Reports: Arsenal manager Unai Emery admits admiration for Barcelona World Cup winner

It has been a good year altogether for Barcelona’s Samuel Umtiti. He was a part of France’s World Cup-winning side in June and July 2018, before resuming his club duties with the Catalans – continuing to excel with them as well.

But due to a recent spate of injuries to the knee and the arrival of Clement Lenglet who suits Ernesto Valverde’s style of play more, Umtiti has been warming the bench for some weeks now. Meanwhile, reports that indicate Barcelona will sell him this summer to release funds for signing new players, have also been doing the rounds.

As of latest, Marca reports that English giants Arsenal is one of the teams that are interested in the Frenchman. According to the Spanish newspaper, their manager Unai Emery is full of admiration for the former Lyon man.

“He is a very good player. In general, France has very good players abroad, and I have always had French players in my clubs – Valencia, Sevilla, PSG, and here [Arsenal]. I have always been able to count on these players as well,” Emery reportedly told RMC Sport as per Marca.

Emery’s interest, along with Barcelona’s plans to offload the star have thus fuelled chances of a possible move to London for the World champion, although further details are yet to be clarified.

FOX Sports Asia probability ratings: 3/5; Umtiti has expressed his interest to stay in Barcelona itself, despite the reduced number of chances he is getting these days. At the same time, he may be forced to rethink if his game-time continues to go down – and with Arsenal interested as well, the possibility of a deal is fairly high.

Reports: Ajax star reveals master plan on how to stop Juventus and Cristiano Ronaldo in Champions League

Dutch club AFC Ajax attracted the attention of the whole of the footballing world when they overcame a 2-1 first leg deficit against Real Madrid, by winning 4-1 in the second leg of the Champions League round-of-16, also eliminating the Spanish giants in the process.

The win helped them qualify to the quarter finals, where they will now face Cristiano Ronaldo’s Juventus across two legs – the first game on April 10th followed by the second a week later.

As of latest, the Mirror reportedly caught up with Ajax defender Nicolas Tagliafico, who played a vital role in all of Ajax’s UCL games till date. Tagliafico said that they will proceed to play against the Bianconeris with the same determination that they have displayed so far, despite the presence of a “very formidable” factor facing them this time – Cristiano Ronaldo.

“We will have the same determination that we had against Real Madrid, this time against Juventus. We know it’s really tough, they are a great team and, on top of that, they have great players like Cristiano Ronaldo,” he said.

“With our tools, now well-known by everybody, we can play without fear again to get another big result against Juventus. We went to Madrid determined to enjoy ourselves. It was our best game we’ve played this year. It was perfect. The first game was almost perfect even though the result was not good but the second game was amazing. Just amazing.”

He further added: “Now, against Juventus, we need another perfect game, but why not? I think it was one of the best moments in the last decades for Ajax. We have to make the most of it, enjoy it because I believe we can carry on making history.”

“We’re in the quarter-finals for a reason. You can see it will be very, very difficult. But you have a chance, even a very small chance and you have to have faith. It’s what I said about the Bernabeu and look what happened!”

“Ajax have built a good team and with this philosophy any player can come in and join, have a good game and impress. Now we have a good team. In Madrid, we played like we were at home, we approach every game the same. We played against Madrid the same, both in Amsterdam and in the Bernabeu. We play with aggression and try to play with possession and pressure,” he explained, before concluding:

“We are in three competitions at the moment. We are actually enjoying this beautiful moment.”

Tagliafico joined Ajax in January 2018, and has appeared in 37 matches this season till date. He has also been linked with a summer move for top clubs like Arsenal and Barcelona.

Cristiano Ronaldo forced to miss starting matches for Juventus despite will to play through injury

One of Cristiano Ronaldo’s most admirable qualities, is his hunger to do better each time – despite the fact that there are only very few players in this world who can match the Portuguese legend’s supremacy in the game.

After nine immensely successful seasons with Real Madrid, Ronaldo shifted base to Italy last summer, turning up to play for Serie A giants Juventus.

