Barcelona plot Isco capture in 2018


Barcelona are hoping to poach Isco from Real Madrid in 2018 by attempting to convince him not to extend his contract in the Spanish capital.

The midfielder is currently negotiating an extension at the Bernabeu, even if he has yet to fully convince Zinedine Zidane.

And Goal understands that Barcelona are hoping to capitalise on uncertainty regarding his place as a starter by promising to make him the heir to Andres Iniesta in the heart of their midfield.

Luis Enrique is hoping to persuade the 24-year-old to follow in his footsteps, with the Barca boss leaving Madrid during his playing days to join Barcelona as a free agent in 1996.

The Catalans believe they have nothing to lose approaching Isco and would relish the opportunity to get one over on Madrid president Florentino Perez, who has made overtures to Neymar, Iniesta and even Luis Suarez while they ply their trade at Camp Nou.

Barcelona have indicated to the Spain international that they have always rated him highly and only the presence of stalwarts such as Xavi and Iniesta in their line-up previously prevented them making a formal approach. While revered by the Bernabeu faithful and having turned down opportunities from around Europe to leave in the past, Isco is aware that he faces limited playing time should he stay on at the club he joined from Malaga in 2013.

Barcelona are closely monitoring the situation and are aware of the possibility they might be able to nab him on a free transfer in 2018 by making early contact.
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Man Utd 3-2 Soton: Zlatan wins EFL Cup for United


The Saints had fought back from 2-0 down to level, but Ibrahimovic’s 87th-minute  contribution sealed a 3-2 win and the first silverware of his – and Jose Mourinho’s – Manchester United careers.

Wembley bore witness to a superb encounter as expectant United faced a Saints side looking to win just the second major trophy in their history, the first having come 41 years ago when the sides met in the FA Cup final.

Manolo Gabbiadini scored either side of half-time – his fourth and fifth goals in just three Southampton games – as Ibrahimovic and Jesse Lingard strikes were cancelled out.

Europa League and FA Cup glory remain further possibilities this term, but Mourinho will know his players need to up their game moving forwards.

After Gabbiadini had seen an opening goal wrongly ruled out for offside, under-performing United showed their ruthless edge as Ibrahimovic fired home a free-kick before Lingard scored on a third straight Wembley appearance.

But it appeared a gut-punch rather than a decisive killer-blow. Gabbiadini gave Southampton hope with a close-range goal in first-half stoppage time, before sending the success-starved fans wild with an outstanding leveller.

Oriol Romeu crashed a header off the post shortly after avoiding a second yellow card, but it was not to be for Southampton.

Ibrahimovic’s 26th goal of the season saw Mourinho become the first United manager to win a major trophy in his debut season, and earned the Portuguese a fourth League Cup triumph – a joint record with Brian Clough and Sir Alex Ferguson.

Few would have known United were the side making a record-equalling 49th trip to Wembley as Saints flew out the blocks.

Dusan Tadic and James Ward-Prowse proved a headache for United’s rattled backline, with Nathan Redmond ending a mazy run with an attempt that deflected wide for a corner.

That start should have brought with it a goal in the 11th minute. Southampton’s success-starved fans erupted as Gabbiadini turned home hard-working Cedric’s cross from the right. Inexplicably, though, the assistant raised his flag for offside, despite the Italian being clearly on and Ryan Bertrand not interfering with play.

Saints soon had further reason to feel aggrieved at Stuart Burt’s decision.

Romeu was booked for a lunge on Ander Herrera, giving Ibrahimovic a chance from 30 yards. It was an opportunity the in-form veteran took with aplomb, firing home a stunning free-kick and wheeling off towards his fans in celebration.

Saints’ wall and goalkeeper Fraser Forster will feel they should have done better with the 19th-minute strike, which Puel’s men busily went about cancelling out.

Ward-Prowse and Tadic forced the returning David de Gea into action from the edge of the box in quick succession.

