Roberto Firmino speaks out after FA clear Liverpool forward of racially abusing Mason Holgate

Roberto Firmino reacted furiously to Mason Holgate pushing him into the crowd (Picture: Reuters)Roberto Firmino has broken his silence after the FA cleared the Liverpool star of racially abusing Mason Holgate.

Holgate and Firmino clashed during the Merseyside derby in January after the Everton defender pushed the Red into the crowd, and the FA subsequently opened an investigation after an allegation of discriminatory conduct.

Firmino has remained silent during the investigation, but after the FA reached their conclusion on Wednesday, the Liverpool forward released his own statement.

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It read: ‘As difficult as it has been to remain publicly silent, given the serious and damaging nature of what it was claimed I said during the game, I did so to demonstrate my respect for the process and to allow the issue to be investigated in the most thorough way.

‘It is critical for football that tackling racism and all forms of discrimination is taken extremely seriously. As someone who has experienced racist abuse during my life, I know how damaging and hurtful it can be.

(Picture: PA)

Liverpool 2017/18 Fixtures

West Ham (H) – Sat Feb 24Newcastle United (H) – Sat March 3 Porto – Champions League (H) – Tues March 6Manchester United (A) – Sat March 10 Watford (H) – Sat March 17Crystal Palace (A) – Sat March 31 Everton (A) – Sat April 7AFC Bournemouth (H) -Sat April 14 West Brom (A) – Sat April 21

(Picture: EPA)‘Now the process is concluded, I would like to place on record, for the avoidance of any doubt, I did not say the word, or a variation of the word, that was claimed and subsequently reported in the media.

‘I did not use any language that referenced race. I did not – and would never – reference a person’s skin colour or culture, by means of insult, during a dispute or an argument.

‘There is no place for discrimination on a football pitch, or anywhere else in life for that matter.

FA statement

‘Having considered all of the available evidence, we consider it is not sufficient to raise a charge against Firmino. However, we are completely satisfied that the allegation was made in absolute good faith by Holgate and that there is no suggestion of this being an intentionally false or malicious allegation. We continue to take all allegations of discrimination extremely seriously and would encourage all participants who believe that they have been the subject of or witness to discriminatory abuse to report this through the appropriate channels.’

(Picture: Getty)‘I am pleased after exhaustive reviews of all the evidence, in this specific incident, the matter is resolved.’

Everton have accepted the FA’s findings and reiterated that Holgate made the allegation ‘in absolute good faith’.

Liverpool and Firmino can now move on from the incident with the Reds set to take on West Ham on Saturday in the Premier League.

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Roberto Firmino to face no charge over alleged racial abuse towards Mason Holgate

Mason Holgate claims he was racially abused by Roberto Firmino. (PA Wire)Roberto Firmino will face no action from the Football Association after being accused of racially abusing Mason Holgate.

The incident occurred during Liverpool’s 2-1 win over Everton in the FA Cup in January after Firmino was pushed into the crowd by Holgate.

Firmino reacted angrily and ran towards Holgate before he was stopped by referee Bobby Madley, but the Everton defender became irate after the Liverpool attacker had spoken and was restrained by his Everton teammates.

The FA has confirmed that they took statements from 12 players and officials from both teams, the match referee and the fourth official but claim that no-one directly heard the words alleged to have been said by the Brazilian.

A statement from the FA read: ‘Having considered all of the available evidence, we consider it is not sufficient to raise a charge against Firmino.

Firmino was pushed into the crowd by Holgate. (AFP/Getty Images)‘However, we are completely satisfied that the allegation was made in absolute good faith by Holgate and that there is no suggestion of this being an intentionally false or malicious allegation.

‘We continue to take all allegations of discrimination extremely seriously and would encourage all participants who believe that they have been the subject of or witness to discriminatory abuse to report this through the appropriate channels.’

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Holgate became irate after Firmino had spoken. (EPA)‘Holgate and Everton followed the proper process by reporting the matter to the match officials at the time and subsequently to The FA.

