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Suarez: Barcelona still looking to win everything, the ambition never changes

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Luis Suarez says an enforced break in Barcelona’s 2019-20 campaign has not impacted the club’s ambition, with the fit-again striker saying everyone at Camp Nou is looking to “win all we can”.

Spanish football has, like many other nations across the world, been in a state of indefinite lockdown since the middle of March.

Competitive action is returning, though, and La Liga chiefs have stated their intention to get seasons played to a finish from June 11.

Leading sides, such as Barcelona, are back in training and counting down the days until they can return to the field once more.

The Blaugrana will be restarting sat two points clear of Clasico rivals Real Madrid at the top of the Liga standings.

They have 11 games left to take in, while Champions League glory also remains up for grabs having reached the last-16 stage of that competition.

Suarez is determined to get his hands on as many prizes as possible, with there no tweaking of targets being undertaken in Catalunya.

He told Sport: “The ambitions are the same, win all we can and I think that we’re in good shape to do that, I see the team doing well and it’s hopeful.”

Barca’s cause will be aided over the coming weeks by the return to fitness of Suarez.

The Uruguay international has been out of action since January 9, with his absence contributing to the emergency signing of Martin Braithwaite.

A period of rest during the coronavirus pandemic has worked in Suarez’s favour, with the 33-year-old claiming that he will be raring to go when Quique Setien next names a starting XI.

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The South American forward, with 14 goals to his name this season, added: “I’m really happy.

“At first I did some days with Juanjo (fitness coach) and then bit by bit I got back into the group. Now I have been working for a few days with the group.

“In part the coronavirus helped me gain time in my recovery, I will be able to play in games in which I wasn’t able to play. I’m very happy for that but there’s the negative side too with the situation that many people are living in today.”

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One Letdown After Another: Natalee Holloway's Unsolved Disappearance and All the Twists That Went Wrong

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Paul van der Sloot died suddenly of a heart attack in February 2010, leaving his son adrift. According to Holloway family attorney John Kelly, a desperate Joran emailed him that March, writing, as Kelly told Dateline, “‘I want to come clean. My father’s dead now. I have nothing to hide. I want to help Natalee’s family, but at a price, you know, for a quarter million dollars…I will tell you what happened to Natalee, where she is now so you can help Beth bring her home.'”

With Beth’s permission, Kelly met with van der Sloot in Aruba, promising to start with $25,000. The young man said he knew where the body was; Kelly asked what would happen if they didn’t pay him. Van der Sloot allegedly replied, “‘Beth can wait another five years.'” The family then turned to the FBI, which helped orchestrate a plan to make van der Sloot think he’d be getting paid in order to catch him committing wire fraud, which would at least be something to hold him on.

Kelly and Van der Sloot met again, and this time Kelly wired him a total of $25,000. In turn, van der Sloot led Kelly to a house near the Aruba Racquet Club, where he claimed he had stashed Holloway’s remains in what was then a freshly poured foundation, before the house was built. Kelly said on Dateline that van der Sloot claimed he had been on the beach with Natalee, he wanted to go, she resisted, and then he “got angry and actually threw her. He actually made the gesture in the car, on video, showing me how he threw her in anger, because she wouldn’t leave at that point. And according to him, she hit the back of her head, lots of blood and she was dead.”

Kelly said he was skeptical of van der Sloot’s overall story, which was that he first hid Natalee’s body at the beach with his father’s help, and then the next day they buried her. But he still hoped they had shaken something loose.

“When I got on the plane May 11 [2010], I thought it was a done deal,” Kelly said. “And he was going to be arrested at some point. That he’d be talking at some point, and we’d get some closure at some point.”

But the house van der Sloot pointed to hadn’t been under construction in 2010, according to the authorities who said they didn’t find his story credible enough to make an arrest. He wasn’t even arrested for wire fraud.

Kelly said that van der Sloot remained in touch with him up until May 25, claiming he would turn himself in. Instead, he flew to Peru.

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Sandesh Jhingan: Every Indian dreams of playing in European League

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Sandesh Jhingan, after a season of sitting on the sidelines, is now raring to make a comeback. The defender is an in-demand player right now with several clubs interested in landing his signature after his departure from Kerala Blasters.

Although the defender did not give away anything about his next destination, he believes that more and more Indian players would ply their trade in the European leagues.

