Barcelona drop interest in Liverpool's Philippe Coutinho and turn attention to Angel Di Maria

David Cooper 22/08/2017
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Barcelona have ruled out signing Liverpool star Philippe Coutinho and will now focus their efforts on Paris Saint-Germain winger Angel Di Maria, according to Marca.

Liverpool have rejected three bids for the Brazilian, the latest an £118million offer which followed two of £72million and then £90million.

With nine days left of the transfer window, Barca are left with little time to bring in a replacement for Neymar who joined PSG in a €222million deal.

The report in Spain says they will capitalise on the Ligue 1 giants need to balance their books with the acquisition of Neymar alongside their ongoing bid for Monaco star Kylian Mbappe leading to potential Financial Fair Play issues.

The Catalan club are also still pursuing moves for Borussia Dortmund star Ousmane Dembele and Nice’s Ivorian midfielder Jean Michael Seri.

Catalan-based daily sports title Mundo Deportivo earlier today reported those deals were progressing but the La Liga giants are clearly keeping their options open with negotiations for all their targets far from smooth.

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Barcelona are dealt another transfer blow in chase for Nice star Jean-Michel Seri

David Cooper 21/08/2017
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Barcelona’s transfer woes have taken a new turn after France’s sports daily L’Equipe reported the price tag of Nice star Jean-Michel Seri has risen substantially.

Indeed, the Catalan club had hoped to tie up a €40million deal by activating his release clause.

Personal terms are believed to have been agreed with the Ivorian but the reports in France claim the release clause expired in the middle of July.

Barca are now negotiating with the Ligue 1 side who are willing to discuss a deal but will ask for a much higher fee to complete the move.

And an in another setback Nice general manager Julien Fournier has claimed Seri won’t leave this summer.

“We haven’t negotiated with Barca nor do I know of any negotiations lined up in the next few days. They’re just rumours, so we haven’t set a price for Seri,” Fournier told Sport.

“I think the player will stay with us this season. It’s true that he is open to listening to offers but he’s also happy at Nice whether we qualify for the group stages of the Champions League or not.”

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Riyad Mahrez's Leicester performance shows he warrants price tag and other things learned from Arab stars in the Premier League

Alex Rea 21/08/2017
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The Premier League season is two games old and every week we’ll be keeping tabs on at three Arab football stars on show in English football’s top tier.

Riyad Mahrez was the standout as he let his feet do the talking despite persistent rumours surrounding his Leicester future.

Indeed, the Algeria international is the shining example for players seeking a move away from their current club as he laid on two assists in the Foxes win over Brighton.

Elsewhere, Mohamed Salah was surprisingly left on the bench for Liverpool’s win over Crystal Palace but proved vital with his 30-minute role.

Ahmed Hegazi, meanwhile, followed up an impressive West Brom debut with another solid performance as they kept a clean sheet in the 1-0 win at Burnley.

Below is an analysis of the three stars in action.

RIYAD MAHREZ | LEICESTER CITY 2-0 BRIGHTON

Riyad Mahrez wants to leave Leicester and Roma are looming. Instead of throwing his toys out of the pram to push through a move as the two clubs continue negotiations, Mahrez has been exemplary and his price tag will have only gone north after his performance against Brighton.

He was buzzing around the King Power Stadium, the centre of attention and the centre of Leicester’s attack.

Both goals came through him, the first with Shinji Okazaki pouncing after his low shot was saved and the second from a whipped in corner for Harry Maguire to head home.

Leicester value Mahrez at £50million and on this showing he could be worth every penny.

Rating – 9/10

KEY STATS (LEICESTER)

Minutes – 90

Shots – 4 (1)

Assists – 2 (1)

Key Passes – 2 (1)

Passing Accuracy – 87.8% (1)

Touches – 69 (T2)

Passes – 41 (5)

Dribbles – 2 (T1)

Riyad Mahrez

Riyad Mahrez

MOHAMED SALAH | LIVERPOOL 1-0 CRYSTAL PALACE

Jurgen Klopp made five changes from the side which drew 3-3 with Watford and Salah was one who dropped to the bench after the midweek Champions League qualifier against Hoffenheim.

He appeared for the last 30 minutes as the Reds chased a winner and was excellent, injecting some much needed impetus.

A clever run should have led to the opener through Georginio Wijnaldum and he almost scored himself as Wayne Hennessey did well turn away a stunning effort.

A cameo of poise and pace and no doubt he’ll back in the starting XI for the visit of Arsenal.

Rating – 7/10

KEY STATS (LIVERPOOL)

Minutes – 30

Shots – 2 (T3)

Assists – 0

Crosses – 0

Passing Accuracy – 75% (13)

Touches – 20 (12)

Passes – 12 (12)

Dribbles – 1 (T3)

Mohamed Salah

Mohamed Salah

AHMED HEGAZI | BURNLEY 0-1 WEST BROM

No goal this week but the Egypt international was outstanding as he earned man-of-the-match plaudits in West Brom’s win at Burnley.

Of course, it’s still early in his Premier League career but in his first two outings, Hegazi has been a machine and against Burnley the man mountain completely smothered Sam Vokes, making a match-high total for both clearances (11) and aerial duels won (6).

He was cut just above his eye, too, but continued regardless as the 26-year-old is making the transition to English football seamless.

Rating – 7/10

KEY STATS (WEST BROM)

Minutes – 90

Shots – 0

Aerials Won – 6 (1)

Key Passes – 0

Passing Accuracy – 54.6% (9)

Touches – 26 (9)

Clearances – 11 (1)

Interceptions – 1 (T2)

Ahmed Hegazy competes for the ball

Ahmed Hegazy competes for the ball

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