Football rumours: Kylian Mbappe sends entourage for talks with Man City

By Sports Desk February 19, 2024

What the papers say

Kylian Mbappe‘s entourage met with figures at Manchester City last week before the news broke of his impending exit from Paris St Germain this summer, according to Sky Sports.

Former Bayer Leverkusen manager Rudi Voller has pushed for coach Xabi Alonso to stay at the club, with Sky Sports reporting the Spanish coach is scoping out options at Liverpool and Bayern Munich.

Manchester United’s shake-up continues as they try to bring in Newcastle director Dan Ashworth, but the Daily Mail has revealed the Magpies will not allow him to join before 2026 unless they get significant compensation.

Social media round-upPlayers to watch

Marcus Rashford: The Sunday Times reports PSG are eyeing the Manchester United star as a potential replacement for Mbappe.

Kevin Long: The 33-year-old Irishman is on the verge of moving across the pond to join Major League Soccer club Toronto.

Jack Clarke: Southampton are looking to edge out other clubs with a £15million bid to lure the 23-year-old forward to the south coast, according to the Sun.

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  • Let’s protect the players – Mikel Arteta criticises scheduling as Arsenal go top Let’s protect the players – Mikel Arteta criticises scheduling as Arsenal go top

    Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta stood in unison with Manchester City counterpart Pep Guardiola in condemning the fixture schedule.

    Guardiola said it was “unacceptable” that his side had to play an FA Cup semi-final less than 72 hours after being in action in the Champions League on Wednesday night as they beat Chelsea at Wembley on Saturday tea-time.

    The Gunners’ plight was arguably worse as they were also in Europe on Wednesday night but had to travel back from Germany on Thursday following their Champions League exit to Bayern Munich.

    They made light of that quick turnaround as they beat Wolves 2-0 on Saturday to go back to the top of the Premier League before they play again on Tuesday night against Chelsea.

    “It’s not about us, Pep or myself, it’s about the well-being of the players,” Arteta said after Leandro Trossard and Martin Odegaard goals sent his side one point above City.

    “Especially when you are competing in European competition, everything has to be competed in the same way.

    “You cannot have a team that hasn’t played for seven days or three days before and has more recovery time and you have to play in the Premier League or the FA Cup.

    “It is not right. If you look at it any angle it’s not right. If you want to protect and you always talk about the players and the protagonists, let’s protect them and think about them and do everything we can to give them the maximum time so they can recover and they can maintain the show they put on every week.

    “We stayed in Munich, I think we had two hours sleep, wake up and we started to talk about Wolves first of all and then understand what we had to do to win the game.

    “The boys were unbelievable. You look at the amount of games we have played in the last few weeks, the type of games we have played and the attitude and the way they have run today is top.”

    It was a good recovery from the Gunners after a horror week where their title hopes were damaged by a 2-0 home defeat to Aston Villa last week before their Champions League exit in Munich.

    But they could be four points clear of City by the time Guardiola’s side next play as they try to wrestle control of a thrilling title race.

    Arteta added: “It was really good, I really liked the performance, the result, the clean sheet but also the way individually and a team they showed they still have a step forward to make.

    “We realised we want to be involved in big competitions, fighting for the Champions League, fighting for the Premier League, the level it requires, we have to do something special. You have to have that love to compete.”

    Wolves battled hard but are crippled by injuries, with the majority of their key attacking players sidelined.

    They are now six games without a win, but boss Gary O’Neil was proud.

    “I thought it was an incredible performance, it exceeded my expectation of what we were able to produce today,” he said.

    “We didn’t deserve to lose 2-0, losing 1-0 and not quite being able to break them down is probably as bad as it should have been for us.

    “We came up just short against one of the best teams in world football so there’s no disgrace in that.”

  • Let’s protect the players – Mikel Arteta criticises scheduling after Arsenal win Let’s protect the players – Mikel Arteta criticises scheduling after Arsenal win

    Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta stood in unison with Manchester City counterpart Pep Guardiola in condemning the fixture schedule.

    Guardiola said it was “unacceptable” that his side had to play an FA Cup semi-final less than 72 hours after being in action in the Champions League on Wednesday night as they beat Chelsea at Wembley on Saturday tea-time.

    The Gunners’ plight was arguably worse as they were also in Europe on Wednesday night but had to travel back from Germany on Thursday following their Champions League exit to Bayern Munich.

    They made light of that quick turnaround as they beat Wolves 2-0 on Saturday to go back to the top of the Premier League before they play again on Tuesday night against Chelsea.

    “It’s not about us, Pep or myself, it’s about the well-being of the players,” Arteta said after Leandro Trossard and Martin Odegaard goals sent his side one point above City.

    “Especially when you are competing in European competition, everything has to be competed in the same way.

    “You cannot have a team that hasn’t played for seven days or three days before and has more recovery time and you have to play in the Premier League or the FA Cup.

    “It is not right. If you look at it any angle it’s not right. If you want to protect and you always talk about the players and the protagonists, let’s protect them and think about them and do everything we can to give them the maximum time so they can recover and they can maintain the show they put on every week.

    “We stayed in Munich, I think we had two hours sleep, wake up and we started to talk about Wolves first of all and then understand what we had to do to win the game.

    “The boys were unbelievable. You look at the amount of games we have played in the last few weeks, the type of games we have played and the attitude and the way they have run today is top.”

    It was a good recovery from the Gunners after a horror week where their title hopes were damaged by a 2-0 home defeat to Aston Villa last week before their Champions League exit in Munich.

    But they could be four points clear of City by the time Guardiola’s side next play as they try to wrestle control of a thrilling title race.

    Arteta added: “It was really good, I really liked the performance, the result, the clean sheet but also the way individually and a team they showed they still have a step forward to make.

    “We realised we want to be involved in big competitions, fighting for the Champions League, fighting for the Premier League, the level it requires, we have to do something special. You have to have that love to compete.”

    Wolves battled hard but are crippled by injuries, with the majority of their key attacking players sidelined.

    They are now six games without a win, but boss Gary O’Neil was proud.

    “I thought it was an incredible performance, it exceeded my expectation of what we were able to produce today,” he said.

    “We didn’t deserve to lose 2-0, losing 1-0 and not quite being able to break them down is probably as bad as it should have been for us.

    “We came up just short against one of the best teams in world football so there’s no disgrace in that.”

  • Virgil van Dijk still believes Liverpool can win title race Virgil van Dijk still believes Liverpool can win title race

    Liverpool captain Virgil van Dijk insists “anything is possible” as the Reds seek to overhaul Manchester City and Arsenal in what could be a thrilling season finale.

    Jurgen Klopp’s side dropped to third last weekend after defeat to Crystal Palace and the initiative is now with their rivals.

    However, Van Dijk remains optimistic about their chances over the final six games.

    View this post on Instagram

    A post shared by Virgil van Dijk (@virgilvandijk)

    “Big six. Anything is still possible. We have to give it everything and we will give it everything,” said the Netherlands captain.

    “We have to focus on each game as they come.”

    A Europa League exit to Atalanta in midweek was another blow to confidence but Van Dijk does not see the point in dwelling on past results.

    “We have all the reasons to be disappointed. But it’s our own fault,” he added.

    “It’s not one factor, it’s multiple. We’re all human beings, we all want to do well, keep clean sheets and score goals.

    “But we are where we are and the situation is what it is. When the games don’t go well – obviously didn’t happen many times this season – we all have to switch it back on.

    “We have to focus on ourselves like we always have been doing and that never changes.”

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