Fabinho opens up on ‘surprise’ at being omitted from Brazil’s Copa America squad

Liverpool midfielder Fabinho has this afternoon admitted to his surprise and disappointment at being left out of Brazil’s squad for this summer’s Copa America.

Selecao squad

The latest edition of the Copa America, which sees the finest national sides from South America pitted against one another, is set to take place in Brazil over the coming months.

The tournament will be spread across dates between the 14th of June and 7th of July, in 5 host cities.

Hosts Brazil are currently viewed as clear favourites to emerge victorious, with the Selecao’s star-studded 23-man squad having been announced 3 weeks ago.

The embarrassment of riches at the calling of manager Tite was highlighted by the fact that the likes of Marcelo, Douglas Costa, Lucas Moura and, perhaps most surprisingly, Fabinho were all omitted from his final panel:

Liverpool midfield general Fabinho enjoyed a stellar second-half to the campaign at Anfield, playing a crucial role in guiding Jurgen Klopp’s men to within a point of Premier League glory, and the final of the Champions League.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND – DECEMBER 02: Divock Origi of Liverpool celebrates with teammate Fabinho after scoring his team’s first goal during the Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Everton FC at Anfield on December 2, 2018 in Liverpool, United Kingdom. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)

‘Kind of surprised’

As such, speaking this afternoon ahead of tomorrow night’s CL showpiece in Madrid, the Reds’ standout opened up on his disappointment at being the odd man out in the midfield plans of Tite:

‘I was following the call and hoped to be on the list. But as soon as the midfield passed and I saw that I was not in it, I was kind of surprised.’

‘The coach (Tite) made his decision, said he had good options. And really he has good options in midfield.’

‘He had to make a choice, leave one out and I was (the one) chosen to stay out.’

Quotes via Torcedores

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Arsenal willing to sell Mesut Ozil this summer – Standard

Ozil’s lacklustre season

Mesut Ozil signed a new Arsenal contract back in January of 2018, believed to be worth around £350,000-per-week.

Since putting pen to paper on that rather lucrative deal, though, Ozil has not been in great form.

The German was in and out of Arsenal’s starting eleven this past season, playing 24 of Arsenal’s 38 league games.

In those 24 league games, Ozil scored five and assisted just two, a very poor record for someone of Ozil’s ability.

LONDON, ENGLAND – OCTOBER 28: Mesut Ozil of Arsenal takes on Mamadou Sakho of Crystal Palace during the Premier League match between Crystal Palace and Arsenal FC at Selhurst Park on October 28, 2018 in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)

Arsenal miss out on Champions League funds

Ozil’s latest lacklustre display came earlier this week as his Arsenal side were hammered 4-1 by Chelsea in the Europa League final. Ozil was subbed off in the 78th minute.

 

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As well as losing out on a trophy, Arsenal’s loss to Chelsea means that they will not be playing in the Champions League next season.

This means that Arsenal will have less money to play with in the summer window. The Telegraph estimates that their transfer budget could be as low as £40 million.

One way Arsenal could free up some funds this summer is by selling some of their bigger players.

Considering Ozil’s wage, he is likely to be high on that list.

And, according to the Evening Standard, the Gunners are willing to sell Ozil in the summer window, if a suitable buyer can be found.

However, the report from the ES does also state that Arsenal are not actively trying to force Ozil out of the club.

Ozil’s agent Erkut Sogut spoke about his client’s future earlier this year, and he seems pretty happy to stay in North London:

“He’ll be staying at Arsenal until at least 2021. And the fans need not to worry about the gossip that may come this summer. He has found a place he feels welcome and believes he has a lot more to give.” As quoted by the Independent.

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Chelsea’s Marcos Alonso ‘gives green light’ to Atletico Madrid move – Marca

As per a report from Spanish outlet Marca, Chelsea defender Marcos Alonso has set his sights firmly on a move back to Spain this summer.

Chelsea stint

Opinion-splitting left-back Alonso has been on the books of Chelsea since the summer of 2016, when he made the move to Stamford Bridge from Serie A outfit Fiorentina.

The Spaniard’s first two seasons in England proved a major success, as Alonso’s role as a wing-back in Antonio Conte’s 3-5-2 system made full use of the stopper’s talents.

Alonso’s offensive exploits proved particularly-impressive, as the former Bolton and Sunderland man directly contributed to a hefty 18 goals in the Premier League across the 2016/17 and 2017/18 campaigns combined.

The first of these seasons, meanwhile, also saw Chelsea clinch the English top-flight title.

