Cristiano Ronaldo in limbo: Manchester United legend unwanted by elite clubs
Unwanted Ronaldo in limbo
According to sources who spoke to ESPN, Manchester United is convinced that Cristiano Ronaldo will remain at the club in January mostly due to a lack of interest in him.
If Ronaldo is unable to obtain a consistent spot in Erik ten Hag’s team, United is ready for him to launch another effort to leave Old Trafford. United is aware that he might want to leave in January in an effort to play regularly for the first team.
Despite Ronaldo having played three times this season for United in the Europa League, UEFA regulations would allow him to join a team in the Champions League in January and participate in the knockout rounds.
Despite Ronaldo’s well-known intention to leave in the summer, United only had one firm offer, which was rejected by both Ronaldo’s camp and United, from a club in Saudi Arabia. It is still unknown, according to club-related sources, how much of a market there would be for the 37-year-old in January.
- Out of respect, Ten Hag removed Ronaldo from the team.
Ronaldo was reportedly connected to Champions League teams like Chelsea, Napoli, and Bayern Munich over the summer, but United never received a proposal from any European club.
There is an acceptance, sources told ESPN. Chelsea’s stance may have altered once Graham Potter took over for Thomas Tuchel as manager, but they did ease their front-line issues by signing Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang toward the end of the transfer window.
Ronaldo has had a difficult start to the season, just scoring once (a penalty against Sheriff in the Europa League), and United manager Ten Hag recently said that the No. 7 is “pissed” with his lack of playing time.
According to sources who spoke to ESPN, Ten Hag is sympathetic to Ronaldo’s predicament but would be reluctant to allow him to depart in January. The likelihood that a replacement for the Portugal forward may be found is decreased because the Dutchman has already been informed that it is highly unlikely there would be money to invest until next summer. Robert Dawson
Messi returning to Barcelona ?
Lionel Messi’s potential return to Barcelona has been discussed internally, but according to many sources who spoke to ESPN, the likelihood of a deal is still slim.
When his contract with Paris Saint-Germain expires in June, Messi, 35, will not entertain any negotiations about his future until after the World Cup in Qatar this year. Barca is one of the teams keeping an eye on the situation.
Messi signed a two-year initial contract with PSG in 2021, with an option to extend the agreement by another season if both parties so desired. With eight goals in 13 matches to open his second season in France, PSG is eager to re-sign Messi. According to certain reports, staying in Paris is currently the most likely outcome.
In the summer, Barca president Joan Laporta told ESPN that Messi’s “chapter” at the club merits a greater conclusion than the one it received the previous year. Xavi Hernandez is also amenable to his former teammate’s comeback.
While sources tell ESPN that a deal would not necessarily be simple to complete, vice president Eduard Romeu has stated that it would be financially feasible for Messi to join as a free agent. Messi’s unpaid earnings from the pandemic are still owed to Barca.
Inter Miami would be Messi’s most likely destination in Major League Soccer, which is also interested in him. According to sources, Argentina’s recent match in Miami versus Honduras laid the groundwork for a potential relocation in the future. — Moises Llorens and Sam Marsden
Chelsea left it too late for Leao
Rafael Leao had a late-summer bid from Chelsea, according to AC Milan technical director Paolo Maldini, but ESPN can now reveal just how late the Blues made their interest known.
Early in the summer, Chelsea made contact with the Serie A team about the Portuguese winger, but they didn’t submit a formal, written offer until the final three days. The verbal offer, which is believed to have been below €100 million and was much lower than Milan’s estimate and the player’s €150 million release clause, was made by Chelsea. Given how late Chelsea’s interest arose and the short amount of time available to find and sign a replacement, the move was a non-starter.
His current deal expires in 2024, and Milan has a strong desire to keep the 23-year-old. As such, negotiations to extend it are set to start soon.
We’ll have to wait and see if Chelsea can make another attempt to sign Leao in January or the following summer. He embodies the younger, more progressive type of player that Todd Boehly and Clearlake Capital, the club’s co-owners, have recognised as essential to its future. To secure their guy, though, they will need to get their act together much earlier than the deadline–James Olley
How Pep Guardiola targeted Lisandro Martinez in Manchester Derby
According to insiders who spoke with ESPN, Pep Guardiola targeted Lisandro Martinez in order to orchestrate Manchester City’s derby thrashing of Manchester United on Sunday. However, the tactic had nothing to do with the defender’s stature.
At the Etihad, City defeated Erik ten Hag’s group 6-3 after sprinting to a 4-0 halftime lead. By game’s end, the Premier League champions had hat tricks from Erling Haaland and Phil Foden.
