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Ferran Torres to spark transfer frenzy after breakout season

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Barcelona, Liverpool, Manchester City and Juventus are all said to be keen on Ferran Torres, who could be set to spark a bidding war.

‘Next Generation’ is a series focusing on the young players tipped to establish themselves as the elite in the 2020s.

When Ferran Torres scored the fourth and final goal of Valencia’s 4-1 Champions League win over Lille in November, he further enhanced his burgeoning reputation and announced himself to another mass of admirers.

While the goal mattered little in the grand scheme of the match, and it wasn’t a contest that was likely to draw in all of the indecisive neutrals on that night, it gave him his own slice of history, becoming the first player born in 2000 to net a Champions League goal for a Spanish club.

His cool top-corner finish after an incisive run into the box will have been met with nods of approval from those being alerted to Ferran, but his talent was no secret at that point.

A skilful and direct winger capable of playing on either flank, Ferran appears destined to terrify full-backs across European football in the 2020s.

THE EXPLOSION

Despite only being 20, this is Ferran’s third season in the Valencia first-team squad and he already has 62 LaLiga appearances to his name – 20 of which have been as a starter this term.

He had only played 12 times for Valencia’s B team in the third tier before Marcelino Garcia Toral promoted him permanently to the senior side in December 2017, his LaLiga debut as the fifth-youngest player in the club’s history a rare ray of sunlight as he came off the bench in the rain during a 2-1 defeat at Eibar.

“All of us within the club were sure that we were looking at a very high-level footballer,” Marcelino told Panenka magazine earlier this month. “It was only a matter of time before he exploded, because it was clear this player had to play. He still has a significant margin for improvement, but along with [Martin] Odegaard, for me, he is one of the revelations of the season.”

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Ferran’s form for the Spain Under-19s in July further highlighted his potential, scoring the both goals in the 2-0 final win over Portugal and earning himself a spot in the Team of the Tournament.

He has since established himself in Valencia’s starting XI, taking full advantage of Goncalo Guedes’ injury absence – but with great exposure comes a greater worry for Los Che.

TEEING UP A FRENZY

Ferran and his sister Arantxa have a tattoo in common. “An anchor. It was a reminder for us not to let ourselves be sunk by anything or anyone,” she told OTRO last year.

Perhaps that should serve as a portentous warning to Valencia at this time, with Ferran’s future becoming more uncertain by the week and his contract due to expire in 2021.

While that agreement is reported to contain a €100million release clause, Valencia would rue holding out for such a figure at this point, as to do so will surely see him ultimately leave on a free transfer next year.

Local sports paper Super Deporte remain optimistic, some might say naively so. His silence in replying to an offer “should not necessarily be interpreted as a no forever”, they wrote this month, suggesting they are trying to convince themselves as much as anyone else. Strong reports elsewhere suggest he plans to depart.

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If Ferran enters the final 12 months of his contract, a transfer frenzy is bound to occur, with Atletico Madrid, Juventus, Barcelona, Liverpool and Manchester City all said to be keen admirers.

The fact of the matter is, Valencia are running out of time.

NOT THE FINISHED ARTICLE

There’s no doubting Ferran’s ability to excite – after all, only five midfielders in LaLiga have attempted more dribbles this season than his 92. But he certainly hasn’t hit his ceiling.

Ferran has many areas in which he can improve, particularly with respect to increasing his chance creation frequency.

Although his record of 21 opportunities crafted this term is by no means terrible, he is way behind Jose Campana (58), Lionel Messi (55) and Odegaard (54) leading the way in LaLiga.

His dribble map suggests a potential reason for this, as it shows that on many occasions he attempts to carry the ball, he is not in the final third of the pitch.

The greater awareness he requires should come with experience. It would be a bigger problem if he was struggling to ever find dangerous positions.

But he has touched the ball more times (51) in the opposing area than any of his midfield team-mates this term.

