Monchi warns Liverpool and Real Madrid: Alisson only leaves if I come out of retirement!

Roma’s director of football, Monchi, has told the likes of Liverpool and Real Madrid that in-demand goalkeeper Alisson will only be sold if he comes out of retirement.

The Brazil international has become a much sought-after asset, with Ligue 1 champions Paris Saint-Germain reported to be another of his many suitors.

He has been dubbed ‘the Messi of goalkeepers’, with the 25-year-old custodian a performer with many years at the highest level ahead of him.

Clubs across Europe would welcome the opportunity to buy into that potential, but Monchi – who did operate between the sticks for Sevilla in his playing days – has no intention of sanctioning a sale.

He told reporters on the ongoing transfer talk: “Alisson? If he leaves, it’s just because I’ve gone back to being a goalkeeper!

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“This is the only way he’ll leave, but I don’t know if I’m ready to play again.”

Alisson conceded just 28 times in 2017-18 as Roma wrapped up a third-place finish in Serie A.

At the opposite end of the field, talismanic frontman Edin Dzeko added another 16 goals to his tally.

Edin Dzeko Roma Shakhtar Champions League

He is another to have sparked exit talk this season, with Chelsea having expressed an interest in returning the former Manchester City striker to England during the January transfer window.

Once again, though, Roma are reluctant to part with players considered to be key components in their present and future.

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Monchi added on the Serbia international: “He’ll stay with us.

“I expect him to have a similar next season to this one. We all want him to stay.”

Roma’s recruitment supremo also revealed that the club are planning to hold contract extension talks with highly rated manager Eusebio Di Francesco and Italy international full-back Alessandro Florenzi.

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Fantasy Football: Nainggolan headlines Champions League Team of the Week after two-goal performance

The semi-final round of the Champions League has now come to an end and it was the goal-fest all neutrals were hoping for. There was an historic moment in our Team of the Week as Nacho from Real Madrid made the cut with just a single point.

This was largely due to the fact that a whopping 10 goals were scored in just these two matches, but, strangely, no player other than Roma’s Radja Nainggolan scored more than one of those goals though.

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GK: Keylor Navas – Real Madrid – 1 Game, 8 Saves, 2 Goals Conceded = 4 Points

DF: Marcelo – Real Madrid – 1 Game, 1 Assist, 2 Goals Conceded = 3 Points

We knew this would be a tough round for defenders, but a player getting three points leading his position is pretty awful for Fantasy. That to the side, his assist was fantastic as his cross was perfect for Benzema to head home at the back post. The Brazilian notched a goal in the first leg as well so, with little chance of a clean sheet in the final, you should definitely look for attacking potential in your defenders.

DF: Aleksandar Kolarov – Roma – 1 Game, 1 Assist, 2 Goals Conceded = 3 Points

DF: Nacho – Real Madrid – 1 Substitute Appearance = 1 Point

Nacho Real Madrid

MF: Radja Nainggolan – Roma – 1 Game, 2 Goals = 14 Points

Roma came up just short but Nainggolan’s brace was enough to make him our Player of the Week anyway. He has not exactly been free scoring in the Champions League this season, but the Belgian stepped up in this tie with two goals and two assists against Liverpool proving his status as one of the best midfielders in Europe. Roma have all but locked up a place in next year’s competition and Nainggolan will be a very interesting Fantasy option in 2018/19.

MF: James Rodriguez – Bayern Munich – 1 Game, 1 Goal = 8 Points

MF: Sadio Mane – Liverpool – 1 Game, 1 Goal = 8 Points

MF: Joshua Kimmich – Bayern Munich – 1 Game, 1 Goal = 8 Points

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Kimmich has just had himself a ridiculous season. He has gone from a promising central midfielder to one of the best right backs in the game. The fact that he has been playing in defence should have hurt his value yet, barring something crazy happening in the final, the German will end the season as a top five midfielder in the Goal game. If he is actually listed as a defender next season, Kimmich will be a must own as he will be able to add all of those clean sheet points to his already ridiculous attacking returns.

