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Guardiola prefers Premier League title over Champions League glory

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Pep Guardiola wants you to know one thing: he isn’t bothered about winning the UEFA Champions League at Manchester City.

Guardiola won the trophy twice in his first four years as a manager at Barcelona, but hasn’t won it since 2011 as he failed to win the Champions League in his time at Bayern Munich.

Many believed the main reason Guardiola was hired by City was so that they could dominate Europe and win the Champions League, but Pep, on the eve of their UCL quarterfinal second leg against Tottenham (City trail 1-0 from the first leg at Spurs), insisted that is not the case.

“I know people say I came here to win the Champions League, but I didn’t come here to win the Champions League, honestly,” Guardiola said. “I came here to play the way my team has been playing in the last 20 months. That is why I came here – to play the way I want to play and of course I want to win the Champions League.

“A lot of big clubs are not here now in these stages, so what is important is how you handle things for 11 months. That is why I have said many times the Premier League, for me, is the most important title, showing every three days that you are there. Being there every time sends out a good message. What we need to do tomorrow is put our hurt on the pitch, our desire and after we will see.”

Guardiola sarcastically called his time at Bayern Munich “a big failure” for not winning the Champions League, but if he doesn’t lead City to European glory, will his time at the Etihad Stadium be similarly ridiculed?

Nope. He has already led City to a record-breaking PL title win during the 2017-18 campaign and the way his team have dominated the league, after the struggles of his first season in charge, shows have he has proven everybody wrong. There is the argument though that after winning the PL last season, the UCL should be City’s priority this season.

City are the bookies favorites to win the Champions League as they aim to win a historic quadruple this season, but Pep is staying focused on beating Liverpool to the PL title and then letting things shake out in the cup competitions. Could that see players rested for the league game against Spurs on Saturday rather than playing on Wednesday? Let’s wait and see, but it seems like Guardiola is suggesting that and it was certainly the case in the first leg as Kevin De Bruyne started on the bench.

But ahead of the huge UCL last eight second leg against Spurs on Wednesday, Guardiola has called for City’s fans to rise to the occasion as the away atmospheres in knockout games have been “incredible” over the years.

“We need it. We really need it. I want to see if they (the supporters) want to get to the semi-final, not just the players,” Guardiola said. “The players I don’t doubt after 20 months. I want to see if our fans really want to get to the semi-finals. I want to see tomorrow.”

Premier League reveal 2018-19 payments to each club

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The Premier League has revealed how much each of its 20 clubs were paid for the 2018-19 season.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights

Premier League winners Manchester City received a total of $190 million, but it was runners up Liverpool who actually earned the most with $192.9 million. How is that possible?

Here’s an explainer on how the PL dishes out its payments to clubs.

  • UK broadcast revenues: 50 per cent equally shared; 25 per cent shared based on how often a club’s matches are broadcast in the UK (known as “Facility Fees”); and 25 per cent shared based on where a club finish in the league table (known as “Merit Payments”)
  • Central Commercial revenues: Equally shared by clubs
  • International broadcasting revenues: Equally shared by clubs

Merit payments were worth around $2.4 million for each position you finished higher in the table, so a late season surge earned a club like Everton around $10 million. Not too shabby.

Even the club which finished bottom of the table, Huddersfield Town, were paid $122.3 million for being in the PL.

Below is the list in full, as the likes of Newcastle and West Ham did pretty well regardless of where they finished in the table due to having extra TV games.


Montero on target as Whitecaps grab point at Red Bulls

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HARRISON, N.J. (AP) Fredy Montero tied it for Vancouver with a penalty kick in the 61st minute and the Whitecaps held on for a 2-2 draw with the New York Red Bulls on Wednesday night.

Referee Victor Rivas awarded the Whitecaps (3-6-5) the kick after using video review to determine Sean Nealis handled the ball inside the penalty area.

Vancouver took a 1-0 lead in the 29th minute when Scott Sutter finished a counterattack with a narrow-angle finish into the upper corner.

Brian White pulled the Red Bulls (5-5-3) level in the 37th minute with a header flick of Amro Tarek’s header.

White’s pass across the 6-yard box was redirected by Vancouver’s Andy Rose into the Whitecaps own goal to give the Red Bulls a 2-1 lead in the 55th minute.

New York goalkeeper Luis Robles preserved the draw making a diving save on a breakaway attempt by Lucas Venuto in the final minute of stoppage time.

Transfer rumor roundup: Donnarumma to Man United; Clarke to Spurs

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The Premier League transfer window is officially open again and that means one thing: transfer reports are going to start kicking up a few notches.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

Here’s a look at some of the latest gossip from around the PL…


It appears replacing David De Gea is one of Manchester United’s main aims this summer, as the Spanish goalkeeper has just one year left on his contract and Real Madrid are lurking after Thibaut Courtois struggled in his debut season at the Santiago Bernabeu and Keylor Navas is leaving.

United have already been linked with a move for Barcelona’s Dutch goalkeeper Jasper Cillessen, but a new report from Calcio Mercato says that Gianluigi Donnarumma is their new target to replace DDG. Per the report, if AC Milan do not reach the Champions League this Sunday via a top four finish in the league — third place to six in Serie A is separated by just three points with AC currently in fifth — he could leave as his yearly wage of $6.5 million would be tough for AC Milan to pay.

Even with United not in the Champions League next season, they could pay those wages and the transfer fee of around $80 million would be worth it for a player with his potential.

