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Who will win Mourinho v Pogba standoff?

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Many of the national outlets in the UK are suggesting that the standoff between Jose Mourinho and Paul Pogba is intensifying with neither willing to step down.

After Mourinho benched Pogba last month it is believed a rift has developed between the Manchester United manager and his star midfielder with the duo barely interacting and tension in the air on the training ground.

With Pogba, 25, struggling to find his early season form following two injuries and time on the sidelines, Mourinho seems to have made an example of the most-expensive signing in club history. Mourinho has been playing youngster Scott McTominay ahead of Pogba in central midfield and lavishing praise on the academy product whenever he can.

As for Pogba, not so much.

With reports suggesting that Mourinho is ready to offload the French international this summer to fuel a spending spree, is there any doubt as to who will win this battle?

Given he was just handed a new long-term contract at United, it will probably be Mourinho. Yet it will be far from easy for him to offload Pogba and this power struggle may well be the defining moment of Mourinho’s United tenure.

His aim is to keep rebuilding the squad to try and get over the disappointment of a UEFA Champions League exit in the Round of 16 and coming up way short of Manchester City in the title race this season. His talk of “heritage” at Manchester City and singling out several United players for their sloppy displays smacks of a massive rebuild coming up once again this summer.

Michael Carrick is retiring, Zlatan Ibrahimovic has already moved on to the LA Galaxy and the likes of Matteo Darmian, Ander Herrera, Luke Shaw and Daley Blind all seem to be on the way out, plus Chris Smalling, Anthony Martial and Juan Mata have been linked with moves away.

Alongside all of this talk about a monumental shift in playing personnel, there has been progress under Mourinho at United this season. Reaching the knockout stages of the UCL and likely to finish in second place in the table (after a sixth-place finish last season) says as much. Yet with the team struggling for form and Mourinho’s tactics of setting his team up not to lose in the big games it appears he now has to turn the tide of negative which is building against him.

Getting rid of Pogba — who is said to be interesting Real Madrid — would be a huge statement from Mourinho and also a huge one by executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward and the hierarchy of the club as to the level of their support of their manager over the players.

After arriving from Juventus in the summer of 2016 for $120 million amid much fanfare with his own emoji, flashy hairstyles, a commercial superpower and dubbed a match made in heaven for United, Pogba’s second spell at Old Trafford just isn’t working out. Mourinho has tried him in holding midfield, as a No. 10 and out wide in a three-man midfield but something isn’t clicking despite flashes of his brilliance, especially early in the season.

Mourinho and Pogba don’t appear to be a good fit either on or off the pitch and there is likely to be only one winner as their feud intensifies.

Unperturbed by being ousted twice at Chelsea due to losing power struggles with players, plus the same being said during his time at Real Madrid, Mourinho is steaming ahead and Pogba’s future at United beyond this season seems in serious doubt.

Less than two years into his much-lauded return to Old Trafford, Pogba’s clash with Mourinho appears to be the beginning of the end of his time at United.

Sports court overturns AC Milan’s ban from Europa League

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LAUSANNE, Switzerland (AP) — In a legal victory over UEFA, AC Milan is back in the Europa League after the Court of Arbitration for Sport overturned a ban imposed for overspending.

[ Transfer Rumor Roundup: Everton bid for Richarlison, latest on Mbappe ]

The court said Friday the punishment was “not proportionate” following a takeover completed last week, even though UEFA was right to judge Milan had broken financial monitoring rules.

The seven-time European champion had failed to approach breaking even on player transfers and wages over several seasons in which it failed to qualify for the top-tier Champions League.

UEFA was ordered to review the case and apply a “proportionate disciplinary measure,” the court said in an urgent ruling.

Milan’s reprieve was largely due to the takeover by a United States-based hedge fund which last year provided key finance to a Chinese-led purchase of the storied club.

In a statement Friday, European soccer body UEFA noted without comment that the case returns to the judging section of its club finance panel.

[ MORE: Conte to sue Chelsea over how firing was handled ]

The verdict was given Friday without detailed reasons from a three-judge panel, one day after a hearing at the highest court in world sports.

An urgent ruling was needed because the case affected Italy’s entry in the Europa League second qualifying round next week.

Milan’s legal win restores the club’s place in the group stage which kicks off in September. Atalanta, which placed seventh in Serie A, goes back into the qualifying rounds and plays Sarajevo in a first-leg game in Bosnia-Herzegovina on Thursday. Fiorentina, which placed eighth last season, is now withdrawn from the Europa League.

Milan broke UEFA’s financial fair rules which monitor finances over a three-year assessment period of all clubs qualifying to enter the Champions League or Europa League.

When it was banned last month, Milan said it failed to break even on soccer-related business in the period from July 2014 to June 2017 — before its spending spree one year ago.

