Gonzalo Higuain’s Father Rules Out ‘Impossible’ Return to Argentina

Gonzalo Higuain’s father Jorge has called a return to River Plate for his son ‘impossible’ for the time being, insisting he remains focused on seeing out his Juventus contract. 

Higuain is contracted to ?Juve until 2021 and is enjoying something of a renaissance under Maurizio Sarri in Turin. He has missed just three matches in all competitions, though he has scored just eight goals in that time.

With the football news cycle slowing down due to the coronavirus crisis, reports which were spread far and wide in Argentina by daily newspaper ?Clarin claimed that River Plate were keen on bringing ?Higuain back to the club. 

Hellas Verona v Juventus - Serie A

Clarin noted that Higuain does remain under contract, but speculated that Juve could cut ties with the 32-year-old ahead of time due to the financial constraints of the football shutdown that has so emphatically consigned us all to boredom over the last three weeks. 

According to his father Jorge, however, that’s not an option that is under consideration just yet.  

?“It is impossible for now,” Jorge told ?Goal. “Gonzalo has a contract that still has this year and next year. At the moment he cannot return to River.”

Higuain started his senior career at River Plate back in 2004, scoring 15 goals in 33 appearances for the Primera Division side before earning an £11m move to ?Real Madrid. 

Julien Escude,Gonzalo Higuain

He admitted himself last year that he has an affinity for the club and ‘would not close any doors’ on a potential return down the line, but the prevailing sentiment even then – when his future in Turin was far less secure – was that he was happy to stay put for the time being. 

“I don’t close any doors,” Higuain told Fox Sports. “The future is uncertain. I have a two-year contract here and then we’ll see. I’m always tied to River, the players and the fans. To tell the truth, I don’t know what will happen. But at the moment I want to enjoy Juve.”

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5 Premier League Candidates to Face Brock Lesnar After He Retains the WWE Title at WrestleMania

It’s possibly the weirdest WrestleMania season in history, but fans or no fans, coronavirus or no coronavirus, WrestleMania is WrestleMania. 

90min wouldn’t be 90min if we let the biggest date in professional wrestling pass us by ?without shoehorning in some weird football/wrestling hybrid content that absolutely nobody asked for.

Last year, we spoiled you when we ?fantasy-booked the entire event using only figures from the footballing world and listed eight footballers and managers who should try their hand in the WWE. 

This time around, you’ll have to make do with five big names from the Premier League who should obviously be in line to face Brock Lesnar when he inevitably retains* against Drew McIntyre this weekend. 

*unless he doesn’t


Jurgen Klopp?

Juergen Klopp

?


“Bear hug! Bah gawd, it’s a bear hug on Lesnar! He’s passing out! The air is being mercilessly ripped from his lungs! Is he gonna tap?!”


He’s already won the Champions League and, by the time Lesnar returns from the inevitable three-month hiatus that will follow him successfully defending the title for the nine millionth time, he’ll have won the Premier League too. A WWE title run is the next logical step for the man who can do no wrong. 

The current Liverpool boss is a universal fan-favourite and only the precious few WWE fans who have already defected to AEW could have a bad thing to say about his name being in the title picture. 

He might, however, be a little soft-hearted to go the distance in the ring. 


Pepe Reina 

Pepe Reina

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“Here he is, King! You have to love the way he comes to the ring, dancing all the way down the ramp. The WWE Universe adore him, but not everyone looks impressed…”

[*camera cuts to an bemused looking Paul Heyman*]


With Lesnar and bloody Goldberg as the current champions, it’s clear WWE love nothing more than putting the belt on an old man. Enter, stage left, 75-year-old Aston Villa keeper Reina.

The Spaniard is simply impossible to dislike and that infectious positivity would win over the WWE fans [as and when they’re allowed back] no problem whatsoever. The match would undoubtedly be one of the slowest ever witnessed in the history of professional wrestling, but Reina’s been here and done it all before – he has the know-how to go the distance. 

