Andy Edwards

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Benzema: ‘I’m F1’ quality compared to ‘go-kart’ Giroud

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It would appear that Karim Benzema lives for exactly two things in life: scoring goals and creating/participating in very public drama.

[ MORE: Monday’s transfer rumor roundup | Friday | Thursday ]

Benzema, who hasn’t feature for France’s national team since he was allegedly involved in a scandal to blackmail teammate Mathieu Valbuena with a sex tape in 2015, slammed compatriot forward Olivier Giroud as the “go-karting” alternative to his own “F1” quality.

His main gripe with Giroud doesn’t appear to actually be with the player himself, but the fact the two get compared to one another so frequently. In Benzema’s absence from Les Bleus, Giroud has been the main beneficiary, leading many to wonder if the team could have reached greater heights with Benzmea in the team instead — quotes from Sky Sports:

“You shouldn’t confuse F1 and go karting and that’s me being kind. On to the next topic. I’m not talking about him [Giroud] anymore. I just know that I’m F1.

“He has his career, he does what he wants and scores the goals that he wants to score. He’s in his corner and I’m in mine, I’m not thinking about him. If we’re talking about playing style, his suits France well.

“It’s good because there are fast players like (Kylian) Mbappe and (Antoine) Griezmann who play out wide or feed off the centre-forward. When Giroud is up front, he’s a handful for defenses, which gives the other two plenty of space to show what they can do.

“He occupies defenders and it works. It might not be brilliant to watch and you won’t say, ‘Wow, that was incredible.’ Does everyone like that style of play? I don’t know, but it suits France well.”

Giroud: 39 goals (third-highest) in 97 appearances for France. Benzema: 27 goals in 81 appearances.

Guardiola: ‘We will come back stronger, kinder, and a bit fatter’

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Through all of the innumerable challenges and tragedies the world is currently facing during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola is doing his best to not only help the fight back in his native Spain, but also give everyone a chance to smile and laugh at their own expense.

[ MORE: Monday’s transfer rumor roundup | Friday | Thursday ]

Guardiola, who last week donated $1.1 million to fight the virus in Catalonia, released a video message of encouragement and hope on Monday — encouraging everyone to stay inside, and hopeful of returning to a sense of normalcy in short order:

“We miss football. We miss the life that we had a few days ago but now is the time to listen, to follow our scientists, doctors and nurses.

“You are my football family and we are going to do everything possible to make you feel better. We’ll come back from this stronger, better, kinder … and a little bit fatter. Stay inside, stay safe.”

Germany’s UCL clubs pledge support for cash-strapped clubs

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DUSSELDORF, Germany — Four German soccer clubs have pledged a combined $21.9 million to support other teams struggling to stay afloat after games in the country were suspended because of the coronavirus outbreak.

[ MORE: Monday’s transfer rumor roundup | Friday | Thursday ]

Bayern Munich, Borussia Dortmund, Leipzig and Bayer Leverkusen will forgo $13.7 million in as-yet undistributed TV money and add another $8.2 million from their own funds. All four clubs played in the Champions League this season, giving them extra income.

The German Football League, which oversees the top two divisions, will decide how the money is distributed. The league has previously said it fears many clubs could face financial collapse if games can’t resume.

“In these difficult times, it’s important that the stronger shoulders support the weaker shoulders,” Bayern CEO Karl-Heinz Rummenigge said on Thursday.

It’s the latest in a string of gestures to help those in need in German soccer. Players at clubs including Bayern, Borussia Monchengladbach and second-tier Karlsruhe have agreed to voluntary pay cuts to help other staff.

[ MORE: Tottenham offer stadium to help with coronavirus effort ]

Dortmund CEO Hans-Joachim Watzke said clubs had a responsibility to keep other teams running in what could be a long period without income from ticket sales and sponsors.

“We have always said that we would show solidarity if clubs, through no fault of their own, should run into difficulties that they can no longer overcome themselves,” Watzke said in a statement.

“BVB is currently having a major impact on society through a wide range of initiatives. And naturally we are prepared to help out other professional football clubs if it is ultimately a matter of cushioning the financial effects of the pandemic.”