Martinez, an international for Argentina, was supposed to mark the 6-foot-4 Haaland, although it had been noted prior to the game that his short stature could be a problem. He is only 5 feet 9 inches tall and he neutralized Haaland when playing for Ajax in their 4-0 Champions League victory against Borussia Dortmund last season, despite their evident physical differences.
Prior to the United match, Guardiola had downplayed Martinez’s short stature as a problem, complimenting the 24-year-old instead for his defensive skills and game reading. However, sources informed ESPN that City’s game plan was based on Martinez being so focused on containing Haaland that he would leave openings in the left side of United’s back four for Foden to take advantage of.
According to sources, Guardiola pushed Foden to attack the gap in that part of the field because he believed Martinez and Raphael Varane would double up on Haaland. Guardiola was right, and Foden and Kevin De Bruyne destroyed Ten Hag’s team by taking advantage of holes in the United back four that were left by Martinez’s switch to Haaland.
City led 6-1 after 73 minutes and 4-0 at the interval. United cut the deficit to one goal late on thanks to two strikes from Anthony Martial.
According to sources who spoke to ESPN, Guardiola constantly reminded his team to “remember Leicester” after watching City nearly blow a 4-0 halftime lead against the Foxes last season. City went on to win 6-3 after Brendan Rodgers’ players had brought the score back to 4-3 early in the second half. “Mark Ogden”
PSG plan second attempt to sign Skriniar
According to sources who spoke to ESPN, Paris Saint-Germain will make another attempt to sign the Slovakian defender in January after failing to reach an agreement with Inter Milan about the transfer of Milan Skriniar.
Inter rejected PSG’s offers of about €60 million because they wanted €80 million. The Ligue 1 champions are currently putting up a fresh €30 million bid for the winter transfer window.
The 27-year-old Skriniar’s contract expires at the end of the current campaign, and he has no interest in staying with Inter. The Nerazzurri, who last week disclosed losses of €140 million, can’t afford to let Skriniar depart for free, therefore they might be willing to accept PSG’s new offer.
Inter kept their player in the hopes that they could persuade him to sign a new contract, but they have so far been unable in doing so. — Laurens Julien
Vlahovic Double Helps Juventus beat Salernitana 3-0.
Juventus beat Salernitana 3-0 in Serie A on Tuesday, with striker Dusan Vlahovic scoring two goals and setting up another to lift the visitors to 10th in the table.
Vlahovic, a Serb who has been injured a lot this season but played in the league for the first time since October, found his old form again in this match.
Hans Nicolussi gave Juventus a penalty kick when he sent Manuel Locatelli off in the 26th minute. Vlahovic converted the penalty.
Vlahovic almost scored a second goal in the 37th minute, but his shot from the edge of the box from an acute angle went just past the post.
At the end of the first half, Filip Kostic made it 2-0 when he tapped the ball in from close range after Vlahovic’s initial shot had bounced into his path.
In the last seconds before the halftime break, Locatelli ran into the penalty area unchallenged and gave Juventus a chance to score a third goal. However, Salernitana goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa reacted quickly to prevent Locatelli from lobbing the ball over him.
80 seconds into the second half, Vlahovic scored his second goal when he ran through the penalty area and shot the ball flat into the right corner.
In the 51st minute, Junior Zambia hit a cross that reached almost everyone in the box, but Salernitana striker Boulaye Dia could not stretch far enough to put the ball in the open net.
“The team responded well and we played a good first half. But after taking a 3-0 lead, we got a little too comfortable and allowed too many shots on goal. We did not move enough and stayed in the same places, and the players know we have to do better,” Allegri said.
“In the first 10 minutes we played the ball too often down the right side. We need to improve the passing game, become more supple and keep things simple.”
Angel Di Maria hit the crossbar after 53 minutes and Moise Kean hit the post just before the end of the game, preventing Juve from adding to their tally.
The win moved Juventus to 26 points after 21 games, while Salernitana dropped to 21 points and 16th place.
Spanish football’s poor treatment of Vinicius Jr encourages racist abuse.
Vinicius Junior is a great winger for Real Madrid. He is young, talented, exciting and successful. Moreover, he is black and comes from Brazil. In my opinion, he is treated terribly in Spanish football and in some parts of the country. Partly because of the colour of his skin. What is happening is a disgrace, and people who are fair, decent, and honest should be outraged and protesting about it.
Last season, when he was still 21 years old, he was part of the best, most important and exciting duo in all of football. He and Karim Benzema combined to score and set up 100 goals and assists as Real Madrid won the Spanish and European titles simultaneously for the second time in 64 years. He played a huge part in this amazing achievement.
