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Ronaldo demands £36m from Real Madrid or he quits

Cristiano Ronaldo has asked Real Madrid to cough out £36m as his yearly salary, to bring him at par with his Barcelona rival, Lionel Messi or he will leave the club.

At present Ronaldo earns £18.6m a year, but reports from multiple sources said the Portuguese star wants a pay rise of  close to  £17million, which will make his pay packet swell to £35.6 million.

According to Sport, the Portuguese forward has made it clear to Real’s hierarchy that he wants monetary parity with Messi or he will leave the club.

According to reports, Messi got a fatter pay  at the Nou Camp following his recently signed deal.

Ronaldo, who signed a new contract in November 2016, has been left frustrated by Real president Florentino Perez who has stalled on offering him an improved contract.

Reports in Spain have said that the 32-year-old was promised one after spearheading Real to a La Liga and Champions League double last season.

However, without fruition of one; Los Blancos’ No 7 feels undervalued and has cited this as a reason for his goalscoring woes at the moment.

Ronaldo, who has been linked with a return to Manchester United, signed his current five-year contract – which runs until 2021 – in November 2016.

Should Real pay?

Sixty nine per cent of the people who responded to an online poll by www.marca.com, believed the Spanish giants should not do so, why 31 per cent supported his demand.

Pablo Polo, writing for Marca, argues that Real Madrid should ignore Ronaldo’s blackmail on four grounds:

First because Ronaldo isn’t at his best right now, at least in LaLiga, where he has just four goals.

Secondly, Ronaldo  renewed his contract in November of 2016 and his current deal runs until he is 36. He’ll be making more money than most, even at this age.

Polo also reasoned that Ronaldo  may have been the best player of 2017, but the situation has changed.

Sergio Fernandez  writes that the star player deserves the new wage because the Madrid President, Florentino Perez has always said  that Ronaldo is the best player in the world and in history.

“Being fair, Ronaldo has paid back every euro he’s earned and has brought so many individual and collective titles to the club.

“Real Madrid still have the Copa del Rey and the Champions League to fight for this season and, with an on-form Ronaldo, this could still be a not-terrible year for the club”.

(NAN)

Wenger brands referee Mike Dean a disgrace, dishonest

Arsene Wenger called Mike Dean a “disgrace” and accused the referee of dishonesty after barging into the official’s dressing room for a furious rant following Arsenal’s controversial clash with West Bromwich Albion.

Arsenal manager Wenger was frustrated by Dean’s decision to give West Brom a late penalty when the official adjudged Calum Chambers to have handled Kieran Gibbs’ cross in the 1-1 draw at the Hawthorns on December 31.

An independent disciplinary hearing on January 5 gave Wenger a three-game touchline ban and £40,000 fine for the incident but the panel’s written reasons were only published on Tuesday.

In Dean’s incident report, now published by the Football Association, he stated: “As we’ve entered the dressing room after the game Mr Wenger stood behind us in the doorway and told the West Brom steward to ‘let him in’.

“He was very aggressive leaning towards me, pointing aggressively at me saying ‘you’re not honest’ on numerous occasions.

“I replied ‘so you’re calling me a cheat’. He replied ‘I maintain what I say, you’re not honest’.

“He then said ‘you’ve done this to us many times before, you’re supposed to be professional, you’re a disgrace’. He was then ushered out of the room by the West Brom safety officer.”

Four days after his blast at Dean, Wenger was in trouble again.

He was formally warned after complaining about a “farcical” penalty awarded during a draw with Chelsea.

 

Leicester City desperate to offload Iheanacho

Leicester City are reportedly biting their fingers over their £25m investment on Nigeria international, Kelechi Iheanacho and are now desperate to mitigate their loss on the former Manchester City striker.

Iheanacho is one of the top earners at Leicester City with a reported £115,000-a-week (about N49m weekly) but he has been struggling since arriving at the King Power Stadium.

According to UK’s SunSport, the Foxes are beginning to accept they made an expensive mistake by snapping up the Nigerian ace and are now willing to let him off their pay roll for a cut-price tag.

“The problem is Kelechi is earning around £115,000-a-week on a five-year deal and no club will currently want to take him on those wages.

“So Leicester might have to let him go for a lot cheaper than they paid for him if they decide to sell now”, a source was quoted as saying in The Sun.

Before finally settling for Leicester City, Newcastle boss Rafa Benitez was interested in Iheanacho in the summer and the likes of Stoke, West Ham and Swansea were also in the hunt.

It is yet to be seen if the clubs will still consider Iheanacho good enough to join their ranks or whether the Nigerian star will even be favorably disposed to a pay cut ahead of the World Cup.

Coutinho completes ‘dream’ 160 million euros move to Barcelona

Philippe Coutinho officially completed his “dream” 160-million-euro ($192 million) move from Liverpool to Barcelona on Monday, making him the third most expensive player in history.

Coutinho, 25, signed a five-year contract in a ceremony sitting alongside Barca president Josep Maria Bartomeu before posing on the Camp Nou pitch in a Barcelona shirt.

