Rumour Has It: Barca want Isak as alternative to Haaland

By Sports Desk October 19, 2021

Erling Haaland is the name on everyone's lips.

He has starred for club and country, but Real Sociedad's Swedish forward Aleksandar Isak has also impressed.

Isak could be lured to Barcelona if Haaland is not available.

 

TOP STORY – ISAK WANTED AT CAMP NOU

Barcelona are lining up a move for Real Sociedad forward Alexander Isak if they are unable to sign in-demand Borussia Dortmund star Erling Haaland, according to Diario AS.

Haaland is wanted by Barca and Europe's elite, with the Norwegian linked with Real Madrid, Manchester City, Bayern Munich, Manchester United, Liverpool, Juventus and Paris Saint-Germain.

With competition fierce, LaLiga outfit Barca are looking close to home and at Isak as an alternative.

 

ROUND-UP

- Ekrem Konur claims City are considering Barca sensation Ansu Fati as a possible replacement for Raheem Sterling should the England international depart the Premier League champions. Barca are reportedly interested in Sterling on a loan deal.

Dortmund want Ajax's Sebastien Haller to succeed Haaland at the Bundesliga outfit, reports Calciomercato. Former Eintracht Frankfurt forward Haller has starred for the Eredivisie giants.

Juve's objective is to sign Monaco and France star Aurelien Tchouameni, says Calciomercato. Tchouameni is also a target for United, City, Chelsea, Liverpool, PSG and Madrid.

- Gazzetta dello Sport claims Juve, Milan and Tottenham are eyeing PSG's Mauro Icardi.

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  • Thompson-Herah and Warholm named World Athletes of the Year Thompson-Herah and Warholm named World Athletes of the Year

    Olympic champions Elaine Thompson-Herah of Jamaica and Karsten Warholm of Norway have been named the World Athletes of the Year at the World Athletics Awards 2021, a ceremony held virtually on Wednesday.

    Thompson-Herah produced one of the finest sprint seasons in history this year, retaining her Olympic 100m and 200m titles in Tokyo and adding a third gold medal in the 4x100m relay. On top of her Olympic triple, she also clocked world-leading times of 10.54 and 21.53 over 100m and 200m respectively, moving to second on the world all-time lists and coming within touching distance of the long-standing world records.

    “I just take it year by year,” said Thompson-Herah. “I went very close to the world record so you know, anything is possible. No spikes hanging up any time soon!
    “The World Championships in Oregon is most definitely my next big target,” she added. “It is close to home, I hope friends and family can come out and watch. I hope I get some crowd as well. That couldn’t happen in Tokyo but hopefully, in Eugene,I can get my friends and family to come and cheer me on.”

    Warholm uncorked one of the most remarkable performances in athletics history when he stormed to gold in the 400m hurdles at the Tokyo Olympics. Having already broken the world record with 46.70 in Oslo in the lead-up to the Games, Warholm exceeded all expectations in the Japanese capital to claim gold in a stunning world record of 45.94. In a race of incredible depth, the top three athletes finished inside the pre-2021 world record.

    “I’m so happy for this,” said Warholm. “First when I saw the time (in Tokyo), I was like, ‘This must be a mistake!’ Because I didn’t see that one coming. And I didn’t see the victory coming before crossing the finish line.

    “It was a very intense race, I knew the American and the Brazilian and all the other guys were really chasing me. I always go out hard and I never know what is going on behind me. I was just fighting all the way to the finish line. When I realised 45.94 was the reality, I was thinking: ‘This is not too bad. I’ll take it!’"

    World Athletics President Sebastian Coe congratulated all of tonight’s winners and finalists on their extraordinary achievements this year.
    "We have this year celebrated some jaw-dropping performances in Tokyo, at the World Athletics U20 Championships in Nairobi and through our one-day meeting circuits – the Wanda Diamond League and the Continental Tour. So we’re delighted to recognise some of our stars at tonight’s awards.

    "As a sport, we are in an incredibly strong position. 2021 has been an excellent year. We cemented our position as the number 1 Olympic sport coming out of Tokyo, we have the most God-given talented athletes on the planet and our sport is the most accessible of all sports. Thank you to all our athletes around the world. I am looking forward to watching what you can all do in 2022."


    The other award winners were:

    Female Rising Star
    Athing Mu
    The US teenager was undefeated at 800m all year, winning Olympic gold at the distance following a long but successful collegiate season. She broke the senior US 800m record with her triumph in Tokyo and then improved it to 1:55.04 just a few weeks later. She also excelled at 400m, clocking a North American U20 record of 49.57 for the distance.
    “It means the world to know that my support goes beyond friends and families and extends worldwide,” said Mu. “This award shows all young girls that your dreams can, indeed, come true."

