Mbappe Wanted To Know If I Would Join PSG, Says Tchouameni

French midfielder Aurelien Tchouameni holds a press conference during his official presentation as new player of Real Madrid CF at the Ciudad Real Madrid in Valdebebas, on the outskirts of Madrid, on June 14, 2022. (Photo by JAVIER SORIANO / AFP)

 

Real Madrid’s new signing Aurelien Tchouameni said Kylian Mbappe asked if he would sign for Paris Saint-Germain, as the 22-year-old was unveiled at Madrid’s training ground on Tuesday.

Madrid won the race to sign Tchouameni, one of the world’s most highly-rated midfielders, from Monaco in a deal worth around 100 million euros.

His arrival comes after Mbappe rejected Real Madrid to sign a three-year contract at PSG. Madrid have also signed Antonio Rudiger this summer, the defender joining from Chelsea on a free transfer.

“Kylian decided to stay at PSG and he already knew I was going to leave Monaco at the end of the season,” Tchouameni said in a press conference, after being introduced by Real Madrid president Florentino Perez.

“He wanted to know if I would go to PSG but I told him Real Madrid was my first choice and he understood that completely, he was very happy for me.”

Tchouameni has signed a six-year contract at Real Madrid after being linked with several of Europe’s biggest clubs, including Liverpool and Chelsea in the Premier League.

“As soon as Madrid arrived, I didn’t hesitate,” he said.

“I want to leave my mark on football and the best club for this is Real Madrid. It’s the best decision for me.”

He said Real Madrid’s sensational comebacks in the Champions League against PSG, Chelsea and Manchester City helped him make up his mind.

Madrid beat Liverpool in the final to win the club’s 14th European Cup.

“It’s true that when I watched those games I wrote to my agent and told him, ‘please do everything possible to get me to Real Madrid’,” Tchouameni said.

After breaking into the first team at Bordeaux, Tchouameni joined Monaco in 2020 and was a key player last season as they finished third in Ligue 1, behind PSG and Marseille. He was also named Young Player of the Season at the end of the 2020/21 season.

With 12 caps for France, Tchouameni will be hoping to secure his place in the starting line-up for the World Cup in Qatar in November and he said former Real Madrid star and coach Zinedine Zidane as one of his idols.

Madrid have long-relied on Luka Modric, Toni Kroos and Casemiro in midfield but all three are now in their thirties, with Tchouameni viewed as a possible successor to Casemiro.

“Since I was little I have played with two midfielders and in a 4-3-3 my position would be as a number six, but I can play as an eight as well, I can play in both positions,” he said.

Perez said Tchouameni is “one of the best midfielders in the world”. He added: “At 22 years old you were able to choose your club and you have chosen this one.”

Lewandowski And Mane Headline Transfer Window Movers To Watch

A photo combination of Lewandowski and Mane

 

Kylian Mbappe is staying at Paris Saint-Germain and Erling Haaland is on his way to Manchester City, but plenty more big-name stars are on the market as the summer transfer window opens in Europe.

AFP Sport highlights five names to follow in the coming weeks:

Robert Lewandowski (Bayern Munich)

After eight prolific seasons at Bayern, the Polish striker has decided it is time to move. Lewandowski, who will turn 34 in August, has a year still to run on his contract at the Allianz Arena but said last month that his time in Bavaria “has come to an end”.

Bayern insist Lewandowski –- who scored 50 goals for his club in the season just finished and has been the Bundesliga’s top scorer in each of the last five campaigns -– is going nowhere, with president Herbert Hainer saying “a contract is a contract”.

Yet if they don’t want to lose him for nothing they will have to sell now. Barcelona are reportedly prepared to offer him a three-year deal and it is understood the former Borussia Dortmund striker wants to go to Spain.

Sadio Mane (Liverpool)

The Senegal star’s highly successful six-season spell at Liverpool looks to be coming to an end and Bayern are keen to sign the forward, who has a year left on his contract at Anfield.

“Is it not between 60 and 70 percent of Senegalese people want me to leave Liverpool? I will do what they say,” Mane, 30, said this week while back in his home country on international duty.

READ ALSONadal Wins 14th French Open And Record-Extending 22nd Grand Slam

Yet, according to reports in England, Liverpool have rejected a bid from Bayern of £30 million ($37.6m) for Mane, who has scored 120 goals since moving to Merseyside from Southampton in 2016.

Darwin Nunez (Benfica)

In the game of transfer musical chairs, moves for Lewandowski and Mane could lead to this rising Uruguayan star heading to Liverpool. Nunez, who turns 23 this month, was this season’s top scorer in the Portuguese top flight with 26 goals for Benfica. He also netted six times in the Champions League, including in both legs of the quarter-final defeat to Liverpool.

Uruguayan international Nunez, who joined Benfica from Spanish side Almeria in 2020, has a contract in Lisbon until 2025 and will not come cheap, although England’s biggest clubs will not be put off by the asking price. Benfica want 100 million euros ($107m) according to Portuguese media reports. Manchester United are also being linked with an approach.

Paul Pogba (Manchester United)

Pogba is leaving United as his contract expires, bringing to an end an underwhelming second spell at Old Trafford to where he returned in 2016 from Juventus for a then world record fee of £89 million ($116m at the time).

The 29-year-old French World Cup winner, who has had a particularly disappointing final season in the Premier League, has been linked in the past with Real Madrid and Paris Saint-Germain -– he was born and raised in the Paris suburbs.

