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Champions league not a major criteria for Havertz

Bayer Leverkusen midfielder Kai Havertz would consider a move to a club who have not qualified for next season’s Champions League.

The 21-year-old Germany international wants to leave the Bundesliga club this summer and has been linked with Chelsea and Real Madrid.

Although he wants to play in Europe’s elite competition, it is not thought to be a deal-breaker for any move.

Havertz considers a club’s long-term plan just as important.

Chelsea, who host Norwich on Tuesday, are third in the Premier League but lead fourth-placed Leicester and fifth-placed Manchester United by one point.

Only the top four will qualify for the Champions League next season after Manchester City’s European ban was lifted on Monday.

Last month Chelsea boss Frank Lampard described Havertz as a “top player” but said “no bids have gone in”.

Havertz, who can also play as a forward, has two years left on his contract and scored 17 goals in 43 appearances for Leverkusen this season.

That total includes seven in the nine games after the Bundesliga season restarted.

His team finished fifth – missing out on a Champions League place – and were beaten by Bayern Munich in the German Cup final.

But they hold a 3-1 advantage over Rangers after the first leg of their last-16 tie in the Europa League, which is set to be played to a conclusion in August.

Havertz has scored once in seven appearances for the national side.

Chelsea have already signed RB Leipzig and Germany striker Timo Werner for a reported £47m this summer.

Former Ajax winger Hakim Ziyech has also started training at Chelsea after his £33m move.



Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu has confirmed that Xavi will become manager of the club “sooner or later”.

Xavi enjoyed a glittering playing career at Camp Nou, making a club-record 767 appearances during his 24-year stay from La Masia to his 2015 exit.

The former Spain international has turned his hand to management since retiring last year, taking charge of Qatari side Al Sadd, where he finished his playing career.

Barcelona approached their former captain after sacking Ernesto Valverde in January, but instead appointed Quique Setien, whose own future has already come under scrutiny with Xavi again linked to the post.

“Xavi will be Barca’s coach, sooner or later. But right now we are not looking for a coach, we are with Quique,” Bartomeu told press men.

“Quique Setien will coach the team in the Champions League and these last two Liga games that are left. We have had a very atypical season, we will play in August and he will be the coach. If we overcome Napoli, we will be in Lisbon.

“Our will is to fulfil contracts and Setien has one. We went to Setien’s house to speak about the future, the plans for next season. He will probably be there and I am very interested to hear what he thinks.

“He has a lot of time for Riqui Puig and Ansu Fati. We have seen Pedri and Francisco Trincao in form, there is hope.”

Barcelona have a history of appointing former players as managers, with Pep Guardiola, Luis Enrique and Johan Cruyff among the most notable.

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Chelsea go Third

Chelsea further strengthened their position in the Premier League’s top four with victory over Crystal Palace in an entertaining encounter at Selhurst Park, that included a stunning long-range strike from Wilfried Zaha and a rare goal from Christian Benteke.

There was an element of fortune about the game’s opening goal, with Palace defender Gary Cahill pulling up with a match-ending injury to allow Willian to charge into the box unimpeded and set up Olivier Giroud to finish.

But the rest of the match was a testament to the kind of competitive, high-octane, see-saw football that draws so many viewers to the English top flight, even when the grounds are empty of fans.

Twice Chelsea looked to have put the game beyond the home side, first through Christian Pulisic’s rising shot to make it 2-0 in the first half and then via Tammy Abraham’s neat finish with 19 minutes to go to put the Blues 3-1 up.

But this reckoned without the input of Zaha and Benteke.

Zaha’s goal was a superb strike, fiercely fired into the net via the crossbar from an unlikely distance. Benteke’s was more routine, tapped in from point-blank range following a neat move, but almost as surprising, it being his first goal at Selhurst Park since April 2018.

And Palace came within a whisker of snatching a point when Scott Dann’s back-post header struck the inside of the post before Chelsea hacked the ball clear.

Chelsea’s win means they move above Leicester into third place in the table, five points ahead of fifth-placed Manchester United.

With 42 to their name, Palace have too many points to worry about being dragged into a relegation fight, but manager Roy Hodgson and his side will be eager to end a losing streak that has now stretched to four games.


Arsenal want Ceballos to stay

Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta wants to strike a deal with Real Madrid to keep hold of influential midfielder Dani Ceballos.

The 23-year-old, who scored a last-minute winner in the FA Cup win over Sheffield United last weekend, has become an increasingly-influential player for the Gunners as the season has progressed.

In January, Arteta challenged his fellow Spaniard, who was working his way back from a muscle injury, to fight for his place amid speculation he wanted to end his season-long loan at Arsenal.

Ceballos has won Arteta over in the months since, impressing with his effort and attitude in training.

Arteta said: “I am really happy with him. I love how much he likes to play football, the passion he puts into every training session and in every game. His celebrations, whether he’s on the pitch or on the bench, he puts his life into it.


Manchester City, Manchester United and Wolves facing no summer break

Manchester City, Manchester United and Wolverhampton Wanderers are reportedly all facing the possibility of missing the start of next season and having no summer break due to their delayed European campaigns.

Premier League clubs will meet next week via a video conference to discuss when the 2020-21 season will begin and confirm dates for the new campaign.

