All the top stories and transfer rumours from Thursday’s newspapers…
Arsenal are considering a £75m move for Moises Caicedo and could once again go head-to-head with Chelsea in the transfer market as the race intensifies for the Brighton midfielder.
Newcastle United will end their interest in Anthony Gordon and leave the winger trapped at Everton if their Premier League rivals do not lower their £60m asking price.
Everton are looking at the former Stoke City and West Ham United striker Marko Arnautovic as a possible emergency January signing as they face up to the battle to stay in the Premier League.
Chelsea are prepared to compete with Liverpool for Wolves’ Matheus Nunes when they step up their pursuit of midfielders in the summer.
Chelsea would prefer to offload unsettled Hakim Ziyech to Roma rather than a rival Premier League club.
AC Milan are among several clubs monitoring Joao Cancelo’s situation at Manchester City.
Newcastle have reportedly launched a third bid for Flamengo wonderkid Matheus Franca.
AC Milan are preparing a loan move for out of favour Newcastle star Allan Saint-Maximin, according to reports.
Aston Villa are considering whether to submit a formal bid for Luiz Henrique after enquiring about the Real Betis attacker.
Everton are not giving up on their plan to appoint Marcelo Bielsa as their new manager but face the prospect of paying at least £11m a year to land their No 1 target.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is interesting Brighton but any deal could hinge on whether Liverpool are prepared to let the midfielder leave for nothing this month.
Eight illegal gamblers, including two from England, have been kicked out of Twenty20 matches in South Africa during the first two weeks of the SA20 competition amidst concerns over corruption.
Sporting Lisbon have enquired about the possibility of signing Brighton & Hove Albion’s Tariq Lamptey on loan.
Chelsea have stepped up their interest in the Everton midfielder Amadou Onana as a possible alternative to Enzo Fernández and Moisés Caicedo.
Steph Houghton has emerged as the leading candidate to become the first chairwoman in the PFA’s 116-year history.
Sean Dyche has re-emerged as the favourite to take over at Goodison Park as doubts over Marcelo Bielsa’s enthusiasm for the job increased.
Juventus’ off-field problems are stacking up after fresh claims in Italy that more than 20 players, including Cristiano Ronaldo, were paid €90m (£79.5m) in deferred wages off book.
Brighton and Hove Albion have had an offer rejected for RB Leipzig midfielder Amadou Haidara.
One bookmaker has already paid out on Arsenal to win the Premier League – with one supporter taking home a cool £14,000.
Barcelona are reportedly in talks to sign Marco Asensio from bitter rivals Real Madrid.
Rangers striker Alfredo Morelos has reportedly been “offered” to Inter Milan as the striker’s agent Alejandro Camano looks to seal a pre-contract agreement.
THE SCOTTISH SUN
Galatasaray are plotting a shock move for Rangers comeback star Ianis Hagi and the president of his famous father Gheorghe Hagi’s club in Romania hopes they will complete a deal this month.
Kevin Nisbet could beat Ryan Porteous out of the exit door at Hibs.
‘Visit Saudi’ sponsorship is tone-deaf ahead of Women’s World Cup
The Women’s World Cup is nearing, and as is tradition, FIFA marked the occasion with controversy. Host countries Australia and New Zealand are urging the soccer federation to back out of its sponsorship with Visit Saudi. The main issue with the deal is Saudi Arabia’s ever-present, awful record of women’s rights violations.
A letter authored by representatives Chris Nikou of Australia and New Zealand’s Joanna Wood was sent to FIFA on Wednesday, voicing concerns about how such a sponsor could “severely tarnish the reputation” of the tournament.
“We write to express our serious disappointment and concern at the news of the apparent appointment of Visit Saudi as a sponsor.
“We cannot express strongly enough the potential repercussions and fallout that could result of this decision.
“Australia and New Zealand, both as sovereign nations and as football associations, have for decades placed the utmost importance on gender equality, and have sought to promote these ideals around the world.”
Incidentally, Visit Saudi also was a sponsor at the men’s World Cup late last year, and I guess we missed that with the flood of human rights stories that plagued host country Qatar. (While I do remember the Visit Qatar ads during that tournament, I would not be surprised if this is one of a number of gross stories that went overlooked or unreported.)
It’s nothing new for the Saudis to attempt to improve their reputation via sportswashing. They literally have half the world’s golfers on retainer for the divisive LIV Golf League. However, I’m not falling for the bullshit, and clearly neither are the Aussies or the Kiwis.
The USWNT is more or less deified in the states because of how good they are on and off the pitch, so don’t be surprised if any number of players speak out about this or a bunch of other shit that FIFA will inevitably screw up as we close in on the Women’s World Cup.
Damar Hamlin conspiracy theorists keep moving goalposts
Do you really believe there are two Damar Hamlins? Conspiracy theorists continue to move the goalposts in typical conspiracy theorist fashion. I’m apprehensive to even talk about this stuff because I don’t want to further spread any disinformation, but this is a great example of their way of thinking — any information that contradicts what these people believe becomes evidence that they’re somehow right — and why it’s so dangerous. And as you’ll see, the people claiming this stuff — as well as anything related to QAnon and the COVID-19 vaccine — have a much bigger platform than me, anyway.
