Flamengo appointed former Brazil goalkeeper Rogerio Ceni as their new head coach, the Brazilian champions announced on Tuesday.

Ceni – who holds the record for most goals scored by a goalkeeper with 131 – replaces Domenec Torrent at the Campeonato Brasileiro and Copa Libertadores champions, after leaving Fortaleza.

Flamengo turned to Ceni after Torrent was sacked following just three months in charge following a 4-0 rout at the hands of title rivals Atletico Mineiro, having also lost 4-1 to Sao Paulo a week earlier.

The 47-year-old joins a Flamengo side third in the table and only a point adrift of leaders Internacional.

"Thank you all," Ceni, who spent his entire senior playing career with Sao Paulo up until 2015, said. "It is a very special day for me. I have 30 years of football. I already faced the crowded Maracana. 

"I saw Zico play, I even called him and asked for his permission to join the club. He's a unique guy, who I admire a lot for the free-kicks."

"I am very grateful to Fortaleza," he said. "The fans are sad, but I think they can understand the size of this challenge that I accepted. It is very difficult to refuse Flamengo because of the greatness, structure and the players who are here."

Ceni – a World Cup winner with Brazil in 2002 who had brief and unsuccessfully spells in charge of Sao Paulo and Cruzeiro – guided Fortaleza to promotion to Brazil's first division in 2018.

"Everyone wants to win everything in football," Ceni, who won three Brasileiro titles, two Copa Libertadores trophies and the 2005 Club World Cup with Sao Paulo, added. 

"We have to see how much each one is willing to give up to reach the goal. It is a very winning group. Who said it is not possible [to win everything]? Even more so with a group of players as qualified and a crowd as passionate as Flamengo's."

Domenec Torrent has been sacked by Flamengo after just three months in charge following a 4-0 defeat by title rivals Atletico Mineiro.

Torrent, who worked as an assistant to Pep Guardiola at Barcelona, Bayern Munich and Manchester City, joined the defending Brasileiro and Copa Libertadores champions from New York City FC at the end of July after Jorge Jesus returned to Benfica, but Sunday's result was seemingly the final straw.

It was the second successive league match in which Flamengo conceded four goals, having also lost 4-1 at home to Sao Paulo a week earlier.

However, Torrent will justifiably feel aggrieved at his departure given Flamengo were third in the Brasileiro table and just a point adrift of leaders Internacional.

Similarly, Flamengo had gone 12 matches unbeaten across all competitions prior to the defeat by Sao Paulo and they topped their Libertadores group with five wins from six matches – their solitary defeat coming in a 5-0 thrashing by Independiente de Valle in their third fixture.

Mauricio Souza, the team's Under-20s coach, will step in until a replacement is appointed, as he did prior to Torrent's arrival.

Vinicius Junior insists being criticised is to be expected when playing for Real Madrid, who he describes as the biggest club in the world.

The Brazil international has struggled to cement himself as a first-team regular at the Santiago Bernabeu since arriving from Flamengo in 2018.

He has made 53 LaLiga appearances since the start of 2018-19 - 25 of those being starts - and has scored just seven goals and set up one more.

That sees the 20-year-old rank below the likes of Marco Asensio (nine), Lucas Vazquez and Isco (both eight) for goal involvements in an almost identical number of games.

Vinicius has his fair share of critics but says he blocks out the out the opinions of those who do not matter to him.

"I always think about those who want the best for me - family, people at the club, colleagues like Marcelo and Casemiro, the type who put me on the right path," he told YouTube channel Desimpedidos.

"It is all part of being a member of the biggest club in the world. When we lose they talk about us, and when we win it is something else."

Vinicius recently made headlines after Karim Benzema was caught on camera appearing to tell Ferland Mendy not to pass to the young attacker.

Amid suggestions of unrest in the dressing room, though, Vinicius has revealed Benzema is one of his closest friends at Madrid.

"I have a good relationship with Benzema," he said. "Also Lucas Vazquez. I talk a lot with them off the field. There's also [Luka] Modric, who I sit with at lunchtime."

