Manchester United agree deal with Juventus for return of Cristiano Ronaldo

Update Manchester United’s Portuguese midfielder Cristiano Ronaldo prepares to take a free kick against Birmingham City, Old Trafford, Manchester, England, Jan. 1, 2008. (AFP)
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Manchester United’s Portuguese midfielder Cristiano Ronaldo prepares to take a free kick against Birmingham City, Old Trafford, Manchester, England, Jan. 1, 2008. (AFP)
Update Manchester United agree deal with Juventus for return of Cristiano Ronaldo
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Premier League champions Manchester City were reported to be closing in on a deal late on Thursday to bring Portuguese superstar Cristiano Ronaldo back to England. (AFP)
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Updated 27 August 2021

Manchester United agree deal with Juventus for return of Cristiano Ronaldo

Manchester United agree deal with Juventus for return of Cristiano Ronaldo
  • Club Statement: Manchester United has reached an agreement with Juventus for the transfer of Cristiano Ronaldo, subject to personal terms, visa and medical
  • United’s swoop capped a tumultuous 24 hours during which Ronaldo initially seemed poised to join rivals Manchester City

MANCHESTER: Manchester United announced on Friday they have reached a deal to re-sign Cristiano Ronaldo from Juventus, 12 years after he left Old Trafford for Real Madrid.
“Manchester United is delighted to confirm that the club has reached agreement with Juventus for the transfer of Cristiano Ronaldo, subject to agreement of personal terms, visa and medical,” United said in a statement.
“Everyone at the club looks forward to welcoming Cristiano back to Manchester.”
United’s swoop capped a tumultuous 24 hours during which Ronaldo initially seemed poised to join rivals Manchester City.
Premier League champions City had been widely linked with a move for the Portuguese forward after missing out on England captain Harry Kane.
However, United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer hinted a deal was in the offing during his pre-match press conference on Friday ahead of Sunday’s Premier League trip to Wolves.
“Cristiano is a legend of this club, he’s the greatest player of all time, if you ask me,” said Solskjaer, who played alongside Ronaldo.
“We’ve always had a good communication. I know Bruno (Fernandes) has been talking to him as well. He knows what we feel about him. If he was ever going to move from Juventus, he knows that we’re here.”
Sky Sport Italia reported that United have offered Juve 28 million euros ($33 million), agreeing a two-year deal with the superstar attacker worth 25 million euros per season.
Ronaldo won the first of his five Champions League titles and was first crowned the world’s best player during six years at United between 2003 and 2009.
In total he scored 118 goals in 292 games, also winning three Premier League titles, one FA Cup and two League Cups.
Earlier in the day, Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri confirmed the five-time Ballon d’Or winner’s desire to leave the Italian giants.
“Yesterday, speaking with Cristiano, he told me that he has no intention of staying at Juventus, for this reason he will not be picked tomorrow. This morning he didn’t train,” said Allegri.
“He was here three years, he made his contribution, he made himself available to Juventus and now he’s leaving. Life goes on.”
Ronaldo won two Serie A titles with Juventus, but his time in Turin has not lived up to expectations.
He joined 2018 after scoring a remarkable 450 goals in 438 matches in a glittering nine-year spell in Madrid that also included four Champions League triumphs.
Juventus’ hopes he would be the final piece required to end their 25-year wait to become champions of Europe have been thwarted.
They have failed to get beyond the quarter-finals in the past three seasons.
Last season, they were deposed as Italian champions by fierce rivals Inter Milan and had to wait until the final day of the campaign to secure qualification for Europe’s top club competition.
However, Ronaldo still topped the Serie A goal charts, edging out Romelu Lukaku, who joined Chelsea this month for £97 million.
And he also rolled back the years at Euro 2020 to win the Golden Boot despite playing just four games as Portugal bowed out at the last 16.
United have already significantly strengthened their squad with the signings of Jadon Sancho and Raphael Varane during the transfer window as they aim to win the Premier League for the first time since 2013.
Ronaldo joins already loaded group of attacking options for Solskjaer featuring Fernandes, Sancho, Edinson Cavani, Marcus Rashford, Anthony Martial, Mason Greenwood and Paul Pogba.