“Every Asian kid, not only Indians, dream to play in European leagues, especially in La Liga and EPL. (But) there are certain laws that restrict your movements. There are so many things involved. But yes, if you have the quality, you will make it. Now a lot of kids know that they can make it. A lot of players are coming in from those leagues in India. Going forward we will see a lot of Indians making it to Europe,” said Jhingan during an Instagram chat hosted by the All India Football Federation (AIFF).

“The kids realise that there are certain steps before realising that dream. Slowly the mentality is changing. In 10-15 years you will see these players making it big in Europe,” stated Jhingan during an online chat show hosted by the All India Football Federation (AIFF).”

But the mercurial defender had a bumpy start to his career as he was rejected by some second and even third division sides in Kolkata before he joined United Sikkim. 

“I had given trials for the second and third division Calcutta teams. They all said no on my face. Then United Sikkim happened. I was such a big fan of Bhaichung (Bhutia) bhai. When I first saw him he was playing small rondos. Then I was watching Renedy (Singh) bhai practicing free-kicks. I just wanted to go and kiss his feet. To be in that club and to get a contract was unbelievable. I was lucky to start my career at United Sikkim. Two months ago, I did not get through second and third division clubs in Calcutta, and then there you were training with your idols,” reminisced Jhingan. 

Although he has left Kerala, the 26-year-old expressed that the fans from the South Indian state will continue to hold a special place in his heart. 

Kerala Blasters Sandesh Jhingan

Kerala Blasters Sandesh Jhingan

“Kerala is my second home. The people of Kerala are like my family. They hold a special place in my heart. They helped me grow as a person. They showered unconditional love. They have been great for the Indian team as well. When I see these things happen and to be a part of this process gives me immense happiness. To play in that stadium (Jawaharlal Nehru stadium in Kochi) was itself a great memory. I would get a hundred stitches on my body to make those fans smile.”

Bundesliga has already restarted after a break due to the Coronavirus pandemic and other top European leagues like La Liga, Serie A, and Premier League are soon to follow suit, albeit in empty stadiums. The Indian football season might also restart with no fans but Jhingan feels that it would not affect his performance on the pitch. 

“There are two sides of football. Fans make football more entertaining. It is also my job to play. If my owner asks me to play in an empty stadium, I will play. You have to do your job the best way you can regardless of the audience. It is for their safety. I will still do the job. It is not going to affect me. But it is not something that you want,” stated the player.

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'Everything happens fast in football' – Onana on Barcelona, Chelsea, PSG interest

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Ajax goalkeeper Andre Onana says it is difficult to tell if it is now the right time to leave the Eredivisie champions.

The 24-year-old is reportedly a transfer target of Chelsea and Paris Saint-Germain following some impressive displays for his club in recent seasons commanding the number one spot.

La Liga giants Barcelona are also said to be keen on the Cameroon goalkeeper who attended La Masia for five years before joining Ajax in 2015.

Despite Onana admitting in November 2019 that he would be interested in a Premier League move, he told Radio Sport Info that “it’s difficult to answer,” if the time to leave Amsterdam has come “because in football everything goes very fast. The truths of today are not tomorrow’s.”

The goalkeeper has two years left on his Ajax contract and was nominated for Goalkeeper of the Year at the 2019 Fifa Ballon d’Or awards.

Having spent five years in Amsterdam, Onana says he has repeatedly been a victim of the racism “scourge” which he says he does not allow to bring him down.

“Yes of course [I have experienced racism]. Racism is my daily life, especially when we play outside with Ajax. I hear things, I see things… But luckily I decided in my life not to dwell on it. It will break me for nothing! This scourge exists in football and it is not ready to end,” said Onana.

In the Cameroon national team, he contends for a starting place with his cousin brother Fabrice Ondoa. with whom he attended the Barcelona youth academy.

Onana and Ondoa have managed to condemn veteran goalkeeper Carlos Kameni to the bench, highlighting the strength of the Indomitable Lions’ goalkeeping department which has always been rich in depth across generations.

Thomas Nkono, Joseph Antoine Bell and Alioum Boukar are some of the legendary goalkeepers who gave fame to Cameroon’s goalkeeping area.

“Cameroon is truly a land blessed by goalkeepers… And I’m not the only one today feeling the weight of responsibility [of being Cameroon goalkeeper]. Fabrice is also aware of this,” Onana continued.

“Fabrice is first of all my cousin so this is the family! Then he and I followed the same training course at Fundesport and Barcelona.

