Chinese club denies move for Barca star Andres Iniesta

Andres Iniesta is a player in high demand after announcing he is leaving Barcelona. (AFP)
Updated 08 May 2018
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Chinese club denies move for Barca star Andres Iniesta

  • Spanish midfielder is leaving after two decades at Barca
  • Chongqing Lifan say they are not in the running to sign 33-year-old

SHANGHAI: China’s Chongqing Lifan denied making a big-money move for Andres Iniesta as Spanish media said the Barcelona captain could now be headed for Japan or Australia.
Reports in China and Spain have linked Chongqing with the 33-year-old Spanish World Cup-winner, who is leaving Barcelona after two decades of phenomenal success.
Chongqing said Iniesta wouldn’t be joining “as a player” but left the door open to future cooperation with the midfielder, who has promotional and marketing links with the city.
Chongqing added that they wanted to support the “healthy development of Chinese football” — a reference to China’s clampdown on heavy transfer spending and focus on homegrown talent.
“Our club will never violate the development prospects of Chinese football and we are determined to make due contributions to the healthy development of Chinese football,” a statement said.
It added: “The other sports industry sections of our club’s controlling shareholder have in-depth cooperation with Mr. Iniesta in sports brokerage, sports marketing, and youth training and education.
“We don’t rule out that in the future there may be more in-depth cooperation between the two sides in the Chinese market, but this does not mean that Mr. Iniesta will join the club as a player.”
Japan’s Vissel Kobe, named in Spanish media as a possible next club for Iniesta, had no comment on Tuesday when approached by AFP.
Football Federation Australia also made no comment after Spain’s Sport website named the A-League as Iniesta’s “preferred destination.”
Chongqing, in southwest China, had emerged as a surprise contender to snare Iniesta — one of the finest midfielders of his generation — despite not being a traditional heavyweight in Chinese football.
Their only major success was the FA Cup in 2000, but Iniesta has traveled to the city of 30 million people in the past for promotional events and worked closely with the sports marketing agency Desports.
Desports was founded by Chinese businessman and Chongqing chairman Jiang Lizhang, who was said to have been spearheading attempts to lure Iniesta.
Chongqing are the second Chinese club to rule out a move for Iniesta, after Tianjin Quanjian threatened legal action to quash reports linking them with the player.
A skyrocketing series of expensive deals was brought to a halt last year when the CFA introduced a 100 percent tax on foreign transfers over 45 million yuan ($7 million), with proceeds going into a fund for youth development.


Jurgen Klopp tells Liverpool to beware Bayern Munich ahead of Champions League clash

Updated 18 February 2019
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Jurgen Klopp tells Liverpool to beware Bayern Munich ahead of Champions League clash

  • Reds boss worried about resurgent German giants ahead of second-round first-leg clash.
  • Bayern defender Joshua Kimmich claims Liverpool are the favorites.

LONDON: Jurgen Klopp has warned his Liverpool side they will have to be at their very best if they are to beat Bayern Munich.
The Reds head into the Champions League clash as slight favorites after months at the top of the Premier League. But having drawn the German giants in the second round, Klopp has told his players they have to keep their feet on the ground worthy could end up out of the competition before it really gets going.
“It’ll be very tough,” there Liverpool manager said.
“(Bayern are) only two points off Dortmund in the domestic league and have been consistent finalists and semifinalists.
“They’re a world class team but at the same time we’re confident we can cause them problems.
“They’ve got world class players so we know how difficult it will be.
“Everyone has to be at 100 percent otherwise we’ll get nothing from the game.
“Having said that we have confidence we have the ability to hurt them, and it’s up to us to show that.”

After a tough start to the season Bayern are up to second in the Bundesliga. 


Liverpool went al the way to the final last year, before losing to Real Madrid. But the momentum created by that surprise run has been maintained in the Premier League and another trip to the Champions League knockout stages.
Bayern currently lie second in the Bundesliga and are starting to look like their old levels agains after a tough start to the season. For Klopp, who managed Dortmund before arriving at Anfield, that could spell trouble for the Reds.
“After six years of pretty much dominating the league it was clear this year was going to be a tougher situation.
“It’s actually still the same, being at the top of the league and still in the last-16 of the Champions League.
“It’s a normal situation with a high quality team.
“Munich’s situation, from my point of view, makes them even more dangerous and even more of a threat from my point of view.
“This is a competition, in Europe, where they always do well.”
For the Germans the role of underdogs suits them perfectly. At least that is according to Joshua Kimmich.
The defender said: “Liverpool are the favorites.
“They have lost one league game all season and have let in only 15 goals. But when you look at us, we are not as consistent as before.”
Before a ball has been kicked Bayern did receive some good news. Winger Franck Ribery was originally left out of the squad to play at Anfield and did not fly with his teammates. But after becoming a father, the Frenchman has now decided to join up with the squad and will be available for selection. One man who definitely will not make the pitch is Jerome Boateng. The central defender is suffering from a stomach virus.
The Bavarians will also have to wait until Tuesdays to determine whether winger Kingsley Coman will be able to play after picking up an ankle injury on Friday.
The Frenchman scored twice but was injured in the final stages of their 3-2 win at Augsburg.

KEY MAN — ROBERTO FIRMINO 

Of Liverpool’s brilliant attacking trio the Brazilian is perhaps the most underrated and important. When he plays well the Reds usually do likewise. He links up the play well, settling up as many goals as he scores. Liverpool will be hoping he turns up with his A-game tonight, because if he does Bayern Munich could be in for a  long night. 

ARAB NEWS PREDICTS

For once Bayern are not having it all their own way in the Bundesliga. But they are improving and giving Borussia Dortmund something to think about in the race for the title. But home advantage will be key and a resurgent Reds will prove too strong for a Bayern defence that has, on occasions this campaign, looked less than watertight. The only question is can Liverpool get a decisive lead and put the tie to bed before the second leg?