Spaun leads playoff opener; Scheffler, McIlroy miss cut

Spaun leads playoff opener; Scheffler, McIlroy miss cut
Updated 13 August 2022

Spaun leads playoff opener; Scheffler, McIlroy miss cut

Spaun leads playoff opener; Scheffler, McIlroy miss cut
  • Spaun was at 11-under 129 and only looking ahead
  • Despite missing the cut, Scheffler and McIlroy, at least, get to play next week in the BMW Championship, being high enough in the standings not to lose too much sleep over it

MEMPHIS, Tennessee: J.J. Spaun hopes he’s only getting started on the road to the FedEx Cup finale. Scottie Scheffler, Rory McIlroy and Jordan Spieth will have to wait another week.

As for Jason Day, his season is over.

Spaun made a late birdie for a 3-under 67 to take a one-shot lead Friday in the FedEx St. Jude Championship, the opening event in the PGA Tour postseason that no longer has three of its biggest stars for the weekend at the TPC Southwind.

Scheffler, the Masters champion and No. 1 player for the last five months, never quite recovered from what he could only describe as an “out-of-body experience” with his putting in the first round. He had birdie chances on two of the last three holes he couldn’t convert and his 68 was one shot short of making the weekend.

“Obviously, it’s really frustrating coming into the playoffs,” Scheffler said. “I was practicing really hard at home, actually playing really good, and I showed up and had the worst putting day ever. Golf smacks you in the face sometimes.”

McIlroy went from rough to gallery to fringe to bogey on his last hole for a 69 for only his second missed cut of the year. Spieth’s hopes of playing the weekend ended with a tee shot into the water on the par-3 14th that led to a 74.

At least they get to play next week in the BMW Championship, being high enough in the standings not to lose too much sleep over it.

Day opened with a 65 and was hopeful of a big finish to advance into the top 70 who made it to the next playoff event. Instead, the former world No. 1 dropped five shots over the last eight holes, shot 74 and missed the cut by one shot.

Day was among 31 players who started outside the top 70 in the FedEx Cup and missed the cut, meaning their season is over.

Rickie Fowler, who came in at No. 125, ended the back nine (double bogey) and front nine (bogey) poorly and shot 71. He was tied for 33rd, around for two more days but needing to contend to advance.

Spaun was at 11-under 129 and only looking ahead.

He was one shot ahead of Sepp Straka, who birdied his last three holes for a 66, and Troy Merritt, who had a 65. Merritt started at No. 64 in the standings, so this was just what he needed to make sure he would be moving on.

With a clear sky, hot sun and a little more wind, Spaun was as proud of his 67 on Friday as his 64 the day before. Mostly, he feels his game his coming around after going into a lull following his first PGA Tour title at the Valero Texas Open in early April.

“It’s so hard to be consistently good at the highest level. Some guys that do it like that, like Tiger and McIlroy and all those guys. It’s just insane how good they are for so long,” Spaun said. “I did it for a few months and then kind of fell off, but here I am kind of making my way back.”

Straka knows the feeling. He had not made it to the weekend since the Memorial in early June. And then he opened with rounds of 64-66.

“Hadn’t played great coming into this week. Missed a bunch of cuts coming in,” Straka said (in his case, “a bunch” would be six in a row). “But that’s golf. You’re going to have the ebbs and flows and just kind go with it.”

And off he went, especially at the end, when he finished with three straight birdies to get to 10 under.

Tony Finau, coming off two straight victories, had his 11th consecutive round at 68 or lower dating to the final round of the British Open. His 68 on Friday left him three behind.

Spaun didn’t feel as though he had much of a lead — one shot, not to mention 15 players within four shots of the lead and 36 holes still to play.

