Lyon sporting director Juninho wants Real Madrid forward Karim Benzema to finish his career at the Ligue 1 club.

Benzema, 31, came through the Lyon academy and starred in Ligue 1 before joining Madrid for €35million in July 2009.

The Frenchman has scored 233 goals for Madrid, helping the Spanish giants win two LaLiga titles and four Champions Leagues among numerous other trophies.

Juninho, who played alongside Benzema at Lyon, wants the forward to return to the club.

"My desire is to propose to Karim that he finishes his career at Lyon," the Brazilian told OLTV.

"He is from here, he feels from here. Why not make an economic effort between both parties to make it happen?

"We can't offer the same salary as Real Madrid, but we will wait for the right moment.

"We exchanged messages when I was in Brazil. I felt like he would like to come. He has a lot of respect for the club.

"I want him to come and play with us for two years, and then train some of the younger players.

"Karim could be the leader that we need. I dream that he will end his career here at Lyon, his home."

Benzema has made a fine start to this season, scoring 11 goals in 15 games in all competitions for Madrid.

Lyon, meanwhile, are struggling in 14th in Ligue 1, with Rudi Garcia replacing Sylvinho at the helm last month.

Jamaica’s Reggae Boyz have reportedly settled into a new hotel in Antigua following the embarrassing scenario on Monday when the team was met by deplorable conditions at the Starfish Halcyon Cove Resort.

Rodrygo Goes says it is a "shame" he never got to play alongside Cristiano Ronaldo and does not want to be seen as a replacement for the Real Madrid great.

The 18-year-old has made a quick impact at the Santiago Bernabeu since arriving from Santos in a reported €45million deal agreed last year, scoring five goals in six appearances.

Rodrygo has already earned comparisons to Ronaldo, who scored a club-record 450 goals for Madrid before leaving for Juventus in July 2018.

However, the teenage forward – in line to earn his first senior Brazil cap in Friday's friendly with Argentina – is cautious about playing with such high expectations. 

"Being able to play alongside Cristiano Ronaldo at Real Madrid was a dream of mine and it's a shame that he left because now I think it would be very difficult to play with him," he said at a Brazil news conference on Tuesday.

"I am still a very young player to talk about filling the place left by someone like Cristiano Ronaldo, who is one of the greatest players in the history of the club – if not the greatest.

"I don't want to weigh myself down with the pressure of replacing Cristiano Ronaldo."

Rodrygo scored 93 seconds into his Madrid debut in September's 2-0 LaLiga win against Osasuna and netted a hat-trick in last week's 6-0 victory over Galatasaray in the Champions League.

The youngster has made a big impression in the Spanish capital but is surprised by how quickly his career has taken off.

"You always try to make sure you are fully prepared so that things turn out well, but I could never have imagined that everything would happen so quickly," he said.

"It's all come as a huge surprise to me. Only a short while ago I was hoping to make my Champions League debut... and maybe at the most score a goal.

"Scoring a hat-trick like I did was something nobody expected. So I can't really explain how I felt after the game. Al I could do was enjoy a special, once-in-a-lifetime moment."

He added: "Learning the ropes as a footballer isn't just about what's done on the training pitch. There is a big mental part too, preparing yourself so that success doesn't go to your head and knowing how to handle fame and to not be presumptuous. 

"On that side of things, it helped me a lot that my father was a footballer, and that gave me a head start on the mental part. I watched him go through things that are happening to me now and so I know I can't let all of this attention go to my head."

Rodrygo was left on the bench for Madrid's 4-0 win over Eibar on Saturday but is primed to make his senior Brazil debut.

"I feel fulfilled. It has always been my dream," he said. 

"Since I was a boy I have dreamt about representing the national team and playing alongside the best players in the world – players whose careers I have been following for a long time.

"So being here gives me happiness that I can't begin to put into words. Everything that has been happening in my life makes me feel very happy."

St. Andrew Technical High defeated Jamaica College 2-1 at the Stadium East in Kingston on Wednesday to advance to the semi-final round of the 2019 ISSA/Digicel Manning Cup competition.

Dinamo Zagreb midfielder Dani Olmo insisted it has always been his dream to play for Spain, despite interest from Croatia.

Barcelona academy product Olmo joined Zagreb in 2014 and is eligible to represent Croatia, having not yet made a senior appearance for his native Spain.

