PSG will find a way to get their man Mourinho

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Manchester United’s Jose Mourinho is a wanted man. (Reuters)
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Updated 23 October 2017

PSG will find a way to get their man Mourinho

LONDON: Emboldened by Qatar’s money, Paris Saint-Germain spent the summer rewriting that particular category of football records that can be bought by those with extreme material resources. PSG funnelled over €400 million ($470 million) of transfer fees alone into acquiring the most expensive footballer of all time, and the most expensive teenager of all time.
Until the nervously anticipated moment when Lionel Messi decides whether to actually put his signature on a new Barcelona contract or take the riches on offer elsewhere, PSG should continue to have the highest salary ever paid to one footballer on their jealously scrutinized books. Neymar and Kylian Mbappe — coveted by Real Madrid, Manchester City, Manchester United and other fiscal behemoths of European football — both opted to join PSG.
Qatar, however, did not invest unprecedented sums in its Parisian football fiefdom simply to be recognized, and by many reviled, for redrafting the ground rules of elite-player recruitment. The Gulf state wants to add the club game’s most prestigious prize to the World Cup Finals it bought from FIFA at the beginning of this decade.
That intention to take the Champions League is the ultimate explanation as to why PSG want to hire Jose Mourinho as their manager. Their interest is as long standing as Qatar’s ownership of the French club. Since they took control in the summer of 2011, Mourinho has been offered, and turned down, the opportunity to manage PSG on at least three occasions.
In 2016 as Manchester United’s board stalled on replacing the failing Louis van Gaal with his erstwhile assistant, Mourinho came close to accepting one such offer. “Jose had one foot and a half in PSG,” said a close friend. “He almost went there.” Instead the Portuguese agreed terms at Old Trafford, immediately leading the English club to a League Cup and Europa League double.
PSG’s interest in the serial silverware winner, however, remains. Last summer the club appointed Antero Henrique as its sporting director. Hired from FC Porto, the Portuguese executive played a pivotal role in convincing Neymar (pictured) to buy out his Barcelona contract, Dani Alves to turn his back on Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City on the full back’s wedding day, and Mbappe to withdraw from a verbal agreement to join Real Madrid.
While Antero’s work was helped by the money at his disposal, individuals familiar with the negotiations credit the executive with providing the human touch required to convince all three to commit to controversial and unpopular moves. PSG had attempted to hire Neymar before; Antero closed a deal predecessors could not.
Fast forward a few months in the life of the new FC Hollywood. Neymar has been involved in an inelegant on-field tussle with Edinson Cavani over penalty taking rights, apparently developing a toe injury that saw the Brazilian miss PSG’s next game (a first Ligue 1 fixture where points were dropped). Last week Neymar argued with Unai Emery over the coach’s training regime then was sent off for squaring up to an opponent in Sunday’s draw at Olympique Marseille.
Emery is struggling to manage PSG’s ego-laden squad. “The coach is having many problems handling the team,” said one source. “He is not getting the players’ respect.” It is certainly of no assistance to the Spaniard that every one of those players knows their coach’s job is on the line.
Antero has been working on an upgrade, and has made it clear that there are jobs for Mourinho and his highly regarded assistant Rui Faria in Paris next summer should his compatriots wish to take them. PSG’s sporting director has known both for years, working alongside them as they guided Porto to back-to-back Portuguese titles, the UEFA Cup and a Champions League between 2002 and 2004.
It is that last, most glittering of prizes that Antero was hired to deliver, and why he’s targeted the coaches most qualified to deliver it. If Manchester United want to beat PSG to the Champions League punch they’d be advised to do all they can to support Mourinho in his efforts to bring it back to Old Trafford.

Ibrahimovic’s return to training with Sweden’s Hammarby sparks rumors about future

Updated 10 April 2020

Ibrahimovic’s return to training with Sweden’s Hammarby sparks rumors about future

STOCKHOLM: AC Milan striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s return to training in Sweden with Hammarby, the club he part owns, as the coronavirus pandemic continues to lockdown Italy, has fueled speculation regarding his future.

Italian newspaper Gazzetta dello Sport reported the 38-year-old Ibrahimovic will choose against renewing his Milan deal which finishes at the end of the season.

The Swedish outfit’s president, Richard Von Yxkull, said the decision was in the hands of the attacker who played 116 times for his country before retiring from international duty in 2016.

“It’s about knowing how Zlatan sees his future and what he wants to do,” Von Yxkull told newspaper Dagens Nyheter.

Earlier in April the Spanish, Italian, French and Dutch league winner said he wanted to stay in the game after retiring.

“I want to learn something new about football, with a different angle. I will contribute from the sidelines, not on the pitch,” he told newspaper Svenska Dagbladet.

Ibrahimovic’s last Milan appearance was the loss to Genoa on March 8.

All football in Italy has been suspended due to the coronavirus which has claimed the lives of nearly 18,000 people in the country.

Measures to fight the outbreak in Sweden are lighter which have allowed Ibrahimovic to train with Stockholm’s Hammarby, a side which he bought a 25-percent share in last November.

Ibrahimovic started his career with hometown club Malmo before trophy-laden spells with some of the world’s biggest outfits including Juventus, Barcelona and Paris Saint-Germain before rejoining Milan in January.