Liverpool ‘Closely Tracking’ Lille’s Boubakary Soumaré Amid Real Madrid Competition

?Liverpool are closely tracking Lille midfielder Boubakary Soumaré, with the French club braced for a bidding war from a selection of Europe’s top clubs this summer. 

The 21-year-old French starlet has become one of Europe’s hottest properties in recent months, with Real Madrid, Manchester United, Chelsea and even Newcastle among those linked.

According to ?SPORT, Jurgen Klopp is ‘in love’ with ?the exciting French midfield starlet, while the report adds that ?Liverpool actually made an approach for the player last summer. 

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It is said that Liverpool began negotiating with Les Dogues over a prospective ?transfer in summer 2019 but the deal didn’t go through as Soumaré decided to stay in Ligue 1 for another year. The Reds are, however, still ‘closely tracking’ the player with a view to a future bid.

Since then, the young star – who has made 20 appearances this season – has picked up a host of other suitors.

Real Madrid president Florentino Pérez is said to be a fan, as he and current manager Zinedine Zidane attempt to reconfigure an ageing midfield, while Soumaré is seen as a possible Casemiro successor.

While SPORT note that Premier League rivals Chelsea and Man Utd are also taking notice, more surprising is the interest of Newcastle United. The Magpies were shock suitors for Soumaré in January and even came close to reaching a deal before the player decided to stay put.

Boubakary Soumare

Read More: Boubakary Soumaré: 7 Things to Know About the Lille Star Linked With Premier League’s Elite 

?Recent reports say that Steve Bruce’s side are refusing to give up in the transfer battle, despite competition from bigger clubs like Madrid and Liverpool.

Prior to the coronavirus-enforced footballing hiatus, 21-year-old Soumaré had been forced to settle for more places on the Lille bench of late, which SPORT suggest may strengthen his resolve to leave this summer.

Any sale of the France Under-21 international – whose contract runs until 2022 – will likely result in another big windfall for Lille, following last summer’s sale of Nicolas Pépé to ?Arsenal for £72m.

Nicolas Pepe,Pablo Fornals

SPORT’s article puts the former PSG youth team player’s price tag at around (£35m) but concede that the current climate may affect that valuation.

Liverpool are reported to have put transfer plans on hold for the time being, as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

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6 Clubs Who Should Look to Sign Brentford Hotshot Ollie Watkins This Summer

?Is your club screaming out for a clinical finisher who reacts to a loose ball in the box like a labrador chasing a frisbee, and scores some of the most graceful headers you’ve ever seen?

Then look no further than Ollie Watkins, the man who was busy tearing the English second tier a new one with Brentford before all organised forms of football completely evaporated.

Even before the likely effect of the coronavirus outbreak on matchday revenue in the English football pyramid, Watkins was one of a number of names at Championship clubs tipped to move this summer.

Here’s a gander at some Premier League (and soon-to-be Premier League?) clubs that could benefit from the Championship second top scorer’s services.


Crystal Palace

Kiko Femenia,Wilfried Zaha

The Eagles are the current favourite to sign up the versatile attacker, and Watkins making the short trip to Selhurst from Hounslow might solve a problem that they’ve had for a few years now.

It’s not exactly a secret that the striker slot at Palace is thoroughly cursed, and a bright season from Jordan Ayew hasn’t been matched by Christian Benteke or Cenk Tosun.

To really make the step up that has looked occasionally possible under Roy Hodgson, they need a player who can unlock the latent creativity within the squad.

Watkins, a man whose formidable attacking IQ helps keep him on the same wavelength as his fellow quick-thinking and quick-footed forward Sergi Canos, Bryan Mbuemo and Saïd Benrahma at Brentford, could be the perfect goalscoring foil to the nimble Wilfried Zaha.


Spurs

Daniel Levy

One of the biggest failings of Daniel Levy, when he had the footballing meal ticket that was Mauricio Pochettino at his disposal, was failing to buy a solid, youngish backup centre forward.

