Manuel Pellegrini admits he faces the sack at West Ham

‘Maybe I’m not in my job on Monday’: Manuel Pellegrini admits he could face axe at West Ham no matter what result he picks up against Southampton as pressure grows on his position

  • West Ham boss Manuel Pellegrini is under fire at West Ham after a poor season 
  • The Hammers are lingering near the relegation zone after eight league defeats 
  • The club’s hierarchy met earlier this week to discuss the 66-year-old’s position
  • Now the Chilean admits he could be sacked ahead of the Southampton game  

Manuel Pellegrini has conceded that win or lose against Southampton on Saturday evening and he could be sacked as the manager of West Ham.

Speculation over Pellegrini’s future has intensified in recent weeks with the Hammers just a point above the Premier League relegation zone after only one win in 10 matches.

Sportsmail reported earlier this week that West Ham’s hierarchy had met to discuss the 66-year-old’s future following a dismal 3-1 defeat by Arsenal at the London Stadium on Monday night.

Manuel Pellegrini understands the precarious position he is in ahead of trip to Southampton

But Pellegrini believes even if his side beat Southampton he could be out of a job come the end of the weekend.

He said: ‘What I really need is to win the game but maybe I’m not in my job on Monday.

‘That’s not a problem of the job. The problem is to try to improve what you’re doing because we don’t have the results and of course for many years in this profession having just five points from this many games [10] is not good enough.’

Pellegrini has 18 months left on his £8million-a-year contract at West Ham and sacking him now would cost the club around £13m.

West Ham have not produced this season despite making a host of investments in the summer

Manager Pellegrini has insisted that his West Ham side have not performed well enough

The club have stayed patient because of the sizeable pay-off but even Pellegrini admitted he wouldn’t have got as much time at other clubs.

He cited Tottenham and Arsenal, who have sacked their managers from the start of the season, adding that had the owners at West Ham been different to David Sullivan and David Gold he may have been let go already.

He said: ‘It’s not normal to have five points from 10 games and very bad results. That’s why I know that the owner trusts what we are doing because another owner maybe you have been sacked before. We know what football is and we are trying to get results.’ 

Asked if he needed a vote of confidence from the board, he said: ‘No, no.’

The clock is ticking on Pellegrini’s reign at West Ham as speculation swirls around his future

Midfielder Declan Rice looks dejected after the Hammers fall to a 3-1 home loss to Arsenal

Despite admitting how bad his side’s form had been, Pellegrini also said he thought West Ham had improved on last season when they finished 10th.

He added: ‘I think that this season we have improved a lot. if you join the last four games of last season with the seven first games of the season, in 11 games I think that we lost one, we drew seven and we won three.

‘So it was demonstrated that for a long time, the team was playing the way you want. With that amount of points maybe you finish the season with 68 or 69 points. Something happened – a lot of different things that we know happened. And we must try to solve it.’




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Manchester United vs AZ Alkmaar, player ratings: Mason Greenwood stars in Europa League win

Manchester United swatted aside AZ Alkmaar in impressive fashion to close out their Europa League group stage with a victory.

Teenager Mason Greenwood was the undoubted star of the show, scoring two superbly taken goals and generally causing havoc among the Alkmaar defence.

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Ratings: Manchester United vs AZ





1/22 Sergio Romero

2/22 Ashley Young

3/22 Axel Tuanzebe

4/22 Harry Maguire

5/22 Brandon Williams

6/22 James Garner

7/22 Nemanja Matic

8/22 Mason Greenwood

9/22 Juan Mata

10/22 Andreas Periera

11/22 Anthony Martial

12/22 Marco Bizot

13/22 Jonas Svensson

14/22 Stijn Wuytens

15/22 Jordy Clasie

16/22 Owen Wijndal

17/22 Fredrik Midtsjo

18/22 Teun Koopmeiners

19/22 Dani de Wit

20/22 Yukinari Sugawara

21/22 Calvin Stengs

22/22 Oussama Idrissi

1/22 Sergio Romero

2/22 Ashley Young

3/22 Axel Tuanzebe

4/22 Harry Maguire

5/22 Brandon Williams

6/22 James Garner

7/22 Nemanja Matic

8/22 Mason Greenwood

9/22 Juan Mata

10/22 Andreas Periera

11/22 Anthony Martial

12/22 Marco Bizot

13/22 Jonas Svensson

14/22 Stijn Wuytens

15/22 Jordy Clasie

16/22 Owen Wijndal

17/22 Fredrik Midtsjo

18/22 Teun Koopmeiners

19/22 Dani de Wit

20/22 Yukinari Sugawara

21/22 Calvin Stengs

22/22 Oussama Idrissi

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Ex-Bruin Thomas details dark days, brain damage

