Kretinsky £650m West Ham takeover, Barcelona ‘want Cavani’, Wales World Cup draw, Tottenham and Chelsea transfer news
DANIEL KRETINSKY is in line for a £650million West Ham takeover after signing a deal for an optional buy out.
The Czech tycoon, 46, could push through a full takeover by 2023 with David Sullivan and David Gold agree to the sale.
Kretinsky is already on the board after buying a 27 per cent stake at the board, has an Olympian showjumping girlfriend and has been branded the ‘Czech Sphinx’.
Meanwhile, Wales are potentially on course for a World Cup play-off showdown with Scotland after the pair were drawn in Path A in Friday’s draw.
And Chelsea could be in for £84million Federico Chiesa, with the Juventus star on the Blues’ radar.
Thomas Tuchel’s side qualified for the Champions League last 16 following their win and are in the hat for the draw on December 13.
In other news, Erling Haaland could be given a new contract at Borussia Dortmund, which would double the Norwegian’s wages.
Manchester United, Chelsea, Manchester City and Real Madrid are all interested in signing the goalscoring machine, 21.
And Newcastle have reportedly joined the race to sign £70m Fiorentina star Dusan Vlahovic.
Get all the latest football news, updates and transfer gossip below…
WRECK IT RALF
Ralf Rangnick has not ruled out becoming Manchester United’s permanent boss in the summer, writes NEIL CUSTIS.
The German, 63, is yet to agree a move to Old Trafford, with details of his role at the end of the season still not finalised.
United have reached an agreement with Lokomotiv Moscow’s head of sports and development to become their interim manager.
The Red Devils made it clear he will then take on a similar role to his Lokomotiv job for the next two seasons.
But Rangnick’s side are still negotiating the final details of his contract, with a possible clause allowing him to continue as boss if he wants to.
If he does agree to a move into an overseeing role, he wants assurances over the power he will have in terms of player recruitment and development.
There is also no agreement as yet about any bonuses he will receive for United’s success during his time in an overseeing role.
He does not want his move to United just to be seen as a six-month interim term before being moved upstairs, but a serious longer-term project.
Nicolas Pepe is running out of time to prove himself at Arsenal, writes MARK IRWIN.
It is more than two years since the Ivorian international became the club’s £72million record signing from Lille.
But he has still not been able to nail down a place in Mikel Arteta’s starting XI.
Pepe’s prospects are unlikely to change any time soon after finding himself behind fans’ favourites Bukayo Saka and Emile Smith Rowe in the Emirates pecking order.
And though he still has more than two years to run on his £140,000-a-week contract, Arsenal could soon consider selling him before his value drops much further.
POCH COULD BE BACK
Mauricio Pochettino could return to the Premier League to manage Man Utd long-term.
Incoming Man Utd interim Ralf Rangnick could reportedly install a ‘countdown clock’ at Carrington to force players practice their ‘Gegenpressing’, writes ANTHONY CHAPMAN.
The Telegraph claims the German tactician will ‘revolutionise’ United’s training methods when his arrival is likely confirmed this weekend.
And it’s believed one way of getting players to understand his intense philosophy is to install a special countdown clock at United’s training ground.
Rangnick is credited as the godfather of the ‘Gegenpress’, a tactic used by many including Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp.
It sees players counter-press high up the pitch in an effort to win the ball back.
And Rangnick will expect his newly-inherited United squad to get into a habit of reclaiming the ball EIGHT seconds after losing it.
Chelsea are reportedly ready to loan out flop goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga, writes ANTHONY CHAPMAN.
And former Blues boss Maurizio Sarri – now in charge of Lazio – is keen, despite their infamous Carabao Cup final fight.
Goal claims Kepa is desperate for minutes after finding himself playing second fiddle to Edouard Mendy.
However, the Senegal star has solidified his spot as arguably the best goalkeeper in Europe.
And there is no chance of Thomas Tuchel dropping him just to keep Kepa happy.
As a result, the Spaniard is apparently keen on a January loan move.
