Carlo Ancelotti launched a searing attack on the local council over the state of Napoli's Stadio San Paolo, claiming the ground's redevelopment has left his players with inadequate dressing room facilities.

After playing their first two games of the season away from home, Napoli are scheduled to play Sampdoria at San Paolo on Saturday before the visit of Liverpool in the Champions League three days later.

But according to Ancelotti the work has fallen short of what was promised, and suggested the council of the municipality of Naples, which owns the ground, showed a lack of regard for his team.

In a statement published on the club's official website, Ancelotti said: "I saw the conditions of the San Paolo dressing rooms. There are no words.

"I accepted the club's request to play the first two games away from home to allow the work to be completed, as was promised. In two months you can build a house - they have not been able to redo the changing rooms!

"Where should we change to play against Sampdoria and Liverpool?"

The planned redevelopment works included big screen displays, upgraded lights and a new surveillance system, as well as new changing rooms.

The council reportedly said the failure to complete the works entirely would not affect Ancelotti's team, but the Napoli coach disagreed vehemently.

"I am outraged by the incorrectness and inadequacy of those who had to carry out these jobs," he said.

"How have the region, municipality and commissioners been able to disregard the commitments made?

"I see a contempt and a non-attachment to the city team. I am dismayed."

Luis Suarez returned to first-team training at Barcelona on Wednesday to give head coach Ernesto Valverde hope that he could feature against Valencia on Saturday and lessen the need to rush Lionel Messi back from injury.

Suarez is nearing full fitness again after suffering an Achilles tendon injury in Barcelona's defeat to Athletic Bilbao on the opening day of the new LaLiga season.

After missing Barca's subsequent 5-2 win over Real Betis and their 2-2 draw at Osasuna, the Uruguay international trained with the team in the build-up to Valencia's visit to Camp Nou to provide Valverde with a welcome boost to his attacking options.

Messi, meanwhile, had been expected to make his first appearance of the season against Valencia after recovering from a calf injury but Valverde may opt not to risk the 32-year-old if Suarez is available.

The muscle strain sustained on the first day of pre-season training has kept Messi out of Valverde's matchday squads since then, but the Barcelona coach said he hoped to have him back in time to face Valencia.

However, the Spanish champions face a trip to Germany three days after the Valencia game to face Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League and Valverde may give Messi extra rest as he completes his recovery.

Former Barcelona and Inter star Samuel Eto'o has seemingly called time on his illustrious career in a message via social media.

Eto'o – a three-time Champions League winner among other honours – last played for Qatari outfit Qatar SC in 2018-19.

And the 38-year-old ex-Cameroon striker appears set for life after football following Friday's Instagram post.

"THE END, TOWARDS A NEW CHALLENGE," Eto'o wrote.

"Thank you all big love... adrenaline."

Eto'o enjoyed a trophy-laden career after emerging from Real Madrid's youth team in 1997 – making three appearances for the Spanish giants.

He won the Champions League twice with Barcelona and again during his time at Inter, where Eto'o was part of the club's 2009-10 treble-winning side.

In total, Eto'o celebrated 15 club titles – including three LaLiga trophies – following spells with Mallorca, Barca, Inter, Anzhi Makhachkala, Chelsea, Everton, Sampdoria, Antalyaspor, Konyaspor and Qatar SC.

Eto'o earned 118 caps for Cameroon as he became the country's all-time leading scorer with 56 goals, while winning two African Cup of Nations titles and gold at the 2000 Olympic Games.

Emre Can has accused Juventus of breaking a promise by leaving him out of their Champions League squad.

The German midfielder was not included on the 22-player list submitted by Juventus to UEFA, meaning he can play no part in the group stage.

Can claims that conflicts with what he was promised just days ago and insisted he "must and will" play in the competition, an indication he could push for a move in January.

The selection setback comes after former Liverpool player Can held talks with Paris Saint-Germain, only to decide to remain with the Italian champions.

"I had a talk with the club [PSG]. In the end I decided with the club [Juventus] that I would stay. And as you can see, I'm not in the squad for the Champions League," Can said, before training with Germany on Wednesday.

"I was extremely shocked yesterday because I was promised something else last week. They told me something else.

"If I had drawn my own conclusions, I honestly wouldn't have stayed. Because for me it was a condition to play in the Champions League.

"The shock is extremely deep in me. I can't explain it to myself. I have no idea why, because last year I played very well, especially in the Champions League. There has also been no justification until now."

