Erling Haaland could be as good as Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, says Lars Lagerback

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Norway coach Lars Lagerback believes Erling Haaland has the potential to be as good as Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo
Norway coach Lars Lagerback believes Erling Haaland has the potential to be as good as Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo

Norway coach Lars Lagerback believes Erling Haaland has the potential to be as good as Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.

The 20-year-old Borussia Dortmund star scored his first international goal for Norway in a 2-1 home defeat to Austria on Friday.

And although it was the side’s first defeat in 18 months, Lagerback is in no doubt Haaland’s goal will be the first of many for a player who can go to the very top.

“I’ve maybe been around too long but I have never seen a guy since maybe (Lionel) Messi or (Cristiano) Ronaldo that developed at such a young age,” Lagerback said.

“That’s very unique and he has all the possibilities to become a really world class player – if you look at the offensive third of the pitch and in the box then he’s already absolutely top class.

“He perhaps has a little bit more to do in the link play but being so young, he’s already at a really high level.

“With the qualities he already has and his focused personality – if he can stay free from injury then he can be a really top class player.”

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Erling Haaland scored his first international goal for Norway but it wasn’t enough as Austria claimed the three points in the UEFA Nations League
Erling Haaland scored his first international goal for Norway but it wasn’t enough as Austria claimed the three points in the UEFA Nations League

For Northern Ireland, the night should be marked by captain Steven Davis moving level with Pat Jennings’ caps record of 119 but, when asked about Ian Baraclough’s squad, Lagerback singled out Jonny Evans, who is due to return after missing Friday’s 1-1 draw in Romania for personal reasons.

“Of course there are some great players and some experienced guys, but now I have heard that Evans is probably back,” he said.

“He’s a leader. I’ve had a lot of respect for him both with Manchester United and now Leicester.

“I think he’s a very important player for them to get back in the team so if I would mention one player I would mention him.”

Lagerback was already without Real Madrid midfielder Martin Odegaard, who missed the Austria defeat with a knee injury, and could be further depleted in the middle of the park with Sheffield United’s Sander Berge a doubt with a knee injury.

If you looked through any online article or listened back to any TV report or radio report from earlier this week, you wouldn’t have found anyone telling you Lionel Messi was going to stay at Barcelona.

But here we are. After he stunned the world of football and informed Barcelona he wanted to activate the release clause in his contract, Messi decided he will remain at the club he has called home for almost 20 years…

How to watch Nations League on Sky Sports

N Ireland vs Norway

September 7, 2020, 7:00pm

If you’re out and about, you can follow all of those Home Nations games on the Sky Sports website and app, where we’ll have minute-by-minute updates and show you the goals as they go in.

We’ll also have highlights of every game involving the Home Nations and the best of the other Nations League fixtures available too.

This content was originally published here.

Europe beware: Bayern’s brilliant young squad can create a Champions League dynasty | Goal.com

It is official: Bayern Munich are the best team in Europe.

The Bavarians won their sixth European Cup thanks to a 1-0 win over Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League final in Lisbon, ending a barren run of seven years without their name on the most-coveted club trophy.

Kingsley Coman was preferred to Ivan Perisic in Hansi Flick’s starting XI and the youthful option made the difference as the France winger scored the only goal of the game, heading home against his former club .

At 24, Coman is a relative veteran compared to the player behind him on the left flank for Bayern, with Alphonso Davies becoming a European champion at the age of just 19.

But that just hammers home the point that this is a very different Bayern team to the one who last won the Champions League in 2013.

Few faces remain from that victory over Borussia Dortmund at Wembley Stadium, though the older members of the squad have shown no signs of slowing down, even in the mini-tournament format of this season’s knockout stages in Portugal.

Robert Lewandowski was on the losing side in that 2013 final. but finally got his hands on the trophy with Bayern on the weekend he turned 32 having ended the season as the top scorer in every tournament he played in – including an astonishing 15 goals in 11 games in Europe.

Thomas Muller, meanwhile, broke the Bundesliga assists record in 2019-20, and despite having played over 500 games for the Bavarians is still just 30.

Manuel Neuer is the oldest member of the squad, but against PSG he brought back memories of his prime performances for Bayern in 2013 and Germany in 2014, showing exactly why national team boss Joachim Low still prefers him to younger upstart Marc-Andre ter Stegen.

The only other starter in Lisbon on the wrong side of 30 was Jerome Boateng, who went off injured to be replaced by 24-year-old defensive colossus Niklas Sule, In truth, Sule would likely have been first-choice beside David Alaba at centre-back had injury not blighted his season.

Alaba has just one year remaining on his contract in Munich, but the club are optimistic he will sign a new deal having held talks with his agent in the past week. The same cannot be said, however, of midfielder Thiago Alcantara, w ho turned down a contract offer from the new European champions and looks set to leave the club as Liverpool continue to be linked with his signature.

The Spain midfielder was his usual brilliant best against PSG, and it potentially being his final appearance for the club is the only downside to the evening. Otherwise, everything looks pretty rosey for the Bavarians.

Thiago’s usual partner in central midfield under Flick this season has been Joshua Kimmich, but with Benjamin Pavard injured he was pushed back to his former role at right-back, and it was from there he provided the assist for Coman’s goal

At just 25, Kimmich is emblematic of this new-look Bayern side.

The heir to Philipp Lahm, he is seen as a future captain of the club and even Jose Mourinho believes he has the ability to play at the highest level in every position on the pitch.

“I see him as a top right-back, left-back, centre-back, No.6, No.8, No.10… he has the qualities to be anything,” Mourinho told DAZN .

“I think he looks to me, very intelligent related to football, very intelligent, understands the moments of the games and understands the difference between positions and understands what he has to do here and what he has to do there. I think he’s phenomenal, an absolutely phenomenal player.

“For Bayern to win the Champions League is much more important than for somebody to win an individual award, but I see this kid with Lewandowski, Neuer, I see this kid with these guys in an elite group capable of winning individual awards.”

Bayern Munich’s Champions League success was not down to the brilliance of one particular player or a moment of magic from an individual world-class talent. Instead, it was built on teamwork and the belief inspired by Flick.

This was exemplified in their dismantling of Barcelona, where six players got on the scoresheet and each assist came from a different player in their memorable 8-2 victory in the quarter-finals.

Serge Gnabry, 25, was the hero against Lyon in the semi-finals,  and Bayern’s bosses have found him the perfect partner for next season in 24-year-old Leroy Sane.

They have also strengthened at the back by signing Alexander Nubel from Schalke to be Neuer’s successor in goal and convincing France wonderkid Tanguy Kouassi to leave PSG to play either in central defence or defensive midfield, with Javi Martinez set to leave the club.

Michael Cuisance, 21, was signed last summer from Borussia Monchengladbach and showed signs towards the end of the season that he can make an impact in midfield, while 26-year-old Corentin Tolisso is expected to stay in Munich should Thiago leave.

Similarly, 21-year-old Adrian Fein will be given a chance to fight for a place in the middle of the park after impressing on loan at Hamburg, giving Flick plenty of options and depth at almost every position.

The only thing outstanding from Flick’s desire for two players in every position is a backup for Pavard at right-back, but with the season finished and Europe conquered, the treble winners can now focus their attention on bringing in someone suitable.

Most of Bayern Munich’s players are entering their prime, meaning that this team could get even better. They won every single game in the Champions League this season, becoming the undisputed best team in Europe.

In the 1970s, they won the European Cup three years in a row. With this team and this head coach, could they do it again?

Do not rule it out.

This content was originally published here.

‘Messi is very welcome at PSG!’ – Tuchel would love unlikely signing of ‘Mr. Barcelona’ | Goal.com

Paris Saint-Germain manager Thomas Tuchel has declared Lionel Messi is “very welcome” to join the club should the Barcelona star decide to pursue a move away from Camp Nou. 

The Argentine legend has once again been linked with a possible Barca exit after seeing his side end the season without a trophy and lose 8-2 to Bayern Munich in the Champions League quarter-finals. 

Tuchel himself failed to guide his side past Bayern on Sunday as the Bundesliga giants claimed their sixth Champions League title with a 1-0 win over PSG

The Ligue 1 champions are one of few clubs in the world that could potentially afford a move for Messi and Tuchel conceded he certainly wouldn’t say no to having the 33-year-old to join his side. 

“He [Messi] is very welcome! We lost lots of players for this campaign only and we lose now Thiago Silva and Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting. We need to use the transfer window now to make the squad bigger,” Tuchel told BT Sport

“The campaign will be very demanding without any breaks. We need to build a strong, strong squad.

“We decided not to talk about transfers in this period here. We will sit together in the next days. We have many things to do to keep the level of the squad.

