Bosnia and Herzegovina have postponed their upcoming friendly with Russia amid widespread criticism, including from their own players.

Bosnia announced in September they would face Russia in Saint Petersburg on November 19, a day before the World Cup gets under way in Qatar.

The game would have been Russia's first against a European side since being banned from all FIFA and UEFA competitions following the country's invasion of Ukraine in February.

However, following complaints from Miralem Pjanic and Edin Dzeko, Bosnia's Football Association (NFSBIH) has announced the match will no longer go ahead next month.

"The friendly between Bosnia and Herzegovina and Russia, which was supposed to be played on November 19, will not be played at that time," Monday's statement read.

"At today's session of the executive board of the Football Association of Bosnia and Herzegovina, the match planned for November 19 was postponed.

"President of NSFSBIH, Mr. Vico Zeljkovic, stated that the playing of this friendly match will be extended for some future date."

Bosnia failed to reach the World Cup after finishing fourth in their qualification group, while Russia were blocked from taking part in March's play-offs as a result of the war in Ukraine.

Russia's only match since last November was a 2-1 friendly win against Kyrgyzstan in Bishkek in September.

Miralem Pjanic has hit out at former Barcelona coach Ronald Koeman, claiming training sessions lacked intensity, tactics and ideas during the Dutchman's spell at Camp Nou.

Pjanic made 19 league appearances for Barcelona in the 2020-21 season after joining from Juventus, spending the last campaign on loan at Besiktas before joining Emirati outfit Sharjah last month.

The Bosnia and Herzegovina international has been critical of Koeman in the past, accusing the Dutchman of "disrespecting" him following his move to Turkey in September 2021.

Speaking to Cadena Ser on Friday, Pjanic attacked Koeman's methods once more, saying: "I was very surprised in training with Koeman.

"There was no intensity, no tactics, no ideas. We did not prepare for the games."

 

Pjanic spent his most recent pre-season at Barcelona under Koeman's successor Xavi, and was far more enthusiastic in his assessment of the current Blaugrana coach.

"Preparation and training was good under Xavi, similar to what I was used to at Juventus, for example, where we won everything," Pjanic added.

"Now the sessions at Barca have a lot of intensity. Xavi and his staff were very clear with us at the start of the season. They told us this year we would have to run and go 2000 miles per hour.

"Every day is like a game in training at Barcelona now, because there is so much quality in the squad and a lot of intensity."

Xavi has led Barca to an unbeaten start to the season in LaLiga, having overseen a second-placed finish after taking over from Koeman midway through last season. 

Barcelona have released Miralem Pjanic from his contract, with the former Juventus and Roma midfielder joining Sharjah in the United Arab Emirates.

Pjanic joined Barca from Juve in 2020 and was part of the side that won the Copa del Rey that season, though he soon fell down the pecking order.

A loan spell in Turkey with Besiktas last season saw Pjanic's time at Barca reach the beginning of the end, and his stint at Camp Nou is now over officially.

"FC Barcelona and Miralem Pjanic have reached an agreement to release the player from the contract binding the player to the club until the end of the 2023-24 season," a club statement read.

"The club publicly expresses its gratitude to the player for his professionalism, dedication and commitment and for always adapting his contract to the club's situations and needs. It wishes him every success and fortune in the future."

Sharjah, who play in the UAE Pro League, confirmed Pjanic's arrival on their official Twitter account, confirming the 32-year-old had joined on a two-year deal with an option for an extension.

Gavi is one of the hottest young talents around Europe having become a regular at Barcelona in 2021-22.

The youngster has been capped 10 times for Spain already, despite only turning 18 in August.

However, Barcelona president Joan Laporta has been frustrated that he is yet to re-commit to the club.

TOP STORY – BAYERN MUNICH ENTER GAVI PURSUIT

German champions Bayern Munich have joined the race for Barcelona's teenage midfielder Gavi, reports Bild.

Gavi is out of contract at the end of this season and already being pursued by Liverpool and Manchester United.

Bayern are monitoring Gavi's contract status to see if he does renew his deal with the Blaugrana, with reports he is restless.

ROUND-UP

– The Standard reports that Chelsea's main target in January is a new central midfielder, with Ajax's Mexico international Edson Alvarez top of the list.

