It´s all talk – Rice dismisses Man United links

Declan Rice has dismissed speculation he could leave West Ham for Manchester United as “all talk”.

Rice has broken into the England team on the back of his mature Premier League performances at London Stadium.

West Ham boss Manuel Pellegrini said in March the club could be forced to cash in on the 20-year-old if the price was right.

United, struggling in the league’s bottom half, are reportedly ready to make a £70million offer for Rice when the January transfer window opens.

But the midfielder is unconcerned about rumours over his future, having committed to the Hammers by agreeing a long-term deal.

“I signed a five-year contract with West Ham last year, which will keep me at the club till I’m 24,” Rice told the Daily Mail.

“And for me this is the best place to be right now. I am playing for a manager who has given me my chance and played me week in, week out.

“It’s all talk until something happens – and nothing has – so I’m just focused on West Ham, doing my best and making the fans happy.”

Muller transfer unimaginable for Bayern Munich chief Rummenigge

Karl-Heinz Rummenigge expects Thomas Muller to stay at Bayern Munich beyond January despite his frustration with a lack of playing time.

Attacking midfielder Muller, 30, expressed dissatisfaction with his marginalised role in an interview earlier this month, telling Kicker he was “too ambitious” to settle for a place among the substitutes.

The 2014 World Cup winner started none of the club’s final five games leading into the international break.

Reports have suggested Muller will ask for a move when the window reopens but Bayern CEO Rummenigge would be surprised to receive a transfer request.

“I cannot imagine that,” Rummenigge told German newspaper Welt am Sonntag.

“The relationship between Thomas and Bayern is totally intact and he will remain an important part of our club.”

Muller has spent his entire professional career at Allianz Arena, winning eight Bundesliga titles.

He made 28 league starts under Niko Kovac last season but the arrival of Philippe Coutinho on loan from Barcelona has increased the competition for places in Muller’s favoured position behind the striker.

Rummenigge accepted the 100-cap Germany international’s decision to speak out about his concerns.

He said: “If Thomas would sit contentedly on the bench, he would be at the wrong club.

“That’s the reaction we want, but he still has to deal with the situation seriously. He does that perfectly.”

Neymar can become world´s best on any team – Alisson

Neymar does not have to leave Paris Saint-Germain to fulfil his goal of becoming the world’s best player, according to Brazil team-mate Alisson.

The forward was strongly linked with a return to Barcelona during the transfer window, but no move to Camp Nou came to fruition.

Neymar has instead remained in the French capital, scoring four goals in five Ligue 1 games since recovering from a foot injury.

The 27-year-old did not finish in the top 10 for the 2018 Ballon d’Or but, asked if Neymar could become the best player in the world by joining Barcelona, Alisson told Mundo Deportivo: “I think that Neymar can be the best in the world on any team.

“Neymar is a high-level player and would be fundamental in any team in the world. If he returns to Barcelona or not… I wish him good luck and to play with his usual joy and energy, wherever he is.”

Five-time Ballon d’Or winner Lionel Messi was reportedly pushing for Neymar to be signed by Barca, but he told RAC1 this month he was surprised his former team-mate did not join Real Madrid after it became clear he wanted to leave PSG.

Messi and Alisson met in the Champions League for the second season in a row last term, with the former Roma goalkeeper again coming out on top with a stunning second-leg comeback.

The Argentina captain had struck twice in the first leg to seemingly give Liverpool a mountain to climb but they won 4-0 at Anfield to overturn their deficit, going on to win the tournament by defeating fellow Premier League side Tottenham in the final.

Alisson also got the better of Messi at this year’s Copa America, where Brazil beat Argentina 2-0 in the semi-finals before going on to lift the trophy on home soil with a win over Peru.

“The truth is that Messi played very well in the first leg in Barcelona and achieved two goals, but in the return I managed to stop him in some important moments,” Alisson added.

“Messi is one of the best players in football history, but I don’t think only of duels with him. Both Barcelona and Argentina are two very good teams that have high quality players.

“Luckily, in the last three matches I have been able to overcome him, but the merits are of the whole team: Rome, Liverpool and Brazil.”

 

Mancini: Italy have closed gap to Europe´s strongest nations

Roberto Mancini believes an improving Italy are ready to compete with the continent’s top teams after sealing a place at Euro 2020.

