Saying the day he leaves Paris will be the day he retires or steps down a level, Zlatan Ibrahimovic has laid it out in plain terms: he will never be a Premier League player.
The PSG superstar is contracted to the club through 2016 and had previously hinted that his next destination could be Major League Soccer. But speaking ahead of his club’s UEFA Champions League quarterfinal against Chelsea — and his old manager Jose Mourinho — the big Swede says he’ll have no regrets about not testing the waters of the Premier League.
From the Daily Mail:
‘To come to England today is not a question,’ he said. ‘It’s impossible to get me to England. Ask the people behind this (PSG) project; I don’t think they would let me go.
“When I went to Milan there were some talks with English clubs but it was not in the picture.
“I will not look back and say I should have played in England. I am happy. I respect the Premier League; it’s a great competition with many big teams and big individual players.
“But I haven’t been part of it. My stories have been elsewhere. I have no regrets. Thank you.”
Ah, the nearly-patented succinct Zlatan ending is always so pleasing. Can you imagine the conversations he used to have with Mourinho? Have they ever had dinner with Thierry Henry? My goodness.
Ibrahimovic, 32, has been effusive with praise for his former manager, but it will be all business come Wednesday.
‘As a coach he did everything, except win the World Cup with a national team,’ said Ibrahimovic.
‘I am lucky to know him as a person and he is a great person. I had a great relationship with him at Inter.
‘Either you connect or you don’t and we connected. He’s a danger. He’s a great coach. He knows what to do to win and has the experience.’
Have to love how Ibra gets in a slight dig — no World Cup — even in celebrating The Special One. I bet in his spare time Zlatan talks about how he is “The More Special One.”
Bayern Munich midfielder Arturo Vidal has declared “ugly” Atletico Madrid unworthy finalists in the UEFA Champions League.
Bayern was eliminated in the Champions League semifinal by Atleti on Tuesday, with Diego Simeone’s Spanish side advancing on away goals.
[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s UCL coverage ]
However, Vidal believed Bayern were the better team in the second leg, saying Atletico played “ugly football” to get through.
Today ugly football – Atletico – played against the best football in the world. The only time they saw the ball was for the goal.
They are going to be dreaming about us right up to the final. They did not have the ball, they took on the best team in the world, they took their chances and got to the final.
The best does not always win in football, like today. They are not deserved finalists.
Bayern Munich controlled more than 70-percent of possession and had 33 shots compared to Atletico’s nine, but those stats mean little as Antoine Griezmann’s away goal was enough to send Atleti to the final.
[ MORE: Former England striker Joe Cole headed to NASL’s Tampa Bay Rowdies ]
Atletico may not play the most attractive football, but after eliminating Barcelona and Bayern Munich in consecutive legs, it’s hard to argue anyone deserves this more than Simeone’s men.
The second leg of the Europa League semifinals kick off tomorrow, with two La Liga sides looking to make it an all-Spanish final.
[ MORE: Premier League Playback ]
Villarreal holds a 1-0 lead over Liverpool, while Sevilla scored two away goals in their 2-2 draw at Shakhtar Donetsk.
Liverpool vs. Villarreal – 3:05 p.m. ET
Villarreal won first leg 1-0
Adrian Lopez’s late winner in the first leg has given Villarreal a slight lead, while the Spanish side did well not to concede an away goal. However, Liverpool have overcome deficits at Anfield before, including their memorable 4-3 victory over Borussia Dortmund in the quarterfinals. Emre Can is back fit for the Reds, as manager Jurgen Klopp will hope his fellow German can help the team to a cup final in his first year in charge.
[ RELATED: Liverpool preparing for another big Thursday night at Anfield ]
Sevilla vs. Shakhtar Donetsk – 3:05 p.m. ET
First leg ended 2-2 draw
Sevilla are looking to become the first team to win three consecutive Europa League titles as the two-time defending champions face off against Shakhtar Donetsk. Sevilla are in the driver’s seat after scoring two away goals in Ukraine, and will feel confident of advancing to the final with a great home record at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan Stadium.
In the latest Men in Blazers podcast, Rog and Davo celebrate Leicester City’s improbable Premier League title with Leicester’s own Arlo White.
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LISBON, Portugal (AP) Portuguese and European police say they have broken up a cell of an important Russian mafia group that allegedly laundered money through European football clubs.
Europol, the European Union’s law enforcement agency, said in a statement Wednesday the group identified EU football clubs in financial distress and infiltrated them with benefactors who brought much-needed cash.
[ MORE: Man City bounced from UCL ]
Once they were in control, the mobsters allegedly laundered millions of euros (dollars) through player transfers, TV rights deals and betting.
Portuguese and European police on Tuesday raided third-division Portuguese club Uniao de Leiria and arrested three key members of the Russian gang. Three other Portuguese clubs’ premises were searched.
Europol said the operation helped identify serious crimes in Austria, Germany, and the United Kingdom, though it gave no details.