Mbappe drops PSG exit hint

Paris Saint-Germain star striker Kylian Mbappe has hinted that he may decide to leave his current club this summer in search of a new challenge in his career.

The 20-year-old has helped PSG to back-to-back French league titles, with the club from the capital having completed a domestic treble during the 2017/18 campaign.

Mbappe was also a key member of the France national team who strode to World Cup glory last summer, with the talented forward scoring four times during the tournament, including one in the 4-2 final victory over Croatia.

Mbappe said after picking up both the Player of the Year and Young Player of the Year awards for Ligue 1: "It's a very important moment for me, I've come to a turning point in my career.

"I have discovered a lot here and I feel it is perhaps the moment to have more responsibility.

"I hope that can maybe be at Paris Saint-Germain, that would be a great pleasure, or, perhaps elsewhere with a new project."

He later added somewhat cryptically: "I said what I had to say.

"When you are in such an occasion you can send messages, I think I have sent mine. If I speak more it will be too much and that is not the message I wish to send."

Mbappe, who has been heavily linked with interest from Real Madrid, has scored 59 goals in 86 appearances for PSG, including 32 in the current Ligue 1 campaign.

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Euro success needed – Guardiola

Manchester City head coach Pep Guardiola accepts that he will need to mastermind Champions League glory to be truly judged as a success with the Citizens.

City became the first side to complete a domestic treble by defeating Watford 6-0 in the FA Cup final on Saturday, having already claimed the Carabao Cup and retained their Premier League title this season.

However, Guardiola admits that a European triumph has to be the ultimate goal, with the Spaniard having guided Barcelona to Champions League victory in both 2009 and 2011.

He told reporters: "I said before that I know we will be judged at the end on whether we win the Champions League. I know unless we do that it will not be enough.

"This comes with me. I know that. I arrive in Barcelona, we were lucky we won it two times in four years and the people expect I am something special that we have to win the Champions League and it's still true.

"In this club, the points record and the domestic competitions is incredible, but the Champions League we don't win quite often compared to the others because the teams are so good.

"The competition is so demanding, but we want to win it."

City have lost in the quarter-finals of the Champions League in each of the last two seasons, while their best showing in the competition came in 2015/16, when they reached the semi-finals – where they lost out to eventual champions Real Madrid.

Meanwhile, Liverpool are 1/2 to win the Champions League final this season, with Tottenham Hotspur priced at 13/8.

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Italian Open: Nadal Ready for Roland Garros After Topping Djokovic

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Rafael Nadal vs Novak Djokovic (6-0, 4-6, 6-1)

Rafael Nadal did not come into the Italian Open in the best of form. The World No. 2 fell in the semi-finals in each of his last three clay-court tournaments.

But despite his recent struggles, Italian Open 2019 betting odds still had Nadal pegged as the favourite in Rome, and so it proved. The Spaniard finally broke out of his mini-slump as he topped World No. 1 Novak Djokovic in the final in three sets to claim his first title of the year.

The convincing win should provide Nadal with a much-needed confidence boost ahead of the second Grand Slam of the season — the French Open — which begins next week.

Highlights of the game

After falling short in his past few tournaments, Nadal looked back to his dominant best in Rome as his early Italian Open 2019 results were mighty impressive. He steamrolled past his competition through the first few rounds as he lost just six total games in his first three matches.

Old foe Stefanos Tsitsipas — who defeated Nadal en route to the Madrid Open final, where he then lost to Djokovic — provided a bit more resistance. But the Greek was powerless to stop the Spaniard for a second straight semi.

Djokovic, on the other hand, had some recent wobbles against a pair of Argentines in Juan Martin del Potro and Diego Sebastian Schwartzman in the past two days. Both lasted three sets, with Djokovic’s duel against Schwartzman the day before lasted two and a half hours.

The fatigue from those matches seemingly took its toll on Djokovic, who was completely crushed 6-0 in the opening set by Nadal. The Spaniard was simply ruthless as he smashed his trademark forehand all over the court. The leggy Djokovic just couldn’t keep up.

World no.1 Novak Djokovic looks disappointed after failing to beat Rafael Nadal in their Italian Open final clash

World no.1 Novak Djokovic sits on the bench ahead of his Italian Open final match against Rafael Nadal

The World No. 1 didn’t back down, though, and finally got his first break point opportunity of the match in the fourth game of the second set. However, Nadal saved the point with a beautiful forehand into the corner.

But the Serb eventually picked up that crucial break of serve, which allowed him to take the second set in just under an hour.

Djokovic’s delight was short-lived, though, as Nadal quickly broke his serve in the first game of the third set. Djokovic smashed his racquet in his frustration, knowing that he likely squandered his chance at victory. And so it proved, as Nadal went on to close out the match by winning the third set, 6-1.

