Jones is unsure of his starting point McGeechan backs England star to captain British and Irish Lions

British and Irish lion’s guru Sir Ian McGeechan chose the man he thinks should lead the South African tour next year, scorning Welsh favorite Alun Wyn Jones and English Owen Farrell. Rugby fans can book British and Irish Lions Tour Tickets on our website on exclusively discounted prices.

The Scotsman was the head coach of the British and Irish Lions in 1989, 1993, 1997 and 2009. In 2005, he trained halfway through the week on tour to New Zealand. Although there is uncertainty surrounding the tour, “Geech” believes that choosing the captain is a simpler task.

Jones is unsure of his starting point McGeechan backs England star to captain British and Irish Lions
Jones is unsure of his starting point McGeechan backs England star to captain British and Irish Lions

“Predicting who Gatland could select as captain, however, takes less guesswork, McGeechan writes in his Telegraph column. To be honest, I think there are probably only three genuine contenders: Owen Farrell, Alun Wyn Jones, and Maro Itoje.”

Crucially, he does not believe that Alun Wyn Jones is a certainty, to begin with, effectively ruling the Welsh out of the role. Jones is not sure of his starting point. He will be 35 years old by next summer and the competition in the lock is fierce.

“James Ryan has really moved on and would start with him and Itoje together at the lock if the first test were tomorrow.”

Itoje, at least, is a certain opener. One of the few on the team. And I think that is important. You can argue that you have a tour captain and a test captain, but I think the key moments of a tour come in the melting pot of the test match arenas, so that’s where you want your tour; your emissary in the field.

Jones is unsure of his starting point McGeechan backs England star to captain British and Irish Lions
Jones is unsure of his starting point McGeechan backs England star to captain British and Irish Lions

“Itoje is a player that I admire tremendously, said McGeechan, who studied the lock game in England. What you see is an intelligent player who reads the game well, places himself in key positions at key moments in the game, to slow down or accelerate as needed.”

McGeechan believes that the loss of the Saracens’ lockdown in the Rugby World Cup final will have taught him long before a tour in which the Springboks will seek to physically intimidate tourists. Rugby fans can book British and Irish Lions Tour Tickets on our website.

“He certainly is a player that I would love to have coached. Technically and physically, Itoje is designed for modern gaming; hit the rucks with precision and create turnovers, if you lose it will punish you and you have good hands. But, above all, his uncompromising attitude stands out. Itoje is incredibly competitive.”

Jones is unsure of his starting point McGeechan backs England star to captain British and Irish Lions
Jones is unsure of his starting point McGeechan backs England star to captain British and Irish Lions

Lan McGeechan

The Lions guru believes Itoje would demand respect from his teammates on the tour. “Everyone has been against him by club and country and they know what it is about. Itoje is the type of player you want to play with instead of against it. Martin Johnson was the same, a nightmare to play against.”

McGeechan admits that Owen Farrell, many people’s favorite for the captain, is doing a good job with England, but should let him play without the pressure of the captaincy. Latter month McGeechan selected a British and Irish Lions, XV, for next year’s South African tour, which rugby enthusiasts will find it very difficult to discuss.

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Roman Abramovich cautioned of financial deterioration as Chelsea fall and opponents surge in report

The club’s profitability is down according to KPMG’s annual audit of finances while Tottenham Hotspur sees huge growth.

Chelsea has fallen to seventh in KPMG’s annual report of the most valuable football clubs, with Tottenham Hotspur closing the gap on their London rivals amid a warning of a “significant deterioration of profitability” for the Blues. Champions League fans from all over the world can buy online Champions League Tickets to enjoy its stunning performances.

Roman Abramovich’s club is one of two sides in the top 10, along with Arsenal, to have not posted a year-on-year-increase and four in the top 20 on top of West Ham United and Leicester City.

Roman Abramovich cautioned of financial deterioration as Chelsea fall and opponents surge in report
Roman Abramovich cautioned of financial deterioration as Chelsea fall and opponents surge in report

Liverpool and Manchester City have surged clear of the Blues in the Football Benchmark report, while Manchester United remains the highest-ranked of nine Premier League teams in the top 30. Real Madrid is the top overall.