Since then, his 19 Serie A goals have played a vital role in Juventus’ 21-point lead at the top of the table, as the Bianconeris move towards yet another league title triumph.

His recent injury from the international break in March has, however caused him to stay off the field for a while now, with an expected return planned for Wednesday as Juventus face AFC Ajax in the Champions League quarter-finals.

But apparently, Ronaldo was so eager to return to the field earlier than that, as it has been revealed that the star reportedly offered to play in Juventus’ most recent Serie A fixture against AC Milan.

It was Juventus vice president and former player Pavel Nedved, who revealed that the five-time Ballon D’Or winner was desperate to play against the Rossoneri. “We had to stop it!” he claimed, before adding: “His return is scheduled for Wednesday against Ajax.”

This latest incident simply serves to highlight how the star is always hungry for more – be it game-time, goals or victories.

Meanwhile, Juve boss Massimiliano Allegri shared the same opinion, saying that he hoped to “have him for Wednesday’s game in Amsterdam.”

The first-leg fixture, as mentioned above will take place at the iconic Johan Cruijff Arena in Amsterdam on April 10th, with Ajax set to travel to Turin for the return leg scheduled for 16th April.

Manchester City superstar savagely trolls Tottenham Hotspur’s new stadium ahead of crucial Champions League clash

Premier League heavyweights Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur are getting ready to face each other soon – only that this time, the stakes are much higher.

It is not a regular Premier League match we are talking about, as this time, the contest will be held at a much bigger stage – the UEFA Champions League.

Earlier in March, Manchester City and Tottenham were drawn to face each other in the quarter-finals of the Champions League – the first-leg is scheduled for April 10th and the second-leg a week later.

The first-leg match on April 10th will also mark the Spurs’ first-ever Champions League appearance in their brand-new stadium, where the inaugural match was conducted just a week ago. They beat Crystal Palace 2-0 in a Premier League fixture to mark a good start at their new home, and it is upon themselves to extend the run even further, by winning against Manchester City.

Meanwhile, City star Kevin De Bruyne brutally trolled Tottenham’s new home, saying that the new stadium will not be of any influence to the outcome of the upcoming Champions League fixture.

“I don’t care about the stadium,” De Bruyne said. “I care about the team we play. Everybody talks about the stadium like it’s something special. Everybody has a stadium. Everybody has supporters. They’ll be up for it. They’ll probably be a little bit more excited but in the end it’s a stadium with supporters. If they go to Wembley with 80,000 [fans] or there [the new stadium] with 62,000, it’s going to be the same. It’ll be a tough game but I think we’ll be all right.”

De Bruyne’s strongly-worded statement comes immediately after City ensured a place in the FA Cup finals, after the Belgian himself provided an early assist to Gabriel Jesus’ goal that eventually became the one and only difference in the scoresheet between them and Brighton and Hove Albion.

The Sky Blues are all set for a “quadruple” this season, having already earned the Carabao Cup apart from entering the FA Cup finals. They are strong contenders to the Premier League as well, and provided they qualify over Tottenham in the UCL Quarter-finals, they will have a better shot at the European title as well.

Quotes via The Guardian.

Reports: Real Madrid mega star set for sensational return to Premier League amid Bayern Munich links

Real Madrid superstar Gareth Bale is clearly unsettled, as evident by his recent string of lacklustre performances with the Spanish all-whites.

He was largely unused during the tenures of Julen Lopetegui and Santiago Solari as managers, but with the return of Zinedine Zidane at the helm, he has been getting more chances with the first team. But that does not seem to have put an end to Bale’s misery, as the Welsh footballer was recently in news for making silly mistakes and then being subjected to boos and whistles during Real Madrid’s home game against SD Eibar in the La Liga last week.

With the fans growing tired of Bale, and with the man himself finding it hard to repay Zidane’s trust, it appears that Real Madrid is looking to offload the star who is three months shy of turning 30.

