My Future Is In My Agent’s Hands, Says Romelu Lukaku

Everton’s striker, who is rumoured to be being chased by Chelsea this summer, has told Sky Sports that his agent is in charge of decided his future.

The Belgian striker is enjoying a fine European Championships tournament with his country. He joined Everton from Chelsea in 2014 for a club record £28 million but is reportedly unhappy with his life at Goodison Park. In the spring he let it be known that he favours a club that can offer him Champions League football, something that the Toffees can’t do.

His agent, Mino Raiola, has spoken highly of the ‘Goodison Project’ recently, perhaps in case the 23-year-old ends up staying on Merseyside under new manager Ronald Koeman. He is quoted in Sportwereld as saying, “Everton don’t need the money anymore but Romelu wants to play for a club that can win trophies. [But] something’s changed at Everton. There’s a new project. If he leaves, it has to be a good deal for all parties”.

Raiola has suggested that only the richest clubs in Europe will be able to pay an amount of money that Everton would find acceptable. That has meant that Chelsea have become favourites, even though his old club won’t have Champions League football next season.

For the player himself the most important thing at the moment is Belgium’s progress through the Euros in France. He said, “It’s my agent who is dealing with that aspect [of my career]. I’m just focused on Belgium, and the most important thing is helping my team”.

Lukaku’s Belgian team-mate Radja Nainggolan has also been linked with a move to Stamford Bridge. Between the two of them that have scored three of Belgium’s four goals so far in the tournament. Asked about the possibility of extending his contract with Roma he said, “I said I love where I’m playing so why not?The Premier League is another good competition, but I think sometimes in life you need to make choices. I don’t know what will be my future but I just can say that where I am I’m happy”.

Lewis Baker Returning To Vitesse Arnhem On Loan

Chelsea’s Under-21 midfielder Lewis Baker is set to return to Vitesse Arnhem, the Dutch club, on loan this summer.

Baker joined Chelsea as a 9-year-old but has yet to make a senior start for the club. He did get an appearance from the substitute’s bench in an FA Cup match against Derby County in the 2013-2014 season, though.

The 21-year-old spent last season on loan at Vitesse Arnhem and made 34 appearances. He scored five goals including one that was given the club’s ‘Goal Of The Season’ award. Before heading to Holland he also enjoyed loan spells at Sheffield Wednesday and MK Dons.

Speaking about his decision to head back to the Eredivisie side Baker said, “There was interest from several other clubs last summer but, together with my family and Chelsea, I have discussed the options and we all believed that another year at Vitesse was the best option. After the season I was allowed to participate in the Toulon tournament, which was a success. I want to hold that form and take it into the next season. I want to keep developing myself and improve to hopefully play a good season. And I hope to contribute to the success of the club”.

Chelsea have a good relationship with Vitesse and Baker isn’t the only player heading back to the Dutch club for a second season. His youth team-mate Nathan will also be spending another season at the GelreDome after agreeing a loan-renewal with the side.

Mitchell Beeney Heads To Crawley Town On Loan

Chelsea’s youth goalkeeper Mitchell Beeney has agreed to head to Crawley Town on loan until the 3rd of January 2017, it has been confirmed.

The 20-year-old has yet to appear for Chelsea, though he did spend some time at Newport County on loan last season. He was on the bench for the Blues’ Premier League game with Liverpool at Stamford Bridge earlier this year, as well as during the club’s 3-1 win over Sporting Lisbon in December of 2014.

Dermot Drummy, the Head Coach at Crawley Town, worked with Beeney during his time at Chelsea’s Youth Academy. That included a period when Chelsea won the Under-21 Premier League in 2014, with Drummy as their head coach and Beeney as part of the team.

Speaking to the Reds’ official website, Drummy said, “I know Mitch well from my time at Chelsea and he is a great addition to our squad. He’s got lots of experience at under-21 level both here and overseas but he needs to get Football League experience and this is his opportunity, to fight with Yusif Mersin and of course Glenn Morris for the goalkeeper’s spot. We look forward to seeing him next week when we report back for pre-season and to him making a big contribution for us next season”.

Beeney’s career began at Gillingham in 2004 where he spent three years as part of the youth academy. He was signed by Chelsea in 2007 and joined the Under-18 squad before gaining a place in the Under-21 side. He made four appearances whilst on loan at Newport County.

