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Havertz eager to ‘earn’ Arsenal starting shirt

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Kai Havertz has said he doesn’t expect to walk straight into Arsenal’s first team despite being the third-most expensive signing in the club’s history.

Arsenal signed the 24-year-old from Chelsea in a deal which could reach around £67.5 million ($86.3m), meaning only Declan Rice (£105m from West Ham United) and Nicolas Pepe (£72m from Lille) cost the club more money.

Havertz has formed part of a new-look three-man midfield alongside Rice and Martin Odegaard at times in preseason, but the Germany international is taking nothing for granted as Arsenal continue their Premier League preparations with an Emirates Cup fixture against Monaco next Wednesday.

“I think everyone has to earn their position in the team,” Havertz said. “You play when you train well and play well in the games. I think I have to also give everything in every session, in every game. That is how I get into the team. Not only me but every player. Always in a big club like this there is competition. I am going to give 100% to play.

“Obviously it is a completely different style of football than what we played at Chelsea. I think it’s a style that suits me very well. Of course it always takes a bit of a while to get used to that again. I am two-and-a-half weeks here. It is going to take some time, but I am giving everything to try to perform on a high level.”

Havertz switched positions regularly during Wednesday’s 5-3 friendly win over Barcelona at SoFi Stadium in Los Angeles — moving to the left flank and also through the middle. He scored a goal against the Catalans and believes the new No. 8 role in Mikel Arteta’s preferred 4-3-3 system could help him rediscover his best form after a mixed three-year spell at Stamford Bridge.

Despite scoring the winning goal in the 2021 Champions League final against Manchester City, he struggled to consistently produce his best after joining from Bayer Leverkusen, scoring just 19 goals in 91 games even though he regularly played as a centre-forward.

“I really enjoy it, to play that position [as a No. 8],” Havertz said. “I am more on the ball, more integrated in the game. I am really enjoying it. I think I have a lot of room to improve in the games, I am still adapting to the game and everything. So far it is working quite well.

“I think [goals are] important for my position, and also with my height. I want to score goals. It’s part of my game. I always have to arrive there. Hopefully it works more times in the league now.

“The team is amazing and it definitely feels like home already. They have made it very easy for me to integrate with the team. It is fun to be with them, they are all so young and hungry. This is exactly what I wanted and I am very happy to be here.”

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F1 great Hamilton kept his Ferrari move so quiet even his parents didn’t know

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Formula 1 great Lewis Hamilton kept his Ferrari move so closely guarded that he didn’t even tell his parents until the day it was announced.

The British driver rocked the F1 world when it was announced on Feb. 1 he was joining the Italian manufacturer next year, despite signing a new contract with Mercedes last summer.

“I didn’t speak to anybody. I didn’t tell my parents till the day of it being announced. So, no one knew,” Hamilton told a BBC podcast. “I really wanted to do it for myself. Ultimately, I had to find out what would be the best for me.”

It then emerged that the two-year deal penned with Mercedes and announced last August was actually for one year with an option for a second year, which Hamilton did not take.

Hamilton informed Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff of his decision to leave only the day before over breakfast at Wolff’s home. They have become close friends over the years after Hamilton joined Mercedes from McLaren in 2013.

The 39-year-old Hamilton and Michael Schumacher have a record seven F1 titles each, and Hamilton is the outright leader with 103 race wins and 104 pole positions.

Hamilton has spoken in the past of the lure of racing with Ferrari, where Schumacher won five of his world titles.

“I mean, the opportunity just popped up and I was like, ‘OK, I’ve got to think for a second,’” Hamilton said. “(But) I didn’t have a lot of time to think and I had to just go with my gut feeling and I decided to take the opportunity.”

Hamilton begins his last season with Mercedes on Saturday at the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix.

His last win was at the Saudi Arabian GP in the penultimate race of the 2021 campaign, where Max Verstappen won the first of his three straight titles with Red Bull.

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The nominees for 2024 Laureus Sports Awards

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Manchester City star Erling Haaland, athletics speedster Sha’Carri Richardson, and Ivory Coast football star Sébastien Haller are among the nominees for the 2024 Laureus Sports Awards.

The Laureus Sports Awards is the most prestigious honour given to sportsmen and women in recognition of an iconic season, and those shortlisted for this year’s honours have done exceptionally well in their various fields.