However, the 21-year-old is in line to earn his first cap this week after being included in Robert Moreno's squad for the Euro 2020 qualifiers with Malta and Romania.

Olmo confirmed the prospect of switching allegiance has been discussed in the past, but he has always been intent on representing the nation of his birth.

"I am proud that Croatia, one of the best national teams in the world, want me and they have let me know about it, but I am Spanish and playing for Spain has always been my dream," he told Radio MARCA.

"A footballer always aspires to the best and playing with the national team is included in that. I must continue working so that this moment can arrive."

Olmo scored three times to help Spain to European Under-21 Championship glory earlier this year, while at club level he has won seven major trophies in four seasons with Dinamo.

Amid rumoured interest from Manchester City, Manchester United and former club Barcelona, Olmo is not thinking about his next move.

"I am 21 years old, I have a long way to go and I have my feet on the ground," he said. "My agent and my father have kept me away from the transfer issues and I am focused on playing football.

"I am in a great moment as the other day we qualified for the cup final and we are close to winning the double again.

"Coming to Croatia was the hardest decision in my life, but no one else offered me the sporting project that Dinamo did - both as a player and as a person. I think I made the right decision."

 

Ivan Rakitic feels like Barcelona have "taken my ball" after being confined to a marginal role at Camp Nou this season.

An influential performer since joining Barca ahead of their treble-winning 2014-15 campaign, Rakitic has been the odd man out this term following the big-money arrival of Netherlands star Frenkie de Jong.

The Croatia midfielder has only started on one of his seven LaLiga appearances, while three Champions League outings have all come from Ernesto Valverde's bench.

Asked about his predicament in an interview with Universo Valdano on Movistar, Rakitic replied: "How can I enjoy it? It's like I've said many times, how does my little daughter feel when you take a toy from her?

"She feels sad. Well, I feel the same. They took my ball. I feel sad."

Rakitic withdrew from Croatia's squad to face Slovakia and Georgia due to an Achilles injury on Tuesday.

Serie A giants Juventus, Inter and AC Milan have all been mentioned as potential January suitors for the 31-year-old, who feels he still has plenty to offer.

"I understand and respect the decisions of the coach or a club or whatever, but I think I've given a lot in these five years and I've been at my peak here," Rakitic added.

"And what I want is to be able to continue enjoying, that is the most important thing for me. I enjoy playing. 

"I'm 31 years old, I'm not 38, and I feel at my best."

Memphis Depay leaving Lyon and joining a "bigger club" would only benefit Netherlands, according to Ronald Koeman.

The 25-year-old signed for the French club in January 2017 and has got his career back on track following a disappointing 18-month spell with Manchester United.

He scored 29 goals in his first two full Ligue 1 campaigns and has seven in 10 outings this term, earning him links with a number of teams, including Tottenham.

Although recognising Lyon as a big club in their own right, Netherlands boss Koeman believes his side will reap the rewards of Depay joining a new side next year.

"He plays at Lyon and is even their captain sometimes," Koeman said at Tuesday's news conference. 

"The fact that he doesn't play for the biggest team in the world clearly doesn't have consequences for his place in the national team. But if he plays at a bigger club, that will also be better for us. 

"Still, Lyon is also a big club that always plays in the Champions League. Again, the fact that he plays in Lyon doesn't mean that he won't be selected for the national team.

"You always hope that every player plays for the biggest clubs that actually compete for the big prizes. 

"I think he's the kind of player that should play at a club like that. If that's in the Premier League or at any other big club, that would be great for him. But you have to ask him about his plans."

Depay has started five of Netherlands' six Euro 2020 qualifiers but is doubtful for Saturday's trip to Northern Ireland due to injury.

The forward also missed the 2-1 win in Belarus last month and Koeman said: "It's nearly the same injury as last time, but in the other leg. 

"He's very positive, because last time he was back on the pitch in about 10 to 12 days. It's too early now to say if he makes the Northern Ireland match. 

"It might be possible that he skips the first match, but plays the second against Estonia. We'll have to wait how that develops day by day."

A draw in Belfast will be enough for Netherlands to seal a spot at next year's European Championship finals, but Koeman is targeting back-to-back wins to finish above Germany in Group C.

"It's the last two matches, the earlier we qualify, the better. A draw might be enough. But I'd rather take six points and win the group. In the end, qualifying is our goal, but I'd rather finish first."

Clement Lenglet says Antoine Griezmann is happy at Barcelona and is confident his team-mate will become a Camp Nou success.

