Club Atletico de Madrid v Barcelona - UEFA Champions League Quarter Final

UEFA rule Atletico’s on-loan Chelsea ‘keeper can play against the Blues in UCL semis

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Ahead of the UEFA Champions League semifinal draw on Friday, UEFA released a statement reminding clubs of the ‘integrity of competition’.

That was in relation to Chelsea’s on-loan goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois, who is currently playing for Atletico Madrid who the Blues could’ve faced in the final four of the UCL… And, as fate would have it, that’s exactly how it’s turned out.

(MORE: UCL semifinal draw – European giants clash in final four)

Chelsea reportedly had a clause inserted into Courtois’ loan deal that stated Atletico must pay them $8.3 million if the clubs were ever to meet in the Champions League and the Madrid club wanted to play the 21-year-old Belgian ‘keeper against his parent club.

According to the following statement from UEFA the talented young goalkeeper, who has spent the past three seasons as a regular for Diego Simeone’s side, is able to play against Chelsea in the upcoming UCL semifinal and the clause would violate the ‘ sporting integrity’ of the competition.

In response to media reports referring to the situation of Club Atlético de Madrid goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois, UEFA would like to reiterate its position. The integrity of sporting competition is a fundamental principle for UEFA.

Both the UEFA Champions League and the UEFA Disciplinary Regulations contain clear provisions which strictly forbid any club to exert, or attempt to exert, any influence whatsoever over the players that another club may (or may not) field in a match. It follows that any provision in a private contract between clubs which might function in such a way as to influence who a club fields in a match is null, void and unenforceable so far as UEFA is concerned.

Furthermore, any attempt to enforce such a provision would be a clear violation of both the UEFA Champions League and the UEFA Disciplinary Regulations and would therefore be sanctioned accordingly.

(MORE: Atletico face $8.3 million price to play starting GK if drawn with Chelsea)

This is certainly a tricky area to navigate, as in the past other players have been caught up in these loan confusions. Usually  in the Premier League, a player will have a clause in his loan deal that states he cannot play against his parent team however with Chelsea putting a monetary fund on Courtios head, it has all got a bit messy. Plus there are no such restrictions involving players loan players playing against their parent club in the UCL.

During the 2013-14 Champions League we have already had s similar situation. When Celtic played Elfsborg in the qualifying rounds, their on-loan striker Mo Bangura was free to play against the Hoops but they felt he shouldn’t be playing against his parent club and expected Bangura to sit it out. However he was free to play, and indeed played against his parent club for the Swedish side.

It is thought Atletico will not play Courtis, both for the financial reasons of playing over $4 million per game, and due to the fact that they want to keep one of the best young goalkeepers in the game at Atletico on loan next season. So, it is in Atleti’s interests to not upset Chelsea, otherwise they could lose their start ‘keeper.

A complex and unique situation will be the main stroyline unfolding as Chelsea and Atletico Madrid prepare to square up.

PREVIEW: Tottenham Hotspur’s “To Dare Is To Do”

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The latest Premier League Download makes its debut on Sunday, as we dive deep into Tottenham Hotspur.

With a brand new stadium under construction and a solid look at perennial top-end pushes, Spurs are among the more intriguing stories in the Premier League.

[ MORE: JPW’s Premier League Picks ]

Spurs host Stoke City on Sunday at 8:30 a.m. EDT on NBCSN, and “Tottenham Hotspur: To Dare Is To Do” debuts at 11 a.m. EDT, right after the match.

Ahead of Boro, Allardyce rips his Palace players

LONDON, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 04: Sam Allardyce, Manager of Crystal Palace looks on during the Premier League match between Crystal Palace and Sunderland at Selhurst Park on February 4, 2017 in London, England.  (Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images)
Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images
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Sam Allardyce continues to have a public go at his players.

The embattled Crystal Palace boss says his resume should have his Eagles players latching onto his directives. He’s previously said he “thought it would be easier“.