Key Statistics

With this win, Rafael Nadal has now won the Italian Open nine times, extending his own record. And he’s also won it two years in a row after going winless from 2014-17.

It was also Nadal’s 81st career tournament win and. After Djokovic pulled level with Nadal for the most all-time Masters 1,000 titles, Nadal has nudged back ahead, 34-33.

Since 2005, Nadal has won at least one of the nine Masters 1,000 events in a season every year except 2015.

Despite his defeat, Djokovic still holds the slight edge over Nadal in terms of career head-to-head wins at 28-26. Although, Nadal has extended his decided advantage against the Djoker on clay (17-7).

Nadal’s 6-0 win in the first set was the first “bagel” either great has suffered in their 141 previous sets played against each other.

What’s next?

With the Italian Open done and dusted, it’s now off to Paris as the world’s top two players compete in the 2019 French Open, which begins on the 26th of May.

Just like in Rome, Nadal will be out to defend his title in Roland Garros. He defeated Dominic Thiem in last year’s final to claim his 11th French Open crown.

Due to his injury absence, Djokovic was a lowly 20th seed in last year’s tournament and made a shocking quarter-final exit to Italian Marco Cecchinato. The Serb has crashed out in the quarters in each of the last two French Opens after making the final three straight years from 2014-16.

But Djokovic will be on a mission this year as he aims to hold all four Grand Slam titles at the same time for the first time since 2016, when he won his one and only French Open title to date.

Nadal and Djokovic met in the first Grand Slam final of the year in Australia — which Djokovic won — and perhaps they will do so again. If they do, though, us odds will likely favour Nadal, who has shown that despite his recent stumbles, he’s still the undisputed man to beat on clay.

 

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Serie A: Napoli Prolongs Inter Agony

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Napoli 4-1 Inter Milan

Carlo Ancelotti’s Napoli put on a stunning second-half show, to land Inter Milan’s Serie A top-four hopes in serious doubt at the Stadio San Paulo tonight.

Gli Azzurri has second place wrapped up and a summer break to look forward to, but for Inter there will be a nerve-wracking end to the season next weekend.

This was a game Inter really needed to take something from to keep their Champions League target nicely within sight, particularly in light of the Serie A 2019 results this weekend. Atalanta moved ahead of Luciano Spalletti’s side with a draw away to Juventus, while fifth-placed Milan climbed to within a point of Inter with a home win over Frosinone.

Spalletti’s men have been in the top four for most of the season, and it’s still in their own hands, but their grasp on the prize may just be slipping.

We’re going to have a fantastic climax to the us Serie A season so keep it right here for the best odds, the pre-match previews and all the action as the drama unfolds.

 

Over 3.00 @ 1.91 Barcelona -1.25 @ 2.17 Total Goal 2-3 @ 2.03 Third Line text CLICK HEREDisclaimer: Odds are correct at time of publish.Copa del Rey

 

Highlights of the game

Both sides started with attacking intent, Dries Mertens firing over on three minutes and then Inter’s Radja Nainggolan having a shot charged down after good work from Lautaro Martinez. The Belgian midfielder is a man for the big game, scoring a spectacular goal in the recent 1-1 draw with Juventus, and he looked up for this match from the off.

Napoli top scorer Arkadiusz Milik had an early chance too, picking up a ball from Jose Callejon before watching his shot fly agonisingly close to the top left corner. But on 16 minutes Gli Azzurri went ahead when Fabian Ruiz passed to Piotr Zielinski and the midfielder found his range superbly as his long-range shot flew into the top left corner.

The hosts continued to look the stronger team and Inter keeper Samir Handanovic got down smartly to deny Mertens, but as half time approached Inter moved up a gear, driven by the wing play of Ivan Perisic who set up chances for Martinez and Nainggolan, but neither troubled Orestis Karnezis in the Napoli goal.

Inters’ night was pretty much over on the hour when Mertens bagged his 15th goal of the season, meeting a Callejon cross and planting his header beyond Handanovic and into the bottom corner of the net.

The hosts now had the taste for blood and went for the jugular on 71 minutes. Milik almost made it three, but was denied from close range and then as Napoli piled on the pressure Kevin Malcuit found Ruiz in space and he fired into the bottom corner.

Then the Spaniard made it four when he picked up a ball from Mertens and fired it high into the top corner as the Inter defence, so good all season, began to look in disarray.

Mauro Icardi won himself a penalty and duly converted it, but it was little consolation for Inter on a worrying night for their fans.

Serie A: Inter Milan suffer a 4-1 defeat to Napoli

Mauro Icardi taking the penalty during their match against Napoli at Stadio San Paolo

Key Statistics

The Napoli vs Inter Milan betting odds pointed to a home win at 2.48, but Inter needed the result more than their hosts and had plenty of the ball (55 per cent) in the first half, but only had one shot on target to Napoli’s two.