“What coach says no to Messi? I think Messi finishes his career in Barcelona. He is Mr. Barcelona.”

Despite a few chances to strike against Bayern, PSG were unable to triumph in their first Champions League final and Tuchel called on his men to rebound quickly next season. 

“It is necessary if we want to keep the same level, we have to step up again. You have to go on. This level is necessary,” Tuchel said.

“We showed again we can compete with the best teams in Europe with this mentality and attitude, in combination with our talent.

“We are a strong, strong side. We can be proud of that. We cannot worry too much because it is okay and we will go on.”

While once again falling short on Europe’s biggest stage, PSG ended their season with a domestic treble and lost just three games in a shortened Ligue 1 campaign. 

This content was originally published here.

Neymar left in tears after PSG suffer Champions League final heartbreak | Goal.com

Paris Saint-Germain star Neymar was left in tears after his side suffered a 1-0 Champions League final loss to Bayern Munich in Lisbon.

The Ligue 1 champions succumbed to their German opponents due to a Kingsley Coman header shortly before the hour mark, and the 28-year-old was unable to inspire a comeback as Bayern kept the French outfit at arm’s length.

Neymar, who was consoled in the dugout by sporting director Leonardo at full-time, had one of the outstanding opportunities in the opening period of the game but was denied by an inspired Manuel Neuer, who also stopped a tame effort from Kylian Mbappe before the break.

It leaves the Brazil international star sitting on a single Champions League success, that claimed when he was a member of the Barcelona squad that defeated Juventus 3-1 in 2015. On that occasion, he rounded the scoring off.

He left the Catalans in 2017 to make a world-record move to PSG and has been seeking to justify that controversial decision since then by writing himself into the history of the Parc des Princes side by winning European football’s biggest prize as well as claiming individual honours for himself.

Neymar can’t hide his disappointment 😢#UCLfinal | #UCL | #PSGFCB pic.twitter.com/G3EPmYJkgG

— Goal (@goal)

A divisive character throughout his career, he has been winning plaudits in recent months for a more mature and focused approach to the game, which critics believe is bringing the best out of his game for the team.

Previous tilts at the European Cup have ended in disappointment for the former Santos youth, who suffered foot injuries, which prevented him from featuring in vital matches against Real Madrid and Manchester United.

This was Les Parisiens’ best ever run in the competition, overcoming Borussia Dortmund, Atalanta and RB Leipzig in the knockout stages before failing at the final hurdle.

It marks the end of a long season for Neymar, who played 26 times over the course of an injury-hit campaign and scored 19 goals while creating 12 more.

Thoughts will have to quickly turn back towards their Ligue 1 title defence, with the French top flight having started over the weekend.

PSG’s first domestic match of the 2020-21 season will come next Saturday, when they travel to newly-promoted Lens, while a derby with Marseille follows after the September international break.

This content was originally published here.

‘Aubameyang staying is very important to me’ – Willian demands Arsenal keep hold of star striker | Goal.com

Willian has stressed that Arsenal have to keep hold of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, and that the striker’s continued presence at Emirates Stadium is “very important” to him.

Aubameyang has enhanced his reputation as one of Europe’s most prolific frontmen since swapping Borussia Dortmund for Arsenal in January 2018.

The Gabon international has scored an impressive 70 goals in 109 appearances for the Gunners, 29 of which were recorded during the 2019-20 campaign.

His latest double helped Mikel Arteta’s men beat Chelsea 2-1 in the FA Cup final, but he refused to be drawn on speculation over his future after the final whistle at Wembley.

Aubameyang only has one year left to run on his current contract, and has been linked with a potential move to either Barcelona or Manchester United in recent months.

Goal has reported that Arsenal have reached an agreement with the centre-forward over an extension, but a final announcement over his future is unlikely to be forthcoming until the club’s pre-season camp gets underway on August 22.

Willian, who moved to the Emirates on a free transfer after leaving Chelsea earlier this month, has talked up how integral Aubameyang is to the Gunners’ hopes of competing for more major honours while expressing his hope that his new team-mate remains in north London beyond 2021.

The Brazilian midfielder told The Sun: “I joined Arsenal because we can challenge for titles but Pierre will be a big part of the plan. He has to stay — it is very important to me.

“This is a guy who gets 25-30 goals a season and we have to keep a player like that. He’s one of the best players in our team and somebody I want to be making chances for.”

Arteta expressed his belief that Aubameyang can become an Arsenal legend if he decides to commit to fresh terms with the club after the FA Cup final, telling reporters: “We always had incredible strikers at this football club and Auba deserves to be named and compared with the big names.

“By winning trophies he will be closer to that and the longer he stays there as well. Hopefully we can have him for more time.”

This content was originally published here.

Georgia State QB Mikele Colasurdo diagnosed with heart condition linked to COVID-19

Alex ScarboroughESPN Staff Writer
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  • Covers the SEC.
  • Joined ESPN in 2012.
  • Graduate of Auburn University.

Georgia State quarterback Mikele Colasurdo has been diagnosed with a heart condition as a result of contracting the coronavirus and won’t be able to play football this season, he announced Thursday.

The freshman and former three-star prospect from South Carolina arrived on campus in the spring.

In a post on Twitter, Colasurdo thanked coach Shawn Elliott and the training staff for “providing a safe environment for us to train and practice.”

“Ultimately it was the procedures and tests set forth by GSU that allowed the doctors to find this condition in my heart and help keep me safe,” Colasurdo wrote.

Georgia State said it could not comment on the health of individual student-athletes because of privacy laws, but the university did say that the school’s medical staff “regularly reviews the latest information and recommendations about SARS-CoV-2 infection in athletes, including information about cardiac concerns.”

“We believe these protocols are what will keep us safe this season,” the statement said.

Earlier this month, Debbie Rucker, the mother of Indiana offensive lineman Brady Feeney wrote a Facebook post about her son dealing with heart issues after testing positive for COVID-19.

Myocarditis, an inflammation of the heart muscle linked to the coronavirus, has been a concern of Power 5 conferences as they gauge the viability of playing a fall football season during the pandemic.

ESPN reported on Aug. 10 that myocarditis was found in at least five Big Ten athletes and in several other athletes in other conferences.

On Aug. 11, the Big Ten and Pac-12 announced that they would be postponing all fall sports with the intention of playing football in the spring.

The ACC, Big 12 and SEC have all announced that they plan to play football this fall, starting in September.

This content was originally published here.

Lionel Messi sensationally tells Barcelona he ‘doesn’t see future with club’ after crunch talks with new boss Koeman

LIONEL MESSI has reportedly told new boss Ronald Koeman that he does NOT see his future at Barcelona.

Catalan radio RAC1 claims Messi dropped the bombshell during crunch talks with Koeman just one day after the Dutchman’s arrival.

Manu Fernandez

Lionel Messi has told Ronald Koeman he does not see his future at Barcelona[/caption]

Messi apparently ended his summer holiday early for the heart-to-heart on Thursday.

And the legendary forward added that he sees himself more “out of the club than in it.”

Messi has long been thought to be unhappy at Barcelona following turmoil on and off the pitch.

Their meek surrender of LaLiga to Real Madrid, coupled with a humiliating Champions League exit against Bayern Munich, saw both boss Quique Setien and director of football Eric Abidal axed.

Messi has just one year left on his Catalan contract.

And even though Barca president Josep Bartomeu said on Tuesday that he will be staying put, Messi is thought to be giving serious consideration to leaving.

Manchester City are reportedly interested as Pep Guardiola ponders a stunning Premier League reunion.

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But Europa League finalists Inter Milan are the favourites to sign Messi should he leave.

It’s no secret that Barcelona are keen on Lautaro Martinez and could be tempted to do a deal following Messi’s reported revelation.

Barca fans now face an anxious wait to see if their club’s recent internal and external woes really will result in the loss of arguably world football’s best-ever player.

This content was originally published here.

Haters gonna hate – but newly-mature Neymar deserves more respect | Goal.com

Virtually all of the 90 minutes had elapsed when  Paris Saint-Germain began their remarkable turnaround against Atalanta in the Champions League quarter-final on Wednesday.

The fixture had been popularly portrayed in the global media as a clash between the fairy-tale story of the Italian side from the town of Bergamo, ravaged by the coronavirus crisis earlier this season, and the evil of Qatari millions bankrolling the three-time Ligue 1 champions.

Neymar – the world’s most expensive footballer - was cast as the pantomime villain.