Fernando Llorente was a sometimes-useful battering ram, Clinton N’Jié was frustrated by injury setbacks and Vincent Janssen…well, who knows

If Mourinho fancies a possible cut-price solution to this dilemma, which has made it hard for Spurs to compete on multiple fronts in the past, the home-grown Watkins should be one of the first names on his shopping list.

The former Exeter man’s mobility would allow Spurs to switch to a more ‘modern’ front three where necessary, while he stylistically doesn’t differ too much from Kane as a focal point for inviting crosses (and, if this isn’t too controversial, his arrival would give the England captain a rest for once).


Arsenal

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang

There’s one downside for Spurs fans here, and that’s that Watkins basically wears Arsenal pyjamas.

The childhood Gooner would be a solid addition to a forward line which may be in need of a reboot if Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang were to leave for pastures new.

Watkins might start out as a rotation option at the Emirates, fans would be salivating over a potential Europa League link-up between himself and a progressive wing-back like Bukayo Saka…FC Metalist Kharkiv, watch out! 


West Ham

David Sullivan,David Gold

Let’s be honest, every single West Ham transfer over the past few years looks like it’s been drawn out of a hat, and their recruitment team are clearly lagging behind their peers in the Premier League.

The solution? Just take a player from a Brentford side notorious for specialising in clever recruitment and nerdy stuff like advanced analytics, and have your homework done for you.

Sébastien Haller is much better than people give him credit for, but the forward still looks slightly too one-dimensional in certain matches and needs competition for his place.

With promising early signs from Jarrod Bowen, could the Hammers dip into the Championship again to construct a new-look side?


Brighton

Brighton are a certified ‘Fun Team’, and it’s always a pleasure to tune into Match of the Day and catch up with the continuing adventures of Neal Maupay, Aaron Mooy, Leandro Trossard and co.

But clearly, the aim next season for an ambitious manager such as Graham Potter is to transform the Seagulls from Fun to Good, and translating a possession-heavy approach into goals should be the first aim.

In a recent creditable 0-0 draw at Wolves, Brighton enjoyed 57% of possession away from home but could only manage a single shot on target.

While Neal Maupay has had an impressive debut season, could a reunion with his effervescent Brentford buddy Watkins give Brighton the fizz they need to reach the next level?


Leeds

Patrick Bamford

Clearly I’m speaking in hypotheticals here, but if the season were allowed to finish and if the Whites finally got promoted after ages and ages in the wilderness, this would make a lot of sense.

First and foremost because Leeds annoying everyone in the Championship this season and then coming back to annoy them more from the Premier League would be typically on-brand.

But also because anyone who has watched more than five minutes of the man will tell you that Patrick Bamford will once more be out of his league in the top-flight, while Jean-Kévin Augustin will likely need some support in what would be one of the Premier League’s more cautiously-financed sides.

If Bielsa stays at Leeds, it’s undoubtedly the place to be for a young footballer looking to make their next big stride, and Watkins’ ability to get on the end of tight rebounds could tip the margins in the Argentine’s favour in return.


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On This Day in Football History – 5 April: Macheda Scores on Debut, Arsenal Win the Cup & More

?There’s not a lot of football to look forward to right now, but there is an awful lot to look back on.

April has been a day for wonder goals, cup finals and even Premier League promotion over the years, creating some of the best storylines which are still remembered to this day.

So, who’s ready for a trip down memory lane?


1987 – Arsenal End Their Trophy Drought

Arsenal hadn’t won a major honour throughout the 1980s, but they were able to end that drought in the League Cup – then known as Littlewoods Cup – against Liverpool.

Ian Rush actually put Liverpool into the lead, but Charlie Nicholas was the hero as Arsenal ended an eight-year run without a trophy, scoring both goals for George Graham’s side at Wembley.


1998 – Alan Shearer Sends Newcastle to Wembley

Alan Shearer

For Newcastle United, it’s no surprise that it was hometown hero Alan Shearer who ended their 24-year wait for a trip to Wembley in the FA Cup final, back in 1998.

The Magpies enjoyed some success in the competition in the 1950s, as well as even earlier in the 20th century, but Newcastle hadn’t reached a final since 1974, where they were on the wrong end of a 3-0 scoreline against Liverpool.