Alonso’s struggles

This past season, however, proved a different story altogether.

NEWCASTLE UPON TYNE, ENGLAND – AUGUST 26: Fabian Schar of Newcastle United tackles Marcos Alonso during the Premier League match between Newcastle United and Chelsea FC at St. James Park on August 26, 2018 in Newcastle upon Tyne, United Kingdom. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)

After being shifted back to an orthodox full-back position under Maurizio Sarri, Alonso’s form took a nosedive.

Sloppy in possession and shaky-at-best defensively, the thrice-capped Spanish international looked an absolute shell of the driving force that he once had down Chelsea’s left-flank.

In fact, as the season drew to a close, Alonso often found himself confined to the bench, as Emerson impressed under Sarri.

Atletico bound?

And, as per the aforementioned report from Marca, his uncertain role over the closing months of the campaign has proven a decisive factor in Alonso coming to the definitive decision to depart Chelsea this summer.

The stopper is said to have an offer on the table from Atletico Madrid, which Alonso his ‘given the green light’ to.

Despite his Real Madrid past, the Spaniard is said to be extremely keen on a move to the Wanda Metropolitano, with Atleti known to be in the market for a new left-back following Lucas Hernandez’s departure.

One major stumbling block, however, is a potential transfer fee.

With Chelsea facing a transfer ban this summer, it would likely take a huge offer to tempt the Blues into parting with Alonso.

As such, Marca conclude by stating that:

‘Although Alonso has given Atletico the green light, it is not going to be easy to pry him away from Stamford Bridge.’

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Maurizio Sarri set for Juventus after Chelsea ‘agree to free’ manager – Pedulla

As per a report from SportItalia journalist Alfredo Pedulla, Chelsea have agreed to allow Maurizio Sarri to join Juventus this summer.

Chelsea 4-1 Arsenal

Sarri’s Chelsea travelled to Baku, Azerbaijan two nights ago, for a Europa League final clash with London rivals Arsenal.

While the Gunners required a victory to book their spot in next season’s Champions League, Chelsea had already done so, courtesy of a 3rd-placed Premier League finish.

Both sides, though, were looking for their first silverware of the campaign, with Maurizio Sarri in search of the first title of his career.

Maurizio Sarri

BAKU, AZERBAIJAN – MAY 28: Maurizio Sarri, Manager of Chelsea kicks his cap in frustration during the Chelsea FC training session on the eve of the UEFA Europa League Final against Arsenal at Baku Olimpiya Stadion on May 28, 2019 in Baku, Azerbaijan. (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)

And, when all was said and done, the Chelsea boss went on to put his trophy-less past firmly behind him, in emphatic fashion.

A dominant second-half display on the part of the Stamford Bridge outfit eventually saw goals from Eden Hazard (2), Olivier Giroud and Pedro lead the Blues to a comprehensive 4-1 win.

Juventus bound

However, despite it being less than 48 hours since Chelsea tasted victory in Baku, reports have already begun to mount that Sarri is all set for a departure from the club.

First, the reliable Gianluca Di Marzio stated yesterday that Sarri’s agent, Fali Ramadani, had flown to London for talks with the Chelsea hierarchy ‘to study an exit strategy’ to Juventus:

And, as per the aforementioned update from Alfredo Pedulla, who, according to Football-Italia, ‘is very close’ to Sarri, the Italian tactician’s move to Turin appears to have taken another huge step forward today.

This comes amid claims that a ‘positive’ meeting resulted in Chelsea agreeing to ‘free’ their boss from his position.

As such, if Pedulla’s report proves accurate, it appears to be just a matter of time before Sarri is named as the new Juventus manager.

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Man United lead City as favourites to sign West Ham’s Declan Rice

Sky Bet’s latest odds on West Ham youngster Declan Rice’s next club see Manchester rivals United and City leading the pack, with the former out in front.

West Ham prodigy

Versatile 20-year-old Rice is generally deployed as a defensive midfielder, but can also line-out as a central-defender when required.

After showcasing his massive potential across 26 Premier League appearances for West Ham during the 2017/18 season (15 starts), Rice subsequently went on to cement himself as an integral member of Manuel Pellegrini’s midfield throughout this past season.

The teen started in 34 of the Irons’ 38 league outings, earning rave reviews for his performances versus the likes of Tottenham, Newcastle and Arsenal:

In fact, so impressive was Rice over the course of the campaign, that, despite his tender years, the no-frills midfielder was handed his senior international debut by England boss Gareth Southgate back in March:

‘Cannot know the future’

As such, recent reports that a number of the Premier League’s giants have set their sights firmly on Rice’s signature have come as little surprise.

