Paris Saint-Germain's owners, Qatar Sports Investments (QSI), have acquired a minority stake in Portuguese club Braga.

QSI have turned PSG into a European heavyweight since taking ownership in 2011, during which time the Ligue 1 giants have won 29 trophies.

The Doha-based organisation announced on Monday they have purchased 21.67 per cent of the share capital in Braga, with the deal set to be certified in the coming months.

Braga's best-ever finish in the Primeira Liga came in the 2009-10 campaign when finishing runners-up to Benfica.

They are European regulars, having played in the group stage of the Europa League in seven of the past eight seasons and reached the final in 2011.  

QSI chairman and PSG president Nasser Al-Khelaifi said: "Qatar Sports Investments is proud to invest in leading sports businesses and brands around the world, enabling them to reach their full potential. 

"Portugal is a country founded on football – with some of the most passionate fans and one of the best talent systems in the world.

"SC Braga is an exemplary Portuguese institution – with a proud history, enormous ambition and a reputation for excellence on and off the pitch.

"As an investor and partner, we look forward to the club innovating, growing and developing further – across the men's and women's teams, on the commercial and brand side, and across all the communities and businesses it supports – as SC Braga continues its ambitious path."

Braga president Antonio Salvador added: "Braga is delighted to welcome Qatar Sports Investments as an investor in our club. 

"We believe that this is the right shareholder to accelerate our growth and expansion, helping us deliver on our amazing potential as a club. 

"The extraordinary experience of Qatar Sports Investments – with its global expertise, acumen and a track record of amazing results across sport and business – will bring enormous value and help us deliver on our ambitious plans. 

"It is a great day for our club, our fans and our city, as we look forward to many future successes for SC Braga."

Braga finished fourth in the Portuguese top flight last season, behind powerhouses Porto, Sporting CP and Benfica, and are third after nine matches of the current campaign.

Virgil van Dijk admits Liverpool's "confidence is creeping away" after making their worst start to a Premier League campaign in a decade.

Liverpool's 3-2 loss to Arsenal in Sunday's contest at Emirates Stadium leaves them with 10 points from eight games – their lowest return since the 2012-12 season (nine).

The Reds have conceded 16 goals across their past 12 league matches and kept just two clean sheets, while conceding the opening goal of the game on 10 occasions.

And centre-back Van Dijk, who has come in for criticism for his performances this campaign, accepts a lack of belief is playing a part in Liverpool's disappointing run of form.

"Confidence is definitely a thing that plays a part. We're all human beings," he told Sky Sports.

"Sometimes you need a bit of confidence in certain moments. If it's not as high, it won't help in certain situations.

"Every human being needs confidence to perform at the highest level. If you're not winning, confidence is creeping away.

"We know we can turn it around but we have to work hard. That's the only thing to do and the only way forward as well."

Liverpool twice drew level in their enthralling contest with Arsenal, only for Bukayo Saka to claim victory for the home side with a 76th-minute penalty.

The spot-kick was awarded after Thiago Alcantara was adjudged to have fouled Gabriel Jesus, but Van Dijk does not believe it should have been given.

"Obviously it was a very tough game for both sides. We had good moments, we had bad moments," he said.

"Then it got decided by a penalty that from my point of view wasn't a penalty. But it goes so quick, I haven't looked in slow motion. 

"Unfortunately we couldn't get the points to bring with us back to Liverpool."

Liverpool are 10th in the table, 14 points adrift of pacesetters Arsenal with a game in hand, after failing to win any of their opening four league games for the first time in 12 years.

In contrast to their opponents' slow start, Arsenal have won at least eight of their first nine league games for only the fourth time in their history.

"We know they're in the best moment of their lives," Van Dijk added. "They've had a great season and we knew it was always going to be tough.

"But I think we had good moments and created good chances at times. It's hard to lose it by a penalty in my opinion, but it's the case, so we have to deal with that."

Liverpool switch focus back to the Champions League on Wednesday with a trip to Rangers, before hosting Manchester City on their return to league action next weekend.

Brahim Diaz has no idea if he will return to Real Madrid at the end of the season as he tries to force his way into Spain's World Cup squad by starring for Milan.

Diaz is in his third season on loan at San Siro and scored his second goal of the campaign in a 2-0 win over Juventus on Saturday.

The Serie A champions would reportedly have to pay €22million to sign the midfielder on a permanent basis.

Diaz is unsure where he will be playing beyond this season and the 23-year-old is not thinking about his future as he strives to win more trophies for the Rossoneri. 

