Braithwaite Umenta

Braithwaite Umenta

Zinedine Zidane may be feeling the heat a little at Real Madrid after a very disappointing pre-season tour.

But he has received a strong public defence from an old colleague in the form of ex-Real star Cristiano Ronaldo.

The Juventus forward was speaking with reporters about his relationship with Zidane and offered an interesting insight into how the Frenchman got the best out of him.

“The confidence that a player needs doesn’t only come from himself but also from the players around him and the coach,” Ronaldo stated.

“You need to feel like you are an important part of the group and Zidane made me feel special.“He helped me a lot. I already had a lot of respect for him but working with him made me admire him more.

“That’s because of what he’s like as a person, how he talks, how he led the team and how he treated me.

“He’d tell me ‘Cris, relax and just play your game – you are the one who is going to make the difference’.“He was always honest with me and that’s why I’ll always have real affection for him.”

Zidane was the coach of Los Blancos for two-and-a-half years of the Portuguese international’s time at the Santiago Bernabéu.

Christian Eriksen could yet remain at Tottenham for longer than this season, despite links to Juventus.

The Danish playmaker was on the bench in Spurs’ Premier League opener on Saturday, only to come on and help the team turn the game around.

It is thought he was left out amid speculation surrounding his future. Mauricio Pochettino has a history with ignoring players who are not fully committed and Eriksen has made no secret of his desire to leave the club.

“I feel that I am at a stage of my career where I would like to try something new,” the Dane said in June.

“I have the deepest respect for everything that is happening at Tottenham and it would not be something negative to stay.

“But I have also said that I would like to try something new.

“I hope that something will be decided this summer.”Eriksen has since been linked with Real Madrid, Manchester United and Juventus but, as of yet, remains in north London.

A report on Monday saw Juventus linked with a move for the 27-year-old. However, it was claimed they are willing to wait one year, when they would be happy to sign Eriksen without paying a transfer fee.

Now, according to the same report, Tottenham could make one last play to keep the midfielder.

A report published on Monday night said Spurs are now more willing to adjust their wage structure to offer Eriksen a deal worth more than double his current £80k-a-week salary.

An offer of £200k-a-week is now likely to be tabled and Spurs are hopeful they can convince Eriksen that he doesn’t need a new challenge after all.

Whether or not he accepts will be huge for the club.

Christian Eriksen could yet remain at Tottenham for longer than this season, despite links to Juventus.

The Danish playmaker was on the bench in Spurs’ Premier League opener on Saturday, only to come on and help the team turn the game around.

It is thought he was left out amid speculation surrounding his future. Mauricio Pochettino has a history with ignoring players who are not fully committed and Eriksen has made no secret of his desire to leave the club.

“I feel that I am at a stage of my career where I would like to try something new,” the Dane said in June.

“I have the deepest respect for everything that is happening at Tottenham and it would not be something negative to stay.

“But I have also said that I would like to try something new.

“I hope that something will be decided this summer.”Eriksen has since been linked with Real Madrid, Manchester United and Juventus but, as of yet, remains in north London.

A report on Monday saw Juventus linked with a move for the 27-year-old. However, it was claimed they are willing to wait one year, when they would be happy to sign Eriksen without paying a transfer fee.

Now, according to the same report, Tottenham could make one last play to keep the midfielder.

A report published on Monday night said Spurs are now more willing to adjust their wage structure to offer Eriksen a deal worth more than double his current £80k-a-week salary.

An offer of £200k-a-week is now likely to be tabled and Spurs are hopeful they can convince Eriksen that he doesn’t need a new challenge after all.

Whether or not he accepts will be huge for the club.

Tuesday, 13 August 2019 11:32

Messi makes Neymar plea

It’s Tuesday and two more leagues in Europe are set to get underway this week.

Lionel Messi is desperate not to see Neymar join Real Madrid.

According to reports, the Argentine has spoken with his close friend and ex-Barcelona team-mate to convince him not to move to the Bernabéu.

Both Real Madrid and Barcelona are linked with the Brazilian, with Paris Saint-Germain open to a sale.

Isco and James Rodríguez could leave Madrid with Neymar being linked.

A report say either of the players may be targeted by Milan who, in turn, could sell goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma to PSG once a Neymar exit goes through.

Meanwhile at Inter, Ivan Perisic has all but completed a switch to Bayern Munich.

“He [Ivan Perisic] was at the medical check today,” Bayern head coach Niko Kovac confirmed on Monday.

“And if all this goes well and the last papers are sent back and forth [with Inter], then he will become one of our players.”

Monday, 12 August 2019 13:48

Kane: Tottenham can win Premier League

Harry Kane believes Tottenham can go all the way this season and win the Premier League after strengthening their squad during the transfer window.

Champions League runners-up Spurs opened their Premier League campaign with a 3-1 win over newly promoted Aston Villa at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on Saturday.

Tottenham, who were fourth last season, have gone close to conquering the Premier League under Mauricio Pochettino – a runners-up finish in 2016-17 sandwiched between third in 2016 and 2018.

