Cesar Azpilicueta Extends Chelsea FC Contract for Two More Years

Cesar Azpilicueta is staying put…

The 32-year-old Spanish soccer player has decided to extend his contract with Chelsea for another two years instead of moving to FC Barcelona.

Cesar Azpilicueta ESPN sources report that the Spain international reached an agreement to join Barcelona a few months ago but negotiations between both clubs stalled more than expected and Azpilicueta has opted to stay at Stamford Bridge.

Azpilicueta had been hoping to resolve his future before Chelsea’s Premier League opening game at Everton on Saturday.

He has already informed Barca of his decision and signed a contract extension with the London club for the next two seasons.

“I am really happy to extend my stay at Chelsea, my home,” Azpilicueta said ion Chelsea’s announcement. “It is almost 10 years since I first arrived and joined the club so I really feel the love and I am really excited for the new project we have in our hands.

“I would like to say thank you to [chairman and co-controlling owner] Mr Todd [Boehly] and [co-controlling owner] Mr Behdad [Eghbali] for giving me the opportunity to keep my journey at this amazing club and I am really looking forward to continuing our adventure. I am a really proud captain and I hope we can share many good memories together.”

Manager Thomas Tuchel wasn’t keen on letting his captain leave this summer and new owner Boehly stood by his wish, according to ESPN.

According to sources, Tuchel sees Azpilicueta as a key member in the dressing room and his presence brings stability amid upheaval at Chelsea in recent months.

“We are so happy that Cesar is staying at Chelsea for a minimum of two more years,” Boehly said. “We are thrilled with our captain showing his exemplary commitment and leadership yet again. There is still so much to do together.”

ESPN reported in November that Xavi told Barca to sign Azpilicueta to strengthen his defensive options.

Barca obliged and reached a verbal agreement for the defender to move to Camp Nou as a free agent. However, an appearance-related clause triggered an automatic one-year extension for the player at the end of the season.

Xavi was so interested in bringing the defender to the club that Barca were ready to pay a small fee to Chelsea to sign Azpilicueta. But the LaLiga giants prioritiszed other signings and decided to delay their pursuit of Chelsea’s captain.

Roberto Martinez Reportedly Leading Candidate for Everton Manager Job

Will Roberto Martinez side with Everton?

The 48-year-old Spanish football coach and former professional player is the leading candidate to replace Rafael Benitez as Everton manager, according to ESPN sources.

Roberto MartinezMartinez, the current Belgium coach, has received strong backing from the Goodison Park hierarchy following the firing of Benitez after just 200 days in charge.

Former Everton forward Wayne Rooney, now managing Championship club Derby County, is being linked with a return to Goodison, but sources have told ESPN that Martinez is the leading contender at this stage.

Martinez, who spent three years in charge at Everton between 2013-2016, is being considered as both a short-term option and long-term successor to Benitez by senior figures at the club.

Having guided Belgium to qualification for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar later this year, Martinez’s determination to see through the job he started in 2016 could prevent him taking the Everton job on a full-time basis until after the tournament.

But having missed out on a return to Everton last summer due to the decision of owner Farhad Moshiri to hire former Liverpool boss Benitez, Martinez is now the leading candidate to go back to the club due to his success with Belgium and reputation for playing attractive, attacking football.

Martinez was favored by Marcel Brands, who left his role as Everton director of football in late-2021, when Carlo Ancelotti left the club for Real Madrid last summer. But although he was regarded as Brands’ candidate, he retains support at Goodison.

Assistant manager Duncan Ferguson is expected to take charge of Everton against Aston Villa next Saturday, enabling the club to spend time during the international break which follows to appoint an interim or permanent manager.

Five Premier League Clubs Reportedly Interested in Barcelona’s Philippe Coutinho

Philippe Coutinho could be making a premier move…

The 29-year-old Brazilian soccer player is open to leaving FC Barcelona this month and five Premier League clubs, including Aston Villa, have expressed an interest in signing him on loan, according to ESPN sources.

Philippe Coutinho

Coutinho’s agent Kia Joorabchian is working in collaboration with Barca to find a new home for the Brazil international, who wants to play regular football before the World Cup in Qatar later this year.

