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Soccer

Promising Senegal star ‘dreams’ of playing alongside Liverpool’s Sadio Mane

Young Marseille midfielder Pape Gueye's dream is to play alongside Liverpool winger Sadio Mané, he has revealed.

The 21-year-old joined Les Olympiens on a free transfer from fellow French outfit Le Havre in the summer to end a crazy saga during which he had signed for Watford just 63 days before.

His contract with the Championship side was cancelled after he performed a total U-turn on the move, claiming he had been poorly advised by his agent.

Gueye has made seven appearances for Marseille, starting twice, and has previously represented France as a youth international.

However, he still has time to make a decision on his senior international future, and could be tempted to choose Senegal in order to play alongside his idol.

The youngster recently gave an interview with Canal+, as reported by Afrique Sports, in which he spoke of his admiration for Mané, who has established himself in recent years as one of the finest attackers in world football.

"For now, I’m focusing on my club," he said. "I’ve not chosen for the national team yet.

"I follow the Senegal national team like a true fan during competitions. Sadio Mané is a player I really like and I dream of playing with him."

Choosing to play for Senegal could also give him the opportunity to feature alongside a number of other prominent players, such as Edouard Mendy, Idrissa Gueye and skipper Kalidou Koulibaly.

However, if he opts to represent his country of birth, the only way he will be able to link up with Mané as a teammate would be at club level.

The 28-year-old is contracted to Liverpool until 2023 but has previously been courted by Spanish giants Real Madrid and Barcelona.

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Soccer

Liverpool 2-0 Midtjylland: Diogo Jota, Mo Salah goals overshadowed by Fabinho injury

An injury to Fabinho as Liverpool’s defensive problems worsened overshadowed an unconvincing 2-0 Champions League win over Midtjylland, with Diogo Jota and Mo Salah on target.

Jota fired into an empty net from the Reds’ best move of the game – to score the club’s 10,000th goal in history – 10 minutes after half-time when man-of-the-match Trent Alexander-Arnold teed up the Portuguese forward for a tap-in.

That would prove to be their only shot on target until injury-time, but Liverpool had already been made to sweat before half-time when Fabinho was forced off with what appeared an injury to his hamstring, leaving Rhys Williams the only senior defender able to replace him with half an hour played.

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Jurgen Klopp had left Roberto Firmino, Salah and Sadio Mane on the bench but even the introduction of the latter pair with an hour played made little improvement to their attacking play.

Liverpool were nearly made to pay when substitute Evander fired just wide before Anders Dreyer went even closer late on, but the hosts added some gloss to a poor performance when Salah converted a penalty he had won himself in injury-time to keep up their perfect start to their Group D campaign.

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Player ratings

Liverpool: Alisson (6), Alexander-Arnold (8), Gomez (5), Fabinho (6), Robertson (6), Milner (6), Henderson (6), Shaqiri (6), Minamino (5), Origi (5), Jota (7).

Subs: Rhys Williams (6), Wijnaldum (6), Salah (7), Mane (5), Firmino (n/a).

Midtjylland: Andersen (6), Andersson (7), Sviatchenko (7), Scholz (6), Paulinho (6), Onyeka (6), Cajuste (7), Dreyer (7), Sisto (5), Mabil (5), Kaba (5).

Subs: Anderson (5), Evander (6), Kraev, Pfeiffer (n/a).

Man of the match: Trent Alexander-Arnold

Sluggish Liverpool labour to down Danes

Midtjylland came into Tuesday’s game having been hammered 4-0 by Atalanta in their first-ever Champions League group match a week ago, but Klopp insisted the Danish champions would give his side a run for their money – and he was not mistaken.

Star-man Dreyer came close to proving his point with less than three minutes on the clock when he brought down Alexander Scholz’s long ball and pulled a strong low save out of Alisson.

Liverpool’s changed front three looked uncomfortable as a trio and it was Alexander-Arnold who looked most likely to create an opening, with Takumi Minamino missing a low cross altogether before Joel Andersson stopped another from reaching him after a good run from the Liverpool right-back.