– Chelsea owner Todd Boehly has offered a hint that Mason Mount is set for a new contract, liking a tweet from Fabrizio Romano that claimed talks are under way with a final proposal soon.

Miralem Pjanic may end his time with Barcelona on Tuesday, according to Fabrizio Romano, who claims he is set to fly to UAE to discuss a deal with Sharjah FC .

Wolves' proposed move for ex-Spain international Diego Costa could collapse due to his work permit application being denied due to a lack of recent international appearances, reports The Sun. The ex-Chelsea forward is a free agent.

Xavi has shown faith in the "different" Ousmane Dembele and Miralem Pjanic to play important roles for his sides, following Barcelona's 2-2 draw with Juventus on Tuesday.

Pjanic made a strong first appearance for the pre-season while Dembele scored a poised brace and performed well despite the result, reflecting the confidence shown in him since Xavi took over as Barcelona's head coach last November.

The 25-year-old's first of the night was a particularly impressive solo action, showing his trademark dexterity on a mazy dribble, wriggling his way past three Juve defenders before finishing from an acute angle.

The Barca boss demanded more consistency from the France international post-match, but is buoyed by both his talent and new-found enthusiasm after extending his contract.

"He has shown what he is capable of, making a difference from the right wing with one-on-two actions," Xavi said afterwards. "He is a different player, special and he gives us a lot.

"He has to make a difference, be more consistent, score more goals. I don't know Dembele from before but since I've arrived, I see him happy and he always tells me that he's involved in the project. I see him like that since November, that's why I insisted so much on to stay."

The 42-year-old also saved special mention for another polarising figure among Barcelona fans, Miralem Pjanic, who made his first appearance for the club upon returning from a loan spell at Besiktas.

When asked about the midfielder's performance, the similarly cerebral Xavi was effusive in his assessment.

"I liked it a lot," Xavi said. "He gives us a lot with the ball, he found the interiors very well. He has an exclusive vision of football in general, because there aren't many who see the game like that with their first touch.

"He always looks forward, looks very well for the pass to nine. He has played a great game."

Barcelona midfielder Miralem Pjanic is hoping to kickstart his Camp Nou career after being given the opportunity to play under head coach Xavi, who he considers a "role model".

Pjanic's days at Barca appeared to be numbered when he was loaned to Besiktas last season, having struggled to hold down a starting spot upon arriving from Juventus in 2020.

Xavi has since replaced Ronald Koeman in the Barca managerial hotseat, however, and Pjanic appears to be part of the legendary former midfielder's plans for the coming season.

The 32-year-old featured in the recent friendly with Olot and is part of the Catalan giants' squad for their pre-season tour of the United States, though he did not play any minutes in Saturday's win against Real Madrid.

Pjanic still has two years to run on his contract and is excited to work with Xavi, who enjoyed a positive first six months in charge during the second half of last season to finish second in LaLiga.

"Xavi has always been a role model of a midfielder for me," Pjanic told reporters. "I have followed him with admiration. For me, he is one of the best midfielders of all time in the world, so working with him is very special.

"In the last two years, I have struggled with injuries, COVID-19, and went out on loan. But now it's different. I am convinced that I can get back to my best. I've been working with a physical trainer this summer."

Asked about his Barca future, Pjanic added: "I have a contract until 2024. This year we will be working with our new teacher Xavi. I hope it will be a very good season for the team and for me."

Barcelona face Pjanic's former club Juventus in their third pre-season outing at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas on Tuesday, before rounding off their tour of the USA against New York Red Bulls on Saturday.

 

Tick-tock, tick-tock. It appears time will finally run out on Sunday and the Kylian Mbappe transfer saga will finally be at its end.

Paris Saint-Germain have experienced another monumental blow this season with another cruel elimination in the Champions League and Real Madrid are waiting in the wings.

According to reports, the 23-year-old will finally announce his decision on Sunday.

TOP STORY – MBAPPE TO CONFIRM DECISION ON SUNDAY  

Kylian Mbappe will announce whether he will play for Paris Saint-Germain or Real Madrid on Sunday, according to L'Equipe.

The Parisian has never hidden his admiration for LeBron James and appears set to mimic his 'The Decision' announcement from 2010.

