West Ham Open To Selling Arnautovic If Price Is Right

West Ham United’s Chilean manager Manuel Pellegrini. Credit: Ian KINGTON / AFP

 

West Ham manager Manuel Pellegrini says the club are open to selling star forward Marko Arnautovic this month, but only if the price is right.

Arnautovic was the subject of a reported £35 million ($45 million) bid from an unnamed Chinese Super League club last week, an offer his brother and agent Danijel Arnautovic pleaded with West Ham to accept.

Shanghai SIPG are the side said to be interested and have reportedly offered Arnautovic a wage packet of £200,000 per week for a four-year deal.

West Ham have so far refused to accept any bids and urged Arnautovic to honour the contract he signed when joining the club from Stoke in 2017.

However, Pellegrini admitted that stance could change with an increased offer that would benefit both the club and the player, 29.

“They are not forcing me to sell Marko Arnautovic but I think as a manager the best thing is to take the solution that is best for the player and the club, both together,” said Pellegrini.

“If they agree, we don’t have any problem to change. I am not telling the club about it. If it’s a good deal for both parties we will arrange to be without Marko. But the club doesn’t want to sell him.”

Despite the speculation, Arnautovic started last weekend’s 1-0 win over Arsenal that lifted West Ham up to ninth in the Premier League.

However, the Austrian appeared to wave goodbye to the home fans as he was substituted 19 minutes from time.

Pellegrini, though, does not expect Arnautovic to refuse to play for Saturday’s trip to Bournemouth.

“When you have such a high offer, everyone wants to leave but he has a contract here and we will know what will happen about it in the coming days.

“Of course you can’t blame him, he knows what is the best option for him and now we will see what happens between the clubs. I don’t think that the player will refuse to play.”

AFP

Pellegrini Slams West Ham Over Team’s Poor Performance

West Ham United’s Chilean manager Manuel Pellegrini watches from the touchline during the English Premier League football match between Arsenal and West Ham United at the Emirates Stadium in London on August 25, 2018. Ian KINGTON / AFP

 

Manuel Pellegrini slammed his West Ham flops for their “very bad” start to the season after the Chilean’s struggling side crashed to a fourth successive Premier League defeat.

Pellegrini, who spent £100 million ($129 million) on nine new signings in the close-season, has lost his first four league matches with the east London club.

On Saturday, it was an Adama Traore goal deep into second-half stoppage-time that condemned the Hammers to a 1-0 defeat against promoted Wolves at the London Stadium.

Instead of winding the clock down in the final seconds, West Ham’s Carlos Sanchez — one of Pellegrini’s new recruits — lost possession to Ruben Neves and in a flash substitute, Traore had the ball in the net.

Only once before in their history have West Ham lost their opening four league matches of a season, in 2010-11 under Avram Grant, when they were relegated.

With a trip to Everton up next followed by visits from Chelsea and Manchester, United things could get a lot worse before they get better for former Manchester City boss Pellegrini.

“We knew before we started that we had a tough start, seven difficult games,” Pellegrini said.

“I don’t think it is a bad start, it is a very bad start. We didn’t think we’d lose six points here at home. Here at home to lose we must be very worried.

“But I think everyone inside the club is calm. I think we have a strong squad and we are going to have better performances in the future.

“But of course, when you start with no points in four games it is difficult.”

AFP

Pellegrini Calls For VAR Limits In China

FILE PHOTO Manuel Pellegrini

 

Hebei China Fortune coach Manuel Pellegrini called for limits to the use of VAR in the Chinese Super League after a string of referrals saw his side play into the 101st minute.

Pellegrini also accused officials of favouring hosts Guizhou Zhicheng in their use of the new technology, after Hebei’s 3-2 away win stretched to 11 extra minutes following at least three VAR referrals in the second half.

It was not the only incident on Sunday involving the video assistant referee (VAR), which was also at the centre of a long delay before it correctly allowed Cedric Bakambu’s debut goal for Beijing Guoan.

VAR looks set to make its World Cup debut this year but football’s rule-makers will be keen to avoid similar incidents in Russia.

“VAR should be used more reasonably,” Beijing Youth Daily quoted Pellegrini, the former Manchester City, and Real Madrid boss, as saying.

