‘Mkhitaryan rejects Dortmund contract extension’

Borussia Dortmund could be set to lose another star for next season amidst reports Chelsea and Arsenal target Henrikh Mkhitaryan has turned down a contract extension with the German giants.

“Why should we extend now? Micki (Mkhitaryan) still has a contract until 2017 and we’ll continue thinking about his future after that,” Mkhitaryan’s agent Mino Raiola told German daily Bild.

With Dortmund’s captain Mats Hummels having already signed for rivals Bayern Munich next season, Dortmund have been trying to tie down top midfielders Mkhitaryan and Ilkay Gundogan, who is tipped to join Manchester City, on long-term deals.

Dortmund CEO Hans-Joachim Watzke refused to comment on the situation with Mkhitaryan.

The Armenian international has had a stellar season at Dortmund, scoring 23 goals and creating another 32 in all competitions, as Borussia finished second only to Bayern in Germany’s top flight. Naijabet.com

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Navas ruled out of Copa America

Costa Rica goalkeeper Keylor Navas will miss the Copa America Centenario because of chronic tendinitis in his left foot, his country’s football federation (Fedefutbol) said on Tuesday.

Navas, who played for Real Madrid when they beat Atletico Madrid in the Champions League final on Saturday, has been trying to shake off the injury for around a year, Fedefutbol said in a statement. Naijabet

He also missed last year’s Concacaf Gold Cup, although he played regularly for Real Madrid this season.

“It is the same injury that Navas has been coping with for the last year and which has not responded to a number of treatments that he has undergone,” the statement said.

“Real Madrid will determine the treatment for this case so it can be solved definitively.

“Doctors consider that if it is not treated promptly, the player could suffer a complication in his Achilles tendon.”

Navas joined Real Madrid two years ago after his outstanding performances helped Costa Rica reach the 2014 World Cup quarterfinals, beating Uruguay and Italy on the way.

Costa Rica face a tough first-round group against the United States, Colombia and Paraguay.

Messi absent as his tax fraud trial opens

The trial of Argentina star Lionel Messi on tax fraud charges opened Tuesday in Spain in his absence just days before Argentina’s first match in the Copa America against Chile.

Messi, 28, and his father, Jorge Horacio Messi, are accused of using a chain of fake companies in Belize and Uruguay to avoid paying taxes on 4.16 million euros ($4.7 million) of Messi’s income earned through the sale of his image rights from 2007-09.

They have been charged with three counts of tax fraud.

The Barcelona court hearing the case adjourned the trial at around noon local time (1000 GMT) after considering preliminary legal questions because of the absence of witnesses who had been due to appear, including Messi’s mother Celia Cuccitini. Naijabet

The trial will resume on Wednesday at 10am (0800 GMT) with testimony from the witnesses and experts.

Messi had planned to be in Barcelona for the start of the trial but a lower back injury he suffered during a friendly against Honduras last week prevented him from doing so, defence lawyer Javier Sanchez-Vera said.

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Perez hails Zidane influence on Real Madrid

Real Madrid president Florentino Perez has praised Zinedine Zidane for changing the “recent history” of the club as a player and a coach.

Promoted from his position as head coach of the club’s reserve team to be Rafa Benitez’s replacement in January, three-times world player of the year Zidane steered Real to a runners-up finish in La Liga and to their 11th European Cup.

“The key element is Zidane,” Perez told Marca on Tuesday.

“He has changed the recent history of Real Madrid. Since 2001 he has created a way to understand football that has helped us win these European Cups.”

Zidane was signed as a player in Perez’s first term as president and his spectacular volley in the final in Glasgow in 2002 gave Real their ninth European title.

The Frenchman was an assistant to head coach Carlo Ancelotti when Real beat Atletico in Lisbon in the 2014 final. Naijabet.com

“Zidane symbolises the values of Real Madrid like respect, humbleness and talent,” Perez said.

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Jose Mourinho v Pep Guardiola: The story of the rivalry

Manchester will be home to two of the most successful managers in the world next season, as United’s Jose Mourinho and City’s Pep Guardiola go head-to-head in the Premier League.

The pair have clashed many times before and have a fierce rivalry.