However, the most likely outcome seems to be a return to Juventus, where he played from 2012 to 2016. Pogba, who was a client of Mino Raiola before the super-agent died in April, is expected to sign a three-year deal in Turin worth eight million euros ($8.6m) per season.

“I just want the best for me. I am thinking, putting everything together, taking my time, and waiting for the best. I just want to play football, be myself and enjoy what I do,” Pogba said in an interview with the American site Uninterrupted.com this week. “We can be losing games or losing trophies, but you have to be happy where you are.”

Ousmane Dembele (Barcelona)

The 25-year-old France winger is out of contract at Barcelona, where his five-year spell has been blighted by injuries. The Catalans had been keen to keep a player who seemed revitalised following the appointment of Xavi Hernandez as coach at the Camp Nou this season, but talks appear to have broken down.

Sports daily Marca this week described the negotiations as a “dialogue between the deaf”. PSG have been strongly linked with a move to bring the former Rennes winger back to France, but a move to the Premier League could also be in the offing.

AFP

Mbappe Snub Leaves Real Madrid Reeling As Reality Of New World Order Sets In

Paris Saint-Germain’s French forward Kylian Mbappe poses with a jersey after the announcement he staying at PSG until 2025 before the French L1 football match between Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) and Metz at the Parc des Princes stadium in Paris on May 21, 2022. Anne-Christine POUJOULAT / AFP

 

 

Real Madrid thought they had a signing to define an era and the heir to Cristiano Ronaldo. Instead, they got humiliation and a reminder of football’s new world order, after Kylian Mbappe decided to stay at Paris Saint-Germain.

The boy who plastered posters of Ronaldo onto his bedroom walls had been applauded by Real Madrid’s fans when PSG played at the Santiago Bernabeu in the Champions League in March.

There was even a degree of appreciation for his two goals, which left Madrid on the brink of defeat. This was at least a preview, they thought, of the player that would soon belong to them.

Those expectations have been swelling for years, the protracted nature of this saga creating a longing at Real Madrid and a fanfare in the media.

The hype made Mbappe joining Madrid feel both inevitable and, at the same time, absolutely essential.

The club have been obsessed by Mbappe. The pandemic restricted spending but there has also been a method in their restraint, a building up of funds for the biggest signing of all.

Last year, Sergio Ramos and Raphael Varane were let go to reduce the wage bill while in 2020, Real went without a single summer signing for the first time in 40 years.

More recently, they stepped back from the possibility of signing Erling Haaland from Borussia Dortmund, so convinced were they that Mbappe would come. They briefly thought they could buy both. Instead, they have ended up with neither.

In the short-term, Madrid will cope. They have won La Liga this season at a canter without Mbappe and they will win the Champions League without him too if they defeat a fatigued Liverpool in Paris next Saturday.

This season they have beaten Manchester City, Chelsea, PSG, Barcelona and Atletico Madrid.

And few would say Real’s weakness is their attack. Vinicius Junior has emerged as one of the world’s most frightening wingers and Karim Benzema established himself as the clear favourite for the Ballon d’Or.

With Mbappe in the team, would Vinicius and Benzema have shone so brightly?

But the longer-term is where Real Madrid will surely feel the loss. Mbappe could have been a catalyst for change, a focal point for a new era, the kind of signing that forces a squad to update and tactics to be modernised.

Madrid’s aura and history in the Champions League always makes them an opponent to be respected, but with Mbappe they would once again have been a team to be feared.

– Blow for La Liga –
President Florentino Perez will want to put things right quickly, to restore pride and prestige. Mohamed Salah, Harry Kane, Robert Lewandowski or a sensational return for Ronaldo could all quickly move to the top of his agenda.

If he wants to sting PSG, perhaps even Ousmane Dembele, reportedly destined for Paris from Barcelona, would appeal.

A more strategic approach might be to bolster other positions, like in midfield and at full-back, where Real actually need strengthening more.

For the current players, there could well be a galvanising effect.

The concern had been that an Mbappe announcement before the Champions League final might distract but a number of pointed, although well-disguised, social media posts on Saturday suggest Madrid’s players would enjoy lifting a 14th European Cup now in Paris even more.

It would be a statement for Spanish football but La Liga, whose own relations with Madrid are hardly warm, have been hit hard by the decisions of Mbappe and Haaland to play, not just elsewhere, but for PSG and Manchester City.

“On Kylian Mbappe’s possible announcement to stay at PSG, La Liga wishes to state that this type of agreement attacks the economic stability of European football,” the league wrote in a statement on Saturday.

Amid the rise of state-backed clubs and the soaring wealth of the Premier League, Mbappe might have been an important moment of resistance, a check on the unfettered ability of those clubs to financially bulldoze the market.

For a long time, it was Real Madrid who had that power, an institution with the money and status to poach the world’s best players, even from the world’s top clubs, and there is certainly an irony in the anger now about another club throwing their weight, and money, around.

But their hurt is grounded in the wider point about what Mbappe’s decision, coming so soon after Haaland’s, really means.

Politically and financially, Real Madrid and Barcelona were for so long the top dogs in European football. Now it is the state-run clubs that rule the roost.

Mbappe In Position Of Power At PSG After Agreeing To New Deal

File photo: Paris Saint-Germain’s French forward Kylian Mbappe celebrates after scoring a third goal during the French L1 football match between Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) and Metz at the Parc des Princes stadium in Paris on May 21, 2022. Anne-Christine POUJOULAT / AFP

 

Kylian Mbappe’s decision to stay at Paris Saint-Germain confirms the Qatar-backed club’s position of power within European football but also means the superstar striker is likely to wield huge influence as they rebuild for another assault on the Champions League.

