The next edition of the Africa Cup of Nations will take place in January and February 2024, rather than between June and July 2023, according to CAF president Patrice Motsepe.

Africa's premier international tournament was due to be held in Ivory Coast during the European off-season next year, but the threat of heavy flooding in the country at that time of year means it will again take place midway through the club campaign.  

Speaking in the Moroccan capital Rabat, where a meeting of the CAF Executive Committee was taking place, Motsepe said: "We cannot take the risk.

"January is not the ideal time because of the European clubs, but it is the only choice we have."

In 2017 CAF announced its intention to play the tournament at the end of the European club season.

However, this year's edition, won by Senegal in February, was twice rescheduled after being slated to start in both June 2021 and June 2022, owing to the COVID-19 pandemic and adverse weather conditions in Cameroon.

The move is unlikely to be popular with several big-name club coaches, with Liverpool's Jurgen Klopp one high-profile critic of the decision to play the most recent tournament at the height of the European season.

CAF Secretary-General Veron Mosengo-Omba, however, insisted the contrasting weather conditions across the continent meant a permanent switch to a January-February tournament was not on the cards.

CAF also announced the creation of an African Super League on Sunday, with the first edition of the 24-team tournament, which will run alongside the African Champions League, slated to begin in August 2023. 

Nice president Jean-Pierre Rivere harbours no ill-will towards Christophe Galtier, who he hopes the best for at Paris Saint-Germain.

Galtier left Nice on June 27 and is expected to replace Mauricio Pochettino at PSG.

The former Lille coach enjoyed a fine start to his single season in the south of France, with Nice flying high in Ligue 1 and embarking on a run to the Coupe de France final, beating PSG en route.

However, Nice were unable to keep up their push for Champions League qualification and ultimately had to settle for fifth place, while they were defeated 1-0 by Nantes in the Coupe de France final in May. 

Nevertheless, Rivere is happy that Galtier has the chance to coach a star-studded PSG team, and believes the impending move suits all parties.

He told L'Equipe: "I am very happy that Christophe has the opportunity to coach PSG and I will always keep a watchful eye on him.

"This alignment of the planets is good for everyone."

Galtier did not reportedly see eye to eye with Nice sporting director Julien Fournier, and Rivere conceded there were issues at the club.

"There were these tensions that should not have been expressed in the press," he added.

"It may seem very confusing, but we analysed the situation calmly and I was able to explain my strategy to [INEOS director of sport] Dave [Brailsford].

"Nice must project itself with an offensive style, from the training centre to the first team. The pleasure we had at one time has been lost over the last three years."

Lucien Favre, who enjoyed success at Nice between 2016 and 2018, has been appointed as Galtier's successor.

Robert Lewandowski's status and Sadio Mane's transfer have taken up the majority of attention at Bayern Munich this close season.

Meanwhile, Serge Gnabry's uncertain future has lurked in the background, despite his importance to the team in recent seasons.

Reports suggest he is set to leave for the Premier League sooner rather than later, with a number of clubs showing interest.

 

TOP STORY – PREMIER LEAGUE CLUBS QUEUE FOR GNABRY

Arsenal and Manchester United are both preparing to sign Bayern Munich's Serge Gnabry, according to the Daily Star.

According to reports, Gnabry is set to run down his contract after rejecting terms for a renewal, with one year left on his deal.

This leaves Bayern with compromised leverage as time becomes a luxury, despite their desire to cash in this window, instead of letting him go for free at the end of next season

While Arsenal and United are preparing a £40million (€46.4m) bid, The Sun is also reporting Gnabry would become a priority for Manchester City if Raheem Sterling leaves.

 

ROUND-UP

- Meanwhile, the Gunners and United are engaging in a bidding war for Ajax's Lisandro Martinez, according to the Daily Mail.

- Martinez's team-mate and compatriot Nicolas Tagliafico is attracting interest from Brighton and Hove Albion and Lyon, per Fabrizio Romano.

Barcelona have no intention to sell Frenkie de Jong to United but are looking for the midfielder to take a pay cut, Diario AS reports.