“I am very happy to be here. This is a dream come true and I hope to meet everyone’s expectations on the pitch,” Coutinho said.

Minutes before the Brazilian midfielder put pen to paper after a whirlwind few days, the club said a thigh injury would delay his debut until the end of January.

Barca’s swoop for Coutinho is outranked only by Paris Saint-Germain’s stunning world record 222-million-euro signing of Neymar from Barcelona last year, and the Paris club’s capture of French striker Kylian Mbappe in a deal eventually worth 180 million euros.

His arrival will help Barcelona to move on from the humiliation of losing Neymar to Qatar-backed PSG, and his presence alongside Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez will help take the pressure off another of the club’s stars, 33-year-old Andres Iniesta.

Bartomeu said the club had secured “one of the stars of world football” and admitted that Liverpool had put up a fight to keep the player. “It was not easy and other clubs expressed an interest in him, but he was determined to come here,” the president said.

Barcelona had made a bid for Coutinho in the summer, but Liverpool stood firm. In the end, the lure of a huge profit on a player they paid just £8.5 million when he joined from Inter Milan in 2013 proved too strong for the English club.

Coach Ernesto Valverde predicted Coutinho will comfortably fit into his star-studded team. He could now make his debut at home to Alaves on January 28. Coutinho played with Suarez for 18 months at Liverpool before the Uruguayan made the same move to Spain in 2014.
“Everybody knows about his quality. He has been playing at the highest level for years now and that is important,” Suarez said.

“Now we need to make sure he feels at home because we know that changing club is always difficult, but I think he is the type of player who will fit well into the team.”

Valverde admitted that it would be a challenge shoehorning his new recruit into a squad already running away with the Spanish league title. “Coutinho is a player who I think can bring a lot to us,” said Valverde. “He’s an important signing.” “I have seen him play in various positions — on the right, the left, in the middle, on the wings.”

The timing of Barca’s move for Coutinho has been questioned because he will not be able to play in the Champions League this season having already played in the competition for Liverpool. But he is likely to be used to give Iniesta a rest, keeping the veteran midfielder fresh for the Champions League as Barcelona seek to wrest the trophy back from bitter rivals Real Madrid.

Rio-born Coutinho scored 54 goals for Liverpool in all competitions, although he won no silverware during his five-year stay at Anfield and he never made a secret of his desire to move to a club where Brazilians such as Ronaldinho and Romario have shone in the past.

His departure now is a blow to Liverpool as he had just returned to top form after an injury-hit start to the season, scoring seven goals in the last eight games of 2017 to put his side firmly in the Champions League places.

“It is no secret that Philippe has wanted this move to happen since July, when Barcelona first made their interest known,” Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp said at the weekend.

“Philippe was insistent with me, the owners and even his teammates this was a move he was desperate to make happen.” Liverpool have been tipped to quickly reinvest their windfall from the Coutinho sale.

Despite already paying Southampton £75 million for defender Virgil van Dijk, Klopp will be chasing an attacker with Leicester City’s Algerian winger Riyad Mahrez and Monaco midfielder Thomas Lemar already linked with a switch to Anfield.

Russia football head steps aside amid doping ban

Russia’s most senior football official has temporarily stood down as he fights a ban given for state-backed doping.

Vitaly Mutko was banned from the Olympics for life in early December having been accused of running a huge Olympic doping programme.

Mr Mutko said he would stand down as president of the Russian Football Union while he contests the ban.

He has always denied taking part in doping but Russia was banned from competing in the 2018 Winter Olympics.

Mr Mutko will continue to carry out his role as the chief organiser of next summer’s football World Cup in Russia.

Whistleblower Vitaly Stepanov, a former Russian anti-doping agency worker, told the International Olympic Committee (IOC) that Mr Mutko, a former sports minister, “created and ran” Russia’s “state-directed” doping programme.

Mr Mutko, he said, “received help from other state officials” including “Vladimir Putin’s authorisation of a decree that required urine and blood samples carried by foreign anti-doping inspectors to be approved”.

Mr Mutko was also directly implicated in the McLaren report, an independent investigation looking into whether the Russia state backed doping in sport.

Russia has repeatedly denied running a state-sponsored doping programme.

Mr Stepanov’s testimony, made public in early December, led to Russia’s ban from the 2018 Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea.

Russian athletes who can prove they are clean would be allowed to compete in the Games under a neutral flag.

Mr Mutko, one of Russia’s deputy prime ministers, said that he would step down “so that our organisations are not disturbed during the legal investigation”. He said he was appealing to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

FIFA World Cup™ ticket sales proceed on FIFA.com

Fans from all around the world can apply for 2018 FIFA World Cup™ ticket s as the first window of sales phase 2 proceeds through the official platform FIFA.com/tickets.

Until 31 January, fans can apply for individual match tickets for all matches (except for the opening match and final) and venue-specific tickets for all stadiums, as well as supporter tickets and conditional supporter tickets for official fans of the 32 teams.

If the number of tickets requested by 31 January 2018 exceeds the number of available tickets, the allocation will be based on a random selection draw procedure, with fans being informed of its outcome by 12 March 2018 at the latest.

