Sunday, July 14, 2024

Latest football news and transfer; Jude Bellingham debate and build-up to Europa Conference League final – BBC


Flick named as new Barcelona coach
Bellingham voted player of the year in La Liga
Dortmund distance themselves from Greenwood talk
Five players depart Newcastle
Chelsea remain in talks with Leicester boss Enzo Maresca
Build-up to Europa Conference League final between Olympiakos v Fiorentina (20:00 BST)
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Ben Collins, Jonty Colman & Alastair Telfer
So, that is all from us for today. Make sure you come back later for live coverage of the Europa Conference League final between Olympiakos and Fiorentina. Read our preview to that huge game in Athens here.
Thanks for joining us. You can now click on any of the links below or in our summary points for more on today's top stories:
Until next time!
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As a Newcastle fan I'd like to send heartfelt thanks to Paul Dummett and Matt Ritchie. Both stuck with us through the bad times and were instrumental in our recovery. Matt Ritchie was brilliant during our promotion season back to the prem. Both players clearly brought a professionalism into the dressing room that supported Eddie Howe when he arrived and was trying to change the culture at the club to a modern and elite athlete mentality. Cheers lads
Newcastle United
ICYMI… Paul Dummett, Loris Karius and Matt Ritchie are among five players who will leave Newcastle when their contracts expire next month.
Marc Brys has been replaced as head coach of Cameroon – without taking charge of a game. The decision came after he was involved in a heated exchange with Samuel Eto'o, the president of the country's football federation (Fecafoot).
Martin Ndtoungou was named as interim boss of the Indomitable Lions following an emergency meeting of Fecafoot's executive committee.
A statement from the governing body cited "disrespectful comments" by Brys and "an outright refusal to collaborate" among several reasons for replacing the Belgian, as well as "inappropriate behaviour" by the coach and his assistants.
Former OH Leuven boss Brys was appointed in early April by Cameroon's sport ministry but Fecafoot expressed its "great astonishment" at the move and said the decision had been "taken unilaterally".
Ex-Barcelona, Inter Milan and Chelsea striker Eto'o had reportedly drawn up his own list of higher-profile candidates for the role and was not present when Brys, 62, was presented as the new Cameroon coach.
The two men met at Fecafoot's offices in Yaounde on Tuesday, but videos on social media showed a fiery conversation between the pair before Brys swiftly left.
New Barcelona manager Hansi Flick has been speaking following his appointment earlier this afternoon.
"First of all, I’d like to say thanks to everyone who has been included. It’s a big honour, a dream for me to sign my contract here," he said.
"It is a massive honour to work for this club, this amazing and I am happy to start. The club is really unbelievable, I can’t believe in the hours I have been here how amazing it is here. I love this club and I will try to give them the best success.
"We won some titles with Bayern Munich and my hunger is really big for titles. I would like to stay on this path with Barcelona and I think we can achieve a lot together and this is an important thing.
"I would really like to start this journey together with you (the fans) and for me, it’s really important you support us and it is a big thing also for the team. I think together, we can achieve a lot with this amazing team."
Simon Stone
BBC Sport

European clubs want help in dealing with environmental issues. The influential European Clubs’ Association surveyed its 600-plus members for what it felt were their wider sustainability priorities across 11 specific topics.
Surprisingly, climate and advocacy came much lower down than equality and inclusion, anti-racism and child and youth protection.
The ECA’s head of sustainability Gaia Pretner doesn’t believe the survey shows clubs are dismissive of the problem, more highlighting their lack of answers.
“We asked clubs where they felt they were stronger and where they felt they needed more help and it was so evident the environmental area was where they feel they need help and support,” she said.
In December, the ECA said it had offset emissions created by its General Assembly in Berlin in September.
Pretner accepts ‘offsetting is not the best strategy’ but wanted to find a benchmark from which the ECA could ‘start the framework for launching the sustainability strategy’.
She accepts reducing emissions is the best way forward, although the ECA believe that realistically, at a time when European competitions are expanding, trying to implement best practice on a match-by-match basis is more achievable than simply stopping the development of the game.
And, according to Malmo chief executive Niclas Carlnen, some methods of carbon reduction have negative spin-off in other humanitarian areas.
“When we built our club, we also built hope and togetherness,” he said. “In Malmo we have 185 different nationalities.
“Yes, opening the door for more clubs has an effect on the environment but it also has a positive effect on the local society. You need to find prioritisation within sustainability.
“If we are able to be positive role models and do good things in terms of taking care of refugees or other things in our society, hopefully others will follow and society can become a little bit better.”
