International News - Issue 306

Zlatan Ibrahimovic Could Join Man Utd, If Louis Van Gaal Leaves

Zlatan Ibrahimovic has indicated a willingness to join Manchester United at the end of this season, but only if Louis van Gaal leaves the club this summer. Ibrahimovic is out of contract at Paris St Germain at the end of this season, and is considering all of his options, with serious interest from clubs in the Premier League and Chinese Super League. He confirmed at a press conference in March there has been interest in him from English clubs, yet Sky Sports have confirmed he has reservations about joining United with the Dutchman in charge. In his 2011 autobiography, I am Zlatan, the Sweden international alluded to the strained relationship between the pair when he played under Ronald Koeman at Ajax and van Gaal was at the club as technical director. Manchester United's style of play under Van Gaal this season has been criticised in some quarters - United have only scored 39 Premier League goals, just three more than Sunderland who currently sit 18th in the table. Ibrahimovic is understood to be interested in a move to Old Trafford, believing it is a stage on which he can still perform at a high level for another two years, although that would depend on a change in manager. There is an offer on the table from an unnamed Chinese Super League club, worth £56m (approx 70m euros) to Ibrahimovic over two seasons. Chinese clubs have demonstrated their immense spending power in recent months, and due to the fact they will not have to pay a transfer fee to sign Ibrahimovic, one club has been able to offer a contract that would pay him £28m (approx 35m euros) per season. West Ham have also been linked with a move for Ibrahimovic as they prepare to move to the Olympic Stadium this season. The club's co-owner, David Sullivan, said last month he would "love to sign" Ibrahimovic, describing him as a "fantastic player", however they would not be able compete with the financial terms on offer from China.

Manchester City are in advanced negotiations with Borussia Dortmund over the transfer of Ilkay Gundogan, although the clubs remain £8.1m (€10m) apart in their valuation of the midfielder. City have indicated a willingness to pay £28.3m (€35m) for Gundogan, although Dortmund value the player at £36.4m (€45m). Pep Guardiola sees Gundogan, 25, as a key part of his plans when he takes over from Manuel Pellegrini on July 1 and is determined City sign him. Dortmund's willingness to sell is driven by the fact the player has shown no indication he will commit to a new contract - his current deal expires in the summer of 2017. Despite that, Dortmund chairman Hans-Joachim Watzke and Sporting Director Michael Zorc value the player at £36.4m (€45m). City confirmed to Sky Sports News in March that a meeting was held in Amsterdam between the player's uncle and agent, Ilhay Gundogan, and City Sporting Director Txiki Begiristain. During that meeting, it is understood personal terms were discussed, and contract terms have since been agreed which would see the player earn £4.8m (€6m) after tax per season, provided the two clubs can agree a transfer fee. Dortmund have offered Gundogan a new contract, but have so far been unable to convince the player to commit his future beyond his current deal. Coach Thomas Tuchel stated last month he is not convinced the player will remain at the club, saying, "I know what we can offer him and if that is not enough for him to stay then so be it." Gundogan's potential arrival at the Etihad Stadium would help the club lower the average age of their squad, which is understood to a significant consideration amongst the club's hierarchy.

Barcelona star Neymar has a buyout clause of £153m but earns a relatively modest £77,000 a week, according to documents released by the Football Leaks website. The 24-year-old, who signed a five-year contract in a £49m move from Santos in June 2013 and has since formed a lethal partnership up front alongside Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez, earns far less than his team-mates, with Messi reportedly earning £250,000 a week after tax. However, the Brazilian is guaranteed to earn at least £39.7m over the five years of his deal, which also guarantees that Barcelona will make up the shortfall should the player not receive enough performance-related bonuses to earn that sum. Among those bonuses are rewards for tournament wins, with a La Liga triumph earning him £514k while glory in the Champions League and the Copa del Rey would result in a £685k payout. Winning all three, as Barcelona managed last season, results in a cumulative sum of £1.37m, while winning the Ballon d'Or will net him a further £340k. Neymar is the latest player to have details of his contract revealed after Suarez and Real Madrid's Gareth Bale in recent months.

Jose Mourinho has reiterated his desire to return to management in the summer but insisted he has not agreed or signed a deal to become the next Manchester United manager. The former Chelsea boss has been consistently linked with United if Louis van Gaal leaves the club in the summer, although Mourinho was keen to emphasise no agreement is in place. Speaking exclusively to Sky Sports News, he said: "[Van Gaal] is my friend, I worked with him for a few years. "I am always linked with jobs and in the summer I will have a job, but in this moment I can promise you I do not have a contract with any club. "I am not in a position to turn [jobs] down, I am in a position to analyse. I am in a position to be open to any club or national team. "I have to be honest, if possible I would prefer a club but I must analyse to see what is best for my career and to be back with everything I have. "I would prefer [to be in England]. I love the country, I love the football here, my family is very stable and happy. "If possible yes, it would be my first choice."

Liverpool target Piotr Zielinski has revealed that he has held talks with Jurgen Klopp over a potential summer move to Anfield. It was reported last month the Reds were set to hold talks over the prospective signing of Poland international Zielinski. The 21-year-old midfielder, who is on loan at Empoli from Udinese, was quoted by Polish media outlet Sportowe Fakty as saying: "There is a lot of truth in (talk of) the interest of (Liverpool boss) Jurgen Klopp in me. "There was contact, I do not deny that." Zielinski, who has 13 caps for Poland and is set to be part of their squad for Euro 2016, added: "I'm not thinking too much about it right now though, I've still got few games to play for Empoli and after that there is still the Euros in France." Zielinski scored in Empoli's 2-0 Serie A victory over Fiorentina at the weekend.