    Male Rising Star
    Erriyon Knighton
    Throughout 2021 the 17-year-old took down several marks that had belonged to sprint legend Usain Bolt. Knighton first set world U18 bests of 20.11 and 20.04 over 200m, but his rapid rise continued and he broke Bolt’s world U20 record for the distance with 19.88 and 19.84. He went on to finish fourth in the Olympic final with 19.93.
    “I’m really thankful for this award,” said Knighton. “One of my most memorable moments of this year was making it to the Olympic final in Tokyo and finishing fourth at the age of 17.”

    Member Federations Award
    Federacion Costarricense de Atletismo (Costa Rica)
    In recognition for their outstanding training, competition and development programme roll-out over the past 12 months, for their consultative work on the World Athletics Kids’ Athletics programme, and for successfully staging a host of international events over the past year.

    Inspiration Award
    Mutaz Barshim and Gianmarco Tamberi
    The shared high jump victory between Qatar’s Mutaz Barshim and Italy’s Gianmarco Tamberi became one of the biggest talking points of the Olympic Games – not only for everything it represented in their own individual careers, having both battled serious injuries since the last Games, but mainly for the act of respect and sportsmanship between two friends.
    “It is just crazy if I think about this story,” said Tamberi. “Thank you very much for this trophy.
    “I now call Mutaz like five times a week because I need to speak with him. I feel that now we are not just friends, we are really like blood brothers.”
    Barshim added: “I hope to inspire more people to love our sport and maybe share a gold one day!”

    President’s Award
    Peter Diamond, Executive Vice President of NBC Olympic programming
    “Athletics owes Peter a massive debt of gratitude,” said World Athletics President Sebastian Coe. “Peter has worked alongside us for effectively 40 years and has been a constant source of great advice and wise counsel, and occasional humour that has softened the edges of any particular situation. And he has made athletics a lot better.”

    Coaching Achievement Award
    Bobby Kersee
    The US coach has guided the careers of many legendary athletes over the years, but this year two of his charges made history. Allyson Felix became the most decorated female track and field Olympian in history after winning her 10th and 11th Olympic gold medals in Tokyo, while training partner Sydney McLaughlin broke two world records in the 400m hurdles and claimed Olympic gold in the discipline.

    Woman of the Year Award
    Anju Bobby George
    The former international long jump star from India is still actively involved in the sport. In 2016 she opened a training academy for young girls, which has already helped to produce a world U20 medallist. A constant voice for gender equality in her role as Senior Vice President of the Indian Athletics Federation, Bobby George also mentors schoolgirls for future leadership positions within the sport.

    Jean-Pierre Durand World Athletics Photograph of the Year
    Ryan Pierse’s photograph of the women’s high jump qualifying at the Tokyo Olympic Games

     

    This year’s award is dedicated to the memory of Jean-Pierre Durand, one of the sport’s most prolific photographers and photo chief for a number of World Athletics Series events, who died in October.
    “This winning image was taken on one of the morning sessions in Tokyo and it was a hot one,” said Pierse, who is from Australia. “I wanted to illustrate the heat and how it was affecting the athletes. It is a picture that I worked on for a while, and it all came together. I am really happy with it.
    “I think it’s incredibly fitting that this award is named in memory of Jean-Pierre Durand,” added Pierse. “I had the pleasure of working alongside him, most recently at the Tokyo Olympics.”

    ________________________________________

  • Tottenham defender Romero ruled out until 2022 Tottenham defender Romero ruled out until 2022

    Tottenham head coach Antonio Conte does not expect centre-back Cristian Romero to return from injury before the end of the year.

    Romero damaged his hamstring during Argentina's goalless draw with Brazil last month and has missed Tottenham's last two games.

    Conte said last week the injury was more serious than first thought and a second scan has confirmed the defender is facing a spell on the sidelines.

    "The news is not positive. Not good," Conte said at a news conference previewing Tottenham's home Premier League clash with Brentford on Thursday.

    "The injury is serious. I think it'll take time to see him again. Surely next year. We need to check his injury week by week but the injury is serious.

    "Now he's trying to recover but he needs a long time to recover. It's a pity because you know he's an important player for us. The injury is very serious."

    Pressed on when exactly he expects to see Romero back in action, Conte replied: "Next year. Next year. January, February, I don't know. But for sure in 2021 he has finished. 

    "We have to wait and see his recovery but the injury is serious."

    Romero was named as Defender of the Year in Serie A last term before joining Tottenham from Atalanta on an initial loan that will be made permanent next year.

    The 23-year-old has made 13 appearances in all competitions to date for Spurs and started Conte's first two games in charge.

    Despite losing a key player to injury, plus some mixed results since succeeding Nuno Espirito Santo last month, Conte is not looking ahead to the January transfer window.

