Rumour Has It: Barcelona contact Pochettino over coaching job

By Sports Desk January 13, 2020

Barcelona appear ready to turn to their next coaching target as the LaLiga giants eye Mauricio Pochettino.

Ernesto Valverde is under enormous pressure after the Supercopa de Espana semi-final loss to Atletico Madrid, but Xavi has reportedly turned down the job – for now.

Amid contrasting reports over Barca's next decision, they may be lining up a move for Pochettino.

 

TOP STORY – BARCA CONTACT POCHETTINO OVER COACHING JOB

Barcelona contacted former Tottenham manager Pochettino to be their next boss, according to RAC1.

It comes as widespread reports in Spain say Al Sadd boss and former Barcelona star Xavi turned down the position.

Meanwhile, Catalunya Radio reported Netherlands coach Ronald Koeman also rejected the opportunity.

After a meeting on Sunday, Barca decided to stick with Valverde for now, according to Sport.

ROUND-UP

- Amid reports Manchester United had agreed to terms with Bruno Fernandes, the Mirror says the Premier League club are set to bid £65million (€76.1m) for the Sporting CP midfielder this week.

- Tottenham are set to sign Benfica's Gedson Fernandes as further details about a possible move emerge. Italian journalist Fabrizio Romano reports Spurs will sign the Portugal international on loan with an option to buy for between £42.7m (€50m) and £51.2m (€60m) in 2021.

- Jerome Boateng continues to be linked with a Bayern Munich exit. Milan are ready to challenge Arsenal for the defender, according to Sky Germany.

- Coming out of contract at season's end, it appears Layvin Kurzawa's future is away from Paris Saint-Germain. L'Equipe reports the left-back – who has made just five Ligue 1 starts this campaign – recently rejected Inter but the Serie A club remain hopeful of signing the 27-year-old this month.

- Juventus are looking to the future. CalcioMercato reports the Serie A champions are keeping an eye on teenage Ajax midfielder Ryan Gravenberch and AZ forward Calvin Stengs.

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    Reggae Boyz Captain Andre Blake has confirmed that the players have rejected the Jamaica Football Federation’s offer on terms and wages for the upcoming World Cup qualifiers and CONCACAF Gold Cup saying that they are willing to boycott all those competitions as they seek respect and fairness from their local football authorities.

    “The players are prepared to go all the way,” Blake told Sportsmax.TV today. “They treat us like slaves and we are done being slaves!”

    The players had made an initial request of US$7000 per player per match for the World Cup qualifiers set to begin in September. The JFF countered with an offer of US$2000 per match with bonuses of US$1000 for each win and US$500 for a draw. They claim they are unable to afford more.

    The players had until last Friday to sign their contracts but sources indicate that the JFF had extended the deadline by a “few days” to give them more time to mull what has been described as a “take it or leave it” offer.

    However, on the weekend, the players began to post ‘Take A Stand’ memes on their social media pages, a clear indication that they were not willing to accept the JFF’s offer.

    Blake confirmed that to Sportsmax.TV this afternoon.

    “The JFF submitted an offer, we countered that offer and they said they weren’t prepared to counter our offer,” Blake said. “We did have a new offer to put to the JFF and they made it clear, so after they did not counter-counter our offer, we reached out to let them know we were going to send in a new offer and they outright let us know that it was almost pointless to send the new offer because they will not entertain it.

    “What they have on the table is what it is; you sign it you are eligible for selection, if you don’t then you’re not. So, at this point, yes, I and the players said ‘sorry but we cannot sign that contract, so that’s where we’re at right now.”

    Blake said the players have now decided to take a stand because they believe the abuse at the hands of the JFF has been going on for too long. “It’s been generation on top of generation, anybody who has played for Jamaica can attest to this,” he said.

    “If we don’t put a stop to this, 20 years later, my kids’ kids or other players’ kids or public members’ kids are going to be playing for the same money and under the same poor organization, structure and poor professionalism and poor communication and Jamaica football will never get better.”

    He explained further that the current stance that the players are taking is not just about money.

    “It’s more about respect and how the JFF approaches negotiations,” he said referring to the leaked voice note on recent negotiations where JFF officials were heard referring to the players in a disrespectful manner as they tried to negotiate terms for the two-match trip to Saudi Arabia in November 2020.

    “The way the JFF goes about business is unacceptable and the players are just at a point where we think we have had enough,” Blake said. “Some things need to change. The JFF can definitely operate in a more professional manner.

    “There is just so much more than they make it seem as if players are just in it for the money. They can go ahead and violate negotiations by leaking what they want and keep confidential what they want just to paint a bad picture of the players.”

    Asked what he would like to see the JFF do to improve their relationship with the players, Blake said:

    “They JFF need to start to put the players first. The JFF is not putting the players in the best possible position to be successful. And when we are not successful using baskets to carry water, everything falls back on the players.

    “Travel arrangements are poor, hotel accommodations are poor, communication, poor, organization poor. It’s been going on for a while and we have just had enough. That’s the point where we are at right now and it’s nothing about whether you’re willing to play for free.

