Granit Xhaka has sustained a knee injury less than three weeks before Switzerland begin their World Cup campaign against Brazil.
The Arsenal midfielder hurt his left knee during a training session on Thursday and received treatment from his national team’s medical staff.
There were reports the player was taken immediately to hospital, but the Swiss Football Association (SFV) denied that was the case.
“[Team doctor] Pierre-Etienne Fournier explained that Granit Xhaka was feeling pain on the outside of his left knee,” it confirmed in a statement.
“This issue will be examined in more detail and as soon as possible through an MRI scan. Further information will follow as soon as a more concrete diagnosis is available.”
Xhaka appears unlikely to feature in Switzerland’s friendly with Spain on Sunday or the game against Japan next Friday. His chances of facing Brazil on June 17 would also seem to be in doubt.
The news is a major blow to head coach Vladimir Petkovic, given Xhaka is a key component in his midfield plans.
He played 11 times in their World Cup qualifying campaign, including in both legs of the play-off win over Northern Ireland in November.
Real Madrid would be getting a rough deal if they ended up with Neymar as a replacement for Cristiano Ronaldo, according to their former goalkeeper Iker Casillas.
Madrid’s all-time record goalscorer threw his future in to doubt in the immediate aftermath of last Saturday’s 3-1 Champions League final win over Liverpool when he spoke of his time at the Santiago Bernabeu in the past tense.
Ronaldo partially rowed back on those statements in mixed-zone interviews in Kiev and then signed off a speech at Madrid’s trophy parade by telling supporters: “Until next year…”
Nevertheless, the fact Madrid have been persistently linked to a move for Neymar, along with the Brazilian’s club Paris Saint-Germain being one of a select few in Europe who could offer a financial package in line with Ronaldo’s demands, meant the Portuguese superstar merely fuelled existing rumours.
Speaking at an event where he was presented as an ambassador for betting company Sportium, Casillas – who is now with Portuguese champions Porto – spoke of Ronaldo in glowing terms and urged against any prospect of him leaving the Spanish capital.
“Cristiano is the best team-mate I’ve ever had,” he said. “It’s incredible what this guy is doing – he is [still] improving every day.
“It’s crazy, whatever people are saying. He is happy at Madrid and whatever has been said before he always remained at Real Madrid.
“I don’t think he will leave. Cristiano could be compared to [Alfredo] Di Stefano.
“Would I change him for Neymar? No. I wouldn’t change him for any player in the world. I understand football changes but, nowadays, Cristiano is Real Madrid.”
— #CHAMP13NS (@realmadriden) May 26, 2018
Casillas believes Neymar should avoid the turbulence of another blockbusting transfer and focus upon making good on his €222million switch from Barcelona to PSG by establishing a similarly definitive spell with his current club.
“He changed a big club like Barcelona for a new challenge in PSG. I wouldn’t understand his exit right now,” the 37-year-old said, before adding slightly mischievously, “But I do understand that everybody would love to end up playing for Real Madrid.”
Football Association (FA) chairman Martin Glenn has insisted plans to sell Wembley Stadium should not be interpreted as a “betrayal”.
The FA last month confirmed it has received a bid, reportedly worth as much as £800million, for Wembley from Shahid Khan, the billionaire owner of NFL franchise the Jacksonville Jaguars and newly promoted Premier League side Fulham.
The Pakistani-American has promised to fund major refurbishments to the national stadium, safeguard the future of England matches and attract major new events to the arena, including an increase in NFL fixtures.
Some observers have welcomed the proposal, while others are concerned about the long-term implications of the FA surrendering control of a major asset.
Glenn, in an address to the FA Council, has insisted the deal, should it go through, would equip the governing body to properly invest in the grass-roots game.
“This is an opportunity to unleash an unprecedented amount of investment into community football,” he said.
“Receiving an offer to sell Wembley Stadium is not a ‘betrayal’. It is not selling the ‘soul of the game’. Nor is it a desperate action by a desperate organisation.
“We do not need to sell, and we can and will do the things we have planned to do no matter what.
