Sport

Montpellier Appoint Ex-Nigeria Winger John Utaka As Youth Coach.

Montpellier have appointed their former player and ex-Nigeria international John Utaka as coach of their U19 team.

The 38-year-old returns to Stade de la Mosson with the ambition of earning his coaching badge in the Ligue 1 club’s youth set-up.

Utaka spent two-and-a-half years at Montpellier between 2011 and 2013, and he helped La Paillade win their first-ever top-flight title in the 2011-12 season.

His brace in the club’s 2-1 win over Auxerre secured Montpellier’s triumph on May 12, 2012.

Ahead of his new sojourn, the Nigeria national team sent a congratulatory message to him.

“And the journey in coaching begins for John Utaka, the attacker with the Montpellier youth coach post. All the best poacher,” the Super Eagles official account wrote.

Utaka is the latest Nigeria legend to take up a coaching role after ex-captain Joseph Yobo was appointed as an assistant coach to Gernot Rohr in the national team.

Yobo also joined in felicitating with his former international teammates who scored six goals in 49 appearances for the Super Eagles.

Barcelona Super Star Begs For Davido’s Private Jet To Return Home.

Super Falcons striker Asisat Oshoala looks to be finding it hard to return home due to the lockdown in Spain, where she plays for Barcelona Femení.

The Barcelona striker indicated that she would like to return home to spend time with her families.

This is coming as a result of the cancellation of the Spanish Primera Iberdrola earlier this month due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

The four-time African Women’s Footballer of the Year winner, who observed the Ramadan fast in Spain, revealed she wants to return home to join her family.

Taking to her Twitter page and writting in Pidgin English, Oshoala wrote, “Abeg who get private jey wey him no dey use for now. Please comman carry me from barcelona to Lagos, I want to go home.”

Lampard Says He Can Make Me A Chelsea Star – Kovacic

Chelsea midfielder Mateo Kovacic believes he is working with the perfect manager in Frank Lampard to add the qualities to his game that he is currently missing.

The most notable of those is the art of goal-scoring, with the Croatia international hardly renowned for his prowess in the final third of the field. The 26-year-old failed to find the target during a season-long loan at Stamford Bridge in 2018-19, but still did enough to earn a permanent move from Real Madrid .

He is now off the mark for the Blues, with two efforts recorded this term, but has only troubled the scorers on 21 occasions in his 367 club appearances to date.

Kovacic can argue that he is not selected to provide that kind of threat, with his value found in ball-winning and ball-playing departments. He is, however, eager to make himself a more rounded performer and feels that Lampard – who scored 211 goals for Chelsea – could be the man to unlock further potential.

Kovacic said in an Instagram Live discussion, on seeing the new boss arrive in the summer of 2019 and what it could mean for him:

“We had a quite good year under Maurizio Sarri, winning the Europa League, in the end he left and Frank Lampard came to the team.

“I think from the first moment our feeling was good. I liked the way he was training us, really hard training, I liked his character, how he was speaking to the team.

“I think I can learn a lot from him because all the things I am missing from my game – scoring goals and being more direct, this is the thing Lampard was amazing at in his career. So he’s a great manager, a great person and I think I can learn a lot from him during my time here.

Guardiola Begs Fans To Be Safe As Man City Return To Training.

Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola has praised key workers for putting their lives at risk during the Covid-19 pandemic and urged fans to continue staying safe.

The Premier League was shut down more than two months ago by the coronavirus outbreak but it is hoped that football in the top division could restart behind closed doors midway through June.

City’s first-team squad returned to the Etihad Campus last week and Guardiola says the players are keen to return to action when they can do so safely.

“All the fans around the world are waiting for football to come back. We want to come back but now the priority is other things,” he said.

“The message is still stay safe, be careful and when everything is possible we will come back. First I think without [the fans], but hopefully we come back to a routine.

“But now the most important thing is to follow the instructions. If they say use a mask, stay at home, social distance – we have to do it. Because there are many, many people in the NHS, who put their own lives at risk to save ours.

How Ahmed Musa Struggled At Leicester City .

Super Eagles captain and Al Nassr’s forward, Ahmed Musa has revealed that the presence of Algeria winger Riyad Mahrez was the major reason he failed to earn a first-eleven playing berth during his spell at Leicester City.

Musa signed to the English side, Leicester City for a then club-record £16.6 fee in July 2016 from Russian top-flight division club, CSKA Moscow.