What is for certain according to reports, Mbappe is intent on announcing the decision before the France national team meets up for camp in Clairefontaine on May 28.

While it has been recently reported a move to Real Madrid seems likelier, talks are still ongoing according to the L'Equipe report, with PSG aiming to scupper a potential move at the last minute.

ROUND-UP

– Meanwhile, France team-mate and Manchester United midfielder Paul Pogba had agreed personal terms with Manchester City, according to the Times, but backed out in fear of fan backlash and now appears likely to move abroad.

– Along with Pogba, Juventus are also hoping to further bolster their midfield stocks and sign Chelsea midfielder Jorginho, the Gazzetta dello Sport reports.

– Diario AS is reporting Paulo Dybala has ruled out a move to Tottenham once his contract with Juve expires at the end of the season.

– Kalidou Koulibaly has emerged as a target for Barcelona, who would be willing to add Miralem Pjanic as part of a package deal for Napoli, per Fichajes.

Erik ten Hag appears as though he will have a huge say over his own Manchester United transfer targets.

The Dutchman has inked a three-year deal at Old Trafford, with the option for a further year.

Ten Hag will officially take over on July 1, with Ralf Rangnick remaining in interim charge.

A face familiar to the Premier League could now be headed to Old Trafford with Ten Hag from Ajax…


TOP STORY - TEN HAG TO BRING HALLER TO UNITED

Manchester United may make a move for Ajax striker Sebastien Haller in the off-season according to The Sun.

Haller currently plays under ten Hag, who will take over at United at the end of the campaign.

The Ivory Coast striker, who spent two years with West Ham United, has netted 33 goals in all competitions for Ajax this term.

 

ROUND-UP

- Barcelona are optimistic that they can land Bayern Munich forward Robert Lewandowski in the off-season, reports Sport. Lewandowski is contracted with Bayern until 2023.

- Liverpool have contacted 22-year-old Monaco midfielder Aurelien Tchouameni about a move to England, claims Foot Mercato.

- Nicolo Schira claims that Inter are not interested in signing Bosnian midfielder Miralem Pjanic, contrary to reports. Pjanic is currently on loan at Besiktas from Barcelona.

- David de Gea and Manchester United are ready to enter into talks on a contract extension reports 90min.

- Fabrizio Romano claims that Luka Modric will ink a new deal with Real Madrid running until 2023.

Barcelona midfielder Miralem Pjanic has warned Alvaro Morata and Matthijs de Ligt to think carefully before joining the Catalan club.

Morata is currently on loan at Juventus from Atletico Madrid, but reports suggest new Blaugrana head coach Xavi wants to further bolster his attack by signing the forward after already acquiring Ferran Torres.

Barca cannot register Torres, or any other potential signings, until they have offloaded players to negotiate salary-cap difficulties, though they have been linked in recent days to numerous attackers.

Club president Joan Laporta seemingly feels his LaLiga outfit are back in the market after telling the world that Barca have returned, with speculation even suggesting a move for Erling Haaland.

However, Pjanic, who is currently on loan at Besiktas, called for caution for any player considering joining his parent club.

He told Tuttosport: "Morata has had an amazing career so far. He played for big clubs like Chelsea, Atletico Madrid and Juventus. Sometimes players need motivation, but I would think twice before leaving a club where they feel good.

"Morata knows what to do, Barcelona hired Xavi, a coach who knows the club really well, I don't know the details, but I've always heard that Morata was happy at Juventus even if when Barcelona call you always need to think about it."

 

Pjanic endured a torrid time after leaving the Bianconeri in 2020 for Camp Nou, where he clashed with former Barca boss Ronald Koeman and was subsequently loaned to Besiktas at the start of this season.

He extended his encouragement to consider any potential move carefully to De Ligt, who has been a long-term target of Barca ever since coming through at his boyhood club Ajax.

After initially underwhelming in Turin following his €75million transfer, De Ligt has flourished under Massimiliano Allegri this campaign, ranking second among Juve defenders for minutes played in Serie A (1,293), while he last committed an error leading to goal in his debut 2019-20 season.

Indeed, among defenders to player 700 or more minutes in this year's Serie A, no player has been dribbled past fewer times than De Ligt (just once) but his future remains in doubt.

