Atletico Troubles Bring Fresh Scrutiny On Simeone Ahead Of Porto Decider

Diego Simeone, Atletico, Rostav
Diego Simeone

 

“There are two responses,” Diego Simeone said after Atletico Madrid lost to Mallorca on Saturday in La Liga, four days before needing to win away at Porto in the Champions League — “depression or rebellion.”

Only a victory will do in Portugal otherwise Atletico will go out in the group stage for only the second time under Simeone, who has problems domestically as well. After 15 games, Atletico are fourth, 10 points behind Real Madrid.

Simeone has heard it before, the questions about his methods and relevance, and whether he is still a force for good at Atletico Madrid, who only six months ago were celebrating winning the Spanish title in a car park at Real Valladolid.

More broadly, Simeone is rightly revered for transforming an also-ran team in La Liga into an established member of Europe’s aristocracy.

Later this month, it will be exactly a decade since Simeone took over with Atletico 10th in the table and having not finished in the top three for 16 years, except for when they once finished first, in the second division.

In nine complete seasons under Simeone, they have never been out of La Liga’s top three.

They have broken the Barcelona-Real Madrid duopoly to win La Liga twice and come within a whisker of two Champions League triumphs, denied only by Sergio Ramos in the 93rd minute and Cristiano Ronaldo in a penalty shoot-out.

It remains highly likely the years immediately after Simeone eventually leaves Atletico will be worse than those that went before.

When Simeone called on Saturday for “rebellion” against Porto, it was a familiar reflex for a coach who in a crisis looks to the psychological elements, demanding more work, concentration, focus, fight and togetherness.

It is why the failures this season have been particularly jarring for an Atletico team so renowned for their discipline and defence.

Atletico suddenly look like a side with a soft-centre, vulnerable at set-pieces and fragile in key moments.

“Sometimes it’s difficult to find solutions for things that happen repeatedly,” Simeone said after Mallorca scored twice in the last 10 minutes to win 2-1.

“With two shots on goal they scored two goals and that can’t happen.”

– Decline –

One factor is personnel, a signing not adequately replacing a sale and when that happens repeatedly, the quality can be quickly reduced. Felipe and Mario Hermoso are among those to have struggled defensively this season.

There has been a shift in emphasis as well, a renewed focus on the attack, where Atletico now boast one of the most exiting rosters in Europe.

Antoine Griezmann’s return on loan last summer was an opportunity too good to turn down but finding a way to suit any combination of Griezmann, Luis Suarez, Joao Felix and Angel Correa is a problem still being resolved.

Despite the protestations of Jurgen Klopp and others, Atletico are no longer the Atletico of old.

Even if defence remains the priority, they are better to watch, attack more freely and score more goals but as a result, they are also leakier at the back and easier to beat.

Yet the bigger issue is whether the increasing regularity of Atletico’s dips suggest Simeone’s time at the apex of European coaching has now passed.

It is credit to him that he has outlasted other prominent defence-first coaches like Jose Mourinho and Rafael Benitez but the most coveted tacticians are now proponents of a different style, of front-foot football based on pressing and possession.

Atletico’s decline in the Champions League is clear. Since reaching the final in 2016, their yearly stage of exit reads semi-final, group stage, last 16, quarter-final, last 16.

In the last three years, they have been outplayed by Klopp’s Lverpool, Thomas Tuchel’s Chelsea and Borussia Dortmund under Lucien Favre.

Even domestically, this current slump is not a one-off. They were treading water for most of the second half of last season, winning only six games out of 16 between February and April.

They got over the line with four wins out of five in May, two of them with late goals.

It was another example of Atletico’s enduring grit in the face of adversity and Simeone’s mastery at generating solidarity and resilience.

Atletico will believe that same sense of “rebellion” can turn the tide against Porto, another revival still in their grasp. The deeper decline could be harder to reverse.

Chelsea Vs Man City: Champions League Final Moved From Istanbul To Porto

Chelsea to play Champions League final in Porto with fans after late UEFA switch.

 

 

UEFA announced on Thursday that the Champions League final between Manchester City and Chelsea had been moved from Istanbul to Porto.

The match on May 29 has been switched to the Estadio do Dragao to allow English spectators to attend as travel between the UK and Turkey is suspended because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Earlier, European football’s governing body announced up to 6,000 supporters from each club will be able to attend.

