BREAKING NEWS: Jurgen Klopp agrees new Liverpool deal until 2024

Liverpool have tied Jurgen Klopp down to a new four-and-a-half-year contract as the Reds charge towards a first Premier League title.

Jurgen Klopp has signed a new two-year contract extension with Liverpool, keeping him on Merseyside until 2024, the club confirmed on Friday.

The German sees the agreement as an indicator of where the club is heading, convinced Liverpool’s development will only continue.

“For me, personally, this is a statement of intent, one which is built on my knowledge of what we as a partnership have achieved so far and what is still there for us to achieve,” Klopp said.

“When I see the development of the club and the collaborative work that continues to take place, I feel my contribution can only grow.

“People see what happens on the pitch as a measure of our progress and, although it is the best measure, it’s not the only measure. I have seen the commitment from ownership through to every aspect and function of the club you can think of.

 

“When the call came in autumn 2015, I felt we were perfect for each other; if anything, now I feel I underestimated that.

“It is only with a total belief that the collaboration remains totally complementary on both sides that I am able to make this commitment to 2024. If I didn’t, I would not be re-signing.”

Lionel Messi the best of his time, not all time – Ronaldinho

Barcelona are being carried by Lionel Messi’s brilliance this season, though Ronaldinho doubts suggestions he is the best of all time.

Lionel Messi can certainly be considered the best player of his era but Brazil great and former Barcelona team-mate Ronaldinho does not think he is the greatest of all time.

Messi won a record sixth Ballon d’Or earlier this month, taking him ahead of long-time rival Cristiano Ronaldo.

While the Juventus star has shown signs of decline over the past year or so at 34, Messi – two years his junior – continues to sparkle in LaLiga with Barca.

Despite missing a chunk of the early-season action through injury, Messi already leads the scoring charts in Spain’s top flight with 12 goals from just nine starts – Karim Benzema has 11 from 14.

The Argentina star’s form has been particularly impressive over the past six weeks, netting 13 times in 10 games for club and country, most recently hitting a hat-trick in Barca’s 5-2 triumph over Real Mallorca.

But Ronaldinho, who spent the best part of four years as Messi’s team-mate, is uneasy about suggestions the forward is the greatest to ever play the sport.

Speaking at a charity event in Mexico, Ronaldinho said: “I’m glad for Messi because he’s a friend, aside from the fact he’s been a leader of Barcelona.

“I don’t like comparisons because it’s hard to identify who is the best in history. There’s Diego Maradona, Pele, Ronaldo.

“I can’t say that Messi is the best ever, but he is the best in his time.”

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer recalls first sign of Mason Greenwood’s ability as a seven-year-old

Mason Greenwood’s bright future became obvious to Ole Gunnar Solskjaer in an early meeting between the pair.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer revealed how he first identified Mason Greenwood’s talent when the Manchester United prodigy was aged just seven.

Greenwood, now 18, became the youngest player to notch a brace for the club in a major European competition when he struck twice in the 4-0 Europa League win over AZ on Thursday.

The teenage attacker has scored six times in total this term despite starting only seven matches.

Solskjaer described Greenwood’s finishing as “different class” after the AZ win and explained the origins of his admiration for the exciting homegrown prospect.

“I actually remember when I met him the first time,” the United manager told reporters.

“My son was training at The Cliff [United’s former training base] as an eight-year-old. Mason was seven. The first time I saw him he stood out.

“I took a picture with him and he’s now here. It’s just what we do. When he signed his contract, we had a nice little memory.”

Asked who requested the photo, Solskjaer joked: “I asked him because I knew he was going to be a [great] player! He’s probably got it [the photo].”

Greenwood may still have to settle for a place among the substitutes when United entertain Everton on Sunday.

The Toffees will again be under the stewardship of interim manager Duncan Ferguson, who celebrated a 3-1 victory against Chelsea last weekend.

