Zinedine Zidane coy on Neymar to Real Madrid suggestions

Phil Casey 12/05/2018
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Real Madrid boss Zinedine Zidane is focused on the end of the La Liga season and the Champions League final against Liverpool in Kiev.

However, the Frenchman was coy when questioned about Neymar possibly joining the club in the summer.

Asked about rumours linking Brazilian star Neymar with a move from Paris Saint-Germain to the Bernabeu, Zidane said: “I’m not the one to decide these things today. I’m worried about what lies ahead.

“After the final there’ll be talks with the club because there’ll probably be changes, but now I can’t talk about anything. Good players are always compatible. There is always chemistry among good players.

“I don’t know if they’re negotiating with Neymar, but I don’t believe they are because what we care about is what we’re doing now. I’ve not asked anyone because I don’t go into that. We have to finish the season well and the rest will come later.

“You’re always going to talk about signings and that’s not going to stop, but it’s not going to change anything in us.

“We’re going in to a final, the fourth in five years, and we’re only focused on that. We’ve got two games to prepare for our final and we’re going to do things well in order to succeed in our final.”

According to Real’s website, Cristiano Ronaldo combined work inside with training on the pitch as he continues his recovery from an ankle injury suffered against Barcelona.

Celta Vigo, who drew at home to Real in January, could welcome back Spain striker Iago Aspas from injury, but winger Emre Mor and midfielder Nemanja Radoja are both doubtful.

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Pep Guardiola urges Sergio Aguero and Raheem Sterling to stay at Man City

Andy Hampson 11/05/2018
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Pep Guardiola does not expect club-record scorer Sergio Aguero to leave Manchester City this summer.

There have been reports Aguero’s former club Atletico Madrid are preparing an offer to lure the 29-year-old Argentina striker back to the Spanish capital.

Aguero’s future has been the subject of recurring speculation throughout Guardiola’s two years in charge at the Etihad Stadium but each time the City boss has played it down.

“I think it’s not going to happen,” said Guardiola. “My desire is it will not happen, but I don’t know.

“It’s happened many times in these press conferences and I said maybe a thousand times Sergio is going to stay until he decides ‘my time here is over’.

“I said it last season and this season many times, and I say it today. That’s why I say it isn’t going to happen, but in football you never know.”

Aguero, who has scored 199 goals for City, is currently sidelined with a knee injury.

City are expected to begin talks with winger Raheem Sterling over a new contract this summer.

The 23-year-old, who has scored 23 goals during an outstanding campaign, has two years left on his present deal.

Guardiola said: “The club, the chairman and myself want him to stay as long as possible.”

Guardiola, who was speaking at a press conference to preview the champions’ final Premier League game of the season at Southampton on Sunday, expects incoming transfer business this summer to be limited.

He said: “I say not too many because we had a high investment last season. It was an old team, 10 or 11 players more than 31 years old and we needed to change that.

“We did it and put all the effort in last season. Now we are going to change some details, like Yaya (Toure) is leaving, but not too much. One, maybe two, but not too many.”

Guardiola hopes to see plenty more from one of last summer’s signings, Bernardo Silva, in future.

The Portuguese has featured in all but four of City’s 56 games this season but only 27 of them have been starts.
Guardiola said: “As long as I’m a coach at Manchester City he’s not going to go anywhere.

“Maybe he didn’t play as much as we wanted but he’s been an amazing part of the team. He connects perfectly with the way we want to play.”

Guardiola seems likely to ensure youngsters Phil Foden and Brahim Diaz are both given medals for their part in City’s title success.

Neither received a medal during the official presentation ceremony after last Sunday’s game against Huddersfield because they have only appeared in four Premier League games each.

The Premier League only ensures players who have played in a minimum of five games receive one, but clubs are permitted to hand out extras to whoever they see fit from an allocation of 40.

Guardiola said: “They are champions. They worked from day one to the last one, training with us and in the locker room. They didn’t play because of my decisions.”

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Departing Man City star Yaya Toure rules out Middle East move, targets Premier League stay

Alam Khan 11/05/2018
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Yaya Toure

Yaya Toure has ruled out a big-money move to the Middle East to finish his career in English football.

The 34-year-old enjoyed an emotional farewell after eight years at Manchester City on Wednesday as the Etihad outfit beat Brighton 3-1 in their final home game of the Premier League season.

Toure was lauded a club legend as he rounded off his City career with a third title.

But, linked to Burnley, Wolves and Everton, he could yet be facing Pep Guardiola’s side next season as he said he would not be chasing riches from clubs in the UAE, Saudia Arabia, Qatar or the Far East.

“Definitely there have been other clubs [making inquiries] but I have to compare all the situations and if it’s good for me or not,” said Toure.

“I will have to take time, thinking as always to choose the right one. Of course I want to stay in England, continue to play and continue to enjoy.

“I have maybe one or two years more to play. To go to China or Abu Dhabi, it looks for myself to get more money. Of course people are going to be happy to get more money, but, for me, that’s not my point of view.”

Having helped turn City into one of the world’s leading clubs since joining from Barcelona in 2010, Toure believes they have a “bright future” as they prepare for new challenges next season.

No team has defended a Premier League title since Manchester United did it in 2009 and the Ivorian midfielder said: “Yes, of course [they can stay at the top]. That’s what we think about and the club think about.

Signing off: Yaya Toure.

Signing off: Yaya Toure.

“The most important thing was finishing this story because I came for this.

“The Premier League is the toughest in the world and I hope they are going to respond to the challenge because next season is going to be tougher.

“Manchester United did it three times in a row, after that it has been difficult to do that [defend the title]. Even Chelsea, they won the league last season and now you see how they are. This league is so tough, with the money all the clubs have, the football is more difficult.

“City spent money to bring in players and now the club is great with a bright future. They have a good manager and we will see what they do next season.”

Toure also expects Kevin De Bruyne to continue his fine form and step up as one of the leaders once he departs.

“I think he’s going to carry on like that,” he added. “You have to keep your mind fresh and continue to work hard. The most important thing is when everything is good it’s OK, but when it’s bad, that time is when you want to see the real champion.

“Next year I will be out and he is going to have this [stronger] mentality. David Silva has two years more, Vincent Kompany, I don’t know, but Kevin is the youngest one. With [Leroy] Sane, Raheem [Sterling], the future looks bright for this football club and I hope it’s going to continue in that way [of dominance].”

With a training pitch at the City Football Academy named after him and a mosaic of him in action, City have honoured Toure’s contribution to the club.

And he added: “I want to thank Sheikh Mansour and chairman Khaldoon. It’s something very important [naming the pitch after me], when the club show you sympathy and love and know what I have done for this club and they show that. That’s why they put this pitch in. I’m proud of this and the kids are going to remember me and it will stay a long long time. I am very happy and proud, few African players have received this.

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