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Torres clears the air 5 years after contentious transfer from Liverpool to Chelsea

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I’m no traitor, says Fernando Torres with regards to his move from Liverpool to Chelsea, upon his official transfer request, during the January transfer window of 2011.

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Speaking to Simon Hughes for the author’s new book, “Ring of Fire: Liverpool FC into the 21st Century – the players’ stories,” Torres has given his version of the events that transpired and ultimately resulted in the two-time European and 2014 world champion trading red for blue in a then-record deal for a British club ($65 million).

Torres has been portrayed as the want-away villain in the years since his contentious move from Anfield to Stamford Bridge, but the now-32-year-old Spanish striker says his hand was forced when a new ownership group wanted to freshen up the squad with younger players and build for the club’s long-term future, rather than aim to win right away. That’s something Torres couldn’t stand for, because he didn’t have time to wait — quotes from the Liverpool Echo:

“[Damien] Comolli told me that the new owners (Fenway Sports Group), they had an idea of how to spend their investment.

“They wanted to bring in young players, to build something new. I was thinking to myself, this takes time to work. It takes two, three, four, maybe even 10 years.

“I didn’t have that time. I was 27 years old. I did not have time to wait. I wanted to win. Here we are five years later and they are still trying to build – around the same position in the league as when I left.”

“It was presented as if I was a traitor. It was not like this in the discussion(s). Liverpool could not admit they were doing something wrong with the whole team. They had to find a guilty one.”

After scoring 65 goals in 106 league games for Liverpool, Torres seemed destined to star on the biggest stage — something the Reds had fallen away from by that point in his career — and he did so to an extent, helping the Blues to the 2012 UEFA Champions League title, though as much less of a central figure than he would have hoped (20 goals in 110 league appearances; 45 in 172 in all competitions).

[ MORE: Wednesday’s transfer rumor roundup | Tuesday | Monday ]

It’s a shame that Torres’s Liverpool legacy has been reduced by his departure. For the majority of his time at the club, there was no striker more unplayable in the Premier League. If Torres didn’t fit into the new owners’ vision going forward, he could have been sold (for a massive fee to them), the whole thing framed as a deal done by mutual consent in order for all sides to come out looking better than they’ve actually done. Instead, this dramatic saga became the first of many public-relations disasters that will ultimately go down as FSG’s own Liverpool legacy once they inevitably sell the club and move on to their next business venture.

Transfer news: Icardi to PSG, Hendrick to Milan

Hendrick to AC Milan
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Jeff Hendrick has been loyal to two English clubs for long tenures but could be looking to a very different arena for his next step as a footballer.

Burnley’s Republic of Ireland midfielder is out of contract at season’s end and Sky Sports is linking Hendrick with a move to — wait for it — Serie A mainstays AC Milan.

MORE: Premier League remaining fixtures ]

Hendrick, 28, has played 139 times for the Clarets since 2015, scoring 10 times with seven assists.

54 times capped by Ireland, Hendrick hit the pitch 215 times for Championship side Derby County prior to his Turf Moor move, scoring 26 times with 19 assists.

Burnley wants to keep Hendrick but the two have not agreed to a contract. Having had a taste of the Europa League with the Clarets and performing well, he may want to see how the seasons plays out for both sides. Milan sits in Serie A’s final UEL slot, while Burnley is four points back of sixth in the PL.

[ Bundesliga: Live scores | Week 29 preview, predictions  ] 

Meanwhile, rumored Newcastle and Juventus target Mauro Icardi may not get the chance to test the transfer waters this summer.

The combustible Argentine striker, 27, is going to stay at Paris Saint-Germain next season after the Ligue 1 champs agreed a big fee to permanently sign the loanee from Inter Milan.

The fee is said to start at $55 million and have the potential to rise another $9 million with incentives.

Icardi scored 20 goals with four assists during his first season in France after scoring more than 150 goals during his time in Italy between Sampdoria and Inter.

La Liga return: State of play in Spain ahead of June 11 restart

La Liga return
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La Liga will return on June 11 and El Clasico’s heated rivals will restart a battle for the top of Spain’s top flight.

Catalan clubs face drama at both ends of the table with Barcelona in first and Espanyol in 20th. Between there is mayhem.

MORE: Premier League remaining fixtures ]

Barca holds a two-point edge on Real Madrid in its bid for a third-straight La Liga crown and fifth in six seasons. Real will need a slip-up from Quique Setien’s men as there is not a Clasico to be found on the fixture list.

The other two Champions League spots will be hotly-contested with four sides within two points between third and sixth, especially considering the side bringing up the rear is powerful Atletico Madrid (45 points). Sevilla currently sits third with 47 points, with fourth-place Real Sociedad and fifth-place Getafe on 46.

Valencia is also in the picture with 42, and seventh-place will be a Europa League spot should Real Sociedad win the Copa del Rey or rivals Athletic Bilbao (37 points) win it and climb into sixth.

[ Bundesliga: Live scores | Week 29 preview, predictions  ] 

The bottom half of the table is a relegation picture, even if 11th-place Osasuna counts a nine-point lead on the bottom three of Mallorca (25 points), Leganes (23), and Espanyol (20).

The matches will, of course, be played behind closed doors, though Spanish authorities have hope for fans in the 2020-21 season.

Matchweek 28 will be played from June 12 to June 15 with the full La Liga schedule below, while there are also details on how you can watch on TV in the USA.