“We accept that the decision of the British Government to place Turkey on the red list for travel was taken in good faith and in the best interests of protecting its citizens from the spread of the virus but it also presented us with a major challenge in staging a final featuring two English teams,” UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin said in a statement.

“After the year that fans have endured, it is not right that they don’t have the chance to watch their teams in the biggest game of the season,” he added.

UK citizens returning from red list countries are required to quarantine at a government-approved hotel for 10 days.

Earlier this week, newspaper reports claimed the match would be played at Wembley Stadium.

Supporters groups from the Blues and City had requested the game be moved to England.

The UK’s Transport secretary Grant Shapps said he would have welcomed the fixture being played in London.

“The difficulties of moving the final are great and the FA and the authorities made every effort to try to stage the match in England and I would like to thank them for their work in trying to make it happen,” Ceferin said.

UEFA said coronavirus rules in the UK made it difficult to hold the fixture in the English capital.

“UEFA discussed moving the match to England but, despite exhaustive efforts on the part of the Football Association and the authorities, it was not possible to achieve the necessary exemptions from UK quarantine arrangements,” it said.

The final capacity at the ground in northern Portugal is still to be set.

Last season’s final as well as a ‘Final 8’ tournament for the quarter-finals were also held in Portugal, but in the capital Lisbon.

“Once again we have turned to our friends in Portugal to help both UEFA and the Champions League and I am, as always, very grateful to the FPF (Portuguese Football Association) and the Portuguese Government for agreeing to stage the match at such short notice,” Ceferin said.

The last round of the country’s top-flight Primeira Liga will see spectators return to stadia on May 19, with a limited number of people permitted, the league said on Wednesday.

Champions League: Chelsea Edge Porto To Reach Semi-Final, First Time Since 2014

Chelsea's English midfielder Mason Mount (L) challenges FC Porto's Portuguese midfielder Wilson Manafa during the UEFA Champions League quarter final second leg football match between Chelsea and Porto at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan stadium in Seville on April 13, 2021 CRISTINA QUICLER / AFP
Chelsea’s English midfielder Mason Mount (L) challenges FC Porto’s Portuguese midfielder Wilson Manafa during the UEFA Champions League quarter final second leg football match between Chelsea and Porto at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan stadium in Seville on April 13, 2021
CRISTINA QUICLER / AFP

 

Chelsea reached the Champions League semi-finals for the first time since 2014 despite a 1-0 defeat against Porto in Tuesday’s quarter-final second leg in Seville.

Thomas Tuchel’s side will play Real Madrid or Liverpool for a place in the final after producing a masterclass in game management to win 2-1 on aggregate.

Real travel to Anfield on Wednesday looking to protect a 3-1 lead from the first leg.

They could do worse than copy Tuchel’s tactics as Chelsea smothered Porto with an intelligent defensive approach until Mehdi Taremi’s stunning bicycle kick in the last minute of stoppage-time.

That sublime strike was out of character with the rest of Porto’s display as they laboured to overturn the 2-0 first-leg deficit.

Chelsea have lost only once in 18 matches since Tuchel replaced the sacked Frank Lampard in January and this was another feather in the German’s cap.

Tuchel had admitted this week was a make or break period for Chelsea.

They passed the first test with ease and can now focus on Saturday’s FA Cup semi-final against Premier League leaders Manchester City at Wembley.

The Blues are fifth in the Premier League as they chase a top-four finish, meaning they might need to win the Champions League for the first time since 2012 if they are to qualify for next season’s competition.

Led by the astute Tuchel, who took Paris Saint-Germain to the Champions League final last season, that lofty ambition can’t be ruled out.

Tuchel this week said he wouldn’t want to fight Antonio Rudiger or Cesar Azpilicueta, such is the ferocious will to win coursing through Chelsea’s most vocal players.

Both defenders lived up to Tuchel’s billing as they fought tooth and nail to keep Porto at bay in a niggly clash.

Chelsea cruise

Mason Mount had scored Chelsea’s opening goal in the first leg and he was inches away from netting again when his long-range drive was deflected over.

Chelsea goalkeeper Edouard Mendy gifted Porto a golden opportunity for a priceless early goal when his miscued pass went straight to Jesus Corona inside the penalty area.

But Corona couldn’t keep his composure and Jorginho did enough to ensure the shot flashed wide.

