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Madrid goalie Navas grateful for Zidane’s support

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Real Madrid goalkeeper Keylor Navas has thanked Blancos coach Zinedine Zidane for the confidence shown in him through a difficult 2017-18, as speculation in Spain continues that the Bernabeu outfit have ended their chase for Manchester United’s David De Gea.

Navas had a foot operation last summer and on his return made a number of high-profile mistakes through the autumn and winter.

He has also been whistled at the Bernabeu as recently as March, but he returned to form in the crucial part of the season and made impressive stops in the Champions League semifinals against Atletico Madrid and last weekend’s 4-1 final win over Juventus.

The Costa Rica international’s uncertain form led to rumours that Blancos president Florentino Perez was keen to finally seal a deal for Spain No. 1 De Gea, who almost joined Madrid two years ago in a deal that would have seen Navas moving to Old Trafford.

Speaking on international duty the Los Ticos captain said that support from Zidane and his teammates at the Bernabeu had been vital to getting over some difficult times.

“I began the season injured, then it was difficult to recover,” Navas said. “I wanted it to be easy, but it wasn’t like that. Now I feel much more strengthened on a footballing and spiritual level.

“I owe thanks to Zidane, and one way to repay him is to play as well as possible so that his decisions are backed up. Everyone likes that someone supports them when you are in a difficult moment, even more your teammates who are there day to day. Seeing that they never doubt you is something that motivates you.”

During the celebrations of Madrid’s back-to-back Champions League win in Cardiff, Zidane reportedly told Navas that “you are my goalkeeper,” with others in the dressing room apparently making it clear to Perez that they were happy with the current situation.

Marca have now claimed sources at the Bernabeu have confirmed to them that given Navas’ return to form, and United’s apparent €75 million valuation of De Gea, they have ended any interest in signing the ex-Atletico Madrid shot-stopper.

Navas has also revealed that he will not play for Costa Rica in July’s CONCACAF Gold Cup in the United States, as he will be elsewhere in the country ensuring he gets a proper preseason with his club.

“These are decisions taken by the coaching staff and the player,” he said. “I have had a very long year, many games, injuries, and we often need the space to recover for the next year, which will also be very difficult.”

There is, however, expected to a be a goalkeeping change at the Bernabeu this summer, with last season’s third choice Ruben Yanez, 23, moving on in search of first-team football elsewhere. That could see Luca Zidane, 19, promoted to the senior squad, despite some uncertain form in last season’s Europa Youth League campaign.

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Football

Schalke 2-3 Man City: Sane, Sterling score late goals

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Late goals from Leroy Sane and Raheem Sterling gave Manchester City a 3-2 win at Schalke in their Champions League Round of 16 first leg.

Substitute Sane scored against his former club with a sensational free kick in the 86th after Nabil Bentaleb converted two spot kicks in the 38th and 45th minutes to put Schalke ahead.

Sergio Aguero had given City the lead in the 18th and the English champions were left with 10 men in the 68th minute when Nicolas Otamendi was sent off following a second booking.

City, who have conceded at least two goals in six of their seven games in the Champions League knockout stages under Pep Guardiola, will also be without yellow-carded Fernandinho for the return leg in Manchester on March 12.

SCHALKE 2-3 MANCHESTER CITY | AGUERO (18), BENTALEB (36, 44), SANE (84), STERLING (90)

Schalke XI: Fahrmann, Caliguiri, Bruma, Sane, Nastasic, Oczikpa, Serdar, Bentaleb, McKennie, Uth, Mendyl
Manchester City XI: Ederson, Walker, Laporte, Otamendi, Fernandinho, Gundogan, De Bruyne, Silva, Bernardo, Sterling, Aguero

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Chelsea

Chelsea told to appoint former EPL manager as Sarri’s replacement

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Former Arsenal goalkeeper, David Seaman, has told Chelsea to appoint former Gunners boss, Arsene Wenger as Maurizio Sarri’s replacement at Stamford Bridge.

Seaman believes Wenger would be a great choice to replace Sarri at the West London club.

He stated this ahead of Chelsea’s UEFA Europa League round of 32 second-leg tie with Malmo on Thursday night.

Sarri, who joined Chelsea last summer, has been under intense pressure at Stamford Bridge due to the club’s recent poor performances.

“Arsene Wenger would be great at Chelsea, I think. He’d be great anywhere, he’s a fantastic manager,” Seaman said on talkSPORT.

“Arsene always said he wouldn’t come back to the Premier League because of his love for Arsenal that he wouldn’t feel right competing against Arsenal.

“But obviously time’s a healer and he could think. I want to go back there and prove a few people wrong.”

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Football

Eagles assistant coach, Chukwuma Agbo is dead

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The Assistant Coach, Beach Soccer national team for the Super Sand Eagles, Chukwuma Agbo has been reported dead.

His death came barely 10 days after the demise of Taiwo Ogunjobi, who passed on, on Monday, Feb. 11.

Agbo, former Rangers International and Delta Force Head Coach’s death was confirmed on Wednesday by the Nigeria Football

Federation (NFF).

In a tweet via its official Twitter handle (@thenff), the NFF said Agbo’s death was sad:

“Yet another painful loss! We are sad to hear of the passing of Assistant Coach of our Beach Soccer National team, the Super Sand Eagles, Chukwuma Agbo.

‘‘Our prayers are with his family at this time. May his soul rest in peace,” the NFF said.

The News Agency of Nigeria gathered that Agbo died on Wednesday after a brief illness.

The late Agbo, who resigned as the head coach of Delta Force in January, led the club to the Nigeria National League, NNL Super 8, where they ended fourth in Group B.

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