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Former Bruins goaltender Tim Thomas made his first public appearance since walking away from hockey in 2014, and fought back tears as he described the brain damage he has endured after sustaining a concussion in his final NHL season.

“I couldn’t communicate with anybody for a few years,” Thomas told reporters on Thursday, ahead of his induction to the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame. “I didn’t call my dad. I didn’t talk to anybody. There was a time period, yeah, where I hated the game, so to speak. I didn’t sit there and [say] I hate it. My rebound effect was like, this wasn’t worth it.”

After a decade playing in the minors and Europe, Thomas broke into the NHL as a full-time goaltender in 2005-06 as a 31-year-old. In 2011, Thomas led the Bruins to their first Stanley Cup since 1972. At age 37, Thomas became the oldest winner of the Conn Smythe Trophy, punctuated by shutting out the Vancouver Canucks in Game 7.

Thomas took a season off in 2012-13 to focus on “family, friends, and faith,” he wrote in a post on his since-deleted Facebook page. He returned for 2013-14, splitting 48 games between the Florida Panthers and Dallas Stars before stepping away for good.

Thomas said that in a December 2013 game with the Panthers, he sustained a concussion “that changed my life.”

“I woke up the next morning after it and I couldn’t decide what I wanted to eat, where I wanted to go,” Thomas said. “I couldn’t plan a schedule. I survived following the team schedule the rest of the year and just made it through that season.”

Thomas finished that season, and played in the World Championships that spring, too.

“On the ice, I was able to be like 97 percent maybe, 95 percent of what I was before, but off the ice, like I said, I still can’t choose,” Thomas said. “I’m so much better, but I wake up every day and basically I have to reorder everything in my mind for the first couple hours of the day and then make a list and try to make some choices to get some stuff done.”

Thomas said it was difficult to face reporters on Thursday. The Michigan native is now living in Idaho with his family.

“I didn’t want to talk about this,” he said. “I didn’t want to talk. I didn’t want to tell the world this stuff. Not till I felt ready, and I didn’t feel ready yet. But here I am.”

Thomas said he has relied on support from his wife, kids and brother through the difficult time. Thomas also cited reading Ken Dryden’s book “Game Change,” about Steve Montador, a former NHL player who was diagnosed with CTE after his death.

“It actually helped my family understanding what was going on,” Thomas said of the book. “That, to me, was a step forward as far as understanding that other people are going through the same deal. I just thought I was unique. When you’re going through it, you just can’t understand.”

Thomas has tried several experimental treatments which he says have helped with his brain function, including oxygen therapy.

He also cited “really, really good water with ionic minerals” as part of his healing. “There’s a lot about water that an average person wouldn’t think about,” Thomas said.

Thomas dropped the puck for the Bruins-Capitals game on Wednesday night, and said it was the first NHL game he had attended since retiring.

“I couldn’t follow the game anymore,” Thomas said. “My brain wasn’t functioning well enough to be able to keep up with the game, so I sat out in the woods for a few years. I didn’t watch much hockey. There’s not much TV out there.”

Thomas said being at the arena was “surprisingly comfortable.” He “had a blast” seeing the trainers, as well as visiting Zdeno Chara, Tuukka Rask, Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand and David Krejci for the first time sine he walked away.

Thomas was inducted in a five-person class to the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame that included NHL commissioner Gary Bettman, longtime NHL forward Brian Gionta, women’s star Krissy Wendall, and Neal Henderson, the co-founder of the oldest minority hockey club in North America.

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Rangers player ratings vs Young Boys: Morelos gets an 8, but which Gers ace was given a 4?

Rangers booked their place in the last 32 of the Europa League with a draw against Young Boys. The Gers drew 1-1 with the Swiss champions thanks to a first-half strike from Alfredo Morelos and an unfortunate own goal from Borna Barisic.

