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Wenger has 'no regrets' over not signing Hazard

Arsenal were in advanced talks for the classy Belgian before Chelsea completed a €40 million deal but the Frenchman insists he was out of their financial reach

Arsene Wenger insists he does not regret passing up the chance to sign Eden Hazard as Arsenal prepare to host Chelsea in the Premier League on Sunday.

Hazard arrives at the Emirates Stadium hoping to bring the Blues one step closer to a first Premier League title in five years as well as strengthening his own claim to the PFA Players’ Player of the Year award.

The Belgian’s rise has been rapid since moving to Stamford Bridge from Lille in a £32 million deal in the summer of 2012 and boss Jose Mourinho described his star man as the “best young player in the world” back in February.

But despite coming close to beating Chelsea to the signing of Hazard, Wenger is adamant that he does not dwell on the deal that might have been.

“I have no big regrets because – at the time – there was so much money involved we could not afford it and not defend it, honestly,” the Frenchman told reporters.

“It was not feasible for us financially.”

Hazard made a decisive impact the last time Chelsea faced Arsenal in October, breaking the deadlock in the 27th minute by winning and scoring a penalty before Diego Costa secured all three points for Jose Mourinho’s men.

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Barcelona vs Bayern a gift to football, says Bartomeu

The Barcelona president says the fans are in for a treat when the club welcome former coach Pep Guardiola back to Camp Nou in May

Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu says his club’s Champions League semi-final with Bayern Munich will be a great gift to the game.

The Spanish giants avoided domestic rivals Real Madrid in Friday’s draw for the last four and will welcome former coach Pep Guardiola back to Camp Nou.

And Bartomeu says fans are in store for something special when the two sides clash next month.

“It is an honour for Barcelona to play their eighth Champions League semi-final in 10 years,” he told reporters. 

“It’s a footballing gift to our fans and satisfying to be able to do it against Bayern and Pep Guardiola, who present a great challenge.”

Barca host Bayern in the first leg on May 6 before heading to Allianz Arena for the return on May 12.

They sit two points clear of Madrid at the top of la Liga ahead of Saturday’s derby with Espanyol and Bartomeu went on to stress the importance of focusing on the task at hand.

“As stated by our coach Luis Enrique, before Bayern we are confronted by three crucial league games against Espanyol, Getafe and Cordoba,” he said.

“We have to support our players and remain optimistic. Now more than ever we need to be a team.”

Guardiola guided Barca to three league titles and two Champions League crowns as coach between 2008 and 2012.

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‘If it was easy, you wouldn’t lose 3-1 to Monaco,’ – Mourinho hits back at Wenger jibe

The Arsenal boss claimed that defending is easy, prompting the Blues boss to respond by highlighting the Gunners’ Champions League exit as evidence to the contrary

Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho has responded to jibes from Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger ahead of the two sides’ clash at the Emirates on Sunday.

The Gunners boss – who has yet to defeat Mourinho in 12 attempts – said on Thursday, with regards to Sunday’s game, that: “It’s easy to defend. If we have to defend, then we will defend.”

However, Mourinho swiftly hit back, highlighting the Gunners’ shock Champions League exit to Monaco as evidence to the contrary.

“It’s not easy, not easy,” he told reporters. “If it was easy, you wouldn’t lose 3-1 at home to Monaco. If he defends well he draws 0-0 against Monaco and wins in Monte Carlo. It’s not easy to defend.”

Mourinho also took time to explain how his team’s strategy has changed in recent months as the Blues close in on a first Premier League title since 2010.

“Injuries and suspensions: we lost progressively the balance of our team,” he added.

“We played amazingly well during the most part of the season, scoring a lot of goals and controlling games very well through the quality of our possession. In the last period we are more strategic, less artistic, because from a certain moment Diego injured or suspended; [Nemanja] Matic suspended, injured; [Cesc] Fabregas injured, suspended; Diego injured again.

“When you lose crucial pieces, the team loses certain qualities but we are still achieving results. It’s like if you are at sea and your boat sinks, you need something to survive. A raft. In football, team spirit and team ethics, and strategy, is this.

“We have been top of the league since day one. We are the second team in terms of goals scored. We are the second-best team for goals conceded.

“The team with fewest defeats. We have some of the most spectacular team goals of the season. So, if we manage to win the league, we did everything right.”

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Van Gaal: De Gea 'the boss' in contract talks

The Spaniard enters the final year of his Old Trafford contract this summer, with Real Madrid maintaining a keen interest as they seek a long-term successor to Iker Casillas

Louis van Gaal admits David De Gea will make the final decision on whether he remains at Manchester United.

De Gea has improved year-on-year since moving to Old Trafford for £18.9 million in the summer of 2012, and a string of impressive performances this season have seen him earn a place on the shortlist for the PFA Players’ Player of the Year award.

But the 24-year-old enters the final year of his contract this summer and with Real Madrid keen admirers, Van Gaal admits there is little he can do to keep De Gea if he wants to return to Spain.

“It takes a long time now,” Van Gaal said when asked about the status of De Gea’s contract talks. “It can always happen, but I am not the boss.

“The player is the boss and he can say yes or no. I want him to stay, but you will have to ask David de Gea, not me. He has to sign, but we have offered him a lot of money.”

Van Gaal also believes United’s attempts to strengthen their squad with big names this summer will be at the mercy of player power.

“At the end, the player has to decide,” the Dutchman added. “Not the manager and not the manager of the selling club. It’s also dependable on the market. The club is dependable of the market and the selling clubs and the buying clubs.

“It’s not so easy to finalise all the decisions you are making because the players are the boss, not the manager. Every time you read that I buy this player or that player, or have communicated with that player, it is not like that.”

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Transfer Talk: Gundogan agrees Man United move

Dortmund discuss Dzeko signing

Thomas Tuchel, who will take over at BVB in the 2015-16 season, wants to sign Edin Dzeko. Dortmund can afford the player’s €20 million transfer fee, but the Bosnian’s wages could prove to be a problem.

Source: Bild
Friday, April 24, 2015 07:09

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