Beeney is the eighth new player to arrive at Crawley Town so far this summer, with more expected.

Cesar Azpilicueta Is A Wanted Man, According To Guillem Balague

Spanish football journalist Guillem Balague believes that a whole host of top clubs throughout Europe are interested in signing Chelsea’s defender Cesar Azpilicueta.

The 26-year-old has been with the West London club since 2012 when he moved there from Marseille. Chelsea aren’t too worried about losing the player but Balague feels certain that they will play hard-ball over the fee they expect to receive for him, with Atletico Madrid, Barcelona and Bayern Munich all chasing his signature.

Speaking to Sky Sports Balague said, “Some of the top clubs in Europe are after Azpilicueta’s signature, not least because of his versatility in being able to play in both full-back positions with equal confidence”.

The Spaniard appeared 38 times for Chelsea during the last campaign, a campaign that saw the then defending Premier League champions get off to their worst start in the top-flight since the 1960s. It also saw the departure of José Mourinho from the manager’s dugout and the arrival of Dutchman Guus Hiddink on an interim basis for the second time in his career. Chelsea missed out on Champions League football, meaning that some players might be looking to move on before the start of next season.

Balague continued, “If Chelsea were willing to sell, the front runners would be Atletico Madrid, although they have recently coolled on the idea, turning their attentions instead to Croatian full-back Sime Vrsaljko, who will soon confirm that he is moving to the Spanish club. There are, however, a host of clubs and top-flight managers that would love to see the Pamplona-born defender join their ranks, not least Unai Emery who is…on the very verge of taking over from Laurent Blanc at PSG”.

Barcelona are reportedly in the market for a versatile defender, believing that they can persuade Hector Bellerin to swap The Emirates for Camp Nou. Arsenal are keen to hold on to the defender, though, meaning that Barca see Azpilicueta as a good plan B, though they’re not happy about paying the £14 million Chelsea are likely to want. Bayern Munich are also keen on him and Athletic Bilbao would also love to take him to San Mamés.

Balague doesn’t think Chelsea will let him go to another Premier League side, with their former boss Mourinho now installed at Old Trafford. The self-proclaimed ‘Special One’ knows his former defender well, but, according to Balague, “Whether or not Chelsea would be prepared to sell Azpilicueta – at any price – to the club of their former manager and to a rival in England is another matter altogether”.

Though the Blues know how much they want for him and won’t be willing to let him go for less than that, it’s unlikely that they will stop him from going if the right sort of offer comes in. Balague said, “Chelsea will…stick to their valuation primarily because they would be quite happy to see him stay at the club, although they wouldn’t stand in his way if they received an offer that they felt they couldn’t refuse”.

Hazard Won’t Be Drawn On Potential Lukaku Move

Eden Hazard has turned down the opportunity to make an official comment about the possibility of linking up with his Belgian team-mate Romelu Lukaku at Stamford Bridge next season.

In May Lukaku confessed that he was keen to leave Everton this summer in order to help progress his career. That has inevitably led to the Belgian goalscorer being linked with a move to whole host of clubs, with Chelsea high up on the list. Lukaku was on the books of the West London club before José Mourinho sanctioned his sale to Everton for £28 million, a club record for the Toffees.

The 23-year-old only made 15 appearances for Chelsea under the self-proclaimed ‘Special One’, spending most of his career on loan at West Bromwich Albion and then Everton. He has so far played 127 games for the Merseyside club, scoring 61 goals. He is contracted to Goodison Park until 2019, meaning that Everton will probably demand a large fee for his services should he choose to leave the club this summer.

Incoming boss Ronald Koeman is keen to keep hold of his best players and will be seeking talks with Lukaku after the European Championship in France. The Dutchman swapped Southampton for Everton earlier in the month. Chelsea will also be starting the season under new management, with current Italy boss Antonio Conte taking charge at Stamford Bridge after Euro 2016 has run its course.

Hazard was asked by Sky Sports whether he thought he could be lining up alongside his Belgian team-mate at the Bridge next season, but he said, “I don’t know, I don’t want to talk about this. But Romelu is a big striker, he’s a good guy and a good friend of mine. It’s always good to play with the best in the world”.

