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    Arsenal fans fume at ‘underwhelming Xhaka downgrade’ as Gunners battle Barcelona for ex-Newcastle star transfer

    ARSENAL fans have been left fuming at an “underwhelming Granit Xhaka downgrade” as they battle Barcelona for Spain ace Mikel Merino.The former Newcastle star has spent the past six years with Real Sociedad, helping them become one of LaLiga’s top sides.Arsenal are targeting a move for Spain and Real Sociedad star Mikel MerinoCredit: GettySome fans believe the Barcelona target is a downgrade on Granit XhakaCredit: GettyBut Merino’s contract expires at the end of next season.And clubs are preparing to go to war over his signature.Barcelona are thought to be leading the chase for Merino, who operates as a deep-lying playmaker.But Catalan chiefs fear Arsenal could hijack the move as Mundo Deportivo claims Mikel Arteta sees him as a Xhaka replacement.READ MORE ARSENAL NEWSThe Swiss star left for Bayer Leverkusen last summer, helping them win their first ever title.Arsenal used both Thomas Partey and Jorginho in Xhaka’s place despite signing Declan Rice for £100million.But Arteta wants a new No6 to take control of midfield and allow Rice to push forward in attack.Merino’s profile fits the bill, while his experience means he will be expected to hit the ground running.Most read in FootballEURO 2024 FREE BETS AND OFFERSHowever, some Arsenal fans are not keen on the proposed move.One said: “An underwhelming Xhaka downgrade.”Meet the Arsenal Wags behind Gunners’ successAnother declared: “Merino in the Xhaka role? I really want Ebe Eze.”One noted: “I really don’t think this is good enough for a team that wants to win the league and challenge for Europe.”But one fan believes Merino would be a good fit.They added: “Merino is a tall Xhaka and a bit faster. Hope we sign him, he is a very good player for midfield.”Arsenal have a tricky start to the season More

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    Chelsea to sign Barcelona’s Marc Guiu, 18, as Blues trigger transfer release clause for star who has played just 7 times

    CHELSEA are reportedly set to sign Barcelona prodigy Marc Guiu after triggering his release clause.The striker, 18, burst on to the scene for his Spanish club this season, scoring twice in seven senior appearances – including after 33 seconds on his debut.Marc Guiu is close to joining Chelsea after they triggered his £5million Barcelona release clauseCredit: GettyHowever, chances under new boss Hansi Flick may be limited as Barcelona look to add at least one new superstar forward.And AS claims Chelsea have now made their move for Guiu by triggering his £5million release clause.The Blues will discuss terms with the teen on a long-term contract.While a potential loan move to French sister club Strasbourg may also be in the works.READ MORE ON CHELSEAGuiu looks set to become Chelsea’s third signing of the summer after Fulham’s Tosin Adarabioyo and Palmeiras’ Estevao Willian, although the latter will not join until 2025.The Blues are also close to a £19m deal for Aston Villa striker Omari Kellyman.And they are also considering a £30m bid for Lille forward Jonathan David, who has 52 club goals in the past two seasons.New boss Enzo Maresca starts his role next week after leading Leicester to the Championship title.Most read in FootballEURO 2024 FREE BETS AND OFFERSThe Italian had been hoping to bolster his ranks with the £55m capture of Crystal Palace winger Michael Olise.But Chelsea pulled out of a move as Bayern Munich struck terms with the Frenchman.Poch in England frame The Londoners are still thought to be keen on landing a wide-man, although they will target a right-footer and not a left-footer.Lille man David can play on the flanks if needed.While a move for Athletic Bilbao and Spain star Nico Williams has already been deemed too expensive.As for outgoings, Ian Maatsen is on the cusp of a £37m move to Aston Villa.And Armando Broja is being chased by several European clubs following his dud loan spell at Fulham. More

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    Former Premier League team-mates unrecognisable as they reunite on punditry duty at Euro 2024

