Fernando Torres has hailed former Liverpool team-mate Steven Gerrard as the best player he has ever played with, putting him ahead of a host of Spanish World Cup winners. Torres won back-to-back European Championships as well as the 2010 World Cup with Spain, playing alongside the likes of Xavi Hernandez and Andres Iniesta. But the 31-year-old says Gerrard, who he shared a successful spell with at Liverpool between 2007 and 2011, is his ideal player. “It is very difficult to choose because I have had the luck to play with a lot of great footballers. For me, the best is and has been Gerrard,” Torres said in an interview with Spanish newspaper Marca. “I would chose him above all if I had to have him in my team, if I had him behind me. Steven Gerrard is the best player I have played with throughout my career, therefore my ideal player would be very like him.” After leaving Liverpool for a disappointing four-year stint at Chelsea, Torres is now back where his career began at Atletico Madrid. And the striker hinted that he could be involved in coaching at Atletico’s youth academy once the time comes to hang up his boots. He said: “For me it would be nice to work with the kids. I think it is important that they have the right coaching and the club is doing a good job in that aspect at the moment. “I compare it to when I started and now they have a lot more facilities and can develop much better.”
David Seaman claims Thibaut Courtois has the edge on David De Gea as the two goalkeepers prepare to meet this weekend. Chelsea’s Courtois and De Gea of Manchester United – widely regarded as two of the world’s best young keepers – line up on opposite sides at Stamford Bridge on Saturday Night Football. The Belgium No 1 has helped Chelsea to the brink of the Premier League title in his first season in England, while De Gea’s form has improved steadily since his arrival at Old Trafford in the summer of 2011. The Spaniard has been linked with Real Madrid and is a candidate for the PFA Player of the Year shortlist but Seaman, who won nine major trophies with Arsenal and was capped 75 times by England, told Sky Sports News HQ:“For me it’s Courtois. “He’s been solid and shown his class. At Chelsea you don’t get a great deal to do (as a goalkeeper), but when he’s been called on he’s been fantastic. “De Gea had a really dodgy start, but he’s shown his character and he’s now showing everybody why Manchester United bought him. He’s a quality keeper who makes some fantastic saves.” The one blot on Courtois’ recent copybook came against Stoke this month when he was beaten by a 60-yard Charlie Adam strike. It was a goal which bore comparison with the famous Nayim goal conceded by Seaman during Arsenal’s Euroepan Cup Winners’ Cup final defeat to Real Zaragoza in 1995. Seaman said: “Going back to Courtois – apart from the goal he let in against Charlie Adam he’s had a great season. I’d tell him: don’t worry, it happens to the best of us!”
Chelsea are expected to confirm a deal to sign Brazilian midfielder Nathan Allan de Souza within the next 24 hours, according to Sky sources. Nathan underwent a medical at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday after the Premier League leaders reportedly agreed a deal worth £4.5m to beat off interest from Manchester City, Arsenal and Liverpool. The 19-year-old youth international broke through the ranks with Atletico Paranaense but has become embroiled in a legal battle with the Brazilian Serie A side and as a result is out of contract at the end of the month. Nathan burst on the scene in the FIFA U17 World Cup in 2013 when he scored five goals to help Brazil reach the quarter-finals. He has since progressed to the U20 side and has notched up five appearances. The teenager is expected to return to Brazil before becoming the seventh Brazilian player at Chelsea full time in June.
World number two Roger Federer and defending champion Stan Wawrinka both suffered third-round defeats at the Monte Carlo Masters. World number nine Wawrinka, the 2014 Australian Open champion, beat fellow Swiss Federer last year to win his first and only Masters 1000 title. But he lost 6-1 6-2 to Bulgaria’s world number 11 Dimitrov in 54 minutes. Second seed Federer was beaten 6-4 7-6 (7-5) by Frenchman Gael Monfils, the world number 18 and 14th seed. It was a second consecutive win on clay for Monfils over the 17-time Grand Slam champion after his straight sets victory during last year’s Davis Cup final. Federer, 33, four times a beaten finalist in this event, was competing for the first time since losing to Novak Djokovic in the Indian Wells final nearly four weeks ago. He was broken in the ninth game of the first set and then squandered a 5-3 lead in the second set tie-break, losing four successive points. Wawrinka had won two of the previous three meetings with Dimitrov, including a clay court encounter at the 2013 World Tour Masters in Madrid. But the 30-year-old Swiss made 41 unforced errors and had just four winners against the ninth seed. He was guilty of 13 of those unforced errors as Dimitrov raced 4-0 ahead, and failed to convert four break points in the sixth game of the second set.
Chelsea captain John Terry should still be playing for England, according to former national boss Fabio Capello. Capello resigned in February 2012 after Terry was stripped of the captaincy by the Football Association over allegations of racial abuse following an incident with QPR’s Anton Ferdinand. Terry, 34, was acquitted after a trial in July 2012 but was banned for four games and fined £220,000 by the FA. “It’s better to have a player like John Terry than not,” said Capello. “England haven’t got a lot of defenders but they sometimes have problems. He is one of the best.”
The American city of Eugene will host the 2021 World Athletics Championships, the IAAF has announced. It will be the first time the event has been staged in the United States. The IAAF say they awarded their premier competition to Eugene without a bidding process “in response to what was seen as a unique strategic opportunity to host the IAAF World Championships for the first time in the USA”. Eugene, in Oregon, staged the World Junior Championships last year.
