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Toni Kroos calls Spanish 21-year-old’s transfer to Saudi Arabia ‘embarrassing’

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Toni Kroos has labelled an impending move to a Al-Ahli by a 21-year-old Spaniard as “embarassing” in an apparent criticism of the decision to join a Saudi Arabian club.

Gabri Veiga, a highly regarded young midfielder who has been touted as a potential target for a host of European clubs, appears set to complete a move to the Saudi Pro League.

The capture of Veiga, reportedly available for a release fee of around £34.4m , is another indication of the Middle Eastern league’s growing influence in the transfer market after an injection of funds from Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF).

Riyad Mahrez, Jordan Henderson, Ruben Neves and Neymar are among the players to have joined Saudi clubs this summer.

But while most of those to have made the move are in the middle or nearing the end of their careers, Veiga’s prime is very much still to come, with the Under-21 international having enjoyed a breakthrough La Liga campaign with Celta Vigo last season.

And it appears the decision to turn down an opportunity to continue building his career in Europe has disappointed a fellow midfielder in the Spanish top flight.

Responding to an Instagram post from transfer information conduit Fabrizio Romano, Real Madrid’s Kroos, using his official account, replied “embarassing”.

The German has spent the entirety of his senior career in Europe, leaving Bayern Munich for the Spanish capital in 2014.

Alongside Mahrez, Al-Ahli have also secured Roberto Firmino, Edouard Mendy, Franck Kessie, Allan Saint-Maximin, Merih Demiral and Roger Ibanez this summer.

The three-time Saudi champions have also recruited manager Matthias Jaissle after his departure from Red Bull Salzburg, and have begun the new season with back-to-back wins.

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Transfers

Real Madrid ’99 percent’ certain to land Mbappe, says Liga boss

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Spain’s La Liga chief Javier Tebas believes it is almost certain that superstar striker Kylian Mbappe will be playing for Real Madrid next season, he told French daily L’Equipe in an interview published on Friday.

The 25-year-old France captain told his club Paris Saint-Germain earlier this month that he would leave them at the end of this season.

“Knowing that he is leaving PSG, there is a 99 percent chance that Mbappe will sign for Real. But I don’t know if he has already signed,” the La Liga president Tebas said.

Mbappe has never hidden his admiration since childhood of Real Madrid, who are favourites to land one of world football’s biggest talents.

“It’s big news for Real and for Spanish football. He is one of the best players in the world. From my point of view, (Jude) Bellingham, (Erling) Haaland and Mbappe are the three dominant players on the planet, and two are already at Real Madrid,” said Tebas.

Sources close to the matter say wage negotiations between Real and Mbappe are advanced.

Tebas also praised the way Real Madrid is run.

“Economically, they are very responsive,” he said.

“Currently their financial results are very good and they can spend much more than they do. Real were very prudent financially and prepared for the signing of Mbappe.”

 

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Transfers

Don’t join Arsenal, Henry warns Osimhen

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Barcelona and Arsenal legend, Theirry Henry, has tasked Napoli striker, Victor Osimhen, to be more consistent in scoring but urged the forward not to join Arsenal if he eventually made the move to the English Premier League.

The Frenchman stated this after Osimhen;s goal against Barcelona in Wednesday’s Champions League last-16 first-leg clash in Naples kept the Partenopei in the tie.

The Nigerian striker drew Napoli level at 1-1 with his only attempt on goal in the encounter 15 minutes after Robert Lewandowski broke the deadlock on the hour mark.

The goal was his first in as many games since rejoining Napoli after playing for Nigeria at the Africa Cup of Nations in December.

It was also his sixth in six Champions League games for the Partenopei at the Diego Armando Maradona stadium.

He now sits behind Erling Haaland (12) and Kylian Mbappe (nine) for recent home goals scored in the competition over the last two seasons.

Furthermore, his goal against Barcelona saw him tie Napoli captain, Giovanni Di Lorenzo, and Lorenzo Insigne for goals scored in the Champions League with Napoli, and sits just behind Dries Mertens, who netted 11 in Europe’s premier club competition.

Speaking with CBS Sports Golazo, the French U-21 coach challenged the 25-year-old to prove himself outside of the Italian Serie A where he won the Scudetto and won the Capocannoniere.

“I think he needed the goal today (on Wednesday),” Henry said on the UEFA Champions League show with CBS Sports Golazo.

“At the AFCON, we saw him, he can lead the line, run into the channels, and he has excellent hold-up play.

“How good can he be? He showed last year what he could do and won the African Player of The Year along the way, winning the Scudetto with Napoli and getting to the final with Nigeria.”

Henry, a Champions League winner with Barcelona in 2009, urged the Nigerian to prove himself in other European leagues.

The 25-year-old has been linked with moves to Chelsea and PSG but Henry warned against a switch to Arsenal.

“I’d like to see him now, what he can do in the Premier League or wherever he’s going or Paris Saint-Germain. Not Arsenal, I won’t go there.

“I want to see him take the next step and be more consistent with his output, but to be able to win the title with Napoli the way he did will stay in history forever, so all the best to him in his career.”

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Transfers

GENNARO GATTUSO SACKED BY MARSEILLE AFTER DISMAL START TO 2024, JEAN-LOUIS GASSET STEPS IN

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Gennaro Gattuso was brought in to try and stabilise things a bit at Marseille. However, whilst there were some shoots of encouragement, things have taken a turn for the worse – and with the club languishing outside of the European places, Marseille have made their move to try and salvage their season.

Marseille have fired Gennaro Gattuso after failing to win a league match in 2024, with the south-coast club appointing Jean-Louis Gasset as interim manager.
The developments come after Marseille were beaten 1-0 by Ligue 1 surprise package Brest on Sunday.
Gattuso, 46, was hired by Marseille in September after previous incumbent Marcelinho stepped down just three months into his tenure for personal reasons.

“Olympique de Marseille announces the end of its collaboration with Gennaro Gattuso,” Marseille said in a statement.
“Marseille would like to extend its special thanks to Gennaro and his entire staff for the unfailing commitment and professionalism they have shown on a daily basis, and wishes them all the best for the future.”

Gasset was sacked by the Ivory Coast during their triumphant Africa Cup of Nations campaign.
Gattuso led the club into the play-off round of the Europa League but the club have struggled recently. Their only win in 2024 came in the Coupe de France when they scraped past fifth-tier side US Thionville Lusitanos 1-0. Their last Ligue 1 win came on December 17 against Clermont Foot.
Their poor form has seen them drop to ninth in the table. They are eight points back from Monaco, who occupy the final European spot in fifth, and a further point off Nice who sit in the third Champions League spot.
Gasset will be Marseille’s fifth manager in the past three years with Jorge Sampaoli, Igor Tudor, Marcelinho and now Gattuso struggling to stay long-term on the French south coast.

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