Barcelona say Fabregas doesn’t want Manchester United move

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This Cesc Fabregas saga has taken another dramatic twist this morning.

Barcelona’s manager Tito Vilanova has said that Fabregas wants to remain at the Nou Camp and snub any potential transfer to Manchester United.

Essentially it’s another huge slap in the face for Red Devils boss David Moyes.

Speaking this morning, Vilanova addressed United’s bid for the Spanish international. “I know he has received offers from other teams,” said Vilanova. “But Cesc has told me he wants to stay here. He has told me it is his dream to stay with Barcelona.”

So that’s the end of that then… But are United really the big losers (Exhibit A, top right photo) in this one?

But why should Fabregas turn down a starring role at some of Europe’s top teams when he’s struggling to hold down a leading role at Barca? Because he loves the club.

Vilanova continued: “He doesn’t want to go to other teams for money reasons or playing time. He knows there is competition for places here, but his decision is to stay. I am relaxed about the situation.”

Fabregas could conceivably pick any club in Europe to play for. And probably captain them and be the leading star. Just like he was at Arsenal for many years and then he outgrew the North London club.

(MORE: Manchester United make $53 million bid for Cesc Fabregas)

But was this what he really wanted when he returned to his hometown of Barcelona? Should he be content with being used out of position and forced to watch on patiently as Xavi, Andres Iniesta and Sergio Busquets clog up his midfield role?

If he just wants to play for the club he loves no matter what, you have to admire that. But a question of Fabregas’ ambition, drive and desire pops into my mind.

Doesn’t he want to be the star of the show and lead a European giant to titles? Because he can. Obviously he has already won plenty of trophies since switching the Emirates for Catalan back in 2011. But at Manchester United he would be a key cog in Moyes’ plans for the future.

To put it bluntly Tom Cleverley and Anderson aren’t quite up to the standard of midfielder you’d expect from United. And with the likes of Darren Fletcher’s long-term injury and Ryan Giggs continuing to drift to the peripheral, a key box-to-box midfielder is something Moyes strives to bring in. They tried and failed with Barca’s young star Thiago Alcantara. And now it looks like they’ve had a similar experience trying to pry Fabregas away from Blaugrana.

(MORE: Thiago Alcantara will join Bayern Munich, shun Manchester United)

But if the 26-year-old diminutive midfield genius doesn’t fancy a move to Old Trafford, plenty of other clubs are interested. After United’s bid of $53 million was made public yesterday, the ears of Manchester City, Chelsea and Arsenal all pricked up.

If Fabregas fancies a change, the EPL’s finest are waiting to court him. But if United can’t entice him to leave Barca, what chance have the others got?

Spanish police dismantle match-fixing scheme in 3rd, 4th tiers

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MADRID (AP) Spanish police have dismantled a match-fixing scheme involving players and clubs in the country’s lower divisions.

Authorities said more than 20 people have been detained as part of the police operation launched on Monday, including players, although no names were immediately disclosed.

The matches under suspicion were in the third and fourth divisions this season and last season.

The match-fixing scheme reportedly involved Chinese betting sites.

The Spanish league said the operation was based on information collected by its analysts about suspicious activities.

UCL preview: Chelsea host Barcelona; Bayern vs. Besiktas

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  • Chelsea vs. Barcelona, at Stamford Bridge
  • Bayern Munich vs. Besiktas, at Allianz Arena
  • Champions League round of 16 resumes on Tuesday

[ UCL: Spurs fight back to draw Juventus | Liverpool thrash Porto in leg 1 ]

Chelsea, mired in some of their worst form since the disastrous 2015-16 season, welcome a Barcelona side enjoying one of the best six-month runs of results in the famed club’s entire history. The Blues have won just four of their last 12 games across all competitions, while the Blaugrana have lost once in 38 games.

