‘A downgrade’: Football fans scoff at prospect of Spain legend Sergio Ramos’ proposed switch from Real Madrid to Manchester City

Fans have mocked Manchester City over a mooted move to sign Sergio Ramos, blasting boss Pep Guardiola’s transfer record and the defeated finalists’ Champions League record compared to Real Madrid, the club where Ramos is a legend.

With the dust barely settled on the City’s agonizing 1-0 loss to Premier League rivals Chelsea in Porto, it seems that Guardiola and his backroom staff are now considering which new additions they can make to their squad for the upcoming 2021/2022 season.

The English champions are mulling over a two-year contract for the soon-to-be free agent, with the option of a third season and the guarantee of playing Major League Soccer for the American branch of the City group, New York City FC, according to ESPN.

At a meeting with Real Madrid president Florentino Perez on Sunday, stern words are expected to be had over whether the skipper, who has been overlooked for Luis Enrique’s Spain squat at Euro 2020, stays at the Bernabeu beyond the expiry of his current deal on June 30.

Until then, however, Guardiola is said to believe that “a footballer with Ramos’ qualities would increase the competitiveness and experience of the squad in such high-profile matches [as the Champions League final]”.

But not everyone is impressed by the idea.

Fans of Madrid and Ramos have suggested that a switch to City for the 35-year-old would be a “downgrade” to “the smallest club in England”, changing between teams who have a respective European title count of 13-0 in Madrid’s favor.

Others have accused Guardiola of over-reaching. 

“Signing people who’ve won the Champions League previously won’t make Man City win. They need to understand this,” said one.

“Pep spending more money… and he still won’t win the UCL,” remarked another, as a cynic asked: “How many defenders does this guy want?”

“Ramos and Pep won’t work,” a reader lamented, given the Catalan’s history as one of the Seville native’s greatest rivals while he was regularly managing Barcelona in El Clasico against Madrid.

It was not all doom and gloom, though.

While a considerable number of City fans expressed sadness about the implications of the move for the future of England center back John Stones, who has been in fantastic form, they also salivated over the prospect of a partnership between Ramos and breakout star Ruben Dias.

With the World Cup and double-Euros victor also linked to PSG, the City of Manchester Stadium giants are one of the few outfits in a post-Covid landscape that could meet Ramos’ wage demands, and will be keeping an eye out for how negotiations with Perez advance.

Perez is reluctant to provide the two-year deal Ramos wants – but City can offer and, according to the rumors, are ready to step in.

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Sergio Ramos responded after Spain boss Luis Enrique left him out of the Euro 2020 squad. © Reuters
‘It hurts’: Ousted Real Madrid star Sergio Ramos responds to shock omission from Spain Euro 2020 squad

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‘Key issues’ unresolved in nuclear deal discussions but progress made, Iran spokesman says

Though progress has been made and negotiations are not in a stalemate, the Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman said key issues remain unresolved in the country’s discussions to return to the conditions of the 2015 nuclear deal.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh said at a press conference on Monday that the United States – which withdrew from the nuclear deal in 2018 under former President Donald Trump – “has to decide once and for all whether it wants to continue the legacy of the previous administration.”

Iran began increasing its enriched uranium stockpile after the Trump administration withdrew from the deal and imposed sanctions on the country. Though Biden has signaled his interest in returning the US to the deal, he has called on Iran to go back to its original compliance first.

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It remains clear that how the US lifts its sanctions is one of the biggest “key issues” at play, with Khatibzadeh informing reporters that sanctions should be lifted and then “verified by Iran” before the country walks back on its “nuclear steps.”

Khatibzadeh insisted there was “no deadlock in the Vienna talks,” and added that Iran is “in no hurry to reach an agreement” and “will not allow the negotiations to be attritional.”

“We proceed with the negotiations in Vienna with necessary care and meticulousness. Every round could have been the last,” he said. “But because there remained some issues, they were extended to the next.”

The ministry spokesman also declared that if “the remaining key issues” are resolved, the current round of negotiations could be “the last round.”

Last Tuesday, Iranian government spokesman Ali Rabiei said he was optimistic about negotiations and that “general agreements have been reached on major disputes.”

