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Pep Guardiola: Man City boss vows to be ‘cold’ with Champions League final selection amid Sergio Aguero dilemma | Football News | Sky Sports



Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola says he will be “cold” when it comes to selecting his starting line-up for the Champions League final against Chelsea, with no room for sentiment amid club legend Sergio Aguero’s departure.

City have 12 days until they play Chelsea in Porto in their first European final for more than five decades and face Brighton and Everton in that period with the Premier League title already secured.

City’s all-time leading goalscorer Aguero has been ruled out of the Brighton fixture on Tuesday due to a leg injury picked up in the 4-2 win over Newcastle last week.

The Argentine has announced he will leave the Etihad at the end of the season and could conceivably have played his last game for the club with only three games remaining.

We’re Not Really Here: Man City

Guardiola says he will not select Aguero for the final against Chelsea in Porto purely on the basis of sentiment.

“Right now (Sergio Aguero) is injured. If he was fit I would say I will be cold,” he responded when asked about a potential fairytale farewell for the striker.

Sergio Aguero will leave Manchester City at the end of the season

“I have to take the decision which is the best to win the game. If Sergio is fit and I believe he can help us, he will play.

“If he can help us to score, he will play but it is the final of the Champions League, I have to make the decision that wins the game.”

Guardiola admits that his players have been especially responsive and nice to him in the build-up to the final on May 29 because they are all vying to get into his starting line-up.

“They listen a little bit more. Seriously, they are not stupid. They want to play so they will be so nice to me,” he revealed.

Manchester City's head coach Pep Guardiola gestures during the English League Cup final soccer match between Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur at Wembley stadium in London, Sunday, April 25, 2021.


Pep Guardiola says his team must focus on games against Brighton and Everton before thinking about the Champions League final.

“Once I make the selection they will be who they are, grumpy and upset with me like normal.”

The City boss is no stranger to selection dilemmas ahead of Champions League finals having led Barcelona to victory in Rome in 2009 and at Wembley in 2011.

“It has always been difficult. But previously I remember the starting eleven at Barcelona was so clear I would say.

“Here I rotate a lot and everyone can play. Still right now I am not clear about the way we are going to play and who we are going to play. I have to take a look in the next 10 days and after I will take a decision.

“That’s why the relationship between the players and the manager has to be distant. You cannot be close because you make decisions which (can impact) careers and sometimes I have to be unfair to them.

“They are lucky that they have a manager who rotates a lot, in the last few months I have changed every game six or seven players. In this situation I would say I have been generous with them.

“They want to play every game especially the most important ones. It’s tough but it is what it is.”

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Ibrahima Konate: Liverpool sign centre-back from RB Leipzig | Football News | Sky Sports




Ibrahima Konate: Liverpool sign centre-back from RB Leipzig | Football News | Sky Sports

Liverpool have signed centre-back Ibrahima Konate from RB Leipzig after agreeing to pay his £36m release clause.

Konate, 22, made 21 appearances for Leipzig this season including eight Bundesliga starts as the club finished second, 13 points behind champions Bayern Munich.

He will begin a long-term contract from July 1, subject to international clearance and a successful work permit application process.

“I’m really happy to be joining such a massive club like Liverpool,” Konate said.

“It’s a really exciting moment for me and my family and I am really looking forward to meeting my new team-mates, the staff and getting started on this new chapter.”

The France U21 international’s arrival strengthens Jurgen Klopp’s defensive options, with Virgil van Dijk, Joe Gomez and Joel Matip all hoping to return for the start of next season after missing the majority of the 2020-21 campaign through injury.

The injuries saw Fabinho and Jordan Henderson at times deployed at centre-back, while Nathaniel Phillips and Rhys Williams were the defensive pairing at the tail-end of the season as Liverpool secured a top-four place and Champions League football next year.

Liverpool had signed Ben Davies permanently and Ozan Kabak on loan from Schalke as defensive cover in January.

Davies is yet to make his Liverpool debut, he was an unused substitute eight times, while Kabak made 13 appearances but looks set to return to Germany despite the club having the option to buy the 21-year-old this summer.

Konate is currently with France’s U21 squad for the UEFA European Championships.

He added: “Right now, my focus is on the U21 European Championships with France, but after this competition I know I will be joining one of the best teams in the world and that gives me a great feeling.

“I have worked very hard for many years to get to this point, but I would like to say a big thank you to everyone at RB Leipzig and all the people I worked with there – the coaches, my team-mates, the staff and especially the fans.

“Your support helped me grow up during my time there and become not only a better player, but a better man and I will always be grateful for it.”

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FREE TO WATCH: Highlights from Liverpool’s win against Crystal Palace in the Premier League

At Leipzig, Bayern-bound Dayot Upamecano and Willi Orban played most of the season at centre-back, while Konate suffered an ankle injury in December which kept him out for two months.