Head coach Maurizio Sarri picked close-season signings Adrien Rabiot and Aaron Ramsey ahead of Can in his midfield ranks for the European games, with Juventus due to play Atletico Madrid, Bayer Leverkusen and Lokomotiv Moscow.

"I got a call yesterday. The phone call was not even one minute long," said 25-year-old Can. "And I was simply told that I was not there. Although they told me last week that I will play 100 per cent in the Champions League.

"I must and will play in the Champions League. I will talk to the club when I come back. And I will see what happens."

Jurgen Klopp hailed Virgil van Dijk's UEFA Men's Player of the Year award as a prize for all of Liverpool's players.

Van Dijk enjoyed a supreme 2018-19 campaign, helping Liverpool to Champions League glory and captaining Netherlands to the Nations League final.

The former Southampton defender has maintained his form heading into this season and edged out superstars Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi to the honour in Monaco on Thursday.

Klopp was quick to laud Van Dijk's individual displays but pointed out his triumph was one that would not be possible without all of Liverpool's squad.

"Brilliant! It's really big. I wanted to call him immediately, but he had to go on stage. I'm so happy for him," Klopp told Liverpool's official website.

"I'm happy for us as well because he knows that without the boys around him, he cannot win that prize.

"It's a prize for all of us – but we send our big man there to get it. It's really rare for a defender. Yes, we all love goals – we want to score them and see them – but more and more and more people get excited about defending.

"Virg is an exceptional defender, in the moment 100 per cent the best defender in the world, so he deserves that prize absolutely.

"It's now the icing on the cake of the Champions League campaign last year."

The awards ceremony took place after the Champions League draw, in which Liverpool were pitted against Napoli, Salzburg and Genk in the group stage.

Van Dijk's team-mate Alisson picked up the Champions League Goalkeeper of the Season accolade and Klopp had no doubt the Brazilian was worthy.

"I would say well, well, well deserved. He made exceptional saves," Klopp said.

"In the first season with us and immediately winning the Champions League. What a year he had, he won the Champions League, won the Copa America and now is the best goalie of last year."

Cristiano Ronaldo is hoping for a kinder reception from the Atletico Madrid faithful after Juventus were drawn against Diego Simeone's side in the Champions League group stage.

Juve met Atleti in the round of 16 last season with Real Madrid icon Ronaldo scoring a hat-trick in the second leg to overturn the Rojiblancos' 2-0 lead from the first match.

Ronaldo was jeered by the Atleti support during the first leg and responded by gesturing a "five" to the home fans, demonstrating the number of Champions League trophies he has won.

The Portugal star also told reporters in the post-match mixed zone: "I won five Champions Leagues, Atletico Madrid zero. Defeat? That's what happens in football, let's see if Atletico will qualify."

Ronaldo's warning shot to Atleti ultimately proved true and now the sides will meet again in this season's competition having been matched up in Group D alongside Bayer Leverkusen and Lokomotiv Moscow.

However, Ronaldo is holding out for a less hostile return to the Wanda Metropolitano on his next return to Madrid.

"It's one more game. Atletico is a great team as we all know," Ronaldo, the all-time leading scorer in the Madrid derby, told Movistar.

"In Madrid I played many times and they were always a tough opponent. I hope they don't crush me again at the stadium, calling me unsportsmanlike. 

"Atletico has an excellent team and an excellent coach. The other two adversaries are tough. This is the draw."

Despite their superb comeback against Atleti, Juve were dumped out in the next round, going out to Erik ten Hag's scintillating Ajax side.

It was a defeat that ultimately appeared to cost Massimiliano Allegri his job, with Juve also moving to sign one of Ajax's scorers in that encounter – Netherlands star Matthijs de Ligt – in the close season.

But Ronaldo is confident the Serie A champions can go deeper into the tournament this time around.

"The favourite does not always win. Look at last year. Barcelona in Anfield, with Juve the same," Ronaldo said.

"I hope it is this year. I am confident. I hope it is the year of Juve. All teams reinforce to win. I hope it's Juve. We have great team and great players, a great coach."

Jurgen Klopp is anticipating an "emotional" Napoli after Champions League holders Liverpool were drawn against Carlo Ancelotti's side again in this season's group stage.

Liverpool, who beat Tottenham to claim their sixth title in Europe's elite club competition, were pitted with Napoli, Genk and Salzburg in Group E.

Napoli have become a familiar foe over recent seasons, having been placed in the same group as the Reds last season.

The Serie A side came out on top in their first meeting in October, but a 1-0 win at Anfield in the last group outing secured Liverpool's progression behind Paris Saint-Germain.