MF: Georginio Wijnaldum – Liverpool – 1 Game, 1 Goal = 8 Points

FWD: Karim Benzema – Real Madrid – 1 Game, 2 Goals = 12 Points

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Where has this been all season? He’s having his worst campaign since joining Madrid in 2009 yet, when it really mattered, the Frenchman found his scoring boots. His brace ended up being just enough for Madrid to advance to their third straight Champions League final. Despite his struggles, it’s hard to not like a striker who will face a defence who just conceded six goals over two legs and, with so few available options remaining, will be worth an own for the next and last match of the competition.

FWD: Edin Dzeko – Roma – 1 Game, 1 Goal = 7 Points

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Roma 4 Liverpool 2 (6-7 agg): Klopp’s men set final date with Real Madrid

Liverpool booked their place to face holders Real Madrid in the Champions League final despite losing 4-2 to Roma at the Stadio Olimpico.

Jurgen Klopp’s side headed to the Italian capital with a commanding 5-2 advantage from last week’s first leg, where their Serie A opponents snatched faint hopes of a comeback by netting a pair of late away goals.

Still, Roma had no margin for error – certainly not to the magnitude of the woeful blind pass midfielder Radja Nainggolan played in the ninth minute that resulted in Sadio Mane opening the scoring.

An incredibly unfortunate James Milner own goal did not knock Liverpool off their stride, with Georginio Wijnaldum restoring their ample cushion in the 25th minute.

First-leg goalscorer Edin Dzeko got in on the act seven minutes into the second half and frantic Roma pressure followed.

The mountain proved too steep for Eusebio Di Francesco’s side to climb and the chances of a comeback to match their quarter-final heroics against Barcelona had all but evaporated by the time Nainggolan clattered in off the post four minutes from the end and dispatched a penalty deep into stoppage time.

It means only Liverpool’s pursuit of a sixth European title stands between Madrid making it three in succession.

It was a predictably forthright start from the hosts as Dzeko sent the ball skidding dangerously across the six-yard box before Alessandro Florenzi clattered a long-range effort just wide.

But Nainggolan’s mistake allowed Liverpool to further strengthen their hand, with Roberto Firmino collecting a wayward pass and streaming towards the home defence.

The Brazil international played in Mane, who showed none of his first-half skittishness from the opening leg and finished assuredly.

Following that act of self-sabotage, Roma then enjoyed a huge slice of fortune as Dejan Lovren thumped a 15th-minute clearance into the back of Milner’s head for the ball to fly past a helpless Loris Karius.

The Stadio Olimpico crowd were re-energised, but chances continued to fall Liverpool and Mane’s way – a clipped shot flying just wide from the edge of the box before Alisson denied the Senegal star at close quarters following a driving run from Andrew Robertson.

Dzeko failed to clear from the resulting corner, leaving an unmarked Wijnaldum to nod home and put the tie further beyond Roma.

Stephan El Shaarawy’s effort spun off Milner’s outstretched leg 10 minutes before the break to hit the post and Florenzi sliced wastefully wide, although those were fleeting breaks in Liverpool’s first-half control.

Karius was spared by an incorrect offside flag in the 49th minute when he dashed from his goal to bring down Dzeko in the box.

The Liverpool goalkeeper then somewhat charitably pushed El Shaarawy’s shot into Dzeko’s path for the former Manchester City striker to level on the night.

Trent Alexander-Arnold was also partially culpable on Roma’s second goal, but atoned with a brave block to deny El Shaarawy – even if replays showed the ball struck his hand.

Dzeko’s touch let him down and he arrowed a shot wide at the near post following Daniele De Rossi’s cleverly disguised 66th-minute pass.

Alisson stuck out a boot to deny his compatriot Firmino on a Liverpool attack that suggested the storm had passed.

Nainggolan’s late defiance raged against the inevitable – ripping a low drive in off the post before thrashing in a spot-kick after Liverpool substitute Ragnar Klavan was adjudged to have handled – although it was the Belgian’s earlier woe that put Liverpool on the road to Kiev despite their first loss in this season’s competition.