He’s also quite a sturdy looking chap, which you would have to be to stand toe to toe with the inhuman force that is Brock Lesnar. 


Adama Traore

Adama Traore


“Well he certainly loves himself, but how can you not when you look like he does? Look at him, he’s a specimen! If anyone can go the distance with the Beast, you’re looking at him, Cole!”


Qualifying solely on the merit of his ridiculous physical attributes, Adama Traore would fancy himself to take however many F5s Lesnar can manage and still spring back to his feet with a HBK-style kip-up. 

He would take some keeping down, and with his pace and energy, he’d be able to tire Lesnar out in no time at all. Some questions remain over whether he quite has the end product to put a match to bed at the very highest level, but at the very least has the raw attributes to keep it interesting. 


Sean Dyche

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“Uh oh, you know what that sound means! It’s the Baron of Burnley, and he means busine…wait a minute, where is he? Lesnar and Heyman don’t know what’s going on! He was under the ring! No, not the chair! RIGHT IN THE BACK WITH THE STEEL CHAIR! Oh the humanity! Lesnar is on the ropes!”


Dyche knows how to get a result when the chips are down, and he’s never shy from causing an upset on the big occasion. He’s as crafty as they come, and if there’s one thing he learned from his time as a lower league central defender, it’s how to take a beating. 

He’s a gruff, he’s rough around the edges and he no doubt needs to work on his flair and showmanship, but the blows he lands are as stiff as you’ll see anywhere in wrestling (mostly because he doesn’t actually know it’s fixed) and fans believe every word that comes out of his mouth (again, because he thinks it’s a competitive sport). 


Paul Pogba

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Michael Cole: “Now we’re talking! Paul Pogba is here to shut Heyman’s mouth and take the fight to the champion! Lesnar has his work cut out for him here!”

Somehow Graeme Souness: “That’s all well and good Michael but I mean look at his ring gear, all those daft colours, and his silly haircut. That’s just not what wrestling’s about for me, I’m just not sure he has the mentality for the big, big matches. For me, he’s the reason Manchester United are in the mess they’re in just now.”


He’s a 90min wrestling favourite having ?won our inaugural Royal Rumble in 2019, and only missed out on the 2020 edition since the ?entirety of Liverpool FC were inexplicably allowed to enter. 

Nevertheless, he’s keen to get back into the ring, and where better to do it than in a ‘worlds collide’ extravaganza against the biggest name in wrestling? 

He has everything you’d want in an elite wrestler; he’s a tremendous athlete, has the presence, he has the charisma, he knows how to work the fans. If he is to leave Manchester United this summer, he could do a lot worse than have a go between the ropes – if Rob Gronkowski can do it, after all… 


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9 Games England Fans Should Rewatch While Football Takes a Break

?Euro 2020 was supposed to happen this summer. And England were supposed to win.

They were supposed to win…in the eyes of England fans everywhere at least.

The complete and utter lack of football over the next few months has seen TV broadcasters the world over come out and offer free content for sport lovers everywhere.

England celebrate

For England football fans, the last 150 years could have gone a hell of a lot better, it has to be said. But don’t worry, we’ve picked out nine classic games that every Three Lions fan should sit down and watch back.

They’re in no particular order, and they range from niche to world famous. Most importantly, every single one should leave fans feeling a mixture of impressed, passionate and proud.

Let’s get right into it.


England 5-1 Croatia, 2009

Steven Gerrard of England celebrates aft

On the ninth of the ninth, 2009, England versus Croatia was Fabio Capello’s seventh of ten World Cup qualifiers for South Africa 2010.

Aaron Lennon put in one of his best displays in an England shirt, and, perhaps more crucially, so did Frank Lampard and Steven Gerrard.

Even though Theo Walcott’s teenage hat-trick in the away qualifier had beaten the Croats 4-1, there was still a slight nervousness throughout, with shades of Steve McClaren, the umbrella, and England failing to qualify for Euro 2008 in the mud still firmly at the forefront of our memories.