The Eagles, seemingly, aren’t. Palace has dropped in form since Allardyce took over for Alan Pardew, and sits 19th in the PL table.

[ MORE: Who is Man Utd opponent Rostov? ]

That’s only two points from safety, and Allardyce isn’t massaging his players to get them over the hump. From The Guardian:

“The advice I’ve given [players] over the years must have been pretty good because I’ve been managing at this level for such a long time now,” said Allardyce.

“My experience and my qualifications are far greater than theirs. They can talk about tactics and systems, that’s fine, but they’re players are they’re paid to play. I’m the manager, and the system and tactics are my expertise, not theirs. When I set those out, they have to put them into practice. Stay focused, stay within the game-plan.”

Allardyce has won less than 36 percent of his matches at every stop except West Ham since 2007, and he went 68W-46D-68L with the Irons. Palace has a massive match against visiting Middlesbrough this weekend, and this is one heck of a risky ploy to motivate his troops.

Prince-Wright’s Premier League picks – Week 26

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Premier League action is back after the FA Cup break, with plenty of big games on the way.

[ STREAM: Every PL game live ] 

If you, like me, love to dissect all the games and predict what the score will be and which team will win, I encourage you to get involved in the comments section below. Let’s have a bit of fun.

[ VIDEO: Previews of every game

Okay, so I’ve consulted my crystal ball and here’s how we see things panning out. Click play on the videos below to hear my score prediction and preview of each game.

[ STREAM: Premier League “Goal Rush”

With the first section labelled “basically, free money” for the picks I think are dead certs. The section labelled “don’t touch this” means if you’re betting I advise you to stay clear, while the “so you’re telling me there’s a chance” section are the longshots. If it is better odds you are after, those are the picks to go for.


BASICALLY, FREE MONEY

Leicester City 1-4 Liverpool – (Monday, 3 p.m. ET, NBCSN) – [STREAM

Hull City 2-0 Burnley – (Saturday, 10 a.m. ET, Premier League Extratime) – [STREAM]

West Brom 3-1 Bournemouth – (Saturday, 10 a.m. ET, Premier League Extratime) – [STREAM]

Chelsea 3-1 Swansea City – (Saturday, 10 a.m. ET, NBCSN) – [STREAM]

DON’T TOUCH THIS… 

Crystal Palace 1-1 Middlesbrough – (Saturday, 10 a.m. ET, CNBC) – [STREAM]

Everton 1-1 Sunderland– (Saturday, 10 a.m. ET, Premier League Extratime) – [STREAM]

Watford 1-2 West Ham – (Saturday, 12:30 p.m. ET, NBC) – [STREAM]

“SO YOU’RE TELLING ME THERE’S A CHANCE…”

Tottenham 2-2 Stoke City – (Sunday, 8:30 a.m. ET, NBCSN) – [STREAM

Report: Sounders on verge of adding AC Milan’s Honda

MILAN, ITALY - JANUARY 21: Keisuke Honda of AC Milan attends prior the Serie A match between AC Milan and SSC Napoli at Stadio Giuseppe Meazza on January 21, 2017 in Milan, Italy.  (Photo by Getty Images/Getty Images)
Photo by Getty Images
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The Seattle Sounders may have a game-changing transfer on their hands (inasmuch as a game can be changed for a reigning MLS Cup winner).

AC Milan is reportedly willing to release Keisuke Honda from his contract, clearing the way for Seattle to add the 30-year-old attacker.

Honda has 36 goals in 82 caps for Japan, and has played just 15 minutes in Serie A since Oct. 25 despite his status as a regular call-up for country.

[ MOURINHO: Ranieri firing is absurd ]

This untenable situation would be a boon for Seattle, who would gain Honda despite recent gossip linking him to Watford, Southampton, Spurs, and others.

The idea of Honda on the pitch with Nicolas Lodeiro and Clint Dempsey could spell a major sophomore season for forward Jordan Morris.

If this Japanese import has even a modicum of the success as another Seattle team’s look to Asia — See: Suzuki, Ichiro — look out.