Chelsea star Ruben Loftus-Cheek wanted in Lazio transfer with old boss Maurizio Sarri looking to move for midfielder - Godz
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Chelsea star Ruben Loftus-Cheek wanted in Lazio transfer with old boss Maurizio Sarri looking to move for midfielder

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LAZIO want to sign Chelsea midfielder Ruben Loftus-Cheek on loan, according to reports.

The Romans have just appointed ex-Blues boss Maurizio Sarri and the Italian is said to have put the 25-year-old high on his transfer wishlist.

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Lazio want to sign Chelsea ace Ruben Loftus-Cheek on loan[/caption]

Sarri will take charge of the Serie A giants and they poked fun at the 62-year-old’s chain smoking habit on Twitter.

The former Juventus boss has reportedly signed a two-year deal worth around £2.5million-a-season.

Ex-Napoli manager Sarri has been jobless since Juve sacked him last August following 14 months in charge.

He managed Chelsea for the 2018-19 season – the campaign Loftus Cheek bagged 10 goals and five assists from 40 Blues games.

And Sarri fancies a reunion at the Stadio Olimpico, according to various Italian outlets as well as transfer guru Fabrizio Romano.

Although they initally want Loftus-Cheek on loan, like Fikayo Tomori’s switch to AC Milan, Lazio reportedly want to agree an option to buy the midfielder permanently at the end of next season.

A bad heel injury ended Loftus-Cheek‘s 2018-19 campaign before the Europa League final win over Arsenal, after a career-high 40 appearances during the season.

The England international spent 2020-21 on loan at Fulham and SunSport understand Southampton are also keen on his services.

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Much will depend on Thomas Tuchel’s plan for Loftus-Cheek with a big summer of spending planned.

Erling Haaland and Achraf Hakimi are said to be Tuchel’s top targets.

But the £210m required to sign them could see Loftus-Cheek let go to raise funds or free up wages.

The Blues are also in line to bag £24.5m cash from AC Milan who are set to sign Tomori permanently this summer.

Read our Football live blog for the very latest news from around the grounds

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How Colombian star Andres Escobar was executed by drug cartel after unlucky own goal destroyed 1994 World Cup dreams

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COLOMBIA’S World Cup hopes were high: they had finished top of their qualifying group, beaten Argentina 5-0, and been tipped as favourites by Brazilian legend Pele.

But their 1994 campaign ended in disaster, with an early own goal by defender Andrés Escobar, an exit at the end of the group stages, and the subsequent murder of Escobar outside a Colombia nightclub.

AFP – Getty

Colombian defender Andrés Escobar scored an own goal against the US in the 1994 World Cup[/caption]

Rex Features

He was later shot by a drug cartel thought to have lost money betting on the game[/caption]

The events surrounding Escobar’s death still have a lasting presence for the country, with many of the conditions that led to it persisting today.

Despite recent reductions in its homicide rate, an ongoing and pervasive civil war has meant crime in Colombia has thrived for decades.

The country still regularly ranks as the world’s largest producer of cocaine, while its drug lords have at different points ranked among the richest men in the world.

Escobar’s own goal came in a 2-1 loss to the US, and it is thought that members of a powerful drug cartel had large amounts of money riding on the game.

The team’s failure caused a backlash at home, but Escobar ignored friends who told him to lie low until it had died down, saying: “I must show my face to my people.”

Five days after the early exit, he was murdered while sitting in his car outside a nightclub in the Colombian city of Medellín.

He was shot six times, and it was later reported that his killers shouted “Goal!” with each shot, one for each time the match’s commentator had shouted the word as the goal was broadcast.

Humberto Castro Muñoz, a bodyguard for the drug barons thought to have lost money, was arrested the next day and confessed to the murder.

An estimated 120,000 people attended Escobar’s funeral, and the anniversary of his death is still marked at matches in Colombia each year.

Carlos Sanchez, right, received death threats after being sent off during Colombia’s opening game of the 2018 World Cup
Reuters

CRIME IN COLOMBIA

Since the mid-1960s, the so-called Colombian Conflict has raged between the government of Colombia, crime syndicates, and paramilitary groups.

Much of the conflict has been fuelled by the trade in drugs, a market in which organised crime has been able to thrive, with the civilian population often caught in the crossfire.

In 1995, Colombia’s death by homocide rate was 69.7 per 100,000 people, compared to 1.5 per 100,000 in the UK.

Throughout the late 1980s and early 1990s, Pablo Escobar, Colombia’s most infamous drug lords, was one of the richest men in the world.

It is estimated that at his height, his organisation supplied 80 per cent of the cocaine smuggled into the United States, generating him over $21bn of personal income a year.

The Conflict also allowed criminals to act with relative impugnity.

An investigation in 1994 found that only 3 percent of crimes committed in Colombia ever reach a judicial verdict, equating to just two verdicts per month for the entire country.

More recently, a series of anti-narcotics operations succeeded in reducing cocaine production, but in 2017 it rebounded to an all-time high.

Efforts to end the Conflict in recent years have produced tentative agreements between the government and rebel groups.

