Barcelona move a ‘dream come true’ for Boateng

Kevin-Prince Boateng described his move to Barcelona as a “dream” after the midfielder’s shock loan switch was confirmed on Monday.

Boateng, 31, j oined the La Liga giants on loan from Serie A side Sassuolo for the rest of the season, with an €8 million (£7m/$9m) purchase option included.

Barca will pay a €2m loan fee for Boateng to feature for them the remainder of the season.

The former AC Milan and Tottenham midfielder said it was a dream to get an opportunity to play for Barca.

“I’m very happy. It’s a big honour to be here and have the possibility to play for this great club,” Boateng told Barca TV.

“For every kid who starts to play football I think it is a dream to play for a club like Barcelona, so for every player and especially for me it’s a big dream come true.”

Boateng only arrived at Sassuolo from Eintracht Frankfurt in July last year, making 15 appearances for the club.

Boateng has been included in Barcelona’s squad for Wednesday’s Copa del Rey trip to Sevilla, and could be set to make his debut. 

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I’m not his father – Guardiola demands Mendy matures

Pep Guardiola believes Manchester City’s Benjamin Mendy has the potential to be a top-class left-back but wants the defender to show more maturity, noting: “I’m not his father.”

Mendy’s career since joining City from Monaco has been heavily disrupted by a series of injuries, the most recent of which has kept him on the sidelines for two months.

But Mendy is set to return to action as City head to Burton Albion for the second leg of the Carabao Cup semi-final on Wednesday, holding a 9-0 lead from the first leg.

His availability will be a huge boost for the Premier League champions as they compete for honours on multiple fronts, with Guardiola having had to use Fabian Delph, Aymeric Laporte and Oleksandr Zinchenko as makeshift left-backs in Mendy’s absence.

The 24-year-old has become popular for his inimitable, inventive use of social media – racking up over a million Twitter followers – and while Guardiola is thrilled to welcome Mendy back he wants the defender to show more focus on his football.

“I am delighted with Benjamin,” Guardiola told a news conference. “I am sad because we were not able to play him because of injuries but that sometimes happens.

“The way he is training, the way he is in the locker room… you cannot imagine how much the people love him. I am delighted – I just want to use him more! That’s all.

“I am not unhappy with Mendy [using social media heavily]. I am not here to change his mentality. His way, the way he lives… is what it is. When we bought him, we knew it.

“So, when we are talking about training sessions, always it’s perfect but he is active on social media. He likes to be. It is what it is. 

“We try to convince him, but I’m not his father! [I tell him]: ‘Be focused on your job and what we have to do. You are young, and you can be one of the best left-backs, but it’s up to you.'”

Eric Garcia is set to be one of a number of young players given a chance to impress by Guardiola, with his side in such a dominant position against Burton.

The defender’s long-term City future appears assured but Guardiola indicated he is unsure whether or not the teenager would benefit from a loan spell.

“I can count on him,” Guardiola said of the 18-year-old. “He showed me an incredible personality in the EFL Cup [ties against Leicester City and Burton], and especially in pre-season when he played with younger players.

“It’s easier when you are a young player to come in and play close to Nico [Otamendi], or David Silva or Kevin [De Bruyne] – but play there with six, seven young academy players, and he was really the captain, and he guides and he leads in three hard games.

“He was incredibly good. In the EFL Cup he was good. But he’s young. Is he a third, fourth defender, one more year in academy, or do we loan? We are going to decide in the next months what happens next season.

“But I am incredibly satisfied, not just with the games but the way he trains, his behaviour, how polite he is, how he listens, how when he has doubts, he always asks myself, my staff, Mikel [Arteta].

“He is so smart, so intelligent. He understands everything so quick. His physicality is not so strong, but he resolves situations by thinking. I like to work with intelligent people and he is one of them.”

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Barcelona make bumper offer to land De Jong ahead of PSG and Man City

Barcelona are ready to pay Frenkie de Jong €16 million (£14m/$18m) a year in order to beat a host of rivals to the young Ajax midfielder’s signature, Goal understands.

The 21-year-old is one of Europe’s most sought-after young players after impressing in the Ajax midfield since making his debut in 2016.

De Jong’s profile increased still further when he broke into the Netherlands side earlier this campaign and it seems a big-money move is not far away.

Barcelona have long been linked with a move for the talented youngster but face competition from Real Madrid, Paris Saint-Germain and Manchester City.

Man City were previously thought to be leading the race after telling Ajax they were willing to pay €70m plus €20m in bonuses to sign De Jong.