Griezmann has failed to find his best form in Catalonia since joining Barca from Atletico Madrid in a €120million transfer during the close season.

The 28-year-old has been used predominantly in a wide role and has four goals in 15 matches in all competitions, failing to find the net in his past five outings.

However, Lenglet - also a colleague at international level with France - believes Griezmann is still learning to adapt to a new style of play following five seasons under Diego Simeone at Atleti.

"It's not simple to fit in at a club like Barcelona," Lenglet told a news conference on Tuesday. "Some players are already there and have a history together.

"Like in the French national team, there is a very specific way of playing - how we're positioned is different than what Antoine knew at Atletico, where he was starting from far back.

"You need time to adapt to feel better on the pitch and play as well as possible. 

"At Barcelona, we're trying to recover the ball as high as possible on the pitch with a lot of efforts on 20 to 30 metre runs. With Atletico, it was a bit different, they were falling back, and it was 50 to 60 metre runs. So you have to learn that, you need time. 

"Physically it's different, and mentally as well, you need to prepare. Antoine is working on that every day during training, and it's going to be better and better during games, I'm sure of it."

Asked if Griezmann performs differently for his country, speaking ahead of Euro 2020 qualifiers against Moldova and Albania, Lenglet added: "'Different' is a big word, but when he's with the national team, he's having a lot of fun.

"He's been there for a long time, he played a few big tournaments with the team, and he won a really beautiful one. Of course, he knows this place very well, he's very happy to be here, he has a strong history with the team. 

"But he's also very happy to be at Barcelona, even if you're saying otherwise. He's smiling every day and likes to be happy on and off the pitch."

Griezmann admitted last month he had found it "difficult" connecting with Barca superstar Lionel Messi as neither of them are naturally big talkers.

Messi later played down suggestions of any issues, and Lenglet has praised the Argentina superstar for the way he helps new players to adapt at Camp Nou.

"[Messi] is very clam, very relaxed, very normal," he said. "When you arrive at Barcelona, you're careful about what you're doing but it's not Leo who's coming over to tell you off when you make a mistake. 

"He's very simple, he lets you play. This is how it went with Antoine and I. Step by step, you talk to him. 

"He gets along very well with Luis [Suarez] but he's very open with the others, so you can talk about many things, not only football. He's a simple man and he helps us every day."

Raheem Sterling will sit out of England's Euro 2020 qualifier on Thursday after a bust-up with international team-mate Joe Gomez.

Sterling admitted his emotions got the better of him when he confronted Gomez, after the pair also clashed on the field during Liverpool's 3-1 win over Manchester City on Sunday.

Gareth Southgate has sought to act quickly and decisively to draw a line under the matter, but the England manager can at least take comfort from the fact he is far from the first boss to have to try to defuse a team-mates' tiff.

Here we look through some examples of when presumed footballing friends became – however briefly – the best of enemies.

Neymar v Nelson Semedo

Neymar's world-record move to Paris Saint-Germain dominated Barcelona's preparation for the 2017-18 season, and all was not well on the training ground in the weeks leading up to the €222million switch.

Recent arrival Nelson Semedo became involved in a skirmish with the wantaway star in what proved to be an unseemly coda to his time at Camp Nou.

"I just arrived and one of the most important players in the team got in a fight with me," Semedo told Sport five months on from the July 2017 fracas. "It annoyed me at the time, but I also understood he was in a difficult moment, he wanted to leave."

Zlatan Ibrahimovic v Oguchi Onyewu

Never a shrinking violet, Zlatan Ibrahimovic boasts a career of confrontation in football. The taekwondo black-belt seemingly came close to meeting his match in USA defender Oguchi Onyewu when both played for AC Milan.

"I head-butted him, and we flew at each other," Ibrahimovic wrote in his autobiography. "We wanted to tear each other limb from limb. It was brutal. We were rolling around, punching and kneeing each other. We were crazy and furious – it was like life and death.

David Beckham v Alex Ferguson

Many a Manchester United player felt the heat of Alex Ferguson's infamous 'hairdryer' during the Scot's historic Old Trafford reign but – as far as we're aware – his ferocious words never actually drew blood.

The same could not be said for a stray boot in the United dressing room, though, when David Beckham was given a rocket by his boss in the aftermath of a February 2003 FA Cup defeat to Arsenal during the midfielder's final season at the club.

