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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    The Germany forward failed to live up to expectations since moving from Leipzig to Stamford Bridge for a fee of £47.5million (€50m) two years ago.

    Although reports suggested his return would initially be on loan with an option to buy, the Bundesliga club have instead secured him on a contract that expires in 2026.

    The 26-year-old scored just 10 Premier League goals in 56 appearances for the Blues, having arrived at the club with 95 goals for Leipzig between 2016 and 2020 to his name – that remains a club record.

    Werner was not included in Thomas Tuchel's squad for Chelsea's 1-0 win over Everton in their first game of the Premier League season, and he said farewell to the club in a social media post on Tuesday.

    Werner wrote: "Dear Blues, today marks the end of my journey with Chelsea FC.

    "I am incredibly grateful for the time I spent at this special club. At this point I would like to express my appreciation for my teammates, the coaches and staff, and especially for you, the special supporters of Chelsea Football Club.

    "I felt so much love and support throughout the last two years and I will never forget how you guys stood behind me in good and in challenging times!

    "We lifted trophies like the Champions League together and I will always remember the song you wrote and chanted for me. I'm already looking forward to hopefully playing at Stamford Bridge again one day! See you soon, Timo."

     

    Soon after, Leipzig confirmed the transfer had been completed.

    Their statement read: "Timo is back – and is now snapping again for RB Leipzig!

    "Our record goalscorer (95 goals) is returning to the Bundesliga after two years in the English Premier League with Chelsea and is again hunting for goals for the Red Bulls.

    "The attacker has signed a four-year contract until 2026."

    Despite Werner's failure to live up to the hype after his £47.5m (€50m) switch to Stamford Bridge two years ago, his tally of 23 goals in all competitions since he joined Chelsea is the joint-highest in the Blues' squad, alongside Kai Havertz, who also arrived from the Bundesliga in 2020.

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    Werner scored 28 Bundesliga goals in his last season with Leipzig, outperforming his expected goals (xG) of 21.

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    Guardiola was one year into a three-season tenure with the Bavarian giants when Lewandowski joined from rivals Borussia Dortmund in 2014, with the striker scoring 67 goals in 100 appearances under him in all competitions. 

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    "I feel like a small child who enters a huge store of new toys," he said. "What I feel in Barcelona so far is pure happiness and motivation to start this new chapter.

    "In Munich, I was missing new challenges. I won many titles and I recognise that I felt less and less intensity. I needed another challenge, a boost, a change of environment.

    "I've always wanted to play in LaLiga, live in Spain, see what life is like here. Twelve years in Germany is a long time. 

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