FC Barcelona captain Lionel Messi has called off negotiations over renewing his contract with the club, according to a report by Spanish radio station Cadena Ser on Friday.
The report added that the Argentina captain was even ready to leave the Catalans when his current deal expires in 2021.
It said Messi and his father Jorge had begun discussing renewing his last deal with the club, which was signed in 2017. “But he no longer wishes to stay at the Camp Nou.’’
The report added that Messi was angry about leaked media reports which appeared to make him seem responsible for events at the club.
Two of such are those about the January sacking of coach Ernesto Valverde, and that he is frustrated about the squad’s lack of quality.
The Argentine’s representatives and FC Barcelona did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Messi, who turned 33 last month, scored his 700th career goal on Tuesday against Atletico Madrid.
But the milestone strike ended in disappointment as Barca drew the game 2-2 in the latest blow to their bid to retain the Spanish title.
Barca trail Real Madrid by four points in the title race with five games remaining after Real beat Getafe 1-0 on Thursday.
Previously known for his shy personality off the pitch, Messi has become more vocal in his criticism of the club in the last year.
In January he hit out at sporting director Eric Abidal, who he said had implied players had led to Valverde being sacked.
In a February interview with newspaper Mundo Deportivo, he declared the team were not good enough to win this season’s UEFA Champions League.
Edited By: Olawale Alabi) (NAN)
Manchester City sign Valencia winger on 5-year deal
Manchester City announced on Tuesday they have signed Spanish winger Ferran Torres from Valencia, with the 20-year-old putting pen to paper on a five-year deal.
Financial details were not disclosed by the English Premier League (EPL) clubside, but British media reported the transfer fee was 23 million euros (20.73 million pounds).
Torres scored six goals and had eight assists for Valencia in all competitions last season as they came ninth in the Spanish La Liga.
“I am so happy to be joining Manchester City. Every player wants to be involved in attacking teams and Manchester City are one of the most attacking in world football,” Torres told the club website.
“Pep (Guardiola) encourages a really open, aggressive style, which I love, and he is a manager with a proven track record of improving players. To have him overseeing my development is a dream.”
Torres joins Manchester City as a replacement for Germany winger Leroy Sane who moved to Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich last month for 45 million euros plus add-ons.
“He’s young and still developing, but his technical qualities are exactly what we are looking for in a winger,” Manchester City’s director of football Txiki Begiristain said of Torres.
“He’s quick, direct, can create space with one movement and is capable of producing match-winning moments.”
Manchester City have also been linked with a 41 million pounds (53.56 million dollars) move for Bournemouth central defender Nathan Ake.
This is noteworthy as Guardiola looks to close the gap on Premier League champions Liverpool next season.
Second-placed Manchester City finished 18 points adrift of the Anfield side but won the League Cup and are still in the UEFA Champions League.
They lead Real Madrid 2-1 ahead of their last 16 second leg home match on Friday.
Edited By: Olawale Alabi) (NAN)
Nadal to skip United States Open due to COVID-19 concerns, as organisers announce entries
World number two Rafa Nadal confirmed on Tuesday that he would not defend his United States Open crown this year at Flushing Meadows.
His announcement came as organisers released the singles entry list for the Grand Slam.
“After many thoughts I have decided not to play (at) this year’s United States Open,” Nadal said on Twitter.
”The situation is very complicated worldwide, and the COVID-19 cases are increasing. It looks like we still don’t have control of it.
“We know that the reduced tennis calendar is barbaric this year after four months stopped with no play.
”I understand and thank (everyone) for the efforts they are putting in to make it happen. We have just seen the announcement of Madrid not being played this year.
“This is a decision I never wanted to take but I have decided to follow my heart this time and for the time being I rather not travel.”
The United States has the highest tally in the world with more than 4.7 million confirmed novel coronavirus cases and nearly 156,000 deaths, according to a Reuters tally.
World number one Novak Djokovic, a three-times champion in New York, headlines the men’s list along with last year’s runner-up Daniil Medvedev.
