Liverpool beat Southampton 2-0 in the Premier League on Sunday in comfortable fashion ahead of a return to European action […]
Antonio Conte has claimed Chelsea are suffering at the back because they are without one of their key players.
Andreas Christensen has been out for some time, and it seems that his presence in defence has been the one thing Chelsea have needed this season, and Conte made it very clear the amount of goals conceded in the last couple of games are partially down to him not being in the side.
He said:“For sure, he’s an important player for us. He’s an important player.
“It happened, this [that Chelsea conceded seven goals in the last two games without him]. It’s right to look at the stats, but we have to take the stats in the right way.
“But, for sure, Christensen is an important player for us. He’s playing a fantastic season.”
“I don’t know.
“It happened in the last two games. I don’t know why. But it happened. We didn’t concede many goals in the past when Christensen played.”
The Chelsea manager will be desperate to get his key players back for the game against Barcelona, and knows that any goals shipped by the Blues will have a negative impact on their hopes of going through to the next round or even having a chance in the second leg.
David Luiz knows just how good Luis Suarez can be, and Lionel Messi will finally want to score against the club, never having found the back of the net before against them, and not only will Chelsea have to make sure they have their defence at top level, they need Alvaro Morata back fighting as well.
The forward has posted a picture on social media of him back in training – and Chelsea fans will hope he gets up to full fitness as soon as possible to at least play some part in the game.
Bad news for Manchester United as Real Madrid consider record transfer – originally posted on Sportslens.com
According to Don Balon, Real Madrid are closing in on Inter Milan striker Mauro Icardi. The 24-year-old is nearing a £96m move to Los Blancos, which would be bad news for fellow suitors Manchester United.
Icardi has been in fantastic form this season, scoring 18 goals in 22 Serie A games. The Argentine, who came to the San Siro from Sampdoria in 2013, has been linked with a move away for a record fee.
His reported release clause would make him Real’s and Manchester United’s most expensive signing, although the former look most likely to land his signature.
United manager Jose Mourinho has openly stated he won’t be signing another attacker in the summer but rather the midfield, so losing a player as talented as Icardi would be a major blow.
In his five years with the Nerazzurri, the prolific South American centre-forward has scored more than 90 goals in 170 games in all competitions. The former Barcelona youngster has three years left on his Inter contract, so the selling club hold all the cards.
Real need to replace the ageing Karim Benzema, and Don Balon suggest Icardi is one of many strikers on the lost of potential replacements. United have Romelu Lukaku, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Marcus Rashford so they boast enough depth up front.
“May your family find some measure of solace during this pain,” McGowan, 44, wrote on Instagram, captioning a photo of the sun seen from space. “May you find peace on the astral plane. May you find serenity with the stars.”
McGowan referenced Weinstein in her post for Messick, writing, “That one man could cause so much damage is astounding, but tragically true. The bad man did this to us both.”
According to her family, Messick, who was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and had been battling depression in the years before her death, was devastated after the movie mogul’s lawyer released an email in which Messick defended Weinstein.
“Jill was victimized by our new culture of unlimited information sharing and a willingness to accept statement as fact,” the family said in a statement to The Hollywood Reporter. “The speed of disseminating information has carried mistruths about Jill as a person, which she was unable and unwilling to challenge. She became collateral damage in an already horrific story.”
Her family also claimed McGowan made “inaccurate accusations and insinuations” against her, but Messick chose not to speak out so as not to take attention away from victims of sexual harassment and assault.
“She opted not to add to the feeding frenzy, allowing her name and her reputation to be sullied despite having done nothing wrong,” the family said. “She never chose to be a public figure; that choice was taken away from her.”
The family maintained McGowan confided in Messick after meeting with Weinstein at the Sundance Film Festival in 1997 — a meeting where McGowan alleges Weinstein assaulted her in a hot tub — and the manager immediately reported the incident to her bosses.
“Rose never once used the word rape in that conversation,” the family said. “Despite this, Jill recognized that Harvey had done something untoward to Rose, if not illegal. She immediately went to her bosses, the partners of Addis Wechsler, to recount Rose’s story and to insist that they immediately address the situation. They told Jill that they would handle the situation.”