Newcastle went on to lose the final in 1998 too, but it was Alan Shearer’s goal against Sheffield United which gave fans in the northeast their long-awaited day out in the sun at Wembley.


2005 – Luis García’s Wondergoal Against Juventus

Luis García might not be remembered as much of a Premier League great outside of Liverpool, but when the Spaniard came up with the goods, he always managed it in the most spectacular style.

He’d scored in both Champions League last-16 games against Bayer Leverkusen when the Reds were drawn up against Juventus in the next round, where García set up Sami Hyypiä’s opener before scoring one of the best goals ever in Europe’s elite competition.

Liverpool didn’t get up to anything else spectacular in the Champions League during the 2004/05 season, did they?


2009 – Federico Macheda Achieves Immortality

Manchester United's Federico Macheda (C)

Perhaps like no one else throughout history, Federico Macheda’s career has been defined by two touches of a football.

The first, on his Manchester United debut, was to create some space away from the defender with a classy spin, almost akin to Johan Cruyff’s classic turn, inside the Aston Villa penalty area.

Macheda followed that up with a shot, which curled into the far corner of the net to give Manchester United a 93rd-minute winner. 

Poetry in motion.


2014 – Gareth Bale Punishes Claudio Bravo From Range

Gareth Bale,Carlos Martinez

Asier Illarramendi opened the scoring against his boyhood club after swapping Real Sociedad for Real Madrid before the start of the season, but it was Gareth Bale’s second-half strike which stole the show in San Sebastián.

The Welshman capitalised on a mistake from Claudio Bravo to fire in Real Madrid’s second of the match from distance, while Pepe and Álvaro Morata padded out the scoreline in the last few minutes of the match.

Bravo, famously, never made another mistake in his career. 


2014 – Leicester City Get Promoted

Bolton Wanderers v Leicester City - Sky Bet Championship

Although they had to wait a few more weeks to wrap up the Championship title, Leicester City were able to secure automatic promotion on this day in 2014.

Just two years later, they’d lift the Premier League title.


2015 – Jermain Defoe Wins the Tyne-Wear Derby

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Any goal that wins a local derby is remembered for years, but Jermain Defoe’s was special.

It was first-half added time when Costel Pantilimon lumped the ball forward for one last attack before the break, aiming for the big frame of Steven Fletcher, who could then knock the ball on for one of Sunderland’s other attackers.

And that’s exactly what happened. But rather than take a touch, Defoe took a shot early and fired a left-footed volley into the top corner of Tim Krul’s net, giving Sunderland all three points in the Tyne-Wear derby – a fixture Newcastle haven’t won since 2011.


2017 – Antonio Conte Makes History Over Pep Guardiola

Josep Guardiola,Antonio Conte

Antonio Conte’s time at Chelsea didn’t come to an amicable end, but the Italian was able to make history during his time at Stamford Bridge.

During the 2016/17 season, Conte became the first manager to ever win both league games against a Pep Guardiola side, winning 3-1 away from home before completing the historic achievement with a 2-1 win at home.


2018 – Aaron Ramsey Stuns the Emirates in Europa League

FBL-EUR-C3-ARSENAL-CSKA MOSCOW

Aaron Ramsey left Arsenal with a wonderfully symmetrical 65 goals and 65 assists to his name, but the Wales international’s best arguably came during the club’s run in the Europa League in the 2017/18 season.

Ramsey actually scored twice when CSKA Moscow visited north London in the quarter finals, as well as having another ruled out for offside, and it was that second goal which will be remembered by Arsenal fans for quite some time.

The ball broke to Mesut Özil on the edge of the area who crossed the ball towards Ramsey, and the Welshman produced an unorthodox chip over Igor Akinfeev when left the home crowd with their heads in their hands in amazement.


For more from Ben Carter, follow him on Twitter!

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Kyle Walker Apologises Amid Reports of ‘Sex Party’ at Manchester Flat

Manchester City defender Kyle Walker has apologised after reports emerged that he had hosted a ‘sex party’ at his Manchester home last month. 

The UK is on lockdown due to the ongoing Covid-19 crisis, and footballers, including ?Walker, have urged fans to follow the government’s advice and stay home unless absolutely necessary. 

