International News - Issue 255




Borussia Dortmund coach Jurgen Klopp will leave the club at the end of the season after reaching a mutual agreement with club management. Klopp has coached Dortmund since 2008, taking them to two German Bundesliga titles and the UEFA Champions League Final in 2012/13. However, having been bottom of the table earlier in the season, Dortmund are now in 10th place, 37 points behind leaders Bayern Munich. BVB boss Hans-Joachim Watzke said at a press conference: "We had some talks recently on the initiative of Jürgen and then made the joint decision that after seven years of incredible success, it will be over at the end of the season. We have a relationship that is built on trust and friendship. Therefore, it is naturally a difficult situation. Jurgen will always have eternal gratitude from Borussia Dortmund." Klopp added: "I feel that at the moment I'm not the perfect coach for this extraordinary club. In the last few days and weeks I was not sure that I'm the right person. Therefore, I felt it my duty to myself and Aki Watzke to leave my position. I am sure that the decision is absolutely right. This team deserves to have the absolutely one hundred percent right coach." Klopp was not giving away anything regarding his next move in the game. "I have no contact to another club, either in England or elsewhere. But I do not intend to put in a sabbatical year. I wanted to announce today so that everyone at the club can plan and adjust. I believe that Borussia Dortmund needs a change. A major problem certainly is that as long as I'm here, we are always considering the successes of the past."

Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini has insisted that he is not concerned by suggestions that Jurgen Klopp could take his job in the summer. The German coach was instantly linked to the Etihad Stadium when he announced that he will leave Dortmund at the end of the season. Pellegrini's job is reportedly under increasing pressure as his side have dropped to 12 points behind Premier League leaders Chelsea, and they are likely to end the campaign without silverware as they are out of the Champions League and FA Cup. Despite the constant rumours, Pellegrini has insisted that the Klopp speculation is normal considering City's current poor form. "It doesn't hurt - it happens in every club if you don't have the results you deserve," Pellegrini said. "When you manage an important club if you don't have the results the club deserves everybody talks about changing the manager. It has been the worst period for results, but last year there was more pressure. Nobody is happy with the results when you are not in the fight for the title. It's logical that the thing is to sack the manager but I don't think that is the correct diagnostic."


Juventus striker Carlos Tevez says it much easier to score in the Premier League than in Serie A. Tevez, who has netted 26 goals in all competitions this season, previously enjoyed stints with West Ham, Manchester United and Manchester City in England. Tevez said: "It's much easier to score in the Premier League, where the ball doesn't stop moving, the action is everywhere and the midfield is non-existent. Here you see a striker up against five defenders, it's much more difficult than in England. The Italian League is of a high standard." The 31-year-old went on to praise his team-mates and coach Massimiliano Allegri for helping him impress this term. "My team-mates and Allegri give me so much confidence. I'm happy with how the coach asks me to play," he added. "We made some kind of deal: when I get the ball I can do whatever I want but I have to perform very specific tasks in defence."

Eden Hazard and Alexis Sanchez are favourites for the Professional Footballer's Association’s (PFA) Player of the Year award after being included on a six-man shortlist. The duo are joined on the list by Chelsea striker Diego Costa, Liverpool playmaker Philippe Coutinho, Manchester United goalkeeper David de Gea and Tottetnham Hotspur striker Harry Kane. Hazard, De Gea, Coutinho and Kane are also nominated for Young Player of the Year award, along with Liverpool winger Raheem Sterling and Chelsea goalie Thibaut Courtois. The award ceremony takes place on April 26.
PFA Player of the Year: Diego Costa (Chelsea), Philippe Coutinho (Liverpool), David De Gea (Manchester United), Eden Hazard (Chelsea), Harry Kane (Tottenham), Alexis Sanchez (Arsenal)
PFA Young Player of the Year: Thibaut Courtois (Chelsea), Philippe Coutinho (Liverpool), David De Gea (Manchester United), Eden Hazard (Chelsea), Harry Kane (Tottenham), Raheem Sterling (Liverpool)

Hans-Wilhelm Muller-Wohlfahrt has stepped down as Bayern Munich team doctor following criticism from head coach Pep Guardiola. The Bavarians suffered a shock 3-1 defeat to FC Porto in their UEFA Champions League quarter-final first leg match last Wednesday, after which Guardiola hit out at the medical department. The likes of Franck Ribery, Arjen Robben and Javi Martinez were all missing from that game, and such has been the injuries woes that they included just three outfield players on the bench in the Bundesliga tie against Eintracht Frankfurt. Muller-Wohlfahrt resigned from his job on Thursday, saying “the bond of trust is damaged”. He said in a statement: "After the Champions League match between Bayern Munich and Porto, the medical department was blamed due to the inexplicable reasons for the loss. The bond of trust is damaged.” Bayern have refused to comment on the news, saying they are unaware of the resignation.

