Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang believes he can become a Champions League winner with Barcelona and expects Xavi to use him as a number nine.

Released by Arsenal after a turbulent end to his Gunners career, Aubameyang described coming to Barcelona as "the opportunity of my life".

The 32-year-old forward has been brought in to add experience and goals to a Barcelona team who have been short on both counts this season.

For all the talented youngsters being brought through, Barcelona sit fifth in LaLiga after 21 games, having won only nine times so far.

Aubameyang follows Ferran Torres and Adama Traore in leaving the Premier League for Camp Nou in recent weeks, and while Barcelona have already been knocked out of this season's Champions League, the latest addition to Xavi's squad sees no reason why they should not be successful there next term.

"Barca is a great club that has to win the Champions League. That's why I came to Barca," Aubameyang said at his presentation.

"It's an opportunity to win the Champions League, and I'm here to do everything we can to get back into the Champions League and then go out and win it.

"It's true that I've not played for a little while, but in my head everything's very clear, and I'll be ready soon to play and help out, and I know we're going to go back to the top little by little.

"I have spoken with the coach. He sees me playing as a number nine, and I will be ready very soon to play there. If he needs me on the wing, there will be no problem with that."

Barcelona have scored just 32 goals in LaLiga so far in 2021-22, the seventh-most in the competition. This is despite them having the second-highest expected goals (xG) total of 36.9 (beaten only by Real Madrid's 44.58).

The xG metric looks at the quality of a team's chances, rather than the quality of finishing, and by bringing in Torres and Aubameyang, Barcelona will hope they can begin to make better use of their opportunities.

Aubameyang said the move had felt "like a dream" and he was "not ready to wake up", but the mention of Erling Haaland from reporters at his presentation may have been a momentary reality check.

For all that Aubameyang may bring this season, Barcelona are already looking for newer additions, and 21-year-old striker Haaland has been long linked with the club.

The Norwegian is starring for another of Aubameyang's former teams, Borussia Dortmund, and Barcelona president Joan Laporta ushered away enquiries at Thursday's presentation when Haaland's name was raised.

Aubameyang has scored seven goals this season at one every 159.29 minutes, while Haaland has hit 23 for Dortmund, finding the back of the net every 70.35 minutes.

"Today we're occupied and very excited with Aubameyang," Laporta said. "In June, we will strengthen the squad. We're on the right track.

"Right now, we're occupied with the present and the immediate. What we want is to try and compete for the league, and also win of course the Europa League, which are the competitions that remain today.

"That's the state of affairs today. With regard to players, it's of course work for the technical staff. There are interesting players, and we will evaluate the opportunity to incorporate those, but I'm not going to talk about that now."

India secured a comprehensive 96-run win over Australia at the Coolidge Cricket Ground on Wednesday to set up an encounter with England in the final of the ICC Men’s Under-19 Cricket World Cup on Saturday.

After winning the toss and batting first on a batting-friendly pitch, the Indians made good use of their opportunity to post 290-5 off their 50 overs.

Captain Yash Dhull was the star with a stroke-filled 110 off 110 balls with 10 fours and a six while Shaik Rasheed supported his skipper well with a well-made 94 off 108 balls with eight fours and a six.

Australia’s bowling unit didn’t have much success with Jack Nisbet and William Salzmann being the only wicket-takers with 2-41 from nine overs and 2-57 from 10 overs, respectively.

Lachlan Shaw was Australia’s main run-scorer in a futile chase with 51 while Corey Miller got 38.

Campbell Kellaway was the only other Australian batsman to get to 30 as the Aussies were routed for 194 in just 41.2 overs.

Vicky Ostwal was the pick of the Indian bowlers with 3-42 from his 10 overs while Nishant Sandhi and Ravi Kumar took two wickets each.

The final between India and England will take place at the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium in Antigua on Saturday while Afghanistan and Australia will contest the 3rd place playoff on Friday at the Coolidge Cricket Ground.

India are four-time winners of the event (2000, 2008, 2012, 2018) while England’s only title came in 1998.

Manchester United interim manager Ralf Rangnick explained Jesse Lingard was not allowed to leave in January partly due to Mason Greenwood's unavailability.

Greenwood was arrested on Sunday on suspicion of rape and assault following allegations made on social media.

