Sturridge terminates Trabzonspor contract

Trabzonspor and Daniel Sturridge have reached a mutual agreement for the three-year contract signed last summer to be terminated, the Turkish club have confirmed.

Having started his career with Manchester City, the striker also played for Chelsea before spending six and a half years at Liverpool during which he bagged 67 goals in 160 appearances for the Reds. His best season by far was 2013/14, when his 21 league strikes and the formidable partnership he had formed with Luis Suarez brought the current Premier League leaders very close to the title. Injuries greatly limited his contribution in the years that followed, and he was allowed to leave as a free agent when his contract expired last summer.

Having joined Trabzonspor, he netted seven goals in 13 games for the Super Lig side.

In their statement, the club said Sturridge had given up all his ‘forward-looking rights and receivables’. It has been reported that the 30-year-old, who also has eight goals in 28 games for England, is looking to return to the Premier League.

United lead Sancho race

Manchester United have jumped to the head of the queue to sign Jadon Sancho from Borussia Dortmund, according to The Telegraph.

The winger, who turns 20 this month, has become one of the most sought-after players  in the last several months with clubs around Europe reportedly interested in his services. Various outlets have been linking him with the likes of Chelsea, Liverpool, Paris Saint-Germain, Real Madrid and Juventus, but it seems United have decisively moved ahead of them all. The fee they would be required to pay to make the move happen is still to be agreed and will likely exceed the one they paid for Paul Pogba, but it is believed that the personal terms are already set with the England international at £200,000 per week.

Dortmund sporting director Michael Zorc has revealed that Manchester City would still be able to turn the tide with a matching offer under the terms of the deal which saw Sancho move from Etihad to the Signal Iduna Park in 2017, and they might yet be tempted to do so with the future of Leroy Sane uncertain. Liverpool are also looking to boost their attacking options in the summer, but as things stand at the moment, it’s United who are making concrete steps.

Roma could have problems to sign Smalling from Man United

AS Roma are happy with how their scouting of the Premier League worked so far. Henrikh Mkhitaryan arrived from Arsenal and whilst he has not been great at all times, recently his form started picking up. But it is Chris Smalling who has been making bigger strides since making a move to Rome.

Manchester United centre-back has done really well ever since leaving Old Trafford and at Olimpico everyone is happy with how he is doing. So happy that Roma are now ready to try and sign Smalling permanently. However, that is where the problems start occurring.

According to the Express Sport, Smalling’s move to Roma could be made permanent for 17 million pounds, which is around 20 million euros.  That could be a too big of a task for Roma, despite their desires to see him sign the permanent deal. The Italian club are hoping they can negotiate the fee down to 14 million pounds and it will be interesting to see United’s stance on this.

Inter to sign another Man United player

Inter Milan are only looking towards Premier League these days. Since Antonio Conte arrived at the Giuseppe Meazza Stadium, Inter have started signing players almost exclusively from the English top flight and now another Manchester United player is set to join them.

Last summer that was Alexis Sanchez, who came on loan, Ashley Young arrived in January and also Victor Moses and Christian Eriksen signed deals from other Premier League sides. Now that player should become Tahith Chong. Man United winger will swap England for Italy this summer, according to Tuttosport.

Their report suggests Inter are willing to offer the 20-year-old a deal worth two million euros per year, as he is set to leave Old Trafford as a free agent. This means Inter would be signing him on a pre-contract, but would be expected to leave on loan once he arrives, as he does not have an obvious role in Antonio Conte’s preferred system.

Real Madrid 2-0 FC Barcelona: Vinicius, Mariano Score As Los Merengues Win El Clasico

Real Madrid knew they hadn’t defeated FC Barcelona at Santiago Bernabeu since 2014, and they ended that negative run with a strong performance, particularly in the second half. Los Merengues stole a 2-0 win and that result pushed them to the top of the Liga standings.

Vinicius Junior scored in the 71st minute and Mariano added the second goal on stoppage time. That would be enough to lift Real Madrid to the top of the standings while ending a two-game winless streak. Meanwhile, this result also ended Barcelona’s four-game winning run.

