Lionel Messi reveals why he’s not playing well at Copa America

Lionel Messi has identified the state of the pitches at Copa America as the reason for his poor outings at the on-going tourney.

The FC Barcelona talisman is La Albiceleste’s all-time record goalscorer.

He has, however, found the net just once in four appearances for Argentina – a penalty against Paraguay – although his side are through to the semi-finals.

“It has not been my best Copa America,” Messi admitted to reporters after the match, as cited by Marca.

“It’s matches that take place like that…it’s not an excuse but it’s costing me to play for the state of the pitches, it’s a shame.

“It is a pity that in a tournament like this they are so bad, but we should adapt because they are like this, it is very difficult to play on, there are very few spaces, a lot of people gather in the middle, But that is what it is like.

“Argentina boss Lionel Scaloni? I see him growing up with us, it’s his first experience, he makes mistakes and he learns.

“But it’s difficult to be the Coach of the national team, it’s difficult to be a Coach so imagine being in the national team, but we are united with him and his technical staff.”

Photo Credit: Daily Express

Chelsea star allays fear on his Stamford Bridge future, says “I can stay there as long as possible”

Chelsea star Pedro has revealed he plans to stay at Stamford Bridge for as long as possible.

Despite being available on a free transfer next year, the 31-year-old has eased fears he could be on his way out of West London.

The 31-year-old has impressed since joining from Barcelona four years ago.

But while he has no intention of quitting Chelsea any time soon, he is thinking about the future.

And Pedro admits he’d like to play for his boyhood club one day, report the Daily Star.

“I’ve always said I wanted to play at CD Tenerife at least for one year,” he added.

He said: “I’ve got one year left on my contract at Chelsea.

“And I hope I can stay there as long as possible.

“There’s the possibility of playing in the Champions League once again.”

Italy coaching legend heaps praise on Manchester United, Juventus target

Marcello Lippi says he has “never seen anyone like Matthijs de Ligt at his age” as Juventus close in on the Dutch sensation.

The Bianconeri are reportedly on the verge of sealing a €67m plus €13m in bonuses deal for the Ajax starlet, however Paris Saint-Germain and Manchester United also remain interested in the 19-year-old.

“I believe that the player who would be the best signing for Juve would be De Ligt,” Lippi told Tuttosport as cited by Football Italia.

“I think he is really strong. He’s physically imposing and has great football intelligence, he gives you a good balance, is technically strong and also scores a lot of goals.”

The World Cup winning Coach was asked whom the youngster reminds him of most, as he worked with some of the best defenders in the game.

“There is no need for comparisons, but I’ve seen plenty of greats, like Alessandro Nesta, Franco Baresi, Paolo Maldini, Ciro Ferrara, Fabio Cannavaro, and Marco Materazzi. I’ve never seen anyone like that at his age.

“Juve with De Ligt would make a further leap in quality, putting him beside Giorgio Chiellini and Leonardo Bonucci would be the key to making a strong Juventus even stronger.

“They would be capable of achieving any target, even the Champions League.”

Photo Credit: Daily Express

Manchester United renew interest in Barcelona star as Solskjaer searches for reinforcement

There are reports Manchester United have made fresh contact with Barcelona for the transfer of midfielder Ivan Rakitic.

United are reportedly searching for midfield reinforcements with the anticipated departure of Paul Pogba, and the Croatian, according to Diario Sport, could be sold by the Blaugrana for €50m after knocking back an earlier €35m approach from United.

Football Espana report that the Croatian international’s current deal at the Camp Nou runs through until the summer of 2021 although Barca signed midfielders Arturo Vidal and Arthur Melo last summer and have a deal to sign Frenkie De Jong from Ajax this summer.

Reports say the club had agreed a €90m sale to Paris Saint-Germain last summer but this was rejected by the player himself.

His agent Arturo Canales is reported to have said that the midfielder would not be leaving the club this summer although the Spanish media have cast doubt upon such claims.

Wilfried Zaha drops transfer bombshell as Arsenal close in on Crystal Palace star

Reports in England state that Crystal Palace star Wilfried Zaha has told his Selhurst Park club about his intention to join Arsenal this summer.

Zaha is currently in his second spell at Palace. He inspired them into the Premier League in his first and has helped them consolidate in the top-flight during his second, a five-year stay following an ill-fated spell at Manchester United.

According to Sportsmail, the Ivorien has informed his club of his desire and urged them to reach an agreement with the club he supported as a boy.

Palace have lost Aaron Wan-Bissaka to Manchester United in a deal worth over £50m and their position was that only one of their academy products would be allowed to leave.

But winger Zaha, 26, is refusing to accept his chances of a move are over and remains determined to secure his own big-money switch from Selhurst Park.

Palace have put a huge £80m price tag on talisman Zaha, a figure which would put him out of Arsenal’s price range.

The Gunners have a starting budget of around £45m following their failure to qualify for the Champions League.

That has left Zaha hoping that Palace chairman Steve Parish will lower the club’s demands to help make his dream switch a reality.

Zaha’s stance will be a boost to Arsenal boss Unai Emery who wants Emirates chiefs to fund a move for Zaha, who is currently on international duty with the Ivory Coast at the Africa Cup of Nations.

Chelsea threaten Atletico Madrid over Alvaro Morata

Reports in England claim Chelsea have warned Atletico Madrid they are ready to cancel Alvaro Morata’s loan and call him back if the Spaniards do not make the move permanent this summer.

