Atletico confirm Lemar hamstring injury

Atletico Madrid have confirmed Thomas Lemar sustained a hamstring injury in his side’s 2-1 victory at Real Betis and he is unlikely to feature in Saturday’s clash with Levante.

The France international was substituted after 57 minutes of Atleti’s victory at Estadio Benito Villamarin, with his replacement Angel Correa scoring the visitors’ first goal one minute after coming on.

Lemar has been the subject of speculation linking him with a transfer to Arsenal in January and if Gunners boss Mikel Arteta is successful in luring him away from Madrid, the 24-year-old may have made his last appearance in an Atleti shirt.

A club statement released by Atleti on Tuesday confirmed Lemar has sustained damage to his right thigh, as shown by tests at the Clinica Universidad de Navarra.

Atleti are uncertain how long Lemar will be sidelined.

Since arriving from Monaco in a deal worth €70M, Lemar has made 46 LaLiga appearances for Atletico, but he has struggled to hold down a regular place in Diego Simeone’s team.

Klopp resigned to Liverpool losing Lallana

Adam Lallana, once a hugely important piece of the puzzle at Liverpool during their ‘geggen-pressin’ period in the early Jurgen Klopp era, later seriously hampered and kept out of action for long spells by injuries, will be out of contract at the end of the season. It means he will be allowed to discuss joining other clubs from January 1 as a free agent next summer.

According to Chris Bascombe of The Telegraph, Klopp would like the former Southampton man and occasional England international to sign a 12-month extension on his current deal, after Lallana proved himself quite useful with several excellent performances this term, but he is resigned to losing the versatile midfielder for free. The 31-year-old scored in the final minutes of Liverpool’s visit to Old Trafford to keep their unbeaten run in the Premier League going.

Interest in his services has been reported from Paris Saint-Germain, as well as clubs from the Chinese Super League and the American MLS.

Ancelotti confident Everton can compete with ´genius´ Guardiola

Carlo Ancelotti described Pep Guardiola as “a genius” – despite admitting Manchester City’s levels have dropped since last season – as he prepares to take his Everton side to the Etihad Stadium.

Former Chelsea and Real Madrid boss Ancelotti has overseen victories in both of his matches in charge of the Toffees since taking over from caretaker manager Duncan Ferguson, but he said facing the champions on New Year’s Day would be a stern test.

Third-placed City are 14 points behind Premier League leaders Liverpool after suffering two defeats in their last five league outings, but Ancelotti said he still regards Guardiola as a master of the game.

“Pep is a fantastic manager,” Ancelotti told reporters. “I have a good relationship with him. 

“We met some times, not a lot in games, but at some conferences in Italy. I have a good relationship with him and a lot of respect for his job.

“He is, at a certain point, a genius because he has always tried to do something special on the pitch.

“City are maybe not on the level of last year but they remain a fantastic team with fantastic players and a fantastic manager, so for us it will be really, really tough to compete with them but we need to have the confidence and focus on our football.

“Against City will be a fantastic test for us to see where we are in the sense that it’s a really strong team but we have confidence to do our best. It’s good to have this kind of test. We have to be happy to compete with the best teams in England and in Europe.”

Everton beat Burnley 1-0 at Goodison Park in Ancelotti’s first game in charge and then won 2-1 at Newcastle United, with Dominic Calvert-Lewin scoring all three of the Toffees’ goals under the Italian.

Asked whether he would seek to improve his squad when the transfer window opens in January, Ancelotti said he would wait until after Everton’s FA Cup clash with Liverpool on January 5 before speaking to the club’s board.

“The market is not open yet,” said the 60-year-old.

“There are a lot of rumours, that is normal. Everywhere in the world is like this, Italy is the same. We are not looking in this moment.

“After the fifth of January I’m going to have a meeting with the club and we can talk about if it’s possible to try to improve the squad. In my opinion it’s a good squad.

“Some players I didn’t know very well but we’ve started training together and I know them better.”

Leipzig to enter Henrichs race

It seems RB Leipzig are considering the possibility of going for Benjamin Henrichs of AS Monaco. According to Sky Germany reporter Hannes Jakobi, the Bundesliga side do not feel any pressure to sign anybody in the January transfer window, but they are ready to act if the right opportunity presents itself, and the position they are looking at the most is on the right defensive flank.

