BREAKING: John Mikel Obi retires from football after 20 years of professional career

Former Chelsea and Super Eagles Midfielder, John Mikel Obi has retired from football after 20 years of professional career.

On 27 September 2022, the former Nigeria National team captain took to his Instagram account to announce his retirement from professional football.
Mikel John Obi, born on 22 April 1987, is a Nigerian professional footballer who formally played as a defensive midfielder.

Mikel began his career with local club Plateau United, before joining Norwegian club Lyn at the age of 17 in 2004.
In 2006, he made a controversial transfer to English club Chelsea after Manchester United claimed they had already signed him.

He stayed with Chelsea for 11 years, before moving to China with Tianjin TEDA in 2017. After two years in China, he returned to England on a short-term deal with Middlesbrough, before joining Trabzonspor on a free transfer in July 2019.
Mikel moved back to England in August 2020 joining Stoke City. In a 14-year international career between 2005 and 2019, he played 91 times for Nigeria, scoring six goals.
John Obi wrote on his Instagram account:

“There is a saying that “all good things must come to an end”, and for my professional football career, that day is today.
“I look back at the past 20 years of my career, and I must say that I am very satisfied with all that I was able to achieve and more importantly the human it has helped shape, he continued

“All of this would not have been possible without the unwavering support of my family, managers, clubs, coaches, teammates and most importantly my ever-loyal fans.

he added “You supported me through my highs and lows, even on days that I did not live up to your expectations. I say a big thank you.
“I will also like to encourage everyone who I may have inspired one way or the other in the course of my career to never give up on their dreams, for every time you think about quitting, remind yourself why you started.
“This is not goodbye, it’s the start of another journey, another chapter of my life. I look forward to what the future holds and I hope you will walk with me. Thank you.”

Netherlands 1-0 Belgium: Van Dijk header Sends Oranje through to the UEFA Nations League Finals

The Netherlands booked their place in the UEFA Nations League Finals which will hold next year, after defeating the Red Devils of Belgium 1-0 in their last group match on Sunday night.

Following a goalless first half, Liverpool defender Virgil van Dijk found the breakthrough when he converted Cody Gakpo’s cross to give Louis van Gaal’s side the lead and ultimately the three points.

The victory sees the Netherlands finish on top of the group with 16 points, while Belgium retains their spot in League A ahead of the next edition of the UEFA Nations League.

Tonight, Apex Football brings you LIVE updates from the fixture involving the Netherlands and Belgium set to take place at the Johan Cruyff Arena in Amsterdam – homeground of AFC Ajax Amsterdam.

🔴 Live Blog:


73′ MIN: Skipper Virgil van Dijk towers a header home, off an assist from Cody Gakpo to put the Oranje ahead.

GOOOAAALLL!!! Netherlands 1-0 Belgium (V. Van Dijk)




The Red Devils have in their starting line-up the likes of Thibaut Courtois, Axel Witsel, Kevin de Bruyne and Eden Hazard.

Oranje boss Louis van Gaal has named in-form attacker Steven Bergwijn in his line-up. Liverpool defender Virgil van Dijk is part of a three-man backline, with Daley Blind and Denzel Dumfries acting as fullbacks.

Italy 1-0 England: Raspadori Screamer Condemns Three Lions to Defeat

The Azurri of Italy continued their recent dominance of England, as they triumphed 1-0 in their UEFA Nations League clash on Friday night.

There was nothing worthy to note in the opening period which ended goalless, but the second half saw the hosts put their noses in front through a sublime effort from Raspadori in the 68th minute.

Gareth Southgate’s men poured forward in search of the equalizer but the Azzurri held firm to cart away with all three points.

🔴 Live Blog:

FULL-TIME: Italy 1-0 England

68′ MIN: A lobbed ball from Leonardo Bonucci finds Raspadori, who in turn fends off a challenge from an England defender to fire home.

GOOOAAALLL!!! Italy 1-0 England (G. Raspadori)


HALF-TIME: Italy 0-0 England

KICK-OFF: Italy 0-0 England

Under-fire Manchester United skipper Harry Maguire has been handed a starting berth by manager Gareth Southgate. Captain Harry Kane will get support upfront from Phil Foden and Raheem Sterling while Bukayo Saka starts as well.

Italy coach Roberto Mancini has named Nico Barella, Brian Cristante and Jorginho in his line-up to face the Three Lions. Gianluca Scamacca will lead the attack lines for the Azzurri.

Cristiano Ronaldo CHARGED by FA following phone incident at Everton

The Football Association have charged Portugal and Manchester United superstar Cristiano Ronaldo with “improper and/or violent” conduct, after a video footage emerged appearing to show him knocking a fan’s mobile phone to the ground.

The incident happened after Manchester United lost 1-0 away to Everton defeat at Goodison Park on 9th April, after which the Portuguese international was cautioned by Merseyside Police but now the Football Association has decided to probe the incident.

A spokesperson revealed on Twitter: “Cristiano Ronaldo has been charged with a breach of FA Rule E3…It is alleged that the forward’s conduct after the final whistle was improper and/or violent.”

After the incident, which occurred when Ronaldo was making his way towards the tunnel, the 37-year-old issued a social-media apology for his “outburst” and invited the supporter to watch a game at Old Trafford “as a sign of fair play and sportsmanship”.

Ronaldo took to his Instagram account after the match to apologize. He wrote: “It’s never easy to deal with emotions in difficult moments such as the one we are facing. Nevertheless, we always have to be respectful, patient and set the example for all the youngsters who love the beautiful game.

“I would like to apologise for my outburst and, if possible, I would like to invite this supporter to watch a game at Old Trafford as a sign of fair-play and sportsmanship.”

But the boy’s mother Sarah Kelly claimed it was her 14-year-old son Jake – who has autism – who Ronaldo “assaulted” and declined the offer.

In response to the FA charge against Ronaldo, who has started just once under Erik Ten Hag in the Premier League this season, United said in a statement: “We will be supporting the player.”

Jose Mourinho makes cameo in Stormzy music video with iconic quote

Jose Mourinho has a made a surprise special appearance in Stormzy’s latest music video. The ‘Special One’, currently managing Serie A side Roma, features in the grime superstar’s video for the song Mel Made Me Do It.

The ten minute video dropped onto YouTube on Thursday evening and fans got a shock to see the former Chelsea, Manchester United and Tottenham boss.

Mourinho appears as Stormzy says the line: “I prefer not to speak like I’m Jose.”

The legendary manager’s iconic quote – made at the end of a defeat when in charge of Chelsea in 2014 – then plays: “I prefer really not to speak. If I speak I’m in big trouble.”

Mourinho posted on Instagram about his shock appearance in the music video.

Alongside a picture of him and Stormzy, he said: “Was great fun doing this cameo for Stormzy’s new music video out today. I had a great time.”

Stormzy is a huge fan of Manchester United, where Mourinho spent two years in the dugout and won the League Cup and Europa League.

Mourinho is not the only celebrity to feature in the epic video for the song – the first Stormzy has released in nearly three years.

Usain Bolt, Dina Asher-Smith and Ian Wright have cameos, while TV stars Jonathan Ross and Louis Theroux also feature alongside numerous musicians.

