Marseille’s Gerson and manager Igor Tudor in training ground bust-up

La Provence report that Marseille midfielder Gerson and his new manager Igor Tudor had an altercation during training on Tuesday, in the lead up to the team’s (ultimately not so) friendly match against Real Betis which finished 1-1.

Journalist Alexandre Jacquin explains that nothing came of the altercation in the end, and that the tension was down to the fact that the Marseille players are in the process of adapting to Tudor’s strict coaching methods.

Tudor arrived during the summer in the wake of the abrupt departure of Jorge Sampaoli, who was ostensibly unhappy with the direction and pace of the club’s transfer dealings at the start of the summer. 

The 44-year-old arrived after a spell last year at Hellas Verona and having previously been assistant manager of Juventus. He is described as being a coach with a particularly strong character.

OM will have their final pre-season friendly against Milan on Sunday evening, before kicking off their Ligue 1 season at home against Reims the following weekend.

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Australian GP: Friday’s action in pictures

The action kicked off in earnest on Friday, but it was a mixed day of running with a bit of a chaotic opening session followed by a rain-disrupted FP2.

Check out our pictures from the day’s proceedings at the Australian GP at Albert Park.



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OGC Nice left-back target Fabiano Parisi signs new 3-year deal at Empoli

As announced by the Serie A side, OGC Nice’s priority transfer target at left-back, Fabiano Parisi (21) has signed a new three year deal at Empoli – which guarantees he will stay at the club despite Nice having been close to signing the young defender.

At the end of last month Nice were in talks with the defender’s entourage and had a combined €20m bid turned down for Parisi and centre-back Mattia Viti (20) – who signed for the Gym for a fee of €12 + €3m add-ons last week. 

Parisi will not follow his teammate to Nice, after having committed his future to Empoli after making his breakthrough last season. The young defender was somewhat a revelation at Empoli, having made 25 appearances and creating one goal for his side that finished 14th in Serie A. Parisi joined Empoli in 2020, and has since played mostly at left-back, but is also capable of playing in central and left-midfield. 

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Ten years on, Hamilton reflects on ‘risky’ move to Mercedes

Next weekend’s Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne will mark ten years since Lewis Hamilton’s first race with Mercedes.

Bred and groomed for success by McLaren, Hamilton opted for a change of scenery at the end of the 2012 season after six years with the Woking-based outfit, a fruitful period that had yielded 21 wins and a world title in 2008.

The young Briton’s move to Brackley, the outcome of several persuasive talks with then team boss Ross Brawn and with Niki Lauda, was seen as a risky enterprise by many.

In hindsight, Hamilton agrees that there was an element of risk in his decision, but the seven-time world champion explains why the call was also “inevitable”

“Did it feel like a risk? Of course! When you make decisions, you go through changes and it’s always going to be a risk,” he said, reflecting on his move to Mercedes in a special piece published on the team’s website.

“But I would feel like I’m not living if I’m not taking risks, not constantly challenging myself and those around me. It was the inevitable direction I had to go, and it felt right.

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“It was a feeling that I had; I wanted something new. I was excited to work with new people and enter a team that had struggled. Taking everything that I had learned and seeing if I could apply it somewhere else.

“I was excited by the plans I had heard were being put in place to scale up the team and going all in to become champions.

“I went with what I felt in my gut and in my heart. It led me to this amazing team and this incredible journey we are on.”

At the time, Mercedes had established itself in F1 as a mid-field outfit, with a single win under its name, courtesy of Nico Rosberg in Chine in 2012, while Michael Schumacher’s efforts to triumph again in F1 had proven fruitless.

“So many people told me it was wrong,” recalled Hamilton. “I knew that if I didn’t make the move though, I would have regretted it.

“I didn’t have any second thoughts… although I do remember around Christmas sitting outside in the cold looking over the snowy mountains thinking: ‘Shoot! I hope I’ve made the right decision’.

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“I had a moment of reflection and thought: ‘We’ve done it so we’re going to give it everything’. I focused on training the best I could and bringing the best I could to the team.

“I also thought about how great it would be to get a win in that first season – something we managed to achieve [at the Hungarian Grand Prix].”

Eighty-two wins and six world titles later, Hamilton has started his eleventh campaign with Mercedes.

Amid the team’s troubled times, the Briton’s future is being labeled as unclear. But few doubt that Hamilton will jump ship.