“It did not bring much help to today’s game and I think that the number of VARs used should be limited, rather than unlimited viewing.

“And regardless of the home team or the visiting team, the number of VARs used should be the same.”

VAR has been implemented in top European leagues including the German Bundesliga and Italy’s Serie A for game-changing decisions and is being used for a full season for the first time in China.

But after just two rounds of matches in the new Chinese Super League season, it is already a major talking point.

VAR ‘a new challenge’ 

Bakambu’s debut CSL goal, following his 40-million-euro move from Villarreal to Beijing Guoan, was delayed for more than 70 seconds while VAR overruled an initial offside decision.

The striker’s goal proved decisive in Beijing’s 2-1 away win at Fabio Capello’s Jiangsu Suning.

The FIFA Council, global football’s top decision-making body, is expected to approve VAR for the World Cup when it meets in Colombia on Thursday and Friday.

At the World Cup, VAR will be used when there is doubt surrounding any of four key game-changing situations: goals, penalty decisions, straight red cards or mistaken identity of a sanctioned player.

Chinese football is following the same blueprint, but some local media and fans made clear their unhappiness at how often VAR is being used.

“The most critical point is the number of uses and how to use VAR more reasonably so that it does not detract from the authority of the referee and break up the fluency of the game,” Soccer News said in a comment piece.

“The level of CSL referees has always been in need of improvement. The introduction of VAR technology now is not a reduction of the burden on the referees but instead presents a new challenge.”

Guangzhou Daily, a state newspaper, was more critical, saying that two-thirds of the CSL matches this season have used VAR and that it was threatening to make referees redundant.

AFP

Ilkay Gundogan Joins Manchester City

Ilkay Gundogan, Manchester CityGerman midfielder, Ilkay Gundogan has joined Manchester City from Bundesliga side Borussia Dortmund on a four-year deal.

The 25-year-old is the club’s first signing since they confirmed Spanish coach, Pep Guardiola will take over at the Etihad from Manuel Pellegrini prior to the start of next season.

City’s Director of Football Txiki Begiristain, has described Ilkay is an excellent addition to the Cityteam and the club are delighted to have him on board.

“He is an intelligent and versatile midfielder who can operate in a number of different roles. I think our supporters will enjoy his work ethic and technical ability and I believe he will be a very important player for us in the coming years.”

Gundogan made 157 appearances over the past five seasons for Borussia Dortmund and has won 16 caps for Germany, scoring four goals.

The injury-prone German international dislocated a kneecap in training in May, ruling him out of the 2016 European Championships in France.

“I’m thrilled to have signed for Manchester City,” said Gundogan. “When I learned of City’s interest my heart was set on coming here and things have moved very quickly.

“I have loved my time with Borussia Dortmund and I would like to thank the club and the supporters for the five very happy years I spent there.

“They gave me a platform to play on and I became a better player because of the belief, patience and trust they showed in me.

“Now I have a new challenge and that is to achieve great things with City. The opportunity to work with a coach like Pep Guardiola is something I am really looking forward to and I am flattered to be the first signing the Club has made this summer.

“I can promise the City fans I will give everything to help us win titles both in England and the Champions League. These are exciting times.

“I have my best years ahead of me and I think we can achieve great things together. I can’t wait to begin this new chapter in my career.”

 

 

Champions League: Atletico, Real Madrid Arrive For Milan Final

Champions League, Atletico, Real MadridThe city of Milan is getting ready for the final of the UEFA Champions League as arch rivals Atletico Madrid and Real Madrid compete for the coveted trophy on Saturday evening.

Majority of the Spanish fans are expected to start arriving by air, rail and road on Saturday. Fans already arrived in Milan are hoping that they would see an exciting match.

10-time European champions, Real Madrid have arrived their Milan hotel ahead of the Champions League final against Atletico Madrid.

Cristiano Ronaldo was the first player off the bus and the Portuguese should be fit to play.

The Portuguese set alarm bells ringing on Tuesday when he ended training prematurely with a knock but was fit to train again the following day.

He has scored 16 goals in the competition this season.

Zinedine Zidane’s men are without defenders Raphael Varane and Alvaro Arbeloa for the game.