He was then further arrested two days later on suspicion of sexual assault and threats to kill. Greenwood, who has not publicly commented on the allegations, was released on bail "pending further investigation" on Wednesday.

United confirmed on Sunday that the 20-year-old will not train or play for the club "until further notice", with their statement stating they do "not condone violence of any kind".

Lingard had been hoping to leave Old Trafford in search of regular first-team football, having only made two starts and 12 substitute appearances in all competitions for the Red Devils this season.

Newcastle United and West Ham – where he enjoyed a successful loan spell last season – were both reportedly interested, however United refused to sanction a move, with Rangnick outlining their reasons ahead of Friday's FA Cup fourth-round tie with Middlesbrough.

"Three weeks ago, Jesse didn't want to leave, then he changed his mind," Rangnick told reporters. "I had a chat with him 10 days ago and could fully understand why he wanted to leave for game time, for his future and also for the World Cup.

"I said in case he found a club he wanted to play for and also found a solution with our club, I would allow him to leave. But obviously with all the developments in the last [few] days, things changed a little, and we also had no agreement with any other club.

"So at one stage we had to take a final decision with the board, and we decided to keep Jesse until the end of the season."

When pressed further as to whether Greenwood's arrest had been a factor, Rangnick added: "In a way, yes, but in the end the board told me they couldn't find an agreement with those clubs interested in him, so with the window closing on Monday evening, in the afternoon the board said they would rather he stayed. 

"For me it was a decision I could fully understand and accept. It was two things, we had the problem with Mason Greenwood, being without a player for the time being who has played regularly, and then on the other hand the club couldn't find an agreement with any other club."

The German coach also confirmed Lingard had requested a couple of days to "clear up his mind", with the 29-year-old set to miss the Middlesbrough match.

Despite the situation surrounding Greenwood, Rangnick felt United were able to have a "normal" week of training.

"We had a good and normal week of training, five sessions including today," he said. "Obviously I suppose [Greenwood] was a topic within the team, but they are all human beings and Mason was part of the group before our break.

"It was a good week of training, we could train in normal circumstances and we are looking forward to the game."

Paul Pogba will be at the disposal of Ralf Rangnick for the first time on Friday as the Manchester United midfielder makes his return from injury.

Pogba has not played since early November due to a groin issue sustained on international duty with France – the 28-year-old pulled up during a shooting drill.

While United did not put a specific timeframe on his recovery initially, it was then revealed in early January that they were not expecting him back for at least another month.

Pogba, whose contract expires at the end of this season, spent part of his rehabilitation period in Dubai, a decision Rangnick appeared to openly question.

But despite that apparent disagreement and the lingering doubts around Pogba's future at the club, Rangnick is seemingly ready to throw him straight back into the action when United face Middlesbrough in the FA Cup fourth round on Friday – several others will be missing, though.

"Yes, Paul will be part of the group, he may even be in the starting XI," Rangnick told reporters on Thursday.

"There are still a couple of players missing out: Edi Cavani will only return at the weekend. He contacted me a week ago and asked me if he could have two more days at home and I allowed him because I knew that he couldn't be in the starting XI [against Boro] anyway with the jet-lag and only coming back today or last night, so he won't be part of the group.

"Victor Lindelof has been ill the whole week and not training so will miss out, the same is true of Jesse Lingard [he has been absent from training]. He asked for a couple days off to clear up his mind, so he will be back in the group next Monday for training and then be a regular part of the squad again.

"Eric Bailly came back yesterday, he has some problems, a swollen ankle, and will therefore not be a part of the squad [on Friday] but all the other players will be available."

United's squad looks rather slimmer than before the international break. With Mason Greenwood absent "until further notice" and the club allowing Donny van de Beek, Anthony Martial and Amad Diallo to depart on loan, Rangnick's options have depleted.

Added to that, United did not make any first-team signings during the January transfer window, though Rangnick felt before that the squad was too large.

"As I said earlier [in January], I thought so far the group was slightly too big, too many players, too many without seeing the chance for regular game time, this is why I'm happy not only for the club but also the players," he continued.

"Players like Donny, Anthony and Amad, they deserved to get regular game time. I wish them all the very best, I was in contact with all three players.

