Bolt rejects offer to join Maltese side Valletta

Usain Bolt has rejected a two-year deal with Maltese champions Valletta, the eight-time Olympic champion’s agent has confirmed.

The Jamaican has been trying to earn a contract with Central Coast Mariners and scored twice in a trial match last Friday.

With the A-League season beginning this weekend, Bolt’s future with the Australian club remains unclear.

However, agent Ricky Simms said his client had decided against a move to Malta, with Valletta having gone public in their pursuit of the 32-year-old. 

Simms told Omnisport: “There is a lot of interest in Usain playing football. We are regularly approached by clubs from all over the world.   

“The only difference with the latest offer is that it was made through the media. 

“I can confirm that Usain does not want to pursue the opportunity in Malta.”

Valletta, who were taken over by Abu Dhabi-based Sanban Group in September, wanted 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 .

Central Coast Mariners chief executive Shaun Mielekamp is unsure if the club will try to land Bolt on a permanent deal, saying last week: “We have genuinely treated Usain like we would have any other trialist. He’s been training hard with us and he showed weaknesses, but he also showed his strengths and got two goals, so all credit to him.

“Whether it sways the outcome, it’s too early to tell. We will now liaise heavily with our sporting director Mike Phelan, who is due back in the country shortly.”

Bolt himself was left unhappy following a recent Mariners game after he was picked to take a doping test, much to his surprise.

“How am I going to get a drug test today? I’m not even a professional footballer yet. Seriously,” he said on Instagram.

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“So I asked the lady, ‘Why am I getting drug tested when I haven’t signed for a club yet?’ and she said they told her I’m an elite athlete so I have to get tested.”

Bolt, who retired from track and field in 2017, has been training with the Mariners since August.

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


Agent of Chelsea-linked Genoa sensation Piatek confirms ‘contact with a few clubs’

The agent of reported Chelsea target Krzysztof Piatek insists that Genoa have yet to receive any offers for the striker.

Piatek has been in deadly form this season, scoring 13 goals in eight games in all competitions, including nine in Serie A.

That tally makes the Poland international the top goalscorer in the Italian top-flight, having scored three more than Napoli’s Lorenzo Insigne, four more than Lazio’s Ciro Immobile and five more than Juventus superstar Cristiano Ronaldo.

His goalscoring exploits have led to reports that Chelsea could make a bid worth £60 million (€68m/$78m) for the 23-year-old, who joined the club from Polish top-flight side Cracovia.

Tomasz Magdziarz, his agent, says his success has come about as a result of his down-to-earth personality, but he maintains there is yet to be any formal interest in his services.

Asked by Goal why he has hit the ground running, he said: “I think because he is a very modest person. He has had a big impact in Serie A but he stays himself to everyone.

“We are in contact with a few clubs but we never give any information about it to the press.”

However, Magdziarz also says Piatek, who has already been compared to Bayern Munich striker Robert Lewandowski, is not closing the door on a move to the Premier League.

“Serie A is his home at this moment but we dont know what future will bring,” he added.

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Genoa’s chairman, Enrico Preziosi, has also confirmed that clubs are interested in signing Piatek, and he is expecting the striker to eventually leave his side.

“We are already full of phone calls for him, I’m sure that [a top club] will take him away from us,” he told Gazzetta dello Sport.

“I will decide the price, but a lot of Italian and top European clubs are interested in our player.”


African All Stars Transfer News & Rumours: Thomas Partey considering Atletico Madrid exit

Partey considering Atletico Madrid exit

Atletico Madrid midfielder Thomas Partey is considering a January exit from the club, Marca reports.

The 25-year-old has started just two La Liga matches so far this season and he is said to be considering a move elsewhere for more playing time.

Arsenal and PSG are the likely destinations the Ghana international if he leaves in January.

No Colorado move for Anichebe

Colorado Rapids have ruled out a potential move for former Sunderland and Everton forward VIctor Anichebe, MLSsoccer claims.

Although the Nigeria international trained with the MLS outfit during his stay in the United States in September, coach Anthony Hudson is not interested in bolstering his squad with the 30-year-old.

Napoli snub Man Utd’s €45m offer for Ghoulam

Napoli have rejected Manchester United’s €45m offer for left-back Faouzi Ghoulam, according to Radio Kiss Kiss via Calciomercato .

The reports claimed that the Serie A side are keen on keeping the player who moved from Saint-Etienne to Italy in 2014.

