Barcelona Chief Hints at Ivan Rakitic Contract Renewal Next Season With PL Giants Interested

Chelsea, Manchester City and Manchester United are all reportedly monitoring Ivan Rakitic’s situation at Barcelona after the La Liga club’s president revealed they may look to renew the Croatian’s contract next season.

According to talkSPORT, Chelsea are among a host of clubs interested in the Croatian, with the two Manchester clubs also keeping an eye on the situation along with French giants Paris Saint-Germain.

UEFA Champions League'FC Barcelona v PSV'

It’s understood that Rakitic is looking for a considerable pay rise as well as an extension to his current contract which is due to run out in 2021. 

However, Barcelona president Josep Bartomeu has said that the Croatian will not be getting a new contract any time soon, leading to the interest in the player.

Bartomeu has explained his reasoning as being finance related, in an interview with Onda Cero as quoted by talkSPORT he said: “For this campaign, we will not be able to go through with the gesture that Rakitic is asking of us. Next season we can look at it in relation to our new revenue.”

FC Barcelona v PSV - UEFA Champions League Group B

The interest from some of Europe’s top clubs suggests that Barca would be making a big mistake by not agreeing a new contract with ?Rakitic, who starred for Croatia during the 2018 World Cup as they reached the final, ultimately losing to France.

Rakitic moved to the Catalan club from Sevilla in 2014 and has since become a mainstay in Barca’s midfield, something that isn’t to be sniffed at given the glut of talent the club have had in that area in recent times.

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3 Key Battles That Could Decide West Ham United’s Premier League Clash With Chelsea on Sunday

Maurizio Sarri’s team face a weekend trip across the capital in a bid to keep their 100% record alive.  

Chelsea won’t have it easy however, as they’ve failed to pick up a single win in their last three visits to the London Stadium. Their opponents, West Ham, will be buoyant after a victory away to Everton last time out, as star players start to hit form.

 

Atop of the Premier League table on goal difference, one slip up from the Blues will allow Liverpool to take control. Needing big characters in this game, 50-50s must be won all around the pitch.   

Here’s three key battles that could decide Sunday’s clash: 

1. Eden Hazard vs. Pablo Zabaleta

You’ll find it difficult to identify a better winger in the Premier League than Eden Hazard. When in full flow, the Belgian is near impossible to deal with. Speed, trickery and an outstanding dribbling ability, Chelsea’s no.10 is a true savant of the game. 

On Sunday, he’ll be up against one of the most experienced full backs in the league. Pablo Zabaleta may be in the twilight years of his career, but previous achievements speak for themselves. A mainstay of Manchester City’s side for nine seasons, the Argentine was there for that fateful day in May 2012. 

This scrap should be decided by Hazard’s movement, and if he can find a way to beat Zabaleta for pace. With the Irons likely adopting two deep lying banks of four, Maurizio Sarri’s main man will need to be patient when choosing his moment to strike.

2. N’Golo Kante vs. Felipe Anderson

One of the nicest and most talented footballers around, N’Golo Kante is adored on the Stamford Bridge terraces. An integral piece of France’s all conquering World Cup side, the diminutive midfielder won the ball more times than anybody else in the tournament. This week, his sights will be firmly set on a certain Brazilian. 

Felipe Anderson has been brought in by the Irons from Lazio, and he wasn’t cheap. Smashing their transfer record, the east London club spent a total figure of £42m on the attacking midfielder. Gifted with an ability to drop opponents, his quick feet could prove a problem for Kante.

Likely starting out on the left flank, Anderson will drift in centrally as Mark Noble drops deep to help out Pedro Obiang and Declan Rice. Whether he decides to drift away from Chelsea’s water carrier or take him head on, the trickery of West Ham’s no.8 is to be on show throughout.

3. Olivier Giroud vs. Issa Diop

With Alvaro Morata only netting once in four Premier League games, it’s likely Maurizio Sarri moves on with Olivier Giroud. 

Tasked with neutralising the Frenchman’s impact is compatriot Issa Diop. Transferring from Toulouse this summer, the 21-year-old is to have a properly physical duel this Sunday. Hoping to be helped out by defensive partner Fabian Balbuena, Diop will have seen Giroud prove himself in Russia this summer. 

As the forward isn’t best known for his goal scoring prowess, it will be an interesting battle to see how Chelsea try and breach West Ham’s back line. Whether they wish for Giroud to out-muscle his opponent at set pieces or tire them out for a late game surge, an unwavering focus will be needed from Manuel Pellegrini’s troops. 

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Picking the Best Potential Chelsea Lineup to Face West Ham United in Sunday’s Premier League Clash

With five wins from five Premier League games, Chelsea have gone about their business in an assured, yet self-effacing manner. The tactics employed by manager Maurizio Sarri seem to be paying dividends fairly quickly, as the Blues new attacking threat begins to blossom. 

Preparation for this weekend hasn’t been ideal however, as their flight back from Thessaloniki was delayed overnight due to bad weather. 

Thankfully, not all of their stars made the trip to play against PAOK in the Europa League, with the likes of David Luiz and Eden Hazard resting up in SW6.

A trip to face an invigorated West Ham is on the cards this weekend, and Chelsea will need to stay sharp against a side that have surprised them in recent outings. 

