Saudi Arabian bid for Chelsea fails to make shortlist

A bid to buy Chelsea FC by the Saudi Media Group has failed to make the final shortlist, British media reports said on Thursday. (Reuters/File Photo)
A bid to buy Chelsea FC by the Saudi Media Group has failed to make the final shortlist, British media reports said on Thursday. (Reuters/File Photo)
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Updated 24 March 2022

Saudi Arabian bid for Chelsea fails to make shortlist

A bid to buy Chelsea FC by the Saudi Media Group has failed to make the final shortlist, British media reports said on Thursday. (Reuters/File Photo)

LONDON: A bid to buy Chelsea FC by the Saudi Media Group has failed to make the final shortlist, British media reports said on Thursday.

The Saudi consortium was one of a host of bidders attempting to buy the Premier League club from Russia owner Roman Abramovich, whose assets were frozen by the British government following Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

The Raine Group, handling the sale started informing prospective buyers of the status on their offers.

The Saudi bid, fronted by Blues fan Mohamed Al-Khereiji, was reportedly the first to be told their bid for Chelsea has been rejected.

Saudi Media said its offer was not connected to the Saudi government. 

Both the British government and the Premier League will have oversight of Chelsea's sale, in light of Abramovich's sanctions.

Chelsea must operate under strict government licence until a new buyer is found, with Abramovich unable to profit from Chelsea's sale.

Los Angeles Dodgers part-owner Todd Boehly is among the front-runners to be the new owner, with Chicago Cubs owners the Ricketts family also in line to make Raine's shortlist of preferred bidders.

Martin Broughton and Lord Sebastian Coe have another potent offering lodged, with strong financing secured and both front men say they are proud of the submission.

British property tycoon Nick Candy has pushed hard with his offer for the Blues, while London-based global investment firm Centricus has also submitted a bid.

* With AFP


Djokovic, Nadal and Alcaraz roll into last 16 at French Open

Djokovic, Nadal and Alcaraz roll into last 16 at French Open
Updated 50 min 31 sec ago

Djokovic, Nadal and Alcaraz roll into last 16 at French Open

Djokovic, Nadal and Alcaraz roll into last 16 at French Open
  • The 35-year-old Serb is aiming to become the oldest men’s singles champion in Paris in the Open era as he chases a record-equalling 21st Grand Slam title
  • The Spanish teenage star is the youngest man in the Roland Garros fourth round since Djokovic 16 years ago

PARIS: Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal closed in Friday on a blockbuster clash at the French Open as both reached the last 16, while 19-year-old Carlos Alcaraz became the youngest man to make the second week in Paris since 2006.

Reigning champion Djokovic and 13-time winner Nadal are on course to meet in the quarterfinals, with the Spaniard seeded outside the top four at Roland Garros for just the second time.

World No. 1 Djokovic strolled to a 6-3, 6-3, 6-2 win over Slovenia’s Aljaz Bedene and Nadal eased past Dutch 26th seed Botic van de Zandschulp 6-3, 6-2, 6-4.

“I’m always very motivated when I get on the court, with the desire to produce my best level each time. It’s not always possible to do it, but today it was very good,” said Djokovic.

The 35-year-old Serb is aiming to become the oldest men’s singles champion in Paris in the Open era as he chases a record-equalling 21st Grand Slam title.

Next up for Djokovic, who was also French Open champion in 2016, is a matchup with Argentina’s Diego Schwartzman, the 15th seed.

Nadal, the 21-time major champion, improved his record at Roland Garros to 108-3 after seeing off 2021 US Open quarter-finalist Van de Zandschulp.

He has now reached at least the fourth round in 17 of 18 visits to Roland Garros, with the exception of 2016 when he withdrew in the third round with a wrist injury.

“Today has been a very good test and very positive test, because I was able to play my best match of the tournament so far, without any doubt,” said Nadal.

The Spaniard had a break point for 5-0 in the third set, but Van de Zandschulp refused to roll over, winning four of the next five games before Nadal put away his second match point, having saved a break point in between the two.

“You always feel a little bit the nerves to finish the match, so I’m happy to be through in straight sets,” said Nadal, who plays Canadian ninth seed Felix Auger-Aliassime for a place in the last eight.