"Amad has already played and scored, and I'm pretty sure Anthony and Donny will do well at Everton and Sevilla and come back in the summer in good form."

Rangnick was also asked about the possibility of Mauricio Pochettino taking over as coach at the end of the season, though the German – who is set to move into a consultancy role from next season – could not offer any great insight.

He said: "I have no idea, my full focus is on developing and training the group right now. We have important games coming up in three different competitions.

"I can't give any reasonable answer to that, my focus is on the upcoming games and months."

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is holding out hope that he can be reunited with contract rebel Ousmane Dembele in the Barcelona team.

Dembele has resisted calls to sign new terms to extend his contract, that runs out at the end of this season, and that stance has seen him exiled from matchday squads.

Barcelona were frustrated they could not sell Dembele in January, amid reported strong interest from Paris Saint-Germain, and they face losing him on a free transfer unless he can be persuaded to commit.

The 24-year-old French winger played with Aubameyang at Borussia Dortmund in the 2016-17 season, and they remain close.

"I've got to tell you the truth, he's training really well," Aubameyang said at his Camp Nou presentation on Thursday.

"If anything, as a friend of Ousmane, I hope he and the club will find a solution.

"Knowing Ousmane as a player, he's a fantastic player of course. Like I said before, I hope that he finds an answer. This is something I can't decide."

Aubameyang joined the LaLiga giants after being released from his contract with Arsenal, agreeing a deal until June 2025 with an option to cut ties earlier, in June 2023. The deal includes a buy-out clause of €100million.

Barcelona president Joan Laporta said Aubameyang had made "a sacrifice" to come to Barcelona, seemingly firming up the recent suggestion he has taken a pay cut.

"You know that once we have a more healthy financial situation, we will help you as you are helping Barca now," Laporta told Aubameyang.

The 32-year-old Barcelona new recruit fell out of favour with Arsenal manager, Mikel Arteta, resulting in him losing the captaincy at Emirates Stadium and being left out of recent squads.

Aubameyang was accused of failing to show the right level of commitment, and was punished for disciplinary breaches.

"He wasn't happy and that was it," said Aubameyang, when asked about Arteta. "I can't say anything else because that's what happened. I'm better this way.

"There were some complicated months. Sometimes football is like that. On my behalf, I never wanted to do anything bad, but OK, now I have to put this behind me."

The Gabon international added: "I'm very happy and very grateful to you, Mr President, for signing me. This is an honour for me to be here, to play for Barca, so I'm very happy.

"I hope to score an awful lot of goals for Barca. I've always had the dream to play in LaLiga. I think this is an incredible opportunity that I've dreamt of since I was a child.

"This is the opportunity of my life."

Wales will give Josh Adams his first international start at centre when they take on Ireland in their opening game of their Six Nations title defence at the Aviva Stadium on Saturday.

The Cardiff Blues star, who has scored 17 tries in 35 Tests for Wales, will be given the number 13 jersey for the first time as head coach Wayne Pivac attempts to rediscover the magic achieved in last year's tournament when he moved George North to the role.

Adams will play in the midfield alongside Nick Tompkins, while Will Rowlands is back in the starting line up alongside vice-captain Adam Beard.

Taine Basham will be making his debut in the Six Nations in the back row with Aaron Wainwright and Ellis Jenkins.

Everton have confirmed that Frank Lampard's former Chelsea and England team-mate Ashley Cole has joined the club's coaching set-up.

Lampard was officially appointed as Everton's new manager on Monday, just over two weeks after Rafael Benitez was sacked following a dismal run of results.

Everton swiftly made moves to back Lampard, bringing in midfielders Donny van de Beek and Dele Alli.

However, Lampard has also brought with him a significant amount of experience in the form of an array of coaching staff.

Benitez's departure capped a turbulent period at Everton, who parted ways with their director of football Marcel Brands, and the majority of the recruitment department, in December. Dan Donachie, the club's director of medical services, had left the previous month.

Duncan Ferguson took interim charge for Everton's defeat to Aston Villa last month and was assisted by goalkeeper coach Alan Kelley and academy coaches Leighton Baines and John Ebbrell.