Stormzy also namechecks Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Kylian Mbappe and Dillian Whyte in the song and ex-Fulham boss Scott Parker even gets a mention.

Even though he supports United, Stormzy is friends with Man City star Jack Grealish. Back in 2021, he brought the £100million man out on stage with him at Leeds festival.

Gareth Southgate isn’t picking Harry Maguire for England on reputation, he’s picking him on trust

There will be a mixed response to news of Harry Maguire’s inclusion in England’s starting line-up against Italy this evening. Some will rage, some will laugh, some will sneer and, away from the mob, some will simply question whether Gareth Southgate is right to pick a player who has been in such poor form lately.

It makes perfect sense, though. With less than two months to go before the World Cup, a Nations League match against the European champions at San Siro represents the type of examination Maguire badly needs. The big question is whether he is ready for it.

Maguire has played just 11 minutes of Premier League football, as a late substitute for the injured Lisandro Martinez against Arsenal, since being dropped after United’s calamitous 4-0 defeat by Brentford on August 13. And it has escaped nobody’s notice that United’s defending has tightened up considerably since Erik ten Hag dropped the club captain.

“Clearly it’s not an ideal situation,” Southgate said at last night’s pre-match news conference when asked about the lack of football played so far this season by Maguire, Luke ShawBen Chilwell and others. “We’re only a few weeks on from pre-season, so physically, if they’ve had a few 90 minutes, that’s fine. Another seven to eight weeks, that does become more complicated.”

“But (Maguire) is an important player for us and it’s important to back our best players. Whatever reputation I have, I’m putting it on there.”

It was a brave statement. Soon after taking over as England manager in 2016, Southgate said he would “never pick on reputation”. He felt he had seen several of his predecessors do that — not least during his own playing career — and was determined to select his teams on merit.

There is always a danger in taking that kind of statement too literally. Form is a nebulous concept. So is reputation and so is merit. In Southgate’s mind, Maguire’s performances for England over the past five years merit trust.

Whether at club or international level, coaches have to weigh up all of these factors and others, such as physical condition, confidence, experience, know-how and of course the opposition and the tactical plan. Picking a team on reputation alone would be a nonsense. So would picking a team entirely on form.

Southgate’s success as England manager — and, yes, leading an underachieving nation to a World Cup semi-final and a European Championship final should be considered a success when you consider the team’s undistinguished record over the previous five decades — has been based on a strong, resilient defence.

Maguire has been integral to that. Along with John Stones, who has also faced regular calls to be dropped after falling out of form and favour at club level, the former Leicester defender has been a mainstay of this England team. While the chemistry in midfield has been a persistent concern, the centre of defence, generally speaking, has not.

“He is our most dominant aerial centre-back,” Southgate said of Maguire. “He and John are incredible with the ball — the amount of pressure they have taken for the team in tournaments because we don’t always have that midfield pivot player who can progress the game. It means there’s a huge amount more pressure on our centre-backs to use the ball well and those two are as good as any in world football at doing that.”

As Southgate points out, we are not just talking about humdrum qualifying matches. We are talking about performing under severe pressure against a range of opponents in two major tournaments.

At the 2018 World Cup, Maguire was a revelation, surprising those of us who were sure he would be a weak link. At the Euros, particularly against GermanyUkraineDenmark and Italy in the knockout stage, he performed superbly, barely putting a foot wrong. The UEFA technical committee named him alongside Leonardo Bonucci in their team of the tournament.

Maguire celebrates scoring against Ukraine in the quarter-final of Euro 2020 (Photo: Getty)

You could count Maguire’s poor performances for England on the fingers of one hand. Clearly the same is not true of his United career, but he was still one of their better performers in his first two seasons at Old Trafford; no, he didn’t look like the next Rio Ferdinand or Nemanja Vidic or indeed much like a United captain, but he performed more competently and consistently than most in a team that was improving while still lacking a clear tactical identity.

Maguire’s form for United collapsed last season, but he was far from alone in that regard. In a team that lost its way entirely, the £80million ($89.5m) man was inevitably among a handful of players who bore the brunt of the criticism. Making mistakes and struggling to impose any kind of leadership over a disconnected group of players, he became the butt of derision, a one-man meme. Funnily enough, that never seems to do wonders for a player’s confidence.

It was interesting to read Giorgio Chiellini’s thoughts when he was asked about Maguire in an interview with The Times this week. “I am sad for Maguire’s situation because he’s a good player,” the Los Angeles FC and former Italy defender said. “They require too much of him. Just because they (United) paid £80million for him, he has to be the best in the world every match? It’s not right. The value of the market is dependent on many aspects you can’t control. It’s not your fault.”

Of course, nobody was expecting Maguire to be “the best in the world every match”, but there is some truth in what Chiellini said. Even during Maguire’s first two seasons at United, there was a tendency to judge him negatively in the context of his transfer fee — particularly in comparison with Liverpool’s Virgil van Dijk or Manchester City’s Ruben Dias

“Him and Stones are a good duo,” Chiellini added. “OK, maybe Maguire is not Rio Ferdinand, but he’s good enough.”

Harry Maguire, MancehsteMaguire has endured a tough season so far with United (Photo: Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)

To this point, Maguire’s performances for England have reflected that. As last season went on, Southgate took the opportunity to look at Conor CoadyTyrone MingsBen WhiteMarc Guehi and Fikayo Tomori, planning for the future, but Maguire has remained central to his plans for the World Cup.

Maybe it would be different if Southgate wanted to play much higher up the field, the way Erik ten Hag intends to at United. But the way England play has suited Maguire — and vice-versa. 

Maybe it would suit others, too. Not just Guehi or Tomori, but perhaps Wolverhampton Wanderers defender Maximilian Kilman, Arsenal’s Ben White or Everton’s James Tarkowski, all of whom have started the season well.

But Wolves head coach Bruno Lage had it right when he was asked recently about Kilman’s England prospects. “Max needs to remember that managers always want to choose the guys that we trust,” Lage said. “I need to choose the best XI and the England manager needs to choose the best XI and the people he trusts.”

The word “trust” is important. Southgate isn’t picking Maguire on reputation. He’s picking a player based on trust that has been built up over five years. It’s loyalty, but it’s not blind loyalty. 

Quite clearly that loyalty is being tested by Maguire’s struggles at United, where he now faces a battle to win his place back from Martinez. But for a national team coach, there is a clear benefit in going with players and characters he knows and trusts — and who know the system — rather than being swayed too heavily by fortunes at club level.

Of course, performances at club level count for a lot, but we have had decades of seeing England managers flip-flop between one player and another, picking the flavour of the month, blown by the wind of popular opinion (and yes, at times standing steadfast against it) and going from one tournament to the next — sometimes even from one game to the next — without the slightest sense of continuity.

Southgate is different. There has been stability to his England in terms of ideas, personnel and tactical structure.

Maguire is one of those who have represented that continuity since he made his debut just under five years ago. If we are talking about reputations, you could argue Maguire’s has been built more on his performances for England than for Leicester or United. 

As such, he is a curiosity in English football, a player whose best performances have come not in the Premier League or Champions League, but on the international stage.

That is why Southgate finds himself willing to stake his reputation on Maguire. Because his belief in the player is not based on reputation, name or status. It’s based on performances in an England shirt. For as long as that remains the case, Plan A will remain unchanged. But it will be put to the test in Milan this evening.


