Kylian Mbappe makes demands to PSG in front of stunned crowd at awards show

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The French have a saying for when you put your foot in it, it’s called faux pas and PSG striker Kylian Mbappe did just that at the French football awards at the weekend. Mbappe received the highest award with winning the player of the season in France and then hinted in front of a packed audience that included PSG’s owners and PSG manager Thomas Tuchel that his future may lie elsewhere, it was a stunning moment.

Mbappe took his award and then told everyone listening: “It’s a very important moment for me, I come to a turning point in my career. I have discovered a lot here, and I feel it is maybe the moment to have more responsibility.I hope that can perhaps be at Paris St Germain, that would be a great pleasure. Or maybe elsewhere with a new project.”

Mbappe’s statement is one of intent and he is clearly not happy at PSG. This in part may be to do with the fact that the club keep blowing up at the knockout rounds of the Champions League but at the same time there is a strong feeling that Real Madrid have approached PSG and offered upwards of 250 million euros for the player.

The 20 year old joined the club in 2017 after guiding Monaco to a Ligue 1 title, initially this was on a loan deal before he joined for a transfer fee in the region of £160m becoming the 2nd most expensive player in history behind Neymar his PSG teammate.

While Mbappe has had a fantastic season scoring 32 goals in just 28 games and 38 overall this season his speech will strike some as shocking. At just 20 he wants to rule the roost and have his say, and while he undoubtedly has the talent to be remembered as one of the greats one could wonder if he isn’t getting too ahead of himself. Or could it be that Real Madrid have already made contact and Mbappe was asked to stoke the fires somewhat- to do that in this company, well he has got a reaction that is for sure.

So what can PSG do to keep the player happy? First will be a wage rise, next could be that Mbappe wants more say, what exactly that extends to is anyone’s guess, but he has now laid down a marker and it feels that it is only a question of when and not if Mbappe leaves the club. The destination looks set for Madrid, rare has any player in the past turned the club down, why should that stop at Mbappe?

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Four big name players that are expected to leave their respective clubs this summer

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That exciting time has come once again, where the summer transfer window will be filled with opinionated rumours and ridiculous speculations, before the deals begin to become finalised and publicly official. So far, the likes of Barcelona, Bayern Munich and Real Madrid have got down to business quickly within the transfer market, as they will potentially look to dominate their respective league for many years to come whilst also strongly challenge for the Champions League next season.

Meanwhile, it could be another enormous summer where the big name players will be making the huge moves left, right and centre. And if the reports that are constantly being raised within the English media and the European news outlets happen to be true, then we can expect a number of the best clubs inside of Europe to lose one or two of their key players or be forced to sell them.

With no further ado, here are the four big name players that will be on the move this summer…

David De Gea

The perfect player to start off with is none other than Manchester United’s David De Gea, someone who is seen as the best goalkeeper in the Premier League as well as one of the best in Europe. Since the moment his transfer to Real Madrid unfortunately broke down due to a faulty fax machine in August 2015, he hasn’t been the same despite being the team’s best player in recent years, as he has silently questioned the direction the club is heading and the lack of progress made by them on and the pitch.

On top of that, with Ander Herrera leaving on a free transfer to Paris Saint-Germain and Juan Mata not receiving a contract extension by the board, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see the former Atletico Madrid shot-stopper moving away after spending eight long years at Old Trafford. If there is much meaning to this and he does end up joining his fellow countrymen in the coming weeks, it will leave United with further problems to resolve, as they are currently in a transition period and will be losing their main man.

Gareth Bale

Another club that will be going through a transition period of sorts will be Real Madrid, who have surprisingly been quiet in the transfer window over the last couple of years and are now in a position to bring in young blood and fresh energy, as the likes of Luka Modric, Marcelo, Sergio Ramos and Toni Kroos are starting to age. But the main focus just happens to be on winger Gareth Bale, who doesn’t get along with coach Zinedine Zidane and will be looking to move away from the Spanish giants as soon as possible.

The ideal outcome for the player would be to return to the Premier League, a league he has already proved himself in rather than going into a new league and a new culture where it will most likely take him a number of months to adapt and settle into that environment. With Real Madrid being linked with the likes of Eden Hazard, Mohamed Salah and Neymar, offloading the Welsh international instantly and at a discounted figure would make total sense, especially to balance the books on a financial note.

Mauro Icardi

Mauro Icardi has experienced a lot of ups and downs at Inter Milan, especially throughout the last five to six months, where he has had contract issues with the board, huge fallout with the manager Luciano Spalletti and then it leading to him being one of the main reasons to why the dressing room was filled with tension and diversity. Though, focusing on his ability on the pitch, there are no doubts that he simply knows where the back of the net is as he is the type of striker to score 30 goals a season.