But a match-ending injury to stand-in defender Fabinho on the half-hour mark would prove a bigger concern for the Reds, with Williams, who a year ago this week was starting in defence for Kidderminster in the National League North, his only available replacement.

Perhaps more cautious to protect the inexperienced defender, Liverpool looked more solid in the last throes of the opening period, and saw Jota and Minamino nod Alexander-Arnold crosses wide before going in goalless at the break.

Georginio Wijnaldum replaced Jordan Henderson as Liverpool’s second change at the interval before they upped their level of intensity from the restart, and 10 minutes after half-time finally looked like the Liverpool which Klopp has developed in recent years to open the scoring.

It was little surprise Alexander-Arnold was at the heart of the move, timing his run from a one-two with Xherdan Shaqiri to perfection to stay onside before squaring for a simple Jota finish.

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Mane and Salah were introduced five minutes later but their introduction, likely sooner than Klopp would have liked, did not have the desired effect as Midtjylland grew back into the game after the setback of the goal.

With 13 minutes remaining, substitute Evander fired wide after shaking off Joe Gomez before the defender was again sluggish as Dreyer drifted past him and fired a glorious chance to level into the side-netting.

Paulinho’s clumsy foul on Salah from a long ball in injury-time gave Liverpool the chance to add a second goal they could barely claim they deserved in the final minute, with the Egyptian getting up to bury the spot-kick beyond Mikkel Anderson and ensure the Reds stay top of their group.

Man of the match – Trent Alexander-Arnold

Sometimes it can be difficult to pick a man of the match. Not tonight. Alexander-Arnold was head and shoulders above anyone else on the pitch, running the show from right-back and making both goals.

He had no problems up against one of Midtjylland’s dangermen Mabil, who was removed with 25 minutes to go, and was Liverpool’s most creative outlet by a mile.

Had Minamino and Jota had their shooting boots on more regularly he could have had a quartet of assists, but he can rest easy after a superb double which played a major part in Liverpool’s win.

What’s next?

Next up, Liverpool host West Ham at Anfield in the Premier League on Saturday Night Football live on Sky Sports Premier League from 5pm; Kick-off at 5.30pm.

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Soccer

Jurgen Klopp provides Fabinho injury update after win over Midtjylland

Jurgen Klopp has confirmed that Fabinho will have a scan on the hamstring injury he suffered in Liverpool’s 2-0 win over Midtjylland – but says the makeshift centre-back felt he could have carried on at Anfield.

Though Second-half goals from Diogo Jota and Mohamed Salah ensured Liverpool’s 100 per cent record in the Champions League remained intact this season, the concern surrounding Fabinho put a slight dampener on the hosts’ evening.

Fabinho has stepped up superbly in the absence of Virgil van Dijk but pulled up in the 28th minute and appeared in some discomfort as he received treatment on the pitch.

The versatile Brazilian was escorted off the pitch by Liverpool’s medical staff and academy product Rhys Williams produced an assured performance after coming on as his replacement.

Liverpool have a busy few weeks ahead of them and take on Premier League title rivals Manchester City at the Etihad in less than two weeks’ time.

Fabinho had started all three of Liverpool’s matches since Van Dijk’s serious knee injury in the Merseyside derby and Klopp was hoping he could rely on the Brazil international, with Joel Matip also sidelined.

Asked about Fabinho’s problem shortly after the final whistle, Klopp replied: ‘Losing Fabinho is exactly the last thing we needed.

‘Fabinho felt his hamstring – he said he could have played on but couldn’t make any more sprints.

‘He has to have a scan.’

The Liverpool head coach later told beIN SPORTS: ‘We have to wait for the scan.

‘When somebody goes off with a muscle injury it’s pretty rare that the doctor calls me the next morning and says: “false alarm – all fine!”‘

Former Liverpool striker Peter Crouch has been impressed with Fabinho’s recent performances and believes another serious injury to such an important player would be a ‘huge blow’ for the Merseyside giants.