Spurs, however, have bolstered their squad after two consecutive windows without a signing – club-record recruit Tanguy Ndombele, who scored against Villa, Giovani Lo Celso and Ryan Sessegnon headlining the arrivals.

And Spurs star Kane is confident Tottenham can push champions Manchester City and Liverpool all the way this term after his brace in the win over Villa.

"We kept with them for a while last year but they blew ahead after January," Kane said. "We have to make sure we get off to a good start.

Liverpool set the standard on Friday night and City on Saturday afternoon, so it's important that we stay in touch as long as we can.

"We have full belief that we can go all the way but there's a long road ahead. That's why we buy players: to strengthen the squad and have more competition for places. That's what we've got.

"We've got a good, hungry squad. Everyone's fit and ready to go. The players that came on have to try to make an impact and they did. It's important for us if we're going to have a good season.

Of course, it's just the start now but throughout the winter time when loads of games are popping up we need everyone to contribute as much as possible.

"I think it's definitely going to help us when we start getting into the thick of it, with games midweek.

I haven't really had a chance to see Ryan and Gio train yet but I obviously look forward to that next week, settling them in and I'm sure they'll want to come and make a big impact as well.

Everyone here is trying to move in the right direction and that's what we're trying to do."

Tottenham trailed Villa 1-0 at half-time but Christian Eriksen – who has been linked with a move away – came off the bench to inspire Spurs.

Eriksen reportedly opted against a move to Manchester United as the Denmark international holds out for a switch to LaLiga, where Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid are believed to be interested.

Despite uncertainty over Eriksen's future, Kane added: "Obviously I've been playing with Chris now for five or six years and we all know the qualities he has:

the assists, the passes, the goals. Whether he starts or is on the bench, the most important thing from all of our points of view is that he gives everything for the team.

"Obviously, there's been speculation about his future but as long as he's training hard and playing as hard as he can when he's here, that's all we can ask for. What will be will be but we're happy to have him.

"That's all the fans ask for as well: commitment. We're happy to have them. We'll see what happens but from our point of view we've got a strong squad and we'll use that throughout the season."

Pep Guardiola revealed Riyad Mahrez cut short his holiday following the Africa Cup of Nations, giving Manchester City a boost as Bernardo Silva dealt with an issue at West Ham on Saturday.

Mahrez captained Algeria to the AFCON title on July 19 but returned to start against West Ham in City's Premier League opener, providing two assists in a 5-0 win.

Guardiola was delighted to be able to call on the former Leicester City winger as he revealed Silva, a star of last season's title success, was left on the bench due to "little muscular problems".

"Riyad called me after they won [the AFCON]," Guardiola said. "He said, 'I need just 10 days. I want to come back soon. I want to play'. I like it. That's why I decide, 'Okay, I want to play him'.

"Bernardo had done nothing wrong, but there was some little muscular problems.

"I want them to know I trust all of them. That is the truth. After four seasons, I don't not like one player who is with us. I trust with them and they have to compete with opponents and with each other."

From West Ham's side, the post-match narrative involved complaints of City's apparent tactical fouling, with Manuel Pellegrini attributing this to his team's lack of creativity.

But Jack Wilshere had no issue with City's tactics, suggesting West Ham need to learn from such elite opponents.

"That's football," he said. "When you play against experienced players who understand the game, it's going to happen

"You can't get frustrated. They're clever players. A team like us who like to attack could learn from that. They do that counter press. They lose the ball and bang, they go straight away.

"They're going to make fouls. If you do get out of it, it happens so quickly and they bring you down."

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang said the Premier League's Golden Boot is already on his mind after scoring Arsenal's goal in their 1-0 opening-day victory over Newcastle United.

The 30-year-old striker shared last season's top-scorer award with Liverpool's Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah, the latter opening his account for the new campaign in the Reds' 4-1 win over Norwich City on Friday.

At St James' Park on Sunday, Aubameyang was the beneficiary of a mix-up in the Newcastle defence.

Ainsley Maitland-Niles pounced on Fabian Schar's pass before Jetro Willems could react, then crossed to the Gabon international who flicked the ball past Martin Dubravka and into the net.

In a game of few clear-cut chances, Aubameyang's clinical finishing made the difference and he admitted he went into the game with high hopes for the season.

Asked whether the Golden Boot is a target this season, Aubameyang said: "Of course it is in the mind of a striker but first of all the team is the most important.

"I'm really pleased the goal helped us win the game."

Arsenal boss Unai Emery started the game with Alexandre Lacazette on the bench along with new signing Nicolas Pepe, who came on as a second-half substitute once the Gunners were ahead.

Newcastle improved with the introduction of Allan Saint-Maximin off the bench but, like Arsenal, mustered just two shots on target all afternoon.

Aubameyang said he felt Arsenal deserved all three points after they banished the memory of a 2-0 defeat to Manchester City on the opening day of 2018-19.

He said: "We fought today a lot. It was a great game against a good team.

"It was important to start with a win, last season we started bad, so we are happy.

"It is always positive for all the squad to win the first game, everyone is happy to get three points and we're looking forward to winning more games."

Manchester United’s £80 million centre-back Harry Maguire has called on his side to make Old Trafford a fortress after they began their Premier League campaign with a 4-0 hammering of Chelsea today.