Morata joined Atletico on an 18-month loan in January, but Chelsea have the option to recall the striker early in this transfer window if Atletico do not buy him.

This reported threat comes despite the Spanish striker not having the most successful period for The Blues and having made it clear that his preference is to stay with Diego Simeone’s side as they look to improve on a second place finish in LaLiga next season.

With a transfer ban in place for the London outfit, restricting them adding to their squad for the next two transfer windows, players out on loan have the potential of being recalled earlier than planned.

And, according to the Telegraph, Chelsea are, therefore, prepared to exercise their right unless Atletico pay £50 million to keep Morata.

That leaves Atletico needing to raise cash if, as expected, they complete the signing of Portuguese teenager Joao Felix for a reported fee of £112.9 million.

One of the biggest problems facing incoming head coach Frank Lampard will be how to replace the goals scored by Eden Hazard, who joined Real Madrid.

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Real Madrid, Ajax disagree over Paul Pogba’s transfer alternative Donny van Beek

Reports in Spain claim Real Madrid and Ajax are at loggerheads over the valuation of midfielder Donny van de Beek.

The 22-year-old Dutch international netted 17 goals last season, including the only goal in the first leg of their Champions League semi-final against Tottenham.

According to Marca, the Dutch champions value the midfielder at €65m but Madrid do not want to pay in excess of €50m to secure his signature.

The midfielder is viewed as a cheaper alternative to Manchester United midfielder Paul Pogba, who could cost a minimum of €150m, report Football Espana.

Van de Beek’s teammate Frenkie de Jong has already agreed an €86m switch to Barcelona this summer while defender and club captain Matthijs de Ligt has also been linked with a big money move.

The central midfielder has spent the entirety of his professional career at the Amsterdam-based giants and has won international recognition for the Netherlands.

Neymar’s mother, sister looking for house in Barcelona as PSG star plans to return to Camp Nou

Neymar’s mother and sister are in Barcelona searching for a house for next season amid speculation that the Brazilian will return to his former club, according to Cadena Cope.

Barcelona vice-president Jodi Cardoner, during the week, confirmed the Paris Saint-Germain forward’s desire to return to the club.

Neymar reportedly wants to part with Paris Saint-Germain two years after leaving Barcelona for the French capital for a world-record €222m.

According to the Spanish radio station, Neymar’s desire would be to return to the same house in the city he lived in for four years before his departure to PSG.

Maurizio Sarri explains why Premier League is best in the world, compares Chelsea, Juventus (watch interview here)

Maurizio Sarri has identified reasons why the Premier League is the best league in the world, “in terms of visibility, and the technical level.”

The former Chelsea manager joined Juventus after one season-stint at the Stamford Bridge club, wining the Europa cup and delivering Champions League slot.

Sarri gave his first interview to Juventus TV on Thursday, where he touched on several of the issues he raised during his unveiling.

“My first feeling is the awareness that I’ve arrived at a very important club. I’m lucky enough to arrive from Chelsea, who over the last few years have become a very important club but with a different history,” stated Sarri.

“Here there is a longer history, while Chelsea’s is a more recent one. Then, beyond the clubs, the feelings are created by people, and last night I saw a group of people with a great mentality and determination, which was great.

“My impressions are that they’re a club with great harmony and compactness.

“Going abroad was a decision that I’d thought about for a while, and after doing it I realised that it was an extraordinary experience.

“It’s clear that right now, the Premier League is the best League in the world in terms of visibility, and the technical level is very high, with great facilities.

“The atmosphere in the stadiums is fantastic, the fans all go together to the stadiums, showing their support in their numbers, with children and families all around the benches.

“The League is very strong and we have to catch up with them. Hopefully we can close the gap and get back to where we were 20 years ago, when our League was the reference point for football around the world.

“There were professional and personal factors that made me think after this incredible experience abroad, it was time for me to come back.

“So, I was starting to go along with this idea of coming back. Juventus were the club who were most determined to get me.

“Juventus, on a European level, represent one of the top 10 sides, however the fact there are five English teams in the top 10 helps you realise the difference between the levels right now.

“It’s clear that we’re talking about the differences in Leagues, but when you wake up in the morning there’s only one objective: to win.

“Previously I was talking about my important experience in England, where there is a high level of football, which right now can’t be matched in Europe.

“However, we still have a small advantage, which is the organisation of the clubs and organisation from a tactical and technical point of view, where we can still do more.

“However, if the gap becomes bigger from an economical point of view, it’s clear that it’ll be impossible to reach them.”

Real Madrid star’s father tells son best club to join as he eyes Bernabeu exit

Real Madrid star James Rodriguez’s father, Wilson, has told his son Napoli would be the best club for him to join this summer.

The Colombia winger returned to Real Madrid this summer after two seasons on loan at Bayern Munich. However, his stay at Madrid will be short-lived with the Spanish club expected to loan or sell the player.

Napoli are hoping to acquire James, who is competing at the Copa America, but the player said earlier this week he didn’t know where he will play next and that Madrid still had to make that decision.

“I think a new chance is what his career needs right now, ” Wilson James Rodriguez told Calcio Napoli24 as cited by Football Espana.

“(Colombia’s David) Ospina is at Napoli, I think that’s very important. Napoli is the best option for him.”

James would reunite with former Real Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti at Napoli and his father said this would be a good thing: “Between them there is a lot of respect. He (Ancelotti) has always been very happy with his performance.”