He said: "Now I am focused on Milan. What happens later, that has to happen. The future will be seen, we don't know what can happen tomorrow, I'm at Milan and I want to perform and give 100 per cent.

"The fans love me a lot. I'm at a great club and I'm focused on the next game and focused on Milan."

Diaz scored in his only senior appearance for his country in a 4-0 thrashing of Lithuania last year and has not given up hope of playing in the upcoming World Cup in Qatar.

He added: "I have no plans in November. I am very much looking forward to it.

"Going with the national team is a pride and it is one of the objectives. It would be amazing to go to Qatar.”

Jamal Musiala has tested positive for coronavirus, Bayern Munich announced in a statement on Monday.

The Germany midfielder played the full 90 minutes of Bayern's dramatic 2-2 Klassiker draw with Borussia Dortmund on Saturday, which left them third in the Bundesliga, now four points behind surprise leaders Union Berlin.

But Musiala would now appear to be a major doubt for the midweek Champions League match against Viktoria Plzen.

The club statement added: "The FC Bayern forward is doing well and is currently isolating at home."

Musiala is the latest in a series of Bayern players to contract COVID-19 over the past month.

Manuel Neuer and Leon Goretzka were withdrawn from the Germany squad, before Joshua Kimmich and Thomas Muller also later returned positive tests.

Bruno Guimaraes has revealed Real Madrid were interested in signing him during the transfer window, but the Newcastle United midfielder is happy to stick with what he believes will be "one of the best projects in the world" at St James' Park.

Guimaraes has been outstanding for Newcastle since joining from Lyon in a £35million January deal.

Eddie Howe's side were in the Premier League relegation zone at the time, but they finished 11th last season and are now up to sixth.

Since Guimaraes' debut in early February, Newcastle have earned 48 points from 26 games, with only Manchester City (59), Arsenal (57), Tottenham (55) and Liverpool (54) picking up more.

In that time, Guimaraes has scored seven goals, more than any Newcastle team-mate.

But he is not merely a goalscoring midfielder, also leading the Magpies in tackles (65) and ranking second in recoveries (129) and successful dribbles (31).

"I never doubted the project. I believed it in the beginning," Guimaraes told the Mirror, adding: "This will be one of the best projects in the world."

 

Such dominant displays might understandably attract the attention of Europe's elite, including Champions League winners Madrid.

Los Blancos have started to move away from their hugely successful long-time midfield three of Casemiro, Toni Kroos and Luka Modric.

Casemiro, Guimaraes' Brazil team-mate, was sold to Manchester United, and new man Aurelien Tchouameni already has a key role.

Guimaraes could have joined the France international in the centre of the pitch at the Santiago Bernabeu, but he is happy on Tyneside.

"I feel at home here," he said. "Real Madrid is the best team in the world. It is nice. It was just a conversation, but it is nothing."

Manchester City's incredible squad depth means some players may be tempted away despite their success.

Among those is centre-back Nathan Ake, who has only managed 30 Premier League appearances since his move to Etihad Stadium in 2020, although he has made five starts this term.

The 29-cap Netherlands international joined City for a reported £41million fee from Bournemouth.

TOP STORY – INTER PLOT MOVE FOR CITY'S AKE

Inter are trying to lure Manchester City defender Nathan Ake to Serie A, claims Ekrem Konur.

The 27-year-old Dutchman has been on City's books since 2020, joining on a five-year contract.

Inter may be looking for reinforcements for their defensive stocks, with uncertainty over Milan Skriniar's future.

ROUND-UP

– Paris Saint-Germain will move again for Inter defender Skriniar in January, reports ESPN. Skriniar is in the final year of his Inter contract and may be available for a cut-price fee.

– Liverpool have joined Juventus and Napoli in having an interest in 21-year-old Rennes winger Jeremy Doku, according to Calciomercato.

– Chelsea are monitoring teenage Villarreal midfielder Yeremy Pino, potentially in the event of Mason Mount leaving the club, claims The Telegraph.

– Football Insider reports Gabriel Martinelli and Arsenal are in talks over a new deal, with the Brazilian's existing contract set to expire in 2024.

– Arsenal are interested in 23-year-old Club Brugge forward Ferran Jutgla, claims Todofichajes.

Real Salt Lake and Orlando City both claimed Decision Day victories to book their spots in the 2022 MLS playoffs on a dramatic final day of the regular season.

RSL moved above Portland Timbers into the last playoffs spot in the Western Conference with their 3-1 victory, while Orlando achieved the same feat in the east after beating Columbus Crew 2-1 after a late penalty.