The draw saw Steven Gerrard’s troops miss out on the opportunity to top G with 11 points, relinquishing top spot the Portuguese giants Porto.

Rangers were dominant from the outset, taking the game to Gerardo Seoane’s side from the very first minute.

But who was the Glasgow club’s star man in their draw with the Swiss champions?

Scroll down to see Express Sports’ full list of player ratings for the Teddy Bears.

JUST IN: Europa League draw: When is it? Who can Man Utd, Arsenal, Celtic and Rangers face?

Rangers player ratings versus Young Boys

Allan McGregor – 7

A quiet night for the veteran keeper, who spent most of the match a wet spectator. But when called upon in the 65th minute, the former Scotland international produced a spectacular one-handed save to keep his side ahead.

James Tavernier – 6

Defensively solid and worked hard to get up the park and offer an auxiliary threat on the right flank.

Nikola Katic – 6

Had very little to do but marshalled the defence well during set plays.

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Connor Goldson – 6

Like Katic, he was rarely called upon but was positionally son

Borna Barisic – 5

Steady as always on the left flank and was a constant threat with his deliveries from set-pieces. Was unlucky to have put the ball in his own net as had he not made a last-ditch attempt to stop the cross the ball would’ve been tapped home.

Glen Kamara – 6

Industrious in the middle but struggled to take the game by the scruff of the neck

Ryan Jack – 4

Offered little and was anonymous for the majority of the game. And he foolishly got sent off shortly after Barisic’s unfortunate own goal to heap even more pressure on the home side.

Joe Aribo – 5.5

Was frustrating to watch as he often dithered on the ball and was guilty of giving away possession on multiple occasions.

Scott Arfield – 6

Ran his heart out but struggled to make a real impact on the game.

Alfredo Morelos – 8

As usual, the Colombian was live from the outset and proved to be the biggest threat to Young Boys. And he got his just reward in the 30th minute when he put the Gers’ 1-0 with a neat side-footed finished from just outside the 18-yard box.

Ryan Kent – 6

Guilty of giving the ball away on several occasions and offered very little in terms of an attacking threat.

He did, however, set Morelos up for his first-half strike – though he was aided by two defensive errors.

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Boxer ‘literally the elephant in the room’

The only figure outnumbering the amount of party pies Andy Ruiz stuffed down his gob before his heavyweight title defence is the number of critics who have come out and blasted the boxer for his poor preparation ahead of his fight against Anthony Joshua.

It’s been nearly a week since Ruiz surrendered his belts in Saudi Arabia but the taunts keep coming from pundits who can’t believe the defending champ entered the ring in such awful shape.

The American-Mexican has admitted he “ate everything” and partied too hard before the biggest bout of his career and British boxing manager and promoter Frank Warren has become the latest voice to lash out at the 30-year-old’s conditioning.

Ruiz weighed in for the fight at 128kg — 7kg heavier than he was when he upset Joshua in June — making him the heaviest boxer to fight for a world heavyweight title behind seven-foot Russian Nikolai Valuev.

At the time Ruiz insisted it was all part of the plan but it became painfully clear during the scrap his fitness cost him any real shot at retaining his gold straps.

Writing a blog post on his website, Warren — who promotes British megastar Tyson Fury — branded Ruiz a “disgrace” to boxing.

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“Andy Ruiz Jr, on the other hand, brought disgrace to himself and the sport by simply failing to prepare to any sort of required level,” Warren wrote.

“Just because you are a heavyweight it shouldn’t mean you don’t have an obligation to display a certain degree of athletic intention.

“Yes, he was heavy last time around and usually wobbles a bit around the middle, but this was ridiculous. When eyebrows were being raised at the weigh-in he literally was the elephant in the room.

“Joshua must have wondered which chin he was supposed to aim for.”

READ: Boxing’s king becomes a big fat joke

Ruiz presented a mighty big target.Source:AFP

He just wasn’t in any shape to trouble Joshua.Source:AFP

Ruiz posed a threat whenever he got on the inside but Joshua boxed smart, staying on the outside and picking his shots carefully. Ruiz was simply too gassed to close the distance when he needed to, costing him any hope of victory.

Warren showed no mercy, saying Ruiz “scoffed himself out of being world champion” and “ate himself out of contention”.