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Lampard’s early penalty – won by Lennon – would set England on their way to their best performance under Capello, before Lennon assisted Gerrard for a perfectly-taken header.

Glen Johnson came to the fore in the second half, laying the ball on a plate for Lampard to convert his second.

Gerrard and ?Wayne Rooney scored numbers four and five for a clinical England. The Croatians struck in between, but it mattered little – England made the World Cup and Croatia didn’t. Swings and roundabouts.


England 2-0 France, 2015

Dele Alli

This was the Wembley night that saw ?Dele Alli announce himself to England fans, to international football, and to the world.

England were at their counter-attacking best. Roy Hodgson’s side didn’t want the ball for long. Periods of fifteen seconds at a time would prove devastating enough.

With a single swing of his sweet right boot, Alli struck a long-range beauty, curling outwards past his club teammate Hugo Lloris and right into the stanchion.

A memorable match was capped off when Wayne Rooney wound up a wonderful volley from ?Raheem Sterling’s cross. England had beaten one of the world’s best sides.

Throwback: Kieran Gibbs started.


Argentina 0-1 England, 2002

David Beckham of England

The hurt of Maradona in 1986 and penalties in 1998 were still stinging painfully as England took to the pitch against Argentina at the 2002 World Cup.

Sapporo Dome’s lights never failed, but it wouldn’t have mattered if they had done. Throughout the match, flashlights went off around the stadium – Japan’s obsessed fans hoping to grab a famous shot of David Beckham, one of the biggest superstars football has ever seen.

Foot : Argentina - England / World Cup 2002

It would prove to be quite the inspiration as Beckham stole the show, converting the game’s only goal with an emphatic first-half penalty. It was Michael Owen who had won the spot-kick, apparently upended by Mauricio Pochettino.

The future ?Spurs manager could have been smarter, but England’s back five of Ashley Cole, Rio Ferdinand, Sol Campbell, Danny Mills and David Seaman in goal couldn’t. Irrespective of the final result, it was one of the most resolute and tactically sound displays an England team has ever produced.


Germany 2-3 England, 2016

Jamie Vardy

Under Roy Hodgson, the side had a knack of losing in tournaments but being deceivingly good in friendlies. In this March 2016 friendly, they beat world champions Germany.

It really was a game of two halves, but not two equal halves, for England only needed 30 minutes to come from two down to beat Germany in their very own backyard.

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?Harry Kane and ?Jamie Vardy scored two wonderful strikers’ goals, before ?Eric Dier headed past a hapless ?Manuel Neuer a minute into stoppage time.

England were young and exciting and nothing like as experienced in big matches as the players Joachim Löw and Germany could field. But it didn’t matter. England were winners in Germany yet again. Their recent record away to these famous foes is quite remarkable.


Spain 2-3 England, 2018

Raheem Sterling

The autumn would need to conjure up something very special indeed if England fans’ favourite moment of the year was to be anything other than their Russian adventure.

Luckily, Gareth Southgate had this up his sleeve: not only the first England goals in Spain since 1984, but a clinical win.

England saw only 27% of possession, but Raheem Sterling obliterated his international goal drought, scoring two of the team’s three goals on the night.

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All three of the team’s goals came within 22 minutes of each other, during a period in which Spain and Luis Enrique did not know what had hit them.

The wily old foxes came pushing back, but when ?Sergio Ramos carried the ball back to the centre circle after his 97th minute goal to make it a nervy 3-2, he did so in vain.

Southgate’s England had beaten Spain ­— a first competitive home defeat for the Spaniards since losing to Greece in 2001. Both of those matches came at the home of Real Betis, suggesting they might not be returning anytime soon.


England 6-1 Iceland, 2004

Wayne Rooney

This one makes the list simply because of England’s only meeting with Iceland ever since.

If the UEFA Nations League isn’t indeed cancelled due to COVID-19, then the two sides will face one another again. Until then though, this is the prescribed medicine.

During an unofficial FA tournament in the summer of 2004, England drew with Japan and then hammered Iceland to lift a truly meaningless trophy.


