Athletic Bilbao’s Trip To Real Madrid Wasn’t Anything Special- Kepa Arrizabalaga

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Athletic Bilbao goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga says he didn’t feel “anything special” when playing at the Santiago Bernabeu for the first time in Wednesday’s 1-1 draw at Real Madrid.

Kepa Arrizabalaga was close to joining Madrid in the winter transfer window but ended up signing a new long-term contract with Athletic.

Kepa made nine saves to frustrate Los Blancos, who rescued a point thanks Cristiano Ronaldo’s late equaliser.

“I was looking forward to playing at the Bernabeu because I had never played here,” Kepa told Onda Cero radio. “But I haven’t felt anything special.”

Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane praised Kepa after the game and claimed the only reason why the 23-year-old didn’t join his club was because he “doesn’t like changing goalkeepers midway through the season.”

When asked if it was a mistake not signing Kepa in the winter transfer window, Zidane said after Wednesday’s game: “I’m not thinking about that at all. If I made the decision not to bring in a keeper in the middle of the season, then that’s that. When I start a season, I start with three goalkeepers and I finish with three goalkeepers if nothing happens.

“The opposition goalkeeper [Kepa] is young and very good but he’s not my player and in the middle of the season I don’t need a keeper. The decision for him not to come was taken by everyone, but I’m the coach. I’m not going to talk about the future, nor who will come or go.”

Kepa, whose previous contract with Athletic had been set to end this summer, grew tired of waiting for Madrid to make a move after reportedly undergoing a medical with Los Blancos in January.

Asked why he didn’t wait until the summer to join Madrid, Kepa said after Wednesday’s game: “I signed a contract extension with Athletic and that is the decision that I took. In the end I signed a seven-and-a-half-year contract with Athletic. I’m very happy here and I’ve been at this club since I was nine.”

“Real Madrid had more clear chances than we did,” he said. “But it’s a bittersweet result because we came very close to winning and it’s annoying to concede a late equaliser. I’m satisfied that all my saves helped my team get a point here which is not easy.”

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‘A Big Influence In My Life’ – Aaron Ramsey Pays Tribute To Departing Arsene Wenger

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Arsenal midfielder Aaron Ramsey has praised the “influence” that Arsene Wenger has had on his life since signing for the Gunners.

On Friday, Wenger revealed that he would step down from his role in the dugout at the end of the season to conclude a 22-year period with the North London outfit.

Ramsey left Cardiff City to make the switch to Arsenal in 2008 – when he was just 17 years of age – and the Welsh international has heaped praise on a man who he has worked under for the past decade.

“It’s been an honour to play for you and win trophies with you,” tweeted the Welshman.

“You have been a big influence in my life on and off the field from a boy to a man.

“I am so happy to see everyone showing gratitude and respect today because you more than deserve it.

BArsene Wenger has won three Premier League titles and seven FA Cups with Arsenal and is currently trying to end his reign with success in the Europa League.

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Roma Manager Eusebio Di Francesco Discusses Squad Rotation Ahead Of Liverpool Clash On Wednesday

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Roma coach Eusebio Di Francesco has spoken to the media ahead of their trip to face SPAL on Saturday afternoon, before the crucial UEFA Champions League Semi-final tie Vs Liverpool on Wednesday.

The Italian club travel to Liverpool on Wednesday for one of the biggest games in their history, but have domestic football to concentrate on first.

Di Francesco says that although he wants to play a full strength team on Saturday, he will rest any of the Giallorossi that are not 100% fit.

“This game against SPAL is very important for lots of reasons,” the coach said.

“We must make sure we capitalise on the chances that come our way.

“Diego Perotti is OK and he’ll be in the squad. Aleksandar Kolarov won’t be coming with us this weekend, though – he has a minor muscle complaint.

“Edin Džeko is really up for it right now but I’ll speak to him and decide whether or not to start him tomorrow. If not, Patrik Schick will lead the line.

“As for who will come in for Kolarov at left-back tomorrow, it will be a left-footed player. Jonathan Silva is more likely than Luca Pellegrini.

“Cengiz Ünder’s pace is a vital part of his game so we need to make sure he doesn’t suffer from fatigue when there are so many games. We won’t rest everyone. Lorenzo Pellegrini could well start – I’m undecided between him and another player.”