Solskjaer suggested the trend of ex-players taking charge of their former clubs could become commonplace in the Premier League.

“Duncan knows Everton, Frank [Lampard] knows Chelsea, Frederik [Ljungberg] has been at Arsenal and knows Arsenal well, I know this club well,” the Norwegian said.

“I don’t know how other clubs think, but I know we have traditions we need to keep, and we need to stick to them.

“We need to stick to the values of the club and probably others might start thinking the same.”

The Red Devils boss indicated Jesse Lingard is expected to be fit to face Everton after sustaining a knock in the Manchester derby, while Paul Pogba will “probably” return to full training next week alongside Eric Bailly and Timothy Fosu-Mensah.

BREAKING NEWS: Steven Gerrard signs Rangers contract extension

Rangers have secured the future of manager Steven Gerrard, who has signed a new contract that runs to 2024.

Steven Gerrard has signed a two-year contract extension to keep him as Rangers manager until 2024, the club have confirmed.

Liverpool great Gerrard, 39, confirmed earlier this week talks over a new deal were at an advanced stage and confirmation of an agreement arrived on Friday.

The former midfielder took charge at Rangers ahead of the 2018-19 season and led them to a second-placed finish, but they look set to run Celtic much closer this term and Gerrard is thrilled to see the club building towards success once again.

“I’m delighted to be extending my stay at this fantastic football club,” Gerrard told the club’s website.

“When Dave King [chairman] approached me about the possibility of extending my contract with Rangers, it was a very easy decision to make because I’m very happy and feel that we are building something special together at the club.

“I’d like to thank the board for the backing they have given me already in my time at the club and also most importantly, the Rangers fans who have given me and the team such tremendous backing both this season and last.”

Although Rangers ended nine points adrift of Scottish Premiership champions Celtic last season, they improved on their third-place finish from the campaign before and are on track for a real title tussle in 2020.

After 15 matches, Rangers are just two points adrift of Celtic, with the pair running away from the rest of the pack, as Motherwell in third are seven points further behind despite playing two matches more.

Gerrard’s contract extension comes as a major show of faith less than a week after losing 1-0 to Celtic in Sunday’s thrilling League Cup final.

Rangers were the better side for much of the contest but failed to make the most of Celtic being down to 10 men for the final 27 minutes following Jeremie Frimpong’s dismissal.

They followed that up with a 1-1 draw with Young Boys in the Europa League on Thursday, securing their progress to the knockout phase from a tricky pool that also included Porto and Feyenoord.

Neymar’s father denies Bartomeu rift over lingering Barcelona lawsuit

Neymar Sr has insisted there is no bad blood between his son and Josep Maria Bartomeu, Barcelona’s president.

Neymar’s ongoing legal action against Barcelona has not harmed his relationship with club president Josep Maria Bartomeu, according to the player’s father.

Ex-Barca star Neymar initiated a lawsuit against his former employers soon after joining Paris Saint-Germain in 2017.

The dispute over a €26million unpaid loyalty bonus remains before the courts but, on Thursday, Spanish newspaper Mundo Deportivo claimed the 27-year-old had filed a new €3.5m claim.

Neymar Sr addressed the matter in a radio interview and said it was “nothing new” as he expressed confidence a settlement would be reached.

“It’s a thing from the past, when Neymar left Barcelona,” he told COPE. “We always want to reach an agreement, it is better for everyone. Barcelona are not worried about this and neither are we.”

The legal friction further complicated Neymar’s recent attempt to secure a move back to Camp Nou, which failed to materialise.

Lionel Messi admitted some at the club opposed the attacker’s return but Neymar Sr insisted there was no bad blood between the Selecao star and Bartomeu, who has since ruled out a January approach.

“We have never had a bad relationship with Bartomeu,” Neymar Sr said, before adding: “We don’t know anything about the future.

“Neymar has a contract with the PSG. He is happy.”