Headlines today: Four Barca players suffered injury problems on the same day; Giroud becomes the oldest player to score for France

All the top stories and transfer rumours from Friday’s national newspapers…

Four Barca players suffered injury problems on the same day with the national team

The UEFA Nations League tournament saw some good and bad news for the national teams, but the club most unhappy was likely Barcelona.

In the Netherlands’ 2-0 away defeat to Poland, Francky De Jong and Depay were both replaced because of injuries to their thigh muscles, both players from Barcelona.

On the other hand, in France’s 2-0 home win over Austria, Kounde was substituted with an injury after playing only half of the first half, while Dembele, who came on late in the game, was also reported to be in pain by Bayern Sports reporter Ben Ayad.

Thus, today alone, four Barça players suffered injuries in the UEFA Nations League matches.

Manchester United’s wage bill surpasses Man City’s to set all-time Premier League record

Manchester United announced their financial results for the last financial year yesterday and their wage bill reached a Premier League record of 384.2 million pounds.

The Mail said United’s £384.2 million wage bill in the last financial year gave them the highest ever in the Premier League, up £61.6 million or 19.1% on the previous year, breaking the previous record of £354.6 million held by Manchester City.

Manchester United paid Juventus £13.5 million to bring in Cairo last summer, and they also paid £77 million and £36 million to sign Sancho and Varane respectively, with Cairo earning £500,000 a week and Sancho and Varane both earning £350,000 a week.

In addition, Manchester United’s net loss in the last fiscal year was £115.5 million and net debt rose to £514.9 million, while total revenue was £583.2 million.

Qatar will be flexible in law enforcement during the World Cup, drunkenness, bare shoulders, etc. will not be imprisoned

According to British media, the Telegraph reported that the Qatari government will relax restrictions on alcohol consumption during the World Cup, so fans no longer have to worry about being jailed by police for drinking too much.

As an Islamic country, Qatar has relatively strict legal restrictions on alcohol and gender issues. Under local law, homosexuality and sex outside of marriage are considered illegal, and public intoxication can be punished by up to six months in jail. In addition, in terms of dress and style, such as public displays of affection, revealing clothing and other situations can also be arrested.

However, according to officials inside the Qatar World Cup, the Telegraph has learned that local laws on alcohol consumption will be relaxed during the upcoming World Cup and that vendors will be allowed to sell beer outside World Cup venues.

In addition, the organizers have informed local police in Qatar that they want them to be flexible in enforcing the law during the World Cup. An insider said: “Some minor violations will not attract fines or imprisonment, but the police will first come to the person concerned to verbally ask him to comply with the appropriate regulations. If someone takes off his shirt in public, the police will come and ask him to put it back on, there is a tolerable space.”

But the report also mentions that if there are fireworks or fights at the venue that could cause harm to others, regardless of the outcome, the person could be fined and disqualified from watching the World Cup in Qatar.

Giroud becomes the oldest goalscorer in France’s history

Giroud scored the second goal for France in the 2-0 home win over Austria in the 5th round of the UEFA Nations League.

Data from the well-known statistics agency Opta said that Giroud, who was 35 years and 357 days old on the day of the goal, became the oldest goal scorer in the history of the French team.

The previous holder of the record was Roger Marche, who was 35 years and 287 days old when he scored against Spain in December 1959.

Barcelona dreams of signing back Lionel Messi next year, the player will make a decision after the World Cup

Barcelona is still eager to sign back Lionel Messi, but the conclusion still needs to wait.

Romano said that Barcelona is very keen to return Messi next summer, Messi himself will make a decision after the World Cup in Qatar this year.

Messi’s contract with Paris will expire next summer, but previous reports have pointed out that the contract has a one-year extension option.

Wanda announces separation from Icardi: it is painful, but I will not make any explanation

Icardi’s wife Wanda Nara confirmed in a post on social media that the two of them are now in a state of separation.

Icardi moved to Galatasaray from Paris Saint-Germain on loan this summer and now after months of marriage rumors with Wanda, their love story looks to be over.

In a post via social media, Wanda wrote: “Nowadays moments like this are very painful for me, but considering all the attention I have received and all the rumors that have appeared in the media, I prefer to be the one to tell you.”

“I have nothing to clarify, and I will not explain this separation. I ask for some understanding from you, not just for my own sake, but more importantly, with our children in mind.”

France 2-0 Austria

France hosted Austria in the 5th round of UEFA Europa League A. The referee of the match was Ekberg. In the first half, Kounde retired with injury, Tchouameni hit the frame with a wonderful reverse hook, Griezmann’s close range shot was blocked and Mbappe’s long range shot was confiscated by the goalkeeper. In the second half, Mbappe broke the deadlock, and Griezmann assisted Giroud to break the goal with a header, finally, France 2-0 Austria.

Netherlands 2-0 Poland

Poland hosted the Netherlands in the 5th round of UEFA Europa League A. Alejandro was the referee on duty for this match. Shortly after the first half, Dumfries assisted Gakpo to score the first goal. In the second half, Depay was injured and couldn’t hold on and was replaced. Milik missed a good chance in front of goal after a cross from Frankowski. Janssen then assisted Bergwijn to seal the win. Lewandowski was average in the whole match. The match ended with Netherlands beating Poland 2-0 away from home.

Belgium 2-1 Wales

Belgium faced Wales at the King Baudouin Stadium in Brussels in the 5th round of UEFA Europa League Group D. The referee for the match was Parabijk. In the first half, De Bruyne and Batshuayi exchanged passes. In the second half, Moore’s header gave Wales an equalizer; Belgium manager Roberto Martinez was sent off with a red card late in the game. Finally, Belgium defeated Wales 2-1 at home.

Croatia 2-1 Denmark

Croatia faced Denmark in the 5th round of UEFA Europa League Group A at the Maximeil Stadium in Zagreb, with Massa as the referee. In the first half, Gwadiore’s header missed the target and Eriksen’s heavy shot made a danger. In the second half, Sosa broke the deadlock with a shot, Eriksen equalized with a shot, and then Majerle came on as a substitute and scored the winner. In the end, Croatia beat Denmark 2-1 at home to achieve a double victory and move to the top of Group A of the UEFA Europa League.


Thomas Tuchel has been left in post-Brexit visa limbo over his ability to remain in the United Kingdom following his sacking by Chelsea.

Elliot Anderson could soon swap international allegiance from Scotland to England after his rapid rise at Newcastle United.

Greg Norman has been accused by US lawmakers of “pimping a billion dollars of Saudi Arabian money” and of spreading “propaganda”.


The captains of England – and a host of other nations – could be banned from wearing their OneLove armbands at the World Cup.

Mansfield have brought their League Two fixture against Walsall on Saturday October 15 forward from 3pm to 1pm in a bid to tackle soaring energy prices in the UK.

UEFA are set to abandon plans to expand the European Championship to 32 teams in time for the 2028 competition, which is on course to be held in the United Kingdom and Ireland.

Arsenal duo Oleksandr Zinchenko and Martin Odegaard should be fit for the North London Derby next weekend.