Lukaku had come under fire from members of the Belgian press for his performance in Belgium’s opening game of the tournament, a 2-0 loss against Conte’s Italy side. He bounced back in the game against the Republic of Ireland, however, scoring two of his side’s three goals against Martin O’Neil’s side in Bordeaux.

Hazard, who provided the assist for the striker’s second goal, believes that Lukaku won’t let the criticism affect him. He said, “For a striker it’s great confidence to score goals. Lukaku showed how good he is. When a striker doesn’t score, he tends to get criticism, but he can take it. He is mentally strong and I am sure he will be [the] difference for us in each game, I hope”.

Pedro Admits He’d Like To Return To Barcelona

Chelsea winger Pedro has been speaking to BeIN Sports and admitted that he’d like to return to Barcelona after what has been an indifferent season at Stamford Bridge.

The 28-year-old was a product of the Barcelona academy and enjoyed over a decade at the Nou Camp. He found he wasn’t always starting for the Catalan giants, however, and so a move to Chelsea last summer seemed an opportunity to revitalise his career.

Unfortunately things didn’t work out as planned for the Spaniard and life at Stamford Bridge was tougher than he expected. Nine goals from forty-eight appearances in all competitions is a poor return for a player of Pedro’s ability and the player found himself a victim of difficult circumstances in West London. José Mourinho, who signed him, was sacked in December after leading the club to its worst start to a top-flight campaign since the 1960s.

He told BeIN Sports, “Hopefully [I can return to Barcelona] but I know it’s hard. I have already spoken about it with the President when…[Barcelona] were in the final and spoke to all the people who want me there. It’s complicated, but I’ve always said that I would like to retire at Barcelona”.

Despite having spoken to the club’s President and admitting his desire to return to Spain, Pedro admits things might not be that simple. He continued, “I know it’s difficult because the years go by and the club has the best players in the world, it is a very demanding club and to return is complicated. But I do not rule it out either. I had been 11 or 12 years in Barcelona, my family is from there and also many friends. The fans loved me, I felt very valued around the club, and it’s always hard to leave the club of your dreams”.

It is not clear whether the Spanish international has spoken to the incoming Chelsea boss Antonio Conte about his future at Stamford Bridge. The Italian is known to favour a more defensive style of football and Pedro may feel that there is no place for him under the former Juventus manager and the current coach of the Italian national side.

Chelsea’s Fixtures For The 2016-2017 Premier League Campaign Released

The Premier League has today released the complete set of fixtures for the 2016-2017 campaign, with Chelsea beginning the season with a home game against West Ham United.

Antonio Conte, the incoming Chelsea manager, will start his new job off with two London derbies in a row, firstly at home against the Hammers before travelling to Watford the weekend after. The Italian manager’s introduction to life in England is a relatively easy one as Chelsea will play Burnley, the champions of the Championship, in their third game.

The Blues have to wait until October before they’ll be able to welcome back their former manager José Mourinho. The self-proclaimed ‘Special One’ has taken over at Manchester United and he brings the Red Devils to Stamford Bridge on the 22nd of October. That’s a week after Chelsea will have hosted the club that took their Premier League crown, Leicester City.

April sees the West London club play teams from Manchester twice, with the game against United at Old Trafford coming on the fifteenth of the month, ten days after they’ll have hosted Manchester City in the club’s only scheduled midweek home game.

Other notable fixtures include the arrival of Liverpool at Stamford Bridge on September the seventeenth, a trip to The Emirates to play Arsenal seven days later and the London derby with Tottenham at Stamford Bridge taking place on the 26th of November.

December is traditionally a busy month and Conte will be pleased at the level of opposition his team will have to go up against during the festive period. Though Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City are their opponents at the start of the month the rest of it is made up from teams that have struggled in recent seasons. West Bromwich Albion, Sunderland and Crystal Palace are all on the schedule before Christmas, whilst Bournemouth will come to Stamford Bridge on Boxing Day and Stoke City will be doing likewise on New Year’s Eve.

The London derby at White Hart Lane will be the first game of 2017, whilst a trip to Anfield is in store for the start of February. Chelsea’s season will draw to a close with a game against Sunderland on the 21st of May at Stamford Bridge. One thing to bear in mind is that all of the fixtures are susceptible to change because of TV companies and their scheduling of matches to be shown live.

