Marseille confirm agreement in principle for Azzedine Ounahi transfer

Marseille have announced they have agreed in principle to sign Morocco international Azzedine Ohnahi from Ligue 1 compatriot Angers.

Ounahi is heading to Marseille

Ounahi burst onto the scene as one of the main stars of the Atlas Lions’ run to the 2022 World Cup semifinals. A number of clubs have been eyeing the midfielder over the past year, with interest increasing following the 22-year-old’s performances against the likes of Spain and Portugal.

Leicester started talks with Angers but their offer of around 28 million euros was not enough for the Foxes to land the midfielder. They were joined by Napoli and Leeds soon after, but Marseille raved about many of them and announced the deal. 

Their statement read: “Olympique de Marseille announces an agreement in principle with SCO Angers for the permanent transfer of Azzedine Ounahi to the club.”

Real Madrid, Seattle Sounders could meet in Club World Cup

European champions Real Madrid will face the Seattle Sounders, the first-ever American side to qualify for the FIFA Club World Cup, in the next tournament in Morocco in February.

FIFA drew lots for the 2022 Club World Cup on Friday, with the World Cup, which ended in Qatar last month, pushed back to this year from its traditional December slot.

Madrid are awaiting the winner of CONCACAF Champions League winners Seattle’s second-round tie with Egypt’s Al Ahly or New Zealand’s Auckland City in the semi-finals, which will open in the first round on February 1.

Copa Libertadores champions Flamengo face African champions Vida de Casablanca or Al Hilal in the other semi-final.

The Club World Cup usually brings together the winners of the six continents and the host domestic champions.

However, the Moroccan league champion Vidard also won the 2022 African Champions League. The second African entrant was defeated finalist Al Ahly, not the Moroccan league runners-up.


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Barcelona appeal against Ferran Torres’ red card

Barcelona are appealing the red card shown to Ferran Torres following an altercation with Atletico Madrid defender Stefan Savic in an attempt to “minimize” the length and scope of any ban.

Ferran Torres was sent off against Atletico Madrid

Torres was ordered to go off in stoppage time in Barcelona’s narrow win and referee Jose Luis Munuela Montero showed both players red cards.

The 22-year-old Barcelona striker did not start and came off the bench in the second half. He barely touched the ball for more than half an hour, though fortunately his team was down to 10 and had no effect on the final result.

Mundo Deportivo reported that Barcelona consulted its legal services to review footage of the incident and subsequently filed a case seeking a “lenient sentence”.

The Catalans’ exact grounds for their appeal have not yet been revealed, but they are said to believe Torres will receive a short-term La Liga-related suspension that will not affect this week’s Spanish Super Cup.

Barca have made several unsuccessful appeals against the suspension time Robert Lewandowski suffered when he was sent off in November’s win over Osasuna for allegedly targeting the referee’s gesture.

Lewandowski missed the game against Atletico Madrid, the first of three suspensions. But his ban only applies to La Liga, meaning he is eligible for the Super Cup, where Barca face Real Betis in the semi-finals in Saudi Arabia on Thursday night.


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Marcus Rashford credits Manchester United’s new culture for his form

Manchester United fans could be forgiven for questioning whether they will bring back the old Marcus Rashford after a sluggish 2021/22 season.

Everton couldn’t live with Marcus Rashford on Friday night

The homegrown star became a national hero for his off-court prowess, but he no longer puts numbers on it. A long-term shoulder injury didn’t help, but even after recovering from surgery in the summer of 2021, the spark that made him stand out was gone.

This is a player who scored more than 20 goals in consecutive seasons between 2019 and 2021, but only scored 5 goals last season. It was the lowest tally of his entire career and didn’t even match the eight he scored in 11 games as an 18-year-old at the end of the 2015/16 season.

Now, Rashford couldn’t be further from that version of himself.

He was instrumental in United’s win over Everton in the FA Cup at Old Trafford on Friday night, opening the scoring and scoring the final decisive own goal before coming off the injury stoppage time. At that time, he locked the score with his own penalty kick.

Everton couldn’t stand his speed and direct running and kicked off from the left. But he also delivered the end product, the embodiment of composure as he waited for Jordan Pickford to back down first and smack the ball late into the open goal from 12 yards.

Rashford has held his record for goals per game since the World Cup – now at five and counting. His stoppage-time penalty against the Toffees also meant he was the first United player to score in seven consecutive home games in all competitions in 10-and-a-half years. The last person to achieve this feat was Wayne Rooney in the first months of 2012.

The mental strength shown by the 25-year-old is commendable as he returned to his best form and arguably surpassed it by reaching new levels. But a lot of the credit also goes to Eric Ten Hag, whose beliefs and personnel management seem to have had a huge impact.

Ten Hag, who had earned the respect of United early in his tenure, ordered extra training the day after the humiliating defeat against Brentford. He had his players run the best part of the 14km to prove a point about desire and application, while also joining himself in a show of solidarity.

This United team has given him more than any other player over the past 10 years at Old Trafford. For Rashford in particular, Ten Hag has instilled confidence, a weapon that is absolutely vital to his potential to be a game-changing spark.

Just last month, Ten Hag said Rashford is currently second only to Kylian Mbappe in terms of world-class wingers. Imagine what that belief could do for a player who was already doing well.

“From the first moment, I realized the huge potential. When Marcus is positioned in the defence, there are hardly any better players in the world. At this moment, there is only Mbappe,” the Manchester United boss said at the time. Said.

Even discipline is strong. Rashford accidentally overslept last week, arriving late to a team meeting ahead of United’s game against Wolves. He was left out of the starting XI due to inappropriate behaviour, but came off the bench to win the game. Without sulking, Rashford quickly put it behind him, accepted his mistake and moved on.

It shows a well-oiled machine where respect and trust are the rules. Without that culture, Rashford would never have rediscovered his form, but he has embraced it and run with it.


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