Manuel Neuer Rumours Dismissed – But Chelsea Hold ‘Discussions’ With Another Kepa Replacement

Even when he’s not dropping clangers, Kepa Arrizabalaga’s Chelsea position remains under threat. 

After suffering a torrid run of poor form, the Spanish goalkeeper lost the faith of head coach Frank Lampard, who opted to take him out of the firing line for several matches in February. 

Arrizabalaga then stepped up to the plate and put in commanding displays against Liverpool in the FA Cup and Everton in the Premier League, but it appears that it may not have been enough to stop him from losing his place in the side for the coming season. 

Kepa Arrizabalaga

Rumours have swirled surrounding a possible Blues bid for Manchester United goalkeeper Dean Henderson, and now the west London club is being linked with some of Europe’s true giants between the sticks. 

The latest name to be banded around Stamford Bridge is that of Bayern Munich star Manuel Neuer. ?Bild reported that Chelsea are keen to sign the German international, whose contract expires at the end of the 2020/21 campaign. 

?Neuer may fancy his chances elsewhere too, given the impending arrival of Schalke goalkeeper Alexander Nübel, who is tipped to be the long-term occupant of the Bayern number one jersey. 

But that idea has been dismissed by ?Sky Deuts?chland reporter Marc Behrenbeck, who described the whispers of a possible Premier League switch for the 34-year-old as ‘wild speculations’. 

So Arrizabalaga‘s job is safe after all? 

Gianluigi Donnarumma

Well, not quite. Behrenbeck went on to throw another name in the hat – and an equally-appealing one at that. The reporter claims that ?Chelsea have made contact with super-agent Mino Raiola, and the pair have held ‘discussions’ over his client, ?Milan shot-stopper Gianluigi Donnarumma. 

The 21-year-old has been a regular starter for I Rossoneri since making his debut in 2015 as a 16-year-old, and he has performed admirably for the Milan club. But the Serie A side are suffering a monumental slump, and with the likelihood being that they will miss out on European football once again, Donnarumma may try to force a move away from San Siro. 

Arrizabalaga has got to start impressing boss Lampard – although it might be too little, too late.

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Who Is Nico Melamed? Everything You Need to Know About the Talented Espanyol Teen

?Spain, a country revered for churning out the crème de la crème of footballing technicians, may well have stumbled upon their next star.

The performances of 18-year-old Nico Melamed in Espanyol’s reserve side has led to some of Europe’s elite taking notice and according to Sky Sports’ Gianluca Di Marzio; Real Madrid, Barcelona, Chelsea and Bayern are all ready to pay upwards of £7m to secure Melamed’s services – whenever the next opportunity arises.

So, if you’re thinking to yourself who the hell is this guy – perfectly fair, he’s only played 34 first-team minutes in his career – we here at 90min have got you covered. 

Here’s everything you need to know about the talented Spaniard, and don’t fear flaunting your Melamed knowledge to your mates in a House Party call later either. 


Right, Who on Earth Is This Guy?

Nico Melamed

To get things started, let’s take a look at where it all began for the highly sought after Espanyol starlet.

Born in Castelldefels, Barcelona, Melamed starting his footballing journey at local club Atlètic Vilafranca before being spotted by Catalonia-based outfit Cornellà in his pre-teen years. Cornellà, by the way, currently play in the third tier of Spanish football.

Nevertheless, Melamed’s talent was then noticed by Espanyol, who didn’t hesitate in drafting the then 11-year-old into their youth set-up.

From there, he continued to grow and shine at a youth level before becoming a prominent member in La Periquitos’ reserve side in the 2018/19 campaign – starring in an attack-minded central midfield role.

Melamed’s impressive displays for the reserves last time out saw him rewarded with his first-team debut in August 2019 against Luzern in a Europa League qualifier. On that occasion, the Spaniard proved his versatility with a bright substitute performance from a left midfield position.

And hey, props to him for rocking a tucked-in shirt in 2020.


Youth International?


Barely.

Melamed was called up to the Spain Under-19 squad for their European Championship qualifiers last October, but he failed to earn his first full cap. 

If La Roja aren’t willing to utilise Melamed’s talent, the 18-year-old has the option of switching loyalties to La Albiceleste, Argentina – with his grandfather being of Argentinian descent.


What Are His Strengths?


Judging by the three minutes of footage available to us online, there’s little doubting that Melamed’s a technically proficient customer who’s comfortable in tight spaces.

His slight frame means he has a swift burst of acceleration to get by defenders one-v-one, while the Spaniard’s superb ball manipulation allows him to beat defenders on the inside, which he usually does via a step-over or drop of the shoulder. Moreover, the 18-year-old’s low centre of gravity makes him pretty tough to dispossess cleanly – much like Santi Cazorla and Marco Verratti.