Real Madrid boss Carlo Ancelotti admits he is uncertain what the future holds for him at the club. The Italian has a contract running until June 2016, but with the club trailing Barcelona in La Liga standings and unsure of progression in the UEFA Champions League, talk is that he could be sacked at the end of the season. Ancelotti though, in non-plussed, saying he is no hurry to renew contract talks. "There is no rush. I have another year of my contract to see whether or not I want to renew. We talked about sitting down to discuss a new deal, but we never worked out a day to sit. If the club don't call on me to renew today, they might call me in September, or perhaps not call me at all."


Manchester United playmaker Juan Mata has congratulated former club Chelsea "for the title they are about to win". Mata, who starred for the Blues before switching alliances in January last year, also expressed gratitude for the warm reception he received on his return to Stamford Bridge on Saturday. Chelsea beat United 1-0 courtesy of Eden Hazard's first-half strike to go 10 points clear at the summit with six games left. "When we were leaving Stamford Bridge, to catch the train and go back to Manchester, I had mixed feelings," Mata wrote in his weekly blog. "I was angry about the defeat, I was thrilled after seeing some old friends, but especially I was proud. I felt proud of the game the team had played, keeping the ball possession, controlling the game and creating chances to score, and all this at Stamford Bridge against the leaders... As our manager said after the game, we were loyal to our football idea, and despite the score didn't show that, if we keep playing like this there will be many more wins than defeats, I'm pretty sure of that. Besides, the team showed personality by playing that way against such a tough opponent, who gave no space in their half of the pitch and defended with so many players. Obviously, we also made some mistakes we have to learn from in the future. But overall that was my feeling about the game we had played: pride. The other reason, as you can imagine, is about the reception I was given from the Chelsea fans. It was really moving to feel the people's respect and affection, and I will always be grateful for that. To them and also to the players. I thank them for such affection and I congratulate them for the title they are about to win, because it's almost done. It was nice to meet them and chat with them after the game, and also the club's staff, doctors, physios, etc., and feel their respect and friendship. Thanks to all and congratulations."

Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho says Belgian attacker Eden Hazard is among the top three players in the world. Mourinho praised Hazard after the 24-year-old scored in the 1-0 win over Manchester United at Stamford Bridge on Saturday. Hazard has netted 18 goals and provided 10 assists in all competitions this season. "He's a kid, but he is also a family man and he knows he is one of the three best players in the world, responsibility comes with that and he is coping with that responsibility," Mourinho told reporters. "If people want to be fair, he gets that award [PFA Player of the Year]. But the award I want him to win is the Premier League. I've had lots of stars, but he's the humble star. He's a great kid. Physically, mentally he's getting very, very strong. He understands his role. He understands his talent is fundamental for the team." Hazards efforts, which have seen him nominated for the PFA Player and Young Player of the Year awards, have helped the Blues open a 10-point lead at the summit with six games left.

Eight football fans were gunned down ahead of a semi-final clash between Corinthians and Sao Paulo rivals Palmeiras on the weekend. According to reports, at least two armed men opened fire at the Corinthians' fan headquarters on Saturday night. Police have suggested the murders may be linked with drug trafficking and are not related to the derby. Before the semi-final game on Sunday Corinthians tweeted "Mourning" in white letters on a black background. About 30 people are said to have died in soccer violence in Brazil in 2013.

England striker Harry Kane said he was "very proud" to become the first Tottenham player since Gary Lineker to score 30 goals in a season. Kane achieved the feat in his side's 3-1 defeat of Newcastle United on Sunday, matching the efforts of Lineker in 1991-92. Asked about the milestone, Kane said: "I'm very proud but there are five games left and, hopefully, I'll get a few more goals. We deserved it today. We played well. We've had some disappointing performances in the last couple of weeks and we wanted to put that right. I had a couple of chances and the goalkeeper made some good saves but I'm delighted to get back on the scoresheet," added the 21-year-old. Kane, who has been nominated for both the PFA Young Player of the Year and Player of the Year awards, is only the third Tottenham player to register 20 Premier League goals in a season, after Gareth Bale and Jurgen Klinsmann.