The net is closing fast on two Gallagher Premiership clubs with Worcester Warriors resigned to being suspended from the league, as Wasps need to find £2m in 20 days.


There is a huge scramble among agents to sign up Arsenal record-breaker Ethan Nwaneri.

The signing of Lionel Messi has generated Paris Saint-Germain an extra €700m (£612m) in income due to commercial deals.

Former Barcelona boss Ronald Koeman has claimed he was blocked from signing ex-Liverpool star Georginio Wijnaldum.

Gerard Pique had a special clause in his Barcelona contract to ensure that he earned more money than Sergio Ramos.


Manchester United’s football director John Murtough insists the level of spending seen this summer will not be repeated by the club after the wage bill hit record levels.


Everton and Scotland are waiting to discover the extent of Nathan Patterson’s injury after the defender was carried off on a stretcher while on international duty.

US Soccer is seeking to join the UEFA Working Group in supporting compensation for workers at the Qatar World Cup.

France 2-0 Austria: Mbappe & Giroud efforts EARN Les Blues Crucial Nations League Victory

Defending UEFA Nations League champions France got their campaign back on track, following a 2-0 win over visiting Austria on Thursday.

The first half offered nothing in terms of goals, as both sides went into the break all square but the hosts showed quality in the second period – with strikes from Kylian Mbappe and Olivier Giroud securing all three points for Didier Deschamps men.

🔴 Live Blog:

FULL-TIME: France 2-0 Austria

65′ MIN: Les Blues are in a commanding position now, having doubled their advantage through Olivier Giroud off an assist from Antoine Griezmann.

GOOOAAALLL!!! France 2-0 Austria (O. Giroud)

56′ MIN: The hosts have opened the scoring and it’s from none other than Kylian Mbappe.

GOOOAAALLL!!! France 1-0 Austria (K. Mbappe)

SECOND HALF UNDERWAY: France 0-0 Austria

HALF-TIME: France 0-0 Austria

KICK-OFF: France 0-0 Austria

Real Madrid defender David Alaba and former West Ham United attacker Marko Arnautovic are among the familiar names in the Austrian starting line-up.

France manager Didier Deschamps has fielded a strong three-man attack which includes the likes of Kylian Mbappe, Olivier Giroud and Antoine Griezmann. Aurelien Tchouameni and Ferland Mendy are in midfield while Jules Kounde and Raphael Varane will man the defence.

L’Affaire Pogba: A shattered family unit, alleged extortion, injuries and a year to forget

The animated opening sequence to episode five of his documentary series, The Pogmentary, depicts Paul Pogba reflecting upon all he has achieved in his life. The cartoon has him striding up a staircase and, once on the top step, flinging open heavy double doors embossed with the World Cup trophy and images of his children. Through the golden frame, he spies the summits of mountains he has yet to scale as his career enters his next phase.

He sprints forward, parting the clouds as he goes, and joyfully leaps over a chasm to be greeted by his family. There waits his wife, Zulay, with the couple’s two boys, the youngest clad in a onesie and the other clasping a football. His mother, Yeo Moriba, stands behind Zulay with Pogba’s twin older brothers Mathias and Florentin, Guinea internationals both, glowing with pride at her shoulder.

“No matter the challenge, my family will always be there,” narrates the France midfielder. “This family that I created, (and) the one that watched me grow up. This year I’ll need them.”

PogbaFrom left: Yeo Moriba with her sons Mathias, Florentin and Paul Pogba in 2019 (Photo: Guillaume Souvant/AFP via Getty Images)

Pogba is referring to the 2021-22 season ahead, the last to be covered by his existing contract at Manchester United. Rumours of interest from Real Madrid and Juventus were swirling at the time the documentary was filmed, while United continued to imply they had not given up hope of convincing the Frenchman to stay.

And yet, while the player experienced plenty of frustrations over that last season at Old Trafford, he has been confronted by far more daunting challenges over the calendar year of 2022. This has been his annus horribilis, one wrecked on the pitch by injuries which have frustrated attempts to revive his reputation at new club Juventus and threaten his ability to help France defend their World Cup title when the tournament in Qatar begins in November.

Off the field, he has endured far worse.

While he played in a Champions League tie against Atletico Madrid in March, his home in Manchester was burgled while his children slept upstairs. A month later, he lost his agent, friend and sounding board, Mino Raiola.

In between those incidents, and out of the public eye until exposed five months later, Pogba claims he had been subjected to yet more trauma. On international duty in Paris, he says he was driven to an apartment in Chanteloup-en-Brie, a suburb to the east of the capital, by people he considered childhood friends. There he says he was held at gunpoint by two strangers and allegedly blackmailed over accusations he had paid a marabout — technically a Muslim holy man, but with connotations of a north African witch doctor — to curse his international team-mate Kylian Mbappe, suggestions he denies.

The threats have allegedly pursued him from Paris to Manchester to Turin in the months since, and it emerged last week that the Juventus player has been living recently under police protection. Now, perhaps most unsettling of all given how tight he once considered his family unit, Pogba has seen his brother, Mathias, among five people arrested over the alleged extortion attempt.

The Pogmentary was supposed to offer a snapshot of life as one of the more high-profile footballers on the planet, providing an insight into the trials and tribulations that have helped forge the man, but it has been made to look rather tame given everything that has played out in reality since the release of Season One.

The sinister plot lines of L’Affaire Pogba, being played out daily in France at present, increasingly appear too outlandish for words.

The injuries feel the most conventional aspect of Pogba’s traumatic year.

His final season at United was blighted by a torn thigh muscle. The three-month hiatus over the winter while he undertook his rehabilitation in Dubai encompassed the tail-end of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s tenure and the early toils suffered by Ralf Rangnick at Old Trafford.

He played 16 games for club and country once recovered, only to succumb to a calf problem sustained in the 4-0 defeat by Liverpool in mid-April. That nine-minute appearance at Anfield represents his last competitive action.

PogbaPogba trudges off at Anfield on April 19 (Photo: Andrew Powell/Liverpool FC via Getty Images)

The summer’s free transfer return to Juventus, with whom he won four successive Serie A titles between 2013 and 2016, was supposed to represent a fresh start, only for the midfielder to tear the meniscus in his right knee during pre-season training in Los Angeles.

Pogba initially opted against surgery, hoping a more conservative approach might see him return well in advance of the announcement of France’s squad for the World Cup around November 9. Then, on his second individual session working outside back at his club, he complained of discomfort and the original strategy was out of the window.

He went under the knife earlier this month with, optimistically, an eight-week recovery period ahead. Juventus do not expect to have him available before the new year even if France have not yet given up hope entirely that he will be fit for the tournament. “I know Paul well and he will do everything he can to recover as soon as possible and be with us in November,” said the national coach, Didier Deschamps. “But time is short and he will only join us if he is fit and competitive.”

There may be a Pogba-shaped hole in France’s midfield this month, starting in Thursday’s Nations League tie against Austria, but there will clearly be no free pass back into their line-up at the World Cup.

In normal circumstances, the possibility of being denied involvement in the tournament would constitute reason enough to lower Pogba’s mood. In reality, it almost feels incidental; a subplot to the main crises.

The loss of Raiola, who had guided him since his youth-team days at United and had been such a significant influence on his career, would have been hugely unsettling. The Dutch-Italian agent, who had stepped back from everyday duties since being diagnosed with a serious illness in January, died in April at the age of 54.