On the plus side, Chelsea enter Tuesday’s colossal clash as winners of their last two games — back-to-back wins for the first time in 2018 — having outscored the likes of West Bromwich Albion and Hull City by a combined 7-0. Star striker Alvaro Morata returned to action against Hull after five weeks out with a back injury, thus Antonio Conte has something of a selection dilemma on his hands with the Spaniard perhaps only partially fit, and Olivier Giroud racking up a goal and three assists in the last two games, his first starts for the club.

Barcelona, meanwhile, have conceded just two goals in their last nine games (all competitions) and even managed to overturn their lone defeat, to Espanyol, and advance to the Copa del Rey semifinals (and eventually final). Despite losing Neymar in the summer, Barca mostly cruised through their Champions League group, only dropping points in draws away to Juventus and Olympiacos. Lionel Messi has, strangely, never scored a goal in his eight career appearances against Chelsea, a record which has been spoken about at length in the build-up to Tuesday — similarly to the goal-less record which plagued him against Juve goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon, whom he finally bested back in September.

[ MORE: Man City win big away to Basel | Real Madrid 3-1 PSG ]

In the other round-of-16 first-leg matchup on Tuesday, five-time (soon-to-be six) defending Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich host surprise winners of Group G, Besiktas, ahead of the likes of Monaco, RB Leipzig and Porto.

Since taking over on an interim basis (through the end of the season), Bayern boss Jupp Heynckes has won 21 of 22 games of which he’s been in charge, including four of six games during the group stage en route to finish second behind Paris Saint-Germain, while also racing out to a 19-point lead back home in Germany.

Aguero involved in clash with Wigan fan after FA Cupset

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MANCHESTER, England (AP) Sergio Aguero was involved in a confrontation with a Wigan fan as ugly scenes marred the end of the third-division side’s shock FA Cup win over Manchester City on Monday.

[ MORE: Wigan shock Man City, the world and themselves ]

Fans spilled on to the pitch at DW Stadium as the host celebrated its 1-0 fifth-round win against the runaway English Premier League leader.

Supporters from both clubs were involved in disturbances, while television pictures appeared to show a home supporter and striker Aguero involved in a physical exchange.

Aguero appeared to hit the supporter after the fan said something to the player, and Aguero had to be held back by his City teammates.

[ MORE: Money from Wembley replay “will support Rochdale for 2 or 3 years” ]

Advertising hoardings were also ripped out and thrown as a pitch invasion by Wigan fans got out of hand while the defeated City players were being escorted off the pitch.

Footage also appeared to show objects, including an advertising board, being thrown at police officers by fans in the City end.

Wigan shock themselves: “Not sure how it feels, hasn’t sunk in yet”

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Wigan Athletic didn’t just shock Manchester City with their FA Cup fifth-round slaying of the runaway Premier League leaders; nor did they merely shock the rest of the footballing world; they also shocked themselves into disbelief, according to defender Dan Burn.

[ MORE: Goodbye, quadruple! Wigan bounce 10-man City from FA Cup ]

Speaking following Monday’s triumph over Pep Guardiola‘s quadruple-chasing side at the DW Stadium, Burn admitted he himself didn’t know what to make of the night that would undoubtedly highlight and change his own professional career — quotes from the BBC:

“Not sure how it feels, hasn’t sunk in yet. It was a really tough game. The belief was always there. We’ve got Will Grigg, who does what he keeps doing.

“We pride ourselves on our clean sheets. We had a couple bad results before, so we wanted to prove ourselves, so a clean sheet against the best team in England is great.

“Once we scored, the fans really got behind us, just knew we needed to hang on. It was the longest 10 minutes of my life.”

[ MORE: Money from Wembley replay “will support Rochdale for 2 or 3 years” ]

Manager Paul Cook was able to articulate his happiness and pride only slightly better — “It feels great” — but offered the highest of praises to his players, whom “had to ride [their] luck at times” during the game, and gave everything they had to the cause, because that’s the only way you beat a team like Man City:

“It feels great. It’s such a severe test. They’re such a strong side and move the ball so well. We had to ride our luck at times and the sending off is always a big incident.

“Our lads deserve credit for their work and some of the blocks they made were outstanding, and to beat Man City you have to do that.”