“It’s anyone’s weekend, and it’s going to mine,” he said playfully.

The first part for so many players was getting to the weekend, and two players who seized on the opportunity were Ryan Palmer and Lucas Glover.

Palmer is at No. 110 in the FedEx Cup, shot 67 and joined Finau, British Open champion Cam Smith (65) and others at 8-under 132.

Glover is No. 121. Even with a bogey on his final hole, his 68 put him four shots out of the lead.


Record-breaker Popovici into Euro freestyle final, Martinenghi wins 100m breaststroke

Record-breaker Popovici into Euro freestyle final, Martinenghi wins 100m breaststroke
Updated 13 August 2022

Record-breaker Popovici into Euro freestyle final, Martinenghi wins 100m breaststroke

Record-breaker Popovici into Euro freestyle final, Martinenghi wins 100m breaststroke
  • After Friday’s display Popovici will be hot favorite to continue what has been a golden summer in which he also won three European junior titles in his home town of Bucharest

ROME: David Popovici continued his dream summer of swimming on Friday by easing into the 100 meters freestyle final at the European Swimming Championships with a new European record of 46.98 seconds, while world champion Nicolo Martinenghi won the 100m breaststroke.

Teen sensation Popovici looked in fine form earlier on Friday when he easily won his heat and delighted fans by finishing over a second ahead of Italian Lorenzo Zazzeri.

Only two other swimmers managed to dip under 48sec, Kristof Milak and Alessandro Miressi in the other semis, but both were some way off 17-year-old Romanian Popovici.

“It’s a fine route to the final and a step toward the right direction. It feels normal for me to go step-by-step and keep improving my time,” said Popovici.

Popovici, who in June became the first man to complete the 100-200m freestyle double at the World Championships in nearly 50 years, will now compete in Saturday’s final.

After Friday’s display he will be hot favorite to continue what has been a golden summer in which he also won three European junior titles in his home town of Bucharest.

Martinenghi was a double gold winner at the Budapest worlds and got the home crowd roaring in Rome with a time of 58.26sec in his final, beating countryman Federico Poggio by 0.72sec.

Andrius Sidlauskas took the bronze for Lithuania.

“This victory means a lot to me. This season has been a very long one and I’m not in my best shape, but it was important to continue winning,” Martinenghi said.

The 23-year-old’s win was one of four golds for Italy in Friday’s evening session at the Foro Italico.

Margherita Panziera won the 200m backstroke, Thomas Ceccon claimed the honors in the 50m butterfly and Simona Quadarella won European gold in the 800m freestyle for the third straight time.

However, the Italians finished second in the 4x100m medley relay, leading for most of the way only to finish nearly two seconds behind the Netherlands and settling for silver.

Ukraine’s Marta Fiedina followed up on her artistic swimming team technical gold by winning the solo technical discipline, pipping local hope Linda Cerutti in the final moments.

Also double gold winner at the recent worlds, Fiedina was the last to take to the pool and won over the judges to earn a score of 92.6394, 1.7555 points ahead of Cerutti who had been leading since finishing her routine as fifth of 21 participants.

“I really gave everything I could at this moment. This is my best performance in Technical Solo this year, for sure,” said the champion.

Giorgio Minisini won the European championships’ inaugural men’s edition of the solo technical with a score of 85.7033, the Italian finishing over six points ahead of Spain’s Fernando Diaz Del Rio Soto.


‘Game-changer’ Bynoe-Gittens propels Dortmund to comeback win over Freiburg

‘Game-changer’ Bynoe-Gittens propels Dortmund to comeback win over Freiburg
Updated 13 August 2022

‘Game-changer’ Bynoe-Gittens propels Dortmund to comeback win over Freiburg

‘Game-changer’ Bynoe-Gittens propels Dortmund to comeback win over Freiburg
  • The visitors dominated the early stages, with Anthony Modeste — playing in his first game for Dortmund just days after transferring from FC Cologne — striking up an immediate partnership with captain Marco Reus

BERLIN: Eighteen-year-old Englishman Jamie Bynoe-Gittens scored one and created another as Borussia Dortmund came back to defeat Freiburg 3-1 on Friday with all their goals coming in the last 13 minutes of the game.