La Liga schedule

  • TV Channels: beIN Sports USA
  • Stream LiveVia beinSports
  • When: From June 11 to July 17

Standings

Team GP W D L GF GA GD Home Away PTS
 Barcelona 27 18 4 5 63 31 32 13-1-0 5-3-5 58
 Real Madrid 27 16 8 3 49 19 30 9-4-0 7-4-3 56
 Sevilla 27 13 8 6 39 29 10 6-5-2 7-3-4 47
 Real Sociedad 27 14 4 9 45 33 12 8-2-3 6-2-6 46
 Getafe 27 13 7 7 37 25 12 7-4-3 6-3-4 46
 Atlético Madrid 27 11 12 4 31 21 10 8-5-1 3-7-3 45
 València 27 11 9 7 38 39 -1 8-6-0 3-3-7 42
 Villarreal 27 11 5 11 44 38 6 6-4-3 5-1-8 38
 Granada 27 11 5 11 33 32 1 8-2-3 3-3-8 38
 Athletic Club 27 9 10 8 29 23 6 7-3-3 2-7-5 37
 Osasuna 27 8 10 9 34 38 -4 5-5-4 3-5-5 34
 Betis 27 8 9 10 38 43 -5 7-3-4 1-6-6 33
 Levante 27 10 3 14 32 40 -8 7-3-3 3-0-11 33
 Alavés 27 8 8 11 29 37 -8 6-5-3 2-3-8 32
 Valladolid 27 6 11 10 23 33 -10 3-7-3 3-4-7 29
 Eibar 27 7 6 14 27 41 -14 6-1-7 1-5-7 27
 Celta Vigo 27 5 11 11 22 34 -12 4-5-4 1-6-7 26
 Mallorca 27 7 4 16 28 44 -16 6-2-6 1-2-10 25
 Leganés 27 5 8 14 21 39 -18 4-3-7 1-5-7 23
 Espanyol 27 4 8 15 23 46 -23 1-5-7 3-3-8 20

Havertz makes history in Bayer win

Freiburg v. Bayer Leverkusen recap and video highlights
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Kai Havertz made more Bundesliga history as Bayer Leverkusen got back in the win column with a 1-0 win at scrappy Freiburg on Friday.

Havertz became the first player in history to score 35 Bundesliga goals before the age of 21 with the match’s early second-half opener, assisted by Leon Bailey. He turns 21 on June 11.

[ Bundesliga: Live scores ]

Havertz has 11 goals and five assists in Bundesliga play this season including five goals since the end of the coronavirus pause.

Bayer pulls in third place with 56 points, one ahead of RB Leipzig and one back of Borussia Dortmund. Gladbach lurks three points back.

Freiburg may have waved goodbye to its sixth-place hopes, now four points back of Wolfsburg.

[ MORE: Week 29 preview, predictions  ] 

There were hints of danger for both teams in the opening throes.

Leon Bailey missed an early chance for the visitors, and Vincenzo Grifo saw a turnover at the other end denied by a sliding challenge.

Bailey was dangerous but not clinical as Bayer controlled the first half but, like many, couldn’t find away through Freiburg’s cagey, Burnley-like compactness.

Freiburg broke the other way and had a glorious chance to steal a lead when Roland Sallai sent Lucas Holer on goal, but Lukas Hradecky cut down the angle and Holer missed wide on a chance to score in consecutive matches.

Bailey played his part well in setting up Havertz’s post-halftime opener. The Jamaican dribbled into an out of traffic before cutting a path onto Havertz’s path.

Havertz rolled the ball between the legs of Freiburg star backstop Alexander Schwolow to make it 1-0 in the 55th.

Freiburg had one more big chance to get a point, as Christian Gunter crossed for Nils Petersen but the latter couldn’t get enough on the shot to beat Hradecky.

Bundesliga preview: Paderborn v. Borussia Dortmund

Paderborn v. Borussia Dortmund preview
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Last-place Paderborn is running out of time to make a run out of the drop zone, and a visit from Borussia Dortmund wouldn’t normally inspire too much.

But Sunday’s match between the two sides sees Dortmund taking the pitch for the first time since seeing its title hopes dashed in a fierce Klassiker, and Paderborn’s picked up points in all three matches since play resumed from the coronavirus pause.

Not only that, the sides drew 3-3 in November at Dortmund’s Westfalenstadion, BVB firing back from a 3-0 halftime deficit thanks to goals from Jadon Sancho, Marco Reus, and Axel Witsel.

[ Bundesliga: Live scores | Week 29 preview, predictions  ] 

Paderborn has been playing well for a last-place side, ornery and collecting more cards than most teams in the Bundesliga.

As for Dortmund, the black and yellow side performed well enough to get a result from Bayern but lost on a Joshua Kimmich wondergoal and will likely still be lamenting what could’ve been if VAR reviewed an apparent Jerome Boateng handball in the box.

Still, there’s too much talent here, even at a desperate host. In a non-coronavirus world, the home crowd changes our opinion a little on the score line. We’re feeling a blowout, Dortmund 4-0.

Below is how to watch Borussia Dortmund v. Paderborn on TV in the USA this Saturday, while above you can follow the action live, as the three points are so valuable to both clubs but for very different reasons.

Bundesliga schedule

  • TV Channels: FS1
  • Stream LiveVia Fox Soccer
  • When: Saturday, May 30 – 12:30 p.m. ET: Bayern Munich v Fortuna Dusseldorf
  • Americans Abroad: Giovanni Reyna (Dortmund)