Chelsea's English defender Ben Chilwell (2R) congratulates FC Porto's Iranian forward Mehdi Taremi after the UEFA Champions League quarter final second leg football match between Chelsea and Porto at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan stadium in Seville on April 13, 2021. CRISTINA QUICLER / AFP
Chelsea’s English defender Ben Chilwell (2R) congratulates FC Porto’s Iranian forward Mehdi Taremi after the UEFA Champions League quarter final second leg football match between Chelsea and Porto at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan stadium in Seville on April 13, 2021. CRISTINA QUICLER / AFP

 

Mendy’s blunder was forced in part by the relentless pressing that epitomised Porto’s frenetic start, but Chelsea matched their work rate as the foul count rose for both teams.

N’Golo Kante was fit to start for Chelsea after a hamstring problem and the France midfielder teed up a good chance for Kai Havertz, whose limp finish failed to match the quality of his team-mate’s incisive raid.

Having already wasted one good chance, Corona’s profligacy let Porto down again when he lashed hurriedly over from 12 yards after Ben Chilwell misjudged Otavio’s high ball.

Chelsea had never lost a knockout tie in Europe after winning the first leg away from home and that record remained pristine as Porto ran out of steam in the second half.

Chilwell’s cross presented Christian Pulisic with a clear sight of goal, but the winger couldn’t get enough power on his wayward volley.

Desperately short of a cutting edge, it took Porto until the 68th minute for their first effort on target as Taremi’s header from Corona’s cross forced Mendy to save.

Taremi’s eye-catching strike with seconds left came far too late for a dramatic finale, with tempers flaring in a heated exchange involving Rudiger and several Porto players after the final whistle.

AFP

Casillas To End Playing Career, Says Porto President

Porto’s Spanish goalkeeper Iker Casillas reacts at the end of a friendly football match between Porto and Newcastle United at the Dragao Stadium in Porto on July 28, 2018. AFP

 

Porto president Jorge Nuno Pinto da Costa said on Tuesday that Iker Casillas is set to retire, a day after the World Cup-winning captain announced he would run for the presidency of the Spanish Football Federation (RFEF).

Casillas, 38, had been expected to bring an end to a glittering playing career after making the announcement but has never confirmed that he was hanging up his boots.

“Before announcing his candidacy, Iker Casillas came to see me inform me of his decision to end his career,” Pinto da Costa told Portuguese media on Tuesday.

Casillas, who joined Porto in 2015 but suffered a heart attack in April and hasn’t played a competitive game since is considered one of the greatest goalkeepers of his generation and led Spain to their first World Cup triumph in South Africa in 2010.

He played 167 times for Spain, also winning two European Championships in 2008 and 2012, and made more than 700 appearances for Real Madrid, with whom he won five La Liga titles and the Champions League three times.

Casillas had been linked with the RFEF presidency for several months and is expected to run against current incumbent Luis Rubiales for the post.

On Monday he said that his aim to “put our federation at the top of the best football in the world, the football of Spain”.

Rubiales has been in perpetual conflict with Javier Tebas, the president of La Liga, and the pair have clashed over numerous issues, including fixture scheduling, matches abroad and the postponement of the Clasico in October.

According to the rules, the elections should be held in the second half of this year after the Tokyo Olympics but Rubiales has requested they be brought forward, before Euro 2020, which will take place between June 12 and July 12.

AFP

Racism: Porto Should Have Done More For Marega, Says Gullit

FC Porto’s Malian forward Moussa Marega celebrates after scoring a goal during the Portuguese league football match between Vitoria Guimaraes SC and FC Porto at the Dom Alfonso Henriques stadium in Guimaraes on February 16, 2020. MIGUEL RIOPA / AFP

 

Dutch legend Ruud Gullit said Monday that Moussa Marega’s Porto team-mates should have done more to protect him after the Mali striker walked off in protest after receiving racist abuse in a Portuguese league game.

On Sunday, the 28-year-old scored a 60th-minute winner for Porto against his ex-club Vitoria Guimaeres which led to a torrent of monkey chants.

In the 71st minute, France-born Marega signalled he was walking off to his bench in protest, even though his teammates, Porto coach Sergio Conceicao and some Vitoria players tried to make him stay on the pitch.

“I blame the other players. They should protect him and make a stand,” said Gullit, speaking at the Laureus World Sports Awards in Berlin, indicating they should have accompanied him off the field.

“Also the opposition should say ‘let’s go off’.

“It shouldn’t only be the responsibility of the player affected.

“That’s what disappoints me the most.

“Provocations are part of football, but racist abuse is something different,” added the Netherlands’ former AC Milan and Chelsea midfielder star.