Multiple sources have confirmed that Villa, coached by Coutinho’s former Liverpool teammate Steven Gerrard, are one of the clubs interested in signing the attacking midfielder.

A source close to Coutinho’s camp added that talks with all interested parties are still at a very early stage and that “no [club] is being ruled out at this stage.”

“It’s all to do with the football project more than anything else,” the source added.

Another source revealed that Everton are one of the clubs who have held talks over a deal for Coutinho, who spent five years at their Merseyside rivals Liverpool before joining Barca for a club record €160 million fee in 2018.

However, there is an internal debate at Goodison Park, with owner Farhad Moshiri keen on doing a deal for Coutinho, while coach Rafa Benitez is not yet on board.

Coutinho became Barca’s club-record signing four years ago but has struggled to make a mark at Camp Nou. He was given a second chance under Ronald Koeman following a loan spell with Bayern Munich but has once again fallen down the pecking order under new coach Xavi Hernandez.

Barca are ready to facilitate a loan deal as they need to move players on to register new signing Ferran Torres and any other potential January arrivals and Coutinho, as the club’s biggest earner, is one player they’re seeking a new home for.

Coutinho himself has previously been reluctant to leave but with the World Cup around the corner he wants to ensure he does not miss out on the Brazil squad for the finals in Qatar.

James Rodriguez Joins Qatari Side Al Rayyan

James Rodriguez is headed to the Middle East…

The 30-year-old Colombian professional footballer and Everton midfielder has joined Qatari side Al Rayyan for an undisclosed fee, both clubs have confirmed.

James Rodríguez

Sources previously told ESPN that Rodriguez was discussing a move with the Qatari club after Everton gave him permission to leave Goodison Park. He was told by manager Rafa Benitez, who replaced Carlo Ancelotti this summer, that he was not in his plans.

The midfielder made an impressive start after he joined from Real Madrid in September 2020, scoring three goals in his first five games, but injury and loss of form saw his contribution diminish markedly in the second half of the season.

He made a total of 26 appearances in all competitions during his time at the club.

Rodriguez began his career at Colombian side Enviagado and later Argentine side Banfield before enjoying spells at FC PortoAS MonacoMadrid and Bayern Munich.

He said in April that he only joined Everton so he could be reunited with Ancelotti, who had signed him for Madrid in 2014 and Bayern in 2017.

Everton had the option of extending his contract at the end of the season if he were to make enough first team appearances, but sources told ESPN that the club were keen to move his £10 million-a-year salary off the club’s wage bill.

His last appearance for the Premier League side came in a 1-0 defeat at home to Sheffield United in May.

Rodriguez has 80 international caps for Colombia, scoring 23 goals, and played in two World Cup tournaments, notably winning the Golden Boot at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

Mikel Oyarzabal & His Spanish Teammate Claim Men’s Soccer Silver at the Tokyo Games

2020 Tokyo Games

There’s a silver lining for Mikel Oyarzabal.

The 24-year-old Spanish footballer leveled the score in the men’s gold medal match between Spain and Brazil, 1-1, at the 2020 Tokyo Games, but La Roja ultimately had to settle for silver.

Mikel Oyarzabal

Coach Luis de la Fuente’s team went into the game undefeated in the competition, although they went to extra time in both their quarterfinal and semifinal ties.

Brazil had Everton’s Richarlison to call upon, the competition’s top scorer with five goals, as well as Dani Alves, who – at 38 – was looking to win the 44th title of his storied career.

Mikel Oyarzabal

Brazil had an excellent chance to take the lead early when they earned a penalty kick after Unai Simon clattered Matheus Cunha. Richarlison stepped up to the plate, but blazed his effort high and wide. The selecao got their breakthrough soon after, however, with Cunha finishing superbly after Alves teed him up artfully, before Mikel Oyarzabal, assisted by Carlos Soler, got Spain back on level terms with an absolutely stunning volley to force extra time.

https://twitter.com/JDNalton/status/1423990829908172802

 

Malcolm emerged as the hero for Brazil, though, as he raced free and slotted home past the heroic Unai Simon to clinch the gold medal for the South American nation.