‘Van Dijk was a huge miss but Fabinho as well has been a fantastic replacement,’ Crouch told BT Sport.

‘It just looked like a hamstring. Really disappointing and a huge blow for Liverpool.

‘They’ll be praying it’s not long-term.’

Adam Lallana, who swapped Liverpool for Brighton in the summer, added: ‘Typical. It happens,’ the ex-Liverpool midfielder said.

‘The big centre-half is missing and it’s just typical that another one has a knock like that.

‘Hopefully it’s relatively minor and it’s not worth taking the risk.

‘But it’s another test for the group and the young lad (Williams) has come on, I thought he’s done very well considering he’s coming off the bench on a Champions League night.’

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Soccer

Championship highlights and round-up: Reading move seven points clear

Reading scored inside 10 seconds as they continued their best start to a season for 35 years with a 4-2 win at Blackburn.

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The Royals are a surprise package following unknown boss Veljko Paunovic’s appointment midway through pre-season as they won for a seventh time from eight games.

The foundations of the victory at Ewood Park was won in a crazy opening 18 minutes where Reading went 3-1 up, thanks to goals from Yakou Meite – clocked as the fastest in the club’s history – Michael Olise and Josh Laurent.

Adam Armstrong had made it 1-1 and then got Blackburn back in it in the second half, but Lucas Joao killed the game in the final 10 minutes.

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Wycombe picked up their first-ever point in the second tier as they held Watford to a 1-1 draw.

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The Chairboys, playing at this level for the first time in their history, had lost their opening seven games but stopped the rot against the Hornets.

Ismaila Sarr put the visitors ahead shortly after half-time at Adams Park but Anthony Stewart levelled for the Chairboys and they held out for a memorable result.

Swansea were the big movers on the evening as they climbed into the top two with a 2-0 home win over Stoke.

Jay Fulton put the Swans in front on the half-hour and then Kasey Palmer’s late strike made the game safe, earning a first win in four.

Kenny McLean’s late strike kept Norwich’s good run of form going as they drew 1-1 at Brentford.

The Canaries had begun to click into gear, winning three in a row, but were heading for defeat in west London when Ivan Toney opened the scoring in the first half.

But McLean’s first goal of the season three minutes from time earned the visitors a point.

Two late goals saw Middlesbrough beat Coventry 2-0.

A bore draw looked on the cards at the Riverside until Britt Assombalonga scored in the 81st minute and then Djed Spence made the game safe in injury time.

Valerien Ismael made the perfect start as Barnsley’s head coach after leading his new side to a 3-0 victory over 10-man QPR at Oakwell.

A penalty from Cauley Woodrow, as well as a goal from Conor Chaplin and an own goal from Yoann Barbet gave Barnsley their first league win of the season as Rangers played over 60 minutes a man short following Rob Dickie’s red card.

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Fighting

Derek Chisora explains hobby of killing pheasants ahead of Oleksandr Usyk bout

Derek Chisora claims he spends his down time in training camp shooting pheasants.

But he is definitely going hunting for a huge upset when he takes on Oleksandr Usyk this weekend.

Chisora, 36, is a massive underdog against the former undisputed cruiserweight king Usyk on Halloween.

The Ukrainian is the mandatory for Anthony Joshua's WBO heavyweight title and the London Olympic gold medallist is so far unbeaten as a professional.

“It motivates me more, people thinking I am past it and don’t have a chance in hell drives me on,” said Chisora, who, at 36, is 32-9 as a professional.

“What is great is the guys around me are motivating me and pushing me hard so I know it will be amazing when I get in the ring.”

Chisora trains at manager David Haye's gym in Vauxhall but lives on a farm in North London.

“I just came back from hunting,” said the former world title challenger.

“I shoot pheasants. Shooting and killing stuff is an amazing feeling.”