    “The JFF, they do things backwards. The board should enjoy all the luxury treatment and reap all the benefits while the players go out there and do all the work. It’s slavery and we’re done being slaves for the JFF.”

     Calls to members of the JFF executive went unanswered.

     

  • Pirlo urges patience as Juve's Champions League dream hangs by a thread Pirlo urges patience as Juve's Champions League dream hangs by a thread

    Andrea Pirlo wants his Juventus side to be "clever" and "patient" as they seek to overcome a slender deficit against Porto and claim a place in the Champions League quarter-finals.

    Mehdi Taremi and Moussa Marega caught Juve cold at the start of each half at Estadio do Dragao last month.

    Federico Chiesa reduced the arrears late on, although the fact that was the first time Porto had conceded in six Champions League matches underlined the scale of the task still to come in Turin on Tuesday.

    "The result is open, we will have to be clever in knowing how to manage the match to obtain qualification," Pirlo told a pre-match news conference.

    "It is a decisive match for our Champions League campaign."

     "We will have to play a very technical game, because we will face a very compact team, with two very narrow lines and with little space and little time to think.

    "It will take technique and patience."

    Juventus' domestic dominance over the past decade has not translated onto the European stage, with final defeats in 2015 and 2017 to Barcelona and Real Madrid respectively proving tough to take.

    Pirlo made his final Juve appearance as a player in the former showpiece, as goals from Ivan Rakitic, Luis Suarez and Neymar saw Barca run out 3-1 winners in Berlin.

    "We know the importance and the beauty of playing in the Champions League," he said.

    "When you can play these games there is a totally different energy, but it must be faced just like all other important games."

    Juventus captain Leonardo Bonucci echoed his boss' sentiments.

    "We must be careful not to get caught up in the desire to score immediately at all costs," he said.

    "We expect a Porto side that will come here to play, not to defend."

    The Serie A champions would be even more up against it had Chiesa not continued an impressive individual season by getting on the scoresheet.

    Italy winger Chiesa has scored nine goals and chipped in with seven assists across all competitions this season.

    His 40 chances created are second only to Alvaro Morata (44) among Juventus' forwards, while his 19.6 per cent shot conversion rate is slightly better than Cristiano Ronaldo's (18.2), even though the five-time Ballon d'Or winner is once again riding high with 27 goals in the 2020-21 campaign.

    "He doesn't allow himself to be influenced by pressure, he is very genuine and spontaneous, and quickly understood what it means to wear this shirt," Bonucci said of the 23-year-old Chiesa. "He's giving us so much."

    Bonucci could be joined in defence by his long-time colleague Giorgio Chiellini, who has recovered from a calf problem to slightly mitigate Mathijis de Ligt's absence due to muscular injuries.

    Pirlo expects Weston McKinnie to be involved despite managing a hip problem, although the USA international will not be fit enough for the entire match.

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    Paris Saint-Germain will "fight to the death" to win a first-ever Champions League this season, according to head coach Mauricio Pochettino. 

    The Ligue 1 champions go into Wednesday's last-16 second leg against Barcelona at the Parc des Princes well placed to reach the quarter-finals after a thumping 4-1 win over Ronald Koeman's side in the reverse fixture last month., 

    Indeed, no team in the history of the competition has failed to progress from a knockout tie over two legs after winning the first leg by a margin of three goals away from home. 

    They have also scored at least once in each of their last 22 Champions League games at home (61 goals), in a run that dates back to December 2015. The last team to keep a clean sheet away at PSG in the competition was Barca's LaLiga rivals Real Madrid (0-0 in October 2015).

    PSG were beaten in last year's final by Bayern Munich – Kingsley Coman scoring the only goal in a slender win for the Bundesliga side – but Pochettino insisted the painful memories of that defeat will not derail them this term. 

    "Clearly, it is the ambition of the club to win [the competition]," he told the LFP.  

    "There are a lot of other teams who want to win it; it's not that easy. We are aware of our responsibility, and we will fight to the death to achieve it.

    "We are unaffected by the past. We came here with a free spirit and without prejudice. These ideas convey only negativity. 

    "Staying focused on the past limits your future possibilities. We come with new energy. We think that we have the potential to remain in contention in the Champions League. 

    "In football, conviction brings you closer to winning."

    Pochettino was in charge of Barca's city rivals Espanyol between 2009 and 2012, although he said that does not provide him with any extra impetus to knock them out of the competition. 

    "I am not a fan of Espanyol who goes beyond the limits," he added. "Winning in Barcelona has a special flavor.

    "But we want to win for PSG, for our players, for the fans, and finally, for ourselves."

    The French giants eased to a 3-0 victory over Brest in the last 32 of the Coupe de France on Saturday to make it 12 wins, one draw and two defeats in Pochettino's first two months in charge after replacing Thomas Tuchel. 

    The Argentinian is clearly enjoying his time at the helm of a club he played for between 2001 and 2003 and has cited training as the most stimulating aspect of his job.

    "Coming to training every morning, being with the players, the staff, trying to improve, that's what motivates me," he said. "Maybe I even have more motivation to go to the training centre than to be in competition. 

    "Within the staff, we believe a lot in the preparation, the building of a state of form. Motivation, concentration, it is built day by day."

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