Edi Kochoi

Edi Kochoi

MOSCOW, December 28. /TASS/. German specialist Erik Stoffelshaus has announced on Friday his resignation from the post of the sporting director with Lokomotiv Moscow football club.

"Dear friends, after two wonderful years in Moscow, I decided it was time for something new in my life - that's why I give up my position as the Sporting Director of Lokomotiv Moscow," Stoffelshaus announced on his Instagram account. "But not without saying thank you."

"Thank you for a time that will remain in my memory forever," he said. "Celebrating the cup victory and the long-awaited third championship with this club - that was something very special."
"And one thing is clear: I‘m leaving as the Sporting Director, but I will stay as a supporter of this magnificent club. Thanks for everything and see you soon!" Stoffelshaus added.

The 48-year-old German specialist took the post of the Lokomotiv Moscow FC’s sporting director in January 2017. He facilitated the club’s contracts with such players as Jefferson Farfan, Grzegorz Krychowiak, Benedikt Howedes and Fyodor Smolov. The club won the Russian championship in the 2017-18 season and grabbed the Russia Cup a year before.

Before teaming up with Lokomotiv Moscow FC, Stoffelshaus held various posts in Germany’s Schalke FC and worked as a technical director at the York Region Soccer Association in Canada.



Real Madrid and Barcelona are among the clubs interested in signing Toulouse centre-back J​ean-Clair Todibo, according to Mundo Deportivo.

The 19-year-old, who came through the youth system at Les Violets, has made 10 Ligue 1 appearances this season.

Unfortunately, Todibo has refused to sign a new contract and the relationship between player and club has turned sour, with the France U-20 international now training with the reserves.

RB Leipzig, Bayer Leverkusen and Juventus are also interested in securing his services.



He is January’s hot property and Tottenham – who looked fatigued against Wolves on Saturday – have their eyes on PSG midfielder Adrien Rabiot, according to Paris United. But they are unlikely to be successful as they are offering only £7m a year. And how will Rabiot live on just £140,000 a week?

It’s far more likely that Rabiot will join Barcelona, who may have to increase his signing-on bonus to appease both him and his mother. It might be better if Spurs miss out.

Chelsea have been given both a price and a date by Bayern Munich if they want to sign Mats Hummels, according to The Sun. The German club have reportedly said they will accept £30m by August 14 as that would give them the money and the time to buy a replacement.

The same report suggests that Chelsea are working on a £80m-£100m deal for Real Madrid’s Isco and mentions talk of a move for Christian Pulisic. This sounds like an awfully busy January.

This is interesting. Sky Sports claim that Bayern Munich have made a second offer for Chelsea teenager Callum Hudson-Odoi of over £20m after having a first bid of £13.5m turned down by the London club, who are thought to want £22.5m for the 18-year-old who has just 18 months remaining on his contract.

How will Chelsea fans feel about their club spending £7.5m and a promising youngster on a 30-year-old defender?

Southampton are considering a January move for Olympiacos full-back Omar Elabdellaoui…Newcastle are considering a move for Leeds striker Kemar Roofe…Arsenal have joined Tottenham in the race for Norwich right-back Max Aarons…Cardiff are leading the race to sign Liverpool right-back Nathaniel Clyne, although Fulham and Leicester are also keen…Lazio will look to bring in Chelsea and Italy defender Davide Zappacosta if Manchester United refuse to sell Matteo Darmian.


It was fitting the Roberto Firmino no-look finish returned to Anfield on the day Liverpool threatened to disappear from view in the title race.

Arsenal were annihilated with a swagger and a smile and the Brazilian forward was their tormentor once again. He could not have timed a return to centre stage any better.

When Jürgen Klopp claimed Liverpool had room for improvement before Arsenal’s latest ravaging at Anfield it was his forward line, and arguably Firmino in particular, he had in mind. Liverpool’s pursuit of that elusive 19th league championship has been based so far on a formidable defence – one that has conceded only eight league goals all season – but now the forward line that carried them to last season’s Champions League final is hitting its collective stride too.
The parts are all in place. Firmino’s mesmerising display, with Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mané responding in kind to the Brazilian’s prompting, provides Manchester City and Tottenham with as much cause for concern as Liverpool’s healthy lead at the Premier League summit.

