Kahn dismisses Lewandowski Bayern exit as ‘nonsense’

Kahn dismisses Lewandowski Bayern exit as ‘nonsense’
Bayern’s Thomas Mueller and Robert Lewandowski react to their team’s loss end the Champions League, second leg, quarterfinal match against Villareal at the Allianz Arena, in Munich on Tuesday. (AP)
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Updated 14 April 2022

Kahn dismisses Lewandowski Bayern exit as ‘nonsense’

Kahn dismisses Lewandowski Bayern exit as ‘nonsense’
  • Lewandowski chalked up his 47th goal this season in Tuesday's 1-1 draw at home to Villarreal
  • "Apparently there's a competition out there: who can tell the biggest nonsense story about Robert Lewandowski?" Kahn fumed

MUNICH: Bayern Munich CEO Oliver Kahn has dismissed as “nonsense” reports that their top-scoring striker Robert Lewandowski could leave when the season finishes next month.
Lewandowski chalked up his 47th goal this season in Tuesday’s 1-1 draw at home to Villarreal which saw Bayern knocked out of the Champions League after a 2-1 aggregate defeat in the quarter-finals.
However, Lewandowski, who turns 34 in August, is out of contract next year.
Bayern are taking their time offering him an extension, fueling reports he may leave with Barcelona touted as one possible destination, which irks Kahn.
“Apparently there’s a competition out there: who can tell the biggest nonsense story about Robert Lewandowski?” Kahn fumed after Tuesday’s Champions League exit.
Kahn insists the runaway Bundesliga leaders are “not crazy and are now discussing the transfer of a player who scores between 30 and 40 goals with us every season.”
Kahn insists Lewandowski won’t leave at the end of the current campaign. “We will definitely have Robert with us for another season.”
Yet while Kahn tried to insist Bayern are “relaxed” about extending the striker’s deal, the club’s lack of action keeps the topic ticking over in the German media.
Lewandowski reacted with surprise last month — “I am hearing this for the first time” — when told sports director Hasan Salihamidzic said Bayern want to extend his contract.
The Poland star reportedly earns up to 23 million euros ($25 million) per year in Munich.
“He knows what he has in Bayern — and we also know what we have in him,” added Kahn, who said extension talks are “ongoing.”


French international forward Moussa Diaby is NUFC's top target

French international forward Moussa Diaby is NUFC's top target
Updated 12 sec ago

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, Jun. 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.


Liverpool’s Thiago, Fabinho fit for Champions League final

Liverpool’s Thiago, Fabinho fit for Champions League final
Updated 27 May 2022

Liverpool’s Thiago, Fabinho fit for Champions League final

Liverpool’s Thiago, Fabinho fit for Champions League final
  • Thiago was brought off at half-time of Liverpool’s 3-1 win over Wolves last weekend nursing an Achilles problem
  • Fabinho has not featured since sustaining a muscular injury in a 2-1 win at Aston Villa on May 10

LIVERPOOL: Liverpool’s preparations for the Champions League final were boosted by the news that midfielders Thiago Alcantara and Fabinho will be fit to face Real Madrid after injury scares.
Thiago was brought off at half-time of Liverpool’s 3-1 win over Wolves last weekend nursing an Achilles problem.
Fabinho has not featured since sustaining a muscular injury in a 2-1 win at Aston Villa on May 10.
However, the Brazilian took a full part in an open training session in front of the media on Wednesday.
“Thiago Alcantara and Fabinho will be included in Liverpool’s traveling squad for the Champions League final against Real Madrid,” Liverpool said in a statement.
“The pair will be among the players journeying to Paris for Saturday’s clash at Stade de France following injury concerns and are set to come into contention to return.”
Both players have been pivotal to Liverpool’s stunning season that has already seen them lift two trophies in the League Cup and FA Cup.
Jurgen Klopp’s men missed out on the Premier League title by a single point as Manchester City needed a stirring comeback from 2-0 down against Villa on Sunday to claim a fourth championship in five seasons.
However, the Reds can make amends by lifting a seventh European Cup against the most successful club in the competition on Saturday.