Jorginho and Federico Bernardeschi scored in a 2-0 victory over Greece in Rome on Saturday to confirm the Azzurri’s qualification from Group J.

Euro 2020 will mark the nation’s first appearance at a major tournament in four years following the shock failure to reach the World Cup in Russia.

Mancini took charge in the aftermath of that debacle and has guided a refreshed side to an eight-match winning streak, one short of the Italy record achieved under Vittorio Pozzo in the 1930s.

“We created a team in a short time and it wasn’t that easy,” Mancini said.

“Much of the credit must be given to the players. I tried to make them believe in their qualities at a time when many said there were no players with quality. I just needed a little patience.

“There is no absolute star, but there is a group that fights, that plays good football and that must improve.

“We haven’t won anything, but we have qualified with three games to play. We must be very happy considering what our starting point was.

“I don’t think there’s a big gap to the big European teams.”

Though his team held the hosts goalless for over an hour at Stadio Olimpico, Greece boss John van’t Schip agreed with Mancini’s assessment of Italy as a potential contender at next year’s tournament.

“They have overcome the crisis they went through two years ago,” he said.

“Italy can be a very dangerous outsider for the Euros or maybe even one of the favourites.”

Lepizig in Klostermann contract talks

RB Leipzig are in talks with Lukas Klostermann over a new contract, according to the club sporting director, Markus Krosche.

The 23-year-old defender’s current deal runs for two more years, but speaking to Bild, Krosche said that he felt it’s important to talk to players about new contracts early, as that gives them enough time to think their futures over. He also said it had been the club’s intention (to extend Klostermann’s contract) for some time, but they don’t feel any pressure at this point.

If Klostermann puts his signature on a new contract, it would likely represent a blow to the efforts of Bayern Munich who are trying to continue their policy of taking any highly talented Bundesliga player they can, as well as Arsenal who are looking to add some competition for the right-back spot having released Stephan Lichtsteiner this summer. Despite Calum Chambers proving more than capable of filling the role in the absence of Hector Bellerin, manager Unai Emery is apparently keen to bring Klostermann to the Emirates.

Arsenal open Aubameyang contract talks

Arsenal have opened negotiations with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang over a new contract, according to Gazzetta dello Sport.

The striker’s current deal with the north London club runs for two more years, but at the Emirates they are keen on securing his services until 2023, when he will have turned 34.

Despite turning 30 four months ago, Aubameyang’s form doesn’t seem to be wavering. He was joint-top scorer of the Premier League last season together with Liverpool duo of Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane with each finding the opposition net 22 times. This time around he’s scored seven goals in eight league matches so far, while his total figures in the Arsenal shirt are 49 strikes in 75 appearances in all competitions since his arrival from Borussia Dortmund in January 2018.

His goals have often dug Arsenal out of ditches with their defence constantly under criticism for poor performances, and he has shown that he can do well both as a central striker and coming in from the left flank when paired up with Alexandre Lacazette.

 

Man United´s Maguire: Poor club form could be affecting England

Manchester United defender Harry Maguire suggested England’s backline has been affected by poor form at club level.

England crashed to a shock 2-1 defeat away to the Czech Republic in Euro 2020 qualifying on Friday, leading to questions about the country’s defence.

The Three Lions have conceded five goals in their past two qualifiers in Group A and Maguire – the world’s most expensive defender who has endured a difficult season with United languishing in 12th position in the Premier League – addressed the situation.

“Yes, maybe,” Maguire said when asked if England’s defence is lacking confidence ahead of Monday’s trip to Bulgaria.

“We bring our club football into international level. It was a difficult game. Don’t get me wrong, we started sloppy. We took the lead in the game but we didn’t deserve to.

“The second half we controlled the game a lot more than the first half but we gave them a sloppy goal to win the game. We do need to improve on that.

“Obviously you are wanting to develop partnerships. Sometimes in international level you can’t really do that.

“You have players who aren’t playing for their clubs so they don’t get selected, and you have players that pick up injuries.

“You’ve got to adapt. That’s one of the tricky parts of playing international football, every camp you’re normally playing alongside different players – you don’t want to be – and need to develop new partnerships.

“But listen, there’s no excuses. We need to be better than Friday night. We need to be better going forward. We need to be better on the ball. And we certainly need to be better at keeping the ball out of the net.”