“If there are monkey sounds or bananas are being thrown, that’s over the limit.”

As he walked off on Sunday, an angry and upset Marega gave a thumbs-down signal with both gloved hands to the home Vitoria Guimaeres fans.

He had already been given a yellow card for his goal celebration.

Former Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger disagreed with Gullitt that walking off is the best solution to solve racism in football.

The Frenchman fears racist insults from the terraces could “become a tool to disrupt” games by some fans.

“Of course you are against it (racism), because it is a form of violence, but I think it could be an easy tool to stop the game each time,” added Wenger at the media event in Berlin.

“We have to identify who does it and punish them severely, ban them from going to games. That is the first step for me.”

The Malian football federation meanwhile condemned the racist abuse and gave its “total backing” to the player in a statement.

AFP

Porto Hopeful Of Famous Comeback Against Liverpool

Porto Hopeful Of Famous Comeback Against Liverpool
Porto’s players run during a training session at the club’s training ground in Olival in Vila Nova de Gaia on April 16, 2019. MIGUEL RIOPA / AFP

 

FC Porto coach Sergio Conceicao reckons Liverpool are “the best team in the world” on their day as the Portuguese side face up to the daunting prospect of overturning a two-goal deficit in their Champions League quarter-final.

The teams meet at the Estadio do Dragao on Wednesday in the second leg of their last-eight tie, with Porto needing a historic comeback to go through after losing 2-0 at Anfield last week with Naby Keita and Roberto Firmino scoring.

While Porto have won all four home games in the Champions League this season, Liverpool travel to northern Portugal on top of the Premier League and unbeaten in 16 games.

READ ALSOThree Things We Learned From Barcelona vs Man Utd

“They are everything I like about football. I like the way they play, the way they are with the ball and without it,” Conceicao said at an eve-of-game press conference on Tuesday.

“In my opinion, a lot of the time just now they are the best team in the world.”

Porto lost 5-0 at home to Liverpool a year ago when the clubs met in the last 16.

Despite that, Conceicao, who also expressed solidarity towards Liverpool fans the day after the 30th anniversary of the “dark moment” of the Hillsborough disaster, was not giving up on turning the tie around.

However, he let slip that retaining the domestic title is Porto’s priority during a lengthy rant at Portuguese authorities over match scheduling.

“We are two goals down against a side who we know are very strong going forward, and so keeping our balance when we are attacking will be fundamental to ensure we don’t concede,” said the coach, whose team are level on points with leaders Benfica at the top of the Portuguese league.

“It is difficult to prepare for this game because, incomprehensibly, we have another game on Saturday against Santa Clara.

“Why they don’t protect teams like us? I have to ask what the main goal is for FC Porto, and it is the league.”

Conceicao has a doubt over the fitness of Mexican wide man Jesus Corona, but veteran defender Pepe and captain Hector Herrera are both able to play after missing the first leg due to suspension.

“I saw that we are capable of damaging Liverpool,” Herrera said of his view from the stand at Anfield.

“Here at home normally we are a very strong team with our fans behind us. I really believe that tomorrow will be no exception and we will be able to go out with that positive energy and hurt Liverpool.”

AFP

Liverpool Beat Porto To Close On Champions League Semis

Liverpool Beat Porto To Close On Champions League Semis
Porto’s Brazilian defender Eder Militao (rear 3rd R) and Liverpool’s Croatian defender Dejan Lovren (front 3rd R) head the ball as they vie for it during the UEFA Champions League quarter-final, first leg football match at Anfield stadium in Liverpool, north-west England on April 9, 2019. LLUIS GENE / AFP

 

Liverpool closed in on a Champions League semi-final meeting with Barcelona or Manchester United as Porto were swept aside 2-0 in the first leg of their quarter-final tie at Anfield.

Naby Keita and Roberto Firmino struck inside the first 26 minutes to put the hosts in command and Liverpool’s only regret may be not building a more emphatic lead to take to northern Portugal for next week’s second leg.

However, a fourth clean sheet in five home Champions League games this season means an away goal at the Estadio do Dragao on April 17th will leave Porto needing four to progress.

READ ALSOSon Strikes As Tottenham Beat City In Champions League Showdown

Liverpool thrashed the Portuguese giants 5-0 in the first leg of their last-16 tie last season and the scoreline could have been just as embarrassing for Sergio Conceicao’s men had the hosts been more accurate in front of goal.

It took Jurgen Klopp’s men just five minutes to open the scoring as Keita got his second goal in as many games having waited nine months to open his Liverpool account.