The 23-year-old had for so long seemed certain to sign for Real Madrid before being persuaded to commit to a new three-year deal at PSG, the club he joined in 2017 from Monaco.

His new salary is set to be even more eye-watering than before and accompanied by an astronomical signing-on fee: there were reports that Real’s own offer included a signing-on fee of 150 million euros ($154m).

Yet PSG will also be determined to do everything they can to provide Mbappe with a team good enough to deliver finally the trophy he wants the most, and that the Qataris have chased without success since arriving in Paris in 2011.

This season’s defeat in the last 16 to Real Madrid following a collapse in the second leg was just the latest humiliation for PSG in the Champions League, a series that most notably includes the 6-1 defeat to Barcelona in 2017.

Five years ago they reacted to that stinging loss by signing Neymar from Barcelona as well as a teenage Mbappe.

Now they have exacted revenge on Madrid by denying them Mbappe.

“I always said that Paris was my home. I hope I can carry on doing what I love most -– playing football and winning trophies,” the player said after the announcement of his new deal and before scoring a hat-trick in PSG’s 5-0 win over Metz on Saturday in their last game of the season.

Hours after that came the news that sporting director Leonardo — heavily criticised by supporters — had been fired.

Reports in France on Sunday suggested PSG may now look to replace Leonardo with Luis Campos, the Portuguese recruitment guru who helped build title-winning teams at Lille and Monaco and knows Mbappe well.

– Pochettino set to follow Leonardo –

Coach Mauricio Pochettino is also expected to leave despite delivering the club’s French record-equalling 10th league title.

“I only found out a few minutes before the official announcement,” admitted the Argentine on Saturday when asked about Mbappe’s new deal.

Pochettino has struggled to stamp his mark at PSG, although it is not clear who they might look to as a successor –- the possibility of Zinedine Zidane appears unlikely.

Then there is the team itself.

“It is a big step forward, but there is still a lot of work to be done,” admitted captain Marquinhos following Mbappe’s decision to sta.:

PSG’s recruitment of Lionel Messi has not worked out as hoped, the former Barcelona man managing just 11 goals in his first season in France.

Messi won his seventh Ballon d’Or last year but will be 35 next month, while Neymar continues to struggle with his form and fitness.

Could PSG look to offload both as they make Mbappe the undisputed figurehead of their project? And if so who would be willing and able to take Messi and Neymar off their hands?

– Too much influence? –

A sensible approach for PSG would surely be to focus more of their efforts on bringing through the best players emerging from the vast Paris region, one of the most fertile breeding grounds for footballing talent in the world.

Too many academy graduates have left PSG early in recent years. The latest France squad features Mike Maignan, Adrien Rabiot, Kingsley Coman, Moussa Diaby and Christopher Nkunku, all former PSG players who chose, or were encouraged, to depart.

Nkunku has just won the player of the year award in the Bundesliga after scoring 35 goals for RB Leipzig.

But front and centre is Mbappe, the World Cup winner from the northern Paris suburb of Bondy who finished the season with 39 goals.

There is arguably no more thrilling sight in modern football than Mbappe running at full speed at an opposition defence. His pace is astonishing. He is a voracious goal-scorer and the player expected to dominate the sport for years to come.

And as Pochettino remarked: “Kylian really identifies with this city.”

The prospect of winning a first Champions League with his hometown team will be an enticing one for Mbappe, but giving one player such power is a risk.

“The danger is that PSG become Mbappe FC,” said France 1998 World Cup winner Bixente Lizarazu, speaking on television show Telefoot.

“They need to try not to have this rock-star policy. They need to build a collective.”

Mbappe In Position Of Power At PSG After Agreeing To New Deal

Paris Saint-Germain’s French forward Kylian Mbappe poses with a jersey after the announcement he staying at PSG until 2025 before the French L1 football match between Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) and Metz at the Parc des Princes stadium in Paris on May 21, 2022.
Anne-Christine POUJOULAT / AFP

 

Kylian Mbappe’s decision to stay at Paris Saint-Germain confirms the Qatar-backed club’s position of power within European football but also means the superstar striker is likely to wield huge influence as they rebuild for another assault on the Champions League.

The 23-year-old had for so long seemed certain to sign for Real Madrid before being persuaded to commit to a new three-year deal at PSG, the club he joined in 2017 from Monaco.

His new salary is set to be even more eye-watering than before and accompanied by an astronomical signing-on fee: there were reports that Real’s own offer included a signing-on fee of 150 million euros ($154m).

Yet PSG will also be determined to do everything they can to provide Mbappe with a team good enough to deliver finally the trophy he wants the most, and that the Qataris have chased without success since arriving in Paris in 2011.

This season’s defeat in the last 16 to Real Madrid following a collapse in the second leg was just the latest humiliation for PSG in the Champions League, a series that most notably includes the 6-1 defeat to Barcelona in 2017.

Five years ago they reacted to that stinging loss by signing Neymar from Barcelona as well as a teenage Mbappe.

Now they have exacted revenge on Madrid by denying them Mbappe.

“I always said that Paris was my home. I hope I can carry on doing what I love most -– playing football and winning trophies,” the player said after the announcement of his new deal and before scoring a hat-trick in PSG’s 5-0 win over Metz on Saturday in their last game of the season.

Hours after that came the news that sporting director Leonardo — heavily criticised by supporters — had been fired.

Reports in France on Sunday suggested PSG may now look to replace Leonardo with Luis Campos, the Portuguese recruitment guru who helped build title-winning teams at Lille and Monaco and knows Mbappe well.