Chelsea has an enterprise value of £1.88billion, a 0.4% year-on-year decrease, while Spurs have risen by 23% to £1.75bllion, according to KPMG.

The report describes enterprise value as “the sum of the market value of the owners’ equity, plus total debt, less cash, and cash equivalents. It indicates what the business is worth regardless of the capital structure used to finance its operations.”

It continued: “Chelsea FC are suffering a stagnation of their EV, due to a significant deterioration of their profitability in 2018/19 (from a net profit of €28million to a net loss of €125million.”

However, the latest figures are based on the club being in the Europa League rather than Champions League last season – a factor that led to Spurs’ surge along with their lean operation costs under Daniel Levy’s stewardship.

Roman Abramovich cautioned of financial deterioration as Chelsea fall and opponents surge in report
Roman Abramovich cautioned of financial deterioration as Chelsea fall and opponents surge in report

The report added: “On the other hand, Tottenham Hotspur FC, runners up of the 2018/19 UEFA Champions League, are climbing the ranking steadily in the latest seasons, driven by their remarkable revenue growth (a 103% increase in four years and 22% since last year) and their cost-efficiency (39% staff costs to revenue ratio – the lowest in Europe), both metrics leading to record profit results.”

KPMG also warned of difficult times ahead for clubs following the coronavirus pandemic with warnings over the transfer market in particular.

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Chelsea confirm double contract extensions for first-team players

Chelsea has confirmed that they have extended the contracts for Olivier Giroud and Willy Caballero.

Both players had deals that were running out at the end of the 2019/20 campaign however, they have now been extended for another season. Champions League fans from all over the world can buy online Champions League Tickets to enjoy its stunning performances.

Giroud, 33, and Caballero, 38, have mainly been back-up players under Frank Lampard this season, however, both have been called into action in recent months.

World Cup-winner Giroud was keen on a Blues exit in January however, that was blocked due to Chelsea’s failure to bring in another striker in his place.

Chelsea confirm double contract extensions for first-team players
Chelsea confirm double contract extensions for first-team players

With the injury to Tammy Abraham and the disappointing start by Michy Batshuayi, Giroud stepped into the starting XI and impressed.

He scored a big goal against Tottenham Hotspur and bagged another in the 4-0 rout over Everton before the season was suspended.

Frank Lampard said: “Since I have been back at Chelsea, Olivier has been brilliant as a professional and as a man in general.

“He has great qualities to help the squad both on and off the pitch, not only with his talent but with the example he sets every day and the experience he brings to our young squad. I am very pleased that will continue next season.”

With Batshuayi set to be sold this summer, Giroud could be another useful tool for Lampard in what could be a difficult summer to sign new players.

Meanwhile, Caballero replaced Kepa Arrizabalaga in goal after the Spaniard suffered a dip in form.

Caballero started four Premier League games and then the Champions League defeat to Bayern Munich.

Chelsea confirm double contract extensions for first-team players
Chelsea confirm double contract extensions for first-team players

The goalkeeper said: “I am very happy to make this announcement. It is a privilege to be part of this Chelsea squad and the Chelsea family, at one of the most historic clubs in the Premier League.

“I’m sure they will continue to demand the maximum from me and I will compete with the same energy as always. I am very happy.”

Pedro and Willian now remain the two key first-team players who are out of contract this summer and could be set to leave on a free transfer.

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Arsenal morning headlines as advantage gained in Moussa Diaby transfer race, Pepe promise

Arsenal hold transfer advantage in the race for Moussa Diaby – report

Mikel Arteta is interested in signing Bayer Leverkusen winger Moussa Diaby, and Arsenal’s strong relationship with the player’s agent could put them in pole position to complete a deal, according to Le10sport.

Diaby has enjoyed an impressive debut campaign in German football following his move from Paris Saint-Germain last summer, scoring five goals and providing eight assists. Champions League fans from all over the world can buy online Champions League Tickets to enjoy its stunning performances.

