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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

Super Falcons Lose Opening #AWCON18 Game To Banyana Banyana

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African Champions, the Super Falcons of Nigeria, have lost their opening group game at the ongoing 11th edition of the Women’s Africa Cup of Nations (AWCON18).

The Super Falcons were stunned 1-0 by Bayana Bayana of South Africa in their opening group B game on Sunday, following a late volley in the 86th minute by substitute Thembi Kgatlana.

The defeat means the Super Falcons have now lost their opening game of the AWCON for the first time. It also means the Banyana Banyana secured their second ever victory against the Super Falcons.

Meanwhile, Super Falcons, who won the competition in 1998, 2000, 2002, 2004, 2006, 2010, 2014 and 2016, are searching for a ninth title alongside a ticket to the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup finals in France.

The top three teams in Ghana, where the 2018 Women’s Africa Cup of Nations is taking place, will fly Africa’s flag in France next summer.

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AFCON 2019: How Leon Balogun, Shehu reacted to Super Eagles’ qualification

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Super Eagles defenders, Leon Balogun and Shehu Abdullahi have expressed joy as Nigeria qualifies for the 2019 African Cup of Nations (AFCON).

The Super Eagles qualified for AFCON after they were held to a 1-1 draw in their last Group E encounter with South Africa at the FNB Stadium on Saturday.

The Super Eagles launched themselves back to the continental championship after missing out on two consecutive editions since winning the 2013 edition.

Defenders Shehu Abdullahi and Leon Balogun reacting, appreciated the team’s gallantry.

@LeonBalogun on Twitter wrote: “We made it – AFCON 2019! South Africa really tried, but we are the Supereagles.

“I am really happy and proud to be part of this team that brought joy to so many Nigerians by “just chasing a ball.’’

“Not just back home but all over the world! Thanks for the amazing support and love always.”

Shehu on the other hand wrote: ” We made it. Qualified, AFCON 2019″.

Nigeria tops the group with 10 points ahead of South Africa, with nine points with Libya and Seychelles on seven and one point respectively.

Nigeria will face Seychelles in their final Group E game in March 2019, while Libya who must win to qualify for the 2019 AFCON will host South Africa in Sfax, Tunisia in their final game.

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EPL: Manchester United suffer heavy injury blow ahead of Crystal Palace clash

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Manchester United have suffered a heavy injury blow as main striker, Romelu Lukaku, will miss Belgium’s crunch clash with Switzerland after being withdrawn from the squad.

Belgium confirmed Lukaku was unable to play in Thursday’s Group 2 victory over Iceland due to an ongoing hamstring problem.

A brief statement from Belgium stated, “Lukaku did not travel with us today. He is still injured (hamstring) and will miss Switzerland versus Belgium.”

The former Everton attacker is believed to have undergone treatment for his hamstring problem at the Move To Cure clinic in Antwerp last week.

It is the same clinic he visited last season when he was battling an ankle injury ahead of the FA Cup final.

The player was unable to train with his Belgium teammates and is now a significant doubt for United’s first game after the international break.

His injury will prove problematic for Jose Mourinho ahead of facing Crystal Palace.

Lukaku’s setback coincides with injuries to both Paul Pogba and Anthony Martial, who were forced to withdraw from France’s latest squad.

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EPL: Chelsea beat off Liverpool, Tottenham to sign £70m rated winger

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Chelsea have reached an agreement with Borussia Dortmund to sign £70million rated star, Christian Pulisic.

The Blues beat off competition from Liverpool and Tottenham and look set to sign Pulisic when the January window opens, according to Daily Mail.

The US international shone for his country against England on Thursday night.

He will be out of contract in 18 months and is being chased by a host of Premier League clubs.

Daily Mail reports that Chelsea are hopeful of wrapping up a deal for a player who could command a £70million fee.

Chelsea are pushing to conclude the deal in January while the threat of a transfer ban looms over them.

The player had also spoken about moving to England before, saying, “The Premier League, is where lots of kids dream of playing so there is no reason why one day I won’t play here.

“We are having a great year at Dortmund and I am enjoying every moment of that. Then when the time comes for me to talk in the breaks about my future, that’s when those things will happen.”

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