‘He should go to Madrid to become stronger’ – Mpenza urges Hazard to leave Chelsea this summer

Eden Hazard should leave Chelsea and would become a better player at Real Madrid, according to former Belgium international Emile Mpenza.

Hazard’s contract at Stamford Bridge expires at the end of next season and this month he said he has made a decision about his future , though he did not offer any further information.

The 28-year-old has been heavily linked with a switch to Madrid, a path trodden by former Chelsea team-mate and Belgium colleague Thibaut Courtois in the close season.

Ex-Manchester City striker Mpenza believes heading to the Santiago Bernabeu would enable Hazard to take his career to new heights.

“I think he wrote a page in Chelsea’s history book and now he has to try to go somewhere else,” Mpenza told Omnisport.

“A player always wants to move to another team to improve. Real Madrid won three Champions Leagues [in a row], and Hazard hasn’t won it with Chelsea.

“If he wants to improve, he can go to Madrid to become stronger.”

Mpenza was speaking ahead of Manchester City’s clash against Schalke on Wednesday – another of his former teams – in the Champions League last-16 tie, the first leg of which takes place at the Veltins-Arena on Wednesday.

He has warned City not to underestimate the threat posed by Schalke, however, he believes Pep Guardiola’s side are the favourites to retain the Premier League title due to Liverpool’s history of struggling against teams beneath them in the table

“We always try to go through, but we failed. This year it’s a very tough game against Schalke. People are saying that we are favourites, but it’s football, we never know,” said Mpenza.

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On the domestic battle with City and Liverpool locked on 65 points at the summit , he added: “It’s possible [City will win the league]. Now they’re tied with Liverpool, but Liverpool are always in the race until the end for the past two-three years.

“And I think City could win again this year because they have a lot of experience … and Liverpool has been losing games they shouldn’t lose in the final stretch in the past.

“So I think City has an advantage when it comes to winning the league.”

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Nigeria striker Junior Ajayi signs Al Ahly extension

Junior Ajayi has signed a new three-year contract with Al Ahly.

In the summer of 2016, the Nigeria striker joined the Egyptian giants for a reported fee of $2million from Tunisian side CS Sfaxien.

Ajayi helped the Red Devils to two consecutive Egyptian Premier League titles in the 2016-17 and 2017-18 campaigns.

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This season, the former Nigeria youth international missed the first five months of the season due to a knee ligament injury against Township Rollers on July 28 and returned in a Caf Champions League game against JS Saoura.

He has since played eight games across all competitions, finding the back of the net thrice.

Al Ahly, placed third in the Egyptian top-flight log, play El Daklyeh in a league game on Wednesday and Ajayi will be expected to play a crucial role.

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Bonucci reveals he turned down Read Madrid to rejoin Juventus

Leonardo Bonucci has revealed that he turned down Real Madrid to rejoin Serie A side Juventus from AC Milan last summer.

Following seven seasons at Juventus from 2010 to 2017, Bonucci made the switch to AC Milan for the 2017-18 season.

Despite making 51 appearances and signing an initial five-year deal at San Siro, Bonucci made the switch back to Turin to play alongside Cristiano Ronaldo for the current 2018-19 campaign.

He has slotted straight back into the club’s starting line-up under Massimiliano Allegri, with the defender playing an essential role in the side’s current undefeated record in the league.

But returning to Juve was not his only option, with the 31-year-old admitting he turned down the chance to join La Liga giants Real Madrid in the summer and the chance to play at the Santiago Bernabeu.

“Real Madrid’s interest? Yes, it’s true, Real Madrid were interested in me,” Bonucci told AS

“It was an honour and pleasure for me, it means that I have worked well in these years. 

“But the call from Juventus and the desire to return home was fundamental, I decided that the Bianconeri colours fit me better.”

The defender also revealed it was not just for footballing reasons that he opted for a return to his former club after just one season playing for Milan.

Bonucci stated his six-year-old son played a pivotal role in his switch back to Juve, with his family still based in Turin.

“How did my son Lorenzo react? He’s happy because dad came home,” he added. “Last year I was almost always in Milan and he could not see me. It was one of the reasons why I came back.”

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The Italy international has made 26 appearances this season and looks on course to win his seventh Serie A title as Juventus currently hold a 13-point lead at the top of the table.

The prospect of the club’s first Champions League trophy since 1996 remains a possibility, with the club hopeful that Ronaldo can fire them to European glory.

Juventus’ next fixture is against Atletico Madrid on Wednesday night before a Serie A clash against Bologna on February 24.

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Kanoute tips Lyon’s prized assets Mendy, Ndombele, Aouar & Fekir to make moves in the near future

With the likes of Barcelona and Manchester City circling, Frederic Kanoute has told Goal that Lyon risk losing Ferland Mendy, Tanguy Ndombele, Houssem Aouar and Nabil Fekir.

