Real Madrid striker Karim Benzema hopes he gets the chance to play for Zinedine Zidane again – seemingly pitching the outgoing Santiago Bernabeu boss for the France national team job.
Zidane’s shock announcement came five days after Madrid beat Liverpool to win a third consecutive Champions League.
Benzema has long been championed by Zidane despite periods of barren form, the striker scoring the opening goal in freak circumstances in Kiev after a howler by Liverpool goalkeeper Loris Karius.
The 1998 World Cup winner has been touted as a future France coach by incumbent Didier Deschamps and Benzema – in international exile since 2015 – unsubtly pointed towards a possible reunion with Zidane.
“I did not have the pleasure of playing with you, brother, but I had the immense honour to have you as a coach,” Benzema wrote on Twitter.
“So, I thank you from the bottom of my heart for all that you have done for me.
“Good luck with whatever comes next for you and yours, and maybe I’ll see you soon, God-willing.”
Je n’avais pas eu le plaisir de jouer avec toi frérot mais j’ai eu l’immense honneur de t’avoir comme entraîneur alors je te remercie du fond du cœur pour tout ce que tu m’as transmis et apporté . Bonne continuation à toi et aux tiens et peut être à bientôt challah #ZZ pic.twitter.com/RXAUAub53b
— Karim Benzema (@Benzema) May 31, 2018
Deschamps extended his France contract through to 2020 but his position could be under threat should a hotly-tipped Les Bleus side underperform at the 2018 World Cup.
Former Chelsea owner Ken Bates has been criticised after saying there is “the sniff of money in the air” relating to racism allegations made against the club during his time in charge.
A total of seven former Chelsea youth players have raised legal complaints against the club for what has been described as a “racist bullying and abuse” culture allegedly led by former coaches Graham Rix and Gwyn Williams, both of whom deny the accusations.
The incidents are said to have taken place during the 1980s and 1990s when Bates was Chelsea chairman.
Bates has spoken publicly about the claims against Chelsea for the first time and suggested the alleged victims – who have remained anonymous – could have done more at the time.
Speaking on the Proper Sport Daily podcast, Bates said: “I thought: ‘How are we going to make any progress?’ These people have to reveal their identities and, without being unkind, what did they do it about at the time?
“If I’d been racially abused I would have told my dad and expected him to support me. Or I could have left the club and joined another one.
“It’s all very well to say: ‘Oh, well, I didn’t want to say anything or do anything because it might have harmed my career,’ but if you’ve got the ability there were plenty of other clubs snapping up young black kids.
“The sniff of money is in the air and I think in view of all the terrible miscarriages of justice over allegations of varied abuse – sexual, racial, et cetera – it’s time people should take a tough line.
“What bothers me about it – and obviously I’m keeping an open mind about it – I’m a bit curious where all these ancient ‘coming outs’ all these years later [have come from].
“Okay, name the people. Name the times. What was actually said? What was your response? This is trial by smear and it’s not good enough.”
Bates’ comments have seen him attract significant criticism and Dino Nocivelli, a solicitor representing some of the complainants, was scathing of the 86-year-old’s overview of the situation.
Nocivelli said in a statement released to Omnisport: “Bates’ comments are truly shameful and sadly reinforce my clients’ views that nobody at Chelsea Football Club was going to listen to them and that they simply had to suffer the abuse or leave the club.
“For far too long, they have felt they would not be believed and that the club would side with Rix and Williams, being two coaches that held extensive power at Chelsea and over their football careers.
“My clients take particular offence to Bates’ comments criticising them for failing to disclose their identities and for these ‘ancient coming outs’. The only things that my clients wanted to do as children was to play football and to achieve their dream of becoming professional footballers.
“Instead, they suffered an alleged daily nightmare of abuse at Chelsea Football Club in the 1990s. These children are now men and although it may feel ‘ancient’ to Bates, the pain and suffering that these men feel is real and continues to the current day.
“My clients want the truth to finally be exposed. Justice is long overdue.”
Earlier this month, Chelsea vowed to do all they can to investigate the allegations, saying via a spokesperson: “We take allegations of this nature extremely seriously and they will be fully investigated.
“We are absolutely determined to do the right thing to assist the authorities and any investigations they may carry out and to fully support those affected, which would include counselling for any former player that may need it.”
The Football Association has expressed its support for Raheem Sterling after he offered an “honest and heartfelt account” of his reasons for getting a tattoo of an assault rifle.
Sterling recently drew criticism from sections of the media and anti-violence campaigners for his choice to have the likeness of a weapon inked onto his right leg.
In an Instagram post published on Monday, the 23-year-old Manchester City and England player said the image was a tribute to his father, who was shot dead when Sterling was just two years old.
And the governing body appears satisfied with the forward’s explanation.
“We all support Sterling and acknowledge the honest and heartfelt account he gave,” an FA spokesperson said in a statement.
“He and the rest of the squad are focused solely on preparing for the forthcoming World Cup.”
In his Instagram post, Sterling said: “When I was two my father died from being gunned down to death.
“I made a promise to myself I would never touch a gun in my lifetime.
“I shoot with my right foot so it has a deeper meaning.”
Mohamed Salah will travel to Spain for treatment on his injured shoulder on Tuesday, according to the Egyptian Football Association.
The Liverpool star went off in tears after half an hour of his side’s 3-1 Champions League final defeat to Real Madrid, having hurt his shoulder when falling awkwardly under a challenge from Sergio Ramos on Saturday.
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp said the problem looked “really serious” and, although he was eager to wait for tests, he admitted Salah’s prospects of going to Russia were in jeopardy.
The Egyptian FA have since moved to calm fears he will miss the World Cup, claiming tests have shown the injury is not as bad as first suspected.
And on Monday they said in a statement that the 25-year-old will be accompanied by Liverpool’s medical staff to Spain to start an intensive period of rehabilitation.
Egypt’s World Cup campaign kicks off against Uruguay on June 15.
— Egypt National Football Team (@Pharaohs) May 26, 2018
Bundesliga side Hannover have signed centre-back Kevin Wimmer on loan from Stoke City for the 2018-19 season.
Wimmer joined Stoke from Tottenham for £18million last season but the defender failed to impress in 17 Premier League appearances before being frozen out of first-team affairs by then-boss Paul Lambert as the Potters headed for relegation.
The loan agreement contains an option for Hannover to complete a permanent deal for the 25-year-old Austria international.
It will be Wimmer’s second stint in Germany after he played at Cologne for three years between 2012 and 2015, earning promotion from 2.Bundesliga in the 2013-14 campaign.
Hannover secured a 13th-place finish under head coach Andre Breitenreiter this season.
— Hannover 96 (@Hannover96) May 27, 2018
Gareth Bale did not warm up with his team-mates ahead of the Champions League final against Liverpool after being left out of the starting XI.
Isco was preferred to Bale despite the Wales international having scored five goals in his last five matches.
It is the second final in a row that Bale has been left out of the side in favour of Isco, with the former Tottenham man having come off the bench as Madrid beat Juventus in his home city of Cardiff last season.
Bale, who moved to the Santiago Bernabeu in a world-record deal in 2013, has been linked with a transfer after injury troubles and patchy form have seen him struggling to cling to a place in the Madrid first team.
Manchester United and Bayern Munich have both been credited with an interest in the 28-year-old.
11 – Real Madrid have the same starting XI as in the 2016-17 Champions League final; the first time that a team has started with the same 11 players in different European Cup/Champions League finals (excl. replays). Familiar. pic.twitter.com/pVhjVQC0aP
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) May 26, 2018