Inter Rival West Ham in Race to Sign Edin Dzeko as Striker’s Roma Future Remains Uncertain

?Inter have joined the race to sign West Ham target Edin Dzeko, with the Roma striker’s future set to be clearer after the weekend.

The Hammers have been on the hunt for a new frontman after Marko Arnautovic’s form dipped massively following his failed move to the Chinese Super League, while question marks still remain around Javier Hernandez’s future in east London.

Edin Dzeko

Manuel Pellegrini is eager to be reunited with his former striker, who he managed while in charge of Manchester City, however ?Inter have now joined the race to lure the Bosnian away from the Italian capital, according to Corriere dello Sport (as picked up by ?Sport Witness). The Italian publication go on to report that the situation surrounding the 33-year-old’s future should become clearer next week.

In a further development, ?Calcio Mercato claim the striker is ‘ready to say yes’ to the San Siro outfit, as they bid to keep the forward in ?Serie A next season. It’s said that Inter CEO Giuseppe Marotta and sporting director Piero Ausilio are both intrigued by the former Wolfsburg man’s profile, with his knowledge and experience of the division a key factor in their interest.

The issues regarding any potential deal from Inter refer to the future of ?Mauro Icardi, as Dzeko will likely only be signed if the Argentine forward leaves. 

Edin Dzeko

Roma have also placed a €15m price tag on their player, something Inter may not be willing to pay for someone of his age. However, for Pellegrini and ?West Ham both these concerns are not issues, with the club happy to offer Dzeko a starring role in the side and part with the money in question.

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FIFA 19: Kevin De Bruyne, Kalidou Koulibaly & Nicolas Pepe Headline TOTW 31

?It’s FIFA 19 players’ favourite time of the week, as the brand new Team of the Week is here, and players are in for a real treat this week.

Sometimes we look at the TOTW and only one or two cards jump out, but not this week, not TOTW 31.

There are plenty of stunners in this week’s lineup, and there is almost certainly something for everyone in there.

Here’s some of the highlights of TOTW 31.


Kalidou Koulibaly (92)

?Juventus might be nearing yet another ?Serie A title, but that’s certainly not for lack of trying from ?Napoli’s Kalidou Koulibaly. The ?Manchester United target was dominant in his side’s 3-1 win over Chievo Verona on Sunday, and even managed to grab himself two goals to keep Juventus waiting just a little while longer.

In terms of his FIFA card, wow. Koulibaly has seen his rating bumped up to 92, which puts him amongst the top defenders on the game. With a bonkers 77 pace to go along with 92 physical, there will be few attackers who can force their way past this card.


Kevin De Bruyne (92)

Kevin De Bruyne

?The fact that this is ?Kevin De Bruyne‘s first in-form of the year (not counting his Team of the Year card) is truly shocking. The Belgian has battled injuries all season, but looked back to his best in ?Manchester City‘s 3-1 win over ?Crystal Palace, grabbing two impressive assists to keep his side in the race for the ?Premier League title.

Like Koulibaly, De Bruyne has also been given a 92-rated card, and it looks to be an incredible option. His 93 passing will make him an excellent addition to any midfield, although there will be players who wish he could have had a bit of an extra bump on his physical and pace stats (because 80s just look that much sweeter).


Nicolas Pepe (88)

Wow. Wow. Wow. What a season this man is having. Nicolas Pepe has spent the year embarrassing defenders all over France, and he can now add Paris Saint-Germain’s scalp to his impressive resume. He grabbed a goal and two assists in a 5-1 win over the league leaders, in what has to be one of the most shocking results in Ligue 1 history.

To get five in-forms is a real testament to Pepe’s ability. The latest addition to his line of impressive cards is this new 88-rated option, which boasts 92 pace, 89 shooting and 89 dribbling. For those with his Headliner card, expect the latter two to jump up to over 90 as he gets upgraded to an 89 overall.


Honourable Mentions

Lucas Moura

Where to even start? Kinglsey Coman’s 86-rated card looks like it could cause more than a few problems for any defender, and the same can be said of Lucas Moura, who has picked up an 84-rated in-form at striker.

Radja Nainggolan is now an 87. Ryan Fraser, Fabian Schar and Inaki s are all 86-rated now, and ?Pepe Reina’s 85-rated special card also looks very intriguing indeed.

A special shout-out has to go to twin brothers Rogelio and Ramiro Funes Mori (the latter of whom used to turn out for ?Everton), who have both made it into the TOTW at the same time. Their family must be so proud.