The Guinean got the benefit of a big deflection off Oliver Torres as his strike from the edge of the area left veteran goalkeeper Iker Casillas helpless.

Minutes later Firmino was galloping into acres of space in behind the Porto defence, but this time his deflected effort drifted just beyond Casillas’s far post.

Mohamed Salah ended his eight-game goal drought as Liverpool returned to the top of the Premier League table with a 3-1 win at Southampton on Friday, but the Egyptian got his angles wrong when he failed to hit the target with just Casillas to beat.

– Porto’s slack defending –

Conceicao was visibly furious with his side’s slack defending, but Porto could easily have got back into the tie when Alisson Becker saved well with his feet from Moussa Marega.

Liverpool then had to survive a VAR review for a potential handball against Trent Alexander-Arnold as Alisson palmed the ball into his full-back.

Soon, though, Alexander-Arnold was helping twist the knife into Porto at the other end with his eighth assist of the season.

Jordan Henderson, playing in a more advanced midfield position than normal, cut the visitors’ defence open for the England international to square for Firmino to tap into an empty net.

Liverpool have become accustomed to winning games late in recent weeks in their bid for a first Premier League title in 29 years.

However, Klopp’s men seemed keen to kill the tie off before their trip to Portugal as Firmino blazed a great chance from Henderson’s pinpoint pass off target.

Only a matter of centimetres denied Liverpool a third early in the second half when another excellent Henderson cross picked out Sadio Mane to volley home, but the Senegalese was flagged offside.

Marega kept plugging away to try and find the away goal that would pull Porto back into the tie, but only one of his many second-half efforts forced Alisson into a comfortable save.

The fine balance Liverpool must strike in maintaining their quest for European glory alongside ending a long wait for a top-flight title was in evidence as Klopp withdrew Mane and Firmino in the final quarter with one eye on Sunday’s league visit of Chelsea.

However, that proved a luxury that Liverpool could afford to take as they look set for a second Champions League semi-final in as many years.

AFP

Lovren Returns For Liverpool, Porto Champions League Clash

Lovren Returns For Liverpool, Porto Champions League Clash
Porto’s Malian striker Moussa Marega (C) shoots past Liverpool’s Croatian defender Dejan Lovren (L) but has this shot saved during the UEFA Champions League quarter-final, first leg football match between Liverpool and FC Porto at Anfield stadium in Liverpool, north-west England on April 9, 2019. Paul ELLIS / AFP

 

Dejan Lovren will make his first Liverpool start sine early January as Jurgen Klopp made three changes for his side’s Champions League quarter-final, first leg at home to Porto on Tuesday.

Croatian centre-back Lovren returns at the expense of Joel Matip, while James Milner deputises for the suspended Andy Robertson at left-back.

Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson is also rewarded with a recall to the starting XI after coming off the bench to score in a 3-1 win at Southampton on Friday, with Georginio Wijnaldum dropping out.

READ ALSOChampions League: Ronaldo Returns For Juventus Against Ajax

Porto are also without two of their most experienced players through suspension as three-time Champions League winner Pepe and Mexican international midfielder Hector Herrera miss out.

Maxi Pereira and Danilo come into the side that beat Roma 3-1 after extra time in the last 16 to progress to the quarter-finals 4-3 on aggregate.

Liverpool (4-3-3)

Alisson Becker; Trent Alexander-Arnold, Dejan Lovren, Virgil van Dijk, James Milner; Fabinho, Naby Keita, Jordan Henderson (capt); Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino, Sadio Mane

Coach: Jurgen Klopp (GER)

Porto (4-4-2)

Iker Casillas; Maxi Pereira, Eder Militao, Felipe, Alex Telles; Otavio, Danilo (capt), Oliver Torres, Jesus Corona; Francisco Soares, Moussa Marega

Coach: Sergio Conceicao (POR)

Referee: Antonio Mateu Lahoz (ESP)

AFP

Champions League: Klopp Warns Liverpool To Respect Porto

Liverpool’s German coach Jurgen Klopp/ AFP

 

Jurgen Klopp insists Liverpool won’t underestimate Porto after being handed a Champions League quarter-final clash with the Portuguese underdogs in Friday’s draw.

Klopp’s side will go into the Porto tie as heavy favourites to advance to a semi-final showdown against Barcelona or Manchester United.

