It’s the height of silly season, and naturally Manchester United are being linked with a plethora of players. After finishing top in the Premier League two seasons ago, the Red Devils, under David Moyes, slipped down to seventh last season, missing out on European play entirely.
United, understandably, want to restore themselves to their former glories. Louis van Gaal has been installed at the helm, and after Netherlands’ impressive performances in the World Cup, making it to the semifinals, many are confident in his abilities to lead the team.
But United have yet to bring in a host of players. In fact, the only signings made thus far have been that of midfield Ander Herrera, signed from Athletic Bilbao, and defender Luke Shaw, signed from Southampton. So van Gaal must be looking to bring in more players, right?
Not necessarily. Manchester United are close to securing a spot in the International Champions Cup final, so their preseason is going rather well. When asked about transfer plans during a press conference, van Gaal said: “We still have a month to go [in the transfer window] and we are winning. Maybe we don’t need other players. First I want to see the players who I have and give them an honest chance.”
It’s worth noting that five players have already left Manchester United this summer: Alexander Buttner and Patrice Evra were sold, Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidić left on free transfers, and Ryan Giggs retired.
Giving players an “honest chance” is a good idea in theory, but really, shouldn’t United be at least considering buying a central defender?
Former Liverpool striker Djibril Cisse is embroiled in a bizarre investigation into the extortion of a sex tape.
The 34-year-old French striker has been arrested by French police who have confirmed that are investigating attempts to bribe another international footballer.
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Unconfirmed reports from France claim that the individual in question is France and Lyon midfielder Mathieu Valbuena, a former teammate of Cisse at both Marseille and with the French national team.
According to Reuters news agency, Cisse was questioned because he was familiar with the people involved and in total four individuals were arrested as it is alleged they plotted to ask for money from Valbuena for the sex tape to not be released. It is unclear if the tape is of Valbeuna and his partner Fanny Lafon, or if other individuals are involved.
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Cisse won the UEFA Champions League with Liverpool and scored 24 goals in 79 games during his three-year stay at Anfield until 2007. He also had spells with Sunderland and Queens Park Rangers in the Premier League, while he is currently out of contract after being released by Ligue 1 side Bastia following nine goals in 41 appearances. Cisse is due to appear on the French version of “Dancing with the Stars” in the coming months.
Further reports from France say that Cisse is expected to be “exonerated” and that the existence of the video is “not proven” at this point.
Gareth Bale doesn’t at all dislike Cristiano Ronaldo — or vice versa — despite what may seem a lukewarm on-field relationship between the two Real Madrid superstars, insists Jonathan Barnett, agent of Bale.
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Instead, Barnett insists that the two men with very different personalities have a healthy relationship, and competition, that pushes each Galactico to be the best player he can be.
Barnett, on Bale’s relationship with Ronaldo — quotes from the Guardian:
“They don’t go out eating every night together, but it’s fine. There’s no hatred there. Gareth is a quiet guy. They’re complete opposites. But I think Gareth can learn a little bit from Ronaldo as well, interacting maybe a little bit. But he wants his own life and he lives it. Gareth is a great footballer, he doesn’t want anything more. He has some very good endorsements but his whole life is to be the best footballer in the world. I don’t think he wants to be the best model in the world or the best underwear seller. That’s not him.”
That’s a hilarious closing quote from Barnett, but he knows exactly how some folks are going to interpret it: “Bale thinks Ronaldo loves himself too much.”
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There’s nothing better for the ultimate success of a team than healthy, friendly competition between teammates who are spectacularly talented as Ronaldo and Bale. The former will only be around to perform at his current level for so much longer, but at what point does the latter officially take the torch and supplant Madrid’s biggest star, and how accepting will he be of passing that proverbial torch?