Inter and Atletico withdraw after Agnelli says European Super League a no-go

By Sports Desk April 21, 2021

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  • Dortmund superstar Haaland believes he can 'improve on everything' Dortmund superstar Haaland believes he can 'improve on everything'

    Erling Haaland is widely recognised as one of the best strikers in the world, but he still believes he can "improve on everything" about his game.

    The Borussia Dortmund man has been strongly linked with a move to the likes of Manchester City, Real Madrid and Bayern Munich, with reports suggesting he has a release clause of €75million that becomes active at the end of the season.

    Speaking to Sky Sports, Haaland may have further tempted those teams and any others who have the money to do a deal by suggesting he is far from the finished article.

    "I think I can improve on everything," he said. "If you say I am good at finishing, I can improve my finishing a lot. I can become faster, so I can improve that. I can become stronger, so I can improve that.

    "But if I should improve one thing, it would be to not get injured, because if I am not injured, I will play a lot more games and I will deliver even better. If you were to ask what my goals are for 2022, it is to not be injured, and the goals for the rest of my career are to not be injured. That's the main thing."

    Haaland has scored 80 goals in 79 games in all competitions since moving to Signal Iduna Park from Salzburg just over two years ago.

    Of players in Europe's top five leagues, only Bayern's Robert Lewandowski (107) has scored more in that time, having played in 11 more games than Haaland.

    The 21-year-old was named as part of the FIFPro World 11 at The Best FIFA Football Awards, where Lewandowski took home the top men's prize ahead of Lionel Messi and Mohamed Salah. Haaland was asked who his top three would have been.

    "I think you would have to say Lewandowski number one," he said, "Then you have, for me, [Karim] Benzema has also been amazing, but Messi has also been outstanding – so Benzema and Messi in shared second and third place."

    The Norway forward was also asked about his recent comments that Dortmund were forcing him to make a decision on his future as soon as possible.

    Haaland said in a post-match interview following last week's 5-1 win against Freiburg that the club "press me to make a decision now about my future", though Dortmund chief executive Hans-Joachim Watzke denied this.

    "I don't really want to say too much about it, but I felt it was time for me to say something," Haaland told Sky. "A lot of others were speaking – so that was it. Now, I don't want to say too much. I said what I said, and now we move on."

  • Everton managerial candidate Pereira: 'If they want me, they must call me' Everton managerial candidate Pereira: 'If they want me, they must call me'

    Vitor Pereira has confirmed he has been interviewed by Everton over the vacant managerial position and declared: "If they want me, they must call me."

    Everton sacked Rafael Benitez earlier in January after a dismal run of one win in 13 league games left them six points above the relegation zone.

    That cushion has now been reduced to four points after Everton lost to Aston Villa on Saturday, with Duncan Ferguson having taken interim charge.

    A host of names have been linked with the job, though all with vastly different profiles. Former Toffees boss Roberto Martinez, sacked in 2016, was an initial candidate, but the Belgian FA rebuffed Everton's approach.

    Fabio Cannavaro is also said to have been interviewed, similarly Frank Lampard. Wayne Rooney, meanwhile, confirmed last Friday that no approach had yet been made to Derby County's administrators.

    However, widespread reports on Monday claimed that Pereira was the favoured choice of owner Farhad Moshiri, whose running of the club has come under scrutiny from fans. 

    Those reports were met with some outcry, with a photo spread via social media on Tuesday showing graffiti at Goodison Park reading: "Pereira out. Lampard in."

    With suggestions on Wednesday that Everton were still weighing up options, Pereira – who was dismissed from a second spell in charge of Fenerbahce in December – took the somewhat surprising decision to speak to Sky Sports.

    "The club asked me to come for a meeting. I had a few interviews, not just one, with different people at the club, the board. We discussed everything, and I gave them my point of view about the club, the team," Pereira explained.

    "I think they were enthusiastic to what I proposed. An intense game, pressing, possession. We need to give confidence to the players, to the team and the fantastic supporters. This is what I proposed to them. What I felt in the meetings was that they were positive."

    Asked if he had been informed whether he would be getting the job, Pereira said: "They have other candidates and this is a time for decisions.

    "No, [they have not told me]. Just to wait for the decision, be calm, and they are grateful for the interviews, that's all.

    "What I want to tell you is that all of my career, I worked under pressure. About the decision? It's something I can't control.

    "I built my career with passion, organisation, competence. This is what I can offer to the club. I give 100 per cent of me, football for me is 24 hours. This is my life, my passion. 

    "I will move forward with my life. If they want me, they must call me. That's all."

    In response to the graffiti, Pereira said: "This is the first time in my career that I see this kind of thing. My CV speaks for itself. The club is not in a good position and the supporters have passion, this passion is the power of this club.

    "[Critics] don't know me very well, they don’t know my work, know me as a person. I worked in a lot of countries, different clubs, different levels, got several titles.

    "I don't take this as a personal attack."

    Pereira has won four league titles across spells in charge of Porto, Olympiacos and Shanghai SIPG.

  • Rule change means Premier League clubs must have at least four COVID-19 cases to request postponement Rule change means Premier League clubs must have at least four COVID-19 cases to request postponement

    Premier League teams will need to have at least four confirmed COVID-19 cases in order to apply for a match to be postponed from next month.

    In a change to league rules announced on Wednesday, a new "impact threshold" will be introduced, meaning clubs can no longer request for a game to be called off if they have a single case of coronavirus.

    The change will come into effect ahead of the match between Burnley and Watford on February 5. The game was twice rescheduled because of cases of the virus leaving each side struggling to name a full contingent of players.

    Announcing the new rule, the Premier League said: "Throughout the pandemic, the Premier League has adapted its guidance in response to the wider public health situation. The guidance was last updated in December in response to the emergence of the Omicron variant.

    "The League's postponement rules and guidance are designed to protect the wellbeing of players and staff, while maintaining the sporting integrity of the competition and the quality of squads playing League matches.

    "Club applications will continue to be assessed on a case-by-case basis. The Premier League Board examines a number of factors, including the ability of a club to field a team; the status, severity and potential impact of COVID-19; and the ability of the players to safely prepare for and play the match.

    "The detail within all applications is scrutinised by the League’s specialist staff before the Board makes its decision."

    Previously, teams could apply for a postponement if they had a confirmed case of the virus within the squad and were unable to name 13 available players plus a goalkeeper, with injuries and international absences also taken into account.

    Frustration began to build among teams and fans as 22 matches were called off, including the north London derby between Tottenham and Arsenal, with the Gunners' request for a new date granted after Martin Odegaard tested positive.

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