AFCON 2021: Controversial referee who ended Tunisia vs Mali game early claims it was a message from God

Janny Sikazwe, the referee who officiated the Tunisia vs Mali group stage game in the ongoing African Cup of Nations tournament in Cameroon, has claimed that he ended the game after hearing from God.

Sikaziwe blew for full-time early in the Group F opening match between Tunisia and Mali in the ongoing AfCON, and has now claimed he did so because he felt a heatstroke coming on. He also claimed that he could have died if he did not end the match early.

The Zambian official blew for full time five minutes to the end of the full 90 minutes regulation time in the match that was played on January 12. He was later forced to restart the game and still ended it 13 seconds early.

Tunisia were losing 1-0 and playing against a Mali side that were a man down. The referee’s decision left the bench of Tunisia furious and they stormed onto the pitch to confront him.

Sikaziwe had to be escorted off the pitch by security as the tensions started to boil over. The AFCON LOC ordered the match to be resumed, but Tunisia did not return to the pitch inadvertently giving the victory to Mali.

Sikaziwe was later suspended by the Confederation of African Football (CAF) for the rest of the tournament and has now come out to say that he ended the match after God told him to, due to him feeling a heatstroke coming on.

“I have seen people going for duties outside the country and come back in a casket,” he told reporters after arriving back in Zambia. “I was very close to coming back like that.

“I was lucky I didn’t go into a coma. It would have been a very different story. The doctors told me my body was not cooling down. It would have been just a little time before [I would have gone] into a coma, and that would have been the end.

“I think God told me to end the match. He saved me.”

Unusual climate led to my decision, Sikaziwe claims

Sikazwe further insisted that the extreme Sub-Saharan climate, which has seen some matches at the tournament played in temperatures of over 30C, affected him a lot.

“The weather was so hot, and the humidity was about 85 per cent,” he continued. 

“After the warm-up I felt the [conditions] were something else. We were trying to drink water but you could not feel the water quenching you – nothing.

“But we [match officials] believe we are soldiers and we go and fight.

“Everything I was putting on was hot. Even the communication equipment, I wanted to throw it away. It was so hot.”

Mason Greenwood released on bail by police

Manchester United striker Mason Greenwood has been released on bail pending further investigation into his domestic abuse incident involving his girlfriend, Harriet Robson.

On Sunday, Harriet released damning evidence to her social media in picture, audio and video format incriminating Greenwood as an abusive partner which she captioned, “for those who want to know what Mason Greenwood actually does to me”.

Greater Manchester police sprung into action immediately, arresting and detaining the 20-year-old forward on suspicion of rape and assault. Greenwood spent two nights in police custody as they continued to investigate the issue.

On Monday, Greater Manchester police were granted extra dispensation to continue his detention, but this time, on suspicions of of sexual assault and threats to kill his girlfriend, Robson.

Robson has since deleted all the posts from her social media but the evidence remains in public domain and with the police. Alan Robson, the victim’s father, spoke to Daily Mail about the incident, claiming that his daughter’s phone was hacked.

He said to Daily Mail: “The first time we knew about this was at 6am this morning. It is dreadful. I’m just coming to terms with it all.

“As a father you don’t want to know things like that happening to your daughter. The police have been round and she has made a statement to them.

“She has told us her phone has been hacked. We told her to take it down, which she has done but it’s out there now so it is too late.

“She is devastated because she didn’t want it released. We have known him since the under 21s. He has been part of our family for two or three years.

“Their relationship has not been good for the last few months. She is completely devastated by it all.

“They were very much in love and have been together for a while. The police are dealing with it now.’

Greenwood, however, was released on bail on Wednesday pending further inquiries into the case. A statement from the police on the striker’s bail release simply read: “A 20-year-old man arrested (on Sunday 30 January 2022) on suspicion of the rape and assault of a woman has been released on bail pending further investigation”.

Manchester United players follow Greenwood on Instagram after bail

Manchester United players began to unfollow the 20-year-old on Instagram after his arrest, in solidarity with the victim. This was after the club, his sponsors and the makers of the FIFA video game, Electronic Arts, had distanced themselves from the striker.