Chelsea Agree To Buy Kingsmeadow Stadium

Chelsea Football Club have exchanged contracts with The Dons Trust, the owners of AFC Wimbledon, over the sale of Kingsmeadow Stadium, with the Blues hoping to use the ground for their youth team and ladies’ team fixtures.

Kingsmeadow, which is currently known as the Cherry Red Records Stadium because of sponsorship, was built in 1989 and was the home of Kingstonian Football Club until 2003 when, a year after moving into the ground to share it with Kingstonian, AFC Wimbledon bought it from them. It has a capacity of just below 5000, with 2265 seats.

There are a number of conditions that have been put in place that will need to be met before the deal can be finalised, including the fact that the Dons haven’t yet obtaining the final planning permission needed for their new home. Merton Borough Council have approved Wimbledon’s application to develop Plough Lane greyhound stadium into their new home, with those plans now being looked over by the Mayor of London.

AFC Wimbledon continued their dream of climbing up the Football League last month when they won the League Two play-off to gain promotion to League One. Their chief executive, Erik Samuelson, described the deal with Chelsea as a ‘major milestone’ in the club’s pursuit of a brighter future.

It is hoped that the funds raised from the sale of their ground to Chelsea will help them with their new ground, once all of the necessary permissions have been gained. AFC Wimbledon’s new stadium will have a capacity of around 20,000, an ambitious number considering the club averaged just over 4000 spectators at Kingsmeadow last season.

Samuelson continued, “The proceeds of this deal are an essential part of the financing of the new stadium. The vision of a return to Merton, with all the community benefits it also brings, is now becoming very real”.

Dons fans are keen for the club to return to its spiritual home of the Merton borough, especially given the fact that the club was formed as a reaction to the Football Association’s decision to allow Wimbledon FC to relocate to Milton Keynes in Buckinghamshire in 2002, 56 miles away from Wimbledon. The club dissolved in 2004 and became the MK Dons.

AFC Wimbledon have pledged to make a ‘substantial donation’ to Kingstonian once the sale of Kingsmeadow has been completed. Having bought the ground from them in 2003 they want to ensure that the K’s, who play in the Ryman League, are able to secure a future playing at another ground in or near to Kingston.

Carneiro And Chelsea Agree Settlement Over Constructive Dismissal Case

Doctor Eva Carneiro has today agreed a settlement fee with Chelsea Football Club over her constructive dismissal case against her former club, as well as agreeing to drop sex discrimination and harassment charges against the West London club’s former manager José Mourinho.

Mourinho was angered on the opening day of last season when the doctor, along with the club physio Jon Fearn, ran onto the pitch to treat the apparently injured Eden Hazard after the match referee, Michael Oliver, had requested them to do so. It meant that Chelsea were temporarily reduced to nine men, with the Thibaut Courtois having already been sent off earlier in the game against Swansea. It eventually finished 2-2.

Speaking after the match Mourinho had said, “I wasn’t happy with my medical staff because even if you are a medical doctor or secretary on the bench, you have to understand the game. My medical department left me with eight fit outfield players in a counter attack after a set piece and we were worried we didn’t have enough players left”. The reference to a ‘secretary’ was believed to be a sexist remark by many.

The incident happened in at the start of August 2015 and by September the 23rd Carneiro had decided that she was unable to return to the club to work under the Portuguese manager, instead pursuing a claim of constructive dismissal against the then defending Premier League champions as well as a personal case against the self-proclaimed ‘Special One’ over her treatment of her. This was in spite of the fact that an investigation by the Football Association had cleared Mourinho of any wrongdoing.

The tribunal proper began yesterday, with both sets of lawyers presenting their skeleton arguments for the trial. A lot of it appeared as if it would hinge on the Portuguese words Mourinho used when Carneiro ran onto the pitch, with the doctor claiming he said filha de puta’, meaning daughter of a whore, and the manager himself saying it was ‘filho de puta’, which is son of a whore and a common Portuguese expletive.

