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Nigeria defeat Argentina in Russian friendly

Naija Social, Sports News 15th November 2017

Nigeria stun Argentina 4-2

  • Ever Banega scored the opener for Argentina after 27 minutes on Tuesday
  • Manchester City’s Sergio Aguero doubled Argentina’s lead shortly afterwards
  • Nigeria came back into the game when Kelechi Iheanacho and Alex Iwobi struck
  • Nigeria took the lead in Russia when Brian Idowu scored two minutes later
  • Iwobi doubled his tally for the evening when he struck with 17 minutes to go

The Super Eagles came back from two goals down to overcome a Messi-less Argentina 4-2 in Russia.

With Daniel Akpeyi in goal, Nigeria which started the game with frayed nerves fell behind in the 27 minute after the keeper’s blunder handed the Argentines a free kick, which Ever Banega converted. Manchester city’s forward, Kun Aguero, increased the tally to 2-0 in the 37th minute.

 

Arsenal forward Alex Iwobi scored twice as Nigeria comfortably overcame the challenge of Argentina in a friendly on Tuesday.

Argentina were two goals up through Ever Banega and Sergio Aguero when the Super Eagles started their comeback.
Kelechi Iheanacho pulled one back before Iwobi levelled the game seven minutes into the second half.

Brian Idowu scored two minutes later to put the Super Eagles into the lead and Iwobi sealed the win 17 minutes before the end.

 

Health scare for Aguero

There was concern for Aguero when he collapsed during Argentina’s defeat by Nigeria in Russia on Tuesday.
Aguero is said to have fainted at half time before he was replaced by substitute Dario Benedetto.
Manchester City, who play Leicester on Saturday, are awaiting medical reports before the striker returns home.

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Balotelli blasted by boss Lucien Favre after Nice’s Champions League exit

Sports News 23rd August 2017

Mario Balotelli blasted by boss Lucien Favre after Nice’s Champions League exit: ‘I should’ve taken him off sooner… he didn’t run or give enough’

  • Jose Callejon put Napoli 1-0 ahead against Nice with a close-range finish
  • Callejon’s goal came while Mario Balotelli was arguing with match officials
  • The row appeared to centre around a white bandage on the Italian’s wrist
  • Nice boss Lucien Favre has blasted the Nice striker for not ‘giving enough’

Nice manager Lucien Favre has sensationally blasted Mario Balotelli for not ‘giving enough’ against Napoli after the Italian striker was jeered by his own supporters.

Napoli cruised into the Champions League group stage with a 2-0 win away to Nice on Tuesday, scoring their first goal as Balotelli was arguing with match officials on the touchline.

Balotelli, who missed the first leg through injury, was sluggish, off the pace and never threatened the Napoli goal and the maverick Italian was eventually substituted during the second half to jeers from the home fans.

Mario Balotelli wasn't the flavour of the month among Nice fans against Napoli on Tuesday

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Mesut Ozil and fiancee Amine Gulse enjoy lunch date as they are spotted leaving kebab house in his luxury Mercedes in London

Sports News 23rd August 2017

Mesut Ozil and fiancee Amine Gulse enjoy lunch date as Arsenal star and former Miss Turkey are spotted leaving kebab house in his luxury Mercedes

  • Mesut Ozil and his fiancee Amine Gulse visited a kebab house on Wednesday
  • Arsenal playmaker Ozil drove to the traditional Turkish eatery in his Mercedes
  • Ozil and Gulse are both of Turkish descent but were born in other countries
  • Footballer Ozil was born in Germany and former Miss Turkey Gulse in Sweden

Mesut Ozil took a break from Arsenal training on Wednesday to enjoy a lunch date with his fiancee Amine Gulse.

Arsenal star Ozil, 28, and former beauty pageant winner Gulse, who was crowned Miss Turkey in 2014, went to a London kebab house.