Vinicius made 69 appearances for Flamengo before officially arriving at Madrid and intends to return to his boyhood side one day.

"I am sure that in the very distant future I will head back to Flamengo to give back to the club everything it deserves," he said.

Vinicius Junior has paid tribute to Karim Benzema for selflessly taking the young Brazilian under his wing when he first made the move to Real Madrid.

Los Blancos paid a reported €45million for Vinicius in May 2017, the winger joining from Flamengo the following year when he turned 18.

Vinicius has already played 72 times for the club but struggled for consistency despite often catching the eye with his skilful style of play.

He has started 2020-21 in encouraging fashion, however, scoring the winning goal in the 1-0 victory over Real Valladolid, before getting the opener in a 2-0 win at Levante last weekend.

That was the first time he had scored in consecutive LaLiga matches, hinting the 20-year-old is beginning to find some continuity alongside Benzema in attack.

And Benzema is regarded particularly fondly by Vinicius for the role he played in his Madrid career.

"Karim is an idol, it is an honour to play with him," Vinicius told RMTV. "We always talk about what I can improve, also how he can help me.

"When I arrived, he did not know me but he still started to help me. He helped, and now he continues to do so, he tells me to be calm and helps me make the best decisions.

"It is a dream to play with Karim and with all the players who are here. I take advantage of all the moments with everyone and I listen a lot because they help.

"They know that I listen a lot and I learn with them."

When Vinicius first joined Madrid, comparisons with former Blanco Robinho were understandable – flashy tricks were a common theme and he often lacked decisiveness in the final third.

But he feels he has matured already and that he is a completely different player.

"I arrived at the age of 18 and having played only in Brazil, so everything was new for me," he added.

"I was learning and I continue to do so to help Madrid. Now I am another player. The people at Madrid help me so that I can help now and in the future.

"I'm very good, very happy with my moment, but also with the team. We have to continue like this, improving the things that we are not doing in this different season because we only had a friendly and it is difficult to start."

Former Bayern Munich defender Rafinha has returned to Europe with Olympiacos after a brief stint with Flamengo.

Rafinha, 34, joined Flamengo in June 2019 and enjoyed a trophy-laden spell that included the Campeonato Brasileiro and Copa Libertadores last year.

But, following coach Jorge Jesus' decision to move back over the Atlantic Ocean to re-join Benfica, Rafinha has also opted to return to Europe, where he had previously spent 14 years of his career.

The former Brazil international spent five seasons with Schalke from 2005, before a solitary campaign in Italy at Genoa.

He then joined Bayern in 2011 and was there until completing his move to Flamengo last year.

Jorge Jesus has been appointed head coach of Benfica for a second time after leaving Brazilian and South American champions Flamengo.

Benfica have turned to veteran Portuguese boss Jesus after they were dethroned by bitter rivals Porto in Primeira Liga this season, it was announced on Friday.

Flamengo had been hopeful of keeping Jesus, who led the club to Campeonato Brasileiro, Copa Libertadores and Recopa Sudamericana glory following his arrival last year.

However, Jesus has re-joined Benfica, where he previously spent six years and won three league trophies among other honours in Lisbon.

"Despite regretting the loss of their victorious coach, Flamengo respects this personal decision," Flamengo said in a statement.

"On behalf of the entire board and the 42 million red-blacks who make up the biggest fan club in the world, our greatest thanks to him and all his technical committee for everything that has been done and our wish that they continue to maintain the enormous success as had with us.

"Flamengo, following what its anthem advocates - and which Jorge Jesus represented so well - will continue in its usual goal: Win, win, win!"

After winning a second Libertadores title and first since 1981 in November, Flamengo were crowned Brazilian champions for the seventh time last year, having not claimed the Campeonato Brasileiro since 2009.

Flamengo then added the Recopa – which pits the Libertadores and Copa Sudamericana champions against each other – to their collection in February.

Rio de Janeiro giants Flamengo also wrapped up the Carioca state championship title against Fluminense on Wednesday.

