BUSINESS AND ECONOMY
Manchester City legend Sergio Aguero would consider joining Tottenham Hotspur when he leaves his current club at the end of the season.
With 181 Premier League goals in 272 games for Man City, Aguero has established himself as one of the best strikers in the English top-flight, and landing such a player will definitely boost Spurs’ chances of winning silverware and returning to Europe’s elite competition.
While the 32-year-old will be signed as a free agent, his wages could prove too much for a side like Tottenham.
Chairman Daniel Levy has been prudent with his side’s finances for a while, and he would have to break his policies in order to bring Aguero to North London.
With four Premier League titles and five League Cups to his name, the Man City legend is the type of serial winner Spurs need in their dressing room, and his experience and quality will very much come in handy.
Tottenham fans cannot believe that Aguero would be open to joining their club, and some of them have taken to Twitter to react thus:
While the Portuguese is not a huge fan of a two-striker system, things could change with two of the best finishers on the planet at his disposal.
It is too early to predict how things can go during the summer transfer window, but Aguero definitely will not be short of suitors, and Tottenham will strike gold should they land such a player.
The Spain international has been an excellent servant for the Red Devils for a decade, registering 153 clean sheets in 434 appearances.
However, his performances have been inconsistent over the past few years, and Dean Henderson is now regularly getting the nod over him in goal.
De Gea missed a few games last month due to personal reasons, and he could not reclaim his spot on his return as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer continued to stick with Henderson.
This has led to question marks regarding his future with his contract expiring in over two years, and The Mirror reports that the club are prepared to sell him.
The club are looking to offload his £350,000-a-week salary from their wage bill, but it won’t be straightforward as clubs may be reluctant to match his contract demands.
United have reportedly set a £50 million price tag, and it is claimed that they may have to offer him a big pay-off such that he will accept a pay-cut at his next club.
The report has produced a mixed response from some of the Red Devils’ faithful, and here are a few reactions on Twitter.
While De Gea remains highly valued by the club, he may not entertain the prospect of playing second fiddle to Henderson at the prime phase of his career.
He was linked with Paris Saint-Germain a couple of years ago, and it will be interesting to see whether Les Parisiens are interested in signing him this summer.
LONDON — The Champions League talking points ahead of the first-leg matches in the quarterfinals:
MANCHESTER CITY VS. BORUSSIA DORTMUND
While City could hardly be in better shape, Dortmund has been plunged back into uncertainty and self-doubt. City, the runaway Premier League leader, headed into April still on track for an unprecedented “quadruple” of major trophies this season and has won 26 of its last 27 games in all competitions. The Champions League will be the toughest title to claim and there will be much focus on the approach Pep Guardiola takes for the game, with the Spanish coach often accused of overthinking his tactics on the big occasions. Dortmund’s hopes of qualifying for next season’s Champions League were dealt a major blow by the 2-1 loss to Eintracht Frankfurt on Saturday, which left Edin Terzić’s team seven points behind fourth-place Frankfurt with seven rounds of the Bundesliga to go. Speculation over star striker Erling Haaland’s future has added to the concerns, with City among the many clubs reportedly interested in the Norway international. Dortmund failing to qualify for Europe’s premier competition would add to the likelihood of Haaland’s departure. He is the Champions League’s top scorer this season with 10 goals.
REAL MADRID VS. LIVERPOOL
It is a meeting between two of the aristocrats of European soccer — they have won the competition 19 times between them — and they come into the quarterfinals in good form. Madrid, a 13-time champion, is unbeaten in all competitions since Jan. 30 and is back in the title race in the Spanish league, not least because of the brilliant form of striker Karim Benzema. The Frenchman has scored nine goals in his last seven games, including against Atalanta in the Champions League’s last 16. Liverpool’s improvement has been more recent — and chiefly due to the return of Fabinho to central midfield after a spell filling in at center back as well as Diogo Jota after injury. The soon-to-be-deposed English champions have kept clean sheets in their last three games but there are still concerns about their defense, especially at center back where understudies Ozan Kabak and Nat Phillips are holding the fort. Real Madrid will remain without the injured Sergio Ramos, but there’s a chance Eden Hazard may return to the squad after another injury layoff.
