Rumour Has It: Olmo, Torres and Sterling options for Xavi's Barca, Juve pursuing Pogba reunion

By Sports Desk November 11, 2021

Xavi has his work cut out at Camp Nou following his appointment as Barcelona head coach.

Barca have struggled on the pitch amid off-field turmoil and financial problems.

But Xavi wants to make Barca great again and he reportedly has his eyes on some players across Europe.

 

TOP STORY – BARCA EYE TRIO

RB Leipzig star Dani Olmo and Manchester City pair Ferran Torres and Raheem Sterling are transfer options for Barcelona, according to Thursday's Mundo Deportivo.

Xavi is now at the helm of Barca and the club great is tasked with restoring the fortunes of the embattled LaLiga giants.

The Barca head coach is keen to reinforce his squad in either January or at the end of the season.

Barca have also been linked with Chelsea forward Timo Werner and Manchester United veteran Edinson Cavani.

 

ROUND-UP  

- Gazzetta dello Sport says Paul Pogba is set to leave United and Juventus are trying to re-sign the Frenchman, though his salary is proving problematic. Pogba is out of contract at the end of the season and he has been linked with Real Madrid and Paris Saint-Germain.

Inter are pressing Marcelo Brozovic to sign a new contract by Christmas, claims Gazzetta dello Sport. The Croatia international is reportedly wanted by Barca, Liverpool, PSG and United.

Steven Gerrard is expected to join Aston Villa as their new manager, reports Fabrizio Romano. The Rangers boss is set to be joined by his backroom staff at Villa.

Fiorentina are trying to sign River Plate striker Julian Alvarez as Dusan Vlahovic prepares to leave but Juve are also interested, according to Corriere dello Sport. Vlahovic has no plans to renew in Florence and the Serbia international has been linked with City, Atletico Madrid, Arsenal, Tottenham, Juve and Inter.

- The Mirror says United are confident of landing Leicester City's Brendan Rodgers as their new manager. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is under mounting pressure at United and former Liverpool boss Rodgers has emerged as a target for the struggling Red Devils due to a release clause in his contract.

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  • Arteta insists Arsenal 'did the right thing' by requesting Tottenham postponement Arteta insists Arsenal 'did the right thing' by requesting Tottenham postponement

    Mikel Arteta hit back at Arsenal's critics following the postponement of Sunday's north London derby as he insisted "we did the right thing."

    The Gunners were due to make the short trip to Tottenham Hotspur Stadium for a showdown with their fierce rivals, but the game was called off due to a lack of players available to Arteta.

    Arsenal were accused of exploiting the Premier League's rules, with the majority of players absent due to injury, suspension or Africa Cup of Nations duty.

    The club only one confirmed positive COVID-19 case at the time of lodging an application to get the derby called off, but the Premier League deemed they were unable to meet the required number of available players – 13 outfielders and a goalkeeper – despite their Under-23s having a squad of 16 for a game on Friday.

    Tottenham head coach Antonio Conte felt the decision to postpone the match was "very, very strange."

    Arsenal manager Arteta hit back on the eve of Thursday's EFL Cup semi-final second leg at home to Liverpool, which he expects to go ahead despite "issues that have not been resolved" in his squad.

    Asked what he thought about people saying Arsenal could have played the game, the Spaniard said: "We played against Forest [in the FA Cup] when we had 10 players out and we went to Liverpool and we had many players out.

    "We have done that and we have played with academy players when we already have the youngest squad in the league.

    "Tomorrow if we have everybody available as I suspect we will play the match because we want to play football."

    He added: "I think more than hate [being directed towards Arsenal] there is a lot of respect for Arsenal and that comes from the history of the club, how it's always acted and how it has always conducted itself.

    "We know we did the right thing. We worked with the Premier League and the FA to make that decision. If anything we've been very honest at least."

    Arteta stressed that it was "100 per cent guaranteed" that Arsenal did not have enough players to face Spurs.

    Asked if the criticism of the club could be used as a fuel to drive his team, Arteta said: "We will defend our club tooth and nail. We're not going to get anybody damaging our name or trying to spread lies."

    Arteta revealed Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is back in London and has undergone tests after returning from the Africa Cup of Nations for medical reasons without playing a game.

    The Gabon striker had tested positive for COVID-19 on January 6 and was subsequently diagnosed with "heart lesions".

    Arteta said: "He's in London and going through some examinations because we haven't had any clarity from Gabon about why he came back.

    "So it's our obligation to make sure he's safe and in good condition. So far historically with what we've done with the player that's never been an issue."

    Aubameyang has not featured for Arsenal since December 6, having been stripped of the captaincy due to a breach of club rules.

    Arsenal and Liverpool played out a goalless draw in the first leg of their EFL Cup tie at Anfield, with Granit Xhaka seeing red in the first half.

