Cristiano Ronaldo was not included in Al Nassr’s squad for Friday’s Saudi Professional League match against Al Tai, amid media reports that the Portugal forward was going to make his debut despite having a two-match suspension.
The 37-year-old will miss his first two domestic games for the Saudi Arabian club after being suspended by England’s Football Association (FA) for knocking a phone out of a fan’s hand after Manchester United’s defeat at Everton in April.
According to FIFA’s Regulations on the Status and Transfer of Players (RSTP), any sanction of up to four matches that has been issued to a player by their former association must be “enforced by the new association.”
The game against Al Tai was originally scheduled for Thursday but was postponed by 24 hours due to heavy rain and weather conditions impacting the stadium’s electricity.
Bayern’s Mazraoui suffers heart complications due to COVID
Bayern Munich full back Noussair Mazraoui will be sidelined after suffering from heart complications due to COVID-19 during his post-World Cup vacation, the Bundesliga club said on Friday.
The 25-year-old tested positive during the World Cup in Qatar, which forced him to miss Morocco’s 1-0 quarter-final victory over Portugal.
“During a follow-up examination… Mazraoui was diagnosed with a mild inflammation of the pericardium,” Bayern said in a statement without mentioning how long Mazroaui will be out.
The statement added that Mazraoui was not able to fly with the team to Doha on Friday as they prepare for the second half of the season at their training camp and will undergo regular tests to decide when he can resume training.
This is the second year in a row that the Moroccan has been ruled out due to COVID-related heart problems.
Coach Julian Nagelsmann will have to deal with the loss of another key player after Manuel Neuer (fractured tibia) and Lucas Hernandez (torn ligament) were both ruled out for the rest of the season.
Reigning champions Bayern lead the Bundesliga standings by four points and resume their campaign against RB Leipzig on Jan. 20.
Liverpool’s Van Dijk set to be sidelined for over a month: Klopp
Liverpool defender Virgil van Dijk will be sidelined for over a month due to a hamstring injury, manager Juergen Klopp said on Friday.
Netherlands captain Van Dijk was taken off at halftime in the 3-1 Premier League defeat at Brentford on Monday as part of a triple change by Klopp.
“Virgil was a surprise for us and a big blow. He didn’t feel a lot,” Klopp told reporters ahead of Liverpool’s FA Cup third-round tie at home to Wolverhampton Wanderers on Saturday.
“The diagnosis was pretty harsh. We’re talking about weeks, more than a month, but I hope it goes quick. It’s hard for him, but he has played an incredible amount of games in recent years.
“It’s the hamstring. He never had an issue with muscles before, never mentioned anything. It just now happened, it was one sprint too much.”
Van Dijk’s last lengthy layoff came in the 2020-21 season, during a period in which Liverpool’s defensive resources were depleted by injuries to Joe Gomez and Joel Matip as well as stand-ins Fabinho and Jordan Henderson.
Klopp added that Henderson, who missed Liverpool’s defeat at Brentford due to a concussion, was back in training, saying, “he did exactly what he was allowed to do yesterday, training without heading, and from today he is allowed to do everything.”
The German manager also heaped praise on Liverpool’s new signing Cody Gakpo, who is in line to make his debut against Wolves on Saturday after joining from PSV Eindhoven, backing the Dutch forward to quickly adapt to life in England.
“He’s a good footballer, good in small spaces, likes to shoot from distance, good finisher and dribbler,” Klopp said.
“Everybody who wants to know about him could know as there are a lot of videos out there about him. It is nice to see in real life, in front of you.
“He looks really promising and fit. The sessions are intense for him because they’re different. I’m very positive about him. Coming from a new league is always difficult, but we expect a positive impact.”
Prior to his move, Gakpo had been linked with other Premier League clubs, including rivals Manchester United, but Klopp said the 23-year-old’s decision to come to Anfield despite Liverpool’s position in the table spoke to his character.
Liverpool are currently sixth with 28 points from 17 games, seven points off the top four, and have a tough challenge to secure Champions League qualification for next season.
“There have been easier moments to sign for Liverpool,” Klopp said.
“This year we can’t guarantee Champions League football, but Cody never asked. He knew the decision. He can see the table. He’s a guy who doesn’t want to jump on a running train, he wants to push the train, that always helps.”
FIFA to introduce cap on fees in widespread agent rule changes
FIFA will next week introduce widespread rule changes on how soccer agents operate, including a cap on the transfer commissions they receive and the introduction of an exam, the sport’s governing body said on Friday.
Fees paid by clubs for the services of intermediaries were$622.8 million in 2022, FIFA said last month, marking a 24.3% increase in their spending on fees compared to 2021.
Following the approval of changes agreed at a FIFA Council meeting in Doha, agents can take a maximum 3% commission for any transfer above $200,000 and 5% for deals under $200,000.
Under the new regulations, which come into force on Monday, agents must also make all transactions public, allowing fans to see how much they are paid for deals.
The other major changes include the introduction of a mandatory licensing system and the prohibition of multiple representation to avoid conflicts of interest.
Those people wanting to become agents must now follow a strict process, including the need to pass a FIFA exam, and then pay an annual fee to the governing body.
“This marks a landmark step towards the establishment of a fairer and more transparent football transfer system,” FIFA said in a statement.
“The new regulations introduce basic service standards for football agents and their clients, all with the objective of reinforcing contractual stability, protecting the integrity of the transfer system and achieving greater financial transparency.”
Leading agents have voiced disapproval over the proposals in the past. Jonathan Barnett, chairman and founder of ICM Stellar Sports, who represents numerous top players, has previously threatened legal action should the rule changes come into force.
Chelsea reach agreement to sign Brazil youngster Santos
Chelsea have reached an agreement with Vasco da Gama for the transfer of Brazil Under-20 international Andrey Santos, the Brazilian club said on Friday.
The 18-year-old, considered among the brightest talents in Brazilian soccer, will become Chelsea’s third signing of the January transfer window after they also brought in David Datro Fofana from Molde FK and Benoit Badiashile from AS Monaco.
Central midfielder Santos was a key player for Vasco da Gama in Brazil’s second division last season as he scored eight goals in 33 league games, helping them secure promotion to the top flight.
Chelsea are 10th in the Premier League on 25 points after 17 games and face Manchester City away in the FA Cup on Sunday.
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