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Kylian Mbappe was benched 'for protection', says Monaco manager Leonardo Jardim

Monaco coach Leonardo Jardim says striker Kylian Mbappe was left on the bench last weekend "to protect him" rather than as a punishment.
The 18-year-old reportedly wants away from the French champions, with Paris Saint-Germain his favoured destination but Real Madrid also reportedly ready to pay £160m.
Mbappe started Monaco's first two competitive matches of the season but sat on the bench for the duration of the club's 4-1 Ligue 1 victory at Dijon on Sunday.
Jardim said after that match that dropping Mbappe was a "decision by the club" but the Portuguese coach told media on Wednesday that it was not taken to punish the French international.
"We never punish our players. That is not the right word. 'Protected' is a better word. When so many things are happening around an 18-year-old kid, it is our responsibility to protect him," said Jardim.
"That means me, Vadim [Vasilyev, the vice-president] and the sporting director [Antonio Cordon]. It is always to protect the squad, the player and the club.
"Kylian is not at 100 percent. He is not in great form. But that is to be expected of a kid who is just 18... Even you [journalists], if tomorrow another newspaper offers you a contract where you will earn 15 times more, you won't be so good when it comes to tapping the keys on your computer keyboard."
Mbappe, whose Monaco contract runs until June 2019, could again be left out when his side travel to Metz on league duty on Friday evening.
"The philosophy at AS Monaco is to play those who are at 100 percent and totally available to the squad," said the coach, whose side have won their opening two Ligue 1 matches.

Champions League round-up: Napoli beat nine-man Nice 2-0 in first leg to take control of tie

NAPOLI took charge of their Champions League play-off against nine-man Nice on a steamy night in southern Italy.
Belgium striker Dries Mertens was their hero, firing the Italian team ahead against the big-spending French side then winning a second-half penalty.
Nice were without injured star Mario Balotelli and Dutch legend Wesley Sneijder, who joined them last week but is still not match fit.
Mertens broke the deadlock when he beat Nice goalkeeper Yoan Cardinale to a 13th-minute through-ball and fired home from a tight angle.
The Italians dominated the first half, which got underway with the temperature close to 30 degrees, but could not find a second goal.
But with 20 minutes left of the game, Arsenal target Jorginho made it 2-0 from the spot.
The penalty was awarded after Christophe Jallet crudely brought down Mertens, although the challenge seemed to be outside the box.
Things got worse for Nice when Vincent Koziello was sent off for a heavy foul on Piotr Zielinski – and Alassane Plea then received a second yellow card for protesting.
Nice are trying to get into the group stage having not appeared in Europe’s elite tournament since 1960.
Arsenal old boys Emmanuel Adebayor and Gael Clichy could not prevent Turkish side Basaksehir Istanbul – in the Champions League for the first time – losing at home to Sevilla.
The Spanish team, who are looking to reach the group stage for the third year running, took the lead when left-back Sergio Escudero drilled low into the corner from just inside the box.
Amid heavy rain, Eljero Elia equalised for the Turkish side, firing home after a great run.
But French striker Ben Yedder flicked home a cross by ex-Manchester City winger Jesus Navas to put the La Liga side in the driving seat.

Valon Behrami leaves Watford for Udinese on two-year deal

Valon Behrami has left Watford to join Italian side Udinese on a two-year deal.
Udinese have the option to extend Behrami's deal by a further year after signing him for an undisclosed fee.
Former West Ham midfielder Behrami joined Watford in 2015 from Hamburg and made 43 Premier League appearances in his two seasons at Vicarage Road.
"We closed the deal very quickly, " Udinese director general Franco Collavino said after signing Behrami, whose last spell in the Italian top flight was with Napoli between 2012 and 2014.
"Udinese wanted a player with these characteristics and with this experience in our league, Serie A, where Behrami wanted to go back to test himself.
"This is an important purchase for technical expertise, an investment for this season and the project we are pursuing."
A short statement from Watford also confirmed the departure of the Swiss international.
"Watford thanks Valon for his efforts at the club and wishes him well for the future," the club statement read.