The Brazilian lawyer Rafaela Pimenta, Raiola’s business partner for 20 years and a figure Pogba refers to as his “second Maman, la Maman de Business” in his documentary, has effectively taken on the agent’s client list and played a significant role in smoothing the player’s return to Turin. She is close to Pogba and his young family and continues to fight his corner.

But Raiola had always provided another layer of protection. Without him, the player inevitably appears more fragile. And, as the events of the last few months have demonstrated, he is under attack.

The outside world was initially oblivious to everything Pogba and his family had endured until it emerged in late August that criminal investigations were well underway in Italy and France into allegations of an extortion plot. There has been a remarkable drip-feed of information since, leaked to media in France by sources close to the case, casting light on an alarming series of alleged incidents dating back to mid-March. Some police sources have told outlets that the constant revelations risk damaging the case but, given Pogba’s vaulted status and the wild nature of some of the allegations, the flow of stories has hardly been stemmed.

Five men were charged last Saturday, after several days in custody, with involvement in a plot to extort money from the player and currently remain in detention awaiting trial. Four, aged between 27 and 36, were charged with “extortion with a weapon in an organized gang”, “arrest, kidnapping, confinement or detention in an organized gang with a view to preparing or facilitating the committing of a crime, followed by a voluntary release before the seventh day” and “participation in a criminal association for the preparation of a crime”. All deny all of the charges.

Mathias Pogba, 32, was charged with “extortion in an organized gang” and “participation in an association of criminals with intent to prepare a crime”. His lawyer, Yassine Bouzrou, has indicated his client contests the charges. Indeed, according to information sourced by the French newspaper Le Monde, all five of those indicted claim to have been the victims of pressure, threats and reprisals from a second circle of blackmailers.

PogbaThe Pogba brothers together in 2019 (Photo: Guillaume Souvant/AFP via Getty Images)

France’s Central Office for the Fight against Organized Crime (OCLCO) in Nanterre has called its investigation Operation Penalty. There have been suggestions the authorities hope to make further arrests. This process is ongoing.

Paul Pogba’s account of the events of the night of March 19, four days after the burglary at his home in Manchester, was submitted to officers from the OCLCO on August 9.

The midfielder had been back in Paris that March preparing for France’s friendlies against Ivory Coast and South Africa, in which he would earn his 90th and 91st caps, and had spent time that evening with a childhood friend, referred to as Boubacar C. in transcripts seen by Le Monde, on the Renardiere estate in Roissy-en-Brie, an eastern suburb of the capital close to where he grew up.

Pogba had intended to return to his hotel in the city centre but, at around midnight, the player reportedly told the OCLCO they were joined by three other acquaintances he recognised from his youth — Adama C. and the brothers Roushdane and Machikour K. — and, instead, driven to a flat in nearby Chanteloup-en-Brie. According to French news outlet Franceinfo, the apartment had been rented out in the name of one of the four, a figure whose permanent residence is in Dubai.

There, Pogba says he was forced to turn off and hand over his mobile telephone. Three of the four then left the flat before two hooded figures unknown to Pogba, both wearing bulletproof vests and brandishing assault rifles, were granted entry to the property.

In Pogba’s testimony to the investigation — details of his interview were initially reported by Franceinfo and subsequently backed up by transcripts seen by Le Monde — he claims Roushdane K. instructed him to pay €13million (£11.4m; $12.9m), including €3m in cash, to cover the alleged protection the two armed men had been discreetly providing from afar over his 13-year professional career.

The player was still digesting that demand when it is claimed the two new arrivals raised their weapons and warned him that, if he did not comply, they would disclose the reputationally damaging contents of a USB stick in their possession.

The memory device apparently contained evidence that Pogba had paid a marabout to cast a spell on his opponents as well as his France international team-mate, the Paris Saint-Germain striker Mbappe.

Pogba, MbappePogba and Mbappe at France’s training base in Clairefontaine in March (Photo: Franck Fife/AFP via Getty Images)

“I was scared,” Pogba reportedly told the investigation. “The two guys pointed their guns at me. Given I was being held like that at gunpoint, I told them I’d pay. They shouted: ‘Shut up, look down (at the floor)’. One of them spoke in Roushdane’s ear. When the two hooded guys left, Roushdane told me I had to pay otherwise we were all in danger.

“Roushdane said what had happened was normal when you are a famous footballer, but that I had to pay because he had vouched for me.” Pogba claimed he was not permitted to leave the premises until 4am.

The quartet’s own testimonies, submitted in their respective interviews with investigators and reported in the French media, pinpointed various occasions when they were submitted to threats and actual reprisals over the months that followed. According to information obtained by Le Parisien and backed up by Le Monde, Boubacar C. claimed he had been confronted by three hooded men. Mamadou M. had his car burned out. Roushdane K. was shot in the hand. His lawyer, Daphne Pugliesi, has insisted her client “says he himself is a victim” of a wider blackmail conspiracy.

They all deny the charges against them stemming from that night in mid-March.

In the days after his alleged ordeal, Pogba, perhaps unsurprisingly, said nothing to the outside world. His international team-mates remained oblivious to it all. He conducted media duties at the squad’s training base at Clairefontaine, including an interview with Le Figaro in which he spoke about the burglary he had suffered the previous week at his home in Manchester. There was no mention of the alleged incident in Chanteloup-en-Brie. Deschamps only became aware much later that there may have been issues.

But, behind the facade, Pogba was clearly fretting for his family’s safety.

There have been suggestions in Le Parisien that he did make one attempt to pay the money, only for his bank to block the hefty transaction after it was flagged as suspicious. According to Reuters, the player told the investigation that, at some point in the spring, he did make a payment of €100,000, but that was clearly inadequate as he still subsequently saw the alleged blackmailers in Manchester.

Following Pogba’s return to Juventus, it was said they visited him again, loitering at the gates of the club’s training ground for around six hours one day in mid-July. The Italian club’s security staff opted against calling the police largely because they recognised one of those at the entrance to be Mathias and actually found his presence reassuring.

Paul later confirmed to the investigators that he had identified his older brother, who had not been at the flat on the outskirts of Paris, among those waiting to speak with him outside the training complex. Unnerved, the World Cup winner alerted the club’s lawyers that same day.

On July 16, he filed his complaint in Italy and the first investigation was launched. The authorities in France duly followed suit on August 3.

Mathias Pogba was a journeyman footballer, a veteran of stints at 13 clubs in eight countries. Where his brother, Florentin, made a name for himself as a centre-half with Saint-Etienne and later had two years in the team at Sochaux, Mathias, a striker, flitted largely across the lower leagues from Scotland to Slovenia.

He played 66 times for Welsh club Wrexham in the fifth tier of the English domestic game and, slightly higher up the pyramid, 56 games for Crewe Alexandra. He scored on his first and last appearances for Crewe in League One.

PogbaFlorentin, Paul and Mathias Pogba at the MTV EMAs at Wembley in 2017 (Photo: Tristan Fewings/MTV EMAs 2017/Getty Images)

His career became increasingly nomadic, with brief stays at Manchego Ciudad Real, Lorca and Racing Murcia in Spain, and 13 minutes at Tabor Sezana in Slovenia, all since 2019. He was released by his last club, ASM Belfort, over the summer. The forward, like his twin Florentin, gained recognition with Guinea, the country of their birth, but, in truth, his career was unremarkable and rather fizzled out.

