Berbatov

Don’t expect to see Dimitar Berbatov suiting up for Arsenal anytime soon

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As the English media continues to force this rumor through the presses, it’s hard not to ask the simple question:

Why?

Sure, Arsenal need striker depth, Berbatov is nearing the end of his contract, and Arsene Wenger is a frugal manager.

But that’s about all that fits this situation.

First of all, Berbatov doesn’t do sitting on the bench.  It’s been heavily documented over the years how much Dimitar’s confidence plays into his success or failure on a given day.

Even match to match, as attacking options dwindle in a defensive showdown, Berbatov makes less and less noise throughout such a match.  Sitting on the bench caused him to ask to leave Manchester United two summers ago.

So why would he move to Arsenal, where he would be the third choice striker? Wenger needs to get quality depth up front in the worst-case scenario – an injury to Olivier Giroud.  But he needs to find a player who would accept such a role, playing behind Giroud and Lukas Podolski, and Berbatov would surely be against that.

What’s there to scoff at when moving to a title contender?

Well, the Bulgarian is the man at Fulham. Even having scored just four goals this season, the attack still runs through him.  He has the Fulham youngsters on a string, playing them into his hand like a marionette.

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Injuries to Nicolas Bendtner (pictured) and Theo Walcott have Arsene Wenger scrambling for reinforcements

Berbatov has developed an exceptional relationship with a number of the young Fulham attack men, especially Alex Kacaniklic.  The 22-year-old Swedish winger often found himself on the end of vicious verbal assaults during the beginning of Berbatov’s Fulham tenure.  Now, Berbatov has the young talent feeding him the ball at every opportunity.

And despite Fulham’s precarious league position, with Premier League status still very much in doubt for next season, Berbatov has nothing to worry about. His contract expires at the end of the season, and he’s almost a guarantee to depart Craven Cottage when his deal runs out.

Finally, that precarious league position Fulham find themselves in only serves to strengthen their desire to keep their main talisman.  With Bryan Ruiz set for departure, why on earth would they sell Berbatov and leave themselves entirely empty up front? Should Berbatov leave the friendly confines on the banks of the Thames, Fulham will surely be playing Championship soccer next year.

Not surprisingly, the English media also continue to ignore the comments of both managers squashing the deal.  Rene Meulensteen publicly acknowledged he is aware of the 32-year-old’s importance to the club’s relegation battle, saying, “He is a Fulham player & a very important one for us.”

If that’s not enough, Wenger also did his best to put the rumors to rest, saying a week ago, “‘I won’t go into any specific names. That would be disrespectful. We are assessing our options which are restricted. Berbatov is not a name we have considered.”

So while injuries to Nicolas Bendtner and Theo Walcott have Wenger searching for cover at not just the striker spot but the wing position as well, don’t expect a mercurial Bulgarian with a sublime first touch to be the final choice.

Former CONMEBOL president has petition to stop extradition rejected

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ASUNCION, Paraguay (AP) Paraguay’s top court has rejected a petition by Nicolas Leoz, the former head of the South American football confederation, to halt his extradition to the United States.

Leoz is being held under house arrest in Paraguay. He is accused of receiving millions in bribes and kickbacks and was among dozens of top officials indicted in the FIFA corruption scandal.

[ FOLLOW: Leicester City’s miracle ]

Leoz’s lawyer Ricardo Preda told The Associated Press that his petition was turned down, but that he would continue to appeal against the extradition.

Leoz was the head of CONMEBOL from 1986 until 2013 when he resigned, and was replaced by Eugenio Figueredo of Uruguay.

Figueredo is under house arrest in Uruguay on similar charges. Figueredo was replaced by Juan Angel Napoul of Paraguay, who is under house arrest in Miami.

Cristiano Ronaldo back healthy for Real Madrid; will play vs. Man City

MADRID, SPAIN - MAY 03:  Cristiano Ronaldo of Real Madrid warms up during a training session ahead of the UEFA Champions League Semi Final Second Leg between Real Madrid and Manchester City at Valdebebas training ground on May 3, 2016 in Madrid, Spain.  (Photo by Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images)
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Real Madrid manager Zinedine Zidane has confirmed that Cristiano Ronaldo is “100-percent” for Wednesday’s Champions League semifinal match against Manchester City.

Ronaldo missed the first leg at the Etihad while recovering from a thigh injury, which ended a scoreless draw.