Football star Haaland, in contention for Sportsman of the Year, scored 52 goals in 53 games during his debut season as City completed the Treble by winning the Premier League, FA Cup and Champions League.

Track star Richardson is shortlisted for the Sportswoman of the Year after an exceptional season that saw her become the world’s fastest woman by winning the 100m title at the World Championships in Budapest.

Tennis youngster Gauff made the nomination list for Breakthrough of the Year for her gallant efforts last season, highlighted by winning her first Grand Slam title at the US Open.

Also in this category is Real Madrid football star Jude Bellingham, who at age 20, has become a key player for Real Madrid following his 103m euro (£89m) move from Borussia Dortmund last summer, scoring 20 goals in 29 games this season.

Newly crowned AFCON 2023 champion Sébastien Haller is shortlisted in the Comeback of the Year category for his valiant efforts at fighting cancer and coming back to help Ivory Coast become African Champions for the third time in the country’s history.

Here’s the full list of nominees for the 2024 Laureus Sports Awards.

Sportsman of the Year

Novak Djokovic (Serbia) – tennis

Mondo Duplantis (Sweden) – athletics

Erling Haaland (Norway) – football

Noah Lyles (USA) – athletics

Lionel Messi (Argentina) – football

Max Verstappen (Netherlands) – motor racing

Sportswoman of the year

Aitana Bonmati (Spain) – football

Shericka Jackson (Jamaica) – athletics

Faith Kipyegon (Kenya) – athletics

Sha’Carri Richardson (USA) – athletics

Mikaela Shiffrin (USA) – skiing

Iga Swiatek (Poland) – tennis

Team of the year

European Ryder Cup Team – golf

Germany men – basketball

Manchester City – football

Red Bull – Formula 1

South Africa – rugby

Spain women – football

Breakthrough of the year

Jude Bellingham (GB) – football

Linda Caicedo (Colombia) – football

Coco Gauff (USA) – tennis

Qin Haiyang (China) – swimming

Josh Kerr (UK) – athletics

Salma Paralluelo (Spain) – football

Comeback of the year

Simone Biles (USA) – gymnastics

Sébastien Haller (Ivory Coast) – football

Katarina Johnson-Thompson (UK) – athletics

Siya Kolisi (South Africa) – rugby

Jamal Murray (Canada) – basketball

Marketa Vondrousova (Czech Republic) – tennis

Sportsperson of the year with a disability

Simone Barlaam (Italy) – swimming

Danylo Chufarov (Ukraine) – swimming

Diede de Groot (Netherlands) – tennis

Luca Ekler (Hungary) – athletics

Nicole Murray (New Zealand) – cycling

Markus Rehm (Germany) – athletics

Action sportsperson of the year

Rayssa Leal (Brazil) – skateboarding

Caroline Marks (USA) – surfing

Kirsten Neuschafer (South Africa) – sailing

Bethany Shriever (GB) – BMX

Filipe Toledo (Brazil) – surfing

Arisa Trew (Australia) – skateboarding

Sport for good

Bola Pra Frente (Brazil) multi-sport & employability

Dancing Grounds (USA) – dancing & social integration

Fundacion Rafa Nadal (Spain) – tennis & education

ISF Cambodia – football & education

Justice Desk Africa (South Africa) – multi-sport & human rights

Obiettivo Napoli (Italy) – multi-sport & inclusion

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South Africa boss Ellis sets sight on Super Falcons clash

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Banyana Banyana of South Africa head coach Desiree Ellis has warned her side against complacency as they bid to set up a clash with eternal rivals, Nigeria.

The Super Falcons defeated Cameroon 1-0 in Abuja on Monday to earn a place in the final round of the 2024 Olympic Games qualifiers.

The African champions will take on Tanzania in the return leg of the third round fixture on Tuesday (today).

Banyana Banyana defeated Tanzania 3-0 away in the first leg last Friday.

Jermaine Seopesenwe, Thembi Kgatlana and Hildah Magaia were on target for the reigning African champions in the game.

The reverse fixture is expected to be an easy affair for South Africa but Ellis is not ready to take anything for granted.

“We have to finish the job back home. We don’t want to become complacent. The next goal in the match could change things,” Ellis told CAFonline.

 

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