‘We receive a significant number of complaints of discrimination in any one season and thoroughly investigate all complaints we receive. Following consideration of all of the evidence received, not all cases will result in a charge being issued.’

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Arsenal and Liverpool target Stefan de Vrij wants Manchester United transfer move

Stefan de Vrij wants to join Manchester United (Picture: Getty)Lazio defender Stefan de Vrij is reportedly keen to join Manchester United in the summer transfer window.

De Vrij has made 252 appearances for Lazio since arriving at the club back in 2014 but the 26-year-old Netherlands international is out of contract at the end of the 2017/18 campaign.

The Serie A outfit have confirmed that De Vrij will move on in the summer and it’s understood the Premier League’s giants are ready to battle it out for his signature.

Liverpool had an offer rejected last summer and remain interested, while Arsenal are also understood to be weighing up a bid to sign the centre-back.

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However, according to The Daily Mirror, United are in pole position to land the highly-rated De Vrij.

It’s claimed De Vrij, who admits he is looking for a new challenge, is keen on working under Jose Mourinho at Old Trafford.

‘It has been a very difficult period full of speculations on my future to come to this point that nobody desired,’ he posted on Facebook on Tuesday.

‘Unfortunately we were not able to find a satisfying agreement for both parties due to various reasons.

‘I understand the disappointment of the Lazio fans very good and it hurts me leaving in this way.

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‘Even though I am very happy and I feel at home here, sometimes we need to get out of our comfort zone to achieve our desired goals.

‘I will be forever grateful to Lazio and to the fans for always being there for me, for the trust and opportunities given.

‘I have always tried to demonstrate that by giving the best of me and I will keep doing that until the end.’

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Manchester United and Liverpool handed major boost in pursuit of Stefan de Vrij

Manchester United and Liverpool are interested in signing Stefan de Vrij (Picture: Getty)Lazio have cleared the path for either Manchester United or Liverpool to sign Stefan de Vrij in the summer transfer window.

De Vrij has made 252 appearances for Lazio since joining the Serie A outfit back in 2014 but the 26-year-old has been heavily linked with a move to England in recent months.

Both United and Liverpool have been closely monitoring De Vrij’s contract situation and the Premier League giants have been handed a major boost in their pursuit of the defender.

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De Vrij’s current deal expires at the end of 2017/18 campaign and Lazio have confirmed that the highly-rated centre-back will become a free agent.

The Dutchman was in talks over a new deal at Lazio but the club’s sporting director, Igli Tare, revealed that these negotiations have ended.

Igli Tare confirmed that Stefan de Vrij will leave Lazio in the summer (Picture: Getty)

Jose Mourinho and Jurgen Klopp are battling to sign the Dutchman (Picture: Getty)‘It’s a decision made after many months,’ Tare said.

‘There’s a limit to everything.

‘We will say goodbye at the end of the season.’

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It’s understood United made enquiries over signing De Vrij in January, while Liverpool reportedly had a £30million bid rejected for the Netherlands star last summer.

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Abdoulaye Doucoure confirms Liverpool interest and talks up Arsenal transfer

Abdoulaye Doucoure was put on the spot on French television (Picture: Telefoot)Watford star Abdoulaye Doucoure has talked up a potential move to Arsenal ahead of the summer transfer window.

Doucoure signed for Watford back in February 2016 but the 25-year-old midfielder was immediately loaned out to Spanish outfit Granada for the 2015/16 campaign.

The Frenchman has come into his own at Vicarage Road this season, though, and has been the Hornets’ standout player in the Premier League, scoring seven goals and registering two assists.

Doucoure’s barnstorming form this term has seen him linked with a high-profile move away from Watford at the end of the season and the midfielder has responded to the recent speculation.

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Asked about interest from Arsenal, Tottenham and Liverpool, he told Telefoot: ‘It’s true that these clubs are interested.

‘But I’m at Watford for the moment and I want to finish my season well.’