“I saw in an interview before the fight with Ruiz saying he had achieved his dream. Well, if his dream was to win the titles then stuff himself stupid and lose them at the first time of asking, then his dream has become a reality,” Warren wrote.

“King of the heavyweight division to Burger King in the space of six months.”

Warren’s savage spray comes after a host of big names in boxing slammed Ruiz for failing to take his preparation seriously.

Deontay Wilder, who holds the WBC heavyweight title, couldn’t believe the disrespect Ruiz showed to the sport.

“Ruiz said he was doing great, not letting this moment get to him,’ the Bronze Bomber told the Athletic.

“But in the end you hear him saying he ate too much and should’ve trained harder … Like, what the f***? What do you mean you ate too much and could’ve trained harder?

“I take this s*** seriously. I don’t know what their mentality is, but I didn’t become champion of the world just to say, ‘Put me in the record books. At least I can say I was a champion. They can never take that away from me’. F*** that s***. I’m here for legacy. Long live the king. That’s my mentality.”

Andre Ward, a super middleweight champion who retired with a 32-0 record in 2017, was also savage in his assessment, saying Ruiz “blew a big opportunity”.

“He said he would die in the ring to keep his belts,” Ward tweeted. “It didn’t take all of that, it just took the discipline and courage to push the plate back and deny himself, to put himself in the best position to win. He couldn’t do it.”

Ruiz was way too slow on his feet and didn’t have the fitness to really test his opponent.Source:AP

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Man Utd lead race to sign Haaland who has a £20m release clause

Manchester United lead race to sign wonderkid Erling Braut Haaland as top European clubs battle it out to land striker on the cheap due to Salzburg striker’s £20m release clause

  • Salzburg striker Erling Braut Haaland remains Manchester United’s top target 
  • On Wednesday, he visited training grounds of RB Leipzig and Borussia Dortmund
  • Juventus are also interested in the highly-rated 19-year-old Norway international

Christmas may come early for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer with news that his Manchester United side are the frontrunners for top target Erling Braut Haaland.

The RB Salzburg striker is highly-rated with a raft clubs interested in his services after an emphatic start to the season.

However, according to The Telegraph the 19-year-old favours a move to Old Trafford as his next destination.

Manchester United lead the race to sign RB Salzburg striker Erling Braut Haaland 

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is a huge fan of Haaland – having worked with the forward at Molde

On Wednesday, Haaland and his agent Mino Raiola visited the training grounds of Salzburg’s German sister club RB Leipzig and Bundesliga giants Borussia Dortmund but harbours thoughts of United too. 

The Norway international has a release clause in January of just £20million – making him a realistic target for the aforementioned clubs, with Juventus also among his suitors.

Solskjaer has been a long admirer of his compatriot – having worked with the teenager during their time together at Molde.

Haaland is enjoying a devastating season with Salzburg – having netted 28 goals and even supplied seven assists in 22 matches so far this season.

Scouts from 40 different European clubs watches Haaland in action against Liverpool during their 2-0 Champions League defeat on Tuesday night in Austria.

On Wednesday, Haaland and his agent Mino Raiola visited the two Bundesliga clubs

The routes taken by the Cessna jet as Haaland and Raiola toured Europe on Wednesday

 


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Standard Liege 2-2 Arsenal: Gunners finish top of Group F

Standard Liege 2-2 Arsenal: Alexandre Lacazette and Bukayo Saka strike as Gunners come from two goals down to finish top of Group F

  • The visitors created the better chances in the first half but the game remained goalless at half-time 
  • Samuel Bastien broke the deadlock in the 47th minute when his strike took a huge deflection of Sokratis’ arm
  • Selim Amallah doubled the lead with an effort than took a defection off Konstantinos Mavropanos’ hand 
  • Bukayo Saka crossed for Alexandre Lacazette to head home and end the home side’s hopes of qualifying 
  • Saka then drew his side level moments with a fine curling effort after playing a one-two on the edge of the box

So, Carlo, fancy it? On the one hand, should Ancelotti become Arsenal manager, he will rarely endure a dull moment. On the other, this defence requires the most major of major surgeries.

Arsenal secured their spot in the next round of the Europa League but for the 13th consecutive outing, they failed to keep a clean sheet – equalling a club record from 2004.