He attracted particular attention for his two assists on Monday night against Werder Bremen, and indeed global interest in the 20-year-old will only increase while the Bundesliga remains the only major European league playing football.

Arsenal morning headlines as advantage gained in Moussa Diaby transfer race, Pepe promise
Arsenal morning headlines as advantage gained in Moussa Diaby transfer race, Pepe promise

Diaby, who would reportedly cost around £26million, is also wanted by Borussia Dortmund and may wish to continue his development in Germany.

Ian Wright publicly suggested Arsenal should sign three specific footballers last summer and the club ended up buying one of them, Nicolas Pepe from Lille.

Wright was advising how then manager Unai Emery could improve on the side that had narrowly missed out on Champions League football in 2018/19 by losing the Europa League final to Chelsea.

After first naming Ben Chilwell and Youri Tielemans as players who could help the Gunners, Wright then heaped praise on Lille’s young winger.

“And Nicolas Pepe at Lille,” he told The Mirror “That kind of winger with his intensity pace and skill. Those are the kind of players that are going to improve any team if I’m totally honest.”

Pepe later joined for £72m, and while his debut campaign in England hasn’t gone quite to plan the 24-year-old is improving rapidly under Mikel Arteta.

Pepe promises refugee children to use their suggested new goal celebration

Winger Pepe has revealed the thinking behind his previous goal celebrations in an Arsenal shirt and promised a new one when the football returns.

Arsenal morning headlines as advantage gained in Moussa Diaby transfer race, Pepe promise
Arsenal morning headlines as advantage gained in Moussa Diaby transfer race, Pepe promise

Speaking to refugee children to help promote Coaching for Life, a project that links Arsenal with Save the Children to provide football coaching in the Za’atari Refugee Camp in Indonesia, Pepe talked through the signs he has made after scoring goals.

“The two came from jokes with my friends,” he told Arsenal’s official website. “I was chatting to them and we were trying to come up with a new celebration.”

The children then suggested he adopt a new one, based on a movie – called The Kamehameha from the Dragon Ball cartoon series. The hand gesture involves putting the wrists together and fanning the hands outwards.

“Easy! Is that the one you want me to do?” Pepe said, “For them the children, of course!”

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Frank Lampard names the former Chelsea star that saved him from the worst night of my life

The Blues defied all odds to beat Barcelona at the Nou Camp to reach the Champions League final.

Frank Lampard has admitted he feared for the worst night in his football career when Chelsea went 2-0 down to Barcelona in the semi-final of the 2012 Champions League. Champions League fans from all over the world can buy online Champions League Tickets to enjoy its stunning performances.

The Blues led their Spanish counterparts 1-0 from the first leg but found themselves 2-0 down and a man light after John Terry was sent off early in the first half.

Frank Lampard names the former Chelsea star that saved him from the worst night of my life
Frank Lampard names the former Chelsea star that saved him from the worst night of my life

However, a moment of magic from Ramires before half-time put Chelsea ahead of away goals, before Fernando Torres scored on the counter-attack after a dogged second-half defensive display.

At 2-0, though, and at the mercy of, in Lampard’s eyes, “the best team in the world”, the now-Chelsea boss was fearful of a cricket score.

When we went 2-0 down and we had 10 men and had such a reshuffle, I thought this could be the worst of my footballing life,” Lampard told The Football Show.

“I’m thinking it could have been double figures. I spent the first 20 minutes getting nowhere near Xavi and Iniesta and there’s so much time to go. It sounds funny but I’m not joking.

“You play at that high level and there are players that are so comfortable and can hurt you, with the reshuffle, I didn’t see it coming. If we didn’t score the goal before half-time that changed our feeling, I think it was the only time I got into the Barcelona half.

“Thankfully I had a runner to find, Ramires was in the space, it was a nice pass but an even better finish.”

“At half-time, we had a ‘let’s go, we’ve got a chance’. We were massively handicapped, down to ten men against the best team in the world. It wasn’t so much the words but the feeling at half-time.