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Nicolas Pepe: The Contenders to Sign Him & Where He Might End Up

?One of the hottest prospects in world football right now, it’s fair to say Nicolas Pepe has enjoyed a real breakthrough campaign at LOSC Lille.

The Ivorian has had a blistering season in front of goal, with 19 strikes in just 32 Ligue 1 appearances this season, whilst he has also shown off his playmaking skills with a further 11 assists. 

Pepe’s ‘double-double’ has attracted interest from many of European football’s biggest sides this season, and as such, below is a look at some of the teams linked with a summer move for the winger, and how likely a move to each club actually is.


Paris Saint-Germain

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In producing one of his best displays against the Parisian giants, Pepe undeniably jumped up the pecking order of potential summer targets for PSG. The winger scored one and made another two as Lille thrashed the reigning Ligue 1 champions 5-1 on Sunday, and ensured that they delayed Thomas Tuchel’s men from lifting the French title for at least another week.

With the futures of superstars Neymar and Kylian Mbappe relatively uncertain amid reports linking the pair with Barcelona and Real Madrid respectively, Pepe’s name may just begin to crop up more in Paris. The 23-year-old never seems to be overawed by the occasion, and has time and time again stepped up for Christophe Galtier’s side this season?, and if either of PSG’s big money signings departs this summer, Pepe could be the man to step into those massive boots.

Likelihood rating: 4/10


Manchester United

Ole Gunnar Solskjae

With a director of football likely to be brought in to help Ole Gunnar Solskjaer with bringing in new faces, Pepe’s name is likely to figure prominently at Old Trafford. ?United’s Norwegian boss has shown tactical flexibility in his short time in charge of the club, but has predominantly favoured formations with wingers, and with just Anthony Martial, Alexis Sanchez and Marcus Rashford the main options, a new wide man may be on the cards.

Juan Mata has sometimes played on the flanks but looks set to leave the club at the expiration of his contract this summer, while Sanchez has been well below-par since his arrival from Arsenal last year. Pepe’s potential arrival would free up ?Rashford to play up top where he has excelled in recent months, and Solskjaer’s preference for the counter-attack would look all the more devastating with a front three of Martial, Pepe and Rashford.

Likelihood rating: 5/10


Inter

Luciano Spalletti

In what is expected to be a long drawn-out saga this summer, it is Serie A giants Inter who have made the first move in the race to sign Pepe. France Football claim that the Nerazzurri have tabled a bid worth €60m for the winger, and that the Italian side have been in ‘constant contact’ with Lille in recent weeks over negotiating a move. 

Croatian star Ivan Perisic was on the verge of joining Arsenal in the January transfer window, and could well be allowed to move on, and as such a replacement would be sought. Whether Pepe would see joining ?Inter as a more attractive proposition than some of the other clubs featured on this list remains to be soon, and with Lille expecting a bidding war to take place, Luciano Spalletti’s side could well find themselves priced out of a move.

Likelihood rating: 6/10


Arsenal

Unai Emery

Linked with ?Arsenal for what feels like an eternity, Pepe seems to fit everything that Unai Emey seems to want in terms of an attacking acquisition this summer. The Gunners look woefully short of depth and competition in the wide areas, with only Alex Iwobi and Henrikh Mkhitaryan as what you would describe as more orthodox wingers.

While both are great with their feet and look suited to the Arsenal ‘tiki-taka’ style, neither seem the best when it comes to electric speed and direct dribbling. Step up Nicolas Pepe. The Ivorian relishes one-on-one situations with the opposite full-back, and having that ability to do something out of the ordinary and conjure up a bit of magic for the likes of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette to feed off is exactly what Emery’s side need. How likely they are to sign him will surely depend on how the Gunners end the season. 

Reports have suggested just £40m will be made available for Emery, but securing Champions League football next year could raise their transfer kitty by another £30-£40m. Finish in the top four or win the Europa League, and the Gunners will be serious contenders for one of the brightest stars in European football.

Likelihood rating: 7/10 


?Bayern Munich

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Seemingly the early frontrunners for Pepe’s signature, ?Bayern are intent on completely rejuvenating their squad after what ultimately has been a rather disappointing season. The Bavarian giants are still battling for the Bundesliga title, but fell short at the last 16 stage of the Champions League to Liverpool, and were, in truth, made to look rather ordinary by Jurgen Klopp’s side.

With a deal for Atletico Madrid defender Lucas Hernandez already tied up, reports have suggested attentions have now turned towards pushing through a move for Pepe. Bayern legends Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery are well into their mid-30s and set for a move away at the end of the season, and the prospect of lining up with a wide duo of Pepe and Kingsley Coman appears to be a tantalising prospect. 

