Ilkay Gundogan Admits to ‘Confidence’ Problem for Man City as They Aim to Close Gap on Liverpool

Manchester City midfielder Ilkay Gundogan has claimed that the team should avoid looking at the Premier League table at the minute as they seek their third successive title. 

The 2018/19 domestic treble winners are eight points behind frontrunners Liverpool in second going into this weekend’s fixtures, and Gundogan, who contributed to all three goals in Germany’s 3-0 win over Estonia on Sunday, insists the Citizens must improve.

Ilkay Gundogan

Speaking to the club’s official website, he declared: “We go to Crystal Palace which will be tough, but we have no choice – we will try to improve.

“When you are in front (in the table) it always feels great – that’s why it’s a bit tougher to watch the table right now as we are not there and there is quite a gap. But maybe we shouldn’t watch the table now.

“We will get a lot of opportunities in the coming months to influence that but, right now, it’s something we have to accept and something we have to deal with.”

Speaking on the qualities and frailties of this ?City side, he added: “I always have the feeling we are able to score especially with the power we have upfront.

“There are always chances to create something but in the last 10 or 15 minutes against Wolves they were very defensive, and their physicality meant they were able to cope with our headers and their spaces were tiny so it was difficult.”

Indeed, he then went further, perhaps surprisingly admitting: “It always feels that if we are not able to score the first goal, we get maybe a bit nervous and the confidence is not 100 per cent there.

“Sometimes it is about being patient and to know you are able to create a clear chance, but we have to score. We have to learn from that.”


Christian Benteke & James Tomkins Pen New Deals at Crystal Palace

In what will come as a surprise to some supporters, Crystal Palace have announced that striker Christian Benteke and defender James Tomkins have both penned fresh deals with the club. 

The new contracts will keep them at Selhurst Park until June 2021 and June 2022 respectively. 

Both players joined the Eagles in 2016, and have gone on to become loyal supporters of the cause in south London.

The news was announced on the clubn’s official website on Thursday afternoon, with a statement reading: “Crystal Palace are delighted to confirm that James Tomkins and Christian Benteke have agreed new deals with the club.

“Tomkins’ contract extension will see him remain with the club until the end of the 2021/22 season, whilst Benteke’s time at Palace has been lengthened until the end of the 2020/21 campaign.”

Speaking upon the announcement, club chairman Steve Parish said: “I’m pleased that agreements have been reached with these two important senior players. Both James and Christian bring vast Premier League experience, commitment and professionalism to the squad.

“These new deals show that we recognise their levels of performance in recent seasons, that we believe in both players, and that they are hugely motivated by the direction the club is heading.”

Tomkins echoed his chairman’s thoughts, declaring: “I’m now in my fourth season and I’ve really enjoyed my time at Palace. I’m excited about the future here and didn’t hesitate to commit myself to the club for an additional two years.

Sunderland v Crystal Palace - Premier League

“It’s been great to be part of this team and to have the support of the chairman, manager and staff. A special thanks to our fans who made me feel welcome from the start and are so important to us.”

Meanwhile, Benteke said: “I am very happy to have reached an agreement to extend my contract with Palace for another year. The team have started the season really well and there is a lot to be positive about. I am more committed than ever to repaying the faith that the chairman, manager and our amazing fans have shown in me.”


Exclusive: Man Utd Consider Move for Paris Saint-Germain Forward Edinson Cavani

Paris Saint-Germain forward Edinson Cavani is one of a number of players Manchester United are monitoring as the club look to continue their squad rebuild under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer in the coming months.

United have endured a difficult start to the 2019/20 season. Winning just two games from eight in the Premier League, they sit in 12th place ahead of a meeting with unbeaten leaders and rivals Liverpool in their next fixture. 

They have been struggling with a number of injuries to key players through the opening weeks of the campaign – both ?Paul Pogba and David de Gea have been confirmed absent for the upcoming clash at Old Trafford – and questions have been asked over training methods put in place following a series of muscle injuries to key men.

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The injury crisis has been shown up further by the decisions made over the summer to let a number of established first team players leave the club. As many as six players departed on permanent or loan transfers, leaving the squad noticeably thin in both midfield and attack. The recent luck with injuries has only further highlighted the lack of depth.

United, through Solskjaer in the main, have been keen to communicate frequently that they are at the start of a rebuild, and that more new arrivals will follow the three (Daniel James, Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Harry Maguire) that arrived in the most recent transfer window. The 46-year-old has confirmed as such this week, though they are keen to ensure the right characters are brought in to the squad too.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer

90min understands that while ?United maintain the January market is a difficult one to do business in, there is plenty of money to spend if the right targets become available. Cavani’s name exists on a list of targets – alongside Mario Mandzukic, whose name has been widely reported – to bolster their striking options. 

While United have been clear in communicating their wish to build a squad for the future, some within the club feel it necessary to blend in players with more experience to help take the burden off of the likes of ?Anthony Martial, Mason Greenwood and Marcus Rashford.

The Croatian is yet to play a game for Juventus this season, and has lost his place in the squad under new coach Maurizio Sarri. The Bianconeri are keen to offload at the earliest opportunity and United’s name has been repeatedly mentioned in his list of possible destinations, and it is not out of the question that he does join in January. 

With that said, the deal is not as far developed as reported in some places. Milan are reported in Italy to have stepped up their own interest in the player, too, on Thursday.

