Pogba transfer talk of no interest to Barcelona boss Valverde

Barcelona head coach Ernesto Valverde has dismissed speculation the La Liga champions could sign Paul Pogba.

The Manchester United star is reportedly unsettled at Old Trafford amid speculation he has fallen out with manager Jose Mourinho.

Those rumours were strongly denied by Mourinho on Friday, the United boss claiming he has “never been so happy” with the World Cup winner.

Pogba will retain the United captaincy for Sunday’s Premier League game at Brighton but rumours over his long-term future continue to swirl.

Barca have been touted as a potential destination for the France midfielder, with Valverde looking to fill the gap left by departing club icon Andres Iniesta.

But ahead of Saturday’s La Liga opener at home to Deportivo Alaves, Valverde swerved questions about the club’s reported interest in Pogba.

“We do not get into discussions about players of other teams,” Valverde told reporters at a news conference.

“We want them to respect our players and we respect those of others.”

Barca have signed uncapped Brazilian pair Malcom and Arthur in preparation for their title defence, while Arturo Vidal has joined from Bayern Munich.

And while Valverde is open to concluding more deals ahead of the transfer window’s closure, he is satisfied with the squad at his disposal if there are no further arrivals at Camp Nou.

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“I do not stop to compare squads with the previous ones, but I have some extraordinary players,” Valverde added.

“We do not know if the squad is closed or not. We have a good team to face what’s coming, but there’s still time.

“The markets are closing, there are many rumours… but here we will continue until August 31. I’m happy with what I have.”


Guardiola rules out move for Marchisio as De Bruyne cover at Man City

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola will not be making a move for Claudio Marchisio following his release by Juventus, despite losing Kevin De Bruyne for up to three months.

The reigning Premier League champions have seen their Belgium international playmaker laid low by knee ligament damage.

Covering his absence will not be easy, but City have seen Bernardo Silva start the season in impressive style while namesake David is back in training.

As a result, Guardiola is prepared to keep faith with those already at his disposal, rather than look for reinforcements – with a Juve legend among those to have dropped into the free agent pool.

Quizzed about Marchisio, who has bid farewell to Turin after 25 years, the Catalan coach said: “No. First a big comment for his career – he made an amazing career at Juventus and with the national team.

“In December, we are going to see what happens in the [next] transfer window but now the squad is the squad.”

Guardiola has also suggested that a heavy workload is to blame for De Bruyne suffering an untimely knock.

The 27-year-old, who made 52 appearances for City last season, formed part of Belgium’s squad which secured a third-place finish at World Cup 2018 over the summer.

Kevin De Bruyne Manchester City

Guardiola said: “Last season Kevin was outstanding in all terms. For him and his family, these long injuries, you never want it. But you accept it as part of the game.

“They don’t rest. It was a tough, tough season last season. They come back after a short recovery and we demand in the first moment, ‘come on, let’s go’ because we are in the competition.

“Of course, the human beings have a limit and sometimes these kind of things happen.”

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Pressed on whether a lack of rest was a cause of De Bruyne’s setback, Guardiola – who lost Ilkay Gundogan and Benjamin Mendy to cruciate ligament damage in each of the past two seasons – responded: “We’ll never know, I don’t know exactly.

“But my opinion is that we demand a lot of the players for more than 11 months. Immediately they come back and something like this happens.

“I don’t know the reason why, nobody knows, but I’m pretty sure this can influence. When you are fresh here [your head] and fresh in your legs [after] normal vacations and holidays… that doesn’t happen right now. Sometimes these things can happen.”


AC Milan sign Castellijo and Laxalt as Bacca makes permanent Villarreal switch

Samu Castillejo has completed his switch to AC Milan from Villarreal, with Carlos Bacca moving to the Spanish side on a permanent deal.

Milan have been linked with a move for Spanish winger Castillejo throughout the transfer window and announced his arrival via their official website.

Castillejo joined Villarreal from Malaga ahead of the 2015-16 season and the 23-year-old has made 91 LaLiga appearances and scored nine goals for the club.

It has been a busy transfer window for the Rossoneri, who also signed versatile left-sider Diego Laxalt on Friday.

The duo join the likes of Gonzalo Higuain, Mattia Caldara and Tiemoue Bakayoko in moving to San Siro during the transfer window, but Milan have moved to rule out an audacious swoop for Lazio’s much sought after midfielder Sergej Milinkovic-Savic on an initial €40million loan ahead of a permanent switch.