  • David Haye offers southpaws £1,000 to knock Derek Chisora out before Oleksandr Usyk bout

Usyk has been known to use some alternative training methods such as juggling for hand-eye coordination.

But you won't find Chisora up to any of that in his regimented camp alongside Haye.

“I am working on mental and physical stuff, I am lifting a lot of big weights and my mental side is quite good,” he said.

“I am not as crazy as I once was, I am more calm. But it’s about getting in the ring and enjoying it, if you are enjoying it, you are calm.

  • Tyson Fury vs Anthony Joshua finally set for 2021 after Deontay Wilder talks collapse

“I haven’t been doing any of that juggling stuff – that’s for sissies. I like going shooting, hunting and killing stuff.”

Chisora and Usyk were due to meet back in May until the Covid-19 pandemic hit.

And when the UK government ended hopes of fans returning to arenas any time soon last month it looked like this fight might never happen.

  • Oleksandr Usyk demand causes problem for Anthony Joshua and Tyson Fury

But former world title challenger Chisora and the unbeaten Ukrainian have both taken pay cuts to get the fight on behind closed doors at Wembley Arena.

The Finchley fighter insists there won't be any bad blood between the pair in the build-up because Usyk's achievements mean he would look like he had anger problems if he started to kick off like he has in the past.

But whoever is next door to the man now nicknamed 'War' in the COVID-19-secure 'bubble' may want some ear plugs.

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“I love playing old records, like Ray Charles and Motown, so I will bring my own record player in because I have to play it loud,” said Chisora.

“I will have my Union Jack flag 100 per cent and probably my massage chair brought in and a couple of other things I really like.

“But the main thing is a very loud record player.”

Sounds about right.

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Soccer

Lionel Messi is in dire need of a reliable support act at Barcelona

Lionel Messi cuts a lonely figure at Barcelona… He is alone on the pitch and is being asked to carry a team who looked like an uncoordinated mess in the Clasico with no real supporting cast

  • There were glimpses of the Lionel Messi of old during El Clasico at the weekend 
  • But the Barcelona superstar only starred for 45 minutes before flickering out 
  • The club’s attack resembled an uncoordinated mess against their historic foes 
  • Messi can no longer do it all on his own and needs support from team-mates 

There were flashes of the old Lionel Messi in the first half of the Clasico on Saturday.

Casemiro was booked for trying to scythe him down. Nacho should have been booked for actually scything him down, and it was his pass over the top for Jordi Alba that sent the left-back clear to cross for Ansu Fati to equalise.

He might even have put Barcelona ahead having spun Sergio Ramos one way and then the other only for Thibaut Courtois to save at his near post.

Lionel Messi showed glimpses of his old self during Barcelona’s El Clasico loss to Real Madrid

But the flame only burned for 45 minutes. It flickered in the second half, and was almost extinguished by Ramos’ penalty that put Real Madrid ahead and shut the game down as a contest such is Barcelona’s currently failure to respond when things go against them.

Everyone still looks to Messi, but Messi just looks back wondering who will play Robin to his Batman. There were no candidates in the last 20 minutes at the Camp Nou on Saturday despite Ronald Koeman having flooded his team with attacking substitutes.

Messi’s body language late-on when Ousmane Dembele wasted one opening spoke volumes. The introduction of the French winger, Franciso Trincao and Antoine Griezmann on 81 minutes was almost a case of too much too late. A change should have been made earlier, and the three forwards made for five in an attack – an uncoordinated mess.

But his flame only flickered for the first half with Barcelona’s attack an uncoordinated mess

Sergio Ramos’ penalty put Real back into the lead and proved Barcelona struggle to respond

When the whistle blew at full-time Messi had touched the ball 98 times. That was more than anyone else but he had ended the game without a goal.

He has now failed to score in his last six Clasicos. Not since Cristiano Ronaldo left Real Madrid has he hit the back of the net in his biggest club fixture. The personal duel also fuelled him and is maybe another reason for the relative decline.