This season, Vinicius Jr was involved in 19 goals in 31 games (13 goals and 6 assists), in a team plagued by injuries. When Ballon d’Or winner Karim Benzema was out with an injury, Vinicius Jr had to take over Benzema’s duties. He’s doing a good job, even if Madrid is finding it difficult to play as consistently and strongly as they did last season.
At 22 years old, he is a winger, not a goalkeeper, not an organising midfielder, and not an experienced centre back. I say that because it’s important that you understand how important he’s become: he’s by far Madrid’s most used player this season and has played more minutes than anyone else. He has been in the starting eleven in 31 of Los Blancos’ 32 games and has played in all of them.
The European champion will play at least 25 more games this season, but could play up to 32 more. If all else remained the same, this young man with what Carlo Ancelotti calls “amazing, elite athleticism and robustness” would be in every single starting eleven XI of the Italian coach’s squad, which could be 64 games.
But if those who bully, provoke, insult and attack him here in Spain have their way, this rising star, who finished eighth in last year’s Ballon d’Or voting, will be injured or suspended for most of those games. That’s how bad people are who try to hurt Vinicius Junior .
In recent weeks, Vinicius has worked hard to play well even though almost everyone else on Ancelotti’s team has struggled for one reason or another. He’s had to watch a picture of him being hung from a bridge in Madrid, he’s had to deal with racist abuse from fans that LaLiga has confirmed in several games this season, and he’s had to deal with Valencia’s Gabriel Paulista trying to kick him in the air, which was an outrageous and unacceptable action. Vinicius is fouled more often than any other player in any of the top five European leagues. He also has to listen to or read a lot of stupid sayings from people who should know better that he, Vinicius Junior , is the problem.
If all this happened to a young, white Spaniard, I think there would be a huge outcry of horror, and everyone would agree on who is right and who is wrong. Even though I have no proof, this is my honest and firm opinion.
Mallorca isn’t the only villain in this situation, but they’re a good example of how Spain and Spanish football are letting Vinicius Junior down. Over the weekend, the winger was fouled 10 more times. In Madrid’s 1-0 defeat, opposing and home fans created a hostile environment, but not always. One of his attackers, Pablo Maffeo, tricked the referee into giving him a yellow card.
Alejandro Hernandez Hernandez, the referee, would have needed eyes in the back of his head and three or four assistants to keep track of all the tricks used to hurt, bully and annoy the young Brazilian star. Since Isco in 2013, no Madrid player has been fouled as many times every nine minutes as Vinicius at Son Moix. Ten years without such treatment.
The behaviour of most Mallorca players is sad and underhanded, because they started this growing grudge, turned it into strategic bullying, and proved that George Bernard Shaw was right when he said that wrestling with pigs is a bad idea. “Never wrestle with pigs. You’ll both get dirty, but the pigs will love it,” said the great Irish playwright.
In other words, there are some fights you shouldn’t get into, because even if you win, you always end up looking bad. That’s how it’s gone so far between Vinicius and Maffeo, Martin Valjent and Antonio Raillo, all playing for Mallorca.
This rivalry was evident in Madrid’s 3-0 win on the island in March. Referee Jose Maria Sanchez Martinez saw nothing wrong with Maffeo’s lunge with his legs outstretched and studs against Vinicius, which hit both of the winger’s legs, right shin and left knee. When Vinicius refused Maffeo’s offer to pick him up off the ground, a scuffle ensued. Valjent and Raillo both walked up to the Brazilian, poked him in the chest and told him to shut up. Maffeo grabbed Vinicius by the shirt and yelled at him for not shaking hands and complained to the referee. Vinicius was given a card for his protest, which meant that the one who had committed a nasty, deliberate flying tackle that should have resulted in a straight red card and a long suspension got off unpunished.
Since then, these and other players have been trying to make people believe that Vinicius is the problem.
The Brazilian player has begun to defend himself against the insults they and other thugs hurl at him. He calls them names, asks the referees to protect him, and makes angry and frustrated gestures to the sky. In Paulista’s case last week, Vinicius jumped up from the ground where he had fallen and ran toward his Brazilian colleague. He almost struck, but managed to stop himself just in time.
At this point, it’s clear that Vinicius isn’t without blame. He’s now stuck in the mud.
As G.B. Shaw warned, people who want to paint the Brazilian as a “bad guy” or a “problem” can now use his aggressive response to the attacks as false evidence of his guilt, thanks to their bad behaviour and the incredibly short attention span of some media and fans. Gaslighting is underhanded and cannot be tolerated. That’s just the way it’s.
The other day, Maffeo said: “When I was in school, my teachers said I wasn’t very good at following rules. My mother told me that the teachers can’t all have it in for me, so I must be doing something wrong. I think Vinicius feels the same way. We don’t all have it in for him, we just think there must be something.”