Ozil, German-born but of Turkish descent, and 24-year-old Gulse arrived in the midfielder’s left-hand drive Mercedes.

Mesut Ozil and his fiancee Amine Gulse had lunch at a Turkish kebab house on Wednesday

Arsenal star Ozil drove himself and Gulse to the London restaurant in his luxury Mercedes

Ozil, 28, and girlfriend Gulse, who has named Miss Turkey in 2014, left the eatery around 2pm

Twenty-four-year-old Gulse wore white jeans and a black top, which showed off her shoulders

Ozil, who also has a Lamborghini in his luxury car collection, was on driving duty.

The couple attracted glances from members of the public as they left the traditional Turkish restaurant.

They also enjoyed a holiday together earlier this summer, which they each documented on Instagram.

Swedish-born Turk Gulse has over 919,000 Instagram followers, while Ozil has 13.5million fans on the photo-sharing site.

Ozil will be back in action for Arsenal this Saturday when Arsene Wenger’s side visit Stoke City’s bet365 Stadium, where they won 4-1 last season.

Despite their spectacular success there last term, Arsenal have famously struggled at Stoke in recent years.

Prior to their last trip, Arsenal failed to win in six away matches against the Potters.

Arsenal and Germany star Ozil and actress/model Gulse spent the summer on holiday together

They each documented their summer break on Instagram, where Ozil has 13.5million followers

Gulse, who was born in Sweden, has over 919,000 followers on the photo-sharing network

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Anthony Joshua: The last thing you see before being punched by a champion

Sports News 23rd August 2017

The last thing you see before being punched by a champion 

• Anthony Joshua now holds the WBA, IBF, and IBO World Heavyweight titles
• Joshua beat Vladimir Klitschko in May to extend his undefeated run to 19-0
• A video of the Brit on Instagram shows what receiving a Joshua punch looks like
• The former Olympic champion has hinted at a rematch with Klitschko
• He said ‘the ball is in his court’ but his career goes on should Klitschko reject him
Ever imagined what it’s like to be punched by Anthony Joshua, or had nightmares about facing the 6 ft 6 in boxing machine? Your terrors have just been made into reality after a video of Joshua training has emerged on Instagram.

Published on Nike trainer Jamie Reynolds’ Instagram account, the current WBA, IBF and IBO World Heavyweight champion is seen punching in a gym, using cables as a form of resistance.

The video shows that what you will see thundering towards your face is a huge fist, and an angry Anthony Joshua. The post is accompanied by the tag: ‘Victims eye view. #goodnight’

Again, and again, and again, Joshua fires his right fist forward. A terrifying sight, and it’s no wonder he holds a 19-0 undefeated run, having recently added 41-year-old Vladamir ‘Dr Steelhammer’ Klitschko to his list of boxing scalps in May.

The pair endured one of the most thrilling heavyweight bouts in recent times, with Joshua coming out on top in the 11th round and increasing his record to 19-0.

But Klitschko, who was recovering from his recent world title defeat by the controversial Irishman Tyson Fury, became the first to knock Joshua down in a professional fight, and has since hung up his gloves for good.

The former Olympic champion dealt Klitschko a crushing blow in their 11 round epic, and has opened the door again to the Ukranian with the opportunity for a rematch in November

Following the Brit’s triumphant victory over the Ukranian, Joshua sits at the top of the boxing tree, with many coming forward to challenge him.

Plan A for Joshua, is a rematch with Klitschko in November, who is now officially a former boxer following his retirement, but it’s a rematch so many would pay to see.

‘The ball is in Klitschko’s court,’ said Joshua in July. ‘I am going to continue my career. It is up to him whether he wants to have a rematch or whether he says,’you know what, that’s enough’.

‘But I think, whatever he decides to do, we all respect him.’

But what is plan B?

‘Plan B would be look at the option with (Kubrat) Pulev, and where we would fight him and the options available for the Pulev fight.