The Algeria international just returned from a lengthy spell on the sidelines after he tore his ACL in a Uefa Champions League clash against Manchester City last year.

Arsenal plot Sarr move

Arsenal are plotting a move for Rennes star Ismaila Sarr as they plan for the future at the Emirates Stadium, Mirror claims.

The Senegalese winger has scored three goals across all competitions this term and the French Ligue 1 side are set to cash in on him next summer.

Barcelona are among the clubs interested in the 20-year-old.

 Diop turns down Senegal & Morocco offers

West Ham United midfielder Issa Diop has revealed that he is ready to play for only France at the international level.

The 20-year-old who switched to the Premier League in the summer, was in Toulouse to a Senegalese father and a Morrocan mother.

More to follow on Goal… 

Sunderland & Ndong agree on ‘amicable’ exit

Sunderland have announced reaching ‘amicable terms’ with Didier Ndong as he departs the club.

The 24-year-old’s contract was terminated last month despite returning to the Stadium of Light after going AWOL.

Read the club’s statement on Goal !

Galatasaray offer Niasse escape route

Galatasaray are set to offer Oumar Niasse an escape route after a torrid time at Everton this season, according to Fanatik  via Talksport.

The Senegalese striker could bid the Premier League farewell in January after falling down the pecking order in Marcos Silva’s attacking options.

The 28-year-old has been limited to just one start and five substitute appearances this season and Galatasaray are ready to bid again for him after the Toffees turned down a loan move in the summer.

Bakambu on Tottenham’s radar

Tottenham are interested in signing Beijing Guoan star Cedric Bakambu in the ‘very near future’, L’est Republican claims.

Spurs are said to see the DR Congo international as a backup striker for Harry Kane who spearheads the club’s attack.

Bakambu moved to China from Villarreal in January and he has been a key player in Roger Schmidt’s squad who are placed fourth in the Chinese Super League.

The 27-year-old has scored 19 goals in 23 appearances for the Imperial Guards so far in his debut season.

Newcastle monitor Camara

Newcastle United scouts monitored Olympiakos midfielder Mady Camara in action during Sunday’s Greek league game against AEK Athens, Sport in a Storm reports.

The 21-year-old who has featured in 11 games for the Karaiskakis Stadium outfit across all competitions this season, caught the eye of the Magpies with his impressive display in Olympiakos’ Europa League match against Burnley back in August.

The Red and Whites are close to tying Camara to a new five-year deal, that will hike his wages in an attempt to snub interest from the Premier League club.

Roma still keen on Ziyech

Roma are still interested in signing Ajax star Hakim Ziyech, according to Calciomercato .

The Serie A side were heavily linked with the Morocco playmaker in the summer but could not finalise a five-year deal with the Dutch Footballer of the Year before the close of the transfer window.

Ziyech has had an impressive start to the 2018-19 campaign with four goals and three assists in eight league games.

Tottenham & Arsenal monitor Bailly

Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal are monitoring Manchester United defender Eric Bailly who has struggled for playing time this season, Daily Star reports.

Mauricio Pochettino is reportedly an admirer of the 24-year-old while Unai Emery has known the former Villarreal centre-back from his stint in the Spanish La Liga as Sevilla boss.

Bailly has been restricted to just three Premier League starts this season and was replaced after 19 minutes of Saturday’s 3-2 comeback win over Newcastle United.

Crystal Palace target Kanon

Crystal Palace are set to make a bid for ADO Den Haag and Ivorian defender Wilfried Kanon in January, the Sun reports.

The 24-year-old centre-back tops the Eagles’ shopping list as they look to strengthen their defence during the winter transfer window.

Kanon is still under contract with the Eredivisie club until 2022 but could be tempted to link up with compatriot Wilfried Zaha at Selhurst Park.

Barca considering move for Koulibaly

Barcelona are set to move for Napoli defender Kalidou Koulibaly if a deal for Ajax’s Matthijs De Ligt falls through, Fussball claims via Mundo Deportivo .

Ernesto Valverde’s side are ready to cash in on De Ligt as a long-term replacement for Gerard Pique but still have their eyes fixed on the Senegalese defender, RB Leipzig’s Dayot Upamecano and Inter Milan’s Milan Skriniar as alternatives.

The representatives of the La Liga club were said to be in the Stadio San Paolo specifically to watch Koulibaly in action in Napoli’s 1-0 victory over Liverpool in their last Champions League game.