    TWO former Newcastle team-mates looked unrecognisable as they met up while on punditry duty at Euro 2024.The pair bumped into each other unexpectedly during Scotland’s crunch final group clash with Hungary.Warren Barton bumped into former Newcastle team-mate Phillipe Albert at the EurosCredit: Not known, clear with picture deskAlbert, second left, and Barton, far right, played for Toon in the 1990sCredit: PA:Press AssociationOne of them was Warren Barton, who took to social media to share a photo of himself with old pal Phillipe Albert.Barton was on duty for Fox Sports, and he wrote on X alongside the photo: “So happy to see my friend @NUFC Philippe Albert @EURO2024 ❤️⚫️⚪️👍🏻”Fans were also pleased to see the reunion, with the pair part of the iconic Newcastle team under Kevin Keegan in the mid to late 90s.One reacted, saying: “Wow Legendary photo right there.”READ MORE IN FOOTBALLAnother added: “Two legends of our time😍😍”A third wrote: “Everyone knows his name. Legend. I wouldn’t have recognised him tbh.”And another commented: “Absolutely glorious.”Barton, 55, made 219 appearances for Newcastle between 1995 and 2002 and was part of the team that finished as Premier League runners up in 1996 and 1997.Most read in FootballBEST FREE BET SIGN UP OFFERS FOR UK BOOKMAKERSEURO 2024 LIVE: KEEP UP TO DATE WITH ALL THE LATEST NEWS FROM GERMANYAlbert, 56, finished in the same Toon squad, joining in 1994 and leaving after losing the FA Cup final for the second time in two years in 1999.The Belgian made 96 appearances for Newcastle, scoring eight goals.That includes one iconic strike, a magnificent chip over Peter Schmeichel’s head in a 5-0 thrashing of Manchester United in 1997.Scotland fans chant John McGinn song as they take over station on way to Hungary match More

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    Chelsea sold the ‘soul of the team’ by letting three stars go in transfer exits, claims legend Gianfranco Zola

    GIANFRANCO ZOLA has claimed Chelsea sold the “soul of the team” by letting go of three stars last year.The Blues legend claimed this was the start of Chelsea’s struggles that they endured for most of the 2023-24 season.Gianfranco Zola revealed Chelsea let go of the ‘soul of the team’ by letting go of three players in 2023Credit: PA:Empics SportZola, 57, played for the Blues between 1996 and 2003 and made over 300 appearances for the club.And last term Chelsea ended their campaign sixth in the Premier League after a slight improvement in the second half of the season.But Mauricio Pochettino’s side did not have an easy start.According to Zola, selling Kai Havertz and Mateo Kovacic, who joined Arsenal and Manchester City respectively, was a bad decision for Chelsea.READ MORE IN FOOTBALLZola also added that Jorginho’s exit to Arsenal in January 2023 left the Blues without a leader.Zola told Ladbrokes: “Chelsea have had a hard season, especially at the beginning, but they changed a lot.”They put a lot of young players in place and lost a lot of experienced ones like Jorginho, Havertz, and Kovacic. They lost many players who were the soul of the team, the leaders, so it took time to get going.”But finally Pochettino got it working and it was working quite well. It was very surprising to see him leaving.Most read in FootballBEST FREE BET SIGN UP OFFERS FOR UK BOOKMAKERS”And I don’t know the full reasons but obviously from a supporter’s point of view I am disappointed.”Despite Chelsea securing a spot in Europe after a dismal start to the season Pochettino headed out the door last month.Chelsea’s top summer transfer targetsWith a host of players arriving at Stamford Bridge last summer, it was inevitable it was going to take time for those players to settle in.And one who ended up thriving was Cole Palmer scoring 22 Premier League goals.Now for the Blues Enzo Maresca has taken charge in a five-year deal and there has been one new star already at the club after Tosin Adarabioyo made a free transfer from West London rivals Fulham.Chelsea sold Kai Havertz to Arsenal last summerCredit: PAThe Blues also sold Mateo Kovacic to Man CityCredit: PAJorginho left in January 2023 for ArsenalCredit: PA More

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    Chelsea ‘hold talks with Jonathan David’ as Todd Boehly ready to splash more cash on Lille striker