Jesus, 65, wrote via Instagram: "It was 13 months of perfect union, a time when I was very happy, I felt at home, we had unforgettable achievements. But today we met with the Flamengo board and decided that it was time to end our relationship, without hurting, resentment.

"A break that will leave no scars, only memories of victories and titles, emotions that I will carry for life. End of a cycle, the time has come to return to Portugal. Flamengo, I am sure, will follow its victorious trajectory because it has a cast and structure that matches its greatness.

"To the club, its board and its employees, to this fantastic group of players, to the fans of Flamengo, my eternal gratitude, you will remain forever in my heart."

Flamengo are hoping Jorge Jesus remains their head coach amid a growing expectation in Portugal he could be heading back to Benfica.

Club president Rodolfo Landim said Jesus would be back at work next week, after Rio de Janeiro giants Flamengo wrapped up the Carioca state championship title.

The 65-year-old Portuguese coach previously spent six years in charge of Benfica, leading the Lisbon giants from 2009 to 2015, before then spending three seasons with their bitter rivals Sporting CP.

Jesus has enjoyed a spectacular 13-month reign to date at Flamengo, with the Copa Libertadores and Brasileiro titles among the successes he has brought to the Maracana.

Reports in Portugal claim negotiations between Benfica and Jesus have already begun.

However, Landim said he had received no indication Jesus - who agreed a new contract until at least 2021 last month - wanted to move back to his homeland.

"On Monday, he'll be training the team," Landim said. "Everyone is free to go today, and everyone trains on Monday."

Quoted by Globo Esporte, Landim added: "We are expecting him there on Monday, that's what I said to him now in the dressing room. Everyone has the right [to have a break], you know, they won a title. Let's take a few days off."

Landim said Jesus had given no hint of an approach from another club.

"He did not mention anything, of course not," the president said.

Gerson has no interest in leaving Flamengo despite reported interest from Premier League duo Chelsea and Tottenham.

After an unsuccessful stint at Roma, Fluminense youth product Gerson returned to Brazil after an €11.8million deal was agreed with Flamengo in July 2019.

The 23-year-old has since won the Campeonato Brasileiro, Copa Libertadores, Supercopa do Brasil and the Recopa Sudamericana, while the Campeonato Carioca could be secured next week with Jorge Jesus' side taking on Fluminense in a two-legged final.

Gerson's displays have led to links to some of Europe's biggest clubs, but he insists he is happy at Flamengo.

"After a year with Flamengo, I can promise that I never spoke with another club. My focus is totally on Flamengo," he told Globo Esporte.

"I feel at home, I am happy, I am wanted and I am at a club that is on the level of European sides.

"We can't shut doors, football shows this, but today I am very happy and fulfilled to be in the club of my heart.

"I rediscovered myself here and I want to win yet more trophies in this shirt."

Flamengo head coach Jorge Jesus has extended his contract with the Brazilian giants until at least 2021.

Jesus, 65, took the helm of Flamengo last year and led the club to three trophies in 2019, winning the Copa Libertadores, Brazilian Serie A and Campeonato Carioca.

The former Benfica boss confirmed he had agreed to a new deal on Tuesday, with reports suggesting he will earn around €4million.

"My representatives reached an agreement today with Flamengo's board of directors to renew my contract for another year," Jesus wrote on Instagram.

"My friendly relations with the entire squad, club structure and Flamengo's fans were decisive to touch my heart and spoke louder in my decision.

"Thank you all for your kindness and support."

Jesus has led Flamengo to 41 wins from 55 games since taking charge in June last year.

The Copa Libertadores success last year was Flamengo's first since 1981.

Coronavirus testing carried out by Flamengo returned 38 positives, the club has announced.

A total of 293 people associated with the 2019 Copa Libertadores winners were tested for COVID-19 and three first-team players were among those found to have the virus.

The South American and Brazilian champions said all 38 individuals were asymptomatic, while results showed a further 11, two of which were players, had come into contact with the virus previously.

