Aymeric Laporte makes Phil Foden claim Man City fans will love

    Foden’s Man City stint

    The 2020/21 campaign saw Phil Foden truly cement himself on the world stage.

    The 20-year-old has always possessed obvious talent, but it was not until this past season that Pep Guardiola began to hand Foden consistent starts at the highest level.

    Now, though, the versatile midfielder has established himself as an absolutely essential cog in Guardiola’s attack, having, towards the back end of 2020/21, taken Raheem Sterling’s spot in the Sky Blues’ XI.

    All told, Foden would notch 16 goals and 10 assists in all competitions, whilst putting in the kind of starring displays generally associated with players well beyond his years against teams such as Borussia Dortmund and PSG, as Man City reached their first-ever Champions League finale.

    Foden then missed the start of the new campaign due to an injury picked up at Euro 2020, but returned recently and scored a crucial goal in Man City’s 2-2 draw with Liverpool.

    Laporte on Foden

    And now, Aymeric Laporte has been discussing Foden in a recent interview.

    The Frenchman would praise Foden’s courage and label him a fantastic player.

    “When I come the first year he was like my brother, like [my] child, but when I’ve seen him play, since the first day it was amazing, just amazing. He’s [a] fantastic player, the courage he has when he plays against whatever the opponents he faced, he don’t care.”

    He then made a rather big claim Man City fans are sure to love, stating that Foden can be of the greatest players ever.

    “I think he can be one of the greatest players ever.”

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    Mohamed Salah the best in the world? 5 things we learned as Liverpool hammer Watford

    Watford blown away by Liverpool

    Despite Watford’s change of manager that saw Claudio Ranieri in the dugout at Vicarage Road for the visit of Liverpool, it was the same old Watford side that took to the field.

    An early goal from Sadio Mane, played through by Mo Salah, set the tone for a game that was one-sided from start to finish. The Hornets looked laboured out of possession, and could not live with the quick and silky interplay presented to them by Jurgen Klopp’s side.

    Firmino added a pair either side of half-time, before Mohamed Salah underlined his own credentials with a world-class goal and Firmino completed his hat-trick in stoppage time as the reds condemned Ranieri to a heavy debut defeat in charge of Watford.

    Here are 5 things that 101 picked out from the game.

    1. The offside rule needs changing

    It was purely academic in this game, but Liverpool’s third goal demonstrated exactly what is wrong with the current offside rule.

    Andy Robertson played a cross-field pass intended for Mohamed Salah, who had strayed into an offside position. Had Craig Cathcart let the ball through to Salah, the flag would have gone up.

    However, Cathcart of course did not for certain know that Salah was offside, and so attempted to prevent the ball from reaching the Egyptian. His touch forced a sprawling save from Ben Foster, before Roberto Firmino tapped home the rebound into an empty net.

    Of course, this takes nothing away from the quality of Liverpool’s performance or the result which they clearly deserved, but at some point that rule will have far more consequence than it did at Vicarage Road this afternoon.

    2. Mane hits 100

    Often left in the shadow of Salah, Sadio Mane netted the opener against Watford after a delightful pass from the Egyptian. In doing so, Mane notched up his 100th goal in the Premier League. 79 of those have come in the 169 games for Liverpool since his move from Southampton in 2016, meaning that while he is not quite as efficient as Salah, he still scores at almost one goal every other game.

    In bringing up the century, Mane joins Salah and Chelsea’s Didier Drogba as the only African players to have reached this landmark, while he is also the third player to hit the landmark without a single penalty goal.

    While Salah will always take the plaudits, Mane continues to impress in the background.

    3. Trent Alexander-Arnold puts on a clinic

    Trent Alexander-Arnold was recalled to the Liverpool side after overcoming an injury that saw him omitted from the England squad in the most recent international break. It is safe to say that the Englishman impressed once more on his return, although Watford did little to test his more fragile defensive attributes.

    Instead, it was his attacking and creative numbers that shone through.

    As per sofascore, Alexander-Arnold had 82 touches in the hour he was on the pitch, making 58 accurate passes as well as providing 8 accurate long balls. There will be days when he has more to do defensively, but Watford could not handle him and Salah down the right-hand side at Vicarage Road.

