Alexis Sanchez passes medical and completes Marseille move

By Sports Desk August 10, 2022

Alexis Sanchez officially signed his contract as a Marseille player on Wednesday after passing a medical with the Ligue 1 club.

A busy week for Sanchez had seen him depart Inter on Monday when his contract was terminated, before Marseille announced a deal in principle had been agreed on Tuesday.

Marseille fans were made to wait little longer for formal confirmation of an eye-catching signing.

The former Barcelona, Arsenal and Manchester United man arrives in France looking to recapture his best form, having started only seven matches in Serie A last season – albeit he still scored five goals.

Sanchez had netted seven for Inter the previous season, again often appearing from the bench, as the Nerazzurri won the Scudetto.

Marseille's statement on Wednesday described Sanchez as "a world-class player with a great experience of the very highest level".

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  • Mac Allister braced for Netherlands test Mac Allister braced for Netherlands test

    Alexis Mac Allister's rise to prominence in the Argentina squad has surprised even himself, and the Brighton midfielder is relishing the prospect of Friday's World Cup quarter-final against the Netherlands.

    Mac Allister did not play Argentina's first game in Qatar, a stunning 2-1 defeat to Saudi Arabia, but has subsequently cemented a place in Lionel Scaloni's midfield and quickly emerged as a key player.

    Argentina take on the Oranje at Lusail Stadium with a place in the semi-finals at stake and Mac Allister is excited at the prospect.

    "If you would have told me this [how influential he has become] before the World Cup I would have signed up for it, for sure," he said.

    "It has been a fast integration but the credit for that goes to my colleagues and the technical staff."

    The Netherlands will pose a serious threat to Argentina's hopes but Mac Allister was more interested in talking up his team-mates than spending too much time worrying about Louis van Gaal's men.

    He added: "We know they have great players, and a very clear style, but we have our own weapons and will try to counter theirs.

    "There is a great history between the sides but if we do things right everything will be fine."

    The nations have met five times previously at the World Cup, with the last coming in 2014 when Argentina won a semi-final clash in Brazil on penalties after a turgid 0-0 draw.

    Van Gaal was also in charge of the Dutch on that occasion, during his second spell of three at the helm, and Mac Allister was full of admiration for the 71-year-old.

    "I remember watching that game with my family at home," he said. "I enjoyed it and now I am here. Being able to play these matches is a great joy.

    "We know he's a top coach, world renowned, and there is a great deal of respect from everyone in our camp, including me. His teams always have variation but with a clear idea. We are up against a great team."

    Lionel Messi has been Argentina's standout player so far in Qatar and stopping him could be key to the outcome.

    Reports in the Netherlands suggest Van Gaal is considering employing someone to man mark the Paris Saint-Germain star but Argentina boss Lionel Scaloni claims to have seen it all before.

    He said: "We are used to our opponents coming up with something different. We will see but, during the match, there are always modifications, and that’s something we are likely to do as well.

    "Let's wait and see but we have played matches before when there has been man-marking on Leo."

    Argentina have injury concerns over Rodrigo De Paul and Angel Di Maria but Scaloni was not giving much away regarding their availability.

    "Today we have the last training session so we will see how they feel," he said. "Rodrigo trained on Wednesday so let's see what happens in today's session. Angel also trained so we will decide later today."

  • Croatia v Brazil: Neymar proud of matching Pele and Ronaldo as Tite explains dance joy Croatia v Brazil: Neymar proud of matching Pele and Ronaldo as Tite explains dance joy

    Brazil coach Tite has explained that joining in with his team's celebrations against South Korea was not an act of disrespect to the opposition.

    The Selecao ran out 4-1 winners against South Korea on Monday as they sealed their place in the World Cup quarter-finals in style.

    Vinicius Junior opened the scoring before Neymar converted a penalty after a foul on Richarlison, who added a sublime third prior to Lucas Paqueta rounding off Brazil's haul.

    After Richarlison's goal, which capped a superb move, Tite celebrated with the Tottenham forward by performing the 'pigeon' dance.

    He was criticised by some sections of the media, but Tite has explained he meant no disrespect.

    "We try to adapt to the athletes' characteristics. They are young, I have to get closer to their language," he said.

    "One day we were training and I said to Richarlison 'if you score a goal, I'll dance'.

    "I told the players to hide me a little, I know about the visibility.

    "I didn't want it to have any other interpretation than the joy of the goal, the result, the performance, but not disrespect for the opponent or Paulo Bento, who I have great respect for."

