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Official: Barcelona confirm the return of Xavi Hernández as first team coach

Late on Friday evening Barcelona announced that they had agreed a deal to secure the return of former player and club legend Xavi Hernández as first team coach. A club statement read: “FC Barcelona have reached an agreement with Xavi Hernández for him to become first team coach for the rest of the current season and two more seasons. Xavi Hernández, a youth team product at Barça, has left his current club, Al-Sadd of Qatar, after talks held over the last few days with the owners of the club.” The former midfielder returns to his boyhood club, with whom he spent 17 trophy-laden years as a player and won eight La Liga titles and four Champions Leagues. Xavi replaces another Barça alumni, Ronald Koeman, who was sacked last week after a poor run of form which culminated in an embarrassing 1-0 defeat at the hands of newly-promoted Rayo Vallecano. Despite being in a desperate financial position and being forced to operate under stringent financial controls, the club felt they had no choice b
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Xavi the Coach

Xavi Hernández once said that out of everyone in his family, the biggest Culé of all was probably his mother Maria Mercè Creus.  That was surprising coming from someone like him - very few players have identified with FC Barcelona, or become as closely associated with the club quite like he has. Until only recently no one else had played as many games for the club as he had - his all-time appearances record - 767 matches, was only overtaken by Leo Messi earlier this year. Xavi joined Barça in July 1991, registering for the youth academy, La Masia when he was just 11 years old. Like many of the boys in his age group, he gradually made his way up through the youth categories but he was one of the few to make the grade. A technical report from his time in the Under-14s noted his ability to conduct the ball out from midfield - “A good understanding of how to protect the ball, he hardly ever loses it”. Within three years he had become a regular for Spain’s Under-17s. Louis van Gaal included

Newcastle Agrees deal in principle for New Manager

Howe has been out of work since leaving Bournemouth in the summer of 2020 following their relegation from the Premier League. Eddie Howe has agreed a deal in principle to become the new Newcastle United manager on a two-and-a-half-year contract. According to Sky Sports, Newcastle's new owners were impressed with the way the English coach presented his views on the Premier League club as well as his level of detail and research. It is unlikely the former Bournemouth boss will take charge for Saturday's Premier League match at Brighton but both sides want to complete the appointment in time for this weekend's match. The 43-year-old has been out of work since leaving Bournemouth in the summer of 2020 following their relegation to the Championship. Jason Tindall, Stephen Purches and Simon Weatherstone are set to join Howe as his backroom staff. Howe began his managerial career in December 2008 as caretaker of Bournemouth. Villarreal head coach Unai Emery was the favourite to ta

Erling Haaland not expected to return to action until 2022

Erling Haaland watched from the box at Signal Iduna Park as Ajax once again beat Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League this week. The Bundesliga side's chances of reaching the next round of the Champions League are getting slimmer.  In the first encounter between the teams this season, Haaland picked up an injury that could see him ruled out until next year.  Dortmund announced in early October that he would be out for a few weeks, however it now looks like it will be much longer than that. According to leaks to the German press there seemed to be hope that he would return in early December to play against rivals Bayern Munich in a crucial Bundesliga clash on 4 December. Former player Jan Aage Fjörtoft - a close friend of the Haaland family - explained that "the game against Ajax may have been Haaland's last for the rest of the year". Borussia Dortmund have stayed quiet on the issue, and have yet to release an update on his expected recovery, and it was his father

Real Madrid enter the race for 19yr Old Salzburg star

Real Madrid are constantly in the market for the brightest young talents and have officially entered the race for Salzburg star Karim Adeyemi.  The 19-year-old forward, who has been capped three times buy Germany, has set the Austrian Bundesliga alight this season and plundered 14 goals in 21 games across all competitions, at a rate of one every 100 minutes, drawing inevitable conclusions with another former Salzburg striker, Erling Braut Haaland.  According to German media outlet Sport1, Adeyemi’s representatives were in Madrid on Thursday to meet with the Bernabéu board over a potential transfer. Adeyemi has been attracting interest from around Europe with PSG, Liverpool and Atlético also linked with the forward, although in Germany the feeling is that Bayern Munich will make a move soon as it is expected the Bavarian giants will be priced out of the race to sign Haaland next summer.  Adeyemi spent two years in the Bayern academy before moving to SpVgg Unterhaching. There is also int