Mohamed Salah was prepared to join Chelsea before Liverpool made him the highest-paid player in their history, The Sun is reporting.

The Seattle Sounders moved to fourth spot in the Western Conference in the MLS, defeating Toronto FC 2-0 on Saturday.

With Raul Ruidiaz still unavailable due to a hamstring injury, Dylan Teves's 39th-minute goal opened the scoring for the Sounders in his first MLS start, before Fredy Montero scored in the 60th minute.

Teves was left with a relatively simple finish to make it 1-0, tapping in from close range after some fine individual work from Leo Chu.

Brian Schmetzer's side did not face much trouble following Teves' opener, with Montero's goal sealing a sixth MLS win from ten games since they claimed the CONCACAF Champions League in May.

Meanwhile in the West, Los Angeles FC opened the door for Austin FC and Real Salt Lake, losing 1-0 to the Vancouver Whitecaps.

Andres Cubas kept the Whitecaps within touching distance of the playoff spots, coolly finishing from just outside the penalty area in the 89th minute after a chaotic passage of play.

LAFC still hold respective five and seven-point gaps to Austin and Salt Lake atop the Western Conference, with the latter two still to play on Sunday and Monday.

Rafael Marquez is set to return to Barcelona as head coach of the Blaugrana's B team, club president Joan Laporta has confirmed.

The former defender, widely considered one of Mexico's greatest ever players, won La Liga four times and lifted the Champions League trophy twice with Barcelona between 2003 and 2010. 

He also won 147 caps for his country and appeared at five consecutive World Cups between 2002 and 2018, making his final professional appearance in El Tri's round-of-16 loss to Brazil in Russia four years ago.

The 43-year-old is now set to follow in the footsteps of Pep Guardiola and Luis Enrique by coaching Barcelona B, who play in the third tier of the Spanish league system.

Speaking at an event in S'Agaro, Laporta said: "Rafa in principle had [agreed] to be the coach of Barca Atletic last year, [but] he had a situation that prevented him from doing so.

"Now this has already been resolved and Rafa will be the coach of Barca Atletic next season. 

"I am especially happy because I had Rafa as a player, he is a person with a great personality, captain of the Mexican team, and who was part of one of the best Barca [teams] in history."

Barcelona president Joan Laporta insists the club have "no intention" of selling Manchester United target Frenkie De Jong, but says the midfielder may have to accept a salary adjustment to remain at Camp Nou.

De Jong, who emerged as one of European football's hottest properties under Erik ten Hag at Ajax before joining Barca in 2019, has been strongly linked with a move to Old Trafford since his former boss took over at United.

The Netherlands international said in May that his preference would be to remain at Camp Nou, which he labelled his "dream club", but the Blaugrana's financial difficulties have given rise to speculation he could depart.

Barcelona's desire to recruit wantaway Bayern Munich striker Robert Lewandowski has only amplified such rumours, but Laporta believes De Jong is happy at the club and could stay – if an agreement over his salary can be reached.

"Frenkie de Jong is a Barca player and is recognised as one of the best players in the world," Laporta told reporters.

"We know of clubs that want him, not only United, and we have no intention of selling him. The player, I get the impression, wants to stay. 

"He is comfortable at Barca and I will do what is in my power so that Frenkie stays here, but it is also a salary issue and it would have to be adjusted.

"What is certain is that the salary levels of some players are not in line with the salary levels that the board of directors that I have the privilege of presiding over have set."

 

De Jong made 47 appearances for Barcelona during the 2021-22 season, scoring four goals and boasting the best passing accuracy (91.18 per cent) of any of the club's midfielders to play at least 20 games in all competitions.

Laporta refused to be drawn on Barcelona's interest in Lewandowski, however, only affirming his respect for the Poland international's current club. 

"He is a Bayern player," he said of the striker, who plundered 50 goals for the Bundesliga champions last season. 

"Everyone knows that he is a great player, but I would prefer to be reserved because he is a Bayern player. 

"We know that he has publicly stated that he wants to come to Barca and we are very flattered, but we have respect for Bayern Munich, which is one of the best clubs in the world. Between clubs, we respect each other."

