Griezmann & Hernandez French connection will ease Atletico transition, says Lemar

Thomas Lemar believes the presence of France team-mates Antoine Griezmann and Lucas Hernandez will help him prove a hit at new club  Atletico Madrid .

The La Liga side beat out strong competition to sign Liverpool-linked Lemar in a reported €60 million (£53m/$70.5m) deal from Monaco .

Part of the Les Bleus squad that prevailed at the World Cup in Russia, the winger passed a medical on Friday, clearing him to train with Diego Simeone’s men for the first time.

Lemar acknowledged the influence of Griezmann and Hernandez in swaying him to the Spanish capital, revealing the pair raved about the atmosphere at Atleti’s 67,000-capacity Wanda Metropolitano home.

“I’m very happy to be here at a club that’s going to help me improve,” Lemar said in a club interview .

“It’s a positive to already know some of my team-mates. Before coming here, they spoke to me about the club and helped me make my decision.

“They’ll surely help me integrate into the team, [which is] full of quality.

“I really want to see the stadium. Antoine and Lucas have talked a lot about it and its atmosphere with me when we were with the national team.”

Atleti have also reinforced with the additions of goalkeeper Antonio Adan, midfielder Rodrigo and Portugal winger Gelson Martins as they attempt remain in title contention with champions Barcelona and city rivals Real Madrid.

Simeone led the club to second place in LaLiga last season, along with a Europa League triumph, and Lemar is excited to work under the Rojiblancos boss.

“I think he’s a great coach. We know what he’s done with Atletico,” the midfielder said.

“He’s going to help me improve and take the next step in my professional career, which is all I ask.”

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Barcelona injury worry as Gomes & Suarez return to Spain from United States tour

Andre Gomes and Denis Suarez have left Barcelona’s tour of the United States to have their injuries assessed, the La Liga champions have announced.

Both midfielders damaged their hamstrings and had to be replaced in an International Champions Cup game against Tottenham on Saturday . 

Gomes is reportedly at risk of being ruled out for up to three months, while Suarez’s injury is believed to be less serious.

Barcelona are reportedly open to offers for Gomes, who has struggled to settle at Camp Nou and has spoken about his mental health struggles.

But injury could scupper a move away for the Portugal international, who joined Barcelona from Valencia in 2016 and has been linked to Premier League sides Arsenal and West Ham.

“Denis Suarez and Andre Gomes return to Barcelona from Los Angeles and will have tests at the Ciutat Esportiva to find out the extent of their injuries,” Barcelona said in a short statement.

Barcelona head coach Ernesto Valverde previously confirmed he was seeking midfield reinforcements , with Paulinho having returned to Guangzhou Evergrande after a single season with the Catalan giants and Andres Iniesta joining Japanese side Vissel Kobe.

Juventus star Miralem Pjanic and Frenkie de Jong of Ajax are among the players to have been linked with Barca, who have signed Clement Lenglet as well as Brazilian duo Arthur and Malcom in preparation for the 2018-19 season.

Barca play Roma and AC Milan in the ICC before Valverde’s men take on Sevilla in the Supercopa de Espana on August 12.

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Victor Moses feeling ‘great to be back‘ with Chelsea

Victor Moses is delighted to make a return for Chelsea in their victory over Inter Milan in an International Champions Cup tie on Saturday.

The Nigeria international missed the Stamford Bridge outfit’s warm-up game against Perth Glory following his participation at the 2018 World Cup.

However, Moses made a return to the side as a substitute  – playing as a winger in Maurizio Sarri’s preferred 4-3-3 setup – after replacing Pedro and converted one of the kicks that helped the Blues defeat resilient Inter 5-4 on penalties after the regular time ended in a 1-1 stalemate.

 The former Wigan Athletic man then took to the social media to share his feeling on rejoining his teammates on the pitch.

“Great to be back out there with the boys,” Moses posted on Instagram.

 

Great to be back out there with the boys! #CFC

A post shared by Victor Moses (@victormoses) on

The versatile player will be expected to play a part when Chelsea clash with Arsenal in their next game in the competition on Wednesday.

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Tuchel wary of discussing Neymar’s World Cup theatrics in public

New Paris Saint-Germain coach Thomas Tuchel is wary about discussing Neymar in public as he feels he has to be “careful” following the Brazil star’s World Cup criticism.

Neymar was consistently at the centre of attention in Russia, with his performances being put under the microscope and his behaviour often commented on too.

The former Barcelona star received flak for his theatrics at the tournament, with then Mexico coach Juan Carlos Osorio calling him an “actor” for his overreactions to challenges and fouls .

Tuchel is yet to meet up with the Brazilian since officially taking charge of first-team operations, but is planning on holding private talks with Neymar when he joins up with the squad.

When asked about whether he will talk to Neymar about his perceived theatrics, Tuchel said: “I must be careful what I say when I speak about Neymar.

“Anything I say about him will be done in a closed space with two ears and two mouths only.

“I know that I have a privileged link with Neymar and I am sure that we will be able to do great things.”

Adrien Rabiot is another who has had a somewhat turbulent close-season, having asked to be taken off France’s list of reserve players prior to the World Cup, before then becoming the subject of regular transfer talk.

Barcelona are said to be particularly keen on him and Rabiot’s future is uncertain due to being in the final year of his contract, but Tuchel wants the midfielder to come out and make a decision.

“I am certain that Adrien can still bring a lot to this club – his club,” Tuchel told reporters.

“It is important to have a youth academy graduate at this level. However, he needs to come out and say that and that is still a big but.”

PSG return to action on Monday with an ICC clash against Atletico Madrid. 

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Newcastle chasing Lejeune replacement as defender faces cruciate ligament surgery

Florian Lejeune has suffered a cruciate ligament injury that means the Newcastle United defender will need surgery, leaving the club in search of replacements. 

Lejeune was absent for Saturday’s pre-season friendly away to Porto and is set for an extended spell on the sidelines.

The 27-year-old’s injury is a major blow to Newcastle given their relative lack of squad depth, although they did complete the signing of defender Fabian Schar from Deportivo La Coruna this week.

They have also signed Japan international striker Yoshinori Muto from Mainz, subject to a work permit.

Manager Rafael Benítez confirmed that his club are on the verge of selling forward Aleksandar Mitrovic to Fulham and the manager hopes that they can quickly turn those funds into cover for Lejeune’s injury. 

“The reality is we have lost Lejeune – he has a cruciate ligament injury, so we will lose him for a while. He will need an operation, and he will need some time,” Benitez said after Newcastle drew with Porto.

“We needed a centre-back before [Lejeune’s injury] and still we need maybe another one. It’s bad news about Lejeune but to see Fabian Schar doing well is important; he will give us this extra option we didn’t have.”

“The deal is done with Fulham and [Mitrovic] has an agreement. So, hopefully we can bring someone to replace him, quickly.

“It’s something we were expecting and it’s now a case of looking to see if we can bring someone else to replace him.

“We are working and trying to bring in new players to bring in new competition. It means we can bring in another striker and we can be stronger.

“We did this business with Muto because we needed to do something more. I don’t control the accounts but, if you do the maths, we have enough money.”

Newcastle open their Premier League campaign with a clash against Tottenham on August 11. 

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