The future of Icardi doesn’t happen to be quite crystal clear at this moment of time, and it will purely be dependent on if Spalletti is replaced by Antonio Conte, a well-known coach who does not allow anyone to get away with their antics or unprofessional behaviour. And if that is the case, the 26-year-old may as well start to look for a new club straightaway, which might not be a problem at all, as the likes of Atletico Madrid, Chelsea, Juventus and Manchester United could do with his goal-scoring prowess.

Matthijs De Ligt

After winning the Eredivisie title for the 34th time and reaching the Champions League Semi-Finals, Ajax have once again, caught the attention of majority of the football supporters around the world. However, when that tends to happen, they end up losing a number of key players which is something that they are starting to experience, as Frenkie de Jong has joined FC Barcelona whilst individuals such as Hakim Ziyech, Matthijs de Ligt and Donny van de Beek are now wanted by literally everyone.

For the time being, it’s time to put the full focus on De Ligt, a 19-year-old centre-back that is already seen as a phenomenal leader and has time and time again, showed his quality on and off the ball. From showing his physical strength to his incredible intelligence to be in the right place at the right time, he is seen as the full package of a defender, which cannot be said about many players that play within his department. If he is to leave during the summer window, it would be for around £65million-£85million.

Is it the end for Samuel Umtiti at Barcelona?

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There was a time, not so long ago, when Samuel Umtiti was considered untouchable at Barcelona.

One of a select band of players that, come hell or high water, were not going anywhere.

Part of the furniture might be an apt description for the Frenchman at that point.

But how quickly things can change… Continue reading

Ligue 1: Player of the Weekend: Maxwell Cornet

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With a few clean sheets this past weekend in Ligue 1 goal keepers ruled the roost with plenty earning 7 points, but the overall winner is Lyon’s Maxwell Cornet who earned 8 points as his side overcame Marseille at Stade Velodrome winning 3-0.

Cornet opened the scoring from close range and it was an important strike as at that time Marseille were applying pressure and asking many questions from the visitors. Cornet struck again to get his 2nd and Lyon’s 3rd goal of the night with just four minutes remaining. The player has proven to score goals and be reliable even if he isn’t always Lyon’s number 1 choice, he is a classic ‘fox in the box’ type of player and is usually in the right place at the right time. Cornet could have had a hat-trick but he had one goal ruled out for offside.

Cornet’s goals at the weekend ended Marseille’s European hopes for next season and strengthened his sides chances of finishing in a Champions League position. Lyon remain 3rd which means they would have to partake in a play-off to get to the competition proper but they are 6 points adrift of 2nd placed Lille. This win was still huge though as Saint Etienne who were threatening to take 3rd from them lost and that gap is now 4 points with just 2 games to play, so Lyon are almost at the finish line.

Lyon’s coach Bruno Genesio had this to say about the match and the possibility of playing Champions League football next season: ”Are we in the Champions League yet? No. There are two games left, six points, and we must win next Saturday to be certain of a third-place finish and possibly qualify directly depending on the Europa League final. The score was a bit harsh but we could’ve led 2-0 at half-time. We had a lull in the second half and Marseille pushed, but I think on the whole we deserved to win. We had two goals at the start of the season. The first was to get to the knockout stage of the Champions League, which we achieved, and the second was to qualify for next season’s competition, which is nearly done.”

As for Cornet from only his 10th start of the season after appearing from the bench no less than 15 times he has scored 4 goals and assisted in another 3. That means that Cornet has been involved in 11% of Lyon’s total output of goals this season. He has a total of 21 points in Ligue 1 Fantasy football rankings and is valued at 6m. With Lyon pushing in their final 2 games of the season and Cornet on obvious form he might be worth adding to your team.

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Lille secure Champions League football and Neymar redeems himself ahead of PSG ban

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It’s been a tough month for PSG star Neymar who learned that he would receive a 3 game Champions League ban next season for being critical of match officials when PSG lost to Manchester United. Then the Brazilian was handed a 3 game ban by Ligue 1 after he hit out at a fan at the end of the Coupe de France final. PSG are appealing on that, but he was on target to open the scoring as PSG beat Angers 2-1 at the weekend.

It was Neymar’s 15th goal of the season which with his long term injury considered is a decent return. The win was also PSG’s 2nd win in 5 games as they have gone through the worst form of their season in the last month which included losing in the final of the Coupe de France to Rennes. Of course they became champions weeks ago and the players seem to have switched off but the win away to Angers was still an important one.