[ MORE: UCL semifinal preview ]

The Champions League’s all-time leading scorer with 93 goals, Ronaldo has not featured for Real since suffering the injury in a La Liga match against Villarreal on April 20.

Real Madrid had the better of chances in the first leg in Manchester, but Joe Hart’s heroics stopped Zidane’s side from grabbing an all-important away goal. However, Ronaldo’s absence was clearly visible and his return is a massive boost for Real.

[ RELATED: Atletico Madrid eliminate Bayern Munich, advance to UCL final ]

Even if Ronaldo is not 100-percent fit as Zidane claims, his inclusion in the lineup is still vital for Real’s success. A threat in so many different aspects of the game, his presence alone can throw off opposing defenses, leaving more time and space for his teammates to expose a City back-line that has its flaws.

Premier League chairman: Leicester City made mugs of all of us

LEICESTER, ENGLAND - MAY 03:  Leicester reacts to Leicester City's Premier League Title Success on May 03, 2016 in Leicester, England.  (Photo by Matthew Lewis/Getty Images)
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Premier League executive chairman Richard Scudamore has been around football for a long time, but even he can’t explain Leicester City’s miraculous title run.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s Leicester coverage ]

With the Foxes now officially champions of England, Scudamore hailed the achievement as “the biggest sporting story ever.”

Speaking to BBC Sport, the Premier League’s top exec said Leicester’s run has silenced all the bookmakers and critics who said it could never happen, but that he wouldn’t want it any other way.

It’s probably the biggest sporting story ever and the biggest sporting achievement ever.

Nobody saw it coming and even when it was halfway through the season nobody said it could be sustained.

We don’t know what the future holds because we’ve all become completely hopeless at predicting anything, including the bookmakers and everybody else – because this one nobody saw coming.

It’s made mugs of all of us and that is just the most fantastic feeling.

If the bookmakers had it as a 5,000-1 event, you would imagine you should achieve these type of things once every 5,000 years. It gives us 10, 20, 30, 40, 50 years of being able to say: ‘Leicester 2016. Just remember Leicester 2016.’

Pegged as pre-season favorites for relegation, Leicester defied the odds (5,000-1 odds) and claimed the most unlikely of championships. A top executive with the Premier League since 1999, even Scudamore had to admit he had a bit of egg on his face.

[ VOTE: What is the top moment from Leicester’s fairytale run? ]

Scudamore may not have believed in the Foxes, but few outside the city really did. One thing the chairman did have right though, is that we will all remember ‘Leicester 2016.’

Simeone on Atleti’s achievement: We showed the work of three years

MADRID, SPAIN - APRIL 02:  Head coach Diego Pablo Simeone of Atletico de Madrid gives instructions during the La Liga match between Club Atletico de Madrid and Real Betis Balompie at Vicente Calderon Stadium on April 2, 2016 in Madrid, Spain.  (Photo by Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images)
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Atletico Madrid are headed to their second Champions League final in three seasons.

Antoine Griezmann’s away goal was enough to lead Atleti past Bayern Munich in the semis as they must now await their opponent in the final, either Manchester City or Real Madrid.

[ MORE: UCL semifinal preview ]

Atleti lost the 2014 final to Real Madrid, but they currently look the strongest side in Europe with a leader in Diego Simeone who has risen up the ranks of the game’s elite managers.

Speaking after Tuesday’s match, Simeone said the performance his side put in against Bayern Munich was thanks to the work they have put in over the past few seasons.

Very emotional. It was a very good first half by Bayern, they’re a great team. The missed penalty gave us life.

We had to change a bit from the first leg in terms of how we played and we showed our strengths as a team. The penalty miss by Torres hurt us but in the end it was like a movie, thrilling, with five minutes extra time.

I’m proud of what has happened to this club. We are beating the best teams in the world. Over the course of 180 minutes we showed the work of three years.

I hope that destiny will eventually help us in the final. It doesn’t matter who we play.

Barcelona and Bayern Munich entered the Champions League as favorites to lift the trophy in Milan, but both of those sides failed to get past Simeone’s Atletico.

[ REPORTS: Man City to trigger $60 million Aymeric Laporte release clause ]

Simeone’s name has been linked with the Premier League and other top clubs in Europe, but is there a reason for him to leave Madrid? Atleti’s two legs against Bayern truly did show the work of three years, as the manager has stuck to his guns and built the team around his values as a manager. They may not have been mentioned in the elite tier of clubs in the past, but Simeone has proven they should be now.