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Toure’s agent fires back at Guardiola, won’t apologize

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Sadly for Yaya Toure this is fast becoming a farcical situation.

The Manchester City midfielder, 33, announced has been at the center of a very public falling out between his manager Pep Guardiola and his agent Dimitri Seluk.

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On Tuesday Guardiola stated that Toure will not play again for him at City until he apologizes to his teammates and the club for the comments of his agent following Guardiola’s decision to leave him out of City’s UEFA Champions League squad.

Previously Seluk was fuming that Guardiola had “embarrassed” Toure and said he hoped Guardiola would “have the balls” to apologize to Toure if City did not win the UCL this season.

Toure has not played a single second in the Premier League this season under Guardiola and with a year left on his contract at the Etihad he can start discussing a contract with foreign teams from January 1, 2017. After Guardiola sold Toure to Man City from Barcelona in 2010, it always seemed likely it would end this way. And oh yeah, by the way, Toure decided to retire from international soccer on Tuesday too.

So, here’s how it all went down today. First Guardiola said this in his news conference before City’s League Cup game at Swansea City on Wednesday.

“He must apologize to his team-mates. He must apologize to the club,” said Guardiola. “If he doesn’t, he won’t play. A manager has to make his job. If he has a problem he should speak to people at the club. But the day after, his manager (agent) went to the media. He (Yaya) has not had the courage to call me. I cannot imagine when I was a player that my manager [agent] would go to the media and speak against [former Barcelona coach] Johan Cruyff and say about this and that. Maybe it is a new period and things are changing. But I am an old guy. In the old generation, the manager has to make his job and the player his job, trainer his job.”

Which was then quickly reacted to by Seluk, who spoke to Sky Sports in the UK and the interview which was then broadcast on air as an irate Seluk when back and forth but claimed he would never apologize to Guardiola.

“What do I need to apologize for?” Seluk said. “Guardiola wins a few games and he thinks he is king. I live in Europe so I can say whatever I like and Guardiola can’t stop me. Okay, I will apologize to Guardiola if he will apologize to  Pellegrini for what he did to him. If you are a gentleman, this just does not happen. Pellegrini signed a new contract last year and then he gets pushed out for Guardiola to come in. Pellegrini was a gentleman. Guardiola also needs to apologize to Joe Hart. It is not normal and it is not right to come to England and to get rid of the few English players. When you come to a country you must respect the country and respect its people.

“When Yaya went to Man City,  they could only dream about the Champions League. The biggest stars in Europe did not want to come to City, but Yaya came. They weren’t a big club. After he arrives they started winning; two league titles, cups and now the semis of the Champions League. I want Man City to win everything; to win all their games because it means more trophies for Yaya. City have great players, but Guardiola wants new future for Yaya, for Hart…and they won’t be the last.

“I respect managers like Claudio Ranieri who achieve without spending so much money on players.”

Incredible.

This is a sad way for Toure to end his time at City after winning two Premier League titles, an FA Cup and two League Cups since arriving in 2010.

He will always remembered for being at the heart of City’s most successful years as a club but the Ivorian midfielder will have a little asterisk next to his name for some of his questionable performances over the past 12 months and also this ugly episode between himself, his agent and Guardiola.

Gomes return gives Everton boost despite defeat

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Everton lost the first game of a gauntlet four-game swing, losing 3-2 at Arsenal despite leading inside two minutes of the match. But while Everton left the Emirates without any points, it gained a massive boost with the return of Andre Gomes.

The Portuguese central midfielder, signed from Barcelona, made his return to the field on Sunday off the bench in the 59th minute for his first game since suffering a gruesome injury on November 3 against Tottenham. Gomes appeared to break his leg after a sliding tackle from behind from Heung-Min Son, but in less than four months, Gomes is now back in action.

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“I need to thank everybody. The team, they were great, my supporters, Evertonions, and also in general football supporters, everyone has been wonderful with me,” Gomes said after the Arsenal match. “(It) gives (me) confidence when you feel like you have the support of the people. I just pushed myself to the my limit, I wanted to be back as soon as possible, and I’m glad I have the help of everybody around me.”

This is huge for Everton and head coach Carlo Ancelotti. Without Gomes, and the oft-injured Fabian Delph (though Delph started against Arsenal), Everton really lacked pace and power in the center of midfield. Morgan Schneiderlin is a decent passer but doesn’t have the pace required for the Premier League, and then Ancelotti was dropping Gylfi Sigurdsson further back in midfield to play alongside Schneiderlin or Delph.

With Gomes back in contention for a starting spot, Ancelotti can play Sigurdsson closer to the opposing goal and partner him with either Delph or the still-young Tom Davies, who can do even more running to win the ball back and get it to Gomes.

“He did really well without problem,” Ancelotti said post game. “(He was) very strong in the tackle. The player is really important for us and he will play next game.”

Looking forward, it’s also huge for Everton to get Gomes back because they’re in the middle of one of the season’s toughest stretches. After facing Arsenal today, Everton hosts Manchester United, visits Chelsea, and then hosts Liverpool on Monday, March 16 in the Merseyside Derby.

Galatasaray wins bonkers derby over Fenerbahce

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Goals. Fights. Red cards. Yellow cards. Horror tackles. Passion in the stands.

The Intercontinental Derby in Istanbul today had just about everything.

