Franck Ribery

Transfer Rumor Roundup: Watford looking to sign Senagal star Sarr

Leave a comment

Ismalia Sarr, one of the rising stars in Ligue 1 and on the international scene for Senegal, could be heading to the Premier League.

According to a report in the Daily Mail, Watford is closing in on a club-record $30 million transfer for Sarr, who is currently with Rennes in France. Sarr just finished helping lead Senegal to the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations final, and having played for Senegal at both the 2018 World Cup and most recent AFCON, he’s likely enough to qualify for a UK work permit.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

Sarr, a 21-year-old winger, can play on either the right or the left, and scored 13 goals last season from those wide positions.

Watford and the Pozzo family have a good history of scouting and signing talented young players. From former Udinese stars such as Alexis Sanchez and Mehdi Benatia (among many others) to Brazilian talent Joao Pedro, who is joining Watford in January, the Pozzo family have a good eye for talent. Sarr should make a good impact for Watford in its effort to rise into the top seven and earn a spot in European competitions in the future.

Here are more transfer stories from across Europe:


Brazilian giant Flamengo reached out to Ribery

For many clubs outside of western Europe, free agent Franck Ribery is a highly coveted prospect.

According to Brazilian TV company O Globo, Brazilian giant Flamengo, with Portuguese head coach Jorge Jesus, even inquired about potential signing the long-time France National Team and Bayern Munich winger to be the team’s new striker. Unfortunately for Flamengo, Ribery’s contract demands were much higher than they could meet, with Ribery reportedly admitting he received a proposal from Brazil but rejecting it.

With numerous European players heading to MLS and even Liga MX, it would have been interesting to see Ribery play a season or two in Brazil, even at age 36. Alas, it may not happen at this point.

Toronto FC negotiating with Guingamp for Benezet

Toronto FC may be making yet another big European signing in the coming weeks, as a Nicolas Benezet is reportedly close to coming to MLS.

The French midfielder scored three goals to go with an assist last season for Guingamp last season wearing the No. 10 shirt. According to L’Equipe, Benezet is in advanced negotiations with TFC.

Of course, TFC already has its full allotment of Designated Players, with Jozy Altidore, Michael Bradley and Alejandro Pozuelo already under contract. Perhaps Benezet will join as a TAM player, or one of the Designated Players will have their contract bought down with allocation money.

German Cup: Bayern Munich complete double by beating Leipzig

AP Photo/Matthias Schrader
Leave a comment

BERLIN (AP) Captain Manuel Neuer returned from six weeks out injured to help Bayern Munich complete a domestic double after beating Leipzig 3-0 in the German Cup final on Saturday.

[ MORE: Valencia end Barcelona’s four-year hold on Copa del Rey ]

Robert Lewandowski scored twice and Kingsley Coman grabbed the other as Bayern claimed a record-extending 19th cup win to make up for the disappointment of losing last year’s final to Eintracht Frankfurt.

Bayern coach Niko Kovac, who was in charge of Frankfurt at the time, boosted his chances of keeping his job in Munich after bringing a successful end to what had been a testing season.

Neuer, who missed Bayern’s Bundesliga triumph the week before due to a calf injury, produced two stunning saves in either half when a goal for Leipzig might have been decisive.

Neuer somehow denied Yussuf Poulsen’s header from close range in the 11th minute, when the ball crashed back off the crossbar, and got the better of Emil Forsberg in a one-on-one after the break, when the Swedish midfielder should have equalized.

“You couldn’t write a better script,” Neuer said.

Lewandowski opened the scoring with a header in the 29th, Coman doubled the lead in the 78th after Forsberg’s miss, and Lewandowski wrapped it up with a chip over the goalkeeper in the 85th.

[ U-20 WORLD CUP: Ezequiel Barco’s golazo paces Argentina to big win ]

Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery went on late to make their last appearances for Bayern after 10 and 12 seasons respectively. Ribery became the only player to play in eight German Cup finals.

“They delivered a lot for the team and the club,” Lewandowski said. “We have to be grateful.”

Leipzig was appearing in its first, and had been hoping to celebrate the 10th anniversary of its founding date with a win. Thousands of fans made the relatively short journey from Saxony to cheer their side, though they found themselves outnumbered by Bayern fans at Berlin’s Olympic Stadium, which hosts German soccer’s showpiece every year.