‘So either it will be Klitschko, which would be great, or Pulev, which would be great. I am not bothered either way.’

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Wayne Rooney announces retirement from England duty after 119 caps

Sports News 23rd August 2017

Wayne Rooney announces retirement from England duty after 119 caps and becoming all-time record goalscorer: ‘I believe now is the time to bow out’

  • Wayne Rooney became England’s all-time record goalscorer with 53 goals
  • He has announced international retirement to concentrate on Everton career
  • Rooney said Gareth Southgate wanted to recall him to the Three Lions squad
  • The 31-year-old won 119 caps  – the last of which came in November last year

Wayne Rooney has called time on his England career after a glittering 14-year spell with the national team which saw him become their all-time record goalscorer.

In a statement released by the Everton striker, the former Manchester United star has confirmed he no longer wants to be considered for international duty.

No outfield player has won more Three Lions caps than the 31-year-old, who netted a record 53 goals across 119 appearances for his country.

Wayne Rooney has called time on his England career by announcing international retirement

Rooney pictured on his debut against Australia in 2003 Rooney's last Three Lions appearance came against Scotland in November 2016

In the forward’s statement he says Gareth Southgate wanted to recall him to the squad for the forthcoming games against Malta and Slovakia.

But the forward respectively declined — instead informing the England boss he wants to concentrate on playing for Everton.

‘It was great that Gareth Southgate called me this week to tell me he wanted me back in the England squad for the upcoming matches. I really appreciated that,’ he said in his statement.

‘However, having already thought long and hard, I told Gareth that I had now decided to retire for good from international football.

‘It is a really tough decision and one I have discussed with my family, my manager at Everton and those closest to me.

‘Playing for England has always been special to me. Every time I was selected as a player or captain was a real privilege and I thank everyone who helped me.

‘But I believe now is the time to bow out.

‘Leaving Manchester United was a tough call but I know I made the right decision in coming home to Everton. Now I want to focus all my energies on helping them be successful.

‘I will always remain a passionate England fan.

‘One of my very few regrets is not to have been part of a successful England tournament side.

‘Hopefully the exciting players Gareth is bringing through can take that ambition further and I hope everyone will get behind the team.

Rooney informed Three Lions boss Southgate he wants to concentrate on playing for Everton

WAYNE ROONEY’S ENGLAND CAREER IN NUMBERS 

119 – Appearances for England, the most by an outfield player and only six shy of goalkeeper Peter Shilton’s all-time record.

71 – England wins in which Rooney appeared, with 29 draws and 19 defeats.

53 – Rooney’s England-record goal haul.

7 – Only seven of his goals have come at the final stages of international tournaments, four of them as an 18-year-old at Euro 2004.

1 – He has scored only once at a World Cup, against Uruguay in 2014.

6 – Rooney has played in six major tournaments, with England missing Euro 2008.

22 – He has led England out as captain 22 times, as well as seven other occasions when he has worn the armband for part of a game.

17 – Rooney made his international debut as a substitute in a friendly against Australia in February 2003 aged 17 years and 111 days – an England record at the time, since surpassed by Theo Walcott.

45 – Sir Bobby Charlton held the England scoring record for 45 years before Rooney reached his half-century in 2015.

6 – Rooney played under half a dozen England managers – Sven-Goran Eriksson, Steve McClaren, Fabio Capello, Roy Hodgson, Sam Allardyce and Gareth Southgate.

12 & 2 – Having been famously sent off against Portugal in the 2006 World Cup and again in a Euro 2012 qualifier in Montenegro, Rooney also has 12 yellow cards in his international career.

‘One day the dream will come true and I look forward to being there as a fan – or in any capacity.’

It is 14 and a half years since the wide-eyed 17-year-old striker burst onto the scene for England, making his debut in a friendly against Australia at Upton Park in February 2003.

Rooney’s first international goal followed against Macedonia that September and the following summer his outstanding performances led to a place in the Euro 2004 team of the tournament.

