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Barca agree to pay Griezmann’s release clause

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Barcelona have informed Atletico Madrid they are preparing to pay Antoine Griezmann’s 100 million-euro release clause, Spanish radio reported on Tuesday, as speculation over the French striker’s future intensified.

“Barcelona have told Atletico Madrid they are going to pay Antonie Griezmann’s get out clause. And Atletico know the player will be leaving at the end of the season,” Cadena Cope radio station announced without attributing a source.

The uncertainty over Griezmann’s future could not have come at a worse time for Atletico as they prepare for next week’s Europa League final against Marseille.

Earlier Tuesday, Atletico president Enrique Cerezo refused to clarify Griezmann’s future after domestic media suggested Cerezo had met the player for dinner in a bid to persuade the Frenchman to stay at Atletico, with the promise of a bumper new contract.

Cerezo has denied meeting Griezmann for talks but the Atletico president was also not definitive on the 27-year-old’s future.

“I can tell you one thing: Antoine Griezmann is an Atletico Madrid player as of today,” Cerezo said.

“I cannot tell you anything else because I do not know anything else.”

Barca were forced in January to deny publicly they had agreed a deal to sign Griezmann, who has indicated he wants his future resolved before the start of the World Cup.

Barca coach Ernesto Valverde on Tuesday described Griezmann as “great player”.

“But we have to be very cautious about saying anything about a player that is not ours and making sure we respect our rivals,” he added.

Barcelona host Villarreal on Wednesday and with the La Liga title already wrapped up, the Catalans now stand three games away from finishing the league season unbeaten.

They would be the first ever invincible side in a 38-game La Liga campaign but some have suggested key players could now be rested for the World Cup, in particular, Lionel Messi.

Messi and Barca were stretched to the full in the Clasico against Real Madrid on Sunday, securing a 2-2 draw, despite playing the entire second half with 10 men.

“If I rotate it will be to try to win the game and have fresh people playing,” Valverde said.

“The other day, with 10 men, we made a great physical effort. But no federation has called me to tell me not to play a player and I have not asked for anything. We have our own objectives.”

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SPORTS

Ifeanyi Ubah FC Joins CAF body

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Proprietor of FC IfeanyiUbah, Patrick Ifeanyi Ubah has increased the impressive number of Nigerians appointed into important positions in world football since the emergence of NFF President, Amaju Pinnick as CAF Executive Committee member 14 months ago. Yesterday, the Emergency Committee of the Confederation of African Football (CAF) appointed Ubah into the Organising Committee for the Africa Cup of Nations.

FC Ifeanyi Ubah is one of the first clubs in Nigeria to build its own football stadium from the scratch and Ubah, also the Chairman of Anambra State Football Association, has established a policy of attracting good hands in technical and playing realms, which has seen Brazilian coaches and players from other African countries serve the top club. The club also has a sustainable youth development programme, with young players who step up to the plate regularly promoted to the senior squad.

“Nigeria is very happy with this appointment. It is a big plus for private football club owners in our country. Chief (Dr) Ifeanyi Ubah has done very well over the years and he very much deserves this appointment.

“I am of the belief that he will justify the confidence reposed in him and bring his wealth of experience to bear in serving the committee,” Pinnick, who is a Member of the CAF Emergency Committee and is also President of the AFCON Organizing Committee on which Ubah will serve, told thenff.com.

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SPORTS

Barca to pay Griezmann’s 100mn euro release clause

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Barcelona have informed Atletico Madrid they are preparing to pay Antoine Griezmann’s 100 million-euro release clause, Spanish radio reported on Tuesday, as speculation over the French striker’s future intensified.

“Barcelona have told Atletico Madrid they are going to pay Antonie Griezmann’s get out clause. And Atletico know the player will be leaving at the end of the season,” Cadena Cope radio station announced without attributing a source.

The uncertainty over Griezmann’s future could not have come at a worse time for Atletico as they prepare for next week’s Europa League final against Marseille.

Earlier Tuesday, Atletico president Enrique Cerezo refused to clarify Griezmann’s future after domestic media suggested Cerezo had met the player for dinner in a bid to persuade the Frenchman to stay at Atletico, with the promise of a bumper new contract.

Cerezo has denied meeting Griezmann for talks but the Atletico president was also not definitive on the 27-year-old’s future.

“I can tell you one thing: Antoine Griezmann is an Atletico Madrid player as of today,” Cerezo said.

“I cannot tell you anything else because I do not know anything else.”

