Chelsea transfer news: Willian hopes David Luiz stays at Stamford Bridge



The defender has entered the final six months of his contract, and his fellow Brazilian is optimistic he will remain at Stamford Bridge

Willian is hopeful fellow Brazilian David Luiz stays at Chelsea beyond the end of the season when his current contract is due to expire.

Centre-back Luiz has regained his place in the Chelsea starting XI this term under Maurizio Sarri, having only made 10 Premier League appearances for Antonio Conte last season.

The former Paris Saint-Germain defender is into the final six months of his contract, meaning he is able to begin discussing end-of-season moves to other clubs.

Sarri has spoken of his desire to see Luiz stay put, but at 31, he appears likely to only be offered a one-year extension due to Chelsea’s policy with players over 30, something which may not be an issue at another club.

Willian, however, is optimistic they will all come to an agreement in the end.

When asked if he wants Luiz to stay, Willian said: “For sure, of course. I want [him to stay].

“We have to see if they, the club, will want him. I think they want him. For me, I want him to stay.”

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Willian’s own contract is due to end in 2020 and there have been few reports indicating an extension is on the cards.

But the attacking midfielder is not worried and in no rush to have his future planned out.

“I’m fine, I’m fine,” he said. “No rush about that. We can talk about that in the future, no problem.”



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Barcelona agree terms with Ajax starlet Frenkie De Jong



Barcelona have agreed on the terms of a contract with in-demand Ajax youngster Frenkie De Jong, according to numerous outlets.

Ajax prodigy

De Jong, a versatile 21-year-old central midfielder who can also play in defence, made the move to Ajax from fellow Eredivisie outfit Willem II in the summer of 2015.

After struggling for game-time during his first couple of seasons in Amsterdam, De Jong burst one the scene last season, on his way to 22 league appearances.

The youngster even managed to chip in with a hugely impressive 8 assists in the Eredivisie.

Frenkie De Jong

Frenkie De Jong challenges Marouane Fellaini during the UEFA Europa League Final between Ajax and Manchester United

And the current campaign has only seen De Jong’s prominence in his home country grow stronger, with the gifted midfielder having played a starring role in Ajax’s 15 wins from 17 thus far in the league, as well as the club’s impressive run to the Last-16 of the Champions League.

In addition, De Jong has racked up 5 caps for the Netherlands since the turn of the year.

Barcelona vs Man City

As such, news that the 21-year-old is being tracked by a whole host of European giants has come as little surprise.

To this point, the two clubs most persistently linked with a move for De Jong have been Barcelona and Manchester City.

However, a report from Spanish outlet Sport last week suggested that the latter of these sides were firmly out of the running for the Dutchman, due to De Jong having confirmed to Pep Guardiola that he has no intention of plying his trade in the Premier League for the time being.

Frenkie de Jong during the UEFA Champions League third round qualifying match between Ajax and Royal Standard de Liege

Barcelona bound

And Sport (via Fotbollskanalen) have since backed their original claim with a further report, which states that Barcelona have managed to secure a deal with De Jong.

The two parties are said to have agreed on the terms of a five-year-deal. This would see the midfield starlet make the move to the Camp Nou next summer.

German outlet Bild, meanwhile, have tonight doubled down on such claims.

All that remains now is for Barca to find a deal with Ajax. This will likely prove no easy task, however. The Eredivisie powerhouse are rumoured to be demanding a fee in the region of 75 million Euro for De Jong. The Blaugrana, though, are hopeful of securing an agreement for closer to 60 million Euro.

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Manchester United: Solskjaer confident he and his staff have the faith of Ferguson



The legendary manager has cast a long shadow of Manchester United since leaving in 2013, but the current boss feels he has the Scot’s faith.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is convinced he and his coaching staff have the faith of managerial legend Alex Ferguson because they are “Manchester United through and through”.

Solskjaer has enjoyed a strong start to life back at United since being installed as caretaker manager, replacing the sacked Jose Mourinho.

United have won all three games under Solskjaer’s guidance, scoring 12 goals in the process, but perhaps the biggest difference is the free-flowing, attacking football on display.

Some fans argue United have not played with such freedom and attacking sharpness since the immensely successful Ferguson brought an end to his 26-and-a-half-year tenure in 2013.

The shadow of Ferguson has loomed large during the respective reigns of David Moyes, Louis van Gaal and Mourinho, but there is a more familiar look to those leading United at the moment, with Solskjaer joined by Mike Phelan, Michael Carrick and Mark Dempsey.