In what went down as an international friendly, England were anything but friendly to Iceland – 3-0 up at half-time.

Two strikes from a young Wayne Rooney were equalled by Darius Vassell, with Wayne Bridge scoring his only England goal.

England battered Iceland, although not when it truly mattered.


Brazil 2-2 England, 2013

Wayne Rooney

As part of their two years of friendlies before hosting the World Cup, Brazil faced England twice in 2013, beating the Samba stars at Wembley in February.

When the Three Lions travelled for their away match though, it turned out to be quite the event. England were lucky enough to be the side invited to reopen the historic Maracanã Stadium a year before it would host the World Cup final.

Brazil wouldn’t make the final and neither would England, but their June 2013 friendly was a classic.

Fernando

?Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain scored a precise long-range volley to equalise at 1-1. What made this even more special than it already was is that England were playing at the Maracanã for the first time since John Barnes’ famous solo goal helped England win 2-0.

Oxlade-Chamberlain’s father Mark Chamberlain played in that game.


Wayne Rooney scored one of his best in the white and red of England as he bent the ball accurately into the top corner from a swift counter, putting a Three Lions side who had been second-best 2-1 up.

Paulinho acrobatically levelled things late on, but this draw had been a display of some of the world’s best talents: young and old. Rooney, Frank Lampard and ?Joe Hart mixed with the likes of ?Dani Alves, Thiago Silva and ?Neymar. It was great fun to watch, even if an England victory would have been lucky at best.


Colombia 1-1 England (3-4 pens), 2018

Jordan Pickford

The very best compliment you can pay to Southgate and his brave young Lions about this match is to state that they did a very un-England-y thing very well indeed.

The Three Lions don’t win on penalties, they don’t get better as tournament matches go on and on, and in recent years they simply don’t progress through knockout rounds.

England were un-England-y, and it made for the most emotional international in living memory.

Some serious resolve and graft were required to put this dirty and dogged Colombia outfit to the sword.

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93 minutes in, a towering header from Yerry Mina forced extra time and broke England hearts. But it was with their hearts that England scored four of five penalties, cheering in their centre-circle huddle when ?Jordan Pickford acrobatically set up the grand finale, and leaping on each other like a true unit when Eric Dier sent them through.

Gary Neville said: “We’ve suffered too much. We needed this. We could not have gone out again.” And he was right.

Personal redemption for Gareth Southgate, and pure joy for a nation struggling to find its true self.


Netherlands 1-4 England, 1996

Teddy Sherringham,Paul Gascoigne

Even taking into account the first 50 years of international football, when England were widely regarded as the best side on the planet, this may well be the best performance in England national football team history.

Euro 96 on home soil seemed to engulf the concentration and interest of an entire nation, and the group game against one of the best Dutch teams ever offered a display to be envied by every team on earth.

Paul Gascoigne was suitably ‘Gazza’, Alan Shearer and Teddy Sheringham scored two each, and Wembley sang from the first whistle to the last.

Alan Shearer

England don’t beat good teams in major tournaments. Here though, for the first and only time in their history, the Three Lions thrashed one.

To cap off a brilliant occasion, Patrick Kluivert’s consolation goal knocked Scotland out of the tournament.

Via YouTube or any other such medium, most definitely a day to replay.


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9 Games Man Utd Fans Should Rewatch While Football Takes a Break

Can you believe that it’s nearly a month since the last Premier League game? No, neither can we. 

But as football takes an enforced break due to the coronavirus pandemic, it’s given fans a chance to re-live those games that can never be forgotten. Whether it’s a late comeback against a title contender, or thrashing a rival team – there are some games that need to be watched on repeat.

Manchester United fans have been treated to so many memorable games over the years. The Red Devils have given them so many thrilling experiences, from those amazing European nights, to a last-gasp win against their Premier League rivals.