    4. Watford lack quality aside from Sarr

    To say that Claudio Ranieri has his work cut out to keep Watford in the Premier League may be an exaggeration, but based on the performance that his Watford side turned in against Liverpool, it may not be for long.

    The Italian takes over in a horrible run of fixtures for the Hornets, who have Everton, Arsenal, Manchester United, Leicester, Chelsea and Manchester City as six of their next seven opponents, and need something special to avoid being in the relegation zone come Christmas.

    And, aside from Ismaila Sarr, the side have little special going for them. Ben Foster is dependable if uninspiring, while Danny Rose endured a torrid afternoon and few players on the pitch inspired confidence wearing Watford yellow.

    Do the Hornets have enough to stay up?

    5. Mohamed Salah is the best in World football right now

    Saving the best until last, it seems clear that Mo Salah is currently the best player in the world. Following a goal of the season contender against Manchester City, Mo Salah followed it up with another 10/10 performance against Watford.

    Finding Mane for the opener with a beautiful pass with the outside of his foot, it was he who put the icing on the cake with another world-class goal, Liverpool’s fourth, that takes his goal contributions to 11 in just 8 games.

    It was his all-round performance that really caught the eye too, with the winger leaving Danny Rose considering early retirement time and time again as he left the former Spurs full-back for dead relentlessly.

    In doing so, he underlined his role as the best player in world football right now.

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    Liverpool set an English top-flight record during Watford hammering

    The stat that proves Mohamed Salah is the best player in the Premier League this season

    Liverpool set an English top-flight record during Watford hammering

    Liverpool hammer Watford

    Saturday’s early Premier League tie would see Liverpool face off with newly-promoted Watford.

    The Hornets are already on their second manager of the season – shocking right – with Claudio Ranieri in the dugout for the first time at Vicarage Road.

    Unfortunately for the former Leicester boss, his debut Watford game could not have gone worse.

    Liverpool dominated from the offset and took just nine minutes to open the scoring after Mohamed Salah’s superb assist to Sadio Mane:


    Jurgen Klopp’s side continued to dominate and eventually found a second after 37 minutes, ending the first 45 with 84 per cent possession.

    Liverpool then had the game put to bed less than 10 minutes into the second 45, when Roberto Firmino added his second of the day before Mo Salah scored a goal-of-the-season contender:

    Liverpool set record

    Now, after their hammering of Watford, it has been revealed that Liverpool have set an English top-flight, not just Premier League, record.

    As per Opta, Liverpool are the first-ever English top-flight side to score 3+ goals in seven consecutive away games in all competitions.

    A simply outstanding record that shows exactly why, despite a fairly quiet summer, Liverpool are still very much title contenders this campaign.

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    Manchester United handed boost as defender spotted at King Power stadium

    Manchester United take on struggling Leicester City

    Manchester United are looking to bounce back from a disappointing draw against Everton before the international break as they travel to the King Power Stadium to take on Leicester City on Saturday afternoon.

    Brendan Rodgers’ side have struggled to get going this season, and currently sit limply in thirteenth place, having lost three and drawn a further two of their opening seven Premier League fixtures. By contrast, Manchester United sit in fourth place, two points from top spot, courtesy of four wins from their opening seven games.

    As a result, Leicester will desperately be hoping to cause an upset and turn the tide of their season, and may have just been handed a boost in doing so.

    Speaking yesterday, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer revealed that Varane would be absent, while Harry Maguire only began training with the side outside again on Friday.

    Maguire pictured at King Power

    Despite the doubts surrounding his availability, it appears as though Harry Maguire will indeed at least be part of the matchday squad to take on his old club. The Manchester Evening News report that the Englishman has travelled with the squad to his old stomping ground, which could well leave him in line to start the game.

    Should he do so, it would come as a massive boost to Manchester United, who will otherwise have to rely upon Eric Bailly and Victor Lindelof should their club captain be absent.

    Will Maguire make it?

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    The player Mikel Arteta has chosen to replace Alexandre Lacazette with revealed

    Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta has chosen who he wants to replace Alexandre Lacazette with, according to reports in Spain.

