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    Arsene Wenger: Europe’s ‘Big Five’ Leagues ‘Being Destroyed’

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    Competition in Europe’s biggest leagues is being “destroyed” by clubs who have “huge financial power”, says Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger.

    Frenchman Wenger pointed to examples in France, Germany, England and Spain. Paris St-Germain are 11 points clear in Ligue 1, Bayern Munich have a 16-point advantage in the Bundesliga and Manchester City are 15 points ahead at the top of the Premier League. Wenger said it was clear that “unpredictability has gone down”. He added: “When you look at the five big leagues in Europe, in December we already knew four champions.

    “That means something is not right in our game. The huge financial power of some clubs is basically destroying the competition.” In Spain, Barcelona have an 11-point lead over Atletico Madrid. Defending champions Real Madrid – suffering a surprisingly difficult season – are 19 points behind Barca in fourth place.

    The other league that usually figures in Europe’s ‘top five’ is Italy – where Napoli are a point ahead of Juventus, title winners in the past six seasons. Frenchman Wenger was speaking two days after transfer spending in the Premier League again reached record levels.

    Clubs in England’s top flight spent £150m on Wednesday – the closing day of the winter transfer window – taking their outlay for the month to £430m.

    Barcelona offered Dembele to Man Utd and Chelsea
    Reports from Don Balon suggest that Barcelona can look to sell Ousmane Dembele leave this summer, with the player being offered to Chelsea, Manchester United and Atletico Madrid.

    The 20-year-old Dembele arrived at the Nou Camp from Borussia Dortmund this past summer for a record-breaking fee of 140 million euros including bonuses. The French though, has struggled with injuries this season. He suffered a long-term hamstring injury early in the season and it has now relapsed and the forward will now be out for about three to four weeks.

    Don Balon say that Barcelona are already losing patience with the youngster after he has thus far, failed to impose himself in the first-team. The Catalans could be willing to offload Dembele in the coming summer and they could offer him to the likes of Chelsea, Manchester United and Atletico Madrid. His sale would also be made to make room for Antoine Griezmann, who has drawn strong links with the club in the past few months.

    Olivier Giroud: Arsenal let striker join Chelsea because of World Cup

    Olivier Giroud was “massively popular” at Arsenal but the club “opened the door” on a sale to Chelsea because the striker wanted regular football before the World Cup, says boss Arsene Wenger. Frenchman Giroud, 31, joined the Blues in an £18m deal on the closing day of the winter transfer window, the same day Arsenal completed the club record signing of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.

    He scored 105 goals in 253 games after signing from Montpellier in June 2012. “We owe him a lot,” Wenger said. “It was linked with the Aubameyang deal and he has just had a third baby so it was difficult on the family side for him to leave London. It was difficult to turn down [Chelsea’s offer] just because it is an opponent,” he added.

    “He was massively popular in the dressing room and the club, for all the players that left it was sad to see them go, but Olivier wanted more playing time – he wants as well to go to the World Cup. That is why I opened the door.” Wenger also said Gabon striker Aubameyang – who was signed from Borussia Dortmund for £56m – is a doubt for Saturday’s Premier League fixture at home to Everton.

    Zidane explains why Real Madrid did not sign any players in January

    Zinedine Zidane has claimed that he decided against bolstering his Real Madrid squad during the recent January transfer window because he still has “blind faith” in his current options.

    The Champions League and La Liga holders were expected to make some signings during the January window following a poor start to the season which sees them trailing Barcelona in La Liga by 19 points. At one point, Zidane suggested that he could add a new number nine to compliment Karim Benzema in his attack after Real failed to fill the void left by the respective departures of Alvaro Morata to Chelsea and Mariano Diaz to Lyon during the summer

    Inter Milan star Mauro Icardi and new Manchester United ace Alexis Sanchez were touted as potential candidates to join them with Benzema having scored just two La Liga goals in the opening half of the season. The arrival of an experienced centre-back to cover the summer departure of Pepe was also mentioned as a possibility while Real were also poised to sign goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga. Marca claimed that Real were set to meet the Spaniard’s €20m (£17.6m, $24.5m) release clause to provide competition for Keylor Navas ahead of the second half of the season.

    It was said that Kepa even underwent a medical ahead of completing the move before Zidane decided to block his arrival until the summer. Kepa eventually signed a new deal at Athletic until 2025 with a new €80m release clause and Real will have surely to look somewhere else if they want to replace Navas in the summer.

    Zidane’s decision has been especially surprising given rivals Barcelona broke the bank to sign Philippe Coutinho from Liverpool and Yerry Mina from Palmeiras despite being in a much better position. It has been said that the Real boss did not dare to sign or part ways with anyone during the winter window in order to avoid souring the atmosphere in the dressing room.

