Suarez hails era-defining Haaland as Atletico star prefers Dortmund ace to PSG's Mbappe

By Sports Desk March 22, 2021

Borussia Dortmund star Erling Haaland will "define an era" according to Atletico Madrid forward Luis Suarez, who placed him ahead of Paris Saint-Germain sensation Kylian Mbappe.

Haaland continues to take Europe by storm as the Dortmund forward reportedly attracts interest from Real Madrid, Manchester City, Barcelona, Manchester United, Chelsea, Juventus, Paris Saint-Germain and Liverpool.

The 20-year-old, who joined Dortmund from Salzburg in January last year, scored twice in Saturday's 2-2 draw away to Cologne – the Norway international taking his tally to 14 away goals in the Bundesliga this season, more than Werder Bremen (13), Hertha Berlin (13), Mainz (11), Arminia Bielefeld (10) and Schalke (eight) have scored at home in 2020-21.

Suarez heaped praise on Haaland, who has scored 21 goals in 21 league appearances this season and 33 across all competitions.

"He [Haaland] is a great player, he's at a spectacular level, he has an admirable physical strength," Suarez told Gerard Romero on Twitch.

"He's one of the best number nines in the world and will define an era.

"I'm a bit more in favour of Haaland, but [PSG forward Kylian] Mbappe is at a great level."

Suarez, meanwhile, has flourished since leaving LaLiga powerhouse Barcelona for rivals Atletico at the start of the season.

The 34-year-old Uruguay international reached 500 career goals for club and country after scoring Atletico's winner against Deportivo Alaves on Sunday.

Suarez has scored 19 league goals this season – only former team-mate Lionel Messi (23) has netted on more occasions in 2020-21 – as Atletico top the LaLiga standings by four points.

Eyeing silverware in Madrid, Suarez revealed he still keeps tabs on Messi and Barca, having spent six trophy-laden years at Camp Nou.

"I watch them because I like to watch football, I admire the club I defended and I'm grateful," Suarez added.

"I talk to Leo [Messi] almost daily, but sometimes about the odd game. Everyone knows the love I have for them for what I did there, also for what they have given me."

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  • Champions League final: Only Klopp stands between Ancelotti and immortality on night of destiny in Paris Champions League final: Only Klopp stands between Ancelotti and immortality on night of destiny in Paris

    There is a debate to be had that, even if Real Madrid lose Saturday's Champions League final at Stade de France and Carlo Ancelotti never lifts another trophy again, the Italian will still be able to stake a claim as being remembered as the greatest coach of all time.

    After all, he has already won 22 trophies across a managerial career spanning 27 years that has seen him coach 10 different clubs in five different countries. Indeed, he this month became the first coach to win each of the Premier League, Serie A, Bundesliga, Ligue 1 and LaLiga.

    There is no questioning Carlo's credentials, then, but victory against Jurgen Klopp's Liverpool in Paris really would take the 62-year-old into 'GOAT' territory as the outright most successful coach in terms of major European honours.

    Ancelotti is currently level with Alex Ferguson and Giovanni Trapattoni in that regard with seven UEFA club competition triumphs – three Champions Leagues, three Super Cups and one Intertoto Cup, a much-derided competition that is now defunct.

    Many would suggest a better barometer of determining the true Greatest of All Time would be to simply look at how many Champions Leagues or European Cups, as it was formerly known, a manager has won. In that case, Ancelotti is level with Bob Paisley and Zinedine Zidane with three apiece.

    Triumphing for a fourth time in UEFA's showpiece competition, having previously done so with Milan in 2003 and 2007, and Madrid in 2014, would therefore set Ancelotti apart from the rest.

    The hugely experienced coach has a great record when it comes to Champions League finals, too, with victories in three of his previous four such matches. The only exception to that? In 2004-05 when Liverpool famously beat Milan on penalties in a game they trailed 3-0 at half-time.

    CARLO'S CUP PEDIGREE

    The glitz and glamour of a Champions League final was far from Klopp's mind in that campaign when in his fourth season in charge of Mainz. The 2004-05 season was just as memorable for the German club's supporters as Liverpool's, though, as they finished 11th in what was their first top-flight campaign.

    Seventeen years on, Klopp now has a shot at becoming one of 17 multiple-time winners of the European Cup/Champions League, level with the likes of Jose Mourinho, Pep Guardiola and even Manchester United great Ferguson.

    He went all the way with Liverpool in 2019, triumphing over domestic rivals Tottenham, but his previous two finals in the competition ended in disappointment, with defeat against Bayern Munich as Dortmund boss in 2013 and against Zidane's Madrid as Liverpool manager in 2018.

    Zidane may have been replaced by Ancelotti in the Madrid dugout, but this weekend presents Klopp – and indeed Liverpool – with a shot at redemption. Having won two trophies already with the Reds this season, Klopp's cup final record looks a lot better than it did just a few months ago.

    He has now won eight of his 18 finals, which compares to 16 victories from 22 finals for Ancelotti across all competitions. In percentage terms, Klopp has won 44 per cent of finals he has contested, while Ancelotti has won 73 per cent.

