David Luiz keen to end his career at Benfica

‘I always said I would like to end my career at Benfica’: David Luiz will NOT see out his playing days at Arsenal as he admits he wants to return to Portugal

  • David Luiz has revealed his desire to end his career with Portuguese side Benfica
  • The Brazilian flourished with the Portuguese club before joining Chelsea in 2011 
  • And the 33-year-old says he would like to return to his former side one day
  • Luiz is soon to enter the final 12 months of his contract with Arsenal  

David Luiz has revealed his intention to end his career at Portuguese giants Benfica, as the Arsenal centre half nears the final 12 months of his contract in north London. 

The enigmatic Brazilian joined The Gunners last summer from Chelsea, but has done little to shore up a leaky defence at the Emirates Stadium. 

The 33-year-old made a name for himself at Benfica, where he played from 2007-2011 before joining the west London club. 

David Luiz has revealed his desire to return to Portuguese side Benfica to end his career 

The 33-year-old made a name for himself with the club before joining Chelsea in 2011

And Luiz has said he would like to return to Portugal to see out his career, in which he has won the Premier League, Champions League, Europa League, the FA Cup and EFL Cup. 

‘I always said that I would like to end my career at Benfica,’ he told the Portuguese club’s official website via Goal. 

‘In football everything changes, what is true today, tomorrow is a lie, but my feeling is not! 

‘I love Benfica. My dream is to step on the pitch of Estadio da Luz in their colours.

‘For all that I lived and felt, for what Benfica is in my life and in my history, for everything, Benfica is bigger than any player.’

Mikel Arteta has previously spoken on Luiz’s leadership qualities in Arsenal’s dressing room

Whether or not Luiz returns to his former club remains to be seen, with Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta crying out for leaders that have a proven track record to steer his side in the right direction. 

The Spaniard has said that he needs a player like Luiz to be demanding of his young team-mates in the Arsenal dressing room. 

‘That’s what I wanted to demand of him. He is a player that has won more trophies than anybody else in that dressing room,’ Arteta said. 

‘We have to use that in a very powerful way. I am very pleased with him. In the games he has played under me so far he has been terrific.

‘His attitude in training, the way he communicates with his team-mates, his desire to still learn, it’s superb. I am delighted with him.’

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‘There’s a hole in so many people’s lives’: Liverpool chairman Tom Werner on football, coronavirus and missing out on a title parade

The Premier League trophy should have been in Tom Werner’s hands by now. This week should have featured a victory parade through the streets of Liverpool.

But the wait to end the 30-year title drought continues.

Instead, Liverpool’s chairman is analysing the health procedures required just to ensure it is safe for his team to practice together again. Then further tentative steps can be taken on the path to resuming the season during the coronavirus pandemic.

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“Reading through protocols I’m trying to absorb the words that I never thought I knew a month ago,” Werner says. “Social distancing … all this stuff.”

The words particularly dreaded in the red half of Merseyside are “null and void” – if a decision is made to abandon the season with no champion declared. It took a global health emergency to halt Liverpool’s title charge. Jurgen Klopp’s team had surged an unprecedented 25 points clear before the league was abruptly suspended in March with nine games remaining.

“There’s a hole in so many people’s lives,” Werner told The Associated Press. “Football is central to their dreams and their hopes. And certainly, as regards Liverpool, we are playing magnificent football and we are just a couple of matches away from winning the trophy. But I do put it in perspective.”

Werner will next week be helping to fill the football void and provide some light relief when “The First Team,” a comedy series he has executive produced for the BBC, debuts on British screens.

“Especially right now, when there’s no live football,” Werner said, “it will be a real tonic for people to have some entertainment that revolves around the football stories.”

But Werner hopes his real-life team will soon be back to entertaining too, by becoming the Premier League’s champions – if a little later than expected.

“There’s going be a tiny element of risk, but this is a very healthy group … and there’s going to be frequent testing,” Werner said. “Most importantly, if the scientists and the government feel it’s unsafe, then there will be no football. But hopefully we can figure out a way to play.”

Completing the 38-game season would be ideal for Werner, rather than having Klopp’s team crowned champions without another ball being kicked — as with the case with Paris Saint-Germain in France.

“The more important thing is if we can figure out a way to get these matches played because I think it would be good for the country,” he said.