With that being said, here are nine games that are a must for United fans to search on YouTube and watch again, starting with that unforgettable Champions League final…


Man Utd 2-1 Bayern Munich (1999)

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer

The greatest Champions League final ever? To Man Utd fans, it felt like it was.

It could have been easy to fear the worst for the Red Devils when Mario Basler’s free kick swerved past Peter Schmeichel in the sixth minute. With no Roy Keane or Paul Scholes, the United midfield was lacking inspiration against a well-organised ?Bayern defence.

Hoping for the best, manager Sir Alex Ferguson brought on both Teddy Sheringham and Ole Gunnar Solskjær to turn the game around. And what changes they were, with the Englishman equalising first with a right-foot volley as the game went into added time. It set the stage for a glorious finish, where the Norwegian got his boot on the end of his fellow substitute’s header to complete the three minute comeback.

Was this the finest European final? Not really, but United supporters will tell you that the result is all that matters.


Man Utd 7-1 Roma (2007)

Wayne Rooney

This game wasn’t a thriller by any means, but a display of supreme dominance from the Red Devils.

Needing to overturn a 2-1 deficit from the first leg, United knew a quick start would be key to winning the quarter-final tie. And sure enough, they swung the game in the space of eight minutes, with Michael Carrick, Alan Smith (remember him?) and Wayne Rooney all scoring.

Cristiano Ronaldo made it four just before half time and then added a second after the break before Carrick scored once again. Despite Daniele De Rossi’s consolation finish, Patrice Evra made it seven for the Red Devils with his low finish.

This was the mid-2000s Ferguson-managed team at its very best, battering the Italians from start to finish.


Man Utd 4-3 Man City (2009)

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Ahh, the feeling of beating your city rivals on a last-minute winner never gets old.

The Citizens’ summer business added fuel to the tensions between the Manchester rivals, with the controversial signing of Carlos Tevez from United.  The infamous ‘Welcome to Manchester’ billboard didn’t help either.

And the first derby of the season didn’t disappoint the neutrals. In a classic back-and-forth affair, Rooney’s early goal was cancelled out by Gareth Barry in the early stages. Darren Fletcher and Craig Bellamy scored a brace each, with the Welshman’s second coming in the 90th minute.

Up stepped substitute Michael Owen, who scored from Ryan Giggs’ third assist of the game, to send Old Trafford into ecstasy and City manager Mark Hughes into a furious rage where he complained about the refereeing post-game – again.

The game was deemed so good, it was voted the best match of the first 20 years of the Premier League. All the more reason to check it out, especially as a United fan.


Man Utd 3-2 Aston Villa (2009)

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Remember Federico Macheda? Well, go back and watch this game if you don’t.

This was a match United needed to win, given that Liverpool had re-taken the top spot of the league table with their win the day before.

And they got off to a great start, with Ronaldo’s free kick rocketing past Brad Friedel. Yet this was a very good ?Villa side under Martin O’Neill, and the visitors went 2-1 up through goals from John Carew and Gabriel Agbonlahor.

?Ronaldo equalised with a right-footed drive into the bottom corner and, with seconds to go, young Italian substitute Macheda broke Liverpool fans’ hearts with a curling finish to ensure United would go back on top of the league – a position they ultimately never relinquished for the rest of the campaign.

Now at Greek club Panathinaikos, it was this goal that United fans will remember Macheda for the most.


Man Utd 3-2 Liverpool (2010)

Dimitar Berbatov

While Dimitar Berbatov wasn’t always prolific for the Red Devils, this was the game United fans will remember him most for.

Having nodded in a corner to put the hosts in front, it’s his second goal that was simply astounding. What looked like a wayward Nani cross turned into the perfect assist, as the Bulgarian launched himself into a brilliant bicycle kick with the ball swept past the despairing dive of Pepe Reina.

Steven Gerrard then threatened to end Old Trafford’s celebrations, as he quickly scored a penalty, before putting a free kick past Edwin van de Sar to equalise for the Merseysiders. Yet the former Tottenham striker had other plans, and sealed his hat-trick with another header in the 84th minute to ensure the victory over United’s rivals.

