What impact will Raheem Sterling's clash with Joe Gomez have on his immediate future?

By November 12, 2019
Leighton Levy

Leighton Levy is a journalist with 28 years’ experience covering crime, entertainment, and sports. He joined the staff at SportsMax.TV as a content editor two years ago and is enjoying the experience of developing sports content and new ideas. At SportsMax.tv he is pursuing his true passion - sports.

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  • Ronaldo is aware of when it is time to rest, says Pirlo Ronaldo is aware of when it is time to rest, says Pirlo

    Juventus head coach Andrea Pirlo is aware of the importance of keeping Cristiano Ronaldo fresh and says the superstar forward will decide which games he sits out.

    The Portugal international scored late on in Juve's 3-0 victory over Sampdoria at the Allianz Stadium on Sunday as Pirlo's managerial reign got off to a winning start.

    He had earlier hit the crossbar and came close from a couple of his other nine efforts prior to finally finding a way past Emil Audero in the 88th minute.

    And with the five-time Ballon d'Or winner having recently picked up a toe injury on international duty, Pirlo is keen to closely manage his star player's fitness.

    "We are thinking about it and we have talked about it together," he told Sky Sport Italia. "He is not tired at the moment because we have just started the season. But when we come up to less important games, we'll try to give him a rest. 

    "He's a very intelligent lad who knows his body very well, so he is aware of when it's time to rest or step it up. When he will play depends on him."

    Juve sporting director Fabio Paratici confirmed ahead of kick-off that Barcelona's Luis Suarez is no longer an option in the club's search for a new striker.

    With Paulo Dybala missing the opening game through injury and Gonzalo Higuain finalising a move to Inter Miami on Friday, Pirlo is after a particular type of player to bolster his side.

    "We'll give it our best. It's about finding the right balance," he said. "Quality players are always welcome, as long as they have the characteristics to bring balance to the team. But we want to use as much of our talent as possible."

    Debutant midfielder Dejan Kulusevski netted the first goal of Pirlo's tenure and Leonardo Bonucci was also on target in Turin prior to Ronaldo's clinical finish late on.

    Weston McKennie is another who impressed on his first appearance since joining, while Gianluca Frabotta – a surprise starter at left wing-back – also caught the eye.

    "Frabotta had a good game. Alex Sandro picked up an injury, so I chose the under-23 lad who is training with us very well," Pirlo said. "I didn't consider it a risk at all to use him.

    "McKennie arrived having started pre-season training in Germany, so was in better shape than some others. He made a few errors in his passing, but it was the first game, we can forgive him for that."

    Pirlo has worked under some of the game's most influential coaches but vowed to do things his own way in his first managerial job.

    "It will take time to get all the various ways of playing together. I don't want to just copy and paste anyone's ideas," he said. "I have my own ideas and want to adapt from the teams that inspired me.

    "We haven't had much time, as the pre-season started late and then they were away for international duty. We had only one friendly too, but it was a good debut and we'll keep working on it."

  • Messi wishes 'phenomenon' Vidal well ahead of Inter move Messi wishes 'phenomenon' Vidal well ahead of Inter move

    Lionel Messi posted a message to departing Barcelona team-mate Arturo Vidal as the midfielder prepared to join Inter.

    Vidal is set to be confirmed as a Nerazzurri player on Monday after the buying club posted updates on his arrival in Italy this weekend.

    The 33-year-old, who previously played in Serie A for Juventus, is set for a €1million move after two years at Barca.

    Vidal and Luis Suarez are close friends of Blaugrana captain Messi and were reportedly each told they could leave the club by new head coach Ronald Koeman.

    Former Bayern Munich man Vidal has secured his exit, while Suarez's situation remains unclear, after Messi failed in his attempts to force through a transfer of his own.

    As well as Manchester City, Messi – who wanted to be released from his contract – was linked with Vidal's new employers Inter.

    He wrote to the Chilean on Instagram on Sunday: "I only knew you from facing each other and you always seemed like a phenomenon to me, but later I was lucky to meet you personally and you surprised me even more.

    "They were two years sharing many things and you made yourself noticed. The dressing room is going to miss you.

    "I wish you all the best in this new stage at your new club. We will cross paths again, for sure."

    Vidal commented: "Thanks alien! I am proud to have played with the greatest in history and thank you very much for your friendship. I miss you. See you soon."

    Vidal was part of the 2018-19 LaLiga title-winning team at Camp Nou and scored 11 goals in 66 league games in total.

  • Courtois not concerned by blunt Madrid display in season opener Courtois not concerned by blunt Madrid display in season opener

    Thibaut Courtois is confident Real Madrid are not short of goals despite struggling to a goalless draw at Real Sociedad on Sunday.

    LaLiga's reigning champions began the new campaign with a frustrating stalemate in which Courtois had to make a brilliant one-on-one stop from Alexander Isak to preserve a point.

    That was the clearest opening of the match, although Karim Benzema miscued when he looked set to strike moments before Isak ran through at the other end.

    Benzema was supported by Martin Odegaard in an advanced midfield role, but Madrid - still missing Eden Hazard and having moved on Gareth Bale and James Rodriguez - could not forge a breakthrough despite mustering 16 shots in total.

    Courtois told Movistar: "Of course we've got goals. You see it in training, you see it in the last pre-season friendly we had against Getafe [a 6-0 win].

    "But sometimes the ball just doesn't want to go in. I don't have any doubt there are plenty of goals in this team."

    The goalkeeper was encouraged by his team-mates' work to subdue Sociedad, who had just 32 per cent of the possession and were restricted to six attempts.

    "If we don't concede too many goals and we can order ourselves and be difficult to score against, we have at the other end of the pitch Karim Benzema, who always plays at a very high level and didn't have any luck tonight," Courtois said.

    "It's always important for us to keep a clean sheet. That's the way it went after lockdown. It ended up that many of our games were without conceding."

    Despite his failure to inspire victory, it was a big night for Odegaard, making his full league debut for Madrid against the side he played for on loan last season.

    The 21-year-old had one blocked shot and contributed two key passes.

    "It was a very special game for me. I was playing against friends, good people. Very special," Odegaard said. "I felt good, but obviously the victory was missing."

    Stand-in Sociedad captain Mikel Oyarzabal said of his former team-mate: "Martin knows he's much loved here, but today we didn't want things to go too well for him.

    "I'm sure he'll soon show his quality for Real Madrid."

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