More than 36,000 people have died in Britain from Covid-19 since Liverpool last played on March 11 – the day the World Health Organisation declared the coronavirus a pandemic and Anfield saw the visit of Atletico Madrid in the Champions League. Hundreds are still dying each day in Britain, although the rate of infections is declining.

The Premier League has government backing to pursue playing again in a month, even while discussing with chairman like Werner the contingencies for curtailing of the season.

The Liverpool players only this week returned to practice – in groups of less than five – after being tested for the coronavirus. Protocols to allow contact training – while social distancing remains in place for the rest of the country – are still being formulated.

But if there is evidence the easing of the lockdown two weeks ago leads to a spike in new COVID-19 cases, the pause might have to be put on the league’s “Project Restart.”

“The most important thing is safety. I do think the protocols that the Premier League are working on — as somebody said — ‘it’s probably safer to play behind closed doors than to go to a supermarket,’” Werner said.

Whenever — if — the Premier League trophy is collected, it will not happen in front of Liverpool fans. Mass gatherings are banned.

“It’s a terrible situation we’re all in,” Werner said. “Someday, hopefully, there will be a vaccine and we can return to the joy of being in a stadium and watching the elegant play of great football players.”

There will be, Werner acknowledges, “financial challenges.” Liverpool will lose out on matchday revenue and the Premier League is prepared to refund broadcasters hundreds of millions of dollars for the disruption to the product.

Werner does still hope home stadiums can be used for matches – rather than neutral venues being advocated by police. But that requires fans abiding by social distancing and avoiding the temptation of gathering outside to get as close to the action as possible.

In the first two weeks of the lockdown, Liverpool decided to place some non-playing staff on a government furloughing scheme to cut costs. The decision was reversed after backlash from their fans over the use of state aid. The club has also maintained funding for community work, from supporting fans challenged by mental health issues to providing supplies for food banks.

“It’s better to admit to a mistake than to dig your heels in,” he said. “Hopefully people will know that all we really care about is trying to support the fans and support our players and our club in a way that is sustainable.”

October will mark 10 years since Werner was part of a protracted takeover of Liverpool as part of John Henry’s Fenway Sports Group, which includes the Boston Red Sox. The highlight for Werner is undoubtedly the run to Champions League glory last season. His pick of the games is not beating Tottenham in the final, but humbling Barcelona 4-0 in the semi-final at Anfield to overturn a 3-0 first-leg deficit.

“That was the single greatest sporting event that I’ve ever seen,” Werner said. “The reaction that our supporters had in the stadium that day and around the world is something that now I’ll remember the rest of my life.”

He hopes it won’t be long before fresh memories, of even greater footballing feats are created inside a stadium.

“We hope at some point, people will be able to sit next to each other and enjoy the experience of a sporting event,” he said. “But that seems like a long way off at the moment.”

So, too, is a repeat of the scenes last June when an estimated 750,000 fans lined the streets to celebrate the players returning from Madrid after winning the club’s sixth European Cup.

“I thought I never could imagine experiencing anything like that,” Werner said. “Then somebody said, ‘Well, if we win the Premier League, this parade will be dwarfed.’

“So, I am looking forward to a parade sometime when we can all congregate because I know how important that means to all of our supporters.”

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Pulev will NOT take pay-off to step aside and let Joshua to face Fury

‘I wouldn’t accept it’: Kubrat Pulev insists he will NOT take pay-off to step aside and allow Anthony Joshua to face Tyson Fury… scuppering hopes of mega-money unification bout this year

  • Kubrat Pulev is the mandatory challenger for Anthony Joshua’s IBF title
  • He has previously accepted step-aside money instead of taking on Joshua 
  • But he now insists Joshua will have to face him rather than taking on Tyson Fury
  • Initial talks over a potential fight between Joshua and Fury have taken place 

Mandatory challenger Kubrat Pulev has insisted he will not step aside and let Anthony Joshua take part in a heavyweight title unification fight against Tyson Fury.

Talks over a potentially huge fight between Joshua and Fury began between the two camps earlier this month, with reports suggesting The Gypsy King’s camp discussed the idea.

His management team, MTK Global, are said to have broached the idea of a mega-money bout in the Middle East in December.