Marca reports that while Los Blancos have already received interest on him from Manchester United and Bayern Munich, there are also chances that Bale would opt for a sensational return to his former club – Tottenham Hotspurs.

Bale first rose to prominence during his time at Spurs, initially featuring for them as a left-back before adopting an attacking position. He transfered to Madrid on 1st September 2013, for a then-world record fee of €100.8million. His transfer value may have depreciated by now, but he is still one of the best stars in world football.

FOX Sports Asia probability ratings: 2/5; While the prospect of “homecoming” sounds delicious, the pacy winger’s wages are a real problem here. Even if Tottenham get ready for a deal here, they will not be interested in matching the star’s already-huge wage demands.

Reports: Manchester United agree £50million fee for star Premier League midfielder

English giants Manchester United are doing everything that they can to be a serious title contender for next season’s Premier League, and have hence made a list of signings they would like to make to help them get there.

One of United’s key transfer targets is West Ham United midfielder Declan Rice, and as per reports, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and co. are ready to make lucrative bids to secure his services this summer.

The 20-year-old has done exceptionally well so far this season with the Hammers, as they try to stay within the top half of the Premier League charts.

The Irish-born youngster was recently in news for pledging his allegiance to the England national team, following which he was handed his national senior debut in the International break this March.

It is the Irish Independent that has reported that United are ready to go ahead with the potential purchase of the star, for a much bigger price than the previous €40million bid that was placed on him by the same club.

The newspaper added that West Ham are only willing to listen to offers within the region of £50million, which Solskjaer and the rest of United’s management are apparently ready to match.

FOX Sports Asia probability ratings: 4/5; With Ander Herrera reportedly set to leave the club, apart from similar shades of doubt cast on the future of Juan Mata and even Nemanja Matic, it is to be understood that Solskjaer may be thinking of Rice as a worthy replacement. With age on his side, the youngster could become a vital cog in the midfield, provided he is utilised well, and that could attract the United boss to seal the deal as early as possible.

Reports: What Zidane said to inspire Real Madrid to overturn halftime deficit against Eibar

On Matchday 31 of the La Liga, Spanish giants Real Madrid suffered a big scare in the first half as opponents SD Eibar managed a lead, which they hung on to, until half-time.

The Los Blancos are already going through a very tough phase, having already gotten eliminated from the Champions League and the Copa del Rey competitions. They are also out of the La Liga title race more-or-less, with many players becoming unsettled within the club as well.

But none of the above were valid reasons to the Merengues weak game-play in the first half against Eibar, that too at the Santiago Bernabeu. The hosts were bossed around by the Eibar players, and in the 39th minute Marc Cardona gave them a much-deserved lead.

The fans present were definitely not pleased at all, as evident from the loud boos and whistles – directed particularly at Gareth Bale who was solely responsible for at least two attacking errors right within the first ten minutes.

The half-time whistle was more of a relief for the hosts, as Zinedine Zidane reportedly had some tough words in store for his players.

The words apparently worked, as evident from the second-half. Real Madrid played like a rejuvenated side, and striker Karim Benzema accounted for a brace to ensure that the Los Blancos will take away all the three points from the fixture.

At the end of the game, Zidane refused to comment on his own half-time pep-talk that probably changed the game on its own, but Marca reports that defender Sergio Reguilon revealed a few details about it soon afterwards.

“He told us four things very clearly,” Reguilon was quoted as saying. “Zidane told us ‘we used to be proud’,” he added.

Marca added that Zidane’s speech was highly reminiscent of of a famous Madrid half-time team-talk from a 1956 European Cup game, when then President Santiago Bernabeu used some strong words to motivate Alfredo di Stefano and co., to overturn a similar deficit by the end of full-time.

“I’m ashamed to look at you, but more to watch how you’ve played. Do you know how many Spaniards there are in the stadium? Workers who’ve come from far away, who know they’ll be made fun of tomorrow, do you know the sacrificed people have made? You’re unworthy of them. If you have any shame left, go out there and behave like men,” the Spanish newspaper quoted Bernabeu thus, before comparing Zidane’s speech to his.