An England team containing the Premier League's best player, La Liga's best player and the winner of the European Golden Boot has surely got to claim the Euros this summer. The best chance we've ever had (since we were 1-0 up at Wembley against an under strength Italian team).
Mr Sitter, Little Sutton
Olympiakos v Fiorentina (20:00 BST)
BBC World Service
On what coach Jose Luis Mendilibar has done to make Olympiakos competitive in Europe, Stelios Giannakopoulos added: “That’s another big question. As a football person myself, I was always very careful, especially when you’re not in the dressing room. You don’t know what’s been said or been happening in training sessions, team meetings and all these moments that a coach has quality time with his players. But I think he’s a very experienced manager, he has made it in the past with his clubs in Spain, he has been champion in the Europa League.
"With his experience, his calibre, his personality – he has created a very strong bond with the players – and if you manage to win the dressing room, and you manage to make the players play for the club or even play for you as the manager, you are already successful. This is my sense, that he has won the trust of the players and the players play for him as well.”
Olympiakos v Fiorentina (20:00 BST)
BBC World Service
Victory over Fiorentina in Athens would make Olympiakos the first Greek club to win a European trophy.
"These type of wins put you on the football map, no doubt about that," added Stelios Giannakopoulos.
"It attracts better players to the Greek Super League, of course Olympiakos can attract even bigger stars in order to make a better or similar run in European competitions next year, and it’s very good in general for Greek football.
"It's a good motivation for young players to have dreams to chase their dreams to the end. At the end of the day, you see that everything is possible. Even a Greek club can lift the trophy, so it's huge in every aspect you analyse it from."
Olympiakos v Fiorentina (20:00 BST)
BBC World Service
Former Bolton and Olympiakos midfielder Stelios Giannakopoulos has compared his former club's run to the Europa Conference League final to Greece's victory at Euro 2004.
Olympiakos side beat Aston Villa 6-2 on aggregate in the semi-finals and now aim to become the first Greek club to win a major European trophy.
Stelios, 49, was a member of the Greece team which were underdogs heading into Euro 2004 but beat a star-studded France side 1-0 in the quarter-finals before going on to win 1-0 in the final against hosts Portugal, who featured a teenager named Cristiano Ronaldo.
Stelios told the BBC: "It was a huge statement to win two games against Aston Villa, especially away from home. You manage to match a club like Aston Villa – with huge players and a very good manager, with a Champions League position in the Premier League – away from home, that says a lot.
"That says that Olympiakos has gone really far, beyond Greece. This reminds me of our run in Portugal at Euro 2004, especially the game against France when we managed to beat France with all the big stars. That was a big indication and the trigger point that we can go all the way and win the trophy. In this case, Olympiakos has made it with Aston Villa. This is a sign for me that it’s time for Olympiakos to go all the way and win this major trophy."
Olympiakos v Fiorentina (20:00 BST)
Jose Luis Mendilibar was a late-season saviour at Sevilla last year as he replaced Jorge Sampaoli in March and went on to not only stave off relegation but guide the club to its seventh Europa League title. A year on and he's aiming to replicate his European heroics in the Europa Conference League with Olympiakos.
Despite last season's success, Mendilibar was sacked in October after Sevilla won just two of their opening eight league matches. The Spanish coach had previously bounced around clubs in his homeland but was appointed Olympiakos boss in February – his first venture outside his homeland in 30 years of coaching.
The 63-year-old was tasked with steering the Greek club into the top-three places of the Greek Super League while maintaining a respectable European campaign – and he has surpassed the latter target.
The team came into the Conference League after finishing third in their Europa League group so had to qualify via the knockout round play-offs, but they saw off Ferencvaros, Maccabi Tel Aviv, Fenerbahce and Aston Villa to reach their first European final. They now have the chance to become the first Greek club to win a major European trophy.
"It would be amazing," said Mendilibar. "We'd go down in Olympiakos and Greek football history.
"We'll see. We know it'll be very tough against an Italian side who compete at the top, but you never know in finals; they're anyone's game."
Olympiakos v Fiorentina (20:00 BST)
West Ham ended their 43-year wait for a major trophy as Jarrod Bowen scored a last-minute goal to beat Fiorentina last year and win the Europa Conference League in Prague.
The final seemed to be heading for extra time after Said Benrahma's second-half penalty was cancelled out just seven minutes later by a well-taken effort from Giacomo Bonaventura.
It was a testy and sometimes bad-tempered game in Prague – at one point Fiorentina captain Cristiano Biraghi was struck by a plastic bottle thrown from the West Ham section.