However, the Catalan club see De Jong as a key player for the future and are ready to offer bumper personal terms in order to edge ahead of the Premier League champions in the race to sign him.

Barca are willing to offer De Jong a net salary of €10m per season, plus €6m more in relatively easy-to-achieve bonuses based on trophies and appearances.

That would represent a break in their policy of offering young players such high wages but reflects how highly the club’s board rate De Jong and their determination to sign him.

The offer is so good that even De Jong is said to be surprised at how much the Blaugranes are prepared to pay in order to take him to Catalonia.

PSG and Man City remain in the hunt for De Jong but Goal understands that Barcelona are confident the midfielder and his agent are happy with their offer and that he would prefer a move to Camp Nou.

Once they are confident of landing De Jong, Ernesto Valverde’s side are ready to open negotiations with Ajax and would have no issue paying in excess of the reported €70m transfer fee.

De Jong admitted last week that he was growing tired of the speculation about his future and was eager to make a decision quickly and it seems his new club could be decided very soon.

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Gold Cup 2019: Teams, fixtures, dates & everything you need to know

The 2019 Concacaf Gold Cup will be the 15th edition of the tournament, the biennial international men’s football championship of the North, Central American, and Caribbean region overseen by Concacaf.

This summer’s edition will be held in the United States, with Costa Rica and a to-be-confirmed Caribbean country also hosting two games in the first round of matches in Groups B and C.

The winner of the Concacaf Gold Cup will play against the United States, who are defending champions of the 2017 edition, in the 2019 Concacaf Cup – a one-match play-off fixture to decide the qualifying country to participate in the 2021 Confederations Cup. In the event that the USMNT win the 2019 Gold Cup, they will automatically qualify for the Confederations Cup as 2017 and 2019 champions.

With the qualification stages set to conclude in March, here is everything you need to know ahead of this summer’s tournament.


Concacaf Gold Cup 2019 qualified teams


Among the 16 participating teams, six qualify directly after participating in the 2018 World Cup qualifying Hexagonal, while the remaining 10 teams qualify through the 2019–20 Concacaf Nations League qualifying (which is to conclude in March 2019).

Team Gold Cup appearances Last appearance Best finish
Mexico 15th 2017 Champions (1993, 1996, 1998, 2003, 2009, 2011, 2015)
Costa Rica (H) 14th 2017 Runners-up (2002)
Panama 9th 2017 Runners-up (2005, 2013)
Honduras 14th 2017 Runners-up (1991)
United States (H) 15th 2017 Champions (1991, 2002, 2005, 2007, 2013, 2017)
Trinidad and Tobago 10th 2015 Third place (2000

Concacaf Gold Cup 2019 host cities


In 2019, the Concacaf Gold Cup will be held in 15 different venues across 12 different cities in the United States and Costa Rica, and it will be the first time that the Gold Cup will be held in Central America – with all previous matches having taken place in the United States, Mexico and Canada.

Of the 15 venues, 11 will stage at least two group stage games. The breakdown of venues and games can be seen in the table below.

Round Stadium City
Group stage Rose Bowl Los Angeles, California
Group stage Broncos Stadium at Mile High Denver, Colorado
Group stage Bank of America Stadium Charlotte, North Carolina
Group stage Estadio Nacional de Costa Rica San Jose, Costa Rica
Group stage Toyota Stadium Frisco, Texas
Group stage Red Bull Arena Harrison, New Jersey
Group stage BBVA Compass Stadium Houston, Texas
Group stage Banc of California Stadium Los Angeles, California
Group stage Allianz Field Saint Paul, Minnesota
Group stage FirstEnergy Stadium Cleveland, Ohio
Group stage Children’s Mercy Park Kansas City, Kansas
Quarter-finals NRG Stadium Houston, Texas
Quater-finals Lincoln Financial Field Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Semi-finals State Farm Stadium Glendale, Arizona
Semi-finals Nissan Stadium Nashville, Tennessee
Final Soldier Field Chicago, Illinois

Where is the 2019 Concacaf Gold Cup final?


Soldier Field Chicago

The final of the 2019 Concacaf Gold Cup will be held at Soldier Field in Chicago, which is home to the NFL’s Chicago Bears. It has a capacity of 61,500 and the final will be held on July 7, 2019.

It has previously served as the home venue for major sports teams, including the Chicago Cardinals, University of Notre Dame football, MLS side Chicago Fire, as well as games from the 1994 World Cup, the 1999 Women’s World Cup, and several Concacaf Gold Cup games.

In 1968, Soldier Field hosted the first Games of the Special Olympics and it is the third-smallest stadium in the NFL.