And while eight goal involvements (four goals, four assists) may not sound remarkable, that’s only one fewer than Odegaard – a standout performer for many this term – and no one with more than eight is younger than Ferran.

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Premier league

Chelsea sign Senegalese goalkeeper Mendy from Rennes

Chelsea on Thursday announced the signing of goalkeeper Edouard Mendy from Rennes on a five-year deal for a reported fee of £22 million ($28 million).

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The Senegal international will compete for a starting spot with Kepa Arrizabalaga, who has struggled for form and confidence at Stamford Bridge.

He is Frank Lampard’s seventh senior signing of a busy summer following the arrivals of Timo Werner, Hakim Ziyech, Ben Chilwell, Kai Havertz, Thiago Silva and Malang Sarr.

“I am so excited to be joining Chelsea,” said Mendy. “It’s a dream for me to be a part of this exciting squad and to work with Frank Lampard and all of his coaching staff.Â

“I look forward to meeting my team-mates and can’t wait to get started.”

The 6 feet 5 inch (1.96 metre) stopper kept nine clean sheets in 24 Ligue 1 appearances last season, helping the Bretons to finish third and qualify for the Champions League for the first time in their history.

Although born in France, Mendy, 28, opted to represent Senegal at international level.

Chelsea director Marina Granovskaia said: “As soon as Petr Cech (technical and performance advisor) and our technical team identified Edouard as the most suitable goalkeeper to complement our existing group, there was only one player we wanted to bring in.

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“Edouard arrives following a season of real success with Rennes. He is ambitious for more, and we welcome him to our club.”

Kepa, who cost Chelsea £72 million in 2018, has proved error-prone and was dropped twice by Lampard in favour of 38-year-old Willy Caballero last season.

He made another high-profile mistake against Liverpool on Sunday, gifting possession to Sadio Mane for his second goal.

Source: Besoccer

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EPL players left divided over keeping Black Lives Matter slogan on shirts

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Premier League players are divided on whether to keep the Black Lives Matter (BLM) slogan on their shirts and have left a decision on the sensitive issue until just days before the new season.   The Premier League has said the decision rests with the players, whose views will be aired at a pre-season meeting of the club captains this week.  The Mail on Sunday understands that some players want to continue with the slogan. The representative of one BAME player indicated that the individual in question felt ‘very strongly’ about the slogan’s part in the ongoing fight against bigotry and two lead.  But several sources have said that players are aware of the controversy the message attracted last season when the BLM message was hijacked by a group of extreme activists. They do not want to put themselves at the centre of an ongoing controversy and feel that would be counter-productive.  There will be a wish to ensure that black and minority ethnic players are given a strong voice in the decision. Yet only two of the 20 Premier League captains are BAME: Arsenal’s Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Leicester City’s Wes Morgan, who also sits on the league’s Black Participants Advisory Group.  Kick it Out last week reported 446 incidences of abuse during the 2019-20 season – a 42 per cent increase on the previous campaign – and the organisation’s head of development Troy Townsend said last night that he hoped the shirt slogan would be kept for the new season.   He said: ‘We should not let people hijack it. It’s a message through which players have taken it upon themselves to show solidarity to their teammates – not a political message – and it’s cheap to align that to some political movement. Unfortunately, the decision has come down to the wire but I think the captains will drive the message of solidarity. I hope they are not spoken down.’  Both Townsend and Kick it Out chairman Sanjay Bhandari said that nothing had changed since the death of George Floyd in the US on May 25 became a catalyst for the show of solidarity in which Premier League players decided to wear the BLM message instead of their names on shirts.  Bhandari said: ‘Racial injustice and inequality didn’t just finish at the end of the season. The players’ greatest power is to push for change and how they do that should be driven by them.’  A decision has been left to the last minute because players have only just returned to training. But it is a more complex one than the decision on whether to take knee – which is set to continue when the new season starts.   The Premier League Black Lives Matter logo – designed by Alisha Hosannah, partner of the Watford striker Troy Deeney – was intended simply to send the message that it is unacceptable to treat black people differently to anyone else.  But a series of tweets from a ‘Black Lives Matter UK’ account included anti-Israel messages, with calls to de-fund the police and remove Met Commissioner Cressida Dick. The group’s Twitter feed has hijacked the distinctive black and yellow colour scheme of the original US campaign and has built 77,000 followers, with a crowdfunding campaign which has attracted donations of more than £1million. The group has refused to disclose whom its leaders are.  Some players feel strongly that this extreme fringe group should not be allowed to block a message which many feel strongly about.  Bhandari said: ‘The sentiments of the Black Lives Matter movement mean different things in different countries. In the context of British football, we want to see more black coaches, more Asian players, boardrooms that are not all white and all male and reductions in discrimination and an end to online hate. What we now have to do is translate gestures into action because gestures on their own are meaningless.’   Townsend cited the boycotts staged by NBA and NFL stars and tennis player Naomi Osaka over the shooting of Jacob Blake, a black man, as evidence of the need to maintain solidarity here. ‘The level of protest has only progressed since the end of last season,’ he said.  The Premier League issued a statement when the rogue group’s activities came to light, saying it was ‘aware of the risk posed by groups that seek to hijack popular causes to promote their own political views’ and that ‘these actions are entirely unwelcome and are rejected.’  A compromise on the Black Lives Matter slogan would be the introduction of an alternative type of anti-racism messaging on shirts, though the imminent start of the season creates little time to design and agree on one.  Logistically, it is not a problem that the decision will be reached possibly 72 hours before the first games of the new campaign. Two shirts must be prepared for each player in the 30-man squads and the task of embossing either players’ names or a slogan is one day’s work for Premier League clubs’ kit staff.