He and Paul, three years his junior, were always close. They had lived together in Manchester while Mathias played at Wrexham — “He was a good flat-mate, no problem,” the older brother told The Guardian — while Raiola played a small role in smoothing a subsequent move from Crewe to Pescara in Serie B back in 2014. “I don’t see him as ‘Paul Pogba’ like everyone else,” said Mathias. “For me, he’s my little brother. I’m fiercely proud of him.”

The twins were ensconced with the family group travelling around the team at the World Cup in 2018, revelling in the national side’s progress. They were regulars in the stands at the rescheduled Euro 2020 three years later. When Pogba scored a stunning goal in the quarter-final against Switzerland in Bucharest, he told his documentary: “I looked up to my right to find my brothers (in the crowd).”

Mathias, who has worked as a consultant for L’Equipe TV and made regular appearances on the Spanish football show El Chiringuito (who delighted in linking Paul with Real Madrid), was shown head in hands as his younger brother’s subsequent mistake presented the Swiss with their equaliser.

As late as March this year, their bond appeared to remain strong with all three brothers present for the launch event for the Golden Score association, a body founded by Mathias to support and advise athletes once their playing careers end, at Paris’ Shangri-La hotel. Yet, in the period since, there has clearly been a fracture.

PogbaThe family celebrate France’s World Cup victory in Russia (Photo: Jean Catuffe/Getty Images)

In his testimony to police, as widely reported in the French media, Mathias claimed to have only learned on July 13 of the blackmail threat made to his brother in March. At around the same time, he and two of the suspects had guns pointed at them by several men in a car in Roissy-en-Brie, with one of those in the vehicle shouting out: “Tell your brother to find a solution quickly”. Mathias duly travelled to Turin where Paul spotted him, with other members of the group of childhood acquaintances, outside Juventus’ training ground.

They did not speak that day and communication effectively ceased thereafter, with the France midfielder apparently twice changing his mobile number in the weeks that followed.

Mathias, frustrated by his brother’s silence, was staying with their mother, Yeo Moriba, when it is claimed she was visited at her home by the four suspects on July 31 and urged to convince her youngest son to meet the €13million demand. Moriba is understood to have received another visit while in Nice a little under two weeks later with lawyer Pimenta, aware of the various alleged incidents, duly filing a complaint against Mathias for “extortion in an organized gang”.

Thereafter, the older brother’s complaints were actually played out on social media, truly exposing the Pogba Affair to the outside world for the first time.

He took to TikTok, Instagram and Twitter on August 27, and promised “big revelations” about both Paul and Pimenta, as well as Mbappe — a reference to the marabout at the heart of the alleged blackmail threat. “My brother’s team-mates and his sponsors deserve to know certain things in order to decide, in full knowledge of the facts, if he really deserves the admiration, respect and love of the public,” he said. “All this is likely to be explosive and to make a lot of noise.”

In a statement released the following day, lawyers for Pimenta, Paul and Moriba — who, as reported by AFP, was also interviewed by the OCLCO as they gathered evidence for the investigation — said: “Mathias Pogba’s recent statements on social networks are unfortunately not a surprise. They come on top of threats and attempts at extortion against Paul Pogba.” The press release also confirmed that the authorities in Italy and France had opened their own investigations over the previous month.

Mathias, when later in police custody, claimed he had posted the videos out of fear of the armed men and to force his brother to reopen a line of communication. Friends and acquaintances of the 32-year-old, including Macky Sylla, who had worked with him at the charity 48h Pour La Guinee, have suggested such an outburst was distinctly out of character. The figure taking to social media was alien to them.

Yet Mathias had followed up his initial flurry of videos with a series of Twitter threads over the ensuing days in response to Franceinfo revealing further details of the criminal investigations, including the fact his younger brother had been interviewed by officers from the OCLCO earlier in August.

Mathias insisted none of this was about money, accused Paul of “wanting to play the innocent” and being a “traitor”, claimed he had “almost died” because of his brother, and appealed directly to Mbappe.

He followed that up two days later with another video and lengthy thread in which he referred, again, to the marabout and suggested that, whether one believed in the practice or not, his brother’s willingness to consult one “implied some wickedness”.

Paul had reportedly confirmed to the OCLCO that he did pay a marabout but only as he was seeking to protect himself from injury. According to Franceinfo, when interviewed for a second time in late August, he told the investigation he had consulted the ‘witch doctor’ for the good of a non-governmental organisation working on behalf of children in Africa and that he believed his older brother’s involvement was as a result of pressure exerted by third parties.

Mbappe, for his part, appeared reassured after speaking with his international team-mate by phone. “He called me and gave me his version of the story,” Mbappe said on the eve of PSG’s Champions League group game against Juventus earlier this month. “It is his word against the word of his brother. I prefer to trust the word of a team-mate.

“He (Paul) already has certain problems and it’s not the time to add to them. We’ll see how it all goes, but I’m pretty detached from all that.”

The last comment made by Mathias in the public domain was delivered on his behalf by his lawyer, Richard Arbib, on September 9. With two judges having been appointed to investigate the allegations of extortion, the former striker’s lawyer said in a statement that his client wanted “to state emphatically that he is totally unaware of any extortion attempt against his brother, Paul Pogba.”

“It is clear that the difficulties experienced by the Pogba family are the result of external threats,” he continued before stressing that, “more than anything else”, Mathias was seeking to make up with his younger sibling.

That has not been forthcoming. 

Mathias presented himself to the investigation last midweek and was formally charged and taken into pre-trial custody on Saturday. His lawyers are challenging his detention and attempting to secure his release, pointing to his clean criminal record, the presumption of innocence and the fact he was not present during the alleged incident at the flat in Chanteloup-en-Brie. At the time of writing, he remains in custody.

That familial unity portrayed in the Pogba documentary has long since been shattered. 

While Paul Pogba steps up his rehab and still yearns to feature at the World Cup in two months’ time, the saga that l’Affaire Pogba has become rumbles on towards a trial.

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Headlines today: Barca preparing to sue El Mundo for leaking information; Tuchel in line for management return at Bayern Munich

All the top stories and transfer rumours from Thursday’s national newspapers…

Barça official: El Mundo violated the club’s reputation and confidentiality and is studying legal measures

Barcelona FC officially released an announcement in response to the report of Spanish media “El Mundo” which exposed the inside story of Messi’s contract renewal.

Barça official announcement

With regard to the information published today in El Mundo, FC Barcelona expresses its indignation at the leakage of certain parts of the information in the judicial process. The club also regrets that this information and documents were not shared with the parties when the media boasted of having “access to a large number of Barça’s documents and emails”.

In any case, the article violates the club’s reputation and confidentiality by creating public documents that are not relevant to the investigation of the case. For this reason, and in order to protect the rights of FC Barcelona, the club’s legal department is already studying the appropriate measures to be taken.

Thomas Tuchel is keen to get straight back into management

He would be interested in the Bayern job, should it become available. He would even be ready to lower his salary and earn less than he did at Chelsea to coach in Munich.