2019 Concacaf Gold Cup format


Javier Hernandez Mexico South Korea World Cup 2018

This year’s edition of the Gold Cup will feature 16 teams, an increase from the previous 12, broken into four groups of four teams each. 

The winner and runner-up of each group will automatically progress to the knockout stages, with the bottom two group finishers being eliminated.


Concacaf Gold Cup 2019 group stage


The match dates were confirmed by Concacaf on October 9, 2018, with the rest of the qualified teams to be confirmed in March 2019.

The top two teams from each group will qualify for the quarter-finals.

Group A

Position Team Played W D L GD Qualification
1 Mexico 0 0 0 0 0 Advance to knockout stage
2 A2 0 0 0 0 0 Advance to knockout stage
3 A3 0 0 0 0 0  
4 A4 0 0 0 0 0  

 

Group B

Position Team Played W D L GD Qualification
1 Costa Rica (H) 0 0 0 0 0 Advance to knockout stage
2 B2 0 0 0 0 0 Advance to knockout stage
3 B3 0 0 0 0 0  
4 B4 0 0 0 0 0  

 

Group C

Position Team Played W D L GD Qualification
1 Honduras 0 0 0 0 0 Advance to knockout stage
2 C2 0 0 0 0 0 Advance to knockout stage
3 C3 0 0 0 0 0  
4 C4 0 0 0 0 0  

 

Group D

Position Team Played W D L GD Qualification
1 United States (H) 0 0 0 0 0 Advance to knockout stage
2 D2 0 0 0 0 0 Advance to knockout stage
3 D3 0 0 0 0 0  
4 D4 0 0 0 0 0  

 


Concacaf Gold Cup 2019 tickets


Specific details on how to purchase tickets to the 2019 Concacaf Gold Cup are set to be released soon, though in the meantime, supporters can head to the Concacaf official website and sign up to be the first to hear all the major announcements.


Who are past winners of the Concacaf Gold Cup?


USMNT Gold Cup 2017

The United States head into the tournament as defending champions, two years after beating Jamaica 2-1 in the final.

Mexico were winners of the 2015 edition when they also beat Jamaica in the final, this time in a 3-1 victory, and are expected to be favourites for this year’s edition. El Tri are the most successful team in the tournament’s history, picking up a record seven titles from 1993 to 2014, and were third-place finishers in 2017.

Canada are one-time winners of the Concacaf Gold Cup, winning the tournament in 2000 – and these three countries are the only nations to have ever won a Concacaf Gold Cup.

Panama are twice runners-up, in 2005 and 2013, alongside Jamaica and Brazil, while the likes of Honduras, Costa Rica and Colombia have all made the final on one occasion each.

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Piatek set for Milan medical, clearing the way for Higuain to join Chelsea

Genoa striker Krzysztof Piatek is set for a medical at Milan on Wednesday morning, Goal understands. 

With the Polish striker joining the Rossoneri, on-loan forward Gonzalo Higuain will be clear to complete his long-rumoured move to Chelsea. 

Chelsea will land Higuain on a six-month loan with an option to buy the striker outright at season’s end for £32.5 million (€36m). 

Higuain spent the first half of the season with Milan on loan from Juventus, with the Rossoneri keen to find a replacement before sanctioning the Argentine’s move to Stamford Bridge. 

That replacement will come in the form of Piatek, who has shot to prominence this term by scoring 19 goals in 21 games with Genoa. 

Milan will reportedly pay €35 million (£31m/$40m) to land the 23-year-old Polish international, who has been compared to his countryman Robert Lewandowski. 

Piatek and Higuain were both left out for their respective sides on Monday, as Milan defeated Genoa 2-0 in Serie A action. 

Prior to the match, Milan boss Gennaro Gattuso lamented the way Higuain had been affected by consistent talk of him joining his former manager Maurizio Sarri at Chelsea. 

“I want to be honest with you all. We had a poor training session today due to all these rumours,” Gattuso said.

“We spoke after the training session and I did not consider him [Higuain] ready for this game.

“I accept his decision. Surely he could have done more and maybe we could have helped him fit in better.”

Higuain has not hit his usual goalscoring standards this term, netting just eight times in all competitions for the Rossoneri. 

He will look to reignite a Chelsea attack that has suffered as Olivier Giroud and Alvaro Morata have failed to hit top form at the striker position this term. 

Morata also appears to be on the move, as Goal understands Chelsea have reached an agreement with Atletico Madrid to allow the Spain striker to leave on loan, with the Liga club having a £48.5m ($62m) option to sign the forward on a permanent basis.

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