During the current sales period, it will make no difference whether applications are submitted on day one, the last day or any time in between, as all will have the same chance of being successful.

FIFA rates Super Falcons World 37th best team

World football governing body, FIFA has released its end-of-year international ranking for Women National Teams and the Super Falcons of Nigerian occupied the top-ranked team in Africa.

The Super Falcons in the latest global ranking dropped two spots and now occupy the 37th position.

Ghana, Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea and South Africa complete the top five teams behind the Super Falcons in Africa in that order.

Nigeria’s possible opponents at the 2018 African Women Cup of Nations qualifiers Burkina Faso were not ranked because they have been inactive for more than eighteen months, while the Gambia was not listed.

The United States of America maintained their top spot at the summit, followed by Germany, England, Australia and Canada.

The next FIFA/Coca-Cola Women’s World Ranking will be published on 23 March 2018.

Top Ten African Teams (Women’s Ranking)

1) Nigeria
2) Ghana
3) Cameroon
4) Equatorial Guinea
5) South Africa
6) Egypt
7) Mali
8) Zimbabwe
9) Ethiopia
10) Zambia

FIFA fines Nigeria for fielding ineligible player in World Cup qualifiers

The World governing body, FIFA, has slammed a heavy fine on Nigeria for fielding an ineligible player against Algeria in a Russia 2018 World Cup qualifier.

The disciplinary committee of the body in a statement on Tuesday slammed a princely sum of CHF 6,000 (N2.17 million) on the three-time African champions.

The Committee stated that the Nigeria Football Federation was sanctioned for the match between Algeria and Nigeria on November 10, 2017.

The match, according to the committee, is declared to be forfeited and awarded 3-0 in favour of Algeria, with the NFF also receiving a fine of CHF 6,000.

“The sanction relates to the player Abdullahi Shehu failing to serve the automatic one-match suspension imposed on him as a result of receiving a caution in two separate matches of the same competition.

“This sanction bears no impact on the final result of the preliminary competition for the FIFA World Cup since Nigeria had already qualified (and Algeria eliminated) before the match took place,” the statement read.

Due to the sanction, Nigeria’s points in the group stage would automatically drop from 14 to 11, while Algeria gets five points.

Salah beats Victor Moses, others to win BBC African Footballer of the Year Award

Egypt and Liverpool forward, Mohamed Salah, has beaten in-form Nigeria and Super Eagles star, Victor Moses, to the 2017 BBC African Footballer of the Year Award.

Salah picked up the prestigious award on Monday to further elongate Nigeria’s long wait to have one of her players win the award.

Austin Okocha is the last Nigerian male player to win the award having won it in 2003 and 2004.

This is also the second time that Victor Moses will be getting a nomination but won’t be winning the top prize.

Aside from Moses, Gabon’s Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Guinea’s Naby Keita, and Sadio Mane of Senegal were the other beaten finalists for 2017.

“I am very happy to win this award,” Salah told BBC Sport.

“It’s always a special feeling when you win something. I feel like I had a great year, so I’m very happy.”

Salah, the current Premier League top scorer with 13 goals, has enjoyed a stellar year for both club and country.

In early 2017, the forward was the central figure for Egypt as they finished runners-up at the Africa Cup of Nations.

He also helped his country secure a ticket to the world after almost 20 years of absence.

It is yet to be seen if Salah will make it a double over Moses and his other rivals as the 25-year is also nominated for the African footballer of the year award.

Boxer in coma after brain surgery

Swedish boxer Erik Skoglund is in a “serious yet stable condition” after having surgery for a bleed on the brain, his promoters have said.

The 26-year-old is in a medically induced coma and Sauerland Promotion said: “The next three to four days are critical for his recovery.”

Skoglund, who has won 26 of his 27 fights, was taken to hospital on Friday after feeling ill following a training session in his hometown of Nykoping.

His last fight was on 16 September.

That was a defeat by Britain’s Callum Smith in the World Boxing Super Series quarter-final in Liverpool, his only loss to date.

He was due to fight Rocky Fielding on the now postponed Tony Bellew-David Haye undercard.

“Doctors are pleased with the results and Erik remains in a serious yet stable condition,” Sauerland said.

Britain’s WBA super-middleweight champion George Groves‏ on Twitter:”So sad and deeply concerning to hear the news Erik Skoglund has fallen ill and is in a medically induced coma. He is such a nice guy, thoughts are with his family and team.”

Britain’s super-middleweight Callum Smith on Twitter: “Thoughts and prayers are with Erik Skoglund and his family. Wishing him a speedy recovery.”

Britain’s light-middleweight Liam Smith on Twitter: “Sad to hear the news about Erik Skoglund. Thoughts with him and his family, hope he pulls through, a real gentlemen of the sport.”

Former WBO cruiserweight champion Enzo Maccarinelli on Twitter‏:”Gutted to hear the news regarding Erik Skoglund, hope he makes a full recovery. Don’t think a lot of people realise the risk that fighters take when we step into that ring.”