A ceasefire deal was rejected by national referendum in 2016, but Juan Manuel Santos was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for the progress his government had made towards an end to the civil war.

Three years ago, death threats were sent to midfielder Carlos Sanchez after he was sent off against Japan just three minutes into Colombia’s first game of the 2018 World Cup.

The threats led Escobar’s brother Santiago, a former footballer himself and now manager of Ecuadorian side Universidad Catolica, to speak out.

“As a brother who has gone through this, I know what must be going through their [Sanchez’s family’s] heads, and I wouldn’t want anyone to go through that,” he said.

“Carlos must be feeling both sad for the mistake he made, and very afraid, and his family too.

“My brother never received any threats, they just shot him dead in the most cowardly way.”

Many of the threats against Sanchez were made on social media.

One Twitter user posted a picture of Sanchez alongside a photo of Andrés with the sinister message: “I propose a dream”.

Another wrote: “If Andrés Escobar was killed for scoring an own goal, then Carlos Sanchez should be murdered.”

“The fact that people are still allowed to say these things on social network sites, even threaten him with death… shows me that nothing good came out of Andrés’s death, nothing was learned,” said Escobar.

“These people are just lowlifes who are not real Colombian football fans, who should be arrested and thrown into jail.”

The Colombian national team are currently gearing up for a the Copa America and will be desperate that any tournament heartbreak goes no further than the football pitch.

Their first game is against Ecuador on Monday.

Santiago Escobar, now a football manager, has warned the lessons of his brother’s murder have not been learned
Getty – Contributor

The anniversary of Andrés’s death is still honoured at matches in Colombia
EPA

Rex Features

His funeral was attended by 120,000 people[/caption]

 

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UFC star Nate Diaz smokes WEED at press conference just two days before fight with Leon Edwards leaving fans in shock

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NATE DIAZ stole the show at UFC 263’s pre-fight press conference in Arizona, smoking marijuana on stage in front of a raucous crowd.

The MMA legend, 36, hasn’t stepped into the cage in 19 months – since losing his BMF clash with Jorge Masvidal at UFC 244.

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Instagram / @natediaz209

Nate Diaz lit up on stage[/caption]

Instagram / @natediaz209

The MMA legend was appearing at the UFC 263 pre-fight press conference[/caption]

But despite his time away, last night’s event showed that he hasn’t lost any of his star power.

Arizona has more relaxed ruled with regards to smoking before a fight.

And Diaz took full advantage, lighting up on stage in front of a packed crowd.

Shedding some light on the situation, ESPN’s Brett Okamoto wrote on Twitter: “Nate Diaz was smoking marijuana on stage not CBD, his team tells me.

“Its his own brand, Kill_4209. Rules in Arizona allow him to smoke closer up to the fight than other states.”

One fan joked: “So that’s why the fight had to get rescheduled.. well played Nate!”

While another damningly added: “Home boy is brain dead, can’t put two sentences together but is cheered for being official ufc punching bag. Lol hilarious.”

Diaz faces Brit Leon Edwards as part of a stacked UFC 263 card in Arizona.

Getty

Diaz, 36, faces Leon Edwards on Saturday night[/caption]

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The bout will be a five-round contest, despite not being main event or co-main.

Diaz and Edwards had originally been set to meet at UFC 262, before the fight was postponed.

Following their dust-up will be a pair of highly-anticipated rematches.

Deiveson Figueiredo faces Brandon Moreno for the flyweight title, after their exhilarating draw back in December at UFC 256.

Then Israel Adesanya’s return to the middleweight division takes centre stage, as he defends his belt against Italian Marvin Vettori.

The pair last met, ironically in Arizona, in April 2018 – prior to Adesanya’s assent to champion status.

Adesanya won the three-round contest, although Vettori still bullishly believes that he beat The Last Stylebender.

Getty

Israel Adesanya returns against Marvin Vettori[/caption]

Getty

Deiveson Figueiredo lost his cool at his face-off with Brandon Moreno[/caption]

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Football betting tips TODAY: Kane and Benzema Golden Boot battle, France title, Lukaku player of tournament – Euro 2020

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AFTER more than a year of waiting, Euro 2020 is finally here.

Italy face Turkey at the Stadio Olimpico tonight as the delayed tournament finally clicks into gear, with England starting their campaign on Sunday.

Alamy

Euro 2020 kicks off on June 11 in Rome[/caption]

With the Three Lions, Wales and Scotland making it from the Home Nations, there’s a whole host of betting opportunities – and SunSport are on hand to find you the best.

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BoyleSports’ bet of the day

Group F hasn’t been christened this tournament’s Group of Death for nothing.

The reigning world champions, reigning Euro champions and 2014 World Cup winners all in together.

And let’s not forget Hungary either, who must be cursing their luck.

Germany, France and Portugal are all set to battle it out in what could be a terrific group stage, with Joachim Low’s Germans facing the French in the opener.

We’re all about value with our ante-post selections and we’re confident Deschamps side go far in this year’s tournament.

PA

Deschamps’ side won the World Cup in 2018 and are one of the favourites this summer[/caption]

Winning this group will likely evade England in the knockouts – and that will be a major incentive to win all three games and get on the right side of the draw.

