Newcastle look to bring in 2 more players before return to Premier League action

Newcastle look to bring in 2 more players before return to Premier League action
A striker and central defender are believed to be top of their list of priorities, however strengthening other areas has not been ruled out. (File/AFP)
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Updated 10 January 2022

Newcastle look to bring in 2 more players before return to Premier League action

Newcastle look to bring in 2 more players before return to Premier League action
  • New central defender, striker priorities for Eddie Howe, owners ahead of Watford’s visit to St. James’ Park at weekend

NEWCASTLE: Newcastle United aim to have two new players in their ranks by the time they face Watford in a Premier League relegation battle crunch clash.

Eddie Howe’s Magpies host the Hornets at St. James’ Park on Saturday, and Arab News understands United chiefs are setting their sights on at least two more new recruits this week to add to the capture of Kieran Trippier from Atletico Madrid.

A striker and central defender are believed to be top of their list of priorities, however strengthening other areas has not been ruled out.

A central defender has been the priority for the club since the window opened and sources at the club have suggested hopes are high that a deal for Sven Botman, of Lille, will be struck in the next few days.

United have been locked in negotiations for the towering central defender since last week and a breakthrough is expected, with the Netherlands international set to command a fee in excess of $40 million.

Sevilla’s Diego Carlos is another player Newcastle are keen to sign — and a deal is thought to be less complicated to strike — however, it is not yet clear whether the capture of Botman would curtail that interest.

Further forward, a move for Norwich City’s Todd Cantwell is on the agenda, with the graceful attacking midfielder, interestingly out of favor with the Canaries, available for around $16.3 million.

The search for a striker is proving a little more difficult, with Divock Origi, liked by United transfer chiefs, tied down by Liverpool due to the Africa Cup of Nations involvement of Mo Salah and Sadio Mane.

And while talk of a move for Burnley’s Chris Wood surfaced in the press over the weekend, Arab News has been told Burnley will not sell the New Zealand international in January. In fact, Wood is seen as a key part of Sean Dyche’s side well beyond the end of the current season.

The same theory applies to James Tarkowski, with whom United have also retained an interest, with the Clarets in no mood to sell one of their prized assets to an immediate relegation rival.

The striker hunt was brought into sharp focus on Saturday as the Magpies, without a recognized front man, were dumped out of the FA Cup at the third-round stage by League One Cambridge United in a tie which turned out to be the shock of the competition so far.

With Callum Wilson now confirmed to be out for up to eight weeks with a calf issue, and Dwight Gayle’s unexplained absence understood to be COVID-19-related, Howe refused to be drawn on whether getting a striker in before Saturday was an absolute must for Newcastle.

“Everyone has to stand up and fill that gap,” he said, in the aftermath of the 1-0 reverse at St. James’ Park, which was watched by Saudi Public Investment Fund head and United chairman Yasir Al-Rumayyan.

“Yes, it was a huge blow losing Callum. Also losing Dwight Gayle was a huge blow. That means we were playing without a recognized striker,” Howe added.

“Maxi (Allan Saint-Maximin) has played there and played very well in games we are counter attacking. We had to build the game ourselves and take the initiative and I think with that, we are not used to it, haven’t done it with any regularity and we were not good enough to execute what we had to do. There are no excuses for that.

“We missed that focal point. We tried to change things around in the game and give ourselves a different look and it didn’t work.

“Credit how they defended and their goalkeeper but all the ball we had around their box we should have done better from those situations.”