The 27-year-old forward scored two goals in 22 league matches during his time with the Foxes.

However, after struggling for game time at the club, the management saw it fit to loan him back to CSKA Moscow in January 2018.

Musa finally left Leicester for Saudi Arabia Professional League club Al Nassr in August 2018.

“Before they signed me at Leicester City, they told me Riyad Mahrez was leaving,” Musa said on Instagram Live while speaking to SuperSport TV’s Carol Tshabalala.

“If I knew that Mahrez is going to stay, I will not join Leicester, I would have stayed at CSKA Moscow.

Read How Man City Passed Up A Big Chance To Sign Van Dijk

Manchester City passed up the chance to land Virgil van Dijk when the exit door opened at Celtic, with former Hoops boos Ronny Deila revealing that his transfer advice fell on deaf ears.

The Dutch centre-half first starred on British soil during a productive two-year stint at Parkhead. His potential was quickly noted by those in the Premier League, with a switch to England only becoming a matter of time.

Southampton ultimately won that race, but only after those at the Etihad Stadium had been sounded out.

Van Dijk would register on City’s radar two-and-a-half years later, but once again they missed out on his signature as a record-breaking £75 million ($92m) transfer to Liverpool was completed.

He could have been an established star in Manchester by then, but current New York City boss Deila saw his recommendation waved away.

The Norwegian tactician told Si Ferry’s Open Goal: “Did I get in touch with City? Yes. I said you have to take him. They said, ‘okay, tell me the best European game he has played and we will watch it’.

“I couldn’t tell them what game that was because he hadn’t had any real good European games. He was really dominant in Scotland but he got sent off against Inter away.

“That was a big test. I think if he had played fantastically in that game, he would have been bought.

“I think the big clubs think Scottish football is too low level and they don’t want to take a chance on a player for that kind of money. In Europe, then you can show how good you are. I think van Dijk was good, but he didn’t have that one really, really good game in Europe.”

Man United Confirm Huge £127m Rise In Debt As Impact Of Covid-19 Is Revealed

Manchester United have confirmed their net debt has risen to £429 million ($525m), an increase of £127m ($155m), in the first three months of the year.

United’s quarterly results, released on Thursday morning, showed the debt has increased by 42 per cent since last year and also highlighted the impact Covid-19 is having on the club financially.

The increase, the club say, is down to an overall decrease in cash and cash equivalents, with adverse movements in the pounds sterling to US dollars exchange rate.

The results show finances up until March 31, which includes three weeks where games were suspended due to the pandemic, and the club said they will revise predicted revenues of between £560m ($685m) and £580m ($710) for this year because of the financial impact of the coronavirus.

“Operationally, the impact of the pandemic and measures to prevent further spread continues to disrupt businesses in a number of ways, most significantly in broadcasting and matchday operations,” the report said.

The club’s chief financial officer Cliff Baty also confirmed on a call to investors that the financial impact of Covid-19 up until March 31 was £23m ($28m).

This figure comprised the money they are expected to have to pay back broadcasters plus lack of revenue from a Premier League away game at Tottenham, postponement of home games and the temporary closure of the Megastore and museum.

Broadcast revenue, meanwhile, was down by over 50 per cent from the previous year, to £26m ($32m), and the club expect they will have to pay back broadcasters around £20m ($18m) as a result of games not being shown due to the pandemic.

Loftus-Cheek Expects Chelsea To Challenge For The Premier League Title

Ruben Loftus-Cheek believes Chelsea’s exciting young squad are capable of competing for major honours in the near future, with the 24-year-old hoping to aid that cause.

The England international was closing in on a return to action before English football shut down amid the coronavirus pandemic.

A serious Achilles problem has kept him stuck on the sidelines for 12 months, with Frank Lampard yet to be put in a position where he can call upon another home-grown star.

Loftus-Cheek has, however, worked hard to get himself back to full fitness and intends to be in contention for minutes whenever a green light is given for the Premier League to resume in 2020.

He told Chelsea’s official website:

“I was back training before lockdown but only just so I’ve been doing a lot of what the other boys have been doing, general fitness stuff, but I’ve also had some individual responsibilities to keep my Achilles in check, just to stop any further injuries. It’s been calf workouts and stuff like that, just keeping my body strong for whenever we go back.”

The highly-rated midfielder added on his injury struggles: “It was frustrating for sure.

“I’ve put a lot of hard work into getting fit and had just finished what was kind of like my pre-season. I was training with the group and then doing my own stuff afterwards with the fitness coaches, which was really hard trying to get fit to play as quickly as possible.

