Cristiano Ronaldo’s threat to Juventus refuted

Reports that Juventus talisman was eyeing up a Biaconeri exit two years before the end of his contract has been debunked.

La Repubblica reported on Thursday that Juve’s Champions League exit had prompted Ronaldo to consider his future at the club, despite having three years left on his contract.

Both La Repubblica and Gazzetta dello Sport claim that Ronaldo was left furious by the manner of Juve’s Champions League quarter-final exit at the hands of Ajax, a result which ensures that he won’t be taking part in the last four of the competition for the first time since the 2019/10 campaign.

Meanwhile, a journalist with close links to Cristiano Ronaldo has refuted claims that the No 7 is thinking about leaving Juventus.

Edu Aguirre told El Chiringuito – which broke the news of Zinedine Zidane’s return to Real Madrid – that was not the case.

Real Madrid close to deal for Bundesliga striker as Bayern Munich, Manchester City circle

There are reports in Spain that Real Madrid are close to a deal with striker Luka Jovic as they look to revamp their attack this summer.

The Serb is in his second year on loan at Frankfurt from Benfica and made the move permanent earlier this week for a reported fee of just €7million (£6m).

Jovic has scored 25 goals across all competitions this campaign to help Frankfurt into the semi-finals of the Europa League against Chelsea and now the German side are expected to cash in on his remarkable rise.

According to Spanish outlet AS, as reported by The Daily Mail, Real are now close to reaching an agreement with Frankfurt for the 21-year-old.

It is claimed Frankfurt will hold out for a deal between £43m and £50m with Benfica due 20 per cent of any fee.

Zinedine Zidane has been promised significant backing in the transfer market this summer as he looks to rejuvenate his Madrid squad following a disappointing season.

Jovic would provide competition for Karim Benzema as Zidane focuses on catching Barcelona domestically and improving on their disappointing Champions League campaign this season.

Manchester City and Bayern Munich are also keeping tabs on Jovic, and the Premier League club even ‘sent scouts to watch him play’ against Benfica in the first leg of their Europa League quarter-final last week.

City director Txiki Begiristain was reportedly on the guest list to watch Frankfurt’s Europa League quarter-final first leg against his former club.

The Sun claimed Begiristain was there to make notes on the prolific striker as Pep Guardiola remains on the lookout for new emerging talent to compete with Sergio Aguero and Gabriel Jesus.

Sarri reveals Chelsea decision on Olivier Giroud future

Chelsea boss Maurizio Sarri has confirmed the decision of the club to retain their striker Olivier Giroud.

The Frenchman complained on Wednesday about his role as second striker for the Stamford Bridge club, stating that he has received offers from other clubs.

The France international striker sees his current deal expire this summer, but Sarri says Chelsea have agreed to activate a year-long extension.

Responding to Giroud’s claims he is unsure about his future, Sarri told Sky Sports News: “He is sure, because the club has an option for another year, another season.

“I spoke to the club two days ago and we agreed to exercise the option.

“So, he will remain.

“He cannot do anything, but I spoke with the club and I spoke with Marina [Granovskaia] two days ago and Olivier will remain with us and she didn’t say to me anything about this question.”

He has made only six league appearances since the arrival of Gonzalo Higuain in January.

Emery, Cech, other Arsenal stars react to Gunners victory over Napoli

Arsenal boss Unai Emery and his players have bared their minds on the club’s sumptuos victory over Serie A giants Napoli away from home.

The Gunners sealed their Europa League semi finals ticket after Alexandre Lacazette’s fine first-half free-kick settled the tie with gaol aggregate (3-0).

Emery speaking to BT Sport: “I’m proud of the players and for the supporters who came here with us. We started very well, continuing to not give them anything in the second leg. Over the two matches we deserved to win. [His former club] Valencia? They’re a very good team with a very good coach.”

Laurent Koscielny speaking to BT Sport. “We know they played in the Champions League and they’re a good team,” said Koscielny. But we knew keeping a clean sheet at home was the important thing.

“We came here with ambition and wanted to win and score some goals. We did it with Laca. We keep a clean sheet, which is important for the confidence. Each game we have in front of us is a final. Tomorrow we switch back to the Premier League.”

Sokratis Papastathopoulos speaking to “We had a great match agains a great team. We want to win against Valencia, and why not, go all the way.”

Petr Cech: “We controlled the game really well and defended really well too.

“Napoli are a fantastic team who always score a lot of goals, especially here at home, so to keep two clean sheets is obviously something [positive].

“It was a very difficult game but we made it look easier because we played really well.”

Emery on Ramsey’s hamstring injury: “It is a muscular injury. Normally it will be some weeks out for him. But we have other players and we can find a performance and rotate players.I don’t know [if tonight was his last match for Arsenal].

Emery speaking to “We managed to play our football, our positional play. Now of course we want to carry on like this.”

More from Emery: ”We worked to give them a hard time with our pressure, both tactically and individually. We stopped them from attacking as they do. We did very well.”

Napoli forward Dries Mertens speaking to “The fans were great. We wanted to score the first goal and put pressure on Arsenal. We had chances but we couldn’t do it.”