    Lacazette’s Arsenal stint

    Alexandre Lacazette would join Arsenal from Lyon back in 2017.

    The Frenchman has since featured on 170 occasions for the Gunners, scoring 65 and assisting 28 along the way.

    Now, though, Arsenal have a decision to make when it comes to the striker’s future.

    Lacazette is still a regular feature under Mikel Arteta, and his absence was noticeable in the opening two games of the season, which he missed through Covid-19.

    However, the Frenchman is also in the final 12 months of his current contract. This means that Arsenal could lose him for nothing next summer, and that foreign clubs could seal a pre-contract agreement with the striker as early as January 2022.

    Of course, the north Londoners could offer him a new deal, but with Lacazette now 30, is that the best idea given their recent track record with poor contract decisions?

    The player Mikel Arteta has chosen to replace Alexandre Lacazette with revealed

    Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta on the touchline during the Premier League match at the Emirates Stadium, London. (Photo by Andy Rain/PA Images via Getty Images)

    Arteta wants Jovic

    Those in of a position of power at Arsenal seemingly do not think so, with it reported recently that the former Lyon star has no contract offer on the table from Arsenal, despite having entered the final year of his existing deal.

    And now, as mentioned above, Mikel Arteta looks to have identified the man he wishes to replace Lacazette with.

    That man, according to Spanish outlet Fichajes is Real Madrid’s Luka Jovic:

    According to the information we handle on Fichajes.net, Luka Jovic is the one chosen by Mikel Arteta to take the post of Lacazette and become an offensive variant with Pierre Emerick Aubameyang

    Jovic is still only 23 and has plenty of time to develop further, but the fact he has scored just two in 38 for Los Blancos will no doubt be a concern to Arsenal fans.

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    The stat that proves Mohamed Salah is the best player in the Premier League this season

    Is Mohamed Salah world-class?

    Since Liverpool signed Mohamed Salah from Roma in 2017, the Egyptian forward has scored 134 goals, and assisted a further 51, in 213 appearances for the Merseyside outfit, with his lowest return being 19 goals, scored in the 2019-20 season.

    Despite the records that continue to tumble around the Merseyside man, he receives far less recognition than perhaps he should.

    It is possibly a consequence of his consistency, in the same way that Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo are expected to boast phenomenal goal returns season upon season, but it is certain that the Liverpool man should be getting more recognition for his performances.

    Stat that proves he is the best in the Premier League right now

    That is happening more this season, especially in the aftermath of a goal of the season contender which he netted against Champions Manchester City.

    And now, a stat that emerged on the back of Salah providing the assist for Sadio Mane’s 100th goal has underlined the fact that Salah has been undisputedly the best performer in the Premier League this season.

    As per Squawka, the Egyptian is the first player to be directly involved in 10 Premier League goals this campaign, with this return coming in just 7 and a half games of football. The haul consists of 6 goals, as well as 4 assists for team-mates, including back-to-back assists for Sadio Mane against Manchester City and Watford.

    Should he keep up the form he has shown for the opening phase of the season, surely a player of the season award, and perhaps even a Ballon D’or, are on the cards for the forward.

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    Ex-Chelsea star outlines where Kai Havertz needs to improve

    Havertz’s mixed Chelsea stint

    Chelsea’s marquee signing of the delayed summer transfer window last year came in the form of Kai Havertz.

    The then-20-year-old had been a rising star in the Bundesliga for several years, and looked primed to grow into one of Europe’s elite attackers.

    So, it wasn’t too surprising to see Bayer Leverkusen demand £71m from Chelsea, to part with their best player.

    However, for many, such a high fee did not look all that worth it throughout much of last season.

    Since making the move to England, Havertz has endured a fairly mixed go of things.

    Under Frank Lampard, he struggled to fit into the Blues’ system, and was also forced to deal with a bout of Covid-19 early in his Chelsea career.

    With Thomas Tuchel at the helm, however, Havertz improved a great deal towards the back end of 2020/21 and would score the winning goal in the 2021 Champions League final.

    Huth outlines where Havertz needs to improve

    Following his match-winning strike vs Manchester City, it was expected that Havertz would kick on this campaign.

