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Messi signs two-year contract with PSG after leaving Barcelona – Al Jazeera English

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Lionel Messi finally signed his eagerly anticipated Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) contract on Tuesday night to complete the move that confirms the end of a career-long association with Barcelona and sends PSG into a new era.

PSG said in a statement that the 34-year-old Argentina star signed a two-year deal with the option for a third season.

“I am excited to begin a new chapter of my career at Paris Saint-Germain,” Messi said.

“Everything about the club matches my football ambitions. I know how talented the squad and the coaching staff are here. I am determined to help build something special for the club and the fans, and I am looking forward to stepping out onto the pitch at the Parc des Princes.”

No salary details were given but Messi is set to earn approximately 35 million euros ($41m) net, according to the Associated Press news agency, who spoke to a person with knowledge of the negotiations on condition of anonymity before the contract was signed.

“I am delighted that Lionel Messi has chosen to join Paris Saint-Germain and we are proud to welcome him and his family to Paris,” PSG chairman Nasser Al-Khelaifi said.

“He has made no secret of his desire to continue competing at the very highest level and winning trophies, and naturally our ambition as a club is to do the same.”

Messi will wear the number 30, as revealed in a video by the club, the number he had when he began his professional career at Barcelona between 2004-2006.

Throngs of PSG fans gathered at Le Bourget Airport in Paris to welcome Messi, who was wearing a T-shirt featuring “Ici c’est Paris” – “This is Paris.”

The words are a long-familiar refrain from a favoured fan chant at Parc des Princes stadium, where Messi is to be presented to them before kickoff of Saturday night’s game against Strasbourg.

Such was the fervour of his arrival that police had to push back to stop metal barriers from toppling over at the airport as fans surged forward to get a better view. He then travelled into Paris with a police escort that included several officers on motorbikes and clad in black at the back of it.

As disbelief at landing one of football’s all-time greats turned to sheer enthusiasm, many gathered for a glimpse of Messi at the stadium. They got their wish as the smiling superstar briefly waved to them before he underwent a medical check.

Earlier, Messi’s father and agent, Jorge, had also confirmed his son was moving to PSG in a brief exchange with reporters at Josep Tarradellas Barcelona-El Prat Airport before taking his flight in the early afternoon.

Messi arrived with his wife and three children and boarded a private jet.

“With it all, toward a new adventure. The five together,” Antonela Roccuzzo said on Instagram alongside a photo with her husband on the plane.

‘Back together’

PSG supporters have seen their club transformed over the last 10 years since the influx of Qatari sovereign wealth investment linked to the emir. Once Messi’s Barcelona contract expired – and the Catalan club could not afford to keep him – PSG was one of the few clubs that could finance a deal to sign the six-time world player of the year.

Messi’s arrival gives PSG formidable attacking options as he links up with France World Cup winner Kylian Mbappe and Brazil forward Neymar.

“Back together,” Neymar posted on Instagram over a video of them hugging, playing for Barcelona.

While PSG had to pay 222 million euros (then $261m) to sign Neymar from Barcelona in 2017, there was no transfer fee for Messi.

Messi became the most desired free agent in football history after his attempts to stay at Barcelona were rejected last week by the Spanish league because the salary would not comply with financial regulations, with the Catalan club burdened by debts of more than 1.2 billion euros ($1.4bn).

PSG coach Mauricio Pochettino quickly contacted his fellow Argentine after Barcelona announced last Thursday that Messi would be leaving the club he joined as a 13-year-old.

Messi won every notable honour with Barcelona and was granted a tearful exit news conference on Sunday to signal the end of an era. Only Cristiano Ronaldo in the current era challenges Messi’s status as an all-time great.

PSG will be hoping not only that Messi helps the team regain the French title it lost to Lille last season, but finally win the Champions League.

Messi, who won four Champions Leagues and 10 domestic league titles with Barcelona, joins several other big names arriving at PSG on a free transfer this summer.

Spain defender Sergio Ramos was no longer wanted at Real Madrid, Dutch midfielder Georginio Wijnaldum had run down his contract with Liverpool, and Italy’s Euro 2020-winning goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma also joined after his contract with AC Milan ran out.

Former Barcelona and PSG midfielder Ronaldinho wished Messi “many moments of joy” on Tuesday. The pair had played together at Barcelona between 2004 and 2008.