    However, Zidane has said that he simply made that decision because he still believes that Cristiano Ronaldo and Co have what it take to turn around the situation in the second half of the season.

     

    Antonio Conte: Chelsea manager says he intends to stay in role at club

    Chelsea manager Antonio Conte says it is his “intention, will and desire” to continue in his job for at least the remaining 18 months of his contract. Italian Conte has been in charge at Stamford Bridge since the summer of 2016, and led the club to the Premier League title in his first season. They currently sit fourth this term, 18 points behind leaders Manchester City.

    On Friday, he again dismissed reports of a rift with the club’s owners, and insisted he was happy in his role. “From the start of this season there have been a lot of speculation and rumours around me,” he said. “The only thing I can tell you now is I still have 18 months of contract with Chelsea. My intention, my will, is to respect the contract. “We signed a three-year contract. I think our desire is to continue our work.

    “This season, the situation has always been the same, with a lot of pressure, and I don’t understand why, always around me. Maybe it is because this is Chelsea. This is the only answer I’m having.

    “But the pressure is normal. When the situation is too calm, you risk being relaxed and losing the anger, the fire. I like to live with this pressure.” Chelsea were beaten 3-0 at home by Bournemouth on Wednesday, and play away at Watford in their next league match on Monday.

     

    MORE TRANSFER NEWS AND GOSSIP…

    West Ham missed out on Algeria striker Islam Slimani, 29, because Leicester refused to deal with Karren Brady after the Hammers vice-chair made comments in a newspaper about the Foxes’ sacking of former manager Claudio Ranieri. Slimani has gone on loan to Newcastle. (Guardian)

    Manchester United will prioritise signing a midfielder this summer to help get the best out of France international Paul Pogba, 24. (Mail)

    Arsenal will revisit a deal for Brazilian forward Malcom, 20, from Bordeaux in the summer, and could target Atletico Madrid and Slovenia keeper Jan Oblak, 25, as a replacement for 35-year-old Czech Petr Cech. (Evening Standard)

    Leicester and Algeria winger Riyad Mahrez, 26, is facing a £200,000 fine as he continues to be absent from training after his proposed move to Manchester City fell through. (Mirror)

    Mahrez’s team-mates are furious with him for missing training, but he feels betrayed by the club. (Sun)

    Chelsea manager Antonio Conte looks set to leave the club this summer. (Guardian)

    Conte is set to be offered a way out of Stamford Bridge by Italy football chiefs, who will ask the 48-year-old to become national boss again. (Sun)

    But the Blues are hoping Conte can concentrate solely on football now the January transfer window is closed. (Telegraph)

    Manchester United want Tottenham boss Mauricio Pochettino to take over once Jose Mourinho leaves Old Trafford. (Manchester Evening News)

    Serie A leaders Napoli were already beginning to cool their interest in Everton and Netherlands midfielder Davy Klaassen, 24, before a dispute over image rights ended a possible loan deal on deadline day. (Liverpool Echo)

    Schalke and Germany midfielder Max Meyer will make a decision on his future in the coming weeks, with Arsenal and Barcelona reportedly keen on the 22-year-old. (Star)

    West Brom are planning contract talks with defender Jonny Evans, 30, after keeping hold of the player in the January transfer window. Evans has a £3m release clause in his contract if the Baggies are relegated. (Daily Mail)

    Tottenham are planning a summer move for Fulham’s English left-back Ryan Sessegnon, 17, and want to find a long-term replacement for 30-year-old Belgium midfielder Mousa Dembele, with Norwich and England Under-21 player James Maddison, 21, an option. (Evening Standard)

    Inter Milan are now favourites to sign Argentine striker Lautaro Martinez, 20, from Racing Club, after interest from Spanish rivals Atletico Madrid and Real Madrid(AS – in Spanish)

    Real Madrid are interested in 25-year-old Brazil and Roma keeper Alisson, who is also a reported target for Liverpool(Mundo Deportivo – in Spanish)

    Roma sporting director Monchi insists there were no bids for Alisson during the January transfer window. (Mirror)

    Belgium midfielder Leander Dendoncker is negotiating a release clause with Anderlecht after the club rejected a deadline-day offer from West Ham(Het Laatste Nieuws – in Dutch)

    Crystal Palace also made an offer for Dendoncker, 22, but it was too late to work out a deal, according to Anderlecht general manager Herman van Holsbeeck. (Sporza – in Dutch)

     

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    She Cranes Star Nuba Reveals Why She Decided To Play For Uganda Not South Sudan; Why She Regrets Giving Birth Early…

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    She Cranes player Mary Nuba

    Born in South Sudan but grew in Uganda, that’s the story of the She Cranes goal shooter Mary Nuba Cholhok who was voted as the best shooter in the just concluded Fast5 Series tournament which was held in New Zealand.