En una entrevista en Téléfoot, Abdoulaye Doucouré jugador del Watford, reconoció el interés del Tottenham, Liverpool y Arsenal. Más tarde, en la entrevista, se le hicieron una serie de preguntas rápidas. A una de Tottenham o Arsenal dijo “Arsenal por Arséne Wenger” pic.twitter.com/EtYJxbboIJ
— Tom (@Tom_Paladecki) February 19, 2018

Doucoure was then put on the spot over which north London club he would prefer to join out of Arsenal and Spurs.

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‘Arsenal or Tottenham,’ Doucoure was asked during a rapid fire Q&A.

He replied: ‘Arsenal because of Arsene Wenger.’

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Ernesto Valverde explains why he benched Philippe Coutinho

Coutinho had to make do with a place on the bench before replacing Iniesta (REUTERS/Vincent West)Ernesto Valverde said his decision to relegate Philippe Coutinho to the bench for Barcelona’s latest La Liga contest was for the good of the team.

There was surprise that the £142million signing was not in the starting XI to play Eibar as he is ineligible to play in Barcelona’s Champions League contest with Chelsea this coming week.

But rather than using Coutinho in order to give another player a rest before Tuesday, Valverde named the ex-Liverpool player on the bench before introducing him in the 60th minute.

Andres Iniesta came in for the 2-0 win which saw goals from Luis Suarez and Jordi Alba.

Coutinho in action (EPA/GORKA ESTRADA)‘I think it was best for my team to try to win,’ Valverde explained.

‘Last week Coutinho started, Iniesta didn’t, so this week Iniesta started.

‘It’s true that on Tuesday we have another match but for me the most important thing was this match.

‘On Tuesday, let’s see, I know Coutinho cannot play, but we will do something.’

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The win over Eibar followed back-to-back draws for Barcelona and got their title tilt back on track. They are now 10 points clear of second-place Atletico Madrid, who have a game in hand.

Since making his January switch Coutino has made seven appearances and scored once.

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Chelsea preparing to use Michy Batshuayi to sign Manchester United and Liverpool target Christian Pulisic from Borussia Dortmund

Christian Pulisic has become a key player for Borussia Dortmund and USA (Picture: Getty)Chelsea are considering using Michy Batshuayi to beat Manchester United and Liverpool to Borussia Dortmund midfielder Christian Pulisic, according to reports.

Since leaving America in 2016 to sign for Dortmund, Pulisic has become a big player in the Bundesliga, attracting attention from a number of clubs from across Europe.

The United States international has been linked with Premier League giants Manchester United and Liverpool but reigning champions Chelsea have also emerged as potential suitors.

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The Daily Mail say Chelsea have monitored his progress closely over the past year and are keen to bring him to Stamford Bridge before the World Cup starts in the summer.

Dortmund are reluctant to lose Pulisic, 19, but could be tempted to strike an agreement with Chelsea if Batshuayi is incorporated into the deal.

Michy Batshuayi is enjoying a fine run for Dortmund (Picture: Getty)

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Belgian striker Batshuayi joined Dortmund on loan last month and has impressed for the German club, scoring five goals in three games, including braces against Cologne and Atalanta.

It is claimed Dortmund are already plotting a permanent move for the 24-year-old and their desire to secure his signature could give Chelsea an opportunity to sign Pulisic.

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The Blues refused to sell Batshuayi in January but Antonio Conte has shown little faith in the player since he arrived in west London from Marseille.

He failed to become a regular for the Italian boss last season, with Diego Costa impressing as the club’s first-choice striker, but scored the goal that clinched the Premier League title in May.

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Liverpool keeping close tabs on Tottenham star Victor Wanyama

Victor Wanyama is firmly on Liverpool’s radar (Picture: Getty)Liverpool are eyeing a transfer move for Tottenham midfielder Victor Wanyama, according to reports.

Wanyama has made 58 appearances for Spurs since joining the club from Southampton back in 2016 but the 26-year-old has received limited game-time under Mauricio Pochettino this season.

Emre Can has agreed a deal in principle to move to Juventus in the summer transfer window and Jurgen Klopp is scouring the market for reinforcements in defensive midfield.

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The Daily Mail suggests Liverpool are monitoring Wanyama’s situation and could move for the Kenyan at the end of the 2017/18 campaign.