Photo Credit: Daily Express

Arsenal dump Napoli out of Europa League to seal semi-final qualification (Match Report)

The last Serie A club in European competitions Napoli have been bundled out the Europa League after losing to Arsenal by 1-0 (3-0 aggregate).

Arsenal had a very aggressive start, but were almost caught out on a rapid counter-attack led by Kalidou Koulibaly, who rolled across for Jose Callejon to force a Petr Cech save with his legs at the back post.

Arkadiusz Milik had the ball in the back of the net on 24 minutes, but was flagged offside in an extremely tight decision. There is no VAR in the Europa League, as otherwise that would’ve gone to a check.

Moments later, Milik was onside only to turn his diving header wide from a Piotr Zielinski cross in a very promising position.

Ramsey pulled up clutching his left hamstring and had to make way for Henrikh Mkhitaryan just 34 minutes in.

However, Arsenal scored with their first genuine opportunity, as Alex Meret did not set his wall out properly, leaving a huge gap at the far top corner where Alexandre Lacazette curled his free kick from 25 metres out.

This made it 3-0 on aggregate, with Napoli needing four goals to qualify, as Arsenal also now had a precious away goal.

Callejon continued to waste chances, his header over the bar and a ferocious volley wide of the far post on Insigne’s cross, while Zielinski also had an effort charged down by a sea of Arsenal legs.

Carlo Ancelotti had to gamble after the break, so introduced Dries Mertens for defender Nikola Maksimovic. Fabian Ruiz twice wasted promising opportunities set up by Insigne, but Meret needed a sensational reaction save one-on-one with Emmanuel Aubameyang.

Mertens bundled over the line, but only after Koulibaly had been flagged offside in another extremely debatable decision. Insigne did spring the offside trap, only to then pass it straight to Cech.

Milik managed to turn and saw his shot deflected wide by Laurent Koscielny, but the Poland international missed an absolute sitter on 74 minutes. Mario Rui whipped in a low cross that went past Nacho Monreal, but Milik somehow got it stuck under his feet from six yards as he came sliding in.

The man who came closest to scoring for Napoli was Arsenal defender Monreal, as only a desperate Cech reaction save prevented him turning a Mario Rui cross into his own net.

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Antonio Conte opens up on his Chelsea experience, explains why he’s still living in Cobham

Former Chelsea boss Antonio Conte has explained his experience at Stamford Bridge, highlighting differences he discovered between Italian and English football.

The tactician sat down with Sky Italia talkshow ‘E poi c’e Cattelan’ to discuss his life in London after the Chelsea dismissal.

“I am still living in London, as we wanted to give our little girl the opportunity to learn English,” explained Conte.

“We live in Cobham, in the countryside near Chelsea’s training ground, so there isn’t much to do. I spend a lot of my time on the couch watching matches and TV shows.

“Chelsea represented a very important experience for my career, as a Coach needs to have an experience abroad, dealing with other cultures and languages.

“I am satisfied, we won a Premier League title and played in two FA Cup Finals in two years.”

Conte was asked about the differences between Italian and English football.

“There are many, above all before the game in Italy it’s like walking into church, whereas in England the kit staff put on loud music straight after I’ve announced the line-up.

“It wasn’t easy to deal with at first, but you get used to it. It’s impossible to change everything. I had particular problems with the differences in nutrition.

“Yet there is a definite difference in the intensity with which the English teams run. If you watch Italian and English games, you see there is a lot less focus on tactics and they tend to just throw everything forward.”

Conte was asked where he’ll be next season and insisted no decision has been made.

“I’d love to know too! I really don’t know at the moment. I’ll go to a team with a project that convinces me.”

Chelsea see off Slavia Prague despite second-half scare to book Europa League semi-final ticket (Match Report)

Chelsea saw off Slavia Prague late challenge to qualify for Europa League semi finals having scored four goals in the first half of the game at Stamford Bridge, eventually winning by 4-3 (agg: 5-3).

The visitors crashed out of the competition in a blaze of glory as they kept Chelsea and their fans on the edge of the seats until the final whistle. Slavia made Maurizio Sarri’s men toil, though, thanks to two wonderful efforts from Petr Ševčík after the interval.

Kepa Arrizabalaga was booked for time wasting, Pedro trudging at a snail’s pace from the turf upon his substitution, and David Luiz panicked into punching the ball away just as Peter Olayinka threatened to burst through on goal late on.

Chelsea scored four before the break and equalled Atlético Madrid’s competition record of 15 games unbeaten. Pedro Rodríguez struck the first and last goals of a thrilling opening half in which Olivier Giroud grabbed his competition-leading tenth of the campaign.

Slavia were the better team in the second half, but had dug their hole just a bit too deep in the first.

After being down three goals at the break, the visitors came out firing in the second half and got back into the match through a pair of wonder strikes from Sevcik (51′, 54′).

From there it looked as though they would be able to score another, but Sarri made a fantastic substitution bringing on Jorginho which stopped Slavia from streaming through the midfield as they’d been doing before he entered the pitch.

The guests did wind up having another couple of half chances in the embers of the match, but were unable to put any of them in the back of the net.

Slavia leave the competition with their heads held high. The four-defender system worked much better than the one used in the first half. Chelsea’s effectiveness was decisive but Slavia fought back after the break.

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