With the game drifting toward defeat, Dortmund were again able to rely on their young brigade, with Bynoe-Gittens and 17-year-old Youssoufa Moukoko scoring two quick goals to see the visitors pick up a valuable three points in their quest for a sixth Bundesliga title.

Dortmund manager Edin Terzic lauded his side’s depth and praised “game-changer” Bynoe-Gittens.

“With him, it’s pretty simple — he’s got the skills to decide games,” said Terzic.

“He’s a game-changer and (I told him when he came on) I wanted to see that from him.

“We fought back, scored three goals through three substitutes and showed how good the squad is.”

The visitors dominated the early stages, with Anthony Modeste — playing in his first game for Dortmund just days after transferring from FC Cologne — striking up an immediate partnership with captain Marco Reus.

Reus teed up Modeste to run into the left side of the penalty box in the 20th minute, forcing Freiburg keeper Mark Flekken into a save.

Modeste also had a chance right in front in the 32nd minute after superb one touch football from Jude Bellingham and Raphael Guerreiro, but the Portuguese’s cross was inches too high.

As if stunned into action, Freiburg then flipped a switch, building pressure on a suddenly shaky Dortmund defense.

Roland Sallai won a free kick on the edge of the box with 33 minutes played.

Dead-ball specialist Vincenzo Grifo stepped up to force a fingertip save from Gregor Kobel in goal.

Freiburg took the lead minutes later, when former Dortmund defender Matthias Ginter found Michael Gregoritsch who deftly drifted a header over Kobel and into the top right corner of the goal.

Terzic turned to youth halfway through the second half, bringing on Bynoe-Gittens and Moukoko to introduce some potency to Dortmund’s attack.

Known more for his dribbling and assists, the Englishman equalized with a stunning strike from outside the box.

While his shot was helped by a poor attempted save from Freiburg keeper Mark Flekken, the goal spurred Bynoe-Gittens and Dortmund into action

The former Manchester City academy player had a chance to put his side in front after 82 minutes, but was unable to control a sharp Marius Wolf pass with the goal begging.

He then set up Dortmund’s second just a minute later when he slalomed past several Freiburg defenders on the edge of the area before delivering a no-look pass to Julian Brandt.

Brandt, who had also been brought on by Terzic in the second half, found Moukoko in the box, with the teenager whipping in from close range.

Wolf, another who was subbed on in the second half, then put the result beyond doubt in the 88th minute, striking powerfully across goalkeeper Flekken and into the bottom left corner of the net.

The game was manager Terzic’s ninth win in a row in charge of Dortmund, breaking a record set by former mentor Juergen Klopp a decade ago.

The loss continues a poor run of home form for Freiburg recently, with the Breisgauer now conceding 16 goals in their last six games at Europa Park Stadium.

Despite the loss, Freiburg manager Christian Streich said he was impressed by his side’s “unlucky” performance.

“We played a good game, I’m satisfied,” he said.

“Ultimately we lost, it’s a shame... but it doesn’t achieve anything to think we were unlucky to lose the game.”


Lionel Messi misses cut for Ballon d’Or list of nominees

Lionel Messi misses cut for Ballon d’Or list of nominees
Updated 13 August 2022

Lionel Messi misses cut for Ballon d’Or list of nominees

Lionel Messi misses cut for Ballon d’Or list of nominees
  • Lewandowski, Kylian Mbappe, Karim Benzema, Erling Haaland and five-time winner Cristiano Ronaldo were all included, as were Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mané, Kevin De Bruyne, Harry Kane and Son Heung-min

PARIS: Seven-time Ballon d’Or winner Lionel Messi was omitted from the 30-man list of nominees for the prestigious award on Friday for the first time since 2005.

