Man Utd’s Daniel James Deal on Hold After Sudden & Tragic Death of Swansea Star’s Father

​Manchester United’s deal to sign Daniel James from Swansea will be temporarily put on hold after the sudden and tragic death of the player’s father.

James has been widely tipped to make secure a £20m move to Old Trafford after impressing Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and the Red Devils’ hierarchy with some fine displays in the Championship this season.

Daniel James

While the move is still expected to go ahead, the process will be slowed down to allow the 21-year-old and his family time and space to deal with the bereavement, as per ​The Sun. At the age of 60, James’ father’s death has come suddenly and unexpectedly, although the family were aware that the winger’s father had been ill.

The deal was set to be finalised this week after the ​Premier League side had opened talks with the Welshman following a breakout season in which James contributed five goals and ten assists in 38 league appearances for the Swans.

Along with a great individual club campaign, James has broken through on the international stage. Former ​United legend Ryan Giggs has given the young star two senior appearances for Wales, while he also netted on his competitive home debut in the 1-0 win over Slovakia. Giggs supposedly played an important role in advising his former side to snap the speed-merchant up this summer.

Daniel James

Yorkshire-born James came within inches of joining Leeds United on deadline day back in January after both sides agreed to a fee for the winger, however, the deal fell through at the shortly before the deadline after the Welsh side opted to pull out of a deal at the last minute.

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Thomas Partey: The Contenders to Sign Him & Where He Might End Up

​This summer promises to be one of the busiest in recent memory for Atletico Madrid. 

Defensive stalwarts Diego Godin and Juanfran are on their way out, while Lucas Hernandez has sealed an €80m move to Bayern Munich. Star man Antoine Griezmann has also announced his intention to leave, while Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola is reportedly keen on midfielder Rodri.

Another player Diego Simeone could lose is Thomas Partey. The Ghanaian midfielder has had an impressive season which has attracted interest from a number of big name clubs. While Simone wants to keep him, Partey has a €50m release clause and Atletico would be powerless to prevent him leaving if it’s met.

Here we take a look at the clubs that have been linked with Partey and how likely a transfer to each side actually is.


Inter

Radja Nainggolan

Inter are the side that have been most strongly ​linked to Partey in recent weeks as they look to revamp the midfield. 

The Nerazzurri are set to appoint ​Antonio Conte as manager and the Italian will no doubt have been given budget assurances from the club’s Chinese owners. Partey’s agent, Daniel Jimenez, has already been flirting with Inter, referring to them as a ‘top club’.

The move depends on whether Inter seal Champions League football next season. The club sits fourth going into the final Serie A matchday, but their Milan rivals are just a point behind and failure to beat Empoli could mean they miss out. 

Funding a deal for Partey would prove difficult without Champions League qualification, and the midfielder will be looking to play in Europe’s premier club competition himself next season. However, if Inter finish in the top four, a move is definitely on the cards.

Likelihood rating: 7/10 (if Inter qualify for the Champions League)


Arsenal 

Unai Emery

The Gunners are another side that have been linked with Partey as Unai Emery looks to build on his first season at the club.

The Spaniard solved some of Arsenal’s long standing midfield issues by signing Lucas Torreira last summer. The impressive Uruguayan has added grit alongside Granit Xhaka, who has also improved. However, Xhaka remains inconsistent and is far from a fan favourite, while Aaron Ramsey’s departure to Juventus now leaves the club short in the middle.

Partey would definitely improve Emery’s midfield options, but any transfer would likely be too costly. Emery reportedly has just £40m to work with this summer, a sum that doesn’t even match Partey’s release clause.

​Arsenal will prioritise strengthening in defence and the wide areas in this window. A move for Partey looks unlikely at the moment.

Likelihood rating: 4/10


Manchester United

Paul Pogba

​United are set to undergo a squad overhaul following a woeful season, and the centre of midfield is one of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s priorities. 

Big money summer signing Fred has disappointed, while Ander Herrera is leaving and Paul Pogba continues to be linked with a move away from Old Trafford. Nemanja Matic also endured a poor season and Solskjaer’s side are desperate for more quality in the middle.