“I’d been doing that for weeks and weeks and started to feel like I was very close but then lockdown came. It was frustrating but that’s life – I’ve just had to carry on keeping fit by myself.

“At the start of the season, I was still injured and at the start of my rehab but I didn’t know it would go on for so long.

“I thought it would be quicker so I had in my head if I can get back around midway through the season then I can hopefully build up my fitness and be sharp to be in contention for the Euros.

“Obviously it didn’t happen like that and it took me a long while to feel good in my body after my injury and have the confidence. Having the tournament next summer now is a good opportunity for me to stay injury-free, stay healthy and try to play my best football for when the time comes.”

Read How Lukaku Didn’t Lay ‘A Finger’ On Chelsea’s Champions League Trophy

Romelu Lukaku admits to having not laid “a finger” on the Champions League trophy when Chelsea conquered Europe in 2012, with the Belgian still resenting Andre Villas-Boas for leaving him out of a successful squad.

The potential of a powerful Belgian striker was bought into by the Blues following the appointment of the Portuguese coach who was intended to follow in the footsteps of Jose Mourinho. However Villas-Boas would last only a matter of months at Stamford Bridge, with Roberto Di Matteo eventually replacing him on an initial interim basis.

Chelsea went on to claim a maiden continental crown under the Italian tactician who had become a firm fan favourite in his playing days.

Lukaku, who was just a teenager and made only 12 appearances in his debut campaign, was invited to travel with the squad that lifted the most prestigious of prizes in Munich.

He had, however, been overlooked for that competition by Villas-Boas and took little joy from the celebrations which followed a thrilling penalty shoot-out victory over Bayern.

Reflecting on that time, Lukaku told HLN:

“Di Matteo told me that I would stay with the group until after the final. He thought everyone should come along, including the ones who were suspended and the few boys who were not in the Champions League squad. I am also grateful to him for that.”

He added:

“This win is one of the things I’ve always dreamed about. You want to celebrate something like that with the team at that time. That is nice in itself at the age of 19. I am happy for the whole club, but there is one man who took a lot from me: the previous trainer (Villas-Boas). I will never forgive him for that.”

“I didn’t touch it with a finger. Because I didn’t win this trophy myself.

“This has been the case since I was 11: if I have not contributed anything, it is not my trophy. Only if you have contributed to a cup or a title yourself, you can also show it off.”

It Is Great To Be Back In Training – Liverpool Captain Jordan Henderson

Jordan Henderson is delighted to be back in training and has challenged Liverpool to “pick up where they left off” when the Premier League season resumes.

The Liverpool captain joined his team-mates as they returned to Melwood on Wednesday following a two-month hiatus caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

Liverpool, like all Premier League sides, are working in small groups and following social distancing guidelines as they wait for the resumption of contact training, but Henderson says he and his team-mates are just happy to be back on the grass – even if the outbreak has put things in perspective.

“It’s been great to get back and see the lads, get the balls out and be able to pass into each other and interact a little bit,” he told Sky Sports’ Patrick Davison.

“It’s been really good and something I’ve looked forward to for a while now.

“I think a lot of lads will be the same. Football is taken away from you and it’s obviously difficult because at the end of the day it’s the most important thing to us.

“But then something like this happens and it puts everything in perspective. I feel lucky to be in the position that I’m in.

“You have a lot of time to reflect and think about things, but ultimately I was itching to get back playing football as soon as possible once everything had calmed down a bit and it was safe to do so.”

Tottenham Means The World To Harry Kane – Rose

Tottenham defender Danny Rose says the club “means the world” to Harry Kane, while also revealing the striker has a nasty streak.

Kane’s future has been the subject of speculation in recent months, partly fuelled by the player himself after he confessed he would have to leave Spurs if they could not match his ambition.

The England captain has always stated his desire to win trophies with Tottenham and Rose, who is currently on loan at Newcastle, says that is obvious.

“With Harry, we all hope his goals and his performances will merit a trophy one way or another during his career, but Tottenham means the world to him,” he told the Lockdown Tactics podcast.

“We know that and when you see him disappointed, it’s just one of those things that when you’re on Harry’s team in training you win. It’s not a coincidence.

“You just don’t want to be on a losing side when you’re on Harry’s side, even in training. He’s got that aura that you want to do the best you can.”