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Exeter City ‘Disappointed’ By Ethan Ampadu Chelsea’s Tribunal Ruling

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Exeter City say they are “disappointed for football” after a tribunal ordered Chelsea to pay the League Two side up to £2.5m for Ethan Ampadu.

The potential fee would be an Exeter record, but chairman Julian Tagg said the ruling “sends the wrong message” to clubs producing home-grown players.

Wales defender Ampadu, 17, moved to Stamford Bridge last summer having come through Exeter’s youth academy.

He has made seven appearances for Chelsea so far this season.

He has also played twice for Wales, making his debut against France on 10 November and then his first start four days later against Panama.

Chelsea Ordered To Pay £2.5m To Exeter City For Ethan Ampadu

Exeter chairman Julian Tagg told the club’s official website: “Whilst the club recognise, that the compensation fee is not a transfer fee, but instead to reward the club for its investment in the training and development of a proven outstanding player, and that the tribunal has awarded Exeter significant contingent sums, to say that we are disappointed is an understatement.

“We are disappointed for our fans, our academy, which works so hard on producing talented young players like Ethan and for our management and coaching team who bring these players into the first team and beyond as part of supporting the work of the FA in its objective to produce international players of the highest quality which we believe we have done.

“However, above all, we are disappointed for football as we feel this decision sends the wrong message in terms of financial reward for those owners, chairmen, managers and coaches up and down the country who are also working as hard as us to improve their clubs by producing talented home-grown players for both club and country.”

Ampadu became Exeter’s youngest ever player when he made his debut aged 15 years and 330 days. He went on to make 13 first team appearances.

He has also made two senior appearances for Wales, in friendlies against France and Panama.

Exeter are guaranteed to receive £1.3m based on a transfer fee plus the international and first-team appearances he has already made.

Further payments will be made when Ampadu makes a set number of appearances for Chelsea, while Exeter will also receive a 20% sell-on fee should he leave Stamford Bridge.

Exeter’s existing club record sale is the £1.8m Brentford paid for striker Ollie Watkins in 2017.

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Chelsea Ordered To Pay £2.5m To Exeter City For Ethan Ampadu

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Chelsea have been ordered to pay a £2.5m compensation fee to Exeter City following midfielder Ethan Ampadu’s move to the club last summer.

The two teams were unable to agree a fee when the 17-year old moved to Stamford Bridge in July last summer.

Ethan Ampadu, already a Wales international aged 17, came through Exeter’s academy but moved to Stamford Bridge last summer. He has made seven appearances for the Chelsea senior team, including as a substitute in the 3-1 Premier League win over Huddersfield in December.

As a youth player, the defensive midfielder’s transfer fee was set by a tribunal, with the ruling handed down on Friday.

Exeter are guaranteed to receive £1.3m based on a transfer fee plus international and first-team appearances already made.

The fee will rise to £2.5m depending on Ampadu’s first-team appearances, with Exeter also entitled to receive a 20 per cent sell-on-fee should he leave Chelsea.

A Professional Football Compensation Committee statement read: “Chelsea Football Club should pay Exeter City an initial net fee of £850,000. In addition to the initial payment a fee of £450,000 is also payable.

“This fee incorporates an amount for the player signing a first professional contract, making five first-team appearances and obtaining a senior international cap.”

ETHAN AMPADU: THE FULL FEE BREAKDOWN

  • Chelsea pay Exeter an initial net fee of £850,000. 

  • They also pay £450,000 for the player signing a first professional contract, making five first-team appearances and obtaining a senior international cap.

  • Exeter will receive further sums of £250,000 when Ampadu reaches 10, 20, 30, 40 and 50 first team appearances (substitute or starting) for Chelsea.

  • Exeter will also get a 20 per cent sell-on fee should Ampadu leave Stamford Bridge.

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Chelsea Beat Porto On Penalties To Reach UEFA Youth League Final

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Chelsea’s under-19s are through to the final of the UEFA Youth League after a penalty shootout victory over Porto in Nyon, Switzerland.

Chelsea had come through through knockout fixtures with Feyenoord and Real Madrid to reach the last four of the competition, while Porto got the better of Tottenham Hotspur in the quarter-finals.

Chelsea have now reached three UEFA Youth League finals in the last four years. After winning the competition in 2015 and 2016, they were denied a place in last season’s tournament because of the senior team’s failure to finish in the Premier League’s top four under Jose Mourinho and Guus Hiddink.