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“Besides, Fabrice was holding my hand when I arrive in Barcelona a year after him.

“Finally, Fabrice Ondoa is older than me so I have to respect him [Ondoa was born in 1995 and Onana in 1996].

“Every time we talk, we always remember where we come from and we say that ‘today the country’s goals are kept by our family.'”

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Sport24.co.za | Former Man United striker: No manager can compare to Sir Alex

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Javier Hernandez says there isn’t a manager coaching today that compares to Sir Alex Ferguson as he laments Manchester United’s decision to hire David Moyes as his successor.

The Red Devils have struggled to hit the heights of Ferguson’s reign since he left in 2013 with Moyes the first manager to attempt to carry on the Scot’s legacy.

Moyes lasted less than a year at the helm after being appointed on a six-year deal, with the club finishing seventh – their lowest-ever Premier League finish.

And Hernandez wasn’t surprised Moyes only lasted months with the former Everton boss too “stubborn” to succeed.

“To be honest, we didn’t have anything personal – Moyes and myself – but it was a mistake that they took him,” Hernandez told Rio Ferdinand on FIVE.

“It was a mistake. That was the first mistake that it’s still haunting – not because of him, he’s not a bad manager, but they thought they were going to take the replacement of the boss, of Sir Alex so quick. It’s impossible!

“Not until now. Even (Pep) Guardiola and (Jurgen) Klopp and (Jose) Mourinho are not at the level of Sir Alex yet. They’re on the way trying to get there. Or (Johan) Cruyff, those kinds of managers. They’re not there but they’re trying to achieve that.

“That changed some United careers that could have been better. Rafael, myself, (Danny) Welbeck, Fabio, too – a lot of players that we need to go away to play.”

When asked if Man Utd got rid of them too quickly, Hernandez replied: “Yeah, definitely.

“Look, another thing. They brought David Moyes. It’s not about being a good or a bad coach or his ideas – I’m not going to question that.

“The problem is, I don’t understand how it’s possible that you’re not that humble or not clever enough to maintain or at least half of what you’re succeeding, the way he was doing it because he’s the greatest of all time.

“That’s why he lasted the seven months he lasted. He was so stubborn and he didn’t have that adaptability and that growth acceptance. You need to grow to be in United.”

Hernandez left United for Real Madrid on loan in 2014 after seeing his game-time limited under Moyes. The following season he signed for Bayer Leverkusen but made a return to the Premier League in 2017 – with Moyes soon to follow him to the club.

The 31-year-old Mexican international currently plays for La Galaxy after a season in La Liga with Sevilla.

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Man Utd negotiating six-month Ighalo loan extension as striker's deal runs down

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Manchester United are continuing negotiations with Shanghai Shenhua over a loan extension for Odion Ighalo, with Goal learning that there is hope a deal can be agreed to keep him at Old Trafford until January 2021.

Former Nigeria international Ighalo arrived at United on loan on the final day of the January transfer window in a deal that would keep him at the club until May 31, when the season would have ordinarily come to an end.

The Covid-19 pandemic and subsequent postponement of football has seen clubs agree to temporarily extend the deals of out-of-contract players so as to allow them to play out the season.

United, however, have been locked in negotiations with Ighalo’s parent club Shanghai Shenhua in a bid to extend his stay so, at the very least, he could see out the campaign upon its resumption on June 17.

Chinese Super League outfit Shenhua were keen to bring the striker back to prepare for the re-start of football in China, but a breakthrough in negotiations in the past week has given Ighalo hope of remaining in Manchester.

With his current deal set to expire on Sunday, it is understood that there is growing confidence a last-minute deal can be agreed to keep the 30-year-old at United until January. Negotiations are now centred around an extension until the new year, rather than just until the end of the current campaign.

United have already had to pay Shenhua a loan fee for the original deal, and the Chinese side would expect another instalment for the extended stay.

While sources say there is hope and confidence a deal can be found between all parties, the extension has yet to be fully agreed upon as the deadline ticks closed. 

Odion Ighalo Ole Gunnar Solskjaer Manchester United 2019-20

Odion Ighalo Ole Gunnar Solskjaer Manchester United 2019-20

Ighalo’s arrival in January was widely criticised as it went against Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s revamped transfer strategy of recruiting young British players.