“It’s a huge disappointment,” Leipzig chairman Oliver Mintzlaff said. “When you come here, you want to win.”

The supporters had been warming up for hours before the encounter, downing beers and singing songs at various locations in the city before making their way to the game. Fans who arrived on chartered buses lit barbeques and shared crates of beer by the side of the road.

Leipzig coach Ralf Rangnick, the sporting director who took charge of the team on an interim basis before Julian Nagelsmann arrives from Hoffenheim, started with his strongest team, with American Tyler Adams lining up beside Kevin Kampl in midfield.

Leipzig looked sharper, fresher and quicker at the start, but one lapse was all Lewandowski needed to open the scoring. David Alaba whipped the ball in toward the penalty spot, where Lewandowski had too much space to head inside the left post.

Coman displayed a fantastic first touch to control the ball past the helpless Peter Gulacsi for Bayern’s second, and Lewandowski ensured the result was emphatic when he claimed his competition-leading seventh goal. Lewandowski was booked for removing his shirt in the celebrations, but he accepted the yellow card with a smile.

“We worked hard for the whole season. In the end you could say it was a good season for us,” the Polish striker said.

Bayern Munich stalwarts Ribery, Robben to leave this summer

Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images
Leave a comment

MUNICH (AP) Bayern Munich has confirmed that fan favorites Franck Ribery and Arjen Robben are to leave the club at the end of this season, with a testimonial game planned for both players in 2020.

[ MORE: Liverpool survive Newcastle scare to take PL title race to final day ]

Bayern chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge says, “Franck and Arjen are great players. Bayern owes a lot to both of them and will give them a wonderful and emotional farewell. They’ve helped shape Bayern’s most successful decade with fantastic football.”

The 35-year-old Robben had already announced at the end of 2018 that he would be leaving the club this summer, while Ribery, 36, had been hoping to extend his 12-year stay at the club.

Ribery tells the club website, “It won’t be easy to say goodbye, but we must never forget what we’ve achieved together.”

[ VIDEO: USMNT’s Christian Pulisic scores superb solo goal for Dortmund ]

Former France international Ribery scored in Bayern’s 3-1 win over Hannover on Saturday, when Robben also came on as a substitute to make his first appearance after five months out injured.

The Dutch winger said he had no plans to retire just yet: “I love football — I’d like to keep playing.”

Bayern suddenly walking wounded prior to Liverpool match

Getty Images
Leave a comment

With Liverpool set to host Bayern Munich on Tuesday in midweek Champions League action, the German giants are suddenly looking at a number of forced changes when they take on the Reds.

The latest injury came in the dying minutes of Bayern’s 3-2 win over Augsburg in Bundesliga play on Friday, as brace-man Kingsley Coman was forced off after Bayern had used all its substitutes. Coman had to be helped off the pitch, and the fear is that he could miss significant time.

The 22-year-old French international is electric when at full strength, but has been troubled by injuries during his time at Allianz Arena. He was plagued by knee problems in his first seasons there, and his left ankle is now the main culprit. Coman saw his season come to an early close right about this time a year ago thanks to ligament trouble in his left ankle, forcing him to miss the rest of the season and the first three months of this season before returning in early December. Now, it seems the troubles are cropping up again in the same spot.

Bayern boss Niko Kovac said after the match that, “It does not look good,” adding, “we’ll have to investigate it tomorrow to find out more.” Should Coman be forced out for any length of time, he would add to the growing list of important players missing for Bayern on Tuesday.

Thomas Muller is suspended after earning a straight red card for a high boot in the final group stage match against Ajax, a damaging loss that saw Muller handed a two-match suspension to keep him out of both legs against Liverpool. Arjen Robben is also out, having been out since early December – oddly enough the same match that saw Coman return – thanks to thigh trouble. While Robben is close to a comeback, he is not fit and has been ruled out of the first leg. Finally, midfielder Corentin Tolisso has been out with an ACL tear since the second league match of the season, and while that’s been in the cards for months, it bears repeating once the depth starts to wear away.