Upon his return, Konate – whose contract was due to expire in June 2023 – remained an unused substitute in both of Leipzig’s Champions League last-16 matches against Liverpool.

It was no secret Liverpool would be signing a new centre-back this summer after the defensive injury crisis which derailed their Premier League title defence last season.

Long-term knee injuries to first-choice central defenders Van Dijk and Gomez in October and November 2020 respectively meant Klopp was forced to use an incredible 16 different centre-back parings in the previous top-flight campaign.

Elsewhere, despite the club offering Adrian a new deal, the Spaniard may return home this summer, meaning Klopp could be looking for a new back-up goalkeeper to Alisson if, as expected, promising youngster Caoimhin Kelleher is sent out on loan next season.

Meanwhile, Gini Wijnaldum’s expected departure on a free to either Barcelona, Paris Saint-Germain or Bayern Munich leaves a sizeable hole in midfield, one that may reportedly be filled by Brighton’s Yves Bissouma and then there is the issue of Roberto Firmino’s diminishing attacking returns.

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Odion Ighalo: My ‘dream’ Manchester United move, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s man-management and why Paul Pogba needs to stay at Old Trafford | Football News | Sky Sports




Odion Ighalo’s loan move to Manchester United from Chinese outfit Shanghai Shenhua in January 2020 is still considered one of the unlikeliest transfers of recent windows.

Having left English football in 2017 following a three-year spell at Watford where he had helped the club to Premier League promotion, Ighalo would not have been a name many would have considered at the time to solve United’s striker shortage.

However, despite the move to Old Trafford being a brief one, leaving in January 2021 to join Saudi Arabian side Al-Shabab, it will be one the 31-year-old will never forget.

Here, Ighalo, who scored five goals in 23 appearances for United across all competitions, speaks exclusively to Sky Sports News’ Dharmesh Sheth about his ‘dream’ move, what it was like playing under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, and why Paul Pogba must stay at the club…

DS: It’s really good to see you, Odion. First of all, how’s it going at Al-Shabab?

OI: I’m enjoying it, that’s the most important thing – the fans love me and I am enjoying my time in a different country, a different league and culture. We’re top of the league at the moment so hopefully we can keep going and win it.

Could you have stayed at Manchester United after January?

There wasn’t much possibility because I wanted more playing time. At my age, I want to play and not just sit on the bench and not have any minutes.

I didn’t just want to be there picking up a salary – I wanted to be involved so I said to my agent that if an offer comes in, I will look at it and see what’s best for me, which is what I did.

I’m so happy that my path crossed with Manchester United – it’s the club I love with all my heart and for all my life so playing for them was a big privilege that I do not take for granted.

No matter the circumstances that led me to leave, I will always be grateful to the coach, my team-mates, the fans, and everyone around Manchester United.

Odion Ighalo also became the first Nigerian to play for Manchester United after signing from Shanghai Shenhua

Were there any other offers other than Al-Shabab – any from the Premier League?

Yeah, there was the possibility of West Ham and West Brom to stay in the Premier League, which I thought about.

But after being at Manchester United, the biggest club in England if not the world, what else could I possibly do in the Premier League?

I had good offers to stay in England, but I just didn’t think I could stay after achieving my dream of playing for the club I had supported since I was young.

I came all the way from China because it was Manchester United when I had already rejected other offers because United has always been my dream.

There were big rumours about a move to Tottenham before joining United. Were they true?

That was close – my agent called me and told me they had offered to match whatever I was earning but once I heard Manchester United were interested, there was no turning back.

I couldn’t think about anything else other than making the Manchester United deal work. I was going to have to take a pay cut but I didn’t care, I just wanted the deal to happen.

I just wanted to play for Manchester United. It’s my dream club and it was always going to be a privilege for me to play at Old Trafford.

I’m just so grateful to God that it happened. Every day I wake up and I know that I am an ex-Manchester United player. It is something that I will never take for granted.

You’re also the first Nigerian to play for Manchester United as well…

I’m very proud, because playing for Manchester United has raised my profile and people are now talking about me more.

Going back to Nigeria, people still want Manchester United jerseys today, even though I am not playing for Manchester United anymore!

Sometimes I have to order some shirts from Manchester to give to people over there – that’s how big and how privileged I am to play for such a great club.

Being the first Nigerian to play for Manchester United is great. If I keep talking about it, then I will get emotional, I’m just so happy.

Odion Ighalo says all his dreams came true when he signed for Manchester United.

When you reflect on your year at Manchester United, what would you say was your best moment?

Absolutely everything! Just waking up every morning and going into training at Carrington was a thing of joy.