The United players have started following Greenwood again on Instagram after his bail was made official on Wednesday, as a bail release means that no official charges have been pressed yet.

Marcus Rashford, Jesse Lingard and Fred were among the first to unfollow Greenwood and have now followed him back on the social media app.

Meanwhile, the club is still reeling from the incident, which led to their promising youngster being detained. Greenwood has been one of their best performers this season, and has been so after breaking into the first team in 2019.

His arrest also reportedly led to the club blocking Jesse Lingard’s move away from Old Trafford in the just concluded winter transfer window. The club had previously released Amad Diallo, Donny Van De Beek and Anthony Martial on loan to various clubs and were short in attack, requiring them to keep Lingard.

“Everyone is very shaken up,” said a source from within the United camp to reporters. “This is very different to the normal things they have to deal with.”

Fans can swap their Greenwood shirts, United stores announce

Meanwhile fans continue to express displeasure and disappointment over their golden boy’s behaviour and are calling on the club to punish him outrightly. One of the ways is to have everything about him removed from the club.

Fans who also bought Greenwood-related United merchandise have also called for refunds. United have now taken down everything about Greenwood from their club’s resources including his player information on the website, videos of him, and all related merchandise.

They have also announced to fans who purchased swag relating to the striker to come for an exchange and get another player’s merchandise for free.

The development will continue this way until the striker is proven either innocent or guilty.

Aubameyang sends heartfelt message to Arsenal fans after exit from the club

Arsenal have officially confirmed Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s exit from the club with a statement on their official website and a video montage showing the Gabonese striker’s best moments leading the Gunners’ attack.

The striker and the club agreed to part ways by mutual consent, which means that Aubameyang’s contract was terminated by the club. Reports claim that it cost the Gunners £7 million to pay off Aubameyang, who later signed on the winter window transfer deadline day for Barcelona.

Arsenal’s statement on Aubameyang’s exit was a short one, and it reads: “We wish Auba all the best for the next chapter in his career and thank him for his contribution to the club.”

After Arsenal confirmed his exit, the former Gunners captain took to social media to send a heartfelt message to Arsenal fans. The striker said it hurt to leave “without a real goodbye”.

“To the Arsenal fans, thank you for making London home for myself and my family for the past four years,” his message began.

“We went through ups and downs together and your support meant everything to me. Having the chance to win trophies and the honour of being the captain of this club is something I will forever keep in my heart.

“I have always been 100 per cent focused and committed on doing everything I can for this club which is why leaving without a real goodbye hurts – but that is football.

“I’m sad I did not get the chance to help my teammates in the last few weeks, but I have nothing but respect for this club and truly wish all my guys and the fans all the best and many successful years in the future! Love, Auba.”

Aubameyang exit a risk for Arteta, says journalist

Aubameyang has begun training with his new teammates at Barcelona after completing his move to the Catalan side. Barcelona is yet to officially announce his signing, but it is reported to be a six-month deal with a salary in the range of £100,000-a-week, far less than the £350,000-a-week he left behind at Arsenal.

Aubameyang scored 92 goals in 163 games for the Gunners, won the FA Cup and the Community Shield in 2020. However, Sky Sports News journalist Kaveh Solhekol says Arteta is making a big risk letting Aubameyang go.

Solhekol wrote in his column: “This is a big risk by Mikel Arteta, because what happens if Aubameyang goes to Barcelona and scores a lot of goals?

“It just shows how much Arsenal are backing the judgement of their manager. Arteta is saying ‘I know he is our best goalscorer, he is the club captain, he is the highest earner at the club for disciplinary reasons l don’t want him at the club’. It’s a big, big call.

“I know he is leaving Arsenal under a bit of a cloud but there are also a lot of good memories. His ratio of goals to games is right up there with the great players.

“Arsenal supporters will say ‘we are weaker now than we were at the start of the window’. But in this instance, you have to back Mikel Arteta’s judgement – that is what the Arsenal owners are doing.”

Arsenal to give new deals to Arteta and Saka

The club, meanwhile, is preparing for the summer after a failed transfer window which saw 13 exits from the club’s various teams which included three from the first team.

Fans of the club have taken to social media to express great displeasure about the club’s handling of the transfer window, which has left the team severely depleted as they enter a crucial phase of their season.

