paris Saint-Germain eased into the semi-finals of the Coupe de la Ligue with a 2-0 win over Metz thanks to a pair of headers from Thiago Silva.

The pressure on coach Unai Emery has been eased by an emphatic 5-0 victory over Lorient before the mid-season break and a 7-0 Coupe de France rout of Bastia at the weekend.

Though the margin of victory was not as emphatic this time around, PSG produced another dominant performance to suggest they are finding their rhythm ahead of the resumption of a Ligue 1 campaign that sees them surprisingly five points adrift of leaders Nice.

And it was captain Silva who proved the difference maker in Wednesday's contest at the Parc des Princes, the Brazil defender the only player able to beat David Oberhauser in the Metz goal.


Silva made it 1-0 in the 27th minute by turning home an Angel Di Maria corner, and the same formula paid dividends 18 minutes from time as PSG joined Monaco, Bordeaux and Nancy in the last four.

PSG dominated from the start and Edinson Cavani spurned a decent opening as he headed wide before Thomas Meunier hit the near post from a Di Maria corner.
And only the marvellous reflexes of Oberhauser prevented PSG from breaking the deadlock in the 17th minute.

Marco Verratti's exquisite diagonal ball was met by Christopher Nkunku, whose first-time cross found Cavani, only for the Uruguay striker to be denied by a fantastic reaction point-blank save from Oberhauser.

But Oberhauser could not prevent the hosts from opening the scoring 10 minutes later, Metz paying the price for some very poor marking.Silva was afforded far too much space in the area and had the simplest of tasks to power another Di Maria delivery into the bottom-right corner.

An intricately worked move by PSG ended with Nkunku being denied at the near post by Oberhauser as Emery's men looked to put the tie to bed.Oberhauser thwarted Jonathan Ikone a minute into the second half, and Metz continued to live extremely dangerously at the back.

Cavani's frustration was evident after he headed over a cross from Di Maria, who then became the latest player to see an effort kept out as he had a strike cleared off the line.Metz improved after those scares and did threaten Alphonse Areola's goal, Habib Diallo curling narrowly over after an error from Presnel Kimpembe.

A busy night for Oberhauser continued, though, a wonderful passage of play between Adrien Rabiot and Di Maria going unrewarded as the latter saw his effort saved. Hatem Ben Arfa laid the rebound off to Cavani, whose attempt was kept out by the legs of Oberhauser.

But PSG did eventually double their lead as Silva's run again went untracked and he made no mistake in putting the game beyond doubt.

Former PSG striker Mevlut Erdinc went close to pulling one back and Cavani blazed over an acrobatic volley at the other end, but Emery and his players should go into Saturday's league meeting with Rennes in good spirits after 14 goals in their last three games.
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