But the match was settled in dramatic fashion as Bowen timed his run to perfection as Lucas Paqueta slid a pass through the Fiorentina defence.
The England forward ran free, steadied himself, then beat Pietro Terracciano with a calm finish to thrill the Hammers' fans – who were far greater in number than the 5,000 tickets they were allotted.
Olympiakos v Fiorentina (20:00 BST)
After losing last year's Europa Conference League final to West Ham, Fiorentina captain Cristiano Biraghi has said his side will be looking for "revenge" in Athens later.
"A year has passed, but it's still fresh," he said. "There is bitterness, but in the joyous moments, and in the negative ones, you want to share it with those who have been with you throughout the journey; the fans.
"We want revenge and we want to come away with the trophy because of all the hard work we have put in over the last three years under this coach (Vincenzo Italiano), and also for those who are unfortunately no longer here."
Fiorentina’s general director Joe Barone passed away in March, external after a sudden illness.
Olympiakos v Fiorentina (20:00 BST)
The Europa Conference League final takes place later, with Greek side Olympiakos facing Italian outfit Fiorentina at the AEK Arena in Athens.
Olympiakos are based in the Athens port city of Piraeus so they have a short journey as their stadium is just 8.5 miles from the home of rivals AEK Athens, where the final will take place.
Despite having to come through the knockout round play-offs, they overcome Ferencvaros, Maccabi Tel Aviv, Fenerbahce and Aston Villa to reach their first European final.
Fiorentina, meanwhile, knocked out Maccabi Haifa, Viktoria Plzen and Club Brugge to reach the final for a second straight season after losing 2-1 to West Ham in Prague last year. This is their sixth European final, with their sole triumph coming in the now-defunct European Cup Winners' Cup in 1960-61.
On the topic of Chelsea….
On this day in 2019 the Blues lifted the Europa League and two years later on this day they lifted the Champions League.
If it is Enzo Maresca, when will these days return?
But surely there will be some expectations on Enzo Maresca if he becomes the new Chelsea boss??
Chelsea fan Teema Nicholls told us that Maresca must win a trophy and secure a top-four finish to be sure of keeping his job beyond next season.
She adds that it would be "an incredible decision" to appoint the Italian and that the club's owners would be taking "a massive risk".
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The Football News Show: Top four or go – can Enzo Maresca meet Chelsea fan expectations?
As Raphael Honigstein explains below, Vincent Kompany's footballing philosophy is a major factor in Bayern Munich looking to appoint him as coach.
Here, BBC Sport football news reporter Nizaar Kinsella explains that Chelsea also want someone to establish a playing style at Stamford Bridge and they expect Enzo Maresca to focus on managing the players and installing his desired tactics.
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The Football News Show: Why Chelsea prefer a head coach to a manager
Shamoon Hafez
BBC Sport football news reporter

Former Nottingham Forest manager Steve Cooper has declined the opportunity to pursue the Burnley job once it becomes available.
Welshman Cooper has been out of work since being sacked by Forest in December and is instead aiming for a return to the Premier League.
Newly-promoted Leicester City is a possible destination for the 44-year-old, with current Foxes boss Enzo Maresca in talks to join Chelsea.
Burnley coach Vincent Kompany is closing in on a shock move to Bayern Munich after he agreed a deal in principle to join the Bundesliga giants.
BBC Sport understands former Chelsea and Everton coach Frank Lampard would be interested in taking over at Turf Moor should the opportunity arise.
It is believed Kompany has agreed a deal until 2027, with Bayern set to pay £10.2m in compensation.
Back at Hansi Flick's former club Bayern Munich, Vincent Kompany is set to become Thomas Tuchel's successor – a surprise appointment after he was unable to stop Burnley being relegated from the Premier League.
German football expert Raphael Honigstein discussed why the Belgian was chosen to become Bayern's new coach on the Monday Night Club.
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Bayern Munich: Raphael Honigstein on Vincent Kompany
Hansi Flick served as Germany's assistant manager under Joachim Low, helping his home country win the 2014 World Cup.
In 2019 he joined Bayern Munich as an assistant coach to Niko Kovac before earning the coach's job after Kovac left his position in November 2019.
In 2020 alone, Flick guided Bayern to six trophies, including the Champions League, before being appointed Germany coach in July 2021.
But he enjoyed less success in charge of the national team. Flick was in charge at the 2022 World Cup, when Germany failed to advance from the group stage, and he became the first Germany coach to be sacked in September 2023 after a run of three straight defeats.
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