Chelsea close to completing Werner transfer

According to numerous sources, Chelsea have stolen the march on Liverpool and are now close to signing Timo Werner from RB Leipzig.

Chelsea’s interest, along with that of several other clubs, hasn’t exactly been a secret, but it was widely believed that the prolific striker would be moving to Anfield this summer having heaped praise on the Champions League holders and their manager. Reports recently went as far as claiming personal terms were agreed.

However, it seems Chelsea have now taken advantage of Liverpool’s reluctance to trigger the 24-year-old’s release clause of €60 million and done that themselves.

The Londoners have also made a lucrative offer to Werner in terms of wages, and his representatives have apparently given the signal that they are ready to discuss.

It is believed there is still time for Liverpool to match the offer and bring Werner to Anfield, but at the moment, it’s not expected to happen.

Zorc calls for criticism of Sancho to stop as he praises George Floyd demonstration

Michael Zorc has admonished Jadon Sancho for breaching coronavirus rules, but the Borussia Dortmund sporting director wants criticism of the forward to cease as he praised his George Floyd demonstration.

In photographs published by Bild on Wednesday, Sancho was one of six Dortmund players not wearing a mask while they received haircuts from barber Winnie Nana Karkari at their homes.

That led to a reproach from Zorc, given the German Football League’s (DFL) coronavirus protocol says players should have no contact with the public, remain at home and receive no visitors because of the pandemic.

However, Zorc also thinks Sancho’s act at the weekend – when he revealed a “justice for George Floyd” t-shirt after scoring against Paderborn – should earn him greater respect.

On the same day the haircut photos were revealed, the German Football Association (DFB) said it would not punish Sancho and others for “actions of anti-racism”, which came after Floyd died in police custody in the United States last week.

“I think it’s splendid that the DFB president who sits at the very top wonders about this matter, is flexible and takes current events into consideration,” Zorc told reporters.

“I don’t know in what terms you can look at what the guys did as a political message. It was about humanity, justice and a clear message against racism. How many campaigns have we done together with DFB on this matter?

“Maybe it’s about time to put away the criticism which Jadon Sancho often receives, as he was one of the first who have actually made a stand and showed a clear sign against racism in the match against Paderborn.”

In the Bild report, it was also suggested Sancho flew back to England earlier in the lockdown period.

He only came off the bench in Dortmund’s first three games back after the break due to a calf injury before marking his return to the starting line-up with a hat-trick against Paderborn.

“To our knowledge Jadon has been in Dortmund for weeks,” Zorc added. 

“I even read that we have put him into a two-week long quarantine and faked an injury. I can only say that is completely wrong.

“Jadon has had a calf injury for weeks, which is why he could not participate in training.”

On what he said to Sancho regarding the haircut, Zorc added: “We have spoken to both the hairdresser and the player.

“Both have ensured us that the measures of hygiene have been respected at all times. They even wore a protection shield and gloves, which were only taken off for the picture.

“Obviously this is not right. We have made that clear once again to the players.

“In this special situation that we are all in due to COVID-19 it is not just the duty of the coaches to keep an eye on discipline. The whole club needs to do that, this includes the board.

“We have spoken to the players in the past. Also with Jadon. We must not forget Jadon is still a very young player, testing his boundaries.

“I don’t think I’m accused of protecting him all the time, as I have sanctioned him when there have been misconducts from his side.”

Zorc calls for criticism of Sancho to stop as he praises George Floyd demonstration

Michael Zorc has admonished Jadon Sancho for breaching coronavirus rules, but the Borussia Dortmund sporting director wants criticism of the forward to cease as he praised his George Floyd demonstration.

In photographs published by Bild on Wednesday, Sancho was one of six Dortmund players not wearing a mask while they received haircuts from barber Winnie Nana Karkari at their homes.

That led to a reproach from Zorc, given the German Football League’s (DFL) coronavirus protocol says players should have no contact with the public, remain at home and receive no visitors because of the pandemic.

However, Zorc also thinks Sancho’s act at the weekend – when he revealed a “justice for George Floyd” t-shirt after scoring against Paderborn – should earn him greater respect.