Melamed’s tenacity was also impressive on his senior debut and going forward, his aggression and determination to win back possession will be a dream for managers who adopt a pressing-based philosophy.

For the Espanyol’s reserves, Melamed proved he has an eye for goal as well – scoring nine times in 39 appearances.


Who Would You Compare Him With?

Philippe Coutinho,Isco

From what we’ve seen, comparisons to Phillipe Coutinho and Isco wouldn’t be unjust in terms of play-style.

The duo are diminutive playmakers who enjoy occupying the left flank due to the passing lanes and shooting angles it opens up infield for a right-footer. While Melamed may not possess the astute creative nous of the seasoned pros, his dribbling ability is certainly of a similar ilk.

Hopefully, we can see more of him in a central role when/if football eventually resumes.


Is He Good Enough for a Move to One of Europe’s Elite?

Barcelona v Liverpool - UEFA Champions League Semi Final: First Leg

In his report, Di Marzio mentioned that the clubs linked with a move for Melamed will look to pursue a deal in the next transfer window – his £7.2m release clause is not believed to be an issue. 

And in response to the above question, well, quite frankly, it’s hard to tell.

Melamed has looked a fine prospect in his ridiculously small sample size but he doesn’t scream superstar. While’s he’s shown maturity at a senior level for the reserves, the fact he’s only made one first-team appearance and is yet to make his first full cap for Spain’ Under-19’s would suggest Melamed could merely be another technically gifted prospect to be churned out of the country.

Nevertheless, the talent is undoubtedly there and the teenager is certainly someone who’ll have to be nurtured carefully if he is to fulfil his potential.

But just how high is that ceiling? It remains to be seen…


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6 Champions League Games to Re-Watch on UEFA.tv

?Still struggling to find enough classic football to watch while at home with nothing to do?

Fear not, for UEFA have ?announced they are streaming a selection of past Champions League games every Tuesday and Wednesday for free on UEFA.tv. They’ve picked a cracking list of matches, each filled with drama and individual brilliance, that will have you on the edge of your sofa.

So, if you find you’re still missing football, here are six Champions League classics for you to go and enjoy.


Juventus 3-0 Atlético Madrid – 2019

Cristiano Ronaldo

Looking for a Cristiano Ronaldo masterclass and a dramatic comeback? Look no further.

Needing to overcome a 2-0 loss in the first leg, ?Juventus had to score three goals without conceding against defensive specialists Atlético Madrid in order to progress to the last eight. 

Despite the mammoth task, the Portuguese star delivered for I Bianconeri, overcoming the formidable duo of Diego Godín and Jose Gimenez with two vintage headers past Jan Oblak. With time running out, the game looked to be heading into extra-time, until ?Ronaldo intervened with a late penalty to complete the turnaround and send Juve into the quarter-finals.

Many asked if a 34-year-old Ronaldo would still step up for the big games. Here, he answered decisively with one of his best games in a Juve shirt.


Barcelona 6-1 Paris Saint-Germain – 2017

Sergio Roberto

The game that was so good, it earned its own Wikipedia page and nickname – La Remontada, or ‘The Comeback’ to you and I. At least, it’s enjoyable for those who aren’t PSG fans.

The Ligue 1 side were dominant in the first-leg and went to Camp Nou with a 4-0 advantage. Barça looked outclassed, and the tie looked over. Or so it seemed…

The match started with a goal in the third minute from ?Luis Suárez, and even despite Edinson Cavani’s second-half away goal, it wasn’t enough to stop the Blaugrana from erasing the deficit. Indeed, it was unlikely hero Sergi Roberto who netted in the fifth minute of injury time to send the Parisians home in tears.

Was it horrendous defending, or an astonishing attacking display? Either way, this riveting game will live long in the memory of football fans, for the dramatic comeback and the memorable collapse of PSG, who haven’t really recovered since. It that isn’t compelling enough, Lionel Messi was brilliant on the night as well.


Galatasaray 3-2 Real Madrid – 2013

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While Los Blancos ultimately went through to the semi-finals, they were given an almighty scare by Cimbom in this quarter-final second leg.

A volleyed Ronaldo finish put the La Liga side 4-0 up on aggregate, and it looked like a routine away win for the Spanish side. Yet the Süper Lig club had other ideas, and equalised through former Arsenal cult hero Emmanuel Eboué’s thumping strike. 

Wesley Sneijder and Chelsea legend Didier Drogba then scored within two minutes, putting the hosts in front and only two goals away from knocking out Jose Mourinho’s team. But Ronaldo had other ideas, and scored again to end any hopes of a shock exit.

It was a thrilling game, and the added star-power of Ronaldo and Drogba make it a worthwhile watch.