Those 515 minutes without a goal against Barcelona have come despite nineteen shots. It’s not for the want of trying. A drop in his incredible statistics was always likely as his physical numbers went down. But there are other factors.

Messi has always been helped by having decoys – players around him that terrified and occupied the opposition to the extent that space would be opened up for him – now those decoys are no longer there, or at least no longer anywhere near as effective.

It has now been six Clasico clashes since Messi last netted against Barcelona’s historic rivals

Phillipe Coutinho (above) was poor during El Clasico and Messi’s support is not as effective

Where once he was flanked by Thierry Henry and Samuel Eto’o and then by Pedro and David Villa, before teaming up with Neymar and Luis Suarez, he now finds himself in a moveable-feast front four that included on Saturday two 17-year-olds and Philippe Coutinho. The latter was below par against Real Madrid and is now out injured for the next three weeks.

The kids will come good. Ansu Fati is already joint La Liga top scorer on four goals despite not turning 18 until next weekend. And Pedri will have better games than his first Clasico, but they can’t yet compete with what might have been if Messi had got his way in the transfer market.

The idea that Barcelona could re-sign Neymar or bring in his national team-mate Lautaro Martinez evaporated in the financial crisis and so he finds himself having to produce more of the magic on his own, and a time in his career when he can no longer go it alone in the way he used to.

It was a feature of last season that he was dropping deeper than ever to get on the ball, and yet is further than ever from being that player who can slalom through an entire team running from the halfway line in the process.

Messi has been forced to drop deeper to get on the ball but cannot do it on his own anymore

The degree to which the transfer request and the ultimately aborted transfer to Manchester City has affected him into the season is debatable. 

The mind of the genius usually works in the moment – unburdened by past failures or any imagined future shortcomings. Those close to him say he has lost little sleep over the famous Burofax.

Neither has it been held against him. In fact with Barcelona president Josep Bartomeu quitting on Tuesday, Messi has been credited with the assist in some quarters. 

When the new permanent president comes in he will want to get Messi to sign a new contract. 

The wantaway star may be able to claim an assist after Josep Bartomeu resigned as president

It remains to be seen whether Messi’s appetite is still there to sign a new contract at Barcelona

It then will remain to be seen whether his appetite is still there to put pen to paper in Catalonia or if he feels that to squeeze another season out of his career he needs the jolt of a new challenge.

This is something which would put him back on the Manchester City agenda providing Pep Guardiola stays at the club into next season.

Before that next chapter is written, this season still offers him all to play for. But he knows from watching Bayern Munich destroy Atletico Madrid almost as effectively as they had thrashed Barcelona how hard it will be for the team to get back to the top in Europe, especially when supremacy at home is currently also beyond them.




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Blackburn 2-4 Reading: Championship leaders continue fast start

Blackburn 2-4 Reading: Championship leaders continue fast start as Yakou Meite scores after just EIGHT seconds before Michael Olise, Josh Laurent and Lucas Joao strike in victory

  • Reading extended their lead at the top of the Championship to seven points
  • Forward Meite scored unbeaten Reading’s fastest ever competitive goal
  • In-form Adam Armstrong guided home a beautiful equaliser for Blackburn
  • Visitors netted two more before the 19th minute through Olise and Laurent
  • Armstrong’s second gave the hosts hope but Joao sealed victory late on

To a best start to a league season for 35 years, Reading added their fastest ever goal on Tuesday night as their stupendous start under Veljko Paunovic took another turn for the better.

Eight games in and they sit top of the Championship with 22 points, the quickest Reading team out of the blocks since the 1985-86 vintage began with 13 straight wins.

There were just eight seconds on the clock at Ewood Park when Yakou Meite gleefully swept Lucas Joao’s lay-off into an empty net after a fortuitous ricochet off Barry Douglas’ heels left debutant goalkeeper Aynsley Pears hopelessly out of position.