With eye-watering wages and a lavish rock star lifestyle to go along with it, much of the planet was ready to celebrate Atalanta’s 1-0 success at the expense of the Brazil international, whose wild slashes when well placed in front of goal served only to delight his detractors and provide his critics the type of joy his many fans experience with every nutmeg or audacious piece of skill. 

If the 28-year-old’s finishing was more pub league than Champions League, his performance was otherwise worthy of the Ballon d’Or contender he has long considered himself to be. There was his usual circus of flicks, tricks and nutmegs, but for nearly an hour and a half his usual efficiency had frustratingly evaded him.

“I never thought of going home. From the warm-up to the end, we believed in it. We never gave up. No-one will take this desire to go to the final away from me,” he said after instigating the thrilling late comeback, the type of which supporters have grown spoiled by in the Champions League over the last 18 months.

The clock was ticking towards full-time when his pass across the six-yard box was turned in by Marquinhos, albeit via the unfortunate shin of a blue-and-black clad defender. 

Just 149 seconds later, PSG were celebrating again after Neymar combined with Kylian Mbappe, who set up unlikely hero Eric-Maxim Choupo-Moting for the winning goal.

Had it been any other player, he would have been widely hailed for the mental fortitude and determination he showed throughout, particularly after handing his man-of-the-match award to the unheralded former Stoke City striker as the dust settled.

Neymar, though, does not inspire such love.

There is much about the South American to admire, but equally there are too many aspects to his game unpalatable to many fans.

His arrogance may be off-putting to many, but perhaps his biggest crime is to give the impression that he fails to maximise his talent in the manner of the very best. He is pictured at parties too often, but that have might been forgiven had he not left Barcelona for upstart PSG, where he is perceived to pick up easy money. 

While it would be too much to say that he has been on a charm offensive in recent months, there is little doubt that he is now a more circumspect character than he was when he arrived in Paris amid a tidal wave of hype following his €222 million (£200m/$263m) move in 2017.

The Champions League he hoped to deliver for the Parisians, and the subsequent Ballon d’Or he yearned for himself have not arrived, with injury denying him the opportunity to feature when his side most needed him in each of the last two years.

Now, though, he is making up for lost time.

If Covid-19 has curtailed his night-time activities – former right-back Thomas Meunier has spoken of the “outrageous” party culture at PSG – he put his time away from the game to good use, working hard in the gym and returning to the competitive environment in a fashion that suggests he has barely been away.

The flair remains, and so too does the burning desire to win, yet the attitude seems to have changed for the better.

The histrionics that used to arrive as standard each time he was fouled, winning him only a mob of angry detractors, have been dramatically reduced, while his willingness to play as a functioning member of the team as opposed to an attention-driven individual has been clear.

Perhaps he now appreciates that he still has much to prove. As a player approaching his peak, his trophy haul compared to the legendary figures of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo – a pair that Neymar aspires to the standards of – is poor. 

The 2015 Champions League is the only one he has to his name, and while he boasts and admirable collection of 12 league and cup trophies since moving to Europe from Santos, that is simply not sufficient to thrust him into the echelons of the all-time greats.

The Ballon d’Or he once seemed destined for appears as distant as ever, especially now it has been cancelled for 2020.

But if the ultimate glory has eluded him in France’s capital, his record remains a formidable one. In 83 appearances, he has scored 70 goals and created 40 more – an amazing record by anyone’s standards.

Of course, there will be those who decry his record as having ‘only’ been achieved in France, but in recent days both Juventus and Manchester City have found to their cost the calibre of Ligue 1 as they were sent spinning out of the Champions League by Lyon, a side that finished seventh in the division last term.

Indeed, while Neymar has scored on average every 97 minutes he has played in France’s top-flight, he has netted every 112 minutes in continental competition – hardly a startling difference.

Perhaps the greatest difference, though, in Neymar’s approach has been the way he has become a leader behind the scenes.

In the dressing room he, along with Keylor Navas and Marquinhos, is one the men most responsible for offering young players advice and encouragement. That is a side of the increasingly mature forward that his critics can easily ignore.

“We are a great group, we are a family, so we know that with this state of mind, it is impossible to eliminate us,” he declared after the Atalanta victory.

RB Leipzig will be the latest side to have a pop on Tuesday, and it promises to be another challenge that Neymar will rise to. After all, haters gonna hate. 

This content was originally published here.

Man Utd hit 31-year low after Europa League semi-final defeat to Sevilla | Goal.com

Manchester United are now enduring their longest run without a trophy in 31 years after defeat to Sevilla in the Europa League ensured they would end the 2019-20 campaign empty handed.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side made the perfect start in Cologne when Bruno Fernandes put them ahead from the penalty spot after nine minutes, United’s 22nd spot kick in all competitions this season.

However, Sevilla were level before half-time when Sergio Reguilon’s cross from the left was converted by former Liverpool forward Suso.

United had a host of chances after the break but found Sevilla goalkeeper Bono in superb form.

They were made to pay for their profligacy in front of goal when Sevilla substitute Luuk de Jong scored from close range with 12 minutes left to send the Spanish side through and ensure United reached a series of grim milestones.

They have now been eliminated from European competition by Spanish opposition for the third consecutive campaign, also losing to Sevilla in the Champions League last 16 in 2017-18 and Barcelona in the 2018-19 Champions League quarter-finals.

It is the third semi-final defeat for United this season, having lost to Manchester City in the last four of the Carabao Cup in January and to Chelsea in last month’s FA Cup semi-final at Wembley. United are now the first team to ever lose both domestic cup semi-finals and a European semi-final in the same season.

Defeat against Sevilla also means the Red Devils finish without a major trophy for a third season in a row – their longest run since four successive seasons without a major trophy between 1985 and 1989.

When assessing this latest defeat, Solskjaer will likely rue a lack of cutting edge in front of goal.

His side managed 46 shots across the Sevilla game and their semi-final win against FC Copenhagen, with 21 of those hitting the target, but they only managed to score two penalties.

Victory for Sevilla meanwhile continued their remarkable run in this competition. The Spanish side have now reached their sixth UEFA Cup/Europa League final, at least two more times than any other side in the history of the competition.

They have won the trophy on every occasion they reached the final, including three times in the last six years.

This content was originally published here.

Kevin De Bruyne wins Premier League Player of the Season | Football News | Sky Sports

Kevin De Bruyne is the 2019/20 Premier League Player of the Season

Manchester City midfielder Kevin De Bruyne has been named Premier League Player of the Season for the 2019/20 campaign.

The Belgian playmaker beat Liverpool trio Jordan Henderson, Sadio Mane and Trent Alexander-Arnold, Southampton striker Danny Ings, Burnley goalkeeper Nick Pope and Leicester’s Golden Boot winner Jamie Vardy to the award.

De Bruyne was the only Manchester City player to be nominated for the prize after they relinquished their Premier League title to Liverpool following two seasons as champions.

Premier League 2019/20 Player of the Season nominees

Trent Alexander-Arnold Liverpool
Kevin De Bruyne Manchester City
Jordan Henderson Liverpool
Danny Ings Southampton
Sadio Mane Liverpool
Nick Pope Burnley
Jamie Vardy Leicester

But even if City’s domestic campaign fell short of their previous lofty standards, De Bruyne enjoyed his most productive season since arriving at the Etihad in 2015.

As well as recording 20 assists – equalling the league record set by Thierry Henry in 2003 – he also scored 13 times to help City finish as the division’s highest scorers for the third successive season.

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Kevin De Bruyne is the “ideal” central midfielder, according to former Manchester City defender Richard Dunne
 
Kevin De Bruyne is the “ideal” central midfielder, according to former Manchester City defender Richard Dunne
 
FREE TO WATCH: Highlights from Manchester City’s win against Liverpool in the Premier League

Despite Liverpool winning last season’s Premier League title, De Bruyne still gave everyone a reminder of why he was the top flight’s outstanding player in 2019/20 with an eye-catching display against the Reds at the Etihad back in July, wrote Sky Sports’ Adam Bate.

The summer transfer window will run for 10 weeks from July 27 and close at 11pm on October 5.

A domestic-only window for trades between the Premier League and EFL then runs from October 5 and closes on Friday October 16 at 5pm. Follow all the news and analysis on Sky Sports News and across Sky Sports‘ digital platforms, including with our dedicated Transfer Centre blog.

This content was originally published here.

Source — George Kittle, 49ers reach 5-year, $75 million extension

Nick WagonerESPN Staff Writer
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  • Covered Rams for nine years for stlouisrams.com
  • Previously covered University of Missouri football
  • Member of Pro Football Writers of America

SANTA CLARA, Calif. — The San Francisco 49ers are making George Kittle the highest-paid tight end in NFL history. By a lot.