In a twist to that clash, Toni Nadal, the uncle and former coach of the Spaniard, is now working with Auger-Aliassime.

Alcaraz gained revenge against the only man to beat him on clay this year, defeating US 27th seed Sebastian Korda 6-4, 6-4, 6-2 in the evening session.

The Spanish teenage star is the youngest man in the Roland Garros fourth round since Djokovic 16 years ago.

“I’m trying to have fun out there. I just enjoy every single second. I love playing tennis,” said Alcaraz, who saved a match point against countryman Albert Ramos-Vinolas in the previous round.

He has won 20 of 21 matches on clay this season and next faces 21st seed Karen Khachanov. The Russian knocked out Cameron Norrie in four sets as the 10th-seeded Briton became the highest-ranked player to fall.

Alexander Zverev, the third seed and 2021 semifinalist, ended the run of American Brandon Nakashima, winning 7-6 (7/2), 6-3, 7-6 (7/5).

The German Olympic champion, who also saved a match point in round two, next takes on Bernabe Zapata Miralles, the 131st-ranked Spaniard who downed John Isner in five sets.

Amanda Anisimova, the 27th seed and a 2019 semifinalist, advanced to the last 16 as injury-plagued Karolina Muchova retired down 6-7 (7/9), 6-2, 3-0 after falling and twisting her ankle midway through the second set.

Last year’s US Open runner-up Leylah Fernandez beat Olympic champion Belinda Bencic of Switzerland 7-5, 3-6, 7-5, while Aliaksandra Sasnovich defeated three-time Grand Slam winner Angelique Kerber 6-4, 7-6 (7/5).

Coco Gauff, the youngest player left in the French Open, made the last 16 with a straight-sets win over Kaia Kanepi, the oldest woman in the tournament at 36.

Sloane Stephens, runner-up in 2018, ended the run of French teenager Diane Parry in straight sets, while Swiss 23rd seed Jil Teichmann overcame two-time former Australian Open winner Victoria Azarenka 4-6, 7-5, 7-6 (10/5).


Mane’s Liverpool future hangs in the balance ahead of European final

Mane’s Liverpool future hangs in the balance ahead of European final
Updated 28 May 2022

Mane’s Liverpool future hangs in the balance ahead of European final

Mane’s Liverpool future hangs in the balance ahead of European final
  • The Senegalese star, who has been at Liverpool since 2016 and has a year left on his deal, teased this week that he “will answer after the Champions League (final) if I’m staying or not”

PARIS: Sadio Mané’s last game for Liverpool could be on Saturday in the Champions League final against Real Madrid.

The Senegal international’s future was a hot topic on Friday when Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp held his pre-match news conference at Stade de France in Paris.

Klopp was unwilling to make any guarantees about Mane staying at Liverpool, amid reported interest from German champion Bayern Munich.

“This is the wrong moment to speak about that,” Klopp said. “Wherever Sadio will play next season, he will be a big player, definitely.”

Mane, who has been at Liverpool since 2016 and has a year left on his deal, teased this week that he “will answer after the Champions League (final) if I’m staying or not.”

“Come back to me on Saturday,” Mane added in an interview with Sky Sports, “and I will give you the best answer you want to hear, for sure. It’s special.”

Klopp seemed irritated that stories about Mane’s future have come up before the Champions League final and suggested it might have something to do with him being the former coach of Borussia Dortmund — the biggest title rival of Bayern Munich in Germany.

“It’s not the first time in my career that before a decisive game, Bayern Munich rumors are coming up,” Klopp said. “I don’t know what I did. It happens.”

Klopp also expressed his surprise that a new playing surface had been laid at the Stade de France late Thursday, barely two days before the biggest match in European club soccer.

Paris is a replacement host for the game, with Saint Petersburg — where it was initially scheduled to be played — stripped of hosting rights after the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

The field has been belatedly relaid because there were concerts staged at the stadium last weekend.

“Obviously not the best news for both teams. I have no idea how it will be,” Klopp said.

“If somebody thought it was a good idea to bring the pitch the day before the game, it’s an interesting idea, to be honest. But it didn’t kill my mood a percent. I’m really happy we were here — we would have played on a petanque (surface).”


