EPL

Football rumours: Race hotting up in pursuit of Joao Palhinha

By Sports Desk December 06, 2023

What the papers say

Bayern Munich will face stiff competition in their pursuit off Fulham midfielder Joao Palhinha, 28. The Daily Telegraph reports at least two Premier League sides are watching the Portuguese player ahead of the January transfer window.

Arsenal are eyeing a move for Juventus youngster Kenan Yildiz, according to The Sun via Turkish-Football. The 18-year-old moved from Bayern Munich in the summer and earned his first Turkish call-up in October.

Jadon Sancho remains on course for a January exit from Manchester United. The Daily Mirror reports the England winger, 23, is “training like a beast” to prepare for the transfer window.

Social media round-upPlayers to watch

Douglas Luiz: Aston Villa have put a £110million price tag on the midfielder to fend off interest, according to Football Transfers with Arsenal leading the pursuers.

Samuel Iling-Junior: Tottenham and Newcastle are interested in the English winger, 20, with Juventus making him available, according to Italian publication Tuttomercatoweb.

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  • Calvin Bassey: Fulham ‘wanted’ victory more than Manchester United Calvin Bassey: Fulham ‘wanted’ victory more than Manchester United

    Goalcorer Calvin Bassey felt Fulham just “wanted it more” than Manchester United after the Londoners claimed a shock win at Old Trafford.

    Alex Iwobi struck in the seventh minute of stoppage time as the Cottagers killed off a late United fightback to snatch a last-gasp 2-1 victory in the Premier League on Saturday.

    Fulham had been course for what seemed a deserved success courtesy of Bassey’s opener but United produced a strong finish and Harry Maguire appeared to have salvaged a point for the hosts in the 89th minute.

    Yet while United pushed for a late clincher themselves, they were caught on the counter-attack and Iwobi capitalised to secure his side’s first win at Old Trafford since 2003.

    “I don’t think you can just come here and overrun them,” said defender Bassey, whose goal was his first for the club. “You can see the quality of the players they have.

    “They have got top players and a top manager and players that can have an effect off the bench, but we were just at it more and I felt we wanted it more. That showed in the way we played.

    “(The equaliser) was a bit annoying, but we had done so well to even get 1-1, so then it was about making sure we didn’t leave with nothing. But then we got a chance and we were able to bury it.”

    Mid-table Fulham’s victory was only their second in their last six games in what has been an inconsistent season but Bassey hopes a corner has been turned.

    “It is always nice to win a game and hopefully we can keep this momentum going,” the Nigeria international said.

    The result put an end to United’s four-game winning run in the league and dented their hopes of reaching the top four.

    Maguire feels the team need to get it out of their system quickly ahead of Wednesday’s FA Cup trip to Nottingham Forest and then the derby against Manchester City next weekend.

    The England centre-back told MUTV: “We know it’s going to be a tough game in midweek. Our full focus is on that one. We’ve got to bounce back.

    “A big reaction is needed. It’s going to be a tough game, but one that we got to go there and produce a performance like we did there last year.”

    Maguire admitted United were caught out in the end by Fulham but said pushing for the win seemed the right approach at the time.

    He said: “This season we’ve scored numerous late goals, numerous late winners. So we had great belief that we were going to go on to win the game.

    “Obviously in hindsight now we can all sit here and say that we should have been more cautious, we were far too naive.

    “We can look back and I’m sure we’ll assess it in terms of areas that we can improve on but, ultimately, over the 90 minutes we didn’t do enough to win the game.”

  • Former Aston Villa and Northern Ireland defender Chris Nicholl dies at age of 77 Former Aston Villa and Northern Ireland defender Chris Nicholl dies at age of 77

    Former Southampton and Northern Ireland defender Chris Nicholl, who captained Aston Villa to League Cup glory, has died at the age of 77.

    Nicholl, who also managed Southampton before taking charge of Walsall, had been living with dementia, specifically chronic traumatic encephalopathy, which he attributed to brain damage caused by repeatedly heading balls over his lengthy career.

    The former central defender’s death was confirmed in a family statement on his daughter Cathy’s Facebook account.

    It said: “It is with a heavy heart that we write this. Chris Nicholl (our dad) sadly passed away peacefully on Saturday evening in hospital.

    “He fought a very long battle with CTE, caused by his dedication to football. Words can’t describe how much we’ll miss him.”

    Wilmslow-born Nicholl, who was capped 51 times by Northern Ireland and represented them at the 1982 World Cup finals in Spain, began his career at Burnley, but made more than 200 appearances for both Villa and the Saints.

    A dependable defender, he famously scored with a 40-yard piledriver as Villa lifted the 1977 League Cup with a 3-2 second replay victory over Everton which went to extra time at Old Trafford.

    In a series of posts on the club’s official X – formerly Twitter – account, Villa said: “Aston Villa is deeply saddened to learn of the passing of former player Chris Nicholl, who has died at the age of 77.

    “The thoughts of everyone at the club are with Chris’ family and friends at this difficult time.

    “A two-time promotion and League Cup winner, Chris Nicholl’s achievements in claret and blue will never be forgotten.