Brazil would edge past Spain 2-1 to win its second-straight Olympic title.

They also become just the fifth team in Olympics history to win consecutive titles in men’s soccer.

Spain Soccer Team Mikel Oyarzabal

It’s the third silver for Spain after being the runner-up at the 1920 Antwerp Games and the 2000 Sydney Games.

Spain’s lone Olympic gold came at the 1992 Barcelona Games.

Lionel Messi Helps Lead Argentina into Copa America Final Against Brazil

Lionel Messi is celebrating a big win…

The 34-year-old Argentine professional footballer, currently a free agent after his Barcelona contract expired, helped lead Argentina to victory, as his team beat Colombia on penalties on Tuesday to set up a Copa America final against Brazil.

Lionel Messi

Argentina won 3-2 following a 1-1 draw in normal time in Brasilia.

Messi continued his special tournament by assisting a 7th-minute Lautaro Martinez goal, but an off-balance Luis Diaz restored level terms in the second half.

Aston Villa goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez and former Arsenal man David Ospina took center stage for penalties, where Messi smashed his home past Ospina.

Martinez then saved penalties from Spurs’ Davinson Sanchez, Everton’s Yerry Mina, and Boca JuniorsEdwin Cardona to lead Argentina

https://twitter.com/FOXSoccer/status/1412579522252349443

Rafael Benitez Named New Manager of Everton

Rafael Benitez is taking on a new role…

The 61-year-old Spanish professional football manager and former player, a former Liverpool boss, has been appointed as new manager of Merseyside rivals Everton.

Rafael Benitez

Benitez has put pen to paper on a three-year deal with the Premier League club and replaces Carlo Ancelotti, who made a shock return to Real Madrid on June 1.

Earlier this month, Benitez was in talks to take charge at Goodison Park but faced competition from Roberto Martinez, Eddie Howe and Nuno Espirito Santo for the vacant position, according to ESPN.

“You can see the ambition is there,” Benitez told Everton TV. “This club is growing.

“For me, it is about bringing the winning mentality, being competitive, so everything is in place on the pitch and off the pitch. I love the passion of the people behind the club. I know the city, I know Scousers, I know what it means for every fan here to compete and to have the chance to win.

“To come to Everton is something that means a lot, for sure. You can see the ambition of the owner, of the board, everybody wants to be better and to go to the new stadium with a massive boost. I like to compete. I like to win. I came from the academy at Real Madrid [as a young player and coach], and the winning mentality is already there.

“We [Benitez and the coaching staff] have won 13 titles because we have this mentality and I still want to win. And I have come to Everton because I liked the idea to be competitive again — and to have the chance to compete in every game, to compete against anyone.”

Everton’s majority shareholder, Farhad Moshiri, added: “Rafa impressed us greatly with his knowledge and experience but, above all, the passion and hunger he showed to join our club. We are appointing Rafa because we believe he will bring success to our Club and to Evertonians.

“To put it simply — we need to be competing at the top end of the league and to be winning trophies. Rafa is a proven winner with huge experience in coaching internationally and we have secured the best man to achieve that for us.”

The appointment is a controversial one, as Benitez spent six years at Anfield, winning the Champions LeagueFA Cup and UEFA Super Cup during his spell.

During his time at Liverpool, Benitez described Everton as a “small club,” but he has since claimed that his remarks were misinterpreted.

It is not the first time Benitez’s appointment has caused controversy after he temporarily took charge of Liverpool’s rivals Chelsea in 2012.

The Spaniard has been out of work since leaving Chinese team Dalian Professional in January.

Benitez has an impressive track record of winning trophies during his managerial career after leading Valencia to two La Liga titles and a UEFA Super Cup.

He also won the FIFA Club World Cup with Inter Milan, the Coppa Italia with Napoli and the Europa League at Chelsea. Benitez has also managed Real Madrid and Newcastle United.

Everton will be hopeful Benitez can help the club lift their first major trophy since 1995.

James Rodriguez Leaving Real Madrid for Everton FC

James Rodriguez is officially headed to the England…

The 29-year-old Colombian soccer player has joined Everton FC from Real Madrid, the Premier League club has announced.