Liverpool have answered every question that has been put to them this season whether it concern resolve, resilience, strength in depth, consistency or focus. An early test of their nerve arrived when Ainsley Maitland-Niles’s opener put Klopp’s team behind in a league game at Anfield for the first time in 364 days. With the home crowd expectant in light of recent results and Tottenham’s surprise home defeat by Wolves there could have been cause for anxiety to creep into Liverpool’s play. Firmino’s emphatic response ensured there would be no time for that. In 90 seconds, all it took for the Brazilian to turn a deficit into a lead, Liverpool had ticked another box.

Firmino’s work-rate and movement have not been questioned during a campaign that has not always brought reward for the Liverpool No 9. There have been flashes rather than sustained spells of excellence, signs of understandable fatigue in some games, but Arsenal felt the full impact of his influence here. Roaming behind Mané and Salah, with Xherdan Shaqiri also given licence to create from deep, Firmino sowed confusion throughout the visiting ranks. Shkodran Mustafi and Sokratis Papastathopoulos were too preoccupied with Salah and Mané to track Firmino’s runs; Lucas Torreira and Granit Xhaka were simply overwhelmed.
Fortune assisted in Liverpool’s equaliser but industry shaped Firmino’s first league goal on home soil since April. The Brazil international instigated the move that led to his tap-in when he glided past Torreira before releasing Salah on the edge of the Arsenal area. He was the one moving, alert to possibility, when the ball dropped into his lap via a deflection off Mustafi. The open invitation to produce one of his no-look finishes was not passed up.
Firmino’s sensational second demonstrated speed of thought as well as the confidence to weave through an appalling Arsenal defence. This time Mané deserved the credit for harrying Torreira out of possession. His strike partner took over, driving at the retreating visitors, evading one lame challenge from Mustafi plus another from Papastathopoulos before sizing up Bernd Leno and leaving the Arsenal keeper flat-footed with a cool finish into the bottom corner. Other Arsenal defenders, nowhere near Firmino, fell over instinctively, it seemed, as the goal unfolded in slow motion. It was the forward’s seventh goal against the Gunners in the Premier League and he was not finished. Liverpool were about to turn on the style and turn Arsenal back into a latter-day Arsène Wenger side.
Firmino was involved in Liverpool’s fourth when collecting a superb clearance from Alisson, the team’s commanding and creative goalkeeper, and sending Salah through for another fiercely contested penalty. The Egypt international’s sublime touch for Mané’s convincing finish, Liverpool’s third of the rout, will have added to Klopp’s conviction that his team are gradually rediscovering the exhilarating style of last season. It was evidenced again in the glorious back-heel that Salah sent through for Fabinho to stretch Leno with a low drive in the second half.

Firmino’s hat-trick arrived from the penalty spot, his effort swept past the Arsenal keeper having once again waited for his opponent to commit. He was offered the opportunity to claim the match ball by the designated penalty-taker Salah.

“Mo Salah gave the penalty to Bobby and I almost cried because we all know how much Mo wants to score goals,” gushed Klopp. “It was really nice.”

The Brazilian raised three fingers to the Kop in celebration, turned and made a heart gesture towards his family in the Main Stand and beamed a smile as Anfield reverberated to the tune of his name. The Kop’s next song concerned Liverpool sitting top of the league. It will be aired regularly in the months ahead.


Cameron Norrie and Katie Boulter's Hopman Cup tournament got off to a flying start on Saturday with a win over Greece.