The Niners and Kittle agreed to a five-year, $75 million contract on Thursday, league sources confirmed to ESPN.

The deal was first reported by Barstool Sports, which reports Kittle received $40 million guaranteed for injury and $30 million guaranteed at signing.

The deal, which had been expected for most of the offseason, easily surpasses the four-year, $42 million contract Austin Hooper signed with the Cleveland Browns in March and resets the market for top tight ends.

The $40 million guaranteed is more than twice that of any other NFL tight end, and the $30 million guaranteed at signing, which includes an $18 million signing bonus, also is a record amount — $12 million more than Hooper received.

The Niners and Kittle went through a lengthy contract negotiation, which began after the Super Bowl and was complicated by the coronavirus pandemic. The potential for a revenue shortfall from playing games with no fans in the stands — and an ensuing salary-cap drop — created uncertainty about how to structure a potential deal.

Kittle reported to training camp and participated in all team activities without so much as a threat of a holdout. Because the sides remained amicable throughout the process, general manager John Lynch and coach Kyle Shanahan remained optimistic that a deal would get done as the Niners opened camp.

“I think we don’t have to say how important George is to us, and not only as being the best tight end to me in the league, but also the type of person he is,” Shanahan said on Aug. 3. “So we’re doing everything we can to get that done. … I feel really good about this going forward, and I feel very optimistic about it. Hopefully, something will happen sooner than later. I’m not too concerned about it.”

This summer, NFL players ranked Kittle as the seventh-best player in the league, regardless of position. He has racked up 2,945 receiving yards — the most by any tight end in NFL history after three seasons, surpassing Mike Ditka and Rob Gronkowski. In 2018, Kittle set the record for most receiving yards in a season by a tight end when he finished with 1,377.

Over the past two seasons, Kittle ranks sixth in the NFL among all pass-catchers with 2,430 receiving yards, 11th with 173 receptions and second with 1,464 yards after the catch.

Beyond his receiving prowess, Kittle is widely regarded as one of the best blocking tight ends in the league. In two games without him in 2019, the 49ers averaged 2.63 yards per carry and 60.5 rushing yards with no touchdowns on the ground. In the 14 games he played, the Niners averaged 4.83 yards per carry and 156 rushing yards per game with 23 rushing touchdowns.

All of that earned Kittle a Pro Bowl nod in each of the past two seasons, a second-team All-Pro spot in 2018 and a first-team All-Pro spot in 2019.

This content was originally published here.

Barcelona are the best team in the world and must show it against Bayern – Vidal | Goal.com

Arturo Vidal has declared Barcelona are the best team in the world and that they are determined to show it against Bayern Munich in their Champions League quarter-final on Friday. 

The Catalan side finished second in La Liga this season behind fierce rivals Real Madrid after a stuttering end to their domestic campaign. 

Quique Setien’s side did manage to beat Napoli in their Champions League last-16 tie however to set up a mouth-watering clash with Bayern. 

The Bundesliga champions head into the match as favourites after smashing Chelsea, but Vidal was quick to point out that he believes Barca are the best team in the world and can cause Hansi Flick’s side problems. 

“I heard something but did not pay much attention, I know the Bayern players and what is being said outside is not what they think, tomorrow they are not playing against the Bundesliga teams but against Barcelona, ​​the best team in the world,” Vidal said. 

“I understand the fans’ doubt, in the league we did not reflect our level and that is why we lost, but we have Leo and other great players, that is why I say that we are the best team in the world and tomorrow we want to show it.

“I don’t know if I deserve to be a starter, I think we all want to play and it is the coach who must choose who starts.”

On Bayern, Vidal added: “They are champions in the Bundesliga and won the Cup but we are Barcelona and if we do what we know how to do, we will surely progress, we will try to leave everything on the field.”

The Chilean is also a fan of the Champions quarter-final being decided in one match rather than across two legs – a result of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

“I like it, in Latin America it is played like this and it is very entertaining,” he said.

“The teams go out to show more, when there are two games in the first they get far behind and the show is not so good, tomorrow it will be very nice.”

Vidal also recently weighed in on the debate over Lionel Messi and Robert Lewandowski with the in-form duo set to face off on Friday. 

This content was originally published here.

Aaron Ramsey: Juventus willing to sell former Arsenal midfielder | Football News | Sky Sports

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Sky Sports News’ Kaveh Solhekol explains Aaron Ramsey’s situation at Juventus

Aaron Ramsey could leave Juventus this summer, with the Serie A champions willing to listen to offers for the midfielder, according to Sky Italy.

The Wales international joined Juventus from Arsenal on a free transfer last summer following 11 years at the Emirates Stadium.

Selling Ramsey is a possibility, but not a priority for new Juventus head coach Andrea Pirlo, who was appointed as Maurizio Sarri’s replacement earlier this week.

Blaise Matuidi is set to join David Beckham’s MLS franchise Inter Miami, while Sami Khedira and Gonzalo Higuain are also likely to leave Juventus this summer.

Ramsey enjoyed a title-winning season alongside Cristiano Ronaldo and Paulo Dybala

Ramsey scored four goals in 35 appearances during an elongated 2019/20 campaign as Juventus claimed their ninth successive Serie A title and the 36th of their 122-year history.

The 29-year-old, who has been linked with a return to the Premier League, has three years remaining on his contract.

Analysis: Could Ramsey be set for PL return?

Sky Sports reporter Kaveh Solhekol:

“I think his time in Turin could be coming to an end but I don’t think it’s by any means certain that he’s going to leave Juventus. The situation is that Juve need to cut costs, they need to reduce their wage bill. The easiest way to do that would be to sell Cristiano Ronaldo – but it doesn’t look like that will happen.

“Blaise Matuidi is set to join MLS club Inter Miami while it looks like Sami Khedira is going to leave as well as Gonzalo Higuain. Aaron Ramsey is another player who could potentially leave. Sky Italy are telling us it’s a possibility but not a priority for Juve to sell him this summer.

“He’s a fantastic player, he’s won the title with Juventus, and if they wanted to sell him, I’m sure a lot of clubs would be interested to sign him this summer.”

Juve: Sarri’s failure, Pirlo’s project

Juventus chief Fabio Paratici said he was “destined” for the job.

But you would struggle to find a single person in football who was not shell-shocked by Pirlo’s appointment as the new Juventus head coach.

Hours after ending Sarri’s ill-fated stay at the Allianz Stadium, Juve entrusted the top job in Italian club football management to Pirlo – an icon as a player, but a rookie with a total lack of experience as a manager.

Read the full feature HERE.

Summer transfer window – key dates and times

The summer transfer window will run for 10 weeks from July 27 and close at 11pm on October 5.

A domestic-only window for trades between the Premier League and EFL then runs from October 5 and closes on Friday October 16 at 5pm. Follow all the news and analysis on Sky Sports News and across Sky Sports‘ digital platforms, including with our dedicated Transfer Centre blog.

This content was originally published here.

President Trump Says He Hopes The NFL Season Gets Cancelled Due To Coronavirus

President Donald Trump appeared on a FOX Sports Radio interview with Clay Travis Tuesday morning and talked about a slew of topics ranging from politics to sports, and the intersection of such.

After ripping the NBA and saying their ratings have plummeted due to the vast majority of players kneeling during the anthem in the wake of the racial oppression and police brutality conversation that has swept the United States in recent months, Trump praised the NHL for their players standing.

Trump also took time to once again rip the NFL, saying that the league may want to have a 2020 season despite the fallout of the Coronavirus outbreak, but if the players kneel, he hopes the league doesn’t open.

Trump did an interview with Clay Travis, the Fox Sports Radio host (who has *thoughts* about Covid-19, among many other things.) Asked what he hears about the NFL’s plans, Trump said “they want to open,” but “if they don’t stand for the national anthem, I hope they don’t open.”

— Daniel Dale (@ddale8) August 11, 2020

The news comes a day after Trump tweeted his support of having a college football season after conferences began cancelling their football for the year.

Differing from college football, numerous NFL players have been outspoken that both themselves, and their teammates, will kneel before games this year if a season is had due to the murder of George Floyd and the events that followed.

The entirety of Travis’ interview with the President interview can be heard below.

This content was originally published here.

BREAKING: Kenny Payne accepts job with New York Knicks

Kenny Payne is headed to the New York Knicks.

According to a report by ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, Payne has accepted a job with the Knicks to join Tom Thibodeau’s staff as an assistant.

The New York Knicks have hired Kentucky associate head coach Kenny Payne as an assistant coach, sources tell ESPN. Payne is the first formal addition to new coach Tom Thibodeau’s staff with the Knicks.

— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) August 11, 2020

The Knicks internally discussed Payne as an option after agreeing to a deal with Thibodeau back in July. A formal offer was put on the table this past week.

“All I can say is it’s not an easy decision,” Payne said in an interview with Herald-Leader’s Jerry Tipton. “And, hopefully, it gets resolved one way or the other here soon.”

At the time, Payne said it would be “hard to even fathom leaving” Lexington.

“But I have a great job for a lot of different reasons,” he said. “And all I can tell you is that I’ve been blessed to be able to be in a position to help a lot of people. It’s more than just basketball with me when you’re in a position to help families. … That is a unique situation. It’s hard to even fathom leaving Kentucky when you’re in a position like I’m in.”

Now, John Calipari will have to replace his top assistant at Kentucky.

UPDATE (10:07 am) — Kentucky makes it Official

The University of Kentucky announced Payne will in fact leave Kentucky after a decade in Lexington.

“This is a bittersweet day for us at Kentucky,” UK head coach John Calipari said. “Kenny has been an extremely important part of our success here. His relationship with our players is second to none. He coaches them and challenges them as hard as anyone, but they respect him, they listen to him and they learn from him because they know he cares. As a basketball coach and a teacher, he could run any program in the country. Simply, he’s as good as they get.

“I was disappointed that Kenny didn’t get that chance, but this is one of those opportunities Kenny had to look at, and I fully support his decision to join Tom Thibodeau’s staff. Kenny’s approach with his players, his knowledge of and his experience in the game, and his work ethic will serve him well on the professional level. I have high expectations for him in the NBA. For Julius Randle and Kevin Knox, it will be immediate, but as other players get to know and trust him, they’ll know he’s about one thing: their improvement and their success. I have no doubt that Kenny is going to be a great asset to Coach Thibodeau’s staff.

“I’ve had seven or eight different staffs in my career and it’s always been based on coaches getting an opportunity to chase their dreams. My hope is I have an opportunity to have seven more staffs.”

Payne thanked UK administrators, Calipari and the BBN for supporting him. He also said that leaving UK is one of the hardest things he’s ever done.

“First of all, I want to thank Dr. Eli Capilouto, Mitch Barnhart and Coach Cal for the unbelievable opportunity I’ve had at Kentucky for the last 10 years,” Payne said. “I’ve been blessed to not only coach at the greatest program in college basketball but to be in a position to help young men grow and develop and to play a part in their families’ lives. They’ve been 10 of the most rewarding years of my life, and I’ll cherish my time in Lexington for the rest of my career.

“This decision wasn’t easy for me. I have a great job at Kentucky, and to think about leaving has been one of the hardest things I have ever done. But I have also been offered an incredible opportunity with the New York Knicks and a chance to help restore what I believe should be the premier organization in the NBA.

“Big Blue Nation, thank you for embracing me and treating me and my family with respect. You are truly the best fans in college basketball and a major ingredient to what makes UK special. I am a firm believer in Coach Cal, and any player who is talented and has the character and the mental toughness to chase his dreams should want to play for my mentor and coach.”

Once a Wildcat, always a Wildcat pic.twitter.com/XfGTvcXLTI

— Kentucky Basketball (@KentuckyMBB) August 11, 2020

This content was originally published here.

Willian confirms Chelsea exit as he nears Arsenal move | Football News | Sky Sports

Willian scored nine goals and contributed seven assists in the 2019/20 Premier League season

Willian has confirmed he is leaving Chelsea, with Arsenal close to completing his signing on a three-year deal.

The 32-year-old leaves Stamford Bridge at the end of his contract after a seven-year spell, with Chelsea only willing to offer him a two-year deal rather than the player’s desired three years.

He wrote an open letter to fans confirming his exit following Chelsea’s defeat to Bayern in the last 16 of the Champions League.

“They were seven wonderful years. In August 2013 when I received the offer from Chelsea, I was convinced that this was where I had to play,” he wrote.

“Today I am certain that it was the best of decisions. There were so many happy times, some sad, there were trophies and it was always very intense.

“Yet, beyond the trophies, I learnt a lot about myself. I developed a great deal, becoming a better player and a better person.

“With each training session, with each game, with every minute spent in the dressing room, I was always learning.

“I am really grateful to the Chelsea fans for the affectionate way they welcomed me at Stamford Bridge and their support throughout my time at the club.

“There was also criticism, which is normal, what is important though is that both the affection and criticism drove me to always give my all in every training session, every game, to be constantly improving until my very last minute in a Chelsea shirt!

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Arsenal is the ‘most likely destination’ for Willian if he fails to agree a new contract with Chelsea, according to Sky Sports News’ Kaveh Solhekol
 
Arsenal is the ‘most likely destination’ for Willian if he fails to agree a new contract with Chelsea, according to Sky Sports News’ Kaveh Solhekol

“The time has now come to move on. I am certainly going to miss my team-mates. I will miss all the staff at the club who’ve always treated me like a son and I will miss the fans.

“I leave with my head held high, safe in the knowledge that I won things here and always did my best in a Chelsea shirt!

“My heartfelt thanks go out to all of you and God bless you!”

Arsenal in pole position to sign Willian

Arsenal moved into pole position to sign the Brazil international by offering a three-year contract earlier this week, and are on the verge of beating off competition from Barcelona and Inter Miami.

Along with the length of the deal, joining Mikel Arteta’s rejuvenated side and the chance to work with fellow Brazilian Edu are the reasons Arsenal are favourites to secure Willian’s signature.

Chelsea head coach Frank Lampard has insisted he will have no hard feelings if Willian leaves the club.

“It actually doesn’t matter about disappointment from any party in this situation,” said Lampard, ahead of Chelsea’s Champions League tie against Bayern Munich on Saturday.

“I haven’t got an answer for you (if Willian will leave) first and foremost, because Willian remains our player at the moment.

“In terms of being disappointed, certainly as a club I think we have done everything we can to explain to Willian, and mine and his relationship is really close.”

Willian made 47 appearances for Chelsea in all competitions and finished the season in fine form, with four Premier League goals after the restart taking his tally for the season to nine.

Analysis: ‘Willian wants one last big deal’

Sky Sports News’ Kaveh Solhekol:

“Willian wants one big final contract – ideally a three-year deal to take him to 35. Chelsea would like to keep him, though they’re not going to offer him three years.

“At the moment, it looks like Arsenal is his most likely destination but he is a free agent and at his age, realistically, you’re likely to go where there is the most money and longest contract on offer.

“He’s got a great injury record so his agent will be saying, ‘Don’t worry about his fitness’.”

Arsenal’s pursuit of Willian comes as they attempt to seal a new deal for captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, who is understood to be close to extending his contract, which is currently set to expire in the summer of 2021.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is set to stay at the Emirates

Aubameyang, 31, scored 22 goals in the Premier League last season and netted twice in Arsenal’s 2-1 win over Chelsea in Saturday’s FA Cup final.

Since his move to Arsenal from Borussia Dortmund in January 2018, he has scored 54 goals in 85 Premier League games.

The news of the Arsenal’s offers to Aubameyang and Willian comes after the club made a statement revealing their plan to make 55 members of staff redundant, including international recruitment specialist Francis Cagigao.

Arsenal, who will hold meetings with staff on Friday, said one of the key reasons cutbacks are being made is to “maintain investment in the team”.

Summer transfer window – key dates and times

The summer transfer window will run for 10 weeks from July 27 and close at 11pm on October 5.

A domestic-only window for trades between the Premier League and EFL then runs from October 5 and closes on Friday October 16 at 5pm. Follow all the news and analysis on Sky Sports News and across Sky Sports‘ digital platforms, including with our dedicated Transfer Centre blog.

This content was originally published here.

Report: Power Five to cancel fall sports, football

It looks like the day we’ve all been dreading is potentially here.

A day after the Mid-American Conference (MAC) announced it was postponing football and fall sports to the spring, according to a report from Sports Illustrated’s Ross Dellenger and Pat Forde, it looks like the Power Five is set to follow suit. It appears that the Big Ten will be the first domino to fall in the Power Five (which is constituted by the Big Ten, SEC, ACC, Big 12 and PAC-12), coming on the heels of another report that first-year commissioner Kevin Warren prefers a spring season for football.

From Forde and Dellenger:

High-level conference meetings are being planned for this week across the college football landscape with the expected resolution of postponing fall sports until 2021, multiple sources have told Sports Illustrated.

“It’s gotten to a critical stage,” one conference commissioner told Sports Illustrated Sunday, after a conference call with colleagues. “I think all of us will be meeting with our boards in the coming days. We have work to do that is no fun.”