Mourinho wasn’t expected to show up at the trial until later in the proceedings, so when he arrived at the tribunal today it led some to speculate that the club might indeed be hoping to settle with Carneiro before it all began. The tribunal’s start was delayed until 2.30pm after Mourinho, Bruce Buck and Marina Granovskaia all turned up at the venue. At 2.40pm journalists were informed that there might be an update on the proceedings, but by 3pm there was still no word with confirmation of the settlement not coming out until just before 3.30pm.

Carneiro, who was born in Gibraltar and has a Spanish father and an English mother, went to Nottingham University to study medicine before spending two years at the Australasian College of Sports Physicians and then going to Queen Mary University in London to complete an MSc in Sport & Exercise.

The doctor released a statement after the settlement was confirmed that said, “I am relieved that today we have been able to conclude this tribunal case. It has been an extremely difficult and distressing time for me and my family and I now look forward to moving forward with my life. My priority has always been the health and safety of the players and fulfilling my duty of care as a doctor. In running onto the pitch to treat a player, who requested medical attention, I was following the rules of the game and fulfilling my medical responsibilities. I would like to thank everyone who has supported me including my husband, family and friends and members of the football community”.

Chelsea, meanwhile, put a statement of their own on the club’s official website. It read, “The club regrets the circumstances which led to Dr Carneiro leaving the club and apologises unreservedly to her and her family for the distress caused. We wish to place on record that in running onto the pitch Dr Carneiro was following both the rules of the game and fulfilling her responsibility to the players as a doctor, putting their safety first. Dr Carneiro has always put the interests of the club’s players first. Dr Carneiro is a highly competent and professional sports doctor. She was a valued member of the club’s medical team and we wish her every success in her future career. José Mourinho also thanks Dr Carneiro for the excellent and dedicated support she provided as First Team Doctor and he wishes her a successful career”.

The tribunal was expected to last for the best part of two weeks and it was almost certainly going to involve the revelation of potentially embarrassing statements, emails and texts sent between Chelsea’s hierarchy in the wake of the incident last August. Daniel Stilitz QC, representing Chelsea, ended any speculation over what may or may not have been revealed by telling the tribunal, “We are pleased to be able to tell the tribunal that the parties agreed a settlement on confidential terms”.

The ‘confidential terms’ part of the settlement means that we are unlikely to ever find out exactly how much Carneiro was persuaded to settle for. Yesterday, however, it was revealed that she had turned down an offer of £1.2 million in order to settle the claim. That fact, combined with the conciliatory language used in Chelsea’s statement, suggests the final settlement figure is likely to be significantly more than £1.2 million.

José Mourinho was tight-lipped when he left the tribunal, ignoring the press as he was escorted to a waiting BMW. He refused to answer as he was asked, “Are you sorry? Why didn’t you apologise?”. The Portuguese manager has been appointed as the new Manchester United manager and will now be able to focus on his new career at Old Trafford.

Former Club Doctor ‘Heard Mourinho Insult Her’

The employment tribunal into the dismissal of former Chelsea team doctor Eva Carneiro has got underway, with the doctor’s legal team claiming she heard the former manager, José Mourinho, call her a ‘daughter of a whore’.

Carneiro, who is 42-years-old, has launched a claim of unfair dismissal against the West London club as well as a claim of sex discrimination and harassment against the new Manchester United boss. The claim revolves around a moment during the Blues’ opening fixture of last season against Swansea at Stamford Bridge.

Eden Hazard, the Chelsea midfielder, went down injured towards the end of the game and the referee called for the Chelsea medical team to enter the field of play and offer him treatment several times. Carneiro and Jon Fearn, the club’s physiotherapist, eventually did so. Because the then defending Premier League champions’ goalkeeper, Thibaut Courtois, had already been sent off for a tackle on Swansea’s Bafetimbi Gomis it meant that Chelsea would be down to ten men, as the rules state that a player must leave the field of play after receiving treatment.

After the game Mourinho referred to both of them as ‘impulsive and naive’ for going onto the pitch to treat Hazard before demanding that Carneiro be demoted from her duties as the first-team doctor. The tribunal will last for around two weeks and is expected to be somewhat embarrassing for Chelsea and the self-proclaimed ‘Special One’, with texts and emails sent between the club’s most powerful members expected to be revealed.