“It’s a great joy to have played in these two clubs and now see my friend wearing this shirt, may there be many moments of joy Leo!” Ronaldinho said on Twitter. “I’m also very happy with my partner @sergioramos on the team and a super cast, I’m feeling Champions,” he added.

The arrival of Messi, whose last contract with Barcelona was worth a total of 555 million euros ($650m) and reported to be the most lucrative in world sport, is also set to provoke a renewed debate about UEFA’s financial fair play rules.

Football’s European governing body introduced the rules in 2009 in an attempt to restrict the power of free-spending owners to buy winning results, but their success is debatable.

The star-power of Messi, who has 245 million followers on Instagram, will be welcome news for Ligue 1 as a battle rages between broadcasters over the price of its television rights, crucial to the finances of the clubs.

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AC Leonard receives an additional one-game suspension; six players fined – CFL.ca

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TORONTO — The Canadian Football League announced the following on Thursday:

Saskatchewan Roughriders defensive lineman A.C. Leonard has been suspended for one additional game due to a verbal abuse and unacceptable behaviour towards the doping control officers. Leonard was previously suspended for two games for failing to provide a sample for drug testing.

Fines from Week 6:

  • Saskatchewan Roughriders safety Mike Edem was fined for a tourist hit on Winnipeg Blue Bombers receiver Nic Demski.
  • Winnipeg Blue Bombers running back Andrew Harris was fined for grabbing Saskatchewan Roughriders defensive back Christian Campbell’s facemask in a reckless and unsafe manner.
  • Winnipeg Blue Bombers offensive lineman Drew Desjarlais was fined for his involvement in instigating the altercation between the two teams.
  • Calgary Stampeders offensive lineman Justin Lawrence was fined for a chop-block on Edmonton Elks defensive lineman Jake Ceresna.
  • Edmonton Elks linebacker Nyles Morgan was fined for kicking Calgary Stampeders offensive lineman Bryce Bell.

An additional fine from Week 5:

  • Toronto Argonauts defensive back Shaquille Richardson was fined for unsportsmanlike conduct in the Labour Day Classic against the Hamilton Tiger-Cats.

As per league policy, the amounts of the player fines were not disclosed.

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Hopkins converts second chance to give Washington wild win over Giants – Sportsnet.ca

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LANDOVER, Md. — Taylor Heinicke and Dustin Hopkins made the most of their second chances.

Washington needed every last second — and then some — to earn a long-awaited win over the New York Giants.

Hopkins made a 43-yard field goal on an untimed down — after a penalty negated his miss seconds earlier — and Washington beat New York 30-29 on Thursday night, snapping a five-game win streak for the Giants in the series.

It also gave Heinicke another moment in the sun after he cost Washington dearly with a late interception. The 28-year-old quarterback was making his second career start in the regular season and first since 2018 with Carolina. He became a bit of a sensation when Washington had to use him in last season’s playoffs against Tom Brady and Tampa Bay, but his team lost that game.

“It’s amazing,” Heinicke said. “The first start was what, two or three years ago in Carolina? Threw three picks, tore my tricep, it was just a brutal thing — and that was my last start until last year (against) Tampa. Come in to Tampa last year, had a good game, but ultimately fell up short. And finally get that first win.”

Heinicke, playing because of an injury to Ryan Fitzpatrick, threw for 336 yards and two touchdowns.

His interception set up Graham Gano’s fifth field goal of the game, which gave the Giants a 29-27 lead with 2:00 remaining. Heinicke then guided Washington back into field goal range.

“He does have the ability to throw the ball and make all the throws. We’ve seen that,” coach Ron Rivera said. “And he’s got a lot of confidence.”

Hopkins missed his first attempt to win the game, but he was given a reprieve when Dexter Lawrence was flagged for being offside. His next attempt was good, giving Washington (1-1) a wild victory.

“Somebody out there check on my mother,” Hopkins said. “She’s probably had a heart attack.”

Daniel Jones threw for 249 yards and a touchdown for the Giants (0-2). He also ran for 95 yards and a TD.

For most of the night, it was Washington’s highly touted defense that wasn’t pulling its weight. New York scored on its first four possessions of the second half, but after the Giants went up 26-20, Heinicke needed just 17 seconds to put Washington ahead.

J.D. McKissic slipped downfield for a 56-yard reception, and then Ricky Seals-Jones outjumped Adoree’ Jackson in the corner of the end zone for a 19-yard TD that put Washington up 27-26.