Frank Lampard names the former Chelsea star that saved him from the worst night of my life
Frank Lampard names the former Chelsea star that saved him from the worst night of my life

“I remember, I hardly got beyond my 18-yard line in the second half, we were so deep, we couldn’t get up to people. If you went near Iniesta he would just go past you. It was a shuffle, get across, and shuffle. It was a dig in the scenario.

“It’s easy to say now because we had Bayern Munich at their ground to come but it seemed like fate. A game you have no right to win and you win; you do (believe it).”

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Sharks happy to hang onto RWC stars Am and Mapimpi

The Sharks organization have expressed their delight at hanging onto Rugby World Cup heroes Lukhanyo Am and Makazole Mapimpi. The global closure of rugby has made the future of the game in South Africa uncertain, and many high-profile players have recently left in an attempt to secure their future financially.

South Africa Rugby initiated a 21-day contract exit window in late April to allow players to seek alternative offers in a bid to mitigate the financial impact of the game’s suspension. Rugby fans can book British and Irish Lions Tour Tickets on our website on exclusively discounted prices.

This left South African franchises and unions struggling to protect their award-winning assets from talent forays abroad.

Sharks happy to hang onto RWC stars Am and Mapimpi
Sharks happy to hang onto RWC stars Am and Mapimpi

The Sharks have seen Springbok center Andre Esterhuizen depart in a settlement agreed before the Super Rugby season began. But crucially Durban’s men have retained the key men, Am and Mapimpi. Am was named captain of the Sharks earlier this season, which brought the franchise to the top of the Super Rugby table before the season was suspended.

Mapimpi had shown the same great form that saw him lead the scoring for the Springboks at the 2019 Rugby World Cup. Am and Mapimpi combined to create the Springboks’ first attempt at a Rugby World Cup final. Rugby fans can book British and Irish Lions Tour Tickets on our website.

Sharks

Sharks CEO Eduard Coetzee said they had not tried to pressure players to stay under the circumstances, but were delighted with the couple’s commitment to being close friends as well as being Bok’s teammates. The Sharks boss credited coach Sean Everitt for building a culture and environment in which players have been eager to get involved since they took over.

Sharks happy to hang onto RWC stars Am and Mapimpi
Sharks happy to hang onto RWC stars Am and Mapimpi

“This has been quite an emotional and difficult time. What we said to the players is that one way or another they’d be doing nothing wrong,” Coetzee told SA Rugby Mag on Friday.

“It was not like they asked for it the escape clause, but it was an option given to them, and then it was up to them as individuals on how to handle it. I think they have dealt with it really well, and it was done on a platform of respect. I think it speaks volumes about the culture we’ve established and how Coach Sean Everitt has really brought the team closer together.”

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Champions League odds for Chelsea revealed after UEFA confirm plan to complete Bayern Munich tie

UEFA is confident that the Champions League will be completed this season but Chelsea has work to do after losing 3-0 in their round of 16 clashes against Bayern Munich. The football season has been brought to a halt due to the coronavirus crisis but UEFA remains confident that the Champions League in 2019/20 will be completed. Champions League fans around the world can buy online Champions League Tickets to enjoy its stunning performances.

Europe’s governing body is hoping to conclude the knockout rounds of the competition in August once the league campaigns across the continent are complete.

Champions League odds for Chelsea revealed after UEFA confirm plan to complete Bayern Munich tie
Champions League odds for Chelsea revealed after UEFA confirm plan to complete Bayern Munich tie

“We have a concrete plan of finishing the European season,” UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin told beIN SPORTS.

“Of course, this summer we will have to play without spectators at the stadiums. I think the majority of leagues will finish the season. The ones who will not, it’s their decision.

“But they will still have to play qualifiers if they want to participate in the European UEFA competition.”

It remains an odd situation though, with some teams already securing their spot in the quarter-finals while others have the second leg to play – which look set to be played five months after the first legs.

Chelsea fined them in the latter category and, having lost 3-0 to Bayern Munich in the first tie at Stamford Bridge, need a huge turnaround when they travel to Germany for the second game.

With the tie set to take place behind closed doors, Bayern will lose a chunk of their home advantage but the Blues need at least three goals to have any chance of turning the encounter in their favor.