Bellingham and Rashford in England squad, Sancho out

Gareth Southgate's latest England squad sees returns for Marcus Rashford and Jude Bellingham, but Jadon Sancho and Jesse Lingard miss out. Marcus Rashford and Jude Bellingham have been recalled to Gareth Southgate's England squad for the upcoming World Cup qualifiers, but Jadon Sancho and his Manchester United team-mate Jesse Lingard miss out. England require just four points to qualify for Qatar 2022 from the visit of Albania on Friday November 12 and their final qualifier away to San Marino three days later. It is Rashford's first call-up since his missed penalty in the Euro 2020 final shootout defeat to Italy as he has only recently recovered from shoulder surgery, while Bellingham comes back into the squad after being left out for previous games against Andorra and Hungary. A lack of game time at club level appears to have cost Sancho and Lingard their places in the squad as the United duo miss out. Speaking after making the squad announcement, Southgate said: "Wit

Saviour Cristiano Ronaldo ready for Manchester derby

  Cristiano Ronaldo came to Manchester United's rescue yet again on Tuesday, with a brilliant volley sealing a 2-2 draw with Atalanta. It was Ronaldo's second goal of the game, and his fifth in the Champions League this season. Three of those goals have come after the 80th minute. While United have struggled since Ronaldo arrived back at Old Trafford, there is no doubting his quality and ability to stand tall in decisive moments – something that has arguably saved Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's job after a difficult start to the campaign. United's 3-5-2 set-up negated Spurs, albeit the Red Devils face an altogether different task when they host neighbours Manchester City in Saturday's early kick-off. Solskjaer might have bought himself time, but United have a tendency to drag their manager back from the brink. He has a good record against City, but given United's last home game saw them lose 5-0 to Liverpool, Solskjaer may well not survive another drubbing. United's

Fernando Torres: Mo Salah is the best in the world

Mohamed Salah has been in outstanding during the opening months of the season, scoring 15 goals and providing six assists in just 14 matches across the Premier League and Champions League. "One hundred per cent. I think not only this year, the last two or three seasons have been amazing," Fernando Torres replied, when asked by if Salah is the world’s finest at present. "You’re always talking about individual trophies for players when they win trophies at the same time, but I think he has been one of the best two or three players in the world in the past five or six years. It’s amazing, the consistency. "You can see he breaks all the records and keeps scoring goals. We chat sometimes and I’m really happy for him because I saw him when he came to England – it was difficult at the beginning but he is a great guy and a great player and he is showing the world." Torres on managing Atlético youth side Torres is now a youth coach at Atlético Madrid and

Man Utd manager Solskjaer hails 'incredible' Cristiano Ronaldo

Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has hailed Cristiano Ronaldo as 'incredible'. The 36-year-old scored two equalisers for United in their 2-2 draw with Atalanta on Tuesday, including a stoppage-time volley. Speaking to reporters, Solskjaer said: "It is a tight game, flowed both ways, their two goals were very tight and we thought the first was offside, I thought he interfered with David de Gea's view but Cristiano (Ronaldo) is just incredible if there is anyone you want a chance to fall to and a difficult chance, it is just incredible… "That is football, no one can question the character of these players, because they don't ever give up and give in, they just keep going. We had to make changes and they worked. "The goal was a proper team goal, great quality on the passing, four or five or six passes before that little exchange as well. "You don't plan to concede a goal, I thought it was offside, usually he would save that one. The at

Breaking: Tottenham Appoint Antonio Conte as New Manager

Tottenham Hotspur have appointed former Chelsea, Juventus and Inter Milan coach Antonio Conte to replace Nuno Espirito Santo. Conte returns to the Premier League having won the division with Chelsea in 2017 and the FA Cup a year later. He also won Serie A during his spells at Juventus and Inter. Conte left Inter in May following their title success amid reports the club needed to cut costs amid the coronavirus pandemic. Reports last week suggested Conte was not keen to take charge of a club midseason, following links to replace Ole Gunnar Solskjaer at Manchester United. The Italian was also approached to take over at Tottenham ahead of the 2021-22 campaign before Nuno was appointed. Other names in the frame following Jose Mourinho's exit included Paulo Fonseca, Mauricio Pochettino, Graham Potter, Gennaro Gattuso, Erik ten Hag, Brendan Rodgers and Julian Nagelsmann as Tottenham conducted a chaotic process to appoint a new manager. Sources have told ESPN that Conte's readiness to