A statement issued by Flamengo said: "Players who have had family members, or employees, with positive tests will enter quarantine, with daily monitoring and questionnaires about signs of the virus and new tests.

"In case of new negative tests, they will be integrated into work in a safe period or, in case of a positive test they will follow, from then on, the standard of conduct of those who have already tested positive.

"Finally, Flamengo reaffirms that it is working in full harmony with government authorities to, with all responsibility and security, work towards the important return to football activities in the shortest possible time."

Flamengo announced on Monday that masseur Jorginho, who had worked at the club for 40 years, died aged 68 due to a cardiac arrest after complications from COVID-19.

Players at the club agreed a 25 per cent pay cut for May and June and could be back in training next week.

Jorge Jesus is reportedly a target for Newcastle United, but he is keen to stay on at Flamengo.

After being appointed as Flamengo boss on a one-year contract last June, Jesus has been incredibly successful.

He led the Rio de Janeiro giants to the Campeonato Brasileiro and Copa Libertadores double in 2019 and this year tasted glory in the Supercopa do Brasil, Recopa Sudamericana and the Taca Guanabara - the opening stage of the state championship.

Along with Mauricio Pochettino, the former Sporting CP and Benfica coach has been touted as a potential successor for Steve Bruce at St James' Park with Newcastle close to being taken over by a Saudi Arabia-backed ownership group.

Jesus returned to Portugal when Brazilian football was suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic but began his journey back to Rio on Friday.

The 65-year-old will then continue discussions about a contract extension and plan for a potential return to training when local lockdown measures are eased.

"Right now, I have nothing on my mind. I have to live day by day, know that what happens is because of this epidemic and make decisions," Jesus told Portuguese publication Record.

"I have two months, and Flamengo's directors have to decide what is best for them.

"We feel like we've created a great team. That's one of the factors that motivates me a lot more to continue, and the way I've been treated too. I have two months to decide my future.

"I feel that Flamengo want me a lot and that is decisive for me, to have a club that wants me a lot."

Asked about the possibility of taking a pay cut due to the financial impact of the coronavirus outbreak on Flamengo, he said: "That is not what the issue is at the moment.

"I am no different from anyone else. This is happening all over the world with professionals in all other areas, so it will also be discussed with me."

Arsenal loanee Pablo Mari wants to continue working with head coach Mikel Arteta for years and hopes to win the Premier League with the club.

Former Manchester City defender Mari joined Arsenal from Flamengo in January on a temporary deal until the end of the 2019-20 season.

After a couple of appearances for the Under-23s, the 26-year-old made his first-team debut in a 2-0 FA Cup win at Portsmouth on March 2.

Mari then played the full 90 minutes as the Gunners overcame West Ham 1-0 in the final game before the coronavirus pandemic brought the season to a halt.

The Spaniard has reiterated his desire to make his stay at Emirates Stadium permanent, highlighting the impact Arteta has already had on his game.

"[Arteta] has done really well so far. I'm really happy to work with him," Mari told Sky Sports.

"He has helped me with my weaknesses and improved the strengths. I hope I can work with him a lot of years.

"I have a lot of things to learn but I think my football can be really good with the Arsenal.

"I hope the club and I can go at the end [of the season] with good things to do the permanent transfer. We will see what happens because at the moment with the virus it is difficult."

Asked what his ambition for his career is, Mari replied: "To win the Premier League or try to go to the Champions League with the Arsenal. Also to go to the national team."

The Premier League confirmed on Friday it remains committed to completing the 2019-20 season but no date for its resumption has been set after it acknowledged returning to play in early May was not feasible.

Gabriel 'Gabigol' Barbosa's success at Flamengo was never going to pave the way for a return to Inter, according to the Brazil striker's agent.

The 23-year-old spent just 12 months in Italy following his transfer from Santos in August 2016, scoring one goal in nine Serie A appearances before being loaned out to Benfica, where he played a single league match.

From there he re-joined Santos on another temporary deal and then moved to Flamengo, first on loan before making a permanent switch to the Maracana in January 2020, reportedly earning Inter €17million.

