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Soccer

Newcastle tipped to make Steve Bruce sack decision as £300m takeover edges closer

Newcastle boss Steve Bruce should keep his job if the Toon’s £300m takeover is completed, ex-Premier League star Kevin Phillips claims. Toon owner Mike Ashley has agreed to sell the club to PCP Capital Partners, an organisation backed by the Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia.

The deal has stalled in recent weeks, with the Premier League yet to sign off on the takeover.

There has been plenty of opposition to the move due to its links to Saudi Arabia.

The World Trade Organisation recently ruled Saudi Arabia was behind pirate streams of Premier League football in another hurdle stopping the deal.

Newcastle boss Bruce’s future is up in the air ahead of the £300m takeover.

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The Toon have been tipped to appoint a big name manager when the deal goes through.

Newcastle are currently 13th in the Premier League, with Bruce’s men eyeing a top 10 finish.

And Phillips says it would be a travesty if Bruce is axed at the end of the season.

When asked if a top-four finish should save Bruce’s job, Phillips told Football Insider: “From my view point of view, it should, but no one is un-sackable.

“I have backed him and said he has done a fantastic job at Newcastle.

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“It would be a travesty if they finish in the top-10 and he ends up losing his job in the summer. I would be gutted.

“It is a tough one because new owners will come in and want to do things their own way.

“However, it would be sending the wrong message to a lot of people if he was to be sacked.

“He has done a great job so give the money to him to spend, bring some players in and have a go next season.”

Premier League CEO Richard Masters recently claimed the deal is ‘complicated’, hence the delay behind the agreement.

When asked by Sunderland Central MP Julie Elliot if Newcastle fans should have been kept more informed, Masters replied: “I do appreciate the uncertainty.

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“Obviously I cannot comment in terms of timing or the specifics on any particular takeover.

“But in a perfect world, takeovers would happen clearly, cleanly and in a timely fashion. Sometimes things get complicated.

“It is very difficult because it is an entirely confidential process that involves all sorts of due diligence and the application of the owners and directors test.

“We’ve always said those processes would need to be entirely confidential and when it drags on sometimes there is a requirement for information. It is a relatively rare occurrence.

“I think it is very difficult to keep a constant dialogue with fans about what is an entirely confidential process.

“We can’t provide a running commentary on things and I can’t really talk about the specifics of the process. There are legal requirements in place that need to be observed.”

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Soccer

Man Utd may have four contenders for Ryan Giggs’ old No 11 shirt next season

Manchester United saw Ryan Giggs retire in 2014 shortly after becoming interim boss following David Moyes’ departure. Nobody has been able to do his old No 11 shirt justice, however, with the likes of Adnan Januzaj and Anthony Martial struggling under the burden of expectancy. Express Sport will now take a look at four players who could don the jersey under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer next season.

Jadon Sancho

Manchester United want to sign Jadon Sancho. It’s an open secret that you’ve probably read about.

And the common consensus is that he’ll take the No 7 shirt made famous by the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, David Beckham, Eric Cantona and George Best during their playing days.

However, Sancho may be tempted to take a different number instead.

The No 7 jersey appears to have been cursed since Ronaldo’s move to Real Madrid in 2009, with the likes of Alexis Sanchez, Memphis Depay and Angel Di Maria toiling with it on their back.

Therefore, it’s possible Sancho will take No 11 instead.

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Jack Grealish

United appear to be edging closer to a deal that will take Aston Villa captain Jack Grealish to Old Trafford when the transfer window reopens.

Express Sport understands the playmaker is already house-hunting ahead of a potential move to the North West.

And Grealish could take the No 11, too.

The Villa star’s preferred No 10 is currently occupied at United by Marcus Rashford.

And, given Rashford won’t be going anywhere anytime soon, Grealish is certainly another contender for Giggs’ old number.

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Daniel James

United have seen Daniel James fade after a bright start to the season.

The Wales international hit the ground running with early strikes against Chelsea, Crystal Palace and Southampton but, since then, has found the net just once.