There are other top 10 players, including Dominic Thiem, Stefanos Tsitsipas and Alexander Zverev.
Swiss Roger Federer, a five-times United States Open champion, will also be absent after the 38-year-old was forced to undergo knee surgery in June which prematurely ended his 2020 season.
Nine of the top 10 women’s players, including 23-times Grand Slam champion Serena Williams and holder Bianca Andreescu, are on the entry list along with 2018 champion Naomi Osaka.
As many as 13 Grand Slam champions are in the women’s draw.
These include Romania’s Simona Halep, the reigning Wimbledon champion and 2018 French Open winner, and this year’s Australian Open champion American Sofia Kenin.
The United States Tennis Association (USTA) said eight additional wildcard entries would be selected in both the men’s and women’s fields.
Organisers said the seedings would be announced closer to the start of the tournament which is scheduled for Aug. 31.
A number of players are also set to take part in the Aug. 20 to Aug. 28 Western & Southern Open in New York, which serves as a warm-up event for the United States Open.
Edited By: Olawale Alabi) (NAN)
Sexual violence: Mrs Akeredolu pledges to partner stakeholders
The wife of Ondo State Governor, Mrs Betty Akeredolu, has pledged her readiness to partner with relevant stakeholders to end cases of sexual violence in the state.
Akeredolu spoke on Tuesday in Akure at a stakeholders meeting on gender-based sexual violence
According to her, an action plan must aim at addressing the issue of rape in the state holistically.
The governor’s wife, therefore, advised stakeholders to collectively come up with a reasonable action plan that would end the menace.
Mrs Titi Adeyemi, the Commissioner for Women Affairs and Social Development, said the essence of the meeting was to have a follow up forum on the previous meeting with stakeholders on rape and gender based violence.
Adeyemi noted that the spate of rape cases and gender-based violence was becoming alarming.
“It has become so worrisome, especially during the coronavirus period, which concerns every individuals.
“There has been an upsurge on issue of rape and all hands must be on deck to curb it.
” That is the main reason Mrs Akeredolu and relevant authorities have shown great concern at this time.
“We have put a team of experts together, people who have technical knowledge on gender-based violence issues to look for a lasting solution.
“We have a whole range of stakeholders coming together to evolve an action plan to tackle the menace, and I believe that this move is going to assist the state and the society at large,” she said.
Adeyemi said her ministry had concluded plans with the Ministry of Budget to include funds for gender-based violence management in its budget.
She also said that a desk for management of gender based violence cases would be created while government would build the capacity of care givers as well as empower victims.
The commissioner commended the governor’s wife for contributing to the proactive measures put in place to curb the menace in the state.
Mrs Bola Ogundadegbe, the Chairperson of Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA) in the state, disclosed that the 112 rape incidents recorded since 2017 had been charged to court.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that stakeholders at the meeting included representatives from Ministries of Justice, Education, Health, Women Affairs as well as representatives of non governmental organisations specialising on rape cases.
Edited By: Muftau Adediran/Mufutau Ojo) (NAN)
Spain records lower unemployment in July
The Spanish Government on Tuesday said the rate of unemployment declined slightly in July compared to the previous month, in spite drastic measures implemented to fight the spread of the coronavirus.
According to the Labour Ministry, the number of unemployed people declined by 2.3 per cent, or circa 90,000 people, to 3.8 million.
However, analysts were surprised by the result, as predictions had said the number would rise by 20,000.
The figures indicate the Spanish labour market was recovering after unemployment numbers rose by 302,000 in March and 283,000 in April, but only 26,500 additional people were reported unemployed in May and 5,100 in June.
This, they said, marked an ever smaller increase in the rate of unemployment in the country.
The impact of the coronavirus crisis was more apparent in comparison to 2019, however, unemployment in July was 25 per cent higher than in July 2019.
Edited By: Yahaya Isah/Maureen Atuonwu (NAN)