– Pochettino set to follow Leonardo –
Coach Mauricio Pochettino is also expected to leave despite delivering the club’s French record-equalling 10th league title.

“I only found out a few minutes before the official announcement,” admitted the Argentine on Saturday when asked about Mbappe’s new deal.

Pochettino has struggled to stamp his mark at PSG, and although it is not clear who they might look to as a successor –- the possibility of Zinedine Zidane appears unlikely.

Then there is the team itself.

“It is a big step forward, but there is still a lot of work to be done,” admitted captain Marquinhos following Mbappe’s decision to sta.:

PSG’s recruitment of Lionel Messi has not worked out as hoped, the former Barcelona man managing just 11 goals in his first season in France.

Messi won his seventh Ballon d’Or last year but will be 35 next month, while Neymar continues to struggle with his form and fitness.

Could PSG look to offload both as they make Mbappe the undisputed figurehead of their project? And if so who would be willing and able to take Messi and Neymar off their hands?

– Too much influence? –
A sensible approach for PSG would surely be to focus more of their efforts on bringing through the best players emerging from the vast Paris region, one of the most fertile breeding grounds for footballing talent in the world.

Too many academy graduates have left PSG early in recent years. The latest France squad features Mike Maignan, Adrien Rabiot, Kingsley Coman, Moussa Diaby, and Christopher Nkunku, all former PSG players who chose or were encouraged, to depart.

Nkunku has just won the player of the year award in the Bundesliga after scoring 35 goals for RB Leipzig.

But front and centre is Mbappe, the World Cup winner from the northern Paris suburb of Bondy who finished the season with 39 goals.

There is arguably no more thrilling sight in modern football than Mbappe running at full speed at an opposition defence. His pace is astonishing. He is a voracious goal-scorer and the player expected to dominate the sport for years to come.

And as Pochettino remarked: “Kylian really identifies with this city.”

The prospect of winning a first Champions League with his hometown team will be an enticing one for Mbappe, but giving one player such power is a risk.

“The danger is that PSG become Mbappe FC,” said France 1998 World Cup winner Bixente Lizarazu, speaking on the television show Telefoot.

“They need to try not to have this rock-star policy. They need to build a collective.”

PSG Hold Out Hope Over Mbappe Future In Title Run-In

Paris Saint-Germain’s French forward Kylian Mbappe gestures during a training session at the Camp des Loges Paris Saint-Germain football club’s training ground in Saint-Germain-en-Laye on April 8, 2022.
FRANCK FIFE / AFP

 

 

Paris Saint-Germain remain hopeful that Kylian Mbappe will sign a new contract to stay at the club with just eight games left this season before his existing deal expires.

Despite all the speculation that he will join Real Madrid as a free agent, the France superstar has insisted that his mind is not yet made up between moving to the Spanish capital and remaining in Paris.

“I haven’t made my choice. I haven’t taken my decision, I’m thinking it over, there are new elements and there are loads of factors,” Mbappe said last weekend after two goals and a hat-trick of assists in a 5-1 demolition of Lorient.

It was the latest world-class display from the 23-year-old who has scored 28 goals this season in all competitions and is Ligue 1’s top assist-provider with 13.

Amid rumours about the astronomical sums that PSG are prepared to offer Mbappe to stay, along with perhaps the captain’s armband and a say in transfer policy, there was good news for the Qatar-owned club from UEFA this week.

European football’s governing body announced new regulations to replace its existing financial fair play rules, but said a cap that limits spending on wages and transfers to 70 percent of total revenues will not come in until 2025.

Meanwhile clubs will be allowed to report losses of 60 million euros ($65.5m) over three years rather than 30 million euros previously, all of which appears to offer PSG more room to break the bank for their star player.

“Kylian will give a better answer than me, but PSG and me as coach all want the best for Kylian and the best for the club,” boss Mauricio Pochettino said on Friday ahead of his team’s trip to relegation-threatened Clermont.

“We think the best thing for the club is that Kylian stays.”

Pochettino added that Mbappe could be given the armband in Clermont with regular skipper Marquinhos rested following the birth of his daughter during the week.

The Brazilian’s absence could also open the door for Sergio Ramos to make a rare start in an injury-plagued season.

All PSG have left to play for in an anti-climactic end to the season is making sure they wrap up the title.

They are 12 points clear of Marseille with eight games left and host their bitter rivals next weekend and so should have an eighth championship in 10 years secured by the end of the month.

Player to watch: Tete
The 22-year-old Brazilian winger joined Lyon until the end of the season after being allowed to leave Shakhtar Donetsk due to the war in Ukraine. Tete, who played in all six Champions League group games for Shakhtar earlier this season, enjoyed a dream debut for his new club, coming off the bench and scoring with just his third touch against Angers last weekend.

He played the role of super-sub again on Thursday, helping set up the equaliser within two minutes of coming off the bench in Lyon’s 1-1 Europa League draw with West Ham United.

“Tete is a special player who I have known for a long time,” said Lyon coach Peter Bosz after signing the ex-Gremio player who will hope to make an impact again at Strasbourg on Sunday.

Key stats
30 – Kylian Mbappe has scored or set up a total of 30 Ligue 1 goals this season. That is 47 percent of PSG’s overall tally of 64.

18 – The number of goals scored by Ligue 1’s leading marksman, Wissam Ben Yedder of Monaco

5 – The number of points separating the bottom five teams in the table. The bottom two, Bordeaux and Metz, play each other this weekend while Lorient in 16th host 18th-placed Saint-Etienne.