Yet he’s an important asset for Solskjaer and a shirt number change may be the way of coaxing more from the forward.

It would no doubt give James extra motivation wearing the same jersey as Giggs, who manages him for the Wales national team.

He’s currently wearing No 21 yet, given his growing status at the Theatre of Dreams, that may be altered.

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Mason Greenwood

Mason Greenwood wears No 29 at United.

However, he’s destined for the top. And it’s only a matter of time before his shirt number changes as a result.

While he’s a natural centre-forward, the 18-year-old has shown that he’s also got the ability to play on the right wing.

Although Giggs played on the opposite flank during his time with the Red Devils, it would make sense for United to change Greenwood’s number.  

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Soccer

Man Utd tipped to challenge Liverpool and Man City for title because of one player

Manchester United have been tipped to challenge Liverpool and Manchester City for next season’s Premier League title. The Red Devils are 34 points behind Jurgen Klopp’s outfit but have been one of the form teams since the turn of the year. The addition of Bruno Fernandes from Sporting Lisbon in January sparked a revival in their fortunes.

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Fernandes has contributed five goals and three assists in eight Premier League appearances for United, who are fifth in the table, two points behind Chelsea in the race for fourth.

United’s red-hot form before and after the lockdown has given fans hope that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s squad could challenge for honours next term.

And Match of the Day pundit Jermaine Jenas believes Fernandes has given them the spark to slug it out with top dogs Liverpool and City.

“Man United have been really impressive, I think,” he said.

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“Unbelievable to see the difference one player can make to a side in what Fernandes has brought.

“The link up between him and [Paul] Pogba seems to have really flourished.”

Chelsea also appear to be gearing up for a title challenge after splashing the cash ahead of the summer transfer window.

Hakim Ziyech was lured from Ajax for an initial €40m (£36m) while Timo Werner has joined after the release clause in his RB Leipzig contract was triggered.

Express Sport understands the Blues are also looking to add Kai Havertz from Bayer Leverkusen and Leicester City’s Ben Chilwell.

Chelsea will need to sort out their defensive flaws, however, which were exposed in the 3-2 defeat to West Ham on Wednesday.

Jenas believes they will be in the title mix but said: “Chelsea look like they will make moves in the market which will hugely strengthen them.

“They’ve got defensive things they need to look at.”

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Golf

Webb Simpson in share of lead at Rocket Mortgage Classic

Webb Simpson continued his good form to grab a share of the lead at the halfway mark of the Rocket Mortgage Classic.

The American carded an eight-under 64 in the second round at Detroit Golf Club in Michigan on Friday to climb to 12 under at the PGA Tour event.

Simpson already has two wins in 2020 — including at the RBC Heritage in his last start — and shares a one-stroke lead with Chris Kirk (65).

The 2012 U.S. Open champion, Simpson produced a bogey-free second round that included eight birdies.

Kirk was on track to do likewise before a bogey at the par-four 18th.

It remains a packed leaderboard, with Seamus Power (66), Matthew Wolff (64), Bryson DeChambeau (67), Mark Hubbard (66), Ryan Armour (64) and Richy Werenski (66) a shot back.

The in-form DeChambeau has top-10 finishes in each of his past six starts and backed up his 66 with a 67.

Kevin Kisner (69) and Sepp Straka (66) are in a tie for ninth at 10 under.

Last year’s runner-up, Doc Redman, shared the overnight lead but fell back into a tie for 11th after a two-under 70.

Despite a promising start, Rickie Fowler slipped down the leaderboard after a 71, now sitting at six under.

Jason Day’s struggles since the PGA Tour resumed amid the coronavirus pandemic continued, with the Australian missing the cut for the third time in four events.

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Soccer

Arsenal transfer round up: Gunners eye £32m striker and prepare to Partey

Arsenal may have won their last two games, but there will still be plenty of work to do for manager Mikel Arteta in the forthcoming transfer window.