[ MORE: Goalkeeper Alisson completes record transfer to Liverpool ]

Milan spent nearly $250 million on new players. This was despite questions over the financial stability of the Chinese-led consortium that purchased the club from former Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi for $800 million in April 2017.

The team finished sixth in Serie A, missed out on the four Italian places in the Champions League, and qualified for the Europa League.

However, the court said UEFA had not “properly assessed” some relevant points in Milan’s case, and the club’s finances improved after the takeover.

Elliott Management has promised to inject $66 million in capital.

Former owner Li Yonghong missed a deadline to repay part of a loan worth more than $350 million from the hedge fund. Elliott repossessed the holding company in Luxembourg that Li used to buy Milan.

Transfer Rumor Roundup: Everton make $65.6 million bid for Richarlison, Mbappe, and more

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For the second-consecutive season, Everton is set to bring in another big-money signing.

On the heels of last year’s nearly $60 million deal to sign Gylfi Sigurdsson, Everton looks set to sign Watford winger Richarlison for a $65.6 million transfer fee. Everton manager Marco Silva coached Richarlison when Silva was Watford manager and has been looking to reunite with the 21-year-old Brazilian.

[READ: Argentine World Cup drama]

Richarlison began his time at Watford in fine form, scoring give goals by the end of November and looking dangerous along the wings. But the goals dried up and defenders began to figure out how to mark him out of the game, neutralizing his danger.

At Everton, Richarlison is going to be expected to lift this side back into a strong position in the table, following a rough year for the club.

Here’s more transfer rumors from across the Premier League, Europe and North America:

(more…)

Roma’s American owner Palotta banned for three months by UEFA

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AS Roma owner James Pallotta has been punished by UEFA for calling the officiating “an absolute joke” after Roma were bounced by Liverpool in last year’s UEFA Champions League.

UEFA announced on Friday that Pallotta had been given a three-month ban for “improper conduct.” UEFA stated that Pallotta is banned “from carrying out his function during UEFA competition matches in which he would otherwise participate, starting from AS Roma’s first UEFA competition match of the 2018/2019 season. In particular, the official may not be in the technical area or communicate directly or indirectly with the team’s players and/or technical staff during the match and may not enter the dressing room or tunnel before or during the match.”

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Pallotta made headlines around the world for his reactions in Rome, including jumping into one of the city’s many famous fountains after Roma knocked out Barcelona in the Champions League quarterfinals.

However, against Liverpool, Roma’s dream run came to an end, with the Reds winning 7-6 on aggregate in a wild 180 minutes of action. Pallotta, speaking after Roma was knocked out, stated it was “an absolute joke” that UEFA didn’t have video assistant refereeing, which may have helped give Roma a penalty kick on two occasions.

While Pallotta may appeal, this suspension isn’t too serious. It appears that Pallotta can still sit in the owners box and attend UEFA matches, just not be in the technical area or in the tunnel before and during the game.

Messi, Mascherano confronted Argentine coaching staff at World Cup

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After two games at the 2018 World Cup, Argentina was in serious trouble.

With an aging team that lacked world class defenders, the Albiceleste managed just a draw with Iceland while eventual World Cup finalists Croatia reminded Argentina what it used to have in midfield with a dominating 3-0 win.

The defeat put Argentina in a precarious position, needing a win on the final group stage day and some luck to go through into the knockout stage past Nigeria and Iceland. Now, a new book by Argentine journalist Ariel Senosiain could shed some light on what happened between the match against Croatia and Nigeria.

According to Senosian’s digital book, called El Mundial es Historias, Lionel Messi and Javier Mascherano ordered a meeting with manager Jorge Sampaoli and his coaching staff, and it did not go down well.

“We don’t get what you say, we don’t trust you anymore and we want to have an opinion,” Messi and Mascherano are reported to have said to Sampaoli, which surprised the veteran manager. When Sampaoli asked the players what they wanted an opinion on, they responded, “everything.”

Messi was reportedly also upset with Sampaoli for the manager asking Messi who he thought should come on as a substitute during the match.

“You asked me 10 times which players you wanted me to see on and which ones I didn’t and I never gave you a name,” Messi reportedly said.

In the days following the defeat to Croatia, many reports emerged out of the Argentina camp that Messi had essentially organized a mutiny, and he was going to select the squad and tactical instructions. The team made the switch from a three-man backline to a more standard 4-4-2, and it delivered some better performances, even though Argentina’s defense was still shambolic, especially in the 4-3 defeat to France.

With 15 members of the 23-man roster over the age of 30 and no head coach, the Argentina National Team is set for a huge upheavel, and there’s not much in terms of youth players who could replace the likes of Mascherano, Banega, Otamendi and of course Messi and Sergio Aguero in the lineup.

These alleged quotes are just the beginning of what should be a messy year for Argentina, as it tries to get itself back on track, renewing its youth development and forming the next generation of Albiceleste stars.

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