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It has been another whirlwind week in European and world soccer with COVID-19 very much back in focus as the Omicron variant rips through the Premier League schedule at pace just days after UEFA’s botched Champions League draw. Taking us into Christmas week, we have Kylian Mbappe talking money and Paris Saint-Germain ambitions, Bradford City AFCO being targeted by a Cryptocurrency takeover, Luis Suarez’s controversial Italian examination and more.
We catch you up on those stories which might have escaped you.
The PSG and France superstar spoke with both Paris Match and the French giants’ official website this week to discuss various topics and the 22-year-old admitted that he is “thirsty for different cultures” among other things.
“I have learned lessons, even from experiences which were not the best,” Mbappe told Paris Match. “Life experience counts more than money, although it is important as you have a family to provide for. More than anything, I thirst for discovery, travel, meeting players and different cultures.
“Being thought of as a gem was difficult at first. Fortunately, my parents kept the sums from me. How do you educate a 14-year-old who is worth millions? I have a peaceful relationship with money because of that.
“There are many stars at PSG and we win titles as a result. You must be willing to make concessions when you are not the only star, but that is not necessarily a bad thing. I have never looked down on anyone. You can tell me anything. The coach, Mauricio Pochettino, does not shy away. I appreciate his honesty. It saves everyone precious time and that does not just go for me.”
Demain en kiosque dans @ParisMatch #KylianMbappe : «Ma mère insistait pour qu’avant d’être un bon joueur, je devienne un type bien » Elle a réussi ! Au delà du joueur d’exception, #Mbappe est un être à part. Merci @KMbappe @AgencePGoldman pour cette belle rencontre. pic.twitter.com/SfxrwIyOJb
Mbappe also admitted that he would prefer to be less prolific this season than last if it means PSG win both the Ligue 1 and Champions League titles.
“Last year, individually, I had a great year,” he told PSG. “I scored more than 40 goals, I scored in the Champions League, and I was the top scorer in the calendar year, but we did not win Ligue 1 and we did not win the Champions League.
“At the end, you ask yourself if it is worth scoring 50 goals if you do not win. We can say that this time I would prefer to score a few less, provide some assists and win Ligue 1 and the Champions League. Individual goals are good, of course, but if you do not win, you are not quite fully happy.
“The goal is really to win titles — that is the most important thing. Now, we are on the right path because we are still in the running in all the competitions. There are big matches coming up and now that is what we have to prepare for.”
Meanwhile, PSG sporting director Leonardo reiterated the capital club’s desire to keep hold of the Frenchman while speaking with students at Sorbonne University: “Kylian is wonderful, as you know. He is different, unique. You know what we want and that is clear. We will see.”
If that was not enough, Mbappe has also landed himself a new personal collaboration with French luxury fashion house Dior on top of PSG’s collective one.
Dior is pleased to announce footballer @KMbappe as new ambassador for men’s fashion and fragrance. The French world champion will lend his image to the creations by Kim Jones, Artistic Director for Dior men’s collections, as well as to the ‘Sauvage’ fragrance. pic.twitter.com/7pXlvz8Whi
Bradford City have been targeted by cryptocurrency-backed WAGMI United who are planning to use the online trading currency and non-fungible tokens (NFTs) to create their own model of sports club ownership. Bantams’ chairman Stefan Rupp issued a statement denying that a deal is close but acknowledging the interest.
“Despite various reports claiming a change of ownership is imminent, I can confirm it is not,” read the statement. “Yesterday, I received an e-mail from a representative of the WAGMI United group with an offer to purchase Bradford City AFC. That is all I have received, nothing more, and no further action has taken place.”
The Italian Football Federation (FIGC) is no longer looking into the Uruguay international’s language exam from last year ahead of a potential Juventus move. An FIGC statement details that there is “not enough evidence to prove that there has been unlawful conduct relevant to the scope of the federal sports system.”
Suarez, now of Atletico Madrid, underwent an exam at Perugia’s University for Foreigners in September of 2020 as part of a fast-track naturalization attempt to navigate the non-EU player quota in place which raised suspicions of preferential treatment.
Youcef Belaili scored for Algeria to eliminate Qatar in the semifinals of the Arab Cup only to have his contract with Qatar SC rescinded hours later. Although QSC called the move “mutual consent” it still evokes memories of South Korea’s Ahn Jung Hwan being sacked by Perugia after knocking Italy out of the 2002 FIFA World Cup.
فسخ عقد المحترف الجزائري يوسف بلايلي. pic.twitter.com/kYhTBiUTUQ
Belgian coaching legend Francky Dury has finally parted ways with SV Zulte Waregem after 20 years together. An initial three-year spell from 1990-93 was followed by a second from 1994-2001 for the ex-policeman when they were known as Zultse VV and then a third nine-year posting between 2001-10 preceded a final fourth from 2012-21 as Zulte Waregem.
“The club and coach Francky Dury end their cooperation mutually,” read a statement. “The decision takes effect immediately. Davy De Fauw and Timmy Simons are trusted to lead Essevee to safety in the Jupiler Pro League. The club thanks Francky and regretfully bids farewell after an exceptional record of achievements over the past 20 years.”
The club reached the topflight under Dury as well as winning the Belgian Cup twice and venturing into Europe while also finishing second in the league.
Caused by a wave of recent fan violence, professional matches in France will now be “systematically and definitively interrupted” if players and/or officials are hit by projectiles. Crisis units will no longer include club presidents and will have 30 minutes to decide on whether disrupted matches can be finished. The sale and/or possession of plastic bottles in and around stadiums will also be banned by next summer.
The moves come after ugly scenes during Olympique Lyonnais and Olympique de Marseille which saw Dimitri Payet hit by a bottle thrown by a spectator and has resulted in the match being replayed, OL being deducted one point and club president Jean-Michel Aulas receiving a 10-game bane with five in suspended sentence active from next week.
The Serie A strugglers are looking at relegation and are no closer to a permanent buyer as the issues with Claudio Lotito’s dual ownership of Lazio and Salernitana continues to prove problematic. There was no solution found in the summer which pushed a potential takeover deadline to the end of this year and now there are fears that the club will need to be excluded from the league to avoid relegation enabling this problem to continue.
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