The Giants had to punt after that, but as Washington was trying to run out the clock, James Bradberry picked off a pass by Heinicke, giving the Giants the ball at the Washington 20.

Washington’s defense forced a field goal, giving Heinicke another chance. Then the penalty on Lawrence gave Hopkins his extra opportunity.

“It’s going to be a tough lesson,” Giants coach Joe Judge said. “I’m not going to put this on Dexter.”

After struggling to stop Justin Herbert and the Chargers last weekend, Washington’s defense had its problems again at the start of this game. New York went 79 yards in 11 plays the first time it had the ball, taking a 7-0 lead on a 6-yard run by Jones.

After Washington tied it on Heinicke’s 11-yard scoring pass to Terry McLaurin, Jones broke free for what initially looked like a 58-yard touchdown run. That play was shortened by a holding penalty, however, and the Giants settled for a field goal.

Washington took a 14-10 lead on a 2-yard TD run by McKissic in the final minute of the half.

Jones found Darius Slayton for a 33-yard TD in the third quarter that put New York ahead 20-14.

MISSED CHANCES

Washington’s biggest defensive breakdown wasn’t punished. With the Giants up 23-20 in the fourth quarter, Slayton was all alone behind the defense, but the pass bounced off his outstretched hands.

That play — and the penalties on the final field goal and the long run by Jones — will likely haunt the Giants during their long break before the next game.

“It’s a pretty tough one. You give it your all and fight and it comes down the tail end,” Giants receiver Sterling Shepard said. “See that first one miss and you see those flags it’s not a fun feeling at all.”

The Giants had 11 penalties for 81 yards. Washington had nine for 80 — and some of those were costly, too.

PERFECT AGAIN

Gano has now made 35 consecutive field goals, the longest active streak in the NFL. His five field goals Thursday included kicks from 47, 52 and 55 yards.

INJURIES

Giants: OL Nick Gates was carted off with a broken leg in the first quarter. Gates, normally a center, played guard Thursday after New York put Shane Lemieux on injured reserve.

Daniel Jones threw for 249 yards and a touchdown for the Giants (0-2). He also ran for 95 yards and a TD.

For most of the night, it was Washington’s highly touted defense that wasn’t pulling its weight. New York scored on its first four possessions of the second half, but after the Giants went up 26-20, Heinicke needed just 17 seconds to put Washington ahead.

J.D. McKissic slipped downfield for a 56-yard reception, and then Ricky Seals-Jones outjumped Adoree’ Jackson in the corner of the end zone for a 19-yard TD that put Washington up 27-26.

The Giants had to punt after that, but as Washington was trying to run out the clock, James Bradberry picked off a pass by Heinicke, giving the Giants the ball at the Washington 20.

Washington’s defense forced a field goal, giving Heinicke another chance. Then the penalty on Lawrence gave Hopkins his second chance.

Washington: DT Matt Ioannidis left in the first half with a knee injury but returned to the game.

UP NEXT

Giants: New York returns home to face the Atlanta Falcons on Sept. 26.

Washington: Two straight road games await Washington, with the first coming Sept. 26 against the Buffalo Bills.

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Rays skip thinks Blue Jays’ Charlie Montoyo should be manager of the year – Sportsnet.ca

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TORONTO — Kevin Cash rolls his eyes when told about all the second-guessing Charlie Montoyo gets in the Toronto Blue Jays discourse, knowing well that anyone looking to solve a baseball problem can find an easy answer in pointing fingers at the manager.

The relentless scrutiny can be a lot to take.

“Correct, that’s fair,” says the Tampa Bay Rays skip, the reigning American League manager of the year. “You’ve got to have a really strong support group, where you can have some of those venting conversations. But when three o’clock rolls around and the guys start filtering into the clubhouse, you’ve got to find that consistency that you show day in and day out.”

The ability to remain on even-keel no matter the circumstance is, to Cash, what’s been most impressive about the way Montoyo, his former bench coach, has stewarded the Blue Jays through the pandemic, and the two seasons of franchise displacement it caused.

“Charlie should be manager of the year,” says Cash. “I mean, what he has gone through over a two-year period, it’s pretty remarkable. It’s a special group over there but he has helped keep that group together and unified it with all the B.S. that has taken place because of the travel and inconsistencies.