Frank Lampard’s young Chelsea side dominated the opening exchanges and came within inches of taking the lead when Tammy Abraham hammered a shot against the post from the edge of the area.

However, Manchester United took the lead on 18 minutes when Marcus Rashford smashed home a penalty after the English striker was clumsily taken down in the area by Blues centre-back Kurt Zouma.

United upped their game after the opening goal.

Although Chelsea continued to create openings and Lampard would have been disappointed to see his side go in at the break one down after Emerson hit the post and Ross Barkley forced David De Gea into an excellent reaction stop.

Chelsea continued to push and probe after the break.

But United would kill the game off in the space of a couple of minutes when Anthony Martial finished from close range and Rashford bagged his second after a sublime through ball from Paul Pogba.

Manchester City started the defence of their Premier League title with a resounding 5-0 win over West Ham.

Raheem Sterling was in sparkling form, with Gabriel Jesus and Sergio Aguero also on target in a game that suggests the rest of the league will have their work cut out stopping Pep Guardiola's side marching to a third consecutive title.

Liverpool, who pushed City so close last season, also picked up where they left off, scoring four first-half goals to defeat promoted Norwich City 4-1 at Anfield.

Marcus Rashford scored twice as Manchester United thumped Chelsea 4-0 at Old Trafford, while Harry Kane was at his ruthless best as Tottenham came from behind to see off Aston Villa 3-1.

STERLING TREBLE SETS CITY ON THEIR WAY

City laid down an ominous marker in their opening game of the season, sweeping aside West Ham with apparent ease.

The result means they have won their last 15 Premier League games – three short of their own record of 18 set between August and December in 2017.

Central to their success was Sterling, who became just the eighth player to score a hat-trick on the opening weekend of a Premier League campaign, and the first since Didier Drogba in 2010.

Jesus was a surprise starter ahead of Aguero but the Brazilian repaid his manager's faith with the opener – his 13th goal in his last 10 starts.

West Ham, meanwhile, have now lost their last four opening fixtures to a Premier League season, including each of the last three by an aggregate score of 0-13.

LIVERPOOL'S FIRST-HALF BLITZ DOWNS SORRY CANARIES

Norwich experienced a baptism of fire on their return to the top flight on Friday, with Liverpool racing into a four-goal lead by half-time.

The Reds scored three goals in the opening 30 minutes for the first time since February 2014 when they were 4-0 up after just 20 minutes against Arsenal.

One of those goalscorers, Mohamed Salah, extended his impressive opening-day record, which has seen him score in Liverpool's first Premier League match of the past three seasons.

Trent Alexander-Arnold was typically impressive at right-back and his assist for Divock Origi's goal means he is the first player to register an assist in five consecutive top-flight games since Mesut Ozil in 2015.

It should perhaps come as little surprise that Norwich left Merseyside with nothing given their woeful record on the opening day – they have won their first match of the league season in just one of the last 17 seasons.

UNITED RUN RIOT AGAINST BLUES

Manchester United's resounding Premier League win over Chelsea on Sunday was their biggest top-flight victory over the Blues in 54 years.

United were not at their best against Frank Lampard's side but they proved lethal in front of goal, with strikes from Rashford (2), Anthony Martial and Daniel James enough to secure all three points.

The last time the Red Devils beat Chelsea by such a margin in the league was in March 1965 under Matt Busby, when they also won 4-0.

As well as suffering the joint-heaviest defeat of his brief managerial career to date.

Lampard was dealt the biggest reversal by a Chelsea boss in their first game in charge since Danny Blanchflower oversaw a 7-2 loss at Middlesbrough in December 1978.

The defeat also means Chelsea ended a day in the Premier League relegation zone for the first time since September 2000.

KANE COMES TO SPURS' RESCUE AGAIN

Tottenham once again were indebted to Kane's clinical finishing as they claimed all three points against Villa.

The England captain's two late goals mean he has now scored six goals in as many Premier League games against the Villains.

Mauricio Pochettino's side had earlier cancelled out John McGinn's opener courtesy of Tanguy Ndombele's strike from distance, making the Frenchman the first player to score on his Spurs debut since Eric Dier in August 2014.

Defeat for Villa, meanwhile, continued Jack Grealish's unfortunate run, which has seen him lose each of his last 19 Premier League games – the longest run of consecutive defeats suffered by a player in the history of the competition.

Manchester United's resounding 4-0 Premier League win over Chelsea on Sunday was their biggest top-flight victory over the Blues in 54 years.

United were not at their best against Frank Lampard's side but they proved lethal in front of goal, with strikes from Marcus Rashford (2), Anthony Martial and Daniel James enough to secure all three points.

The last time the Red Devils beat Chelsea by such a big margin was in March 1965 under Matt Busby, when they also won 4-0.

As well as suffering the joint-heaviest defeat of his brief managerial career to date.

Lampard was dealt the biggest reversal by a Chelsea boss in their first game in charge since Danny Blanchflower oversaw a 7-2 loss at Middlesbrough in December 1978.

The defeat also means Chelsea will end a day in the Premier League relegation zone for the first time since September 2000.

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