They also finished top of Group F, owing to two late Vitoria Guimaraes goals that left Eintracht Frankfurt as runners-up. Into the hat they go, even if it all was a bit uninspiring. 

Alexandre Lacazette (right) congratulates Bukayo Saka after the youngster drew Arsenal level during the second half

Saka (right) curled the ball into the far corner after exchanging a one-two Gabriel Martinelli on the edge of the box

Lacazette (left) watches on as Saka (centre) shoots to score Arsenal’s equalising goal at the Stade Maurice Dufrasne

Lacazette (eft) and Saka celebrate after finding the net in quick succession to put the Gunners back on top of the group 

Standard Liege (4-5-1): Bodart, Fai, Vanheusden, Laifis, Gavory, Mehdi Carcela-Gonzalez, Bastien, M’Poku, Cimirot, Amallah (Lestienne 85), Emond (Avenatti 46)

Subs not used: Gillet, Lavalee, Cop, Boljevic, Vojvoda

Goals: Bastien 47, Amallah 69

Arsenal (3-4-2-1): Martinez, Mavropanos, Luiz, Papastathopoulos (Martinelli 69), Maitland-Niles (Chambers 78), Guendouzi, Willock, Saka, Smith-Rowe (Aubameyang 85), Lacazette, Nelson

Subs not used: Leno, John-Jules, Medley, Olayinka

Goals: Lacazette 78, Saka 81

Referee: Andreas Ekberg (Sweden)

Interim head coach Freddie Ljungberg knew all his side of striplings had to do was avoid defeat by five goals to qualify. In the end, Standard Liege didn’t even muster five shots.

Their two strikes here were both avoidable, though Arsenal at least showed character in coming from 2-0 down to draw 2-2, with Bukayo Saka the inspiration behind the comeback.

Needing a miracle to go through, Belgian newspaper Het Laatste Nieuws tried to inspire the hosts by reminding them Lenny Kravitz once said: ‘Baby, it ain’t over ’til it’s over.’

Het Nieuwsblad were less optimistic, opting for the headline ‘Mission Impossible’ on their front page. The crowd were up for it, as they came armed with flags and fireworks.

Within 30 seconds, Matteo Guendouzi was on the ground holding his face. He had been welcomed to Liege by the flailing arm of Paul-Jose Mpoku, though the Arsenal man milked the contact. 

It killed a minute or two, perhaps in a bid to interrupt the hosts. Ljungberg had warned his players that Standard, primarily playing for pride, would come after them.

Arsenal, whose line up screamed inexperience, had to limit their errors. The only way this might become a more competitive match would be if they shot themselves in the foot.

Lacazette headed home from Saka’s inch-perfect cross to halve the deficit in the 78th minute of the Europa League clash

Liege goalkeeper Arnaud Bodart (left) can only watch as Lacazette (2nd right) heads home on the edge of the six yard box

The French striker points to the skies after scoring his sixth goal of the season in all competitions on Thursday night

Yet once again, Arsenal tried to play it out from the back and once again, it was calamitous. Ljungberg had called on his players to be courageous, but there’s bravery then there’s stupidity.

David Luiz was at the heart of a three-man defence that also included Konstantinos Mavropanos, the 22-year-old Greek making his first senior appearance this season.

Those two were almost caught out early on. A poor header by Luiz led to Mavropanos giving the ball to Mehdi Carcela, who should have tested Emiliano Martinez with a better effort.

Martinez later tried to take part in tiki-taka by his own box and came close to embarrassment, too.

At the other end, Arsenal looked exciting. Emile Smith Rowe slotted in nicely on the right side and only the foot of goalkeeper Arnaud Bodart denied him from scoring in the 13th minute.

Goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez (centre) is wrong-footed after Samuel Bastien’s strike takes a big deflection off of Sokratis’ arm

Bastien (2nd right) celebrates with his team-mates after breaking the deadlock just two minutes after the half-time break

Saka then broke through on the left wing but Bodart did his job again, denying the youngster. Moments later, the 18-year-old Londoner fired over from the same side.

As time ticked on, Arsenal edged closer to the knockout stages. They had coped with the pitch, with all of its divots, and dealt well with an aggressive Stade Maurice Dufrasne atmosphere.

