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Latest Football News Round-Up | 20 March 2024

Richard Huges Named the new Liverpool Sporting Director

Liverpool have appointed Richard Hughes as their new sporting director. The 44-year-old is set to assume his duties on June 1st. His primary task will be to find a successor for departing Reds manager Jurgen Klopp, who will be leaving Anfield at the end of the season.

Hughes, known for his decade-long tenure as Bournemouth's technical director, recently resigned from his position. He marks Michael Edwards's inaugural appointment since assuming the role of CEO of Football for Fenway Sports Group [FSG].

Having harboured a desire to collaborate with Hughes for years, Edwards and Hughes share a professional and personal relationship spanning over two decades. This relationship dates back to Hughes's playing career at Portsmouth, during which Edwards served as the club's head analyst under then-manager Harry Redknapp.

Bringing a proven track record of signing young talents to Liverpool, Hughes notably facilitated the transfers of players like Nathan Ake, Dominic Solanke, Callum Wilson, and Aaron Ramsdale during his time at Bournemouth. Additionally, he is multilingual and possesses valuable connections in France and Italy, where he spent his formative years.

Hughes's familiarity with the agent of reported Liverpool managerial target Xabi Alonso, coupled with his previous dealings with other clients like Andoni Iraola, underscores his potential influence in the club's managerial decisions. Notably, Hughes was reportedly keen on having Roberto De Zerbi, another candidate for Klopp's replacement, manage Bournemouth.

Despite Julian Ward's departure as Liverpool's sporting director last summer, Hughes was not initially considered for the role. Nonetheless, his appointment now marks a significant step for both him and the club.

Expressing his enthusiasm, Hughes stated, "I am incredibly proud to be offered this opportunity. Liverpool FC is a unique club, and I'm grateful to be given a chance to serve it in this capacity."

Source - Sky Sports

Dani Alves To Be Freed in $1 Million on Rape Case Conviction

Former Barcelona and Brazil footballer Dani Alves is set to be conditionally released from jail after serving approximately a quarter of his sentence for rape. Alves, who received a four-and-a-half-year prison term last month, will be freed on a €1 million (£853,000) bail. He has been in pre-trial detention since January 2023. The 40-year-old was convicted of raping a woman in a Barcelona nightclub in December 2022.

The decision for his release includes several conditions, such as surrendering both his Brazilian and Spanish passports to prevent him from leaving Spain and appearing in court every week. Additionally, a restraining order has been issued, prohibiting him from contacting the victim.

The ruling follows a request from Alves' lawyer, who argued that his client had already served a significant portion of his sentence in pre-trial detention. However, the decision was not unanimous, with one judge dissenting. The victim's lawyer criticized the ruling, denouncing it as favouring the wealthy and announcing plans to appeal.

During the trial, prosecutors alleged that Alves and a friend had bought champagne for three young women before Alves lured one of them to a VIP area of the nightclub under false pretences. They claimed that he then became violent, forcing the woman into sex despite her protests. Alves maintained that the encounter was consensual, but the court ruled otherwise, citing evidence corroborating the victim's account.

The court highlighted Alves's forceful actions, noting that he forcibly restrained the victim while she expressed her refusal and desire to leave. The victim described the incident as causing her "anguish and terror," with a friend recounting her uncontrollable crying afterward.

Alves, who has played for Barcelona, Sevilla, Juventus, and PSG, among others, has enjoyed a decorated career, winning numerous league titles and Champions League trophies. He has also represented Brazil extensively at the international level, including in the 2022 World Cup.

Source - BBC

Real Madrid goalkeeper Courtois faces another setback

Real Madrid goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois faces another setback in his recovery from injury as he undergoes surgery for a torn meniscus in his right knee. This injury comes just as the 31-year-old was nearing a return from a previous ruptured anterior cruciate ligament (ACL).

Courtois, a Belgium international, suffered a meniscus tear during training. He had previously endured a significant ACL injury to his left knee in August, which has sidelined him for the entire season thus far.

There is currently no specified timeframe for his return, with Real Madrid stating that a recovery plan will commence "in the next few days."

Since joining Real Madrid from Chelsea in 2018, Courtois has made 230 appearances for the club, winning eight trophies, including two La Liga titles and the 2022 Champions League.

Courtois's absence prompted Real Madrid to secure Spain international Kepa Arrizabalaga on a season-long loan from Chelsea as cover. However, Kepa has recently lost his starting position to Ukraine goalkeeper Andriy Lunin.

Source - BBC

Eden Hazard to Return To Stamford Bridge 

Eden Hazard, the former Chelsea winger, is set to return to Stamford Bridge for the Soccer Aid charity game, marking his first appearance at the stadium since leaving Chelsea for Real Madrid in 2019. Hazard expressed his excitement about reuniting with his "Chelsea family" and reminiscing about the "amazing" moments he experienced there. Managed by Mauricio Pochettino, he will play for the Rest of the World team in the match. Hazard's return has generated buzz among fans, as he looks forward to reliving fond memories at Stamford Bridge.

Mouriho’s Next Job Awaits as Former Real Madrid Manager undergo changes

Bayern Munich's sporting director Max Eberl has revealed that Jose Mourinho is being considered to replace Thomas Tuchel at the end of the season. Despite Mourinho's availability and extensive managerial experience, Eberl admitted uncertainty about his proficiency in German. Mourinho, who has been linked with various clubs globally, remains a tantalizing prospect for Bayern as they seek Tuchel's successor.

Sir Jim Ratcliffe Predicts Premier League Winners

Manchester United co-owner Sir Jim Ratcliffe has expressed his preference for Arsenal to win the Premier League title this season. Despite being a lifelong United fan, Ratcliffe admitted to 'hating' all three title contenders - Liverpool, Manchester City, and Arsenal. However, he singled out Arsenal due to Mikel Arteta's impressive management and the club's patience with him. Ratcliffe also set a three-year deadline for United to return to the top of the table, emphasizing the need to learn from their rivals' successful structures and environments.

Source - Mirror

Kai Havertz told he should miss the title battle match against City

A refereeing panel has determined that Kai Havertz should have been sent off during Arsenal's recent 2-1 victory against Brentford. The German player avoided a red card for simulation in the penalty area, moments before scoring the winning goal. Referee Rob Jones opted not to penalize Havertz, and VAR couldn't intervene for yellow card offences. However, the Key Match Incidents (KMI) panel concluded that Havertz's actions warranted a dismissal. Brentford manager Thomas Frank expressed frustration, believing Havertz shouldn't have been on the pitch to score the winning goal. If Havertz had been sent off, he would have faced a one-match ban, potentially missing the crucial clash against Manchester City.


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