The Gunners beat struggling Norwich City 4-0 in midweek and edged Sheffield United 2-1 last Sunday to reach the FA Cup semi-finals.

But that does not hide the fact Arteta needs to clear the decks at the Emirates and bring in new faces to give the Gunners fresh impetus going into the 2020/21 season.

And with limited funds to play with, Arteta will have to work harder than most to find those value-for-money deals.

Dutch forward 'would cost £32m'

Wolfsburg striker Wout Weghorst has been attracting attention from clubs across Europe, including Arsenal.

The Dutchman has scored 16 goals in 32 appearances for the Bundesliga club this season, with the Gunners reportedly taking a keen interest, according to German publication Bild.

The report claims Arteta wants to add to his strike force due to uncertainties over the futures of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette.

Weghorst, 27, has scored at least 16 goals in each of his four seasons for Wolfsburg and previous club AZ Alkmaar. Bild also claimed he would cost in the region of £32m.

He could just be the player Arsenal need, but Newcastle United are also believed to be interested.

Partey time at Arsenal

Arsenal are reported to be in pole position to sign Thomas Partey, their primary target this summer.

According to Spanish media outlet AS, the Gunners are ready to triple the Atletico Madrid midfielder’s current salary to take him to the Emirates.

AS claims Napoli are also in for the 27-year-old as a replacement for Brazilian Allan, and are prepared to offer striker Arkadiusz Milik in part exchange.

However, the Spanish publication says the Serie A side will not be able to match the deal Arsenal have offered Partey, who has a £45m release clause in his Atletico contract.

Arteta wants Partey to be the focal point of a new-look midfield next season, with La Razon claiming the Gunners are ready to match his release clause.

Kolasinac could be part of defensive exodus

Arsenal seem set for a defensive clear-out this summer, and Sead Kolasinac is reportedly on the list of players who will leave.

The Times claims Arteta wants to sell a number of his centre-halves, plus full-back Kolasinac.

Arsene Wenger signed the Bosnian international on a free transfer from German side Schalke 04 in the summer of 2017.

And, with his contract due to expire in the summer of 2022, it may make sense for Arsenal to cash on him sooner rather than later.

Kolasinac, who has made 96 appearances for the club, has dropped behind Kieran Tierney in the pecking order at the Emirates.

Mhiktaryan’s free move could save Arsenal £10m

The Times also reports that Arsenal midfielder Henrikh Mkhitaryan will be allowed to join Roma on a free transfer this summer.

The publication claims the Gunners will save up to £10m in wages if they let the Armenian leave for nothing.

Mkhitaryan joined Arsenal in January 2018 as part of the deal which took Alexis Sanchez to Manchester United.

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But the 31-year-old has failed to shine in his 18 months at the Emirates and at the start of this season was loaned to Roma, where he has linked up with former United team-mate Chris Smalling.

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Rugby

Origin star ‘pissed off’ by shock call

Brisbane Broncos star Corey Oates has revealed he was “pretty pissed off” and “bloody hurt” upon discovering he had been axed from the side on Tuesday.

The Broncos have been experimenting with their squad every week since the coronavirus epidemic, desperate to overturn their horrific form slump. The Queensland-based team recorded five consecutive losses for the first time in eight years, and have slipped to 15th on the NRL ladder.

In his latest squad shake-up, Brisbane coach Anthony Seibold relegated Oates to the reserves for their round eight clash against the New Zealand Warriors at Central Coast Stadium.

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The State of Origin star was ineffective during the Broncos’ embarrassing 30-12 loss to the Gold Coast Titans last weekend — the winger made 68 metres in ten runs, and was unable to muster a linebreak or offload.

Oates was also sin-binned in the 76th minute by referee Pete Gough for dissent, ending a forgettable evening.

Jamayne Isaako will replace Oates in the No. 2 jersey for Saturday evening’s match against the Warriors. However, the 25-year-old was recalled after prop Matt Lodge suffered a knee injury, and will therefore play his 150th NRL this weekend.