A report originating in ?The Sun, however, claimed that just a day prior to asking fans to stay indoors in an interview, Walker had invited two sex workers and a friend round to his flat – for what they sensationally described as a three-hour ‘sex party’


The incident is alleged to have taken place on Tuesday 23 March at around 10.30pm.

In an impassioned apology published by ?The Guardian, the 29-year-old said: ?“I want to take this opportunity to issue a public apology for the choices I made last week.

“I understand that my position as a professional footballer brings the responsibility of being a role model. As such, I want to apologise to my family, friends, football club, supporters and the public for letting them down.”

?Manchester City then swiftly released a statement confirming they would investigate the allegations, saying they are ‘disappointed.’

Kyle Walker

“Manchester City are aware of a story in a tabloid newspaper regarding the private life of Kyle Walker in relation to a breach of the UK lockdown and social distancing rules.

“Footballers are global role models and our staff and players have been working to support the incredible efforts of the NHS and other key workers in fighting the effects of the Covid-19 coronavirus, in any way we can. 

“Kyle’s actions in this matter have directly contravened these efforts. We are disappointed to hear the allegations, note Kyle’s swift statement and apology, and will be conducting an internal disciplinary procedure.”

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The Best Players Ever to Wear Each Shirt Number at Milan

AC Milan is undoubtedly one of the most illustrious clubs in world history. 

In their 121 years existence, the Milanese club have claimed 50 major honours. Not just successful on Italian soil, they have conquered abroad too. 

The club has no less than 14 international honours including seven European Cups and four World titles. To reach such heights, the club has needed some top talent over the years. 

AC Milan Players forming a wall

Though in something of a recent rut, Milan is synonymous with quality players, while the club boasted three consecutive winners of the Ballon d’Or in 1987, 1988, and 1989. In fact, in 1988 and 1989, the top three shortlisted players were all Milan stars. 

Choosing a starting XI based on the very best to wear each number for the famous black and red stripes is more an embarrassment of riches rather than slim pickings.


1. Sebastiano Rossi


A tough decision ?right out the gate, but the serial winner of the 90s, Sebastiano Rossi, gets the gloves. In a competitive group, Rossi knocked away competition from Lorenzo Buffon, cousin of Gianluigi, and Fabio Cudicini, father of Carlo. The goalkeepers’ union keeps it in the family.

Rossi’s achievements and honours are obscene. Five ?Scudetti. Three Supercoppe Italiana. Two Uefa Super Cups. An Intercontinental Cup and a ?European Cup. The record for fewest goals conceded in a campaign with 11 to boot.

Rossi did end his ?Rossoneri career acrimoniously by decking Christain Bucchi but it’s good to have a goalkeeper on the edge… 


2. Mauro Tassotti

Arrigo Sacchi’s Milan changed the face of modern football with a tactical revolution. The concept of a modern fullback was invented and Mauro Tassotti duly filled that role for 17 years. 

Tassotti’s tactical awareness and quality on the ball meant that he was often employed in midfield – a Lahm before Lahm if you will. 

A winner of five Scudetti and four ?Champions Leagues, Tassotti was an everpresent during the golden 80-90s era. Tassotti made a cool 583 appearances in a Milan shirt, the fourth-highest at the club. 

Not content with only winning on the pitch, Il Tasso did it off the pitch too as an assistant for Carlo Ancellotti.


3. Paolo Maldini

Captain Paolo Maldini if Milan lifts the trophy

?Il Capitano needs no introduction. Milan’s iconic number three has only one incumbent.

Paolo is part of a footballing family that have provided three generations of Milan footballers, begging the question, what deal did Cesare make with the devil?

Paolo made his debut at 17 and finished playing regular first-team football at 41. Stamina, technique, heart; just some of the qualities that this once in a generation talent possessed.  

Maldini’s number three became only the second number retired by the club.


4. Demetrio Albertini

Demetrio Albertini and Edgar Davids

Following a loan spell at Padova in 1990, Fabio Capello drafted Demetrio Albertini into his starting XI to play as a deep-lying playmaker the following season. 

