‘I like this torture!’ – Man Utd & Arsenal-linked Maier ‘living the dream’ at Hertha

Arne Maier is “living the dream” at Hertha and has told Goal that he enjoys the “torture” of trying to maintain the standards which have seen him linked with Arsenal and Manchester United.

At just 19 years of age, the highly-rated midfielder is being billed as one of the most exciting prospects in European football.

He is now an established star in Berlin and a regular for the Germany U21 side, having progressed through the youth levels with his country from the U15 set-up.

Big things are expected of Maier, but he claims to be relishing the challenge of proving himself at the very highest level.

“It is always a nice feeling to be praised,” Maier told Goal.

“But no matter how much I may be praised at the moment, on the field that does not help me. There I am on my own and every time I have to go to my limits and not rest.

“But I want to emphasise that I like this torture. I’m living my dream.”

Maier’s efforts are already seeing him linked with leading sides from the Bundesliga, Premier League and beyond, but that is nothing new for a youngster who was targeted by Ajax, United and Bayern Munich shortly after his 13th birthday.

“Of course, on the one hand, it was a cool feeling that such big clubs were interested in me,” he added.

“On the other hand, I was only 13 years old, had my school in Berlin, my family and my friends, which is why I decided against a change at that time.”

It may be that Maier’s future lies outside of Hertha, with Arsenal and Juventus reported to have joined the hunt for his services, but for now he is fully focused on the present.

That includes trying to earn senior international recognition, with there a number of exciting youngsters knocking on the door of Joachim Low’s Germany squad.

Kai Havertz, Germany, Bayer Leverkusen

Asked to name those most likely to make the breakthrough, Maier said: “First of all Kai Havertz [of Bayer Leverkusen].

“I have known him for several years. He is a good friend of mine and I have followed his development closely.

“But there is not only Havertz, also players like Thilo Kehrer [at Paris Saint-Germain] have a lot of potential and can play an important role in the national team at some point.

“Of course, each of us wants to someday play for Die Mannschaft – me too. That’s the dream.”

If Maier is able to take that step up, then he will be following in the footsteps of a player he has looked to for inspiration throughout his career to date – PSG star Julian Draxler.

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“When I was young I saw on TV how he scored for Schalke in the DFB Cup against Nuremberg and was immediately impressed,” said Maier.

“On the field he has superior quality. He is a great guy that I admire greatly. In my apartment there is one of his jerseys on the wall.”

Maier may soon get the opportunity to grace a jersey alongside Draxler, with it expected that an upward career curve will continue for a hot prospect determined to fulfil his potential.

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Kaka tips bright future for Paqueta after Milan agreement

AC Milan great Kaka has predicted a bright future for Lucas Paqueta as the Flamengo star looks set to move to San Siro.

General manager Leonardo revealed the Serie A side have a “basic agreement” with Flamengo to bring highly rated attacking midfielder Paqueta to Milan in January.

Kaka discussed Paqueta and tried to play down the hype surrounding the two-time Brazil international.

“He’s a player who has a bright future ahead of him,” Kaka – who won the Champions League and Serie A with Milan – told Milan TV.

“He’s already been called up to the Brazilian national team, but it’s better for him that we don’t make comparisons.

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“I’ve seen so many of them in recent days, with me, with [Alexandre] Pato, with Ronaldinho, Cafu, Rivaldo… with all the Brazilians who have been part of Milan’s history.

“We need to avoid these comparisons so he can come here and play calmly and peacefully. I’m confident.”

The 21-year-old – who is set to join Milan in a reported €35million deal – has also been linked with Liverpool, Barcelona and Paris Saint-Germain.

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Usain Bolt earns contract offer from Maltese champions Valletta

Central Coast Mariners trialist Usain Bolt has a two-year contract offer from Valletta, the Maltese champions have confirmed.

Former sprint king and eight-time Olympic champion Bolt – on trial with Australian side the Mariners in his bid to fulfil his dream of becoming a professional footballer – was linked with an unnamed European club following his two-goal haul on Friday.

Bolt scored twice in his first start against Macarthur South West United before the 32-year-old Jamaican’s agent Tony Rallis revealed a two-year deal was on the table.

Now Valletta, who were taken over by Abu Dhabi-based Sanban Group in September, want Bolt to spearhead their Champions League aspirations.

“A champion is always welcome and at Valletta FC we believe nothing is impossible,” Valletta managing director and CEO Ghasston Slimen told ESPN.

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Bolt – who retired from track and field in 2017 – has been training with A-League outfit the Mariners since August.

He previously spent time training with Bundesliga giants Borussia Dortmund, Mamelodi Sundowns and Stromsgodset 

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Maltese champions Valletta want Usain Bolt

Central Coast Mariners trialist Usain Bolt has a two-year contract offer from Valletta, the Maltese champions confirmed.

Former sprint king and eight-time Olympic champion Bolt – on trial with Australian side the Mariners in his bid to fulfil his dream of becoming a professional footballer – was linked with an unnamed European club following his two-goal haul on Friday.

Bolt scored twice in his first start against Macarthur South West United before the 32-year-old Jamaican’s agent Tony Rallis revealed a two-year deal was on the table.

Now Valletta, who were taken over by Abu Dhabi-based Sanban Group in September, want Bolt to spearhead their Champions League aspirations.

“A champion is always welcome and at Valletta FC we believe nothing is impossible,” Valletta managing director and CEO Ghasston Slimen told ESPN.

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Bolt – who retired from track and field in 2017 – has been training with A-League outfit the Mariners since August.

He previously spent time training with Bundesliga giants Borussia Dortmund, Mamelodi Sundowns and Stromsgodset 

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‘Real Madrid need to sign Icardi immediately’ – Capello urges swoop for Inter striker

Real Madrid should be looking to sign Inter striker Mauro Icardi “immediately”, claims former Blancos boss Fabio Capello.

The Liga giants have found goals hard to come by this season, with a four-game winless run seeing them fail to trouble the scorers.

It is now being suggested that a new frontman could be sought during the January transfer window, with proven cover still required for the departed Cristiano Ronaldo.

Capello believes that search should lead Real to Italy, with Icardi – who finished as the joint-top scorer in Serie A last season – the perfect choice for a misfiring Madrid side.

“I am a fan of his,” Capello told Radio Rai.

“He is a specialist in the penalty area, as was Cristiano Ronaldo, and if you put three balls in the area he hits all three.

“If I were Real Madrid, I would sign him immediately.”

Icardi, who Inter are hoping to tie to fresh terms in the near future, has managed 112 goals in 190 appearances for Inter.

The Argentina international will be hoping to add to that tally when he returns to domestic action in a derby date with AC Milan on Sunday.

That contest will see a potential Madrid striker of the future pitched into direct competition with a proven striker of their past.

Higuain Milan Chievo

Icardi’s countryman, Gonzalo Higuain, is currently starring for the Rossoneri after completing a summer loan switch from Juventus.

Capello worked with him at Real in 2007 and is a big fan of the qualities that the 30-year-old offers.

“He had the great quality of always finding the goal,” added the ex-Juve and England coach.

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“That means he had coordination, mentality and technical abilities.

“Now he’s improved even more because he participates in the action, and playing in Europe has helped him.

“He’s a very interesting person on a human level and he’s always been a good guy.”

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