Courtois put up a show during a scoreless first half

The first half got off to a slow start in the first 20 minutes, where neither side was able to create clear-cut chances and the biggest news were two yellow cards given to Alba and Dani Carvajal. The rain and the windy conditions played a role here, however, as neither side looked particularly comfortable under those conditions and Real Madrid took advantage to start putting pressure against Barcelona’s midfielders. Things eventually settled, though, and Barcelona began to look slightly on top.

Antoine Griezmann created the first real chance in the 21st minute. The France international could have found the back of the net, but he sent his attempt over the crossbar despite sitting near the penalty spot.

Los Blaugranas began to create chances past the 25th minute mark, when Messi and Arthur both faced Courtois but couldn’t score. The Brazilian had one of the best chances of the entire first half with a one-on-one against the former Chelsea goalkeeper, but his attempt was denied. Messi also come close to score in the 38th minute with a shot from close range, but Courtois was magnificent once again to deny the Argentina star.

Real Madrid didn’t have many chances throughout the first half, as their attacking attempts were mostly related to counter-attacking sequences where Vinicius Jr. paced the way, but without much success. Barcelona were in control most of the match, however, and the first 45 minutes ended with a scoreless draw even though the intensity and pace of this match didn’t deserve that kind of result at the break.

Real Madrid flipped the script after half-time

Real Madrid began the second half with a more attacking-minded approach and, just like it happened in the first 45 minutes, they looked better in the early going. Isco came inches away from scoring 10 minutes into the second half with a long-range shot, but Marc-Andre ter Stegen was magnificent to deny the Spain international from what would’ve been one of the best goals of the 2019-20 Liga season.

Madrid didn’t stop there, though. Isco nodded the ball home in the 61st minute and ter Stegen – along with Gerard Pique – were there to deny the goal. And as if that wasn’t enough, Benzema missed a point-blank range volley in the 63rd minute when the Germany international was all but beaten.

Barcelona couldn’t adjust and they sent Martin Braithwaite off the bench. The Dane had an almost instant impact since he created a chance just seconds after entering the pitch, but that was just an isolated play. Real Madrid kept attacking, and they would find their prize in the 71st minute thanks to Vinicius Junior.

The former Flamengo star found himself all along following a great through ball from Toni Kroos, and he blasted a shot from close into the near post that went past ter Stegen following a deflection. The Brazilian gets all the credit for scoring, but Kroos was the mastermind behind the goal with an exquisite pass.

Barcelona can’t react after Vinicius’ goal

Los Blaugranas pushed the lines forward after Real Madrid’s goal, but they couldn’t do much aside from an isolated run from Messi that was easily controlled by the opposing defence. Quique Setien sent Ivan Rakitic and Ansu Fati for the final 10 minutes of the game, but neither could make a big impact out there.

Gerard Pique had Barcelona’s final chance in the 83rd minute, but he couldn’t score with a close-range header following a cross from Messi. Real Madrid also had chances, but ter Stegen was magnificent time and time again to protect the result.

Real Madrid shifted to a 4-5-1 tactic with the entrance of Luka Modric and, while threatening on the counter, the hosts chose to control the game down the stretch. The strategy paid off, and Real Madrid close the game to deliver a huge win in front of their crowd against the bitter rivals.

There would be one final goal, though. Mariano Diaz, who came off the bench, netted the second goal on stoppage time to close the deal. The two-goal was undeserved given how the match happened, but the striker took advantage of Barca’s defensive woes to find the back of the net.

This could be a result with huge ramifications in the 2019-20 LaLiga title race.