“I’ve had him [as a direct influence] for 15 years, so obviously he’s influenced me in the 15 years before [more] than he has in the last week,” Solskjaer told reporters.

“But obviously I do keep him informed, and he did pay us a visit. I think he enjoyed his time on the training ground, and we had a nice few chats, us and the staff.

“He encouraged us, he knows that we – the staff I’ve got – are Manchester United through and through.

“He knows that we will do whatever we can, up until the last second we’re here, for us and Manchester United to do the best we can.”

Despite Solskjaer’s strong start, some pundits have been keen to temper the excitement, pointing out that his three opponents – Cardiff City, Huddersfield Town and Bournemouth – have been modest.

The Norwegian – whose only previously Premier League managerial experience came in an ill-fated spell at Cardiff – accepts he has no idea if he truly belongs at United’s level, but he is adamant his familiarity with the club counts for something.

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“I don’t know if I’m at home at this level, but I’m home at this club,” he said.

“That’s the thing, I’ve spent 15 years here, and seeing all these people when you walk through the corridors here, it’s me and I’m comfortable in the environment.

“So, it’s up to you [the media] to probably rate me if I’m up to the level, but I’m definitely enjoying my time back home.”





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Footballers celebrate New Years: ‘Happy New Year Everyone’ – Mbappe, Hummels and Fabregas leads 2019 good wishes



The trio are among a clutch of players to offer their best to the world as 2018 draws to an end

The new year is here, with football fans the world over getting into the spirit as we move into 2019.

And while some have matches to prepare for, footballers are no different in enjoying themselves to close the year and celebrate the move into a new one.

Kylian Mbappe, Cesc Fabregas and Luka Modric are among the star names who are having some fun and offering some reflection one what surely was a memorable 2018…





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Wolverhampton Wanderers to wait on Traore ahead of Crystal Palace clash



The 22-year-old suffered a hamstring injury in their comeback victory over Tottenham Hotspur and he is a race to be fit for their tie with the Eagles

Wolverhampton Wanderers manager Nuno Espirito Santo is hoping Adama Traore recovers from an injury ahead of New Year Day’s fixture against Crystal Palace on Wednesday.

The winger was replaced in the 59th minute in their comeback 3-1 victory over Tottenham Hotspur at the Wembley Stadium on Saturday after suffering a hamstring injury.

However, the Spanish tactician has explained that he will wait to decide on the involvement of the former Middlesbrough player against Roy Hodgson’s side.

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“I don’t think it’s nothing special. We’ll have to wait and see,” Nuno was quoted as saying by Birmingham Mail.

Since joining the side in the summer, Traore has made 17 league appearances, involving six starts and scoring once.

Wolverhampton Wanderers are seventh in the league standings with 29 points from 20 games.



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Manchester United boss Solskjaer slams Bailly’s rash tackle on Ryan Fraser



The Cote d’Ivoire international was sent off after a harsh challenge on the Cherries winger at Old Trafford

Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has slammed Eric Bailly’s tackle in their 4-1 victory over Bournemouth in Sunday’s Premier League game.

The 24-year-old who made his eighth league appearance in the tie was sent off by referee Lee Mason in the 79th minute after a two-footed tackle on Ryan Fraser.

The dismissal of the defender forced the Norwegian tactician to introduce Phil Jones after withdrawing Anthony Martial and he is displeased with the ‘rash challenge’ from the former Villarreal man.

“Eric [Bailly] knows it is a rash challenge, he doesn’t have to do it. Just stay on your feet,” Solskjaer said.

“But once in a while, when the boys are excited, we want to win the ball back and sometimes we mistime a challenge.

“Eric is the first one to accept that he made a mistake.”

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Bailly will subsequently miss the Red Devils’ clash with Newcastle United at St James’ Park on Wednesday.

Manchester United, having won three games on the bounce, are sixth in the league log with 35 points from 20 games.

 



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Manchester City vs. Liverpool: ‘Always pressure playing for Liverpool’ – Robertson sees no extra nerves ahead of clash



Sitting at the top of the table ahead of a massive clash against Manchester City, the full-back says the Reds aren’t feeling any extra nerves

It’s set up for a classic.

The Premier League’s two best teams going head-to-head. Stakes high, stage set. All eyes on the Etihad this Thursday.