Unsettled Barcelona superstar reveals stance about possible Premier League return

Spanish giants Barcelona are well set for a treble this season, having more-or-less made sure of their La Liga title apart from reaching the Copa del Rey finals and the UEFA Champions League quarter-finals.

Meanwhile, all is not well with Barca superstar Philippe Coutinho, who is heavily unsettled thanks to a diminishing number of chances for him with the starting XI. As Ousmane Dembele and even Arturo Vidal occupy spots above him in Ernesto Valverde’s pecking order, the Brazilian has been linked with a sensational return to the Premier League – either with former club Liverpool or their arch-rivals Manchester United.

In a recent interview with The Mirror as reported by LiverpoolEcho, Coutinho expressed his choices in the matter, adamantly saying that his going nowhere this summer. “I’m happy. I wanted to play in Spain and I’m at the best club in Spain. My head is exclusively in Barcelona. Returning to England now does not fit into my plans,” he said.

Despite so, the former Liverpool man was quick to express his admiration for the Reds. “I’m glad that Liverpool are doing well this year. Jurgen Klopp is a great coach and it was only a matter of time before he got the team performing the way they are,” he said, before adding:

“They are having an incredible season.”

With Dembele sidelined due to injury, chances are that Coutinho will play in the upcoming Champions League quarter-finals first-leg fixture against Manchester United at Old Trafford on April 10th, before Barcelona don the role of hosts for the return-leg fixture exactly a week later.

Coutinho concluded his chat by hoping to set up a “dream return” to Anfield, which will happen provided Barcelona and Liverpool emerge victorious out of their respective UCL quarter-final fixtures.

Manchester United legend reveals his thoughts on becoming director of club

Premier League giants Manchester United are well on course for a major improvement in their fortunes starting next season, thanks to Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s appointment as permanent manager at the club.

In addition, the Red Devils have also been linked with several star players like Gareth Bale, Raphael Varane and so on – and a successful series of business dealings in the upcoming transfer window will help them do well both in England and in Europe too.

Meanwhile United’s chief executive Ed Woodward is also interested in proving Solskjaer with a solid support staff, and with that aim he continues to be on the lookout for a sporting director at the club. Former United player and goalkeeping legend Edwin van der Sar was one of the top names in consideration, and as of latest, the star has spoken on his name being linked to his former club once again – albeit in a different manner.

The Dutchman admitted that has a strong affection for Red Devils. But despite so, he said that his sole focus remains currently on Dutch side AFC Ajax, where he is the chief executive officer currently.

In an interview with the Sunday Times, he said: “I know United is a much bigger challenge than Ajax. United is not just a big and famous club, but also a worldwide brand – yet when you’re inside it’s still a family place.

“I remember when I came from Fulham. Oh it’s United… but after one day you felt at home. The washing ladies. Mike the chef. Kath [the receptionist]. They’re still there. You need to cherish that and Ole [Gunnar Solskjaer] is doing a great job at it – Ed [Woodward] as well,” he added.

Upon being asked about his chances of taking over at Manchester United, he said, “I have utmost respect for him [Woodward], what he does for the club. So I don’t need to be the big man. I want to feel I contribute, and you can only do it for something you believe in. United is a special place.”

“Who knows, eventually? But for the coming years I’m here,” he concluded.

The Dutchman enjoyed a highly successful six years at Old Trafford between 2005 and 2011, when he was a part of the side that won four Premier League titles and one Champions League title as well.

WATCH: Wayne Rooney gets sent off following horrendous tackle in an MLS game

Former Manchester United star Wayne Rooney executed a very reckless tackle in his latest Major League Soccer game a few hours ago, due to which he was sent off for the first time in his MLS career so far.