    With his goal, meanwhile, Neymar matched Pele and Ronaldo as the third Brazil player to score at three different World Cups. 

    The Paris Saint-Germain star is also just one short of matching Pele's record goal haul of 77 for Brazil.

    "Achieving marks is a great source of pride," Neymar said.

    "I reached numbers that I would never have imagined reaching, that's always very good. It makes me very happy."

     

    Croatia stand between Brazil and a place in the last four.

    Brazil have never lost in four previous meetings with Croatia, with this their first meeting since a 2-0 friendly win in June 2018.

    Brazil are looking to reach the World Cup semi-final for the ninth time, with only Germany (12) doing so more often. 

    Croatia, runners-up in 2018, have reached at least the last four of the competition on both previous occasions they've made it out of the group stages (1998 and 2018).

    PLAYERS TO WATCH

    Brazil – Neymar

    Neymar has been involved in 15 goals in his last 11 appearances for Brazil in all competitions (eight goals, seven assists), with each of his last six goals for the national side coming from the penalty spot.

    Last time out against South Korea, he became the first Brazil player on record (since 1966) to both score and provide an assist at three different World Cup tournaments.

    Croatia – Luka Modric

    Real Madrid star Luka Modric was not on the pitch as Croatia progressed past Japan on penalties in the last 16, but if Zlatko Dalic's team are to beat Brazil, the 37-year-old will surely be crucial.

    He will go up against former Madrid club-mate Casemiro, and will need the assistance of Marcelo Brozovic and Mateo Kovacic, but if Modric can wield his influence, Croatia have a chance.

    PREDICTION

    Croatia have lost four of their five World Cup games against South American sides, with the exception being a 3-0 win over Argentina in 2018. Two of those four defeats have been against Brazil – 1-0 in 2006 and 3-1 in 2014.

    Despite getting to the final in Russia, Croatia have been handed only an 11.5 per chance of victory by Opta's model, which has Brazil as the favourites with 68.2 per cent.

    The draw is at 20.3 per cent.

  • Ziyech needs 'change of air' and should join Man Utd – El Haddaoui Ziyech needs 'change of air' and should join Man Utd – El Haddaoui

    Hakim Ziyech needs a "change of air" and should join Manchester United from Chelsea, former Morocco international Mustapha El Haddaoui has told Stats Perform.

    The 29-year-old has fallen out of favour at Stamford Bridge, with just one start and five appearances in the Premier League this season.

    A major U-turn occurred at international level, however, with Ziyech back in the fold for Morocco following Vahid Halilhodzic's exit and the arrival of Walid Regragui.

    Ziyech has played a key part in the side's stellar performances at the World Cup, with the Atlas Lions reaching the quarter-finals for the first time in their history and becoming the first African side to reach the last eight since Ghana in 2010.

    El Haddaoui is now calling for a similar turnaround at club level, as he wants to see a move across the Premier League to reunite with Erik ten Hag, who Ziyech played under at Ajax.

    "He has to change of air because over there, [Chelsea] don't trust him. Now he is coming back very strong," he said.

    "His problem with Vahid, who didn't want to call him, disturbed him. In the national team, when there is a FIFA date, everyone joins their selections. He stays there [in London] and it went around in his head.

    "He sees that among the others who are with him at Chelsea, who go to the national team, he is of the same level, even superior, and he has lost a little bit of confidence.

    "The coach who was there or the one who arrived afterwards didn't have much confidence in him.

    "Afterwards, when you don't play, you lack playing time, you lack motivation, and you lack timing in the match. Now we see his potential, we see what he is capable of, but he has many offers.

    "He has to move from Chelsea or go to Manchester United because the Ajax coach wanted him, he had him in his team. But he will bounce back. But now he has to leave during the transfer window."

    Morocco's performances at the World Cup have inspired hope across the African continent, though El Haddaoui was always optimistic about the Atlas Lions.

    "It's not just a pleasure, it's an exceptional joy, given what this team has shown, this Moroccan team," he added.

    "I believed in it from the start. When the draw was made, I told myself that Morocco had a chance and that they would go through to the second round with another country. I knew that this generation had potential.

    "Moreover, with the change of coach, the arrival of Walid Regragui has given new life to this team and the players. He made a call for the return of Ziyech and [Noussair] Mazraoui.

    "How can we do without this world-class player? I hope we will go all the way. We were dreaming about it, but now it's starting to happen."

    Portugal stand in the way in Morocco's bid to become the first African nation to reach the semi-finals of the World Cup, with a meeting set for Saturday at Al Thumama Stadium.

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