EPL

European Super League: This is not sport – Guardiola against closed-shop competition

By Sports Desk April 20, 2021

Pep Guardiola expressed huge reservations over any closed-shop competitions that remove the relationship "between effort and success" after plans for a European Super League were announced on Sunday.

The Manchester City boss insisted he needed more information about the tournament before making a full judgement, but admitted he was against the concept of a format that involved hand-picked clubs and no open means of qualification for other teams.

City are one of the six Premier League teams to have signed up to the continental breakaway league, which has attracted a deluge of criticism from across the sport and beyond.

Speaking ahead of City's top-flight clash with Aston Villa on Wednesday, Guardiola faced questioning over a development that has dominated the headlines since being made public.

"Sport is not a sport when the relation between the effort and reward doesn't exist," he said. 

"It's not sport when success is guaranteed, when it doesn't matter if you lose. I want the best competitions as strong as possible. In this statement, it's what I feel. This is not sport."

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  • Real Madrid great Paco Gento dies at 88 Real Madrid great Paco Gento dies at 88

    Real Madrid have announced that former star Paco Gento had died at the age of 88.

    The former Spain international was considered one of his country's greatest players of the 20th century and formed part of one of the finest Madrid teams in history.

    Gento scored 182 goals in 600 official matches for Los Blancos, winning a club-record 24 trophies, including 12 LaLiga titles and six European Cups. He remains the only man to have won Europe's top club competition more than five times.

    He also won 44 caps for Spain and featured at the 1962 and 1966 World Cups.

    "Paco Gento truly represents all the values of Real Madrid, and has been and will continue to be a reference for madridistas and for the sporting world," the club said in a statement on Tuesday announcing his passing.

    "He will always be remembered by madridistas and all football fans as one of their greatest."

    Francisco Gento, who began his career with regional teams in his native Cantabria, joined Racing Santander in 1953 before his transfer to Madrid, where he spent 18 hugely successful years.

    A fast and skilful wide player, described by Madrid as one "many believe to be the best left-winger of all time", Gento was part of an historic side that included Alfredo Di Stefano, Ferenc Puskas, Raymond Kopa and Hector Rial.

    He was part of the team that won the first five European Cups from 1956 to 1960 before he captained an all-Spanish Madrid side – known as the 'Ye-ye' Madrid – to a sixth title in 1966. Gento played in eight finals in total, a record he shares with Milan great Paolo Maldini.

    Gento also won 12 LaLiga titles between 1954 and 1969, before he took over as Castilla coach following his retirement in 1971. After spells coaching Castellon, Palencia and Granada, Gento took up an ambassadorial role with Madrid and became the club's honorary president following the death of Di Stefano in 2016.

    "He was fast and he hit the ball like a cannon," Di Stefano said of his old team-mate, as per Radio Marca. "That's not something you learn, it's something you're born with. You can only teach the rest."

  • Rumour Has It: Traore could leave Wolves for Barcelona or Tottenham Rumour Has It: Traore could leave Wolves for Barcelona or Tottenham

    Barcelona remain determined to strengthen their squad despite financial constraints and could be ready to move for Adama Traore.

    It appears the Wolves winger may be sold this month as Bruno Lage's men have already secured a potential replacement.

    Any Barca deal would be complicated by interest from Tottenham, however – assuming they are prepared to match Wolves' demands.


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    Adama Traore could leave Wolves in January, and Barcelona and Tottenham are both interested in the winger, according to the Daily Star.

    Wolves have previously insisted they want to keep the Spain international, but Monday's signing of Portugal Under-21s international Chiquinho could open the door for Traore's exit.

    Spurs are keen but their proposed loan until the end of the season is not something Bruno Lage's side are prepared to accept, as they are holding out for a £25million sale.

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    ROUND-UP

    Barcelona are determined to bring in a striker this month and Alvaro Morata remains the top target, according to Marca. However, negotiations with Juventus have proved difficult.

    – It appears Dusan Vlahovic may not be leaving Fiorentina yet after all. Gianluca Di Marzio reports the Arsenal and Juventus target will be kept until the end of the season.

    Manchester United have turned their attention to signing John McGinn from Aston Villa, but not until the close-season, the Telegraph says.

    – Meanwhile, United striker Anthony Martial does not want to join another English club, leaving BarcaJuventus and Sevilla as his main options, Fabrizio Romano reports.

    – Newcastle United's bid to sign a new centre-back took a blow as Monaco rejected their £33.4m (€40m) bid for Benoit Badiashile, L'Equipe claims.

    – A striker is also on Newcastle's shopping list and they have launched a £25m (€30m) offer for Atalanta's Duvan Zapata, the Daily Record says.

  • Tuchel reveals Mount was unhappy at not starting Man City defeat but insists 'everyone loves Mason' Tuchel reveals Mount was unhappy at not starting Man City defeat but insists 'everyone loves Mason'

    Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel has admitted that Mason Mount was not happy with starting Saturday's 1-0 defeat at Manchester City on the bench, but insists that it will "not last long."

    The Blues' defeat at City saw them fall 13 points behind the Premier League leaders, and eyebrows were raised when Mount was named among the substitutes, not coming on until the 81st minute of the clash at the Etihad Stadium.

    The England international has the most goal involvements in all competitions for Chelsea this season (13 – seven goals and six assists) and has created the most chances (47), ahead of Marcos Alonso (42), Callum Hudson-Odoi and Reece James (both 38). 

    Speaking at a news conference ahead of the European champions' trip to Brighton and Hove Albion on Tuesday, Tuchel said that he received the "burning eyes" that previous Blues manager Frank Lampard had spoken about when he had dropped Mount in the past.

    "Yeah, I get them and this is absolutely normal," Tuchel smiled. "But it's still within Mason's character of kindness and being polite and being respectful, so there is no harm in this.

    "I get the eyes, I get the look. I know the look, of course. He is here to play these kinds of matches, but we were simply opting for runners. We thought we could break the line more often with Hakim [Ziyech] as a left foot on the left side and going for Christian [Pulisic] as a right side because of the arrival of Christian in the box.

    "Normally, he is a bit more offensive, a bit more of a runner than Mason and we expected the spaces more behind the last line and not in front of the back four from City. So that was the decision.

    "I felt Mason not 100 per cent in the zone where he is like untouchable, which he normally almost is. So we took that decision and it can happen from time to time. He's not happy about it, but it will not last long because everyone loves Mason – me included."

    The former Borussia Dortmund head coach also suggested that Mount has missed playing with wing-back James, who has been missing with a thigh injury since the turn of the year, with the duo, along with N'Golo Kante, working well as a triumvirate since playing together at Stamford Bridge.

    "Reece, N'Golo and [Mount] were so strong together," Tuchel added. "This is what we've been talking about. When you turn, you know without even looking he will come now or I will go and get the pass and he will come in, so I will be here.

    "We are missing this. And I think, without asking him now, Mason is missing this. He has this genuine understanding with Reece and with Ben [Chilwell] on the other side."

    Meanwhile, Emerson Palmieri, who Chelsea are rumoured to be attempting to recall from a season-long loan at French club Lyon to help solve their problems at left wing-back, has confirmed that he has tested positive for COVID-19.

    The Italy international said on Instagram on Monday: "Hi everyone, just wanted to come here to say that I tested positive for COVID on Friday, and I truly feel fine and the rest of the family do too.

    "Many thanks for all your caring messages. I hope to be back as soon as possible."

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