Pablo Mastroeni's RSL will take on two seed Austin in the first round of the MLS playoffs, navigating their way past Portland who started the day in sixth spot, but dropped to eighth, with Minnesota United also qualifying with their 2-0 win over Vancouver Whitecaps.

Jefferson Savarino settled any nerves for RSL, who had claimed only three wins from their past 17 games, by curling in a 19th-minute opener before Rubio Rubin's deflected shot doubled their lead in the 48th minute.

Bode Hidalgo sealed RSL's playoffs spot with a classy finish in the 82nd minute, with Dairon Asprilla scoring a late consolation for the Timbers.

Minnesota, who will take on Dallas in the first round of the playoffs, got their win after Franco Fragapane's low 17th-minute drive. Jonathon Gonzalez added a second with a left-foot volley in the 77th minute to seal the Loons' spot.

Hany Mukhtar was confirmed as the MLS Golden Boot winner with 23 goals, although he did not score as Nashville locked in the five seed with a 1-0 win over Supporters Shield winners LAFC.

Teal Bunbury scored the only goal in the 53rd minute, with Nashville to face LA Galaxy in the playoffs. Galaxy beat Houston Dynamo 3-1 with Riqui Puig and Javier Hernandez among the scorers.

Facundo Torres converted an 84th-minute spot kick to send Orlando into the playoffs with a 2-1 victory over the Crew. The Lions will take on Eastern Conference two seed Montreal.

Columbus came into the game one point ahead of Orlando and had gone ahead through Derick Etienne in the 38th minute.

Junior Urso leveled for Orlando in the 56th minute before Milos Degenek's handball led to Torres' decisive penalty, condemning the Crew to missing the playoffs.

Cincinnati clinched their spot in the playoffs for the first time in franchise history, leapfrogging up into the five seed slot, with their 5-2 win at struggling DC United.

Brenner hit a hat-trick for Cincy, who will take on New York Red Bulls in the playoffs. The Red Bulls won 2-0 over Charlotte after Elias Manoel's double to secure the four seed.

Inter Miami lost 3-1 at home to Montreal, meaning Phil Neville's side slipped to the six seed and will take on reigning MLS Cup champions New York City. City beat Atlanta United 2-1 to clinch the three seed.

In other games, Seattle Sounders and San Jose Earthquakes drew 2-2, Chicago Fire drew 1-1 with New England and Austin and Colorado Rapids ended 1-1 after Diego Rubio's late equalizer for the visitors.

Eastern Conference winners Philadelphia Union thrashed Toronto 4-0 with Daniel Gazdag netting a hat-trick, while Western Conference three seed Dallas got past Sporting KC 2-1.

Barcelona head coach Xavi admits he must be "self-critical" about his side's recent drop in quality, but insists they will "see the positives" after victory over Celta Vigo.

A poached first-half finish from Pedri was enough for a 1-0 win for the Blaugrana to extend their winning run in LaLiga to seven consecutive games and take them back to the summit on goal difference ahead of Real Madrid.

Yet between their latest result and a similar narrow triumph against Mallorca, Barca appear to be fading away from their early bullish intensity, with a loss to Inter in the Champions League further compounding matters.

Speaking afterwards, Xavi acknowledged he was less than satisfied with his team's latest drop in temperament, but still highlighted the vitality of their ability to earn big results with unrewarding form.

"I have to be very self-critical today," he told DAZN. "The first half was good. In the second half, we stopped applying pressure; psychologically, we dropped off.

"It is important to take three points when you are not good though. We have won seven games in a row. You have to see the positives. Until an excellent performance arrives, you have to save these matches."

With El Clasico looming for likely control of the title race, Xavi seemed less pressed about concerns over form though, suggesting the all-encompassing nature of the fixture balances out both Madrid and themselves.

"El Clasico, it is unpredictable," he added. "Last year, we arrived on the back of a bad run of form, and yet we won 4-0. We will try to win and show personality, like we did last time."

Jose Mourinho believes Paulo Dybala is unlikely to feature for Roma again this year after the Argentine suffered an injury in Sunday's 2-1 win over Lecce.

Dybala stroked home the winner from the penalty spot after Gabriel Strefezza cancelled out Chris Smalling's sixth-minute opener, finding the net for a third successive Serie A game.

However, the forward began to limp and clutch his left thigh in the immediate aftermath of his goal, and appeared to be in tears on the bench after being withdrawn.