    However, the German has once again not been at his best for much of this season so far.

    Havertz did provide an assist vs Villarreal in the UEFA Super Cup and scored in Chelsea’s 1-1 draw with Liverpool.

    But his form has declined in recent weeks, and he did not even make it off the bench vs Southampton.

    Now, former Chelsea defender Robert Huth has been asked where Havertz needs to improve, with Huth stating that the midfielder needs to be more consistent:

    “Consistency is what Kai Havertz will be looking for. He’s had some good games for Chelsea and some games where he’s struggled, which is normal. But now he’s in his second year, he knows the physicality of the league and the pace of the game and fans being back in the stadiums will have a massive effect on the pace of the game.

    “For someone with his talent and pace and his ability, he has to score goals. It’s nothing to worry about, it’s clearly a long-term project for Chelsea after spending so much money on him.”

    Quotes via Goal.

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    Is Dani Alves set to make a shock return to Barcelona?

    Dani Alves’ Barca stint

    Brazilian full-back Dani Alves is already the most decorated player in history, having added Olympic gold in the summer to his trophy cabinet, and taking his major honours tally to 43.

    The defender spent 8 years with Barcelona, between stints at Sevilla and Juventus, during which time he cemented himself as one of the best full-backs in the world, in a team that won virtually everything during his stay in Spain.

    Is Dani Alves set to make a shock return to Barcelona?

    BARCELONA, SPAIN – APRIL 21: Neymar of Barcelona celebrates with Daniel Alves (front) (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)

    Is a return on the cards?

    From the Brazilian’s side, a move back to Catalonia is certainly one that he would be open to, and one he believes that the Blaugrana should definitely explore. Speaking to Spanish outlet Sport.es, the right-back revealed:

    “It would sound very opportunistic to say that Barca need me now. I always said that I left because I saw things were not the way I thought they should be.

    “You never want to see everything that [has] ended up happening since I left. I’ve said that when Barca need me and want me, I would be at their disposal regardless of where I am.

    “The affection, love and respect I have for this club is too much.

    “If Barca think they need me, they just have to call me. I still think I can contribute anywhere, but more at Barca because of the number of young players that they have now.”

    With a contract renewal for current right-back Sergi Roberto stalling, and Sergino Dest the only current alternative, could a shock move for the Brazilian full-back be on the cards at the Camp Nou. Alves would certainly inject more Barcelona DNA back into the club, but can he still cut it at the top level?

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    Daniel Farke makes Billy Gilmour claim that Chelsea fans will love

    Norwich on course for relegation again

    Seven games into the season, it already looks like a familiar story for Norwich City. The East Anglian club sit rooted to the bottom of the Premier League table, having picked up just one point, and are already three points off safety.

    Having scored just 2 goals all season, it is clear to see where the problems lie, while they have also conceded the most in the division, suggesting that the team needs a reshuffle as a whole. The fabled 40 point mark, which generally indicates safety, seems a long long way off as of right now.

    Loanees a beacon of light

    One of the small flickers of hope in the Norwich side lies in Scottish and Chelsea youngster Billy Gilmour, who joined the club on loan for a season in the summer.

    The loanee has impressed thus far, but Daniel Farke admitted that there is no pressure for the youngster to start despite a high-profile loan, saying:

    “There is no pressure. We are not here to develop players for other clubs, we are here to win points for this club,”

    “It is not about Billy Gilmour, about Brandon Williams (on loan from Manchester United), Kenny McLean or Temmu Pukki who are our players – we just like to play with the players to win points.

    “This is also the challenge our loan players want to have – it is not like they want to play just because we have loaned them and they (parent clubs) want them to play many games.”

    However, the Norwich boss was quick to heap praise on the season-long Canary, which will come as music to Chelsea fans’ ears. The German revealed:

    “Billy is a fantastic player, a fantastic human being and, of course, he wants to play each and every second,” 

    “If you love football, you love Billy Gilmour because this guy is a baller, but he is also a young lad and we have to look after him.

    “It is not always that easy for him with the hype in his own country, with lots of praise for him.

    “I think he has a good mindset and works hard on the pitch. He has unbelievable potential.”

