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Derby County confirm training ground spy a Leeds employee

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UPDATE (2:25 pm ET): Marcelo Bielsa publicly admitted to sending an employee to spy on Derby County training. He took full responsibility for his actions, saying nobody instructed him to do so.

Even more shockingly, Bielsa admitted to making use of training ground spies as far back as 17 years ago. “Without trying to find any form of justification, I have been using this practice since the [2002] World Cup qualifications with Argentina,” Bielsa told Sky Sports.

When asked if he is aware of any rules preventing this action, he said, “It doesn’t matter if it’s legal or illegal or right or wrong. For me it’s enough that Frank Lampard and Derby felt it was not the right thing to do.” Reports state Bielsa called Derby manager Frank Lampard to admit to the action before going public.

Bielsa coached Argentina from 1998-2004, and led the Chilean national team from 2007-2011. Since, he has taken charge of club teams Marseille, Lazio, Lille, and now Leeds, hired by the English club in June.

There are no particular rules against spying on opposing clubs, but the English FA could punish Bielsa for bringing the game into disrepute if it determines the offense is grounds for such a charge.

Lampard also told media Friday afternoon that the club noticed someone acting suspiciously around the training ground before they lost 4-1 to Leeds in August. “On a sportsman’s level, it’s bad in my opinion,” Lampard said. “If we’re going to start talking about ‘culturally I did it somewhere else so it’s fine,’ then that doesn’t work for me because I don’t believe it is fine on that level. It’s disrupted our buildup to this game.”


Derby County has released a statement confirming that a man caught reportedly spying on their training session was an employee of Championship rivals Leeds United, whom the Rams are set to play later today.

According to reports on Thursday evening and Friday morning, police were called when it was discovered a man was “acting suspiciously outside the premises” at the club training ground. Reports say the man was watching Frank Lampard’s training session with binoculars, and was also in possession of pliers and a change of clothes.

The Derby County club statement went one step further, confirming that the employee was a member of the Leeds United staff. Leeds sits atop the Championship table, and the two have a vitally important league match with Derby just eight points back in a hotly contested Championship promotion race.

While they did not confirm the identity of the man, Derbyshire police did address the incident on social media Thursday, saying, “Officers have just attended the Training Ground for @dcfcofficial After a suspicious male was seen at the perimeter fence. Excellent searching conducted & male was located. All checks above board!
Keeping the team safe to bring home a win against on 11th!”

Police say they did not make an arrest, and instead the man was simply “sent on his way.” In the club statement, Derby County confirmed they are “in discussion with Leeds United club officials in relation to this incident.”

Derby has done well under new manager Lampard this year, but they have just one win in their last five league matches and desperately need a high-profile result to avoid further trouble as they sit at the bottom of the playoff positions. Meanwhile, Marcelo Bielsa has Leeds atop the standings, just two points ahead of Norwich City.

Ronaldo pleads guilty to tax fraud at Madrid court

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MADRID (AP) Cristiano Ronaldo has pleaded guilty to tax fraud and received a two-year suspended sentence.

The Juventus forward, who was facing charges stemming from his days at Real Madrid, was in court for about 45 minutes and signed an agreement which will cost him nearly 19 million euros ($21.6 million) in fines.

[ MORE: Latest on Emiliano Sala ]

Ronaldo arrived at court in a black van and was wearing a black sports coat and black pants. He walked up some stairs leading to the court house and even stopped to sign an autograph.

Ronaldo made the deal to plead guilty with Spain’s state prosecutor and tax authorities last year.

In Spain, a judge can suspend sentences for two years or less for first-time offenders.

In 2017, a state prosecutor accused Ronaldo of four counts of tax fraud from 2011-14 worth 14.7 million euros ($16.7 million). Ronaldo was accused of having used shell companies outside Spain to hide income made from image rights.

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Transfer rumor roundup: Man Utd wants Bergwijn; Bournemouth after $16m CB

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Manchester United is hoping to beat a host of teams to $32 million PSV Eindhoven attacker Steven Bergwijn.

The 21-year-old has 10 goals and nine assists this season after breaking out with nine and 11 last season.

[ MORE: Latest on Emiliano Sala ]

Bergwijn plays across the top of attack as a center forward or wing. He has a goal or an assist in 13 of his last 14 Eredivisie matches.

Inter Milan, West Ham United, and Tottenham Hotspur are among the other clubs linked with Bergwijn.

Bournemouth have reportedly seen a near $16 million bid for Brentford defender Chris Mepham, a Welsh international viewed as a piece to help fill the void caused by Simon Francis‘ long-term injury.

Mepham, 21, was with Chelsea’s academy before moving to Brentford. Standing 6-foot-3, he has 48 appearances with a goal for the Bees.

Rafa Benitez and Newcastle continue to seek reinforcements in the market, with The Daily Mail reporting that the Magpies are nearing a breakthrough at left back in the form of Milad Mohammadi.

The 25-year-old Iranian plays for Russian side Akhmat Grozny, and is currently on international duty with Iran at the Asian Cup. He’s one of the mid-table side’s top performing players this season.

The Magpies have also joined West Ham in tracking Josh Maja, the Sunderland striker who is out-of-contract this summer. Maja, 20, has 15 goals in 24 League One matches this season.

Cardiff record signing Sala aboard missing flight

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Cardiff City record signing Emiliano Sala was on a flight that disappeared en route to Wales, Sky Sports is reporting.

The plane disappeared from radar Monday night, and authorities suspended the search because of treacherous conditions before resuming Tuesday morning with “five aircrafts and two lifeboats.”

Here’s Cardiff chairman Mehmet Dalman:

“We are very concerned by the latest news that a light aircraft lost contact over the Channel last night. We are awaiting confirmation before we can say anything further. We are very concerned for the safety of Emiliano Sala.”

Sala signed a three-and-a-half year deal with Cardiff just three days ago on what was announced a club record purchase from Nantes in Ligue 1.

The Argentine forward, 28, has scored 12 goals in each of his last three seasons at Nantes, the latest dozen coming in 16 matches before his sale to Cardiff.

Cardiff City canceled morning training, while Nantes has postponed its French Cup match. Chairman Waldermar Kita said that Sala is “loved by everyone.”

“He absolutely wanted to say goodbye to his friends, which is normal,” said Kita. “This is a nice boy, polite and loved by everyone, he is very respectful and courteous, I think of his family, and I hope he is somewhere. I am still hoping that it is not finished.”

Eibar defeats Espanyol 3-0 to end winless streak in La Liga

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MADRID (AP) Eibar routed Espanyol 3-0 to end a seven-match winless streak and move further away from the relegation zone in the Spanish league on Monday.

Sergi Enrich scored in the first half, and Pablo De Blasis and Charles added a goal each in the second to give the hosts their first win since November when they defeated Real Madrid 3-0 at home.

The victory moved Eibar from 16th to 11th in the league, five points clear from the relegation zone after 20 matches.

Espanyol, which has won only one of its last nine league matches, dropped to 13th ahead of its home game against third-place Real Madrid on Sunday.

Eibar visits Leganes on Saturday.

Barcelona has a five-point lead over second-placed Atletico Madrid.

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