By DAN KARELL
Atletico Madrid will be without arguably their most important player when they take the field Saturday against Real Madrid in the UEFA Champions League final in Lisbon.
After being forced off early in Atletico’s stunning 1-1 draw last Saturday that earned them the La Liga crown, Atletico’s medical staff diagnosed Diego Costa with a grade one hamstring strain, all but ruling him out for this weekend’s action. The injury should be healed however in time for the World Cup, keeping his hopes of representing Spain in his homeland alive.
The medical staff also diagnosed midfielder Arda Turan with a hip injury but it’s thought that his injury isn’t as serious as Costa’s is. Speaking at the team’s media day on Monday, Atletico head coach Diego Simeone said at the time that it was “too early” to decide whether Costa would be fit enough to play in the final, though the odds are against Costa.
Costa has scored 36 goals in all competitions for Atletico in their dream season as they attempt to stifle Real Madrid’s attempt for La Decima. Turan has also been a key player for Atletico the last couple of seasons, and this year he scored nine goals in all competitions while making 46 appearances.
Here are some more stories to start off your Tuesday:
TOURE’S AGENT THREATENS TO HAVE PLAYER LEAVE MAN CITY
Manchester City midfielder Yaya Toure is reportedly very upset with the club’s owners over a lack of acknowledgement over the player’s birthday.
Toure turned 31-years old during Man City’s postseasons tour of the UAE last week, but none of the owners reportedly shook his hand or even said happy birthday to Toure, according to Toure’s owner Dimitri Seluk. The lack of appreciation has Seluk angry, and he’s threatened that his client could leave the club for another team this summer.
“Money is not important,” Seluk told the BBC. “He has enough money. The most important thing is a human relationship and maybe this is his opportunity for Yaya to find that. If City don’t respect him, then, easy, Yaya will leave. No problem.
“It is more important he plays for a club that respects him more than having a few thousand pounds added to his salary.”
Toure was arguably the most important player for Manchester City this season as their tireless box-to-box midfield engine in the middle of the field. Toure scored an impressive 20 goals in 35 English Premier League starts last season as he won the club’s second league title in three years.
PIQUE EXTENDS WITH BARCELONA
Barcelona may have failed to win any major titles this season but they’ve ensured that one of their key pieces will remain with the club for the long term.
Just a day after Lionel Messi signed his improved contract, defender Gerard Pique signed a new Barcelona contract through June 2019. Gerard’s contract was due to run out at the end of next season, making his extension a priority for the club.
Pique, who is expected to start for Spain at the 2014 World Cup, played 39 times for Barcelona as they came very close to winning a league title last Saturday, but couldn’t hold on to the lead against Atletico Madrid.
AS Monaco have terminated the contract of head coach Claudio Raneiri. (REPORT)
Eight clubs including AS Monaco and Paris Saint-Germain are interested in signing Ashley Cole on a free transfer. (REPORT)
Manchester City have expanded their global network by purchasing a minority stake in Yokahama F. Marinos in the J-League. (REPORT)
The agent of Javier Mascherano has denied any transfer speculation of the Argentine leaving Barcelona to reunite with former manager Rafael Benitez at Napoli. (REPORT)
Corinthians are hoping to wrap up the transfer signing of Uruguay National Team midfielder Nicolas Lodeiro. (REPORT)
Croatia midfielder Ivo Illicevic has been removed from the 30-man preliminary roster due to injury. (REPORT)
Reports in England state that Sam Allardyce is set to remain West Ham United’s manager despite pressure from the fans to find a new manager. (REPORT)
Former Bordeaux centerback Henrique is in Rio de Janeiro to sign a contract with Fluminense. (REPORT)
What do you think of these reports? Do you think Atletico can beat Real Madrid without Costa? Do you see Toure leaving Man City? How big is Pique’s re-signing at Barcelona?
Share your thoughts below.