The big news came from Lille and saw the side secure their Champions League place for next season after they beat Bordeaux 1-0. They will almost certainly finish 2nd but even if they lost their last two games and Lyon won their next two, they would finish 3rd which would still be good for the qualifying stages, but the odds are looking great for them to finish in the runners up spot. The Bordeaux victory was the clubs 19th of the season.

Lyon went away to Marseille and secured a brilliant 3-0 win to give them a huge advantage in finishing the season in 3rd place and possible Champions League for next season. Playing at Stade Velodrome was no mean task and the game was loaded with tension throughout. Maxwell Cornet who has been brilliant for the team this season scored a brace and was the eventual hero. Lyon remains 6 points behind Lille but have now pulled four points clear of Saint Etienne.

Saint Etienne who had won 4 games on the bounce really had to win at home to Montpellier but they were downed by a Gaetan Laborde goal, which more or less ended their Champions League hopes. They would have to win their last 2 games and hope that Lyon lost both or lost one and drew one and that seems unlikely.

Could Montpellier pip Saint Etienne for that final Europa League place though? The club at least gave themselves a chance by beating the club at the weekend but they are still 4 points adrift and it looks like, despite their heroics, that they will just miss out.

Marseille certainly will as they have just 55 points and the best they can hope for now is to finish in 5th place. The club started strongly this season only to fade away in the winter months and then bounce back again soon after. But they look to be going through poor form once again and have no wins in their last 3 games.

Any European football officially ended for Nice this past weekend but they still pulled off a decent 1-1 draw against Nantes who came into that game having won 5 matches in a row including wins over PSG, Lyon and Marseille. That was the 11th draw this season for Nice though, just 3 of those matches converted into wins and the team would be challenging for Europe.

And Nimes continued their fine form by beating Monaco 1-0, that’s 3 wins from their last four games and they took advantage of Reims poor form to move 3 points clear of them and firmly establish 8th place. Nimes could finish as high as 6th if their form continues and others drop points around them.

Finally matchday 36 was one that saw referees having to work over time with no less than 6 red cards dished out. Four of those to top 8 sides and a few players will have played their last games of the campaign for their respective clubs.

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Thierry Henry sacked, Leonardo Jardim returns and yet Monaco could still be relegated from Ligue 1

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If anything at least it hasn’t been a quiet forgettable season for Monaco. The 2017 champions and the only team to stop PSG winning the league since 2012 are in 17th place and have a realistic chance of being relegated.

Thierry Henry infamously replaced Leonardo Jardim who had guided the club to their Ligue 1 win and had done pretty much nothing wrong to be sacked in the first place. This was proven just 4 months later when Henry couldn’t even buy a win and was sacked as Monaco lay in the bottom three. He was inevitably replaced by Jardim and Monaco’s fortune swiftly turned around, well at least, for a few weeks.

It seems though that Jardim and possibly even Henry were not the root of the problem and the real problem for the club is that for many seasons they have constantly sold their best players. Run as a business Monaco have been terrific one of the best clubs in Europe, buy cheap and sell large. Clubs such as Manchester City and PSG have spent hundreds of millions acquiring the talent pool from Monaco. That is all very well and good but was it worth it to be playing in Ligue 2?

Jardim has simply not been able to turn things around enough for a club who have slumped in the past month. Their latest defeat was against newly promoted Nimes losing 1-0 and Monaco are 17th. The problem for the club is that they are only in this position on goal difference. Caen have found excellent form and have the same number of points on them on 33. And that is not all, Dijon’s victory over Strasbourg at the weekend means that they have 31 and remain a threat and there is still 2 games to play in the league.

Monaco have lost 3 of their last four games and from their last 10 games they have won just once. Their last victory came 2 months ago when they beat Lille. Indeed that has been a sticking point with the club. Their last two wins came against Lille who are 2nd and Lyon who are 3rd, but they have had a hard time beating teams just above them and around them which could ultimately be their downfall.

Will Monaco survive? Well if they finish 18th that is no longer automatic relegation in France and instead they would partake in a play off against the 3rd place Ligue 2 side to see who would be promoted and relegated. Monaco’s last two games are at home to Amiens and then away in the derby against Nice. How ironic that it is Nice who could end up sending them down?

The Amiens game then is massive and win that and that should be enough to fend off the challenge from Dijon. Plus Dijon have to play PSG away from home next, and yes whilst PSG have been in poor form, no one is expecting them to lose that match. So Dijon do look down. As for Caen that is the real worry for Monaco, since Caen would be 6th in the league on form.

Caen have to play Lyon away which is going to be incredibly tough and then finish the season with a home game against Bordeaux. It’s going to be close and both Caen and Monaco could finish on 36 points.

While the excitement of who would win Ligue 1 felt done and dusted by Christmas the relegation battle is only just heating up with 2 games to go.