The centre-back's agent Mino Raiola revealed in December that his client would be open to new challenges away from the Allianz Stadium, yet Pjanic is unsure whether that is the best thing for De Ligt.

"De Ligt has three years left in his contract with Juventus, he has the right commitment, but I don't know if Barcelona are interested," he added.

"He made a great choice by deciding to join Juventus and work with Leonardo Bonucci and Giorgio Chiellini, he is happy at Juventus and when you are happy, it's better not to leave. We'll see if he will have the motivation to leave."

Juventus are set to have the pair available for their home clash with Napoli on Thursday, currently sitting fifth in the league – 12 points behind leaders Inter ahead of their first game of 2022.

Miralem Pjanic revealed his desire to re-join Juventus last transfer window and encouraged Paulo Dybala to renew his contract in Turin.

Pjanic, 31, made 108 Serie A starts for Juve before departing to Barcelona in 2020, where he clashed with head coach Ronald Koeman and subsequently joined Besiktas on loan in September.

However, with former boss Massimiliano Allegri back in charge in Turin, the midfielder expressed his love for the Bianconeri and admitted he wanted to re-join.

"With Juve there have been contacts and appointments with my agent, but the transfer market is never easy," Pjanic told Tuttosport.

"I would have liked to come back and I would have done everything to find [Massimiliano] Allegri, a guarantee.

"No one is better than him in these situations. Max makes all the players feel important and he doesn't deny anyone a chance. I consider him number one, he's a coach who talks to you for better or for worse."

Allegri's second spell has not started well, picking up just one point in his opening two games – Juve having only failed to win any of their first three Serie A games once in 51 seasons, under the same coach in 2015-16.

Dybala, who has been involved in four goals in his last four league games, will be absent for the trip to Napoli but Pjanic implored his former team-mate to commit his future to the club.

"[Paulo] Dybala is top, but Iike with everyone, he needs the team," the Bosnia-Herzegovina midfielder continued. "I would advise him to stay at Juventus, where they love him.

"But these are personal choices, difficult to judge from the outside, because sometimes one feels the need for new challenges."

Miralem Pjanic accused Barcelona head coach Ronald Koeman of disrespecting him after departing the LaLiga club for Turkish champions Besiktas.

Barca outcast and Bosnia-Herzegovina international Pjanic will spend the season on loan with Besiktas following one poor campaign at Camp Nou.

Pjanic arrived at Barca in 2020 for a reported initial fee of €60million in a peculiar swap deal that saw Arthur go the other way to Juventus for an estimated €72m, but he failed to convince and fell down the pecking order in the second half of 2020-21.

After being frozen out by Koeman at Barca, Pjanic reflected on his time with the Spanish giants.

"The coach, yes," Pjanic told Marca when asked if he was respected at Barca.

"I couldn't get used to the situation I faced last year. I knew I didn't want it. I'm a player. I love playing football, this is what makes me happy.

"I always wanted to play for Barca but I didn't expect the situation to get so complicated. 

"There was a point that I was playing less, things were getting complicated. And when I played it was difficult physically and mentally to be well, because it was killing my confidence, because I had no communication with [Koeman]. 

"It was very strange, because a coach is the one who says who plays and who doesn't, but there are different ways to do things. I am a player who can accept everything but I would always like to be told things face to face. Not as if nothing happened and I was 15 years old."

Pjanic played 30 games across all competitions but only 13 were starts, with just four of those coming after the turn of the year as Ronald Koeman's lack of faith became ever clearer.

He did not score or assist a single goal all season, making him the only outfield player who played at least 170 minutes for the club last term to not have one goal involvement.

Pressed on what he thought the reason for Koeman's snub was, Pjanic added: "I've honestly asked myself a lot of times, wondering what I did wrong. Maybe he didn't like that I said I wanted to play more public.

"But any coach would say 'okay, this is a competition and I like to hear that'. That might be it, but I'd have liked him to tell me to my face that I wasn't for him. It didn't exist though and I don't understand him. It's complicated because it's the first time it's happened to me and I've never seen behaviour like that before."

Asked if he regretted joining Barca from Juve, Pjanic said: "No, never. Things happen in life, and I've always fought through my career. I'm ambitious, competitive, I've reached the level of Barcelona and Juventus.