Such interest is nothing new for the Ligue 1 outfit, with their famed academy system having produced a number of home-grown talents that have been developed in France before making big-money moves elsewhere.

Further deals are expected, with it becoming increasingly difficult to ignore the admiring glances being shot in the direction of prized assets.

Among those to be generating intense transfer talk is France international full-back Ferland Mendy, with former Lyon striker Kanoute telling Goal, courtesy of Enterprise Rent-A-Car, that rumours of bids being readied at Camp Nou should come as no surprise.

He said: “I have seen some games of Lyon, I haven’t seen all the games, but he is a player that has got definitely got something. He is really good, very dynamic and I like him a lot. It’s possible [that he could go].

“Generally speaking, I know that Lyon trains its youth very well and that’s why you always have fantastic players coming up. Whether it is him or other players they have right now, it’s the good business of Lyon that makes it happen. They focus on youth development and that works for them.”

Kanoute added on all-action midfielder Ndombele, who has been linked with Premier League champions City: “Ndombele in the last few games I have seen, I was very impressed. His quality, it is amazing to see a player with his energy, with such strength.

“He has pretty much everything and is still young as well. I’m sure that he already has a lot of clubs interested in buying him. We will see what happens.”

Houssem Aouar Lyon monaco ligue 1 16122018

And on Aouar, with Arsenal and Liverpool among those said to be keen on the 20-year-old playmaker, Kanoute said: “He’s a very classy player. I could see him doing well in La Liga. He is a typical La Liga player, but any club in the world would be interested in such a talent.”

One of those who appeared to be heading for the exits at Lyon in the summer of 2018 is Nabil Fekir, with the World Cup winner seeing a proposed switch to Liverpool break down and talks with Chelsea come to nothing.

Fitness concerns scuppered his plans at that stage, but the 25-year-old is enjoying another productive domestic campaign and is expected to attract further bids in the next window.

Kanoute said of a man with 11 goals and five assists across Ligue 1 and Champions League competition this season: “He got injured a couple of years back and it was very difficult for him to come back to his level and now he is there. I think that next summer will be difficult for him, the club is going to receive lots of offers for sure.

“He’s the leader of that team, lots of quality. He got injured not that long ago so he couldn’t leave the club, it wasn’t the time for him, but now he is very much ready to leave if the club agrees to a good deal for them.”

While high-profile transfer dealings may form part of Lyon’s future, their focus is locked on the present for now.

Frederic Kanoute Enterprise Europa League

Next up for them is the first leg of a Champions League last-16 showdown with La Liga giants Barcelona.

Kanoute admits Bruno Genesio’s side face a tough task against the Catalan heavyweights, but the former Mali international believes anything is possible in knockout football.

Quizzed on what Lyon need to do in order to claim a notable scalp, he said: “What do you need to do well against Barcelona? It’s a very difficult question. I don’t have the answer otherwise I think a lot of clubs would hire me as their coach and pay me millions!

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“It’s a difficult one. They are a club that has a real history and philosophy and [Lionel] Messi! All of that together makes it very difficult. I wish them all the best.

“This competition allows anything to happen. If they were playing in the same league, Lyon wouldn’t get a chance to win the league but in this competition, one game at home, anything can happen. We have seen in the past that anything is possible, even though it is going to be very difficult.”

Frédéric Kanouté is working with UEFA Europa League partner Enterprise Rent-A-Car on their Legendary Journeys campaign. To discover more and to enjoy special rates on car hire across Europe, visit www.enterprise.co.uk/UEL  

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Paris Saint-Germain target Idrissa Gueye key to Everton – Marco Silva

Everton manager Marco Silva has revealed the reason behind their objection to Idrissa Gueye’s move to Paris Saint Germain.

The French champions showed interest to sign the 29-year-old in January but the Goodison Park outfit rejected two offers from them.

The energetic midfielder has continued to impress since joining the side in the summer of 2016 and he is currently ranked as the best tackler in the Premier League with 96 tackles.

The Portuguese tactician has lifted the lid on the botched move, saying the former Aston Villa man brings more quality to his squad.

“He is really aggressive, he is fast in both transitions [attack and defence] and it is important for us,” Silva was quoted as saying by Echo.

“With him there, we can have the other players free to support the attack.

“He has been really important for us since the beginning of the season. And he was last season also. He is playing well and he is doing a good job.”

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Gueye has made 21 league appearances for the Toffees this season, helping them to keep five clean sheets.

Everton, ninth in the log with 33 points from 27 games take on Cardiff City in their next Premier League tie on February 26.

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