Sheffield Wednesday 1-1 Sunderland: Black Cats continue unbeaten start

Sunderland's Sky Bet Championship credentials were put to the test but they emerged with credit after a hard-fought 1-1 draw at Sheffield Wednesday.
After a horrible campaign last year, and a pre-season littered with problems, the Black Cats were not fancied to be much of a threat on their return to the second tier, but under the guidance of streetwise Simon Grayson they took four points from their opening two games.
They looked like following up their win at Norwich on Saturday with another impressive three points at Hillsborough after George Honeyman's sweet fourth-minute strike and 70 minutes of control.
But David Jones' stunning 30-yard drive brought Wednesday level and then the Owls launched an onslaught, with Gary Hooper hitting the crossbar.
Sunderland somehow held on, though, and will be delighted to leave South Yorkshire with a point and their unbeaten record in tact, while also denying the Owls a first win.
It had been the perfect start for Grayson's men as they needed only four minutes to go ahead - and three of those had seen Wednesday right-back Jack Hunt receive treatment.
While Hunt was still off the pitch, Aiden McGeady found space down the left and with Owls goalkeeper Keiren Westwood recklessly charging out, he squared for Honeyman who drilled home after composing himself.
Wednesday, who again left Fernando Forestieri out of their squad, did offer some response, but only had a stabbed Sam Winnall effort that Jason Steele easily saved to show for it.
And it was Sunderland who had two great chances to extend their lead, but Lewis Grabban put a free header wide from a good position while Brendan Galloway shot straight at Westwood when things opened up for him in the penalty area.
The second half took time to come to life, but the Black Cats had another chance to go further in front when James Vaughan blazed wide from 16 yards.
And when Wednesday rallied the visitors were punished, with Jones levelling the scores in sublime fashion. Picking up a loose ball 30 yards out, he unleashed an unstoppable drive that sailed into the top corner to open his Owls account in style.
That was the trigger for a late siege on the Sunderland goal as Carlos Carvalhal's side desperately pushed for their first three points of the season.
Jordan Rhodes sent a header flying over, while Hooper was somehow denied in a goalmouth scramble before he sent a looping volley against the woodwork.
For the majority of this game Sunderland looked like recording back-to-back away league wins for the first time since January and February 2014, but when the dust settles on this one, they might just see it as a valuable point.

Storm wrestling their way to title: Hunt

They have three of the best players in the game's history and one of the finest coaches the NRL has seen yet Broncos hooker Ben Hunt says that the reason the Storm are unbackable premiership favourites is their status as the best wrestlers in the Telstra Premiership.
Writing in the Round 24 issue of Big League, Hunt's comments have the potential to set up an explosive finals match-up or even grand final showdown as the two top teams in the competition through 23 rounds gear up for a premiership tilt.
The Storm can wrap up the minor premiership by ending Newcastle's winning streak at three this Saturday afternoon and in identifying Melbourne as the team to beat Hunt says the other contenders have a major battle to overcome their proficiency in slowing down the ruck.
"Melbourne are clear favourites, and they've been the benchmark all year," Hunt says in this week's issue of Big League.
"There are a lot of things that make them so good, but the thing Melbourne do best is their wrestle.
"They're the best in the game at it and everyone knows.
"You can't get a roll on against them because they wrestle so well."
Although the Broncos are cruising along very nicely in second position Hunt is also looking over his shoulder at a team he believes can cause plenty of carnage come finals time, and could even win the 2017 Telstra Premiership.
A loss to the Raiders this weekend in Canberra could see Penrith drop out of the top eight altogether but other than minor premiership-bound Melbourne the Panthers are the ones Hunt says other teams should be most worried about.
Currently riding the momentum of a six-game winning streak that has them sitting in sixth position heading into Round 24, the Panthers face fellow finals aspirants Canberra, St George Illawarra and Manly Warringah and the Brisbane No.9 has seen enough to make them premiership contenders should they qualify for the finals.
"The Panthers are one of the most dangerous attacking sides in the competition when everything clicks," Hunt says.
"Matt Moylan is great and Nathan Cleary has done a great job steering the side around.
"Penrith are the side no team will want to play in the finals and I believe they're a real smoky."
At the other end of the spectrum, many have questioned whether the bite has been taken out of the Sharks' premiership defence on the back of their 32-10 loss to the Broncos last week but Hunt is not one of them.
Pleased with how the Broncos defence handled Cronulla's attack, Hunt said that it was silly to suggest the Sharks can't bounce back and be there again on grand final day.
"At the Broncos we've been able to score plenty of points, especially over the past fortnight, but the most pleasing thing has been our defence," Hunt says.
"Attitude is the main thing for us, we've worked really hard on coming out and defending well at the start of games because we know our attack will follow.
"Cronulla have hit a rough patch in their season, but they're still a major threat. Writing the Sharks off just because they've dropped a few games is foolish, because they did the same thing leading into the finals last year."