"I know I can play for those teams, I just wasn't given a chance."

Barcelona have finally managed to offload Miralem Pjanic as the Bosnia-Herzegovina international joined Besiktas on loan after one poor season in LaLiga.

Pjanic arrived at Camp Nou in 2020 for a reported initial fee of €60million in a peculiar swap deal that saw Arthur go the other way to Juventus for an estimated €72m.

While most saw the exchange as bizarre on Barca's part, even with Arthur becoming an unpopular figure among supporters, football finance experts at the time outlined that the deal would potentially benefit both clubs in terms of their accounting.

But ultimately that proved to be about as far as the positives went for Barca, as Pjanic failed to convince and fell behind youth player Ilaix Moriba in the pecking order in the second half of 2020-21.

Pjanic played 30 games across all competitions but only 13 were starts, with just four of those coming after the turn of the year as Ronald Koeman's lack of faith became ever clearer.

He did not score or assist a single goal all season, making him the only outfield player who played at least 170 minutes for the club last term to not have one goal involvement.

Barca were open about their willingness to offload Pjanic in the close-season, particularly in their face of crippling debts that have surpassed €1.3billion and led to significant player departures in the past few months.

He was only named on the bench for one of Barca's first three league games this term, with youngster Gavi and Nico Gonzalez the latest academy products to move ahead of Pjanic.

Barca's brief statement to confirm the deal did not even wish the player luck in his next chapter, perhaps highlighting the ill-feeling surrounding him after a disappointing season.

The statement read: "Barcelona and Besiktas have reached an agreement for the loan of the player Miralem Pjanic until June 30, 2022.

"Pjanic arrived at the Camp Nou last summer from Juventus, where he had been since 2016. The Bosnian international has made 30 appearances for FC Barcelona."

Chelsea have been linked with Sevilla's French defender Jules Kounde throughout the off-season.

The 22-year-old centre-back did not play for Sevilla at the weekend and reportedly wants to exit the club.

Kounde would be Chelsea's second major signing behind Romelu Lukaku, as the transfer window closure approaches.

 

TOP STORY – CHELSEA FACING MONDAY ULTIMATUM ON KOUNDE

Chelsea's drawn-out pursuit of Sevilla's Jules Kounde has hit another speed bump with the Spanish club issuing the Blues an ultimatum, according to AS.

Sevilla have told Chelsea if they do not submit a suitable offer on Monday, then they have to meet Kounde's €80 million (£68m) release clause.

Chelsea have not tabled a firm bid for Kounde beyond €50m, while the LaLiga outfit had reportedly previously wanted €60-70m.

ROUND-UP

- The Star reports that Cristiano Ronaldo's arrival at Manchester United will force Dan James out, with Everton, Brighton and Hove Albion, Leeds United and Crystal Palace all in the running for the Welsh winger.

- Manchester United are unlikely to move for Atletico Madrid full-back and long-term target Kieran Trippier reports the Manchester Evening News. United's capture of Ronaldo means their transfer business is over.

- Sport reports that Juventus are ready to make one final effort to sign Miralem Pjanic back from Barcelona. Juve are willing to take Pjanic on loan, with the midfielder out of favour at Barca.

- Aston Villa are set to table a £15m bid for Liverpool midfielder Curtis Jones according to the Express. The Villans are eager to strengthen having missed out on Arsenal's Emile Smith Rowe.

Barcelona have to be "realistic" in the transfer market and cannot hope to match the financial power of Paris Saint-Germain or the two Manchester clubs, according to Ronald Koeman.

Hit hard by previous mismanagement and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, Barca are in financial turmoil with debts reaching €1.4billion earlier this month.

It resulted in the loss of talisman Lionel Messi, whose 21-year association with the Blaugrana ended in early August when Barca confirmed LaLiga restrictions meant re-signing him was an impossibility following the expiration of his contract in June. He subsequently joined PSG on a free transfer.

Barca are still looking to trim their squad to cut their wage bill. Gerard Pique was among those to take a pay reduction so the club to fall in line with salary cap rules, thus allowing them to register Memphis Depay and Eric Garcia, two of the four new arrivals this transfer window alongside full-back Emerson Royal and striker Sergio Aguero, who is out injured.

