Never playing in the Premier League is daring to Zlatan

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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.”

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.