Barcelona president Joan Laporta has confirmed the club have been in talks with Leeds United regarding Raphinha, who "wants to come" to Camp Nou.

The 25-year-old looks poised to leave Leeds amid a fierce battle for his services, with Chelsea widely reported to have had a bid accepted, while Arsenal have also been attributed with an interest.

Barcelona have long been seen as the favourites, however, though there have been questions as to whether the club could afford the winger due their financial problems – though they were boosted by a TV agreement this week.

Laporta has now confirmed that Raphinha does indeed want to move to Barcelona.

"We've spoken to Leeds, I don't think they will be offended. We have communication and we have spoken personally," he told reporters on Saturday.

"What happens is that there are other clubs that want Raphinha and are making their proposals. He wants to come."

Laporta also confirmed that two deals are set to be made official this week, with Barcelona landing Franck Kessie and Andreas Christensen on free transfers following the expiration of their deals with Milan and Chelsea respectively.

He added: "We will present Kessie on Wednesday and Christensen on Thursday."

The club are also expected to announce a new contract for Ousmane Dembele, who is reportedly ready to accept a wage reduction in order to remain with Xavi's side.

Cristiano Ronaldo is poised to become the biggest news of the transfer window, with reports stating he is keen on leaving Manchester United to continue playing in the Champions League.

The Portuguese superstar has played in Europe's elite competition for 19 consecutive seasons since first moving to United from Sporting CP in 2003 and stands as the highest-ever scorer in the tournament with 140 goals.

However, United's sixth-placed finish in the Premier League last season means that Erik ten Hag takes over a side who are set for Europa League football – and it is now reported that Ronaldo is pushing for an exit.

If he does get his wish, there are only a few likely destinations for the 37-year-old and Stats Perform has assessed some of them.

Napoli

A return to Serie A has been touted for Ronaldo, with The Athletic naming Napoli as potential suitors – they have a void in their team following the exit of Lorenzo Insigne.

In Ronaldo's three years in Italy with Juventus, no player scored more Serie A goals than his tally of 81 and, despite spending the past year with Manchester United, only Ciro Immobile has scored more Serie A goals since 2018.

Napoli, having finished third in Serie A last year and nine points ahead of Juventus, would match Ronaldo's desire to play Champions League football – although the club's finances and Ronaldo's wage demands may prove to be restrictive.

 

Chelsea

Fresh from Todd Boehly's takeover, Chelsea are looking to rejuvenate the squad and finances do not appear to be a problem, given they have allowed Romelu Lukaku to return to Inter on loan just a year after spending a club-record £97.5million on the Belgium forward.

Interestingly enough, it has been reported that Ronaldo's agent, Jorge Mendes, has already met with the new Chelsea owner this summer and the Blues are in need of a striker having lost Lukaku, with Timo Werner performing better from a deeper role.

Whether Ronaldo would accept a move to a Premier League rival, given his status at Old Trafford, is the biggest question regarding any hopes the Blues may have in signing the veteran forward and, if he is keen, United would likely demand a significant return on the investment they paid last year.

Chelsea also have interest in Raheem Sterling and Leeds United attacker Raphinha, but Ronaldo would be a statement of intent for the new owner.

Sporting CP

With a United homecoming already under his belt, could Sporting secure a sensational return of their own and bring Ronaldo back to where it all began? It's certainly not beyond the realm of possibility.

Second in Primeira Liga last season, Sporting have the Champions League football that Ronaldo craves and he is already a great at the club – though his success has come in his years since he left his home country in 2003.

Ronaldo had just a single season in the senior squad with Sporting before he moved to United, so he may feel he has unfinished business – and it is a side that can definitely compete, having ended a 20-year barren spell without a league title in the 2020-21 season.

 

Bayern Munich

Ronaldo has shone in three of Europe's top-five leagues, the Premier League, La Liga and Serie A, with only the Bundesliga and Ligue 1 left standing – and Bayern have been touted as potential suitors, though Paris Saint-Germain are not said to be interest (sorry, no link up with Lionel Messi just yet, sports fans).