United were not attacking with the same regularity, but unlike Saints made their threat count.

Marcos Rojo was allowed through to lay off to Lingard just inside the box, with Southampton’s lack of pressure giving the attacking midfielder time to calmly side-foot past Forster.

But it was not a fatal strike after Saints collected themselves. In first-time stoppage time, Ward-Prowse’s fine right-wing cross was met by a smart Gabbiadini touch, turning the ball past De Gea and turning to the assistant celebrating.

Michael Carrick replaced Juan Mata for a second period Southampton started brightly, with Redmond seeing an exquisite volley kept out by De Gea.

There was no let-up from Puel’s men. Steven Davis beat Anthony Martial to a header and Gabbiadini swivelled expertly, firing through a crowd into the bottom corner in front of the Saints fans.

It was a moment of utter joy for half of Wembley – and one Ibrahimovic could have soon rendered worthless, only for Forster to recover from his poor clearance to smother.

Herrera claimed compatriot Romeu should have received a second booking after being clattered, but the appeals ere ignored, with the defensive midfielder soon leaping above Paul Pogba to power a header off a post.

United attempted to make the most of that let-off. A superb challenge from Maya Yoshida prevented Lingard from getting a shot away, before the unmarked winger wasted a glorious 76th-minute chance.

Redmond saw an attempt deflect wide as Saints pushed for a winner, although substitute Marcus Rashford came close to grabbing one at the other end by forcing Forster into a near-post stop.

It was a frantic conclusion and, having blocked a Stephens corner at the other end, Ibrahimovic secured the win.

Unmarked from six yards, he powered home Herrera’s cross to secure a memorable win and send United fans wild.

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Manny Pacquiao to fight Khan April 23


World Boxing Organization welterweight champion, Manny Pacquiao, will return to the ring on April 23, 2017 to fight Amir Khan.

The date was confirmed by Pacquiao and Khan via their verified Twitter handles on Sunday.

“Negotiations between team Pacquiao and team Khan have come to terms for the April 23 bout as this is what the fans wanted,” Pacquiao tweeted.

On his part, Khan wrote: “My team and I have agreed terms with Manny Pacquiao and his team for a super fight #pacquiaokhan #April23rd.”

A venue for the fight is yet to be announced.

Khan’s last fight was in May 2016, when he was knocked out by Mexican Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez.

Pacquaio retired in April last year, but returned to claim his belt by beating Jessie Vargas in November.

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Ronaldo Beats Messi By 800% When It Comes To Return On Social Media For Their Brands

rona messi

Lionel Messi took to Facebook this month to reveal a contract extension with German sportswear giant Adidas. It is reportedly a lifetime deal or at least until the end of Messi’s life on the pitch. No financial terms were released. Forbes estimates Messi earned $12 million annually under his prior agreement.

Messi’s longtime rival Cristiano Ronaldo signed his own “lifetime” deal with Nike at the end of 2015. Reports place that deal on par with LeBron James’ lifetime pact, which James’ business manager says is worth as much as a $1 billion.

The comparison between Ronaldo and Messi is never-ending. They play for the two most valuable soccer clubs in the world in Real Madrid and Barcelona. They were the two highest-paid athletes in the world last year, earning a combined $169 million. They won the Ballon d’Or as soccer’s top player nine straight years with the other ranking second every time but once (Messi has a record five nods with Ronaldo just behind at four).

They are close rivals in almost all respects, except when it comes to social media. Yes, Messi has a massive following on Instagram and Facebook (Adidas runs the Messi Twitter account) with 152 million fans. Only Neymar and Ronaldo have more followers. But when it comes to the value generated from those accounts, Messi gets lapped by Ronaldo, according to data from Hookit, which measures the social and digital media value for brands.

