Written By Onyeka Daniel
For the second time in a row, the European football governing body, UEFA is considering the option of moving the final of the UEFA champions League from Turkey due to political activities in the country and the perceived unrest it could bring so close to the staging of the final.
The Champions League final is due to take place in Istanbul on June 10, but less than a month out UEFA have held talks about potentially moving the fixture.
The Istanbul Stadium is set to host the match for a second time, having notably staged the 2005 Champions League final which saw Liverpool complete a remarkable comeback to beat AC Milan on penalties.
The stadium was also due to host the 2020 Champions League final where Bayern Munich beat PSG 1-0. However, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the final was moved to the Estadio da Luz in Lisbon, Portugal as UEFA staged a ‘final eight knock-out tournament’ to minimize the need for travel.
As a result of Istanbul not hosting that year’s final, they were named as the venue for the 2023 Champions League final. However, according to recent reports, the game could once again be moved to Lisbon if there is unrest in Turkey’s capital following the presidential election.
The first round of the election is due to take place on May 14 and the report states there are ‘concerns about the prospect of civil disturbances’ if current President Recep Tayyip Erdogan loses.
Erdogan’s rival Kemal Kilicdaroglu currently has a slender five per cent lead in the polls, meaning the election may need a second round. That would take place on May 28, just two weeks before the Champions League final, and it is claimed UEFA have made ‘an informal approach’ to the Portuguese Football Federation about moving the game to Lisbon.
The report adds that UEFA would be ‘extremely reluctant’ to make the change, but their hand could be forced as fan safety is their main concern.
For the final, four teams are on course to qualify with EPL side, Manchester City to host Laliga giants, Real Madrid at the Etihad stadium innthe second leg, the first leg ended 1-1 with both sides having equal chance of progressing while in the other game, Inter Milan hold a 2-0 advantage over their city rivals, AC Milan and the Nerazzuri will be at home for the second leg even if they share the same ground, the San Siro stadium.
Chelsea are eyeing a move for Crystal Palace winger, Wilfred Zaha and are prepared to pursue a deal for him in the coming summer transfer window as part of their squad revamping, but it could also spell trouble for expensive signing, Mykhaylo Mudryk.
Mudryk has been unable to nail down a regular place in the Chelsea team since his £88million move during the January transfer and is yet to score a goal in his new team’s colours.
Journalist Dean Jones is of the opinion that Zaha is one of Chelsea’s potential transfer targets this summer, as the Ivorian’s contract at Selhurst Park expires at the end of the season.
The Blues are currently stacked in terms of forwards as in addition to Mudryk they have Raheem Sterling, Kai Havertz, Noni Madueke, Christian Pulisic, Mason Mount, Hakim Ziyech and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang among others all on their books, but many of them are expected to depart from the club in the summer as part of a massive restructuring at the club.
While Zaha would command hefty wages, bringing in a player of his quality on a free transfer would no-doubt appeal to the hierarchy at a time when they on the edge of financial fair play rules and it is unknown whether they will be able to continue spending with the way that they did this season.
Zaha has been Palace’s star man since returning from Manchester United in 2014 and his quality in the Premier League has been undeniable, as Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp admitted that he is “a world-class player” following one of the Reds’ clashes with Palace.
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