Swedish football federation rules out Zlatan Ibrahimovic World Cup return

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Ibrahimovic last played for Sweden at Euro 2016.

Star striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who quit the Swedish national squad in 2016, will not make a comeback for the World Cup in Russia, the Swedish football federation said Thursday.

“I spoke with Zlatan on Tuesday. He said that he has not changed his mind regarding the national squad,” the managing director of the national squad, Lars Richt, said in a statement after the player dropped numerous hints of a possible return.

“It’s a no,” Richt added.

In an appearance on ABC television’s late night Jimmy Kimmel show on April 18, the new star of LA Galaxy teased fans that he may come out of retirement to play in Russia.

Known for his swagger, the athlete said “it wouldn’t be a World Cup” if he didn’t play, adding: “I’m going to the World Cup, yes.”

The 36-year-old, who last played at a World Cup with Sweden in 2006, retired from the Swedish team after the 2016 European Championship.

He said last month he wanted to concentrate on settling into his career in Major League Soccer before thinking about the World Cup.

Ibrahimovic, a father of two, became the latest in a long line of ageing stars to swap the heights of European football for the MLS. He also took a massive pay cut when he left Manchester United for LA Galaxy.

Ibrahimovic has 31 winners’ medals collected in spells with Ajax, Inter Milan, Barcelona, AC Milan, Paris Saint-Germain and Manchester United.

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Egypt in huge World Cup boost as Mohamed Elneny expected back at Arsenal before end of season

David Cooper 23/04/2018
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Arsenal are hopeful Mohamed Elneny will play again this season despite revealing that the midfielder suffered ankle ligament damage against West Ham.

The Egypt international was carried off on a stretcher on the stroke of half-time having fallen awkwardly while competing for the ball with Hammers skipper Mark Noble.

Gunners boss Arsene Wenger said after the 4-1 win that the injury “didn’t look good”.

But the club feel Elneny, 25, could make a return this season and feature in Egypt’s World Cup campaign.

“Further to assessments and scans on Sunday and Monday, we can confirm that Mo Elneny has sustained ligament damage to his left ankle,” read a statement on the official Arsenal website.

“We are hoping that Mo will be available for Arsenal again this season and we are keeping in regular contact with the Egyptian Football Association.

“The midfielder was injured just before half-time during Sunday’s 4-1 home victory over West Ham United. Further updates will be made in due course.”

Elneny recently signed a new long-term deal at the Emirates Stadium having developed into a regular member of Wenger’s first-team squad.

The former Basel midfielder has started 26 games this season, including the last four across all competitions, scoring his only goal of the campaign in a 6-0 Europa League group-stage win over BATE Borisov.

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Injured Neymar pencils in mid-May return to Paris - a month before World Cup with Brazil

David Cooper 22/04/2018
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Brazilian superstar Neymar is expected back in Paris a month before the World Cup begins in Russia, French media reported on Sunday.

Paris Saint-Germain forward Neymar has been recovering in his homeland since undergoing surgery on a broken bone in his foot on March 3.

He had been injured playing for PSG in a league match against Marseille on February 25, just before a crucial Champions League last 16 second-leg clash with Real Madrid.

French newspaper L’Equipe said he will return to Paris in “mid-May at the latest” to take part in PSG’s end of season celebrations.

RMC radio, though, said he would be back in “early May” to complete his rehabilitation in Paris alongside his two physiotherapists.

His injury sparked a club-versus-country tug-of-war as PSG wanted to try to get Neymar fit in time to play against Real while Brazil were eager to wrap him in cotton wool to ensure he is firing on all cylinders at the World Cup, starting on June 14.

Brazil won that battle as Neymar went under the knife as PSG were sent crashing out of Europe.

PSG’s last match is on May 19 against Caen, after which they will celebrate their success in regaining the Ligue 1 title, winning the League Cup and perhaps also the French Cup — they play third-tier Les Herbiers in the final on May 8.

Earlier this week, Neymar said he was due to undergo tests on May 17 to determine whether he is fit to start playing again.

It means he is almost certain to play no further part in PSG’s season but that would leave him a month to regain match sharpness ahead of the World Cup, something he said on Tuesday he was confident of doing.

“I will arrive better than I was before,” he said at a publicity event in Sao Paulo.

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