Bayern suffered four consecutive rounds of winlessness in the league, and the managerial position of Nagelsmann has become a hot topic of discussion in German football recently. The latest news from German media “Sports Illustrated” says that the German manager Tuchel, who just stepped down from Chelsea, is interested in coaching Bayern.

Thomas Tuchel doesn’t want to take a break from coaching and is very eager to taking over another team. The Bayern job is very attractive to him and he would accept a lower salary that in the Premier League.

Merson called Maguire to apologize for his comments

Paul Merson, who previously said in an interview that Manchester United’s £80 million payment for Maguire was “ridiculous”, recently revealed that he called Maguire to apologize for saying such a thing and said that as a pundit, he sometimes has to criticize players like Ronaldo who are 100 times better than him.

Manchester United bought Maguire from Leicester City for £80 million that year, setting a record transfer fee for a defender. When asked for his opinion on the transfer, Merson said in an interview with Sky Sports at the time, “Harry Maguire’s £80 million transfer fee is ridiculous, ridiculous.”

Maguire was named captain by Solskjaer in his first season at Manchester United, but he was very poor last season. In recent weeks of the new season, Maguire has been out of Tenhaag’s starting XI, with Varane and Lisandro Martinez being the regular centre-back pairing in recent days.

“I don’t want those comments I’ve made ((past criticism of Maguire)) to be right – I’d rather be wrong.”

“I want England to win the World Cup and I want Maguire to score the winning goal, that’s my opinion and I called Rodgers to ask if he could give me Maguire’s number.”

Merson admitted that he was a little too over the top with his comments about Maguire, though this is not the first time he has made a lapse in judgment.

When Manchester City paid £55 million for De Bruyne in 2015, Merson called the transfer “a joke”, and when Liverpool signed Salah two years later, he was not impressed.

“I’ve probably said 50 times how great De Bruyne is, but people still come to me (because of the previous comments).”

“I don’t like to hear people say things like ‘he’s stupid, sack him, he’s simply brainless’, I have a good understanding of soccer, even if sometimes I make mistakes.”

“If you talk to me about politics, I don’t have a clue. But soccer I’ve played all my life, so I can say I understand it.”

“The hardest thing about being a pundit is that you sometimes have to criticize one of the best players in the history of soccer, and Ronaldo is really 100 times better than me, (but as a pundit) I have to say that with him, Manchester United can’t win anything.”

39-year-old North Macedonian star Pandev retires

On September 22, North Macedonia star Pandev announced his retirement.

“I don’t have the enthusiasm to train anymore, and after that I’m going to devote myself to my family.”

Pandev started his career at Bellasica in the 2000-01 season, joined Inter in 2001, then moved to Lazio and other teams before rejoining Inter in 2009. After that, he joined Napoli, Galatasaray, Genoa and Parma, among others.

During his career, he played 644 club matches, scored 139 goals and gave 75 assists.

At the national team level, he led North Macedonia to their first ever European Cup. He scored 39 goals in 122 matches for the national team.

Shakira: Separating from Pique was probably the darkest moment of my life, I tried to hide it from my children

In an exclusive interview with ELLE magazine, Shakira spoke about her relationship with Barcelona centre-back Gerard Piqué. Pique’s relationship with Shakira has broken down after he cheated on her earlier.

I want to talk to you about this dark moment. You used words like “I feel like I’m drowning”. How did you deal with the breakdown of your relationship?

Well, it’s really hard to talk about in person, especially because this is the first time I’ve talked about this situation in an interview. I’ve been quiet and just trying to deal with it all. Well, yeah, it’s hard to talk about it, especially because I’m still going through it, because I’m in the public eye, because our separation is not like a normal breakup. So it’s been hard not only for me, but for my kids as well. Incredibly difficult. There were paparazzi out there, in front of my house, 24 hours a day, every day of the week. I had no place to hide from them with my kids except my own house. You know, we can’t walk in the park like a normal family, or go get ice cream, or do any activity without the paparazzi following us. So it’s hard. I tried to hide the situation from my kids. I try to do that and protect them because that’s the number one priority in my life. But then they hear something at school from a friend or they read something unpleasant and unpleasant online, and it just affects them, you know?

Currently it seems that you and Peek are in a custody battle over where the children should be. Is this an accurate reflection of the current situation?

Honestly, the local Spanish media is portraying it in an ugly light. And aggressive towards my children. They don’t deserve to be watched or watched every second, to be photographed at the end of the school day, or to be followed by paparazzi. They deserve to live normal lives. Everyone is second guessing all these aspects of our, and more importantly our children’s, lives, many of which aren’t even real. No matter how it ends, he is the father of my children. We have an obligation to do what we can for these two incredible boys, and I believe we will figure out what is best for their future, their own life dreams, and what is a fair solution for all involved. I would also appreciate it if we had the space to do this privately.

I do want to ask about the breakdown of your relationship. Picker is already in a new relationship. It sounds like you didn’t want your relationship to end, and it’s surprising that it has. How did you come to understand that you wouldn’t be together anymore?

I think these details are somehow too personal to share, at least for now – everything is so raw and new. All I can say is that I put everything I had into the relationship and my family. Before my kids started school, I lived a real nomadic life – I lived my whole life as an artist, traveling constantly, going all over the world, touring, doing shows, promoting, setting up schools in Colombia, and recording in different countries around the world. Even in the first years of my relationship with Pique and when I gave birth to my first son, Milan. I took him everywhere with me from the time he was 2 months old.

FIFA23 explode eggs again! Players can control the popular American drama “soccer coach” skipper and team

Soccer game FIFA23 will soon be available, the game official exploded eggs again, players can use the characters and teams of the popular American drama “Football Coach” in this game.

Soccer Coach” has a good reputation and won several awards in the United States, the main character Ted Lasso (Ted Lasso) coach and the team he coaches Richmond (AFC Richmond) is very popular.

In the FIFA 23 game, players can use Ted Lasso to coach Richmond in career mode, join the Premier League or any career league.

In addition, Richmond can also be selected in career mode, online friendlies and seasons, where the team’s home stadium, Nelson Road Stadium, will also be restored in the game.

Juve set a two-month deadline for Allegri, also contacted Conte

According to journalist Tancredi Palmeri, Juve set a deadline for Allegri, two months if Juve is not able to turn the tide, Allegri will be fired, while Juve also contacted Conte, who is open to returning to Juve.

The journalist said that Allegri, in addition to the recent poor record and coaching performance, the interview with Sconchetti is to create a new rift with the Juve hierarchy, Allegri to their own perspective for the current situation and difficulties of their own, to do the personal side of the communication. But this interview did not get permission from Juve’s communication director Claudio.

It is reported that Nedved did not push for the immediate dismissal of Allegri, but wanted to give Allegri a deadline. It is worth mentioning that when Allegri first stepped down at Juve, Nedved was the very person who wanted him to leave.

The Juve hierarchy wants to give Allegri a final two months to prove himself until the World Cup interval. If Juve is not able to meet the goal of reaching the last 16 of the Champions League and an improved league performance before the start of the World Cup, then Allegri will be fired.