When McGowan first opened up about her alleged experience with Weinstein to The New York Times in October, she said that she informed Messick about the alleged attack the day after. “She held me,” McGowan told the paper. “She put her arms around me.”
But McGowan said that in the months to come, she did not feel supported by her management team. She said that she was referred to a lawyer who specialized in harassment and assault cases and was given the impression that “filing a criminal charge was hopeless.”
Weinstein’s lawyer Ben Brafman responded to McGowan’s allegations in a statement to PEOPLE.
“Mr. Weinstein denies Rose McGowan’s allegations of non-consensual sexual contact and it is erroneous and irresponsible to conflate claims of inappropriate behavior and consensual sexual contact later regretted, with an untrue claim of rape.” His spokesperson also said that McGowan “chose to demand money” from Weinstein and worked and appeared with him later in her career.”
In October, the New York Times reported that McGowan was part of a settlement with Weinstein in 1997 following the alleged encounter. Messick’s family says the deal was negotiated without the manager’s knowledge.
“At that time, all Jill knew was that the matter was settled and that Rose continued making films with the Weinstein,” the family said. “She never knew any details until recently, when Rose elected to make them public.”
RELATED VIDEO: Harvey Weinstein Says Ben Affleck Denies Knowing About Rose McGowan’s Alleged Sexual Assault
Ten months after the alleged incident, Messick was hired as an executive at Miramax Films, the studio then headed by Harvey Weinstein and his brother Bob, a position the family stresses she earned on merit alone. She worked for Miramax from 1997 to 2003.
On Jan. 30, Weinstein’s lawyers released an email in which Messick said McGowan had told her she got into the hot tub with Weinstein “consensually” but “regretted” it. Her family says the document was released without Messick’s consent.
“In this email, Jill offered the truth based on what she remembers Rose telling her about the Sundance account. In the face of Rose’s continued and embellished accusations last week, Harvey took it upon himself to release the email without her consent,” the family said.
In the statement, Messick’s family says, “Harvey’s desperate attempt to vindicate himself, was devastating for her. It broke Jill.”
For more information about the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline — which provides 24/7, free and confidential support for people in distress, prevention and crisis resources for them and their loved ones, and best practices for professionals — visit suicidepreventionlifeline.org.
Rose McGowan took to Instagram on Feb. 10 to post a long awaited heartfelt message to former manager, Jill Messick, who tragically took her own life on Feb. 7. See it here.
Top White House staff are such a mess over their mishandling of wife-beating former staff secretary Rob Porter that they can’t quite decide if he resigned or was fired. But the mishandling part? That is crystal clear. People in the White House had known for months about Porter, and yet they managed to be forced into multiple story changes and backtracking when the story broke, as if it was entirely new news.
While Chief of Staff John Kelly has taken most of the heat for the series of screw-ups—and earned that heat—he’s not the only senior aide who had a chance to do the right thing and get ahead of a damaging story simultaneously: White House counsel Don McGahn also knew about Porter.
But boy, John Kelly. Politico reports that Kelly had decided weeks ago that aides who didn’t get full security clearance would be fired. Yet even though he knew that Porter would be denied security clearance, Kelly not only didn’t fire Porter ahead of the reports of his history of abuse, he stood by him as the first reports came out, describing Porter in glowing terms. Even Kelly’s walkback of his initial support for Porter specified that “I stand by my previous comments of the Rob Porter that I have come to know.”
On Thursday, Kelly apparently felt it necessary to clarify to White House staff that domestic violence is bad, in an email saying that “I want you to know that we all take matters of domestic violence seriously. Domestic violence is abhorrent and has no place in our society.” Which … when your support for an abuser forces you to make sure that everyone knows you think domestic violence is bad, you can take that as a sign that you screwed up along the way.
Many of the scandals coming out of this White House have come straight from Donald Trump. We spend a lot of time talking about how difficult it is for his staff to have a consistent message when he might undermine it in a tweet 10 minutes later, and how Trump promotes infighting among staff. But in this case, Trump genuinely seems to have been out of the loop, reminding us once again that the staff he’s handpicked are both terrible people and very well capable of screwing things up all on their own.