Can a double double be considered disappointing for Barcelona?

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There’s no escaping the fact that Barcelona’s defeat to Liverpool was one of their worst in recent memory.

Catalan media are even calling it their worst ever.

For the second season in a row in the Champions League the Blaugrana allowed a three-goal lead to slip, and for a club of such stature that isn’t acceptable.

However, they are on the verge of doing the ‘double double,’ which is an achievement which shouldn’t be overlooked. Continue reading

Remy Cabella sent off as Saint Etienne’s Champions League hopes hang by a thread

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Saint Etienne didn’t need this type of controversy, indeed all they needed to do was keep their heads, but against Montpellier at the weekend it went all wrong.

The club had been in such great form coming into this game winning their last 4 matches in a row and had put real pressure on Lyon in 3rd place for that final Champions League position. Indeed the Verts as they are known entered the game which was played on Friday night just 1 point behind Lyon. Playing at home they were expected to win given that they have the third best home record in the league but Montpellier were not reading the script.

In the end it took one goal, scored by Gaetan Laborde to settle matters and Saint Etienne lost the game and ended up losing their minds, borne out of frustration of course.

The game had no less than 7 yellow cards and 2 reds. First to go was Daniel Congre from Montpellier who received his marching orders on the 53rd minute for roughing. This seemed to play into Saint Etienne’s hands and yet roughly 10 minutes later they themselves would be down to 10 players and it wasn’t just any player seeing red by Remy Cabella, who has shone recently for the club and really stepped up. Well at the weekend he stepped down and took an early shower to go with it.

Two minutes later Laborde scored just to rub salt in the wounds, and for Saint Etienne they dominated every statistic but the one that counted and lost the game.

Saint Etienne’s coach Jean-Louis Gasset believes the game should have ended in a draw he said: ”Given how we ended the game, with all these balls passing in front of Montpellier’s goal, a draw would’ve been fair. We weren’t focused enough after Montpellier went down to 10 men. We rushed things trying to score immediately. Montpellier scored at a fateful moment. We gave everything, we had chances, but we lacked a cutting edge. We missed the chance to confirm our Europa League place, but we have two games left.”

Lyon played on Sunday and beat Marseille 3-0 which means that they have pulled 4 points clear from 4th with just 2 games remaining and look like the massive favourites now to go on and get 3rd.

As for Saint Etienne they now have Montpellier in their rear view mirror for 4th, although there is a four point gap and Saint Etienne’s consolation looks like a Europa League place.

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UEFA must ensure Champions League & Europa finals have genuine fans attending

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UEFA will be under pressure to act ‘for the good of the game’ after it emerged that around only 20% of fans will be attending the Champions League final and Europa League final. It is a shocking statistic and a damning fact about the two prestigious finals.

The Europa League final will take place in Baku at the Olympic Stadium which boasts a capacity of 68,000. The all English final will be between Chelsea and Arsenal which is sure to a memorable game of football and yet here is the damning fact. Arsenal have only been allocated 6,000 tickets for their fans, Chelsea for some reason is even lower at 5,800. That equates to less than 20% of capacity.

UEFA and its partners and sponsors will be taking a percentage of tickets, this can amount to anything between 5,000-10,000 nobody knows quite sure how many. That is just a fact of the major finals that sponsors will be getting tickets and is part of modern football business. But where then are the other 38,000 tickets? Well they will go on general sale to anyone in the world that enters a lottery type ticket allocation.

While it should be applauded that neutral football fans around the world will get to see a final showpiece or at least given that chance, that it should be 55% of them is disconcerting. Whatever happened to genuine fans watching their own teams, especially in a football final? Does UEFA want the final devoid of all atmosphere is that the main goal here?

The same applies to the Champions League final although more tickets have been allocated. The final will take place at Atletico Madrid’s home ground of Wanda Metropolitan which holds like Baku around 68,000. Liverpool and Tottenham have been given 16,000 tickets each, about 5,000 will go to UEFA and the rest just over 30,000 goes to general fans again.

It mean of course that long standing season ticket holders of both clubs simply won’t be able to go. The final which takes place on June 1st, is arguably Tottenham’s biggest match in their history. They have never reached a European Cup final, and it will be a massive occasion for the club. But loyal fans will have to watch the game elsewhere.

A proper figure of 25,000 tickets each should be made available for fans of the respective clubs. If UEFA cannot guarantee this, then why play matches in smaller grounds? Perhaps the final needs to be played in stadiums boasting 80,000 capacities or more? What is so frustrating is that the solution seems an easy one. The current state of ticketing is painfully wrong, playing host to touts as well as fans being charged excessively, ripped off or worse still ending up in the area designated for rival fans.