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For the first time this century, Galatasaray defeated Fenerbahce in the Turkish Superlig, winning 3-1 on the road. With the victory, Galatasaray moves into a three-way tie for first place in the league. As mentioned above, the game featured 12 yellow cards, VAR reviews, two red cards, and countless other dangerous plays that the officials let go with just a warning.

Max Kruse put the Asia-based Fenerbahce in front off a penalty kick that was confirmed by VAR, but Dutch defender Ryan Donk equalized for the European-based Galatasaray in the 39th minute off a bullit header in the box from a corner.

With both teams trading chances, the tempers exploded in the 77th minute after Henry Onyekuru was taken down on the left side of the box. VAR confirmed that decision as well and former Atletico Madrid star Radamel Falcao powered the penalty in to give Galatasaray a huge lead.

Five minutes later, as Younes Belhanda was coming off the field as a substitution, a scuffle that he started with Deniz Turuc ended with both players getting sent off. Awkwardly, Ahmet Calik had come onto the pitch for Belhanda, but Belhanda’s actions just before he left the pitch meant that Calik wasn’t officially in the game yet and the substitution was cancelled. Calik eventually entered as a sub for Radamel Falcao, while both teams were reduced to ten players on the pitch.

In the 89th minute, Fernando Muslera dived to make an outstanding save on a powerful free kick from Mehmet Ekici, and eight minutes later deep into second half stoppage time, Muslera played provider. His long pass from inside the box found Onyekuru in space and the Nigerian dribbled forward, rounded Fenerbahce goalkeeper Altay Bayindir and scored before going into a slide celebration in the corner.

The game had a couple of Premier League connections. Former Fulham midfielder Jean-Michael Seri and Falcao, formerly of Manchester United, both started for Galatasaray. Goal-scorer Ryan Donk played a decade ago one season for West Bromwich Albion and Sofiane Feghouli played recently for West Ham. For Fenerbahce, Mauricio Isla also played one season for Queens Park Rangers.

Watch the highlights from this wild and crazy – and totally on-point – derby below.

Ziyech’s Chelsea contract details confirmed

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Chelsea has confirmed the contract details of talented midfielder Hakim Ziyech who will join this summer.

The London giants announced on Sunday that Ziyech has signed a five-year contract with Chelsea, beginning on July 1 this summer when his transfer from Ajax is completed.

On February 13, Chelsea and Ajax came to an agreement on a transfer fee for Ziyech, reported to be in the region of $43 million.

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“I am delighted and proud to have signed for such a huge club as Chelsea,” Ziyech said in a statement. “I am looking forward to next season and hope we can achieve great things together.”

Chelsea was intent on signing Ziyech ahead of the competition and made Ajax a deal they couldn’t refuse.

The left-footed playmaker has been a star for Ajax and in the UEFA Champions League for the last few seasons, helping lead Ajax to the Champions League semifinals last season. So far this season, he’s scored eight goals and recorded four assists between the Dutch Eredivisie and the Champions League.

Ziyech’s arrival this summer surely spells the end of time for Pedro and William as attacking midfielders at Chelsea. The Dutchman, who usually plays as a right winger, cutting inside with the left foot, could create a great combination with Christian Pulisic, Tammy Abraham, and Mason Mount moving forward. Chelsea could also certainly sign another one in that position, to keep a deep squad in case of injuries and/or fatigue.

Arteta vows to keep Aubameyang: “Our most important player”

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Arsenal completed a hectic week with a hectic win prodded by its two top performers of the season.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang scored twice and Bernd Leno made key late saves as the exhausted Gunners outlasted Everton 3-2 at the Emirates Stadium on Sunday.

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Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta was effusive in his praise, relatively speaking, for both players. He said that Leno “saved” Arsenal, and went long on Aubameyang when asked how important the player is to the club’s future.

“Incredible,” Arteta said. “The amount of work he’s doing. Before I had my questions, (but he’s) shown the commitment that he’s shown to his teammates and the club. I wasn’t sure if he wanted to do it, or do it physically. So it’s either you want to do it or don’t.

“He’s our most important player. Stats wise, there’s no question. As much as I can and the club can, we will try to convince him to stay with us.”

Arteta also appreciates the effort his men put in against an energetic Everton side three days after outlasting Olympiacos in Greece.

“Coming back from Europe, three games in seven days, conceding a goal in the first minute, the way we reacted, the way we played for 60-65 minutes was exactly what I wasn’t from my team,” Arteta preened. “The resilience some of the players showed when they were absolutely knackered and kept going and going. This was exactly what I wanted. … Everybody was looking at me, saying ‘I’m cramping. I’m doing this, doing that.’ We could only change two players. I tried to condense the midfield and have a little bit more energy.”

Leno was very happy with Arsenal’s effort.

The Gunners have been much better since Arteta implemented his system, even if their 270-minute shutout streak died in the first minute on Sunday.

“You could see that our power was at the end,” Leno said. “We were fighting. You can see how happy everyone was after this game because we deserve this and we have to keep going.”

Aubameyang praised his keeper.

“We are always happy to have him. He saved us a couple of times at the right moment. We’re proud of him and we know that we can count on him. He gives us more energy to push.”

The ninth-place Gunners are four points off fifth place and, of course, still alive for a Champions League berth through the Europa League.

Staying in the Champions League is probably their only path to keeping Aubameyang, and Arteta’s description of the Gabonese star doesn’t try to disguise the need to keep him in North London.