However, fans will be happy about the reports that have come out of the club concerning fan favourite Bukayo Saka, who is primed to receive a new contract before the end of the season.

Saka’s current deal expires in the summer of 2024 and with many clubs interested in the winger, Arsenal have taken the initiative to keep him at the Emirates for longer.

Saka broke into the first team under Unai Emery playing at both left-back and on both flanks of the attack. He has gone on to make 114 appearances for the club. This season, he is one of their most influential attackers, having scored 6 goals and provided five assists in 26 games across all competitions for the Gunners.

Saka’s new contract will see a significant salary bump to reflect his importance to the side, and Arsenal’s head of football operations, Richard Garlick, will lead the talks that are likely to begin once the season ends in May.

Meanwhile, manager Mikel Arteta is also set to receive a new contract offer which is also touted to see his earnings increase significantly. His current deal expires at the end of next season but the Arsenal hierarchy want to offer him a two-year extension on that deal.

Club director Josh Kroenke has a strong relationship with Arteta and is reportedly pleased with how the Spaniard has navigated the club through the Covid-19 pandemic.

João Cancelo signs two-year extension with Manchester City

Manchester City and João Cancelo have extended their relationship for a further two years as the Portuguese full back has signed a contract extension until 2027 for higher wages.

The 27-year-old’s new deal sees his £80,000-a-week wages increase and also means he will have spent eight years with the Citizens by the time 2027.

Cancelo, at the contract signing which took place earlier on Tuesday, said that he is in the best place to achieve his career ambitions.

“Manchester City is a fantastic club, so I am incredibly happy to have signed this new agreement,” he told the club’s official website.

“City players have everything they need to reach their full potential, with amazing facilities, world-class teammates and an incredible manager who pushes us every single day.

“There is nowhere better to play football and it’s a pleasure to work here.

“I have so much I want to achieve before my career ends, and Manchester City offers me the best chance of fulfilling my ambitions.

“This new contract means I now have complete focus on improving my game and winning more trophies with this team.”

The former Benfica man signed for City in 2019 from Juventus in a deal that saw Brazilian right back Danilo move the other way. He showed glimpses of his quality in that season, but really came into his own in his second season.

Now in his third season, there is no better full back than Cancelo in world football at the moment, who has morphed into an all-round player that can handle both the left and right back positions, centre back position and provide cover for the defence as a defensive midfielder.

Since joining City in the summer of 2019, Cancelo has played 106 games, scoring seven goals and providing 14 assists, and winning three major trophies along the way.

Cancelo is the ultimate professional, City chief says

Director of Football at City, Txiki Begiristain expressed happiness at Cancelo’s extension. Speaking to City’s official website after overseeing the Portuguese’s extension, he said: “Joao is the ultimate professional. He absolutely loves football and applies himself every single day in a bid to become better.

“He sets really high standards, and any young player should observe the way Joao applies himself if they want a blueprint for success.

“Not only does he have incredible talent, he also displays perfect dedication to this sport. That’s why he can play so many games at such a high level. His consistency during the last two seasons has been amazing.

“He is so versatile. Whether he plays right-back, left-back or in midfield, he operates at the same high level. That is a dream for a manager.

“I am really happy he has signed, and I can’t wait to see him develop in the coming years.” 

Guardiola has once described the Portuguese fullback as a diamond due to his incredible stamina and versatility, which has made Cancelo a staple in the Spaniard’s squad despite all his tinkering.

“When one player arrives from another culture, he needs time to adapt, even myself needed time. The way we wanted to play, he needed time. Sometimes you are patient, sometimes not.

“But Joao since he arrived he played good but he has one huge quality – he loves playing football!” the City boss said earlier in the season about Cancelo’s qualities.

“When you find a player like that, like Riyad [Mahrez], Phil [Foden] is like this – you have a diamond in your hands.

“Most players like football but these three players I mentioned are like little boys playing in the street or in school. This is great. That is why Joao is consistent in his game.”

Manchester City move did not excite me at first, Cancelo says

Cancelo has been a revelation for City and his impact is what led to the club finding ways to secure his future at the Etihad for longer, even though he had three more years on his current contract.