Corey Oates Broncos training at Red Hill. Pic Annette DewSource:News Corp Australia

Speaking to The Courier-Mail, Oates admitted he was “heartbroken” by the shock decision, but is eager to register a much-needed win against the struggling Warriors.

“To be honest, I didn‘t see it coming and I don’t think I deserved to be dropped,” Oates said.

“I was heartbroken when the coach dropped me. It bloody hurt. I didn’t take it lightly and I wasn’t happy, I was pretty pissed off for a couple of days and then I just thought there is no point kicking cans.

“It was a tough pill to swallow. I‘ve had a conversation with the coach and I said I will still be the same person around the team. I will just train and work hard to get my starting spot back.”

“I was a bit surprised that I was the only guy dropped and no-one else, but now I‘m back in the team with (Lodge) out so I guess I get another chance.

“I feel I‘ve been doing a pretty decent job on the wing. It is what it is. It’s my 150th game and I’m coming off the bench so I will just do what I can and hopefully we can finally get a win against the Warriors.”

Although his defensive record has come under question this season, Oates was not concerned. He has not managed an NRL try since July 2019, but Oates is determined to revive his form and overturn the public’s image of the club.

“I feel like my defence has been pretty good and it’s actually been better than other years,” Oates said.

“I don’t feel like I have stuffed up in a major way in games, but once a coach makes his decision, they don’t go back on them.

“People saying we don‘t care don’t understand how hard we try.

“When you lose five games in a row, everyone hurts, but as a team we need to be better across the board to beat the Warriors.”

Broncos second rower Alex Glenn was spotted pulling down Oates’ shorts in a lighthearted prank at training on Friday.

The moment Corey Oates was pantsed.Source:News Corp Australia

Brisbane lock Pat Carrigan sang Oates’ praises after the announcement, and was adamant the Queenslander would perform in whatever position he plays on Saturday.

“One thing with Oatsey is that he’s a team player and it’s been an up and down week for him but his training has been well,” Carrigan told Broncos.com.au.

“He could have dropped he bottom lip but he’s worked hard and has got another chance.

“I’m excited for him … he’s been a big part of the club and he’s one of those older guys who has shown us younger guys the ropes.

“A win is what he deserves. Whatever position he plays then he’ll get the job done.

“We’re standing side by side and we know that the only way to turn the critics away is to start winning and it needs to start this week for us.

“This group has heaps of potential but it’s time we stopped with lip service and started delivering on that.”

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Categories
Golf

Chris Kirk and Webb Simpson share the halfway lead at the Rocket Mortgage Classic

Chris Kirk put himself in position for a shot at the feel-good story of the year in golf after earning a share of the halfway lead with Webb Simpson at the Rocket Mortgage Classic.

Leaderboard

Rocket Mortgage Classic

Kirk stepped away from the professional game in April last year to deal with alcohol and depression problems and spent seven months undergoing treatment before returning in November, and he claimed an emotional victory on the Korn Ferry Tour last month.

The 35-year-old has not won on the PGA Tour for over five years, but he will go into the weekend at Detroit Golf Club full of confidence after a second-round 65 lifted him to 12 under, a score later matched when RBC Heritage champion Simpson cruised round the Donald Ross design in 64.

Ireland’s Seamus Power is one stroke behind alongside powerhouses Bryson DeChambeau and Matthew Wolff, while English pair Tyrrell Hatton and Matt Wallace are in good shape on nine under with fellow Ryder Cup hopeful Viktor Hovland one further adrift after 36 holes.

Kirk, once ranked as high as 16th in the world during 2015, had the “59 watch” brigade monitoring him closely when he stormed to the turn in 30 before holing out from sand at the 11th and chipping in at the next for his eighth birdie of the round.

But that would prove his final gain of a day which ended on a sour note when he carded his only bogey at the last, a mistake that would ultimately cost him the outright lead, although Kirk insists he is just happy to be competing on the PGA Tour again given what he’s been through off the course.