With Robert Lewandowski's future at the Allianz Arena continuing to be shrouded in speculation, it may fall into place for the Poland international to get what he wants, a move to Barcelona, and for Bayern to land Ronaldo as his replacement.

In the past five years, no player has scored more league goals than Lewandowski (193) but Ronaldo, along with the addition of Sadio Mane, should be able to fill any goalscoring void that would be left in the event of a departure.

Real Madrid

Another possible return destination... could Ronaldo wind back up in the Spanish capital?

The Champions League winners are hardly in need of another superstar forward, given the incredible form of Karim Benzema, but bringing Ronaldo back to the club where he scored 450 goals would surely appeal to president Florentino Perez? 

Madrid missed out on Kylian Mbappe, much to their frustration, and having Ronaldo in their side would plug a gap, so to speak, until the PSG forward is further into the new, three-year contract he signed with the French club in May.

MLS

Champions League football has been documented as the reason for Ronaldo's desire to leave but, if such offers are not forthcoming, could a move to MLS be on the cards? 

Financial rules and designated player spots would make a switch complicated, with there only being a handful of teams likely to be able to make a move possible – likely to be those in Los Angeles, Miami and New York.

With the 2026 World Cup taking place in North America, bringing Ronaldo to MLS would raise the profile of the league further – and would undoubtedly be the biggest acquisition for the league since David Beckham's move to LA Galaxy in 2007.

That move marked the start of a new era of soccer in the US and has evolved considerably since, though Ronaldo's arrival would send things to a completely new level.

It has been reported that United do not wish to sell Ronaldo, but with his contract being up next year, could a switch to North America be likely? 

Cristiano Ronaldo should have told Manchester United he wanted to leave at the end of last season rather than drop a July bombshell, according to former Liverpool star Jamie Carragher.

Superstar Ronaldo returned to Old Trafford last year, having enjoyed a remarkable career in 12 seasons away with Real Madrid and Juventus, but widespread reports on Saturday said the 37-year-old wants to leave again.

He is said to want to play in the Champions League, according to The Times, which first reported the news, and United cannot offer that after a disappointing sixth-placed finish last season.

The Portugal striker has been a mainstay in that competition throughout his career, and the prospect of being away from the frontline of elite European football would be a step down.

New United manager Erik ten Hag will target a return to the Champions League, but that is at least a year away, and veteran Ronaldo does not have time to waste.

Unless Ronaldo has been given unexpected information about his role at United in the new season, Carragher said he could not understand the timing of his apparent request to move on.

Carragher sparked a debate with former United captain Gary Neville on Twitter when he wrote: "Ronaldo did exactly what I thought he would do, score goals but make the team worse. The transfer request also kills the idea he turned down Man City because of his love for Man United."

That was a reference to the saga that saw United seemingly pip Manchester City to the signing of Ronaldo last August, when Alex Ferguson appealed to his former star player to return to the Red Devils.

Carragher's comments triggered a rebuttal from Neville, who said: "I get it, you’re full of yourselves but he can turn down City for United because he likes them more and still want to leave this summer. He left before but still loved the club. Enjoy Saturday night and your short period of success."

Carragher, who has seen Liverpool rack up a string of trophies during a lean recent period for United, did not leave it at that.

"City didn’t want him you [clown] and you're the same fella who kept saying it was like Elvis had arrived in Manchester! Elvis has left the building," Carragher replied.

Carragher added: "Also, why now? Has ETH [Erik ten Hag] told him he is not part of his plans or will play a limited role?? Surely the end of last season was the right time to tell the club."

Ronaldo scored 24 goals in all competitions last season, including 18 in the Premier League.

United finished with their lowest points tally in the 30-year history of the Premier League, a competition Ronaldo won three times during his first United stint from 2003 to 2009.

Five-time Ballon d'Or winner Ronaldo has recently been linked with United's domestic rivals Chelsea and Jose Mourinho's Serie A outfit Roma. The Italians would be unable to offer Champions League football in 2022-23, but Chelsea could, having finished third in last season's Premier League.

Luka Modric believes that Kylian Mbappe could still move to Real Madrid in the future despite snubbing the Champions League winners to remain at Paris Saint-Germain.