Here, we look back at their records against each other and the times they’ve clashed…

 The first meeting between Guardiola and Mourinho as managers produced a typically intriguing tactical battle, as Barcelona and Inter Milan played out a 0-0 draw in a Champions League group game at the San Siro in 2009. 

The reverse fixture, though, saw the Spanish side win a one-sided contest 2-0 at the Nou Camp. The hosts were without Lionel Messi or Zlatan Ibrahimovic but Xavi picked Mourinho’s men apart. Naijabet.com

After the game, Mourinho conceded his team had been outplayed – but welcomed the chance of another crack at Guardiola’s team: “We’re far from being Barca in terms of individual qualities and profile. As a team, Barcelona are better than us. But if I had to play against Barca again tomorrow, I would already be ready. If you told me that Inter will face Barca in the semi-final, I will accept it already.”

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Hart focused on saving England from exit on penalties

Goalkeeper Joe Hart has backed himself to gain the upper hand in any psychological battle against opponents if England are taken to penalties at the Euro 2016 tournament in France.

England have a miserable record in shootouts, having been knocked out of six major tournaments on penalties since 1990, including their quarterfinal defeat by Italy at the 2012 European Championship.

The 29-year-old was named in the provisional England squad for the June 10-July 10 tournament and while manager Roy Hodgson will drop three players when he confirms his final 23-man selection on Tuesday, Hart remains his first choice goalkeeper. Naijabet 

“I try to put as much pressure as I can on the (kicker). I realise it is not easy to take a penalty. I try and build as much pressure as I can and be in control as much as I can,” Hart said in an interview with the Daily Telegraph.

“I have always had the mentality of thinking what is the best moment (to dive). Of believing in what I am doing. I have got it wrong many, many times but I have always believed I know what they are thinking or what they are going to do.”

England face Russia, Slovakia and Wales in Group B of the 24-team tournament in France which starts on June 10.

Brazil in search of Copa identity without Neymar

Two years after their traumatic World Cup semifinal exit, Brazil are haunted by the past as they head into the Copa America Centenario aiming for their first title in nearly a decade.

In previous eras, Brazil would arrive at the Copa America brimming with confidence, with the only debate revolving around who they could expect to face – and defeat – in the final.

Between 1997 and 2007, Brazil won four out of five editions of the tournament, helping to make them the most successful nation since 1975, when the Copa America began to be held regularly after an eight-year absence.

Yet as Brazil prepare to embark on this year’s tournament, the familiar swagger is gone.

The humiliating 7-1 thrashing by Germany in 2014 has left a team in search of an identity, torn between a more pragmatic, defensive approach and the hardwired instincts towards flamboyance. Naijabet

So far, under the second managerial tenure of 1994 World Cup-winning captain Dunga, the results have been mixed.

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Super Eagles ready for Luxembourg test

Nigeria will engage the Luxembourg national side in an international friendly on Tuesday at the Stade Josy Barthel in Luxembourg City.

It will the first time the two sides will be meeting at full international level and the Super Eagles will look to earn one over their opponents.

The Eagles are brimming with confidence after a hard-earned win over Mali last Friday.

Kelechi Iheanacho’s second half goal gave Nigeria the win at the Stade Robert Diochon in Rouen.

Luxembourg aren’t exactly a powerhouse in world football by any means. Ranked 146th on the latest Fifa rankings, the Red Lions as they are called will be up against the team ranked 67th in the world but that wouldn’t faze coach Luc Holtz who is a fiery character.

He loves to line up his team to attack even though that hasn’t exactly translated to plenty goals for his side. Naija and Bet

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Mourinho makes peace with Old Trafford icon

Jose Mourinho made peace with Bobby Charlton as Manchester United’s new manager met the Old Trafford icon at the club’s Carrington training ground on Monday.

Charlton has previously been a harsh critic of Mourinho and was understood to have objected to his potential appointment when United were looking for a successor to Alex Ferguson in 2013.

The 78-year-old, a member of United’s board of directors, also criticised Mourinho in 2012 for poking Barcelona’s assistant coach Tito Vilanova in the eye during a heated touchline clash, saying at the time: “A United manager wouldn’t do that. Mourinho is a really good coach, but that’s as far as I would go really.

“He pontificates too much for my liking. He’s a good manager, though.”