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FIFA 18 Ultimate Team of the Week: Dzeko leads the line

Edin Dzeko headlines the FIFA 18 Ultimate Team of the Week after his goalscoring exploits for AS Roma.

The Bosnia and Herzegovina international thrashed Chievo 4-1 at the weekend, with Dzeko netting a brace as the club strengthened their grip on third place in Serie A.

Andrej Kramaric joins Dzeko up front after scoring all three goals in Hoffenheim’s 3-1 win over Hannover 96 in the Bundesliga.

Idrissa Gana Gueye is the only Premier League representative in the starting XI after playing a starring role in Everton’s 2-0 win over Huddersfield Town.

Juan Cuadrado, meanwhile, has a position change this week, moving from right wing to right-back following his two assists in Juventus’ vital 3-2 victory over Inter.

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Other notable inclusions are Ajax’s Matthijs De Ligt, Southampton’s Dusan Tadic and Villarreal’s Carlos Bacca.

See the full squad below.


STARTING XI


FIFA 18 TOTW

GK – Pavlenka – Werder Bremen – 78>82
CB – De Ligt – Ajax – 76>87
RB – Cuadrado – Juventus – 83>86
LB – Alex Telles – FC Porto – 82>86
CB – Dante – OGC Nice – 81>86
CDM – Gueye – Everton – 83>85
CAM – Pereiro – PSV Eindhoven – 76>84
CAM – Bruno Fernandes – Sporting Lisbon – 81>84
ST – Kramaric – Hoffenheim – 81>87
ST – Dzeko – AS Roma – 84>89
ST – Petersen – Freiburg – 76>86


BENCH


GK – Julian Cuesta – Wisla Krakow – 67>76
CB – Morrison – Cardiff City – 71>82
CAM – Almiron – Atlanta United – 79>82
ST – Bacca – Villarreal – 82>84
RW – Tadic – Southampton – 80>83
ST – Ducksch – Holstein Kiel – 67>81
ST – Simeone – Fiorentina – 76>81


RESERVES


GK – Wolfli – Young Boys – 67>76
ST – McNulty – Coventry City – 64>80
ST – Frey – FC Zurich – 68>76
ST – Revell – Stevenage – 65>75
ST – Shomurodov – FC Rostov – 63>73

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‘I hope Dzeko can be Roma’s Salah’ – Di Francesco eyes ‘miracle’ Liverpool comeback

Eusebio Di Francesco is looking for Edin Dzeko to inspire a Roma turnaround in the Champions League semi-final second leg against Liverpool, hoping he can be the Serie A club’s answer to Mohamed Salah.

Liverpool ran out 5-2 winners at Anfield in the first leg, with Salah starring against his old club with a brace, though their concession of two late goals gives Roma a glimmer of hope ahead of the return fixture in Rome.

As such, a 3-0 win for Roma will be enough for them to qualify for the final, and they can take encouragement from the fact they defeated Barcelona by the same scoreline after losing 4-1 in their first meeting in the quarter-final.

And Di Francesco is looking to Dzeko to lead from the front, just as he did against Barca, with Roma aiming to produce another unlikely turnaround.

“All the players need to feel responsible and be pleased about that [responsibility],” Di Francesco told reporters in his pre-match news conference.

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“As coach, I’m pleased to have this responsibility, but the players are the ones doing it on the pitch.

“Even more so with Dzeko – I hope he can be our Salah from the first leg, so he can pull things back and determine a great comeback. A player of his quality, ability – it’s right that he has this responsibility.”

Roma are yet to concede a goal at home in the Champions League this season and while they face an uphill task to progress, Di Francesco believes the club’s supporters can play a major part in helping the team complete “another miracle” in Europe.

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“The fact we’ve conceded so few chances to opponents at home in Europe is due to our support. We’ve only really struggled against Atletico Madrid. Since then, we’ve managed to contain, and I hope we see the same tomorrow [Wednesday].

“Repeating is always difficult, but we have the right mentality and our supporters can help us pull off another miracle.”

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