    CHELSEA have held talks with Jonathan David’s representatives, according to reports.The Lille striker has been a long-term target for the Blues and could finally move to the Premier League this summer.Chelsea have reportedly held talks with Jonathan David’s representativesCredit: GettyDavid was keen to join an English club 12 months ago but ultimately remained at Lille.However, after scoring 26 goals across all competitions last season, Chelsea are ready to make their move.The Athletic report talks have taken place with the players’ representatives.David is said to be high on Chelsea’s list of attacking targets this summer.READ MORE IN FOOTBALLMeanwhile, there is hope a reasonable fee can be agreed due to David entering the final year of his contract.Chelsea and Lille also have a good relationship, the report adds, although an approach to the Ligue 1 side has yet to be made.David’s 19 league goals last season were only bettered by top scorer Kylian Mbappe.He has also scored 26 goals in 48 caps for Canada, who he is currently on international duty with at the Copa America.Most read in FootballEURO 2024 FREE BETS AND OFFERSPredominantly a striker, the 24-year-old can also play slightly behind the centre-forward and in attacking midfield.Prior to joining Lille in 2020, he also enjoyed a successful spell in Belgium with Gent.Meet Pep Guardiola disciple Enzo MarescaManchester United are long-time suitors along with Chelsea, with Aston Villa, Arsenal and Atletico Madrid also linked with a move this summer.Elsewhere, Chelsea have already signed defender Tosin Adarabioyo on a free transfer from Fulham.The signing of teenager Estevao Willian has also been confirmed, with the Brazilian joining the Blues in 2025.However, Enzo Maresca missed out on Crystal Palace’s Michael Olise this week, with the winger set to join Bayern Munich instead. More

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    How many children does Cristiano Ronaldo share with Georgina Rodriguez and what are their names? Meet CR7’s kids

    CRISTIANO Ronaldo is one of the greatest footballers of all time.The five-time Ballon d’Or winner’s partner Georgina Rodriguez is cheering him on at Euro 2024 — here we get to know CR7’s children. Georgina Rodriguez is the mother of two of Cristiano Ronaldo’s childrenCredit: ReutersHow many children does Cristiano Ronaldo have?In 2021, Cristiano Ronaldo and Georgina Rodriguez said the birth of their baby gave them “the strength to live this moment.”Cristiano and Georgina announced they were expecting twins in October in 2021.But the Manchester United ace revealed that their baby boy sadly passed away as celebrities paid tributes online.On May 7, 2021, the couple revealed they named the baby girl Bella.read more on ronaldoTo date, Ronaldo has five children, with three of the children born to two surrogate mothers.His first son, Cristiano Ronaldo Jr, 14, was born on June 17, 2010, in the United States.Cristiano Jr’s family nickname is Cristianinho, which means “little Cristiano”.Following in his father’s footsteps, Ronaldo Jr has started playing football at youth level and is already impressing with his goal return.most read in sportOn April, 14, 2022, he was captured executing his dad’s trademark “Siuuu” celebration while playing for Manchester United’s Under-12s.The young ace was also reportedly playing alongside Wayne Rooney’s eldest son Kai at times as well.In June 2017, it was revealed that Ronaldo had fathered twins via a surrogate mother in the United States.The Portugal captain remained with the national team during the Confederations Cup campaign at the same time, only announcing the birth of the pair after Portugal’s penalty shootout loss to Chile.They are named Eva and Matteo.Cristiano Ronaldo’s partner Georgina Rodriguez’s secret training regime ready for the World Cup revealedA month later, Ronaldo confirmed in an interview that he and Georgina Rodriguez were expecting their first baby together.When asked by Spanish news outlet El Mundo whether the player was “happy” to have another child on the way, he replied: “Yes, very much.”Georgina gave birth to baby daughter Alana Martina on November 12, 2017.Ronaldo posted a picture on Instagram, writing: “Alana Martina is just born! Both Geo and Alana are doing great! We are all very happy!'”On April 18, 2022 Georgina gave birth to twins, but the couple announced that sadly one of the two babies died shortly after she gave birth. Cristiano Ronaldo was pictured on a mid-season trip to Dubai with four of his childrenCredit: Instagram @CristianoThey said in a statement: “It is with our deepest sadness we have to announce that our baby boy has passed away.”It is the greatest pain that any parents can feel.”Only the birth of our baby girl gives us the strength to live this moment with some hope and happiness.”Baby boy, you are our angel. We will always love you.”Who is Cristiano Jr’s mother?The identity of Cristiano Junior’s mother is unknown, but Ronaldo Senior has full custody of his son with reports suggesting that his mother was paid £10million.Ronaldo told chat show host Jonathan Ross: “People speculate I was with this girl or another, or there was a surrogate mother. I have never told anyone and never will.”When Cristiano [Junior] is going to grow up, I am always going to say the truth to him because he deserves it, because he is my son, but I am not going to say because people want me to say.” Georgina Rodriguez watching Turkey vs Portugal in Euro 2024 on June 22, 2024Credit: ReutersWho is Georgina Rodriguez?Georgina is the mother of Ronaldo’s fourth child Alana and his youngest daughter Bella.She was born on January 27, 1994, in Jaca, Spain to a Spanish mum and Argentine dad.Georgina learned dance before changing careers to modelling after studying English in London.The 30-year-old was first spotted on a string of dates with then-Real Madrid superstar Ronaldo towards the end of 2016.Georgina has claimed that her first meeting with the football star was “love at first sight.””Our first meeting was at Gucci, where I worked as a sales assistant,” she recalled in an interview with The Sun .”Days later, we saw each other again at another brand’s event.”It was then that we could talk in a relaxed atmosphere, outside my work environment. It was love at first sight for both.” More