Dybala's return of six goals in 10 appearances for Roma this term is a team-high tally (in all competitions), but Mourinho could now be without the 28-year-old for a lengthy period.

Asked about Dybala's condition after the win, Mourinho told DAZN: "I say bad, but I think very, very bad. 

"I am not a doctor, but in my experience, and after speaking to Paulo, it's unlikely we'll see him this year."

If Dybala is ruled out for a prolonged period, it would also represent a blow for Argentina ahead of the World Cup, with the forward having won 34 senior caps for the Albiceleste.

Meanwhile, despite Roma staying within a point of Serie A's top four with the victory, Mourinho was displeased with their game management after the visitors had captain Morten Hjulmand sent off. 

"There was fatigue, both physical and mental. Playing Thursdays and Sundays is tough," Mourinho said. "When I see Udinese and Atalanta [who drew 2-2 earlier on Sunday], I understand that they don't play midweek. 

"We entered very well, with intensity and ambition. After that it was more difficult because we managed it badly; when you are tired, instead of playing simply you complicate things.

"Today we didn't play well and we won, with Atalanta we played better and we lost [1-0 last month]. We have to manage tiredness better."

Pedri was the hero for Barcelona as they saw off a LaLiga challenge from Celta Vigo to take an unpersuasive 1-0 win on Sunday.

Despite a bright, almost bombastic start from Xavi's side, the Blaugrana gradually faded once again in defence of an early lead, ultimately escaping with all three points intact.

A week on from a similar performance against Mallorca, questions may be lingering about Barca's prowess, even as they sit top of the table.

Yet after the sting of a Champions League loss to Inter in midweek, the Catalans were at least back to winning ways, while Celta were left to rue their difficulty in securing a draw.

A dominant start from Barcelona hinted at a blowout scoreline, and Pedri's poacher's finish following a deflection in the 17th minute certainly whet the appetite.

But a subsequent struggle to find a second goal before the break did little to dispel a nervous air around Camp Nou, especially with just under a dozen chances otherwise squandered by the hosts.

That gnawing unease manifested itself in a markedly scratchier start to the second half, during which Celta gradually began to impose more of a threat.

Such pressure seemed to tell when Jorgen Strand Larsen headed home with 20 minutes left, but the offside flag spared Barca's blushes, and from there they held on all the way for a less-than-convincing result.

Lyon sacked head coach Peter Bosz on Sunday and confirmed his successor will be Laurent Blanc.

The seven-time French champions lost patience with Dutchman Bosz, whose second season at the club began brightly but has quickly deteriorated.

After taking 13 points from their opening five Ligue 1 games, suggesting they might challenge at least for a Champions League place, Lyon went into free-fall.

They halted a four-match losing run in the league when drawing 1-1 against Toulouse on Friday evening, but that point at home was not enough to save Bosz, a former Ajax, Borussia Dortmund and Bayer Leverkusen boss.

The dismal sequence of defeats had been Lyon's longest in the French top flight since March 1991, when they also had a four-game run of losses.

Lyon finished only eighth last season, missing out on qualification for all European competitions. It was their lowest league finish since the 1995-96 campaign, when they were 11th.

His replacement will be Blanc, the former Bordeaux, France and Paris Saint-Germain boss, who will officially take charge on Monday.

Blanc left PSG In June 2016, after a three-year reign that included Ligue 1 titles in each season.

His most recent coaching assignment came at Qatari club Al-Rayyan, with Blanc leaving that post in February after 14 months in charge.

A club statement confirmed Blanc has agreed a contract to run until the end of the 2023-24 season.

Carles Puyol has apologised for making a "clumsy joke" in response to a tweet from Iker Casillas' account on Sunday, after it appeared the former goalkeeper had come out as gay.

A post attributed to Real Madrid and Spain great Casillas read: "I hope you respect me: I'm gay."

Although the message was widely shared on social media, suspicions over its validity or seriousness emerged when Puyol replied to say it was time for the duo to "tell our story", followed by kissing and love-heart emojis.

Spanish media reports subsequently suggested Casillas' original message was an ironic response to rumours concerning a potential relationship with actress Alejandra Onieva.

Casillas has since claimed his account was hacked and apologised for offence caused, and former Barcelona captain Puyol has acknowledged his response was misguided.

"I have made a mistake. Sorry for a clumsy joke with no bad intentions and [which was] totally out of place," Puyol wrote on Twitter.

"I understand that it may have hurt sensitivities. All my respect and support for the LGTBIQA+ community."