Fixtures (all times GMT)

Friday

Lorient v Saint-Etienne (1900)

Saturday

Reims v Rennes (1500), Clermont v Paris Saint-Germain (1900)

Sunday

Bordeaux v Metz (1100), Angers v Lille, Brest v Nantes, Monaco v Troyes (all 1300), Lens v Nice (1505), Strasbourg v Lyon (1700), Marseille v Montpellier (1900

Messi Absent As PSG Suffer Worst Defeat Of The Season

Monaco’s French forward Wissam Ben Yedder (unseen) celebrates with teammates after scoring a penalty during the French L1 football match between AS Monaco and Paris Saint Germain (PSG) at the Louis II Stadium (Stade Louis II) in the Principality of Monaco on March 20, 2022. CLEMENT MAHOUDEAU / AFP

 

Paris Saint-Germain were beaten 3-0 at Monaco on Sunday after a Wissam Ben Yedder double strike, as Neymar and Kylian Mbappe were both booked in a feisty Ligue 1 encounter. It was the club’s worst defeat this season.

PSG remain 15 points clear of second-placed Marseille at the top of Ligue 1 after the fourth league defeat of the season for Mauricio Pochettino’s men, who have been shaken since being dumped out of the Champions League by Real Madrid.

Nice can close the gap to 12 points if they beat Marseille in Sunday’s late Ligue 1 game.

Monaco captain Ben Yedder is now Ligue 1’s top scorer with 18 goals after his 25th-minute tap-in from a rebound, and an 84th-minute penalty.

Ben Yedder also helped in the build-up for German striker Kevin Volland’s goal for Monaco, making it 2-0 on 68 minutes in what was the real turning point of the game as PSG began to chase.

Mbappe and Neymar started for PSG and had a string of opportunities as the visitors enjoyed the lion’s share of possession.

READ ALSO: Barcelona’s ‘Doors Are Open’ To Messi – Xavi

Monaco’s German forward Kevin Volland (C) celebrates with Monaco’s French midfielder Aurelien Tchouameni (C-R) after scoring the second goal during the French L1 football match between AS Monaco and Paris Saint Germain (PSG) at the Louis II Stadium (Stade Louis II) in the Principality of Monaco on March 20, 2022. Valery HACHE / AFP

 

Mbappe said the bitterness of the Champions League defeat earlier this month was still felt at the club.

“We could win 8-0 and nobody would care, they’d just be thinking about the Champions League,” he said.

“We need to remain professional, think of our families,” said Mbappe, who was full of praise for his old club.

“They are a great team, playing in European competition,” said the 23-year-old.

PSG captain Marquinhos described the defeat as a wake-up call.

“If we carry on like that the title will be in danger. We have been warned,” he said.

“We came here to win and have fun, but that was a catastrophe.”

PSG coach Mauricio Pochettino said it was time his players picked themselves up.

“On a sporting level, that was shameful. We have to get over the disappointment of being eliminated from the Champions League,” the Argentine said.

Monaco’s Belgian coach Philippe Clement can also thank his goalkeeper Alexander Nuebel, who made important saves from Mbappe, Neymar, and the marauding Moroccan Achraf Hakimi.

AFP

First 11: Ex-Nigerian Player Turns Bus Driver + Biggest Sports Stories This Week

 

 

Another action-packed week is rolling by and sports fans will look back to relish the beautiful and at other times, sad memories of the past seven days. 

Like previous editions, First 11, captures some of these moments, helping you make sense of the ever-busy sporting world!

Olympic Gold Medallist Turns Taxi Driver

Obiekwu played alongside former Arsenal star, Kanu Nwankwo. [email protected]://twitter.com/EmedosiN

 

Former Nigerian defender, Kingsley Obiekwu, made headlines during the week after news broke that he had become a taxi driver. Obiekwu was part of the U-23 side that won Africa’s first football gold medal at the 1996 Atlanta Games.  Social media was on meltdown as the news made it to the internet. Many lamented the current state of the former defender.

In the wake of the discovery, Super Eagles skipper, Ahmed Musa, reportedly donated N2m to the ex-player who now lives in Enugu State. The Olympic gold medallist said he opened up on his condition so he could get help. Aside from Kanu Nwankwo, Obiekwu said he has had limited interactions with his former teammates. According to him, he picked up the driving job to augment his football management duties.

FG Settles Athletes

Enoch Adegoke and Usheoritse Itsekiri

 

Earlier in the week, the Federal Government paid the medical bills of two athletes injured during the Olympic Games last year. Enoch Adegoke and Usheoritse Itsekiri suffered hamstring injuries while competing at the Games. The Federal Ministry of Youth and Sports Development confirmed the payment of two million, one hundred and seventy thousand naira each to the athletes.

Okagbare Banned

Blessing Okagbare tests positive for human growth hormone and EPO that forces her to pull out of the Tokyo Olympics
A file photo taken on July 30, 2021, shows Nigeria’s Blessing Okagbare at the Olympic Stadium in Tokyo on July 30, 2021. Jewel SAMAD / AFP

 

But there was also bad news for the country’s athletics as the Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU) slammed a 10-year ban on 2008 long jump silver medallist, Blessing Okagbare.

“The Disciplinary Tribunal has banned Nigerian sprinter Blessing Okagbare for a total of 10 years,” the AIU said.

The 33-year-old was earlier expelled from the 2020 Olympics. The dismissal was just before the women’s 100m semi-finals after she tested positive for human growth hormone at an out-of-competition test in Slovakia on July 19.