Neymar is in his third season with Ligue 1 side PSG, having spent four at LaLiga champions Barca following his arrival in Spain from Santos.

Reports say Pep Guardiola has break clause in Manchester City contract

Pep Guardiola could leave Manchester City at the end of the season due to an exit clause in his contract, according to a new report.

Murmurs about Pep Guardiola’s potential departure from Manchester City are not going away.

Recent reports have suggested the successful Catalan could look to leave the Etihad Stadium at the end of the season.

It now appears Guardiola has the power to make that happen.

TOP STORY – GUARDIOLA’S ESCAPE ROUTE

An exit clause in the contract Guardiola signed last year gives the two-time Premier League winner the chance to leave City at the conclusion of the campaign, reports the Daily Mail.

Guardiola’s deal, which he renewed in May 2018, runs through to 2021, but it seems he will have a decision to make when the club’s title defence comes to a close.

City have formulated contingency plans, according to the report, and are “known to be admirers” of former Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino.

Guardiola, 48, has been linked with a return to Bayern Munich but last month said he was “open” to signing another contract extension with City.

ROUND-UP

– Manchester United missed out on Liverpool-bound Takumi Minamino because the Old Trafford club were unaware of a £7.25million exit clause in the winger’s Salzburg contract, says the Mirror.

– Bundesliga side Borussia Dortmund want to keep Jadon Sancho in January but Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s United are confident of pushing through a transfer for the England international, claims the Mirror.

– Inter are monitoring Argentine attacking midfielder Rodrigo De Paul but are not prepared to meet Udinese’s €35m asking price, according to CalcioMercato.

– Carlo Ancelotti is set to fly to London for talks with Everton as the managerless Merseysiders look to beat Arsenal to the ex-Napoli boss, says the Sun.

– Ivan Rakitic appears set to stay at Barcelona after all. The midfielder wants to continue at Camp Nou after breaking back into the starting XI over the past four matches, reports Marca.

Presidents Cup 2019: Perspective the motto for Els as Leishman disagrees with Cantlay

The USA fought back but International captain Ernie Els was still pleased with Friday’s showing in Melbourne.

Ernie Els maintained the Internationals are still in a “very good position” at the Presidents Cup, despite a late fightback from the United States.

Defending champions the USA won two foursomes matches late on Friday to shift the momentum in Melbourne.

The Internationals led all five matchups not long after 14:00 local time (03:00 GMT), which would have given them a 9-1 advantage heading into Saturday morning’s four-ball.

However, the Internationals ended day two 6.5 – 3.5 ahead of the USA following clutch birdie putts from Patrick Cantlay and Justin Thomas at Royal Melbourne Golf Club.

As the Internationals fight to snap the USA’s dominance and claim their first Presidents Cup crown since 1998, captain Els said: “It’s perspective, isn’t it? I’ve got to look at where we are.

“It’s easy to just look at where we could have been, because it was looking really unbelievable. But we’re in a very good position.”

“The big picture is what it is,” Els continued. “I’m just looking at my guys and I want my guys to play as good as they can and get as good a result as they can. They have put a lot of work into this and it’s been quite a week already. This was probably good for them, showing what can happen the last couple holes.

“Saying that, we’re in the lead. The Americans played wonderfully on the 18th hole and all credit to them. They stuck to it and they grinded it. My guys learnt a lot from this afternoon. We won’t make this happen again. But they played great birdies, great shots, and that’s why they are champions.”

After the USA battled to keep the Internationals in sight, American golfer Cantlay told reporters the momentum is with the champions ahead of the first match on Saturday.

But International and Australian star Marc Leishman – who beat Patrick Reed and Webb Simpson 3 and 2 alongside Abraham Ancer – added: “I would probably disagree. It’s very early. They were tied – they made a couple good putts on 18, definitely give them that, but I don’t think you get momentum with two putts. We played pretty well the first two sessions.

“Yes, today probably didn’t finish off the way we wanted to but we still halved the session. We know it’s 18-hole matches and you have to be right there at the end.