It’s claimed both Manchester United and Chelsea are also keeping tabs on the powerhouse midfielder.

Steven Gerrard is an admirer of the Tottenham midfielder (Picture: Getty)

Jurgen Klopp is on the hunt for midfield reinforcements (Picture: Getty)Steven Gerrard claimed the Reds need a ‘monster’ like Wanyama in midfield ahead of the side’s 5-0 thumping of Porto.

‘I think Liverpool would benefit from a monster of a central midfielder, a holder,’ he said on BT Sport.

‘A Wanyama-type player who does sit in and is disciplined, and he would give more protection to the back four.

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‘Emre Can’s leaving, obviously Keita’s coming in. But Keita is a No 8, Keita is a dribbler, and a runner.

‘The way he (Klopp) plays he plays 4-3-3 more often than not. So you can accommodate a Henderson and a Keita.’

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Andreas Christensen would keep Virgil van Dijk out of the Chelsea team, says Frank Lampard

Virgil van Dijk joined Liverpool last month in a world-record deal for a defender (Picture: Getty)Frank Lampard insists Andreas Christensen would still be in the Chelsea side even if Antonio Conte had spent a world-record sum on Virgil van Dijk.

Dutch defender Van Dijk was linked with a number of clubs last summer – including Chelsea – but he eventually joined Liverpool in January for £75million, a record fee for a defender.

Lampard was coming to the end of his career at Stamford Bridge when Christensen joined the club’s academy as a teenager. The Chelsea legend says he always knew Christensen had what it takes to develop into a key player for the Blues.

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Speaking to the Evening Standard, Lampard said: ‘Even if Van Dijk had come in, the player Christensen is, he’d have handled anything.

‘You put a team around those players even at his age. He wouldn’t have had a problem whoever they signed.

‘I trained with him a fair bit when I was still there. We were all very aware of his abilities. He came over to join in senior sessions when he was 16 and was very impressive.

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Andreas Christensen has developed into a key player for Antonio Conte (Picture: Getty)‘Some young players were not ready for the increase in speed of the game, to make decisions and choices on the ball when they were invited to join in.

‘But even at that young age you could see he had a composure and an awareness about him that made him fit straight in.’

After joining Chelsea’s academy at the age of 15, Christensen was sent on loan to Borussia Monchengladbach and spent two productive years at the German club.

He broke into the Chelsea first-team at the start of the current campaign and has not looked back since, replacing David Luiz as the club’s first-choice centre back.

Frank Lampard has heaped praise on the young defender (Picture: Getty)More: Football

‘Chelsea take a lot of criticism for loaning players out but Andreas is a perfect example of how it’s done right,’ former England midfielder Lampard added.

‘It is massively important for the academy and the young players to see Christensen in the first team now. He is a great example for everyone.

‘The young players can learn from his application. He has shown if you do things right, apply yourself, you will get your chance.’

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The two reasons why Liverpool have pulled plug on world-record transfer move for Roma goalkeeper Alisson

Jurgen Klopp’s transfer plans at Liverpool have changed (Picture: Getty)Liverpool are unlikely to revive their interest in Alisson during the summer despite being heavily linked with a move for the Roma and Brazil goalkeeper over the past year.

Alisson, 25, is rated as one of the best shot-stoppers in Europe having impressed for club and country since leaving boyhood club Internacional two years ago.

Jurgen Klopp has expressed interest in signing another goalkeeper, with Simon Mignolet and Loris Karius prone to costly errors and failing to cement themselves as the club’s No 1.

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But Liverpool do not currently plan to launch a move for Alisson this summer, despite recent reports suggesting talks were underway.

The Liverpool ECHO say Alisson’s staggering price tag and Karius’ resurgence at Anfield means Klopp will likely turn to alternative targets if he does indeed look to sign a goalkeeper.

Alisson’s price has been touted at around £70million and Roma will not sell cheaply, having regretted striking a £37m deal with Liverpool for Mohamed Salah.

Alisson has impressed for Roma and Brazil (Picture: Getty)