Barcelona president Joan Laporta has insisted the club have no intention of letting Manchester United target Frenkie de Jong leave this summer.Sources told ESPN earlier this week that United had agreed an initial €65 million fee with Barca for the Dutch midfielder, though it was said that there were still “significant” hurdles to overcome.De Jong, 25, is United manager Erik ten Hag’s top summer target but he is also a target of other clubs.
“Frenkie de Jong is a Barca player and he is considered as one of the best players in the world,” Laporta told reporters on Saturday. “We know other clubs wants him, not just [Manchester] United and we have no intention to sell him. I have a feeling that the player wants to stay.
“He is happy at Barca and I’m going to do everything I can for Frenkie to remain.”
De Jong is under contract with Barca until June 2026 and has said publicly that he would like to stay at the Camp Nou.
Barca paid €75m for De Jong when they signed him from Ajax in 2019 with another €11m in potential add-ons.
United are looking to bolster their midfield after the departures of Paul Pogba and Nemanja Matic at the end of the season. Matic has joined Roma on a free transfer while Pogba will join Juventus.
Barca sold 10% of their domestic television rights to Sixth Street last week for €207.5m and sources told ESPN on Friday that they are hopeful of selling another 15% of their rights in order to further ease their perilous financial situation and raise up to €200m for transfers.
Barca’s gross debt still stands at around €1 billion and they are operating within a LaLiga salary limit of -€144m, which is the only negative cap in the league. The limits will be updated later this summer.
Barca face stern competition to sign Brazilian winger Raphinha from Leeds United this summer. Sources told ESPN Chelsea have agreed a fee in excess of £60m for the Brazilian winger, while Tottenham are also monitoring the situation.
“We have spoken to Leeds,” Laporta said of Raphinha. “We know he is a player that would like to come to Barca but there are also other clubs interested.” Laporta clarified that Raphinha’s potential arrival to the Camp Nou would not stop Barca from attempting to keep Ousmane Dembele at the club.
“It wouldn’t exclude Dembele because the coach [Xavi] sees them as compatible,” he said.
Dembele’s contract at Barca expired last month and he is a free agent.Barca coach Xavi is a big fan of Dembele, who scored two goals and set up 13 more in 32 appearances across all competitions this past season.Laporta has not ruled out the French forward signing a new deal with Barca despite the player having so far rejected all contract extension offers.
“He [Dembele] is a person that we appreciate a lot,” Laporta said. “He has played at a very high level in the second half of the season and the coach is really satisfied with him. It’s a financial issue, he hasn’t said yes or no to us. We have a good rapport with him and there is communication with his agents. If he accepts the conditions, we have presented to him, he will continue, if not, he won’t.
“We don’t have a deadline at all, not even for signings.”
Barca are also chasing Bayern Munich striker Robert Lewandowski and made a third offer for the Poland international this week with the total package worth over €40m.
“We know that he has publicly declared he wants to come to Barca and we are flattered but we have a lot of respect for Bayern Munich, one of the best clubs in the world,” Laporta added Saturday. (ESPN)
New Zealand Tour of West Indies
Akeal Hosein, Alzarri Joseph set up West Indies five-wicket win
On a surface aiding the bowlers, Akeal Hosein made merry with a devastating spell of 3 for 28 in 10 overs while Alzarri Joseph too picked three wickets, bundling out the visitors for just 190 in the 46th over. The chase was not straightforward by any stretch of imagination, but Shamarh Brooks’s calm 79 off 91 balls ensured West Indies tasted rare ODI success in the series opener in Barbados.
Given the tricky conditions, Martin Guptill and Finn Allen made a circumspect start, until the seventh over when the latter took on Jason Holder to clobber one four and two sixes. New Zealand got to 40/0 in 8 overs when the passing showers halted play briefly. Though the break was hardly for 10 minutes, it allowed West Indies to regroup and make quick inroads right after play resumed. First to go was Allen, as he danced down to take on the left-arm spinner Hosein, only for Nicholas Pooran to run back from extra cover and take an excellent, diving catch.
Hosein took out Guptill in his following over to dent NZ further. New Zealand struggled for partnerships from there on as they fell from 53 for 2 to 116 for 5, even as Kane Williamson fought on from one end. That endeavour too was brought to a premature end, as Alzarri Joseph dismissed him for a 50-ball 34 – that ended up being the best batting effort for New Zealand in the game. A 40-run stand for the seventh wicket between Michael Bracewell and Mitchell Santner, followed by a 20-run alliance between Santner and Tim Southee pushed New Zealand past the 150-run mark and close to 200. But Southee and Boult fell in successive overs, leaving New Zealand with 190 in 45.2 overs.
Four balls into the chase, rain arrived again. But this time too it was passing showers that kept the players off the field for 15-odd minutes. When they returned, the senior duo of Boult and Southee saw the back of the West Indies openers by the sixth over, pushing West Indies on the backfoot early in chase. Up stepped Brooks to forge solid partnerships to defy the New Zealand bowlers as he and Keacy Carty added 37 for the third wicket off 48 deliveries. But Santner trapped him leg before to keep the pressure on the chasing side as they were down to 74 for 3. What ensued was the match-winning partnership between Brooks and his captain Nicholas Pooran, as they batted out the next 14.3 overs to add 75 runs.
Southee then came back with some success, as he induced an inside edge off Pooran’s bat that wicketkeeper Tom Latham pouched low. Brooks, who’d got his half-century during his partnership with Pooran, was set to see his team through to the finish line, before Boult too returned to clean him up. But at 149 for 4, New Zealand’s strikes were too little too late. Jason Holder and Jermaine Blackwood – who was playing in his first ODI since 2015 – saw the team through with five wickets and 11 overs to spare.