Apparently, head coach Julian Nagelsmann isn’t 100% happy with the performances of his current options for the role, Luan Candido and Marcelo Sarachi, and is keeping an eye out for a player that would potentially represent an upgrade on what the pair of them offer.

However, if Leipzig opt to step up their interest with an actual approach, they will possibly face fierce competition from Bayern Munich, who are looking to offload Jerome Boateng and move Benjamin Pavard to the central part of their defence. It means they will likely need a new right-back, and they’ve been linked with Henrichs as well.

Arsenal to step up Upamecano chase?

Arsenal are apparently preparing to step up their interest in Dayot Upamecano. According to Jonathan Cross of Mirror, the RB Leipzig defender is at the top of their wish-list, and the club intend to provide manager Mikel Arteta with necessary funds to fix the gaping issues in his back line.

The Gunners’ defence has been an object of much criticism in recent years, bordering even on ridicule. Their latest attempt at sorting the problem out was the signing of David Luiz from Chelsea to replace former captain Laurent Koscielny in the summer, but the Brazilian clearly hasn’t made the desired impact.

At age of 21, Upamecano is widely perceived as one of the next great centre-backs and Arteta appears keen to make him and William Saliba, currently on loan at St Etienne, the heart of Arsenal’s defence for the future. Calum Chambers has suffered a knee injury in the shocking defeat to Chelsea on Sunday, and almost every defender on the North London club’s books has had injuries recently.

Maradona suggested Pochettino but Boca Juniors bring back Russo

Boca Juniors have appointed former boss Miguel Angel Russo as head coach to replace Gustavo Alfaro.

Alfaro stepped down earlier this month and club great Diego Maradona – currently in charge of Argentina’s Superliga side Gimnasia y Esgrima La Plata – suggested ex-Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino to take charge.

However, Boca brought back Russo, who previously coached the Argentine powerhouse in 2007 and led the club to Copa Libertadores glory that year.

“I always had the illusion of returning to Boca again,” Russo told reporters. “The previous coaches who were lucky enough to win the Copa Libertadores have returned.

“I knew that some time I would return and that I never lost it. This is the moment and this is the opportunity.”

“Hopefully I can win the Copa Libertadores and celebrate in La Bombonera,” he added.

The 63-year-old Russo returns to Buenos Aires after spells with Peruvian side Alianza Lima and Paraguayan outfit Cerro Porteno in 2019.

Russo guided Cerro Porteno to the Libertadores quarter-finals this year – their campaign ended by eventual runners-up River Plate.

Heading into the New Year, Boca are second and a point behind leaders Argentinos Juniors after 16 matches.

Borussia Dortmund Stole A Gem By Signing Erling Braut Haaland

Borussia Dortmund are a team that could be defined as one of the most active when it comes to scouting new talent in Europe. They have “discovered” players such as Ousmane Dembele, Jadon Sancho and Dan-Axel Zagadou, just to name a few. But they have shocked the market once again with their latest addition to the side.

The Bundesliga giants have won the Erling Braut Haaland sweepstakes. Per reports. they have secured the services of the Norway international until the end of the 2023-24 season. Dortmund shocked everyone with his signing. However, securing his services wasn’t an easy task.

Bayern Munich and Manchester United were keen to sign the coveted 19-year-old. However, he decided to sign with Dortmund since he’d have more opportunities to gain consistent first-term minutes with The Yellow Bees. He would have been blocked by Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford at Manchester United, while he would have had to compete with Robert Lewandowski at Bayern.

If we look things from that perspective, then Haaland seems to have made the right move. But Dortmund couldn’t let the chance to sign him get away. The 19-year-old seems to be a one-of-a-kind talent, and he could easily end up being one of the best strikers in the world sooner than later.

The numbers speak for themselves. Haaland has 16 goals and six assists in 14 Bundesliga appearances for RB Salzburg this season, and he also added eight goals in six UEFA Champions League matches. Taking all competitions into account, Haaland has 28 goals and seven assists in 22 games. The Norway international also averages one goal every 52 minutes, which is an out-of-this-world rate.

Haaland should be an immediate upgrade upfront for Dortmund

Haaland has “potential world-class player” written all over him. But there’s no question he also represents a huge upgrade for Dortmund upfront. The Signal Iduna Park side has players such as Thorgan Hazard, Marco Reus, Jadon Sancho and Julian Brandt as creative threats. However, Paco Alcacer was their lone striker on the squad until the addition of Haaland. The Norwegian prospect should add competition upfront, and he could boost an attacking unit that is already averaging 2.41 goals per game in the Bundesliga.

