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Balotelli backed by Nice team-mate amid overweight claims – football news

Nice striker Mario Balotelli has been backed by midfielder Pierre Lees-Melou after reports that the former Manchester City star reported for pre-season training overweight.

Balotelli scored 26 goals in 38 games for the Ligue 1 club last season, as they finished eighth.

However, reports claimed that he returned from his holidays weighing 103 kilograms, with his ideal weight said to be nearer to 86kg.

Balotelli took to social media to rubbish the rumours, writing on Instagram: “Fined for being overweight? Look at my physique! It makes me laugh hearing things like that about my weight.

“P*** off with your invented rubbish.”

And Lees Melou has now echoed his team-mate’s sentiments, insisting that he is training well.

“He is doing well and he is working a lot,” said the 25-year-old midfielder, per RMC Sport.

“If you see him, you’ll see him for yourself. He works very well, he is very fit and very sharp, so I do not worry about him.”

Article continues below

Balotelli missed the first three games of the season through suspension but was left out against Rennes because of a calf injury after featuring in the 1-0 win over Lyon.

“Of course, we all know Mario,” Melou added.

“We know the good he has done in the different clubs he has played, and also in Nice, but he is coming back.”

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Video: Zlatan’s Journey – a timeline of Ibrahimovic’s most important goals – football news

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Chelsea star Kante admits PSG ‘contact’ – football news

N’Golo Kante says he has “no urge” to leave Chelsea following World Cup success with France, despite admitting that Paris Saint-Germain made contact with him during the summer transfer window.
 
Kante, who capped a remarkable two years in the summer by adding the World Cup to the domestic titles he won with Leicester City in 2016 and the Blues in 2017.

Such form saw him become a top target for PSG, as reported by GBP Sports, with Chelsea having offered him a bumper five-year deal to stay at Stamford Bridge.
 
Kante’s stock has rocketed since moving to England from Ligue 1 side Caen in 2015, playing a starring role as the Foxes defied the odds to win an unlikely Premier League title before breaking into the France team in time for the European Championship finals and becoming the first outfield player to win successive English titles for different clubs since Eric Cantona in 1992-93.
 
But the France international, who has become a lynchpin in coach Didier Deschamps’ midfield, is not ooking for a move.
 
“There was no urge to go elsewhere after the World Cup,” he said in an interview with RMC Sport.
 
“There were other clubs interests but after talking to Chelsea, things were clear. The club is counting on me and I feel good. The next logical step was to continue to Chelsea.

“There were some contacts [from PSG]. But after a discussion with Chelsea I realised that the main thing was to feel good where I was. I am at Chelsea. It’s good for me to stay at Chelsea.”

French champions PSG had hoped to lure Kante to Parc de Princes to help spearhead their assault on the Champions League, but it now looks as though they will have to turn their attentions elsewhere as the France star has committed himself to remaining in London.

Chelsea face Cardiff City at Stamford Bridge in the Premier League on Saturday as Maurizio Sarri’s side look to make it five wins from their opening five games of the campaign.

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‘I know 10’ – Record-breaking Tuchel undecided on PSG team to face Liverpool – football news

Thomas Tuchel has not decided his Paris Saint-Germain team to face Liverpool in the Champions League, with one place still up for grabs.

Neymar and Kylian Mbappe sat out PSG’s 4-0 defeat of Saint-Etienne on Friday as Tuchel’s men moved six points clear at Ligue 1’s summit on Friday.

Tuchel’s six straight competitive wins since taking charge broke Carlo Ancelotti’s club record from 2011 , with Julian Draxler taking his chance to impress in the absence of rested Neymar and suspended Mbappe.

Edinson Cavani, Angel Di Maria and teenage substitute Moussa Diaby were also on target in a comfortable victory for the champions.

PSG were able to ease to victory in the second half, retaining energy for Tuesday’s trip to Anfield in their Group C opener against last season’s beaten Champions League finalists.

Marco Verratti made his first competitive appearance since March after recovering from a groin injury but Tuchel indicated he may make a late call over one of his players.

“I know 10,” Tuchel said to Canal+ Sport when asked about his selection plans for the trip to Anfield. 

“Not yet the 11th and I do not know my game system.”