Rooney’s DC United meanwhile, lost 4-0 to Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s LA Galaxy. DC were already 3-0 behind after half-time, and Rooney’s rough tackle and red card early on in the second half, made matters worse for them. The former England star literally flew into LA’s Diego Rossi and caught him high on his leg to bring him down.

Robert Sibiga the referee, initially pulled out a yellow card before consulting with the VAR – after which he overturned his decision to bring out a straight red against the DC United skipper.

Meanwhile, Diego Rossi starred in the game for LA Galaxy, eventually bagging a hat-trick for himself. This was after Carlos Vela scored early on in the game to grant LA an early lead.

Watch the highlights here:

At the end of the game, Rooney explained there was no malicious intent in the foul, despite it seeming that way. “I have no arguments,” he said. “It wasn’t malicious and I didn’t try to hurt him. But obviously I caught him.

“I was expecting [a red card] really when the referee gave me the yellow. It’s the right call.”

DC United’s next MLS fixture is against Montreal Impact this Tuesday. They are currently placed third in the standings for the “Eastern Conference” group, while LA Galaxy is at third in the “Western Conference” group.

Marco Reus slams Borussia Dortmund manager after Der Klassiker debacle

German giants Borussia Dortmund were subjected to huge levels of embarrassment and misery yesterday, as arch-rivals Bayern Munich destroyed them 5-0 in the much-awaited Bundesliga Der Klassiker fixture.

The win helped the Bavarians climb to the top spot in the German league charts, displacing Dortmund themselves. Bayern now have a one-point at the top, which might eventually prove vital as the Bundesliga title race is still very much on.

Meanwhile, Dortmund’s Marco Reus lamented at the lack of playing quality displayed by his team. In fact, Reus and his men were 4-0 down by the half-time itself, thanks to some shoddy defending and absence of any link-up play between the players.

“It’s a massive disappointment,” Reus said after the game, as reported by spox.com. “There’s no doubt we fully deserved to lose. We didn’t put Bayern under the slightest bit of pressure. We had a good chance at the start through Mo Dahoud, but even if that went in you still had the feeling that Bayern were in complete control.”

“They were better organised and exploited the spaces. We left too many gaps and didn’t defend the spaces well. We didn’t offer any threat up front either. It hurts,” he added, before seeking solace in the hope of overturning Bayern’s frail lead at in the points’ charts in the upcoming game-weeks.

The German star then went on to express outrage at Borussia Dortmund manager Lucien Favre’s choice of lining up his team for the game. “We wanted to press and had actually expected them to go 4-3-3. But they lined up in a 4-2-3-1, which isn’t a problem, but we were standing too far apart from each other and we couldn’t apply any pressure. When I ran towards Mats Hummels, he just played it to Thiago and he played it to Niklas Süle and so on – that’s difficult. We were a million miles off our usual level in all areas,” he explained.

“There’s no point in us talking about the title if we play like that again, but there’s only one point for us to gain now and things can change very quickly in the Bundesliga. We have to show a completely different side to ourselves next Saturday,” he added, before concluding:

“We’ve fought back before, and we’ll just have to see what happens.”

Borussia Dortmund’s next assignment is against FSV Mainz on 13th April.

Zinedine Zidane casts doubt over Real Madrid superstar’s future as boos continue

Reports: Real Madrid handed major blow as on-loan star refuses to return next summer

For a major part of yesterday’s La Liga game against Eibar, Real Madrid looked lost and confused as the visitors got hold of a well-deserved lead in the first half.

It was Karim Benzema who turned the tables back to Madrid’s favour, as they eventually emerged 2-1 winners.

Meanwhile, Welsh star Gareth Bale endured a torrid time in front of his home supporters, as he was subjected to boos and whistles from all corners of the stands.

The star first miscontrolled a ball and let it go out of play, and then missed a one-on-one chance with Eibar’s Marko Dmitrovic, shooting straight at the goalkeeper – all within the first ten minutes of the game.

Reports indicate that the unsettled star is set to leave the Los Blancos, as Manchester United and Chelsea are apparently interested in the player.

