Pellegrini says he didn’t pursue heavy hitters because of trust in Dzeko

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Finally, Edin Dzeko gets some credit.

Manchester City boss Manuel Pellegrini has publicly put his stamp of approval on one of the most under-appreciated scorers in the Premier League.

With City having sold Carlos Tevez to Juventus, the position alongside Sergio Aguero now solely belongs to Dzeko, and the manager wouldn’t have it any other way.

“Everyone was talking before I arrived that we will bring in Cavani, Lewandowski, all those players” Pellegrini said. “But I always trusted in Edin Dzeko and he is now playing the way I want. I am sure he will continue improving.”

Dzeko scored the lone goal in Friday’s victory over Sunderland to earn City the Barclays Asia Trophy preseason honors.

It was a heck of a goal, too – a half-volley from outside the box that blasted off the post and in.

The 27-year-old Bosnian made 32 appearances last season, but just half of those were starts, as he confusingly never received the full trust of Roberto Mancini.

Pellegrini says after a blistering preseason, that will change this year. “Not only in Hong Kong, I have a lot of trust in him going forward. He is a player I knew very well and I was sure he would be a very successful player.”

Nicknamed Bosanski dijamant – “The Bosnian diamond” – Dzeko has averaged a fantastic 119 minutes per goal over the past two seasons at Etihad Stadium.  But he’s always wanted to be more than a super-sub.

City did buy Stevan Jovetic from Fiorentina, but the 23-year-old plays more as a secondary striker, and can even play on the wings, so he will be much less of a threat to Dzeko’s minutes than Tevez was.

Dzeko now finds himself in a position of much more responsibility this season, and therefore he’s finally receiving the praise he has so long deserved.

Leicester City record massive earnings from UEFA Champions League

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Leicester City’s UEFA Champions League campaign may have ended without a trophy, but the Premier League side pipped the European champions in the bank account.

UEFA announced on Friday that Leicester City earned $96,167,125 during the Champions League run that ended in the quarterfinals, the farthest of any Premier League club. Real Madrid, the back-to-back champions, earned a slightly less $95,385,679. Much of the difference comes from TV rights deals in England, which pays out more to teams compared to the TV rights deal in Spain.

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Juventus, the Italian giant, earned the most of any club in last year’s Champions League, making a whopping $129,965,357, mostly thanks to the TV rights again.

Mourinho: Ibrahimovic could return in December

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Dare to Zlatan? It could be only a couple of months away.

That’s according to Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho, who said the veteran striker could return from his torn ACL before the end of the calendar year.

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“Zlatan is here, he’s working here and under our control,” Mourinho told reporters. “He’s working as you would expect so, so, so hard. But he’s not to be back in the next week or next couple of weeks. Do I believe he’ll be back in 2017? Yes, I do. But it’s just a feeling.”

The big Swede scored 28 goals for Man United last year in all competitions, proving that he’s still got it at the age of 36, but it’s going to be tough for him to find his old form coming off an ACL injury at such an old age. After suffering the injury last April, it’s been a long road to recovery for Ibrahimovic.

However, with the play of Romelu Lukaku up top, Ibrahimovic would only play from time to time, which could help in his recovery both from the knee injury and just the general recovery between games.

Manchester City quartet called up by Brazil for friendlies

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Brazilian National Team coach Tite has decided on calling up a full-strength squad for November’s upcoming friendly matches in Europe, including four Manchester City players in his 25-man squad.

Gabriel Jesus, Fernandinho, Danilo and Ederson all made the squad as Tite looks to develop more chemistry among his side ahead of the 2018 World Cup, which Brazil breezed into after Tite took over in 2016.

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Luckily for Manchester City and the other European-based players in the squad, Brazil’s friendly matches will be played in Western Europe. The Selecao first faces Japan in Lille, France on November 10 before taking on England at Wembley Stadium on November 14.

The call-ups may be a tough pill for Guardiola to swallow though. As of Friday, Manchester City has 17 games remaining in the calendar year, and surely he would prefer for some of his starters to get a two-week break in November to preserve some energy instead of play in friendly matches.

Everton announce lifetime ban for fan involved in altercation with Lyon player

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On a night when UEFA unveiled a new campaign for respect, there wasn’t enough of it shown both on and off the field.

Everton has followed up on UEFA opening up disciplinary proceedings against them by banning a fan from Everton matches after the fan was seen to punch at an Olympique Lyon player in the second half of Lyon’s 2-1 win at Goodison Park.

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“Club Officials have reviewed the footage of an incident that occurred in the 64th minute of the game against Olympique Lyonnais where supporters towards the front of the lower Gwladys Street End became involved in a confrontation between players,” Everton said in a statement. “We have identified one individual whom action will now be taken against. This will include a ban from attending future Everton fixtures and the Club registering a formal complaint with Merseyside Police.”

The video below shows a fan – amazingly, holding onto a small boy in one arm – throwing some punches at Lyon players after a fracas on the field.

The punch and ban is yet another dark moment for Everton, which has just one point from its first three Europa League matches and sits in 16th place in the Premier League with eight points from eight games.