PSG made a slow start at the Parc des Princes but, after Draxler’s clever header got them up and running, the champions eased to victory.

“The team have proven their hunger for wins and I am very happy for that,” Tuchel added. 

“We played with seriousness and intensity. The second half was top.”

Saint-Etienne missed a string of early chances and their coach Jean-Louis Gasset felt a four-goal defeat was a harsh result.

Article continues below

“I said before the game that we would have to be at 110 per cent to get a result in Paris,” he told reporters.

“There was something to be done, of course. The game plan was to play low and counter in the first half. It was done to perfection. Unfortunately, we did not manage to score.

“We knew PSG were stronger than us but four goals are expensive. This is our first defeat of the season, we will work to prepare the next matches, try to take points.”

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Tuchel breaks PSG record with dominant Saint-Etienne win – football news

Thomas Tuchel has set a new Paris Saint-Germain record after winning each of his first six competitive matches in charge.

PSG beat Saint-Etienne 4-0 at the Parc des Princes on Friday to extend a perfect start to the 2018-19 Ligue 1 season under their new head coach.

Neymar was rested for the game and Kylian Mbappe was suspended but goals from Julian Draxler, Edinson Cavani, Angel Di Maria and Moussa Diaby earned a comfortable victory.

PSG’s latest win adds to Ligue 1 successes collected against Caen, Guingamp, Angers and Nimes, as well as a 4-0 demolition of Monaco in the Trophee des Champions.

Tuchel’s men move six points clear of nearest rivals Dijon ahead of Tuesday’s trip to Liverpool in their first Champions League match under the German’s stewardship.

Carlo Ancelotti previously held the record for most successive wins at the start of his PSG reign.

Article continues below

The Italian took his side to five straight victories in 2011. 

PSG are already six points clear at the top of the Ligue 1 table, though their Friday fixture means most of the league have a game in hand on the defending champions. 

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PSG rest Neymar ahead of Liverpool clash – football news

Neymar has been rested for Paris Saint-Germain’s clash with Saint-Etienne on Friday ahead of their Champions League date with Liverpool.

PSG coach Thomas Tuchel said in his pre-match news conference on Thursday that he was toying with the idea of leaving Neymar out of the squad following the international break.

Neymar started – and scored in – both of Brazil’s friendlies against United States and El Salvador, leaving Tuchel to ponder whether it was worth risking him against Saint-Etienne due to his travels.

Ultimately, the German has opted to leave Neymar at home to ensure he is completely fresh to face Liverpool at Anfield in their Champions League Group C opener on Tuesday.

Article continues below

However, Neymar’s Brazil team-mates Marquinhos and Thiago Silva have been included in Tuchel’s 19-man squad, while new signings Eric-Maxim Choupo-Moting and Juan Bernat are in line for their debuts.

There is also a place for Marco Verratti, who has not featured competitively for the club since the end of March due to a groin injury.

Kylian Mbappe begins the first of his three-match ban after getting sent off against Nimes last time out.

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Rennes inspired by ‘extraordinary’ Ben Arfa – Del Castillo – football news

Rennes attacking midfielder Romain del Castillo says he is inspired by summer signing Hatem Ben Arfa.

Ben Arfa has endured something of a nomadic career thus far, playing for seven clubs, including the likes of Newcastle United, PSG and Marseille.

Rennes signed the midfielder in the summer following his release from PSG, and Del Castillo believes he is an inspiration to all of his team-mates.

“When you are an offensive player like me, you watch his videos,” he told GBP Sports when asked about the 31-year-old.

“We are inspired by a player like him. What he does on the field is extraordinary and playing with him everyday is positive.”

Rennes are currently sixth in Ligue 1 and will also play in the Europa League this season, facing Astana, Dynamo Kyiv and Jablonec, and the midfielder is confident of qualification.

“We watched the draw all together during a dinner at the training center.

“We don’t have big teams in our group, but this is good. If we meet the big teams in the final stages, it’s even better.

“We have the opportunity to qualify the club for the final stages and we are happy.”

Ben Arfa’s next opportunity to impress will come against OGC Nice this weekend.

He spent the 2015-16 season with Nice, and claimed in the summer that he received an offer to return to the club, only to reject it.

Article continues below

“I had a lot of requests, I wanted to take my time,” he explained.