Chelsea captain John Terry says his team was "relieved" to see Wayne Rooney being deployed in midfield for Manchester United on the weekend. The Blues beat United 1-0 on Saturday courtesy of Eden Hazard's first-half strike at Stamford Bridge. Rooney operated in a deeper role for the Red Devils as manager Louis van Gaal tried to negate the absence of injured pair Michael Carrick and Daley Blind. "He's a world-class player so we were relieved to see him in midfield," Terry said. "He's a phenomenal player and such a threat in that role behind the striker so to see him in midfield was good for us actually."

Borussia Dortmund have announced that Thomas Tuchel will replace Jürgen Klopp as the club's new manager at the end of the season. Tuchel, a former Mainz boss, has signed a three-year contract with BVB. Last Wednesday Dortmund announced Klopp had asked to leave the team after a difficult campaign.

Yaya Toure's agent has called Manchester City boss Manuel Pellegrini a "weak manager" and criticised the way the club is run. The 31-year-old has not had his best season at City and has come in for heavy criticism, but his agent feels the club are trying to make a scapegoat for things that are wrong behind the scenes. "Some people at City are trying to blame Yaya for what has happened this season. But those people aren't taking responsibility for their own mistakes," his agent Dimitri Seluk said. "I am talking about executives who have bought players for a lot of money and then put those players on the bench. Executives who spend a lot of money on Stevan Jovetic and then drop him from the Champions League squad. I feel sorry for Pellegrini. He's a good coach, but a weak manager. He won the title with the team left behind by [predecessor] Roberto Mancini." Toure has been linked with a move to AC Milan at the end of the season, and Seluk wants the club to make their stance known if they are thinking of selling the reigning African Player of the Year. "If City want Yaya to leave, they should come out and say so," Seluk added. "Two of the biggest clubs have already asked me if he is available, and I know that if City would sell, another 10 would call me inside 24 hours."

Chelsea and Paris Saint-Germain have launched bids in excess of €40m for Palermo striker Paulo Dybala, according to the player’s agent Gustavo Mascardi. The 21-year-old, who has also recently been linked with Juventus and Arsenal, has scored 13 goals and provided 10 assists in Serie A this season. "Paris St Germain have already come forward with an offer of about €46m and Chelsea had already reached €41m," Mascardi said. "We’re now at the stage where the price cannot be lower than €50m [£36m]. Paulo is in no hurry and will take his decision calmly."

Ronaldinho has poured cold water on reports that he is set to hang up his boots. The Brazilian superstar signed a two-year deal with Mexican club Queretaro late last year, but his stay has been marred by bad press and fallouts with the club. It’s led to reports that he will quit the game altogether, but the 35-year-old insists that is not the case. "First of all, I had to tell you that the rumour about my retirement is not true," he said. "I'm so happy at the moment and the idea of quitting is not in my thoughts. I don't know if I’ll stay on for five or six years, but while things are still going well, there's no reason for leaving. I'm happy and in my best moment since I arrived in Mexico, so I'm going to continue doing what I know how to do best.  I'll keep working on being the player providing the most assists until the end of the season. I need to score more goals, but I'm still helping the team."

Paris Saint-Germain striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic has had his four-game suspension for abusing Ligue 1 referees reduced to three. The French Football League (LFP) accepted a recommendation from the French Olympic Committee (CNOSF) to shorten the ban. Ibrahimovic ranted at the fourth official after PSG's 3-2 defeat to Bordeaux on March 15, with television footage suggesting he said: "F--ing wake up -- we're not playing in the amateurs. Wake up! I have never seen that in 15 years in my career, such a referee in this s--- country. [You] don't even deserve PSG to be in this country."


Chelsea have topped an internet survey as the most abused club on social media, while Mario Balotelli is the most abused individual. Anti-discrimination group Kick It Out has conducted a survey of English top-flight clubs over the course of the season and found the Blues were targeted on 20 000 occasions. The abuse varies from sexual, to racial, to homophobic abuse. "The level of abuse is truly staggering," Kick It Out director Roisin Wood said. "We must do all we can as a collective to protect those who are on the receiving end of discriminatory abuse." Second on the list was Liverpool with 19 000, Arsenal with 12 000 and the two Manchester clubs on 11 000 each. Balotelli was, unsurprisingly, way ahead of the rest in terms of individual abuse with 8 700 posts, with Danny Welbeck his closest ‘challenger’ on 1 700.