The forward was unable to match those individual displays at a major competition, despite going onto play in three World Cups and two further European Championships.

The 31-year-old – just as he would later do with Manchester United – usurped Sir Bobby Charlton as England’s all-time top scorer with his penalty against Switzerland in September 2015.

Rooney replaced David Beckham as the country’s most capped outfield player the following September in Slovakia – ahead of which he announced his intention to retire after the 2018 World Cup.

That decision looked to be taken out of Rooney’s hands when England manager Southgate dropped his captain in his first matches as permanent manager in March.

Rooney has, though, left an indelible mark on the national game.

But leaving United for Everton has led to an immediate upturn in form and fortunes, making Southgate ready to recall the long-serving forward for the upcoming World Cup qualifiers against Malta and Slovakia.

Yet despite being within touching distance of Peter Shilton’s record 125-cap haul for England, Rooney has decided to walk away with what already is a remarkable record.

ROONEY’S STATEMENT IN FULL

‘It was great that Gareth Southgate called me this week to tell me he wanted me back in the England squad for the upcoming matches. I really appreciated that.

‘However, having already thought long and hard, I told Gareth that I had now decided to retire for good from international football.

‘It is a really tough decision and one I have discussed with my family, my manager at Everton and those closest to me.

‘Playing for England has always been special to me. Every time I was selected as a player or captain was a real privilege and I thank everyone who helped me.

‘But I believe now is the time to bow out.

‘Leaving Manchester United was a tough call but I know I made the right decision in coming home to Everton. Now I want to focus all my energies on helping them be successful.

‘I will always remain a passionate England fan.

‘One of my very few regrets is not to have been part of a successful England tournament side.

‘Hopefully the exciting players Gareth is bringing through can take that ambition further and I hope everyone will get behind the team.

‘One day the dream will come true and I look forward to being there as a fan – or in any capacity.’

Captaining his country to a 3-0 World Cup qualifying win over old foes Scotland last November proved his final appearance.

The subject of Rooney’s retirement is sure to dominate the agenda when Southgate announces his squad for the upcoming matches at St George’s Park on Thursday.

And Rooney’s retirement from international football marks the end of an era, according to Football Association chairman Greg Clarke.

On a day when the former Manchester United captain announced he would not play for England any more, Clarke said: ‘Today marks the end of an era in international football.

‘Wayne Rooney is an icon of his generation and an undoubted legend of the game.

It's been a busy year for Rooney with the striker leaving United for Everton during the summer

Rooney enjoys the moment after scoring his 200th Premier League goal on Monday

Rooney will only ever have scored once in a World Cup - against Uruguay in 2014

‘As his country’s all-time leading goalscorer and most-capped outfield player, it goes without saying that Wayne has deservedly earned the right to forever be called a Three Lions great.

‘I know it was always a huge honour for Wayne to pull on the England shirt and led his country as captain with great pride.

‘It’s with sadness that we see Wayne call time on his international career but we respect his decision and expect to see him continue to contribute to Everton and the rest of the football world for many years to come.

‘From street footballer to England captain, Wayne continues to be an inspiration for all.’

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Cold war between Barcelona board and dressing room intensifies

Sports News 23rd August 2017

Cold war between Barcelona board and dressing room intensifies as Lionel Messi posts picture with Neymar after club confirm intentions to sue PSG star

  • Lionel Messi has heightened troubles at Barcelona after posing with Neymar
  • The Argentine posted pictures of him with the Brazilian on his official Instagram
  • Barcelona announced on Tuesday they would be taking the 25-year-old to court
  • They want to sue him for failure to honour contract renewal he signed last year

The cold war between the Barcelona board and the Barca dressing room intensified on Tuesday night when Lionel Messi published pictures of himself with Neymar on social media, just hours after the club confirmed they were suing the Brazilian forward.