Ronaldo generated a staggering $500 million in value for Nike during 2016 from his social media accounts, which have 260 million followers, including 65 million new followers last year. His 120 million Facebook fans are more than anyone else on the planet. Ronaldo posted 347 times with a Nike logo or mention that had garnered 477 million interactions (likes, shares or comments). One Instagram post alone after Portugal won the Euro 2016 Final was worth $5.8 million to Nike thanks to 1.7 million likes and nearly 13,000 comments.

Messi has a vast following, but he produced “only” $53.5 million in value for Adidas on social media during 2016. Blame fewer posts that promoted Adidas (213) compared to Ronaldo/Nike and dramatically fewer interactions with 65 million (Hookit also factors in promotion quality to their values in regards to size and clarity). Messi’s top promoted post in 2016 was on Instagram in September with 2.5 million likes and 38,000 comments. It was worth $3.6 million in media value for Adidas.

While Messi is an Adidas guy and Ronaldo is aligned with Nike, their roles are flipped on their respective La Liga teams. Adidas has a deal with Ronaldo’s Real Madrid and Barcelona extended its deal with Nike last year at a price of $165 million per year (their national teams, Portugal and Argentina, are aligned the same as their player endorsement deals).

So Ronaldo promotes Nike’s biggest competitor in his posts when he is wearing Real Madrid uniforms or practice gear and vice-versa with Messi. In that sense, Ronaldo generated almost as much value for Adidas last year as Messi did. Ronaldo’s 36 promoted posts featuring the Adidas three stripes produced $50 million in media value thanks to 45 million interactions, per Hookit. An August training video of Ronaldo on Instagram heavily promoted Adidas and was worth $3.6 million.

Messi was much more restrained in his social posts featuring the Nike Swoosh. He had only two Nike posts in 2016 worth $830,000.

credit: forbes

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Mourinho pays tribute to Claudio Ranieri with initials on shirt


Jose Mourinho has criticized the Leicester City players for putting themselves first and letting down manager Claudio Ranieri before he was sacked just nine months after winning the Premier League title.

Mourinho turned up for his weekly press conference on Friday with the initials ‘CR’ printed on the front of his training top in dedication to Ranieri after posting a picture of the two men on social media.

The Portuguese coach also experienced being sacked by Chelsea in December 2015, the season after leading them to the title, but said that was ‘peanuts’ compared to the way Ranieri has been treated by Leicester.

Jose Mourinho wore a shirt with the letters ‘CR’ on it in tribute to sacked boss

But Mourinho saved his most scathing criticism for the Leicester players who are understood to have turned against their Italian manager as the fairy tale turned sour.

‘If some of the stories I am reading are true or are a little bit true, it’s hard to find words to justify that,’ he said. ‘As managers we have to be ready to cope with that.

‘Probably the season started with the typical selfishness of others, people thinking about new contracts, leaving, more money, forgetting who helped them to reach a certain level.

‘This is not just football it’s a bit of our world. Some principles are going away a little bit. I’m really sorry about it but I lived a similar experience. I thought last season when I was sacked as a champion it was a giant negative thing, now I realise it was peanuts to what happened with Claudio.’

Mourinho lines up alongside Ranieri in the tunnel ahead of this season's Community Shield

Mourinho lines up alongside Ranieri in the tunnel ahead of this season’s Community Shield

Ranieri led relegation tipped Leicester to a hugely unexpected Premier League title last season

Ranieri led relegation tipped Leicester to a hugely unexpected Premier League title last season

Asked about his tributes to Ranieri, Mourinho added: ‘It is my little homage to somebody that write the most beautiful history of the Premier League. Somebody that deserves the Leicester stadium to be named Claudio Ranieri (Stadium) and he is sacked.

‘Leicester made history two years in a row – one year because they did the most beautiful thing in the Premier League and one of most beautiful things in football history, now they are also in the highlights with the decision that I think has everyone in football united because it is something very very difficult to accept. It is good to realise how football is, and we need to adapt to it

‘My Instagram and shirt are homage. I don’t think he needs more homages because no-one can believe what he did. No one can do anything about it. No one can delete history.