On the same day the haircut photos were revealed, the German Football Association (DFB) said it would not punish Sancho and others for “actions of anti-racism”, which came after Floyd died in police custody in the United States last week.

“I think it’s splendid that the DFB president who sits at the very top wonders about this matter, is flexible and takes current events into consideration,” Zorc told reporters.

“I don’t know in what terms you can look at what the guys did as a political message. It was about humanity, justice and a clear message against racism. How many campaigns have we done together with DFB on this matter?

“Maybe it’s about time to put away the criticism which Jadon Sancho often receives, as he was one of the first who have actually made a stand and showed a clear sign against racism in the match against Paderborn.”

In the Bild report, it was also suggested Sancho flew back to England earlier in the lockdown period.

He only came off the bench in Dortmund’s first three games back after the break due to a calf injury before marking his return to the starting line-up with a hat-trick against Paderborn.

“To our knowledge Jadon has been in Dortmund for weeks,” Zorc added. 

“I even read that we have put him into a two-week long quarantine and faked an injury. I can only say that is completely wrong.

“Jadon has had a calf injury for weeks, which is why he could not participate in training.”

On what he said to Sancho regarding the haircut, Zorc added: “We have spoken to both the hairdresser and the player.

“Both have ensured us that the measures of hygiene have been respected at all times. They even wore a protection shield and gloves, which were only taken off for the picture.

“Obviously this is not right. We have made that clear once again to the players.

“In this special situation that we are all in due to COVID-19 it is not just the duty of the coaches to keep an eye on discipline. The whole club needs to do that, this includes the board.

“We have spoken to the players in the past. Also with Jadon. We must not forget Jadon is still a very young player, testing his boundaries.

“I don’t think I’m accused of protecting him all the time, as I have sanctioned him when there have been misconducts from his side.”

Coronavirus: Player wages should not fall after pandemic, says Bale´s agent

Player wages should not fall because of the coronavirus pandemic and the onus is on clubs to run themselves better, says agent Jonathan Barnett.

Barnett, whose clients include Real Madrid star Gareth Bale, feels players should not be the ones to pay the price for falling revenues after the COVID-19 crisis.

The future values of sponsorships, matchday income and television deals are uncertain after the global lockdown halted all top-level sport.

But Barnett thinks players, who have short careers, are the star attractions needed to ensure football retains top billing.

“I don’t see players’ wages dropping, that is for sure,” he told BBC Radio 4.

“Most players are on contracts. What I do see is maybe clubs have to look at how they run their club a bit better.

“Fans come to see players play, no one comes to see the chief executive play, that [players] is what puts money on the table.

“It’s not a question of players earning less because it is a short period of time to earn their money.”

Barnett was asked if the days of huge transfer fees are over and while he acknowledged there would be an initial drop, he felt it was unlikely to last.

“I think in the short term [there will be a drop], but not in the long term,” he said. “They [the huge transfers] will come back. Market values will come back.” 

On the approach clubs should take, Barnett added: “You have just got to look at it sensibly and say, ‘This year I can’t afford to pay so I won’t do it this year’.

“Act sensibly and pay what they can afford to pay. If they can’t [afford to buy], they don’t. Nobody is going to be forcing them. 

“They can offer for a player whatever money they can afford. If it is right for the player, it’s fine. If not, then he stays where he is or goes somewhere else.

“After the next television deal they [clubs] will hopefully be in a better position, or once the fans start coming back they might be in a better position again to do it. 

“[Then] their sponsorships go up and all these things come back.”

Coronavirus: Player wages should not fall after pandemic, says Bale´s agent

Player wages should not fall because of the coronavirus pandemic and the onus is on clubs to run themselves better, says agent Jonathan Barnett.

Barnett, whose clients include Real Madrid star Gareth Bale, feels players should not be the ones to pay the price for falling revenues after the COVID-19 crisis.

The future values of sponsorships, matchday income and television deals are uncertain after the global lockdown halted all top-level sport.

But Barnett thinks players, who have short careers, are the star attractions needed to ensure football retains top billing.

“I don’t see players’ wages dropping, that is for sure,” he told BBC Radio 4.

“Most players are on contracts. What I do see is maybe clubs have to look at how they run their club a bit better.

“Fans come to see players play, no one comes to see the chief executive play, that [players] is what puts money on the table.