While Ferguson and Kelley have both stayed on to assist Lampard, Baines and Ebbrell have returned to their academy roles, with Paul Clement, a long-time assistant to former Everton manager Carlo Ancelotti, Joe Edwards, who left Chelsea to join Lampard as assistant manager, and Chris Jones, the new head of performance, all appointed.

They have now been joined by former Arsenal, Chelsea and England defender Cole as a first-team coach.

"I'm delighted to add Ashley into my backroom team. Everyone knows about his superb playing career and what he has achieved in the game," said Lampard.

Cole finished his playing career at Derby County under Lampard, and moved into a coaching role with the Rams before following his former manager to Stamford Bridge in October 2019. Last year, he became assistant to Lee Carsley within England's Under-21s set-up.

Cole said: "I was thrilled when Frank asked me to join him at Everton. 

"The chance to link up again with Frank was another huge draw. He is an excellent manager and leader. With the rest of the staff here, we have everything in place for what we want to achieve together."

Everton face Brentford in the FA Cup on Saturday in Lampard's first game in charge, before taking on Newcastle United in a crucial clash at the bottom of the Premier League.

Clement Lenglet has suffered a hamstring injury, Barcelona have confirmed.

France defender Lenglet has been on the fringes for Barca this season, making just 16 appearances in all competitions, starting eight times.

The last of those appearances came against Deportivo Alaves on January 23.

It has been in stark contrast to previous seasons, when the former Sevilla centre-back was a mainstay of Barca's defence, playing 84 times in LaLiga between 2018-19 and 2020-21.

However, the 26-year-old will now be out of action for the foreseeable future, with Barca revealing he has injured the femoral biceps in his left hamstring.

No timescale has been placed on Lenglet's return.

Xavi's Barca – who made three additions to their squad in the January transfer window, albeit all of them are attackers – play Atletico Madrid on Sunday before a derby against Espanyol the following weekend.

Olympics chief Thomas Bach has confirmed he will meet with tennis star Peng Shuai during the Winter Olympics in Beijing.

There has been global concern expressed for the safety, whereabouts and wellbeing of Chinese player Peng, who has competed at three summer Olympic Games.

In December, Peng denied making an accusation of sexual assault against a Chinese government official, saying there had been "a lot of misunderstandings" about a post on social media in November.

That post on her Weibo account, since removed, contained sexual assault allegations against Zhang Gaoli, the ex-vice premier and member of the Chinese Communist Party's Politburo Standing Committee.

Amid concerns for Peng after the accusation, the head of the women's tennis tour, WTA chairman Steve Simon, said he struggled to believe she had sent him an email that claimed the allegations were false and that she was safely at home.

The WTA has since suspended all its tournaments in China.

International Olympic Committee (IOC) president Bach said in a news conference on the eve of the Winter Olympics opening ceremony that 36-year-old Peng was living in Beijing, and that she claimed to be allowed to move freely. He said the IOC would support Peng if she considered an "inquiry" into her circumstances necessary.

Bach's stance throughout has been that "quiet diplomacy" is required, and he did not deviate from that on Thursday. He explained Peng would enter the "closed loop" of the Games, which has been designed to separate the Olympics from the rest of Beijing during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

"The answer is, yes, we will have the meeting," Bach said, when the issue was raised in a news conference.

"I'm very happy and grateful to Peng Shuai that she will enter, in order to have this meeting, because she also wanted to have this. We discussed it in November."

Bach said the IOC had previously made contact with Peng "to get to know where she is and as far as possible how she is". He has already spoken to Peng via video link.

"What better way than to have a personal meeting," he added. "This is why already in the first meeting, I said I want to meet personally once I arrive in China, and this will happen.

"It is also not only a sign of respect, but a necessity to respect her and then to listen to her and how she sees the situation, how she wants to live her life. This is what we are step by step trying to find out.

"If she wants to have an inquiry, of course we would also support her in this, but it must be her decision. It's her life; it's her allegations. We have heard the allegations, and we have heard the withdrawal.

"We will have this personal meeting and there we will continue this conversation, and we will know better about her physical integrity and her mental state when we can meet in person. This was the objective of this initiative from the very beginning.

"We say it publicly we have this information, but so far only by video conference. This cannot replace the personal contact and appearance.

"We know from her explanations during these video conferences that she is living here, in Beijing. She's reporting she can move freely, she's spending time with her family and friends, and now we will be able to do the next step in a personal meeting to convince us of her wellbeing and her state of mind."