“If I don’t feel like I’m being challenged, I’m not progressing or I’m not evolving, that is where you start thinking about your next move. And I just haven’t felt that in these 10 years,” he said.

“I feel like the whole team has been evolving, with new people, new structures being put in place, new targets being set.

“I feel that I’ve had the right team to grow. Not only as a driver but as a man. I’ve been given the ability to be myself and been accepted by Mercedes.”

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Wout Faes close to joining Torino after Jason Denayer deal collapses

As reported by Le10Sport, Stade Reims’ Belgian defender Wout Faes is close to joining Italian side Torino this summer transfer window.

In their search for a defender to replace Bremer, who left for Juventus last month, the Serie A side were close to signing former Lyon defender Jason Denayer on a free transfer after he left OL at the end of his contract, but the deal collapsed due to a ‘twist behind the scenes’ say the outlet.

The 24-year-old Reims centre-back is Torino’s second option and an agreement between the concerned parties is close to being sorted including a fee in excess of €5m for the player who has two years left on his contract in France. That’s despite Reims reportedly valuing him at €10m earlier this summer.

Expected to leave this off-season by the Champagne club’s president, Faes has also been interesting Rennes, Roma, Newcastle and Lazio in recent weeks.

Since joining from Oostende in the summer of 2020, Faes has been capped by Belgium and played 74 times for Reims, scoring five goals.

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Jones ‘just can’t see’ Ricciardo returning to the grid

Alan Jones, Australia’s most recent F1 world champion, says he “just can’t see” his countryman Daniel Ricciardo returning to the fray in F1 in the future.

Ricciardo was dropped by McLaren at the end of the 2022 season, a full year before the end of his contract with the Woking-based outfit, due to the Aussie’s disappointing results with the team.

Ricciardo was subsequently offered a third-driver role with Red Bull, his former team, but team boss Christian Horner has made clear that there are no plans entrust the eight-time Grand Prix winner with one of its cars this season.

Reflecting on Ricciardo’s plight in an interview with theahead of this week’s Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne, Jones believes Ricciardo only has himself to blame for dropping off the grid.

“I don’t think he even knows himself [why his form disappeared]. I just think he went off the boil,” Jones said.

“Really, in my own opinion, I think he concentrated and spent a bit too much time for his activities out of the cockpit rather than in it. That’s my opinion.”

Jones believes that, barring an unforeseen event, Ricciardo won’t be racing in F1 in 2024.

“I don’t think he will get a drive at Red Bull unless something happens to the two current drivers,” said the former Williams charger.

“I can’t see him doing a Grand Prix. I doubt [he will be on the grid in 2024]. At the end of the day, there is probably no reason why Red Bull won’t re-sign Perez, and obviously, Verstappen.

“I can’t see anybody at Ferrari resigning or going away, so I just can’t see where he can go.

“Obviously, everybody likes to go out on a high note, and it’s just unfortunate that for whatever reason, and I don’t even think he knows himself, why his performance dropped off.

“As I said before, I just can’t see him getting back into Formula 1.”

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Six Nations: Wales sweat on the fitness of Louis Rees-Zammit ahead of next month’s opener

Wales star Louis Rees-Zammit is in a race against time to be fit in time for the Six Nations in February, his club confirmed.

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The winger injured his ankle on Christmas Eve in Gloucester’s loss against defending Premiership champions Leicester Tigers.

Out until the Six Nations

Gloucester boss George Skivington revealed that Rees-Zammit would unlikely play for the club again before the Six Nations, meaning there is a possibility the speedster will recover in time for the competition.

“He is walking around at the moment, which is good news, but (he) is definitely not going to be back any time soon,” Skivington said.

“I have not got an exact date of return because it is going to be around that Six Nations period.

“From my point of view, I plan for him not to be here for a few weeks.

“I am not sure exactly what week of the Six Nations it is that he will or won’t get ready for, but he will not be playing for us in the next couple of weeks anyway.

“He has been scanned. The medics are on top of it. I just know he is not going to be here for the Six Nations, and therefore it’s up to Wales to work out whether he is going to play for them.”

Unknown return date

There has been no date given for the Welshman’s return. However, Wales head coach Warren Gatland will be monitoring closely as the wing could be one of his trump cards given the speed threat Rees-Zammit has.