A change in the rules means that Edwards’ side can still qualify for next season’s UEFA Youth League even if the first team finishes fifth in the Premier League, either by beating Barcelona in Monday’s final at Stade Colovray, or by emerging triumphant against Manchester United in the Premier League under-18 national final.

The Portuguese team appeared to be on their way to the final when Diogo Queiros and Joao Mario netted goals to overturn Chelsea’s opening strike, which was scored by Daishawn Redan.

Josh Grant equalised for the Blues with four minutes remaining to take the tie into a shootout but Porto had a chance to prevail after Charlie Brown and Reece James had missed their efforts from 12 yards.

Goalkeeper Jamie Cumming was the hero, however, as he made a total of three saves to give the Under-19 squad at the West London outfit a place in Sunday’s final.

Barcelona advanced to the final later on Friday by holding off Manchester City 5-4.

MATCH FACTS 

Chelsea (3-4-3): Cumming; Sterling, Chalobah, Grant (c); James, Gallagher (Lamptey 82), McCormick, Castillo; Hudson-Odoi, Redan (Brown 69), St Clair

Substitutes not used: Bulka (GK); Guehi, McEachran, Colley, Uwakwe

Coach: Joe Edwards

Scorers: Redan 29; Grant 87

Booked: Chalobah, Gallagher

Porto (4-4-2): Costa; Lamba, Queiros, Justiniano, Leite; Romario, Rui Pires, Cassama (c) (Estrela 64), Bessa; Irala (Maleck 89), Queta (Joao Mario 80)

Substitutes not used: Silva (GK); Lameira, Fidelis, Lopes

Coach: Joao Brandao

Scorers: Queiros 40; Joao Mario 81

Booked: Queiros

PENALTY SHOOT-OUT

St Clair (Chelsea) – SCORED 1-0

Estrela (Porto) – SCORED 1-1

Brown (Chelsea) – SAVED 1-1

Leite (Porto) – SAVED 1-1

McCormick (Chelsea) – SCORED 2-1

Lamba (Porto) – SCORED 2-2

Hudson-Odoi (Chelsea) – SCORED 3-2

Maleck (Porto) – SCORED 3-3

James (Chelsea) – SAVED 3-3

Rui Pires (Porto) – SAVED 3-3

Chalobah (Chelsea) – SCORED 4-3

Queiros (Porto) – SCORED 4-4

Castillo (Chelsea) – SCORED 5-4

Bessa (Porto) – SAVED 5-4

Referee: Srdjan Jovanovic (Serbia)  

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Tiemoue Bakayoko Impressed Me At Burnley- Antonio Conte

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Antonio Conte has acknowledged that midfielder Tiemoue Bakayoko “played very well” against Burnley on Thursday night.

Before the Premier League fixture at Turf Moor, Tiemoue Bakayoko had played just 47 minutes of football since the start of February, but the summer signing impressed during the Blues’ 2-1 win in the North-West.

Bakayoko has struggled to justify his £40m price-tag during his first campaign in English football, but Conte said that he had potentially found a better solution for the French international.

At a press conference, the 48-year-old told reporters: “We are talking about a young player. This season, I think, he struggled a lot but yesterday he played very well, with great focus and great concentration and good quality.

“Maybe when we play with three midfielders, it’s better for him because he has the possibility to attack the box. To fill the box.”

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Liverpool Manager Jurgen Klopp Discusses Why He Won’t Be Managing At Arsene Wenger’s Age

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Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp insists he will not be managing into his old age like 68-year-old Arsene Wenger as he does not need football to be happy.
The Arsenal boss has announced he will step down at the end of the season, ending a 22-year reign at the club.

Klopp, who has a six-year contract which runs until 2022, has no intention of staying on anywhere close to Wenger’s tenure.

In a television interview this week the 50-year-old said he did not want to die on the touchline and when asked to expand on that he said: “Because of age.

“I love what I do and I enjoy it but it’s intense – but most jobs are intense. The big difference is we are constantly in the focus.

“Do I need the fact that I am famous? No. I don’t need it a bit. It’s not that I feel that special but it happens and I’d be really happy if it stops one day.

“If no-one remembers me, that’s not a problem. That’s a dream for me.

“We get really well paid so that’s OK, we can have the life we never dreamed of but I don’t want to have this life and I cannot walk any more.