Mbappe was widely expected to move to the Santiago Bernabeu, with his contract at PSG having been set to expire, but instead he elected to pen a new deal to extend his stay in Paris through to 2025.

That led to an angry reaction from Madrid fans, and even LaLiga president Javier Tebas, who expressed his frustration by declaring the decision an "insult to football" as he launched a complaint to UEFA.

However, Modric has stated that Mbappe should not be crucified for staying in France and believes the door remains open for the 23-year-old to head to Madrid in the coming years.

"Mbappe decided as he decided, that is his right and now he lives with that decision. It goes on," Modric told Sportske.

"We all thought he would come to us, it didn't happen and – now what? Well, we're not going to crucify the man.

"Mbappe is a great player, but as I always repeat, in any context, no player is more important than the club. Real is the greatest, above every player and it will always be like that.

"Who knows what can happen tomorrow, let alone in three or four years in football? Only time will tell."

Mbappe's snub did not affect the end to the season for Madrid, who having wrapped up another LaLiga title, went on to defeat Liverpool 1-0 in the Champions League final, which was held in Paris.

Luuk de Jong has brought an end to his three-year spell in LaLiga with Sevilla and Barcelona by returning to PSV.

The 31-year-old joined Sevilla from PSV in 2019 and scored 19 goals in 94 appearances, including a brace in the club's 3-2 win over Inter in the 2020 Europa League final.

He joined Barcelona on loan last season and featured 29 times, but the seven goals netted were not enough to persuade Xavi's side of making a permanent move for the striker.

Rather than return to Sevilla for the 2022-23 campaign, the Netherlands international has instead re-joined Eredivisie side PSV on a three-year deal.

PSV and Sevilla both confirmed the transfer on their official websites on Saturday, with reports from Spain valuing the transfer in the region of €4million.

De Jong scored more than 100 goals for PSV in his previous five-year stint at the Philips Stadion, helping his side to three league titles, and is excited to be back in Eindhoven.

"I'm home again. That's how it really feels," De Jong said. "I can't wait to score goals for PSV again and hope to see the whole stadium jump again after that. 

"Great things can happen this season together. In all the years I played here, we went for the title. It seems logical to me that I want to do that again. 

"In addition, I want to enter the Champions League with PSV. It is fantastic to be able to play football on that podium."

De Jong, who had been linked with numerous other clubs, added: "It gives a great feeling to return. In recent weeks I read that many fans were hoping for it.

"This choice was not very difficult for me to make. The club is building something very beautiful and I want to be part of that. It feels like something great is about to happen here."

De Jong, capped 38 times by the Netherlands, has also previously won the Eredivisie and Dutch Cup with Twente.

He joins the likes of Xavi Simons, Walter Benitez and Ki-Jana Hoever in joining PSV, who are now managed by Ruud van Nistelrooy.

Cristiano Ronaldo wants to leave Manchester United for a second time, according to a report.

Ronaldo returned to Old Trafford last year, having enjoyed a remarkable career in 12 seasons away with Real Madrid and Juventus.

But the veteran striker's homecoming campaign did not go entirely to plan, even if he scored 24 goals in all competitions.

United finished sixth in the Premier League, enduring a fifth successive season without silverware and finishing with their lowest points tally in the competition.

Ronaldo, who won three league titles and the Champions League during his first United stint, has since been linked with moves away from the club.

And The Times reported on Saturday that the 37-year-old has now asked United to be allowed to leave if they receive "a satisfactory offer".

The report suggests Ronaldo wants to spend the final years of his career playing in the Champions League, with United having to settle for Europa League football in 2022-23.

United are expected to bring in the first signing of the Erik ten Hag era in the coming days, with Feyenoord defender Tyrell Malacia reportedly set to join. According to widespread reports, the club are also in talks with Barcelona over Frenkie de Jong.

Former Rangers and Scotland goalkeeper Andy Goram has passed away aged 58 after a short battle with cancer.

The ex-Gers shot stopper revealed in May that he had been given a terminal diagnosis of stage four oesophageal cancer and had less than six months to live.