Minnows Comoros send Ghana crashing out of Africa Cup of Nations

Minnows Comoros send Ghana crashing out of Africa Cup of Nations
Updated 12 sec ago

Minnows Comoros send Ghana crashing out of Africa Cup of Nations

Minnows Comoros send Ghana crashing out of Africa Cup of Nations
  • Ahmed Mogni, who plays for French third-tier club Annecy, scored the winner when he pushed a low cross from Ben Djaloud past goalkeeper Joseph Wollacott
  • Comoros finish third in the group and must wait until Thursday to know if they are among the best four third-placed teams to get last 16 spots
YAOUNDÉ: Four-time champions Ghana were eliminated from the Africa Cup of Nations after crashing 3-2 to minnows Comoros in Group C on Tuesday in Garoua.
The Black Stars had captain Andre Ayew sent off after 25 minutes and, after wiping out a two-goal deficit, lost when Comoros’ Ahmed Mogni scored his second goal five minutes from time.
Morocco and Gabon drew 2-2 in Yaounde in the same group to retain first and second places respectively and qualify for the round of 16, which kicks off on Sunday.
Comoros, representing a tiny island nation off the south east coast of Africa, finished third and must wait until Thursday to know if they are among the best four third-placed teams, who get last 16 spots.
A disastrous night for Ghana started after just four minutes when Serbia-based El Fardou Ben Mohamed fired the first-time qualifiers in front.
Mogni, who plays for French third-tier club Annecy, added a second just past the hour only for 10-man Ghana to hit back through goals from Richmond Boakye and Alexander Djiku.
Mogni struck again when he pushed a low cross from Ben Djaloud past goalkeeper Joseph Wollacott to give the islanders a stunning triumph.
In Yaounde, Gabon led twice through Jim Allevinah and a Nayef Aguerd own-goal while Sofiane Boufal and Achraf Hakimi netted for Morocco.

Messi back in full training for PSG after Covid

Messi back in full training for PSG after Covid
Updated 18 January 2022

Messi back in full training for PSG after Covid

Messi back in full training for PSG after Covid
  • The Argentina attacker was seen warming up with his PSG teammates in a video clip posted by the club on Twitter
  • Messi contracted the virus whilst on holiday in his hometown of Rosario in Argentina during Ligue 1's winter break

PARIS: Lionel Messi was back in full training with Paris Saint-Germain on Tuesday for the first time since testing positive for Covid-19 at the end of last year.
The Argentina attacker was seen warming up with his PSG teammates in a video clip posted by the club on Twitter.
Messi contracted the virus whilst on holiday in his hometown of Rosario in Argentina during Ligue 1’s winter break.
PSG announced on January 5 that he was back in France after testing negative but the seven-time Ballon d’Or winner is only now feeling fit enough to resume normal service.
He missed the French Cup match against Vannes and two league games, the 1-1 draw with Lyon and last Saturday’s 2-0 defeat of Brest.
Messi’s emotional move from Barcelona to the French capital side has not gone according to the script he, the fans, and his new employers would have liked.
Messi has scored only one goal in 11 league appearances for PSG, although he has netted five times in the Champions League.
He has missed a total of 10 Ligue 1 games since August through injuries, late return from Argentina duty, and then Covid-19.
He resumed individual training last Thursday, after which he told his fans on Instagram: “It has taken me longer than I thought to be OK but I’m almost recovered and I’m looking forward to getting back on the field.”
Messi could make his league return against Reims on Sunday.


Former champ Laliscia: ‘AlUla has potential to become endurance capital of the Middle East’

AlUla will host over 200 riders from more than 30 different countries at the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques Endurance Cup 2022. (Supplied/RCU)
AlUla will host over 200 riders from more than 30 different countries at the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques Endurance Cup 2022. (Supplied/RCU)
Updated 18 January 2022

Former champ Laliscia: ‘AlUla has potential to become endurance capital of the Middle East’

AlUla will host over 200 riders from more than 30 different countries at the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques Endurance Cup 2022. (Supplied/RCU)
  • Laliscia new general sports director for The Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques Endurance Cup 2022
  • Contest will see over 200 riders from more than 30 different countries battle for prize of $4.2 million

ALULA: Former Endurance World Champion Gianluca Laliscia believes that AlUla has the potential to become one of the leading destinations for his sport, and wants to use this month’s 2022 Fursan Cup to take another important step on that journey.

“As soon as I set foot in AlUla, I could see the huge potential,” said Laliscia, who won the FEI Endurance World Championship in 2005, and since retiring from competition. has gone on to found and successfully run a number of businesses within the endurance world, including his current position as CEO and chairman of sistemaeventi.it, and founder of Italia Endurance Stables & Academy.

