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How Barcelona superstars Gerard Piqué and Lionel Messi tried to recruit Nigerian midfielder John Ogu to play for their club in Spain

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John Ogu was startled by a message he received from Gerard Piqué’s Instagram account sometime in August 2019. He didn’t believe it, so he thought it might have been from a hacker.

It, however, turned out to be Piqué and some conversations with the Barcelona legend later, Ogu was on the cusp of a move back to Spain.

The encounter with the Spanish World Cup-winning defender came at a time when Ogu was without a club having left Israeli side Hapoel Be’er Sheva after a successful five-year stint.

At home after representing Nigeria at the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) and while waiting on his next move, Piqué hit him up.

I woke up one day and I got a message from Piqué from his handle on Instagram. To be honest with you, I was shocked. I thought maybe it was some hacker that had sent me a message,” the midfielder told Pulse in an Instagram Live interview.

So I was kinda shocked and worried in a way. I was with few of my friends so I had to speak with my friends, ‘look at the guy that sent me a message, this is Piqué, are you sure the account is not hacked?

“I had to even post it out on Instagram Stories that ‘hacked Piqué account sent me a message’. So it was kind of weird.

The next day, Piqué sent him a message again.

But then he got back to me again the next day. So it was basically that he, (LionelMessi, (CescFabregas own a team in some country that is close to Spain and they play in the third division of Spain, so he wanted me to go play for the team and everything,” Ogu said.

Piqué in December 2018, through his company Kosmos Holding Group, completed his purchase of FC Andorra, a football club based in Encamp, Andorra who play in the Spanish third division.

A couple of weeks after he took ownership of the club, two of his close friends Messi and Fabregas bought shares at the club.

It was FC Andorra that Piqué tried to recruit Ogu for.

So we spoke for a while and he told me the plans of the club, the project and everything, so I was really looking forward to it,” Ogu said.

The deal, however, did not go through and Ogu believed it was because the club couldn’t afford him.

“I didn’t hear from them, maybe obviously they felt like I might cost a lot. It was just a discussion on coming to their team, it didn’t happen,” the 32-year-old said.

Ogu remained clubless for six months before he joined Saudi Arabian side Al-Adalah in January. The Nigerian midfielder has made seven appearances so far for the Saudi Professional League side.

Source: Pulse

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Union Berlin 0-2 Bayern Munich: Lewandowski hits 40-goals mark as champions cruise

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Bayern Munich recommenced their Bundesliga title defence with a 2-0 win at Union Berlin, with Robert Lewandowski reaching the 40-goal mark for a fifth successive season on his return from a knee injury.

Hansi Flick’s men had been put under a little pressure by Borussia Dortmund’s 4-0 thrashing of Schalke on Saturday to go within a point of the pacesetters, but Bayern picked up where they left off before the coronavirus pause – Lewandowski and Benjamin Pavard securing the points.

Although Bayern were guilty of a somewhat slow start, once they found their groove the champions played some fine football and were deserving of the lead when Lewandowski – who likely would have missed most of the rest of the season were it not for the lengthy hiatus – rolled home his penalty with 40 minutes played.

Although the visitors failed to pile on the misery against a Union side who offered little in attack after the first 10 minutes, they did eventually wrap up the victory late on with Pavard’s header, Flick’s side restoring their four-point cushion.

Union looked the sharper of the two sides in the early exchanges, with Marius Bulter testing Manuel Neuer and Anthony Ujah sending a rasping drive just over.

But Bayern grew into the encounter – Thomas Muller having a goal disallowed for offside in the 19th minute, before Union goalkeeper Rafal Gikiewicz got just enough on Alphonso Davies’ low cross to prevent Lewandowski a tap-in.

Their dominance eventually paid off late in the first half, as Neven Subotic clumsily caught Leon Goretzka in the box while attempting to clear and Lewandowski confidently slotted in the spot-kick.

The contest followed a similar pattern after the restart and Bayern nearly got a second – Goretzka lashing a fierce strike just wide of the bottom-left corner after a one-two with the excellent Thomas Muller.

