At Last! Diego Costa agrees £40,000-a-week deal as striker returns to football after nine months

August 12th, 2021 by Olasunkanmi Ibikunle

Former Chelsea striker Diego Costa is reportedly set to sign a £40,000-a-week deal with Atletico Mineiro.

The Spanish striker has been without a club since leaving Atletico Madrid in December.

It came as a shock to many, with Costa still having six months remaining on his contract.

But the 32 year old cited ‘personal reasons’ for getting a termination with the Spaniards.

Now, according to Goal, Costa has ‘verbally agreed a one-year deal’ with the Brazilian side.

He is expected to fly into Brazil ‘in the next few days’ where he will have a medical and agree the move.

His £40,000-a-week salary is less than he originally asked for, but there will be bonus payments that could see that topped up.

Atletico are top of the league as it stands, two points clear of second-placed Palmeiras.

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Official: Romelu Lukaku signs for Chelsea, says “the relationship I have with this club means so much to me”

August 12th, 2021 by Olasunkanmi Ibikunle

Romelu Lukaku has completed his return to Chelsea from Inter Milan after signing for the west London in a £98million deal.

The 28-year-old center forward came close to returning from Everton, back in 2017, but at the time we baulked at the prospect of having to invest £100m.

Jose Mourinho hijacked the move for Manchester United after Chelsea gave the Red Devils some fight for the Belgium international.

Lukaku and Chelsea’s head coach at the time, Antonio Conte would eventually end up in the same team, both joining Inter Milan two years ago.

They certainly lived up to expectations together, with Lukaku setting career highs in goals (64 in 95, all told), developing into an even better player, and also winning the Serie A.

Lukaku said: “I’m happy and blessed to be back at this wonderful club. It’s been a long journey for me: I came here as a kid who had a lot to learn, now I’m coming back with a lot of experience and more mature.”

“The relationship I have with this club means so much to me, as you know. I have supported #Chelsea as a kid and now to be back and try to help them win more titles is an amazing feeling.”

“The way the club is going fits my ambitions perfectly at 28 and just coming off winning Serie A. I think this opportunity comes at the right time and hopefully we can have a lot of success together.”

“Since I left #Chelsea, it’s been a long journey with a lot of ups and downs, but these experiences made me strong and the challenge is to try to help the team win some more trophies.”

Chelsea director Marina Granovskaia said this on Romelu Lukaku’s £98million move from Inter Milan: “Romelu Lukaku is quite simply one of the world’s best strikers and goalscorers.

“We are absolutely delighted to be bringing him back to the club he loves, and are excited to be adding his talent to our Champions League-winning squad.

“We are of course looking to build on last season’s success, and Lukaku will play a big role in achieving our targets. I’m sure all Chelsea fans will join me in saying welcome home, Romelu!”

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“I was ready, because I knew this could happen”- Kepa reacts to his penalty shootout heroics vs Villarreal

August 12th, 2021 by Olasunkanmi Ibikunle

Chelsea goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga has reacted to his heroics in the Blues victory over Villarreal having come on in the 119th minute to deliver the 2021 UEFA Super Cup to the west London club.

Thomas Tuchel replaced Mendy with Kepa in the dying seconds in readiness for the shoot-out, in which Havertz and Aïssa Mandi had early spot kicks saved.

Tuchel’s gamble paid off eventually when Antonio Rüdiger made it 6-5 and Kepa parried Raúl Albiol’s effort to give the Blues their second UEFA Super Cup.

After the match, Kepa said: “It’s not a typical situation. Edouard and the rest of the team did a fantastic job.

“It was a tough game against a very difficult team, but we have the medals. It’s not a normal situation but I was ready, because I knew this could happen.

“I tried to be ready both physically and mentally.”

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How Paris Saint-Germain used cryptocurrency to secure Lionel Messi signing

August 12th, 2021 by Olasunkanmi Ibikunle

Reports have emerged over how Paris Saint-Germain secured the signing of Lionel Messi this summer with the inclusion of cryptocurrency assets.

According to the Daily Mail, French giants included ‘fan tokens’ to prop up eye-watering £1m-a-week contract of football’s biggest star.

The sporting world is still reeling from Messi’s switching of allegiance from Barcelona to the French capital, after it was confirmed that he could no longer be re-registered at the Nou Camp.

Eyebrows were raised when PSG immediately became frontrunners for the superstar, despite already boasting the likes of Neymar and Kylian Mbappe on their books, along with summer signings Sergio Ramos, Gianluigi Donnarumma, Georginio Wijnaldum and Achraf Hakimi.

And, despite Messi’s eye-watering £1million-per-week two-year deal which sees him remain as the world’s highest paid footballer, PSG struck a deal with the player and his representative to see a portion of his payment package made up of ‘$PSG fan tokens.’

Back in September 2018 PSG announced an innovative partnership with blockchain company socios.com, kick-starting a process whereby supporters of the club could begin to purchase $PSG fan tokens, powering by $Chiliz cryptocurrency.