The Argentina great edged out Poland striker Robert Lewandowski for the Ballon d’Or last year but wasn’t nominated this time after an underwhelming first season at Paris Saint-Germain.

The 35-year-old forward also won the prize in 2019 — it was not held in 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Neymar also missed the cut this time.

Lewandowski, Kylian Mbappe, Karim Benzema, Erling Haaland and five-time winner Cristiano Ronaldo were all included, as were Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mané, Kevin De Bruyne, Harry Kane and Son Heung-min.

Alexia Putellas, Ada Hegerberg, Sam Kerr and Vivianne Miedema were on the list of 20 female nominees. US players Alex Morgan, Catarina Macario and Trinity Rodman were also named.

The men’s list features six Manchester City players: Phil Foden, Joao Cancelo, De Bruyne, Riyad Mahrez, Bernardo Silva, and new signing Haaland (formerly Borussia Dortmund).

Liverpool also has six nominees: Trent Alexander-Arnold, Luis Diaz, Fabinho, Darwin Nunez, Salah and Virgil van Dijk.

Mane, who helped Senegal win their first African Cup before leaving Liverpool for Bayern Munich, is included, as is Bayern teammate Joshua Kimmich.

Benzema leads a group of six Real Madrid players. The others are Casemiro, Thibaut Courtois, Luka Modric, Vinicius Junior and new signing Antonio Rudiger.

The other nominated players are Sebastien Haller (Ajax), Rafael Leao and Mike Maignan (both of AC Milan), Christopher Nkunku (Leipzig), and Dusan Vlahovic (Juventus).

The award will be presented on Oct. 17.

Among changes announced in March, the award is now being awarded based on performances over the course of a regular European season, rather than a calendar year. A reduction in the number of voters was among other changes, with the goal of streamlining the process. Voters also will no longer consider a player’s career accomplishments.

France Football magazine has given out the award to men every year since 1956 and to women each year since 2018 — when Hegerberg became the first female winner — though both were canceled in 2020 because of the pandemic.

Putellas became the third winner of the women’s award last year. Her Barcelona and Spain teammate Aitana Bonmati was also nominated.

Millie Bright, Lucy Bronze and Beth Mead — who helped England win the European Championship — were included.

France has four players on the list: Selma Bacha, Kadidiatou Diani, Marie-Antoinette Katoto and Wendie Renard.

The other nominated women are Christiane Endler, Lena Oberdorf, Asizat Oshoala, Alexandra Popp and Fridolina Rolfo.


Hard work for Halep in Toronto WTA win over Gauff

Hard work for Halep in Toronto WTA win over Gauff
Updated 12 August 2022

Hard work for Halep in Toronto WTA win over Gauff

Hard work for Halep in Toronto WTA win over Gauff
  • The former number one made hard work of her triumph over the rising American teenager
  • Halep needed a second-set tiebreaker to advance into the semi-finals in just under two hours

TORONTO, Canada: Simona Halep served twice for her match against Coco Gauff without success on Friday before finally securing a 6-4, 7-6 (7/2) quarter-final victory at the WTA Toronto Masters.
The former number one, a two-time winner in Canada, made hard work of her triumph over the rising American teenager who just missed a chance at cracking the world ranking top-10 for the first time.
Halep needed a second-set tiebreaker to advance into the semifinals in just under two hours.
Double Grand Slam champion Halep earned her leading 183rd match win at the Masters 1000 level. She now owns 36 victories in 2022.
Gauff fired a backhand into the net on Halep’s first match point to end the encounter and lose her eighth straight set against the 30-year-old Romanian.
On Saturday, Halep will play her 29th Masters semifinal against the winner of a later match between US seventh seed Jessica Pegula or Yulia Putintseva of Kazakhstan.