BAYERN MUNICH VS. PARIS SAINT-GERMAIN
With a ninth consecutive Bundesliga title almost certain, Bayern Munich can turn its full attention to defending its Champions League crown. Bayern opened a seven-point gap in the Bundesliga with a win over closest rival Leipzig on Saturday and promptly set its sights on Wednesday’s visit from PSG. Parisian Kingsley Coman scored the only goal as Bayern beat the French team in last year’s final, and he may have to do it again with top striker Robert Lewandowski out with a knee injury. Leon Goretzka stepped up with the winner against Leipzig, with Thomas Müller and Joshua Kimmich both involved. All three have been outstanding this season and will be tasked with making up for Lewandowski’s absence. PSG will be without its two best midfielders. Marco Verratti has contracted the coronavirus for the third time and the tough-tackling Leandro Paredes is suspended for the first leg. Danilo Pereira and Idrissa Gueye could find themselves under a lot of pressure to stop Bayern from dictating the game, so PSG’s wide players will probably have to drop back and help out.
PORTO VS. CHELSEA
Porto is the most surprising team in the last eight after eliminating Cristiano Ronaldo and Juventus in the round of 16. The Portuguese club is trying to make it to the semifinals for the first time since winning the European trophy in 2004. It also was a quarterfinalist in 2019, being eliminated against eventual champion Liverpool. Chelsea has drastically improved since Thomas Tuchel replaced Frank Lampard as manager in January. It was unbeaten in 14 games under the German — including back-to-back wins over Atletico Madrid in the Champions League’s last 16 — until a stunning 5-2 loss to lowly West Bromwich Albion in the Premier League on Saturday. Chelsea had previously conceded only two goals in Tuchel’s tenure. Defensive midfielder N’Golo Kante is set to miss the game after sustaining a knee injury during the international break.
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Super Eagles’ Alex Iwobi has tested positive for COVID-19 following mandatory tests taken alongside other players and staff members.
It was gathered that Iwobi will consequently be missing the 2021 AFCON qualifiers match against the Squirrels of Benin Republic coming up at 5 pm Saturday.
The team had been subjected to coronavirus tests before leaving Nigeria and on arrival at Porto Novo Friday.
Wolverhampton Wanderers are interested in signing the Sevilla forward Lucas Ocampos at the end of the season.
The 26-year-old has been outstanding for the Spanish outfit since joining them in 2019 and Wolves are looking to strengthen their attack with the signing of the Argentine international.
Ocampos can play across the front three and he could prove to be a quality addition to the Wolves attack alongside Raul Jimenez and Pedro Neto. The 26-year-old has 7 goals and 4 assists to his name so far this season.
According to Football Insider, the player has three years left on his Sevilla contract and he has a release clause of £62 million.
Apparently, the Spanish club could sell him for much less because of the financial crisis due to the pandemic.
SL View: Upgrade on Adama Traore?
It will be interesting to see if Wolves are willing to pay big money to sign the Argentine international this summer.
The likes of Adama Traore have been quite underwhelming this season and Wolves should look to replace the Spaniard with Ocampos. Traore is an excellent dribbler but his decision making in the final third often lets him down. Ocampos on the other hand is much more efficient and he has more end product in his game.
The 26-year-old is at the peak of his powers right now and he has the quality to come in and make an immediate impact for the Molineux outfit next season.
The Chilean’s goal looked like being enough, but Los Nervionenses denied the White and Violets in a dramatic conclusion
Yassine Bounou was Sevilla’s hero as his last-gasp strike cancelled out Fabian Orellana’s goal in a thrilling 1-1 draw against Real Valladolid at Jose Zorrilla on Saturday.
Los Nervionenses had managed just three shots on target and trailed to the Chilean winger’s first-half penalty, but the Morocco international goalkeeper levelled matters with the last kick of the game.
With his effort, the 29-year-old has now scored his maiden goal for club and country. He also became the first goalkeeper ever to score for Sevilla in a Spanish topflight fixture.
Unbeaten in their last three matches in all competitions, Sergio Gonzalez’s men came into the encounter in dire need of a win against the title-chasing visitors.
Nonetheless, Sevilla – who came prepared probed a couple of times early on but red-hot Youssef En-Nesyri was caged from wreaking havoc.
Two minutes before the half-time break, hosts Valladolid were awarded a penalty after VAR confirmed that goal-bound Shon Weissman was fouled by Karim Rekik and Ivan Rakitic in the box.
Orellana stepped up to take the resultant kick by sending Bounou the wrong way to give his side a slim lead heading into the halftime break.