Dominoes started falling in earnest Saturday when the Mid-American Conference postponed fall sports. The Big Ten followed with an announcement that it was pausing its scheduled progression to full-pads football practices. A well-placed source told SI Saturday, “I think by the end of the week the fall sports will be postponed in all conferences.”

Even that timetable might be accelerated. Sources told SI on Sunday that the Big Ten is moving toward a decision to cancel the 2020 fall season, while engaging other Power 5 conferences on a uniform decision to be announced later this week. Group of 5 league representatives simultaneously were conferring to align their own timelines, a source said.

Given the coronavirus pandemic, it did seem like it would be a matter of time, but the question remains: what changed between last week and this week?

On Wednesday, the Big Ten announced updated protocols to go along with a new schedule, and teams were permitted to start fall camp — which Michigan did on Aug. 7. At the moment, we’ve seen no uptick in cases resulting from camp, though some schools had seen some increases in COVID-19 cases at the outset and in the middle of voluntary workouts. Rutgers, Michigan State, Ohio State and Indiana all have seen some sort of pause at one time or another since returning student-athletes to campus. Michigan has paused some sports, but not football. U-M has a total number of 35 positives among students and staff according to the weekly Friday afternoon release — with none of the six new student-athlete cases coming from football, according to Jim Harbaugh on the In the Trenches podcast released this week.

USA TODAY Sports SMG’s own Pete Fiutak of College Football News posed these interesting questions in regards to the changes.

How much – if any – of the Power 5 college football doom-and-gloom today was simply about squashing the player demands?

Threaten to cancel fall football, sit back and watch the players who want to play undermine the boycott cause while the public panics about losing a season. https://t.co/4mJMzz4Wrr

— Pete Fiutak (@PeteFiutak) August 9, 2020

Big Ten, what EXACTLY changed from less than a week ago – when you released a full season schedule with built-in make-up dates – to now? (And don’t say “the MAC,” or I’m hanging up.)

— Pete Fiutak (@PeteFiutak) August 9, 2020

And more recently, he chimed in with this — in which we’re in total agreement.

You had 4 MONTHS, college football.

You didn’t have a coordinated plan. You didn’t have a set idea. You didn’t get creative. You didn’t see that the bubble actually works, and you didn’t try utilizing a form of that on a college-by-college basis.

You had 4 months.

— Pete Fiutak (@PeteFiutak) August 9, 2020

Now we wait for the official word. Will the season be canceled outright or postponed? If it is postponed to spring, how will that affect those draft-eligible players who had intended to use the season to secure their place in the NFL next season?

At the moment, we have more questions than answers. But there’s one answer that we have which we’ve long been dreading: it looks like there will be no football in Ann Arbor this fall.

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Anniversary GP: Lewis Hamilton mystified as Mercedes feel the heat | F1 News

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Lewis Hamilton said it was a “real shock” for Mercedes that they struggled on their tyres compared to Red Bull at the 70th Anniversary GP.
 
Lewis Hamilton said it was a “real shock” for Mercedes that they struggled on their tyres compared to Red Bull at the 70th Anniversary GP.

Lewis Hamilton admitted Max Verstappen’s win at F1’s 70th Anniversary GP was “definitely unexpected” as big favourites Mercedes struggled with their tyres in the Silverstone heat to lose their unbeaten 2020 record.

Hamilton and pole-sitter Valtteri Bottas were expecting another head-to-head battle on Sunday – at the same track where they were dominant in the British GP – but instead it was Verstappen who stormed through.

Key to Red Bull’s first win of the season was tyre management and strategy, and Verstappen, who started on the hard tyre from fourth, comfortably beat Hamilton despite his late charge to overtake Bottas for second.

“It was a massive challenge,” said Hamilton after the race. “Firstly, congratulations to the Red Bull team and to Max. They definitely didn’t have the qualms we had today.”

1:17

 

Max Verstappen overtakes Valtteri Bottas for the race lead during the 70th Anniversary Grand Prix.
 
Max Verstappen overtakes Valtteri Bottas for the race lead during the 70th Anniversary Grand Prix.

Both Hamilton and Bottas suffered big blisters on their tyres during the race, and not being able to keep up their usual pace in the heat – it was over 30 degrees celcius on Sunday afternoon – appears Mercedes’ weakness.

“[It was] definitely unexpected to have the blistering as hardcore as we experienced,” Hamilton stated.

“I’m sure the team will be working as hard as they can because we’ve not had that [tyre issues] before. I don’t know if anyone struggled with blistering like we did.”

Hamilton to Sky F1: ‘A real shock’

Verstappen started on the hard tyre compared to the Mercs on the mediums and that extended first stint helped him on his way to his first Silverstone victory.

Hamilton added to Sky F1: “It was such a difficult race. I love a challenge, but it was just an unexpected challenge that we had.

“Last race we had understeer and we were struggling with more front tyres blistering, and then this weekend it was the complete opposite. And there was nothing you could do. A real shock.

“I was really grateful I was able to extend the second stint. I was thinking whether to stay out [for a one-stop] but I think Max would have caught me, and if the rear goes that’s a spin. So credit to the team.”

Asked if Mercedes could have done anything to prevent Red Bull’s triumph, Hamilton responded: “Could we have done better? For sure. If we had done hard-medium-hard [rather than medium-hard-hard], maybe.

“But I still think they would have won.”

Bottas: We were ‘sleeping’ as a team

Hamilton’s day, however, wasn’t nearly as frustrating as Valtteri Bottas’.

Bottas was ahead of Hamilton throughout the race but with Mercedes matching Red Bull’s second-stop strategy with their lead driver, he was a sitting duck when Hamilton came charging in the closing stages.

1:27

 

Lewis Hamilton goes around the outside of Brooklands, an easy overtake in the end as he moved to second ahead of teammate Valtteri Bottas!
 
Lewis Hamilton goes around the outside of Brooklands, an easy overtake in the end as he moved to second ahead of teammate Valtteri Bottas!

He slipped to third after Hamilton’s overtake, and is also now third in the championship.

“A win should have been possible today,” insisted Bottas,to Sky F1. “The pace was good.

“For me, the strategy was sub-optimal.”

He added: “As a team we were sleeping at some point when Max managed to get ahead of us and my strategy was far, far from ideal. Lots to learn from today, I think.”

This content was originally published here.

Ryan Day Tells Team Ohio State is “Going to Hang 100” on Michigan After Jim Harbaugh Reportedly Launches Accusations on Conference Call | Eleven Warriors

Fall camp is just beginning, but the Ohio State vs. Michigan rivalry is heated as ever.

During a Big Ten coaches conference call on Monday, Jim Harbaugh reportedly interrupted Ryan Day and accused the Buckeyes of breaking rules with impermissible on-field instruction, according to a report by Bucknuts.

Day reportedly dismissed the accusations, telling Harbaugh, “how about I worry about my team and you worry about yours?”

But the fire didn’t stop there.

Later that day, Day addressed the team in a meeting, telling the players that Michigan better hope for a mercy rule this year because the Buckeyes are “going to hang 100 on them.” Day’s comments were first reported by Bucknuts, and confirmed by ESPN on Thursday.

Day was asked about the comments to the team in his Thursday Zoom press conference, but elected not to answer.

“I appreciate the question,” Day said, “but I’d rather not answer that right now.”

Day’s comments seemed to rub off on his captains, who were a bit more direct than usual about the rivalry when they spoke to the media on Tuesday with both Justin Fields and Wyatt Davis saying they wanted to “beat the brakes” off the Wolverines this season.

It’s not even September and the rivalry is already in full swing. And we don’t even have to wait as long to see it all play out on the field with The Game moved up to Oct. 24.

This content was originally published here.

LeBron James stays on social justice message after Lakers clinch first No. 1 in decade

Dave McMenaminESPN Staff Writer
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  • Lakers and NBA reporter for ESPN.
  • Covered the Lakers and NBA for ESPNLosAngeles.com from 2009-14, the Cavaliers from 2014-18 for ESPN.com and the NBA for NBA.com from 2005-09.

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — LeBron James arrived for the Los Angeles Lakers116-108 win over the Utah Jazz on Monday — a game that clinched the franchise’s first No. 1 seed in the Western Conference in a decade — in a black T-shirt meant to address a message bigger than basketball.

On the front, in white screen print, there was a stopwatch showing the time 8:46 on its face, with “Minneapolis” printed below it. On the back there were several stopwatches — all frozen on 8:46 — with various city names below them, including New York, Houston, Tokyo and Paris. Below the stopwatches there was a message: “The World is Watching This Time.”

James donned the T-shirt hours after body camera video surfaced of George Floyd’s arrest on May 25, before he was killed while in custody of the Minneapolis police.