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However, it was deemed a sensible move as a temporary solution to alleviate injury problems after Marcus Rashford was sidelined with a back injury.

Ighalo has in turn impressed for the club he supported as a child, scoring four goals in his three starts for the Red Devils.

And while Solskjaer is keen to bolster his attacking options in the upcoming transfer window, it is understood that a permanent deal for Ighalo is not being considered as the club explore other alternatives such as Timo Werner of RB Leipzig and Moussa Dembele of Lyon.

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Bhaichung Bhutia – Sahal Abdul Samad can be a great goalscoring midfielder

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Former Indian national team captain Bhaichung Bhutia was all praise for young Indian players like Brandon Fernandes, Anirudh Thapa, Ashique Kuruniyan and Sahal Abdul Samad during a live Instagram chat with the Indian Super League (ISL).

Bhutia particularly praised FC Goa’s Brandon Fernandes and suggested that the FC Goa star’s style of play impressed him.

“They (young players) have been outstanding this season. One player that caught my attention is Brandon and what he did with FC Goa. It also has to do with the way the team has played. They played a good brand of football,” said Bhutia about the Goan midfielder’s performance in the ISL last season which helped FC Goa qualify for the AFC Champions League group stage.

The Sikkimese Sniper also had words of encouragement for Chennaiyin FC‘s Anirudh Thapa, Kerala Blasters‘ Sahal Abdul Samad and Bengaluru FC‘s Ashique Kuruniyan.

He continued, “But you can’t forget Thapa who has been brilliant for the national team. Another player I admire is Sahal. He’s a great talent. We did not get to see much of his game (last season). But from what I’ve seen, I think he’s one player who we need to keep an eye on. With more matches, Ashique (Kuruniyan) is also going to be a better player. He battled injury and came back. He has the speed and ability to get past players.”

The former East Bengal star also spoke about the players he thinks can lead the national team once Sunil Chhetri decides to hang his boots.

“I think there are two players who can lead the team after (Sunil) Chhetri- (Sandesh) Jhingan and Gurpreet (Sandhu). In terms of scoring, I think Sahal can come and fit in. I think he is playing more as a central attacking midfielder and a withdrawn striker. I think once he starts scoring goals, he will get the confidence to be a great finisher.”

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Beyoncé Urges Fans to Stand Up Against Racism in Powerful Message About George Floyd's Death

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Beyonce, The Lion King Premiere, Red Carpet Fashion

Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images

The queen has spoken!

Beyoncé took to social media on Friday evening to share an important and powerful message with her 147 million Instagram followers.

The Homecoming star spoke out over George Floyd‘s death, the murder charges against the police officer who kneeled on Floyd’s neck during his arrest and the three other officers who have yet to be arrested for their involvement.

Moreover, the legendary songstress urged fans to open their eyes to the blatant racism happening in America, because as she noted, “justice is far from being achieved.”

“We need justice for George Floyd,” the singer began her moving video message on Instagram. “We all witnessed his murder in broad daylight. We’re broken and we’re disgusted. We cannot normalize this pain.”

“I’m not only speaking to people of color. If you’re white, black, brown, or anything in-between, I’m sure you feel hopeless about the racism going on in America right now,” she continued.

Adding, “No more senseless killings of human beings. No more seeing people of color as less than human. We can no longer look away.”

The “Savage” singer expressed that “George is all of our family, and humanity.”

“He’s our family because he’s a fellow American. There have been too many times that we’ve seen these violent killings, and no consequences,” she shared. “Yes, someone’s been charged, but justice is far from being achieved. Please sign the petition and continue to pray for peace, compassion and healing for our country.”

“If you want to demand more charges brought on all those involved in the death of George Floyd, click the link in my bio to sign the petition,” her caption read on Instagram, which directed you to her website and included petitions from Change.org, Color of Change, We Can’t Breathe and NAACP.

On Friday afternoon, Derek Chauvin was charged with 3rd-degree murder and manslaughter over Floyd’s death. The former Minneapolis police officer was taken into custody that morning, however the three other officers involved in Floyd’s murder, have only been fired from the police department and have yet to face any charges.

On May 25, footage obtained by bystanders showed Chauvin pinning Floyd to the ground and kneeling on his neck as Floyd pleaded, “I can’t breathe.” He died moments later.

While many stars have spoken out, including—Viola Davis, LeBron James, Gabrielle Union, Gigi Hadid, Taylor Swift and countless others—some have also taken to the streets to protest.