Partey’s energy and ability to break up play would certainly be a welcome addition to a midfield which has often been accused of coasting its way through games, and United have the financial means to get the deal done. 

Solskjaer’s immediate attention seems to be on Newcastle’s ​Sean Longstaff (weirdly), but it wouldn’t be a surprise to see the club bring two midfielders in. A move for Partey makes sense, particularly if there are further departures from Old Trafford.

Likelihood rating: 6/10


Juventus

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​Juventus are another club set for a busy summer following Max Allegri’s departure and a disappointing Champions League exit in 2018/19.

The Old Lady’s midfield endured a particularly difficult season, with the likes of Miralem Pjanic and Emre Can failing to hit top form.

Aaron Ramsey’s arrival will help remedy those issues, though the club could look to bring in further reinforcements. Sami Khedira had another injury-stricken campaign and underwent knee surgery in April, leaving the team short of options.

However, Juve will prioritise adding creativity to the midfield this season, with the club reportedly looking to sign Lazio’s ​Sergei Milinkovic-Savic

Likelihood rating: 1/10


PSG

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This definitely makes sense on paper. PSG really struggled in midfield this season, with centre-back Marquinhos deployed there for much of the campaign.

Adrien Rabiot barely played due to a contract dispute and is on his way out of the club, while January signing Leandro Paredes has so far failed to make his mark on the team.

PSG look to have already secured Ander Herrera on a free transfer from United, but the French club are still looking for reinforcements in the middle. 

While Partey would add the strength and running that is lacking in the PSG midfield, the club are focusing on securing the signing of ​long-term target Allan and would likely only move for Partey should they fail to convince Napoli to sell.

Likelihood rating: 2/10


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FIFA 19 Ultimate Team: Hakim Ziyech, Kalidou Koulibaly & David Alaba Hog the Limelight in TOTW 36

​Wherever you are, be it stuck at work, falling asleep in a lecture, or out doing your weekly shop, if you’re a FIFA fan then you’ve always got one eye on Wednesday’s TOTW reveal.

Just as ever, week 36 has coughed up some real gems that will have Ultimate Team players drooling at the mouth at the prospect of getting their hands on one of these beauties.

There’s FIFA card excellence up front, in midfield, at the back and between the sticks, so cross your fingers you don’t come across any of these in opposition sides.


Here’s our rundown of the stars of TOTW 36.


Kalidou Koulibaly (93)

Kaldou Koulibaly

In his eighth upgrade of the season, Kalidou Koulibaly has raced ahead of any other ​Serie A defender and put himself firmly among the best, not just in the division, but across the the entirety of FIFA. His colossal new 93-rated card comes off the back of ​Napoli’s 4-1 win over Inter, in which the Senegalese centre back put in another commanding display for Carlo Ancelotti’s side.

With a 94 overall defensive rating, any player, no matter how fast or agile stands a chance of getting past him. An incredible 96 marking also means he is always aware of incoming danger while his 99 strength rating means that he simply can’t be toppled over by anyone else.


Hakim Ziyech (91)

Hakim Ziyech

After such a wonderful season with Ajax, Hakim Ziyech has rightfully been rewarded with some excellent Ultimate Team cards this season. None more so than his new 91 overall card, after he provided an assist and received the man-of-the-match award for a scintillating display for his side as they beat De Graafschap 4-1 to lift the Eredivisie title.

A far cry from his original 82-rated card, Ziyech now has frightening ability across all four key attacking traits. His 88 shooting stats are increased due to a fierce 96 shot power, something very few goalkeepers will stand any chance of contending with, while 97 curve rating will make finesse shots nigh-on impossible to stop. This is a card you do not want to face off against.


David Alaba (86)

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As just rewards for helping ​Bayern Munich win their seventh successive ​Bundesliga title, David Alaba has duly been handed a stunning Hero card in TOTW 36. Much of the reason may be down to his unselfish act on the final day of setting up Arjen Robben to tap home on his final Die Roten appearance, but whatever the reason, the card is exceptional.

With an overall rating of 86, few can argue with his superb acceleration of 86 which allows him to defend accordingly against speedy forwards, while equally allowing him to overtake opposing full backs on the flanks. Alaba has always been known for having a rocket of a left peg, and FIFA acknowledge this by handing him 85 shot power – superb stats for a left back.