Before the break, Saka had his third attempt at scoring but again, he was denied. A spot of composure and the young man might have had a first career hat-trick.

Elsewhere, Eintracht Frankfurt were winning 2-1 against Vitoria SC, meaning Arsenal were sitting second in Group F. As things stood, they would be unseeded in Monday’s draw.

Two minutes after the restart, Standard had the lead. Samuel Bastien fired a speculative 25-yard shot and it took a wicked deflected off of Sokratis, who had turned his back on it.

That was poor from the big Greek and harsh on a helpless Martinez who had already dived to one side, only to see the ball trickle by him on the other.

Not for the first time this season, Arsenal’s defenders were left looking at one another.

Fireworks were set off in one corner of the Stade Maurice Dufrasne. The side sitting third in the Belgian First Division – and who lost 4-0 at the Emirates Stadium – had the lead.

They were controlling the tempo, too, and Standard soon had a second goal.

Joe Willock passed the ball into the feet of Selim Amallah. The attacker danced a little then created a yard of space for a shot, which led to another deflection off of Mavropanos.

Arnaud Bodart (left) gets a foot to Emile Smith Rowe’s (centre) shot to it to send it behind for a corner in the first half

Saka takes a shot from the left hand side of the box during the final minute of the second half in Belgium on Thursday

Martinez dived but could not reach it and Arsenal were staring at a defeat.

Alexandre Lacazette had been anonymous in attack, then he turned up. Saka crossed and the No 9 got his head to the ball, scoring from pointblank range.

Then, game on. Having created one goal, he scored the next. Saka worked his way across the box and tried his luck. He found the far corner, escaping the fingertips of Bodart.

Smith Rowe grabbed hold of the ball and raced back to the halfway line, calling on his team-mates to reset. He wanted to go again. He wanted a winner.

In the end, draw was enough and Arsenal were Group F winners.



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Liverpool players told Jurgen Klopp to seal Takumi Minamimo transfer after Salzburg win

Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp was told by his players that the club must sign Takumi Minamino after his team beat Red Bull Salzburg on Tuesday. The Reds knew they had to avoid defeat in Austria to make it through to the Champions League knockout stages, but the win ensured they qualified as the winners of Group E.

Salzburg had asked plenty of questions, particularly in the first half, with Erling Haaland forcing Alisson into action.

According to the Liverpool Echo, the Liverpool players urged Klopp to sign Minamino after their win at the Red Bull Arena.

It’s not the first time he has caught their eye either, after scoring in the 4-3 win over the Austrian club at Anfield just over two months ago.

Little did the players know, Klopp and the Liverpool hierarchy were already sounding out a deal for the Japanese star.

He is now poised to join the club on January 1, subject to a medical and personal terms.

JUST IN: Liverpool to sign Takumi Minamino in January transfer window after beating Man Utd to deal

Over 40 scouts were in attendance to watch Tuesday’s match in which Minamino was one of several stars to impress.

The majority of those came to watch Erling Braut Haaland, who was relatively contained by Dejan Lovren and Virgil van Dijk.

For Minamino, the wheels were already in motion well before the Liverpool players ordered Klopp to sign the attacking midfielder.

Talks are thought to have begun over six weeks ago between the two clubs.

The Daily Mirror claim that Liverpool have been tracking Minamino since his days with Cerezo Osaka in Japan six years ago.

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Sporting director Michael Edwards has a strong relationship with Salzburg’s director of football Christoph Freund.

Freund confirmed that the club were in talks with Liverpool on Thursday.

“I can confirm that there are currently discussions with Liverpool,” he said.

“It is an honour which clubs are interested in our players.”

Minamino is set to undergo a medical in the coming weeks as he completes his switch from Salzburg.

All being well, he will be officially a Liverpool player on January 1.

The Reds had to beat several clubs including Manchester United, Borussia Monchengladbach and AC Milan to his signature.

It was Liverpool who discovered his £7.25million release clause first though and they had opted to take advantage of that.

United are said to have earmarked the star as a potential alternative to James Maddison, one of their top targets ahead of the January window.

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Europa League draw: When is it? Who can Man Utd, Arsenal, Celtic and Rangers face next?

The group stage of the Europa League will come to an end tonight, with Rangers and Arsenal both on course to join Manchester United, Celtic and Wolves in the round of 32. But who could the quartet face in the next round and when will they learn their respective fates.