Skivington said: “I am being absolutely honest from my point of view. I know he is not available for me until that Six Nations period, and I am moving on.

“I am hoping he will be available for some point of the Six Nations and beyond that. I have so many things going on with other injuries and people, and I leave it to others.

“Hopefully he will be ready for the start of the Six Nations, but there is no date been given to me.

“Whether it is because it is one of those injuries where it could kick on quicker – he is a young healthy bloke, and hopefully he recovers as quick as anybody – or whether it’s a debate (about) should he play this game or not. I am genuinely not sure about it.”

LIGUE 1 22/23 GUIDE | Toulouse – Philippe Montanier’s free-wheeling side will fun but their plan has major flaws

This article is taken from GFFN’s FREE 2022/23 Ligue 1 Season Preview Guide, which will be available to download in full this weekend. Keep an eye on Get French Football News for our team’s analysis of every team and much more.

Key Man: Rhys Healey – Becoming Ligue 2’s leading scorer last season was, until now, the culmination of a unlikely journey for English striker Rhys Healey. Costing just £500,000, Healey unexpectedly arrived in France two years ago from League One MK Dons after 11 goals in 18 games during the 2019/20 season. Healey had struggled for form across six loan spells away from Cardiff City, taking in Dundee, Torquay and Colchester. Now 27, Healey’s 35 Ligue 2 goals in 65 games, including 20 last term, suggest he’s finally found a home. A poacher with a keenness to think outside the box while usually playing within it, Healey’s eye for space and controlled finishing has made him a menace for Ligue 2 defences. Although he’s clinical in the classical sense, Healey is capable of manufacturing goals his rival couldn’t via a series of flicks and shimmies – he even scored while sitting on the turf. Having already played in the top five English divisions as well as the Scottish and Welsh top flights, in large part thanks to his precise finishing Healey count now add both Ligue 2 and Ligue 1 to his list. More goals will be needed if he’s to avoid another change of divisions.

Signing To Watch: Zakaria Aboukhlal – Although left-back Oliver Zanden (20) has been brought in from Swedish club Elfsborg alongside Dutch second tier Excelsior’s forward Thijs Dallinga (22), both are likely to be little more than cover. As a result, Moroccan international forward Zakaria Aboukhlal is TFC’s only major addition this summer so far. Typically a wide forward, the 22-year-old managed nine league goals in 69 games for AZ Alkmaar who finished fifth in the Eredivisie last season after he graduated PSV’s youth system in 2019. Despite some good European experience and 11 Morocco caps, including four at January’s AFCON, considering the lack of options in the rest of the squad, Aboukhlal’s signing seems odd given he’ll face stiff competition from a host of in-form forwards in the deepest area of the group. However, while it’s likely coach Philippe Montanier intends to strengthen other areas in time too, the Moroccan’s arrival suggests the coach is considering switching to a 4-2-3-1.

Squad Analysis – Toulouse enter the new campaign with an almost identical squad to their promotion season. Although TFC were comfortably the second tier’s most effective side, they won a weak division and Montanier had less to work with than Patrice Garande, who’s incarnation finished third the year before. As such, cover for a stable back four is almost non-existent while Australian international Denis Genreau is the only reliable option off the bench in midfield. There’s more attacking versatility in the forward positions that support striker Healey but Montanier’s squad is precariously thin overall. Unless TFC plan to trust a raft of promising but largely untested youngsters, like 20-year-old high-regarded Cameroonian midfielder Steve Mvoué, signings are desperately needed before September to add depth. However, an eleven which almost picks itself has poise, vision and skill throughout, although holes could quickly start to appear.

Strengths – Despite Healey’s importance as a goal threat for Montanier, three others made double figures in the league last season. Free-kick specialist, technical midfielder and the second tier’s standout player, Branco van den Boomen managed 12, while wide forwards Rafael Ratão and Ado Onaiwu managed 11 and 10 respectively. Rapidly developing winger Nathan N’Goumou (22), who supplanted the skilful pair as Healey’s first choice support act at the end of the campaign, managed eight and will be one to watch this season. Montanier’s fluid and positive 4-3-3 allows for plenty of chance creation via a trio of midfielders with vision and intelligence. Van den Boomen is joined by fellow Dutchman Stijn Spierings and Belgian Brecht Dejaegere, who can be swapped out for another forward or play further up himself. With goal threat and creativity provided by so many sources, Toulouse will be a fun watch this season.