Gabigol's 25 goals in 29 Serie A appearances for Flamengo in 2019, which came after a haul of 18 league strikes for Santos the previous year, led to speculation that Inter might try to recall him.

But his agent, Junior Pedroso, insists that was never a possibility.

He told Calciomercato.com: "Have you ever heard Gabigol say, 'I'm doing very well in Brazil, now I want to show Inter that I can do well there as well', or something like that? No, never.

"The reality is that there was no chance of returning. It was never an option."

Since signing permanently for Flamengo, Gabigol has scored 11 goals in 10 matches across all competitions, and Pedroso believes leaving Inter for good was the best outcome for all parties.

"It was a good deal for everyone: Inter wanted to negotiate the sale, Flamengo wanted to buy him and Gabriel wanted to return to his club," said Pedroso.

"I would like to take this opportunity to say that Flamengo have been very professional with their leadership."

Has there ever been a football player you've loved watching so much that you could be confident of writing down a long list of reasons for your adoration?

For me, that player is Ronaldinho, and seeing as the two-time FIFA World Player of the Year and 2005 Ballon d'Or recipient turns 40 on Saturday, I wanted to pay tribute.

The former World Cup winner will celebrate his birthday in a maximum-security Paraguayan prison after being accused of entering the country on a fake passport – and he apparently continues to rack up goals and assists in kickabouts behind bars. Only Ronaldinho.

In honour of the legendary Brazilian on this landmark day, here are the 40 reasons why I love him.

 

1. Within three minutes of kick-off in a Paris Saint-Germain versus Marseille game I recorded on VHS in March 2003, he flicked the ball over the heads of two players and won a free-kick when dribbling away. When he scored with a dink over the keeper later in that game, a love affair was born.

2. He was the master of the no-look pass. And it didn't even need to be necessary.

3. Whether you call it an elastico or a flip-flap, Ronaldinho loved them. It was the trick I was most beguiled by as a teenager and, to my endless frustration, could never get right myself.

4. He marked his debut for Barcelona with a stunning 30-yard drive that crashed in off the underside of the crossbar. It was gone 01:00 local time!

5. Ronaldinho had arrived in Catalonia with the reputation of a party lover firmly established. Who can blame him – if you were that good, wouldn't you just want to constantly celebrate?

6. That goal against Chelsea.

7. He assisted Ludovic Giuly in a 3-0 win over Osasuna in October 2005 using his back. I mean, who does that?!

8. He picked Barcelona over Manchester United. Nothing against the Red Devils, but it would have been tough to watch him play for a Premier League team that wasn't mine.

9. That samba shuffle celebration and the thumb-and-little-finger hand gesture.

10. He got a standing ovation at the Santiago Bernabeu – as a Barcelona player.

11. Those cascading locks and gummy smile.

12. He scored directly from a corner for Flamengo during a 3-2 defeat to Avai in 2011. Anyone with a 'gol olimpico' on their resume gets the utmost kudos.

13. As a keen follower of Brazilian football, I was delighted when Ronaldinho signed for Fluminense – the team I'd chosen to support during a three-month stay in Rio de Janeiro. It was somehow even better when he terminated his 18-month contract after just nine appearances.

14. Alongside former Everton striker Jo and current Everton winger Bernard, he helped Atletico Mineiro win their first Copa Libertadores title in 2013.

15. He always seemed to be playing with a smile on his face, or at least not far away from it.

16. Ronaldinho may have been in decline and far from his twinkling best when he rocked up at Liga MX side Queretaro, but a double against Club America earned him a standing ovation at the iconic Estadio Azteca.

17. He posed for a photo with me in Barcelona. OK, it was via a green screen, all right?!

18. That was during an October 2003 visit to the city that included going to watch Barca take on Real Murcia. Ronaldinho made sure to treat me to a goal in a 3-0 win.

19. He made England's elimination from the 2002 World Cup a little less painful with the most outrageous of goals. (I reckon he meant it, too.)

