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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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SPORTS

Tokyo Olympics: All Nigeria’s table tennis reps knocked out

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Africa’s highest-ranked player Quadri Aruna on Tuesday crashed out of the men’s singles event of the table tennis competition at the ongoing Olympic Games in Tokyo.

Aruna who reached the quarter-finals of the event at the Rio Games in 2016 could not go far this time around as he lost 2-4 in the third round.

He lost to Brazil’s Gustavo Tsuboi at the Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium 15-13 9-11 6-11 11-7 7-11 6-11.

His exit has brought a sad end to Team Nigeria’s campaign in the sport at this Games.

His three teammates in the sport —— Funke Oshonaike, Offiong Edem, Olajide Omotayo —- have all been eliminated.

Nigeria did not qualify for the doubles events.

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John Terry leaves Aston Villa, reveals next plan

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Aston Villa assistant coach, John Terry, has announced his departure from the club.

Terry, in a statement via Aston Villa’s official website on Monday, also revealed his next plan.

The Chelsea legend had since been linked with vacancies at Bristol City and West Brom United.

Terry’s statement read in part, “It has been a tremendous honour and privilege to have spent these last three years at Aston Villa, but I feel now is the right time to make the extremely difficult decision to move on.

“My immediate plan is to spend some quality time with my family and, thereafter, hopefully, take up some invitations to visit clubs and managers around Europe to develop my aim and objective of becoming a manager.

“I’ll forever be indebted to the gaffer for giving me the opportunity to start my coaching career at such a wonderful club.

“Finally, I would also like to thank all the players and staff and wish them all the very best for the season ahead and say a huge thank you to the wonderful Aston Villa fans for their support.”

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Solskjaer opens up on Pogba rejecting new Man United contract to join PSG

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Manchester United boss, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has opened up on midfielder, Paul Pogba rejecting a new contract at the club in a bid to join Paris Saint-Germain.

Solskjaer also expressed confidence that Pogba will be part of his Man United squad next season.

He said this while reacting to reports that the France international has rejected a new deal at the club because he wants to join PSG.

Pogba, whose current deal with Man United will expire next summer, has been linked with a move away from Old Trafford to join PSG.

But Solskjaer has now described the report as ‘speculations’.

Asked if Pogba has rejected a contract and whether Man United will need to sell him, Solskjaer told reporters following the Red Devils’ pre-season 4-2 defeat against QPR on Saturday: “There are always speculations about Paul.

“The talks between the club and Paul’s representatives, I am not in the detail of every single one of them, so I have got nothing to say really about that.

Asked further on PSG’s interest in Pogba, Solskjaer continued: “There’s always speculation about Paul and there’s always clubs being interested.

“Of course, we have seen Paul at his best and Paul knows what we feel about it. And of course, I have enjoyed my time working with him and hopefully, we can work together. Let’s see what happens.”

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