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Man United captain Harry Maguire released from Greek police custody

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Harry Maguire

Manchester United captain Harry Maguire was released from Greek police custody Saturday, TV footage showed, pending a hearing on assault charges on the island of Mykonos.

Local TV footage showed Maguire leaving a courthouse on neighbouring Syros island, apparently accompanied by members of his legal team, and boarding a dark minivan.

His lawyer Constantinos Darivas had earlier told Greek sports website gazzetta.gr that the England centre-back had denied the charges, and was in “fine condition” despite spending two nights in detention since his Thursday night arrest.

Greek TV channel Mega said Maguire’s father had flown to Greece to be at his son’s side.

The case is being heard on the island of Syros, the administrative hub of the Cycladic island group that includes Mykonos.

The local prosecutor is expected to set a date for the hearing.

The £80 million (88 million euros) defender was arrested late Thursday after what Greek police described as an “altercation” between two groups of British tourists on Mykonos.

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Mega said Maguire had become enraged after someone in the other group struck his sister.

A Greek police statement on Friday said that three men aged 27, 28 and 29 had been arrested in Mykonos.

The police said an officer was punched on the scene, and that a second fight had broken out at the local police station where the three men “strenuously resisted (arrest), pushing and striking three officers.”

The suspects are accused of assault, resisting arrest, verbally insulting and threatening the arresting officers, and attempted bribery, the police said.

Four Mykonos officers sustained slight injuries in the fracas, the authorities said.

Mykonos is popular with sports stars and celebrities for its all-night nightlife and beaches.

United on Friday said in a brief statement they were “aware of an alleged incident involving Harry Maguire in Mykonos last night.”

“Contact has been made with Harry, and he is fully co-operating with the Greek authorities.

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“At this time we will be making no further comment,” the club added.

United’s 2019/20 season ended Sunday in a 2-1 defeat to Sevilla in the Europa League semi-finals.

But the club will be back in pre-season training in two weeks and could begin the new Premier League campaign in less than a month.

On Monday, Maguire had tweeted after the elimination: “Time to go away, reflect, recover and be ready to come back stronger next season.”

 

source: Besoccer

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