“I have back problems in the morning and neck problems when I wake up but life is not only for that.

“I don’t need football to be happy. At the moment I love it but I don’t need it.
“There will be a moment – and I don’t know when – when I say ‘Thank you very much’. There is always the next guy who can do the job.
“I love what I do. It’s not too intense to deal with it. At one point it’s enough and then another one has to take over.”
 

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Michael Carrick Asked Not To Be Included For The World Cup With England Due To Depression Battle

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Michael Carrick asked the Football Association (FA) not to select him for England duty after suffering from a bout of depression during the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.
Michael Carrick,36, made his international debut in 2001 and went on to pick up 34 national caps, the last of which was a friendly against Spain in 2015, but admitted that the World Cup had a lasting impact on his mental health.
“I’d been in the squad a long time and I’ll be honest, I was finding it hard going away with England. I didn’t mind going away with United pre-season… but going with England, it was almost depressing in a way,” Carrick told the BBC.

“It made me really down, so I came to the point after South Africa where I thought: ‘I can’t do that again.’ People would be saying: ‘Pull yourself together and be grateful for it’ and I understood the position I was in… but I just found it so hard and I couldn’t deal with it any more.

“I was probably on the verge of… yes, I was depressed at times, yes. I told the FA: ‘Look, please don’t pick me.’”

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Andres Iniesta Set To Sign For Chinese Club Chongqing Dangdai Lifan

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Andres Iniesta is expected to sign for Chinese club, Chongqing Dangdai Lifan this summer.
Andres Iniesta will go down as one of the finest players of his generation, a key part of the Barcelona team that has enjoyed unparalleled success under Pep Guardiola, Luis Enrique and now Ernesto Valverde.
Iniesta will win La Liga for the ninth time this season, taking his haul of club trophies to 30.

But this summer he will leave Catalunya behind to move to the Chinese Super League.

And the team that has won the race to sign him is understood to be Chongqing Dangdai Lifan, owned by Jiang Lizhang.

Lizhang made headlines in England last year by hiring Tony Adams as manager of Granada, a Spanish football club he owns. The 36-year-old billionaire also boasts stakes in Italian club Parma and NBA franchise the Minnesota Timberwolves.

Tianjin Quanjian were the early favourites, whilst Hebei China Fortune were believed to want to reunite Iniesta with his former Blaugrana teammate, Javier Mascherano.

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Celtic Will Allow Brendan Rodgers’ Move To Arsenal

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Celtic’s biggest shareholder Dermot Desmond says he will not stand in the way of club manager Brendan Rodgers if he wants to join Arsenal.

Wenger, 68, has announced he will leave Arsenal at the end of the season after almost 22 years in the role.

Celtic boss Rodgers has been mentioned as Wenger’s successor and the bookies have the Northern Irishman as a top contender.

And Desmond, 67, says he will not block Rodgers if he wanted to make the move south.

“He’s an outstanding person and we wouldn’t want him to leave, but we cannot force him to stay,” he told Sky Sports News.

“Hopefully his love for the club and the set-up will induce him to stay at Celtic.

Asked if he would allow Rodgers to speak to Arsenal, he added: “Absolutely, you cannot put handcuffs on anybody if they want to go to a club as good as Arsenal.

“It will be Brendan’s decision and his only.”

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Arsene Wenger Personally Requested Arsenal Delayed Big Announcement So He Could Inform His Players First

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Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger asked the club to hold back on the major announcement that he would leave the club in the summer, so he could inform his players first.

The 68-year-old will step down as Arsenal boss at the end of the season after more than 21 years in the role.

The news was announced on Friday morning, with Wenger set to depart 12 months into a two-year deal.

Press Association Sport say Wenger was keen to tell the Arsenal players himself and did so ahead of training at their London Colney base and minutes before the news was made public by the club.

His coaching staff were also informed of the decision in advance, although club staff working at the Emirates Stadium rather than the training ground discovered the news at the same time as everyone else.

Wenger’s surprise announcement came a day after he evaded questions over his future at his usual pre-match press conference.

Club captain Per Mertesacker admitted it was “emotional” to find out that Wenger was set to depart.

“We have just been informed basically,” he told the club’s official website.

“It is quite emotional. Obviously he has been at the club for such a long time, he has been so supportive to me. One major reason why I’m here is because of him.