Both players have been heavily criticised for what many believe to be an ill-judged joke, with Adelaide United player Josh Cavallo – who is regarded as the first openly gay professional male footballer – accusing the duo of being "disrespectful" with their messages.

Barcelona director of football Mateu Alemany has revealed a deal has been struck to make Antoine Griezmann's loan spell at Atletico Madrid permanent.

Griezmann joined Atletico on a two-year loan deal last season, which reportedly contained a €40million purchase obligation if he played at least 30 minutes in a percentage of the team's games.

That clause has led Atletico to manage Griezmann's minutes in the season's early weeks; although the forward has appeared in all eight of Los Colchoneros' league games this campaign, he played under 30 minutes in six of those contests.

It was suggested the two LaLiga giants had reached an agreement worth €19.9million for Griezmann's services earlier this week, and Xavi intimated such reports were correct on Saturday.

Speaking at Barcelona's general assembly on Sunday, Alemany confirmed Griezmann was set to stay in Madrid, saying: "It has been closed this week.

"I think that, in my opinion, it has been important because we took away an important salary."

Alemany also discussed Barcelona's movements in the recent transfer window, in which they agreed big-money deals for the likes of Robert Lewandowski, Raphinha and Jules Kounde, as well as signing several free agents.

The Blaugrana director said those additions have brought additional quality to Camp Nou, also highlighting the importance of selling Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to Chelsea.

"Aubameyang's [sale] was an extraordinary operation, not only because economically it was good, but also because it generated fair play for us," he added.

"We have focused on renewing young players and cutting contracts for veteran players, with more than 30 years of age. 

"Increasingly we have to focus on the market of players who are free. This year we have done it with [Franck] Kessie, [Andreas] Christensen, Marcos Alonso and [Hector] Bellerin, and there are many more for the future. 

"On the other hand, Kounde, Raphinha and Lewandowski have given us a quality leap in the squad. 

"All three have shown that they wanted to come here. Lewandowski, despite the fact that he has just turned 34, what he shows us every day is that his real age is 24 years."

Franck Ribery's potential retirement could open the door to the Frenchman taking a non-playing role at Salernitana, says club president Danilo Iervolino.

Reports have suggested the 39-year-old winger, who captains the Serie A outfit, could announce his retirement as early as next week after suffering from a spate of knee injuries.

Having joined Salernitana from Fiorentina last year, the former France international has played just twice across all competitions this season, failing to appear since August.

Now, it appears that his time on the pitch is set to come to an end - but Iervolino has revealed discussions have taken place regarding the potential for him to assume a backroom role. 

"We are talking to each other," he told DAZN. "Frank is a great champion on and off the pitch, and he manages to bring out the best in everyone.

"He is a leader. We will put him in a role he wants. I would like him next to me."

 

Head coach Davide Nicola concurred, adding: "We asked him, [so] let's see. 

"He has such a high status that he can play any role. But I asked him to [stay] close [to us]. However, we will listen to what he says."

A nine-time Bundesliga winner with Bayern Munich, Ribery has made 25 appearances in all competitions for Salernitana since joining the club in 2021.

Former Spain and Real Madrid goalkeeper Iker Casillas claims he was hacked after a tweet from his Twitter account said he had come out as gay.

A post attributed to the 41-year-old on Sunday said: "I hope you respect me: I'm gay."

The tweet had a seismic impact on social media but suspicions over the validity of the message quickly emerged when an account in the name of his former Spain team-mate Carles Puyol replied 10 minutes later saying it was time for them "to tell our story", followed by kissing and love-heart emojis.

Both tweets rapidly went viral, before Spanish publication Diario AS claimed it was a response to show how Casillas was "fed up with the rumours" about a potential relationship with actress Alejandra Onieva.

Each message was eventually deleted, with Casillas then posting another tweet absolving himself of responsibility almost three hours after the initial message was sent.

"Hacked account. Luckily everything in order," wrote Casillas, who in 2020 ran for the presidency of the Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF).

"Apologies to all my followers. And of course, more apologies to the LGBT community."

By that point, both players had already been widely criticised for what many felt to be an ill-judged joke.

That was certainly the perception of Josh Cavallo, the Adelaide United player generally regarded to be the first openly gay professional male footballer, who suggested the former Clasico stars had been disrespectful about a serious topic prior to Casillas' brief explanation.

"Joking and making fun out of coming out in football is disappointing," he wrote.

"It's a difficult journey that any LGBTQ+ people have to go through. To see my role models and legends of the game make fun out of coming out and my community is beyond disrespectful."

Casillas' apology was not immediately followed by a similar message from Puyol.

© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.