HOW RUDIGER FOUGHT FOR HIS CHELSEA PLACE
All footballers want one thing – to play regularly. But, for one reason or another, this is not always the case, as Chelsea centre-back Antonio Rudiger experienced earlier this season.
“I’m a competitor, I want to play. Obviously it is frustrating and it was the first time in my career that I had this type of situation,” he said in an exclusive interview with Sky Sports ahead of facing Newcastle on Monday Night Football.
“I just said to myself ‘work, try hard to get back into the first team’. Now I can say I’m receiving the good from the hard work that I did before.”
BAYERN SET TO SIGN RICHARDS
Bayern Munich are poised to complete the signing of Reading left-back Omar Richards on a free transfer, according to Sky in Germany.
The 23-year-old will be out of contract in June and Bayern have moved to secure his arrival on a pre-contract agreement, similarly to RB Leipzig defender Dayot Upamecano whose summer arrival in Bavaria was confirmed on Sunday.
Sky Sports News reported in January the Bundesliga champions were closing in on a deal for Richards, as the England U21 international was free to speak to clubs outside of the UK.
- Manchester United face a fight to sign Jules Kounde – with Barcelona and Real Madrid joining the hunt for the Sevilla star (The Sun)
- Arsene Wenger revealed that he offered Jamie Vardy ‘a lot of money’ to join Arsenal from Leicester back in 2016 (Daily Mail)
- Liverpool have made Torino centre-back Bremer their top summer transfer target (Daily Mirror)
- Manchester City star Aymeric Laporte is wanted by Real Madrid (Daily Star)
OLE: I’M FOLLOWING HAALAND CLOSELY
Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer says he is following Erling Haaland‘s progress and believes the Borussia Dortmund striker will have a “fantastic” career.
Haaland has developed into one of the world’s most prolific forwards having scored 39 goals in 41 appearances for Dortmund since joining from Red Bull Salzburg at the end of 2019.
Solskjaer, who coached Haaland during his time in charge of Norwegian club Molde, reportedly met with the 20-year-old before his move to Germany after United head scout Marcel Bout had watched him play against Liverpool in the Champions League last season.
Sky Sports News understood United had met Haaland’s €20m release clause at the time but could not agree on the conditions for the transfer, with the stumbling block believed to be the value of the requested buy-out option if the Norway international moved to Old Trafford.
ARE CHELSEA STILL PAYING LAMPARD?
Frank Lampard is reportedly still being paid his £75,000-a-week salary by former club Chelsea despite being sacked in January.
The Sun claim Lampard has been kept on the payroll and is still due £1.8m in a move designed to mitigate the huge compensation the club have paid previously dismissed managers.
An agreement was reportedly struck whereby he will continue to receive the sum until July.
Lampard was recently linked to the vacancy at Bournemouth but the report claims he would take a financial hit if he were to take up a new position before the summer.
LIVERPOOL SEEK GINI REPLACEMENT?
Liverpool are preparing for the departure of Georginio Wijnaldum and are interested in Borussia Monchengladbach midfielder Florian Neuhaus as a replacement, according to German publication Kicker.
Talks between Wijnaldum and Liverpool over a new contract reached a stalemate last month.
A long-standing offer of a new deal remains on the table but, for now, the 30-year old Dutch midfielder has not accepted it.
Sky Sports News has been told suggestions that Wijnaldum has turned down a new contract offer from Liverpool are wide of the mark.
But reports in Germany claim the Premier League champions have already turned their focus on Neuhaus to fill the void.
The Gladbach midfielder, 23, is already a full German international and has a release clause of £35m.
‘SIR ALEX KEEPING CLOSE EYE ON LINGARD’
West Ham boss David Moyes has revealed Sir Alex Ferguson has told him he is keeping a close eye on Manchester United loanee Jesse Lingard.
Lingard scored twice on his Hammers debut at Aston Villa on February 3 after joining the club on loan from Old Trafford, where Moyes had an unhappy spell as manager following the departure of Ferguson.
Asked about Lingard bringing a winning mentality to, Moyes said: “I refer back to my time at Everton when I brought Phil Neville in and I brought Tim Howard in.
“Phil Neville was great for his mentality and what he brought, it really gave us another edge. Him as a player as well gave us something else. I’m hoping Jesse does the same.
