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Cesc Fabregas hits back at Neil Warnock over “lucky” Cesar Azpilicueta criticism



Cesc Fabregas has jumped to Cesar Azpilicueta’s defence after veteran manager Neil Warnock said the Chelsea captain had been “fortunate” to win so many trophies with the club.

Azpilicueta helped Thomas Tuchel’s side add to their trophy collection by beating Palmeiras 2-1 to win the Club World Cup on Saturday.

The 32-year-old is widely regarded as a club legend at Chelsea, for whom he has made 459 appearances since joining from Marseille for around £7million in 2012.

He has now won two Premier League titles, the Champions League, the FA Cup, the League Cup, two Europa League titles, the Club World Cup, and the UEFA Super Cup in 10 seasons with the club.

Azpilicueta, who has captained the Blues since 2019, is out of contract with Chelsea in July and has been linked with a move to Barcelona on a free transfer.

The Spanish international has unselfishly played right across the defence for Chelsea during his time at the club, but Warnock has dismissed his credentials.

“I think it goes two ways to be honest. I think Azpilicueta has been a very fortunate lad to be at a club like Chelsea,” the 73-year-old manager said on talkSPORT.

“I don’t think he is a great defender. Sometimes in football you need a bit of luck and I think he’s had a bit of luck at the right time and in the right place.

“That’s what you need in football, you need a bit of luck to be successful.”

Warnock’s controversial take has been rubbished by former Chelsea midfielder Fabregas, who has played alongside Azpilicueta for club and country.

Replying to the clip on Twitter, Fabregas simply posted three emojis : a face-palm, monkey covering its eyes and a confused face.

Azpilicueta has 36 caps for Spain and recently passed 450 appearances for Chelsea, a tally which puts him seventh on the club’s list of all-time appearance-makers.

Of modern-day players, only Frank Lampard, John Terry and Petr Cech have played more often for Chelsea than the defender.

“To be on that list is a privilege and I feel really proud of that,” Azpilicueta told the club website .

“From when I started playing here, I was lucky to have the confidence of the club and every manager, and my team-mates.

“So I’ve been playing a lot and every time I wear the blue shirt I feel very proud to share all our moments with the fans.”

Like Andreas Christensen and Antonio Rudiger, Azpilicueta is out of contract in the summer, but has refused to discuss his future.

“I will not talk about my future,” he said firmly during the press conference.

“Of course, I arrived in the summer of 2012 and I had no children. My children were born in London and you know how I feel about Chelsea, but I won’t comment on my future.”


Rio Ferdinand issues major warning about Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag




Former centre-back Rio Ferdinand believes it is still too early to judge whether Erik ten Hag is the right man to lead Manchester United back to the top, despite their unquestionable improvement under him this season.

United head into tomorrow’s Manchester derby against City at Old Trafford with the knowledge that a win will lift them to within a point and place of their neighbours in the Premier League table.

The Reds have lost just one of their last 18 matches since being battered 6-3 by City back in October, featuring a current run of eight wins on the bounce.

The Reds, such is the level of progress they have made under Ten Hag this season, are now considered as one of the favourites to qualify for the Champions League for next season.

They have made significant strides in a relatively short space of time and victories over the likes of Arsenal, Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur already this season have proven that they are capable of competing in the upper echelons of the table again.

However, despite heading into the second half of the campaign with form in their sails, Ferdinand insists the jury is still out on Ten Hag, despite him reaching 20 wins as United manager quick than any of his predecessors.

“I think it’s too early to say,” said Ferdinand to the Mirror. “We’ve been here with previous managers when it looks like we are onto something.

“We’ve got to be patient and give the man time. I think all the signs are very positive at the moment. He’s come in and seen what is happening, assessed how things are, looked at individuals and looked at the shape of the team.

“These were a bunch of players that were quite low. They were shot to pieces and he’s had to build, not only footballers, but men back up again. He’s had to build a lot of human beings back up and that takes time.

“The fact he’s now talking about qualifying for the Champions League so positively, he can sense a confidence coming back into this team. There’s a consistency of performance from the team that wasn’t there before and the signals and signs are all very promising.

“But they’re still not where they want to be. City are way ahead of where United are. The distance is a bit closer, but it’s still not anywhere near where we want it to be. There’s still work to be done.”

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Manchester United takeover bids ‘expected imminently’ with serious interest in Club




Manchester United are expecting takeover offers from across the world as they are set to invite bids ahead of ‘mid-February deadline’.

The Telegraph have reported that the club have received ‘serious interest’ from consortiums based in the Middle East, Asia and the United States.

British billionaire Sir Jim Ratcliffe is also weighing up an offer, as the Glazers hope to the sell one of the biggest clubs in the world for over £5billion.

The report also adds that parties who had been interested in taking over Chelsea, before Todd Boehly’s £4.25bn takeover, are set to return with approaches for the Red Devils.

It’s expected that potential investors will go public with their attempts to buy United in the coming weeks with the clock ‘now ticking on a deal’.

Senior United figures will issue a mid February deadline for formal offers in order to help get get the takeover completed before the end of the season.

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Confirmed: Chelsea ready to make late bid to hijack another Arsenal transfer




Chelsea will make a late attempt to scupper Arsenal’s hopes of finally signing Mikhailo Mudryk from Shakhtar Donetsk.

The Gunners have submitted their third bid for the Ukraine international winger and hope an offer of £62m before add-ons, which take the deal closer to £70m, will be enough to break the deadlock between the two clubs.

Chelsea’s interest in the 21-year-old winger was earlier this week described only as ‘exploratory’ but ESPN now claim that Todd Boehly will test the waters and attempt to throw a spanner in the works for the Premier League leaders.

Shakhtar’s technical director Darijo Srna was pictured at Stamford Bridge last week as he watched Chelsea’s defeat against Manchester City and Boehly would have little issue with meeting an asking price which is closer to £88million.

Arsenal are said to be confident that their latest bid for Mudryk will be enough to finally secure the services of their No.1 January target, but have already been beaten to the punch once this month by their west London rivals.

Chelsea won the race to sign Joao Felix on loan from Atletico Madrid amid competition from Arsenal and Manchester United, but the Portugal international’s promising debut ended in devastating fashion when he was sent off just shy of the hour mark for a dangerous challenge on Fulham’s Kenny Tete.

Felix will now miss the next three games through suspension as the problems mount for Chelsea’s under-fire manager Graham Potter.

‘It sums up where we are at the moment – everything that can go wrong, is going wrong,’ Potter said after Chelsea’s 2-1 west London derby defeat.

‘It was a forward’s tackle from Joao, there was no malice in it but I understand why it was a red. It is another blow the hits keep coming at the moment.

‘He was really good you could see his quality in the game so it is doubly disappointing for us because he was looking dangerous throughout.

‘I don’t think there was too much malice in it and it is an unfortunate action and we are going to lose him now for three games.’

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