Carneiro’s legal team made the bare bones of their case quite clear with their opening argument, saying, “This is a tale of two employees: one good, one bad. The bad employee forces the good employee out of the job of her dreams and the employer does nothing to stop it. The bad employee berates, sexually harasses and demotes the good employee for carrying out her professional duties”.

Unsurprisingly, Mourinho and his former club deny the claims made by Carneiro and her team. It is believed that the precise words Mourinho said in the heat of the moment will come to form a crucial part of the evidence. Carneiro claims he called her a “filha da puta”, which means ‘daughter of a whore’, whilst Mourinho claims he shouted “filho da puta”, which means ‘son of a whore’ and is simply a Portuguese expletive.

Mary O’Rourke QC, on behalf of Carneiro, said, “She’s a Portuguese speaker. It was not filho da puta, it was filha da puta … you say filha da puta when you are denigrating a woman. He is saying it to the back of the claimant who is doing something he didn’t like … that is the context”.

Daniel Stilitz QC, who is representing Chelsea in the case, denied that and said, “Filho da puta is a phrase he often uses…There is no sexist connotation”. He suggested that Mourinho was known for using the phrase around Chelsea’s training ground and during the club’s matches if things weren’t going well.

Carneiro’s claims are about more than just that one moment, however. She also alleges that Mourinho abused her when she went onto the pitch to treat a head injury during a game against Fiorentina a few days before, shouting, “Now we’re going to shit ourselves. Every time someone goes down with a head injury we’re going to shit ourselves”.

The doctor felt that there was a general attitude of sexism at the Stamford Bridge club, with no club suit provided for her, a lack of changing facilities for females, regular ‘sexually explicit comments’ made towards her by colleagues and that the club failed to do anything to stop sexist chants that were aimed at her when Chelsea played away to West Ham and Manchester United.

Carneiro’s lawyers claim that Mourinho told the head of Chelsea’s communications department, Steve Atkins, that in the wake of the Swansea game he didn’t even want her on the bench for future matches and that he said, “She works in academy team or ladys team, not with me”. There’s also an allegation form Carneiro that Chelsea director Marina Granovskaia sent her a text after the Swansea game saying, “People who know, know you did nothing wrong. People who know José also know he is ranting… I don’t think there’s a salary that allows public attack”.

A lot of the case will come down to who said what and what was done in the aftermath of Mourinho’s comments during and after the Swansea game. In the weeks that followed Bruce Buck, the Chelsea chairman, told her she would not be involved in first team duties and that she could only return to the club in ‘an adjusted role’, leading her to resign her position. Chelsea feel that if she hadn’t resigned she’d still be at the club now and that her ‘provocative’ attitude and ‘refusal to engage in steps to rebuild her relationship with Mourinho’ is what has caused the problems.

Chelsea’s legal team will argue that Carneiro’s claims that his language was sexist are false and that he merely used the sort of language he often used in similar circumstances. They said, “The claimant’s suggestion that Mr Mourinho’s language was gendered and targeted specifically at her is plainly unwarranted in the light of the footage. Indeed she did not allege that the language used was discriminatory until well after the event. Mr Mourinho’s language was, again, far from unusual in the context”.

Chelsea’s lawyers suggested during their opening argument that Carneiro told Granovskaia that she would ‘draw a line’ under what had gone if she were given a 40% pay rise, a bonus scheme, a ‘substantial compensation payment’ for the distress she’d been caused and was allowed to return to the bench. Their suggestion is that the club had already begun to be concerned by her work performance before the incident had even occurred.

It was felt that Carneiro was ‘pre-occupied’ with ‘developing her profile’ instead of carrying out her duty as the club doctor. She posed for photos, signed autographs, nominated a first-team player after she did the ‘ice bucket challenge’, tried to sit behind the manager in televised games and was even ‘secretly briefing against Chelsea’ to some members of the media. She was instructed not to use social media after the event but did so anyway, going on Facebook to thank the public for their ‘overwhelming support’.

Mourinho, who was sacked by Chelsea in December after leading the club to their worst start to a top-flight campaign since the 1960s, was cleared by the Football Association of using discriminatory language towards Carneiro but afterwards Dame Heather Rabbatts, an independent board member of the FA, criticised them for not interviewing the doctor herself during its investigation. The hearing will continue for the next two weeks, with more information expected during that time.