Here’s how the away team could lineup at London Stadium:

1. Goalkeeper & Defenders

Kepa Arrizabalaga (GK) – In from Athletic Bilbao for a goalkeeping record of £71.6m, the aptly named ‘Kepa’ has some price-tag to shrug off. Conceding in his last Premier League game, the young Spaniard will hope to keep a clean sheet this week.

Cesar Azpilicueta (RB) – Possibly better in a central role, this man nicknamed ‘Dave’ has shown so much positional intelligence that Sarri feels he is more than capable of another season on the right. Wherever he plays, Azpilicueta’s leadership will be crucial to success.

David Luiz (CB) – Somewhat reintroduced into the side by his new boss, Luiz is flourishing this term. There is no doubt that Chelsea still need to improve dramatically when it comes to defending, but a solidified back line should help matters.

Antonio Rudiger (CB) – The big German has locked down a berth since this campaign started, with Gary Cahill now resigned to the bench. Young Ethan Ampadu has shown promise however, and Rudiger will need to stay on high alert if he is to maintain a starting XI berth. 

Marcos Alonso (LB) – One the Blues most important players, Alonso’s ability to surge up and down the left flank is truly astonishing. With pace and power added to his exceptional free-kick taking ability, the only doubt is a competence when it comes to stopping opponents.  

2. Midfielders

N’Golo Kante (DM) – The genial Frenchman will bustle about in defensive midfield, completing all tasks before him. One of the best around, he continues to prove that Chelsea’s decision to take him off Leicester’s hands for a mere £32m was fantastic business. 

Jorginho (CM) – In from Napoli, Jorginho will be entrusted to set the tempo against West Ham. 

Mateo Kovacic (CM) – On loan from Real Madrid, the Croat has come to England with something to prove. An industrious nature combined with fantastic mobility across the central area gives him the edge over Ross Barkley and Cesc Fabregas. 

3. Forwards

Willian (RW) – With Pedro suffering an arm injury in Greece, it’s likely the Brazilian will get the nod in east London. Scoring the winner on Thursday, his confidence should be high.

Olivier Giroud (CF) – Potentially replacing a largely unimpressive Alvaro Morata, the World Cup winner will try and hold up the ball so his wingers can overlap. 

Eden Hazard (LW) – The magic man scored a hat-trick last time out against Cardiff, and looks to be reveling in Sarri’s new system. Near unstoppable while on form, no.10 will fancy himself going up against an ageing Pablo Zabaleta. 

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Gary Cahill Admits He May Seek Chelsea Exit in January After Being Frozen Out by Maurizio Sarri

Chelsea defender Gary Cahill admits that he will have to leave Stamford Bridge in January unless there is a dramatic change in circumstances between now and then.

Having failed to feature in any of Chelsea’s Premier League matchday squads so far this season, Cahill must have hoped that the Europa League would provide an opportunity for some long-awaited first team football.

He travelled to Greece but didn’t make it off the bench in the ?1-0 win over PAOK Salonika on Thursday, proving that Maurizio Sarri does not see the 32-year-old as part of his plans.

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Asked if he would have to leave ?Chelsea in January to play regular football, ?Cahill replied (quoted by ?the Mirror): “I don’t want to jump the gun but as things stand at this time, probably, yes.

“Whatever my future holds, in terms of the club, and the relationship I have with the club and the fans, it will have been a huge part of my footballing life. I’ve got maximum respect for everybody here.

“I realise that sometimes you have to make tough decisions and football doesn’t wait for people.”

Cahill has made over 280 appearances for Chelsea since joining from Bolton in 2012. He was a Champions League winner within five months of joining the club and has gone on to win two Premier League titles, the Europa League and the FA Cup.

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“Everything gradually comes to an end or there’s a new challenge around the corner. I’ve been here for six years and won six titles,” said Cahill.

“I’m proud of my career, of what I’ve done here and what I’ve achieved in such a short space of time.”

Cahill also won 61 caps for England before effectively retiring from international duty in August.

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Chelsea Summer Signing Admits He Didn’t Realise How Good Eden Hazard Was Before Arriving

?Chelsea loanee Mateo Kovacic, who is on loan from Real Madrid, has said he did not realise just how good teammate Eden Hazard was until he arrived at the London club.

Kovacic insisted he knew the Belgian was a top player, but admitted to being shocked by just how impressive a footballer Hazard is. Having played with the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo at Madrid too, the Croatian knows a thing or two about world-class players.

Hazard spent the summer being linked with moves away from Stamford Bridge, most prominently to Real Madrid in the opposite direction to ?Kovacic, but the talented 27-year-old opted to stay at ?Chelsea.

Chelsea FC v Cardiff City - Premier League

Speaking to the ?Evening Standard about the Belgian, Kovacic said: “[?Hazard is] really good. I didn’t know he’s so good. Obviously I knew that he is a great player.

“But now, when I see him playing with us every day, every week, he is just incredible. For me, in this moment, one of the three best players in the world. I am enjoying with him, with other players, because the team is really amazing, talented, and I think we can do great things this season.”

After a late return from the World Cup, Hazard has already hit impressive form in the Premier League this season – netting a remarkable five goals in five games, and grabbing two assists as well.

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Hazard scored a hat-trick against ?Cardiff.

Chelsea have started their Premier League campaign under new boss Maurizio Sarri in inspired form, having won all five of their opening matches. They also beat Greek side PAOK 1-0 in their opening Europa League fixture in midweek.

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