Meanwhile a crowd of Atletico Madrid fans gathered outside the Hotel Melia in Milan to also welcome their team as they arrived.

Atletico players briefly waved at a group of supporters, many dressed in the team’s jerseys and waving red and white flags, before entering their hotel.

While Madrid will be missing two players, Atletico have a clean bill of health.

It is a far cry from the dishevelled state in which Diego Simeone’s team arrived at the 2014 final, when they struggled with fitness after a long season and suffered key injuries.

The teams’ face off at the San Siro stadium is a repeat of the 2014 final in Lisbon which saw Real come from behind to win 4-1 after extra-time.

Xhaka Looks Forward To Arsenal’s ‘Family Atmosphere’

Granit Xhaka, ArsenalGranit Xhaka says former Gunners Havard Nordtveit, Johan Djourou and Philippe Senderos encouraged him to join the “family” atmosphere at Arsenal.

The 23-year-old midfielder arrived in north London as Arsène Wenger’s first signing of the summer, having spent the last four years at Borussia Monchengladbach.

Xhaka says his former Gladbach team-mate Nordtveit and Swiss compatriots Djourou and Senderos talked up the positive atmosphere at the club.

“I spoke with [Nordtveit] about Arsenal and he told me it’s a big club, a family club and it’s very important for me to come here,” Xhaka told Arsenal Player.

“Philippe played here and I play with him in the national team. Johan and Philippe have only told me positive things.

“Arsenal is Arsenal. It’s not a small club, it’s a very big club and it’s like a family. It’s very good for me because I love my family and to have another family here is very good.”

Xhaka progressed through the youth ranks of Mohamed Elneny’s former side Basel, and the 23-year-old says he is looking forward to playing with the Egyptian.

“I know him by name, but when I went to Monchengladbach he came to Basel,” he said. “My brother played with him and I had heard of him before I came here. In Switzerland we produce very good young players and many of these players have come to England. That’s very good.”

 

Champions League: Ronaldo Injury Scare Ahead Of Final

Champions League, RonaldoReal Madrid forward Cristiano Ronaldo says he will be fit to face Atletico Madrid in the Champions League final on Saturday after limping out of training.

Ronaldo left the pitch with a thigh problem following a clash with goalkeeper Kiko Casilla.

The Portuguese forward was seen showing his thigh to medical staff, receiving attention, he later described the injury as a minor scare.

“I had a small problem in the training session, a ‘sandwich’ (bocadillo) as they say in Spain. But tomorrow or the day after I will be fine,” he told reporters.

Ronaldo has not completed his last three training sessions.

Real Madrid boss, Zinedine Zidane has admitted that Ronaldo sat out a full training as a precaution.

“There will be no problem with that. We had a game among ourselves on Saturday and (Ronaldo) didn’t play, but (only) as a precaution as he felt something small.

“He is preparing for the final and I think we’ll be in good shape physically,” Zidane said.

Wenger Hails Arsenal Character In Man City Draw

ArsenalArsenal manager, Arsene Wenger believes his side have the character to seal a top-three finish in the Barclays Premier League going by the manner in which they drew 2-2 draw at Manchester City.

The Gunners extended their unbeaten run to nine league matches as they came from behind twice through goals for Olivier Giroud and Alexis Sanchez against City at the Etihad Stadium on Sunday.

Arsenal now need a point in their final match of the season, against relegated Aston Villa on Sunday, to guarantee third place in the table.

“We have seen again today that we just want to finish the job with the result,” Wenger said. “We have had strong concentration in recent games and our character has been questioned a few times this season.

“We gave the right response today on the pitch, but you have to say if you look we have the best results against the top-four teams. That doesn’t come without character.”

Wenger also said striker Danny Welbeck will have a scan on his knee on Monday to determine the extent of an injury that forced him off the field in the 59th minute.

“I hope that it is not bad one and a meniscus.” Wenger added. “We tried to keep him on the pitch and straight away he tried to move on and he said it was impossible. At half time, I looked at him and he was very down so he must have pain.”

Manchester City manager, Manuel Pellegrini, was remorseful that things did not end well as the result means that Manchester United will now finish above them if they win both their final league matches.