Yakou Meite scored unbeaten Reading’s fastest ever competitive goal on Tuesday night 

Meite capitalised on good fortune to score after only eight seconds – his third in two games

The quick-fire opener – beating Jimmy Kebe’s FA Cup goal against West Brom 10 years ago – was wiped out almost immediately in a breath-taking start to the contest between the division’s leading scorers and its tightest defence.

Harvey Elliott, the teenage Liverpool loanee, crossed from the right and Adam Armstrong whipped it first-time inside Rafael Cabral’s left-hand upright for the first of his clinically-taken brace.

But parity only lasted until the quarter hour, as another teen in Michael Olise – whose long ball from kick-off had caused such havoc – literally ran around the Blackburn backline on a dribble from right to left that climaxed with a composed finish past Pears.

And by the 18th minute it was 3-1 as Omar Richards’ left-wing centre was repelled to Josh Laurent, who picked his spot from 20 yards to condemn Armstrong’s glancing header midway through the second half to consolation status. 

In-form forward Adam Armstrong guided home a beautiful equaliser for Blackburn

The visitors netted two more before the 19th minute through Michael Olise and Josh Laurent




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Soccer

Liverpool player ratings vs Midtjylland: One ace scores high but three fail to make impact

Liverpool maintained their 100 per cent record in this season’s Champions League as a heavily rotated squad beat Midtjylland 2-0. Diogo Jota scored the opening goal when he converted Trent Alexander-Arnold’s low cross. Substitute Mohamed Salah sealed the win in added time from the penalty spot after he was brought down in the box.

Liverpool (4-3-3)

Alisson 6

Very little to do as Liverpool dominated possession throughout the clash.

Alexander-Arnold 8

Clever run to break the offside trap and pin-point cross for the opening goal. Also put numerous good deliveries into the box.

Fabinho 6

Did what was required of him but was withdrawn with a worrying hamstring injury inside half an hour.

Gomez 6

Brought the ball out well but had little to do going back towards his own goal.

Robertson 5

Most of Liverpool’s work came down the right but the Scot supported the side down the left when required.

Shaqiri 7

His acute ball sent Alexander-Arnold through for the opening goal. Also had some dazzling runs at the defence.

Henderson 6

Taken off at half-time but was tenacious as ever in the heart of the team.

Milner 5

Struggled to affect the game going forward. Lacked the creativity needed to unlock Midtjylland’s deep defence.

Jota 7

In the right place at the right time to score the opening goal. Must be giving Klopp food for thought.

Minamino 5

Seems to be more effective when brought off the bench. Had little input and was hauled off after an hour.

Origi 6

Battled well against the centre-backs and showed some smart touches bringing others into the game.

SUBS

R Williams 6 (for Fabinho, 30)

Wijnaldum 6 (for Henderson, 45)

Mane 6 (for Minamino, 60)

Salah 7 (for Origi, 60)

Firmino 6 (for Jota, 81)

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Soccer

Cristiano Ronaldo tests positive for Covid-19 for third time this month

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Cristiano Ronaldo has tested positive for Covid-19 for the third time this month and will miss Juventus' clash with Barcelona tomorrow.

The Portuguese star hoped to be able face foe Lionel Messi in the Champions League clash.

But a third positive test means he will continue isolating away from his family and team-mates.

Ronaldo tested positive last week and the week prior to that, which will worry the star's millions of followers.

The Juventus ace has also been accused of breaking Covid-19 guidelines earlier this month.

Italy's sports minister Vincenzo Spadafora had been asked whether Ronaldo had broken regulations and said on October 15: "Without authorisation from the health authorities, I think he has violated the protocol.”

Ronaldo had insisted he followed the guidelines upon testing positive having had questions over whether he should have returned to Italy.

"A gentlemen here in Italy, whose name I won't mention, said I didn't obey the protocol — that's simply a lie," Ronaldo said from his Turin villa.

"I followed all the protocols and I will continue to follow them, my conscience is clear…. Everything I did was authorised."