Even though they will lose Mendy to the African Cup of Nations, Chelsea are reportedly prepared to sanction Kepa’s exit.
One club thought to be keen are Lazio, now managed by ex-Blues gaffer Sarri.
Chelsea are preparing to make a monster offer for Juventus winger Federico Chiesa, reports say.
According to Calciomercato, Chelsea are preparing to offer the Old Lady £84million.
Bayern Munich also hold an interest in the explosive winger.
The potential move for Chiesa comes as no surprise, with Christian Pulisic, Hakim Ziyech and Kai Havertz not performing consistently.
Italy and Portugal suffered a nightmare World Cup 2020 Play-Off draw and now look set to face each other in a shoot-out for Qatar, writes GARY STONEHOUSE.
The Euro 2020 winners and Cristiano Ronaldo’s nation both finished second in their qualifying groups, behind Switzerland and Serbia respectively.
Italy now face a home clash with North Macedonia in the Play-Off first round in March.
Turkey will visit Portugal, before the winners of both of those one-legged ties battle it out for a spot at next year’s World Cup.
Even if one of the two powerhouses falls at the first hurdle, the draw still means that at least one of the last two European Championship winners will not be at the World Cup.
Man Utd have the biggest net spend since 2018.
Will Ralf Rangnick be given funds in January to strengthen the squad?
Aaron Ramsdale wants to face a red-hot Cristiano Ronaldo when Arsenal travel to Manchester United next week, writes JOSHUA JONES.
The Gunners head to Old Trafford on Thursday in what looks set to be Ralf Rangnick’s first game as interim boss.
Ronaldo, 36, has scored just one Premier League goal in his last SEVEN appearances, dating back to September.
But with his heroics for United in the Champions League, he is now just one strike shy of 800 career goals.
Even so, Ramsdale insists he would prefer a ‘full-on battle’ with the Portuguese superstar than a quiet night between the sticks.
The Arsenal goalkeeper said: “I’d never thought I’d play against Ronaldo, but I really hope he’s on it against us because it gives me a chance to test myself.
“As much as you want to go somewhere like Old Trafford, there’s no better feeling than getting on top of someone and saying I’ve had a full-on battle with Ronaldo.”
RON THE WAY
Barcelona are reportedly fearing that Manchester United or Liverpool could snatch highly-rated prospect Ronald Araujo, writes GARY STONEHOUSE.
The 22-year-old star arrived at the Nou Camp from Uruguayan side River Boston in 2018.
The defender has since broken into the first-team squad and the Uruguay national side.
He is out of contract in 2023 but Barcelona want to reward his progress with a new five-year deal.
However, ESPN claims that interest from the Premier League big boys and the centre-back’s wage demands could ‘complicate’ negotiations.
They claim that ‘sources said that during preliminary discussions with the player, there is a concern at Barcelona that they may not be able to meet the terms that he is requesting’ to stay.
Both Manchester United and Liverpool have been monitoring the starlet’s development closely over recent years.
Frank Lampard said back in 2020: “I’m gonna go Messi on this, on pure, natural talent. But what Ronaldo has done has been absolutely incredible.”
However, the ex-England international has now revealed a U-turn in his thinking after watching a recent episode of Sky Sports’ Monday Night Football.
And he explained why while speaking to Gary Neville on The Overlap.
When asked the question again by the Manchester United legend, Lampard responded: “You know what, I’ve always been a Messi man… and then I watched your debate with Jamie Carragher recently.
“I actually think for Ronaldo’s output and actual numbers, and goals in big finals and semi-finals like we’ve seen, I think I maybe give him the edge.
“That’s going to start a load of hate, now!”
Jorginho could face Portuguese powerhouse Joao Palhinha in their World Cup play-off decider.
Despite Palhinha being the more defensive out of the two, he managed to chip in with two goals during qualifying.
RON LAST TIME
Man Utd’s Cristiano Ronaldo faces an almighty fight to play at the 2022 Qatar World Cup.
Portugal HAVE to beat Turkey to then face either ITALY or North Macedonia in the play-off final.