    A FAMILIAR FOE AWAITS

    Ancelotti and Klopp are no strangers to one another, of course, with Saturday's showdown set to be their 11th meeting in all competitions. Ancelotti edges the overall record from the previous 10 encounters with four wins to Klopp's three.

    Despite managing an Everton side far inferior to Klopp's Liverpool, Ancelotti lost just one of his three Merseyside derbies during his season-and-a-half in charge of the Toffees.

    That includes three successive games without defeat, culminating in a 2-0 win in February 2021 – Everton's first Anfield victory since 1999 and their first win either home or away over Liverpool since 2010.

    Ancelotti certainly had Klopp's number in the most recent of their battles, although the results of his two finals against English clubs in European competition have been mixed – the aforementioned shoot-out loss in 2005 and a 2-1 win two years later, both during his time with Milan and both against Liverpool.

    The Italian has certainly stood the test of time, with his 70 per cent win rate in his second stint with Madrid bettered only by the 75 per cent enjoyed the first time around in the Spanish capital, and now a shot at history – a fourth Champions League and an eighth European trophy – awaits.

    Against a familiar opponent in both Liverpool and Klopp, and in a city where he helped grow Paris Saint-Germain into a force to be reckoned with just over a decade ago, the stage is set for Ancelotti to further strengthen his claim as being the greatest of them all.

  • Rumour Has It: PSG to make late play for Tchouameni Rumour Has It: PSG to make late play for Tchouameni

    As if the protracted transfer saga for Kylian Mbappe was not arduous enough, new transfer battle lines are being drawn for PSG and Real Madrid.

    The need to rejuvenate Madrid's squad has been identified despite their LaLiga title win and progression to this season's Champions League final.

    According to reports, however, they should prepare for not having everything their way again, with a new player in mind.

    TOP STORY – PSG TO MAKE LATE PLAY FOR TCHOUAMENI    

    PSG are preparing to make a late bid for Monaco's Aurelien Tchouameni in an attempt to snatch him from Real Madrid , according to Goal.

    The 22-year-old Monaco star is almost certain to leave the Principality this off-season, but his destination remains unclear.

    Madrid have reportedly been in talks with Monaco over a prospective transfer for over a year, but have not yet completed the deal.

    Kylian Mbappe was believed to have recommended Tchouameni when he was in talks over a move to the Santiago Bernabeu himself.

    Now Mbappe has decided to stay in the French capital, it has accelerated the race to sign Tchouameni.

    ROUND-UP

    – Chelsea are considering a move for RB Leipzig's Christopher Nkunku, according to Goal.

    Arsenal target Tammy Abraham insists he is happy at Roma but would not rule out a move back to the Premier League, per Metro.

    – In need of a striker, Tuttosport reports the Gunners are also monitoring Alvaro Morata's situation, with his loan deal at Juventus expiring this off-season.

    – Tottenham are targeting Inter centre-back Alessandro Bastoni, with Manchester United also interested, according to the Gazzetta dello Sport.

  • Smalling, Abraham rejoice in Roma Conference League final win Smalling, Abraham rejoice in Roma Conference League final win

    Chris Smalling and Tammy Abraham both revelled in Roma's Europa Conference League triumph after defeating Feyenoord 1-0 in Wednesday's final in Tirana.

    Nicolo Zaniolo's lone goal proved the difference for the Giallorossi, chesting Gianluca Mancini's pass over the top of the defence to poke the ball home past Justin Bijlow in the 32nd minute.

    While Abraham top-scored for the team over the tournament with nine goals, Smalling turned in a man-of-the-match performance at centre-back to help secure Roma's maiden European trophy.

    One of the first in a modern wave of Englishmen playing abroad in Europe's top five leagues, Smalling was well aware of Roma's continental drought, insisting it motivated the team.

    "We knew how much it was going to mean to everybody in Rome, and you can see how together we are, everybody fought until the end," Smalling told BT Sport.

    "We had to do that on a few occasions this year, we dropped a bit deeper than we maybe wanted to but we knew we had to do everything. You could see, strikers running back, everybody defending and we knew we had to win.

    "Even when I first came to the club it had been a long time since they won a trophy, you can hear the fans. We knew how much it was going to mean, you can see we've got some of the best fans."

    Abraham had previously stated he was reticent to play in the Serie A, believing it would take him out of the frame for England selection.

    With 27 goals in 52 games in all competitions this season, Abraham is part of Gareth Southgate's squad for the June international window along with Fikayo Tomori, who this weekend wrapped up the Serie A title with Milan.

    The 24-year-old Abraham believes Roma deserved their victory on the night, while his reception in Italy has inspired him.

    "One thing I said when I came here was I was going to help the team get to the final and one day I want to win a trophy," Abraham also told BT Sport. "In my first season I have achieved that.

    "Credit to my team-mates, excellent performances. We deserve it. We have worked hard all year.

    "I love them (the fans). From day one I came here it has been the best. We are champions, I am happy to be a part of the team, now it is time to celebrate and enjoy."

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