‘He’s back’ read Messi’s message below a photograph taken at the birthday celebration of Neymar’s son Davi Lucca in Catalonia on Tuesday.

The message was a joke at Gerard Pique’s expense, made in reference to Pique’s famous ‘he stays’ tweet. But the Instagram post was also aimed at the Barcelona board who just hours earlier had confirmed they were taking Neymar to court following his record-breaking move to Paris-Saint Germain.

Lionel Messi posted pictures with Neymar after Barcelona said they were taking legal action
Lionel Messi posted pictures with Neymar after Barcelona said they were taking legal action

Messi posted a picture of him with his arms around Neymar with the caption 'he's back'

The club issued a statement on Tuesday confirming they had filed a demand for damages against Neymar for failure to honour the contract renewal he signed last year.

Barcelona made the claim at a Barcelona labour court on August 11, and sent confirmation of it to the Spanish Football Federation on Tuesday requesting they pass it on to the French Football Federation and FIFA.

The club statement read: ‘The club demands the player pay back a renewal bonus for a failure to honour his contract; 8.5 million euros in damages; and an additional 10 per cent in arrears.’

The French side responded in kind with their own statement, which read: ‘Paris Saint-Germain was surprised to learn of the press release issued today by FC Barcelona announcing the introduction of legal proceedings in Spain against its former player Neymar Jr and stating that Default of payment by Neymar Jr of the sums so demanded by his former club, the Paris Saint-Germain should assume jointly the burden of it.

‘The Club recalls that, like Neymar Jr., it strictly respected all applicable laws and rules and can only regret, once again, the attitude of FC Barcelona.’

Anyone wondering what side Neymar’s old team-mates might be on in the ongoing post-PSG transfer legal battle did not have to wait too long as the photos of Neymar and his former team-mates, joined by Dani Alves who is also in Catalonia with Neymar, began to appear.

Neymar also published a photograph of himself with Pique and the message ‘He stays,’ which was commented on by former Barcelona transfer target Marco Veratti.

Neymar also posted on his official Instagram account a picture of the Barcelona reunion, posing with (left-to-right) Hamburg defender Douglas Santos, Luis Suarez, Lionel Messi, Gerard Pique, PSG team-mate Dani Alves and Ivan Rakitic

Neymar also produced a tongue-in-cheek caption for the picture of him and Gerard Pique, writing 'he stays' with a laughing emoji, made in reference to Pique's famous 'he stays' tweet

And Pique appeared in a group shot posted by Neymar that included Messi, Luis Suarez, Ivan Rakitic, Alves and the Brazilian defender Douglas.

The backdrop to the Neymar controversy is Messi’s unsigned contract and fears he could follow the Brazilian out of the club as a free agent at the end of this season.

Barcelona announced that Messi had agreed a new deal worth a weekly wage of £500,000 and with a buy-out clause of £264m last July. But it is still unsigned.

The board have contradicted themselves with Josep Bartomeu claiming it was signed late June and his colleague Jordi Mestre saying he would be very surprised if Messi did not ‘end up signing it’.

Messi's unsigned contract has worried Barcelona that he could follow Neymar out the door

There is an ongoing campaign to oust the president and his fellow directors and Messi signing now would be a stamp of approval for them.

Messi wants to see how the summer finishes up and which players the board are able to bring to the club. If he is not happy then he will leave the contract extension to 2021 unsigned and wait to review his options in 2018 when he will be free to walk away or to sign a new deal under a new president.

The dressing room are understood to be upset by the failure of the current board to plan for Neymar’s departure.

With barely a week left of the transfer window they are still struggling to build a competitive side for this season and the team are still recovering from losing the Spanish Super Cup 5-1 to Real Madrid on aggregate.

Pique said after that defeat: ‘For the first time since I became a Barca player I feel we are inferior to Madrid.’