“On the lifting of sanctions, the remaining cases are very minor, and given the negotiation process, we are optimistic about resolving the remaining minor and practical cases,” he added.

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FILE PHOTO: A gas flare on an oil production platform is seen alongside an Iranian flag in the Persian Gulf
Iran’s return to oil markets is imminent

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UK nursery school calls police on 4yo boy over smartwatch in classroom, deeming it ‘a recording device’

The head teacher at a nursery school in Essex called the police over a four-year-old boy wearing a smartwatch, confiscating the device over safety concerns because it could take pictures and record video.

When Kim Hall, head of Henham and Ugley Primary and Nursery School, discovered that little Ethan Seaman was wearing a smartwatch in the classroom earlier this month, she told him to remove the gadget and then confiscated it. She then called the police to report a recording device in the classroom, citing the safeguarding policy issued by the local education authority.

All safeguarding concerns are dealt with following council guidelines, policies and procedures,” she was quoted by local media as saying.

The boy’s parents were outraged, saying the head teacher called the police claiming that the device could record material for paedophiles. They said they were unaware that a smartwatch was not allowed at school and insisted there were no pictures or videos stored on the device, which they said the teacher hadn’t even checked anyway. They went on to describe the teacher’s reaction as complete overkill. “Ethan can barely clean his own teeth, so the idea he can use the camera watch to record images is ludicrous,” the Sun quoted the boy’s mum as saying.

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According to the watch manufacturer, the device – a gift from the boy’s grandmother – is designed for kids aged four and older and has two cameras to capture videos and take pictures. The device has no wi-fi or Bluetooth which, the manufacturer says, ensures that the content is secure. 

Local police confirmed that the safeguarding concern was reported, but they said it was not a policing matter and therefore no crime was recorded.

The family said they understood that recording devices could be used in a harmful way to procure images of children, but called the insinuation that they were involved in sinister activity “dangerous.” The couple distributed leaflets to other parents outside of the nursery the next day, highlighting the handling of the case by the school and warning them to make sure their children don’t wear similar smartwatches.

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Some parents supported the head teacher’s actions, however, saying that a four-year-old shouldn’t be wearing a smartwatch to the nursery and the head teacher was just doing her job. “If the parents have nothing to hide, why would you be worried about the police knowing about it? She should be being praised for doing the right thing”, the Bishop’s Stortford Independent quoted one parent as saying. Another said they felt the boy’s parents going as far as taking the matter to the press was an overreaction and “completely outrageous.”

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Russia may be cut off from SWIFT banking payment system as part of West's ‘spiral of sanctions,’ warns country's foreign ministry

Russian banks may be blocked from using SWIFT, a payment system that enables reliable and secure financial transactions, as part of restrictions against Moscow, in what one official has called a potential “spiral of sanctions.”

“It’s no secret that there are threats, primarily from the United States, to disconnect Russia from the SWIFT system,” said Dmitry Birichevsky, director of the Economic Cooperation Department of the Russian Foreign Ministry.

Speaking on RIA Novosti on Monday, the diplomat noted that Russia has concerns that SWIFT could get caught up in a “spiral of sanctions,” led by Washington.

However, the senior official doesn’t think America will act on this threat any time soon.

“I’m actually confident that we won’t be disconnected from SWIFT anytime soon, and maybe never,” he said, noting that Russia would be able to come to payment agreements with their trading partners anyway.

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“Since 2014, Russia has been working on its own payment system. This system already exists,” he explained. “We all use the MIR card. It is also accepted in a number of neighboring countries and in Turkey. Negotiations are also underway with other partners.”

Last month, politicians from the European Parliament voted in favor of a resolution to condemn what they called Russia’s “military posturing close to the country’s border with Ukraine.” The MEPs agreed that, “should military build-up lead to an invasion,” Moscow should be excluded from SWIFT, along with other economic measures.

Proposals to cut Moscow off from the world’s leading international payment system are not new. After seven years of threats, Russia is now in a position where losing access to SWIFT would no longer be a disastrous blow. The country has created its own alternative, called SPFS, which works domestically, and Moscow is looking to expand the system internationally.