With rivals Real Madrid bidding for PSG star Kylian Mbappe, Koeman is still reportedly wanting to add to his squad before Tuesday's deadline, though he accepts Barca have to know their limits.

"Every person who wants the best for this club is frustrated but you also have to be realistic, and economically the club cannot compete with other teams like PSG, City or United," Koeman told a news conference ahead of Sunday's clash with Getafe.

"It is like that and you have to accept it. It will last for a long time, it is not a matter of ending today or tomorrow. I have always said that you have to be realistic and know the situation of the club.

"You have to know the moment of the club, that we are changing things, with young players. We are missing six or seven players who can start but we have a good team.

"I am not in favour of thinking about not winning things. We are a club that must always show a winning mentality, but at this moment we cannot fight with the best in the world.

"It does not depend on the best player in the world, it depends on the team and the mentality. We know that we lack the best in the world and we have to have other things."

Asked for his opinion on Madrid's chase of Mbappe, Koeman replied: "If Madrid have the money... I would also want to have him in my team. If you can improve your squad with these players, perfect.

"It seems crazy to me and absurd figures to pay so much money for a player seeing how the world is."

Samuel Umtiti and Miralem Pjanic are players who Barca wish to move on, but Koeman hailed the latter's attitude and application despite his situation, with both making the squad for the Getafe match.

"There are just a few days to go to release players who want to play for other teams. Pjanic is one of the players. His attitude is very good and that's why he's in the squad list," said Koeman.

One player who could bring the star quality Barca crave is Ansu Fati, who has returned to training after missing the majority of last season with a serious knee injury.

Koeman, though, insisted Barca will take it slowly when it comes to easing the teenager back into action.

"We don't have to go fast. I think Ansu still needs more time to become fit at the best level," said Koeman, who is able to welcome back Marc-Andre ter Stegen and Oscar Mingueza for Sunday's game.

"We are talking about a player who has been out injured for seven or eight months and you cannot recover your good form in three weeks, so I don't want to say one date.

"I read in the press that he would be available against Sevilla [on September 11]. I can confirm he won't be ready for that game, he needs more training sessions because we want to have Ansu for a long time and we are not going to take a single risk."

Could the Kylian Mbappe transfer saga be nearing a conclusion?

Long linked with Real Madrid, Mbappe is out of contract at the end of the season.

Paris Saint-Germain's attempts to re-sign Mbappe have been fruitless up until this point and the Ligue 1 giants are reportedly willing to cash in.

 

TOP STORY – MBAPPE NEARING MADRID?

Paris Saint-Germain are prepared to accept an offer for Kylian Mbappe should one arrive from Real Madrid before the end of the transfer window, according to RMC.

PSG have been fighting to re-sign Mbappe, who is in the final year of his current deal in the French capital.

However, PSG have reportedly accepted defeat in their efforts to retain Mbappe beyond the 2021-22 season as Madrid look to lure the Frenchman to the Santiago Bernabeu.

Premier League pair Manchester United and Liverpool have also been linked.

 

ROUND-UP

- The Mirror writes United are prepared to offer cash plus a player-swap – believed to be Jesse Lingard – to sign West Ham's Declan Rice.

- Atletico Madrid are closing in on a deal to sign Hertha Berlin's Matheus Cunha, says Fabrizio Romano. LaLiga champions Atletico had been linked with Fiorentina star Dusan Vlahovic – also wanted by the likes of Manchester City, Tottenham, Inter and Arsenal – but have so far failed to reach an agreement.

- The Daily Telegraph reports Tottenham are preparing a £40million bid to reunite Nuno Espirito Santo with Wolves star Adama Traore.

Napoli are eyeing unwanted Barcelona midfielder Miralem Pjanic, per Correire dello Sport. Pjanic had looked set to return to Juventus.

- Arsenal midfielder Lucas Torreira will move to Fiorentina after turning down Eintracht Frankfurt, according to Romano.

Chelsea are continuing to eye Sevilla defender Jules Kounde, claims Romano. The Frenchman is ready to swap Seville for London after agreeing personal terms on a deal until June 2026.

- Inter are monitoring Torino star Andrea Belotti as they seek to replace Romelu Lukaku, says Calciomercato. The Serie A champions have also been linked to Lazio forward Joaquin Correa.

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