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Arsene Wenger won’t give up on Jack Wilshere…

Sports News 23rd August 2017

Arsene Wenger won’t give up on Jack Wilshere… the Arsenal boss still clings on to hope that he can be the greatest English midfielder of a generation

  • Jack Wilshere was sent off for Arsenal Under 23s against Manchester City U23s
  • The 25-year-old has one year left on his contract at the Emirates Stadium
  • Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger had always earmarked to become club captain
  • However, Wilshere is now the club’s fifth-choice central midfielder
  • CHRIS SUTTON: Red card low may just be what Wilshere needs

There’s a reason Arsene Wenger is agonising over whether to let Jack Wilshere leave Arsenal. It should be a no brainer.

One year left on his contract, seemingly down the central midfield pecking order and an injury record that would strike fear into any medical department.

Surely, the logical answer is to let him go? Yet, Wenger can’t bring himself to do it.

Jack Wilshere is at a crossroads with his Arsenal career with just one year left on his contract

Jack Wilshere is at a crossroads with his Arsenal career with just one year left on his contract

The midfielder is determined to force his way back into the first-team despite his low standing

The midfielder is determined to force his way back into the first-team despite his low standing

But he didn't do himself any favours after being sent off in an Under-23 match on Monday night

The silence was deafening during the summer. The communication between Wilshere and Arsenal, up until recently, was non-existent.

The writing was on the wall: Wilshere’s Arsenal career was over.

Indeed, that was the plan at the start of the summer; to sever ties with their prodigal son.

Arsenal have received bids; there was a £6.5million offer from Sampdoria and countless loan enquiries from Premier League sides.

But eight days to go until the end of the transfer window and Wilshere remains at the club’s London Colney HQ.

And ItemsgaloreBlog can reveal the lines of communication between Wenger and Wilshere have reopened; the pair holding recent heart-to-heart talks.

The upshot of those discussions is that Wenger wants Wilshere to stay at the Emirates and fight for his place.

Like a childhood sweetheart, Wenger is finding it hard to let go.

Wenger remembers that performance against Barcelona in the Champions League over six years ago.

He knows what he is capable of. Wilshere was supposed to be the greatest English midfielder of a generation; Wenger is clinging on to hope that he can be.

Arsenal were taken aback last season at the level of interest from Europe’s top clubs as news broke about the club making him available for loan.

Roma and AC Milan were among the clubs who tried to sign Wilshere; David Beckham even intervened in a bid to persuade the midfielder to move to the San Siro.

In the end, Wilshere couldn’t bare being away from his two children from a previous relationship and opted for a move to Bournemouth.

The Frenchman always planned to make Wilshere club captain. From the academy, to the first-team to the captaincy; just like Tony Adams.

Today, that honour seems a million miles away. But maybe, just maybe, his days at Arsenal aren’t numbered just yet.

With one year left on his current contract, this remains a make-or-break season for Wilshere.

Can he earn the level of contract he wants at Arsenal? Can he play enough games to have his pick of clubs to join on a free transfer next summer?

What’s for sure, he is fit and up for the challenge.

He’s recovered from the broken leg that ruled him out of the closing weeks of last season, during his loan spell at Bournemouth.

Arsenal’s decision to pack Wilshere off to Dubai on a warm weather rehabilitation training break provided the midfielder with a solid foundation ahead of pre-season.

Wilshere's time at Bournemouth was curtailed in Apirl though when he suffered a broken leg

Wilshere’s time at Bournemouth was curtailed in Apirl though when he suffered a broken leg

Wilshere is now back in full training; everyday a new opportunity to impress his manager.

He knows his chances are likely to be limited. Granit Xhaka and Aaron Ramsey have made the two central midfield slots their own.

Francis Coquelin and Mohamed Elneny are also ahead of Wilshere in the pecking order.

But Wilshere is backing himself. Privately, he believes he can earn his place back.

The plan is to slowly ease Wilshere back into life at Arsenal; utilising him in the club’s Europa League campaign as well as the EFL Cup to give him some game time.