Barca were forced in January to deny publicly they had agreed a deal to sign Griezmann, who has indicated he wants his future resolved before the start of the World Cup.

Barca coach Ernesto Valverde on Tuesday described Griezmann as “great player”.

“But we have to be very cautious about saying anything about a player that is not ours and making sure we respect our rivals,” he added.

Barcelona host Villarreal on Wednesday and with the La Liga title already wrapped up, the Catalans now stand three games away from finishing the league season unbeaten.

They would be the first ever invincible side in a 38-game La Liga campaign but some have suggested key players could now be rested for the World Cup, in particular, Lionel Messi.

Messi and Barca were stretched to the full in the Clasico against Real Madrid on Sunday, securing a 2-2 draw, despite playing the entire second half with 10 men.

“If I rotate it will be to try to win the game and have fresh people playing,” Valverde said.

“The other day, with 10 men, we made a great physical effort. But no federation has called me to tell me not to play a player and I have not asked for anything. We have our own objectives.”

______
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SPORTS

Klopp: Liverpool will seal Champions League spot

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AFP

Jurgen Klopp is confident Liverpool will recover from a disappointing Premier League run to seal qualification for next season’s Champions League in their final game against Brighton.Defeat to Chelsea on Sunday, following damaging draws against Stoke and West Brom, has taken the race for Champions League football next season into the final week of the season.

Unless Huddersfield can beat Chelsea at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday, Liverpool will go into Sunday’s home game against Brighton knowing they must at least match Chelsea’s result against Newcastle, managed by former Reds boss Rafael Benitez.

Should they fail, they would have to beat Real Madrid in this month’s Champions League final in Kiev to qualify for Europe’s premier club competition.

“It’s my life, it’s our life, that we always make it a little bit more exciting,” Klopp told liverpoolfc.com.

“We had these situations a few times and it will be, for sure, exciting because Brighton is in a good moment, they played fantastic against (Manchester) United.

“But it’s all OK, as long as we have it in our own hands, life is good. We still have to take it then but we will try everything.”

After five matches, including an emotionally draining two-legged Champions League semi-final, in 16 days Klopp has a full week to prepare for the crucial fixture.

“I’m really happy that this very intense period is over now because we have one week to prepare for Brighton — that feels like a year and we will use that,” he added.

Liverpool have suffered a fresh injury blow after England defender Joe Gomez was ruled out of the Champions League final following surgery on an ankle injury, putting his World Cup participation in doubt.

Midfielder Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain has already been ruled out of the showpiece in Russia with a knee injury.

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Chelsea Vs Barcelona: Build-up, Line-up and Stats

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It’s another big night in Europe. English teams have been fantastic so far in the Champions League. We bring to you all the essentials as former Champions Chelsea and Barcelona look set to write a new chapter in their European rivalry. Will history count at the Bridge?

This encounter will be tighter than most have predicted. Drawing against the reigning English Champions is tough said Valverde, they have their own style of play with quality players underrating them will be dangerous for us.

Chelsea have had the upper hand in past meetings won 4, drawn 5 and lost 3. Lionel Messi holds a scoring jinx against the Blues considering he’s yet to score in eight meetings. Chelsea boast one of the best defense in England and beating Barcelona will help open a new chapter of their season given their domestic struggle. Antonio Conte hinted on his side’s readiness to suffer without the ball due to his opponent style of keeping the ball and dominating possession. “If we win the ball we try to do our thing,” he said.

Barcelona have been spectacular under Ernesto Valverde’s surveillance having remained unbeaten in La LIGA with seven points clear at the summit and were unbeaten in the group stages of the Champions League. Much will depend on Lionel Messi, if he can break his curious jinx against Chelsea tonight. He’s the best in the world can pop up any moment difficult to tame – keep the Argentinian quiet and Conte’s side have more than a chance.

 

Possible Line-ups

Chelsea: Courtois; Azpilicueta, Christensen, Cahill; Moses, Kanté, Fàbregas, Alonso; Hazard, Pedro; Morata

Out : Barkley (hamstring), David Luiz (unspecified), Bakayoko (unspecified)

Added to squad since group stage: Barkley, Giroud, Emerson

 

Barcelona : Ter Stegen; Sergi Roberto, Piqué, Umtiti, Jordi Alba; Busquets, Paulinho, Rakitić; Iniesta, Messi, Suárez

Out : Semedo (suspended), Vermaelen (muscular problem)

Added to squad since group stage: Arnaiz, Costas, Mina

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