Ancelotti's team – who beat Liverpool 3-0 in pre-season – have invested in their squad in the transfer window, bringing in Hirving Lozano for a club-record fee while defender Kostas Manolas has joined from Roma.

Real Madrid's James Rodriguez and Inter's Mauro Icardi have also been targeted and although Liverpool will be favourites to top Group E, Klopp knows his side cannot underestimate the Napoli threat.

"Napoli again! I don't know how often I've now played against Napoli, but they're obviously a very experienced side," Klopp told Liverpool's official website.

"Napoli are just a really good side. The home game we played [in last season's Champions League] was one of the best games we played because it was so rock solid.

"In the pre-season games, when we won 5-0 in Dublin [in 2018] I was not interested in the result. Now this year we lost 3-0 and that's not too interesting, but you see how good they are.

"Carlo has such experience and has won the competition so often [three times]. When they went out last year, it was pretty close, so they will remember that and it will be emotional, I am pretty sure."

Though Liverpool and Napoli are likely to battle it out for the top spots, Klopp feels Genk and Salzburg – Europa League semi-finalists in 2017-18 and the club where Sadio Mane and Naby Keita enjoyed their breakthroughs – will present stern opposition.

"With the other two teams, I know how people will say these are the two smaller teams of the group, they are not," Klopp added.

"Of course, Salzburg are famous for bringing through new players, like they did with Sadio and Naby – they've found a lot of others, too. It will be really interesting."

Georginio Wijnaldum has given a unique insight into "special" Jurgen Klopp's man-management methods after revealing the Liverpool boss addressed his team ahead of the 2018 Champions League final wearing Cristiano Ronaldo-branded underwear.

The Reds boss has carved a reputation for his jovial antics and, according to midfielder Wijnaldum, the German's pre-match team-talk for the showdown against Real Madrid - for whom then-star player Ronaldo was the chief threat - was no exception after he lightened the mood in his own inimitable style.

"We saw he was wearing the boxer shorts of Cristiano Ronaldo," the Netherlands midfielder told The Athletic. 

"He did the meeting with his shirt stuffed inside his 'CR7' boxers. The whole changing room was on the floor laughing their heads off. That really broke the ice. Usually in those situations, everyone is serious and concentrated. But he was relaxed and made this joke.

"He's done hundreds of jokes likes that. If you see that your manager is really confident and relaxed, it will have an effect on players. He is a father figure in those things for the players. With his jokes and his body language, he takes the pressure off players."

Liverpool ultimately lost the game 3-1 but went one better the following season, defeating Tottenham 2-0 to claim a sixth triumph in Europe's premier competition.

It has cemented Klopp's status as one of the world's leading coaches and Wijnaldum has paid tribute to the German's man-management style.

Wijnaldum said: "He always tries to empathise with the other person, to feel what they're going through. He is a really special man for me. I see him as more than a manager - a really good friend."

He continued: "He is the kind of manager that will be angry about things in the game, or will show emotion during a game, but when it comes to half-time, he speaks with you and gives you confidence. 'You can do it better. You have to do this, have to do that…'

"He is one of the first managers I've had who doesn't get angry when you try to do the things that you are good at. He will never be angry when you try to use your talent or quality. Even if it goes wrong.

"Since I am at Liverpool, he has helped me a lot. Not only with football, but also as a person, the way you think about things. That is why I enjoy every day of working with him. I can be really mad at him one day. But the next day the anger is gone and we will love each other again."

Ajax star Donny van de Beek says he could stay at the club despite interest from "fantastic" Real Madrid.

The 22-year-old has already confirmed Madrid have contacted Ajax over a possible transfer as a successful move for Manchester United's Paul Pogba looks increasingly unlikely.

Van de Beek, who excelled in Ajax's run to the Champions League semi-finals last season, says there is nothing certain about his future but is not ruling out staying in Amsterdam.

"They're a fantastic club, but Ajax are too," he said to Ziggo Sport when asked about Madrid.

"I've nothing to complain about in that regard. There's a very good chance I'll continue playing here, but nothing is certain yet."

When pressed on whether it would be better for the club to have clarity on his future, he said: "I hope so, too, because I'm a bit fed up with all the questions about it."

Van de Beek was involved on Tuesday as Ajax claimed a 3-2 win over PAOK to secure a 5-4 aggregate triumph in the third round of Champions League qualifying.

Speaking ahead of that match, director of football Marc Overmars voiced his confidence that Van de Beek could decide to spend a little longer with the Eredivisie champions.