To say the season went well would be an understatement. His first season in the team, the Rossoneri went unbeaten in the league campaign. 

Albertini would make over 300 appearances for ?Milan and win 14 major honours.

Albertini was a technically very gifted player that possessed a brilliant range of passing, shooting and adept free-kicks.


5. ?Alessandro Costacurta


Utilising four key players, Sacchi and Capello reimagined the pinnacle of defending during the 80s and 90s. While there were cutting-edge tactical changes and plenty of innovative thinking, it didn’t half help to have Tassotti, Maldini, Franco Baresi and Alessandro Costacurta.

‘Billy’ Costacurta made 663 appearances during 21 years at the club, winning it all. Seven Scudetti and five Champions Leagues punctuate a career that included 24 honours. Elite.

Alessandro Nesta might also have made claim to this centre-back position as the chiselled star glided around the pitch, rekindling memories of previously sturdy Milan defences. However, Nesta had to be different and went with 13. That’s a goalkeeper’s number, Alessandro.


6. Franco Baresi


Along with Maldini, Baresi sits atop the pantheon of Milan’s greats. 

The captain of the greatest club side ever, Franco is the club’s all-time appearance leader with 719 and won 18 honours. 

Number six Baresi was the first Milan player to have his shirt retired as the last great libero left an almighty footprint on the club.

A brilliant communicator and organiser, Baresi set the standard for 20 years in Italian football. Not done there, he coached and taught the club’s next great captain, Maldini.


7. Andriy Shevchenko


Blitzing the Ukrainian league with back-to-back 30-goal seasons was enough to convince AC Milan management to prize young Sheva from Dynamo Kyiv in 1999. 

In Shevchenko’s debut season, the star hit the ground running and won the Capocannoniere with 24 goals. 

Andriy might be remembered for that fateful penalty miss in Istanbul, back in 2005, but Carlo was right to have had faith in his star striker. Shevchenko had already slotted a decisive penalty in a Champions League final back in 2003 against Juventus.

In a Milan career that included five major honours, a Ballon d’Or and 323 appearances in just seven years, only Gunnar Nordahl has scored more goals than Shevchenko for the Rossoneri.


8. Gennaro Gattuso

Pavel Nedved,Gennaro Gattuso

We’re happy to break the news to the current Napoli managed that he’s managed to fend off Frank Rijkaard and Marcel Desailly for the illustrious number eight shirt. 

Passion will always be associated with Gattuso as a no-nonsense, tough-tackling, ultra-aggressive terrier, who would bound around the pitch. The man loved a reducer.

Gattuso’s work-rate (and ferocious tackling) would allow more creative players like Andrea Pirlo, Kaka and Seedorf to play in that uber-successful side on the noughties. 


9. Marco Van Basten


A pretty simple choice when one of the ?50 greatest players has played for your club.

Marco van Basten is considered one of the greatest centres forwards; the Dutchman thrilled by scoring in every manner possible. 

Seemingly hellbent on having the greatest YouTube compilation ever, Van Basten made beautiful goals his modus operandi. 

His career was curtailed by injury and he was forced to retire by 28…However, he had already won three Ballons d’Or by then.


10. Gianni Rivera


Ruud Gullit ?can consider himself very unlucky but Milan’s 60-70s hero gets the nod. 

Péle once hailed Rivera as the ‘greatest player to ever live’, Rivera was a player of exceptional quality and a great touch who reimagined what the creative player could provide. 

A club legend, Rivera made 658 appearances and notched 164 goals for the Rossoneri

Gianni’s trophy cabinet is stocked to the rafters, while he was also the crucial cog in the often forgotten 1970 Italy World Cup squad that reached the final. 


11. Daniele Massaro

Daniele Massaro of AC Milan and Pellizzaro of Padova

?A scorer of two goals in the demolition of Barcelona in the 1994 Champions League final, Massaro enjoyed nine years of continual success at the club.

Massaro was also the crucial forward option that brought a different dimension of physicality and athleticism to the already dynamic team and was often a super-sub, ultimately taking home 14 major honours in over 200 appearances for Milan. 


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