Salah and Mahrez at forefront of standout season for Arab footballers in Europe

Salah and Mahrez at forefront of standout season for Arab footballers in Europe
Updated 27 May 2022

Salah and Mahrez at forefront of standout season for Arab footballers in Europe

Salah and Mahrez at forefront of standout season for Arab footballers in Europe
  • Arsenal’s Mohamed Elneny, Sevilla’s Yassine Bounou and Milan’s Ismail Bennacer also shone for their clubs

 

The European season comes to an end on Saturday as Liverpool take on Real Madrid in the UEFA Champions League, and Mohamed Salah helping the English team to the continental title would be a perfect ending for millions of Arab football fans.

But whatever happens in Paris, it has already been a season to remember for players from this part of the world.

Salah has won the English Premier League golden boot for the third time, the 29-year-old also recording 13 assists, the most in the league. The Egyptian has been so consistently impressive for the Reds that his achievements have become almost commonplace, but they deserve celebrating. So does the fact that he has already won the League Cup and FA Cup in England and is close to a third trophy, the biggest of all.

Salah is already a legend on Merseyside and his status at Anfield is likely to endure even longer after he said on Wednesday that he is not about to leave anytime soon.

“I don’t want to talk about the contract. I’m staying next season for sure, let’s see after that,” said Salah at Liverpool’s pre-match media day. His deal, which is due to expire next summer, has been the subject of much debate in recent months, but his comments this week — though he did not give any details — will be welcome even if the long-term future is still unclear.

Despite scoring his 23rd goal on the final day of the season to help Liverpool to a 3-1 victory over Wolves, it wasn’t quite enough to win the title. That went to Manchester City.

Riyad Mahrez had another fine campaign under Pep Guardiola as he won a fourth Premier League championship, one with Leicester City and now three with his current club. The Algerian scored 11 league goals and managed seven more in the UEFA Champions League. That is an impressive haul by anyone’s standards and all would agree that the 31-year-old has established himself as one of the top players in the biggest league in the world. 

Mohamed Elneny may not be an automatic starter in the Arsenal team but the Egyptian international, who has made 147 appearances for the Gunners, has just signed a new contract with the North London outfit, which finished fifth and just missed out on a Champions League place.

“Mo is a really important part of the team,” said Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta. “He is loved by everyone. He’s an important player for us on and off the pitch, a real role model to our younger players, and I’m delighted he’s staying.”

Mahrez’s title is not the only big league championship that is being celebrated in Algeria. Ismail Bennacer has helped AC Milan win Serie A for the first time in 11 years. The central midfielder made 31 league appearances and played a major part in the success. At just 24, there is plenty of football left in the legs of the former Arsenal academy player and he has been linked with a move to England.

Amazingly, all the players mentioned will miss out on the World Cup. Egypt failed to qualify after losing a penalty shootout to Senegal with the place in Qatar at stake. It is hard to know if that was more or less heartbreaking than Algeria’s experience. The Desert Foxes seemed to have it in the bag but conceded a goal in the last minute of extra-time in the second leg against Cameroon.

That is not the case when it comes to Morocco, which is already preparing for the World Cup. Goalkeeper Yassine Bounou was so good for Sevilla that he was awarded La Liga’s Zamora trophy, given to the shot-stopper with the lowest goals-to-games ratio. He conceded just 24 in 31 appearances to finish with 0.77, edging out Thibault Courtois of Real Madrid.

“I would like to congratulate Yassine Bounou. He’s a very good friend of mine. Congratulations to him for the Zamora trophy,” Courtois said in tribute to the North African.

Another player who now looks like he is going to the World Cup is Nasser Mazraoui, who has had a very interesting season. The right-back has starred as Ajax won the Eredivisie and it was his third title in the Netherlands. The 24-year-old has done all he can do in the country and, from next month, will move to Bayern Munich and there could be a chance of Champions League titles in the coming years.

Then there is the saga of the national team. Along with Hakim Ziyech, the defender had fallen out with Morocco coach Vahid Halilhodzic and was not called up for the African Cup of Nations in January, as the team lost to Egypt in the quarter-finals, as well as the World Cup play-off.

Earlier this week, however, Mazraoui was named in the squad for June’s friendly with the US and looks to be back in the fold. Ziyech has yet to return and it remains to be seen what happens. 

There have been no such international issues with Achraf Hakimi. The right-back joined Paris Saint-Germain last July fresh after winning the Italian league with Inter Milan. He has shone in France and added the Ligue 1 title. It was only the relative failure in the UEFA Champions League that has cast a shadow over the campaign.

There will be another chance next season but it will have to be good to better this one with league titles, individual awards and perhaps even continental prizes at the highest levels of European football.