Ronaldo’s Euro 2016 winners will play at home should they make the final, though.
But facing Italy for a spot at next year’s tournament isn’t ideal.
WORLD CUP PLAY-OFF PATHWAYS CONFIRMED
Three very, very tough paths to the Qatar World Cup.
- Scotland vs Ukraine
- Wales vs Austria
- Russia vs Poland
- Sweden vs Czech Republic
- Italy vs North Macedonia
- Portugal vs Turkey
Who’ll play at home in the three play-off finals?
- Wales or Austria vs Scotland or Ukraine
- Russia or Poland vs Sweden or Czech Republic
- Portugal or Turkey vs Italy or North Macedonia
Harry Kane has branded Tottenham’s Euro embarrassment “unacceptable” – and accused his team-mates of being “immature”.
The Spurs striker was left reeling after Thursday’s shock 2-1 defeat at Slovenian minnows NS Mura – the lowest ranked team in the Europa Conference League.
The England captain, who also wore the armband for his club on their worst night in Euro competition, said: “It was unacceptable really.
“We didn’t start well, went behind and then went down to 10 men and made it difficult for ourselves.
“In the second half we showed some fight and spirit and got ourselves back into the game and if anyone looked like scoring it was going to be us.
“But an immature mistake at the end to concede a goal when we had all the play.
“It is unacceptable. A tough match for us, we just have to learn from it.”
Chelsea legend Petr Cech has warned the Blues that they have to be wary of Manchester United’s new management setup on the weekend.
United look set to appoint Ralf Ragnick as new boss and Cech is aware of the danger someone with fresh ideas can pose to the West London outfit.
Cech said to Chelsea’s website: “We have a saying in Czech: ‘the new broom sweeps better’. It’s always tricky when you play teams with a new manager.
“That’s what our next opponents Manchester United will be hoping for on Sunday: when you get a change of manager, you always have a reaction.
“Suddenly, everybody starts from the same spot again. The new manager brings new ideas, about the team, about the tactics, about the strategy, but only when he gets involved in training does he start choosing his team.”
CR-IS THE BEST
Luis Figo cannot understand the criticism directed at Cristiano Ronaldo for Manchester United’s poor form this season.
The Portugal legend has slammed any suggestions that Ronaldo, 36, is to blame for Man Utd’s downfall.
Figo spoke to Portuguese news outlet A Bola: ‘It does not make sense. He is the best.
“Football lives on results and the team is not achieving the expected results.
“But he’s being one of the best in the team in terms of performance, so I don’t understand these criticisms.”
Real Madrid fans have launched an astonishing broadside at superstar Gareth Bale and his agent.
The Madrid faithful are up in arms over comments made by his representative Jonathan Barnett.
And they reiterated a long-standing complaint that Bale appears more interested in playing for Wales than he does for the LaLiga leaders.
His case was not helped when he returned home from international duty last week with yet another injury.
A small group of fans then accosted the 32-year-old as he was leaving Real’s training ground – throwing a marker pen at his car amid cries of ‘f*** you’.
That led his agent to brand the supporters ‘disgusting’ and not worth his client’s time.
Those words have sparked fury amid the wider fanbase, with an official supporters’ group releasing a brutal statement against the pair.
In it, they claimed Barnett is a ‘fierce critic’ of the club and ignorant of its history – particularly after he locked horns with ex-boss Zinedine Zidane.
Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola is impressed with what he’s seen from Raheem Sterling recently.
Sterling’s had a tough time at the Etihad this season, but he got back on the scoresheet in City’s 2-1 win over Barcelona in the Champions League this week.
And Pep’s over the moon with the England winger’s contribution.
He said: “I am so glad for him, it helps us that’s for sure,” he said at his pre-match press conference ahead of City’s game against West Ham.
“He was decisive. He was completely decisive in what we have done in the last three years.
“This is a step to get back to his best form.”
Chelsea star Ben Chilwell will be out for at least six weeks with a partial ACL injury.
But the England left-back could miss even more action if he requires surgery next year.