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“I think that a few years ago, among other things, golf was definitely wearing on me and I definitely lost the joy of playing and competing,” said Kirk, a four-time winner on the PGA Tour but none since the Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial in May, 2015.

“After being away from it and not knowing if I would really play again or not and choosing to come back just because I love to play golf, so that’s why I’m here this week. I love to play golf and I love to compete, so it’s a lot easier to keep that in the forefront of my mind now.”

Simpson’s affection for Donald Ross layouts was again evident in his bogey-free 64 containing eight birdies, the last of which at the 16th was a high-class hole-out from a greenside bunker, and the world No 6 admitted afterwards that he had only decided to enter this event a couple of weeks ago.

“I decided I want to go play, I’d heard great things about the golf course,” said Simpson, the highest-ranked player in the field this week. “It’s a Donald Ross design, and guys that played here last year that I talked to about it loved the golf tournament, they loved what Rocket Mortgage did.

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“So I knew enough to know that I should come if I could come and it worked out with my family where I was able to commit and get here. I’ve always loved a Donald Ross design, I love playing golf courses every once in a while that you can go make birdies.”

Power, who has slipped out of the world’s top 500 having not had a top-10 finish on any Tour since last April’s RBC Heritage, held a share of the clubhouse lead for the majority of the afternoon after following up his opening 67 with a 66, and he has yet to drop a shot over the first half of the tournament.

The Irish Olympian shares third with the big-hitting DeChambeau (67) and Wolff, who reeled off six consecutive birdies in his entertaining 64, although a pulled drive at the eighth – his 17th – cost him his only dropped shot of the round.

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Sports News

Johnson to miss Brickyard, Indy test with virus

INDIANAPOLIS — Seven-time NASCAR champion Jimmie Johnson has tested positive for the coronavirus and will miss this weekend’s race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

The 44-year-old Johnson is the first driver in any NASCAR series to test positive and the news Friday evening cast a shadow over the historic NASCAR-IndyCar doubleheader races coming up Saturday and Sunday. There was no indication any races would be affected.

Hendrick Motorsports said Johnson will not return until he is cleared by a physician. He was tested earlier Friday after his wife, Chani, tested positive after experiencing allergy-like symptoms.

Johnson is asymptomatic.

“My first priority is the health and safety of my loved ones and my teammates,” Johnson said. “I’ve never missed a race in my Cup career, but I know it’s going to be very hard to watch from the sidelines when I’m supposed to be out there competing. Although this situation is extremely disappointing, I’m going to come back ready to win races and put ourselves in playoff contention.”

Johnson earlier Friday held a Zoom session with reporters to discuss Sunday’s race and an upcoming test of an Indy car on the road course at the fabled venue. He will now miss that test, as well as what was supposed to be his final Brickyard 400. Justin Allgaier will replace him in the No. 48 Chevrolet.

“Jimmie has handled this situation like the champion he is,” said Rick Hendrick, owner of Hendrick Motorsports. “We’re relieved he isn’t showing symptoms and that Chani is doing great, and we know he’ll be back and ready to go very soon. It’s going to be difficult for him to be out of the car and away from his team, but it’s the right thing to do for Jimmie and everyone involved.”

Hendrick Motorsports said it has implemented detailed procedures to protect the health of its team members. They include daily COVID-19 screenings at the team facilities; the separation of facility operations and traveling personnel; split work schedules; stringent face covering and social distancing requirements; and an increased level of disinfecting and sanitization of all work areas.

Johnson is scheduled to retire from full-time NASCAR competition at the end of the season and was trying to tie Jeff Gordon and Michael Schumacher as the only five-time winners at Indianapolis.

Johnson has made 663 conscutive Cup Series starts — the longest streak among active drivers — and is currently 12th in the standings, 63 points inside the playoff picture. NASCAR’s rules state a driver must be symptom free and have two negative coronavirus tests in a 24-hour span to return.

