Argentina idol Diego Maradona’s eclectic post-playing career could be set for another twist after he reportedly began talks to become technical director for struggling Mexican second-division club Dorados de Sinaloa.
Maradona, 57, had been expected to become chairman at Belarus’ Dynamo Brest after he surprisingly inked a pre-contract in May for three seasons. This followed a tumultuous exit from Fujairah in April after his failure to gain automatic promotion to the Arabian Gulf League as head coach.
TyC Sports has stated that the controversial joint FIFA Player of the 20th Century is in negotiations to join a side who are winless in the 2018/19 Ascenso MX and sit just two points off the relegation zone in 13th. A major sticking point, however, is his previous agreement with Dynamo that was intended to kick in after World Cup 2018.
The legendary former Barcelona and Napoli forward has also previously unsuccessfully managed Al Wasl and his native Argentina.
Good vibes from the electrifying World Cup 2018 look set to continue during the first international break since its completion.
Teams from across the globe have convened less than two months since France’s thrilling victory in Russia.
Now comes the chance for qualifiers and non-qualifiers to start a new cycle. Whether that be in Europe’s landmark Nations League, or during intriguing friendly clashes.
Here is our selection of weekend fixtures to look out for.
GERMANY V FRANCE
Thursday, Allianz Arena (22:45 UAE)
A blockbuster start is guaranteed in the inaugural Nations League as the last two World Cup winners meet in Munich.
Head coach Joachim Low must show he remains the man to lead Die Mannschaft after their embarrassing group-stage elimination. Manchester City winger Leroy Sane is back after his shock Russia snub, with an injection of youth also being provided by the likes of Paris Saint-Germain signing Thilo Kehrer and Bayer Leverkusen’s teenage playmaker Kai Havertz.
Champions Les Bleus have unsurprisingly retained all fit members of their victorious squad. Only goalkeepers Hugo Lloris and Steve Mandanda are injured.
PORTUGAL V CROATIA
Thursday, Estadio Algarve (22:45 UAE)
Reality now kicks in for Croatia after their dream run to defeat in World Cup 2018’s final.
Head coach Zlatko Dalic must begin plotting a way forward in this friendly after goalkeeper Danijel Subasic, defender Vedran Corluka and striker Mario Mandzukic all retired. Stars Ivan Rakitic, Andrej Kramaric, Ante Rebic and Dejan Lovren will also be missing in the Algarve.
Their absences mean opportunities for the likes of AEK Athens forward Marko Livaja, Gent goalkeeper Lovre Kalinic and Atalanta loanee Mario Pasalic.
For Portugal, Ballon d’Or holder Cristiano Ronaldo requested to be rested during this international break. Benfica centre-back Ruben Dias, Wolverhampton Wanderers midfielder Ruben Neves and RB Leipzig winger Bruma are all youngsters to watch.
ITALY V POLAND
Friday, (22:45 UAE)
It still seems surreal to think Italy missed out on the summer’s global festivities for the first time in 60 years.
Boss Roberto Mancini’s first competitive game, then, will act as a chance to show this national embarrassment was an anomaly – beginning with the charge to Euro 2020.
The Azzurri are bedding in under the new man. Big games are required from emerging Fiorentina forward Federico Chiesa, Chelsea conductor Jorginho and AC Milan goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma.
A total of seven members of the Poland squad play in Serie A, guaranteeing a sense of familiarity in this Nations League clash. Attention for this first game for new tactician Jerzy Brzeczek will centre on Genoa marksman Krzysztof Piatek, whose rattled in a ridiculous seven goals in three competitive matches for his new Italian employers during 2018/19.
ARGENTINA V GUATEMALA
Friday, (07:00 UAE+1)
Argentina must begin to heal the wounds caused by their shambolic run in Russia without talisman Lionel Messi.
The Barcelona icon chose not to be selected for this international break that acts as the first practical test for interim supremo Lionel Scaloni. A friendly against Central America’s Guatemala heralds a new dawn that definitely will not contain retired former captain Javier Mascherano.
Of the new faces, a potential debut for productive Fiorentina striker Giovanni Simeone is a prospect to cherish.
ENGLAND V SPAIN
Saturday, Wembley Stadium (22:45 UAE)
Gareth Southgate’s Three Lions revolution is set to come under an exacting test when Luis Enrique kicks off his Spain reign.
England wildly exceeded expectations with a rejuvenating run to third place. Left-back Luke Shaw was not present then, but a run of games at Manchester United makes him the player to watch at Wembley in the Nations League.
Ex-Barcelona boss Enrique has quickly tried to stamp his name on the squad, initially omitting players who fell in the round of 16 to the hosts. He has big calls to make in net between United’s David De Gea and Chelsea’s world-record-buy Kepa Arrizabalaga, plus the shock call to omit former club charge Jordi Alba should lead to belated opportunity for another Chelsea employee in left-back Marcos Alonso.
Manchester United left-back Luke Shaw has been grilled about his response to manager Jose Mourinho’s criticisms.
Shaw, 23, has returned to the England squad for the first time since March 2017. This follows a spell mired by lasting damage from a serious leg break and a challenging relationship with his club boss.
“Of course, it was a tough two years, but I think mentally I’ve come out stronger, made me want to prove to him that I can do what sometimes he said I couldn’t,” Shaw said.
Watch his full answer below.