Bayern Munich boss Kovac planning for Boateng stay

Bayern Munich boss Niko Kovac expects Jerome Boateng to stay with the Bundesliga giants, but acknowledged the defender could still move away before the end of August.

Boateng played the entire 90 minutes off Bayern’s tightly contested 1-0 DFB-Pokal victory over minnows Drochtersen/Assel – Robert Lewandowski netting the decisive goal late on.

The Germany defender claimed at the end of last season that he would be open to a new challenge after seven years at the Allianz Arena, with Bayern unlikely to stand in the way of an exit.

However, Kovac believes the 29-year-old will still be at the club come September.

“If anything happens at the end of the transfer period then we see, it may happen,” said Kovac.

“But I’m going to assume that nothing happens, I’m glad that he got through this game very well.”

Kovac won the competition with Eintracht Frankfurt last term and the victory represents his second competitive win as Bayern boss following the DFL-Supercup triumph over his former club last time out.

Unlike that resounding 5-0 success, Bayern were lacklustre for much of Saturday’s encounter, and it took an 81st-minute strike from Lewandowski to see them through.

“It was a difficult game, as it always happens in the first round of the cup,” said Kovac.

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“We did not really want that. We were warned, but you have to say that the bottom line is progress.”

 

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‘If players aren’t happy, they can leave’ – Alderweireld future quiz sparks five-minute Pochettino rant

After declaring he would not talk about Toby Alderweireld’s future at Tottenham, Mauricio Pochettino embarked on a five-minute answer to discuss players’ commitment to their clubs in a wider context. 

Belgium international Alderweireld returned to the Spurs starting line-up for Saturday’s 3-1 victory over Fulham at Wembley, after an extended break following his country’s third-place finish at the World Cup in Russia.

Alderweireld was heavily linked with a move to Manchester United before the closure of the Premier League’s transfer window, but remains a Spurs player for the time being.

With some of Europe’s top leagues – including La Liga – set to reach their transfer deadline at the end of the month, speculation continues to mount that Alderweireld could still move on.

In his post-match media conference, Pochettino was asked whether he wanted to keep hold of the defender or if a move away remained a possibility, prompting a long-winded response more than five minutes in length. Here’s the (heavily) edited version…

“Look this season I am not going to talk….look, many things happened and are going to happen and happened in the past,” Pochettino began.

“I am not going to talk, because that is a private matter. Only I am going to talk about what you saw on the pitch, about the performance, about decisions. It’s obviously that like I explained in the press conference. I’m not going to talk about it.

“I told you players that have the possibility to stay here, I not talk about him, I talk about in general always. I want player commitment with the team. Players that are not happy, from my point of view, everyone can leave. Then it’s different if they can negotiate with [chairman] Daniel [Levy] and be agreed.

“But for me I want players who are fully committed with the team and want to fight for the team. The players that are here are all committed. Not one told me today that they wanted to find a solution. That is why I’m not going to make any comment about that situation because you know it’s so…everyone can have their opinion and it’s a lot of parts in different situations that can give or provide different information.

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“The only information and the only truth that I can translate to our fans is myself. Today I am so open to listen to players if they want to leave. But if they are going to be here I want all commitment. If not tomorrow we can find a solution. But I told you, it’s not to say ‘Gaffer, you are so aggressive in your position’.

“I am so tired talking about this. If some player want or some player are not happy or some player…I understand that if some players don’t play they can be disappointed. 

“It’s a lot of things that I can say, but I promise you I’m not going to waste time talking about individual situations.”

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Egyptian side El Gouna sign 2016 CHAN star Chisom Chikatara

Egypt Premier League side El Gouna have signed Chisom Chikatara from Moroccan’s Wydad Casablanca on a two-year deal.

The former Abia Warriors striker was the top-scorer in the 2016 African Nations Championship despite Nigeria’s exit at the group stage.

Chikatara won the 2017 CAF Champions League title, Caf Super Cup, and the league title during his stay in Morocco.

On Friday, El Gouna announced the forward as their latest addition, becoming the fourth foreign player in the club after Cameroon’s Joseph Ngwem, Ethiopia’s Gatoch Panom and Cote d’Ivoire’s Abdoulaye Coulibaly.

“We present to you our newest addition, the CHAN 2016 top-scorer, Chisom Chikatara! Welcome home, “Chika” read a tweet from the official club’s tweeter handle.

Chikatara could make his first appearance for El Gouna when they clash with El Entag El Harby in a league tie on August 26.

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Klavan reveals Alisson and Salah convinced him to swap Liverpool for Cagliari

Former Liverpool defender Ragnar Klavan has revealed that the counsel of Mohamed Salah and Alisson was vital in his decision to swap Anfield for Cagliari. 

The Estonia international played only an intermittent role in Liverpool’s 2018-19 exploits, with the arrival of Virgil van Dijk pushing him further down the pecking order in January. 

Klavan made a total of 28 appearances over the course of the season as Jurgen Klopp’s men battled to a fourth-placed Premier League finish as well as a spot in the Champions League final. 

And he is now preparing for a new challenge in Serie A after moving to Sardinia-based Cagliari in a £2 million move, two years after signing from Augsburg. 

Liverpool’s squad contains plenty of players with experience in Italy’s top flight, and Klavan has confirmed that their recommendation pushed him towards Italy. 

“I had offers from several teams, including in other countries, but Cagliari really wanted me,” he explained to Sky Sport Italia.

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“Darijo Srna advised me to come here, as I talked to him via Dejan Lovren. Other Liverpool teammates like Alisson, Salah and Lucas Leiva all spoke highly of Serie A.

“I’m certain we’ll do great things here and I am really fired up. The city is wonderful and so are the fans, I can’t wait to get started.”

Klavan, who has made more than 500 appearances during a career that has taken in spells in Germany, Netherlands, Norway and England as well as his native Estonia, is now tasked with cementing Cagliari’s place amongst Italy’s elite after the Sardinians narrowly avoided relegation from Serie A last season, finishing four points clear of 18th-placed Crotone to assure survival.

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Bayern & Tottenham target Pavard better off at Stuttgart – Reschke

Benjamin Pavard remains fully committed to Stuttgart despite his obvious potential to play at the highest level, according to club sporting director Michael Reschke.

The versatile defender reportedly attracted interest from Bayern Munich and Tottenham in the aftermath of an excellent World Cup for France.

Bayern boss Niko Kovac admitted he was a fan of the 22-year-old, but talk of a potential move to Bavaria has quietened as the new Bundesliga season draws near.

Reschke is confident Pavard will stay at Stuttgart for the upcoming campaign, citing stability as important for the former Lille man.

“Benji is a player for the big clubs, sure,” the former Bayern technical director told Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung.

“But another year in Stuttgart will do him some good. He will continue to mature here.

“The fact that he came back from vacation early, that he is already a totally positive part of the team, speaks for itself.”

Pavard, who joined Stuttgart in August 2016, started 34 top-flight matches last term.

He featured in six of France’s seven games in Russia, with his superb volley in the last-16 win over Argentina being voted goal of the tournament.

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Pavard earned special praise from France boss Didier Deschamps after the competition, saying: “Benjamin has become a star and he deserves it.

“He’s not so media-focused. He’s very friendly, appreciated by his team-mates, and has an incredible amount of self-confidence.

“He once said to me: ‘I’m not afraid of anyone!’ So I told him: ‘You can think that, but never say it to the media’.”

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