That impact was also recognised by his peers as they voted him in last season’s PFA’s Premier League team of the season. Cancelo has 30 starts in all competitions for City this season and has only sat out just one Premier League game.

The former Juventus man said at his signing that City has elevated his game to another level.

“It makes all the sense to extend my contract with Manchester City,” said Cancelo.

“I have learned how to become a more versatile player. I feel I can play in different positions now, not only right-back or left-back.

“I feel I can play in several positions on the pitch, and I think (it) is easier in this team because of the quality all the players have. It’s easier to play in this team than in any other team.”

Cancelo also revealed that he was initially dissatisfied with his move to City back in 2019.

“In my first months, I wasn’t extremely happy about my decision to join Manchester City,” Cancelo admitted.

“I came from a club that I also like a lot, Juventus. I spoke to my girlfriend, and we agreed that I had to make the best out of myself to be able to play.

“As of December-January onwards, I started playing regularly so that makes a player happier. We players always want to play, but always with the aim of helping the team to achieve its goals.”

He also cites fellow Portuguese internationals Bernardo Silva and Ruben Dias for helping him settle into his place at City.

“Since I arrived, Bernardo Silva has been a great friend to me and a great support to me, both for me and my family.

“I have known him for a long time, we have built a good friendship since we were young.

“He has helped me a lot here. Also, I knew Ruben Dias from Benfica, but not as much as I knew Bernardo. Bernardo is from the same generation as I am.

“Ruben Dias has also helped me a lot. Both are very calm people, so they help me to be more relaxed as well.”

Cancelo said he wants to win all the trophies available this season, a feat that is likely as City remain favourites in every competition they are in.

RB Leipzig claim Leicester City have not made any approaches for Lookman

Leicester City have not tried to initiate any deals for the permanent transfer of Red Bull Leipzig forward, Ademola Lookman, who is spending the 2021/22 season on loan at the King Power stadium according to the German club’s technical director.

Foxes manager Brendan Rodgers said that Leicester was going to try to make Lookman’s loan deal permanent in the summer after the RB Leipzig forward’s impressive first six months in his loan deal. However, the Bundesliga side’s technical director, Christopher Vivell, has said that he has not heard from the Foxes over any move.

Vivell told Sky Sports in Germany: “We see that he [Lookman] plays again and again, he has good performances. But there is no contact with the loan club.”

The England-born Nigerian forward has played 21 times for Leicester since joining the club at the beginning of the season and has scored five goals while setting up three more for his teammates.

He now has a place as a key member of Rodgers’ squad for the season, and the manager has praised his abilities which has seen him play all across attack for Leicester.

Rodgers said of the 24-year-old in January: “He’s a player I’ve loved working with and he’s improving and developing all of the time. I can see the improvement in his personality.

“He has everything, he’s quick, he’s two-footed, he presses the game well, he’s a great dribbler, he’s scoring, he’s creating goals.

“He’s shown he can play anywhere across the frontline, he’s played off the right side, he’s played off the left, he played in a central role.

“He’s just a fantastic football player who still has so much development to make. I’ve been delighted with his contribution. And moving into the second half of the season, that [a permanent deal] will be something we will sit down and look at.”

Lookman, 24, has been a journeyman and has not been able to nail a spot in any squad since his senior debut. Rodgers believes that Lookman will show his quality if he has a permanent home, and hopes that the King Power stadium can be that home for him.

“He’s a boy now in his early 20s that probably needs to find a home. I felt we could bring him in here, where our culture is about coaching and development,” Rodgers said.

“We felt we could bring that personality up to the level of his talent. That’s time and work and confidence, and he’s showing he’s developing really well.”

Ricardo Pereira returns to training for Leicester City to provide boost for Foxes

Elsewhere, Portuguese right-back Ricardo Pereira is back in training with his Foxes teammates after fracturing his fibula in Leicester’s Carabao Cup quarter-final clash with Liverpool in December 2021.

Rodgers ruled Ricardo out for six-to-eight weeks when the injury was announced, which suggested that Pereira would not be back until at least the end of February.

However, Ricardo posted a picture from Leicester’s Seagrave training facility on Tuesday to suggest that he was back in full training with his team-mates.

