Chelsea sign Pulisic

Christian Pulisic is joining Chelsea in a £58 million (€64m/$73m) deal that will see him loaned back to Dortmund for the remainder of the 2018-19 season.
The USA international has impressed since making the breakthrough for the Bundesliga side during the 2015-16 campaign and has since made 115 appearances for the first team, scoring 15 goals and creating another 24.
He has, however, struggled to hold down a regular starting place in Lucien Favre’s side that have charged to the top of the league standings this season, opening a six-point gap
Indeed, the 20-year-old has featured only four times from the beginning of matches in the league

With the player unable to agree new terms with the club on a deal that would have expired in 2020, BVB were content to allow him to leave.
“It was always Christian’s dream to play in the Premier League . That certainly has to do with his American background, and as a result we were unable to extend his contract,” BVB sporting director
“Against this background, we have decided to accept an extremely lucrative bid by Chelsea, given the low contract maturity.”
Zorc holds no fears that the youngster will allow his level to drop in the coming months, despite his big move being secured.
“He’s a player of perfect character,” he added. “I am sure that in the coming months he will do everything in his power to bring his high quality to the team and to achieve his sporting goals with his Borussia Dortmund team-mates.”
Commenting on the move, Chelsea director Marina Granovskaia told the Blues’ official club website: “We are delighted to have signed one of Europe’s most sought-after young players.
“Christian has shown his quality during a fantastic spell in Germany and at just 20, we believe he has the potential to become an important Chelsea player for many years to come.
“We look forward to welcoming him to Stamford Bridge in the summer and wish him and Dortmund every success for the remainder of the season.”
As revealed by Goal, Pulisic is a player the blues have been chasing for a while now, amid concerns over the future of star man Eden Hazard, who continues to be linked with Real Madrid.
The club is willing to tie the Belgian down with a contract making him the highest paid player in the clubs history although he is yet to sign on the dotted line and has consistently stated his dream of featuring for the Liga giants.
Maurizio Sarri’s side were also monitoring the progress of Lyon’s Nabil Fekir and Barcelona’s Ousmane Dembele as a potential replacement for the Belgium star.
Paris Saint-Germain and Liverpool were two of the other clubs looking at Pulisic, but the Reds dropped their interest at the end of November.

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Liverpool thrash Arsenal to extend lead on the table

Liverpool roared back from a rare Anfield deficit to move nine points clear at the top of the Premier League as Roberto Firmino’s hat-trick inspired a 5-1 thrashing of Arsenal on Saturday.
Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane were also on target as Liverpool’s front three all scored in the same league game for the first time this season.
Liverpool had trailed at home in the league for the first time in a day short of a year when Ainsley Maitland-Niles turned home Alex Iwobi’s excellent cross 11 minutes in.
However, the lead lasted just three minutes as Firmino profited from some calamitous Arsenal defending to level and then left Shkodran Mustafi and Sokratis Papastathopoulos on the floor to score his second goal in three minutes.
Mane and Salah’s penalty had the game wrapped up by half-time and Firmino completed his hat-trick from the spot as Jurgen Klopp’s men extended their unbeaten league start to 20 games and took another significant step towards a first league title since 1989/1990.
Win again in their next outing at Manchester City on Thursday and only a Liverpool collapse in the final months of the season can prevent an end to nearly three decades of hurt.
Champions City now trail the pacesetters by 10 points and even if they reduce that lead to seven with victory at Southampton on Sunday, they need to end Liverpool’s invincible season so far to get back in the title race at the Etihad.
Tottenham’s title ambitions suffered a huge blow as Wolves scored three times in the final 18 minutes to win 3-1 at Wembley earlier on Saturday to further embolden Anfield with belief before kick-off.
That confidence could have been shaken when after a bright Liverpool start, it was Arsenal who led when Iwobi’s teasing cross perfectly dissected Alisson Becker and Virgil van Dijk, to leave Maitland-Niles with an open goal.
The signings of Alisson and Van Dijk have been credited for Liverpool’s rock-solid defensive record with that goal just the eighth they have conceded all season in the league.
But that solidity is now being married with a return to the sort of form Salah, Firmino and Mane showed last season in smashing a combined 91 goals last season.
Firmino didn’t even have to look at the ball when he slotted the equaliser into an empty net after Sokratis’s attempted clearance rebounded off Mustafi into his path to quickly level.
However, the Brazilian did all the hard work himself two minutes later by jinking through Arsenal’s hapless central defensive pairing before drilling low past Bernd Leno.
Mane made it 3-1 on 32 minutes when Salah cushioned a cross perfectly into the Senegalese’s path to side-foot high into the net.
Arsenal were handed a let-off moments later by referee Michael Oliver when Granit Xhaka was only given a final warning rather than a second booking in a matter of seconds for kicking the ball away in frustration.
But Oliver gave Liverpool the chance to extend their lead just before half-time when Salah tumbled under pressure from Sokratis in the box.
Leno got a touch to the Egyptian’s spot-kick but couldn’t stop Salah moving level with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Harry Kane as the Premier League’s top scorer on 13.
Liverpool could easily have had more after the break as only a poor touch from Salah allowed Leno to smother and the German ‘keeper also denied Fabinho, while at the other end Aubameyang’s blushes were saved by the offside flag when he fired over with an open goal gaping.
Salah gave up the chance to move clear in the race for the golden boot when Sead Kolasinac pushed Dejan Lovren 25 minutes from time and Firmino gratefully fired home the penalty to round off a five-star performance.