AC Milan 3-0 Manchester United – 2007

AC Milan's Kaka celebrates scoring again...

It’s rare to find a game where Sir Alex Ferguson’s Manchester United were thoroughly beaten by their opponents, but this Milan side were unstoppable at home and boasted some outstanding players.

The Italian team had lost the semi-final first leg 3-2 in Manchester, but it took only 11 minutes for Kaka to level the tie with his early goal. Clarence Seedorf later added a second before half time, and it was substitute Alberto Gilardino who scored to secure ?Milan a trip to Athens to take on Liverpool in the final.

Simply put, Carlo Ancelotti’s side showed why they were considered among the best teams in the world at the time. Their passing and movement was outstanding, and they ensured the likes of ?Wayne Rooney and Ryan Giggs had little impact on the game at all.

This victory showed a brilliant team who were at their best – which was too much for Ferguson’s Premier League-winning side of 2007.


Barcelona 0-3 Bayern Munich – 2013

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This all-conquering Bayern Munich side are among the most exciting teams of the decade, and this dominant performance symbolised just how entertaining their style of football was.

Having comprehensively beaten the Catalans 5-0 at the Allianz Arena, few expected ?Die Roten to be just as dominant at Camp Nou. They pinned the Blaugrana back in their own half, and pounced on any misplaced pass to launch deadly counter-attacks that frightened the ?Barça backline.

The ‘Robbery’ pair of Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery were at their best, terrorising full backs Dani Alves and Adriano, while Mario Mandzukic’s selfless display showed how good he was without needing to score himself.

Ultimately, this was a clash of different tactics, with the Catalans’ possession-style football decisively torn apart by Bayern’s swashbuckling counter-attacking style.


Manchester United 4-3 Real Madrid – 2003

Real Madrid's Ronaldo celebrates after s

Rather watch the Brazilian Ronaldo at his destructive best? Then this is essential viewing for you.

This was a game that boasted world-class attacking football and fantastic goals, as well as world-class performances. Among them, David Beckham scored twice off the bench, including a trademark free-kick for the Red Devils, while Zinedine Zidane put on an imperious display for ?Los Blancos.

But the star of the show was clearly El Fenomeno. The Brazilian scored a stunning hat-trick, including a 25-yarder that even got ?United fans off their seats. Few away players get a standing ovation at Old Trafford, but his performance deserved one, and he was duly applauded by all when he was substituted towards the end of the game.

The match is worth watching for his performance alone, with the attacking displays by both teams an added treat for any interested viewers.

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Philippe Coutinho Wants Premier League Return if Barcelona Rule He Has No Camp Nou Future

?Barcelona midfielder Philippe Coutinho is thought to prefer a move back to the Premier League if there is to be no place for him at Camp Nou next season, rather than heading to Italy, where he previously played when he first arrived in Europe, or France.

Having seen his dream Barça move turn sour, Coutinho is currently on loan at Bayern Munich. But the reigning German champions are highly unlikely to trigger a €120m option to make the deal permanent, leaving the Brazilian’s future uncertain and up in the air.

FBL-ESP-LIGA-BARCELONA

Coutinho has already been linked with Chelsea, Tottenham and even Manchester United earlier this month. But a return to former club Liverpool is improbable given the Reds’ take on transfers in general and keenness to promote developing younger talent from within.

There is always the chance that Coutinho could forge himself a new role at Barça given that the club may be short of resources next season in light of the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

But if that is not the case and he does have to move on, Mundo Deportivo (MD) writes that the player’s ‘absolute priority’ is to join a Premier League club. England is where he has played the best football of his career and it is said he ‘does not contemplate’ Inter or Paris Saint-Germain.

Chelsea, Tottenham and Manchester United are mentioned once more as possible destinations.

It has been suggested recently that Coutinho was prepared to join Spurs last summer prior to going to Bayern, only for the deal not to materialise in the end. MD suggests that Barcelona’s interest in Tanguy Ndombele could make it possible again if the clubs negotiate makeweights.

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The recent gossip surrounding Manchester United, meanwhile, alleged that an approach from Old Trafford would hinge on the club sacking current manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and hiring Mauricio Pochettino instead, a farfetched and extremely unlikely turn of events.

Owing to Liverpool connections, Coutinho himself is already thought to have ruled out United.

Chelsea are a plausible option, however. The club are yet to replace Eden Hazard following his big money move to Real Madrid last year, while the recent gossip from Spain claims that contact has already been made with Barcelona to gauge the conditions of a potential loan.

Barça could drop their demands to €90m (£82m) for a permanent deal, but a loan that includes paying all of Coutinho’s wages for a season would cost Chelsea around €30m (£27.5m) all in.