Meanwhile, Madrid boss Zinedine Zidane refused to reveal his plans on the superstar, who memorably scored one of the winning goals in the Merengues‘ 4-1 rout of Liverpool in the 2018 Champions League finals.

“We’ll see,” Zidane said when he was quizzed about the 29-year old’s future at the club.

“I will not say what will happen. He’s at Madrid and he has two years left on his contract. It is not the time to talk about that,” he added.

The Eibar game was Zidane’s 100th La Liga game as Real Madrid manager. They will now face Leganes in their next fixture in the La Liga, on 16th April.

Former Manchester United star reveals incredible details of Cristiano Ronaldo’s introduction to the dressing room

As avid followers of football, all of us are familiar with the story of Cristiano Ronaldo’s rise as a young prodigy in Sporting CP and then in Manchester United, before he continued his stellar career with Real Madrid and currently, Juventus.

As of latest, we have gotten hold another story to add to his brilliant biography, as former Manchester United teammate Quinton Fortune revealed details of the star’s introduction to the dressing room.

“Ronaldo came with so much confidence, it was unbelievable. He walked in the changing room and basically told everyone he’s the best. Not in perfect English but you could make it out,” Fortune said, while speaking in an interview with The Guardian.

It is worth remembering that Ronaldo’s self-introduction came just before he marked his iconic United debut against Bolton Wanderers, as a substitute in the 60th minute. His performance earned praise from George Best, who even hailed it as “undoubtedly the most exciting debut” he had ever seen.

Fortune went to on to give more insights on how it was, to work with the star. “That [confidence] set him above all the young players and he could back it up with his work ethic and ability.”

“Even at that age he wanted to be better at everything. If you did something in training he’d practise and come back and do it,” he added.

Meanwhile, the five-time Ballon D’Or champion is currently on a Champions League assignment for Juventus against AFC Ajax. The first-leg match of the upcoming semi-final fixture between both sides will take place on 10th April, followed by the second-leg a week later.

If Juventus goes on to clinch the coveted prize, it will be Ronaldo’s fourth consecutive Champions League triumph, having won three back-to-back titles in a row with Real Madrid since 2016.

WATCH: School kids invited by Raheem Sterling for Manchester City’s FA Cup semifinal admit they are not City fans

A few days ago, we covered Raheem Sterling’s unique act of kindness for the kids of his old school.

Sterling purchased 550 tickets for them to come watch himself and his Manchester City teammates play in the FA Cup semifinal fixture against Brighton and Hove Albion.

As we know, the match was held yesterday, and an early effort by Gabriel Jesus proved to be the only difference in the scoresheet between the Sky Blues and the Seagulls at the end of it all.

City have thus advanced to the finals of the FA Cup, and they are well within range to secure a domestic treble, provided they also clinch the Premier League later this season.

Meanwhile, the most City-like thing happened at the Wembley Stadium during the game, when the kids who were invited by Sterling revealed that they ARE NOT CITY FANS, after all.

A group of students – all of them donning City scarves – were interviewed at half-time, and they were not shy to admit their allegiance to other clubs. Two of them supported Manchester United, one Arsenal, and one Chelsea:

Awkward.

Earlier, City had faced a lot of criticism for not being able to sell out their allocation of seats for the game, while Brighton did it very easily. This new development makes the situation even more embarassing for Pep Guardiola and co., as it looks like they resorted to devious methods to fill out their quota of seats.

Despite all this, it is still worth remembering that Manchester City is one of the top performers in all of Europe and not just England. They are the only remaining European side this season with a possibility of executing a “Quadruple”, which will happen provided they win the Champions League, Premier League and the FA Cup, in addition to this season’s Carabao cup which is already safe in their trophy cabinet.

Meanwhile, Raheem Sterling and his men will face Tottenham Hotspurs next, in the upcoming Champions League Quarter-finals. The first-leg match will be held on 10th April, followed by the second-leg a week later.