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    Jack Grealish posts picture of himself training at Euro giants after Man City and England exile

    JACK GREALISH has shared footage of himself training at the home of a European giant.The winger is currently on holiday as he gets over his Manchester City and England disappointments this summer.Jack Grealish shared a video after a training session at Juventus’ academyCredit: instagram / @jackgrealishThe Manchester City winger was left out of England’s final Euro 2024 squadCredit: GettyGrealish endured a difficult season with City despite winning the Premier League before more woes with the Three Lions.After being named in Gareth Southgate’s 33-man preliminary squad for Euro 2024, Grealish was cut from the final squad list.He now seems to have put it all behind him, though, as he holidays in Italy with girlfriend Sasha Attwood.The 28-year-old posted a video to his Instagram story on Friday night after a session at Juventus’ academy.READ MORE FOOTBALL NEWSAppearing topless and out of breath in the video, Grealish wrote: “8pm, 25 degrees, perfect,” alongside both running and football emojis.Grealish had previously revealed he had been working up a sweat during the trip.He shared details of a morning run in 24 degree heat with his social media followers.His England snub came after playing a key role at each of the previous two major tournaments.Most read in FootballHowever, Grealish will not be adding to his 36 caps this summer after mustering just three goals and three assists for City last season.CASINO SPECIAL – BEST CASINO WELCOME OFFERSENGLAND vs DENMARK RATINGSENGLAND stumbled to a drab 1-1 draw with Denmark.
    Here’s how SunSport’s Tom Barclay rated the Three Lions team.
    Jordan Pickford: 6
    Looked a little jittery early doors, though there was nothing he could do about Morten Hjulmand’s corker and he made a decent parry after the break.
    Kyle Walker: 7 
    Made England’s opener by racing round a sleeping Victor Kristiansen – he’ll be having nightmares of that forevermore – and teeing up Kane via a deflected cross.
    John Stones: 6
    OK but you have got to wonder how fit he feels having barely played for Man City in the second half of the season, plus his injury and illness issues over the last month.
    Marc Guehi: 8 and my star man
    Really encouraging again from the Crystal Palace centre-back, looking sharp with his interceptions and assured in distribution.
    Kieran Trippier: 6
    Like Stones, he was fine, but England really need Luke Shaw back ASAP because having no natural left-footer at left-back is a problem.
    Trent Alexander-Arnold: 5
    This experiment of playing Trent in midfield is far from convincing, especially when his passing was off it like it was here, barring one good ball to Saka. Subbed on 54 minutes.
    Declan Rice: 5
    Had to cover so much ground as England dropped worryingly deep in the first half and also lost it a few times in front of his back four.
    Bukayo Saka: 7
    Not quite as electric as his first half against Serbia, but another solid showing from our right winger who has been our most consistent attacker across the two games.
    Jude Bellingham: 6
    Nowhere near the majestic display he put in against Serbia and one of many who looked tired.
    Phil Foden: 7
    Was far more involved than against Serbia – although that was not hard – and had a few dangerous efforts from range, including one that smacked the post after the break.
    Harry Kane: 6
    Netted his 64th goal for his country with an opener he could not really miss, but then gave the ball away from Denmark’s leveller. Surprisingly subbed.
    SUBS:
    Conor Gallagher (on for Trent, 54): 7
    Vital clearance on the stretch when Christian Eriksen was lurking and was not afraid to put his foot in.
    Ollie Watkins (on for Kane, 70): 6
    Played in by Bellingham’s lovely ball after coming on but could not finish from an acute angle.
    Jarrod Bowen (on for Foden, 69): 6
    Copped a nasty tackle which saw Joakim Maehle booked.
    Eberechi Eze (on for Saka, 69): 6
    On for his tournament bow though he was rarely involved.