  • 'Nothing has happened' for Hazard at Real Madrid, insists Ancelotti 'Nothing has happened' for Hazard at Real Madrid, insists Ancelotti

    Carlo Ancelotti has reaffirmed there is no problem with Eden Hazard, who is finding Real Madrid game time hard to come by.

    Hazard was an unused substitute in both of Madrid's Supercopa de Espana matches last week in Saudi Araba, as Los Blancos went on to win their first trophy of Ancelotti's second spell in charge.

    The former Chelsea star, who turned 31 earlier in January, has endured an injury hit time at Santiago Bernabeu since his big-money move in 2019.

    While he has in the main avoided injuries so far this season, Hazard has only made eight starts across all competitions, with his game time totalling 724 minutes.

    Hazard has only completed a game on one occasion this season, having been subbed off in his other seven starts, and he has only assisted on two occasions from 27 chances created, failing to score himself.

    Per 90 minutes played, Hazard has had 66 touches, with eight in the opposition area.

    Vinicius Jr, who has excelled on the left flank – Hazard's preferred position – under Ancelotti, averages nine touches in the area per 90 minutes played, and he has featured 28 times this season in total.

    The Brazil international creates 2.2 chances per 90 minutes and he has been directly involved in 22 goals (15 goals, seven assists), second only to Karim Benzema in Madrid's squad (33 – 24 goals, nine assists).

    With such quality competition, Ancelotti explained it is natural for players to miss out, but insisted there is no issue between himself and Hazard.

    "It is true that the two have had many setbacks due to injuries," Ancelotti told a news conference when asked about Hazard and Gareth Bale, who has played just 193 minutes across three appearances in 2021-22.

    "Hazard has been doing well from a physical point of view for a month and a half. I don't have to advise Hazard, he has the character and the experience to choose the best for him.

    "The quality of the two could have helped us more, but it's only been the first part of the season. Hopefully the second half can be better.

    "Nothing strange has happened between us, simply that there is competition and the coach, which is me, has to choose the best for each game. I try to be fair and choose the best. Sometimes you are very good and you don't play. I'm also talking about Nacho, [Dani] Ceballos, Isco, [Luka] Jovic.

    "Nothing has happened, only that there is competition in the team and I have to choose the best in each game. This affects many players, I can't deny it. Nothing has happened, he is training and waiting for the coach's call. I think he will be ready when it arrives."

    Asked if Hazard might be moved out this month, Ancelotti said: "At the moment he is still a Madrid player, he is training, focused... We have nothing else to think about."

    While Hazard did travel to Saudi Arabia for the Supercopa tournament, Bale instead remained in Madrid to work on his fitness, and Ancelotti said the Wales forward is available for Thursday's Copa del Rey meeting with Elche.

    "He will be in the squad and all those who are have the chance to play from the beginning or as a sub. It can also happen that they don't play," the Italian added.

    Thibaut Courtois will not be available due to a minor injury.

  • Xavi defiant over Dembele: Sign the contract or be sold Xavi defiant over Dembele: Sign the contract or be sold

    Barcelona coach Xavi has issued an ultimatum to Ousmane Dembele over his future: either sign a new contract or leave the club this month.

    The Catalans have been in discussion with the winger for months about an extension to his deal, which expires at the end of the season.

    Dembele has struggled badly with injury troubles since his move from Borussia Dortmund in 2017 for an initial €105million, which have hampered his attempts to establish himself as a key player at Camp Nou.

    Xavi, though, has been eager to see the France international stay at the club despite him playing just six times in LaLiga this season and in only 52 per cent of all Barca's league games since his arrival.

    This week, Dembele's agent Moussa Sissoko told RMC Sport that he would not bow to "pressure" from Barca over his client's future and accused the club of making "threats of no longer playing in the side" rather than engaging in productive talks.

    It appears Xavi and Barca's directors have had enough of the situation and the message to Dembele is clear.

     

    "What I can say is that we are making a difficult decision. If he does not renew, the club has decided they will make a decision," Xavi told reporters ahead of Thursday's Copa del Rey clash with Athletic Bilbao.

    "We've waited a long time. We have been in talks with him for five months.

    "Either he renews or we look for an exit. In the end, the club has decided that if he does not renew, a solution must be found.

    "We have to do what is best for the club. [Sporting director] Mateu Alemany has been talking with him and his representatives for months.

    "It's not a pleasant situation for anyone, but what's clear is that the interests of the club must prevail here.

    "He told me he wants to stay. It's a question for him. I've been really clear; I can't be more concise. Either he renews, or we look for an exit. It's all or nothing."

    Xavi also made it clear he considers it a priority to extend the contract of defender Ronald Araujo, which expires at the end of next season.

    "His renewal is a priority. He's a really important piece. He has a winning character," Xavi said.

    "I hope an agreement is reached because he's a player for the present and the future. Ronald is a boy who adds a lot."

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