Weaknesses – So few signings means that this TFC squad is largely devoid of Ligue 1 experience which could be exposed defensively at this level. Left-back Issiaga Sylla carries the majority of the squad’s top flight appearances but he’s proven a liability for TFC in Ligue 1 previously, while a loan with Lens also didn’t work out. Goalkeeper Maxime Dupé has seen notable first team action with Nantes but Toulouse were reportedly worried about his suitability for Ligue 1, despite another solid season, and were looking to replace him. Valerenga goalkeeper Kjetil Haug has been added as competition. Toulouse’s eclectic recruitment (they’ll likely pick 11 different nationalities at one point this season) has proven deft in recent years, adding starters from Danish football, the J-League and Slovakia to consistent success. However, whether those players are ready for such a jump in quality of opposition is uncertain.

Verdict – If Montanier can replicate his expansive, attractive style of last season, few will be as fun to watch as Toulouse in France. Led by Healey, Ngoumou and van den Boomen, they have goals, ingenuity and skill but the party could be ended by even a moderate injury crisis due to lack of depth, while even their talented first eleven is almost completely unproven at this level. However, much of the bottom half of the table is in a similar position with three promoted sides replacing the underachieving Bordeaux and Saint-Etienne this year. Within that group of clubs, few have the guile or boldness of TFC and, despite the four relegation places, Montanier will be confident of survival.

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Marko hints at another name change for AlphaTauri

Red Bull motorsport boss Helmut Marko has suggested that AlphaTauri could undergo another name change in the future.

At the end of the 2019 season, the Faenza-based outfit switched its identity from Scuderia Toro Rosso to AlphaTauri, the name of Red Bull’s fashion line affiliate.

However, the clothing line hasn’t encountered the success that was projected by Red Bull, with the F1 team doing little to impact the company’s sales.

With the AlphaTauri brand now only present in just a handful of countries, Red Bull is mulling once again a name change for its sister outfit.

“It is something we are reconsidering,” Marko told Dutch website RacingNews365.

“It is logical too. The branding of AlphaTauri has been scaled back somewhat because only in a few countries where we race AlphaTauri is actually sold. It is about three to four countries only.

“The task is simple. More money must be brought in and results improved.”

Earlier this month, German website Auto Motor und Sport reported that Red Bull’s new top brass who had succeeded Dietrich Mateschitz after the latter’s passing last year were pondering either a relocation of AlphaTauri to the UK or an outright sale of the team.

Red Bull motorsport boss Helmut Marko acknowledged that AlphaTauri was under scrutiny by Red Bull’s executives due to the team’s poor campaign in 2022.

A report commissioned by Oliver Mintzlaff, the company’s recently appointed CEO of Corporate Projects and Investments, on Red Bull’s marketing investments allegedly shed a dim light on AlphaTauri and on the team’s marketing value.

However, an outright sale of the team is an option that now appears to be off the table according to team boss Franz Tost.

“I had some very good meetings with Oliver Mintzlaff, who confirmed that the shareholders will not sell Scuderia AlphaTauri, and that Red Bull will continue supporting the team in the future,” Tost stated.

As the squad strives to shore up its finances, AlphaTauri announced last week that it had created a new ‘head of commercial’ position within the team’s management, a responsibility entrusted to Lars Stegelmann.

The German was previously chief commercial officer of the Motorsport Network, and later managed the sales team at ITR, the DTM Series organiser until 2022.

He also worked on the 2010 World Cup in South Africa and the European football association UEFA, and the original sales and marketing concept, development and implementation of the all-electric ABB FIA Formula E championship.

“Interest in Formula 1 has developed extremely well,” Tost explained. “With the support of Lars, we also want to develop our commercial activities,

“He has an exciting mix of strategic know-how, international sales experience and a great understanding of the advertising industry.”

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LIGUE 1 22/23 GUIDE | Lille – Paulo Fonseca finally heralds the start of a new era. Expect goals.

This article is taken from GFFN’s FREE 63-page 2022/23 Ligue 1 Season Preview Guide, download yours in full right here.