“He’s only here in the short term but already I’ve spoken with Sir Alex, who asked me to pass on his best to Jesse; he mentioned he was thinking about him because Sir Alex had him as a boy at Old Trafford.”
PATO SIGNS FOR ORLANDO CITY
Orlando City have signed Brazilian forward Alexandre Pato to a one-year deal as a free agent.
Pato, 31, most recently played for Brazil’s Sao Paulo following stints in at AC Milan, Chelsea and Villarreal.
“We are very excited to welcome Pato to Orlando. He’s a veteran player who has featured at some of the top clubs around the world and has a proven track record at the international level. The experience that Pato brings with him will be invaluable to the Club,” said Orlando City executive vice president of soccer operations Luiz Muzzi. “Pato is a high-caliber player and we’re excited to add another great target up top.”
DID TUCHEL ALMOST MANAGE NEWCASTLE?
Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel talks about rumours that he could have taken the Newcastle job, leaving his smart phone in the car and Chelsea’s upsurge in form.
ROWE JOINS BURTON
Burton have announced the signing of winger Danny Rowe until the end of the season. The 28-year-old was available having left Ipswich last summer after three years at Portman Road.
His last season with Ipswich was disrupted by a knee injury and the coronavirus pandemic.
“I’ve been out since the summer, so it’s great to be in regular training again and to be around the lads,” said Rowe.
“I’m feeling good, fitness-wise. Training here is intense and I feel it is really benefiting me.”
COKE JOINS GRIMSBY
Grimsby have signed experienced midfielder Giles Coke until the end of the season.
The 34-year-old has been able to sign after the EFL and FA granted permission for him to join the League Two Mariners.
Grimsby manager Paul Hurst told the club website: “I’m really pleased, not just for ourselves but for the player as well.
“When I delivered the news last week that it looked like he couldn’t sign for us, you could see him get quite emotional really, angry, annoyed and disappointed because in the few weeks we have had him here, he has worked incredibly hard but also the extra sessions he was putting in to prove his desire and show the work he is willing to put in.”
THE SKY SPORTS EFL PODCAST
Jonathan Oakes is joined by pundit Don Goodman and presenter Caroline Barker to discuss all the latest from the Championship, League One and League Two.
The panel take a look at the race for the Premier League that is heating up between Norwich, Brentford and Swansea – with the likes of Reading and a few others still chasing, while we also hear from Sunderland midfielder Max Power in Ten To Tackle.
All that and much more!
WILL ARSENAL TAKE CEBALLOS OPTION?
Arsenal can reportedly turn Dani Ceballos‘ loan spell from Real Madrid into a permanent deal for just £22m, according reports in Spain.
The Spaniard is in his second season on loan in North London but he has lost his place in recent weeks due to injury and the partnership between Granit Xhaka and Thomas Partey.
Ceballos could be recalled to the starting XI for the clash against Leeds with Partey set for a period out with a hamstring injury.
Should he impress Mikel Arteta, the Gunners would be in a good position to make a permanent move. Spanish publication La Razon report that Madrid want a fee in the region of £22m for Ceballos.
THOMASON SIGNS NEW BOLTON DEAL
Midfielder George Thomason has signed a new 18-month contract with Bolton.
The 20-year-old has made 10 appearances in Wanderers’ first team this season after signing from non-league Longridge in 2019, and scored his first professional goal in the Boxing Day draw at Carlisle.
Manager Ian Evatt told the club’s website: “George is a wonderful young lad and we are delighted to have agreed a new contract with him. He’s got lots of work to do but he’s a fantastic young player.”
PARKER UNHAPPY OVER ELLIOTT EXIT
Scott Parker said he was “disappointed” with Harvey Elliott‘s departure from Fulham and believes the compensation fee Liverpool must pay is not sufficient.
Liverpool were ordered to hand Fulham a record £4.3m for a 16-year-old after a tribunal ruled they must pay for the youngster.
The Professional Football Compensation Committee ruled Liverpool must pay an initial £1.5m for Elliott, plus £2.8m in contingent amounts dependent on the player’s performance. There are also payments due for Elliott signing further contracts at Anfield.