The odds are not in their favor though, with SportNation.bet giving them a 500/1 chance of knocking Bayern out and going on to lift the Champions League.

Champions League odds for Chelsea revealed after UEFA confirm plan to complete Bayern Munich tie
Champions League odds for Chelsea revealed after UEFA confirm plan to complete Bayern Munich tie

Champions League 19/20 winners

Manchester City – 3/1

Bayern Munich – 10/3

Paris Saint-Germain – 4/1

Barcelona – 13/2

Juventus – 12/1

RB Leipzig – 16/1

Atalanta – 25/1

Real Madrid – 25/1

Napoli – 80/1

Lyon – 100/1

Chelsea – 500/1

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Chelsea headlines as Conte contacts Mertens over transfer, UEFA’s Champions League plan

Conte tries to persuade Mertens for Inter move

Chelsea transfer target Dries Mertens has been contacted by Inter boss Antonio Conte in an attempt to persuade him of a move to the Serie A club.

According to Corriere Dello Sport, the former Chelsea boss has been in direct contact with the 33-year-old who has been widely touted with a move away from Napoli at the end of the current campaign. Champions League fans around the world can buy online Champions League Tickets to enjoy its stunning performances.

Inter have reportedly offered Mertens a two-year contract worth €5m per season, whilst Frank Lampard and Chelsea are yet to make an official offer for the forward.

Chelsea headlines as Conte contacts Mertens over transfer, UEFA's Champions League plan
Chelsea headlines as Conte contacts Mertens over transfer, UEFA’s Champions League plan

However, Lampard is said to have been in contact with the 33-year-old about a potential move to Stamford Bridge. Any move for the forward will most likely be on a short-term deal for Chelsea who has a strict policy on offering long-term deals to players over the age of 30.

Abramovich second-richest Premier League owner in Rich List rankings

The latest Sunday Times Rich List rankings see Chelsea’s Roman Abramovich as the second most wealthy owner of a Premier League club.

Only Sheikh Mansour of Abu Dhabi Group (£23.3bn) ranks higher than the Chelsea owner who boasts a wealth of £10.16bn.

The 53-year-old transformed Chelsea into one of the wealthiest clubs in world football when he arrived at Stamford Bridge in 2003 and has enjoyed much success since.

Elsewhere on the rankings list, Arsenal majority shareholder Stan Kronke ranks third with £6.8bn, and Spurs’ Joe Lewis ranks seventh with a wealth of £3.9bn.

UEFA reveals Champions League plan that will impact Chelsea

UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin has provided a positive update on the future of this season’s Champions League and Europa League competitions that are still to be completed.

Chelsea headlines as Conte contacts Mertens over transfer, UEFA’s Champions League plan

Chelsea has very slim hopes of progressing past Bayern Munich after suffering a 3-0 defeat at home. However, a second-leg must take place for Chelsea to officially be eliminated from the tournament and the latest UEFA update has outlined how that might happen.

“We have a concrete plan of finishing the European season,” Of course, this summer we will have to play without spectators at the stadiums. I think the majority of leagues will finish the season. The ones who will not, it’s their decision.

“But they will still have to play qualifiers if they want to participate in the European UEFA competition.”

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Jose Mourinho’s verdict on Willian after Chelsea star opens door to Tottenham transfer

The Brazilian has admitted that Jose Mourinho remains a big friend amid suggestions that he could end up at Tottenham Hotspur this summer. Willian’s contract at Stamford Bridge is due to expire at the end of the season and the winger has already said it is possible that he could make the move to Spurs as a free agent. This is what Mourinho and Willian have said about each other over the years. Champions League fans around the world can buy online Champions League Tickets to enjoy its stunning performances.

William is ‘cream of the crop’ in Old Trafford performance

Mourinho was glowing in his praise of his former player after a 2-1 win for Manchester United over Chelsea in which Willian found the back of the net, predicting that the winger would go on to enjoy a successful World Cup that summer.