“It’s been emotional and there will be time to digest it but it is a sad feeling right now.”

The Frenchman praised his players and staff in the short statement he released through the club on Friday morning.

“After careful consideration and following discussions with the club, I feel it is the right time for me to step down at the end of the season,” it read.

“I am grateful for having had the privilege to serve the club for so many memorable years.

“I managed the club with full commitment and integrity. I want to thank the staff, the players, the Directors and the fans who make this club so special.

“I urge our fans to stand behind the team to finish on a high. To all the Arsenal lovers take care of the values of the club. My love and support for ever.”

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Rafa Benitez Keen To Discuss His Future At Newcastle As Soon As Possible

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Newcastle manager Rafael Benitez has revealed he is keen to discuss his future with the club “as soon as possible”.

The Spaniard has almost steered the Magpies to safety this season but is yet to agree a new contract, with one year remaining on his current deal.

Asked when he plans to enter talks over a potential new contract, he said: “I would like to do it as soon as possible, but obviously I want to concentrate on the games at the same time.

“It’s very clear that we need to start talking about ideas for the future.”

“When I decided to come here, I could see the potential of this massive club and I could see the passion of the fans,” the former Liverpool and Real Madrid boss said.

“After two successful years here, I can feel this passion. I can feel the ambitions and I know the ambitions of the fans.

“My position now is to know the ideas of the club and if they share the same ambitions.”

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I’m Happy At Crystal Palace, I Can’t See Myself Anywhere Else- Wilfried Zaha

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Wilfried Zaha says he has no plans to leave Crystal Palace.

The 25-year-old has four years to run on his current deal with Palace and has been linked in the past with Tottenham.

However, he told the club website: “Crystal Palace is my home town and the support we have here is genuine support with families watching with their kids loving us as players so I don’t really see myself anywhere else.

“I am enjoying my football here and just focused on us being a stable club and not having to listen to all the speculation about us getting relegated.”

Palace have not claimed a point without Wilfried Zaha this season and he admits he enjoys being their talisman. “I put the pressure on myself because I want to be that player,” he said. “When you look at different teams they look to someone to score goals or do whatever. I like to have that pressure.”

Palace are five points above the relegation zone with four matches left and they can take a step closer to safety when they play Watford at Vicarage Road on Saturday.

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#BBNaija 2018 Day 81: Tobi Gives Alex A Hair Upgrade

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On the morning of Day 81 in the #bbnaija hoise, Tobi tenderly offered to trim Alex’s long braids and refresh her hairstyle. As she came to sit on the floor, he sat behind her caringly held a pair of scissors in his hands as the improvised hairdresser he had become to allow her to change style and feel glammed up.

The sight of Tobi clumsily and slowly cutting Alex’s hair was only equalled by the pure confidence and comfort she showed in him. Earlier this week, Tobi and Miracle had told Alex of their genuine appreciation of her natural, uncompromised beauty as they seemed to never make a big case of the range of flashy colours she sported in her hair.

It is a rare woman who would let inexperienced hands near her crown of glory, as the fear of bad hair days is usually enough to threaten any woman’s poise.

Despite Tobi’s lack of credentials in this domain, Alex didn’t blink for a second as she let him gently trim her waist-long green mane. It made for a rather jolly instant to have the twice Head of the #bbnaija House Alex and thrice Head of House Tobi share this unplanned intimate moment.

As soon as the matter had been handled, Alex sprung back on her feet and rushed to the mirror to admire her new reflection, while Tobi stretched out his arms, looking all proud of his achievement.

For all the wahala that the #bbnaija House has given us the viewers, Alex and Tobi have stuck to each other and have gone through thick and thin together.

Like the two peas in a pod that they are, they’ve tolerated each other’s craziness and come rain or shine dealt together with their mixed emotions.

No matter what happens after the game, Alex and Tobi’s friendship will go down in the history of the #bbnaija house as one that has proven that the language of friendship was not words but meanings.

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#BBNaija 2018 Day 81: What Caught The Attention Of The Housemates?

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With the Big Brother Naija Finale drawing closer, the #bbnaija Housemates are employing different tactics to help them cope with the inevitable end of the game.

Being locked up in a House with no contact with the outside world can sure have both positive and negative effects on anyone’s psyche, but luckily, the #bbnaija finalists are equal to the challenge. Although this week has been far from slow, the housemates are continuing to take it easy mostly, as the week comes to a close.