Donnarumma, 20, has been a starter for AC Milan for four seasons and will take over from Gianluigi Buffon in goal for the Italian national team. His agent is, you guessed it, Mino Raiola, who has several clients at United with Paul Pogba and Romelu Lukaku the biggest names and Henrikh Mkhitaryan previously at Old Trafford.

De Gea, 28, put in a string of poor performances at the end of last season and many are suggesting that was due to uncertainty over his long-term future. The report says that De Gea has turned down United’s final contract offer as he wants to be paid the same amount as top earner Alexis Sanchez, but despite being named United’s player of the year in four of the past five seasons the Red Devils aren’t willing to pay him over $565,000 per week.

Similar to when DDG arrived at United, Donnarumma is young and may take some time to get used to the Premier League. But after those early hiccups we all know how good De Gea has become, and Donnarumma has the added bonus that his frame is much stronger than De Gea’s was at his age.


Tottenham Hotspur is looking to sign another young English star from the lower leagues, as Leeds United winger Jack Clarke is reportedly in their sights.

The Daily Mail says that Spurs will bid around $13.5 million for teenager Clarke.

Clarke, 18, starred for Leeds United in the Championship during the 2018-19 campaign which saw them lose in the playoff semifinals against Derby County as their dream of getting back to the Premier League was dashed for another year.

His boss at Leeds, Marcelo Bielsa, is close friends with Spurs boss Mauricio Pochettino and it is likely Tottenham know all about Clarke. The Englishman scored twice and added two assists this season, as he sprung onto the scene in the second half of the campaign. After a brief health scare after coming off during a game at Middlesbrough, Clarke has emerged as a top target for several PL clubs due to his pace, size and ability to play on either wing.

Off the back of signing Dele Alli as a teenager from third-tier MK Dons and nurturing him into one of the best attacking midfielders in the world, signing Clarke would be yet another smart move by Spurs and Pochettino. They are not a club who can spend huge transfer fees or pay big wages, but bringing in the best young talent to improve continues to work out really well for them.

PSG president targeted by French corruption probe

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PARIS (AP) Paris Saint-Germain president Nasser Al-Khelaifi has been placed under investigation for corruption as part of an inquiry into the bidding process for the 2017 and 2019 track world championships, a judicial official said Thursday.

The official told The Associated Press the preliminary charge of “active corruption” was filed against the beIN media group chairman in mid-May in a case focusing on the payment of $3.5 million to an IAAF official. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because the person wasn’t authorized to discuss the investigation publicly.

The official said Al-Khelaifi is suspected of corruption “in regards with Qatar’s track and field worlds.” Al-Khelaifi is from Qatar.

Al-Khelaifi’s lawyer was not immediately available for comment and beIN media group declined to comment on the case because it said it “doesn’t relate in any way to the company.”

The chief executive officer of beIN, Yousef Al-Obaidly, was also handed preliminary charges of corruption, while former IAAF president Lamine Diack is suspected of “passive corruption” in the same case.

According to Al-Obaidly’s lawyer, investigative magistrate Renaud Van Ruymbeke based his suspicion on documents showing that a former IAAF official received two payments totaling about $3.5 million from Qatari investors before the vote for the 2017 track world championships. Qatar eventually lost to London but was later awarded the 2019 worlds. The championships will be held in Doha from Sept. 27-Oct. 6.

The two payments from Oryx Qatar Sports Investments, an investment fund linked to the Qatari government, were made to Pamodzi Sports Marketing in October and November 2011, days before the vote.

Al-Obaidly’s representatives say the payments made by Oryx to the IAAF’s appointed agent were transparent and part of the normal bidding process. Set up to handle the sponsorship and rights for Qatar’s bid, Oryx accepted to pay $32.5 million for the event’s commercial rights, including the $3.5 million paid to Pamodzi as a non-refundable deposit. The full amount would have been paid only if Qatar’s bid had been successful.

According to the online news site Mediapart, Oryx is owned by Al-Khelaifi and his brother Khalid. Mediapart said Al-Khelaifi was questioned by the judge in March and denied any knowledge of the payments at the time.

Pamodzi was founded by one of Diack’s sons, Papa Massata Diack. A former marketing consultant at the IAAF, he has been banned for allegations of extorting hundreds of thousands of dollars from a Russian marathon runner to avoid a doping ban before the 2012 Olympics. France has issued a wanted notice for him via Interpol.

In another case, Brazilian and French authorities are trying to find out whether Lamine Diack and his son played a role in arranging alleged bribes to help Rio de Janeiro earn the hosting rights for the 2016 Olympics. Diack, who ran the IAAF from 1999-2015, has also been accused of covering up failed Russian doping tests in exchange for money.

Al-Khelaifi is a member of the UEFA executive committee, representing European clubs, and is due to take part in the body’s meeting on Wednesday in Baku, Azerbaijan.

Al-Khelaifi was selected as a club delegate, and confirmed by UEFA member federations in February, despite being the subject of a criminal proceeding for bribery in Switzerland since 2017. The Qatari television executive is suspected of bribing FIFA’s then-secretary general with use of a luxury villa in Italy to help secure 2026 and 2030 World Cup broadcasting rights in the Middle East for Doha-based beIN Sports.

PSG is also under investigation by UEFA for possibly breaking financial rules.

AP Sports Writer Graham Dunbar in Geneva contributed to this report.

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