He posed alongside Daniel Amartey, Lookman, Boubakary Soumare and Marc Albrighton, with Wilfred Ndidi photo bombing the picture.

Leicester has a big injury problem with Jamie Vardy, Timothy Castagne, Ryan Bertrand, Wesley Fofana and Jonny Evans out through injury. Pereira’s return will provide a big boost for Rodgers’ side.

It remains to be seen if he will be available for the FA Cup game against Nottingham Forest.

Mason Greenwood to spend extra time in police custody following new evidence in domestic abuse case

Mason Greenwood has been arrested anew as new and damning evidence surfaces over his domestic abuse of his girlfriend, Harriet Robson.

On Sunday, Greenwood’s girlfriend Robson shared images, videos and an audio clip in a post to her social media captioned, “for those who want to know what Mason Greenwood does to me”. The post indicted the Manchester United youngster for domestic abuse.

Greater Manchester police arrested the United forward later on Sunday on suspicions of rape and assault as part of their investigations into the case, after they “became aware of online social media images and videos posted by a woman reporting incidents of physical violence”.

Fresh reports on the incident now claim that Greenwood has been further arrested on new suspicions of sexual assault and making threats to kill. It said magistrates had granted a second extension to keep him in custody until Wednesday.

A force spokesman said inquiries were ongoing and the woman (Robson) was being “offered specialist support”.

Manchester United have since distanced themselves from the 20-year-old and said he will not play for the club until further notice. Greenwood made his United in March 2019 after signing his professional contract, and only signed his first long-term contract in February 2021.

The club said that they “did not condone violence of any kind” and that they had been made aware of the allegations but would make no further comment until the “facts have been established”.

Later, they came out to reiterate their position on violence while officially suspending Greenwood from club activities.

Greenwood’s partners and sponsors distance themselves from player

On Monday, video game developer EA Sports said the forward had been removed from FIFA products. A statement from the company stated that Greenwood had been removed from active FIFA 22 squads and also suspended from appearing in FIFA Ultimate Team packs and Ultimate Draft.

Sportswear company Nike, who were the player’s major sponsors also came out with a statement saying that all their relations with the 20-year-old had been suspended.

“We are deeply concerned by the disturbing allegations and will continue to closely monitor the situation,” a spokesman from Nike said.

Lingard to stay at United until the end of the season

Elsewhere, Jesse Lingard is primed to stay at Manchester United till the end of the season, in a frustrating end to the 29-year-old’s hopes of regular game-time elsewhere.

Newcastle United approached United for Lingard and all looked like the midfielder would be making the switch to St. James’ park. West Ham United, where he spent the remaining part of the 2020/21 season in a hugely successful loan spell also inquired about him.

Reports claimed that the West Ham move was on the verge of materialising for Lingard, only for the United hierarchy to make a U-turn at the 11th hour.

It is understood that the Greenwood situation prompted the club’s decision to not let Lingard go, having already lost Anthony Martial and Donny Van De Beek without making any new signings.

Fans have expressed their displeasure at the U-turn from the club’s key figures, as they push for Lingard to get his freedom to play football as he wishes.

Deadline day: Everton sign two new midfielders after hiring Lampard as coach

Everton have been in dire straits for most of the 2021/22 season but are shaping up to move on from Rafa Benitez, who was sacked from the dugout earlier in the month.

They appointed former Chelsea midfielder and manager, Frank Lampard, on Sunday and on Monday – the deadline day of the January transfer window – gave the new manager two new midfielders to begin his journey.

Here is the latest on Everton’s two new signings.

Dele Alli leaves Tottenham for Everton on permanent transfer

Embattled former Tottenham Hotspur midfielder Dele Alli has finally left the North London side after six years as he hopes to revive his stalled career under Frank Lampard.

Alli joined Tottenham from MK Dons in 2015 at 19 and went straight into the first team. He performed excellently and was destined for stardom. A year later, he was playing for the England national team at Euro 2016. He was also was a key player for the national team in the run up to the 2018 World Cup semi-finals.

Since after the World Cup, however, his career has nosedived and he has lost his place on both squads. Under the last three managers at Spurs, Alli only managed 15 starts in total and under current Spurs boss Antonio Conte, it became clear that the midfielder’s time at Spurs was up.

