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UCL-GroupsThe Champions League draw on Thursday has paired together Barcelona and Manchester City, meaning a return to Catalan for new City boss Pep Guardiola.

The Spanish champions beat City at the last-16 stage in both 2014 and 2015 while goalkeeper Claudio Bravo has just completed a move from Barca to Guardiola’s new side

In what is by far the hardest group, City and Barcelona will be joined in Group C by Borussia Monchengladbach and Scottish champions Celtic.

To make the draw even harder to take for Barcelona fans, bitter rivals Real Madrid have once again been given a easy passage to the group stages. The European Champions will meet Borussia Dortmund, Sporting Lisbon and Legia Warsaw.

Ronaldo Named Best Player In Europe

cr7-awardNo surprise on Thursday as Real Madrid and Portugal star Cristiano Ronaldo won the Best Player in Europe award. The Champions League and Euros double all but assured that the Madrid star would be adding another trophy to his mantlepiece.

Ronaldo was widely tipped to beat out Gareth Bale and Antoine Griezmann to the prize after a memorable season in which he scored 16 goals in the Champions League, including the winning kick in the penalty shootout in the final, and captained Portugal to Euro 2016 glory.

WembleyLeague Cup holders Manchester City have been drawn against Swansea in the third round of the newly named EFL Cup.

The next round sees the arrival in the competition of the Premier League clubs that are involved in Europe this season – with Premier League champions Leicester’s meeting with Chelsea arguably the most eagerly anticipated glamour tie.

Other exciting clashes to look forward to are giant killers Northampton’s home draw with Jose Mourinho’s Manchester United. The tie will be the teams’ first meeting since United’s 2004 FA Cup fourth round win at Sixfields. Most memorably, United great George Best scored six at the Cobblers in The Reds’s 1970 8-2 FA Cup win.

Stamford Bridge ChelseaAC Milan have confirmed on their official TV channel that they have rejected a bid “in excess of €25 million” for defender Alessio Romagnoli from Chelsea.

Reports in Italy on Monday claimed that Chelsea had turned their attentions to Romagnoli, having been frustrated by Napoli’s stance on their lengthy pursuit of Kalidou Koulibaly.

Milan subsequently confirmed that they have rebuffed an approach from Chelsea for the 21-year-old, who moved to San Siro in a €25m deal from Roma last summer, while La Gazzetta dello Sport reports that CEO Adriano Galliani informed the Blues that Romagnoli is “unsellable.”

patrick-vieraFormer Arsenal captain Patrick Vieira says that Arsenal are losing games they should have won because they lack a ‘physical presence’ that once made them so successful.

The New York City boss won three Premier League titles and four FA Cups with the Gunners, and captained them during the Invincibles season of 2003-04, but believes they are too soft to repeat that success.

The 40-year-old also aired his disappointment at a lack of former players working underneath manager Arsene Wenger at the club.

While Vieira believes that his old club play good football, he believes a lack of physical presence and personality is costing them in terms of silverware.

Premier League Summer Transfers

zlatan-billboardThe summer transfer window is open and already we have seen Manchester City, Man United, Liverpool and Chelsea flex their financial muscle with big signings as they look to close the gap on champions Leicester.

Summer Transfer Window – Updated 24 August
Most expensive Premier League Signing: Paul Pogba [Juventus – Man Utd] £89m
Busiest Premier League clubs: Middlesbrough and West Ham(9)

ARSENAL
IN

Granit Xhaka (Borussia Monchengladbach, £35m)
Rob Holding [Bolton] Reported £2m

OUT
Mikel Arteta (released)
Tomas Rosicky (released)
Mathieu Flamini (released)
Wojciech Szczesny [Arsenal] Loan

Interview With Inter Milan Boss Frank De Boer

welcome-frankIn an interview with Gazzetta dello Sport , new Inter coach Frank de Boer has outlined his clear ideas and vision for what he hopes will be a successful spell at the Stadio Giuseppe Meazza.

Having only taken over at the club little more than a week ago, the former Ajax boss acknowledged that it will take him time to implement his methods but insisted he knows exactly what he wants to do to make the club a force again.

Here is what the Inter boss had to say”

Frank, when did you first realise you would become coach?

Super Mario To The Championship?

Mario Balotelli v EnglandHe might be a Champions League and Premier League winner, but it looks like the career of Mario Balotelli has hit rock-bottom as the Liverpool striker is expected to join Italian manager Walter Zenga at Championship side Wolves.

The West Midlands club has seemingly moved ahead of League One side Port Vale in the race Super Mario, with Balotelli’s former manager telling his former player that he should look outside the Premier League for regular football.

Balotelli spent last season on loan with Milan, but the Rossoneri opted not to make the move permanent and he’s not wanted by Jurgen Klopp at Anfield.

Wenger-SignThe signing of Granit Xhaka for £35million remains Arsenal’s only capture this summer despite their attempts to land a striker and centre back and the lack of action has concerned Gunners fans who have grown frustrated at the lack of spending.

Arsenal are linked with a big money move for Valencia defender Shkodran Mustafi, but Arsene Wenger’s latest comments on the transfer market will give pause to Arsenal fans who think he is going to splash the cash before the transfer window closes.

Pogba-MUFCJose Mourinho says that Paul Pogba to make his second Manchester United debut against Southampton on Friday night. The world record signing has spent less than two weeks training at United’s Carrington HQ, but Mourinho has no doubt the 6ft 3in midfielder is ready and raring to go to make his bow against the Saints.

“Paul has been training for more than a week, 10 or 11 days, we played against Leicester (in the Community Shield) with some players who had less training than that,’ said Mourinho.