Agnelli was the first to give the collective decision on Allegri’s stay to the board on Friday. For now the transitional solution of reserve team boss Montero leading the team on a temporary basis remains the most likely, and Juve’s side is hoping that Zidane will take over rather than replace Deschamps in charge of the French team after the World Cup.

What is perhaps most notable is the connection with Conte, who was contacted by the Juve side, who did not reject the possibility of returning to Juve and is open to a possible return next season. It is reported that on the Juve senior side, Elkann and Nedved want Conte to return, while Agnelli does not want Conte to return, but if external factors and return conditions allow, Agnelli will have to accept the option of Conte’s return.

Conte’s current contract expires in 2023, Conte previously did not negotiate with Tottenham to extend the contract, he postponed the renewal talks until January next year.

Phil Jones may have played the last game of his Manchester United career

According to ESPN’s Manchester United team reporter Rob Dawson, Phil Jones may have played the last game of his Manchester United career.

The reporter said: “Phil Jones may have played his last game for Manchester United. He will likely be allowed to leave the team quietly when his contract expires next summer. He almost retired during the new crown epidemic.”

“Phil Jones stayed at Carrington this summer for an individual training programme while the full squad went on a pre-season tour. His potential transfer in the summer fell through due to his health and with no definite time frame for his return, Tenhag didn’t think it made sense to register him.”

Phil Jones, 30, has not been in United’s Premier League squad this season and his contract is set to expire next summer.

Dembele hopes to be a World Cup debutant

Barca striker Dembele spoke to French media outlet RMC about the last 5 years, his reasons for staying at Barca and working with Mbappe in the national team.

About the last 5 years When I first joined Barca I was as young as everyone else, I went out sometimes back then, but not as much as people think. I hurt my hamstring many times and my trainer kept telling me that if I didn’t put in more effort the injury would come back. And with the help of Coman and Xavi, things got better and better. From then on, I rarely got injured.

From 2017 to 2021, I wasted a lot of time and lost five precious years of my life. Koeman’s arrival at Barça was a turning point and I had to work hard to prove I was important.

Now I feel good at Barça, I have the trust of the whole team, the whole club, and I am happy, which is good. Because I’ve been through a lot in the last five years.

Now everyone is talking about my game and no longer saying that I play for money. It was my dream to play for Barca and I’m happy that I can achieve it day by day.

Talking about France and the World Cup

Our goal is to successfully defend our title, but we still have to be very cautious and some teams are very strong. For me, there are no weak teams anymore, you can beat every team or lose to every team. It has become more difficult, but I think France will compete for the title in Qatar.

We have to keep working hard because there is still a long way to go before we reach the top. There are a lot of good players in the team at the moment and I will continue to work hard so that I can be stronger and fly higher.

Talking about the impact of becoming a dad on life, at the moment I don’t realize it, it just happens. It’s great, we’re all growing up and becoming a dad means more responsibility.

KFC apologises for executive’s threat to Mbappe and France national team

KFC considers suspending sponsorship of the French team because of Mbappe’s cool-headed behavior

The vice president of KFC France, one of the “official partners” of the French national team, said that he would firmly defend KFC’s sponsorship rights in the French national team, and that the company might end its sponsorship activities with the French national team and the Ligue 1.

Alain Béral, vice president of KFC France, said in an interview that the disagreement between Mbappe and the French Football Federation has nothing to do with the sponsor: “We pay some very clear sponsorship fees and we will resolutely defend our rights if needed. If the player does not want to fulfill the sponsorship contract, then the company will terminate its sponsorship for the French Football Association and Ligue 1.”

Mbappe first called for the French Football Federation to reopen negotiations with the player’s portrait rights in March of this year. He skipped a photo shoot this week with official sponsors of the French national team, including Uber Delivery, KFC, Coca-Cola and others.

Koulibaly: Africa is the continent of perseverance and determination, it’s time to win the World Cup

Recently, Senegal captain Koulibaly was interviewed about his outlook on the World Cup.

Koulibaly said Africa is a resolute and daring continent, and it’s time to win the World Cup.

Koulibaly said, “We still remember the disappointment of the ’18 World Cup, because we could have done better. I was really very sad to go home without even making it out of the group stage.”

“For me, it’s a good moment for African countries to win the World Cup, and the continent is a very resilient and determined continent. Of course, because we are now African champions, every opponent will be careful to play against us and it will be more difficult for us.”

Milan may offer for Rennes winger Doku in the winter window

According to the Italian media Football Market, AC Milan may make an offer to Rennes for Belgian winger Doku in January next year.

The 20-year-old Doku, who came from Anderlecht’s youth system, moved to Rennes for 26 million euros in October 2020 and has made 10 appearances for the Belgian national team so far, scoring two goals and playing with the team in last summer’s Euros.

Now reports from Soccer Market claim that Milan are currently monitoring Doku’s performances and could make an offer to Rennes for the Belgian international in the winter transfer window next year.

Doku’s current contract with Rennes expires in 2025 and he is currently valued at €20 million on the German transfer.


Antonio Conte is being linked with a sensational return to Juventus.

Frenkie de Jong has revealed he never wanted to join Manchester United in the summer despite his future at Barcelona being up in the air at the time.

Manchester United boss Erik ten Hag told new boys Tyrell Malacia and Antony to “take it easy” on each other after their previous battles in Holland.

Sergio Busquets looks set to call time on his 22-year career with Barcelona amid interest from David Beckham’s Inter Miami.

Chelsea and Manchester United are among five European clubs interested in signing Borussia Dortmund midfielder Jude Bellingham this summer, according to reports.

Luiz Felipe Scolari revealed bust-ups with Didier Drogba and Nicolas Anelka led to his sacking as Chelsea boss.


RB Leipzig defender Josko Gvardiol has left the door open on a potential January switch to Chelsea, who reportedly bid for the Croatian’s services in summer without any success.

Aston Villa face a defensive injury crisis after Lucas Digne suffered an ankle injury that is likely to keep him sidelined for several weeks.

Memphis Depay has hit out at his lack of game time for Barcelona, claiming that ‘it is not enough.’


Manchester United's Harry Maguire
Image:Harry Maguire has been let down at Manchester United, according to those in his camp

Those in the camp of Harry Maguire reportedly feel that he has been let down by the players and staff at Manchester United.


The new government is considering putting plans for an independent football regulator on hold and giving the game a fixed deadline to come up with an acceptable alternative.

The Football Association is prepared to accept that some FA Cup ties may have to be played without replays this season to ease fixture congestion.

Arthur Melo has recruited a physiotherapist, a fitness coach and a nutritionist to work with him daily as he looks to impress Jürgen Klopp and forge a lengthy career at Liverpool.


Barcelona have declared they will pursue legal action after details surrounding Lionel Messi’s contract talks were released in the Spanish press.


American teams could take on the Champions League winners with Uefa planning to revamp the Super Cup into a four-club mini tournament.

Almost two-thirds of lower-league clubs would consider earlier kick-offs to reduce floodlight usage amid the cost-of-living crisis, according to a survey.


Uefa’s statement apparently blaming Liverpool supporters for causing the delay to the start of the Champions League final in Paris was prepared a considerable time before the day of the match.


Ambitious English side Doncaster City have used an ancient claim over their national status to apply for a place in next season’s Scottish Cup.