“Look at the uncertainty that all those players, certainly Charlie and the staff, but ultimately all the players faced. You’ve got three home ballparks, you’re getting booed half the time because when we played them in Dunedin, we’ve got fans there, in Buffalo, you’ve got New York Yankees fans there — that’s not how you draw it up. And the way that team has shown over the last two years the ability to just wipe that off and be very, very good is a testament to the players, but also Charlie.”

That viewpoint from a rival dugout runs contrary to the daily griping about Montoyo within the larger Blue Jays conversation, with venomous posts questioning each call he makes and blaming him for each failure.

Now, debating different approaches to key strategic moments is part of baseball’s beauty, because ballgames can be won and lost in so many different ways. Analytics have transformed the traditional discussion by replacing long held pieces of conventional wisdom — like platoon advantage above all else, sacrificing a runner to second base or constantly trying to steal bases — with real data that can be used to develop more insightful planning.

As an unintended consequence, too much data has essentially created a new conventional wisdom that relies solely on stats-based decision-making and wholly discounts gut-feel, with decisions that buck the numbers immediately excoriated. In truth, a balance between the two approaches is best in which the objective information is weighed against a subjective sense of what players may be feeling or going through at a given time.

For instance, Montoyo’s decision last week to use Corey Dickerson at leadoff to not disrupt the rhythm of Marcus Semien, Vladimir Guerrero Jr., and Bo Bichette batting two, three and four didn’t make much sense on an analytical front. But the Blue Jays factored in the rhythm the three of them had at that point, didn’t want to alter their timing and prep process by moving them up in the order and really like Bichette in an RBI spot. So, they decided for a short period, there was more value in maintaining all of that rather than adjusting the lineup just so Dickerson wouldn’t potentially be in the leadoff spot at a key time late in the game.

Or take last Saturday, when Montoyo stuck with a shaky Hyun Jin Ryu to try and escape a bases-loaded jam in the third inning, rather than go to a warmed Ross Stripling. Ryan McKenna then ripped a cutter up for a two-run double that put the Baltimore Orioles up 7-3, leading to the usual finger-pointing.

Lost in the vitriol was that Montoyo was consistent in showing trust for one of his aces, desperate for innings in the first game of a doubleheader and that if Ryu executes the cutter down he’s probably out of the inning with a double play.

That doesn’t make the decisions right, it doesn’t make them wrong. But judging them strictly based on outcome and ignoring nuance isn’t fair, either. There are many variables in each call the public isn’t aware of and pivotal is that a team’s players understand why things happen the way they do so the public discourse doesn’t penetrate their bubble.

The Rays and Cash have made that a priority.

“Our guys are so good, so bought in and so willing to remove the game last night from the next one,” he says. “Over time, we’ve gotten more of that buy-in because winning helps. But there were three and four years of decisions that we made early on that were challenging not only to the fanbase, but also to the players in there. We owed it to the players to sit them down and say, this is what we’re thinking. We pride ourselves so much on communicating with them and trying to get ahead of and out front of those decisions before they happen.”

The Blue Jays, similarly, have excelled at preventing one game from carrying over to the next. Last year, they shook off not knowing where they would play their home games until the morning of opening day and calling triple-A Sahlen Field in Buffalo home to win a wild card. This season, they began at their spring home in Dunedin, Fla., moved to Buffalo and finally to Toronto. They’ve shaken off gutting bullpen losses, an offensive dry spell that threatened their season and key injuries to contend for a wild card in a four-team deep American League East.

Full credit goes for that goes to the players. Some of it should go to the manager, too.

“They play with a looseness. They don’t play with any panic. They’re having fun in the dugout,” Cash says of where he sees Montoyo’s impact on the Blue Jays. “Granted, you score 47 runs in Baltimore, everybody’s going to have fun. But they’ve shown that consistently all year long, even when we were in Dunedin and we swept them (May 21-24). You saw frustration like, all right, we’re pissed we’re losing, which you should be. But it wasn’t demoralizing to where everybody was hanging their head. That’s where Charlie is special because he’s pretty darn consistent. I know he was helpful for me. I admired and strived to be the level of consistent he showed day in and day out while he was here, and tried to take some of those things from him.”

That’s high praise from one of the better managers in the game, which doesn’t mean Montoyo’s decisions, the moves made and those not, are immune from debate or criticism. That’s part of the territory and part of the fun. But, maybe the game doesn’t need to turn into a referendum on his merits, because there’s more than meets the eye, too.

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