Kubrat Pulev has insisted he will not step aside and let Anthony Joshua face Tyson Fury

Talks are said to have taken place between Joshua and Fury’s camps earlier this month

While Saudi Arabia is thought to be the frontrunner to host the all-British clash, there have also been suggestions it could take place elsewhere int he region.

But both Fury and Joshua would need to get out of their contractual obligations to face Deontay Wilder and Pulev respectively.

Both would have the finances to do so on the back of what should be the biggest purses of their careers if they meet in the Middle East.

But IBF title mandatory challenger Pulev, who accepted a similar deal when Joshua fought Andy Ruiz Jr, is not willing to do the same again for the all-British encounter. 

The unification bout could have potentially taken place in the Middle East later this year

‘I wouldn’t accept it,’ the Bulgarian insisted, as reported by the Express, when he was pressed about the potential step-aside offer.

‘I did it once when I didn’t have to do it for him to have his second match against Ruiz Jr.

‘Everything was against IBF’s rules, but I compromised.’

Pulev is meant to have an opportunity to take Joshua’s titles at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on July 25.

They were originally meant to meet in October 2017 before various delays and other clashes meant the fight was moved to June 20 – before the coronavirus outbreak postponed it.

But Pulev insists Joshua will have to face him in the ring instead of taking on Fury

Now ‘The Cobra’ believes Joshua is afraid to take him on. He said: ‘I see how people are afraid of me and are trying to face someone else before me. That’s not how a real world champion should act. 

‘Even Mike Tyson and Evander Holyfield are coming back to the game to show that they are real warriors, not like him.

‘A year has passed, and they always have a reason to postpone, not to fight against me.’

‘There are two options,’ he added. ‘You either fight or vacate the title.’ 

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David Silva 'set to sign new short-term deal with Manchester City'

David Silva ‘set to sign new short-term deal with Manchester City in order to have proper send off’ amid MLS links

  • David Silva could sign a short-term deal with Manchester City despite links away
  • Silva has been linked heavily with David Beckham’s new MLS side Inter Miami
  • The Spaniard wants to stay longer to say goodbye and try for Champions League 

Manchester City midfielder David Silva is reportedly set to sign a new short-term deal with the club, with his current contract set to run out next month. 

The Spaniard was set to leave the Etihad this summer after ten years at the club, with links to David Beckham’s new MLS side Inter Miami. 

However, now it appears that Silva wants to extend his currently contract at the club past July in order to have a proper send off with the club and fans, according to ESPN. 

David Silva could sign a short-term deal with Manchester City despite links with transfer

Silva wants to remain at the club a little longer to have a proper send off with fans and club

The club have said that the deal will only be finalised once plans to finish the Premier League season are in full motion. 

Another factor for Silva’s desire to stay a little longer with the Citizens is to try and win the Champions League before he departs – a trophy he has not won in his career. 

The Spanish playmaker joined the club in 2010 from Valencia and has enjoyed plenty of success since his arrival. He has helped them win four Premier League titles, two FA Cups and five League Cups and made over 400 appearances for City.  

The Spaniard has been linked with David Beckham’s new MLS side Inter Miami

After joining in 2010, he has won four Premier League titles, two FA Cups and five League Cups

Premier League chiefs are working frantically to plan to return of the topflight, with mid June seeming the most likely comeback date for now. 

Pep Guardiola’s side remain in the Champions League and FA Cup and also have ten Premier League matches left to play. 

However, if Silva is hoping to say goodbye to the fans it might already be too late, as it appears all Premier League matches will be played behind closed doors for quite a while.  

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F1 bosses planning to move British GP to Germany if race is cancelled

British Grand Prix may be heading to GERMANY after F1 bosses tell Boris Johnson it will be moved elsewhere if it gets cancelled or if sport is denied exemption from 14-day quarantine on travellers into the UK

  • F1 bosses have been in discussions with the highest levels of the UK Government
  • They want an exemption over 14-day quarantine on travellers arriving in the UK
  • Sportsmail can reveal that British GP may be moved to Germany if its cancelled

Formula One have upped the battle to save the British Grand Prix by telling Boris Johnson that if it is cancelled the race will go to Germany.