Haaland expressed no doubts to join Dortmund as soon as the chance became real.

“I had intensive discussions with the club management and the sports management, especially with Hans-Joachim Watzke, Michael Zorc and trainer Lucien Favre,” Haaland said.

“There was a feeling right from the start that I absolutely wanted to switch to this club, go this route and play football in this incredible Dortmund atmosphere in front of more than 80,000 spectators. I’m already burning for it.”

Only time will tell whether Haaland will fit in the Bundesliga. But there’s no question Dortmund have made an impressive piece of business here. One that could massive benefits in both the short-term and long-term picture.

Pep´s City will prioritise Champions League as Liverpool dominate Premier League – Xavi

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola will target the Champions League as Liverpool run away with the Premier League title, according to Xavi.

City are eyeing a third consecutive Premier League crown under Guardiola, however, the defending champions are third and 14 points adrift of unbeaten rivals Liverpool – who have a game in hand – after 20 matches.

Amid doubts over Guardiola’s long-term future in Manchester, former Barcelona star Xavi believes the Spaniard will prioritise the Champions League ahead of a blockbuster last-16 showdown against Real Madrid.

“Pep is a born winner,” Al Sadd head coach Xavi, who played under Guardiola at Camp Nou, told The Mirror. “It will hurt him that Manchester City are so far behind Liverpool in the league – and he won’t give up.

“He will be realistic though. The gap is a big one and at the moment it doesn’t look likely that they can make it three titles in a row.

“With that in mind, I think there’s a big chance Pep will prioritise the Champions League.

“They will be two big games coming up against Real Madrid – and maybe there will be a chance to rest players before these games that they wouldn’t have if they were in a title race.

“Pep will want to win every trophy that he can – but if you’d asked him at the start of the season what he would prefer, I’m sure he would have said the Champions League.

“He joked with Klopp that maybe Manchester City and Liverpool should swap trophies this year – but there was some truth in that joke, I think.

“He’s won every trophy in England with Manchester City and he knows that winning the Champions League with them would take them to the next level as a club.”

Guardiola’s City will kick off the New Year with a clash against Everton at the Etihad Stadium on Wednesday.

Millwall 8/13 to beat Luton Town in Wednesday’s Championship showdown

Competition: Championship

Market: Millwall win

Odds: 8/13 @ Bet 365

Knowing that three points could see them break into the top-six, Millwall will welcome a struggling Luton to the Den on New Year’s Day lunchtime.

Starting with the hosts, putting in yet another stellar display and snatching a 1-0 win off of play-off contenders Brentford in South London over the weekend, the mood in Millwall’s camp continues to soar. Really starting to shine since brining in former Middlesbrough boss Gary Rowett, the Lions have just a single matchup in any of their previous 10 appearances, a run that stems back to the 2nd of November. Now sat just two points adrift of the top-six and only tasting defeat twice at the Den this season, Wednesday’s hosts should be confident of opening the New Year with another victory on home soil.

As for the visitors, while the mood in Millwall’s camp might be continuing to soar, the same cannot be said for a struggling Luton. Coming off the back of a woeful display in their 3-0 hammering away at Bristol City over the weekend, the Hatters have lost four of their last five and their continued issues at the back will be giving Graeme Jones the biggest headache. Shipping six goals in their last two appearances and with no side in England’s second-tier holding a worse defensive tally, Luton have also now lost each of their last eight matchups away from Kenilworth Road and we’re backing another tough afternoon for the Hatters.

Bet: Millwall 8/13 to beat Luton Town in Wednesday’s Championship showdown @ Bet 365

Aston Villa want Drinkwater loan

Aston Villa’s start to the Premier League return was a good one and the Birmingham side were playing very well. Fast forward halfway through the campaign and Villa are in a dangerous position and they could be in a real relegation battle this season if they do not improve very soon. That is what they want to make happen with some deals in the January transfer window.

According to Sky Sports, Aston Villa are looking towards London as they want to sign Danny Drinkwater from Chelsea. However, this would not be a regular transfer, but rather a loan deal until the end of the campaign. The 29-year-old midfielder is on loan at Burnley until January, but that has not worked for him either. He played just one Premier League match and the deal is unlikely to be renewed.

Villa are in the market for a new midfielder to replace the injured John McGinn and Drinkwater is a viable option.