    The Stamford Bridge faithful will be hoping that Gilmour can return to west London next season to demonstrate to Tuchel and co. his unbelievable potential close up, as they look to find solutions in midfield.

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    Two Tottenham stars test positive for Covid-19 & what it means for Newcastle clash

     

    A pair of Tottenham Hotspur stars have returned positive tests for Covid-19, according to reports on Friday night.

    Magpies showdown

    Nuno Espirito Santo’s men are set to return to action this weekend.

    On the back of the latest international break, the Lilywhites will turn their attentions towards matters in the Premier League, in a meeting with newly-minted Newcastle.

    Spurs head to Tyneside desperate to build on a positive result in their most recent outing, having brought a 3-game league skid to a close courtesy of a 2-1 downing of Aston Villa.

    Their opponents on Sunday evening, though, will no doubt be buoyed by news of the recent changing of hands at St. James’ Park.

    A new air of hope and excitement has surrounded Newcastle this week, after it was confirmed that Mike Ashley’s tumultuous reign in charge of the club has been brought to an end.

    In the Englishman’s place, a Saudi consortium, backed by frankly astronomical wealth, has taken up the reins on the Toon.

    Tottenham concern

    In turn, the Magpies will head into proceedings this weekend with their tails up, desperate to secure a first 3-point haul of the Premier League season.

    And, as outlined above, if the latest word stemming from the Spurs camp is anything to go by, then Newcastle’s chances of clinching precisely that in 48 hours’ time have now been boosted.

    As per a report from the reliable Alasdair Gold of football.london, two members of Nuno Espirito Santo’s squad have returned positive tests for Covid-19.

    Nuno himself alluded to ‘issues’ in his camp during a pre-match press conference earlier today, with the Covid cases in question understood to be behind the Portuguese’s concern.

    ‘After the international break there are always huge issues that happen. We have problems but I will not say before the game.’

    The identity of the players has not yet been confirmed, though it is assured that Tottenham ‘are currently confident that there are no close contact issues that would require other players to isolate’.

    Sunday’s matchup on Tyneside should therefore go ahead without any hiccups.

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    Messi takes aim at match official as Argentina earn narrow 1-0 win against Peru

    Messi happy with results after arduous international break

    Argentina took further steps to qualifying for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar this international break, as Lionel Messi and company took seven points from a possible nine against Paraguay (0-0 away draw), Uruguay (3-0 home win), and Peru (1-0 home win).

    The three-point haul was the 25th-match of an unbeaten run that Argentina are currently on, and the result sees La Albiceleste comfortably situated in second-place in CONMEBOL qualifying, 8-points ahead of Ecuador with a match in hand, but still trailing bitter rivals Brazil by 6-points with their postponed clash still to come.

    Inter Milan sensation Lautaro Martinez bagged the only goal of the match in Buenos Aires two minutes from the interval, netting his 17th-goal for his country in just 33-caps.

    Messi remarked on his pleasure at the way results went despite the hardships endured in a difficult international break;

    “Today we felt a bit tired. Playing three games in South America is wearisome. We took it forward and got the three points, which is what we wanted.

    It was a very important game and there was tension for that. I do not think that Argentina was satisfied with the result. Peru played well, they are a very difficult opponent. Apart from the penalty incident, I think we controlled the game.”

    Argentine captain takes aim at match official

    Messi took to his Instagram after the match to levy a complaint despite the result, however, targeting match official Wilton Sampaio for criticism.

    He does it on purpose’: Lionel Messi takes aim at referee after Argentina’s win over Peru

    SAO PAULO, BRAZIL – JULY 06: Lionel Messi of Argentina and Gary Medel of Chile argue with Referee Mario Diaz de Vivar after being shown the red card during the Copa America Brazil 2019 Third Place match between Argentina and Chile at Arena Corinthians on July 06, 2019 in Sao Paulo, Brazil. (Photo by Alexandre Schneider/Getty Images)

    The Argentine legend stated “Difficult match, difficult to play. A lot of wind, they were playing deep, leaving little space for us. The referee always does this when he referees us, as if he does it on purpose. But well, three important points and we’re close to our objective.”

