Man City boast most expensive squad in football history ahead of PSG, Man United and Barcelona

David Cooper 13/02/2018
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Premier League leaders Manchester City have the most expensive squad in history, according to a report published by the Swiss-based CIES Football Observatory.

The research values Pep Guardiola’s squad at £777m, with PSG second on £713m, after a January transfer window in which City signed centre-back Aymeric Laporte from Athletic Bilbao for £57m.

The Sky Blues’ summer spending spree on Kyle Walker (£45m), Ederson (£35m), Bernardo Silva (£43), Danilo (£27m) and Benjamin Mendy (£52m) elevated the Abu Dhabi-owned club to new heights.

Neymar’s world-record signing from Barcelona accounts for more than a quarter of the PSG total but Kylian Mbappe is only on loan, despite an anticipated transfer fee of up to £160m to be paid to Monaco at the end of the season.

That leaves Guardiola managing the costliest-ever collection of talent.

“When you want to compete at the highest level, you need to spend,” Guardiola said last month.

“Some clubs spend 300, 400 million on two players. We spend it on six players.”

Two other teams have spent more than £640m building their squads – Manchester United (£661m) and Barcelona (£641m).

The rest of the top ten is made up of Real Madrid (£439m) in sixth, Juventus (£396m) in eighth and four Premier League teams – Chelsea (£524m), Liverpool (£408m), Arsenal (£356m) and Everton (£323m).

The researchers calculated that the average Premier League squad cost “a record high” of £260 million, more than double La Liga’s average of £116 million.

With La Liga one of the most popular leagues in the world, only three clubs – Barcelona, Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid – make the top 24.

This is in contrast to the Premier League where 12 of the top 25 on the list are English clubs.

Incredibly, three clubs hovering around the relegation zone – Southampton (£202m), Crystal Palace (£199m) and Stoke City (£132m) – are in the top 30.

And Napoli (£180m), who are on the cusp of winning a first Serie A title since 1990, are 21st – two positions behind struggling Palace.

Elsewhere, Everton – currently ninth in the Premier League – outspent Bundesliga giants Bayern Munich (£321m) by £2m.

Toffees boss Sam Allardyce spent £27m on Cenk Tosun from Besiktas and £20m on Theo Walcott from Arsenal last month as the Merseyside club look to climb into the top-8.

In total, 42 out of the 98 clubs on the list have broken the £100m barrier in recruitment, while bottom of the table Ligue 1 club Troyes have spent just £2m.

With the latest Premier League football TV rights deal set to be decided next week, the incredible spending shows no signs of slowing down.

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Xavi reveals Neymar told him of his desire to leave Barcelona at Lionel Messi's wedding

David Cooper 11/02/2018
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Former Barcelona midfielder Xavi has revealed that Neymar told him of his plans to leave the Catalan giants at Lionel Messi’s wedding in July.

The Spaniard, who left the Camp Nou in 2015 after a glittering 24 years at the club, was among the stars to attend the Argentine’s wedding in Rosario.

Speaking in an interview with Tifo Football, the 38-year-old revealed a conversation in which Neymar said he was no longer happy and wanted a new challenge away from Barcelona.

“Neymar had the really big decision to decide his future and he decided to go to Paris Saint-Germain,” Xavi said.

“He said to us at Messi’s wedding that he wanted to change club. And I said to him: ‘But, why?’

“He said ‘I’m not happy in Barcelona. I’d prefer to go out. To have a new experience in Europe in Paris St Germain’. And finally it was his decision. We must respect it.”

Neymar completed his record shattering €222 million move in August, signing a five-year deal with the French club.

Despite the significant loss of his services in attack, Barcelona are on the cusp of delivering another La Liga title as they hold a six point lead over second place Atletico Madrid with a game in hand.

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Nice's Mario Balotelli booked after protesting against racist chants

David Cooper 11/02/2018
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Nice striker Mario Balotelli was booked for protesting to the referee about alleged racist chants during his side’s defeat at Dijon on Saturday night.

The former Manchester City, Liverpool and Italy striker was shown a yellow card by referee Nicolas Rainville in the second half after complaining about the home fans following a missed opportunity.

Balotelli was seen gesturing to the crowd while talking to Rainville in the 72nd minute, but was cautioned for his actions.

Nice tweeted a picture of Rainville booking Balotelli with the caption: “In the meantime, Mario Balotelli has inherited a yellow card, after… getting annoyed with racist insults from the public.”

Nice were 2-1 ahead at the time before conceding two late goals, including a controversial penalty, to lose 3-2, dropping them to eighth in the Ligue 1 table.

Nice president Jean-Pierre Rivere hit out at the standard of refereeing, telling the club’s official website: “I am scandalised.

“It’s been four consecutive games that we have the feeling of playing at 11 against 12. The differences of refereeing from one match to the other are incomprehensible.”

Provided by Press Association Sport

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