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Friday Kickoff: Aguero set for return vs. Liverpool, Courtois cleared to face Chelsea, and more

SergioAgueroManCity2-CSKAMoscowUCL (Getty)

By IVES GALARCEP

Sergio Aguero’s long injury layoff appears ready to finally come to an end, and it is coming at just the right time for Manchester City.

The Argentine striker is reportedly set to return for the Citizens for this weekend’s potential championship decider against Liverpool. Aguero has missed Manchester City’s past five matches with a hamstring injury, but manager Manuel Pellegrini has stated that he believes Aguero will be ready for Sunday’s showdown in Liverpool.

Manchester City has done well despite Aguero’s absence, going 4-0-1 without their leading scorer, but Aguero’s presence would provide a major boost against a streaking Liverpool side.

Here are some other stories to get your Friday going:

UEFA CLEAR COURTOIS TO FACE CHELSEA

When Atletico Madrid was drawn against Chelsea in the UEFA Champions League semifinals, the immediate first question that came to mind was whether Atletico goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois would be able to play against the club he is currently on loan to Aletico from.

The answer is yes after UEFA rejected any potential fees imposed on Atletico Madrid for playing Courtois against his parent club.

One report suggests Chelsea might ask for a reduction in the asking price for Brazilian striker Diego Costa, who the Blues are reportedly after in the summer transfer market.

GUNDOGAN OUT FOR SEASON, WILL MISS WORLD CUP

Highly-regarded Borussia Dortmund midfifelder Ilkay Gundogan has seen his entire season erased by a back injury that has sidelined him since August, and now it appears he won’t be coming back at all this season.

Dortmund manager Jurgen Klopp revealed on Thursday that Gundogan will not play for Dortmund again this season, and ruled the 23-year-old central midfield out of contention for the World Cup.

Gundogan drew major attention from European powerhouses after a stellar 2012-2013 season for Dortmund, with Barcelona among the clubs interested in his services. Now it remains unclear just how long it will take him to recover from the nerve injury in his back.

QUICK KICKS

Manchester United striker Wayne Rooney could be facing an extended break in order to heal a fractured bone in his toe. (REPORT)

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Injured strikers Giuseppe Rossi and Mario Gomez could be back for Fiorentina in time to play in the Coppa Italia final on May 3rd against Napoli. (REPORT)

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The Michael Jackson statue that used to call Fulham’s Craven Cottage home has found a new home. (REPORT)

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What do you think of these developments? Think Manchester City can win at Anfield with Sergio Aguero back?  See Atletico beating Chelsea in the Champions League semifinals?

Share your thoughts below.

31 comments
  • reignman

    Will be interested to see how Gundogan’s recovery goes this summer, some have rumored this could be a potentially career ending injury. According to some it is just going to get worse the more he plays so we will see. Regardless of it that is true this injury is a shame, was a major blow to Dortmund’s season and he would have been a part of the German WC team.

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  • Brain Guy

    As long as Courtois was not “UCL-tied” — i.e., as long as he had not yet played for Chelsea in this competition — then he should be able to play against anybody. Right?

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    • Nate Dollars

      that is the question.

      in the loan agreement, atletico had agreed to pay €3M for every game that courtois played against chelsea. now that the moment has come, they took their case to uefa.

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      • Mason

        They probably knew that the fee was an unenforceable provision when they signed it, but there was no point in appealing to UEFA until the question was ripe.

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      • Nate Dollars

        i agree with the timing from a purely practical (cynical?) standpoint; i just have a problem with someone saying they’ll do something, and then complaining about it when it looks like they might actually have to.

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      • Mason

        It’s Chelsea’s fault for writing an unenforceable provision into the contract. You have to be cognizant that laws, rules, and regulations limit what you can put into a contract. Apparently, AM’s sports lawyers are better than Chelsea’s.

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      • Nate Dollars

        again, from a practical (cynical?) standpoint, that’s absolutely correct, and congrats to atletico if they get away with it.

        from an ethical (idealist?) standpoint, it’s a club promising to do something they never had any intention of doing, and it’s really poor form from a club i respect.

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      • Mason

        They didn’t “get away” with anything. There’s nothing unethical about signing a contract that you know to be unenforceable and then calling the counter-party’s bluff when push comes to shove.

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      • Nate Dollars

        agree to disagree, then?

        when someone agrees to do something, then says later that ‘no, that didn’t count’, i have a hard time accepting the ethics of that.

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      • Mason

        You can link to as many news articles as you like, but UEFA has spoken. They say that they do have a rule against this, and unless CAS says otherwise, that decision stands.

