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Klopp could sell Salah to fund Werner move

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Liverpool star Mohamed Salah applauds the victory over Bournemouth at Anfield

MANCHESTER, United Kingdom, Apr 10 – Pundit Charlie Nicholas believes Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp could break up his front three in order to bring in RB Leipzig star Timo Werner.

Reds boss Klopp inherited Roberto Firmino upon his arrival on Merseyside and brought Sadio Mane and Salah to the club in successive summer transfer windows.

The trio have since become one of the most feared attacks in Europe and they have played vital roles in Liverpool’s success in recent seasons.

However, Liverpool have been tipped to freshen up their options in the upcoming transfer window with a swoop for RB Leipzig striker Werner, who has made no secret of his admiration for his fellow German Klopp.

Several pundits have predicted the striker to fit in with or disrupt the Liverpool attack and, for Nicholas, the latter is the most likely outcome.

Explaining his reasoning for adding Mane to his Premier League team of the season, the pundit told Sky Sports: “His consistency is second to none, while his pace frightens defences.

“As much as Liverpool are talking about Timo Werner coming from RB Leipzig and potential other buys, it might be Salah that gets moved on.

“I would be careful about Mane, as I believe even Lionel Messi picked him as one of his Ballon d’Or choices. Salah has been great and Liverpool fans love him, but the two they may want to keep are Mane and Firmino.

“They have more options about them, not better players necessarily. Salah is that type as he gets the goals.”

Mane, Firmino and Salah have scored 49 goals and assisted 33 others between them in all competitions this term.

In other news, Mane has been told that Liverpool may not be the best club for him if he wants to achieve Ballon d’Or glory.

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ODM Protests Arrest of Nairobi County Assembly Minority Whip Terms It Political

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ODM Protests Arrest of Nairobi County Assembly Minority Whip Terms It Political

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From farm girl to ‘invincible superhero’: the remarkable rise of China’s Zhu Ting

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By AFP

SHANGHAI

Zhu Ting stands tall in China — and not just because she is a towering 1.98 metres (6ft 6ins).

The 25-year-old farmer’s daughter has emerged from a poor village life to become a totem of the sporting ambitions of the world’s most populous country.

As captain and figurehead of China’s women’s volleyball team, the reigning Olympic champions, Zhu is one of the country’s biggest stars.

State television once feted her as “an invincible and dominant superhero” and she is held up by Chinese authorities as a shining example of what can be achieved by hard work and dedication to her country.

Her stature with China’s ruling Communist Party is such that she was present at its once-a-year congress last month in Beijing.

Underlining Zhu’s broader popularity, a nurse fighting coronavirus at the epicentre city of Wuhan in March posted a photograph of herself wearing a white protective suit with a picture of the volleyball star drawn on it.

Also scribbled were the words: “Proud that I was born in the era of Zhu Ting.”

Zhu, named MVP at the Rio 2016 Olympics as she dragged China to gold, has earned numerous adoring nicknames down the years. Many fans call her simply “Queen”.

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She is the most prominent sportswoman to emerge in China since Grand Slam-winning tennis player Li Na, with a rags-to-riches life story that has played prominently in the country’s patriotic press.

LOW PROFILE

Despite the attention piled on Zhu, Bai Junhong, an editor of an unofficial online fans’ group, describes her as “low-key”.

She is not the type to boast, Bai says, and does not post often on Weibo — hence why the fan group has 5.2 million followers on the Twitter-like social media platform, compared to Zhu’s 4.1 millon.

Bai tells a story of how when Zhu learnt that a fan was terminally ill, she contacted the supporter through social media and sent a signed gift.

“She is a role model — willing to learn, has the courage to try anything and can steel herself to face difficulties when she encounters them,” the 32-year-old Bai said.

“It is a perfect interpretation of the spirit of the women’s volleyball team that the Motherland is supreme, united, tenacious, hard-working and never fails.”

Zhu hails from a village in the central province of Henan, her parents are farmers and she is one of five daughters.

TOP SCORER

From an early age one thing was clear — she was tall. By 13 she already stood more than 1.75m.

“When she was a little girl our family was so poor that we could not afford a photo of her,” her father Zhu Anliang told state media after her heroics in Rio, where she was the tournament top-scorer with 179 points.

“Now our lives are better, but when she comes back to the village she is still just an ordinary farm girl from an ordinary farmer’s family.”

All of Zhudalou village has benefited from Zhu’s success with local officials replacing a dirt path to the entrance with a concrete one.

Villagers branded it “Zhu Ting road”, according to the state-run Global Times, which called Zhudalou “an obscure and poverty-stricken place”.

After swapping village life for a state-run sports school — where the young Zhu cried for her parents at the outset — she made her debut for China in 2013.

HIGHEST PAID

Following the Rio Olympics, she moved to Turkey to play for VakifBank and reportedly signed a Sh120 million ($1.2 million) contract, making her one of the highest-paid players in volleyball.

In January last year, Under Armour added Zhu to its list of athletes – joining Tom Brady and Stephen Curry – and said she was “a face of Asia-Pacific” for the US brand.

She returned to China to play for Tianjin in October last year, in preparation for helping her country defend their crown at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

The Games have been moved to summer 2021 because of coronavirus.

It is a measure of her humble personality that each time praise comes her way, Zhu deflects it away from herself.

“Me being the captain is just an idea to the public, but within the team, I’m not really ‘leading’ my team-mates,” Zhu said in an interview published Friday.

“They don’t call me captain, they call me Zhu.”

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Neymar mistakenly approved for Sh12,700 virus welfare payment

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RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil, June 5 – Neymar, the world’s most expensive footballer, was approved to receive a Sh12,700 ($120) welfare payment meant for low-paid Brazilian workers affected by the coronavirus pandemic, in an apparent case of identity theft, a report said.

The Paris Saint-Germain star’s name, date of birth and Brazilian ID number were used to register for the 600-real stimulus payment from the federal government, news site UOL reported.

The emergency payments are meant to help Brazilians employed in the informal sector — such as cleaners or cooks — whose jobs and incomes have evaporated with stay-at-home measures to contain the virus.

With a contract at PSG, estimated earnings of $95.5 million this year and the record for most expensive football transfer in history, at 222 million euros, Neymar does not qualify.

Yet according to UOL, the application in his name “was initially approved and scheduled for payment… before being frozen and placed ‘under evaluation’ due to indications it failed to meet the requirements.”

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The striker’s communications staff did not immediately respond to a request for comment from AFP.

UOL reported his staff said Neymar “obviously never applied for this benefit, and does not know who would have done so.”

Brazil is one of the countries hit hardest by the coronavirus pandemic. It has the third-highest death toll globally, at more than 34,000, behind only the US and Britain.

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Neymar, 28, is riding out the pandemic at his luxury villa in Mangaratiba, a resort town outside Rio de Janeiro.

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