French international forward Moussa Diaby is NUFC’s top target

French international forward Moussa Diaby is NUFC’s top target
Updated 28 May 2022

French international forward Moussa Diaby is NUFC’s top target

French international forward Moussa Diaby is NUFC’s top target
  • Diaby, along with Renan Lodi of Atletico Madrid and Sven Botman of Lille, are all thought to be under consideration by the United hierarchy.

NEWCASTLE: Bayer Leverkusen's Moussa Diaby has emerged as a top Newcastle United target this summer.
Arab News understands the Magpies are monitoring the situation of the French international forward as they look to strengthen their lot in the transfer window. Trading opens in the Premier League on Friday, June 10.
The 22-year-old, former Paris Saint-Germain wide player has been a revelation in Germany this season, scoring 13 goals and providing 12 assists as Leverkusen qualified for the Champions League in 2022/23.
And while the Magpies cannot offer top level European football, they can offer players the chance to be part of the most exciting project in world football, as well as showcase themselves in the most competitive division on the planet, the Premier League.
Diaby, along with Renan Lodi of Atletico Madrid and Sven Botman of Lille, are all thought to be under consideration by the United hierarchy.
And St James' Park chiefs have been given encouragement in their pursuit of Netherlands prospect Botman.
Lille proved reluctant sellers in the January window as United had bid after bid rejected for the player, despite being welcomed to the table by the Ligue 1 outfit.
This summer, it has been widely expected, and reported in the Italian press, the left-footed central defender would put pen to paper at AC Milan.
However, club legend and current technical director Paolo Maldini has cast doubt on the move being a cast iron certainty while speaking to Italian outlet La Gazzetta dello Sport. 
Talks between Botman’s representatives - headed up by agent Nikkie Bruinenberg - and Milan are understood to have progressed well at the back end of the season and terms, as reported elsewhere, are believed to have been agreed.
But the door has been left ajar for United.
On Botman, Maldini said: “We followed him, but there are many good players in that role.”
And when comparison is made between his comments on the 21-year-old and those on outgoing Liverpool striker Divock Origi, a deal widely understood to be at a similar stage of negotiations, the differences are stark.
Maldini continued: “Sure, we are talking with (Divock) Origi, this is well advanced. Let’s not forget that (Olivier) Giroud is a champion, a high-level player. But we also have (Ante) Rebic. The solutions are there. Then it is normal that to compete you have to think about improving something. We will move according to the budget.”
Meanwhile, a deal to have Brighton transfer chief Dan Ashworth in place for the opening of the transfer window looks to be progressing.
It's understood Ashworth is on Tyneside to complete his move - and he should take up the role of Sporting Director imminently.
Ashworth resigned from his role at the Amex Stadium in February, but has been on 'gardening leave' ever since.


Leclerc completes ‘double top’ for Ferrari in Monaco practice

Leclerc completes ‘double top’ for Ferrari in Monaco practice
Updated 27 May 2022

Leclerc completes ‘double top’ for Ferrari in Monaco practice

Leclerc completes ‘double top’ for Ferrari in Monaco practice
  • The 24-year-old Monegasque driver clocked a best lap in one minute and 12.656 seconds to outpace the Spaniard by just 0.044 seconds
  • After topping the times in the opening session, Leclerc was quickly back on the pace in his Ferrari, running on hard tyres

