ISL 2018-19: FC Goa keen to offload Bruno Pinheiro; Jamshedpur FC want to sell Wellington Priori

The fifth season of the Indian Super League (ISL) is expected to commence in less than eight week’s time. However, two clubs, FC Goa and Jamshedpur FC, have a few niggling issues they need to resolve. 

Bruno Pinheiro, the former Portugal U20 defender re-joined FC Goa last season after having turned out for them in the inaugural edition of the ISL in 2014. The 30-year-old could garner only nine league starts in 2017-18 in contrast to him playing in all the league games during his first stint.

Under coach Sergio Lobera, Pinheiro was the first choice for the initial part of the season before an injury to him helped Sergi ‘Chechi’ Juste cement his spot in the first team. Pinheiro did get his chance again in the Super Cup once a handful of the foreigners departed.

Bruno Filipe Tavares Pinheiro of FC Goa during ISL match

He was given captaincy duties but fell in the middle of a controversy when he was dished out a three-match ban after being involved in the half-time scuffle in the tunnel during the quarter-final against Jamshedpur FC.

The former Hapoel Haifa man enters the final year of his contract and is yearning for more game time this upcoming season. “He wants more playing time which we can’t guarantee, of course, so we are trying to find a solution where both benefit,” an FC Goa official commented on the situation.

The signings of Carlos Pena and Mourtada Fall push Pinheiro further behind the pecking order and it remains to be seen if his name appears on the final squad list, which is to be submitted to the ISL by 1st September.

Jamshedpur FC NorthEast United Wellington Priori

On the other hand, Jamshedpur FC are more than keen to offload Wellington Priori. Former coach Steve Coppell brought the Brazilian in during the winter transfer window and he proved to be a hit, scoring three goals in nine ISL appearances.

Coppell though has moved on to ATK and the Red Miners have brought in former Atletico de Madrid manager Cesar Ferrando. While Priori’s game thrived under the defensive-style football under Coppell, the Jamshedpur FC management fears the 28-year-old will be ill-suited to the new Spanish coach’s tactics. 

“He (Priori) signed a contract till the end of the season. But nothing is confirmed yet. We fly out to Madrid for pre-season training in mid-August and it will depend on the coach if he wants to keep him or not,” revealed a source close to Goal.

However, Goal can confirm that Jamshedpur FC have reached out to other ISL clubs, offering Wellington Priori. Similarly, FC Goa are also offering Bruno Pinheiro to ISL clubs. 

It would not be a surprise if Pinheiro and Priori leave FC Goa and Jamshedpur FC in the coming weeks. 

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Navas continues showing his class, even with Madrid ready to replace him

In a match that served as a good microcosm of his time as Real Madrid’s first-choice goalkeeper, Keylor Navas made the saves he needed to make and helped Los Blancos to another victory in the final match of another tournament.

No, the ICC finale win over Roma didn’t carry anywhere near the importance of the three Champions League finals Navas won, but Tuesday’s win carried significance in that it might symbolize in the end of Navas’ time as Real Madrid’s starter in goal.

Thibaut Courtois’s looming move from Chelsea to Real Madrid feels more and more likely with each passing day. Goal reported on Tuesday that Chelsea are prepared to trigger Kepa Arrizabalaga’s €80 million (£71m/$92m) release clause, meaning that by the time the Spanish giants take the field next week in the UEFA Super Cup, Navas could find himself relegated to the bench, finally replaced after spending years as the Iker Casillas replacement nobody wanted, but that won title after title anyway.

It was, after all, the most famous fax machine malfunction in Real Madrid transfer history that paved the way for Navas to become Real Madrid’s starter. David De Gea was long seen as the inevitable heir to Casillas’ throne as Real Madrid starter. But a failed last-minute transfer bid, which died out purportedly at the hands of a faulty Manchester United fax machine, meant that Navas would have his chance as starter.

The Costa Rican star made the most of that opportunity, helping Madrid to the first of three Champions League titles the club would win in row with him manning the goal. He wasn’t just along for the ride either. Navas established himself as a big-game player and fan favorite, and as his trophy count grew. The calls to replace him grew quiet, at least among fans.

Unfortunately for Navas, Real Madrid never stopped wanting to upgrade. De Gea’s shadow continued to loom and just when it finally appeared as though the Spanish star would stay put at Manchester United, Real Madrid set its sights on another goalkeeper in Courtois.

It didn’t come as much of a surprise. After all, Navas endured one of his tougher seasons in goal, with the mistakes coming more frequently than before. But Navas had continued to find a way to deliver in the biggest of matches, as his form in the Champions League knock-out rounds showed.

Navas didn’t have much to do on Tuesday night, with his first-half stop of a good shot from Edin Dzeko serving as his big highlight. But it seemed fitting that he played the full match and helped his side to a win – he would have even had the clean sheet had some shoddy marking left Kevin Strootman unmarked at the six – before what will likely be a record-setting transfer for Courtois.

Thibaut Courtois Chelsea

There will be no tears shed for Navas’ expected demotion. After all, he watched on as a legend’s time at Real Madrid ended, backing up Casillas during his final campaign as starter, and this summer’s departure of Cristiano Ronaldo offered a clear reminder that Real Madrid are a club that stands still for no one.

Navas is still just 31 and even if he winds up spending the upcoming season as Courtois’ back-up, he should be able to generate transfer interest in the summer of 2019. There will be no shame in Navas having to move on to continue as a starter, just as there was no shame in Casillas moving to FC Porto.