    Though Messi may well have been deflecting his ineffective performance on the night in the direction of Sampaio, Argentina can still walk away confident after a testing period that leaves them well one of the coveted drivers seats for a World Cup birth next year.

    Note: All quotes in this article are courtesy of Goal.

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    Mohamed Salah on the hunt for further records against Watford this weekend

    Salah eying impressive goal streak in Watford clash

    There is no denying just how incredible a player Egyptian icon Mohamed Salah has been for Liverpool since his £35million move to Anfield from AS Roma in the summer of 2017.

    Salah failed to make a lasting impression during his first Premier League stint at domestic rivals Chelsea between 2013 and 2016, spending just one season at Stamford Bridge before back-to-back loan spells at Serie A outfits AFC Fiorentina and the aforementioned Roma.

    But his return to English shores has been nothing short of stellar at Liverpool, icing 134-goals and adding 50-assists in just 212-appearances across all competitions. And his record in the Premier League for the Reds is even more impressive, to the tune of 101-goals and 39-assists in only 152-appearances.

    This weekend against Watford, Salah has the chance to set another mark; this time on a personal level. Should the winger bag a goal against the Hornets it will be the first time he has scored in six consecutive Premier League matches, while also setting the mark for scoring in eight consecutive fixtures in all competitions.

    Another golden boot on the cards

    Already topping the goal scoring charts in the Premier League this season with 6-goals – level with Leicester City’s Jamie Vardy – Mo Salah already has another golden boot in his crosshairs.

    The achievement would be his third golden boot honor since coming to Merseyside, topping the goal charts at seasons end already in both the 2017-18 and 2018-19 league campaigns.

    The records Mohamed Salah is eyeing ahead of Liverpool vs Watford

    Liverpool’s Egyptian midfielder Mohamed Salah (2nd L) celebrates scoring the opening goal during the English Premier League football match between Leeds United and Liverpool at Elland Road in Leeds, northern England on September 12, 2021. – RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE.  (Photo by OLI SCARFF/AFP via Getty Images)

    There may be questions about the futures of Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mané, but if Liverpool are to persist as one of the headline clubs in England, Salah must remain the focal point for years to come.

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    Rangers boss Steven Gerrard speaks out over Newcastle links

     

    Rangers manager Steven Gerrard has, on Friday, spoken out over his persistent links to the managerial post at Newcastle United.

    Bruce on the way out

    The subject of the bench at St. James’ Park has of course taken centre stage in the headlines over the last week.

    This comes on the back of the long-speculated takeover of Newcastle finally being pushed over the line last Thursday evening.

    After a lengthy dispute over broadcasting rights was settled in the country, the Saudi Arabian Public Investment Fund, backed by a jaw-dropping £320 billion fortune, agreed to purchase long-time Magpies owner Mike Ashley’s majority stake in the club:

    The vast majority of those associated with Newcastle, in turn, have since made their excitement clear regarding the prospect of things to come.

    For one high-profile individual on Tyneside, however, news of the changing of hands at the club has marked something of a blow.

    The man in question? Steve Bruce.

    On the back of widespread speculation that his position was under immediate threat following Ashley’s departure, word was forthcoming last weekend that Bruce is now ‘on the brink’ of being relieved of his spot on the bench at St. James’.

    ‘Don’t get involved’

    Rumours, as a result, have since begun to fly regarding just who will be chosen by Yasir Al-Rumayyan and co. as the man to replace Bruce, and oversee a potentially prosperous new era in the North East of England.

    The likes of Antonio Conte and Frank Lampard have been tipped for the post, though Everton boss Rafael Benitez has seemingly ruled himself out of the running.

    And, as outlined above, on Friday evening, yet another tactician named as a Magpies target has spoken out over his mounting links to Tyneside – Steven Gerrard.

    During his pre-match press conference ahead of a league showdown with Hearts on Saturday, Rangers’ boss was inevitably drawn on the chances of him replacing Steve Bruce, and taking up his first Premier League post in the process.

    Gerrard, however, was keen to play down the possibility, assuring that he remains fully committed to the project at Ibrox, whilst reiterating his considerable respect for the man currently in charge at St. James’:

    ‘I don’t really react, or get involved in any kind of speculation, especially when there is someone who I have the utmost respect for sitting in that job, that the speculation is about.’