Match Report

Real Madrid: Courtois (7); Dani Carvajal (7), Varane (5), Sergio Ramos (6), Marcelo (5); Valverde (6) (Lucas Vazquez (-), 86’), Casemiro (5), Kroos (7); Isco (6) (Modric (-), 79’), Benzema (7) (Mariano (-), 90+1’), Vinicius Junior (7)

Bench: Areola (GK), Mendy, Eder Militao, Bale

FC Barcelona: Ter Stegen (8); Semedo (5), Pique (6), Umtiti (5), Jordi Alba (5); Arthur (5) (Rakitic (-), 80’), Busquets (6), de Jong (5); Vidal (6) (Braithwaite (5), 69’), Messi (7), Griezmann (4) (Fati (-), 81’)

Bench: Neto (GK), Lenglet, Junior Firpo, Alex Collado

Goals: Vinicius Junior (1-0, 71’), Mariano (2-0, 90+2’)

Referee: Antonio Mateu

Yellow Cards: Vinicius Junior, Dani Carvajal (MAD); Alba, Messi (BAR)

Red Cards: None

Aston Villa 1-2 Manchester City: Aguero and Rodri strike to secure hat-trick of League Cups

Manchester City lifted their third Carabao Cup in succession on Sunday evening as they beat Premier League rivals Aston Villa 2-1 at Wembley Stadium.

Sergio Aguero kept up his excellent scoring record against the Villains by notching the opening strike in the 20th minute of the match. It took just ten minutes for City to get their second as midfielder Rodri headed in powerfully from a corner. Mbwana Samatta reduced the deficit for Villa just before half-time with his second goal for the club since arriving in January.

Dean Smith’s men continued to push for an equaliser throughout what was a pulsating tie under the arch but once again Manchester City ran out victors as their period of glory continues under Pep Guardiola.

Aguero on the scoresheet

Despite being touted as huge underdogs before the game, Villa actually started very well. Anwar El Ghazi should have opened the scoring early on but lifted a headed effort over the bar.

He would soon regret that miss as City begun to dominate and eventually took the lead through Aguero. Rodri did excellently to spin a ball in behind for Foden, who nodded the it across the face of goal to the Argentine striker. He struck clinically with a bouncing finish into the far corner of the net.

Foden went close to then doubling the advantage himself as his curling effort was deflected behind.

Controversial corner costs Villa but hope restored

They did not have to wait much longer to score again but this time in controversial circumstances. Having been awarded a corner that maybe should have been given Aston Villa’s way, Rodri leapt highest in plenty of room to plant a firm header into the back of the net.

Dean Smith’s men struggled to find any kind of a foothold throughout the first-half, that was until Samatta reduced the deficit. John Stones failed to correctly deal with a lifted ball in-behind, giving El Ghazi the chance to cross. With a brilliant diving header, Samatta reached the ball and powered it into the bottom corner.

Bravo, Bravo!

The second-half took a familiar pattern to the first, with City looking for more goals. It took a low stop from Orjan Nyland to stop Rodri adding another to his tally as he again reached a dangerous corner. Aguero also went close to doubling his afternoon’s work but volleyed a powerful shot into the side-netting.

The longer City went without netting their third, the more encouragement Villa got. They went so close to equalising in the final few minutes as Bjorn Engels saw his header from a corner tipped onto the post by Manchester City goalkeeper Claudio Bravo.

His opposite number Nyland also had to be on top form to deny substitute Bernardo Silva a late goal but they only needed the one-goal margin as they again secured the League Cup – the seventh in the club’s history in all.

Final Thoughts

Villa put up a fight and that is a remarkable thing to suggest after the final was made to look like a formality following Rodri’s goal. In all though, Manchester City deserved to win the trophy. They created some of the clearer opportunities and but for some better finishing, it could have been a far more convincing and emphatic scoreline.

Match Report

Aston Villa: Nyland (7); Targett (6), Mings (6), Engels (6), Guilbert (6); Luiz (6), Nakamba (5); El Ghazi (6) (Hourihane (6), 70′), Grealish (5), Elmohamady (6) (Trezeguet (5), 70′); Samatta (7) (Davis (N/A), 80′).

Manchester City: Bravo (7); Zinchenko (6), Fernandinho (7), Stones (5), Walker (6); D. Silva (7) (B. Silva (N/A), 76′), Rodri (7), Gundogan (6) (De Bruyne (7), 58′); Foden (7), Aguero (7) (Jesus (N/A), 84′), Sterling (6).