Alli was linked with a move to Paris Saint-Germain and Newcastle but new Toffees manager Lampard stepped in and demanded that his new club sign the midfielder as he believes he can help revive the career of the midfielder who once drew comparisons to him.

It was a no-brainer for Everton to sign Alli as the club is lacking in adequate quality in the middle of the park. Allan and Andre Gomes were Everton’s only fit midfielders at the time which made the deal for Alli a necessity outside Lampard’s personal request for the 25-year-old.

Alli moves to Goodison Park for an undisclosed transfer fee.

Donny Van De Beek offered new lease of life with move to Everton

After being on the fringes of the Manchester United squad since his move to Old Trafford from Ajax Amsterdam in the 2020/21 season, Donny Van De Beek could be getting his career back on track after joining Everton on loan for the rest of the season.

The Dutch midfielder, once considered one of the world’s best young midfielders and a big prospect for the future of the role in the game, saw his career stall since choosing to move to United from all the options he had in the summer of 2020.

He has since lost his place in the Netherlands national team and has not been able to play at the standard he used to before his move to England.

He now believes he has started his recovery process in signing for Everton, claiming a chat with new manager Frank Lampard gave him clarity on what he needed to do.

“I had a really positive meeting with the new coach,” Van De Beek said to Everton after signing for the club. “We have the same ideas about football and he had a lot of influence on my decision.

“I played against him when I was at Ajax, and he was at Chelsea [as manager], so he knows me as a player. He thinks I have qualities that can help the team. I can learn a lot from him because he was a little bit in the same position – a midfield player who scored a lot of goals.

“He can help me a lot, so I think I’m in a good spot. I want to improve with Everton. There are always things that can be better and I work hard every day to do that.

“I want to show my qualities, my strengths, to the people in England – but especially the fans from Everton.”

Crystal Palace and Valencia were in talks to sign Van de Beek during the January transfer window, but Lampard stepped in just as he did with Alli and the 24-year-old opted for a switch to Goodison Park instead.

Palace in fact had already begun negotiations with United after Dennis Bergkamp – the father of Van de Beek’s partner – triggered talks. Valencia inquired about the midfielder but were unsure about his wages.

Everton will cover the midfielder’s full wages but do not have the option to make his loan move permanent.

Deadline Day: Aubameyang signs for Barcelona

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has signed a six-month deal with Barcelona on the January transfer window deadline day, with the official announcement to be made later.

In one of the most followed transfers of the window, the Arsenal outcast Aubameyang was “just allowed to leave” the club according to transfer insider Fabrizio Romano and begin talks with Barcelona for a move to the Camp Nou.

Earlier talks between Barcelona and Arsenal failed to materialise into something good as Arsenal were unwilling to handle any part of the Gabon international’s £350,000 per week salary. At the time of this breakdown, Aubameyang was already in Spain reportedly preparing for a medical.

The talks picked back up again, but this time, Arsenal allowed the striker’s representative to take over the talks, as they were happy to part ways with the striker who they had frozen out of the team for the past two months.

Aubameyang – who had 18 months left on his Arsenal contract – now joins the Catalans who have been in the market for a striker for most of the January transfer window for a much lower fee than his £350,000 per week at Arsenal wages.

Although the deal is an initial six-month deal, there is an option for a one-year extension which Barcelona will consider at the end of the season.

Arsenal will be saving an estimated £25 million in wages with Aubameyang’s departure, but his exit means Mikel Arteta’s side will have only two strikers in the misfiring Alexandre Lacazette and Eddie Nketiah to finish the season with. Both strikers are also out of a contract in the summer and both have reportedly decided against continuing at the Emirates.

Arsenal believe Aubameyang to Barcelona deal to be good according to reports

Reports from within the North London club have come out to claim that the club believes Aubameyang’s exit to be a good deal for the club, despite not receiving any form of compensation from Barcelona.

The reason behind the statement is the £25 million in savings which the Gunners will be making as they take Aubameyang of their wage roster.

The 32-year-old former Borussia Dortmund man Aubameyang has not featured for Arsenal since December after being ostracised following a reported disciplinary issue. Sky Sports analyst Adam Bate also believes that the move will benefit all parties.

