By Tim Stannard
1) Barça make plans for Enrique exit
An extra headache for Barcelona’s big bosses as if they didn’t need even more forehead-throbbing stress to pile on top of Leo Messi’s contract renewal and Neymar’s ever-fluttering eyes towards PSG.
Manager, Luis Enrique, is unwilling to make a decision on his own immediate future at the club, a future which theoretically ends in June when the Spaniard’s current Barcelona contract expires. "If my future is not here, it will not be anywhere,” said the Camp Nou king in a recent interview with the Barcelona club TV channel. Whilst Enrique prefers to make the decision in spring, the Spanish press is reporting that the club’s hierarchy are not overly keen on leaving matters so late and are pushing for an early resolution or even planning to swoop for current Athletic Bilbao boss, Ernesto Valverde.
2) Swansea start search for new Bob Bradley
It is as if the egg-heads running Swansea City were not entirely sure of what they are doing.
Just a day after firing Bob Bradley as coach just 11 games into the American’s tenure, the Welsh Premier League is reportedly considering Ryan Giggs as the right man to take over, a figure who was interviewed for Bradley’s position back in October. Current Wales boss, Chris Coleman, and former Birmingham manager, Gary Rowett, are also in the frame to lead the relegation-threatened club.
Meanwhile, the Premier League completes its Christmas round of action on Wednesday with Tottenham boss, Mauricio Pochettino, taking his players to his former club to face Southampton. Catch all the goals and highlights on the XTRA at 7PM ET / 4PM PT.
3) Jese too pricey for Las Palmas
Poor plucky Las Palmas have admitted that the wages of misfiring PSG forward, Jese, are far too high for the Canary Islanders to take on. The footballer comes from the city, but requires too much bling to return home. A host of other top clubs won’t have such pecuniary problems though.
Leicester City are hoping to put a spring in the step of a flagging season with the signing of the Nigerian midfielder, Wilfred Ndidi, currently playing for Belgian outfit, Genk. The deal could be worth $20m. And Chelsea are reportedly hovering over Atalanta midfielder, Franck Kessie, with the Ivorian being quite the star of the show in Serie A this season. Remember to tune into the XTRA from 7PM ET / 4PM PT for all the latest news and made-up stuff in the daily Transfer Tracker.
4) FIFA still keen on a half-the-planet World Cup
FIFA NEWS! World uber-body president, Gianni Infantino, has said that the majority of the organization’s federations would fully support an increase of the total number of teams at the World Cup finals from 32 to 48 from 2026 onwards. "I am still convinced to expand the participation in the World Cup to more than 32 teams," said the former ball-plucker at the International Sports Conference in Dubai.
5) Russia’s admission on doping claims in sport
Perhaps the most unexpected, expected news of the year from the wacky world of Russian sport. The New York Times is reporting that Russian officials have admitted for the first time that the doping that has blighted the country’s sport was institutionalized and systemic. "It was an institutional conspiracy," was the reported admission from Anna Antseliovich, acting director general of Russia's anti-doping agency, RUSADA. However, the same agency has since claimed that the words of Antseliovich were “distorted.”
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