Deal close: Bad news for Arsenal as €20.2m forward nears Inter Milan move – originally posted on Sportslens.com
Arsenal have been dealt a blow with Racing Club striker Lautaro Martinez closing in on a move to Inter Milan.
The 20-year-old is reportedly on his way to the San Siro for €20.2m in the summer.
Lautaro Martinez all’Inter, tutto confermato anche dal presidente Blanco: lavori in corso sulla clausola rescissoria, ci sarà e va ancora definita nel dettaglio, può essere anche superiore a 110 milioni 🇦🇷 #Inter
— Fabrizio Romano (@FabrizioRomano) February 8, 2018
Martinez has made more than 30 appearances in all competitions for Racing, scoring 13 goals. He’s netted seven goals in 11 games for Argentina u20s too. Arsenal were in the running to sign him, but Inter Milan have won the race for his signature.
The South American centre-forward is believed to have agreed a five-year-deal and admitted he’s held talks with Inter Milan sporting director Piero Ausilio and former striker Diego Milito.
“I met Ausilio and he told me about Inter. He told me things that I’d already heard from [former Inter Milan strike Diego] Milito,” Martinez told Ole, who say Atlético Madrid, AS Monaco, Real Madrid and Torino were also keen on the 20-year-old.
He added: “My future? I’m happy to stay at Racing for now. Negotiations between the two clubs are for my agent. I’m definitely staying here until June, so I can’t afford to think of anything else.”
While a blow for Arsenal, manager Arsene Wenger might not be too disappointed given they’ve strengthened their attack heavily in the January transfer window – Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang signed from Borussia Dortmund and Henrik Mkhitaryan made the switch from Manchester United.
Arsenal also have Alexandre Lacazette, Danny Welbeck and Eddie Nketiah who are capable of playing up front this season, so the Gunners aren’t short of options in the final third. There was a lot of competition to land Martinez, but Wenger will now have to cast his eye on other targets.
Stats from Transfermarkt.
Welcome to parenthood, Aaron Paul and Lauren Parsekian! The duo’s baby girl has officially arrived, and we can only imagine how thrilled they must be! Get the details here.
British resident Lauri Love was arrested on suspicion of having hacked into key U.S. computer systems in October 2013. He’s been fighting U.S. authorities’ efforts to have him extradited ever since, maintaining that he should be tried in the United Kingdom. On Monday, Love scored a victory: An appeals court agreed that extraditing him to the U.S. would be “oppressive by reason of his physical and mental condition.” Love has Asperger’s Syndrome, a form of autism, and suffers from depression, asthma, and eczema.
The premise of the case alone was damning: The principle questions the court enumerated for resolution surrounded Love’s health and rights in light of “the conditions he would face in the United States.” Indeed, much of the opinion concerns the U.S. Bureau of Prisons and its treatment (or lack thereof) of imprisoned people. Several experts testified to establish what U.S. prison practices would mean for someone with Love’s unique set of ailments.
Professor Baron-Cohen took issue with the sufficiency of the protocols operated in America, to support prisoners [like Love] with Asperger Syndrome, depression and at high suicidal risk, as described by Dr Lyn, Psychology Services Branch Administrator of the Federal Bureau of Prisons (“BOP”), and others. They were not satisfactory for a patient with the unique combination of depression, Asperger Syndrome and eczema. Non-emergency mental health services are voluntary but his Asperger Syndrome would be likely to prevent Mr Love seeking regular psychiatric help, so he would not receive treatment for clinical depression until it reached “crisis/suicidal” level. He would be unlikely to be allowed to see a private physician, who could be better qualified to help. Mentally ill inmates were often put in solitary confinement where they cannot access mental health services, with especially negative consequences for Mr Love.
The court’s distaste was evident in its descriptions of solitary confinement and suicide watch, as were hints of incredulity.
This is a guest post from Gerry Johnston. Johnston is a 32 year old writer from Ireland. He currently writes about La Liga for www.laliganews.co.uk. Gerry has been a Barcelona fan since 1996; you can follow him on Twitter @gjsportsblog.