No matter what happens from here on out, Navas has a place in Real Madrid history, with the three Champions League titles he helped win and the many big performances he delivered. It is that track record that makes it feel a bit unjust that he is being pushed aside, and it is that history that made Tuesday’s match feel like the end of an unlikely era in Real Madrid’s goal.

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‘For now, he is a Lyon player’ – Genesio braced for more Fekir interest

Lyon coach Bruno Genesio is unable to offer assurances over Nabil Fekir’s future at the club.

The France international forward was close to joining Liverpool in July before the Ligue 1 club withdrew from negotiations .

Chelsea, who defeated Lyon on penalties in an International Champions Cup meeting on Tuesday, have been linked with a move for the 25-year-old, while La Liga giants Real Madrid have also been mentioned as a possible suitor. 

Fekir returned to training with Lyon this week, but his manager is braced for more interest to come in on the player. 

“It’s too early to say,” he told a news conference when questioned about the player’s future.

“He wanted to leave at the end of last season, but came back to training yesterday and was happy.

“Who knows? There may be opportunities that come up before the end of the window. For now, he is a Lyon player.”

Lyon kick off their Ligue 1 campaign against Amiens on Sunday. 

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Alderweireld ‘all day’ over Maguire, says Man Utd legend Ferdinand

Manchester United should be favouring Tottenham’s Toby Alderweireld over Leicester defender Harry Maguire, says Rio Ferdinand, while they also need to get the best out of Paul Pogba.

The Red Devils are scrambling around trying to find a new centre-half ahead of Thursday’s transfer deadline, with several options having been considered as the summer window runs down.

Belgium international Alderweireld appears to have emerged as the favoured choice of Jose Mourinho, with Goal revealing that a compromise has been reached with Spurs over a fee, and that decision is supported by Ferdinand.

The former United defender told the Mirror: “Harry Maguire did great at the World Cup, but of the players potentially available he would not be my first choice. I would go for Alderweireld, all day long, because he is suited to the way United play.

“But it will take more than a quality defender to galvanise them, and this is where you have to respect Mourinho’s track record and his history of winning trophies.

“Do I think he will still be manager of Manchester United this time next year? Put it this way: I hope so, because if he is still there, it means they have been successful and won something.

“I wouldn’t write him off. He has won 20 trophies as a manager.

“He knows how to galvanise teams by instilling a siege mentality sometimes and he is going to need all his dark arts to create that atmosphere of ‘Manchester United against the world’ to make them formidable again.

“But it’s not just new signings that is going to be the catalyst. It’s the manager who sets the tone, and he’s got a few big issues to address.”

Paul Pogba France 2018

One of the biggest challenges facing Mourinho is bringing the best out of Pogba, with the Frenchman having shown during a triumphant World Cup campaign with his country this summer what he is capable of when confident and played in a favoured role.

Ferdinand added: “He’s got to get Paul Pogba to play for United the way he did for France at the World Cup.

“The talent at Mourinho’s disposal is undeniable. But can he get the best out of them, and play in a way that maximises their ability?

“It’s going to be a big ask for United to win the title, and I’m afraid I would be surprised if they made serious inroads in the Champions League as well.”

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Hazard, Kante and Giroud set to miss Chelsea’s season opener

Maurizio Sarri is unlikely to select Chelsea’s World Cup stars for his first Premier League game in charge away to Huddersfield Town on Saturday.

World Cup winners N’Golo Kante and Olivier Giroud have spent little time working with the new head coach, who succeeded fellow Italian Antonio Conte at Stamford Bridge.

Star winger Eden Hazard is another key man to have played little part in pre-season, having been given time off after he inspired Belgium to reach the semi-finals at Russia 2018.

Sarri also has a question mark hanging over Hazard’s Belgium team-mate Thibaut Courtois, who skipped training this week as the goalkeeper seemingly tries to force a move to Real Madrid.

Kante, Giroud and Hazard came off the bench in the second half of a 0-0 draw against Lyon in the International Champions Cup on Tuesday, but Sarri feels it is too soon for them to play a competitive game.

“They arrived yesterday or the day before,” Sarri told reporters after Chelsea beat Lyon 5-4 on penalties, Hazard scoring the winning spot-kick after Rob Green denied Pape Diop.

“It was better for them to play 25 minutes than to have a training session alone with the physical coach. They have to work, obviously.

“I’m very happy. I can work with all my players for the first time tomorrow, so we have only three days to prepare for the next match. And the next match will be very important. Very, very, very important.”

Asked directly if it would be difficult for the trio to face Huddersfield, Sarri said: “Yes, I think so. Especially all together.”

Houssem Aouar Ruben Loftus-Cheek Chelsea Lyon ICC 2018

While Kante is a doubt to play in Saturday’s Premier League opener after helping Les Bleus to win the World Cup, Ruben Loftus-Cheek shone in midfield.

Hazard has called for the England international to be given more opportunities at Chelsea and Sarri is excited by the 22-year-old’s potential.

“He’s potentially a great player,” Sarri said. “He has to improve from the tactical point of view.

“But I think that’s not a problem. He’s very young. I think he can be a very beautiful player for us.”

Chelsea are not known for showing patience with managers but Sarri feels it will take time for his plan to come together.

“I think that we have to work,” Sarri added. “But we started to work, to work two days ago.

“But I think, potentially, we can become in two or three months a very good team.”

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