Liverpool crushed Porto 5-0 on aggregate in the Champions League last 16 just last season, scoring all five goals in the away leg before a goalless draw in the return at Anfield.

“What can I say? It’s Porto and we’ve played there already and we know how good we had to be last year,” Klopp told Liverpool’s website.

“The result, in the end, was a strange one; it was very good for us, of course, but it was a strange one. In the second leg, we saw the character of Porto and the quality they have.”

With United taking on Barca and Tottenham facing Manchester City in the other quarter-finals, Liverpool got what looks the easiest draw of the four Premier League teams.

READ ALSO: United Face Barca In Champions League Quarter-Final

But Reds boss Klopp is determined to ensure his side give Porto respect when they arrive on Merseyside for the first leg next month.

“I could not be further away from thinking it’s the best draw because it isn’t,” he said.

It is just the draw, it’s the opponent we have to prepare for and that’s all we will be thinking about from when we start preparing for the game.”

Liverpool are hoping to go one better than last season when they were beaten by Real Madrid in the Champions League final.

They are also competing for the club’s first domestic league title since 1990, setting up a potentially glorious end to the season.

But Klopp isn’t looking that far ahead and has warned his players that Porto will be desperate to avenge last year’s thrashing.

“100 per cent (it could give them extra motivation). Porto were not on my wish list, but now they are our opponent, it is how it is and we have to play them,” he said.

“The first thing you have to do is make sure everybody respects the opponent the right way –- and we will do that 100 per cent. We will know about the quality of Porto and then we have to play the game.”

AFP

Casillas To End Career With Porto

Porto’s Spanish goalkeeper Iker Casillas reacts at the end of a friendly football match between Porto and Newcastle United at the Dragao Stadium in Porto on July 28, 2018. MIGUEL RIOPA / AFP

 

Veteran Spanish goalkeeper Iker Casillas, who has a year left on his Porto contract, said on Thursday that he wants to “finish his career ” with the club.

“I would like to finish my career with FC Porto and go to the end of my contract,” the 37-year-old former Real Madrid goalkeeper told Portuguese broadcaster RTP.

“It would be nice to have only a few clubs in my career,” he added. “I spent a large part of my life at Real Madrid, which is the best club in history, but I came to Portugal and into a strong team like FC Porto and that makes me very happy.”

Casillas, who won a World Cup and two European titles with Spain, extended his contract in May shortly after Porto won the Portuguese title.

He will have a chance to compete again in the Champions League, a competition he won three times with Real, and in which he has made a record 178 appearances.

Porto kick off their domestic season on Saturday when they play Aves, the surprise winner of the Portuguese Cup last season, in the Supercup.

AFP

Arsenal Loan Nigeria’s Nwakali To Porto

Nigeria’s forward, Kelechi Nwakali, joins Porto on loan from Arsenal.

 

Arsenal’s Nigeria midfielder Kelechi Nwakali joined Portuguese champions Porto on a season-long loan on Thursday.

Nwakali, 20, has yet to break into the Arsenal team since moving to the Premier League club in 2016.

He was sent on loan to Dutch side MVV Maastricht for the 2016-17 season and returned to Holland for a loan spell at VVV Venlo last term.

“Kelechi Nwakali will spend next season on loan with Portuguese side FC Porto. The deal is subject to the completion of regulatory processes,” Arsenal said on Thursday.

Nwakali has played once for Nigeria’s senior team after captaining his country to victory at the Under-17 World Cup in 2015.

Speaking to the Porto website, Nwakali added: “My main goal is to develop, improve my qualities and the other aspects I know I need to correct to grow in the way I play,” he said.

“I think FC Porto is the right place to evolve as a player. There are good players, young people, and I think I’ll grow up here.”

Arsenal are also reported to be on the verge of finalising a deal for 16-year-old left-back Joel Lopez, who recently made it clear he would be leaving Barcelona.

AFP

Manchester United Sign Diogo Dalot From Porto

In this file photo taken on March 11, 2018, Pacos de Ferreira’s Portuguese forward Antonio Xavier (L) vies with Porto’s Portuguese defender Diogo Dalot during the Portuguese league football match between FC Pacos de Ferreira and FC Porto at the Mata Real stadium in Pacos de Ferreira. 
MIGUEL RIOPA / AFP

 

Manchester United have signed 19-year-old Portuguese full-back Diogo Dalot from Porto, both clubs confirmed on Wednesday.

Dalot has signed “a five-year contract, with an option to extend for a further year”, United said in a statement.

More to follow…