Much has been made of Barcelona’s summer with words like crisis and disaster being the most used adjectives to describe what went on at Camp Nou. However, are things really as bad as is being made out in the media and by the grief loving element within Barcelona’s online fan base?
There can be no doubt things didn’t go as the club planned this summer or in fact over the last twelve months or so but for the purposes of this article let’s take a look at some of the main factors so we can consider if things are just as bad as they are being portrayed.
One of the biggest issues at the club right now is Josip Maria Bartomeu and his board. Off the field, Bartomeu’s tenure has been nothing short of a disaster and we are now starting to see his incompetency filtering through to the product that steps onto the field for games.
The Sporting Project
In many ways, it’s difficult to know where to start but let’s look at the sporting project. Ideally you will want a first eleven, a number of capable replacements and some talented youngsters to fill out the squad and to get some time on the field to help them develop so when the time is right they are ready to step into the void left by their older teammates who can slide back into the capable replacements role before eventually moving on or even better finding a role somewhere else within the club so they can pass on their experience to the next generations. Can anyone say that’s the case at Barcelona? The squad to me looks like a bit of a mess.
Barcelona seem to have a strong first eleven, maybe two solid back ups and then a lot of guys somewhere between not being great cover but not young enough to be considered “talented youngsters.” It’s the latter that are absolutely killing the club. They are all guys around the 24-26 age range and while they won’t play a lot of football they are earning vast amounts of money while blocking the path for younger players coming up behind them.
Defensively there’s Thomas Vermaelen and Lucas Digne. Vermaelen is on a big wage and instead of off loading him we have sent Marlon Santos out on loan to Nice. I hear many saying he’ll get more experience there but what he’s really getting is experience of a lower standard of football and club. How can you learn to be Barcelona level if you’re not there? Would he learn more about being an elite footballer from training with and watching world class stars every day with maybe half a dozen to a dozen appearances in all competitions or will he learn more at Nice? For me it’s straight forward and being in France isn’t the best thing for his development.
There are similarities in midfield. Sergio Busquets and Andres Iniesta are elite footballers. Ivan Rakitic is much maligned but in my opinion the fans are being extremely harsh in their treatment of the Croatian. He has been as much a victim of poor tactical acumen from Barcelona managers as Iniesta and Busquets but is treated worse than those two. Maybe it’s the fact he’s not a product of La Masia or just that his ceiling was never as high as Busquets or Iniesta’s but in my opinion he remains an important and integral part of the first eleven. Outside those two we have another batch of guys who aren’t good enough to be considered good back ups nor young enough to be future prospects. The likes of Andre Gomes, Paulinho, Denis Suarez, Rafinha and Arda Turan wouldn’t really be missed if they left and I’d much rather see Sergi Samper or Carles Alena picking up those minutes.
Up top it’s clear that Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Ousmane Dembele are the starters but there is an enormous gulf between those three and their replacements with Aleix Vidal (Ernesto Valverde seems to see him as a right winger), Paco Alcacer and Gerard Deulofeu a notable drop in class from the starters.
Bartomeu and his Board
Squad issues and sporting project aside there are many other issues with the Bartomeu regime. The Neymar situation hasn’t helped things nor has how the club reacted in response to it particularly with regards to Philippe Coutinho, Jean Seri and other potential replacements that failed to materialise. The Messi and Andres Iniesta contract debacles have also led to many Cules losing faith in those controlling the club with two of Barcelona’s and indeed football’s greatest ever players now just four months away from negotiating exits from the club on free transfers. The thought is enough to give even the calmest of fans palpitations and it is a disgraceful situation for such a huge club to find themselves in. Perhaps this is a direct consequence of their mismanagement of the squad. It is well known that Bartomeu’s board have been teetering around the 70% of income being paid out in salaries and perhaps if they didn’t have so many older, yet average players in the squad the wage bill would have more room for manoeuvre.