"He was around 12 feet from me. Between us on the floor lay a row of boots. David swore. I moved towards him and, as I approached, I kicked a boot. It hit him right above the eye," Ferguson explained. The resulting cut and butterfly plaster predictably dominated as the UK tabloids gorged on the fallout. 

Mario Balotelli v Micah Richards

Mario Balotelli was rarely far away from behind-the-scenes controversy at Manchester City, allegedly throwing darts at youth team players and once even grappling with his manager and mentor Roberto Mancini.

However, things reached boiling point in 2011 due to the unexpected multi-lingual talents of one of his team-mates.

"We were playing five-a-side and we were losing because he didn't work, which is evident,' Micah Richards told Sky quiz show 'A League of Their Own' in 2016. "He swore at me in Italian and he thought I didn't understand. But I know a bit of Italian lingo, so I said, 'Who you talking to?' He said it again, so we squared up and I offered him out. But he said no."

Craig Bellamy v John Arne Riise

Balotelli's arrival at City in August 2010 came around the same time as Craig Bellamy was tying up a loan move to Cardiff City, leaving us all to wonder what might have happened had the combustible duo shared a dressing room for any period of time. John Arne Riise, perhaps, has a fair idea.

In an infamous incident before a Champions League game at Barcelona in 2007, where both players went on to score in a Liverpool win, Riise drew Bellamy's terrifying wrath when he refused demands to sing karaoke on a team night out.

Later on, Riise found an unexpected visitor in his hotel room. "Craig Bellamy at the foot of my bed with a golf club in his hands," he reported in his autobiography. According to the Norway full-back's version of events, he managed to avoid Bellamy striking his shins by jumping out of bed but took blows to his hip and thigh.

Aboubakar Kamara v Aleksandar Mitrovic

While the risks of a rowdy team karaoke session might seem obvious in hindsight, sometimes even yoga isn't safe.

Aboubakar Kamara had not appeared particularly zen when he grabbed the ball off Aleksandar Mitrovic to take and miss a penalty during Fulham's December 2018 Premier League game against Huddersfield Town.

A fight then reportedly broke out between the pair at a yoga session and an eventful few weeks for Kamara concluded with him being arrested on suspicion of actual bodily harm and criminal damage after an incident at Fulham's training ground.

Alan Shearer v Keith Gillespie

Famously incisive in front of goal, the Premier League's all-time record goalscorer Alan Shearer once became involved in an argument about dropped cutlery with Newcastle United team-mate Keith Gillespie that escalated sharply.

"We ended up going outside, and I took one swing and missed, and he hit me - and that was goodnight," Gillespie told talkSPORT of the scrap during a 1997 team trip to Dublin. "I did actually spend a night in hospital. Because when he hit me, I fell and hit my head on a plant pot. I was unconscious."

Apparently, Shearer visited his stricken team-mate and they "had a laugh about it". They weren't the only ones.

Stig Tofting v Jasper Gronkjaer

A tough-tackling midfield enforcer, you might expect any training ground row featuring Stig Tofting to have followed a bone-crunching challenge. However, there was more shivering than shuddering when a pre-2002 World Cup jape involving Jasper Gronkjaer got out of hand.

During some stretching exercises, Tofting and partner-in-crime Thomas Gravesen sprayed the then-Chelsea winger with water bottles and put ice cubes down his shorts. Gronkjaer hurt his eye during the prank, which concluded with him wrestling Tofting and being grabbed by the throat.

Danish FA official Jim Stjerne-Hansen told reporters: "These players need a kindergarten teacher to sort them out."

Ivan Rakitic has left the Croatia squad to return to Barcelona with an Achilles injury.

The midfielder had been called up by head coach Zlatko Dalic for Saturday's final Euro 2020 qualifying match against Slovakia, in which a draw will be enough for the World Cup finalists to progress from Group E.

Croatia then meet Georgia in a friendly match next week.

However, Rakitic has gone back to Catalonia due to a heel problem and has not been named in the Barca squad for a charity game against Cartagena, the club confirmed on Tuesday.

He told Novi List in his homeland: "I'm afraid I cannot help the team, but I'm convinced my team-mates will have success without me."

The 31-year-old has struggled for regular football this season, starting just once in LaLiga for Ernesto Valverde's side.

The former Sevilla star has been linked with a possible January move, with Juventus, Inter and AC Milan among the clubs said to be interested.

Lionel Messi is seemingly in no rush to extend his Barcelona contract.