Alex and Tobi have officially taken their respective places as ‘King and Queen of dance’. On any given morning, the two besties can be seen staring at themselves in the garden mirrors, dancing up a storm, with no care in the world.

Sometimes, the two regale each other with stories from their real lives outside the #bbnaija House. Other times, they make a game out of mimicking Big Brother’s voice as it beams a directive over the House speakers.

Cee-C on the other hand, usually keeps to herself and pops up when it’s time for a Task Briefing. Yesterday however, Cee-C gave everyone something to talk about when she went on a verbal tirade against Tobi after he had “gossiped” about her. That and the Strike that followed gave the gang enough to talk about, well into the night.

Nina and Miracle have been sure to spend every waking moment with each other. When they are not sitting outside soaking up the last rays of the early winter sun, the two hop into bed and take lazy siestas in each other’s arms.

Today, Miracle’s aeronautical know-how was put to good use by the gang, who had spotted an ‘Unidentified Flying Object’. Responding to shouts of “Miracle come down quickly,” the 22-year-old pilot sprinted out of the house and made a beeline for the garden, where Alex and Tobi were waiting, eyes fixed at the sky. “What is that? A rocket? A plane? It’s going so fast”.

Miracle then confidently assured his fellow #bbnaija Housemates that everything was in order and there would be no alien invasions anytime soon. “It’s a commercial jet,” he confirmed, before going on to measure how high the plane was flying and possibly how fast.

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‘Proud To Have Been Your Rival, Colleague And Friend’’- Sir Alex Ferguson’s Tribute To Arsene Wenger

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Arsene Wenger has received a tribute from his biggest rival, Sir Alex Ferguson

Arsene Wenger revealed on Friday that he will be stepping down at the end of the season after 22 years in charge of the club.

And The Arsenal manager has received praise from the biggest rival of his career, Manchester United great Sir Alex Ferguson.

“I am really happy for Arsene Wenger,” Ferguson told Manchester United’s club website. “I have great respect for him and for the job he has done at Arsenal.

” It is great testament to his talent, professionalism and determination that he has been able to dedicate 22 years of his life to a job that he loves. In an era where football managers sometimes only last one or two seasons, it shows what an achievement it is to serve that length of time at a club the size of Arsenal.”

“I am pleased that he has announced he is leaving at this stage of the season, as he can now have the send-off that he truly deserves. He is, without doubt, one of the greatest Premier League managers and I am proud to have been a rival, a colleague and a friend to such a great man.”

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Brighton Reward Young Goalkeeper Robert Sanchez With New Three-year Contract

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Brighton have agreed a new three-year contract with young goalkeeper Robert Sanchez.

The 20-year-old, who joined the Premier League Seagulls from Spanish side Levante in 2015, has yet to make a first a first-team appearance for the club. His new deal runs until June 2021.

“Robert has worked with the first team on multiple occasions and it’s always a pleasure to have him join in with our sessions,” manager Chris Hughton told the club’s official website.

“He’s thoroughly deserved his new contract and I’m looking forward to watching him develop further over the next few years.”

Robert Sanchez has kept 11 clean sheets in 24 Premier League 2 appearances over the past two seasons.

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Everton Won’t Rule Out Selling Ademola Lookman Permanently To RB Leipzig

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Red Bull Leipzig want to keep Everton winger Ademola Lookman in Germany, having loaned the young Englishman from Merseyside in January.

Sporting director Ralf Rangnick told ESPN he will hope to conclude a deal with the Toffees at the end of the season.

“If it were down to us, I’d already know the answer,” he said. “But it’s not only down to us. We have no clause in the contract.

“I think that we can only answer the question once the season’s finished. It also depends on what happens at Everton.”

Lookman has made seven appearances in the Bundesliga since joining on deadline day in January and has scored two goals.

“Mola has shown that he is more than just a desperate last-minute signing,” Rangnick said.

“How he played during the second half at Bremen, I really liked that. And not only because he scored that goal.”

Everton boss Sam Allardyce had been reluctant to allow Lookman to leave on loan but granted the England under-21 international his wish.

Allardyce had been keen for Lookman to go to Derby County but the youngster was set on a switch to Germany.

Allardyce howeer admits “everybody has his price” and refused to rule out selling the England under-21 international but stressed the offer would have to be one that makes sense for Everton.