F1 bosses continued to talk to the highest levels of Government on Tuesday in the hope of brokering an 11th-hour agreement to win the sport an exemption over controversial plans to impose a 14-day quarantine period on travellers arriving in the UK.

The Prime Minister is being informed of developments and will make the final call.

Formula One have upped their battle to save the British Grand Prix at Silverstone this year

Prime Minister Boris Johnson is being informed of developments and will make the final call

If the exemption is not forthcoming, the two races planned for Silverstone in July and August — the British GP and a second round to make up for time lost to coronavirus — will move to Hockenheim in Germany’s Rhine Valley.

An F1 spokesman said: ‘Quarantine would make it impossible to have a British Grand Prix this year. We would be travelling back to the UK on F1-only aircraft and all staff would be tested, making quarantine totally unnecessary.’

Sportsmail understands talks between F1 and Hockenheim are at an advanced stage, with a source saying: ‘It is basically a matter of turning the key in the gates.’

Losing the British Grand Prix to a venue that was not even slated on the original calendar would be a massive blow to the prestige of British sport.

Silverstone staged the first F1 race, won by Giuseppe Farina in 1950, and has held a grand prix in all of the world championship’s 70-year history. A decision is expected in the next 36 hours.

Silverstone races will be moved to Hockenheim if F1 is denied exemption from new travel rules

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Pep Guardiola jets back to England for Man City's return to training

Pep Guardiola jets back to England ahead of Manchester City’s potential return to training later this week… with clubs given green light to prepare for Premier League restart in small groups

  • Manchester City may potentially resume training at the back end of this week 
  • Pep Guardiola has flown back to England after spending two months in Spain 
  • City boss remained in Barcelona to mourn the passing of his mother, Dolors Sala
  • Premier League clubs will be able to begin training in small groups from Tuesday
  • Here’s how to help people impacted by Covid-19

Pep Guardiola has flown back to England with a view to Manchester City potentially resuming training towards the back end of this week.

The 49-year-old returned to Spain two months ago after the Premier League season was postponed.

Guardiola remained in Barcelona to mourn the passing of his mother, Dolors Sala, who lost her battle with coronavirus.

Pep Guardiola has now flown back to England ahead of Manchester City’s return to training 

City started testing their players on Monday, with results usually taking 24 hours to come back. They will then conduct medical and physical examinations.

Clubs can begin training in small groups from Tuesday, although not all teams in the Premier League will start straight away.

Raheem Sterling revealed earlier in the week that players ‘need a full four to five weeks’ of training before matches resume. Striker Sergio Aguero recently admitted that some top-flight stars are ‘scared’ of the impact it could have on their families.

Meanwhile, City captain David Silva – whose contract runs out on June 30 – is expected to stay on until the conclusion of the campaign.

City started testing their players on Monday and will later conduct physical examinations

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Snoops drafted in to ensure PL clubs don't bend rules at training

REVEALED: Spies drafted in by Premier League to ensure clubs don’t bend rules when they return to training tomorrow – with one inspector at EVERY base to ensure no-one gains an unfair advantage

  • Premier League clubs will return to training on Tuesday following a vote
  • The league has drafted in snoop squads to ensure clubs stick to the rules 
  • One inspector will be deployed at the training ground of every top-flight club

Snoop squads will be drafted in by the Premier League to ensure clubs are not bending the rules as players return to training on Tuesday.

A team of inspectors will be deployed, with one at every top flight training ground in a bid to stop rivals from gaining the upper hand by extending practice beyond new time limits and carrying out underhand activities such as holding tactical meetings behind closed doors. 

They will also closely monitor clubs’ adherence to rules which state only 40 people – each tested twice a week – are permitted within the inner sanctum.

Premier League clubs will be watched over by snoop squads when they return to training

A wide range of sanctions will be open to the Premier League board should any culprits be identified.

The move comes as Project Restart gathers pace – with a date for a return to be announced potentially as early as next Thursday.

Coronavirus tests have been ongoing at clubs ahead of a return to non-contact training on Tuesday at 2pm.

And it has also emerged that positive results will be shared with the public – although clubs and players will remain anonymous.

Under the terms of Phase One – voted through unanimously at Monday’s meeting of clubs – players will be allowed on the grass for 75 minutes. Premier League director of football Richard Garlick revealed that in the first instance video and GPS data would be requested, before adding that a squad of spies was on the way to ensure any cheats were exposed.