Messi's future is regularly talked about after it was revealed earlier this year the superstar can leave the LaLiga giants for free at the end of any season.

The five-time Ballon d'Or winner is contracted at Barcelona until 2021, though it remains to be seen if he wants to stay on beyond his current deal.

 

TOP STORY – MESSI IN NO RUSH OVER BARCELONA CONTRACT

Messi has no intention of discussing a contract extension at Barcelona until next season, according to Marca.

The 32-year-old plans to be at the club next season, the report says, but will not open talks regarding a new deal.

Messi has been at Barcelona during his entire professional career, winning 10 LaLiga titles and four Champions Leagues among numerous other trophies.

ROUND-UP

- Paris Saint-Germain are looking to the future. Sport reports the Ligue 1 giants are seriously considering a move for Real Madrid forward Vinicius Junior. Kylian Mbappe and Neymar have been linked with moves away from PSG and the 19-year-old could help the French club going forward.

- Manchester City and Real Madrid could be set for a transfer battle. The clubs are interested in Real Sociedad and Spain forward Mikel Oyarzabal, according to CalcioMercato. The 22-year-old has scored 29 LaLiga goals since the start of 2017-18.

- Unai Emery has some time. The Sun reports the under-fire Arsenal head coach will be given until 2020 to turn the club's form around. It also reports Manchester City would allow assistant Mikel Arteta – an ex-Arsenal midfielder – to head to Emirates Stadium, should his former club want to appoint the Spaniard.

- Liverpool could strengthen in January. TalkSPORT reports the Premier League leaders are in advanced talks with Bournemouth over a deal to sign winger Ryan Fraser, who is out of contract at the end of the season. Bournemouth may want Harry Wilson – who is on loan from Liverpool – as part of a deal.

- Struggling in ninth in Serie A, Fiorentina may be ready to move on from Vincenzo Montella. The club are ready to make an approach for former Inter coach Luciano Spalletti, according to Firenze Viola.

Jurgen Klopp is unfazed about potentially leading Liverpool to a first FIFA Club World Cup title, but the manager is excited about the opportunity.

The European champions will be favourites for the tournament in Doha in December.

Liverpool have never won the FIFA Club World Cup, finishing as runners-up in 2005, but leading the Premier League giants to a first success at the tournament is not a focus for Klopp.

"Oh, I didn't think about that. I'm not someone who has to be the first on the moon or the first winning the World Cup with Liverpool, but when we are there then we will try with all we have," he told FIFA.com.

"The very interesting and difficult part as well is that we'll be playing against teams from other continents, which doesn't happen that often – maybe a Mexican team, maybe a Brazilian team – and it will be a tough one for sure.

"We'll prepare for it as we would usually, and we will see if it's right or wrong against the team from another continent.

"We don't have too much information yet, but we will by then for sure, and it will be interesting and difficult as well."

Liverpool will play Monterrey, Al-Sadd or Hienghene Sport in the semi-finals on December 18.

Klopp said there was no additional pressure on Liverpool, urging his team to make the most of the chance ahead of them.

"We will see. So far, I don't feel any pressure. I see it as an absolute opportunity as you don't often have the chance to play for it," he said.

"You have to win the Champions League as the European team, so that already makes it special.

"We knew it'd feel great when we won the Champions League, but then we had no real clue how it'd be around the European Super Cup. So, we played it and it felt really great and really big.

"When we go there, we will be prepared and looking forward to it. The boys want to play it, so it will be very interesting, and it will feel big for us, 100 per cent."

Lionel Messi is the star player of the current generation and the greatest footballer ever, according to Manchester City and Germany midfielder Ilkay Gundogan.

The Barcelona great is a five-time Ballon d'Or winner, like Cristiano Ronaldo, and is widely regarded as one of the best players ever.

While the debate around Messi and Ronaldo is ongoing, Gundogan has no doubt the Argentina forward is the greatest.

"Lionel Messi [is the best player in the world]," he said.

"In my opinion, he has very special abilities. He has talent and he always manages to show it on the pitch. He always has the instinct to make the right decision.

"He uses his speed well against the opponents he plays. He has a strong finish. All in all, no one else has as much quality as Lionel Messi.

"He is the star player of my generation and the greatest footballer of all-time. I hope we get to watch him play for a few more years."

Messi has continued to star for Barcelona this season, scoring nine goals in 11 games in all competitions.

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