In dire need of an away victory, Sevilla made a couple of substitutions in the second-half, yet, they were unable to break down the dogged hosts.
Substitute Luuk de Jong came close to equalising for Julen Lopetegui’s side, albeit, his effort kissed the woodwork.
When it appeared like the visitors would return home empty-handed, Bounou came to the rescue. The Moroccan connected to Jules Kounde pass before firing a superb side-footed strike beyond Roberto Jimenez.
However, he was cautioned for taking off his shirt while he wheeled away in celebration as his teammates swamped around him to celebrate the equaliser.
Alongside Bounou, En-Nesyri was in action from start to finish for Sevilla, while their compatriot Munir El Haddadi was an unused substitute.
For Real Valladolid, Morocco’s Jawad El Yamiq was not listed for action due to fitness issues. With 55 points from 28 outings, Sevilla occupy the fourth spot in LaLiga log, while Valladolid are 16th with 27 points from the same number of games played so far.
The Red Devils are long-term admirers of the Serbian, and they were initially interested in him when Jose Mourinho was their manager.
He continues to be linked with the club, and it was recently claimed that the Red Devils have ‘a clear advantage‘ in signing the 23-year-old.
It is now reported that the centre-back is heading ‘towards’ United, and the club’s efforts to sign him are ‘getting stronger’.
Milenkovic has no plans of renewing his contract, which expires in June 2022, and La Viola are set to part ways with him this summer.
The Red Devils currently have Victor Lindelof and Harry Maguire as the preferred central defensive pairing, with Eric Bailly being the back-up option.
Bailly could be on the move this summer while there have been question marks over Lindelof’s performances in the past.
Solskjaer is eyeing a left-footed centre-back option alongside Maguire, and Villareal’s Pau Torres has been reported as a target.
However, Milenkovic could be a quality purchase with his strong aerial presence and willingness to clear his lines.
The Serbian is valued at €35 million by La Viola but could be prised away for less with his contract expiring in 15 months.
The Genk striker was initially put on the stand-by list before he was selected to replace Moses Simon in Rohr’s team on Wednesday
Former Nigeria forward Peter Ijeh has slammed Gernot Rohr for the late invitation of Paul Onuachu despite his fine goalscoring form in the Belgian First Division A this season.
The 26-year-old stands as the highest scoring Nigerian player in Europe this season after scoring 27 goals across all competitions for Genk.
Onuachu was called from the standby list on Wednesday to replace Nantes’ Moses Simon who has been barred from leaving France due to Covid-19 restrictions as Nigeria prepare to face Benin and Lesotho for their final Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers next week.
But Ijeh suggested the late consideration of the Genk star could affect his morale.
“The late invitation of Paul Onuachu first as a standby and now invited because another player opted out is so disheartening psychologically,” Ijeh wrote on his social media page.
“I wish he performs, but psychologically it is demoralising to be called up in the format with duress, pressure and not of value and consistency.
“If you watch the patterns written so far in the Super Eagles, it looks like the team is already decided without following the players’ club consistency.
“Though I respect all coaches and their philosophies. But you don’t run a national team with the same philosophy of a club.”
Onuachu has struggled to find the back of the net in Gernot Rohr’s team and has only scored a goal for the Super Eagles which came in his debut outing against Egypt in March 2019.
Ijeh wants better service for the 26-year-old to replicate his club’s goalscoring form at the national team.
“The question now is not if he can perform. The main question is if he can get supply,” the ex- Malmo and Copenhagen forward added.
“As it is today, in Europe today, he is no. 1 finisher with 27 goals. So it is the job of the technical crew to find that missing link or be regarded as incompetent.
“If he is a European, they would celebrate him every day and build around him to contest for European Player of the Year. But when Nigeria devalue such, I wonder where the next generation of players will be?”
The Europa League takes centre stage this evening with the round of 16 second leg ties featuring some intriguing fixtures.
We’ll update this story with reports, results and the latest Europa League highlights as the games are played.
Arsenal progressed to the quarter-finals despite being 1-0 at home by Olympiacos. The Gunners go through 3-2 on aggregate.
Granada and Roma have also moved into the last eight.
More to follow…
Thursday, March 18
Arsenal 0-1 Olympiacos (3-2)
Molde 2-1 Granada (2-3)
Dinamo Zagreb vs Tottenham Hostpur (0-2)
Shakhtar Donetsk 1-2 Roma (1-5)
AC Milan vs Manchester United (1-1)
Villarreal vs Dynamo Kiev (2-0)
Young Boys vs Ajax (0-3)
Rangers vs Slavia Prague (1-1)
Lionel Messi is set to equal Xavi Hernandez’s record of 767 appearances for Barcelona after he was named in the team to play against Huesca on Monday.