With the Ivory Coast international’s price likely to be upwards of €80m, Bayern will have the edge over Arsenal when it comes to being able to afford the winger, and that could make all the difference this summer.

Likelihood rating: 9/10


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Inter & Bayern Emerge as Frontrunners in Hotly Contested Race for Lille’s Nicolas Pepe

Inter and Bayern Munich appear to have emerged as the frontrunners in the forthcoming race for Lille winger Nicolas Pepe, though Arsenal, Manchester United, Chelsea and Paris Saint-Germain all remain in hot pursuit. 

Pepe has been on the radar of many a top level European side for quite some time, with the winger impressing greatly throughout the season, notching 20 goals and 14 assists across all competitions. However, this reached a new level of fervour last weekend, when the Ivorian international scored one goal and assisted a further two in the 5-1 demolition of PSG.

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And, speaking to ?Telefoot after his side inflicted the greatest defeat of the Parisians in 19 years, club president Gerard Lopez admitted he expected his prized star to depart Lille this summer, explaining: “Sure [Pepe’s going to leave]. He’s going to get into a range of prices and wages that LOSC will not be able to pay anymore.

“So, it’s clear that there’s a career choice for him too, after that, where will he go? We’ll see. We will not talk about a transfer until about mid-May. I think he’ll have a choice; we’ll see.”

As you can imagine, Lopez was right with this assessment, and, unsurprisingly, his words only served to increase the interest in the 23-year-old. Firstly, L’Equipe, as relayed by the ?Sun, reported that the ?Bavarians had emerged as the frontrunners, revealing that, having sent scouts to watch the PSG victory, they subsequently engaged in talks with the club over a potential summer switch. 

However, FCB didn’t stay at the top for long, with ?France Football promptly claiming ?Inter had set the summer bidding war rolling in earnest, lodging a €60m offer with the second-placed Ligue 1 side. 


Whether this will be enough remains to be seen, though considering the calibre of suitor that remain in the hunt, that seems likely. It is understood that Chelsea see Pepe as a potential replacement for ?Eden Hazard, though that of course rests on the Belgian leaving for Real Madrid and the club successfully appealing their transfer ban.

For their part, the Parisians were looking into their destroyer before he became known as such, and it seems his dismantling of their rearguard has only cemented their desire to secure his services.

However, while ?United are sufficiently desperate for additional wingers and rarely afraid to splash the clash, there is some apparent reluctance in north London, with some members of the ?Arsenal hierarchy urging Unai Emery to look to Hoffenheim loanee Reiss Nelson instead.

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20 New Football Stadiums to Look Forward to

For fans of state-of-the-art football stadiums, there’s never been a better time to be alive. 

Not only did Tottenham finally open their brand new ground (which it must be said is absolutely gorgeous), but on 2 April Real Madrid ?unveiled their renderings for the €525m renovation of the Santiago Bernabeu.?

However, Los Blancos aren’t the only side who have plans to improve their ground, with a host of clubs announcing their own renovation designs, or even plans to build new stadia altogether

We’ll cover all of them below – enjoy!


Real Madrid (Santiago Bernabeu)?

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We begin with the aforementioned plans from Real Madrid to improve their famous home, which will cost between €525m and €575m to complete.

??With an estimated completion date of 2022, the new plans include a retractable roof, encasing the entire ground in stainless steel, and a new commercial space will help bring in €150m in additional annual revenue for the club.

See a full article on the ?Bernabeu’s redevelopment here.


Barcelona (Camp Nou)

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Barcelona’s ambitious ‘Espai Barça’ redevelopment project will see Camp Nou’s capacity increase to 105,000 (which will make the venue the second biggest football stadium in the world), the addition of a roof, as well as the incorporation of 5g mobile technology (the first stadium in the world to do so).

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The remodelling – which will occur between 2020 and 2023 – will be done without Barcelona having to find a new home, and will incur an estimated cost of €360m.

See a full article on ?Camp Nou’s redevelopment here.


Everton (Bramley-Moore Dock Stadium)

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Plans for Everton’s new 52,000 seater stadium were ‘leaked’ in February by Everton fan group Everton Aren’t We, who released the concept pictures after the supporter site received a PDF document with plans for the new ground.

The plans predict the Toffees will move into their new stadium in 2023 – finally saying goodbye to Goodison Park, their home ground since 1892 – though the club’s chief executive Robert Elstone said last year that the project will cost ‘significantly more’ than the initial £300m projected cost.


Crystal Palace (Selhurst Park)

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The Eagles have already been granted the green light (in principle) to expand Selhurst Park’s capacity from 26,000 to over 34,000.

