Arsenal have suffered a blow over their hopes to keep Martin Odegaard, with reports claiming the Gunners have ‘no chance’ of signing the midfielder from Real Madrid.
The 22-year-old has impressed so far during his loan stay from the LaLiga giants, and Arsenal legend Ian Wright is among those to have called for the club to land him permanently.
But Spanish outlet Marca insist Odegaard is still part of Real’s long-term plans, and will NOT be joining Arsenal in the summer.
Not only do Arsenal have no option to turn his loan into a full-time deal, Marca claim Real Madrid ‘do not contemplate’ allowing the Norwegian ace to leave.
Mo Salah could miss Liverpool’s pre-season
Mo Salah could miss Liverpool’s pre-season for the next Premier League campaign, as Egypt have again declared their intention to take the winger to this summer’s Olympics.
The Tokyo Games run from 23 July – 8 August, and with each nation allowed three players over 23 years old in the football competition.
Egypt want Salah to lead their team in Japan, but it would mean the 28-year-old would miss Liverpool’s pre-season and even the start of the new campaign.
The Premier League announced this week the next top-flight campaign will begin on 14 August, a week after it was initially set.
Salah has been named in Egypt’s provisional squad for the tournament this summer by under-23 coach Shawky Gharib, and he said Salah wants to play.
“I have made it known publicly that I would like to have him with us during our Olympic campaign and he did not refuse, which means he also wants to play with us.
“Salah’s participation in the Olympics is supported by the state, represented by the Ministry of Sports and the Egyptian Football Federation, in our joint effort to bring home an Olympic football medal for the first time.”
Gharib has previously admitted Salah would not play in Tokyo unless there was an agreement between the player, Liverpool and Egypt.
Messi Close to Signing New Contract at Barcelona
Lionel Messi is close to signing a new Barcelona contract, according to Nou Camp legend Rivaldo.
The Argentine superstar’s Nou Camp future has been in doubt since he handed in a transfer request last summer, but after agreeing to see out his contract there’s still speculation over his future.
Messi could become a free agent at the end of the current season, but there are reports he could pen a new deal to stay after Joan Laporta was elected as Barca’s president for the second time.
And Brazilian great Rivaldo, 48 – who played for Barca between 1997 and 2002 – believes Messi is definitely staying put. Speaking to Betfair, he said: “Barcelona are massively improving in the last few weeks capitalising on Messi’s superb form and the election of a new president.
“Messi looks much more connected and happier since Laporta’s arrival – a president he knows well.
“For that reason, I’m starting to believe more and more that Messi might reach an agreement with the new board and sign a new contract to stay at the club for a few more years.
“Messi had a confidence boost with the new president election – someone he has a good connection with – raising the chances of him considering to stay for a bit longer.”
Barcelona Are Most Valuable Football Team in The World
Barcelona are the most valuable team in the world after knocking El Clasico rivals Real Madrid off the top spot, ending a 16 year duopoly at the top of the list.
For well over a decade, Real and Manchester United have been the only two teams to have topped Forbes list of the most valuable football teams.
The 13 times Champions League winners have taken top spot on five occasions, whilst the 13 times Premier League winners have been top of the charts a whopping 11 times.
Last year it was Los Blancos who ruled the world again but this year they’ve been replaced by rivals Barca, despite the Catalan giants having financial issues.
According to the report, despite the Covid-19 pandemic hitting clubs in the pocket, the value of clubs still rose by 30% from two years ago.
Barca took number one spot with a value of $4.76 billion, just edging out Real’s $4.75 billion, with Bayern Munich in third with a value of $4.21 billion.
Having dominated the landscape for so long, United are down in fourth with a value of $4.2 billion and Liverpool round off the top five with their value of $4.1 billion.
Barca fans will be extremely relieved to see their team get a boost of good news, after several months that have been hard on the club.
As well as Lionel Messi wanting to leave the club, amidst a poor end to last season, the side also dealt with Josep Maria Bartomeu resigning as president.
The former leader of the club was then arrested, and the club’s offices raided, because of allegations of corruption.
Lesotho’s Makatile Appointed to Southern Africa Cycling Forum
Rammotang Makatile the president of Lesotho Cycling Federation(FCL) has been appointed to the Southern African Cycling Forum board.
His appointment was done during the African Cycling Confederation (CAC) elective annual general meeting in Cairo, Egypt last month.