Messi was in the starting line-up for the match at Camp Nou where Barca will look to put further pressure on Atletico Madrid in La Liga’s title race.
Xavi spent 17 years at Barcelona before leaving in 2015 and is now the coach of Al-Sadd in Qatar.
Messi, meanwhile, has been an ever-present in the Barca team since 2004 and is expected to break Xavi’s record against Real Sociedad on Sunday.
“It could only be Leo”, Xavi told Mundo Deportivo on Monday.
“It is totally fair that the best player in history is the one who has defended Barca’s colours the most times.”
Bayern Munich starlet Jamal Musiala has revealed that his mother has to drive him to training while the 18-year-old works on getting his driving licence.
“So far I’ve been very happy that my mum has been so nice as to drive me to training,” Musiala told magazine Sport Bild.
“I’m currently working towards getting my driving licence and I’m really looking forward to driving myself soon.”
Last Friday, Musiala signed a five-year contract — his first as a professional — with the club world champions, which he described as a “childhood dream come true”.
Just a week after his 18th birthday, Musiala signed the deal which will reportedly earn him five million euros ($6 million) per year.
Bayern’s players each receive a car provided by the club’s sponsor.
Musiala says he has no idea which car he will be given, but he doesn’t mind “as long as it drives and has a good music system.”
The teenager has so far made 27 appearances for the Bundesliga leaders.
He scored his first Champions League goal in the 4-1 win over Lazio in the last 16, first leg. The return leg is in Munich next week.
Stuttgart-born Musiala came through Chelsea’s academy and played for England Under-21s last November but has opted to play senior football for Germany.
Germany coach Joachim Loew, who will step down after the European championships in July, reportedly plans to call up Musiala for World Cup qualifiers later this month.
The teenager says he wants to “win titles with Bayern and Germany”.
Musiala hopes Loew reverses his 2019 decision to permanently drop Thomas Mueller so the Bayern team-mates can play for Germany.
“I would be happy to play a European Championship with Thomas,” Musiala added.
Israel Adesanya suffered the first loss of his MMA career at UFC 259 last night, reports www.lowkickmma.com.
‘The Last Stylebender’ entered his light-heavyweight title bout with Jan Blachowicz on the back of 20 consecutive wins.
He was a considerable favourite to dethrone the 205lb champion and pick up his second UFC belt.
In the UFC 259 main event, things did not go Adesanya’s way. After three close and cagey rounds Blachowicz began to take over.
The Polish power-puncher used his bigger frame to wrestle the talented kickboxer in the final two rounds.
Ultimately it was enough for Blachowicz to retain his belt and take Adesanya’s 0.
Speaking at the post-fight press conference, Adesanya, disappointed but not disheartened, said: “Losses are part of life. Losses are something I deal with occasionally.
“Just this is my first one in MMA. As I say, it is what it is. If I was going to lose to anyone, what better guy to lose to than a guy like Jan?
“(He’s) a classy champion, a cool dude, a very nice guy – a guy who has a great story in himself.
“On his way to getting cut from the company, comes back and then dominates and becomes the light heavyweight champion and then hands this guy, a future legend, his first loss. Yeah, if I was going to lose to anyone, I’m glad I lost to him.”
‘Stylebender’ understood the risk he was taking by stepping up to light-heavyweight and insists he has no regrets despite losing.
“(I have) no regrets,” Adesanya said. “Like I said, I don’t know. I feel like the boxing model has made it a bad thing to lose. Yeah, it sucks losing. Don’t get me wrong. But it’s not like the end of the world. Like I said, I’ve lost before in the past. … Right now, me and my team, we’re just excited to get home and work on certain little details.”
Adesanya is of the opinion some minor changes to his UFC 259 gameplan would’ve seen him walk away the winner.
He’ll now return to New Zealand and focus on his comeback.
“Honestly, I could’ve won this fight,” Adesanya said. “… Tonight he played a better game plan, and he was the better fighter tonight. That’s it. He respected me, and I respected him, and we had a great showing of ourselves. I’m not heartbroken. I hate losing. Don’t get me wrong. But I’m not like, ‘Oh my god. F*ck, he really embarrassed me. Like, that was it.’ Nah, I felt like I had a great showing for myself.