“It was not the way we wanted to finish the season, We wanted to qualify for the Champions League final and to win again today.

“But there are three years of work here, for me, three wonderful and unforgettable years so all I can say to all the fans is thanks for all of it.

“I will never forget you and, most of all, don’t change. Continue the same way because I’m sure next year that this team will need you and will be a very successful team in all the competitions.”

Losing out on Champions League qualification would prove a disaster for incoming City boss, Pep Guardiola.

Real Madrid Stars React To Champions League Final Qualification

Real MadridIn a repeat of the 2014 Lisbon final, Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid will meet each other at the San Siro on May 28 in the 2016 Champions League final.

Real Madrid beat Manchester City 1-0 to set up the all Spanish final for the second time in three seasons after a first-half own goal from Fernando was enough to secure a narrow win that barely reflected Real’s dominant.

It was a perfect night for Zinedine Zidane. He has just passed the four-month mark as Real Madrid coach and his team are now through to the Champions League final.

The Frenchman had the following to say about his team reaching the final in Milan; “I’m happy, not just for myself; it was a team effort. I’m happy for the players because what they did tonight was fantastic. We suffered because that always happens in semi-finals, but we’ve got through to the final and that is what is important for us.

“We won the game 1-0 and that shows that we had to dig in against a very strong side. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion and can say that City didn’t do anything in the game. I think that they did a lot. We hardly allowed them any chances because we defended well and got things right tactically.”

On his part in the success; “I’m the coach of this team. For sure, I’m doing something right. But, it’s not just me, it’s down to everyone who works alongside me. The most important ones are the players, it’s them who allow us to enjoy the football.

“I love football and when I see them doing what they do, I’m happy. I suffer a bit more as a coach than I did as a player. I feel tense during the games. We’ve got to enjoy these moments.”

Important Goal

Madrid went ahead in the first half when Bale picked up Dani Carvajal’s pass and aimed a cross towards the far post that was deflected by Fernando past Joe Hart into the top corner.

He said of the goal that has been credited as an own goal, “The most important thing was to get the goal and that the ball ended up in the net. It doesn’t matter who scores it, the only thing that matters is that it was an important goal which has sent us through to the final. We’ve now got the chance to win another Champions League title”.

Other Real Madrid stars have also spoken about the victory and their expectations from Milan.

Left back, Marcelo said; “In the Champions League there is always a lot of tension, they are tough games. In every competition we play in, we try to do the best we can. It is difficult because they are tough competitions, but we are in the Champions League final and we have a very difficult game ahead of us. We are going into the end of season strong.”

Jesé says; “Last time I wasn’t in the final and now I have the good fortune and opportunity to be there and help the team. This year we deserve to win something and I’m happy.

“All madridistas want to win the Champions League and important things and now we have the opportunity. It is the product of months of work and in the final we have to fight till the last”.

Tough Season

Veteran defender Sergio Ramos considers it a very special night coming off a very tough season.

“After such a tough season, the hard work and the team’s togetherness means that we’re able to enjoy our second final in three years. We dug in and we worked together when we had to.

“The Champions League demands great concentration levels, we performed very well defensively and we put away the chance that we had. We must now enjoy this because it’s a special moment and it takes a lot of hard work to get to a final”.

“The team and the supporters deserve it. Once again, they got fully behind us and were our 12th man. We’ve now got to enjoy this and give our all in another final, we’ve already shown that we know how to win the final.

“It was a very special night for the Real Madrid fans and we’re really keen to bring the eleventh European title back home to our supporters.”

La Liga Quality

Cristiano Ronaldo, in his analysis of the semi-final win against Manchester City, tagged it a busy game.

“The team did well, we controlled the game and had more opportunities. We could have killed the game with a second goal and 1-0 is a small result but it is sufficient. We are in the final, which was our aim. We knew we needed to score and in the first game in Manchester we deserved to. Today as well, we were the better team and it is fair that we are in the final”.

“It is a final. We are facing Atletico again and I’m happy. This shows the quality of La Liga. I am very happy to be in the final and we still have a chance in La Liga.”

Ronaldo also had good words for the coach; “Zidane is doing a fine job. He is helping us and we are happy with his work. I admire him as a coach and as a person, and I hope that he stays with us.