    "Honestly, when I decided to become Tottenham manager, I didn't speak about this aspect," he said. "When you take a job, you have to make your evaluations and you have to feel your sensations. 

    "And honestly, I felt Tottenham was the right club to work and to bring my ideas and philosophy of football. For this reason, I accepted the job.

    "I didn't talk about January or the way to improve the team. I repeat: I'm here because I have great enthusiasm, great patience to start a new work with Tottenham. 

    "If I'm here it's because I want to build something important with the club. I know at the moment we're a bit far from the top clubs but we need to work to improve the situation. 

    "To start to and also to create a good basis where you start – and then you build. We can do this and then our fans will support us.

    "At the moment it's not simple, but I have great enthusiasm and great patience and I believe that here we can win something importance. 

    "We need patience and time but I have great desire to do something great."

    Conte did provide some more positive injury news with regard to Giovani Lo Celso, who he expects to return to training the day after the Brentford game.

    Spurs welcome Brentford to the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium unbeaten in their last 11 meetings with their London rivals in all competitions in a run stretching back to 1948.

    However, Tottenham have lost each of their last five London derbies in the Premier League – their worst-such run since losing six in a row between March 2003 and January 2004.

  • Carrick still yet to speak with Rangnick despite interim manager's appointment Carrick still yet to speak with Rangnick despite interim manager's appointment

    Manchester United caretaker manager Michael Carrick still has not spoken to Ralf Rangnick about the team despite the German's appointment as interim boss being confirmed on Monday.

    United announced at the start of the week that an agreement had been reached with Rangnick over a relationship that is set to span two and a half years.

    Initially, Rangnick will take charge until the end of the season before moving into a consultancy role.

    Rangnick has previously shaped German clubs such as Hoffenheim and RB Leipzig from top to bottom, with his future advisory position at Old Trafford suggesting United are planning an overhaul of their football operations, which have long appeared outdated compared to their rivals.

    But the 63-year-old's start at the club has been delayed due to work permit issues – according to reports, Rangnick does not been the criteria for an automatic visa because he has only coached one season out of the past five.

    While United are not thought to be concerned about the outcome, the situation is hardly helpful to the playing and coaching staff who are awaiting Rangnick's arrival.

    It was suggested at the weekend that United's apparent greater pressing intensity in the 1-1 draw with Chelsea may have been influenced by Rangnick – Carrick denied that was the case at the time, and ahead of Thursday's visit of Arsenal, the caretaker manager claimed they have still not spoken to each other.

    "It's pretty much as it was because of the process and work permit, we've not been able to [talk to each other]," Carrick told reporters on Wednesday.

    "We've carried on as we have done. It's worked well for last two games and hopefully it does tomorrow.

    "Literally, I've nothing to update you on other than the process of the visa is ongoing and going through now, so I'm in this position as I was for Chelsea and Villarreal, getting the boys ready for the game."

    Carrick caused something of a stir by leaving Cristiano Ronaldo out of his starting XI at Stamford Bridge, instead opting to use him from the bench.

    Despite it appearing a shock from the outside, Carrick insists it was not considered a big deal in the United dressing room.

    "Those decisions get blown up a lot bigger than they are in the club," he continued. "Decisions are made for a lot of different reasons.

    "Of course, some things are bigger news than others, that's how it is. I didn't see it a major decision; it certainly wasn't in the group.

    "We got on with it, the game went well to an extent and it wasn't a drama at all."

    Carrick's two games in charge have resulted in a 2-0 win at Villarreal in the Champions League and the stalemate against Premier League leaders Chelsea.

    One player whose performances have caught the eye in those games is Fred, the much-maligned Brazilian midfielder who had frequently appeared out of his depth under Solskjaer.

    Across the past two games, Fred has at least seven more recoveries (19) than any other United player, he ranks highest for possession won in each third of the pitch and his six interceptions is double that of any of his team-mates – suffice to say, Carrick has been impressed.

    He said: "I think it gets overlooked – first choice for Brazil in a good Brazil team shows how far Fred's come since he came to the club, and how much he's improved.

    "I really like him. One of the biggest things is his attitude and desire to be a key player, desperate to put himself out there and play games.

    "He twisted his ankle against Villarreal in the first half and it would've been enough to force other players off – to carry on when it's swollen and sore is hard but he carried on then bounced into the game and there was no way he was going to miss the next game.

    "That mentality is infectious. I think he's improved an awful lot, Fred. He brings a great energy to the team and he's improving.

    "He's played a little higher up the pitch than before because we tweaked a couple of things for both games and he's done ever so well.

    "The regains, and especially for Cristiano's goal against Villarreal, epitomises that and he almost did it when he intercepted from [Chelsea goalkeeper Edouard] Mendy. He brings an awful lot to the team and I like him an awful lot."

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