Four-time Grand Slam champion Naomi Osaka is departing IMG and launching her own sports agency with agent Stuart Duguid, Sportico reported Wednesday.
Japan’s Osaka, the highest-paid female athlete in the world for several years, told the sports-business publication in an e-mail that the agency, called Evolve, was the “next step” in her journey as an athlete and businesswoman.
“I’ve spent my career doing things my way, even when people told me that it wasn’t what was expected or traditional,” Osaka said. “Evolve is the natural next step in my journey as both an athlete and businesswoman, as well as a way to continue being myself and doing things my way.”
Osaka’s contract with sports management giant IMG expired at the end of 2021 and she opted not to renew her deal with the company. Instead, she struck out on her own, alongside former IMG agent Duguid.
Both have equity stakes in the new firm, and there are no outside investors at this point, according to Sportico.
“I strongly believe in the power athletes have to use our platforms to drive meaningful business,” Osaka told Sportico, adding that she wants the agency to “be at the forefront of breaking down the barriers that still exist in sports and broader culture.”
Osaka this week withdrew from the Italian Open to reset an Achilles injury ahead of the French Open.
Osaka, currently ranked 38th in the world, has shown signs of a return to form this year. The 24-year-old reached the Miami Open final, where she fell to world number one Iga Swiatek.
Katie Taylor set to defend world lightweight title
Katie Taylor will defend her status as undisputed world lightweight champion against unbeaten Argentinian Karen Elizabeth Carabajal at the OVO Arena, Wembley on October 29.
The Irish fighter, who edged out Amanda Serrano in a thriller on points in the first women’s contest to headline Madison Square Garden in April, will put her WBC, WBA, IBF and WBO titles on the line.
She has never before fought professionally on home soil but there was speculation of a bout at Croke Park this year against Puerto Rico’s Serrano or mixed martial arts stars Holly Holm and Cris Cyborg.
However, Taylor (21-0, 6KOs) will instead return to the venue where she made her debut in the paid ranks in November 2016 to take on an opponent who has not fought outside her native Argentina.
“It’s hard to believe it’s been almost six years since I made my pro debut there so it’s great to go back now and headline,” Taylor said.
“It’s been an amazing journey so far but there are still lots of great fights out there for me and I’m excited about what’s still to come.”
Carabajal, who is promoted by former two-weight world champion Marcos Maidana, has won all 19 fights since turning professional.
“I was very happy when I received the offer to challenge Katie,” said Carabajal, who at 32 is four years younger than Taylor.
“The hard work has paid off. I’m not thinking for a second about giving Katie a win. All the belts will come back to Argentina with me.”
Full house in Eagles’ camp in Constantine as team looks forward to big clash
Super Eagles’ camp at the Marriott Constantine hit the hundred per cent mark on Wednesday afternoon with the arrival of goalkeeper Francis Uzoho and defender Ebube Duru.
Nigeria champions Rivers’ United left-back Duru was called up following injuries to a number of players including defender Leon Balogun, and joined the team on Wednesday after returning from Liberia where the Pride of Rivers reached the penultimate stage of this year’s CAF Champions League group phase.
Team captain Ahmed Musa and forwards Henry Onyekuru and Samuel Chukwueze are the others knocked out by injuries.
Head Coach José Santos Peseiro has approved that the three-time African champions have a training game against Algeria’s ‘B’ squad on Saturday in order to see a number of new and returning players in action, ahead of the official game against the Fennecs (Algeria’s ‘A’ team) in Oran on Tuesday evening.
The match against Algeria’s ‘B’ squad will start at 5.30pm on Saturday while the official game on Tuesday will commence at 8pm.
Goalkeeper Maduka Okoye, defender Kevin Akpoguma, midfielder Wilfred Ndidi and forward Chidera Ejuke are returning to the squad after some period out, while midfielder Richard Onyedika and forward Godwin Saviour are joining up with the big boys for the first time.
Israel –based goalkeeper Adeleye Adebayo was in the squad for summer’s AFCON qualifying matches against Sierra Leone and Sao Tome and Principe but did not see action.
Tuesday’s clash will be only the second-ever friendly match between the Fennecs and the Super Eagles, with the two-time African champions edging a clash in Austria in October 2020 by the odd goal.
Arsenal to reignite interest in Manuel Locatelli
Arsenal are re-igniting their interest in Juventus midfielder Manuel Locatelli. The Italy international snubbed a switch to the Gunners over the summer.Locatelli has since fallen out of favour with Juve boss Max Allegri. Italian outlet Calciomercato says Arsenal are looking at recruiting the Euro2020 winner.
Mikel Arteta was desperate to sign another midfielder during the transfer window but ultimately failed in doing so.
Locatelli could be an option for the Spaniard once the January transfer window opens.
The 24-year-old was understood to have been the subject of interest from Arsenal among other Premier League clubs, but he ultimately arrived at Juventus on a two-year loan with an obligation to buy.
As things stand, the Old Lady will fork out a total of €25m (£21.8m) next summer, providing that Locatelli hits various performance-related objectives to trigger the clause to make his stay permanent.
The former AC Milan youngster immediately became a regular in the first XI under Massimiliano Allegri, who has supposedly been left less than impressed with his contribution so far.
According to Calciomercato, Allegri would not be averse to Locatelli making a swift exit from the club next summer after making it clear that the midfielder would drop to the bench if he was blessed with a fully-fit squad.
Allegri is said to have been left disappointed with Locatelli’s inability to “make a difference” in matches so far, and Juve will entertain offers if his form does not improve drastically in the coming months.
The report adds that Arsenal could therefore try again for Locatelli after failing to prise him away from his homeland in 2021, with Mikel Arteta determined to bring a new midfielder to the club.
Locatelli – who remains under contract at Sassuolo until 2024 for the time being – has three goals and five assists under his belt from 49 games in a Juventus shirt and started 23 Serie A games last season.
Paul Pogba’s serious knee injury saw Locatelli start his side’s first five games of the new Serie A season, but he has missed their recent clashes with Salernitana and Monza due to an issue of his own.
Locatelli has also missed out on a place in Italy’s squad for September’s Nations League games due to his injury, and Arsenal boss Arteta has been dealing with a number of similar problems in the midfield area recently.
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