Floyd, a 46-year-old Black man, died after officer Derek Chauvin, who is white, kneeled on his neck while Floyd repeatedly expressed his inability to breathe. It was initially reported that the amount of time Chauvin kneeled on Floyd’s neck was 8 minutes, 46 seconds, but prosecutors have since said the time was 7:46.

James said he had not watched the nearly 10 minutes of body camera footage that was published Monday by the Daily Mail — in which Floyd has a gun pointed at him just six seconds after officers knock on the window of his vehicle while the ignition is off and his hands are up — but he intends to.

James’ shirt was designed by Sloan and Bennett and commissioned by Klutch Sports, the agency that represents James. Sloan and Bennett is a Black-owned business founded by James Patrick Christopher, a former professional basketball player overseas and in the G League who is from Compton, California.

“You think about 8 minutes and 46 seconds, an officer having his knee on someone’s throat for that long. Video or no video, it doesn’t matter,” James said. “No one deserved to lose their life when it could have been prevented from what I’ve seen and from what the world has seen. So that’s what the T-shirt is all about: The world is watching. Everyone knows the time. Everyone knows what’s going on.”

The Lakers’ star, coming off his strongest game in Orlando, Florida, with 22 points on 9-of-16 shooting, 9 assists and 8 rebounds, said he was reminded of Floyd when the Lakers kneeled for both the U.S. national anthem and the Canadian national anthem before playing the Toronto Raptors over the weekend.

“I think it was a little bit over four minutes,” James said, echoing a sentiment recently shared by the Raptors’ Kyle Lowry and LA Clippers coach Doc Rivers. “And we actually as a unit, as a team, had to switch our knees over from one knee to the other knee because they started to get sore. They started to kind of start hurting a little bit. And that’s just a little over four minutes.”

Having been at the NBA’s Walt Disney World Resort campus with the Lakers for nearly four weeks on one of 22 teams invited to the league’s restart to finish a season that was interrupted for nearly four-and-a-half months because of the coronavirus, James said it is clear that coming to Orlando has aided in his and his peers’ pursuit of social change.

“There were so many conversations before we got here that this right here, the bubble, us playing basketball would take away from the main thing,” James said. “I think it’s been the absolute opposite of that. It’s given us the opportunity to every single day speak about, feel passionate about whatever is going on in your personal life, whatever is going on in society, us trying to make a change. Being dynamic. Being heard. And using this platform, which is the NBA, the most popular game in the world.

“And we’ve had that support. We’ve had that support from the league. We’ve had that support from the Union. And every player, either if he spoke out or not, has felt like they felt empowered, so if they feel like they want to say something or they feel like they want to hit on a topic, they don’t have to feel pressure. They don’t have to feel like they won’t be heard, like they won’t be supported. And that’s been a great thing to see: that we’ve been able to, as a league and as every individual, been able to voice our truth.”

James devoted more than half of his postgame media session — four of the six questions he fielded — to social justice. When the game came up, he responded with as much earnestness.

For James, who considers himself a student of basketball history, it was a significant night. The Lakers became the first team to clinch a No. 1 seed after a five-year playoff drought. L.A. will play its first playoff game since 2013 later this month, when James will embark on the fifth postseason of his career while playing for a No. 1 seed. The past two times, his team won it all.

But as much as James’ free agency decision to join the Lakers in 2018 changed L.A.’s fortunes, it was the trade for Anthony Davis a year later that put the team back in the championship conversation.

Davis, coming off a season-low seven shot attempts in a loss to Toronto over the weekend, led the Lakers with 42 points on 13-for-28 shooting against Toronto.

“When you’re a great player, you learn from one game,” James said of Davis. “You adjust. And then you turn it into something different the next game, and he absolutely did that tonight.”

Davis’ performance included a 24-point second half, marking the 20th time this season that he has scored 20 or more in half and making him the only Laker besides Kobe Bryant with 20 20-plus-point halves in a season in the past 10 years.

“It means a lot to be in a category with him. I just got chills,” Davis told ESPN’s Rachel Nichols when informed of the feat during an on-court postgame interview. “It’s tough always just talking about him, but to be in a category with him, it means a lot. And I know he’s looking down on us and cheering us on, so we want to do it for him. Like I said, it’s an honor to be even mentioned with his name.”

Bryant led the Lakers the last time they were the No. 1 seed in the West, taking them to the title from that spot in 2010.

“It’s been a long time coming for Laker Nation,” Davis said. “We’re trying to be the best version of the team that we can be. … It’s a good feeling. Obviously, we’re not done, still we’ve got a long way to go, but it’s a good accomplishment for our organization.”

This content was originally published here.

NFL Great Mike Ditka Blasts Anthem-Haters Again: ‘Bench Them’ Until They Respect the Country

Legendary NFL coach Mike Ditka ruffled a few feathers in an interview with TMZ last week when he offered a simple solution for athletes who have decided to use our country’s national anthem as a pulpit for their leftist politics.

“If they don’t like the country, they don’t like our flag … get the hell out,” the former Chicago Bears coach said of the return of anthem protests in professional sports.

Some argued that the 80-year-old simply doesn’t get it, or that he has oversimplified a complex issue.

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Of course, Ditka’s comments also quickly saw him decried as a racist by some on social media.

This doesn’t surprise me at all. Mike Dikta traded his helmet in for a white hood as soon as he retired from football. Racism hiding behind faux patriotism is still racism. 🤷🏾‍♂️ https://t.co/0wRTpyfMhB

If you were to ask many fans of professional sports, though, the coach hit the nail on the head.

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Discussions about a perception that America’s institutions are biased against minorities are free to be had.

But those conversations shouldn’t be held on the field, the court, the diamond or anywhere else where Americans used to be able to go to forget about life for a few hours and just enjoy watching a game.

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Ditka, who coached one the greatest football teams to ever play in the NFL, the 1985 Bears, still keeps up with the game he loves.

But, like so many sports fans, he has little tolerance for the disrespect being shown to the country’s flag and anthem.

Ditka joined Fox News host Jesse Watters over the weekend to discuss the sudden collision of sports and culture.

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He offered no apology for his previous remarks and instead doubled down, explaining how he would handle such blatant disrespect for the flag that so many Americans have died for.

Asked how he would have reacted if one of his players had knelt during the playing of the national anthem, Ditka was straightforward.

“They wouldn’t have played for us,” the coach said. “It’s that simple.”

“So you’d bench them?” Watters asked.

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“I would bench them,” the coach answered.

“That’s it,” Ditka continued. “Until they found that it was honorable to respect the country.

“This country has given them the opportunity to become millionaires. You understand what I’m saying?

“You can’t play American football in Peru. You can’t play it in England. American football can only be played in America.”

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“And they make a lot of money doing it. Enjoy it, respect it, but don’t act like a clown.”

Ditka, like so many older, affable Americans who have paid their dues and tried to lead lives of greatness, has been around long enough to see the civil rights movement make great strides.

But the country, generally speaking, has gone backward with regard to racial unity, as the current neo-Marxist movement seeking to drive a wedge between Americans has been successful to a degree.

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Ditka, whose life is intertwined with sports, doesn’t know what to make of it.

“I played football my whole life and we had more black football players on our team than we did white, but there was never a problem,” he told Fox News.

“We played football. It wasn’t about the color of a guy’s skin, it was about the way he played the game and what his contributions could be to society and to the school.”

Ditka’s continued comments against anthem kneeling will be most assuredly be construed to portray him as out of touch, bigoted or, at a minimum, behind the times.

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As professional sports leagues continue to embrace the Black Lives Matter movement, players have become little more than empty political platforms.

They refuse to stand and honor the collective memory of those we’ve lost in places such as Valley Forge, Antietam, Saint-Mihiel, Okinawa, the Chosin Reservoir, Khe Sanh, Fallujah and Kamdesh.

Racial inequality, whether actual or perceived, is a complex issue.

But it’s a conversation that isn’t going to be resolved in the field of play.

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Ditka, as always, offers blunt explanations that are not crafted to preserve feelings.

Sometimes, the most sensible answer to a complex issue is the one that is the most difficult to hear.

We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.

This content was originally published here.

Lewis Hamilton recounts amazing finish to British GP victory | F1 News

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It was a dramatic final lap for Lewis Hamilton as he limped home to victory with a puncture at the British Grand Prix.
 
It was a dramatic final lap for Lewis Hamilton as he limped home to victory with a puncture at the British Grand Prix.

Lewis Hamilton admitted he had never experienced a final lap like the extraordinary climax to his British GP after winning at Silverstone despite completing the race with a punctured tyre.