Key Man: Jonathan David – If Jonathan David had sustained his goal-scoring form of late 2021, when he was averaging 0.66 goals-per-game then he would’ve finished last season with around 25 goals. Instead, the Canadian got caught in a dry spell which saw him register just three goals from Christmas onwards, a main reason why Lille’s form collapsed and why the 22-year-old wasn’t sold for big money this summer. Having seemed certain to make a major move this off-season after scoring 12 before the winter break, it’s a little awkward seeing David back in a Lille shirt, especially considering his agent had ‘confirmed’ 21/22 would be “his last season” in northern France. Still, there’s room to be optimistic. After all, in two seasons at Roma new Lille manager Paulo Fonseca mined 21 goals from Edin Džeko, and David definitely has the quality to hit double figures once more. After all, not even Kylian Mbappé beat David for goals in 2021 and the fact those goals came from his head and both feet shows how lethal he is. The former Gent striker also registered the fifth most pressures per 90 minutes for Les Dogues last season, according to FBRef. Fonseca will be counting on David to pull his team up the table this year.

Signing To Watch: Mohamed Bayo – The €14.5m Lille paid for Mohamed Bayo in July was Clermont’s record sale and the sixth-highest Lille have paid in their history. It’s entirely justified, though, as, unlike David, the 24-year-old Guinean international Bayo was a regular scorer throughout last season, with his longest dry spell between any of his 14 league goals being six matches in March and April. Even then, the 6’2 striker was limited by his weak side’s poor form in that period, something Bayo will have to deal with less at Lille. He’s a clear upgrade on the ageing Burak Yılmaz and is able to offer physicality and pace alongside Jonathan David, assuming Fonseca adopts a two-striker system. There’s no excuse for a lack of goals at Stade Pierre-Mauroy.

Squad Analysis – Les Dogues had a poor season last year, falling from champions to 10th, that’s despite many expecting a bigger exodus last summer than just midfielder Boubakary Soumaré and goalkeeper Mike Maignan. This summer’s transfer window has been more taxing, as president Oliver Létang let go of key starters Sven Botman, Yılmaz, Zeki Celik and Renato Sanches plus left-back Domagoj Bradaric. That’s almost their entire defence while a first-choice goalkeeper is yet to arrive to replace departing loanee Ivo Grbić with talented Valenciennes loanee ‘keeper Lucas Chevalier’s position uncertain upon his return. Arriving alongside Bayo is prospect Alexsandro from Chaves, Jonas Martin from Rennes and Rémy Cabella from Montpellier. Although Lille’s crop of young talent in defender Tiago Djaló and forwards Timothy Weah and Angel Gomes have all grown a year older while Yusuf Yazıcı seems ready to reintegrate into the side after a loan spell at CSKA Moscow, this squad is undeniably weaker than 12 months ago, and presents a daunting task for Fonseca.

Strengths – The biggest strength Lille have going into the new season is incoming coach Fonseca’s experience and need to prove himself. Despite reaching a Europa League semi-final at Roma, the Mozambican left Italy with his reputation damaged, but his penchant for being tactically flexible could be exactly what his new side need to be competitive this season. He’ll also be happy to count on the leadership and influence of José Fonte, after the 38-year-old centre-back extended his contract for another year.

Weaknesses – Amongst Lille’s reconstruction lies a glaring hole, the position of goalkeeper. While Maignan saved eight goals more than FBRef’s post-shot expected-goals model suggested he should have conceded last season, Lille’s men in between the sticks Grbić and Léo Jardim saved 2.8 fewer goals than expected. With the Croatian returning to Spain, Lille’s most senior keeper remains Jardim. With just two seasons of first-team football in Portugal to his name, further pressure could be placed on Fonte and his defence this season. Having impressed on loan with Valenciennes in Ligue 2 last year, 20-year-old Chevalier may be Fonseca’s best option.

Verdict – It’s difficult to understate the damage caused by the financial fallout of Gérard Lopez’s ownership of the club that ended in late 2020. The title-winning eleven of 20/21 is almost completely gone, but at least, in Fonseca, LOSC have a coach who’s able to replicate the successes of other recent foreign managers who recently moved to top French sides like Jorge Sampaoli and Phillippe Clement. Fonseca can count on two of the best strikers in the league and a midfield which contains the ever-consistent Benjamin André and hotshot Premier League target Andre Onana, which should be enough to propel this side up the table without the distraction of European football.

Alex Barker

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