“They made a couple putts at an important time, but if they feel that, that’s great. We probably don’t feel that way.”

Presidents Cup 2019: Tiger Woods says not playing is part of plan

United States captain Tiger Woods fronts the media

Tiger Woods discussed his decision to skip Saturday’s four-ball in Melbourne.

Tiger Woods said it would be hard for him to play all the sessions at the Presidents Cup after opting to sit out Saturday’s four-ball.

United States captain Woods has been red-hot in Melbourne, where the 15-time major champion has helped the defending champions win two of their points against the Internationals – who lead 6.5 – 3.5.

Following Thursday’s masterclass in the four-ball, Woods teamed up with Justin Thomas again on Friday in the foursomes to beat Hideki Matsuyama and Byeong Hun An 1up at Royal Melbourne Golf Club.

However, Woods will not back up with Thomas for Saturday’s early matches, instead bringing in Rickie Fowler against Marc Leishman and Li Haotong.

 

Discussing his decision, Woods told reporters: “That was kind of the game plan. It would be hard for me to go all the sessions.

“I’ve been fortunate enough to go out there with J.T. and we’ve gotten two points. J.T. played great and Rickie played awesome this afternoon.

“They have been looking forward to playing with one another. They have had success before, and send them back out.”

The USA – eyeing an eighth consecutive Presidents Cup title – produced a late fightback to shift the momentum on Friday.

Ernie Els’ Internationals threatened to sweep all five foursomes at one stage, before the USA rallied to win two of the final three matchups.

Clutch birdies from Patrick Cantlay and Thomas ensured the USA ended the day only three points behind the Internationals.

“At one point, we were down in four and even in one, and so it looked pretty bleak, but the guys turned it around,” American superstar Woods said.

“They played phenomenal coming in. It was important for us to end the way we did and it totally changed the last hour.”

 

On his own match alongside Thomas, who sealed victory in stunning fashion to spark joyous celebrations, Woods added via Golf Channel: “We were just fighting. We were just fighting. It’s J.T. and I and we got in our own little bubble and doing our thing.

“We were up early, they flipped it on us and then we were kind of fighting, clawing our way back. Last hole, gives me absolute chills, man.”

Presidents Cup 2019: The USA’s momentum-changing fightback in Melbourne

Tiger Woods and Justin Thomas

We take a look at how the United States turned around Friday’s foursomes at the Presidents Cup.

The United States were staring at a huge deficit at the Presidents Cup before a momentum-changing final 90 minutes in Melbourne.

The Internationals led all five foursomes matches not long after 14:00 local time (03:00 GMT) at Royal Melbourne Golf Club on Friday.

That would have sent the USA into the weekend trailing 9-1, but instead they rallied and finished the day behind 6.5 – 3.5.

The turnaround could be what Tiger Woods’ team needed in their bid for an eighth straight Presidents Cup title.

Patrick Cantlay/Xander Schauffele and Woods/Justin Thomas grabbed wins, while Rickie Fowler and Gary Woodland halved a match they trailed for almost the entire day.

We take a look at how the USA’s fightback unfolded.

Cantlay clutch to lift the USA

Cantlay and Schauffele trailed through 14 holes against Joaquin Niemann and Adam Hadwin, but they produced the first late rally.

A birdie at the par-five 15th brought the USA level after Schauffele put an approach to within three feet.

But the big moment came at 18, where Cantlay holed a 14-footer for birdie and a key point.

Tiger, Thomas fight back

Woods and Thomas were 1down through 12 in what had been a tight battle with Hideki Matsuyama and Byeong Hun An.

Thomas’ approach and Woods’ 10-footer for birdie tied the match before the 2017 US PGA Championship winner stepped up big time on the last.

The world number four sunk a 17-foot birdie putt to get the USA another victory.