Germany are a team in transition and not the force they once were, with Low’s reign coming to an end following the tournament.

Portugal meanwhile are relying on a 36-year-old Cristiano Ronaldo to drag them through.

But even CR7 isn’t a miracle worker and by far the most complete squad in the group is France.

Get them at a huge 13/10 to win Group F – a price to grab before it’s gone.

Tournament winners

Unlike five years ago at Euro 2016, there’s been no big casualties in the qualifying stages.

With all the big guns intact, expect this to be a tournament that grabs you by the throat and keeps you stuck to the sofa.

It’s tough to split the top five in the market, with France, England, Belgium, Germany and Spain the front runners.

And that’s before we even get onto Portugal, Italy and Holland.

We’re not going to deter you from a patriotic punt on England (5/1), with the Three Lions – for the most part – playing on home soil throughout.

This could prove a huge advantage as Wembley is such a fortress for Southgate‘s side, with just two defeats there since 2014.

But we feel this youthful England side is a couple of years too early to end all those years of hurt – and therefore our pick for overall winner are reigning world champions France (9/2).

The overall depth of their squad if phenomenal, with a spine of world-class players all peaking at the right time.

They are there to be shot at as the world champs, but Didier Deschamps has a wealth of talent at his disposal and has the added bonus of bringing back Karim Benzema from the cold.

Ante-post they’re a terrific price at 5/1, mainly due to having Germany and Portugal in a tricky group.

That price plummets if and when they beat a young German side in transition in their first match – so don’t miss out.

Top goalscorer

There’s a clear front-runner in the market here – and Harry Kane deserves to be.

The 2018 World Cup Golden Boot winner was the top scorer in this season’s Premier League with 23 goals.

In international competition, a tie in the goalscorer standings are decided by the amount of assists a player has.

And that’s why Kane is such a good bet even at a paltry looking 5/1 – he’s a playmaker as well as a marksman, bagging the most assists in the Prem this campaign.

If you’re looking for longer value, France’s returning veteran Benzema is a terrific bet at 16/1.

Back on the international scene for the first time in five years, the Madrid forward finished second to Messi in the LaLiga scoring charts this season.

France are sure to go far and Benzema will line-up alongside Kylian Mbappe and Antoine Griezmann. Terrifying.

For Madrid this term, he’s scored two or more on seven occasions and despite his advancing age continues to dominate defences.

Player of the tournament

Is this tournament finally the time for Belgium to fulfill their potential?

Beaten semi-finalists in the World Cup three years ago, the Red Devils have the market leader for player of the tournament in their ranks.

Value is the name of the game and we expect Belgium to cruise through the group stages with only Russia, Finland and Denmark in their way.

And they will look to former Man Utd and Chelsea forward Romelu Lukaku for goals.

The 28-year-old striker has been a revelation for Inter Milan since heading to Italy, netting over 60 times in two seasons.

At a whopping 20/1, he’s a real value bet in this market.

Belgium scored 40 in just ten qualifying matches in the run-up to this tournament, including putting four past Russia in November.

Reuters

Lukaku has been in sensational form and can take that into Euro 2020[/caption]

Lukaku netted seven goals altogether in those 10 matches, as well as laying on three assists.

In the form he’s been in domestically and for his country this term, 33/1 is a price we’re taking all day long.

Highest scoring team

There’s attacking talent all over the pitch for Belgium and we’re more than happy for you to have a play on them to be the highest scoring team at 5/1.

But we’re going to be siding with France again here.

Their attacking options are phenomenal and 11/2 on them being top scorers looks long – especially as we’re backing them to go all the way to the final and lift the trophy.

Deschamps men plundered 25 goals in 10 qualifying games, taking their foot off the gas in the later rounds.

AFP or licensors

France are blessed with a frightening array of attacking talent[/caption]

With Giroud, Benzema, Coman, Lemar, Dembele, Ben Yedder, Griezmann and Mbappe all vying for spots, there’s goals galore in this team.

Go with head over heart and choose them over England to be top scorers this summer. No brainer.

To reach semi-finals

So, who does a Wales this time round?

It was a valiant run to the last-four by the Welsh five years ago in France, with Hal Robson-Kanu’s goal against Belgium one of the standout moments of a terrific summer.

You can get 12/1 on the Dragons repeating the trick this time round, but we’re not overly convinced despite Gareth Bale’s recent upturn in form.

As a viable outsider – but still at a good price – we reckon Denmark could be the surprise side of the summer.

Reuters

Kasper Schmeichel’s Denmark side could be a good bet to go far this summer[/caption]

The Danes look a real team under Kasper Hjulmand, beating England at Wembley in the last year and staying in Group A of the Nations League.

Alongside Belgium, Russia and Finland in Group B, they have a terrific change of getting through to the knockouts.

And they will have a big advantage in those games, playing in front of a home crowd in Copenhagen.

The way the group system falls, Denmark could finish second and come up against Wales in the last-16.

Their route to the quarter-finals doesn’t look as tough as some, making them the value tip of the tournament to squeeze their way into the last-four.

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