The Sun reports that there are three realistic options that the Premier League are considering, with the weekends of August 22 and 29 as well as September 12 being discussed.

Several Premier League clubs are understood to prefer the September date, which would give them more time to prepare for the new campaign after a congested post-lockdown fixture list, and it would also make it more likely that fans will be allowed back into stadiums, giving clubs a greater income boost.

However, Premier League referees have been alerted to the likelihood that the new season would begin on the first provisional date in August, which could lead to City, United and Wolves not being able to restart their domestic campaigns along with every other club, if their respective Champions League and Europa League runs go all the way.

UEFA plan to host the Europa League final in Cologne on August 21 and the Champions League final in Lisbon two days later.

This would mean the Premier League trio having to play catch-up from the very beginning of next season, with no possibility of their players having any rest period between seasons, which could lead to significant injury repercussions as the new campaign progresses.


United should Target Sane

Undoubtedly, Jadon Sancho is at the top of Manchester United’s wishlist with the summer transfer window on the horizon. But with the financial situations of many clubs still very much uncertain, a fellow United legend thinks that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer should try to keep his options open.

Speaking with Stadium Astro, former United striker Dwight Yorke expressed his admiration for Leroy Sane, another winger very familiar with the city of Manchester.

According to Pep Guardiola, Sane has already told the club that he wishes to move on in the summer instead of putting pen to paper on a new contract, and Yorke believes that United should at least attempt to try and pull Sane over to the red side.

“If I was to airdrop, the boy Sane at City I really do like,” Yorke told Stadium Astro. “United has got a real good attacking bunch of young players but we haven’t got a left-footed sort of winger. The boy Greenwood is coming to the fore recently, but I like Sane.”

It seems unlikely that Sane would swap Manchester’s blue for red, but that didn’t initially seem like too much of a possibility with Sancho either. And while Sancho will continue to top United’s shopping list in the coming months, Yorke feels that it would be good to express interest in someone like Sane, even just to ‘stir it up.’

“Sancho is obviously up there, but if you can’t get him, why not be brave and go for a player who’s played across next door and cause some stir?” Yorke said. “Just stir it up a little bit. That’s what I would do.

“I know he’s got some injuries but if I was brave, if I was Man United manager at this point in time, that’s the type of person I would go for. He’s had a couple of years in the Premier League, I’ve watched him very closely and I like him a lot. He is probably the quickest out of all of them and he’s really got a good attitude.”

The speculation linking United with Sancho has been very on and off lately. It changes almost daily. One day his head is already in Manchester, hence why he has been left on the bench for Borussia Dortmund’s final two league fixtures, and the next Dortmund aren’t quite willing to sell.

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Norwich still fighting relegation

Daniel Farke says his side “won’t give up” despite it “not being realistic” for Norwich to escape relegation after suffering a third straight Premier League defeat at home to Everton.

The Canaries remain rooted to the bottom of the table, six points adrift of safety, but they retain hope as the three sides above them – West Ham, Bournemouth and Aston Villa – all failed to win on Tuesday and Wednesday

“I can’t accuse the lads at all today,” said German boss Farke. “I can just praise the workload, the togetherness.

“In terms of attitude, we showed organisation and I can just give compliments. We don’t give up, for sure. We have seven games and have a chance.

“It’s not realistic for us to win the FA Cup or stay in the league. When you wear this yellow shirt, you have responsibility and big pride. As long as there is a chance, we won’t give up.”

Toffees defender Michael Keane scored the winning goal in the second half, leaping highest at the near post to flick home Lucas Digne’s corner at an empty Carrow Road.

The Canaries could have broken the deadlock in the first half but Onel Hernandez’s deflected shot bobbled off the foot of the post.

Dominic Calvert-Lewin forced Canaries goalkeeper Tim Krul into a couple of saves, with victory for Carlo Ancelotti’s side lifting them up to 10th in the table.

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Pulisic steals the show as chelsea defeat aston villa

Chelsea boss Frank Lampard has backed “hungry” Christian Pulisic to play a big part in the Blues’ bid for a top-four finish in the Premier League after the forward scored in Sunday’s 2-1 win at Aston Villa.

The visitors controlled the first half but fell behind when Kepa failed to hold Anwar El Ghazi’s shot and Kortney Hause was on hand to bundle in.

Lampard sent Pulisic on in the 55th minute and five minutes later the United States international equalised when he lashed Cesar Azpilicueta’s cross into the roof of the net.

Olivier Giroud then sealed victory two minutes later when he drove in from 15 yards with the help of a slight deflection.

Pulisic was playing his first game since New Year’s Day after recovering from injury and Lampard is confident he will be an important player for him in the run-in.

“He will start games for us, of course, and I think he’s going to be a big player for us, not just in this run-in but going forward,” he said.

“He was hungry. I know that and I felt for him, as I felt for the players with long-term injuries.

“The ability he’s got to arrive in the box, it’s a big thing, I’ve spoken about it with him all season.”

The win means fourth-placed Chelsea restored their five-point advantage over Manchester United and Wolves, who are fifth and sixth respectively.

Aston Villa, meanwhile, remain in the relegation zone, one point from safety after taking one point from their first two games back following the resumption of the Premier League.