James Rodriguez

The clubs have agreed a €25 million fee, according to ESPN. The deal will officially be for two years with an option for a third.

This is the third time Rodriguez has linked up with coach Carlo Ancelotti, having worked together at Real Madrid during the 2014-15 season and Bayern Munich in the 2017-18 season.

“I am really, really happy to be at this great club, a club with so much history, and here with a manager who knows me really well,” James told the Everton’s website.

“I’m looking forward to achieving great things here — and winning things, which is what everyone’s aim is. I’ve come here to try to improve, to get better. I’ve also come here to help the team to win, to play good football — entertaining football.”

Ancelotti’s presence at Goodison Park is understood to have been critical in getting a deal done.

“James… is a fantastic player with a lot of quality and a lot of ability to make assists for the strikers,” Ancelotti said.

“He was really excited to sign and I didn’t spend time to convince him — he was already convinced.”

Rodriguez is Everton’s second major signing in the close-season following the arrival of Brazilian midfielder Allan from Napoli.

Everton finished 12th last term and begin their new Premier League campaign with a trip to Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday.

Rodriguez was desperate to leave the Bernabeu this summer to restart his career after a disappointing final season in La Liga.

James had been given permission by Real Madrid to skip preseason training last week as the move was being finalized.

The playmaker signed with Real Madrid from AS Monaco for €80m in 2014 after excelling at the World Cup.

Everton F.C. Signs Allan from S.S.C. Napoli

Allan is headed to England…

The 29-year-old Brazilian soccer player, whose full name is Allan Marques Loureiro, has been signed by Everton F.C. from Italian side S.S.C. Napoli on a three-year deal, the Premier League club announced on Saturday.

Allan

It’s reported Everton paid around £25 million to Napoli for the midfielder.

Allan scored 11 goals and grabbed 16 assists in more than 200 appearances for Napoli across all competitions, and helped them claim the Coppa Italia last season.

“It is a real pleasure to sign for Everton. I am immensely happy to be here,” Allan said in a club statement.

“I hope, like I have done in my entire career, I contribute with my performances together with my teammates and that I put in some great games, great performances and win important things.”

Capped nine times by Brazil, Allan was part of the squad that won the Copa America in 2019.

At Everton, he’ll be reunited with manager Carlo Ancelotti, having previously played under the 61-year-old for two seasons while the Italian was in charge of Napoli.

“It is a club with a rich history in the Premier League, has real ambition and then there is Professor Ancelotti. He has done everything possible to bring me here,” Allan said.

“It is the size of the club and the name of the coach, which means you don’t think twice about coming to Everton.”

Everton have also been linked with Real Madrid midfielder James Rodriguez as Ancelotti aims to strengthen the Merseyside club’s midfield ahead of the new season.

Everton finished 12th last term and begin their new Premier League campaign with a trip to Tottenham Hotspur on September 13.

Arsenal Sign Gabriel from Lille

Gabriel Magalhaes has an arsenal behind him…

The 22-year-old Brazilian soccer player has been signed by Arsenal F.C. from Lille, the Premier League club has revealed.

Gabriel Magalhaes

ESPN reported last month that Gabriel, as he’s known, had agreed a deal that will cost Arsenal €30 million (£27m).

“So many fans were sending me messages asking me to join Arsenal, and that played a big part in me signing for this club,” Gabriel told Arsenal Digital.

“I know the history and traditions of this club and it is a pleasure being here. I am very happy and hope I can contribute to many titles with the Arsenal shirt.

“It was a very surreal experience, there were offers coming from a few different clubs.

“I spoke a lot with my family and my agents, I also spoke with some of Lille’s directors, but as I said, this club’s history and traditions and the team project for the next few years were very motivational for my decision to come here.

Manchester UnitedEverton and Napoli were all reported to be interested in the Brazil under-20 international, who has helped the French side secure Champions League football for the last two seasons.

“We welcome Gabriel to Arsenal. He has many qualities which will make us stronger as a defensive unit and as a team,” said Arsenal head coach Mikel Arteta. “He has proved with Lille that he is a defender with many outstanding attributes and we are looking forward to watching him grow as an Arsenal player.”