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Man City stars dominate PFA Premier League Team of the Year

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Manchester City lead the way in the PFA Team of the Year, with the champions seeing six players make the cut.

Pep Guardiola’s side cruised to their third title in four years, eventually beating out Manchester United by a 12-point margin.

City conceded just 32 goals in the entire Premier League season and that defensive solidity has been reflected in four of their back five being honoured.

Ederson, who also won the Golden Glove award with 19 clean sheets, the second campaign on the spin that the Brazilian has scooped that prize, is the choice in between the sticks.

The Football Writers’ Player of the Year, Ruben Dias is included, while his defensive colleagues John Stones and Joao Cancelo have also been named.

Luke Shaw is the final defender, symbolising his dramatic turnaround in form under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer this term.

The England international’s place at Old Trafford looked under threat at the start of the season following Alex Telles’ arrival, but he has emerged as one of the top-flight’s most consistent defensive players.

City also dominate in midfield with Kevin De Bruyne and Ilkay Gundogan both selected by their fellow pros.

De Bruyne is one of just two players to make the XI in both of the last two seasons, with the Belgian registering six goals and 12 assists in just 25 league appearances.

Gundogan meanwhile enjoyed his best scoring season of his career, netting 13 in the Premier League, more than in his previous three campaigns combined.

Bruno Fernandes’ brilliant first full season in England has been recognised, after scoring 28 times and picking up 18 assists in all competitions.

Mohamed Salah is the only Liverpool player named, down from five following their Premier League triumph in 2019/20.

Despite failing to replicate their heroics as a team, the Egyptian still scored 22 goals, a tally only bettered by Tottenham ’s Harry Kane.

The Spurs striker plundered 23 in the league as he continues to move up the all-time scoring charts. Kane also laid on 14 goals for his teammates in a stunning season.

PFA Team of the Year: Ederson (Man City); Cancelo (Man City), Stones (Man City), Dias (Man City), Shaw (Man Utd); De Bruyne (Man City), Gundogan (Man City), Fernandes (Man Utd); Salah (Liverpool), Kane (Spurs), Son (Tottenham).

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Siasia rejects five-year ban

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CAS Reduces Siasia’s Life Ban to Five Years

Super Eagles Former Coach, Samson Siasia, does not accept the Court of Arbitration for Sport’s (CAS) verdict on the match-fixing charge brought against him by world football governing body, FIFA, an associate of the Olympic silver medallist, Waidi Akanni, has said.

In 2019, FIFA banned Siasia from all football related activities for life over an alleged plot to fix matches. In addition, the world body also imposed a CHF 50,000 fine on the former Super Eagles striker.

FIFA based the sanction against Siasia on his liaison with Wilson Raj Perumal, a convicted match-fixer from Singapore. FIFA said it tried to contact Siasia via email, adding, however, that the coach never replied any of its messages.

FIFA had said in 2019 that Siasia was ‘guilty of having accepted that he would receive bribes in relation to the manipulation of matches in violation of the FIFA Code of Ethics’ and also fined 50,000 Swiss francs ($54,000).’

Shocked by FIFA’s judgment, Siasia ran to CAS to seek justice. CAS earlier scheduled hearing on the case on March 19, 2020, but later postponed it severally owing to the outbreak of the novel Coronavirus and the travel restrictions that came with the virus.

The world adjudicatory body recently held the session virtually, giving Siasia the chance to answer to the charges.

In its verdict yesterday, CAS said the imposition of a life ban was ‘disproportionate for a first offence which was committed passively and which had not had an adverse or immediate effect on football stakeholders.’

“The panel acknowledged the need for sanctions to be sufficiently high enough to eradicate bribery and especially match fixing in football,” CAS said.

“However, the panel considered in the particular circumstances of this matter that it would be inappropriate and excessive to impose a financial sanction in addition to the five-year ban since the ban sanction already incorporated a financial punishment in eliminating football as a source of revenue for Mr. Siasia.”

But, according to Akanni, Siasia is shocked that CAS could still punish him for ‘an offence he did not commit.’

Akanni queried the wisdom in the judgment, saying a guilty verdict cannot be based on ‘passive crime.’

He said: “I am not a lawyer, but CAS showed from its statements that it has no evidence to prove that Siasia accepted to fix games.

“What is the meaning of passive crime? Who are the players he recruited to want to rig games. The guy wanted to give him a job and nothing else. The fight is still on.

“Siasia will eventually release the emails he exchanged with Perumal. There was no collateral damage to anybody. If they had any evidence they should release it to the world.”

Akanni said that Siasia didn’t know of the judgment until he called to inform him, adding, “unfortunately, Samson doesn’t read his emails.

“I am shocked that after paying all the money, this is the judgment he gets. They had a zoom meeting with CAS and he stated everything that transpired between him and Perumal. They know that if they freed him, he would sue them for disrupting his life unjustly for two years. The battle is still on.”

Akanni called on Nigerians to rally round Siasia.

“Why should they reduce a life ban to five years if they had any evidence he committed any crime.”

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Rafa Benitez edges closer to Everton job despite fans backlash

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Rafa Benitez has held further discussions with Everton’s owners, to take an important step closer to the manager’s job.

We understand secret talks were held at the weekend, with the former Liverpool manager’s representatives thrashing out the finer details of a deal which now looks set to be confirmed in the coming days.

A backlash from fans last week – with thousands making clear their anger at the prospective appointment – seemed to have dampened the enthusiasm of majority shareholder Farhad Moshiri and his backers.

But that did not stall talks completely, and the Benitez camp remain confident that the Everton hierarchy will confirm a contract after several positive meetings.

Moshiri was said to be ‘nervous’ about the reaction of Blues supporters, with several banners placed outside Goodison Park sending uncompromising messages bluntly stating that the Spanish coach was not welcome.

But it seems only a full fan revolt can not stop an appointment which would prove hugely divisive at a club that has endured a catalogue of troubles since Moshiri arrived as owner.

His successor to Carlo Ancelotti – who walked out for Real Madrid after less than 18 months in charge – will be his sixth in five years, and several of his appointments were greeted with hostility by fans.

Sam Allardyce had his contract paid up after less than six months because the fanbase refused to accept him and style of football at the club.

Benitez has provoked a similar response, but Moshiri has allies in the likes of influential club sponsor Alisher Usmanov, which has given him the confidence to continue talks with a manager who is still so closely associated with the Blues’ biggest rivals.

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Real Madrid reject Man Utd’s Paul Pogba ‘straight swap’ transfer proposal

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Real Madrid are reportedly set to reject an offer from Manchester United for Raphael Varane that will include a swap for Paul Pogba.

Varane is a top target for the Red Devils this summer, who are looking to provide Harry Maguire with a world-class partner at centre-back.

Four-time Champions League winner and World Cup champion Varane is expected to cost around £80m.

But with just one year left to run on his contract, United are hoping that they can strike up a deal worth considerably less.

Reports in Spain suggest the Red Devils are keen to pay no more than £35m to keep enough funds to secure a deal for Jadon Sancho from Borussia Dortmund.

Now though, the Old Trafford board are said to be favouring a swap deal for Varane, with Pogba heading the other way.

Pogba, Varane’s international team-mate with France, has been strongly linked with a move to Real in recent years, even describing it as him “dream” in 2020.

AS claim that United are ready to offer the La Liga side a straight swap – Pogba for Varane.

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