But, despite Charlton’s criticism, United finally turned to Mourinho last week, hiring the former Chelsea manager after the failed regimes of David Moyes and Louis van Gaal. Naijabet.com

With Mourinho being taken on a tour of United’s training base, it could have been an awkward moment when he met Charlton, but the 53-year-old Portuguese was keen to bury the hatchet.

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James ready to fight for his place

Colombian international James Rodriguez sees his future at the Bernabeu stadium despite getting a lot less game time for Real Madrid in his second season.

The 24-year-old attacking midfielder scored 17 goals and contributed 17 assists in 43 starts in the 2014-15 campaign after joining Real from Monaco but he made just 21 starts in all competitions in his second year.

Reports in Spain have linked Rodriguez with Manchester United and Paris St Germain.

“In football you never know but I want to continue here and my idea is to have many more years with the club,” he told Marca.

“I am happy here. All the people close to me are happy too. It’s the ideal club and I want to be here.”

Rodriguez watched Saturday’s Champions League final triumph over Atletico Madrid from the bench and admitted the season had been “a bit strange”.

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Rashford signs long-term contract

Striker Marcus Rashford has signed a new contract at Manchester United which will keep him at Old Trafford until 2020 with an option to extend for a further year, the club said on their website(www.manutd.com) on Monday.

The 18-year-old United academy graduate scored eight goals in 18 appearances this season, including two on his debut against Midtjylland in the Europa League.

He followed up with two goals against Arsenal and scored the winner in the Manchester derby against City in March.

“I am delighted to have signed a new contract. I have always been a Manchester United fan, so to be playing in the first team really is a dream come true,” Rashford said.

“I am grateful for having the chance to prove myself. To be able to play football at the biggest club in the world means everything to me and my family.” Naijabet.com

The emergence of Rashford under former manager Louis van Gaal was one of few positives for United in a disappointing campaign in which they finished fifth in the Premier League.

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Ronaldo targets more Real glory

Cristiano Ronaldo is hungry for even more silverware with Real Madrid after winning the Champions League on Saturday for the third time.

The prolific Portuguese did not look fully fit and was far from his best in the 1-1 draw with Atletico Madrid but he slammed home his team’s decisive fifth penalty in the shootout to seal Real’s second Champions League final success over their local rivals in three years.

Ronaldo cited tiredness for his underwhelming display in the final, the last game of another gruelling season in which he played 48 competitive games and scored 51 goals, the sixth straight season in which he has netted over 50 times.

“I’ve played more than 4 000 minutes, and I was No 1 in the team, again, with the most minutes. That means a lot to me. It means I am still good,” Ronaldo said. Naijabet.com

“In six years I’m scoring more than 50 goals, but I am asking for more. I am always at the top level. I just want to maintain that.”

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Siasia hopeful of Olympic gold in Rio

Nigeria Under-23 team head coach Samson Siasia has declared that the country will “aim for gold” at the men’s football event of the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro this year.

Siasia is keen on surpassing his personal best at the Olympics football event in which he guided Nigeria to a silver medal in 2008 in Beijing.

“The last time I took the U23s to the Olympics, we won silver. This time, we will aim for gold,” said Siasia.

The former Nigeria international striker is preparing a squad of 20 players for this year’s Summer Olympics and will see them feature in an invitational tournament in South Korea.

Siasia also took time to draw inspiration from being regarded as powerhouses. Naijabet.com

The Nigerian trainer prefers not to have his team rated highly like the case was before the Africa Under-23 Cup of Nations in Senegal.

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Terry backs Mourinho to be United success

Chelsea captain John Terry believes his former manager Jose Mourinho will lead Manchester United back to the top.

Mourinho was appointed United manager earlier this week after Dutchman Louis van Gaal was sacked two days after leading the Red Devils to an FA Cup victory.

And Terry, who won the Premier League three times as Chelsea captain with Mourinho as manager, believes the Portuguese is the right man to bring the glory days back to Old Trafford.

“It’s fantastic news for Man United,” Terry. “I’m sure the Man United fans and players will be delighted with that.

“I’ve said many times before, he’s the best manager I’ve worked under and a real delight. It’s a shame the way he finished at Chelsea this year but I wish him well because he’s a great manager and a great man as well, he’ll be great for Manchester United I’m sure. Naijabet

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Zidane become the seventh to win UCL as player & coach

French football legend Zinedine Zidane became just the seventh man to win the Champions League as a player and a coach after Real Madrid beat Atletico Madrid on penalties on Saturday.