20. For starring in Nike's iconic 'The Cage' and 'Ole' adverts.

21. Somehow, he scored from behind the goal during a training session with Flamengo. It was the kind of sorcery most can only dream of.

22. Before going viral was a thing, Ronaldinho went viral. Footage of him juggling the ball and volleying it against the crossbar FOUR times in succession without it hitting the ground wrote him into folklore. I still don't know whether it was real or not…

23. When Ronaldinho dribbled, he did it at electric pace and with startling agility, and although he often took several knocks he did his utmost to stay on his feet.

24. It was a Champions League semi-final against Milan: chest control, the ball lifted over Gennaro Gattuso's head, flicked past Andrea Pirlo with two more touches, and when Alessandro Nesta deigned to get in his way, Ronaldinho stretched a leg out behind him and used his heel to square to Samuel Eto'o.

25. In the days before Ousmane Dembele and Martin Braithwaite struggled with freestyle tricks at Barcelona presentations, Ronaldinho was balancing the ball on his head, rolling it forward to give it a little kiss, then sending it back to rest on his forehead. That's how you do it.

26. He made great use of his shoulder; either to deftly bring the ball down or flick it on to a team-mate.

27. His 360-degree spin to get between two Werder Bremen players. It doesn't even matter that he was tackled by the next defender.

28. He did not join Manchester City after leaving Barcelona. (See point eight.)

29. For filling countless hours of my time at university with his YouTube highlights.

30. Ronaldinho was able to baffle defenders without even touching the ball.

31. Because he scored one of the most jarring chips during his time at Atletico. From 16 yards out on the left side of the box, with the Arsenal de Sarandi goalkeeper seemingly in a good position, Ronaldinho clipped a beautiful effort into the top-left corner.

32. Most of the greats excel from free-kicks. The sight of Ronaldinho stepping up to one in a central area from a 90-degree angle to the goal was a thing of beauty.

33. Because he did not retire straight away after leaving Fluminense. He said he wanted to continue playing (but only after Rio's famous carnival, of course) and ended up going on tour, playing in exhibition games for whoever would pay him.

34. For teeing up Lionel Messi's first senior goal for Barcelona, and doing it with a scoop pass.

35. Against Villarreal at Camp Nou in the 2006-07 season came one of his most memorable strikes. After controlling Xavi's cross with his chest, he span 180 degrees and sent a bicycle kick back across goal. *chef's kiss*

36. For scoring under-the-wall free-kicks at Barcelona, Flamengo and Atletico.

37. His 'water bottle trick' when Atletico took on Sao Paulo. Go and look it up. He showed zero shame in punishing Rogerio Ceni's goodwill.

38. Throughout his career Ronaldinho kept trying to score by stealing the ball away from goalkeepers as they took a drop kick.

39. Another El Clasico moment from April 2004. This time it was an outrageous scoop in behind for Xavi to lift beyond Iker Casillas in the 86th minute and secure a 2-1 win.

40. Because in my lifetime, no other player has made watching football as enjoyable as he did.

Flamengo head coach Jorge Jesus returned a negative result for coronavirus, the Brazilian champions announced.

Jesus tested positive for COVID-19 on Monday, though it was weak or inconclusive and being checked.

The 65-year-old Portuguese was cleared of the virus on Wednesday amid the pandemic, which has claimed almost 9,000 lives globally.

"Flamengo inform the new exam carried out by coach Jorge Jesus confirmed a negative result for COVID-19," the club said via Twitter.

"The club are grateful for the support of the entire Red-Black Nation to the Mister in the last days."

Jesus has enjoyed great success at the helm of Flamengo since arriving in 2019, leading the club to Campeonato Brasileiro, Copa Libertadores and Recopa Sudamericana glory.

After winning a second Libertadores title and first since 1981 in November, Flamengo were crowned Brazilian champions for the seventh time last year, having not claimed the Campeonato Brasileiro since 2009.

Flamengo then added the Recopa – which pits the Libertadores and Copa Sudamericana champions against each other – to their collection in February.

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