Rabada five for floors England
Rex Clementine at Lord’s
There aren’t too many lethal bowling attacks in the world than South Africa’s. Well spearheaded by Kagiso Rabada, captain Dean Elgar can turn to Anrich Nortje if he wants extra pace or rely on the versatile Lungi Ngidi for control. If variety is what the South African captain is after, he can bring on Marco Jansen, the left-arm quick. Given such a pace attack, the spin option of Keshav Maharaj becomes indispensable and he wasn’t required to bowl as England were shot out for 165 in their first innings.
The Rainbow Nation is well represented with blacks, whites and coloured players forming the nucleus of the attack. Rabada finished with a five wicket haul, becoming the fourth South African since readmission to get his name in the Honours Board; others being Allan Donald (2), Makaya Ntini (2) and Vernon Philander. How Shaun Pollock and Dale Steyn missed out is indeed a good question.
Rabada had overnight batsman Ollie Pope dropped in the first over of the morning but eventually he cleaned him up for 73. The fifth wicket came when James Anderson was trapped leg before wicket, a decision the batsman unsuccessfully reviewed.
Nortje, probably the quickest bowler in the world at the moment, claimed three wickets while Jansen had two scalps. The 22-year-old from Potchefstroom is considered the next big thing in South African cricket. It’s said he could go onto fill the boots of Jacques Kallis but if he could achieve half the things the great all-rounder finished with, South African cricket will benefit immensely.
South Africa had moved to 27 for no loss at lunch. The first day had been interrupted by bad weather with just 32 overs possible.
Sri Lanka have been well represented at Lord’s Test with former captain Ranjan Madugalle functioning as Match Referee while Kumar Sangakkara is a commentator with Sky. The ex-skipper has signed a three years deal with the host broadcaster replacing Michael Holding.
Emma Raducanu routes Victoria Azarenka in Cincinnati
British number one Emma Raducanu produced another eye-catching display as she routed former world number one Victoria Azarenka less than 24 hours after beating Serena Williams.Raducanu continued her preparations for the forthcoming defense of her US Open title with a 6-0 6-2 win in Cincinnati.
The 19-year-old played Belarusian veteran Azarenka just 18 hours after beating Williams, who will retire after the US Open, 6-4 6-0 on Tuesday.Raducanu faces Jessica Pegula next.The Briton, ranked 13th in the world, will meet the American seventh seed in the last 16 of the Western and Southern Open on Thursday.
“I was playing a great match for sure and to play Vika I had to stay focused throughout,” said Raducanu, who beat 22nd-ranked Azarenka to earn her first top-30 win since last year’s US Open.
Raducanu stunned the sporting world with her unexpected triumph in New York last year, when she became the first qualifier to win a Grand Slam title in what was only her fourth senior tournament.
The victory propelled the previously little-known teenager into global superstardom, but she has since faced the difficulties often encountered by young players in their first full season on the WTA Tour.Regularly hampered by fitness issues this year as she adjusts to the rigours of the senior tour, Raducanu arrived in Cincinnati with a record of 11 wins and 14 losses this season.But with her fearless and accurate ground strokes, she has so far shown a similar level in the WTA 1000 event to the one which led to her success at Flushing Meadows.
Pegula, however, is likely to provide a sterner test – and a more accurate appraisal of Raducanu’s current level – than Williams or Azarenka.In what was her first career meeting with 23-time major champion Williams and likely to be the last, the teenager clinically took advantage of the 40-year-old’s lack of sharpness by hitting 14 winners and making just one unforced error in a ruthless victory.After that night session, Raducanu returned to Cincinnati’s centre court against 33-year-old Azarenka and produced another dominant display.
The forehand continued to be a potent weapon, while she was also helped by wayward returning from the two-time Grand Slam champion.After cruising through a 26-minute opener to record a second straight bagel, Raducanu raced into a 4-0 lead in the next set, before Azarenka finally got on the scoreboard with back-to-back holds.She offered a little more belated resistance when Raducanu served for the match, earning two break points and saving a match point before the Briton wrapped up victory.
“In the second set I could feel the important moments and a couple of turning points that could have made the second set really difficult,” added Raducanu.
“I am really pleased with how I dug in, and serving it out in that last game was really difficult.”
American teenager Coco Gauff has played down the seriousness of the ankle injury which forced her to retire from a first round match against Czech qualifier Marie Bouzkova on Tuesday.With her home Grand Slam looming, the 18-year-old said it was a minor sprain that “should be healed very soon”.
Romania’s Simona Halep pulled out of the Cincinnati event with a thigh injury before Wednesday’s match against Russia’s Veronika Kudermetova, while Polish world number one Iga Swiatek, Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakina and Tunisia’s world number five Ons Jabeur reached the last 16.
New Zealand Tour of West Indies
CB Governor: Lanka now in a position to pay for essentials
CID arrests Mervyn 15 years after he forcibly entered Rupavahini
‘Dates have the highest sugar content to fight Coronavirus’
U.S. Congress to probe assets fleecing by US citizens of Sri Lankan origin
Sunday Island 27 December – Headlines
News5 days ago
Wide ranging rackets benefiting CEB engineers
News4 days ago
Thanks to QR code expenditure on fuel drops from USD 500 million to USD 230 million a month
News4 days ago
Delisting of Tamil Diaspora groups irks some; explanation sought
News3 days ago
SJB alleges Prez under SLPP pressure to give up power to dissolve Parliament
Sports6 days ago
Mathews regrets Mankading of Buttler
News3 days ago
Wimal blames Gota’s naivety, Basil’s arrogance for current situation
News2 days ago
State sector reforms: Herath endorses Ranil’s agenda
News4 days ago
Jugglery alleged in Constitution making process: SJB, Gevindu make strong case against jumbo Cabinet