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Guardiola to quit Barcelona?

April 27, 2012 Leave a comment

Sky Sports sources understand that Pep Guardiola has told Barcelona he will leave the club at the end of the season.

Boss set to leave the club in the summer

 

The Barcelona boss has guided the Catalan giants to two UEFA Champions League titles in his four seasons with the club as well as a host of other trophies.

 

But the former Barca star’s future has been a source of constant speculation for months and the 41-year-old is understood to have finally confirmed he intends to bring his time at the club to an end.

 

A joint press conference will be held by Guardiola and Barcelona president Sandro Rosell on Friday morning at 11am.

 

Rosell, who has met with Guardiola at length in the last 24 hours, remains hopeful that he may yet have a change of heart and opt to remain at the helm.

 

The decision follows Barcelona’s sensational exit from the Champions League at the hands of Chelseain Tuesday’s semi-final.

 

Sky Sports’ Spanish football expert Guillem Balague believes Guardiola could be planning to try his luck as a manager in the Premier League before long.

 

Balague told Sky Sports: “He has the urge to coach in another place. He wants to come to the Premier League.

 

“He couldn’t make it here as a player. He was close to joining Wigan at one point I believe. Manchester United wanted him at some point, Liverpool and Spurs, but it didn’t happen.

 

“And as a manager he wants to prove himself in the Premier League.”

 

Guardiola’s potential arrival in England would raise the possibility of some of Barcelona’s famous players linking up with him in the Premier League.

 

Fresh voice

 

And while Balague does not rule out the prospect, he believes a fresh voice may be what his current players need.

 

Asked about the chance of Barca’s superstars coming to England, Balague said: “It’s a good point because they are very close to him; they’ve grown to be better players with him.

 

“But at the same time, four years with the same manager, seeing the same face, you wonder if that is one of the reasons Guardiola, if he decides to leave, will leave.”

 

And Balague notes there has already been speculation as to who will replace Guardiola as Barcelona manager next season.

 

“We have got four names that have been mentioned,” he added. “Four names that are very much liked by president Sandro Rosell and the director of football Andoni Zubizarreta.”

 

The four managers that have been earmarked are believed to include Athletic Bilbao’s maverick Argentine coach Marcelo Bielsa and ex-Chelsea manager Andre Villas-Boas.

 

The two names making up the list of candidates are both former Barcelona players – France boss Laurent Blanc and Ernesto Valverde, who quit as Olympiakos manager last week.

 

A further possibility could be another former team-mate of Guardiola’s, Roma boss Luis Enrique.

 

The 41-year-old spent eight years with the club as a player and three years coaching the B team before leaving for Italy last summer.

 

The options are believed to have already been lined up as a contingency plan should Guardiola decide upon a sabbatical.

 

Exhaustion

 

Balague is also keen to rubbish suggestion this is a knee-jerk reaction to Barcelona’s Champions League defeat to Chelsea in midweek.

 

He added: “Let me tell you a little story because I have been writing the biography of Guardiola. For six months he has been thinking of leaving.

 

“He had had it at the back of his mind and he uses it a bit as a mechanism because if he thinks he is going to stay another four years at Barcelona that would kill him because of the exhaustion of how he works; the amount of hours he puts in.

 

“This is not a decision just based on results or players that don’t want him anymore or problems in the changing room. It just comes to the point where he tells the chairman he just cannot continue.

 

“The question is, would that blank cheque – the possibility to do anything he wanted at Barcelona – change his mind? I don’t know. We will certainly know tomorrow (Friday’s press conference).”

 

With Guardiola’s spell in charge set to come to an end, thoughts turn to where he fits in among the pantheon of great coaches in Barcelona’s history.

 

Balague believes Guardiola’s achievements cannot be measured in terms of mere trophies, despite there being 13 of them during his time at the helm and the possibility of a 14th next month if Barca beat Athletic in the Copa del Rey final.

 

“He would say that Johan Cruyff was a bigger manager than him because not only has he won consecutive league titles, one European Cup and one final of another European Cup, It’s just the fact that Johan Cruyff changed the mentality of the club.

 

“But it is certain that he has taken the club to another level – a coach beyond titles. The style in which he has done it, the way he has made Messi the player that he is.

 

“It’s just now you can see, talk to Brendan Rodgers, talk to Roberto Martinez, the influence of Pep Guardiola goes well beyond Barcelona.”

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African players in European leagues

April 24, 2012 Leave a comment

Nigeria goal poacher Peter Odemwingie added to the pressure on Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish with the weekend winner for West Bromwich Albion at Anfield.

He snatched the lone goal 15 minutes from time as the ‘Reds’ once again flopped at home.  QPR and Morocco midfielder Adel Taarabt had a mixed day against former club Tottenham Hotspur at Loftus Road, scoring the winner midway through the first half and being red carded in the closing stages.
ENGLAND
 