D’Tigress Seals World Cup Qualification

The Nigerian girls are the African champions. Photo: FIBA.

 

But the female basketball team gave Nigerians more reasons to cheer after they sealed their qualification for the 2022 World Cup. The D’Tigress defeated Mali in their final qualification game on Sunday to hoist the country’s flag at the championship billed for September in Australia.

The Nigerian side had bounced back from defeat to China in their first game before stunning France to keep their qualification hopes alive in Belgrade, Serbia.

A ‘Non-Negotiable’ Deal

Nigeria take on Ghana for the World Cup playoff. Credit: [email protected] Pinnick.

 

The Super Eagles are also aiming to replicate the D’Tigress feat when they take on Ghana in a 2022 World Cup play-off next month.

During a meeting with UK-based players, the President of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF), Amaju Pinnick, maintained that qualification for the tournament is sacrosanct.  The football chief, who visited the players alongside the coaching crew, assured that the NFF will support the team in their quest for a ticket to Qatar later in the year. The players also expressed optimism that the three-time African champions will make it to the competition.

Mbappe Steals Show

Paris Saint-Germain's French forward Kylian Mbappe (C) shoots and scores a goal during the UEFA Champions League round of 16 first leg football match between Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) and Real Madrid at the Parc des Princes stadium in Paris on February 15, 2022. Alain JOCARD / AFP
Paris Saint-Germain’s French forward Kylian Mbappe (C) shoots and scores a goal during the UEFA Champions League round of 16 first leg football match between Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) and Real Madrid at the Parc des Princes stadium in Paris on February 15, 2022. Alain JOCARD / AFP

 

Moving away from Nigeria, the UEFA Champions League returned midweek as Paris Saint-Germain (PSG)’s game with Real Madrid headlined the latest round of matches. Youngster, Kyrian Mbappe, stole the show in Paris, outshining Lionel Messi as the French team defeated the former European champions. Mbappe grabbed a late winner in the last 16 tie as the clash ended one nil in PSG’s favour.

Barcelona’s Struggle Continue

Barcelona's Spanish defender Gerard Pique (L) vies with Napoli's Nigeria's forward Victor Osimhen during the Europa League football match between FC Barcelona and SSC Napoli at the Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona on February 17, 2022. Josep LAGO / AFP
Barcelona’s Spanish defender Gerard Pique (L) vies with Napoli’s Nigeria’s forward Victor Osimhen during the Europa League football match between FC Barcelona and SSC Napoli at the Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona on February 17, 2022. Josep LAGO / AFP

 

After Mbappe’s masterclass, attention turned to the Europa League where Barcelona and Napoli battled for supremacy. The Catalan’s poor run, however, continued as they struggled to hold the Italian side to a 1-1 draw at the Nou Camp. Thursday’s draw will be a major concern for Xavi who is rebuilding the team following the departure of Messi.

Manchester United’s Captaincy Row

A file photo of Manchester United’s Captain, Harry Maguire and Cristiano Ronaldo

 

Former winners of the competition, Manchester United, are in the news over a captaincy row between Cristiano Ronaldo and Harry Maguire. Multiple reports had suggested that the duo is at loggerheads over the team’s leadership. Interim coach, Ralf Rangnick, is, however, not ready to stripe the England international of the armband despite calls for that. The player himself dismissed reports of a dressing room row at the Old Trafford.

Robinho’s Wanted!

Italy's highest court has upheld former Brazil forward Robinho's nine-year sentence for the gang rape of a young woman
Photo Credit: Gistmattaz

 

On Wednesday, Italian authorities issued an international arrest warrant for former Brazillian player, Robinho. The move followed the confirmation of the former AC Milan player’s conviction for rape. The Italian Ministry of Justice has also asked Interpol to enact the warrant.

A Milan court had in 2017 found Robinho and five other Brazilians guilty of gang-raping a lady after plying her with alcohol in a discotheque. The conviction was confirmed by an appeals court in 2020 and validated by Italy’s Supreme Court in January. Brazil, however, does not extradite its nationals, meaning the former Manchester City star faces arrest when he leaves his country.

Djokovic Eyes Comeback

In this file photo, Novak Djokovic of Serbia takes part in a practice session ahead of the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne on January 13, 2022. Mike FREY / AFP

 

Serbian star, Novak Djokovic, is eager to return to the court and is eyeing a comeback in Dubai. The World number one was at the centre of a vaccine row which pushed him out from defending his Australian Open crown.

Djokovic, who was deported from Australia over his vaccination status and toured the Serbian pavilion at Dubai Expo, said he missed the game.

“I am excited to go back and play on Monday,” he said, referring to the Dubai ATP tournament during brief remarks to the media. “I miss tennis after all that has happened.”

West Ham Drop Zouma

West Ham United’s French defender Kurt Zouma warms up ahead of the English Premier League football match between West Ham and Watford at the London Stadium, in London on February 8, 2022. Glyn KIRK / AFP

 

In England, West Ham coach, David Moyes, said Kurt Zouma was dropped for the 2-2 draw with Everton due to illness. The defender was listed in the squad for the clash despite criticisms over a viral video showing him abusing his cat. West Ham had earlier fined the player for the act, days after the former Chelsea player apologised for the incident.