JOHNSTONE ON MAN UTD UPBRINGING & BAGGIES
A small gesture can leave the biggest impact. Sam Johnstone still remembers the day, as a young trainee at Manchester United, when the club’s number one keeper, Edwin Van Der Sar, walked over and slipped him the £20 needed to cover a club fine.
“He told me not to do it again, he was a really good guy who looked after everyone,” Johnstone recalls.
The West Bromwich Albion goalkeeper is preparing to face his old club at The Hawthorns on Sunday afternoon – live on Sky Sports. The training ground incident reflects the work ethic and standards which were drilled into him from a young age at United.
SATURDAY PAPER TALK
- Arsenal are close to finalising a summer deal for Sporting Lisbon striker Tiago Tomas (The Sun)
- Pep Guardiola has told rival Jose Mourinho that his reputation won’t save him from the sack at Tottenham(Daily Star)
- Jon Walters has applied to be the next chief executive of the Professional Footballers’ Association (The Times)
- Gareth Bale‘s agent Jonathan Barnett says salary caps will destroy decades of English football growth if they are allowed to come in (Daily Mail
UPAMECANO SET FOR BAYERN
Bayern Munich are set to sign RB Leipzig defender Dayot Upamecano, according to their sporting director Hasan Salihamidzic.
Asked by German publication BILD if he could confirm an agreement had been reached between the clubs, he said: “I can, and we are very happy about that at FC Bayern”.
The German champions appear to have beaten both Liverpool and Chelsea to sign Upamecano – one of the most sought-after defenders in the game.
Bayern chief-executive Karl-Heinz Rummenigge previously told Sky Germany that both Premier League clubs were trying to sign him.
Salihamidzic added on Friday: “We had very good, intensive and professional discussions with Dayot and his agent Volker Struth over many months. We knew that we had very strong competition.”
COSTA NEARS PALMEIRAS SWITCH
Diego Costa is closing in on a return to Brazil to play for Palmeiras.
The 32-year-old, who was released by Atletico Madrid in January, is in negotiations with the biggest club in his hometown of Sao Paulo.
Palmeiras have offered him a two-year deal worth around £2.6m per year after tax.
The player is currently in Brazil.
Costa had been in talks with clubs in Turkey, Qatar and Saudi Arabia since leaving Atletico.
Saudi Arabian side Al-Shabab came closest to meeting his requests, but no club was able to agree terms.
He had also been offered to clubs in the Premier League, with one top-six team offering him a deal until the end of the season, which was turned down.
ANGELINO TO BECOME LEIPZIG PLAYER TONIGHT?
Angelino is one appearance away from triggering his £16m move away from Manchester City to RB Leipzig, report the Daily Mail.
The 24-year-old joined the Bundesliga club on loan for the season, with an obligation to purchase clause inserted based on games played.
Angelino had to feature in 12 matches throughout the term, with five of them coming in the second half of the German campaign.
The left-back will reach that mark if selected in Julian Nagelsmann’s side for Friday’s league game against Augsburg before next week’s Champions League date with Liverpool.
MAN UTD ‘YET TO DECIDE ON CAVANI EXTENSION’
Manchester United are reportedly yet to trigger their option of a one-year extension to the contract of Edinson Cavani, in spite of his impressive performances since joining from Paris Saint-Germain.
The Uruguay international has scored six goals across just seven Premier League starts, and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer would like him to stay.
Despite that, according to the Manchester Evening News there has not yet been a decision over the future of the 33-year-old.
‘CELTIC SHOULD ACCEPT £15m FOR EDOUARD’
Celtic would do well to sell Odsonne Edouard for £15m in the summer as part of a major squad overhaul, according to Scottish football expert Andy Walker.
The Scottish champions are 18 points behind leaders Rangers albeit with a game in hand, and many supporters are resigned to relinquishing their crown to their fierce rivals.
Neil Lennon has not yet abandoned hope of a 10th straight domestic title, but Walker believes the club should be already planning for next season, and a “new chapter” that may not see Edouard as part of the rebuilding job that is required at Celtic Park.
Walker told the Scottish Football Podcast: “Odsonne Edouard realises that he’s got ability and is worth a lot of money. How much? I’m not sure, as he’s not been firing on all cylinders.