The company became the ‘official branded cryptocurrency partner’ of PSG, and now a breakthrough moment has arrived with the virtual currency playing a defining role in what is arguably the football deal of the century.

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Chelsea Player Ratings vs Villarreal: Kepa, Trevoh Chalobah, Kante stand out in Blues win in Super Cup

August 12th, 2021 by Olasunkanmi Ibikunle

The Blues had to wait until Kepa’s heroics in the penalty shootouts to claim the European Supe Cup. But the Spaniard was not the only outstanding player at Windsor Park.

Edouard Mendy – 7

He was called upon on a few occasions despite playing against a low-block team, and he made some good saves to keep Chelsea in the game when he was needed.

Despite his save, his distribution was dodgy in the second half and he was VERY lucky not to concede from one of them and did well to save the shot.

Trevoh Chalobah – 9
He certainly doesn’t look out of place at all out there and was very comfortable on the ball and good defensively.

Used his body very well and made some great last-ditch tackles and blocks in the second half. Great performance from the youngster.

Kurt Zouma – 7
Used his experience well in the centre of a middle three and was calm and solid when called upon.

He was much busier in the second half when Villarreal came at Chelsea more.

Antonio Rudiger – 7
Very harshly booked in the first half for a superb tackle, and had a solid game at the back as the team got busier defensively, and his bursts forward with the ball are very effective.

Scored a penalty in the shootout.

Callum Hudson-Odoi – 6
There were a few occasions where you wanted to see him try and do more to beat his man or get to the by-line.

Other than that his pace and work rate was a constant threat for Villarreal and he got a lot of the ball down the right.

N’Golo Kante – 9
The selected captain of the night took his role seriously and he bossed the midfield for Chelsea once again.

Given a well-deserved rest midway through the second half.

Mateo Kovacic – 6
He was pinging some beautiful long range passes around and as always, he was excellent on the ball most of the time.

He did provide a couple of frustrating moments though when he missed a through ball or gave the ball away in a dangerous area. Also guilty of not tracking the runners on occasions.

Marcos Alonso – 8
It was another good comfortable showing from the Spaniard, and he also could have and maybe should have got on the scoresheet.

Always looks much better in a more advanced role. He was really Chelsea’s best attacker on the night and also scored his penalty in the shootout!

Hakim Ziyech – 8
He took his finish well inside the box and cannot stop scoring in pre-season right now.

Gutted to see him get taken off with a shoulder injury at the end of the first half.

Timo Werner – 6
He is always much more effective against teams who press and push high so he can exploit them on the counter-attack, not against low-blocks.

Having said that it certainly wasn’t a poor display from Werner and he was actually unlucky not to get on the scoresheet.

Kai Havertz – 7
Another majestic performance from him without really getting out of third gear.

Nice on the ball and used it well. Great pass to setup Ziyech for the opening goal. Missed his penalty in the shootout, poor pen.

SUBS
Christian Pulisic for Ziyech (42 mins) – 5
Wasn’t overly lively when he came on, grew into the game a bit, but nowhere near enough for Chelsea’s liking. Scored his pen in the shootout though!

Mason Mount for Werner (64 mins) – 7


Took a while to get involved but he soon started to get involved a bit more as it went on. Scored a very composed penalty in the shootout.

Jorginho for Kante (64 mins) – 6
Looked rusty when he came on and gave the ball away poorly which led to the Villarreal equaliser. Scored his penalty in the shootout.

Andreas Christensen for Zouma (64 mins) – 6
Also looked a bit rusty and could have done more for their equaliser.

Cesar Azpilicueta for Hudson-Odoi (81 mins) – 6
Tried hard as always but made little difference really. Scored his penalty in the shootout.

Kepa Arrizabalaga for Mendy (119 mins) – 10
Brought on for penalties and saved two to see Chelsea win the Super Cup!

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Kepa emerges as Chelsea’s penalty shootout hero as Champions Leagues winners claim UEFA Super Cup

August 12th, 2021 by Olasunkanmi Ibikunle

Kepa Arrizabalaga turned Chelsea’s penalty shootout hero after coming off the bench against Villarreal in the Super Cup.

It comes two years after Kepa’s debacle with former manager Maurizio Sarri, where the Spaniard refused to be replaced by Willy Caballero.

Fortunately for the Spaniard, current team-mate and Blues No1 Edouard Mendy had no such problems being replaced.

Kepa did not even touch the ball before the Super Cup final against Villarreal went to penalties.

But stats show Kepa has saved 5 out of 22 penalties he has faced in his career – with Mendy stopping only two out of 26.

And it proved a moment of genius for Blues boss Thomas Tuchel, with the sub keeper saving the decisive spot kick.

Kepa famously REFUSED to be subbed off for a penalty shootout during the 2019 League Cup final.