The rest is up to Wilshere.

Monday night’s sending off for retaliating against Manchester City youngster Matthew Smith in an Under-23 clash, perhaps, wasn’t the best way to impress Wenger.

Nor was the subsequent scrap with Tyreke Wilson, who was also red carded, in the Emirates tunnel.

But the counter-argument to the criticism of Monday’s sending off is that at least it shows the fire is still burning.

Wilshere has not made a senior appearance for the Gunners since August 27, 2016

There’s fight left in Wilshere; the sort of fight Arsenal are sorely lacking.

You’d hope the controversies that have plagued Wilshere’s career are finally behind him.

Likewise, hopefully he’s finally over the ankle problems that have cruelly blighted his career, the fact he played 27 games for Bournemouth last season a positive indicator that he might be.

The accusation that Wilshere suffers from brittle ankles is a misconception.

Wilshere’s maturing; his marriage to long-term girlfriend Andriani Michael should add further stability to his life.

It was a glitzy affair in Tuscany, attended by Arsenal players and staff, past and present – Danny Welbeck and Wojciech Szczesny among the guests.

But the best thing for Wilshere now is to leave the glitz and glamour behind.

Concentrate on your first love. Football.

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Barcelona to make fourth Philippe Coutinho bid worth £138m

Sports News 23rd August 2017

Barcelona to make fourth Philippe Coutinho bid worth £138m: Spanish giants test Liverpool’s resolve again with player not giving up hope of move

  • Barcelona have tabled a fourth offer for Philippe Coutinho worth a total £138m
  • Liverpool would receive £101m up front for Coutinho with £37m in add-ons
  • Sportsmail believes Coutinho is yet to give up hope of joining Barcelona
  • READ: Klopp insists everything is ‘100 per cent cool’ on Coutinho saga

The Spanish giants will table the offer, worth £101m up front to Liverpool with an extra £37m in bonuses for the 25-year-old, on Wednesday.

The add-ons are understood to be linked to Champions League appearances and are easily achievable if he were to move to the Nou Camp.

Barcelona have returned with a fourth bid for Liverpool's Philippe Coutinho worth £138m
 Barcelona have returned with a fourth bid for Liverpool’s Philippe Coutinho worth £138m
Coutinho still hopes to seal a Liverpool departure and complete a move to Barcelona

Coutinho still hopes to seal a Liverpool departure and complete a move to Barcelona

Coutinho has submitted a transfer request but Liverpool have so far refused to budge, rejecting a third bid of £114m five days ago.

Sportsmail understands the Brazilian is yet to give up hope of sealing a dream move to Spain, despite Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp insisting on Tuesday that he is ready for Coutinho to return to the squad once he recovers from a back injury.

Speaking ahead of Liverpool’s Champions League play-off second-leg against Hoffenheim at Anfield, Klopp rejected suggestions that his relationship with Coutinho had deteriorated.

‘You asked is everything OK between us? I answered with of course. Yes, 100 per cent,’ said Klopp. ‘Phil is a bit sick so the last few days he was not even at Melwood.

‘Emre Can also struggled a little with this, just a cold. He was back training today but Phil was not back because the risk of spreading was too big.’

Liverpool have rejected three bids from Barcelona already, with offers rising from £72m to £90m before rising well over the £100m last week,

Coutinho emailed his transfer request on August 11, hours after owners Fenway Sports Group released a statement to say the ‘definitive stance’ is that the playmaker will still be a Liverpool player when the transfer window closes on August 31.

Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp said his relationship with Coutinho '100 per cent' on Tuesday

Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp said his relationship with Coutinho ‘100 per cent’ on Tuesday

There is no suggestion that FSG and Liverpool’s position has changed but Barcelona are still to be deterred in their pursuit of the 25-year-old.