"I don't think it will take long for things to be clear," Overmars told Ziggo Sport.

When asked if he thought Van de Beek would stay, he replied: "I'll go for yes."

Overmars did, however, confirm there is "absolutely" interest in the player.

"I said a few weeks ago that, by a certain date, I want clarity. That date is set," he added.

Ajax head coach Erik ten Hag said Donny van de Beek could stay at the Eredivisie champions despite interest from Real Madrid.

Van de Beek has already confirmed Madrid are in talks with Ajax over his transfer as the LaLiga giants struggle to prise Paul Pogba from Manchester United.

However, it seems €60million target and 22-year-old Netherlands international Van de Beek will remain in Amsterdam.

"[Van de Beek] only dedicates himself to playing," Ten Hag said ahead of Tuesday's second leg against PAOK, with the third-round Champions League qualifier locked at 2-2.

"I guess and I hope that he stays with us this season.

"Otherwise, I will hear from [Ajax's director of football,] Marc Overmars."

Van de Beek starred as Ajax earned a draw away to PAOK in the opening leg in Thessaloniki, while he has managed two goals in two Eredivisie matches this season.

He made 57 appearances for Ajax in 2018-19, scoring 17 goals and supplying 13 assists as Ten Hag's men clinched an Eredivisie and KNVB Beker double and reached the semi-finals of the Champions League.

 

Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and five Liverpool players have been shortlisted for 2018-19 Champions League positional awards. 

Liverpool defeated Tottenham in the Champions League final and have seen goalkeeper Alisson, defenders Trent Alexander-Arnold and Virgil van Dijk, midfielder Jordan Henderson and forward Sadio Mane named among the contenders in their respective categories.

Tottenham also have representation through keeper Hugo Lloris and midfielder Christian Eriksen.

Barcelona superstar Messi, who was the top scorer in last season's competition with 12 goals, will vie with Mane and old adversary Ronaldo for the forward award.

Midfielder Frenkie de Jong and defender Matthijs de Ligt – who are now at Barcelona and Juventus respectively – were also nominated after playing pivotal roles in Ajax's run to the semi-finals.

The awards will be presented during the 2019-20 Champions League group stage draw in Monaco on Thursday 29 August.

The shortlisting jury comprised the coaches of the 32 clubs from last season's group stage and journalists from each of UEFA's 55 member associations.

 

Full list of nominees for 2018-19 Champions League position awards:
  
Goalkeepers: Alisson (Liverpool), Hugo Lloris (Tottenham Hotspur); Marc-Andre ter Stegen (Barcelona).
 
Defenders: Trent Alexander-Arnold (Liverpool), Matthijs de Ligt (Ajax, now Juventus), Virgil van Dijk (Liverpool).
 
Midfielders: Frenkie de Jong (Ajax, now Barcelona), Christian Eriksen (Tottenham), Jordan Henderson (Liverpool).
 
Forwards: Sadio Mane (Liverpool), Lionel Messi (Barcelona), Cristiano Ronaldo (Juventus).

Ajax star Donny van de Beek will play against PAOK in Champions League qualifying amid interest from Real Madrid, insisted head coach Erik ten Hag.

Van de Beek confirmed Madrid were in talks with Ajax over his transfer following Saturday's 2-2 Eredivisie draw against Vitesse.

The Netherlands international midfielder emerged as a €60million target for the LaLiga giants, who have been unable to prise Paul Pogba from Manchester United.

Ajax – Champions League semi-finalists last season – will face Greek side PAOK in Tuesday's opening leg of their third-round qualifier.

Asked about Van de Beek, Ten Hag told reporters: "He has come here and is going to play.

"He'll play next week too [in the second leg]."

Van de Beek made 57 appearances for Ajax last season, scoring 17 goals and supplying 13 assists as Erik ten Hag's men clinched an Eredivisie and KNVB Beker double and reached the semi-finals of the Champions League.

Ajax will meet either APOEL or Qarabag in the Champions League play-offs if they defeat PAOK in the third qualifying round.

Last season's semi-finalists will take on the champions of Cyprus or Azerbaijan in a two-legged tie if they overcome the 2018-19 Greek Super League winners.

Scottish champions Celtic will take on Slavia Prague if they make it through their third-round tie with CFR Cluj.

Porto or Krasnodar will face Istanbul Basaksehir or Olympiacos, while Basel or LASK will meet Club Brugge or Dynamo Kiev.