Ooops!! Arsenal & Man United Target David Wants Bundesliga Move

Gent star Jonathan David says he is ready to move to a bigger club and has his sights set on the Bundesliga.

Bayern Munich are reportedly considering a summer bid for the 20-year-old Canada international, but domestic rivals RB Leipzig and Premier League duo Arsenal and Manchester United have also been credited with interest in him.

David has blossomed into a key player for the Belgian outfit, scoring 23 times in 40 appearances in the 2019-20 campaign.

The Brooklyn-born attacking midfielder is surprised by the calibre of clubs trying to sign him and feels it is time to move on to bigger and better things.

“I never knew big clubs would be interested in me so early. It’s overwhelming, but I think I can make the next step,” he told Sky Sports. “It’s time for me to move and go somewhere where I can keep developing and get to the potential that I have.

“The league that would suit me the most right now is the Bundesliga. It’s similar to the Belgian league in terms of the tempo and the physicality, but obviously the quality is higher in Germany and there is more competition.”

Man Utd confirm new deal for 20-year-old defender

Manchester United have confirmed that 20-year-old defender, Max Taylor, has signed a new one year contract with the club.

The Red Devils disclosed this in a statement on its official website on Wednesday.

The statement read: “Manchester United defender Max Taylor has signed a new one-year extension to his current deal.

“Taylor, 20, has been with United since he was 14.

“Taylor featured six times for United in Premier League 2 this season before joining Stalybridge Celtic on loan in January and enjoying his first taste of senior football.

“He was on the bench as an unused substitute last November in the Reds’ Europa League group game against Astana in Kazakhstan.

“United sat second in the Premier League 2 table, three points behind West Ham United with a game in hand before the season was ended due to the COVID-19 global pandemic.

“The Mancunian also featured as United took part in their first Leasing.com Trophy campaign, against opponents from League One.”

Taylor was diagnosed with testicular cancer in 2018 but in September returned to training for the first time in 11 months.

Watford player, Adrian Mariappa tests positive for coronavirus

England and Watford defender, Adrian Mariappa, has revealed that he tested positive for the deadly coronavirus disease.

Mariappa while confirming he contracted the virus, said he is yet to figure out how he got it after barely leaving the house during the lockdown.

He said, “Ever since I got my positive result back on Tuesday, I have been scratching my head to try to work out how I might have got coronavirus.

”It was a big surprise because I haven’t really left the house, apart from some exercise and the odd walk with the kids. I have mainly just been homeschooling and keeping fit.

”My lifestyle is very quiet, certainly no parties or going out or anything, so I really don’t know how I got it.

“Like most people, we have been having more deliveries of food and things, so maybe that’s one way, and my partner has been to the supermarket a few times.

“The club doctor called to tell me and, to be honest, I did ask whether it could be 100 per cent accurate or whether my results could have got muddled up.

“Maybe if I had been displaying any symptoms then it might have made sense but in my head it wasn’t adding up.

”But I have not had any symptoms and I’ve felt as fit as ever, probably fitter because I’ve been working really hard.

“I have been following my training programme and I’ve not felt out of breath or ill, or anything.

”We have been fully monitored the whole time and the club have been able to track our distances and things.

” l have been really excelling in all of that and feeling great.

”It’s quite scary how you can feel absolutely fine and not really have left the house, and yet still get the virus.

“ If it wasn’t for the fact I had gone back to training and had this test, then I’d never have found out that I had the virus and I would just be getting on with things as normal. That’s obviously quite a strange thought.”

Recall that the English Premier League, EPL, had announced that six people have tested positive for the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) from three clubs after the first phase of mass testing.

EPL: Chelsea announce deal for goalkeeper

Chelsea have confirmed the club has exercised an option to extend goalkeeper Willy Caballero’s contract by one year.

Caballero’s former deal was due to expire on June 30.

He will now certainly be available for the Blues’ final games of the Premier League season should it resume.

Speaking to the club’s official website, Caballero said: “It is a difficult time for everyone right now so I feel blessed by this opportunity and truly appreciate it. I want to thank my team-mates for helping me to be my best and I want to thank the boss and the club for extending my contract.

“I’m sure they will continue to demand the maximum from me and I will compete with the same energy as always. I am very happy.”

The former Manchester City ‘keeper has featured nine times for Frank Lampard’s side this season.

COVID-19: Victor Moses’ value drops as Inter Milan eye deal

Inter Milan have made it clear they are not ready to pay £10.75million for Victor Moses, the UK Sun reports.

