Less than a month after leaving Fujairah following their failure to secure automatic promotion to the Arabian Gulf League, the 1986 World Cup winner was unveiled as the Belarusian outfit’s new chairman last week in Abu Dhabi.
The 57-year-old will officially begin his new role in July after the World Cup in Russia and will be tasked with handling first-team matters, plus the club’s academy.
The World Cup 1986 winner’s appointment has raised Brest’s profile in the sporting world for now and Ivanauskas admits bringing in a man like Maradona is a big boost for the club.
“Of course. Everybody has opinions about Diego,” said the 51-year-old. “For us, it’s just win-win situation. We can’t lose. We need to take from Diego his experience.
“Not just as a player – as a player he’s a legend. But also how he works with the Argentina national team, how he worked here in the Emirates and in other countries. For us it’s the experience. It’s a good deal and everybody is very, very lucky.”
Ivanauskas confirmed the club first made contact with Maradona late last year but only on the possibility of arranging friendlies with Fujairah. Once he was no longer their coach, Brest made their move but the Lithuanian says there are no immediate plans for the Al Wasl and Argentina coach to take the reins.
“We saw the chance to take Diego, which you have maybe one time in your life, we got him and for us was a very, very big opportunity,” he said. “Also for the players and for everybody in Belarus. Diego is the name, Diego is chairman, Diego is boss.
“And we think the experience he can give them, as a player, a coach, a manager and also an ambassador of the world, is very important for us.”
Brest are currently eighth in the top-flight, but lifted Belarusian Cup earlier this month. The icon has promised a number of Emirati players will follow him to Belarus as they bid to qualify for the Europe League’s main stage.
And Ivanauskas insists the club will support Maradona is whatever reinforcements are required.
He said: “We welcome that. We were talking with Diego some days ago and he knows exactly our situation with the team and he knows exactly want we need.
“Diego’s thinking about [signing Emiratis], but for now he’s concentrating on our team and also his commitments for the World Cup. We have a little bit of time before the Europa League qualifier, so if Diego says ‘this player can help us’, they’re welcome.”
Then, in his post-match interview, the Welshman seemed to issue a ‘come and get me’ plea to any potential suitors.
Labelled injury-prone and out of the side for much of this season, Bale’s brace nevertheless underlined his undoubted quality. And with a parting of the ways seemingly the best decision for both parties this summer, there will surely be plenty of clubs clamouring for the winger’s signature.
Here, Matt Jones looks at possible landing spots for the forward.
In many ways the perfect destination for Bale. The Welshman’s guile, ingenuity and searing pace would be a welcome addition to a team that has swashbuckling attacking etched into its DNA, but has been sorely missing players to carry on the club’s traditions in the years since Sir Alex Ferguson retired.
Bale has long been linked with a move to Old Trafford, with United twice being rebuffed in the past. Transfer talk has cooled in a season where the former Tottenham man has seen little action – his 39 games in all competitions the third fewest in his five-year stint in white.
Despite this, however, his 21 goals is still his second-best tally. And this in what is derided as having been his worst season, certainly in terms of the criticism he has attracted.
Calf injuries have blighted Bale’s career and over the course of a campaign these have continuously doused enthusiasm among a large number of the United fanbase, many of whom would previously have welcomed the Welshman with open arms.
But following a starring role in the final, Bale insisted he had been fit bar a six-week period at the start of the 2017/18 campaign – thus perhaps rekindling desire among Red Devils fans for United to fire in a bid.
And he would certainly be a perfect acolyte for boss Jose Mourinho, with his appetite for the defensive side of the game and ability to destroy defences a perfect formula the Portuguese likes to concoct in his widemen.
With Mauricio Pochettino signing a five-year deal days after the Premier League season ended, it stands to reason that the famously prudent Spurs chairman Daniel Levy will be more willing to loosen the purse strings this summer.
Apart from tying down one of the brightest managers in the European game down to a long-term deal, it is clear Spurs need to spend after a 2017 summer in which they were very prudent but cleverly kept hold of their prized assets and remained competitive during 2017/18.
However, despite their attractive brand of football, Spurs have little to show for it. The 2007/08 League Cup is their sole piece of silverware in a barren period spanning nearly three decades – scant reward for a team that nevertheless play some pretty football.
For all their bating of North London rivals Arsenal, the much maligned Arsene Wenger won three FA Cups in a final five years considered barren.
A return to London would not only script a sentimental homecoming for Bale, but a stellar name to add to a burgeoning attacking corps that includes Harry Kane, Christian Eriksen and Dele Alli would certainly make them a more formidable outfit, as well as possibly securing the services of their top stars for the foreseeable future.
Spurs are reported to have first option on their former charge. But when you factor in that Bale’s current wages are £350,000 after tax and more than double that of Spurs’ highest earners, as well as payment for a shiny new stadium, swapping one white shirt for another appears remote.
Apart from leaving Spurs initially five summers ago, Bale rippled the waters further when, in one of his first interviews with Spanish media, he revealed he was a boyhood Arsenal fan.
Spurs fans were wound up further when Bale wished their rivals good luck in the FA Cup final against Aston Villa on social media.