Tomori to miss Chelsea return

Chelsea are set to turn down Derby County’s request to play Fikayo Tomori when both teams in the Carabao Cup later this month,according to Standard Sport .

Tomori and Mason Mount are Chelsea loanees who played crucial roles in helping Derby knockout Manchester United from the Cup competition last month.

The Rams will visit the Stamford Bridge on October 31 for the round of 16 fixture and the the Anglo-Nigerian who is on a season-long loan with Frank Lampard’s side, could miss the encounter if his parent club do not permit him.

Bayern join Pepe’s chase

Bayern Munich have Arsenal and Manchester United in the pursuit of highly-rated Lille star Nicolas Pepe, according to Sport Bild .

The Ivorian forward has been in sensational form in the Ligue 1 this season with six goals in nine appearances.

The German champions are set to hold talks with the £30m-rated winger in the coming weeks ahead of the winter transfer window.

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Napoli set Koulibaly price

Napoli are demanding for over €100million for Senegal’s Kalidou Koulibaly, Corriere dello Sport claims.

Despite rejecting an offer of €100million from a Premier League club in the summer , the Serie A are reportedly opened to offers for the 27-year-old who recently signed a new five-year contract with the club.

Several European clubs have monitored Koulibaly over the years including Barcelona who travelled to Italy to see the defender in action against Liverpool on Wednesday.


Who is Nicolo Barella? Italy’s €50m midfield sensation wanted in Milan and being watched by Man Utd

On Sunday evening, Inter and AC Milan will collide on the field in the first Derby della Madonnina of the new season.

Off the field, though, the pair are embroiled in another battle, one which has only intensified and grown during the international break.

After making an impressive start to his Italy career, Nicolo Barella is now undoubtedly one of the most coveted young players in world football, with both Milan clubs, Juventus and Roma all fighting for his signature.

In addition, Manchester United have scouted the 21-year-old ace several times, while Atletico Madrid tried everything to persuade Cagliari to part company with their home-grown hero last season only for club president Tommaso Giulini to refuse to sell.

Anyone who watched Italy’s 1-0 win over Poland on Sunday night would have seen just why Barella has attracted the attention of some of Europe’s biggest clubs.

He was the best player on the pitch at the Silesian Stadium – no mean feat given he started in midfield alongside Chelsea pass-master Jorginho and Paris Saint-Germain star Marco Verratti. 

Azzurri coach Roberto Mancini was effusive in his praise of Barella’s performance in what was only his second appearance for his country, while Fabio Capello compared him to the legendary Marco Tardelli.

“Barella’s the player who can change the tempo in midfield,” the former Italy boss told Radio Anch’io Sport .

“He gives something more in terms of quality and quantity, which we lacked before. 

“He reminds me a bit of Tardelli on a dynamic level.”

Nicolo Barella Capello Italy PS

Barella’s industry is undeniably impressive. 

Blessed with incredible stamina, he gets through an impressive amount of work in the middle of the park and, in that sense, it’s easy to understand why two midfielders-turned-coaches in Gennaro Gattuso and Diego Simeone are both so enamoured with him.

No outfield player in Serie A has made more recoveries than Barella this season (72), while only five players have won more tackles than him (16). Only one midfielder has made more interceptions, while he ranks fourth in terms of duels won. 

However, there is more to his game than tenacious tackling and a relentless pursuit of possession. Barella is also both talented and brave on the ball.

At just 21, he has already developed into a leader at Cagliari, a player willing to take charge of the game. Only six midfielders in all of Serie A have had more touches than he this season (557), which only serves to underline his importance to the Cagliari side, while his long, raking, right-footed passes are a feature of every game the Sardinians play. 

He is willing to take players on too. He has completed more dribbles (8) than wingers Douglas Costa and Ivan Perisic (6), while he has created more chances (12) than the likes of Radja Nainggolan (9) and Sergej Milinkovic-Savic (9). 

As an aggressive, indefatigable midfielder lining out for Cagliari, comparisons have obviously already been made with Nainggolan and Barella admits that he is just as committed as the Belgian.

“I think people say we’re similar because we always give 100 per cent on the field,” the youngster reasoned. “I hope to have a career like his but I still have so much to learn to reach those levels.”