As the new general sports director for The Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques Endurance Cup 2022, he is uniquely positioned to give an expert view on AlUla.

“As a place it has all the ingredients that you would want for a world class endurance ride — natural terrain, stunning landscape, a deep history of, and respect for, horses, as well as a collective and heartfelt ambition to grow the sport, both at an elite level but also as a source of equestrian tourism,” he said.

“Endurance is a wonderful sport. It’s my sport. It is unique amongst equestrian sports in that it involves a strong connection between three key elements: The rider, the horse and nature. For me, endurance riding is about freedom and emotion, and AlUla definitely has the potential to become the endurance capital of the Middle East.”

The Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques Endurance Cup 2022 is an international 120 km endurance competition organised in cooperation with the Royal Commission AlUla and Saudi Arabian Equestrian Federation, that will feature over 200 riders from more than 30 different countries. It is the third year that the event is being held and offers a prize fund worth $4.2 million.

Participants complete the course by riding four loops that take an average of eight hours to finish.

“Endurance also has a big connection with tourism, which is a very important point because the same track the international riders are using can also be used by amateurs. It is like a gym in an open space,” Laliscia said.

Reflecting back on his experience in Italy last May at the Longines FEI Endurance World Championship 2021 in Pisa he said: “In Italy, where the last World Championship took place, the total amount spent by visitors in that destination during one week was about €20 million ($22.7 million). People like to come and attend endurance events; and these people are very passionate.

“So, if we work well with the FEI, the SEF and the RCU, then I 100 percent believe that AlUla will be the capital of endurance in the Middle East because the people that I’ve met here are all working towards the same goal, which is very important.”

The event will be one of the main attractions of the Winter at Tantora Festival. Phillip Jones, chief destination management and marketing officer of the RCU, said: “AlUla’s equestrian events are key pillars of what is a longer term strategy to share with the world the monumental beauty of AlUla as a place that is unique in the Arabian Peninsula and perfect for exploring on horseback.

“The RCU vision includes significant infrastructure and facilities for the elite end of the sport as well as more riding trails and itineraries for visitors to immerse themselves in the majesty of the cultural landscape.

“The experience of horseback riding amongst the desert splendour and rock formations creates unforgettable memories. Our third staging of The Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques Endurance Cup will be no different for our all riders.”


Trial of former Manchester United player Giggs delayed until August

Trial of former Manchester United player Giggs delayed until August
Updated 18 January 2022

Trial of former Manchester United player Giggs delayed until August

Trial of former Manchester United player Giggs delayed until August
  • The former Wales national manager is charged with controlling and coercive behaviour and assault against his ex-girlfriend and her sister
  • Giggs, 48, has pleaded not guilty to all charges and remains on bail

LONDON: The trial of former Manchester United soccer player Ryan Giggs has been delayed to August 8 due to a lack of court space, the BBC reported after a hearing on Tuesday.
The former Wales national manager is charged with controlling and coercive behavior and assault against his ex-girlfriend and her sister. The trial at Manchester Crown Court had been due to start on Jan. 24.
Giggs, 48, has pleaded not guilty to all charges and remains on bail.
“Unfortunately it has become necessary to vacate this trial from the list,” the BBC quoted Judge Hilary Manley as saying. “The reason for this is because there is not a court available to accommodate this trial.
“Due to the large backlog of court cases, which has been exacerbated by the pandemic and the need for social distancing, this is a situation which is a daily reality for the criminal courts.”
Giggs’ lawyer said his client was “extremely disappointed.”
The former player was charged last April when a magistrate’s court heard a prosecutor read out a summary of charges including that he struck Kate Greville with a “deliberate headbutt.”
He was first arrested in the case and released on bail in Nov. 2020.
Giggs made 963 appearances over 23 years for Manchester United as a player, a club record, winning a haul of honors including 13 Premier League winner’s medals and two UEFA Champions League winner’s medals.
He represented Wales as a player 64 times between 1991 and 2007 and took over as national coach in 2018.


