EPL

Sterling joins Chelsea: Man City gamble increases pressure on Grealish ahead of crucial second season

By Sports Desk July 13, 2022

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  • Xabi Alonso replaces Seoane at Bayer Leverkusen Xabi Alonso replaces Seoane at Bayer Leverkusen

    Xabi Alonso has replaced Gerardo Seoane as Bayer Leverkusen's head coach.

    Former Liverpool, Real Madrid and Bayern Munich midfielder Alonso coached Real Sociedad B between June 2019 and May 2022, having previously worked in Los Blancos's youth system.

    The 40-year-old has now been handed his first head coach role at the top level on a two-year deal, with Leverkusen opting to part ways with Seaone after a dismal start to the season has left them sitting 17th in the Bundesliga.

    "Gerardo Seoane has done a good job for Bayer 04 over the past year and a half, above all by qualifying for the Champions League," said sporting director Simon Rolfes. 

    "Unfortunately, we have strayed from the road to success. From our point of view, the early elimination from the DFB-Pokal, but especially the fact that the current position in the Bundesliga is far below our expectations, made the change of coach imperative.

    "In Xabi Alonso, we have signed a coach who, as a player, was an absolute world-class professional for many years, an intelligent strategist and extremely successful in three of the most demanding European leagues."

    Alonso, who helped Spain win the 2010 World Cup, made 79 Bundesliga appearances for Bayern between 2014 and his 2017 retirement, winning three successive league titles under Pep Guardiola and Carlo Ancelotti.

    "I know Leverkusen from my time in Germany as an excellent club," Alonso told his new team's official website. 

    "Bayer 04 have always had great players, and I see a lot of quality in the current squad too.

    "During discussions with the club, it quickly became clear that, despite the current difficult situation, ambitious goals are still being pursued in principle. I am very excited about this task and I am sure that we will live up to this claim."

    Seaone's final game in charge was a 2-0 Champions League loss at Porto on Tuesday, Leverkusen's fourth defeat in their last five away games in the competition. 

  • 'Playing in Europe is always great' – Arteta relishing Europa League challenge despite Champions League aim 'Playing in Europe is always great' – Arteta relishing Europa League challenge despite Champions League aim

    Mikel Arteta said Arsenal will not take participating in the Europa League for granted ahead of Thursday's tie with Bodo/Glimt, but acknowledges the Gunners have loftier ambitions.

    Arsenal sit top of the Premier League table after a scintillating start to the season; only twice have they bettered this campaign's return of 21 points after eight games in the competition, earning 22 points in 2004-05 and 2007-08. 

    Having missed out to Tottenham in a fierce battle for Champions League qualification last term, however, Arsenal are competing with Bodo/Glimt, PSV and FC Zurich in Group A of Europe's second-tier competition. 

    While Arteta knows Champions League football must be the aim for his team, he said Arsenal will "make the most" of their continental campaign.

    "Playing in Europe is always great. We know we would want to be playing yesterday or today, but that's the next step," he said on Wednesday. 

    "This is the reality, and we have to make the most of it.

    "It's a test for the squad, in terms of the numbers and the quality. If you make changes, how much you notice it, whether you can continue consistently playing at the top level.

    "Everyone's going to have to do that after the World Cup, especially with the schedule.

    "It's a competition that is really important for us, we know how important it is to be on top of the group and the home advantage, we have to use it."

    Meanwhile, William Saliba and Bukayo Saka have both expressed confidence they will sign new contracts after emerging as key components in Arteta's side, and the Arsenal boss says the club is working on deals for the duo, as well as fresh terms for Gabriel Martinelli.

    Arsenal have been forced to sell several stars after allowing them to run their contracts down in the past, but Arteta moved to quell fears of a repeat, adding: "Obviously we have to plan for the future, and we are all working on it.

    "Edu is on top of it, and all the board. We will try to do things in the right way, being fair, and rewarding the players that – in our opinion – have a big future for the club.

    "When we have something to announce, we will do it. Every player is different and what happened in the past, the people that were in charge had the right reasons.

    "We will try to do the same thing and make sure the club is always protected, that the club is always in a good position to move forward, and the players are happy."

    Arsenal saw their first scheduled home game of the Europa League campaign, against PSV, postponed following the death of Queen Elizabeth II last month, and will look to end a poor continental run at the Emirates Stadium on Thursday.

    The Gunners have failed to win any of their last three home European matches (D2 L1), their worst such run since they went six without victory between October 2002 and September 2003.

  • Former Juventus and Inter defender Asamoah announces retirement Former Juventus and Inter defender Asamoah announces retirement

    Former Juventus and Inter full-back Kwadwo Asamoah has announced his retirement from playing at the age of 33.

    Asamoah, who was capped 74 times by Ghana and appeared at two World Cups, most recently featured for Cagliari at club level in the 2020-21 season.

    He confirmed on social media he has officially called time on one chapter of his career and will now become a player agent.

    Versatile defender Asamoah started his career at Udinese and made 279 appearances in Serie A – the most for an African player in the competition's history.

    Asamoah joined Juve from Udinese in July 2012 and won 13 titles across six seasons with the Turin giants before spending two years with Inter.

    Injuries curtailed his time at Cagliari, for whom he made his final appearance in a goalless draw against Milan in May 2021.

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