MONTE CARLO, Monaco: Charles Leclerc completed a convincing ‘double top’ at his home Monaco Grand Prix on Friday, finishing second practice fastest ahead of his Ferrari team-mate Carlos Sainz.
The 24-year-old Monegasque driver, who was also quickest in the opening session, clocked a best lap in one minute and 12.656 seconds to outpace the Spaniard by just 0.044 seconds, leaving the two Red Bulls of Sergio Perez and world champion Max Verstappen third and fourth, more than three-tenths adrift.
Lando Norris, still battling tonsilitis, was fifth for McLaren ahead of George Russell of Mercedes and Pierre Gasly, an impressive seventh for the Alpha Tauri team on a very warm afternoon in the Mediterranean principality.
Two-time champion Fernando Alonso was eighth for Alpine ahead of four-time champion Sebastian Vettel of Aston Martin and Yuki Tsunoda in the second Alpha Tauri.
This left a disgruntled Lewis Hamilton down in 12th, behind Kevin Magnussen’s Haas, in the second Mercedes, the seven-time champion struggling with continued bouncing as he sought a set-up that would be comfortable and fast.
The session was interrupted once by a red flag when Daniel Ricciardo crashed in the Swimming Pool complex, emerging unscathed from his damaged McLaren.
After topping the times in the opening session, Leclerc was quickly back on the pace in his Ferrari, running on hard tires, as he sought to become the first Monegasque to score points at home since Louis Chiron finished third in 1950 and regain the lead in this year’s drivers’ championship.
After his third consecutive win in Spain last Sunday, Dutchman Verstappen leads on 110 points, six ahead of Leclerc.
In a fast-switching contest between them, the Red Bulls and Ferraris were within two-tenths of a second of each other as Russell and the rest bumped in pursuit, Mercedes still searching for a successful set-up.
In opening practice, Hamilton had complained of continued serious bouncing described by team chief Toto Wolff as making their car ‘undriveable’.
He explained it was not the same ‘porpoising’ as seen earlier this year, but a ride height problem.
“Sometimes, it is a combination of aerodynamics and stiffness, but this is just due to the stiffness,” he said, adding that Hamilton had requested padding for his elbows for the second session.
“We’ll try to make it more enjoyable for them, but we want a fast car,” he said. “If it’s fast, we will make him all the pads he needs.”
Ricciardo delivered another example of the bumpy challenge the drivers faced after 14 minutes when he lost control of his McLaren and smacked into the barriers at the ‘swimming pool’ complex.
He was unhurt but his car suffered severe front damage, ending his participation. A seven-minute delay for the day’s second red flag ensued before Valtteri Bottas, back in action after earlier gearbox problems, led the field back in his Alfa Romeo.
The pause offered all involved a chance to breathe and relax in the heat, with an air temperature of 30 degrees and the track at 53, before returning to an intense ‘qualifying rehearsal’ scrap.
Leclerc continued to look dominant, trimming his lap to 1:12.656, three-tenths clear of an improved Perez before Sainz climbed back to second, two-tenths off the pace.
At this point, with 20 minutes to go, Ferrari were on top of Red Bull’s challenge, while others scrambled and scraped. Russell clipped the barriers at Tabac, Norris did the same at Ste Devote and Hamilton locked up at Mirabeau — three Britons sliding in the heat before switching to longer high fuel-load running.
Leclerc was notable for his absence with 12 minutes remaining, but he returned for the final six to complete a solid day’s work by the ‘scarlet Scuderia’ who finished with a strong one-two.


UEFA chief Ceferin calls on La Liga to stop criticism of PSG

UEFA chief Ceferin calls on La Liga to stop criticism of PSG
Updated 27 May 2022

UEFA chief Ceferin calls on La Liga to stop criticism of PSG

UEFA chief Ceferin calls on La Liga to stop criticism of PSG
  • Tebas hit out at Mbappe's decision to snub the Spanish champions
  • Ceferin said: "There are too many insults anyway in football, and I think that every league should worry about their own situation"

PARIS: UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin on Friday encouraged leagues to “worry about their own situation” in response to remarks by La Liga chief Javier Tebas after Paris Saint-Germain persuaded Kylian Mbappe to stay in France rather than join Real Madrid.
Tebas hit out at Mbappe’s decision to snub the Spanish champions and sign a new three-year deal in Paris, calling the contract “an insult to football.”
Speaking to AFP in an interview in Paris ahead of Saturday’s Champions League final between Liverpool and Real Madrid, Ceferin said: “I absolutely don’t agree. There are too many insults anyway in football, and I think that every league should worry about their own situation.”
“I don’t think it is right that one league criticizes the other league. As much as I know, the offer from Real for Mbappe was similar to PSG’s offer,” Ceferin added.
French league president Vincent Labrune responded to Tebas in a letter sent on Thursday and seen by AFP, in which he voiced “disapproval, and also our incomprehension” at the “attacks” against PSG and Ligue 1.
In Tebas’ tweet attacking Ligue 1 he said PSG were had paid “large sums of money” to hold onto Mbappe “after posting losses of 700 million euros in recent seasons and having a wage bill of over 600 million euros.”
PSG suffered a 224.3-million-euro ($240m) loss in 2020/21, an increase of 80 percent on the previous year, the annual report from French football’s financial authority (DNCG) said earlier this month.