Ronaldo’s girlfriend is reportedly still clear of coronavirus after spending more than a week living in a different part of their Italian mansion with their four children.

Respected Portuguese newspaper Correio da Manha said Spaniard Georgina Rodriguez’s latest Covid test had come back negative.

The paper said: “Cristiano Ronaldo and Georgina Rodriguez can breathe a sigh of relief.

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“The Spanish model did the Covid-19 test and it came back negative and means she can continue to enjoy her day-to-day life with the children.

“About a week after being diagnosed with coronavirus, Cristiano Ronaldo tested positive again on Thursday.

“He has repeated the test and awaits the result.”

Georgina and Cristiano are keeping to different floors of their home in Turin and she is looking after his children Cristianinho, 10, Eva and Mateo, three, and their daughter Alana Martina, two.

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Soccer

Barcelona president Josep Bartomeu 'RESIGNS immediately'

Under-fire Barcelona president Josep Bartomeu and the rest of the club’s board ‘RESIGN immediately with vote of no confidence looming’ as Lionel Messi and frustrated players get their way after nightmare spell on and off the pitch

  • Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu has faced a difficult year in 2020
  • The Catalans chief fell out with Lionel Messi which nearly saw the latter leave
  • Bartomeu was facing a vote of no confidence but still refused to quit on Monday
  • Now Spanish reports claim the president handed in his notice on Tuesday

Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu has handed in his resignation at the LaLiga club, according to reports. 

The director has faced several calls to step down from the Catalans hierarchy after several controversies over the summer, including the public fall-out with Lionel Messi which nearly forced the Barcelona captain to leave the Camp Nou.

On Monday, Bartomeu said there was ‘no reason for him to resign’ ahead of an imminent vote of no confidence – but Spanish news outlet SPORT claims an emergency meeting saw the 57-year-old and the other directors hand in their resignation.

Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu has handed in his resignation, say reports in Spain

The president reportedly resigned along with other Barcelona directors in a Tuesday meeting

Now Messi’s chances of staying at Barcelona have risen dramatically following Bartomeu’s reported resignation. 

The president was the centre of Messi’s criticisms when the Argentine announced his shock transfer request to Barcelona earlier this summer.

The Barcelona captain revealed the president did not keep his word about letting Messi leave the club if he wanted to, as the 33-year-old tried to move on a free transfer due to a clause in his contract.

Messi told Goal in September: ‘I told the president and, well, the president always said that at the end of the season I could decide if I wanted to go or if I wanted to stay and in the end he did not keep his word.’

Bartomeu fell out with Barcelona captain Lionel Messi (above) this year, who nearly left Barca

Bartomeu was also criticised over the I3 Ventures scandal, which has allegedly seen Barcelona chief Jaume Masferrer lead a social media project alongside the LaLiga club to damage the reputations of figures such as Gerard Pique, Messi and the Argentinian star’s wife.

Speaking about the scandal, Pique claimed:  ‘I see that my club has spent money, money that they are now asking us to criticize. It’s no longer only external people with a historical relationship with the club, but active players too, and that is outrageous.

‘I asked him for explanations and what he (Bartomeu) told me was: “Gerard, I didn’t know.” And I believed it. 

Bartomeu was also criticised over a social media scandal that criticised Barcelona’s big stars

‘Then you see that, in future actions, the person in charge of hiring these services is still working at the club.’ 

As the pressure mounted over the weekend, Bartomeu insisted that he would not step down, irrespective of the impending vote of no confidence from other Barcelona chiefs.

‘There is no reason for me to resign,’ he said in a press conference following the meeting. ‘It’s not an appropriate time to hand in my resignation. No one will be able to make the decisions if I decide to resign.

‘The idea of stepping down has never crossed my mind. Never.’  

Barcelona are currently lying in 12th place in the LaLiga table after back-to-back defeats in Spain’s top-flight, a run further compounded by an El Clasico loss to Real Madrid on Saturday.  




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