Manchester City and Liverpool have produced some memorable clashes in recent times, and this promises to be another.

For the home side, the champions, it is the chance to rein in the challengers, who are threatening to cut loose at the top of the Premier League. For Liverpool, the idea of securing a 10th straight league win is seductive. Win at the Etihad, and they will be 10 points clear of Pep Guardiola’s side having played them home and away.

“Of course it’s a huge game,” says Andy Robertson, who surely has no equals right now when it comes to Premier League full-backs. “If we win then we’re 10 points clear of them and of course that’s huge.

“But on the flip side they’ll be thinking they can close the gap to four points which isn’t as big. Look it’s a massive game, of course it is. It’s two good teams going at it and we look forward to it.”

City and Liverpool met four times in 2018, with Jurgen Klopp’s side winning three and the other, at Anfield back in October, ending goalless.

The Reds arrive into the game top of the table, unbeaten in 21 league contests stretching back to May and with the division’s meanest defence behind them. In 20 matches, Robertson and Co. have conceded just eight times.

It’s a remarkable record, but there are lessons from recent history for Liverpool to learn from. It was they, after all, who ended a similarly impressive run from City last January, beating them 4-3 at Anfield just as Guardiola’s side were being talked about as ‘invincibles’.

Liverpool, of course, went on to beat City home and away in the Champions League quarter-finals, demolishing the eventual league champions with swift, energetic, attacking football.

The most recent meeting, though, was rather different, with the sides playing out a cagey affair at Anfield. City may have won it, but missed a late penalty through Riyad Mahrez.

A draw this time would suit Liverpool, who would remain seven clear of City – and at least seven ahead of Tottenham, who play Cardiff on New Year’s Day. It promises to be a fascinating tactical tussle.

“We play the way that the game tells us to play,” says Robertson. “Arsenal were quite open and we took advantage of that.

“The way we played was attacking and we scored the goals. In any game you can play like that, but obviously every game is different and we need to wait and see how the game is going to be.

“The difference in the Champions League [second leg] game is they [City] obviously had to win by four goals or whatever so they had to come out. They only need to win by one on Thursday.

“Look they’re a fantastic team, a very experienced team and they’ve been in this position before. They’ve won the title. It’s something that we’ve never had. They’re probably more experienced than us in this position but we look forward to it.

“We’re in a good moment just now and they’ll be looking to bounce back and then go full throttle into us. We’ll be wary of that but we need to be at our best and if we can, we can cause any team problems.”

They certainly caused Arsenal problems last time out. Despite the shock of going 1-0 down – the first time they had trailed at Anfield in the league in 364 days – Klopp’s team responded in style to win 5-1. “One of our best performances of the season,” Robertson says.

No wonder there is talk, tentative though it is, of a first league title since 1990. Liverpool, so far, have shown remarkable strength and precious few weaknesses. They look, as City did last season, like a team that opponents fear.

“You need to ask other teams about that!” smiles Robertson. “We spoke about City last season and I’m sure every other team. did. They were very hard to beat. Of course we did it here in the league and the Champions League but in the league, not many people could touch them.

“But the thing is, they completed it and they’ve got their winners’ medal and the trophy. Just now, we have nothing and that’s why at the end of the season, hopefully we can talk about it.”

He adds: “Of course we hope that we win it but we know how hard it is and we know two teams, probably even more, are right behind us and causing us all sorts of problems. We know they’ll be right on our tails so we keep our feet on the ground and hopefully by then we’ll be celebrating. But we take it game by game.”

His words echo his manager’s. Klopp has been keen to squash talk of the title in his pre and post-match press conferences, insisting that the next challenge is always the greatest challenge.

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His players, though, appear to be relishing their time on top of the pile. Pressure? They don’t seem to be feeling it right now.

“I think there is pressure always playing for this club,” says Robertson. “Fans demand it and we demand it so in terms of different pressures, we are top of the league and we need to keep on going.

“To come through December with the fixtures we had unscathed is a good achievement but nothing is achieved in December so we kick on now and go into 2019 full of momentum and it is about using that properly and if we can, hopefully it is a good year for us all.”



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Chelsea reject Bayern Munich offer for Callum Hudson-Odoi



As per a report from Sky Sports, Chelsea have knocked back a bid from Bayern Munich for youngster Callum Hudson-Odoi.

Chelsea prodigy

Hudson-Odoi, an 18-year-old winger/forward, has been on Chelsea’s books since joining the club at U8-level.