“It depends what we think as a board of directors and as a football department,” he said.

“Where are we going to go if we let him go?

“What are we going to do with the money that we’re going to accumulate from him?

“How much money are they going to offer?

“Everybody has a price so if the price goes to where we think we should accept it then I would recommend it but if the price doesn’t get anywhere near then we’ll have him back here and see how he goes on next season.”

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Sevilla Defender Gabriel Mercado Jokes He Cannot Hurt Barcelona Star Lionel MessiIn Copa Del Rey Final

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Sevilla’s Gabriel Mercado has a big Job of trying to stop Argentina teammate and Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi in Saturday’s Copa del Rey final, and joked he will be in trouble in his homeland if he is too physical on the Albiceleste captain.

Knowing that everyone back home in South America will be watching, Mercado joked ahead of the game at the Wanda Metropolitano stadium: “If I smack him [Messi], I will not be able to return to Argentina.”

Mercado, likely to be included in Argentina’s World Cup squad, says on a more serious note that it will take a collective effort to limit the five-time Ballon d’Or winner and La Liga’s leading scorer.

“You cannot stop Messi by fouling him,” Mercado told Diario AS. “You hit him and he still wants to continue to play football. It’s that, football, he always wants to score goals and hurt the opposition. He is the best without a doubt.

“He appears anywhere on the pitch, he score goals, provides them. We are going to have to work a lot defensively, we have to be perfect. We have a dream which is to win the title and no one is going to take that away from us.”

“To reach a final is always a blessing and it will not be a failure to lose the Copa final although we are only thinking about winning,” Castro told Cadena Ser radio. “We’ve had an excellent season. We played against many teams in three different competitions and that wears you down.

“We ended up paying for the hard work we did in the Champions League in La Liga but we must continue. To have played in Europe and to be fighting for a title is extraordinary.”

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Real Madrid Boss Zinedine Zidane Has No Regrets Over Not Signing Kepa Arrizabalaga

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Real Madrid boss Zinedine Zidane insists he has no regrets over the club’s decision to not sign Athletic Bilbao goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga.

Madrid were tipped to sign Kepa in January but they eventually pulled the plug on their interest and the goalkeeper subsequently extended his contract at Athletic.

The Spain goalkeeper produced several fine saves to help his side secure a point at the Bernabeu on Wednesday night and prevent Madrid from moving within one point of second place in the LaLiga table.

Zidane was asked at the post-match press conference if it had been a mistake not to bring in Kepa in January and replied: “I’m not thinking about that at all. If I made the decision not to bring in a keeper in the middle of the season, then that’s that.

“When I start a season, I start with three goalkeepers and I finish with three goalkeepers if nothing happens. The opposition goalkeeper is young and very good but he’s not my player and in the middle of the season I don’t need a keeper.”

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Arsene Wenger Resigns: Arsenal Majority Owner Stan Kroenke Pays Tribute To Arsene Wenger

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Arsenal majority owner Stan Kroenke has issued his own statement, saying the decision for Arsene Wenger to step down as Arsenal manager after 22 years was one of his most difficult days in sport. 

“One of the main reasons we got involved with Arsenal was because of what Arsene has brought to the club on and off the pitch,” he said. His longevity and consistency over such a sustained period at the highest level of the game will never be matched.

“Arsène has unparalleled class and we will always be grateful to him. Everyone who loves Arsenal and everyone who loves football owes him a debt of gratitude.

“Three Premier League titles, including an entire season unbeaten, seven FA Cup triumphs and 20 successive years in the Champions League is an exceptional record. He has also transformed the identity of our club and of English football with his vision for how the game can be played.

“We have high ambitions to build on Arsène’s remarkable tenure and to honour his vision by ensuring that Arsenal competes for and wins the biggest and most important prizes in the game.

“We must now focus on making a strong finish to the season and ask our millions of fans around the world to join us in paying appropriate tribute to one of the greats of Arsenal’s history and one of the greats of the game.”

The early favourite to succeed Wenger is the former Borussia Dortmund head coach Thomas Tuchel, although with the German understood to be on his way to Paris Saint-Germain to replace Unai Emery, the likes of Carlo Ancelotti and Patrick Vieira are being touted as Wenger’s potential successor.

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Swansea City Players To Give Premier League Champions Manchester City Guard Of Honour

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Manchester City will receive a guard of honour from Swansea players after clinching the Premier League title.