Nicolò Barella Poland Italy UEFA Nations League

Indeed, while Barella is also versatile like Nainggolan, capable of playing anywhere in a midfield three or as an attacking midfielder because of his excellent vision and technique, he knows that he needs to score more.

The Gazzetta dello Sport once labelled him ‘The Sardinian Steven Gerrard’ but, in truth, he has yet to find goals as easy to come by as the former Liverpool captain. Still, he is improving in that regard, hitting six in 34 Serie A outings last season. 

There has also been constant speculation linking him with a move to Anfield, sparking giddy talk that Liverpool could use Barella’s love of their most famous stakeholder, basketball superstar Lebron James, to lure him to Merseyside, but Goal understands that the Reds are happy with their midfield options right now and have told Giulini that they will not be meeting his €50m asking price.

Essentially, Liverpool have no intention of being lured into a bidding war, particularly after spending over £100m strengthening their midfield with the recent acquisitions of Naby Keita and Fabinho. 

That is not to say that Barella will not end up in the Premier League, though.

As a proud Sardinian who took his first steps towards becoming a professional at the football school founded by Cagliari legend Gigi Riva, he loves both his club and his city, but he has made no secret for his fondness of the physicality of the English game.

Nicolo Barella Premier League PS

“If I had to choose between Serie A and the Premier League, I’d go for England, because I like the way they approach the game,” he told the Gazzetta dello Sport . “Plus everyone there is just as irritable and prone to fouls as me!”

Still, while Barella may be a combative character on the field, he could not be more agreeable off it.

Even though he is only 21, he is already married with a daughter and is renowned for his down-to-earth nature and humility. 

Indeed, the kid that once said his dream was just to “have a nice garden and a pool” met his idol Dejan Stankovic four years ago and “wasn’t brave enough to say anything to him”.

He doesn’t lack courage when playing football, though, admitting that he felt “no pressure” whatsoever ahead of his Italy debut against Ukraine.

His subsequent performances certainly supported that claim, with Barella exhibiting a composure and nerve that is rare in someone so young. 

“He is extraordinary,” Cagliari coach Rolando Maran enthused after last month’s draw with AC Milan.

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“I put him as a playmaker in front of the defence towards the end and he didn’t put a foot wrong. He just gets better and better. 

“He is a player who is ready to be a key figure in the Nazionale going forward.”

He’s already showing that. The next step will be proving he can cut it at a top club. His chance will come too. It’s merely a question of when and where.


Juventus join race for Barcelona & Man City target De Ligt

Juventus have joined Barcelona and Manchester City in the race to sign Ajax defender Matthijs De Ligt, Goal understands.

The Netherlands international has become one of the most sought-after players in world football, with numerous elite clubs tracking his progress at the Dutch giants.

Goal understands that both Barca and City have registered their interest in signing the 19-year-old, who would cost upwards of €50 million (£43m/$57m), and that the Premier League champions began laying the groundwork for a move towards the end of last season.

Barca see the player as the next Gerard Pique, but De Ligt is under contract until 2021 – with Ajax having the option to extend that for a further year – and appears in no rush to make a decision over his future.

Juve’s interest, however, may complicate matters for both Barca and City, with the club working alongside agent Mino Raiola to negotiate a price for De Ligt.

The Serie A giants are keen to bolster their defensive ranks, with Andrea Barzagli set to leave the club at the end of the season, and Medhi Benatia and Daniele Rugani potentially expendable.

Juve’s sporting director Fabio Paratici has thus identified De Ligt as the best possible purchase option in either January or next summer, though both the Italian side, and Barca, would struggle to match the financial muscle of Pep Guardiola’s City.

De Ligt is highly-rated across Europe, and Ajax CEO Edwin van der Sar, the former Manchester United goalkeeper, waxed lyrical about the potential of the defender earlier this year.

“He looks like he’s been doing this for six or seven years,” Van der Sar said in an exclusive interview with Goal. “Matthijs is very mature for his age: he has the physique of a 24-year-old.

“He is also strong with both feet, has an extremely good range of passing, can head the ball, scores goals and is a real leader at the back already at the age of 18.

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“He came into the first team last year and has never looked back.”

De Ligt is already Ajax captain, and has played 14 games for the club this season, while he has also won 11 caps for the Netherlands.

As reported by Goal, Barca and City are also going head-to-head for one of De Ligt’s Ajax team-mates, Frenkie De Jong, with both sides believing the other has the advantage in negotiations.