A game that underlined the sheer brilliance of a forward who often gets forgotten amongst United’s top strikers of the modern era.


Man Utd 8-2 Arsenal (2011)

The scoreboard displays the 8-2 score-li

A game where the duo of Tom Cleverley and Anderson overran Arsenal’s midfield? No wonder Arsène Wenger cut a frustrated figure at the final whistle.

Yes, United were helped out by Arsenal’s shocking defending that day. But they were clinical and ruthless in front of goal, capitalising on every error made by a Gunner that day. 

?Rooney netted a hat-trick, Ashley Young scored a brace, and the trio of Nani, Park Ji-Sung and Danny Welbeck also got onto the scoresheet for the Red Devils, who looked so far above their counterparts. The visitors were fortunate to have Theo Walcott and Robin van Persie score for them that day – but those consolation strikes meant little in a game that thoroughly belonged to United.

Even David de Gea had something to do – saving Van Persie’s penalty to add further misery for the Dutchman. No wonder he chose to go to Old Trafford not too long after…


Paris Saint-Germain 1-3 Man Utd (2019)

Marcus Rashford,Chris Smalling,Tahith Chong

A game few pundits gave United much of a chance to win. And yet, they delivered against the odds. Oh, and also against a PSG team who bottled another European tie.

Having lost the first leg at Old Trafford 2-0, it meant the Red Devils needed at least three away goals to go through. It seemed like an impossible mission.

Except, it only took them two minutes to score at the Parc des Princes. Romelu Lukaku capitalised on a poor pass from Thilo Kehrer and slotted in for the away side’s first. Despite Juan Bernat’s equaliser, veteran goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon spilled a long-range Marcus Rashford effort into the path of ?Lukaku, who fired in a second goal.

With time running out, United fans hoped for another European miracle. And it soon came, in the unlikely form of Diego Dalot’s speculative strike, which struck the arm of Presnel Kimpembe. After a long wait, the penalty was given, and ?Rashford coolly slotted the ball past Buffon to complete the comeback and secure their progression to the quarter-finals at the Parisians’ expense.

A recent European night to crow about? United fans, here’s the game for you.


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Premier League Clear to Televise Saturday 3pm Kickoffs in Major Step Towards Closed-Doors Football

In another unprecedented step necessitated by the coronavirus outbreak, UK TV stations will be able to televise football live at 3pm on Saturdays, after UEFA lifted the ‘blocked hours’ protection for the remainder of the season. 

Broadcasters have been banned from televising matches at the traditional kick-off time since the 1950s, initially implemented to encourage amateur players to take part in matches on Saturday afternoons. 

It has since become something of a failsafe to encourage fans to attend matches rather than stay home and watch football on the TV. However, as the coronavirus continues to grip the sport, ?The Times report that blackout has been lifted until the end of the season. 


?The newspaper reports that the UEFA regulation banning broadcasters in England, Scotland and Montenegro has been updated, and now reads: “Taking into account the current exceptional circumstances, UEFA has lifted the ‘blocked hours’ protection granted to the England and Scotland for the remainder of the 2019-20 football season, following requests from the relevant national associations as a result of measures taken in relation to the Covid-19 pandemic.”

It means that ?Premier League, EFL and SPFL Premiership matches, should the season resume, will have no restrictions on when they are allowed to be televised. 

The same applies to the FA Cup and Scottish Cup. 


Reading between the lines, this is a major step towards the eventuality of football being played behind closed doors in order to conclude the current domestic season. 

Premier League clubs are reported to be keen to avoid the prospect of voiding the season and the accompanying financial consequences of failing to fulfil broadcasting contracts. But with no end in sight to the ban on mass gatherings in the UK, closed-doors matches look like the only real means of bringing the season to a reasonable end in time for UEFA’s 30 June deadline. 

The temporary easing of broadcasting restrictions means that fans who would have gone to games will not necessarily miss out on watching their team play on Saturday afternoons. 

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