N’Golo Kante remains keen to stay at Chelsea despite reports in the Spanish media linking him with a transfer to Barcelona and Real Madrid.
Kante has missed 20 of Chelsea’s 42 games this season due to a host of injuries to his hamstring, knee and ankle, and concerns over his long-term fitness have seen Mateo Kovacic and Jorginho strike up a good partnership in his absence.
Meanwhile, Billy Gilmour’s emergence and Ruben Loftus-Cheek’s return from injury add to Frank Lampard’s options with Ross Barkley and Mason Mount also in the squad.
Chelsea is also monitoring Lille’s 21-year-old midfielder Boubakary Soumare but he currently ranks lower on the club’s priority list than a left-back and another forward.
Manager Lampard is yet to signal to any of his first-team squad whether or not they will be surplus to requirements in the off-season as he bids to create a competitive training environment until the end of the coronavirus-hit campaign.
Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane has long been an admirer of Kante and is said to be looking for a back-up option for Casemiro, with Rennes’ 17-year-old wonderkid Eduardo Camavinga and Soumare also on the Blancos’ shortlist.
But Kante, who is currently Chelsea’s highest-paid player on £290,000 ($362k) per week, is unlikely to accept a back-up role.
Barcelona would interest Kante as well but only if he was told that Chelsea want to sell him ahead of the summer, with reports in Spain claiming the Blaugrana would be willing to offer Philippe Coutinho in exchange as part of a swap deal.
Kante is settled in London and he has three years left on his Blues contract but he previously harboured ambitions of playing for one of Spain’s big two clubs at one stage in his career.
Madrid and Paris Saint-Germain, along with Serie A giants Juventus, were interested in Kante when he signed for Chelsea from Leicester for £32 million ($40m/€36m) in 2016.
French champions PSG had wanted to create a homecoming story for the World Cup winner. However, he has been cautious about returning home due to off-field legal issues with his former agents.
Kante has denied allegations in the French investigative publication Mediapart which suggested that he was threatened at gunpoint to sack his agent Abdelkarim Douis by his former advisors in Paris.
The report goes on to say that the dispute was resolved upon Kante’s contract renewal in 2018, with an agent fee being shared between his current agent and his former advisors.
However, in February 2020, Kante’s ongoing legal battle with his former image rights advisor Nouari Khiari were detailed .
Meanwhile, like all their fellow Premier League clubs, Chelsea is training at home with advice coming in from the coaching team on routines to keep fit ahead of a return to action which will be in mid-May at the earliest.
Lampard has been in regular contact with his squad and he is using the increased amount of time to do some long-term planning for the club’s future.
“We have the good young players, we have had experienced players around them that have helped them this year, but we know there are little areas within the squad [we can improve],” Lampard toldTidesports source.
Tokyo 2020: Naomi Osaka Beats China’s Saisai In Straight Sets
Japan’s Naomi Osaka returns a shot to China’s Zheng Saisai, during their Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games women’s singles, first round tennis match at the Ariake Tennis Park in Tokyo .
Japan’s Naomi Osaka won in straight sets on her highly-anticipated return to court at the Tokyo Olympics yesterday, while world number one Ashleigh Barty crashed out in the first round.
Osaka, the star of the opening ceremony, defeated China’s Zheng Saisai 6-1, 6-4 in her first match since taking an eight-week break for mental health reasons.
“I feel like more than anything I’m just focused on playing tennis. Playing the Olympics has been a dream of mine since I was a kid,” said Osaka, chosen as the first tennis player to light the Olympic cauldron on Friday.
“I feel like the break that I took was very needed, but I feel definitely a little bit refreshed and happy again.”
The Australian Open champion had not played since May, when she walked out of Roland Garros, saying that media commitments were harming her mental health.
Osaka showed few signs of rust as she reeled off the opening five games on the Ariake Coliseum centre court, which likely would have been packed to capacity if not for a spectator ban because of coronavirus restrictions.
The second seed broke the 52nd-ranked Zheng for a 2-1 lead in the second set and closed out an 87-minute victory on her third match point.
The 23-year-old Osaka is attempting to become Japan’s first Olympic tennis champion. She will play Switzerland’s Viktorija Golubic in the last 32.
Insurance FC Records Second NNL Win On Return
Bendel Insurance recorded their second win in a row since returning to the second tier of Nigeria National League with a 1-0 win over Abia Comets on Saturday at the Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium.
Defender Tanimu Benjamin scored the only goal of the encounter in the 26th minute to hand the hosts the maximum points.
Both results have brightened their chances of qualifying for the Super 8.
According to Tidesports source, the Edo State Government in June withdrew the team from the competition after several of their players were injured by home fans during their game against Remo Stars in Ikenne, Ogun State.
On their return, Insurance pulled off an away win over Holy Arrows in Enugu before the win at the weekend
“I am happy with the goal and the overall performance from the boys. Our aim is to return to the topflight and we are working hard to achieve it,” goal scorer Benjamin, who was injured in the violence at Ikenne, said
Karagumruk To Pay Musa N1bn Annually
Super Eagles captain, Ahmed Musa was on Thursday unveiled by Turkish Lig 1 side, Fatih Karagumruk, having signed the winger on a two-year deal with an option to extend the deal for another year.
Tidesports source gathered that the financial details of the deal were undisclosed by both club and player, Musa will earn about$2.5million (N1.02billion) annually with a weekly pay of $40,000, with bonuses.
Karagumruk were promoted to the Turkish topflight in the 2019/2020 campaign, ending a 35-year wait for a return to the Super Lig and want to remain there, thus, the acquisition of star players like Musa.
“It’s a good deal no doubt, the club wanted Musa because of his wealth of experience, having played at the World Cup and the UEFA Champions League. Since they were promoted to the topflight two seasons ago, their major aim is to remain in the Turkish topflight and also win games against the big sides like Galatasary, Fenerbahce and Trabzonspor and they believe Musa can help them achieve their goals. That’s why they signed him for $2.5million annual salary, besides bonuses and allowances,” a close friend of Musa said.
It was also reliably learnt that there were financial incentives for Musa, if the club qualified for European competitions, and if he ended up as their highest scorer at the end of the season.
Musa, in an interview with newsmen said Karagumruk’s ambition was a major reason he joined them.
“I was very impressed with the team’s philosophy, style of play and it’s clearly an ambitious club.
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