Barcelona make surprise acquisition in bid to find French stars like Ousmane Dembele

David Cooper 12/09/2018
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Ousmane Dembele

Barcelona have made a surprise acquisition in the form of beIN presenter Jerome Bigot.

The La Liga champions are delving deeper into the vast talent pools of French football and the Catalan giants, on the recommendation of new sporting director Eric Abidal, have signed the television presenter on a three-year deal as a scout, according to ESPN.

The two worked together while on duty for beIN France and Barcelona legend Abidal is said to have been very impressed by Bigot’s level of knowledge.

French trio Ousmane Dembele, Samuel Umtiti and Clement Lenglet are already key members of Ernesto Valverde’s squad and it is hoped Bigot will be the man to help unlock more talents from the home of the world champions.

According to sources who spoke to ESPN, Bigot has been described as “respectful, loyal and a good professional.”

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Carlos Tevez reveals biggest difference between Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo

David Cooper 12/09/2018
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Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi have endured entwined careers with the arch rivals forming two separate sides of a football debate – natural talent versus acquired skill.

Both players have achieved a mass of success during their careers using their own brand of style, individually and within a team to capture the imagination of global football fans.

And a former team-mate of the two stars has shed light on the stark differences between them.

Former Argentina and Manchester United striker Carlos Tevez waded into the eternal debate to give some background on Ronaldo and Messi’s training habits.

He told Argentine media (h/t Mirror): “Lionel Messi, I never saw him in the gym. I’ve never seen him train to stop the ball or those exercises.

“It is all natural to him, but on penalties he trained: first he did not take them and now he shoots them all at the corner.

“Cristiano always stopped in the gym after training: for him it is an obsession and, being the best in everything, he always arrived at work early.”

Ronaldo is yet to score for new club Juventus but if his work on the training ground is anything to go by, it won’t be long before he breaks his duck.

Tevez continued: “When the training was set for nine in the morning I arrived at eight and he was already there.

“Even if I arrived at 7:30 he was already there.

“I began to ask myself, ‘How can I get rid of this guy?’ So one day I arrived at six but he was already there! Sleepy, but he was there.”

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UAE relieve the pressure on Alberto Zaccheroni with 3-0 friendly win against Laos

Denzil Pinto 11/09/2018
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Ali Mabkhout (second left) scored twice for the UAE.

The UAE got back to winning ways and relieved the pressure – for now – on under-fire coach Alberto Zaccheroni following a 3-0 triumph over Laos in Tuesday’s friendly.

The future of former AC Milan and Japan coach Zaccheroni intensified after the Whites suffered a 2-0 loss to a Trinidad and Tobago side that had only trained 24 hours before the game.

Defeat against minnows Laos was not an option if Zaccheroni wanted to still be at the helm for January’s AFC Asian Cup on home soil. The 65-year-old will have more time to prove that he is capable of delivering success in next year’s showpiece event after Tuesday’s positive result, which ended a winless run of five consecutive games.

During that poor run, Zaccheroni lined up his team in 3-4-3 formation but at Catalonia’s Estadi Palamos Costa Bravo, set up his troops in a 4-2-3-1.

He will have to thank Omar Abdulrahman and Ali Mabkhout for setting up the victory after they found the back of the net in Spain. Both were dropped by Zaccheroni after leaving the team hotel in Kuwait outside of permitted hours the night before the Gulf Cup final against Oman on January 5.

Against a Laos side ranked 178th in the FIFA rankings, the the gulf in class showed why the UAE are 101 places above their opponents.

From the first whistle, the UAE were on top and enjoyed a lot of possession. Although there was no goal in the first 10 minutes, the signs were there that it was only going to be a matter of time before someone found the back of the net, especially when the UAE had four shots.

Ismail Al Hammadi should have opened the scoring when he beat the off-side trap to find himself in acres of space but shot straight at Laos’ goalkeeper before the defenders cleared the danger.

The UAE were finally rewarded when Mabkhout slotted home in the 23rd minute and the Al Jazira striker doubled the team’s tally two minutes later.

Abdulrahman made it three in the second-half with a sensational 25-yard effort but it should have been a lot more given their superiority in the game.

Regardless, the UAE got the job done but greater tests lie ahead of their Asian Cup opener against Bahrain on January 5.

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