Honourable Mentions

Chris Wondolowski

It would be wrong to not mention Chris Wondolowksi, who earned an 82-rated Record Breaker card after he became the MLS’ all-time leading goalscorer after bagging four goals against Chicago Fire. He could forge some forward line along with Nicolas Pepe who was granted another 89-rated card in what seems to be his 20th upgrade of the season – this time boasting a frightening 97 acceleration.

At the other end of the pitch is Gianluigi Donnarumma, who produced a string of superb saves to keep a clean sheet in Milan’s 2-0 win over Frosinone in Serie A. The 20-year-old’s 90-rated card is pure goalkeeping gold, with a staggering 95 diving and 94 reflexes meaning even the very best of strikers in the game will be hard pressed to find a way past him.


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Qatar World Cup 2022: FIFA Abandon Initial Plans to Extend Tournament to 48 Teams

​FIFA have announced they are to bin plans to extend the World Cup from 32 teams to 48 after initially formulating ideas to increase the amount of participating nations.

The president of FIFA, Gianni Infantino, wanted to begin the expansion in 2026 but opted to bring the plans forward to the 2022 tournament in Qatar; however, such concepts have now been shelved.


Proposals were also in place play some games in neighbouring countries in the Middle East, although Infantino has reluctantly accepted that it would be beyond the capabilities of the organisation to do so. As a result of the decision, the 2026 FIFA World Cup, which will be held in the United States, Canada and Mexico will be the first ever 48-team event.

“In line with the conclusions of the feasibility study approved by the FIFA Council at its last meeting, FIFA and Qatar have jointly explored all possibilities to increase the number of participant teams from 32 to 48 teams by involving neighbouring countries at the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™,” a statement read on ​FIFA’s website. 

“Following a thorough and comprehensive consultation process with the involvement of all the relevant stakeholders, it was concluded that under the current circumstances such a proposal could not be made now.

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“Additionally, FIFA and Qatar have once again explored the feasibility of Qatar hosting a 48-team tournament by in particular lowering certain key FIFA requirements. A joint analysis, in this respect, concluded that due to the advanced stage of preparations and the need for a detailed assessment of the potential logistical impact on the host country, more time would be required and a decision could not be taken before the deadline of June. It was therefore decided not to further pursue this option.

“The FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™ will therefore remain as originally planned with 32 teams and no proposal will be submitted at the next FIFA Congress on 5 June.”

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Maurizio Sarri Will ‘Respect’ Eden Hazard Decision & Provides Loftus-Cheek Update Ahead of UEL Final

​Maurizio Sarri has provided an update on the injury sustained to Ruben Loftus-Cheek ahead Chelsea’s Europa League final clash with Arsenal, with the midfielder set for at least a four month lay-off.

The Italian also admitted he will ‘respect’ Eden Hazard’s decision if the Belgian opts to leave London and move to Real Madrid, although he has ‘hope’ that he will stay on at Stamford Bridge.

​Chelsea will take on ​Arsenal in the final of the competition in Baku on Wednesday, with Sarri addressing the media ahead of the all-English European final. One of the key points the 60-year-old brought up was the loss of Loftus-Cheek, who ruptured his achilles during a charity friendly game against MLS outfit New England Revolution.

“For sure, he will become one of the best midfielders in the world,” he said of Loftus-Cheek, as relayed by Goal reporter ​Nizaar Kinsella.

“I don’t know the timing. Maybe four-five months. Training after five months then to train to play at the best of his abilities.”

Much of the discussions taking place ahead of the showpiece event have been surrounding the future of Blues’ forward ​Hazard. The 28-year-old has been widely tipped to confirm his departure from the club and join ​Madrid, with an announcement set to come after Wednesday’s match.

Sarri was quick to state that he wants the player to remain in west London, although he is unsure of the Belgian’s next move. Nevertheless, the Italian claimed his side must be ready for any eventual departure.

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“I want to respect his decision, I hope he will stay with us,” he added. “We need to be ready if he decides something different. Hazard is good for every team [after being asked about Real Madrid], also for us.”

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