PETER ODEMWINGIE (West Bromwich Albion)
The Nigeria forward scored the only goal of the game as the Baggies ended their 45-year wait for a win at Anfield with a 1-0 victory over Liverpool.
There were 15 minutes left when the Baggies, who had been under persistent pressure, saw Odemwingie strike after being played in by Democratic Republic of Congo midfielder Youssuf Mulumbu.
ADEL TAARABT (Queens Park Rangers)
The Morocco midfielder scored what could be a priceless goal for Rangers in their battle to avoid Premier League relegation, securing a 1-0 win over London rivals Tottenham Hotspur — his former club — with a superb 25-yard free-kick in the 24th minute at Loftus Road. He was sent off for a second bookable offence 12 minutes from time but QPR held on.
PAPISS DEMBA CISSE (Newcastle)
The Senegal striker’s impressive scoring run since joining from German club Freiburg in January continued as he made it 11 goals from 10 matches during a
3-0 win at home to Stoke that took the Magpies into fourth place. Cisse struck in between two goals from Yohan Cabaye when the French midfielder turned provider in the 18th minute, allowing the forward to beat Asmir Begovic with a first-time shot.
FRANCE
PIERRE-EMERICK AUBAMEYANG (Saint-Etienne)
Having gone five games without scoring, Gabon star Aubameyang found the net twice in Saint-Etienne’s 4-1 win at Caen to take his tally to 13 league goals this season. The 22-year-old set up his side’s opener in the 40th minute with a left-wing cross that was turned in by Caen defender Aurelien Montaroup, before making it 2-0 on the hour with a 20-yard shot that goalkeeper Alexis Thebaux could only help on its way into the net. Aubameyang sealed victory in the 83rd minute with a header from Ivorian team-mate Max Gradel’s dinked cross.
SOULEYMANE CAMARA (Montpellier)
Senegalese international Camara scored the only goal of the game as Montpellier edged Valenciennes 1-0 to preserve their two-point lead over Paris Saint-Germain at the top of the table. Camara found the target in unorthodox fashion in the fifth minute, deflecting a fierce cross from his Moroccan team-mate Younes Belhanda inside the left-hand post from close range with his knee.
MODIBO MAIGA (Sochaux)
Mali striker Maiga scored for the fifth game in succession but saw his side slump to a 6-1 defeat against Paris Saint-Germain at Parc des Princes. Maiga got his name on the score-sheet in the 12th minute, cancelling out Javier Pastore’s opener for the hosts by beating PSG goalkeeper Salvatore Sirigu to Marvin Martin’s raking pass and scoring with a brave header. It was his ninth league goal of the season.
GERMANY
JOEL MATIP (Schalke 04)
The Cameroon midfielder’s long ball put Dutch striker Klaas-Jan Huntelaar away to score Schalke 04’s equaliser on 38 minutes in their 1-1 draw at Augsburg after the hosts took an early lead. Schalke are third in the Bundesliga table, which carries an automatic Champions League qualification place, but only two points clear of Moenchengladbach with two games left this season.
ITALY
 
MEHDI BENATIA (Udinese)
The Morocco centre-back was largely at fault for the incident that should have proved decisive in Udinese’s 0-0 draw at Chievo. Benatia hesitated and lost the ball in midfield leading to a Chievo break that resulted in a penalty. Cyril Thereau’s spot-kick was saved by Samir Handanovic and Benatia’s blushes were spared. He improved in the second half and was quite solid, but is no longer the rock he was in the first half of the season.
KWADWO ASAMOAH (Udinese)
The Ghana midfielder provided one moment of ingenuity in the first half when his clever back-heel to Pablo Armero could have resulted in more of a chance but it went begging. Asamoah otherwise looked lost in midfield where Chievo controlled matters in a goalless stalemate. Asamoah’s loss of form, like Benatia’s, is a major reason that previously flying Udinese are now struggling.
SULLEY MUNTARI (AC Milan)
The Ghana midfielder was a passenger at times in a disapointing all-round performance from his team in the 1-1 home draw with Bologna. Muntari did not give one of his better performances although he helped the side get a grip of the match in the second period when they started to take the ascendancy.
SPAIN
AROUNA KONE (Levante)
The Ivorian striker scored an important equaliser for Levante against the club who still own his registration, Sevilla, in the 1-1 draw between the clubs. The goal was his 14th in the league this season, making him top scorer for a Levante side that remain fifth and in contention for qualification for European competition next season.
SOFIANE FEGHOULI (Valencia)
The Algerian midfielder scored his sixth goal of the season as his Valencia side romped home 4-0 winners over Betis. Feghouli played a starring role in the victory and was responsible for Betis going down to 10 men in the second half when he was pulled down by Jose Dorado with a free run at goal.
IKECHUKWU UCHE (Granada)
The Nigerian striker played in Granada’s important 1-0 victory over Getafe that all but guarantees the participation of the Andalusian club in the first division for a second season after their promotion last summer. Granada have fielded a number of African players this season, including Algerian Hassan Yebda, Senegalese defender Pape Diakhate and fellow Nigerian Ighalo Odion, but Uche was the only one involved at the weekend.
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Lyon stop paying wages of injury-prone Mensah

April 5, 2012 Leave a comment

French Ligue 1 outfit Olympique Lyon have decided to stop paying the wages of Ghana captain John Mensah due to his inactivity, according to Le Progrès.

Lyon opted to hit him in the pocket following spate of injuries that has blighted his career this season.

It is unclear if this is a clause in his contract or has been handed the terms of a pay-as-you-play deal.

The centre-back has managed only one appearance for the side this term due to his recurrent injuries.

The 29-year-old will start receiving his wages if he returns to full fitness and earns playing time.

He battled injuries at the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations where the Black Stars finished fourth.

Mensah returned to Lyon after a two-year loan deal at English side Sunderland and the outlandish decision is likely to push him out of the club.

He signed a five-year deal with the club worth £ 8.4 million in 2008 and has a year left on his current contract.

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