"The thoughts of the directors, management, players and staff are today with Andy's family, and would ask that their privacy is respected at this sad time," Rangers said in a statement on Saturday.

Goram is fondly remembered for his seven-year spell at Ibrox between 1991 and 1998, when he was a five-time league champion, as well as winning three Scottish Cups and two Scottish League Cups.

He turned in a string of impressive performances in the first iteration of the Champions League, helping Rangers to a second-place group finish, a point off qualifying for the final.

Goram became something of a journeyman player following the end of his tenure in Glasgow, and became a Premier League winner in 2001 after a short loan spell with Manchester United.

At international level, he won 43 caps and was named in the squads for the Mexico 1986 and Italia 1990 World Cups, plus Euro 1992 and Euro 1996, when he was first-choice goalkeeper.

Goram was a member of the Scottish Football Hall of Fame, and was also named both the Scottish PFA and Football Writers’ Player of the Year in 1992-93 for his efforts in Rangers' treble-winning campaign.

Jack Grealish, Harry Kane and a host of other stars have congratulated England's Young Lions after they won the 2022 European Under-19 Championship.

Ian Foster's side came from behind against Israel in Friday's final in Slovakia to win 3-1 after extra-time, five years after their last triumph in the tournament.

Callum Doyle's second half finish cancelled out Oscar Gloch's opener, before young Aston Villa duo Carney Chukwuemeka and Aaron Ramsey sealed the deal in an extended final half-hour.

It marked the second comeback win on the trot after the Young Lions were forced to recover against Italy in their semi-final.

Their triumph however has been roundly celebrated by senior stars, including former Villa man Grealish, who broke through at Euro 2020 with England following his final season with the club.

"Get in there boys! [A] massive well done to everyone involved!" the Manchester City winger wrote on Twitter.

Three Lions captain Harry Kane also offered his congratulations, adding: "Brilliant lads. Well done and enjoy the celebrations."

Several members of the winning squad will harbour ambitions of breaking into the senior set-up in the coming years, with Mason Mount and Aaron Ramsdale among those who won in 2017 to have since become full England internationals.

Henrikh Mkhitaryan says winning the Europa Conference League was the "perfect conclusion" to his Roma career after finalising a move to Serie A rivals Inter.

The ex-Armenia international spent three years at Stadio Olimpico, the first of those on loan, following an underwhelming spell in England with Manchester United and Arsenal.

Mkhitaryan made 117 appearances for Roma – only four others featured more regularly during his time at the club – and directly contributed to 55 goals.

Indeed, over that period, Lorenzo Pellegrini (56) was the only player to score and assist more goals for the Giallorossi in all competitions.

He played nine times in Roma's successful Europa Conference League campaign under Jose Mourinho last time out, with that the Italian side's first trophy in 60 years.

Following the expiration of his Roma contract earlier this week, Mkhitaryan was unveiled as an Inter player on Saturday on a reported two-year deal.

Mkhitaryan posted an emotional farewell to Roma supporters on his social media, reserving special praise for head coach Mourinho.

"Roma is a truly unique club," he said in an open letter. "Your support has been outstanding and I will always be very proud of it.

"When I wore this shirt for the first time, I had a goal: to make this club win and to make its fantastic fans happy. Goal achieved in Tirana! 

"This triumph was the perfect conclusion to my three years in the Giallorossi. Now it's time to say goodbye.

"I want to thank all the people who work in the club for the special relationship built together over the years. 

"A huge thank you to our technical staff and in particular to Mr. Mourinho for his trust and attention towards me and for the extraordinary motivations he gave me as a player.

"I gave my all for Roma on and off the pitch. It was a great honour to play here and I will never forget the amazing moments we had together. 

"This club and the Eternal City will remain forever in my heart. I love you!"

Mkhitaryan is Inter's fourth confirmed signing of the transfer window following the arrivals of Andre Onana, Romelu Lukaku and Kristjan Asllani, the latter two joining on loan.

Simone Inzaghi's side, who finished second to Milan in a tense Scudetto battle last time out, begin their 2022-23 Serie A campaign away at Lecce on August 13.

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