Meeting the lads, laughing, talking, going inside the dressing room for training and games… every moment is one I am going to cherish.

But probably the greatest moment was when I scored my first goal at Old Trafford in front of the fans.

Playing for the club, scoring my first goal, and scoring at Old Trafford – all my dreams have come true.

I used to pay money to watch Manchester United on TV and I still sometimes sit down and just watch my goals and some of the videos from the dressing room and all the laughing. It just keeps me going and always makes me happy.

Despite all that, your chances in a Man Utd shirt were limited. Do you feel you got the chances you deserved?

After my initial loan was extended, I did not play much which was perhaps a bit unfair but as I said, I am always grateful for the opportunity.

When I joined, I always knew I wouldn’t be playing every game because I was signing as a back-up striker so I knew playing time was going to be limited.

There were certain games where I thought I would play but that’s the decision of the coach and I am not holding anything against anyone.

I am just grateful to Ole (Gunnar Solskjaer), the fans, my team-mates, and everyone around the club for making me feel at home and I thank God that I played for my dream club and scored goals at Old Trafford.

Odion Ighalo is full of praise for Manchester United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

You mention Ole – give us an insight into his best qualities as a manager…

He knows how to manage the boys and talks to you, especially when you are not playing.

He’s a good guy, a calm guy, and I never saw him get angry – perhaps during a game when we were losing but the day after that it was totally forgotten because the next game was always more important than the last one.

I have massive respect and time for him and thanks to him, I had the opportunity to play for Manchester United. Without him, that would not have been possible, so I am always grateful to him, no matter what.

So from what you are saying, it’s his man-management skills that shone above anything else while you were there?

He’s an intelligent coach. Tactically he’s good but with a team like Manchester United, a big team with a lot of good players, everyone wants to play.

So sometimes it’s difficult for the coach but he understands that and when you have a coach who can manage that, then it is really good.

It’s been a very strange and unpredictable season with the pandemic. Manchester City are clear at the top but lost at the weekend. Is the title race still on?

Well, there’s six or seven more games to go. It’s difficult as I can’t see City losing three games from six before the end of the season. It’s going to be tough, but I pray a miracle can happen and Manchester United can win the League.

Edinson Cavani is yet to decide whether to stay at Man Utd for one more season


Ighalo says he would choose to stay at Old Trafford if he was in Edinson Cavani’s position

What do you make of Edinson Cavani’s situation and him considering leaving Manchester United in the summer. Can you understand it when you love the club so much?

Every player has a different ambition, different needs, and needs to decide what they have to do. He’s a good player and a good striker, there’s no doubt about that and if the opportunity comes up to go somewhere else, then that’s fine.

But for me – this is the team I have supported from being a child so I would always take the option of staying.

Whatever decision he makes though, I wish him all the best and good luck to him.


Ighalo says his former team-mate Paul Pogba is only unhappy when he is not playing and is hopeful that he will stay at United

Paul Pogba gets talked about so much when he plays, whether he plays well or not. You’ve seen him up close – how good is he and how important is it that Manchester United keep him long-term?

He’s one of the best players I’ve played with and one of the best players at Manchester United.

Apart from playing on the pitch, he’s a good guy in the dressing room, a funny guy, he’s always happy.

The only time he isn’t happy is when he’s not playing and I can understand that – everyone wants to play.

If Manchester United have the opportunity to keep him on a new, longer deal, they should because he is so influential.

Sometimes he doesn’t have the best of games but that’s normal, you can’t be 100% in every game but when he turns up, like he did yesterday against Tottenham, he is exceptional.

Another player Manchester United have, who’s currently doing well on loan at West Ham, is Jesse Lingard. You’ve played alongside him. Are you surprised at how well he is doing there?

Not at all because he works so hard in training and when he was given the opportunity to play for Manchester United, he did so well.

But when you play for a team like Manchester United, there’s a pressure to win every game. Manchester United is all about winning, winning, winning, and sometimes that pressure kicks in.

West Ham is not as big as Manchester United and he’s there on loan so he’s more free to express himself. There’s not as much pressure or weight on him to do well and he is doing what we know he can do and we are seeing the best of him.

West Ham's Jesse Lingard celebrates after scoring his side's opening goal (AP)

Do you still think he has a future at Old Trafford then?

Of course, but I don’t think he’d want to return to Manchester United to sit on the bench because he is playing regularly at West Ham United – week in, week out.

But if he comes back with the confidence he has now, then it can only be a good thing for Manchester United.

Personally, I don’t see him coming back – I can see his loan being extended or West Ham buying him.

So what does the future hold for you now – are they any other leagues or countries you’d like to play and challenge yourself in?