Chilwell had just emerged as a key figure for Chelsea, reinventing the attacking wing-back role alongside teammate Reece James with three goals and an assist in just six league outings.
But the ex-Leicester ace’s delight turned to misery in Tuesday’s 3-0 win over Juventus.
Chilwell went down in agony clutching his knee after a collision with an opponent.
And he needed support from two medics to limp off the Stamford Bridge turf.
Chelsea were left sweating on scans amid fears Chilwell had fully ruptured his anterior cruciate ligament, ruling him out for nine months.
However, Thomas Tuchel revealed on Friday the defender is hopefully set to miss just six weeks of action.
Leicester City will be celebrating Stonewall’s Rainbow Laces campaign at Sunday’s Premier League fixture against Watford at King Power Stadium.
The initiative – which is backed by each top-flight club – demonstrates ongoing commitment to supporting LGBTQ+ inclusion and making it clear that football is for everyone.
All Premier League fixtures between 27 November and 2 December will be dedicated to Rainbow Laces, with clubs showing support through matchday activities, with branding visible at every stadium, while rainbow-themed captain’s armbands, laces and pin badges are also available.
In addition to this, City’s players will warm-up in rainbow t-shirts, with rainbow clappers to be left on each seat ahead of the game on Filbert Way for fans to show further support for the campaign.
Aston Villa boss Steven Gerrard has revealed he is trying to ‘cut as many corners’ as possible in order to swiftly implement his philosophy at the club.
One of those corners is setting up a ‘secret’ Instagram account just for Aston Villa players that allows them to watch training videos and match analysis, as well as read motivational quotes.
The page is called ‘Bodymoor1,’ according to the Telegraph, and is followed by the majority of Villa’s first team-set up.
It currently has 35 followers that include the likes of Gerrard himself and forward Ollie Watkins, and is named after Aston Villa’s training ground.
Speaking on the secret page in his pre-Crystal Palace press conference, Liverpool legend Gerrard said: “Instagram is another way, alongside your likes of the WhatsApps to put in information and reminders to players.
“We’ve come in at a time where we haven’t had the luxury of a pre-season where you have five-six weeks to build your identity and the way you want it to look.
“So we’re trying to cut as many corners as we can to get the identity and the standards across to the players that we expect as a group of staff.”
JOEY IN THE DOCK
Joey Barton is set to go on trial accused of assaulting another football manager after a heated League One game.
The Bristol Rovers manager, 39, denies attacking then-Barnsley boss Daniel Stendel back in April 2019.
Prosecutors claim Barton – who was then managing Fleetwood – hit out in the tunnel after a Barnsley win.
Stendel was left with facial injuries after the alleged bust-up.
Ex-Premier League star Barton, of Widnes in Cheshire, was said to be furious after seeing one of his players sent off in a 4-2 defeat.
A steward and a cop stopped his BMW from leaving the ground.
He was later arrested after Barnsley complained to South Yorkshire Police about the alleged incident.
A trial will begin at Sheffield Crown Court on Monday after jurors were selected today.
Ex-Liverpool midfielder Georginio Wijnaldum could be set to return to the Premier League just six months after signing for PSG, according to reports.
The Dutch ace has only started three Ligue 1 matches for PSG.
And according to TeamTalk, Wijnaldum could be tempted into a move back to the Prem.
His representatives have allegedly already started to search for potential suitors with Newcastle said to be interested in the ex-Kop favourite.
But the Toon may face and uphill battle as PSG are said to be reluctant to sell Wijnaldum.
‘NOT GOOD NEWS’
Jurgen Klopp has praised Manchester United’s appointment of Ralf Rangnick by hailing him as an “organised and experienced coach”.
Klopp, whose managerial style was inspired by Rangnick, insists it is “not good news” for other Premier League clubs that the German has arrived in England.
When asked about Rangnick’s arrival, he said: “Unfortunately a good coach is coming to England, to Manchester United!
“He’s a really experienced manager, built two clubs from nowhere.
“Man United will be organised on the pitch. That’s obviously not good news for other teams.”