“The Europa League was one of the criteria, but the important thing was the setting and Stade Rennes has changed in size.

“There was Nice too but it’s hard to go back with your ex.”

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Neymar will mature from World Cup criticism – Alves – football news

Dani Alves believes the heavy dose of criticism Neymar received during and following the World Cup will help the Brazil and Paris Saint-Germain star mature.

Neymar found himself under fire during the summer tournament in Russia, with Brazil exiting in the quarter-final stage amid their talisman’s theatrics.

The attacker’s reactions to contact drew ire from opposing coaches, while fans made memes off his memorable reaction to an incident in the round of 16 against Mexico.

Even fellow players have gotten into the act, as United States international DeAndre Yedlin mocked Neymar’s World Cup’s behavior to a referee during the recent international friendly between the U.S. and Brazil.

Neymar himself released an ad following the World Cup promising to do better, though he complained after a yellow card for diving against El Salvador that the referee was mistaken.

And Alves, Neymar’s international and club team-mate at PSG, is of the belief the experience will help shape Neymar into a better person.

“In life, sometimes things happen that make you mature and make you realize that you have to improve as a professional,” Alves said.

“I’ve talked a lot with Neymar. I think he’s gained experience and the little shots he’s received during the World Cup will make him even more mature – [a] change of behavior.”

That Neymar was roundly criticised for his actions during the World Cup was something that Alves said made a difference in driving the point home that changes had to be made.

“You leave the kid aside and you become a man, and when you start becoming a man, your decisions and attitudes become more weighty,” Alves added. “And I told him that if everyone tells you the same thing and not only one or two people, something is wrong.

Article continues below

“We all have flaws, but we must not stay in one’s flaws. In life, we must try to evolve, because we are all intelligent.”

Neymar returns to PSG after scoring a pair of goals during the international break in Brazil victories over the United States and El Salvador.

However, he may not feature in Ligue 1 against Saint-Etienne this weekend, as head coach Thomas Tuchel considers resting him for next week’s Champions League clash against Liverpool.

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‘PSG must be careful of Liverpool’ – Dani Alves issues Champions League warning – football news

Dani Alves says Paris Saint-Germain must improve their record in the Champions League, starting with their opening game against Liverpool.

PSG travel to Anfield on Tuesday for their first group game ahead of meetings with Red Star Belgrade and Serie A side Napoli.

The Ligue 1 champions will wear shirts adorned with the Jordan Brand’s “Jumpman” logo after a deal with the basketball great was announced on Thursday – the first time the brand has ever featured on a global football kit.

And Alves, speaking at the kit launch, said PSG have to target Champions League improvement after repeatedly failing to get past the quarter-final stage despite huge investment.

“We need to be careful for the next game [against Liverpool] because we play against a bigger, bigger club and this competition is very, very hard,” Alves told Omnisport

“For this reason we have to be a little bit more careful then other matches but we accept the challenge from the group and competition and we need to do something different to last season.

Article continues below

“I think for PSG – for any club – to invest in players, in staff… you go home in the first challenge in this real competition, it is not good.

“It’s not good for me, it’s not good for the club and it’s not good for us and we need to change something. Mentality shows what we do but in this year [we have] no chance to falter.”

Last season PSG were knocked out by Real Madrid in the round of 16, losing both legs of the tie as Zinedine Zidane’s men went on to win the tournament for the third year in a row.

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Lyon midfielder Ndombele signs new five-year contract – football news

Lyon have announced Tanguy Ndombele has signed a one-year contract extension that will keep him at the club until 2023.

Ndombele, a reported transfer target for Tottenham, thrived in his first season at Lyon after joining from Amiens.

And after agreeing a new five-year deal with the Ligue 1 club, the France Under-21 international is targeting further improvement.

“I’m happy to stay one more season at Lyon,” Ndombele told the club’s official website. “That’s the thing I wanted.

“I hope we’re going to have a great season. It was important to me. I only had one season here, I wanted to stay to continue my progression.

Article continues below

“I want to do great things here. I have personal goals, but I prefer to keep them for myself. I had a good season because people were not expecting me to be at that level.”

Houssem Aouar, Ferland Mendy and Marcelo have also recently committed their futures to Lyon with new contracts.

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