“The drop in performance levels has been so great that it is probably worth reminding people that Aubameyang was a world-class striker for much of his time at Arsenal,” Bates said.

“Indeed, from the day of his debut for the club in February 2018 until the day of his double against Everton in February 2020, no player scored more Premier League goals. He scored 49 times in that period, the same as Mohamed Salah and a dozen more than Harry Kane.

“But almost as soon as his new contract was signed that September, there has been a sense of decline, of a player whose best days are behind him.

“At 32, there will be hope that Aubameyang could yet recapture his best form, inspired by new surroundings and the challenge of restoring Barcelona to their former glories. At Arsenal, any regret will be tempered by the feeling that it is time for the club to move on.”

Deadline Day: Tottenham Hotspur sign Kulusevski and Bentancur from Juventus

Tottenham Hotspur have finally made some signings in the January transfer window as they complete moves for Juventus duo Dejan Kulusevski and Rodrigo Bentancur.

Spurs have been busy in the transfer market this January but nothing seemed to be working for the North London side. They also suffered some late disappointment after seeing potential deals for Luis Diaz and Adama Traore hijacked by Liverpool and Barcelona respectively.

Fans of the club can finally rest easy as manager Antonio Conte gets his first signings as coach. The move for Swedish winger Dejan Kulusevski has been a long time coming, as Spurs had been linked to him since the beginning of the window. Bentancur, however, will come as a surprise as there had been little news about Spurs interest in the Uruguayan midfielder.

Kulusevski, 21, arrives on an 18-month loan with the option to make the move permanent for £30 million after the first six months, while Bentancur, 24, arrives on a four-year deal on deadline day for Tottenham.

The Serie A giants broke the news on their Twitter in separate posts for both players, which was followed up by separate posts from Tottenham’s Twitter to confirm the signings.

Kulusevski’s arrival dallied longer than Spurs expected due to negotiation issues and an injury very early in the year to Federico Chiesa which saw Kulusevski find his way back into Juventus’ dynamics and play more games. However, both the Swedish international and the Uruguayan midfielder will bring their experience of playing with a title winning side to the Tottenham Hotspur stadium to help Conte in his squad rebuild.

Ndombele joins Lyon on loan

Spurs also completed a deadline day move for outcast Tanguy Ndombele as the Frenchman sealed a loan move back to Olympique Lyonnais, from where he joined the North London club in 2019.

Bentancur’s signing is a direct replacement for Ndombele, who played 91 games in the troubled two-and-a-half seasons he was at the Tottenham Hotspur stadium.

Lyon paid a loan fee of £1.2 million for their former midfielder, who they signed to replace new Newcastle signing Bruno Guimaraes, who was also signed as a replacement for Ndombele in 2020. The French club have an option to make the loan deal permanent for Ndombele at the end of the season for £54 million.

Tottenham released a statement wishing their club record signing a good loan spell at Lyon. “Tanguy Ndombele has joined Ligue 1 side Olympique Lyonnais on loan until the end of the season,” the statement began.

“The central midfielder returns to the club from which he joined us in July 2019. He has made 91 appearances for us in all competitions to date, scoring 10 goals.”

This season, Ndombele has fallen even further down the pecking order and only started just three games under Conte since the Italian’s appointment in November 2021.

Sky Sports News reporter Paul Gilmour claims that Spurs are happy to be free of Ndombele. “Ndombele was to be the answer in a midfield with a large Mousa Dembele-shaped hole,” Gilmour wrote.

“What followed was not progress but disappointment and fast forward two-and-a-half years – and four managers (five if we include interim Ryan Mason) – and Ndombele will depart without fulfilling his promise.

“Tottenham have got their way with this deal. They have opted to back Antonio Conte over the player. Conte was not keen on the PSG players potentially being included in a swap deal, but Lyon have made their move.”

Lyon beat Valencia, Paris Saint-Germain and Everton to the signing of Ndombele, who joined Spurs for £63 million in 2019.