Zidane masterminded a huge turnaround in Real’s fortunes just five months into his first senior managerial role as he led the Spanish giants to their 11th European Cup after replacing the sacked Rafael Benitez in January.

His playing career at Real is also most fondly remembered for the sensational winning goal he struck to win the 2002 Champions League final against Bayern Leverkusen.

Here, Naijabet Sports looks at the other six men to have experienced European glory as a player and a coach.

Strong>Miguel Munoz

Player: Real Madrid 1956, 1957

Coach: Real Madrid 1960, 1966

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Real Madrid are the champions of Europe

Real Madrid were crowned European champions for an unprecedented 11th time when Cristiano Ronaldo scored the winning penalty in a 5-3 shootout victory over Atletico Madrid on Saturday.

The Champions League final had finished 1-1 after extra time with Sergio Ramos having bundled the ball home to give Real the lead in the 15th minute.

Antoine Griezmann missed a penalty at the start of the second half for Atletico when he fired his shot against the bar.

Atletico, beaten in their two previous final appearances, including the most recent against Real in 2014, suffered a series of let-offs before substitute Yannick Carrasco rifled in the equaliser in the 79th minute to send the game into extra time. Naijabet.com

Juanfran missed Atletico’s fourth penalty in the shootout and Ronaldo converted to seal victory for Real.

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Torres hungry for Atletico UCL glory

Atletico Madrid forward Fernando Torres has called Saturday’s Champions League final with Real Madrid the game of his life as he yearns for a first trophy with his boyhood club.

Torres made his debut for the Madrid team in 2001 after joining their youth setup as a child and later became captain before departing for Liverpool in 2007. Predict scores on Naiajbet.com

He returned to Atletico in January 2015, missing out on a glut of trophies between 2012-14 and their 4-1 defeat by Real in the 2014 Champions League final.

Although Torres won the Champions League with Chelsea and two European Championships and the World Cup with Spain, he said all those triumphs would pale by comparison to Atletico becoming kings of Europe.

“Without any doubt it’s the most important, special and lovely game of my life,” Torres told a news conference on Friday.

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Yobo – tale of a true Nigeria compatriot

Nigeria’s participation at the 2002 Fifa World Cup in Japan/South Korea is one to easily forget because the Eagles flapped her wings and refused to fly.

Despite the disappointment, there were rays of light that shone through the Nigeria set up during the tournament which will be a ‘hammer and anvil’ for a decade after that.

Having lost the first game 1-0 to Argentina in the group stage, the Eagles had to beat Sweden to stand any chance of making it into the knock-out stage.

Things started brightly for Nigeria when Julius Aghahowa powered home a header to give Nigeria a 1-0 lead. The Swedes later came back to win the game and effectively end Nigeria’s hopes of going into the second round.

Nigeria played out a goalless draw against England in the last group game and was knocked out of the competition,but a two stars were born.

One of them? Joseph Yobo. Naijabet

Julius Aghahowa’s goal was a beauty and his celebration afterwards befitted the manner it was scored.

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Mourinho and Pep Guardiola to first meet in Beijing

The new managers of Manchester United and Manchester City will face an early confrontation when the teams meet in a friendly in Beijing on July 25.

Jose Mourinho, officially confirmed as United boss on Friday, and old adversary Pep Guardiola, who is replacing Manuel Pellegrini at City, will renew hostilities in the pre-season International Champions Cup.

There was little love lost between the pair when Mourinho was in charge at Real Madrid and Guardiola led Barcelona.

The rivalry is likely to be just as fierce when United attempt to make up ground on their neighbours, who have finished above them in the Premier League for the past three seasons.

This term City were only ahead on goal difference but pipping United to fourth position meant they took the final Champions League qualifying place. Naijabet

United won the FA Cup last weekend but the final proved to be manager Louis van Gaal’s swansong, his dismissal coming two days later.

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Reaction on twitter about Mourinho appointment

Twitter reaction to the news that Jose Mourinho has been appointed manager of Manchester United on Friday.

“José Mourinho is confirmed as the new manager of Manchester United. Great appointment for the club and Mourinho.