“We have always been with him. He is a humble person, he likes to learn and listen to the players and it is very easy in this sense.”

Real Madrid will go in search of their eleventh European Cup title, against Atlético de Madrid at the San Siro.

It will be the fourth time that this stadium plays host to a European Cup final after the previous showdowns in 1965, 1970 and 2001.

It is the second time in the history of the European Cup that two sides from the same city face each other in the final. The first of these meetings was also between Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid.

In a repeat of the final from two years ago, in which Real Madrid lifted the Décima in Lisbon, Zinedine Zidane’s men will be looking to win and claim their eleventh European Cup title.

UCL: Real Madrid, Manchester City Bosses Laud Players

Real MadridReal Madrid Coach, Zinedine Zidane, is pleased with his side’s 3-0 win against Wolfsburg at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Spain.

Zidane said that although it was a challenging match, he could not deny the fact that they did a good job.

“It is not easy to start how we did, scoring two goals in 15 minutes. We went in with a really high intensity (and) we showed the opposition that it was important for us to win and go through,” the French said on the club’s website.

He also commended the Whites’ messiah, Cristiano Ronaldo whom he described as the world’s best player, saying he was demonstrating what he is.

“What can I say about Cristiano Ronaldo? He is demonstrating what he is, the best player in the world. That’s what makes him a special player,” he said.

Manchester City Manager, Manuel Pellegrini, has also asked his side to go all the way in the Champions League after their historic 1-0 win over Paris Saint-Germain (PSG).Manuel Pellegrini

Kevin De Bruyne fired city through to the last four of the league for the first time with his 76th-minute winner at the Etihad stadium.

As Madrid and City progress to the semi-final in the UEFA Champions League (UCL), Manuel Pellegrini could meet his city successor, Pep Guardiola should Bayern Munich beat Benfica on Wednesday.

Toure Set To Leave Man City In June

Toure
Yaya Toure (r) with Sergio Aguero

Manchester City’s midfield powerhouse Yaya Toure will leave the club at the end of the season having not been offered a new contract, his agent said on Monday.

The 32-year-old Ivory Coast international, who was the African Footballer of the Year four times in a row from 2011, joined Premier League City from Barcelona for 24 million pounds ($34.23 million) in July 2010.

Six years ago Toure was sold by Barca boss Pep Guardiola, who will replace Manuel Pellegrini as City’s coach when the Spaniard leaves Bayern Munich at the end of this season.

“We have waited too long. Manchester City promised a deal but nothing has materialised so Yaya will leave in June,” his agent Dimitri Seluk told Sky Sports television.

“Yaya is disappointed, of course, but he is a professional and he remains under contract so he will continue to do his best for City.”

Toure has been linked by the media with a move to Inter Milan who are coached by former City boss Roberto Mancini.

“Various offers have arrived for Yaya and we’re evaluating them,” Seluk said. “Inter? We’re definitely talking about a great club.

“Everyone knows about the relationship between Yaya and Mancini but… we haven’t made any decision yet. The Nerazzurri’s project is great and Inter is a fantastic club so it’s normal that they want a player of this level.”

Toure won the Premier League with City in 2012 and 2014, the FA Cup in 2011 and the League Cup in 2014 and 2016.

City visit Paris St Germain in the first leg of their Champions League quarter-final on Wednesday.

Manchester City Coach Warns Players Ahead Kiev Clash

Manchester CityManchester City manager, Manuel Pellegrini, has tasked his team to put in their best in Tuesday night’s UEFA Champions League match against Dynamo Kiev.

City are in prime position to reach the quarter-finals for the first time after a 3-1 advantage from the first leg.

Pellegrini, however, warned his side not to falter against opponents who have never won a game on English soil.

Manchester City goalkeeper, Joe Hart, has also warned that Kiev would be a different proposition compared to the team they met in Ukraine, who had just returned from a mid-winter break.

He expressed hope that his team can still win this season’s Champions League, despite their failure to live with the pace in the English Premier League.

Midfielder Yaya Toure has been decalred fit to face Dynamo Kiev at the Etihad Stadium after missing Saturday’s Premier League draw with Norwich City.