‘We are looking at bringing in our own independent audit inspection team that we’ll scale up over the next few days which will give us the ability to have inspections at training grounds to start with on a no-notice basis,’ he said after the summit.

Inspectors will monitor clubs’ adherence to rules and will be at every top-flight training ground

‘Gradually, we aim to ramp that up so we can have an inspector at every training ground. That will enable us to give everyone confidence that the protocols are being complied with, and give the public confidence that we are trying to create a very safe working environment.’

June 12 has been set as return for Premier League football but Sportsmail understands there is a growing belief within the game that June 19 is more realistic.

Two meetings are planned for next week – on Tuesday and Thursday – and Premier League chief executive Richard Masters, who confirmed that June 12 was ‘flexible’ added that the restart may well be announced at the latter of those.

‘In the spirit of openness, we are flagging up Tuesday as the meeting at which we will discuss (a move to) contact training, and then Thursday, yes, is when we will start looking at the wider issues,’ he said.

The top flight expects to have the first batch of complete results on Tuesday afternoon and will make them public shortly after. Individuals or clubs will not be named but numbers of positive tests and the number of clubs at which they have been recorded will be disclosed.

Arsenal players were pictured in individual training at London Colney earlier this month

Masters also revealed his desire to see the champions – in all likelihood Liverpool – presented with the trophy, despite social distancing fears.

‘If at all possible, we would like to have a presentation to give the players and staff the moment they have worked so hard for,’ he said. ‘We don’t want to lose that, unless it is not possible.’

The Merseyside club will hope to do that at Anfield, and Masters suggested that – as reported by Sportsmail – original rather than neutral venues may well stage the remaining games.

Experiences during the return of the Bundesliga last weekend were promising. ‘There were no fan issues outside the grounds to speak of,’ he said. ‘It’s early days yet – they have only had eight games – but it was interesting to note that.’

Premier League chief Richard Garlick said it’ll give everyone confidence rules are followed

No decision on curtailment plans has been reached. Points per game and weighted points per game are the likely options.

That matter is also likely to be voted on next Thursday. Masters acknowledged that at some point – should there be further delays – action may have to be taken to end the current campaign prematurely.

‘There may come a point when next season becomes difficult to schedule,’ he said.

‘We are not at that point yet. The June return and July finish leaves time for a break for other competitions to be completed and start the season towards end of August or very early September.

‘Obviously, what we want to do is ensure the season is completed in a way which preserves other competitions but also preserves our ability to start and deliver 38 match rounds next season in a proper calendar.’

Contact between players and coaching staff will be off limits during phase one of training

The FA Cup final has been pencilled in for August 8, which may lead to an extra round of midweek games should the restart slip to June 19.

Earlier in the call Dr Mark Gillett, the Premier League’s medical advisor, revealed that social distancing is likely to be the norm for a substantial period.

Under Phase One rules, players will have to use their own cars, leave three spaces between them and another player and arrive in their own kit.

They will also need to bring their own drinks, while communal areas and canteens will be closed. Tactical meetings will be ‘strongly discouraged’, while 15 minutes of treatment will be permitted prior to training.

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Tammy Abraham sends message to Hakim Ziyech over Chelsea transfer

Tammy Abraham has sent a message of support to Ajax midfielder Hakim Ziyech ahead of his move to Chelsea.

Chelsea agreed a £36.6 million deal with Ajax for Ziyech in February and the 26-year-old is due to arrive at Stamford Bridge in the next transfer window.

The Morocco international is expected to make an instant impact for Frank Lampard’s side following his superb performances for Ajax in the last two seasons.

Ziyech has scored 29 goals and registered 45 assists since the start of the 2019-19 campaign, and Abraham has told the midfielder he ‘can’t wait’ to link up with him at Stamford Bridge.

In his video to Ziyech which was broadcast on Dutch station NOS Sport, Abraham said: ‘Hi Hakim, it’s Tammy here.

‘I just want to wish you all the best for the rest of the season.

‘Can’t wait to see you, bro. Take care.’

Ziyech’s former Ajax teammate Matthijs de Ligt, who joined Juventus last summer, said in his video: ‘I’m sure you’re going to show it in the Premier League and you’re doing well.