The likes of Chelsea, Manchester City and Manchester United have all been named as keen admirers of the starlet’s talents, with English champions City even rumoured to have earmarked Rice as the ideal long-term replacement for Fernandinho.

LONDON, ENGLAND – JANUARY 12: Declan Rice of West Ham United celebrates after scoring his team’s first goal during the Premier League match between West Ham United and Arsenal FC at London Stadium on January 12, 2019 in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by Marc Atkins/Getty Images)

West Ham boss Manuel Pellegrini, meanwhile, admitted earlier this month that the future of his side’s crown jewel remains very much up in the air:

‘Maybe some of the big teams, or all of them, will want him. But that is one thing. The other is whether he will stay here or he goes. And I cannot say at this moment.’

‘It’s impossible. I cannot know the future.’

Old Trafford switch?

And, on the back of Pellegrini’s revelation, SkyBet have today posted updated odds on Rice’s potential next club.

As outlined above, Manchester United currently hold a narrow lead over rivals City, ahead of Real Madrid, Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund:

Manchester United – 3/1
Manchester City – 4/1
Real Madrid – 20/1
Bayern Munich – 22/1
Borussia Dortmund – 22/1

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Chelsea’s Eden Hazard photographed holding Real Madrid jersey

Chelsea star Eden Hazard has this afternoon been spotted in Marbella, posing for a photograph whilst holding a young boy’s Real Madrid jersey.

Real’s Hazard pursuit

The links between Chelsea star man Hazard and Spanish giants Real Madrid have been circulating for several years now.

Los Blancos are known to be keen admirers of Hazard’s talents, with the 28-year-old’s development into one of the finest attackers in world football having seen Chelsea reportedly forced to knock back a number of bids from the soon-to-be dethroned European champions last summer.

This summer’s transfer window, however, looks set to be a different story.

On the back of mounting suggestions over recent weeks that Real were inching towards sealing a deal for Hazard, the Belgian himself all-but confirmed his departure from Stamford Bridge on the back of his Man of the Match showing in Chelsea’s Europa League final victory over Arsenal on Wednesday night:

Hazard’s Real hint

Hazard has since headed on vacation for the summer, with the 28-year-old’s destination of choice having been the Marbella region in the South of Spain.

And photos of the Chelsea star dropping the latest hint that he is indeed set to make the move to the Bernabeu over the coming months have since surfaced online this afternoon.

As showcased below, Hazard was spotted posing for a number of photographs with fans a short time ago.

One snap which has caused quite a stir online, though, sees the Belgian international holding a child’s Real Madrid jersey, as he poses alongside the young boy’s father:

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Celtic confirm Neil Lennon appointment

Scottish champions Celtic have this afternoon confirmed that Neil Lennon has been appointed as the club’s new permanent manager.

Celtic’s historic 2018/19

A dominant domestic campaign over the last 9 months saw Celtic complete yet another clean sweep of silverware last weekend.

Having already clinched the League title and League Cup, the Bhoys put Hearts to the sword by 2 goals to 1 in the Scottish Cup final to secure their latest treble.

Incredibly, this came as the club’s 3rd-straight domestic treble, a remarkable feat of consistency, in spite of Celtic’s evident superiority over the rest of Scotland’s top clubs:

Lennon staying put

The Glasgow giants’ latest triumph came despite the club having changed managers halfway through the campaign.

Brendan Rodgers had been in charge at Celtic Park up until the end of February, before the former Liverpool boss opted to depart his post for a Premier League return with Leicester City.

Former Hoops’ midfielder Neil Lennon, who previously managed the club from 2010 to 2014, was the man chosen to replace Rodgers for the remainder of the season, after the club legend left his role as Hibernian boss a month prior.

The Celtic board had been widely-expected to look elsewhere to guide the club into next season and beyond, though, with Lennon having initially been viewed as little more than a stop-gap solution.

But, in a surprise announcement this afternoon, it has since been confirmed that the Northern Irish tactician has been appointed on a permanent basis, on a 12-month rolling contract:

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Liverpool confirm 23-man squad for Champions League final

Liverpool’s travelling squad for tomorrow night’s Champions League final has this afternoon been announced.

Liverpool vs Tottenham

Jurgen Klopp’s men flew out to Madrid earlier today, for the 2nd of two all-English European showpieces in the space of 3 days.

After Chelsea put Arsenal to the sword by 4 goals to 1 in the Europa League final on Wednesday night, Liverpool and Spurs will be both be hoping to follow suit as they go head-to-head over the most highly-sought after prize in European football.