La Masia and Youth Development
Another point that has upset Cules is La Masia but I am not necessarily on board with this as La Masia hasn’t produced a lot of gems in recent times although I will accept that this may be a consequence of this boards policy to sell players with a buy back arrangement in place. This may be a factor as I warned in the case of Marlon that Barcelona players at other clubs aren’t learning how to be Barcelona players but instead how to play for and be at the level of the clubs that they have moved too. The point I would make is Thiago Alcantara aside none of the guys who have moved on are keeping me up at night. Many are touted to be the next big thing but Thiago is the only truly world class player to come out of La Masia in a decade. Many Cules will get a bee in their bonnet about Alex Grimaldo but the jury remains out on the left back. He is extremely injury prone and has only made 16 league appearances for Benfica so for me he’s not a stick to beat the board with.
The Valverde Factor
Another big factor on how Barcelona will do this season lies in what Ernesto Valverde brings to the table as the new manager. I have to admit the former Athletic Bilbao manager would have been well down the list of men I would have brought in to replace Luis Enrique as I believe players who play at the elite clubs sometimes need a big name who can command respect and get the best out of them. That said Valverde is the man in the hot seat for now at least and will naturally receive the support of myself and the hundreds of thousands of Cules worldwide.
It’s difficult to judge the manager’s reign so far as he has pretty much been the ringmaster in a circus up to now with all the transfer shenanigans going on behind the scenes. The Super Copa was obviously disappointing but in terms of the clubs priorities it’s not very high up there so it can be forgiven. In the league he has started with two wins, albeit they weren’t exactly convincing but with everything that was going on off the pitch six points can’t be sniffed at. However, the real business begins this weekend and he now has the squad at his disposal that he will have to move forward with until January at least so Barca are now firmly under his control.
The early games of Valverde’s reign are showing some positive signs with the return of the pressing game which was particularly evident in the opening weekend victory over Real Betis. So often under Enrique Barca were the victims of teams pressing them but in that game Barcelona got after the opposition and had a lot of success when Betis resorted to playing long, aimless balls forward which Barca dealt with easily. Pep Guardiola’s Barcelona were excellent when pressing and I don’t think many fans would be annoyed if that was to be one of the ways this Valverde side are remembered. Arguably, the biggest challenge the new boss will face and probably any man who manages Barcelona is how to solve the “Lionel Messi problem.”
Many will no doubt ask how having the best player ever to play the game can be a problem but in truth that’s a one dimensional way of looking at it. The priority for any Barcelona coach has to be how you set the team up to get the best out of Messi but also to set the team up in such a way that they are a strong, cohesive and solid unit. This is not a criticism of Messi in any way and in fact I have no doubt that Messi is long past the notion of personal achievements being important and to him all that matters is winning football matches. The big problem is where do you put him and where do you put the other ten so they can give as much support while also doing the business at the other end of the field by keeping the opposition out?
There are probably four options for Messi nowadays. You either play him on the right wing, centre forward, as a number ten in a 4-2-3-1 or in midfield. What’s best for him and what’s best for the club is probably the million dollar question and we can only pray Valverde has the answer.
In truth I think Messi can play any of the four positions without any drop in his own performance but the issue is what gets the best out of his colleagues and provides a balanced team capable of winning the top prizes in the game?
In recent times Messi has featured on the right of the front three and he has excelled there. The problem arises when he comes inside and abandons that flank. In the days of Dani Alves and his Duracell powered performances he was getting up and down the wing every game. Alves was a threat on the overlap but his engine also allowed him to get back to defend. Recently Sergi Roberto, who was the first choice right back, was reluctant to go forward as much so the team lacked width and with him not being a natural right back he was often caught out and the fact Messi often failed to track down didn’t help the man who came through La Masia. Messi is 30 years old now so is it too much to expect him to cover defensively when so much is expected of him in attack? It’s a tough balance and for me I think we look unbalanced when he abandons his position so it might require a change.
If Messi goes back to his old central role or false nine as it’s known the question becomes what do you do with Luis Suarez? Suarez is certainly industrious enough to play out wide but you’re obviously losing his predatory instincts in the penalty area which would be a blow. For the false nine to succeed you need players overlapping the forward which Suarez and Dembele would undoubtedly do but Barca don’t tend to have midfielders who pass the attackers so I’m not 100% it would work. If it was to succeed you would need the midfielders to get more involved in attacks and although I’m not totally convinced I think it could be a better option than having Messi out right as the overall balance would be better.