Union’s hopes of rescuing a late draw were ended when Pavard headed in Joshua Kimmich’s right-wing with 10 minutes to go.

What does it mean? Bayern have little problem producing a response

Dortmund win on Saturday was impressive and will have given Bayern a reminder that they are up for a fight, but Die Roten’s performance on Sunday was laudable for different reasons.

Despite having over two months off and coming back against a physical side, some of Bayern’s football was gorgeous. While they only managed two goals, you never got the impression they were playing at full tilt.

Muller a delight

While he will not necessarily get the plaudits, Muller was in fine form on Sunday. The experienced forward regularly popped up in dangerous spaces and his use of the ball was excellent, summed up by his two key passes – one being a clever improvised effort to tee up Goretzka in the second half.

Subotic pays the price

Players could be forgiven for a little rustiness given the circumstances, but it cost Subotic – and Union – dear. The former Dortmund centre-back gave away the penalty that allowed Bayern the lead as he failed to react quickly enough to clear.

What’s next?

Bayern return to the Allianz Arena next weekend when they host Eintracht Frankfurt. Union travel to local rivals Hertha for only the second Berlin derby between the clubs in Bundesliga history.

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Chelsea star Callum Hudson-Odoi arrested after alleged row with model during lockdown breach

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Chelsea star Callum Hudson-Odoi has been arrested after an alleged row with a model. The England international, 19, was arrested by Metropolitan Police in the early hours of Sunday morning at his West London apartment after officers investigated a call from the woman in question. Hudson-Odoi was arrested by officers and taken into custody.

Chelsea declined to comment when contacted by the Evening Standard, but a spokesperson for the Met Police said: “Police and London Ambulance Service were called at 03:53hrs on Sunday 17 May to a report of an unwell woman.”

Hudson-Odoi has been spending lockdown at home, with professional football in England suspended because of the coronavirus pandemic. He was one the first footballers to test positive for Covid-19, but experienced only minor symptoms.

Speaking at the start of April, he said: “I had the virus which has cleared now. I fully feel good, I feel fit, so I am feeling back to myself so it is all good. “I had it [the illness] three weeks ago now I think, on a Monday when I felt a bit hot and I was thinking this is a bit unusual, why do I feel this hot. The next day I was feeling back to normal.

“I thought it was just a minor temperature thing, but obviously it wasn’t. I said to myself this wasn’t actually that bad, the symptoms, and I said to myself “I feel good, I feel better.”

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Messi hails Martinez

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Over 600 career goals, 10 La Liga titles, four UEFA Champions League trophies, six Ballon d’Or awards – Lionel Messi’s list of accomplishments seem never-ending. Here’s a look at some of the Argentine’s spectacular accolades so far.

All statistics correct as of Dec. 3, 2019.   

Lionel Messi described Lautaro Martinez as a “very complete forward” amid growing links to LaLiga champions Barcelona.

Inter star Martinez has been tipped to leave the Nerazzurri for Barca, with the Spanish giants reportedly determined to sign a long-term replacement for veteran Luis Suarez.

Messi has previously hailed Argentina team-mate Martinez, who had scored 16 goals in 31 games across all competitions in 2019-20 before the coronavirus pandemic brought sport to a standstill.

Asked about Martinez, Barca superstar Messi told Mundo Deportivo: “If I’m honest I don’t know very well if there were or are negotiations right now, I have no idea. 

“I think I already mentioned it, that Lautaro is an impressive striker, especially because I think he is a very complete forward. 

“He is strong, he dribbles well, he scores goals, he knows how to protect the ball …But well, we will have to see what happens finally with him and with other players.”

On transfers amid links with former star and Paris Saint-Germain forward Neymar, Messi added: “There are a few people at the club who are in charge of the theme of signings and they are the ones who select who they think are best for the team.

“It’s obvious that the situation we are in will make the market a bit strange and you have to be sure to improve on what we have.”

Barca were two points clear of bitter rivals Real Madrid through 27 matches when LaLiga was postponed in March due to COVID-19.

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