Simeone on struggling Suarez: 'I have spoken to him for two months'

By Sports Desk January 18, 2022

Diego Simeone has opened up about conversations with Luis Suarez as Atletico Madrid attempt to get the former Barcelona striker back to form.

The Uruguay international is Atletico's top scorer in all competitions this season, albeit with just nine goals from 27 appearances.

The 34-year-old, whose contract at Wanda Metropolitano expires at the end of the campaign, has only found the net once in his last 11 club matches.

Suarez's frustration was evident when he was substituted during last month's defeat at Sevilla, with the former Liverpool striker appearing to direct expletives towards coach Simeone.

With the striker's sharp shooting deserting him and his future uncertain, the Atleti boss said there have been discussions between the pair in recent times.

Ahead of Atletico's Copa del Rey clash with Real Sociedad on Wednesday, Simeone said: "We have spoken with Luis for two months about what I think of him, of how important he is for us.

"What I think of him, he knows it and I didn't speak to him after Sevilla, I have spoken to him for two months."

 

Suarez has scored 30 goals across all competitions since his September 2020 transfer from Barcelona – more than any other Atletico team-mate. Karim Benzema (54) and Gerard Moreno (41) are the only players currently based in Spain to have scored more often during that time.

Additionally, only Messi (231) betters Suarez's tally of 175 LaLiga goals since the Uruguayan joined Barcelona from Liverpool in July 2014.

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    LaLiga has demanded an investigation into how Paris Saint-Germain have been able to fund a blockbuster new contract for Kylian Mbappe.

    The Spanish league body, headed by president Javier Tebas, said it would ask UEFA and authorities in France and at the European Union to investigate the financial affairs of the Ligue 1 champions.

    Mbappe's new deal was confirmed on Saturday just before PSG's final Ligue 1 match of the season against Metz

    The World Cup winner has signed a deal until 2025, turning down an offer from Real Madrid. It can be reasonably assumed the 23-year-old has penned one of the most lucrative deals in the sport's history.

    PSG have been able to attract the likes of Neymar, Lionel Messi and Sergio Ramos away from LaLiga clubs, and Tebas said in a Twitter comment that the French club's president Nasser Al-Khelaifi had become "as dangerous as the Super League".

    LaLiga later issued a statement that made savage comments about PSG's business model.

    It said a deal such as the agreement with Mbappe "threatens the economic sustainability of European football, putting hundreds of thousands of jobs and sporting integrity at risk in the medium term, not only from European competitions, but also from our domestic leagues".

    The statement added: "It is scandalous that a club like PSG, which last season lost more than 220million euros, after having accumulated losses of 700million euros in recent seasons ... with a cost of sports staff of around 650million for this 21-22 season, can reach an agreement of these characteristics while those clubs that could accept the arrival of the player without seeing their wage bill compromised, are left without being able to sign him.

    "For all of the above, LaLiga is going to file a complaint against PSG before UEFA, the administrative and tax authorities in France and before the competent bodies of the European Union, to continue defending the economic ecosystem of European football and its sustainability."

    PSG have previously denied breaching financial fair play rules.

    LaLiga's statement also directly attacked Al-Khelaifi, saying it hoped that "he would refrain from carrying out these practices knowing the serious damage they cause", given he holds down senior administrative roles in European football.

    "This type of behaviour led by Nasser Al-Khelaifi... is a danger to European football at the same level as the Super League," the Spanish league's statement said.

    It added that PSG's spending "undoubtedly implies non-compliance with the current economic control regulations not only of UEFA, but of French football itself".

    Al-Khelaifi has been president at PSG since October 2011, with Qatar Sports Investments orchestrating dramatic change at the French club, bringing a host of global superstars to the Parc des Princes.

    Manchester City, under Abu Dhabi-led ownership, are another club who have spent heavily and achieved a level of success in recent years that had been unprecedented in their history. Newcastle United, meanwhile, are now majority owned by Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund.

    LaLiga said of PSG's spending: "These behaviours denote even more that the state clubs do not respect or want to respect the rules of an economic sector as important as football, key to the sustainability of hundreds of thousands of jobs."

  • Mbappe stays at PSG: Real Madrid reeling but still have options to net a superstar striker Mbappe stays at PSG: Real Madrid reeling but still have options to net a superstar striker

    Real Madrid will have been left shaken by Kylian Mbappe's decision to snub them in favour of a new contract at Paris Saint-Germain.

    It was common knowledge that Madrid wanted to bring in Mbappe and shape their team around the France striker for the next decade.

    The Spanish champions have been used to getting what they want, but this time they have failed to land their number one target, with PSG's financial muscle surely a major factor.

    Now Madrid president Florentino Perez must consider the club's next course of action. Do they rely on Karim Benzema and Vinicius Junior next season, or has there been a back-up plan in case Mbappe reached this decision?

    Here, Stats Perform looks at players that Madrid could consider if they remain intent on bringing in a forward in the close season.

    Richarlison (Everton/Brazil)

    After five years spent fumbling around mid-table and the lower reaches of the Premier League with Watford and latterly Everton, Richarlison seems long overdue a move to a club where he might challenge for honours. The 25-year-old has previously been linked with Madrid and Barcelona, and more recently Manchester United, and he would bring a roving threat to any side he joins. Capable of playing wide or in the centre, or flitting between roles, Richarlison has reached double figures in Premier League goals in three of his four seasons with Everton, and in a World Cup year this could be the ideal time to move for the striker. Should he dazzle at Qatar 2022, that price tag could go skywards.