The final round of the Europa League fixtures will take place this evening, with Manchester United, Rangers, Arsenal, Celtic and Wolves all in action.

Arsenal and Rangers have yet to qualify for the round of the 32 but will do so with victories over Standard Liege and Young Boys respectively.

But when is the draw for the next round of the tournament? And who is in it?

When is the draw?

The draw for the last 32 of this season’s Europa League takes place at 12pm on Monday, December 16.

How can I watch the draw?

Fans who want to watch their teams learn their fates can do so by tuning in to BT Sport 1 at 12pm or by heading to UEFA.com.

The draw will take place after the Champions League last 16 draw.

Which teams have already qualified for the last 32?

READ MORE

  • Arsenal legend urges club to appoint manager similar to Jose Mourinho

Seeded

Ajax (dropping from Champions League)

Benfica (dropping from Champions League)

Celtic (Group E winners)

Espanyol (Group H winners)

Inter Milan (dropping from Champions League)

RB Salzburg (dropping from Champions League)

Sevilla (Group A winners)

Unseeded

APOEL (Group A runners-up)

Club Brugge (dropping from Champions League)

Bayer Leverkusen (dropping from Champions League)

Olympiacos (dropping from Champions League)

Shakhtar Donetsk (dropping from Champions League)

Qualified with pot to be determined

AZ Alkmaar (Group L)

FC Basel (Group C)

Braga (Group K)

Gent (Group I)

LASK (Group D)

Manchester United (Group L)

Sporting Lisbon (Group D)

Wolfsburg (Group I)

Wolves (Group K)

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The Chelsea defender Frank Lampard wants Nathan Ake to replace in January

Chelsea boss Frank Lampard will want Nathan Ake to replace Andreas Christensen in the January transfer window, claims transfer expert Duncan Castles. Ake has been linked with a move back to Chelsea, two years after leaving the Blues for Bournemouth. Chelsea are said to have a buyback clause on the Holland international of around £39million.

Castles does not think Ake is a top-level centre-back in the making.

However, he reckons it is an upgrade on Chelsea’s current defenders and Christensen in particular.

Christensen has played Chelsea’s last two Premier League matches but has often been left out of the team this season, with Kurt Zouma and Fikayo Tomori preferred.

“I think Ake is a very solid Premier League defender,” Castles said on the Transfer Window Podcast.

JUST IN: Standard Liege vs Arsenal LIVE: Team news and line ups confirmed, Europa League latest

“I’m not sure he’s going to be a top, Champions League defender.

“I think he’s skilful on the ball and he does the basic stuff pretty well.

“But I think physically somewhat lacking and just not quite top tier.

“As an improvement on what they have, I can very much understand why they would be thinking of doing that, and at a price of less than £40m.

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  • Chelsea fans told the one signing Lampard will look to make in January

“Given the current inflated valuations of centre-backs in the Premier League, still a very young player, will count as homegrown, they’re a lot of positives to it.

“Andreas Christensen, I don’t see as being the answer. He’s been in and around that Chelsea team for a long time now.

“He looks like he should be a top modern centre-back. He’s tall and comfortable on the ball but he is not at all decisive or aggressive in his play and very error prone.

“I’ve not sure I’ve watched a game with Christensen against a top team which he hasn’t made some kind of error.

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“So I can understand why Lampard is thinking ‘If I have the opportunity of getting this player in and the management of the club are on board with spending money on that player, I’ll take him and fit him into the system’.

“It’s definitely a weak point in the team at the moment.”

Chelsea are now able to sign players in January after FIFA cut their transfer ban in half last week.

But head coach Lampard insists he will not react to recent defeats by splashing the cash.

“I think you’ve got to be careful about being too reactionary – ban lifted and defeat to Everton – it’s quite easy to come to that conclusion,” Lampard said.

“Just as much as people at the start of the season who were saying ‘We’ve got all these young boys, this is going to be no problem, we don’t need any players’.

“I think at a club like Chelsea there needs to be a balance.

“You have a strong squad which I believe we have but you have to look at can we strengthen.

“And there will time times going forward, whether it’s January or next summer, of course we’re going to look at an opportunity to strengthen because we want to improve.”

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