Antonio Conte wants to make Alexandre Pato's stay at Chelsea permanent, according to reports. The new Blues manager, who will take charge after leading Italy at Euro 2016, has told the Brazilian he has a future at Stamford Bridge. Pato made his first appearance for the west Londoners 10 days ago, scoring from the spot after coming on as a sub in the 4-0 victory at Aston Villa. He secured his first start for Chelsea last Saturday in their 1-0 defeat at Swansea, lasting until the 64th minute. Pato, 25, is on loan from Brazil side Corinthians and the Stamford Bridge club would need to resign him in the summer. Conte is well aware of the potential of Pato, who was seen as a golden boy in Italy early in his career. After signing for Milan in the summer of 2007, he spent six seasons at the Serie A giants and in the 2010-11 season helped them to the title, being the club’s joint top scorer with 14 goals in 25 games.

Chelsea captain John Terry has offered to pay for the funeral costs of a young Blues fan who died of leukemia recently after being contacted by the eight-year-old's friends and family on social media. Terry met staunch Chelsea supporter Tommi Miller following a game last year, but was left "devastated" after hearing the eight-year-old died in late March. After being contacted by a family friend on Instagram, the centre-back offered to pay the £1,600 funeral costs to ensure Tommi, whose favourite players included Terry, has the send off he deserves. "Having had the pleasure of meeting Tommi at a Chelsea game I was totally devastated to hear of him passing away," Terry told the Cambridge News. "I'm sure his family and friends will give him the send off he deserves." Tommi, whose family live in Cambridge, was diagnosed with leukaemia aged three but died on March 31 after an unsuccessful bone marrow transplant. Tommi's mother, Ruth, said: "I'm overwhelmed really, because Tommi was such a great fan of John Terry in particular. He was one of his favourite players. "We don't want a traditional sort of funeral. It's for a child, so we thought we would have it as bright and cheerful as he would want it."

Leicester City boss Claudio Ranieri is excited by the prospect of competing in the UEFA Champions League next season, but he is mindful the Premier League title race is not over yet. The Foxes, who narrowly beat the drop last term, are seven points clear at the summit with six games left. Ranieri's charges need four victories to clinch a maiden topflight crown, and next visit relegation-threatened Sunderland last Sunday. "Of course the Champions League would be fantastic," Ranieri said. "Can you imagine if next season Bayern Munich, Barcelona, Real Madrid and so on come here? "That would be unbelievable for our fans and for everybody. It’s a good experience. "We must understand very well that this year is a strange year. The next year you have to restart again. "Next year we will have to work harder because what is happening this year cannot always happen. "We are inspiring other little teams. Now we have opened the heart to everybody, the little normal teams and the normal players. "How many of our players were playing in non-league or small leagues a few years ago? "And that is good for football, it's good publicity for everybody. It's fantastic." The Italian is determined to guide his men through a tense run-in. "We are in front but we have to run a lot now," said Ranieri. "We have got around the final corner and now we are looking at the line. "We have to hold on tight and, if we have to, we will stick our elbows out to make sure nobody gets past us."

Liverpool have suffered a major setback with news that captain Jordan Henderson will miss the rest of the season. The midfielder was a halftime replacement in last Thursday’s 1-1 UEFA Europa League draw with Borussia Dortmund after picking up a knee injury. That injury has now been confirmed as a damaged lateral collateral ligament, which means he will be out for up to eight weeks, and possibly also miss the 2016 Euros. Henderson spent three months out earlier this season with a heel injury.

UEFA are confident supporters and teams will be safe at Euro 2016 after it emerged that Islamic State terrorists were reportedly planning to attack the tournament this summer. A man who was arrested in Brussels on Friday, Mohamed Abrini, has reportedly told Belgium police that his jihadi group were targeting games in France in June and July. French Prime Minister Manuel Valls said: "It's extra proof of the very high threats to the whole of Europe and France in particular. We will not let our guard down." Abrini has told Belgian prosecutors that he was the "man in the hat" who was seen with two suicide bombers at Zaventem airport. The attacks at the airport and a metro station on 22 March left 32 people dead. Abrini is also believed by French police to have been involved in the Paris attacks on November 13 that killed 130 people. On that occasion, up to 11 terrorists attacked bars, restaurants, a concert hall and the Stade de France, where France were playing Germany. More than 2.5 million supporters are expected to travel to France for the Euros and the authorities are setting up fan zones for up to seven million people. French authorities have announced airport-style security for games and fan zones. More than 120,00 police and soldiers will be guarding stadiums, fan zones, hotels, training centres and transport hubs. There will also be about 900 security guards on duty at the tournament's 51 games. A UEFA spokesman said: "Safety and security during UEFA Euro 2016 is a key priority for UEFA, the local organisers Euro 2016 SAS and the French authorities. "For more than three years, UEFA and Euro 2016 SAS have been working closely with the relevant authorities to develop the most appropriate and robust mechanisms to ensure a safe and secure tournament for all involved, and we are confident that the necessary measures will be taken."

AC Milan have sacked Sinisa Mihajlovic as manager and replaced him with their former midfielder Cristian Brocchi. Milan have reached the Coppa Italia final but remain sixth in Serie A, 27 points off leaders Juventus. Mihajlovic picked up two points from his last five games in charge and lost 2-1 at home to Juve in his final game. The 47-year-old was appointed as Milan boss in June 2015 and Brocchi, who had been working as youth team coach, will take over until the end of the season. In a statement, the 18-time Serie A winners said they wanted "to thank Mihajlovic for the dedication and hard work carried out this season". Brocchi, 40, made 161 appearances for Milan between 2001 and 2008 and retired when a Lazio player in 2013.