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Meanwhile, Bacca has left Milan permanently for Villarreal on a four-year deal.

The Colombia striker spent the 2017-18 campaign on loan with the club, scoring 15 goals in 35 LaLiga appearances.

Bacca moved to Milan amid much fanfare prior to the 2015-16 campaign and netted 31 times in Serie A for Milan.


KZN Football Academy product joins Luis Boa Morte’s Portimonense in Portugal

KwaZulu Natal Football Academy graduate Sbusiso Shibane has put pen to paper with Portuguese Premier league club Portimonense Sporting Club Under 23 side on an undisclosed fee.

Affectionately known as Mabulala, Shibane signed for Portimonense SC a day after the KZN Academy announced that their three players in Sphephelo Sithole (19), Philani Jaca and Nkanyiso Shinga (both 18) had signed for Vitoria de Setubal of Portugal.

The 19-year-old striker spent approximately six months at Vitoria de Setubal last year, scoring four times in 14 appearances for the Under 19 side.

He was called up to the Victoria Setubal first team for a friendly match against Real Massama in March after playing well in the Portuguese National U19 championship play-offs.

The South Africa U20 international expressed his delight after signing on the dotted line with Portimonense SC.

“I have been treated very well on and off the field. The coaches and players have made me feel welcomed,” Shibane told the KZN Academy. 

“We have combined well with my teammates in the preparation training matches we have played so far, and I am looking forward to making a success of my stay here,” said Shibane.

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At Portimonense SC, the former KZN Football Academy player will be under the tutelage of former Arsenal and Orlando Pirates midfielder Luís Boa Morte, who is coaching the side.

Shibane joins the likes of Luther Singh, Thabo Cele, Simo Mbhele and Mihlali Mayambela, who continue to make South Africa proud in Europe at a very young age.

The KZN Football Academy wished Shibane well in his future at Portimonense.


Klopp: Nobody leaves Liverpool unless I say

Jurgen Klopp says Ragnar Klavan’s Liverpool exit is not yet finalised but insists no player will leave if he feels the Reds’ squad would be weakened.

Estonia centre-back Klavan is on the verge of a £2 million ($2.5m) move to Serie A side Cagliari – as revealed by Goal – having fallen down the pecking order at Anfield.

The arrival of Virgil van Dijk in January, coupled with the fact Joe Gomez is set to play a more prominent role at centre-back this season, has left Klavan seemingly surplus to requirements.

With Dejan Lovren still unavailable due to injury and Joel Matip – who Klopp hopes to have available on Monday against Crystal Palace – working his way back from an upper-leg complaint, the German was asked about the timing of Klavan’s potential sale.

“First of all I didn’t hear anything is finally sorted, so nothing from me on that,” he told a news conference. 

“But I said in general it’s possible people will leave, it always has to be good for all three sides, that’s what we have.

“No player would leave the club if I would not allow it. If, if , he leaves then I said yes to it. That’s how it is.”

Klopp added that he does not have a target in mind in terms of player sales, with transfer windows across Europe still open.

“No [there’s no target], it’s about the situation. It’s about how is the offer,” he added. 

“First of all how is the need for us? Can we give them the opportunity if he wants to leave? Can we do it? Is there an offer or not? 

“That’s a bit of the problem of the window, we close in England and the whole of the European world waited to get good football players [on cheaper deals]. 

“That won’t happen, we’re not in a financial need where we need to do that. We could give a few players the opportunity but there’s no number in my mind at the moment.”

Joe Gomez Jurgen Klopp Liverpool 2017-18

Gomez partnered Van Dijk for the comprehensive 4-0 beating of West Ham in Liverpool’s Premier League opener last week and Klopp hailed his qualities at centre-back.

“I was never in doubt about Joe and his ability to play centre-half but he needed time,” he said. 

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“He had a big injury. He’s fit which is very good, he’s a very good football player and plays the position well. He and Virgil have good understanding. 

“We have others as well, Joel is almost back, hopefully in the squad Monday, Dejan is still a bit injured. 

“If needed, Fabinho can play there as well, but he should obviously play another position. We have enough players, we have to see who fits the opponent best. That he [Gomez] can play the position well, I knew before.”