The Gunners would appear more able to match Bale’s wage demands than their neighbours and it would be a statement signing for new boss Unai Emery, who may also hope to persuade the Welshman that wonderful things are about to happen once again at the Emirates.
After all, whose interest wouldn’t be piqued by having Mesut Ozil, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Alexandre Lacazette, Aaron Ramsey and Jack Wilshere – if he stays – as team-mates?
The mild-mannered Bale though doesn’t seem the sort of player who would leap into the flames by jumping into the arms of Spurs’ hated rivals.
And, more importantly, Arsenal’s current malaise is hardly the most attractive option open to the Welshman. The Gunners have just completed a miserable season in which they not only finished below Spurs for the second successive season – but there is also no Champions League football for the second-straight year.
And having become accustomed to a certain standard of competition at the Bernabeu and playing a starring role for his team and earning a fourth Champions League winners medal, he surely has no desire to take a seat at European football’s inferior table.
If he’s become accustomed to life on the continent, then a transfer to Turin could be a timely move for Bale. A huge and passionate fan base to rival Los Blancos and the Bianconeri faithful would certainly revel in a stellar arrival from Madrid.
Juventus would provide Bale with regular foray into Europe and he would surely plunder goals galore in Italy, where a more ponderous pace suits a player entering his prime but also with his twilight years on the horizon.
In a season which yielded the most serious threat to their stranglehold on Serie A in the last seven years from Napoli, a boosting of the ranks is rapidly required by manager Massimiliano Allegri.
It’s a signing that makes perfect sense for the Italian behemoths. For all their dominance domestically, Juve have consistently fallen short in Europe. The Old Lady have been the bridesmaids and not the bride in two of the past four Champions League finals, and acquiring the services of a tried and tested match-winner is exactly the sort of signing they should be inking in order to take the next step.
The ‘who’s better’ debate will rumble on well after Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi have hung up their boots, and their record-breaking goal scoring in the Champions League has added further fuel to an already raging debate.
First off, only two players have ever made it into the Champions League 100 club, and there’s no surprise it’s these guys – the question is, who got there first?
Let’s start with Messi. He began his Champions League goal scoring back in 2005 against Panathinaikos, capitalising on some disastrous defending. Years of consistent goals followed including a rare header from the 5’7” Argentine against Manchester United in the 2009 final. He notched his first Champions League hat-trick against Arsenal at the Nou Camp in 2010, where he scored four in a 4-1 win.
The forward returned to haunt Manchester United again in the 2011 final at Wembley when he struck his 37th Champions League goal. Later in the calendar year Messi scored his second European hat-trick against minnows Viktoria Plzen. The following season saw Messi grab his third hat-trick against Leverkusen in 2012. Messi walked off with his fifth Champions League match ball in 2014 after tearing apart APOEL in a 0-4 win.
He continued his incredible goal scoring in 2016 when he notched his ninth goal in the competition against Arsenal, thus setting the record for most goals scored by a player against a single club. In the same year he got his sixth Champions League hat-trick against Celtic. Manchester City couldn’t stop the little magician scoring for fun as he bagged his seventh treble in a Champions League game.
He finally reached the 100-goal landmark in March 2018 with a brace against Chelsea. In total, it took the Barcelona talisman just 123 games to reach the feat.
How does that compare to Cristiano Ronaldo?
Ronaldo’s first European goal came for Manchester United against Debreceni in 2005. He scored ten more goals in the competition before planting a header against Chelsea in the 2008 Champions League final, which saw Manchester United win the competition on penalties.
The Portugal captain finally netted himself a Champions League hat-trick in 2012 as his Real Madrid side saw of Ajax 4-1 in 2012. A year later he scored his 50th European goal against Turkish side Galatasaray, and then netted his second CL hat-trick against them later on in the year.
Real Madrid won the competition in 2014 with help from Ronaldo’s spot kick against rivals Atletico Madrid and in 2015 he scored his third European hat-trick with a reactive header against Shakhtar. In the same season Malmo fell victim of his non-stop goal scoring as he netted yet another Champions League treble, the fourth of his career. He also set the record for the most goals scored in a Champions League group stage with 11 goals. A stunning free-kick capped his sixth Champions League hat trick against Wolfsburg in 2016.
He finally reached the 100 club in 2017 against Bayern Munich.
So, having made it to 100 European club goals on 18 October 2017 against Olympiacos, Messi (who also has three UEFA Super Cup strikes) became the second man to achieve a century in the senior UEFA competition after Cristiano Ronaldo. The Real Madrid forward was also the first to get 100 for a single club with his opening strike versus Paris Saint-Germain on 14 February 2018.
However, Ronaldo needed 144 games to register his 100 UEFA Champions League goals, Messi just 123.
So Ronaldo was first, but Messi was quicker. Who’s better? The debate goes on.
Octo Finissimo Automatic A Third World Record for Bulgari
Bulgari is once again the spotlight, proudly presenting its third successive world record.
The Octo Finissimo Automatic is the slimmest ultra-thin self-winding watch on the market to date.
After introducing its Tourbillon in 2014 and the Minute Repeater in 2016, the Maison unveils its new creation featuring a total thickness of just 5.15mm, while its self-winding movement is just 2.23mm thick for a 40mm diameter.
The iconic Octo is once again pushing the boundaries of watchmaking feasibility.