Friday’s latest stories from the world of football in ESPN FC’s What’s Trending…
EUROPA LEAGUE: Manchester United will meet Dutch giants Ajax in the Europa League final after both clubs advanced from their semifinal clashes on Thursday night.
– Ajax coach Peter Bosz claimed the club’s return to a European final for the first time in 21 years was “a victory for football.”
– Celta Vigo boss Eduardo Berizzo said he was proud of his men after what was the Spanish club’s first major European semifinal, but admitted it was “a shame” not to reach the final.
– Iago Aspas has said his side were “infinitely superior” to Manchester United at Old Trafford, despite going out of the Europa League.
– The Europa League final on May 24 at Stockholm’s Friends Arena will be refereed by Slovenian official Damir Skomina.
MAN UNITED: Jose Mourinho says first-choice goalkeeper David De Gea accepts that goalkeeper Sergio Romero will start the Europa League final but the Manchester United manager does not plan to make major changes to his starting line-ups for the club’s remaining Premier League fixtures.
– Mourinho has admitted he is already worried his tired stars are at a disadvantage heading into the Europa League final.
– Mourinho lamented Manchester United’s inability to once again kill off a game before “the last second,” but was happy with his team’s performance.
CHELSEA: Eden Hazard has told Sky Sports his ambition to one day win the Ballon d’Or and insists there is no reason why he could not do it in England with Chelsea.
– Antonio Conte has credited the “secret” methods implemented by his backroom team for Chelsea’s relative lack of injuries this season, while admitting that luck has also played a role in the Blues’ good health.
– Chelsea are seven points clear at the top of the Premier League and are on the verge of a fifth Premier League title of the Roman Abramovich era — they could be confirmed as champions as early as Frida when they play West Bromwich Albion.
– Pedro Rodriguez has won April’s Premier League Goal of the Month award for his stunning 25-yard strike in Chelsea’s win at Everton.
SOUTHAMPTON: Manchester City and Liverpool are considering a move for Southampton’s Ryan Bertrand as a solution to their left-back problems, sources close to the player have told ESPN FC.
TOTTENHAM: Tottenham Hotspur claimed an awards double on Friday when Mauricio Pochettino was named Premier League Manager of the Month for April and the club’s forward Son Heung-Min was voted Player of the Month.
MAN CITY: Yaya Toure’s agent has urged fans to show their love for the midfielder by taking birthday cakes to Saturday’s clash with Leicester City.
ARSENAL: Arsene Wenger believes Hector Bellerin can thrive in a wing-back role, with the Spaniard likely to replace the injured Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain at Stoke on Saturday.
– Shkodran Mustafi has said he hopes Arsenal have recovered from their blip in form in time to win a place in the top four.
– Alex Iwobi plans to stay at the club regardless of whether Arsene Wenger remains the manager, his uncle Jay-Jay Okocha has said.
LIVERPOOL: Liverpool will have to check on the fitness of Roberto Firmino and Lucas Leiva, but Daniel Sturridge and Adam Lallana are fit ahead of Sunday’s crucial match at West Ham United, manager Jurgen Klopp has said.
– Klopp believes his side are not that far behind leaders Chelsea despite the 14-point gap in the Premier League table.
BAYERN MUNICH: Bayern Munich defender Holger Badstuber will leave the Bundesliga champions at the end of the current season, the club announced on Friday.
LEICESTER: Leicester are ready to break their transfer record again as they seek a Champions League return.
WEST HAM: West Ham United captain Mark Noble will miss the final two games of the season as he undergoes surgery for an abdominal injury.
DORTMUND: Borussia Dortmund coach Thomas Tuchel has hit out at reports of a fall-out with his players.
– Dortmund defender Marc Bartra is set to return to the matchday squad at Augsburg just over a month after he was injured in the attack on the club’s team bus.
GERMANY: The “ABBA” penalty shootout system was used for the first time on Thursday as part of a trial sanctioned by football’s lawmakers, the International Football Association Board (IFAB).
FRANCE: The France national team’s official Twitter account chose to snub Karim Benzema but congratulate Raphael Varane on reaching the Champions League final.
JUVENTUS: Juventus forward Paulo Dybala has said Gianluigi Buffon is the greatest of all time after the 39-year-old goalkeeper helped his side to another Champions League final.
BARCELONA: Barcelona midfielder Rafinha has no interest in leaving the Camp Nou this summer, despite recent reports suggesting he’s sizing up a move away, says the player’s father.
REAL MADRID: Colombia legend Carlos Valderrama said that only Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane is to blame for James Rodriguez’s lack of playing time with the Spanish giants.
PSG: Former Paris Saint-Germain sporting director Leonardo has ended speculation that he could return, saying it is “no longer possible” for him to go back to the Parc des Princes.
WORLD CUP: FIFA’s full membership voted to approve a plan to fast-track the 2026 World Cup host bidding process on Thursday as part of a FIFA Congress that also included a vow from president Gianni Infantino to examine the transfer system. There was also an awkward debate involving the federations of Israel and Palestine.
MLS: The LA Galaxy officially ruled out Robbie Rogers for the rest of 2017 by placing the defender on their Season Ending Injury list on Thursday.
LIGA MX: A first half penalty from Matias Alustiza settled Thursday’s Clasico Tapatio, with Atlas running out 1-0 victors against Guadalajara city rival Chivas in the quarterfinal first leg of the Liga MX 2017 Clausura.
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