Liverpool go into the new year at the top of the table could this be the turn around year for the Merseyside team

Mbappe named best French player of the year

Kylian Mbappe has been crowned French player of the year for 2018 by France Football ahead of Raphael Varane and Antoine Griezmann.

Mbappe, 20, was recognised by France Football, who also award the Ballon d’Or, after a successful 12 months with club and country, winning a domestic treble with Paris Saint-Germain and the World Cup with France.

The forward has also excelled individually in 2018, scoring 30 goals for club and country, as he won the inaugural Kopa Trophy – awarded to the best U21 player in world football – and ranking fourth in the Ballon d’Or list.
Mbappe also played a pivotal role in France’s World Cup-winning campaign in Russia, scoring four times, including a goal in the 4-2 final win over Croatia.

Varane (Real Madrid) and Griezmann (Atletico Madrid) were close behind in the vote, which was carried out by journalists and former winners, after a successful season in Europe with their clubs.

Chelsea midfielder N’Golo Kante is now forced to relinquish his title after being awarded the prize for 2017.

Henrikh Mkhitaryan To miss out on January action

The Armenian was taken off at half-time of the Carabao Cup clash with Tottenham after suffering the injury during the first half
Arsenal have been rocked by the news that Henrikh Mkhitaryan will be out of action until February due to a broken metatarsal.

The Armenia international, 29, suffered the injury in the first half of Wednesday night’s Carabao Cup loss to Tottenham Hotspur.

Mkhitaryan suffered the fractured foot when attempting a shot from the edge of the penalty area, only for Lucas Moura to make a last-ditch challenge.

The Brazilian won the ball, but also crashed into Mkhitaryan, who remained on the deck in agony.

He was substituted at the break and subsequently missed the 3-1 win over Burnley in the Premier League on Saturday.

Mkhitaryan suffered the injury in the loss to Spurs

Arsenal confirmed on Monday that, after weekend tests and a scan, Mkhitaryan has indeed suffered a broken foot and is expected to be out for at least six weeks.

That means he will miss the rest of the festive fixtures as well as the club’s entire January programme.

Mkhitaryan has been a regular under Unai Emery and has contributed four Premier League goals this season.

He will now miss matches against Liverpool, Chelsea and Manchester City.

He joined the Gunners as part of the Alexis Sanchez swap deal that took the Chilean to Manchester United.

Mkhitaryan’s injury is another blow to Gunners boss Emery, who already has a long list of players sidelined.

However, Rob Holding and Danny Welbeck remain the club’s only long-term absentees; neither is expected to play again this season.

 

Manchester United appoint Solskjaer as manager until end of the season

The Norwegian coach has been installed as the club’s new temporary boss following Jose Mourinho’s sacking
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has been appointed as Manchester United’s interim manager for the rest of the season.
The former Red Devils striker, who played at Old Trafford for over a decade between 1996 and 2007, takes over on a temporary basis in the wake of Jose Mourinho’s exit on Tuesday.
A United statement read: “Manchester United announced today that former striker Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has been appointed as caretaker manager until the end of the 2018-19 season.
“Solskjaer will take charge of the first team with immediate effect and will remain in place while the club conducts a thorough recruitment process for a new full-time manager.”
He arrives from Norwegian side Molde, having returned to the club for a second stint back in 2015. Mike Phelan has also returned to United in the role of first-team coach and will work alongside the club’s former midfielder Michael Carrick and Kieran McKenna.
Solskjaer, whose appointment had been accidentally revealed late on Tuesday, told United’s official website : “Manchester United is in my heart and it’s brilliant to be coming back in this role. I’m really looking forward to working with the very talented squad we have, the staff and everyone at the club.”
United’s executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward added: “Ole is a club legend with huge experience, both on the pitch and in coaching roles. His history at Manchester United means he lives and breathes the culture here and everyone at the club is delighted to have him and Mike Phelan back. We are confident they will unite the players and the fans as we head into the second half of the season.”
A forward perhaps best known as a “super sub” for United, Solskjaer famously came off the bench against Bayern Munich in the 1999 Champions League final to score an injury-time winner and hand Sir Alex Ferguson’s side their first European honour for over 30 years.
He also picked up six Premier League titles and two FA Cups, among other honours, during his time as a player at the club.
At international level, he won 67 caps for Norway and was a member of their 1998 World Cup and 2000 European Championship squads, reaching the last 16 in the former.
Following his retirement, Solskjaer transitioned from the United playing squad to the managerial set-up, where he took charge of the reserves at Carrington under Ferguson between 2008 and 2011.
He left the club to take the reins at Molde, where he had played before switching to United, and won the Tippeligaen league title in his first season in charge, in 2011.
He was coaxed back to the United Kingdom in early 2014 to replace Malky Mackay as manager of relegation-threatened Cardiff City but was unable to prevent the club from making the drop back into the Championship.
A subsequent dismissal followed after a run of poor results to open the 2014-15 campaign and Solskjaer was reappointed Molde boss the following October on a three-and-a-half year deal.