If you somehow missed what happened to Hamlin, the Bills’ safety suffered cardiac arrest on the field during their game against the Bengals on Jan. 2 and was given CPR for several minutes. Hamlin was rushed to the hospital in critical condition where his condition improved over several days.
He was eventually discharged from the hospital, returned home to Buffalo, and was even in attendance at their playoff game against those same Bengals on Jan. 22.
People are blaming the vaccine
Of course any time someone suffers a medical emergency these days, anti-vaxxers are waiting in the wings to blame it on the COVID-19 vaccine without any evidence. Hamlin didn’t speak publicly for a couple of weeks after his hospitalization, leading some to speculate that he had actually died — due to being vaccinated — and that some corporate entity was faking…him.
As the theory goes for some prominent right-wing public figures as well as random Twitter trolls: How can we be sure that was really Damar Hamlin at the game? How do we know that Hamlin wasn’t actually killed by the vaccine, and our corporate overlords are trying to make it seem like everything’s fine?
Notice I phrased my theory as a question, as that’s what many of them do. They’re not making outlandish and easily disprovable claims; they’re just asking questions. Though there are plenty of more brazen, unapologetic theorists who will make claims outright, like Emerald Robinson, a former White House correspondent for Newsmax.
There’s also Aubrey Huff, a guy who loves to refer to himself as a two-time World Series champion, even though he contributed to the Giants’ 2012 title about as much as I did.
If only Huff felt as strongly about punctuation as vaccines.
These people assume the endgame is that Pfizer is going to use a fake Hamlin for the rest of his natural life to stave off suspicions of the vaccine, and hope that none of his family, friends, or teammates (including vocal anti-vaxxer Cole Beasley) ever become suspicious. Air-tight logic.
Although he was at the Bills’ playoff game a week ago, these dumbasses still didn’t believe it because he couldn’t get a good enough look at his face. “Why was he covering up his face?” Probably because it was cold and snowy. Did Pfizer make it snow too in order to obstruct the cameras’ views?
That same account claimed that all Hamlin had to put an end to the theories was to make a video saying he was OK. Also, way to be extra shitty and try to make him feel guilty because people donated to his charity. Here’s the thing about donating: If you’re expecting something in return, then it’s not really donating.
Well, now he has. That’s it, right?
Peters said, “All Damar Hamlin has to do is get on social media, cut a video, and put an end to the speculation.” But no, it still wasn’t good enough for these goons. Hamlin making a video clearly showing his face and saying that he’s grateful for the support is apparently not enough evidence that he’s okay. After that happened, he tweeted this:
And this is a prime example of how conspiracy theorists think. A video of Hamlin alive and well now becomes evidence that they were right all along. Now they’re questioning why he didn’t make one sooner, if he’s being forced to say those things, and if he’s a clone. (Hamlin clapped back regarding that last one.)
Why doesn’t he have tattoos on his right arm like before? The answer is he does. There’s bad lighting but if you squint even a little you can see the tattoos. I guess in their minds, the entity responsible is advanced and powerful enough to clone a full-grown man in several days but lax enough on the details to forget about a tattoo. Why is his forearm smaller? I don’t know. Maybe being in a medically-induced coma for several days isn’t the greatest workout plan.
For the people who don’t think the video proves that Hamlin is alive, they want him to appear at a press conference. Why should he? You’re just going to keep coming up with new theories. How could one convince people that you’re yourself and not a clone if they’ve already made up their minds that that’s the case? Of course, the reason that Hamlin doesn’t go out of his way to try and prove these people wrong is that he probably doesn’t care. He may not even know these theories are out there because he’s busy living his life.
The question for prominent right-wing personalities like these is whether they actually believe the bile they’re spewing, or if it’s just part of the grift. Is Peters actually that stupid or is he claiming these things because he’s built an audience of easily tricked people and is giving them more reason to listen to his radio show? I have no idea. I’m just asking the questions.
The Hundred: Welsh Fire name Mike Hussey head coach of men’s team | Cricket News
Australian Mike Hussey has been confirmed as the new head coach of the Welsh Fire men’s team ahead of the third year of The Hundred.
Hussey played over 300 times for his country, and has extensive experience of white-ball leagues around the globe as both a player and a coach. Most recently, Hussey was part of the England men’s team’s coaching staff in their successful ICC T20 World Cup campaign.
He arrives into the role ahead of Deadline Day, and The Hundred Draft, in which his team will have first pick.
Hussey, known within the game as ‘Mr Cricket’, said: “I’m really looking forward to getting started at Welsh Fire and being part of The Hundred.
“From a distance it looks a fantastic competition to be involved in, one that’s attracting big crowds and getting lots of kids interested in the game.
“For my part, hopefully I can get help get things moving in the right direction on the pitch in Cardiff and give all of those fans who’ve been coming to watch something to really get excited about.”
Mark Wallace, cricket manager of Welsh Fire, said: “We’re thrilled to be able to appoint someone of the calibre of Mike. There are few better people around the world with the relevant expertise and knowledge of white-ball cricket to help take us forward.
“It’s really exciting to have him on board, and we look forward to working together to hopefully bring some on-field success to the team and our fans.”
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