Makatile’s appointment to the Southern region board will see him becoming an ex officio member in the CAC management committee for the next four years.
Although Makatile was appointed ex officio member of CAC through the regional committee election, he had also been contesting for the post.
However, he later withdrew from the race after he was appointed into Southern African Cycling Forum board which gave him an automatic entry into the CAC management committee.
“I have been appointed to the management board of the Southern African Cycling Forum as well as the ex officio member of the CAC management committee,” Makatile said.
“I was one of the candidates vying for a position in the CAC committee but after I was appointed to the board of Southern African Cycling Forum, I withdrew from the race to create space for another person because I had already qualified to be in the CAC management committee.”
Makatile’s trip to Egypt was financed by the Lesotho National Olympic Committee (LNOC).
According to Makatile, during the CAC AGM, Lesotho also applied to host another phase of the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) Solidarity Project.
The first phase was applied for in 2019 and UCI bought cycling equipment like bicycles, attire, bottles, tyres, and tubes.
The application was only approved last year and the equipment is now in South Africa awaiting shipment to Lesotho.
In the second phase, Makatile said they have applied for financial assistance and they are hopeful that the application will be successful.
“This time around we applied for financial assistance, which will be used for talent identification and women empowerment activities. Fortunately, we have already been guaranteed that our application will be successful.” Makatile said his presence in the board will give Lesotho an advantage in terms of opportunities on continental level.
“Having a representative in the regional and continental boards means we become part of the decision making and gives us a chance to access all the information we need as far as growing the sport is concerned.
“Had I not attended some of the continental conferences, we wouldn’t even have accessed all the assistance that we are getting from UCI. Apart from that, we have managed to network with leaders from other countries to start relationships that will benefit us in the long run,” Makatile said.
Coming Up: Fulham vs Wolves, Friday 8.00pm
Fulham remain in the bottom three and have been there since Boxing Day.
A run of three straight defeats has really left Scott Parker’s team with work to do, especially with Newcastle welcoming back some of their key attacking players for the run-in.
Fulham’s inability to produce streetwise performances have been to blame but there is a lot of experience in that squad and quite frankly some of the players just aren’t delivering.
I think this will be a fourth defeat on the spin for Fulham, who look woefully short at 11/8 with Sky Bet, as Wolves, despite a wobbly season, have shown an ability in matches to put teams under pressure and find game-changing moments.
To the fore of that has been Pedro Neto, who is only behind Bruno Fernandes, Kevin De Bruyne and Raphinha for chances created from open play (14) since the start of February.
The talented youngster has two assists during that period and the chances of him grabbing a third this weekend should be snapped up at 9/2.
Manchester City vs Leeds, Saturday 12.30pm
Has a Premier League football match ever offered up such a big price to finish 0-0? Well, you can get 20/1 with Sky Bet here. It probably should be double that in reality.
City are the top scorers in the Premier League with 66 goals and have found the net 47 times in their last 18 matches whilst Leeds have seen 95 goals scored in their fixtures this season – a Premier League high. Goals should be on the menu in a home win.
You don’t need reminding about Leeds’ inability to defend set piece situations. But I will.
Marcelo Bielsa’s boys have faced 192 shots from a combination of set pieces and corners this season – the third highest in the Premier League. My advice would be to keep an eye on the City teamsheet at 11.30am and see if John Stones is starting.
If he does, then the 6/4 with Sky Bet for him to register a shot on goal looks a fair bet. It’s a shout that would have returned as a winner in all three of Stones’ last Premier League appearances and in two of those fixtures he managed to find the net.
He’s very skinny at 4/1 to score anytime, meaning the smart play is to simply back him for a shot.
Liverpool vs Aston Villa, Saturday 3pm
This would be an easier game to call if Jurgen Klopp let us know which of his Liverpool teams are going to turn up here.
The one that cantered past Arsenal and Tottenham or the clumsy and unimaginative ones that lost to Burnley, Everton, Fulham and Brighton at home?
The Reds had won their opening seven Premier League games at Anfield this season before failing to win any of last eight – surely that run has to end here?
Villa may have beaten Fulham 3-1 last weekend but they played ponderous attacking football for large spells of that game.
Their expected goal figure of just 9.9 in their last 10 Premier League matches – the third lowest in the league for that period – defines their creativity problems.
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