Man Utd sack Mourinho after poor start to the season

The Red Devils have won just two of their last eight matches in all competitions and sit 11 points off fourth place in the Premier League

Jose Mourinho has been sacked by Manchester United following their disappointing start to the season.

The Red Devils currently sit sixth in the Premier League table but have already lost five times in 17 matches, leaving them 19 points behind leaders Liverpool and 11 off fourth-placed Chelsea in the fight for Champions League places.

That follows a summer transfer window in which Mourinho routinely complained about a lack of signings, with the Portuguese unable to persuade the club’s hierarchy to sign a new centre-back.

Mourinho has continued to drop hints that he remains unhappy at that failure to spend big, and he now leaves after two-and-a-half years at the Old Trafford helm, with his final match in charge Sunday’s 3-1 defeat to arch-rivals Liverpool.

“Manchester United announces that manager Jose Mourinho has left the club with immediate effect,” a statement read.

“The club would like to thank Jose for his work during his time at Manchester United and to wish him success in the future.

“A new caretaker manager will be appointed until the end of the current season, while the club conducts a thorough recruitment process for a new, full-time manager.”

Mourinho replaced Louis van Gaal in the United hotseat in the summer of 2016 and was tasked with leading the 20-time English champions back to the top of the domestic game after a barren three years since Sir Alex Ferguson’s appointment.

He started well, winning the Community Shield in his first match in charge before claiming the League Cup thanks to a Zlatan Ibrahimovic-inspired 3-2 win over Southampton.

Form in the league was not as strong, however, with the Red Devils only able to finish in sixth place, though their season did end on a high as a 2-0 win over Ajax in the final of the Europa League saw them qualify for the 2017-18 Champions League.

Mourinho’s second season in charge saw United finish a distant second in the Premier League to Pep Guardiola’s record-breaking Manchester City, and while they crashed out of the Champions League to Sevilla in the last 16 and lost the FA Cup final to Chelsea, there was hope the former Real Madrid boss would be able to kick on again having signed a new improved contract in the early weeks of 2018.

That has not come to pass, however, with United currently on a run of just two wins from eight matches in all competitions.

Further to displays on the pitch, reports of dressing room unrest have overshadowed Man Utd’s performances over the course of the season, with Mourinho’s relationship with club-record signing Paul Pogba a constant talking point.

World Cup winner Pogba has struggled for consistency under Mourinho, and this season things seem to have taken a turn for the worse, with the former Juventus man unable to hold down a regular berth in the ex-Chelsea boss’ preferred 11.

The nadir came at Anfield on Sunday, with Mourinho deciding against bringing Pogba off the bench despite his side needing to find a goal to get back into the game following Xherdan Shaqiri’s own match-winning performance as a substitute for Jurgen Klopp’s side.

Whomever takes temporary charge until the end of the season will now be tasked with pushing United back into the race to finish in the top four while also plotting a path towards silverware in both the Champions League – where they play Paris Saint-Germain in the last 16 – and the FA Cup, with Reading their third-round opponents.

Reports suggest assistant coach Michael Carrick is not in the frame to take on that role, with the interim manager’s first game on Saturday away at Cardiff City, and an external candidate expected to be appointed within 48 hours.

Zinedine Zidane and Mauricio Pochettino, meanwhile, are among the favourites to take the role full-time come the summer.

Luck not on Juventus’ side with Champions League draw, says Nedved

The Italian side were paired with Diego Simeone’s Atletico Madrid in the last 16 of the competition, much to the dismay of the vice-chairman Pavel Nedved lamented Juventus’ misfortune after the Bianconeri were paired with Atletico Madrid in the last 16 of the Champions League on Monday.

Juve continue to blaze a trail domestically- they have won the last seven scudetti and already established an eight-point lead at the summit this season after 16 games- but have not been crowned European champions since 1996.

They recruited Cristiano Ronaldo from Real Madrid to bolster an already imposing squad but Nedved was relatively downbeat when asked to assess the clash with the defending Europa League champions.

Nedved said:‘we didn’t have much luck. Atletico are a difficult side to face, they are more of an Italian-style team than European. They have a strong defense that plays well together, and they know how to play into the forwards with Griezmann and others.

‘I foresee two very even matches, with few goals. We have been drawn the strongest possible opponent, but there is no problem. Cristiano Ronaldo may be the man of the Champions League but the is strong and we can be confident in our ability to qualify for the quarter-finals’

Juve midfielder Sami Khedira, another former Real Madrid man, has also predicted a difficult game against Diego Simeone’s side.