Manuel Neuer has also just returned from a thumb injury, and while he made it through the Augsburg match unscathed and will be ready to suit up against Liverpool, the whole of the Bayern defense looked shaky at times on the counter. Augsburg picked its spots perfectly, scoring 15 seconds into the match and then again before the half-hour mark. The hosts completed an outstanding nine of 10 individual take-ons in the match, finding openings on the break. The Bayern back line was solid in the air, which should give them something to savor from the league victory.

That win was the team’s ninth victory in its last 10 Bundesliga matches, a blistering run that followed a very poor first three months to the campaign.

Without Muller, Coman, and Robben on Tuesday, James Rodriguez and Franck Ribery could see time, as could former Arsenal winger Serge Gnabry who has been a contributing squad player of late while he navigates his own thigh and groin problems.

Bundesliga wrap: Schalke, Bayern, RBL hit break on high notes

Sebastian Gollnow/dpa via AP
Leave a comment

Bayern Munich is back into second place in the Bundesliga, six points back of Borussia Dortmund, and RB Leipzig is bidding to get back into the mix as both sides posted wins on Saturday.

[ RECAP: Cardiff 1-5 Man Utd ]

An American teen also scored in the RBL match, and that’s where we lead off our wrap.

RB Leipzig 3-2 Werder Bremen

Lukas Klostermann and Timo Werner gave the hosts a 2-0 lead after 45 minutes, but Max Kruse and American teenager Josh Sargent brought  Bremen back level (video) with 13 minutes to play in Leipzig. Yet RBL substitute Bruma entered the game and made a quick impact of his own to move his club within sight of third on the table.

Stuttgart 1-3 Schalke

Struggling Schalke head into the winter break on a high note after goals from Steven Skrzybski, Ahmed Kutucu, and Salif Sane scored to move the visitors four points clear of the relegation places. USMNT midfielder Weston McKennie entered the match in the 59th minute, and saw a yellow card as well as three of the match’s four goals.

Eintracht Frankfurt 0-3 Bayern Munich

Franck Ribery scored twice to give the 35-year-old goals in his last three Bundesliga games as Bayern moved back into second place on the table. Rafinha scored the other goal.

Elsewhere
Borussia Dortmund 2-1 Borussia Monchengladbach — Friday
Bayer Leverkusen 3-1 Hertha Berlin
Hannover 96 0-1 Fortuna Dusseldorf
Nurnberg 0-1 Freiburg
Augsburg v. Wolfsburg — 9:30 a.m. ET Sunday
Hoffenheim v. Mainz — Noon ET Sunday

Standings

Team GP W D L GF GA GD Home Away PTS
 Borussia Dortmund 17 13 3 1 44 18 26 8-1-0 5-2-1 42
 Bayern Munich 17 11 3 3 36 18 18 4-3-1 7-0-2 36
 Mönchengladbach 17 10 3 4 36 18 18 8-0-0 2-3-4 33
 RB Leipzig 17 9 4 4 31 17 14 7-2-0 2-2-4 31
 Eintracht Frankfurt 17 8 3 6 34 23 11 4-1-3 4-2-3 27
 VfL Wolfsburg 16 7 4 5 24 20 4 3-3-3 4-1-2 25
 1899 Hoffenheim 16 6 6 4 31 22 9 3-3-2 3-3-2 24
 Hertha BSC Berlin 17 6 6 5 26 27 -1 4-3-1 2-3-4 24
 Bayer Leverkusen 17 7 3 7 26 29 -3 4-1-3 3-2-4 24
 Werder Bremen 17 6 4 7 28 29 -1 3-3-3 3-1-4 22
 SC Freiburg 17 5 6 6 21 25 -4 3-4-2 2-2-4 21
 FSV Mainz 05 16 5 5 6 16 21 -5 3-4-2 2-1-4 20
 FC Schalke 04 17 5 3 9 20 24 -4 3-0-5 2-3-4 18
 Fortuna Düsseldorf 17 5 3 9 19 33 -14 4-0-5 1-3-4 18
 FC Augsburg 16 3 6 7 23 26 -3 1-4-2 2-2-5 15
 VfB Stuttgart 17 4 2 11 12 35 -23 3-1-4 1-1-7 14
 Hannover 96 17 2 5 10 17 35 -18 2-1-5 0-4-5 11
 1. FC Nürnberg 17 2 5 10 14 38 -24 2-3-4 0-2-6 11