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Gabriel Martinelli responds to criticism of World Cup selection

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Arsenal winger Gabriel Martinelli insists he isn’t bothered by those criticising Brazil manager Tite’s decision to take him to the World Cup this month.

Martinelli has made an excellent start to the season at Arsenal, getting five goals and two assists in 13 Premier League matches so far.

As a result of that form, he has been included in Brazil’s World Cup squad. However, not everyone is on baord, with former international Neto hitting out at the 21-year-old’s inclusion, saying Flamengo’s Gabriel Barbosa, formerly of Inter, should have been selected instead.

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“This is a shame, a joke! I feel ashamed! What is Martinelli’s story? 33 career goals. This is a shame, a lack of respect for football. Doing this with football shows that you don’t deserve the position you are in,” he told Os Donos da Bola.

“Calling up Martinelli and not calling up Gabigol is a lack of respect. The biggest shame of all the call-ups. Calling up Martinelli shows that you, Tite, shouldn’t hold the position you do, because you’re not fair to Gabigol.

“The guy who scores five goals in the season, who walks around the mall here, nobody knows who he is… And not taking Gabigol, the guy who scored the goal of the Libertadores title, who scored 29 goals in the season.

“What has Martinelli done in European football? Arsenal are not even in the Champions League. This is a calamity!”

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When asked about those comments, Martinelli was unfazed, saying such differences of opinion are normal.

“I think this is normal. Some people in Brazil don’t know me and it’s also normal to say that other players deserved to be there. But I’m pretty cool about it. I think this is normal,” he told ESPN Brasil.

“I know what I’m doing at my club, I know my ability and I know what I can do. And you can be sure that I will do my best for the Brazilian team, in whatever I can help the team I will help. It will be a great experience for me.”



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Manchester United Board of Directors block 2023 dividends payment

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Manchester United’s Board of Directors did not approve a dividends payment to the club’s owners, the Glazers, scheduled for 2023.

The controversial Glazer ownership of United has reared its head once again in recent times following last month’s announcement from the club itself confirming that they were open to a sale.

A statement released in November confirmed the club and its owners would ‘consider all strategic alternatives’ amid sustained pressure from fans for the Glazers to sell up once more, with protests coming and going since their takeover in 2005.

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It was confirmed in a statement on December 8 that the Glazers would not be taking out a dividend payment, before that announcement was made: “On 15 November, the Board of Directors did not approve the payment of the semi-annual dividend for fiscal 2023.”

United’s Board of Directors is comprised mostly of Glazers, with Avram and Joel both holding titles of ‘Executive Co-Chairman and Director’. Kevin, Bryan and Edward – all siblings of Joel and Avram – are listed as Directors for the club.

The Athletic report that the decision is an economic one, considering the investment into the team this past summer which was in excess of £200m.

The decision marks the first time since 2016 that the Glazer family haven’t taken dividends out of the club and further fuels speculation that a sale could be imminent, with the Raine Group – who facilitated the 2022 sale of Chelsea – acting as United’s ‘exclusive financial advisor’ while they explore a potential sale.

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Carlo Ancelotti speaks out in defence of Cristiano Ronaldo

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Real Madrid manager Carlo Ancelotti has issued a defence of Cristiano Ronaldo amid continued criticisms over his attitude.

The 37-year-old is currently at the World Cup as a free agent having agreed to a mutual exit from Manchester United in November, following increasing tension between himself and manager Erik ten Hag.

Ronaldo’s behavioural problems have been publicised to a stunning extent in recent times, walking out twice on United during matches this season and being dropped by Ten Hag as a result the second time around.

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The same issues seem to have followed him into the Portugal camp in what is expected to be his final World Cup. Ronaldo was unhappy with being substituted in his nation’s 2-1 defeat to South Korea and started on the bench as they thrashed Switzerland 6-1, playing some 20 minutes and having to watch his replacement Goncalo Ramos bag a hat-trick.

The Portuguese Football Federation released a statement on December denying reports in Portugal that Ronaldo had threatened to walk out on Fernando Santos and the team in Qatar. Amid the drama, Ancelotti, who managed Ronaldo for two seasons, offered a defence to Corriere dello Sport: “Ronaldo probably still feels in his 20s because he’s fine, he’s got the answers he’s looking for in his body.

“The competition has become tough,” he added: “I’ve coached him for two years and there were no problems. In fact he solved them for me.

“Cristiano trains well, he pays attention to detail, everything was easy for me to manage. He is an exceptional player.”

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Harry Symeou hosts Scott Saunders, Sean Walsh, Ali Rampling and Brian Goldfarb to look back on the 2014 World Cup finals in Brazil – join us!

If you can’t see the podcast embed, click to download or listen to the episode in full!

Ronaldo himself released a statement addressing the reports after Portugal did so, talking up the unity among Santos’ squad.

Portugal take on Morocco in the World Cup quarter-final on December 10, where it remains to be seen if the five-time Ballon d’Or winner will be restored to a starting berth as a result of the team’s exceptional last 16 performance without him.

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Mikel Arteta provides injury updates on two key Arsenal stars

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Mikel Arteta lifted the lid on the condition of both Emile Smith Rowe and Gabriel Jesus following Arsenal’s friendly victory over Lyon.

The Gunners breezed to a 3-0 win against the Ligue 1 side out in the United Arab Emirates, while taking part in the Dubai Super Cup as a part of their preparations for the impending return of club football.

Naturally, Arsenal have plenty of first-team regulars away still representing their country at the World Cup or on leave following a recent elimination, but are still stepping up their efforts with one eye on football’s return, with the aim being to continue an incredible first half of the season.

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Unfortunately, Brazil forward Jesus saw his World Cup campaign come to an end as a result of a knee injury, which the club have since confirmed he has had surgery to correct. After the win, Arteta responded ‘no’ when asked if there was a timescale for the 25-year-old’s return.

“We know that he needed some intervention in the knee and we have to take day by day, week by week and see where that takes us,” Arteta said.

When asked if injury to Jesus would influence the Gunners’ transfer plans, he responded: “What it affects is who we are as a team because he gives us so much.

“What we can do after that, when we know the timescale better and when we can have him back, we will look at the options and try to make the right decisions.”

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Harry Symeou hosts Scott Saunders, Sean Walsh, Ali Rampling and Brian Goldfarb to look back on the 2014 World Cup finals in Brazil – join us!

If you can’t see the podcast embed, click here to download or listen to the episode in full!

Smith Rowe, meanwhile, has been missing for the majority of the 2022/23 campaign, but has travelled with the squad to Dubai for their mid-season camp. Arteta said: “With Emile, he has returned to training and he’s in that process after we rehab, after a period where he had some real discomfort.

“So we are giving him time – he’s getting closer and closer. So hopefully in the next few weeks, we’ll be able to see him.”

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