Bryan Gil returns to LaLiga with Valencia

20-year-old Spaniard Bryan Gil has left Tottenham Hotspur for the rest of the season to play for Valencia on loan, a year after leaving LaLiga side Sevilla in a move that saw 2021 Puskas winner Erik Lamela move to the Andalusian club.

Sevilla offered Gil and £21.6 million for Lamela in the summer and he has gone on to make 20 appearances for Spurs this season. However, he is yet to start a Premier League game and has not scored a goal.

Kulusevski comes in to take his place, although it is expected that the Swede will have a more prominent role than the young Spaniard had in his time at the Tottenham Hotspur stadium.

AFCON 2021: Sadio Mane declared fit for Senegal quarter final fixture

Sadio Mane has been declared fit by doctors after a head collision that left him dazed and is cleared to play for Senegal ahead of their quarter final game against Equatorial Guinea in the ongoing African Cup of Nations tournament.

Sadio Mane was forced off the pitch during Senegal’s 2-0 round of 16 victory over Cape Verde on Tuesday after a clash of heads with Cape Verde goalkeeper Vozinha. Mane had to be attended to for an extended period during the game, but came back on to keep playing.

He eventually scored the first of the two goals which earned Senegal a place in the quarter final but the collision did more damage than the on-pitch medics could determine, leading Mane to ask to be substituted.

After tests and X-Rays, Senegal’s doctor Abdourahmane Fedior has declared Mane fit, claiming he has no concussion symptoms and will be able to face Equatorial Guinea with the Teranga Lions on Sunday.

“All the symptoms he had on the pitch are gone,” Dr. Fedior in a statement released by the Senegal FA. “His condition requires fairly close monitoring. Everything is normal on the X-ray.”

The decision to allow Mane to continue after the collision did not sit right with brain-injury charity Headway, who heavily criticised the decision to keep Mane on the field through their deputy CEO Luke Griggs.

Griggs said in a statement: “This was a sickening collision that clearly left both players in enough distress for a concussion to have surely been considered a possibility at the very least.

“At that point, the principle of ‘if in doubt, sit it out!’ should have resulted in Mane being substituted without another ball being kicked.

“The image of the player collapsing on the ground and having to be helped from the pitch after scoring his goal should tell you everything you need to know about the impact and the effect it had had on his brain.”

“Yet again, the desire to win is seen as being worth serious risks to players’ health. It is simply shocking that this continues to happen.

“This is now a real test of leadership for the Confederation of African Football and world governing body FIFA – particularly if Senegal declare Mane fit for Sunday’s quarter-final. If football wants to be taken seriously when it comes to concussion, it simply must take action to enforce and strengthen its protocols.”

Liverpool urge Mane to sit out Senegal’s quarter final game

Mane – the reigning African Footballer of the Year – later posted a picture of himself with Cape Verde goalkeeper Vozinha from the hospital on social media on Friday, with the caption “recovering”.

The forward is a key figure in the Teranga Lions hopes of winning their first ever AfCON title, and are one of the key favourites to win the title in this edition.

However, Daily Mail reports that Liverpool have urged Mane to sit out the match as they fear that he is not fully fit even with the tests and X-Rays showing no signs of serious injury.

Liverpool have also contacted the Senegalese football authorities to express their fears over their star forward’s condition with hopes that they do not field Mane against Equatorial Guinea on Sunday and let him recover.

Senegal manager unhappy with claims over players’ health

Meanwhile, Senegal manager Aliou Cisse is unhappy with the suggestions that the Teranga Lions are not considering their players’ health.

Aliou Cisse is unwilling to accept the claims and suggestions, who are citing Mane’s case as reason. The Cape Verde goalkeeper was removed promptly from the game before being sent off as he was the one who rushed into the rash challenge, but Mane played for another 15 minutes before the collision took its full toll on him.

Sources close to Liverpool as well as observers of the tournament, including brain injury charity Headway, have called for the head of the Senegal national team handlers for taking such a risk with a very important player.

“I can reassure you that the health of Mane and all the players I have at my availability at the moment is very important,” Cisse told GOAL defiantly ahead of Sunday’s AfCON quarter final against Equatorial Guinea. “We don’t play with our players’ health, nor do our doctors.

“We are professionals as well, so while the result is important, the health of our players doesn’t go above the importance of the results.”