NASCAR said it has granted Johnson a playoff waiver.

“Jimmie is a true battle-tested champion, and we wish him well in his recovery,” the series said.

Johnson could potentially also miss the Cup race at Kentucky and the All-Star race at Bristol. Next week’s test of the road course at Indy in Scott Dixon’s car has also been scrapped.

NASCAR was one of the first sports to resume competition from the pandemic shutdown and has completed 11 Cup races since its May 17 return. The sanctioning body does not test for coronavirus but participants are required to do a temperature check as they enter the facility.

Drivers have been told to isolate at the track and there is very little interaction beyond radio conversation between the competitor and his crew.

Although Stewart-Haas Racing and Team Penske both said they’ve had positive tests from shop-based team members, Johnson is the first driver. Earlier Friday, Brazilian sports car driver Felipe Nasr said he had tested positive and will miss Saturday’s IMSA event at Daytona International Speedway.

Johnson earlier Friday discussed the Indy car test scheduled with Chip Ganassi Racing, which he said was the first step in determine if actual races are in his future. If he’s any good, he said, he would be open to racing all 12 street and road course events on the IndyCar schedule.

Johnson has long said safety concerns would keep him from racing on IndyCar oval tracks, but Friday he offered a surprisingly softer stance about the Indy 500. IndyCar this year unveiled its aeroscreen windshield designed to protect the drivers from debris as they sit in the open-air cockpits. Saturday will mark just the second race with the device, but it appeared problem-free last month on the oval at high-speed Texas Motor Speedway.

“Their safety on ovals has dramatically increased this year with the windscreen. So, I’ll keep a close eye on things there and see how the safety level looks,” Johnson said. “I’ve always wanted to race the Indy 500. I’d have to do a lot of selling to my wife to get that pass, but my true desire right now is to just run the road courses.”

Johnson has his eye on the street course race in Long Beach, California, a race that was canceled this year because of the coronavirus pandemic but is one of the most storied events on the IndyCar calendar at a track just a couple hours from his native El Cajon.

“When I was a kid growing up, the closest IndyCar racing for me was at Long Beach so one of my hopes is that I am able to race at Long Beach,” Johnson said. “I hung on the fence a lot as a kid watching and dreaming. …. There’s a lot of sentimental value with that race and I hope to race there.”

He is stuck in a three-year losing streak but Hendrick Motorsports has been dramatically improved this season and Johnson has been competitive. He has also been actively prepping for a whirl in an Indy car and had been scheduled to test with the McLaren team before the pandemic.

“It’s a test, it’s a tryout and it’s a two-way street. Two-way tryout for the team to look at me and for myself to look at a team,” he said. “If I’m about four seconds off the pace, then that’s probably a quick sign that I don’t need to be in one of these cars. If I’m within a certain amount of time and I have a good feel of the car, then for me, I feel like that’s an important first step that I need to know that I can be competitive.

“I do not want to go race in any series and not be competitive,” he said.

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Soccer

Chelsea target Kai Havertz 'has agreement' to leave Bayer Leverkusen

Chelsea target Kai Havertz ‘has an agreement’ to leave Bayer Leverkusen this summer if conditions are met, admits sporting director Rudi Voller… as Bayern Munich insist they will not bid

  • Chelsea have been strongly linked with Bayer Leverkusen midfielder Kai Havertz
  • Leverkusen sporting director Rudi Voller has now admitted Havertz could leave
  • Bundesliga winners Bayern Munich have claimed they cannot afford to buy him
  • That could hasten a move to the Premier League for the Germany international 

Kai Havertz could leave Bayer Leverkusen for Chelsea this summer as part of ‘an agreement’ with the Bundesliga club, sporting director Rudi Voller has admitted.

The 21-year-old, who has provided 15 goals and eight assists this season, looks set to leave the club where he has spent the first four years of his senior career should certain conditions be met.

‘We have an agreement – if it fits, he can go this summer,’ Voller told Bild.

