Borussia Dortmund boss defends under-fire Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang

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Borussia Dortmund’s CEO has defended their under-fire star striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, who has been the target of negative headlines in the German media recently.

Dortmund resume their Bundesliga campaign after the winter break on Sunday at home to Wolfsburg with star striker Aubameyang hoping to add to his tally of 13 goals in 15 league games.

He is also just two short of scoring his 100th Bundesliga goal.

However, Aubameyang, last season’s top scorer in Germany, earned heavy criticism in the German media after being suspended last November by the club for turning up late to training and an unauthorised video shoot.

Dortmund captain Marcel Schmelzer recently admitted constant speculation, mostly linked to Chinese clubs, about Aubameyang’s future also distracts the squad.

Aubameyang further irked the media last week after checking his father and brother into the team hotel during Dortmund’s winter training camp in Marbella, Spain, criticism which, Watzke says, was unjustified.

“In all this scrutiny, which is an extravagence as far as I am concerned, we mustn’t forget one thing: Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is a total professional,” Dortmund CEO Hans-Joachim Watzke told German daily Die Welt.

“I don’t like the way he is being presented by the German tabloid media, which is getting ever broader and who, incidentally, will miss him when he doesn’t play here anymore.”

Watzke said France-born Aubameyang’s decision to let family members stay in the team hotel was blown out of proportion and it would have been wrong to have asked them to stay elsewhere.

“For someone from a different culture than ours, that would have been a terrible insult – worse than us pedantic Germans could imagine,” said Watzke.

The Dortmund CEO insists Aubameyang’s family “did not bother anyone. It was a storm in a tea cup. Pierre-Emerick is who he is.”

As to any transfer speculation about the Gabon hot-shot, “there is no agreement with anyone whatsoever, I recommend keeping to the facts,” Watzke added.

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Neymar's move to Paris Saint-Germain was a backwards step, says Brazil legend Ronaldo

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Neymar‘s world record transfer to Paris Saint-Germain from Barcelona was a step backwards in his career, according to ex-Brazil star Ronaldo.

“He’s at PSG now, but sports-wise, this decision he’s taken is a step backwards,” the 2002 World Player of the Year said in an interview with former international Zico’s youtube channel.

“He was at Barcelona and he left for PSG. I played at Barca, but I left for Inter Milan when the Italian league was a lot more competitive.”

Ronaldo, a two-time World Cup winner with Brazil (1994, 2002), spent the 1996-97 season with Barcelona after joining from PSV and then moved to Inter, returning to Spain in 2002 for Real Madrid for five seasons. He went on to play a further year with AC Milan before ending his career at Corinthians.

Neymar cost PSG a world record €222 million ($264 million) in August when he joined from Barcelona.

Ronaldo added that he would like to see Manchester City’s Gabriel Jesus installed up front for Brazil.

“The World Cup’s coming and we need his goals,” he said. “It’s been a long time that we’ve been looking for a number nine.”

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Real Madrid to face Leganes as Barcelona play Espanyol in Copa del Rey quarter-finals

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Modest La Liga outfit Leganes will face their mighty city rivals Real Madrid in their first appearance in the Copa del Rey quarter-finals in their 89-year existence.

Leganes from the Madrid suburbs were pitted against 19-time Cup winners Real in Friday’s draw having progressed to the last eight on away goals in their two-legged last 16 tie against Villarreal on Thursday.

Zinedine Zidane‘s Real laboured to a 2-2 draw with Numancia on Wednesday to progress to the quarter-finals 5-2 on aggregate.

Barcelona, who were watched by their new recruit from Liverpool Philippe Coutinho, cruised through 5-0 for a 6-1 aggregate beating of Celta Vigo, will face Espanyol.

Barca are seeking a 30th Spanish Cup success.

Atletico Madrid were drawn against Sevilla with Valencia up against Alaves.

The first legs are scheduled for January 16-18 with the return legs on January 23-25.

COPA DEL REY QUARTER-FINALS

Leganes v Real Madrid

Espanyol v Barcelona

Atlético Madrid v Sevilla

Valencia v Alaves

Provided by AFP Sport

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