The Australian tournament's round-robin format comprises of national teams competing in two singles and a mixed-doubles match, with eight nations competing across two groups.
23-year-old Norrie, who is ranked 91st in the world, secured a straight-set victory over world no.15 Stefanos Tsitsipas by 7-6 (10-8), 6-4.
They will next face Swiss team Roger Federer and Belinda Bencic on Sunday before facnig Serena WIlliams and Frances Tiafo, representing the USA on Thursday. The winner of each gruop will compete in the final on Saturday


Cameron Norrie (GBR) d Stefanos Tsitsipas (GRE) 7-6(8) 6-4

Maria Sakkari (GRE) d Katie Boulter (GBR) 6-0 4-6 6-2

Ash Barty (AUS) d Alize Cornet (FRA) 7-5 6-3

Matt Ebden (AUS) d Lucas Pouille (FRA) 3-6 7-6(5) 6-2

Cornet /Pouille (FRA) d Barty / Ebden (AUS) 4-3(4) 4-2


Anthony Davis shoulders Pelicans with season high in victory over Dallas Mavericks following tongue-lashing from head coach Alvin Gentry at the half …

The Pelicans have not had a lot to celebrate this holiday season, dropping seven of their last 10 games — including five straight — heading into a home game against the Dallas Mavericks (16-18) at the Smoothie King Center in New Orleans Friday night.

However a halftime speech from beleaguered four-year head coach Alvin Gentry helped lift the Pelicans — down 11 points at the half — to a come-from-behind 114-112 win over the Mavs to snap the losing streak and improve the team record to 16-20 overall.
It wasn’t a G-rated speech,” admitted Gentry. “I was disappointed at the way we approached the game. We have to start getting back to who we were and that is: playing hard, moving the basketball, and finding people. I was just disappointed because I thought the way we started the game was not going to be a game we were going to win. I was just disappointed and I let them know that.”

While trade talk has become the story of the NBA 2017 All-Star MVP Anthony Davis looked anything but distracted putting up a season high 48 points with 17 rebounds, followed by Julius Randle’s 22 points and 12 boards. Teammate Jrue Holiday scored 18, while guard Luka Dončić led the Mavs with 34.

“It was something that we needed, and kind of gave us a lot of juice,” said Davis of Gentry’s pep talk.

"Even after the game he was satisfied with the win, but we can’t continue to play the way we’ve been playing. Trying to play down 10, 12, 14, whatever and then expect to come back and win the game. We have to play the way we played in the second half at the beginning."
Despite the win, the Pelicans remain 14th of 15 teams in the Western Conference — only topping the Phoenix Suns (9-27) by seven games — a complete contrast from last year’s trip to the conference semifinals.

“A lot of these games have been really close games that have come down to a play here and there,” explained Gentry when asked about the play of the team in the fourth quarter. “I thought not the baskets we made, but the play of the game was when we lost the ball and E’Twaun (Moore) ran it down.

“We came back, got a basket out of it, and it would have been disastrous if they (Mavericks) ended up with a basket in that. Just the attitude and effort we played with was the way we have been doing it. If we want to win close games, you just have to dig in and grind your way through and get over the hump. There is a different level you have to play at and sense of urgency you have to play at in a close game in the last three to four minutes. We have to get back to that.”

The Pelicans host the Rockets (19-15) on Saturday followed by the Timberwolves (16-19) on Monday before heading back on the road Wednesday vs the Nets (17-20)


Napoli's Dries Mertens scored two minutes from time to give his second-placed side a 3-2 win over Bologna after the struggling visitors twice fought back to equalise in Serie A on Saturday.

Arkadiusz Milik put Napoli ahead on two occasions but Bologna, without a win in 12 league matches, hit back with goals by Federico Santander and Danilo.

Carlo Ancelotti's Napoli side stayed nine points behind leaders Juventus, who have 53 points after a 2-1 win at home to Sampdoria, as the championship reached the halfway mark.

Napoli fans carried pictures and banners of support for defender Kalidou Koulibaly who was subjected to racist insults during the 1-0 defeat at Inter Milan on Wednesday.

The Senegalese was sent off in that game, with Ancelotti blaming the player's loss of temper on the taunts, and was suspended on Saturday.
Milik scored in the 16th minute, prodding the ball home after a series of rebounds, only for Santander to level for Bologna just after the half hour, the Paraguayan getting in front of his marker at a free kick to power home a header.

Napoli regained the lead with a Milik header six minutes after the restart only to concede another goal from a set piece, Danilo this time scoring in the 80th minute as Koulibaly's absence was sorely felt.

