European soccer roundup: Neymar denies party, Burnley takeover, Nantes send in the clowns and Slutsky sings
European soccer’s festive period is well and truly upon us with Boxing Day having thrown up unexpected results in the Premier League and the manic schedule continuing on into 2021 with the Bundesliga and Serie A returning to join La Liga and the English top-flight.
However, away from matters on the pitch, there has been plenty to keep us entertained this past week and much of that will have gone largely undetected.
From Neymar’s supposed underground party to Leonid Slutsky belting out Mariah Carey’s All I Want for Christmas Is You, here are some of the best stories that you might have missed.
Neymar party controversy
Paris Saint-Germain and Brazil superstar Neymar is no stranger to headlines and the 28-year-old has been in the news since French football went on pause because of claims that the €222 million man was trying to party his way into 2021 over a five-day period in the middle of the COVID-19 crisis.
A legal representative denied that Neymar organized a massive underground bash to welcome the New Year at his Mangaratiba villa while the ex-Barcelona player’s entourage also rejected the accusations, and he posted a picture on a yacht in southern Santa Catarina on social media.
However, the Rio de Janeiro prosecutor has now announced that there will be an investigation into the alleged coastal shindig after “multiple complaints based on information disclosed by the press regarding events organized by Neymar” that estimated between 150-500 attendees.
Brazil has been badly hit by the global COVID pandemic with nearly 200,000 deaths in 2020 and the story, first published by O Globo, has created a wave of criticism for Neymar in a productive season on the pitch in Paris where his six goals helped PSG to the Champions League knockout phase.
Burnley’s American takeover is complete
There are now six American-owned Premier League clubs after ALK Capital acquired an 84% controlling stake in Burnley with Liverpool, Manchester United, Arsenal, Crystal Palace and Fulham the other five.
Additionally, the likes of Aston Villa also benefit from American backing as part of Wes Edens’ shared ownership with Nassef Sawiris so USA influence continues to grow in English football despite Brexit’s impending impact.
“Today marks a new era as we become stewards of this historic football club and build on Mike Garlick, Sean Dyche and everyone at Burnley’s impressive work to make it a financially stable, established EPL club and local community cornerstone,” said incoming Chairman Alan Pace.
“ALK Capital aims to secure the long-term future of Premier League football in Burnley,” the statement added with the Clarets sat 16th in the table and five points clear of relegation zone leaders Fulham and a game in hand over other battlers against the drop.
Schalke’s Gross negligence
After Huub Stevens’ short-lived spell as Schalke 04’s coach for the fourth time in his career, the struggling German giants have chosen Christian Gross as the man to save them from a humiliating drop out of the Bundesliga and potentially into financial oblivion.
With Turkgucu Munchen’s struggles in Bundesliga 3 after Hasan Kivran’s withdrawal from bankrolling the club hammering home the importance of financial stability in German football during the COVID-19 crisis, Schalke cannot afford relegation.
Gross, 66, is perhaps best known for spells as Tottenham Hotspur coach in the late 1990s and Basel boss for 10 years from 1999-2009 but his last posting in Europe with Swiss rivals Young Boys ended in 2012 and he has since had three stints with Al-Ahli in Saudi Arabia and one with Egypt’s Zamalek.
Nantes clowning around
On the topic of unpopular managerial appointments, Nantes’ decision to hire Raymond Domenech in his first coaching role since leaving France in 2010 was met with derision by the Ligue 1 club’s loyal supporters who have grown tired of owner Waldemar Kita’s damaging leadership.
Supporters turned up at Les Canaris’ Joneliere training facility this week to greet the new boss’ first training session with circus music as part of the latest protests to persuade the unwanted Pole to sell up and move on from Stade de la Beaujoire.
Wednesday reign already over for Pulis
Tony Pulis lasted just 10 matches as Sheffield Wednesday manager with the Welshman gone at Hillsborough after just 45 days and one Championship win since replacing Garry Monk in November, leaving difficult Thai owner Dejphon Chansiri now looking for his seventh coach since his 2015 takeover.
Slutsky stars in Rubin’s Christmas cracker
Just when 2020 seemed beyond redemption, current Rubin Kazan coach and ex-Hull City boss Leonid Slutsky saved it for the soccer world with his sensational yet unexpected rendition of Mariah Carey’s All I Want for Christmas Is You in the Russian club’s brilliant belated festive video.
Happy New Year, everybody! Wishing you all the best for 2021 from myself and my colleagues in CBS Sports’ soccer department.