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Abramovich backs Thomas Tuchel to discipline Romelu Lukaku over Chelsea outburst



Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich has reportedly backed Thomas Tuchel ’s stance to discipline star striker Romelu Lukaku.

Abramovich footed the bill when Chelsea splashed out a club-record £97.5million to sign Lukaku from Inter Milan in the summer.

But the Russian was in favour of Tuchel’s decision to leave the 28-year-old out of the squad to play Liverpool in Sunday’s 2-2 draw at Stamford Bridge after his eyebrow-raising interview last week.

Lukaku gave an unauthorised interview to Sky Sports Italia in which he admitted he was “not happy” with his current situation with the Blues.

According to The Telegraph , Lukaku is now set to be reintegrated into the squad for Chelsea’s Carabao Cup semi-final first leg against Tottenham on Wednesday night.

But only after the Belgian was urged to issue a public apology in order to try and draw a line under the saga, which has engulfed the club over the past six days.

Chelsea director Marina Granovskaia was reportedly involved in talks behind the scenes with Lukaku, showing the seriousness of the situation.

The Daily Mail says that some Chelsea players are opposed to the treatment of Lukaku, who is believed to have been surprised by the strength of the reaction to his comments.

Chelsea have refused to comment on whether Lukaku will be fined for giving the interview, which was intended to placate Inter Milan fans, and then keeping it a secret for three weeks.

He was back in training at Chelsea’s Cobham training centre on Monday after holding a meeting with Tuchel.

The pair are believed to have cleared the air ahead of two cup ties against Tottenham and an FA Cup match against Chesterfield.

“The thing got too big, the thing got too noisy so close to the match,” Tuchel told Sky Sports ahead of the Liverpool game. “So I decided to protect the preparation of the match, that’s why he’s out.

Asked if he had spoken to Lukaku, he said: “Of course. We have spoken, we’ve spoken twice and spoken to the main players, of course.

“After that we have to realise it’s too close to the match, it’s too big. We delayed the decision of what to do, and whilst we are delaying it we need to protect the preparation of the match.

“We have a big match of football to play and we need full focus, which anyway is hard to get even with this decision.

“But it is, in my opinion, easier if he is not in the squad and that’s why we did it.”


Pep Guardiola to be offered Holland job when he decides to leave Man City



Pep Guardiola will be offered the chance to take Total Football back home when he decides to leave Manchester City – by becoming manager of Holland.

The KNVB (Dutch FA) have drawn up plans to convince the City boss that he should realise his dream of becoming an international coach with the Oranje once his Etihad reign comes to an end.

Guardiola, 51, has a contract with City that expires in the summer of 2023.

And the Premier League champions are hoping the Catalan can be persuaded to extend his stay in Manchester even further.

The Dutch sounded out Guardiola about his future plans before he signed a new two-year extension with City last August.

They were told that the former Barcelona and Bayern Munich boss had unfinished business with the Blues.

But a future link-up was not discounted.

Guardiola is represented by his brother, Pere, who recently joined forces with influential Dutch agency SEG.

He has made no secret that he harbours an ambition to manage a top international nation.

And the prospect of taking charge of the country of his mentor Johan Cruyff would be tantalising given it was Holland’s brilliant team of the 1970s that introduced Total Football to the world.

Cruyff brought Guardiola through from Barcelona’s youth team to play as a deep-lying midfielder in the team that won the club’s first Champions League in 1992.

The late Dutchman’s influence on the City boss is so profound that Guardiola once said: “I knew nothing about football before knowing Cruyff.”

His coaching beliefs have been shaped by the Total Football philosophy that had Cruyff at its heart when Holland reached the 1974 World Cup final before losing to West Germany.

The KNVB turned to 70-year-old Louis van Gaal for a third time after sacking Frank de Boer in the summer following a disappointing Euros.

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Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang provides update after return to Arsenal for heart tests



Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has confirmed he’s “absolutely fine” after returning to London for health checks.

The Arsenal forward was away at AFCON with Gabon when he experienced some heart issues.

A scan revealed possible issues after Aubameyang tested positive for Covid 19 in the lead up to the tournament.

The Gunners recalled the 32-year-old, who is currently not being selected by Mikel Arteta following a disciplinary breach.

Aubameyang has taken to social media to share that he is “completely healthy” following further tests.

He said on Instagram : “Hi guys, I came back to London to do some additional checks, and I’m very happy to say that my heart is absolutely fine and I’m completely healthy!! Really appreciate all the messages over the last few days and I’m already back at it”

Gabon boss Patrice Neveu revealed that Arsenal were keen to get their player back once news of his possible issues broke.

He said, as quoted by Sky Sports : “What I know is that they’ve been Covid free for the last 72 hours. We couldn’t arrange an MRI for them, and as a result they couldn’t train.

“It was really annoying for them to stay in their rooms. We made the decision yesterday with the President and under pressure from the clubs too, because they’re worried so that [Aubameyang] should go back to Arsenal and Mario [Lemina] back to Nice.”

Despite Mikel Arteta’s recent shunning of the forward, Neveu did admit that it was the club’s right to recall their player.

Aubameyang is currently out of the first team picture as his future remains up in the air.

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AFCON 2021: Nigeria to play Tunisia in Round of 16



Nigeria will take on Tunisia in the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations Africa Cup of Nations Round of 16.

This was confirmed on Thursday, following the completion of all group games in the competition.

The Super Eagles finished top of Group D ahead of Egypt, Sudan and Guinea-Bissau.

The Carthage Eagles lost 1-0 to Gambia in their final Group F clash.

Nigeria’s match against Tunisia will be played on Saturday, January 23.

Kick off is 8pm.

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