‘Unstoppable’ Mbappe Underlines Value To PSG, Leaves Messi In Shade

Paris Saint-Germain's French forward Kylian Mbappe (C) shoots and scores a goal during the UEFA Champions League round of 16 first leg football match between Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) and Real Madrid at the Parc des Princes stadium in Paris on February 15, 2022. Alain JOCARD / AFP
Paris Saint-Germain’s French forward Kylian Mbappe (C) shoots and scores a goal during the UEFA Champions League round of 16 first leg football match between Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) and Real Madrid at the Parc des Princes stadium in Paris on February 15, 2022. Alain JOCARD / AFP

 

Kylian Mbappe’s importance to Paris Saint-Germain was all too evident long before his stoppage-time strike gave them a narrow win over Real Madrid in the first leg of their Champions League showdown on Tuesday and left them on course for a place in the quarter-finals.

It is understood that PSG rejected an offer worth up to 180 million euros ($204m) from Real in August for Mbappe, despite the France World Cup-winning striker being in the final year of his contract.

They wanted at least one more season with Mbappe at the Parc des Princes knowing that, even with Lionel Messi and Neymar there too, he is the man they need if they are finally to win a first Champions League title since the Qatari takeover of 2011.

READ ALSO: Mbappe Strikes Late To Give PSG Edge Over Real Madrid

Mbappe is still expected to leave at the end of the campaign for Real, the club who have tracked him since he was a teenager but who are now in danger of going out of the Champions League after his last-gasp winner.

The last-16 first leg in the French capital was still goalless in the fourth and final minute of injury time when the 23-year-old Mbappe burst into the box and finished through the legs of Real goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois.

That gave PSG a 1-0 victory that even Real coach Carlo Ancelotti admitted was deserved after a game dominated by the home side.

Mbappe had the Ligue 1 leaders’ best chance of the first half and forced a good save from Courtois early in the second half before winning a penalty just past the hour mark when he was fouled by Dani Carvajal.

Messi took the spot-kick only for Courtois to save, but Mbappe kept tormenting the Real defence and eventually got his reward, confirming why the Spanish giants are so desperate to secure his signature.

“I have been working with him for just over a year now and you could see tonight just how good a player he is,” said PSG coach Mauricio Pochettino.

Ancelotti described him as “unstoppable” and Real risk being exposed by his terrifying pace on the break as they chase the tie in the return in three weeks.

 Speculation over future 

Mbappe’s late strike against Real came four days after he also scored a last-minute winner in a Ligue 1 game against Rennes.

He now has 22 goals this season in all competitions, while PSG’s second-top scorer is Messi with seven.

Indeed Mbappe — Ligue 1’s top scorer in the last three seasons — has four more goals than Messi, Mauro Icardi, Angel Di Maria and Neymar combined in the current campaign.

For all the outstanding talent around him, he is the man who makes the difference and PSG’s Qatari president, Nasser al-Khelaifi, can only hope a victory in the tie might persuade the one-time Monaco prodigy to sign a new contract.

“Too many questions are asked and too many things are said,” Mbappe insisted when asked about the ongoing speculation over his future.

“The truth is that we are talking about Paris Saint-Germain and Real Madrid, two big clubs. I am a PSG player and I am still really happy.

“I said I would give everything here. I had to come out and prove it. I did it this first time and now I need to do it a second time at the Bernabeu.”

In contrast, Messi is struggling to reproduce his Barcelona form and he failed from the spot.

The Argentine, who won his seventh Ballon d’Or last year, has missed five of the 23 penalties he has taken in the Champions League.

He has scored just twice in Ligue 1 this season and two of his five Champions League goals so far came in an inconsequential group game against Club Brugge.

Meanwhile, Neymar made his return as a substitute after two and a half months out with an ankle injury and helped set up Mbappe’s late goal with a crafty backheel pass.

There is plenty more to come from the world’s most expensive player if he can just stay fit, but Mbappe holds the key to European glory and both PSG and Real know it.

AFP

Mbappe Future Focuses All Attention As PSG Face Real Madrid

File photo:  Paris Saint-Germain’s French forward Kylian Mbappe reacts during the French L1 football match between Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) and Stade Brestois 29 at the Parc des Princes stadium in Paris on January 15, 2022. (Photo by Thomas COEX / AFP)

 

As Paris Saint-Germain prepare to face Real Madrid in the Champions League, the French club hope a victory in the tie could yet help convince Kylian Mbappe to stay rather than move to the Spanish capital.

The clock continues to tick down on the World Cup-winning striker’s contract in Paris which expires in June, five years after he joined his hometown team from Monaco in a 180 million-euro ($204m) deal.

It is understood PSG turned down an equivalent offer from Real last August to keep Mbappe for at least one more season and team him up in attack with Lionel Messi and Neymar.

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That seemed to prove money is no object for the Qatar-owned club, but it appears that all the money in the world may not be enough to convince Mbappe, now 23, to stay at the Parc des Princes.

Real’s pursuit of the France star goes back to when he was a young teenager and they invited him and his parents to take in a game at the Santiago Bernabeu, having Zinedine Zidane meet him at their training ground.

He opted to sign for Monaco then, and he chose PSG in 2017 despite again being linked with Real, yet an eventual move to Madrid has always seemed inevitable.

Mbappe has been the top scorer in Ligue 1 in the last three seasons and despite the arrival of Messi, he has remained PSG’s most decisive player by a distance in this campaign.

On Friday, he scored the winner against Rennes to move on to 21 goals for the season, more than Messi, Neymar, Angel Di Maria, and Mauro Icardi put together.

“He is already one of the greatest players in PSG’s history,” captain Marquinhos told broadcaster TF1. When asked if he had tried to convince Mbappe to stay, he added: “Of course.”