Tinashe and Real Housewives of Atlanta Porsha Williams are just a couple of celebrities who partook in the protests in their cities.

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Klopp reveals ‘random’ Liverpool dream in pursuit of continuous improvement

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Jurgen Klopp has aired his “random” dream for Liverpool, with the German tactician eager to ensure that his side have a clear identity while striving for continuous improvement on the back of any trophy triumphs.

That philosophy has served a proven winner well throughout his coaching career to date.

Considerable success was enjoyed in his homeland with Borussia Dortmund before taking the reins at Anfield in October 2015.

Klopp arrived on Merseyside with Liverpool crying out for someone to help deliver major silverware.

That goal took no less than four years to become fulfilled, but 2019 proved the breakthrough as the Merseysiders picked up Champions League, UEFA Super Cup and Club World Cup titles.

The Reds are also within touching distance of a first Premier League title, with a ‘heavy metal’ brand of football and productive business in the transfer market allowing them to flourish.

Klopp has put his own stamp on one of world football’s most illustrious clubs, with that having always been the aim of a man who has never allowed himself, or those at his disposal, to rest on any laurels.

“My dream was always that we can play in any random shirt, but if you watch us playing you say, ‘Ah, that’s Liverpool’,” Klopp told Western Union of his ambition.

“The identity is that clear that everybody would say ‘Oh, that’s Liverpool.’ That’s what we try.

Jurgen Klopp Liverpool

Jurgen Klopp Liverpool

“We have a few clear rules how we want to play, how we want to defend, where we want to defend, where we want to pass.

“How lively are we? How positive? How brave? Absolutely important for the boys, through all the ranks and through all the teams.

“We won the Champions League final – great. Let’s carry on. The more important information for me was how good we can be; if we are really concentrated, if we are really focused, and if we improve a couple of things we can get even better.

“That was our motivation, using the last season as a basis, not as a sign how close it can be and how much it can hurt [losing the title].

“Of course it hurts but the pain you have, you can decide how much it hurts and you decide what you make with that information.

“We decided to use the information that we are meanwhile a really good football team.

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“If you are a really good football team then you have to win football games, so now it’s about us to decide how many football games we will win.

“We really take it game by game. It’s the most important game in our life – because it’s the only one we play.”

Liverpool are just two wins away from confirming their coronation as kings of England, as they hold a 25-point lead at the top of the Premier League table, and are readying themselves for a return to action after a green light was given for football in England to resume from June 17.

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It's clear football cannot resume competitively under Level 3 lockdown – Safa

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The South African Football Association (Safa) has welcomed Sports Minister Nathi Mthethwa’s decision to allow contact and non-contact sport to resume training under Level 3 of the lockdown. 

There hasn’t been football anywhere in the country since mid-March due to the coronavirus pandemic – and the PSL and Safa have been working together to find the feasibility of football resumption. 

Safa admits Mthethwa’s statement will be helpful in plotting a way forward ahead of Monday’s Joint Liaison Committee (JLC) meeting.   

Acting CEO Tebogo Motlanthe said in the same statement released by the country’s FA that from what the association gathered, no football will resume competitively under Level 3 

“We welcome the fact that athletes can start training under strict specific conditions. Furthermore, there are requirements for thorough monitoring of all athletes to ensure full compliance,” said Motlanthe. 

“It is also clear that contact sport like football and rugby among others cannot resume competitively under alert Level 3 from the Minister’s briefing on Saturday.”

Motlanthe reiterated that Safa’s focus has always been about the health of the players more than anything. 

Mthethwa indicated in his press conference that engagements between his department and different sporting federations will continue, and Motlanthe says the association welcomes such engagements. 

“Safa welcomes such continued engagements, mindful of the negative financial impact Covid-19 has had on sports in general. Football, rugby and cricket are amongst the major sporting codes that have been heavily impacted by the pandemic,” added Motlanthe.

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Mthethwa gave PSL and Safa, among other sporting federations, the next 14 days to inform him in writing the exact date teams will return to the training grounds and further provide an operational guideline including a guarantee in the form of affidavits relating to the testing of all officials. 

That alone means football clubs that fall under both the PSL and Safa may not return to the training grounds until at least mid-June. 

Moreover, this means there could be a possible delay in the return of football matches until at the least July, as teams will require some time to prepare adequately before the restart of official matches. 

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