Sunderland defender Patrick van Aanholt has signed a new four-year contract with the Premier League club. The 25-year-old Netherlands international helped the Black Cats avoid relegation last season. “Patrick was an outstanding performer last season, contributing not only solid defensive performances, but also assists and vital goals,” said Sunderland manager Sam Allardyce. The left-back arrived at the Stadium of Light from Chelsea in 2014. He has scored five goals in 69 appearances, including four in the Premier League last season. “It is fantastic to be able to secure the long-term services of such a talented footballer and athlete, who will hopefully continue to improve here for many years to come,” added Allardyce.
Liverpool striker Christian Benteke says he may have to consider his future if it becomes clear that he does not feature in Jurgen Klopp’s plans. Since October, Benteke started just 13 of 52 matches and was used sparingly as a substitute having fallen behind compatriot Divock Origi. “At 25 years old, I’m neither old nor young but it’s important to play,” the Belgium striker said. “I still have a contract at Liverpool and I’d like to stay there, if I remain in the coach’s plans. “If that’s not the case, it will become difficult to stay. I’ll think about if after the Euros.”
Maria Sharapova has responded to her two-year ban on her Facebook page and says she will appeal. She wrote:
“Today with their decision of a two-year suspension, the ITF tribunal unanimously concluded that what I did was not intentional. “The tribunal found that I did not seek treatment from my doctor for the purpose of obtaining a performance-enhancing substance. The ITF spent tremendous amounts of time and resources trying to prove I intentionally violated the anti-doping rules and the tribunal concluded I did not. “You need to know that the ITF asked the tribunal to suspend me for four years – the required suspension for an intentional violation — and the tribunal rejected the ITF’s position.” “While the tribunal concluded correctly that I did not intentionally violate the anti-doping rules, I cannot accept an unfairly harsh two-year suspension. “The tribunal, whose members were selected by the ITF, agreed that I did not do anything intentionally wrong, yet they seek to keep me from playing tennis for two years. I will immediately appeal the suspension portion of this ruling to CAS, the Court of Arbitration for Sport. “I have missed playing tennis and I have missed my amazing fans, who are the best and most loyal fans in the world. I have read your letters. I have read your social media posts and your love and support has gotten me through these tough days. “I intend to stand for what I believe is right and that’s why I will fight to be back on the tennis court as soon as possible.”
Maria Sharapova has been banned for two years by the International Tennis Federation after failing a drugs test. The Russian was provisionally banned in March after testing positive for meldonium at January’s Australian Open. The heart disease drug, which 29-year-old Sharapova says she has been taking since 2006 for health issues, became a banned substance on 1 January 2016. The ITF said the ban would be backdated to 26 January 2016, the day when she provided the positive test.
Manchester United have completed the signing of defender Eric Bailly from Villarreal. Cote d’Ivoire defender Eric Bailly will sign a four-year deal at Old Trafford, subject to obtaining a work permit.
Eric Bailly on joining Manchester United: “It is a dream come true to be joining Manchester United. To play football at the highest level is all I have ever wanted to do. “I want to progress to be the best that I can be and I believe working with Jose Mourinho will help me develop in the right way and at the right club. I am looking forward to meeting my new team-mates and to starting this new chapter of my life.”
Jose Mourinho on Eric Bailly: “Eric is a young central defender with great natural talent. He has progressed well to date and has the potential to become one of the best around. “We look forward to working with him to help nurture that raw talent and fulfil his potential. Eric is at the right club to continue his development.”
Former Nigeria’s player and coach, Stephen Keshi, has died at the age of 54, the Nigeria Football Federation has said. A former captain of the Nigeria national team, Keshi was one of only two men to win the Africa Cup of Nations both as a player and a coach. He also managed Togo and Mali, and his playing career included spells for Nigerian sides ACB of Lagos and New Nigerian Bank of Benin, Belgian sides Lokeren and Anderlecht, French side RC Strasbourg and USA side Sacramento Scorpions. He is thought to have suffered a heart attack, local media reported. As a player, Keshi was part of the Super Eagles team that won the Nations Cup in 1994 and narrowly missed out on a World Cup quarter-final place the same year. He coached the national side over three spells, leading Nigeria to the 2013 Nations Cup title in South Africa and the last 16 at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. His contract was not renewed after the World Cup but he later returned on a match-by-match deal following the team’s failure to reach the 2015 Nations Cup finals. He was then sacked as caretaker coach but reinstated after intervention from then Nigeria president Goodluck Jonathan. He was sacked for a final time last July.