The visitors dominated possession in the second half too, but just didn’t have Napoli’s cutting edge and paid the price.

Inter has never had a league win at this stadium and Napoli’s home record for the season now reads 13 wins, four draws and two defeats.

What’s next?

Napoli’s season comes to a close next week with an away trip to Bologna, a team which has hit form with a run of four wins from six to pull away from the drop zone after a difficult season.

Carlo Ancelotti is now looking forward to next season and has already expressed an interest in Spurs wing-back Kieran Trippier as he looks to strengthen his squad.

But it’s all about the here and now for Inter.  City rivals AC Milan have a final day fixture away to SPAL. Gennaro Gattuso’s side is just a point behind Inter and has won three on the bounce. Meanwhile, Atalanta is at home to Sassuolo.

Inter has a home game against Empoli. Three wins on the run have given the visitors a real chance of survival and they will continue to fight for their Serie A survival, having hammered Europa League hopefuls Torino 4-1 today.

That is not a game Inter fans will be looking forward to.

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Gomes holds fire on retirement

Heurelho Gomes remains undecided about his future plans and will take time to consider his position after Saturday's FA Cup mauling by Manchester City.

Watford's hopes of a first major trophy went up in smoke at Wembley, where an encouraging start tailed off as Pep Guardiola's men secured an historic domestic treble in style, thrashing Javi Gracia's side 6-0.

Gomes played his part in keep further goals from going in and, while he previously suggested he'll retire this summer, it now appears he has some thinking still to do.

Asked if he had made a final decision, Gomes said: "No, not yet.

"I have got to speak to the club and the club want to speak with me, so I will listen to them and see what is going to happen.

"If I am still able to do something for this club I will do it. But we need to speak, calm down and sit next week and see what the decision is."

The 38-year-old shot stopper admitted it was a painful loss on a big occasion for everyone involved with Watford.

"Yeah I feel disappointed with everybody else, but I feel proud of everyone at the club. We have come so far," he added.

"Of course the result is hard to take but we lost to the best team in the league and probably the best in the world, so I am so proud of these players, so proud of this club and the supporters.

"You could see that they are proud of us as well, they sing until the last minute. We need to keep going and yeah, we go again."

Gomes' former side Spurs are 14/5 to win the Champions League final against Liverpool on 1st June. The Reds are 19/20 while the draw is 5/2.

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Bale ‘doesn’t fit’ in Real team

Zinedine Zidane has suggested Gareth Bale simply isn't part of his plan at Real Madrid.

Bale was left on the bench for the duration of Real's final-day defeat to Real Betis in La Liga at the Bernabeu.

The home side were booed off the field at full-time, Loren Moron and Jese having scored second half goals in a 2-0 win for the visitors.

Marco Asensio, Isco and Lucas Vasquez were all sent in off the bench in the second half, while Bale stayed seated. Tellingly, Zidane suggested afterwards that he wouldn't have called on the Welsh ace even if he had a fourth change given to him.

The 29-year-old has struggled to hold down a starting place in the Real side since Zidane returned in March and the manager has consistently refused to offer assurances over his future, though it now seems clearer than ever that Bale's future may be away from the Spanish capital.

When asked about Bale leaving the Bernabeu after the defeat to Betis, Zidane said: "I don't know if it's the last game or not. I don't know what's going to happen.

"I'm sorry he didn't get to play, but no-one knows what will happen. If I think a player doesn't fit in the team I have to do what I think works best.

"No-one can change what Bale has done for the team, but as a coach I have to live in the present. I have counted on other players more in recent weeks, and if I had a fourth substitute today I would not have brought him on.

"I make these decisions when it is right to do so, and I must act in the best interests of the team at all times."

Bale has won four Champions Leagues, La Liga and the Copa del Rey during his six years at Real. His former side Spurs are 14/5 to win the Champions League final against Liverpool on 1st June. The Reds are 19/20 while the draw is 5/2.

Clarke hints at Killie farewell

Steve Clarke appeared to say goodbye to Kilmarnock fans following their final day victory over Rangers at Rugby Park.

Clarke has been heavily touted as the man to replace Alex McLeish as Scotland manager and he looks set to depart his role at the Scottish Premiership side now.

Killie's 2-1 win over Rangers guaranteed them a Europa League spot next season, but their 55-year-old boss dropped a heavy hint he might not be in the dugout when they return to European competition for the first time in 18 years.

"The most important thing in any football club anywhere in the world is the supporters, and when I came here we didn't have so many," Clarke said.

"We had a disconnect between the support, the board, the players. There was nothing, no togetherness, I said this when I came in: together we are stronger.