Transfer rumor roundup: Sancho to Man Utd; Madrid’s Haaland backup plan

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A roundup of all of Monday’s biggest transfer rumors, including those involving Premier League clubs…

[ MORE: Tottenham offer stadium to help with coronavirus effort ]

Jadon Sancho is a virtual lock to leave Borussia Dortmund and return to the PL this summer, and the 20-year-old winger will almost certainly command a transfer fee of more than $150 million just three years after signing from Manchester City for just $10 million. Today, it’s Manchester United who are rumored as frontrunners for Sancho’s services, based upon reports that Sancho has “unofficially confirmed” he will choose to join Man United when the transfer window opens.


Updating a transfer rumor from last week, Real Madrid are still very much in on another Dortmund starlet, Erling Haaland, but that doesn’t mean they’re putting all of their eggs in one basket. Los Blancos are reportedly eyeing Arsenal forward Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, a former Dortmund man himself, as a backup option should Haaland remain at Dortmund or land elsewhere this summer. Aubameyang, who’ll turn 31 this summer, isn’t likely to move for less than $60 million, which could prove a stumbling block.


If the rumors are to be believed, this summer will be a costly one for Man United, who are also interested in Atletico Madrid midfielder Saul Niguez. The price tag on the 25-year-old? Close to $170 million. It would seem unlikely that United could afford Niguez (at that price) without getting $100 million (at least) for Paul Pogba.


Another current Arsenal (and former Dortmund) player, midfielder Henrikh Mkhitaryan, hopes to turn his loan to Roma into a permanent move this summer. Arsenal are expected to ask $22 for the 31-year-old, but the Serie A side is hoping to pay closer to $12 million instead.

How will suspension of season change PL stars’ injury timetables?

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If the Premier League is able to resume and complete the 2019-20 season, a number of clubs will benefit from time off due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic with regards to players currently recovering from long-term injuries.

[ MORE: Friday’s transfer rumor roundup | Thursday | Wednesday ]

Players previously expected to miss the rest, or the majority, of the season will suddenly have a new lease on the current campaign with nine or 10 games left to play. Simply put, a few clubs in relegation battles and top-four top-five chases could see their fortunes completely changed. Clubs not discussed either had relatively clean bills of health, or were already expected to return key players in short order.

Tottenham Hotspur

No club will receive a bigger boost if/when the PL resumes. Harry Kane and Son Heung-min went down with potentially season-ending injuries four weeks apart at the start of 2020. With both of his goal-scoring stars unavailable, Jose Mourinho’s side took just one point from three games before the season was suspended. Both Kane and Son had an outside shot at returning for the final game or two of the season, according to Mourinho, which would have them returning in early May. Now, an early May return could see them play all nine games with Tottenham currently four points back of fifth-place Manchester United. The same goes for January signing Steven Bergwijn, who is recovering from a “significant” ankle sprain and was previously in danger of missing the rest of the season. Moussa Sissoko will also return if/when play resumes; he was previously slated to miss an additional two or three weeks while recovering from a knee injury.

Arsenal

Lucas Torreira suffered a fractured ankle on March 2 and was subsequently expected to miss the remainder of the season, but the Gunners’ most influential and consistent midfield performer will have every chance to return for a handful of games if/when the season resumes. Sead Kolasinac was previously meant to return to training in early April after a “significant” shoulder injury in late February; he would have then been available for the final four or five games, but will now almost certainly be available at season’s restart. Cedric Soares, who arrived from Southampton with a pre-existing knee injury in January, will also see additional availability this season. Arsenal currently sit five points back of fifth place, with a game in hand.

Manchester City

With Liverpool having essentially wrapped the title up, Man City stand to benefit more in their quest to win the Champions League where they lead Real Madrid 2-1 ahead of the second leg at the Etihad Stadium. Aymeric Laporte wasn’t previously expected back until after the March international break, which was scheduled to occur two weeks after the second leg. Leroy Sane is also very close to making his return and season debut after tearing his ACL in the Community Shield.

Manchester United

Marcus Rashford (back) – late April; Paul Pogba (ankle) – early April;

Newcastle United

Martin Dubravka (knee) – potentially out remainder of season; Paul Dummett (hamstring) – potentially out remainder of season; Ciaran Clark (ankle) – potentially out remainder of season; Andy Carroll (groin) – early May; Jetro Willems (knee) – previously out remainder of season

Aston Villa

Wesley (knee) – previously out remainder of season; Tom Heaton (knee) – previously out remainder of season; John McGinn (ankle) – on the verge of returning after four months out.