Then-manager Sarri wanted to bring on penalty specialist Caballero – but Kepa waved it off much to the fury of the Italian boss.

Kepa, signed for a world record £71.6million, was later fined a week’s wages – around £190,000 – for his petulance.

He has since publicly apologised to Sarri and his Chelsea team-mates, and put the ordeal down to a miscommunication.

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Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel reacts to Lionel Messi move to former club PSG

August 12th, 2021 by Olasunkanmi Ibikunle

Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel has had his say on Lionel Messi’s move to Paris Saint-Germain.

Tuchel spent around two years at Paris Saint-Germain before losing his job in December of last year.

But he quickly landed on his feet, taking over Chelsea just a couple of weeks later and going on to win the Champions League.

Tuchel spoke about PSG‘s signing of Messi, the Argentine signing for the Ligue 1 giants on a free transfer yesterday after it was confirmed he could not return to Barcelona.

“Lionel Messi is good for any team in the world,” Tuchel told Canal+ via Diario AS.

“It makes me a little sad that Messi couldn’t finish his career at Barca. Messi and Barcelona were one.

“Like all coaches, the PSG coach (Mauricio Pochettino) will have to work.”

Messi has signed a two-year contract with PSG and the move will see him link back up with former Barcelona teammate Neymar.

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Thomas Tuchel explains why he chose Kepa Arrizabalaga for penalty shootouts

August 12th, 2021 by Olasunkanmi Ibikunle

Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel has revealed that Kepa Arrizabalaga has always been his go-to for penalty shootouts since he first arrived at the club.

The most notable moment of extra-time was Chelsea replacing their first choice goalkeeper Edouard Mendy with Kepa in the final minute, primarily for spotkicks.

The German coach has been speaking as his players celebrate on the Windsor Park pitch.

“It was not spontaneous. We talked about it with the goalkeepers when we came and had our first cup game against Barnsley. We had some statistics that Kepa has the best percentage when it comes to saving penalties.

“The analysing guys and goalkeeper coaches introduced me to the data, and then we spoke to the players and told them that this could happen when we play in knockout games.

“It’s fantastic how Edou[ard Mendy] accepts it. We needed to do what was good for the team. There is proof that Kepa is better at this discipline. These guys are true team players. I am happy for Kepa and happy for Edou.”

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Hakim Ziyech hands Chelsea setback just days before new Premier League season

August 12th, 2021 by Olasunkanmi Ibikunle

Chelsea have suffered a setback ahead of the new Premier League season, with Hakim Ziyech having to be substituted with what appeared to be a dislocated shoulder.

Ziyech had put Chelsea ahead against Villarreal in the UEFA Super Cup at Windsor Park, but then suffered much frustration after he was caught by Juan Foyth.

The former Tottenham defender looked on bemused before concern took over as the pain soon became etched over his opponent’s face.

Ziyech was holding his right shoulder as medics raced onto the field as a lengthy absence ensued.

He appeared to be given some sort of inhaler to help with the pain as the Chelsea medical team took cautious care of him before he eventually left the field.

The Moroccan even had to use his Blues jersey as a sling as he hobbled from the field.

Some early speculation claimed it was a dislocated shoulder but that has yet to be confirmed.

American Christian Pulisic star came on to replace him for the final seconds of the opening period.

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Antonio Rudiger describes Romelu Lukaku as “a beast”

August 12th, 2021 by Olasunkanmi Ibikunle

Chelsea defence strongman Antonio Rudiger believes the Blues are landing “a beast” of a striker in Romelu Lukaku.

And Blues boss Thomas Tuchel hopes Lukaku’s “presence” can power his side to Premier League glory.

Belgium star Lukaku, 28, will complete a £97.5million move from Inter Milan this week.

Chelsea defender Rudiger, 28, said: “He is a goalscorer and a top striker.

“You can obviously see the body type — he’s a beast, someone who is very strong — and he showed that in Italy in the past two years.”

The ex-Manchester United star fired 24 Serie A goals to lead Inter to their first title in 11 years last season.

Rudiger added: “He’s done very well there and also for his national team.”

Last night, Tuchel refused to confirm Lukaku’s transfer to Stamford Bridge — which would see him return to the club he left seven years ago.

But Chelsea’s German manager insisted: “He is the kind of profile we’re looking for and if it is possible to convince agents and clubs, we will do our best.

“Romelu is one of the guys like Erling Haaland at Dortmund, Robert Lewandowski at Bayern Munich, Harry Kane at Tottenham, who is a real No 9, who loves to score and who has a presence in the box.

“That is not a secret. The sentence is easy to repeat for any coach in the world. We lost Olivier Giroud, who played a crucial role in the club.

“He was the kind of profile who likes to play with his back to goal, who likes to hold up balls, who creates space for Timo Werner, Kai Havertz, Christian Pulisic, who is ready to fight physically with defenders.

“It’s still not the moment to talk about names, because we have nobody signed yet and we will show all the respect to other clubs.”

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