But the new Barcelona offer provides Liverpool with an unwelcome distraction ahead of their second-leg Champions League qualifier with Hoffenheim on Wednesday.

Liverpool won the first leg 2-1 in Germany.

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Diego Maradona offers his retired Napoli No 10 shirt to Lorenzo Insigne during city ceremony…

Sports News 5th July 2017

Diego Maradona offers his retired Napoli No 10 shirt to Lorenzo Insigne during city ceremony… before getting topless on the roof of a car as scenes escalate into chaos

  • Diego Maradona stole the show during a Napoli ceremony in which he got lairy
  • The former striker was receiving an honorary citizenship of the city
  • Napoli retired their No 10 shirt in honour of legend Diego Maradona in 2000
  • Maradona joked over conditions for giving shirt to current star Lorenzo Insigne
  • Insigne must score more goals than Maradona – 115 at Napoli – to earn the No 10

Diego Maradona offered up his retired No 10 shirt at Napoli to Lorenzo Insigne – during a city ceremony which soon descended into chaos with the former striker sitting partially topless on the roof of a car.

Maradona was back in Naples to receive honorary citizenship of the city and looked a little worse for wear when instructed to cut a cake at the prestigious bash.

Clutching a drink in one hand Maradona made a unconvincing stab at dicing up the cake before scenes rapidly escalated, resulting in the former World Cup winner sitting on top of a vehicle outside the ceremony while removing his shirt.

Diego Maradona was back in Naples to receive a honorary citizenship of the city this week

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CRAZY!!! Barcelona announce Lionel Messi will stay until 2021 with new £500,000-a-week deal and £264m buy-out clause

Sports News 5th July 2017

Lionel Messi has agreed a new deal with Barcelona until 2021 with an option of a further year

• Lionel Messi will sign new Barcelona deal when he returns from his honeymoon
• Barcelona announced the agreement on Messi’s extension on Wednesday
• Messi has agreed to a renewal after being linked with a Premier League switch

Barcelona have handed Lionel Messi a new contract, tying the Argentinian wizard to the club for four more years and pumping his weekly wage up to an eye-watering £500,000.
Messi had left Barca supporters nervously trying to read the signs coming out of his camp as his current deal was allowed to run down to June 2018.
But that wait is finally over with the player ready to tie his future to the club he joined as a 13-year-old. The new contract will run until 2021, with the option of an extra year.

Messi, who married Antonella Roccuzzo on Friday, will see his weekly wage hit £500,000

Messi, who married Antonella Roccuzzo on Friday, will see his weekly wage hit £500,000.

The deal will include a buy-out clause of around £264m – enough to put off any potential suitors.
The 30-year-old all-time club-record goalscorer has been linked to the Premier League with last year’s tax evasion case almost sending him into the arms of Manchester City but Barcelona have renewed vows with their greatest-ever player.
Messi got married to long-term partner Antonella Roccuzzo last Friday and he is still on honeymoon in the Caribbean but when he returns to training next week he will sign his new deal.
His new net salary will go up to £26.4m per season, putting him on over £500,000 per week.

A club statement read: ‘FC Barcelona and Leo Messi have agreed on a contract renewal that will keep the Argentinian at the club until June 30th, 2021.
‘The deal will be signed in the coming weeks, when Messi returns to the team for pre-season training.
‘The club is very happy with both the renewal and the commitment of Messi, the best player in history, who has played his full professional career at Barca and has led the team to an era of extraordinary success, the likes of which has never been seen in world football.’

Messi will be 34 in June 2022 when the deal ends if he takes up the extra year. That optional season will not be subject to him playing a certain amount of games the season before.
And the Argentine will be able to top up his earnings by around 20 per cent in total if he meets various targets such as winning La Liga, the Champions League and Ballon d’Or.
He will also receive a huge undisclosed signing-on fee, believed to be in excess of £23.2m.

Messi has been at Barcelona since he was 13, making his debut for the club back in 2004.

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