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    • biff

      Okay, Nate Dollars. Your resistance to allowing Courtis to play for free against Chelsea is starting to make me change my mind. Full disclosure, I will be cheering for Atletico so obviously want them to have the strongest team possible. But you are right. A contract is a contract and if there is nothing in UEFA rules that prohibit the clause in Courtis’s contract then UEFA should not be able legally to step in and retroactively void that clause in the contract. Would Platini, for example, void the clause if say, Atletico were playing against Paris SG and had a keeper on loan from Paris? Probably not. Or from Barcelona? No way. But Jose Mourinho and Chelsea is a different story. Probably though Chelsea will not fight it in court and risk the future wrath of UEFA.

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      • Mason

        “A contract is a contract and if there is nothing in UEFA rules that prohibit the clause in Courtis’s contract then UEFA should not be able legally to step in and retroactively void that clause in the contract. ”

        Except that UEFA says that there are rules that prevent things like this. Are you suggesting that they don’t know their own rulebook as well as you do?

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      • Nate Dollars

        “Except that UEFA says that there are rules that prevent things like this.”

        if it’s article 3 that they’re referring to (which is what atletico stated), then i don’t think it’s that cut-and-dried.

        it speaks broadly about one club having influence over another club’s ‘management, administration, or sporting influence’.

        so, sure, this could fall under that. but by the same measure, any loaned players could fall under that, so then atletico wouldn’t be able to field courtois anyway.

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      • Mason

        “…so then atletico wouldn’t be able to field courtois anyway.”

        Quoi? Explain why AM wouldn’t be able to field him just because he’s on loan?

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      • Nate Dollars

        because atletico would not have courtois player unless chelsea had agreed to loan him in the first place. they are indirectly influencing atletico’s chances of advancement by providing them the temporary services of a much better goalkeeper than they currently own.

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      • Nate Dollars

        to be clear, i’m not saying this is reasonable.

        i’m saying that if uefa is planning on applying their broad regulatory language to this particular case, it calls into question the whole system of player loans.

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      • Nate Dollars

        of course, i’ve also been around long enough to know that uefa will do whatever they want for whatever reason they want. if they say that’s what the rule means, then that’s what it means.

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      • Mason

        That’s basically what it comes down to, I think. UEFA interprets UEFA’s rules in the manner in which UEFA wants. Chelsea could go to CAS, but they’d have to prove that UEFA was misinterpreting the plain-language of its own rulebook. That’s a very tall order.

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  • ManicMessiah

    I wonder what the fee from Abromovich to Courtois will be to let a few by.

    Seriously though, I hope he lets in a soft goal so everyone spends a week talking about whether it was on purpose or not.

    I do remember Fernando Morientes helping to knock out Real Madrid while on loan to Monaco.

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  • Brain Guy

    Is the rule the same in the BPL? That is, can an on-loan player play against the loaning club? Can the loaning club or the player request or insist that he not play against the loaning club? If I recall correctly, Wenger complained about this sort of arrangement recently.

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    • slowleftarm

      Typically the on loan player does not play against the loaning club, nor should he. I think this ruling is a mistake.

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      • Brain Guy

        Just wondering, but why not? Would he be too tempted to favor his “real” team? If so, doesn’t that call into question the whole practice of intra-league loans? Does it mean that Wenger was right — that it’s unfair for Everton to play its valuable “loanees” against Arsenal but not against their “real” clubs?

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      • Nate Dollars

        goes both ways: the on-loan team wouldn’t have to worry about their player not trying against his “real” club, and the loaning club wouldn’t have to worry about their own player working against them.

        and i think wenger just complains about everything :)

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      • Brain Guy

        They don’t seem like equivalent concerns. Shouldn’t the loaning club anticipate that every player on an opposing team is going to work against them?

        I don’t pretend to have a solution for inter-league competitions, but I think intra-league loans should be prohibited. Too many opportunities for hijinks and perceptions of impropriety.

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  • Stinky Pete

    One thing you have to consider is that these Champions League games are serious big time money. If you are Chelsea you could potentially lose millions if you don’t make the final. Imagine if it is your own player that keeps you out of the final and you lose that much money. From a business standpoint (not a sporting standpoint) it makes no sense that you would take that risk.

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  • A

    Clearly an unenforceable clause. Have to think Chelsea never imagined that they’d wind up facing A. Madrid in an important game and A. Madrid figured likewise and that if push came to shove, UEFA would step in as they’ve done.

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    • Nate Dollars

      if chelsea never imagined this coming up, why would they ask for the clause at all? i’m sure it wasn’t atletico’s idea.

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      • Mason

        Maybe Chelsea has bad lawyers, but that’s not likely.

        Maybe it was a cut-and-paste of loan language from loans to other PL or English team? A domestic loan would be covered by FA rules, and maybe the FA allows fees for situations like this.

        Like

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