Belgian Mertens then came to the rescue, cutting inside to score from the edge of the area with a shot which bounced under Lukasz Skorupski, although Bologna nearly levelled again when Napoli's Mario Rui had to clear off the line following a corner.

The defeat kept Bologna in the relegation zone in 18th place with 13 points.


Mesut Ozil has not travelled with the Arsenal squad ahead of their Premier League encounter with Liverpool, according to numerous reports.

The 30-year-old trained with Arsenal as normal on Friday but complained of knee pain and has, according to numerous reports, not travelled to Liverpool with the rest of the squad.
Despite the widespread reports that the German had not travelled due to injury, the club website made no mention of an injury to Ozil in its update ahead of the match at Anfield.
The World Cup winner was a mainstay in the Gunners side under previous manager Arsene Wenger but new boss Unai Emery has shown he has no issue with keeping Ozil on the sidelines.

Ozil, who joined Arsenal from Real Madrid in 2013 for a then-record £42 million, has been left out of the side regularly in the last three months, at first due to a back sprain and then - according to Emery - because of the physicality of some opponents, and the German star was subbed at half-time during Arsenal's 1-1 draw with Brighton on Boxing Day.The former Real Madrid man's lack of game-time has led to rumours linking him with a January move away from the club, with Inter Milan linked with a loan swoop for the playmaker.


Andrea Pirlo has urged Juventus to sign Aaron Ramsey from Arsenal. Wales international Ramsey hoped to sign a contract extension at the Emirates but is now set to leave the club at the end of the season.

The 28-year-old has spent over a decade at Arsenal, playing over 350 games and helping the club win the FA Cup three times. Juventus, Bayern Munich and Paris Saint-Germain are keeping tabs on Ramsey and Pirlo says he would be a good signing for Serie A champions Juve.
‘He is a talented player,’ Pirlo told Sky Italia. ‘He is a complete player who can do pretty much everything. And he scores a lot. ‘Ramsey is a great purchase. Juventus are preparing another excellent deal. He is a strong player and could do very well.’ Unai Emery, meanwhile, has urged Ramsey to focus on his performances for Arsenal despite uncertainty over his future. ‘The most important thing for every player is for the focus to be here,’ the Gunners boss said.
‘It is not easy for Aaron but I have spoken with him and we need his performances for us. ‘He played yesterday with a good spirit. We did not win but he is working hard and I am happy. ‘I also need this focus for Liverpool on Saturday and then for Fulham [on New Year’s Day]. His focus should be to help us.’ Ramsey came on as a second-half substitute in Arsenal’s 1-1 draw with Brighton on Boxing Day. The Gunners face Liverpool on Saturday.




Pep Guardiola will hold a press conference today ahead of Manchester City's crucial game against Southampton on Sunday.

Premier League leaders Liverpool are in action against Arsenal tonight so the Blues could be 10 points off the pace come kick-off on the South Coast if Jurgen Klopp's men are victorious at Anfield.

Guardiola's press conferences are usually on Fridays but he took the unusual step of moving this week's to Saturday.

City are sweating on the fitness of Fernandinho ahead of the trip to St. Mary's. The Brazilian has watched his teammates lose their last two games from the sidelines due to a thigh injury.

In transfer news Brahim Diaz to Real Madrid is edging closer, with the club reportedly expected to pocket more than £15million for the Spaniard's sale.

Mail Online say Diaz is disillusioned at City due to a lack of first-team opportunities and his departure is set to take place next month.
The Blues’ defence of their Premier League title has hit the rocks recently with three defeats in their last four league fixtures. That has seen Pep Guardiola’s side drop to third in the Premier League table, a point behind Tottenham and seven behind Liverpool.

Guardiola’s squad has been hit by injuries recently and they’ve missed Fernandinho in the defeats to Crystal Palace and Leicester City.

While the City boss has previously been adamant that he wouldn’t spend in January, Dunne believes the squad now needs freshening up for the second half of the season and he saw some worrying signs against Palace last weekend.


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