    Uganda emerged in fifth position in the tournament. theGrapevine had a chance to talk to Nuba before she went back to England for her professional career.

    Grapevine: Why did you decide to play for Uganda and not for your native country South Sudan?

    Nuba: South Sudan is still lagging behind in Netball and I’m getting old, that’s why I decided to play for Uganda’s She Cranes.

    Grapevine: What challenges have you faced so far in your career?

    Nuba: Thinking about my five-year baby who stays in Uganda yet I’m in England playing for my professional club.

    Grapevine: Then what about your husband [the baby’s father] ?

    Nuba: I’m not married, though I gave birth.

    Mary Nuba was awarded Fans player of the Fast5 Series tournament

    Grapevine: How did you manage giving birth and playing Netball?

    Nuba: I realized that later that I made a mistake of getting pregnant. But I stood on my feet, forgot all the past and decided to move on with my child and my career.

    Grapevine: How do you manage those good performances?

    Nuba: I work very hard ever day in order to achieve my goals.

    Grapevine: Where do you see She Cranes in four years to come?

    Nuba: I see She Cranes winning the Netball World cup because we have good players who are still young.

    Grapevine: Tell us about the best game in your career?

    Nuba: When we defeated South Africa in the Common Wealth games in Birmingham.

    Grapevine: Who’s your role model in the game of Netball?

    Nuba: Peace Proscovia because of the way she managed to lift her life from a poor background. She is now superstar in the game.

     

     

    By Juma Ali

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    MIRACLE: All She Cranes Players Return After Incidents Of Players Disappearing While On Duty Abroad…

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    She Cranes players and one of the start player Goal Shooter Mary Cholhok Nuba

    It was a miracle this time around after all the She Cranes players returned from New Zealand.

    It has been a habit for some Netball players to escape when the team travels for international tournaments.

    Just last month, two She Cranes players; Nakanyike Shakira, who was a Police Player and Rose Namutebi, who was a KCCA Player, disappeared in UK, during She Cranes international friendlies.

    The disappearance of these two players followed the disappearance of centre Player, Halimah Nakachwa, who disappeared in UK, in 2017 during another international friendly in UK.

    However, this time around, all the nine players who went for the first five series tournament in New Zealand, where She Cranes emerged fifth, after wining three games and losing three games, all returned with the team.

    National players disappearing while on duty abroad is also a habit in other sports disciplines like; boxing, table tennis, Rugby among others.

     

    By Juma Ali

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    It’s Time For Golola To Rest: I’m Going To Punch Him Into Retirement – General Fungu Vows…

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    Moses Golola (L) and General Fungu (R)

    General Hamza Fungu has vowed to fight Moses Golola and send him into retirement come 26th December. 2022.

    Fungu said this during the launch at Akamwesi gardens today.

    Uganda’s middle weight kick boxing champion, Golola Moses is set to face his former trainer, General Hamza Fungu on bixing day at Akamwesi shopping mail gardens.

    Golola, who is known for his many words said that he has beaten many fighters who were better than Fungu, “now look at this piglet, I’m going to show him why I’m called Golola Moses ‘of Uganda ‘  and I call upon Ugandans to come and be witnesses on that day.”

    Though Golola said that he signed a contract which allows both fighters to fight until one gets tired, officials in charge of organizing the show said they will fight K-1 style for five rounds.

    Grapevine had a chance to sit down with Golola’s challenger General Fungu and and this is what he had to say;

    theGrapevine: How are you prepared for this fight?

    Fungu: I’m well prepared but they have also given us enough time. So, I’m going to prepare more.

    theGrapevine: Why, among fighters did you choose Golola?

    Fungu: I have been asking to fight Golola for the last five years but he has been dodging me. He one time asked for 20,000 dollars to fight me.

    theGrapevine: Why do you think he accepted this time around?

    Fungu: I think this time, he has been given a lot of money.

    theGrapevine: Which tactics are you going to use to defeat Golola?

    Fungu : Golola has words but I have the tactics which will defeat Golola.

    theGrapevine: Many people have come out to challenge Golola but he finally wins?

    Fungu : He has been favoured many times.

    theGrapevine: Is it true that the contract you signed for the fight allows you to fight until one of you gets tired?

    Fungu : The contract is a disadvantage to Golola not me because I was born a fighter.

    theGrapevine: What next after this fight?

    Fungu : After this fight, I will fight three more three bouts and retire.

     

    By Juma Ali

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