Manny Pacquiao says the timing is right for his long-awaited fight with American Floyd Mayweather. Welterweights Mayweather, 38, and Pacquiao, 36, are considered two of the best boxers of their generation and the Las Vegas unification bout on 2 May is set to generate £162m ($250m). “It’s a good thing it is happening now because more people are informed about it than before,” Filipino Pacquiao said. “What I feel right now is motivation, inspiration and determination. The killer instinct is there, I love it.” Pacquiao’s WBO belt and Mayweather’s WBC and WBA welterweight titles will be on the line.
Swansea City striker Bafetimbi Gomis has been ruled out for between three to four weeks with a hamstring injury. Gomis, 29, limped off during Saturday’s 1-1 Premier League draw against Everton. The club says the French forward underwent scans which revealed a grade two hamstring strain. Gomis has scored just five goals in 29 Premier League appearances for the Swans, but three of those goals have come in his last three matches.
Fenerbahce will play on Thursday after almost a two-week absence following the gun attack on their team bus, which led to the suspension of Turkey’s SuperLig. The club, who have agreed to face Mersin in the cup after receiving security assurances from the government, had initially stated they would not play until the crime was solved. Turkish football chiefs claimed the 4 April attack was “terrorist” related. The SuperLig resumes on Friday. Fenerbahce will play its next league match on Monday against Bursaspor. Nigeria’s Emmanuel Emenike was in the team bus when it was attacked.
Former QPR boss Harry Redknapp says he would consider another managerial job if the right offer came his way. The 68-year-old handed in his resignation at Loftus Road in February, citing knee problems, although he later claimed “people with their own agendas” had a hand in his departure. “It is difficult to know whether you want to go back in again, but if the right offer came along for the right job then I would consider it, because I do love the game and certainly do miss it,” Redknapp told Press Association Sport. “It has got to be something which I really wanted to do. It would not be a case of the money. I had an offer earlier this week to go and work abroad where the money was incredible, a mind-blowing offer, but at the moment it did not interest me.”
Brown Ideye is doubtful for this weekend’s game due to a knee injury he picked up in training this week. The Nigerian striker will undergo a late fitness test ahead of the trip to Selhurst Park. “Browny has got a little bit of a knock so we’re not sure if he will be fit to start or not,” manager Tony Pulis said. “We’re hoping that he will be.”
Former Borussia Dortmund striker Karlheinz Riedle has compared Jurgen Klopp’s planned departure from the German club to Sir Alex Ferguson leaving Manchester United. Riedle, who also played for Liverpool, told BBC Sportsworld he was “surprised” by the announcement on Wednesday that Klopp would leave at the end of the season. He said: “There is an intense relationship between him and the club. Maybe you could compare it to Manchester United and Sir Alex Ferguson when he left.”
Southampton boss Ronald Koeman says Nathaniel Clyne’s future needs to be sorted before the end of the season. The 24-year-old, who joined from Crystal Palace in July 2012, is under contract until the summer of 2016. The England defender has been linked to a number of clubs and recently said he believed the Champions League was the “next step” in his progression. “We are talking to Clyne and his agent. We can’t wait until the end of the season,” Koeman told BBC Radio Solent. “It’s not like we need to know today or tomorrow but we are talking to them and we will try to do everything to keep the player but you need both parties for that.” Earlier in the week, Clyne said: “I’m flattered by the interest from the big clubs. It shows that I’m doing well and I’ve had a good season. “I’m definitely ambitious. Every player would love to be playing in the Champions League and winning trophies and titles. That’s what you play football for – that’s the dream. “I think I need experience playing European football. We’re doing well with Southampton and hopefully we can get there. “That would be great. So I’m just concentrating on Southampton. There are a few more games to play, so I’m just concentrating on getting to the fourth spot.” Clyne was rested at the weekend but Koeman said it was not contract related and that he would return for Saturday’s game at Stoke.
As the Premier League season reaches its climax, Chelsea have the chance to strengthen their position at the top of the table when they take on Manchester United this Saturday. The key to their success this season could be put down to consistency. John Terry, Eden Hazard and Branislav Ivanovic have played every minute of every game and Jose Mourinho has used just 22 players in the Premier League – the fewest in the top flight. It’s a different story for United manager Louis van Gaal, who has used 32 players this term – more than any other side.
Somalia’s FA president Adbi Qani hopes his country can compete in the 2019 Nations Cup and end an absence that stretches back to 1974. They have only entered the Nations Cup once, with political unrest, a lack of funding and poor infrastructure largely to blame. And along with Eritrea they will not take part in qualifiers for the 2017 edition- the only two nations out of 54 affiliated to the Confederation of African Football to miss out. But Qani believes that with a new national stadium scheduled for completion later this year, the country might be ready to enter again before the end of this decade.
The Professional Footballers’ Association have announced the shortlists for their end-of-season awards, which take place on 26 April in London. For the men, there is little difference between the main and young player awards – David de Gea, Philippe Coutinho, Eden Hazard and Harry Kane are nominated in both categories.
Men’s PFA Players’ Player of the Year:
Diego Costa, Chelsea; David de Gea, Manchester United; Philippe Coutinho, Liverpool; Eden Hazard, Chelsea; Harry Kane, Tottenham Hotspur; Alexis Sanchez, Arsenal.
Men’s PFA Young Player of the Year:
Thibaut Courtois, Chelsea; Philippe Coutinho, Liverpool; David de Gea, Manchester United; Eden Hazard, Chelsea; Harry Kane, Tottenham Hotspur; Raheem Sterling, Liverpool.