“The opportunity for the whole game is, I believe, transformational.
“This is a moment where we need to choose what the FA is for, what our priorities should be. To be for all of English football, driving improvements in every community in England at every level of the game? Or for the ownership and careful management of an elite venue?
“It’s an opportunity to make the FA a more profitable organisation year-on-year and increase investment [and] to reconnect the England team with its fans up and down the country.”
Tennis star Andy Murray is set to formalise his support for Hibernian with a new mentorship role with the Scottish Premiership club’s academy.
The development comes soon after his company, 77 Sports Management, signed Hibs teenagers Ryan Porteous and Fraser Murray as clients.
Andy Murray is a well-known fan of the Edinburgh outfit for which his grandfather Roy Erskine played as a youth.
Currently undergoing rehabilitation from a lengthy hip injury, the three-time Grand Slam winner will reportedly help shape career paths for academy prospects.
“Ever since my grandad played for Hibs in the 1950s, my family have supported the club,” Murray said in quotes reported by the Daily Record.
“We were impressed with the quality of the facilities and the people working there. It feels like a natural and authentic partnership.
“Football is a huge passion of mine and I’m looking forward to working with the club – and with Ryan and Fraser and helping them with every aspect of their careers.
“Hibs have a great youth set-up and with the team of people I have around me, we’ll be helping them in any way we can.”
Hibernian chief executive Leeann Dempster welcomed Murray’s sporting expertise.
“We are delighted to be working in partnership with a world-class sportsman like Andy and his team,” Dempster said.
“It offers our young players a chance to learn and be inspired by an elite athlete who knows exactly what it takes to perform at the highest levels possible.”
Inter head coach Luciano Spalletti admits he is powerless to stop Mauro Icardi from joining one of Europe’s most powerful clubs.
The club captain, who reportedly has a release clause of €110million, has been linked with a host of major sides following his Serie A form, including Champions League winners Real Madrid, Chelsea and Bayern Munich.
Spalletti insists the Argentina forward has not given any indication that he wants to leave, particularly with Inter having snatched a Champions League spot with a dramatic win over Lazio on the final day of Serie A this season.
However, he fears that a small number of top teams could tempt Icardi away from San Siro if they do decide to launch a bid.
“I’ve spoken with Mauro several times and he sent very precise signals,” he told Sky Sport Italia.
“He’s happy at Inter and wants to stay, but then there are clubs which, if they decide to take a player, you could have been saying ‘I won’t leave here’ the day before, then the next day they take you and in the end you’re happy to go, even though the previous day you were thinking very differently.
“We have to be ready for anything, but for now there are no signals and no doubts about what he wants.”
Icardi scored 29 goals in 34 league games in 2017-18, including an equaliser from the penalty spot in that 3-2 victory at Lazio.
— OptaPaolo (@OptaPaolo) 21 May 2018
Liverpool star Mohamed Salah suffered an apparent shoulder injury and left the field in tears inside half an hour of Saturday’s Champions League final against Real Madrid.
Salah was involved in a collision with Madrid captain Sergio Ramos after 26 minutes, falling awkwardly and nursing his shoulder.
The Egypt international received treatment before hanging back as Liverpool took a subsequent corner.
However, he despondently fell to the turf once more moments later and left the field visibly emotional.
30: We’ve been forced into an early change…
— Liverpool FC (@LFC) May 26, 2018
Salah has been a revelation on Merseyside since arriving from Roma ahead of the 2017-18 season, scoring 44 goals in all competitions, including 10 in the Champions League – only Cristiano Ronaldo has managed more in the competition.
He had been tipped to play a starring role for the Reds against Madrid in Kiev, alongside attacking colleagues Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane, with whom he has combined for 29 European goals.
However, Salah lasted less than half an hour – replaced by Adam Lallana – in a dent to Liverpool’s chances of winning a sixth continental crown.
Madrid defender Dani Carvajal left the field soon after, also in tears, the Spain right-back having seemingly suffered a repeat of a recent hamstring problem.