The former Nigeria international is owned by Chelsea and Inter have informed the Premier League side they value him at £6m.

The Serie A club believe the financial impact of the COVID-19, means there is no plenty of money to spend this summer.

Moses currently has one year left on his Chelsea deal.

Inter coach, Antonio Conte, has proposed that the winger should be loaned again for whole of the 2020/2021 season, but the Blues are unlikely to agree to that.

Moses has been loaned out to five different clubs since joining Chelsea in 2012 including Liverpool, Stoke City, West Ham, Fenerbahce and Inter.

Jurgen Klopp Is More Than A Legend At Mainz 05 – Awoniyi

Nigeria’s Taiwo Awoniyi said Jurgen Klopp’s impact at Liverpool is similar to what he is seeing at Mainz 05.

Awoniyi joined the Bundesliga outfit on a season-long loan last summer after finding it difficult to break into Klopp’s team at Anfield.

Despite his distance from Liverpool, the Nigeria youth international disclosed the influence of the Reds’ manager at Mainz, where he spent 18 years as a player and a coach.

“He’s more than a legend here. Everyone is so grateful for all he achieved for the club,” Awoniyi told the Liverpool website.

“The love they have for him at the club is unexplainable.

“When I came to the club, I was seeing a lot of stuff that I’ve seen in Liverpool as well. I believe it’s just more of the same impact and the same process.

“I believe they are still living on the legacy.”

Upon his return to football on Sunday after the coronavirus lockdown in Germany, the 22-year-old forward broke his Bundesliga duck on his seventh appearance as the O-Fivers grabbed a 2-2 draw against Koln

Transfer: PSG President expresses admiration for Cristiano Ronaldo

Paris Saint-Germain president, Nasser Al-Khelaifi, has openly declared his admiration for Juventus’ Cristiano Ronaldo.

Al-Khelaifi, speaking to France Football, hailed Ronaldo’s unique determination and professionalism.

“Year after year, he shows a unique determination, an extraordinary strength of character.

“He remains motivated by this desire to improve every day and he always pushes his limits.

“I admire this relentless will; he is a great example for all athletes of the future,” he said.

Ronaldo has been linked with PSG in the past, with the mega-rich Ligue 1 champions having previously snapped up names like David Beckham, Neymar, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Kylian Mbappe.

The Portuguese superstar is contracted to Juve for another two years, and will be 37 by the time his current deal finishes.

Ronaldo might however be keen on a new challenge, as he has already won the league in England, Spain and Italy, as well as five Champions League titles.

Update! Chelsea’s Hudson-odoi Under Attack After Police Arrest

Renowned English sports journalist, Piers Morgan, has slammed Chelsea’s Callum Hudson-Odoi after the 19-year-old was arrested on Sunday by police.

It had been reported that Hudson-Odoi was arrested in the early hours of Sunday after a row with a glamour model at his London home at 4 am. (READ HERE)

The England youngster allegedly breached lockdown over the weekend to be with a woman who later called the police and an ambulance.

Reacting to the development, Morgan branded Hudson-Odoi as an ‘idiot,’ adding that the forward should be banned when football returns.

Morgan wrote on Twitter: “These idiots unfairly tarnish the reputations of all footballers, and make a mockery of the ‘safety first’ plan to bring back the Premier League.

“They should be told if they get caught breaking lockdown rules like this, they are banned from playing if football restarts.”

Hudson-Odoi was the first Premier League footballer to announce that he had contracted coronavirus in March, but he has since recovered from the deadly disease.

Transfer: Fred sends message to Man Utd midfielder, Paul Pogba

Manchester United midfielder, Fred, has urged teammate, Paul Pogba, to stay at Old Trafford beyond this summer amid interests linking the France World Cup winner with a move away from the club. Pogba has drawn the interest of Juventus and Real Madrid in the past. The 27-year-old’s current deal at Man United will expire at the end of next season. But Fred ‘really hopes’ Pogba stays at United, adding that the former Juventus star will strengthen Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side next season. “Pogba is a great player,” the Brazilian told Esporte Interativo. “The people who are here daily with him know that. “Everyone who watched the World Cup and watched his football knows that he is a great player. “And for sure, we want him to stay because he’ll add us a lot. “He is a guy who has immense quality, and he is a strong player for the Premier League. “He knows how to play the Premier League. So I am sure I want him to stay because I am sure he will help us a lot. “So, I hope that he stays, and if he stays, I am sure he will be a powerful reinforcement for us next season.”