“It’s not a question of players earning less because it is a short period of time to earn their money.”

Barnett was asked if the days of huge transfer fees are over and while he acknowledged there would be an initial drop, he felt it was unlikely to last.

“I think in the short term [there will be a drop], but not in the long term,” he said. “They [the huge transfers] will come back. Market values will come back.” 

On the approach clubs should take, Barnett added: “You have just got to look at it sensibly and say, ‘This year I can’t afford to pay so I won’t do it this year’.

“Act sensibly and pay what they can afford to pay. If they can’t [afford to buy], they don’t. Nobody is going to be forcing them. 

“They can offer for a player whatever money they can afford. If it is right for the player, it’s fine. If not, then he stays where he is or goes somewhere else.

“After the next television deal they [clubs] will hopefully be in a better position, or once the fans start coming back they might be in a better position again to do it. 

“[Then] their sponsorships go up and all these things come back.”

Dortmund can´t catch Bayern – Zorc concedes Bundesliga title is decided

Borussia Dortmund sporting director Michael Zorc has admitted defeat in the Bundesliga title race as he acknowledged Bayern Munich will be crowned champions again.

When the Bundesliga resumed last month after a two-month hiatus due to the coronavirus pandemic, Dortmund trailed Bayern by four points with nine games remaining.

However, last week’s 1-0 win in Der Klassiker at Signal Iduna Park increased Bayern’s lead to seven points, an advantage they maintained after the weekend’s results when they thumped Fortuna Dusseldorf 5-0.

With five games remaining and Bayern in fine form, Zorc has accepted Dortmund’s hopes of preventing their rivals winning an eighth straight Bundesliga title are over.

“I think we said it all during the previous week after the match against Bayern,” Zorc told reporters.

“From our point of view, the title has been decided.

“We don’t believe Bayern will slip, they are just too good, one has to admit that.

“We are currently second and would very much like to finish there.”

Dortmund are two points clear of third-placed RB Leipzig and four above Borussia Monchengladbach and Bayer Leverkusen.

Lucien Favre’s side still need to visit Leipzig but their next game is against Hertha Berlin on Saturday, when teenager Erling Haaland could potentially be missing from the side once more.

The striker came off in the loss to Bayern with a knee injury and was absent for the 6-1 win at Paderborn on Sunday.

“He started to work out with the team for 40 minutes today,” Zorc said of Haaland.

“He will be with us tomorrow and we will see. He did not do much since he was slightly injured. We will see.”

On captain Marco Reus, who has not played since February due to a thigh injury, Zorc added: “Marco Reus has not been in training with the team for four months.

“He is slowly getting there. He did a lot of running. He has been starting to work with the ball but only in individual training.”

Montpellier eye free Luca Zidane transfer

Montpellier are closely watching the situation with Real Madrid’s Luca Zidane, according to Marca.

Zinedine Zidane’s son has so far played only twice for Real’s first team, and this season he has been loaned out to Racing Santander, making a total of 27 appearances and keeping a clean sheet six times. However, it appears that the 22-year-old goalkeeper has no place in his father’s plans. He reportedly refused to sign a new contract earlier this year, with the current one expiring at the end of this month. Thibaut Courtois is, of course, the undisputed first choice. Alphonse Areola is set to return to Paris Saint-Germain at the end of the season as his loan expires. It has also been reported that Zidane senior wants Andriy Lunin, currently on loan at Real Oviedo, to take the role of backup to Courtois next term.

Montpellier are apparently looking to take advantage of the situation and snatch Luca for free, by offering him the number one spot between the posts. The position was filled by Geronimo Rulli in 2019/20, who was on loan from Real Sociedad and is set to return there.

Werner agrees Liverpool terms?

Liverpool have agreed personal terms with RB Leipzig’s Timo Werner, according to football operations and communication consultant Ian McGarry.

The 24-year-old striker, who has so far netted 31 goals in 40 appearances in all competitions for Leipzig this season, has been linked with the runaway Premier League leaders for a long time, but the rumours have grown apace since his open flirting with them back in February. Interest from a host of other clubs has been reported too, but it seems Werner has his heart set on Anfield and working with Jurgen Klopp. The Liverpool boss apparently spoke to him personally via online platforms on several occasions, assuring him that his services are wanted on Merseyside.