 

Rumour Has It: Rashford, Kane and Mbappe on Barca´s list of Suarez replacements

Either through injuries or dips in form, Luis Suarez has started to show signs of regression at Barcelona and they are planning for a future without him.

The Uruguayan striker has been a remarkable player for Barca, but at 32 he is approaching the twilight of his career and the Blaugrana have been considering who they might want to replace him with when the time comes.

Meanwhile, one player recently heavily linked with Barca could be signing a new contract with his current employers.

 

TOP STORY – BARCA DRAW UP STRIKERS SHORTLIST

Barca have significantly strengthened several areas of their team in recent transfer windows, with Antoine Griezmann, Junior Firpo, Frenkie de Jong and Neto bolstering their options.

They are now beginning to turn their attentions to the central striker role, according to Mundo Deportivo.

The publication reports Paris Saint-Germain star Kylian Mbappe is the ideal target, though Barca are said to be hopeful of getting him on a cut-price deal in 2021 after he has entered the final year of his contract, assuming he does not sign an extension in the meantime.

England and Tottenham striker Harry Kane is also said to be high up their list, despite their being acknowledgement that his wages would be more of an issue than the transfer fee.

The other two reportedly being considered are Marcus Rashford of Manchester United and Inter’s Lautaro Martinez.

 

ROUND-UP

– Barca missed out on securing the return of Neymar in the most recent transfer window and, according to Gazzetta dello Sport, PSG are now planning to offer the Brazilian a new bumper contract.

– The LaLiga champions are also looking at midfield reinforcements with potential. Napoli’s Fabian RuizEduardo Camavinga of Rennes and Bayer Leverkusen star Kai Havertz are all being considered, though Mundo Deportivo say Real Madrid are also tracking the trio with intent.

– Christian Eriksen’s future has been a hot topic for the last few months, with the Tottenham midfielder’s contract ending next year. Sport1 in Germany claim Bayern Munich have already been in touch with him.

– Liverpool are hoping to sign Brighton and Hove Albion-owned centre-back Ben White, 21, according to the Sun. The defender is impressing on loan at Leeds United and the Reds see him as a replacement for Dejan Lovren, who is said to be eager for a move to get first-team football.

– Despite languishing 12th in the Premier League after a wretched start to the season, the Daily Mail say Manchester United will not be splashing the cash in the January transfer window.

– But the Daily Express report United have reached a “verbal agreement” with Mario Mandzukic of Juventus, who are said to be demanding £10million for the Croatian forward.

David Beckham congratulates Sergio Ramos after breaking Spain record

David Beckham hailed record-breaking Sergio Ramos after the Spain captain broke the country’s appearance record.

Ramos surpassed Iker Casillas’ record by earning his 168th cap in Spain’s 1-1 draw with Norway in Euro 2020 qualifying on Saturday.

The 33-year-old defender, who debuted in 2005, equalled the record last month before making his landmark appearance away to Norway.

Former Real Madrid team-mate Beckham congratulated Ramos in an Instagram video, which said: “My friend, mi amigo.

“This is an incredible moment for you. I just wanted to send you a message because you’ve played 168 games for your country.

“You must be very proud. Your family must be very proud. It’s an incredible moment, passing Iker.

“So, I’m very happy for you and your family. Congratulations my friend, a kiss for you. Enjoy the night.

“Lots of love my friend and congratulations.”

Messi will make Argentina return next month – Scaloni

Argentina captain Lionel Messi will make his return from suspension in November, insists head coach Lionel Scaloni.

Messi was handed a three-month ban from international football in August for accusing South America’s governing body CONMEBOL of “corruption” during the Copa America.

After being controversially sent off in Argentina’s third-place play-off win over Chile in July, Messi did not appear to collect his medal and the five-time Ballon d’Or winner later explained that he did not want to “be part of this corruption, this lack of respect towards the whole Copa”.

Messi also blasted the officiating at the competition following Argentina’s semi-final loss to hosts Brazil, before then suggesting referees and the VAR would favour Tite’s men against Peru in the final, which the Selecao won 3-1.

The Argentina skipper has missed friendlies against Chile, Mexico and Germany, and he will sit out Sunday’s clash with Ecuador ahead of next month’s return.