Jose Mourinho's verdict on Willian after Chelsea star opens door to Tottenham transfer
Jose Mourinho’s verdict on Willian after Chelsea star opens door to Tottenham transfer

Willian on special relationship with the Special One

Speaking ahead of a London derby against Tottenham Hotspur, Willian took the opportunity to heap praise on his former manager, revealing the true nature of his understanding with Mourinho.

“People ask me about the best coaches I have had. For sure, Mourinho is one of them,” Willian wrote in an article for The Players’ Tribune.

“We had a special relationship. He demanded a lot, so there were some conflicts, but that’s normal. He would challenge me and call out my mistakes, but if I had played well he would also say something like, ‘today you killed it’.”

Mourinho hails ‘magnificent’ Willian after Chelsea scoring run

Mourinho made a point of singling out Willian for praise after strong run of form from the Brazilian, labelling him “magnificent after a stunning freekick winner against Dynamo Kiev in the Champions League.

“He is playing very well,” the Chelsea manager said. “In this moment he is surrounded by other players who are playing very well.

Jose Mourinho's verdict on Willian after Chelsea star opens door to Tottenham transfer
Jose Mourinho’s verdict on Willian after Chelsea star opens door to Tottenham transfer

“To be fair with him there was a period in the season when sometimes I felt he was isolated from the general context. At this moment, he is in the middle of the positive context which is a team playing well, trying to play more and more.

“Obviously, when you’re the match winner with a really special shot, it is no question the praise is fair. The boy is magnificent.”

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Ziyech to open Chelsea wonderkid’s potential as Lampard’s exchange need turns out to be clear

Ziyech can bring the best of Abraham

This season, Tammy Abraham proved that he can replicate his goalscoring exploits in the Championship at a higher level. The Chelsea striker, who returned from his loan spell at Aston Villa ready to stake his place at Stamford Bridge, scored 13 goals this season. Champions League fans around the world can buy online Champions League Tickets to enjoy its stunning performances.

However, while that number is far superior to any teammate Chelsea’s next highest-scorer is Mason Mount with six only one has come since the turn of the year? More than half came in a rich vein of form across three successive games in late-August and early-September.

Ziyech to open Chelsea wonderkid's potential as Lampard's exchange need turns out to be clear
Ziyech to open Chelsea wonderkid’s potential as Lampard’s exchange need turns out to be clear

Abraham has lacked consistency.

Chelsea has also been unable to provide proper service. Willian leads the team with five assists on the year, and per WhoScored, no player created more than chances per game. Perhaps, then, new signing Hakim Ziyech can be the man to unlock the best out of Abraham.

That is the argument of football.london’s Chelsea correspondent, Oliver Harbord. Over the past four Eredivisie campaigns, Ziyech has provided 11, 15, 13, and 12 assists. These numbers rival Eden Hazard and Cesc Fabregas and suggest that Ziyech can provide the type of service that Abraham needs to flourish.

Coutinho would have to do u-turn to secure Chelsea move

With reports claiming that Frank Lampard is keen to add some creativity to his team, on-loan Bayern Munich midfielder Philippe Coutinho has been consistently named as a potential solution.

The Brazilian will return to Barcelona at the end of the season and could be available, either on a permanent though that is unlikely given his wages and the financial pressures of the current climate or temporary basis.

But if Coutinho was to make the Stamford Bridge switch, he would have to make a u-turn on his previous convictions.

“Manchester United is a great club, I have players there and I have all the respect for them, but as far as Philippe goes it would be extremely difficult to a near-impossible move,” his agent, Kia Joorabchain said on talkSPORT last year.

Ziyech to open Chelsea wonderkid's potential as Lampard's exchange need turns out to be clear
Ziyech to open Chelsea wonderkid’s potential as Lampard’s exchange need turns out to be clear

“It would be very difficult for Philippe to play for any of Liverpool’s rivals because he has such a great affinity towards Liverpool. His time there was fantastic.”

Joorabchian then went one step further, revealing that Coutinho would struggle to sign for any Premier League team that isn’t Liverpool: “Every time we’ve spoken about it we’ve had that same conversation, he would find it hard to play for another club in the Premier League.”

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