“Let’s say they paid £9m for him but any player who switches off – I think that’s alarming for any potential suitor. I know that it’s your job as the manager and the coaching staff to keep players on board but Edouard, Ntcham and a few others didn’t get the moves that they were expecting last summer.
“Neil Lennon highlighted as much after the defeat to Ferencvaros. He wanted players to just leave, but that was just one of the problems that Celtic had at the start of the season. Edouard didn’t appear totally committed, and I think now he realises it’s not so long until the summer transfer window.
“He’ll get his move now, so how much money will Celtic get for him? It all depends on how much they’re willing to accept, but if they got anything around £15m now I think you’re absolutely doing business.”
KOEMAN REFUSES TO BE SIDETRACKED BY NEYMAR
Barcelona face Paris Saint-Germain in the first leg of their last 16 tie at Camp Nou on Tuesday but Ronald Koeman is focused on Alaves amid continued reports of Neymar returning to the Nou Camp.
The Brazilian is set to miss the first leg and is a doubt for the second leg after getting injured in midweek against Caen.
However Koeman was unmoved when asked about the former Barca forward, saying: “I don’t think Neymar’s an Alaves player… so that’s a question for Monday.”
He continued: “Saturday’s game is bigger than Tuesday because we’re taking it game by game. We want to keep our run going in La Liga. And that, in turn, will be important going into Tuesday’s game.”
Asked one more time about it, he said “I won’t speak about Neymar or PSG.”
CAMPBELL COY ON MOTHERWELL FUTURE
Motherwell midfielder Allan Campbell insists he is looking no further into his future than the Lanarkshire derby against Hamilton on Saturday.
The 22-year-old is out of contract in the summer and boss Graham Alexander revealed earlier in the month that the club had rejected major offers for the former Well youth player, who had reportedly attracted the interest of English Championship side Millwall.
However, Campbell is focused on the visit to Fir Park of local rivals Accies. He said about his contract situation: “I am not really bothering about that just now.
“My focus is just playing football. I just love playing football and I am enjoying my football and I am just looking forward to the weekend and hopefully keep putting performances in and keep getting wins.
“There is no point in thinking about what’s going to happen, you have to just focus on the here and now. I have always been like that, always just focused on the next game and make sure I give my all for the team and get results for this club.”
JOSE: BALE INSTA POST ‘CONTRADICTED REALITY’
Tottenham head coach Jose Mourinho says Gareth Bale‘s social media post on Wednesday was a contradiction of reality, after the Wales forward was left out for the defeat to Everton in midweek despite saying he had a “good session” in training.
Mourinho admitted after the 5-4 defeat to Everton on Wednesday that he was surprised by Bale’s injury issue, saying he did not think it was an “obvious, clear injury”.
The Spurs boss suggested Bale himself may not have been responsible for the post which was “totally wrong” and said he will be in contention to feature against Manchester City on Saturday, live on Sky Sports Premier League, if he comes through Friday’s training session unscathed.
WHY PLAYERS FROM ENGLAND STRUGGLE IN SPFL
Former St Johnstone defender Michael Duberry talks about the quality of Scottish Football and why some players from England have struggled to adapt to life in the Premiership.
DIGNE SET FOR NEW EVERTON DEAL
Carlo Ancelotti has confirmed that Lucas Digne has agreed a new contract at Everton.
The player will sign officially and club are set to announce next week. Digne is half-way through a five-year deal he signed when he joined in 2018.
The left-back has become one of Carlo Ancelotti’s main-stays since arriving from Barcelona.
LAFFERTY COMPLETES KILLIE SWITCH
Kyle Lafferty has signed for Kilmarnock on a deal until the end of the season, subject to international clearance.
The Norther Ireland international is a well-known and experienced figure in the Scottish game following two spells with Rangers as well as a successful spell with Hearts.
The 33-year-old arrives in Ayrshire following a spell in Italy with Reggina and becomes Tommy Wright’s first signing as manager.
Lafferty made his name with Burnley before making the move to Rangers in 2008, winning six trophies while at Ibrox.
Swiss side Sion prised him away from Glasgow before the striker helped Palermo to promotion to Serie A. After leaving Italy, Kyle moved to Norwich City with loan spells in Turkey and Birmingham City before his return to Scotland with Hearts in 2017.
Via SKY NEWS