‘I wish you success.’

Frenkie de Jong, who left Ajax to move to Barcelona last year, told Ziyech: ‘Congratulations on your transfer to Chelsea, well deserved.

‘Both as a player and a person you are really a winner. Just stay who you are, then you will make it there.’

Jetro Willems, who has spent the season on loan at Newcastle United, joked: ‘If you just tell the coach that you have stomach flu against us. Then everything will be alright!’

Aston Villa’s Anwar El Ghazi said: ‘Prepare well! Go to that gym really fast! You have to go to the gym very quickly, because in the Premier League they are only animals!’

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Castore spell out ambitions to strike TWO Premier League deals

Luxury sportswear brand Castore target TWO Premier League kit deals after announcing £25m partnership with Rangers as they bid to shake up Nike and adidas dominance

  • Rangers have signed a £25m multi-year kit deal with sportswear brand Castore
  • The company have their sights set on breaking into the Premier League market
  • Brothers Tom and Phil Beahon founded the luxury clothing line four years ago
  • They are also expecting to announce rugby and cricket deals in the near future 

Castore are targeting deals with two Premier League clubs in the next two years after striking their first partnership in football.

The sportswear brand have struck a £25million multi-year deal with Rangers in their first foray into the market after being founded by brothers Tom and Phil Beahon four years ago. 

It is the first step in their bid to position themselves as Britain’s top challenger to the likes of Nike and adidas, with the Scottish club deliberately chosen for their global appeal, as well as a history littered with silverware.

Castore, founded by brothers Tom (right) and Phil Beahon (left) want to work with two Premier League clubs 

The focus will now turn to securing agreements with other illustious clubs across Europe, with Serie A and La iga both being targeted. 

However, it is the Premier League where the brothers are most keen to make their mark. 

Speaking to Sportsmail, Tom revealed: ‘We don’t want to be like Nike and adidas who go and deal with a high volume of teams and only end up investing in a very small number of those.

‘They’ll invest in Real Madrid and Barcelona and ignore everybody else. Castore see the opportunity to partner with other clubs that haven’t quite been given the love, care and attention that they should have.

The sportswear brand have struck a £25million multi-year deal with Scottish giants Rangers 

‘We want to treat them as the marquee clubs that they are. We’ll probably do one LaLiga team, we’ll do one Serie A team and then we’ll do two Premier League teams in the next 12, 24 months.’

Nike and adidas already hold something of a monopoly on the top clubs in the Premier League, with the pair holding the shirts rights to four of the traditional Big Six.

Even beyond that, adidas are suppliers for Leicester, Wolves and Sheffield United – three of the teams vying for European places.

Despite the apparent stanglehold however, Tom believes there is nothing to prevent Castore from sitting down at the top of the table from the outset.  

‘It’s exactly the same as the logic we applied to Rangers,’ he said. ‘We want clubs that have an ambition to win trophies, to compete domestically and at European level. 

‘The Premier League in particular is incredibly competitive. There are only about eight clubs who would be competing for those top four places.

Castore want to position themselves as a genuine global challenger to Nike and Adidas 

‘Our ambition is to compete head to head with Nike and adidas. Our view is that unless you are Real Madrid or Barcelona, Nike and adidas do not treat these clubs in the way that they deserve to be treated.

‘As a business we have a very strong investor group. They’ve bought into myself and my brother’s vision for Castore to be a global challenger within the sportswear market.

‘To my mind, you will not become a genuinely global sportswear brand without having a presence at the very top of the world’s most popular sport.’

While the immediate attention has turned to football, Castore are working away in the background within other sports.

With Andy Murray already a brand ambassador, they are looking to branch out even further and have hinted that deals within rugby union and cricket are already some way along the pipeline.  

Castore already boast Andy Murray among their ambassadors and are targeting other sports

‘We’ll be announcing additional partnerships in cricket and rugby as well,’ revealed Tom, who signed a professional contract with Tranmere Rovers and played for Jerez in Spain before moving into the clothing business. 

‘We do have that ambition and that desire to go and compete with the very big guys. In order to do that, we want to have a presence in multiple sports.

‘We definitely think there are interesting opportunities at international level.

‘We want Castore as a brand to be worn by world-class athletes and to be worn on the global stage.’

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