    Neymar (Paris Saint-Germain/Brazil)

    PSG were desperate to retain Mbappe, but would they feel the same way about Neymar? Five years into his PSG career, Neymar is now 30 years old and this is the first season when he has managed more than 20 league appearances for the Parisians. Injuries have disrupted his stay at the Parc des Princes, and while he remains a wonderfully gifted player and a joy to watch at times, if PSG want to recoup a chunk of the huge outlay that brought him to Paris from Barcelona, now might be the time for that. It would be an impudent approach for Madrid to make, and Neymar's Barcelona history adds a further complication, given the rivalry, but the player himself may be tempted.

    Robert Lewandowski (Bayern Munich/Poland)

    If Madrid have a statement signing in mind to ease the pain of missing Mbappe, then joining the race for Lewandowski and gazumping Barcelona would be one way of going about that. Lewandowski has told Bayern he wants to leave, and ideally before next season. Barcelona are certainly interested, but their financial problems are well known. Could Madrid be better placed to land the highest scorer from Europe's top five leagues this season? Lewandowski hit 50 goals in 46 games across all competitions for Bayern, with Madrid's Benzema second on the list and Mbappe third. Whether Madrid would want a player who turns 34 in August when they already have a 34-year-old frontman in Benzema is a moot point.

    Paulo Dybala (Juventus/Argentina)

    Mbappe would have arrived in Madrid on a free transfer, given his contract at PSG was coming to an end. If their priority is to pick up a forward without an initial transfer fee outlay, then Dybala becomes an option. Roma and a host of Premier League clubs have been linked with the Argentina international, whose Juventus contract is expiring. He has scored at least 15 goals in five of his seven seasons with Juve, and would bring a creative presence to Madrid, and bundles of trophy-winning experience.

    Christopher Nkunku (RB Leipzig/France)

    If Madrid cannot have Mbappe for now, then his and Benzema's France team-mate Nkunku looks like a strong alternative option. With 34 goals in 51 games for Leipzig this season (prior to Saturday's DFB-Pokal final), Nkunku has proven himself in Germany and in European competition, and the obvious next step is a move to a super-club. The 24-year-old PSG academy graduate pipped the likes of Lewandowski and Erling Haaland to be named the Bundesliga's player of the year, underlining his status as a growing force in the game.

    Mohamed Salah (Liverpool/Egypt)

    Would they want Salah, or would they prefer his team-mate Sadio Mane? Either way, a Madrid approach could be Liverpool's worst nightmare. Both Salah and Mane have contracts that run to the end of next season, and they have again been tearing it up this term for the quadruple-hunting Reds. They are hot property and are coming to the point where they are considering probably the last bumper contracts of their careers. Would they fit in at Madrid? Both have the flair and finishing class that suggest they would be ideal acquisitions, and Madrid will get a close-up look in the Champions League final.

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    The 23-year-old had widely been expected to join Real Madrid as a free agent, but it was confirmed on Saturday that the France forward has signed a new three-year contract with PSG.

    Mbappe joined the Ligue 1 champions from Monaco, initially on loan, in 2017 and has become the capital club's leading light, despite playing alongside Neymar and, as of the 2021-22 season, Lionel Messi.

    PSG were desperate to keep hold of the World Cup winner and have now got their wish.

    Here, Stats Perform breaks down the key numbers and records behind Mbappe's PSG career to date.

    The headline numbers

    217 - As he featured in PSG's starting XI against Metz, he has now made 217 appearances so far, more than any other player in the period since he joined the club. Of those appearances, 190 have been starts.

    168 - Before the Metz game, the forward had scored an incredible 168 goals for PSG, 72 more than Neymar, who was second on the list since Mbappe made his PSG bow.

    77 - Prior to the Metz game, he was also the leading assister since he joined PSG, creating 77 goals. 

    775 - As expected, he also topped the PSG squad for shots, having had 775, with 398 of those hitting the target. Magnifique.

    42 - No player had contributed to more goals across Europe's top five leagues this season heading into Saturday's match than Mbappe, who has been involved in 42.

    The records

    15 - This season, Mbappe became the first player to score at least 15 goals and provide at least 15 assists in a single Ligue 1 campaign since Eden Hazard did so for Lille in the 2011-12 campaign.

    100 - When he scored against Lyon in March 2021, Mbappe became the youngest player to rack up 100 goals in Ligue 1, at the age of 22 years and 91 days. He is also the youngest player to net a century of goals in the top five European Leagues in the 21st century.

    2 - Mbappe is already the second-highest Ligue 1 scorer since the turn of the century, having scored 132 times in the competition before Saturday's game. Only PSG great Edinson Cavani, with 138, has netted more.

    1 - He is hoping to become the first player to finish as the highest goalscorer and the leading assist provider in the same Ligue 1 season since Opta began collecting such data in 2008.

    8 - Ever consistent, Mbappe had scored at least one goal and delivered at least one assist in eight different Ligue 1 games this season, the highest tally of his career in the same top-flight campaign, prior to the final match of the 2021-22 campaign.

    3 - Mbappe is aiming to be the third player to finish as the highest goalscorer in four consecutive Ligue 1 seasons, after Carlos Bianchi (four in a row with Reims and PSG) and Jean-Pierre Papin (five in a row with Marseille). 

    50 - It is not just domestically that Mbappe has thrived. Since Opta collected such data, starting in the 2003-04 season, he is the fastest and youngest player to have reached 50 goal involvements in the Champions League, doing so in 51 matches, by the age of 22 years and 352 days.

    32 - As of kick-off against Metz, Mbappe was 32 goals shy of matching Cavani's club record of 200 for PSG.

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