Swansea manager Carlos Carvalhal revealed his side will line-up to welcome the City players on to the pitch at the Etihad Stadium after they won the league with five games to spare.

The Welsh club, who are still in a fight against relegation, contacted the Premier League about marking City’s success before kick-off and were given the go-ahead to honour their title success.

“We are proud to the do guard of honour for Manchester City on Sunday.” Carvalhal told the club’s official website.

“They are the best team in the Premier League and they play fantastic football.

“Congratulations to them, to Pep Guardiola, all the players and the club. They deserve to be champions — the numbers show you that.”

City could go onto break the record for most points, most wins and most goals in a single season and Carvalhal says Guardiola is a special coach.

“I am very happy to be part of football at a time when we have great managers like Pep Guardiola and Jose Mourinho, and great players like Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi,” he added.

“Pep Guardiola is one of the managers who will be remembered in the history of football.

“People said his football would only work at Barcelona, then when he won in Germany they said Bayern Munich always win in Germany.

“But he has proved you can play good football and win anywhere.”

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Swansea City Players To Give Premier League Champions Manchester City Guard Of Honour

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Manchester City will receive a guard of honour from Swansea players after clinching the Premier League title.

Swansea manager Carlos Carvalhal revealed his side will line-up to welcome the City players on to the pitch at the Etihad Stadium after they won the league with five games to spare.

The Welsh club, who are still in a fight against relegation, contacted the Premier League about marking City’s success before kick-off and were given the go-ahead to honour their title success.

“We are proud to the do guard of honour for Manchester City on Sunday.” Carvalhal told the club’s official website.

“They are the best team in the Premier League and they play fantastic football.

“Congratulations to them, to Pep Guardiola, all the players and the club. They deserve to be champions — the numbers show you that.”

City could go onto break the record for most points, most wins and most goals in a single season and Carvalhal says Guardiola is a special coach.

“I am very happy to be part of football at a time when we have great managers like Pep Guardiola and Jose Mourinho, and great players like Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi,” he added.

“Pep Guardiola is one of the managers who will be remembered in the history of football.

“People said his football would only work at Barcelona, then when he won in Germany they said Bayern Munich always win in Germany.

“But he has proved you can play good football and win anywhere.”

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‘We Will Show Arsene Wenger The Respect He Deserves’- Jose Mourinho

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Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho insists he always had respect for Arsene Wenger even during their heated run-ins.

Wenger announced on Friday that he will step down as manager of Arsenal at the end of the season after 21-and-a-half years at the club.

Jose Mourinho has been critical of the Frenchman in the past, previously labelling him a “specialist in failure” and a “voyeur,” but the Portuguese coach insists he never lost admiration for his adversary.

“If he’s happy I’m happy, if he’s sad, I’m sad,” Mourinho told a news conference in London on Friday ahead of Saturday’s FA Cup semifinal against Tottenham. “I always wish the best for my opponents.

“You don’t know the way we respect each other even when sometimes it doesn’t look like we don’t.

“Players that get yellow cards and red cards by aggressive actions against each other — the manager is the same thing but the ones that respect more each other are the ones with the problems.

“It’s power and ambition and quality against each other but in the end it’s people from the same business and we respect each others’ careers.”

Mourinho will go head-to-head with Wenger one more time when Arsenal visit Old Trafford next weekend.

Mourinho hopes the former Monaco and Grampus Eight boss will continue to work in football following his Emirates exit.

He added: “I know what it means, three Premier League titles and seven FA Cups, what he did in Japan and France, what he brought to French football and what he gave to Arsenal in the period without Premier Leagues, the transition from stadium to stadium, we know what he did.

“If he’s happy with the decision, I’m really happy and I hope he doesn’t retire from football.”

Asked whether he regretted many of his spats with Wenger, which were often characterised by the strength of Mourinho’s response, he was dismissive: “It’s not about regretting. I think your question is a typical question from somebody that was not a manager, not a player. Of course, you don’t know the way we respect each other even when sometimes it doesn’t look like we don’t.

“Players that get yellow cards and red cards by aggressive actions against each other, bad words during the career – the manager is the same thing. The ones that respect each other more are the ones with the problems. It’s power against power; ambition against ambition; quality against quality. But in the end it’s people from the same business who respect one another’s careers.

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