Bayer Leverkusen creative midfielder Kai Havertz continues to be strongly linked with Chelsea

Leverkusen sporting director Rudi Voller has advised the youngster to stay on for another year

‘As of now, he is a player of ours. We have our ideas, we know what he can do. I personally hope that he stays one more year.

‘Of course, you can’t force anyone. Havertz knows what he owes to his colleagues, the fans and the club.’

Bayer missed out on fourth spot by two points and Voller has conceded that Champions League qualification would make it easier for them to persuade Havertz to stay longer. 

Champions Bayern Munich have claimed they cannot afford the attacking midfielder, who was rumoured to have been left out of Bayer’s defeat to them last month because of Chelsea’s interest.

The Bundesliga club narrowly missed out on securing a Champions League qualification spot

Voller was unimpressed by the suggestion and said there is ‘no discussion’ for any player to voluntarily miss matches. 

He added: ‘Regardless of whether it’s [the] Europa League or Champions League or if it is wanted by the players [and clubs], I couldn’t understand if a player didn’t want to [play].’

Fellow Germany international Timo Werner agreed to join Chelsea from RB Leipzig for £53million last month. 

Blues boss Frank Lampard has already confirmed Hakim Ziyech and Timo Werner as signings




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Soccer

Rodgers insists Leicester's slump will prove a blessing in disguise

‘We will be better for it’: Brendan Rodgers insists Leicester’s slump in form will prove a blessing in disguise even if it costs them a spot in the Champions League

  • Leicester appeared certain to clinch a top four spot before the sport’s shutdown 
  • But since football returned, Brendan Rodgers’ side have failed to pick up a win 
  • The club’s poor form means their cushion to sixth place is now just three points 
  • But Rodgers insists their nosedive will prove a blessing in disguise regardless 

Brendan Rodgers insists Leicester’s current nosedive will prove a blessing in disguise – even if it costs them a place in the Champions League.

Leicester looked nailed on for a top-four spot before the coronavirus shutdown.

But since football returned, Rodgers’ side have failed to register a single win, meaning their cushion to sixth is now only three points.

Brendan Rodgers insists Leicester’s current nosedive in form will prove a blessing in disguise

Leicester looked nailed on for a top-four spot but haven’t picked up a win since the restart

With games against Arsenal, Sheffield United, Tottenham and Manchester United to come, Rodgers expects the race for Champions League football to go down to the wire.

But speaking ahead of Saturday’s clash with Crystal Palace, he said: ‘Whether we end up in there or not, we will be better for it. Absolutely. Because it’s something you need to have to improve. You need that adverse moment in order to be better.’ 

He added: ‘I think either if we do or don’t (make the top four), it’ll help us… the process we’ve been on since I’ve been in, has mainly been on the up. But that isn’t how football always works. You’ll go through periods where there will be bumps in the road and then it’s managing that process.’ 

Rodgers expects the race for the Champions League to go down to the wire after key clashes

Saturday’s clash with Palace is Leicester’s first home game since the city went back into a local lockdown following a spike of coronavirus cases. 

Rodgers says they have reinforced the ‘common sense’ approach his squad need to show but the manager insists there are no concerns among his players or staff about playing while the city battles the pandemic.

‘No none at all, we’re in a bubble here… we get regularly tested so nothing really has changed on that front,’ he said.

Leicester could be without James Maddison after the star aggravated a hip injury at Everton

‘It’s worth pointing out that I’ve seen a noticeable difference in the city and that’s a huge credit to the people of Leicester… you can sense the city are doing everything they possibly can to adhere to what the government have asked.’ 

Rodgers added: ‘Obviously the spotlight has come on to the city in the past week or so, however how the city has responded to it has been admirable… for us (if) we have an opportunity to make people’s lives better, which we know we have, by getting good results and performances then of course we would look to do that.’ 

Leicester could be without James Maddison for Saturday’s game after the midfielder aggravated a hip injury during their midweek defeat at Everton. 




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