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Maradona: I'll have a word with Infantino about Messi's ban


The four-match ban handed to Lionel Messi for insulting an official surprised Diego Maradona, who insisted that the Barcelona forward is not the kind of person to lose his temper and that he would discuss the matter with FIFA president Gianni Infantino.
Pointing to the way the 29-year-old conducts himself with his teammates, Messi's former national team coach expressed his shock at the incident. 
"It surprised me because he is a sensational kid who doesn't complain about anything," the Argentine legend told 'La Oral Deportiva'.
"He is a courteous person and he is a teddy bear with his teammates and with everyone."You have to be part of the dressing room or a training session to know if it is the kind of thing which truly reflects him."
Although he admitted that the insult was a serious one, Maradona was convinced that a four-match punishment was excessive. "Even though the words were strong and serious, I think [the ban] can be changed," he said.
"I will speak with Infantino, as I think it's terrible."Four matches is an awful lot."
He also insisted that he'd had no input in the sanction, despite his role as an ambassador of FIFA.
"The ban started with CONMEBOL," he told the programme."I investigated and asked about it, but I didn't influence anything."
Finally, the 56-year-old analysed the detrimental impact that Messi's spell on the sidelines could have on the Albiceleste World Cup qualifying hopes, bringing up the impact losing Zinedine Zidane had on France in the 2006 final.
"I would compare it with Zidane's headbutt on [Marco] Materazzi," he said. "He left France with 10 men and was no longer the best player at that World Cup."The absence of Messi is decisive."There is one Argentina with him and another without him."
Messi will have to sit out his nation's next three qualifiers, unless his ban can be reduced.

Yuri: Real Madrid want the world's best and I'm not at that level yet


A possible transfer to Real Madrid is not something that will go to Yuri Berchiche's head, as the Real Sociedad man admitting that he's still got some way to go before being ready for a jump to the summit of LaLiga.
After the MARCA story highlighting Los Blancos' interest in the former Real Union and Cheltenham Town left-back, Yuri's contentment in San Sebastian hit home as the place he expects to stay for the foreseeable future.
"When I got out of bed, I had a lot of messages on my phone," the 27-year-old told MARCA of his life after the link emerged. 
"I know that one day I'll be talked about and the next day someone else, so I never think too much of it."At Real Madrid they look for the world's best and I honestly don't think I'm among them yet for my position. 
"Sincerely, I think I'm still a little far away from them and I have many years still to enjoy my time at Sociedad, where I'm very happy and hope to give an even higher level than I have so far."
Yuri, who considers Atletico Madrid's Filipe Luis to be the best left-back in the world at the moment, insists that he is focused on La Real for the final 10 games of the season.
"I tend to stay out of these things, and the coach [Eusebio Sacristan] has asked me to leave everything to one side and focus on achieving our goal of getting into Europe, nothing would make me happier right now," he added.
"I have a contract until 2020 and at the end of the season I shall meet the club and we'll determine what everybody wants. I think things have changed a bit since my last renewal so we'll see what everybody wants to do."

Mid-season international friendlies don't make sense to Mourinho


Scheduling mid-season international friendlies alongside qualification matches makes no sense, says Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho, after defenders Phil Jones and Chris Smalling picked up injuries on England duty last week.
Smalling started in England's friendly defeat in Germany but then had to pull out of the squad with a leg injury, while Jones suffered a toe injury in training.
With both players missing England's 2-0 World Cup qualifier victory over Lithuania, Mourinho questioned the need for friendlies during the domestic season."I am totally against the friendly matches," he told Sky Sports. 
"I think friendly matches for the national team only make sense before the final phases. "But mid-season friendly matches mixed with qualification matches, I don't think that makes sense."
United will be without both defenders for Saturday's Premier League clash against West Bromwich Albion, while midfielder Paul Pogba and captain Wayne Rooney are also on the treatment table.
Leading scorer Zlatan Ibrahimovic and midfielder Ander Herrera will miss the weekend's game as they serve the final game of their suspensions.
With 13 United players involved in international games over the past week, Mourinho said his side were at a disadvantage against eighth-placed West Brom.
"If you compare our situation with our opponents, West Bromwich Albion, only one player on international duty," he added. "They had time to work, time to rest and prepare. It's going to be hard."
United are fifth in the league, four points behind fourth-placed Liverpool with two games in hand.


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