In an astonishing end to what had otherwise been a processional race up front at Silverstone, the two front-running Mercedes cars suffered front-left tyre delaminations after long stints on hard tyres.

Valtteri Bottas’ struck his W11 with two laps to go, dropping the luckless Finn from second place to outside the points, while race leader Hamilton’s occurred at the start of his final lap while going down the Wellington Straight.

5:14

 

Lewis Hamilton wins British GP despite final-lap puncture plus reaction to a record-extending seven wins in his home race.
 
Lewis Hamilton wins British GP despite final-lap puncture plus reaction to a record-extending seven wins in his home race.

Hamilton then had to navigate the high-speed track’s final 13 corners with essentially three wheels as Max Verstappen’s Red Bull, who had just stopped for tyres, fast hunted him down.

The six-time champion recounted the barely-believable finish after hanging on to take his seventh Silverstone win.

“I was really chilled for some reason at the end,” said Hamilton.

“Bono [his race engineer, Peter Bonnington] was giving me the information and the gap – I think it was 30s at one stage and it was coming down quite quickly.

“In my mind, I’m thinking ‘how far is it to the end of the lap?’

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There was an incredible end to the British Grand Prix as Valtteri Bottas’ puncture allowed Max Verstappen to take second position at Silverstone.
 
There was an incredible end to the British Grand Prix as Valtteri Bottas’ puncture allowed Max Verstappen to take second position at Silverstone.

“The car seemed to turn ok through Maggots and Becketts, thankfully. I got to [turn] 15 and that’s where it was a struggle and I could hear the gap coming down from 19 to 10.

“So I remember giving it full gas from [turn] 15 down to 16 but then the thing wasn’t stopping!

“I got to the corner, a lot of understeer, and I heard him go ‘nine, eight, seven’ and I was like ‘get back on the power and try to get the thing to turn’.

“I’ve definitely never experienced anything like that on the last lap. My heart definitely probably nearly stopped. That’s probably how cool I was because my heart nearly stopped!”

Hamilton added to Sky F1: “I don’t why I managed to be cool during the period. But I had no choice.

“Survival instincts come over you and that’s really what I was thinking – ‘I’ve come all this way, I’m not going to pull over and back off completely and let everyone drive past’. How can I still get there with taking as much risks as possible without losing the car altogether?”

This content was originally published here.

Yoenis Cespedes Opts Out 2020 Season, Didn’t Tell NY Mets

1:35 PM PT — Yoenis Cespedes is alive and well … but has decided to opt out of the 2020 season. Problem is, Cespedes didn’t inform the Mets organization of his plans, according to NYM GM Brodie Van Wagenen.

The whole situation is bizarre … Cespedes made the road trip to Atlanta and played Saturday. But, sometime between the end of Saturday’s game and Sunday morning, he decided to pull the plug on the 2020 season — and didn’t inform any of his bosses?? Weird … but glad he’s okay.

The Mets issued a statement saying … “As of game time, Yoenis Céspedes has not reported to the ballpark today. He did not reach out to management with any explanation for his absence. Our attempts to contact him have been unsuccessful.”

This content was originally published here.

Brewers vs. Cardinals postponed due to positive COVID-19 tests

NEW YORK — The coronavirus forced another change in Major League Baseball’s schedule, bringing the league’s total to eight teams affected in the first nine days of the season.

Friday’s game between St. Louis and Milwaukee was postponed after two Cardinals players tested positive for the coronavirus.

The league announced the schedule change hours before the game was to be played. It said the postponement in Milwaukee is “consistent with protocols to allow enough time for additional testing and contact tracing to be conducted.”

The Cardinals said in a statement that they learned Thursday night about positive tests from samples collected Wednesday. Players and staff have been instructed to isolate in their hotel rooms in Milwaukee, and the club did not leave the hotel Friday for Miller Park.

“The team is currently conducting rapid testing of the entire travelling party, has implemented contact tracing, and will continue to self-isolate,” the team said.

The Brewers and Cardinals plan to resume their schedule Saturday night at Miller Park, pending results from the testing and contact tracing, and make up Friday’s game as part of a doubleheader Sunday.

“We are supportive of Major League Baseball’s decision to postpone today’s game and look forward to playing our home opener as soon as conditions safely allow,” Brewers general manager David Stearns said in a statement. “The health and safety of our players and employees are, and will continue to be, our top priorities.”

Two other games scheduled for Friday involving the Marlins, Nationals, Blue Jays and Phillies had already been postponed because of an outbreak among Miami players and two positive tests on Philadelphia’s coaching staff.

The Cardinals played in Minnesota on Tuesday and Wednesday before a scheduled day off Thursday. The Twins hosted Cleveland on Thursday night, and the Indians used the same visiting clubhouse as St. Louis.

It’s uncertain if the Indians and Twins will move forward with their scheduled game Friday night. Cleveland planned to hold a team meeting early in the afternoon to discuss the situation.

A week into its virus-shortened season of 60 games in 67 days, Major League Baseball is scrambling to adjust its schedule.

The Marlins haven’t played since Sunday, and Miami’s situation has also led to schedule changes for the New York Yankees and Baltimore Orioles.

Miami learned Friday that another player tested positive, bringing its total to 18 players and two staff members, according to a person familiar with the situation. The person, who spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because no announcement had been made, said none of the Marlins has shown serious symptoms.

The infected Marlins left Philadelphia in sleeper buses Friday to return to Miami, where they will remain together in quarantine, according to the person. The trip is expected to take about 18 hours.

The rest of the team will spend the weekend in isolation in Philadelphia, where the Marlins have been stranded since their outbreak began. It’s uncertain when or where they will next play.

Officials were concerned that the latest Marlins positive test result came five days after the team was last together, when the Marlins beat Philadelphia.

To help make up all the postponements, MLB and the players’ union agreed Thursday that doubleheaders this season will become a pair of seven-inning games. The league announced the change Friday.

The Brewers have never hosted a doubleheader at Miller Park, which has a retractable roof. The last twinbill in Milwaukee was Sept. 23, 2000, against the Pirates at Milwaukee County Stadium.

This content was originally published here.

Recap: Anthony Davis Leads Lakers To Win Over Clippers In First Seeding Game

Anthony Davis got the Los Angeles Lakers off to a strong start and they recovered from squandering an early lead to finish with a 103-101 win over the L.A. Clippers in a choppy first seeding game of the NBA restart. Davis led all scores with 34 points, but it was LeBron James who had the game-winning basket.

Considered questionable heading into the day because of lingering discomfort as a result of being poked in the eye last weekend, Davis quickly went to work against the interior of the Clippers’ defense.

He drew four shooting fouls within the first seven minutes of the game and went on to pour in 14 points as the Lakers held a 35-23 lead after the opening quarter. LeBron James had five assists as he largely played facilitator, which was a theme that held throughout the night.

Kawhi Leonard picked up two early fouls but quickly found a rhythm and began to turn the tide upon checking back in during the second quarter. Leonard proceeded to score 11 of the Clippers’ 17 points during one stretch.

It was reminiscent of Leonard taking over against the Lakers’ reserves during a regular-season matchup. Paul George also helped stabilize the Clippers and he sparked them early in the second half.

The Lakers led by as many as 14 points, only for it to be cut to two by the start of the third quarter. George connected on back-to-back 3-pointers early on, giving the Clippers their largest lead of the game at 61-55.

The Lakers deficit continued to grow until James connected on a 3-pointer with 6:50 remaining for their first basket in the third quarter. That wound up marking the start of a small rally for the Lakers, which was aided by George and Patrick Beverley each pick up four fouls.

Davis scored eight points in a flurry, helping the Lakers cut the Clippers lead to just 77-74 heading into the fourth quarter. At that juncture, Davis and Kyle Kuzma (10 points) were the only Lakers in double figures.

True to his style of play, James found a way to still impact the game. He found Kuzma for a 3-pointer, forced the Clippers into a turnover on a shot clock violation, and connected from behind the arc.

A 17-3 run helped the Lakers open a 91-80 lead that was cut to one point but never lost. George’s 3-pointer tied the game with 28 seconds remaining, but James answered by following his own shot for a game-winning putback.

Playoff evaluations

Lakers head coach Frank Vogel made it clear he intends to use the seeding games as an evaluation period to determine how or if JR Smith and Dion Waiters will fit into a playoff rotation. Waiters received more opportunities in the opener and made the most of it.

Waiters both helped carry the bench unit offensively and spaced the floor when playing in a lineup with Davis and James. Waiters finished with 11 points, three rebounds and two assists in 21 minutes.

Smith was scoreless on one shot attempt in seven minutes.

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This content was originally published here.