Cameroon captain Vincent Aboubakar has not been impressed by Mohamed Salah's displays and says the forward cannot consider himself on the same level as Kylian Mbappe.

Salah has scored two and set up another in five matches in Egypt's run to the Africa Cup of Nations semi-finals, where hosts Cameroon await in Yaounde on Thursday.

The 29-year-old has also enjoyed another prolific campaign at club level, having scored 23 goals in 26 games for Liverpool in all competitions.

That compares to 19 goals in 29 matches for Paris Saint-Germain star Mbappe, who has made a slow start to 2022 with one goal in his first four appearances.

Indeed, Robert Lewandowski (34 in 28) and Karim Benzema (24 in 28) are the only players to outscore Salah among those from Europe's top five leagues this term.

However, speaking ahead of Thursday's meeting between Cameroon and Egypt, Aboubakar insists Salah is not currently on the same level as Mbappe.

"He is having a great season in the Premier League and is helping his country to advance in the competition. I wish him a lot of luck. May the best win," Aboubakar told RFI.

"He doesn't impress me much. I say it clearly because I'm an honest person and I have my way of seeing things.

"If he impressed me, I would say so. But he doesn't impress me much. He's a good player, he scores a lot but he doesn't produce a lot of stuff in the game.

"Of course, he's doing good stuff in the Premier League because he's been in a team that's been there for years. He's a good player but not at the level of some like Mbappe."

After scoring and assisting in the 2-1 quarter-final win against Morocco, Salah has been involved in 62 per cent of Egypt's AFCON goals since his competition debut in 2017 (8/13).

He trails Aboubakar in the race to be crowned the delayed 2021 edition's top scorer, though, with the Cameroon skipper leading the charts thanks to his six goals.

That is one goal more than team-mate Karl Toko Ekambi, with the pair responsible for all 11 of the hosts' goals up to this point.

Asked about his blossoming partnership with Toko Ekambi, Aboubakar said: "We are complementary to each other, but the most important thing is for the team to win.

"If me, Karl or any other player manages to score and Cameroon win, that's the most important thing. We must raise Cameroon to the top in this competition."

Gianni Infantino's plan for a biennial World Cup came under fire from Olympic figures on Thursday, with a claim FIFA could "create immeasurable damage" across sport.

At the International Olympic Committee (IOC) congress in Beijing, held on the eve of the Winter Olympics opening ceremony, the view was voiced that football could have a profoundly negative impact if the World Cup switches from being held once every four years.

The powerful European and South American confederations, UEFA and CONMEBOL, have refused to support world governing body FIFA's plans, but there is support from within Asia, Africa and the CONCACAF region that covers North and Central America, plus the Caribbean.

FIFA issued studies in December that showed solidarity funding for each of its 211 national associations would rise from $6million to "potentially" $25million for the first four-year cycle of an era of biennial World Cups.

Yet there is concern among senior figures in other sports that football's power could be detrimental in the wider picture of sport, pushing other events into the background.

Algerian Mustapha Berraf, who serves as president of the Association of National Olympic Committees of Africa (ANOCA), told the IOC congress he was firmly opposed to FIFA plans.

"The plan would create immeasurable damage and would put sport in danger and in particular football," Berraf said. "It would simply push away other sports and relegate them to the back benches – which is unacceptable – and create a rift between women's and men's sport, and be a setback to our aim of creating equity and parity for all sports."

According to the Guardian, Berraf added: "I make the request to put an end to this endeavour which is incompatible with our Olympic values."

There was also opposition expressed by Nenad Lalovic, president of United World Wrestling, and Ryu Seung-min, vice-president of the IOC Athletes' Commission.

IOC president Thomas Bach said Infantino, who is also an IOC member, had written to him this week to advise he would not be able to attend congress, denying members a chance to discuss the World Cup plans face to face.

"We would like to discuss this with the FIFA president, but this is not possible because he cancelled his visit to Beijing the day before yesterday," said Bach.

"We should not discuss this now on a wider scale on this issue in his absence in respect for our colleague."

Bach said the remarks would be sent on to Infantino.

Asked later in the day how he had learned that Infantino would not be coming to Beijing, Bach told a news conference the FIFA chief had blamed the pandemic.

