Bayer Leverkusen managing director Simon Rolfes rules out a January exit for star attacker Florian Wirtz amid reported interest from a number of clubs including Liverpool....Click Here To Continue Reading>>
Bayer Leverkusen managing director Simon Rolfes has ruled out a January exit for star attacker Florian Wirtz amid reported interest from a number of clubs including Liverpool.
The 20-year-old has recently emerged as a possible target for Jurgen Klopp’s side in the winter window due to the uncertainty over the long-term future of Mohamed Salah.
Liverpool’s No.11 was strongly linked with a summer departure to Saudi Arabia and continues to be linked with a big-money switch to the Middle East despite the Reds’ reluctance to lose their star player.
Klopp is believed to be a huge admirer of German compatriot Wirtz, who has developed into one of the Bundesliga’s brightest prospects since breaking into the Leverkusen first team in 2020.
Wirtz has already featured 118 times for Leverkusen’s senior side across all competitions, scoring 29 goals and registering 39 assists.
Following a lengthy spell on the sidelines with an ACL injury in 2022, the attacking midfielder made his comeback during the second half of last season and contributed with four goals and eight assists in 25 games, and he has since made a bright start to the new campaign.
Indeed, Wirtz has scored six goals and registered nine assists in 15 matches across all competitions, with Leverkusen winning 14 of those as Xabi Alonso’s men sit pretty at the top of both the Bundesliga table and their Europa League group.
Wirtz’s impressive performances for Leverkusen have understandably caught the eye of several top clubs in Europe, with Liverpool expected to face stern competition for his signature from the likes of Premier League rivals Manchester City.
A recent report claims that the treble winners sent scouts to watch Wirtz score during Leverkusen’s 3-2 win against Hoffenheim in the Bundesliga earlier this month, while Manchester United and Barcelona are also believed to be keeping tabs on the 12-cap Germany international.
However, interested suitors have received a blow in their pursuit of Wirtz as Leverkusen chief Rolfes has insisted that the youngster is not for sale.
Asked during an interview with German news outlet Kicker on Wednesday about an alleged £80m offer from Liverpool for Wirtz, Rolfes emphatically replied: “No, no one has approached us – and no one needs that.”
Commenting on the alleged valuation of Wirtz, Rolfes added: “That’s not an issue at all. We are a football club, and not a bank.”
Wirtz, who is expected to play for Leverkusen in Thursday’s Europa League group-stage clash with Qarabag, is under contract with the German club until the summer of 2027.
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Mikel Arteta praises ‘really consistent’ Martin Odegaard
Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta has heaped praise on captain Martin Odegaard amid his impressive form following the November international break.
The Norway international was sidelined with a hip problem last month and it was followed by another absence due to a head collision in training.
Odegaard made his comeback after the internationals. He had a quiet evening at Brentford last weekend, but was on the scoresheet against Lens on Wednesday.
He carried over the good form into the Wolves game, scoring the vital winning goal in the end.
Aside from his strike, the 24-year-old created three big chances for his teammates and was unlucky to not register an assist or two due to poor finishing.
Speaking after the 2-1 victory over Wolves, Arteta said that Odegaard has had two ‘very very good’ games and he is a ‘really consistent’ player.
The Gunners head coach added that the playmaker tends to fare best against high-pressing sides such as Wolves and he was ‘really good’ today.
He told Arsenal.com: “I thought he had two very, very good games and he’s a really consistent player, he gives a lot especially against teams like that, they didn’t want to defend very close to their own box and I think he was really good today.”
Odegaard has not played with the same creative freedom as last season, but he has still netted seven goals and provided two assists from 18 games.
The Norwegian appears to be picking up his form at the right time and he will be crucial to the Gunners’ chances of challenging for the league title again.
Today’s win has taken the Gunners to 33 points from 14 games. They are four points ahead of second-placed Manchester City, who have a game in hand.
