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Page 47 stories Maradona urges Messi to change mind about retiring Lionel Messi has been urged to reconsider his international retirement by Argentina legend Diego…

Page 47 stories

Maradona urges Messi to change mind about retiring

Lionel Messi has been urged to reconsider his international retirement by Argentina legend Diego Maradona and the country’s president.

The forward, 29, quit after missing in a penalty shootout as Argentina were beaten by Chile in the Copa America – a fourth major final loss in nine years.

“Those saying he should quit don’t want us to see what a disaster Argentinean football has become,” Maradona told La Nacion newspaper.

Maradona, who captained Argentina to victory in the 1986 World Cup and managed the team at the 2010 World Cup, added: “Messi has to stay because he will reach the 2018 World Cup in Russia in conditions to become world champion.

“The lads have to be supported more to help him take the team forward.”

Messi said after Sunday’s defeat that for him, the national team was “over” and that “it hurts not to be a champion”.

According to AFP news agency, Argentine President Mauricio Macri called Messi to tell him “how proud he feels of the national team’s performance and asked him not to listen to the criticism”.

Messi has won eight La Liga titles and four Champions Leagues with his club, Spanish side Barcelona.

But his only major international honour is Olympic gold at the 2008 Games.

Defeat on Sunday was the second time in two years Argentina have lost the Copa America final to Chile on penalties, while they were beaten 1-0 by Germany in the 2014 World Cup final.

Messi, who was been awarded the Ballon d’Or five times, was also on the losing side against Brazil in the 2007 Copa America final.

Argentina are already six games into their qualification campaign for the 2018 World Cup. They are third in the table, two points behind leaders Uruguay.

The top four teams progress to the finals in Russia, while the team finishing fifth qualifies for a two-legged play-off against the best team from Oceania.

Mane completes £34m Liverpool transfer

Liverpool have completed the signing of Sadio Mane for £34m from Southampton.

He joins on a five-year deal and is Liverpool’s third summer signing after German goalkeeper Loris Karius and Cameroon defender Joel Matip.

The 24-year-old Senegal striker’s fee could rise to £36m, eclipsing the £35m paid in 2011 for Andy Carroll, the Reds’ most expensive signing.

Mane scored 21 goals in 67 Premier League appearances for Saints after joining for £10m from Salzburg in 2014.

“Today is a big day and I am very happy to sign for one of the biggest clubs in Europe,” he told the club’s official website.

“It’s a club that has won a lot of trophies and has a big history.”

Mane becomes the most expensive African player in history, with his transfer topping the £28m deal that Manchester City paid Swansea City for Wilfried Bony in January 2015.

He is the latest in a string of players to make the switch from St Mary’s to Anfield in recent seasons.

Adam Lallana, Dejan Lovren, Rickie Lambert and Nathaniel Clyne have all moved to Liverpool since the summer of 2014.

Mane played for Southampton out wide and centrally, and will compete for a striking position with Daniel Sturridge, Divock Origi and Christian Benteke.

However, Benteke – a £32.5m signing from Aston Villa last summer – has said he will consider leaving if manager Jurgen Klopp continues to leave him out next season.

Southampton have already sold Victor Wanyama to Tottenham for £11m, and remain without a manager since Ronald Koeman departed for Everton.

Frenchman Claude Puel, 54, who led Nice to fourth in the French top flight last season, is the favourite for the vacant manager’s position at St Mary’s.

Bedene beaten by Gasquet in Wimbledon first round

British number two Aljaz Bedene lost in the first round of Wimbledon to seventh seed Richard Gasquet.

The Frenchman, a semi-finalist in 2015, won 6-3, 6-4, 6-3.

Bedene, ranked 56th in the world, becomes the fifth British man to fall in the opening round.

Andy Murray faces Liam Broady in an all-British match later on Tuesday, while Johanna Konta, Heather Watson, Katie Swan and Tara Moore also play for places in the second round on day two.

There are 15 British players in the singles this year, and so far two – Marcus Willis and Dan Evans – have gone through, with seven knocked out.

Gasquet took early control of the match, racing into a 4-1 lead, and despite Bedene breaking the Gasquet serve to recover to 4-3, the Frenchman claimed the opening set.

The world number 10, who was beaten by Novak Djokovic in last year’s semi-final, outclassed Bedene for much of the remainder of the match with a typically stylish performance.

Gasquet’s single-handed backhand is regarded as one of the best in the game and he hit 16 backhand winners on his way to victory.

Kyrgios overcomes gritty Stepanek

Australian 15th seed Nick Kyrgios overcame the gritty challenge of Radek Stepanek by 6-4, 6-3, 6-7(9), 6-1 yesterday, foiling the Czech player’s bid to become the oldest man to win a grand slam singles match in almost 25 years.

After the players exchanged breaks of serve early on – the Australian playing a lax seventh game to concede his – Kyrgios made the decisive break of the first set in the tenth game.

Kyrgios took the second on a single break and had the chance to wrap things up in straight sets when he served for the match at 5-4.

But the Czech, at 37 Kyrgios’ senior by 16 years, broke back and took the third set in a marathon tie-break 11-9, luring Kyrgios to the net with one of many drop shot before passing him with a cross-court forehand.

That burst of energy seemed to tire the Czech, and Kyrgios – who next plays Germany’s unseeded Dustin Brown – stormed through the fourth set with two further breaks of serve to wrap up victory in two hours and 26 minutes.

Army builds gymnastic centre in Calabar

From Eyo Charles, Calabar

8the 2 Division of Nigerian Army has completed the building of a gymnastic centre in the 13 brigade, Akim Barrack, Calabar.

The General Officer Commanding (GOC), Major Gen. Ibrahim Attahiru at while commissioning the project said it was in line with the Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai’s vision to reposition the army, by ensuring the fitness of its personnel.

He said the centre would boost the physical and mental fitness of Nigerian army troops.

The project was commissioned alongside an ICT centre, an ambulance and a welfare bus.

The Brigade’s commander, Brig. Gen. Sani Mohammed said that the projects were conceived and executed despite lean resources.

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