Goals: Aguero (20′), Rodri (30′), Samatta (41′)

Referee: Lee Mason

Yellow Cards: Sterling (57′), Rodri (60′), Elmohamady (68′), Nakamba (72′), Mings (90+3′)

Red Cards: N/A

Coronavirus: Why Football Must Take Precautions Regarding Worldwide Disease

By now, everybody has heard, read, known or, unfortunately felt, the effects of coronavirus. The disease has created a worldwide impact and football has not been left out of what’s happened.

The biggest effects have come in the Chinese Super League and the Japanese J-League, as both leagues are suspended until further notice due to the high risk of contagion. However, the effects have also been felt in Europe. Some of the top leagues in the world have been impacted by the coronavirus.

This weekend, several Serie A matches were suspended due to health concerns at a governmental level – the biggest one was Inter Milan vs Juventus, a match that could very well turn out to be decisive in the title race. The issue also happened the previous week, meaning the Serie A schedule could turn out to be longer than expected.

With the news of a Serie C player being reportedly infected by the virus, things might only escalate from now in Italy. Other league might soon adopt similar procedures to avoid this from repeating elsewhere.

Other countries have been affected as well. Players are jobless. Teams have had issues to sign players coming from abroad. Some leagues have even talked about potential cancellation plans. The English Premier League have reportedly entertained the idea of stopping the league earlier than expected. That would crown Liverpool as anticipated champions.

Manchester United also had an issue related to the virus. January loanee Odion Ighalo didn’t join the team’s training camp due to the possibility of him being infected. Nothing happened afterwards, however, and the Nigeria international is now playing with the club. He was signed on a six-month loan deal coming from the Chinese Super League.

Even the 2022 World Cup Qualifiers could be at risk, and that’s the best example of what could happen in the future with football as a whole. The sport can’t be the most important thing when consider what’s the future going to hold and when talking about a worldwide disease that could potentially kill thousands of people.

Taking precautions is the way to go. Even if it means to lengthen the football schedule as a direct consequence.

Pep Guardiola Explains Fine Margins Between Winning and Losing For Managers (Video)

Speaking to the press ahead of the Carabao Cup final against Aston Villa on Sunday, Manchester City boss felt compelled to explain the fine margins between the manager who wins a game and the one whose team loses.

Chelsea want Gent starlet Jonathan David

Chelsea are preparing a swoop for Jonathan David of Gent, according to the Sunday Express.

Apparently, the London Blues had scouts present when the 20-year-old Canadian forward scored as Gent dropped out of the Europa League in the round of 32 against AS Roma, and the reports they brought back to Stamford Bridge made a strong impression on manager Frank Lampard.

Lampard is keen to rebuild his forward options this summer. Willian and Pedro have both been linked with departure, as well as Olivier Giroud who came close to joining Inter Milan this winter. Michy Batshuayi doesn’t seem to be performing at the level expected and could be on his way out too. Christian Pulisic, Mason Mount and Callum Hudson-Odoi are likely to remain the manager’s choices on the flanks, but a centre-forward capable of competing with Tammy Abraham is what they’re trying to find on the market.

However, Chelsea could face competition from Liverpool, Manchester United, Tottenham Hotspur and Leicester City, who have all been reportedly following the progress of the Canadian youngster. This season, David has had 33 goal involvements (23 goals, 10 assists) in 38 games in all competitions for Gent.

PSG to enter Sancho race?

Paris Saint-Germain are preparing to enter the race for the signature of Borussia Dortmund’s Jadon Sancho, according to the Daily Express.

The winger’s career, and consequently his market value too, has sky-rocketed since he arrived to the Signal Iduna Park directly from Manchester City’s U-18 setup back in the summer of 2017. His pace and trickery on the attacking flanks have gotten him 35 goal involvements (17 goals, 18 assists) in 33 games for Dortmund in all competitions this season and attracted the interests of practically every major club across Europe.

Real Madrid, Juventus, Liverpool, Chelsea and Manchester United have all been credited with strong interest, but it seems he has impressed the Ligue 1 champions in the first leg of their Champions League round of 16 clash which Dortmund won 2-1, sufficiently for them to make him a summer transfer target. Apparently, they see him as a viable option to replace Neymar, should the Brazilian star leave the club.