"In my time at Kilmarnock Football Club, I'm sorry I didn't win you a trophy."

Clarke has won the Scottish Premiership's Manager of the Season award as well as PFA Scotland and Scottish Football Writers' Manager of the Season awards having guided his club to third place behind champions Celtic and Rangers.

He says supporters of the Ayrshire club should be proud of what they now have.

"This is Kilmarnock, this belongs to you. And the most important thing, I said no trophy – for me, I take this. This is my trophy, thank you," said Clarke, pointing at the cheering supporters.

Celtic meanwhile are 4/11 to win Saturday's Scottish Cup final against Hearts. The Jambos are 15/2 while the draw is 15/4 for their Hampden Park showdown.

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Hertha set to sign Boyata

Celtic defender Dedryck Boyata will join Hertha Berlin this summer, the Bundesliga side have confirmed.

The Belgian centre back's contract expires at the end of the season, with Boyata having been out of action since an injury sustained in an Old Firm win over Rangers in March.

Boyata – who was part of Belgium's World Cup squad last summer – moved to Glasgow from Manchester City in 2015 during Ronny Deila's tenure and has made 125 appearances for Celtic.

"We've had Dedryck in our sights for some time and are fully convinced of his qualities," said Hertha general manager Michael Preetz.

"We are confident that he is a real reinforcement for our defence."

Celtic's interim manager Neil Lennon said last month he was hoping a new deal would be agreed.

Hertha finished 11th in the Bundesliga this season and the defender says the club did a good job on selling a move to him.

"The club is ambitious and has goals that I stand by and I was very impressed by how Michael Preetz tried to talk to me and showed me a clear plan," said the 28-year-old.

Celtic are also face losing another centre-back, Filip Benkovic, this summer when the 21-year-old's loan deal from Leicester City ends, though the Bhoys will hope they can convince former manager Brendan Rodgers that another season-long loan in Scotland will serve him best.

Celtic meanwhile are 4/11 to win Saturday's Scottish Cup final against Hearts. The Jambos are 15/2 while the draw is 15/4 for their Hampden Park showdown.

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Union tied for first in the East

A drab 0-0 tie against the Seattle Sounders was enough to return the Philadelphia Union to the top of the Eastern Conference, level on points with DC United.

The point Philadelphia gained left the Union and DC United tied on 24 points, but Philadelphia has the better goal difference.

The draw snapped a three-game winning streak for the Union who had got the better of FC Cincinnati, the New England Revolutions and Toronto FC.

In turn DC United were falling to the Houston Dynamo, 2-1 at the BBVA Compass Stadium.

Wayne Rooney gave the visitors the lead just after the half time break only to see Memo Rodriguez and Thomas McNamara score a minute apart later in the half.

Rooney had the easiest of chances when he opened the scoring, turning in a Ulises Segura cross at the far post.

Rodriguez equalized with a shot that it appeared goalie Bill Hamid in the DC United net should have saved although there was little the United keeper could do with the second as McNamara arrive to bundle home a bouncing cross from Adam Lundqvist.

Next Saturday the Union will return to action when they host the Portland Timbers at the Talen Energy Stadium.

That's also the venue the following Wednesday when the Western Conference cellar dwellers, the Colorado Rapids, arrive in town.

Meanwhile DC United travel to Gillette Stadium in Foxboro to face the New England Revolution, and new manager Bruce Arena, also on Saturday and then host the Chicago Fire four days later.

Seattle are 12/1 to win the MLS Cup this season, with Los Angeles FC 3/1 and DC United 10/1.

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Marcelino eyes a great prize

Valencia boss Marcelino hopes to see his side cap an 'outstanding' season by winning the Copa del Rey for the eighth time in their history.

Los Che finished their league campaign by winning 2-0 at Real Valladolid to secure fourth place in La Liga, earning themselves a place in the Champions League group stage for next season.

However, their season is not yet over, with a Copa del Rey final clash with Barcelona coming up in Seville next Saturday.

And Marcelino is hoping to see his team maintain the momentum which they built up during the second half of the campaign as they rose up the standings to clinch fourth place.

Marcelino told his club's official website: "We had a lot of problems this season, but this group have turned around the situation and earned fourth place when three places were already decided – having ended the first half of the campaign ten points off the Champions League spots.

"We always gave priority to La Liga. Valencia have to get into the Champions League repeatedly in order to grow and become one of the best teams in Europe, but that isn't easy.

"I would undoubtedly say that this has been an outstanding season.

"Qualifying for the Champions League is a very important morale-booster ahead of the Copa del Rey final and winning that would be a great prize."

Valencia are 11/4 to lift the Copa del Rey, while they are 11/2 to win the final in normal time.

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