I’ve played in six or seven different countries now and I enjoy my football, so who knows the next destination! I’m not afraid to go to a new country, a new league, a new culture, and learn a new language. I’m ready for whatever opportunity.

Have you thought about life after football too?

I’d love to still be involved in football, maybe an agent or a coach but let’s see what happens.

This content was originally published here.

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Christian Eriksen: Denmark midfielder ‘stabilised’ after collapsing during Euro 2020 opener against Finland | Football News | Sky Sports




Christian Eriksen is “awake” and undergoing tests in hospital after collapsing on the pitch as Denmark’s opening Euro 2020 match against Finland was temporarily suspended just before half-time.

The 29-year-old’s condition has been “stabilised”, according to tournament organisers Uefa.

“Eriksen is awake and his condition remains stable,” the Danish FA later said. “He remains hospitalised at Rigshospitalet for further examinations.”

UEFA confirmed the Group B match had been halted due to a “medical emergency” after Eriksen, 29, dropped to the ground at the Parken Stadium shortly before half-time, leaving players from both teams in clear distress.

English referee Anthony Taylor called medics on to the pitch and Eriksen underwent prolonged treatment, including CPR.

Team-mates formed a shield around the former Tottenham player, while fans inside the stadium were clearly stunned by the incident, with some pictured in tears.

The match had been suspended due to a medical emergency which involved Denmark’s Christian Eriksen. The player in now in hospital and in a stable condition.

UEFA wishes Christian Eriksen a full and speedy recovery and wishes to thank both teams for their exemplary attitude.

— UEFA EURO 2020 (@EURO2020)

Christian Eriksen er vågen, og hans tilstand er fortsat stabil. Han forbliver indlagt på Rigshospitalet til yderligere undersøgelser.

Kampen mod Finland spilles færdig i aften. Dette sker efter at spillerne har fået bekræftet, at Christian er okay. Kampen genoptages kl. 20.30.

— DBU – En Del Af Noget Større (@DBUfodbold)

UEFA confirmed the match, which originally kicked off at 5pm UK time, would restart at 7.30pm at the request of players from both teams.

Following the request made by players of both teams, UEFA has agreed to restart the match between Denmark and Finland tonight at 20:30 CET (TBC).

The last four minutes of the first half will be played, there will then be a 5-minute half-time break followed by the second half.


A statement read: “Following the request made by players of both teams, UEFA has agreed to restart the match between Denmark and Finland tonight at 20:30 CET.

“The last four minutes of the first half will be played, there will then be a five-minute half-time break followed by the second half.”

Finland won the game 1-0 after it was resumed, with Joel Pohjanpalo heading home the only goal of the game on the hour mark.

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Denmark and Finland fans chanted Eriksen’s name after the midfielder was taken to hospital

Denmark had the opportunity to level the score 12 minutes later but Tottenham’s Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg had his penalty saved by Lukas Hradecky.

The Finnish national team wrote on Twitter: “The thoughts of the Finnish men’s national team, the Finnish Football Association and the Finnish football family are with Eriksen, his relatives and the Danish team.”

Finland players were in distress after Denmark's Christian Eriken collapsed

UEFA President Aleksander Ceferin added: “Moments like this put everything in life into perspective. I wish Christian a full and speedy recovery and pray his family has strength and faith.

“At these times, the unity of the football family is so strong and he and his family carry with them the good wishes and prayers of everyone.

Denmark players gather together on the pitch as they return to resume the match

“I heard of fans of both teams chanting his name. Football is beautiful and Christian plays it beautifully.”

Eriksen’s club, Inter, tweeted: “Forza Chris, all of our thoughts are with you.”

Former team Tottenham said: “Get well soon, Christian. The whole Spurs family is with you.”

Eriksen’s Inter team-mate Romelu Lukaku paid tribute to the midfielder after he scored for Belgium against Russia in Saturday evening’s other Euro 2020 match.

He said to the pitchside camera: “Chris, I love you” after he scored in the Group B clash.

Tearful Hjulmand: A traumatic experience for us all

Denmark head coach Kasper Hjulmand was in tears as he addressed the media after their game with Finland, admitting it had been a traumatic experience for everyone.

Hjulmand said: “It was a really tough evening, one which we’ve all been reminded what the most important things in life are. It’s meaningful relationships. It’s those people who are close to us. It’s family and friends.

“Everything, everything, everything – all thoughts are with Christian and his family.

After the match had initially been suspended following the incident, the Denmark players decided they were happy to continue having received encouraging news about Eriksen’s condition.

And although they were beaten 1-0, Hjulmand added: “I could not be more proud of this team, who take good care of each other.

“There are players in there who are completely emotionally finished. Players who on another day could not have played this match. They are holding each other. It was a traumatic experience.”

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