Swiss champions Young Boys await Red Star Belgrade or Copenhagen, and Dinamo Zagreb or Ferencvaros will play Maribor or Rosenborg.

The first legs of the third-round matches are on Tuesday and Wednesday, with the return games on August 13.

The play-off matches take place on August 20-21 and August 27-28.

 

Pep Guardiola insists he will not gamble Manchester City's domestic dominance to go all in for Champions League glory.

City became the first team for a decade to win back-to-back Premier League titles last season before going on to complete an unprecedented domestic treble.

However, as was the case during his time at Bayern Munich, two-time Champions League winner Guardiola found Europe's top competition to prove elusive once more as eventual runners-up Tottenham prevailed against City on away goals in a thrilling quarter-final.

On the eve of beginning his fourth season as City boss with a Community Shield showdown against Liverpool, the Champions League looms even larger as the one major prize left to win, but Guardiola feels the consistency that has returned top-flight points hauls of 100 and 98 in consecutive seasons is too valuable to sacrifice.

"The Champions League is an important tournament, difficult to win," he said. "But I don't want to go to the casino and gamble everything I have in my pocket for seven games [the Champions League knockout stages]. I don’t want it.

"I think I want to be happy during 11 months. It makes me happy, the Premier League, every game in the cups. When I win, the days after I am happier. I go to the restaurants better, I feel better, I work better with my players. That's what it gives me.

"Am I going to wait until February to play seven games with everything on black colour? From my point of view, it's too risky.

"Normally, when you have history behind it helps a lot. We are trying to build it and I think in Europe we will be closer when we win more Premier Leagues and Premier Leagues and Premier Leagues.

"I would sign right now to do what we did last season again. Right now. Not winning the Champions League and four titles [including the Community Shield] again in this season."

City's status as a relatively newcomer among Europe's elite was a factor Guardiola also touched upon when discussing the absence of his players from this week's FIFA Best Awards shortlist.

"It is because Manchester City is in this position the last decade. We are new in these situations," he said.

"I cannot imagine Real Madrid and Barcelona winning four titles and not one single player being there [on the shortlist].

"I don’t think there is one player who made a better season than Bernardo Silva last season, even winning [The Nations League] with Portugal.

"This club, for example, in eight years won four Premier Leagues. It is quite remarkable. And never in these four seasons was one of our players nominated the best in the league. Never

"Huge respect for Mohamed Salah [who won the PFA and FWA awards in 2017-18], but Kevin De Bruyne that season, guys, when we made 100 points was above and beyond the normal situations."

That description could be applied to both City and Liverpool collectively last time around, as they amassed a combined 195 Premier League points.

Liverpool overcame the disappointment of City pipping them to the title by winning the Champions League.

Guardiola phoned Jurgen Klopp to pass on his congratulations after they beat Spurs 2-0 in Madrid and dismissed the suggestion that the Reds' exploits had taken the shine off his own team's achievements.

"Why can we not share the glory?" he asked ahead of the latest chapter in a burgeoning sporting rivalry. "We would like to win the Champions League – big respect to Liverpool. Winning the Champions League is so difficult, so, so complicated.

"That's why winning the Champions League gets all credit. But why is it higher than what we have done over 11 months?

"I'm pretty sure Liverpool would have liked to win the last Premier League after 30 years not winning the Premier League.

"Both teams were fantastic last season. Why do you have to say this team is better than the other one? Both were good."

Alisson has warned Liverpool's rivals at home and abroad that a Champions League triumph will not be enough to satisfy the club's ambitions this season.

Jurgen Klopp's side were crowned kings of Europe last term but had to settle for second spot in the Premier League behind Manchester City.

The Reds' top-flight title drought now spans 29 years but optimism is rife around Anfield.

Liverpool pushed City all the way in the 2018-19 campaign and Pep Guardiola's side ultimately won the Premier League by just one point. 

Alisson wants to go one better in the league this time around as Liverpool eye success across all competitions. 

"We are excited but we have to keep our feet on the ground, just as we did last season," Alisson told Liverpool's official website.

"We want to try for everything this season so we need to work.

"The level of the football is high and similar at every club so we need to work hard to achieve the same things and achieve even more this season."

Alisson only returned to Liverpool this week after a busy off-season in which he helped Brazil to Copa America glory.

"It's a special title, as is the Champions League," he added.

"So it was an important title for me, for the nation. For Brazil, it's been a long time since we won it – the last time was 2007, if I am not mistaken, so it was important for us.

"To win two titles, two big titles during the season was great for me. I hope this season – and I will work this season – to make it more."

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