??However, the club are still in talks with Croydon Council and London Mayor Sadiq Khan, with approval from both needed before final planning permission is issued.

If that all goes to plan, then Palace will start work on the main stand this summer to have it ready by the beginning of the 2020/21 season.


Napoli (Stadio San Paolo)

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When the owner of your club calls your stadium a ‘cesspool’, its probably time to find a new home. 

Such is the case for Napoli, with president Aurelio De Laurentiis currently looking at options to finance the building of a new stadium (including a McDonald’s backed venue as one possibility). Good thing too, since the third tier of the ground is currently off limits to the public.

SSC Napoli v Manchester City - UEFA Champions League

The Stadio San Paolo is currently going through a €23m redevelopment phase in preparation for the 2019 Universiade (international student and youth competition), but De Laurentiis is pushing hard for a new stadium altogether. However, obtaining building permits and financial investment from the city is proving difficult.


Feyenoord (Feyenoord Stadium)

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We all love a stadium next to a body of water – they just look better. Don’t believe me? Take a gander at the renderings of Feyenoord’s new home in Rotterdam below.

Feyenoord’s ground – which will replace the historic but ageing Stadium de Kuip – will sit on the banks of the river Maas, and with a capacity of 63,000, will be the largest football ground in the Netherlands when it opens in 2023.


AS Roma (Stadio della Roma)

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The Serie A giants will be moving into their new ground in 2022 (scheduled), saying goodbye to the Stadio Olimpico, which they currently share with rivals Lazio.

??The inspiration for the Stadio della Roma is the Colosseum, which will be reflected in the stone “scrim” that envelops the outside of the stadium. The seating capacity will be 52,000, though this can be extended to 60,000.

While the designs and concept of the new venue are amazing, construction hasn’t actually begun yet. In March, Football Italia reported that Marcello De Vito – President of Rome city council’s assembly – was arrested after he allegedly took bribes from Luca Parnasi, contractor for the Stadio della Roma before he was detained himself last year. Despite the news, the club have insisted that construction on the new ground will go ahead as planned.


Liverpool (Anfield)

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In 2016 the Reds completed the expansion of the new Main Stand at their historic ground to increase Anfield’s capacity to just over 54,000. 

Liverpool v Leicester City - Premier League

But Liverpool aren’t quite finished tinkering just yet. In October, club chief executive Peter Moore revealed that the Merseyside outfit were considering adding a further 6,000 seats to the Anfield Road End, taking the ground’s total capacity to over 60,000.

However, the clock’s ticking, as Liverpool must submit detailed blueprints for the next stage of the expansion by September 2019 – yet Moore has indicated that the club are still reviewing their options and plans.


Celta Vigo (Abanca Balaídos)

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O Celtiña have been in their home ground since 1982, and has undergone several redevelopments over the years – including in 2002/03 when the club qualified for the Champions League for the first time in their history.

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Since 2015 Balaídos has been undergoing major renovations, which will become a fully covered stadium with capacity for 31,000 spectators (current capacity is 29,000), and, according to ?Marca, will include: 

“A new facade where images can be projected, the flights of stairs on the exterior will be removed and the press room and changing rooms will be relocated to the central part. In addition, the stands will be nearer to the pitch – eight metres away instead of 35.”


Inter Miami CF (Inter Miami CF Stadium)

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David Beckham’s new MLS expansion team will kick off in 2020, with its permanent home due to open in Miami a season or two later (pending financial and location decisions).

Beckham’s ownership group negotiated a real estate deal with the city of Miami to redevelop the city’s only golf course into a 25,000 seat capacity ground, mall and office park.


Forest Green Rovers (Eco Park)

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Forest Green Rovers of League Two are doing a solid for the planet by building a new venue which they claim will be the ‘greenest football stadium in the world’.

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A statement on the club’s website reads: “Designed by world renowned architects Zaha Hadid and made almost entirely out of wood, it’ll be the first of its kind in the world. With a capacity of 5,000, Eco Park, would be sited in parkland where some five hundred trees and 1.8km of new hedgerows would be planted.”

The plans for the stadium are yet to be approved by Stroud District Council, and fire safety might be an obvious concern, but if the Green do pull it off they will be playing in the most unique ground in world football (and one perfectly suited to their name).


Manchester United (Old Trafford)

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The Theatre of Dreams is one of the most iconic grounds in sports, but club officials at United have decided Old Trafford needs a lick of paint and greater capacity.

Manchester United v Manchester City - Premier League

Plans have been drawn up three times in the last 10 years to expand the Sir Bobby Charlton Stand, which would take the stadium’s capacity to just over 80,000.