And the gifted attacker has since gone on to establish himself as one of, if not the most highly-regarded starlet on the books of the Blues.

Hudson-Odoi first broke into the first-team ranks at Stamford Bridge last season, under Antonio Conte.

However, he has since majorly struggled for game-time to this point in the current campaign. All told, the English youth international has been handed just 2 starts across all competitions by Maurizio Sarri.

And this lack of first-team assurances has seen Hudson-Odoi continue to stall on signing a new Chelsea contract.

The gifted teen’s current deal is set to expire in the summer of 2020.

Bayern turned away

As such, a number of European heavyweights are understandably rumoured to be expressing an interest in the Blues’ prodigy’s signature.

Chief among these are Bundesliga giants Bayern Munich.

And, as per the aforementioned report from Sky Sports, the Bavarians have today seen a second offer for Hudson-Odoi rejected by Chelsea.

The bid, which followed a rumoured opening offer of 13.5 million Euro, was this time worth 20 million.

However, Sky claim that Chelsea informed Bayern that it will require no less than 40 million Euro to prise the prodigious attacker away from the club.

Chelsea Callum Hudson-Odoi

Callum Hudson-Odoi celebrates after scoring during the UEFA Europa League Group L match between Chelsea and PAOK

‘The Sancho effect’

Bundesliga expert Raphael Honigstein, meanwhile, revealed earlier today that Hudson-Odoi is widely-viewed as the next Jadon Sancho in Germany:

‘There’s been a lot of clubs interested in him, and he’s made so much progress.’

‘His stock has risen to the point where he’s gone from Borussia Monchengladbach to Dortmund, to right at the top now where Bayern are interested in him.’

‘It’s the (Jadon) Sancho effect – everyone thinks they can get the next Sancho, and I also think from his point of view, he thinks he can be the next Sancho, doing what Sancho’s done going to the Bundesliga.’

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Real Madrid’s plans for Man City youngster Brahim Diaz revealed


Brahim Diaz


Spanish outlet Marca have this evening provided an insight into European champions’ Real Madrid’s plans for Brahim Diaz.

City prodigy

Diaz, a 19-year-old attacking midfielder, has been on Manchester City’s books since 2013.

He made the move to Manchester from La Liga outfit Malaga for a development fee of £200,000.

The gifted teen, who has already been capped at Spanish U21-level, went on to make his debut for the Citizens at the tender age of 17 in September of 2016, though he has since largely-struggled for game-time.

Last season saw the Spaniard handed 5 Premier League appearances by Pep Guardiola. However, none of these came as starts, and amounted to a grand total of just 50 minutes.

In addition, Diaz is yet to appear in a single league outing to this point in the current campaign.

He did, however, put in a starring performance during City’s 2-0 Carabao Cup defeat of Fulham last month.

Brahim Diaz

Brahim Diaz celebrates after scoring during the Carabao Cup Fourth Round match between Manchester City and Fulham

Diaz showcased both his class and eye for goal with a brace to lead the Sky Blues to the competition’s quarter-finals.

Real bound

However, despite being widely-regarded as one of the finest prospects on City’s books, Diaz is expected to depart the Etihad in the near future.

The Spaniard’s current Citizens contract is due to expire next summer, with La Liga giants Real Madrid known to be keen to coax Diaz back to his home country.

A report from Marca last month even went as far as to state that a deal which will see the gifted midfielder make the move to the Bernabeu on a free transfer next summer has already been agreed.

And the Spanish outlet have since backed their previous claims this evening. Marca state that all that is missing from the transfer at this point in time is an official announcement.

In addition, the Madrid-based publication have also shed some light on Real’s plans for Diaz.

Los Blancos will reportedly not opt to send the youngster out on loan, or assign him to the club’s Castilla youth side. Instead, Diaz will immediately be handed a place in the first-team setup of the European champions for next season.

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Footballers celebrate New Years: ‘Happy New Year Everyone’ – Mbappe, Hummels and Fabregas leads 2019 good wishes



The France and PSG forward is among a clutch of players to offer their best to the world as 2018 draws to an end

The new year is here, with football fans the world over getting into the spirit as we move into 2019.

And while some have matches to prepare for, footballers are no different in enjoying themselves to close the year and celebrate the move into a new one.

Kylian Mbappe, Cesc Fabregas and Luka Modric are among the star names who are having some fun and offering some reflection one what surely was a memorable 2018…





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