Speaking on the Transfer Window Podcast, McGarry said that Liverpool and the Germany international had agreed on a five-year deal, worth around £140,000 per week in wages. However, the two clubs are yet to find common ground when it comes to the transfer fee. Liverpool are still reluctant to pay the €60m release clause in Werner’s current contract which runs until 2023, believing they will be able to negotiate a lower price when the market opens.

Bochum 27/20 to beat St. Pauli in Friday’s Bundesliga II battle

Competition: Bundesliga II

Market: Bochum win

Odds: 27/20 @ Bet 365

Continuing on their unbeaten run since returning from the enforced break, Bochum will welcome St. Pauli to an empty Vonovia Ruhrstadion on Friday evening.

Starting with the hosts, while Bochum might have been disappointed to have only collected a point away at Nurnburg last week, Thomas Reis’ side did dominate large spells of proceedings and have caught the eye since returning to action. Unbeaten in each of their four Bundesliga II appearances and finding a route back into the top half of the table, there is no doubt that Reis and co will be glad to make a return to home soil on Friday evening. Including picking up a deserved 2-1 win over Holstein Kiel in their last matchup at the Vonovia Ruhrstadion, Bochum really made a statement when marking the return from the enforced break against promotion contenders Heidenheim. Putting in what some describe as a season-best display and landing an empathic 3-0 romp, this week’s hosts should be confident of making it three in three at home.

As for the visitors, throwing away the lead at relegation scrappers Karlsruher last week and only picking up a lackluster point, St. Pauli are still struggling to find their feet since returning from the break. Including what was a woeful showing in a 4-0 hammering against Darmstadt last month, Kiezkicker have won just one of their last five Bundesliga II outings and Head Coach Jos Luhukay has seen his side continue to struggle on their travels. Remarkably managing to pick up just a single second-tier victory on the road, St. Pauli have also secured just a sole win away from the Millerntor-Stadion since away back in March 2019. With some in Luhukay’s camp continuing to look over their shoulder at the drop zone, Friday’s trip to Bochum could be another long evening for the away day strugglers.

Bet: Bochum 27/20 to beat St. Pauli in Friday’s Bundesliga II battle @ Bet 365

Under 2.5 goals at Smolevichy-STI vs Gorodeya 8/15 for Friday’s Belarusian Premier League matchup

Competition: Belarusian Premier League

Market: Under 2.5 goals

Odds: 8/15 @ Bet 365

Once again turning our attention to the Belarusian Premier League on Friday, two of the strugglers will face off when Smolevichy-STI host Gorodeya to open up the weekend.

Starting with the hosts, still in the midst of what has been a woeful Premier League return for Smolevichy-STI, Aleksandr Brazevich’s men are unsurprisingly seen as a leading contender for the drop this year. Opening up the weekend already sat eight points adrift of safety and the mood in their camp at a worrying low, they have managed to pick up just a sole point out of a possible 12 over their last four outings. In fact, still searching for their first top-flight victory entering June, Smolevichy-STI also have a growing reputation for their worrying issues on home soil. Including being completely blown away by BATE last time out in Oktyabrsky, Friday’s hosts have lost each of their last three matchups at the Ozyorny Stadium and have just one home point to their name since marking their Premier League return.

As for the visitors, while the mood around Oktyabrsky might be at a continued low, Gorodeya isn’t fairing much better after a woeful display last week. Completely outplayed and hit with a sluggish 2-0 defeat against Neman Grodno on home soil, the Greens have come crashing back down to earth after a bright run back in April. Failing to win any of their last six Premier League appearances and steadily sliding down the table, Head Coach Oleg Radushko will be desperate for his side to make some much-needed alterations in the final third. Drawing a blank against Grodno last time out, Gorodeya have failed to bag more than a single strike in any of their opening 10 matchups this season. In a battle between two sides holding the joint-worst attacking records since entering June, we’re backing chances to come at a real premium on Friday afternoon.

Bet: Under 2.5 goals at Smolevichy-STI vs Gorodeya 8/15 for Friday’s Belarusian Premier League matchup @ Bet 365