Fowler, Woodland respond for a half

Fowler and Woodland had trailed from the opening hole against Cameron Smith and Im Sung-jae and were still behind through 16.

However, a birdie at the 17th tied the match as Fowler holed a four-footer after Woodland’s superb approach, denying the Internationals a victory they looked certain to secure all day.

Presidents Cup 2019: Tiger Woods skipping four-ball as Justin Thomas, Rickie Fowler team up

Tiger Woods

Justin Thomas and Rickie Fowler will team up while Tiger Woods will miss Saturday’s four-ball matches.

Tiger Woods is skipping Saturday’s four-ball matches at the Presidents Cup as the United States named Justin Thomas and Rickie Fowler to team up.

The USA trail the Internationals 6.5 – 3.5 heading into the third day at Royal Melbourne Golf Club.

Woods and Thomas have collected two of the USA’s points, but the 15-time major champion will not be in action in Saturday’s early matches.

Thomas will play with Fowler against Marc Leishman and Li Haotong, who is featuring for the first time in Melbourne.

Patrick Cantlay and Xander Schauffele will team up for the third straight day after a win and a loss to start the Presidents Cup, facing Im Sung-jae and Abraham Ancer.

Despite two losses, Woods is sticking with Patrick Reed and Webb Simpson, who will take on Hideki Matsuyama and C.T. Pan again in the four-ball format. The International duo won Thursday’s contest 1up.

The final four-ball match on Saturday will see Adam Scott and Byeong Hun An, winners on Thursday, face Matt Kuchar and Tony Finau.

Following two straight losses, USA star Dustin Johnson will miss the four-ball matches.

Saturday’s four-ball matches (Internationals v the USA)

Li Haotong/Marc Leishman v Rickie Fowler/Justin Thomas
Abraham Ancer/Im Sung-jae v Patrick Cantlay/Xander Schauffele
C.T. Pan/Hideki Matsuyama v Webb Simpson/Patrick Reed
Byeong Hun An/Adam Scott v Tony Finau/Matt Kuchar

Presidents Cup 2019: Tiger Woods equals record

American superstar Tiger Woods

Tiger Woods’ 26th victory at the Presidents Cup was a significant moment in Melbourne on Friday.

Tiger Woods tied the record for most wins at the Presidents Cup as the United States rallied against the Internationals.

American superstar Woods earned his 26th win at the event, equalling Phil Mickelson’s all-time record on Friday.

USA captain Woods moved level after the 15-time major champion and Justin Thomas beat Hideki Matsuyama and Byeong Hun An in the foursomes matchup.

Seven-time reigning champions the USA salvaged 2.5 points late in the day to halt the momentum of the Internationals at Royal Melbourne Golf Club.

Heading into Saturday’s third session, the USA trail 6.5 – 3.5 in the 13th edition of the Presidents Cup, with the Internationals seeking their first title since 1998.

Presidents Cup 2019: Clutch birdies give rallying USA momentum in late fightback

USA captain Tiger Woods celebrates Justin Thomas' late birdie

Just as the Internationals appeared set to create some significant breathing space, the USA mounted a late charge on Friday.

The Internationals stayed ahead in the second session at the Presidents Cup, but the United States salvaged 2.5 points to shift the momentum in Melbourne.

Ernie Els’ Internationals threatened to sweep all five foursomes at one stage on Friday before defending champions the USA rallied to win two of the final three matchups.

Clutch birdies from Patrick Cantlay and Justin Thomas ensured Tiger Woods’ team ended the day only 6.5 – 3.5 adrift at Royal Melbourne Golf Club.

Only once in history has a team come from behind after two sessions to win the Presidents Cup – the USA in 2005 when they trailed 6.5 – 5.5 and won 18.5 – 15.5 in Virginia.

Leading 4-1 following Thursday’s four-ball, the Internationals looked on track to secure another four points in their bid to claim a first Presidents Cup title since 1998.