In the days leading up to the game, Raillo said, “If I ever had to show my kid two great Madrid players, it would be [Luka] Modric or [Toni] Kroos, but never Vinicius
Last month, when Madrid overturned a 2-0 deficit to beat Villarreal 3-2 in the Copa del Rey, Vinicius scored the first goal. After the game, a short-tempered journalist asked Ancelotti, “…but with Vinicius there are always some problems…” The Italian replied, “From what I saw, his opponents kicked him a lot today, as they always do.”
Ancelotti said Sunday afternoon, “Today the referee didn’t care about the many fouls. When fouls happen over and over again, the player should be sent off. Vinicius isn’t to blame for what is happening. He just wants to play football, but his opponents make it difficult for him because they foul him. In this case, the focus on the outside world has to change. Now it’s time to find out what happened to Vinicius today
During the night, when Paulista tried to pull Vinicius’ leg away from his body, the winger’s Madrid teammates reacted in a very important way. Previously, they often left him to himself and gave him the ball as soon as the game started again, so he could hurt the people who disturbed him.
Not this time. They also know that things will soon get completely out of control.
The Valencia defender was sought by Eduardo Camavinga, Aurelien Tchouameni, Dani Ceballos and even an injured Eder Militao. It was a clear and threatening “all for one and one for all” moment that should send a message to all future rivals: If you come for him, we’ll come for you.
Nacho’s message after the defeat in Mallorca was more moderate, like Ancelotti’s. He said, “I think people are creating a bad environment for Vinicius, which doesn’t help anyone, least of all him. We all love football, so let’s stop being so stupid”
A wise theme that is both balanced and hopeful.
Worryingly, vengeful opponents have noticed that Vinicius is often prepared for four fights at the start of every game: against his teammate, against the other team, against the referee and against the fans. This is because he’s drawn into a well-planned and malicious campaign to “hunt Vinicius down and then gas him.” He’ll eventually be distracted from his main goal, which is to win games. In the end, he’ll take out his frustration and anger on himself and be sent away. Eventually, the circus will get even bigger.
Can’t Maffeo, Valjent, Raillo, Paulista and people like them realise that their actions give racists a reason to do things like call Vinicius racist names on Sunday and hang the effigy on a bridge before the Madrid derby last month?
The way Vinicius is being treated is a big, ugly and increasingly bad problem for Spanish football. It’s time for everyone who sees things as they really are to keep raising their voices until this brilliant artist can do his work without being treated badly because of who he’s or the colour of his skin.
Lionel Messi regrets his World Cup match against Netherlands.
Lionel Messi has expressed guilt for his actions during and after Argentina’s World Cup quarterfinal victory over the Netherlands in Qatar.
Messi and his teammates were chastised after winning on penalties after a 2-2 stalemate on December 9.
The Paris Saint-Germain star celebrated his 73rd-minute penalty goal by sprinting in front of Netherlands coach Louis van Gaal and cupping his ears.
Messi said Van Gaal “disrespected” Argentina in his “pregame statements” after the game.
In a Paris interview with Andy Kusnetzoff’s “Perros de la Calle,” Messi claimed, “I knew what Van Gaal had said but it [the goal celebration] happened on the spur of the moment.”
“I hated my actions and what followed. Nervous situations arise swiftly.”
At full-time, the Argentina captain argued with Van Gaal and Edgar Davids.
During a postgame interview, Messi supposedly shouted at Netherlands goalkeeper Wout Weghorst, “What are you checking fool out? Bring there back.”
In the interim, Messi expressed he wouldn’t have it differently, in spite of the huge delay to lift the World Cup.
Argentina won their first World Cup in quite a while on punishments against France in Qatar, Messi’s fifth World Cup.
“On the off chance that I needed to pick a second, I guess it would have been this one,” Messi expressed. “It’s close to the furthest limit of my vocation, finishing a circle.
“I achieved all that I had expected with the public group. Separately, I accomplished everything in my profession. It was a fitting finish to my vocation.
“I never envisioned any of this would happen to me when I began, and arriving at this point has been the best… I have no issues and can’t request much else.
“We won the Copa America  and the World Cup; nothing else is left.”
Messi communicated lament that Diego Maradona couldn’t see Argentina’s most memorable World Cup triumph since the Napoli star helped his nation in lifting the prize in 1986.
Maradona, Messi’s mentor at the 2010 World Cup, passed on in December 2020.
“I wish Diego Maradona had given me the [World] Cup or in any event seen all of this,” Messi added.
“To have seen Argentina as title holders, considering the amount he looked for it and the amount he cherished the public group. I accept he from a position of great authority, as well as numerous others who care for me, invigorated me.”