Those plans keep getting delayed, adjusted or cancelled because of the logistical issues with redeveloping Old Trafford (there’s a railway line behind the stadium with houses just beyond), as well as the cost (over £200m for around 10,000 extra seats with limited additional corporate facilities). Furthermore, the Red Devils would likely have to vacate the ground whilst work is being done, so it may be some time before Old Trafford gets redeveloped


AC Milan & Inter? (San Siro)

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Reports earlier this year suggested that AC Milan were ‘fully embracing’ the idea of moving to a new stadium after almost 100 years at the San Siro.

Previews - UEFA Champions League Final

The news suggested that Milan are sold on the idea of investing €600m in a ‘new San Siro’ just a few hundred yards from their current location, and the only thing missing is confirmation from the city of Milan.

AC Milan v Arsenal - UEFA Europa League Round of 16: First Leg

It’s not clarified whether Inter are on board with the idea, but if plans go ahead, it’s expected that they will continue to share, as the report details plans for separate entrances for the two sides.

See a full article on ?AC Milan building a new stadium here.


Empoli (Stadio Carlo Castellani)

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The fantastically named Stadio Carlo Castellani has been home to Empoli since 1965, but in 2018 the Serie A outfit announced that it would be launching a complete overhaul of the ground in a project financed through a public-private partnership – the first of its kind in Italy.

Empoli v Bologna FC - Serie A

The new ground – well, almost new (three of the four stands will be rebuilt) – will accommodate 20,000 fans, and Empoli have stated that the ground will be “be sustainable from a social, economic and environmental perspective thanks to a configuration that will make it a zero emissions facility.”


Valencia (Nou Mestalla)

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If you thought Tottenham took a while to build and move into their new ground, you haven’t been paying attention to what’s going on with Valencia.

Nou Mestalla stadium - Valencia

In 2007 – yes, 2007 – Valencia began construction on Nou Mestalla, a 54,000-seat stadium intended to replace Estadio Mestalla. Work carried on for two years, but was then halted for financial reasons, and Valencia has continued to play in their old ground since.

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However, Los Ches signed an agreement with Deloitte last year to help their transfer to the new ground, and the club are expected to finally move into their new home ahead of the 2020/21 La Liga season.


Bologna (Stadio Renato Dall’Ara)

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In January this year Serie A outfit Bologna announced plans to completely redevelop the Dall’Ara, which first opened in 1927.


The work will involve reducing the stadium’s capacity to 27,000 (from 31,000), with room for expansion to 29,000, as well as the installation of a new roof and stands closer to the pitch. The project is expected to take five years to complete.


Real Sociedad (Anoeta Stadium)

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La Real’s stadium has undergone significant work since 2017, which involved enlarging the ground and removing the running track around the pitch.


The first phase of redevelopment – including the removal of the track and a new south end stand – was finished just after the start of the 2018/19 season,

the removal of the track and insertion of lower rows of seats on the side stands, and a completely new south end stand. When work is finally completed on the north stand, the stadium will hold 42,300 spectators. 


Atalanta (Stadio Atleti Azzurri d’Italia)

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Atalanta will begin renovation work on their ancient stadium this year, after the club bought the ground from the local council for €11.2m.

The project will boost the stadium’s capacity from 21,300 to 24,000, and, according to the ?Stadium BusinessAtalanta has previously outlined that other key features of the initiative include, “‘squaring off’ the two end stands of the stadium to connect them with other sections of the venue, as well as building a commercial area in the underground part of the stadium.”


Fiorentina (Nuovo Stadio Fiorentina)

Fiorentina currently play their football at the Stadio Artemio Franchi, though the club have been looking to leave the ancient ground (opened in 1931) since 2008.

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Though construction has not yet begun on the ground – thanks to a corruption scandal and difficulties in securing a new site for the stadium – Florence’s mayor has said that the arena could be ready for use by 2023.

The stadium would be built on the Mercafir site in Florence, and would cost around €420m. And holy heck, if the video is anything to go by, it’s going to look absolutely stunning.


Raja Casablanca & Wydad Casablanca (Grand Stade de Casablanca)

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This stadium was meant to be part of Morocco’s World Cup in 2010 (had they won the bid instead of South Africa), and then again for the 2026 tournament, but unsuccessful bids meant that it will just have to be used by the city’s two club sides, as well as the Moroccan national team.


Undeterred, Morocco now plan to use the stadium – which will have a capacity of 93,000 once it’s completed in 2025 – for the 2030 World Cup. Third time’s the charm lads


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