READ MORE: Cutting Russia off from SWIFT would mean declaration of war – Russian PM

Moscow has previously warned it would consider such a move “a declaration of war.” Former Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, who now serves as deputy chairman of the Security Council of Russia, has also dubbed it a “punch in the gut.”

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Wilder likened to Muhammad Ali as he warns ‘coward’ Fury he will ‘disfigure’ fighter ‘so his mother wouldn’t even know who he was’

Deontay Wilder has been called “the closest thing to Muhammad Ali” by his trainer ahead of his rematch with Tyson Fury in July, when the ex-champ has bizarrely bragged he will “disfigure” the Brit who annihilated him last year.

In a string of threats that seem particularly preposterous given how emphatically the ‘Bronze Bomber’ was beaten by Fury in the seventh round of their last meeting, Wilder has called himself the “hardest puncher in heavyweight history” and accused the only man to have beaten him of dodging him while planning to put the title he won with ease from the Alabaman on the line against Anthony Joshua.

Fury looked set to meet domestic foe Joshua in August in Saudi Arabia until an arbitration court ruled that ‘The Gypsy King’ and Wilder must run it back for a third time – having drawn their first fight in December 2018 – for the WBC and Ring Magazine straps. 

Now penciled in for July 24, with a possible venue of the 70,000-holding Allegiant Stadium home of the Las Vegas Raiders, the trash-talking for the pay-per-view spectacle has begun.

“My mentality is, you’ve been contemplating about hurting a person so bad, to the point where you want to disfigure him so his mother wouldn’t even know who he was,” Wilder told 78SPORTSTV,  revealing the harm he believes he can inflict on the unbeaten Fury.

“You want to decapitate him in every way, like premeditated stuff. Now that we have an ETA and location of where we’re about to go, it makes training much more intensified. Now it means something. It’s for certain now.

“There’s nowhere to run, nowhere to hide. You’ve got to go through me. I’m the hardest puncher in heavyweight history and I’m going to continue to do that.”

“I’m ready to get this title back. We were contractually obligated to have a fight.”

Fury signing the contract live on ESPN on the same night Josh Taylor became undisputed light welterweight champion against Jose Ramirez, Wilder highlighted that there is now no turning back for his dance partner.

“He gave his word. When you do all that – and we have the proof – you’ve got to abide by that. You got to handle the business, and you can’t close the chapter without going through Deontay Wilder.”

He also feels no guilt whatsoever for derailing the Fury-Joshua bout, which was one of the biggest ever to be made in the sport.

“Of course, I look at it as a coward way of trying to avoid me. For what reason? We know the reason and he knows the reason,” he said of the all-British clash.

Wilder’s manager, Shelly Finkel, has warned Fury’s camp not to underestimate his charge.

“He’s training harder for this fight,” Finkel told Sky Sports. “He’s been training since August, July, physically. Now he’s been training tactically.

“It’s eight weeks… there is no reason to talk because, no matter what anyone says, most people aren’t going to believe it unless he proves it in the ring.”

Wilder is now under the tutelage of Malik Scott, and his new trainer has stated that he has no doubts his fighter is going to be a two-time heavyweight champion of the world.

Scott’s words should perhaps be taken with a pinch of salt considering his bold claim that Wilder is comparable to the late, iconic Muhammad Ali – arguably the greatest boxer in history.

“He was very magical in the ring, but it was the things he beat outside the ring that truly got my attention,” said Scott, calling Ali “one of my greatest fighters of all time”.

Deontay Wilder is the closest thing to that in this time.”

On the same weekend he penned the deal for their showdown, Fury branded ‘The Bronze Bomber’ “a b*tch, p*ssy, shi*thouse, an excuse maker” who is about to get “severely damaged”.

I hate to think what he’s going to get this time. He tells people I cracked his skull last time.

“I’m going to crack it wide open and beware: I’m going to have two knuckle-dusters in my gloves this time, you p*ssy.”

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John Fury (left) and WBC champ Tyson Fury © Steve Marcus / Reuters | © Action Images / Adam Holt Livepic
‘Chuck the belt in the bin’: Tyson Fury’s father John wants him to DUMP boxing world title so he can chase Anthony Joshua showdown

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