‘I think it’s Claudio’s fault because if last season instead of being champion he finished 12th, it would be amazing and he would still be in a job because Leicester play not to be relegated. He’s paying for his success, it’s his fault.’

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Wayne Rooney staying after links with China


England captain Wayne Rooney says he is staying at Manchester United, after being linked with a move to China.

The 31-year-old striker said he hoped to “play a full part” in the rest of the Premier League club’s season.

United boss Jose Mourinho had refused to rule out the prospect of Rooney’s exit this month, although a deal before the Chinese transfer window closes on 28 February was always unlikely.

“It’s an exciting time at the club and I want to remain a part,” said Rooney.

Rooney’s agent, Paul Stretford, had travelled to China to see if he could negotiate a deal, although it is not known which clubs he spoke to.

Two of the three clubs who looked the most likely options – Beijing Guoan and Jiangsu Suning – dismissed speculation about a transfer.

Rooney’s representatives had already spoken to the third option – Tianjin Quanjian – but their coach, Fabio Cannavaro, said talks did not progress.

Rooney is United’s record goalscorer and has won five Premier League titles and a Champions League trophy since joining them as an 18-year-old for £27m from Everton in 2004.

The forward, whose contract expires in 2019, has said he would not play for an English club other than United or Everton.

United are sixth in the Premier League and remain in three cup competitions, having reached the last 16 of the Europa League on Wednesday.

They face Southampton in the EFL Cup final on Sunday before taking on Chelsea in the FA Cup quarter-finals on 13 March.

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Mourinho angry as FA Cup tie against Chelsea is announced before Europa League draws


Manchester United manager, Jose Mourinho, has blasted the organizers of the FA Cup, for announcing the date of their quarter-final clash at Chelsea before Europa league draws.

United sealed their passage into the last 16 of the Europa League with a 1-0 win over St Etienne on Wednesday.

They face a hectic fixture list over the next few weeks and their game at Stamford Bridge will be played on March 13, sandwiched between their Europa League last-16 first and second legs.

Mourinho is angry that the date was announced before the Europa League draws are conducted this Friday.

“Of course and I feel really surprised that the decision is made before our draw in Europe,” he said.

“Because in this moment nobody knows where we play, nobody knows where the first and second matches are. Imagine we play Chelsea on Monday and then we have to go to the second match in Europe in Russia, Turkey or Greece.

“I think once more the interests, they go in front of the clubs and English football’s interests, and nobody cares about it. But this is what I have.

“I cannot play against Chelsea with the second team. I cannot play against Chelsea with the U21s like Manchester City did last year. I cannot do that – we are Manchester United.

“I don’t do that as Manchester United manager. I don’t do that to the FA Cup because the FA Cup is not guilty of these decisions. The FA Cup is beautiful, the competition is historical. I have to treat Manchester United supporters and the FA Cup in the right way.

“I cannot go there with U21s. Probably they would deserve it, but I don’t do that, so what is going to happen is an accumulation of matches.

“People playing a lot of matches, I have to make some rotation but some of the boys will have to play in all these consecutive matches”, he said.

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“Why Messi is not celebrating his goals at Barcelona anymore”- Coach


Head coach of the Argentina national team, Edgardo Bauza, has said Lionel Messi is not celebrating his goals at Barcelona because he is very angry with criticisms that came after their 4-0 loss to Paris Saint-Germain.

Messi scored twice including a 90th-minute winner from the penalty spot, as Barca narrowly defeated Leganes 2-1 in La Liga on Sunday.

But he refused to celebrate the goal with the team, as the team had been jeered during the game.

“I think he reacted to the criticism he may have received after PSG,” Bauza told radio show, Joga Bonito.

“I noticed he was very angry when he scored the goals.”

Barca coach Luis Enrique, has already said he is not interested in if the 29-year-old celebrated or not.

Their win saw them move within a point of league leaders, Real Madrid, who have two games in hand.

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