    “He was a dominant figure at the heart of the Aston Villa defence for over five seasons, making 252 appearances and scoring 20 goals.

    “Rest in peace, Chris.”

    After hanging up his boots, Nicholl moved into management at the Dell when he was appointed as Lawrie McMenemy’s replacement during the summer of 1985, and it was he who promoted the emerging talents of Alan Shearer, Matt Le Tissier and Rod Wallace to the Southampton first team.

    Shearer said on X: “RIP Chris Nicholl. You believed in me and gave me my chance. Thank you.”

    Le Tissier added: “The thoughts and prayers of my family go out to the family of my first manager Chris Nicholl, who has sadly passed away.

    “I’ll always be eternally grateful to Chris for having the faith in me as a 17 year old boy to give me my opportunity to prove I was good enough to be a professional footballer. Gone, but never forgotten #RIPChris.”

    Nicholl parted company with the Saints in May 1991 and spent three years out of the game before taking the hotseat at Walsall.

    The Saddlers said on X: “We are devastated to learn that former manager Chris Nicholl has passed away.

    “Chris led the Saddlers from 1994 to 1997 and won promotion to Division Two in what was a memorable 1994-95 campaign.

    “Our thoughts are with his family and friends at this incredibly sad time.”

    Nicholl was reunited with McMenemy during his spell in charge of Northern Ireland, serving as his assistant manager.

    A statement on the Irish FA’s X account said: “We are saddened to learn of the passing of Chris Nicholl. He played 51 times for us, including the 1982 World Cup in Spain.

    “Our thoughts are with his family and friends at this time”

    In 2017, Nicholl told Shearer as part of a BBC documentary of his fears over the damage he had suffered during his playing career.

    He said: “I am brain-damaged from heading footballs. My memory is in trouble.

    “Everyone forgets regular things, where your keys are. But when you forget where you live, that’s different.

    “I’ve had that for the last four or five years, it is definitely getting worse. It bothers me.”

  • Jurgen Klopp savours ‘most special trophy’ after Liverpool win Carabao Cup Jurgen Klopp savours ‘most special trophy’ after Liverpool win Carabao Cup

    Liverpool’s Carabao Cup final victory over Chelsea was manager Jurgen Klopp’s “most special trophy” after they overcame more injury adversity to win 1-0 at Wembley after extra time.

    Already without 11 first-team players, they lost Ryan Gravenberch to an ankle problem after half-an-hour and finished the match with four academy players on the pitch but the youngsters held out long enough for captain Virgil van Dijk to head the 118th-minute winner.

    “In more than 20 years it is easily the most special trophy I have ever won. It is absolutely exceptional,” said Klopp, who is leaving the club at the end of the season and looked emotional on the pitch at the final whistle.

    “Sometimes people ask me if I’m proud of things and it’s really tricky, I wish I could feel pride more often but tonight is an overwhelming feeling.

    “I was proud of everyone involved in everything here: I was proud of our people (fans) for the way they pushed us, I was proud of the staff for creating this kind of atmosphere surrounding where these boys can just do what they are best at.

    “I was proud of our academy, I was proud of my coaches, I was proud of so many things. It was completely overwhelming.

    “It was nothing to do with it being maybe my last game at Wembley.

    “Can you create in football stories which definitely nobody will ever forget? It’s so difficult because ‘this’ happened before, ‘this’ happened before: this tonight, if you find the same story with academy players coming on against a top side and still winning it, I’ve never heard of it.

    “I loved it. What we see here today is so exceptional. We might never see again. Not because I’m on the sidelines but because these things don’t happen in football.

    “I got told there’s an English phrase ‘you don’t win trophies with kids’. I didn’t know that.”

    Victory extended Liverpool’s own record to 10 League Cups and was the seventh major trophy he has won since arriving at the club in 2015.

    His side are top of the Premier League and are one of the favourites for both the FA Cup and Europa League but Klopp has no interest in the sentimentality of his final few months.

    “I couldn’t care less about my legacy, I am not here to create one,” he added.

    “Nothing we’ve done in the last eight or nine years is replaceable, we couldn’t have done the same at another club. It was exactly made for this combination. It is fantastic.

    “We learned so much in that time, the people (fans) learned so much. That’s the one thing – it’s not a problem if a manager leaves, if these people would leave, our supporters, that would be a problem.

    “As long as they are the way they are, Liverpool Football Club will be fine and that’s the most important thing.

    “From time to time you need something to really celebrate. This was so special, you saw the game and saw the circumstances, they become bigger.

    “We had a ref (Chris Kavanagh) who was not up to the level of the game, that didn’t help one team or the other. There was no common sense again.

    “Then getting through all things. You see tired players. I have no clue who can play on Wednesday (against Southampton in the FA Cup) because we have players on the pitch until the end of the game who had problems.”

    Klopp reserved special praise for his captain, who put in a real leader’s performance to lift his first trophy since taking over from Jordan Henderson.

    “From the first day coming into the club (Van Dijk) was absolutely outstanding. Thank God he is in form, top shape. I think he learned an important lesson for himself: you always can win the game,” he said.

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