For more from Jamie Spencer, follow him on Twitter and Facebook!

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VII Players Who Were Reborn After Being Cast Aside by Their Clubs

Football is a funny sport. Rarely do we see superstars maintain their level throughout their career, with many players facing highs, lows and everything in between.

Sometimes, players and clubs are simply not good matches, but there are also examples of players just needing that elusive chance to prove themselves. Regardless, a change of club can be the right answer.

Here are seven players who revived their careers after being cast aside by their club.


Mohamed Salah

Mohamed Salah

Mohamed Salah?‘s career started off like so many others. He was a hot prospect after breaking through at Basel, but a switch to ?Chelsea in 2014 just didn’t work out. He had shown flashes of excitement, but rarely had fans off their seats.

He joined Roma on loan in 2015 and impressed enough to earn himself a permanent move a year later. In total, he managed 34 goals and 22 assists in 83 appearances, which sounds like a reborn career, right? Well, we’re just getting started.

That time with Roma led to a move to ?Liverpool in 2017, where Salah has erupted. He helped turn Liverpool into European champions and he finished fifth in the 2019 Ballon d’Or. How’s that for a career revival?


?Kevin De Bruyne

FBL-ENG-PR-MAN CITY-SHEFFIELD UTD

Yet another example of a player reinventing themselves after leaving Chelsea, Kevin De Bruyne’s career risked stalling after his spell at Stamford Bridge came to an abrupt end in 2014.

An £18m move to Wolfsburg proved to be the spark De Bruyne needed, as the Belgian took the opportunity to prove to the world that he was the elite creator many felt he had the potential to become. He bagged 20 goals and 37 assists in just two seasons, before landing in ?Manchester City.?

De Bruyne is now one of the ?Premier League‘s elite talents, and his disappointing spell with Chelsea is well and truly behind him.


Esteban Cambiasso

Esteban Cambiasso

What’s most interesting about Esteban Cambiasso’s career is that he had to revive himself after leaving ?Real Madrid on two separate occasions.

Part of Los Blancos’ academy, Cambiasso was allowed to return to Argentina in 1998 after struggling to prove himself, but four years in senior football convinced Real to bring him back. However, he couldn’t hold down a permanent spot in the team, starting just nine games in his final season, and was ultimately released in 2004.

??Inter took a chance on him and he did not disappoint. Cambiasso made 431 appearances for I Nerazzurri, winning five ?Serie A titles and the 2009/10 ?Champions League.


Nicolas Anelka

Nicolas Anelka

?One of the hottest attacking prospects around in 1997, Nicolas Anelka lived up to that billing after joining ?Arsenal. He earned a £22.3m move to Real Madrid two years later, but that’s when things came unstuck.

The Frenchman managed just seven goals in 33 appearances and was quickly discarded, but he soon rebuilt his reputation back with PSG.

Anelka then went on to represent the likes of ?Liverpool, Manchester City and Chelsea, scoring a total of 208 goals before retiring in 2015.


Romelu Lukaku

Romelu Lukaku

After blossoming into one of the Premier League’s finest strikers with Everton, Romelu Lukaku earned himself a move to Manchester United in 2017, but his time at Old Trafford yielded mixed results.

Things began well but quickly fell away, and by the time 2019 arrived, many fans were keen to see the back of him as they felt he had nothing to offer anymore.

It turned out that all he needed was a dietary change, and Inter were the ones to give him that. Lukaku has been back to his dominant best under Antonio Conte and is proving all his doubters wrong.


Edin Džeko

Edin Dzeko

Edin Džeko burst on to the scene with Wolfsburg in 2007, firing the team to an unlikely ?Bundesliga title in 2009 and earning himself a move to Manchester City soon after. He won two league titles in England, but rarely looked like an elite talent.

A loan to Roma saved the day, with Džeko eventually finding the kind of form which had him in the conversation for Europe’s top marksman. He fired home 29 goals in his second season at the club, which was nearly double his best numbers with City.

He was on the Ballon d’Or shortlist in 2017 and continues to score an abundance of goals for Roma, which is why he is still regularly linked with blockbuster moves back to England.


Jérôme Boateng

Jerome Boateng

Manchester City spent a long time pursuing a 21-year-old ??Jérôme Boateng, and they eventually got their man in 2010. However, almost as soon as he arrived at the club, it became clear that City didn’t know what to do with him.

Against his wishes, Boateng spent plenty of time as a right-back, and he eventually pushed for a move to ?Bayern Munich as he wanted to join a club who would play him in his preferred central role. In hindsight, that was a good shout.

A core part of one of the most dominant sides in Bundesliga history, Boateng has already lifted seven league titles and the 2012/13 Champions League, and he’s still got time to add to that.


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