He said: "Mr Infantino has written me a letter the day before yesterday, [in which he said] that because of the pandemic situation he would not travel to Beijing, and he would follow the session from Cameroon, where he would be for the semi-finals and the final of the Africa Cup (of Nations)."

A goal from Joel Campbell in the 62nd minute gave Costa Rica a critical 1-0 victory over Jamaica at the National Stadium in Kingston on Wednesday night. The defeat effectively scuppers Jamaica’s chances of qualifying for the 2022 FIFA World Cup.

After a scoreless first half that saw Costa Rica GK Keylor Navas called into action several times, both teams dialled up more attacking postures in the second half.

In the 50th minute, Jamaica MF Devon Williams had an opportunity at the top of the box after a move down the right wing but sent his effort over Navas’ goal.

In the 61st minute, Jamaica’s stopper Andre Blake was given his turn to come through, with Kevin Stewart whistled for a penalty on Campbell. Veteran Costa Rica Celso Borges stepped up but was denied by Blake.

The celebrations on the Jamaica bench had barely concluded, however, when Campbell found the winner. Borges played a ball over the top to the 29-year-old attacker, and he took a touch with his left to move inside and beat Blake to his back post.

Jamaica manager Paul Hall modified his lineup in search of an equalizer, with one of the best chances coming in the 71st minute when Andre Gray narrowly missed a chance to apply a finishing touch to a cross toward the back post.

The Costa Rica win moves the Ticos within a point of the playoff position, pending later results.

When Costa Rica returns to action in the final window of qualification, it will host Canada, while Jamaica will be back in the National Stadium for a contest against El Salvador.

Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer will combine for Team Europe in this year's Laver Cup.

Nadal became the record holder for men's singles grand slam titles on Sunday, as he came from two sets down to beat Daniil Medvedev in the final of the Australian Open.

Federer, who like Novak Djokovic has 20 grand slam titles to his name, has not featured since losing to Hubert Hurkacz in the quarter-finals at Wimbledon last year.

The Swiss star is recovering from a knee injury and chose to sit out the season's first major in Melbourne.

However, injury permitting, the great rivals will team up to represent Team Europe in London in September.

Europe have won the last four editions of the tournament, though neither Nadal nor Federer featured in 2021.

"The Laver Cup is such a unique event and I've loved competing in it," said Nadal, who has played in the competition on two occasions previously.

"I suggested to Roger we should play doubles together in London and he seems keen, so now we just need to persuade our captain Bjorn [Borg].

"Roger has been a huge part of my career, a big rival and also a true friend. To be part of Team Europe together is great and if we're able to possibly share the court one more time as a doubles pairing then this would be a truly special experience for us both at this stage in our careers."

 

Federer added: "I'm really looking forward to getting back into competition later this year and Laver Cup is very much part of my plan.

"It's no secret that I love the event and I'm super excited to be returning to The O2 and to London, one of the greatest cities in the world.

"Rafa is an incredible person and an inspiration to me and countless others around the world. He messaged me on social media after the Laver Cup in Boston last year suggesting we play doubles in London and I am definitely up for a Laver Cup 'Fedal' comeback!"

Federer and Nadal have only teamed up for a doubles match once before – in the inaugural Laver Cup back in 2017.

They beat American duo Jack Sock and Sam Querrey in three sets.

Daniil Medvedev and Jannik Sinner have been replaced by Andy Murray and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the upcoming Rotterdam Open.

World number two Medvedev lost a thrilling five-set Australian Open final to Rafael Nadal on Sunday and does not feel ready to compete in the Netherlands.

The Russian explained his decision in a statement on Thursday, while Sinner has had to pull out due to COVID-19.

"Unfortunately I will not play in Rotterdam this year," Medvedev said. 

"I just got back from Australia and am not ready to compete. Rotterdam is one of the favourite stops. I look forward to coming back in the future."

Roberto Bautista Agut and Borna Coric had already pulled out of the competition. Tournament director Richard Krajicek has confirmed that Murray and Tsonga, who won the event in 2009 and 2017 respectively, will now take part as wild cards.

Andrey Rublev is the reigning champion in Rotterdam after beating Marton Fucsovics in last year's final.

© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.