After Dustin Johnson’s flawless foursomes record at the Presidents Cup was ended in a 3 and 2 loss alongside Matt Kuchar against Adam Scott and Louis Oosthuizen, the Internationals stretched their lead to 5-1.

While another 3 and 2 victory – this time for Abraham Ancer and Marc Leishman over Patrick Reed and Webb Simpson – secured one more point for the International team, Cantlay’s late heroics inspired a USA fightback.

The clash between Cantlay/Xander Schauffele and Joaquin Niemann/Adam Hadwin was tied from the 15th hole until the former birdied the par-four 18th.

That sensational 1up win had a knock-on effect for seven-time reigning champions the USA as captain Woods and Thomas added another point in dramatic fashion.

Level through 17 against Hideki Matsuyama and Byeong Hun An, Woods set up Thomas for the chance to win the match and he held his nerve to drain a memorable long-range birdie – sparking celebrations.

That result saw 15-time major champion Woods equal Phil Mickelson’s record for most matches won at the Presidents Cup with 26.

With the USA on a roll, Rickie Fowler and Gary Woodland also battled in the fifth and final contest to halve their match against Cameron Smith and Im Sung-jae.

Fowler and Woodland had trailed from the opening hole but a clutch birdie putt – set up by Woodland’s approach – tied things up through 17 against Smith and Im before pars at the last.

Presidents Cup 2019: Patrick Reed taunts crowd amid heckles

Public enemy number one in Melbourne after his antics at the Hero World Challenge, Patrick Reed responded to fans on Friday.

Patrick Reed taunted the Presidents Cup crowd amid ongoing backlash following cheating allegations at the Hero World Challenge, mimicking a shovelling motion in response to heckling.

Reed – the 2018 Masters champion – arrived at Royal Melbourne Golf Club as public enemy number one after his two-stroke penalty during last week’s tournament in the Bahamas.

Already a maligned figure on the PGA Tour, American golfer Reed was penalised for improving his lie in the bunker, hitting the sand twice during his practice swings, sparking controversy and claims of cheating.

The Melbourne crowd made their feelings known on Thursday, Reed booed as he and the United States teed off in the four-ball contest against the Internationals.

Reed was targeted again in Friday’s foursomes, one fan yelling for the 29-year-old to miss a birdie putt on the 11th hole.

Unperturbed, Reed – playing alongside Webb Simpson in the alternate shot format – made the clutch putt before cupping his ear and mimicking a shovelling motion.

The USA – eyeing an eighth consecutive Presidents Cup title – entered the second session trailing the Internationals 4-1.

Australia, New Zealand bid to co-host 2023 Women’s World Cup

FFA and NZF are submitting a bid to co-host the FIFA Women’s World Cup in 2023.

Australia and New Zealand have come together to submit a bid to co-host the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup.

Football Federation Australia (FFA) and New Zealand Football (NZF) confirmed the joint bid in Melbourne on Friday.

The move was made with FIFA expanding the tournament from 24 teams to 32 in 2023.

“As trusted members of FIFA, FFA and NZF are committed to hosting an excellent Women’s World Cup that delivers real benefits for the game not only during tournament time, but in the lead up to the competition and afterwards,” FFA chairman Chris Nikou said in a statement.

“The decision to host the FIFA Women’s World Cup in 2023 in Australia and New Zealand, two leading nations in the promotion of women’s football and gender equality, will accelerate the game at both the grassroots and professional levels, lighting a path for future generations of footballers, administrators, and fans in Asia-Pacific.”

NZF president Johanna Wood said: “NZF and FFA are excited to be joining together ‘As One’ to bid for the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023. The opportunity to partner, across not just member association boundaries but also confederation boundaries, represents a new level of cooperation for football.

“I would like to thank the team who have worked tirelessly to get our submission together which is no mean feat but, more importantly, demonstrates the strong relationship between our two nations and member associations.”

Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Japan and South Korea, potentially alongside North Korea, are also set to bid to host the tournament.