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NOT AGAIN! Rebel clubs hold key Super League talks in bid to relaunch controversial plans

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Senior officials from Real Madrid, Barcelona and Juventus have recently held fresh meetings as they attempt to revive their plans for the so-called European Super League.

The project was launched in April last year but swiftly fell apart at the seams after nine of its 12 founding member clubs withdrew their support of the plans.

However, Madrid, Barca and Juve have continued to publicly back the controversial proposals and the project is now set to return with multiple reforms in a bid to win widespread support.

In October, the trio agreed on five key changes to the proposed competition rules – the first major move in their attempts to revive the idea.

That followed on from the three club’s jointly hiring a major London-based PR firm as they aimed to make a concentrated effort to change public opinion – after mass fan protests in the UK were the major factor in the original abandoning of the idea.

The Premier League ’s so-called ‘big six’ clubs of Manchester United, Manchester City, Liverpool, Chelsea, Arsenal and Tottenham all swiftly distanced themselves from the plans after a significant supporter backlash in April.

Italian giants Milan and Inter, alongside Spanish club Atletico Madrid, also confirmed they could no longer support the idea – leaving just three clubs left to cheerlead for it.

Madrid, Barca and Juve are now hopeful of relaunching the proposal this year and are discussing a legal approach that would create a sustainable project.

Last August, Florentino Perez, Joan Laporta and Andre Agnelli – the three respective top leaders of the clubs – held a meeting in which the foundations of a project in which they continue to believe was discussed.

Real Madrid president Perez is thought to be the driving force behind the proposals while Agnelli, CEO of Juventus, has been the most public proponent of the plans prior to their launch last year.

Laporta was elected as Barcelona president last March – following a decade-long absence from the post – and has put traditional rivalries with Perez and Madrid aside to join forces on this front, which would represent a clear break from UEFA.

The initial proposals were primarily to replace UEFA’s governance of European football including the current formats of the Champions League and Europa League.

Yet the move was hugely controversial and unpopular due to the fact it was guaranteeing that the most profitable clubs would automatically qualify and would remove the premise of sporting fair play and meritocracy.

The trio of clubs subsequently hired major PR firm Flint to help up clean up the image of the idea and to create a sellable product that will not receive the criticism that the plans were subjected to upon their launch.

Flint have put together a presentation document entitled: “Paving the way to the Super League; strategies for reconstruction, the restart and the triumph.”

The PR firm are now set to engage in a major campaign which will portray UEFA as an “abusive monopoly” whilst portraying the Super League plans as the only alternative that can save the sport.

A court in Madrid ruled that UEFA should lift sanctions on clubs who continue to pursue the Super League project, while the Court of Justice of EU in Luxembourg are set to decide this year whether the project is legal.

The Super League may have been firmly rejected by fans across the UK last year with club officials withdrawing their support, but the project appears to be far from dead

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SPORTS

EPL: I don’t play in my preferred positions – Pulisic becomes latest Chelsea player to hit at Tuchel

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Chelsea to sell Christian Pulisic

Christian Pulisic has become the latest Chelsea player to open up on his struggles at the club.

According to the 23-year-old, he does not get to play in the positions he really wants to.

Pulisic is yet to nail down a regular starting place at Stamford Bridge under Thomas Tuchel.

The American winger also struggled with injuries since his arrival at the club in 2019.

Pulisic is currently away on international duty, ahead of a 2022 World Cup qualifying triple-header starting against El Salvador on Friday.

He told NBC Sports: “When I come to the national team it is “How are things with Chelsea?” and ‘What’s this” and “What’s that.” It’s tough.

“Mentally it has played on me at times but I am always very excited to be on the national team and get to enjoy playing with these guys and just enjoy football in general.

“It is tough. I haven’t always been playing in the positions I want to play in. But I think it is a good quality to be versatile and able to play in all kinds of positions and have different strengths on the pitch.”

Pulisic was an unused substitute in Chelsea’s last two league fixtures, after playing in six games straight over the festive period in a variety of positions.

His comments after Romelu Lukaku criticized Tuchel’s methods and admitted he was unhappy at Stamford Bridge.

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Egypt eliminate Ivory Coast from AFCON after penalty shoot-out

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Seven-time African champions, Egypt, have eliminated Ivory Coast at the ongoing Africa Cup of Nations in Cameroon on Wednesday. 
Egypt beat Ivory Coast 5-4 on penalties to reach the quarter-finals of the tournament following an enthralling 0-0 draw.

The North Africans got the upper hand in the shoot-out when substitute goalkeeper Gabaski saved Eric Bailly’s effort in the third round of spot kicks.
Egypt’s captain, Mohamed Salah, netted the decisive penalty to send them to the last eight. 

Egypt will face their North African neighbours, Morocco, in the quarter finals in Yaounde on Sunday by 5:00pm.

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Newcastle agree £30m for Lyon midfielder, Guimaraes

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Newcastle have agreed a fee with Lyon in the region of £30m to sign midfielder Bruno Guimaraes and are also targeting a deal to sign Brighton defender Dan Burn.

It is understood Brazil international Guimaraes will undergo a medical in his homeland on Wednesday.

A statement said, “Olympique Lyonnais categorically denies the false information disseminated by many media reporting an agreement between Newcastle and OL for the transfer of Brazilian international midfielder Bruno Guimaraes.

“In this transfer window period where the slightest rumour is often presented as reality, Olympique Lyonnais reminds that only information officially released by the club is to be taken into consideration.”

It is not the first time Lyon issued such denial over a transfer. In 2019, the club denied they had agreed to sell Ferland Mendy to Real Madrid. Eight days later, the left-back completed a move to the Bernabeu.

The Mapgies have wanted to sign a left-footed centre-back all window to partner Jamaal Lascelles

But they have so far failed in their attempts to sign Sven Botman, Diego Carlos and Benoit Badiashile.

Burn – a boyhood Newcastle fan born in nearby Blyth – is now a top target with less than seven days left of the window.

The 29-year-old has entered the final 18 months of his Brighton contract. The 6ft 7in defender, who joined Brighton from Wigan in 2018, can also play left-back.

Arsenal were among a number of clubs interested in signing Guimaraes, who has also been watched closely by Manchester United and PSG, but Eddie Howe’s side look to be closing in on the 24-year-old’s signature.

Guimaraes has made 25 appearances in all competitions for Lyon this season, registering six assists. He has three caps for the Brazil national team.

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