Former Leicester and England international striker Gary Lineker

“Next season will be electric in the dugouts. Mourinho, Klopp, Guardiola, Conte all fresh and keen….and Wenger of course.”

Added Lineker, now a television presenter Naijabet.com

“Being first is in his blood. Jose Mourinho: Welcome to @ManUtd. #FirstNeverFollows

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Jose Mourinho confirmed as new ​Manchester United manager

Manchester United have appointed Jose Mourinho as manager on a three-year contract with an option to stay on until at least 2020, the Premier League club said on Friday.

The 53-year-old Portuguese replaces Dutchman Louis van Gaal whose two-year reign at Old Trafford ended on Monday when he was sacked two days after United won the FA Cup.

“Jose is quite simply the best manager in the game today. He has won trophies and inspired players in countries across Europe and, of course, he knows the Premier League very well, having won three titles here,” United executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward said in a statement.

“I’d like to take this opportunity to welcome him to Manchester United. His track record of success is ideal to take the club forward.”

Mourinho, sacked by Chelsea in December, had been widely expected to succeed Van Gaal and his agent Jorge Mendes met United officials on Tuesday to discuss personal terms. Naijabet

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Alves denied having interests several clubs


Barcelona right back Dani Alves’ agent has denied suggestions his client has signed a pre-contract agreement with Juventus but says the player is a target for the Italian champions and other teams.

Barcelona-based publications El Mundo Deportivo and Sport reported on Thursday that Alves’ eight-year spell at the club would end with the Brazil international moving to Turin this summer on a three-year deal.

However, his agent and former wife Dinorah Santa Ana da Silva told Marca: “It’s not true that there is an agreement.

“Dani has not completed any deal with anyone and right now he is in Brazil and is only exclusively concerned with doing good things with the national team. Naijabet

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Simeone to stay with Atletico Madrid until 2017

Atletico Madrid were given a big boost ahead of Saturday’s Champions League final against Real Madrid in Milan with the news that coach Diego Simeone will be staying on next season.

President Enrique Cerezo said on Thursday that the former Atletico player would remain at the club until at least June 2017, when his contract expires.

“Simeone will stay next season,” Cerezo told Spanish radio station Cadena Ser.

The former Argentina midfielder has won La Liga, the Europa League and King’s Cup in his four and a half seasons at the helm. Naijabet

Chelsea goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois, who played under Simeone in Madrid, says the coach is the key factor in the team’s success.

“I remember his words two years ago, ‘When you believe and you work it can be done’,” Courtois told Onda Cero radio.

“Simeone knows how to motivate the group very well. Since he arrived Atleti have grown.

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Brazil called kaka to join COPA America squad

Brazil have called on Kaka as a late addition for next month’s Centenary Copa America in the United States, the Brazilian Football Confederation said on Thursday.

The Orlando City midfielder will replace Bayern Munich’s Douglas Costa, who was cut from the squad because of an injury to his left thigh.

Former AC Milan and Real Madrid player Kaka has been a regular in coach Dunga’s squads without getting much game time. Naija and bet

The 34-year old has not played a full match for the national side since 2012.

He is the second player to be added to the squad because of injury, with Benfica’s Jonas replacing striker Ricardo Oliveira, who also dropped out.

Brazil are in the Copa Group B with Ecuador, Haiti and Peru. They will face Panama in a warm up friendly on Sunday in Denver.

Sparks to high as Mourinho joins Pep Guardiola

As Arsene Wenger and Rafael Benitez will testify, Jose Mourinho has had more than his fair share of public confrontations with opposing managers during his career.

None of them, though, have been as bitter or keenly-felt as Portuguese Mourinho’s long-running rivalry with Spaniard Pep Guardiola. Manchester, the most passionate of football cities, is about to get very lively indeed.

As United’s new manager, Mourinho will have his City counterpart Guardiola as a football neighbour next season.

It is perhaps just as well that the clubs no longer have adjoining training grounds at Carrington, with City having moved across Manchester to a purpose-built base near the Etihad Stadium two years ago. Mourinho and Guardiola will not be on each other’s doorsteps, but they will be close enough. Naijabet.com

“The grudge match arrives in Manchester” was the headline in Madrid-based newspaper Marca on Monday, although it will arrive first in Beijing, where City and United will meet in an International Champions Cup pre-season game on July 25.

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