John Longmire sits alongside Alastair Clarkson as the AFL coach of the modern era

Because he sits outside the Melbourne football bubble, we often don't hear a whole lot about John Longmire. But what 'Horse' has been able to do with Sydney this season has been nothing short of remarkable.
From 0-6 to start their campaign, the Swans are now right back in the finals hunt and if they can beat the Crows on their home deck tonight they should be considered premiership favourites.
Since that disastrous start, Longmire's men have lost just twice to Hawthorn, a team they probably won't need to worry about in September. Having a number of senior players returning from injury in the second half of the year has certainly helped Sydney's cause. But no matter how many guys you get back, it doesn't mean belief and confidence automatically returns with them.
The Swans' resurgence proves the relationships and trust Longmire has built with his players must be incredibly strong, and that is the mark of a great coach.
He's instilled a 'never say die' attitude that was evident during the victory over Essendon back in round 14, when they came back from 19 points down with just a few minutes remaining. If Sydney didn't win that game, they'd probably be in danger of missing out on September altogether.
It's funny that as teammates many years ago, I never thought John would be a senior coach. Having said that, he was someone I looked up to in our early days at North Melbourne, after he booted 98 goals in a season as a 19-year-old.
A country lad, he was a very serious person, but also someone who got along with everyone and was very loyal. While Horse was the kind of guy who wouldn't say a whole lot in team meetings, when he did people would listen. He had a strong voice and a strong personality, and I've got no doubt he's also inherited a few traits from Denis Pagan.
It seems some coaches in the AFL might be lacking a certain fear factor, but not Longmire. He has a look that can go straight through you, and, while times have changed to an extent, if you have that element of intimidation you should use it to your advantage. 
It's worth noting he also has one of the smallest coaching groups in the AFL with just seven assistant and development personnel, compared to the 12 Ross Lyon has at Fremantle. Among Longmire's assistants, though, is former Kangaroos teammate John Blakey. If Longmire is anything like Pagan, then Blakey would have copped his share of cooks over the journey, but he's a trusted sounding board and calming influence in the box.
Central to the Swans' resurgence under Longmire this year has been the evolution of the team. In his seven years as coach, it's not the first time Longmire has managed to reinvent his side, but this season in particular we've seen the emergence of many young players. The likes of Oliver Florent, Nic Newman, Lewis Melican and Will Hayward have all been introduced to senior footy, with Hayward already one of the coach's favourites.
Zak Jones, George Hewitt and Tom Papley have also benefited from increased exposure. While some of their opportunities have been forced on the club due to injury, their progress has been above expectations.
Longmire has also managed to ween the Swans off their reliance on Buddy Franklin, which has made them much more dangerous inside 50. John would know more than most the problems of kicking to your main target too often, given he found himself in that situation in his early days at Arden Street. Your greatest strength can quickly become your biggest weakness, but Longmire has managed to transform his side's offence.
Having Sam Reid back has been important, while Papley, Isaac Heeney and Gary Rohan now form a really dynamic forward-line alongside Buddy. Add all of that up, and I think John sits comfortably alongside Alastair Clarkson as the greatest coach of the modern era.
While he might not have Clarko's four premierships, Longmire is yet to miss September in his time at the club, making three grand finals and winning one. And it would take a brave person to back against him adding to that tally this season.


Sergio Busquets says new Barcelona signings 'welcome' amid Philippe Coutinho link

Sergio Busquets said any new signings would be "welcome" as Barcelona continue to be linked with Philippe Coutinho and Ousmane Dembele.
While Coutinho remained absent from Liverpool's 2-1 Champions League qualifier win over Hoffenheim, Busquets was discussing the departure of Neymar and his potential replacement in a press conference.
Ahead of the Spanish Super Cup second leg against Real Madrid, Busquets said: "We try to improve the team regardless of the result of the Super Cup match.
"Those who come will be welcome. After Neymar's departure, we know that we need mostly offensive players, but we need to improve in all positions and aspects.
"With Neymar's departure evidently the team lost an attacking level, because you realise the footballer that is Neymar, there everyone will agree.
"About that we have Messi-dependence, in the end when you have the best player in the world in your team you know that the more he participates the better for the team."
Coutinho, who was present at Liverpool's Melwood training ground on Tuesday but has been out with a back injury, handed in a transfer request in pursuit of a move to Barcelona last week.
The Catalonian club have also been pursuing a deal for Dortmund's Dembele for a fee in the region of £100m.