Stats from Transfermarkt.com & Sofascore.co
Martin Odegaard was back to his best vs Wolves
Arsenal captain Martin Odegaard was back to his best during the 2-1 win over Wolverhampton Wanderers in the Premier League on Saturday.
The Gunners made it three league wins on the bounce after beating Wolves at the Emirates Stadium. Bukayo Saka opened the scoring in the sixth minute.
A wonderful bit of team play contributed to Odegaard doubling the lead in the 13th minute.
Arsenal should have been out of sight with the chances in the final third, but they had a nervy finish in the end after Matheus Cunha scored, four minutes from time.
A defensive mishap from Oleksandr Zinchenko paved the way for the goal, but the Gunners managed to hang on for a well-deserved victory over Gary O’Neil’s side.
In our view, Odegaard was clearly the man of the match with one of his best performances of the season.
The Norwegian was inconsistent with his form earlier this campaign, but he appears to be finding his feet at the right time for the Gunners in their title pursuit.
Against Wolves, he had 97 touches with 77 passes at an accuracy of 89 per cent. He had no defensive work to do, but was brilliant with his attacking display.
Odegaard managed six key passes and created three big chances for Gabriel Jesus, Leandro Trossard and Eddie Nketiah respectively, but they failed to extend the lead.
The Gunners should have been out of sight with at least a five-goal margin, but they were made to work hard for the victory after a late consolation strike from Cunha.
The win over Wolves has seen the club extend their lead at the top of the table to four points.
Stats from Transfermarkt.com & Sofascore.com
Serbia’s Hamad Medjedovic crowned Next Gen ATP Finals champion
Twenty-year-old Serbian sixth seed Hamad Medjedovic is crowned the Next Gen ATP Finals champion with a captivating victory over Arthur Fils in Sunday’s final.
Twenty-year-old Serbian sixth seed Hamad Medjedovic was crowned the Next Gen ATP Finals champion with a captivating victory over Arthur Fils in Sunday’s final.
Emulating the feats of his compatriot Novak Djokovic in November’s ATP Finals, Medjedovic brought home another trophy to Serbia with a 3–4, 4–1, 4–2, 3–4 , 4–1 victory in just after two hours.
Medjedovic’s success caps off a stellar breakthrough year for the 2003-born protege, who reached the first round of Wimbledon and the French Open for the first time in 2023 and came close to breaking into the top 100, getting as high as world number 102 in October....Click Here To Continue Reading>>
“I can’t believe I have won this title, but it’s going to give me a lot of confidence for 2024. Arthur is an amazing player; he’s Top 40 for a reason, so I’m really happy,” Medjedovic said on the court.
“It was tough after the first set. I changed my clothes and recovered and started to play good again. I didn’t play good when I had match points in the fourth set. I wasn’t relaxed, I was very stiff. Thank God I recovered and I was just trying to stay relaxed as much as I could and I managed to do it in the end.”
2023 ATP Finals Champion: Novak Djokovic 🇷🇸2023 Next Gen ATP Finals Champion: Hamad Medjedovic 🇷🇸Learning from the best 👀 pic.twitter.com/ie284rcZ3M— Tennis TV (@TennisTV) December 2, 2023
Making a name for himself throughout the tournament with his blistering serves, the Serbian fired 19 aces past Fils throughout the contest and won 88% of points behind his first serve in total.
Medjedovic also kept his mistakes to a minimum, only producing nine unforced errors and 32 winners, as well as saving all four break points he faced against his French foe.
The 20-year-old recovered from a couple of early unforced errors in the fourth-set tie-breaker to bring up two match points, although he failed to take either of them as Fils took the contest to the distance.
However, an inopportune unforced error from Fils on break point allowed Medjedovic to establish an early two-game lead in the fifth set, and the Serbian quintessentially confirmed his champion status with an ace on match point.
Alongside his Next Gen supremacy, Medjedovic also took home three Challenger level titles in the 2023 season, as well as getting to the semi-finals of the Astana Open and Swiss Open on the ATP Tour.
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