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Cavani comes as another option. The Uruguayan – out of contract at Paris Saint-Germain in the summer – could be lined up on a free transfer in 2020. United are able to offer him a contract six months ahead of the end of his deal expiring, should PSG and the player fail to reach a further agreement, though a move in January does appear unlikely.

His signature will be far more coveted, too. Juventus have been strongly linked with a move for the 32-year-old, while Atletico Madrid are known admirers and a number of clubs in Major League Soccer are exploring the possibility of signing him too.

Speaking on Cavani ?ahead of Friday’s match with Nice, manager Thomas Tuchel confirmed he was unsure of the future of the club’s highest goalscorer: “It’s too soon to speak about such things. I’m sure Edi is speaking with the club. He knows it’s his club.

“I don’t know Edi’s ideas exactly at the moment. I count 100 per cent on Edi this season.”

Ligue 1"Paris Saint-Germain v Nimes Olympique"

Moussa Dembele, of Lyon, has attracted interest, while RB Salzburg forward Erling Haaland is also on the club’s radar – especially following after his exploits since the start of the season. 

Haaland is one of three Norwegian players United are interested in signing. And while at least one new addition in attack over the next few months is desired, it’s not expected to be the only place United strengthen. A number of central midfielders, as well as an attacking midfielder, are on the wanted list, while defensive acquisitions are not believed to be finished either.

United also retain a confidence they will be able to ?sign Jadon Sancho to fill the problem right wing position, though will need to improve to better their chances of securing such a signing.

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Mario Mandzukic Reportedly Agrees Terms With Milan Ahead of Juventus Exit

Juventus forward Mario Mandzukic has reportedly agreed terms with AC Milan over a January transfer, despite continued interest from Manchester United. 

Mandzukic has been linked with a move away from Turin for some time, with United deemed his likeliest destination after attempts over the summer to sign him and the subsequent placing of his name on their recent January transfer shortlist. 

Mario Mandzukic

However, according to a report from Milanese publication Il Giornale, as quoted by Football Italia, the Croatian is now set to join the Rossoneri after agreeing personal terms. 

After missing out on a move to ?United in the summer, the 33-year-old looked all but set to join Qatari side Al Rayyan at the end of September, but the player himself ultimately pulled out of the deal, unconvinced by the switch. 

And now, less than a month later, it seems that his next destination will now be Stefano Pioli’s side, with ?Milan fighting off rivals ?Inter to secure his signature. 

Of course, considering we’re still in October, this signature has not yet been secured, and there is some hesitancy as to whether it will be a January or summer deal, though both would probably prefer the former and the plans have clearly been laid for a San Siro arrival. 

With six goals from seven games, the Rossoneri have the third-worst scoring tally in Serie A so far this season, with Krzysztof Piatek top scorer with just two goals, and only four other goalscorers in total in Hakan Calhanoglu, Franck Kessie and summer signings Rafael Leão and Theo Hernandez.

Pioli, who took over from the dismissed Marco Giampaolo on October 9, will take charge of his first game this weekend against Lecce at San Siro as they hope to finally make a move back up the table.


Ernesto Valverde Insists He Has ‘No Doubt’ That El Clasico Will Go Ahead as Planned Despite Unrest

?Barcelona manager Ernesto Valverde has insisted that he has no doubt that the upcoming El Clasico fixture will be played out as scheduled, but conceded that the club must adhere to whatever decision the Spanish Football Federation takes. 

Barcelona are scheduled to take on Real Madrid at Camp Nou on October 26, however, following the recent events that saw the Spanish government jail nine Catalan separatist leaders over a failed declaration of independence for Catalonia, tensions have risen all around Spain with protestors taking to the streets to voice their disgust over the decision. 

As a result of these recent events, Spanish football ?authorities proposed that the upcoming match be played at the Santiago Bernabeu, but this was rejected by both clubs. Instead, the RFEF have found another date for the fixture to be played on – Wednesday 18 December.

While it is looking increasingly likely that the fixture will be rearranged, ?Barça manager Valverde was quick to state that he believes that the game will go ahead as normal. Speaking at a press conference, ?as quoted by Marca, he claimed: “It is scheduled for October 26 and I have no doubt that it will go ahead without problems, respecting the opponents and everyone else involved.

“I do not know what decision the [Spanish Football] Federation will take. We will do whatever is decided.”

Ernesto Valverde

The coach reiterated that the match isn’t due to take place for another nine days, meaning that there is still plenty of time for the situation to sort itself out without drastic measures needing to be taken.

“There are nine days left until the match and there is [currently] too much talk. The same was said about October 1 [the date of the 2017 Catalan referendum] and a week later we played at the Wanda [Metropolitano] where everyone expected a dramatic event and it ended up being a great game where people expressed themselves without a problem. 

“There is room to manoeuvre. If the match were tomorrow then perhaps [it wouldn’t go ahead], but there are still nine days to go.” 

In the press conference, Valverde also provided an update on the fitness of superstar ?Lionel Messi ahead of La Blaugrana’s upcoming clash with Eibar on Saturday. He said: “He is in the process of being 100 percent fit. The other day he played 90 minutes and scored, that always reassures the strikers.” 

Lionel Messi

The Barça boss drew his press conference to a close by opening up on the recent form of his team and has spoken of his admiration for the way the players have bounced back from a slow start. 

“We have had a difficult time and what I like is that we have been able to react. That is the most important thing. In fact, it is what we have been doing in recent years, overcoming slumps.”

It is not yet known whether the clash between Real Madrid and Barcelona will take place on the scheduled date, but Valverde has confirmed that he believes it will.