No Decision Taken 

File photo: Paris Saint-Germain’s French forward Kylian Mbappe runs on the pitch during the French L1 football match between Stade de Reims and Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) at Stade Auguste Delaune in Reims, northern France on August 29, 2021. FRANCK FIFE / AFP

 

In Paris, they are clinging to the hope Mbappe could change his mind if Mauricio Pochettino’s team beat Madrid in their Champions League last-16 tie, with the first leg at the Parc des Princes on Tuesday to be followed by the return in Spain on March 9.

“I have not made my decision,” Mbappe told Amazon Prime last week.

“The fact we are playing against Real Madrid changes a lot of things.

“Even though I am free to do so, I am not going to go and talk to our opponents. I am focused on beating Real Madrid and then we will see.”

Mbappe has won every domestic honour with PSG several times over but has not been able to win the Champions League, coming closest in 2020 when they lost the final to Bayern Munich.

Pochettino, though, played down the significance of the clash with Real in terms of Mbappe’s career.

“I don’t think such an important decision could come down to one match or one tie,” he told Spanish radio station Cadena Ser.

“He has lots of people around him who I am sure are advising him in the best way. He will make a decision after the tie.”

It is a pivotal moment for PSG. This season has simply confirmed that, while a 34-year-old Messi is on the wane and Neymar remains plagued by injury, Mbappe represents the future.

Real Seek New Talisman 

A loss to Real, followed by Mbappe confirming his departure would feel like a humiliation for a club still chasing elusive Champions League glory, 11 years on from the Qatar Sports Investments takeover.

Meanwhile, regardless of the outcome of this tie, Madrid need a new talisman.

Karim Benzema is 34 and Luka Modric will soon be 37, while Gareth Bale and Eden Hazard have been increasingly sidelined under Carlo Ancelotti.

Vinicius Junior is now confirming his potential and adding Mbappe in attack is a mouth-watering prospect.

Since their splurge on Hazard in 2019, Real have been quiet in the transfer market with some believing the club has not only been absorbing the financial consequences of the pandemic but also saving funds for their Mbappe pursuit.

Money has also been directed towards renovating the Bernabeu, and Real would love to have Mbappe spearheading a new-look team in a new-look stadium.

AFP

Mbappe Not Affected By Uncertain Future, Says Pochettino

File photo: Paris Saint-Germain’s French forward Kylian Mbappe runs on the pitch during the French L1 football match between Stade de Reims and Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) at Stade Auguste Delaune in Reims, northern France on August 29, 2021. FRANCK FIFE / AFP

 

Paris Saint-Germain coach Mauricio Pochettino said on Sunday that there would be “no problem” with Kylian Mbappe being affected by speculation over his future.

The World Cup winner’s PSG deal ends in June, with the 23-year-old now free to sign a pre-contract agreement with another club.

Mbappe will be able to leave on a free transfer before next season unless PSG can persuade him to sign a new contract at the Parc des Princes.

“In football, a player can be affected by his contractual situation if he is not mature enough,” Pochettino said ahead of Monday’s French Cup tie against Vannes.

“Kylian has the necessary maturity. That’s not a problem.”

READ ALSOI Am Unhappy At Chelsea, Lukaku Drops Bombshell

PSG have for several months been attempting to convince Mbappe to stay, but no agreement has been reached and Real Madrid are favourites to secure his signature.

“Like everyone else, we hope he can continue at the club for a long time. It is a decision for both sides,” said Pochettino.

“For this year, I hope he will show the performance he had last year, and that the solution will be positive for everyone.”

Mbappe has scored 15 goals in 24 appearances in all competitions for PSG this season.

AFP

FULL LIST: Mbappe, Ronaldo, Chelsea + All Winners At 2021 Globe Soccer Awards

globe-soccer-award-winners-2021
Mbappe had a sterling year with club and country.

 

French forward Kylian Mbappe has won the Best Men’s Player of the Year at the Dubai Globe Soccer Awards on Monday.

The 23-year-old Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) star scooped the prize in a ceremony at the Armani Hotel.

He beat six-time winner Cristiano Ronaldo; Lionel Messi, Mohamed Salah, Karim Benzema, and Lewandowski to the award.

“It is a big achievement for me. I want to say thank you to my club Paris Saint-Germain, who believed in me these past five years, even better this season,” he said after he was handed the award.

“To my national team; to all the people who nobody knows who work with me, who help me a lot; to my family, they are there with me, always with me.”


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Last season, Mbappe scored 27 to emerge as the highest goalscorer in Ligue 1 although his form did not stop PSG from finishing as runners-up to Lille.

Mbappe also helped France win the UEFA Nation’s League.

Aside from him, other winners at the 12th edition of the awards include Cristiano Ronaldo, Robert Lewandowski, and Ronaldinho.

Globe Soccer Awards 2021 Winners 

Below is a full list of winners at the Globe Soccer Awards 2021

Fan’s Player of the Year – Robert Lewandowski

Men’s Player of the Year – Kylian Mbappe

Maradona Award – Robert Lewandowski

Top Scorer of All Time – Cristiano Ronaldo

Best National Team of the Year – Italy

Best Agent of the Year – Federico Pastorello

Best Sporting Director of the Year – Txiki Begiristain

Best Men’s Club of the Year – Chelsea

Best Defender of the Year – Leonardo Bonucci

Best Goalkeeper of the Year – Gianluigi Donnarumma

Women’s Club of the Year – Barcelona

Women’s Player of the Year – Alexia Putellas

Innovation Award – Serie A

Best eSports Player of the Year – Msdossary7

Best Youth Academy in Africa – ZED FC