Messi could of course go back into midfield and I have no doubt if he did he would be the best midfielder in the world but again I don’t think it’s in the team’s best interests. Messi has been and still is Barcelona’s biggest goal threat and the further back he goes the more he has to do to score. There’s also the fact that he would have more responsibilities in the defensive side of the game and part of me thinks that it would be a shame to waste his talent in that way.
The fourth and final option would be for Barcelona to change to the 4-2-3-1 that Valverde preferred during his time with Athletic. This would obviously be a big difference for Barca who have generally played 4-3-3 for much of Messi’s career but it might just be the best option going forward. However, it certainly isn’t without it’s problems as Barcelona have a ridiculous amount of central midfielders and with only two starting there’s going to be a lot of guys unhappy at less minutes which to be fair probably needs addressed anyway. There’s also the question of who plays wide? Dembele would occupy one wing and Messi would take the central role behind Luis Suarez which leaves one place vacant. Is Gerard Deulofeu good enough to be a regular starter? Would Valverde consider someone else for the role? Regardless of what the new manager does there appears to be both positives and negatives but the one thing that will remain constant is Messi will be the most important player he has and if Barcelona are to succeed then they will need Messi in a position where he can inflict as much damage as possible on the opposition.
The Madrid Challenge
While much of this summer’s media coverage has focused on the negatives the club really aren’t in as big a state as has been suggested. They only lost out on the league title to Real Madrid by three points and the same people who are knocking Barca are portraying this current Real Madrid side as one of the best ever. Whether that’s true or not is a different debate but there is no doubt that Real Madrid under Zinedine Zidane are a very good side that play to their strengths well and had an incredible level of depth in their squad last season so for Barcelona to be a club in crisis and only finish three points behind them suggests that if they can sort things out quickly there’s no reason why they can’t provide a credible title challenge.
As good as Real Madrid are, have they built on their position of strength? For me they haven’t. Pepe and Alvaro Morata were two very good players when you consider they weren’t in the clubs first eleven. Both when on top form could be described as world class players but both have moved on and not been replaced by anyone close to that level. Real’s big signings of the summer were Theo Hernandez and Dani Ceballos. Theo seems like a talented player but any time he takes to the field he will be weakening the Real Madrid side as Marcelo has been by quite a distance the best left back in world football over the last year or so. Ceballos is another extremely talented footballer and I think he will one day be among the world’s best but in terms of helping Real Madrid defend their titles I don’t see him getting too involved.
Dembele: Better than Neymar?
The Neymar transfer made a lot of headlines during the summer and I for one was absolutely gutted the Brazilian saw fit to leave the club. In my eyes he was the player most likely to end Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo’s dominance in the Balon d’Or/ FIFA Best Awards and losing a player capable of being the best in the world is not where Barcelona want to be. That said Ousmane Dembele is a very good replacement. He’s still very young and still developing so hopefully he too will go on to be considered one of the best players in the world one day. One of the biggest criticisms Neymar got was on that his finishing could be poor. If Dembele can be a better finisher than the Brazilian then his pace and Messi’s range of passing could be an absolute nightmare for La Liga’s defences.
Another advantage Dembele has over Neymar is his nationality. Generally, things like nationality should be of no importance but nobody can deny that Barcelona tended to look a little bit sluggish after international breaks last season. I am of the belief that this was a result of the front three players being exhausted after making cross-Atlantic trips to represent their countries in the notoriously tough South American World Cup Qualifiers. Replacing a Brazilian with a Frenchman might just ease that a little bit as half of his internationals will be played in France so travel will be a lot less than what Neymar had to endure.
There’s no doubt that things are not perfect with Barcelona for now but we are not a million miles off being a good side. If the issues behind the scenes can be resolved, we get competent people in key roles at the club and the manager shows astute tactical acumen then there’s no reason why Barcelona can’t enjoy a successful season and push towards a third La Liga crown in four years as well as reach the latter stages in the Champions League and maybe even win our sixth Champions League.
The post Crisis? Disaster? Just how bad was this summer for Barcelona? appeared first on totalBarça (FC Barcelona).