    A series of injury setbacks hampered his form, including a hamstring issue at the start of the campaign.Grealish’s City future is also now uncertain, with three years remaining on his contract.Play Foden & Bellingham centrally & go for it! | Jack Wilshere’s plan to win the EurosThe arrival of Savio this summer is set to provide even more competition on the wing.Jeremy Doku joined Pep Guardiola’s side 12 months ago before displacing Grealish in the side.EURO 2024 LIVE: KEEP UP TO DATE WITH ALL THE LATEST NEWS FROM GERMANY More

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    Mauricio Pochettino in frame for England job after finally agreeing £10million Chelsea pay-off

    MAURICIO POCHETTINO has finally agreed a £10million Chelsea pay-off that frees him up as a contender for the England job if it comes up.The Argentine would be a candidate to replace Gareth Southgate should the England manager go after the Euros.Mauricio Pochettino could be in line for the England job if it becomes availableCredit: GettyGareth Southgate could step down after Euro 2024Credit: GettyPochettino’s pay-off negotiations with Chelsea have finally been settled following his sacking on May 21.And SunSport understands there are no restrictions in the deal to prevent the former Southampton and Tottenham manager taking another job in England.Pochettino’s talks over his severance package complicated interest from Manchester United, who approached him to discuss the Old Trafford job before sticking with Erik ten Hag.The 52-year-old said he was open to staying in England when he returned to Stamford Bridge to manage a team at SoccerAid earlier this month.READ MORE IN FOOTBALLBut with no top Premier League jobs currently available, succeeding Southgate may be his best bet.The FA have yet to compile a shortlist for the next England manager, but given his experience in this country and track record of developing young players – including Cole Palmer at Chelsea last season – Pochettino is viewed as a leading contender.Chelsea’s agreement with Pochettino takes their bill for managerial changes to close to £67m in two years of the club’s new ownership.Thomas Tuchel and Potter both received over £13m in compensation after being sacked during the season, while Potter’s move to West London saw Brighton bank £21m in compensation from Chelsea, who have also agreed to pay Leicester £10m to secure new coach Enzo Maresca.Most read in FootballBEST FREE BET SIGN UP OFFERS FOR UK BOOKMAKERSHow Pochettino and Southgate’s stats compare
    Mauricio Pochettino:

    Total matches managed – 649
    Wins – 319
    Draws – 139
    Defeats – 191

    Gareth Southgate:

    Total matches managed – 282
    Wins – 135
    Draws – 63
    Defeats – 84

    Pochettino’s coaching team of Jesus Perez, Miguel d’Agostino, Toni Jimenez and Sebastiano Pochettino will also receive pay-offs as they were under contract at Stamford Bridge until next summer.Chelsea required some creative accountancy to avoid breaking FFP rules last year following the £1billion transfer splurge by new owners Todd Boehly and Clearlake Capital, but are confident they will comply this season.Premier League sides deducted points and others at riskThe club sold two hotels and car parks at Stamford Bridge to a sister company for £76.5m, which enabled them to reduce a projected loss of £166.4m to a loss of £89.9m.Chelsea were approached for comment.How much have Chelsea spent on managers?The Blues have spent close to £67MILLION on hiring and firing managers over the last two years…
    Thomas Tuchel (January 2021 – September 2022) – £13m compensation
    Graham Potter (September 2022 – April 2023) – £21m compensation to Brighton & £13m compensation after dismissal
    Mauricio Pochettino (May 2023 – May 2024) – £10m compensation plus staff pay-offs
    Enzo Maresca (June 2024 – ) – £10m compensation to Leicester More