Murray roars into round two as Medvedev sets up Kyrgios clash

Murray roars into round two as Medvedev sets up Kyrgios clash
Updated 18 January 2022

Murray roars into round two as Medvedev sets up Kyrgios clash

Murray roars into round two as Medvedev sets up Kyrgios clash
  • Top-10 seeds Garbine Muguruza, Iga Swiatek and Anett Kontaveit all made comfortable starts to their Melbourne title charges
  • "It's amazing to be back and winning a five-set battle like that, I couldn't ask for any more," said Murray

MELBOURNE: Former world number one Andy Murray turned back the clock in typically combative style and favorite Daniil Medvedev set up a blockbuster second-round showdown with Nick Kyrgios at the Australian Open on Tuesday.
In the women’s draw, top-10 seeds Garbine Muguruza, Iga Swiatek and Anett Kontaveit all made comfortable starts to their Melbourne title charges, while Simona Halep and Aryna Sabalenka also won despite struggling with their serves.
Emma Raducanu, the US Open champion, was also victorious on her tournament debut but there was defeat at the first hurdle for her fellow 19-year-old Leylah Fernandez — the woman Raducanu beat in the Flushing Meadows decider.
Canada’s Fernandez, the 23rd seed, went down 6-4, 6-2 to Australian wildcard Maddison Inglis, to the delight of the home crowd.
After Sunday’s deportation of men’s defending champion and top seed Novak Djokovic, the first Grand Slam of the year is now in full swing and many are eager to move on from the visa saga.
That is easier said than done and Tennis Australia (TA), organizers of the so-called “Happy Slam,” said in a statement Tuesday that they “deeply regret the impact” it has had on the other players.
“As the Australian tennis family, we recognize that recent events have been a significant distraction for everyone,” TA said, without mentioning Djokovic by name.
If it has been a distraction for Murray, he did not show it.
The 34-year-old, there as a wildcard, showed all the fighting qualities that made him a three-time Grand Slam champion.
His epic five-set victory over 21st seed Nikoloz Basilashvili was hugely symbolic — the Briton departed Melbourne Park in 2019 not knowing if he would ever be back because of hip trouble.
But here he was, rolling back the years and heading into round two.
“It’s amazing to be back and winning a five-set battle like that, I couldn’t ask for any more,” said Murray.
There was no such problem for Russia’s Medvedev, the second seed and favorite to lift his second major, who made light work of 91st-ranked Henri Laaksonen on Rod Laver Arena, dismantling the Swiss 6-1, 6-4, 7-6 (7/3).
With Djokovic out of the picture and Roger Federer not in Melbourne because of injury, the draw has opened up for the 25-year-old Medvedev and Spanish great Rafael Nadal.
Medvedev, who lost last year’s final in Melbourne to Djokovic but then beat the Serbian in the US Open final in September, plays combustible but talented Australian showman Kyrgios in round two.
Another of the “Next Gen” young talents challenging the “Big Three” of Djokovic, Nadal and Federer is Greece’s Stefanos Tsitsipas.
The fourth seed was a comfortable winner in three sets over practice partner Mikael Ymer to get his tournament up and running.
In the women’s draw, Spanish world number three Muguruza, a finalist at Melbourne Park two years ago, eased past 77th-ranked Frenchwoman Clara Burel 6-3, 6-4.
There was also little trouble for Kontaveit, despite some early nerves, and Swiatek, but Romania’s Halep was far from comfortable.
The former number one labored into round two 6-4, 6-3 after an error-strewn clash with Poland’s Magdalena Frech which saw 11 service breaks.
Second seed Sabalenka, who was reduced to tears and serving underarm in a disastrous lead-up to Melbourne, had Mark Philippoussis to thank after she revealed the Australian former world number eight helped iron out some of her serving problems.
She was far from perfect on her serve but survived to beat Storm Sanders 5-7, 6-3, 6-2.
In the last action of the day, Raducanu ousted the American Sloane Stephens — a former US Open champion — 6-0, 2-6, 6-1 in a performance that will make the Briton’s rivals sit up and take notice.