The Merseysiders booked their spot in the Champions League final courtesy of a historic second-leg comeback victory over La Liga giants Barcelona three weeks ago.

After falling to a 3-0 defeat at the Camp Nou in the tie’s first-leg, Liverpool roared back at Anfield, eventually emerging with a 4-0 second-leg win thanks to doubles from Divock Origi and Gini Wijnaldum.

Kelleher in, Keita out

Both the Reds and Tottenham have been forced to deal with a number of respective injury problems of late, with the latter sweating over the fitness of the likes of Harry Kane, Harry Winks, Davinson Sanchez and Jan Vertonghen.

All 4, though, were named in Mauricio Pochettino’s travelling squad 48 hours ago:

Liverpool’s main fitness concerns ahead of the Wanda Metropolitano showpiece, meanwhile, have been Naby Keita and Roberto Firmino.

Guinean midfielder Keita, as expected, has not recovered in time, though Firmino has travelled with the rest of Jurgen Klopp’s squad.

Also included are young Irish goalkeeper Caoimhin Kelleher, and fellow starlet Rhian Brewster:

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Chelsea 4-1 Arsenal

After a campaign packed with goals, drama and high-quality football all-round, Premier League giants Arsenal and Chelsea eventually emerged as the Europa League’s finest earlier this month, before going head-to-head in the tournament’s finale this past Wednesday night.

Both sides headed into proceedings in search of their first silverware of the season, with Arsenal having required a win to secure Champions League football for next season.

Chelsea boss Maurizio Sarri, meanwhile, entered the clash with his sights firmly set on the first title of his managerial career.

And, when all was said and done, Sarri put his trophy-less past behind him, in emphatic fashion.

A second-half demolition on the part of the Blues eventually saw Chelsea put their London rivals to the sword by 4 goals to 1.

Eden Hazard (2), Olivier Giroud and Pedro did the damage, as the Pensioners showcased their class when it mattered most.

Chelsea dominate TOTS

And Chelsea’s triumph has since been reflected in UEFA’s choice for the competition’s Squad of the Year.

The 18-man panel, selected by ‘Technical Observers’, features a hefty 8 Blues’ stars, including the likes of Kepa Arrizabalaga, David Luiz, Eden Hazard and top-scorer Olivier Giroud.

Arsenal trio Sead Kolasinac, Laurent Koscielny and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang are also named, while Eintracht Frankfurt’s impressive run to the Europa League’s semi-finals sees 5 of Adi Hütter’s squad, including in-demand hitman Luka Jovic, included.

Rounding out the squad are Benfica duo Alex Grimaldo and Joao Felix.

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Mo Salah’s cheeky dig at Tottenham’s Harry Kane ahead of UCL final

Tottenham vs Liverpool

The 2019 Champions League final will take place on Saturday, June 1st between Liverpool and Tottenham.

It is the first all English CL final since 2008 when Manchester United squared off against Chelsea.

The match is also Spurs’ first-ever appearance in the tournament’s final.

Liverpool, on the other hand, won the UCL last in 2005 and lost last season’s final 3-1 vs Real Madrid.

Harry Kane

AMSTERDAM, NETHERLANDS – MAY 08: Harry Kane and Moussa Sissoko of Tottenham Hotspur celebrate after the final whistle during the UEFA Champions League Semi Final second leg match between Ajax and Tottenham Hotspur at the Johan Cruyff Arena on May 08, 2019 in Amsterdam, Netherlands. (Photo by Tottenham Hotspur FC/Tottenham Hotspur FC via Getty Images)

Salah’s dig at Kane

Ahead of the tie, one of the biggest talking points was if Harry Kane would be fit for Tottenham.

Kane has been out of action since early April with a ligament injury but he did give a rather positive update about his fitness recently.

With Harry Kane looking to be fit for the final, Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah aimed a cheeky dig at the Spurs forward ahead of their clash in Madrid.

The 2015/16 and 2016/17 PL campaigns saw Kane take home the Premier League Golden Boot awards scoring 25 and 29 goals in said seasons.

However, since making the switch to Liverpool, Mohamed Salah has won the award for the last two seasons.

Although, he did share it this year, along with Liverpool counterpart Sadio Mane and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.

But in an interview with Gary Linker for BT Sport, Salah made a joke that Kane was the top scorer in English football, until he came along:

“Harry Kane is a good player and he proved for many years.

“He’s a top scorer for his team and in English football basically. Before I came!”As quoted by the Liverpool Echo.

Watch the full video below.

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