“I represented my team very well. Now we go back to the drawing board. It’s kind of fun. Like, I look forward to like, this is the dip in my story. (Do) you know what I mean? This is the valley, if you will. Then, I’ll rise again like the phoenix that I am.”
Lionel Messi soared past Luis Suarez to become La Liga’s top scorer on Wednesday by adding his 17th and 18th goals of the season in a much-needed 3-0 victory for Barcelona over Elche.
Barca had followed up last week’s crushing Champions League loss to Paris Saint-Germain by drawing at home to Cadiz on Sunday but eased the strain with a comfortable win at the Camp Nou.
Messi’s double owed much to a pair of superb assists, with a supreme dribble by Frenkie de Jong coming after a sublime flick from Martin Braithwaite, who also set up Jordi Alba to score a third.
After failing to take full advantage of league leaders Atletico Madrid’s defeat by Levante on Saturday, this victory puts Barcelona back in third, five points off the top, having played a game more than Atletico.
“We cannot lose any more,” said Ronald Koeman. “The problem was we were not good enough at the start and we have to win all the games now if we want to do something in the league.”
Even if Atletico prove too far ahead to catch, a positive performance was important, especially with a semi-final second leg to come next week against Sevilla in the Copa del Rey, which may be their only chance of winning a trophy this term.
Messi’s return to top form comes as a huge boost too. The 33-year-old came off unfavourably in comparisons made with Kylian Mbappe last week but these kinds of performances show he is far from finished yet.
This was Messi’s fifth and sixth goal in his last four games while no player from the top five European leagues has scored more than his 13 this year in all competitions. Bayern Munich’s Robert Lewandowski is closest on 12.
“When we talk about old players, that’s not Leo,” said Koeman. “His quality and his game is still impressive. There are old players and then there are players that have to make the difference.
“He has shown again today that he is a very, very important player for this team.”
Francisco Trincao and Frenkie de Jong had early chances for Barcelona while Elche should have scored but Lucas Boye blazed over.
Yet a frantic opening gave way to a disjointed first half and Koeman reacted by bringing off the ineffective Miralem Pjanic at half-time and replacing him with Ousmane Dembele.
Barcelona scored within two minutes of the restart, Messi driving from midfield towards the area and rebounding off Braithwaite, whose sweeping flick behind his standing leg gave the scuttling Argentinian a simple finish.
Elche’s early threat had dissipated and Barca added two more in five minutes.
The first came from a breathtaking run from De Jong, who dribbled forward from the halfway line, past three Elche defenders, before cutting back for Messi. He glided past two more and prodded in.
Messi started the move for the third, with a familiar, curving pass to Braithwaite at the back post, whose cushioned header across found Alba unmarked in the middle.
Super Eagles striker, Victor Osimhen, who was rushed to hospital following a clash of heads with an Atalanta player during their Serie A game at the weekend, has been allowed to go home. The Napoli star is however still being observed by medics.
Osimhen spent the night in Bergamo after suffering a head injury in the dying minutes of the Partenopei’s 4-2 loss at the Gewiss Stadium on Sunday evening.
Concern arose as the Nigerian suffered what appeared to be a mystery injury, and was run off the pitch on a stretcher and transferred to hospital.
Osimhen didn’t travel back to Campania with his Napoli teammates on Sunday evening, instead of staying overnight in the hospital while awaiting test results.
Yesterday, though, he was cleared to leave the hospital and is free to head home.
Osimhen has had his fair share of injury problems already this season, and a positive case of COVID-19 as well.
The centre-forward was afforded his 10th league appearance in the encounter since teaming up with the club last summer.
Osimhen made his contribution as Gennaro Gattuso’s men suffered their second consecutive defeat, after also losing against Granada in the Europa League.
With few minutes before the end of the game, the forward collided with Romero and fell awkwardly, hitting the back of his head on the turf before losing consciousness.
“Victor Osimhen, following the injury with head trauma suffered in the final minutes of Atalanta-Napoli, underwent tests with negative results,” read a statement from the club website. “The player will remain in Bergamo until tomorrow under the clinical observation of the blue health manager Raffaele Canonico.”
Although the club did not state the duration Osimhen would be on the sidelines, it is certain that the forward will miss Napoli’s second leg round of 32 of their Europa League game against Granada on Thursday.