Thursday, April 19, 2018

Porto play down Mangala exit rumours; Mascherano happy at Barca

Jorge Nuno Pinto da Costa has rubbished reports linking Eliaquim Mangala, Jackson Martinez and Nicolas Otamendi with January exits from Porto.

F.C. Porto president Jorge Nuno Pinto da Costa has rubbished reports linking Eliaquim Mangala, Jackson Martinez and Nicolas Otamendi with January exits from the Estádio do Dragão, Sky Sports understands.

Mangala, who joined Porto from Standard Liège for €6.5 million in August 2011, is reportedly attracting interest from a number of English Premier League clubs, including the likes of Arsenal, Chelsea, Manchester City and Manchester United.

The France international, 22, has been on impressive form for the Portuguese champions this season, having scored one goal in 12 appearances across all competitions.

Similarly, Colombia international striker Jackson Martinez, who arrived in Porto via Liga MX side Chiapas F.C. in the summer of 2012, has been linked with a January move abroad.

The Colombian ace has been the subject of rumoured interest from Arsenal, Chelsea, Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur in recent times, and rightfully so.

Since joining the Dragões, Martinez has been on scintillating goal-scoring form, totaling 33 goals in 39 Primeira Liga appearances for the club.

“Every day there are stories that one club or another wants Mangala but Porto have not received a single offer for him,” Pinto da Costa told EFE.

“It is the same with Jackson. His name has been in every paper but nobody has contacted us about him.”

Pinto da Costa also moved to dismiss speculation implying the club have received an offer for highly-rated Argentine defender Nicolas Otamendi.

“Otamendi is the other name that people always talk about and no offers have been received for him either,” added the Portistas’ president.

Porto will travel to Russia to face FC Zenit Saint Petersburg on Matchday 4 in the UEFA Champions League on Wednesday evening.

Zenit (6/4); Porto (2/1); Draw (12/5)

Mascherano happy at Barca

Barcelona defender Javier Mascherano insists he is happy at the Camp Nou despite talking up a future reunion with Rafa Benitez at Napoli.

Benitez signed Mascherano for Liverpool from West Ham United in January 2007, and the latter left Anfield shortly after the former was sacked in 2010.

Last week, Napoli president Aurelio de Laurentiis revealed he is ‘not interested’ in signing the Argentina international, while claiming an interest in Olympique Lyonnais captain Maxime Gonalons.

“I like Serie A very much, the level is high and you can see beautiful games,” Mascherano told La Gazzetta dello Sport.

“I’m often in touch with Rafa Benitez, we have a great relationship.

“I’m a grateful person and I remember that Rafa took me from West Ham, where I did not play, and gave me confidence at Liverpool in a team full of great midfielders.

“I’d love to work with him again someday and he knows it. But today I’m at Barcelona and I’m fine there. In the future, we will see.”

Mascherano — 11/1 to score at anytime against AC Milan on Wednesday — has made 12 competitive starts for Barça in 2013/14.


Shawn Etemadi



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