    ‘For me, I am in a very big job and a very big role here that I am very much fully focused on.’

    ‘We have got a top of the table clash at the weekend and it’s a game I’m very much looking forward to.’

    ‘I’ve certainly got one eye on Newcastle, in terms of watching Brucey get his 1000th game. He’s a great character of the game, someone who I’ve got a personal relationship with, and have the utmost respect for.’

    Rangers boss Steven Gerrard speaks out over Newcastle links

    Newcastle United’s English head coach Steve Bruce gestures on the touchline during the English Premier League football match between Newcastle United and Leeds United at St James’ Park in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, north east England on September 17, 2021 (Photo by LINDSEY PARNABY/AFP via Getty Images)

    ‘I’m really looking forward to seeing him get his 1000th game. I think it’s a mammoth achievement.’

    ‘Sitting in this position, I certainly wouldn’t like anybody to be speculating about my job, so I certainly won’t be getting involved in any of the speculation towards his.’

    ‘I think it’s interesting what is happening at Newcastle, I think if anyone deserves a break it’s the Geordie fans, so I’m sure excitement levels are very high on the Toon.’

    ‘I’m sure everyone involved with the game is looking on with interest to see how it develops, but from a personal point of view I don’t really get involved in speculation and I wish Steve all the best.’

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    Barcelona eyeing cut-price swoop for Jordi Alba replacement

     

    Word stemming from the Spanish media this week suggests that FC Barcelona have identified their preferred long-term replacement for Jordi Alba, in the form of an altogether familiar face.

    Barca’s woes

    Ronald Koeman and co. will of course be back in action this weekend.

    With the international break having now come to a close across Europe, the Blaugrana are set to welcome Valencia to the Camp Nou on Sunday night.

    Barca head into proceedings eyeing a much-needed return to form, on the back of a frankly abysmal opening to the campaign.

    With seven games played in La Liga, the Catalans currently sit all the way down in 9th, owing to just a solitary victory from the club’s last four league outings.

    Elsewhere, on the continent, Koeman’s men have looked even worse, with a deserved 3-0 defeat at the hands of Bayern Munich having been followed by a similar scoreline versus Benfica in the Champions League.

    Barcelona eyeing cut-price swoop for Jordi Alba replacement

    MADRID, SPAIN – OCTOBER 02: Frenkie de Jong of FC Barcelona looks dejected after they concede their second goal during the La Liga Santander match between Club Atletico de Madrid and FC Barcelona at Estadio Wanda Metropolitano on October 02, 2021 in Madrid, Spain. (Photo by Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images)

    Gaya eyed

    As such, it goes without saying that all three points look very much on the agenda for Barca in 48 hours’ time.

    As alluded to above, though, if the latest word doing the rounds in the Spanish media is anything to go by, then those on the bench and above at the Camp Nou will also be keeping a close eye on proceedings versus Valencia for a very different reason.

    This comes amid suggestions that the Blaugrana have set their sights firmly on the signature of Los Che star Jose Gaya.

    Left-back Gaya, linked with a move to Catalunya on a whole host of occasions in the past, is continuing to inch towards the expiration of his current terms at the Mestalla (summer of 2023).

    Barcelona eyeing cut-price swoop for Jordi Alba replacement

    CADIZ, SPAIN – SEPTEMBER 23: Ronald Koeman, head coach of FC Barcelona, looks on prior the spanish league, La Liga Santander, football match played between Cadiz CF and FC Barcelona at Nuevo Mirandilla stadium on September 23, 2021, in Cadiz, Spain. (Photo By Joaquin Corchero/Europa Press via Getty Images)

    As per a report from Mundo Deportivo, negotiations between club and player have reached something of a standstill, alerting rival clubs to Gaya’s potential availability in the near future.

    One such outfit keeping a close eye on the situation are Barcelona, with a move considered as increasingly financially feasible the further the Valencia captain’s deal winds down.

    The Catalans are no doubt on the lookout for a long-term replacement for current first-choice left-back Jordi Alba, who is set to turn 33 in the new year, with Gaya evidently viewed as one such option.

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